Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Oh, the embarrassment...

Today, I was inaugurated into the world of 'what will they say next' parenting in super style. It has taken two years and ten months of motherhood for my son to come out with something really embarrassing in public but I fear that as he gets older, talks more and tries to understand more of the world around him, we only have worse to come.

So this afternoon, we were in the supermarket chatting away about what was going on around us, when my eldest son made an observation: "Mummy, lady got a baby in her tummy!" The problem was that the lady in question didn't appear to actually have a baby in her tummy at all; she was, I think, just on the large side. And with the usual two year old volume level, there was no way she would not have heard.

Cue Mummy trying to distract toddler with questions about what type of cereal we should get and keeping my head down until the lady had passed. I was so embarassed and felt so bad for her, yet didn't know whether apologising would make things worse, so chose to pretend I'd not even heard Isaac say anything.

It made me realise (again) how much we have to teach our children about social skills to enable them to live in society and make friends (and not offend people!). It is, I fear, going to be a long, and embarrassing road!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

God knows.

Today I bundled my boys into the double buggy (as the only way to keep them both dry from the rain!) and walked to our local supermarket to stock up on a few items.

The trip was uneventful, in the sense of no crying, tantrums or meltdowns (from me or them!) but as we reached the checkout I was aware that lunch time was looming and they were getting tired.

There followed the usual checkout routine of trying to keep them both happy, dishing out snacks and drinks, letting my eldest help load things onto the checkout belt, letting my youngest hold items that he couldn't open and generally trying to pack everything into the buggy as quickly as possible to make a quick exit.

Just as we were about to leave, the lady in the queue behind me tapped me on the arm and told me: "I think you're doing wonderfully."

At a time when I am struggling with a tenacious one year old who seems to be practicing for a career as a mountaineer, and a two year old who has read and digested every last sentence in the 'Terrible Twos Handbook' I do not often feel at the moment that I am doing wonderfully.

When I told my hubby, he suggested that maybe she had been an angel. Angel or not, it was a lovely reminder that God knows my needs and wants to meet them in unexpected ways.

Friday, 27 April 2012

A year ago today....

If my first labour had been filmed for the television series 'One Born every Minute' it would have required an entire episode, and then some! So when baby number two was due, I was very blasé about the fact, and certain that whatever happened we would have plenty of time.

So this time last year I had bid hubby farewell on a night out in central London and had a date with chocolates, a magazine and a long soak in the bath. Child number one having just gone to bed happily, baby decided that he had other plans: my waters broke round about the time that hubby was hopping onto the tube for a 40 minute journey.

'It's fine,' I told myself, calling the hospital, an emergency babysitter and my parents, before leaving a fairly calm message on Dave's phone telling him to turn around and come back. A trip to the hospital to be assessed lasted no more than half an hour before we were heading homewards again 'to get some rest' before labour began. An hour later we were back on our way to hospital, with me trying to control the urge to push.

To cut a short story even shorter, baby narrowly avoided being born in the empty reception area of the hospital just after midnight, and a very kind maintenance man helped us up to the delivery suite with the reassuring words as we were entering the lift that he had "delivered a baby four years ago" so knew what to do!

Thinking back to a year ago, I have some many wonderful memories: of first cuddles; first feeds; watching the man I know and love as he changes and dresses our new perfect baby who I don't yet know, but love beyond belief; lying next to him on the ward as daylight started creeping through the blinds, unable to take my eyes of this tiny peaceful bundle that God had seen fit to gift to us; committing his little life into God's hands.

One might be born every minute, but each one is precious and unique and planned by God. And as we celebrate the first year of my little one's life this weekend I want to thank Him for our son and commit him again to God.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Sleep, blessed sleep!

Sleep is very important in our household: both hubby and I enjoy sleep enormously and are definitely not morning people. I was aware that this would be challenged when babies arrived on the scene, but naively hoped that it would be very short lived!

Sleep is a very emotive subject with parents of small children because lack of it (on the parts of both parents and children) can literally make or break your day. Then there are the different approaches to sleep and the 'experts' who will argue that children should be on a strict routine from day one and must learn to sleep on their own, or the other 'experts' who argue that co-sleeping is by far the best thing for babies to develop bonds with their parents.

I have friends at both ends of the spectrum and would argue that neither approach is right or wrong, but that if the chosen options work for the individual families then all is good.

For us, co-sleeping could never be an option because I know that I would never get any sleep for worrying about the baby in my bed, so with our eldest we opted for our own version of the crying-it-out approach, which involved hubby sitting outside the door and going in to baby every couple of minutes to stroke and reassure him (all while I was in another room trying to get some sleep between feeds!) I have to say that for us, this approach worked and we have an eldest child who from three months has slept well and knows that night time is for sleeping.

However, with baby number 2 (it's supposed to be easier second time round, right?) this approach didn't work and by 3 months old we had a baby and two parents who were utterly distraught come bedtime. Nothing settled him except feeding him to sleep, but then he would wake up as soon as I put him back in his crib. Because I knew that co-sleeping would not work for me we had completely run out of ideas.

Everything reached it's peak on holiday last June when I had been lying on the floor (Baby J was in a pop-up cot) stroking, shushing and generally trying to calm him to sleep (after hubby had already tried for a long time and failed.) I suddenly, almost audibly, heard God telling me to pray. Not the kind of desperate  'please God, help him to sleep' prayers that I'd been praying up until that point, but really pray. So I did.

"Father fill J with your love and your peace" was the phrase that seemed to have been put on my heart, and which I started repeating over and over. Almost immediately, the crying ceased. I felt God telling me to keep praying; that J would start crying again, but that I should keep praying and then he would settle to sleep eventually. J started crying again, I carried on praying. I can honestly say that it felt like a real spiritual battle was taking place.

"Father fill J with your love and your peace." As I prayed those words over and over I became aware that my child is God's child; that He wanted to love and protect him as much, and more even, than I did. I realised that God knows our love for our children because He gave us that love.

Eventually J stopped crying and fell asleep. We had a few more nights of those prayers and slowly my little one started to calm down at bed times. It didn't make everything perfect but he seemed from then on to settle into a better pattern of sleep.

So why do I write this now? Because the other night I was reminded of those prayers as my little one decided to start protesting at bedtime again. It didn't take long repeating those prayers before he fell asleep though and after a couple of nights we were back to normal (which involves a few minutes of protesting before he falls asleep cuddling his teddy!).

There will be people who will argue I should just have picked my crying baby up and given him a cuddle. Maybe they are right. But just maybe, the whole situation taught me to remember that praying to our Father for His intervention, is the best thing I can do for my children, and that His loving arms are best of all.

Saturday, 7 April 2012


If I'm totally honest, I have found the last few weeks hard work (hence lack of blogging!). We have all been suffering with a variety of colds, coughs, and vomiting bugs, and the daily routine of cooking, cleaning, toddler groups (or not, as we've been ill), swings, shopping, washing and so on, has felt less of a daily routine, and more of a daily drudge.

Yesterday morning after our plans to go as a family to a Good Friday service had been scuppered by our youngest coming down with a vomiting bug on Thursday night  I was at my wits end and was taking my frustrations out on God because I felt like He wasn't listening to our prayers, and that He didn't care about me or my needs.

It was at that point that hubby showed me, through my tears, the verses that he had just read in his Morning Prayer Book.

A Song of Lamentation
1 Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? 
Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow,
2 Which was brought upon me, 
which the Lord inflicted
on the day of his fierce anger.
3 For these things I weep;
my eyes flow with tears; 
for a comforter is far from me,
one to revive my courage.
4 Remember my affliction and my bitterness, 
the wormwood and the gall!
5 But this I call to mind, 
and therefore I have hope:
6 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, 
his mercies never come to an end;
7 They are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness.
8 ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, 
‘therefore I will hope in him.’
9 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, 
to the soul that seeks him.
10 It is good that we should wait quietly 
for the salvation of the Lord.
11 For the Lord will not reject for ever; 
though he causes grief, he will have compassion,
12 According to the abundance of his steadfast love; 
for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.

Lamentations 1.12, 16a,b; 3.19, 21-26, 31-33

As I read these verses, I truly felt as if God had written them for me to see. He knew that I needed to be reminded of His presence and His faithfulness. 

And what amazing verses to be reminded of today, Easter Saturday, as we wait in hope for tomorrow; as we remind ourselves of Jesus followers and what they must have been feeling on that first Easter Saturday. Hope had been lost and they, as far as they knew, had been left alone to their sorrow. 

But that was not the end of the story. There is in fact, no end to the story: "the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end." As we celebrate Easter tomorrow I pray that we may remember this truth, through all things. 

Saturday, 3 March 2012


This week I have discovered a new definition of vulnerability: the image of your small child sleeping in a 'big boy bed' where he has wriggled out of the duvet.

This week I have been reminded again, in the simplest of ways, about how precious my children are and how much they rely on me and hubby to love and protect them.

This week I have become much more like I was in the early days of being a neurotic first-time mum, constantly checking on my eldest son when he is sleeping to make sure that he is warm enough and not teetering on the edge of his bed.

This week I have been reminded anew of a definition of vulnerability which I came up with when I first held my eldest child in my arms. Vulnerability: a parent with the precious gift of their child, knowing that they can only do so much to protect that child.

This week I have been reminded that our children are also God's children, that we too are God's children, that in our weakness His strength will manifest itself and His power will be made perfect.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Back to reality....

Over the weekend hubby and I had 24 blissful hours away from our children! As much as we adore them, it was amazing to have some 'us' time where we didn't have to fit in to a 'little people' agenda and where we could remind ourselves of life as a couple rather than life as a family.

Yesterday afternoon we arrived to pick up the boys from their grandparents and drove home, all having had a lovely time and feeling refreshed, happy and ready for the week ahead.

Cue this morning and things were a different story all together. If the boys could have expressed themselves clearly, they may have stated something along the lines of: You left us! How could you? You will pay; we are going to make your life such a misery that you will never dream of leaving us again, even for a second! Or maybe they would have said: How dare you take us away from our grandparents where we were having such fun and bring us home where we have to share you with the washing machine, the cooker and the kitchen sink! We will make you pay!

Either way, pay I did...with an entire day of moaning, winging, crying and a level of histrionics which I'd not expected to encounter until the teenage years! By the end of the day, I was vowing never to go away again because, despite the fact that the kids have a lovely time being spoilt by their grandparents, and we have a lovely time with each other, the day after (I am hoping it's just one!) ruins it all!

It seems that life is constantly about managing the balance between the lovely and the mundane. Without the drudgery or the difficulties, the joyous times would not seem so wonderful. Without the joyous times, the difficulties would threaten to overwhelm us.

As I am coming back down to reality I pray that God will help me hold on to the memories of the nice time had, and the hope of more fun round the corner; and as I try to help my boys get back into the normal routine of things, I pray for patience!