Parenthood is…

Anecdotes from the chaotic world that orbits a modern and extremely busy mum of four.


Bollocks – pressed ‘publish’ when I meant to press ‘preview’!!!!!ย  Oh well, I wasn’t 100% sure where I was going next with that last post so perhaps it was my subconscious putting my conscious out of its misery?!?!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

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Music, sweet music (*sha la la*)

I am by no means a music aficionado – I am definitely very ‘mainstream’ in my musical tastes – but, whilst not having ‘cool’ (how 80’s am I?!) tastes nor having any particularly great musical knowledge, I do love music. But since having children, my brain seems to have ditched my traditional, disco-flavoured repertoire for shower-time self-serenading in favour of a complete back-catalogue of children’s tv themes! I can safely say that I know more CBeebies & Milkshake themes than I do groups / singers in the Top 40 (does that even happen on a Sunday night any more?!)!!

So, by way of recourse, I have been making a concerted effort to introduce some of my old favourites to the children – never have I had a prouder moment than a couple of weeks ago when, on the way to school, Isla gently tugged my sleeve and said “Mummy, this is a cooool song” – Massive Attack no less – good girl!!

I was also delighted (if unable to stop myself laughing out loud) when, whilst shopping in Tesco last week, Isla suddenly burst into a full-on dance to Thriller!

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** Breaking news **


Yesterday there was an explosion in the Hovis factory!

Oh no, my mistake, the flour and dough EVERWHERE are just the after effects of Simon cooking “Roman” bread with Isly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ll just clear that little lot up then (after I’ve been at work all day, got all the children fed, bathed & in bed and then cooked tea), shall I?!

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Why spies should be mums….

1. A mum knows the friends of her children, the friends & family of their friends and probably the friends & family of those friends & family. She knows the intricate relationships that play between the friends, friends & family of friends and friends & family of the friends & family of the friends. She knows the politics, family histories, long-kept family secrets and all other “important information a mum needs to know” about all of these people. And a mum can instantly recall any such information, accurately, for use in negotiations with her offspring.

2. No-one can walk as silently as a mum – stealth could be her middle name. (And that is why she will always catch her children in the act of drawing on the wall, being hideous to their younger brother or making a ‘potion’ out of her “I’m saving this for when I can have a long, hot bath in peace” favourite bubble bath…)

3. A mum’s hearing is almost a super-power – it’s so good she can hear her children’s (and husband’s!) thoughts, let alone the sulky backchat muttered under their breath.

4. A mum is a human lie-detector – she knows every single tell her children have and what they mean, she can read her children like others read a book. And she knows exactly how to get them to talk!

5. A mum is a woman of many guises – she can be a chef one moment, UN negotiator the next; a cleaner, a nurse, a seamstress, a taxi driver, an enthralling storyteller, a party organiser, a teacher, an artist… the list goes on as to the roles she can convincingly portray.

6. Above all, a mum is fiercely loyal and protective – woe betide those who choose to cross a mum or her cubs!!!!


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Mirror, mirror….

Becoming a parent teaches you so many things about yourself – it opens your eyes to see the person you really are. This is not always a comfortable thing, mind you – having children is like having the most honest mirror possible and incessantly asking it “Mirror mirror on the wall, what is the most hideous thing about me, pray, tell me all?!”

Example 1 –
Isly was dawdling while doing her morning teeth, face, hands so I was chivvying her. She turned to me and said “You’re a very grumpy Mummy”. Obviously not happy that she’d been quite wounding enough, she paused to think, then corrected herself: “No, you’re a very OLD, grumpy Mummy!”!! Alas, the girl speaks the truth – tiredness (and heel-dragging children) make me grumpy and time has made me old!!

Example 2 –
After a particularly tasty Sunday roast a few weeks ago, I had (I blush to admit!) particularly stinky wind the next day. Upon giving the children breakfast, I accidentally let one slip. Gabriel promptly burst into the most heartfelt tears, declaring “I don’t want my breakfast any more” and running from the room to the sanctuary of ‘Animal Blankie’ and the bottom of the stairs. I am, apparently, THAT repulsive after stuffing!! (It took some time, much apologising, even more coaxing and a lot of fresh air to restore him to the breakfast table and his usual good-humour.)

It is not, however, just the children that tell me how it is – my subconscious is a great fan of pointing out my failings and the less-delectable elements of my life:

Example 3 –
The other night I dreamt that I was making a youtube guide to changing an exploded nappy – so it seems that even in my dreams, where my imagination could take me to anywhere it wants, I am still just wiping crap off someone else’s backside!!!!

My children and subconscious can rest easy though, I do know my short-comings – as a parent in particular, and as a human being in general!

Example 4 –
I recently went to a wedding. For once I got to put on a dress, some jewellery and, really pushing the boat out, I thought I’d even pretty myself up with some face paint (not actual face paint, I think I’d better clarify – not that that would be totally out of character – nowadays, with the near-insanity that parenthood brings, I could quite easily imagine myself thinking it a good idea to turn up at a social event painted as a butterfly – or a tiger – or perhaps it’d be fun to go as a dragon..?! – but literally just some lipstick, eye make up and face powder). I didn’t get a chance to get the make-up on before the taxi arrived (if you’re a parent, you will know that it is nigh-on impossible to get fully ready for anything if you have children running round your feet!) so put it on in the taxi, using a small hand-held mirror. I was quite pleased with how I looked, felt almost a little glam. The first indication that I was NOT looking quite as I imagined came when I realised that the pearl lariat I was wearing (imagine a necklace you wear like a scarf), was swaying violently from side to side whenever I walked, almost to the point that I was in danger of taking a fellow guest’s eye out! I tried to adjust it, thinking maybe I’d got it draped a bit one-sided, but it again did its best to wound anyone in close proximity! And that was when it occurred to me – it was swaying because I was waddling! It seems years of pregnancy have made my “there’s a baby’s head in my pelvis” waddle permanent! But, my appearance-epiphany did not stop at my walk resembling that of a fatted goose, no – it got worse when I popped to the loo upon arriving at the reception and happened to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror! My reflection was so bad I actually did a double-take! The make-up I had so painstakingly applied had not, as I had believed, rolled back the years to reveal a fresh-faced twenty-something – instead, the powder had served as a highlighter to every single wrinkle and crinkle, the lipstick had run making me look like I’d just devoured some raw flesh and the mascara had turned my eyelashes into a set of over-dark charred twigs! In short, my face looked like a witch’s mask! I promptly tried to remove as much make-up as I could and remained self-conscious for the rest of the day!!

But it is not all bad – I also know my strengths! Ingenuity and multi-tasking being two such attributes:

Example 5 –
Quite a while ago the toilet pipe started leaking in the middle of the night – we had no plumbing tape and no DIY shop was open at that time, so I tried to think of what might act as a good substitute, from all the things we had in the house. Instead of heading for the tool box, however, as most would probably do, I headed instead for the medicine cabinet! I grabbed a roll of medical tape and started winding it round the leaking seal, just as if bandaging a wound. It stopped leaking and, (touching so much wood right now!), has held up ever since…. (I have so tempted fate there!)

Example 6 –
The night before Toby’s Christening, I needed the loo at about 4.30 in the morning. Sitting there, I suddenly thought, “hmm, I need to wax my legs – I’ll do it now while I’m sat here anyway…!” So, I spent the next 20 minutes listening to the dawn chorus (another one to cross off the ‘to-do’ list!), ripping the hair from my legs and doing as nature intended. It’s a little thing I like to call “me time” (it’s as close as I get nowadays!)!!

I’m just so damn rock ‘n’ roll! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Where the Hell did that come from?!

I just went to unload the washing, opened the machine door and there, sat quietly on the rubber door seal, was a poo! Where the hell did that come from??!! I know I had put in some clothes that were suffering the after effects of a leaky nappy or two, but we were talking seepage there not full-on logs creeping out the leg holes…. Thought I’d best check the load, make sure I’d not lost it and accidentally put a nappy in the washing (and, thus, the clothes in the bin..??!!) – but no, no signs of any nappy or additional poop anywhere else in the clothes or machine. Maybe it was a protest by the Laundry Pixies, fed up of their appalling working conditions and the ever-growing volcano of washing, threatening to erupt and spill a flow of pants and socks all over the laundry room floor…?? Or perhaps a rather grizzly practical joke or someone getting caught short?! Did someone perhaps sneak in when I wasn’t looking and lay one in the machine, Frank Gallagher style?! (For the fellow Shameless fans amongst you – “ta-dah!”!!) Who knows, but there it was, sat proud but a little resigned as it waited for its inevitable removal and disposal.

The thing that amazes me, and inspires not just a small amount of admiration, is the resilience of the thing โ€“ there it was, having just been through a 2 ยฝ hour wash, sitting proud and remarkably unscathed (what am I feeding my children?!)! What a robust little poo it was! Unless, of course, it started life as a great big rock of a turd, gradually weathered and eroded by the wash until, there it sat, smaller and smoother, like a pebble washed up in the tide…

Needless to say, the whole load has now been put on a lengthy hot wash with a double dose of Vanish anti-bac!! Being a Mum can be a grizzly old job!

Reminded me of a joke I once heard my Dad tell:
โ€œThere are three kinds of turd in this life โ€“ cus-turd, mus-turd and you, you big shit!โ€ Ba-boom!!

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No Dancers today….

This morning, Isla was due back from dancing and I was on the phone to mum – there was a light Isla-tap at the door and when I went to answer it, I could see her bright pink jumper through the door window – so I swung the door open in an over-dramatic fashion, loudly proclaiming “sorry, not today – no dancers today!”…. as I realised that it was not Isla and Simon as I was expecting, but two elderly ladies inviting me to a “service to celebrate Jesus’ death”!!

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Setting my own trends… or not!

It has long been established that I am no fashionista – I just do not have a knack with clothes – but even I have to admit that my recent appearance has proven that my dress-sense has sunk to an all-time low!

Take last week – in the cold weather I left the house thinking “at least when it’s freezing you get to put on cold weather gear which is meant to look a little mismatched” (*ahem*). It was only when we arrived at the nursery and I was greeted with a horrifying reflection (that I didn’t immediately recognise as myself) in ‘The Glass Door’* that I realised the extent of my delusion – I did not, as I had believed, look a little cookily mis-matched – no, I looked like I’d been dressed by a two year old… who hates me!! I had on a purple fleece hat I bought in my early 20’s, a khaki & olive puffa that used to be my Dad’s, a pink stripey scarf (that has a series of knots in the tassels that I tied when pregnant with Noah so now won’t un-tie in case it attracts some terrible karma! I know!!), beige linen trousers that were once my aunt’s and then my mum’s before they became mine (very suitable for freezing conditions!) and grey & black trainers that I also inherited from my mum!! (Kate Moss eat your heart out!)

It gets worse…

On Monday, ‘The Glass Door’ revealed a rather brutally honest reflection that informed me that I looked like one of those puzzles where you match the head / body / legs up to create either normal or amusing combinations (I was obviously unwittingly gunning for a look that fitted the latter category)! I was wearing a purple coat that would clearly look a lot more pleased with its lot if it were sat on the shoulders of a tartan-shopping-trolley-wielding 70 year old, a brown & white floral maternity top (and no, I am not pregnant again!), a pair of my mother-in-law’s old work trousers (smart navy trousers!) and the aforementioned grey & black trainers.

On Tuesday and Wednesday (yes, grizzly, I know, wearing the same clothes two days running – dare I reveal the really disgraceful fact that I also wore the top to bed on the night in-between…??!!), I was looking a little more co-ordinated (relatively speaking!), wearing a brown top, long brown cardigan, the smart trousers again (ok, so they got three days’ wear – I feel I’m digging my hole deeper as I go here…!!) and, once again, you’ve guessed it, the grey & black trainers!! But, although, trainers aside, my “outfit” looked like it could actually be conceived as an outfit and not just random clothes thrown at me, it is possibly worth mentioning that these clothes are now all too big for me and so were, literally, hanging off me – and not in an elegant, casual-wear kind of way, but more of a “Dali’s melting clocks / I stole these from Pavaroti’s larger twin sister / these may fall off me at any moment” kind of way!!

(It is probably worth noting that I am not deliberately choosing these clothes so as to look this way – these are just the nearest clean clothes I find in the mornings….!! And, in my fatigue-induced delirium, I find myself believing that the clothes I’ve thrown on do actually look pretty good….! Until ‘The Glass Door’ tells me like it is, of course!)

And let’s not mention my underwear – so many holes it could be believed I’m wearing bondage gear (I’m not!). I even found a piece of a rapidly-disintegrating maternity bra in Toby’s cot the other morning – it would appear my dress sense has become so bad that even my clothes are trying to jump ship!!!!

And of course, need I say that most of my clothes now have rather fetching adornments and embellishments that the children so thoughtfully give me on a daily basis – such as porridgey handprints, circles of dried, milky dribble, felt tip pen….!

So it would appear that I have lost, amongst many other things, the ability to properly dress myself! But the really shocking thing is that I am only a little bit bothered by it and feel relatively little shame when walking around looking like I’ve raided Oxfam’s bins! I personally blame childbirth – once you’ve gone through the associated humiliations of bringing a baby into the world, bad clothes just don’t even register on the Richter Scale of embarrassment! Other than when ‘The Glass Door’ shouts at me, of course!!

All I can say is – Trinny & Susannah, where are you?!

*’The Glass Door’ is a full-length glass door I have to walk towards when taking Gabriel to nursery and it serves as a rather cruel mirror on nursery mornings!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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A Gabriel-ism to end the day!

(To get the full effect of this Gabriel-ism, you need to raise your voice in delight for the last two words…)

While watching Charlie & Lola (‘Welcome to Lolaland’ – Marv & Charlie are talking about Spanish),
Gabriel says to Toby: “We don’t like Spanish do we? Or carrots. Or sweetcorn. Or POO!!!!”


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Oh My God, I’ve dyed my baby!!

Today I decided to be a good parent and do some “activities” with the youngest two children – some painting and maybe some cooking…

We started with the painting – I got everything out and ready, set Gabriel up and let him get creative. Then I thought it’d be nice to get some hand prints from Tobs while he’s little so painted his hand. A couple of right-handed prints later he started wriggling and then grumbling. Shortly after a familiar, warm smell drifted up to my nose (that distinctive smell of hot, digested milk and baby rice – how can two such innocuous foods create such a pong?! Maybe that’s a subject for another day…?!). Sure enough, upon inspection, I found that Tobs had not only pooped but had decided to do some artwork of his own and his and my clothes now had a new, yellow pattern to them. Nice. So I took him to the sink to wash off the paint before I changed him… I popped his hand under running water and it very soon became apparent that, under the paint, Toby’s skin was now blue!! argh!

Practical mum kicked-in and I headed back through to continue with the task of changing Toby’s nappy and clothes. As I walked back past Gabriel, however, I found that Gabriel had not only painted both his hands in a medley of green and red, but one of his arms in the same red-and-green-make-durgy-brown medley and, (most alarmingly given my recent discovery regarding the dyeing nature of the paints), his nose – in bright blue!

At this point I found myself pondering the dilemma of which substance to deal with first – the paint decorating Gabriel or the poop adorning Toby…? I chose the poop (Tobs having been the one making the most noise!). That done, I faced the challenge of cleaning-up Gabriel. Sure enough, soap and water revealed that Gabriel was indeed now sporting a farmer’s tan of murky green… and a bright, blue nose, like a colour-blind clown!

(It was at this point, looking again at Toby’s hand, that I found myself momentarily wondering whether it would be truly bad parenting to ‘neaten the job’ and paint ‘gloves’ on his hands to disguise my inadvertent dye-job…?!)

Half an hour of soaking and scrubbing in the bath later and Gabriel’s skin was duly restored to its natural, pink colour – that is, all except for his blue nose! Toby’s hand was still blue at this point but, as it was rapidly heading for home-from-school-time for the eldest two, I had to abandon my plans for bathing him early and, instead, headed back downstairs to clear up the ‘art’ and prepare for the inevitable “Why is Toby’s hand blue?… *pause* …And why the *#!@ is Gabriel’s nose blue?!” that would emanate from the other half upon his arrival home from work….

Upon clearing-up, I discovered that Gabriel had also taken the time to thoughtfully paint one of the dining chairs and washing the pots and brushes left the kitchen resembling an explosion in a Picasso studio – fortunately the paint came off furniture significantly more easily than it did off skin!

Lessons learned?
1. I am not safe in charge of child-friendly paints.
2. Wipes remove paint very well from furniture – not so well from skin.
3. The constant stream of teething-dribble produced by a six month baby has the cleaning power equivalent to a half-hour soak in a bath (thankfully!).

I think I’ll save the cooking for another day! Now, where’s that bottle of wine…?!