The rules of ill – when you have children

The real problem with not being very well off is that you don’t have the money to separate yourself from the other sick people in your house – or as some like to call them – the family.

It’s all about sharing – sharing without your consent. Sharing germs, sharing beds, sharing air, sharing bathrooms. You’re all sick, exhausted and horrendously unattractive and holed up in a house of shit like the last few humans hiding away during a zombie apocalypse.

The “ill” will more than likely originate from the child in the family – if you have a toddler who has a social life, basically, you’re screwed. He’s a little germ dealer you see. He will spend his time licking floor jigsaw puzzles, door handles and sticking his fingers in other children’s noses. While he’s out he will collect as many different strains of a virus as he can and settle down on your sofa before unleashing them into your household.

I never feel like a ‘mum’ – that title still doesn’t sit well on my shoulders. Until my child is ill. Suddenly a small person is vomiting all over my large textured rug, and over my duvet, and over the cat and I start screaming “it’s ok sweetie, it’s ok sweetie” running from wall to wall frantically looking for help and realising that no one is coming to help me. I’m it. I’m the mum. It’s my job, and mine alone – to mop up this spew and burn the rug and hose him down and throw out the cat.

You find yourself dealing with all manners of horror that you never thought you would be able to do before becoming a parent, and that are, by the way, never any less disgusting.

The next ten hours are a rollercoaster of emotions. You’ll go from assuming it’s just one of those things that children get, to Googling symptoms and terrifying yourself, to calling 111 in tears explaining that you really don’t want to bother anyone.

You’ll sit by their side with a thermometer testing their temperature every twenty minutes absolutely terrified that it’s something more sinister than a cold and wondering if you have any of this ‘mother’s instinct’ everyone bangs on about but you’re sure you don’t possess.

You get a Doctor’s appointment, which is a miracle in itself, because you have a tiny sick person as collateral. The doctor is lovely and you sob again because you’re exhausted from worrying. You feel like being a mother never gets easier – and here you are again dealing with a situation you have no qualifications to deal with.

It’s just a viral infection and it’ll pass in a couple of days.

A couple of days pass and you start to wonder if the little one is starting to milk this as it looks like a pretty nice life lying on the sofa all day, sipping strawberry milk, watching Peppa Pig on repeat.

And then you cough. The bastard has got you.

You feel wretched. You have complete sympathy with the toddler. You just want to crawl into bed and slowly die – but you can’t, because you’re the bloody mum. Who is there to make your chocolate milk and let you watch The Good Wife on repeat? No one.

Wait! I know who will look after me. My parents! They always looked after me when I was sick. So I call them – and prepare myself for the waves of sympathy that are about to wash over me. But – they have none.

They just ask if the children are ok and order me to bleach my surfaces. Not a euphemism.

So I look to my husband for sympathy and I may get a cup of tea and, if the stars align, a nap. Maybe we’ll get through this after all.

And then the husband comes down with the same thing. And once daddy pig gets it – you’re all doomed.

Don’t forget – the particular strain the man of the house gets is much more potent and deadly than yours or the children. You might have all been a little bit sick – but he has version 3.0 which is your minor illness times 987%.

The poor little lamb.

If you can survive this sick time together without clobbering your other half to death with a bottle of junior calpol then you can survive pretty much anything.

Weirdly the baby – the second born – will remain entirely unaffected during the entire sick period. He will bomb about with a grin on his face proving further that he’s not entirely human and has been sent to destroy you all.

Cough, sneeze, splutter.

 

 

 

Why I won’t be piercing my sons’ ears

Firstly, I don’t have a licence to pierce shit. I am presuming you need a licence for that sort of ting – not just one of your mum’s old earrings, a flame and a cork.

Katie Price is ‘under’ metaphorical ‘fire’ for posting a pic of her child with pierced ears (18 months, the child and the ears). Apparently it is like ‘child abuse’ – I am paraphrasing from Newsnight… Sorry, I mean, Loose Women.

Katie can do what she wishes – it’s her life, her daughter, her perogative.

But I won’t be piercing my sons’ ears. And if they were girls I would make the same statement. Why?

1/ It’s personal taste – and in my personal taste – it just looks cheap. There you go! Like big gold hoop earrings, or socks over tracksuit bottoms or speedos – I just don’t like it. But why is my personal taste relevant – especially as many would say I have no taste. Because…

2/ A baby / toddler has no taste. They have no choice in this world. They didn’t choose their parents and they didn’t choose their breakfast – we do. We do what we think is best for them – till they can say Feck you arse holes – I never wanted to be sugar free.  Their current taste is bogies, carpet and cat hair. They are not looking through the Claire’s Accessories catalogue wishing they could pull off a bronze stud.

3/ I want them to choose how they look. I could get deep here – I want them to be themselves, to be who they want to be, to have their own look, to be freeeee to beeeee them. If they want to wear… I don’t know, high heels, they can. But I certainly am not going to wedge high heels on their feet without them expressing their wish to. That sort of thing causes issues, I’m guessing.

If someone made me wear a tracksuit I’d be frickin livid.

I got my ears pierced at sixteen. I’m not sure why – everyone else was doing it – like sex and cigarettes. So I guessed I should do it too.

It was only a fiver to get pierced, whereas smoking made my stomach turn and sex – well, there was absolutely no chance of that. I certainly would have had to spend more than a fiver,

Maybe I thought my pierced ears would draw the men in like magnets… no.

Since then I’ve worn earrings about as often as I’ve had sex.

But I am digressing.

I won’t be piercing my sons’ ears. Unless they keep me up again past two AM. In which case I’m marching them down Claire’s accessories – no anaesthetic. Bastards.

 

 

Ten signs you’ve lost your mummy marbles

Mummy's Writing Darling

Ten signs you’ve lost your mummy marbles

 

1/ You call the cuddly toys in your house by their correct pronoun and correct yourself if you make a mistake LIKE IT MATTERS TO ANYONE. “Darling…he wants Peppa Pig,  can you bring him, I mean ‘her’ up with some milk?” She’s (I mean it’s) not real woman, have a word with yourself.

2/ You sing a song while you’re emptying the dishwasher – which is fine. But you realise after a couple of minutes you’re not singing the latest Adele tune. You’re singing “Incy wincy spider” and there are no children in the house.

3/ You call your other half ‘Daddy Pig’, in front of his colleagues.

4/ You’ve forgotten your PIN number but thanks to Mr Tumble you can do the sign for cash machine and an interpretive dance for “how am I meant to buy chicken dippers now?”

5/ You’re out on your own with adults, drinking wine – yet you’re bobbing your leg up and down as though you’re soothing a baby and you’ve got “show me, show me” mixed with “I love Woolly and woolly loves me” going round and round inside your head.

6/ You call up your energy supplier to complain and when they apologise you say “it’s ok. it’s not a big thing. It’s a Bing thing.”

7/ You give your friend a hug and can’t help but tap her back several times in case she’s holding a burp in.

8/ You’ve been reading your child a story involving a sheep. You are hamming it up with all the enthusiasm of Jim Carey and are delivering lines like Brian Blessed. You are doing your best ‘she.e.e.ee.ee.eeep’ voice. Your child fell asleep five minutes ago.

9/ Your children’s names are interchangeable and are also apparently the names of your husband, mother, the big issue lady and the check out lad in the co-op.

10/ The bin men / women come. You stand at your front door waving to them all and shouting “Truuuck!!” Both your children are with their grandparents.

.

 

 

When one child becomes two

second child

1/ The noise level in your house will double. At night you’ll find yourself lying awake appreciating the small pockets of silence you get because your ears will ache. Remember when the baby would stop screaming and you could have a few minutes peace? Well now you have an older professional ‘waker upper’ in the house who might as well be walking up and down with enormous comedy cymbols belting out a Mariah Carey power ballad.

2/ The shit level in your house will double. Shit, shit everywhere. You’re running some sort of shit relay race. Your house will smell like shit. You’ll need more wipes. Secure sponsorship deal with wipes brand before baby number two to save you thousands of pounds. Make an under the table deal right now with bin men / women so that they will take an extra four bin bags each fortnight – warn them they will smell of shit.

3/ Your exhaustion will double. You’ll be utterly exhausted. You’ll be so tired you could cry. You find yourself just getting on with it because there’s no other choice. People will regularly say “are you ok? You look shattered.”

4/ You’ll have less time to eat. So you will eat less. But you’ll drink more – so the calories even out.

5/ Your mother guilt will double. Now you’re not just the inadequate mother of one – but of two. And today you didn’t give child A enough attention because of child B. And vice Versa. And repeat.

6/ You’ll work better as a team with your partner. If I was into sport in any way I could probably insert a great sports analogy here about two people playing against one versus two people playing with two – but I can’t and I’m too exhausted. But let’s just say it seems to work much better when you have one each to take care of. And there seems to be less fights about me having to always pass the ball (I tried!)

7/ Child B may not be anything like child A. They may be a completely new personality – and temperament so don’t think “Oh wouldn’t it be great to have another A”. Cause B is a whole new ball game (sports reference! Get me!) and you’ll have multiple discussions (fights) with your other half about who child B takes after. His current money is on the postman.

8/ It’ll be easier (the baby thing) than the first time but in many ways harder. You’ll know which way round to hold them but you’ll also not have the luxury of it just being you two. You’ll have to do all the very difficult baby stuff whilst looking after a very difficult precious first born (in my case, a toddler).

9/ You’ll forget how old they are. When people ask you’ll say “hmm…. Like… Maybe 4 months?” They will look at you in disgust. You’re not really counting anymore, you haven’t got time – all you know is, they’re not crawling yet thank Christ.

10/ You’ll want another child… and then not. You’ll swing violently between wanting another child (when they are being sweet together or have slept a couple of hours) and never ever ever wanting to even meet eyes with your partner just in case.
11/ Your confidence will take a knock. Going out alone with them will once again seem impossible. Remember how you finally mastered going out / eating out with a child, got all confident about it? Well, you’re back to square one! How am I meant to do this with two?

12/ Your heart will break. It’ll feel like they (the new addition) were never not here and never not a part of your family. There will be moments when they look at each other or interact that will be so utterly beautiful it’ll make your heart break into two and then rush back together again.

Been there! We’re all in it together

mummy's writing, darling

Been there !” the lady shouted out of her car window, a huge smile on her face, the silhouette of two older children sat in the backseat. She had stopped in the middle of the road to let me cross.

I was on my usual power walk to my son’s nursery. My nearly three year old goes twice a week for his benefit and for my sanity. I walk the significant distance with my first son in a buggy and my five month old son on my chest in a sling. It was raining and bloody freezing. Everywhere there were huge rivers of water I was carefully navigating myself around, just waiting for a car to screech by and drown us.

A man in a van had just swerved into the side road we were about to cross seconds earlier without pausing or indicating and I was too busy giving him the ‘death stare’ and tutting to notice her. But then I did. She didn’t need to stop – she just did, because, it would seem – she remembered how it felt. By ‘it’ I mean, being a parent and the difficulty of getting about with two young children, in the pissing down rain.

But ‘been there’ has deeper connotations than just that moment. In that moment we connected; The kind stranger and I. I shouted thank you and smiled, and in that smile we connected over the sleepless nights, the exhaustion, the worry, the feelings of inadequacy, the guilt, the judgement, the small daily struggles that seem never ending.

I have had a few moments like this in my three years of being a parent:

The moment when I had my first born in a pram in a supermarket queue. He was screeching and I was panicking as the whole store stared at me. I was frantically rocking the pram back and forth. The lady in front of me begged me to go in front of her. She told me she knew what it was like and that was perhaps the first time when I felt like “oh! other people have been this crap before?” I thought it was just me.

Then there was the man who offered to, and then held my child and entertained him while I desperately tried to get my new high tech buggy folded down on a bus for the first time. He was so sweet with my son and if he hadn’t offered I probably would have just gone back home red faced with my new mum confidence at an all time low.

I have no idea if this man had ‘been there’ or was just a lovely human being. There can be, of course, some parents you meet who don’t appear to have ever ‘been there’ and scowl at you or tut and make your day a whole lot worse.

Sometimes it seems being a parent is a competition and there sure are a lot of really negative comments thrown at us everyday. You’re damned if you do and you’re a crap mother / father if you don’t. It can all get a bit depressing and you can feel like you’re failing at every stage. But it’s those ‘been there’ times that I hold on to and sometimes make my day.

In the months and years to come it might be me helping out a new parent in the supermarket queue or on the bus or in the street. I hope I can make someone’s day a little brighter. Although at times it can feel like we are on our own – don’t ever forget that we are all in it together.