To the man who told me I should be enjoying my baby

Dear Man at the crossing,

You probably don’t remember me, just another mother with another pushchair who you made a passing comment to as we both waited for the lights to change so we could cross the road. But let me remind you – as we walked towards each other, approaching the crossing from opposite directions you saw a mum, pushing a buggy with one hand and a mobile phone in the other. I imagine you thought I was texting my pals, or checking Facebook or maybe even taking a selfie like you’ve heard people do these days.

Pushing the buggy with one hand and my phone in the other

After a minute or two you saw me finish whatever I was doing and put my phone back in my pocket. As we neared the crossing you said ‘Glad to see you put that phone away, you should be enjoying your baby’. In my shock the only response I could come up with was one of those upwards nods of the head and a ‘yeah’.

But as we crossed the road and headed off again in opposite directions I thought ‘how dare you!’ ‘How dare you tell me what I should or shouldn’t be doing. How dare you imply that I was somehow neglecting my son’.

Because let me tell you a bit about what had happened that morning, about this baby I should be ‘enjoying’. This baby is poorly. He’s only got a cold but he’s had it for about six weeks now. Oh, and he’s also teething. He’s currently cutting his sixth tooth in as many weeks. So last night he woke roughly every hour after going to bed. And it had taken over an hour to get him to sleep in the first place which meant I didn’t get to put my other son to bed, or to kiss him good night like I usually do. Then, the baby woke crying every hour and I had to settle him back to sleep. That carried on until about 2 am when he ramped it up to every half hour. And when it got to 5:30 and I couldn’t get him to go back to sleep any more my husband got up with him and took him downstairs so I could get a few hours sleep. Normally he wouldn’t be able to do that because he leaves for work at 6:30 but today he’s at home because he’s ill too. Oh I didn’t mention that part yet? As well as the baby being ill my husband and I are too. We’ve got some weird flu virus thing that’s left us exhausted, with temperatures and glands so swollen we can barely swallow. By rights we should both be tucked up in bed with a Lemsip but who would look after the kids then?

So anyway, the baby had been up since 5:30, the toddler got up a couple of hours later and was being mercifully well behaved. We managed to give everyone some breakfast and most of us were wearing clothes that weren’t pyjamas.

It was then time for the baby’s nap – he’d been up for over four hours and crying for most of them after all. I took him upstairs but instead of going to sleep he decided that screaming in my ear and trying to grab fistfuls of my painfully swollen neck is a much more appealing idea. So I brought him out for a walk.

I left the toddler at home with his dad, which I could only do because he’s off work sick and I wrangled a crying baby into the pushchair. I left the house to the sounds of my two and a half year old saying ‘don’t go, I want to go with mummy’.

I have a wonderful little boy who entertains himself while I deal with the baby, a little boy who has watched far too much TV in the last seven months because sometimes I can barely function enough to get him fed and dressed after a few hours sleep so there’s no way I’m going to worry if he watches a bit too much CBeebies if that’s what we need to do to get through the day.

So anyway, my lovely, sweet little boy has been asking to go swimming every day for a week now. He hasn’t been in a swimming pool for over a year so I don’t know where he’s got the idea from but that’s what he wants to do. But he hasn’t got anything to wear to go swimming so as I was walking down the road, pushing the buggy with one hand I was using the other to order my older boy some swimming things so we can take him next week, that is assuming everyone is well again and the baby hasn’t kept us up all night. And when I’d finished my order I put my phone away.

Just in time for your comment that I should be enjoying my baby. My baby who cries for probably half the time he’s awake. My baby who I have to prioritise over my toddler nearly every day. My baby who makes me cry almost every day because I don’t know what’s wrong with him or how I can help him.

My baby who was fast asleep in his buggy and couldn’t give a shit whether I was on my phone or not.

So next time you feel the need to pass judgement on someone’s parenting, sir, I urge you to think about the rest of the story that you can’t see from a two minute encounter in the street.


The knackered-looking mum pushing a buggy with one hand and a phone in the other.

This is my reality // Behind the scenes at Toby Goes Bananas

My friend Donna at What the Redhead said has written a post today about the monochrome trend which seems to be everywhere you look at the moment. This isn’t a post about that but it got me thinking about how much my blog, my instagram feed, and the thoughts and pictures I share on Facebook and Twitter actually differ from the reality of my life.

Now I don’t hugely edit my life for the blog and social media but I wonder how much other people do. When I scroll through my instagram feed in the morning and see flat lays of coffee and croissants on rustic wooden trays with a posy of flowers for good measure, being eaten on pristine white sheets…is that what life is really like for some people? If it is then I am hugely envious, but I suspect the flat lay is so popular because it cuts out all of the surrounding chaos!

I’m not saying I’m innocent of this – you may have noticed I’m a fan of close up photographs of my kids. Apart from the fact I just like pictures of their faces it also means I can crop out all the mess in the background. I’ve even been know to Photoshop out a bogey hanging from Toby’s nose before now. I’m sure we all know that a carefully chosen instagram filter can hide a multitude of sins but like I said I don’t think my online life is overly edited.

That doesn’t mean the online representation of my life tells the whole story though so I thought I would share a picture that actually captures the reality of my life…

This is my reality

So here it is – this is my reality. There are toys, bibs, clothes and bags all over the floor, along with a selection of cushions from the sofa. We are sitting on a towel because Gabe could be sick at any moment, he really can’t be trusted to lie on the rug. I’m trying to change the baby while my own personal toddler-limpet clings to my side. And if you could smell the picture it would have that distinctive odour of nappy changes because with two children to look after it’s much easier to get them both changed and dressed on the living room floor than drag them both upstairs.

There you have it; when I’m not hiding behind instagram filters and careful cropping this is my reality. How much do you edit your online life? I’m sure I can’t be the only one…

Guilt is to motherhood. . .

Mummy guilt

I’m linking up this week with the lovely Sara at mumturnedmom for her shiny new linky ‘The Prompt’. Each week Sara will provide a prompt – the rest is up to you. I’m already joining in with a few photo linkys so the idea of one focusing on the writing appealed to me and hopefully I’ll be able to join in every week. You can read more about why Sara decided to start the prompt here.

So without further ado…this weeks prompt…

Guilt to motherhood is like grapes to wine. Fay Weldon

It is morning. I hear my baby wake up and start babbling to himself. I don’t get up, I wait. He goes quiet, I turn over and go back to sleep. Ten minutes later I hear him again so I drag myself out of bed to go to him. He is happy, lying in his cot and grinning at me, but I feel guilty in case he has been lying awake and waiting for me.

I sit on the sofa, scrolling through Twitter on my phone. My six month old son is lying on the floor, wriggling and reaching for his toys. He is happy and yet I feel guilty that I am not giving him one hundred percent of my attention, that I am not down there on the floor playing with him.

My boy is in bed having a nap. I hear him wake up and call out. I don’t go to him straight away. I just nip to the loo first and get the washing out of the dryer before I go and get him. He is happy looking at the stars and planets on his wall and yet I feel guilty that I don’t go to him as soon as I hear he is awake.

We go out to the park to meet our friends. Toby is sat on my knee whilst we chat. He reaches out and tries to grab the teapot which only a few minutes earlier contained boiling water. I move it away and he is fine, the teapot was cool, and yet I feel guilty that I didn’t think to move it out of his reach earlier.

Home from the park, and it’s time for bed again. My son loves to sleep and I know he needs his nap and I yet I feel guilty as I hope he sleeps for a few hours, so that afterwards I don’t have to entertain him for too long before it’s time to go and pick up his daddy from the station.

Only an hour until bedtime. The little bear is happy playing with his daddy and yet I feel guilty for counting down the minutes until we can have some time to ourselves.

My baby is clean and ready for bed. He lies on his daddy’s knee having his last bottle before bed. I kiss him good night and tell him that I love him. He is happy……… and so am I.


Sometimes I cry

I think I’ve cried more in the last year than I’ve ever cried before.

When I was pregnant I cried when I was tired. I cried when I was uncomfortable. I cried at The Biggest Loser and DIY SOS on TV. I cried when the kids at school didn’t do what I told them to (luckily not in front of them). I cried because my hips hurt. I cried before we had the first scan in case something was wrong. I cried because I was worried we wouldn’t know how to look after a baby. I cried because I couldn’t sleep. I even cried after we put a cuddly reindeer in the loft with the Christmas decorations because he was up there on his own! Sometimes I had no idea why I was crying. But I did a lot of crying.

Gabe's sad face

And then Toby was born and I cried some more. I cried because he wouldn’t sleep unless someone was holding him. I cried because breastfeeding was incredibly painful. I cried because I was more tired than I ever thought possible. I cried for the life I used to have and would never have again. I cried because I felt guilty for wanting that life back. I cried when I did a pee and it stung like buggery. I cried because I knew he was suffering but I didn’t know how to help him. I cried because I was so indescribably tired (did I say that already?!). I cried because our baby was so heart-stoppingly beautiful. I cried because he cried and no matter what we tried he wouldn’t stop. I cried because I gave my baby formula. I cried because I had to look after Toby on my own all day. I cried because my husband was feeling like he only saw a grumpy baby for half an hour every day between coming home from work and bedtime and I wished we could all spend more time together. I still cried at The Biggest Loser.

And now? Toby is nearly 4 months old and sometimes I cry. But now there are more days that I don’t cry than days that I do. I’m pretty sure that my experience isn’t that unusual. I don’t think I was suffering from postnatal depression but I declined to fill in the health visitor’s questionnaire so I don’t know, and when anyone asked I told them we were doing fine. I am one of the lucky ones but, bloody hell, being a new parent is hard. I do know that I couldn’t have got through any of it without my amazing husband. Whenever I was crying he would reassure me, listen to me, do anything he could to help. And when he couldn’t help or I didn’t even know why I was crying he would just hold me until the tears stopped. And I know he’ll always be there to hold me whenever I need him to.

So this blog is really for him. To say thank you – I couldn’t do it without you baby.

For anyone who is reading this who has ever felt the way I have, I really hope you too have someone who can give you the support you need.