#paranoidmum

Let me start this blog by saying I have HUGE respect for all parents out there. Mums, Dads, step-parents, Foster parents, Guardians….you get the drift. I love you all. You’re tremendous, but is it just me or are we part of a generation of paranoid parents?

I’m 32 years old and between my partner and I we have 2 boys, both 9. I know, it’s like I was lucky enough to not have twins then boom, you blend your families and the children gods laugh in your single child smug face.

I reckon my other half would be OK with me saying neither of us had a real clue about how to be a mum. It’s like ‘Hoorah I’m pregnant’ then fast forward 9 months ‘Holy shit what do I do with this tiny human?!’ Having spoken to many other mums, I know that I’m not the only person to have felt this way, and that in fact there really never is a time to be ‘ready’ for a baby. You can do all the prep, pee on all the sticks, track your cycle, buy the apps, but when it comes down to it, when the midwife plonks that little pink person on your chest this will roughly be your thought process:

‘Oh my god I’m a muuuuuuum’ (emotion emotion, etc etc)

‘Oh. My. God. I’m a mum’ (emotion, slight panic….)

‘Holy shitting God I am a mum. I have no clue what to do. This child won’t survive with me. I don’t even know how to cook an egg. What the fuck was I thinking?! Why is it looking at me? What does it want?’ (sheer panic/dread/fear)

All this before you even consider how ravaged your body is from bringing this wee guy or gal into the world. Natural birth? Take a moment and think back to the hours before giving birth, when your vagina was just a normal vagina, not a cavernous tunnel that is now on fire and will probably make you think you are dying when you go for a pee. For the mums who’s babies have not only given you heartburn for 9 months then decide there ain’t no way they are burrowing down and need to be taken out the roof, and you’ve now been told ‘Congrats it’s a boy! Now don’t move for 6 weeks’, do not add to the stress by giving yourself more things to worry about.

Of course it’s natural to have the fear. Despite this, and my complete lack of knowledge on how to ‘parent’, my kid made it to 5 with me looking after him, and for the last almost 4 years I have co-parented and managed to raise 2 regular kids. Yay, go me! Crap, the Mrs will be reading this, I mean ‘go us!’ Love you angel.

We had our kids pretty young, aged 21 and 23, and it would appear now that the baby boom of everyone we went to school with, our friends, other family members (read as, sensible people who at least attempted to get their shit together before reproducing) has happened. Facebook is announcing the arrival of a baby a month. Instagram is full of #newmum or #newbaby or #welcometotheworld all the while my head screams #howthefuckdoyouhavetimeforinstagram…

Then I see it. Enter the hashtag #paranoidmum:

‘Can anyone recommend the best video baby monitors so that I can see my child asleep in his/her bed from every room of my house, from every angle, at all times? #paranoidmum’

‘Can anyone recommend the best thing for colic? I’m afraid my babies wind is awful. Worst wind I have ever heard. Actually I’m just going to go to A&E…#paranoidmum’

‘What’s the best cream for nappy rash? My baby doesn’t have nappy rash but I want to be prepared with all available creams in case he does get it, although in saying that first sign of a rash and I’m off to A&E. Maybe I’ll go now and see if there is a preventative cream…#paranoidmum’

I get it. Parenting is scary. You have the major responsibility to successfully raise this child, keep him/her safe from harm and teach them well. It is on your shoulders if they get hurt, or if they are unhappy, but it is also on your shoulders if they grow up and have to have a badge pinned to them that says #paranoidchild. Crazier still is that many of the #paranoidmums that I have seen across social media have already had a child. They are on number 2, or 3, or some are really insane and have more, (I kid, power to you, you kick ass baby maker), yet this overpowering paranoia keeps slipping into daily life.

‘I’m leaving my kid for the first time in 2 years with his Gran overnight. Me and the hubby/wife are off out on a date. It’s going to be amazing.’

This is what they actually mean: we will eat dinner quicker than we ever had whilst staring at our phones and sending texts asking for updates on the health and wellbeing of our child forgetting that ‘Granny’ managed to raise one of us with no video baby monitors, bathing us in the sink, and letting us pick our noses. God how did we even make it this far? Change of plan, we are cancelling and staying home with a Chinese…

Or

‘I wish my little darling would just let me sleep through the night. I can’t believe at 3 years old I am still up and down. Exhausted is not the word. I look like death today. They have had their feet in my face all night as per usual. They slept like a baby, me, I want to die…’

I mean, what the actual fuck? Are you having a laugh? Are you blaming your kid for the fact that at 3 years old they haven’t been taught that their bed is theirs and your bed is yours? No sympathy for you there pal! When questioned the response, in my experience, has gone like this:

‘Is there a reason the little darling won’t sleep in his own bed?’ (moron)

‘I’m not sure we have never tried it. Well actually, we did once, when he was 1, but he cried for 7 minutes so we didn’t think it was fair and just let him in with us. It’s lovely, we get to make sure he is safe through the night, and despite the fact he has peed on us 17 times and I regularly get 2 hours sleep max, I wouldn’t have it any other way…’

Fuck. Off. Get that kid in his own bed and teach him that feet do not belong in other people’s faces. Introduce him to that magical 2nd bedroom that cost you an extra £10k on your mortgage which holds the £2k of nursery furniture which includes a bed with hypoallergenic, spring soft, cushioned vitamin C enriched mattress that Granny is still paying off in preparation for his fucking arrival. In other words, you child will be fine in his own bed, in his own room, give yourself a break!

Parenting is a continuous learning curve. There are days when all you want to do is have your kid sit on your lap whilst you sniff the top of their little kid head and kiss their cheeks and smother them with love. Then there are the other days when you want to just smother them. The fact of the matter is, kids are resilient. Will bad things happen to your kid? Maybe. Is it likely? No. Will your list for Granny keep that baby any safer than when she is with you? No. Will your child die from crying that you have put them in their own bed? No. I mean, they might puke, but hey, lesson learned.

Give yourself a break. You brought a person into this world. You gave a child who needed it a home. You are already amazing. Time to scrap the #paranoidmum and replace it with just #mum. That’s what your kid needs. They don’t need pre-emptive creams. They don’t need to never ever ever be out of your sight. It’s ok if they binge watch their favourite cartoon just so you can do the laundry or have a shower. It’s ok to not always feel like a good mum, a good parent, but it’s not ok to not trust your instincts.

Paranoid mum? I’m just not having it.

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It was all fine until…

I became a commuter. A fucking, train getting commuter.

Now let me just say I haven’t suddenly entered the world of work. I’m 32 years old and have worked forever. So long in fact i’m not sure how i’m not a millionaire and retired yet, but more on that later. The problem is I have always worked close to home. I have always been one of those people who starts work at 9am and leaves at 8.45am, with time in between to drop the kids at school. I was that guy, the one the rest of the office hated because I dragged my smug ass in looking fresh and un-flustered every day whilst sing songing Good Morning and generally just being a moron.

April 2017 I get an email to say I have been successful in my interview for a job at a Scottish University. Brilliant. More money, better prospects, and leaving behind a few mental case ‘bosses’. I am unnerved by becoming someone who relies on public transport. It wont hold me back. In fact it will be better because I won’t need to find parking anywhere. What could possibly piss me off?

Then I started getting the train. It turns out, the train pisses me off. Big time. And here’s why:

  1. You are at the mercy of the train actually showing up on time. I want the 8am train. Not the 08:03, not the 08:07 and certainly not the ‘Now cancelled’ train. Yeah, that sucks. I’s so sorry a leaf on the track has caused a complete shutdown of the rail system. Hold my backpack whilst I clamber down and save the commuters of West Central Scotland a morning of stress, phone calls to bosses and most importantly the journey on the ‘rail replacement bus’. Hell no.
  2. Other commuters getting closer to you than your husband or wife has in months. Sorry sir, why are you spooning me?
  3. There is zero temperature control. I need a coat for outside to fend off hypothermia, yet on the train I am at serious risk of heatstroke.
  4. The readers. Not all readers. Im partial to a book myself; a nice, small, paperback novel. The readers I mean are the ones who decided to bring the worlds biggest, widest newspaper onto this train then open their arms to full wingspan to read the column about some shitty finance crap? And now thanks to you I cannot get my coat off and will surely pass out. Manslaughter. You don’t get The Times in prison pal.
  5. There is always one person on a packed train needing off/on at the stop that simply should not exist. In fact, until you started getting this train, you had never even heard of this place so how can it possibly need a train station?! Drive to the next stop pal, you aren’t impressing anyone. Or move. Either is fine with me.
  6. Pretty much everyone is wearing headphones and therefore trying to politely say ‘excuse me’ doesn’t always work and occasionally minor violence is required which makes you look like the bad guy and not the headphone wearing asshole.
  7. But because you are wearing your headphones (fuck off), you have not only resorted to violence, but you are now shouting excuse me to someone who cannot hear you and are at risk of the doors closing on your leg/arm/sticky out body parts.
  8. The ticket guy. What a waste of life. If you are not willing to risk ambush/death by fighting your way through the rush hour passengers then you should get another job. Don’t just stand by the door silently praying for a miracle that will never come. I need to renew my weekly ticket and you had better move your ass down here so I can get it.
  9. The smell. On a hot day its hot sweaty bodies. Buy some deodorant people. Stick a wee roll on in your pocket and douse your pits with it before leaving the office for the day. On a wet day its that dank, damp smell. You know, when you take a tee out of the tumble drier too early and think fuck it it will be fine but as the day goes on you realise you reek and the tee that you planned on getting 2 uses off will need to be re-washed that evening therefore wasting time, electricity, and most of all, the tropical softener that is so expensive yet you cannot live without. It might actually be more beneficial to just burn it. Save the Surf…
  10. The getting off of the damn train. Oh sorry pal, did you not see me standing here, that must be the only explanation for you ramming into me in your haste to alight this fucking train. In a rush to get to work? Dying for a fag? Need to see a ticket inspector and want to be front of the queue? On duty with MI5 and about to save the world? No? Then back the fuck off because if you touch me again I will strike you down….OK I wont actually, i’m not an assaulter, but I will glare at you really hard and that’s just as bad.
  11. And finally, the most annoying of all. The people on the train who believe their bag/rucksack/mobile fucking phone needs its own damn chair. Here you are, packed into the aisle like a swaying sardine, glaring at the ticket inspector, sniffing the guys pits which have lodged into your hairline, sweating like a bitch because its 5000000000 degrees and you are wearing faux fur, and Lady fucking muck has decided her handbag simply cannot cope with sitting on her lap, or the floor (dear God) and so she has sat it on the seat beside her making it unusable for others. Well, for others that aren’t me…’

Excuse me, can you move your bag please’ (smiling politely)

Nothing.

‘Excuse me, I would like that empty seat, can you move your bag please?’ (smiling less politely)

Nothing.

‘I am going to sit here. You can choose whether that my lardy ass on your bag or if you are going to move it because unless it paid for a fucking ticket it needs to fuck off out of my way. Thanks….’

If you are reading this blog and can in any way relate to the points above with any view point other than my own, then its you. You are the asshole that makes my day start like i’m entering the Hunger Games arena. Never knowing if I will survive the journey. You are the guy or gal, both sexes are guilty, who people like me dream of pinging your Beats by Dr Dre off the side of your head so that you hear us when we say ‘excuse me’. You are the person that if I see you on my way home, I will glare at angrily because I haven’t forgiven you for the morning commute and you won’t realise why because you are too wrapped up in your broadsheet to take much notice…Sort yourself out. I’m just not having it.