The PR version of Motherhood

I had a few hours the other morning while the smallest was at pre-school and I popped into town to pick up a few bits in peace. I went into a coffee shop (treat!) for a cheeky hot chocolate and a muffin (double treat!). There was a Mum in the queue behind me with a very new baby (I’m guessing sub 8 weeks).

Suddenly, another customer approached her and said, “Hi xx, I’ve not seen you for ages!” And so started a slightly awkward conversation between what appeared to be old school friends who clearly hadn’t seen each other for some time.  The usual chat ensued about what they’d been up to and then the baby questions started… And oh, this poor new Mum went into PR mode!!

Making out it was all great and wonderful and fine, when she was clearly knackered, feeling a bit frazzled and desperately trying to look like she was totally on top of her shit to this now almost stranger (as they clearly hadn’t been in touch for years!). Please note, the assumption is that said old-friend-now-practically-stranger was childless as presumed by her figure, lack of huge eye bags, trendy outfit not creased or with sick on and immaculate hair and make-up. Now I’m not saying all mums automatically turn into scruff bags when they have kids but this was not a girl who looked, or acted like!, she had children of her own… Anyway, I digress…

I had to smile at the PR version of this new Mums answers, and also really feel for her. We’ve all done it. Particularly when faced with an old friend or acquaintance, even with current and dear friends, it’s very hard to admit that you’re drowning a bit and to instead make out life is a doddle with a newborn, or a child of any age for that matter. I used to work in PR before I had my own children so I of all people know how to sugar coat the truth!

So here are my five ‘favourite’ questions fired at new Mums, and the PR version of the answer, as well as the reality version!! Oh to be able to give the reality version every time! 😉

Q: How was the birth?

PR answer: Yeah, it wasn’t too bad… (uncomfortable silence as new mum grimaces at the memory…)

Reality answer: Bloody agony, when the head crowned I thought I was going to split in two, my language turned the air blue and the thought of doing that again any time soon makes me want to poke my eyes out!

Q: How’s feeding going?

PR answer: Ok thanks, takes a bit of getting used to but I’m persevering

Reality answer: None of your business!! But if you must know, it’s uncomfortable at best, my nipples are shot to pieces, my tits if unsupported make a break for freedom towards my knees and I leak at inappropriate moments… Tell me it gets better…?

Q: Is he/ she sleeping OK?

PR answer: (at best) I’m manging to sleep when he/she does and the nights aren’t too bad

Reality answer: I’m so tired I could literally curl up and sleep in the middle of a rave and still be dead to the world. My eyes feel like sand paper, if I yawn I could probably swallow your head and if this little monkey doesn’t sleep for more than one hour soon, I think I might lose my mind. And repeat for the next 18 months…!

Q: How much did he/she weigh?

PR answer: the actual weight

Reality answer: does it matter!?! why the hell do you care and why do people always ask that!!??

Q: When are you/ will you be going back to work?

PR answer: I’m off for a year and then I’ll be going back hopefully 4 days a week

Reality answer: Dragging myself into work, looking vaguely presentable and resembling a professional at this moment is at best highly unlikely…God knows what state I’ll be in this time in a year… I might not want to ever go back as this little one has captured my heart so much…

Note to self: practice not getting snot and sick and chewed up biscuit smeared all over my clothes in preparation for possible return to the office…

So if you see someone who’s just had a baby and feel the need to ask any of the above, pause for a moment and perhaps stick with, “Isn’t she/he beautiful, you look  like you’re both doing really well, let me buy you a cup of tea” and leave it at that.

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An open letter to my Mum this Mother’s Day…

Dear Mum

Happy Mother’s Day. Quite simply, I adore you.

The End.

Only joking 😉 But how can I possibly explain how thankful I am for you. I have always loved you, but since welcoming the boys into my life, I so appreciate all you have done, and continue to do for me. For us.

I also have a new appreciation for everything you have gone through, and what we have put you through… Motherhood for me has been the most amazing, and most terrifying thing, all at the same time. I live in a constant state of fierce love and pride for my boys (mixed with the usual exasperation at their stubbornness and awkwardness at times but let’s not dwell on that on Mother’s day!), and then swing unexpectedly into being terrified that something will happen to them to hurt or upset them which would destroy me.  One look, one conversation with you, tells me this doesn’t go away. I see you with me and my brother and sister, and with my boys as your beloved Grandchildren, and I see your absolute adoration for us too, and I see your worry and concern when I tell you one of us is feeling poorly, or has had a bad day, or is upset, unhappy or in trouble. We hurt, you hurt. It’s the Mums way.

I have friends who’s Mums live mere doors away (jealous!). I have friends who’s Mums live abroad or a long journey away and I know they miss having them near dreadfully. I have friends who are not close to or have a hard relationship with their Mums and I see how this hurts them. I also have friends who’s Mums have passed away and I see how a little bit of them has died too and will forever be missing and missed.

Mums are unique.  We are only ones who know what your heart sounds like from the inside, and how it beats with love for us unconditionally.

This Mother’s Day I want to tell you how much we love you. Never far away, always at the end of the phone, constantly there to help and support us, and always, always, with open arms and love.  You are incredibly special, completely irreplacable and I would be utterly lost without you.

I will try every day to look after and guide my boys and be the kind of Mum you have shown me is the best to be. Here’s hoping I can step into those shoes.

Love always, xxxxx

This Mum’s thoughts on “The Motherhood Challenge”

Let’s face it, in the hum-drum of everyday life, we all love a bit of a hoo-ha, something different to have an opinion on, and if needs be a jolly good moan about!! The ‘Motherhood Challenge’ doing the Facebook rounds at the moment seems to have provided that and has certainly divided opinion.

I saw it a few days ago and thought ‘ah that’s nice’… I then saw a few posts and articles about people getting their knickers in a twist about it and how it perpetuates the pressure to portray a perfect family but I didn’t think about it too deeply… I went as far as to think about what pictures I might choose assuming I’d probably get involved at some point… and then… no-one nominated me…!!

At first I was a bit put out that this social media ‘craze’ (if we can call it that!?!) hadn’t landed at my door… but it also made me consider, why do I care?

Do we need other people on Facebook to nominate us to validate us as a ‘good mother’…?

While, in all honesty, I can’t say we don’t sometimes need it, I know for sure that we shouldn’t.

The journey of being a parent isn’t about other people thinking you’re an ace Mum, that you’re on the ball all the time, that you have perfect kids with perfect manners and discipline… It’s not about looking and acting 100% great all the time… It’s not about never losing your shit in public and being a poster child for everyone else… It certainly isn’t about making other people feel inadequate in their own parenting and trying to play catch up with everyone else who, on the surface, is doing a better job than you…

Whether this is raising the bar, or to some maybe lowering it, regardless of what anyone else thinks, today I know I am a good Mum because:

I’ve told my kids I love them (numerous times) and also, more importantly, shown them…

Everyone made it out the door on time this morning, fully dressed in the correct uniform and with matching socks…

There haven’t been too many tears or tantrums and we’ve got through the day unscathed…

We have sat down and eaten together and laughed and talked about our days…

I’ve managed for once to fit in reading practice with my five year old before he’s too tired to concentrate…

The house may currently look like a bomb site but it is warm and secure and ours…

But most importantly, today I know I am a good mum because everyone has gone to bed happy. The children are sleeping soundly in their beds and they are healthy and safe.

I may well look through some photos later on and pick out some favourites and reminisce about the early days of motherhood, of ‘firsts’ and good times. I will certainly be taken aback by how quickly my babies are growing up and changing, and will more than likely mutter “I can’t believe how small they were!”, “Look how much they’ve grown”, “Look at his gorgeous face”.

But this time, I’m going to keep these moments for me. Despite being a bit of a social media addict, on this occasion I’m not going to join in. I’m not going to accept the “Motherhood Challenge” and display photos that show my ‘perfect children’. I don’t need to be part of this to continue doing my best, and when my best isn’t always good enough, to at least keep trying. And because I’m doing my best and striving for it every day for them, that alone tells me I’m a good Mum, and it should tell you all too.

So whatever side of the fence you’re on with this one – share or don’t share, join in and post your photos with pride or don’t – know that all Mum’s are good Mum’s every day of the week. Because we show up, we try, and we keep going. Because we love our kids and they love us back. We don’t need social media to empower us or tell us how to act or feel. We are enough. And we are awesome.

xx

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PS: this obviously goes without saying for Dad’s too, but as it’s about the Motherhood challenge, I’ve kept this about Mum’s this time as frankly I’m too knackered to muck about with the tenses for pural parenting!!

Happy Birthday

happy birthday

I was at a birthday party recently with my son and while speaking to one of the other Mums, she said to me that she always says Happy Birthday to the Mums too as the day is also a celebration for them too.

And I thought, bloody yes!! I’d never thought of it that way as birthdays for me these days are all about the child and the party and the friends… but now, as a Mum myself, I can see how it is a celebration each year of that Mum having performed a miracle.

So next time any of your children has a birthday, cut yourself an extra large slice of cake and wish yourself a happy anniversary birthing-day because a little of this day is for you too.

For that day is the day you became a Mum.

The day you gave yourself completely without fear (well maybe a little bit!) and without reservation to deliver a miracle and make everyone else’s lives that little bit better (well a lot better actually!)

The day your life changed, maybe for the first time, maybe the second or third. Each time is pretty amazing.

The day you first discovered you could love harder and more deeply than you ever thought possible. Or the day you discovered you could love like that again, just as much, and have enough love for the new one and any that came before them.

It’s the day you discovered you are stronger than you knew, and braver than you think.

The day your body performed an astonishing act that it had been working hard for nine months to prepare for. It was all you and no-one else.

The day your priorities and outlook on life changed.

The day you made your husband or partner a parent too. Your own parents Grandparents. Your brothers and sisters Uncles and Aunties. Your other children siblings. You changed so many lives and gave them new focus and meaning.

On this day you added another person. Someone who will go on to live and love. Who will (hopefully!) achieve great things, be successful, spread happiness, discover, innovate, inspire, explore.

For some Mums it is a hard day that may end in heartache, fear or sorrow. These days, and these Mums, matter too, whatever the outcome.

The day you gave birth to your child is the day you changed the world.

And that my friends is the best excuse I’ve ever heard for having a large slice of cake and an ever bigger glass of wine.

I applaud you all, with love xxxx

A selfish kind of love

I have seen and read a lot of quotes since becoming a Mum, and I guess before that without taking as much notice, about how Mothers are selfless and giving and all sacrificing for their children and families. While I think many actions and thoughts of Mothers make this true, lately I have been thinking, certainly about myself, that mine is a more selfish kind of love.

While I would give and sacrifice anything for them without question, I have lately realised that being their everything in return is what I have come to love…

Rightly or wrongly, the thought of them turning to someone or something else makes me a very unhappy Mummy!  While sometimes it may be suffocating and exhausting, I want to be the person they call in the night when they wake up afraid from a bad dream. I want to be the face they search for in the crowd. I want to be the one they run to when they have scraped their knee. The lap they want to sit on when they are tired or poorly. The cuddle they need before being able to go to sleep. The ear they seek for their troubles. The voice they listen to for advice. The hand they hold when they need stability. The heart they rely on for unconditional love. I want them to need me.

Being all these things has been, and continues to be, part of my parenting journey. I have realised lately though that I have however come to rely on this to validate my role as ‘stay at home Mum’, my reason for being at their beck and call.  My excuse for not doing anything else. Because they need me.  But really, I need them too.

Yet I know there will come a time, perhaps in the not too distant future, where they will start to spread their wings and want to fly solo. They will be able to cope without me. They will discover the joy and pride in doing something independently. Of realising they are stronger and braver than they thought.  They will turn to friends, other family members, teachers, dare I say girlfriends!, for support and love also. They will realise there is a big wide world out there for discovering and exploring. And I fear my selfish love will come back and bite me on the ass, so I had best start preparing to be a bit more willing to share them.

As my five year old said to me this week, “I’m a big boy now aren’t I?”  Yes you are my love. While they will both always be my babies, I think the time is coming to accept my boys are growing up and I need to make sure I am always being the encouraging, supportive and enthusiastic Mum who helps them to be their very best. They are still both so little so I don’t need to worry about letting them go just yet, but I should probably work on releasing my grip. Not too much, just a little bit. Sometime soon. Maybe 😉

Rage against the…well anything really. Mostly Mummy!

Yesterday I spent a lovely morning with my two year old, a friend and her little one at a local farm and soft play.  Good fun in the soft play, no injuries, no accidents, it was all going swimmingly… The time came to leave…still all well…shoes and coats were put on…still all well… and then I said to little man “Lets change your nappy quickly before leave”… que MELTDOWN OF EPIC PROPORTIONS!!!

Dragged him to the baby changing (screaming)…changed his nappy (still screaming)…returned to soft play area to collect friends (still screaming)… tried to leave (which prompted a bit of rolling around on the floor screaming)…eventually left with him hauled over my shoulder (still screaming)…into the car (eventually as he puts up a bloody good fight…while still screaming)…drove home (now screaming less, interspersed by some whimpering)… got home and got out of car (started screaming again)…entered house and left said two year old on the lounge floor to get on with it (still screaming, obvs!).

We are talking about a good hour (minimum) of screaming, simply because I decided that leaving him to sit in his own sh!t was probably not very nice. What a hideous mother I am!!!…

He suddenly appears by my side in the kitchen, completely calm and normal, and says, “Look Mummy I’ve stopped crying. Sorry ‘bout that. Can I have some lunch?”

**Mother bangs her head against the wall. Repeatedly.**

The ridiculousness of it all, over a nappy change, led me to think about all the other ridiculous things he has kicked off about over recent weeks… and it is quite a list…

  1. Having to put socks on
  2. Not wearing any socks
  3. Wearing a coat
  4. Being stopped from running into the road
  5. Not liking the fact that Mr Maker was on CBeebies when the TV was turned on
  6. Finishing his toast
  7. Having to climb the stairs behind his brother
  8. The car door being wet (!!)
  9. The road being bumpy underneath his scooter
  10. Having his nose wiped
  11. Not being allowed to wear his muddy welly boots to bed
  12. His new toy sword not fitting in his pocket
  13. Being given blackcurrant squash instead of orange
  14. Being offered an umbrella in the rain
  15. The button already having been pressed at the green man crossing

I could go on, but you get the jist!!

In conclusion, the boy is an absolute lunatic. Or I guess he’s just being a two year old, overcome by life and emotions. And let’s face it, being two is tough! 😉

If anyone else out that is going through this rather testing (read: shitty!!) time, you’re not alone. I feel your pain. Let’s power through and hope there is wine and a more sane child somewhere in the near future. xx

Let’s hear it for the boys

I sometimes find that being the Mum of boys generates a strange response in some people.

I’ve lost count the amount of times people say “You must have your work cut out for you” (like boys are horrendous and girls are complete angels all the time…?!) , and “Hope you like sports and being outdoors then” (as obviously girls stay in all day brushing their hair and detest all sports…)

But the absolute thing I hate about being the Mum of boys is when people say, “ So will you have another one to try for a girl…?”

A), that’s absolutely none of your bloody business, and

B), having another baby just to tick a different gender box is, in my opinion, utterly idiotic and ridiculous.

A friend of mine recently had her third boy. I got a text telling me of his birth while I was with a group of other people and one actually said, out loud and everything, “Oh, was she hoping for a girl?”

The bloody cheek!! No love, she was hoping for a healthy child who she would love forever you fecking moron!!!!!

Personally, I simply cannot understand our cultures seeming obsession with having girls. When I became pregnant with my first son, I really wanted a boy. I was convinced he was a boy from the beginning (to the extent that I would have been shocked if he wasn’t!), and was so excited. I wouldn’t have minded either way, but I just had a feeling and I was so so happy to be on the blue team.  Even then, people would always say “Are you hoping it’s a girl?”, a few looked a bit disappointed for me when they found out I was having a boy, and as soon as he was here, the “will you try for a girl?” questions started… I find it bizarre!!

Fast forward two years to being pregnant with son number two and the same thing happened again, perhaps even more so because I already had one boy so why on earth would I be happy with another one…!?!

I love, love, love being a Mum of boys. They are fun, they are loving and affectionate, they are energetic and physical, they are clever, they are funny… I could go on… But I could also be describing a girl, right?

All the qualities I love about my boys aren’t gender specific so I don’t see why I am ‘missing out’ by not having a girl…?

Sure, there are some things that come with having a daughter that I might not get to do,  but I would hope that if I raise my boys right, they will meet and choose good wives who will both love me and regard me as an important part of their lives. As a wife myself, I know what qualities are important in a mother-in-law, and what qualities aren’t…!! (but that’s another post… 😉

If people want another child, they should do so because they have more love to give, can look after it properly and because they want to add to their family, not in my opinion, to have a specific gender. Gender stereotypes aside, a child in many ways is the same whether a boy or girl. Certain personality traits may emerge as being ‘gender specific’, and there are obviously the physical differences, but in the day to day, am I missing out by not having a daughter? I don’t think so.

I love my boys, they love me, I hope they will always look after me and treat the women in their lives properly because of how they have been raised. I’m sure in the blink of an eye they will be grown men with lives of their own, but my wish for them is to always be happy, to find love and happiness and success. In the excitement of life, I just hope they remember their dear old Mum loves them, and will forever be proud as being labelled a Mum of Boys.