Saturday, 29 March 2014

This is why people normally do the married thing before they have kids

I was just reading this post which I found through ikea hackers (sorry, but actual decoration blogs of people with perfect homes and even more perfect accessories just make me feel jealous and depressed, especially when I look around my own house which is full of "That'll do for now" and "mismatched and/or shabby, but definitely not chic" and "My landlord's taste in decoration (and budget)." - but I digress. I really liked the little anecdote they had about choosing lamps, and how having matching taste in lamps (or not) can seem like the MOST pressing and MOST ridiculously important thing at the time and the author managed to convey very convincingly the sheer panic of realising that, fuck, I've decided to spend my life with this person and what if we don't agree on the best way to make sandwiches???

We had a definite sandwich moment today. I bought a baguette, a real French baguette, and felt all pleased with myself and cultural as I carried it home in my arms because I hadn't brought my bag, and presented it to Creepy with a flourish. "I bought lunch!" I said proudly. "Now we can make a picnic if we need to go out!" He was pleased but said he wasn't ready to go yet. It was his weekend to choose, so I sat down and internetted for a while until he got up and looked as though he was starting to make sandwiches.

First he complained that I could have got some actual food. I felt deflated. I had specifically not bought things like meat and other fillings because the last time I remembered looking in the fridge, we had enough. Secret of Adulthood #1: Remember that groceries (and other supplies) can also get used up by people other than you. Anyway, he set about making some sandwiches and I said, oh, I'll make my own. I had a very specific idea of a sandwich, and I didn't want him ruining it when I'd gone to the trouble of actually buying nice bread. He refused and I became a bit panicky. I may have shouted at this point. He later told me that I had, anyway. So then he got a bit antsy at being shouted at and basically it was all one big mood/weird/disaster. All over a stupid sandwich. And he cut the bread wrong, so even when I made my own sandwich, it wasn't what I wanted it to be anyway. AND HELLO IT WAS A FUCKING SANDWICH.

And I can look back at this and realise that it's just all kinds of ridiculous, and would it have even mattered if he made my sandwich with the gross kind of weird sausage, and anyway HE WAS ASKING what I wanted in it, but instead I just panicked because he didn't do it in the same way as me. And I hate the way that he fries foods, but I've sort of lost how to ask "Please could you try using a bit less fat or drain it before you put mine on the plate or at least use a nice kind of oil and not the cheapest vegetable oil in the supermarket" without whining or shouting or panicking (which leads to shouting, which I don't get. How come me from the non-shouty to the point of frustrating family explodes at the slightest stress whereas he from the shouting-replaces-all-emotion family hates shouting and really doesn't know how to deal with it?)

We keep having total communication failures as well currently. Tonight we both failed to put Mini D to bed because we were assuming the other was doing it. When we went around the supermarket I was told halfway through "Well you're supposed to be seeing what we need for X situation" Thanks. Would have been nice to know that from the start! And the other weekend we argued about whether we had planned to clean that weekend or not. And this is really hard - to resolve when every time I try to resolve something I feel either attacked or terrified (not him, just previous abuse stuff coming up) overthink how to say it, fight the tendency to shout by having a shouting match in my head which then leads to tears because it doesn't get resolved. I want to be able to have these conversations with him but it feels unfair to do that around Mini D when I am prone to shouting or crying and don't seem to be able to resolve things without either of those happening. It would have been nice, on reflection, to have time without him to figure that kind of stuff out.

Sunday, 16 March 2014


I swear I need some kind of electronic shock reminder for this writing thing. Then again, knowing me, I'd just ignore it anyway.

This week has mostly been spent ill, at least by Mini-D who got a bout of Scarlet Fever. (He's fine) But this weekend has been nice, a really lovely smooth example of how things work when we aren't overwhelmed by tiredness.

On Saturday Creepy got up with Mini-D when he came to badger me, which was a nice change - I usually reluctantly get up and Creepy sleeps until lunchtime or I will sort of stubbornly not get up and then feel crappy about leaving Mini to his own devices for around 5 hours. (He's fine. He minecrafts and watches TV and pootles in his room.) I fell back to sleep (although I felt OK) and they snuck out of the house to get haircuts and pastries! It was nice to be woken up by two neat, handsome boys on their return (and the bringing of chocolate bread was a great touch too!)

The rest of the weekend was one big roll of pretty much perfect co-operation. Creepy did the dishes while I woke up and ate, I helped Mini set up Terraria (it was his weekend to pick what we do, so, of course, VIDEO GAME FEST!), we played for a bit, Creepy joined in, I got bored and went to do my own thing. Sorted some laundry and vegged on facebook etc. Later Creepy got bored of Terraria too so Mini and I played Worms for (actually hours... oops) while Creepy had a nap and then washed up the lunch plates. I made dinner, sorted some more laundry, chilled out. Creepy put Mini to bed while I was in the cellar with the washing machine, which was a surprise. We basically had an entire evening together without one of us being knackered which hasn't happened in ages.

Today, I did the early shift, started new minecraft world, was going well until epic tantrum of RAGE, decided that although it had been colder, we really needed to get out. So we went on a walk which ended up being right up the castle where you can see around all of the surrounding towns and villages and is pretty fun to do. It was so windy that Mini was being literally blown around, which he found hilarious. Luckily the railings at the castle are thick, close together and almost come up to the top of his head, so I wasn't anxious. It was so funny though, he was laughing so much he was actually squealing with delight, and he's 5 now, those moments don't come so often when you have to be a really grown up cool person.

I made dinner for everyone this time which was pork chops, potato wedges and a sweetcorn salad (tinned sweetcorn, drained, mixed about 60:40 with chopped red pepper, and about 10% little bits of red onion, with mint. It was really surprisingly nice, which was good as I'd just sort of made it up as I went along. We always seem to eat the same side dishes with things - chips or vegetables or a really terrible salad, and I was getting bored of it. Now we are slowly accumulating the parts of an entire kitchen, it's nice to use it. Anyway, the wedges and chops both ended up slightly overdone but it was nice all the same, and it felt really good to be eating proper food as opposed to convenience food or endless pasta (though, I made a really nice pasta sauce last night too!)

At some point in the day Mini said "It's really fun to take turns choosing what we want to do for the weekend, isn't it?" and I just thought it was really lovely, to hear him say that. It's pretty much been a perfect weekend, ideals-wise. We've both done a decent amount of input into the housework without it feeling overwhelming or a drag, and it looks pretty nice in the house too, we've done individual activities with MD and also family activities and the three of us have each had time on our own. It's been restful and fun and restoring and close and just nice :) It's nice to get things right every once in a while.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

One more thing - scheduling.

You'd think I'd have learnt this by now. When someone asks "Are you free to do X" it's perfectly fine to just say "Let me check and get back to you" and not just "Yes". Leads to all sorts of headaches and ridiculousness when I actually check with the other people and they say no.

Bad Habits

When you have a baby, everyone warns you against getting into bad habits. "Don't pick them up every time they cry!" they say, "they'll expect it every time!". Never use a sling, or they'll be clingy. Don't feed them to sleep, they'll never sleep through. Definitely don't ever let them sleep in your bed unless you want them there at 12. Bad habits, they tut ominously.

I never found these bad habits at the time and I find them even less so now. I got into bad habits, I'm still trying to get out of them. Bad habits are not loving your child too much, being too available to them or undertaking any kind of solution which keeps them happy, quite the opposite. I did every one of the "bad habits" for babies and toddlers. Fed to sleep, co-slept, picked up when he cried, even gave into pleading on occasion. I regret none of it, and treasure the memories of him falling contentedly to sleep next to me, peacefully, with no fear or dread of bedtime.

I do regret getting into the bad habit of not saying "I love you" enough. It doesn't come easily to me, and although my own mother regularly said it to me I found it hard to say it back, it was often mumbled and muffled or just plain avoided. I don't know why this is and it's always bothered me. When I was 14 I wrote her a letter trying to explain this, and I think she still has it.

I have made an effort to try and say "I love you" - at bedtime, at kindergarten drop off time, when I leave the house. It's helped. And the look of happiness and pride on his face reminds me how important it is. It took about two weeks until he started saying it back, I think that's how long it took him to really hear it and believe it, that reminded me as well how important it really is.

I got into the bad habit of saying no. This is another thing that they tell you is a bad habit, not saying no enough, which isn't true. It's easy to say no too much. No we can't go to the park. No I don't want to play. No, later. No, not right now. No, I don't want to hear you. No, you are not important to me. No, just leave me alone. I didn't say the last three of course but I am sure he has heard them, implicitly, with all of the other "No"s. I am not very good at changing this but I would like to. We played Uno today, which I didn't want to do, but enjoyed.

I have a bad habit of hiding myself away and not engaging with anything real or human, unless I can do it through a screen. Of course, he copies this. It is a struggle to drag him away from minecraft. But when it does happen, it is beautiful and he has a wonderful time. I need to remember this and do it more often too.

I read something recently which I thought was brilliant, I could not find the original source, but the author described a "Nice, nice, nice...furious!" cycle that she found herself in with her children. I have to say that I smiled as I read this as I can totally see myself in the same thing. That is one I am happily breaking. It still happens but less so. And we are happier.

What are your bad parenting habits?