Snapshot #24 – Pilates quilt

I’m very unfit. Not unhealthy – I can make very healthy choices when shamed into doing so I choose to, but I have zero level of fitness.

I’m mostly ok with this. Exercise has never held much enticement for me so other than the odd zumba/dance/one session fling with a cheap gym membership, I’m pretty much exercise free.

The small part of me that wants to change my fitness level is the paranoid part that fears I’ll suffer a heart attack or similar and won’t get to see my boys grow up. I guess that should be a fairly major consideration.

I’m quite afraid of the horrible breathless, tight chested, fuzzy legged feeling that a brisk uphill walk brings me, so something calmer was more up my street. So, not knowing anything about it, I suggested pilates.

Unable to face potential life-ruining humiliation alone, I roped Husband Dearest into it and got a babysitter. I donned my least snotted-on leggings, one of Husband Dearest tshirts (which clung far more than my ego could take) and laced up my almost fresh out of the box trainers. Throw a sweatband on me and I reckon I could’ve passed as someone who might know what the fuck was going on.

As with all the best laid plans, the class was cancelled. We returned home, waved goodbye to our lovely sitter and I suggested we do a Youtube pilates sesh in the living room. Isn’t that the obvious course of action!? Husband Dearest took a lot more convincing but within moments, some weirdo American was cast to the TV and I was on my makeshift yoga mat throw. Upon seeing my seating gear, Husband Dearest went in search of his own kit, returning with a duvet folded into quarters. Upon receiving my scoffs and jeers, he retorted, ‘What? Haven’t you ever heard of a pilates quilt!?’

We began. The first exercise was fine; my legs couldn’t get as straight as the stretchy goddesses on TV, no matter how many times the lady told me to have long legs (Hello!? I’m 5’10”, I’m pretty sure my legs are long enough, thank you very much, scary American lady) but on the whole, I reckon I styled it out.

Unlike usual, I didn’t even fucking have time to get cocky with it. Next thing we were ‘rolling down our backs’ – I’d call mine more unfolding than rolling – and lifting our heads, hands and legs. I could manage that. Then we had to sit up. I tried. I really really tried. I can’t even say I felt the strain because there was just nothing there. Nothing to strain at all. No part of my body which could aid me in sitting up without using my hands or feet. I looked despairingly at Scary Lady but all she could tell me was ‘Activate your Power House.’ But what happens if you don’t have a Power House? They must have missed out my Power House like they missed out my breasts at age 13.

I frantically questioned Husband Dearest who was bobbing up and down like a well-disciplined weeble: ‘Where’s the Power House?’ (he didn’t know), ‘What muscles are you using!?’ (he couldn’t say), ‘HOW ARE YOU DOING THAT!?’ The last question was responded to with ‘Well, can you do sit-ups? It’s just a sit up.’ He can just fuck right off. Suspended in mid-sit, mid-lie, did I FUCKING LOOK LIKE I COULD DO A FUCKING SIT UP!?

Alas we moved on, albeit, slightly traumatised on my part. I was beginning to wonder how the buggery I could expect my poor untrained body to get my through a pilates class without complete soul-destroying, mental health-obliterating and body-confidence decimating  humiliation.

I don’t remember the next exercise, but I remember it was about rolling your spine up off the floor. Well. Don’t pilates people wear bras? And if they do, why don’t they scream out in pain when doing that exercise!? ‘I will not be wearing a bra to the class,’ I announced, glaring at Husband Dearest. Then I really took in his floor equipment. That lovely spongy duvet. Maybe the pilates quilt wasn’t such a thing of ridicule after all. He was demoted to the pilates throw and I snuggled down onto my new cosy surface.

We attempted some more exercises. One was rolling like a ball, forwards and back. Whilst he squealed in glee at how fun it was, I took the exercises one step further; unable to control my body to just rolling back and forth, I rolled all around the pilates quilt. Again, I questioned the suitability of my free-spirited body within a public class.

We began a ‘scissoring’ exercise. I thoroughly enjoyed aiming my kicking legs at Husband Dearest. He was immaturely pissing himself at Scary Lady repeatedly instructing us to ‘reach around’ (how is that even funny?).

I took great delight in scissoring with gusto and prowess and probably far too scissorly. I took more delight in the fact Husband Dearest was groaning with pain.

After 23 minutes (a mere third of the time the class would have tortured us with), Scary Lady told us it was all over. We slowly recovered from our uncontrollable giggles, got up off the living room floor and wandered into the kitchen.

‘Cheese?’ Husband Dearest offered, nibbling a chunk. ‘Nah I’m gonna have a pizza.’ ‘Ok, me too. Prosecco?’ ‘Yeah, why not.’

I’m clearly just not cut out for this fit body life. Within minutes I was, again, sedentary and gobbling greasy pizza (which I ate in record time) and glugging booze. Who the fuck did I think I was with my fucking pilates and pristine trainers!? If only we hadn’t prepaid for next week….

pilates
Pilates quilts and perfect pumps

 

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Snapshot #23 – The many personalities keeping me fat

Fat is a horrible word. I totally don’t mean fat. Fat is subjective.

By fat, I mean unhappy with my body. I mean not like my body was before. I mean droopy, wobbly, disproportionate. I mean generally a few counties south of where it began. I mean feeling like probably 80% of all mothers, or even all people, feel about their current flab situation.

Well now I know why. It isn’t my fault. It turns out I have a multiple personality disorder. For those who can’t be arsed to read on, the crux of the matter is: I don’t choose to eat the cake; it’s the little voices that tell me to!

Genuinely.

Firstly, there’s the compensator. That voice that finds the excuse. We’ll call her Trudy. Trudy helps me see that jeans shrink in the wash; obviously that’s why they won’t go over my thighs. She tells me that everyone bloats following their breakfast, of course my stomach isn’t really that big! ‘They cut clothes smaller these days, it saves the manufacturers money,’ she says when I need to go two sizes bigger than expected. I quite like Trudy. She’s kind.

Then there’s the voice that tells me: ‘This isn’t quite right. Come on, this top used to hang not cling. The knickers haven’t shrunk, your bum has grown. That’s not a double chin because you’re looking down, that’s just what your face is like now.’ Let’s call this voice Betty. Betty isn’t being mean. She doesn’t want to hurt my feelings. Betty is the bringer of truth. Betty wants me the voices to stop conning me. She wants me to sort this shit out and become one hot tamale.

Next we have the voice of hedonism. Let’s call her Lolita. Lolita is indulgent. Lolita likes it rich, dark and oozy. Lolita is the voice that picks up the chocolate and puts it into my mouth. She convinces me to treat myself to the kids’ leftover spaghetti hoops on toast ice cream and a glass of wine. For no reason other than it tastes better than a lie in and why the fuck not. Lolita is a wicked wicked woman. I wish I could be Lolita. I love you, Lolita.

But then, who should toddle along, but the voice that yells ‘What in the name of saggy tit skins are you doing!?’. This voice judges me. She berates the choices Lolita forces on me. She’s probably called something like Judith. She’s a bit of a bitch if you ask me. She tells me off for my weakness. She criticizes me for giving in to Lolita’s temptation. She shames me for eating five biscuits before the kettle boils and tells me I should stop drinking vodka wine when the children are eating tea. I bet fucking Judith has never demanded a postcoital snack of crumpets and I bet her thighs don’t rub together either.

I should also mention the voice of reciprocity. I’m sure we all have her. She tells you that you deserve the doughnut because it’s been a hard day. Why not have the rest of the Doritos grab bag? After all, you’ve been good all week. This voice has even been known to tell me I deserve the prosecco as it’s only two days until my cat’s birthday. I think we shall call this lovely lady, Mary. Good old Mary understands the struggles of daily life. She appreciates that sometimes you need an 11am snack of smiley faces and ketchup. She applauds your realisation that you, of course, need onion bhajis AND naan bread to accompany your Indian takeaway. Mary empowers women. You go, Mary, you marvellous lady.

And finally, there’s the cheapskate. The skintflint that hates wasting money. Margaret. Margaret is the reason I finish the children’s meals, regardless of whether it’s hour old porridge or sandwiches with all the filling scraped out (so just half-sucked bread, then). ‘You’ve just paid £20 for that meal!’ she reminds me when I start to get full in a restaurant (this NEVER happens, tbf). ‘What a waste of money and effort!’ she screeches if I consider tipping three-day old leftovers into the bin. If there’s ever cake/biscuits/sweets at work, Margaret urges me to get my fill – it’s free after all. I have an odd relationship with Margaret. Like, I get where you’re coming from, love, but do I really have to eat this pre-licked digestive that my toddler just threw on the floor?

I’m so happy I came to the realisation that I’m not just struggling to lose the weight – I HAVE AN ACTUAL ISSUE THAT I CAN’T HELP. It’s nothing to do with willpower, or assertiveness or just PUT THE FUCKING JAMMIE DODGER DOWN YOU FAT MORON! Nope, it’s all the fault of Trudy, Betty, Lolita, Judith, Mary and Margaret. Perhaps if they stopped warring, I’d be skinny. But alas, they cease not. And so, I must eat the cake.

 

 

Snapshot #22 – What to do if you’re going to be a total bellend

I nearly cost myself a divorce last weekend. I momentarily lost my mind and all my friends took advantage. I was only trying to be helpful, be a fun mum, be one of the cool kids. But it turns out I was just a bellend having an oddly optimistic moment.

I hosted a sleepover. I didn’t mean to, it just kind of happened. I said ‘We have plenty of space, the kids can stay if they need to!’ And then, without realising, we were putting 7 children to bed. Repeatedly. For hours.

Before my friends berate me for making them sound like selfish twats, I offered. Then I reiterated my offer. Then I reassured them I was happy to do this. Then I sent them home, sans enfants.

And before Husband Dearest reopens divorce proceedings, it was all my own doing. He said no. He said what the fuck you absolute lunatic. He said I’m really not happy about this. I heed you now, Husband Dearest, I heed you. Thank you for not walking out at 4am and not nutting any of the toddlers during the 5.50am Morning Song.

We had an open house for the bank holiday. Everybody brought lots of food and wine. The furniture was pushed back, the garden was wet and rainy open and we had a nice little gathering in full swing. It’s possibly my favourite thing to do. Nothing* beats a house full of happy, tipsy, wonderful people. There kids were a bit primal, but no first aid had to be given, so I’ll take that as a success.

Having sent out the casual offer of kiddie beds, we’d ascertained that no one was really taking us up on it. In fact, one wondrous being actually offered to have Monster Minor. I was encouraged to stop being a complete dick by wondering if I should take this personally, and stop bringing attention to the fact that I’d momentarily lost my mind, offering our services as a toddler/preschooler hostel. So when we began preparing for the event, we were pretty sure we’d escaped nocturnal creature fielding duties.

Husband Dearest describes learning that this wasn’t the case as rather gradual. I’d use the term ‘snowballing’. We soon realised that 3, 5 including our own, would be staying. That was ok. One was Monster Major’s girlfriend and sleeps like a log (if that log had beautiful ginger curls). Another two we could learn to manage. They’d be so tired from all the amazing fun our house had beheld in the previous hours, that they’d crash at 8pm and sleep 12 hours, waking refreshed and full of manners and etiquette.

The bath factory line began. Usual occurrence at mass gatherings, and rather the military operation now. However, what followed was the feral screams of over-excited Mini Monsters. Trying to put them to bed was like Whack-a-Mole with fewer hammers and more sugar-induced mania. And it’s not like we were doing it single-handedly! Parents were still around, yet safety in numbers was a futile concept. Nothing can make that situation worse. Unless you add in two more 3-year olds who want to join the party.

But I know, I offered! It’s all my own doing! I can’t complain when I actively encouraged this. I don’t blame my friends. I’d have done the same. I blame them for not sitting me down, telling me not to be such a stupid motherfucker and that I completely could not handle seven 18-month – 3-year olds overnight. Perhaps they were too polite. Perhaps they believe in me. Or perhaps they just wanted a night where their monster was someone else’s problem.

Most parents left whilst the bed-swapping, nappy-removing and bare-bottomed conga lines were still taking place. And reeeeaaaallllyyy slowly and reluctantly, most went to sleep. Well, four out of seven. Two beauteous beings stayed until all children were passed out. The final 2 monsters still raving were treated to a real concoction of tough love, cuddles, blankets, stories, threats, and S.K.’s most monumentous consequence yet: ‘If you don’t go to sleep right now, you will never ever eat chocolate, ever, ever again.’ (It worked, S.K., you total legend.) They then stayed for a couple of cocktails and a bizarre game of kick the play mat mirror around the dining room.

Husband Dearest and I made it to bed around 10.30/11ish. And we had Peace At Last. Until 2am. The little bastards (sorry, I’m totally not calling your loves bastards) scamps worked as a team for two hours. The game resembled that one where you work together to hit the balloon so it doesn’t touch the floor. Except, it wasn’t a balloon, it was us. And it wasn’t the floor, it was sleep. But the hitting felt real. Cue lots of cuddles, songs, bed visitors, stories, reassurance, curling up at the bottom of a bed pretending to be asleep, muttering FFS, groaning ‘Nooooooooooo’, and Husband Dearest hissing ‘ONE CHILD ONLY, NEXT TIME!’ We. were. spent.

So when Monster G decided 5.50am was the precise time he’d treat us to his glorious rendition of Sounds of the Cat Once Strangled, we were a little less than perky. When he and his blow-up-bed buddy ran through the upstairs, waking the other campers with the chorus, we could have given it a miss. Though when he entered our room, did his funny little jig, and ran out again, I think even Husband Dearest may have cracked a smile.

If I wanted to be a major-league bellend, I might say the glee on Monster Major’s  face when they ran around the landing at 6am, made it all worth while. But I’m not that much of a nob and it didn’t.

A pretty seething message to the parents slightly before 6am, must have guilt-tripped them, as we had 3 collectors arrive before 7am. You people are amazing. I can’t imagine it would’ve ended well if we’d have had to cope with them for much longer. When you’re nearly four-foldly outnumbered, it’s only a matter of time until someone has a complete and utter nervous breakdown or reopens last night’s vodka.

So, in all the madness, I did learn a few things.

  1. Do not let J&A bring pudding for the children. It will contain sugar in copious amounts. And certainly supervise the gorging on said dessert; otherwise some Monsters will still be bouncing off the walls at going up to 10pm.
  2. No child is a safe bet. Parents may tell you they sleep until 8am. They lie. Parents may tell you when they’re asleep, they’re dead to the world. They, too, lie. Children are like zombies. You can’t knock them out, they keep coming back, and they want to take your soul.
  3. Sometimes On exceedingly rare occasions, Husband Dearest may actually be right.
  4. My friends have terribly low standards for who watches their children. They watched Husband Dearest and I drink from 3pm and STILL left their children in our care. The things they’ll do for a moment’s peace.
  5. Having someone’s children for less than 12 hours, does not clock up any favours, unfortunately.

Sleepovers for Mini Monsters. It’s not big. It’s not clever. Don’t be a bellend. Don’t do it.

 

*Total, unashamed lie for effect. A LOT of things beat that. Sleeping through the night. Sleeping past 6.30am. Sleeping without a child in the bed. Red wine. Nando’s bottomless frozen yoghurt.

Snapshot #21 – My gender equality mindfuck

My boys can wear pink. My boys can have dolls. I’ll paint my boys’ nails. I would raise them no differently whether they were boys or girls.

Not that easy though, is it?

I am a fervent supporter of raising boys and girls without reinforcing any gender** stereotypes that are out there. Yet, my statements above are actually implying that those things are ‘girl’ things – therefore perpetuating the stereotype. A mindfuck, I know. I tie myself in knots trying to raise children whose interests are geared by their personalities, not their assigned sex at birth.

And generally speaking, I think Husband Dearest and I do a great job. Our boys like books, imaginative games and annoying the hell out of us – pretty gender-free activities. They love building train tracks, throwing balls and playing pirates – often seen as ‘boy’ activities. Monster Major can’t function without his nails painted, and Monster Minor could spend hours carting round a handbag – clearly observing Mummy far too closely. It drives me insane to see straightforward toys ‘genderised’ – baby walkers in primary colours (presumably geared towards all children), but also sold in pinks and purples (presumably geared at girls). Are my presumptions the thing that is wrong with this branding, or is it the ideas behind the colour choices? Would a parent of a girl baby not buy a walker, simply because it is red, yellow and blue rather than varying degrees of pink? I really, really hope not. In choosing toys for the boys, I do always go the most gender-neutral route I can see.

And still, there are natural inclinations towards traditionally gendered toys. Whilst I’m yet to see either of the boys choose blue or pink (they prefer yellow, orange and red – crisis averted), there have been many times when their race towards the toy garage has made me question my success in being gender neutral. How ridiculous am I?! My boys are playing with a toy, and I’m worrying that I haven’t made them girly enough. Similarly, I see them brushing a doll’s hair and feel pride that my boys don’t shun a toy based on it’s target market. It’s such  pointless concern; they are children playing with toys. That’s the success of the situation.

Such a passionate investor in gender neutral child rearing am I, that I have read studies on the matter. There’s little weighting to the evidence either way from a nature/nurture point of view. Some studies on babies show that there’s little in the way of suggesting a certain gender goes for a certain toy, whilst some studies on chimps show a primitive male/female interest in traditionally-seen gender specific toys (ie. females to pots and pans and dolls, males to construction toys).

I read a book which had a chapter on the need for more females in the science and engineering spheres. It suggested that manufacturers had sought to address this gap by making construction toys (Lego, Duplo, Megabloks) in pink and purple. Essentially, what toy makers saw as a fundamental toy for developing science and engineering interests, was redesigned and remarketed specifically for girls. This really enraged me. In attempting to fulfil a gender balance in roles dominated by males, specific ‘girl versions’ were seen as needed… how does this put both genders on an equal footing? The boys shouldn’t use the pink and the girls shouldn’t use the regular version? Perhaps I digress a little. The point of the writer was that redesigning the traditional colours made the toy more appealing and accessible to girls. This way of thinking, I believe, is the problem’s essence. That we suggest to children that things must look/work in a certain way, if they are to be suitable for their gender. Of course, upon reading this chapter, I inevitably panicked and felt the need to buy a big wagon of ‘girly’ Megabloks, to buck the gender trending. What a fuck up I am.

My two biggest challenges when attempting to raise the boys fuelled by their interests and not their gender, have been as a result of Monster Major. For anyone that doesn’t know him, he’s living proof that not all boys are snips and snails and puppy dogs’ tails. He doesn’t fit the rough and tumble, tough nut template so readily cut out for boys. He’s a sensitive soul and is rather a fan of all things pretty and just so.

When shopping for Clarks Doodles last summer, I showed him the boys’ range. Whilst not as boring as most boys’ shoes, they stuck to the only colours boys’ shoes tend to come in – blue and brown. (Perhaps I lie, there may have been khaki green too.) Having pondered over the aeroplane or pirate ones, Monster Major wandered towards the girls’ shoes. Well. Red, pink, yellow, purple, shiny bits, lights, sparkles, flowers stuck on, glitter galore. What toddler doesn’t want to wear something that amazing!? Hell, I’ve only just chucked my hot pink sequinned shoes away! And yet, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy the bright pink glittery pair he fell for. I hated myself for giving the reason ‘because they’re for girls’, but that was the reason. It was the reason I swore I’d never give. I wasn’t sure I (let alone his Dad!) could let him walk around in such obviously girly shoes.  We left with the navy aeroplane Doodles, and that decision went against everything I felt I believed in.

The next dilemma is still ongoing. I have bought Monster Major a second-hand dolls’ house for his birthday. I do think dolls’ houses get a bad gendered press. At the end of the day, role-play is role-play regardless of whether it’s with a dolls’ house, pirate ship, Barbies or Action Men. Anyway, the house is very pink. I’m going to paint over this, partly to ‘de-genderise’ it (which, I know, is a contradiction in terms), mostly because Monster Major isn’t that interested in pink. So I began where all budding projectors begin: Pinterest. I searched ‘Boys dolls house’ and was greeted with superhero/fire station heaven. None seemed quite right for Monster Major’s interests. And then I checked myself. Why did I prefix it ‘boys’!? How had I found myself thinking I had to match the house to something he wasn’t at all interested in, just because he has a willy? I searched ‘dolls house’ and was able to pin so much more.

This post is yet more evidence of how ridiculously contradictory my inner voice is, I know. I don’t know why it makes me happy to see my little boys playing with stick-on earrings and unicorns. And why I sometimes feel uneasy if they play with trains for too long. Those feelings alone show I’m not parenting gender-neutrally. And yet, not enforcing gender specifications on the Monsters’ little obsessions is one of my biggest parenting ambitions. I know my ultimate hopes for the boys are that they grow up happy, confident, respecting themselves and others and understanding who they are and the world around them. (Not much then, hey?) Unfortunately, the stereotypes of the sexes plays a huge role in the big picture of the world. And I feel that won’t change unless we challenge them, in our own little picture. And that’s all me and the Monsters are trying to muddle through. Let’s hope I don’t fuck them up too much in the process.

 

* Probably best not to mention the fact that both Husband Dearest and I desperately and openly wanted girls, not boys. Mostly for the dressing in bows and tutus, on my part. Best not to mention that at all when doing my raa-raa-gender-equality pitch. Luckily, Monster Major wanted a tutu so that was appeasing. And it’s turquoise. I just need to sew a massive gun or something on it and it’s the epitome of gender neutral… No…?

** Gender/sex/male/female are hotly debated concepts. I’m actually pretty well rehearsed in de Beauvoir, Kristeva, and Butler (yes, I know they’re all female). I use these terms generally without any loaded meaning. Though, if you must know, my personal theory sits somewhere between de Beavoir’s social construction of gender and Butler’s performative gender roles. (Not really, I just memorise buzz-words and clever sounding names)

Snapshot #20 – 10 feelings that I couldn’t live without

10. When you’re in a long, hot shower and you crank up the heat one more. For a moment it scorches, and then it’s pure bliss.

9. The feeling I get after my Monsters have had a meal full of vegetables and we didn’t have to bribe/deceive/force-feed them. Only happened like, twice ever, but it was a damn good feeling when it did.

8. When I’ve done something that I’ve really enjoyed or that has invigorated me, for the first time. I go to bed buzzing, only able to think of that thing. I see it every time I close my eyes and I feel so positive and excited for the potential held within this new thing.

7. When someone other than Husband Dearest comments positively on the Monsters.

6. When you have one of those days where you have the motivation to do all of the things your husband knows you don’t do when you stay at home all day, and yet you have time to rest, do crafts and generally parent the children. And you feel like a super-human and walk around with a face that says ‘Yeah, motherfucker, I got this.’

5. When your evening plans get cancelled and you order a take away, get into pjs, climb under a blanket and the Corrie theme tune rolls. Even better when it’s a Friday. Even betterer if the take away contains saag paneer.

4. That feeling when things just come good. It’s like the stars align; money seems ok, children seem pleasant, work isn’t stressful and then some random thing comes along. Like winning a raffle, or an unexpected rise for Husband Dearest. And just for that short time, before the latest shit storm appears, you feel as though you may actually have earned some good karma with the universe.

3. When one of the Monsters is belly laughing hysterically, or singing beautifully or playing totally alone but so imaginatively, and Husband Dearest and I glance at each other and know we’re both thinking the same thing: ‘Are we really this lucky?’

2. When you’ve left behind the troubles of the world, the jobs that need to be done, the shit that is going on, the people who don’t really matter and you’re going out/staying in with friends. And that wine cork pops, you’re wetting your knickers with laughter before you’ve even sat down and you just know it’s going to be a comfortable, hilarious, wonderful night.

1. That beautiful feeling when one of the Monsters hugs me, falls asleep on me or generally cuddles up. They’re in no hurry to go anywhere, and you feel their whole weight lying freely across you, as though they know everything you feel is conditional on sleep unconditional. I’ve never been any good at mindfulness but at these times, I know I live 100% in the moment, for the moment, and like nothing will stop the moment we’re having.

I get myself so bogged down in stuff that isn’t a big deal. I’ve wasted far too much of my life panicking about things that others don’t give a second thought about. I hope that, in future, when I am psychologically flipping my lid, I can read what really matters to me in life and just calm my tits.

Snapshot #19 – The haters gonna hate (hate hate hate hate)

We love a bit of T-Swizzle in this house, and we’re getting better at just shakin’ it off when the shit hits the fan. As I’m becoming more immersed in the world of parent blogging, I’ve become astounded by the amount of writing fuelled by upset at others’ judgements of parenting styles. I’m not naive enough to think the the haters aren’t out there, and my own hatred of social media yummy mummy memes and glossiness is well founded now, but I really am shocked at some of judgements cast on parents – by other parents.

Already this morning, I have read an article on one woman masturbating* to get her through labour pains and another on why a mother chose extended breastfeeding. The former, predictably, attracted quite fiery responses. People claiming it was unnatural and an epidural should have sufficed and others suggesting this lady was perverted for bringing her child into the world that way. Whilst I’m really having to hold back on making some very very rude remarks about the intelligence levels of these commentors, I couldn’t help but reel in awe at the mass of comments to the above effects.

With the, I believe, less contentious article about extended breastfeeding, I was even more surprised. Not as much by vapid, half-witted comments (though these weren’t that much better), but simply at the proportion of unkind, unhelpful, judgemental opinions that were aired. Perhaps I’m coming at this issue from a biassed point of view – I breastfed Monster Minor for 14 months… does that count as extended? – but really, does using human milk to feed a baby/toddler/child for a significantly minute percentage of their lives warrant comments such as ‘Neurotic behavior by needy women’, and ‘ Breastfeeding grosses me out.  I don’t think I’ll be able to do so if I ever have a baby, because the whole thing absolutely disgusts me.’ and ‘So… You nurse for your own benefit because you can’t let it go. Clearly it’s not for his nutritional needs.’

What is so wrong with sitting on the fence? How has the art of mumbling ‘hmm.. that’s an interesting idea’ with a nervous smile painted on, become so lost? The whole ‘if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all’ is kind of lost on the internet, and from what I can see, it becomes an open forum for judging and criticising.

Of course, there’s an argument to suggest that you shouldn’t publish things on the most public arena we have, if you don’t want an onslaught. I get that. I air some fairly honest opinions on my blog, and would be foolish and naive if I thought I wouldn’t get some disagreement. I’m fortunate enough to only have one unkind comment made – and I actually quite enjoyed the to- and froing that the squabble brought. But I know that if I hadn’t have found it so easy to outsmart  placate this  hater, I would’ve felt quite downtrodden. Silly that, I put my, rather strong, opinions out there, on an emotionally-driven topic, when I know I’m inviting responses that have the potential to unsettle me.

And I think other writers are generally the same. The enjoyment of writing outweighs the risk of criticism. Even so, when no negative, judgey, critical thoughts are put out there, how does it still reel in those angry, hateful, belligerent commentors? I’m not talking Daily Fail articles, or The Sun pictures. I’m talking Parent Bloggers, writing about their day, their eating habits, their take on raising their children. Why does this attract others to spout abusive judgements about why their take is totally satanic?

No one gets it right 100% of the time. I doubt many get it right 75% of the time. But most try their best. And most try a lot harder than their best. So what’s to judge? Why not just get off your battle horse and take a pew on the fence? The view is quite overarching from up there and the air much cooler. Without sounding like a total nob, parents need to stand together. It’s a proper shit-shovelling job, and everyone is shovelling shit. Seriously,  what is there to judge when, breastfeeding or not, baby-led weaning or not, controlled crying or not, we’re all just shovelling shit?

I read an article a couple of years ago which suggested choosing two or three things that are really important to you when raising children, and then accepting that you’ll have to let the rest go. Amongst other things, Husband Dearest and I decided that it was very important to us to teach our children to respect mealtimes around a dinner table (at home or out) and behave appropriately throughout. It’s going REEEAALLLYYY fucking well. Monster Major now sometimes chooses to eat his food with cutlery rather than hands, and Monster Minor now only puts his feet on the table at the end of a meal. WIN! (We should’ve chosen something simple like don’t kick old people or keep your pants on in the park, but hey-ho.) Would I judge a family that choose to eat on the sofa watching Peppa Pig? Hell no. I’d bloody pull up a stool and join them, leaving  Husband Dearest futilely insisting ‘we don’t get down from the table until everyone has finished’, in the next room.

Since becoming a parent, I must’ve said the phrase ‘if it works for them…’ a million times. (See Snapshot #11) But it’s a parenting mantra. I cannot understand why the haters are still out there, judging other parents. Our little people are a verminous, snot-spraying, finger paint-wielding army, and parents need to remember – it’s safety in numbers. We need to climb the short distance to the top of the fence, and perch there proudly – upsetting no one, patting each others’ backs, and all muttering ‘FFS’ in unison.

I say I don’t judge. You may sense some judgement in the manner in which I comment on the stereotypical ‘Yummy Mummy’. This isn’t true judgement. It’s envy.  If I could do crafts, whilst breastfeeding, whilst making home-grown carrot and quinoa pancakes, whilst not swearing, whilst standing on my head, whilst my beautifully Baby Boden clad darlings complied angelically, I’d Instagram the hell out of that shit and plaster it across every social media platform going. But alas, I can’t. And I doubt you can either. I can see that half-necked glass of gin hiding behind the Ocado delivery… —

*I do think this term was wrongly used for the shock factor. Scientifically, she was stimulating a part of her body to generate oxytocin production. This then helped to block/distract pain receptors and help labour progress. Just the same principle as using nipple tweaking and sex to give labour a kick up the bum. Or up the vag, if you will.

I’ve been nominated for a Liebster award…

liebster2Ok, so perhaps I was wrong in thinking I had hit the blogosphere glitterati but still, at least people are reading my shit, so woohoo!
The Liebster Award is given from one blogger to another. The idea is to find out more about new blogs and the bloggers who blog them.
The rules are:
  • Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog in your post.
  • Show the award on your blog or in your post.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Write 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5-11 bloggers that you feel deserve the award.
  • Create a list of new questions for your nominees to answer.
Once your blog is published, let your nominees know that they have been nominated and link them to your post for more details.
Thank you Whingewhingewine… whilst I’m gutted there’s no cash prize, I shall be putting this on my CV. Here’s lovely Fran’s blog: http://www.whingewhingewine.co.uk/2016/03/leibster-award.html#comment-form
1. If you had describe your blog using three adjectives, what would they be?
Fuck, shit, twat.
2. What was the last thing you watched on TV/Netflix (excluding kid’s TV)?
Game of Thrones
3. Why do you blog?
Because I can lie in bed, not do the childcare, yet still be deemed semi-productive.
4. Which is your favourite season and why?
Probably Autumn because I love wrapping up warm and the cold but not freeze-your-tears cold can be refreshing. That’s my mature answer. The real answer is Summer because I love to fry myself so I actually look my ethnicity rather than ashen.
5. What technology do you use to write your blogs?
A laptop.
6. In a zombie apocalypse, do you reckon you’d be able to kill your loved ones?
I doubt it, but I don’t understand the whole zombie apocalypse thing, so I’d probably die before I had the chance!
7. What makes you laugh out loud?
Surreal humour
8. Have you ever seen a ghost?
I can’t even answer this question.
9. What was the last thing you ate?
Red wine.
10. What has been your most embarrassing moment of parenting so far?
When my,then, 18 month old pulled my top down in an important Dr’s meeting and said ‘Boobies!’
11. When was the last time you did fancy dress and what did you go as?
A few years ago – a fat, pregnant, ginger spice!
11 Facts about me:
1. I love cats more than generally publicly acceptable.
2. I can eat a disgraceful amount of food. Like really, a grossly vulgar amount. It’s a talent I rarely showcase to people as I hate how unfeminine it seems.
3. I’m a lot less hygienic than I come across.
4. I have a really obsessive personality which has generally served me well in life but equally means I’ve lost  many hours to achieving very little.
5. I could actually wet my pants laughing at Fawlty Towers, The Green Wing and Sacha Baron Cohen. An ambition in life is to be Sue White from The Green Wing.
6. I often can’t really engage much with people when I initially meet them, as I need to establish whether I can be my wry, dark, dry-humoured self with them or not.
7. I often come across as though I fucking hate being a parent, but it was actually a pretty imperative life ambition.
8. For someone with such disgusting language, I spend an unnerving amount of time responsible for the wellbeing of others’ children.
9. I really, really do love cats.
10. I wanted to be a vet when I was younger until my Mum asked me how I’d cope if I had to operate on spiders.
11. I wanted to be a child psychiatrist when I was younger until my Mum asked me how I’d cope if I had a case like Cole from The Sixth Sense.
I’ll post my nominations on Twitter and look forward to reading about you!

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.