Not Now Hmmm Yes Very Good

This was a post about being a “not now” mum. You know, like the mum and dad in Not Now Bernard. It was about how Tom got that book for his second birthday and I vowed never to be the kind of parent who says “not now” but about how it’s really hard not to do that when you’ve just got so much to do. Sometimes, I’m a “not now” mum, a “hmm” mum and a “yes, very good” mum.

In the post, I wrote about how Tom had been to see Oliver with his Auntie.

“Was it good?” I yawned the next morning, swinging my legs out of bed and scanning the floor for something passable to wear. The cat mounted my shoulders and yowled in my ear.

“Yes it was ace. But Bill Sykes killed a Nazi.”

“Good,” I said.

Hang on, I thought, shrugging off the cat, Dickens wasn’t around in World War II. And I’m not supposed to say ‘good’ about murder, of anyone.

“WHAT?!” I said, at exactly the same time Tom said “GOOD?!”

“It was Nancy. Bill Sykes killed Nancy. Got a bit mixed up there, Mum.”

Anyway, there was more in the original version of this post, about how I think our brains only have the capacity to think about a certain amount of things at once, so when your brain’s going: ‘Work, dinner money, uniform, shin pads, Beavers, friends, birthday presents, food shop, swimming, bills, cat  litter, book writing, hoovering, reading record, swimming, nits, school plays, washing up, Egypt fancy dress, cobwebs, drama club, no toilet roll, bedtime story, dirty pots…’ it can be difficult not to go “hmmm” when your child asks you how many grains of sand there are on a beach, or if a zillion is really a number, or if Edwin Starr is still alive, or what colours are on the flag for Luxembourg.

Christ knows how people manage with more than one.

The post said all of this, but then I managed to delete it right after posting it and then it was Monday and it was work and school and hobbies and I didn’t have a chance to write it again. I can’t remember how it went, but the main thing was the ending…

Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote Sunshine on a Sofa Day to try to win us a Thomson Al Fresco holiday? Well, it worked, I won! Come summer, thanks to Al Fresco and Tots100 Tom and I are off to a beautiful beach in the South of France. One week, just the two of us, no “not nows”, no “hmms”, no “yes very goods.” We can’t wait. We’re going to have a brilliant time. I’m really looking forward to relaxing by the sea and giving Tom my complete and undivided attention. (But I’m not counting grains of sand.)

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3 responses to “Not Now Hmmm Yes Very Good

  1. I’m very jealous of your holiday. I have two children and it is a total juggling nightmare some of the time. I spend a lot of time saying “Mummy will come and build a tower when I’ve cleared up… and cleaned the high chair… and put the washing on… and finished making a cup of tea… yes, then I will definitely come and make a tower.” Firstly, a two-year-old can’t really cope with such a long list of things to do before I play with her, so she keeps saying “tower, Mummy?”, which to me sounds a lot like “shower, Mummy?”. And secondly, she usually does a poo in the potty while I’m finishing tidying up after lunch, so that’s another distraction.

    Also, she spends a lot of time asking for hugs, particularly while I’m trying to make dinner. I appreciate that she’s feeling insecure because her dad left recently, but it also makes it bloody hard to do anything. I feel incredibly bad trying to put off a hug for my toddler but I really do need to cook dinner.

    And the poor baby… I’m used to responding instantly to my toddler’s requests as I was mostly able to when I just had her. I’m more used to making my baby wait for things. And my toddler’s requests often feel like an conscious emotional need, whereas the baby’s are less so. I feel incredibly sad for my baby sometimes that she has to wait so often for so many things. I’m having a dispute with my neighbours at the moment, which I’m going to write a post about soon, where I threatened to call the council or the police if they banged on the wall again when my baby was crying, and they counter-threatened to ring social services as I was clearly ignoring my baby crying. Honestly, if I didn’t ignore the crying a little bit, we would never leave the house.

    • Emily

      Keep up the good work. I have no idea how hard it must be with more than one. Have you heard of Homestart? I’m not sure if it’s still going what with all these cuts but it was a godsend for me when mine was a baby – once a week, a brilliant lady would come round and look after him while I had a bath, or take us both to the park in her car for a walk and some fresh air.
      Your dispute with the neighbours sounds awful. I hope things get better for you soon. Something like Homestart could really help you out. It’s not all the time, but it’s something. I used to hate it when people suggested I get some help, but swallowing your pride and what comes next can sometimes make you feel a bit better. Good luck xx

      • I have a Home Start volunteer. She comes once a week and she’s amazing – she plays with my children for a few hours while I do whatever I want (usually housework, so not *actually* whatever I want) and makes this seem very normal and natural. It’s almost literally a life-saver. What I would like though, is someone to come in every day while I’m putting the children to bed and just clear up the kitchen for me. And someone to be there at 3 am when they’re both crying. Someone else to share the responsibility. Someone to let me have a lie-in sometimes. Someone to do all those things my husband should be doing…

        Having two is a challenge, but I love it. I hated having just one when she was a baby – it was so boring – but they are so funny together, even at this age, and I can appreciate my baby much more this time round, and I have my toddler to keep me entertained. I do know a few other single parents, nearly all of whom have just one child, and I do feel that it’s different. It feels like there’s a more complex dynamic with one adult and two children than one adult and one child, and obviously the logistics of lugging two children and all their stuff around is much harder. Emotionally it’s hard because I just can’t meet their needs and I spend a lot of time with at least one of them crying. But I think I am a happier *parent* as a single parent to two than I was as a non-single parent to one.

        I’m not very good at asking for help but I have no shame in admitting I need it – I’m surprised I don’t need more really.

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