Second-best blues: how it feels to be the least favourite parent

Second-best blues: how it feels to be the least favourite parent

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I was inspired to write this post after the J had a crying fit because she didn’t want Mummy to put her to bed. She only wanted Daddy. And I have to say, it hurt my feelings (I may have the beginnings of PMT today, but I still feel this is a justified response).

We as Mothers don’t often have to play second-best with our children. In the traditional family model, it was the Mum who primarily looked after the kids (and so got to be the favourite) – it was certainly like that when I was growing up. These days things are very different and have certainly changed for the better in terms of shared parental duties etc. I always wanted Grump and I to have equal responsibility for the J and he is a very ‘hands on’ dad (I don’t like this phrase, as it implies that being ‘hands on’ is extra special and not just part of his job as a father, but you get my gist).

As Grump is a teacher, he has more time off than the average father to spend with our daughter. This works well for me, especially with freelancing, as it means I can take on more work in the school holidays, with free childcare to boot!

However, I have noticed that during those times when I am working more and Grump is in charge, the J goes off me. She constantly asks for Daddy, runs to him for cuddles and just seems disinterested in me.

She did this once before at around age 1. I vividly remember being at a friend’s son’s 1st birthday party that had a children’s entertainer. All the Mums were sat on the floor with the children, singing and joining in and the dads were stood at the side chatting. I tried to sit with the J, but she wasn’t having any of it. She wanted Daddy. And so I took on the role of a spectator with the other Dads and felt really left out. It hurts when you are not wanted. Granted it was nice to have a break and scoff down some party food, but I was embarrassed when every time I tried to pick up or cuddle my child she cried. I had spoken to a friend about this problem beforehand and she came up to me after the party and said that she had no idea how bad it was. Of course, over time things got better. Grump went back to work and Mummy was favourite again. But that party always sticks in my mind. I wonder if this is how many Dads feel on a regular basis?

As she has got older (now almost 17 months), the J has become more confident and now has close relationships with Grandma, Granny and her childminder. She is happy to be left with them, as well as myself and Grump. As her affections are split between more people, she tends to be happy with whoever is happy to play with, feed or cuddle her.

Over the last week or so, Grump has broken up on school holidays and he has become the firm favourite. I think this might also have something to do with the fact that he gives her more treats (fruit juice from his glass, chocolate etc), whereas I am perhaps a bit more strict (water only!!).

Tonight, it was me who spent 20 minutes singing songs with her, throwing balls down the hall way, and getting splashed during bath time. When we tried to get her ready for bed she kept running off and wouldn’t get dressed. Grump was unsuccessful at getting on her PJs and he admitted to me that it had taken him half an hour to get her dressed this morning. I decided to show him what I normally do, which involves firmly holding her down and putting clothes on her.

She cried a little, but nothing major and then Grump put his arms out for a cuddle and said “Horrible mummy”. Now I know he was joking, but the J is taking everything in at the moment and understands a lot. She looked at me with a heartbreaking stare as if to say, “I don’t like you”. Then she wouldn’t come to me for a cuddle. I had to tell Grump to leave the room and force a crying child to be cuddled until she had her milk and settled down. Not fun at all.

The only way I can describe that feeling is when you were younger and you fancied/had a massive crush on a boy, and you found out that they didn’t like you back. That sad sinking feeling. Your affections are not returned.

But when you’ve carried a baby for 9 months and gone through labour, you expect to get the best cuddles and kisses from your child – not Daddy who didn’t go through any pain (apart from a squashed hand). It’s not fair.

Now I’m sitting on the sofa, feeling put out. The answer…?

There isn’t one, except the knowledge that at some point the tables will turn and I will be her favourite again. Although it makes me sad to think that Grump will feel like this at some point, or has done in the past. Being number two just isn’t fun. A big shout out to all the Dads or Mums out there who know how I feel. But when they do run to you for a cuddle or desperately call you name, that feeling is so amazing and special that it makes all the other tough times worthwhile.

 

Women at Work: Marketing & PR Manager

Women at Work: Marketing & PR Manager

 

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Nicola with her son RLT, who is 10 months old

Ever wondered what it’s like to work part-time in marketing and PR, as well as raise a child? First-time mum Nicola tells all about her return to work after having her son…

 

Name: Nicola Crabstix from iamcrabstix.com

Current profession: Marketing & PR Manager

Town or county you live in: Durham

How did you get into Marketing & PR?
I was originally a marketing and student recruitment manager where I was in charge of marketing and sales for an education establishment. However, the business strategy changed five years in; we went from recruiting students regionally to nationally and my job got MASSIVE. Like 55 hours a week massive. So they split the department in two and I took the marketing side as it was more strategic and a better fit for what I prefer to do!

Briefly describe a typical day at work…
There isn’t one! Depending on where we are in the recruitment cycle I could be writing copy, redeveloping a website, sitting in meetings to plan new courses, project planning recruitment campaigns or art directing photography for recruitment campaigns.

What is the best part of your job?
That no day is the same!

And the worst?
Always being the bad guy. Because with marketing there are infinite possibilities of what you can do, everyone has ideas, but sadly my job is to do what has maximum impact within the resource we have. Because many of the things I do can’t be seen such as SEO, I tend to spend half of my life justifying my existence. I take it to heart every single time too, as I know how much effort I’ve put into my job and the sacrifices I’ve made.

How many children do you have?
I have one, a little mini gent called RLT. He is 10 months old.

How old was your child when you went back to work?
RLT was eight and a half months. I went back on 3rd March 2017.

How did you find going back to work after having a baby?
I’m still adjusting. My maternity leave cover vanished about three weeks before I returned and my graphic designer left while I was off, so I’ve got a massive black hole of 10 months of information. It’s been so hard as I have to hit deadlines, but there is 10 months strategy missing. I could cry most days.

Did you go back to the same job? Or consider a career change?
I went back to the same job. Work have been pretty great approving my flexible working, I’d consider early retirement if it were an option, but not a new career.

Who provides childcare for you?
I work full-time but compressed hours over four days, my mum has RLT three of those and my partner has him the other day. He is a journalist, so having weekend cover is great for his business and also good for our family!

Was it easy to negotiate flexible working/returning to work?
My boss was great; I discussed flexible working with him informally and he agreed instantly. I never had a ‘return to work’ meeting that I know other people had. I’m not sure why.

Would you say your attitude to work has changed since having a baby?
I tried to not get so frustrated by it and leave it at work. That lasted about a week. My third week back someone had a go at me for simply doing my job and said I’d come in to something at the end because I was off ‘bearing children’ and made me feel like I wasn’t committed to my job because I’d chosen to have a family. I called in sick the next day; I got very upset by that.

What advice would you give to mums on maternity leave?
Enjoy every second. You don’t have to go out and spend loads of money, just appreciate the everyday things. Oh and get a cleaner, you’ve got better things to do!

 

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Nicola’s advice for new mums is to enjoy maternity leave and get a cleaner!

 

Grumblings of a Granny

Grumblings of a Granny

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This is not actually my mother, but I thought it would annoy her to include a photo of a ‘Granny’ as an old lady! Pic credit: Alex Harvey/unsplash.com

Preface

My Mum, the J’s Granny has expressed an interest in writing a guest blog post for me. I have decided to let her write what she wants, even though most of it is a passive-aggressive dig at me and my mothering skills. We have come to a happy-ish conclusion that she will continue to interfere/nag me and say things like, “We didn’t do that in my day” and I will tell her to sod off when it gets too much. It seems to be working for now. So here is her first-ever blog post, titled Grumblings of a Granny by Granny Pip (have no idea why she is Pip, this is not her name, her name is Jane…).

Grumblings of a Granny

What a wonderful gift a grandchild is. I thought that as a trained Nursery Nurse (now well retired) I would be well equipped to cope as a new Granny. How wrong could I be. So much seems to have changed in the intervening years, for example:

  • Sleeping: No longer do you put your baby to bed in a cot with warm blankets and covers. Everyone seems to use these grow bags with no covers at all. I grew tomatoes in a grow bag!

  • The pram: I was looking forward to proudly pushing my grandchild around the village in a Silver Cross, a good solid upright pram that is built to last. Oh no, G had her mind set on a three-wheeled, all-terrain contraption that seems to do everything in every position for every age. However, I find kerbs are a nightmare and it leaves lots of mud in the back of my car when folded up (that in itself is quite an achievement). To be fair, you would have never got a Silver Cross in a car.

  • Bottles: Well that can’t have changed much, I thought. Dream on. We made up the bottles in the morning for the day ahead and kept them in the fridge, which is definitely not recommended now. G has an expensive machine that makes up a bottle when required, heats the water to the exact temperature, mixes the milk powder and produces the perfect bottle ready to use. Pity it doesn’t wash the bottles up as well and make the tea! Now that would be handy.

  • Snacks: These are another eye opener. In my day (she hates me saying that) a snack was a Farleys rusk and not much else. Now you can get all types of puffs, biscuits, wafers, etc, in all flavours and shapes. I have found one I rather like, a carrot-flavoured stick thing that looks like a Wotsit. I had to try them first and unfortunately made my way through half the packet before J got a look in. And why is it, when the J has lunch at my house it happens to be spaghetti bolognese, which she duly flicks across the room in all directions, landing on my white table cloth. Thankfully, a spot of Vanish got her out of that one.

I have so many stories and so little space. But I will say I am loving having a grandchild and all that it entails, and I promise to listen and learn (again) how to bring up a child.

A letter to my daughter

A letter to my daughter

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With the New Year just beginning, I started to think about my hopes, fears and wishes for my daughter and our family. I looked back at the amazing whirlwind of a year that was 2016 and realised that we are going to do it all again this year. Rather than write down a list of New Year’s resolutions that I probably won’t keep, I decided to write a letter to my daughter instead. Life with a baby/toddler/child changes so quickly, so I wanted to get down how I am feeling right now: mother to an almost 11-month-old, just starting out down a new career path and still adjusting to this new life with a wonderful little person it in.

To my darling daughter,

Here it is your very first letter. Hello little one, it’s your mum. I am writing this letter to let you know how much I deeply and truly love you and have done from the minute we met. We were both pretty dazed and confused at that moment, but I held you close and knew we would be ok.

Having you has changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. Being a mother has tested me to my limits – emotionally and physically – but it has also bought me more joy than I thought was possible. I’ve gone through almost every emotion: guilt, fear, sadness, laughter, happiness and contentment.

You amaze, frustrate and challenge me every day. You are wilful, stubborn and fascinated by everything, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. At times, you cause me great stress, but then you flash that beautiful smile and my heart melts.

Being your mum has made me a better person. I’m gentler, kinder and more empathetic, especially to mothers with babies/children in coffee shops and restaurants. Before you, I had little patience for their crying babies and unruly children. Now that I have joined the ‘club’ I get it. Motherhood is hard. And it’s worse when you decide to kick off in public. No mother deserves those cold, judgement stares from others. We deserve a medal and a large glass of wine!

You’ve made me realise that there is more to life than how I look, what I’m wearing and what other people think of me. Who cares if there’s sick in my hair or if I’m not wearing the latest fashion (I was never going to rock a crop top, let’s face it). I’m more comfortable in my own skin now and I’m pretty blooming impressed with what my body can do. Growing a baby and then giving birth is no mean feat.

The bond we have is unbreakable. I would do anything to protect you. You have bought out a ferocious, protective instinct in me; a strength I didn’t know I possessed.

You’ve made the love for my husband (your daddy) and family so much deeper, just by seeing how much they love you makes me love them more. You’ve bought together our families and made us all smile. Thank you for being so gorgeous, so cute and cuddly and funny. You make me laugh each and every day.

I want everything for you: love, happiness, success. I want you to be kind, patient and caring. To look out for others and care for your friends and family (and don’t put me in a nursing home when I am old and decrepit). I want you and I to share the same close bond that I share with my mother and that she shared with her mother. I want to be your protector, your confidant and your rock.

This past year has been a real rollercoaster and I can’t wait to find out what 2017 will bring. You have a whole world of possibilities ahead of you and I hope every second of your life is bloody brilliant. For every moment that I am there by your side I will do my best to make you happy.

Lots of love from your number one fan, your mum. xxx