I am a mother of two beautiful girls, aged 10 months and two and three quarter years. Every day of my life, since July 2007, has been full of lessons in a role completely new to me - the role of parent, and this blog shares some of those lessons. The greatest lesson I've learnt so far is that there's no right way to parent, no one rule, you'll never know it all, so you just have to keep practicing!

Monday, June 7, 2010


Our elder daughter, headstrong Number 1, has been displaying a certain interesting behaviour pattern the past couple of months, which, after a bit of web wandering on my part, appears not to be that unusual.  Rather than stay snuggled in her comfortable bed, she has taken to sleeping on the floor.  On the floor at the top of the stairs, cozied up to the stair gate!  

As I say, this started a couple of months ago.  At first we'd pick her up, asleep or not, and put her back into her then cot.  However without fail, whatever the time and however apparently deep her state of sleep, she would return to her former spot.  We then tried the "OK, we'll help you make up your floor bed" approach in the hope that our cooperation would bring about rebellion on her part and she'd  start sleeping back in her bed. It didn't work.  We then tried removing of all bed coverings from her floor spot, but she'd just go back into her room and get them or something else. So in the end we just left her.  It is a little frustrating, carefully stepping over this sleeping bundle in the dark whilst carrying armfuls of laundry, a glass of water and a mobile phone (my usual packing I seem to take to bed with me every night) plus trying to undo the stair gate with one hand, or more usually, one finger.  But apart from that, I suppose it doesn't do any harm.

Interestingly various forums on the net suggest that many parents experience this kind of performance from little ones.  Some seem to embrace it, making elaborate "floor beds" and cradles of cosiness for them, whilst others stress and worry and take them to medical professionals.  I'm somewhere in the middle.   I've spent weeks trying to suss out what it is that drives her to do this.  Is there something in her room that frightens her?   I don't think so, she LOVES her bedroom and shows it to anyone willing to indulge her.  Is she frightened of the dark?  With the Ikea flower wall light casting it's pink glow across her room, this can't be the case.  Is she trying to get closer to us?  No, the other night when my husband was away for work, I sleepily took her into my bed when she was crying at 2am, only to be rejected in favour of the floor ten minutes later!  

I think at the end of the day, she does it because she can.  Because she has control over it, and control over her own destiny has been her number one priority since she was three weeks old.  And if this is the case, she is more than capable of taking control of the situation when she feels it's time, and returning to her brand new, warm, wide comfortable bed.

Monday, May 31, 2010


Potty training has been an active agenda item in our house for the past couple of months, not exactly an early achievement for my eldest daughter, not many weeks off her third birthday, but then again, I wasn't overly hasty in that department either apparently, so who am I to comment?

However, this particular stage in her development does seem to be hanging around rather longer than her mother would like!  The subject of potty use, displays of potty techniques,  leaving around of potty books and the supply of stickers for potty decoration has been going on for over well over half a year in an attempt to persuade our headstrong daughter to take this step towards independence.  Nevertheless, for most of that time, she decided to demonstrate independence in her own way, with outright refusal to consider anything to do with our suggestions of potty training.  

And then one day a couple of months ago, she came back from daycare and declared she didn't want to wear a nappy and went off in search of the previously rejected potty!  Mostly since then, she has hardly looked back at (daytime) nappies, and, because she'd decided to do it, wholeheartedly embraced, firstly potty training, graduating five days later to using the loo!  So proud was I, how easily it had happened I thought, it was worth waiting for and I hadn't had to go through weeks of fussing around with bribes, accidents and the usual processes involved with such a step.  But ......, I did speak too soon!!!!  

Whilst every day is spent in undies (often second, third and fourth pairs), my littlie is once again displaying her own will and refusing to do a number two in anything but her evening nappy.   I'm only too aware that there are plenty of techniques to overcome this, but they don't seem to be working with her.  Given past performance, I suppose she will probably decide in her own time, and not before, when to take this step.

The thing is, I'm feeling more like the child here than she is.  I'm bored, stamp my feet bored of this whole stage, I want it to be over, I want her to be trained,  I want to put the potty away in a cupboard and forget about it for at least a year or so until her little sister needs it.   I want I want I want!  I even make grimacing faces (of course out of her sight) when I have empty the potty into the loo (and please remember, no No. 2's yet!), something I've never done even with the most disgusting of nappies.  Why?  why do I hate this stage so much?  I don't know, I just know that of all the parenting stages I've done so far, this is the one I've found the worst.

And yet, immature though my behaviour may be at times, I AM the adult and she is the child, and therefore I must and will be patient.  I do make a huge effort not to let her see my impatience, and I hope from her point of view that I come across as a mother speaking in soothing, congratulatory terms whatever lavatorial actions she produces.  For now I will just fantasise about the time when I can sit there and say "ah yes, potty training, I remember that!"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


So she's growing up.  She's not really a baby any more, nearly one, nearly standing, nearly answering me back (mini tantrums have started, still funny at this stage to see this little soul throwing herself on the floor when something doesn't go her way, but experience tells me the humour will go!).  And I'm left clinging to the remnants of her babyhood, watching her deep in sleep when her lips still make that rhythmic sucking, looking at those ever growing legs, still curving up into a fetal position when she lies on her back and realising that she'll all too soon be toddling around on them.

It's funny, so much of me is excited about meeting her as a toddler, listening to the sentences she starts to form, being able to communicate with her and hear how she feels and thinks about things.  I can't believe that I'm about to experience all the wonderful things that I've experienced with No. 1 all over again with this little person, it's an amazing thought.  But, and of course there's a but, I loose my baby, and for some reason I'm struggling with that a little right now.  So I'm rather overindulging in all that is baby about her (mostly to her annoyance) and making the most of this last month before I talk about my "one year old".  I must grab my camera, take some photos and say goodbye to this era, and hello to a new one.  Uh Oh!  here goes!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Those who know me will know that I have a few scraps of childhood that I can't quite shake; picnics, stockings and Easter egg hunts being the main three.

When given the opportunity of the above, I revert back to the kid within.  A picnic, in my mind's eye, is always set on a sunny day and full of tupperware boxes of chicken drumsticks, scotch eggs and small tightly packed pieces of tin foil with salt inside, ready for dipping cucumber and celery sticks into.   Stockings are the start to my Christmas and I still get a bubbling buzz of excitement when I feel that lumpy sock at the end of my bed.  And Easter egg hunts, well - they transform an ordinary garden into a magical wonderland.  Yes, it is fair to say that I don't think I will ever shake off these rather rose tinted childhood fantasies and I don’t want to.

So whilst I apologise to those around me who obligingly partake in recreations of my favourite memories, I’m glad that I still have such a strong connection with them.   It’s made it all the more important to me to appreciate that each time my children run along a wall, or splash in a puddle, they are experiencing their own moments of magic, some of which will stay with them for the rest of their lives.  They might not be Easter egg hunts, or stockings, or picnics, but whatever they are, I'm excited about them experiencing and preserving that magic, their own little bubbles of happiness.  

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Last weekend we celebrated Mother’s Day Down Under.  Shops were busy pushing every and any product as the “perfect gift”, florists ran around unable to recall such excitement since Valentine’s Day and the back of Sydney buses suggested you hadn’t spoilt your Mum unless you’d bought her tickets to the local footie game! 
My husband and I have always a bit dismissive of the heavy commercialization of these days, but since we’ve become parents we’ve softened a little.  Sunday saw me spoilt with cards, a present and being taken out for breakfast, and what’s more, I loved it.  And so I take my place in the long line of mothers who appreciate being appreciated, and have made a promise to myself that I will endeavor to generate a similar experience for my husband later on in the year for Father’s Day (another occasion I have maybe too hastily dismissed in the past), as well as being better at remembering Mother’s Day’s different date in the UK (sorry Mum!).

Being a parent, mother or father, is a wonderful thing, and a role that you don’t do for recognition.  But to receive a bit of gratitude for what you do every so often means a lot, which is why I suppose, both these days have historical roots. Many countries around the globe including India, Thailand and China, have some form of Mother’s Day celebrations derived from varying historical origins.   Ancient Greeks and Romans celebrated the concept of Motherhood with festivals for Cybele, the Great Mother.  Early Christians in Europe put aside dates to commemorate mothers and in England servants were given the day off to return home to their mothers and their mother church.  In the US, women such as Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis fought hard for the official recognition of both women and mothers and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother’s Day an official national holiday (sadly only the day, not the official holiday has spread here to Australia!).

Father’s Day may have a less global and historical past, officially beginning it’s journey to recognition in the US when a certain Senora Smart Dodd of Washington was attending a Mother’s Day sermon and decided that there should be similar recognition of fathers.  The official acknowledgement of Father’s Day took many years, despite a bill being introduced in 1913, once again by President Wilson to make it official.  The suggestion was turned down by Congress for fear of commercialization.  It was eventually President Nixon in 1972 who gained recognition for the day as an official national holiday (again, the holiday part doesn’t exist here in Oz!)

So whilst it might be true that florists, card companies and commercial outlets maybe somewhat responsible for the growth in popularity and maintaining of interest and, perhaps, overindulgence of these days, they are not responsible for their origins and foundations, nor for the feeling that I get when my family say Thank You, we appreciate You.   So from now on, that’s what I’m going to concentrate on.  These days are about those who are special to me being made to feel special. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I suddenly feel like my second child has been invisible for the past eleven months, and that only this week I've opened my eyes and noticed her!   I'm not saying that I haven't adored her, interacted with her and enjoyed her all this time, it's just that so much of my conscious thought is taken up with my first - where to take her, what to do with her - I feel like I have been less than thorough with my attention to and awareness of my second.

A friend said she sometimes looks at her second and thinks "Oh hello, and who are you"?  I know exactly what she means.

So why has this happened?  Is it because Number One is more demanding than Number Two?  Is it because it's easier to relate to a child who can use language than one who can't or is it the simple fact that up until now my second has just been a baby, a gorgeous, smiley, obliging bundle who's known no better than to sit patiently in her pram or on the floor, fitting in with whatever activity goes on around her.

The  upside to this recent awareness of my daughter is that I feel a bit like a kid with a new toy.  I am getting such pleasure in watching her and getting to know her.  But of course the downside is that it's yet one more outlet for the eternal "Mother's Guilt" so many of us seem to suffer when we question whether we could have done something differently or better.

But now, as she approaches her end of her first year, she is changing. No longer cocooned in the passiveness of her infant months, Number Two is beginning to assert her own requirements on our day to day adventures.   I am learning to choose destinations that offer something for both, wait for two swings to become free not just one and ask for two balloons from the nice ladies at the local shopping centre.

For her, this is the start of becoming an individual.   From now on she has no intention of remaining invisible, she is beginning to make her mark on the world and in this family, and I am going to enjoy watching her do it. 

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I took my girls to a 4th birthday party yesterday.  The party was due to start at eleven thirty and an entertainer booked an hour later, so I wanted to get there early, giving my eldest time to acclimatize and therefore be in full swing by the time the entertainer started doing her thing.  Of course,  this didn't eventuate due to my usual inability to leave the house until well after the time we were due to be at the party (in this case, a twenty minute drive away!) and so we arrived at the same time as the entertainer.

This meant that my elder daughter did the "usual thing" she does whenever we meet up with people in a largish group, constantly try and get my attention and physically tries to drag me off in the opposite direction, resulting in both of us missing out on all the party action. Quite tiring, especially when trying to cater for the demands of No. 2 clinging to my hip too.

My elder daughter's been doing this for as long as I can remember. When she was very young, she and I would turn up for Mother's Group once a week, and from the time that all 8 babies in the group began pulling themselves up, my little lady would always try and pull herself up in another direction, and generally with me in tow.  As they progressed and started taking their first steps, her refusal to be "one of the group" continued.  If we met at a playground, I would look out of the corner of my eye with envy at the other mothers who would all be standing around chatting over their coffees, little ones playing nearby, and near each other, while I was being dragged (and I mean dragged in so much as someone less than two feet tall can drag someone well over twice their height) off to our own solitary corner.

Even if friends came round to visit us at home, I felt the need to explain that it might take half an hour or so of me indulging my daughter's antisocial behaviour before we can actually sit down and have a proper conversation.

Now I'm not convinced that my daughter is shy.  I know that from my descriptions above, shyness might well be a conclusion drawn, but from my experience of her,  I don't think this is the case, or certainly not the main reason for her actions.  She doesn't cling to my ankles or take shelter under my skirts.  There's nothing shy about her demeanour (although I'm not saying that this means that she's not feeling it on the inside).  I was extremely shy as a kid, and acutely remember that awful dread of being taken somewhere unfamiliar and or being told to "go off and play" with kids I didn't know.  I can still recall the feeling of complete helplessness and hopelessness.  Of course, my daughter and I are different people, so even though we might experience the same emotions, that doesn't go to say that we'll react to them in the same way.  However, it does make me very conscious to react constructively to her actions (even if they are a little frustrating) and try to understand why she acts in such a way, rather than purely getting annoyed.  

From a very young age, this little person has liked being in control of her own world and, coupled with a "slightly" short fuse, has found it very frustrating when she isn't.  From the age of three weeks, if she wasn't ready for her nappy to be changed, or her clothes to be put on, she would object.  This same behaviour has continued as she's grown up.

I believe that certainly a large part of her, what I find, rather unsociable behaviour when we first arrive in group situations, and in the case of today, parties, is her way of finding her control.  I am the most familiar figure to her at these occasions, and if she can separate me from the rest and feel confident that she has my full attention when needed, then she can start finding her feet ready to start exploring this new situation and what it has to offer. 

In a way this particular subject is more about me than her.  For ages I have regarded her behaviour as rather annoying, excluding me from doing what I want to do, chatting to others, having a nice relaxed time, wishing she could be more like the other children I was observing, off joining in and doing her own thing.   But I'm learning to accept, she's not like that and that's just her.  Also, often we're attending these things for her benefit NOT mine.  If I spend a little more time accepting what she's like and how she might be feeling, I might be able to help out a bit and get us both more of what we want.   I've realised that if I am willing to give her that time and attention when we first arrive somewhere, she will soon find her feet and then give me a bit of time to do my thing.  It is also not her fault that we arrived late.  I know that the earlier we get to places, the sooner she will be comfortable, so arriving on time is going to shoot to the top of my priority list!

I've also realised that it's so easy to look at other kids and think whistfully "look at them playing happily on their own", or joining in or whatever it is.  But I'm not their parent, and it's not my clothes that get pulled when they want attention!  Really I don't want her to be like any other child.  I adore her the way she is and appreciate it all, good and bad.  All these little character elements make up my daughter, and in my eyes, she's the best she could possibly be.  

In the end I had a lovely time yesterday.  I invested lots of time and interest in her when we first arrived, hoping to make her as comfortable as possible.  She soon went off and did her own thing while I managed to catch up with my friends.  Of course there were interruptions, but when I look around, all parents had those in some form or another.  By the end she was running around and the last thing she wanted to do was leave.  She chatted about the party in the car all the way home, and then pretend called her two hosts for hours on her toy mobile phone that evening when she was supposed to be going to sleep.  She had had a great time too, what more could I ask for.

So my lesson here is to remember, she's NOT a party pooper.  When I first arrive at these things I have to remember what things are like at the end, not at the beginning, and at the end of the day, if my daughter needs my help in the beginning to establish a bit of confidence and reassurance, well that's just fine.  I'm her Mum, isn't that what I'm here for?