Thursday, 24 May 2012

Breastfeeding support, finances, threats, shoes. As you do.

Mama's-eye view. I love baby toes. I'd eat them. 

There are a few little tidbits I want to let you know about, under no particular heading!

Firstly, if you are breastfeeding in Ireland, no matter what age your child is you should check out the Extended Breastfeeding in Ireland Facebook group. It's a closed group, so you have to ask to join, but everyone's welcome, Dads too, and none of your regular FB friends can see your posts in the group. This group was set up in January as a reaction to my interview on Four Live about my "still" breastfeeding my 3.5yr old. It turns out there are hundreds (nearly 600 and counting in this group) of mothers breastfeeding children of all ages in Ireland. Even if your baby is 2 weeks old, but there are people around you wondering when you're going to stop breastfeeding, this group is for you. There is such a fantastic group of mothers on there, all with different parenting styles, but all respectful of each other's point of view, and very willing to give advice and encouragement on everything from pumping when you need to return to work, support on a bad day, admiring photos of your precious baby breastfeeding, sharing funny stories etc. It is not like your regular discussion forums where the tone can be quite judgemental, this is a safe haven, and honestly there are ladies there I consider friends, though we've never met in person. If you loved breastfeeding but your last child has weaned, join anyway and give support to those who may need help with questions, or just for the craic! It's been a life-line for me on some long days alone with the children and nowhere to go. Only thing is, it's kind of dead after 2am, just when I'm getting into my stride, but you can't have it all!

Secondly, I'm ashamed to say I'm sunburnt. Well, you are all checking in everyday to see what's happening, and that's my news! My neck is like a lobster, and I'm scared to look at my face. We spent from about midday to 4pm in the sun in the park today. Though I stayed in the shade I still obviously fried myself somehow, and feel like a complete tool as a result. I forgot suncream for the boys, though they were well covered up, and I had to detour and buy them both sun hats because I forgot them too. See, I need lists. But I did remember the nappies AND wipes this time, so that's something. We ate loads of fruit, pineapple chunks, strawberries and blueberries (all for 5 euro in Dunnes) and later ate breadsticks and houmous (yes, even 10-month-old Noah was dipping his breadstick in the tub!) for a balanced meal. We discovered a new bus route that gets us to a favourite park and to one set of grandparents, which will be great for days like today when I don't have the car. Charlie told a child in the playground "We have to get the bus because mama doesn't have the money to drive her car because she's not in work anymore". I was initially mortified that this kid was getting the low-down on our private affairs, but figured:
1: It's the truth
2: I have to remind Charlie of this at least once a week, when he starts asking to do classes we can't afford anymore
3: It'll do him no harm to learn the value of money and prioritising how you spend it
4: He's delighted I gave up work to stay home and mind him, he'd been asking for a year for me to do so, and he has readily accepted the small sacrifices it entails.
5: Just like making points really

I once overheard a mother saying angrily to her 8-year-old daughter "No, we are NOT poor, we just spend our money wisely". I can only imagine the previous few comments, and the mother's humiliation at the inference that they were stuck for money when they were obviously quite well-off (I'm assuming this the way you do based on accent, clothes, where they were when I saw them etc). It's funny how the recession has changed people's attitudes. Friends who wouldn't have been seen dead in a charity shop are now proudly showing me their bargains, people aren't afraid to say they have to give something a miss, that they can't afford it. It's like we've all got real again, after pretending for 8 years that we were all celebrities and could afford 36 euros for two glasses of champagne in Ron Black's (RIP) Champagne Bar. I'm ashamed to say that was one of our dates in The Boom. Sure, you'd get the bottle of Veuve Cliquot for 39 euros in the off-license. But we thought we could have it all...
Sorry for the diatribe, I'm doing "stream-of-consciousness" here, and only stopping to wonder where do the damn apostrophes go in certain words, other than that it's pure, unadulterated babble.

I'm reading "MacCarthy's Bar", like a Bill Bryson, only it's an English guy doing a tour of Ireland. It's very funny in an anecdotal way, and reminds me why I so love being Irish. He says a funny thing about the Irish being great at monologues; all you have to do is ask them "How are you?" and before you know it you'll be listening to a 10 minute run-down of their health, the weather, their family affairs, local gossip and a bit of existentialism peppered with loads of names of people you've never met, but they assume you know. (That's basically what he said, I can't be bothered to actually find the page and quote directly). We all know people like this, people you'd love to video/record talking because nobody would believe the tangents they take in their stream-of-consciousness talking. They're usually over 50 years old, talk out loud to themselves, and have a mixture of genius and comedian streaks while being totally un-self-aware. I regret that the coming generations are all too self-conscious, and used to being photographed and videoed, and will be self-editing as they talk, so self-aware are we.

Has anyone (Jesus, I'm really babbling here, 2am!) heard of the whole Crystal Children / Indigo Children thing? It's a New Age philosophy about the coming generations being more enlightened, and bringing change to the world (I think, again, I can't be bothered to google it - I'd never get a masters at this rate with no evidence-based statements, not that I'm studying for a masters, but you know). It's an interesting idea. I think every generation is more enlightened than the last, by their very nature, since teens began rebelling in the 50s each generation is pushing boundaries and learning more about ourselves as people. I was thinking today specifically about child abuse, and how it's so recent in our culture that we were not respecting children as people in their own right, only seeing them as our property to use/abuse at will. It is only the current generation being born now that have their rights defined by law, and hopefully protected in practice too. So it's no wonder that there are so many family problems out there; the current parents were abused by their parents, and so on back through the generations. This is going to take WAY more than our lifetimes to improve. I saw a mother shout at and thump her daughter (yes, thump) in a shop today. The girl was about 6. I think the mother was drunk. I did nothing. I didn't know what to do. I assume the mother grew up abused too. What do you do? What can you do? How many of us grew up with the following threats?:
I'll murder you
I'll kill you
I'll get the wooden spoon
I'll tan your hide
I'll slit your gullet
I'll have your guts for garters
I'll smack your bum
You'll be sorry
Wait 'til I tell your father
...and so on...

We've been threatening our children for generations, because we grew up with that, and consciously or unconsciously we think it's the thing to do. The other day George Hook on his radio show said the current generation of children need more discipline and the "cat" should be brought back. The Cat 'o' Nine Tails was an implement of torture made especially for keeping children in line and was regularly used probably into the 1980s in schools in Ireland. Hook was not joking, he went on to describe a transgression of his in his schooldays that led to his getting a beating, and said he'd never put a foot out of place again, so it had worked in his opinion. (He was also a depressed alcoholic, but he seems not to put the two together). So the culture of keeping kids in line with fear and threats is only being reversed among my generation, and it's still alive and kicking in some households.

It's back to the idea of enlightenment, of self-awareness, of owning our actions and being responsible for our behaviour. People who act and react unconsciously to stimuli without wondering if their actions are appropriate are not self-aware in my book. People who try to objectively examine their behaviour and develop themselves as people ARE self-aware in my book. What's it going to take to get everyone to wake up and look at how they are acting? What would that mother in the shop need to stop shouting and hitting her kid? Would I have made a difference, walking up to her with my baby in a sling, telling her to please stop hurting her child? Would she have been ready to hear it, take it on board, or would the girl have suffered more for the extra "show" she had made of her mother? (Yes, that was what it ended with "See, you made a show of me in that shop" was shouted at the girl once outside.) Do people need to step in, and if so, when and how? Do we need to have some mass-media awareness campaign of how to treat our kids? Do we need to teach the children in school what behaviour to accept, and what to stand up to? They learn all about "stranger danger" but what about when it's the child's own parent? Nature makes the child protect the parent in this situation... We're getting too deep here, and I talked about child protection before. I'll end on a frivolous note.

I got new shoes! I haven't gotten (sorry!) new shoes in AAAAGES it seems, certainly not proper shoes.  I'm certainly not counting the monstrous bright-green Croc-fakes I spent 3.98 on in Heaton's last week. These are heels I can actually walk in. I never thought it possible. They're in my favourite accessory colour of the moment - coral. I've coral nails at the moment, and am coveting a coral backless tunic in H&M, but have no occasion to merit the purchase... So the shoes, they were 18 euros in Dunnes... pause while I try to google a picture...
I was about to walk past them, deeming them too low to bother with, then remembered I only wear flats now as I am crippled in heels and feel like a tottering moron in most of my pre-baby shoes. So I tried them on, and fell in love. The heel is slim, but not wobbly like most slim heels, so totter-factor is low. The sole is pliable so your foot actually bends while walking, unlike most platformed soles I own, where you tread, lift, repeat, never bending at the ball of the foot. The colour is fab and will make the slightest tan look great, and the 80s  look is so "now" dah-ling. The only bit I'm not sure of is the high vamp, so there's no toe cleavage, which makes them less sexy, more mumsy. I plan to wear them when going out this Friday (yes, that'll be my third such outing in as many weeks, I'm feeling positively rebellious!) but haven't decided what to wear them with yet. They're begging for peg-leg slacks, a blouson tee and a blazer with sleeves rolled up, but my current ass size precludes trousers of that shape I'm afraid. I'll probably play it safe with skinny jeans and my oversized cream shirt with a blazer and clutch bag.

Speaking of which - I'm dying to buy this clutch:

Something weird happened with the background, the yellow shouldn't be there.

See the fab knuckle-duster handle? And the skull? I'm in love with this, but it's 30 euros and again I've no need for it. I've already got a red crystal heart-shaped clutch I've rarely used, so I'll "porte" that one instead, all the while wishing I looked like I was wearing four rings on the one hand.
Life is good if this is the extent of my angst!
Hope you are all well, it's 2.45am so I'll bow out now and get some sleep, I'm on the early shift tomorrow, dammit!
Nee (you can call me Nee now, we've known each other a while)

3am now, just re-read this and fixed a few typos, and marvelled at the diverse topics my brain has spewed! I wanted to add we're revisiting "Extras" the Ricky Gervais series, watching a couple a night on Youtube. Oh my god, not a patch on The Office of course, but still brilliant. I'm dying to get to the Christmas Special, but we're going chronologically as all good nerds do. Anyone else a fan? x

Update: I got 5 hours sleep. The early shift was staffed by one grumpy mama. Back in bed now, feeling like I should be out doing something constructive in the sun...


  1. I'm reading research on Attachment Theory at the moment, my goodness scary reading after you've had a child! But something that all adults should read up on nonetheless. I am really interested in all this research now in childrens social/emotional development prior to age 3 and the links to mental health in adulthood. And how this emotional development is more important to say cognitive/intelectual development and children who are secure & hence have had their emotional development met are more likely to smart, focused at school etc anyhow. Have you heard that ad on the radio at the moment about child abuse, it makes my heart break listening to it.

  2. Love the shoes & sorry about the sunburn! x

  3. What do you say, then, to make a child stop doing what they're doing, when they're misbehaving or repeatedly hurting their younger sibling or throwing train tracks around?! I'm not saying that I say any of those things on your list - I don't - but I do threaten, I have to! I say, "You'll have to go in the corner if you do that again" and then if they do it again, they go in the corner for 4 minutes, and then I talk to them about what happened once that's over. But those threats on your list, they happen out of desperation, out of being at wits' end, when people have nothing else to say that will stop the behaviour! So I think it is about teaching parents skills - how to deal with a child who continually goes against them, and how to see how to relate to them better. Right now my son is in the corner for the second time in a row in a few minutes, because he yet again hurt his baby brother. I don't know how to get through to him, but this corner thing obviously isn't working! He is very jealous, and there is rivalry there, and he has me driven up the wall. I honestly don't see what I can do. But I do understand the desperation that brings about those kinds of threats. Maybe Charlie's like my little girl, who rarely does a bold thing, but not all kids are like that! I think my son's behaviour stems from him needing a lot more one-on-one than he gets - he is a sensitive child who could do with a lot more than what I can give at the moment. I really wish I could get through to him.

  4. yeah, shoes are nice although I would prefer them to be pumps :)

    about the abuse - books by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (Liberated parents, Liberated children and How to talk so kids would listen and listen so kids will talk) made me super aware of what to say and when to shut up - it was actualy a brain and eye opener - and the difference that one word can make.....
    taking the lady in the shop - asking her to stop abusing her child would not make her feel any better (she would probably get defensive, told you to mind your own b etc)) thus it wouldn't work. She lost it there and showing some understanding, noticing that she is upset/angry etc and offering a solution(even a silly one) would make her think about the situation.... I guess I would say 'ice cream and a hug are the best to calm the nerves/make up for me..' I don't know whether it would work - but I guess it would not make the situation worse. Do you follow me?
    I also think that G.Hook sholud read the books as well - I would be suprised if he didn't changed his mind! Didn't know he is an alcoholic.... saying that fear is a great and only(?) solution to keeping children in line is sooooo wrooooonggggg. How can I child (show) respect when he and his rights are not respected?

    I've read something about the attachment theory - yeah, it is a bit scary but I also remember they were saying that not everything is lost ... and everything is irreversible.


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