Friday, 29 January 2016

Admitting our personal failures with our parenting can often be a tough thing to do. For me, I'm one of those people who always sees my f*ck ups. When people tell me I'm a good mum, that little voice in my head says 'yes but you didn't see me go banshee on them this morning.'
When people tell me my children are a credit to me, that voice tells me, 'but you don't know that they literally watched TV all day today.'
There is always that niggle that I am completely screwing my children up somehow. That when they are older, all their misgivings and things they fall short on will be a direct correlation of my parenting them when they were young.

I don't always try my best. Some days I know they shouldn't have two more cookies, or play another hour on the iPod. Some days I know I should stop Olive from bathing her Barbies and the whole bathroom floor, or that I really should make them have a bath. Some days I know, and I choose not to care.

Everyone has those days, I know. Except I've noticed that those moments of giving in and saying yes to placate the short term are growing closer and closer together - especially with Olive.

She seems to get away with murder. For so long, she was an adorable little toddler with a cranking attitude - and we encouraged that. We encouraged her feistiness and allowed her to be headstrong because we always figured she would need these qualities when dealing with assholes or bullies later in life. And I was proud of her determination. I relished in her ability to hold her own with the older kids. I celebrated her stubborn independence.

And now she is almost 4. She is still all of these things, plus a whole bunch more. She whinges, she moans, she cries, she says no to everything, she doesn't do as she's told, she doesn't care if she's in trouble, she won't sleep on her own, she pees where she shouldn't, she doesn't eat what she should, she refuses to use things the right way (namely the toilet - instead leaving the seat up and sitting with her butt almost touching the water!), she dances when she's meant to be eating, she walks her feet up the wall when she's supposed to be sleeping. She says 'I love you more' whenever I say 'I love you'. She runs to hug me when I collect her from kindy, she says funny things all the time, when I lie with her to get her to sleep she says, 'hug me mummy.' She sings songs while she plays. She sings songs in the toilet. She loves me painting her nails. She cuddles me and tells me I'm her bomb-diggity.

Do you see my issue? My sweet little girl fluctuates so quickly from a non-compliant 3 year old to a dear wee girl who loves to please and who beats her drum to her own tune.

I struggle with this. I struggle with discipline with her and struggle daily with the small battles. It's all very well for people to say choose your battles, but I already feel like I do! And then I reflect at the end of the day and feel like I let her get away with far too much!

I certainly remember 3 being worse than the Terrible Two's with Jaxon and Meisha, so I guess it could definitely be a case of that, but by golly I don't recall them being as defiant as Olive! I know this probably reads as a very negative post, and I suppose it is. There is a lot going on for our family at the moment.

The school holidays are almost over, and last Sunday Eddie fell off a skate ramp and shattered his shoulder blade. He requires surgery and at least three months off work. Thankfully ACC will cover 80% of his income but already being a one-income family, this is still a big blow to our daily living. Not to mention the pain he is in and his required recovery and physiotherapy after surgery.
He can't do much at all right now, and even though I will always stand by and step up, it also puts a lot more responsibility on me. Everything is down to me now - he only has use of one arm so cannot help with household chores, cannot drive, cannot pick Olive up, cannot help with bathing her, cannot lie with her to get to sleep, cannot cook, cannot even properly shower himself at the moment. -You get the point. And this is not a moan or a put down of my husband, I love him to pieces. I'm just scrambling to make sure everything is taken care of. We are getting there, and once school is back and his surgery is done, we will find our feet even more.

I guess today, after a very long week, I finally sat up and took note of the effect Olive's behaviour has on me. And it's not a good one. It is stressful and frustrating and I need to help her change it. So very soon, I think we will be bringing in a proper Time Out spot, and perhaps giving a Star Chart a go. If anyone has any other ideas, I'm all ears!

For now, I just want to get through the next few days. It has been crazy hot and humid here in Auckland, so I think swimming at Grandmas may be on the cards tomorrow. Then it's my sweet Dad's birthday on Sunday, so we will go and celebrate with cake! He is awesome and is going to have the kids that night, so I can take Eddie in to the hospital on Monday morning at 7.30am for his surgery.

And then we will make the plan for the next few days. I think taking it slow is the best bet at this stage - if I think too much about all the things that need sorting and addressing, I think I might just cry!

And right now, I am going to go and kiss this beautiful little face and whisper in her ear, "I love you more."

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Summertime and the livin's easy.....

Good old Sublime. Summer tunes, lazy days, picnics, beach, sand, sun.....all fun and games, but Summer presents a new set of issues when you have a kid with CMN. There is the very real risk of melanoma, overheating, sunburn on already very delicate skin; not to mention more body exposure with swimming and beach days, and lighter clothing.

Sunblock application should be vigilant with everyone, especially children and especially CMN skin. I have to be honest and say I still can't believe the amount of adults who let themselves get burnt to a crisp in summer. The effects of sunburn are well known in this day and age and it baffles me that people neglect to look after their bodies with a simple solution.

My children are well aware of what risks sunburn poses, both now and later in life. Five or more sunburns doubles your risk of developing melanoma. The sun is crazy hot in summer and it doesn't take long to burn. You can now get sunscreen in easy to apply spray bottles, and lots of different kinds for children and adults alike. Don't forget the good ol' kiwi mantra of Slip, slop, slap and wrap! Slip on long sleeve light clothing or under shade. Slop on some sunscreen. Slap on a hat. And wrap on some sunnies.

We use a children's water babies sunscreen with an SPF of 50 for Olive and the kids. We reapply throughout the day, and they all must wear a hat in the sun. Thankfully school and Kindy apply this rule too and the kids actually aren't allowed outside to play unless they have their hat. We also encourage them to spend time inside or under shade in the middle of the day (it is school holidays here at the moment).

We just came back from a holiday at our good friends beach house and man, the weather was amazing! Kids were at the beach every day, they got to go on the boat and on the sea biscuit. They absolutely loved it, as did we. We also went to the beach the other day with the fam and again we all had a blast.
Olive's in the phase of changing her clothes 15,000 times a day at the moment and with beach visits this only increases ten fold. We've had quite a few times now this summer where she has completely stripped off on a crowded beach, and run around naked looking for more clothes. I'm still hyper aware of people staring at her back when she does things like this, and I wish I wasn't. I feel like I should have these types of circumstances under control and shouldn't give two shits if people look or not. Instead, I try to zone out everyone around me and concentrate on treating her just like I did with the other two - making a move to cover them up in order to avoid the sun and people looking at the baby booty flying past them. But in my efforts to act as calm and collected as I can, I feel I over-compensate and I worry that I act too quickly and come across as ashamed or embarrassed by my child. Or I worry that I take too long covering her up, making it look as though I'm trying to show her off.

Then I worry about these small instances well after they are said and done - I guess I feel like I should have this down to a tee now and that things shouldn't worry me anymore. But the more I think about it, the more I realise this is merely our 4th summer with Olive and only our 2nd or 3rd where she's done things like undressing herself and running around the beach.
So I AM still learning. I'm learning to just get on with it and trying to block out the thoughts of whether people are looking or not. I mean, even if they ARE looking - who cares? If they want to ask me about it, I'm more than happy to engage with them for an hour or two and tell them all I know about CMN! (Haha!)

I guess these types of issues are my own issues and stem from my own lack of self confidence. I hate being the centre of attention and don't like all eyes on me at all - how I got through my wedding day, I'll never know!

I don't want to teach my girls my insecurities though. I want them both to be more confident than I ever was, and embrace and love themselves more heartily and fully than I ever did. But how do I teach my children these things when I'm only just discovering these things myself now, at the ripe old age of 31?

Parenting gets much more 'conscious' as you venture out of the baby stage. It's easy enough to do all the things like feeding, changing, burping, playing etc when they're little and then suddenly you realise they are little people and a huge portion of who they will be comes down to you and the morals and lessons you teach them. That's a huge responsibility! And one that, in my opinion, comes with conscious thinking and careful consideration. And I'm not doing the greatest at coming up with all of the solutions right now! I suppose it is a work on progress and one of those lessons that it ongoing.

Speaking of ongoing, as you all know Olive has ongoing care in regards to her nevus. She has annual check ups at the hospital with the dermatologist who checks her nevus for changes (much like regular mole checks) and monitors her in general, in regards to her CMN. Tomorrow morning we have her appointment, which I'm sure as all the other CMN parents know, invokes it's own anxiety in it's own right. Even though Olive is absolutely fine, and is bright and clever and learning so much, there is still the niggle that there is something gone undetected by me and Eddie. I suppose this is also something I will get used to each year as these appointments arise, and hopefully in years to come the nerves will be a lot more settled before each one!