Hope for tomorrow

To anyone who may be reading this, I apologise for how long it has taken for me to write a new post. I was quite overwhelmed by the response to he last one, and by how many people read it. I had regrets about some of the phrases I used, felt embarrassed that I had not proof read and reworded it to make sure I was entirely happy. The truth is that I write my blog posts with one hand on my phone whilst breastfeeding my boy each night. Mostly I don’t re-read them, I just send them out in to the universe, unedited. In response to having my blog actually seen by people, I decided to take some time to write something personal, something that meant something.

So I started to draft a message of hope, inspired by news of missing Alice Gross, a story which has occupied my mind with worry and anguish. My own cousin also went missing when I was young, and despite all the odds, he was found alive many years later, and with support has been able to return home. The circumstances of his disappearance were very different – he was over 18 years old, does not live in the UK, and his decision to leave home was influenced by an undiagnosed mental health condition; however the experience of living with the unknown was the same.

I was just a child when my own family were going through our own hell, so I was protected from the reality of the situation, from the stress and the heartache. It wasn’t until I was a mum myself that I really thought about how it must feel to be offered the chance to have your child declared as dead after being a missing person for so long, as my Aunt did. The agony of not knowing the whereabouts of your own child must be unbearable, I cannot imagine it. Despite having no connection to Alice or her family, I felt the biting anxiety that each day of not knowing bought. I felt the nausea of every revelation in the news. I cried about her, prayed for her, hoped and wished for a positive outcome for her and her family. I thought back to my cousin and remembered that sometimes miracles do happen, people do return, gone does not mean gone forever.

So I wrote a post about this, I hoped that it might give some hope to someone. I was trying to put my faith in the power of positive thinking, I wanted to believe in a miracle.

But then yesterday morning, like everyone else, I read about the discovery of Alice, and I realised that she would not be able to return home. There was a sombreness in our house that was felt around the country, our collective heart was broken, for a moment we were united in our grief. But we are lucky, because we were able to move on from this moment, and although Alice will remain in our thoughts, we were able to get on with our day. For her family, friends, those who knew and loved her, the rest of the day would not be so easy. Suddenly my message of hope didn’t apply anymore, things had changed forever.

So sorry that this post is not of the quality or standard that it should be, as once again I am hodgepodging this together on my phone, babe in arms, life is as it always was. I feel that ultimately, parenting is all about hope for the future. We have to live in hope that things will be good, your child will thrive, succeed, be happy, feel loved and treasured. At times it feels impossible to look ahead and feel positive, but in time, as hearts heal, hope can return. I send my love and deepest sympathies to Alice’s family and friends at this very difficult time. She will not be forgotten.

Do modern parenting trends fit with modern life?

Please allow me to begin this post by stating it is in no way my intention to judge or criticise choices made by any parents. I know how exhausting it is to manage the daily parenting decisions and dilemmas such as how to get the baby to eat his peas, let alone the big and important things that actually really mean something. I just wanted to get out some of the thoughts that are going round in my head this evening, and was wondering if there is ever a perfect answer to the question about how best to raise our children.

Before I had my boy or even became pregnant, I had a pretty well-considered idea about what sort of a parent I wanted to be, and what my life as a mum would be like. I then went along to my NCT classes and my ideas changed. I decided I would give breastfeeding a go. I would think about co-sleeping. I was worried about the effects of cortisol on the development of my baby’s brain, so Husband and I agreed we would try not to let him cry.

Once he arrived I decided to parent by instinct, and what felt best to me was holding him close to me at all times, carrying him in a sling, breastfeeding on demand, comforting him, being available, taking responsibility for fulfilling his every need. The mummy friends I made were making similar decisions. I discovered that natural parenting, attachment parenting and gentle parenting were pretty popular amongst the NCT allumini, and that skin-to-skin bonding and breastfeeding were actively encouraged by midwives and health visitors. Let’s not forget at this point that these things really don’t come easy. Breastfeeding on demand is exhausting to the point of madness; meeting the every need of your child comes at the expense of your own needs in the early days and weeks and months, meaning that the sense of achievement and pride from actually doing this stuff is beyond amazing. My pre-baby self set a goal of breastfeeding for the first 3 months. In reality, I was still exclusively pumping every feed at 8 weeks. Once my baby finally learnt how to latch on and nurse directly from the breast it was something I would not give up for anything or anyone, testament to this is that we are still feeding at 15 months with no plans to quit.

And so Baby R and many of his peers grew together, sharing life experiences cheek to cheek with their mums, secure and comforted, mother and baby entwined and coexisting symbiotically. Positively attached, if you will.

Just as life started to feel manageable again, that’s when the emails started. Invitations to team meetings, reminders about KIT days, discussions about return to work dates. Along with this came the reality that I would have to hand over my baby to someone else, put him in their care. They would not let him nap on their lap, sing his special happy song to him, or wear him in a sling. They would give him milk from a bottle. He would not be the centre of their world.

I found this thought too hard to manage, and so with great sadness I resigned from my job. I had not planned to, and I did not do it primarily for the reasons discussed here, I did it because I love my baby more than I loved my job, and I could not bear not to see him. But had he gone to nursery at 9 months, would it not have been kinder to my child to raise him is an unattached way, being used to receiving love and care from a variety of important people, minimising the inevitable devastation of separation? Why are we being encouraged to raise our babies in a way which seems so incompatible with a return to work early on in their precious lives? Are the benefits of attachment style parenting in the early months not undone through the act of returning to work and forcing the child to have to re-learn a new way of life, to discover how to exist in a world where conflicting expectations are placed upon them depending on whether they are with mummy or not?

I don’t know the answers to these questions but I think it is important to start considering them. My experience of watching friends return to work is that the preparation for nursery happens through taking their baby to the childcare provider for a couple of visits, not through altering their own parenting style. In fact, most of them are re-doubling their efforts to keep the attachment strong. Suddenly they are once again co-sleeping. They begin breastfeeding more frequently. They carry their babies around when they are with them, unwilling to let them go. The differences between the two worlds their children inhabit are made more distinct not less, the stress of having to to constantly move between them and re-learn the rules must be overwhelming at times for babies of all ages.

Child vs husband: who is the worse patient?

After (only just) surviving a week of intense illness, in which I had to be the nurse whilst every possible type and colour of bodily fluid has been forcefully ejected from the bodies of my child and husband, it got me thinking – who really is the worse patient?

Coping strategies:
Child – manages illness by crying, clinging on to mama, snuffling and whining day and night. Coping strategies under-developed due to lack of life experience.
Husband – manages illness by moaning, slumping around the house, snoozing at every opportunity (particularly when in charge of the baby) and obsessively Googling symptoms until convinced he has only hours left to live (this time he convinced himself he had Ebola).
Best at comping with illness: Husband, although I’m sure he will be surpassed by child within the next year.

Crying:
Child – cries for attention, cries when hungry or thirsty, cries when too full and feeling sick, cries before and after being sick, before and after pooing, before going to sleep and after waking up. Crying intense at times but short in duration due to weakness.
Husband – tears were shed between periods of sickness, when I tried to talk to husband about him being sick, when he called his own mum to tell her he’d been sick, when he realised he only had days to live due to ‘Ebola’.
Least annoying crying: Child, as husbands continued weeping is inexcusable for a 30 year old man.

Reaction to vomit:
Child – did a couple of huge vomits, a couple of smaller ones, but mostly all vomit emerged whilst in his cot. On one occasion (following a quite frankly enormous vomit) baby simply rolled over and went back to sleep! On the positive he is clearly not stressed about sicking up, however the negative was that after sleeping and fidgeting around in a pool of sick, there was quite a pronounced smell in the house and literally the entire surface area of himself and the cot had become coated in his stomach contents.
Husband – had one night of vomiting, around two proper vomits and a few dry heaves. Lots of lip wobbling and tears followed each, as well as cries of ‘I’m never going to eat again’ and ‘I wish I was dead’ but he was at least able to tell me when he was about to be sick. Mostly by shouting ‘help me I’m going to be sick!’
Best at reacting to vomit: Husband – he cleaned up his own sick plus as the baby chundered in my hair he was never really going to win this round.

Overall pathetic-ness:
Child – managed to play and explore between periods of exhaustion, even when the act of turning a page in a book took almost all his effort and required a little lie-down afterwards.
Husband – flumped around like an adult baby for 3 days, sighing melodramatically as if auditioning for the role of a super sad and sorry-for-himself Eeyore in a live-action production of Winnie the Pooh.
Least pathetic: Child. It was so hard to feel anything but love for the sniffley little babe in his slightly too big PJ’s watching Big Barn Farm and whispering ‘woof’ at every animal, regardless of species *too cute!*

Recovery:
Child – soldiered on day after day, roughly respecting the normal rhythm and routine of life, giving Mummy occasional breaks during naps and only waking up at night when covered in sick or poo.
Husband – refused solid food for 3 days due to fear of vomiting, then broke his fast by eating 4 Chicago Town microwaveable pizzas (no, we don’t normally have these in the house, he sent me out specifically to buy them because otherwise he thought he might die). He then moaned that he might die from eating too much microwaveable pizza. No sympathy.
Best recovery: Child. Obviously born to be the next Bear Grylls, made of strong stuff and with an unshakable determination to play with MegaBloks even when on his sickbed.

My findings lead me to conclude that my husband is the worse patient, and should be protected from germs by keeping him in a sterile environment for the rest of his life just so I never have to nurse him through a gastric illness ever again!

Nursery to big-boys room

I know some people might think it’s a bit early to be transforming Baby R’s nursery into a bedroom designed to better suit his needs for the next few years and beyond, but that’s what we’ve been working on lately.  To be honest, his nursery was just a hodgepodge of our existing furniture plus a cot, and although I don’t go in for the designer look with complete ranges of furniture and furnishings bought en mass from one shop, I did want to buy some things specifically for that room.  The overall aim of my mini-makeover was to make the room practical and cute, to increase storage and to use the space better.  I also wanted to make a reading nook/calm and cosy spot, and I wanted space for photos and pictures on the wall.

Here are some snaps of my changes so far.  I hope you like my mix of old and new, homemade and store bought stuff!  Things still to be done include repainting the walls and ceiling, finding a fun floor-standing lamp, and eventually replacing the carpet, but those things can wait!

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Toy box/chest and drawers – IKEA
Change mat – John Lewis
Wall shelf – Great Little Trading Company
Pillow – made by me using Wildwood fabric by Bethan Janine (available from Lady Sew and Sew)
Lampshade – This Modern Life

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Wall display – made by me using recycled wood and stationery
Images – upcycled from book found in charity shop

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Curtains – Mamas and Papas, now discontinued
Bunting – from Antique Rose, Wokingham
Bird wall stickers – IKEA

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Cot bed – John Lewis, now discontinued
Sleeping bag – The Gro Company
Comforter – Mamas and Papas, now discontinued
Wall decoration – The Early Learning Centre

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Art – upcycled Christmas card!

5 stay at home parent survival tips

1: Buy a Sophie la Giraffe. Not because it’s popular or the ‘done thing’, or even because of any supposed benefits to your child during teething (because let’s face it, nothing really reduces that particular misery for anyone involved). Buy it because it’s made of that satisfyingly semi-soft plastic, and you can crush its little head in your bare hands when things get a bit too much.

2: Hide all photos of yourself pre-baby looking happy/with friends/looking thin. These will only serve to increase your misery and self-loathing. Instead, go on the internet, find and then print off pictures of biscuits and cakes, and put them up around your house. These are your only true friends now, you might as well welcome them in to your life with open arms.

3: While you’re at it, you might as well cover up any mirrors you have. Even when you think you look good, this new ‘good’ is the equivalent of ‘shit’ from the old days. Luckily the person you will spend most of your time with can’t speak/doesn’t care/prefers it when you’re covered in porridge and sick anyway.

4: Make sure you know all the various Neighbours start times, and the channels showing it, just in case you’re out/cleaning up a poo explosion/have a power cut during your usual viewing time. Missing an episode is like the equivalent of missing an amazing night out with every single one of your best friends that you don’t even have to pay for. It is unthinkable. Toadie has become like a second husband to me, such is my emotional attachment to him. Don’t get me started about the jeopardy surrounding his recent car accident (he was run over by a grandmother having a heart attack because she had just discovered her estranged granddaughter – who she gave away at birth in an illegal adoption and told the baby’s mother, her daughter, the baby had died – was living in Ramsey Street using a false identity to spy on her family). I was on the edge of my seat, the fear of losing Toadie, it’s just too much to bear. In case you’re wondering – c5 13:45 and17:30, c5+1 14:45 and 18:30, 5* 15:00 and 19:00. Sometimes I watch it at all these times. And then I watch some old episodes on YouTube too. Please don’t tell anyone, I know I have a problem.

5: Find the wangy-est, tinny-est, most awful and annoying version of ‘I’m a little teapot’ and set it as your ringtone. Being that it is used on EVERY ‘musical’ toy available (you know the kind of toys I’m talking about here, the ones your kid is magnetically attracted to, despite your best efforts to hide/bin/burn the bloody things), it will become the soundtrack to your life, so you might as well embrace it. When my phone goes now I start humming along and mouthing the words to the nearest person whilst smiling like a maniac. Regardless of whether or not Baby R is with me.

Obviously this list was written as a silly little something to make you smile, and I am in no way suggesting this as a way to live your life. Please just laugh, be happy, and do what you need to do to get through each day!

So I married a mess-maker

WARNING: this might get sweary.

I know I am a touch obsessive about how I keep my home, how I live my life, how I go about things. I appreciate that some people think it’s weird to put things away, but I don’t. In my corner of the world, everything has a place. That’s just how I roll.

Sadly, this philosophy is not shared by everyone in my house. My husband is a long-term and fully committed messy-un. He loves the ‘leave it where it falls’ approach to life. It has been years since he put something on a hanger. His attitude is what I refer to as ‘shit blind’. He can literally sit in a room littered with complete crap, and be blissfully unaware of it. He walks past nappy bags full of actual wee and poo, put by the front door by him with the intention of putting them in the outside bin (‘I’ll take that out later’, the biggest piss-taking-waste-of-oxygen lie I’ve ever heard). When I point out the piles of bagged up human turds in our house he just goes ‘oh yeah’, as if seeing them for the first time. Even when ants and flys flap and crawl around him, attracted by his stig-in-the-dump ways, this still does not provide him with enough motivation to actually pick his shit up. Although we are similar in so many ways, this is one of the main differences that divides us, and is a cause of the majority of our disagreements.

*and breath*

Someone I know told me her husband does all the housework. I think my open-mouth stare gave away my disbelief. I questioned her further and she confirmed it. The cooking, ironing, washing, hoovering, food shopping, bill paying, dusting, tidying, everything. Fucking unbelievable. How the hell did she manage that?! If my husband spontaneously put on a load of washing I might die. When I was in hospital with Baby R for the first week, he didn’t even flush the toilet. True story. I came home, couldn’t wait for an actual hot shower to wash away the grime and yukkiness, but sadly couldn’t because the bathroom was a vile stinking no-go zone, rancid with the stench of a weeks worth of wees left festering in the loo. I heaved; he hadn’t even noticed. I shudder to think about how he might be living if left to his own devices.

But let me clarify for a minute, he didn’t create a rank wee stink-bomb on purpose. He doesn’t actively ignore things, and he doesn’t make decisions to deliberately make my life more difficult, that’s just how it seems to me sometimes. I must also say that he actually does help me with the housework, it’s just that I have to delegate and micro-manage every task, often re-doing his work to bring it up to my standard. I actually wish I could be more like him at times. Very often in the day I don’t have lunch or a rest whilst Baby R is napping, because I have a list of jobs in my head that I feel I have to get done before I allow myself a break. I don’t know why this is. If I didn’t do it, no one else would give a fuck, it’s just my stupid brain that tells me I have to do it. Keeping on top of things proves to the world that I am coping, I still have a purpose. If I ever actually made a new mum friend I could invite her around. I am always ready for impromptu coffee mornings that never actually happen.

I wonder what Baby R’s approach to housekeeping will be when he is older. Recently, he has started pointed at food and other debris he drops from his highchair and gestures for me to pick it up. I dutifully crawl around beneath him with an anti-bacterial wipe, cleaning the area, putting things straight. He claps and smiles, we repeat this at every meal time, day in, day out. At first I was excited that he wanted a clean home, but now I’m wondering if, in fact, he just fancies me as his slave. Who knows what he really think of us adults, one making mess and the other tidying up, both busy working on bringing the other round to their way of thinking, becoming ever more determined for their way to rule in the house.

Anyway, enough musing for one day. No amount of analysing things will make them change. I know my way isn’t the right way, but it’s the way things are for now. Husband is babysitting this afternoon to give me a break, so I’m off to reorganise the under-bed storage, after all, it is my day off!!

Ps a big thank you to everyone who has read my blog recently, you have made me mighty happy.

Time to be a little kinder to ourselves

So last week a weird thing happened. I went to sainsbury’s to buy a new outfit (as you do when you’re both poor and achingly bored), and my little shopping trip ended up with me crying in a changing room. And not the usual despairing tears which happen after seeing myself in the mirror. These were different tears. Weird tears. Unashamed, free flowing and happy.

So I began as I always do, mulching around, half-heartedly looking at the rails, scanning the sale section for the light and dark blue sizes, ignoring the size 10 mannequins in the skinny cropped jeans that should never be seen on a woman with an arse like mine. When I had gathered a handful of garments I headed over to the changing rooms, but as there was no space for me to fit in with the pushchair, I stepped into the end cubicle and left the door open, so I could keep an eye on Baby R whilst he cooed and smiled bashfully at the assistant.

In the time honoured way, I chucked the first dress on over the outfit I was wearing. I know for some people it would be a sin not to see properly how the clothes hang and fit, but for me the process of trying something on is simply to confirm whether the garment has adequate stretch to pass over my enormous mass, and that there is enough fabric to make me feel just comfortable enough that my numerous front and back lumps and bumps are covered.

I felt relatively satisfied with the second dress, and turned and exclaimed to Baby R that shopping was over. The shopping assistant was standing close to the pushchair and she looked and asked if she could offer some advice. Here is comes, I thought, she’s noticed how repulsive I am. She’s going to say the dress doesn’t fit, doesn’t suit me, makes me look like a whale that’s floated in to an enormous sack. She’s going to say I can’t be seen in Sainsburys clothes because I’m so vile. She’s going to ask me to leave and not come back. Oh god, I want to die.

What she said was unexpected. “What’s going on love?” I didn’t know how to respond. She probably noticed my stupid expression, the absence of thought. “Why are you doing this?” She moved around the pushchair, she touched my arm. “It’s time to be a bit kinder to yourself love”, she said, and that was it, the tears flowed out of me. She didn’t say anything else but gestured for me to take the dress off, which I did, and she took it and returned with the same style in a smaller size. She handed it to me and smiled, then went back to distracting the baby. I tried it, it fitted, I took it off and we left. I said thank you to her but she was busy talking to someone else, offering advice and kindness.

It occurred to me later how much of an impact those few words had on me, how restorative that fleeting moment of positivity was, how much I had really needed it.

It is a strange thing to live your most of your waking life without adult human interaction, and to exist under a blanket of blackness caused by isolation and loneliness, but it gives me hope to know there are still places where people are willing to reach out, to be generous with their love, to take the time to give hope to a depressed fat girl, to notice me.

I have worn and felt better in this new dress, in fact I even got complimented in it this weekend, so I thought it was time to pass the message on. If (like me) you are tempted to think less of yourself, to feel miserable about how you look or act, or if you dwell on every embarrassing moment until it is elevated up to confidence-crippling proportions, then let’s take a moment to stop, reflect on the positives, and be a little kinder to ourselves.

And if you can’t, have a coffee and a bourbon. That also helps me feel better! I highly recommend it!

Is it ok for stay at home mum to want a day off?

Let me begin by providing a little bit of information about my personal circumstances. I am a stay at home mum. It was my choice, I had a job to return to, but I resigned. My monthly salary minus petrol and childcare would have been nominal, I would have been going to work as a hobby, and truth be told, I just didn’t love my job as much as I love my baby.

My return to work date was arranged for the middle of August, about a month from now. Throughout my pregnancy and even during the first months of motherhood I had always intended to return to work. It was only during a badly timed visit to work with baby which resulted in us commuting home during rush hour (about the time we would leave work together each day) and having to experience the hell of a hot car in a traffic jam with a screaming infant for an hour, that I really thought about not going back. From there on, my desire to return diminished day by day until I felt sick at the thought of leaving my darling. Husband and I made the decision for me to resign together – I am so very fortunate that he supports me and is able to support our family financially – and so I said goodbye to my job, the career I had worked years to achieve, my colleagues, and very possibly, my sanity.

To help me justify my unemployed status to myself, and to try and maintain some dignity and feeling of accomplishment day to day, I started to mentally draft a kind of job description for being a stay at home mum. This included things like always cooking from scratch a meal for my husband to be ready for him as soon as he gets home; taking my baby to at least one activity per day; keeping the house to (admittedly my own self-imposed) high-standard inside and out; doing at least 3 extra jobs per day (in addition to the everyday washing, cooking, washing up, tidying, etc). Living within these guidelines gave me some structure, something to aim towards, something to prove my existence. But recently I have been finding it hard. I feel tired a lot, run down. I feel the sadness I thought had gone starting to return.

Friends who have returned to work joke that it gives them some relief. One of my friends has used some holiday whilst her baby was in nursery and had an actual break.. Others have been away on hen weekends and spa days, or their babies have spent time with grandparents or other family members. Of the 388 days that Baby R has been alive, I have had 4 significant periods of time (more than 1 hour) away from him. Twice when I was late-night food shopping during the early days when we never slept; once when I went to hospital for my breast biopsy and abscess drain; and an hour and a half last weekend when I went fabric shopping for my new business. Of course husband takes him out for walks etc, but these have primarily been to allow me to achieve some household chore, never for relaxation or rest.

And so with each day and week and month that goes past, I find myself more and more in need of space. Except the guilt of ‘doing nothing’ sends me in to overdrive each weekend, and instead of taking time off I keep adding lists of ever more specific jobs to my list of jobs to do, and I keep doing things that lead to other things. Instead of accomplishing anything or feeling settled or satisfied, I feel that I am paddling upstream and getting nowhere. I am desperate for husband to rest after his week out at work, to recuperate, spend time with Baby R, and enjoy himself. I am also desperate to be a model wife and mother, to appear as if I am coping, and to prove my value as a stay at home mum. Each weekend is like a one-to-one with my manager and I feel as if I am still on probation. I can’t afford to slip now.

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way, but it has made me think that perhaps the pressure on us stay-at-home-ers is just as intense as those mummy’s who return to work, and maybe (in some ways) it is more. There is no return to the ‘adult world’, no validation from performance reviews, no conversation or lunch breaks or hot coffee. But there is an expectation that being at home is fun, full of play dates and Costa coffees. That it is the easy choice, after all, it involves doing nothing.

My returned-to-work friends are slowly drifting apart from me, the differences in our choices and our lifestyles mean they now gravitate towards other return-to-work-ers. They want to go out after work and get drunk; I can’t get over the guilt of the idea of not being home, not working on the house or getting my business ready, let alone actually doing it.

So what is my point? I have said before to husband (during arguments) that the job I left gave me 38 holiday days per calendar year plus bank holidays, weekends, evenings and nights off. What does my new role offer? An occasional uninterrupted watch of lunchtime Neigbours when the fates align so that dinner is prepared and Baby R is napping. Is that a rest? Have I given up my entitlement to hope for or expect anything more when I gave up work? I don’t really know the answers to these questions at the moment but they burden me and whilst unanswered they add to my exhaustion.

I think it is inevitable that both sides of the return to work vs stay at home debate will, at times, look upon the other with envy and jealousy, a longing to chuck it all in and defect. There is no right path in life, just what is right for you, and as I am learning, even what you think is right for you may actually only be what is right for you, right now.

I am ready to ask for a Saturday morning or afternoon off now. I know my babe will survive without me and I have a handful of people I trust to care for him in my absence, although they mainly live a few hundred miles away. I hope that some separation will help me to live as myself again for a few hours, to reconnect with who I am, to be a mum without having to actually stay at home. I’m not sure when I will book my mini holiday just yet, perhaps it will be this month or next or in the autumn or winter, but I will make the most of it, and will treat it as a day off from work. And yes, I probably will drink wine!

Poor Tiger

There’s a nappy on the Wheelybug’s head.

A year ago if someone had said that sentence to me I would have made my best wtf face at them. These days, it’s the kind of thing that just rolls off my tongue.

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Baby R is having something of an awakening.  He has realised that there are parts of himself that get covered up by his nappy.  At the same time, he has realised that he has the ability to make choices, and he is starting to learn how to make his opinion heard.  These two developmental milestones colliding have resulted in a very unwelcome situation.  A nappy wearing revolution.

And so I find myself living in a funny old house, one where it is common to find a nappy stuffed down the back of a sofa or hidden inside a Mega Bloks dumper truck.  Baby R’s protest against nappy wearing is underway, and his determination to defeat his restrictive enemy is unmatched.  No matter how much singing and fun I try to inject during nappy change time, he still responds with screams piercing enough to rouse all cats within a 10 mile radius.  I half expect to see social services pulling up outside my house any day, called in by my horrified neighbours.  “Excuse me madam.  We’ve received an alarming report that you’ve been trying to change your child’s nappy.  Please desist immediately or face severe consequences.”

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And so change time comes round again.  It’s a bad one, the kind you can smell from 10 feet, not the kind you can ignore.  We face off.  He knows it’s coming, he tries to run away, he fakes left then crawls past me on the right.  The change mat is our battlefield.  I remove the offending stink bomb, I’m winning, I’m halfway to victory but then – nooooo!  I’m out of ammunition!  There’s no clean nappies on the shelf!  How can this be?  They we’re washed yesterday, we can’t have used them all already.  I panic and lose my grip on him.  He wriggles away from me, starts to make his getaway, he is smiling, heknows that without the nappy, I am powerless.

Baby R celebrates his win by standing up and clapping himself for being so clever and for outwitting me.  His quest to live a nappy-free life has begun.  I see it in his eyes that he is proud of himself for making such a good plan, I can see his commitment to the plan growing, I will hide the nappies, I will hide the nappies! 

I am secretly proud too, proud of my clever and determined baby, but I know I can’t allow this madness to continue for long.  I collect up the nappies and ready myself for the next showdown.  Let’s hope this phase passes quickly, before the cream carpet becomes the first casualty of our mini-war!

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Have I become a Boden mum?

I admit that I am in the middle of some sort of almost-mid-life crisis. Perhaps it’s because I turned 30 this year. Or because I am an unemployed mum, neither of which I have ever been before. Or because I inadvertently moved to the epicentre of what I like to call the ‘super-mum’ phenomenon; a place where all the other mums have conspired to make it their sole mission to make me feel alienated and inadequate in every possible way. That vibe wears a girl down after a while, and after experiencing a range of emotions from sadness to rage to fully-blown PND to jealousy, I now find myself feeling rather weird. I think I want to be like them.

And so I find myself covertly observing and studying the super-mum species in the style of a 90’s cartoon private detective, watching their every move and admiring their glossy hair and immaculate look. How do they do it I ask myself. The answer to this question, the findings of my research, the holy grail of super-mum-ness, Boden.

Browsing their website it all suddenly becomes clear. Beautiful women, successful looking, well groomed, co-ordinated. I realise I’ve found it, my way in, the secret super-mum bible. I can’t believe it! No wonder they don’t want anything to do with me in my ancient Tesco dresses and the bits of maternity wear I can still get away with. What a fool I’ve been all this time, thinking its acceptable to carry on in this way. My poor baby, my poor poor child, being seen out with me like this. I fill my basket, I hold my breath. I can change. I will change.

But then, something, a little doubt. The women on the website don’t really look that much like me. I haven’t noticed any blobby bits or hairy knees or chipped nail varnish. Hmmm. Actually, now I look closer, none of these women have porridge in their hair or bingo wings. They are posing with children but their lack of sagging stomach makes me think the children didn’t come out of them. Perhaps these amazing clothes won’t actually look that good on my size 18 fat, flabby, pasty and disproportionate frame. Perhaps despite wearing the clothes, the super-mums will still know (I’m just an imposter).

Anyway, away intrusive thoughts. It’s entirely likely through wearing the badge and expressing my devotion to the one true god (Bod?) that I’ll be welcomed with open arms. We’ll laugh together as they tell me their first impressions of me, or the time when they saw my breast pad fall out in the children’s centre, or the time they saw my sitting on my own and crying. Haha we’ll say, what a twat you looked doing all that in your supermarket scruffs.

I am excited for my parcel of clothes to arrive and for my new life to begin. Who knows, now I have spent money on useless disposable bits of fabric that I will probably ruin in the first wash, maybe someone will actually speak to me! Fingers crossed friends, I’ll let you know how it goes!