A Different Sort of Mothers Day 🥀

A Different Sort of Mothers Day 🥀

So it’s almost been a full week since we’ve been in social ‘lockdown’ and we are probably all a few pounds heavier and have a few brain cells fewer for it. I’ve exhausted myself, probably everyone else in the household, with particular attention to my poor debit card.

The hardest thing so far has not been being all couped up together, but the general change of routine. Not being able to visit my own mum, and not have the freedom to do the things we usually do in the day is devastating. It’s mad to wake up everyday and think that I’m not able to set foot into even the local Tesco to get a pint of milk, and have to stay away from people at all costs. Even my own family. The worst part is, we have no idea for how long.

The cherry on the cake is that it’s Mother’s Day today. If I could just postpone it to another time maybe six months down the line where we’re not living under house arrest then all would be fine… But I have no control over national holidays, nor am I American. In 26 years, this will be the first Mother’s Day where I will not see my mum, and if I’m honest it completely sucks. For me and the hundreds and thousands of other people that don’t want to take any chances.

It would be a lie if I said that today isn’t a reminder that I feel like a failure. I know that I am obviously doing what’s best for all of us in the long run by keeping us away from normal life and the ‘outside world’, but a 2 year old doesn’t understand that. I cannot reason with a toddler, the answers aren’t simple enough for her to comprehend. She knows we’re not going out as much or making our regular trips and I can see she is clearly frustrated. The tantrums are becoming more frequent and explosive, and I can only hope that we all get used to this way of living.

I was looking forward to spending my second trimester doing lots of things with my daughter, before the exhausting bit of pregnancy took hold. I guess now I can look forward to spending all of that under one roof with the space we live in getting smaller as I progressively swell like a huge balloon. Oh well.

This whole thing is also making it pretty difficult to prepare for a new baby. I’m constantly worrying about what might happen, or if my baby will be okay. With this being my second pregnancy, naturally I have not paid as much attention to the actual pregnancy as I did with my first. That, I have learnt is an unspoken given. With this thrown into the mix, it could be easy to completely forget that we have another one on the way. That is a sad thought. The world is a scary place right now and I have so many questions. How the HELL am I supposed to prepare for a baby when it feels like I’m stuck in a recurring nightmare…

So here I am on the evening of Mother’s Day. Somehow I am exhausted, my hands look like E.T- if he was sunburnt and I am crippled with antenatal angst and anxiety. It would be a lie to say that things aren’t 50 shades of crap right now, but I’m sure that lockdown will teach us a few things and help us to appreciate our immediate family a little more. At least I hope.

Selfishness: the pandemic that’s swept the world

Selfishness: the pandemic that’s swept the world

How your reaction to Covid-19 and your shopping behaviour says something about you as a person

When the Coronavirus became talked about in the Media, I remember the first thing people were saying was, “it’s in China, don’t worry”. Whilst at that point, the disease was limited to the far East, I struggled to understand some people’s lack of compassion. For some, the numbers of cases/deaths were nothing more than statistics in the paper, totally forgetting that this was many people’s reality.

In times like these, I really believe that people’s true colours begin to reveal themselves- it is easy to see the true nature of a person in these sort of situations. I get that we all have a base survivalist instinct, but when did that morph into selfishness and a complete lack of empathy for others?

Its only the old and the sick who are worst affected

This unfortunately has become a common phrase amongst many on various social media platforms. I honestly wish that I was making this all up for dramatic effect, but sadly I have seen this ‘saying’ used complete with the cherry on the top- “only” the old… it kind of reminds me of the phrase Stalin used when he explained that ‘only’ 5 million Russians died in the war…(hint: Stalin wasn’t a great guy).

Since when have we started to reduce the MANY people with underlying health conditions and the elderly to nothing more than a casualty waiting to happen. Everyone knows at least 3 or more people with basic health conditions. I could probably name at least ten. Alot of people, good and bad have health conditions- so we just leave them to it??!! Come on guys.

Ontop of that, the most of us either still have or have had grandparents in our lives- since when were the elderly ‘destined’ to go in this way. And guess what, believe it or not all of us will some day BECOME elderly….whaaaat. sorry to drop that bomb shell on you all, but how would you feel if no one cared about your well-being just because you were ‘old’. I hate to drop another one on you, but if you don’t care about the elderly then you are a bad person.

I’m going to stockpile everything I can in the supermarket.

Yep. We all know a few and have seen some self righteous selfies glorifying their exploits. In this outbreak, doing something like that will earn you the same status as a trophy hunter, I’m afraid. If you’re going to make a fortress of toilet paper, don’t take a selfie of it. Better yet, give some of it to people around you who can’t afford to stockpile food and are perhaps less able to clash around the supermarket and carelessly take everything off the shelves.

Stockpiling is not only selfish, it incites panic, and causes more people who otherwise wouldn’t have done so to… you guessed it, stockpile. When I went to the local supermarket, everything with any sort of anti bacterial property had been ‘erased’ from the shelves as if it had never even existed. Toilet paper, Baby formula, nappies, tinned goods, cleaning products, pasta… GONE. All that was left were the boxes which were in a huge disarray on the shelf. It looked as if someone had let a bunch of rhinos go to town in a store lock-in.

What made it worse, is most of the people I saw attacking the shelves were not rhinos, at risk groups or the elderly. They were fit and healthy looking young to middle age women. If this had been allowed to happen in wartime Britain, thousands would have starved to death. Those same people who adhered to the rations system in the ’40s’ are the same people now that we have to look after. Don’t be a hoarder.

I’m ill but I’m going to go out and go about my daily business as usual

We’ve all done it. But having the sniffles is a world away from spreading your flu-like symptoms everywhere. Until now, we had forgotten that people die at that hands of flu. It is no joke. I have heard stories of people walking into their GP after having travelled to at-risk areas, people not washing their hands, people ignoring self isolation. It’s a shame to say that some of us are so eager to ‘get what we can’ that we are happy to infect anyone an everyone we come into contact with, however vulnerable. Don’t. Be. That. Person.

If you’re reading this, maybe think about how some of your actions influence others. You going to work sick could result in someone getting seriously ill. You stockpiling could lead to a new mum panicking that she can’t feed her baby because there is no formula left. Just be a decent person and think about others around you too.

Hey you…

Hey you…

Hey you, so it’s been a while. No, this isn’t Joe Goldberg from you. It’s me.

It’s literally been two months of me putting my fingers to the keyboard before shamefully pressing delete, over and over. It would be justifiable to say that it has been nail-bitingly hard to not take to WordPress when times have been difficult. It has all been for a good reason, however.

… I am now 14 weeks pregnant and am starting to feel the heavy cloud that is the first trimester slowly lift away. It would be generous to say that I feel ‘great’; I am certainly not glowing. My skin is pasty and sallow- I look like I’ve never seen a glass of water in my life.

I was lucky not to get crippling sickness- I have felt sick but it hasn’t been everyday and there is certainly no bones about me not being able to keep down food. I have also ruled myself out of normal life for the past few weeks because of general weakness and heart palpitations caused by ‘inappropriate’ Tachycardia. Not rare but equally not nice.

What has really shackled me for the last few months has been what can only be described as a constant ‘black cloud’ hanging over me, as well as the persistent droning of the next anxiety attack. After having children, it is so easy to forget how vulnerable and anxious you can feel in the first weeks of pregnancy. I became a sort of ‘google recluse’, relying on Google to reassure all of my worries- big and small.

The one big worry that plays on the minds the most of those expecting is the fear of miscarriage. For me, the fear quickly became irrational. I found myself going on websites that promised you reliable ‘miscarriage risk statistics’ based on your ‘risk factors’. You would enter your gestation, age, height etc and you would be ‘2%’ better off than the day before.

The big problem with this is that it’s not at all based on reality. Sadly women of all ages experience miscarriage regardless of any number that is put up onto a website from 2005. I had read so many thread on different parenting forums that seemed to stick miscarriage on the end as a consequence of everything: eating too much- miscarriage (yup, you heard it), exercise- miscarriage, eating deli meat- you guess. People claimed to have miscarried from sex and some of the stories We’re undeniably heartbreaking.

After getting sick of Google getting infecting my brain, my partner banned me from looking things up online. I was free. Don’t get me wrong, I was still teaming with anxieties but it sure took the edge off of it. I forgot about it and started worrying about eating too much cheese and overstimulating my toddler before bedtime rather than things that were out of my control.

I can’t speak for the future, but for now I have been so lucky that my scan revealed nothing but a healthy baby. For so many women though, this is not always the case and they really are in my heart. It’s painful to realise but the bottom line is that things that can go wrong in the first trimester are 99% out of our control, and it gives us an illusion of control if we try to attach causes to things like miscarriage; “you shouldn’t have gone to that body pump class”. Statistically though, most MCs are caused by chromosomal problems- something that is isn’t within the simplistic boundaries of ‘risk factors’. In trying to explain this to an extremely anxious me at 8 weeks, my midwife told me that building a baby is like trying to build a perfect car- not so easy.

I’m sure every person who is TTC, pregnant and indeed a parent can relate to this vulnerability. But it makes it all the better when you get to the other side, which most of us will.

Stay at Home Bums: “but what do you do all day?”

Stay at Home Bums: “but what do you do all day?”

You’ve put your career on hold for a 24/7 parenting haul, but the full-timers just don’t get it. Instead of understanding you get judgement and opinions stuck to you: “but what do you do all day?”, “It’s good some can afford to stay at home with their children”. Yes Karen, thanks for your unwanted opinion.

It’s fair to say we all have an opinion on something, and it would be even more accurate to say that mums are some of the best ‘judgers’ judges. I’m guilty of it- I’ll put my hands up to that, but I recognise that everyone’s situations are different.Since using ‘Mum’ tinder, I’ve realised just how much your occupation can draw battlelines between you and other mums. Sometimes there’s resentment, anger, jealousy, disgust and also admiration, but always judgement.

Here are some common judgements about stay at home mums, and how you can verbally slay these bitter mother fudgers.

1.”So you’re a housewife”

A wonderful woman said this to me recently. The vision of me with rollers in my hair, wearing a cutesy little apron and treating the day effectively as one big preparation for my partner coming home made me reel. She looked at me like some dusty old artefact from the 1950s. No. My role is to look after my children, not the house. Let’s be clear, if my children weren’t here I’d be in work. Housework isn’t my job, running after my children is.

The slay: agree and tell her you’re a kept woman. Your husband pays for spa days every week and for you to get your hair and nails done. Watch her face screw up in jealousy.

2.”I’ve worked all my life”

Yes Karen, you were born working. That’s right, I sit on my bum all day watching Dickinson’s Real Deal drinking Pina coladas. I don’t at all run about after my daughter all day wearing sportswear and drinking the strongest and most disgusting instant coffee I can find. Doing the childcare yourself is working. Some people get paid to do it but instead you do it for free.

The slay: Tell her if she was better at her job she wouldn’t have to work all her life. Only joking. Or am I…

3.” It’s good you can afford to be a stay at home mum”

Yeah, because paying approximately £1400 a month on childcare is an affordable option for most: not. I cried when I realised the price of childcare, and for alot of people the cost of it wipes out what they’d be earning. So whats the point? Working has become a luxury for alot of mums.

The slay: go with it and tell her how you won’t have to ever work because you inherited a small fortune. Even though it’s a bald-faced lie.

4. “Don’t you have a relative who can look after you child ?”

Okay, firstly: it’s none of their business. Secondly, not everyone has that luxury. As well as the divide between working mums and those who don’t, there seems to be a big divide between those who have relatives who can do the childcare for free, and those who don’t. It seems unfair and shouldn’t be taken for granted. But that’s life… And luck.

The slay: just tell them that everyone in your entire family is willing to drop their careers at the drop of a hat to do your childcare. Again, a lie but it will infuriate them knowing that you’ve chosen this path for yourself and your child.

The bottom line:

People will always have an opinion- tale as old as time. I’ve always been brought up to believe that not spending enough time with your child is worse than too much. When I worked in schools, the most damaged kids I met were those whose parents were hardly there for them. Enough said.

D is for Depression

D is for Depression

We all go through times in our lives when depression pitches up at our doorstep. It can be nowhere in sight for a while and then suddenly it’s back like a crappy villain from a mid 20th century movie. But depression doesn’t always allow you the cliche happy ending.

I am no stranger to depression. There have been times in my life that it has completely and utterly taken over. Here, I’m talking about the unsexy kind of depression. The one that isn’t wearing Raybans and having a cigarette out of a loft window in Paris. This depression is a parasite, and it lives in your head.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been left alone by it completely, in the first year of my daughter being born- a luxury that I didn’t think I could afford.

But it eventually caught up with me. It started as a niggling feeling- like an itch. Why was I so damn irritable? I wanted to work. So I became a Gmail warrior; a princess of pro-activity, productivity and podcasts. But then the goalposts would change, the itch became unscratchable and I longed for something different.

The problem obviously was never my daughter. I loved my time with her. Sure, I had realised that doing full-time childcare was definitely no walk in the park. But what did I want? I just didn’t know- that was the problem. I thought activities would help, but the baby groups were lonely places. Most of the people there seemed to be born friends. I loved meeting up with friends- but what about the long days of headaches and nothingness?

The worst thing that I did was not only to compare myself to other people- but to their social media posts. I knew this was ridiculous and not an accurate depiction of ANYONE’S lives… But I did it anyway. I bought into it all- why did I always lose my patience so quickly? Why couldn’t I have a proper job and be a perfect mother? Why wasn’t I a size 8 yet? Why couldn’t I do yoga in the mornings and eat nothing but chia seeds?

I felt lost- yes. But worst of all, I had been in denial for months. So worried about being branded with a scarlet ‘B’ for bad mum, I didn’t want to admit it even to myself. I was so taken up with ‘defying’ my old foe that I was inadvertently letting it win. It is only now that I am prepared to admit it to myself that things can get better. That’s the great thing- things can now only get better. Sure, I might have bad days but at least I’m prepared to acknowledge it that it isn’t all hunky dory.

I hope this post can inspire others to take the time to think about their feelings; there is nothing wrong with being depressed. Using it as a crutch to lean upon and utilising it as an excuse for everything is. Feelings are never criminal.

The Holiday From: [insert here]

The Holiday From: [insert here]

I love a good holiday, who doesn’t. I love that infectious summer feeling that reverberates through me before we head off. I love ordering the clothes- sassy styles that don’t at all suit my body shape. I love that old worn out summer playlist that- yeah, you get it my stick. It’s pretty easy to enjoy a holiday, but when that plus one is your angry toddler you have to work for your fun.

Having a child has helped me appreciate The Staycation. Going far is a faff so staying somewhere where a Tesco is somewhere in the middle distance is very attractive. Plus, England is great.

So here we are in Suffolk. The weather is great- not too hot. Spirits are high, and the seaside is on our doorstep (10 minute walk). But going away with a toddler is hard. Last year we took a cute 3 month old away with us, now we have a temperamental toddler who just wants to run away from us all the time.

Here’s a few things I’ve learnt about going away with a toddler:

1. DO NOT forego nap time… But don’t be a rigid robot either

No one likes a routine-reveller on holiday. But sacrificing your toddler’s nap time could mean hours of screaming. Your choice.

2. Cut your toddler some slack.

Taking stuff off of your toddler all day can mean coming home with a headache. If you don’t want your ears to ring at the end of the day: if it’s not going to hurt them then it’s probably fine. Here is a picture of my toddler’s idea of fun ie throwing stones down the drains outside:

3. Expect to be a pillar of sand

If your toddler decides they enjoy the whole beach experience then be prepared to bring half of the seaside back with you. For me, this meant picking sand out of my hair for days… And days. The thick layer of sand on my face has acted as a natural exfoliant which is an added bonus. Go me.

4. You will soak up some rays but not in the way you thought

Fear not- you shall have that golden tan that you wanted. But you won’t be sunbathing. You will be chasing after your child on the beach making sure they don’t ruin some other child’s sandcastle masterpiece. A sun tent always helps.

5. Those silly windmills they always sell on the beachfront will become your new BFF

Remember those windmills that you forgot about? Yes. Those will become your best friend. Give one to your toddler and you’re guarunteed at least 5 minutes of mess-free entertainment.

FINALLY: enjoy your bloody holiday.

For god’s sake, enjoy your holiday. It’s all too easy to become a holiday buzzkill when you have a toddler. But don’t do it. I have learnt to leave my quibbles after the first G&T.

Ps. I’ve had a great time ☀️

Regrets.

Regrets.

It’s almost been 5 months since I decided to throw a curve ball at my career and end my journey as as trainee Teacher.

As I go about decluttering my daughter’s room I find a bag with all my teaching gear: numerous teaching folders, a pencil case (of course), more ringbinders and a trusty lanyard. It would be easy to look back in a rose-tinted fondness about what could have been but I am pleased to be looking at this paraphernalia with a sigh of relief.

Yes, I love teaching and still teach on the weekends, but I’m NOT cut out for a career in it- at least not right now. I admire other teachers so much but for me I just felt dread at the prospect of pursuing it any further. The thought of having 31 children in my life and my daughter being the ’31st’ scared me, and I’m afraid to say that I just didn’t have the passion or the whim there to justify the career choice.

It’s been bloody difficult to figure out who I am since having my daughter, and quitting the course plunged me into a whirlwind of uncertainty- but a necessary one. At first I thought I could be a stay at home mum- I still am technically. I imagined some beautiful existence, with my daughter and I running around in matching dresses; but it was not so. Yes, it’s been amazing spending time with her and watching her develop into a little person. I’m so glad I’m here for her like that. But it hasn’t been all roses and sonnets.

When I finally plucked up the courage to start going to toddler groups, I realised something was missing. By that, I don’t mean my daughter wasn’t enough because she’s perfect. I meant something was missing from me. I realised I needed something to stop myself from going off of my rocker.

It was that which that led me to start writing, and now here I am… Still writing. I would be lying if I said that my progress hasn’t been slow and sludge-like. It would also be untrue if I were to tell you that my inbox hasn’t blown up with torrents upon torrents of rejection emails: “we regret to inform you…blah blah”. Yeah, I’ve heard it all now. It’s not easy starting back at square one; it’s also not easy sucking it up everyday in a job that you don’t enjoy anymore.

Meanie Mummy

Meanie Mummy

You’re mean, nasty and a fur coat short of Cruella Devil. But you’re not out to steal anyone’s puppies. You’re a Mum who’s running out of patience.

We all go through numerous, countless times in our lives where we lose our temper. It could be a small snap remark; your colleague is doing your head in and it’s only 9.03 am. You haven’t had your morning coffee and you’re tripping HARD. It could also be a long term build up of bitter, bitter frustration that amounts to a spectacular outburst to the person at the recieving end. Usually someone close to you. I’m pretty sure everyone can relate to that. But when you’re a mum, all of that gets forgotten. Suddenly everyone is a spectator of your sport while you are prowling up and down in your enclosure. The ‘Angry Mum Museum’ is indeed open for all to see.

Before I get a torrent of crappy comments, I’d like to distinguish between letting off some steam verbally (appropriately, of course) and full on child abuse- hitting your child etc. This seems like a HUGE bridge to gap but people can be very quick to stick labels on things where they needn’t be. There have been numerous times at baby groups, shopping malls etc where I’ve seen Mothers losing their tempers with their children and you can actually cut the silence with a pair of scissors as people all around take a ‘moral’ high ground. I recently heard a Mum in an Asda car park screaming her head off at one of her children in the car. I judged immediately- how inappropriate, how could she?! But then I thought about bringing a Ford Galaxy full of kids to the supermarket on my own and I wanted to sit in the corner and cry. You’d sooner catch me hiding in the store cafe. Anyway, the point I was trying to make was on the ‘Heads’ side of things was an angry mum unnecessary losing her **** with her kids, and the ‘Tails’ of the situation was a poor woman with no control over at least six children in a car.

I have spent 25 years getting to know myself, and I know more than anything else that I have a fast fuse. I’m hot-headed- in a ‘British’ way and suffer with chronic impatience. Managing a class and dealing with kids in school was a whole different kettle of fish- you’d put your professional face on and keep your opinions to yourself. When it’s your own toddler who you’re with for the better part of 24/7 it’s tricky. Simply because I’m being myself the whole time.

I feel a huge sense of guilt when I feel like I’m losing my patience. It is almost definitely never my daughter’s fault, but she sure knows how to push my buttons. What no literature, only family members can tell you is that it would be weird and unnatural not to feel frustrated with your child at times. That’s because people are so quick to parent shame as soon as that smile turns upside down that it’s almost become a taboo.

On one of my more hormonal days I read a blog from a ‘Mom’ in America. She was honest enough to say that she was not naturally maternal and was never a ‘kid’ person until she had her own. She said that she had to work on her patience after the kids almost had her in tears at bedtime. This was probably the first honest blog piece I’d seen about dealing with ‘anger’.

We are all people with different personalities and undesirable traits. When we have children we don’t magically transform into Mother Theresa. The journey to patience is a long, dusty road for most of us and some of us will never get there. But at least we tried.

Memoirs of A Slug

Memoirs of A Slug

I’ve shared my fitness story quite a few times on my blog so I shall not bore you for another second with testimony. But needless to say I have spent weeks and months figuring out how to get myself back in shape since having Arielle.

Every mum as old as time will tell you and it’s pitifully obvious that you can’t just push out a baby and be fit as a fiddle the next day. Unless you’re Kate Middleton, or Kylie Jenner, apparently. Your body has been DESTROYED by an imposter who has eaten up all your nutrients. You are so anaemic that Edward Cullen is proud. Your body is also Area 51. Unidentifiable, but not in the long term.

To try and ‘tackle’ the ‘problem’ I first went to the gym and am now doing various workouts from home. slowly but surely, the weight started to drop off pound by stubborn pound. I never ‘bounced back’ and I’m still the biggest I’ve ever been if I’m honest. Ontop of my regular workouts, I’ve been doing daily press ups and sit ups. I even recovered the old Zumba workouts I used to do on the Wii fit. Thank you, YouTube.

I thought all was well and assumed that because I’d been following reputable fitness channels with reputable workouts that my body was piecing together after delivery day. The jigsaw was not complete; I started to suffer with lower back pain that was sometimes nothing more than a minor nuisance but also worthy of time out at others.

One physio session and 4 NHS sheets of exercises later, I have been told that I am effectively back at square one. Yes I have lost some weight but despite all the strength training I’d been doing, my back had somehow managed to slip away into the ether and escaped conditioning. In basic terms, I had NO BACK MUSCLES. I had somehow managed to neglect them for months. I was a whelk with strong arms and legs.

I suppose the point I’m now trying to make is to not to trust these workouts/fitness channels/influencers too readily. I had followed them religiously and thought that I had been exercising my back muscles significantly. I knew how important it is to work on your back after pregnancy but failed to heed my own advice.

The workouts I was doing kept banging on about the importance of not only working your “show” muscles but also the ones we can’t see ( ie your back) but how did I go from “show” muscles to “no” muscles?!

I now have an arson of more NHS print exercises for me to do, but that is nothing compared the embarrassment that I felt at the appointment when I was told I might as well be an invertabrate.

Here’s to three weeks of printouts…

Fighting A [Cabin] Fever

Fighting A [Cabin] Fever

It is a painfully hot Thursday night, and damn- no, daymnnnnnnn it really feels like a Thursday. I’m not a huge Attenborough fan but I could sure make a side appearance as a whale; I am pasty as hell, maybe slightly overweight and flapping about. I am basically far from anything Cosmopolitan says I should look like right now. The only ‘dew’ I’m emitting is over ‘dew’ sleep.

I suddenly wake up to the fact that it is mid July- not March like I thought. This wouldn’t matter if the baby groups I’d been frequenting weren’t about to shutdown for the summer. I’m not taking this well. I know I slagged these groups off a few weeks back but now I rely on them – to stay sane. Sort of like a Love Island cliche. I needed them- what would I do now? Summer felt like a huge black hole waiting to eat up all my energy in a wish-wash of toys and tantrums and turmoil all in a 2 bedroom flat.

I thought about the park. The trusty park that’s been there since my own childhood. Could I go there five days a week? The vision of me wearing a dress made of curtains put an end to that delusion. I could pay a tenner for 40 minutes of a rip-off Mr Tumble? Sorry Bargain Tumble, it’s a no from me. I can’t camp out I’m cafes; anyone who knows anything about small children would know that would be a disaster.

I imagined myself at the end of the summer holidays looking like I’d just come out of the washing machine. Not particularly clean- just a tangled mess. My toddler would’ve used our flat as a massive scratch pad and I would wish for the ground to swallow me whole. Luckily for me, an app saved my life. Summer is sorted (or nearly). Here’s hoping it’s a fun-filled flat-free summer.