When I see a parent scowl

Mummy's Writing Darling

When I see a parent

scowl in my direction

I ask myself a simple set

of essential questions:

do they have Weetabix up their nose

or porridge in their ear?

do they have their bra on inside out

or some Lego shrapnel up their rear?

have they failed at ‘Dry January’

or are desperate for a cig?

are they fed up to the back teeth

of being called mummy pig?

Is their baby teething?

howling through the night?

do they have an uneasy feeling

that bath time will be a fight?

are they so exhausted

they could weep an ocean?

is their only specialist subject

The morals in fucking ‘Frozen’?

Did they have cold fish fingers

and Gin for their dinner?

and despite skipping breakfast

they’re not getting any thinner.

has their toddler started hitting

just to get their attention?

is the weather mostly spitting

and they’ve not had sex since the conception?

and I decide yes – that’s the reason

they’re scowling at me,

and I scowl right back

in solidarity.

 

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.

 

Beholden

beholden

All days he’s had a yogurt-propelling snotty nose

and scrambled egg squelched between tiny sweaty toes.

All of the screeches and screams

tacky teething gels and nappy rash creams

with all the go-to-fucking-sleep nights

the fatigued and frazzled baby-Father fights

and the live long days of exhaustion

your long lost independent lives

tantrums, and he-won’t-eat-his-bastard-food slights

and you never wanted children anyway.

But then there’s a moment

isolated, suspended in your slack off Sunday

where you see:

with just one goofy, gapped grin

the reflection in your next of kin

it’s what you were both foraging for

all the thirty plus years before

and the cut-throat love throttles you

like gobbling down a podgy gold watch

and you see:

for the first time this week

his chimp-like rump

his bitty belly portly and plump

his full force, warm and fed

seeking his soft, safe, mummy-made bed

the prosperity you’ve both had

plummets through the navy nursery floor

and you swear

you won’t take parenthood for granted anymore.

 

Our love

our life

My Boy,

you were seen tonight.

 

Commended in the 2014 Mother’s Milk Books Writing Prize

Ten reasons why baby’s first Christmas is a bit crap

Mummy's Writing Darling

A baby is a Christmas miracle in itself – and it’s an absolute joy to have a new addition to the family. But get your hopes up for an amazing “baby’s first Christmas” and you may be a tad disappointed. Why? Well…

1/ Everyone knows it’s perfectly acceptable to pop open the Cava before midday on Christmas day. But on baby’s first Christmas – suddenly it’s frowned upon to guzzle prosecco with your smoked salmon blinis at 10am because you’re now the designated “responsible adult ‘parent of a tiny person’ person”. Gah. They don’t even give you any points for your sober nine months previous.

2/ Your new baby is still at the stage where they look like a misshapen butternut squash weebling in their door bouncer – and let’s face it – though you’d like to imagine otherwise, they don’t have a fucking clue what’s going on and won’t do for probably another year.

3/ The only thing your baby is good for at this point is dressing up as novelty Christmas items. The retailers know this and will sell you an over priced Olaf outfit that you’ll only put on them for ten seconds while you take a dozen photos to upload to Facebook before Grandma pulls them out of it because they’re terrified it’ll ignite with the LED lights.

4/ They’re not much fun on the day. They’ll sit there like an undercooked stuffing ball in their Christmas tree outfit looking at you with the same disdain a dachshund would if you dressed them up as little bo peep on Halloween.

5/ You’ll waste money on shite tat for them they don’t need and don’t understand. They can’t even open the things. Next Christmas you’ll have to buy less because you’ve got no room to put the new crap because of all the overpriced “baby’s first Christmas” shite that you were duped into purchasing last year because you were so excited it was “baby’s first sodding Christmas”.

6/ Everything you used to decorate your home with or that you used to love is now considered a baby death trap device. Say goodbye to Christmas candles, tree lights, fancy glass baubles and say hello to the chore of vacuuming up bloody pine needles every two hours in case your baby inhales them up while he’s rolling about the floor getting caught up in tinsel and trying to eat the glitter off the wrapping paper. Who put the chocolate brazil nuts on the coffee table? Abort, abort.

7/ What’s that smell? Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Freshly cooked Turkey? No, that there is the stench of baby’s first Christmas turd. And guess who’s changing it? You. Muggins. “No bread sauce for me actually Dad, on second thoughts”.

8/ Say goodbye to any presents for you from now on from parents and relatives. From now on you’ll hear the immortal words “Now Darling, we won’t be getting anything for you this Christmas – we’ll just be treating the baby / babies / kids – ok? I mean, you don’t really need anything now do you?” Er… yes. We need wine. More wine than ever. I also need oven gloves, a year’s supply of Cillit Bang and, it appears, a nose hair trimmer. What. The. Hell?

9/ The day will be long. Like every other day. And you can’t even enjoy the late night Christmas telly. You’ll be in bed by 7pm, annoyingly sober and then up at 11.45pm, 1.27am, 2.16am and so on. Merry Christmas.

10/ You’ve now got to gear yourself up for “baby’s first New Years” which may well involve tears, calpol, colic and not counting in the new year pissed again for eighteen years.

In a couple of years of course they’ll start to understand Santa – and then it’ll be pure magic. But until then – don’t believe the hype. And you can stick your elf on the shelf up onto the shelf in your arse.

Ho. Ho. Ho. Merry Christmas.