I’m a Tapas Mum

Since going to see the film ‘Bad Moms’ I’ve been thinking about which stereotype of the mums I most relate to. Stay at Home Mum; Working Mum; Single Mum; Yummy Mummy etc etc. I’ve decided none of them sound quite right for me. So how about a new one… The Tapas Mum.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve never ‘wanted it all’ as the phrase goes to describe those who want a perfect family, great career and to be a permanent Goddess in the bedroom and the kitchen. I’ve never quite believed in that!

I do like the idea of having just a taste of each though. A little bit of everything. Like choosing a few small Tapas plates, instead of a massive portion of one meal.

For example:

  • I don’t need to be a high-flying, top of my organisation, cracking-through-the-glass-ceiling, role model career woman.
    But I do want a job that I enjoy and that I feel I’m pretty good at. 
  • I don’t need to be perfectly turned out in full make-up and 4 inch heels whenever I leave the house.
    But I do want to feel good when I go out to nice places. 
  • I don’t need a perfectly presented show home and a manicured lawn.
    But I do like to be able to relax in the evenings without spearing my bum on a pile of toys or yogurt-smeared cushions.
  • I don’t expect to have weekly meet ups with my girls for cocktails, dinner and dancing.
    But I do enjoy the occasional chance to get together with a friend or two for a brew or a shit-load of wine. 
  • I don’t need a pre-planned date night and a massive bunch of flowers delivered on a whim.
    But I do appreciate the times we get to go out and be a couple in a kid-free / no judgement, adult environment. 
  • I don’t expect my kid to be an Olympic-level athlete, mastermind of science or musical prodigy.
    But I do want him to have nice manners, have enough confidence to have a go at stuff and laugh a lot. 
  • I am never EVER going to be Nigella Lawson, in cooking skills or body confidence.
    But I will occasionally make a nice family meal that tastes half decent and give my husband a snog by the sink. Sexy! 
  • I most certainly don’t bake delicious pastries for the school summer fayre.
    But I do show up, donate a load of supermarket-bought chocolate for the tombola, and happily hand over every coin in my purse for the lucky dip. I even buy and eat the cakes that other people have made (that’s really not a chore, I really love the school fayre!)

Being a Tapas Mum is pretty great. So what do you say… can we create a new stereotype?


(This post was also shared on SelfishMother.com)

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.)

Weird Compliments

I have been complimented on two parts of my body that I’ve never thought of as compliment-able. I’m feeling quite smug. They are my eyebrows and my cervix.

Yep, I’m surprised too.

1. I have excellent eyebrows, just like Cara Delevigne apparently. I’m “so lucky” because others pay a fortune for high definition brow work.

Until recently I never knew that brows where something people even noticed, unless left to form a Gallagher-esque mono-brow.

Mine have only ever been a disappointment to me that I can’t move them independently and give people that one raised eyebrow what-the-fuck?-face. How I covet that skill.

2. My second unexpected body brilliance is my ‘obedient cervix’. I have been told this twice so I know it’s a fact.

At a smear test I was told that most cervixes hide away and make it difficult to perform the test. But mine is ‘well behaved’ and pops straight into view. As if saying, “Hey there visitor. Welcome. Swab me? Of course. You’re welcome.”

So while they both might seem weird to me, if someone is handing out a body compliment I will take it. With relish.

And next time I admire another woman’s pert bum or her ability to move gracefully into downward dog, I will not chastise myself.

I will think, “Her body is great. I’ve got *naturally* high definition eyebrows and an extrovert cervix, so yay both of us.”

Make-up free?

Oh dear. I’ve just had to have a word with myself!

I read this article about people’s reactions to Alicia wearing no make-up to a red carpet event and I had 3 thoughts within a split second…

1. Good for her

2. How dare people judge her

3. I couldn’t do it. Surely she could have got away with some mascara!!

And it’s the last one that shocked me. Why do I feel like that? Who set the rule that I feel I have to follow?

Now first of all, let’s be clear. I don’t go to red carpet events very often. OK, ever. And actually I’m not a big make-up wearer at the best of times. But there are days when I feel I NEED to wear it.

Last night for example. I had a hospital appointment at 7pm. I was working at home during the day so it was scruffy clothes and bare face. But I felt the need to slap a bit on to go to see a doctor. For fucks sake, why?

I remember thinking, “I look rough”. So foundation, mascara, lipstick and suddenly I feel ready. Ready for what? Did I think the doctor would give me different test results if I look less rough??

Of course it’s ridiculous.

And yet, tomorrow when I go to London to a big meeting, I will definitely wear make-up because I do feel more confident when I feel I look nicer.

Is that wrong?

I totally support any woman’s decision to go make-up free or to contour the fuck out of their face. Whatever makes you happy. Men too.

I am questioning why people even need to talk about it. Why do people feel the need to support or condone Alicia by commenting on Twitter. Is the point she’s making that it’s not important what anyone else thinks?

I don’t know. Ultimately I don’t care. My test results were all clear, so clearly wearing make-up worked for me!

http://indy100.independent.co.uk/article/alicia-keys-didnt-wear-makeup-to-the-vmas-and-got-publicly-shamed-for-it–WJQOIng57dW

Pay it forward

A waitress in Wagamama just made me cry!
To clarify: it was in a good way with a really lovely act of kindness.

I’ve been shopping in the Trafford Centre which has one of those massive dining areas with lots of fast food options round the edge. I really didn’t fancy a McDonalds or a Spud-u-Like, or fighting for a seat, or being glared at for taking up a table for 4 when it’s just me. You get the picture. So I decided to treat myself and go to Wagamama. I love their food and their smoothies and it was relatively quiet. But usually I find eating alone takes a bit of courage, or at least a book to hide behind!

I was feeling brave enough but once seated I started to feel that self-conscious urge to get my phone out so I don’t have to look at anyone or acknowledge my lone-eater status.

Then I decided not to give in to that uncomfortable tradition. Instead to be confident and just really enjoy my food and surroundings. And I really did. It was kind of liberating to just relax and smile and think for a while, and not care about anyone else.

When it came time to pay my bill I got talking to my waitress about eating alone and how she also tends to hide behind a laptop or a book. I told her about this blog, where I talk about worrying less and me trying not to care what other people think so much. She was so supportive and said that she’d have a look at the blog and that she’d like to pay for my meal.

I was absolutely gobsmacked!! You hear about these lovely acts of kindness but now it’s happened to me it made me tear up.

I went back to her as I was leaving and thanked her again and she said, “no problem just pay it forward”.

So then I’ve been finishing my shopping and wondering how to do that. How could I pay that kindness forward. Eventually the answer felt obvious, to find another woman eating on her own, congratulate her for having the confidence to enjoy a meal for one, and buy her lunch for her.

So that’s what I’ve just done. And a lovely lady called Christine in Yo Sushi was kind enough to accepted my gesture. (I should add that approaching a woman on her own and offering to buy her lunch is also a tad nerve wracking!! I hope you weren’t too frightened by me Christine!)

She’s agreed that she will also pay it forward to another lone-eater. I hope she does, and I hope whoever that lady is will feel how I feel right now… That as Unbalanced as we may all be sometimes, women (and men!) are usually kind and supportive of each other. Whether it’s a random act of kindness, a compliment or just a simple smile, we can really make someone’s day.

So here’s to enjoying a meal for one. And here’s to all the wonderful people out there who’ve created a random act of kindness. I’m looking at you Liz, my lovely Wagamama waitress. Thank you!!

If you’ve been involved in a Random Act of Kindness or Pay It Forward type of thing, I’d love to hear about it. Please tell me.

UPDATE: Christine got in touch! 

” I was the lucky recipient of lunch!!!! I was so touched by the gesture – it really really made my day!! It was great to meet you and thank you once again. I paid the act of kindness forward and bought a mum and son on the next counter an afternoon tea cakey treat. They were as thrilled as I was and promised to keep the chain going.

Thanks again – you were a little ray of sunshine for me today xx “

What a lovely day.

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

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