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Showing posts from 2016

Unexpected Loneliness of New Motherhood

There's that lovely moon again, a kindly face watching over her sleepy brood. Awake for another nocturnal milk feast, I treasure these simple moments of just baby, moonshine and me, but those first months of motherhood were tinged with loneliness - a surprising predicament that I hadn't prepared myself for.  I associated loneliness with the elderly and the bereaved.  What right did I - a healthy, mobile person, with a family and a home- have to complain of loneliness?  Encouraged by similar experiences shared on social media (see Channel 4's special loneliness season). I finally feel able to share my thoughts on this wonderful and challenging chapter.
Why was new motherhood so lonely?

1.The Monologues.  I went from teaching full time in a secondary school, talking with hundreds of people a day, to being alone with my newborn, nine hours a day, everyday.  Sure, we 'chatted' in our own way and those delightful smiles and gurgles went a long way, but I would yearn fo…

Winter Lethargy and Advent Joy

We had almost given up on winter.  The heavy artillery of chesty coughs had begun its offence.  Sore throat patrols left no tonsil untouched; runny nose gangs rampaged in their wake.  The eldest was dosed up on Calpol and the baby's chest smeared with snuffle-balm.  It took a ninja's speed and a pianist's dexterity to wipe the snot streaming from the little noses.  "No, Mummy.  No wiping.  Put it back."  After a few indoor days to recover, it was time to emerge into the world again.

Leaving the house with two tots is challenging enough, but by winter, the effort is near-impossible.  It takes a whole morning of ebullient positivity, chattering about all the fun things to do in the cold; precision timing to ensure the baby is fed, changed and layered up; expert persuasion to will the toddler into woolly layers and waterproofs; a scout's preparation to have pockets stuffed with snacks, drinks, tissues, gloves and keys... where are the keys..?! And then I've…

Parenting in a New World of Walls

All a parent ever wants is a better world for their children, safe and full of opportunity.  Over generations, my family has gradually bettered themselves financially and academically.  On my dad's side, he was the first to attend a university, juggling school work with weekend shifts at his parents' fish shop.  On my mum's side, daughter of a Punjabi Civil Servant, her grandfather travelled on a dhow across the Indian Ocean to find new opportunities in British East Africa; her parents had emigrated on British Passports to escape Idi Amin's racial purification programme in 1972.  My childhood was happy and comfortable in bucolic charm, with a colour television and piano lessons.
I was twelve before I really understood racism.  Growing up in Tory Lincolnshire, the current hotbed for Farage's Brexit fans, I was aware of being a little different:  I had a Granny and a Naniji; I worshipped in a Church and in a Gurudwara and my mum sent me to my friend's pyjama party…

Super Loon

Like many in the world, I've found it hard to see a bright future with Mr President-Elect waiting in the wings. The romantic-comedy of Mr O's two terms is set to transform into a full blown tragedy: lunacy fuelling tyranny.

The task of bringing up two little boys into this new world suddenly got a lot harder. The democratic election of a self-professed molester has legitimised the sexism that we are fighting against.  The teaching of respecting women and men equally has always been necessary, but the weight on our shoulders just got a lot heavier.  I talked at length to both boys about the importance of gender equality, fair pay and how to be a true gentleman in all situations. At only two years old and five months young, I'm not sure how much they took in. But even without my guidance, my toddler already knows that his Duplo granny can drive the Duplo tractor just as well as the male farmer figure that came with it; the little Duplo girl who accompanied the gardening set…

Wonder in mankind

Today was one of those perfect Autumn days.  Big cosy coats and woolly hats cocooned the little ones as the cold air rouged our cheeks.  The sun shone low through the trees; the crisp orange, yellow and red leaves crunched underfoot. The earthy smell of decaying leaves reminding us that winter is around the corner.

One of the many great things about becoming a mum is that you experience the world anew. Mundane objects become intricate gizmos as you try and answer the repeated "what's dat?" (potato peeler, measuring scales, dental floss). You can be moved to tears by the wonder of mankind's achievements as your child points out every aeroplane, waves at helicopters and cheers on every train. Basic science suddenly fascinates you again: magnets, fireworks, the sun going down and the shape-shifting moon coming up. The hope of a new generation getting to grips with the big wide world.

As well as such rediscovery, mankind seems more wonderful too. When you're flying s…

The story behind that nursing mum's smile

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. I imagined cuddling a brand new little sleepy baby, drinking contentedly and smiling up at me: his mummy. I pictured lunches with old friends, coffees with new mummy friends, my little baby feeding, gurgling & sleeping on my lap.  I knew of all the health benefits and had attended all the breastfeeding workshops and read all the leaflets.  I understood about supply and demand. I loved the idea of continuing to use my body to make the food for our baby and the ease of not having to worry about sterilising bottles or warming bought powdered milk , appealing to my low-maintenance lifestyle. I was ready and excited. I knew that 'labour' would be hard work but after all that, the feeding would be easy, wouldn't it?

I hadn't appreciated that after a 'normal' birth, we'd be home so soon, long before the milk properly came in, far from the midwives trained to help you latch your baby on.

It never occurred to me that when th…

supermoon

It's 2:16am. I'm feeding our baby in our dimly lit room. The radio churns out smooth Classic FM and all its jingly adverts; the light's been on all night, and hasn't really been off since our baby's birth 4+ months ago. Another device plays a recording of 'womb sounds', complete with a stranger's heart beat. The swishing swashing of amniotic fluid and an amplified quickened pulse reminds me of listening to our baby's heartbeat from week 12 of this pregnancy: a comforting awesome sound, reassuring new parents that there is indeed a little life growing inside this opaque body.

He seems to like the sound. His gulps have slowed down and his breathing has deepened. He looks asleep but his mouth is still firmly attached to my body. He's brought his little hands up to his face. His eyes are definitely closed.

He's still drinking, but he's surely almost done. The next news bulletin has come on, signalling that we've been up for a while.  I w…