Was that racism?

Groceries

My husband often says that racism is a rife as ever, and up until today I have always been able to rebut his comments. Because in all my 29 years, as a woman of mixed heritage I can honestly say that I have never directly experienced racism. Something that has given me faith that there are some good people out there. That said, just because I have been fortunate enough never to experience it does not mean im naive enough to think that it doesn’t exist. It does. What I wasnt expecting however was to find it in my local Waitrose, lurking behind the till.

Of course you may be thinking you silly woman, you, Waitrose?! How can you be so surprised? But I really was. Because whenever I have shopped there, I have never been greeted or regarded with anything but politeness, friendliness and the best customer service. It’s what keeps me shopping there. But that was noticably absent today as I got to the checkout, precariously balancing the little lady on one hip and using all my strength to keep hold of a heaving basket of shopping in my hand on the other side. Usually shopping isn’t such a physical exertion, but I stupidly decided to leave the pushchair in the car thinking I was just running in to grab a few bits, and that if I had any difficulty that one of the Waitrose employees would probably help me. In fact I would be so bold as to admit that I expected they would help me. Not because they are Waitrose, but because I would expect that in most of the places I would go. I don’t think expecting or asking an employee to help you pack your grocery bags or carry them out to the car is a lot to ask, especially when you have a little one with you. But this afternoon it would seem it was. I knew as soon as I put my items on the conveyor belt that the lady behind the checkout wasnt going to help me pack my bags. I wanted to be wrong, but I wasnt. I said hello and smiled, watching as the middle aged woman behind the checkout offered me a cursory glance whilst she scanned my items then proceeded to watch me struggle with the little lady on my hips as I packed my own bags. She just watched me and waited. She didn’t smile, she didn’t offer any help or conversation, and when I left she mumbled what felt like a forced goodbye in reply to my own bewildered goodbye. In the end it wasnt so much the appaling customer service that marked this interaction, but the fact that she clearly didnt want to serve or talk to me.

Now I know I cant assume just like that, that it was race related. I am only too aware of how different ones perspective can be from anothers. For all I know she could have been having a bad day, she could have been feeling unwell, the possibilities are endless, although it doesn’t excuse it. But I do know how her service, or rather the lack of it made me feel. I’m not one to claim racism, but I have to say, for the first time in my life I feel like I may have experienced it..

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/54851530@N04/5080593765/”>greggavedon.com</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

When three become four..

Family of four

I always thought it was strange how some women can go through the whole experience of labour and then be ready to have another so soon after. Sometimes almost straight away. It always befuddled and bewildered me. I know people always say you forget about the pain of labour quickly after (its true by the way), how you’ll be ready for another. But after my labour experience I felt pretty scared and traumatised about the whole thing, so much so that I was seriously considering stopping at one much to my husbands dismay.

But then something changed. Subtly and suddenly. I don’t know when. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. But for the first time since having the little lady, I feel like I can actually consider having another. Having a number two. Extending our little family. Not right now, but perhaps in the future. Who knows when. All I know is that I can suddenly face the prospect of going through it all again. The pregnancy, the labour, the sleepless nights, the tiredness, the confusion, the frustration. All of it. I don’t know if it’s because it’s almost time for me to go back to work and the realisation that this wonderful period of maternity leave is about to end, or if it’s the nostalgia of watching my little lady grow from newborn to infant over the last few months, but somehow I feel ready to consider the possibility that perhaps one day, three will become four..

If you’re reading this post and can relate then I’d love to hear from you about your experiences. Please share your thoughts and comments. It always great to hear from my readers and fellow bloggers!

photo credit: Makena G via photopin cc

Dads are from Mars, Mums are from Venus

Sleeping baby

My husband is a great father. The best. Of course im biased… But you can tell that he doesn’t put our daughter to bed. As he clanged around the kitchen this evening putting things away, trying to be helpful, do his bit around the house (which I really appreciate by the way), I held my breath trying to count to ten in my head and ignore what sounded like a freight train outside the door whilst I sat patiently in the nursery waiting for our daughter to drift off in my arms for the second time already that evening. Because despite all his amazing qualities as a father, he doesn’t know the desperation of wanting and needing a child to go to bed. He doesn’t know the palpable relief felt when they finally fall asleep. He doesn’t know what it feels like to hope that the rest of the evening is yours. He just doesn’t know. He hasn’t got a clue about the effort it takes to perform the bedtime routine night after night with gusto when all you want to do is sit down and relax.

As the little lady’s eyes began to flutter and open with curiosity towards the direction of the noise, I wanted to shout at him, “What are you doing you lunatic?! You are going to ruin everything!” She’s so very almost asleep. She literally was. Two more minutes and I’d be free. That’s what I was thinking in my head, whilst wondering at the same time why it wasnt obvious to him that at this time of night any activities around the house should be done as quietly as a churchmouse. But then I realised. He doesn’t know the effort it takes. He doesn’t appreciate how delicate the situation is. He doesn’t put her to bed.

Some people would probably say that you shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells around a baby when they are sleeping. They should get used to having noise around them. For the most part I agree with that sentiment. When the little lady is napping in the daytime I will easily have the washing machine or TV on. Boil the kettle and make a cuppa. Tidy up and potter around doing this and that. But by the time it comes to bedtime it is a different story. So desperate am I for the precious few hours I get in the evening to catch up with myself that once the little lady is asleep I like to try to keep it that way until the morning. So having the husband rattling what sounded like our entire cutlery and crockery set does not go down well. Luckily for him, curiosity did not get the cat this evening and the little lady eventually drifted back off to sleep. But I think it might be time for someone to learn the bedtime routine in this house, and it isn’t either of us ladies..

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/tabithablue/4459109430/”>Tabitha Blue / Fresh Mommy</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Anonymous guest blogger: The last push

Theatre seating

After what seems like forever, the Anonymous Guest Blogger feature is back with a great post from The Secret Father who talks about bedtime and what really does feel like “the last push” at the end of the day:

“One more Peppa Pig and then it’s time to go to bed. No, I said ONE more. JUST. ONE. MORE!”

“Brush your teeth, properly. PROPERLY! Don’t stick the toothbrush THERE!”

“Put your pyjamas on. Where are you going? Put your pyjama trousers on! Not on your head! Take them off your head! Take the trousers OFF YOUR HEAD!”

The bed time routine. The last push. The eternal battle between adult and child; one party desperate to push the envelope, milk the minutes and extend the day; and one party desperate to curtail, to finish, to seek closure.

The friction. The tension. The exhaustion.

Sometime around 6:30pm our family moves into the bedtime routine. I feel it as a parent, and the children are feeling it too.

The older child might complain of tiredness. The younger child will never let on, and will continue to run around the house, a morass of flailing limbs and wobbly sprinting.

But he will be betrayed by the occasional flop on a chair, a rubbing of the eyes and the ultimate give away – the yawn.

This is the signal. The yawn.

It’s time to warm the milk and put on the DVD.

It’s a familiar routine, goodness knows how it started but it kind of works. Warm milk in front of 20 minutes of whatever DVD happens to be in vogue at the time.

Each child gets to choose one episode. These are the rules.

It is beautiful watching each one take it in turns to choose their episode. They revel in their empowerment, exercising their right to choose and they deliberate for what seems like an age before finally selecting their choice.

Each selection is accompanied with gleeful bragging rights and a giggly sprint back to the sofa.

The other child will take exception to the choice, but it will be only temporary. It is all part of the pattern, part of the routine.

And the episodes will finish and there will be a momentary tantrum when the television is turned off, but both children know that there are bigger fights ahead, so they reserve their energy.

The parents may have won this battle, but there is still a war to be waged before this day is out.

Climbing the stairs is another battle. The older child is quick, up in a heartbeat, mind set on the mischief that can now be caused in the upstairs domain.

The younger child delays, deliberating over each dangerous step; pausing to inspect every wood knot on the handrail, every speck of dust on the stair runner and every dead house spider that resides on the Staircase of Wonder.

There are some nights when I can deal with this, and sometimes even entertain this journey of exploration. But tonight is not one of them. My objective is to complete the routine as quickly as possible, get the children safe and snug into bed and get back downstairs to whatever treasure awaits.

And the treasure could be a glass of wine, it could be a pint of beer, it could be a favourite television show, a conversation with the wife, a favourite book or just simply a sit-down-and-stare at whatever object happens to be in eye line.

It doesn’t matter what it is. It is a reward.

A reward for knowing I have made mistakes that day, but that I will grow from them

A reward for knowing that I have done the best I can, that I have been the best I can be and that I have loved with as much room as there is in my heart.

And a reward for knowing that I have got my children safely through another day, with some degree of decorum, mental health and personal hygiene still intact.

So the reward is there in my mind’s eye. It looms larger and larger, sometimes taunting, sometimes alluring. But it’s there.

And it’s there, calling like a wanton siren from the shadows, when for the umpteenth time toothpaste ends up smeared on my black work jumper.

It’s there throwing its hair back and fluttering its eyelids as one child escapes half naked back downstairs and the other attempts to flush their face flannel down the toilet.

It’s still there, beguiling and flirtatious, as the young one refuses to get undressed and the older one, cackling manically, swan dives into the laundry basket, sending clothes spilling over the floor.

It’s like herding cats. Crazy, psychotic toddler cats.

But soon we are reading books. Nearly there, last push.

Same rules apply, each child gets to choose one book.

Some nights the book choices are great – short, easy and quick, entertaining even for the adult.

Other nights the choices are long, deadly dull books.

Tonight is one of the latter. I resist the urge to persuade the child to choose another book, and read it for the umpteenth time, almost on auto pilot. I get no enjoyment from it, but the children are spellbound.

Then I tuck the older child up, she goes down easily and snuggles up in her duvet. The younger one is still fighting, refusing to get into his grow bag, starting to meltdown.

I am not in the mood for this, and I can feel a knot of tension rising in my chest. I start to sing and rub his chest and immediately his eyes open and his body relaxes enough for me to get his legs and arms into the grow bag and the zip done up.

I breathe a sigh of relief and pull the side of the cot up, the final signal that it is over, the day is over.

I kiss them both good night and they both make one final complaint, but I am walking out of the door, and it is a half-hearted complaint. The day is over and they know it.

I find something to do in the room next to them for a few minutes and then check back in on them.

Both fast asleep, snoring.

I allow myself a smile. I am standing there, a muddle of warm tingly emotions, fatigue and exhaustion and I watch them sleep and my heart melts.

I count my blessings that I have steered them safely through another day. One of many in what I hope will be a long and happy journey.

I count my blessings that they are safe, that we live in a country of peace, where bombs do not drop, and warmth and shelter and love are a given.

I count my blessings that however exhausted I am come the end of days, the love I feel for my children continues to radiate out from my soul.

This is the bed time routine.

I make for the landing and close their bedroom door behind me, the last stage in the process.

I check my watch and make a quick calculation. If I can rip through the tidy up process I can have a few hours for myself. My shoulders relax and I breathe out a sigh of relief.

The cork comes easily out of the bottle of wine.

The last push is over. For tonight at least.