I often berate myself for not spending enough time just playing with Ellie – I all too often let life get in the way. That email won’t get typed, that floor won’t get cleaned and that meal certainly won’t get cooked if I’m playing! I’m pretty sure this is something other parents can relate to, isn’t it?
What I find even more interesting is that when I do play with Ellie it tends to be doing jigsaws, arts and crafts, writing and very ‘practical’ things. It’s that moment when I hear ‘oh mummy, let’s pretend to be…’ that I can honestly say makes me wonder what jobs I should be finding to do. I’m aware this is a terrible confession, but it’s true.
So the other day when Ellie asked me to ‘pretend to be vets’, I decided this was something I could definitely do and that I really should give it a go. She also followed her invite with ‘you don’t have to do anything really’ in order to encourage me to get involved – proof if ever that I don’t always find enough time to just play and a definite challenge!
We ended up with phones to call each other and some very funny conversations, six animal customers with multitudes of problems and a whole lot of laughter and fun. We probably played the game for 20 minutes or so at most but it was a this was a successful play time together and I am officially chuffed. I even managed to take some photos!
So whilst I might not be great at playing let’s pretend games, and I might choose colouring over them in a heartbeat, this post is proof that I can do it and that when I do, it’s actually rather fun.
Last September Ellie started swimming lessons. For a variety of reasons I hadn’t been able to start her in lessons sooner but I’m incredibly proud to say that she’s really taken to it and enjoys it alot. This week Ellie successfully got her 50m badge – I am so excited and so proud. Unfortunately however, due to a combination of knowing what badges some of her friends have already got, and having very high expectations of herself, Ellie isn’t nearly so excited or proud.
It didn’t help much that at the end of the lesson the teacher was encouraging Ellie by saying that she’d done well and her strokes were good, so she should definitely go for her 100m badge next week. On the car journey home I repeated this saying how well she’d done and that ‘you should try for your 100m, your teacher knows you can do it’. What was meant to be encouraging and positive turned out to be quite the opposite for Ellie – who promptly burst in to tears and said ‘I can’t do it, I’m not very good at swimming!’
In trying to be encouraging about next week I had clearly failed to express strongly enough how proud I was of her achievement this week and that it doesn’t matter if she tries for her 100m badge next week or not. Although I had said both of these things, Ellie clearly was focussed upon what in her view she couldn’t do. I quickly repeated to Ellie that it was amazing that she had her 50m badge, that she should be proud and that I was very very proud. We soon agreed a treat she could have for getting her 50m badge, and I repeated with some force how proud she made me.
Unfortunately, even after that she only reluctantly agreed for me to text her Dad to tell him and has point blank refused to take her badge into the ‘celebration assembly’ at school because ‘the others will laugh’.
All in all – it seems to me that Ellie isn’t very proud of herself, when she really should be. This is a clear reminder of something I already know about my little girl – she has incredibly high expectations of herself and puts herself under pressure in everything. Funnily enough her school parents evening highlighted this exact same point with the teacher commenting that Ellie doesn’t like to get things wrong and never needs motivating.
I can only hope that if I keep telling her how wonderful she is and how proud of her i am that she might, eventually, believe me.
I’m the sort of person that is forever writing things down – sometimes they become posts and sometimes they just get forgotten. What I really like though is when I re-discover them and they get me thinking! Take this for example, which I re-discovered yesterday:
“In many ways I’m starting again. I know myself better now than ever before and of course I’ve got my amazing little girl, but there is no getting away from the fact that at 36 years old I am beginning again – settling down with Richard and his son in our new home, as a new family.
I try not to think too much about my decisions in the past and especially not to look back and regret. Although some people say regrets mean you’ve lived – I think regrets feel a bit like I wish I hadn’t done something. I don’t regret being married. I don’t regret having my daughter. I don’t regret calling off an engagement. I’m sad that all those things didn’t turn out how I hoped – but right now I feel overwhelmingly hopeful for the future.
I’m hopeful for our family, hopeful for our happiness and hopeful that Richard and I will grow old together. I love the balance that we bring to each other and I already love the home and family we are building together.”
Unbelievably it has been two and half years since I wrote that and since we moved in together. As you’d expect, reading that again sparked the obvious question – how do I feel now? Well time has truly flown – we got used to each other, got married and firmly settled as a family of four. It’s definitely too early to comment on the ‘growing old together’ bit! That said there is no doubt that we are incredibly happy as a family.
The truth though for anyone out there considering doing something similar is that it hasn’t always been easy – we were (and are) both very independent people, the children were (and are) both very different children and these differences made (and make!) life a real challenge.
I recall a moment in the first few weeks after we’d moved in together when I literally told Richard we had made a mistake and I meant it.
Yet here we are two and a half years later. Of course we still don’t agree on everything (who does?) but with a little patience, a lot of respect for each other and a bucket load of love we’ve come this far.