Tag Archives: mums

Raising Children With A Sex Not A Gender

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’m raising my children to know their sex, not their gender.

To explain I’ll describe what I mean by each.  Their sex is what they are.  The girls have vaginas and XX chromosomes, the boy has a penis and XY chromosomes.  Obviously there are other physiological differences but that’s the basics.

Gender is something else.  Gender is what each sex is “supposed” to be interested in, “supposed” to like, think and feel.  It’s the boys like pirates, girls like princesses, and boys like football, girls like ballet, school of thought.

So, how do I raise them with one not the other?  And why?

They need to know their sex.  There are medical issues that could come into play for one thing; they need to know their body parts in order to describe any pain or discomfort.  They need to understand the changes that they’re going to experience on their bodies, things that will happen to them because of their sex.

Whilst I definitely believe we all need to know the physiology of the opposite sex, when it’s going to happen to your own body what you learn needs to be more intense.  I’ll be teaching the girls about periods; how to use tampons or pads, what pain relief works best.  I’ll be teaching the girls about yeast infections and what to look out for, what treatment to use.  The boy needs to learn about erections and testicular pain, about his voice dropping.  These are basic simple biological differences that will manifest as they grow and experience life.

But gender is unnecessary.  And in some cases it is harmful.

There’s a flow chart floating around social media that is spectacular at explaining why children do not need gender.

IS IT OPERATED WITH GENITALS?

/                                   \

YES                                             NO

/                                                              \

THIS ISN’T FOR CHILDREN                      YOUR CHILD CAN PLAY WITH IT

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

Photo credit Cheryl Holt

Nothing that children play with, watch or wear is restricted to their sex.  Absolutely nothing.  There is absolutely no reason boys can’t play with My Little Ponies, Barbies or hair dressing sets.  There is absolutely no reason girls can’t play with dinosaurs, trucks and footballs.  And when we teach them that it’s not the case problems happen.

I recently had a conversation with someone one Twitter who’s raising her little boy as female now.  I assume that doesn’t include learning about the medical reasons he needs to know about his body, I don’t suppose she’ll be teaching him about period cramps and how to get blood stains out of knickers.  She’s raising him as socially female.

She tweeted that every birthday and Christmas he asked for dolls, and every year he cried when he was bought trucks.  I asked why she couldn’t just let him play with dolls?  Why not let the kid have what he wanted?  She said because he was teased for it, made fun of, laughed at for liking girl’s toys.

She taught him that the bullies were right.  She taught him that the bullies were right and he was wrong.  That something is wrong with him.  She changed him, not the bullies.

He is now on a path.  He’s being raised as a girl now.  He’s on a path that leads children into puberty blockers, a life time of medication, hormone therapy and, if he chooses to go down that path, surgery.  Or if he’s like high profile trans child Jazz Jennings who went on puberty blockers, he’ll find that his development is so damaged that not only is he unsuitable for surgery, but he’ll also not develop fully and he’ll grow older with an infant’s penis on an adult body, with nothing anybody can do to help.

Because he wanted a Barbie.

With other parents that could be my children.  Miss Rose is not a traditionally feminine girl in a lot of ways.  She likes her hair short, she loves football.  She plays with bricks and cars and super heroes.  With different parents she could easily have been taught that they are boys toys, that there’s something wrong with her wanting those things.  The more traditionally “girly” things she enjoys could have been hyped up, she could have been forced to grow her hair long and wear frilly pink dresses.  She’d be uncomfortable, she’d feel she was wrong.  She’d be told that only girls like these, only boys like those.  But she likes those.  You can see how their little brains make that leap without any slight concept of what they’re getting into.

Gender stereotypes being imposed on children starts them on their journey to adulthood in a way that is just not healthy.  Fifty years ago that meant little girls grew up to be housewives.  They were forced to play with make up sets, ironing boards, and dolls being groomed for a life of servitude, beauty and motherhood.  Little boys were forced to play with weapons, cars and blocks, preparing them for a life of adventure, money making and dominance.

Photo credit KlimKin

We started to leave that behind.  Movements like Let Toys Be Toys highlighted that any child can play with any toy.  We’re becoming accepting of little girls who like adventure and little boys who like domesticity.  We’re moving towards embracing both facets of our personalities, little girls like Miss Rose loving toy cars and My Little Ponies without any concept that she could be wrong in doing so.

But the more tolerant we become of celebrating differences, the more intolerant we become of those who are different.

Now it’s more tolerant to believe a little boy who likes Barbie is really a girl.  It’s more tolerant to think a little girl who likes her hair short and doesn’t wear pink is really a boy.

Gender stereotyping is getting a resurgence in popularity but under a new name, and instead of those who are against gender stereotyping being the progressives, it’s those who will strictly conform to it to the point of medicating their children who are applauded.

My children will be raised to know their sex.  To know their bodies, to understand what they do and how they work, how they’ll change and what to do to be healthy.  They’ll be taught to love their bodies, respect their bodies, nurture their bodies.

My children will not be taught their gender.  They’ll never hear from us “that’s a girl’s toy” or “only boy’s wear that”, and if they hear it from others they’ll swiftly be reassured that it’s nonsense, that they’re perfect they way they are.  If they’re teased for their differences I’ll never side with their bullies.  Ever.

Femininity and masculinity are both fine.  Women and men are both fine.  Girls and boys are both fine.  It’s okay to be anywhere on the feminine to masculine scale regardless of what sex you were born.

I’m raising my children to know their sex, but not give a flying f*ck about their gender.

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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Don’t Believe Me Just Watch

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.

Everyone comments on the similarities my daughters share with other blood relatives (and in some cases none blood relatives).  My youngest daughter looks just like her father, and smiles like her uncle Chris.  My oldest daughter looks a lot like my brother and has a generosity of spirit like my mum.  They have attributes like lots of people around them, but the one thing they both share with me is a pig headed, dogged, stubborn determination.  If they want to do something they will do it.

This morning Miss Rose wanted to write Grandma.  She has been practicing her writing, her pen grip, forming her letters, and because her Grandma was coming to visit she wanted to write it perfectly as a gift.  So we started.

The first effort her G went a little bit loopy.  The second she got the D the wrong way around.  A few had the A go a bit wiggly and sometimes it simply was too long for the page.  She wouldn’t stop.

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

“Again” she’d say.

Time and time again she wrote it out.  Page after page of practice letters, errors, mistakes.  She wrote it and wrote it and wrote it until finally she had written grandma in her very best letters and she was thrilled.  She had done it and she had done it to the best of her ability and she had worked tirelessly until she achieved it.  Failing didn’t put her off.  Mistakes didn’t stop her.

At the same time, Baby Boo was forcing herself to climb a chair over and over again.  She wanted to stand and she was grabbing the chair, dragging herself to her feet, then letting go and tumbling backwards.  She landed on her bottom repeatedly; she landed heavily and cried, then she got back up.  She landed with a roll, flipped herself back over and headed straight for the chair.

Miss Rose walked and talked early because the dogged determination she shows with her writing is what she showed for her baby skills.  “You can’t understand me?  I’m going to make new noises until I learn which ones communicate.”  She wanted to walk because she knew she’d reach things and places more successfully if she wasn’t on her knees, so she did it time and time again until she got there.

I had this theory that because younger siblings get their older siblings to do everything for them that they don’t need to push themselves.  Certainly I’ve seen this a lot, they get there but don’t push because they don’t need to.  Baby Boo is bucking that trend hard.  Hold her hands and she walks, let her go and she’ll stand for as long as she can then falls then tries again.  She is nine months and she’s well on her way.

This pig headed stubbornness is what lead me to work so hard on Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit.   I wrote it, it was wrong.  I wrote it again, it was still wrong.  I knew what I wanted to do, I knew what I wanted to achieve, and when I didn’t manage it I just did it again.  I kept standing up every time I landed with a bump.  I kept writing it every time a letter went a bit too loopy.  Write, edit, write, edit, rewrite, re-edit.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, Lilly Prospero

Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit by J.J. Barne

That said, if it’s something I’m not interested in I don’t.  I wouldn’t have pushed and pushed myself to become a physicist or mathematician, I wouldn’t have worked so tirelessly to be a doctor or nurse or artist or dancer.  I will give up if it’s something I don’t believe in, something I don’t want.

Being a novelist is what I wanted.  Standing and walking is what Boo wants.  Writing is what Rose wants.  And tells us we can’t do it?  Sorry, but no.

Writing a book is a long shot.  Most people want to, few manage.  Those who do manage rarely manage to be read and their books sit on their laptops being ignored by the world.  Don’t bother working for that when it’s not going to achieve anything was the recommendation of many.  You won’t get there.  It won’t be you.

Don’t believe me?  Just watch.

Boo will be walking.  Rose will be writing.  I recognise that grit in their teeth, that look in their eyes.

My girls are stubborn like me, and it’s a trait that can make us hard to live with and impossible to argue with.  But dammit it makes us tireless in our pursuits.  We can’t be convinced not to do something we believe we can do.  We fail time and time again and we keep going.  All three of us have goals and that stubbornness is coming into it’s own.

We will achieve it.  We will get there.  We’ll be walking, writing and succeeding before you know it.

Don’t believe me?  Just watch.

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!

Baby’s C.V

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.

NAME

Baby Boo

DOB

July 2016

ADDRESS

Wherever Mummy’s Boobs Are

EDUCATION

I have studied under the masters; my big sister and big brother.  Under their tutorage I have mastered the arts of fake crying when I want something, and throwing things when I don’t.

SPECIAL SKILLS

Clapping

Raspberry Blowing

Roaring

Growling

Falling off things

Crawling into things

Grabbing things

Biting

SPECIAL INTERESTS

I am passionately interested in remote controls and mobile phones, and I have developed, through an intense period of training, the impressive ability to retrieve them from even the most discreet locations.

Baby wipes hold a certain appeal to me.  I find pulling them all from the package and tasting each one individually to be incredible rewarding.  Indeed, I believe I am now something of a connoisseur.

I am very musically minded.  I have a piano which plays a tune that appeals to me greatly and I like to play it on repeat.  My mummy’s reaction is particularly entertaining to me; her face contorts into hilarious expressions after the seventh time through.  I am also developing skills in percussion.  I have several rattling devices which can be smacked against a variety of surfaces to create different sounds, such as tables, chairs, walls and heads.

WORK GOALS

I believe I am most suited to shift work.  I am very comfortable working late nights and early morning.  Indeed I often insist everyone gets up at 1AM just for the pleasure of experiencing such rarely appreciated hours.

I would do well in a creative role.  When presented with a bowl of pasta or soup I am able to, with minimal effort create works of art so incredible that my Mummy takes photographs whilst crying out “Oh my God” and “Look at you” and “Nobody step in it!” due to her desire to preserve my creations for the maximum time possible.

I have excellent leadership skills and would suit a role in management.  I am able to elicit the desired responses from my family with ease, indeed their entire structure has been reshaped simply to accommodate my arrival into the workplace.  If I am able to achieve that within days of my birth, imagine what I’ll do over the following years.

RELATIONSHIPS WITH COLLEAGUES

I have excellent interpersonal skills.

My Mummy seems extremely willing to cater to my needs and willingly involves me in all her daily activities.  I am privy to such things as toilet use, showering, cooking, cleaning, wine drinking and crying.  I am allowed unfettered access to her breasts, indeed on occasion I have demanded access simply because I haven’t seen them in some time.  On being presented I am satisfied and refuse them, just to make sure she knows I am boss.

My Daddy clearly worships the ground I crawl on, and even though he regularly fails me by not offering me his own breasts, he seems most determined to achieve my happiness despite a substandard body.

My brother and sister seem very taken with me and allow me to take their toys without complaint.  When they do attempt complaint they are reminded that I am indeed only a baby and therefore their job is to accommodate my needs.  This is one of my favourite aspects of my currant position and I intend to make use of this for at least the next fifteen years.  Possibly more.

The Grandparents are particularly superb at catering to my needs.  A simple smile or fart elicits celebration of my skill and wonder beyond anything the ordinary family members have achieved in months.  I am certain that should our business relationship continue I will be able to engage in many hours of unprecedented chocolate eating, that which the Mummy and Daddy would no doubt attempt to complain about should they be privy.  I, however, know how to keep the workplace running smoothly and operate a policy of don’t ask, don’t tell.

PERSONAL STATEMENT

I, Baby Boo, believe no finer baby exists.  I am marvellous.  I am incredible.  Admire my toes, there are ten of them.  Ten!  And have you seen my thighs?  I am regularly reminded that they are fantastic and “squishable”.  I will fill any home with laughter.  I will fill any heart with love.  I am, quite simply, a wonder of the modern age.

 

 

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!

Mummy’s Only Human

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.

As a mother I feel I should be impenetrable.  I should be strong as a rock.  I should take anything my children throw at me and handle it without a flinch, because I am a mother.

But I’m not a rock.  I’m not impenetrable.  I flinch.

Sometimes I flinch more than I do at other times.

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by life right now.  I have enough work to do to work solidly for 27 hours a day.  I start as soon as I wake, be that midnight or 5AM.  Today it was 3AM.  I stop when I physically cannot go on anymore.  I usually work on my phone in bed before I finally pass out.

As well as my work I have children to raise, animals to care for, a house to clean, food to cook, and relationships to maintain.  I look around my house, that I know is a big joke to most on account of the sheer levels of chaos, and I know I need to sort it.  I need to do more to keep it nice.  Instead I do the bare minimum, and sometimes not even that because compared to my work and my children it just sinks on my priority list.

The problem is the result is that because nothing gets as much attention as it deserves, my children, my work, my diet (which is mainly cup-a-noodles and the occasional bag of mini eggs), all end up neglected and everything piles up in my mind until it’s a swirling ball of chaos with every voice shouting at me that I’m not doing enough, that nothing is good enough.

And I’m overwhelmed.

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

Photo credit Counselling

When I’m overwhelmed I feel constantly on the brink of mental turmoil and my ability to handle what my children sometimes throw at me drops.

This morning I was trying to edit an article, promote a newspaper piece we appeared in, engage in social media promotion, breast feed my baby, look after my daughter, and drink a coffee.  When my big girl decided to suddenly launch at me for a hug that involved standing over the top of me on the sofa and wrapping her arms around my throat.

I panicked.

My sense of personal space being intruded upon is one of the first things to go when I start to crack.  I need physical distance.  I feel oppressed when people crowd in on me.  I feel frightened when people move suddenly.  I panic when I am grabbed.  My daughter only wanted to love me, she only wanted to hug me, but the force of the grab around the neck, the looming presence that appeared over the top of me, the pressure down.  It was too much and I snapped.

“GET OFF ME!” I screeched at her, flapping my arms to get her away from me.

She broke her heart.  She had only wanted to love me.  To hold me.

I forced myself to calm down then pulled her in for a cuddle.  I apologised and explained that I need a bit of space sometimes.  She apologised too and we had a hug.

I hated myself for reacting to her like that.  It’s not her fault I carry scars that make bodily contact occasionally traumatic.  It’s not her fault that breastfeeding my baby takes that last bit of coping with human contact ability I have.  It’s not her fault I struggle to handle pressure.  It’s not her fault I’m so busy.  None of it is her fault.

But, equally so, she needs to learn that people are human and carry bruises around with them that you can’t see.  Bruises that, even with good intentions and seemingly innocuous behaviour, can be prodded causing pain.  She needs to learn that anyone has the right to reject physical intimacy, and doing so doesn’t mean they don’t love you.  She needs to learn that people have their own needs.  And that includes Mummy.

I wish I was a rock.  I wish they could count on me to handle everything they throw at me with calm strength, to teach them lessons about respecting people’s needs without cracking.  But I’m not.  I’m only human and human’s are not perfect.  Humans are damaged.

I’m doing my best but I’m only human.  And sometimes I crack.

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!

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!

Triggered By My Children

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.

People like to joke about the word “triggered”.  It’s a big laugh about lefty liberals being mentally weak and unable to take criticism, unable to take a joke.  It’s used as a criticism.  To mock people.

It is not a joke.

It is especially not a joke when the person doing the triggering is your own child.  Your child who you love and adore, value over all others, and who even at their most angry has no comprehension of the fireworks bashing around on the inside of your brain when they’re doing something triggering.  They don’t mean to, and even if they did, the can’t comprehend what it is anyway.  And the whole time you’re being mentally broken by the fireworks of panic, you have to maintain at least some degree of composure because there are little human lives depending on you to parent them.

I have, at various points, been triggered by all three of my children in different ways.

It doesn’t happen all the time.  If I’m feeling at my most strong and my most healthy I can ride through most things they throw at me.  But if I’m feeling bogged down by the weight of life already, if I’m already struggling to process a stress or anxiety that is really pushing into me, what they add to that load can be incredibly difficult to carry.

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

Photo credit Counselling

Miss Rose will, when fully enraged (which thankfully is rare) stamp her foot with huge force.  It shakes the floor.  The rage in her beautifully little face, the impact of the foot on the floor,  I feel it.  It hits hard at my chest and catches my breath.  So much of me feels that stamping is a great way for her to externalise her anger without harming anyone or breaking anything.  It’s also a classic child tantrum manoeuvre.  There probably isn’t a child in history who hasn’t stamped at their mother when angry about some perceived injustice.  But I beg her not to do it.  I have, at times of weakness, broken down in tears because of her stamping at me and I cannot tell you how pathetic I feel when that happens.  When I cry it immediately calms her and she comes to me, holds me, and tells me she’s sorry.  The pain of others is something she instinctively needs to fix, and then I feel like an emotional blackmailer and hate myself even more.

Her other move that I struggle with is when she’s being clingy.  I feel her pressing against me where I sit, her arms snaking around me, her fingers pulling at my clothes, her breath wafting against me.  I feel suffocated.  I can’t breathe.  Sometimes it’s fine and I cuddle her back, I know she’s feeling insecure or vulnerable, maybe poorly or sad, and all I want to do is give her the physical comfort she needs.  But sometimes I can’t handle it.  I feel intruded upon, like ownership and control of my body is being taken from me.  I need space.  I have to get away from her.  And how terrible I feel when that happens I cannot express.  Moving away slows my heart rate and usually I am able to come back and give her the cuddle she needs, but in the moment I betray that and I hate myself for it.

In a similar way Baby Boo has triggered me by being so permanently attached to me that I feel out of control of my body.  Violated.  Owned.  I hate it.  I have to put her down, or in the arms of another, and take a break.  When she’s crying and clawing at me I feel my head fog coming and I have to escape.  She’s a tiny baby who knows nothing except her need for comfort from mummy and I run away.  I run away.

My step son triggers me because, in the words of Jonathan McKinney, I cannot show him that I’m the baboon with the biggest, reddest ass.  When he gets angry he will sometimes hit out.  I have taken fists to the face, the arms, the head.  I was kicked in the belly whilst I was pregnant.  I panic.  I cannot handle it.  I’ve been broken to tears and a shaking wreck because the moment those tiny, male fists land on me I just cannot handle it.  I know he’s a little boy not a grown man.  I know I am bigger and stronger.  I know I’m the parent.  But I just break.  I panic.  I am afraid.  The swirling , exploding, fog of fear in my head won’t let me see my own power and strength and instead breaks me into a cowering, woman below the anger of a dominant male.  There are no words for how much I hate myself for that.  I have taken to backing away from him should anger flare up, avoiding the confrontation, and in so doing that I am failing him.  I am failing to parent a child who needs me.  A child I love and am responsible for.

Being triggered is not a joke.  It stops you living your life normally.  When your own child is the one doing the triggering, you take them down with you.

My children aren’t harmed or neglected through this struggle, but they are negatively impacted.  Made to feel that they’re doing something worse than they are, because if I was not being triggered I would be able to handle it so much more successfully and parent them through it.

JJ. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly PRospero Series, Rose And Mum And More,, The Lilly Prospero Series, Mummy Blogger

Photo Credit Greyer Baby

But hitting walls and stamping feet has been a precursor to pain.  Fists to the face have carried genuine weight and power.  Snaking hands and breath on my neck has been followed by violations of my body and self that haunt me.  I wish it were different.

I am not a snowflake.  I am dealing as best as I can with something I can only assume those who joke about triggers have no comprehension of.  And I’m pleased for them.  I wouldn’t wish these triggers on a soul.  I wouldn’t wish panic attacks on anyone.  I wouldn’t wish anyone’s child to be carrying the burden of seeing their mother in that state.

But if you aren’t triggered don’t mock those who are.  Respect what they’re going through.  Because it’s not an easy weight to bare.

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!

 

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!