Because what the internet needs is more wittering about rubbish parenting

Thursday, 14 February 2013

....And Goodnight.

All good things, so they tell me, come to an end.

The same is true of mediocre parenting blogs.

This will (probably, unless I change my mind) be my last post on this blog. There are a couple of reason for this. One is the second child thing. The Littl'un is wonderful, absolutely fantastic and I am besotted with her. But I keep finding I don't have all that much to say about her, or rather, about the process of bringing her up. It's all, you know, she does some stuff, I do some stuff, we make it to the end of the day, and then the week, and I don't really have anything to say about it. She hits some milestones, eventually I'll notice; she misses some others, I know she'll get there in the end. Blah blah blah. S'all good. Apart from when it's not good, and I think about having a whinge, and realise there's nothing to whinge about that I haven't whinged about already, so I don't. And The Big'un, while still immensely good value (particularly in her self-penned little ditties, all of which include the word "today" said in a very broad Geordie accent, and her imaginary friends, one of which is called Hevs), does not do new stuff very often, so there's less to talk about there too.

So, I have fewer child-things on my mind, but that, as people who know me will not at all be surprised to learn, does not mean that I don't have things I want to bleat on about. More and more, I find myself wanting to air my opinions on grown-up issues, things that don't have anything to do with naughty corners and Organix crisps and poo reward charts. And this doesn't feel like the right place to air them. This blog has always been a place for me to bore on about "parenting", as much as I hate the term and feel it bears no resembleance to anything I actually do. It's been, as the name suggests, about me as a mother, and a vaguely rubbish one at that. Having got both my kids, somehow, through babyhood though, I now find myself less and less willing to *be* Bad Mammy. I will always be a mum, and it is a massive part of what now, for better or worse, defines me. But the other things that I am are asserting themselves a bit more - I am also a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. An Excel geek. A Twitter addict. A feminist (although one who still doesn't quite understand what intersectionality is). A person who wants to rant and rave about some of the things that happen in this world. This is not the right place to be all these things.

I'm fairly sure I will start a new blog in time, where I can say different things, more things. I can't imagine not writing now. Which is thanks to this blog, and to you lot, for reading it and saying lovely, lovely things about it. Thank you, all of you. All of the support when I've been whingeing about stuff has been invaluable, and made me feel so much less alone, and a bit less crap. I hope that you've enjoyed reading it even a little bit as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I'm feeling a little bit sad knowing that I'm about to stop typing, which is faintly ridiculous, as I am perfectly free to start typing again whenever and wherever I want. On the internet, I mean. I can't go and type anywhere, as I have to stay in the house, or I'll get arrested for abandoning my children. Oh look, I appear to be talking complete bollocks. A sure sign that it is time to wrap it up.

Goodbye all, and thank you once more.

This is Bad Mammy, signing off.

Sweet dreams xxxx

Sunday, 10 February 2013


OK, here is the sleep post. It may be slightly hysterical, as we are in the middle of a crap-sleep phase, but I need something to do while Husband watches Top Gear, so here we go.

You may have noticed that every now and then, I make vague references to sleep problems without ever going into what they actually are. This has been because I haven't been able to even think about them without wanting to sob uncontrollably, but it means that I can't look back over this blog and check what they were, so this might not be the most coherent account of anything ever. Because normally I'm all about the coherence, obvs.

I have not been blessed with brilliant sleepers. It could have been worse, much worse. I know this, because I was a horrible sleeper and I honestly don't know how my mother didn't kill me. But it's been bad enough. Up until recently, I hadn't had more than 3 nights sleep in a row for about 3 years. And I'm not being greedy - by a full night's sleep, I mean 6 straight hours without having to get out of bed to put a boob or a dummy or a glass of water in a small person's face, or to argue about whether or not 3am is an acceptable time to go to the theatre. We've had the phase where The Big'un wakes up shouting for me, then says "NO!" to every suggestion of what might be wrong or what I might do to help and flails her arms in my face until I have to remind myself that although you might slap an incoherent adult awake, it is absolutely not acceptable to do that to a three-year-old. We've had the phase where most nights saw us watching BabyTV at 2 in the morning with a completely wide-awake Littl'un. I do not believe that we have seen the back of any of these phases for good.

Unsurprisingly, this kind of thing makes you TIRED. In time, you do kind of get used to surviving on no sleep. Getting a full 8 hours now is actually kind of a shock to the system. But while I can survive on little sleep, there are days when I can't do much more than that, and things suffer. And one of those things is entertaining my children. That's one of the worst things about the disturbed nights: they make the days crap as well. Even firing on all cylinders, I am not one of these get-up-and-go-and-join-groups-and-do-messy-play-and-have-adventures kind of mothers. When I'm tired, I'm beyond crap. I cannot muster up any enthusiasm for anything harder than putting CBeebies on and waiting until it's bedtime again.  Which of course makes them grumpy and bored, which makes the day even harder. It's a rubbish cycle to get into, and some days I manage to have a word with myself and snap out of it and Do Stuff, but very often I don't.

The other thing that really, really sucks about sleep problems is how much it makes you feel like a failure. A warning  - if you ever find yourself with a child who won't sleep, you might think that asking other parents, in real life, or on a parenting website, is a good thing to do. In some ways it can be - you can very often find sympathy, and people who can suggest things you might not have tried. But you are also going to find a whole bunch of implications, real or imagined, that this is ALL YOUR FAULT. It will be your fault for not leaving them to cry, thus making them realise they can manipulate you just for the fun of it. It will be your fault for leaving them to cry, robbing them of the security of a parent who always responds to their needs, and teaching them to be helpless in the manner of a Romanian orphan. You weren't patient enough, weren't strong enough, didn't read the right book, and shouldn't really be whingeing if you're not willing to put the work in, and what did you have kids for if you can't cope with the lack of sleep?

I must say that, if I think about it properly, most people don't really say that. But it feels like they're thinking it. Because kids are supposed to "sleep through", aren't they? Tiny babies, they're allowed to wake up, but once they pass 6 months or so, you should be putting them down and not having to think about them again until the morning. Isn't that right? And if that's not happening, then you've got to be willing to do whatever it takes to "fix" it.

I can't fix it, I don't know how. All the approaches that have been recommended to me involve a lot of patience, resolve and consistency. I have very low reserves of these. They are even lower between the hours of midnight and 5am. My younger daughter, however, has seemingly endless reserves of resolve and screaming, and is willing to use them if she deems it necessary. She is not above deliberately smacking her head off her cot, or trying to climb out. Perhaps I could win the battle of the wills, eventually, but not without considerable, considerable distress to everyone in my house, and possibly even my street. It is not worth it, not to me. Things are not, yet, *that* bad.

I can't pretend to be OK with it either, though, like those who chirp "all babies sleep through in their own time", as if this is a developmental phase I should be relishing just as much as climbing in boxes and trying to eat their own fist. It's rubbish and I want to whinge about how it's rubbish. This is where I think most of my feelings of failure come from. I am not strong enough, either to fix it or to just suck it up. Is that OK? Can I opt out of the quest for the Holy Grail of Parenting that is a decent night's kip? Can I feel comfortable with the decision I've made about what to do (ie whatever gets me back to bed in the minimum amount of time each night), and still be unhappy with the consequences of that decision (being tired and grumpy all the time)? And can I get another coffee over here please?