Thursday, 3 September 2015

I am busy waiting...

Lately, I don't have much time. We started hunting for a new house, a first house of our own, at the end of April. I spent most of May on the phone, my mobile suddenly required top ups every week instead of once every two months or so and five weekends were spent on viewings.

Our dear child got used to the new rhythm, even without playgroups during the week because I usually forgot about them as I was too busy waiting for a confirmation of a viewing so I can call for the next one. I managed our weekend diaries with great precision. On Saturday morning I would prepare a list of viewings, water, changing bag and snacks for our child.

The interesting thing is that a toddler on a house hunt is quite interesting to watch. I noticed that she was happy and relaxed in houses we liked. She wouldn't mind to stay in the two that became our favourites. And in some houses none of us liked, she was a great excuse to cut it short.

After a decision was made, I became busy with chasing papers and numbers and researching does and don'ts of mortgages. I became the shield for marketing attacks. Who knew that every single estate agent can recommend the best mortgage broker in the whole world? I am still receiving five property updates a day, no matter how many times I unsubscribe.

Now, many weeks later, I am sitting in our old house, boxes scattered around, waiting yet again. There is lots of waiting involved in all of the process - from waiting for the viewing confirmation to waiting for a mortgage approval to waiting for this and that paper going through and the solicitor to return from yet another holiday. Unfortunately, our waiting is bit overrated now. There is some old planning permission hitch on our dream house which needs to be resolved. We don't know how long it will take. We already gave notice on our house and new tenant is waiting. We may end up in a caravan. If we are lucky and find one. I want to carry on with doing things. But can I pack? How much do I need to leave out? Can I do a big food shop? Order books from Amazon? Do I need to research caravan sites near by and self storage?

We are frustrated. The waiting without a deadline makes me stop everything else - writing and exercising and researching when a baby group near by starts again... I can not plan a workshop or book myself for a swim because I don't know if I will be too busy next weekend. But I hope I will. I hope that it will work out. I hope that we will move into a new home and that it will be great. I am glad that I have the time to do all of this. Husband was very busy during May and June and if I was working, too, it would be simply unmanageable. And it is nice to see that our child is simply a part of it all, that even when our days don't evolve completely around her she just fits in nicely and makes it all worth at the end - we are doing it for her, too. So sometimes being a housewife is actually being an unpaid top manager/pa/accountant/secretary/the rest. And I must say I enjoy the housewife life more that I thought I would.

Besides that, I have finally a new idea for a book, no more recycling and redoing the old ones (although they do need to be re read and processed....). I may be quiet for a while. For creative reasons.... But moving first, please!

Monday, 17 August 2015

Sore hip, frozen nose and best tasting coffee

The title of my post summarises my feelings about camping. I like camping in general, but this year I dreaded it. I hoped we will not have to go. I hoped husband will decide it is not Summer enough to bother, I hoped my health problems which followed me all Summer will not stop co conveniently (yes, really, I got so used to feeling uncomfortable that I preferred it to feeling uncomfortable camping without the problems - there is no win). I hoped husband will decide to spoil me and do a 'homecation' with some decent trips and lots of time with our child so I can finally recover.

None of it happened. And we left for Wales. For a quality family time I was told. To be joined by two more families. The husbands of these 3 families went to university together and stayed the best buddies. It is great. For them.

Quality family time: husband would wash dishes few times (because I complained about being tired so much before we left he saw it as a treat for me - while he did the washing I was chasing our enthusiastic 2 years old eager to explore and after 2 days started to do the dishes as it was much more relaxing). Husband took our child for 2 walks and played with our child while we were all at the beach (I read a magazine in one sitting. The next day on the beach as a group he ignored the two of us completely as it was my turn - suddenly we have turns!). When we visited local leisure centre for swimming on rainy days husband allowed me to swim few lengths every now and then between passing our child between each other or minding her on my own. He also allowed me to go and shower by myself (bathrooms in the camp site were BAD).
Quality family time in my husband's eyes: we went to Wales and I liked it. Everybody is happy.

I didn't count husband's cooking into the quality time because he loves cooking outdoors and sees his camp kitchen as an extension of a manhood.

Why I don't think it was really a quality time: husband didn't ask me what I would like to do or where I would like to go or who I would like to go with. Everything evolved around the guys being together, drinking together, making fire in the evening and drinking together. And the kids of course, the kids must have good time with their dads who miss them a lot while they are at work (and we are so blessed to have them around 24/7). He wouldn't even think about asking our friends to look over our tent after our child finally went to sleep so he could be with me or go for a walk with me. He would run off to be with his boys the moment the child closed its eyes. He would assume that I am having the best time of my life, too. And why don't we wives become best buddies, too, and chat nicely among ourselves? Wouldn't that be convenient?

On our last day a new couple arrived nearby and I watched the wife putting her younger child into a sling on her back and preparing breakfast while chatting to her older child while her husband unrolled his yoga mat and started his Sun Salutations with a very serious expression. I realised that I packed my yoga mat, too. It was in the back of the tent and I never found the time or energy to unroll it. When I started stretching once on  a blanket my child started to climb all over me. Husband saw it, said we are playing nicely together and went to have a beer and a chat with his mate.

We did have family time because all families did their own thing at some time of the day. So that probably counts as the holiday for me.

I watched the other families and thought that nobody is perfect partner or parent. It all works out in the end. If the wives continue to put the men and children first of course.

But relating to camping, I used to hike and sleep in the tent or under the sky a lot and I slept like a log. But year after year it is more and more difficult to get comfortable. I bought nice wide sleeping bags instead of mummy, started to pack our pillows which would be unthinkable in my backpacking years, invested into a better matres which doesn't loose at least half of the air you pumped in before you even lie on it. And yet I wake up every time I turn, I get frozen arm, sore hip and my nose and face get way too cold. But the morning coffee tastes absolutely best every day, there must be some truth about the outdoor cooking magic my husband keeps bashing out about (as long it is me who prepares the morning coffee as he needs to sleep off his last good night yet again).

So all in all lets carry on and look forward the day I am making money again and can afford some time for myself only. He can mind the child and have a really quality time together.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Quiet on the Home Front

How do I make everybody happy? Ever since our child arrived, everything evolves around the child. It is obvious. But lately, it is harder and harder to ensure that the balance between child activities and house work and mine own activities is achieved.
I still remember my child being few days old, 1.30 am, baby wide awake, expecting to be breastfed yet again, right after it felt of the boob. Me, crying, refusing to hold the baby. Husband, baby in his arms, all protective and manly. Me, sobbing through tears of desperation: 'I have a right to sleep!!!' It downed on me that my rights are secondary at best. I knew it would be hard, I knew we wouldn't sleep but I didn't know it would be THAT hard and there would be absolutely NO sleep between 5am and 2am. It got better.

But always when it gets really good and we start to think we have got the hang of parenting, something happens. And we are trying to work out how to get on with it once again. For example, why, after growing all teeth, being healthy and capable of sleeping through the night, does a 2 year old suddenly decide to wake up at random hours, wonder into parents room and demand hugs, snuggles, skin contact, chat, water, whatever. Why are toddlers going through this funny stage on non sleeping for no reason? Even special toddlers like mine who do not do naps?

According to clever newsletters, in my day, I am supposed to provide love and care, educational stimulation, 3 hours of physical activity, wholesome diet and safe environment for my toddler. How is it supposed to happen with no sleep?

On top of it, my clever husband, while getting ready for his day at work, for which I am supposed to feel sorry for him because his sleep was disturbed and yet he has to go out and earn the living for his family while I am lucky to stay home, instructs me to take child out as the weather will finally be nicer, notices he is running out of clean shirts, leaves behind messy shower, empty toilet rolls, unsecured working desk in his study (so our child can climb on top of it, dismantle everything, chew on electric cables and drink ink from his refill bottle for the pen he never uses/refills but which must stand on his worktop) and his drinking cup on the windowsill with a nice brown ring around the bottom. There is certain smugness in men's attitude towards us, we are homemakers, we have all the time in the world and house work is completely invisible.

I do the chores, entertain, feed and keep alive the child, but I never feel like I have done enough. I tend to ignore my child for a while each day, trying to have a cup of tea and stare at the TV screen without noticing much of what is going on or wishing to read some mails. I wish I could do something more useful while my child plays on its own for a while, but there is no energy. I do the house work but it seems to be never ending. Child produces new mess constantly, things don't stay polished or on their place, laundry basket can not be empty for longer than 10 minutes. What stays done goes unnoticed anyway.

In the time off, we have to do what husband wants to do because it is his time off. I have all time off so I don't get asked about what I want that much. Plus there is the irrational feeling of me not earning any money so not having the right to call it a shot or disappear to do my own thing like I used to before our child arrived.

To keep the household running and make everybody happy I have to put myself last. I have to learn to be happy with very little, with stolen moments. I don't have the luxury of time set as exclusively me time. I don't even have my exclusive space to do my own thing. There is no space that a 2 year old can not invade. I am happy, I have got a good partner and a fantastic child. But part of me is missing. And I need to find the time and energy to bring it back. Because I function much better when I have it, I keep my temper, I can do more, I am simply happier. I need to be ruthless for an hour a day, safeguard it for me and force myself to do whatever I dream of doing until it becomes a lovely habit.

When I was pregnant, I expected hectic few weeks, then a slow glide towards routine and easy flow. I felt my staying at home to be a great luxury. I thought that I will write, be creative, and during the first year of my child life, I will turn myself into a super fit person I could be - no work to go to, home food, what could stop me, I thought? The balancing act of peace and quiet on the home front did. Time to reload the guns...

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Little Swimstar

I love going to swim with my child. To enrol with Waterbabies was one of our very good ideas. We started last year in February, our daughter was 10 months old. She was one of the oldest in the beginners class but I think it was a perfect timing. I wouldn't be able to commit sooner with her non stop breastfeeding and the stress of being somewhere at a certain time. Smaller babies were enjoying themselves, too, but I had the feeling that her advanced age brought a better awareness of what was going on.
We planned on taking one course of 10 classes and see what will happen next, but we just carry on and probably will do for as long as it goes. She loves it, we love it and it will give her a skill for life.

What is fun about swimming with babies is watching their surprise after every dive, their excitement when they get back to the water after a week, the pleasure they get from chasing the toys or doing funny stuff in the water. When you let go of them sometimes, there is a surprise in their face, as it is when they are separated from you for a moment and passed to the teacher. They gain confidence and strength, too.

When we started our first course, we met new people and as usually great friendships weren't build. There is always a hope, when joining a baby group of any sort, that we will meet 'the one' - the little family with a child of similar age to ours, who we will get along. The truth is, swimming day is a busy day. There is lots of logistics involved regarding eating, sleeping, pooping, packing and transport. All day evolves around half an hour in the pool. And some parents have to run off to pick their older children, too. So the group never really stays together, it is every parent for himself.

I enjoy observe people and I can distinguish a special group which I call make up moms. There is at least one in every group (I usually meet one group in the changing room, one is in the pool ending when we get there and the next group is around the pool by the end of our class, plus sometimes there is new group getting ready in the dressing room, too). And most of these groups will have some 'flamingo'. They have their hair perfectly done, all nails long and painted (how do you change nappies with these?), and full face of make up plus I assume spray tan. The make up is something worth mentioning. There are eyebrows, eye shadows, eye liners, false lashes, blushers, lips, all the jazz. For a trip to the pool. Some mums try to avoid swim and hand the babies, in their cute little swim customs, to their equally coiffed dads (either hipsters or body builders). I still remember the look on the faces of two mums when, in our third class of the first course, we were told to bring our swim goggles as we will need them to dive with our kids. Some refused to go under water, some sent the dads, few braved a half hearted face dive. I realized that great deal of waterproof make up was involved, but they wouldn't risk the hair extensions.

There are few questions I never asked:
First and foremost: when do they get the time to do all of it?
Why do they bother?
Isn't it better to have fun in the water than show anxieties about your look so early on to your child?

Most of them are very pretty, I am sure they would look great without all the slab. Why is the look so important all the time? They are probably the women who worried about how they will look after labour, so they made sure their spray tan, hair, nails and make up are on during and after delivery. They stressed themselves about the post baby weight  more than about their sleep. Their look defines who they are, I see it on people around me a lot and find it quite sad. It doesn't matter who you are and what you can do, you must look the part!
I like to make myself pretty. But I can not be bothered to do my make up every day. Not for running around the garden, going to the shop or park, or a local pool. I am confident in myself with or without my make up because whatever is or isn't on my face isn't really me. And when I had a difficult night it shows and I can tell you all about it if you want to hear. But I do wear my smile in case you don't .
I don't want my daughter's first memory to be of me sitting by the mirror or worrying about my shape. I would never let her sit in a pram in the nail salon and let her inhale all the fumes. I don't want her to think that she only matters if she looks good and if she is perfectly made up. And I don't want the world to expect it from her.

So lets hope that we will fit some good swims in our Summer while Waterbabies has a break!

Monday, 13 July 2015

The 1 sure sign that I am getting older....

I can not 'hold my liquor' that good any more. Thanks to having a child and trying to produce another one I didn't realize it. On and off I would have the single glass of wine with my dinner or a shot to aid digestion or prevent nasty stomach bug when child was sick but I didn't realize how much my ability to break alcohol changed.

Yesterday my old friend came to town and we met after 3 years. She stared at our child in the pram and couldn't quite believe how much ones life can change. We went for lunch and then for a drink... The first thing that seemed weird was ordering a bottle of wine with our food. OK, there were 3 of us (child on the side) so it did make perfect sense but there were times when husband and I would always order a bottle with our food. And drink it and feel normal afterwards.

The second interesting thing I noticed was the hazy happy feeling as we left the restaurant. I was pleasantly p***d. After some 2 large glasses of wine? I would feel like this much much later in the old days.

The extra glass before we had to say goodbye sent me over the top. I wasn't drunk but I did feel like I would feel after a night out, not an afternoon. And I worried that I will not be able to take care of my child properly. The truth it, I did just fine plus I had a nice conversation which made a perfect sense, so clearly, I wasn't in a bad state, it just seemed to me like that because I am not used to it anymore. I do not miss my old party times at all. I think there is time for everything in life and right now I am where I need to be. I had a very hectic month with lots of sorting out and organizing and a little health scare on top of it. Nothing seemed better than a spontaneus day out. It was a Sunday, after all. And my husband was glad that I am finaly having some good time and see my old friends, too. Bless. He took care of the child most afternoon so we could catch up. Sometimes there is a great reminder to why am I married in the little things he does.

But in the evening I was knackered. And I couldn' just fall a sleep. I was twisting, turning and felt all wrong. My poor body was breaking the alcohol and made me aware that it isn't really interested in doing it anymore. It was weird. The mixture of happiness, excitement (having a day out in town, going there not for a chore or a baby club in the Art Gallery but because of ME, seeing my old dear friend who didn't disapear forever just because we live faraway and lead very different lives, being out as a family with husband present, not constantly hunched over his phone - it was great) and surprising discomfort made me feel strange. My husband reminds me that I didn't drink excesively and have no reason to feel guilty, it is good to do something out of ordinary sometimes. It is just that my body feels as if I did drink more than I actually did. Maybe it is my tiredness, my sleep wasn't the best lately (thanks darling child), it probably knocked me off more than the wine itself. Oh well, back to normal and maybe I should try to see people more so the excitement doesn't get better of me again!

Monday, 15 June 2015

Stil Kicking...

I am stil here. But I took a very long time to sit down to write again. Our adventure in South Africa was great, we saw some amazing places, had lots of Sun and our dear child hardly left the water. It was great even with the annoying flights.
Ever since then I am seriously behind with everything... I should try and write about my To Do List soon... Or about the disapperance of ME and what used to make me ME....

But at the moment I am on the edge. I thought I could multitask. I thought I had a lovely clever child. Until we met the potty. I am ,right now, in the middle (I hope it is the middle but it could well be only the beginning) of the potty training battle.

Since my child started sitting my parents repeatedly remainded me that it is time to sit on the potty. When I tried to outsmart them with the new and sparkly research that up until 18 months of age children aren't aware of their bowel movement I was reminded that my mother managed everything by herself with TWO children at much younger age than I am now and we were fully potty trained by 9 months (wow my sibling and I are baby geniouses how can I be so useless now?). But they left me alone appart from the odd remark here and there that I chose to ignore. Until we celebrated 18 months birthday. The interrogations started again.

Our child actually did show some interest in the potty which we brought into the house and did sit on it every now and then but how to keep a very lively child on the potty until something happens? According to my mother we loved nothing more than to sit on the potty all day long helped by a piece of roll to chew on.
There was some luck on the way but unfortunatelly it freaked our child out and she refused to sit on the potty, was hysterical, it was a battle. So for what felt like forever we went with doing nothing or trying gently - typical one step forward five steps back tradition of trying to bring up a child. I asked mother how did she actually do it. What trick am I missing? 'Oh your father was very consistent. He kept you on the potty, he kept trying, he wouldn't give up. He was so great.' (My dad passed away at the end of last year. He is now like a saint, all his negative traits are forgotten. I don't mind. But I find it interesting that it actually wasn't my mother who did all the hard work although I always hear how she did everything by herself with no help and, unlike me, with two children. So there is no trick to be learned. Husband does his bit but he is so busy at the moment it is hard to expect more from him.)

Then I read about how they must be ready. So I was looking for the sign. And I didn't see it. Or I did but nothing happened. Or the hysterics came and I simply can not wrestle screaming child for 45 minutes, I tried it with the cot and find it too traumatising for both of us.

I felt guilty occasionally. Did I go too fast in the beginning? Did I damage my child? Did I miss some signs? Am I bad mother? Whenever we went to the baby group or to the pool I looked around to compare the children. Are they older or younger? Do they wear nappies? Most of them do. And they seem fine.

I read about the magical training pants which inspire kids to use potties. I bought them. Child didn't mind in what it should do the business.
I read and heard a lot about potty training books and their magical inspirational touch. Bought it, read it, showed it. Child loves to press the special button on it and that is about it. The other day she actually stuck her fingers in her ears so she doesn't have to listen to THAT STORY again although it was HER who brought it to me, pushed it in my hands and asked: 'Read that one!' Clearly, she only needed somebody to hold it while she pushes the YEAH button hundreds of times until I get insane.

 I would love to be able to stop washing and folding nappies one day soon. I would love to listen to something else on skype chats with my mother. Is she ready for it? In some ways yes, in other ways no since she won't realize it will happen until it is happening.

I decided to wait. To try gently. But last week there was a sudden nappy rush, out of nowhere, we didn't do anything differently, she wasn't in wet nappy for too long, maybe it was the warm weather. I don't know, but my child was red and clearly uncomfortable. So I decided to help the healing with some air and keeping dry. That means no nappies. That means potty training, ready or not.

Today is the second day of my ordeal. The skin is better. I am trying to time the number ones and miss most of them. Many places and the one person who is the homemaker and has to be here were wheed on. Oh dear. I did catch a number two yesterday and felt like a superwoman. Today I wasn't so lucky. The child tends to sneak around looking for a quiet spot to do the business. Yesterday I caught her in her favorite spot at the right time, today she changed the tactics and it took me a second to realize what the sudden quiet could mean and I was a second too late.
I bought about 20 pairs of lovely panties plus five pairs of proper training pants and they are flying out the drawer. There will be no end to the washing any time soon. But we are getting there.

I also read about the charts. We had a chart for a long time and now it is getting some stars on! And I did read about bribing child with chocolate buttons. I wasn't even pretending hesitation. Anything that gets the bottom on the potty and potty filled is worth it. And the chocolate buttons have an added benefit to them: one for each success by the child, three for each miss to chear up mummy and prolong her will to live and carry on...
I think I will dream about potties. If my child allows me. Besided anything else it keeps visiting me in random times of the night.... I thought little baby was difficult. I had no idea. It is harder now when we get used to sleeping through the night and know it is doable. Lets just carry on and hope we will not run out of chocolate buttons anytime soon!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

On the Homefront

In few days our happy little family will embark on a great adventure. We are going to South Africa, husband's homeland.
We met when I lived out of a suitcase, to travel was the most natural thing. As we settled, there was less and less traveling. I used to go 'home' - the place I paid rent in to rest, do laundry, sort my bills and haircut, to relax. And now, suddenly, there was Home. And I would view travel as a means for a holiday - a whole new concept, to travel to rest and think and have some quality time.
So my life turned upside down but in the process it became normal, average so to say. Which proves that I wasn't normal in the first place and that may explain why some very ordinary things still make me nervous. I am someone who was raised by wolves (or raised by myself).

The thing is, now I am not excited at all. Traveling changed a lot, I am very glad I had my time on the road and in the air in the good old times. Before the paranoia, the 100 ml limit on toiletries, the striptease before boarding and extra one if you have a connecting flight. Airports lost their magic, their sense of adventure, even a little sense of exclusivity. Flights became less interesting as the standards dropped with the price war between tradition and no frill.

Plus there is a child. To travel with a child is different. Our child did have to short flights within Europe and did great but a long flight is a whole new level. But the most annoying part is to get into the plain. A cup with water and a pot of yoghurt take about twenty minutes to properly investigate. Not to mention the folding and unfolding of a pram with one hand in about ten seconds while the annoyed member of staff stares and people behind you tut. For child, all of it is a game and pram in the x ray, mummy being probed and daddy taking of his highly suspicious shoes is an invitation to a great run against the long curvy queue. Lets face it. Travel is annoying. Terrorists and budget airlines ruined it for all of us.

I am seriously considering only traveling by car to Europe in the future. I believe that it may actually be faster considering the endless waiting, delays and, my personal favorite, endless queue for passport control when you reach the sweet Great Britain again (without a pram as a bonus). But with Africa there is no choice, we will have to discover what happens when two people and a 22 months old decide to go and visit the friends and grandpa.
Wish me luck....