The moments we do treasure

mummy's writing darling

The moments we do treasure : Eating toast, pot bellies and watching the rain.

There are a number of things not to say to a parent who has had a really long, exhausting, bad day with their child / children:

You don’t know how lucky you are, things were worse in my day! I lived through the war. You don’t know you’re born love! You were a little shit too darling, you didn’t sleep for the first five years. Don’t you know there are people in worse situations than you? and the best one “you should treasure every moment.” 

When it’s only 3.45am and I’ve already had human faeces between my fingers twice, I was woken up by the three year old dropping his hands onto my face (a double slap), there’s yogurt in my bra, the three year old has had three tantrums already because he “needs a hair cut”, the baby has figured out how to open the stair gates and I know I have another fifteen hours playing what’s that smell? what’s that stain? and what’s the point? – I can’t stop and treasure anything – apart from coffee.

However – we do treasure certain moments. Don’t get me wrong. There are small pockets of appreciation throughout each day. Ok, some days there are none – I just lied there. But generally there will be say three or four tiny inconsequential bits of ‘treasure’. They’re so small and not what you might think they’d be – I don’t even know if they’ll translate.

You’re unlikely to report this appreciation on social media – because you’re too busy treasuring the moment.

One example is when I saw my son (then a toddler) eating toast. I was scurrying around cleaning and tidying and rushing – as you do. I turned to look at him to check he was still alive, as you do. He was stood in front of the television eating a slice of toast – it was a large triangle. The toast was larger than his head. He had that posture young children have where their bottoms are stuck out and their stomachs, their little portly stomachs jut out too. (Much like my own posture).

I was overwhelmed with the beauty of him in that moment. I sat down and shed a tear.

These moments are usually followed by a huge hug and kiss and a soppy “you know I love you so much don’t you darling, mummy loves you so so much. You’re my favourite….sshhhh.” 

Then there was a moment the other day when I was rushing about cleaning and tidying (I seem to spend a lot of time doing this) and I happened upon my eldest son having a conversation about the weather outside. Well, it was a one way conversation as the youngest is nine months. “Look,” he was saying “it’s waining, outside, it’s dark and it’s cold outside, isn’t it?” he said in his Elmo voice, his little brother staring at the rain and then up at his hero listening intently.

I cried again.

I treasured that moment, I truly did.

Sometimes the moments you treasure are when they’re not there. Sometimes I spend the time (I should be doing laundry and washing up) stacking their bricks, arranging their toys, setting up their farm and dinosaurs feeling an ache in my heart so tangible it makes me do a little squeak and I miss them to death.

Sometimes it’s when they use a phrase that they’ve obviously got from you – such as “ok, ok, that’s quite enough… calm down”.

Sometimes it’s when they call you ‘mummy’ in public and you burst with pride.

Last week an elderly couple came over to my table in a restaurant to compliment me on how good my three year old was behaving. I will treasure that moment for a while. Little did they know he was behaving so well because I’d just purchased him a train that cost £8.50.

I also treasure how lucky I am nearly every day when I see a story on the news or on This Morning about parents who have lost children or people who are unable to be parents. It’s then that I hug my children a little tighter.

So we do treasure moments. We also have bad times we would rather forget. Even lottery winners complain… it doesn’t mean they want to give their money away.

 

Don’t holiday with children

 

A holiday with my mother and my two children always begins the same:

An arrangement to be picked up at a specific early time by mother, say 8am and a short text the night before to double check time and an assurance that the weekend will be an opportunity for me to relax.

The morning comes with several frenzied texts at 6am checking if I am ready and will I be ready early, a warning not to pack too much and a semi veiled threat that money has been paid to get in early so I better be ready on time. You can practically feel the sense of relaxation wash over me as I battle with a baby and a zealous toddler into outfits and scramble 75% of everything I own towards the door trying to text back with my free hand.

Then mother will arrive and announce there is no room in the car for anything else and that we can’t take the baby’s walker or seat or jumparoo and we will be ‘perfectly fine without them’ as the holiday house will be ‘perfectly safe for a baby’. Then she will reiterate several times how she can’t understand how we need so much to go away for three days. Little does she know the only things I have packed for myself are under eye concealer, codine, baby wipes, a swimming costume and a bottle opener.

Then we are in the metal prison – the car – where I know I will be trapped for the next two to three hours with a baby, a toddler, mother and a sat-nav so ancient and badly made that the journey usually gives me an overwhelming urge to open my door on the motorway and roll out.

We must rush rush rush to get there because we must get our money’s worth – we MUST enjoy ourselves and we MUST get there asap so the ‘relaxation’ can commence. We MUST have fun and we MUST relax – but not a second earlier than the moment we pass the holiday site sign.

So we career down the motorway, mother making rude hand gestures at fellow drivers, the baby screaming, the toddler whining about weetos, the sat nav shouting at us, having some sort of break down because she thinks there’s a roundabout where there is no roundabout. Her angry robotic voice ordering “Recalculating, recalculating, recalculating, recalculating” like a premenstrual dalek.

Then mother will declare that she has put the paperwork for the holiday ‘somewhere’ and continually comment on the weather – glancing at the blue sky, swerving around Eddie Stobarts saying “we better get there in time to ‘enjoy’ this weather!”

The baby is miserable, the toddler is now screaming that he can’t find his Triceratops and mother is cursing that she paid a fortune to get in early as the dark clouds come over the horizon, the sat nav wants us to recalculate and my blood pressure sky rockets into orbit.

I want to google “restaurants on site opening times and wine lists” but there’s no reception in the middle of nowhere. Mother thinks we might have put the wrong postcode in but she doesn’t recall which bag the paperwork is in. It starts spitting. I realise I haven’t brought a coat or any underwear.

If we were at home we could be sat in our pyjamas watching Mr Tumble. Why do we do this to ourselves? There is no such thing as a free lunch and there is certainly no such thing as a holiday with small children. Don’t bother.

 

 

The Tiny Shoe

 

It’s hard to put my finger

on the moment that we knew

but I think it all came down to

a tiny little shoe

 

Oh the things that we’ll do

the people that we’ll see

once it resumes to just being

little old you and little old me

 

we can have actual adults around

have grown up dinner parties

without having to stop between courses

to wipe those little arses

 

we can have a clean home

i’ll bring in a ‘no shoes’ law

no porridge, dribble and lego

strewn across our floor

 

we can go to foreign places

to couples only resorts

we can lounge around on cruises

not a single child friendly caravan thought

 

we can Kondo the shit out of life

be completely organised

we can be ruddy spontaneous

take long relaxing drives

 

we can eat our dinner in a fancy restaurant

like Sinead once said

without frantically downloading kids’ apps and ssshhhhing

with all the other patrons wishing we were dead

 

we can have more adult time

swing from the chandeliers

without the theme tune from Balamory

pissing over the romantic atmosphere

 

we can relax and unwind

sleep in till eleven

when the kids have grown up

well, it’ll just be pure heaven.

 

But as we were moving

you found one of their tiny shoes

and we sat, all misty eyed

pondering on what to do

 

see, If we’re honest I don’t think we ever really had much fun

till you arrived

and then your little brother arrived

my son.

 

we thought that our ‘baby’ days were well and truly done

but now we can’t shake off the thought

maybe

just

maybe

just

another one?

 

and that’s how we started thinking we might want more than two

God Damn you, you tiny little shoe.

 

 

 

Our Mum Bodies

mummy's writing darling
My ‘pre-baby’ figure … any day now I’ll get back that waist!

I am always on a diet and I am always on a swinging scale between a size 12 and a size 16. I was a size 10 for about half an hour once. I was so excited about it I went to a coffee shop and had some cake and the carbs activated my fluid retention buzzer and boom, the size 10 jeans no longer fit.

Food is much more to me than ‘something I should have when I’m hungry’ and it has been for as long as I remember. Looking back over my Facebook profile pictures alone I can see about 45 different jaw lines over four years. And I can look at a photo and double chin and know exactly how stressed, anxious or happy I was at the time. If I have a chiseled jaw it’s because I was genuinely happy, if I have three chins it’s because I was in a bad relationship, or in a stressful teaching job.

But in every case I was never happy or unhappy ‘because’ I was a certain size. The size had been a side effect of where my life was heading at the time. And now my life is one of a ‘Mum’.

In love, happy, pregnant.

I can’t remember what I used to focus on, body wise, before I had a baby, but I know I hated my body. It was probably my thighs or my arse. But a bit like whacking your thumb with a hammer to take your mind off a tooth ache – I now have one focus of hate and one alone: My mummy tummy.

After two cesareans I have what I affectionately call an ‘Overhang’. It really is horrid. If you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about imagine a large saggy bean bag that someone has sewn a small very tight seam into, then hold it up, with the seam at the bottom. Imagine the bean bag sagging over the tight seam drawing attention to this very out of place taut line. That’s my stomach.

It’s the first thing I angle the mirror at and stare at every morning and the last thing I look at before I go to bed. When I’m lying in bed it’s what I run my hands over, and not in an erotic fashion. When I’m in the shower I feel the area and feel disgust and shame.

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Full time teaching, away from my son, stressed and miserable – wearing a size 18 skirt.

Since my second baby I have been on the no carbs regime – not eating any carbohydrates for six weeks straight – but a shit load of Gin. I have done the gluten free, sugar free, wheat free, caffeine free, vegetarian lifestyle for an entire month. All of this interspersed with extreme gorging on nachos, wine and fillet steak and feeling pretty chuffed with myself.

After a madras, two nan breads and a bottle of red I can feel guilty and horrified with myself for a week and punish myself with green tea, flax seeds and medjool dates, clutching my nutribullet and an avocado telling myself I must get back on the road to ‘losing the baby weight‘ or ‘getting back my pre baby figure’ to finally being ‘happy‘. Because once I get to a certain size – I’ll be happy right?

The other day I found a skirt I used to wear that was a size 18 (I do not recall buying size 18s but I must have – and I didn’t feel unhappy because of this). After the birth of my first son I was tiny and I didn’t feel happy because of this. I remember worrying in my summer dress that the world could see my willowy punctured stomach.

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studying, worrying, pregnant again with antenatal depression.

I spoke to a fellow mum a while ago who is a size 10. Size 10 – the dream! To me she resembles Cameron Diaz. She told me she was utterly miserable with her body. Her body! A body I would sell my children for (joke).

It broke my heart to hear she hates her body – I wanted to shake her (affectionately) and tell her how completely amazing she is and how much people admire the way she looks.

Funny how I can’t say the same to myself.

It struck me – just who am I dieting for? and at what point am I meant to be happy?

All around me there seems to be talk of mummy tummies, losing baby weight, getting ‘back’ this elusive pre baby figure that we once had. Why is this? Who are we doing this for?

What is so bad about not going back?

What is so terrible about being different now?

Our new mum bodies – why are we so friggin ashamed of them?

How many wasted hours do we spend hating things other people can’t even see?

When people meet me I very much doubt they come away and say “Oh Steph… I met her, yeah, she’s the one with the C section overhang!”

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Six weeks without carbs. Smiling on the outside. Dying for a slice of Tiger loaf on the inside.

A month ago someone congratulated me on how good I looked. Now – you know the rules, you can’t just accept a compliment. So I started with “what? well – I’ve a long way to go! (to where!!??) and “I don’t feel like I look good!” (when will I?! when have I ever?!) and this lovely woman said “no, no, you look great, it’s hard after a baby!” and do you know – it dawned on me that it IS bloody hard after a baby, or two babies – it is HARD. And we SHOULD give ourselves credit. Not constantly put ourselves down.

So I’ve had it – I’m done with feeling guilty, feeling crap, sticking to ridiculous routines and desperately trying to move towards this number that’s automatically going to fix all my problems and give me the confidence of Beyonce.

I’m going to run – for the endorphins.

I’m going to eat healthy food because it makes me feel healthy.

I’m going to eat the cake because I want to and drink the wine because it’s there.

I’m going to get out in the fresh air and I’m going to enjoy my healthy, complete mummy body while I can and live my life with my wonderful children and I’m not going to give the skin I’m in so much control – control it frankly, just doesn’t deserve.

 

 

Sidenote:

My husband asked what I was writing and I showed him the title. He said “you don’t have a ‘mum’ body” (what is a ‘mum’ body….) and then, and I quote: “you should be grateful you’re not dead.”

If you ever need weight issues dispersed – my husband is the guy for you!

Oh the fun we’ll have this Easter : Hoppy Easter with Matalan

I might have considered Easter fun for our family as solely involving chocolate eggs and desperately trying to fashion garish bonnets and then forcing my son’s to wear them … but that was before Matalan kindly sent our family a huge bumper box of fun; Easter style – no chocolate in sight (but I won’t hold that against them).

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I have grouped the Matalan Easter Package into three categories that I’m excited to share with my three year old son over Easter.

Category 1: In the kitchen

The first two products that caught my eye were the Hoppy Easter cake accessories kit which includes cute cup cake bases and miniature flags to place on the top with carrots, bunnies and chicks on them.

As well as this there is a set of Hoppy Easter Cookie cutters with bunny, chick and egg shapes. I have done barely any baking with my son since his birth (Alas – I’m not one of those pinterest mums with immaculate shots of flour covered children grinning behind a gluten free Victoria sponge) but this has inspired me to give it a go this Easter. How hard can it be to make biscuits? And cup cakes? I’m sure there must be ready made packets – and I am sure my three year old would love12422340_662714813866722_21320537_o it – and we would all love eating them, that’s for sure!

Category 2: Arts and crafts, Easter style.

The Matalan Easter fun package also includes a set of decorate your own’ easter eggs with paints and stickers and a handy leaflet of how you can decorate the eggs – A wonderful idea for messy play.

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As well as this was a set of kids colouring pencils and a colour therapy colouring book. I have become hooked on colouring in to relieve stress over the last few weeks thanks to this book. So it’s not just the three year old having all the fun.

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Category 3: In the garden (spring has sprung)

Perhaps the most eggciting (I apologise) part of this Matalan Easter fun package has been the possibilities for fun in the garden now that spring is on its way and the weather is picking up.

Firstly it contained a gorgeous picnic blanket and cooler bag. We are in the process of moving house and will have a garden for the first time in years. The package also included a frisbee and a bubble set conjuring images of my boys having lots of fun in our new garden. The baby (eight months) will love the bubbles – I can’t wait.

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Even more exciting (and my favourite part of the set) was the garden magnifier and a bug keeper. Thanks to ‘what the ladybird heard’ and ‘superworm’ by Julia Donaldson, my three year old is quite taken with insects and tiny creatures. I can’t wait to explore our new garden with him and study the nature in it.

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Finally the Matalan Easter package has a large Easter Egg Hunt kit that includes bunnies with flags, four eggs, assorted flags and wooden sticks for setting up a super eggstravaganza of Easter egg hunt fun (apologies).

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Our house has been in turmoil over the last couple of weeks with illness and our impending house move – this package has given me lots of ideas to spend quality time with both my boys over the weekend, do things we have not done, and really enjoy Easter as a family – something which I am pretty sure I would not have thought about doing before.

That’s my Easter weekend sorted – Now I just need to go and buy some chocolate eggs and some cake mix for dummies! Thanks Matalan

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