......

......
I want to be that mother who can stand up and say I am a strong confident mother and I know what is best for my children. We breastfeed and co sleep, We listen, We include, We eat chocolate and snot smoothies, we trampoline and grow frogs, we sling, we carry and we try and understand and work with our children without resorting to punishments, threats or coercion.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Fight to the end...of summer

I can't believe how awful Ellie is to Millie.

All I ever wanted was a family full of kind, loving, fun and happy children with the occasional falling out that was dealt with in an understanding and gentle manner resulting in even more understanding of each other and living in a loving family unit and I've tried so so hard over the years to engender and make this happen but Jesus fuck she is so so mean to her and Millie is at an age now where she is fighting back more effectively and aggressively.    She is starting to retaliate in the same ugly way she is being attacked by Ellie, but at 5yr olds level.

Ellie and Maia are similar ages so whenever they had issues I was always on hand to help sort it when they didnt have the emotional capacity and words to handle it. Now that they are older, Maia has learned the art of compromise and the beauty of letting go (mainly from hubby ) and the skill to stand up for herself or involve me when needed.

The age gap however between Ellie and Millie is such that Millie doesn't understand certain things yet and is unable to be fully aware of the consequences of her behaviour.  She also is thankfully still at an age where she is willing to back down and still wants the family unity to bond and to live in a loving environment but I can feel the relentlessness of the arguing and fighting is wearing her down. 

With Ellie's aspergers, the same kind of thing applies, she still doesn't understand certain things yet and now I realise she might never. She seems to not care about the consequences of her behaviour but in all possibility she also isn't fully able to. She is very reluctant to utilise the same methods of handling it as we used when it was just her and Maia. As she is older, it's much harder to distract her or intercept things and move things along before it gets out of hand or deal with it using sibling rivalry techniques learned over the years.  She is unable to see Millie's side of things and cannot imagine how it must be for Millie to constantly have her eldest sister on at her and basically bullying her. I talk to her about it and try and get her to see how her behaviour is affecting the relationship...not just with Millie but how it affects us all. I try to give her tools....remove yourself from the situation, come and get me, don't get into a back and forth match with a bloody 5yr old. I also talk to Millie about her behaviour and find she is more receptive.

The other realisation I have with her having aspergers is that according to Ellie it is NEVER her fault. She never takes responsibilty for her part in anything. She likes to explain at great length why it's all Millie's fault. She refuses to back down and often ends up being the highly upset and affronted one when it's because of her attitude or behaviour that we are in the sorry mess.

I think in the past I have consistently tried to find ways of dealing with this that come from the emotional angle. That whatever is bothering them can be sorted out by discussing things and working out what the problem is and where it may have started and what can be done to sort the issues out. It just doesn't work. It's such a convoluted mess of past digressions and lingering resentment that it's never possible to untangle things.  There is always confusion of events and feelings and it just becomes more convuluted and frustrating trying to sort it.

I also can no longer keep thinking she is older therefore she should be more able to back the fuck away, not get riled up so much by a 5yr old and stop personalising things so immensley.

Anyway....that's been on my mind recently...a lot of the fighting today took place whilst I was driving which makes it doubly hard to sort. 

First week of summer is nearly over and ocht it's not been too bad otherwise. We've been quite busy doing fun things too.

The fighting just really gets me down and I'm finding it hard to know what to do and I realise that it also triggers lots of sibling fighting memories from my childhood which defintely doesn't help.

Meltdowns a plenty
Losing the plot is inevitable
Breastfeeding it's all part of the process


Friday, 23 June 2017

Sardines

We just played our first ever game of sardines yesterday evening before bed and it was brilliant...admittedly it did start of as mummy hide and seek....you know where I find a fantastic spot that takes them aaaages to find me.  Initially Millie thought she was to hide (in a different place) as well as Maia, (avoided a meltdown from Millie about never being the one to hide & negotiated a deal with her to be next...without consulting Ellie and Maia which could be a disaster but ocht fuck it deal done let's carry on.  Then while still looking for Maia, Ellie tricked Millie into thinking Maia was hiding under our bed covers, so Millie and Ellie hid there so when I came along I thought they were all hiding there and before I whipped the covers off I stood marvelling at how insanely still and quiet they were both being (whilst trying not to laugh at them still thinking I can't see them)

We played for over an hour and really it is the first time we all managed to play together where no-one became irrevocably upset and everyone got a turn. There was lots of the usual negotiating, behind the scene tweaking and relaxing of rules without anyone realising!!

It was a magnificent feat of ingenuity and yet a wonderful connecting family moment.

I wonder if other people put *that* much effort into maintaining a simple game?!! It was worth it though.

Still took nearly two hours for bedtime. Nothing tires these girls out!

Meltdowns - redirected a few
Losing the plot - nope all good clean fun
Breastfeeding - not whilst hiding!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Permanent Shell Shock

I've been thinking about something and how to word it. Most evenings I feel like I'm recovering from the day..each and every day feels like an achievement yet I feel like a bit of a failure....I was trying to find a way to explain it....I kind of wanted to use the PTSD term..but kind of didn't as it's strong and has associations with soldiers and combat but there is that feeling sometimes like I am in a war zone...we've survived this day, the next will be easier!!  Sometimes it is, realistically though most days are a quagmire of negotiations and dealing with situations to avoid meltdowns and mayhem. I've often felt I have to be on a constant state of high alert and 10steps ahead of game. Always trying to make life go smoothly whilst ensuring all my children feel heard and understood and worthy and wanted. Many days it feels like I needed to carefully manage and control how the day goes....an impossibility I realise with 3 kids, but with one having Aspergers it's become a necessity. So at the end of the day when all 3 are finally asleep until the next wave of night time parenting begins, I breathe and allow myself to relax...a little!

We only recently received a diagnosis so before the 2 year process began, I often questioned my parenting skills and continually looked to the future benefits of Continuum Concept parenting. Now I realise the many ways it has absolutely benefited us as a family and even enhanced our situation....never using CIO, never using naughty step or time outs or other punitive yet ineffectual techniques and punishments.

As the diagnosis became more and more  apparent I wondered wether having a label would help other people be more understanding and tolerant of Eliie's flooby behaviour...it has helped me too.

I wondered whether it would help her make more of an effort to try and control her floobiness, because she will now know that there is a reason that sometimes she can't dial herself back....I'm beginning to realise how difficult this actually is for her.

I wondered wether maybe it would stop her feeling so bad about herself being unable to dial herself back in those moments....or indeed if she even does feel negatively towards herself...I'm seeing that she rarely connects the two and thankfully has positive self esteem for the moment...apparently this will become harder for her as she gets older.

One of my goals for my children is I never want them to feel bad about themselves. This hasn't changed since the diagnosis but equally I don't want her giving up trying to be a kinder person who understands others feelings as well as her own. Saying it out loud I realise thats a difficult request of anyone let alone someone with Aspergers. Who really knows how to understand and deal with their own feelings? I clearly dont!! I realise how difficult it is for Ellie and try to help her navigate this daily.

The day we got the diagnosis I was kind of numb and kind of not surprised and kind of shocked and kind of scared and kind of wish we hadn't started the process and kind of not sure what to do next and kind of wanted to curl up and cry and I was kind of all over the place and then I realised I kind of have a reason for such a difficult parenting journey and then I started to feel sad for her and Maia who seems to handle it so much better than me.

I started to realise a few things too.....I worked out that my idea of having lots of kids playing together and keeping themselves busy and not needing my involvement much hasn't really worked because Ellie never 'played' and always needed my guidance and input and now they are older her and they spend a lot of their time on their tablets doing minecraft and poor Millie who loves imaginative play doesnt get the chance much and when they do play together it usually ends in upset because Ellie takes control and doesn't do imaginative play very well and they always have the same narrative and the whole thing ends up in arguments and fighting. I feel Maia and Millie could play well together given the chance but Maia still feels Millie is too young and Maia is on her 'safe' tablet all the time where fighting and arguments happen less.

I'm sad for what everyone has missed out on and that I haven't provide Maia and Millie with more opportunity to play. It felt like they have lost a lot of possible sibling together playing time. We have now started to organise situations where Maia and Millie can have that time together and Ellie can have 1-1 time with one of us. Finding 1-1 time individually with each child is proving more of a difficulty.

After the diagnosis I started to wonder was it purely down to rules, boundaries, fear of authority and doing the wrong thing that has allowed Ellie to go through the school system unnoticed? Questioning my parenting style again.  Every parent's evening has always been glowing academically and behaviourally and we were always left wondering how can she be SO remarkably different out of school. Is it a girl boy thing? Would it become more noticeable in secondary school? They said it may start to become more of an issue the older she becomes the whole girl high school socialising thing. ...this scared the shit out of me as I struggled SO much with bullying. I console myself that for now the lines of communication are very open, Ellie always feels able to tell us everything  (for the moment!) and the way we raise our kids is totally different to how I was raised.

Since the diagnosis nothing much has really changed....there is still that daily struggle and endless stressing. There is still the constant reminders about ok behaviour and pre-empting them, something I have always struggled with.  There is still a lot of managing and handling and dealing and sorting but now there are finally some answers to the craziness that is my life and with the support from the school and the help of outside services I am starting to worry less and less about authorities swooping in and tearing us apart...my focus is returning, the sun is returning....I can feel my resolve returning.....I feel I can maybe do this...this being a parent thing!!

Meltdowns - so glad I embraced this term and it's connotations rather than being sucked into the whole tantrum bad behaviour naughty girl slap back of knees paradigm.
Losing the Plot - it's still possible, there's a shit more parenting needs to keep happening and a shit load more crazy from me
Breastfeeding - it's been an interesting 10yrs so far and I am thankful for never having mastistis.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Love me more and more and more and forever

Ellie and Maia were out for the evening tonight at the theatre. Barry and I played hide and seek with Millie (5) in one room..it was really funny...I wish I'd filmed it...she hid in the same place every time! She basically had our undivided attention for almost 2hrs and she absolutely loved it!  She was heard and understood and no-one called her an idiot or stupid or pulled her hair or hit her for no reason.   

 It was an interesting and relatively easy experience nighttime parenting only one child and I'm going to be honest, I did for a brief moment wonder what life would be like if life hadn't happened and we were parents to just the one. I'm not proud the thought slipped in there, but there you have it, it did. Anyway, as quickly as the thought appeared I confused it out my head with the complications of time travelling and Millie being the youngest (or would she be older?) and the other two not existing and ages being different and would she still be 5 or would we always have started a family when we did and...sod it. ...it wouldn't work, no point even thinking about it. Yet I did.....

I remember parenting one child and how overwhelmed and different I felt. The only one *still* breastfeeding at 1, the only one not initiating weaning to go skiing, then only one actually carrying my toddler in a sling and *still* sharing a bed. Then the 2nd came and I carried on parenting in this different way, by then I had found a few others who parented the way I did, through La Leche League and Nurture in Nature.  I saw others breastfeeding part babyhood and bed sharing with their children. There was no-one tandem feeding but I didn't feel as different. I did begin to feel the tug of war between siblings and with my body....one needs me over there, one needs me here...then no3 came along...I didn't know the meaning of overwhelmed and different!!! 

Having more than one kid changes the way you are able to love each child. There is always love to go around, just most-times there isn't enough of me to go around.  There is a constant battle of guilt in my head about giving everyone what they need and that constant nagging feeling that I'm somehow failing each kid of their right to have a complete childhood because they constantly have to divide me and share me and fight for my attention. I realised yesterday I could distinguish each child by their repetitive mum mum mum call. Each one is different!

The girls came home quite late but full of excitement from their trip. I deliberately took the time to connect and listen before encouraging them upstairs. Words are futile at times like these. Times when they are beyond tired yet still enthusiastically awake. Repeatedly asking them to start bedtime falls on deaf excited ears.  I know they just need a bit of mummytime before the mundane. Listen. Connect..then let them follow me to toothbrushing and bed. 

My girls are getting older....soon all three be in school and that 'me time' I am constantly trying to carve out will become that much easier...a new phase awaits us all. 

Last night Millie eeked out every ounce of mum and dad time she could until hubby went to pick up the older two, then she squeezed just a bit more love from me until she fell asleep....mummy "whisper in my ear" she said...."say I am worthy, I am wanted, I am loved...mummy loves Millie". Yes she does. She loves each and every one of you. Completely. As much as she can.






Meltdowns - none tonight with only one
Losing the Plot - not even a little
Breastfeeding - Natural term feeding at its finest



Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Love the crazy mean people again

I have this massive almost sometimes debilitating fear that people I dont know very well, but see almost daily (so IRL...in real life) don't like me and that I have done something to upset them and then I have this GREAT urge to talk to the person, apologise for anything I have ever said or done or thought incase I did, say or think something that might have upset them.  It's a vibe I get....you know you can just tell....stink eye.

Then I go through phases of thinking fuck it who cares. It's their issue with whatever I was saying. Transference, it's about something else. We all live differently. I've got nothing to apologise for...it's me not them. 

Then I don't want to be thought of as someone who hurts other people's feelings. I don't like it when it happens to me.

Why do I have this need for people I hardly know to like me? I'm already stressing about the people I do know and wether I've upset them in any way...I don't need it with strangers!!!!

I think I'm basically top of the needy chain..but I'm not sure what I need. It's not a comfortable place to be.

I don't want my kids growing up feeling like they need to apologise for themselves all the time. Like they might have done something wrong for having a different way of looking at life. I want them to feel freer and happier with who they are and be around people who are kind and understanding. I want them to feel confident and happy with who they are but not in a mean way.

I try to be that for them but I know they are learning meanness from me because some days it's not easy and some days I am mean to them. Hopefully they are also learning how to apologise and know when to.

I tell my kids that consistently grown up mean people sometimes didn't have enough love around them growing up and probably just need a hug from their mummy or daddy. People who are sometimes mean are maybe having a hard time at home or they are tired or hungry. I try to help them understand it from their side and hopefully that's helping them not feel it's their fault all the time. Sometimes it is....believe me sometimes it is their bloody inconsiderate unhelpful ungrateful fault!!!

Sometimes I say they weren't breastfed as a baby..you know, cos I like being controversial... 😜

Love the crazy mean people. I'm one of them sometimes. Love me. Love me. Love me. Like me? Ok just be civil to me at the very least. It must be exhausting giving me your negative vibes all the time.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Take a big big picture

Millie has sweets
She gave some to Ellie and Maia
She gave one to me and wanted to see it get small from sucking. I didn't know and when she came back in to see mine I told her it was finished. She went back in the other room and took one of the sweets she had given to Ellie previously in order to give it to me.

We felt Ellie should have understood that Millie was only wanting to make me happy and play a game with mummy and we surmised that Millie thought that since she had given Ellie a few, taking one wouldn't be a major problem especially since it was for mummy.

Ellie didn't. She completely freaked out at the injustice of Millie not asking for the sweet and she was so fixated on that part that we couldn't help her see why Millie had perhaps thought it was ok to take a sweet.

We explained to Millie that she should have asked Ellie.

No matter how we tried to explain it to Ellie she couldn't see past the initial injustice. Millie shouldn't have taken the sweet and that was that.

My hubby is a lawyer and he often says to his clients sometimes you need to see the bigger picture and that sometimes you need to look past your full legal rights.

A long time ago we discussed present giving.  The consensus on taking back a present because you've changed your mind was, that at that young age it was better for them to learn about compassion and make an allowance for the fact that the present giver is allowed to change their mind and that it's ok to. We felt that sometimes kids give things to their friends in the heat of the moment for the right reasons and regret it later. (They can also give things for wrong reasons, because they think thats how to gain affection. That's a different matter though!) 

Sometimes you need to see the good in people and not always think you are being wronged.

It also helps to see the bigger picture to help everyone to be happy (or at least fairly happy) with the overall outcome instead of one very happy winner and one very unhappy loser.

Sibling navigation is tricky.