I ran into an acquaintance the other day who had recently delivered a baby. She looked phenomenal, with no remnants whatsoever of the baby weight lingering around.
“How the hell do you look like that?” I asked, not even attempting to mask my utter annoyance.
“Oh, you know,” she explained. “Since I had a baby plus a toddler, I just spend all of my time running after them so the weight fell off. Plus, I just never seem to remember to eat!”
That was not the response I wanted to hear.
I’ve seen countless celebrities singing the same tune and it always makes me crazy. I have three kids and I have never once found myself running after them. Maybe I’ll dash over if I hear a loud thud followed by silence, but certainly not often enough to break a sweat. Sure, I’m with them constantly, but my normal pace is more like a saunter. My heart rate is steady and you could never call gently pushing a kid on a swing an aerobic workout.
And, how does one forget how to eat? Like, ever? The only time I ever came remotely close to not eating three square meals plus snacks daily was when I had bad morning sickness! Babies eat regularly. Kids are constantly asking for snacks and meals and treats. Never mind, that their plates constantly need to be “cleaned/finished”. As a mother you are surrounded by food– how on earth is it forgettable?!
If you’re rocking a post-baby body and I ask how you got it, please give me a response like:
“I’m starving and miserable, but I really wanted to get in these freaking jeans again”
“I work my ass off at the gym 24/7.”
“Genetics. You should see my mom.”
“Honestly, I have no idea how the hell it came off so fast.”
Or, even the dreaded, “I’m eating less and moving more.”
Those I can understand. I can’t relate to them, but I can live with them.
But, please don’t give me the running around and forgetting to eat bullshit.
I’ve been there. I know better.
I love Christmas. I’m the one who has a minimum of 15 guests for dinner, cooking for hours in the kitchen so that we can sit; parents, brothers, sisters, children, ex husband and current husband, on borrowed tables and over eat together. I save up for Christmas presents every month throughout the year no matter how skint I am, because I know I’ll be more skint at christmas. I start buying presents and decorations on January. As I said; I love Christmas.
As a kid Christmas was a magical time. It was looked forward to pretty much all year. It was the reason that the cold and dark evenings of winter didn’t matter as much as it should have. Christmas was always a time where we were all together, I remember it as happy; snuggles in the house and warm.
Advent calendars were exciting. I remember back before we had chocolate ones; the excitement of not knowing what would be behind that thin scrap of paper. What picture would be revealed? Then came the chocolate ones which, for the first year at least was so exciting; chocolate? Everyday? Yes please. However advent calendars somehow lost their charm; they became about a piece of chocolate and not about the unknown.
And more recently, in addition to this piece of chocolate we have the addition of a new count down, I’m not sure what they are called, it seems to be different in every house. Some call it Ernie, others it’s Pixie or Twinkle, it’s elf on the bloody shelf. And I just do not get it; so some elf, misbehaves making a mess in your house every day, in some houses bringing a gift each day in the run up to Christmas? WTF? Why?
Yes yes I know that all my Elf on the Shelf loving friends will be shouting at me right now that it’s about the magic, it’s the anticipation, it’s exciting and you will see their little faces light up as they go seek him out each day, but why? Why do we feel the need to make something that when I was a kid was the most exciting day of the year even more exciting? Surely it’s exciting enough?
What does some cuddly toy making a mess in your house everyday add to that? Can we not keep our kids excited without sprinkling flour all over the place, or spilling milk on the floor and sitting a stuffed toy next to it? My kids make that kind of mess everyday, they don’t need me adding to it and pretending it’s an elf doing it.
And I know that some people will say it’s a way of getting children to behave in December, which does make me kind of think how the hell do they get their kids to behave the rest of the year?
Nope. I just don’t get it. For me the magic of Christmas is built up by the slow drawing in of the nights. It is the Christmas songs on the radio, the plans of families getting together. It is the cold days. It is the wrapping presents. It is the simple things. And that’s how I want Christmas to be for my boys. I don’t want to ruin it with more expectation.
Plus I’d never remember to move the damn elf every night!!!
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. A lot has been going on and I just couldn’t seem to decide on which thing to focus on; however this morning it became blatantly obvious.
I am one of those people who wakes up and is ready to go. I don’t need to slowly waken and set lots of different alarms. Most mornings I’m awake before my alarm even goes off. And I savour those moment when the kids come in for a cuddle and tell me they love me. This morning the youngest told me that he is most comfortable “when I hold him”, which just about melted my heart. Those kids are awesome.
So why is it that nearly every day, or so it feels. I end up just about ready to nail said child/children to the wall!!
Take this morning for example; lovely cuddles completed, I tell the boys to go get dressed. This shouldn’t be a problem, after all last night I laid their clothes out for them. It should just be a case of putting them on, a feat that, on a good day they can manage in under a minute. So why, today, did it take nearly an hour? An hour interspersed with me alternately sending youngest to the naughty step to get dressed, to me screaming at him to just get dressed, only to have him wander in 5 minutes later, wearing a pair of pants and s single sock, moaning that he can’t open the can of soap he just found in his room?! WTH were you doing in your room, I ask? Why aren’t you dressed? “Because I want to wash my dirty hands” came the reply. Perfectly reasonable you might think, however, there was nothing dirty on his hands 5 minutes ago and now, when he was supposed to be getting dressed, somehow his whole hands are covered in red pen?! So, swallowing my rage, I squirt some soap into his hands and tell him to be quick about washing them and then, GET DRESSED.
10 minutes later, he is back, this time he has two socks and a filthy school T-shirt on, that is most certainly not the nicely cleaned and ironed one is laid out for him the previous evening, and instead looks like he has used it to clean off a homeless guys bare feet. “Why aren’t you wearing the t-shirt I left out for you? Why aren’t you dressed? Where did you find that thing?” I ask astounded. To which the reply is that this was all he could find?!?! I damn near rip the filthy t-shirt off his head and walk into his room and pick up the neat pile of trousers and t-shirt I left sitting, prominently RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS ROOM!!
I send him back to the naughty step to get dressed.
5 minutes later progress appears to have been made; well he now has a clean t-shirt on, however now he has a new gripe! Last night in a clearly weak moment which I have regretted from the moment the words were out of my mouth, I agreed that he could have a packed lunch today. This is a rare treat that he is rarely allowed (I mean at his age they get free school meals, why would I do a packed lunch), so you’d think the child would be grateful, but no, not a chance, even the sandwich filling turned into a battle, him wanting PB&J and me insisting he couldn’t. Anyway, this morning he has decided that he wants to swap the contents of the lunch box I’ve made for him as there’s not enough in it!! Arrgghhh, GET DRESSED!!! And give me that lunch box so I can launch it out of the window!
The flip side of this is that as he can see me getting increasingly frustrated with his younger brother, the middle one takes the opportunity to shine; he is dressed with no prompting from me, brushes his teeth at the first request, prepares his packed lunch and sits in the front room all ready to go calling out to his younger brother to stop being naughty. Yay. At least one of my children can behave thinks I, prematurely as it turns out.
The next time I come downstairs, miraculously the youngest is now dressed and comes out of the kitchen carrying a bag of chocolate, which I happen to know was in the back of one of the top cupboards, asking if he can have it for breakfast. No. You cannot, and GET YOUR BLOODY SHOES ON!!! I scream as I grab the chocolate and slam it into the bin, “no one is having any chocolate in this house ever again!” A perfectly reasonable response I feel!
It is then that the middle one, decides to tell me that when he had climbed the cupboards to reach said chocolate, he “may” have broken the door on the cupboard below! Closer inspection reveals that the cupboard below no longer actually has a door, it is more that a door is leant against the cupboard at a jaunty angle, and that the hinges have ripped out so spectacularly that there is no hope of ever securing it again.
At this point there is no stopping the rage which I have been swallowing back nearly all morning. Both boys are dispatched to sit in the front room and behave until I’ve made my coffee and we can go. Do they think this is good behaviour? Do they think I want to give them nice things and a new house if they can’t look after this one? I spend two further minutes berating them before I go off to make the much needed coffee!
We leave the house without further incident (if you don’t count the daily squabble over who gets to sit in the front) and once we are all safely strapped in the car, I look across at them both and my heart melts. They are both grinning at me, and the youngest cheekily pokes his tongue out and tells me he loves me. The middle one leans forward to plant a kiss on my lips and a hug round my neck. They apologise. Peace is restored.
I drop them off and we have a hug and a cuddle, and as I drive away I am determined that tomorrow it will be different. Tomorrow I will be calm. I will not shout, I will be the perfect mum. It won’t happen though, I’ll try, they will try, but they are two mischievous boys and I am an overtired, harassed mum of three. Whilst it may not be ideal, and I’d prefer we didn’t have the rows in the first place, the fact that we all forgive and forget so freely, that despite everything we all leave with a kiss and a cuddle, feeling loved surely says a lot more about our live than the fact we were at loggerheads 5 minutes before…doesn’t it?!
Anyway tomorrow is a new dawn!
I’ve just read back over my last two blogs and I’ve noticed a theme arising; normal people. I’ve mentioned them a few times in a number of blogs and I’ve started to realise that I’m jealous. Or deluded. One of the two. Let me give you some examples:
I’m currently laying on my bed, having just got out of the bath. I am surrounded by piles of clothes that need ironing (see picture), and tonight is the only night I have available to do it. I really cannot be bothered. Last week I got halfway through a massive pile and decided that actually I couldn’t be bothered to do it and who needs this many clothes anyway? So I put what was left into 2 bin bags and I took it all to the recycle point outside a local supermarket! I didn’t even look through it to see what I was throwing away! I didn’t care! Are these the actions of a normal person? Even worse I’m considering doing the same tonight!!
One reason I can’t be bothered to do the ironing, is that earlier today (in my unerring idiocy) I decided to finally take some time to clear out the kids room. Big mistake. I have got as far as creating a huge mess that started off as piles of things to keep, things to put away, and things to give away, and has ended up just becoming a mixture of random stuff that I can’t decide what to do with. Or I did decide but the piles have merged into one. I’ve just been toying with the idea to get the bin bags out and chuck it all. That will sort it!! However I can’t actually summon up the energy to even do that and now I have a pile of ironing and whole room of crap sitting here waiting for me to do something!
As I say I’ve just got out of the bath. Prior to getting in the bath I looked on the mirror and realised that it was domething I should probably have done much earlier on in the day; like before I set foot out of the house! Perhaps that way I might have noticed that I had forgotten to brush my hair since washing it last night, perhaps I’d even have noticed the bit of sellotape that was stuck firmly to my chin, I’ve no idea how long I have been walking around like that. I know I have a propensity to the dishevelled look but blimey, I’ve excelled even myself! I’ve even been shopping like this.
Speaking of shopping, I joined the Cycle2work scheme at work this week, giving me £500 to spend on a nice shiny new bike. So, naive as I am, I thought I’d pop to Halfords to pick a pick, maybe a few shiny accessories, to make me look the part. Who knew that buying a bike could be so bloody difficult? So many decisions, about things I know nothing about. Do I want hydraulic brakes or cable ones? Mountain bike or road bike; actually perhaps a hybrid would suit me better? 20 inch frame or 18? Cross bar or no crossbar? Suspension or not? The questions came out of the salesmans mouth like he thought I might be a person who would know the answers to these questions, or at the very least understand what on earth he was saying! Seriously, had he not noticed my hair?! I spent half an hour doing both of our heads in before politely excusing myself and saying I would do more research online prior my return tomorrow with a decision!! Yeah right! Decision? That’s not going to happen.
Today the kids are at their Dads. I am always saying how lovely it would be to have time alone and yet the minute I drove away from dropping them off, I came over feeling all desolate. Like I am alone. Turns out I actually quite like having the little sproglets around. They make me feel complete, no matter how badly behaved and demanding they can be. The thing is I know that within 5 minutes of them returning tomorrow, I will be fed up of the bickering and moaning and wonder what it was I missed exactly whilst they were away!
So, I ask you is it any wonder i appear to be obsessed with being normal? My life would surely be so much easier. No one else I know seems to struggle so much with the basics of being a grown up as I do! Surely at the ripe old age of 36 I should have mastered the art of brushing my hair and checking the mirror before I leave the house? I should be able to pick out a bike, or clear out a room? Shouldn’t I?
Yesterday was a big, life changing day. A day that I never really imagined would happen and yet at the same time had become more and more inevitable. Yesterday my husband and I separated. We had decided to do it 10 days ago, but it was only today that he moved out; at 18:13 on 9th April 2015 I became a single parent of three boisterous boys.
I say single parent, even though I know that P will be there for them whenever they (or indeed I) need him to be. Still it’s a place I never imagined that I’d be.
Ever since the decision was made on 30th March, my life has been full of firsts. There is the obvious first time that I have ever split up a marriage, and had to tell my children that my and Daddy aren’t going to live together anymore (which, in case you are wondering is heart wrenching) but there are also a lot of other firsts that I hadn’t really ever considered; things like not wearing a wedding ring. I’ve had a ring on my finger engagement or wedding ring for over 8 years, I suddenly realised that I feel quite naked without it. It’s been off a while now and I still feel like I’ve lost something every time I touch my fingers together. I never realised that I noticed it that much.
Last night I had to sort out the internet and tv all on my own for the first time. Given that I’ve spent 10 years deliberately not being able to do that so I’m never asked to, it was a struggle and I’m ashamed to say I gave up and ended up reading instead.
Another first is having to ask my husband (ex husband?) if he will look after the children so I can go away on holiday, on my own.
Today I am in the house alone. That’s the first time I’ve ever spent a night in my house with no one else in it. No husband no children. It is weird. The house feels empty.
P and I haven’t had a row in this process. I think we both agreed that our relationship wasn’t where we would both like it to be a long time ago but have been stuck in a quagmire of emotion around what to do about it. We know a couple who are still really good friends despite getting divorced. So much so that they go to the same parties with their new partners and all get along fine. We have agreed that we would like things to be like that. No recriminations, no blame. I’m hoping that we can stick to it. Interestingly since we called a halt to our relationship we have got on better than we have for ages. It seems as friends we get on brilliantly, not that we didn’t before, things had just changed.
And so today came another first; I went and did a shop for P, so that he doesn’t starve to death in the next week or so while he gets used to being on his own. I dropped it off at his house and then walked away. It might seem odd to other people but I honestly truly care for him and hope that this is the start of something good for both of us. Life changes. People change. We are different people to who we were a decade ago and that’s no ones fault it’s just the way it is.
I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I believe that if you can’t do any good for someone then, like the picture says at least you shouldn’t harm them. Together we will try to do what is good for our children and also for us as individuals. Hopefully we won’t hurt each other too much along the way. And I will always love him but maybe it’s time for new beginnings.
Today I have had enough of being a grown up. I’ve had enough of being the responsible one. I’ve had enough of dealing with other people’s crap. I’ve had enough of worrying about how I’m going to pay bills. I’ve totally had enough of tempering the desire to rip people’s heads off their shoulders and drop kicking it into the distance. I want, desperately, to revert to a toddler like tantrum, throwing anything to hand as far as I can. The urge to lay on the floor kicking and screaming is almost overwhelming.
Being a grown up is exhausting. Well it is for me. My natural propensity to punching idiots in the face is constantly needing to be controlled. Then there is the need to look after other people, constantly. All. The. Bloody. Time. A lot of these people are other adults, and yet somehow I still seem to have to (figuratively) wipe their arse and help them now their noses.
Now in general I don’t actually mind helping other people out, in fact, being a fairly bossy person, I can often be found telling other people what to do, however, sometimes, and only very sometimes, it would be nice not to be the person making the decisions. To be the one spending the money and not worrying about how I’m going to earn it. To be the one making the mess rather than just tidying it up.
It would be lovely to have the food magically appear in the cupboards once a week without actually having to go shopping. Or for clothes not only to somehow be clean and ironed, but also to be laid out for me perfectly coordinated and ready for whatever adventure (job) I have to do that day.
Days like today make me wonder why we chastise our children for throwing temper tantrums. Surely a 5 minute outburst, rolling on the floor screaming and ranting is preferable to feeling like I might snap in half under the pressure of holding it in? Perhaps there would be less stress related illness if, in a contained and safe way, we were able to express our entire range of emotions in a childlike and untethered way, rather than it just being ok to express happy, positive thoughts. Maybe my tension headaches would go away if I could actually tell some people how I feel (or rather how they have made me feel) rather than just grating my teeth and clenching my jaw.
Or maybe I should just break out a bottle of wine and some chocolate and grow the hell up.
Whilst I love being pregnant in many ways, I have never been very good at being pregnant. I have 3 children and all of my pregnancies have been complicated in some way, each one in a different way, but definitely complicated. This time 5 years ago I was 27 weeks pregnant with my youngest child, my last child. Even as I type that, my stomach churns and my mind does a little spin. You see, whilst I know that Billy Bob is going to be my last baby, there is still a part of me that can never quite believe that. The finality of it. The redundancy of me. The admission that I will never again feel that rush of dread/excitement/anticipation of realising that I could be pregnant. The tiniest flutter of the first movement and the whopping great kick in the ribs that takes your breath away.
When I had Bean, the Middle one, I remember going down to theatre on the way for a section and insisting on stopping and using the bathroom, not because I needed the toilet, but because I wanted those last few moments, alone with my baby, to recognise that this was the last time I would be fully responsible for his every need, to feel his heart inside me and to come to terms with him leaving the protection of my stomach. It was a moment of supreme peace and clarity.
When I had Bill, I didn’t get that. I didn’t have a section and so I didn’t have the warning that he would be leaving. Well, obviously I did, but I suppose the pains of labour aren’t as peace and clarity inducing as the gentle stroll down to theatre, knowing that in 20 mins it would all be over. It’s something I wish I had had the forethought to do. The last time I will ever hold a baby inside of me and I can’t really remember much apart from the pain and concentrating on getting through it.
Then before I knew it he was in my arms and everything we at once perfect and at the same time bittersweet because, I suppose I knew all along that in all likelihood that he was my last. Whilst I felt unable to definitively state I was having no more children, I knew in my heart that it wouldn’t be practical or sensible to have any more. Billy Bob was a surprise baby and childcare was going to cripple us, another child would drown us financially. So, without actually admitting to it, every time I looked at him I knew that this was the last time I’d go through this.
It was my last time to breast feed a baby, it was my last chance to finally master the use of reusable nappies. I would never again choose a pushchair and car seat combo, or go through the saga of picking out an appropriate name that we could both agree on. There would never be another first smile, or crawl, or first steps. It was the last time I’d experience the magic of the first words.
I found myself not wanting to start those firsts…Billy Bob was over 6 months before he started on solids, something both the other two were accomplished at by 4 months. I wasn’t in a rush to get him to give up breastfeeding or to stop getting up in the night. I saw both as opportunities to have more cuddles. Evidence that I was still needed. That my boy still needed me.
Whilst I delighted in every milestone, my heart also broke a little bit at everyone. It’s like a list that I made of everything fantastic that I ever wanted to do and each time I completed one, it was great, but at the back of my mind was the knowledge that soon it would be over. I’d be at the bottom of my list and wouldn’t know what to do next.
I found myself start to worry that soon he would be too big to comfortably be picked up for snuggles, that he wouldn’t think that a Mummy cuddle was the best thing in the world. Things which had never occurred to me with the older two now became matters of great importance. The day he called me into the bathroom to show me that he can touch both ends of the bath if he stretches out his hands and toes, his excitement was phenomenal, my heart broke a little more.
But gradually, I’m coming to notice something and I’m not entirely sure how it started. My first recognition of it was a few months ago when I realised that it was 9am and I hadn’t yet been woken by a child. When my baby boy asked to go to the shop for me to buy bread (he’s 4!!) when we’d run out. When the eldest offered to go and pick his brothers up from holiday club so that I could relax on a rare day off. All small things that are signifying a new era in my life. A whole new realm of “firsts” that I hadn’t imagined existed. That nobody had ever really told me would come. These firsts are every bit as precious to me. The birth of my last child signified an ending in some ways but it has also opened up a chapter that no one seems to talk about. A new life after babies and toddlers, a life where your children stop relying on you and start to rely on themselves and each other. And it’s different, and it’s emotional but it’s every bit as full of dread/excitement and as significant as those other firsts. And I’ve now realised that I’ve come to terms with having no more babies, and I’m looking forward to the coming years with my growing lads without regrets. Well, hopefully not too many.
It’s been a long week. I’ve worked some long hours recently and as a result Paul has been taking on most of the household and childcare duties. The problem with that is that we have glaringly different ideas of acceptable levels of tidiness in the home, and in dress codes for the kids. In my world odd socks are not appropriate attire, (unless it’s 6am and the only other option is no socks at all), in Paul’s world this is not only acceptable but also to be encouraged. Equally, my idea of housework is to actually do housework, his is to hide whatever he can and get the kids to hide the rest.
I’ve got my niece staying with me at the moment, she is two days younger than my eldest and I love her being here. Not only is she company for the eldest, but she is fun and I can pretend I have a daughter without all the hassle of actually having a daughter!! I get the good bits, the cuddles and the girlie chats, without having to 1) give birth, or 2) nag her about the amount of make up that she wears! Anyway, as you can probably guess, life is hectic in my house at the moment!
As the cleaning fairy appears to have given up and left me to my own pathetic devices, I spent a few hours yesterday evening cleaning and tidying up the downstairs, (I mean honestly, no one sees upstairs so why bother?) it actually looked presentable by the time I left home this morning. It would never have passed an inspection by my nana, but hey, if someone (God forbid) visited unexpectedly I could probably pretend I was yet to tidy up and apologise for the mess!
Anyway, I’d mopped and swept the floors, tided up and washed up, put the washing on etc. I went off to work safe in the knowledge that the house looked ok (ish). I received a few missed calls from the eldest during the course of the day and when I rung him back he said he’d sorted out whatever he wanted in the first place. He also asked if he and my niece could go out on the bikes. No problem, says I, be home for tea. It was raining, I told them not to make a mess.
I picked up the younger two and got home around five. I walked into the front room, all was well. It was when I got to the dining room that I started to notice that things weren’t quite as I had left them. The mop and bucket were sitting prominently in the centre of the room, there were a few bits of mud on the floor. The dustpan and brush were on the dining table. Nothing much. A bit annoying but 2 minutes of sorting it out and things would be fine. Then I walked into the kitchen. Ah, the kitchen. It was a sight to behold: first off the bin was open and there were about 50 sheets of kitchen roll covered in some sort of black gunk. There were also the remains of some sort of doughy cooking, which I quickly identified (from the half empty bottle on top of the pile) as burnt pancakes!
I cast my eyes over to the cooker hob. It was covered in smears from where someone (only eldest and niece were home) had obviously made a mess when cooking and had wiped up rather ineptly. The work tops shared the same coating of smeared food. The draining board contained a huge pile of semi clean pots, pans, glasses, and bowls. It was piled up like a game of jenga, ready to topple at any moment! Actually in the sink was a massive over sized sponge, covered in mud and the wall, cupboard door and floor had splashes and slightly muddy puddles. I felt my hackles rising. I’d cleaned this place. It had looked ok. Why did they do this? I was annoyed.
And then I realised something. I was getting annoyed but actually I was looking at this all wrong. I was looking at the mess, what I wasn’t seeing was what is was evidence of. Instead I was seeing it as a bad thing, they had ruined all my hard work, but in reality it was evidence of many things and none of them were bad.
It was evidence they had been cooking, that they had tried to cook something that they had never done before. And they had failed, and continued to try. They had also recognised the mess and had tried to sort it out, because they knew that would make me happy. The smears on the cookers and worktop were evidence that they had attempted to tidy up.
The muddy puddles and splashes were from where they had tried to wash the mud from their bikes, they had tried to make me happy and in the process had probably made more of a mess, but the intention was good. And I was proud of them. They had also given me evidence that they had been out of the house, having fun and not watching TV or playing XBox.
The huge pile of jenga style washing up proved that they’d not only tidied up their own mess but they had also tried to tidy up the breakfast things I hadn’t had time to wash up before I left the house.
Sometimes, people may not always get things right, but the sentiment behind what they do can mean even more than the action itself.
If cleanliness is next to godliness, those two kids will never be His right hand man, however. In that moment they were Angels to me.