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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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

Let's pub

I find that getting ready for a night out isn’t what it was. I once had to deal with two poos and a pair of sore bollocks just during make-up application. Despite usually having to let one of my children try on my dress or my boots or my bag, despite sweating most of my make up off before I leave the house, despite hangovers with kids being the ultimate torture, I want to pub so badly.

I’ve started to consider, in my own head, sitting on the other sofa as a ‘change of scene’. Those EXACT words ACTUALLY went through my ACTUAL mind. That’s not all. Recently I punched the air and whooped because my favourite Tinga Tinga Tales was on – the chameleon one. I need to get out more. I miss pubs. I miss chatting at the bar. Some of my favourite comedies have been pub-based; Cheers and Early Doors spring to mind. Beer breath and stale chairs. I’ve considered inventing pub-scented potpourri or a plug in pub “defreshener” but I realise I may be the only person who would buy it.

Village pubs don’t really count. I’m talking about London pubs where everyone is crammed in, jostling and joining random groups. Where you spill half your drink on your way back to your friends and you forget to eat and you have to wade into the toilets. I want to pub properly. Village life is great. But you know you’ve moved to a village when your main conversations involves kidney stones and bed sores. At the school gates I once talked to a man I’d just met about skid marks.

We have lots of pubs nearby. In fact, BUB.1 went through a phase of shouting ‘PUB!’ whenever we passed one in the car, in same way other children shout ‘COW!’ or ‘PARK!’, leading me to wonder if I do this. And of course when I do get to go out, I find that getting ready for a night out isn’t what it was. I once had to deal with two poos and a pair of sore bollocks just during make-up application. Despite usually having to let one of my children try on my dress or my boots or my bag, despite sweating most of my make up off before I leave the house, despite hangovers with kids being the ultimate torture, I want to pub so badly.

To counteract the getting ready shenanigans, I usually have one night away a year in London when I stay in a hotel from early afternoon until the next morning. I missed last year. Can you tell? It’s like a missed valium. I’ve got the shakes.

But, of course, pubs live on. They live on in my children. School meetings with other parents invariably occur in the pub. I asked BUB.2 if he wanted to be a Learning Detective (whatever the hell that is) at school, in response to a slip of annoyingly vague paper that I found crumpled at the bottom of his bag. “I do because you get to go to meetings,” he said, before pausing for a while and sighing. “But not in the pub.”

There’ll be a time to pub my son, a time to pub.

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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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?”

Cracking up

One thing I didn’t expect to worry about as a parent was whether my three-year-old would address strangers as “you stupid bum crack.” But that did actually happen when BUB.2 was three. It was around about the same time he and his older brother invented an imaginary horse bum crack flavour ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s have missed a trick, surely.

One thing I didn’t expect to worry about as a parent was whether my three-year-old would address strangers as “you stupid bum crack.” But that did actually happen when BUB.2 was three. It was around about the same time he and his older brother invented an imaginary horse bum crack flavour ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s have missed a trick, surely?

He also used to run around shouting “Shit hot!” for ages before I realised he’d been watching a video on my iPhone of a sheep being sheared. Sheep hot. Sheep. Another of my farmyard loving son’s cries in public was “Mummy whore!” which he used to sing repeatedly at the top of his voice when he wanted to go and see some horses in our local woods.

But my absolute favourite BUB.2 howler was when WW was going to take them off to his parents’ house a few months ago for a whole weekend so I could get some precious uninterrupted hours to actually bloody work in peace.

BUB.2 When’s Dad going to bugger us? ME: WHAT?? BUB.2: When is he going to bugger us? When are we going to bugger off? To Grandma’s?”

Whoops, language. I missed them terribly, of course.

 

Bat capes and bingo wings

I’m usually covered in food and normally dunk at least one part of my body in baked beans during the course of any day. Once it was my right boob, in public. As for personal style, you just know that it’s time to change the style of your shoulder bag when someone tries to pay you to go on the bouncy castle.

I’m going through a tired, worn phase of split ends, bad skin, muffin top and lethargy, otherwise known as winter. We’ve recently ditched the buggy and without it I feel suddenly exposed. As I trot around juggling the mountains of coats and paraphernalia that I used to sling in the buggy, I realise what, in the course of raising small children, I have become. I’m sick of scuffing around town in torn trousers, battered trainers and a shrunken top. The other day I was really pleased to see a slightly glamorous photo of myself in amongst some family photos until I realised it wasn’t me.

I don’t know about you but pride in my personal appearance has taken a nose dive. I routinely leave the house wearing something ridiculous. As an example, I once accidentally left the house with a bat cape velcroed to the back of my jumper.

I’m usually covered in food and normally dunk at least one part of my body in baked beans during the course of any day. Once it was my right boob, in public.  As for personal style, you just know that it’s time to change the style of your shoulder bag when someone tries to pay you to go on the bouncy castle.

As for my hair, dry shampoo plays an increasingly important role in my life. It’s only after showering, getting ready and applying Batiste that you can see if you got away with skipping a proper hair wash. More often than not, you haven’t. In desperation, I once got carried away and accidentally dry-shampooed my face; it was completely white. And children aside, age has taken its toll. I’ve got hand freckles and silver temples and a layered haircut can make me look dangerously like Jilly Cooper.

I’ve lost my mojo.

At low points like this it’s nice to to know you can rely on your family to give you a boost and this can come in many forms. Here are some examples of actual exchanges that have taken place in my house.

Trying too hard: ME: How old you think I look? WW: 32. ME: Really? Thanks! WW: At a push. ME: Why do that? WW: Say 34 then.

Logical: CHILD: Why don’t women have beards? ME: Well, most women are less hairy than men and don’t grow much hair on their face. CHILD: Mummy, you’re not a woman.

Zoological: CHILD (pointing to my armpits): “You look like a gorilla who has lost all of its hair apart from there!”

[pullquote]Random observations that have really lifted my spirits include: “Mum, your bum is bigger than this house!”[/pullquote]

Heartwarming: Why did your tummy not go back to the same as before? ME: Do you think I’m too fat? CHILD: Yes. But not too fat for me.

Helpful: CHILD: What toy would you like Father Christmas to bring you next year? ME: What do you think I should ask for? CHILD: New make-up?

Scientific. ME (getting in bath): This is a bit deep! CHILD: If you stand up Mum, the water will go down loads!

PS: Random observations that have really lifted my spirits include: “Mum, your bum is bigger than this house!”, “Mummy, are you a hippo?”, “You really do look like a man with long hair Mummy,” “I want to wear giant pants like you” and my personal favourite: “Mum have you got a walking stick?”

 

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