Happy Fathers Day Mom

Today I logged onto Facebook (as we do in order to pass a few minutes with our morning beverage of choice) and my news feed was filled with loving posts to various men from across the board, from dads, to grandads, to loved ones of the male variety in general. Which is lovely.

It is, afterall, fathers day. The day we are told to thank our fathers for all they do for us. The only thing is, I never knew mine. He was around for a short while but soon lost interest and vanished around the age of 2 or 3. My very young mom raised three kids on her own for the most part (albeit with the help of my powerhouse super human nan who dashed between work and school to collect us and help where she could.) But on the whole, my mom raised us kids and was the one that put us to bed each night and spent that time with us.

So, I have to say, I find fathers day a bit of a funny one. I do not feel obliged to thank a man I do not know and have not seen since I was 2. Neither do I feel I owe anything to a man who made my moms life utterly miserable through neglect and abuse, leaving her as a young mom of three with no money and bad memories. He never bothered contacting us again, until too long had passed, somewhat of a relief looking back, and paid no maintanance for his children EVER, moving on to impregnante another woman whilst mom raised his first three alone. I cant be thankful to a man that by birth right is my dad, but by presence has been none existant. I can, however, be thankful to a few people and Im going to take the time to do that today, before the day is over, to give my thanks publicly, because although my mom hates these forced days where we are told what to say, I know her and a few others deserve a few good words on fathers day.

Firstly, to my step dad, Rob. My mom got remarried to a lovely man after we all become young adults (or old teenagers in my sisters case.) He has been the one who has supported her and loved her and helped her. He has also supported, loved and helped all of us kids in equal measure, individually, at different stages of our time knowing him. We have brought, in all fairness, a lot of distruption (as kids do) to his previously probably a lot more peaceful child free life. However, we have also added another dimension he never had before, a positive one, like that feeling of belonging to a unit and life being about so much more than yourself . Like having a family to call his own (without having to do the pooey nappy stage-he got the difficult young adult stage instead!). And the unconditional bond that you get as a family when you realise these are truly your people and that, even if you fall out, you know a year down the line you can see them and give them a great big hug and mean every squeeze of it. We have had our moments as a family, all of us, but you have done as you promised you would and stuck by mom through thick and thin, as you have stuck by all of us too. For that, and for the person you are, I truly am thankful that you came into our lives, having enriched ours also with something that we have never had before either. That being a positive male role model who says what he means and does what he says. One that knows and wants his responsibility and looks after those around him. I know we scare you sometimes (ha!) but I wouldnt change you being in our lives for anything. I am so pleased you and mom found each other when you did. It was so lovely talking to you today and we look forward to seeing you in August. WP_20140221_174

Secondly, to my daughters dad, Adam. The pain I felt after you left, breaking a decades worth of love, work, family, hopes, plans and life, is not an easy burden to bear for anyone. On occassions since that time, for one reason or another, things have been trying, confusing and frought. Seperations are not easy, especially unwanted ones. However, we have somehow, someway, managed to create the most beautiful, intelligent, funny little girl. We did that. I dont know how she came out so wonderful. Or so clever. Or so talented. We have had back and forths, ups and downs, trials and trouble. We have also, however, had family time still as a unit, co parenting on your days here to make sure Emi knows her parents are both around still, regardless of our personal situation, having plenty of moments of happiness, joy, friendship, laughter and pride along the way. Whatever has happened, a families bond, if they were a genuine happy family, is still there. You are still family, in whatever way we can now call it. The obvious resentment is there for me as a single mom now, doing most of the work all week on my own and being the one that now builds my life around Emi, which is so much harder by yourself. That is natural I think. I am still working on that. However, as it is a day for being grateful and thankful, I would like to say that I am thankful you still turn up when you say you will. I am thankful that you help out with the nursery runs when you can, giving me a much needed break on those days. I am still thankful that Emi has a dad and that you didnt do what a lot of men do when they leave and simply walk away and forget about her. I am not saying its perfect and you know I give you it when I think you can try harder for her, thats my job, im her mom, but what matters is you are still here. That is more than my dad did and I can only hope that it lasts so that Emi will always have two parents who want to be around her, in her life, wherever we may be, showing her she is loved and wanted. It hasnt been easy, granted, but somehow, even after what happened, Emi is surrounded by love and happiness in her home, both by me as her main person each day on our days alone together and also as a family still when you come and visit. It is so healthy to teach her to be kind. To be kind to those even who have hurt you. To be kind to those you love. To be thankful for the things you do have even when you dont have what you feel you would like. Emi still has her people around her and I am very thankful for that. Thank you for letting her enjoy opening your fathers days presents today. She had a ball. 20170221_085447

Last but not least, to my mom. We have had our ups and downs. I personally think its a girl thing because Emi already acts about fourteen at four! You dont always say what I want to hear, or you might question things I think dont need to be raised. You annoy me and I annoy you. Sometimes. Thats life. Then, sometimes, you phone me up, just for a chat, just because you miss me, just because you miss Emi, just because you want to see how I am. You live 300 miles away, yet, you are the one that phones me after ALL the important things that go on in my life, like health appointments or personal stuff, you always phone to see how it went and how I am. I was thinking about this the other day. Dont think I dont notice that. We may have fallen out before. Plenty. You have raised strong feisty women with an opinion. It wasnt going to be a smooth ride. We may have really pissed each other off before too. You may not have been able to raise us in the idealic situation we are told by society we should have. But you did raise us. You are still here. You are still present. You are still calling. You drive up 300 miles just to get a cuddle from your grandaughter and make sure you can still be involved with her upbringing. I know people with mothers on their doorsteps they dont hear from for a year at a time. You bother. You make the effort. You are someone that Emi completely trusts and puts her own care in Grandmas hands because she knows shes safe. She has decided that for herself because she feels it. You have taught her, through what you taught me, to feel what she needs to feel. To follow her emotions and to go with what she needs. You are constant. You are here. I admit I have taken that for granted in the past and as we all do, have sometimes focused on certain bits I may not like or agree with. You have also done this in return. However, we fight, we make up, we get over it, we move on. We mend, we heal, we progress, we live, we love. That is what a true family is about. To be able to tell you straight then get over it. To not always agree, but to get over it. To accept youre not always right then get over it. To be there because they want you to be ok. You, I know, would never cut me out of your life as some have done, or leave me to my own devices to never hear from you again. You are too concerned with knowing if I am ok. I hear of people, friends I know also, who dont speak to their mothers or daughters. They fall out and never speak again and years pass and they die having never spoken and one person is left feeling horrible about it. I think that must be unbearable. I would feel heartbroken if Emi didnt want to know me. I would also never even consider turing my back on her, unless given no choice of course, as I appreciate some are. Now I am in a position of being where you were all those years ago, on my own with a child, I fully understand how hard it must have been. The loniless can be dibilitating. The work load can be exhausting. The constant reminder that you dont have what you wanted can be hard to take and effect how you feel around the children. However, you managed. As I am. I am more than managing on the whole actually. Thats because of you. Because I have been raised to be silently secure enough to handle my own. To feel every insecurity but to work to the best of my ability with what I do have. To have that fighting spirit within me that you took from nan also and to simply survive, even when you feel you dont have it in you. Because the alternative is not an option when you look into the eyes of your child and know you want them to have a happy upbringing. I want so much for Emi and I know you feel the same for me. So I just wanted to say thank you. For being both mom and dad for all those years. For doing it all. See you next week. looking forward to our holiday. WP_20160620_17_38_41_Proxx

 

Co-Sleeping with a child

Up until the age of one, my daughter refused to sleep by herself! She was so young and little, we just became accustomed to the fact our night time rest would be disturbed and accepted it would get better when she was ready. It became a way of life that we just went along with, often believing our patience couldn’t last when we fancied a bit of alone time and a crying baby would often put a stop to it. We always found humour with it though, as the second she was placed between us, she would close her eyes, smile coyly and drift off for the rest of the night in a wonderful cosy sleep, probably feeling pretty safe and smug. We didn’t mind really. Getting to squish her baby leg rolls in the night was a pretty good consolation prize. (We all enjoy baby rolls, don’t deny it.)

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Above: Who wouldn’t enjoy waking up to this?!

Then suddenly, when she was around 14 months, is stopped. She wanted to sleep in her cot and there were no more tears at bedtime, no more midnight wake up calls. We found ourselves for weeks after it started keeping on checking in on her, making sure she was still breathing, as we couldn’t get used to the quietness. We actually started to miss having her with us on a night.

People will often tell you that these things are just stages and the child will grow out of it naturally when they are ready, but I don’t for one second think that most of us believe it will actually happen that way. So when my daughter suddenly was very contented in her own cot, eventually also being happy in her own big girls bed approaching 2, we couldn’t have been happier for her. Of course, for me as her mother, there was that secret hidden element where I also felt a little bit like she didn’t need me anymore and was getting her comfort elsewhere. That will always be there I now know, whatever new milestone she reaches. But I had a partner at the time, so no baby in the middle of us in bed was very much welcomed and it was nice to have time for each other again.

Then, as some of you know, our world was turned upside down when my partner left me for another girl, leaving me and our daughter confused and insecure.

From the day he left, my daughter has refused to sleep in her own room, never mind in her own bed. The first few months were really needed for us both. We drew comfort and security from each other, her still only 2 at the time and having been used to feeling secure  since birth knowing daddy was in the next room, I can’t imagine the insecurities she must have felt at watching him go. Break ups are so confusing on the children and unfortunately, some people never do consider the children when they run onto the next greener horizon they think is awaiting them.WP_20140308_008.jpg

Above: Innocent little lives. So peaceful with what they know and are familiar with x

In terms of myself, I no longer had someone to hold me and make me feel safe at night. When you have spent 8 years with someone who cuddled you to sleep every night, it’s a real shock to the system to have an empty cold half of the bed. So having my daughter with me, at night, really pulled us through together. She wanted to know that I was there at all times and that I wouldn’t leave her also. I do believe she also wanted to protect me. She had seen first hand, unfortunately, my devastation at what was happening, and the day he got into the van packed with his things and went, we sat on the hall stairs, where she cuddled me, wiped away my tears and said “We are together now mom.” At only 2, she was looking after me. And I needed it. And she knew I did.

These days, I never for one minute doubt a child’s intelligence. Some people say they are only 2 or 3, they don’t know what they’re saying, or they wont remember anything. Of course they will. They are like sponges.

This was a year ago. Its been a rollercoaster ride getting to this point. Some days are good. Other days not so good. We have fun together though. Since that time, I have tried to get my daughter to want to sleep in her own room, investing in a new bed for her and even redecorating it in her choice of colours. We have managed a few nights where she begrudgingly goes to sleep in there, but I always awake to the sound of little footprints running back into my room in the middle of the night, getting in, smiling, turning over and falling into a lovely peaceful sleep next to me. Sound familiar? WP_20150104_17_51_25_Pro.jpg

Above: Team work x

A few people have warned me off allowing this. They have said the child will become too dependent on me. That she will never sleep in her own bed if I don’t push her to now.

I think, this time, I am going to listen to my own instinct.

It is doing her more good than harm having that comfort from me. She sleeps rights through the night (7pm until 7am on a good night.) It has been a year but not a straight forward one. Try telling a 3 year old when its time to stop missing her daddy being there when she needs a cuddle. It doesn’t happen. They are natural creatures at that age, going from one moment to the next entirely on how they feel in that moment. If it brings her comfort to know im not going to walk out on her and im next to her, whilst she’s still young, I am all for it.

She wakes up rested, rejuvenated and happy right now. I have attempted a few times in her room and most of the night has been spent disturbed, crying or generally restless. She is then a misery the next day for lack of sleep which makes things twice as hard.

At three and a half, she is already getting embarrassed about me giving her a kiss on the cheek when I drop her into pre-school. This morning, she wiped it off with her hand and gave it back to me! It gives me hope that children follow their natural needs and that she wont always be hogging my bed. She has grown up so much in the last few months, she is different to how she was even 3 months ago. They are constantly evolving and growing, something I don’t think they are given enough credit for when they are often labelled as spoilt or naughty.

I do believe that they will tell you what they need in their own time. Dont misplace my meaning, I do believe kids need structure and routine, which she has. They also need boundaries. Treats should be treats and not expected everyday, they should understand that hard work is the way to earn things they want and not just be handed it, and so on.

However, at the moment, with the sleeping, I don’t see it’s doing her any harm. I am pretty certain that pushing her away before she is ready would actually do more harm than good. I’m also pretty certain that in not so long from now she will be feeling even more grown up and will eventually leave the safety of my bed and want her own. That is a given, it will happen. And I will miss these baby years where she was completely devoted to me and wanted nothing in return other than love. Why shouldnt I enjoy this special time? Maybe if I had a partner I might feel differently, but I don’t. That’s my point, no one can say it’s wrong because each situation is different for each person’s individual life path.

Also, whilst I am not sharing my bed with anyone else, it’s of no great rush to me either. I like knowing she’s there too.

Co sleeping shouldnt be mislabeled as inappropriate or wrong. It also shouldnt be confused with co dependency. I am all for her being in her own bed and when she is it will be a relief not to be kicked in the face in the night. I’m just not going to bully her into getting there before she needs to. x wp_20141107_08_30_10_pro