Raising Hell

My nephew is a godsend. He is the most beautiful little cherubic 3 year old with chubby Raphaelian little cheeks and curly yellow  hair that you will ever meet (of course, I’m not biased at all- how dare you suggest such a thing.)

My brother has him two days a week whilst Brandon’s mother has him full time, and since my brother is staying with me at the moment I get to see quite a lot of my favourite little person. As with most 3 year olds, he is a ball of non stop, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle loving energy. It’s quite a sight to behold, him jumping over nothing but air, using belts as lifelines to save me from the sofa which is clearly not a sofa at all, but a dangerous life threatening precipice.

When he is here with us, or with my mother he is well behaved- all be it slightly mischievous. He doesn’t hit, he doesn’t shout. He doesn’t push his luck and he is full of sweet innocent one liners. Recently it was his birthday, I took it upon myself to make him a cake from scratch. He was overjoyed. At least I like to think it was joy causing those tears in his eyes and not absolute fear of this blue and white monster of a being with a flame on it’s head lurching toward him whilst everyone did in the room did this strange ritualistic chant.

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We had been at the zoo all day, my nephew, my brother, our parents and I. It was a lovely day. He looked at the Meerkats and was a joy really.

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Seeing him for these periods of time- the high points, the weekends were we do fun things and take him to fun places, I had never really thought how it was when he was at home with his mother. It didn’t occur to me that his behaviour would change or that he would be different to how we see him. I realise now that it was extremely ignorant of me to think that he would be as cherubic as he is with us all of the time. An unfair expectation to say the least- he is a 3 year old boy after all.

There have been a couple of times in the recent weeks that I have been to see Brandon at his mothers house. Cue Jekyll and Hyde toddler tantrums, fist throwing and leg kicking awe. It’s all ‘I want to watch’, ‘I need this’, ‘Stop doing that!’. I’d like to say at this point that Brandon’s mother is a good mother. She is hardworking, she tries hard to give him all the things he wants. His attitude with her is  ‘If I keep shouting, she will give me what I want.’Clearly a tried and tested method, at the end of her tether she will usually give in. She knows that she is a master of her own demise but is stuck in a relentless loop.

It’s not for me to question how she disciplines him- it’s not my place and it would be inappropriate. My main point is that this must be a very common problem among broken families. Whilst the full time parent is there on the day to day school run basis, the everyday days of life, the ‘part-time’ parent often has the time and the opportunity to have the fun days, the zoo and swimming days, the cinema days.

If I look back on my own early childhood, I recall much more vividly the weekends and the smiles and laughter I shared with my father as he made the most of his precious time with me. I do remember good times with my mother- but fewer stick out in my mind.

It can’t be easy to be the consistent one, the one who is there to remind them to do their homework or brush their teeth, or the one who works a lot in order to provide a good life, at the expense of quality time.

This isn’t to say that both sides don’t have their downfalls. I know my brother would give anything to be there to put Brandon to bed every night and wish him good morning. It seems to me this single parent gig is a double edged sword, no matter what side of it you are on.

As I’m 3 months away from embarking on this journey myself, I can only say one thing.

I hope these are tears of joy in my eyes and not fear!

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Another Link in the Daisy Chain

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When I was little my mother used to take me to the park nearest to where we lived.

We would sit on the grass and play my favourite game- Cinderella. I was always Cinderella of course- my mother still is a bit sore about having to always be the ugly sister (seriously, she always states the unfairness of my childhood games. After all, can’t adults get a good part?)

I just loved to play Cinderella. Weather it was helping with the dishes or at these instances in the park, slaving away at making endless daisy chains for my ugly stepsister to wear at the ball. In these moments, I was happiest.

Those daisy chains. They’ve haunted me ever since- in the best way. I love them. I have a deep rooted loyalty to these little pops of flowers with their delicately juicy stems and happy yellow hearts, to their beautiful halos of white. They will always hold a pride of place in my memory, taking me back to those long summer days with the gentle lift of breeze. In these moments I had my mother all to myself. I greedily gobbled up these times. In these moments, she wasn’t my stepfathers wife or my brothers mother. She was this beautiful entity of motherly love that was entirely and implicitly mine.

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These stolen moments, whilst we waited to pick my brother up from big school, or took time out before a doctors appointment to laze in the shade, I think were the makings of our bond. Don’t get me wrong, as the years ticked by and my hormones raged on we fought like cat and dog. Spatulas were thrown, rooms were wrecked in a pubescent rage, mountains shook and the wrath was felt. There were times when we felt more uncomfortable in each others company than Tiger Woods defending his fidelity.

But in another surge of time, things pass and subside. Normal service is resumed. The unthinkable happened- I grew up. I’m proud to say that my mother is my best friend. In fact, she can’t get rid of me. I call her one, two, three times a day for absolutely no reason other than to be comforted by her voice. That’s not to say we don’t have our moments- we do. We are both of a fiery disposition which sometimes leads to us burning holes in each other, but the constant is always there.

We went for a walk today and chose a spot on the grass in a patch of daisies. I made chains, letting my bump soak up the sun. Instead of playing Cinderella we spoke about life- mainly the new one growing inside of me. Where we would hold the christening, who we would invite, what she would wear…what she is going to look like. Having this moment with her to sit and do nothing was priceless, being able to sit side by side  (not just two but almost three) made me even more excited to meet my daughter.

My mother ate as I plugged on at this daisy chain, adding the links systematically.

I am a bundle of hormones, from good to bad- with a big dollop of excited thrown in.

I’m looking forward to meeting the new link in our chain…we’ll love her right from the centre of our bright yellow daisy hearts- although I may hide the kitchen utensils for the next 18 years just to be on the safe side.