Tag Archives: Co-Sleeping

Look Mummy, No Hands!

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

My little girl is growing up fast.  Too fast.  In her four and a half years she has learned more than I have in the past decade, she is excelling in nursery school, and has friends and interests that don’t depend on me.  I am immeasurably proud of her in so many ways… but how desperately I want her to slow down.

This morning I watched a video of her at three months old.  She was clutching her cuddly toy Sheep, pristine, white and nearly the size of her, and making cooing burbling sounds whilst I  talked to her.  At the same time, the four and a half year old Miss Rose was holding the exact same toy Sheep, now a greyish cream and somewhat matted, and charging around as Sheep bobbed at her side, not even the length of her thigh.

I want to hold her close and beg her to stay little.  Come September she’ll be off to full time school and my days with this precious child will be increasingly numbered.  Stay little, I want to beg.  Stay with mummy.  Don’t grow up.

But I know I can’t.  I can’t keep her small, I can’t keep her with me.  Even if I tried it would do more harm than good as she needs to grow and learn and flourish in the world as she grows into the astounding woman she’s going to become, and it’s my duty to held her along the way.

I am encouraging her to grow.  To have responsibilities and challenges.  I am watching my baby learn to fly the nest.

J..J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit,

Photo credit Jill111

Her latest big girl change has been when crossing the road.

I am neurotically careful about road crossing.  We look left, right, left again.  We listen carefully, point out cars, choose a safe spot.  We hold hands, and keep looking as we cross the road.  I have allowed her to take on a new responsibility and she is thrilled.  I let her cross the road without holding my hand.  She has strict instructions.  All the same steps must be completed; looking, listening waiting.  She takes it very seriously, a look of immense reverence on her face.  And then we cross.   When we reach the pavement at the other side she looks at me with glee in her eyes and announces “I did it!”

Yes, she did.  She did it.  She crossed the road without holding hands.

My baby girl is growing up and I can’t stop it.  I can help or hinder it, but it’s happening whether I want it to or not.  And I don’t want to get in her way.  I don’t want to baby her and hold her back.  She’s learning so much and growing into such a wonderful person that I want to celebrate her, encourage her, take huge pride as she spreads her wings and takes off in the world.  I want to let go of her hand.

In four short years she has gone from the fragile, vulnerable child barely bigger than a fluffy toy, to a little lady who crosses the road and is well on the path to adulthood.

Parenting a little child is hard.  She is dramatic and stroppy, she is exhausting.  But she is growing.  Our days are numbered.  Our time is almost up.  One day she’ll be grown and gone and she won’t pine for the days of her childhood in the way I will.  She won’t miss the days when she crept into my bed in the night and clung to my legs when she was scared.  She won’t remember the feel of my huge hand wrapped around her tiny one.  She won’t remember the pride in her eyes as she reached the pavement without her hand being in mine.  But I will.  I will remember.  I will remember.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More Blog, Parenting Blog, Mummy Blogger

Photo Credit Profile 31

I want to encourage her, admire her, watch her fly.  I want to hold her close, never let her go, keep her my baby.

I’m letting her fly.  But it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

She doesn’t need to hold my hand anymore.  And how I will miss that tiny hand in mine.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

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Baby’s First Bedtime

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

This week we decided it was time to start Baby Boo on a bedtime routine.  When I say “we” I really mean “I” but he gives me his full support when I make decisions like this so I’m lumping him in with me.

I decided we would start on March 1st.  When she was smaller she spent much of her evening feeding, but as she has grown she has been tending to either have a long feed and then fall asleep in my lap, or be wide away and full of baby rage.  I took these as signs to mean she needs to be asleep, and when she isn’t she’s not happy.

We waited until March 1st as with the Sirens Launch book party on Tuesday 28th, there seemed no point attempting to establish a routine right before she would be jerked out of it again for a night out, so March 1st was set and we prepared ourselves for it.

I started Miss Rose on a bedtime routine at about the same age, and it hasn’t changed much since.  We’ve dropped the evening bath, she now spends a lot longer in the bath in the mornings, and she doesn’t have a boob or a bottle anymore, but for the most part what we set up in babyhood has lasted until now, so it was really easy to start with Boo in the same way.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo credit Dagon

After dinner, Boo now eats her dinner at the same time as the Bigs, we go upstairs for quiet time.  We read picture books, lift the flap books, rhyme books.  We sit quietly upstairs chatting about what we’re reading with no TV, no music.

Fortunately Boo adores this time, as does Miss Rose, and they sit together on Rose’s bed laughing away.  Rose points things out in the books for Boo, who dutifully attempts to eat the pages.  Rose sings the songs and Boo laughs until she falls over backwards.  It’s a really lovely and contented way to round off the day.

After stories, Rose gets undressed and does her last wee on the toilet and then we brush teeth. I’ve been brushing Boo’s teeth since she first got them so I do Rose’s teeth with her brush then I do Boo’s little gnashers and clean off her gums.

After teeth it’s back into the bedroom and into pyjamas and then it’s last cuddles and conversations before quiet time.  I turn out the lights and, using the torch from my phone, read a book.  All three of us lie in Rose’s little bed, Boo in the middle having a breastfeed, and I read.  Currently I’m reading The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis and it’s a real joy.

Once both girls are asleep I take Boo and move her into her crib next to our bed.  So far she’s always disturbed a little so I give her another quiet feed and then settle her with a blanket.  I breastfeed her to sleep.  I know people say you shouldn’t, rod for your own back and all that, but I say balls to them because it’s my rod, my back, and it makes my baby go to sleep.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Siren Stories, Mummy Blog, Breast Feeding Blog

Photo credit WerbeFabrik

The first time I did it was bizarre.  I walked downstairs feeling quite alone and peculiar.  I’m so used to her being with me that to be without her felt lonely.

She obviously heard my inner cries of despair and soon woke up, however, and so back up I went to do another breastfeed and another settle.

So far it is taking about an hour and a half from the first time she falls asleep to when she stays properly.  I’m going up and down, breastfeeding her quietly and then leaving again.

For the most part she’s not having a huge feed, she’s not crying because she’s hungry, she’s crying because she’s realising she’s alone and she doesn’t like it.  She’s never left alone.  I don’t feed her to fill her up, I feed her to reassure her, to comfort her.  To make sure she knows that if she needs me I’m there, she doesn’t need to be afraid, she’ll never be abandoned.  Over time she’ll start to take comfort in that fact and not wake up afraid that she’s alone because she’ll never fear that she’s alone.

Of course, I say that, but the big two still pile into our bed in the night because they don’t like being alone, but it usually takes a good few hours and really that’s all we need.

Some people don’t bother with a bedtime routine, indeed Jonathan didn’t with his ex wife for Z.  Z just stayed up until they went to bed.  Doing a bedtime routine isn’t something everyone subscribes to.  Then other’s do it earlier and more strictly.  My mother in law told me how from day one her boys were put to bed at bedtime and that’s how they learned.

I’m somewhere in the middle.

I couldn’t cope with never putting her to bed, I need my evenings.  I need my time away from children.   I need my time with Jonathan.  I need time to be quiet and wind down because children drain so much energy from me when I already have so little to give.

But I didn’t want to do a bedtime until I felt she was ready.  If she was feeding all evening then I’d rather have her with me so she could just be with the boobs she do desperately craved during those tiny months when all she wanted in the world was boobs, boobs, boobs, and more boobs.  And I do miss her.  She’s still so small I worry about her constantly when she’s not on me.  Of course, if I’m honest, I still worry about Miss Rose and have to repeatedly check that she’s surviving alone in bed throughout the evening too.  So I don’t suppose that will ever change.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Feminist Blog

Photo credit Iquaraishi

For now her bedtime routine is working.  It’s eating a good size chunk out of my evening with repeated return visits, especially when I don’t stay up late as it is, but I know it’s not forever.  It’s only until she adjusts to the change in her life and stops feeling so peculiar about being left alone.  The key is, and I definitely believe this, not give in.  When I did this with Rose it was my first baby and I didn’t know what to do so I just made it up, but I am certain this time around that giving in is how to derail the entire affair.  If I can stick it out and just do repeated boobs and repeated settles, she’ll soon be sleeping in her own crib in the evening just fine.

Of course, then we have to go through what happens when I stop breastfeeding.  Then what happens when she stops having a bottle.  But honestly, my rod, my back, my baby.  These are all bridges I’ll cross when I get to them.  For now this is what works and I’m sticking to it!

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

When Will I Stop Breast Feeding?

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I’ve been breastfeeding baby B since birth and she’s now seven and a half months.  For the first five and a half months she only had milk from me, and then I started introducing solids and now she’s a huge food fan as well as being a true devotee of the boob.

So the question starts coming up a lot now, when will I stop breastfeeding?

I fed Rose until nearly 11 months.  I had hoped to go for a year but actually was happy to stop when I did.  I was feeling trapped and frustrated by the process, I was hoping to get her onto a bottle for at least part of the time but she wouldn’t go near one, and finally my body made the choice for me.  She couldn’t get enough milk out and was getting upset and angry, biting me and crying, and I finally said it was time.  I had missed my goal of a year but it was time.

With Boo, who knows?

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Siren Stories, Mummy Blog, Breast Feeding Blog

Photo credit WerbeFabrik

The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum 2 years of breastfeeding.  Whilst I have no negative feelings about the idea of breastfeeding for 2 years, I’m also not wedded to the idea.  I understand why it is best for her, and part of me thinks I should be more dedicated to achieving 2 years, but I’m not.  I might do it, it would be nice to, but if I don’t I won’t beat myself up over it.

I know I’m not keen to stop now regardless of what the health recommendations are, but equally so I’d like her to start taking a bottle as well.

I don’t want to stop because I love it.

I love that it’s something special for she and I that nobody else has with her.  She’s such a social creature, loves going to others, has no anxiety when she can’t see me.  Selfishly, I am aware, the fact that she depends on me for breast feeding gives me a feeling of being special in her life.  I know that I’m her mummy and I’ll always be special, I’ve not breastfed Rose for more than 3 years but I’m still very definitely special in her life.  But still, this babyhood dependency on breasts is incredibly short lived.  I’m not ready to lose it.

I love that it calms her and soothes her.  When she had her vaccinations she cried, but as soon as I stuck a nipple in her mouth she calmed down immediately and started suckling happily.  When she’s rolled off her play mat and hit her head on a chair she’s cried, but breastfeeding instantly calmed her again.  When she’s been poorly being able to snuggle into my chest and feed has calmed her when she’s been at her worst.  I am not keen to give that up.  When Rose is distressed it takes so much more than just popping a boob out and latching her on.  She needs so much more.  The simplicity of breastfeeding to end her pain, reassure her she’s safe, make her illnesses less distressing, it’s something incredible and I don’t want to lose that.

I love that it settles her to sleep.  When she’s tired, rubbing her eyes and getting grouchy, she will fall asleep with cuddles sometimes, or just where she is.  But most of the time she gets crankier and crankier as she gets more and more tired.  A sure fire way to settle a tired and irritable baby is by cuddling her up with a breastfeed.  She sucks away until she falls asleep with an arm around my boob and snuggles in, completely contented.  When Rose is tired and irritable it takes more.  She needs stories and darkness and calm, she needs wind down and settling.  Sometimes she’s so tired that she won’t go to sleep, as bizarre as that seems to me.  Giving up that easy settle of breast feeding isn’t something I’m keen to race to.

In a similar vane I love that breast feeding keeps the nights quiet.  Other than occasions when she has a cranky night, the baby at night is the easiest one in the house to deal with.  She falls asleep in her co-sleeper crib then, at some point in the night, shuffles her way into our bed and latches on to my boob.  If she wakes up she just reattaches herself and goes back to sleep.  If she’s sad she reattaches herself and feels better.  There’s no walking around in circles trying to settle her.  There’s no crying baby disturbing the whole house.  I don’t even have to sit up.  She just attaches herself and we all sleep soundly.  Of course, the downside is I have to sleep in the same optimal breastfeeding position every night which gives me a bit of cramp, and I have to sleep with my boobs out which drips milk onto our sheets, but that is far preferable to any alternative.  I don’t worry about night time.  The big kids, on the other hand, with Rose’s separation anxiety and Z’s night terrors, can be quite a challenge.  Indeed, the night time is the time I’m most keen to keep feeding through!

So, with all these positives, why would I want to stop?

Well, I don’t fully want to stop yet but equally so I’d value her being able to take a bottle occasionally for a number of reasons.

I want some alone time with my man.  I miss him.  We’ve only ever been parents in our relationship, we had none of those heady child free days even when we were first dating, but we did occasionally have nights off where we’d send the children to grand parents and we’d go out for dinner, have a few too many drinks, then come home and (mum, look away for a moment) get down to some seriously excellent sex.  Our love life and dating life is now done on the hurry.  It’s quick whilst the baby is asleep.  It’s let’s go out for dinner but somewhere that’s pram accessible, and never with too many drinks.  I’d love a night to just be with him.  I miss him.

J.J. Barnes, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Mummy Blog, Parenting Blog

Photo Credit TshirtRevolution

With two bigger children I am sometimes a little unable to parent them properly because I’m attached to a baby.  If a fight breaks out or a toilet crisis occurs I either need to leave the bigs unattended in a time of need, or pull a feeding baby off my nipple and let her scream in despair whilst I sort them out.  If she took a bottle I could sort out both.

As work gets more and more busy, meetings occurring and events that I need to attend, I’m either taking the baby with me or I’m leaving her.  Currently leaving her can only happen for an hour or two at a time before she needs another feed, or I can take her and breastfeed at the time.  I’ve been perfectly happily getting on with breastfeeding her in various locations and have no embarrassment about doing it, but there are times it’s tricky.  I have to find somewhere to sit, sometimes not easy, I can’t walk around, meaning sometimes things have to be delayed to accommodate it.  It’s possible but it poses a challenge, and one which I could avoid if she took a bottle enough for her to go to her grandmothers for the duration of a work event.

What I definitely don’t want again is the all-or-nothing I had with Rose.  She absolutely wouldn’t take a bottle and when I physically couldn’t feed her anymore she was forced to scream and scream whilst her father tried to force her onto a bottle and I sat downstairs crying.  I hated it.  I hated myself.  I felt like a failure and a cruel and horrible mother.  My ideal situation would be that she will take a bottle happily, and continue to breast feed until she naturally comes to a stop because she and I are both ready.  Perhaps before 2 years, perhaps after, I’m not committed to either, but at a time that feels right for the two of us.

Until then?  Until then I’ll just keep making bottles available for her and I’ll keep feeding for as long as I physically can.  My relationship is stable and not suffering for our lack of alone time and I’m managing to balance working and parenting a baby in a way that is definitely hard but somehow I’m muddling through, and the bigs are remarkably accommodating and accepting of the new situation.  We are not at a point where I’m even considering forcing her off completely, but we are at a point where I can see the definite benefit of her taking both a boob and a bottle.

How long we’ll go for I honestly don’t know, but for the time being I’m definitely not looking to stop.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

This Is Hard

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I love my children.  I love them so much.  But raising them is the hardest challenge I have ever taken on in my entire life, and it’s one with no end in sight, no breaks.  I can’t put it down at the end of the day, I can’t walk away if it gets too tough, I can’t take a couple of weeks off to let myself recover.  I can’t take time off sick, which I could really use, and I’m on call 24 hours a day.

I love my children.  But being a mum is so hard.

My eldest daughter is the love of my life.  She is sweet and smart and funny.  She is loving and kind and gentle.  She makes me intensely proud of her day in day out, and I pine for her when we are apart.

Last night, after I had dealt firmly with a particularly difficult tantrum, I told her that I need to teach her how to function in society.  That I get angry with her not because she’s a bad girl, but because I need to teach her not to use bad behaviour.  I asked if she would rather grow up to have a home and a partner and children like I do, with a house full of happiness and fun, or if she wants to grow up to be alone and unhappy.  I told her that if she wants happiness and people around her I need to teach her not to behave like that.

Cuddled up in my lap, with tears streaked on her face, she told me she wants happiness when she grows up.  She told me she wants to be happy like she is when she’s with her nanny, not with me.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More Blog, The Lilly Prospero Series, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo credit Greyer Baby

I broke my heart on the inside, but on the outside gave her a kiss and told her I’m happy when she’s with me.  Then I lay her down in bed and stroked her hair and stayed with her until she fell asleep.

She wants to be happy like when she is with her grandmother, not with me.

She is happier when she is not with me.

I cried.  I cried and I cried and I cried.

I phoned my mum, she told me it was nonsense.  I cried to Jonathan, who told me it was nonsense.

The thing is I know it is nonsense.  I know she said it to hurt me, she’s pushing my buttons to make a point.  I know that when I was in hospital and didn’t see her because I was so ill that she fell apart because she missed me so much.  I know that when she is poorly it’s me she needs.  I know when she’s sad it’s cuddles from me she craves.  I know.  I know that when she goes to nanny’s for sleepovers I get several Facetime calls because she misses me.  That she often cries for me in the night.  I know.

But even though I know the words are designed to hurt me, it doesn’t stop them from hurting me.  And right now I am so very tired.  And when I’m tired I’m vulnerable.  When I’m vulnerable I’m more easily hurt.

My baby daughter is the love of my life too.  She is my joy.  When she looks at me and laughs I have burst into tears of happiness.  The way she gazes at me adoringly fills me with warmth.  I’m watching her personality develop and she is becoming the most happy, adventurous, bold little girl.

She is breaking me.

She is in a phase where at around midnight she wakes up.  Not just wake up and be settled again, but wake up and be ANGRY.

Last night it was about half past eleven.  She woke up and she cried.  She howled.  She raged.

I tried breastfeeding her, she bit me.  I tried rocking her, she thrashed around.

How Jonathan slept through it I do not know because it was loud.  I’d have stayed put and just persevered but I feared she would wake up but big two, and three awake children was more than I could face.

So I took her downstairs and walked around with her, she cried but didn’t scream.  I went for a wee and put her down, she screamed.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More Blog, Parenting Blog, Mummy Blogger

Photo Credit Profile 31

Eventually I went back upstairs and just rocked her in bed and cried whilst she cried.  Eventually Jonathan woke up and offered a sympathetic hand on my back.  Even more eventually she fell asleep.  Blissful, blissful sleep.

I love my children so very much.  I adore them.  But this is so hard.

My big girl knows how to hurt me and does it.  My baby girl is on a one girl mission to melt my brain.

I love my children but this is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  And there are no breaks.  And no escapes.

I don’t begrudge it.  I would never be without them.  But I am tired.

And this is hard.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

What Do They Need?

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I don’t like to think of myself as a selfish parent, I try to do the best by my children, both biological and step, and I try to put their needs first.  However, I am aware that I also focus on my own needs, and what I need my children to be for me as well as what I need to be for them.

The Boy and I have one child each from our previous marriages, Miss Rose and Z, and one child together, Baby B.

Z is a very self sufficient little boy.  He doesn’t require much emotional input from the adults in his life as he is perfectly secure and doesn’t need the reassurance of his value.  He’s happy in himself.  In turn, The Boy doesn’t need reassurance that he’s valued as a parent, and doesn’t expect Z to boost his parenting ego or be anything for him.  The Boy focusses his parenting on what the child needs him to be.

Rose is a very emotionally needy little girl.  She’s a bleeding heart.  Everything about her screams “LOVE ME!”.  She is incredibly empathetic and finds pain in others to be very distressing, but also finds happiness in others to be intoxicating.  She will throw herself with her whole heart into anything someone else loves in the desperate hope they will see her as a kindred spirit and love her for it.  The Boy loves Liverpool, so Rose is passionate about Liverpool.  I, in turn, am emotionally needy of her.  I need the her to be for me what I am for her; the promise that we are loved and valued.

Photo credit Unsplash

Photo credit Unsplash

If for some reason The Boy is asleep in our bed without me there, he just stays in bed alone.  If I am asleep in our bed without The Boy there, the first thing I do when I head up to bed is steal Rose from her bed and put her in with me.  She doesn’t need to be there, she’s happily asleep in her own bed, but I need her with me.  I feel safe with her there.

We both understand our own biological children.  Z gets obsessed with what he’s obsessed with, because it speaks to him.  Rose gets obsessed with what someone else is obsessed with, because it gives her a way to connect.  Z doesn’t mind if nobody else understand him, as long as they accept him and leave him be.  Rose needs other people to understand her so they can love her, because she needs love.

The Boy’s parenting style crosses over well into parenting Miss Rose.  He is what she needs him to be.  She needs him to embrace her involvement in the things he loves, so he celebrates Liverpool goals with her, he embraces her in huge cuddles before he leaves the house and promises he’ll return, he constantly reassures her that he loves her.

My parenting style does not cross well into parenting Z because I have no idea what I’m doing without the reassurance of the emotional response.  I am needy.  I need to be celebrated and cuddled and loved and that’s not Z’s nature, so I don’t get it.  So I get confused and anxious and worried.  I worry that I’m a terrible step mother and that he hates me.  I get upset about it, but for me as much as for him.  I’m upset that I’m not good enough, as much as I’m upset that he is being let down.  Of course, The Boy reassures me it’s not like that at all and he’s just chilled out, but I’m a big needy mess sometimes and worry constantly.

I do not have that selfless parenting nature that The Boy so naturally has.  And I feel incredibly guilty about that.  I’d love to be able to just switch off that emotional neediness but I don’t know how.

Had Z been my biological child I don’t know how I’d have coped without the input I depend on from Rose.  In some ways it’d have been easier because Rose is SUCH an open wound that she feels EVERYTHING incredibly deeply, and the slightest pain is absolutely agonising to her as much as the slightly joy is ecstasy.  Z is much easier as he tends to just bob along in neutral and not let the little things bother him either way.  But I’m too needy, I’d have struggled.  I’d have craved the desperate joyful hug on reunion, I’d have needed the cuddle and kiss goodbye and the promise I’d be missed.

So it worked out really well that our biological children so naturally fit our own parenting style so well.

So then there’s the question of Baby B.

Photo credit Gris Guerra

Photo credit Gris Guerra

Will she be one of the bleeding heart desperate for love ones, or will she be one of the satisfied in her own skin and not need boosting from others ones?

If she’s like me and Rose I’ll find it much easier, I’ll understand her and she’ll give me what I need to be happy as a mother.  If she’s not I’ll have to learn to adjust because I don’t want to try and force her to fit a mold she doesn’t naturally fall into.  I don’t want to be so emotionally needy that I do her harm in demanding she gives me what I want, even if it puts her in a position she’s not happy in.

I need to learn to be self sufficient like Z.  I need to learn to be selfless in my parenting style like The Boy.  Because right now the idea of Baby B not crawling into my lap for goodbye cuddles every time I leave the building breaks my heart, and I know just how much Z would hate it if anyone tried to force him to do that.  And I don’t want to put that on Baby B because it would be cruel.

So I am going to try and learn to be more of a selfless mother.  My needs do not matter, theirs do.   That’s a mantra I must learn to live by for the happiness of my children.  Their needs, not mine.  Their needs, not mine.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

6 Reasons Baby Number Two Is Easier Than Baby Number One

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Raising my second daughter is a hugely different experience to raising my first.  Despite having my first daughter, a step son, and a career going on at the same time, which should make the experience altogether harder, it is in fact significantly easier.

I’ll explain why.

1) I DON’T WORRY ABOUT MILESTONES

When I first had Rose I googled everything.  I knew what she should be able to do at every stage in her life, scoured the emails I got listing what she should be achieving, and I obsessed about it.

I trust my instincts far more this time.  If I think something’s wrong I’ll seek advice from professionals, but I don’t need to constantly monitor every last thing she does, or doesn’t do, and because of that I’m not being told by various different internet “experts” that something’s wrong that isn’t.

They get there in the end.  Sure, if she seems significantly delayed in an area I’ll get her seen, but I generally I just don’t care.  She’ll get there when she’s ready.

2) I DON’T CARE WHAT PEOPLE THINK

With Miss Rose I wanted to prove I could do it.  I wanted to show people I could be a good mum and that meant I wanted them to think I’m a good mum, and that meant I had to do the things they thought make you a good mum.

And everyone thinks different things!  Whether it’s breastfeeding, co-sleeping, what they wear, where you take them… everyone will have an opinion on what you should or should not be doing.

Now I just don’t care.  I know I can do it because I’ve already done it, and what other people think just doesn’t matter.  I parent my way, not their way.  She’s my child, not their child.

3) I CO-SLEPT FROM THE START

With Miss Rose it took weeks of nightly misery before I eventually succumbed to co-sleeping and I felt like I was a failure.  I agonised over it and swore I would put a stop to it as soon as I was able.  I felt ashamed of myself.

This time?  We have a c0-sleeper crib on the side of the bed.  Sometimes she goes in it, sometimes she doesn’t.  It gives us space on the side of the bed that she can safely roll into without the threat of falling out of bed and I just don’t worry about it.  She breastfeeds all night sometimes, on and off others, and just a bit on rare ones.  But whatever kind of feeding night it is I don’t have to move more than just slightly changing position to offer her the other nipple.  She sleeps contentedly because she is against me, warm and safe, and never feels cold or alone or afraid.  She is content and secure.  She literally never cries at night.

4) SHE WEARS WHAT I WANT TO PUT HER IN

Don’t put your little girl in pink, always dress a newborn in white, never leave a baby in a onesie all day.  Always dress girls like girls, babies should wear bright patterns, dressing a baby up is selfish and makes them uncomfortable.

These thoughts were banging around in my head as the words of passing strangers, family and friends all rocketed about.  What am I supposed to dress her in!?!

With Baby B she wears what I fancy dressing her in.  Today she’s just wearing soft cotton onesie.  Other days she wears a pretty dress and flowery tights, other times dungarees or leggings.  Because honestly, it just does not matter.

5) I HAVE DISTRACTIONS

With Miss Rose I gave up work, had very little to do other than raise her, and I was obsessed.  I knew every little thing she did at every moment.  I knew everything about her.  I obsessed over her.  Because nothing else was around to take my attention.

As hard as it is getting everything done whilst trying to raise and breastfeed a newborn, the constant barrage of distractions from work as well as the other children means I just do not notice or have time to worry about the small stuff.  I don’t have the time to obsess that I used to.

It’s not that I care less, or even really that I worry less, it’s simply that I don’t have time to indulge in those concerns and therefore have to just assume everything’s okay.  And it is!

6) I’M MORE SUPPORTED

With Miss Rose I lived out in the countryside in a beautiful big house that was extremely isolated.  I had no friends with children, at least not at first, and the friends I did have worked all week so I didn’t get to see them much anyway.  I lacked adult interaction, and because my husband at the time was away a lot and not very involved, I felt extremely alone.

This time my partner is very involved, I have friends, I live in town close to other people, and I have regular contact with people who help and offer kindness and understanding.  And it makes a HUGE difference.  I know now that it’s something I need to ensure I maintain as well, and I do.

 

 

Of course, elements do make it harder.  There’s no doubt I’m completely drained with trying to keep up with everything, I have less time and attention for all of the children, and I worry that everyone suffers because of it… but for the most part adding Baby B to the family has been so much easier than I expected, and so much easier than when I had Miss Rose.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

People Collector

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I am lucky that I feel so secure in my relationship with my daughter, because it would be easy not to.  If I was the jealous and possessive kind of mother that my grandmother was then I would struggle to cope with a child like Miss Rose.

Why?

She’s a people collector.

As soon as The Boy leaves for work, she starts.  She wants her daddy, she misses her daddy, she doesn’t want her daddy to leave, she needs another cuddle from her daddy.  The moment he gets home from work she starts on her nanny.  I want my nanny, I love my nanny, I miss my nanny.

She is never satisfied with just me.

Some people are passionate about art or music, others about football or films.  Miss Rose loves lots of things, she loves My Little Pony, she loves Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman, and she loves art.  But her biggest passion is her people, and what she wants more than anything is all her people all together.  But her nanny and her daddy are on a pedestal above all others.

Her adoration of her nanny goes beyond that of a “normal” grandmother/grand daughter relationship.  I hesitate saying “normal” because I’m not convinced there’s such a thing, but it suits purpose.

My mum, Rose’s nanny, was with me throughout the pregnancy and there when Rose was born.  She was one of the first people to see her and to hold her.  For the first year of her life we lived next door to my mum and, as my husband was out A LOT, my mum stepped in and filled in the gaps as it were.  She often looked after Rose whilst I showered, helped with her bath times, and was there for story times.  She filmed Rose’s learning to walk, was there for Rose’s injections, and was a source of comfort and stability from the start.

After my husband left I relied on my mum even more.  When I was mentally struggling with my health and needed help all the time, my mum would come and sit with us, hold me, play with Rose so I could get my head together.  She’d sing to her, cuddle her and read to her.

My mum was, essentially, Miss Rose’s father figure.  Her real feather wasn’t around, she had me as a very present mother who spent all day, every day with her, and my mum did the rest.  My mum gave her what her daddy would have given her.  She was the apple of my mum’s eye, the light of my mum’s life.  She was the main focus for both of us, someone we both loved with an immeasurable intensity.  Someone who loved us both fiercely.

When I moved out and went to live alone, she saw her biological father occasionally but it was my mum she still depended on.  She obviously craved the additional parent in her life.  The alternative to mummy.

And then I met The Boy.  A man who was already a father so knew the role and played it well, with thought and with heart.  He stepped into her life and, over time, became the father she had been missing out on.  The father she had longed to turn my mother into.  He was there how my mum couldn’t be.  He was there every day, there at bedtime and there in the morning.  He was there for cuddles and kisses on the sofa for films on a Saturday, and there for fun and frolics in the garden on Sunday.  He was there in the way her biological father never was, and he rapidly moved from being “Jon” to “Daddy Jon” to “Daddy”.

He was also there in a way my mum never truly was.  He did the bad stuff.  The stuff parents hate and that grandparents, no matter how present they are in the way my mum was, don’t do.  He did the midnight tantrums, he did the discipline over throwing toys.  He did the setting rules and the worrying about the biting phase.  He changed nappies, cleaned up vomit, and got smacked by tiny toddler hands as she flailed around mid strop.  He became the father figure she had wanted.

But now she’s left with this situation.  She has a father figure, a daddy, who she adores in the form of The Boy.  Then she has another father figure who does all the good stuff, all the fun stuff, and none of the bad stuff, in the form of her nanny.

She is completely devoted to both.  Longs for both.  Loves both.  Misses both intensely.  When she has one she cries for the other.

When The Boy went for a jog one evening and she’d refused to have a goodnight cuddle she completely fell apart, crying and screaming because she wanted her daddy.  When we had been to a theme park for the day with my mum and she was all worn out, and she saw my mum get into her own car to go home rather than into ours, she screamed herself senseless that she wanted her nanny.

I have watched that little girl break her heart over their absence from her life in an intense and awful way.  I watched her falling apart and totally breaking down over the absence of her biological father too.  Because Miss Rose needs her people.

I’m told by both that she feels the same way about me when I’m not there, and constantly complains of missing me and needing me.  I believe it too.  I know nobody replaces me in her affection, I know she loves me.  But I also know I’m not enough for her and her need for her other two parental figures is just as real as her need for her mother is.

Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes I worry, but mostly I don’t.

Today, when she was whinging that she misses nanny, I asked her; “Would you rather live with nanny than mummy?”

And she looked thoughtful for a moment and said, “I want to live with nanny, but then I want to come home to mummy and daddy and live here too.”

She went on to explain that when she wakes up in the middle of the night at nanny’s house she gets hot buttered toast.  When she wakes up in the middle of the night here she gets told to go back to sleep.  So sometimes it’s better to live at nanny’s.

I love my little girl intensely.  More than she realises.  More than she’ll probably realise until she has children of her own.  But she has other adults in her life who love her too, and that will never be something I begrudge her.  I don’t need to be the only one she loves and depends on.  I just need to be one of the ones she loves and depends on.

And I’m not going to start making her hot buttered toast at 1am no matter how much she asks to go and live at nanny’s!

If you have any thoughts I’d love to hear, so get in touch! You can check out my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk where you’ll also find links to my podcasts and my novels in The Lilly Prospero series.  Check it all out and get in touch!