Archive for the ‘motherhood’ Category

Being mothered by my 3-year-old

October 15, 2011

I was sewing this morning, trying to finish a project to a deadline.  Fainjin and Babess were fascinated, and jostled to watch me.  I  did sew a little bit with Babess in my lap, but it is very awkward so I persuaded her to sit on a chair next to me.

She and Fainjin both kept leaning on the table to see the fabric coming out the other side of the sewing machine, and moving around pushing things on the table.  I had scissors (sharp!), spools of thread, various feet for my machine, pins and other bits and pieces there, so it was making me anxious.  I noticed that they had swept a small pile of thread offcuts onto the floor with their moving about.  I got a bit short with them, pointing out the mess and noting that it could have been something sharp, they should be careful and sit still if they wanted to watch.

Babess patted my arm and said soothingly, “Don’t wowwy, Mummy.  I will pick up da mess for you.  I pwomise, you won’t have to.  Don’t wowwy.  It will be alwight.”

Way to make me feel like I’m the three-year-old…

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

I’m just surprised it hasn’t happened earlier

August 13, 2011

This morning, just as she was meant to be leaving for music, Pearl called out in distress, “Mum, I haven’t got any socks!”

A quick look in the clean laundry basket revealed no socks for her.  I looked in her room, and sighed.  As usual, there are clothes all over the floor.  Clean, dirty, who knows?  Some are kicked half-under the bed, some are on or in the bed, everything is scrunched up, walked-over, a sort of soft carpet half-over the toys and books also on the floor.

I spotted two striped socks, half inside-out, in the middle of the floor.  “There are yesterday’s socks, you’ll have to wear those,” I told her.

She looked at me in utter horror.  “I can’t wear dirty socks!”

“Well then you need to put them in the laundry pile when you take them off.  And when you get clean ones back, they need to go in your drawer.  Otherwise you run out of clean socks.”  I may have added, “As I have warned you over and over and over again”… hopefully not out loud.

Practically writhing with squeamishness, she reluctantly put them on.  Later in the day, when I reminded her, she found some dirty socks in her room and put them out to be washed.  She claims to have also found a clean pair in there for tomorrow.

Dare I hope a lesson has been learned, even temporarily?  I wonder how long it took me… that 8-yr-old’s-bedroom scene looked eerily familiar.

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Night waking

July 27, 2011

Fainjin used to be dry at night, at least several nights a week.  We kept him in night-time pull-ups while we worked on day-time toilet training.  Now we are trying to move to no nappies at all.

We take him to the loo before he goes to bed, and again before we go to bed.   Sometimes that works, and sometimes he will appear in our room in the middle of the night to tell us he is wet.  Sometimes it’s twice in a night.  And so I (or The Dad) get up, clean him up, change the bed and his pyjamas, and crash back into bed, only to lie awake for an hour or so because now we’re awake and have lost the habit of night-waking, then fall asleep just in time for the morning alarm to go off and wake with limbs of lead and a pounding head.

Last night, desperate for a full night’s sleep, and with The Dad’s agreement, I put a nappy on Fainjin to go to bed.  I went to bed early and snuggled down with expectations of a lovely night full of sleep.


Between 2 and 3am, he appeared and wanted a “snuggle”.  He crawled in next to me and wriggled and kicked and flailed around, ignoring my complaints and requests that he go back to his own bed.  I was tempted to carry him back there, but lower back pain from the last time I did that persuaded me not to.

Finally he left and headed back to his & Babess’ room.  I dozed off.

I was woken again by singing.  Babess singing.  I suspect that Fainjin had turned on their bedroom light and talked to her until she woke up.  She’s such a happy little thing, she just sang herself back to sleep.  I asked her about it later in the day, and she said, “Oh yes! I was singing ‘Wind the Bobbin Up’ and ‘Finkle Finkle Wittle Star’.  Is that alright?”  So cute.  But kind of loud at that hour.

I dozed off.

Then Fainjin was next to me again.  Urgh. I looked at the clock, it was sometime after 4am.  “Mummy, what can I do until 6 o’clock?”  (We put a digital clock in their room and he knows that he’s meant to stay in bed until “the first number is 6”.)

I have no idea what I said to him, if anything, but he did disappear again.  So much for a full night’s sleep.

Fingers crossed for tonight?

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Long beautiful hair, shining, gleaming…

July 23, 2011

Babess was born with just enough hair that you could tell it was reddish.  It has been slow-growing, but now she has enough for two very cute pigtails, or a topknot, or even – if we’re both patient enough – two skinny plaits.

Plaiting Babess' hair, February 2011

She has only ever had a couple of haircuts, and the first time the hairdresser laughed at me for even bothering.  The second one (and possibly a third, if there was one) was just to tidy up the ends a little bit.

But now she doesn’t want pigtails any more.  She doesn’t like Mummy doing her hair in the morning.  She’s too busy for this nonsense.

“That’s fine,” I say, as I have said many times to Pearl before her.  “But if you won’t have your hair tied back and tidy, then it has to be cut short.”

This has always been too terrible a thought for Pearl to contemplate, she loves her long hair.  But Babess seized the idea.  “Yes!  I want it cut short!”  And she has repeated this wish a couple of times over the past week.

Fainjin needs a haircut fairly urgently, so a trip to the hairdresser is on the cards for next week.  Babess can come along, and if she still wants short hair, I guess we’ll cut it.  I know it will still look very cute, and she is very young and can grow more hair.

But still… sob!

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

A home day

July 4, 2011

Yesterday Fainjin was distinctly unwell.  His cheeks were very flushed – in fact I suspected slapped cheek virus for quite a while – he was running a temperature, his nose was running, and he was tired and miserable.  At one point he fell asleep on the couch, but when we tried to move him to his bed, woke and protested feebly that he wasn’t tired, no sir!

I had planned to take him to the doctor this morning, but he woke a lot brighter, with no fever, no red cheeks, and just a runny nose and a bit of a cough (which makes his symptoms no worse than about 90% of the kids at daycare I suspect).  So we went to the library this morning then came home for a quiet day.

He happily built things out of Lego while I did dishes and laundry, and after lunch we worked on a 300-piece puzzle together.  It wasn’t the best one to do with him, not enough easily-distinguishable sub-pictures, but he seemed to enjoy it all the same.  Perhaps it was just that he got to sit next to me and work together on something for a couple of hours with no sisters to interrupt!

He sounded a bit croupy just after he went to bed, but all is quiet again now.  Assuming that remains the case and he’s ok in the morning, he should be fine for daycare tomorrow.

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Oh, my Freud!

June 27, 2011

Fainjin had a shower with me this morning.  That’s not a particularly common occurence in our household, but no big deal.

As we were drying ourselves, he stared at me, and pointed at my chest.  “Mummy, what are those fat bits for?”

Darling child.

“They’re for feeding babies.  They’re called breasts.  Mummies have them so they can feed their babies.”

“But Mummy…  do they… grow?”

“Yes, girls get them as they grow up.”

There was a bit of a pause in the conversation while he dried his legs and I mentally wiped my brow.  Then he smiled at me.  “When I grow up, I’m going to have those!”

“Um, no, sweetie, girls get them.  You’re a boy.  Daddy doesn’t have them…”

He gave me a hard stare and went back to drying his feet.  But I heard a mutinous mutter: “When I grow up, I’m going to have fat bits.”

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Free at last!

June 21, 2011

It’s Babess’ birthday.  She is three years old.  My baby.  I’m having a hard time believing it!  I suppose I’ll have to stop calling her my “baby” now.

She had a great day, starting with presents at breakfast-time – including a Minnie Mouse doll holding a balloon saying “It’s My Birthday!”, signed by Minnie Mouse herself when Pearl and I met her at Disneyland.  It also plays a tune when you squeeze its foot, “Happy Birthday” twice through each time.  It played nearly constantly for the first couple of hours after she got it…

I had made a chocolate cake, as ordered, and decorated it with heart-shaped sprinkles, which met her specification that the cake be decorated with “pink love hearts”.  The Dad and I stayed at daycare for the morning tea “party”.  Everyone sang, the cake was served, and daycare’s own little birthday rituals were observed.  Babess sat up straight and beamed a shy-but-proud smile.

Tonight we had her choice of meal, sausages and rice, followed by more cake.  She has talked to Nana, and Grandma and Grandad, and had emails from aunts and cousins.

All due fuss has been made, and she has enjoyed it.  She said to me tonight, “I’m da birfday girl, aren’t I?”

“Yes, you are today.”

“And Fainjin’s birfday is tomorrow, isn’t it?”

“Um, no, it’s not.”

“Ohhh.” She was sad – she has had a great time and wants her big brother to have a turn too.  She was cheered up to know that Pearl’s birthday is only three months away… and her own “family party” is yet to come!

© UpsideBackwards 2011.


June 17, 2011

I knew when I was planning our trip away that leaving the little ones behind would have consequences.

Babess has been very clingy to me this week.  She doesn’t want The Dad to do anything for her, and if he tries there’s a very loud “Nooooo!  Mummy do it!”  But she is getting more reasonable as time goes on, and I’m enjoying the extra snuggles.

Fainjin has taken advantage of the small concessions granted him while I was away, and has been demanding that the TV go on in the mornings and resisting wearing undies (he was in pull-ups for a few days during a tummy bug).  Firm boundaries have been re-established and I think we’ll soon be back on track.

But the most surprising thing for me has been seeing how much they have grown up in just under a month.  I suppose they do it all the time, but seeing them every day I don’t notice.  Babess is talking a lot more, she is very conversational and chatty now.  Fainjin is just more grown-up somehow, perhaps more thoughtful.  He enjoys describing his day to me and recalling things that have happened.  He also comes out with random pieces of wisdom – yesterday over breakfast he said, “Mum.  Jaguars are really good swimmers”, then went right on eating his cereal.

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Almost as far from home as it’s possible to get

May 28, 2011

Pearl and I were very lucky to have a second chance to get together with WhyMommy, and she invited Jessica and Jean and Kristen to join us for tea, donuts and chocolate.  It was a wonderful morning, full of laughter and joy and I got to hold Baby Alice who is very sweet.  I feel blessed to have finally met Susan, we clicked instantly and I feel like I have another best friend!

But now, already, we have left the US and are in London.  The flight over was very bumpy to begin with, but we each got a couple of hours sleep and managed to stay awake to walk around and look at some of the city yesterday afternoon.  The weather was typically unpredictable, with sunshine, thunder, lightning, hail, and torrential rain all taking their turn.

We got to bed at about “bedtime”, and slept through until morning – how wonderful!  Very nice to feel awake and refreshed at the proper hour of the day, especially after such a long trip.

We spent today at the British Museum.  Our friend C, who is hosting us, came along to add local commentary which was great fun.  We picked up an activity booklet on my favouritest-ever exhibit, the Sutton Hoo treasure, and Pearl happily found all the bits and pieces and learned lots.

cool old gold!

Then we wandered through the Roman Britain rooms and through to see some Egyptian mummies – Pearl was keen until she realised she was looking at dead bodies.

We had lunch near the museum with another friend, G, and swapped family news and tales.  Letters and emails are all very well, but it’s more fun to talk in person!  Even if it is only every five or six years…

G accompanied us all back to the museum, where we picked up a children’s activity backpack on Roman Britain.  I cannot recommend these packs highly enough.  When we had finished the Roman one, we went back and got another, this one on South Asia.  Not just Pearl, but we all four of us, learnt a lot about the exhibits we saw, and they have wonderful activities which bring the history and cultures to life.  Pearl made a mosaic, tried Roman sandals, “built” a couple of temples, and learned quite a bit about Buddhism.  At a large sculpture of Siva and Parvati, we had objects to compare to the carvings.  A passing Indian tourist showed us how to play the little cymbals, and was glad to explain the significance of other pieces of the sculpture as well.  Just this one day in the museum probably justifies the 3 1/2 weeks of school Pearl is missing!

Pearl reading the Roman Britain backpack instructions

Pearl dressed up as Lord Ganesha for the South Asian backpack activity

We managed to escape the gift shop without too much damage, startled to discover that it was nearly 7pm by the time we got home. Now it is already past “bedtime”, and with another very full day planned (probably over-planned) for tomorrow, I had best be off.

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

UpsideBackwards Around The World

May 20, 2011

Pearl and I fled the country on Wednesday.  We are on a Big Trip, not quite around the world, but to the other side and back again.  It’s a big deal for both of us, although we are both already fairly well-travelled; for me, because of leaving the little ones at home with The Dad, and for Pearl because she gets lots of Mummy-time in new(ish) places and because she doesn’t remember most of her earlier travels.

Our first leg was also our longest: New Zealand to the east coast of the USA.  Hello, Washington DC!  We are lucky enough to have friends here who will put up with us and put us up.  It’s lovely to be staying with people in their home, part of the family, rather than in impersonal hotels and fending for ourselves.

Stars & Stripes - photo by Pearl

The trip was relatively uneventful.  Our flights were quite bumpy, but nothing too alarming.  The long flight to Los Angeles was made easier by individual entertainment systems allowing movies and tv on demand.  Pearl watched three movies!  The timing was awkward, we left at 1pm, so weren’t tired until we had been on the plane for several hours, and then had “breakfast” served at what felt like 10 or 11pm, just a couple of hours before we landed and had to face Customs & Immigration at LAX.

I was anxious about a 3-hour layover, thinking it might not be enough time based on previous experience.  But we were out of the international terminal within an hour, and walked to our next terminal.  There we discovered a phenomenally long queue to get through security.  We could see the line snaking around the mezzanine floor, and marvelled at it.  Then we realised that the end of the line was on the ground floor, and out the door.  We went out to find the back of it, and walked about 100m to find it!  But it did move very quickly, and within about 40 minutes we were waiting at our gate, plenty of time to spare.

In Washington our friends were waiting for us, and we were whisked around the Beltway and home for dinner and bed.  (You can tell how much your friends really like you by their willingness to meet you and drive you home on the Beltway at rush-hour.)

This morning we woke (I woke at 4am, jetlagged after the 27-hour trip, but Pearl slept quite late!) and went for a walk through the neighbourhood.  Pearl eagerly took photos of every unfamiliar thing – Canada geese (with goslings!), trees we don’t see at home, flowers on the roundabout…  She is missing three weeks of school for this trip, so her “homework” is to blog about it on the school web.  Primary school has changed a lot since my day!  I might reproduce-with-permission some of her blog posts as we go along.

Canada geese and Canada goslings!

Roundabout (or traffic circle, if you prefer) - photo by Pearl

This afternoon we had the most marvellous time.  We met Stimey and Whymommy!  Jean (Stimey) was kind enough to invite us to her house, and Susan (Whymommy) met us there.  Pearl was fascinated by Jean’s pet mice, and loved playing with her children’s toys.  A bowl of goldfish crackers went down well too.

Susan and I cracked up when Jean brought out afternoon tea – along with some cookies, there was a bowl of kiwifruit!  I hadn’t met either of these wonderful women before, but we have blogged together and emailed and tweeted, and we just settled into conversation as if we had all known each other for years.  It was the most amazing feeling.  Susan described us perfectly as “best friends who’d never met”.

We have talked with The Dad, Fainjin and Babess through the miracle of webcams and internet, and they seem to be doing well.  Being able to see and talk to them does make being away a lot easier emotionally.  I hope The Dad will put up a few guest posts in the next couple of weeks so I can keep up with their cute sayings and doings.

Now – time to sleep.  I just have to convince myself it’s 10pm, not 2pm…

trees - photo by Pearl

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

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