Tuesday, 19 February 2013


Shh, whisper it quietly but I have been know to sleep with young girls. It’s OK, it’s nothing illegal, the girls in question are my daughters. And it seems I may not be the only mum who does it.
“If you stay in the room until your child is asleep you are not alone – as a matter of fact, you are in the majority. This “problem” isn’t really a “problem” at all, but normal childhood behavior.” 
 Elizabeth Pantley --The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers & Preschoolers. 

Every night I cuddle my four year old to sleep (until she was 3 I breastfed her to sleep), it is the most peaceful part of my day, like a little meditation. I wrap my arm around her, hold her hand and sing both girls lullabies until they are gently snoring.  I don’t cuddle her big sister for a number of reasons, all of them practical a) she likes her own space to sleep b) when I was pregnant I had SPD and it became too uncomfortable and c) (which is the most practical) she’s on the top bunk and with the best will in the world I can’t get up or down without a racket. 

Recently I did have a little health scare and during those horrible two weeks I thought that if I was to get the diagnosis I feared I would buy the girls new beds, nice low ones that were wide enough to take me too because the moments spent cuddling them to sleep are precious.

Both my girls have beautiful lashes which flutter up and down as the precursor to sleep, the eye roll sets in. As their eyelids stop trying to lift the girls give a little sigh as they let go of the day, their limbs relax and the soft snoring starts. I watch them amazed at their beauty and forever thankful that I have them in my life. 

Perhaps I am lucky that they go to sleep so quickly, it normally takes less than 10 minutes. But I come out of their room so happy, up-lifted and peaceful I wish that every parent could have this. Am I mean to not share this with my husband? Perhaps. He has done it on the handful of occasions I have not been able to be there but it started from breastfeeding and really that was something that only I could do. He is very active in their bedtime routine and he does get to look in on them later.

Of course not every night is perfect, some nights they are poorly and need extra attention, frankly the little girl doesn’t need sleep the way the rest of the family do and is often up in the night. At those times I try to remember how lucky I am to have them before I snuggle up with them and attempt to get back to sleep. Last night in fact was pretty horrific, up twice in the night and again at 6am. No wonder I feel shattered.

I know one day it will end. I suspect it will be reading that does it, the point where they are both able to read independently and I can say, "OK you can read your book now for a bit". I hope that for them books become as magical and relaxing as they are for their Dad and I but that's a whole other blog post. I don't suppose for one minute that as teenagers they will want Mum to cuddle them in their beds, it's such a short time until then and perhaps such a big long time (I hope?) until they have a loving partner of their own to hold in their sleep and then perhaps babies of their own.

Cradle Song by William Blake 1757-1827
Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,
Dreaming in the joys of night;
Sleep, sleep; in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.
Sweet babe, in thy face
Soft desires I can trace,
Secret joys and secret smiles,
Little pretty infant wiles.
As thy softest limbs I feel
Smiles as of the morning steal
O'er thy cheek, and o'er thy breast
Where thy little heart doth rest.
O the cunning wiles that creep
In thy little heart asleep!
When thy little heart doth wake,
Then the dreadful night shall break.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Rights and responsibilities

1.     An element of a culture or behavior that may be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, esp. imitation.
2.     An image, video, etc. that is passed electronically from one Internet user to another.

Some memes I see on the internet are great, they raise a smile and pass on. The one I saw today on Facebook might on the surface seem quite nice:

"I am a mother, my children were a gift and not a right"

And yet it hurt. As someone who spent many years thinking I might never have children you could say I have a chip on my shoulder, but bear with me while I pick this apart....

Merriam-Webster on line dictionary defines 'gift' with the 3 following meanings  (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gift)

1: a notable capacity, talent, or endowment
2: something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation
3: the act, right, or power of giving 

A gift once given is owned by you. I do not own my children. Furthermore it is not a 'talent' for a child to be born, they have absolutely no say in the matter

Gifts are free; therefore something you have to pay for is not a gift. So if my children were a gift then the fertility treatment would have been free. It wasn’t. And it certainly isn't free on the NHS because a) the NHS is paid for by National Insurance contributions and b) you are VERY lucky if you qualify for fertility treatment on the NHS. 

If children are a gift to be given then I feel the inference is that there is a higher power that decides whether or not to give children to us. I have yet to find any evidence of a higher power (that's why I'm an atheist) and so I also reject this idea of children as gifts but if there is a god why allow children to be born into famine or war zones?  If we agree instead that with or with out a higher power to direct us man and woman have free will then why are people even in the most dire of circumstance still deciding to become parents? Is it really a choice or is it because there is a huge biological imperative that drives us to procreate?

The World Health Organization does recognise infertility as a disease of the reproductive system. In the UK NICE recommends that the NHS should fund treatment for infertility because children are not just good for a successful nation, they are essential to it. The economic benefit that one child brings to the country is not outweighed by the huge costs of even 3 rounds of IVF.     

So it could be considered that someone in the UK eligible for NHS treatment might have a right to IVF, yet that in of itself is not a right to have children.

If children were a ‘right’ we would allow them to stay with continually abusive parents. A responsible society doesn’t do that, they support the family to help improve the parenting and if that doesn’t work ultimately they remove the children from that situation and hopefully find them a new family who will respect, love and care for them.

Children are neither gift nor a right; they are a huge, awesome responsibility.

I would prefer a meme that said:

Anybody could become a parent but it takes time, responsibility and determination to earn the title Mummy or Daddy.