Friends

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‘So no-one told you life was gonna be this way…’

I didn’t realise until I had my boys how much being a part of the ‘Mum club’ would define my daily life and those who are in it!! Sure, I knew things would change for me with being a stay at home Mum and my life now revolving around the munchkins and what they need to be doing, but what I hadn’t counted on was how important my new ‘Mummy friends’ would become, and continue to be.

We moved out of London when our first son was about 9 months old – for more space, better schools, blah, blah, same as everyone else! – and I have been extremely lucky to have found a totally awesome bunch of friends here where I live now and I love them all dearly.  It was a bit like being a kid again myself and having to find and make new friends as we moved to an area where we had no previous connections. I was back on the market and looking for a new gang!

You will all know the feeling of meeting someone and, while they are perfectly nice, they just aren’t your cup of tea… (cue awkward excuses to get out of playdates with them and their hideous child!)… so it’s hard to describe how great it feels to have found people who I genuinely like (and who I think like me back…!), who I want to spend time with, who I can confide in, who understand, who get it (…’it’ being this craziness we call ‘parenting’ which is often a nice way of saying ‘hovering on the brink of insanity’…!), who are caring and helpful, who are funny and fun, who are good parents themselves so I can steal their daily life hacks to make my own home better and happier … And best of all, they have such lovely kids that my kids love playing with theirs and they are also really good friends. Which, let’s face it, is priceless as so often, whilst the parents might be lovely people, their kids are sometimes an utter nightmare and exactly the sort of kids you don’t want your little ones hanging around and learning all of their bad habits and horrendous behaviour!

One of  my friends calls it ‘the tribe’ and I love it!  A group of crazies we are, with a common daily aim to get to the end of the day with everyone intact and no tears shed… but if it does all go tits up, which is more often than not the case!, the ‘tribe’ are there to help, lend support and text me amusing quotes from the internet which usually revolve around drowning in a bucket of prosecco or something about Ryan Gosling and his undeniable beauty…

I’m not saying that my ‘non-Mummy friends’ are less important, or not as good friends anymore, but, perhaps controversially, I think we are experiencing different things day to day at this point, and so they probably don’t get it yet. Also they probably don’t give a shit about the tantrum one kid had over Hey Duggee finishing on CBeebies while the other one drew all over the walls and blamed it on a squirrel… but Mummy friends do.

They feel my pain, they understand, they’ve been there, done it and come out the other side, and they save my sanity time and time again. With a knowing look, an unexpected hug when they see my face and know it’s one of ‘those days’, with an ‘I understand’, a ‘me too’, a ‘don’t worry, I get it’, with a stealth delivery of chocolate at the school gate because ‘I thought you might need it today’, with a ‘call me if you need me’. While our children and our families are our everything, sometimes you need more than that and a way to escape the responsibilities of being Mum… something, or someone, just for you, and for me my friends are exactly that.

At this time of year where we gearing up to spend time with family and loved ones, where celebrations and nights out are planned, and where we reflect on the year that has passed and all that has happened, I for one am exceptionally thankful for my tribe of Mummy friends. We all have those friends, well I hope you all do, and to me, they are what make my every day into good days, my nights out filled with laughter, my heart full and my soul happy.

I would be lost without them. You know who you are girls. xx

‘I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour. 
I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before.
I’ll be there for you, cause you’re there for me too.’

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Just call me Adele! ;)

adele

Hello, it’s me… I was wondering after all this time if you would like to meet…?

Much like Adele, I have taken a break of late. Unlike hers which was to enjoy her new child (and wallow in her millions I imagine!), mine has been more self imposed, by life really!  There hasn’t seemed to be much time for anything lately… always somewhere to be, someone to see, something to do, something to sort out… and so my blog writing and self therapy has paused. Ironic really as I started this to do something for myself and to make time for something I enjoyed.  Another consequence of being a parent I guess! 😉

But now, like Adele (once again – because yes, I do love her!), my break is over (I hope!) and I’m back!!   I was lying in bed last night, unable to sleep and thinking about lots of things (nothing harrowing, you know, just stuff), and I realised it was all great fodder for my blog and that I wanted and was ready to share again with my fellow school runners.

So I hope you’ll forgive my unexplained absence and I look forward to sharing again with you soon this craziness we call life.

Gotta go now though, the school run beckons… xx

The tantrum spectator rules

Sorry for the radio silence recently. I have been somewhat pre-occupied because… it’s here! The youngest is well and truly in the “terrible two’s”.  The horrendous injustice of being two and not being allowed to run into the road, having to wear a coat when it’s raining or freezing, or not being allowed to terrorise other shoppers in the local Tesco with a plastic sword are really testing his patience at the moment… and let me tell you, his mother is sooooo unreasonable (his rolling of the eyes tell me…!)

In the interests of everyone who should witness such a tantrum, I thought it socially responsible to share my thoughts on how NOT to re-act and what NOT to say to a parent in the throes of dealing with a feral two year old… Read and digest for your own safety 😉

Yes I do mean you, the receptionist in the doctors surgery yesterday who told me I might want to “try and keep my children a bit more quiet as there are people here poorlier than you…”   I assume she meant the other ONE patient in the waiting room, who was also a toddler with his mum and merrily joining in the madness, and who had also been waiting over an hour to be seen… Blood boiling!!!!…

Yes I do mean you, the old women in Sainsbury’s who feel the need to share with me stories starting with “In my day…” – my face clearly says, I don’t give a shit love… and they swiftly move on…

Yes I do mean you, the other mums who sigh and grimace in the street/ shop/ train/ café, like they have never had to deal with it and who really should know better…

  1. “Someone’s not happy”… When you are mid humiliation of your child throwing an absolute fit over, let’s face it, usually nothing!, someone stating the bleedin’ obvious is incredibly unhelpful. Don’t say it, it’s just annoying!
  2. “Someone woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning”… Meaningless statements are also incredibly unhelpful. Again don’t say it, it’s just annoying!
  3. “When my son/ daughter used to do that”… I know this is possibly said with the intention of being helpful, but comparing my child to a complete strangers is often pointless. Plus don’t you think I have tried all possible ways to stop this maniacal behaviour…? And even if you have a super dooper, tried and tested, gold star method of stopping the terrible-twos-tantrums, imparting this nugget of sacred knowledge is probably not best done when I am trying to remove my child without him hurting himself or me and with a shred of dignity in tact… (wishful thinking?!?)
  4. “He’s a feisty one”… We all know this is code for “Well he’s a little shit isn’t he!” Trust me, I am well aware of this and having it pointed out doesn’t do anyone any favours. The dictionary definition of feisty is as follows:

of a person (typically one who is relatively small), lively, determined and courageous. Can also mean touchy and aggressive.’

I think I should submit a photo of my ‘feisty’ one as an example of this in practice… But that would probably scare everyone and it would be filed under

‘Maniac: a person exhibiting extremely wild or violent behaviour’

  1. “Oh dear”… I’m not sure what response this is supposed to elicit? I say this to my four year old when he tells me he’s stubbed his toe, or when I’m talking to an elderly relative and need a less rude way of saying “bollocks”. The only response possible to a stranger saying this while you’re in tantrum management mode is, at best, a polite smile that says “oh no it’s fine, he just having a funny five minutes”…, at worst, a sarcastic grimace and death stare from mother to spectator that says “comment on this again and I will hurt you”.
  2. The sigh/ eyebrow raise/ grimace/ tut… By far and away the worst response/ reaction. Whilst the above are often annoying, more humiliating or just silly things to say, saying nothing but looking on in pity, sometimes disgust, and often with thinly veiled annoyance, makes the whole episode even more unbearable. No parent encourages or invites their child to act out in public – it’s just what they do when they are trying to assert control, vent their frustrations, are ill, tired, scared, just in a bad mood, or any or all of the above. No matter how confident or ballsy the mother is, it’s embarrassing and annoying and not how you want to spend your time with your child.

Instead of throw away comments, platitudes, looks or noises, what I’d love for someone to do when I am next in TMM (tantrum management mode) is to firstly ignore me/ us and let us slink away and deal with our meltdown without having to deal with everyone else’s reactions too!!

Or even better, if you do feel the need to say something, or you catch my eye as I try and stop my demon child from reaching hysteria, just say “I’ve been there too”, “You’re doing a great job”, “Don’t worry about it”, “Keep going, you’ll be fine”, “Let me buy you some chocolate”…  I would really love the last one to happen!

The “terrible twos” or whatever you want to call them are common, all kids go through it to some degree, they do eventually grow out of it (thank God!!!), and in the meantime we just need to grin and bear it.  We all hate it and fear our children have turned into monsters forever – this doesn’t mean we don’t still love them with every fibre of our being of course, we are just on tender hooks waiting for the next blood curdling scream which leads to meltdown because, God forbid, Hey Duggee has finished!!!

So let’s stand together and not make someone’s next meltdown worse – I feel your pain my friends and have your back every time. So go F yourselves the sighers, eye rollers, grimacers and sarcy commenters – you are not welcome here.

One day at a time

A lot of days I feel at some point like I am more than likely LOSING. MY. MIND!!!! Because sometimes, my boys just drive me crackers!!

I don’t feel like I am doing any better, and most days thankfully any worse!, than anyone else. I’m just a regular Mum getting through each day one step and toddler strop at a time, celebrating each success and moving on from the inevitable failures.  (FYI, getting to the end of the day without anyone being injured or completely losing their shit counts as a success! Pour yourself a glass of wine sister!)

Someone said to me recently, “You’re so patient with them …”

(Note to self: this was possibly code for your kids are being little shits and if they were mine I would kill them…?)

Anyway, for starters, if you knew me you would know that I am not a naturally very patient person (my husband can confirm this!) I do not suffer fools gladly, I often speak my mind (which sometimes is not appropriate – oops!), I want things done yesterday, and, I am told, I have ‘a look’ for anyone that’s really getting on my tits that often sorts that out pretty quickly… So being told I was patient when I often feel like I’m about to totally lose it kind of threw me a bit…

But afterwards it also made me think, I’m not being patient, I’m just being a Mum. (and also, Yay! For once I’ve not lost my rag in public and have instead appeared like a calm and sensible mother who’s in control of their shizzle!!)

Because if your children can’t be utter brats with you, who can they be with?… If they can’t act their worst and, after a good telling off, still get a hug from you, who else will do that?… Who else will put up with their questions about anything and everything under the sun at 9pm when they should have been asleep hours ago?… Who else will spend ages explaining to them why the seasons change, and why they have to go to sleep before its dark in the summer, yet keep them up way after nightfall in the winter?… Who else will pick out the ‘yucky bits’ from their dinner, or add carrots to any meal whether it’s in the recipe or not just because it’s their favourite veg (and let’s face it, if they’ll eat the veg it will go in!)?… Who else will crawl behind their wardrobe with a torch to prove to them that there are no monsters hiding there at 1am? (me last night!!)… Who else will high five them and cheer because they tried some fish at school when they usually HATE fish? (yet somehow it is delicious at school!! God damn dinner ladies!!)… Who else will fill up their Sky planner with episodes of Peter Rabbit and Q Pootle 5 so they can watch their favourite episodes over and over again?…

Don’t get me wrong, there are loads of incredible things about being a parent, but sometimes it feels like my boys save up all of their crankiness just for me. And as I’m the one that runs around after them 24/7, washes their clothes, clears up their mess and generally makes their lives work and be fun, that seems a little unfair. You’d look at these two beautiful, blonde haired boys, with their cheeky grins and think that this all can’t be true, yet I assure you it is my friends.

And I’ve made peace with the fact that that’s ok.

They’re like that with me because they can be – they know I will take them warts and all, all day, every day, forever, because I am their Mum. I am their safety net, their emergency release button, their catch all, their constant. I will be there and love them no matter what, even when they probably wish I’d bugger off and leave them alone. I will always do my best for them. And when my best isn’t good enough I will keep trying. It doesn’t matter if they are angels for everyone else and sometimes little monsters for me. It doesn’t matter if they save up their frustrations and tiredness for the end of the day when I am the only one to see it and receive the full brunt of the injustices of being a 4 year old or a two year old. Because they are mine and I am theirs.

And if that makes me ‘patient’, then pass me a sainthood people.

But what I’d really rather is for all parents to also make peace with the fact that this is normal. Everyone goes through it, feels shit about it and gets on with it behind closed doors. They are like this with us because you have done a super job of making them feel loved and secure, no matter what, and they know that you are unwavering no matter how much they whinge and scream and shout. You might shout and scream at them back, send them to their room or to the trusty ‘naughty step’, but no grudges will be held, no goodnight kisses and cuddles will be withheld, and tomorrow is another day. To start afresh. To start again. One day and one toddler strop at a time. Because they are yours, and you are thiers.

The weight of responsibility

minds under construction

Following my first blog post, I have received a lot of very kind and encouraging messages from friends and family – isn’t it nice to know you all think I am awesome (joke!)

Tom, a friend of mine, recently changed careers and went back to uni to become a teacher and, now qualified, has just started his first teaching post in a real live school with real live children!!!! **Eek**

He sent me a message last night which contained the following statement (which I’m sure he won’t mind me quoting) and this made me think, WOW!

“…For me, I get to see the parents looking longingly through the classroom window wondering what their child has ahead of them for the rest of the day! Your faces tell me I am now in charge of the most precious person in your life. This is a responsibility that plays heavily on my mind.”

Firstly, isn’t that a wonderful thing to say, and secondly, yes, I can confirm he is a brilliant bloke! How lucky his pupils and their parents have been to land him as their teacher.

But it made me think, all the talk at the start of a new school year is about how the kids are feeling and adjusting, and (certainly in my case!) where on the ninny scale the parents are when leaving them to forge ahead on their own for the first time…but what about the teachers who we are entrusting them with?

With your own emotions raw, it is easy to forget that the smiley face at the front of the classroom is more than likely bricking it just a little bit too!… They will have been planning and preparing and spending hours (both paid and unpaid!) making sure that everything is just right and ready for their new pupils… They have to cope with the onslaught of new emotions of 25 kids they don’t know, not to mention the parents hovering round the door… They have to make sure that everything is perfect for each child to have a happy and successful start to their education and school experience because if they don’t the knock on effects of that could be felt for many years to come…

That my friends is a lot of pressure and, God forbid they get it wrong, I’m pretty sure that most parents won’t be backwards in coming forward with their thoughts and opinions if they think their precious little one isn’t happy or being looked after well enough (me included!!).

I know a lot of people who are teachers, and have seen how many hours they put in and how much they care about their pupils and profession, but I’ve never seen it in terms of such personal responsibility.

I think I speak for all the parents I know when I say we all hope our children will have the best teacher possible, and that our kids will flourish under them, developing a love for school and learning which will set them up for life.

Today I am making a pledge to also be the best school-parent possible, to support my sons’ teachers, to appreciate them and help them as needed, and to make sure that they know I recognise the responsibility they have willingly bared for my precious child, and that I love them all the more for it.

Well done Mr Brading Sir, today you have given a big high-five for teachers. Good luck with your new job, I know you will be just perfect. x

Big girls don’t cry… or so I thought!

I’m not a crier. In fact I pride myself on being quite a strong person. A bit of a bad-ass if you will… well sometimes anyway!

But these past few weeks I have to say, I have been a bit of a wreck. Changes are a foot dear friends you see and change is hard. And so it turns out, this big girl does cry, quite a lot actually…

For the past four years I have devoted my life to my two young boys.  I very willingly gave up a good career in PR to become a stay-at-home-Mum.  I knew as soon as I looked into the perfect and oh so blue eyes of my first born, that I couldn’t return to the rat race, the constant demands from (often completely unreasonable!) clients, the late nights, the weekend events… in a heartbeat, I had given it up because this little bundle was infinitely more important, and I was happy with that. Along came number two a few years later and so the daily cycle of playgroups, playdates, naps, snacks, bickering over toys (them not me!), bedtime tantrums and grey hairs (me this time!) continued.

Last week however, all that changed and I went from being a stay-at-home-Mum, to the school run Mum!

Through no deliberate planning, my two little monkeys have hit the ages at exactly the same time whereby my eldest is now off to big boy school, and my youngest is starting pre-school. All within a week of each other. I’ve gone from not a minutes peace and always having at least one of them with me… to nothing.

And I have to say, I was not prepared for the emotions that starting big boy school would bring! Bursting with love and pride, we excitedly set off that first morning, with little man dressed smartly in his uniform… Ready to wave him off happily and feel sorry for those Mums who were blubbing, or having their little ones coaxed away as they tried to be brave, it was in fact me who was fighting back the tears. While my little super star trotted happily into the classroom without a backwards glance, I was left feeling not as elated and as ‘free’ as I thought… I just felt a bit sad.

Sad that my baby is no longer that. Sad that his teacher will get to spend all day with him and laugh at his funny stories and voices. Sad that someone else now gets to teach him new things and give him new experiences. Sad that someone else will witness him blossoming with knowledge. Sad that someone else will see him make new friends and know those children better than I.

Because that’s my job she’s taken over.

Even though he is so excited and super ready for school, I find myself not being able to keep pace with him quite yet. I’m not ready and I find myself wondering if anyone sending their first child off to school ever is…? For all the bravado and smiles at the gates and in the playground with all the other school run Mums, how many other parents are heading home with a lump in their throat, watery eyes and the need to give themselves a mental slap round the chops to snap them out of it…? More than would care to admit it I suspect (me included!!)

And with our youngest one now also in pre-school in the mornings, even he doesn’t feel like such a baby anymore. Before I know it, he too will be strolling through the school gates with the same air of confidence and excitement as his big brother… and then I really might lose it!

I’m aware that this probably sounds horribly selfish. Of course I know they need to grow up, and I would much rather they do so confident and excited about what’s coming next. But still, isn’t it natural for the heart to be scared for your children – for I believe that a parent is forever changed as soon as they become ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’ and no amount of rationalisation can change that.

I never thought of myself as “not working” – name me another job that doesn’t pay (except in cuddles, kisses and usually some spat out biscuit!), where you’re on call 24 hours a day/7 days a week, where there are no sick days, no holiday days, no end of year bonus, no christmas party… You can’t, so you also can’t tell me I wasn’t working.

Everyone has been saying to me, “What will you do now with all your free time?”… “Are you going to go back to work?”… Trouble is, I’m not finished with this job yet.