Please Mind The Gap

This morning, after three phantom poos, I heard a fourth “Muuuuuummm! I need a poo!” He must have sensed I was about to sit down on the loo myself. Twenty minutes later, he was still sat there, insisting he hadn’t quite finished whilst I danced around, my ‘post two kids’ bladder bulging.

“You sit right there on the potty, Mummy, like a good girl. We don’t want an accident.”

“Funnily enough, I don’t think my size 16 arse will fit on a potty designed for a two-year-old. I’d like to get in the shower soon as I need to drive you to nursery and your father to bloody work, before attempting to get myself and your disinterested brother breakfast. Just admit you’re finished! FFS!” I didn’t actually say that. I couldn’t speak as I was concentrating so hard on not wetting myself. Jesus, why didn’t I do my pelvic floor exercises?!

Meanwhile, downstairs, I could hear the six-month-old with separation anxiety, screaming, and the 35-year-old muttering something obscene, not really under his breath, as he tried to get ready for work.


HELP!! Just bloody take it!

Motherhood is said to be the most selfless job in life. However, I can’t help but think that there is a certain arrogance about it. We want to leave a legacy. We create something in our own image to love. And quite often, we want to have someone to wipe our arses when we are old and infirm, in the way we have wiped theirs when they were new and needy. This rather narcissistic act of having kids has its pitfalls. Our children mirror ourselves, both physically and in personality, and sometimes these are images of ourselves that we would rather not see. My eldest son is a mirror image of his dad as a toddler. Yet he is not shy like his father. Instead he is loud and gregarious like me. He does, however, have his father’s bad temper (red haired rage) and is horribly stubborn. Unfortunately, he gets the whole ‘stubborn’ vibe from me.

My messy kids in my messy house
I cringe when he refuses to back down. Partly because he makes a fuss in public and I want to die of embarrassment at being THAT mum but mainly because I hate that I bequeathed him with such a ‘gift’. He is fiercely independent. Despite the fact he is putting his shoes on the wrong feet he refuses help, which is usually why I am a good half hour late for bloody everything these days. (Along with a few ill times poos. The kids, not me) Tragically though, I am just like him.


Joseph's Diets; This week we'll mostly be eating...

Nothing is ever quite as you remember it. Gold Bars, recently purchased from Home & Bargain, a Mecca for throwback chocolate, just aren’t as tasty as they were when I was a kid. (Pause for a quick aside. Despite what the sign says, I refuse to call it Home Bargains. I’m Scouse. It’s Home AND Bargain. Singular Bargain. Don’t even try and question me. I’m shutting down that conversation right now) Chesney Hawkes probably isn’t as fit as the 8-year-old me thought he was and I refuse to introduce my kids to the wonders of Thundercats, just in case it was, in fact, shit. Some things are best kept in the past, preserved by glory and nostalgia. Certain aspects of your child’s early years are also kept this way. It’s lovely to think you had a joyfully happy baby, who rarely cried and was a walking, talking, potty trained six-month-old child genius, even if, in reality, they were a squawking brat of fairly average intelligence.
To some extent, the sands of time do smear Vaseline over the lenses of our rose-coloured spectacles and everything is in soft focus, all warm and fuzzy. Unless something traumatic has happened, by the end of the toddler years, most people choose to remember mainly the yummy, cuddly sweet bits of those early days. Or maybe that is just me. I’m a bugger for nostalgia but I can’t help but think that, now baby number 2 is here, nostalgia is being a bit of a bugger for me, causing me more stress and anxiety than the present.

This week, we have embarked upon weaning our six-month-old. We have chosen to do it at the same time as potty training our two-and-a-half-year-old, so it’s literally all shits and giggles in our house right now. Except, in all honesty, there are a lot more shits going on and that is mainly on the potty-training side of things. For some unknown reason, Joe just doesn’t get solids. To the point that I am considering a DNA test because I’m just not sure how someone who is 50% me can be so disinterested in food. James, my eldest, took to solids straight away. And this is where I start to get all stressy.


Dick (head) Whittington Having It All

There is something about maternity leave that makes me want to reassess my existence. Having a baby is obviously earth shatteringly life changing, so I suppose it is to be expected that you stop for a second, wipe baby sick from your hair, remove the baby shit from the walls and wonder how the bloody hell you got to hate Eamon and Ruth so much and how soon you will need to arrange that christening to ensure your baby will get into the only outstanding school in the borough. (The answer to that last question is always Pretty Damn Quick, even if your baby is fresh from the uterus. It’s so bloody competitive and church schools always require for you to be on afternoon tea term with the vicar/priest. So cynical and so horribly true)
As the end of my maternity leave with James approached, in January 2015, I did enough naval gazing/night feeds to decide that life needed to change. Specifically, I decided it was a really great idea to learn to drive, join Slimming World (I was a monster chubster almost 12 months after giving birth) and look for a new job all at the same time. Because having a 1 year old and working clearly wasn’t enough to keep me busy/stressed to the max.
I absolutely hated the job I was doing and going back to work floored me. Not necessarily because I desperately wanted to be with my baby. Hell, I’m not Ma Walton! The job completely drained me and I was, quite frankly, shit at it. By the end of my first week back in work, I was applying for jobs internally. Within 6 weeks, I was starting a new, much less soul destroying job, which happily included more money. By the end of 2015, I had passed my driving test (Christ knows how. Google Maureen from Driving School and you will get the idea), lost two stone, changed jobs, sold the house and was pregnant again (and well on my way to piling that two stone back on and a bit more, besides. I don’t believe in doing things by half). Last year was pretty busy. This year has been a bit quieter, arrival of baby number 2 aside, but now I’ve adjusted to life as a mum of two (hahahaha! who the f@^k am I kidding?!), once again I am reviewing the last 33 years and 8 months and realising it’s high time I Got My Shit Together™. You know, like a proper adult.


Instinctively Clueless

My favourite piece of advice is “Don’t be a dick.” It applies to every imaginable situation. It transcends race, religion, nationality and sexuality. As with anything worthwhile in life, it even has its own Twitter hashtag. What better endorsement?

A couple of weeks ago, however, I was a bit of a dick. It’s not an isolated incident. It does happen. I’m only human and I am remarkably good at ignoring my own advice. I say my own, I hardly invented it. In fact, if you look at ‘Just a Normal Mummy’ on Facebook, you’ll see a pretty fantastic article that she wrote a year ago about not being a dick. Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago, I was waxing lyrical about the virtues of the sleep training program we used. I tried not to do it smugly but I genuinely thought we had nailed it. Turns out, had we balls! I shouldn’t have been so goddamn cocky. Jemma, you dick.


My Miscarriage and Moving On

Social media is a strange thing. Like a flock of technology peacocks, we display our practically perfect lives in the most bizarre ways. Every gym workout, every beer, every “cheeky” Nandos (I mean, really? What exactly is cheeky about it? It’s a bloody Portuguese chicken restaurant!), every picture of your child in their new school uniform is shared. Even what you had for your tea. If you didn’t Instagram it, did you even eat it? A friend, who is anti-social media said recently “Who gives a shit what you had for your tea? Why do I need to see a picture of that?” She isn’t wrong. We can’t bear for anyone to think we are anything less than gleefully happy.

Of course, there are a few exceptions. The passive aggressive, Jeremy Kyle style over sharers who play out their dramas for all to see. Usually, these are people I haven’t seen since school or the distant relatives who I can’t quite bring myself to delete, due to entertainment value. Yes, I’m a nosey bastard and I’m not ashamed to admit it. But we’ll skip all that for now.

I should point out that I am as guilty as anyone on social media. Yes, I am an unapologetic baby bore but I am fairly typical of my age group. Most people I know, aged between about 28 and 40, are fully engaged in a huge baby boom. Facebook is filled with scans of fertilised eggs or a child’s first poo in a potty or statuses bemoaning lack of sleep. (Christ, don’t I know about lack of sleep! See my last blog). In these desperate attempts to portray our shiny happy families, there is no mention of any other side to all this unprotected sex that 30 somethings are having with wild abandon. No one dares hint at any heartbreak.

No one dares share their baby news until 12 weeks have passed. Except for me. I couldn’t hold my own water with any of my pregnancies (not literally; incontinence has come AFTER my kids were born). I was so ridiculously excited that I was having a baby, I absolutely had to tell everyone! Not on social media but, among family and friends, it was common knowledge. I honestly didn’t get why I should keep it secret and I still don’t.


Sleepless in Brighton Le Sands

At 33, I’ve seen virtually all my friends marry and have at least one baby. Some, like me, are on their second. To date, no one has been insane enough to have gone on to have their third but I’m sure that in a couple of years’ time, one couple will get very pissed on a very rare night out and find themselves with a little “surprise” forty weeks later. That’s if the divorce parties don’t start first (apparently, it’s trendy to celebrate the death of a dysfunctional relationship). Statistically, at least, it is inevitable that I will know at least one divorced couple before I bid goodnight to my thirties.

There are numerous reasons marriages fail; growing apart, infidelity, small children… In fact, the third reason can often lead to the first and second reason. Nothing heralds the end of romance in your marriage like having kids. Whether it’s because your husband has seen you crap yourself in childbirth or because the majority of your conversations revolve around the bowel movements of your child, a shift in dynamics is guaranteed. Especially if your children don’t sleep. Sleep deprivation ruins marriages. In fact, sleep deprivation ruins lives and it is something that neither the NCT, Gina Ford or Sarah bloody Beeny can prepare you for. (I swear to god that woman has been pregnant for at least 18 years. No wonder she and her husband bought a derelict castle. It was the only place that they could house all their kids) I hate the cliché of ‘nothing can prepare you.’ It’s so bloody patronising. However, it is, rather devastatingly, true.



Losing My Mind On Mat Leave

It’s 5 months since I started my maternity leave with my second (and last!) child. I have now reached the stage where I go beyond disappointment and right into rage on a Friday, when Eamon and Ruth present This Morning. It feels like they are constantly on the verge of an argument and through every contrived laugh, you can almost hear Ruth fume “Oh just fuck off, Eamon…hahaha.” Their real life marriage just isn’t a patch on the TV marriage of Holly and Phil. You know, the one we all aspire to. The one where you don’t have to have the obligatory sex at birthdays, Christmas and August bank holiday. The one where you genuinely laugh together every day. The one where you aren’t a nag and he picks his dirty socks up off the bedroom floor.

I think it’s clear from the amount of thought I have given to This Morning that it’s getting to the point that I have lost all sense of myself and what is actually important in life. So should I really consider going back to work now and is there ever a right time to go back, if at all?

In all honesty, it’s actually more financially worthwhile for me to stay at home. Childcare is expensive. It is easy to understand why
so many families are now opting to have a stay at home parent, when nursery fees amount to more than your take home pay each month. Even when my eldest gets his free childcare hours in April next year, austerity will fully hit our household. However, I’m not sure I can put a price on my mental health.