What do you think mum? Is this normal for her?
2 March 2018 | Tamsin Kingsley
‘What do you think mum? Is this normal for her?’, the doctor asks. As far as I can remember, over the last few months of hospital life, 2 doctors and 1 physio have asked my name. I have learnt the names of about 20 nurses, but to them I’m ‘Isabelle’s mum’. It’s as though my identity disappeared overnight, or at least changed significantly. From the moment they put my slightly blue, slightly gross and slimy baby on my chest after 26 hours of labour, I have been mum, responsible (along with Dan, my husband) for keeping first one and then two tiny human beings alive and well, and vaguely happy and entertained if at all possible. For anyone who doesn’t know I am mum to Lauren (2 and a half and typical) and Izzy (9 months and has Down Syndrome). It is a job from which there are no evenings off, no days off and no holidays. Sure I’ve had time away, days, nights, even the odd weekend*, but no amount of time or distance takes away that overwhelming sense of responsibility (which you may be relieved to hear is now accompanied by a lot of love).
*Not yet with Izzy but we’ll get there.
This is what it is to be a parent. This is why parents hang out with other parents, become incapable of conversing on any other subject than their little darlings and often appear to become suddenly altered in taste, interests and enjoyments. Dan and I love food and eating out, and would previously have enjoyed looking for well priced good food in a pleasant atmosphere. We now rate a cafe or restaurant on the number and type of high chairs, what if any toys/ colouring is available and the all important noise levels (loud enough to drown out a toddler tantrum essential) with bonus points available for soft play or an outside play area. When driving through a new town I find myself clocking all the play parks ‘just in case’. And holidays take on a whole new meaning…lots of fun but zero relaxation.
I am not ‘just’ a parent; it doesn’t define me as a person and it is not all I’m interested in talking, reading and writing about. However, it is a big part of my life and seems to creep into every aspect of it.
I guess this is why parents blog about being parents. I’ve seen a lot of parenting blogs and articles, and it seems to me that many fall into one of two categories. The first is written by the creative, crafty and energetic mum, and is full of ideas of fun and educational activities, sensory play and healthy kid friendly recipes. I have nothing whatsoever against such blogs, and have nothing but admiration for mothers who are able to constantly come up with ideas of what to do with their kids. I read them, feel inspired for about 10 minutes during which time i daydream about all sorts of creative activities… Yet somehow the next day we end up playing with duplo and visiting the park…again. I think it is really good to push yourself as a parent, and I do try to think of and execute new ideas, but I’ll never be the one inspiring others with my creativity!
The other type of mummy blog seems to be written to encourage mums who don’t feel like they are doing a good enough job (in theory a great thing to do). However they often seem full of assurances that as long as their child is alive and well, who cares if they’ve watched CBeebies for 10 hours solid- at the end of the day you’ve all survived the day and you deserve a big glass of wine and the opportunity to moan about your kids to your mummy friends. The authors often talk about their kids in derogatory and inflammatory terms for the sake of humour. Whilst they can be quite funny, as a naturally fairly grumpy and moany person (never! I hear you cry) I don’t think it’s helpful for me to read or write in this sort of negative way.
I don’t really know what I’m going to blog about. I know that my life at the moment is dominated by hospitals and appointments, and learning to care for a child with complex needs, so I imagine this will come through in what I write. I have lots of thoughts about parenting generally, but also have plenty of other interests, not least being cooking and growing vegetables. My faith in God also impacts every part of my life, and I know influences my views and opinions, so that’s sure to come across too.
I feel that I need to write to process what has been happening in my life, particularly in the last year. I don’t really mind if anyone reads it or not, but my hope would be that I might be able to help someone who might be going through similar or who can simply identify with something I write.
As for the name of the blog, it’s based on a Chris Rice song, ‘Lemonade’. Everyone knows the phrase ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ encouraging people to make the best of a bad situation. But this is not how I want to see or live my life. I rather consider that life has given me lemonade, sometimes a bit sharp or bitter with the occasional stray pip but also sweet, refreshing and entirely enjoyable. And I love lemonade!
I am a 30 year old living in Leeds with my husband and two children. I am a full time mum and carer to Lauren, 4.5 years and typical, and Izzy, 3 years with Down's Syndrome. Izzy has complex health needs mostly due to her low muscle tone, and struggles with feeding and breathing, resulting in tons of appointments and hospital admissions. Both children are happy and full of life, and our family all love each other very much.
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