Thursday, 27 July 2017

Time for sleep

He lies beside me, fighting the sleep he so longed for an hour ago.

Restless hands half-forming words and letters, he brings the shapes closer to his eyes.

Babbling, learning, always working.

His brother is asleep already, and I have important things to do.

I could be using this time for a dozen other things.

I quell the annoyance that attempts to rise, pull him closer into a cuddle.

His hair is silk upon my cheek, his breath is warm and sweet in that sanctuary between my neck and shoulder.

He's humming now, softly. Though he can no longer hear it, he finds the action soothing. He's almost in the land of nod.

The sweet sound wakes his brother, whose indignant cries go unheard by their provoker.

Gently, I move my arms from one embrace to another.

The comfort in my arms returns sleep to the smallest. Both are peaceful now, slow breaths rising and eyelashes resting on cherubic faces.

Yes, I have important things to do. Right here.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Breakdowns and breakthroughs

Let's start with the bad news. The repeated kicks to my face as I tried to put on Little One's 'ears' this morning. The missing elf slipper which was the ONLY acceptable form of clothing today. The tears when he discovered a hole in his eventual compromise of an Iron Man costume. That sickening feeling of physically wrestling a distraught child into a carseat and simply closing the door on his cries. The shame of snapping at the older kids for no better reason than frustration. The moment, as you leave the driveway 11 minutes after school started when you seriously consider just taking everyone back inside and refusing to deal with this nonsense. Some days are just crap.

Somehow, we got to school. Somehow, everyone walked into their school with a hug and a smile. Somehow, not 10 minutes later, Littlest had me smiling with pride as he charged round the local shop asking for things to be made to go 'beep pweeeeeease!'. We made it to naptime, and I sat under the weight of his slumber and just took a breath. Some days are ok.

And then we collected Little One from school. He'd had another great day in there, and had even elected to change into 'normal' clothes mid-morning. Where was that can-do attitude this morning, kiddo? At home it was time for a bottle. 'Bottle please?' I signed and spoke. 'Gawka geeee!' he repeated as he signed along. His first ever two word sentence. After many, many kisses of praise, I made his bottle. Now he wanted to be carried to the couch where he could drink it. Again I paired the words with their sounds, not expecting to elicit much reaction now. 'Up, Mammy? Up! Mammy' and my heart stopped as he used the sign and the word for the first time. 'Mama. Puh! Mamama'. And I squealed, and I lifted him as up as I possibly can, held him high as I danced round the kitchen laughing and singing 'Come on up to Maaaammmmy, come on UP to Maaaaaammmmyyyy!'
And what did he do next? Why, the little chancer shushed me! Apparently my singing is not to his discerning tastes.
Some days are just amazing.

And that's life with additional needs. It's very much like the Irish weather in its ability to change frequently and without warning. I just need to keep practicing dancing in the rain.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

One day...

Last weekend, we went on An Outing. Not an unusual way for us to spend a Sunday afternoon, but for lots of little reasons it didn't go as seamlessly as other days out.
Little One was tired and wanted to be carried, Littlest was tired and did NOT want to be carried. A walk through the fairy woods kept everyone fairly well entertained and then it was time to take in a birds of prey flight display. While the older three were impressed, Littlest was uninterested and spent his time counting and running and - unfortunately - squealing his annoyance. As it turns out, birds of prey are not all that keen on the sound of a shrieking toddler. Neither were those members of the audience unrelated to us. While we managed to make our escape pretty unscathed, as we drove home trying to keep everyone awake it was easy to think longingly of how days like that will get easier soon. After all, Littlest is turning two this week, these are exciting times!

One day, we won't need to bring buggies and slings everywhere we go.
One day, there will be no more nappies to wash. No high-chair taking up floor space in the kitchen. There'll be no crusts of toast discarded carelessly, no noses wiped on shoulders. We won't have to worry about an ill-timed 20 minute car snooze.

One day, I'll be able to cook dinner without calling out spellings over my shoulder. I will make plans with friends, and be able to keep them. I'll use the bathroom alone.

One day, they'll forget to kiss me goodbye at the school gates.
One day, they'll refuse a kiss intentionally.

One day, my nonsense songs will be met with rolled eyes instead of applause. They will realise that actually, I was never cool.
One day, they'll pack a bag for college and my heart will shatter with pride and sorrow.

One day, they'll really mean to phone but by the time they get home after work and meeting friends, it will be too late to risk waking us up.

Some days, it feels hard for us to be so urgently needed by these four interesting people who we are watching grow up. Some days, I realise that their burgeoning independence will be even harder to deal with.
One day, but not yet.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Behind the scenes

Today I shared this photo of my smallies.
They're gorgeous, right?

And very clearly angelic.

This is them playing (really well actually) a new listening game for Little One. He can only take a jump forward on hopscotch when he hears the jingly bells. He caught on to the idea immediately, and even responded to some fairly quiet jingles before deciding it would be much more fun to park Mammy at the beginning and boss HER around with the bells, ringing them so rapidly I ended up quite out of breath!

Fun and learning all sorted here.  Perfect.
Because we are quite the perfect little family. The pictures speak for themselves!

Of course, while I was distracted taping up the floor, Little One was doing his own learning. He demonstrated an incredible ability to transfer water using a sponge, the bathroom sink and, well, the water from the toilet.

Because real life isn't perfect, and neither are real people.

Today Little One got another glowing preschool report. Practically perfect in every way.
He celebrated this by having quite the series of wobblers about the injustice of having to wear clothes in public and running amok in the muck.

This afternoon I asked the children 'Would you like to make some chocolate chip cookies with me?', resulting in much excitement. This afternoon I also asked the children 'Would you EVER get your shoes and schoolbags OFF the hall floor before someone breaks their BLOODY NECK?!', resulting in downturned mouths and faces but also a safer hall floor.

I am dishevelled, muck-spattered, mostly smiling but also practicing calming breathing techniques more than I might like.

And that's why we parents share the 'perfect' pictures. Standing in the messiest corner of the room so as to hide the debris. Because no one remembers to click their camera while counting to ten. And because of course we want to remember the best bits, we've earned them!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Just the right juxtaposition

I'm not going to get into the Stay-at-Work vs Stay-at-Home parenting debate.

There are no winners, only losers, when people on either side of the argument start focusing only on the negatives in order to prove they are actually the ones who work harder, longer, more.

But every once in a while, through some fortuitous alignment of events, life presents you with the perfect contrast of our different lives.

Earlier today, Hubby texted me to let me know that his very important presentation had gone extremely well.
In reply, I texted him a picture of one of our darling offspring peeing against a neighbour's garden wall.

I don't think there's any real way to tell whose day has been more successful, but I'm fairly certain we've both earned a glass of wine this evening!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

A little boy

There is a little boy living in my house.

He seems to have sneaked in, unnoticed.
Perhaps he arrived while I was hanging out another load of washing?
Or reading one more page with my daughter.

He may have seen an opportunity while I chopped vegetables for dinner,
And shown up then.

So many little distractions to fill the day, each of them a chance for a small boy to appear from nowhere and demand a biscuit from the press.

Or maybe, just maybe, it was while I nursed the baby.
While his soft cheek nestled close to me.
Those are the moments I was most distracted,
Lost in the amazement of his perfect little form,
His eyes meeting mine contentedly.

He reminds me of the baby, this little boy who is always in a hurry.
That particular knack for teasing smiles from my lips,
The dramatic shouts to be noticed by everyone present,
Those giant eyes sharing the wonder of a world still fresh.

The baby's gummy smiles are gone now. No more the sweet smell of a velvet-soft head.
The hollow of my shoulder lies empty, and floors are unpaced and still.

The little boy shares cuddles with me, 'Hug! Hug!' when he has a moment to stand still.
He seeks my applause to join his own when he has completed his latest daring feat.
He is funny, and cheeky and endlessly entertaining.
But sometimes I still dream of the baby's snuggles.

Ok, little boy, let's go have fun.
But please try not to be in SUCH a hurry, Mammy's trying to catch up.

Friday, 4 November 2016

A touch of genius

A couple of weeks ago, something strange happened.
I changed Littlest's nappy. You may not think that should be so unusual, but the fact that I had done so at his explicit request seemed a little odd. I mean, he wasn't even 17 months old, and he HATES nappy changes. Surely I had just imagined his communicated request?

Then the next day, he asked again. 'Really, sweetie? You want Mammy to change your nappy?'
Some vehement nodding indicated that I had deciphered his intentions correctly.

Huh. What a clever kid. He'd be potty trained before he could walk!
I mean, clearly I had a genius on my hands here. I tried to get him to fill in a MENSA application, but he insisted on attempting to eat the paper. Ah. No new understanding of the laws of physics from this kid then.

Hmm. Perhaps the new liners in his nappies were causing discomfort? But his skin was as smooth as the proverbial baby's bottom and he was perfectly content in a freshly lined nappy.

That was it. I was out of ideas. Maybe he's just bossy?

It took me another day, and another clue, to work it out. (No, MENSA isn't waiting on my paperwork either!)

He pointed to his nappy, then escorted me to the changing table.
'Is it nappy changing time? Yes?'
A fresh round of nodding, and now, some clicking.
'Oh! Click-click, here doggie! Don't worry, Mammy won't forget to wake up the doggie in the cuckoo clock on the way past'
'Bwuf Bwuf!'
'That's right, the doggie will say "woof woof", you're so clever'.

And it hit me. He is so clever. Clever enough to know that getting his nappy changed means calling the doggie to come out of the cuckoo clock and barking with him. Totally worth the cold breeze and indignity of the changing table.

I love that my kids are smart enough to outsmart me. But couldn't they at least wait till age 2 to do it?!