In the spirit of openness and honesty, for all the people who accidently landed here courtesy of Google, let me just state that at no point in this blog post am I going to be talking about anything that involves my boobs. This isn't that kind of confession. Nor have I found god. Sorry Catholics. I know it is never a good to start a post by simultaneously disappointing and ostracising two such large sections of society, but I am trying to honest here. So now that is out of the way, and I guess it's just me and the sexually satisfied atheists left (and perhaps a few of you agnostics who are perhaps still a little undecided whether this is the post for you or not) let me tell you the real reason I need to confess.
To all the people that are here because they are parents, friends, bloggers or part of the special needs community or just wasting 5 minutes before they go and do what they are actually supposed to be doing, I must apologise. I am a fraud, but not only just a fraud, I'm an ironic fraud, which I guess is much worse.
I like to think of myself as a story teller. The stories I choose to tell are ones about my family life and its little idiosyncrasies. They are snapshot moments that I have chosen, usually because they have made me laugh, or think, or cry, and I inevitably endeavour to endear my family to you using cheap tricks like black and white photography, choosing pictures only depicting angelic, smiling children and writing about moments of revelation that will twang the old heartstrings just a little. I like to see it as the finishing bow that adorns the gift-wrapped parts of my life that I have specially chosen for you. But, in being so selective, partly due to lack of physical time at the computer, and partly from a quality control point of view, I must confess that it is easy to gloss over all the bits of family life that fall in-between these blogged-about moments. It's always seemed as unappealing as drawing unnecessary attention to the month old Weetabix that is welded to the dining room chair: we all know it exists, but pointing it out means that the image that you like to portray of yourself might just slip, and, of course, once you've admitted that it's there, it’s much harder to just pretend that it doesn't exist.
As far as my life on-line goes, I am an occasional twitterer, a sometimes facebooker and part time mummy-blogger, although I confess that I find myself wincing when I hear myself placed in such a twee sounding category. When no one is likely to turn up on your doorstep and check, it’s easy to pick and choose the parts of your life that you share, and of course, should you so wish, you could lie about everything. So what exactly am I building up to confessing? Am I perhaps a toothless croon hell bent on making Justin Bieber fall in love with me? Perhaps a supermodel hiding behind the picture of a tired, slightly crazy-haired 30-something in the desperate hope of experiencing domesticity by default? Well I'm afraid it's nothing quite so extraordinary. It is actually, and rather simply, that being a mummy-blogger turns me into a big fat liar and, worse than that, it turns me into an ironic liar. It's an ability, I feel, to be able to morph into a distant, neglectful, sweet-eating machine the second I sit on the sofa with my laptop, poised for action with my fingers wiggling in anticipation over the keys. You see for each blog post that you read here, I have written at least three times as many in my head. I have an unfortunate desire to make sure that everything is done before I sit down to write, so, as I hand feed the elderly chicken currently living in my shoe cupboard, I write all about school Nativity plays; and as the vacuuming is being done, I am telling you about how I am waiting for a single signature on a piece of paper that will end 4 years of battling to provide Dominic with his basic right to be able to be part of the family; and by the time I have finished and then picked up the children, done homework, after school activities and ticked off basic essentials like feeding, washing and disappointing them, it is time to attempt to have a conversation with Roger before he tries to get some sleep and I find myself clearing up for the night with the realisation that these conversations with you once again have been lost in the simple act of parenting.
The fact is, and do feel free to revel in the irony, that the very act of sitting down to write about parenting completely eradicates any ability I have to parent. Blogging turns me into a terrible mother. The terrible truth behind this blog is that, as I am in the act of writing about my superstar children being spectacular and amazing in a variety of different ways, you can guarantee that the complete lack of supervision on my part has meant that something that is probably going to take a fair amount of clearing up and perhaps a bit of 'angry voice' shouting to sort out is boiling over in the room next door. Even though I know that the very second I sit down at the computer is the same second that an impulse is sent to a small child's brain to start a fight with their sibling, I still remain optimistic enough to try to do it anyway. After all, as I cast my eye over the glittering array of blog in the parenting sections, and more remarkably in the special needs parenting sections, I can see a vast array of mothers that seem to manage to dash out a wonderful blog post, while the cakes are in the oven and their small child is embarking on an ambitious craft project involving glitter and glue, a combination that has been banned in my house since glitter-gate of 2008. There is also time to throw in the odd political campaign and maintain an impressively always-online twitter identity with a trillion followers or so. I'm exhausted even trying to keep up with the activity, let alone match it. Don't get me wrong though, not being one to accept 'it's just not possible' with anything other than the determination of someone intent to prove everyone wrong, I do try really, really hard to ignore my children for as long as I possibly can, but eventually (i.e. about 5 minutes) a child will scream and, after the glass has stopped vibrating in the windows, there will be an angry (and rather over acted) "I'm going to tell mummy" announced to the offending sibling before the wounded party appears with a well rehearsed nasally whined rendition of the hideous sibling crime that has just occurred. This sporadic interaction with whichever one of them feels most put out then continues until I just give up trying to write anything and go grumpily about my business, or I shout loud enough that every living thing within 100 metres stops and looks at the mad shouty lady (even the chickens in the garden give a quizzical "buuuuuuuuuuuuck" as they wonder whether a giant squawking hen is loose in the house).
But it's not the children's fault
for being inconsiderate little so-and-sos, it's mine. I just can't be a blogomaniac and be a parent, and with no parenting, arguably there is no blog. So instead I remain a slightly frustrated occasional blogger, when my life doesn't have a headache. No doubt it takes an extraordinary amount of energy and perhaps a hefty dose of caffeine to pull off both an active blog-life and to simultaneously parent at the same time (and by parent I don’t mean by relying on the strangely hypnotic powers of Sponge Bob to babysit). To be honest, these days I rarely manage a spring in my step unless I'm hurdling kittens darting across the floor in front of me, or I happen to tread on a piece of Lego. So how do other bloggers seem to be able to write about parenting and actually parent at the same time? I mean yes, of course, I could let the children drown under a tidal wave of various varieties of fur [and feathers and cat litter] by sacrificing the vacuuming, or perhaps leave the dirty dishes for the dextrous tongue of a cat or dog to clean, but actually writing at the same time as I am actually interacting with my children is a gift that I am afraid I am not blessed with. Of course there is always the possibility that I just need enough physical distance from the children in order to actually be able to write nice things about them, although I think it's more likely that the creative part of my brain just doesn’t like to be rudely interrupted by gritty reality when it is working hard at trying to filter everything through my subconscious’ automatic soft focus filter. My brain has, after all, taken quite a vacation from what most people would term as actual use, and so I have to be fairly gentle with how I challenge it these days. Whatever the reason for my failure to churn out posts, it does mean that I'm intrigued, and rather jealous when I see other people doing it without breaking a sweat.
Among those I have come across, there are some stand-out powerhouses of parenting blogging , a few of whom I am lucky enough to interact with. But these are no ordinary women, they manage to blog with the ease that men scratch their testicles and carry impressively large social identities on both twitter and Facebook and even have time figure out what the hell Google+ is all about. And all of this with the added complexities that having a disabled child gives them. I could magnanimously just admit that I am a plodder rather than a powerhouse and these people are just inhumanly good at it (and might even wear their underpants on the outside of their trousers), but I'd rather believe that in reality they just duct tape all their children to the wall opposite the TV and just throw cheesy puffs at them occasionally for the sake of a little bit of peace and quiet. Although I have a sneaking suspicion that this kind of parenting technique only happens in my house.
To their credit though, my children haven't yet called social services on me, and generally seem to like playing together in their own quirky way, at least until blood is shed. In my defence I have attempted to find a way around this by writing in between being a parent (and I use the term parent in the loosest sense here) so as to spread the neglect out a bit. I tend to prefer to write without anyone around, so I either neglect the pile of paperwork (that, yes, is still there), or the housework that doesn't threaten the immediate health of the family, and write while they are at school. Alternatively, I just don't sleep much, which ensures that I maintain a certain zombie chic that makes people wonder about what interesting after-hours activities I must get up to, which is an irony that only someone else who also has no discernable social life could truly appreciate.
There is, however, arguably one advantage to my failings as a blogger and a parent; something that, as unpleasant and deeply irritating as it is, is better than the best therapist's couch money could buy. Real life. The thing that seems to curse us or kiss us depending on what mood it's in, but teaches us the biggest and most important lessons about ourselves and those around us. Real life is the courageous child written about by their proud parent and the Weetabix stuck on chair that they're sat on. My warring children, intent on getting one up on their sibling and utterly intolerant of any perceived injustice, are the best levellers you could hope for. You see, siblings don't let disability get in the way of being a git, making you fight for what you want and having to negotiate and reason with the enemy. They're not constrained by fears of not being politically correct or of people thinking that they are picking on the disabled kid, because the disabled kid is giving as good as he gets. Elliot and Lilia see Dominic as their occasionally annoying little brother, and treat him accordingly, which is just what he needs. At home, among the noise and chaos, he is a perfect third of three siblings: as snotty, stubborn and self-righteous as the other two. He gets to be his own person here and, in the absence of an adult to rescue him, argues the point on his own terms. Such moments, before I intervene to prevent actual bloodshed, are the few precious times when no one is there to remind the people around him to tiptoe around his feelings or make compromises for him. Indeed, with each scream that erupts from him in defiance and outrage, he gets his chance to practise fighting to be heard among his siblings and to assert, with as much force as his little body can muster, that his opinions and needs are seen as being as important as everyone else’s. I probably don't need to point out that, as things currently stand, this is a necessary lesson in survival if he is ever going to stand a chance of shouting loudly enough to be heard in society as he grows up.
So, in my role as a part time blogger and neglecter of small children, I take my hat off to those people who efficiently manage to juggle the art of writing whilst making sure that noses are wiped and a wholesome meal is in the oven (the recipe for which will of course be posted with fabulous pictures). For now, certainly I'll continue writing when I can put my parenting role down for a second or two or when I manage to bribe my children to leave me alone for a long enough period without causing actual bodily harm to each other. And, of course, I have no doubt Dominic will carry on resenting being one of three monster children in those moments where Elliot and Lilia seem at their most frustrating and impossible, without ever realising what an amazing gift a sibling can be and how very lucky he is to have them to scream at.
Author’s afterthought: Having just picked up three children from school, all of whom are suffering from a severe case of end-of-term-itis, and having given serious consideration to leaving them all at the roadside to wail at the back of my rapidly departing car rather than at me, I reserve the right to forbid anyone (particularly Roger) from printing this out and smugly waving it my face at any point in the future when my children are being little
shits monsters. I do not need help recognising that on these occasions I am unlikely to see any part of their behaviour as a gift. Thank you.
I'd love to know how other bloggers achieve a balance between living your life and blogging it. At what point do you shut down your laptop and decide that your priorities lie elsewhere?
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I have to say I LOVE your posts…you may be like me only an occassional blogger(I too dont know how they do it!) but what you lack in quantity you more than make up for in quality..your style of writing is great,much much better than mine,you have a real talent and I look forward to reading every post! :o)
Thank you for sharing these 'snapshots' of your life.
thats the best blog i have ever read amazing and what a fab gift you have , look forward to reading more in a few months when you have time to blog again xxxxx
That is praise indeed Patsy, thank you. Hopefully it won't take me months to get around to the next post, but hey, you never can tell…
Thank you Caroline, much appreciated x
All my married with children cousins blog, twit and facebook when their kids are asleep. It seems the most convenient time to have a little time for yourself when your parenting duties are not on the way. Another thing i keep hearing from multiple sources is to ocupy your child/children with something, whether it is a game or a TV show so you could sneak in some extra me time into your busy day. I also hear there is no perfect parent and there is no perfect balance. For more fun ideas head to occupy your kids head <a href="http://www.peelandstick.com/En/Fun.aspx">here</a>
True, but I think that I'm just a slow writer, or perhaps a slow editor as I write what I want to say very quickly, it's making it make sense to everyone else that takes the time!
Thanks for the reply, I'll take a look at the link
Fabulous – again 😉
I haven't had much time or inclination to Blog in ages… too sleep deprived for one (unlike you I do not function well with little sleep!) and my dear Mother in Law informed me my efforts were a "load of rubbish", which did slightly put me off sitting and typing! However when I did write more regularly I too had to make that tough call between benign neglect of all things I *should* be doing to seize the opportunity to do something I *wanted* to do. Something which defines me every bit as much as all I do each and every day. That small part of my moth-balled brain occasionally screams to be let out, and I fervently believe denying it completely would make me a far less considerate and functional person all round.
I still write, just that no one gets to see it – for now!
I wondered what had happened to your blog, don't let your MIL get to you. Write a post about interfering MILs! I hope you start sharing your thoughts with a wider audience soon, I miss knowing what's going on, and would love to introduce you to some fabby bloggers who have children on the autistic spectrum x
PS I would still love to know how to build a WordPressblog and copyright my pictures, though 😉 x
The pictures I do on photoshop, the blog took a looooooooooooooooooot of reading and making mistakes! There are templates that you can use that set everything up though. If you want the ability to play around you want to download wordpress.org you'll need a host and a domain name, or just the basics and it's wordpress.com x
Hahaha! Good question. Usually it's the point where my husband yells at me and I realise I can't get away with it anymore….. until next time anyway 🙂
It's worth bearing in mind though, that social media is an advertising tool that allows us all to present our lives exactly in the way we want others to perceive them, therefore, usually minus the boring, gross, negative or uncool aspects. The trick is in finding the balance, because no-one is really interested in hearing about someone else's perfect life when they can get the dirt on someone else's life that's falling apart – now that's something we can all relate to.
All those amazing capable, wholesome seeming people have their own skeletons in their closets – they just choose not to share them.
A sterling bit of advice I read somewhere once in some random Guide To Happiness, was: Stop comparing your life/self to others. Once we catch ourselves doing it, and stop, it's easier to be happier with what we've got.
Great blog x
Thanks Aisha. I think that it's more a fascination with how on earth people can juggle so many balls and still parent. I'm secretly hoping that there is a nifty bit of software out there that does all the hard work for you… either raising kids or following what is going on in various social media outlets, i'll take either 🙂
I think it's healthy to analyse what we do in order to improve and learn from mistake, but I agree that if you compare yourself to others only to then chastise yourself for failing, then that isn't good for the soul.
Appreciate the comment x
Brilliant as always! You made me laugh out loud – especially the part about the duct tape and cheese puffs – and you made me cry. There is such a tricky ballance, and you put into words the things that I think many of us are wondering.
The reality is that we cannot probably do it all – so post when you can steal a moment. I appologise to your lovely children for encouraging you – but I am somewhat selfish I suppose… and I just love reading your blog.
Admittedly – many of my own posts are about our lovelier moments – but sometimes it seems those emmerge when I am plodding my way though the more difficult and less shiny ones. I can't help wondering if the process of blogging has me seeing and appreciating life in a different way than I might otherwise have done. (OMG – what a rationale…Hmmmm??) I too have wondered if life is passing me by as I write about it. Seriously though, I think we are given the priveledge of noticing some very magical things about our "little darlings" … and perhaps that too makes the stressful or difficult times a little more manageable.
Thanks so much for your candor!
Yes, yes, yes Leah, I think you've hit the nail on the proverbial head. I do think that it is the act of writing about my life that makes me appreciate aspects that would otherwise get lost in a sea of family life. I nodded all the way through your reply, great insight x
You're bang on, as usual, Renata, albeit in a quite long way (yes, my get-ready-for-Christmas duties were definitely put on the side line whilst I read this). I've been thinking myself about how much of my blog (when i get the thing started – that's my problem as you know) will be my family life and thoughts 'airbrushed', and wondering how i'll strike the balance between honesty and keeping any privacy and space to process the tough stuff in life. I don't want to blog about everything that annoys me – thats for a private diary. But i do want to blog in such a way that i can reflect on the tough 'real life' stuff adn so its all about timing. More of a weekly/monthly thing than daily. In which case, finding the time to write may not be such a problem, if we wait a little before making everything public…? But yes, PLEASE lets have more HONEST blogs. Blimey, we have enough pressure on us as parents as it is without the 'hey i'm an amazing stay at home mum that makes her own jam and writes a thesis in the evening' type blogs. For those who really do that, great, you're amazing, i just can't read your blogs!
Siobhan… I can always be relied upon to happily use a hundred words were just one will do…
As far as I'm concerned, you do wear your underpants on the outside – (and not because you're sleep-deprived. Brave and wonderful blog from a brave and wonderful woman. My own blog is going to bed now to sulk! 🙂
Jandy, thankfully, for those in close proximity, my underwear is most definitely hidden, although, I’m wearing jeggings which slide down each time I bend down, so that may not be the case for long. I’m sure your blog may actually like to come and play, but if you don’t give it a chance… (i.e. you didn’t post the link to it silly) then how will we ever know?!
umm… Renata, mine's more a blogling really – short n snappy (I do a lot of snapping) and un-serious (and ungrammatical too, as you can see). Nowhere as honest as yours. I will be a regular cheerleader from now on.
But for what it's worth – and in the spirit of being brave and all – here it is.
You may blog less than others, but I am convinced that your blogging takes more time than others do – for a start, it's longer, but mostly it's of incredibly high quality and that takes time. It's so eloquent and well put that it can't just be brain-spew or "we did this and then we did that" that so many other blogs are, and I'm sure those are much quicker to splurt out onto the internet.
I don't manage to maintain my blog, and I don't even have any children as an excuse/reason, only exams. With that in mind I'm half glad you don't post more often, as then I'd spend lots more time reading it that I should be spending working.
Thanks for the wonderful reading.
Thanks Rosie. You’re right it does take a while and often it’s irrelevant once I get round to finishing it (I still have a summer holiday one sat in my drafts).
You’re very kind, thanks for taking the time to say nice things, x
There was a time when I blogged daily. It felt like it was my sanity at the time, but I think it was actually stealing it. I stopped and stepped back when I realised I was viewing everything from an "and that's today's post right there" perspective rather than just getting on with living. And now I seem to be a wave blogger – a few in a row, and then a gap.
Helps I find to remember why I blog – I read back through my old blogs and see how far we've come as a family, get discouraged by the battles we're still fighting but also remember issues which have just disappeared completely. I like to remember things have changed, especially when the neverending mundane feed drug change clothe drug change drug feed drug change thing is going on far too long.
I blog because there are other people out there who read my blog at times and tell me "me too", even if they don't end up commenting publicly. And if just one person can identify with our family, then we're not alone – and nor are they.
Cheese puffs don't work in our family (shame) but early bedtimes too. And now the cat's sitting on the only empty chair, I am surrounded by a small ocean of wrapping paper, I can't go to bed until the washing machine's finished as I stupidly put the whites on first instead of the coloured – which include the wheelchair cover – and so whilst I could tidy up and put away, sitting here, perched on one child's new coat with three new flannels under my left hip and an empty stocking on the right, the keyboard perched precariously on a table already overful of DS impedimentia, glitter pens (note to self: at the very least, remove pens from vicinity of DS before morning) and a plate full of crumbs and half a wedge of rather dry Stilton, seems like the better option. I'll regret it in the morning when whole new layers of clutter will be added to today's pile.
I blog when they're sleeping. When I'm waiting for that feed pump to finish, or for it to be time before that last drug before bed. I blog in those precious moments in the morning after the school bus has picked them up and before the day begins properly at 9 – that limbo between school time and official working day time feels like mine, even though I don't officially work. I blog in the middle of the night when I'm waiting for the Midazolam to work. And then, I don't blog at all. But sooner or later blogger's cramp becomes blogger's itch, and I have to sit down and write it out again. Or leave ridiculously long replies with insanely run-on sentences on other people's blog posts, generally on posts they made a while ago rather than anything particularly current.
Tia how have I not discovered your blog before. The ‘me too’ comments are the ones that I love, and yes some of the more private messages that pour out the grief of not realising that there was anyone else out there that felt the same I think gets to the heart of SN blogging. Thanks so much for your long reply, being one to not exactly be stingy with words I appreciated every word of it x
I have just found you 🙂 Great post, I am in the part time not very good blogger / neglector of paperwork and anything slightly important but can wait/ and shouty mother at times boat. When I wish to blog about the wonderful things my family don’t do together! So when do i get time to blog/or not blog… but read other peoples blogs wishing i had of actually blogged? well around about now which is what? gone midnight… ahh wel sleep is for the weak.. or the superhuman mummy wannabe bloggers 😉 x
Ahhh a mother after my own heart! I must pop to your internet spot and visit my virtual twin! Thanks for commenting, and lovely to ‘meet’ you!
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