Friday night

Friday night before kids:

Apply make up. Go out to club. Get drunk. Do shots. Fall over. Injure self. Bleed. Go home.

Friday night last week:

Remove make up. Make a cup of tea. Receive WhatsApp message from friend saying she is doing shots at her book club and has given herself a nosebleed. Reconsider joining book club. Put cup of tea on stairs while taking laundry upstairs. Put laundry away. Get distracted by putting pyjamas on. Walk downstairs, tripping over the cold tea. Fall arse over tit and rebound off the four last stairs like a lead-weight slinky. Catch scrotal-like elbow skin on stairs, ripping a gigantic flap away. Become alarmed at soaking wet pyjamas, not sure if blood or tea. Establish it is both. Decide to clean the guinea pigs out. Bleed profusely into their cage from elbow. Stain remove blood from a guinea pig cage.  Inspect flap where elbow used to be. Slap a bandage on the flap. Retire to sofa with wine, trying not to bend elbow too vigorously in the drinking process. Bend elbow vigorously and repeatedly. Go to bed.

 

 

 

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I see you. Your children see you. Can you see you?

The thing with Instagram mums is you can’t see them. If Sarah down the road has her shoes on the wrong feet (hers, not her child’s, it can happen) you can see it. You can see her unwashed hair, her red-rimmed eyes, the numerous fish finger boxes in her recycling. You can see her ill fitting jeans.

Women have never been perfect mothers. They just never got so incessantly pulled up by the media and they never had to compare themselves to filtered Instagram addicts. Looking back over time, billions of women have looked out for each other, helped each other, listened, noticed, shared and laughed with each other. That circle of support still exists today, down the street and online. My preferred channel of support is the bloggers and the writers who call themselves things like Unmumsy Mum and Scummy Mummies and Hurrah For Gin. They don’t fit the image of ‘mother’ that has been written not just by mothers, but by men, by media, by doctors and experts. They’re written by women who have kids. Mothers.

Modern day internet heroes are those women who make us laugh, who show us their red-rimmed eyes, their fat arses, their boredom, their bottle of gin, their tearful commute to work, their daily guilt, their imperfections, their love for their children. The Sarah Turners, the Helen Thorns, the Ellis Gibsons and the Katie Kirbys.  When was it decided that there was a bar to reach? And who decided it? It definitely wasn’t the woman sitting on the bench in the park with food-stained jeans on, hiccuping back tears and wishing she could just lie down for a minute. She has always been there. She has always sat on that bench. She just never had a world of comparisons and expectations on her shoulders. Her kids are alive and they’re in the park. You did it lady, these bloggers say, every day. You did everything you needed to and sometimes you need to hear that every day.

Kids don’t see Instagram filters or symmetrical cup cakes or fashion-forward scarves when they look at you or your home. They see lines and imperfections and sometimes they see tears; they see you. Not your 3495 followers. Not your dirty kitchen cupboards. Not your Valencia-filtered home-made egg muffins. They see you. If you transcribed the average mother’s day it would probably be a mixture of “God, can you just leave me alone for two minutes” and “I love you so much I can barely breathe” but there is no such thing as the average mother. To your child, the only person in the world who makes you a mother, there is only you.

And if anyone judges you for looking at your text messages from friends that make you laugh out loud and stealing a few minutes of feeling like you while your children play, or for feeding your kids the quickest thing you can find, then you probably want to scream at them that you weren’t always a mother and being a mother isn’t all that you are and, ultimately, you are just you looking after your child as best you can.

The fortunate mothers in this world aren’t hiding in broom cupboards scared of falling short or drinking in secret or pretending this is all they ever wanted or needed. They are doing it all in the open. They’re getting on trains across cities to work. They’re flying to meetings. They’re working night shifts. They’re drowning in laundry. They are fighting every day to balance everything their child needs with what they need. And they’re writing it all down, speaking it out loud and with it, millions of shoulders feel a little less heavy. Their words, their version of motherhood, their stories. Hallelujah to that. And to any mother who receives criticism for how she has done something from someone who has no business to say so, just remember to look down the street, or online, and there will be other mothers, scummy mummies and unmumsy mums and gin-loving mums,  leaving the house with a bat cape on, with cheerios in their hair, chairing meetings, attending school plays, writing presentations, saving lives, teaching other children, taking a bottle of wine out to the recycling and resisting a very slight urge to be sick. They’re doing all of these things.

So what does this have to do with the mummy bloggers who are much maligned by some? What these amazing women are doing is they are saying: You can be both. Just be both. Enjoy your life. Enjoy you and be glad to be you because that’s all your children want or need you to be. Above all, forgive yourself for not being perfect, so that your kids can look up to the happy, confident, joyful, imperfect woman that you were meant to be. To them, you are perfect and when it comes to judging mothers, whose opinion really, really matters?

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.

 

 

Weight loss, it’s a thing.

Aside from rigorously following Slimming World for eight months, people ask me how I lost 3.5 stone (three of which I tell myself were each of the BUBs’ fault, half a stone was the biscuits’ fault, but it’s probably the other way round).

What was the secret? It was this:

Individually-wrapped Moser Roth chocolate bars from Aldi. To be precise, and you do need to be, five 25 gram bars per packet, in a myriad of flavours. And Sauvignon Blanc. Measured into 125ml or 175ml glasses. Preferably this bottle from Aldi, or Brancott Estate or whatever I could lay my hands on.

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For me, it was most nights for the chocolate. If I wasn’t having wine then I could sometimes have two chocolate bars, depending on what else I’d had that day.

It was my ‘thing’. You need to have your ‘thing’.

Fortunately my ‘thing’ was also all the stuff you can have and indeed much of which there are no limits on: beans, potatoes, noodles, cous cous, fat-free dairy products, pasta, lean meat and fish, chicken, vegetables, fruit, rice, a sprinkle of cheese. MARMITE. Think every meal you’ve ever cooked, but loaded with more vegetables and cooked in less fat or oil. That’s dinner sorted.

There’s no tedious calorie counting and minimal weighing, just cheese, nuts, cereal and bread for me, which you’re allowed a little of each day. Fair enough. I ate huge plates of food when I was hungry and went back for more if I wanted.

The secret to not wanting all the 25g bars of chocolate in the packet is to make sure that you’re not hungry. Ever. It’s that easy. Keep eating the right stuff all day. Pile it high.

And that’s why diets that leave you hungry will never work. The chocolate (or whatever your ‘thing’ is) will always win.

And, sometimes the chocolate DOES win, even when you’re stuffed to the gills. The wine definitely has a knack of winning. That’s life, and the trick then is to just carry on the next day as if nothing has happened. It can be your dirty little secret.

It’s good to have those once in a while.

3 Little Buttons

Weight loss, it's a thing.

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Aside from rigorously following Slimming World for eight months, people ask me how I lost 3.5 stone (three of which I tell myself were each of the BUBs’ fault, half a stone was the biscuits’ fault, but it’s probably the other way round).

What was the secret? It was this:

Individually-wrapped Moser Roth chocolate bars from Aldi. To be precise, and you do need to be, five 25 gram bars per packet, in a myriad of flavours. And Sauvignon Blanc. Measured into 125ml or 175ml glasses. Preferably this bottle from Aldi, or Brancott Estate or whatever I could lay my hands on.

20150205-204029.jpg

For me, it was most nights for the chocolate. If I wasn’t having wine then I could sometimes have two chocolate bars, depending on what else I’d had that day.

It was my ‘thing’. You need to have your ‘thing’.

Fortunately my ‘thing’ was also all the stuff you can have and indeed much of which there are no limits on: beans, potatoes, noodles, cous cous, fat-free dairy products, pasta, lean meat and fish, chicken, vegetables, fruit, rice, a sprinkle of cheese. MARMITE. Think every meal you’ve ever cooked, but loaded with more vegetables and cooked in less fat or oil. That’s dinner sorted.

There’s no tedious calorie counting and minimal weighing, just cheese, nuts, cereal and bread for me, which you’re allowed a little of each day. Fair enough. I ate huge plates of food when I was hungry and went back for more if I wanted.

The secret to not wanting all the 25g bars of chocolate in the packet is to make sure that you’re not hungry. Ever. It’s that easy. Keep eating the right stuff all day. Pile it high.

And that’s why diets that leave you hungry will never work. The chocolate (or whatever your ‘thing’ is) will always win.

And, sometimes the chocolate DOES win, even when you’re stuffed to the gills. The wine definitely has a knack of winning. That’s life, and the trick then is to just carry on the next day as if nothing has happened. It can be your dirty little secret.

It’s good to have those once in a while.

3 Little Buttons

Reality cheque

I haven’t used my chequebook in a long, long time. This became evident today when I dug it out of an old box in order to write, and how retro I feel saying this, a couple of cheques for BUB.1’s upcoming school trips.

10931032_10152953731585428_7728338136169733532_n.jpgI haven’t used my chequebook in a long, long time. This became evident today when I dug it out of an old box in order to write, and how retro I feel saying this, a couple of cheques for BUB.1’s upcoming school trips.

Crumpled, worryingly damp, a little dog-eared to say the least, it was no surprise to discover that the last time I used this chequebook was in 2002. I was still in my late 20s when I wrote those stubs and hadn’t even set foot in Australia yet. Eleven years ago.

Flicking back, I see that the final stub reads: “Rent/Phone/Wine”, which about sums up life back then. And from that, I moved directly to “Dick Whittington and his cats on Ice” as if no time had passed at all.

How the world changes.

The time of our lives

Hunched under stone arches we consumed wine and glorious cheese. All kinds of cheese. Limitless wine. At some point in this digression we happened across the topic of having a child together.

IMG_2837We didn’t know it then but it was probably the last silly night we’d have in a long, long time.

It started with a boat trip to Greenwich, where we visited the observatory and contemplated the Millenium Dome (the O2 will never slip so easily off the tongue) and the Prime Meridian Line. We pottered around some vintage clothes shops, sniffing stuff and finding treasure, uninterrupted, as if we had all the time in the world.

I tried on two dresses – one a beautiful, tiny Chinese, barely zippable dress, the other a stark black number that I would imagine Lilith Sternin from Frasier wearing, and in which I imagined myself striding down Fifth Avenue in, on my way to a meeting.

Bizarrely, I recall feeling very womanly, very grown up, in that changing room. I bought them.

After dinner in a riverside pub, we boarded the boat and returned to Charing Cross where we tiptoed down into Gordon’s Wine Bar and hunched under stone arches we consumed wine and glorious cheese. All kinds of cheese. Limitless wine. At some point in this digression we happened across the topic of having a child together. We agreed it was a good idea. It wasn’t the first conversation about the mere possibility. But it was the last.

We ended up in Carnaby Street, possibly via a tipsy row about nothing, where giant inflatable snowmen hung.

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And then home.

The next day we tried to make BUB.1 before I went on a two-day work trip to Glasgow. Not long after my return we found out we had succeeded and life was never the same again.

Here I am in that Fifth Avenue dress, the next day.

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But I have never fitted into that damn Chinese dress. Not even the next day. But I have broken the zip trying.