Actual Blogs

Misplaced adoration

Yesterday my boy thought I was an actual Supermum. I know the truth. But I absolutely, wholeheartedly accepted the misplaced adoration. 

He originally wanted to dress up as Harry Potter. We bought a suitable Hogwarts tie and round glasses and would reuse a cloak previously intended for a magician, by him drawing a Gryffindor badge and Granny working out some strange way of attaching it. I’m still not sure how that happened. Granny is much better at this sort of thing. 

Anyway, at 6pm the night before, he decided he wanted to be Ron Weasley instead. We had mentioned several times that his ginger hair would make this choice more authentic, but of course he wanted to be Harry and have an eyeliner pencil scar on his head. Who wouldn’t? Until he didn’t. 

The bright idea came when he remembered that Ron has a broken wand and he could stick sellotape around it, and that Ron wears a jumper with a big ‘R’ on it and perhaps he could ask Granny to sew an R on his jumper. He is well aware that Granny is better at this sort of thing too. 

“Actually”, I said, “I think I could do that.”

Those were the words that did it. It was like I was as magic as Harry Potter himself. I was potentially as magic as Granny!! 

Now of course I am not. I can’t sew. Don’t be ridiculous. But I do have wonder-web. And this is the genius part… I said, “You know Ron’s jumpers are home made, so I should PURPOSEFULLY make it look a bit rubbish.”

He totally fell for it. Bless him. While I was cutting up an old Tshirt (with paper scissors) he checked I wasn’t making it too straight, “it SHOULD look a bit wonky mum, because Mrs Weasley makes them herself.”

Look at the photo – I definitely achieved this wish!


He went to school bouncing, so proud of his costume, and I am still basking in the glory usually bestowed on my amazing Mum. I am enjoying it. Clearly this will not last and his illusions will be shattered when he asks for the next sewing masterpiece – one that shouldn’t look home made. I will be back to the usual ‘let’s ask Granny if she can help’.

Messy

My boy’s room is always messy, but today he totally beat me in a ‘tidy your room’ argument. 

Me: Come in here. Your room is a tip!

7yo: I like it like that.

Me: You need to tidy it.

7yo: I don’t want to. It’s MY room. 

Me: But it’s a mess, there are things dumped at the end of your bed, you haven’t put your clean clothes away and you never make your bed

7yo: That’s how I like it. 

Me: You’re just messy. We’re tidying it right now. Go and put those pjs in the wash basket

7yo: Muuuuum….

Me: What now? 

7yo: Can you come here? 

Me: Why?

7yo: Have you seen the state of YOUR bedroom? 

Me: ……. (shit)

7yo: YOU’ve got a pile of stuff on the floor, you haven’t put your clothes away and YOUR bed is a mess. 

Me: ……. well…. that’s different. 

7yo: Why?

Me: …. well….. because….. that was your Dad. I’ll be talking to him too. 
Yep, he got me. Smart arse little shit. 

#MessyMotherMessyChild

The Mum / Life Balance

For quite a while now I’ve been focused on getting my Work/ Life balance right. In younger life we’re told to work hard, play hard. Then parenthood came along and I felt I needed to work hard, mum hard. So where does the play part go? 

When I do (happily) sign up to nights out with friends, I’m subconsciously calculating the correct amount I time I need to dedicate to my kid, before or after, to balance out time away from him. These are the rules that Mother Guilt has set for parents. 

It’s not actually about the night out, because of course he’s asleep for most of that – it’s the day after when I just can’t be arsed going on a day trip or getting the monopoly out. Sometimes I force myself to do stuff half-heartedly and end up grumpy and shouty which makes my hangover headache even worse, and my kid has a shit day. Nobody wins. Sometimes I think, it’s best to lay off the drink or come home early so that I can be extra special Supermum the next day. Pay the debt. Restore the Mum/ Life balance. But that’s not right either is it? Is it?

I look back on my pre-kid life where it felt normal, actually humanly natural, to balance a big Saturday night out with a restful Sunday. If I’ve thrown some big shapes at the discotheque, my body should have as little movement as possible the next day, otherwise my head may literally fall off my delicate body. Mathematically that makes sense. But of course life is not two-sided scales – life is 3D. Balance is much more complicated. 

My delicate body does need that rest. My head might not actually fall off, but it won’t be at its best. So why make my kid spend time time with my broken head? Is it not better to rest up and THEN be Supermum later? Or even tomorrow?

And here’s my big revelation…. my boy doesn’t actually want to spend every minute of his weekend with me. If I offer him a morning playing board games together he’ll hesitate for a millisecond before saying ‘Erm, maybe later mum. Can I play on the Xbox first?’ 

I’m now seeing that Mother Guilt doesn’t exclusively visit parents. My boy also has an inner voice telling him that he SHOULD want to spend his every waking moment glued within his mother’s loving embrace. But honestly, 3 minutes is plenty. Perhaps longer if we’re snuggled together on the sofa watching a film. Otherwise, he has boy things to do. He wants to spend time with other people, he wants to spend time on his own. That’s OK. In fact that’s fucking brilliant. 

So here I am, with my feet up, writing, dossing, resting. And there he is, in a different room, happily playing without me. Later we might watch a film, snuggle up on the sofa, together but still resting. This week is half term, I’ll be back in full-on mothering mode, and I will Mother the shit out of him, as my best self, rested and all the better for a night out with adult friends. 

Mother Guilt ignored. Mum / Life Balanced restored. 

Galentine’s Day

Apparently today is Galentine’s Day. I had no idea. It’s a day to celebrate how much we love our gal pals. I’ve just read that it was a joke in a sitcom, that then caught on. 

Luckily I celebrated quite hard with some of my girls on Friday (see previous post) but I haven’t sent them any cards or flowers. 

So here’s to my gorgeous girls nearby and on far off shores. Love you ladies. No cards or flowers today. But I promise I will hug you or comedy-honk your boobs when I next see you. You can choose. Xxx

Feel free or share with your own Girls to send them a Galentine’s message (and celebrate a day you previously never knew existed). Comedy boob-honking is entirely optional.
#GalentinesDay

#BingeFriending

Girls’ night minutes

One of the best things about a night out with the girls is the flurry of messages the next day. It’s like receiving minutes from a business meeting, reminding you of the discussion, decisions made and any actions before the next meeting.

The minutes helpfully also contain photos that help jog your memory of the end of the night when snap chat was introduced… including ones you really don’t remember happening.

Here are my minutes from a meeting of former attendees of Glossop comprehensive school, who met in Glossop public houses for a period of several hours. Seven attendees, three apologies.

Let the official record state that last night a meeting of 7 ladies concluded the following:

1. A recognised cocktail-making expert in our group decreed that the Porn Star Martinis in Victoria Lounge are of the highest grade, equaling only those made in her own household. Samples were provided and the group agreed to further (immediate) consumption. Action: all future meeting to include PSMs. Oh, and cheese platters.

2. The group discussed hair removal techniques. Action: anyone suffering from ‘Jungle Minge’ should consider waxing to remove their ‘thigh-brows’.

3. The group discussed their experiences with nits and fleas. Conclusions: 1) if you are in a hotel bath with fleas jumping on the water – get out. 2) The woman seen in a Disneyland restaurant, picking fleas out of her hair and studying them is officially ‘a fucking minger’.

4. The group found themselves laughing uncontrollably several times. Action required: quickly swallow whatever is in your mouth to avoid spraying (wasting) alcohol, lean into the person next to you and rock slowly forwards and backwards whilst wheezing that your face hurts from laughing. Option to slap yourself or your friend on the thigh during swaying motion. Repeat as necessary.

5. The next meeting will be scheduled shortly, but a future off-site conference is now being planned for a weekend in the sun. The agenda for that conference will include beers at the airport, disco dancing and sun lounging. The option of 7am yoga was raised and seconded, but the other members immediately declined that offer in favour of investment in long term bed-dwelling and fry-ups.

Girls’ nights are officially the best meetings – fact!

End of minutes.

(Photographic evidence of meeting provided by Snapchat)

The F.F.S. Fitness Programme

I’m really enjoying my new FFS Fitness programme. No classes, DVDs or special sports equipment required.

I just wait until I’m almost ready to leave the house then run round every room, and up and down my stair case looking for shoes, then keys, then phone, then bag, then then then… Until I scream “For Fuck’s Sake”!

Bonus fitness points for making it passed the front door or even to the car before doing the final dash. 

Anyone else taken up this craze?

Embrace

If I asked you to describe your body, what’s the first thing you’d think of?

I’ve just been to the cinema to watch a documentary called ‘Embrace’ where people were asked that same question, and their responses were… fat; disgusting; not perfect; I need to lose weight. It was a bit shocking. People of all shapes and sizes all responded in the same way.

Then the film maker, Taryn Brumfitt, points out that almost everyone she asked made a negative comment about the way their body looked, but no-one comments on what their body allows them to do. Her statement is “This body of mine, it’s not an ornament, it’s a vehicle.”

It makes you think doesn’t it?

Our bodies are amazing. They are so clever, and they allow us to get to places, have life’s adventures and perhaps even create new life. How come we take all that for granted but criticise if they are not the ‘perfect shape’ to LOOK at?

embrace1

Now I’m not a person who spends that much time thinking about what I look like. I’m really not that bothered most of the time. Let me give you an example…

I once met a friend of a friend who does cosmetic treatments. Within an hour of meeting her she had focused in on a frown line above my nose (not prompted by me) and told me, “I could easily remove that for you”. If she could have read my mind she would have heard two things: First my desire to twat her square in the face, and second a very sarcastic tone which said, “I’m about three stone over weight love, do you think a care about a little line on my forehead?”

But I just smiled and said, “Oh it doesn’t really bother me”. Now to be fair, she was a lovely lady and she was talking with a very positive intension – she meets women every day who obsess about they way they look and she has a way to make them feel better and more confident. What’s wrong with that?

But, let me be honest, even though I don’t care about that line on my face enough to want to remove it , tit’s still the first thing I notice every time I see a photo of my face. Let me be REALLY honest, even though I’m not bothered enough to diet, I still delete the pictures where I think I look like a total heffer, and share the ones where someone else is standing in front of me and taking focus away from my size.

It seems it’s part of our wiring to care about how we look and how others judge our appearance. Because they do. We do. I do! And now I’m questioning why. If I know it’s wrong, why do I care? Why do I judge others?

The answer, according to Taryn, is everywhere. We all know about the ‘bad’ magazines, and the photo-shopping and the adverts for diets  and beauty products that don’t work. God-damn money making twats, selling the impossible.

embrace3

Yes, of course. But it’s not just ‘them’. She pointed out some of the ways we talk to each-other…

“Oh you’ve lost weight, you look amazing.”

“I daren’t have a cake, I don’t want to get fat.”

“I’ve got to get back to the gym, my thighs are like tree trunks”

Holy fuck. We say this in front of our kids, and then wonder why they start using appearance comments as insults.

The real standout of the film for me was a lady who had been badly injured in a fire and was scarred across her face and body. She received supposedly well-meaning comments that she was lucky to have such a good husband who stayed with her. Which made her question – Is that all I was before? A pretty face?  Was there not more to me than how I looked? She ended with the killer line… “Actually I am pretty awesome.”

I’m not ashamed to say that I cried.

embrace2

Thought-provoking, heart-breaking, hope-inspiring. And a whole lot of fun too. I laughed out loud several times, not least when Taryn visited a surgeon who told her what ‘normal breasts’ look like. She has even better self-restraint than me!

Please, PLEASE find a way to see this film.

Watch the Embrace trailer.


Here’s how you can see Embrace

There are screenings across the UK now. But you wont find this film as a normal cinema listing. It’s an independent, crowd-funded film, being promoted via Demand Films, and Taryn herself is in the UK hosting some of the events. (She is a-may-zing. I heart her.)

The idea is that people like me, who feel passionate about sharing this story with more people, will create demand for more screenings, and host our own events. And hopefully that will create demand for more and more screenings. You see?

Find a screening near you

Or host your own event.

There’s no financial outlay. Demand films help you set everything up at your local cinema and help you promote it to your friends and local community. If enough people buy a ticket the show goes ahead. If not enough tickets are sold, it is cancelled and no money is taken from people’s payment cards.

Frankly my dear….

I did a Step class today and I was terrible. Really terrible. Out of time, sweaty, noisy breathing, a mess. But do you know what, I didn’t care. I genuinely didn’t give a toss if people looked at me, laughed at me or felt sorry for me. It made me realise that I have grown a confidence, a tougher skin that allows me to do things I want, whether I’m good at them or not. 

I’ve always said that as a mother, my one wish for my child is confidence. I want him to feel that he can have a go at anything he wants, and not be held back by fear of what others think. So I suppose I need to make sure he has at least one role model for that. 

I’ve wanted to do a Step class again for a long time, but as it’s been 20 years since I last did one (are they now classed as Vintage aerobics classes?), I was a little worried about my ability. This week I finally bit the bullet and booked in. 

Everyone had their place, and I was the new girl so I was placed in the only gap – right at the front of the class, and it felt like my white T-shirt was the brightest thing in the room. Not for long though, that quickly became my face. 

But I had a weird sort of muscle memory that told me ‘you can do this, you’ve got the beat and it’s fun. Do the hard versions, add the jumps… yes girl, pump up the actual jam!!’. 

My confidence was growing. 

However muscle memory soon became muscle screams when my calves remembered that they haven’t been pulled like this for two decades, and you know, what the fuck was I thinking?

My lungs and heart also joined in, telling me in no uncertain terms, “You’re over 40, you’ve done practically nothing since you got your dizzy disease, I think we might die!”

Brain: “Erm yes, hello! Dizzy brain here, wondering if you’re even contemplating those weird jumpy spins the teacher is adding in. Just a thought… if you do that I’m telling knees to give way and your sizable arse will soon be crashing right through that step. Understand?”

My confidence was dropping dramatically. 

Teachers always tell you that you can stick with the ‘easy version’ if you want to, but 30 minutes in and I was struggling with even that. This is the moment I remembered that I can do what I want. I don’t have to keep up with the group, it doesn’t matter if I’m on top of my step with my arms in the air, when everyone else is doing a complicated squat/ twist combo on the floor. I’m here to enjoy myself. And so I did. 

Who cares if I’m at the front? Who cares if everyone is looking in my direction and I’m clearly shit at this? Who cares if my tits and other wobbly bits are having their own disco? The music was great, I was pleased to be taking part and I was filled with memories of being young and fit and loving life. 

When I stopped giving a damn I had such a great time. I smiled, I sang along to Rihanna and I made up my own moves. And afterwards I told the teacher that I loved it and will be back next week, and she looked pleased. I think. 

Not giving a damn is brilliant. Enjoying something you’re not good at is still possible. Perhaps I’ll get better, perhaps I won’t. Perhaps I’ll be known as ‘that woman who can’t really do it but always laughs’. Perhaps I’ll be in agony tomorrow and regret ever going. 

I’m not going to worry about it. Right now I’m still smiling. 

Show us your man-tits

This really, REALLY gets my goat. 

(Man asked to remove his top during a talent show audition)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… If this were a woman who had a great rack, we’d all mentally congratulate her and admire her attributes, possibly even be a bit jealous and remember a time when we had better tits, before age and children made them sag, wither or entirely disappear. 

But if an audience of mainly men was wolf-whistling and shouting for her to take her top off, there would be absolute fucking uproar. The TV programme would get loads of complaints, from furious people saying that we should judge her by her singing talent and not her other ‘assets’. 

So why the fuck do we think it’s acceptable to reverse it and treat men this way? 

If you didn’t see this on Let it Shine, BBC1, I’ll explain. This man, Harry, walked out on stage to an almost instant reaction from the panel and audience about the way he looked. Before he spoke people were whistling and fanning their faces. He was asked to show his torso, and he said he would if the judges gave him a high score for his singing performance. 

Why the fuck should he feel he needs to make such a promise? It’s like a sleazy casting couch, but in public, and celebrated on prime time TV! 

I see so many articles about how we make women feel that their appearance is all that matters and we need to change that perception. Young girls thinking they have no worth if they don’t have a flat tummy, perfect tits and a thigh gap. We all know it’s wrong. We all know that we need to tackle this. 

We have already seen a massive movement away from the Miss World competitions, Benny Hill characters and Carry On films of olden days. People are tackling the magazines, cat walks and beauty industry to use ‘real women’ in campaigns and stop the body shaming. We’re better than that now. We know that we respect women for what they can DO, instead of how they look. 

So again, why the hell do we think it’s acceptable for us to reverse it and treat men this way now. 

I can appreciate when a man looks good. I can appreciate a woman looks good. I might comment on it, the same way I would comment if someone is funny, clever or talented. I would not ever ask or set any expectation them to remove their clothes in public, so I could get a better look. 

Here are the times it is OK to ask a stranger (male or female) to remove their clothes so you can get a better look:

  1. When you are a medical expert who needs to examine them
  2. In a bra fitting service of an underwear shop 
  3. In a strip show where the person has made it perfectly clear that they have consented to show their body during their performance. 

The point is, if we get angry when women are subjected to ‘sexist taunts’, we have to be angry when it happens to men. 

That’s what equality means. Equal. Treated the same.