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Damage limitation 

The worst parenting advice I have ever received (for me, anyway) was to speak constantly to your developing embryo, foetus, newborn, baby, toddler. Yes, it’s good they hear your voice and know you. Yes, it’s helpful for their language development and bonding to you. For me, however, I’m afraid that it is not helpful for my daughter’s self esteem.

I am good at being my daughter’s cheerleader, exclaiming glee at her using her potty, and clapping enthusiastically when I see that she’s learned something new and is happy with what she has done. I’m good at calming tears and soothing upset feelings and singing silly songs to make her smile.


Like any parent, when I’m frustrated/tired/annoyed/at the edge, I do not deliver a good performance. In fact, what I hear coming out of my mouth is appalling, embarrassing and I know that for anyone over hearing, I sound like a hideous parent. And the guilt after is so extreme that I carry it like an anvil over my shoulder for many hours to follow.

Growing up, I remember my dad being very supportive of me. He and my step mom went to all my sports games, band concerts and art shows. (Us Midwestern kids are a fairly well-rounded lot. All of these things were mandatory due to small numbers). He spoke positively of my achievements and never discouraged me to give up on big dreaming. However. I very unfortunately to this day remember word for word some of the most hurtful words he’s ever spoken to me. As an adult and parent, of course I know they weren’t my problem. He was just in a bad moment and unfortunately opened his face at the wrong time. It takes decades, though, to reach this understanding. In the meantime, those words roll around in your head and sting you with every recall.

Although I do try to hold my tongue before something short tempered comes out, I have decided the next best thing I can do with L is be honest. ‘I’m sorry I said that. It has nothing to do with you.  Mommy is angry about something else. You are wonderful and I’ll love you always.’

Either that or staple my mouth shut. But that seems a bit extreme.

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On the shelf

Apparently, all the cool kids are updatin’ their blogs on a Friday night. So, now, this makes me a cool kid indeed. Or more accurately, a cool person staring wildly into the eyes of her geriatric years. Or. Just a person. Trying to fill a gap in time between putting her child to bed and going to bed herself.

So how about this instead: All the cool parents are starting new rituals to celebrate the upcoming weekend. Our new jam is putting on a movie, rolling the picnic blanket out onto the living room floor, take away pizza, and the magic is done. Bedtime is pushed back a half an hour. Yeah. I know. Unhinged in my household. 

The travelling art ‘exhibition’ or window display or whatever, is moving along. I had a chat with my lovely and helpful woodworker to discuss the dimensions of the stand. Oh the excitement! Also, I’ve selected the originals to make giclee prints from:

These have been scanned so now all I need to do is make the magic happen on Gimp, I mean Photoshop (no I don’t, I can’t afford Photoshop) and hopefully make high quality reproductions. Will aim to do that next week.

In other news: A small company in the states has licensed use of one of my designs. Hurrah.

In other other news: The Shelf and those items on it. I devour books like I devour chocolate. Oh the joy of getting inside someone else’s head and rolling around in that for awhile. What else is on the shelf? Me. Because trying to have a relationship when you have an energetic, brilliant spark of a toddler daughter is an impossible thing. So. I’m done.

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The physical ache of absence 

There are so many things they don’t tell you about parenthood. No one warns you that it feels like a succession of tiny heartbreaks. When you so painfully mentally hope that soon, oh God please soon, learn to crawl or walk or speak more words, that when they’ve crossed over to this new thing they can do, they’ve forever left behind another part of babyhood. Then no longer that, but now a toddler. Then no longer that but that stage between toddler and small child. She’s currently hanging out at that undefinable stage.

So this weekend we went our separate ways as we both needed a break. She was whisked away to the grandparents and I aimed for the Almost Highlands. Of every block of ten minutes, I’m sure I spent most of them thinking about her. My fellow traveller and I walked up, around, then down hills. We found snow and clapped with delight. We took in the amazing landscape and I thought ‘I hope L is safe. I hope my daughter is having fun.’

It aches. The absence is present, you can feel it. How do people survive the permanent disappearances. I can barely handle the short term. 

We’ve been reunited now and have spent many happy minutes playing with her new used toy – a charity shop find, but I don’t think she minds. Now she’s in bed and I’m planning my upcoming week, fitting in all the things I must do to keep us going, filling in the gaps between the hours of seeing and not seeing her. 

What they don’t tell you is that parenthood destroys you. But it also builds up something from the ashes of your former self. And together you create something new and interesting and somehow you become more you than you thought was possible. And you get to share that with the most interesting person you will ever meet.