School Reports, Staycations and Stressful Situations

Eldest has officially completed primary one! Not only that but, he managed to do so without getting spotted battering another classmate. Hooray! On his last day he came bounding out with his school report in hand. I glared at the envelope for a long time before finally plucking up the courage to open it. When I did I was pleasantly surprised. It declared that he was good with numeracy and logic (no surprise there), that his reading and writing could do with some improvement and thus, he will need support going forward (no surprise with that one either) and that he interacts well with other children, especially boys (defo not a huge surprise). As a treat for a year well done, we decided to go to Ballycastle and stay in a caravan (my idea of hell). But, it was cheap and close. Plus, it would take everyone’s mind of losing Molly.

I don’t know what I was expecting but I was shocked when we got to the caravan and it was actually spacious and modern. I had an image of one ingrained in my mind from a Father Ted episode. You know that one were Graham Norton keeps river dancing all the time in a caravan you couldn’t swing a cat in? The site also had an indoor pool and kid’s disco running every other night. Who need’s Spain eh?

Having left our things off, I took the boys swimming. This was the first time since the utter madness that was the local pool: (https://youandmeplusthree.uk/2018/04/25/the-nightmare-that-was-going-swimming-alone-with-the-boys/ ). Eldest gets in no bother and heads straight for the huge slide, without the slightest hint of fear. Middle leaves the changing room and swiftly declares that he will not be getting in the water as ‘it’s too scary’. Great! Maybe I will have more luck with baby. Upon entering the water with him on my hip, he screams blue murder. To the point everyone was looking at me like I was forcing him into a pool of acid. The swimming attendant goes to get him a swim seat. This seems to make things worse. Middle has not left the steps during this whole episode and is sitting crossed armed, dipping his feet in. ‘Come in Owen!’ I shout whilst wielding gurning baby in a huge, yellow float. ‘I not’ he staunchly responds. FML- what is the point? After 30 mins, baby was still crying and middle was still rooted to the same spot so, out we all had to go.

Next we tried the park which was covered in sand. Middle runs off to have fun, yelling at random children ‘what your name is?’ and chasing girls with his standard sex pest line of ‘Hi girls!’. Eldest refuses to go in however, as apparently, he ‘hates sandy parks’. It’s only day one and I have already lost the will to live. How do you please them all at once? Hope that maybe the kid’s disco will be something everyone enjoys.

Get to kid’s disco with eldest moaning profusely that he ‘will not dance as that’s stupid and only girls do it’. Tell him that’s fine then, he can just watch. The guy running it is aptly named ‘Rob the Beard’. He seems to have a great way with all the kids but, baby is having none of Rob nor his beard and proceeds to cry anytime he even glances in his direction. Not even an offer of a sweet quells his fear of poor Rob. He spends the whole proceedings sobbing. Middle gets up and follows all Rob’s moves to every song. Giving it stacks and living his best life. Eldest observes his enthusiasm and decides to join in. Ten minutes in and eldest is throwing shapes I didn’t even know he had in him. He is also having, shock horror, FUN! Two out of three isn’t bad I guess.

All in all, the boys had such a great time in Ballycastle. Visiting farms, parks, eating the infamous ‘cloud’ ice cream and torturing girls. Middle eventually embraced the water on the last day and ventured further than the steps! Baby I couldn’t win over swimming wise but, he did start fully walking. I only saw him Gollum crawl a handful of times when he was tired and being lazy. In the end eldest finally came around to the sand also. The only downside was the boy’s sharing a room. Utter bedlam each night and routines all over the place. I am home more knackered than when I left! Aw well, it’s all about the memories and replacing the bad one for them that happened last Monday. I hope it’s worked. I am still crying every time I see anything white, sheep included. Miss you Molly x

Chilling in the caravan after a day at the amusements

Soft play fun on a rainy day

No more sand fear!

Mourning Mad Molly

In advance of Monday, after something amazing happened last week and plans had to change, I am posting this now. I know come Monday that I won’t want to face this nor be reminded.

Today we lost the only other girl in our family. A girl that has been by my side for nearly fourteen years now. A girl that made singledom bearable for me (even when she was having more sex than me, what with all the pillows she was humping!).

I will never forget the day I went to pick you up. I had been very thorough in my research. Every article said ‘look out for the puppy that has the most confidence as they are the leader of the pack’. The minute I walked in you swanned right up to me, bold as brass. I mean, I probably should have noticed that your mother had a propensity for serious barking at the time but, I was already in love with you.

We went through so many things together in the transpiring years. Break up’s with boys, me sobbing furiously into your fur on the sofa. Even the time I came home drunk and tried to make you dance to Jay Z with me (that was auntie Jess’s fault, or was it the cocktails?). At no stage did you treat me like a mentalist. At every stage you provided endless affection to me. Even at times when I felt no one else ever would. Then, I met the hubby. You fell more in love with him than possibly me! We spent long summers with you roaming about fields, you off the lead, never ever managing to burn off the endless energy you seemed to possess.

Then the kids came. You loved eldest from the moment you set eyes on him. Even if his weird ninja moves in the moses basket scared the daylights out of you to begin with! You were patient with him, even when he pulled your tail or tried to mount you like a horse. Middle you never warmed to. A fact that greatly bothered me. At one stage I worried you might attack him. But, you never would have. I get that now. You just realised that now I would have even less time for you. You always were smart. I did have less time.

One day you got sick. You were fine and the next you weren’t. I still will never understand how it happened so quickly. We tried everything we could. At a cost that we couldn’t even afford. We just wanted to make you our Mad Mols again. But, it was to no avail. I decided that you should be buried under the cherry blossom tree. The only pink in my world of blue. Every time I look at it in bloom, I will think of you and my boys- my favourite things in the world.

You may have humped pillows like mad, despite being done. You may have had an abundance of energy that no one could ever quite deplete but, you were the best horniest, energetic dog in the world! We must also not forget the fact that, when eldest was born, you received an ASBO because I couldn’t go out to get you as quickly when you barked. But, in some parts, that’s a badge of honour! I love you to the moon and back Molly. Your madness actually prepared me for being a mum to boys. Someone up there was looking out for me. Rest easy old girlie. I miss you so much already xoxoxo

Chasing Away the Mum Guilt

I have a confession to make. I have been doing CBT for awhile now. No, I haven’t started smoking some kind of new age cannabis oil to relieve my stress (not after a whole day spent in an Amsterdam coffee shop resulted in me mistakenly determining that I was being abducted by ISIS). Actually, I have been attending weekly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions. Because, lets face it, anti depressants are only masking things. They will never fix the negative thoughts that lead to me actually feeling depressed in the first place.

My session yesterday really got me thinking and I knew right away that it would help some of you also. I was explaining how, when I shout at the kids after a very long day, I feel awful. That I go to bed mulling it over and over and regretting why I hadn’t just taken a deep breath and got on with it. How, the next day I will apologise profusely to whichever boy got the yelling at. She stopped me there and then and asked ‘what do you do when you receive a compliment Grace?’. I was slightly taken aback. ‘Huh?’ I responded. ‘Well’ she said, ‘you’ve just told me you run a mum blog. A blog were you show that motherhood isn’t perfect. That it’s difficult, yet here you are beating yourself up. What do you do when a fellow mum let’s say, gives you a compliment?’. I thought of my besties and how they are always bolstering me. Of all the lovely messages I get from you all thanking me. ‘I feel like I don’t deserve compliments and usually list all the reasons why the compliment is wrong’ I honestly replied. ‘How do you think that makes the person who has given you it feel?’ she enquired earnestly. I dissolved into floods of tears. ‘It probably makes them feel shit’ I said, through sobs. ‘I don’t want to make anyone feel that way’ I added. She nodded.

The session continued with her giving me some homework. She asked me to write down every negative thought I have. It’s 10am as I type this and I have written half an A4 page. She also asked me to write down every compliment I receive. From 7pm yesterday, I have a full A4 page. One friend told me I have inspired her as a mother, one told me I’m great at twerking (which I’m not but, god loves a trier!) and one told me I am so good at giving others confidence. Normally I would have argued that these compliments weren’t warranted nor, deserved. Instead, I replied to everyone ‘thank you for the compliment’. Because their compliment made me feel good and I want them to feel good for having given me it.

It really is as simple as changing how you react in your own mind. Instead of thinking ‘I am a bad mum, I shouted so much today’, we should say ‘it was a long day and, we are human’. God knows we all got yelled at and we turned out ok. Well, my mum might disagree! Let’s all try and be more positive. Because, at the end of the day, if we survive each day with everyone still alive- that’s utterly fantastic! You are all doing great. You can reply ‘thank you for the compliment’:)

School Shenanigans , Sun and Not Much Fun….

This week began with eldest returning home from school on Monday with a note advising that his class would be putting on a talent show. The letter asked that any child with a discernible talent put themselves forward to perform. ‘ Do you have a talent you would like to showcase to all your class mates?’ I asked eldest eagerly, full of hopes of dreams. ‘No, I don’t have a talent mum, anyways it sounds sooooo stupid!’ he replied. ‘Everyone has a talent, think of something you are good at’ I implored. He pondered for awhile then confidently answered ‘I am really good at farting in people’s faces’. Give me strength! Safe to say he didn’t partake and observed instead.

Later that evening the P1 mum’s WhatsApp group was going into meltdown. ‘What do they have to wear tomorrow for the trip?’. ‘Um, what trip?’ I sheepishly sent. ‘The farm trip, I think they need wellies’. FML I had completely forgotten that he was going on that. I cannot keep up with the constant letters advising of colour runs (next Friday), sports day (the following Friday) and summer fair (the Saturday after). I’m beginning to think it’s better if the kids are tattooed with each date for the diary at the start of the year, thus ensuring no one can forget. It’s only a bit of ink. Between these dates and all the bloody birthday parties I have to remember. Aw the social life of a five year old! Maybe I’m just jealous?

Middle is his usual, laid back self. His latest thing this week is telling me when I shout at him to stop or  ‘you will never see me ever again’. Not sure if that’s a threat, sounds like quite the offer to me. Another new one is taking off his trousers and pants, jumping repeatedly on the trampoline and screaming ‘girls, girls’ at the ones next door like some kind of walking hormone. I keep having to speed out and redress him before the little girls are permanently traumatised. The sun is fun until these sort of things occur then it’s just plain stressful. He did get a full time pre school place which I was totally shocked about. I’m not complaining however. I just hope they know what they’ve let themselves in for. Hopefully he manages to keep his clothes on until the settling in period is over at least.

Baby has finally taken a few unaided steps. Praise the lord!! He has also been throwing some almighty tantrums which seems a bit early to me. Maybe he is just giving me a glimpse into how severe the two year old ones will be. I dyed my hair dark at the weekend as was so sick of dealing with the roots. Being blonde, broke and having kids is not a good combination. He took one look at me and burst into tears petrified. He didn’t realise it was me. Not only this but he refused to come near me for a whole day. Maybe I’m onto something there….. **stocks up on varying shades of all hair dyes**.

This week I’ve mainly been…. driven bonkers by kid’s and sick doggies!

So it was eldest’s parent-teacher interview yesterday. His second to be exact. I have never been so nervous. Mainly because they never tell you anything and, I quote, ‘why are you always asking me how my day was? It’s so annoying’. Oh, so very sorry son! His last one had been rather embarrassing as I had to sit there whilst his teacher informed me that he spent most day’s glueing his artwork to his face. This made perfect sense when she said it as, I had been wondering why he was covered in marker and Pritt Stick most days. Hubby had to go alone as I had to look after all the kids and the dog needed to be picked up from the vets. Lo and behold, it was all good news. What?! I know I should have been happy but I was also rather suspicious. I mean, I observe him most mornings, before the bell rings, chasing after other boys and knocking lamps out of them. Anyway, beggars can’t be choosers, I will take good news when it is available. His numeracy skills are on fire and his reading is getting there. The only negative thing the teacher had to say was that he is too lazy to push his chair in when vacating it and, she has tripped over multiple times. But I assume she can go on Claim’s Direct or something so, positives all around! His school hosted a ‘Funky Friday’ theme today also and I found myself spraying his hair green out the back at 8am whilst putting sweatbands all over him (see pic). He loved the sweatbands abit too much and has asked can he wear them to bed. Okay then.

Middle is being a complete disaster. His speech has come on tenfold this last month alone and, so has his unique way with vocabulary and voicing his honesty. He is calling everyone in nursery ‘stupid’ and ‘poo poo face’ and is not one bit ashamed either despite the punishments. He even said it to a line of P3 boys when we were on the school run this week. One of them turned to me, rather incensed and said, “what did he just call me?”. I had to then explain that it’s almost like a compliment from middle as he calls me it all the time. He was not placated and still looked appalled, as did I. Worst thing is, when I ask whom he learnt that off, he is saying mummy! I can assure you that this is not the case. I have never used the term ‘poo poo face’ nor called anyone other than myself ‘stupid’.

Baby is still one legged crawling (lazy) and pulling himself up on things when he can be bothered. He now spends all day shouting “dada” “nana” and even “momo” (the dog) yet has said “mama” a few times only- rude! His favourite thing now is to go into my bottom, kitchen drawer, lift out all the pans and scrape them across the tiles. Usually the second I have started a phone conversation. Maybe he has ambitions to join the cast of Stomp one day but. for now, the sound is haunting me even at night.

The dog has now taken over middles pre-potty training mantra and has spent the last few weeks christening my floor with an abundance of urine. So I am now back to buying bleach in bulk. Having been told it was probably old age, I didn’t think much of it. That was until she started drinking bowls upon bowls of water these past few weeks. I actually thought I was going mad and had just imagined I’d filled it up! Sometimes I can’t remember what all I’ve done in a day as I am always on a mission of some sort. Off to the vets she went and, she has diabetes. We must now inject her twice a day. This has added to the insanity as, after giving it the big I am, it appears that I am an utter wuss. I keep needing to vomit upon even going near her with the needle. I thought I was over my fear of them after all the blood tests with the kids. Obviously not. She has been back and forth now and they still can’t stabilise her. Her weight is awful because of this, despite eating twice as much a day and I’m now faced with having to explain mortality to eldest which has been very difficult due to his sensitive nature. The vet’s bills are pouring in and, despite paying £25 a month, we have to pay 20% off all costs. Please check your pet insurance as mine was £11 when I took it out years ago and I’ve been so distracted that I hadn’t realised it had gone up that much. Argghhh!

 

 

Why It’s Time To Talk And End The Stigma Surrounding Mental Health!

Today is ‘time to talk day’ ladies. A day in which we should all be talking about mental health openly and honestly. After all, one in four of us will suffer from some kind of mental health problem and yet, there is still a shame attached to having these sorts of problems. Some of you may know and, others may not but, I have been quite honest about my own struggles with regards to mental health: https://youandmeplusthree.uk/2018/05/03/why-its-ok-not-to-be-ok/ I wrote this about my struggles with postnatal depression not so long ago. At first, I just put it down to the kid’s sending me absolutely batty but, it turns out it was much more than that.

After eldest, I suffered from postnatal depression. I didn’t realise this at the time however and just thought I was being overly emotional what with the lack of sleep and constant crying (him and me). I tried to let it slide for months, ignoring how I felt and making excuses for why I felt that way. I was tired, I was so busy, making bottles and changing nappies was so monotonous and, finally, I was just feeling this way now but it would eventually pass. Alas, it didn’t and I found myself on antidepressants for over six months. I told very few people. I was embarrassed and almost frightened that they would consider me a failure as a new mum.

With middle, I was wobbly afterwards. Not as bad as before but, also not great. His birth had been quite traumatising for me and he suffered badly from reflux and colic. There were days he would cry for four hours straight. My mum came to stay to help me one week as hubby was away in America with work. She left after two nights it was so bad! I found it very hard to bond with him, I’m not going to sugar coat it. I felt awful that I couldn’t make it better for him and viewed myself as a useless mother. The guilt I felt surrounding the lack of bond, made me extremely down and anxious. But, I got through it and came out the other end once he was on solids. Now he is a walking terror but, one that makes me laugh daily with his huge, gregarious personality. I still feel guilty to this day for feeling how I did when he was a baby. There’s the mum guilt again!

This time, with baby, was entirely different. I actually developed full-blown depression whilst pregnant with him. There were many reasons for this looking back. Mainly wondering how I would cope with three and the stress of looking after two other children whilst carrying what felt like a rhino in my tummy. When I gave birth, things got much worse. I didn’t even want to get out of bed most days. Which, is not an option at all when you have kids. Meeting friends filled me with dread and I retreated into myself. Motivation was not to be found and I didn’t even recognise myself any more. The feelings I had felt throughout his pregnancy came back to haunt me. How could I have thought those things? He was perfect and I was so in love! This quickly manifested itself in me becoming obsessed with every little thing that could be wrong. His weight, his eyes, oh my god- cradle cap! Basically, my anxiety was through the roof. I was placed on anti-depressants once again. These then had to be doubled as there was no change. Now I find myself having to wean myself off the ones I am on currently so they can be changed to another type. I’ve also attended counselling sessions and enrolled on a course that promises to boost my self-esteem and confidence. I am fighting against it with every part of me yet it still defeats me most days.

It’s time that we talk about our mental health to others and, especially, those who don’t understand it. How will they ever learn if we hide away from sharing how it affects us? No one wants to wake up each day feeling sad and hopeless. I’m also a firm believer that today’s society is causing more and more people to feel this way. We are expected, as women especially, to be all things to everyone. Wife, mother, cleaner, cook and worker. There are not enough hours in the day and it’s no wonder we are all feeling so overwhelmed. If you feel this way please talk to someone and don’t suffer alone. Even if you don’t suffer from mental health problems, make a point of speaking to someone who does. Ask them if they are ok over a cup of tea. Sometimes all we need is to feel supported and understood.

 

 

 

Remembering Our Furry Friends Amidst The Madness

It’s no secret that the boys provide me with endless material. Their weekly antics are usually enough to fill multiple pages, let alone one. But, not only I am mum to three, boisterous boys, I am the proud owner of the only other female in my life- Mad Molly (as one groomer named her- whoops!). Molly was there long before the boy’s and, even long before the husband. That little white, ball of fluff has been present during all the monumental stages in my life. Through breakups, makeups and breakdowns. I can’t even detail all the occasions she has lay on my lap whilst I sobbed into her hair and offloaded all my woes. It was me and her against the world.

Then, eldest arrived. Nothing much changed, albeit I had less time. She got walked the same amount as before and, doted on even more so. From the second we arrived home with our blue, bundle of joy, Molly was in love. She adored him and, as he grew, the feeling was mutual. Then something happened. That something was the walking madman that is middle! He didn’t respect her space, despite repeated telling off’s. He mounted her daily screaming “giddy up MoMo!”. In the end, Molly became wary of him and, rightly so. Now she also has a baby to contend with who loves nothing more than tipping her water bowl over his head. The dog deserves a Victoria Cross for patience alone.

Whilst becoming increasingly exasperated, I stumbled across a series of books. Zara DogDog promises to teach children how to act around dogs and, read their body language. Middle loves books at the minute (Peppa and Paw Patrol one’s mainly) but, he became completely absorbed in the story. He also loved the illustrations and we had lots of fun pointing out the dog on every page. I read this to him three nights in a row and there was a marked change in his behaviour around the dog. It was almost like he suddenly respected her, in as much as middle respects anything. These two pages resonated with me, as a mum:

When I’m not running late in the mornings, Molly usually accompanies us on the school run. Kid’s are drawn to her. As a West Highland, she shouldn’t have floppy ears but does. She is an adult puppy essentially.  Kids can’t tell nor, understand that she is thirteen and doesn’t like certain things. They swarm around her and dispense a multitude of affection, of which she can tolerate in small doses. This book (one of a series) will make your children stop and think before approaching a dog and realise that they have their own boundaries and feelings too. There is no better lesson in life than to respect our non-verbal family members. You can purchase the book I reviewed here: https://www.zaradogdog.com/. Not only this but, you can also register for their club and receive tips to help both you and your children going forward. It’s so easy to become submerged in daily kid’s shenanigans and forget how much our furry friends are dealing with. We love you to the moon and back doggies!

Poor Mad Molly!

This week I have mainly been… unable to write anything though loving the two new additions to our family

Don’t worry reading this title, I haven’t popped out another two sprogs (that would literally push me over the edge). I also just couldn’t for the life of me write this week which, is highly unusual. I kept attempting to, but, was unable to formulate any kind of brain to webpage function. This is my tenth attempt so, let’s see how I fare. Maybe it’s the increase of dosage in my tablets? Who knows.

This week my sister in law’s welcomed the most beautiful little twin girl’s into our family. A family that, up until now, has been dominated by my three boys. My very boisterous ones at that! They are so utterly beautiful and, more importantly, I now have another two little humans that I can buy pink for and that will hopefully bother their arses to visit me in a care home one day (preferably with smuggled in alcohol). My sister in law’s journey to parenthood wasn’t as straightforward as mine. Sometimes you forget that other people face challenges and hurdles just trying to become a ‘mum’. Ultimately it is a title all us girls grow up assuming we will have. Just thinking that had already put things into perspective for me. What put things more into perspective is, how we are all just the same when introduced into this new whirlwind adventure. We are frightened, exhausted and, we will never think we are doing a good enough job. But, you are. No one can ever prepare you for those first weeks home but, one day you will be wishing them back. One day the visitors will stop and you will be wanting company. It’s funny how this whole thing works isn’t it? It’s only when we get some more sleep and, feel more normal, that we understand that. You will feel normal again! I promise.

In the boy’s news, baby is teething at an alarming rate. On Thursday I was single-handedly dealing with his seventh explosion in a few hours. Where was it even coming from? Like how is that even possible?  I began to think it could only be one of the plagues the Bible forewarned me about. There could be no other explanation (I am being brainwashed, read on).

Middle is doing great on the potty though seems to have developed quite the aversion to doing a poo on it. This is leading to what I can only describe as a daily apocalyptic nightmare. I literally gag every time this happens. He laughs hysterically of course.

Eldest is still loving school though randomly keeps returning home every few days with the same picture coloured in of an ark. The first few times I was thinking “well, he is certainly getting better with the colouring, that’s something”. However, we are now onto what seems like the twelfth ark picture in a few weeks and I am seriously concerned that he, and I, are being subliminally messaged. I’m not sure who by exactly, Noah maybe? I have two words for you Noah, the first begins with a F and the second is off. We are led by science in this family and, the drive to be kind and good people.