Things I’ve learned this Easter 🐣
The holiday is over, we’re slowly approaching the warmer climes and ice creams have again become the daily expectancy of my three year old. But what has the Easter holidays taught us?
Well it’s taught me a few things, that’s for sure.
1. It’s taught me that you don’t mess with a toddler’s scooter, no way no how! Stone on the path? Better get it the fuck out the way mate. Wheel’s dirty? Mummy, clean scooter, now please! Helmet hurts, don’t want to ride that way! Hey where’s my scooter? Out the way kids, diva coming through!! And so on! Was either the best of worse buy of the year, I’m still undecided!
2. It’s taught me never to order a meal out for my three year old. She will only refuse to eat it and proceed to scream whilst we are trying to eat ours about how ‘yucky’ the chips are (they are her favourite food, FFS) May as well take some crisps and be done with it.
3. It’s taught me that I need to be careful about what I say.
‘Stop moaning mummy’ actually came out of her mouth yesterday, seems she’s got my number marked!
4. It’s taught me, free fun is the best fun. Who needs Lego land and Longleat when you have a wilderness on your doorstep? Live need a wood? Make believe play is for you! We slayed monsters, made fairy gardens, fished for newts and skimmed stones on the stream. And it was FREE!
5. A bit more on the free fun saga. It’s taught me no matter how much money you spend if your child is cranky a trip to the fayre won’t remedy that. You can have the best day planned, but toddlers make their own rules. If they don’t want to do something no amount of money will change that. Don’t take it personally, sometimes kids have bad days too.
6. It’s taught me that children as young as three, absolutely do have their own minds. I bought Ciara these amazing Dorothy style, red glitter Converse for her birthday. She categorically refuses to wear them, I’ve even tried hiding her other shoes to try and force them on her. Hasn’t worked. Moral of the story, don’t spend £35 on your three year old’s trainers. (Unless you’re prepared to just stare at them.)
7. And finally, it’s taught me that time goes too quickly. The long drawn out half term I was dreading just two weeks ago is now over. The birthday party we planned for Ciara almost 6 months ago has now been and gone. She’s another year older, as am I. Time is precious, it really does fly by when you’re having fun. Make the most of it, take it in, even the drama and the tantrums, because one day in the not so distant future they will end too and it’ll all be just a collection of memories.
Easter has never been big on our celebratory calendar. Before Ciara arrived I can’t even remember the last time I got an Easter Egg. We aren’t religious and therefore it’s never had any sentimental or meaningful value, but now it marks a new tradition for our family. One that involves picnics and Easter egg hunts in Nanny’s garden.
Below I list some of the places we visited this Easter local to Bristol, that were fun and free:
Willsbridge Mill. https://www.avonwildlifetrust.org.uk/reserves/willsbridge-valley
St George Park https://www.bristol.gov.uk/museums-parks-sports-culture/st-george-park
Weston Super Mare Beach https://www.visitsomerset.co.uk/explore-somerset/weston-super-mare-p500433
Chew Valley Lakes https://www.avonwildlifetrust.org.uk/reserves/chew-valley-lake
Mum guilt and chocolate teapots
Mum guilt, if you’re a mum, you’ve had mum guilt at some point. You may even have it regularly – let’s be real about this, it’s a thing that has blown up in recent years because we (I, in any case) spend far too much time comparing ourselves to other mum’s on social media, at the school gates, during a PTA, at soft play or on someone’s follow Friday post.
A friend of mine called me earlier this week to say she’d been called into school about her child’s behaviour. They were acting out and she felt tremendously guilty. She felt like she’d failed as a mother. Let me be clear here, she is a bloody fantastic mother, but seriously, she tore herself a new one over this. I went away and thought about the times I’ve been criticised or not even criticised as such, but spoken to about Ciara’s tantrums and or her lack of sharing and I’ve felt like the worst person on the planet. I’ve gone on social media to make myself feel better and been faced with everyone gushing about their perfect kids or at least that’s what I’ve taken from it and ended up feeling worse. I’ve been penalised for being ‘real’ for admitting when my child acts like a knob. People have said ‘no wonder if you call your child a knob, they’ll act like one.’ FYI I don’t sit there calling my three year old a knob to her face, but sometimes people, she acts like a spawn of Satan, so she gets the finger when she’s not looking, and sometimes….. she’s cute and shit. If you complain about your child’s behaviour or chastise them, you are branded an awful mother, and if you don’t, you are still an awful mother as you must not even notice or worse, don’t care!
It’s funny because when I thought about this in more depth I thought about our mothers and grandmothers. There weren’t parenting books and baby led weaning, or the Ferber Method. There also weren’t tens of thousands of mums on social media talking about being one. (I’m aware I’m that person too) What I’m getting at is, they had nothing to compare it to accept real life experiences from friends and family. There was hardly even any reality TV when I was a kid. None of this teen mum stuff or one born every minute (which I love by the way) but we all sit there and have a little ‘ooh I wouldn’t of done it like that’ moment when watching. Don’t get me wrong, there are just as many mums taking a stand against mum shaming on social media as there are ‘perfect’ parents, but where does this end.
If your kid acts up these days it’s because they have something wrong with them, or there’s something wrong with you, or you’re neglecting them, smothering them, missing something, and so on!
This is a time when if you kiss your child on the lips and photograph it, you’re branded a paedophile. Has the world gone absolutely bat shit?
My mum always gave me a big smacker before bed, she wasn’t/isn’t a paedophile. The only difference is, back then she didn’t photograph it and post it on social media. We seldom take pictures of our babies cute little bums or let them waltz around starkers because let’s face it, there are some sick people in the world and we’re quite rightly protecting our kids, I wouldn’t ever condone anything that put them at risk, but come the fuck on people, can you not give your child a kiss or a cuddle in public anymore? Loving your child and showing affection in a positive way does not make you a monster.
My daughter doesn’t eat any veg, or fruit, accept in the form of juice. We have tried EVERYTHING! Her eating has gotten worse the older she’s got and it’s a real fight in our house some nights to get her to eat pizza and chips, let alone home made vegetable ragu. I can assure you, it’s not for lack of effort on our part as parents, whether you believe my assurances is another matter.
When Ciara’s tired and in an ‘I want Daddy only’ mood – I wonder to myself if this is because I’m a terrible mother. Does she hate me? What am I doing wrong?
When she forgets to use her ‘kind hands’ at preschool I wonder why it’s my child that plays up, what did I do?
I know I’ll go away after this post feeling liberated for all of five minutes for the rant I’ve allowed myself, and then I’ll get back to wondering why I can’t do better or be better. Why nobody looks at me as an idol, why I’m not up on a pedestal of perfect parenting.
BUT when I look at my daughter each day and see her happy and healthy little face, when she randomly comes and plants a kiss on my cheek or puts her little hand in mine, I’m going to try and see myself from her perspective. I’m going to try and love myself a little more how she loves me, and I’m going to give myself a pat on the back for every day we finish a meal, every time I refrain from referring to her as a little knob, and every time she’s kind. Fuck it I may even get myself a reward chart because I am a good mum. Deep down I know this because my perfect girl is so loved, and guilt, guilt is an emotion I render as useless as a chocolate teapot.
10 things people without children should never say to Mothers.
10 things people without kids say to Mum’s that they need to STOP!
1: When I have children I’ll _______ The likelihood is that whatever _______ is, you wont.
2: I’d never co sleep.
When you’ve been up for 15 hours straight with a colicky baby, you’ll do almost anything to make them sleep so you can close your eyes too.
3: I know having kids is hard but everyone does it.
You haven’t done it yet Julie, so why not pipe down.
4: I would never let my kid do that! If we’re talking about eating a happy meal or an ice cream before dinner or even staying up past their bedtime, sometimes Diane, you will.
5: If my kid doesn’t eat their dinner they won’t get offered anything else.
I didn’t believe in giving your kids coco pops for tea or letting them eat off of the floor either, but when they’ve turned their nose up at 5 different meals and found a wotsit behind the sofa that they actually WANT to eat, trust me Wendy, you’ll believe in the power of orange corn puffs.
6: I’m going to establish a routine from day one. NEWS FLASH babies are human beings, that means they have their own brain, and do pretty much what the hell they like. But good luck with setting those ground rules by day 3 Keisha.
7: My kid would never get away with that!!
Ok darling. Keep me posted when they draw all over the walls in pen, punch another child for no reason or eat a tampon, feel free to give your advice on a suitable punishment.
8: All kids are the same.
NO, No they’re not.
9: I wouldn’t do that if I was you. Great thanks for that Rebecca.
Please feel free NOT to give me advice on what you wouldn’t do.
10: You look tired. YES, Yes Stacey, I am so fucking tired, my tired is tired, thanks for pointing that out.
Motherhood is hard. Mums are tired, and hormonal, and sensitive and everything in between. Please be mindful of this when giving out unwanted and it most cases unnecessary, advice.
Try saying ‘How are you feeling?’ in place of you look tired.
Or ‘Can I do anything to help?’ In place of I wouldn’t do that if I were you.
Lastly, you could just keep quiet and provide an ear to listen.
Tantrums in the woods
Anyone else’s kid pushing their proverbial buttons at the moment? Sometimes I have to look at pictures like this one to remind myself she’s not a constant terror, and does have a cute side. Breakfast this morning was a hit, waffles and banana at the farm shop. We went there pre our planned walk at Greyfield Woods. Get to the woods and she has a meltdown worthy of an Oscar and refuses to walk, get down, put her coat on etc… some lady dog walker even stopped to ask her what was wrong as I swear she thought Shaun and I were dragging her into the woods kicking and screaming like some fucked up up Myra Hindley copycats! 😩 When asked what was wrong, Ciara’s reply was ‘I don’t like it down’ of course she was referring to not liking getting down and walking and wanted Daddy to carry her, but seriously, to a stranger I’m sure that sounded alarmingly odd! We asked her what she did want then, and she said ‘Mummy’s house’ meaning she wanted to go home, again, probably making said stranger consider if I even was her mummy! I just wanted to post this to let the kind if a little nosey, passerby know that our child is in fact ours and is now loving life again eating a paw patrol cake bar and watching some shit on YouTube so you can sleep easy tonight knowing we’re not murdering predators! Kids eh! FTLOG 😩😩🤯
My experience so far as a SAHM
Really, another mother fuck load of washing? Really? What did we do when I was at work, wear dirty clothes? Looks like we did, because I sure as shit didn’t do this much washing on the 9-5!!
Oh look a sea of crumbs, but I have literally just fucking hoovered damn it. Knock knock, it’s my neighbour at the door, telling me they are about to do some renovation works, should only last three weeks though. So whilst I’m trying to write a fucking book, I can be sure to concentrate at the sound of hammering and drilling, throw in a whiney toddler and we’re away.
Wow those tiles are grubby, no worries I’ll watch a Mrs Hinch video, then get on with it. Oh is that the time? Time to go and pick the little lady up from preschool, better get something for tea on the way home too, oh shit and I need to post that parcel, it’s that dress I paid over the odds for but am selling on eBay for $3, because, well I need a clear out, better than it going to waste….. Get home, cook tea whilst intermittently shouting at toddler, or rather getting shouted at, for not meeting her unreasonable demands. You know, like she wanted a blue cup instead of a pink one!
Fiancé walks in, serve up tea, eat tea, clear up tea, bath toddler, put toddler to bed, and COLLAPSE.
My point is, I used to look at mums that stayed at home and think they had it easy. They don’t. I used to look at their life and imagine Jeremy Kyle on repeat. I used to think they sat around, smoking fags waiting to pick their kids up. Why was I such a judgemental asshole? How did I judge people I knew nothing about? The people that are the adhesive holding their families together. Running around, cooking, cleaning, walking the dog, doing every single errand asked of them, because of course if they didn’t it would look like they really did have too much time on their hands. God forbid they sit down and actually drink a hot coffee. And when they do, on queue comes the question, what have you been doing all day?
Now let us not take away from working mums. They sure as shit have their work cut out too, and this is by NO means whatsoever, trying to belittle what those Boss Mama’s have going on. I just wanted to shout out a little to the ones that stay at home, and basically back track my earlier thoughts of them. I couldn’t of been more wrong!!!
For me, giving up my job was supposed to be a new start on the road to my writing career taking off, whilst giving me time to manage my illness and save on childcare. Of course it has it’s pro’s, I get to spend days with Ciara, and on the days I’m not with her I get to pick her up and hear all about her day first hand. I also get to make sure there aren’t any whites hidden in with the dark wash. It’s like anything, of course, pros and cons. Loads of pros, equally as many cons, but anything a mum does is HARD!! A mum’s job is a hard one. Whether you spend every waking moment with your babies, go to work all day, or sit in your pj’s watching Jeremy Kyle. When you’re doing what’s best for you, you’re doing what’s best for your kids. A happy mum is a happy kid.
Stop saying sorry.
Given that this blog is for the most part, sweary rants about life as a mum, as well as being about a fiancé whose snoring makes me consider our future, and whether I can fit a bed for him in the shed, you’ll probably find it hard to believe that I spend a lot of my time apologising. But the fact remains, I do.
To my daughter:
Sorry for shouting earlier darling, Mummy is very stressed today.
Sorry you ate fish fingers for tea 4 days straight because I couldn’t deal with the fall out of offering you something else.
Sorry I give you the iPad to shut you up sometimes.
To my fiancé:
Sorry I don’t have a job and therefore am not bringing much by way of fruition to the table babe.
Sorry my anxiety means sometimes I’m irrational and worry too much.
Sorry I have a chronic illness and it affects 99% of the plans I make with you and our friends.
Sorry I talk too much about said illness.
Sorry I’ve come off my antidepressants and you are having to deal with non SNRI infused, Steph.
Sorry I’m not skinnier.
Sorry I swear too much in front of the in laws.
To my followers and friends:
Sorry I bore you with toddler spam on your news feed and in our real life conversations.
Sorry my opinion isn’t favoured always by the masses.
Sorry I speak openly about mental health even though it makes people uncomfortable.
Sorry I didn’t enjoy being pregnant and I share my horror story with you.
Sorry I keep sharing boring blogs on the same old topics because they’re important to me.
Sorry I moan about being fat then eat McDonald’s twice in a row.
Can you see now? That’s a lot of ‘sorry’s’
When I apologise, I do it with sincerity, I mean it. But sometimes I wonder if I should be saying sorry at all. I seem to spend my life apologising for my very existence. Then I have a mental breakdown and apologise for not being normal enough. Is it a wonder mental health problems have hit an all time high.
The facts are these:
I’m not sorry I have anxiety, fibromyalgia and mental health issues, because these all bore from situations that have shaped me and made me a strong woman, and despite my insecurities, I am a strong woman.
I’m also not sorry I’ve stopped taking medication so I can decide whether or not even I like the ‘Real Steph.’
I’m not sorry for getting upset and being honest about why I am upset, because all ‘we‘ do is tell people to open up more, and then we shy away from listening, or criticise them for being ‘too honest‘ or for ‘airing their dirty linen.’ People commit suicide everyday because nobody listened. So when I’m airing my shit, I’m healing. Not sorry for that.
I’m not sorry I shouted at my toddler who threw her 3lb plastic dinosaur at my head because I wouldn’t let her have her third chocolate biscuit. Or that I gave in and let her have an hour on the iPad and a fish finger tea on the sofa because I needed a break.
I’m not really even sorry I don’t have a job, because I do have A job. I’m a mum, I’m managing an illness, I’m trying to study & follow a passion too. I’m not making any money at the moment, but I’m making a whole load of memories, and laying down foundations, ones that my daughter will hopefully later remember too. When and if we struggle financially, I will go and clean precinct toilets to put food on the table. So spare me the ‘get a job’ speech I only resigned last month.
I’m definitely not sorry I swear too much, because I actually Fucking. Love. Swearing. I find it such a useful tool to express myself. Fudge nugget in replace of Wanky Fucktard just doesn’t cut the mustard for me. It’s 2019 don’t tell me it’s not ladylike, or I’ll remind you that according to the Stone Age you seem to be from, nor is women going to work, or being able to vote.
If like me, you find you too are constantly apologising for being who you are, it’s time we stopped. We are not sorry, we’re brilliant and eccentric and in our own way, bring loads to the fucking table, shit, I lay the fucking table.
Can you make a pact with me that we agree to say sorry less, accept when it’s genuinely necessary.
That we agree to feel shit about ourselves less, and to focus on our strong points more. So much more!
Well can you? It’s not as easy as one would think to love yourself more. I have spent a lifetime loathing so many parts of me, that I now feel a bit cringe when I try and ‘sell myself’ I instead, wait for someone else to provide me with positive endorsements, as if it means more when someone else says it. But it doesn’t. Not really.
When you can say it yourself and mean it, when you can tell yourself you’re brilliant, that’s when it means the very most.
I’m not anywhere near that place yet, but I encourage us as a collective, to get there!! We can do this.
Share with your friends, let’s start an epidemic of #Not Sorry Divas 💝🙌🏻
Also published on SelfishMother Blogazine.
The Snotty Toddler
First published on Selfish Mother
Strands of toilet roll scatter the area around you, paw patrol is on its 5th loop and there’s a whiney noise coming from the other end of the sofa.
That’s the toddler, the one who’s been up 3 nights in a row with a hacking cough and a snotty nose.
She’s been up 3 nights in a row sneezing and insists you say ‘bless you’ after every single one, even the 3am ones.
You’ve not slept for those 3 nights and you’re pissed that your hubby seems to be getting all the sleep, so this time, you send him to bed with the snotty toddler instead. Now all you can hear are his snores in between her coughs, and it sounds like a dysfunctional metal band without any real tune. The vocals coming through as the occasional whimper from the toddler.
You know tomorrow’s going to be much of the same. After all, it’s winter and everyone knows toddlers are renowned germ carriers, spreading them like Chinese whispers amongst their little friends, occasionally passing them on to their parents too.
You wish, as the snotty toddler kicks you in the back for the millionth time, that she’d just go sleep. For the love of god, go to fucking sleep.
Tomorrow is going to be worse actually, not the same as you’d first thought. Worse because, you’ll be on your 4th day without sleep by then. Whilst you curl yourself around your baby wishing them to sleep you also take in a deep breath, breathe in their scent, and remind yourself that one day they mightn’t need you to stroke their hair when they feel unwell, they might start to like sleeping in their own bed instead of yours, and that’s when you accept, even with their bogeys under your fingernails, that sleepless nights are, for all intents and purposes, actually magical moments that you may not look back on with total fondness, but you’ll look back on nonetheless. Nothing lasts forever. Hang in there Mama’s.
When I decided to resign from my job I was excited, full of hope at all the spare time I’d have to write. Truth is I have absolutely no spare time, there’s ALWAYS something to do at home. At work, it’s just your job that needs doing until you get home, at home all day and it’s the dishes, the washing, the dust on the skirting boards, the charity shop clothes bags, the shopping, the planning and prepping dinner from scratch etc.
How did I manage that before you ask? I didn’t.
Before, I didn’t do the shopping, well not physically anyway. Amazon pantry was my bff along with whichever super market had the best BOGOFF deals. Before, I didn’t clean the skirting boards or do the sorting for the charity shops, I just lived in a mess. So why am I doing it now? Because it does need doing, and now I don’t have a hard day’s work an as excuse as to why I’m not getting it done.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining, it’s great that I have time to do all this stuff, but I have found little if no time at all to write, study, or do any of the things I said I was going to do.
When I was working, my mum did the school runs, Shaun did the washing, we ate from jars, and the shopping was delivered at a time of my choosing. But I find, rightly or wrongly, it’s expected of you to get things done if ‘You’re at home all day’ remember though, we’re still doing school run’s or looking after little people, we’re still trying (at least I am) to get some work done.
I can actually take an oath that I haven’t watch a SINGLE episode of Jeremy Kyle since leaving work. I have however, caught up on Lose Women on more than one occasion.
I really miss the social bustle of working for a large organisation and I’ve gone from feeling excited to feeling scared and at times lonely.
I want to be successful in my work, my parenting, my social groups, managing my health. I want people to believe I have it all covered from the every angle, but of course I don’t. I’m 100% winging it, with little guidance accept the online world of other mum’s who’ve followed their passions and my family and friends. The few people in my life that truly have my back, the ones that want to see me succeed are at the forefront of my mind every time I feel like quitting.
I may never succeed in my dream to write a novel, but I sure as shit won’t, if I don’t even try.
So it’s with a slight wobble I’m reminding you (and myself) to keep going. To let your creativity drive you in whatever form you find it. To keep at it because mama’s don’t quit and diva’s don’t lie down.
I will tell myself and you, everyday if I have to, that WE have got this.
And when we don’t got it, there’s always Guinness.
The road to threedom
So, Ciara’s been going through some developmental challenges lately. In just 6 short months she’s gone from barely stringing sentences together, to chatting NON STOP!
She can now count in sequence, she is potty trained, even waking up in the night and demanding a new pair of pants because:
‘I don’t want a nappy mummy’
She’s been specifically asking for people she hasn’t seen in a while, so memory is not an issue for this little dot. She’s asked for Auntie Becky and E, Nanny, and Grandad with the paw patrol bike, and often talks about her friends at preschool David, Chester and Lana with the pretty hair. It’s amazing isn’t it? How bloody clever is my kid! My heart could burst.
But… all of this extra feeling, knowing, and awareness must be a pretty crazy place in this little one’s head. I know this, because mummy is getting the brunt of it all.
‘I don’t want to’ is her favourite phrase.
‘No mummy’ is the second.
Whilst she’s doing all these amazing, magical, things, I find myself getting frustrated with her outbursts. I feel terrible about it but I can’t help sometimes wishing she’s just put the fucking blue pants on, instead of demanding rainbow ones. Or eat the damn toast you asked for 10 minutes ago kid! Who gives a flying fuck if the corner has come off, you don’t eat the crusts anyway!!!
So there’s a bit of wee in your potty already, sorry Mummy hasn’t had chance to rinse it out whilst dealing with your other 10,000 demands in the last 5 minutes.
I love you, but if you scream in my face one more time about having to put your coat on I’m gonna set the bastard coat on fire!
(Disclaimer no 2 – I don’t actually say this to her, I just roll my eyes whilst thinking it)
Then I take a deep breath and start the process of answering why Marshall has a red hat, Chase on the case has a blue one, and explaining that it’s a ‘Pumpkin’ and not a ‘Cuntpin’
I even allow the ingratitude that I got her an ‘Everest pillow’ instead of a Skye one. The world hasn’t ended my dear child just say ‘thank you Mummy’
Then I go to bed at night feeling so bad about wishing she would do as she’s told, I feel bad for not taking in the fact she’s learning, and her inquisitive nature is what might make her a Detective Inspector one day.
I feel bad that I tutted whilst having to kiss both knees when there wasn’t even a ‘baddie’ on either of them.
But guess what? I’m not the only person in the world to feel utterly fucked off and guilty all at once, and neither are you.
We’re human. It’s demanding being a mum and we don’t always get chance to take a deep breath and take in everything that’s going on, because we’re too busy trying to get tea on the table that you know your kid won’t even eat, and 20,000 pairs of pants washed ready for nursery tomorrow.
Every night before she goes to bed we have half hour chill time. We have cuddles, we read stories and we sing twinkle twinkle, and every night I tell her how amazing she is and how much I love her. Even when she’s tested me to the absolute limit.
I don’t always get it right, but I’m confident she knows I’m doing my best and that I love her more than life itself and that is enough.