Dear Lola...by Hattie Harrison (That Mum Blog)

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Dear Lola,

When I first had you I had never had a baby before. I thought that I would be good at it because I had worked with children for a long time, teaching them and helping them to behave. Some of the children who I used to work with used to make the wrong choice and I would help them to make the right one. Some other adults didn’t understand why I wanted to work with children who always seemed to make the wrong choice but I knew it wasn’t because they were bad or naughty and that, eventually one day, they would consistently make right choices and people would see that.

So when I had you I expected to make the right choices for you. Other people expected me to as well. Now, I don’t want to put you off but having a baby is hard work. I know you already know that at the age of 5, because after I had Olive you told me not to have any more babies because we had no more hands to hold them.

When I had you I had the perfect amount of hands to hold you. And a lot of time. But we had just moved house and I felt lonely because I didn’t have any other grown up, boring people to talk to. I just had you. And it’s not like it is now because you couldn’t talk to me and we couldn’t drink hot chocolate and have girls’ nights watching films because you were too little.

I didn’t know you then and I think I was a bit scared because I didn’t know then that when you grew up I would love you so much no matter what.

When you were a baby you cried a lot. Because I had never had a baby before I thought that you cried a lot because of me which is really silly. You cried a lot because your tummy hurt. You were crying because you couldn’t talk and you were just trying to tell me that your tummy hurt. I cried quite a lot too. I cried because my tummy hurt too, the way yours does when you are worried. I was worried about being your mum. I didn’t cry in front of other people though, which is really silly, I should have done what you did and tried to tell someone else that my tummy hurt but I didn’t. That is the very first thing that you taught me Lola, even if I only realised it later. When you are hurting you should always tell someone.

That is why I always tell you now to tell me if you have hurt yourself (a big ouch, I don’t mean that teeny tiny ouch we had to use your bug magnifying glass to see). Or if you are worried about something. Because I learnt that if something is hurting a lot and you don’t tell someone, then the hurt doesn’t always go away. Sometimes it gets worse.

And you know how I always tell you that I don’t mind if you make the wrong choice? Or get told off at school? How it doesn’t really matter if we get things wrong because we are all human and everyone, even (especially) adults get things wrong? Well I didn’t know that then, and I thought that if I told anyone how I was feeling then all those people would think I’d done something wrong or that I wasn’t the best parent in the world. And I didn’t know then that I didn’t need to be the best and I was always the best for you.

And I am writing this letter to you just in case there is another lady who has had a baby who is feeling a little worried, or hurting. I just wanted them to know that there was a time when I felt very sad and now I don’t. There was a time when I was very worried about you and I, and now I’m not. And I wanted them to hear what you taught me – that if you are hurting you should tell an adult who can help you.

Thank you for being my first baby Lola,

All my love always

Mummy

xxx

#itsoknottobeok

If you need to seek help then please do so here. You are not alone. 

For more posts by Hattie take a read of 'That Mum Blog' here.

Mama Speaks...by Hattie Harrison

Swimming lessons

Recently I had a moment of weakness. I got gym membership. 

Again. 

I literally cannot tell you how many gyms I have been a member of. Process is as follows - I get all excited and bouncy. I do about 37 classes the first week - a cheeky little hour of ‘bums, hips and pouty lips’ followed by ‘body smash’ the next day and then an early morning ‘disco-ercise' or something. I buy the kit, the sweatbands, the glow sticks (no, seriously) and then I remember that exercising that often is not actually maintainable and/or realistic and I get distracted by something - (normally the sofa and a pack of digestive biscuits) and I settle down for a boxset and forget all about my intense but brief relationship with Jean from aqua aerobics (Thursday at 10). 

But a few weeks ago I took out gym membership once again but for a different reason. I have no desire to attend any of the classes (sorry Jean) but I was told at this particular gym that if I had family membership I could sign each of my children up for swimming classes. This massively appealed to me because for some reason I feel that mum’s who have their shit together are the sort of mums who take their children to swimming classes. Now, I wish I could explain this logic to you but I’m afraid I’m not sure there is any logic behind it. In my head a ‘proper’ mum is wielding a towel, some Johnson’s baby shampoo and a post swim snack. She bustles through changing rooms efficiently with her brood hot on her heels like baby ducklings ready for the pond. She can blow up two armbands in one puff (one in each nostril) and has locker keys wrapped around both wrists and both ankles. Sure, she’s a bit weird but she is EQUIPPED and she has this shit down.

I want in.

Plus none of my kids can swim a stroke.

So I merrily sign all three kids up to swimming classes. And I am now the proud owner of my 14th gym membership. Unbelievably, my 13th was also at the same gym (true story). 

Welcome back me.

Things I did not take into consideration:

1. I have 3 children of different ages, that means 3 different swimming classes on 3 different days (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday if you’re interested). This means spending 3 days at the swimming pool on the trot. It also means 3 lots of swimming stuff to wash and dry (4, including mine) and 3 lots of mouths to feed IMMEDIATELY AFTER THEY HAVE SWUM OR THEY MIGHT, IN ACTUAL FACT, COLLAPSE (4, including mine - why does it make me so hungry? I barely move).

2. You always need a pound for the locker. I have never knowingly had a pound in my possession. Particularly when I need one for a trolley, a locker or a poppy donation.

3. I have to take children to the swimming pool on the days when it is not their lesson. This is not proving popular. The 20 month old shouts ‘SWIMMING MUMMY’ as soon as we pull into the car park on a Wednesday afternoon. 

Her swimming lesson is on Friday

I effectively have 72 hours of her shouting ‘SWIMMING MUMMY' until it is indeed time for her 30 minute slot. After which she won’t get out of the swimming pool. And after I wrestle her to the changing rooms like a slippery, grumpy, baby otter she then won’t get out of the shower. 

4.  I do NOT like the swimming aftermath. Last week the 20 month old screamed like a banshee, then 30 school children entered the changing rooms and in my flustered state I managed to accidentally expose myself to them. We were NOT very surreptitious. Looking on the bright side I feel I have helped with their PSE/sex ed; both because of my feral child and the state of my ‘I’ve fed 3 kids with these bad boys’ boobs. I’m basically a public service.

5. I have to go swimming. I wouldn’t say I hate swimming but it’d literally be the last activity I’d ever choose to do in my spare time, ever.

6. I hate wearing a swimming costume in a public pool. On holiday - fine - I have a slutty number which does just the job. After debating whether I could wear it to a swimming lesson (a resounding NO from the family as probably violates a few leisure centre guidelines) I had to pull out the only other costume I had - a maternity one. Let’s just say the slutty number probably would have been more decent after adding water. Last week I decided that the mum I was aspiring to be would probably not be wading around in a flappy maternity costume and purchased a proper costume that is meant for non pregnant people who actually get in the pool (I’ve never actually swum in the slutty one).

7. Swimming is prep heavy. For Football/netball/knitting/board game clubs (delete as appropriate) you just rock up, as you are. There is SO much to remember for swimming - shampoo, talc for strange hats, towels, pants if you are turning up in your cozzie (forgot last week). Not to mention the extra personal prep that I now have to factor into my week - oh sorry, can’t come out Tuesday eve - HAVE to remember to trim my bush for the myriad of upcoming swimming lessons. NO OTHER child’s clubs involve me having to shave my legs/armpits/lady garden. Bring on the board games I say (yep - it’s an actual club and you can take your child and your hairy bush along with ZERO personal prep).

But despite the above 7 points that I had scant regard to when I excitedly signed on the dotted line the kids bloody love swimming and everything about it. The six year old loves the colour of her swimming hat, the 3 year old loves his ‘gobbles’ (goggles) and the 20 month old loves having the chance to demonstrate her stamina to scream at inopportune moments (both tits out people, BOTH).

So wish me luck as for the foreseeable future I will be sporting eau de chlorine with wrinkled fingertips and standing shivering in the changing rooms whilst negotiating with irrational humans (not you Jean). 

See you at the swimming pool. 

Hattie x

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