The tiny people days

There’s a song on the radio at the moment called ‘The Days’ by Avicii. It’s one of those upbeat summer anthem types, yet I can’t listen to it without getting choked up. Because while the carefree lyrics are, I think, aimed at those in their halcyon university years, somehow they have come to carry a much more substantial meaning to me. While I have found various lines that are applicable to me for weird, personal reasons, it’s really the chorus that gets me:

These are the days we’ve been waiting for
And days like these who couldn’t ask for more
Keep them coming
Cause we’re not done yet
These are the days we won’t regret
These are the days we won’t forget

On good days, these words feed into my joy. On bad days, they become a bit of a mantra, helping me regain a bit of perspective and reminding me of the value of the time I’m investing in my tiny people.

Colin and I often talk about the paradox of the toddler years. They are so fundamental to who we become, yet we don’t remember them. As children we don’t remember how cute we were, or all the games and outings we had. But as parents, once the trauma of sleep deprivation has passed, I think they become golden years. Already I know we are going to miss these days and look back on them with nostalgic fondness. And isn’t that the strange thing about time? Because right now, the average day is pretty hard!

The exhausting days
At two months old, Aiden is now such a part of our family that it’s hard to imagine a time without him. But wow, it is exhausting! Cameron is an absolute whirlwind, always on the go and perpetually bursting with energy. When that force (and believe me, it is a force) is combined with the energy depleting nature of breastfeeding and broken nights, it’s a deadly cocktail. And so the exhausting days have a number of spin offs including the ‘forgetful’ days, the ‘impatient’ days and the ‘what were we thinking having another kiddie so soon’ days.

One of my challenges at the moment is that my reserves have been depleted by a long and tough year. So I reach that tired, emotional breakdown point, where everything feels overwhelming, much more frequently that I did when Cam was a newborn. As Col is also suffering from burnout we are having to regularly call in the grandmother reinforcements. We are just so grateful to have both our moms near by and available.

The ‘just say no’ days
I am finding that if I keep my social and personal engagements to a bare minimum, and focus my energy on Cameron and Aiden, then life can be really pleasant. But the problem with this strategy is that it doesn’t leave any time for Colin or myself, and after a while I start to crave something other than finger painting, playing dinos, reading stories and rocking Aiden to sleep. But the moment I let my expectations include something not toddler or baby friendly, tension immediately arises because Cam wants to be involved or Aiden refuses to sleep and I quickly find myself frustrated and impatient.

So right now I am just trying to say no. It’s especially hard at this time of year when there is so much going on socially, and there are so many little traditions that I love but need to shelve (like making fudge – a truly risky undertaking when one is at the mercy of temperamental nap times).

The rapidly changing days
The equilibrium of peace and merriment in our house can change in an instant. We go from playing happily outside, with Aiden gurgling away under a tree, to Cameron hurting himself and throwing all his resources into fighting off my Savlon wielding hands. By the time Cam is sorted, Aiden in inevitably crying and my half drunk tea is stone cold. Next thing I know I am utterly drained and wondering bemusedly how twenty minutes ago I was feeling so energetic.

The thankful days
One of my coping strategies at the moment is my Happier app. I try to end off each day by sharing three things I am grateful for. Even on tough days there are usually far more than three. Because Cameron is just so delightful, coming up with the cutest statements and antics. Because our house and garden is a blessing and is full of unexpected wonders if you have the time to look for them. (For example, two days ago we saw a pair of hoopoes mating!) Because Aiden is growing before our very eyes and is starting to give us glimpses of his personality. So back to Avicii:

These are the days we’ve been waiting for
Neither of us knows what’s in store
You just roll your window down and place your bets
These are the days we won’t regret
These are the days we’ll never forget

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Cameron’s first Christmas

This year Christmas didn’t mean much more to Cameron than slightly sweeter breast milk from all the fudge Mom ate, but he was the star of our Christmas none-the-less. I have always loved Christmas, but this year it suddenly had so much more meaning. Colin and I have spent many hours over the past few days chatting about the things our parents did for us at Christmas, what we’d like to carry on doing for Cam and what new traditions we want to start. For instance, we’ve given a lot of thought to what we want to make for breakfast on Christmas Day. My family always did mince pies, but Colin really hates mince pies, so we’ve decided French toast cut into Christmas shapes will be our thing.

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With the events of November and early December I didn’t even get a chance to think about Christmas cards until it was far too late to send any. But my brother’s parents-in-law sent us this adorable Santa suit from Holland when Cameron was born, so we used that to make a virtual card this year. In the end we couldn’t pick a favourite shot so we just used our top three and posted them on Facebook. (All the wording was added with Over.)

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This year we celebrated Christmas with Colin’s family – Christmas Eve dinner with his mom, and Christmas Day lunch with his dad. In between we went to church. We are members at Hatfield Christian Church where the congregation numbers in the thousands. We weren’t sure how Cam would handle the crowds or the loud music but he spent the hour taking it all in and didn’t make a peep. I on the other hand got all emotional during the worship session, and spent a fair amount of time searching for tissues in the nappy bag!

The fact that Cam lacks the co-ordination to open gifts (or even understand that they are for him) didn’t stop the family from spoiling him! He’s got a whole lot of new toys now – some that he can already use, others that will take a while to grow into. But his great-grandmother gave him something really special – a wooden donkey that his great-grandfather bought in Jerusalem 37 years ago. It’s sometimes hard to keep the real message of Christmas at the centre of festivities and it will be good in years to come to go through the Christmas story with the donkey for a prop!

DSC_0187 DSC_0166 IMG_1577While I love all the traditions and activities that Christmas involves, what is the most special for me is the emphasis on family. With the arrival of Cameron, Colin and I feel like a family for the first time and this Christmas marked the start of many years of our family memories. And at the risk of sounding horribly cheesy – that truly is the greatest gift of all

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Facebook is my friend

Col and I had a social media plan for Cameron’s birth. Knowing how quickly things snowball on Facebook, we’d decided not to post anything for a few hours after Cameron was born. We wanted a little bubble to enjoy him in without the incessant beeping of our phones. It was a good plan but with one giant flaw – we didn’t tell anyone about it.

The first crack showed itself a few hours before the caesarean even took place. Col’s dad took a photo of me with Isabel, Katy and Leigh Anne who’d been visiting when the doctor decided to stop supressing the labour. On Facebook it went with the caption, ‘It seems Speckle’s is not going to wait any longer. All our love to Lucy and Colin as we wait upon Speckle.’

The second crack occurred when I was still in theatre being stitched up. Col’s sister got in with the first photo of Cameron. Swiftly on her heels was Col’s brother in Switzerland declaring to his virtual world that he was an uncle. My brother and Marlies were next with a photo of themselves which they took while receiving the news over the phone. As our plan had been blown well and truly out of the water, immediate action was needed if Col and I wanted to be the ones to at least announce his name!

Since then I’ve really been maximising Facebook and this blog to keep my world updated on Cameron’s progress. While I know that there are many out there who will be unsubscribing to the flood of Cameron photos I’ve been posting, I also know that there are a handful who are hopefully still looking out for them.

But there’s another side to all of this, and that’s the response Col and I have received from all of you. In the midst of the stress of the last two weeks it was incredible to know that whenever we checked our phones there would be an encouraging message or comment from someone – we read and appreciated every one.

There has been so much to deal with, but a big one for me has been a sense of isolation. My world has shrunk down to Cameron’s feeding routine and that’s how it will stay for a while. So while Facebook may have some disadvantages, right now I’ve got a much greater appreciation for what a wonderful tool it can be. And in the wee hours of the morning, it most certainly is my friend!