Frankie Parker starts off the week telling us how swapping a male orientated job for chit chat at the school gates isn’t as easy as it seems.

My Epiphany…

This week I had a bit of a epiphany and it went a little bit like this..

On Monday I went into London to have lunch with my old work colleagues, another “last team lunch” at our local pub near work.  So as we sat there discussing what was happening in Libya, the previous weekends six nation’s results and the upcoming football internationals it suddenly occurred to me that the thing I was going to miss most was their company?  Yes some of the guys in particular but want I really mean is male company.

You see the majority of my working life has been in IT, the last 5 years as a manager of a team of 16 and only two of the team were women.  So I have always worked with men and I enjoy their company so before the comment is taken the wrong way in a sexual, pervy kind of way let me explain…

Men are uncomplicated creatures.  They don’t bitch about what each other is wearing, or pass judgement on what you are wearing, they don’t try and compete over the silly things, never on diets, you never find them crying in the toilets and they really don’t care if they are having bad hair days!.  But most of importantly for me is what you see is what you get, it’s as simple as that.  If you have a disagreement over something it is soon forgotten not dragged up again next time you are having a night out (in a flood of tears).  If you think they have over stepped the mark on something you can tell them without (generally) them getting upset.  You can laugh with them at stuff that might be a little bit inappropriate but its okay as they won’t judge you over it.  So you see working with men is easy, so after 17 years in their company I just relate so much better to men than women…

So now, not only have I become a stay at home mum but I also need to learn to relate better with my own gender.  Don’t get me wrong I do have a lot of female friends and three sisters who I am very close to. But what I need to do is the small talk at the school gates, show an interest in what other people’s children’s are doing, chat to the other mums at birthday parties.

This may seem like a simple and easy thing for a lot of you to do but to me it fills me with trepidation and dread as I really don’t know what to talk to them about  AND I will have to watch my language as well..

Thanks Frankie Parker for sharing that post with me

Lucky lucky me. The Lovely Uju from Babes About Town, a fabulous blog of London based life that is child friendly and very yummy mummy, has offered me a couple of her favourite posts to publish for you whilst I am away. I can certainly relate to this post and maybe you will too…read and tell me if we should take her advice.

Lovers Unplugged

As the hubby and I lay in bed one night scrolling through our respective Crackberries, a thought bubble hovered over my head.

It read, ‘What is wrong with this picture?’

I know we’re not the only couple who finds themselves in the grip of their smart phones, browsing after lights off.

But that scene made me reflect again on how much more connected we are in these times yet how much less engaged.

Some while back, Babe Daddy and I established Wednesdays as TV Turn-Off night. The idea was to have at least one evening when, after the kids were finally asleep, we did more than just flop on the sofa in front of Eastenders or The Wire.

TV Turn-Off night meant curling up together with our books and chill-out music in the background. Reading side by side creates a far more intimate space than hooking up to the outside world via tech.

But since this night often coincided with pressing concerns like Champions League football, it quickly fell by the wayside.

Many new mums and dads, in an effort to keep the home fires burning, arrange ‘Date Night’ every week. But for some, even that sounds like hard work with all the shaving of legs, rustling up of gourmet meals, lighting of candles and maybe hiring of babysitters.

So I came up with a new proposition for my hubby and it’s a challenge for any other lazy couples out there. How about just one night dedicated to being ‘unplugged’, a night when we ‘switch off and open up’?

Unplugged means turning off the telly, shutting down the laptop, putting phones on silent and focusing inwards for a change.

And before anyone’s teeth start gritting, ‘opening up’ doesn’t have to mean revealing the depths of your soul while trying to look your partner in the eye.

It can simply be about opening up a bottle of wine and reminiscing about the first time you got together, who pulled who, and how far you’ve come. Try opening up a box of old photos, letters or souvenirs and sharing a bit of each other’s history. Maybe open up a ‘couples only’ board game or other suitably corny ‘erotic’ activity and see where the night leads.

Or simply open up a book and enjoy the old school companionship of reading side by side or even aloud to each other.

The rustle of pages beats the click and whirr of gadgets any day. And at least when you read, there’s always one hand free for human contact…

 

My tears had halted momentarily, had I heard right? Was she saying that to me? I looked over at Paul who was still holding my hand as tightly, I could see the excitement, disbelief, incredulity under his skin, his face was twitching ever so slightly and he looked as if he was about to boil over with joy.

*****

As I lay down on the bed and lifted my top exposing my bare tummy to the scanologist (sorry can’t think of the right name for the lady scanner!) I went into panic mode. I was 8 weeks pregnant and the last two times I had reached this stage I had then discovered they were blighted ovums, where the baby had never formed in the sac or had been reabsorbed early on and therefore ending in miscarriage. I was shaking, in my heart I knew this was our last attempt. There was no way I could keep on putting myself through the agony of  joy-hope-failure. The scanning room for me held bad memories and I wasn’t feeling comfortable. In a desperate attempt to reassure myself, I surrepstitiously squeezed my boobs ‘Ouch!’ Good they were still painful and that meant pregnancy hormones were still in my body. I told the woman my history, a devastating loss at 5 months when we lost our little girl followed by two blighted ovums.

‘Thank you for telling me that.’ I’m sure I detected an Australian accent and then the room fell silent as she started to move the contraption over the gel on my tummy, the air heavy around me with suspense. Paul’s breathing was faster and our hands were held in a tight grip. I couldn’t bare him to go through the disappointment again and I was alreadystarting to feel a failure, my heart bomb diving into a black abyss. May Day! May Day!

I watched the lady looking intent at the screen moving the scan back and forth across my midriff. My bad voice piped up matter of factly ‘Nothing there again.’ and the tears started. Very slowly, very silently and I gripped Paul’s hand even harder trying desperately to make everything ok and hold on to positivity.

‘I’m so sorry to keep you waiting,’ she said. ‘I was just checking there aren’t three in there!’

‘Three?’ (I know! I’m so slow to get stuff – it had never dawned on me that I could possibly be a mother of twins even if Paul is a twin, I’d only ever asked for one!)

‘Yes!’ she exclaimed gleefully, relieved herself that her news was so good for us.’You’re expecting twins.’

‘How are their heartbeats?’ I immediately went into concerned mode wanting to cross all the T’s and dot the i’s.

‘Wonderfully strong heartbeats.’ Everything looks to be absolutely perfect.’

‘Can’t be!’ – that was the bad voice picking up again trying to ruin the moment but I was so shocked and utterly stunned I took no notice of it for once focusing on the good TWO WONDERFULLY STRONG HEARTBEATS. More tears fell but this time they were warm and tears of joy, the lady handed me some paper to wipe away the gel put I couldn’t care less about the gel I was pregnant and what’s more I was expecting twins, Paul took the paper and cleaned my tummy for me as we waited for the print out and our photos.

She gave us more photos than she should have done for our £4.00, I imagine she was very relieved to have been able to pass on our wonderful news and felt generous, after all who would find out her crime? I certainly wouldn’t have told a soul and these images I treasured for the following 8 months whilst I waited in angst until my beautiful little girls entered the world safe and sound.

This is my Flashback Friday for this week inspired very much by Karin at Cafe Bebe who is expecting and asked when I first found out I was expecting twins. Many women in pregnancy often get a thought ‘Maybe it’s twins?’ during the first months until the first scan can verify who and how many are inside. That thought comes from no where. Thrown at you casually from the universe to leave you wondering for weeks. I did get one of those thoughts but I was so anxious and so focused on just having ONE healthy baby I ignored it and let it go so it was a massive surprise that day to be told. In fact that day we both walked around stunned. Even the following few nights I would wake in the early hours and just ask Two? and reply Two! and fall back to sleep again in disbelief.

I kept a dairy throughout that pregnancy it was an online diary which also talks of many other things happening in my life during that period (teenage daughter living at home anyone?) I’m currently going through it and making it readable and focusing on the twin pregnancy and then I will post it for any other pregnant mum who may want to read it.

Now head over and see all the other Flashbacks over at Cafe Bebe

How does the look and feel of that word make you feel?

As I sat down to lunch with the girls, they were happily eating their pasta, Bessie chasing hers around the plate muttering ‘Come here!’ under her breath as she hasn’t quite mastered the prodding action of her fork, Alice looked at me directly, a beautiful sunny smile on her face and said ‘I’m stupid mummy.’

I was horrified. I have NEVER referred to either of them as stupid before and I immediately set to with ‘No Alice, you’re not stupid? to which her reply was again ‘I’m stupid mummy’ angelic smile on her face. Needless to say Bessie saw all the commotion, left chasing her pasta for a minute and tried the word for herself ‘My stupid too!’ she piped up enormous grin stretching from ear to ear.

It was clear they had a new word to try out and try it they did but once the novelty had died down they forgot about it..until next time that is.

I can’t remember ever using that word in front of them in such a context, ie calling someone stupid, not even my other half when he clearly has been… I only do that when they are in bed :) So I imagine they picked it up playing at one of the toddler groups we go to, where they have loads of fun and I wouldn’t dream of not taking them for such an incidence but it does go to show that by mixing with other children, some of whom have older brothers or sisters, some of whom have started pre-school we are opening ourselves up for a whole new vocabulary here. Don’t get me wrong, contrary to popular belief I am not an angel and every now and then I have been known to come out with some unsavoury words myself and I cross all fingers on both hands, eyes pleading the clouds and pray the girls didn’t catch the word. It does happen and I immediately regret my slip of good-mummyness but like it or not we shall be mixing with loads of new children as of September at pre-school and our lives are going to be filled with a whole new load of experiences as we follow our ‘babies’ on their new path.

It is quite worrying, they are good girls. They aren’t aggressive and they’re bound to come across some aggressive behaviour at school. They are well-behaved, and they’re bound to come across bad manners, answering back, general misbehaviour too which will make our parenting all the more challenging I can only imagine. I don’t think it’s gender related and I don’t believe it’s ‘class’ related either as much as I hate to use that word in such a context but sadly it exists. There is a huge part of my heart that would like to keep them close and ‘safe’ from the bad society but that is not conducive to growing up and learning to accept others, learning to live with others and interact with them.

I was blessed when bringing my older two up as we lived in a small community, everyone knew everyone, there was the ‘rule’ of the village and we all looked out for each other and kept an eye on all the kids as a whole. It was a good system and I can see quite clearly via Facebook that most of the then children are still all friends today but that clearly won’t work here in the UK. I realise I’m going to have to play this one – one day at a time and trust my girls to recognise good from bad as they start their journey through life.

How did you survive or how are you coping now?

Photo credit – Matze_ott

As the 2nd birthday starts to loom in the distance and people ask ‘How old is he/she/they?’ on hearing they are about to enter toddlerdom the overall response is ‘Oh the terrible twos’ – you’re in for some fun and a rocky ride.’

Yeah? cheers for that!

And on you go on your merry way thinking, ‘Surely it can’t be that bad?’ The 2nd birthday comes and goes and there is the odd meltdown which you can usually pass off for tiredness, hunger or teething and then you encounter your first major tantrum……

It comes out of nowhere when you’re least expecting it and the first sign is the immense noise, a screaming so intense it shakes the foundations of the building be it yours or the local supermarkets.

Your beautiful, previously adorable, child is bright red in the face, tears streaming down both cheeks and swelling with rage.

WTF?

First action, you try the passive, gentle, sweet voice ‘Darling, what is it? Tell mummy’ and in reply you get a vicious attack of undecipherable verbal abuse in the form of ear drum smashing noise. ‘No, mummy No!’

Second action, if in public to whip the child up in your arms and retreat to a more private area, if at home, to pick up the child and cuddle. The response? Kicking, wriggling, fighting and the noise goes off the current decibel measuring scale plus a lot more ‘No’s’

Uh-oh. What now?

I have been known to try screaming over the top of the noise – don’t bother it’s useless and the response is the child gets even more upset, tears come tumbling bigger and faster and we’re on the verge of a human tsunami.

For some unfathomable reason this may pass as quickly as it came, you pop the child in his/her cot and on waking later you are represented with a little angel again.

Phew! …. until next time because there will be a next time I promise you.

Hard work isn’t it? And any twin mum will tell you there is a lot of copying going on between twins so frequently twin 2 will copy twin 1 and get them in an equal if not more intense state than the sibling.

This is only one aspect of the Terrible Twos and luckily for us Shanta Everton writer and editor has put her thinking cap on and come up with a book to guide us frazzled parents through this next tricky stage.

Shanta contacted many parents of two year olds to get ‘real’ case material to add and strengthen the points she puts forwards and we (me, Alice and Bessie) are quoted in one of her chapters on food – another claim to fame!

The book, The Terrible Twos – A Parents Guide, is out now by Need2know and for the entire month she is doing a blog tour passing through Mari’s World on the 18th when I shall be interviewing her. You can find my answers to her questions on her blog the same day :)

I’ve already earmarked a copy and can’t wait for it to arrive, maybe you’d like to investigate a little further and see if it could be something that could be a valuable tool over the coming months?