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It feels like another life

Looking back on early photos is a very strange experience. Henry has changed so much in the last year that it feels like a lifetime ago. I remember back then, when he used to cry or laugh but no words would come out. I remember when we got really excited because he smiled for the first time. I remember these things as if they are fuzzy, like a memory that has been blurred with time. Although it has only been 17 months, things have changed so quickly that I have barely noticed the days whizzing by.

It is very strange to have a life so well documented, through photographs and blogging. Never before has a generation had such easy access to computers and cameras and other methods of capturing moments. Go back a few years and you’re lucky if you got one posed portrait. Go back a few more years and it was only the ridiculously wealthy that could afford a sitting with a portrait artist. But now, every moment is stolen, and edited, and posted…

My little baby isn’t a little baby anymore. He’s a little boy. He’s grown and grown and taught himself so much and he impresses me every single day with a new word or new skill.

I feel sad that it has gone so quickly, and I feel sad that I have missed so much of it, but being at work is important and more to the point, necessary. I wish I had the funds to be a SAHM at least until Henry goes to school, but alas, it is not to be. But at the same time, I am so proud of Henry and all he has acheived so far. When people moan about wanting their babies to stay babies forever, half of me understands. The other half, though, wants to tell them how annoying and ridiculous they are being – the alternative to growing up is not growing up and that is every parents’ worst nightmare. Nobody wants that.

So, my baby, my big boy, I will watch him grow with a smile on my face. I feel a twinge of sadness when I read the past posts of this blog, but then I remember, I was there with him, enjoying it at the time.

Henry's Mother the early days

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“No!”

Henry has started stringing words together lately. “It’s me”, “I do it” and “I’m fine” upon being asked how he is on the phone.

He’s so very capable at such a young age, and I find it very exciting.

Henry also, like most toddlers his age, says “no” a lot. An awful lot. He pushes food, toys, even us away at times, shaking his little head and thrusting his podgy, little hand up to emphasise his point.

There is definitely that toddler defiance in him starting to show. He’s a cheeky rascal though, and will continue to grin at you the whole time.

He has started listening to me more though. When he first learnt to walk, anywhere was fair game in his head. If he can reach it, he can have it, and if he can’t reach then he can point and call for mummy to help.

But when I say something is dangerous, he’ll listen. He won’t touch the oven, he won’t pull wires or grab things like he used to. We have three stairs in our split-level flat, and when he goes down them he gets down on all-fours, with his back to the stairs about 3ft away, and slowly reverses down them.

I am proud of my little munchkin, and he is well-behaved 99% of the time, which is the most I can ask for really.

When I was pregnant, I thought “I’m going to have a baby”. It never even occurred to me that I would then have a toddler, a child, a teenager…

It’s okay – I have a few years to get to grips with that.

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Newtown Tragedy

I’m sure there have been many a blog post since the awful news last week.

It made me sick when I heard about the poor little boys and girls who lost their lives for no reason, and the teachers who tried to save them. I will not mention the name of the monster who did it to them, not through fear, but simply because he doesn’t deserve to be remembered.

I cannot even begin to understand the feelings of the parents who lost their most loved in this senseless manor. But I can say I hope they know how it has touched so many people across the globe. No parent should ever bury their child. It is not the natural way of things.

I wish them all my dearest condolences during this time, and forever more.

I let my son eat cake for dinner and stay up extra late having cuddles on the sofa. I can’t imagine him not being there. And yet, on a normal day, like any other, this is what so many parents have had to face.

I read a very interesting article today, about being the mother of a mentally ill child. It is deeply sobering, and highlights just how little support there is for those suffering from a mental illness. It seems that too often, a child cannot be helped until a crime is committed. Why do we wait for these incidents to occur before giving support? It seems ludicrous.

No matter what happens in the future, with regards to gun laws and support for families coping with mental illness, it doesn’t bring back those who were lost last week. They should be remembered, and will never be forgotten.

On my Facebook page a viral quote popped up over the weekend, attributed to Morgan Freeman, although he never said such a thing. I agree with the sentiment entirely. So even though it was actually written by “Mark in Vancouver”, I’m still going to post it.

Thanks for reading.

“You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here’s why.

It’s because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single victim of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.

CNN’s article says that if the body count “holds up”, this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer’s face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer’s identity? None that I’ve seen yet. Because they don’t sell. So congratulations, sensationalist media, you’ve just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.

You can help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem. You can help by turning off the news.”

5 Ways You Can Help Sandy Hook Shooting Victims

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Being Away From Him

It seems like the running theme of my blog, and certainly of my life at the moment. It is the struggle to balance quality time with my son and the time I put in trying to develop a quality career.

I wish I could clone myself, multiple times, to fit in all the things I want to do. Not only do, but do now. That’s the problem with being young. There’s a sense of urgency about everything. I can’t shake the feeling that wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I’m missing out on something somewhere else.

The grass is always greener, because all I can see is my own shadow.

I think about my son’s laugh, his squishy thighs and his arms that reach out for me. I think about him whenever I’m away from him, and I hope he knows that he comes first. That I am doing all this other stuff because I need to and I want him to be proud of me, but he is always top of my priorities.

And I can’t imagine the parallel universe in which I don’t race home to see him and give him a cuddle and laugh with him. It simply doesn’t bare thinking about.

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Finding Hours

It seems as if it is getting harder to find the time to sit and write. Or do anything really.

I am all too aware of the time that is taken up by the things that have to be done – working, cooking, cleaning – but now there is a new leech on time that often takes over, and I’m not even talking about having children to run around after. It’s technology.

I reap the benefits of blogging, when I can actually find the time, but there are some more pointless and unfortunately very addictive sides to being in the tech generation. One example of this is my oh-so-brilliant smartphone. I loved this when I first got it. I’m sure everyone does, it’s very exciting getting a new gadget to play with. Henry was excited about getting a new chew toy too.

The problem is, with all these apps and unlimited texts and wi-fi is that I struggle to put it down. It gets to the point where I have to go and put it in the other room to stop myself picking up, not through boredom but habit, and mindlessly scrolling through facebook and twitter. It is a lot easier to manage your facebook use when you can only log in on your laptop. The fact that it is always there is haunting me. It is ridiculous when it starts eating into the quality time I am spending with the little man.

It’s more than ridiculous. It’s disgraceful.

I don’t use it more than is necessary now until Henry has gone to bed. I’m only writing this now as the bubs is in bed and I have one of those rare moments to myself. I continue to get shocked by the parents taking their children to the park and just ignoring them while on phones. The toddlers and young children with ipads. What is wrong with a storybook and a cuddle?

I can understand schoolchildren with laptops for homework but I cannot understand a baby with an iphone.

If you want to discuss this further, you can catch me after 7pm, because before that time I will be giving Henry my undivided attention.

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Day by Day

It feels strange now that I’ve gone back to work. I feel like I don’t stop. There isn’t enough time in the day to get everything I need to do done, let alone all the stuff I want to do. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way! Time is precious, and it is passing by so fast.

It’s mid August – 2012! – already. How did that happen? It doesn’t feel like long ago that I was sitting on a brick wall, wrapped up in a knitted scarf, hat and gloves, watching the fireworks as everyone welcomed in the new millenium. And that was well over a decade ago. Now I have a house, a car, a job and the scariest thing of all (but also the most brilliant) I’m a mum to a beautiful little boy.

It doesn’t even feel real. Sometimes I look at him and wonder if the hospital are going to realise their mistake and come searching for him. I look at him and I think – no, I know – that I am the luckiest mother in the world.

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Worst Advice

As a mum-to-be, a new mother, or even an experienced one, people tend to throw well-meaning advice at you from every direction. There are obviously those you will automatically pay more attention to; your own mother, the health visitor, midwives, doctors and alike. There is one bit of advice I’ve received from everyone I have ever spoken to about children, including strangers that stop you in the street to coo over the new arrival. It is to simply ‘enjoy it’.

You hear time and time again, ‘make the most of it, it goes too fast’ or ‘they grow up so quick’. This is very true, the last seven and a half months have flown by, and I’m sure it only speeds up. I sometimes catch my mother looking at Henry with an element of nostalgia, as if she wishes in some way that she was back there, with the baby me in her arms again. I know there is always another development to be proud of. If it’s not their first steps than it is learning to go poopy in the toilet or first day of school – all the way to first day of university or first job, weddings and grandchildren.

The only problem with being told to enjoy it all the time, is that I ended up being so worried about making the most of it that I forgot to actually enjoy it. It’s the same effect as having a camera at a live show, or on holiday. I’ve often found I get so wrapped up with memories that the experience itself is often overlooked. Spending too much time worrying about taking photos can lead you to only see life through a lens. Remembering to touch, smell, hear and feel is the key. Henry has such soft skin, such a beautiful baby smell, makes adorable little noises, and gives such amazing cuddles.

I think I’ve been overly obsessed with recording the present, for the future me to look back on. What would I really prefer though? A mass of photographs or one precious memory of the time I hugged him and he hugged back and we both knew we loved each other and that I made him feel safe and warm and he made me smile and I felt truly happy.

I am really enjoying it; looks like I took their advice after all.

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Photographs & Facebook Friends

I’m one of those people who hate photographs of themselves. Sometimes I’ll get an okay-ish one and feel alright to have it floating around on facebook, but normally I’m a camera dodger.

Having a baby may lead you to believe the camera will be firmly fixed on the most lovely looking thing in the room (and I don’t mean my beautiful, new, ivory, lace boots I just bought for a friends wedding) but this is certainly not the case. You hear the dreaded words ‘and one of you all together’ and immediately think ‘one for the private album’. There’s nothing that makes you feel as rotten as looking and feeling like you do when you’ve just had a baby, and then having a camera shoved in your face by a well-meaning relative.

Having said that, I am glad that the occasion is well documented, and I wish I had taken more photos while I was pregnant. I just hope that people don’t decide to post them on the internet before consulting me. It’s like the time I sent a personal text to everyone in my life I felt I wanted to tell at the time when Henry was born. Then it immediately started popping up on facebook, against my wishes. Congratulations poured in from pretty much everyone on my facebook.

I sound ungrateful, but it was our time as a family, and not a time for our ex’s to get back in touch after a horrific break-up to wish us well. But once it’s done, it’s done, and I had to go along with it.

I’m far more open about it now, but I didn’t want my son to turn into gossip. He deserves more than that. I know a couple of the people I told at the beginning did just that and spread the news as if it were cheap and frivilous. I will never tell them personal information again, as long as I live.

You learn a lot after the event. About how there maybe 300 odd friends on your facebook saying ‘I have to come and meet him’ and then they do, perhaps once or twice and then nothing.

I guess they think I’m too busy for friends, when the truth is that everybody needs friends whether you’re busy or not.

I’m lucky though. I still have those few that will always be there for me, who make the effort and will be standing by my side when I say my vows.

And it’s those few, who I truly love.

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Benefits of Blogging; Reading the Archives

I started this blog thinking that it would be quite a nice record of my son’s development and a documentation of our life. I knew that I would enjoy writing it, but I never thought that the archives of my blog would be a source of comfort for me. I was reading the blogs I wrote when we first brought Henry home and how much I struggled in those early days. I’m not saying it’s easy now, it will never be easy again, but it isn’t a struggle anymore and I have really learnt so much. If I could give any advice to new parents that are worried about their ability to parent, it would be this; don’t stress about every little thing, and don’t think it will be like that forever. Babies, like adults, have good and bad days, and even one bad week doesn’t mean the next week you won’t be walking around town in the sunshine with your baby cooing gently, playing with his hands and making you smile. It doesn’t get easier, but it gets better. And far more rewarding.

I wish I could tell the me of five months ago these things. I wouldn’t have felt so guilty for asking for help when I needed it, and I would have enjoyed it a lot more! And my little bundle of gorgeousness is thriving, and I’m sure he still would be, whether I worried so much or not.

There is a lesson to be learnt here. One of many I’ve discovered since undertaking the most eventful, exciting and beautiful journey of my life.