I appreciate that you are probably one of about 10,000 brand managers who approves the use of Mickey Mouse’s head on gazillions of merchandise. I imagine that every single one of you has a desk that is probably overflowing with all manner of pieces of crap and you are driven demented with pencils, toothpaste, knickers, suitcases, lunchboxes ad nauseum. But seriously, that aside, one of you really dropped the ball this one. Continue reading Dear Disney brand manager, what were you thinking?→
I’m reasonably good at poker actually. I grew up in recession-era 80s Dublin where people didn’t go out to socialise and instead took turns hosting poker games at home on a Saturday night while enjoying a bottle of Blue Nun or Black Tower. These were the days before the nation realised wine doesn’t actually come from Germany. Myself and my three siblings spent manys the Saturday night peering over the shoulder of our parents’ friends to see their hands and were a whiz at divvying up the jar of coppers from the bottom of the wardrobe between us, just to make it interesting. My poker face was used early and often.
Yet somehow, I don’t seem to be able to throw myself back to that time and draw on those former skills when it comes to maintaining my poker face in front of the divilment of a 2 and a half year old. There are just so many inappropriate laugh out loud moments these days, it takes all of my self control not to break my shit laughing when really I should be grown up, serious mammy. Himself is also guilty of this although I tend to cave first.
Like the other night when I was preparing his bath which he wanted to get in to but, ya know, didn’t want to get in to, and I suggested he might wanted to run around naked for a little while instead, to which he curled up his fists, bent his knees and stuck his bum out and shouted in a big growly voice “NO MAMA, I DON’T WANT TO RUN AROUND IN THE NIP”.
Or on getting a huge reaction around the dinner table at the in-laws last week when he announced his poo was gone (we’re guessing he farted), he repeatedly shhh-ed us all, waited for silence, and then pronounced “My poo. Is gone” with beautifully dramatic, Shakespearian aplomb.
Not a day goes by at the moment where there I don’t find myself in tears laughing, and not a day goes by where I don’t have to adopt at least one of the following techniques:
going completely silent and not responding to an angry declaration for fear of giggling in his poor little face
turning my back and quietly shaking so he can’t see me
letting the tears stream down my face so that I can get the emotion out somehow while looking as deadpan as I possibly can
laughing into my sleeve
leaving the room
hugging my husband and laughing into his shoulder
biting hard on my lip
suddenly finding some important housework to do to my left
I’d say the child is mystified as to what’s going on when the two of us abruptly turn away from him at the same time so he won’t catch us laughing. Although sometimes this is a very effective serendipitious ending to a seemingly solution-less tantrum, so hurray for that.
I do love this age. It has it crazy tantrums that seem to be so perfectly timed for maximum fall out. But then it has the fun tantrums where you know you just can’t laugh, and the hilarious, rip roaring moments that only happen with a joyful, curious toddler that make your belly ache.
But the poker face must be mastered for the sake of all humanity! I might try counting to ten…
That’s what last week was. Some very conscious, very mindful mothering from me. Less earthy and worthy though than mantra and reminder. I did a lot of deep breathing and active pausing to think before I spoke. I reminded myself often that I was the adult here and I was the one who needed to remain in control. Because I had to. If I didn’t, I would have been shouting and possibly throwing things. I felt a hot, angry frustration building up, unlike anything I’ve felt in my adult life, and it gave me a fright.
The chicken pox descended on our house for the second time in as many years. We got away with a very mild dose the last time, I think thanks in part to the fact that I was still breastfeeding at the time and it provided both comfort and resilience to the virus. This time though, it was back with a vengeance and we had one very sick little boy on our hands with some really awful spots all over his body. His back reminded me at one point of a teenager with that horrific angry, blood-headed acne all over his shoulders.
Along with sickness came high temperatures, loss of appetite and extreme, relentless irritability, nicely compounded by the smothering humidity outside. While the country enjoyed a sun-kissed weekend in the great outdoors, myself and Pip stayed in and suffered each other. I was clearly wrecking his head as much as he was wrecking mine.
The most popular phrase in our house was “go away mama” with a wail of “mamaaaaa” following a swift second. I spent the guts of an hour on Friday night literally hopping from one foot to another, dipping in and out of his eyeline between ferocious screams of “go away mama” with flying fists in my direction followed by heartbreaking gulping tears calling me back to him. This was one of many wakenings that night and I was too tired to do anything else except follow whichever command was hurled in my direction.
Mixed between lovely moments of cuddling together and some much needed quiet time, were hysterical fits of what can only be described as toddler unreasonableness. There was no pleasing him. He wanted everything and nothing. Not that, not that and definitely not that. Go away mama! I was slapped and kicked. There were many full body slams on the ground when his temper took over. It was just insanity.
Very conscious, very mindful mothering. Deep breathes. Mutter, mutter. He’s just a baby. He is sick. Don’t snap. Don’t shout. Don’t storm. Don’t blaspheme to the high heavens or pull your hair out while evoking the vocabulary of a sailor. Like I wanted to.
I got mad once. The exhaustion got to me. My husband was away working so the absence of the other half of my tag team got to me in the end. I snapped back. He wailed. I instantly regretted it. No good came from it – I didn’t feel better and he certainly didn’t understand my own frustration. It felt pretty shitty actually.
Very conscious, very mindful mothering.
I actually learned a lot about myself. I know now there’s new buttons to push that probably only my mother could activate before. I also know that I need to hold the centre and let his little toddler chaos erupt around me. I can do it. I mightn’t like it but he’s relying on me to be the rock when he’s in melt down and to still be there – untarnished – when the clouds have gone and he needs assurance and comfort. It was fucking hard though.
Very conscious, very mindful mothering.
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