Monday, 27 February 2012

Crocodile, crocodile

For the past two months, every day that C has gone to school I've worried that he might not make friends, or worse still - he might be bullied. Am I a bad mother for leaving him there and swanning off to the office?

Today my mind was put at rest - for about a minute.

C came home full of the joys of playing with his "best friend" in the playground. He told me over and over again how he, S (girl), D (boy) and B (girl) had played "crocodile, crocodile" (which sounds the same as a game of British Bulldog). After a while though, he was talking more and more about S.

"D is my friend. But S really is my friend so D has to be friends with the others as well". Oh right.
"And S is teaching me to skip". Lovely!
"And I waved at S in assembly this morning". How nice.
"And me and S go in turns to be crocodile". Ah, sweet.
"But S isn't in my class". Oh?
"She's not even in nursery at all". Erm - okay...
"She's in the big girl school". What?!

Turns out that my son who just turned 3 and has spent only 2 months in school is "courting" an older woman. S is in the junior school (albeit I admit she could be in Reception) and ever since day one when she looked after C in the playground they've become close friends.

On the one hand I'm so pleased that C is making proper friends and playing well. On the other I'm a little surprised at a friendship with such a big age gap at his age. His father however is slapping him on the back for it  (!) so perhaps at this stage I'll just remain on the fence and be happy that C has some friends his own age and also someone older who can look out for him in the playground.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Do not throw up on your CEO...

Today I achieved two things of note:

1) I managed the global press communications around my company's financial results
2) I managed not to be sick on my CEO and all over his car (but only just).

Today we told our investors and the press how the business did over the last year. This always culminates in me working a 15 hour day the day before and then going straight into a 6am start. It's never really been a problem before as it's planned and I used to make sure I had early nights the week before and caught up on sleep afterwards. However, this time round it was a bit different and that was reflected in my health!

I've always suffered from car sickness but it does tend to get worse the more tired I am. Having been up for a few hours every night for the past couple of months with E and spent my "downtime" running around after C, with hindsight I didn't really stand a chance.

The day started well and progressed at speed as we ran through calls, presentations, tv slots, etc. We then had 25 minutes to do a 30 minute journey across town. That's where the fun began. Our driver was trying to make up the time and started dodging and weaving through the traffic. Start, stop. Start, stop, Start... urgh. My CEO began shifting about nervously in his seat. I began breathing heavily to hold the sickness back. The driver wound the windows down.

The question on our lips was - would we pull up at our destination in time or would the CEO end up wearing my lunch?

Lady luck was smiling down on me as we pulled over just in time. The driver literally leapt out of his seat and opened the door for me so I could tumble out (full of grace as always!) and take a big gulp of air.

My CEO's suit survived this time but I wonder how keen he'll be to get back in a car with me?

E needs to start sleeping through the night - and quickly!!


Monday, 20 February 2012

Schizophrenia

So my conclusion after being back in the rat-race for a month now is that being a working Mum is like having your own special type of schizophrenia.

On the one hand, I love being back in the midst of business, dressing up smart again and making decisions. I'm proud that I can develop ideas that will make a difference to people and I love being up-to-speed on current affairs.

On the other hand, I love that when I'm with the boys they wouldn't care less if I walked round in my dressing gown all day. I'm proud of the fact that C was picked to be "Mother Duck" at school and got to do the "quack quack's" in the song, and it's relaxing to know that as long as I can come up with an answer to why Postman Pat doesn't change out of his work clothes when he gets home but C has to change out of his school uniform - it really doesn't matter if I'm struggling to form an opinion on the latest political policies.

The tricky part is not letting these two personalities overlap. When I've had a tough day at work all I want to do is flop down on the sofa with a glass of wine. What I actually do is put a smile on my face and play robots or pirates until bath and bedtime.

When I've had a tough time with the children all I want to do is flop down on the sofa with a glass of wine. What I actually do is put a smile on my face and crack on with the latest campaign.

While it's a tough juggling act, I do think it helps make me a calmer person in both lives. The challenges and issues that would seem so important if I was only doing one of my "jobs" balance each other out, meaning that I gain some perspective.

So the big question then is - when do I get that glass of wine?!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Welcome to Holland

This morning the portage representative came to see us. Whilst prior to her visit we'd been worked up that it had taken so long for E to enter the system, we're now just so glad it's finally happened.

There's a stack of help available in the area for E, from therapies to play groups to swimming lessons. And support groups for parents should we want to join them.

As it's half term C was at home and he felt that he should show off his brilliance to the portage lady. So he was building lego bridges, hopping on one leg and generally showing off. This is the same boy that spent half an hour yesterday running in small circles trying to see his own back...

During the portage visit I was reminded of a short story called Welcome to Holland which is about joining the club you never wanted to join - the disability club. It sums up really well how parents tend to feel about having a disabled child and I thought I'd share.

/...

WELCOME TO HOLLAND

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Snow & wisdom

"Wisdom comes from Experience. Experience comes from the lack of wisdom". Terry Pratchet.

I was reminded of this quote this morning when a chat with C made me feel like a bit of a guru.

He was, as always, delighted that it had snowed overnight and pretty much as soon as he opened his eyes he said: "Mummy, the other night I was thinking. One thing is - is snow wet?".
 Me: "Yes".
C: "And I was thinking, is snow cold?"
Me: "Yes. And did you know that the temperature outside has to be cold for it to snow. If it was warm it wouldn't snow".
C: "Hmm. No Mummy. I didn't know that. You're very clever"
Me (a little smugly): "Well, yes..Thank you.".

Ah - the things we learn with age...

On a separate note, I think I almost lost E to the other children and Mum's in the school playground this morning. Due to the snow he was dressed up in a bear costume (looked like a little Ewok) and apparently his fans couldn't get enough of it. He of course loved the attention and held court like a pro.

Oh - and to the one and only Prada Mum who still felt that high heeled shoes and three quarter length trousers were a good way to go this morning - I'd have a rethink!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Disease & pestilence

Over the past few weeks I've been idly wondering what would happen if one of my children got sick. I.e. - how bad would they have to be for me to take time off work as opposed to asking Mary Poppins to give them a spoonful of sugar.

Well - today I found out.

We still keep a monitor in C's room as he sleeps with his door shut & I just like to keep an ear out. I think that monitor may have saved his life today. About 6.15am E and I were downstairs and I heard C coughing quite badly. I waited for him to call out but there was silence. And then there was very heavy, very laboured breathing. So I raced upstairs to find him in the middle of an asthma attack.

After about 30 minutes I managed to get him calmed down enough to breath a little more easily, took his temperature (38.5 degrees C) and made the decision to take as much time off work as necessary and get him to the doctors asap.

Then came the moment that all mother's dread. The curse of the doctor's surgery. Before getting to the doctors my children can have a temperature of 40 degrees C, they can have cried for hours and hours and be completely unable to form words. As soon as we step into the surgery something akin to magic happens. Their temperature drops to normal, the tears dry up and they appear to not have a care in the world - leaving me feeling like a complete doughnut. And this is pretty much what happened today.

We got into the doctor's room and whilst I was stuttering my way through the fact that my child had nearly died this morning, C was asking to borrow the doctor's "telescope" (read stethoscope), telling her that he didn't want any banana medicine but Calpol would be fine, and asking if she'd like him to sing Twinkle Twinkle to her.

To be fair to the doctor, she did apparently see through C's banter and we came away armed with prescriptions for various inhalers.

C continued to improve throughout the day and I decided to work in the afternoon - albeit from home.

So I guess I now know what I'd take the time off work for. Let's just hope it doesn't happen again any time soon!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A special kind of torture

Last night I found myself once again quietly negotiating with E about his sleep habits. Actually negotiating isn't the right word - more like begging.

For the last 4 weeks he's woken up between 7 & 13 times a night, finally getting up at 5.15am. K (husband) has been getting up with him in the morning when he can to try and give me an extra hour in bed - but it's not enough to function properly. (NB: thank God for make up - such a wonderful invention!!).

When I was on maternity leave the situation wasn't ideal but it was manageable. Now I'm working again - it's definitely not manageable

If a colleague asks me a question at 7am they'll likely get a considered answer and some additional suggestions. By midday they'll get a decent answer but by 5pm all bets are off.

A friend of mine happened to mention that due to the snow she'd turned her heating up and as a result her baby had slept much better. So I decided to put an extra babygro on my little man. And I think it may have changed my life. He still got up at 5.15am - but had only a couple of very short wake ups in the night. It could be a fluke - but it could be he's been cold.

On realising this I immediately started berating myself for being a bad mother. But then I stopped. I'd done everything by the book - put him the right clothes, kept his room at the right temperature and made sure his sleeping pod was the right tog level. It's just that E hadn't read the same book.

So rather than wallow in gulit I've decided to chalk this one up to experience - and rely more on instinct than books in the future.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Playground update

[Disclaimer on typos or anything that makes no sense - I've been doing budgets all day and my head is due to explode shortly!].

So - it was another trip to the playground this morning.

This time I was prepared. I showered and washed, dried & straightened my hair. I laid out my Desigual coat, my Orla Kiely bag and my heeled boots. And then I had a rethink.

I wasn't convinced that I wanted to be tottering along on heels when I may need to run after a very energetic 3 year old. And I didn't want to be wearing a ridiculously expensive coat when my 9 month decided to bring his breakfast back up.

So I ended up being clean but wearing jeans and my warm jacket again. I had cunning plan though. I was going to befriend the Prada Mum's so that they'd see past my lack of designer labels...

When we got to the playground C immediately started playing with a boy in his class so I approached his dad and introduced myself. He took one look at E in the pram and very bluntly told me he thought I was mad for having two children and hoped I had money to burn as didn't I realise I'd be spending around £50,000 on their education alone. I muttered something about not planning to buy them diamond encrusted school bags and backed off.

I was tempted to leave it there when a little boy called out C's name and his mum commented that she'd love to meet C as she'd heard a lot about him. I turned round and came face-to-face with a lady wearing jeans & a big coat (what excellent taste)! We started chatting and oddly enough a couple of the Prada mum's came over and joined in.

So this evening I very smugly told C that Mummy had made friends this morning. He asked who with and I said "J's Mummy, H's Mummy & D's Mummy". C then asked what their "real" names were and I realised I didn't know.

Ah well. One step at a time.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Mortified

Today I had one of those "it could only happen to me" moments.

As background, my youngest son has Williams Syndrome and a few months ago I was approached to become a Trustee of the Williams Syndrome Foundation - which I agreed to. Today I was officially voted in and sat in on my first Board meeting and Medical Panel meeting.

The Board meeting went well - the Foundation doesn't have much money but what it does have it uses wisely.  We then had a short break before the medical team arrived so I checked my emails and voicemails, made a quick call and decided to have a loo break before heading back into the room.

I found the unisex toilets and whilst none of the doors were open they all looked vacant. (You can start cringing now because you've probably guessed what happened). I flung open the door of the middle trap to find myself looking at one of the key members of the medical panel (I won't say which one as I should spare our blushes!). I stuttered a few words of apology, decided not to introduce myself at that point and legged it into a different toilet.

The person in question disappeared out of the loos at a fairly impressive rate and I stayed to collect my thoughts for a minute or two. I then calmly walked into the meeting room, tipped them a wink & a smile and  carried on as if nothing had happened.

So not the most impressive start I could have hoped for, but I've had worse. One day I might find it therapeutic to write about my university holiday job and the first time I met my boss there. But perhaps not today.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Mobile dry-cleaning?

So I have a question. When do I get time to do the mundane things such as dry-cleaning?

The other night I was due out for drinks after work. They were local so I rushed home in time to do bath with the boys before heading out. I should have known better but I didn't cover up my suit and the next thing I knew E had weed all over it.

No problem. It was discarded and a handy pair of black trousers were pulled on to go with my blouse. Just before I left I perched E on my lap to have a cuddle and he threw up all over my trousers (I know - will I ever learn to wear that dressing gown until the bitter end?!). Again - a quick change and I was out of the door.

So now I need to find time to get my clothes to and from the dry-cleaner before I run out of suitable attire and end up going to work in my PJ's.

There must be such a thing as a dry-cleaning delivery service. I think I'll look into it...