Thursday, 24 May 2012

Potty mouth

G&T - almost 2-and-a-half   M - 7-and-a-half months

I am obsessed with poo. And pee. And everything bottom-related really. Yes, we're potty training. Well, that's the idea anyway. Mostly, it's just me mopping up puddles and maintaining a falsely cheery face while scooping up crap. Quite simply, it's hell. I have no objection to the mess really. I have three kids under 3. Mess is the default position around here. It's just that I can see no hope of it changing. They're just not getting it.
I don't like to boast, but my girls are pretty clever. Well, OK, I do mean to boast a bit. They're little chatterboxes, often surprising people with just how much they can say. I've long since stopped counting how many words they have. They have language. I'd just read in a mag about how, by the age of 3, children should 'have about 300 words, and put them into three- or four-word sentences' when T wandered up to me. 'Mummy,' she informed me. 'Yesterday, you went in a car. I went on a choo-choo train with Daddy and Morris. This is Morris here,' she added helpfully, holding up her monkey. 'We saw elephants and rhinoceros and meerkats,' G piped up. Not words. Language. It's not just that they repeat things. They understand.
I assumed I'd start training the girls by about 2, but when they were 22 months, along came M. And two months later, we upped sticks and moved across the country. Life kept getting in the way, and all my efforts were a bit half-hearted. The potties have been around, and G even managed a couple of deposits a month or so back. But then she went through a bout of constipation, and the potty progress stopped. So I decided to take matters into my own hands, and ditch the nappies. They proudly carried their 'big girl pants' home from the shop, and went to bed delighted at the prospect of the day ahead. Come D Day, on went Peppa Pig and Princess, and... nothing. The whole day, not a thing in the potty. Puddles in the living room, the playroom, the garden (thank God for the hot weather and the ability to just let them run bare-bottomed outside), soiled undies and even one ill-timed present on our bedroom floor... They just couldn't be persuaded to use the potties. They sat on them frequently, but they remained stubbornly empty. At one point, I changed T, telling her, 'Never mind. Next time you need a pee pee, you can take your own pants off like a big girl and go on the potty.' She showed up five minutes later pants-free. I couldn't find them, there was nothing in the potty, and I have no idea if and where she'd peed. It was exhausting. Oh, and I also had a grumpy baby to deal with. Of course, she'd chosen D Day eve to wake up countless times and end up in our bed, shoving me off the edge and preventing any meaningful sleep. And of course, she refused to do anything but stand up holding my hands. By the time they were all in their cots, I was totally wiped out, despairing to their dad and seriously considering giving up. But I couldn't. Not after one day. They'd have never been sleep-trained or learned to feed themselves if I just gave up. So on to day two.
M helpfully slept like an angel, and I woke up full of positive thoughts and potty dreams. Twelve hours on? Nothing. Not a tinkle. It's not like I expected them to just wake up and calmy ask for the potty every time they felt the urge. I was fully prepared for accidents. I just expected something. Anything. Some progress. Some hope. I know they know what's expected. Where am I going wrong? Are they simply not ready, despite being so advanced in everything else? Or am I the problem? Perhaps trying to train two toddlers and look after a 7-month-old is too much. Maybe I just can't watch them as closely as I need to. Just one tiny little wee in my plastic nemesis, and it'll all be worth it. So tomorrow, I'm abandoning all my principles. Chocolate stars bought and ready. Let's see if bribery does the trick...

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


G&T - 29-and-a-half months   M - 7 months

Names, appointments, where I put my keys... My memory has always been a somewhat unknown quantity, failing me when I least expect. But even by my standards, my brain has completely short-circuited since having kids. Half the time, I can barely remember the word for crayon. But that's not what they really mean by mum-nesia. The trivia is expendable. As a mum, there are just so many things going on, your mind has to sacrifice something. What's odd is that the big things are gone too.
This week, I was reading Edspire's excellent blog ( She's a thirtysomething mum to twin toddlers, who's just had a baby, so you can see why I'm interested. Unlike me, she somehow summoned the superhuman strength to write blog posts just after the little one was born. It was fascinating to read about life with a brand new baby, the joy, the difficulties, the sibling jealousy. My first thought was to feel a little sad that I don't have such a memento of M's first few days. What a wonderful thing to be able to show your children in years to come. But when I thought about it, I realised I like my memories a little more fuzzy and sugar-coated. I loved M's tiny days. Simply loved them. There must have been hard days, but I don't really remember them. An excellent feeder from the start, she soon figured out night and day, and other than a little resistance from T when she realised this noisy little bundle was actually hanging around, her sisters took the change in their stride. As for the twins' first few weeks... They were so cute! My tiny little miracles with their squishy little faces, all pink and happy... Those rose-tinted specs are firmly in place. The brutality of the sleep-deprivation this time has taken me totally by surprise. When the twins were really young, I can recall complaining of exhaustion, and remember being stuck on the sofa, pinned beneath them for hours at a time. I can think of at least one tearful conversation to my husband, begging him to come home from work to help. But thinking about it is like reading someone else's story. They are just pictures.
Recently, I was sympathising with a friend in the throes of morning sickness. She was feeling sick from morning until night, begging for the relief of throwing up that never came. That was exactly what I went through, so I ooh-ed and aah-ed and dished out advice about peppermint tea and dry baked potatoes, but the truth is, it was difficult to really empathise. My mum-nesia has firmly kicked in there too. Before I fell pregnant with M, I remember discussing nausea with my husband. 'I felt a wee bit rough for a few weeks, didn't I?' I said one day over dinner. He nearly choked. 'A bit rough? You were a wreck for four months. You told me you wanted to die.'
But even having gone through it just as bad a second time, I still can't really remember it. And I don't care. Just like the scars and the saggy bits that make it hard to remember the toned midriff of my youth, the tough times don't matter when compared to the great ones. If I could go back, knowing fully how hard it all is, would I swap my girls for a bit more sleep? Hardly. Give it a few months, when M is sleeping through the night, and I bet I'll read this post and shake my head. 'I bet I wasn't really that tired... '

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Living the dream

G&T - 29 months  M - 7 months

I used to love shoes. Mary Janes, slingbacks, sparkly, stylish, the higher the better. If I saw a pair I wanted, I'd think about them, visit them, try to convince myself I didn't need them... Then delight in the gorgeousness of my feet when they were mine. I was nearly six months pregnant with the twins when I went to a friend's wedding in a pair of sky-high Miu Mius. Yes, I was enormous and exhausted... but they were Miu Mius. These days, leaving the house is an irritation because it means removing my infeasibly comfortable pair of bootie slippers. Even if I do wrench them off my feet, nine times out of ten, it's only to put on trainers. My life these days is somewhat less than glamorous. Instead of fabulous footwear, I get excited about buggies and T-shirts with Minnie Mouse on them. The other night, I spent a good 45 minutes constructing an impressive multi-line Brio train track, complete with MegaBlok tunnels. My husband thought it was hilarious, pointing out that if, for once, the twins hadn't made an epic mess that I had to tidy up, I should perhaps, you know, relax. But the truth is, I enjoyed my engineering exploits. That's what passes for intellectual stimulation for me these days. The old me had a job with deadlines and responsibilities. The new me has wooden train tracks. The old me had novels and newspapers, the new me has Spot the Dog and nursery rhymes. The old me thought counting was working out if I could afford one more pair of shoes. The new me spends time counting how many odd baby socks I have that have inexplicably lost their pair (23 at last count, by the way. How? How? How???). The 25-year-old me would laugh herself silly at the sad old woman I've become. Well, no, actually she wouldn't. Whenever I find myself wistfully reading friends' Facebook posts about fab nights out or Tweets from one glamorous party or another, I remember. I had that life. I had an absolute blast at uni, making the best friends I will ever have, lived the high-life in London, working my dream job on a magazine, I partied, I danced, I was thin... And the whole time, there was a little thing missing. A baby. Or three. I always wanted to be a mum. OK, so my 25-inch waist is a thing of the past and instead of donning a tiny mini and a strappy top, I now consider myself dolled-up if there's no sick on me, but it's now that I'm living the dream. I laugh. A lot. My girls are such little comedians. In the past week alone, the twins have independently choreographed an entire dance routine to Spirit in the Sky, started copying my baby-food choo-choo and feeding one another, and decided that it's hilarious to replace the words of familiar songs (and my name) with 'Nunk'. And then there's M's adorable new-found ability to launch herself onto the floor and wiggle like a madman in order to reach something six inches away. Yes, it's tough having three tiny tots so close together, and glamour is not a word any sane person would apply to me, but I wouldn't change a thing. My little trio are so full of fun, I don't really mind that I'm not. I do miss the shoes, though...