Just a man

This week the Official White House photographer Pete Souza revealed his favourite photos of Obama

Looking at these photos I found myself singing that Flash Gordon song – not the noisy ‘Flash, Ah Ah. Saviour of the universe” part, but the slower bit of ‘Just a man, with a man’s courage”.

I think these photos show why Obama has been so popular (whatever your own politics). Because whatever tough job he’s had to do, he’s shown us that he’s also ‘just a man’ – a human that we can relate to.

He’s not an unreachable, perfect, presidential superhero. He’s shown all sides of himself: a person who can be joyful, fearful, compromised and totally fucked off – even this week, shaking hands with a man he clearly thinks is a total cockwomble!!

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Just a man: a husband, a father, a team member, a friend.

All of those things are just as important as ‘a President’.

To me that’s inspirational.

I’m a mum, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a colleague and an Unbalanced Woman who spouts out a load of crap in my blog. I’m far from perfect at any of them.

I’m not a superhero with one super power. I’m an Unbalanced Woman who does a million things as best she can. Like everyone does.

That’s what these photos show me.


“Just a man, with a man’s courage

He knows nothing but a man
But he can never fail.

No one but the pure of heart
may find the golden grail
Oh oh oh oh”

(Queen)

Full set of photos here:http://9gag.com/gag/ajqEV90

Therapy

Question: What do you do when your Head-voice and your Heart-voice are at war in your head? When one is saying… ‘Do it, do it!’ and the other is saying “You stupid fuckwit of a woman – don’t even think about it!”

Answer: Get yourself a therapist

This one is hard to write. I’ve been putting it off for a while. But as I started this blog as a sort of therapy, I always promised myself that I’d write honestly about the ACTUAL therapy I’ve had this year. So here goes….

When I became unwell last year, the hardest part of the initial journey was that I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Lying in an MRI scanner and listening to the mechanical beeps for an hour, I was mentally writing my will and thinking about leaving my 5 year old boy without a mum. But once diagnosed (with a Vestibular Dysfuction*) I was able to concentrate on getting physically better. Knowledge is power as they say. Once I knew what I was dealing with, I could fight it.

*Vestibular Dysfuction – when the brain can’t properly orientate and you feel constantly dizzy, sea-sick and can only move about slowly, acting as if you are seriously drunk – without actually drinking. It’s shit!

For the next six months I had a goal, a plan and a belief that I could return to ‘normal’. I made steady progress through Neuro Physio (re-training the brain to balance) and I could cope. I was absolutely determined to become me again, and be able to do everything I previously could.

Having that vision and that belief was, I’m sure, a contributor to me making such great progress.

So when I had a relapse in February and started getting worse again, I hit a new low – possibly worse than my first MRI, because I was back to having no knowledge. Now I was wondering if this was going to be an on-going cycle – did I have to accept that I may never get better? It hit me really hard. My Neuro Physio told me that I needed to come to terms with the fact that this could be it. Even with all the brain training, I may only ever be able to do 80% of what I could before. The idea of living with this illness forever was just heart breaking. The idea of not being able to do everything that I could normally do, and everything I had planned for my life, was overwhelming.

One thought kept coming back to me – Disney Land. It’s been my dream for most of my life, and I’ve promised myself that I will go as soon as my boy is tall enough to go on all the big rides.

therapy-mickey
Mickey became a symbol of everything I was losing

I couldn’t accept it. Mentally, I just couldn’t cope. Micky Mouse became a symbol of everything I was losing. The me I was losing. The me my family was losing and the limits that would put on them too. I lost my will to fight, and just became sad and angry. I didn’t know whether I needed to keep fighting to get better, or to accept defeat and make new plans – ones that wouldn’t ever involve Micky fucking Mouse. (I also started swearing a lot more, and taking my anger out on fictional mice!)

I realised that I needed help. My Neuro Physiotherapist was a wonderful woman helping me retrain my brain and make physical brain progress, but I needed help with the emotional side of my brain too. I needed to sort out how to THINK – how to DECIDE – how to KEEP GOING mentally.

So a made an appointment with a Counselling therapist, and it’s possibly the best thing I ever did. To be honest, for the first 3 sessions, I really wasn’t sure! I felt that she didn’t understand the problem. But to be fair to her, it was ME that didn’t understand my own emotions. I wasn’t giving her the right details. I was still too angry at my situation. I was linking my physical condition and my mental state too closely together, I couldn’t separate them – when I felt physically poorly I was sad, and when I felt physically OK I felt… well, OK, but overwhelmingly frustrated by my limitations.

The regular fight in my head was:

Physical Brain: I’m so tired. The more your push me, the more I need to rest. You can’t do everything you used to – accept it; do less; enjoy the quieter life. Let’s sit on the sofa and have a brew.

Emotional Brain: But that’s not who I AM! I’m missing out on LIFE. I don’t enjoy quiet, I NEED the variety, I need the party, I need to be who I WAS. 

My Emotional Brain thinks in shouty capitals a lot!

The break-through happened in my therapy session after I did the worse thing I could have possibly done as a person with balance issues – I went on a roller coaster. It was definitely an act of rebellion. I knew it was an absolutely stupid risk that could totally fuck up all the neuro-physio progress that I’d made. But I also felt that I was leading a restricted life, and it was breaking my heart. It was head versus heart, or my Physical Brain versus my Emotional Brain, and Emotional Brain was now calling the shots. It wanted to know what would happen, like a child pushing boundaries… I needed to know if the Disney dream was ever going to be achievable. 

I picked a day when all the circumstances were right – I was feeling reasonably good, I had people with me who could look after me if I crashed into a spinning nausea, I had the next 3 days off work if I needed to recuperate. I was still scared shitless though! Physical and Emotional brains were battling in my head as I queued up:

EB: It’s the Dora the Explorer roller coaster, it’s fine for a 6 year old – how bad can it be?

PB: You absolutely crazy fuckwit of a woman – there’s a sign that says ‘Not suitable for people with motion sickness’ – that’s an understatement for what you have!

But because I’m either feistily determined or stupidly stubborn (you can decide which), I did it. And it wasn’t at all as bad as I expected. So… I went on three more, each progressively bigger and faster.

I’d love to say that was the moment when I realised I was better, but oh no, I just got the consequences later. Somehow the adrenaline must have kept me going, but later that day I was crying, and the next day I paid the price properly. I felt awful. I could hardly move off the sofa. I thought I’d broken myself and I had a new reason to be angry – at myself – for being a crazy fuckwit of a woman (PB: Well, I told you, didn’t I?!) However, by the next day I felt a lot better, and the day after that, better again (EB: Ha. I knew it -it was worth the risk)

And this is where my therapist, Jeanette, comes in. She helped me realise that instead of being a straight battle between Physical and Emotional thoughts, I’d rather cleverly brought in a third voice in my head – ‘Intellectual Brain’. IB was the one who made sure I took the risk at the right time, considered the consequences, and made sure I was ready. It sounds so simple, but she was right. She helped me to think about other times I’d used this third voice to make decisions, and that this was the voice I had learned to trust. I needed to listen to them all, but IB was like the mediator.

This was my turning point. I started to feel more positive about making decisions, taking risks, testing my physical limits in a sensible way, and keep my emotional side happy that I was making progress.

When Jeanette and I booked our last session I said that I wanted to do some drawings as a way of remembering what I’d learned, and to help me easily recall the concepts of balancing my physical, emotional and intellectual voices.

This is what I drew…

therapy-drawings

… and what it means:

1. I need to stop looking back at who I was, and understand who I am now, and what I’m capable off. Being able to do 80% of what I could before may be true, but are there new things I can do too? If I’d lost a leg, I wouldn’t try to grow it back! I’d work out how to live the best life I could with one leg.

2. My roller coaster rebellion taught me how to push my physical limits to allow me to have fun, but in a safe way.

3. I had felt restricted by my illness, like I had tethers holding me back. Jeanette helped me to see those more as a harness, which helped to keep me safe. And when I was seeking to push the boundaries I was using intellect to ‘measure’ how far I could go.

4. I finally accepted that resting is not lazy – it’s essential. I can still do almost anything I want to as long as I accept that my body will pay the consequences, and I make time before and after to give it chance to do that.

Will I get to Disney Land one day? Yes, I absolutely will. Maybe not for a while yet, but I am still a determined / stubborn bitch, and I will not give up that dream. I know that it’s possible, as long as I plan ahead, take sensible risks and make time for the consequences. 

Mickey, I’m coming to get you!

(Thank you Jeanette)

Windows to the soul

“Eyes are the window of the soul”
My soul must be frigging knackered.

So why doesn’t this soul get some more sleep?
Because it owns an Unbalanced brain that won’t shut the fuck up about all the things it really needs to do today.

Brain: You’ve not read all those papers for that meeting tomorrow…
You really need to sort out selling your car before the MOT runs out…
Those pictures you bought 3 weeks ago are still leaning against the window…
Actually this whole house is a shit hole…
And you’ve not done any washing…
Do you realise you’ve not hit your 10,000 steps or 5 a day once this week. You’d better get outside at some point…
And buy fruit…
And you’d better do something nice with your child today because you’re going to London for 2 days and won’t see him….
And the cats need fleaing…

Soul: Fuck off brain. Give me a break. Can’t you see how busy I am carrying these bags under my eyes?

Brain: Oh yes I most certainly can. You’d better go shopping and buy some Touche Eclat. You can’t go to London looking like THAT.

Soul: f$•% *@wg~s

(My soul also has a foul mouth.)

Starting school

My top tips for parents with kids starting school.

You’ve done all the practical stuff and your little one is ready their first day at school. But this is just the beginning, and YOU need to be prepared for what comes next.

Here are a few things I wasn’t expecting:

1. Uniform and shoe destruction
Treasure those cheesy photos of your kid’s first day at school (mandatory that they are standing by a door – why is that?). Soon you’ll look back and realise that was the last time your kid looked remotely smart.

School uniforms seem to soak up everything. By the first half term those clothes will be stained, stretched, washed-out colours and may have the odd hole. And if you have a boy who keeps the same shoes for more than a term you have my respect. Fuck knows what they do in the playground but it destroys leather.

2. Kids can’t remember ANYTHING
You’ll be desperate to hear about their day but don’t be surprised if after a few days, your kid (who you usually can’t shut up), decides that their only response to all questions is “I can’t remember”, even when they are still within the fucking school gates.

They may remember what they had for lunch.
That’s all you get.

3. You need to remember EVERYTHING
You’d better have a good memory or a good note-taking system because on the rare occasions your kids do tell you about their day  they expect you to remember every detail.

There’s an army of people now at the centre of their universe that you have never met. As well as their Teacher and around 30 kids you could hear stories about the Head, Deputy, Teaching Assistants, lunch time supervisors, people who come in to do sports activities, people who come in to hear readers and all sorts more. You will not have a frigging clue who is who. Just smile and nod.

Then throw in remembering when they need a PE kit, a costume, a prize for the raffle, money for Children in Need, blah blah blah, and your brain may start to spin.

You won’t be alone. The playground is full of parents working out how they can make an acceptable Easer Bonnet from things they can find in their kitchen drawer, before the parade happens at 11 o’clock. We’re all in this together. It’s fine.

4. Your new weekend schedule
Parents struggle to establish a clear etiquette for who to invite to their kid’s birthday party, and many resort to inviting the whole class. Yes, it’s not only teachers who have to cope with 30 little angels, you do too. And at parties they add sugar!

There are so many of these parties you may start to say that classic cliche of “My kids have a better social life than I do!” and then cry into your Chuckle Chimps Play Centre coffee cup when you realise that it’s not just a saying, it’s the fucking truth.

5. Biff and Chip
These are characters in a very common reading scheme. You must NOT giggle at the innuendo of character names when your child is earnestly concentrating on phonetic domination.

Whilst you can revel in the magic of your kid learning to read (and it is magic, because English words just don’t follow the rules), it’s OK to acknowledge the mind numbing boredom you may feel when you child brings home 29 books in a row where the most exciting thing to happen is ‘Pat ran’ and ‘Sam sat’.

6. Labelling EVERYTHING
Once you’ve labelled everything they wear you can be nice an smug. No way suckers! There’s always more.

Taking in ‘show and tell’ stuff, a costume for the Christmas play, a cake tin filled with ‘home baked’ goods for the Summer fair, etc etc. If you want it to come back you have to label it.

Get some sticky labels and a permanent marker and learn to write on very small things in very small writing. If you’ve given your kids long names, this is where you’ll start shortening them.

7. A house full of ‘Art’
If you thought baby toys had ruined your beautiful adult house, get ready for this shit storm of craft-based crap. They glue, write, draw and model most days, and the best if it gets stapled to a classroom display, while the rest is brought home to you, full of pride and a desire to turn every wall and surface of your home into a gallery of their masterpieces.

They also get school projects that you, yes you, have to help them with. And school encourage you to ‘be as creative as you like’. Brilliant if you are a crafty type. Sheer, glue-filled hell if you are not.

My advice. Get a big box, call it a ‘special school memories box’ and dump all that shit straight in there. Perhaps in a couple of years you can look back at it with teary emotions, or just laugh at the memory of how a stick with a piece of string cellotaped to it’s middle was supposed to represent their favourite character from a book. If only either of you could remember which book. Very unlikely it was Biff or Chip anyway.

Festival Mum

Parent Dilemma. You want to go to a music festival. Should you take your small offspring? Is it still a proper festival experience if you might not see all the bands you want to and you don’t get slowly shit-faced?

This has been a tough one since I became a mum. It sounds amazing to integrate something you love from pre-parent days into family life. But is that realistic for us?

I have heard of many parents who throw a tent and wellies in the back of the car and head off for a mud and music filled adventure. I’m guessing that they are the types of families who love camping trips anyway. We are not. Or more specifically, I am not.

Since going camping with the Guides aged 12 I learned that it only takes two days for my curly hair to turn into a Medusa-like state without the aid of a power shower. I also like my own toilet.

So for the past few years I’ve just not bothered, instead choosing to watch ‘Live music’ on the TV red button, with a brew and my slippers on.

But now my Unbalanced Man plays guitar in a band that are getting invited to play at these festivals. So I want to go even more. Would 6 year old Joe enjoy watching Daddy play? Probably, for about 20 minutes from past experience. But, if you give him a choice between time at Granny’s where he can have bacon butties and ice-cream on tap, or being taken from tent to tent watching all the weird and wonderful artists perform songs that are NOT recognisable tunes from Disney and Pixar films, there’s no contest.

So that’s the answer then. Weekend at Granny’s, and off we go.

But uh-oh, here comes Mum Guilt. I absolutely hate sodding Mum Guilt.

“Going off having fun on your own are you?
Drinking are you?
Don’t think I’ve forgotten that you were away without him last weekend,
AND working away the week before that.
Look at THOSE parents who’ve brought their children.
Look how much fun the kids are having.
Joe would LOVE jumping on hay bails with them.
They are GOOD parents who REALLY love their kids.”

I tell you what Mum Guilt, you can absolutely fuck right off. Yes, perhaps Joe would have enjoyed BITS of the weekend, but probably not the whole of it. Instead, we’ve had an amazing weekend as a couple. Joe is back, more than happy and of course, full of ice cream. Next week Ste has another gig but I’m not going, and the week after we’re setting off on a family holiday. So everyone is happy. You might even say it’s all balanced as it should be.

I’ll admit that festival-ing as a mum wasn’t the same as pre-parent days. This time around we managed to stay up till the early hours on the first night, but didn’t get anywhere near shit faced, and on the second night we came home early and were in bed way before midnight.

So I’ll accept that I’m not a full-on Rock and Roll Mum, but I had a wonderful time. And, I’ll tell you a secret… I slept with* that guitar player!!

*Literally. We were knackered. 

Unbalanced Equality

This weekend Tim Lovejoy was interviewing Kelis on Sunday Brunch and said,

“I’m a dad. I look after my kids 50% of the time but no-one ever asks me, ‘How do you juggle career and children?’. But… How do you juggle career and children!!”

Yes Tim! Spot on.

Why do interviewers (or the people who write the questions for them) think that when interviewing a woman who has a job and small children, then this is an essential question? And yet when interviewing a man in the same situation, they don’t.

This is a question that I’ve pondered for a while, and I have become quite frustrated that it appears to still be considered a ‘Women’s issue’. It really pisses me off.

But I also want to add another point …. It’s not just parents, and it’s not just workers that need to juggle or balance their lives.

There seems to be a magic equation of :

Woman + Kids + Job = “How do you find a balance?”

I started my Unbalanced Woman blog a while back because I was having to make some changes to get my balance right. And it struck me that all types of people feel they are trying to juggle or balance lots of different things in their lives. Not just when they have kids. People feel ‘Unbalanced’ for many different reasons. In my blog I consciously talk about some elements of being a mum, some of having a job, and some about totally different things. That’s MY life equation and my (happily) busy and Unbalanced life.

I know plenty of people with different life equations who are equally busy and therefore may sometimes feel ‘Unbalanced’:

  • Man + Job + Parents needing care = Juggler
  • Woman + Kid + Another Kid = Juggler
  • Woman + Illness + Part-Time Job = Juggler
  • Woman + Retired + Grandparent child care + Social commitments = Juggler

Many of these things are wonderful aspects of our lives, but they still need juggling. And when we can’t find a balance we ask for help, or we strap on our boots and crack on as best we can, accepting that sometimes we drop a ball or occasionally we totally fuck everything up.

So I’m with Tim – if we think it’s important to ask working mums how they balance their lives, let’s give equal interest to working dads, non working parents and non-parenting adults.

Or just join me in accepting that ‘Unbalanced’ is a way of life, for all types of people, and it’s to be celebrated.

#UnbalancedSolidarity

I’m a hypocrite

I came across a school paper this week that set out a series of rules that should be completed each day ‘before you turn on the screen’. It included:

  • made your bed
  • had breakfast
  • dressed, brushed your hair and brushed your teeth
  • completed 20 minutes of reading AND 20 minutes of writing or colouring AND played outside for 30 minutes AND made or built something creative
  • cleaned a room 
  • helped someone in your family in another way

My first thought was, “Jesus Christ!”, and my second was to quickly check if these rules are intended for the adults or just the kids. I would physically harm anyone who tried to make me follow these rules. Not really, but I would call them some rather disgusting names. In my head. I’m a coward really.

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But it made me think… do I set rules for my kids that I don’t follow myself?

First of all, let’s tackle the screen time one. I spend the majority of my day looking at a screen, for work, for communication and for entertainment. I think there are few people left who don’t multi-screen – watching TV while intermittently checking messages and social media on our phones.

It’s rare that I won’t have looked at a screen before completing any of the first three things on the list. Often I look at my phone before I’ve even got out of bed!

We live in the digital age and, here’s the point, so do our children.  Reading a story or watching a story – who gets to say which is better? I love books, theatre, film and TV, and blogs, let’s not forget blogs. They are all just telling stories. We recognise Shakespeare as the ultimate writer, but let’s remember that the majority of his celebrated work was written as plays – for people to WATCH. Could TV and film and even You-Tube arguably be considered as just ‘modern theatre’.

My boy has just shown me a Spiderman world he’s created in MineCraft, with pants-wetting excitement and pride because he’s worked out how to build something he’s not done before.

  • Is he being creative? – tick
  • Using logic, intellect and tenacity? – tick
  • Writing and colouring? – (in computer code) tick
  • Social skills – tick. He has friends who share his passionate hobby and they discuss ideas and teach each other new skills. 

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So why do screens get such a bad rep? “Because of risks to eyesight, posture, lack of exercise” my argumentative brain cries. OK, all fair points. We have to watch those, for kids AND adults in the digital age. But my brain’s back with a counter-argument: is that different to when we had to learn from all the back and lung problems people had in the industrial age when manual labour, like working in a mill or a mine, was the norm?

So I do watch what my boy does, and try to make sure there’s a balance of activities and responsibilities. The same as I try to make sure he gets enough exercise, sleep and healthy food. I admit I’m absolutely guilty of being more bothered about those rules for him than I ever apply to myself, which makes me a total hypocrite. He eats better, sleeps longer and gets more exercise than I ever do. 

I think I might just cut him some slack on the screen time.

Will I turn into my mother?

They say it’s inevitable that a girl will turn into her mother. Good God that’s scary.

If it’s true then I’d better get my finger out, because I’ve got work to do.

If it’s true, then I’ll become the most loving, thoughtful and generous woman I know.

  • I’ll be able to mend clothes, bake great cakes and get any stain out of anything.
    (Seriously, she can do that!)
  • I’ll know the best treatment for every childhood illness.
  • I’ll be a wise but humble woman and a fiercely loyal friend.
  • I’ll remember birthdays, anniversaries and all those little things that are important to others.
  • I’ll be fun to be with but also happy to be on my own, in my garden, with a book.
  • Oh and I’ll be an amazing gardener who knows the names of plants and trees and birds (the proper names, not just ‘that one with the red leaves’)
  • I’ll be polite enough to meet the queen, but those close to me will hear me prove I know all the rude words too.
  • I’ll be a spelling and punctuation nazi, and even pull a pen out of my bag to correct graffiti on a public toilet door.
  • I’ll be an amazing grandma, and my grandchildren will look forward to seeing me, especially as I’ll always have a freezer full of the best ice-cream known to man.
  • And I’ll always, ALWAYS, drop everything the second my (grown up) baby needs me.

Fuck, that’s a lot to live up to! If I ever manage to get close to being as wonderful as my mum, my son should feel very lucky indeed.

#UnbalancedRoleModel

Slow down?

There’s a song and video doing the rounds called ‘Slow Down’. Everyone gushing how they sobbed when they watched. But I didn’t. I’m clearly a cold-hearted freak. Am I missing an essential mothering gene? 

Apparently Mothers around the world are hailing it the best song ever made. Accompanied by a compilation of videos of children playing, smiling with their parents and siblings and showing beautiful memories of everything in a perfect childhood.

The message is clear, “time with your children moves so fast”. 

I get the message – there are plenty of ‘blink and you miss it’ phases of raising a child. I’m just not feeling the sentiment with quite the same emotion, for two reasons:

 The stages the singer wants to Slow Down weren’t that fucking picture-perfect in reality

My experience so far tells me that actually it just gets better. So bring on the future! 

I can honestly say that every age my Ginger Boy has been so far, has been my favourite. When he was a new born baby, I remember people saying that babies are boring until they start to talk and show some personality. I was absolutely outraged! Had they not met MY baby? My completely gorgeous, expressive baby whose gurning face made me laugh every single day? 

But of course, as he grew in size and expression, I have to admit, babies are pretty damn boring compared to what comes next. And while I cherish all those memories of me bursting with love as his tiny fingers wrapped around mine, they are also entwined with memories of a period of no sleep, a mini breakdown and phoning friends asking how long this period of crying through the night (him and me) would last. 

 I most certainly did not want that time to Slow Down!

Last week my friend made a sad face because her youngest is now potty trained. I was amazed that this was not a celebratory event. She explained that it signifies he’s growing up and he’s not a baby anymore. Apparently many people feel the same way when their kids hit a significant milestone. 

I get it (I think), but again I was left thinking that I must have a heart of stone. When we reached that stage there was absolutely no mourning period. All I felt was a joyous realisation in a garden centre that when Ginger Boy told me he needed a poo, I was no longer required to perform the obligatory shit-sniff before taking my toddler into a disabled toilet, lay him out on a plastic tray, stinky end nearest my face, and hold his windmill-propelled legs away from my head with one elbow, to stop me being hit in the face by a shoe, a wet wipe or, let’s get real… actual shit. It never EVER occurred to me that I might look back on that phase with anything more than a vague fondness for the comedy shit related memories. I certainly don’t ‘miss it’!

And that’s how I feel about life, not just motherhood. Life phases are amazing. I don’t mourn for any of them or want them to Slow Down because there’s always something else ahead to look forward to. 

 For example:

‘School days are the best of your life’. Yes they are but…. I couldn’t wait to grow up and be old enough to go to the pub

The butterflies in your tummy for a first kiss are fantastic. But… Look at what comes later (sex obvs!) – a long term intimacy that’s well worth moving on from those butterflies

My single, party days were amazing. But…. then I got to meet my husband. 

Does my practical attitude mean I’m cold? Maybe. Should I take the video’s advice and Slow Down? Perhaps. The good phases and the bad phases and everything in between, all move fast. Thankfully I have a good memory and about 1000 photos to help me remember the good bits (I never took any photos of the poo windmill in action, so maybe I’ll forget those bits. Maybe that’s not a bad thing). 

I guess in summary….  I’m thankful for where we’ve been so far, happy with where we are now, and excited about where we might go to tomorrow. I don’t want to slow down OR speed up. I’m just grateful to be on this roller coaster of a parenthood ride. 

Precious moments on a ticking clock

“Make time for fun and silliness”. I must have read that about 20 times. Apparently a necessity if you aspire to be a successful parent, partner, team leader and probably circus clown.

So today that cliché rang in my ears when faced with a particular unbalanced-life experience.

Our morning routine requires precision timing. No matter how organised I try to be there are just so many activities to cram into a short space of time. And our differing personality types add to the challenge: I take some time to warm up in the morning, like an old car in winter, you need to let me tick over for a while before I can even leave first gear. My little boy however wakes up ready to run down the nearest motorway. No car required. As soon as he opens his eyes his brain must say, no actually sing, “It’s morning… Woohoo!”

Fun and silliness are always on his agenda. Of course they are. But my morning routine is ruled by the large ticking clock on our kitchen wall. If we don’t get to school on time the car park will be full. And if the car park is full I will have to park round the corner. And if I have to park round the corner it takes longer to walk back to it (in heels) so I won’t catch my ‘only-make-it-if-I-leg-it-down-the-platform’ train to work.

He was in full-on Woohoo-mode when we went downstairs to make breakfast, yabbering on about something or other. I knew I should be listening, but I needed to make breakfast and…. Tick Tock Tick Tock.

To get his attention, I picked him up sat him on the kitchen worktop. “I have a question for you…” Now this works. He’s at eye level and he loves to be asked a question. And he half knows that the question will be, ‘what shall we have for breakfast?’. It’s a regular morning question because another aspirational quote locked somewhere in my memory, is to offer children choices so they learn independent thinking. Blah blah blah.

But instead, my inner silliness crept in. “Do you looove me?” I sang to him. I’ve recently watched Dirty Dancing and it popped into my head. Big grin from the boy and my silliness took over.

“I can mash potato…” I proved it.
“Do the twist….” Hell yeah.
“Tell me baby…” He loved it.

The clock was silenced. I was Supermum. We danced together. He looked me right in the eye and did that beautiful giggle that kids do when they are truly happy. I felt amazing and we had a precious moment – one of those that makes your heart burst, where you know there is true love in the room. The cliché was right, I SHOULD make time for silliness.

Time. Make time. Tick Tock….. “Oh my god, look at the time!” And there it was, ruined.

“Quickly… Just eat it… Are you finished?… Well where did you leave it?… Come on!… They are not MY shoes, they are your responsibility… For goodness sake, just get in the car… Now!”

Next time I decide to make time for fun and silliness I will schedule it with precision timing.