Sunday, 12 April 2015

To double, or not to double

Call me sensitive, but when I entered the realm of parenthood I suddenly felt more judged by complete strangers than I ever have done before.

Confronted with an array of decisions including how to feed your baby, how to dress them, how to play with them and later on how to discipline them, everyone seems to have an opinion. These opinions are so very different that it's inevitable that 'observations' are made by others regarding the choices that I make for my own children.

Only last week I was out food shopping with both kiddies (we will be internet shopping from now on) and Lena had decided to sit on the foot plate of our single buggy. When I turned the corner at the bottom of the cereal aisle I did so just that bit too fast. Lena caught her foot on the floor and she promptly, with impressive dramatic force, face planted. This, of course, unfolded in front of a queue of busy lunchtime shoppers at the self-checkout tills. I heard the unanimious intake of breath and felt the silent judgements, not only regarding the incident itself but also on my handling of the aftermath.

To add to this unnerving feeling of  constantly being under observation, I stumbled across a website with the sole purpose of shaming 'lazy' parents who still encourage their children to use strollers way beyond the average weight capacity of 15kgs. Bingo! With baby number two on the way, this was perfect timing for my neurotic tendancies. Fearful that Red Head Number One would end up on the front page of said site the decision to buy a double buggy was seriously well considered, and of course Netmums threads well read, and then promptly rejected as an option for our growing family.

Fast approaching 2.5 years old she is a capable walker. She has legs, they should be used - right? The problem is that she is 2.5 years old. These interesting creatures tend to come with a temperament similar to an active volcano. I spend most of my days on a knife edge, my expression is that of a startled deer,  poised and waiting for an explosion of rage from my little ginger nut because I dared to offer her grapes instead of strawberries as a snack.....Quelle horreur!

Spurred on by the often delightful comments of many a Mumsnet user I convinced myself that a double buggy for the arrival of number two was pointless. I didn't need a super wide buggy that didn't quite fit into shops. I could manage with a fancy sling and my delightful first-born would clearly happily walk for miles, or when her little legs were tired simply follow orders and hop onto a buggy board. I just needed to spend a few months before number two arrived helping build up Lena's stamina. Delighted with this new found confidence, I had dreams of buying a glorious Bugaboo Cameleon. I clearly also had dreams of an entirely different life to my own.

The thing is when I'm not waddling like a penguin during the final stages of pregnancy or spending most of my time hovering over the toilet in the throes of morning sickness at the beginning of my pregnancy I like to walk, a lot. Our daily jaunt is about 5 miles around our local area. Then in the summer living by the sea means that a stroll into Brighton (50 minutes) or to the lagoon (40 minutes) is a regular occurrence. Even I get knackered and my inside leg length in 36" (May I clarify that I'm not bragging, I may be half Dutch but I certainly am not Doutzen Kroes.) I felt my conviction begin to sway..... especially after seeing the Mountain Buggy Duet. A double that fits through a doorway without having a small child so close to the ground that a dog could urinate on them.... certainly an interesting option.

Then came our first family outing. After a hideous c-section recovery and weeks of being locked in the house I was thrilled to go to our local park with my brand new family of four. It started off well. We got Lena's coat on. That in itself felt like a monumental achievement. But from then on in it went down hill. We brought out her City Jogger GT and put Marni in it. The reaction was explosive. Bearing in mind we had spent hours prepping her for this occasion. This was definitely still her buggy and how dare the thing that should have quite clearly been left in the hospital start using it as hers.

It sort of then escalated into what I can only describe as toddler hell from then on in. We eventually got her out of the house. I think, bearing in mind the park is about three blocks away, we had an interesting ratio of tantrums to walking. Then on arrival she didn't want to go on anything, Marni then started to scream for an unexpected feed, Lena then screamed that she was hungry and didn't want the oat bar I had packed, she declared it was time to go home, but she wanted to go into the buggy, after several pavement praying sessions she agreed to go onto her Dad's shoulders. At which point it started to hail.... HAIL! I kid you not!

This combined with the prospect of a nursery run the next Monday, unable to drive, still struggling with c-section pain, unable to pick up a flailing toddler, we promptly visited a lovely local buggy shop and picked ourselves up a shiny red Mountain Buggy Duet. Lena proudly declared that this was her new buggy and she kindly agreed to allow her new baby sister to sit next to her. She is now thrilled to share it with HER baby sister and it is a real treat watching her proudly ride beside the carrycot containing her new friend.

For sure, I get the odd look. Lena is a tall child for her age, and I can just predict what they are thinking. I'm sure as a parent of one toddler I might have judged in the same manner..... the thing is now we have two it's a totally different ball game. Each and every day is hard, rewarding but seriously exhausting. So whatever tool I can use that not only makes my life easier but by association makes me a happier, more playful, approachable and kind mother I'm using it, sod the looks. 

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