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Single motherhood by choice | Wear those.. by Single Motherhood By Choice - 2M ago

I don’t call myself a blogger any more, not that I was ever particularly diligent, but I thought I would check in, as I like to hear how everyone else is getting on. Hello!

My boy was three last month! Cliché cliché cliché but time fairly zips along.

What kind of a boy have we got? He’s very smart, very confident (which I love, as I was shy and quiet, though few people want an obnoxiously over-confident child either) and pretty strong willed, to do partly with his nature and partly with his age. His insistence on picking out the exact biscuit he wants (generally from the bottom of the pack), for example, could be about the control a three-year-old wants to exert on his environment or simply him being a pain – either way, it’s a little tedious but hopefully will pass.

Although his speech is phenomenal, helped by his great memory, he still doesn’t say his “s” sounds properly, sticking his tongue between his teeth. I’m not sure at what stage I should think about addressing this. I find this lisp very cute and don’t want to make an issue out of it, but at the same time it would better if he didn’t have a lisp at 14. I think we’re due a developmental check around 3 so will ask.

He’s got a great imagination and loves acting out ideas. Someone gave us the fabulous Frog and Toad books by Alfred Lobel last year and we went through a phase of reading them all a few months ago. One day, out of nowhere, he said “This is my sad time of day,” which flummoxed me until I realised he was being Toad in one of the stories. So we went through the whole story in character, with me as Frog and him remembering Toad’s lines. He hides under the bedcovers and pretends he can hear scary noises until we count to 10 (or another number of his choosing, ahem) and, like Mister Jelly, realise it was nothing to be frightened of. I find this fascinating, as I don’t think I was remotely inventive like this as a kid. I haven’t got any TV channels hooked up yet, so we’ve just got Netflix and YouTube. He enjoys programmes like Ben and Holly and Max and Ruby but we’re not watching much TV, which is no bad thing.

I get “I love you, Mammy” a dozen times a day, which obviously melts my heart, though sometimes I suspect he’s sneakily doing it to divert attention or change the subject. I’ll still take it though. I wonder of course if he would be more rambunctious and less gentle with (male) siblings and a dad, but we’ll never know.

He’s still fascinated by sandpits, sticks and stones, which is handy, as we now live by the sea. And honestly, when we’re out walking on the beach collecting stones, I sometimes cannot believe how lucky I am at how things have worked out. After his annual heart checkup in November, I was copied on a letter to my GP about his condition, a “severe” case of aortic valve stenosis. We are so, so lucky this was picked up and corrected before we left the maternity hospital. I find it hard to think of kids in other countries who haven’t had the same opportunity. I don’t know if he would have died but he would have been very sickly indeed without intervention.

Things are going well at the crèche we moved to in September. I had been worried that he wasn’t interacting with the other kids, but that’s all worked itself out. I think he was finding it hard to engage because he was one of the youngest in his group and their communication skills were a lot better, so he was just drifting along pleasing himself. He’s settled in now and there’s a budding bromance with the largest boy in the class, who has been known to thump the odd kid now and then but seems to be settling down.

I think I’ve mentioned before how my boy gravitates towards males. For example, he idolises his 9-year-old cousin and was star struck when his class got its first male teacher. If my aunt and uncle visit, he’s only interested in my uncle. I don’t know if this is because he doesn’t have a father or is just a young boy thing. Similarly, I wonder why he chose the oldest boy in the class to be his bestie after weeks of complaining how this guy has been pushing people around. But we probably overthink these things, and basically I think he’s a very happy little boy at the moment.

We moved house in January at last, having started renovations on our wreck the previous April. A week after we moved, my Dad was transferred to a hospice after a Christmas diagnosis of cancer, on top of all of his other health problems. And a week later, he died. So the first few months of the year were pretty intense.

Trying to explain death to a three-year-old is hard. It actually helped that the guinea pig in his crèche had died over Christmas after getting untreatable pneumonia: I was able to explain that the doctors couldn’t get the right medicine for Grandad any more and couldn’t make him better. My little boy doesn’t really get it though, and seems to think my Dad is stuck in the hospital. Logical really because his Grandad had spent a good portion of his last 18 months going in and out of hospital but always came back.

My Dad was a very important male role model, so it’s tough on the little man, though he’s not upset in the way we are. We had a comedy moment last week when he mentioned “When Grandad comes back” and then dissolved into tears when I reminded him Grandad wasn’t coming back. “What’s wrong?” I gently asked, ready to yet again broach the subject of death. “You put the bread in the wrong side of the toaster!” So, not that upset then…

Oh and – dum dum dum! – we had the first mention of “Daddy” not long after he turned three. Arriving at crèche, maybe because some Dads were dropping their kids off, he said “We don’t have a daddy.” I liked that he didn’t say “I don’t have a daddy.” So I threw out my prepared line about some families having a mam and dad, some having just a mam, some having two mammies and so on. Then, that evening he piped up with “I don’t have a daddy.” So I explained again that “our family” doesn’t have a daddy. This is a milestone, as I’ve been waiting for this question more or less since he was born.

I’m not sure where it came from but am glad he asked. We had tried to read the Donor Conception Network book on this topic a while ago, but it went into more detail than I wanted at the time. I haven’t gone into the whole “Mammy needed sperm for her egg” thing yet because I don’t think he’s interested, though I can see the argument for doing it now before everyone gets embarrassed.

Basically, we’re all good! I will try not to leave it another six months before checking in again…

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2.5
Single motherhood by choice | Wear those.. by Single Motherhood By Choice - 9M ago

I’m a rubbish blogger, not just because of other priorities but also because no one is interested in yet another parenting blog, and most of the time life for us is the same as it is for all families.

Anyway, as of the last couple of months, my boy now sleeps all night! I feel like a right idiot because it has taken so long and was relatively easy to sort out: I stopped offering him the bottle when he woke and asked for it, and after a couple of nights he was fine with this. I only did it because my hand was forced after he bit holes in all his bottles’ teats and I refused to buy new ones for an almost 2.5-year-old, embarrassing. So now he’s off bottles completely and I get a fairly decent night’s sleep after a long 2.5 years, bar the interruptions from about 5.30am after he throws himself from the cot into my bed and kicks my face, stomach, back, snarling when he can’t snuggle into the right position… I should have done this a year and a half ago, if not earlier. If I had another child, I would be a lot more regimented, I think.

I would truly love a sibling for him but it’s not on the cards for many reasons. I feel we tempted fate with both my borderline pre-eclampsia and late-onset blood pressure problems last time, which I think would be a lot worse in a second pregnancy, and his heart condition, which we were so lucky to sort out before he was even two weeks old. Plus my eggs are getting on and incurring the expenses of another round of fertility treatment would not be the most sensible course of action at this stage. However, I feel an ache when I see tiny babies and I feel very sorry that he is on his own. The only solace is the possibility that a man with kids may be in the future, who knows. And of course I am very, very lucky to have my boy here in the first place.

He turned 2.5 this month and is such a smart boy. Current TV loves are Abney and Teal, Thomas the Tank Engine, and still Duggie, Tee and Mo, and Peppa. Plus some old nostalgia faves from the 1970s that I was brought up on, Mr Men, Mr Benn and Bagpuss. He didn’t take to Bod, another oldie. I didn’t realise as a small child quite how subversive Mr Benn was – antihunting, anticapitalist and definitely on the side of the underdog. And the music in those old BBC programmes was so good. We’ve so far avoided the whole smartphone thing, and I’m staving that off for as long as possible. Not having older siblings helps.

We started a new crèche in September, as we’re moving house soon, and he is not loving it yet but getting there. The school’s ethos is to encourage the kids to pursue what they’re interested in, which is fine but with a very strong-willed boy like mine runs the risk that he’ll just spend all day playing by himself in the sandpit. This only child needs to interact with other kids, which he was doing in his last crèche, so we will have to work on this. I also want him to have respect for his teachers and to do as he’s told, at least most of the time, or we’ll have a nightmare on our hands.

He has my immune system for sure. Since starting his first crèche in October 2017, he’s only missed 2.5 days, and two of those were because he had been slightly off colour the night before and I decided to keep him at home. I think he’s only vomited on two occasions, one of which was just because he wouldn’t stop making himself cough. I feel very lucky in this respect, as I haven’t had to endure the stresses of not being able to work when he’s unexpectedly at home. If I don’t work, we don’t make any money.

We have our next checkup at the children’s hospital in November to make sure everything is still okay with the aortic valve stenosis, but he seems fine. Fingers crossed.

His speech is really incredible, full sentences with lots of little nuances like “either” and “yet” thrown in. Sentences like “I goed to the shop to buy sweet and juicy strawberries” will never get old. He can’t pronounce his s’s very well, so can sometimes be a little hard to understand, but he’s having proper conversations and able to communicate most things, which stops him getting too frustrated. We don’t have many tantrums, and when he does throw himself on the ground everyone just laughs at him and he stops pretty sharpish.

This boy’s memory is phenomenal and in such great contrast to my sleep-deprivation-destroyed 45-year-old brain. He seems to only need to be told something once to remember it, and his visual memory is way better than mine. He will remember a TV episode he hasn’t seen for months from the first frame, which I definitely wouldn’t, and recalls exact episode names even if he doesn’t understand what they mean. Oh too have a memory like that.

And he’s definitely a man, as he’s already criticising my driving. “Mammy!” (outraged), “you take hand off steering wheel!” Oh dear.

Mr Benn - Red Knight Full Episode - YouTube
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Single motherhood by choice by Single Motherhood By Choice - 2y ago

You know when you’ve had pain or discomfort for a long time and you suddenly realise it’s not there any more? A bit like constant noise in the background that disappears without you noticing. That’s what has happened in the last few weeks. My fingers are often a bit sore after I wake up and my feet a bit creaky but, by and large, it’s slowly dawned that my body feels more or less back to normal.

I mentioned the last time that post-partum arthralgia might be caused by the hormone relaxin. It occurred to me recently that my sister had symphysis pubis dysfunction, also caused by relaxin, with her first pregnancy and ended up in terrible pain and on crutches as a result. I wonder if there’s a connection.

Whatever the cause, thank the universe it’s almost gone. My boy is 10.5 months old, so it’s taken bleedin’ long enough. How lucky we are not to live with pain, most of us.


Filed under: pregnancy, single mother by choice Tagged: post-partum arthralgia, symphysis pubis dysfunction
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