Snapshot #9 – Friends

The dynamics of my friendship circles have changed considerably since having children. As the first of most of our friends to have children, Husband Dearest and I often find ourselves frustrated with the situation we’ve bestowed upon ourselves. But sometimes, if we step back and look carefully at our lives, we really do have the best of both worlds.

Why I love my post-baby mummy friends

You don’t look disgusted when I rock up with vomit on my leggings. Most likely, you’re already sporting some snot and perhaps even a fleck of faeces.

You can still look me in the eye and hold a conversation when I breastfeed. You’re not weirded out that I’m not weirded out by getting my tits out in public. You may even comment on the monstrous nipples, and share stories of spraying spouses in the face with breast milk.

If I’m having a bad day, you can sense it – no words needed. This is one of the things I love about you all the most. You will make sure I have some chocolate, some space and an ear to listen, should I need it. But you don’t fuss. You get that sometimes we just need silence and a dark room but sometimes we just need to rant. And when it’s over, you forget it all. God, I love you for that.

You aren’t appalled and you don’t try to ring social services if I swear about my monsters. I can call them little shits, tell them to fuck off and make wanker signs behind their back, and most likely you’ll just outdo me with your vile language. My favourite was ** referring to her son as a ‘c**tyfaced baby’. She shall remain anonymous, just in case any readers are exceedingly offended. But if it’s any consolation, it sounds as though the behaviour displayed by said c**tyfaced baby was fairly c**tyfaced.

If I have the luxury of having a hot drink, being deep in conversation or am generally whacked, you take over the role of parenting for me. You’ll chase after Monster Major before he smacks another child, you’ll stop Monster Minor eating moss and feathers, you’ll discipline them if they behave twattily and, for this you’re heroes, you’ll change stinky nappies without a second thought. When Husband Dearest and I are around you guys, we don’t feel that overwhelming burden of parenthood. We feel like humans with kiddies, and the share and share alike approach to each other’s ragamuffins is so liberating. *

You have open door policies. Whilst I am remarkably impressed and forever in awe of the clean conditions your houses seem to be in, you don’t care whether your house is pristine before we turn up. There’s always coffee in the pot and a sympathetic (though not too pitying) smile. I don’t need to worry about bringing toys, food or even clean clothes, as I know that we’re all fully stocked mini-Mothercares. And if when life gets really bad, there’s always one of you happy to have the monsters for as long as I need to pull myself together again.

One of you always has baby wipes.

You get that suggesting to meet at a restaurant at 8pm is totally undoable. You suggest we meet at Cottonbudz on a Sunday morning, or the park at 4pm to allow the tyrants to run themselves into the ground. You have no shame in allowing our timetables to be dictated by nap times. And for that, you make life infinitely easier.

You have other halves that make Husband Dearest feel like a person and a parent at the same time. If I think motherhood can be lonely, I reckon fatherhood can be totally isolating. Mums have maternity leave, baby groups, midwife check-ups – plenty to ensure we’re ok and to give us time to establish our new selves and to try to form a kinship with others. There’s a plethora of websites, blogs, magazines and programmes, dedicated to helping us and making us feel as though we’re doing the right thing. For dads? Near enough zilch. Yet you guys have menfolk who showed Husband Dearest that it’s ok to be besotted by your offspring. It’s not totally sad to want to talk for ten minutes about your little one’s near-but-not-quite first steps. It’s ok to not really know what the fuck you’re doing, but do it anyway. And, most importantly, that, in spite of having to settle down into family life (meaning, life after 6pm ceases), you still have worth as a human being. I saw a new spark ignited in Husband Dearest when he became part of this brotherhood. So thank you.

You see me at my lowest, most disgusting, most hormonal, most angry, most emotional, most unwell state, and you still want to be my friend. Two of you have seen me as down as I’ll ever be in my life, and the next day you allowed me to carry on as if nothing happened. For that, I’ll love you forever,  you beautiful, beautiful ladies

*This sounds a bit commune-like. Please be assured, the sharing responsibilities stops at breastfeeding. I’ve never stuck my boob in someone else’s child’s mouth. That I’m aware of, anyway.

Why I love my pre-baby friends

You remember what I looked like before my thighs rubbed together, my stomach had a frontal flap, my boobs resembled used condoms and before my vagina had been sewn back together (twice). I like to think that, on some level, that memory still lives on when I’m with you guys, and that, somewhere, you still see the size 8, grey-hair free girl that didn’t wee when she sneezed.

Likewise, you remember me when I was fun. Before I had to become sensible and serious and say things like ‘Where should wee – wees go?’ and ‘Could you use your kind voice and ask again?’ You know me for my amazing ability to lick Martini off the kitchen floor and snog girls. And so when you see me nowadays, you expect no less. Which gives me the opportunity to return to my pre-baby talents of force-feeding friends shots and mixing the most potent cough-syrup and absinthe cocktails you’ve ever tasted. And, goodness me, I love doing that.

You don’t do baby things, so  when I’m around you guys I’m forced to dress up and wear make up and generally make an effort. This reminds me that I am someone other than just a Mummy of Monsters, and (despite complaining that this means I’ll actually have to shower) I quite like feeling like my old self, from time – to – time.

You aren’t so interested in talking weaning, potty-training and choice of childcare. Which forces me to brush up on on my wit and knowledge of current affairs. In turn, this allows me to survive as part of the world at large and not just part of my mummy-bubble. That’s definitely a good thing.

You don’t want to hear how little sleep I’ve had, how much toddler tantrums are getting me down or how my insides feel like they’ll fall out of my arse if I stand up too quickly. This isn’t because you’re selfish, it’s because it’s not part of your world at the moment. And that forces me to man the fuck up and get over myself. And I really, really do need to get over myself at times.

You’re really cool. So when I’m with you, I can pretend I’m cool too. We all know I’m as uncool as they come, but, for a few hours, you humour me, and I feel like the man on the Money Supermarket advert dancing to the Pussycat Dolls.

You know my love for Virgin TV karaoke, have witnessed me butcher too many bad-ass rap songs, and you still want to be my friend. Hats off to you.

You watched  Husband Dearest and myself become the people we are today. It’s been such a journey and you’ve all been a part of it at some point. You’re all in some fabulous memories (though many I’d rather forget *coughtrainstationtoiletscough* ) and that’s so lovely.

You come with me when I need to go and express milk in the toilets when we’re out. And then you hold my hair back when I return there later to chuck my guts up.

When we said we were engaged, having a baby, and then having an accident another baby, you were fine with it. Even though it was never what you guys would have done, you never said a negative word to us about our decisions.

You’ve stood the test of time and want to know me, even though I’m flaky, usually smell bad, often late and mostly pass out by 10.30.


We’re blessed with a life full of incredible friends, and not a day goes by where you aren’t part of the blessings we count.

And to J.L., that one friend who went from pre-baby to post-baby almost simultaneously with me, I love you the most. x

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Snapshot #8 – I just want to poo in peace!

Mummies have to plan their poos. We all know that. Nap time, bed time – your pooing opportunities revolve around your children’s schedules, just like everything else in your sorry existence nowadays.

Today, the need took me rather unexpectedly. I had had a morning poo. What was my digestive system thinking, sending me another, mid-afternoon? Spontaneous bowel-movement urges have no place in my timetable, thank you very much.

Having just collected Monster Minor from nursery, I had to formulate a poo plan. The gloriously child-free among you may simply think ‘just leave the toe rag downstairs, you pandering, brainless cretin.’ Oh no, my friends. Even if the little scamp stopped his adorable howling (for my benefit, because I’d left the room) for a few seconds, he’d definitely take it upon himself to pull Husband Dearest’s beloved TV on top of him, resulting in a trip to A&E. I don’t think the excuse ‘I fucking needed to take a dump’ would wash with social services.

Easy solution – I’ll take the clingy motherfudger up to the bathroom with me. The bathroom is full of things to entertain the little mite – bleach bath toys, toothbrushes, towels. He’ll be occupied whilst I squeeze one out. I propped him up so that he could cruise around the bath whilst I had the quickest shit in history.

And that was when all hell broke loose. (Pardon the pun.)

My Monster Minor is renowned for his screaming ab-dabs. And I, obviously, had committed the cardinal sin of putting him down. He didn’t just cry. He looked me in the eyes and pierced my ear drums. He made sounds that would make dying cats quieten. He screamed until he was puce. He briefly stopped to coo at Gary the Cat, who had come in to check no massacre was taking place; only to continue upon Gary’s rapid exit. His creased face made me question how I could ever be so cruel as to not allow my son on my knee whilst I defecated. I mean, surely that’s a bridge too far, tandem crapping?

Fellow parents – genuine question (answers on a postcard) – what do you do in this situation?

I JUST WANT TO POO IN PEACE!

For those who think I am a disgusting excuse for a woman, talking about my toilet habits so frankly. Just wait until you have children – poo will be the topic of approximately 1/5 of your conversation. In equal measure with sleep, the state of your lady garden post-birth and Peppa Pig. The remaining 1/5 is saved for when you’re at work, with child-free beings or answering the door to Jehovas Witnesses.

Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Snapshot #7 – Middle Class Friends

I must be coming up in the world. They say you can judge someone by the company they keep. Well, I must be well posh now.

The other day, I texted a heavily pregnant friend to see whether she needed anything getting when I headed to the supermarket. I was expecting her to ask for bread, milk, maybe yoghurts for her toddler – the usual stuff. But oh no, not when you have Middle Class Friends.

This was her response:

Green milk

Salted butter

Mozzarella 400g

Gorgonzola cheese (not essential) 250g

Parmesan 50g 

This must be the most middle class ‘just a couple of bits’ shopping list ever written! My favourite part was that the gorgonzola was non-essential – but one simply could not survive without the rest!

Needless to say, I lowered the tone by getting it all for under seven quid at Aldi. Waitrose, eat your heart out.

*Sorry to mock you JJ – your text was too funny to leave there.

EDIT: I can out-middle-class-friend this one now. At dinner a week or so ago, a friend of mine lamented his epic quandary of having to choose between his excellent, natural piano teacher and his excellent theory-based piano teacher. Unable to upkeep tuition by both, he was forced into making a decision that was truly truly, a first world problem.

Snapshot #6 – Levels of Play Centre Rage

Before I begin – I must say that I am not attempting to describe the soft play experience. This has already been done far more articulately, wittily and realistically than I could ever dream of, here: http://theunmumsymum.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/lesson-55-surviving-soft-play.html

I am hoping to convey the process that we find ourselves going through when at a soft play centre; the ladder, if you will, of what Husband Dearest and I term ‘Play Centre Rage’ (PCR).

Step 1: Criticizing the design, layout and construction of equipment.

‘Look at that drop at the bottom of the slide’, ‘Why would you have the bars so far apart?’, ‘That ledge is clearly too steep for little legs’, ‘I wouldn’t have that part out of view from this sofa that I happen to be stuck to’.

So it begins, the tensions are rising as you risk assess and conclude that this is indeed a place where your child could become injured and die. And yet you remain sitting there because you’ll be damned if you dont get your money’s worth of the £2.75 entrance fee and £1.95 cappuccino.

Step 2: Identifying the little shits children who you will later feel obliged to stamp on

As you watch your cherubs hurl themselves skip off into the ball pool, your eyes dart around, checking that no wild or socially inept children have spotted them. Most children tend to play in a very self-absorbed way when at soft play, but there will be a small minority who make it their business to zap the fun from your child’s experience and, consequently, shatter your mental image of sitting back and exploiting the free wifi whilst your child happily embarks on their three hours of physical activity, as recommended by health professionals.

Unfortunately, without fail, there will be one, or several, of these little demons, although, at this stage, it’s unlikely that they will have clocked your child. They may be pinching/pummeling/pooing on another child, which leads us on to:

Step 3: Furiously searching around to ascertain whose spawn the ferals are.

You will then attempt to burn them to the ground with your disapproving stare, whilst muttering expletives in your head.

Step 4: Marvelling at how well adjusted and well behaved your child is.

I find this is particurlarly pertinent when with Husband Dearest. Upon seeing the other children barging past yours, shoving to go down the bouncy slide first, lobbing balls at each other, you sit back smugly admiring that your child is being entertained by running into a padded wall repeatedly. Even if they do look pretty special.

OR

Step 4: Cursing your twat of a child for being in one of those moods today.

They’re either clinging at your legs, whining at that pitch that ignites the instinctive need to punch them speak in a firm voice, or they’re howling in the most unreachable part of the equipment – meaning you have to kick off your shoes, revealing your unmatching, day-old socks, hoick your leggings up and wade in to the war zone to rescue the little fuck.

Step 5: Loudly reading the rules of play within ear shot of offending children’s parents.

Whether they’re a 6 year old trying to squeeze into the jumperoo in the ‘Baby Zone’, or an ‘eaten too many Organix gingerbread men’ larger child sat blocking the bottom of the slide, your blood begins to heat from here. Knowing you can’t legitimately manhandle another parent’s child, you passive-aggressively gently try to encourage pig-headed parents to make the correct parenting choices by stage-whispering ‘Oh look it’s under twos only in this area’, or ‘Oh dear, those poor kiddies can’t slide down’ to your play centre accomplice. Of course, it falls on deaf ears and you fail in your encouragement of them doing the right thing. Body temperature further rises and the red mist begins to gather.

Step 6: No more bullshit, you need to step in.

Ever so slightly enraged, you realise you need to go and give this little shit a piece of your mind. By the time you reach your child and the perpetrator, you may have calmed down a little, and OTT ‘Are you ok?’, ‘I saw what happened, what a nasty boy’, ‘We know that you don’t behave like that, that’s not nice’ kind of comments may suffice, whilst shooting death stares at the mindless thug. Or you may feel as though the unsociable sadist needs a talking to, and proceed to lecture him/her in your well practised firm but fair tone, wishing you could drag them over to their parents by their ear.

Step 7: They touch your child… WHAT THE FUCK.

The red mist descends. Your blood reaches volcanic temperatures. You may even shake a little. You storm into the snot covered soft play*, giving no child your mercy. Shoving past three year olds, you finally reach your weeping darling. Using all the restraint you have, you spit, in a voice just below a shout, ‘I saw that. You do NOT hit/bite/kick/push other children. That is very very unkind of you. You have hurt my little boy. Say sorry.’ No doubt they won’t. And you will march back to your chair, no more satisfied than when you entered the warzone.

*Glaring and theatrically tutting at the child’s parents, forcefully repeating ‘Did you see what that child just did?’ to your play date buddy.

Step 8: They do it again. You want blood.

Seeing no way other than committing a crime, you realise the only way is out. You grab your screaming child, shove their shoes on, and leave, bitter that you never got to read the whole of your facebook feed, finish your brew or have an adult conversation. You hiss words such as ‘ridiculous, irresponsible, terrible,’ in the direction of the neglectful, oblivious parents and bundle your tearful mess into the car, driving off far too aggresively. You swear never to visit that layer of hell again.

Until next week.