8 times I knew I was tired

 

I decided to adopt the “early tea and fast track into PJs” strategy, only to find everyone demanded a second tea and required a change of pyjamas. Double the work. Twice the pain.

I completely lost track of how many contact lenses I had put in each eye and took three out of one eye but still couldn’t see.

I listened to the entire Serial podcast thinking it was fiction.

I got the sofa bed out for use as a bouncy castle, and they used my face as the castle but it’s a lie down and I took it.

I wished for glandular fever & NHS-provided 24 hour childcare so I could watch back-to-back Line of Duty from the start.

I watched TV and for ten minutes thought Gino D’acampo was looking a bit old before realising it was Bruno Tonioli.

My request for an hour of nobody starting a sentence with “I want” so that Mummy can have a rest was met with “But I don’t want you to have a rest.”

My child said “Mum why are there two massive dogs in our living room?” when we don’t own dogs and I was in the living room and I hadn’t even noticed.

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Solidaritea (and up yours Daily Mail)

Reading one of these women’s posts is the equivalent of panicking because everyone in your post-natal group is bringing out brightly coloured snack pots full of home made humous and pasta salad and you have forgotten a snack but then the woman opposite you brings out a tupperware from her bag from last week that she’s forgotten about and it’s got mould growing in it and everyone sees and you just want to hug her and say “Thank you.”

I started a draft of this post several days ago, before that odious Daily Mail article about Mummy bloggers was shat out into the internet, promoting the repulsed reaction of many alongside the hashtag solidaritea. I don’t have the time or inclination to finesse it so I’ll just churn out what I was trying to say, while the iron is hot (which is never in my house, because I’m ONE OF THOSE AWFUL MOTHERS).

There are several kinds of mummy bloggers. Hundreds of different kinds. Here are some of the more famous (and some of the ones mentioned in that ridiculous joke of a “story”)

  • The tell it like it is. She’s One of Us. (e.g. The Unmumsy Mum)
  • The hilarious, ranty, keeps her family quite private but CHRIST can we all relate to her (e.g. Peter and Jane)
  • The focus on the downright sluttishness, the things we dare not admit – until now (e.g. Scummy Mummies)
  • The straight to the heart, downright funny and visual (think lovely clever cartoons) (e.g.Hurrah for gin)
  • The ones who call each other queens and bitches and reveal painful truths, perfect for when we’re angry and we miss our old selves (e.g. LikeaQueen)

On the flip side, there are the super polished ones who became a brand by working with brands. They have pretty lives, which is admirable, in a way, but I don’t find it interesting. I have also read parenting blog posts that just detail a particular child’s bowel movements. Or their first steps. That is it. That is not a blog, it’s a journal. They’re not much fun to read.

I’ve been going through my old blog posts (dating back as far as 2012) and I like to think I’ve not embarrassed my children. Most of my posts are observations about the funny things kids say, or how a day has gone, or about relationships. General whimsical stuff, crazy pregnancy stuff, random musings.  I don’t complain about my children, I do that to their face. I laugh about them, usually at my expense, which is what most of us do to let off steam.

We’ve just come out of Mental Health Awareness week. We all know that things can topple onto you, make you feel claustrophobic, make you wonder how you’ll get through the day, make you yearn to be alone, make you yearn to be with anyone else but your children, make you yearn to only be with your children, make you so happy you can’t bear to think of all the things that could shatter that happiness if you walk out that door, make you want to stop time, make you scared of everything, make you glad to be alive, make you feel alive.

If you can make someone laugh out loud or let out a sigh of “Oh it’s not just me” you can make a world of difference.  All it can take is one thing to rescue you, make you feel you’re not alone. It’s not always easy to get that thing in the real world. Not on those days when you’re struggling with breastfeeding, liaising with a malevolent toddler, looking after a poorly child or trying to remember the last time you left the house.

Reading one of these amazing bloggers’ posts is the equivalent of panicking because everyone in your post-natal group is bringing out brightly-coloured snack pots full of home-made humous and pasta salad and you have forgotten a snack but then the woman opposite you brings out a tupperware from her bag from last week that she’s forgotten about and it’s got mould growing in it and everyone sees and you just want to hug her and say “Thank you.”

So thank you to all the Mummy bloggers who share their reality, their insanity and their joy at being a parent. And up yours Daily Mail (*swigs gin* AND *finishes the kids’ cold fishfingers dipped in lumpy ketchup*)

 

 

Fish heads 1 Parents 0

I sipped my tea from a safe distance, muttering things like “There’s no need for such a fuss” and “It’s nothing a quick rinse with some soapy water can’t fix” and “It’s just a matter of encouraging their individual interests,” as the children splattered and smeared fish guts all over the kitchen cupboards.

Flopping a raw dismembered fish head onto a restaurant table is generally considered bad table manners but so is lying on the restaurant floor and you let a lot go when you have a fussy eater. This delightful sprat head, which BUB.1 acquired near a fish market after a day foraging for fossils on the Jurassic Coast, eventually took pride of place in his ‘special things’ box alongside some rotten bird eggs, a mouse head and an empty bird skull. We thought we could exploit this new interest in fish – he gags on fish fingers, so the only way was up – and a few days later took him to the fish counter to pick one out “for lunch.” A seabass, we thought. It was the start of something

That afternoon, fish guts were strewn across our kitchen island and all up my splash backs. BUB.1 sawed through the spine and garotted the poor thing. We had fins drying on paper towels and silver slithers of flesh on all the cupboard door handles. “Can I float its head in water Mummy?” he asked, as we started to clean up.”Pardon?” “Can you get me a bowl so I can see how it moves in the water?”

I filled a long vase and we dropped the head in, watching it slowly sink to the bottom, spinning. It was like that scene in Jaws when they find Ben Gardner’s boat. The meagre remnants of fish flesh that remained were duly baked in foil and picked out with a fork, in 1mm x 1mm sections, while BUB.1 dry retched. When WW got back from work that Saturday, the surfaces had been hosed down and we gushed about how we had filleted our own fish, like something from The Waltons. I felt like a parenting ninja.

A week later, it was WW’s turn, and this time we had a mackerel and a trout. I have never seen WW get so angry, as he produced a box of thin protective white gloves for everyone to wear. I sipped my tea from a safe distance, muttering things like “There’s no need for such a fuss, it’s nothing a quick rinse with some soapy water can’t fix,” “It’s just a matter of encouraging their individual interests,” and “He’s no Bear Grylls is he kids?” as he shouted things like “Don’t TOUCH the shiny knobs! NOT the knobs!”, “Stop dangling that all over the floor” and “It’s dripping on my leg!”

However, being a truly remarkable Dad, he overcame his fury and while staying at the in-laws a few weeks later he promised to take them to Bolton fish market (“the fish mecca of the north west” – his words). We decided to make it a family outing, as we like to do with all bad ideas, and it coincided with bobbing into Clarks for some new shoes.

The view in the fish market was truly breathtaking. I held my scarf over my mouth and tried not to breathe. Mound upon mound of sea creatures. I looked at the floor to kick away a rogue tentacle and I noticed that the  ‘Light Up!’ lights on BUB.2’s shiny new trainers weren’t lighting up. “We’ll have to take them back! Let’s go BACK!” I cried.” “I need a wee!” said BUB.3, her timing, as always, perfect. For once, I was keen to visit a public toilet, in the belief that the horrors within were better than the horrors without. We skated on an ice rink of frozen rancid brine past gaping mouths, bulging eyes, bloodied cavities, fetid fins, purple sinews, black seepage and tiny, tiny killer bones.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw WW looking at me. “You’re turning green. Your face is actually GREEN. Look kids! Mummy is GREEN!” “Can we get a squid beak, Mummy, please?” begged BUB.1. For the love of God, I didn’t even know squids had beaks. I used to spend Saturday afternoons smoothing myself with shimmering body lotions and spritzing myself with wine rather than standing in a swill of sea sludge, coated in a glistening varnish of fish glue. I moved quickly towards the toilets.

One fish I could handle. One normal, sea bass, on MY kitchen counter, under MY terms, I thought as I hoisted BUB.3’s trousers back up. But this was just short of a joke. He’d taken it too far. We made our way back to the market. Where the bloody hell were the kids? I looked around and saw them at quite some distance, heading behind the salmon counter to get a better look. Behind the counter where the fish guts were knee-high. “NEW SHOES” I screeched, sloshing through the rippling tide of fish intestines. Too late. New sparkly silver and blue non-light-up trainers, coated in a veneer of fish gravy. “Can we just take a salmon head please?” WW said to the guy. “20p, what a bargain!” WW beamed as we left the market, head in hands.

Back at Grandma’s, BUB.1 began his precise work, nipping bits off here, peering at teeth, showing us with pride how the jaws worked. When he wanted to inspect the bones more closely, he asked Grandma to boil it up on her stove which she kindly spent her Saturday afternoon doing, without asking the question I’m sure was on her lips: “Does he not enjoy football?”

As the fish heads were boiling to the bone, WW returned with a refund on the fishy, non-flashing trainers.  What a Dad. Oh and BUB.1 wants pet fish now. He’s made a list. We’ve managed to persuade him that a gecko is a better choice. For the fish.

 

 

 

The Poo Lagoon* (*or Bank Holiday at the public swimming pool).

Further round we dance, ducking under buckets of cold water, ricocheting off of obese men’s stomach, rippling past frenzied children kicking, mouldy crocodiles and a demonic stork, we make it back to the baby beach, apologising to everyone we get kicked in the face by.

Bank Holiday Mondays. Sun blazing through a London pub window, dust sparkling in the glare of the midday sun, the first drink arrives. Or a walk around Hampstead Heath, arm in arm, settling on a pub with a cosy nook and a glass of wine. Telly and bed.

But wait, what is this fresh hell? I have children. So I wake up this morning to WW telling me we’re all going swimming today, to the only swimming pool that has ever closed for refurbishment and reopened grimmer and more disgusting than before. The BUBs are bursting with excitement, so we find towels (WW forgot them last time and had to dry the children with his jumper), make sandwiches, and go about leaving the house.

We see the queue of people snaking out of the building as we approach, so I send WW back to the car to get everybody’s coats because the freezing wind is rattling around our necks. Twenty minutes later, at the front of the queue, we discover we don’t have a £1 coin for the locker and the staff can’t help (“No cash back, sorry, next please!”). So WW dashes to the bowling alley to get cash out to change at the desk. We play an impromptu game, sparked by the fact that BUB.2 has decided to sit at a different table to us as we wait for WW. “Hello little boy, are you lost? Would you like to come and live with our family? I’ll be your Mummy!”. “Yes, OK!” A woman at a nearby table gives me a sidelong glance but I’m warming to my theme. “Let’s see if we can find a lost Daddy! Oh look, here comes one in a blue jumper and a scruffy beard and he’s carrying some loose change!”.

Once inside, I’m the only one who has forgotten to wear a swimming costume under my clothes, so what follows is five minutes of “Mummy is naked! She’s completely naked! *INSERT MY ACTUAL FULL NAME* is completely naked!” shouted from the cubicle.  We fill two lockers with coats, sandwiches and towels. BUB.3 wants a wee. We wade through what can only be described as an inch of human scum to get to the cubicle. Once in the pool, along with 673 other people, we decide to take a swish around the lazy river or the “lagoon” as it is optimistically called. Before we can get there, a bastard monkey deposits a bucket of water over everybody’s head, and I am struck in the eye by a spurt of foamy white water emanating from a rusty looking pipe at the entrance to the lagoon. Clutching BUB.3, we bob around the corner and past a screaming cauldron of children, going bat shit crazy (and possibly relieving themselves) in a little lagoon nook. Further round we dance, ducking under buckets of cold water, ricocheting off obese men’s stomach, rippling past frenzied kicking children, mouldy crocodiles and a demonic stork, we make it back to the baby beach, apologising to everyone we get kicked in the face by.

BUB.3 realises my worst nightmare and wants to go in the bit with the baby slide, which is populated by people who think it’s appropriate to wear elaborate Pat Butcher-style earrings to a public pool. Somewhere you crouch down in a foot of tepid water and turn your head sideways every time a stranger’s bum crack passes within an inch of your mouth. I hang my head in shame as BUB.3 decides to walk up the slide (“DANGEROUS. GET DOWN.” That is my voice, being a grown up). Then BUB.2 escapes the big pool and comes to use the baby slide too, only he’s actually physically longer than the actual slide so the momentum is never really there, an embarrassment only alleviated when a boy of at least 13 with hairy legs has a go. We can’t go on the proper water slides because the queues snake round past the toilets. We decide on another bask around the lagoon, a decision I regret as soon as the frothy, rusty pipe ejaculation hits me square in the face.

Back in the safety of the baby beach, which has now reached a temperature of 150 degrees, BUB.3 says “I’m hungry.”  Oh angel child of mine, you heaven-sent goddess of wisdom, you gift of life, you treasure, you fairy-winged saviour of mankind. “The BABY is hungry. We’ll have to get out. Did you hear? She’s HUNGRY everyone”. The “baby” is three, but that’s not the point. I gather everyone around and head for the Changing Village (has anything ever been less village-y? Where is the post office? The tea shop? Any of the basic facilities of a human settlement?) and find a miracle.  The holy grail of public swimming pools. A family changing room (cottage?). It’s not ideal, the bin inside it is bursting out with used nappies and sanitary towels, and WW suggests we put a bag on it because he has lost his mind and there is just one sodding hook for a family of five. “DON”T GO NEAR THE BIN” I scream. It only takes us the best part of an hour to get everyone dry, and dressed and sitting happily with a bag of crisps. I’ve only had to shout “DON’T TOUCH THE BIN” fourteen times as we manoeuvre our five bodies around the family changing room which would be big enough if we were the Sylvanian Family.

And then the words that come out of my mouth almost every time we go swimming. “I’ve GOT to get out of here.” It’s me, opening the door, grabbing BUB.3 and making a girl’s dash for the loo in the “Vanity Area” (if vanity means leaving great hunks of wet hair for people to step into, then it’s perfect), to avoid the human sludge in the pool-side toilets. There was nothing vain about the person who got there first and decided diarrhoea and flushing were mutually exclusive activities. Dry retching, and hoarse from shouting “DON’T TOUCH THE SEAT” we dry half our heads with the 20p hairdryers and make our way to the car, where all three children demand feeding.

Still retching, I vow never to eat again. We head for Costco, where we all down a hefty slice of pizza (*ahem*) before dragging the tired kids around a warehouse-sized shop, being forced to buy three whole sea bass (another story, another blog post) and a bumper bag of Cornettos to keep the peace. Home at last we chop a head off a fish (BUB.1 has a new hobby, like I say, it’s another story) and I beg WW to go the shop for wine but he tells me to try sparkling water. I weep openly and head to the fridge where I find an old can of Stella which I have three sips of before BUB.2 spills it. Fish head boiling in the pan, the children in their pyjamas, WW puts on some Brazilian music and we all start juddering around the kitchen, which is fun until I catch sight of my belly jiggling to its own rhythm. Flinging myself on the floor, I start to do some emergency sit ups, only to have WW and BUB.2 doing their Brazilian dance over me, legs akimbo, shaking their bums over my head. And laughing. With a fish head boiling on my stove, we are all laughing.

Because in between the dry retching, the human gunk, trampolining off men’s arses, the spunk face wash, the bum cracks, the bodily hair, the sanitary towels, the faeces, the greasy pizza, the boiled fish head, today was actually one of our better family days out.

 

 

 

Rhyming with Wine

Exploding sprinkles

A while back I thought I was having a bad day: leaky milk bottle in school bags, wee in the car seat until, at tea time, the sprinkles exploded.So, with keeping a tidy, clean home in order obviously at the front of my mind, here are 10 confessions of a true scummy mummy.

Two days ago I wrote a blog called 5 Tricks To Get You Through The Day which was  a five-point plan for survival at home with small kids: Tea, Radio, Podcasts, Loud Music and Wine (not necessarily in that order). One of my friends commented that one of her tricks is to squirt bleach down the toilets to give the overall feeling of having cleaned the entire house. To her, wiping boys’ wee off toilet seats restores a sense of calm. On the same day I read this fantastic Peter and Jane post about the state of Mummy’s car. I feel it. Three days ago a Petit Filous was tipped upside down into the drinks/coin holder between the front seats where it is currently cultivating. A while back I thought I was having a bad day: leaky milk bottle in school bags, wee in the car seat until, at tea time, the sprinkles exploded.

I sometimes clean the entire house using just baby wipes. This is particularly true if visitors are unexpectedly coming.

No matter how many times I tidy up, there is always an adult male sock somewhere on the living room carpet.

I once found Sesame Street’s Beaker lurking in my knicker drawer. To be honest, he looked more surprised than I did.

My entire house used to be a car park. Sinks were ramps, taps were car washes, kitchen drawers were garages, windowsills were speedways. This has all thankfully ended now.
It’s now Jurassic Park.

Like a catastrophic game of Kerplunk, the BUBs love to ‘play’ with dried spaghetti, in an unauthorised attack on my sanity.

Whenever I clear the car of toys, tissues, wrappers and rubble in preparation for a clean, Mr Potato Head and his many accroutrements will sneak in.

I once had to surgically remove a pair of meerkats from a beaker.

You know you’ve come unstuck when you have to use baby wipes to wipe the packet of baby wipes that have become suspiciously sticky.

What happens when men tidy up is you find a screwdriver in your knicker drawer.

After months of delay, I cleaned my bag out. I put the bugger through the washing machine. The next day a packet of Walkers French Fries emptied into the pocket. Five days later it was still there.

BUT…whenever the state of the house gets too much, I remember the day BUB.3 returned from her first morning at preschool. She ran in and hugged the walls.

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5 Tricks To Get You Through The Day

The hideous cacophony of household appliances, voices and thuds, the constant litter picking, the ceaseless searching for things and the endless supply of defrosted sausages to cook. It’s what known as the Day That Lasts Forever But Actually Nothing Gets Done and it happens when you are a parent to small children and spend time in your own home.

You know it. The hideous cacophony of household appliances, shouts and songs, the constant litter picking, the ceaseless searching for things and the endless supply of defrosted sausages to cook. It’s what’s known as the Day That Lasts Forever But Actually Nothing Gets Done and it happens when you are a parent to small children and spend time in your own home. It took me a while to get a handle on these days. These days used to haunt my soul. But as the years have gone along, I have learnt my own Tricks To Get Me Through The Day.

1. Tea. I neck the first cup of tea of the day and the one directly before bathtime like it’s a tequila on a bad date.

2. Radio: It might add to the cacophony but the days I forget or am too busy to switch the radio on are the days I literally lose my mind. I never switch on the TV. Voices, talking, music, joy comes from the background noise of radio, not daytime TV presenters.

3. Podcasts: I don’t mind putting laundry away if Russell Brand is buffering on my bed. Likewise, podcasts like Serial, Invisibilia and Scummy Mummies have literally kept me sane and helped me drown out Peppa’s annoying whine. Sometimes something as simple as a quick listen to an archived Dustin Hoffman’s Desert Island Discs can make the day swim along much more merrily.

4. Loud music: The louder the better and nothing with a child’s voice in it or mention of animals or wheels.

5. Wine. You know those people who fall in love in a romantic sense with the Golden Gate Bridge or a bannister rail? I feel that way about Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc.

My list is simple. I’m open to hearing of any other tricks. Sometimes even the Big Five can’t swing it.

 

 

Pigeons and rainbows

Adorable. CHILD: “Where does rice come from?” ME: “A field called a rice paddy. It’s a crop.” CHILD: “It doesn’t grow on daisies then?” Mix up: CHILD: “How do caterpillars make raccoons?”

The questions have begun from BUB.3. I hope she comes up with some on a par with her older brothers….if so, here’s some of what I can look forward to.

Infuriating: CHILD: “Why is the sponge?”. ME: “Why is it what?” BUB.1: “Yeah! Why?” (I’ve gone into this strain of questioning before in this post “What was that?”…)

Adorable. CHILD: “Where does rice come from?” ME: “A field called a rice paddy. It’s a crop.” CHILD: “It doesn’t grow on daisies then?”

Mix up: CHILD: “How do caterpillars make raccoons?”

Two-pronged cuteness: CHILD: “What are rainbows made out of?” CHILD 2: “Glitter.”

Odd. CHILD: “Why doesn’t your nose have eyes?”.

Romantic: CHILD: “How does the moon go up?”

Physics: CHILD: “Where has my holiday gone?”

And the BEST question ever: CHILD (looking up at a phone wire in the street):  “Mummy, why is that pigeon not holding on?”