Week 47 – climbing

The order in which children achieve their various milestones isn’t something I’ve paid much attention to. All the professionals say that each child is different, so I’ve avoided the milestone lists to prevent myself putting undue pressure on Reindeer to do things in a particular order when he isn’t ready for that.

It occurred to me this afternoon that checking the lists might not be such a bad idea. The reason for this checking? Turning around this afternoon to find Reindeer standing on top of his toy garage.

He’d somehow managed to support himself on another toy and pull his feet up so he was standing on the garage. I was both impressed at this new skill and terrified that the house might not be ready for a climbing child. It was this left me mortified I hadn’t checked the list because, if I had, I’d’ve been waiting for this.

Not one to let the grass grow, Reindeer immediately attempted to practice this fledgling skill by climbing the stairs. I decided to let him try (he won’t learn otherwise) but followed immediately behind him for safety. I, thankfully, wasn’t needed. He also made it to the top with very few distractions, which was a surprise.

I’m not sure what to expect next, or even when, but I will definitely be growing eyes in the back of my head!

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Week 47 – a tough week

The results of the referendum have turned our life upside down. The society we thought we were bringing our son up in no longer exists and the evidence of the last few days suggests the one we’re going to be left with is incompatible with our values.

As if this stress wasn’t enough we have to reconsider everything from how to keep my husband’s business going to whether we need to move to a country whose values are closer to our own. For those who haven’t guessed, our son is dual heritage. The sudden surge in racist incidents across the country has added a layer of fear I’ve never felt before. Thankfully, we’ve been spared any hostility so far.

In the midst of all this, Reindeer became poorly on Friday night. He awoke at ten, burning hot all over and shaking. We dialed 111 and were directed to the out of hours GP. An ear infection was diagnosed and we were sent home with antibiotics and painkillers.

The medication seems to be working, although Reindeer has been very variable mood-wise since. I’m not sure if it’s because he feels unwell or if we’ve just reached that part of development where he’s beginning to carve out some independence.

For almost 11-months I’ve cuddled him to sleep every night. For the last couple of nights he’s gotten himself to sleep without me. When we were new parents and the sleep deprivation was at its worst, I looked forward to not needing to walk him around whilst exhausted myself. Now I actually feel devastated that he doesn’t need our shared cuddle as much any more.

This is probably the first of many occasions when I’m going to feel unhappily redundant, even though it means we’re doing the right thing as he feels confident and content enough in himself to become more independent.

Random Rambling – a letter to Reindeer

Dear Reindeer,

At the moment you are sleeping soundly, blissfully unaware that tomorrow is a historic day for the UK. Once you’ve finished your breakfast in the morning, your Dad and I will be taking you with us as we cast our votes in the referendum on EU membership.

Don’t be fooled by the term ‘historic’ though. The classic use is to describe a historic victory, but remember that to others that same day was a historic defeat. Over the last months passions have been running high. Recently, this has meant a lot of insults flying about as supporters of each stance dig in ahead of the referendum.

The question of whether to stay or go is complex – economics, social responsibility, justice, immigration and climate are just some of the battlegrounds of the debate.

Whilst the ballot is secret I’ve decided to post my reasoning and decision here so that you can read it for yourself one day as, whatever the outcome, it will have implications for you and all your generation.

My first reason to remain is simply that I love being a part of Europe. Having easy access to travel and meet so many people, experience so many cultures, hear and attempt so many languages is a great gift. I’ve visited many European countries and enjoyed each one. There is always something new to explore and to inspire. You will find that we have adopted some of the customs we’ve learned about here at home! We have family who have moved to Northern Europe and spent happy holidays visiting them and spending time exploring their new country. Over the years we’ve worked, studied, socialised and made friends with people from the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Lithuania. This would not have been so easy were we not part of EU and I would very much miss the openness we currently enjoy.

Secondly, I appreciate the value the EU places on equality, especially for women and families. Today I have emailed my employer requesting a career break so I can spend more time with you. Things like paid maternity, paternity and parental leave, adoption leave, career breaks for caring responsibilities, national minimum wage, equal pay for both genders and protection from discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, ability/disability, age or marital status are all part of the EU ethos. Given the disgruntlement of some UK politicians and citizens, we might never have had these things were we not in Europe.

My third reason is a business one. Your Dad currently runs his own small business. One third of his business is with Europe. Being within the EU allows his business to compete on a level playing playing field. Leaving the EU is likely to increase costs and make it much harder to trade with customers still in the EU. Your Dad has put so much work into starting his business it would be awful to see it fade due to the UK stepping back.

The fourth reason I have is around tolerance and respect. The topic of immigration has been synonymous with the referendum. Many in the Leave campaign want to close our borders to refugees and economic migrants as Europe is currently experiencing the biggest influx of refugees since World War Two. Refugees are coming here because our governments have decided to bomb their countries in the misguided belief this will create peace. Others want to come here because they have few prospects and little hope at home. One joke doing the rounds is of Schrödinger’s immigrant who simultaneously steals your job whilst living on benefits and not working. It isn’t funny but it does highlight the absurd position taken by Leave. I won’t go into the arguments here (you can research those yourself!), but I will say that the NHS couldn’t function without doctors, nurses and support staff coming to the UK from abroad. The NHS is amazing and I’d hate to see it deteriorate as a result of xenophobic policy. Whilst I’m not blind to the concerns and difficulties of a (potentially) rapidly rising population, I’m well aware that many opponents of migration speak with hatred. Unfortunately the far right is gaining popularity across Europe. Their belief in superiority based on skin colour and religious belief is both absurd and dangerous. I fear for you should their hatred continue to spread. My feeling is that if we close ourselves off we’re not only ignoring the very human consequences of our governments decisions, we’re also missing the potential and the variety that other people can offer. Staying in should help us to keep our minds open, this is essential if bigotry and hatred are to be overcome. I’m sorry to say it but several of the politicians surrounding the Leave campaign hold some very unpleasant views and I cannot possibly condone those by voting to leave.

Finally, like many parents, I want my child to have as many options and opportunities as possible in life. I want you to be able to easily share with peers across the continent and, just as importantly, be able to positively influence our future. Because your future really is what the vote will affect the most.

As you grow I hope you will come to understand and love the values that we hold. These include being open to cultures and ideas, being respectful and courteous of people – even if you don’t agree with them, maintaining a love of learning which never stops, valuing knowledge, honesty and integrity, and above all, trying to love your neighbour because it is the first (and sometimes the most difficult) step in making the world a better place.

I’m writing this very late at night so forgive me if things have become a little rambly. Hopefully you will get the drift of my thinking.

In case it isn’t clear, I’m voting to stay in Europe because I love you and I believe this will give you the brightest and best chance for your future.

Love, Mama xx

Week 46 – swimming again

Another trip to the swimming baths and another first! This week Reindeer was all about the side of the pool.

He was happy enough going through the water to ‘the grand old Duke of York’, but he loved splashing at the sides. We practiced getting in from the side again, which was OK except for one mistimed lunge, resulting in a face in the water.

But his favourite thing was holding onto the side and trying to climb out. I was surprised by how strong his grip was and so gradually released my own. And he was great at staying there, keeping his head up and looking around. He had no trouble bracing with his feet, either.

His second favourite activity was the shower afterwards. He kept leaning forward so I’d press the button again, and voluntarily put his hands, arms and then head under the flow. I think we’ll need to start him using the shower at home soon, rather than just the bath!

I have no idea what he’ll want to try at the pool next week, but the instructor suggested I bring one of his favourite bath toys to raise his confidence in lying back in the water as he doesn’t really like this. So we’ll see. Watch this space!

Week 46 – Father’s Day

Yesterday was my husband’s first Father’s Day.

It started out well with a happy Reindeer and Daddy. Reindeer had chosen Adventure Time Season 3 as a gift in the hope they can watch it together at some point. When I was pregnant, Reindeer would be very active while Adventure Time was on so he’s pretty sure they’ll have fun with this!

Whilst my husband was busy with band in the morning, Reindeer and I popped out to Lyddington Bede House. I’ve wanted to go for a while as it has some lovely mediaeval oak carvings. I’m not sure Reindeer liked the carvings very much but he was enchanted by the windows so we both found something to enjoy.

In the afternoon we took a trip to Birmingham so my husband could complete some work before we went out for a Father’s Day meal at the Shere Khan restaurant. This is one of our favourite restaurants and the first time we’ve eaten there since Reindeer’s arrival. The waiting staff were fantastic, Reindeer definitely made a friend in our waiter who was generally great and very helpful. What made the visit even more special was that Reindeer could eat with us. He sat at the table with us happily eating rice, roti, yogurt dip and anything else he could get! As our dishes were very spicy we decided not to give him those this time, in case it put him off as he hasn’t had very spicy food yet.

The downside to the day was that my husband became ill on the way home – probably due to exhaustion – and Reindeer became over tired and cried for the last 15 miles.

Despite the ending I thought it was a nice day. I was reminded that last Father’s Day I couldn’t bring myself to think ‘this time next year’ because there are no guarantees with pregnancy. Now, our son is almost a year old and I feel so blessed that he’s here with us. I don’t think my husband has found fatherhood easy to get into – his family had no babies until Reindeer and his cousin arrived six months apart so he had no experience or idea what to expect – but I can see he loves Reindeer very much and can make Reindeer laugh more easily than anyone. I can’t imagine this journey without him and love watching the two of them together.

So Happy Father’s Day to my husband and all the Dad’s out there – especially the first timers, you’re on a magical journey!

Week 45 – stupid o’clock

Another night, another 4am wake up. We’ve recently been going through the 10-month developmental leap, which has largely involved a lot of broken night’s sleep.

Waking up on Wednesday morning, realising we’d had an unbroken sleep overnight, I got a bit hopeful that we were getting through it. When the same occurred on Thursday morning I became downright confident.

That’s probably what’s made being up for the last hour and a half so much more tiring – the belief when I went to bed last night that I’d still be asleep right now.

I’ve spent almost an hour cuddling and soothing Reindeer who, in fairness, hasn’t been fussy, merely awake. For the last half hour I’ve been trying something new; I’ve left his music on low and gone back to our room. He isn’t asleep yet, but I can see on the monitor that he’s settled down and is listening. Hopefully he’ll get himself back to sleep soon.

Whenever he shows signs that he wants to get himself to sleep I’m encouraging that. Not because I don’t love sleepy cuddles, but because my back is really struggling and given how fast Reindeer continues to grow, it’s only going to get worse.

Hopefully we’ll both be able to nap during the day (I should know better than to even think this so I must be more of an optimist then I thought) and have a better night tonight.

Random Rambling – stress

I just need to shout into the ether that I’m so stressed about this return to work decision that I went to bed feeling sick, got up feeling sick and still feel sick now. I need to get this sorted because the anxiety is awful.

Hopefully HR will get back to me soon and I can get on with stuff.

Aaarrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhhh!

Thank goodness I have Reindeer to distract me.