Saturday, 20 October 2012

Hitting 30. Can your body take it?

My son has been driving me nuts.

I know he's a 'challenging' child because it's what every professional who comes into contact with him describes him as. He has well and truly entered into, been initiated into and been promoted to Grand Master of the Terrible Twos. If he's not throwing a tantrum about wanting to have got out of the car by himself (when I've merely offered a steadying hand), he's making up excuses at bedtime about needing to use the toilet for the third time. Also, he will say over and over (until I am on the verge of exploding and have to leave the room to curse), "I'm a good boy". As if saying it enough times will make any mischievous misdemeanor he has just pulled irrelevant.

My body telling me to slow down?
He still struggles to settle at bedtime. Over-night we've made progress because on Thursday he stayed in his own bed. However, he called for me a total of 5 or 6 (I forget because I was exhausted) times after I had gone to bed. This is a pretty mind-numbing thing to go through when you're caring for a child on your own. The tension between us was exacerbated by the bodily burnout I had the day before at work. The paramedics were called following a near-fainting episode. This was not only highly embarrassing but the first instance of my life where I've felt the need of an ambulance. Apparently the burning feeling I felt through my whole body, the cold sweats, the elevated heart beat and rapid breathing (let alone my jelly legs which prevented me from standing) were all symptoms of the adrenalin pumping through my veins trying to prevent me from fainting. I've never been hooked up to an ECG machine before so that was a new experience. All I could think was, "Please don't let there be anything wrong with my heart, I'm only 30." I thought of my son not having me around and it made me feel sick. So I stared at the paramedics for some hint of a facial expression which would give away their findings.

Luckily, all the various checks came back with the all clear. After taking my pulse they asked if I worked out. I had to think, but I answered 'yes', and now I'm pretty smug that apparantly I have the resting heart rate of an athlete. The running must be paying off, although I haven't been in a while. I must start boot camp again now that I may have a new possible victim babysitter for the hour's session.

I was worried that turning 30 would result in changes. The near-collapse episode knocked me out the following day and I'm still not 100% better, now three days later. I am still to go for tests next week to see whether there is some underlying issue or whether I simply just stood up too fast and it had an adverse reaction. I've cut out the coffee upon the advice of the paramedics, and I've been a lot more aware of the speed in which I stand up. Maybe this is it now that I'm the other side of 30. Is my body starting to take the slow decline? Or is there still plenty of youthfulness left? I managed to pull off quite an energetic jumping-type manouver onto a pirate ship climbing frame today which (I'm pretty sure) made me look fit and cool. So I think that answers that question.

I'm not one to get ill very often, and if I do I generally try to just get on with things. However, I was a little disappointed in the Swede's nonchalant behaviour towards how rubbish I actually felt when I didn't hear from him all day. Whatever 'this' is is great for whatever it is. But can I rely on him for any emotional support? I'm not so sure. With my son's behaviour over the last couple of weeks I have realised more and more exactly how difficult it is to raise a child solo. At least with two parents you can act as a kind of tag team. If one is about to loose the will to live the other can take over for a bit. Should I dedicate my two free weekends a month trying to catch up on sleep and regrouping? Or should I be focusing that time on spending time getting to know someone who may be able to be a part of our family in a few years time? I don't think the Swede has even imagined the possibility of him being that person. Maybe I should start thinking about a longer term investment.

It wasn't all tantrums and keeling-over this week. I had my birthday celebrations last weekend with a great lunch on Saturday, a great dinner in my local and a great day on Sunday in the forest with the Swede. Yesterday, my birthday boots arrived which were the result of an amalgamation of birthday monies from a number of generous people. I did get a few funny looks at work as I walked into the kitchen to show them off, breathing in the sweet smell of the suede and hugging them. Well, they're nice boots. And I haven't had new nice boots in a long time.
The Mighty(?) Oak

These boots were indeed made for walking and carrying me into the next decade. I don't feel as dejected as I thought I might with the turn of the decade. Instead I feel rejeuvinated as if I am a blank slate. The awkward, unknown of the twenties, a time when I was trying to find my identity as an adult is behind me. I know more of who I am and I am comfortable in my own skin. I've made mistakes and I've learnt from them. This next ten years is the opportunity to implement that knowledge and grow from a sapling into an oak.

I always was a bit nutty.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Damp upper lip, heavy breathing and the sweats

Sadly not the symptoms of a night of passion, but instead the rotten cold/flu-type virus I have had for the last couple of weeks. Illness, coupled with a hectic few weeks, has drained the time and energy to post, but I am now settled and ready to write regularly again. So here's a quick recap on what you've missed:

The Move

I moved into a flat in a village at the beginning of September. This was a cost-saving exercise as - whilst I found myself suddenly living on my own at the beginning of the year supporting my little boy - I have now had time to adjust and realistically discover what I can afford. Because of having little money to spend outside of standard living costs I thought it the responsible thing to do to move into a more affordable home. This new flat is in a nicer condition than the house I moved from, the neighbours are lovely (two out of the four of them are named Jim) and it is in the catchment area of an Ofsted Outstanding-rated primary school and nursery.

Moving to the flat has reduced my travel time to work, cut my rent and reduced my bills. I have also moved my son to a childminder's (he was in nursery before) and because I am still continuing to be sensible about what I eat and in particular portion size, I am also saving money on food. It's early days so I won't see how much I really save for a couple of months until I get into the routine. I am already noticing the reduced trips to the petrol station though.

Transition to Adulthood

The reason for me posting today in particular is that it is exactly three days until my 30th birthday. I feel that this is a new era I am entering into. I can no longer be the fun-loving 20-something who struggles to make ends meet whilst supporting a toddler. I am entering into proper grown-up territory. The territory whereby I should have a pension, should be saving for the future and should be making long term, short term and contingency plans for my son.

I think I will wake up on Saturday morning and feel like a whole new person. Will I have an unknown confidence that will emerge in certain situations that before I felt I never had the credibility carry off? I was described by my boss today as, "lacking tact" when writing certain emails. Will I no longer have the excuse of being a young green 'whipper-snapper' for being so blunt? Does becoming 30 automatically have expectations in society, and will I be able to live up to them?

I struggled to know what to do for my birthday to celebrate. I realised I didn't have the urge to go out and forget the evening through drunkenness. All I want is to spend the day with my friends. They have been there through the thick and thin of it over the years and it would be great to have those who mean the most to me in one place at a civilised lunch in a country pub. I won't have my son with me, which I think will be difficult. However, I will be able to truly relax without having to worry about what mischief he's up to.

The Mischief-Maker

Toddler covered in paintAnd he is a mischief-maker.

This last month is as though a switch has been flipped. I'm wondering whether it's perhaps his age (now two and a half) or perhaps the move which has been unsettling for him. Perhaps a combination of the two. He has slipped back into his old ways of getting out of bed at bed-time, hitting me, throwing things at me and one week he soiled himself like clock-work daily (just as he was dressed in the morning and we were about to leave the house).

I'm not sure where I heard it, but someone once said to me that the key to successful parenthood is bribery. I am beginning to realise the truth in this comment. Although it sounds like it should perhaps not be encouraged, my son actually responds to rewards such as stickers and marshmallows when all else has failed. I don't agree that food should be used as a reward, and yet I still find myself offering food stuffs because I know that food is one of my son's favourite things in life. He's happy and so I'm happy. This tactic is especially useful in the middle of a supermarket car park when he refuses to get in the the car, having an impromptu screaming tantrum like a crack-baby, whilst onlookers stare at me as if I'm torturing the child. But....sugar highs are ridiculously exhausting. With his size it doesn't take a lot to tip him over the edge. Balance, therefore, is paramount.

The Baby-weight

Trainers, running
I'm lucky that my son'll eat the same food as me. How many 2 year-olds do you know who will happily munch on rocket lettuce and sun dried tomatoes? I measured myself on the Wii Fit the other day. This time two years ago (when my son was 6 months old) I was 3 and a half stone heavier and had 21cm extra on my waist. I had made peace with the idea that it would just be my body-type for the rest of my life and I would have to live with it. Duh. What a misguided idiot.

I'm now three dress-sizes smaller and although I haven't been going to boot camp recently, I haven't gained any weight and I am continuing along the straight and narrow. As Christmas looms dangerously near I will have to take care not to trip up on the slippery road of temptation and give into the voices in my head urging me to indulge.

The Sea Monster

I know you're wondering what happened there. Well....I ignored his texts for a week after our date because I didn't know how to tell him I wasn't interested (I know, I'm a pathetic wimp). He finally left me a voice mail to say that he didn't think our last date went well, and he didn't think we should see each other again. Phew.

The Sweet Swede

Couple smilingA few weeks ago the Swede and I had the "exclusivity" conversation. I still only see him every other weekend on average. We always have a great time, but I wonder if it will only ever be a fun dating experience without the nitty gritty of a serious relationship. That thought was even more to the forefront of my mind when he mentioned there's a chance he'll move back to Sweden next year. I suppose I'm just trying to live in the here and now, enjoying the moment, and being taking out for dates. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I would eventually like someone to make long term plans with, someone to share the load of looking after my son and someone to nag after a long day. I just don't know if it's him yet.

Onwards and Upwards

The weekend is set to be a busy one. It will involve a wedding party of a couple of friends of mine, my birthday luncheon and a day with the Swede. Next week's post promises to be written by a career-hungry, healthy-eating, 'body-is-a-temple' believing 30 year old woman and mother (can't be 'Mummy' any more when I'm 30) with a sensible outlook on life, an interest in children's education and a desire to complete a Business Degree.

But wasn't she there there all along?