How do you know what you need?

When you don’t know what you need, shopping can soon get out of control.

From the moment you become ‘approved’ adopters you mentally start shopping. You’re thinking about what you may need and what you need to do to ready yourself for the arrival of your child – the only thing is, you don’t know how old they will be, what size they are, or when they will actually come home. You are mentally preparing for a hypothetical event until it becomes a reality, and when it becomes a reality you don’t have 40 weeks to prepare, you have a few weeks or days to get ‘ready’. You then fall into the panic shopper and buy things that you think you may need but have no clue if you actually need it category.

So, I thought I would compile a shopping list of stuff that was invaluable to us when our teeny wee human came home… Our teeny wee human came home at 9 weeks old, we had days to prepare ourselves, and we were 100% clueless.

Here it goes…

Metanium white & Metanium yellow (https://www.metanium.co.uk/)

  • Use for nappy rash – white for prevention and yellow for cure
  • You can buy it from most supermarkets
  • Use sparingly – a little goes a long way

Sudocrem (https://https://www.sudocrem.co.uk/)

  • The butt cream of all butt creams

Anbesol

  • Not to be mistake for anusol – completely different things
  • For teething: the liquid is more effective that the gel in our experience

Baby Dove 2-in-1 showergel and moisturiser (https://www.dove.com/uk/baby/skin-care/newborn-skin.html)

MAM Bottles (https://www.mambaby.co.uk/collections/baby-bottles

Oue teeny wee human used MAM bottles when she was in hospital and when she was at home with her fabulous foster carer, so we just continued with the same make. That being said, we have found them very user friendly with a teeny wee human with chronic reflux (GERDs).

Snuza Hero MD (https://www.snuza.com/product/hero-md/)

A breathing monitor that clips to the baby’s nappy: a genuine life-saver! Our teeny wee human was home only two weeks when the alarm went off and I had to revive her in the car. It is expensive, but it is 100% worth it!

We used this until she was about 16 months old, especially at night and in the car.

Joie 360 spin (https://uk.joiebaby.com/)

  • car seat
  • Spins so it allows both rear and forward facing orientation with ease.

Once you have the baby-stuff (creams and potions), car seat and travel system of champions (no doubt you will have checked the suspension, tyres – of course you’ve gone for solid ones to prevent punctures – and have done the weight test, the boot test and the ‘how easy is this to use’ test) – remember that you only need an infant carrier for the first 6 months-ish, so don’t invest in one if you don’t need to because those things are expensive.

Nursery furniture is a huge investment – make sure that you shop around. We got ours from ‘The Baby Room’ but we have also had stuff from Precious Little Ones. But, also don’t be afraid to have a look on Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree or Ebay – you can find bargains and there is no reason to spend £100s if you don’t need to.

Clothes are the continuous parent cost, and the cost that we find ourselves spending probably more frequently that we care to admit (I am a secret shop-a-holic for clothes for the teeny wee toddler) and anything that means we save money or get cashback can only be a winner. Here are my teeny wee human clothe shopping go-to places:

  • H&M: we get loads from H&M: they wear really well and the cost is reasonable. PLUS, you can donate old clothes to be recycled and you can buy sustainable clothing there too.(https://www2.hm.com/en_gb/hm-sustainability/lets-change.html/close-the-loop)
  • Pat-Pat: I came across this on a facebook advert, and I was dubious about quality due to the price – but I was genuinely impressed. They have quirky items, are cheap and wear well. (https://uk.patpat.com/)
  • Sainsbury’s TU Clothing: The handiest thing about Sainsbury’s clothing is that you can pick something up whilst doing your food shopping. They wear really well and are sized well too. (https://tuclothing.sainsburys.co.uk/)
  • Asda is really good for baby-gros and muslin cloths
  • Clarkes: Great for your first pair of shoes and for your winter boots, but they also offer you a voucher for your second pair of shoes (Or they did when we bought our first pair of boots) – (https://www.clarks.co.uk/)

Finding those ‘money-saving’ wins is always a delightful thing for any parent, but I think because as an adopter you have to submit your financial records, bank statements, etc. when you go through the process, you can become really concerned about spending too much, too little, not having enough money, not providing enough opportunity, someone may to a money spot-check before you ger your Adoption Order (they don’t) you can worry about the pennies (a lot) even when you don’t need to. These little gems helped to save us a penny or two over the last couple of years:

Baby First Aid is so very important: as I mentioned before, I had to revive our teeny wee human within a couple of weeks of her being home. Fortunately, we did paediactric first aid for our previous job, and even though it was out of date, the knowledge came in very handy. (https://email.sja.org.uk/sjalz//WebCapture.aspx?pID=5066&t=0)

I am a little bit addicted to Martin Lewis ‘The Money Saving Expert’ (https://www.moneysavingexpert.com) – I am not the best with money, but I am determined to make sure that our teeny wee human has a positive and healthy relationship with money: we talk about it, we get her to engage with it (putting money into her Piggy Bank) amd we try to find cashback deals, deals and freebies where we can: we also look to sell the stuff she no longer needs so that we can put it into her savings account, spend it on something she needs or put it towards a family activity.

I thought I would end here by sharing a couple of my favourite ‘treat’ retailers or self-care hacks.

Little Flowers by Sligo – One of my husband’s oldest friend’s wife is the talent behind this gem. She produces beautiful pieces of artwork (https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LittleFlowersBySligo)

Junior Bambinos – we bought our teeny wee human’s first birthday present from here. It is a lovely family run business and they do alsorts of things, from nursery furniture to gifts to garden toys, and more. (https://juniorbambinos.com/)

Raff and Ella – They made our teeny wee human’s memory blanket: it is a fabulous piece of crafting and captures a range of memories and moments for us (https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/RaffandElla)

Treat yourself to a coffee and cake when you can. Get a Starbucks/ Costa/ Cafe Nero card so you can use the loyalty scheme – free coffee every few cups. You can always ask your nearest and dearest to top it up for you when they ask what you need.

I treat myself to a massage at home every month (in a non-covid world): it is my montly treat. I found her on our local village facebook page.

I also bought an ‘Asana Mat’ and pop the meditation tunes on spotify to relax to. It is worthwhile to spend 20 minutes on yourself so that you can be the Wonder Parent you know you are!

I hope that this has been helpful – even if you take one things away from it, then that is a bit brilliant. You will find your own saving hacks and tricks along the way – make sure that you pay it forward to your parenting friends. We are by no means islands in this parenting lark, eve though it may feel like it at times – paying it foward makes the island a little less remote.

Why do I sometimes feel like my armbands are deflating?

Sometimes, I feel like this parenting business is like going for a swim and realising that you cannot actually swim, your armbands are made from spaghetti hoops which you were duped into believing they would be ‘functional’ due to their circular shape, and all the ocean life has an active vendetta against you due to you not being a native in their aquatic land. Then there are times when I am sat polishing the medal shelf counting all of my parenting wins and contemplating whether or not I should upgrade to a trophy cabinet.

Parenting muddles with your brain. It makes you question yourself as a human. And in one instant can make you feel like a Queen or a useless May Fly with no bum-hole. (I don’t know if that last statement is actually true, but I am sure someone once told me that May Flies don’t have bum holes because they only live for a day, so why waste time pooping!?)

You are probably reading this right now (Hi mum!) thinking ‘Wow! The Babytism has become almost philosophical (I did consider erudite or esoteric at this point, but who am I kidding, I don’t use fancy words like that) in its profoundness today’, and you would be right and let me tell you why.

Toddler-isms.

Terrible Twos.

Teeny Terrorisers.

Toddler Tornado.

Yes, I am talking about the Teeny Wee Toddler’s capacity to rain-down terror within moments and then flip the switch and return to her angelic, witty and delightful self.

The last few days (who am I kidding – months) have made me realise that I am completely and utterly, 100% of the time, 100% clueless when it comes to toddlerisms. You hear that phrase ‘terrible twos’ banded around like ‘hello’ all the time and no one – and I mean NO ONE! tells you what the hell they are. They merely titter and passively state ‘Oh, terrible twos?’ and for at least 4 months of the ‘twos’ I have been cockily going ‘nah – she’s a delight’…Oh how I was wrong!

So, I am going to share our version of the ‘Toddler-isms’ AKA the ‘terrible-twos’ so you don’t question a) your sanity, b) your parenting ability, c) the inner torment and conflict you have as you battle the desire to pacify, scream and have a considered, logical and pragmatic conversation about what merits acceptable behaviour with a two-year old who finds farting hilarious.

  1. Terrible-twos DO NOT look like the Tasmanian Devil: they do not rip through your home destroying all furniture, doors, wall paper and precious items – they are far too clever for such deliberate and obvious destruction.
  2. They appear when you do not expect them and will occur over the most insane things. Here are some of my favourites:-
    • ‘I want yoghurt’. Give yoghurt. ‘No, I want Yoghurt’. I have given you yoghurt. ‘Noooooo! I want yoghurt’ (and so it continues…you can get the picture)
    • ‘I don’t like that one’. That is good, as you weren’t having that one. ‘But I don’t like that one.’
    • Decides they no longer want their dinner, have clearly pushed it away and has said ‘finished‘. So like all parents you decide not to waste food and go to eat it, you place one small bit in your mouth to be met with ‘miiiiiiiiiinnnnnnneeeeee!‘ and the active attempt to prise it from your mouth.
    • You have the audacity to go to the toilet NOT on their time-frame!
  3. Emotional out-pouring can be joined with wind-milling of the arms or, what I have fondly termed, ‘wanging’ of the arms which can result in you being struck as part of collateral damage, or them choosing to hit their own chest in almost an ape like action or, my least favourite, face slapping – their own, not yours.
  4. The silent throw-down. Now this is becoming one of my personal faves! It is everything you hope a toddler-trum will be – body fully outstretched along the floor, arms above head, them face down – but silent. I see this as the ultimate ‘fuck off’ to me, especially in the morning when we are trying to leave the house to go to nursery and work and all I have suggested is ‘shall we brush your teeth?’
  5. The biggest gift the Toddlerism can offer you, is that they are capable of pulling out the Jekyll & Hyde card so quickly and with such skill, that to others they appear as though they are a cherub sent from the angels to sprinkle and glitter on all that come into contact with them: at all times!

Now, I am not saying that our Teeny Wee Toddler is not an absolute delight, I mean, she is my child: she is a joy! And we are very fortunate that the Teeny Terroriser has not taken permanent residence in the body of our Teeny Wee Toddler, nor has sought to seek refuge in our home, but the extreme balances of behaviour can leave me and he feeling as though we are utterly clueless and that her behaviours are anything other than ‘normal’. I think that, like so many parenting adventures, we feel as though we have to look like our children are perfect (who am I kidding, ours is!) and that we know what we are doing, that we have our shit well and truly together, so much so it only attracts glitter. The reality is, we are all winging it! Our children can behave like teeny tiny monsters and we can feel as though we are losing the plot because we don’t know what to do, but I am pretty certain that there is not a parent alive – past, present, or future – who doesn’t feel like that at least once a day.

We have got to stop masking these moments, and share them so we don’t feel as though we have been left on an island with the water getting lower, but we feel as though we are getting further and further away from other people.

Memories will always surpass the milestones

Memories will always surpass the milestones when the milestones stop being the thing that is significant, the memory created by them will last when you are light-years away from when the milestone happened.

From the moment our teeny wee human’s come into the world, we mark each significant moment as a milestone: something that has been mastered or achieved by a certain point in their life. Whether that is age, teething, speaking, rolling over, crawling, walking, sleeping, weaning, potty training, toilet training, etc. they are things that we deem as monumental in their short, but incredibly significant, lives. For the teeny wee human, they don’t care, they are just busy growing and mastering being a living, breathing entity in their own right, but for us, their universally trusted parents, these milestones signify something so much more. They are the milestones that become ours and become something so much bigger than a moment in time, they get popped into the mental filing cabinet, squirrelled away into the deep recesses of our brains to become our network of memories: things that we carry with us (good or bad) until we are old, wearing paisley, sporting a purple rinse and smelling of moth-balls or wee, and always with a Werther’s Original to hand – because that it what the adverts tell us (a very generalised sweeping description of the elderly: not disrespectful, just my life goal).

To make a HUGE generalisation (it is where I am today – generalisation central), I am assuming that when you decide you are going to birth your own human you go through a series of moments – and in my head/ limited experience, they go something like this:

‘Darling, shall we have a child?’

‘Why of course Pumpkin, sounds like a delightful idea, lets!’

Flash forward several weeks and a very thrilled husband as they feel as though all their Christmases have come at once as there hasn’t been a single headache, evening of feeling too fatigued or legs not having been shaved. They have managed to impregnate their woman and have achieved what all men are pre-destined to do: be manly men and spawn a sire.

‘Darling, I am late…’

‘Well you should have set an alarm, I am always telling you about your time keeping.’

‘No, no. You mis-understand. I am LATE.’

Cue pee on stick moment (and hand – I don’t know about anyone else, I think I spent more time pissing on my hand when we tried to produce a human through biology that I did peeing on a stick)

‘It’s positive! Hurrah! We are having a child.’

More time flashing forward and the milestones are (assuming: as this is all a mystery to me as I won’t ever experience this) triggered by scans, weeks, maternity pants, birthing plans, NCT classes and midwife appointments – all marking sighs of reliefs, building joy and excitement, days & weeks counting down until the arrival of your teeny wee human. A miracle. (It totally blows my mind that people grow humans, keep them safe and cosy until they are ready to welcome the world, and that the body is able to do what it needs to do: mind blown – awesome)

And then the ‘normal’ teeny wee human milestones commence.

For us, as Adopters, the milestones and moments deviate from this plan. For many they go something like this:

‘Darling, shall we have a child’

‘Why of course my love, I couldn’t think of anything more wonderful’

Flash foward several weeks and months, a bathroom full of ovulation sticks, phones with every ovulation app on, an air of disappointment and failure….and a husband who thinks that Christmas has come early as he is doing what he needs to do when he needs to do it: he is taking it for the team and doing it like a champ.

Followed by ‘Darling, I don’t think it is working, shall we go to the Dr’

… And then you make the appointment, walk the green mile to the Dr who smiles knowingly that one of you is a defective typewriter (usually an accusatory glance at the woman as she will be the one that is going to prodded and poked first – and not in a fun way) – oooo, but which one! It is like guess who but with less faces – and then it is blood tests and hope ebbing further away.

A few trips to the fertility clinic (and the mental scripting of a Woods & Walters sketch), whirls around the block with various fertility options before you arrive at adoption.

For us, Adoption was always plan A – we were side tracked to the biological back up plan due to time, circumstances and feeling a little pre-adoption deflected. We then discovered that biology was not going to happen as I am a defective typewriter and have uncooperative ovaries, so we then returned to Adoption – the way it was supposed to be for us.

Once you finish your biology moments (or milestones) you hit the Adoption ones

  • information event
  • registering with an agency
  • start stage one
  • start stage two
  • adoption panel
  • being found for/ finding your child

And then from this point, it all depends on your path: traditional adoption or ‘early permanence/ foster-to-adopt’ (it is easier for us to reference our milestones here as they are so different for each couple and we didn’t travel the traditional route)

They go:

  • excitement mixed with panic as it is all happening so quickly and you have realised that you don’t know the first thing about being a parent, you don’t even know how to work arms and you don’t have anything, and you only have days to get baby ready
  • serenity and calm
  • introduction
  • transition
  • Being taught how to work the arms, change nappies, make a bottle, feed, burp, navigate poo, and writing shopping lists
  • moving home
  • social worker visits
  • IRO visits
  • more social worker visits
  • resolution hearing
  • placement order hearing
  • matching panel
  • apply for adoption order
  • adoption order preliminary hearing
  • adoption order final hearing
  • wait for any possible appeals for the next 26 days
  • Celebration hearing
  • Woo Hoo ‘We are Family’.

And sandwiched between all of the those little adoption milestones you have the awesome parenting ones too. The teeny wee human is now 9, 10, 12 weeks old, they are 4 months, they have rolled over, started to crawl or cruise the furniture, they are babbling and sleeping through the night.

The significance of the Adoption milestones don’t disappear after you are a family, they just tend to dissolve into the mass of memories that have neither date or anchor but you know happened because they lead to you becoming a whole. There are certain milestones in that crazy journey that you hope will stay fixed and rooted to a date because they seem as though they are moments too important to be left rudderless in a sea of other awesome moments, but I fear that they will as the years turn into decades, and decades turn into lifetimes surpassed by new generations and new milestones.

Tomorrow, 24th January 2021 will mark two years since we had our moment in court to have a judge officially declare that we are, and will always be, a family. It seems as though lifetimes have passed between then and now, but I would like to think that the 24th January will always be a day that we mark in some way or another. In the same way the 20th December will always be the day that we were told that the judge agreed that we were our teeny wee human’s parents and could be forever.

It is important that as parents we don’t punish ourselves if we don’t remember dates and times, because those milestones, those memories, don’t belong to time, they belong to us and they are ours forever – until we are old, sporting a purple rinse, wearing paisley and smelling of moth-balls and wee, and are always carrying a Werther’s Original that we just have to suck on until oblivion because our teeth are no longer our own.

Is it every OK to use the C word in November?

Photo by fotografierende on Pexels.com

It is 40 ish days till Christmas…where has the year gone?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I do not love Christmas. This is not because I am Scrooge – if we are really honest, we are all a little bit Scrooge – it is because Christmas has lost its sparkle. I think it has lost its sparkle for many reasons: but I think the biggest reason it has lost its sparkle is because it has got lost.

We all know that 2020 has been rubbish.

We all want something to look forward to. It isn’t like we can book a holiday somewhere exciting without worrying about hearing those words: cancelled, postposed, rescheduled or quaratine. So, more than ever we need Christmas! We need it to be the beacon that it once was: that beacon of hope, that things will get better, that we will be able to see our loved ones.

So, for 2020, using the C word in November is perfectly acceptable.

(possibly not the selling of minced pies and Christmas puds – still too soon)

With all that in mind, I did want to use the platform I have in the Babytism of fire to share some ‘shopping’ places with you…I want to champion friends and small business this Christmas – that is not because people haven’t been struggling who are part of big business, it is because I think more than ever we need to support our small businesses, the independents, and the people who are taking a punt and trying to fulfil an ambition or dream.

So, here is goes…

For cards, stationary, art work and more, check out LittleFlowersbySligo on Etsy. A very talented friend of ours is the artist behind this shop – she produces some truly beautiful things https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LittleFlowersBySligo

For t-shirts, jumpers, bags and more check out AbseilersView on Etsy. This shop is personal, it is my husband’s little side-venture: all the items have pictures he has taken whilst at work over the years. https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/AbseilersView

I stumbled across this little Etsy shop, The Natural Crayon Company, due to them being from our local area and posting on our local facebook page. They create natural crayons: a great present for the teeny wee creatives in your family or friendship cirlce. https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TheNaturalCrayonCo

I am also a huge fan of Junior Bambinos – it is a family run business and they are delightful. Their products are gorgeous and they are so helpful. https://juniorbambinos.com/

I think finding presents that keep teeny wee humans entertained for hours, rather than for a few minutes is really difficult. I really like Tech Will Save Us https://www.techwillsaveus.com/ They specialise in STEM toys for children, and I think that you have an inquisitive wee human, these are just brilliant. (They also have free downloadable worksheets and activities too)

These are just a few of the places I will be looking for Christmas prezzies this year. Keep an eye on your facebook, twitter and insta feeds for friends and families championing local businesses, or their own independent ventures.

Last year, a friend of ours said at Christmas they give ‘something to read, something to wear and something to play with’ to their children, and I really liked this. Christmas shouldn’t be about excess, and we shouldn’t feel guilty for not ‘spoiling’ our children with stuff.

We all, however know, that Christmas is tough for a lot of people for a lot of reasons, and this year, more people will find it tougher than years before. Remember, Christmas is not about presents, it is about being present. It doesn’t matter how much you spend, it is about spending time with the people you hold close, to show charity and compassion to others and to make memories with your nearest and dearest.

We don’t know what Christmas will hold for us this year. Will we get to see our parents and sibilings, nephews and nieces? The one thing that we do know is that we will make memories as a family.

** If you are able to, this Christmas, try to make a food donation or a family meal sponsor to your local foodbank or mission. We have done this for the last few years and it is the part of Christmas that warms the cockles of my heart and reminds me what Christmas really is about. It is also a lesson I want the teeny wee toddler to learn – Christmas is about charity, kindness and thinking of others.**

We all know telling lies is wrong…

Except when it means you don’t have to listen toTwinkle Twinkle Little Star’ again…

Now, we all know what happened to Pinocchio when he told a fib or a lie: his nose grew, sprouted greenery and welcomed the arrival of a friendly woodpecker. The idea being, that if you lie, you will be found out because you can’t hide them forever…but the one thing that Gipetto didn’t count on was that the teeniest of tiny humans believe you!

Now, I am not advocating lying: we all know that if you lie your bum will fall off, but when it comes to the repetitious nature of entertaining toddlers, I think a teeny tiny manipulation of the truth is permissable.

The teeny wee toddler has a penchant for repetition much to our annoyance.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star becomes the re-birth of the solar system.

The Lie.

The star has burnt out and we are awaiting the re-birth of a new star: it has probably happened but light hasn’t travelled fast enough yet for it to reach us.

Lava. Lava. LAAAAAAVAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

If you are not familiar with this delightful 6 minute short on Disney+ you are missing something truly charming – however, it being repeated 5 times with an emotional ‘Laaavvaaaa’ when it ends, is something you want to avoid before nursery, after nursery, during dinner, after dinner, before the shower, in the shower, before bed, at bed….

The Lie.

Lava is broken. It may be fixed over the weekend.

Not completely untrue: it is about a volcano becoming extinct and falling into the ocean (fair enough the volcano does erupt and return to the surface of the ocean, but if we stop the narrative at the point of extinction – not completely untrue)

Moana!

The Lie.

She has gone on holiday. Again, not a complete lie. She does embark on a cruise across the Pacific. The fact that she sings a ditty or two whilst cruising doesn’t matter, she is on her hols and doesn’t need to worry about entertaining the masses.

The other Lie.

Moana has lost her voice: the salt air and all the singing has put a strain on her vocal chords and she needs to rest. She should be able to belt out a ‘How Far I’ll Go’ in a couple of days.

And of course, we can’t forget the joy of Frozen and Frozen II on repeat…it’s a delight! a delight I tell you!

The Lie.

Frozen has defrosted. Again, not 100% untrue – Elsa does realise that she can get in control of her frosty disposition and stop the world from being a tad chilly, so she does defrost it (minus the scraper and cold hands).

And of course, we can’t forget the refusing to eat food (of any sort) or being a bit stroppy with ones food choice (a favourite moment of mine) and gentle coersion doesn’t always work, nor the theme tune to Star Wars.

The Lie.

Pretending that the food is talking to you in the form of a whisper and that by eating it, the teeny wee toddler will be enabling them to fulfil their food-based destiny. And, more importantly, she has a duty to allow them to feel loved, unlike the runaway pea who was not loved anymore as he had been on the floor.

As grown ups we know that lying is wrong. We could argue that it is a moral sin, and every time we fall into the trap of telling a fib, lie or untruth we are merely putting ourselves onto the downward spiral and our crown will slowly fall and lose its sparkle. But, if it means that our teeny wee toddlers are able to stay blissfully happy, the tantrums and throw-downs don’t happen, then I am happy to wear my tin crown as a necklace and try to find my morals somewhere else.

There is however a perfect irony that we teach our children about lying by lying through our face holes, but I guess as long as we don’t lie about the big things: you know the super important things, then we aren’t really being bad humans.

When the island starts to rebel

It’s OK to ask for a life-jacket

St Pierre Island – Seychelles

Sometime you feel like you’ve fallen into the water and there isn’t an armband in sight

As we all know, the world has decided to go slightly bonkers, and when I say ‘world’ I mean that Mother Nature has got her bloomers into a bunch and is throwing some serious smackdown onto we mere mortal folk.

Over the last 37,000 Wednesdays, we have been in some form of ‘limbo’. Lockdown, not lockdown, bubbles, groups of six, new normals, inside, not inside only outside, lockdown but not lockdown – but if there is one certainty that has occurred it is that we mere mortals have been effected by the ass kicking that Mother Nature is giving the world.

As you, my loyal readership (hi mum) know, my Babytism has always been about the life and times of a new parent, and I have decided that the term ‘new’ applies throughout the parenting journey. When you become a parent, you are a ‘new parent’ because you haven’t been a parent before, or the teeny wee human you have become a parent to, is brand spangly new to you.

But, I think you are a ‘new parent’ at each developmental stage.

I am a new parent to a 2 year, 7 month and 3 day old and I am about as clueless as I was 2 years, 4 months and 22 days ago. I am new because I haven’t parented this teeny wee human before and I am learning how to do this on a day-by-day basis.

Now, parenting a toddler is like trying to grab hold of an icecube with soapy hands whilst trying to stay balanced on a pogo stick, you may have it sussed for a second and before you know it, that slippery little sucker throws you a curve ball and you are left holding onto the single thread you have holding it together.

And this evening, this was me. My thread snapped and whipped me right across the chops leaving me sobbing into the towel hanging from the bedroom door as my fellow Big swooped in to save the day.

I think that parents (the collective noun version) are really good at appearing as though we have our shit together and like we are living the dream life on our perfect desert island: maybe occasionally basking in the sun whilst partaking in a refreshing Pina Colada from a freshly picked coconut. It is almost as if admitting the desert island is far from perfect, and in actual fact, the island rebelled and threw us to the sharks, would be like declaring loud and proud that you are ‘a shit parent’ – but in reality, it doesn’t. We all struggle. We all have those moments when you feel as though you have failed all parenting tests in the space of one ‘stop it’, ‘eat your dinner’, ‘if you do that once more you are going on the naughty step’, mixed in with the raised voice, sharp tones and steely glares (not the Blue Steel ones – they are for our selfies and insta posts). Admitting it doesn’t make you a terrible person, it makes you human.

This evening, I got thrown to the sharks and had several coconuts and maybe the occasional boulder thrown at me by some hostile and slightly fatigued monkeys with a point to prove. It didn’t seem as though I could do anything right this evening and as a result I was greeted with the boohoos, waving frustrated arms and hysteria. Having woken up at 5.20am to a crying toddler, a tired husband and all the shouting: followed by working a full day, and returning home to welcome a hysterical todder (hysteria caused by the fact that Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was not longer playing) with a husband going out to work on nights, my resilience, forcefields and general mum-ness was at its lowest ebb and I descended into what could only be called a blubbering lump of grossness.

My forcefield faltered so much that I called my fellow Big who was on his way to work a night shift crying – to the point that he turned the van round and came to rescue me from the crying toddler (and crying me). Once he managed to save the day, calm the teeny wee 2 year old and get me to calm the crap down and remove my face from the towel I was sobbing into, he left (again) to go to work.

So, I managed to snap my bloomer elastic and get my mum-ness back, in time to wave goodbye to the ‘pooow pooow’ and head back up the apples and pears to bedfordshire.

Now, all week, bedtime has been textbook, and I mean TEXTBOOOK – bottle, bed, tuck in, nan night, love you, see you in the morning – win! Tonight, the textbook was thrown into the water off the island with me.

Tonight we went ‘bottle, bed, boohoo, toilet, bed, tuck in, nan night, love you, see you in the morning…WIN…or so you think!

Boo hoo, upstairs, tuck in, nan night, love you, see you in the morning…DELAYED WIN but a win all the same… or so you think!

Boo hoo, boo hoo, upstairs, tuck in , nan night, love you, see you in the morning…This is like going into extra time at a semi-final when no one has scored and it could mean that you have to have a rematch and your star player has decided that a hang-nail really is a reason not to play…or so you think!

Boo hoo, boo hoo, booooooooooooo hooooooooooo, bottle, tuck in, nan nigh, love you, see you in the morning, and……..SLEEP! Victory!

In spite of my victorious (eventually) moment of putting the teeny wee toddler to bed, I am still feeling far from successful, and that is because I do feel as though I failed as a parent on an epic scale. I shouldn’t have allowed the hysteria and tears to escalate as it did. I am the adult. I should have been able to calm the teeny wee toddler, but instead I became hysterical in need to of help.

The ass kicking that Mother Nature is giving the world at the moment is having an impact on everyone. In a strange way, it is having a pop at my resilience in my ‘mum role’ because the rest of my world is bobbing a long in a ‘new normal, lockdown, not lockdown, virtual, hybrid, not lockdown, lockdown’: I guess lacking control in most aspects of your world will impact the part of your world that you thought you had control over.

So, in a nutshell: when your island rebels and throws you to the sharks – stay calm, and ask for a life jacket, or at the very least armbands. It will be OK and you will find your way back to your Pina Colada, deck chair, comically large sun hat and your version of perfect.

Two year olds are just irrational

tantrum-500

In April, she who is teeny and wee turned 2 years old.  Now, I had always heard about the ‘terrible twos’ and thought that they were old wives tales, things of folk law and of a bygone time – but I am starting to believe that there may just be some truth in them.

I know that we are very lucky because she who is teeny and wee is a delightful human (evil genius, but delightful), but something happened around the time she turned two (I think it was more like 18 months but I am not going to quibble over a couple of months – and for the purpose of this blog it needs to be two, otherwise, what is the point!) she began to throw down like a complete diva.  I am not talking DIVA as in where is my tiara, I want a pony and fetch me the butler (aka mum).  Nope!  I am talking about complete and irrational meltdown over the most ridiculous things.  As parents we have to try to ride the tantrum wave like pro-surfers, but it is really difficult when you are thinking ‘Come on! You can’t really be asking where the Babybell has gone when you have literally just eaten it.’

So, these are some of my favourite ‘meltdowns’

  • Daddy! Work! (this is a daily occurence, which we feel the need to repeat many, many times)
  • She wants to brush her teeth and she must has paste! PASTE! PASTE!
  • She wants a topatoe (obviously that is a tomato – then she gets a tomato and proceeds to spit it out)
  • She wants a banana – you give her the banana and she doesn’t want it because it is dirty (that would be the brown seeds in the middle of the banana, not dirt)
  • She wants a seasaw (we bought the seasaw, we carried the seasaw to the car, we put the seasaw in the boot and she cried for 10 minutes because she wanted the seasaw)
  • She can’t put her socks on, but she doesn’t want help putting the socks on.  You give help and she throws the sock that she wants on her foot, until you express no interest in the sock or her foot.
  • She wants her shoe on, but then she doesnt want it on her foot.
  • She wants to get out of the paddling pool but then she doesn’t as soon as she is out.
  • And my absolute favourite – she doesn’t want to go in the shower, but then she doesn’t want to get out either.
  • And lets not ignore the ‘no! I don’t want to go on the potty, but then she won’t get off the potty once she is there.

The wonderful thing about these expressions of irrational frustration, is that she can go from 0 – 120mph in seconds.  We can have tears, snot and general face goop, the bottom lip and whilst mustering a feigned wah-wah.  But, as soon as they begin they are over, it is only when frustration is combined with hanger on a level that no human has ever experienced before.  Then the only thing that can appease the tiny 2-year old is food.

I do find myself slowly melting into the floor if she throws down in public, but I always listen to the teachings of Super Nanny, for she is wise – commit to the naughty step. And I must say, both Sainsburys and Debenhams have been witness to the teeny wee human being put onto the naughty step.  I do worry about the glaring looks and the scoffing and the mother who cannot control her diva child, but then I adjust my crown, dust off my robes and think ‘at least I am not bribbing the tantrum to stop, and I am trying to support she who is teeny and wee in navigating and regulating her behavioural responses’.  And, whatever we as parents try to do to help deal with the tiny divas that we live with, whether it is time out, time in, naughty steps, bribery or general pleading (and we have all been there), we are all trying to do the best we can so that when the tiny humans are not so tiny any more, that they are able to function in the real world without having a throw down in Morrisons between the cheese and the fruit juice, or at their work desk next to Deborah.

And just like that, a small ripple was formed…

untitledThe Babytism was created the moment she who was teeny and wee came home, and it was simply a way for me to process the new version of me and the situation we were in (situation sounds like some sort of predicament, but it wasn’t and isn’t – it is just the only word I can find in my brain at the moment – blame Covid – no I haven’t had it, but I feel the Brexit blame option has moved on slightly): call it the ramblings of she who is clueless and figuring life out.  It has been a little over two years since that moment, and I feel that the Babytism is starting to morph and change just a little bit.

So, what is it now?

It is still the ramblings of the clueless – me.  And it is still a tap-dance into the daily/ weekly exploits of she who is teeny and wee but growing (she has learnt how to sshhhhhhh! and feels that it is OK to say ‘Mummy! Shhhhhh’ with the finger to the lips to reinforce the sentiment, whilst I am singing in the car.  I feel conflicted: proud at her ability to communicate so effectively, but slightly concerned that she doesn’t identify musical brilliance when she hears it.) But, I feel that the Babytism is more about me navigating life as the professional/mum hybrid (yes, like the car – the perfect symbiotic relationship between the teacher, ambitious, driven me and the swan-esque, clueless, head up my arse 99% of the time, trying to work out how to be the best mum-me, in awe of my child’s genius (says every parent ever, but really, she is!), trying to do the best I can as a parent me) and being utterly and unashamedly honest about it (struggle isn’t a dirty word – unlike ‘moist’ that isn’t ok), whilst being an advocate about adoption in a professional setting and for adopters – and in doing this, being an advocate for adoptees in educational settings through creating wider understanding of it.

What have I learnt recently?

I am ambitious.

I do want it all.

I will not apologise for it.

And, I struggle with balancing my own ambition and being a mum.  I worry that by not being ambitious enough that I am doing myself and our teeny wee human a disservice; but by being ambitious, I am not being mum enough.  It it like being on a tight-rope with a 20KG weight on one side and 4 bags of food shopping on the other with no idea where you have put the eggs so you are worried you are going to unpack the shopping and find them smashed and useless to man and beast.

I find that when I listen to other mums that I know, I worry that I am not the same as them (I know we are all different), but they are happy being ‘stay at home parents’ and I was so unhappy staying at home (I was pre-parenthood and it was the school holidays – I want to be busy, out, doing stuff) I wasn’t unhappy being a mum – I love being a mum (our teeny wee human is awesome), but I wanted to be able to feed my own desire for mental stimulation whilst navigating parenthood and I just couldn’t do it – I was unable to balance the scales.  I wanted to get to back to work, but that doesn’t mean that I wanted to be away from she who was teeny and wee.

Now I am back at work, I feel that I get the best of both worlds, but in doing that I feel as though I am doing the best for she who is teeny and wee.  At nursery she gets access to the education and developmental stimulation that I could not give her – I am not an early years specialist (I mean, I had to ask how to use baby arms when we first met she who was teeny and wee for fear that I wouldn’t be able to get them into the babygro); she is able to socialise with other children (she is currently an only child and we don’t have many friends close by who have small humans that she can regularly socialise with) and she has an innately inquisitive nature so the learning in nursery is vital for her.  Plus, I get to miss her all day, then pick her up – she runs down the corridor and is beaming.  I get quality evenings and weekends, and I also get uninterrupted school holidays (if I want to work during the hols – some I have to – I can do that in the evenings: the holidays are ours and they will not be taken by work).

I still struggle with being ‘at home’ during the holidays, but I think it stems from not having a wide network of people close by (stick a pin in a map and I can give you lots, just not close by) and I am not always confident or brave enough to go to places with people I don’t know (if I am at work, I know I can do that) – I don’t think I am necessarily creative enough to fill days with tremendous activities (and I know loads of people that hit their stride at this point).  But that is ok, because I am learning and she who is teeny and wee is learning, and we have fabulous days with lots of belly laughter (nothing is as funny as a 2 year old pressing her belly button and making a fart sound with her mouth).

My recent fall into the twittersphere has taught me that there is the ability to access a whole world of professional development, whilst balancing on that professional/ parent tightrope – and I feel as though I am starting to navigate that world slowly (like a flamingo in rollerskates and a helium balloon).  I see it has a platform to engage with other like-minded or like-professional people, and try to advocate for adopters in the professional world I work in.  I came across a great initiative called #MaternityCPD and asked if they could include adopters – their response was amazing and they asked me to be their Adoption Advocate.  I wish I had known about the programme when I was on Adoption Leave because maybe I wouldn’t have mourned the loss of the professional me so much – but now I see it as an opportunity to allow other teacher/adopters to find access to this programme.

And so, that is it – with a small action a tiny ripple is formed.  I am interested to see where it goes …

[On a side note, she who is teeny and wee is doing really well – she is now able to count to 10, has a really enjoyment of the number 8 and number 9 – I kind of this Sesame Street should focus more on these – she seems a little dubious of the number 1, but I think that is only becuase she is embracing her multi-lingual (who knew) self as it comes out as ‘une’.  She is able to sign up to and including the letter ‘G’ – she loses interest in the remaining letters – I mean who wouldn’t there is 26 after all.  And she really worries about Little Miss Tiny when she can’t find her.]

The word ‘real’

Today, BT launched an advert for a new product they have and used the idea of a child finding their ‘real dad’ through the use of their product (it’s an internetty thing) and it has raised a lot of eyebrows: that word ‘real’.

Even though I am sure BT have not used that word to hurt or distress anyone, or to force awkward conversations in families born of adoption, it will have.

For me though it’s a funny one…people love a label: it helps categorise our worlds into groups and things, sections and lists. A label can help me distinguish between horseradish and tartar sauce without having to dip a spoon and hoping for the best. But, do we really need a label to distinguish birth from not birth. The term ‘real’ doesn’t upset me because I am the real mum to my teeny wee human: biology does not define the role.

What does ‘real’ actually mean when it comes to parenting?

Are ‘real parents’ those people who happened to bump uglies at that miraculous moment when all the stars, sperm and eggs aligned? Are ‘real parents’ those who huff and puff and blow that teeny wee human out into the world? (you can tell I’ve not birthed a human) Or, are ‘real parents’ those who nurture, nourish, keep safe, educate, fight for and die for their children: those who stay awake the whole night just to make sure they are OK, those who have their heart broken a tiny bit when they can’t make it better for them, those who are there 100% without condition or question?

Our teeny wee human has spent 651 days on the planet. She was held and protected by her angels until the universe allowed us to find each other. I have been a mum, and my fellow Big has been a dad for 578 days. We may not share DNA but we are hers, without question and without condition. And we are real!

We are not birth parents. And, we are not adoptive parents. We are parents. Real ones. And we are hers and always will be.

I think that BT have been short-sighted in their term. I read on twitter that they used the term ‘real’ to be vague, but what they have done is forced people to battle for their right to be simply ‘parent’. It isn’t the biology that defines the role.

This doesn’t just echo around the ears of adopters, there are millions of mums and dads who gain their role by falling in love with their partner, and in doing so they become parents to a child who was not born from them, becoming a parent is born from love. Simple.

So, please cast this term ‘real’ into the history books. Not because it is 2020 and we are more politically correct than that, do it because it isn’t the correct term. The term is ‘parent’. The term is ‘mum’. The term is ‘dad’. It isn’t more complicated than that.

Christmas is done for another year…

We had a lovely Christmas yesterday. Our first in 15 years when we haven’t travelled miles and miles, and were able to relax and allow the day to unfold to the beat of our own drum. It is not that we don’t enjoy spending Christmas with family, it is because by the time the new year comes we haven’t slept in our bed or sat on our sofa for more than an hour before we return to work. This year, the sofa and bed is ours and it’s lush!

Yesterday we were woken by the quiet babbling of she who is teeny and wee at about 7am (long may that continue) and we approached the day with the appropriate ooos and ahhhhs that Santa had been and delivered some presents because she who is teeny and wee had been so good.

As always we were very spoilt by our nearest and dearest, and she who was teeny and wee spent 8 hours unwrapping presents so she didn’t get overwhelmed by all the gifts…this is not because she was given a mountain of things, it was because for a 20 month old, more than 3 things in one go can be a bit much.

It did make me think back to what a friend of ours, Rachael (from #littleflowersbysligo) said to me whilst walking through a very muddy Plessey Woods a few days ago: give something they need, something they want, something to wear, and something to read… Four considered gifts and one special gift from Santa because Christmas isn’t about the bottomless mountain of toys that Santa delivers to all that are on the ‘nice list’, it is about being present for each other.

Even though she who is teeny and wee is still tiddly and tiny, we make a point of talking about those who are less fortunate, and at Christmas, we do something for the soul that she is part of.

We hope that she will always consider other people as she grows up, show kindness of heart and generosity of spirit. I know that whatever journey she travels through life that she will change the world for one person because she changed the world for us.