Snapshot #18 – 5 things I’d like for Mothers’ Day

This Sunday, whilst the the hand print cards and bunches of daffodils are lovely, my longings are a little more complex.

  1. The ability to control time: I want time for Mothers’ Day. I want time to last longer when it’s that wonderful part of the day after the children are in bed but before it’s the guilty ‘I should turn off Game of Thrones and go to sleep’ time. I want the time I get in a hot shower to be able to go on forever, without actually losing any of my day (or being ransacked by miniature whirlwinds). I’d like to wake up and feel like I’ve slept for days rather than lie awake twitching because through the night I’ve sung one too many renditions of Twinkle Twinkle to the ever-waking toddler. I want the time when my kids watch Peppa Pig in silence  play in their blissful innocence to carry on for hours. And the times that cause my ‘FFS’ mutter to turn into a direct hiss, to be over in a matter of seconds. I’d like time to slow right down when the Monsters have their arms wrapped around my neck and I can feel the entire weight of their body totally relaxed in my arms. I want time to slow right down so I can savour the lovely babblings of Monster Minor and the carefree singing of Monster Major. And I want it to hurry the fuck up when one of the little swines is faceplanting the floor and screaming their tits off because their banana wasn’t quite crescent shaped enough.
  2. The ability to eat anything I please without any repercussions: I want a fat-fuck-off pass. I want to eat anything I choose, because it looks good, because I’m curious about it, because I can. I want to eat white bread, family-sized bars and grab bags. Oh and I want to drink. Prosecco after prosecco, after red wine after red wine. Big, fat, boozy, oozy, creamy, artery-clogging cocktails. I want bar snacks and after dinner mints and dirty burgers on the way home. I want to start my day with several smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels… but proper chewy Jewish bagels. I’ll accompany that with a couple of Bucks Fizzes (though, I’m not too arsed about the orange juice in them). Then I want brunch of Nutella on brioche. And the Nutella will be spread so thickly that my mouth will be totally stuck together. I’ll wash that down with a nice Espresso Martini made with double cream. Lunch would be a fat, greasy, takeaway pizza and I’d actually eat the crusts rather than cast them aside claiming ‘it saves 200 calories’. And I’d dip them in a cheapo nasty pot of garlic mayo, mmm mmm. Of course, there’d have to be a side of garlic bread with cheese. I’d continue to snack through the afternoon on chips and dips. Ooooh and nachos. With shitloads of guac and sour cream. And salted cashews and pistachios. And I’d have some full fat coke and some fizzy vimto. Probably chuck some chocolate into the mix around now – Belgian chocolates and Ferrero Rochers, whole chocolate oranges and several Kinder Buenos. I’d eat a dinner of my Grandmother’s curries – a huge range of the traditional vegetarian ones. But the ones laden with paneer, or dumplings or swirled with cream. I’d have thick, stodgy breads to scoop them up and heaps of carby rice. I’d eat all the pakoras, samosas, bhajis and tikkas and I’d eat everyone else’s portion too. I’d follow that with some hazelnut gelato with some kind of creamy chocolatey liquer poured over it. And do you know what? I wouldn’t feel sick or too full. Nausea isn’t part of the deal. And  I’d wake up the next day with a size 8 figure and the health of a… of a super healthy person. And I wouldn’t have the shits or ring sting the next morning either.
  3. My boobs to shift about 3 inches north
  4. Someone to teach my children how to be upstanding members of society: Namely, that poo goes in the toilet, lying down when you don’t like something is frowned upon in the workplace, and that sleep and bed is your best friend. This Mary Poppins character would teach them wit and cutting sarcasm, the knack of small talk and the art of intelligent and insightful conversation, and that you don’t order spaghetti on a first date. By the end of it, my boys would be able to do put up shelves that are straight, cook risotto without crunchy rice and be able to sense when Mummy is about to lose her shit and choose to shut the fuck up. If all this could be done whilst Mummy and Daddy are in bed having a Sacha Baron Cohen marathon, that’d be great.
  5. World Peace

The list is not exhaustive, nor is it unreachable. But just in case you can’t organise those things in 6 days, Husband Dearest, here’s some other ideas:

 

dress
Elsie’s Attic dress
jumper 2.png
Selfish Mother jumper

 

print
Notonthehighstreet print

http://healinghandsyorkshire.co.uk/wordpress/massage/ – the Full Body Massage please

Breakfast in bed, preceded by big cuddles, then a super long shower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snapshot #17 – What my toddler says vs What my toddler means

Over half term, Monster Major taught me many things. He taught me that he was capable of sweetly waving Husband Dearest off to work, then turning round and being suddenly possessed by the spirit of the Tasmanian Devil. He taught me that it’s a great insult to him to be asked to return the Happy Meal balloon to the memorial he just stole it from (honestly, I’ll share the story one time). He taught me that the two-syllable word ‘Mummy’ can be lengthened to a sound lasting around 9 seconds. He taught me the beginnings of a mystical toddler language – a language where conventional words and meanings aren’t consistent with our publicly accepted language maxims. I will share my findings with you.

Toddler speak: Muuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy

Definition: I want you to stop what you are doing right now and look at me unless you are pouring me some milk and then if you stop doing that I will cry but otherwise you must give me your complete and undivided attention RIGHT NOW. But not before I’ve finished saying “Muuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy” as I will then take that as you interrupting me and shout “I was just speaking to you!”

Toddler speak: But, but, but, but, but, but…

Definition: I really disagree with what you just asked/told me but I have no reason for it, other than just being an awkward bugger.

Toddler speak: Yes

Definition: Usually no

Toddler speak: Porridge (in response to the breakfast question)

Definition: Cheerios

Toddler speak: Ham (in response to the sandwich question)

Definition: Cheese with the vertical crusts cut off, not on a round plate, with a purple knife, but not the actual purple knife, the knife that is pink but I am going to insist it be called purple. Oh, without the cheese.

Toddler speak: I want to play with that…

Definition: You can’t touch that

Toddler speak: … and that

Definition: Just don’t touch anything

Toddler speak: I want to put my own shoes on

Definition: I want to put my own shoes on and ask you whether they’re on the right feet but do nothing when you say they’re not. Also, continue to ask ‘Is this the left one?’and refuse your offers of help. I will take them off if I decide they’re on the wrong feet then continue to try to force them on the same feet. I will scream if you try to interfere. Then you must emphatically applaud my efforts before agreeing that I can ‘just wear the sodding wellies instead’.

Toddler speak: He hurt me!

Definition: He looked at me.

Toddler speak: I want to play hide and seek

Definition: I’m going to hide behind the chair every time, and every time you must feign looking for me everywhere but behind the chair even though I’m laughing and mostly sticking out from behind the chair. Your surprise at finding me must be as genuine the tenth time as it was the first time.

Toddler speak: I can do it myself

Definition: I can’t do it myself but I’m going to smile at you so earnestly that you’re forced to congratulate me as though I can.

Toddler speak: I can do it myself

Definition: I’m about to take a dump on the floor.

Toddler speak: I can do it myself

Definition: Do it for me NOW.

Toddler speak: Shall we share?

Definition: This one is for me. And this one. This one too. This is mine. This is mine. I’ll have this one. Oh look, aaaalllll gone!

Toddler speak: Na night

Definition: See you in 4 and a half minutes when you return because I’m singing far too loudly.

As you can see, this language is a tough one to master. And just as you get used to the rules and norms, it evolves again and the pink (but purple) knife is again purple, and he actually wants a pink knife, no, the pink knife that is really blue. It is in the Toddler Dictionary that you will never get the true meaning of what they say on your first attempt. My only advice is, if in doubt, go for the Cheerios.

Snapshot #16 – What My Monsters Should Know

I debated for a while whether I should make these thoughts public; I thought, so long as Husband Dearest and I know these things, what do other people have to do with it? However, given that, increasingly, this blog is a portal into the Monster world, it’s only fair to give a rounded  view of it – and this post is how I feel about my Monsters, warts aside.

Monster Major – What I want you to know:

You are one of the sweetest, gentlest souls we’ll ever have the pleasure of knowing. They used up all their compassionate dust when they made you.  It worries me how vulnerable this will make you, but at the same time, I bask in your innate benevolence whenever I see you with a baby, an animal, someone feeling sad, but most often, when you think no one is watching. You have such a gentle touch, and every move is so thought out. Your careful nature transpires in everything you do, and I could sit for an eternity watching you arrange something ‘just so’. Traditional hitting out toddler tantrums are such a rarity for you, and when they do happen, the fear and disappointment in your eyes breaks my heart. Your tender disposition may set you on the back foot in the more ferocious aspects of life, but please never change that; you will be a lover in a sea of fighters.

Sometimes I wish I could toughen you up. But I don’t really mean it. It can get frustrating to see you in tears for the fifth time, because a friend has touched your arm. But you know what you do and don’t like, and that’s a good thing. Sometimes I wish you weren’t so emotional. But then I see the empathy this supplies you with, and my heart wants to burst with love for you. When I see you weeping because things haven’t turned out the way you imagined, in your painstakingly rigorous toddler plans, I want to weep too, because I get it. You’re me, twenty-odd years ago and I know what it’s like for people to go “Don’t start crying again!” because they’ll never understand how much it means to you to have things turn out right. Yes, in many ways, you’ll need to toughen up; it’s a hard-knock life out there, and people won’t have time for your emotional pedantry. But for now, I’ll look after you and I’ll try to remember that you’re only like this because you come from me.

You drive your father insane. And you also make him the proudest man on the planet. Never, ever doubt your father’s adoration of you. He may not understand why not having a particular fork can result in a puddle’s worth of tears, but he will be your (second) biggest cheerleader in life, and he loves your many little quirks. We both could watch you for days in your imaginative world – telling us about the shark under your bed, and having to tip-toe around the house so that we don’t wake the bears. We wish that you didn’t have to grow out of feeding us invisible pieces of pear and hiding in your non-existent cave. You make each day such an adventure and neither of us could be happier with the person you’re shaping up to be.

You eased us in to parenting. Yes, we looked like we were struggling in the beginning. But looking back, we didn’t know how good we had it. Yes, you were a bloody nightmare to feed. But we didn’t know about your allergies and your screaming and refusal was your way of telling us. You were and are amazing. The first time you properly cried, we took you to A&E – we were so unused to seeing you distressed. You made us grow up fast, but we enjoyed and were ready for that journey. You gently guided us into our parenting role – you weren’t needy or demanding, and most epically – YOU LET US SLEEP. We grew together, with you, and you took us from a couple to a family. I’d be lying if I spun the cliche, ‘we loved every second of it’, but we did and do love a lot of seconds.

You hide your light under a bushel. Even those that see you week in – week out, don’t see your abilities and intelligence like we do. You’re not, and never have been, a performing monkey. Much to my frustration, I could never show off your new found talent in public – whether it was walking, talking, singing, reading – you just never showed off. I love that you’re humble, but I hope you know how special you are. As a teacher, I honestly believe all children are special, but you, my love, are extra special. I wish I could list off your many specialities to anyone who would listen, but for now, I’ll settle for just me and Daddy, every night, unashamedly reeling off the things you do that amaze us.

 

Monster Minor – What I want you to know:

I knew you’d make waves. From a few weeks after we found out we were expecting you, I began saying ‘the world is going to know this child has arrived,’ I just knew you’d make ripples. But you haven’t just made ripples. You’ve made waves, and I have no doubt that there are tidal waves to come. You cause a ruckus everywhere you go, and whilst it drives me bonkers, it works. You make your presence known and you command a room. I will live in awe of your ability to have everyone turn and see you. Yes, you’re attention-seeking, but nobody seems to mind this. You crash-landed into our lives, and literally, seconds later, chaos began. And it hasn’t stopped. You were born in water and, without going into details, you really really did muddy the waters and cause a stir on the way out. Our life would be a calm sea without you, but a calm sea never made for a skilled sailor, and you make the rocky ride worth getting sea sick for. I’ll live the chaos a thousand times over if it means keeping you the bright star that you are. You’re our little hurricane; you threw all of our pieces everywhere and each time we think we’ve pieced them back together correctly, you storm a little more. Life will never ever be dull as long as you’re a part of it. And we’d never have you any other way. (Ok, well, maybe I’d have you a bit calmer, but I’m trying to be sentimental.)

You have a remarkable ability of making everyone fall in love with you. No one is immune to your charms. I have never seen anything like it. You say jump and people say how high. You hold up your arms to a stranger, and they feel no choice but to pick you up. (And this happens far much more than I’m comfortable with, please stop it.) You seem to capture people with your smile and I can honestly say, I think you light up the lives of everyone you’re around. You’re a cheeky little button (that’s an exceedingly polite way of putting it) but no one seems to mind the minute you smile. You know everyone loves you and you love that everyone loves you and you expect no less than everyone to love you. It’s not unrequited either. You’re free with your love; I’m hard-pressed to find someone you’ve met that you have haven’t loved. You reward your admirers with kisses, cuddles and your numerous ways of showing affection. I often think that you arrived into the world with an excess of love, and you don’t think twice about dolling out a generous portion to the nearest smiling face. I worry that you’re too ruthless, reckless and scattily-minded for this world, but so long as you keep your loving, charming, beautiful ways, I’m sure they’ll take you far.

You’ve made us do all the things we never said we’d do as parents. I never thought I’d crack halfway through giving my child a telling off, but the way you laugh at my cross face has me in stitches. I never thought I’d undermine your father’s parenting choices, but your melting eyes get me saying ‘Oh he’s only a baby’. We never thought we’d let ourselves be dictated by our children, but you rule the roost and we’ve found ourselves your humble and reluctant servants. For months, you banished Daddy to the loft because you decided our bed was your bed, and Daddy wasn’t part of the picture. And like love-struck fools, we let it happen.  The amount of times in your short life that we’ve vowed to be tough and let you cry it out, only to crack three minutes in and smother you with cuddles until you sleep. We bow to your every whim, and as self-declared tough-love parents, it’s been a real shock to the system. Your uncanny ability to get your own way and leave us feeling like the perpetrators is unrivalled, and I really do fear for what you have in store for us next. I can’t believe how you’ve become the boss of the house at only 15 months, but I secretly envy your ability to do it leaving no bitter feelings and only further deepened devotion to your chubby little self.

You have Daddy wrapped around your finger more than you’ll ever know. He is besotted. I know he could cry when you wrap your arms around his neck, and, last night, when you told him ‘I love you,’ in your crazy, unintelligible babble, I think he would’ve stopped the Earth to be able to bottle that moment. He gets your mayhem in a way that your brother and I can’t understand, and he loves the fracas you cause everywhere you go. You get your bulldozer ways from him and  I know he’s proud of that mini me quality. Like so many others, he can’t resist your charms, but, let me tell you, he’s a very charming man himself. As guarded and fairly introverted beings, your brother and I will never ‘get’ the open, self-assured, what-you-see-is-what-you-get aspect of you. Daddy does. You and Daddy are peas in a pod in so many ways. And Daddy is a pretty big fan of himself, and so, by logic, he’s a pretty big fan of you. Every quality that made me fall in love with your father, you have in abundance. And it’s just gorgeous to behold the two of you amplifying it in each other.

 

Well done if you got through this without vomming in your mouth. I worship the ground my monsters walk on but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to throttle them on a daily basis. Likewise, I can be furiously cross with them but secretly respect them for their individuality. Raising children is about contradictions; it’s about running yourself in circles because your love for them makes you disappointed, cross and upset at the undesirable situations they put you in. But it’s this same love that makes you start afresh soon after. To all those out there fruitlessly attempting to shape their spawn – I salute you!

Pink Pear Bear

Snapshot #15 – Maybe people aren’t that shit after all

The Monster family and I happen to live in a lovely village/town community with a fab array of independent shops on the main street (as well as some bigger dickhead custom stealing middlies). Today, they served to remind me that perhaps not ALL of the public at large are tosspots.

We experienced a rare delight today as Husband Dearest was working on a site in the village and was therefore home from work mid-afternoon. Around the same time, the Monsters went full-on shitbag bonkers, and we knew we needed to leave the house before someone said something they were thinking but shouldn’t say and the kids ended up in care.

Having offered to do a cake for someone, I knew I needed some sugar paste. (I know I sound like a master baker in this blog- I promise I am NOT!) Our fabulous little village has a cake makers shop so off we strode, en famille. Upon arriving at the lovely shop, my son declared he was afraid of ‘The Highway Rat’ (the Highway Rat in Julia Donaldson’s The Highway Rat spends his eternity sweeping crumbs in a cake shop, following a spate of rather anti-social behaviour). Instead of giving him a funny look and pretending not to hear, the shop owner took great delight in hearing about the story and reassured him that no rodents roamed the floorboards. A little less apprehensive, Monster Major progressed to touching everything possible, whilst Monster Minor continued knocking over and pulling everything possible. Rather than grunt and huff and puff, this lovely lady asked the boys whether they liked cake, and upon a blank, blinking response, returned with a bowl of cake off-cuts. Obviously, the Monsters then knew this woman was a Cakey Goddess, and I could peruse the shop in peace, safe in the knowledge that Mrs Wonderful Sponge was entertaining my gremlins with her moist, light goodness (ugh, a little sick in my mouth). When I had made my purchases, my little men were still demanding cake, rather unpolitely. Monster Major, being a stippler for manners, etiquette and all things rules, quickly remembered his ps and qs, but Monster Minor continued to thrust his mitt at Mrs Kipling with a stubborn glare. I embarrassedly pleaded reminded him of his manners. Most people at this point become equally embarrassed and quickly mumble some excuse like ‘Oh he’s only little,’ (I know but he’s also a TWAT) and give them what they want to save causing a scene; leaving the lesson unlearnt and your parenting appearing too harsh. Madame Lovely Buns heroically supported my cause and stood resolute, firmly withholding cake until we got that indignant ‘Peas’. What a bloody diamond.

Next we headed to the sweet shop, where Monster Major could spend his pocket money that he got for doing jack shit. Of course he wanted organic, ethically-farmed, additive-free courgetti. Jokes, he went for some ‘chocolate’ flavour sugar/veg fat hybrid formed into rounds and covered in e-number rich sprinkles (aka Jazzies). I winced as his snot stained paws caressed each sweet, painstakingly choosing which ones would grace the white paper bag. I nervously and apologetically glanced towards Mrs Sweet Shop, expecting a judgemental shake of the head and a passive-aggressive tut. But no, she smiled back, fondly, and welcomed my excited bundle to the counter to pay for his bounty. She made some cheerful comment and took the 20p and not a sigh was exchanged at the germs left on the sugary delights. (Though this does beg the question – how many other toddlers have fondled/sneezed/ licked/hugged what my child is about to devour!?)

On the walk home that followed, cars stopped to let us cross the side roads, people moved aside to allow us to pass (at snails’ pace) and people smiled at us Monster family. It was very idyllic; very suburban, sickeningly pleasant and the stuff I’d scoff at on TV.

To top it all off, Husband Dearest is gunning for a shag tonight, so he packed me off to my room with a glass of wine, promising to sort the kids out for the rest of the night. SCORE! (Well for me, at least!)

So perhaps people aren’t so shit after all.

SHOP LOCAL!

A collective effort – Middle Class Kids (MCKs)

I feel I’m raising middle-class kids inadvertently. I didn’t mean to do it. I thought my children would eat bread with every meal, regardless of what it was, drink from a plastic ‘juice’ carton upside-down by biting a hole in the corner and sucking through it, and live off 10p ice-pops in the summer, just like I did. But that hasn’t happened. The closest they get to bread with meals is a toasted ciabatta when we have pasta, their liquids are exclusively water or unsweetened almond milk (although I will allow watered-down fresh juice if it’s a special occasion), and the closest they’ve come to ice-pops is the raspberry sorbet from Pizza Express.

It’s so difficult to discuss this issue without reverting to stereotypes or becoming hung up in a socio-political debate. So to address that, let me state from the off – I’m amidst what the Marxists term as ‘contradictory class location’ – I grew up as one class, but my adult experiences and circumstances place me in another. May I also state that I think society is generally a bit classless now; there have been many attempts at classification and reclassification, yet the general perception of class seems to relate to money and commodities, rather than attitudes and beliefs – what we have rather than who we are. I don’t want to enrage, offend, offer soapboxes or chisel at shoulder chips with this post – it’s a light-hearted, unashamedly stereotyping, poke at my contradictions and misconceptions when raising my family.

So, I’m hoping to build a collection of times when I’ve heard myself (or my toddler) and needed to go and give my head a wobble because I don’t know who the fuck I am anymore. And, equally, times when you’ve wanted to shout “Get a fucking grip, you moron!” at a child/parent/yourself.

  1. “Can you just sit down and eat your avocado and pomegranate seeds!?” – Monster Mummy
  2. “Are you going to have some red wine now Mummy?” – Monster Major, 5pm
  3. “Humous isn’t shampoo, darling” – anotherbun1, Twitter
  4. “Tarquin, if you don’t behave you won’t get your pain au chocolat!” – overheard at a festival, Daniel Pearson, Facebook
  5. “Daddy, I want this bunny rabbit” Dad responds, ” Elizabeth dear you already have two ponies, two cats and a puppy, you can’t have another pet.” “But Daddy, this one is a prettier colour,” “OK, well we can go and ask Mummy.” – overheard at the Romsey Show, Louise Lam, Facebook
  6. “See son, study hard or you may end up as a … performer” – overheard at the Kew Gardens Christmas performance, Daniel Pearson, Facebook
  7. “Stop crying just because I won’t let you hold the pomegranate seeds” – Husband Dearest (pomegranate is the zeitgeist of Monster household 2016)
  8. “Lucius, keep your socks on, this isn’t like at David Lloyds” – overheard at soft play, Rebecca Messenger-Clark, Facebook
  9. “Amaryllis, darling please walk ever so slightly quicker” – overheard on the school run, Jenny Collins, Facebook
  10. “Mummy, I only eat green olives!” – Elodie, aged 5, crying when faced with black olives
  11. “Mummy, why do we have to go to Starbucks? I really don’t like their hot chocolate!” – Elodie, aged 5, crying
  12. “Eating outdoors is called al fresco” – threesypeasy, Twitter

 

I’m sure this is only the icing of our middle-class children’s first world problems, so if you have any to add, please leave a comment or shout me on twitter, @areluctantmummy, or facebook, facebook.com/areluctantmummy, and I’ll add them to the list.