Tag Archives: tantrums

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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The Mum In The Corner With Wine

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.

The idea of a children’s birthday party fills me with horror.  The idea of a soft play centre on a busy Saturday makes my teeth hurt.  The idea of socialising with school gate mums who, quite frankly, terrify me is traumatic.

On Saturday we took Miss Rose and Z to a children’s birthday party for a nursery school child at a local soft play centre.

Not only was the traffic horrific but we had to threaten the children repeatedly with not going to the party at all if they didn’t stop being naughty.  Eventually, after some shouting from the boy and some sulking from the girl, we reached an accord, and in slightly irritated tension we arrived.

Inside we were greeted by the smiling mother of the birthday girl, who gratefully accepted the spangly slippers I’d wrapped from Miss Rose and the sparkly headband I’d wrapped from Z, and then the kids vanished into the soft play centre.

“Drink?” asked Jonathan.

Glancing around I observed assorted school gate mums clutching their smoothies and costa coffee cups, chatting amiably as their children screamed maniacally.

“Wine,” I said, for this was one of those soft play centres that is truly the holy grail of children’s birthday parties.  It was attached to a pub.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Siren Stories, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo credit SassySanoe

When Z’s mother arrived, she too opted for a glass of wine, and together the three of us huddled in the corner, drinking our booze and eating crisps.

Little girls in flowery dresses and lacy ankle socks with ribbonned braids ran past us with Miss Rose in her jeans, t-shirt and scruffy short mop of hair in tow.  Little boys jumped and crashed with Z roaring”DIE!” at various hanging foam strips as he beat them to death with his fists.  Baby Boo watched everything suspiciously, scrambled over to a foam mounted mirror, and proceeded to snog her reflection.

We sat in the corner, drinking wine, and eating crisps.

When the meal time came Miss Rose announced that she loves carrots but doesn’t like the cooked ones.  Z was fuming that baked bean juice had contaminated his chips and tried to insist his mum or Jonathan sucked his food clean.  They refused.  And drank more.

I had moved on to coca cola, but guzzled it enthusiastically, aiming for a suitable caffeine buzz.

Overall the party was a resounding success.  Tantrums over wanting to be bought toys from the grabber machines, and howling wails of despair at having to leave aside, it went well.  We survived it.  The kids had fun, the birthday girl was happy, the parents I did interact with were pleasant.  Indeed, I managed to get into a conversation with a lost looking father about how one of the four year olds in the world now is the next Mark Zuckerbourg so we should try and be nice to our kids in case it’s them.  No other reason, obvs.

So far I’ve avoided all children’s birthday parties, and I am not keen to repeat the experience.  However, it was doable.  It was survivable.  And it made our children happy, and what really is better than that.

I’m hoping Miss Rose’s birthday requests continue to be going out for curry, however, because that is far more my idea of a good time.

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!

8 Things I Learned From My Book Party

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 attended my very first book release party on Tuesday.  Not just any book release party, the book release party for my own book.

As well as food and drink, laughter and fun, books being signed and photos being taken, there are things that I learned.

1. Getting glammed up is fun.

J.J. Barnes, Sirens Launch, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, Lilly Prospero And The Magic RabbitI work from home as I write for a living.  I don’t go out much because I’m a tired mum.  When I do go out it’s usually for a curry.  Getting glamorous isn’t my natural state, at least not anymore.  When I was younger it was, but those days are long gone.

At 4PM, Miss Rose and I had appointments at the salon to get our hair done for the party so we could be at our most glamorous.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Sirens Launch, Rose And Mum And More, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit

Miss Rose had requested Rainbow Hair so we went armed with a box of hair chalks and my goodness she looked incredible.

For me I simply said “I’m not glamorous… but I want to be!”

My head is not used to be primped at and pulled around so it was an odd experience but one that resulted in some gorgeous hair full of golden butterflies that Lilly Prospero herself would be proud of.J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Sirens Launch, Rose and Mum And More, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit

When I got home and did my make up, got the girls into their new dresses and me into mine, I actually felt pretty fabulous.  I admired myself.  I looked nice.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to start making all this effort normally, leggings and slippers is something I am very comfortable with as a fashion choice, but every so often it’s fun to feel glamorous.

2. I am not a natural party animal.

In the build up to the party I was frantically busy.  Media had to be alerted, food had to be chosen, decorations organised.  There were meetings to meet at, interviews to conduct, invitations to send.  The build up I felt quite natural at, I felt quite confident.  Even on the day I felt alright, getting ready to leave was fun.  But then it was actually time to go.

Driving my children and Jonathan McKinney to The Swan Hotel in Stafford, where the event was being held, was one of the worst driving experiences of my life.  I was physically shaking.  I felt sick.  My eyes hurt, my head hurt.  My hairdo felt too tight, my dress felt too restrictive, I struggled to breathe.  I wanted to go home.

Most people headed to the most important party of their lives that they’ve been working so hard towards would feel like Jonathan McKinney felt; excited and happy.  Me?  No.  I felt like I was dying.

Jon was calming and gentle.  Focus on one thing at a time, he said.  All I had to do at that moment was drive us to The Swan.  It’s a drive I’d done loads of times, a drive I know really well.  That was all that I was doing.  Just focus on that.

3.  Our products are bloody brilliant!

It’s easy to get anxious about what it is you’re offering the world when it’s about to be presented on such a grand scale.  What if the books are rubbish?  What if the merchandise is crap?J.J. Barnes, Jonathan McKinney, Siren Stories, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, Emily The Master Enchantress

As we posed in front of our book covers, smiling as people snapped various pictures of us, I realised that actually these books are fantastic!  People there were fans, people who’d read one or both books, and loved them enough to come and celebrate them with us and tell newbies all about them.

It was an odd surge in confidence.  One I greatly needed.  I smiled and I actually felt quite confident for the first time that evening!J.J. Barnes. Jonathan McKinney, Sirens Launch, Siren Stories, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, Emily The Master Enchantress

Our books looked good on the shelves around the room, the posters celebrating our books and quotes from inside looked brilliant.  The Siren Stories mugs put out as gifts for the guests looked beautiful and the whole room was looking ready to do it’s job.

4. Our family are so very proud.

My parents, his parents, my grandparents, and his brother all came.  Family showed up from miles away to support us.J.J. BArnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit  They were genuinely proud.

Jonathan McKinney and I both come from successful families.  Our brothers are all in careers where people are able to go “wow” and “ooh” when our parents talk about their accomplishments.  Until now we have been unpublished struggling writers, and none of that gives the required “ooh”.

It hasn’t stopped our families being proud, indeed my mum and dad have found reasons to brag about me my entire life, even when I’ve seen nothing there worth bragging about, they have always found something.  And I’m a major screw up so they’ve had to be damn determined at times.  But bless them, no matter what, they’ve always succeeded.

At this party I finally felt that their pride was justified.  That my mum’s smiling face as she posed for photos with me was deserved.  Sure, we’re not hugely successful yet and our debut novels are mostly unknown, but they’re there.  We’ve achieved something huge.  My mum can hold her head high now when people ask how I’m doing, and she can brag about more than my ability to eat an entire 15″ pizza alone in one sitting.

Our parents have published authors for children.  They can be proud of us.  And they are.

5. High heels are the invention of the devil.

I used to go out dancing in high heels until 4 in the morning.  I used to wear high heels to work in an office.  I used to wear high heels just for the fun of it because they’re so pretty.  I own a collection of high heels so beautiful and sky scraping that Carrie Bradshaw would be proud.

I wore some comparatively low high heels to the party.  Black, sparkly, gorgeous.  They went perfectly with my dress.

One blister, one agonising ingrowing toenail, and one twisted ankle later I furiously removed the stupid things and stuffed them under a chair.  Evil.

6. Working Mums are always on mum duty.

Miss Rose is usually asleep between 6 and 6.30 every night.  She gets tired and she asks for bed.  She thrives on routine and structure, her stories and sleep being an essential part of the day she looks forward to.  She never asks to stay up late.

Adrenaline carried her far.  We arrived at 6, the party started at 7.  As things were set up she and Z charged around excitedly, posed for family photos, and played with the toys they had brought.  As people arrived she was admired by strangers, cuddled by friends and family.  She had been looking forward to this party for weeks, telling everyone she knew about it, and thrilled to finally be there.

At half past 8 she crashed and she crashed hard.

Grandma was deployed to step into the breach and get her home for a Grandma sleepover.  But getting her out to the car involved her screaming hysterically, begging not leave me, and being carried out of the party so I could hold her in my lap and calm her down as she desperately sobbed and begged me to go with her.

Then there was Baby Boo.  Throughout the evening I was stopping to give her cuddles and the occasional breastfeed, but she was, for the most part, remarkably contented being handed between her nanny and her grandma and various family and friends.  She had photos, ate spring rolls, and generally loved every moment.

Then we went live on Facebook to announce the winner of a signed copy of Emily The Master Enchantress.

Then she started to scream.

If you check out the Siren Stories page and watch our video, you’ll hear Boo in the background, then witness me disappear as soon as Jonathan starts signing to book, and return moments later with a newly calmed Boo in my arms.

I spent most of the rest of the party sitting down, cradling her and feeding her.  She had reached her limits too but, unlike Miss Rose, couldn’t be whisked away by Grandma.

7. Despite my fear, the party was a success.

As I looked around the room and snapped photos for social media, I realised something.  Everyone was smiling.

JJ. Barnes, Jonathan McKinney, Siren Stories, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, Emily The Master EnchantressJonathan chatted to fans and friends with his trademark amiable smile, easy and engaging conversation, and generosity of spirit.  Everywhere I looked there were smiles and enthusiasm.

The food was good, and it was eaten enthusiastically.  The waiters carrying around drinks were friendly and charming, the drinks were delicious.

Everywhere I went people greeted me warmly, asked me to sign books and pose for photos.  Nobody looked bored or like they wished they hadn’t come.J.J. Barnes, Jonathan McKinney, Siren Stories, Rose and Mum And More, Lilly PRospero And The Magic Rabbit, Emily The MasterEnchantress

Proof reader Zoe was laughing her head off with her friends and taking selfies.  Illustrator Sarah had managed to get there despite recent knee surgery and was drinking and chatting with a huge smile on her face.  Friends were meeting for the first time and sharing thoughts on our books, bits that they liked most, parts that brought them to tears.

Despite my greatest fears, despite my head being full of fireworks of panic I was desperately trying to ignore, the party was a success.

8. I’m going to have to do it all again.

The releases of Lilly Prospero And The Mermaid’s Curse by me, and The Fundamental Miri Mnene by Jonathan McKinney will coincide again, and so forth will come another release party.

Will I be so nervous next time?

Probabably.

Let’s be honest, the likelihood is I’ll never get full used to this.  My natural habitat is that of a hermit, locked up quietly in a room with a laptop, some jazz music playing quietly in the background, and a steaming cup of coffee at my side.

But perhaps somewhere beneath the fear of impending vomit will be the memory of the success of this party.  The memory that fans, old and new, have wanted to gather to celebrate this occasion.  The knowledge that the positivity we received has not gone away.

Next time will be another fabulous dress, another spread of delicious food, and another party full of books to be signed.

But for now I’ll ride high on the experience of last time, and put the fact I’ve got to go through it all again out of my mind.  Because it was brilliant.  And it’s not every day you get to attend a party celebrating your first novel.

I’ll never get a first book party again, I’ll never write a first novel again.  So I’m glad this one happened with such a lovely evening to commemorate 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!

It’s Just Emotions Taking Me Over

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’ve written many times about the striking differences between my eldest daughter and my step son.  Their emotional states are a true example of how different they are, and on a weekend away on the moors it was never so clearly demonstrated.

Miss Rose has mood swings, and her moods are very easily changed.  If you imagine your moods on a scale of 1 to 10, she’ll reside around the 8 mark.  She will be cheerful and happy, excitable and incredibly positive.  She is full of love and enthusiasm.  A real joy.  Then she’ll drop incredibly fast to a 2.  She’ll start to cry, she’ll need to take herself away from the room and have “alone time” to try and cope.  She’ll curl in a ball, hide her face and cry in despair over the tiniest of stimuli.

Then there’s the times she hits 10 or 0.  She will shoot to a 10 and be absolutely manic.  She can hardly hear you.  She’s excited to the extreme, visibly shaking.  The drop to a 0 is horrible.  She’s broken.  She cries, she screams, she can hardly breathe.  She has been sick because the crying has been so extreme.  She thrashes around.  She’s had full on panic attacks.  It breaks my heart, and it’s incredibly hard to cope with.

Then Z is the opposite.  He’s a constant 5.  Occasionally he’ll get excited and rise to a 7.  Occasionally he’ll get sad and drop to a three.  But mostly he bobs along about a 5.  The only time he truly wavers is when he gets angry, and that can overwhelm him, but as long as nothing triggers that in him he’s just a standard 5.

Last weekend we went away for a weekend on the moors.  Miss Rose was homesick.  Z wasn’t bothered, he’ll go wherever he needs to go.  Miss Rose desperately missed her nanny.  Z missed his mum but no more than the other times he goes without her.  Meal times were different and Miss Rose needs her meals, Z prefers to go without food.  Nights were late and Miss Rose gets incredibly tired, whereas Z will just carry on regardless until he’s told to go to bed.  Miss Rose was desperate to please and felt social pressure to perform, Z is unbothered by what people want of him and is just himself regardless of circumstances.

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

Photo credit Pezibear

Miss Rose’s emotional state is massively impacted by all of those things.  Z’s is not.  Z wasn’t being forced to eat anything he didn’t want so didn’t get upset.  Nobody took his toys so he didn’t get upset.  Nobody tried to touch him, hug him, pick him up, so he didn’t get upset.  All the triggers that might bring about a mood fluctuation or anger didn’t happen.  Miss Rose was on the edge of an emotional breakdown all weekend.

Not only was Miss Rose struggling with her emotions, often curling in a ball and sobbing, needing cuddles and reassurances, often becoming so emotional she just had to be carried away to calm down in a quiet space, but she was extra tired so she was even more clumsy than her already clumsy self.  She fell off the sofa, she fell off the chair, she fell off the toilet.  She slipped in the shower, she ran into the wall, she cracked her head on a worktop.  She fell in the garden, she broke her thumb nail on the wall.

Life for Z will always be easier in so many ways.  His emotional calm means he’ll never hit the lows Miss Rose hits.  He never gets tired enough to lose control of his physical abilities.  Life will be easier in so many ways because he’ll just handle everything that’s thrown at him with his usual unflappable way.   Notices where he is, who else is there, what’s going on, and just ambles on, whereas it all impacts Miss Rose in huge, huge ways.

But Z will never hit the highs either.  Because even though Miss Rose’s highs can reach almost intolerable levels of high, they’re still high and she feels amazing.  She feels joy like nobody else.  Z is known as “hard to impress” whereas anything you present Rose with she thinks is the most amazing thing in the world.  She is the most brilliant person to give gifts to.  Her grandma often brings her a Starburst (her favourite sweets) and she recently commented how every time she presents them to her, her face absolutely lights up, her mouth is wide and her eyes are sparkling, like they’re the most wonderful thing in the world she never gets to see, even though it’s practically every time she sees Grandma, which is practically every day.

I understand how hard Miss Rose will find life sometimes.  I understand because that’s how I find life.  That’s how my mum finds life, that’s how my aunty finds life, and that’s how my grandfather found life.  Life is full of joy and wonder, but also full of emotional pain.

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

Photo Credit Greyer Baby

All I can do for Rose is try and teach her ways to manage it.  I am still learning but I’m getting there.  When I feel the low coming I know I need to funnel that energy into something that course corrects me.  I rearrange furniture because it gives me a sense of control and takes all the energy and focus off the dark cloud that is forming.  When I feel the highs I am able to write and I write well.  I will write chapters and chapters of my books because I have this energy soaring through me that I can apply in ways that are helpful.

The hard times come when I am unable to manage it.  As much as I can teach these coping mechanisms to Rose they won’t help on these weekends away when you’re taken away from the things you’ve learned to use to cope.  And sometimes no matter how hard you try to funnel that energy there’s nothing that helps anyway and you just have to ride the wave feeling ridiculously amazing with no outlet, or desperately low with no support.  And I can’t save her from that.  It’s who she is.

Our children are so remarkably different it really does strike you.  Their emotional states both bring advantages and disadvantages, depending on what’s happening in their lives at the time.  All we can do is work with them, help them understand themselves, and hope to steer them into lives that are as full of joy as possible.

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!

That Shrieking Mum

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.

Today I was That Shrieking Mum.  You know the mum I mean.  The mum who’s hair is messy, eyes are wild, and child is hysterical.  The mum you see chasing down a supermarket aisle hollering at her wayward daughter, then wrestling her kicking and screaming into a trolley seat.  The mum who makes a scene at the checkout when her daughter tantrums.

I was the mum you watch and think… she should have handled it like this.  She should have handled it calmly.  She should have, she should have, she should have.  If it was my child I’d have done this… or that… or something else.

Well that’s awesome for you.  But I didn’t do it your way.  I did it my way.  And it sucked.  It absolutely sucked but there’s nothing I can do about it now.  Because it’s done.

I was That Shrieking Mum.

I lost my rag

She had whinged and moaned about getting out of the pool.  Fought me about getting dressed.  Cried about putting on her coat.  She kicked off because she wanted a drink they didn’t have, she howled because I put her ketchup in the wrong place on her plate.  When I told her to get up off the floor and sit in her chair she bolted.  Just fucked off.  Legged it.

Fortunately my mother was with me as the baby was asleep in the pram and I had to peg it after her at top speed.  Had I been trying to wheel the pram with me at the same time I genuinely don’t think I’d have caught her.

Fortunately we were in a supermarket café so she didn’t make it to the street but she vanished into the Saturday shopping crowds whilst I raced after her screaming.  I caught her and, shaking violently, put her over my shoulder and took her back.  She cried and howled and I could hardly speak, other than a cursory “You must NEVER run away from mummy!” lecture as I had finally grabbed her arm.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More

Photo Credit Marta Koton

She refused to eat lunch.  She knocked her drink over then cried because I wouldn’t let her sit on the wet seat.  She screamed for my mum.  She wouldn’t look at me, let alone acknowledge when I spoke to her.

She complained about sitting in the trolley, she tried to kick me whilst I pushed her.  She howled that she was bored and wanted to get out.  She moaned and whinged and whined.

When I came to get her into the car she fought me and she fought me hard.  We were saying goodbye to my mum and she didn’t want her to go.  She wrestled me.  I pinned her into her booster seat and wrestled the seatbelt across her.  When both girls were secure I shut the car door and, listening to her screaming and shouting from inside, I stood in the falling snow and forced my breath to slow.

When I came to drive away she pulled her arm out from the seatbelt and definitely screamed at me that she had done it.

I lost my rag.

I screeched the car over and pulled into a taxi spot at a funny angle.  Shouted at her to put her arm back in the seatbelt.  She kicked her foot at me and roared NO at me, her face red and her eyes full of tears.

I flung open my door and got out, pulling her door open to force her back into safety, shouting as I did it.

My mum, who hadn’t got far, came hurrying over and told me to calm down.  Offered to take Rose for the night.  I refused the offer, told her I knew I was making a scene but that I’d had enough.  She said she understood and gave me a hug.

People stared.

I got Rose strapped back in and we headed home.  For a whilst she busied herself screaming at me that she doesn’t like me (you don’t have to like me, darling) and that I’m not her friend (I’m not trying to be your friend, dear, I’m trying to be your mother) and that she doesn’t want to play with me ever again (that’s fine, sweetheart, this behaviour doesn’t make me keen to play with you either).  Then she broke.

She sobbed and sobbed that she’s sorry, that she loves me, she likes me, I’m her best friend and she does want to play with me every single day.

We are fine now.  She was golden this afternoon.  I stopped being That Shrieking Mum and normality descended.  Because her normality is lovely.  Strong willed and stubborn but lovely.  Sweet and kind and smart and funny and lovely.  But sometimes?  Sometimes she’s a little monster.

I don’t judge shrieking mums.  I see them all the time looking harassed and tired and frustrated as their children scream about the colour of their shoes or not liking their food or refusing to walk.  I see them losing their shit and shouting “JUST GET IN THE CAR!” as their child tries to escape and they wrestle them through the door.  I see the shrieking mums and I remember that last time I was in their clan.

It doesn’t happen often but my gosh when it does.  The fear of her vanishing cracks away at a huge chunk of my calm.  The whinging about everything from the brand of cereal I buy to the colour of the apples I choose claws at another bit.  The screaming as I try to get her into the car leaves me with dregs.  Everybody has an a collection of calm to last time the day.  Today my allotted amount was gone by 1PM.

Fortunately when I got home the fella handed me a glass of wine, took the baby out of my arms, and let me curl up on the sofa with Miss Rose whilst we watched Legend of Everfree and regrew out calm resources.

So Shrieking Mums, I promise there is at least one face in the crowd who isn’t judging you.  Because I’ve been there.  And today I was there.

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!

Nanny The Weekend Dad

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.

Grandparents can be incredibly important and special people in the lives of children.  They love you as much as your parents do, but they don’t have to do all the telling off and rule making.  Their cuddles are just as good and they come with sweets before dinner.

That said, for my two bigs, my daughter Miss Rose and my step son Z, their grandmothers have become something even more than a traditional grandparent role.

Since he was 7 months old Z has spent weekdays with his grandma as both his parents work full time.  She did his naps, his meals, his bath times.  She took him to playgroups and taught him to ride a bike.  Whilst she would never replace his parents in his heart, she very much became a third parental figure in his life.  Not a grandma for naughty treats and visits, but a consistent and depended on parent figure to do disciplining and raising as well.

In Z’s life, where he is bumped from his mother’s home to his father’s home to his grandmother’s home, it is a positive.  Knowing he sees every home he spends time in as a place here a parent he depends on is, it gives him security everywhere and doesn’t leave him pining for something that is missing.

For Miss Rose her relationship with her nanny, my mother, is something different again.  Last night is struck us exactly what it is.

As Miss Rose sat on the stairs, clutching a photograph of her nanny to her chest, and sobbing huge tears of sadness, we realised something.

Nanny is her weekend dad.

When her biological father left, my mum stepped in to become something he had taken with him.  Whilst I was on the verge of a mental breakdown, struggling not only with the collapse of my marriage, the vanishing of my husband and the sudden thrust into single parenthood, but also existing mental health issues, my mum became her dad.  When I needed help my mum was it.  When I was struggling to pay for things, my mum paid.  When I needed a break my mum cared for her.  When I needed to make a parenting decision, it was my mum I made it with.

In Miss Rose’s world, where her real father disappeared, my mother stepped in.  Where my mother stepped in she became daddy number 2.  She didn’t fill the void left by her father, but she came close.

Photo Credit Hannah Pirnie

Photo Credit Hannah Pirnie

My mum was depended on in a way more than a grandmother for visits.  Much like Z and his grandma, nanny became one of Miss Rose’s parents.

Then I met The Boy.

When The Boy came into her life he didn’t take the daddy role immediately.  He was a stranger and my mother was already there.  Indeed, he’s spoken about how he often felt he had to be conscious of not treading on her parenting toes with Rose, far more than he felt it about mine.  He couldn’t overstep his mark because my mum was the protective parent, and he was the newbie.

However, over time The Boy became Daddy.  He is now depended on as much as any biological father would be.  He does the fun, the games, the discipline and the worry.  He loves her, cares for her, raises her.  It’s he who steps in when I need help.  It’s he who I discuss my parenting concerns with.  He is daddy.

But that means my mother and I had to break up.  My mum had to stop being the father figure to allow The Boy to take that job.  My mum became the weekend dad.

When her biological father used to visit, sporadically though it was, Miss Rose would immediately have a breakdown as soon as he left.  She would scream and cry and tantrum, she would break her heart and take out her frustration and confusion about his leaving on me.  Now when my mother leaves it’s the same deal.

Nanny does everything a weekend dad does, both good and bad.  Nanny spoils her, taking her for trips and buying her ice cream.  Nanny helps financially paying for things she needs.  Nanny comforts her, gives her someone to depend on.  It’s Nanny she cries for when Mummy and Daddy have thwarted her.  Nanny loves her fiercely, is loyal to a fault, and puts Rose’s needs in the forefront of her mind like any good parent would.  But sometimes Nanny promises to show up and has to cancel.  Nanny makes decisions that I, as the mother, have to over rule and become the bad guy in.  Nanny disagrees with parenting choices I make and has to be shot down because I’m the one who would deal with the consequences.  Nanny comes and goes.

Nanny and I broke up as parents of Rose, and it’s Rose who’s living with the consequences.  Nothing about her grandmothering would be out of place in a regular grandmother, but in the light of her stepping in as a daddy role, it leaves Miss Rose grieving for the absent father who is still in her life;my mother.  She is left with an open wound from her biological father, and now a constant scratching from her second father.

Her third father and I promise her we love her, promise her we’re here for her, and give her the consistency and stability she needs and craves.  She is better for us being together and, over time, my mother will morph from daddy number two into just a grandmother.  Over time she’ll be able to wave goodbye to my mum with a smile and a cuddle, and not break into little pieces because her heart is being ripped out by the absence.  She is only four years old and my mother was who she depended on second only to me for a huge portion of her life and it’s still very fresh.  Over time it will ease.

Photo credit PeziBear

Photo credit PeziBear

But until then we have to try to understand what she’s going through.  When she reacted like this to her biological father’s absence, when he expressed his opinions on her raising and we disagreed, it was a given.  We understood it, we expected it.  We hadn’t fully taken into account that it is the same emotions raging through Miss Rose where my mum is concerned and it’s something we need to respect.

I am so very grateful to my mum for being so essential in Rose’s life and caring for her as much as she does, she is and always has been an incredible parent, to both me and Miss Rose.  I am so grateful that The Boy has stepped in to become the father she truly needs and deserves.  And together we are all muddling through trying to raise a little girl to be happy, and dealing with the complexities of a patchwork family that so many of us are facing in our own unique ways.

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!