Thursday, 28 October 2010

Mama, MD & everything in between

Mothers of today are often harsh critics – of ourselves. Whether we work full-time or stay at home full-time or commit to any of the spectrum of career/ at home options in between, our choices are too often accompanied by a dose of guilt and the need to justify our actions.

Too often mothers working full-time feel the need to explain their decision, as if by returning to work they don’t love their children enough. Mothers who stay at home with the kids find it difficult to describe their “career” and feel urged to validate their intelligence and explain why they are not “working”. Mothers who return to a job part-time often worry whether they are getting the balance right.

Why is the modern mother so often wracked by guilt? On one hand, we’re human and susceptible to some guilt or doubt or frustration over the trade-offs we make. What frustrates me, however, is when society makes mothers feel guilty about the career choices we make. We make them for a reason. It may be for our career. It may be for our happiness. It may be for money. It may be for our peace of mind. It may be for any or all of the above and it will be different for each of us.

The important issue, as I see it, is healthy debate with ourselves about the choices that we make to ensure they are the right ones. The ones that make us tick. The ones that empower us to unleash untapped potential rather than feel trapped, as Holly at It’s a Mummy’s Life recently blogged about.

When I see a mother pursuing her chosen “vocation” with conviction and happiness, I’m inspired. When I see a mother who has thrown off the shackles of pre-conception in society for a career path that she wants/needs to do, I say hurrah.

As long as we’re putting some good into the world, why does it matter whether we wear a mama or a professional hat by day? We’re all mothers and love our kids at the end of the day. And when our children look to us as role models, they are sure to be more inspired by women who pursue decisions with confidence rather than express doubt about ourselves and the choices we make.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

How do you level with a 9-month old?

Anyone, anyone?

I’ve always described LLC as a spirited little lady. She’s a good girl with a pizzazz that must be the making of a strong personality. When she wants to dish out smiles she serves them up aplenty. Likewise when she’s unsure about something, she’s deploys a very inquisitive and questioning look, like she’s sizing up the situation. I’ve probably said all this before.

Lately when LLC doesn’t get her way, she shows off her healthy pair of lungs with a hearty bellow, not so much a cry, but a feisty shout. Of course she saves this bellowing mainly for Chris and me, and for my parents who sometimes catch her antics over Skype. (An aside – Skype is a wonderful and free way to connect with family and friends living far away.)

I think she’s now that little bit older, "with it", and is starting to have firm opinions about what she wants. If she’s in her high chair waiting for dinner and it’s not coming fast enough, she lets us know it! If I’m carrying something but she decides she wants to be held, she crawls over to my legs, stands up and squawks (which is pretty cute, minus the squawk). If we take away a “toy” aka the remote control that we foolishly left on her radar away, she is not impressed.

My mom suggested explaining to her why I don’t always give her what she wants, when she wants it. If her food is still too hot to eat, I’ll have her touch the bowl and explain its contents is still too hot. If I’m carrying a computer and she wants to be held, I’ll explain it would be dangerous to carry her and a computer all at once. If I take the remote away from her I’ll explain that it’s something adults use for the television that she too can use when she’s a bit older. 

I see value in this, because even though she’s small, not rational and doesn’t understand, maybe repeating these things to her will help her to do so in time. What have you found? And once she does understand, will she care or will she just continue to make demands with even more conviction?

Sunday, 17 October 2010


Space in the UK comes at a premium. I learned this when I first moved to England as a student where I shared one modest wardrobe with my flatmate in our central London University accommodation. Eight years later, I’m used to having less space than I did in the United States, but at times I still really miss it.

I’d appreciate more space on the road, so I don’t have to pull in between parked cars every five minutes to accommodate oncoming traffic. I long for space in my yard/garden to throw a Frisbee without knowing it will end up over my neighbor’s fence. And lately, I crave more space in our house to accommodate our growing family.

It would be nice for LLC to have more room to crawl around. It would be a relief not to have to dry my laundry on racks in our living room (that LLC tries to knock over) now that nothing seems to dry outside. I would enjoy not having to deploy the thought and precision of a military operation in order to get a second stroller through our front door when friends visit. We could definitely do with increased storage space with our influx of baby paraphernalia.

On that last point, at least we are limited in the big, bulky plastic baby toys that we can bring through our door, which isn’t a bad thing.

I like our house and we have no immediate plans to move. We’re committed to some creative interior scheming and we’re getting there. Chris has converted an old airing cupboard and dead end hallway in our house into closets with shelving. We’ve rearranged furniture and mounted our TV on our living room wall. We’ve begun a full on romance with Ikea storage solutions….

Ah, things you take for granted. Please don’t think me greedy, I’m just having a Sunday night moan!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Dinner Party

“I can’t talk now, I’m giving LLC dinner,” I told Chris when he called from the train on his way home yesterday. I clicked on speakerphone so he could say a quick hello to his little lady and then we parted company.

“Patience is a virtue,” I told LLC as she eyed me impatiently from her highchair while her food cooled down. “It’s almost ready. Okay. Mommy’s just going to taste it now. Almost ready. We don’t want it to be too hot, or it might burn your mouth and that would not feel nice!”

“Aaaaerrghh,” shouted LLC. “A bababa dadadada aaaarrggghhh.”

“Alrightly,” I chirped. “I think we’re ready now. Oh, you want the spoon? Sure, take the spoon. And flick your food. Look LLC, look. You want to get the food in your mouth. That’s right. You’re having something to eat. (Cue sign for “eat” from the sing and sign class we are taking.) Would you like some more?” (Cue sign for more)

LLC ate and played with her food a bit before deciding it was time to lose her bib. She tugs at it until she pops it off, not particularly hard to do as it’s only held on by Velcro. This is a recent habit that I’m desperately trying to break since her trusty plastic bib with front pocket collects many a culinary casualty.

“LLC, let’s have some more to eat! We don’t want to take off our bib or our clothes will get dirty. Look, mommy has some apple for you. Here, hold the apple! Uh-oh, stop. (Cue sign for stop). Stop. Let’s not take off the bib. Stop. (Again the sign for stop – LLC laughs in response). Stop, in the name of your bib! Before you get real messy.” (Sang to the tune of 'Stop in the Name of Love.')

Sadly I don’t have the voice of Diana Ross but LLC’s no critic, this proved a successful distraction and I had no other audience.

So I thought. When Chris got home he enjoyed telling me how, somehow, neither of us managed to properly disconnect our phones and the train carriage had been treated to LLC and my dinner-time discourse. It was only when he noticed fellow commuters giggling and giving him funny looks that he took off his i-pod and heard our voices coming out of his pocket. “Oh, that’s just my daughter having dinner,” he announced, noting that she seemed to have provided some entertainment.

Why do I feel like they were laughing at my expense?!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Daddy's Little Girl

I'm not really into "daddy's girls" and "mommy's boys".....personally I like the idea of both parents having a strong relationship with their child rather than the child being wrapped around the finger of the parent of the opposite sex.  Does this really happen a lot?  Is it partly a cultural thing?  Is it partly instinctual?

Growing up I had an equally solid relationship with both of my parents and I knew to try my luck with mom on some things, and dad on others.  I think it's the notion that one parent is the "good cop" that will let their kid get away with anything that I shy away from.  I hope LLC will view Chris and me as equals.

Still, there is no denying that Chris has a real soft spot for LLC.  He loves to "get in her grill" and give her a cuddle, play ball with her, feed her and even attend to her diaper productions.  Last night he arrived home after her bed-time and obviously felt cheated of time with his little lady.  Soon after he disappeared and I when I went to track him down I found him cuddling her on the futon in her bedroom.  This is not the first time he's gone down that route, to which my regular response is, "If she wakes, you are dealing with it!!  Put her back in bed now!!!"

But can I really complain?  No.  (Well, maybe a bit).  But it is lovely to see him so loved up and proud of his daughter.

Also, huge congrats to our friends Family G, who just became parents for the second time today! They now have a daughter and a son so in time will be able to comment on gender dynamics in the family!!