How are you so amazing?

I think the answer must simply be grace. The amazing kind.

How did I end up with such amazing offspring? Now, you don’t need to look back at too many posts to see they’re not perfect. I wouldn’t expect them or want them to be. They’re so much more fun with their little quirks.

But I’m not afraid to say that they are incredible. I’m not going to bite back the enormity of my love for them. I can’t even put into words what they mean to me. Every now and again I am amazed anew that we managed to parent children for 6 years who are not total delinquents – it must be grace.

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They’re not amazing because of anything grand; there are no badges or certificates to show how great they are… it’s the small things that blow me away and squeeze my heart so it feels a degree closer to bursting each time.

1) Today my son picked up my book. He started to read it – I don’t know if he understood a word, but he wrapped his 6 year old arms around me and told me he was proud of me for writing it. That right there was the only book review I will ever need.

2) Today we went for a walk with a friend and her two year old. My daughter held that little toddler hand the whole way and picked him up each time he tripped on a branch or a stump. then she told me how much she loved him.

3) Today we danced round the kitchen singing ‘Lily the Pink’ doing funny voices and silly dances til we all creased up on the floor in tears.

4) Today my children discussed which type of body they will have in heaven; one settled for a rabbit, one a dog. We then discussed your soul and how important it is to be the best ‘you’ that you can ever be. (Footnote: I can’t vouch for the theology on that one:))

5) Today we sat at the end of the day watching a movie, arms locked, full of cuddles. I stroked hair and held hands and thanked God for these precious precious babies I get to see grow up.

I don’t know what I ever did to deserve these moments but I don’t take them for granted, I take them as a gift.

D’ya Know?

Honest to God, I thought no stage could be as irritating as the ‘Why?’ stage. 

Every single sentence punctuated with a small toddler voice inquiring ‘why?’ …

‘Get your shoes on’ … why??

‘Get dressed’ … why??

‘Tidy your toys away’ … why??

…on and on and eternally on. 

I was wrong you know. About that being the most irritating thing. We have a new, much more irritating stage. 

On a minute by minute basis I am bombarded by the same two and a half words ...‘D’ya know?’

Imagine it being offered in a small proud manner as a four year old learns for the first time about China at school…

‘Mummy, d’ya know?…’ …pause… waiting for the same response …’What honey?’

Then comes the fact (which may or may not be actually factual in any way, shape or form).

It’s quite cute to start with. Little snippets of information which to a four year old are small nuggets of knowledge not yet discovered until this very moment. School is opening up a new world of facts and information and knowledge learned outside the four walls  of our home. This of course means, to her at least, that this is new to us all ‘D’ya know that I came out of your tummy’ was today’s gem. I had been wondering.

The thing is, cute is now turning into downright annoying. They come thick and fast you see; a bit like the ‘why’s’ did a couple of short years ago. Back to back, stacked up like buses on the high street. One after the other after the other.

And so my task as Mamma at the moment is to be interested. Even when I’m not. Even if I already know, or don’t want to know, or can’t be bothered to know – I need to listen, because she needs to know I care. You see when she’s 14 instead of 4, I’m going to want to know what new things she’s learning and where she’s learning it from. I want her to offer me her insights and her thoughts, I want to be one of the people she chooses to come to.

And so for now my every-time answer to her constant question is ‘What honey?’ Tell me baby girl what you’ve learned; tell me what you know; share your thoughts and feelings and ideas with me; open your mind and your heart – I want to know what’s going on in there. And then when your ‘D’ya know’s?’ turn into boys and hurts and confusion and worries, I will still be here with my ‘What honey’s?’ – I will be here for whatever you need to offer to someone. Whatever you want to offer me, I’ll be here – right now for the ‘why’s’ and the ‘d’ya know’s’ and in the future for whatever else you need to bring me, I’ll care enough to listen. I promise.

Today…

Today we felt the chasm between the two personality types of our children.

Today was a hard Mummy day and a hard being an introverted, keepy-more-to-yourself Son kind of day.

Today Megan got 17 Christmas cards and William got 1.

Today my heart is a bit achy for my boy.

Today his heart is a bit achy too.

Today is a day I would trade in just a sliver of his academic success for a pinch more ability to gel with kids in his class.

Today I need to remind myself that he was made the was he was for a reason.

Today I just need to snuggle him up and let him know he’s loved.

Today he will know that we love him just as he is.

Today I will give him kisses to make up for each one of those 16 Christmas cards he saw his sister open that he didn’t get.

Today is just one of those days….

 

I’ll try not to blush

Dear children,

In several years time you will either read this back and laugh out loud or hide underneath a cushion in sheer embarrassment. If it is the later, I apologise but by then I will be a world famous writer and so you will forgive me because this will have helped to kick start my career.

Love Mummy x

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Several years ago I helped run our youth group at church. We would gather about 30 odd (in both senses) teenagers on a Friday night to chill out, build friendships and talk about faith issues. One night I was given the job of doing the sex talk. Cringe. Now I’m not the most prudish creature on the planet but neither do I relish discussing bedroom antics with hormone ridden youngsters who probably spend every other minute thinking about The Act Of. Anyway, as with most things in life, my first step was to invest in a good book to guide me through. I bought ‘How to Talk to You Child Confidently About Sex’. It’s very good if you need a recommendation. I wasn’t planning on doing the ‘Insert A into Slot B’ type talk but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to know what people who actually owned these youngsters could have been saying to them. I won’t go into the details of the evening but suffice it to say that the newly employed Youth Pastor walked in right at the beginning and I spent the rest of the night feeling hideously embarrassed. To any youngsters who were there that night… sincere apologies…

The point of this story is to highlight the one thing which stuck with me from reading that book. It said to always answer children’s questions honestly,  to speak normally about sex and body parts, and to use proper terminology at all times.

Well, we have now reached the age of questions with our own kids. If I’m honest, it’s here a little sooner than I would have liked, but hey ho, here we go….

How am I doing against the three pieces of advice?

Well, the honesty thing was a trial when my 5 year old son asked how the Daddy’s ‘seed’ got to the Mummy’s ‘egg’…. I debated throwing in the concept of magic but decided to try and explain the basic process in as few words as possible. Sadly my son is not one to shirk detail. My explanation obviously didn’t satisfy his need for complete understanding so I ended up having to answer…

‘How do the seeds get out?’ *cringe*

‘Isn’t a willy too wobbly to get the seeds to go in the right direction?’ *Uber cringe* and

”Does the Mummy like it when the Daddy puts the seeds in her?’ *Dear God, please let me die*.

Let’s just say I was as honest as I could be whilst also accepting that we may need to revisit some of those questions if he’s ever going to have a healthy sex life…

Secondly, speaking normally. Well I think we’ve already established that’s not quite the case. But I try. I try to be OK when they point at you in the shower. ‘Yes, dear. That is Mummy’s….. (fill in the blanks as needed)’. I try not to be embarrassed when my little girl asks if she can have boobies for Christmas when we’re in Tesco, I hope I come across as mildly ‘normal’ when I have to answer questions about who has which appendage… Apologies to anyone in my band, my friends and even some colleagues – it may well be that at some point I had to answer the question of whether you have a willy or boobies. I’m fairly sure I did no-one a dis-service.

Finally, the terminology. This is where I fail. I will never be ok saying the V word in public… in our house it will always be girly-bits. My children have never heard the term penis and neither will they on my watch – ‘willy’ serves us fine thank you very much. And boobies are, and always will be, boobies. There’s something about the correct terminology that just makes me squirm when talking to a 4 year old. Especially in Tesco.

I suppose the questions will only continue from here on in, though the minimal answers they have been given seem to have satisfied my children for the time being. They know just about how they got in and out of my stomach. They know they have different bits from each other. They understand that boobies are not an appropriate item for your list to Santa. We’re vaguely on track.

My commitment to the future is to do my best not to blush, to try to stick to those three principles and, within age appropriate boundaries, to be honest. I don’t like lying to my babies. Last week a beautiful girl I know told me her Mum was her best friend, that they talked about everything. For this purpose I am willing to bite back the embarrassment, even in the supermarket, in order to try and cultivate a relationship where my kids want to talk to me about this stuff. I hope they won’t be embarrassed coming to me about anything to do with their bodies or sex, I hope I won’t be embarrassed either. I hope they will learn that they can trust me because I was always as honest with them as I could be.

For now,  in the interests of investing in our future relationship, I’m going to have to just get comfortable discussing where babies come from in the checkout queue.

God bless Tesco.

 

I’m learning

I hope you know I’m learning.

I was a teacher – and I think, without wanting to sound conceited, a good one. I thought this parenting lark would be straight forward. You see I had taught parenting classes, I knew about consistency, I had dealt with some of the foulest offenders in my classes… how hard can it be right? Well, hard is the answer. Heart aching, brain hurting, banging your head against the wall, barely get to the end of the day in one piece hard. Not all the time, that’s the glory of it. It’s also the most amazing, heart warming, fulfilling, joyful, can’t quite believe I get to do it, most wonderful thing in the world to be a Mamma. (Hooray for having one of those days today!)

With you two, I have never felt that I had to pretend  that I get it right all the time, you know my secrets too well. You get to witness the too shouty, too tired, too much chocolate and TV Mamma that others don’t. You see the not perfect me. I quite like that, we work being imperfect together. I am happy to say sorry. I don’t understand why others don’t. Can they really get it right all the time??? They must be better than me if they can! This week alone I’ve had to say sorry for telling one of you off when the other one was the perpetrator; hurting your lip when I grabbed a bottle from your mouth as it still had a choking sized lid attached (I thought I was actually helping but it seemed not…) and for forgetting to do bedtime prayers… again.

I look back at the swollen bellied, almost about to give birth Helen and think ‘You have no flippin’ idea girl!’

‘You think you know how to do this because you patronised a few parents with a parenting scheme someone else wrote. Psht!’

I’m so glad, lovely babies, that you’re forgiving with me. You accept my faults and we move on when these faults rear their ugly heads. You don’t seem to hold a grudge when I don’t seem to know what I’m doing. Your patience with me is admirable. I often thought God knew what he was doing when he gave you both to me knowing I was the right Mummy for you, I’m wondering whether his consideration was the other way round…. ‘I’d better find two special one’s for this head-case…’

I hope you know I will always try my best. I guess you know I won’t always get it right. I hope you know sometimes I will. I hope that letter outweigh the former. I hope we can look back and laugh at some of our mess ups. I hope you don’t get bruised in the process. I hope you know I will say sorry if needed. I hope we can always love each other warts and all – though my warts are definitely bigger and more frequently occurring than yours.

Writing this out helps me to breathe. It helps me to keep perspective and forgive myself. With a good chunk of hard work, a lot of trying again, a good dose of God’s grace and maybe even a sprinkle of fairy dust (thank you Megan), my dream is that one day we will be in such a place where we will sit together and read all these thoughts back. Maybe when you’re teenagers with spots and hormones, maybe when you yourselves have babies of your own. I’ll be reminded of funny stories and tough days. You will be able to tell me your perspective on it all. I hope we can laugh and maybe hug and certainly do it from a place where we got through in one piece, maybe we will even get through well. I will keep learning, I will keep trying. You’re just to worth it to do anything else.

Love with be greater than anything else

So today I was pulled into the teacher’s office after school. We’ve been doing the school thing for 14 months now and so I suppose the fact that this is the first time is to be noted.  I got the same gut-sinking feeling I used to get when it was me being called into the teacher’s office when I was at school. My immediate thoughts were bad – bound to be a serious offence,  hopefully no one was hospitalised, will they ever the The Boy back in again?????

Turns out he had made an unkind comment and then, when smacked across the face by the other child involved, he hit back. (This probably makes me a terrible parent but I was a little relieved, I have to admit. I was expecting something soooo much worse…) Now, please don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone hitting back, but I do understand it. If someone slapped my face, I may be inclined to share the love back with them… I was actually more disappointed about the unkind comment. If there’s one trait I hope both of my children will show, it would be kindness. I hate it when people are unkind, I think kindness goes further than we think.

This is probably  the first time that an outside party, other than a good friend or a family member, has had to discipline one of my children. It’s flippin’ uncomfortable. I know my kids aren’t perfect but it would be easier if they were in public. Why is that? Well, I guess I want people to like them. I don’t want them to be known as difficult or aggressive or naughty. I know much of this comes from my need to be liked by everyone – PEOPLE PLEASER ALERT!!!!  The fact is, my kids are going to do things wrong. I’m just going to have to deal with that. I don’t want to be one of those parents who thinks the sun shines out of their child’s certain orifice, but neither will it affect how much I love them.

I know many of you with teenagers are now thinking ‘Bless you dear, you have no idea!!!’ and I probably don’t – please don’t burst my bubble, I’ve only just got through the sleepless nights stage. I am determined though, from this first incident and for the many more that will probably come flooding in in the coming years, I want nothing to become greater for my kids than the fact that I love them.

I want them to be able to come to me when they’ve messed up and know that even if I’m disappointed with them or cross with them, that my love for them will be as unconditional as I can possibly make it. I want ‘me’ to be a place where they can come no matter what. A place they will always get love and grace and also a huge dollop of truth and honesty as well.

Today I was disappointed with William. I’m sad that he chose to say something unkind, but it has helped me to gird my loins for the coming years so I can practice loving him through disappointment and out the other side. Kiddies – I hope you know that I am here no matter what. I have no idea what sits on the path up ahead, but whatever it is we can weather is together, me, you guys and Daddy (with some generous input from Grandmas’s and good friends I expect).  I am going to do everything I can to make sure that you feel love above all other things. If I’m cross or sad or disappointed – I want love to be greater. I may give you some harsh truth at times, and we’re definitely not past the naughty step yet, but I still love you, no matter what.

In this family, my commitment is that love will be greater than anything else.

 

I Hope You Know You’re Beautiful.

This is my baby girl. Well, she’s 4 now but she’ll always be my baby girl.

This morning she came into our room and snuggled up in bed. She has decided she wants to be a doctor when she grows up (which may be an issue with her slight inability to write or read but hey ho, she tends to get by anyway). Every day she asks me ‘What hurts?’ so she can rub it better and be a good doctor. (Just for the record I’m rather glad my doctor doesn’t take the same hands on approach to patient care….)

Anyway, this morning she rubbed my croaky voice better before we chatted about her day. Back to school, listen carefully, do your best, be kind whenever you can. I then asked her a question which I have asked her many times with the same answer. ‘Honey, do you know how beautiful you are?’ Her simple answer ‘Yes’. No self confidence issues here 🙂

The truth is, she really is. Now she wasn’t the bonniest of babies… (check out those teeth!!!)

I can be objective about that! But she is beautiful now. More than that she has a beautiful spirit. She really is kind and helpful and caring and lovely. Not always with her brother, I grant you, but generally she is a beautiful human being.

In my job as a teacher and in my dealings with young people over the years I have come across so many girls who don’t know that they are beautiful. They feel ordinary or average or even worse they feel like a poor man’s comparison to their friends around them. I want to shake them and say ‘Honey, do you know how beautiful you are?’. I want them to know that they really are beautiful and special but so many don’t know that. So many women who don’t get told they are beautiful who have boyfriends and husbands who never quite utter the words to beat out some of the self doubt. So many desperate for someone to tell them that they are beautiful through and through. And then there are the ‘friends’. The other girls who should be speaking positivity and life into their hearts but instead throw more seeds of doubt out with back handed comments and put downs. It makes me so very sad.

Megan, I want you to know you’re beautiful, outside and in. I pray that you will continue to have a beautiful heart as you grow up, that you continue to be kind and caring and helpful. I pray you will have friends who will build you up not tear you down, that you can speak positively over each other. And I pray you find a husband one day who will also tell you you are beautiful, that you are special and that he feels honoured that he can call you his wife.