Time for something new?

I’m at a crossroads. I was wondering after a few years of sporadic musings on having babies and family life and a few friendly followers (and a few more on Twitter) should I be trying to make money from this blogging? Should I be trying to get sponsorship, advertising, paid for posts? I’m a journalist so for me writing has always been a living. In order to try and grow my reach, I spent two weeks joining “linkies”, where you read a few blogs, like a few and they do the same to yours. All with hashtags. Lots of back scratching. It made me itchy. In fact, it turned into an exercise that left me morally defunct and ethically spent. I had to read a whole blog post about another woman’s child’s bowel movements in order to abide by the “rules.” I was grinding my teeth in my sleep.

Then I saw it. The Instagram post from a blogger who had snapped her kids and their Dad at bedtime story, trialing a new kind of drinking cup. And there it was. From feeding your babies milk from your aching bosom to making them an advert. To turning the most private family moments into a commercial venture. This might all be done in the name of making a living as a parent, but what do we lose in the process? And what do we teach our children?

I’ve grappled with making my children’s lives public. My Facebook page is locked down and private, and if my friends (and they are all people who I have met and care about) don’t want to see my children then they can hide me politely. They might want to hear about how my children have been delightful little prats but they might not. For safety, on my blog and Instagram, I try to keep images of my children as limited as possible.

But I need to write stuff down. You go the gym, I write. You do yoga, I write. It’s what keeps me sane, like those things keep you sane. Time is limited. I am already spread thin between three small children. I ricochet between schools, between clubs, between meals, between shops, between versions of me, to keep these children where they need to be. I want to spend more time with them. I want to spend more time with me. With their father. I see them, no longer small pudgy toddlers but long, smiling, gangly kids with attitudes as sharp as knives. Their childhood is playing out in front of me. I don’t want to be instagraming 40 times a day or hitting up brands for sponsoring opportunities. I want to hear my children. But if my heart sings, even if it’s out of tune, I will write it down because it’s what I have to do. And one thing I have learnt along this parenting journey is you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

But for me, parenting no longer feels like a separate part of my life, a new role or something to grapple with. It’s just me now. In September they will all be at school. Plus, I’ve never just written about the bubs in DiscomBUBulated.. Oh no. I’ve written about lots of different stuff —writing, relationships, health, travel, Australia, diet and education. Oh and Mr Hankey, the Christmas Poo. It might just be time to start something new.

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My candle burns at both ends

How do mothers of small children write bestselling novels and build empires? For me, working from home with a baby resulted in her spending a few hours ignoring her toys and rifling through the wastepaper bin while I retrieved passwords, paid bills, and glanced nervously at the clock.

How do mothers of small children write bestselling novels and build empires?

For me, working from home with a baby resulted in her spending a few hours ignoring her toys and rifling through the wastepaper bin while I retrieved passwords, paid bills and glanced nervously at the clock, seeing the three o’clock school run race ever nearer. I’d blow bubbles at her from my desk as I attempted to send one email in three hours. If she took a nap I’d find myself going into a The Baby Is Asleep And The House Is Silent spasm, where I couldn’t quite focus on one task, so just ate toast instead.

When the weekdays didn’t work out and I found myself hiding in the study office at weekends, it would only take the thrust of a fish finger sandwich through a gap in the door from a tiny hand for me to be overwhelmed with guilt. Nevermind, I still had Sunday morning when my brain would start to frantically finish off every thought it started during week, knowing it had run out of time and that Monday was nearly upon us.

But things are getting easier now that BUB.3 is three and at nursery and a childminder for some of the week. My 2017 New Year resolution list says everything about this fragmented new phase: ‘Write more. Read more. Sort out the sock drawer.’

I still struggle with wanting to do more. At 9pm my evening begins. Usually by 9.05pm I’m thinking about calling it a night. I do enjoy the occasional four-hour writing binge at my desk before I look up from my keyboard to see that it’s already tomorrow again. Other times I find myself perusing the Farrow & Ball paint chart, wondering which colour would help me write. If I get through that barrier, the world’s my oyster. When I’m up up late, I sometimes become momentarily over excited and think “Christ, I might as well stay up all night now.”

I know I’m not the only one. Late night text messages from friends who were bone-tired at the morning school run but who are still not giving up on the day just yet. It might be that they are trying to get ahead of tomorrow by packing school bags. They might be reading with a gin and tonic in bed. Or they might be trying to realise a dream that has been buried all day under a pile of dirty clothes, baked beans and tear-stained children.

Whenever I’m up late, maybe enjoying a glass or two of Prosecco and a sense of there being no school run tomorrow (the Prosecco having numbed the truth), the poem ‘First Fig’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay runs through my head. “My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— It gives a lovely light!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Blogger Award – thank you!

beautiful-blogger-award1Anyone who describes their blog as “A place to procrastinate when you should be folding washing,” is alright by me. Especially when they nominate me for an award. The lovely Laptop on the Ironing Board (formerly and cutely known as James James Morrison Morrison) nominated me for a Beautiful Blogger award. Isn’t that a pip?!

As a mother of four, sometimes Dragon Lady, crochet queen and funny family life commentator I can relate to everything Laptop says (apart from the crochet bit. I’m not crafty. Or the four kids. I’m not crazy – joke! Basically I know what it feels like to spew hot flames from your mouth (and sometimes nostrils) after a difficult day with the family).

Now, I must get the rules right:

1. Copy the Beautiful Blogger Award logo and place it in your post.
  (Tick!)

2. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
 (Thank you Laptop, your recommendation is genuinely appreciated).

3. Share seven interesting facts about yourself.

4. Nominate seven other bloggers for their own Beautiful Blogger Award, and comment on their blogs to let them know. (I might find this tricky as I am so new to blogging and haven’t had much time to *mingle*, so bear with me).

I can do ME though! Here goes:

1. I have a degree in English Literature and regularly sniff books in bookshops. And Sainsbury’s and petrol stations.

2.  I am fascinated by space. As in Outer, not Personal (No Longer Exists).

3. I’m scared of When Doves Cry by Prince. I don’t know why.

4. I really, really wish they made Twiglets like they used to, long and slightly sticky in red boxes not dissimilar to today’s Malteser boxes.

5. I have quite a high pain threshold (birth, broken bones) but I make a right old fuss if someone accidentally steps on my toes or suddenly knocks me in the face with their elbow.

6. I cried when I first saw the Grand Canyon.

7. I was probably a flamingo in a previous life due to a strange standing stance I take when I’m feeling very relaxed.

And here are my four nominations. OK it’s supposed to be seven, but I need more time to make friends. I’ll add the others soon, when I’ve been at the party longer and put myself about a bit, so to speak. I promise.

Amelie’s bookshelf – I don’t get much time to browse in real bookshops these days, so this is the next best thing. A lovely blog with a real passion for children’s books.

I made a human, now what? – I’m new to blogging and this blog was the first to make me realise that gosh, there’s loads of people just like me all over the bleedin’ world!
What Mummy Did – a blog started by a former work colleague and her friend, this is the one that gave me the push to start my own. A beautifully whimsical and honest blog which looks pretty and makes me smile.

Cristian Mihai – someone passionate about writing – a writer in fact – was one of, if not THE, first person to like one of my posts. All the way from Romania. Then I started following his blog and I love it. It’s the kick I need every day to keep writing.

Loneliness is not a long-distance runner

“Loneliness is not a broken heart. It’s a penguin in a tutu.” I don’t know why Shane Finn was in prison, but it doesn’t matter does it? I just loved what he wrote.

Mummy bloggers talk about lots of things, you name it, health, poo, fashion, life, snot, upheavals, relationships, toys, cars, school, politics, love. But prisons? Not so much, not the literal ones anyway. Which is a shame.

I’ve always been strangely drawn to prisons, or rather the idea of being locked in a cell. During adolescence I used to fantasise about living out my days in our downstairs loo. It had everything I needed (well, a loo), and I would add a little duvet, a hatch for receiving food, a video recorder (hopefully not Betamax) and a some bookshelves. What could be nicer? No parents to deal with, no exams to sit, no job to get, no boys to make you feel just awful and sad.

Obviously,  the idea is now abhorrent (apart from those days when I want to lock myself in a cupboard), and yet when I visited Fremantle Prison near Perth in Australia in 2010, I felt a warm fuzzy glow. I can’t explain it, I can’t understand it, but I was drawn to the place. We were traveling with an eight month old BUB.1 at the time so didn’t think it wise to actually to take a tour of the cells (oh how I wished we could) but after a visit to the gift shop I was aglow. So aglow, in fact, I returned to the shop and bought a book,  a compendium of “creative works from Fremantle prison” entitled Prose and Cons.

On flicking through this narrow volume my eyes had randomly snatched the opening line of a poem entitled State of the Heart:

Loneliness is not

a long-distance runner

it’s a cooling breeze

on a hot day in summer

it’s not knowing your place

when watching a plane crash

swan diving with beautiful grace

loneliness is not a broken heart

it’s a penguin in a tutu

everyday state of the art

The reason this took my breath away was because as a teenager, as well as fantasising about living in the privy, I also started to have recurring dreams about plane crashes. More specifically I would witness a plane crashing in the distance, as I stood helpless and solitary in the distance. I had that dream for years. And here I was, in Fremantle on the west coast of Australia, twenty five years later, reading Shane Finn’s poem about that very same feeling.

I don’t know why Shane Finn was in prison, but it doesn’t matter does it? I just loved what he wrote.

State of the Heart

“Loneliness is not a broken heart. It’s a penguin in a tutu.” I don’t know why Shane Finn was in prison, but it doesn’t matter does it? I just loved what he wrote.

Mummy bloggers talk about lots of things, you name it, health, poo, fashion, life, snot, upheavals, relationships, toys, cars, school, politics, love. But prisons? Not so much, not the literal ones anyway. Which is a shame.

I’ve always been strangely drawn to prisons, or rather the idea of being locked in a cell. During adolescence I used to fantasise about living out my days in our downstairs loo. It had everything I needed (well, a loo), and I would add a little duvet, a hatch for receiving food, a video recorder (hopefully not Betamax) and a some bookshelves. What could be nicer? No parents to deal with, no exams to sit, no job to get, no boys to make you feel just awful and sad.

Obviously,  the idea is now abhorrent (apart from those days when I want to lock myself in a cupboard), and yet when I visited Fremantle Prison near Perth in Australia in 2010, I felt a warm fuzzy glow. I can’t explain it, I can’t understand it, but I was drawn to the place. We were traveling with an eight month old BUB.1 at the time so didn’t think it wise to actually to take a tour of the cells (oh how I wished we could) but after a visit to the gift shop I was aglow. So aglow, in fact, I returned to the shop and bought a book,  a compendium of “creative works from Fremantle prison” entitled Prose and Cons.

On flicking through this narrow volume my eyes had randomly snatched the opening line of a poem entitled State of the Heart:

Loneliness is not

a long-distance runner

it’s a cooling breeze

on a hot day in summer

it’s not knowing your place

when watching a plane crash

swan diving with beautiful grace

loneliness is not a broken heart

it’s a penguin in a tutu

everyday state of the art

The reason this took my breath away was because as a teenager, as well as fantasising about living in the privy, I also started to have recurring dreams about plane crashes. More specifically I would witness a plane crashing in the distance, as I stood helpless and solitary in the distance. I had that dream for years. And here I was, in Fremantle on the west coast of Australia, twenty five years later, reading Shane Finn’s poem about that very same feeling.

I don’t know why Shane Finn was in prison, but it doesn’t matter does it? I just loved what he wrote.

Why did I start the DiscomBUBulated blog?

Life as a single woman was full of narrative. I could often been seen nodding knowingly to the lyrics of songs, and ruminating on the hows, whats and whys of every single sodding thing that happened to me. Having a baby has struck me dumb. Not a very promising preamble to a blog, is it?

Until I started the DiscomBUBulated blog back in 2012, a year after the birth of my second child, having babies had struck me a bit dumb. Not a very promising preamble to a blog, is it?  As a professional writer by trade, the most I had been able to muster were Facebook status updates indicating whether I’ve managed to cook something tasty. Or cut myself badly on a household object. Life as a single woman was full of narrative. I could often been seen nodding knowingly to the lyrics of songs, and ruminating on the hows, whats and whys of every single sodding thing that happened to me. Having a child spins the narrative way off centre and I thought a blog might help me hoist it back onto to a more sensical path, to help me work out what the hell was happening.

[pullquote]If one is endlessly trying to find the right words to describe the smell of the back of their neck or the aching loss of one’s time, can one truly be sure baby won’t topple headlong into the fireplace or grow up to become a sociopath?[/pullquote]

A blog about the discombobulation of having bubs.

On giving birth, I expected to sit back and be able to contemplate the enormity of it all, the wonder, and perhaps put it to words…but no. Perhaps it’s some sort of evolutionary survival mechanism to ensure baby thrives. If one is endlessly trying to find the right words to describe the smell of the back of their neck or the aching loss of one’s time, can one truly be sure baby won’t topple headlong into the fireplace or grow up to become a sociopath?

So discomBUBulated. A play on words. A place to write.  I might write about cutting myself on household objects (not intentionally. Things are never that bad). Or I might just write about the range of things that discombobulate me, which is far and wide, family life or the things that just make sense. Like cheese.