Romance After Children

Oh I don’t begrudge you, couples. When I see you all loved up, holding hands, making moon eyes at each other, holding me up in the Krispy Kreme queue. You can have your romance. You can have your pre children moments – just as I did. But just heed me this – if you choose to have children:

  • there will come a time when the only reason you will passionately kiss each other is because either of you has had a near death experience – or you’re so off your tits you have mistaken each other for someone else.
  • There will come a time when him being home at the weekend means one more person to hoover around.
  • there will come a time when the sexiest thing your other half can do for you is change a dirty nappy, scrape the mould off a baking dish you left in the oven so you don’t have to throw another one away, find your toddler’s ‘other’ shoe that has been missing since last year, fill the dishwasher correctly, or offer you a hot cup of tea.
  • there will come a time when the only time you look at him with pure adoration and a tear in your eye is when he is putting out the bins or giving the toddler a bath.
  • your bed will be used for sleep and the only ‘position’ that makes you excited is him facing the other way, as far away from you as possible and not hogging the duvet.
  • the kinkiest thing about your sex life will be the extremes you go to to not get pregnant again.
  • your fights will solely be about how much or how little each other do in regard to housework, the children, work and finances.
  • time together in a fancy hotel will consist of you having a two hour hot bath with a cocktail and him sleeping.
  • If he is ever late home from work your first thought is not “who is he sleeping with?” it’s “ooh! maybe I can watch ‘Dinner Date’ in peace!

Romance to me used to mean:

public displays of affection

all the right words

doing everything together

being as one.

Romance to me after children means:

‘don’t touch me!’,

your words are useless – your sonnets aint gonna get that dishwasher emptied,

separate rooms and

being left alone to enjoy the silence.

I don’t have time for jealousy anymore. The other night I watched a man on ‘The Only Way is Essex’ practically dancing in fury because his girlfriend had ‘followed someone back on Twitter’. Do you know who my other half follows on twitter? No, neither do I. As far as my problems go it’s probably at number 890987877 at the moment after “what if he only wins second prize at crufts.”

We had some fun after baby number one – don’t get me wrong. We eventually settled into parenthood, compromised within our roles, learned not to be so passive aggressive and I almost got my body back. We had a few outings without our son and rekindled the romance. I thought we were on the right track. Then somewhere along the line we decided to have another child.

Before I knew it I was massively pregnant and a parent to a toddler practising his role as Speedy Gonzales on crack. Now I am a drained and exhausted new mum surviving on micro sleep and malted milks.

If couples can survive one child they’re really heroic … two children and the odds are against you! Everything that brought you together goes out of the window and now all that’s left is sleep deprivation, frustration and fury in a confined space filled with noisy Fisher Price toys and the stench of shit.

To think I used to worry about what my other half would look like! His height. His shoes. To think his favourite film was a deal breaker! Now the only thing that is important to me is that I respect him (in my case because he is infinitely more intelligent than I am). R.E.S.P.E.C.T ladies – is the only reason you will have one day not to call him a cock womble and shuffle off. Think about whose hand you’d want to be holding during a spinal block. That’s your man!

I enjoyed watching the couples trying to find “love” on Love Island. The only thing I was jealous about was that they got to go on a relaxing, sunny holiday – we think we will be in our fifties before a holiday can earn the title of ‘relaxing’ again. I don’t begrudge them. All I wanted to shout at the screen was:

“If you can’t make it work after three weeks, on holiday, in the sun, in paradise, with no bills to pay, no responsibilities, no ‘reality’ of any kind – really don’t bother!”

A real compatibility test would be to send in a new born in with Colic, and a toddler with constipation and a fruit shoot and get them to watch Baby Jake on repeat and tell them they can’t drink till 7pm.

Because – it only gets harder. If you choose to have children – you have no idea how hard it will get.

If you can survive one, two or more children together you really have my respect – it’s no walk in the park.

I am astounded that my other half is still here – putting up with everything I throw at him – and I am amazed I’m still here too! Which is why I’m marrying him at the end of this year. And the proposal wasn’t important and the ring isn’t important. What’s important? Who can look after the kids at the reception so mummy can have a drink?

If we can make it through two pregnancies and two babies – I know we can make it through anything!

Love after kids

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.