Sunday, 19 April 2015

Baby groups - the good, the bad and the ugly


Following on from my last post I thought I would share with you my experience of baby groups.  Here in Dubai there are hundreds of meet-up type groups targeting all sorts of people.  I guess all with the aim of helping expats make friends.

I had never attended any of these expat groups until I had ET as they never really appealed to me.  The thought of introducing myself to a group full of strangers makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little.  However when ET came along I decided to give one a go.  Partly as I thought I needed some Mum friends with babies ET's age, for ET to make some baby friends of his own (because obviously a newborn needs a big social scene...) and also because I was desperate to get out of the house and chat to someone who wasn't my husband, my 4 week old or our cleaner or myself...

So off I would trundle once a week and sit with a group of knackered new Mums, sharing war stories or basically experiencing what sometimes felt like the biggest display of one upmanship ever!!  Now don't get me wrong, I met some nice girls here.  I haven't really stayed good friends with any of them but we did socialise every now and again whilst the babies were small.  However I also met some absolute horrors!

I would spend each Thursday morning, listening to how someones birth story was either much more horrific or idyllic than mine, how their 4 week old had all of their teeth and had even said mama, had rolled and simultaneously sat up and crawled all in one hit, obviously I may be embellishing somewhat but the amount of stupid statements I heard to was really quite incredible.  The worst offenders were the, "my baby has slept though since the day he was born" type mothers.  Why oh why must these people cross our paths?  Pathological liars - there is no other name for them! No newborn sleeps through the night unless you count your wake up time as 3am?

Generally as the weeks went on, I knew which types of mum to avoid, however sometimes there was just no escaping that one 'big mummy bullshit' figure.

Like many, I went through a tough time adjusting to becoming a Mum, and these silly women had a real deep effect on me.  I started to look at my beautiful little boy thinking, why aren't you doing this, why aren't you doing that, what is wrong with you?!

It took a long while for me to realise that these groups were just not for me.  I am a pretty sensitive soul who really does need to grow a bit of a thicker skin and some balls and sometimes challenge these idiots who more often or not will say stupid things to me.  Peoples words, or the total horse shit some people spout, do sometimes have a profound effect on me, regardless of whether they mean to.

I am sometimes envious when I see people on social media, in these seemingly wonderful, mumsy groups, however I never really stop to think that somewhere in that group, there probably is the big mummy bullshit mum and the sensitive soul mum who secretly wants to gag her!

Maybe I was unlucky?  Maybe its a Dubai thing?  This place does seem to harbour a rather large proportion of knobs.  As I have said before, these groups can be a great way to meet people in a similar situation and share experiences.  However they can be very overwhelming for some people and should be avoided at all costs.  Eventually your 'normal' non Mum friends will see your bundle of joy on a good day, you will of course lie to them and tell them childbirth isn't that bad really, and they will get sprogged up too.  There is light at the end of this long tunnel that is motherhood, or I hope there is anyway!

N.b.  I did try to find an image that fitted this post - I failed - I'm sorry!! 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Baby and Toddler classes #whatwasIthinking


Last weekend I decided it would be a fantastic idea to sign ET up for a lovely mother son activity.  Mr T is away on trips for the next few weekends and I generally despise most outings at the weekend over here.  This place is getting far too busy for my liking, I think everyone has cottoned on to the fact that it rarely rains, we don't pay tax and KFC will deliver to your door.

So on Saturday morning I loaded ET into the car and we headed off to football practice, or Socatots as it is so sweetly called.

It started off so well, he climbed the million stairs to the room where his first coaching session was to take place, all on his own (in spite of my best protests).  His Spanish coach pronounced his name correctly on his first attempt (very rare in this country with my son's Welsh name) and well, those are the two positive things that I can muster up from our first attempt at football.  Remember, I am all about the positivity these days!

ET is what you would call a 'free spirit', 'strong willed', 'a bit of a handful' or sometimes  'a total pain in the arse' (some might say, not me obviously - ahem).  He does not like to follow directions, much prefers to do his own thing and will run like Forrest Gump (on speed) if he sees an open space.  Quite a joy when you are in a busy shopping centre or restaurant.  He is a typical toddler boy, full of energy and life, who sees the world around him as his own personal playground.  This is all very lovely for about 5 minutes, but when you're out in public, feeling judgemental looks burning into you, it can be a tad hard to cope with, without wine, only joking I don't get tipsy in shopping centres, not anymore anyway...

ET spent the majority of his Saturday football practice dancing solo on a nearby stage whenever he heard music, stealing all of the cones and wearing them as hats whilst shouting "it's a hat, it's a hat" at the top of his lungs, all the time refusing point blankly to go anywhere near an actual football.

I am not sure what I was expecting really.  For ET to sit quietly with the rest of the kids, listen to instructions (which in all honestly, I struggled to remember) and kick a ball perfectly as if he were the next David Beckham?  In reality I should have known this was probably going to be a disaster.  ET has never been great at baby classes.  He spent the whole of his first baby yoga class refusing to lie on his back, all of the said class involved your baby being lay on his/her back.  He was 5 months old when I first tried that out.  He spent the majority of his Boogie Babies classes playing with the wheels of prams of other children.  Some mothers get very touchy when your 9 month old dares to go near their precious Bugaboo.  I'm not sure what they thought he was going to do to it?  Perhaps steal it? Who knows?! 9 month olds can be crafty I guess...  He also once collected all of the plastic knives (and refused to play with anything else) at a teddy bears picnic at a Baby Sensory class which resulted in me being on the receiving end of pitying looks of other mothers assuming I was bringing up some sort of future serial killer.  He was actually 9 months old again at that stage, perhaps he was going through a bit of a criminal phase.  Maybe he watched too much Love/Hate once whilst his Daddy looked after him on his own...

A few months ago, our little Saturday outing would have knocked me for six.  I would have spent the next few weeks at home, reliving the experience, googling "does my nearly 2 year old have ADHD", doing lots of helpful things like that.

Now I have learned to accept that this is just who my little boy is.  A normal little boy, who loves to run like the wind and laugh like a crazy person and get into mischief and push the limits of his mother's sanity to the extreme.

I am now at that stage of motherhood where I don't really care what people think of my parenting skills.  He is nearly 2 and we have come this far - I can't be doing that bad of a job can I?!

Perhaps I will keep all knives and potential weapons hidden for a little longer, and keep an eye on him around Bugaboo's and other fancy prams...just in case!

By the way - this is how he started the day - I should have known he was in a funny mood then....

Sunday, 4 January 2015

2015 - a few home truths


Happy new year!

I went awol on most forms of social media this festive season.  It was just me and baby ET for quite a large portion as Mr T had to work (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day to be precise - ugh!) and I thought taking myself away from the festivities might make me feel like I was not missing out quite as much.

This has been my fifth Christmas away from family and friends in the UK and Ireland, and I hate to admit it but it doesn't get any easier as the years go on.  Our aim was to complete five years as expats, save up some money and return to the UK when things have picked up.  As we enter into our fifth year out in Dubai, we have nearly reached our goal and are very nearly ready to move home.

I am getting itchy feet, in reality, I think my feet started to itch straight after I landed here in Dubai.  I don't hate the place, in fact I think it is a wonderful place to live.  Its safe, there is no tax, there is lots of sunshine, amazing restaurants and bars and don't even get me started on the hotels - all future hotel stays have been forever ruined!!  However the pull of loved ones at home is really strong for me, so strong it actually makes me ache meaning that I have struggled to really find my feet here.

My goals for 2015 are to try and make what may potentially be my last year living here a happy one.  I spent a great deal of 2014 in an unhappy place.  Putting my baby to bed for the last time in 2014, I whispered to him that I promised to be a happier mummy next year.  It breaks my heart to admit it but I have been a very sad mummy over the past year.  Post natal depression - I never thought for a second that this would affect me, but it did.

On the face of it I looked as if I had everything, an amazing husband, a beautiful and healthy baby, a nice house and lovely possessions, however in reality I was in a very sad place.  Longing for company, for those who have known me for years who I can open up to and know that I will not be judged and feeling utterly hopeless that I didn't have this.  I believed that my baby and husband would be better off without me in their lives.

I struggle with opening up to people, which is not ideal when you are going through a sad time as it is opening up what helps you to get through the sadness.

Whilst I am not 100 percent through the woods, I can admit now that I hit a stumbling block and I am dealing with it.  I have a fantastic husband who I can talk to about anything and a great friend actually here in Dubai who I can talk to, who just gets it and actually listens.  When you become a mother, people are so keen to pass on their two cents when they have absolutely no idea what you are going through and how their words (which for the most part are coming straight out of their arses) can send you spiralling into despair.  People sometimes just don't listen.  Whilst mother and baby groups and talking to fellow mums is fantastic and a great way to share experiences, be careful with what pearls of wisdom you choose to take on board.  I for the most part found these groups and these chats incredibly overwhelming and leaving me feeling totally alone in the world and like the worst mother alive.

I set myself the goal a few months ago to document all the things that make me happy, to try and focus on positivity.  It did work but I found it quite draining as I really am a lazy cow sometimes and just one of those people who often sees the glass as being half empty.  I will definitely try to carry this on though, no one likes negative Nancy all the time do they?!

I am not entirely sure how this post has ended up the way it has - I was only meant to be telling you about my new years resolutions and I have ended up spilling my guts out.  It feels good to put it out there though and be able to say I am feeling better and ready to start feeling happy again.

Happy 2015 for anyone who is still reading! I hope it is a happy one :-)

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Things that make me happy - Pies


I love a good pie.  I am from the north of England so I think it is in my genes that I must like pies.

Last weekend I had some leeks and mushrooms which were starting to look a bit miserable and withered in the fridge so I decided to whip up a tasty chicken pie.  I would love to be able to post a detailed list of ingredients and an easy to follow method but my technique for pie making is a little bit slap dash.  There was a little bit of leek, mushrooms, chicken, stock, milk, crème fraîche, mustard and white wine vinegar and possibly some random herbs.  The rest was just a whole lot of luck.

I did cheat and use shop bought pastry.  Gasp! Mary Berry would be rolling her eyes like there was no tomorrow.  It still tasted pretty good though and I have a needy toddler who clings to my ankles as soon as I venture near the kitchen so I think I have a good excuse for cutting a teeny tiny corner.

So without further ado I give you my pie.  Nothing fancy, not particularly great to look at but oh so tasty.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Things that make me happy - a little beauty purchase


Whilst I was back in the UK recently I attended the wedding of a close friend of my hubby.  He is actually the one who set us up.  My old boss nonetheless.

Whilst I have no photographic evidence of my outfit, the happy couple, the venue or any part of the day whatsoever, I did manage to take a picture of the lipstick that I wore, or intended to wear.  Max factor's Lipfinity in the shade Frivolous.

I love the colour, it is a gorgeous, rich autumnal colour.  I however failed to read the instructions before applying it and just rather haphazardly wacked it on.  The end result was a little patchy and I bottled out of wearing it in the end and plumped for my usual, boring nude pink instead.

However since this initial faux pas, I have applied it properly according to the instructions on the box and it looks great.  It lasts for ages.  In fact it is an absolute bugger to remove.  The colour doesn't transfer to your teeth either which is another big bonus.

I tend not to buy many non essential makeup items these days so I thought this was definitely worthy of a little write up.

Things that make me happy - Date night


So before we ventured over to the Emerald Isle and fair old Blighty, hubby and I had a little down time sans bambino.

Our usual haunt of the local golf club was the venue and some very tasty ribs were consumed.

Here is a little glimpse of what I wore for the evening.  A casual look which I paired with my new Loubies.  The top is from Warehouse purchased many a moon ago and the jeans are a new Topshop buy which are something my pre mummy self would never have purchased.  However the super high waist on them hides a multitude of sins (i.e. saggy skin) which is a definite must for me.

I am not great at taking selfies.  I never will be.  I also have a smashed iphone which doesn't help things.  I am hoping the birthday fairy might be kind and deliver a new one.  I also do not own a full length mirror.  I really should reconsider doing these 'what I wore...' posts!!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Things that make me happy - a photoshoot


A bout of illness and a trip home saw a hiatus in this newly acquired blogging mojo of mine.

However I am back but offer no promises of daily posts as I seem to struggle to keep up with them.  Some evenings I am just too damn lazy to engage my brain and write a post.

Yesterday I dusted off my very neglected camera and took some long overdue shots of Baby ET.  He is not quite a baby anymore!!

These were taken after his first week of nursery.  Since embarking into the big scary world of education I have seen lots of changes in ET.  Some good and some not so good.  Nobody told me 1 year olds had temper tantrums.  I have been duped into believing this was what the terrible twos were about?!

The good habits he has picked up are very lovely.  He is obsessed with sharing everything with both my hubby and I.  He also now loves children of his own size, he is not quite so sure about the bigger kids yet, all in good time I suppose!

So far nursery is going well.  Baby ET seems to be enjoying himself and I am relishing being able to enjoy 3 whole mornings to myself.  I admit I sometimes feel guilty, like I am offloading ET and relinquishing my motherly responsibilities.  However deep down I know that this is the best thing for all of us and it will help us to flourish as a family.

So now I hand you over to my little handsome superstar...