Pass me the manual!


Baby books are an industry (a dubious one in my opinion but an industry none the less). I never quite understood how a mixed bag of contradictions with its own personality and unique take on life could be forced into a stereotype penned by some academic. But there’s a supposed answer to every question you could possibly think up about your little bundle of joy with helpful tips and hints on everything from breast feeding to sleeping through the night. However, it seems that as they grow we don’t need the advice anymore – when issues raise their head at 5, 6, 7, 8 and older you’re left alone with only the terrifying answers from Google to keep you awake at night.

Take my soon to be five year old. He’s been under a consultant at the local hospital since birth for a minor condition but due to long waiting lists and low staff numbers his last appointment (which had to be cancelled due to projectile vomiting on his part) has yet to be rescheduled. It was meant to be in August last year and we’re still waiting. His yearly check-ups give me reassurance and that’s all I want from this next elusive appointment so in the meantime where do I go? If he was younger I’d head off to the health visitor – a wonderful woman who helped me through so much when both kids were tiny. But he’s at school so is that appropriate? I don’t feel I can waste the GP’s time as it’s an ongoing thing so what can I do? Where’s the useful reference book about this with the smiling, reassuring mums of all ages and backgrounds on the cover?

Then there’s my eldest who has just got the date for her first residential school trip. She is definitely her mother’s daughter and the thought of being away has terrified her since she first discovered the trip was a possibility. Now it’s on the horizon and last night my very level headed and sensible girl spent over an hour sobbing hysterically at the thought of being away from home for two nights. It broke my heart. I really want her to go so she doesn’t miss out but I can’t force her on the bus and I don’t want her to make herself ill. What I could really do with is some advice…but guess what? There’s no manual on dealing with this! I know there are forums and chat rooms where mums can share ideas, feelings and experiences but how come new mums are allowed to walk into bookshop and browse the shelves looking for answers, visit the health visitor or a support group to feel the reassurance of real people in the same situation but when your kids are up and about you are supposed to know what to do or feel comfortable talking to complete strangers on the other side of the country about your worries?

When mine were babies I thought I knew how tough being a parent was – the lonely nights, the lack of sleep, the potty training etc but I am just beginning to realise that the going is about to get a whole lot tougher and this time it seems my and my husband our on our own!



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