Help! I stopped reading the manual

I am behind in my Mummy homework. As if I don’t have enough to already feel like I’m failing at. At some point, and I couldn’t tell you exactly when, I relaxed. Beware the relaxed and chilled out Mummy, there is almost certainly something she has forgotten to do.

This feeling of dread, guilt and blind panic has all been brought on by the smallest thing, such a trivial, insignificant little thing that I didn’t have my Mummy foresight, my parental guard up. She has, wait for it, A WOBBLY TOOTH! *alarms wail in the distance and women burst into tears in the street.

How the utter fuck did this happen? Do you know what I tell people when they ask what the craic is? I tell them I just had a baby. Do you know what I did when someone commented on my blog and suggested I stop calling her a toddler? I was mean and defensive because OF COURSE SHE IS ONLY TINY, NO YOU SHUT UP!

This little person that I live with is growing like a weed. She is more akin to a really short teenager than a massive baby. And at some point I stopped paying attention and reading ahead. When you have a baby it is all about the milestones, the next achievable moment of development or change. You know what they weigh, what the next expected thing is, whether it’s rolling over or walking or solid foods, it’s all neatly mapped and you know what comes next. This intense amount of activity keeps a fairly steady pace right through to primary school applications and putting on their own jumpers and using a knife and fork. Once you get to year 4 ish it’s like the world of parenting advice starts to collectively mumble, “So have you potty trained? It’s really important to check distances to the local nursery, and are you doing school dinners because mnbdbjdb…” Sorry I didn’t quite catch that? “Oh I said you should probably bbnmmmmmdmdmnd” what’s that now? “Oh you know, kinda blah, ach like whatever” I need answers!

Wobbly teeth, wobbly bloody teeth. What’s next, a tattoo and a boyfriend? Hey daughter of mine! Can you tie your laces? Also who does your taxes? I feel like I’m not prepared, I have no idea what the next thing is. Am I not paying enough attention or does everyone feel like that? Honestly what happens at 5-6? When are they supposed to tie their own shoes? Should she be able to ride a bike now? She’s not the strongest swimmer. It’s like I have a backlog of knowledge I’m supposed to impart and I was so busy congratulating myself on teaching her to wee in a toilet and all the other crap I did for 4 years that I stopped actually teaching her. Oops.

Parenting is like an endless game of catch up. When people use the old cliches of ‘juggling’ or ‘spinning plates’ they aren’t wrong. Who knew one tiny little tooth could carry so much Mummy guilt. Well played nature, I was in serious danger of thinking I was doing OK for 5 seconds.

It’s not even really the tooth, or even the fact that she is getting bigger. It’s the fact I think that when she said “Mummy my tooth feels funny” and then put her chubby little finger on it and wobbled it back and forward, my first thought wasn’t tooth fairy, or explanations or excitement. My first thought was ‘Oh shit that’s right! They fall out!’ Like it was brand new information. And it instantly made me doubt myself. If I forgot about that, what else have I forgotten? I need a bigger calendar. The calendar that hangs in the kitchen is the only reason any of my life happens, if it’s not in the calendar it doesn’t happen, that’s the rule. So I need a bigger one, like an 18 year one, where I can flick ahead and pencil in period talks, and internet safety and walking to school alone and having their own house key and handling bullys. I need a parenting alarm app on my phone that dings and I can look at my phone and there is a neat little reminder ‘consider training bras this month’. You know like the pregnancy ones we all downloaded, “Your child is the size of a dining chair and eats nothing but dairy and chicken goujons, it has developed a sense of sarcasm this week.” how helpful would that be! Come on computer peeps, get to it.

I am going to be better. I AM GOING TO BE BETTER. I am going to be prepared and on time and have the lunch money on the right day and have the answers to the next milestone. I am going to be super mum, tupperware packing, wise and unflappable super mum. That does NOT do homework in the carpark, or clean uniforms with a sponge over the sink at 8am, or freak out every time a baby tooth falls out. I. AM. FINE. Right?

And if not, I will take great comfort from the fact that we are all as shit and panicked as each other, it’s just that some of us can use a hairbrush and are better actors, right? God I hope so!

 

One Section at a time.

“Ok so that’s a wee foot there, I’ll just tuck that back in”…….. WHAT!

That was one of the many things that I didn’t prepare myself to hear going in to the hospital. Having a baby is scary, so scary in fact that we do about 9 months of reading and googling and collecting information to try and prepare ourselves for yes, parenthood, but also the totally ridiculous fact that an entire human is gonna come out of you at some point. And what’s worse is that you can’t even be 100% sure of where exactly it is coming out of!

Neither option is particularly appealing. There’s the traditional doot exit, or the equally fabulous magicians assistant exit, where you lie down and someone saws you in half. Delightful. So whatever way this goes, there is fairly good chance it’s going to totally suck at some point. BUT, and it’s very important to hold on to this, it will also be the most Badass, amazing, uniquely ‘you’ thing that you ever do.

Now, back to the original foot comment. My precious little munchkin missed the day they were handing out instructions on how to be a foetus so never bothered turning around (so selfish). She was breech for the entire pregnancy, like she never even tried to get that wee head down! And this of course pointed to one thing….a section. Hearing the words Cesarean Section can bring up a whole menu of new emotions (which is exactly what a pregnant person wants, more emotions). I did the initial reaction noise of “Oh, um, oh right ok, well that’s um, ok right”, you know that noise you have been making since you peed on the stick. But as the news started to drift from the pregnancy fog in to my actual working brain I had two simultaneous thoughts. One, Oh holy sweet moses amazing! No labour, oh my god you shouldn’t even think that but here we are, they are gonna just lift that kid out of ya and we can all go home. Two, did you just fail at something? It feels a lot like you just failed a little bit.

Of course I read all I could get my hands on about breech delivery and 99% likely cesarean sections however must have missed the bit that tells you that while this is common and hard work and just as scary, there will forever now be a little voice in a comments section somewhere, or a reference in an overheard conversation or a simple slip of the tongue that will give you the distinct impression that you haven’t really ‘given birth’ that you are somehow less. Even now, nearly 5 years later, I still come across it occasionally. So listen, really really listen. If you grow a person and then get it from inside to outside, that’s enough. It is not a competition, you don’t get a special tick beside your name in the hospital chart if you were ‘extra brave’, there is not a board of births written up like the fucking derby. There is no right way to do this, there is no wrong way to do it, and it’s unfortunately also not your decision, or your midwifes, or your partners.  The important thing to remember when you go to have a baby is that NOTHING is off the table. Never presume, I know this is beyond frustrating when all you want is a little control but those little people have no idea what you have planned and shit happens (often literally, sorry) so just try as much as you can to go with it, with what your body needs. I had always known I would be a section delivery, and was booked in a week before my due date. And still, with all that clever planning, less than 12 hours before my planned section I went into labour. Thanks kid. I know people that have gone through hours of labour and ended up having a section, I know people who had medical emergency’s and needed a section, I know people who elected to have them. There are no rules to childbirth. You have to think of it like planning  a party, except you don’t know what date it’s on, or where it is, or how many are coming. Prepared but vague, very much like parenting as it turns out. However I warn you now there are moments, and for everyone it’s different, but there are moments that no class or book can prepare you for. Like the moment that the midwife checks how far along you are, you know the old ‘hand up the puppet’ routine, and a tiny foot gives her a hefty kick! And she says “I’ll just tuck that foot back it”. Those are the moments that you will hear yourself say insane things like “I’m sorry, what the fuck? is my baby falling out?”  This also applies to those well behaved head down babies who can get themselves into all sorts of shapes so don’t be alarmed if you casually hear “oh I feel a face” or something equally bizarre.

Cesareans can be scary, and for a million reasons. They can be planned, or emergency, they can be part of your plan or completely out of the blue. Epidurals are scary but not that bad. The test where they rub ice all over you is weird, but not scary. Your arms go out like you are on a cross and it aches like a bastard, but it’s not too scary. And that screen is for your own good, my partner looked behind it and hasn’t really looked at me the same since. I can only imagine that behind that screen is fucking scary.

If you have the wonderful luxury of being able to pack for the possibility of surgery (and honestly you should anyway, just in case) then there are a few essentials…

Massive pants. Whatever you are thinking right now, go bigger, and if the weather allows, a maxi dress to go home in. Whatever wardrobe you have right now, go have a look and think WAISTBAND. Because you are going to want to avoid those things like a call centre cold call. The problem with a C section is that the scar is going to be somewhere around where your pants sit, or your jeans (jeans, hahahaahahahahah), or any trousers really, so think soft, soft and loose, like your boobs after all this is over.You want those pants that old ladies wear, in that section of the underwear department you never find yourself in, the ones that cover your bellybutton, I’m not kidding.

The cushion to hold against yourself when you cough or sneeze or laugh. They aren’t kidding. I sneezed the day after my section and was actually surprised it wasn’t like that scene where the lift doors open in the shining, I presumed I was going to sneeze my innards across the room. Also be prepared for the distinct feeling when you first stand that they have sewed it up too tight and not given you enough stomach to stand up fully. They definitely haven’t but it’s a horrible feeling. Oh! Speaking of horrible feelings, you know how when someone pushes a baby out, they are also pushing and moving everything else inside them that has been living in the square inch below your lungs for the past 20 weeks? Yeah you won’t do that, they just lie you down and hoof it out so you may get what is sometimes delightfully referred to as ‘the drop’ where you feel all your insides suddenly use up all that spare room. Like you just got on a rollercoaster. .

Other than that, you will need all the usual, post ‘I had a baby’ accoutrements. The only real difference, and there is no nice way to say this or describe it, is that you aren’t pushing, and all the crap that comes out with a baby is still going to come out. So the bleeding after can be a lot heavier for  C section women. I mean I’m not a doctor but I just know that the maternity pads I needed should have been made by Boeing, that my sofa is probably haunted now, the horrors it has endured, and that once while boiling the kettle, out of nowhere, the amount of red on my  kitchen floor made me presume I had been shot and was too tired to feel it.

The actual act of having a section is kind of nothing to do with you because you aren’t really doing anything, but at the same time, the most vulnerable you will ever feel and the most personal experience. I remember a lot of fidgeting. I remember thinking I was cold, glad I wasn’t having contractions anymore, but cold. I kept brushing my hair away or straining my neck to look around. I put a hand to every wire and line in my arm, I had to be told very gently to just lie still. It’s unnerving in a thousand ways, and incredibly emotional. Honestly I think I had imagined it being very sterile and impersonal and somehow not the way you are ‘supposed’ to have a baby. But what even is that? It was quiet, and focused and intimate and unreal in a way I couldn’t have imagined. If there is any part of you, a tiny voice saying you are giving something up or losing an experience by having a section, let go of it.

If the scar is what your mind keeps coming back to, I’ll tell you something right now, that kid could float out of you left nostril and your body will still be unrecognizable afterwards. Babies, in no uncertain terms, fuck your shit up. Yes we get a crude smiley face drawn on for the rest of our lives, but eventually I PROMISE you won’t even notice it, it will just be there. like your BCG scar or if you are too young to remember that torture, like the tramp stamp you thought was a good idea. It’s a part of you and what you managed to do. I’m not really one for all this ‘tiger stripe, badges of honor’ crap, if they were that awesome, 18yr olds would be drawing them on with fake tan, but they are there, and they are there because you created a person. The scar is shit, it hurts and you have to look after it when you are at your most exhausted but if you have a scar, your fanny is probably in Ok shape so silver linings and all that. Seriously though, it’s not a vanity I thought I had, I hadn’t given any real time or consideration to the fact that I would have a fairly sizeable scar for life, on the front, where I can see it, where the person who lies on top of me can see it. It’s a formidable scar, it’s the biggest scar I have, it’s the only time so far I have had major surgery. Although it’s also the first time I have ever turned food into people so it’s probably worth a good scar.

It’s ok to not be in love with your stripes right away and to hate your scar, but it’s only ok for a little bit. Because you will have to get used to it, you will learn to love it. Someday a three yr old will sit on your lap and rummage through the folds in your clothes and pull at you until she finds skin and will trace her tiny finger along that scar and say, “Mummy is that where I lived in your tummy?” and you will smile and say yes! Yes it is, your first address! Oh and my final piece of advice, DO NOT, in your sleep deprived stupor, while discussing all things mummy, with weetabix in your hair and baby sick over the shoulder of your cardigan, refer to yourself as having been sectioned. That’s something else.

Book smart

It’s bedtime, she is clean (ish), in her pj’s and the nightlight is twinkling stars all over the ceiling. “Can I have two stories tonight” comes the welcome sound of a kid who just loves books. I’m a total bookworm and usually have a pile somewhere of ‘still to read’, I have books that I read over and over like going to visit relatives, characters that I know and start to miss when the right hand has far few pages than the left. So as a Mum I got so excited about the idea of getting to read the old books I fell in love with as a child and thankfully I have managed to raise a kid who loves them as much as I do!

Spot the dog, Hungry Caterpillar, Alfie books, stories that are so vivid that just the illustrations can bring back a tsunami of nostalgia! Waves of memories from my old room to rainbow bright bedclothes and glowbugs, this is the point of reading at a young age, yes the stories, yes the characters and the little moral endings that tie it all up neatly, but also their ability to capture a moment in time better than nearly anything else I can think of. Thinking of yor childhood books let you remember more than a cartoon or a photo ever will. They take you back to reading with a torch after bedtime, being cosy and safe in a way purely reserved for childhood sleep. They can make you sad again and excited again, they smell like old cupboards and musty toy boxes. Yes books are my thing and I hope that they are hers because in my humble opinion, they are a little bit magical.

So what to do when you are presented with a new one. I was given a childrens book by a local author recently and asked to feature it on the blog and let parents know about it I guess. I’ve never ‘reviewed’ a book before so I’ll save us all that misery and just not even try. Because here’s the thing, for all my love of books, I can read her Roald Dahl till I am blue in the face but 4 or 5 pages into a classic like Matilda or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I will hear the words ” Mummy, when are there pictures?” or “Who’s Grampa Bucket?”. It’s too much, she is 4! She doesn’t need character history or an intriguing plot twist, she needs simple characters, names she will remember, rhyme and rhythm a smile and an ending within 5 minutes!

Kids books are no joke. I think we read these little pocket stories and the world and his wife says ‘I could write a kids book’. I assure you now, you probably can’t, or at least you can but it will be utter shite. You know all those times that you were geting changed or lying in bed and your charming little offspring said “Mummy you’re fat” or “why do you have lines on your tummy”? Kids are ruthless! They are unfiltered, miniature, scathing critics and if you hide a flimsy story under good pictures or vise versa they will see it.

 

I am happy to report this is neither. It’s sweet, well pitched, and easy to read. As an adult I read it and thought ok, sure. But it’s really hard to tell what will capture their attention. But sure enough, every night this week its made the cut of “fine, two stories, which ones?”. So I guess thats my review! She asked for it, I read it, she asked for it again! As a parent of a 4yr old I can’t give you a more ringing endorsement than that!

The WEATHERBIES ‘Sammy Sun is coming out to play’ is available to purchase online now at www.theweatherbies.co.uk

Supermum

I was a shit mum yesterday. Well let me qualify that a bit. I was OK, but in a real and very practical way. I was just shit. I didn’t really pay attention to the 400 questions she asked, I know I didn’t answer most of them. I made literally the fastest, most hassle free dinner, that she ate in front of the TV while I had a head full of chores I could be doing and just sat there thinking about them. What else? I forgot to turn the hot water on for bath time and only realised at 7pm that I didn’t have a uniform clean for the morning so had to put a wash on then. I rolled my eyes too much, looked at Facebook too much, I was just generally crap at Mummying all day.

There was no real reason for it. I just couldn’t get going. Couldn’t preempt and prepare. I was tired and lethargic and really half assing the whole day. And it’s OK. It’s OK for loads of reasons. I’m a grown up is one. I’m pretty sure 6 episodes of danger mouse won’t kill her is another. It’s OK to have an off day. And the main reason is that I knew it was an off day, this isn’t the norm. I’m a fucking brilliant mum. And I’ll take a pretty good guess that you are too. We recognise the shit days because we are rocking it all the other days. But do you ever see social media posts saying “was amazing today, I’m really nailing this parenting thing”, or meet a friend in a shop and have her answer how are you with “Good, I did all the mummy things and the laundry is away so I’m feeling pretty smug right now!”?  No, because you need to go above and beyond to brag about it but just lower your standards a millimeter to feel guilty about it.

So I’ve decided I’m not going to do that. In fact, even if is wildly self indulgent, I am going to make a list of all the things I am really good at, as a reminder that even on the shit days, I’m still doing a damn good job. Here goes…

  1. I can hold a baby and a bottle in the same arm
  2. I can scramble eggs with one hand
  3. I know the names of every member of Paw Patrol
  4. I can execute a full nappy change on a sleeping baby (in the dark!)
  5. I can get more done as a mum before noon than I used to achieve in a week
  6. I do the voices when I read bedtime stories
  7. I can understand several made up languages
  8. I know the difference between cranky cry and real cry
  9. Even though I can’t do a solitary push up, I can carry a sleeping 4yr old to bed
  10. I can function on 2hrs sleep for a surprising amount of time
  11. I always have hand sanitiser and wipes
  12. I taught a human to wee in the toilet
  13. I can do all this when I REALLY DON’T WANT TO
  14. I can do all this alone
  15. I can cut teeny tiny nails
  16. I have managed somehow to keep fairly good photo albums of all of it so far
  17. I raised a child that shouts “sweet dreams Mummy!” every night
  18. I have advice that is useful to other mums now
  19. I know my phonics
  20. I am confident that I’m doing OK

 

It’s not an exciting list, but it wasn’t an easy list. It’s tiny sentences that took months and years to achieve. It’s always the little things. Yes it’s school applications and teaching them to walk and generally keeping them alive. But the bits that are specific to your house, those little eccentricities are the things your kid will remember. The makings of a very happy childhood. The safety and constant of mum (or dad!) is what I think gives a child confidence. Their ability to step out and be weird and funny and kind and generous, that’s you! You make that possible by playing those wee games no one else would know, staying up late to assemble the next day and clear up today while they are happy and warm in bed. By doing those ten thousand little unseen tasks you do. Being a mum is hard work,  brilliant, but hard work and sometimes on those days when you finish bedtime and think “Christ that was awful” just take a second and remember the dishes and the clothes, and make sure you have a coat and not too fast, and yes I’m watching and the googling Halloween costumes while you were in work and the list you have in your head right now. That’s why. That’s why they are lucky to have you. That’s why you are an amazing mum. That’s why I’m an amazing mum, and fuck it, why not tell yourself that occasionally.

I just think it is so easy to overlook all that makes up being a mum. I know, I know, It’s what you’re supposed to do so why make a big deal, but it’s the fact that it’s not once, it’s every day, all day, forever! So yeah, I had a crap day, I’ll have another one soon I’m sure but for today I am parenting the shit outta life and just for once I’m going to make sure everyone knows it! Make your list, safe in the knowledge that you are a Supermum. We all are.

 

A letter to my little girl

Oh God. Fuck fucking fuckity fuck. It happened. You’re in school now.

Right now you are sitting at a tiny table, on a tiny chair, with other peoples tiny humans. Are you happy? Do you speak up and take part or is it all happening around you? If you get too warm will you get an arm stuck trying to take your jumper off? Do you know where the bathroom is? Can you open your juice? Do you miss me?

When I meet people I haven’t seen for a while and they ask what’s going on, I tell them about you, my baby. My baby did this, my wee toddler did the funniest thing. But you’re not a baby. Not any more. You have a uniform and a schedule and a classroom and a teacher that isn’t me and I CAN’T BE HAVING IT! The thing is that it’s just you and me, always has been, and while I am so very proud that you wandered in happy and excited and didn’t cry or cling to me, a part of me needs you to need me. I know everyone always needs their mummy no matter what age they are but I need you to rely solely on me for a wee while longer. Isn’t that selfish?

Because no one will know you like I do. I know when you have the answer but won’t speak up, I know what you mean when no one else can understand you, I know by looking at you across a room that you need a wee, or you’re hungry or thirsty or upset. I’m sure your teacher is lovely and I’m sure she wants only the best for you but she won’t know, not like I do. She won’t know that you didn’t say a solitary word until you were nearly two but knew your ABC’s from flashcards we used to do in the bath. Or that you walked at 11 months. That you like every single Disney princess apart from Snow White because the queen scares you. That you sing when you think no one can hear you. That you wiggle your tiny wee bum when you get tired. That Neptune is your favorite planet. That you will let people push in front of you forever because you are gentle and kind in a way I can’t take credit for, it’s just who you are. She won’t know how sensitive you can be, how quiet, how clever. And it’s not a slight on her that she won’t know. She won’t know because you aren’t her baby.

I have watched you struggle to roll over, learn to walk, I have watched you sleep for varying amounts of time every night since you were born. I have worried in some form about you every second since you were born. I know every inch of you, I grew every inch of you! I would know if a hair was missing. I could find you if they lined up every little girl in the world and all you got to see was a hand, I would know you.

And so I take that little hand and walk it across a car park, in a door and let it go. I don’t want you to cry, I want you to WANT to go, it’s a good thing, but God how I want to stay with you. Keep that little hand and guide you through your day. But instead that little hand waves at me and you smile and I go. And I feel like my hands have never been more empty. I give all the other parents a quick glance and see different versions of the same thing. Wringing hands, heads down, a few tears maybe. Busy parents headed to work, glancing back so much they nearly walk into each other, stay at home parents loitering like teenagers at the gates, all different, all the same.

You will never know the love I have for you. I could tell you all day every day and you still won’t know. I’m so proud of you. Of everything you do. It amazes me that you can walk and talk and open a fucking yogurt without me, so my brain will probably explode when you write a sentence. Is it like this forever? Do parents look at their kids getting married or learning to drive and think “How?! I remember teaching you how to talk and now you want to be a lawyer!”. I am constantly in awe of you and in awe that I can love someone this much. I literally want to strangle you sometimes but I know I would get my hands near that chubby wee neck and end up covering you in kisses because you still have that baby roll under your chin, that soft baby skin. And when all signs of babyhood are gone and you are a young woman standing in front of me toe to toe, eye to eye, you will more than likely be shouting, and I will see those eyes, those eyes that I knew would be brown and came out the bluest blue that ever blued and all I will see is the baby I made. I know you. I know all of you.

So go school, make friends and I’ll learn to be ok with you not needing me the same way. Get older and wiser and I’ll watch from the side, ready with wipes and plasters and kisses. Know that you will be fine, that I’m waiting for you, remember that I would walk through fire before I let you down, and know that I only want you to be careful with your uniform because I tucked my whole heart in there, and I hate laundry.

My little girl, on her way. Taking her first real steps into her own life. I hope you love it. I hope you thrive and learn and laugh. Take care, I made you from scratch and you are perfect.

 

Love Mum.

BOOBS!

Ah boobs. Breasticles, fun bags, jubblies, fun pillows, lady lumps, and apparently the controversial source of all our power. Recently, in case you missed it, an elected politician came out and said that a woman breastfeeding was akin to exhibitionism. Now I’m paraphrasing a little there but the fact was that he opened his mouth and the words breastfeeding, exhibitionism and voyeurism all came out.

Of course there was the expected backlash of people saying “how very dare him! What a dinosaur, who thinks like that?”, and that’s just the right response, but I couldn’t help feeling it was missing the point. Everyone focused on the fact that breastfeeding is socially acceptable and allowed in all these places and no one seemed to point out how utterly creepy that sentence was.  However much that may have been a throwaway, fucking ridiculous thing to say, what he did with those words was to tart up some babies lunchtime and insinuate that any Mother who the next day found herself in public about to feed her kid, was out for the thrill. He took natures dinner and turned it into flashing. That’s what I find hard to get over. That’s what I found dangerous and irresponsible.

It was a statement that took the act of breastfeeding and likened it it ‘getting your tits out’. An act of exhibitionism is:

‘extravagant behavior that is intended to attract attention to oneself.’

Now granted I bottle fed, but pretty much every other mum I know has breastfed and not once in the hundreds of times that they have fed their children have I had to tell them to calm down, get off that table, or stop shaking them at traffic. On the other hand, breastfeeding is:

the feeding of babies and young children with milk from a woman’s breast. A way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.’

Not quite bouncing your knockers about in Magaluf is it?

So what to do? How to backtrack the sexulization of your mammaries  so we can all go about our day? It’s a huge conversation, a double D hurdle and I wish I knew where to begin. If you see someone out breastfeeding in public and feel absolutely compelled to go over and say something negative and not keep your big gob shut, then please, PLEASE, make sure you haven’t done any of the following for fear of being hypocrite:

Gotten hungry while out, Eaten in a public place, used your hands for lifting or waving or any of their other natural functions, walked using your perfectly designed feet, looked at something with your eyes, bent your arm using your elbow (what are you a pervert!), allowed your body to turn your food into energy or at any point during your journey had the absolute gall to turn oxygen into carbon dioxide, you do that in your own home, no one want to see that!

You see, you can find them sexy, or giggle at how funny they are or have a leer at how good they look all pushed up, and don’t they look good! (is there any greater pleasure than a bra that holds them up like they won the FA cup?) BUT, and I don’t want to ruin them for you, I know they are delightful and if you don’t have them they must seem like mystical chesty wonders, that’s all besides the point, none of that is what they are for. The fact that the world has been finding them and jiggling them about while screaming ‘buy this! buy this!’ doesn’t outweigh their primary function, literally the only reason they are there in the first place. To put food in tiny faces.

Likening this to something that you find exhibitionist, because ‘oh boobies!’ just isn’t good enough. I find it dangerous, troubling and a bit pathetic. So yeah, make your mealy mouthed excuses, and don’t change your opinion, but know in your heart when you lie down in bed and it’s quiet and no one can see you that the problem is you, not us. Grow up.

If you don’t want to see them when they are doing their job then maybe you shouldn’t see them at all, I’m presuming all boobs offend you, the sight of any stray side boob would whip you into a moral frenzy,  no? Why don’t you go home, check your google history and get back to us.

I truly have no strong opinion either way in the way a mother feeds her child, that falls under ‘shit that isn’t my business’. Everyone knows the extensive benefits of breastfeeding, everyone knows happy, healthy, child genius bottle fed babies, that today is not the debate. Right now lets put that aside and just worry about your right to feed your child at all. However you decide to go ahead with your parenting, the fear that someone will shout at you for doing it or you will be asked to leave somewhere should never be a deciding factor.

The fact that you got it all to work, that kid latched like a champion and you powered through night feeds and blocked ducts and shields and all the rest of it should mean that you get a big comfy sofa, an latte and someone legally obliged to rub your shoulders while you do it, not that you be relegated to the disabled bog or covering your baby with a tablecloth like Jacko is about to swing it off a balcony.

It’s tough, like every faction of parenting, it’s tough, but I hope someday at least the people we put in power are good enough to realise that the sight of an unruly nipple will not in fact pull apart the moral fiber of society. We deserve better, and I hope before my daughter has her own babies, we get it.

You’re doing great.

Recently a Mummy friend of mine had her husband leave on business for a week. That meant a week of dinners, nursery drop offs and bedtimes flying solo. It was about half way through this week when she called me to say “I can’t believe this is your life all the time! You must be exhausted. I’m getting a quick taster and it’s shattering, good job you!” Well I set down that phone, stuck the kettle on, made sure the 4YO was alive before I looked too smug and I gave myself a big old pat on the back.

I’ll be honest too, that was a while ago now and I’m still living off it. It was recognition of a job well done, I mean, done at least. How well it’s done depends on a whole range of factors from weather to sleeping patterns to planned activities. Raising a toddler is similar to planning the Olympics. You can put together all the plans you want, dress it up and know whats supposed to happen, but if it pisses down and the athletes didn’t sleep, no one is having a good time. That and anyone watching from the outside doesn’t think it looks THAT hard.

But that quick nod, that appreciation for what you do all day, even if it looks like all you achieved was leaving the house once for milk, that is all you need. That powered me through another week of doubts and and washing and endless, mind numbing questions. ‘Mummy are you going to dry my hair?’ Yes. ‘With a hairdryer?’ Yes. ‘Is a hairdryer for drying things? Yes. ‘Like hair?’ Seriously kid! All the silences don’t need filled, you can let some go by!

Now when this delightful phone call first happened I thought ‘Oh there’s a blog right there about how single Mummy’s need that wee voice of encouragement every so often’. But truth is, as I go to write this, it’s all Mummy’s. Yes we single Mummy’s need it, of course we do. It can be lonely at 4am when your baby has as temp and you only get to have a conversation between your own brain and google about what exactly constitutes a dangerous fever. There is no compromise or shared experience, if you impart some new knowledge or hit one of those fucking awful made up milestones, there is no shared knowing glances or secret high fives, it’s just you when they go to bed, and you have to be the one to say as you tidy away toys, that was pretty good today, or more often than not chastise yourself too much for all the bits you could have done better. Yes all of this is true for single Mummy’s, but I’m pretty sure it’s true for all of us. Do you have a tiny person in your house that looks up and calls you Mum? Then chances are you are pretty sure nothing you do is quite good enough, you have gone batshit crazy multiple times since the arrival of said tiny person and you sometimes aren’t entirely sure you can do it anymore.

But let me tell you this, it’s really, really fucking important, You are doing a really good job. I don’t know you, but you are doing a good job. Do you know how important those little words are? Do you know how important it is to really hear them when someone tells you that? This shit is hard. Parenting takes all the worst parts of you and puts them to the forefront of your mind, it is a daily torture of looking at a miniature version of yourself and rather than being filled with confidence and sage, wise life lessons, all you have is the endless mantra ‘try not to fuck it up too much, try not to fuck it up too much’.

It’s a lonely job, single or not, and that simple act of someone looking in and saying “two colours for dinner? Nice work!” makes all the difference.

Everyone needs to feel appreciated. In work, in life, everyone needs to know that they have been seen, that they put the effort in and someone saw it. I think maybe sometimes we underestimate just how important that is. When your parenting reservoirs are running low and you seriously can’t make another uneaten dinner or clean wee off the sofa another time today, that can make the difference. a quick arm around the shoulder, a wink at the end of the day, when the kids are in bed to say ‘I saw ya, that was tough and I saw you’.

It’s a moral boost, an encouraging nudge and a hand held out to grab when it all gets a bit much. And remember if you have this going on, if you are in a good place, are you giving it out? Meet a mum in the park and in between the tales of tantrums and failures, remember to say good job. That’s it, so easy. “You know you are doing a good job, god it’s hard sometimes right?”. It’s a respect, an acknowledgment that no matter the parenting, it’s hard and you are seen and valued. You have three? Wow, good job, I genuinely don’t know how they all have clothes on. Your first? Jesus look at you all dressed and outside, good job! Headed back to work? Christ lady, good job!  Look they are all in bed! Good job. Look, you did exactly the same thing as yesterday and will probably do it all again tomorrow, good job. And no, no one puts away all the laundry anymore, don’t worry.

Appreciation, a little bit of love. Such an easy fix. If you aren’t finding it where you need it, ask. You will feel much better. Or know that I think you’re class if that helps. And lastly, find it in yourself. I know that sounds incredibly cheesy, but it’s kinda true. The whole world can feel like it is geared towards criticizing your parenting, the goals are unattainable and the internet full of ways you have done it wrong before you even start. Why add to that list? If the whole world is ready to tear us down, don’t add your voice in with them. Telling yourself you did good today, trying to feel pride without mummy guilt, it’s harder than it sounds but worthwhile.

So yeah, well done today, you’re doing great! Don’t forget to tell someone today.