Past

 

I hear people say a lot that older generations can’t understand what it’s like to parent these days. As though the demands on modern parents are more arduous than they once were. I’m likely to murmur a nothing response, not confirming or denying anything. Because I don’t like rocking any boats (I’m working on that) and because I genuinely don’t know where I stand on this one.

Parents from generations past had lives which don’t reflect ours at all. Their time was spent differently, their jobs were different, families were different, expectations were different, social norms were different.

But does that mean they had it easier? (and as a sidenote, what does it matter?)

I have a dishwasher and washing machine. I have our weekly shop delivered to my front door. I have a car I can use whenever I need. Our house is warm and well furnished and there is plenty of room for us all. My kids have toys and books and stuff we struggle to contain. They have plenty of clothes and we have the means to replace them whenever it’s needed. They also have a plethora of specialist kit for the various activities they do - and go to after school activities regularly.

Whenever I pick up a magazine or scroll Instagram or watch TV I’m met with commentary on parenting ‘styles’. There are trendy toys and clothes which are sold as ‘must haves’ for the modern family. There is endless advice on what foods you should offer your kids and what you shouldn’t. What you should do if your child is a ‘picky eater’ ( what is a picky eater?). Perhaps your child has an intolerance or should you be raising vegetarians or vegans?

There are hints and tips about how to help your child be more confident and resilient and articles suggesting that their mental health well into adulthood will be solely based on how you interact with them right now. Various illnesses you should be vigilant about and on the lookout for at all times. Alarm bells should ring if your child exhibits a long list of behaviours. There is so much chatter about providing ‘experiences’ where your children will be enriched, educated not to mention enthralled.

There are screentime ‘guidelines’ which range from absolutely none to as much as you like. There are those who tout the ‘no electronics’ route and those who think you need to keep your children well versed in the latest technology. Should your child only play with wooden toys, second hand toys, brand new toys, gender specific toys (pink for girls, blue for boys), gender neutral toys, open ended toys?

In generations past children were often raised by the ‘village’. Family members, neighbours, friends all taking collective responsibility for keeping an eye on the kids. Everyone’s kids. This structure just doesn’t exist any more. The village is geographically spread out, people are working, it’s just not the done thing anymore.

Do your kids play outside with their friends unsupervised? I know I did, and I know my Dad did and I’m sure my grandparents kid. My kids do not.

Life is so different now than it was 20, 30, 40 years ago. Parents today have a lot of things to think about, even if it’s just to decide that the latest fad or trend isn’t for them. Advice or guidance from professionals in a multitude of areas will always carry weight for lots of us. And the thoughts and words of those closest to us will affect our choices and actions.

My thoughts on this started last week whilst we were walking in the country park. The kids were alternating between walking along holding my hand and running off to discover sticks and mud and other people’s dogs. And I thought that this part of parenting hasn’t changed. It links me with human beings stretching right back to the dawn of man. Holding your child’s hand for comfort, safety, familiarity, to communicate affection and caring. Watching them get dirty and explore. Listening to their chatter. Thinking ahead to when they’ll get too cold and too hungry to keep enjoying this moment.

Meeting and speaking to people older than me, talking about family and children almost always happens. It’s the common link we all share, they just get it. And I feel uplifted by that understanding.

What are your thoughts? Do you have it easier or more difficult than your parents did? Do we make life difficult for our selves? What advice are you likely to pass on to your kids if they have kids?

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Voices


“Last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.”

T.S Eliot

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It’s considered a bit trite to wheel out a well oiled quote when you’re stuck for words. Handy though.

Despite the fact I haven’t blogged regularly for a very long time, I still can’t let it go. Can’t put it to bed and close this chapter. I can’t go back and read old posts regularly because I can’t stand the sound of my own words, or voice but that’s a different matter.

At 38 and a half I feel as far away from 31 year old me as I do from 16 year old me or 8 year old me.

When I started recording words here I was a mum of one. I was in my early thirties. I had far fewer lines and less grey hair. However, I’m sure to the average casual observer I probably seem exactly the same. My job is the same, we live in the same (enlarged) house. I’m married to the same man, like lots of the same things, do lots of the same things.

But I’m definitely not unaltered. I haven’t faced any great challenges, made any great changes or achievements. Yet somehow as the (sometimes very long) days have passed and turned into years I’ve changed so much that I feel squirmy and uncomfortable about those published words. I don’t agree with so much of what I thought then. I know better now, and who’s to say I won’t have completely changed my mind in another ten years?

Not that any of this is a bad thing. If we stay the same surely that’s worse? To make up your mind about anything and remain staunch in that belief despite evidence to the contrary? I’m glad my world has opened up further through what I’ve read, investigated, heard, discussed and experienced. That ‘staying home’ with my children has opened doors for me which remained firmly shut before. A reminder that feeling ‘stuck’ is just that. A feeling, a state of mind.

And for the first time in my adult life I’m starting the ‘new year’ with the old me. I’m not making plans to overhaul myself inside and out. It never works and more importantly there’s really no need. The old me is fine, she’s got me this far after all. I used to feel a rising sense of panic, a sense that time is running out. That I haven’t done enough, or more accurately that I’m not enough.

Piffle.

I’m enough, you’re enough.

I would make a promise to blog more regularly but that wouldn’t be in the spirit of acceptance of the fact I’m doing my best. I’m doing what I can to get where I need to be. I might like to write it down so I can cringe reading it back several years later.

Or I might not.

Have a fabulous Hogmanay, squeeze your loved ones if you can. See you on the other side.

Tenacious G

I blogged Grier’s birthday celebration but it’s tradition for me to record a few words here about the kids as their birthdays roll around. It’s been keeping me awake at night that I haven’t shared Grier at seven. Traditions are important after all. Even ones made up by me.

So my sweet girl is seven. She is still 90% sunshine and 10% steel. She often asks us what she was like as a toddler. And we tell her she was wild and funny and cuddly and most of all that her favourite words were always -

‘Do it self’

And she hasn’t changed a bit. She will persevere with anything for way longer than most of the rest. She will find a better way, a smarter way and a more creative way to do pretty much anything. She seems to thrive on the challenge and the longer it takes to do something the more satisfaction she gains from doing it. I love this so much about you Grier.

Grier sees patterns everywhere. Taking note of the colour of everything she sees and adding it to visual database which seems to exist in her brain, like rows upon rows of Crayola crayons. The steady stream of things she’s built, crafted and designed continues. She loves to dance freely to music and sings with abandon often.

She still seems so small when I hold her little, delicate hand. But when she sits on my knee she has to fold her suddenly lengthy limbs around her body to fit in the space. And she does still sit on my knee for which I am very grateful. She’s somewhere in the in between and it’s spectacularly beautiful.

Until next year Grier, grow and grow and grow. And always ‘do it self’. Unless you need help in which case I will do whatever it takes, okay?

Love you.


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Galaday 2018

This year was Baxter’s first Galaday!

He’d only been going to our local school nursery for 2 days but that qualified him to take part on the school float and he wasn’t missing that chance for anything! I made Grier’s costume during the summer holidays and Baxter’s was cobbled together from things we already had at home but he was delighted. Brodie skipped the dressing up this year as he wasn’t interested in the theme. People always like to have a good moan about the Galaday but I love it. The kids really get into it, it’s part of our local heritage and if you don’t like it do something about it people!

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Walking alongside the float is a dangerous business though, getting pelted in the head with flying sweeties is just part of the experience!


Seven

A week after her appendectomy Grier turned 7!

We went ahead with her birthday party as planned. A picnic party in the park where we made nature crowns, did a scavenger hunt to find treasure and played hide and seek. A good reflection of Grier at 7 - crafts. being outside, friends and letting loose.

Having been in the hospital the week before didn’t help with the usual bittersweet feelings birthdays bring up. This vibrant, effervescent, wonderful child contrasted with the fragile, poorly and exceptionally brave one. Of course they are all parts of the same magnificent little girl.



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And when you wake up on your seventh birthday it’s best to open your presents then be presented with pancakes with sprinkles and a unicorn candle. Duh.

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I’m not going to lie, I was delighted when Grier chose this simple elephant cake as the one she wanted me to recreate from a book she has. Just cake and simple meringue buttercream and no complicated decorations. Thanks BellaBoo! She didn’t even object when Baxter insisted on adding a whole barrage of random candles to the original design.

Loved celebrating this SuperStar (TM)