Me and Moo have this thing now, yeah. She started it. It was her idea. When I’m getting her ready for bed – pyjama’d, sleeping bagged, and In The fucking Night Gardened – she looks me straight in the eye and says, ‘Now we have a lovely cuddle’.
And it’s true, we do. We sit on the chair in her room and have a lovely cuddle.
Like I said, she started it. OBVS I would cuddle her anyway, and we’d maybe have a tickly smooch, or a giggly hug, but this – THIS – is a lovely cuddle. It’s our lovely cuddle. I lean back on the chair and she lies on her front and tucks her head under my chin, throws her arms round mine and occasionally, very occasionally, licks my neck. Yeah. A lovely cuddle.
I’m ALL about the cuddles. I’m a very tactile lady person. If I deem you awesome enough for my clammy grasp, you’ll get major huggage from me. It may take a while to suss you out so don’t be miffed if I’ve not cuddled you yet. I will. I have cuddly designs on lots of you. Lots of uber-cuddle. Mondo hugfest. Totes cuddlations, innit. I’m making words up now. But I reckon you get it. Me cuddle you = all’s well.
But a lovely cuddle from my baby Moo, THAT’S special. And she started it. It was HER idea. She says, ‘Now we have a lovely cuddle’, before she goes to sleep. And we do.
Can’t get enough cuddling, in my humble opinion. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in relationships with menfolk who Do the Cuddles. A man who withholds armclasp-loving is not the fella for me. You gotta HUG me. I wanna be HUGGED. I want to know that with that gesture, you love me, want to comfort me, support me, have affection for me, will protect me, keep me warm, keep me safe, and will, like, wrestle fuckin’ LIONBEARS for me, y’know? THAT’S hugging. That’s cuddles. Friendship cuddles are the same. Family cuddles. Virtual HUGZ with online pals, too. Love hugs. Love cuddles. And make it a good grip, as well. None of this limp grip, no way. You put your arms round me, you’d better make me worry for my ribcage. Understood? I like to be HUGGED. Dare you to do it properly. I’m telling you. Hug me good, you bastards.
With Moo, though. Our lovely cuddle. That’s a soft one. Gentle, like. She’s tired, fractious. I’m most likely eager for her to be abed and sleeping, it’s been a long day, y’know. Yet she looks at me and says, ‘Now we have a lovely cuddle’. And we do. I hold her to me and smell the shampoo on her hair and feel her eyelids flick against my chest and wince a bit when she digs her elbows in my sides and listen to her breathing calm beneath my hands and stroke her back and tell her I love her more than anything and this is our lovely cuddle, and this is when I know for sure that out of everything in this whole damn world, our lovely cuddles make all the shit stuff totally worth it.
Cuddles. Do you get enough?
Parenting. Such a MAGICAL experience. Along with all the fear, desperation, exhaustion, irritation, frustration and total absolute dicking bollocks of parenting, comes guilt. GUILT. I feel it ALL THE COCKING TIME. I can’t escape it. I’m afraid to say, people, that when you spawn a tiny person you instantly and violently sign up for a LIFETIME of this emotional headfucking stuff. It’s overwhelming, and gives me heartburn. Yeesh.
I feel guilty…
that I don’t do enough ‘educational’ stuff with Moo
that I don’t spend enough time outdoors with Moo
that I let her watch too much TV
that I spend too much time on Twitter while she watches TV
that I don’t feed her enough food
that she eats too much junk food
that she doesn’t socialise with other children enough
that I don’t socialise with other parents enough
that sometimes I just want a break from the parenting stuff
that I should be looking for work even though it wouldn’t mean I was any better off right now
that I should be writing a novel/a screenplay/a play instead of blogging
that I should eat more healthily
that I should be a better sister/daughter/friend
that all this internal gibbering makes me a bad mother
that I’m not more proactive about a LOT of things
that I shout at Moo when I really don’t mean to
that sometimes I only really want some time on my own
that I’ve just spent fifteen quid in the supermarket on crap when I could budget properly and save cash
that I resent a lot of people who have what I don’t have even though I know that’s a horrid thing to do
that I know it could be a lot worse for me and I hate moaning
that I feel guilty about most of this stuff when I should just QUIT IT, FUCKSAKE – and man up…
You see? It’s a convoluted nightmare of epic proportions. And I’m only being a tiny bit dramatic there. Which I feel guilty about. Obvs.
What do you feel guilty about?
Moo sucks. Quite literally. Remember when I wrote this post? About her addiction to dummies? Yeah? Well, surprise sur-fucking-prise, time goes forward inexorably and all that, and it’s getting to the stage where Moo sucking on a dummy now is just a little bit, well, erm, how can I say this politely… a bit FUCKING WRONG. It sucks. She’s two and a half. She sucks. She’s got to stop.
Today I bought two new dummies. This does not aid the whole ‘stopping sucking’ thing, I agree. But her previous dummies were kind of grey. And droopy. One of them had a hair caught round it, and fluff caught in the hair, and tiny spiders caught in the fluff (I’m guessing). It’s gross. She loves it. She sucks on those bastards like a bastard. It’s scary how much she loves it. She goes all giggly and far-eyed when she sucks on those things. Like I do when I’m inhaling cheese. Addicted, fucksake. So I tried cleaning the old ones but they were still grey, and droopy. So I bought new ones. Because when I broached the subject of maybe taking the dummies away and Moo going to bed without them now, I got what I like to think of as A Top Level Death Stare.
‘Moo, you don’t need dummies any more.’
‘Moo, let’s put the dummies away and see how you get on.’
‘Moo – please don’t kill me, but – soon you’ll have to get rid of your dummies, because it’s gross now, OK?’
DEEEEEEEEATH STARE OF DEATH AND DOOM.
She’s two and a half, and still uses a dummy to settle herself at night. In my head, I’ve given her till she’s three to drop it. Realistically, it has to be sooner, because otherwise, I’ll wimp out and she’ll still be using them when she’s 26. I’m not generally a wimp in my parenting tactics. But, you see, I like that Moo sleeps at night. She’s GREAT at it. Aside from a few wobbles in the past, she’s in bed by 7 and FREQUENTLY does not wake till 8 the next morning. THAT IS UBER SLEEPING SKILLZ, bruv. I don’t want to jinx that. I don’t want to RUIN what is a perfectly awesome sleeping advantage for me. I have a direful notion that if I remove the dummies, it’s all going to go tits up. Or teats up. See what I did there. Har.
When she had The Pox recently, I indulged her. She was poorly and needed comfort. So the dummies came out during the day. This is not the usual routine. Dummies are for bye-byes. Apart from when struck down with Pox, obvs. Unfortunately, Moo now thinks she’s entitled to the dummies AT WHATEVER POINT OF THE DAY SHE SO DESIRES THEM. Man alive. And now she’s, like, a proper tiny person, she’ll just fetch them herself from upstairs and look totally aghast and calls her lawyer to report a breach of her basic human rights if I take them off her.
I know, I know. I’VE CREATED A MONSTER. In the post I’ve linked to above, I’m all ‘Yeah look at me not giving a shit about my baby having a dummy, I’ll just take it off her when she’s older, piece of piss bruv, bring it on, woop woop’ and now I’ve reached that point, I’m fucking bricking it. Moo is obstinate, defiant and bloody stubborn (no idea where she gets that from, ahem) so the thought of BATTLING her on this TERRIFIES me.
HEEEELP. People who have wrestled dummies from their children’s puckered mouths, HOW? Or am I fretting too soon about this stuff, and should just wait till she’s older and can be reasoned with (bribed)?
DO I JUST BURN ALL THE DUMMIES?
So, Eastenders, what a load of lovable tripe you are, eh? A joyous romp through all the darkness a world can provide, and I’m not just talking about Ian and Denise getting it on. Eeeewwwwww, to the power of infinity. C’mon, Denise. Ian Beale. Seriously. IAN BEALE. Just, no. ANYWAY. Funnily enough, all the stabbings, wailings, explosions, incest, murders, adultery, abandonment, and erm, the extortionate price of a knickerbocker glory in the caff, gets me PROPER DOWN, and I stop watching for a bit, until something major happens, and then I get sucked back in, cos I want to know who shot/stabbed/buggered/defenestrated Phil Mitchell. As ANYONE would. Natch.
Regular viewers will be aware of the current storyline involving Lola, the ‘scrappy smart-mouthed teen with too much eye make-up’, and her baby, ‘the cute baby’. If you’re NOT aware, here is a quick precis: the baby was taken off Lola by social services cos she’s a teenager, and therefore a crap mother, and placed in the care of Phil Mitchell, WHO IS A THUG AND A CRIMINAL AND A FORMER DRUG ADDICT AND LOOKS LIKE A BIG RED ANGRY THUMB, and therefore OBVIOUSLY better suited to caring for a baby. Nonsense. Utter nonsense. Nevertheless, ANYTHING involving small babies in peril makes me hysterically weepy, so I’ve been soppily sniffing in front of the TV four nights a week for gawd knows how long as Lola battles to be reunited with her daughter. YES I KNOW. I am a dumbass. Bite me.
Then last night, a Massive Plot Device happened, and so flaringly obvious it was that it might as well have come with a klaxon and a formal announcement by the BBC that ‘Look here, one of them important Massive Plot Devices is about to happen, pay attention now, you plebs’ before glibly carrying on with the programme. Basically, the baby was HOT and ILL and NO ONE knew what to do, apart from Lola, who spent a bit of time explaining to her hapless male relatives that ‘I’m ‘er muvver, I just KNOW sommat’s WRONG wiv ‘er!’ before calling NHS Direct and getting a response within 30 seconds, which is so far removed from real life it makes the rest of Eastenders look like a hard-hitting documentary. The baby was rushed to hospital while the entire population of the Square looked on, and then there was a party at the B&B but that’s a different plot and not as GOOD.
The baby was fine, btw. Gastroenteritis. But fine. Phew. You can stop fretting now.
The moral of the Massive Plot Device is, that Lola is a MUVVER and just KNOWS when something is seriously wrong with her child, unlike Phil, who is not the baby’s muvver, and spent most of the episode saying ‘she’s only a bit hot innit’. Lola has a parenting instinct and she’s not afraid to use it, which is handy as I’m pretty sure social services will now grandly rethink their previous decisions and hand the baby back to Lola with a quick flick of the Vs to Phil. Plot device DONE.
My point is (if you’re still reading, WELL DONE and THANK YOU) that there’s a lot to be said for instinct. After all, our ancient cave-dwelling ancestors relied on it a lot, and it served them well, seeing as they evolved into medieval people, and then, erm, Victorian people (history not my strong point. Nor evolution). Sometimes everything else gets in the way, and we end up struggling between what our heads and hearts are clamouring to inform us, when really, we need to listen to our gut, which has been right all along, typically.
Lola’s Massive Plot Device (which would be an AWESOME band name) got me thinking about how I’ve ignored my instinct lately. How I’ve let Other Things get in the way. How, when I’m typically an instinctive person, I’ve been dismissing it and letting Bastard Circumstance rule my decisions. At the risk of sounding WAY MORE CRYPTIC than I want to, I’m therefore going to give Instinct another go. And trust it.
My instinct right now is telling me I shouldn’t write about Eastenders ever again. Huh.
How much do you rely on instinct? Is it merely a tool in our parenting arsenal? Or is it essential in all walks of life?
And Ian and Denise, that’s just wrong, yeah? He is totes punching above his weight. Totes.
That’s TERRORS. Not terriers. Terriers aren’t particularly terrifying, except for the ones with knives. But terrors – and specifically, night terrors – are actually bloody crapping terrifying. Innit.
The worse thing? It’s not me that’s having them. It’s my little Moo. Yep. That’s right. TWICE now, which, in my opinion is two times too many for a tiny person. Two nights this week she has woken up screaming. Proper screaming. Like I’ve not heard her scream before. Sheer desperate panic. Hideous. Nothing a parent ever wants to hear emanating from their child’s bedroom.
Of course I’m awake in a nanosecond. I’m in her room, next door to mine, in another nanosecond. I pick her up and she sobs, in my arms, for a bit. I do all my best cuddling moves. I whisper lovely stuff in her ear. I rock gently. She’s all right. She’s good. She wants to go back into her cot. That’s also good. All credit to Moo, she drops back to sleep after about twenty minutes, no problemo. Me? Nah, that’s me AWAKE TILL THE END OF TIME, then.
I’ve not Googled night terrors. Me and Google don’t get on when it comes to ailments, physical or otherwise. I’ve just assumed this is what’s happening. I know Moo has had nightmares before but nothing like this. And today – after last night’s funtime scream-a-thon – she refused to nap in her cot. So by the afternoon we are both tired, grumpy, tense and needing a lot of biscuits.
She’s gone to bed this evening well enough. But I am DREADING the wee hours now. I’m exhausted enough that it’s an early night for me, but I know I won’t sleep easy, one ear constantly vigilant for the slightest shift in rhythmic breathing. And of course, of course of course, there’s FARK ALL I can do about it. If she wakes screaming, from some unknown terror she can’t formulate into words for me, then there’s bugger all I can do to prevent it. I guess I can just be there for her, if she wakes, in that nanosecond or two.
Helpless. And tired.
Has anyone else experienced this before? Themselves or their children? Should I Google? And what’s faster than a nanosecond?
When I was preggo I went through a bit of a nasal apocalypse. Certain smells would make me heave. Toothpaste was one. And coffee was another. The husband liked to brew his coffee in one of those knobbly jobs on the stove. I would climb the walls when he did that, like some crazed harpy. Even now I can’t really abide that acrid stench. And I still boak a bit when I brush my teeth.
Which makes me think: I don’t know if my senses ever recovered from the whole having-a-baby shizzle.
So my smelling machinery is farked. My eyes were balls anyway, but now my sight is slowly worsening as I am subjected to hours of brightly coloured children’s TV presenter’s jeans. My hearing used to be pretty good but now all I can hear are the terrifying echoes of Wind The Farking Bobbin Up reverberating about my brains. And touch? My skin is a husk of a dried up sheath of a skin. It has not been the same since preggosville. Everything I touch feels like sand. In fact, some of it is ACTUALLY sand cos every time we go to the sandpit in the park, I end up bringing some home in my bra. Always. Even if I don’t wear a bra.
Other senses? Taste. Who knows. The last thing I ate was in such a hurry – before Moo could snatch it from my paws – that it barely touched the sides. I can taste rum, certainly. Almost all the time. And, erm. The sixth sense. Well, I can’t see dead people. But that’s FINE BY ME.
Maybe I’m just feeling a bit more wrecked than usual today. Maybe it’s cos I’m getting old. Maybe I’m glaring back at my pre-preggo self with rose-tinted spectacles cos it’s just one of those ‘remember when I was thin and shmexy’ days. But having a baby changes you physiologically in all kinds of mentalissimo ways. And I don’t just mean stretchy lady holes.
So. Pregnancy and thereafter. An assault on the senses. Anyone else notice this?
Moo is getting bigger. She keeps GROWING. Soon she’ll outgrow the cardboard box I keep her in under the stairs. She will probably want things as well. Bigger clothes. More food. A mobile phone. She’ll start talking properly. Go to pre-school. Get a proper job. Acquire some dubious vices. Y’know, grown up stuff. And, as she loses her babyness and chubby ickle wubbiness, I am – rather embarrassingly – wondering if I want another one.
Uhoh. I said it out loud. I am wondering whether I want another baby.
Biologically, my body says YES. In fact it’s saying ‘YEEEEEEESSSSS for the LOVE OF ALL THINGS SWEET AND HOLY you crazy fertile woman creature, PROCREATE! PROCREATE! PROCREEEEEEATE!’ It screams this at me, once a month, when I haphazardly ovulate. And then, it shakes its broody head sadly at me when I menstruate. Like it is massively disappointed. My periods are basically symbols of my bloody failure to conceive. Yep. My own body guilts me into wanting another baby. Bastard.
My brain, however, is saying this: ‘Erm, hello? What the actual fark? ANOTHER ONE? Are you mentalistic and loonissimo? Do you know what having another one means? It means DOING ALL THIS AGAIN. All the sleeplessness, feeding, weaning, nappies, worry, panic and stress that comes with tiny new babies. And, uh, in case you hadn’t noticed – a minor detail – nothing too important really – but, y’know, you may need some actual sperm. Innit. Thanks! Love, your brain.’
I’m in conflict with myself, then.
I was having a Twitter conversation t’other day about how our babies are growing up with the delightful Stressy Mummy who, when I said it was unlikely I’d have another one due to my current circumstances, quite casually mentioned that someone she knew had used a sperm donor to conceive. WHOA THERE. Hang on a farking moment. What? Is that my option? Is that what I’ve got to do now? I dunno. I’ve not thought about this seriously at all, apart from noting the whole womb-clenchingly clucky feeling I get within my core when I see a newborn baby. Ack. Being a slave to your hormones sucks. But it has hit me, over the head, in the brains, like a farking sledgehammer of obvious truth. I want a baby. I want another baby. Wow. I really should stop saying that. But I do. At some point in the future, I want another baby. I just don’t know how.
The thought that Moo might be it for me has kind of struck me somewhat. I have not acknowledged this before. I guess cos what with all the Stuff happening, the idea of another baby is immediately shelved as something beyond what I can attain at this time. No husband? No more babies. Which is shite, of course, cos I know I don’t need a husband to have a baby. But – oh my giddy days – I’m a single parent right now. I was essentially a single parent when Moo was tiny, while my ex-husband worked abroad, and, I can categorically state, I do not want to do all that again. Alone. Nope. No way. It is so much EASIER when there are two parents there. So, so much. I am still astonished at how much easier it is, when there are two parents. It is a gift. Wonderful. To be treasured. I want that as well. A baby, and a partner, and all that comes with it.
So. In a bid to NOT scare off anyone in particular: I am not going to morph into some Liz Jone-esque crazed sperm thief, squatting over used condoms in the dead of night and furtively fingering jism into myself. Really, really, not. And that’s a PROMISE. Eek.
But I have said it, now. It is out there.
I want another one.
I want Moo to have a sibling.
I know I’ve said before, ‘No way. I’m not interested. I don’t want another one.’
I was lying. Of course I do.
I don’t know how, when, where, or with whom. But I’m going to hope fervently that it happens. We’ll see.
Parent readers: is that it for you? Are you done with the baby making? Have you cooked your last batch? And my darling non-parent readers: kids – you wan’em? How many? Is that sort of thing something you plan? Who knows.
*dissolves into a puddle of hormones*
Yeah I totally jinxed it. Like I knew I would. I am such a dumbass.
Just over a month ago, I blogged about how Moo was such a great sleeper. Boasted – if you will – that she’d win medals for her Olympic-quality sleepage. Rubbed it in yo’faces about even if she was in a mega-bouncy destructive mood, I could shove her in the cot and guarantee myself a snoring baby by the time I would get downstairs and pour myself a cheeky rum’n'coke.
Well, fark me sideways. I said I’d jinx it. And I did. I completely voodooed myself, without even realising it, and that is some SERIOUS VOODOO.
Y’see, I am sitting here, typing this, and listening to Moo on the monitor, chatting away to herself in her cot upstairs. Not asleep. Awake. The very-much-awake form of not sleeping. She’s usually conked out by now. But for the last week or so, she’s taken, on average, OVER AN HOUR to get to sleep after I’ve put her down for the night. This is not good. This means a change to the routine is needed. And I have a natural suspicion and fear of change.
I tweeted about it a few nights ago. The responses were various. I was told to try shortening her nap, or eradicating it altogether, which I’m not ashamed to say, I shrieked out loud at. GET RID OF HER NAP?? No. NOOOO. I need that nap time as much as she does. I’m not ready to let that go. That is valuable
blogging housework time.
Somebody else said that as long as she wasn’t upset/in danger/setting the place on fire, then just leave her to it. I like this. This I can do. My trouble is, I can just see what will happen: soon enough, she’ll figure out that I’m downstairs eating all the cake and want a piece of that action. Then she’ll be upset/start climbing the walls/practice her fire-breathing skillz without the necessary due care and precaution. And there go my precious evenings.
I need my evenings. I can’t keep her up later, it’s fine if I’m around but when I start rehearsals for my next play, I can’t expect a babysitter to put her to bed, especially if it’s my younger brother, who thinks she’s like a giant guinea pig and is a bit scared of her. I have tried physically wearing her out in that hinterland between dinner and bath time – previously known as leave-mummy-alone-it’s-time-for-Neighbours-time – but that just seems to get her EVEN MORE excited.
It’s dark in her room, and a comfortable temperature, she’s been fed and watered and cleaned, so there’s nothing I need to do in that respect. She just doesn’t seem to be as tired as she used to be.
My only explanation is the powerful voodoo I magicked when writing that post. I should have realised and stopped myself. Now I am paying the price. The status quo has been well and truly rocked. I am DOOMED.
You’d have thought with me writing about how farking poor I am, my voodoo might have beshizzled up some extra cash by now. Bastard.
Is afternoon nap time over? Moo is 20 months, almost 21. When do they drop the nappage? Or is there something else I can do to get her sleeping at a sensible hour again?
OK – paranoid parent klaxon – scuse me a mo while I have one of them infrequent FREAK OUTS about how my child is developing even though I KNOW children develop at different rates cos EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT innit, but still – lemme vent – just for a sec – then I’ll stop. OK? OK.
So on FB today I see a status update about a 2 year old (Moo is 20 months) speaking, by which I mean PROPER TALKING, in sentences and everyfink. And a friend t’other day was recounting a tale about how their child – just a month older than Moo – was starting to form sentences. Also, a few of Moo’s little friends are beginning some of that proper talk shizzle. And there was that girl in the park – the almost 2 year old – who said to me ‘I like mud, it’s exciting’. FFS.
Moo can say ‘cakey’. And ‘no’. And other random wordage. But no sentences. Not yet.
I am not one of those people who will map their child’s development using one of those chart thingies, cos, as I’ve already ascertained, EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT. But, I can’t help but feel vaguely antsy about Moo’s speech and how it’s coming along. Or NOT coming along, as it were.
I’m sure there’s some gubbins somewhere that says kids Moo’s age should be learning 3000 new words a day or something, but I can’t be looking at that stuff or my head might explode. What I worry about is that I’m not doing the right things – I repeat words back to her, I simplify phrases, and encourage her to answer questions (‘What would you like to eat?’ ‘Cakey’ ‘Would you like a sandwich?’ ‘No’) and still fret that it’s not good enough. And then OF COURSE I compare her progress with her peers and freak myself out even more.
My daughter is amazing in every way, innit. And all them children that can speak in sentences already are also amazing. But really, what I’m trying to say here without coming across as a total cunt, is that I want my child to be MORE AMAZING than EVERY OTHER CHILD. Short of enrolling her in Mensa or, erm, forcibly hexing all children to not speak ever, that’s not going to happen. Not while her vocabulary consists mainly of sweet baked products and emphatic negatives, anyway.
I’m being daft, right? Moo’s just fine, yeah?
What else can I do to make Moo talk proper?