I didn’t know (poem)

I didn’t know when I was a child,

what it meant to be a mum.
I didn’t count how many times
you wiped my shitty bum.

I never asked just how it felt
to be deprived of sleep.
I didn’t think my hungry cries
would make your nipples weep.

I didn’t know hard it was
to feed me through the night,
And never get a moments peace
to even have a shite.

I didn’t realise when I learned
to crawl and walk and speak,
That your knees and back and patience
would soon be up shit creek.

I didn’t know the sacrifices
a mum makes for their child
I didn’t see the work it takes
to stop us going wild.

I didn’t know the heights of stress
kids put their mothers through.
I never checked the effect
my selfish actions had on you.

I didn’t know my happiness
was always your priority.
I didn’t know how much kids take
their toll on mum’s sobriety.

It took a while for me to see
that you were more than ‘Mum’,
My feisty female role model,
like I hoped I could become.

Now that I’m a mother
in a family of my own.
I feel the power of loving your kid
with every frigging bone.

And some days it’s ok to think
your kid’s a little shit,
I’m sure you had those thoughts of me,
when I look back on it.

Now I can appreciate
the crap I put you through.
I can marvel at the lengths you went
to make my dreams come true.

Now I know just how much help
my Granny must have been.
Now I’m a mum, I need you
as the Granny on my team.

Now it’s my turn to sing your songs
to a gorgeous child that’s mine
But you should know
‘You are (and always will be) my sunshine’.

i didnt know 2

#mothersday #poemsformums

I am THAT parent

Muttering every sodding swear word under the fucking sun. 

Today I am THAT parent. The one who totally forgot that it was non-twatting-uniform day and took their kid to school in their twatting uniform. 

I bet the look of horror on both our faces when we arrived in the playground was comedy for others. Followed by “Muuuuuuuuuuuu-uuuum!!!”  

Panic run. Panic phone call. Panic clothes exchange. Panic sprint back to classroom. Quick change in the toilets. 

Out of breath and very thankful that my mum was at my house. 

Red Nose Day. Red Face Day. #nontwattinguniformday

Pair-enting

It seems that in most households where there are two parents, there’s one who does the lion’s share of parenting*. For some this is by choice, and for others it’s through circumstance because the other spends more hours at work. It’s physically possible for one of them to be with the children more than the other. But alongside that physical ability comes a mental responsibility, and it’s that part that is exhausting.

Let me give you an example – taking kids to school. The act of moving a child from Location A to Location B. Easy. Just like a taxi service. But hang on, there are a few other elements to build in, because the person who regularly carries out that task of Taxi Parent also takes the responsibility for knowing everything else about school:

  • The Taxi Parent checks if they have homework, reading, a project, a spelling test
  • They read the notes put in their bag, remember they need to take in money for a trip, for some charity day, for lunch
  • They are the person who makes sure they have the right clothes ready – their uniform is washed, new gym shorts bought, coat and wellies actually come home
  • They make sure the child turns up in a costume or non-uniform clothes on celebration days, and on class photo day they dig out the whitest shirt, comb their child’s hair and perhaps clean their shoes.

And so on. And fucking so on.

AND they also become the person who gets to know the other parents; plans time to get the children together outside school; organises helping each other out so one of you can go to an appointment or a meeting that clashes with the school run. The Taxi Parent becomes part of the life saving network we need to call on from time to time, or every Wednesday. They help each other out when one forgets the £1 for a red nose, or that a costume is required TOMORROW and they offer to lend you stripy tights or a magicians hat (they are luckily not using that day).

The other parent, who goes to work very early and comes home very late, probably doesn’t even ponder on these things for a second. Even on the odd occasion they take their child to school, would still ask the Taxi Parent if the child has everything they need because ‘you just know these things’. Because you usually do that parenting task, it is therefore assumed your responsibility even when you’re not there. You’re just temporarily delegating the delivery.

But here’s a really crazy idea. What if it wasn’t? What if the preparation of tasks wasn’t invisibly tied to the delivery of tasks. What if, we could split the responsibility for each task in two?  Let’s try some non-parenting examples first….

  • A pilot flies the plane, but doesn’t build the plane, plan who sits where, or serve snacks to the passengers.
  • The waiter who serves the meal in a posh restaurant didn’t cook the meal – and actually the chef who did cook it, probably didn’t peel all the potatoes.
  • The rock star who sings the song doesn’t necessarily write it and play every instrument.

There are teams of people and they work together.

Sometimes the rock star does write the song, because they want to, they can do, and that’s their choice. That’s wonderful.

So can we apply that to pair-enting? It might be possible….

  • The parent who puts dinner on the table could be supported by another who plans the meals, does the shopping, or even prepares and freezes a meal at the weekend.
  • The parent who dresses the child could be supported by another who puts a wash on, or empties the washer or perhaps irons some clothes.
  • The parent who bathes the child could be supported by another who cleans the bathroom (or organises a cleaner if you can afford it)
  • The parent who makes sure homework is completed could be supported by the person who talks to their child about their homework topic of Romans or practices spellings while on a car journey.
  • The parent who got up early with the kids on Saturday to take them to a sports activity, could be supported by another who gets up with the kids the on a Sunday and gives them an extra hour sleep or a bedside brew.

I know not all of these work for every couple or family, we’re all different. Single parents, I fucking salute you if you carry all this on your own. But are there maybe other ways we can ask each other, friends and extended family to help us with the supporting roles?

Sometimes the parent who takes on the responsibility for tasks doesn’t even think to ask for help from the other, who therefore don’t know it’s a problem until they are sobbing by the washing machine screaming that they just can’t do any more sodding washing – I have definitely been guilty of that in the past – “but he might do it wrong and shrink something!”. Yep, he might. But so might I – actually there’s no ‘might’ about it, I’ve ruined loads of clothes over the years. We learn from experience, and so will our partners.

We can spread the load, we can be part of a team. We might even learn to trust each other – given lots of time and a few mistakes made on the way – but wouldn’t that be worth it?

  • I’ll pack the clothes in the suitcase, you make sure we have all the toiletries.
  • I’ll buy him new swimming shorts, you take him swimming at the weekend.
  • I’ll buy the birthday present, look up directions to the party venue and make sure there’s petrol in the car, and you can take her to the party.

Pair-enting is a gift we can give to each other. Our kids see everyone being part of a team, and of course as soon as they are old enough they can do their own bloody washing. Then hopefully they’ll grow up to create families of their own where pair-enting is just, well normal.

*I’ve not done any scientific research, I’m too lazy. These are just my own observations, and you should absolutely feel free to think I’m talking out of my bottom. Or share your own blog with actual evidence that proves me wrong.

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. 

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.