Previous blog entry:http://themothersphotos.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/name-toni-child-child-arlo-aged-1.html
The last year has been bloomin’ busy. We moved not long after we had our first photos taken for the blog and then we moved again another six months later. At the ripe old age of two, Arlo has now lived in four different houses. As someone who’s on her thirty third home, I know all too well how badly this state of perpetual flux can effect you when you’re growing up. My parents were forever moving, and this rootlessness had definite repercussions for me, in terms of establishing friendships, and creating the stability a permanent family home can bring. I really wanted to make sure that we found somewhere completely perfect that we could happily stay in until Arlo reaches at least the Surly Teen phase and in this one, I think we’ve found it.
While gleefully getting myself up the duff, I had no concrete concept of what I’d do after the birth. I airily assumed our family would help shoulder the burden of childcare and had vague concepts of childminders and the like. When it came down to it, the fact that my meagre window dresser’s salary of peanuts couldn’t support childcare costs, and our family weren’t in a position to help either, came crashing down on my vague ideas of returning to work part-time like a concrete block. Living on my other half’s salary is just about keeping us going; we don’t bring in enough income for holidays or treats. I hate that.
I’m hoping the strength of our relationship will be the base-line that he can build himself and his confidence upon. I hope to be my son’s foundations and scaffolding, equally as much he has become my own. Motherhood has helped to ground me; it’s given me the stability that I missed when I was growing up, along with the confidence that I’ve always lacked. With these, it’s like a floodgate has opened on both my creativity and on my openness to other people, and it’s been amazing.
Arlo is also my license for lunacy. We have a zillion ridiculous games we play together and are already establishing those shorthands and in-jokes that make up a family’s secret vocabulary. I also spend a lot of time creating him things to play with – partly due to being massively skint, but mainly because my brain feels like it’s on fire with a thousand ideas of crazy things to make. Most recently, I’ve stitched a pirate parrot (onto a shoulder pad with an elasticated strap), a gaudy neon superhero cape for his dressing up suitcase and hand-carved stamps for his personal stationery set. I make something pretty much daily and, after suffering a creative block throughout my entire Design degree and making very little at all, it’s ironic that my creativity has finally found an outlet now thanks to my tiny Muse.
One of the things I wish I’d known beforehand was that becoming a mum would make me mentally revisit my own childhood and break my heart all over again. Both my parents were alcoholics and I had a bit of a weird upbringing that was very isolating, mainly due to their behaviour basically repelling all their friends and our family. I also never had any friends round, knowing instinctively that my home wasn’t normal. I look at the sombre eyes of myself as a little girl in the very few remaining photos that exist, and I feel angry. As a parent I can see the selfishness of decisions made when bringing me up.
Now, as (pretty much) the only man left standing from my own family, I feel like some strange kind of pioneer leading my small band of three into the uncharted territories of stability. Breaking the family cycle of disfunction and self-annihilation has taken a lot of hurt and no small amount of balls to do, but for Arlo – it was worth it.
– Remember everything is finite. There are an awful lot of random stages that roll in, turning your world upside down, only to then wane out again just as fast as they arrived.
– Say sorry. If you raise your voice at your offspring or you’re in the wrong, don’t be afraid to admit it. I apologise most days, I’m only human.
– Have a laughter quota. I aim to make Arlo do a minimum of one laugh per day (tickling does not count). You’d be amazed what good it does you both. A bit of silliness is good for the soul.