Archive of ‘parenting’ category
Release: 1. To set free from confinement, restraint, or bondage: released the prisoners. 2. To free from something that binds, fastens, or holds back; let go: released the balloons; released a flood of questions. 3. To dismiss, as from a job.
Before you read this post I would just like to start it by saying that it is not as polished as my posts normally are. It was written when I was very upset and from the heart. Apologies if there are errors!
As many of you who read my blog or follow me on Twitter will know, this weekend I went away, all myself. It was an amazing weekend, but this post is not about Britmums Live (that one is still yet to be written!) This post is about leaving your children, and that because of something terrifying which happened to my 12 year old daughter whilst I was away, it has got me thinking about releasing them. About how they cannot stay close beside us forever, and that one day they will be out there on their own, knowing that home is always a safe environment to which they can return.
I have left my children before, many a time. I think it’s a wonderful thing for them to know that they can be looked after and loved by many different people. (Obviously these people are family, or a very close friend and not complete and utter strangers!) This weekend, however, leaving my children was a bit different. My mum came up on Friday to look after the boys and my daughter whilst my husband was at work, and then on Saturday they tagged teamed it and supported each other. Finally, later on Saturday afternoon, my daughter wasn’t going to be a home at all. She had been invited to a sleepover for a school friend’s 12th birthday party and would be away from home herself, in a house I have never been to, with a parent I have only met briefly on a couple of occasions.
I imagine many of you out there with brand new babies or very young children are now sat reading this horrified, as I would’ve been many years ago. We are so used to our children being right by our sides, or on our hips, always close. We are used to being in control of who they see, what they eat, where they go. We forever scan rooms, pathways, parks, play areas for potential risks and danger…catching them when they fall, warning them not to stray too far, telling them where the danger is and how to avoid it. They trust that the world is a safe place, never aware of risks because we spend our lives as parents protecting them from them. However, as children grow up…we need to release them. We need to start helping them to make their own decisions, weigh up the risks and decide what to do and which path to take. They physically become further away from us…at pre-school, at primary school, secondary school. We cannot be around to protect them every single minute of every single day as we so desperately want to and we have to trust that they have listened to years of advice and draw on their experiences in life to make their own choices.
But this weekend my daughter had a choice made for her by another person. And it was the wrong choice. It wasn’t life changing or life threatening. It wasn’t hurtful or dangerous. But it wasn’t her choice, and if it had been it would not have been one she would have made. At the sleepover, whilst I was over a hundred miles away in London unable to help or protect, she was made to watch a film. A film intended to only be watched by persons of 15 years or older. A thriller that scared her more than anything has ever scared her before. I didn’t know this had happened until I awoke this morning to find a text from her on my phone. It had been sent at 4am and simply read…
I want it go home. I watched a scary movie it was a 15 and I can’t go to sleep. I feel sick because I am worried that someone is going to hurt me.
I imagined my daughter, my only just turned 12 daughter, my daughter who is still very much a child, sat terrified all alone. Alone in a house she had never been to before. Alone in a room with some other 12 year olds she didn’t know, and only a few she did. Alone and terrified that someone was coming to get her, to hurt her. She is, as I have described in previous posts, sometimes a handful, sometimes verbally challenging and rule bending, but she is my little girl. She isn’t wise beyond her years, she isn’t ‘street-wise’ and ahead of the game, she hasn’t even begun to go through puberty herself. She is my baby and someone has made a decision that has rocked her safe and secure world.
It’s been a difficult day since then. Obviously I have wanted to race around there and pick her up immediately whilst shouting very loudly at the parent who allowed this to happen whilst she was in her care, but I’m not entirely sure my daughter would appreciate that! So she is still there now, shopping with them on the high street, not fearing the film in the safety of daylight. I’m not sure bedtime or the middle of the night will be so fearless for her later.
And me. Well I have spent the day thinking once again about parenting. I said to my mum on Friday that my instincts were uncomfortable about the sleepover, that I knew something would happen even though I wasn’t sure what. I’d met the girl whose birthday it was, and her mother, and many of the other children that would also be there and thought I was just being over-protective, being a parent who didn’t want to let their child have the independence they so desperately need at this age. What happened to her has made me think about the future and how in a few years time I will not always know where she is, or who she is with or what she is doing. It has made me realised that soon many decisions will be solely hers and I will have no control over that. That one day she will move out and be released into the big wide world…where someone might come along and make bad choices for her, hurt her, terrify her.
It was only a film I hear some of you cry, it’s not like someone really did come and hurt her and you are absolutely right. That film still terrified her and she cannot un-see what she saw, she cannot forget what she heard, and I’m angry that she didn’t get a choice in the matter. Whether or not she watched that film was not someone else’s choice to make, it shouldn’t have been their decision to let my daughter watch a film totally unsuitable for her, not least because she is three years younger than the film’s rating. I’m upset because it made me realise that she’s slowly being released already…slowly having to learn to make decisions herself and learn to be brave enough to walk away from the wrong ones. I know she won’t always make the right choices, or take the best path in life, hell I’ve made some shite choices in my time, but I hope I’ve brought her up to think things through, to make informed decisions…and more importantly than anything…to trust her instincts.
Sleep: Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterised by reduced or absent consciousness, relatively suspended sensory activity, and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles. It is distinguished from wakefulness by a decreased ability to react to stimuli, and is more easily reversible than being in hibernation or a coma. Sleep is a heightened anabolic state, accentuating the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems.
Ok, so this maybe a slightly ranty post and I’d just like to start by saying it is not written out of any bitterness that my children don’t sleep. Because they do. We have no bedtime battles and only one or two 10 minute night feeds with the baby. No…this post is written out of frustration, out of repeatedly seeing post and tweets and hearing conversations about babies and sleep and the ever elusive ‘self-soothing.’ Out of hearing the question ‘Is he good?’ repeatedly asked about babies…as if any baby could be bad! Out of suddenly, whether or not your baby sleeps through has somehow become the mark of being a good mum. It always seems to be one of the first questions asked of any mum, and it drives me nuts! Why does whether or not my baby sleeps matter? They are a baby of course they probably don’t sleep through (and if they do you are very lucky!) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I’m 36 and I don’t sleep through!
Sleep training is a hugely profitable business. It feeds off a mother’s desperate need for some shut-eye, for them to feel part of the ‘my baby sleeps through the night gang’ and not a complete failure as a mother. Obviously if your child doesn’t sleep you are in no way a failure, but certain books and ‘experts’ and unwanted opinions can sure make you feel that way. The very phrase ‘sleep training’ sends shivers down my spine. Are our children dogs that need training or robots that need programming? Um no, no they most certainly are are not. How about we talk about ‘sleep encouragement’ instead? I do believe that it is our role as parents to set up good associations with sleep, to encourage our children in to good sleep patterns and help them to go to bed happy, but you do not need to enforce a strict routine that may go against all of your babies natural instincts to achieve this. You do not need to use horrible techniques like CIO or CC which only serve to make everyone distressed. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should all be attachment parents either, some babies don’t want to co-sleep even if you would like them to, and some mums just aren’t comfortable with it, which is ok. I just wish we were more well informed, and that people would be more honest about how their babies sleep. I have recently read feeds on Twitter and Facebook encouraging CIO with babies less than three months old, with one even suggesting feeding solids to a 5 week old baby to try and get them to sleep, all of which understandably terrified me. The people who wrote these posts all said these techniques had worked for them, and that now their babies miraculously sleep through. *sighs* I find this hard to believe, and if it is true, then at what cost?
What I would love to encourage is for mums to know that the words ‘baby’ and ‘sleep’ often don’t go together. That it’s normal for babies (especially breastfed ones) to wake during the night…until they are quite old. Developmentally night waking is a protection against SIDs, it is instinctive and meant to happen. If breastfeeding, the night feeds are the richest and help to produce more milk. I’m not going to go into the scientific reasons behind this or start talking to you about baby’s brains and their development because I am not an expert in any way shape or form. But I am a mum who trusts her instincts and will accept night wakings and try to look for a reason why it is happening and address it, not try to fix it, or ignore it in the hope of more sleep. Babies are not robots, some are naturally good sleepers and others need some encouragement. Never in my opinion does leaving them to cry or forcing them to sleep at certain times for certain periods of time induce a good association with sleep…for anyone.
My children have all slept very differently. My daughter was breastfed and never a great sleeper at first, and I wish I’d trusted my instincts more then and co-slept as I feel she would certainly have loved this, but twelve years ago 24 year old me, a me who was terrified of doing anything wrong and followed rules to the letter, wouldn’t go against the advice which was not to do it. Because I was led to believe that if I did do it my baby would die and it would be my fault. So we endured lots of nighttime cuddles with me forcing myself to stay awake so that she could sleep, until (as mentioned in a previous post) it was suggested I did controlled crying with her by the health visitor trying to help with my PND. I hated every second of it and vowed never, ever to do it again. My second child was much better. He liked sleep and would drop off anywhere, a cot, a car seat, a playmat. He still had nights when he didn’t sleep and needed someone there with him, but co-sleeping was never an option for him and these phases never lasted for long. Now, at his bedtime, if we’re not in the room when his tv programme finishes (yes, he’s allowed to watch TV before bed, it calms him down!) he will come and find us and tell us it’s his bedtime, always more than happy to go. And then there was my third baby. Ah and boy did he not sleep at all when he was born…co-sleeping was the only option. I still felt very nervous about it and this time, as I was not a single mum like I was with my daughter, I would make my husband sit at the end of the bed and watch us to make sure I didn’t roll onto my baby whilst I was asleep. Over time I became more relaxed about it and would co-sleep without him watching us. And now my son, even though he was held, rocked, cuddled and fed to sleep everyday for the first three months of his life at least, sleeps best on his own; in his cot.
What I have done with all three is practise the theory of trial and error, and once I’ve found something that works I’ve stuck with it. From birth night feeds were done in the dark with no noise, but I’ve never done a regular routine as such. My daughter had awful eczema and the advice then was not to bathe her regularly as it dried the skin. My children have all had muslins as comforters, the boys had dummies and my daughter her thumb. My youngest is one and is regularly fed to sleep, I’m pretty sure he won’t still be needing a bottle of milk to soothe him into a peaceful slumber when he’s 21 so I’m not worried. I’ve fed them all on demand and if that demand is at three o’clock in the morning then I will meet it. I’ve always used a verbal sleep cue and learnt to recognise the signs that they were sleepy. If they cried I would, and still do go to them, straight away and address their needs. Each of their natural times to sleep, including for naps, have been very different and it frustrates me that children are all expected to slot into this 7pm to 7am sleep time! It is simply not true!
Sleep deprivation and disrupted nights are tough, and it’s a part of parenthood that is hotly debated and treated differently in every family. But I’d like to end by reassuring any mums out there with a baby that doesn’t sleep that is it perfectly normal, and accepting it is a great first step as it takes the pressure off. It is also perfectly normal for babies who were previously ‘good’ sleepers to change. There is no need to analyse everything you do and then subsequently beat yourself up and feel guilty for ‘doing it wrong.’ Chances are, if you are responding to your baby and letting them show you their natural instincts and individual intricacies then you are not failing anyone. Don’t feel pressured into pressuring your baby to sleep through, they pretty much all get there eventually. You cannot spoil a baby with love, you cannot spoil a baby with cuddles and affection. You cannot get into bad habits that can never be broken. And one day, you will without doubt have that all elusive 8 hours uninterrupted sleep…I promise 😉
Mountains: A mountain is a large landform that stretches above the surrounding land in a limited area usually in the form of a peak. A mountain is generally steeper than a hill.
I lay cuddly and warm,
Relishing the calm before the storm.
Head burrowed deep,
Desperately wanting, needing more sleep.
The day stretches ominously ahead,
Too long, too difficult, must stay in bed.
A mountain so hard to climb,
Until sleep again an endless time.
Effort needed, no energy there.
Only panic, fear and despair.
From warmth and comfort, feeling at ease,
To noise and madness and children to please.
But then I force myself up, breathe air,
Rub eyes, stretch limbs, smooth hair.
See smiling children, hear ‘morning mum,’
Excited, hopeful for a day of fun.
Eternal optimists, boundless joy,
Infectious, comforting, my girl and my boys.
Cuddles, love, ‘mummy’s awake,’
All the sadness, fear, away they take.
Precious children, heal me with love,
Climbing the mountain I look down from above.
This day is a good day, isn’t tough.
I soon discover days aren’t long enough.
Opinions: In general, an opinion is a belief about matters commonly considered to be subjective, i.e. it is based on that which is less than absolutely certain, and is the result of emotion or interpretation of facts. An opinion may be supported by an argument, although people may draw opposing opinions from the same set of facts. Opinions rarely change without new arguments being presented. In casual use, the term opinion may be the result of a person’s perspective, understanding, particular feelings, beliefs, and desires.
We are allowed to have different opinions,
It really is ok.
You can do things the way you like,
And I’ll do things my way.
It doesn’t matter that we’re different,
That we don’t do things the same.
Just please don’t judge and please don’t preach,
There’s no one here to blame.
Everyone is equal,
and individual too.
I can be me and happily so,
And you can be confident in you.
Don’t challenge my opinions,
Don’t mock what I do best,
Don’t belittle my beliefs, my ideals,
It makes me like you less.
I know my children inside out,
As I’m sure that you know yours,
But please don’t guess what goes on here,
Behind my home’s closed doors.
I’ll leave you to do what you believe,
And please say you will too.
We’ll never be friends if we don’t respect,
Each others feelings too.
Everybody is different,
What’s best for them, their children,
And how to nurture them as they grow.
So let this be the end,
No more judging and unkind speech.
It is forgotten, I’ve let it go,
There’s nothing the other can teach.
I wish you luck in all you do,
I wish you love and joy.
Now let us each move on,
And do the things we both enjoy.
Philosopher: A philosopher is a person with an extensive knowledge of philosophy who uses this knowledge in their work, typically to solve philosophical problems. Philosophy is concerned with studying the subject matter of fields such as aesthetics, ethics, epistemology, logic, metaphysics, as well as social philosophy and political philosophy.
Today’s #wednesdaywords is a quote, unsurprisingly about listening to and trusting your instincts! 😉 It is from a lady called Harriet Beecher Stowe. She was an American abolitionist and author. Her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a depiction of life for African-Americans under slavery. The quote is simply this…
Recently my instincts have been at the forefront of my everyday life, and they were recently challenged by someone, who implied that parents cannot survive on instinct alone. Trusting your instincts is hard, but is something I am so passionate about. So today, I thought I’d share with you how mine have helped me, and my family recently.
They have helped my four year old son, who has coughed for as long as I can remember; dismissed as asthma by the doctors my instincts told me it was something more, something digestive and sure enough it turns out that it looks like it is something more.We don’t know what yet, possibly Coeliacs, and blood tests and x-rays await us at a hospital appointment. I’m not one for visiting the doctor unnecessarily, but in this case my instincts kept me going back to ask for help….and I was right to listen to them.
My one year old has also been testing my instincts recently too. He’s never slept through the night (three chest infections in three months haven’t helped) and when you tell people he still has a feed in the night they are horrified, and pretty much always suggest training him out of it. But my instincts tell me he needs it. That it is not for comfort. That it is a full feed. It’s often sleep and feeding issues that can test a mother’s instinct (no one likes sleep deprivation!) and this may be when some might reach for those books to look for suggestions about how to make your baby ‘sleep through.’ Stories of how babies slept for twelve hours a night from ten weeks and how they eat more than you do don’t help, and can make you feel like you are doing something wrong. But, much as I’d like a full eight hours of sleep, as you all know I read my baby, and right now, he’s telling me he needs that feed. So that feed he will have.
My instincts have also been there recently about me. About how I am with my PND. The tablets may be gone, and I’m so much better than I was, but it’s still there. It still lingers on. Most days are amazing and I’m happier than I have ever been, but sometimes things can upset and distress me more than they should. And I need to listen to my instincts about how I am feeling, trust them, and ask for help and support on the days where I’m not in control of my brain. On the days where my brain tells me disaster is imminent and I am worthless and cannot cope.
I know it can be heard to listen to what your gut is telling you, and to have the confidence and trust to go with it. So much advice is conflicting; co-sleep/don’t co-sleep; form a strict routine/be baby-led…it’s endless and it can be overwhelming, making it hard to know where to start. And whilst you all know I think advice is invaluable and sounding out ideas is fantastic, it’s far better from and with trusted sources. Many mums worry when their children don’t do things ‘by the book’ or how have been made to believe they ‘should’ do things, but if you listen carefully and look at your baby you’ll know if what’s happening is ok and meant to be…or not.
Each baby different. Each situation different. Each instinct different. Listen.
Training: Training is the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies. Training has specific goals of improving one’s capability, capacity, and performance.
Hello! Who out there is thinking about potty training their little one? Are you dreading it? Or are you looking forward to finally being free from those endless nappy changes?
For me, hearing the term ‘potty training’ makes me want to shout out loud to EVERY parent thinking of doing it and say….STOP…it should be called ‘potty when they’re ready!’ They can’t be trained!! And indeed why should they?
I have three children, a daughter and two sons, two of which are fully ‘trained.’ (Third is only 10 months, think that’s a bit early!) When my daughter was just two, several of our friends in the local play group were already talking about training their little ones to go to the toilet. Whenever we were out and about together I swear they spent more time in the toilets than actually with anyone else. Every time the words ‘Mummy I need wee’ were uttered off they’d dash, scared of an accident and fearful of the child feeling like they’d failed, that they’d done something wrong by having an accident. The mums all had massive bags too, filled with sweets and chocolate as a reward for success, and about fifty million changes of clothes for those inevitable accidents. They bought books, Gina Ford’s guide to potty training was one, and read them whilst we were out to check they were training their little ones correctly. And I guess there was a kind of peer pressure. If they were all doing it, training their tiny people, then should I be? Did I need to go out and buy a giant sized suitcase so I could carry my daughters entire wardrobe around with me in case she had an accident? Did I need a portable potty so that she could feel free to go whenever and wherever she liked? It all seemed like an awful lot of hassle. Whilst they were all running to and from the bathroom and changing their children, wiping away the tears, I was playing with my daughter. Enjoying time with her, be it at the park or a friends house or indeed wherever we were. She wasn’t showing any interest in using a potty, and she was only just two. I kept thinking to myself, how many grown ups aren’t potty trained? How many children go to school still in nappies? (In my 13 years teaching experience I’ve only ever known of one) And I made the decision then to trust my instincts, I knew she wasn’t ready and I’d be damned if I was going to force her to do something that could potentially cause her more upset than good.
So, we waited. And waited. And 6 months later I spied her in the bathroom, sat on one of our potties (yes I had bought some just in case she was ready!) and her favourite teddy bear was sat on another. And they were having a lovely little chat together. She didn’t actually do a wee that time, but not long afterwards she did. And barely ever had an accident. I hadn’t need to train her, I’d waited until she was ready and she had done it all by herself. She knew when she needed to go. And go she did. There were no giant bags of spare clothes, no dashing off and spending hours in public toilets. It was easy. There was no stress involved at all!
Nighttime dryness was the same. As soon as her nappies had been dry for a week or so I took them off. And left a potty in the room if she needed it. Which she did occasionally. But we never had a nighttime accident. Because when those nappies had finally been removed, her body and her brain were ready for it. They’d made the connection. They knew when it was time to go, and could wait when it wasn’t.
It was a similar story with my 3 year old son. Yet for him to be ready we had to wait until he was three and a half. He would happily sit on the potty, and enjoyed watching his Gruffalo do ‘wees’ on the potty (Which was actually me sneakily pouring water in whilst he wasn’t looking!) But his body wasn’t ready for him to do it himself for a long time later. And whilst everyone else at pre-school ditched the nappies, my little boy remained in his. It didn’t bother him. It didn’t bother me. I knew he’d get there in the end. When he was ready. And he did. At night time too. And we’ve had just one accident.
So I guess what I am trying to say with all of these lovely potty anecdotes, is that in my opinion children shouldn’t be trained. Their bodies are complex little things and only when the connections are made in their brains are they ready to use the toilet. It happens at different times for each different child. It’s such an easier and happier experience for everyone involved if you have the courage to wait until they are ready. To not feel the pressure of everyone else waffling on about how their child was trained at 6 months. (Bet these were the children that slept through the night from 6 weeks as well!) Take your time, they all get there in the end.
Birthday: A birthday is a day when a person celebrates the anniversary of his or her birth. Birthdays are celebrated in numerous cultures, often with a gift, party, or rite of passage.
I have the perfect #magicmoment this Monday. Because today, is my youngest’s first birthday and this weekend has been filled with family loveliness and many magical moments! For today’s post I have gathered together my favourite photos of the weekend and birthday celebrations.
He wasn’t sure what to make of the cake…
And then he tasted it…
The sun was shining and he loved walking about in the garden…
And then he opened his presents, with the help of his siblings and cousin…
What a year! And what a magical weekend! Happy Birthday beautiful boy xx
You’re nearly one, a baby no more.
Crawling and cruising around the floor.
Trying new words, making new sounds,
Facial expressions from smiles to frowns.
You like to be cuddled, love to be kissed.
Looking at everything, nothing is missed.
Reading a book, chewing a toy.
You are an absolute total and wonderful joy.
This year has been tough, challenges faced.
Hardness and difficulties for which I wasn’t braced.
Sleepless nights and emotional weeks,
Both of us at times with tears down our cheeks.
But you made me stronger, you made me have hope.
I could be your mum, I could do it, cope.
We got through it together, a family as one.
And now those dark days and dark times are gone.
Your birthday on Monday, with family around.
Presents and cards and cake to be found.
Celebrate the wonder and joy that is you,
And marvel at all the amazing things that you do.
Cuddle you tight and hold you close.
Place kisses all over your cheeks and your nose.
Know I love you, more so every day,
You complete our family in every possible way.
Happy first birthday my beautiful boy xx
Kindness: Kindness is the act or the state of being kind, being marked by good and charitable behavior, pleasant disposition, and concern for others. It is known as a virtue, and recognized as a value in many cultures and religions (see ethics in religion). Research has shown that acts of kindness does not only benefit receivers of the kind act, but also the giver, as a result of the release of neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of contentment and relaxation when such acts are committed. 
Today’s #wednesdaywords is another short and sweet one from me. It follows on from my rule post on Monday as the words themselves are another ‘rule’ by which I like to live, and think important. And the words, taken from a friend’s picture on her wall, are these….
So simple yet so true…especially the ‘be kind’ part. It is so important to be kind. Being kind is innate, it’s natural, yet sadly sometimes easily forgotten. Kindness often costs nothing, and yet…is priceless.
Rule: noun: from Middle English rule, from Old French riule, from Vulgar Latin regula (“straight stick, bar, ruler, pattern”), from regere (“to keep straight, direct, govern, rule”); see regent.verb: from Middle English rulen, from Old French riuler, from Latin regulare (“to regulate, rule”), from regula (“a rule”); see regular.
Rules, we all have them and mostly we all try and live by them. I am an absolute stickler for them. I cannot, try as I might break them and am filled with a sense of dread if I even attempt to. If a sign says ‘No Entry’ then there is nothing, not even a massive box of calorie free chocolate on the other side, that will make me enter! (although I would think about it)
Parenting for me has it’s own set of rules (instinctive ones of course!!) but also some black and white ones that my family and I all abide by. ‘Treat others how you would like to be treated yourself.’ is one. ‘Work hard, play hard.’ another. More ideals and life philosophies than rules I guess.
And there is no place where rules are more enforced than ever, than in a school. A few months ago I went to a parents evening at my daughter’s school, and on chatting to her form tutor for a mere 15 minutes it was clear that my 11 year daughter was breaking quite a few of their rules. She was being rude to others, not handing in her homework and had got a couple of detentions in a couple of weeks. I was mortified. There has always been two sides to my daughter, she’s a Gemini and we’ve often said she has a good side, and a not so good side, and clearly the latter was rearing it’s ugly head more than the norm (if there is one!) for a pre-teen. Interestingly the form tutor’s advice was for me to be stricter with her. It was a moment when I had to do a bit of self reflection. My fiery red-headed daughter had always pushed boundaries with her fantastically outgoing and vivacious personality, and she’d always needed clear boundaries setting. However in the last year, with the birth of my third child and PND I had to admit that these boundaries had lapsed somewhat. It was easier for me to pick up rubbish she left in the lounge than have to have yet another argument about her doing it herself. It was easy for me to say yes to her having the laptop in her room at bedtime than have a battle to get her to go to bed. I’m not proud of my lack of ‘structured’ parenting, but I will admit to it and be honest about it. I had taken the easy route. I felt awful that she’d seen me so ill, felt terrible that she was old enough to know what was going on and that she’d had to comfort me on many an occasion. So, if I could keep her happy in other ways I guess I had felt I was making up for some of that. But now, the lack of boundaries was coming back to bite us both on the ass.
We came home, both of us very upset. There had been so many arguments and battles between us over the last few months, but for once after what the tutor had said, we were both speechless. I felt I had completely let her down and mother’s guilt kicked in with full force. She went to bed and I tortured myself with guilt and fears of being a terrible mother. My daughter and I had done a ‘love bombing’ day a few weeks previous to this which, although wonderful, hadn’t fully solved the issues and as soon as we returned home from our day out, try as we might not to let it happen, the arguments, resentment and frustrations returned. So we needed something new. I thought about what the form tutor had said and wondered how my daughter felt about it. We sat down and discussed what we were going to do, as our situation was affecting so many people. My daughter said she wanted rules. She said she wanted to know exactly where she stood and what she was and wasn’t allowed to do. I asked her how she would like this to be done and she decided on a rule book. We went to Paperchase and bought a massive coloured notebook, and some stickers. (and I may or may not have also purchased several smaller notebooks for me, but we won’t focus on that) We came home and together thought of what we both expected of each other. Each page was written with a rule, and a consequence if that rule was broken. Things like ‘all electronic equipment switched off by 8.30pm,’ ‘make your bed every morning,’ and ‘tidy up after yourself,’ were recorded and agreed. She wanted to sign every page to show she was committed to it. And I had rules too!
It’s strange, but after the book had been written and the rules were in place she changed. She looked happier, lighter. Without being asked she started following them, and was actually found singing as she tidied up! Upon asking her where this lovely good mood had come from she simply said that she felt a weight had been lifted from her shoulders and that she felt so much happier knowing exactly where she stood. She said writing that book had been a relief, and she was so happy we were working as a team to improve our relationship and her attitude. Over the next few weeks we looked at the book every evening and either stuck in a sticker (again her idea!) if she had stuck to it, or put a warning cross if something hadn’t gone quite right. Soon, as the weeks went by we needed to look at the book less and less and now, it’s hardly referred to at all.
The real test (and subsequent #magicmoment!) came last Thursday. It was her end of Year 7 parents evening. A two hour extravaganza where I would meet every single one of her teachers. I was nervous, she was nervous. The proof, as they say, was going to be in the parent-teacher conference pudding. And it was the sweetest, most delicious pudding I had ever eaten. Phrases like, ‘wonderfully polite, ‘ ‘an absolute pleasure to teach,’ ”a fantastic team player,’ and ‘such an amazing attitude to school and learning,’ were said…about my daughter! She was praised for her perseverance, for her thoughtfulness, her kindness and determination. Together we discovered how truly amazing she is, and I have never been so proud to be her mother. She swelled with pride with every conversation and at the end of the two hours we were laughing and smiling and high-fiving (not cool for a grown woman I know!) all over the place. She was so proud of herself and everything she had achieved. And I had learnt to listen to her needs more, she needed rules and boundaries not my misplaced attempts at making her feel loved to try and ease my PND guilt.
Now, I’m not naive enough to think that my daughter will forever be this polite, hard working and well behaved, she is about to become a teenager in the not so distant future after all, but I do hope that this wonderful phase continues and that it installs in her an innate sense of motivation and desire to work hard and succeed. She set her own rules and stuck to them. She excelled herself and turned it around. That parents evening was a truly wonderful #magicmoment. We celebrated in style with a lovely mother/daughter dinner, something we have vowed to do at least once a week, just the two of us. She’s an amazing child, and I think she is finally beginning to realise that herself!