Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Me, Being Mummy: Week 49 Social Anxiety

I have always liked my own company. It's a family joke that when I was younger, my mum arranged a play date and before the other kid's mum had even left I tugged on my mum's arm and said the infamous line 'Can they go home now please? I've had enough'.

Mortifying for her but innocent honesty from me. It is a sentiment that I have rarely grown out of. I find socialising quite hard... which a lot of people would balk at because on the outside, I come across as a chatty, outgoing and sociable kind of person. Hell! I even chose one of the most sociable professions going by becoming a bloody hair and makeup artist?! Go figure that one out.
The reasons behind my social anxiety are known to me. Painful memories from childhood, sensitivity to other people, paranoia of being watched and judged, vulnerability... plain and simple shyness. I'm shy by nature, it's just who I am. At 14 I was still begging my mum to purchase my bus ticket for me... so painful was it to try and make eye contact with a stranger and summon up my voice to ask for my fare.

Some can skip off out of the front door without a second thought but I bide my time. I stall. I find getting to a place on time pressurising, and my response to pressure is to hold back and bury my head in the sand. Or under a duvet... same effect. I try to go minute to minute but the mind races ahead to all the different steps it takes to get myself ready and out the door. Then there comes what I like to call 'the red zone', that bit of time where you go from being on track to becoming late. Once I hit 'the red zone', panic brings on adrenalin which spurs me on to run about like a mad person, cramming all the steps it takes to get ready in 45 minute into 15 instead. I procrastinate over odds and ends, social media keeps me distracted from what I know I need to do... which is to just get ready!

Small things leave my heart racing and my skin crawling. Ordering food in a restaurant. Any form of public transport. Just public interactions in general! Asking for any sort of assistance in public is torturous (pride fuels this one) and once led me to walk around the supermarket for 25 minutes looking for cous cous because I couldn't bring myself to ask where it was (for anyone else in the same shoes ... try world foods).

Answering the phone or even making a phone call is like the front line for me. Nerve wracking and sweaty palm inducing! My tongue ties itself in a knot and I lose all coordination with my brain and voice. Most people will notice I text or email, its simply so I can think clearly and not make a prat of myself. It interferes with my day to day running of things.... especially with regards to taking bookings for work and making more social plans to get scared of.

I'm writing about it now because something happened to me a few weeks ago. I was due to meet a friend in town with BB and we ran ridiculously late. Not because of my anxiety for once, this time was down to a crazy amount of traffic that left me and baby waiting in the car at a stand still for over an hour! Said friend got angry about waiting and left for home, missing us by just 5 minutes. Her anger at me (via text message of course) touched upon my always being late and cancelling things at last minute. She shamed me about it and it struck me as much as a slap in the face. And since then I have felt really out of sorts, more so than normal!

I am terrible at time keeping. But not because of being lazy or disregarding the importance of other people's time. Simply because sometimes I can't physically get somewhere because it is emotionally hard to get there.

Perhaps it's my fault for pretending to be something I am not. For giving off an air of confidence when the complete opposite is the truth. In the right company, and the right setting, I can certainly feel comfortable and socialise with ease. But for the most part, the world seems such a scary place and my home plus the little family I have in it seem much easier and nicer to submerge myself into.
Motherhood challenges this side of me like nothing ever has before. There's pressure to put all my neurosis aside so as not to influence BB and cause him to miss out on socialising. Interaction, social stimulation and constant activity is something we, as mothers, get encouraged to do and mummy guilt hits if these needs aren't met.

So I keep trying and testing my boundaries. I think I would feel so responsible if BB was unable to ask for a bus ticket or answer the phone. But, if he does follow in my footsteps and get shy and anxious over seemingly little things, I won't shame him or make him feel like he is crazy. I will hold his hand and tell him it's ok. That he won't be hurt and shouldn't feel ashamed. I will make him see that we are all warriors fighting our own inner battles that others can't see. And I will reassure him that I believe in him, and that I have his back.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Me, Being Mummy: Week 48: Cbeebies

Cbeebies has become a part of life. Gone are the mornings off, watching Jeremy Kyle or Come Dine with Me marathons of a weekend. Now, I have Mr Tumble and The Octanauts instead. I don't mind of course. These characters fascinate BB which means that they keep him company whilst I run around like a deranged rabbit, tidying house and catching up on some work. But I do find myself watching things too as I go about my business, and I have some observations and also burning questions that have cropped up since becoming a regular viewer. Let me divulge:

Disclaimer: All following observations are made in jest... I know we can all get quite protective of our little Cbeebies characters from time to time so no hate mail please!

1) Mr Tumble aka Justin Fletcher is a bit like superman. Firstly, he has about a gazillion characters he portrays in multiple programmes and never does he tire out! On camera at least, I'm sure he's prostrate in his dressing room with a beer as we speak. He also has the most thinly veiled costumes/disguises and I genuinely don't think that children figure it out that all the characters are just one person... a bit like when Superman just wears less spandex and glasses when he becomes Clark Kent. Plus, Justin knows sign language! So impressive. I've been known to practice signing once or twice/every time it's been on. I'm now fluent in the words 'thank you', 'friends' and 'hamster'.

2) Bing Bunny is rather cute but killed a butterfly which made for awkward viewing although I try not to hold prejudice because it was an accident that Flopp couldn't fix. Incidentally, Flopp is his sidekick/carer/possible parent who guides Bing Bunny through life's dramas (including killing insects) and looks like a cross between a squirrel and a doorstop. If he is Bing Bunny's Dad then I am intrigued to see what Bing's mother looks like and if she's hiding a secret. Who are Bing's parents?! Watch it, the size difference is eyebrow raising.

Note: A friend of mine recently pointed out that Bing wears dungarees all the time and we both agreed that must be a nightmare for potty training.

3) Sarah and Duck - possibly the most boring intro and outro credits known to man.

4) Rebecca from Let's Play is every Dad's Cbeebies eye candy. And also a talented actress as she nails all types of accents on the show!

5) Speaking of eye candy, for us Mums, it's slim pickings really. It's a toss up between Mr Bloom or Andy from Andy 's prehistoric adventures. On a good day they both look attractive. If I squint.

6) Andy's Prehistoric Adventures throws up lost of questions. Such as 'Why is the natural history museum never rammed?' Why are there only at max 4 staff?' 'How can Andy piss about with lots of dangerous flesh eating dinosaurs and NEVER get nibbled on?' and 'If there was a massive time travelling clock in the middle of the museum, how did Andy find it and noone else even notice??'.

7) Grandpa in My Pocket is about a Grandpa who has a hat that shrinks him down to the size of a borrower and he can bring toy travel to life through flying toy aeroplanes and driving cars. Where did he get this hat?? Why doesn't he fly off to warmer, sunnier climates? Plus he can run around at top speed whilst tiny but full size he's aged and, according to his naive daughter/daughter in law, takes a lot of naps?? Sneaky Grandpa.

8) I Can Cook is like watching an accident waiting to happen. Kids with scissors... eek!

9) Waybaloo is great for learning yoga! Watching kids react to CGI is also hilariously naff. 

10) Peter Rabbit and Friends would make Beatrix Potter rather proud of herself for still entertaining the younger generations over a century on from her first publication. The show brought a tear to my eye the other day after it touched upon the death of Peter Rabbit's father who was put in a pie, and his family watched an old movie reel with him scampering about all happy and carefree before his demise.. Heavy stuff for 4yrs and under.... and almost 30yrs+ so it seems. Pass me a tissue *sniff*

11) Melody is about a girl who listens to music and uses it to create a story. Reminds me of a Cbeebie's version of Fantasia. Is her mum really her mum though? 

12) Tree Fu Tom has a friend called Areola. Nuff said. 

13) Topsy and Tim are not related or under 5 years old. They are nearing double digits and the whole family make my toes curl. From Topsy's annoying hair do, to Tim's over enthusiasm at EVERYTHING, whilst their smug Mum handles every situation (including work AND moving house!) with a sweet high octave voice and their Dad comes across as perfect when he is most probably shagging his secretary or running up high bills on phone chat lines or something. They ruin all the love I had for the books as a child, hence my irrational animosity!

14) The Twirlywoos are just pure genius. Mostly because they render BB mute and immobile for 10 minutes. But also because they are cute, funny and I actually have no idea what they are. Turkeys? Chickens? Long lost, far distant cousins of Pingu?? I dunno, but I love 'em!

15) In the Night Garden petrifies both myself and BB. The Ninky Nonk in particular seems to trigger our fear... along with the weird 'singing' from the Toucan. All the characters look high (mostly like the creators of the show) and Upsy Daisy has a really unhealthy habit of flashing her knickers at any given opportunity! And Iggle Piggle needs the 3 day Nanny as he's never in bed. 

NOTE: This show also fills me with terror as it is the last show that Cbeebies plays of an evening before the channel finishes for the day and signals bedtime/free time for all parents out there. I have been known to panic and exclaim to PB on several occasions: 'Quick! Oh my God! The night garden is on and he hasn't even had dinner yet?! Shit, shit shit. SHIT!'.

Additional observations and findings from this week:

- Myself and my sister took a jaunt to The Bluebell Walk in Arlington the other day. It was raining and muddy plus I ran late due to BB wetting himself through twice and the petrol light decided to come on just as we were leaving, but hey, we made it through full of optimism and relief at being out in the fresh air! I will never wear converse trainers out on a walk in the mud again though. Wellies shall be purchased! My sister bravely saved myself and BB from sliding down the muddy bank into the neighbouring ponds and rivers several times and of course, BB ate wotsits, drank his milk and slept through all the dramas, screams and giggle fits. My nephew recreated the scene from the Vicar of Dibley by jumping in a puddle that came up to his waist and lost his wellington boot (which was subsequently rescued again by my superwoman Sister) and my niece chattered away the whole time and tried to show me her newly acquired bottle of bubbles whilst I was grappling with my buggy and doing the splits on a particularly slippery part of a muddy slope. Even now I am laughing. It was a very funny adventure!

- City Jogger buggies are aptly named and only good for the City. On muddy walks on uneven trails and ploughed fields I would have been better off with a wheelbarrow. 
- BB crawled properly for the first time this week! I managed to capture it for my memories to refer back to and to show him in years to come. So chuffed!
- Congestion has been plaguing BB for the best part of 3 weeks and this past weekend found me having the Doctor visit the house at 3am. Soluble steroids have been given to help his breathing, especially at night and I am running on empty thanks to a significant lack of sleep. If this post is incoherent then accept the apologies of a very tired Mummy. 
- Wotsits are BB's latest find. As are breadsticks. 
- Housework is so far down the priority list that I currently have no clean forks, glasses or normal bras. My sports bra crop tops are my emergency back up. I'd forgotten how comfy they are?! 

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Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Me, Being Mummy : Week 47

It's amazing the changes that happen with babies. One minute they are microscopic, just a dream that you are willing to come true. The next, you find yourself watching them in their jumperoo as they give tigger a run for his money!

We've tried to get BB to embrace the joys of his jumperoo ever since November last year. He wasn't too keen at first, slightly overwhelmed by all the gadgets and gizmos he faced alongside the jazzy lights and music that sprung to life at his every move... which were jerky and uncoordinated due to the uncertainty of being suspended in mid air by a seat consisting of cotton material with two leg holes. Slightly unnerving in comparison to the sturdy embrace of an adults arms, you can understand his reservations.

But something has changed in the past week or so and one afternoon this week, he simply got the hang of it and started to jump around. Leap even! He just took off, propelling himself this way and that whilst grinning at us with a mixture of pride and glee! I clapped and cheered him along, my cheering changing to laughter when he paused and nonchalantly reached round to casually spin a plastic bubble with a plastic monkey face and beads rattling around in it. Another endearing and magical moment into the mummy memory archive!

Additional information and findings from this week :

- Babies have constant colds and congestion. We get rid of one and another one immediately takes its place. I can't remember the last time he wasn't snuffly or coughing. Which means I can't remember the last time I wasn't either!
- Jumperoos look like real fun. I wouldn't mind having an adult version whilst watching telly of an evening. But instead of various monkey rattles and lights, I'd have a wine dispenser and built in wifi.
- Since moving into a more countryside setting, our cats have taken it upon themselves to cull the field mouse and shrew population in our near vicinity. Rodent corpses have been littering our home like some amateur nod towards taxidermy. PB is loathed to touch them so 9 times out of 10, I become undertaker. It's a grim task and I'm still trying to perfect picking them up and disposing of them without repeating 'ew ew ew ew ew, gross gross gross gross GROSS!'. Bloody felines.
- I have been making quite a few observations about cbeebies and am now quite on the way to being a well seasoned viewer. Am planning a post all about my burning questions and issues, ranging from who the hell are Bing Bunny's parents to why don't the cast of Balamory ever change their clothes??
- I have coped with interrupted sleep and early mornings for well over a year now (pregnancy gives us a heads up on sleep deprivation!) and only the past week or so have I started to really resent getting up halfway through the night and early in the morning. Maybe it's being back at work that is making it unbearable, or maybe it's because we have had a few nights untainted by interruption... but either way, I miss my quality slumber. If you are reading this and have the joy of 8+ hours of blissful shut eye, make the most of every second of it. Do it for me!
- Over a year of sleep deprivation +  work stresses + housework + sick household + dead rodents = a grumpy mummy bear. Hopefully this week will see me being and feeling a little more perky! Just like Topsy and Tim's mum on cbeebies....
Note: that would be a fate worse than death. The woman is positively smug and makes me feel both sick and inadequate all at the same time. Google it. The woman is a robot I swear!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Me, Being Mummy: Week 46 Working Mummy Guilt

I love my baby. And I love my job. Not in equal measures of course, nothing will compare to the love I have for my child.

But see, right there... that last sentence is fuelled by Mummy Guilt. The reassurance and affirmation that nothing is bigger or better than baby!

I was petrified about leaving work to start our family. I was induced 5 weeks early... a blessing in one way for it skipped me the whole waiting and watching side of things but in other ways, my fears went through the roof! Upon being told about our induction plans, PB was overjoyed and excited at meeting our son early and my response was 'B...bbb...but I have work tomorrow?!'. Having the control and the independence stripped from me was scary and I felt so scared.

Mother's are workers regardless. Stay at home, working, part time or full time mums, we all put in hard graft in different ways. And we all face different guilt through our choices.

As a working mum, I get hit with the guilt truck multiple times a day. I'll be answering texts and emails whilst spooning Ready Brek into BB's mouth and half way through, mummy guilt radar sounds and I force myself to put my phone down and focus on BB's spoon to mouth movements. And I feel bad for ever picking the phone up in the first place.

Or I will sometimes take BB to bookings with me (I'm a hair and makeup artist by trade) if they coincide with my childcare days and he will sit in a corner with toys and an ipad whilst I try and do a good job despite having one eye and ear fixed on my precious assistant across the room. Then, as I drag him in and out of the car with all my equipment and baby paraphernalia, the mummy guilt hits me and I find myself getting tearful on the way home because it is past his tea time and he can't understand why I am in the room but not in the room at the same time.

Then there is the fact that you enjoy your work and being away from motherhood for a little while. Work suddenly becomes a haven. A place where you can pee in peace, eat a sandwich without one hand spooning puree into a mouth and no need to be on alert for choking risks. You can soak up conversation that doesn't just consist of vowels and being on your phone isn't a bad thing.
And feeling that great about going to work makes you check yourself. Like there's a little Self Doubt Fairy sat on your shoulder, whispering things in your ear... Things like 'Are you sure we shouldn't be spending more time at home? Are you sure you shouldn't be enjoying changing a nappy as much as you do blowdrying someone's hair?'.

Then I catch said Fairy and banish her outside. She can piss off. Aside from needing to work financially, I also need to work because if I didn't, I wouldn't be a very good Mum. I would be resentful and bored. Controversial as it may be to say,  but being SEO at Mummy Ltd isn't enough of a role for me. I love it but I also love having a little space in my life where I can remember who I was before BB came along, I need the pride I take in my hard worked for skills and I also need interaction with adults.

So I do my best to balance things as best I can. I tread this tight rope line that divides selfishness and self preservation.

And so far; I haven't fallen off.

Additional information and findings from this week : 

- Brushing BB's teeth is possibly my least favourite task as his Mummy. He fights against me big time, flailing his head about and kicking his legs with gusto as I try to brush 6 little nuggets of enamel with a Star Wars themed stick with bristles attached. One night found me being ninja kicked in the oesophagus as I leant over to reach his mouth. Ouch. 
- I have been taking BB out in his buggy every afternoon that I've not been working, now that the weather is getting nicer again. It takes a real push on the tired days but once we're out I'm always glad to have done it. 

Swing time!

- This week found us having the first morning where we came into BB's room to find him sitting up, playing in his cot. He usually can't get himself from laying down to sitting up on his own whilst in his sleeping bag, but his confidence with movement has soared in the past week and myself and PB were awestruck to walk into his room and find him happily playing with his soft toy rabbit. Proud moment for sure!
- Said soft toy Rabbit is called Babbit. He only lives in BB's nursery and so far has never ventured out from the cot. I picture him as a quiet little bunny with a lot of patience. And resilience... he doesn't seem to put up any fight when having his ears chewed whilst BB falls asleep! 

A proud BB sitting up all on his own in bed for the first time, with Babbit for company in the background. 

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