Tag Archives: family

A magical visit to Santa: toddler says no

photo credit: operabug via photopin cc
photo credit: operabug via photopin cc

Ho ho, it’s nearly Christmas at last and just five short sleeps to Santa! A combination of my husband’s Christmas MADNESS and my own psychotic planning gene saw us book a full bells-and-whistles visit to Santa in another part of the country FOUR WHOLE MONTHS ago.

It seemed like a great idea at the time. Story time with Mrs Claus. A train ride into the woods to the elf’s house. A Christmas singalong. A visit with the big man himself. A lovely hot chocolate with marshmallows to top it all off. It was going to be magical! A Christmas memory for the three of us to treasure. So excited were we, we even debated bringing the grandparents along for the spirit of it all. But then we knocked that idea on the head because grandparents = overexcitement (not the child’s) = too high expectations = grief for me.

The day rolled around earlier this week. Bad, bad start to the day. The husband was sick, but not bed sick just miserable sick. Pip was cranky and had a touch of diarrhoea. But we were feckin going anyway. I piled the moany men in the car and off we went.

90 minutes later, with both boys napped and well rested, we pulled up at a magical winter wonderland. It was great really. Gorgeously presented place, super fun and friendly elves with cute names admiring the child and helping us out. Just one problem though. The toddler said no.

We had to wait ten minutes before our session began.

Toddler says no.

A tantrum was thrown.

Then we all shuffled into Mrs Claus’ living room for stories. The children gathered on cushions on the floor while the adults stood at the edges (at least 5:1 adults to children. Others obviously went with the grandparents plan), soaking up the delight and wonderment of the little faces. Except of course for our little Pip who stood in the middle of the room shouting “no, no, no, no, no”, then lay down on the floor and did some angry crying, and finally tried to make his escape at the nearest exit.

So we were the parents of “that child”, who was ruining it for everyone else. We left when the tut-tutting started and waited outside until choo-choo time instead.

When the train finally arrived, of course we were last on because we were waiting in a holding pen for disruptive families while the good little story listeners got first dibs. There was nearly an incident when we realised that we might have to sit separately from each other and I could feel a hot temper creep up into T’s body who was just about to lose it, but then a kind father of two little excited girls – who obviously saw it too – made his wife move up in one of the carriages and let us in with them. Thank you kind man.

The train was a huge success at least with Pip enjoying both the ride and the very authentic “choo-choo” whistle. But things turned nasty again when we got shepherded into the elf’s den to sing songs while we waited for our turn with Santa.

Toddler says no.

He was like an escaped convict running from door to door trying all of the handles to see if he could get out and shouting his head off. I tried to distract him by letting one of the elves paint a rudolph face on me. As Julia Roberts would say “BIG mistake. HUGE”. He freaked out and looked at me like his mother had been stolen and replaced with an evil witch. That was enough. I grabbed an elf, got her to bump us up to the top of the queue so we could get the flock out of there and in we went to Santa.

He was a well trained, clever Santa indeed. Recognising the danger signs of an irritated toddler, he had a little chat – which was greeted with some silent staring – and then thrust a trio of miniature cars into the child’s hand. Excellent idea.

Santa huddled us into a photo. Snap, snap. Job done. Off we went. Withered.

Moral of the story: don’t be foisting your child-like, nostalgic Christmas excitement on the uninterested, too-young-to-care child. Magical it was not.

Maybe next year though. Or the year after…

Living in a mothering bubble

Hours, days, weeks, months careen past me. The runaway train that I mentioned before is more under control these days but it still gallops on except now I’m standing on it, rather than dragged along behind it like a few months ago.

My world feels very narrow at the moment. Not in an oppressive, smothering way, but the focus is still very much on getting through the day and this involves the most basic of tasks: waking, eating, dressing, travelling, working, travelling, playing, eating, homemaking, caring (both of others and myself), sleeping. Administration of life takes place with a snatched five minutes during a coffee break or a nap. On a daily basis, my life revolves solely around my family. That’s just the three of us, not the much larger extended version. There is no conscious decision to exclude others but the day ends and suddenly its bedtime and there hasn’t been time for anyone else. It’s not how I’d like it to be but I think right now that’s just how it has to be and it grates with me. I feel like I can’t be the daughter-sister-friend that I want to be and should be when all of my energies are completely invested in the wife-mother-professional that I currently am.

photo credit: Jeff Kubina via photopin cc
photo credit: Jeff Kubina via photopin cc

I miss phone calls and forget to call people back. Sometimes it takes me days to reply to emails and text messages because if I don’t respond immediately they slip right out of my head as the train chugs on and on and on… There are people in my life who need support and care right now because life is being unkind to them and it wounds me deeply when I realise that in the fog of just living my life I have accidentally shifted them to the back of my mind only for them to bob up and down in my thoughts late at night or at moments when its impossible to reach out just right there and then. I wince when I think about how I don’t give of myself to them like I would have in the past. I feel like I am letting them down and you know, I am. This stage of my life means I’m living inside this mothering bubble and its integrity needs to be maintained. It’s overwhelming.

I’m sorry if that sounds like an excuse but it’s where I am right now. The reality is I am exhausted – physically, emotionally, tactually, spiritually. In a few years time, when my family isn’t so young and not so dependent on me, this will change. But right now, my energies are focused inwards on our little threesome who have to come first – always. I hope others understand that and will forgive me in time.

Thinking about another baby…

For the first couple of months after Pip was born, my body and mind were on a spiritual high. My cells and my consciousness still could not quite believe what an incredible experience giving birth had been and for a very long time afterwards my body screamed at me “again, again, go again”. Every ounce of me wanted to have another baby straight away.

Nine months of sleep deprivation* beat that out of me and by that stage, the idea of having two small babies completely dependent on me filled me with horror. What if they both didn’t sleep? What if they woke each other all the time? What if I’m awake and dead on my feet for the rest of my life? My heart would palpitate just thinking about it. But the longing for another child was still there, just whispering in the background for a while.

Pip will be 18 months soon and I find that whisper starting to get a bit louder again. I seem to be surrounded by expecting mothers and tiny newborns at the moment and I can feel the strength of the oxytocin just swirling around trying to draw me in. What a wonderful stage of life! When everyone around you is on that exciting and magical journey of creating the next generation.

Blogpost: Thinking about another baby www.mindthebaby.ie Mind The Baby Blog
lots of babies
photo credit: Raphael Goetter via photopin cc

But I find myself asking what exactly it is that I desire? Do I want to be pregnant again? Do I want to experience birthing a baby again? Do I want a nurseling? Do I want a small baby again? Do I want another child? Do I want a sibling for Pip?

I loved being pregnant I must say. Or maybe I eventually loved being pregnant. I found the first 12 weeks very difficult emotionally. Having waited so long to finally get pregnant, I was crippled with fear that I wouldn’t make it to the end of the first trimester. Even now, I find it hard to use the “m” word here when I’m writing as if I’m still holding on to some of that fear. Frankly, this is ridiculous because I was lucky enough to have a perfectly healthy pregnancy in the end when many don’t. Of course you can’t help what you feel, particularly when you’re stepping into the unknown and your body is changing and functioning on a completely new level.

I also had some pretty terrible morning sickness that I wished down on myself in those very early few weeks as a sign that I was definitely pregnant. Foolish me, it came in good time and stayed for longer than the books promised!

I would love to give birth again. Nothing prepared me for the life-changing, exhilarating intensity that was labouring and birthing my son. If I’m honest I think I could probably be pregnant and give birth far more times than the amount of children I’m prepared to raise. But you can’t have the first bit without the second bit…and there’s a world of difference between babies and children.

How many children do I want? Before, I firmly held the number four in my head, being one of four myself I suppose, and seemingly incapable of imagining life with less or more of us. My new philosophy – inspired by reality – is “one at a time” and we’ll see how it goes.

Yes, I want another child. At least two more, maybe (see above motto). I picture myself and my husband with our teenage children out for brunch in a local eatery somewhere chatting, laughing and solving the problems of the world (too Pollyanna?). At the very least I want to have a sibling for Pip. I fear for him as an only child smothered by the overwhelming and undivided love of his mama. I’ve also seen the burden of the only adult child when it comes to caring for ageing parents and I’d like to avoid that for him, if I can.

If, if. That’s the important word in all of this really. It was three years from when we decided to have a baby until we held one in our arms and we had to be helped along the way.

And one certainly doesn’t guarantee another but I am optimistic.

There’s plenty of time for dark thoughts when there’s definitely, absolutely no chance of another baby but even then, there’s no room for negativity. I’m already blessed with the most amazing, beautiful, loving, happy little boy and the memories of a great pregnancy and a magical birth. Everything else is gravy.

So it’s marrying the heart with the head. Who am I kidding? I’d love another baby, a child. My body has always known that, it’s just my mind that’s had to come around to the idea. I think it’s there now though.

*and the incredible power of Mother Nature. An exclusively breastfed baby who ate A LOT at regular intervals meant my cycle was definitely on hold so no extra babies for me, even if I wanted them!

An unexpected release (five minutes part two)

We took a short family break a few weeks ago. It was the first time since my maternity leave that myself and my husband were off work together and it was really lovely to spend time together, just the three of us.

The menfolk in my family are cut from the same cloth in so many ways and share many similarities that just couldn’t be learned. Both are natural waterbabies. Although I love water myself, I am a good swimmer but not a strong one and a just-slightly-too-cold temperature will soften my cough when it comes to an anticipated swim. There has been many an occasion when I have long tired of the pool or the sea and T will continue to dive and swim for literally hours. Pip, it seems, is the same. His fascination with water is boundless. The pleasure he takes in turning his cup upside down so that he can splash the tiniest amount of water around on any surface is incredible. The first time he paddled in the sea, he was so overwhelmed with emotion it took a long time to ground him back to a calm place.

Winter walks on the beach are a lovely romantic idea in theory but a battle of wills in practice and two ended in tantrums and a wet toddler who could not be dissuaded that the November Atlantic sea was a perfect playground. As a compromise we took ourselves off to a local hotel which had a great pool and, unbeknownst to us until we arrived, a mini-spa area for adults to enjoy along with their swim.

While the boys splashed and blew bubbles in the water, I decided I’d take advantage of the facilities for a few minutes.

It being a Wednesday afternoon in November, I had the luxury of the Turkish bath all to myself and as a wave of breathtaking, fragrant steam hit me as I entered the room, a body memory of pre-mama me flashed over me. It was so strong, overwhelming in fact, and so sudden, I started laughing.

A loud, heartfelt, belly-deep laugh that I haven’t heard in a long time. It was like a release of emotions sweeping over me as tension left my body. I stood in the middle of the room with my arms stretched out and let the hot steam and the smell of fresh lavender wrap around me as the laughter rippled up and out through me. I had this wonderful feeling of freedom and serenity.

Blogpost: An unexpected release www.mindthebaby.ie Mind The Baby blog
photo credit: Dennis Wong via photopin cc

If anyone had seen me they’d probably have called security.

Then the moment passed. I drank in one last breath of moist air and realised I’d had the perfect about of time in there. I stepped into the jacuzzi for five minutes to reflect on what had just happened but in the background, cutting through the din of swimming pool sounds, I could hear the infectious giggles of a little boy squealing in delight as he played with his Dad in the pool and suddenly my thoughts weren’t interested in reflection and instead were replaced with a longing to share in the fun and be with my family.

It would appear, for the second time, it just takes five minutes – five short minutes all to myself – to refresh, reset and re-energise.

Related links:

Five minutes