Tag Archives: Pregnancy

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!

 

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Grieiving For The Baby I Never Want To Have

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.

There is a myriad of reasons why I don’t want another baby.

Primarily I feel complete with the girls and step son I have.  I have no longing for another child, no brooding urge that I’m having to suppress.  I don’t want to have another baby.  I am happy.  More than happy.  My family feels complete.

Even  if it was financially viable, even if we weren’t a family of five in a two bedroom house, I wouldn’t want another baby.

Even if I had nearly died during my last pregnancy.  Even if the constant hospital visits hadn’t taken a toll on mine and my daughter’s mental health.  Even if I hadn’t had two months of constant agonising contractions.  If my pregnancy had been healthy and normal, I still wouldn’t want another baby.

Nothing in me wants another baby.

I am comfortable with the decision we have made.  I don’t regret it for a second.

But I feel like I’m in mourning.

Photo credit One_Life

Photo credit One_Life

The whole “Biological Clock” thing is so weird.  It shouldn’t impact me.  I had my first daughter at 27 after one attempt to get pregnant.  I had my second daughter at thirty after zero attempts to get pregnant.  I’m super fertile.  I’m also thirty one and don’t want anymore children so why would that be something that is bothering me?

I don’t want another baby.  Now.

But what if that changed?  What if in, say, ten years we are really successful?  I’m selling loads of books, topping best seller lists, we have a house where our children all get their own rooms and their own spaces, they’re doing well in school, they’re having violin or piano lessons, dance lessons, art lessons, football lessons.  I’m not struggling at the end of the month, I’m not mentally calculating whether the council tax bill will mean we can’t buy the weekly shop.  All our hard work has paid off and we are able to provide our children with the lives we so desperately want them to have…

Will I regret my choice?

Will that little girl (I say girl because I just assume I make girls now) who’s never had a chance to live be missed?  Will that little girl who we would love with such ferocious desperation if she did accidentally make her way into the world leave a huge hole in our hearts because she’s not there?  Baby Boo wasn’t planned and we couldn’t afford her, we were a family of four in a two bedroom house.  We weren’t planning a baby and yet now the idea of this world existing without her in it is horrifying.  Baby Boo needs to exist.  She needs to be here and without her all our lives would be worse.

What if in ten years I realise I gave up my chance to create another one of these amazing little girls because I didn’t have faith in myself to sell the books I work so hard on, and didn’t want to put myself through a few months of pain?  I would go through that pain a thousand times over for Boo.  I would put myself to the brink of death right now to ensure she gets to be with us.  Nothing about her life gives me a hesitation of regret.

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

Photo credit Gris Guerra

Does the world need me to have another baby like it needs Boo?

Do I need to have another baby like I need Boo?

I don’t want one.  I really don’t want one.

I can’t put myself or my children through that again.  Promising my little girl I’d be picking her up from school then disappearing in an ambulance and not seeing her for days at a time whilst she had no idea why or when I was coming home was too much.  She was devastated.  Putting my body through that has left a lasting impact to this day that genuinely makes us fear for my life.

My life is complete with the children I have.

I don’t want another baby and have taken steps to ensure it doesn’t happen.

But what if I’m just trying to convince myself?  Would I have these worries if I was absolutely certain in my decision?

I’m glad I’ve got contraception in place.  I don’t want another surprise.  I don’t want to make a stupid choice in a moment of panic.  I don’t want another baby.

But the world will never get to meet her.  I’ll never get to meet her.  She gets no shot at life.

And my girls are amazing.  They’re perfect.  So she would be too.  She would have been incredible.

So I grieve for her.  Because she will never come to be.

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!

#allaboutme

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 was tagged by my lovely fellow blogger @SprinkleOfPixie, who writes Baby Pixie And Me, to write a post with ten facts about me that you may not know!

1) I have a very rare allergy

I’m allergic  to my own blood.  It’s an auto immune condition where my blood becomes an allergen sometimes.  It can make me come out in an itchy rash, vomit or get very ill with very little warning and is one of the contributing factors to the swine flu nearly killing me whilst I was pregnant.

2) I’m vegetarian

I stopped eating meat for short periods throughout my childhood but gave it up for good when I was thirteen.  In the eighteen years since I’ve only ever eaten meat when served it accidentally.  I don’t miss it at all and the idea of eating meat now grosses me out, whereas I used to love meat when I wasn’t veggie.

3) I met my husband when I was 23

We got married when I was 26 and had Miss Rose when I was 27.  He left when I was 28 and my divorce was finalised when I  was 29.

4) I’ve never smoked a cigarette

When I was a teenager I hung out with lots of smokers in grungy rock clubs but never tried.  I also never smoked weed or tried any other drugs.  People always assume that was my history but it never appealed and never has and I hate the smell of it still.

5) I started modelling for a while

I tried it for a while and a few people wanted me to keep going but I was too short for fashion modelling and unwilling to pose nude, plus I wasn’t the right look at all so I wouldn’t have got much work even if I had really tried.  My heart wasn’t in it anyway, I felt pretty shit about myself when I did it and genuinely wish I hadn’t done it.  It was a silly impulsive idea I knew I wasn’t cut out for and used to validate my feelings of being unattractive and worthless.  It broke my already low self esteem into shreds.  I’d never encourage my daughters to explore that as an option.

6) I am a runaway fantasist

Part of me always longs to runaway.  To just take what I need, leave everything else, and disappear.  Start fresh.  When I was single with my daughter after my marriage broke down I even researched places I could take her and disappear to.  Now is the only time in my life that desire hasn’t been a prominent lingering urge to be ignored.  Now it only pops up in times of extreme stress.

7) I’m a terrible singer

I have no ear for music, can’t carry a tune, and really can’t hold a note.  Even if I could hit an actual “note” I wouldn’t hold it.  That said I sing with gusto.  My mum and I sang to Copa Cabana at a karaoke in Spain and it was truly dreadful but very enthusiastic.  Fortunately I was drunk.

8) I have HPV

My cervix has abnormal cells with the HPV virus meaning my likelihood of developing cervical cancer is greatly increased.  Three years ago I had to have a biopsy with suspected cancerous cells but luckily they were clear.  You can develop HPV after just one incident of sex without a condom.  There is now a vaccine they’re offering to teenage girls though many are arguing against it claiming it will encourage unprotected sex.  I, however, definitely want my daughters vaccinated.

9) I hated school

I truly loathed school.  So much so that I couldn’t bare the idea of going to university, even now it baffles me that people love it and get excited by it, and so much that I don’t socialise with the group of friends I had even though they’re all still really close.  We aren’t even facebook friends.  I find reminders of that time too hard to deal with.  When I had to look around Miss Rose’s primary school I felt sick. I still feel incredibly awkward going there even though her teachers are super lovely and the school is really nice. I’m scared I transmit my own phobia to her even though I do everything I can to be calm and enthusiastic.

10) Our second daughter was named within weeks of us meeting

You wouldn’t necessarily think two cynical divorcees would be so daft, but within about 4weeks The Boy and I were referring to our future daughter by name.  Even my mum started doing it within a month or so.  When I got pregnant a year later he was so confident that she was the prophesized little blonde girl named so long ago that he wasn’t interested in discussing potential boy’s names because he knew the baby was our daughter.  Turned out he was right.  We found out the sex, she was a girl.  And he’s with us now and she’s a little blondey as he had predicted she would be, with the name given to her before she had even been conceived.

1. Share 10 things about you the person. Not you the parent, the baker or the business.
2. Name check the person who nominated you.
3. Tag 3- 5 others to share 10 things.
4. Enjoy the tidbits of information we all learn about each other.
5. Voila, job done.

I’ll nominate @MrsBaker, @OurRachBlogs, and @Life_Of_Tont

xxx

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!

A Year Ago I Nearly Died

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 talk about “near death” experiences.  How they see a bright light and get amazing amounts of clarity, maybe think of the people they love.  They talk about how life changing it is, how it focuses them on what they want and need in their lives.  At least that’s the clichéd version seen in film and TV.

My near death experience started a year ago today.  There was no bright light or clarity, there wasn’t even much fear, at least not for me.  For everyone else there was a lot of fear.  A lot.

A year ago today I was eighteen weeks pregnant and I had contracted swine flu, though at the time nobody knew that.  I was ill.  Very ill.  My mother in law came round and found me lying on the sofa in agony, throwing up, and feeling faint.  She was frightened for me and phoned my dad.

When my dad came he was worried enough to phone my mother, which isn’t something that has been known to happen often as he’s not the worrying type.  My mother got me seen immediately at the doctors, the doctor phoned the hospital.  This is where memory starts to get hazy for me.  It’s patchy, I remember bits, but mostly what I’m retelling is things that I’ve been told by those who were there.

My mother phoned Jonathan at work and he came out early, then together me, my mum, Jonathan and Miss Rose headed to the hospital.

I was blacking out.  I remember very clearly begging Jonathan to look after Rose for me.  To love her, to cuddle her.  Whether those words actually made it out or were just in my head I honestly don’t know, but I know I thought I was going to die, and I know I needed him to promise he’d love her.

My mum was driving and shaking me to try and stop me passing out, behind me Jonathan was holding my head trying to stop it going down.  I remember my mum smacking me to wake me up.  Both of them intently trying to stop me disappearing.  But mostly it’s a blur of blackness.  My mum drove up the hard shoulder of the motorway, whizzing past the traffic at the side, and saying “fuck this.”  Rose was in the back wondering what was going on, frightened.

Once we got there and I had been wheel chaired in I was hooked up to tubes and machines, my blood pressure was super low, my temperature was super high.  Blood tests were done, machines were beeping.  I remember my mother in law arriving and gently stroking my hand.  I remember her promising she’d look after the children.  I remember a nurse trying to take a blood test and going wrong twice, blood spraying over her and the floor, and me watching it in slow motion.

I remember begging Jonathan to take me home.  I remember his face set rigid.  I remember my mum telling me no, I had to stay.

I was moved into high dependency and held there being tested for things, IV bags pumping into both hands.  Jonathan was allowed to stay with me.  I needed him with me and they made allowances.  I later realised it was because they weren’t sure I’d make it.

Repeatedly I begged them to check the baby and each time they refused.  They had to stabilise me or there was no point checking the baby.  I had to be okay for the baby to be okay.  I later found out they had assumed the baby wouldn’t have survived anyway.

The next day I crashed hard.  I was unconscious and Jonathan was watching doctors and nurses circling me, trying to revive me, my blood pressure dangerously low, my heart rate plummeting, machines blasting warnings.  Jonathan was watching me die.  He was trying to work out how to tell my mum, how to tell Miss Rose.  How to raise her without me there, how to help her cope with my death.  He’d accepted the baby wasn’t going to survive and now was having to come to terms with the fact I wouldn’t survive either.  He was working out how to say goodbye.

This was one year ago.  I’m typing this at home with Baby Boo in my arms, a healthy and perfect seven month old who not only survived but wasn’t damaged by it.  Jonathan was at my side every step of the way and he still is.  Every subsequent hospital stay he was with me.  He was holding my hair back, he was helping me drag equipment to the toilet and helping me on and off.  He was cleaning me up, helping me eat, watching me sleep.

Everything is okay now.  Better than okay.  My family is gorgeous, my relationship is wonderful, my career is starting to go places.  My dedication I saw in my partner, my mother, my mother in law, these wonderful people who put their all into caring for me and my children in my time of desperate need, have given me a sense of such security and safety.  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

And yet I’m not over it.

I feel like I should be.  I feel like I should have moved on.  It’s been a whole year now.  I’m here, my baby’s here, my family is together.  But I’m not over it.

I’m still afraid.  And I know Jonathan’s still afraid.

My immune system never recovered fully.  My body never got back to full strength.  Fighting off the bug whilst sustaining a pregnancy was too much in some ways and I’m left weakened.  I catch every bug going and I catch them hard.  I’ve been collapsed on the ground vomiting whilst Jon’s cleaned me up and cared for the children.  I’ve been violently shaking before passing out whilst Jon’s held my hand and tried to keep me safe.  I’ve been so dizzy that I’ve fallen down the stairs.  I get ill.  I get really, really ill.  Whilst it was a year ago and life has moved on, I keep getting hard reminders of how close I came.  How close I could still get.

I’m not over it.

I’m frightened.

There are practical things I can do to manage that fear.  I’m taking steps to legally protect my family; making sure Jonathan retains control of the children and the business.  I’m trying to keep myself healthy as possible, I eat a healthy diet (chocolate aside) and drink lots of water.

But if I get ill again?  What if next time it’s the real thing?  What if when Jonathan thinks he’s watching me die he really is?

What then?

My children will grow up in this cruel world without the woman who loves them more than anything else on this planet.  Without the woman who would give her life for theirs.  They’ll grow up without me and I have so much to give them.  So much to do for them.

I don’t want to leave my babies.

Last year I almost died.  I almost left my babies behind.  In some ways the year since then has been the best of my life.  In some ways I am the happiest I’ve ever been.  In so many ways now is a wonderful, wonderful time to be alive.

But in some ways I am so afraid that when I lie awake at night it’s all I can think of.  I can’t get it out of my head.  Last year I almost died and there’s nothing stopping me from being there again except chance and luck.

I’m not over it yet.  I don’t know if I ever will be.  I don’t want to leave my babies.

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!

Mortality On My Mind

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.

For the last year I’ve been ill.  Not constantly, but more so than at any other point in my life.

I think it started with the swine flu whilst I was pregnant and I’ve just never fully got back to normality.  If there is a bug going round I’m guaranteed to get it and get it harder than anyone else, even harder than the kids who brought it home from nursery in the first place.  I’m currently on antibiotics for tonsillitis and this morning started a new wave of sickness.

It’s got to the point where the response is “Oh you’re ill again?” and “What is it this time?”

I’ve never been that person before.  I’ve always been pretty healthy.  I’ve had bugs, the occasional cold, but for the most part I’ve bobbed along without too much to worry about.  Yet suddenly I’m that girl.  I’m the sick one.  I’m the one with the “that time I nearly died” story that reduces people to tears when we tell it.

I don’t know why.  Is it possible the swine flu beat my immune system up so badly that I haven’t fully recovered, that the pregnancy was so straining on my body that I didn’t have the energy to properly build myself back up again?  Is it possible that it’s simply that all my body’s strength has gone into growing and then feeding my baby, who is a huge and healthy girl, so there’s nothing left for me?  Is it simply that I’m deteriorating with age?  Is that possible at 31?  I eat a healthy diet, loaded with vegetables, I’m not overweight, I’m fairly fit and I get a moderately reasonable amount of exercise, yet I’m the sick one.

The constant run of illness has brought with it a real sense of awareness about my own mortality.  It’s niggling at me.  I look at my little girls, at my family, and I know I could leave them.  Then what would happen?

Jonathan would keep Baby B, obviously, and he’d raise he well with the help of grandparents and friends who would be guaranteed to step in and help.  But what of Miss Rose?

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

Photo Credit Skitter Photos

Last night I had a nightmare, I’m having a little run of bad dreams at night recently (just to make sure my nights are stressful as well as my days I guess) and I dreamed that her biological father showed up and tried to take her.  That I screamed for Jonathan to take her away whilst I fended him off, and he attacked him, declaring he had no right to take his daughter away.

Because he doesn’t.  He’s not her father, not legally anyway.  In every sense but biology he is, but he has no rights to her.  If I die legally she would go to her biological father and Jonathan would have no access to her.  In theory neither would her grandparents.  She could be removed entirely from the life she knows, the people she depends on, and be sent to a stranger.  A stranger I do not trust.  A stranger who doesn’t love her.  Who hasn’t seen her in over a year, and even then it was at best sporadically and at worst damaging.

I feel absolutely sick about it.

The idea of leaving my children at all terrifies me.  They need me.  But B?  She’d be in the best possible position.  Her biological, loving and devoted father would be there for her every day, her grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends would surround her with the love and support she’d need.

But Rose?

Rose could be lost.  Alone.

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

Photo Credit Ventus

I don’t think I’m dying, I’m not so melodramatic, but it’s definitely made me more aware that it could happen.  That day when they thought I might not make it a year ago is very, very real.  It’s something I don’t think any of us have moved on from yet.  It haunts me, and by the way Jonathan speaks about it, I think it’s pretty clear it haunts him too.

I need to know that if I did die my girl will be kept here, with her family.  That she would be raised and cared for and loved by equally devoted and loving people that Baby B gets.  That she’d never be sent to someone who doesn’t love her.  That she would be loved, completely and truly, with utter devotion, like I love her.

What can I do?  Please.  Help me keep my little girl safe.

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!

It Wasn’t All Bad

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.

Everyone hates the year 2016.  The internet is full of people bidding the year adieu with a middle finger and a resounding “fuck off”.

The deaths of beloved icons who featured so strongly in our development such as David Bowie, Carrie Fisher and Alan Rickman have left us heartbroken.  Our leaving of the EU with Brexit has left a large portion of the country shocked and worried.  The US election pushing Donald Trump into one of the most powerful positions in the world has left much of the world genuinely terrified.  2016 has handed us some serious blows to the gut.

But for me personally?

2016 brought about some of the most wonderful events of my life.

In January 2016 a book I spent years of my life creating was released.  My first novel; Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit.  In the course of my life I wrote many books, most of them dreadful, most of them incomplete, but when I began the process of forming Magic Rabbit and the universe those characters inhabit I struck on something that was special.  It warranted the development, the thought and learning that I put into it.  They are characters I have known and loved and watched grow for longer than I have my own child.  I have invested my heart into them.  Breathed life into them.  I love them.

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

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

It developed from a simple idea of a picture book into the first novel in a series that sees my readers laugh, gasp and cry, and was the launching point of an entire world of stories with my writing partner Jonathan McKinney.

Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit changed my life.  I am now an author.  I am legally registered as a working writer.  My career may be small fry in comparison to the authors I admire and aspire to emulate the success of, but it’s a career.  It is THE career and I am incredibly proud of it.

In February I nearly died.   I was pregnant and contracted swine flu, and was rushed into hospital where I resided on high dependency in isolation with the man at my side planning how to break it to my parents and daughter that I had died.

This obviously sounds like a traumatic and terrible event but, clearly, I didn’t die.  Not only did I not die but my baby didn’t die.  Baby B survived, something nobody believed was possible.

it-wasnt-all-bad

Yes it was a traumatic event but we survived.  We came through it.  Miss Rose learned how to survive without me and became a stronger child for it, and The Boy and I found our relationship forged stronger than I knew it could be as he sat at my side in quarantine watching my heart rate drop, helping me use the toilet and cleaning up my vomit.

In July she arrived.  A binding seal between two families brought together after two divorces.  Baby B, my little wonder girl who shouldn’t have survived but did.  My second daughter.

Watching Miss Rose develop as a person with a sister was a joy.  She is devoted to her.  Totally devoted.  Cuddling and kissing her baby sister is a priority daily and she is incredibly proud of her, bragging to everyone we meet that she is a big sister.

My daughters.  My golden girls.  My joy, my true loves, my wonders.

Photo Credit Llangal

Photo Credit Llangal

And my biggest girl?  She started formal education this year.  It hasn’t always been easy but my goodness the girl has flourished.  Her first parent’s evening I was told that resoundingly she is a true joy and that her teacher wishes she had a class full of her.  Not one criticism or critique was offered.  Not one suggestion for improvement.  Nothing but praise and celebration and a big cuddle between student and teacher.

2016 has been eventful.  It has been traumatic and sad and upsetting and hard and frightening.  It is leading into a world where Trump is in power, beloved stars are absent.  But 2016 has brought about some of my life’s most beautiful and wonderful events and I will never hold hatred for this year.  The six month old baby currently suckling in my arms is enough to make 2016 a beautiful memory even without everything else.

Thank you 2016.  Most hate you but I love you.  Thank you.

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 Is It Okay To Comment On Other People’s Parenting?

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 know about you, but since I became pregnant with my first daughter I have had other people pass comment on my mothering skills.  Whether it was doing too much or too little exercise whilst pregnant, or how I manage my child’s tantrums now she’s here, everyone has an opinion.

Now, you’re totally entitled to those opinions.  I’ve certainly seen strangers and I know of friends who make parenting decisions I myself wouldn’t make.   I have also made choices myself that I’ve even in the moment regretted because it doesn’t fit my “how to parent” voice in my head.  Thinking things is fine.  The question is, when do you comment?

Here’s my handy guide of things to ask yourself before you say something to parent dealing with a child in a way you disagree with.

  1. IS THIS MY CHILD?
  2. HAS MY OPINION BEEN ASKED FOR?
  3. IS THIS CHILD BEING DEALT WITH IN A CRIMINAL MANNER?

If the answer is no, then SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Obviously many people disagree with this, I know because many people choose to pass comment on my choices, and the choices of others.  So let me explain.

There are cases where children have conditions, mental or physical conditions that cause them to react to stimuli in a way different than you might be anticipating.  Perhaps they’re overwhelmed by crowds, perhaps they’re in a lot of pain.

There are cases where children are dealing with a huge trauma in their life, perhaps the loss of a parent or sibling, and just can’t process it in a mature way and lash out because of the distress they don’t understand.

But you know what?  In probably most cases, it’s simply a kid being a kid.  Perhaps they’re tired, or they’re hungry, or they’re just tantrumming because that’s what little kids do.  Maybe the mum is handling it badly because she’s tired, or hungry, or just needs to get home for a glass of wine and if giving in to the demand gets her there faster it’ll save her the embarrassment of crying in the middle of the Tesco aisle.

Photo credit Greyer Baby

Photo credit Greyer Baby

Sometimes we make choices for reasons you don’t have to understand and that’s okay.  And I’ll give you some examples.

When Rose was a baby I was pushing her pram and carrying her in my arms.  Why?  She had cried and wanted a cuddle, and I still had some place to be, so I picked her out and cuddled her as we walked.

“She’s manipulating you, you’re making a rod for your own back,” a stranger told me.

Was it his baby?  No.  Did I ask?  No.  Was I abusing her?  No.

What should he have done?  SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Perhaps she was manipulating me, but if she was learning that her distress makes me want to soothe her, I’m okay with that because it’s true.  Perhaps I was making a “rod for my own back” but since it’s my rod and my back, and therefore I’d be the one dealing with the consequences of it, why does it offend you so?

Another time Rose was having a meltdown in ASDA.  She was tired from swimming, she was hungry, and she just lost her mind.  She was kicking and thrashing and screaming.  Not because of any condition, not because of any trauma, just because she was two years old and not handling life in a mature way.  Because she was two.

I sat down next to her in the shop and let her scream.  I moved her out of people’s way when she got underfoot and just waited it out.

“You should give her a good smack,” someone commented under his breath as he walked past.

“I wouldn’t be letting her get away with that,” said some woman.

Their child?  No.  Did I ask?  No.  Was I abusing her.  No.

Was I a tired, emotional mother, clearly dealing with a difficult, albeit totally normal problem?  Yes.  Did I benefit from their input?  No.  Did Rose?  No.

What should they have done?  SHUT THE FUCK UP

Photo credit CRKMaga

Photo credit CRKMaga

Children are exhausting and complicated and life throws situations into the air that we just have to deal with.  Sometimes we make mistakes.  Sometimes we are doing the best we can with a bad situation.  All I know is that strangers passing judgment NEVER EVER HELPS.

Whether I’m breast feeding or bottle feeding, baby wearing or buggy pushing, indulging a tantrum or being tough.  It is absolutely none of your business.  None.

So when is it okay to comment on other people’s parenting?

Pretty much never.  Just assume never.  Just keep your mouth shut.  Keep your glaring faces elsewhere.  Think what you want but absolutely nobody will benefit from you verbalising your disapproval.  If you’re seeing us struggle with a tantrum you’ll only make us feel worse.  If we’re happily dealing with a child in a way you don’t approve of, you’ll just piss us off.

Seriously, if you’re a snarky comment passer have you ever had a parent say “Hey, thanks!  You’re right!  I’ve been parenting wrongly all this time, please sit down with me and teach me your wisdom?”

No?

THEN SHUT THE FUCK UP.

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!