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My friend has stolen my baby names

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 09 October 2014
Dear Patricia Marie

My best friend and I are both expecting our first born babies, due in November. I told her the name choices I wanted for my baby many weeks ago, and to my horror she has now informed me that she is going to use them herself. I am furious and instead of enjoying our time being pregnant together, I cannot even face seeing her at the moment. How best should I handle this sensitive situation?

Patricia Marie says...

I would never advise upsetting anyone in the final stages of pregnancy, therefore, if you really do find it difficult to let go and need to confront your friend, do so very gently.  Explain how upset and hurt you are and that you trusted her by disclosing such significant personal information. Clearing the air can sometimes ease the tension. Then move on - try to change your negative thoughts to more positive ones. Think of your friend wanting your name choice as a huge compliment. That's a huge vote of confidence to you and your taste. Start to look forward to sharing the precious moments motherhood brings, as well as embracing the support and guidance you can receive from each other once those 'bundles of fun' arrive.

If you really love the name and want to keep it, it really doesn't matter who has used the name or who will in the future. You'll always remember why you chose the name and what it means to you. Finally, take comfort in the fact that anyone who has the creativity to come up with one great name, has the ability to come up with another, and you may just surprise yourself and actually prefer the new name - just make sure to keep that one a secret!


Have a dilemma? Please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.


In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows



She doesn't want children

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 15 May 2014
Dear Patricia Marie

I utterly adore my fiancée but she is adamant that she does not want children. When we met three years ago I was OK about that, but I have since changed my mind.

She says she is not the maternal type. I am 34 and she is a year younger. We both have well-paid jobs, so financially it would not be a problem.

Now, when I see our friends with their young children, the thought of not having any makes me feel so sad.

I try to suppress these thoughts but they keep returning. How can I marry the woman I love and have her children?

Patricia Marie says...

The problem is that you have changed your mind but your fiancée hasn't.  At around 30, a woman's biological clock often kicks in as she becomes aware that after 35 her fertility levels can decrease. This doesn't seemed to have happened with your fiancée.

You need to tell her how much you want children. Don't try to pressure her, but discuss why she doesn't want them. She may bring up some interesting points that you may not have considered and could understand better after hearing what she has to say. If she remains adamant that she does not want to have children, you have a decision to make.

What is it is about fatherhood that appeals to you? Are there ways that you can accomplish that without having children of your own? For instance, do you have nieces and nephews you could enjoy spending time with? For many childless couples they can help fill an empty void, bringing the greatest of pleasure to their aunts and uncles.

If you give up your desire for children you could end up resenting your fiancée and regretting that decision deeply. Also, most importantly, do you value having babies more than you value your future with your fiancée? If the answer is yes, sadly, you have to ask yourself, would it be better to end the relationship, and in time find someone you love who does want children? Before making a life-changing decision, you may both benefit from contacting www.bacp.co.uk or www.relate.org.uk for some counselling.


Got a dilemma? Please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.


In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

A perfect weekend?

Posted by Mum About Town
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on Tuesday, 04 February 2014
Is there such a thing as a perfect weekend? And, if so, did a mother ever have one? I’d challenge any of those nauseating Instagram feeds (you know, the ones who have more than 4 children AND bake) to tell me just how it’s done. Because, by the end of the week I’m left facing a tired, over-worked Him and some seriously homework-hating Smalls. So, I’m not seeing the perfect….

I remember (in the olden days) when Friday night was pub night. You’d slope off an hour early with your work chums for that first taste of the weekend. Two whole days stretched ahead full of self-indulgent fun. Carefree with little responsibility, I recollect that joyously giddy moment.

But now, the weekend is the time to pick up the pieces. It’s when the house needs a tidy and clean, the washing needs to go on. So I’m struggling to see how the FT’s How To Spend It magazine can fill a whole page of perfect weekends each and every week. I read it with confusion. And envy.

Unless, of course, there are perfect-weekend-liars out there.

‘How was your weekend?’ asks exhausted looking mother. ‘Just amazingly relaxing/interesting/refreshing etc’ replies perfect-weekend-liar.

Either way, let’s look forward to that Perfect Monday.


You can read more musings from Emma at www.lifeofyablon.com.

Head over heels

Posted by Slummy single mummy
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on Tuesday, 05 March 2013
I’m not easily embarrassed.

At our netball Christmas party it took about 2 seconds to persuade me to stand on a table and make a speech, and if I’m in a cruel mummy frame of mind I’m not adverse to a bit of singing in the street. This morning though was different, this morning I feel over.

There is something horribly embarrassing about falling over. Even if I trip slightly in the street I tend to look behind me in a puzzled way, implying that something jumped up out of the pavement to catch me out on purpose and that it definitely wasn’t just me being clumsy and tripping over my own feet.

My tumble this morning wasn’t quite as horrible as landing flat on your face in the street, as I was at netball practice. (I’m pretty sure that makes it a sports injury). It would have been better though if there had been someone else involved and not just me stumbling about trying to catch the ball.

The fall could not by any stretch of the imagination be called graceful. The wobbly thud as I fell heavily to the floor reminded me a bit of a beached whale, flapping about helplessly, unable to right themselves. I lay on the floor for a little while, trying as hard as I could not to cry.

Despite a grazed knee and elbow and a twisted ankle, I did hold in the tears. In fact, I stood up, shook out my foot a bit, and resumed my position in goal attack, hobbling mildly. I waited until I caught home to admire my scuffed knee and hold a pack of Quorn mince against my ankle.

My injuries may have been more at home in the playground but I wasn’t going to let my reaction go the same way.

A good mummy moment

Posted by Slummy single mummy
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on Tuesday, 26 February 2013
I had one of those moments yesterday where you remember what being a parent is about and why you love it.

It’s not that normally I don’t get all the kicks I need out of making packed lunches and hoovering, (oh no, hang on...), but sometimes it’s good to have a little reminder of why exactly you bother to do all those things that actually you find tedious, things like sitting through an hour and a half of Monopoly and pretending you’re having fun.

(To be honest, in the case of Monopoly, it’s normally the other members of my family who aren’t enjoying themselves. I can’t help it if I have a gift for property.)

Yesterday I took Belle to see Oliver. She played Nancy in a recent class rendition of the musical, so she knew all the words to all the songs. It was extra exciting as it was a last minute ‘we happened to be walking past the theatre on the last day of its run’ type of occasion, so what would normally be weeks of simmering nervous tension (‘only 16 more sleeps!’) had to be condensed into ten intense minutes of squealing and shopping for snacks. (Belle was pretty excited too.)

It was a great show, but two thirds of the way in, when I was beginning to wish Bill would hurry up and put Nancy out of her misery so we could do the same and get off the bench seats, I happened to glance over at Belle.

In the half darkness, you could see her wide eyes sparkling, glued to the stage. She was sat forward a little bit on her seat, her neck long, and her hands held in her lap. She was mouthing the words as Nancy sang, and smiling. As the song finished, she clapped as loud and as fast as she could, bouncing a little bit on the red velvet covered bench.

I watched her.

As the clapping died down, I leaned over and whispered “she wasn’t as good as you.” “I know,” she whispered back, her smile broader than ever, and turned back to the stage.

The highs and lows of muffins and motherhood

Posted by Slummy single mummy
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on Monday, 29 October 2012
Shopping in Debenhams at the weekend, I witnessed one of those classic parenting moments – the sort of incident that makes every nearby mum smile knowingly, and makes me in particular very glad that my children are now of the age where they can be easily bribed with a nice sit down and a chocolate muffin in Starbucks.

“Stop it,” one harassed looking mother was saying to her small son, “you’re being a real pain today.”

“NO I’M NOT!” he shouted, clearly aghast at being accused of such a thing. “NO I’M NOT! NO I’M NOT!”

The mother sighed heavily, as her tiny, furious son glared indignantly. “You’re doing it right now,” she said.

“I’M NOT I’M NOT I’M NOT!!” he yelled, running around in increasingly large concentric circles, arms outstretched, primed to knock off the assortment of olive oils and miniature bottles of Jack Daniels, overly packaged and covered in bells, ready for Christmas.

“Well you are,” she said.

“I’M NOT!!” he screamed, ricocheting off a display of suitcases and into a large box of cushions.

My days of having to deal with toddler tantrums are thankfully far behind me. Although at times the cutting sarcasm and teenage ‘we’re all going to die anyway so what’s the point’ attitude can be a tad wearing, it will never provoke that same sense of pure helplessness and frustration that makes you want to bury your toddler under the cushions, grab the festive miniatures, and hide in a suitcase.

A cause for celebration I think. Chocolate muffin anyone?

Patience is a virtue?

Posted by Slummy single mummy
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on Monday, 22 October 2012
I am not a patient person.

Sometimes I wonder if we’re born with a finite amount of patience, or if perhaps we are allocated a certain amount along with the birth of each child, and that I have simply used mine all up. “Congratulations,” the midwife says, placing the sticky, bloody bundle of joy on your loose, scarred stomach, “it’s a girl! You have 1,824 hours of joy and 2,782 hours of patience. Use them wisely.”

If your child is an adorable angel who sleeps through the night and shuns sweets in favour of raw carrot sticks and hummus dip, then you’re fine. You may even find them tolerable into their teenage years. If you have a more ‘sensitive’ baby though, then beware, 2,782 hours isn’t much.

When Belle was a baby, she hated being in the car and screamed at the mere sight of the car seat. The only way to soothe her was to sing the chorus from Agadoo.

“Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple shake the tree…”

You know the one.

It’s annoying enough just thinking about it isn’t it? Imagine singing it over and over and over again, accompanied only by grizzly baby noises. It’s a little wearing to put it mildly. Then imagine that when you go to bed that night, that you are woken up every hour by a wriggling baby, rooting incessantly, quiet only when they are chomping on your boob.

2,782 hours really doesn’t stretch that far.

Which is more than can be said for my boob.

For more from Jo Middleton go to www.slummysinglemummy.wordpress.com

Life outside the daily grind

Posted by Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 26 June 2012

My opinion, for what it’s worth, about whether or not you work when you have children, (if you are in the luxurious position of being able to choose), comes from my belief that everyone needs, and everyone is entitled to, some sort of intellectual life.

When I say intellectual life, I mean something that is outside of the daily grind of getting up, feeding yourself and others, fulfilling the basic requirements of your existence.

For some, their working life and their intellectual life are the same thing. But for most, their job contributes to the general grind. It’s got nothing to do with class or with how much you get paid. I have seen well-paid City workers and lawyers cry with frustration at how their brains are atrophying in their jobs.

...

A mummy break

Posted by Esther Walker
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on Monday, 18 June 2012

Although my husband is sympathetic and generous when it comes to my constant bellyaching about the trials of motherhood and domesticity, I think it’s essential to leave Kitty in his sole charge for a while every now and again. You know, just to re-calibrate his reality every now again – just to make sure we’re reading from the same page.

Because it is easy, when someone else is doing the lion’s share of childcare, to think that it is all basically fine. It happens to me, when Kitty is the care of someone else. From a distance, it looks perfectly easy. When you are not the one making those millions of carefully-adjusted decisions every hour, when you are not the one who is ultimately responsible for the location and supply of nappies, bottles and pyjamas, hanging out with children is perfectly fun. Why on earth do we need a steam mop? Or a full-time live-in housekeeper? Everything is just fine as it is.

So off I went to a wedding in Norfolk for 24 hours this weekend. I didn’t leave a list of instructions, or things laid out neatly with arrows drawn on paper leading from one thing to the next. I just made sure Kitty’s shoes and pyjamas were in the right place and that there was one clean bottle. Then I waved goodbye and set off.

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And then the sun came out...

Posted by Esther Walker
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on Monday, 28 May 2012

When I was little, I liked summer. We had a big garden with a swing and trees and there was a lot of jumping through sprinklers, lazy picnics and going for weeks without wearing shoes.

But then there was a middle bit that I didn’t like – that bit where it was difficult to enjoy doing what I wanted to do, which was to sit under a tree reading Wind in the Willows, because I was supposed to be out carousing with my friends in public spaces.

But Kitty has saved me from all that. Her need, her desperate want and desire to be outside in all her waking moments, so arduous in the winter, is brilliant in the summer. She just wants to stagger about from sun up to sun down in just her nappy shouting “Bee!” “Flower!” “Ant!”

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Sugar & spice and all things nice... for now

Posted by Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Now that Kitty is doing quite a lot of talking, and a reasonable amount of walking (as long as she’s holding your hand) I can see a little girl emerging from the blob of a baby.

And I have started to quite excited about it. I have started to fetishise childish things – even though I was a sickly, friendless, fretful child who often refused to go to school – and have all sorts of daydreams about creating an idyllic childhood for Kitty.

You know the sorts of things I mean: fish fingers and peas, sitting on the sofa watching Charlie and Lola, teddies, Brownies, hair in bunches, jumping through sprinklers in summer, bedtime stories, scones and hot chocolate after school, Disney films, best friends and worst enemies, colouring in, Play-Dough, new pencil cases.

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The boring truth about motherhood

Posted by Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 08 May 2012
My life is quite dull at the moment. Actually I will go out on a limb and say that it’s actively boring. Up at 7am every morning, tend to Kitty, try not to ignore my husband too much, try to eat something other than toast, try to keep everyone in clean clothes, try to get work done on days when I have childcare and not just stare into space.

As a special treat on the days when someone else is looking after Kitty, I get in the car and go for a drive. Sometimes, I will go to a shopping centre and have a poke around in Topshop. Then I get home, bath and bed Kitty, make dinner, watch some telly, pretend to listen to my husband while actually internet shopping on my iPad, put pyjamas on as early as decently possible, try to be asleep by 10pm.

Sometimes I talk to my friends, occasionally I will actually see my friends. But most of the time it’s me, Kitty, my husband, the people in the coffee shop, a few other mums...

And that’s it, or variations thereon, day in, day out, week in, week out. Whenever I find myself in my car on the A406, listening to Capital Radio and musing on the fact that doing this, driving and listening to the radio by myself, is a treat, I remind myself that this life is not forever. It is just a stage, a rather boring stage, probably the same amount of boringness as secondary school. And, just like secondary school, it will end.

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A breakthrough at breakfast

Posted by Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 03 April 2012

Everyone makes fun of how rigid I am as a parent. Whether it’s to my face or behind my back, I know that the thing about me, the thing that people snigger about, is how neurotic and to-the-second I am about timings, how strict I am about bedtime routines, about sitting in high chairs for meals, about not getting a toy back that has been thrown out of a buggy more than once, about not napping after 10.30am so that the lunchtime sleep goes well.

You know my sort, I’m sure. Maybe you’re the same.

But we are living back at home with my parents at the moment, while there is building work done to our house, and being around my mother has had a surprising effect.

...

Mummy Cool

Posted by Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 27 March 2012

It’s difficult to feel cool when you’re a mother. Pretty, yes; sexy, maybe (sometimes), but cool? Edgy? No. It’s the lack of real danger, you see. Isn’t danger what’s cool? And when you’ve got a child, you can’t kid yourself, or anyone else, that you’re actually going to put yourself in harm’s way. (Unless trying to park in Waitrose at 11am on a Saturday can be considered mortal danger.)

My friend B summarised it for me. She emailed, having returned from Monkey Music with her two under three. “I am having a fag in the back garden to recover my edge,” she wrote. And I totally know what she meant.

It’s not like I was ever actually cool. I am too ruddy of complexion and round of cheek to ever look cool to anyone: even in sunglasses, sitting on a motorbike, smoking a fag, chatting casually to Angelina Jolie, I don’t think I’d look cool. But I might have felt cool.

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Silencing my voice of doom

Posted by Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 20 March 2012

I have always had a strong inner voice of doom. No holiday, party or weekend plan has ever been able to escape my critical logistical eye – and with a baby it has raged out of control. “We can’t do that,” I will say gravely when my husband suggests grabbing a morning coffee with the buggy. “It’ll be a nightmare.”

Some people don’t mind “nightmares”. Some people think they are, in fact, quite fun. War stories. Battle scars. Not me. I think “nightmares” are just that and I avoid them at all costs. My instinctive urge when invited to do anything is to say “no,” because I basically just want to stay at home and change Kitty’s nappy in peace.

 

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I boast all I like about Kitty - but only to myself

Posted by Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 13 March 2012

When things are going well with your child – especially if you only have one – it is difficult not to feel a huge upsurge of smugness. They are sleeping like tops, eating like horses and smiling all day long. “What a pleasant child!” people shriek.

Yes, yes, you say to yourself, it’s all paid off. I AM the world’s greatest mother, I AM the best at trouble-shooting and problem-solving. I am firm yet fair, my routine is structured yet flexible. My child is a dreamboat and it’s all down to me, me, me!!! Your favourite thing is people asking you questions about your child. “I am just very strict,” you say, beatifically, beaming at your progeny. “We have a brilliant routine. S/he seems to respond really well to it.”

And then, 48 hours later, your world caves in as your kind-hearted baby turns into a demented, raging toddler. You lurch from one ineffective parenting technique to another. You wonder what Jo Frost would do in your situation. You question every single thing you’ve done up until now. You conclude, sitting on your stairs and weeping into your knees, (covered in fish pie and crayon), that this is all because you didn’t breast-feed for long enough.

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Why won't Kitty eat spaghetti like it's soup?

Posted by Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 06 March 2012

There is little more emotive an issue for parents than their child’s eating. I always thought that I would be very cool if Kitty started refusing to eat, or became a picky eater. I never had to eat anything I didn’t want to when I was little and I am grateful to my mother for never making eating an issue, or mealtimes a battle. I also have a phobia about being forced to eat more than I want and so the last thing I thought I would ever do was coax, cajole or bully Kitty into eating.

And by and large, I’ve stuck to that. Mostly because you actually can’t force a pre-verbal toddler to eat something they don’t want. They will simply spit it out, or purse their lips, or bat the spoon away.

But when Kitty is going through a phase of really not wanting to eat anything, of turning her head after a mouthful of lunch and saying “Na!”, or even frantically bum-shuffling away from a proffered square of cake, it’s pretty hard to hold your nerve. The temptation to squeeze her fat cheeks together and stuff macaroni cheese into her mouth is strong.

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How many is enough?

Posted by Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Before I had children I assumed that I would have a lot. And when I say a lot I mean a minimum of three.

I have three sisters, I am the third of four (like a fax), and I have always thought that “small” families (i.e. with only two children) must be terribly lonely and sad.

It was bad enough when my eldest sister, Harriet, left school and therefore more or less left home, leaving me with only two other sisters with whom to bicker and slob about. The thought when she left there would be no-one else left with me until I went to University was awful. In fact, I remember clearly a girl at school being in floods of tears one October day because her elder brother Robin had left home for university leaving her alone at home with her “bloody parents”.

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To be a parent is to be a nurse

Posted by Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 07 February 2012

There is no time in parenting more claustrophobic or suffocating than when a child is ill. And they're ill an awful lot. No-one ever told me that. No-one ever said "By the way, to be a parent is basically to be a nurse." Vomiting and diarrhoea is the worst, as it's not only claustrophobic but smelly and requires an awful lot of laundry. Well, I say an awful lot, I mean even more than the normal gargantuan lorry-loads.

 

I took Kitty to the library the other day, that was my first mistake. It's a cheerful and welcoming place, the childrens' section of the library, and Kitty loves it. But clean it is not. And discerning about the health of the children it lets through its doors even less not. I saw more than one green and peaky face but tried to suppress my hateful bourgeois preciousness about preserving Kitty's health. "She needs to get ill," I try to tell myself. "If not now, then at nursery, ten times worse." But when I saw a four year old standing in the corner by the Harry Potters, coughing on and on, greenly, phlegmily, foully, for a full five minutes, I wrestled Kitty into her buggy and made a bid for the High Street.

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French Children Don’t Throw Food

Posted by Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The two things that frightened me most about having children were sleep deprivation and toddler tantrums.

Now Kitty is nearly a year old, and has been sleeping through the night for a while, toddler tantrums are about to be a very real thing – and I’m scared.

So I fell on the recently-published French Children Don’t Throw Food like a crazy person. In it the author, an American journalist called Pamela Druckerman who lives in Paris with three children, attempts to explain why it is that French children don’t throw food, or take off their clothes in restaurants, or interrupt, or generally make a nuisance of themselves.

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