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{The Ordinary Moments 15} #29 'Motherhood Guilt'

on Sunday, 19 July 2015.

There are two ways to look at one ordinary day of parenting. You can focus on everything that went wrong, the squabbles in the back of the car over each of them wanting the same toy, the umpteen times throughout the day you raised your voice, or the fact that healthy dinner you cooked might as well been thrown back in your face for the response it got. Or you can focus and meditate on your blessings, the giggles as you play together on the living room rug, those intoxicating after nap sleepy snuggles, or the look in those sparkly blue eyes as they laugh and they make 'smoothies' out of bubbles in the bath.

For the most part, I do the latter. Of course life isn't perfect, but it's good. Really good. I have a husband who is my partner through and through, who supports, encourages and guides me always. Yes, we argue, we say things we don't mean, or sometimes we aren't the kindest we could be to each other, but for the most part we are happy and strong. I have two little girls who don't really need any more description other than they are my life. They can test my patience endlessly, they can have their moments where it all gets too much, but for the most part they are well behaved, happy little people. They are my family.

After years of working every single spare hour we could, of working the hardest we ever have in our lives, of sending client emails in the hospital after giving birth to LL just hours before, we finally are both living our work dreams, or at least close to them. After years of that awkward embarrassment of going to family parties with a cheap bottle of wine or nothing at all because we couldn't afford to buy anything, of not being able to treat those we love at Christmas or birthday's, or years of budgeting our weekly food shop with no luxuries at all, we finally are comfortable with money. We can afford the odd luxury or to finally make our home into the space we both love.  It's not meant to be a sob story, far from it, even on our toughest days and of course there were and are still tough ones, we know we are lucky.

So incredibly lucky. And so blessed. Which is why when on those ordinary days of parenting where I don't focus on our blessings and instead I focus on everything that went wrong, I just feel so terribly guilty. On those days, I often turn on the news. I see the real sadness in the world, the true suffering, the shocking and tragic stories going on far away and a lot closer to home, and I feel so guilty for feeling and acting the way I do from time to time.

This week has been one of those motherhood guilt weeks. I am quite behind on work, day to day life things, and other things as well. I've been going to bed late, around 3am most nights as to cut a long story short I have serious computer issues and have been needing to back up every thing to various different hard drives. I've not been feeling very motivated and I definitely haven't been the best mother I could be. I haven't been fully present, I've been losing my patience over things that didn't really warrant that kind of response, and I've not been as engaged and playful as I should.  

Earlier this morning, very early in fact, Mads shouted out from her bedroom. She goes through phases where for some reason she gets into a pattern of waking a lot earlier than her normal time, they normally stop as fast as they begin and she's back to her usual 7 am wake up. But for some reason the last few days she's been really unsettled, waking up a bit in the night and then around 5 am in the morning. I don't mind her waking up, I don't mind her being unsettled, she can't help it, but what I do mind is when she continues to keep shouting in the morning until we go to her as then it wakes up LL who she shares a room with, and of course at that time LL is fast asleep and not ready to get up. This then makes for two grumpy children and two grumpy parents.

We told her yesterday and the day before that to shout us once when she wakes up and we will come and get her, it's simple enough. She's only four, she's still only little and maybe sometimes I expect things of her that perhaps I shouldn't. Anyway this morning at 5am she shouted continuously over and over for us, resulting in waking LL up again who was fast asleep and not ready to wake up at all. And I shouted. I lost my patience probably more than I ever have with her, partly due to my own tiredness, and shouted at her so loudly. As I was doing it, I could see her little eyes fill up with tears and her face look actually frightened. Even while I was doing it I knew it was completely over the top, that I was out of order, and even while I was doing it that familiar feeling of guilt crept in. 

It was all resolved a few minutes later, we all got up and snuggled on the sofa and watched a film. Which is where we are now. But I cannot shake off the way I feel. The way I reacted. The way I flew off the handle at her and the way her little face looked as I was shouting. There are days where I hate myself for the way I have acted. There are days where I am so disappointed in myself for not being as engaged as I should, for not playing that game they asked me to play and instead tidying the kitchen. Or looking at my phone absent mindedly when I should have been watching them dance around the living room. There are days where I lie in bed and I wish more than anything I could replay the day again. To be more present. To cuddle more. To parent better. And then the next day will come and the same thing will happen. We all know parenting can be mundane sometimes, that motherhood can be relentless and exhausting. That it's not all cuddles and happy kids, and extraordinary times. But that doesn't stop the guilt.

It's now not even 7am on Saturday morning and we are snuggling under a blanket together, one tousled, messy bed head either side of me, their warm, pyjama clad bodies nestled into mine while I type this. I don't normally have the laptop out when I am with the girl's, but it's so early I am bending the rules, we are all practically still asleep anyway. The sun is shining outside and the birds are chirping and the film they are watching is about to finish. That ever familiar motherhood guilt is knawing away inside of me about the way I acted earlier. So I'm going to turn this around. I am putting down this computer and I'm going to shake away this guilt. We have a lazy weekend planned, with lots of jobs, but I am going to make it fun one. 

I'm going to cuddle. I'm going to play. Even at the weekends, usually my mind is full of things I have to do the following week, even if I'm not actually doing them. But I'm going to forget about work, or blogging, or computer issues. I am going to turn off my electronic devices this evening and snuggle with my husband and watch a film. I'm not going to absent mindedly check instagram when my children are present. I'm going to remember my blessings. That these most ordinary of moments are the ones I truly love the most. I'm going to enjoy every moment of our regular, old mundane with my family. I am sure I will lose my patience slightly, or have to discipline them, or raise my voice. But I am not going to feel guilty for it if I do.

 I can't always be optimistic and positive. I can't always get it right. Sometimes, like earlier I can get it spectacularly wrong. But I can accept that, move on and learn from it.

Motherhood isn't always plain sailing. But it's definitely always worth it.

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My Sisters in July 2015...

on Wednesday, 15 July 2015.

June and July have been ridiculously busy months for us, with trips away, things on during the weekends, school visits and a bit of drama in relation to Mads school place, and lots of work on too. But as I write this, the pace of life slows down a little for us all. We still have a few different things on here and there, but it's not nearly as hectic as it was. I am looking forward to a slightly slower pace of life, and enjoying these last couple of months before our big girl starts school. 

I am interested to see what LL will think of Mads going to school in September. I have no doubt she will miss her, but I also think that she will enjoy the one on one time with me as well, it's something she hasn't had properly before. We did try and put Mads in nursery on a Friday morning so I could have some time with her, but we ended up stopping it partly down to wanting to spend as much time with Mads as possible before school and partly because we were always paying for it and then she didn't end up going as we were busy with going away or wanting to see friends. 

My 'Siblings' photos for this month are of our recent trip to Stockholm, we spent a few days there exploring during the weekend just gone. Stockholm has been in my top 5 wish list of places I would love to go for such a long time now so I was over the moon and excited that we finally got a chance to go as a family. It was great fun and the girls were so incredibly good considering it was a really full on trip. 

We bought our single buggy with us, even though we rarely use it at home, knowing from our previous adventure to Amsterdam last year that both would take turns in sitting in it, with either myself or Mr E holding a hand or carrying the other one. But in turns out that they both actually sat in it pretty well together which helped us no end, with Mads holding LL on her lap for the majority of the weekend. Of course there was the odd arguement when one of them wanted to sit at the back not the front, or if they were feeling particularly cross at that point in time about the possiblity of sharing, but for the most part we were really impressed with the fact they sat together so well on our full on and long days walking about. 

I've got lots of photos from our trip to Stockholm that I have to go through and sort out when I get a minute but I just thought I would share a couple of the Saturday we were there. That was my favourite day out of the three, the sun was out for the majority of the day, and we got to explore a lot. These photos were taken at the end of the day, we climbed up some cobbled roads to get to a beautiful viewing gallery and on the way back down we took some photos on one of the pretty streets. 

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I love their faces and how they are looking at each other. 

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I love this one as I think it looks like they are having a good old chat. 

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*****

This month I am sending you over to have a look at my lovely friend Keri-Anne's beautiful blog. Her photography is stunning and dreamy, so be sure to head over to see what her and her girl's have been up too.  

{The Ordinary Moments 15} #28 'Shall We Be Best Friends?'

on Sunday, 12 July 2015.

Every morning the girl's come running into our room and jump into bed for what we call a 'family cuddle' before we get up to start the day. On Wednesday morning we were all snuggling together and LL asked her big sister for a 'Mads love' which is what she calls a cuddle. As they were embracing in the elaborate and OTT way that little people do when they ask for a cuddle, Mads said to LL 'Shall we be best friends again now?' to which LL said 'Yes please.' When I asked her why they weren't best friends, Mads said that when they were in still in bed in their room she had asked her sister to pass her something and she hadn't. So for that reason they were 'no longer best friends.' Except now they were and were happily cuddling each other. This little exchange actually made me smile to myself, as to me it sums up completely what a sibling relationship should be. 

For the most part, these girls really are the best of friends. They have a really strong and fierce bond, and it's clear to see to anyone who meets them. Even through photos and videos, I think you can see the connection they have, but it really truly is a firm friendship. From the second LL was born and they met in the hospital for the first time Mads has made me the proudest parent ever, she has constantly looked out for her, loved her and has never even had a hint of jealousy, even in the early days. I've written a few times over the years about the relationship they have, (and indeed most months in my Siblings posts) but recently it really has stepped up a gear. 

They can now play together and LL can now communicate and chatter back to Mads, although she still doesn't always make much sense. Every day she is learning more words and therefore interacting more with Mads. LL also now stands up to her sister, in fact she is the more feisty and stubborn of the two and so we sometimes now get full on scraps if they both want the same toy. But in a strange sort of way I actually quite like to see them having a squabble because that's just part and parcel of life with a sister. They don't argue for long, before they are straight back to cuddling again or playing together nicely. I think having a sibling helps them to learn and understand more about compromising, not always being the centre of attention, sharing, or any other life lessons. 

Since they began sharing a room a few months ago, it really has made them even closer. We put them to bed between 7 and 7.30pm and go downstairs, and it often makes us laugh as we hear them constantly chatting, giggling and generally causing mischief. They chatter non stop, which is pretty amazing considering that LL still isn't always the clearest or chattiest yet, but somehow her big sister seems to know exactly what she is saying, in fact Mads often has to tell me what she is saying as I don't understand her and she does. The sound of their giggles coming from upstairs truly makes us smile and often we have to go and tell them to quieten down as it's getting late. Whenever I go in the room, LL has usually got all the books out the bookcase and given half of them to Mads who is on the top bunk and therefore can't reach, and they always look guilty and full of mischief when I come through the door. 

When I thought about the ideal family for us, I always said I wanted two children, both myself and Mr E come from two sibling families, but there's still a part of me that would love a third baby. One thing I often think about if I am going through a particularly broody period is how a third sibling would fit into the dynamics of our family. I wouldn't want to lessen the bond that my two girls have, or I would worry that a third child would get really left out as these girl's really do everything together. If they are sat on the sofa, they have to be sat practically on top of each other, if one goes upstairs, the other will follow. But we will cross that bridge if, and when, we come to it. At the moment I am just enjoying their bond, their squabbles, their fierce love for each other, and ultimately that special relationship that can only coming from having a sibling. I love that they are now both big enough to really take part in our adventures and it's such a pleasure to watch them growing up together. I hope they will always cherish the gift we have given them- a best friend.

There's this quote I found the other day which I think really sums up their relationship, even at this young age...

'She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defence attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she’s the reason you wish you were an only child. - {Barbara Alpert}


These photos were taken on our recent holiday to Rhodes, but I absolutely love them and they were too cute just to put in my holiday posts. I think again they show what a mischevious little pair they are. And of course there is my favourite golden light there too!

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Our Holiday to Rhodes 2015- Mark Warner Levante Beach Hotel- Part Two...

on Tuesday, 07 July 2015.

I love writing these posts and thinking back to our holiday to Rhodes. Although it was only a couple of weeks ago, our tans are already fading, our holiday clothes have been washed, ironed (thanks Mum!) and returned to their respective wardrobes, and we are back in our same old routine. But it's great to look through the photos and remember our special time at Levante Beach Hotel. If I close my eyes I can almost imagine the heat on my shoulders or that feeling of icy cold shivers when you first jumped in the pool, and the deliciously sweet smell of waffles cooking on the grill in the morning. And that's exactly why we go on holiday- to make those memories that will last a lifetime.

Here is the second part of our holiday to Rhodes in (far too many) photos and another little video...

 

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I was so proud of my little girl as she decided she wanted to go kayaking with her Daddy. She looked so little sat there in the front but absolutely loved it and they were out on the water for ages.

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She took after her Mummy and sat there letting Mr E do all the work. Although I am guessing she is lighter than me. ;) 

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This crazy lady and I sat on the shore throwing stones and waving at them kayaking further and further away from us.

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She loves sand, stones and generally making a mess! She's also in her PJ's in this picture as she woke up from her nap to go and watch Daddy and her sister. If a girl can't wear her PJ's down to the beach, when can she? 

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I often just sat for a few minutes and watched the Mark Warner boats. The watersports is a huge part of life at Levante and the waterfront team are so fun and nice. Everything is included in the price, unless you want private tuition. I tried my hand at paddle boarding and also went on an organised kayak safari. On the kayak safari we were meant to go to a nearby cove and do some snorkelling but sadly on the day we went it was so windy that we ended up having to be taken back in the safety boat as it was so hard paddling against the wind. I thought the safety boat was just as fun though!

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Sharing a 'cocktail' together. I have the exact same photo of last year in the same spot.

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So proud these babies are mine.

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She asked every evening if we could go for a cocktail. We were on a half board basis at Levante meaning we paid extra for drinks. But the drinks prices are incredibly reasonable. 

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My smiling, happy girl.

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Golden light again- I will never tire of taking these kind of photos.

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We loved dropping the girls off at the evening film and childcare service and having dinner together, it was such a wonderful luxury. We didn't keep them in for long, at the most two hours, but it was just enough time to eat our meal in peace, knowing the girls were having a whale of a time watching films and snuggling. 

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Mads windsurfing in the pool when I snuck up on her at one of her mini club sessions. I was so proud watching her doing things way out of her comfort zone and just like last year her time at Levante seemed to make her grow so much in confidence.

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I am the luckiest lady in the world to have these three.

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Every evening they wanted a 'disco party' on the lawn outside our hotel room.

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They were looking at each other's knees and kissing each others 'sores' better.

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They do argue on and off (some days more than others) but they truly are the best of friends.

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The hotel has three restaurants- the main restaurant, the Pan Asian restaurant and the pool snack bar. For a small supplement you can eat in the Pan Asian restaurant by one of the pools which we did one night. The food was delicious- we had beef, mango and lime salad, spring rolls, crispy chicken and sweet and sour beef amongst other things. It was nice for a bit of a change from the buffet in the main restaurant and the view of the sun setting was gorgeous. (Which is also delicious!)

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I adore this photo taken one evening before we went out to dinner- Mr E was pretending to be a monkey in the background. 

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Plus this one too. I love it when photos go according to plan and they give us genuinely happy smiles.

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 And this might be my new favourite of LL. She also seemed to grow up lots more while we were away too. I think we can all safely say Levante brings out the happiness in our family, look at those twinkly, sparkly eyes. It really is our happy place and we are so thankful that we found Mark Warner last year and that they invested in our family to make us ambassadors, plus I am glad we decided to book again for this year. I think we have found somewhere that we will hopefully return to year upon year. 

Here is another little video of our time at Levante. It's the last one I have made but I have one more post of photos coming up at some point too. (SO many photos!)

 

 

NB: Mark Warner were really fantastic and gave us a discount off our holiday as we were their ambassadors last year, but they haven't asked me to write about our holiday, although of course I would have done anyway. (thank you MW!) They are also offering a discount to any of my readers who are interested in booking a holiday with them. It will run for two weeks and you need to quote KatieBlog50 when booking- the offer entitles you to a £50 discount per person excluding free child places. It can't be used in conjunction with any other offer and Mark Warner booking conditions apply. You can find out more about amazing Levante and their other properties here.

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