Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Ian's been redundant. More accurately he is on gardening leave, and if no more work can be found, he will receive notice of redunancy in a months time, after which he will be made redundant in 10 weeks time. He will get paid for all of that time, plus receive a lump sum so we will be ok for a while.

Now the mummy tiger in me has stopped screaming "but we have a 6 month baby, nd a toddler how could they DO this to us?" I'm feeling slightly more rational. Of course they can do it to us, and its actually been done in a very humane and generous way for which I am incredibly grateful. I have decided not to tell my mum for the simple reason she will fret and I will react, probably very negatively. Its kinder to all to simply leave it. I will mention it at some point, just when I feel strong enough not be nasty.

Huge big shock, so many friends are living under the threat of it, and yet it's actually happened to us. Oh well, has to happen to someone.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Continued from yesterday

Well I went to bed and I thought, you know I haven't written down half of what I need to remember - so here goes.

The tantrums have been a huge journey. The first step towards this phase happened a couple of days or so before Deborah's MMR. At the time I remember being so thankful as I knew that if that step had co-incided or come after the jab I would never have been able to be sure just what caused it. This is from someone that views vaccines as a social and moral duty too.

Anyway, we all carried on mainly just holding or using distraction when D had a tantrum. It was a difficult time as a lot of it was at the same time as I had hyperemisis with Michael, so spirals where we fed each other's behaviour were more common than I liked. The hyperemsis was so awful - poor D to have such a grotty mummy, 5 months is a long time when you are less than 2.

When I was in labour, I heard awful, awful stories from Ian about how difficult D was finding it without me, she wouldn't eat, was howling all morning and was told by his parents who very kindly came to look after her that " they would be there when she had finished". Needless to say this did not work, but fair enough they are of the generation that views that sort of behaviour as dangerously manipulative, and leaves babies in prams outside for hours until their next feed etc, etc. It was a difficult time for all of us and at least D was with people she loved even if none of them were getting on particularly well at that point.

When I came out of hospital D naturally was hugely jealous of M, hitting him a lot and finding me feeding him just dreadful. It was horrendous for all of us and is probably the reason why Ian now spends so much time at home - D's spark points used to be when I fed Michael and I needed extra hands to cope. Its safe to say we were not terribly consistent in how we dealt with D, I wanted her hugged but was/am shouty, Ian's tolerance was longer than mine so he would leave D for longer than I could, and that also led to tensions. Oh boy all that plus a very hungry new baby in the mix - it was a difficult time.

Although leaving D to work it out didn't work, the one benefit for me was that it gave me clues on how to find space within the high drama. It reminded me to breathe and be calm. So although it was temporarily worse for Deborah, it somehow released enough space in me to be able to cope better in the long term. Another big stepping stone was talking to a friend at a BfN support meeting about the tantrums. I finally admitted that my real sticking point was my complete and total fear that this seemingly bi-polar behaviour was just that - bi-polar in my beautiful daughter and she was going to end up committed in an asylum by her mid-twenties (why so specific? I suspect more than a hint of transference) and there was NOTHING I could do about it. Several swallows later and staring out the window (I really didn't want to start howling myself, the friend was doing far more than duty calls for already) the enormity of my fears hit me and I listened to them. At the same group, another mum shouted at me as Deborah hit her much smaller, younger daughter. It clicked then, that D is my one and only priority and she is just, just, "just" a child, behaving as children (and me on occasions) do. I am responsible to her and no one else in that situation. Naturally I apologised to the mum and removed D but it was a useful, if painful moment.

Somehow we muddled on and luckily just started to hold Deborah when she was howling. The space she needed was not physical space on the floor, but loving space in our arms whilst she sobbed and screamed and raged. Then I read the book I mentioned in the previous post and suddenly, thankfully it all made sense. Now I can see which bits of me are reacting also, as my own childhood has left me damage and really wanting to lash out so much. More importantly I hope that the loving space in our arms is helping D's brain to grow loving neurons so she can become more resilient. There's something to be said for supporting someone in pain that surely means long term mental illness is less, not more likely. And that's why I think our society is so sad. So pre-disposed to ignoring our own emotions having been taught they are wrong we continue to suppress our own and those of our children and so it continues. Heartbreaking.

This is not to suggest any of this is fait accomplis by any measure. Still a work in progress, but hopefully one we are creating together and not at odds over. Time will tell.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Our tantrum journey

Reading this post really made me think about what we've been up too. For various reasons (inexperience and a culture geared towards disbelieving and belittling children's emotions helped) we were rubbish at dealing with Deborah's tantrums. More specifically, we were taking it personally, and felt put upon almost and that she should meet our expectations and DO something, DEAL WITH IT and other obnoxious-itites. We went though the whole gamut of holding her, taking to her, time out, saying "we will be here when you've finished, you can have a cuddle then" and you know what, surprise, surprise nothing "worked".

Then, thankfully I read this book and realised that actually it is my little girl crying, in pain, anger hurt, frustration whatever. It doesn't matter, she is just crying (and headbanging, hitting, shoving whatever) and our job as parents is just to love her and hold her in that space so she can deal with it. Same job as always, nothing else required. And now we do hold her, and yes she still tantrums but it's a lot less, shorter when it happens and we're all a lot less grumpy.

Why are we (and by this I mean as a society) so geared towards punishment for distress? So sad! As the play on radio 4 said today (about a french woman falling in love with a nazi soldier and being persecuted by her village) "Hate is easy, but love is so much harder".

Monday, July 06, 2009

Our holiday was fabulous!

A week in a folding camper with two smallies and two biggies may not sound much but it was heaven. More of that later (prob not tonight).

Can't stop thinking about death right now. Having children really puts one right into the whole stream of it all - being childless meant although I was terrified of death I was somehow more apart from it, but now I AM part of the whole maiden mother crone trilogy. Their youth marks my becoming older. Really dont know what to do with this one, having the screaming heebie jeebies is my common reaction but not useful. Walking to the toilet block with Deborah holding my hand, seeing all the caravans coming and going, I couldn't stop just feeling the impermanence of it all. One time I left her behind as I was going for a shower and as she watched me go I was so so aware that soon it will be me watching and waiting. Michael has teeth and stands and rolls and eats (so far only sand but you get the picture) and it's all so darn quick! And I love them so so so much and know I will not always be there for them. They will also face the speed of time, and I can't protect them from that or their own mortality and stupidly I feel guilty.

So melodramatic I apologise. Buddhists are supposed to be able to deal with this stuff, at the very least it's the heart of our practice. I must contct the Lama somehow. Probably not a visit as even though the fact of my own physical impernance and insignificance in the face of the universe terrifies me, sadly not more than navigating a trip to the big smoke with two small children.