Tag Archives: Age

Who is your favourite?

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I’ve seen a few articles recently, mostly tongue in cheek ones, writing about whether parents have a favourite child. I’ve always maintained that you have different feelings, concerns and love for each child, it’s a particular shape of love that’s different for each one. However, I need to flip this on its head and ask: “do your children have a favourite parent?”

I only ask, because if my children preferred me I’d probably not be writing this post. It seems perfectly natural for children to lean towards their mother, the nurturer and I wouldn’t want to write a smug post about the trials and tribulations of being the “chosen one”. I’m writing this post, because I’m not the favourite parent and it’s really hard to take.

Clearly I made some of the bigger sacrifices (I think I did). I went through IVF, I went through pregnancy, birth (or 2 emergency C-sections after 16 hour labours). I gave up work for 10 months, I bought the nursery/children’s furniture, ALL the baby paraphernalia, I worked out the routines, enforced the rules, learnt the techniques, bought the clothes, researched the activities and classes and booked them all, did all the baby weaning blah blah blah blah. This, apparently, counts for nothing when you are a young child. Daddy is the man!

It’s not even that we have a traditional family life and they see me more. Quite the opposite. I know some children look forward to seeing their working daddy because they often don’t all week and mummies are often (I’m doing a sweeping generalisation here) stay at home mums or working part time. I work 30 hours a week. I have 1 weekday with the kids but their dad is self-employed and is often around and he looks after them 2 days a week himself. He’s also pretty strict too, almost as strict as me.

I’ll be honest, it doesn’t bother me as much 2nd time around as it did first time with my daughter. With my daughter it felt like someone was stabbing my heart every time she asked Daddy to do bedtime or give her a cuddle or read a book. I was gutted. However, she goes through phases and in the last year she has requested me in certain circumstances which has been lovely. I really have learnt to live with the favouritism, she’s not doing it to be mean, she’s just exercising her agency and making decisions on how she feels at that moment. At any rate, there is little I can do about it apart from be there when she needs me.

I was quite pleased to find out I was having a boy second time around. Boys are proper mummy boys (so everyone told me). Sadly that hasn’t proved correct either. He is 18 months and completely obsessed with his father. He will see me and turn around to chase Daddy. I’ve reconciled much quicker this time around. I am hoping that much like my daughter he will eventually work out that I’m useful for some things. However, although he has greatly improved since I wrote the post here about not enjoying his age, it isn’t all bad, because there is little I can do about him hanging on to his daddy’s leg and it’s nice that I can walk away sometimes.

This wasn’t intended to be a moaning post at all, I’m a big grown up lady and shouldn’t be acting like a child in the playground, but none the less, it’s there and it’s sometimes hard to take, but I’m probably learning one of the biggest parenting lessons – they may be my children but I have no control over their needs and wants.

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Anxiety and Age

A conversation was started on my Open University degree Facebook page yesterday about Anxiety. Someone was asking for advice on how to “fight it”. It struck a chord with me because although it’s taken a long time, one of the advantages of being in my 40’s is that I’ve had a lot of time to think about what makes me tick, and I know for a fact I suffer with anxiety and it’s impossible to “fight”.

I have no idea when I started being anxious. I know I was anxious around my mother especially if she was cleaning (which she hated doing it and would have a go at us for) and to this day, if my sister or I hear a vacuum cleaner we immediately tense up. Thankfully hubby is in charge of vacuuming.

I get anxious about being on time, which means I’ve never been fashionably late. Any attempt to BE late, still results in me arriving either on time or earlier than everyone else.

I need to play every conceivable scenario of a new situation in my head (often days in advance) so I can mitigate any concerns or risks I foresee. If the plan is to go one place and the plans change on the same day, I get a little panicked. I have to think everything through in great detail. I’m not a “fly by the seat of your pants” kinda girl.

I worry about my impact on other people. Not so much saying the wrong thing because like everybody, that happens a lot and I then get anxious thinking about what I had said for days later. I worry that my children will wake someone up, annoy a neighbour with noise. I don’t have parties at my house because I don’t want my guests to keep anyone awake (although my neighbours don’t seem to have the same concerns!) I even worry if we have anyone staying who smokes who might go out the back door after 11pm to have a ciggy and talk on their mobile phone.

I worry I can’t sleep, which then becomes an issue for getting to sleep.

I worry for my children’s safety, whilst being very aware I have to give them scope to make some mistakes themselves.

My biggest worry of all — that I will look back on my life and wish I’d done something differently. That I should have moved to Australia or followed a different route with my career. Or that I shouldn’t be living where I am in London and should move out and live in a village. Of course, the minute I do that then the anxiety arrives again and I worry that could be the wrong decision too. How do people up sticks and move and know it’s the right decision??

I used to have panic attacks. They happened in my 20’s completely unexpectedly in situations that shouldn’t have been anxious. It took quite a long time to realise that’s what I was having, but once I did, I took back control and talked myself down from them. I had a few last year, not long after my son was born. Just saying out loud “Oh dear, I’m having a panic attack” makes the symptoms start to recede. I don’t give myself a hard time. I take time to let it pass and then have a think about what might have triggered it so I can address it. Easier said than done, but I can only do my best.

I sound like a nightmare, but to be honest, as I mentioned when I replied to the lady on the Facebook page, half the battle is recognising that you are anxious. I can’t change 40 years of conditioning easily (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help a bit apparently) and I am the product of my genes, my upbringing and my environment. What I can do is acknowledge my short comings, do my best to understand myself and put in place things that can help me be prepared for situations. For example: I have very social neighbours with 2 teenage daughter and all 4 of them like to have friends over for bbq’s and parties. My bedroom is at the back of the house, so even 2 people in their garden talking and I have a big problem falling asleep, so a full on party is a nightmare. I’ve talked to them (several times) about giving us notice. They have told us about 1 party and I’ve been able to stay with family elsewhere or make arrangements. They don’t always tell us, because presumably they don’t always know that a gathering will roll on pass 11pm. So as a result, I dread Summer. Whilst everyone else is wishing for sunny days and clear nights, I’m praying for rain so I don’t have to deal with a party next door. That’s pretty sad right? This year I took the bull by the horns. I ordered a single mattress that will fit under my daughter’s bed (she sleeps at the front of the house), new pillows, a single duvet (thick enough that I will be happy using it) and new sheets and covers. I’ve made it all up, duvet is covered and rolled in her wardrobe. I think I can get it all out and be lying on it in about 2 minutes. This has meant I am less worried. I have a safety net and that has gone a long way to making me less anxious.

Whether we get more anxious with age I think is more complicated. I get more anxious flying and worrying about my children as I get older which I do think is related to age. However, other things that used to cause me a great deal of anxiety like driving has lessened as I have gained experience and confidence.

Am I alone with my anxiety? I have no idea. The thread on my Facebook page suggests I’m not but I’d love to hear from you if you suffer from anxiety and what you do to keep yourself in check. It’d be nice to know I’m not completely bonkers. :)

Age and the C word

…..that’d be: Concerned or Crapping myself.

Actually I did mean the real C word.  Every 6 months or so my body does something unusual (usually grows something) and I spend a few weeks crapping myself that it’s something much more sinister than it actually is. My mum died before she was 60 from Cancer, so I see this as a looming age.

Just after I had my 2nd child I became concerned as I had sprouted loads of moles all over my breasts and tummy.  I mean, over 20 new ones.  I ended up going to the mole Clinic in London. I’d heard about it from an article from Denise Van Outen and as I was born and raised in Australia, I didn’t really trust my GP to recognise a cancerous mole if it jumped out and shouted “I’m a cancerous mole”.  It all turned out fine though, they were some sort of benign growth that is common as we age (argghhhhh) and apart from getting one real mole reviewed I could relax.

The latest scare was a lump.  Quite a big one.  It was in my groin area.  I’m not that familiar with the whole lymph node situation, but I do know we have lymph nodes in the groin and although this didn’t seem to be in what I thought I was a logical place for lymph nodes, I freaked out none the less.  Actually, that’s not entirely true.  I was on my own with the kids when I first found it, and I freaked out a little,  but whilst making a mental note it could be something sinister and I should keep an eye on it, I did come up with many more possible scenarios on what it could be such as an infection under the skin caused by a shaving cut or ingrown hair (mmmm, this post is starting to lean into icky territory).

Well, it got bigger, I got more freaked out and I booked an appointment for Tuesday at my GP, the day after the bank holiday.  I felt better having it booked, I calmed down, I accepted it was probably nothing.

And, I think it is just that…….nothing.  In fact it has reduced in size by half today.  I think I may cancel my appointment.  What the whole experience has taught me is that things seems to go wrong more frequently for me these days.  Illnesses take longer to go, bruises hang about and things sprout, enlarge and often disappear eventually, but they seem to occur regularly.  I need to chill out, accept that this is the way things are and stop worrying so much.

If cancer is going to catch me, it will, regardless of how much I worry about it.  The trick is to be vigilant, keep checking, but get on with your life and treat every day as a gift.  So that’s what I intend to do.