Ghosts of Christmas Past and Future

xmas

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!  I am taking a break from blogging until January. I need time to  work on expanding my waistline (chocolate!), getting through the pile of books on my bed table, writing a poem a day for the next 30 days (yes, I like my personal challenges and yes, probably 99% of these poems will be haikus) and doodling. 

See ya all in 2014! Have a Merry and Creative Christmas!

Love

BlueBeretMum

Prose for Thought
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Daddy Cool

DoodleBuddydadIt was BlueBeretDad’s birthday a few days ago and I decided to throw him a surprise party.  No, not the one where everyone hides behind curtains and under the tables and scares the hell out of the unsuspecting birthday boy.  More like the one where the unsuspecting birthday boy stumbles into the room after having been up at 3am, 5am and 6am (the baby) and falls over a flock of balloons.  Then as he staggers into the kitchen the fridge door is plastered with his embarrassing photos from school ping pong and chess clubs.  Yes, the kind of surprise where he then yells: “What the hell!” as he slips on the puddle of porridge mixed with mashed banana – Peanut’s favourite parent-trap.

Once he got over the initial shock of the idea of having to socialise with people taller than 80 centimetres and with more complex vocabulary than “Dadada. Mamamama. Baaaah. Whaaaaaaa.”  BlueBeretDad got very excited.  We don’t have guests very often (time, babies, time, babies excuses used by everyone, even by people with no children and a lot of time on their hands) so he decided to make most of it.

Throughout the evening the drinks were flowing, people were sparring ideas (BlueBerets love a good debate), babies were stuffing their faces with sausage rolls and a balloon or two blew in my face.

There were a few dads among the childless hip crowd.  Some dads to be, dads with extensive fatherhood mileage and counting and relative newbies (the “Phew, Bean is 6 months 3 days 5 hours and 25 minutes old and still alive” type).  As I was watching the Dads Club from a corner of my left eye, the corner of my right eye busy registering Peanut disappear into the depths of the recycling box, I started thinking that contrary to the general view of the public, dads don’t have it much easier than mums.

Ok, according to statistics they earn more than us, their careers don’t take a blow when an offspring arrives and, let’s face it, they don’t have to go through the whole pushing out an oversized object while being torn to shreds/ being scalpelled to bits by a sleepy consultant baby delivery process.  But if you think about it for a minute, it is not that much compared to what they miss out on.

Expectant dads get one tenth of attention that their pregnant partner gets.  The whole world revolves around the bump and the carrier.  Been there, done that, dealt with furious BlueBeretDad after he was blanked and snubbed by midwives and health visitors.  The Expectant Dads are supposed to engage with their unborn baby and it must be difficult when all you see is your partner looking more and more like the gym ball she is using to practise for the L- Day.

During labour, an “are we there yet” dad is expected to support through screams and swearing, wipe the sweaty forehead, ignore whatever that thing floating in the birth pool is(no, not the baby, THAT THING), be strong, know better than the committee of midwives and consultants what’s better for his partner and the baby, be enthusiastic about cutting the umbilical cord and forget about hunger, their own bodily functions and the latest Premier League score until their partner (drifting in her own drug- and/or hormone induced bubble) tells him to bugger off because she is exhausted and needs to feed their bundle of joy and catch up on some sleep.

Then it is all about nipples, clogged up milk ducts, random leakages, losing post partum weight, post natal depression, new mums’ support groups, mums’  forums, mums blogs, mum and baby this and mum and baby that.  While the Dad, having discovered that staring into those dark alien eyes is more fun than he ever expected it to be, and having exhausted his few weeks of parental leave, goes back to work.  He tries to focus on spreadsheets and avoid those red buttons that can annihilate the world (only if you press them when you are not supposed to).  Then he goes home and is welcomed by a colicky baby and a partner who has just lost it and has not been out of her gown and in the shower for the last six weeks.  There is no food in the fridge and the cat moved out a long time ago.

And if he is the one doing the stay at home dad thing… Well, then he is still in the category of the weird species that no one knows what to do with.  Not many yummy daddy support groups out there, sitting in cafes and sipping daddy-ccinos.  The majority of baby changing facilities are in female toilets.  Mum’s still the word.

Most stories about absent parents are about absent/ not involved enough/too selfish dads.  However, I have met a lot of people with absent/not involved and too selfish mums.  Maybe it is time to realise that there are rotten apples on both sides of the gender fence and mention that fact more often.

Nope, not easy to be a dad”  I say to myself as I serve BlueBeretDad sauerkraut juice (psst, the best hangover cure in the world but not for wimps) while Peanut tests how many times he has to hammer a coconut against BlueBeretDad’s head before either cracks open.

Trust No One

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It started with Roquefort; the blue – veined monster was out to get me and Peanut, who at that time was still a bump.  The thing is, I love blue cheese and the more it smells like old socks the better.  Yet, I convinced myself that as soon as a microscopic piece touched my mouth, both Peanut and I would explode and cover the living room in bluish, sticky goo. In the end, I dared myself to have some.  BlueberetDad nuked it in the oven on my pizza.  My heart melted with the cheese.
As it happens, I enjoy my Stilton and gorgonzola with a glass or two (ok then…. sometimes three) of red wine.   A few months into the pregnancy, I went out with my three lovely friends aka the groovy book club ladies for a night of gossip and tapas.  The waiter came to take the orders.
Three glasses for the wine?” he asked.
No,  four.”  I said; it was my monthly treat and no one was going to take it away from me.  He put four wine glasses in front of us with a glare that said it all.   My child wasn’t even born and I already was a negligent mother.  Alcoholic, borderline cheesehead.  Whom can Peanut trust if not his own mum to make the right choices?  I saw him grab the umbilical cord and make an urgent call to the Grey Matter.

“Hello.  Mother, this is why I have already failed before I am even out.  Cheers.”

Then there were the medics.  You know which ones, the natural birth with no medication haters everyone loves to criticise.  The incompetent sleep deprived and often unable to utter a word of English bunch who were supposed to deliver my baby.  After scaremongering birth story number 1,234,567 brought to me by media and other well-wishers whose job is to flock around heavily pregnant women, I hid behind the couch with one hand over my ears, the other over my eyes.
The size of the baby I pushed out! Think watermelon but worse. You’ll never be the same.”
Life put our worries aside.  The staff in the birth centre, where Peanut decided to make his first appearance, will always have a special place in our hearts and memories.  They didn’t fall asleep.  They spoke fluent English.  They held my hand when I screamed in their faces to bloody hurry up with that pain relief.  They wiped my face when, in response to gas and air,  I was sick all over the place.
Until you have a child, you don’t realise that the world around you is occupied by coffee tables, cleaning products, bookshelves, loose nuts and bolts and every baby’s favourite , Evil Plastic Bags,  just waiting to injure, bruise and suffocate your offspring.  You move the clutter up the shelving, then you move it back down again when you realise that, even though out of reach, if your inquisitive monkey doesn’t choke on it, it will knock them on the head.  In the end, most of the stuff ends up in charity shops.

We are not at that stage yet but….soon there will come a day when any man not wearing his own children as a protective badge screaming “Hey. I’m not a pervert. I’ve kids too so don’t give me that look when I approach at the playground’s gate”   may be a potential threat.  Then again, stranger is a stranger.  Be it a woman or a man.  They may just like children.  Or find it refreshing to listen to the clink of the little people’s laughter.   Like I do.  But it’s ok because I’m a woman and by default unable to harm anyone, aren’t I?

Starting nursery was a leap of trust for the BlueBerets.  How could we entrust our most precious possession with someone else?  Someone we didn’t know.  Someone we couldn’t spy on when we were at work.  I even considered placing a spy camera in Peanut’s hair.  Then gave up as there just wasn’t enough hair to cover it up.  The first day at nursery I left with my heart jumping out of my throat while Peanut waved happily goodbye and went on to snatch his pal’s building blocks.

The truth is that the overprotective mother in me would lock Peanut up in a bubble wrap plastered room for the next 25 years.  No bruises.  No falls.  No dangers.  No UVA and UVB.  The sensible mother in me says it is not a good idea.  The sensible mother reminds me that I grew up running outside all day, with a latchkey dangling around my neck.  My friends and I ventured to neighbouring housing estates, filled with excitement, adventure and pride.  We were free.  Any grown-up watching our mischief could tell us off and we were scared of them.  Well, I was and it didn’t help that I used to accidentally cycle into them and their shopping bags (took a while to figure out the whole left – right steering and braking mystery). Bad accidents happened and bad people happened.  Teeth were knocked out, and knees and elbows were but one big crusty scab.  We had a blast.

One of the best lessons in assessing risk that I learned was when I decided to swing upside down from a tree branch to impress others.  I miscalculated the distance and bashed my forehead on the pavement and I never made that mistake again.

If I wasn’t allowed to figure out the world for myself I wouldn’t be the person I am today.  A strong person.  A trusting person.   A ”life is full of great opportunities so grab them” kind of person.

I hope Peanut will be like that too.  The BlueberetMum and Dad will trust him to make his own mistakes.

We will trust.

Trust but verify.

Baby Economics or How To Survive the New Budget

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With the Chancellor soon picking up his favourite red satchel to match his flushed cheeks that he got from having been digging deeper and deeper and sinking this country further and further into the sea of misery I, the self –proclaimed self-chatterer, have been asking myself over and over again: oh dear oh dear, come on Georgie, how much worse can it get? Quadruple abyss recession? How are we, the BlueBeretFamily, going to feed our young?

Let’s face it. Times are tough and it is not going to get any better any time soon if you listen to all the media prophets.  However, as they say recession is the mother of invention and the only way to start digging our way out of this budgetary gap is to get creative.   To think outside the stack of boxes we will all soon be living in if the childcare and living costs increase by even a penny.

Ever since BlueBeretDad and I made the so called “lifestyle” choice and acquired a lively model for a baby, instead of a Jaguar or a property in some foreign up and coming country or a designer pooch, we have been staring into the crystal ball to read our financial future and all we can see is a sinister pitch-black void.  To add to our economic demise, Peanut has started the nursery which is lovely and costs us more than buying a small developing country on Ebay (not that I would ever want to do THAT).

But things are not as bad as they could have been. Have we had fallen under the spell of evil advertising executives right now the three of us would be squeezing into Peanut’s latest city super light super fast super chic baby jogger parked underneath the nearest bridge. Pulling down the rain cover and rubbing our blue-ish hands we would remind ourselves how we used to live in a lovely pastel coloured world where everything was so soft, and handmade and carefully designed with only Peanut in mind.  And then BlueBeretDad would remind us how one day the evil bank people came and took the pastel colours and the beautifully handmade baby bits and bobs and how we managed to just escape in the jogger and this is why we are now living in a barren concrete wasteland warming our hands over the burning credit card statements.

 No, thank god Saint Pound, the patron of the Thrifty Nifty, we knew better than that. Or maybe our plastic cards didn’t stretch that much.  And so after months of experience of that whole parenting stuff here is the final version of the BlueBeretFamily’s Baby on the Budget Survival Guide:

  1. Baby clothes – whenever you find yourself tempted by the soft and organic cotton sailor suit hand sewn by fairy godmothers in a Parisian atelier ask yourself the following question: what is the difference between a lovely soft designer baby sailor suit covered in sick and a cheap and cheerful Three for Two baby gro with sick on? There is your answer. If this wasn’t enough to stop you from waving your purse left, right and centre enough, the offspring grows faster than you can say “Baby ate my last credit card statement.” So next time you struggle to exorcise the temptation imagine the same exquisite garment after you have washed it 500 times in three pukey days. Yes, you are right. It will look like something you have pulled out of the depths of your designer pooch’s mouth. With sick on. And by the way, you are not setting your Beans up for failure only because you dress them in hand me downs. Good for the environment and the bankers will hate you. We need more of that.

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  1. Toys – if an average mini Einstein has a choice between:

A)   Brand new toys designed by a committee of educational psychologists, tested on carefully selected focus group of the brightest mini humans and mass produced by the seven dwarves, and

B)   A recycling box full of cardboard, plastic bottles and other crap

What do you think he will choose to play with for hours and hours? 

The first objects Peanut speed-crawls towards as soon as he enters the kitchen are:

  • the recycling boxes
  • the Tupperware drawer
  • the bin

Who  needs a fancy soft play when all you have t do is to call your council, get the recycling going and there you have the best free entertainment for your young one because nothing compares to being able to chew piece of cardboard or two.

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Also, if anyone is very sensitive about the whole “every time you put on TV it sucks out all the intelligence out of your child’s brain so if they later on fail in life, you know who’s to blame” debate put the washing machine on. Put your child in front of the washing machine. Put your feet up and catch up on the last three seasons of Made in Chelsea. I know, I too hate to admit that with all my degrees and passion for high literature and art and classical music, I am a sucker for the “I’m posh and  have nothing to say but I wear nice clothes so why not be famous “ reality TV show (but that is a different story altogether). Guilt-free pleasure for you, the humanoid is learning a lesson for life: staring at the washing machine won’t make it finish faster but it can make you feel seasick.

  1. Food – if you breastfeed for the first six months (my case) are cheap.  Then when you move on to solids you quickly realise that there is a wide range of new qualifications you can add to boost your CV and therefore start a new career(and potentially earn some cash):

–          Nutritionist – within weeks I have become an expert in mapping out the protein to carbs to fat to veg and fruit ratios.  I have been scribbling down menus and personally delivering the right amount of iron to Peanut’s brain daily so that he can get that Nobel Prize one day. Or at least finish the secondary school and learn to drive so that I don’t have to.  I know my good ‘no sugar’ added fromage frais from the bad one loaded with the evil S stuff. No salt. No E-numbers. Full fat only.

–          Gourmet Michelin star chef – I know the drill. Babies have more taste buds than we do. Hence they are fussy. Maybe I would be too if I could detect more in my food than just sweet, salty and aw bloody spicy. I chop, I puree, bake and mash. All organic and only the best of the best. And the best of the best of the best comes at a price and a high one (especially if you are on the very generous statutory maternity pay).  Squeezed in the middle to the point of breathlessness, I have recently discovered that you get and eat what you pay for does not apply to foods, like potatoes and carrots and other root vegetables. Or pasta. Or rice. Or breadsticks (just watch that salt content). But coming back to the humble potato. So much choice – normal or sweet. Gigantic or miniscule. And it goes with pretty much anything. You can mash it, boil it, steam it, sauté it, roast it… Trust me, this comes from a woman who grew up in times when Jamie Olivier wasn’t even planned and the BlueBeretGrandParents in the Beetrootland had only one kitchen bible entitled “1000 Potato Recipes”. Can you imagine a cook book with no pictures in it?  Horror oh horror, based on the Potato’s success a sequels called “999 Buckwheat Recipes” was released.  Another national bestseller and curse of all eight year olds (the perks of growing up during the communist regime).

The moral of this story is loosen your belt, breathe out and don’t beat yourself up if your Peanut has a non-organic meal or if you are tempted to splash out on that magic fairy powder that all baby meals have to be sprinkled with otherwise your child  will never succeed in life. Chances are they will like the modest potato and cool cod with pulp peas more than the baby soufflé you were perfecting last night.

  1. Baby gear – Peanut’s buggy is so two seasons ago. I know, shocking. When I was in the haze of attending the pre-natal classes I was sucked into long debates over the superiority of the Peach iCandy over the Strawberry and I lost the will to live.  Then I joined the buggynonymous guerrilla group and ordered online a very so-unfashionable-it –is –not even –worth-a – smirk model. Came with a car seat and cost £99.90 with delivery. Toot toot.  So far for the last 10 months or so it has been through daily trudging over cobblestones, uneven pavements, bouncing up and down thousands of steps and bumping into innocent lampposts and annoying passersby (very useful to use as a mini-tank to get people out of your way during the Festival) . The best thing of all, the day its wheels fall off and the basket collapses under the weight of all those potatoes I will know that we got what we paid for and much more.

The same rule applies to bouncy chairs, high chairs, changing mats, anything else that big brands try to make you feel bad about if you don’t get it for the Bub pronto. Put on the Frugality & Reality Goggles because a few months down the line you will wish you had gone for the cheap and simple plastic high chair which tomato sauce can be wiped off, not dry – cleaned.

  1. Other ways of saving money – the good thing about having a baby is that for the next 20 years or so you surrender all your money – chomping hobbies like going out, clothes shopping, putting on make –up (even if you keep up with the makeup routine and applaud if you do, chances are most days you leave the house with only half of your face done which means your face-paint tubes and pots will last twice as long. Unless the baby gets there first) and join the I’m Leaving the House in My Pyjamas ‘n Proud of It club… On the other hand you can expect the wine and chocolate expenses to go up as well as your weight… That is normal.  Extra fat will keep you warm which will make the heating bills lower so a win win for all (apart from the evil gas companies).

        So Georgie show us what surprises you have for us this year.  The BlueBerets are ready.

How are you getting on in this dreich economic weather? Share the penny-pinching stories 🙂

 

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4.33am  Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

4.34am  “Maybe he will go back to sleep”  – mumbles an unidentified deep voice from underneath the duvet

4.35am  WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

4.36am  No he won’t.  I emerge from the cosy depths of the king size bed.  Argh

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

4.38am  I reappear in bed with Peanut clinging on to me.  Right.  Let’s move on swiftly from that minor glitch and go back to sleep.   As I dive underneath the covers, Peanut grumbles and mumbles and holds on to BlueBeretDad’s armpit hair for dear life.

Sometime between 4.39am  and 6.33am – Peanut sticks one finger into my left nostril and pulls out a handful of my hair.  I put an arm over my face to protect it from the ferocious attacks of a not-so-sleepy-anymore baby which makes Peanut re-think his strategy and pull the skin on my neck instead, pinch my arm and put his whole hand into my mouth to carefully inspect one tooth after another.  In silent protest I roll away and push Peanut over towards BlueBeretDad who has been snoring blissfully for the last hour or so.  After yet another spell of fierce inspection from the Peanut front (this time he is digging into my ear) I move away a little bit more and there I find myself with my right leg, buttock and arm dangling off the edge of the bed.  I swear I have managed not to tumble down by sheer will power and nothing else.  Then the numb and cold half of my body almost melts away when I see Peanut snuggle his head into the den of BlueBeretDad’s armpit and suck the dummy to the rhythm of his Dad’s Great Snore Libretto.

6.33am I finally succumb to gravity as the alarm goes off.  Here we go – yet another day ahead of me and I have already hit, literally, rock bottom.

Sometime between 6.33am and 8am  Get up.  Kitchen and breakfast.  I struggle to slice the mango fast enough to the orders of our little Emperor banging his plastic throne in the corner.  Fresh mango, porridge with blueberries, and a piece of toast – Peanut.  A dry piece of toast and cold mug of tea – me.  We get dressed. We brush our teeth.  When I stare into the square eyes wincing back at me in the mirror a funny thought crosses my mind.  Something is not right.  No, not Peanut. He is happily (and not without success) trying to tear down the house before we head off to the nursery.  No, it’s something else.  Something in my mouth.  On my teeth.  The toothpaste is off.  When I check the tube and my eyes go from square to round and square again.  For the last three minutes of blank staring into the void I have been brushing my teeth with Bepenathen Nappy Cream.  Mental note to self – don’t keep that stuff next to your toothpaste as it is impossible to get off your teeth. And it doesn’t taste good.

8.03am Bye Bye bye Dadada.  Only 3 minutes behind the schedule Peanut and I set off to trek across the sleepy streets of Edinburgh, traffic – clogged roads, wheeling into flocks of office people who are clearly before that first coffee, and up Mount Everest aka the Mound.  Time flies by as I assume a half horizontal position, the wheels on the bus go round and round runs the broken record in my head and up we go.  Clickety clack clickety clack.  As usual, I consider taking off layers of vests and jumpers in public as the first wave of sweat flushes my back. So much for the fresh straight out of the shower smell.

9am  Peanut happily installed in the nursery. I manage to spill only half of my coffee all over myself as I slump in front of my desk and off we go. Pear pear. Banana. Banana. Avocado. Avocado. Kiiiiiwi.  Note to self – stop listening to the Baby Music CD. It has infiltrated your subconscious and people are looking.

9am – 5pm  Work.  Work.  Work some more.  Half way through the day I consider crawling underneath the desk and hiding behind a stash of spare photocopy paper. Decide against it when I realise the only sleeping position I could assume would be on all fours with my bum up in the air, pointing strategically towards the door.  Having ruled out that option I go back to the spreadsheets.

6pm  With BlueBeretDad away on business and unable to come to the rescue I drag the buggy up the narrow staircase all the 1001 steps (no, not really that many – only 999 steps).  As soon as we reach the flat I start crawling around the place to set up Peanut’s bath. Peanut crawls after me. Good. A tired baby equals a sleepy baby. Toot!

7.30pm  On My Still To Do List: Tidy up those bloody toys strewn across the living room I remind myself as I pull out Sophie The Giraffe from underneath my slumped body. Squeak.

7.35pm  The couch has swallowed me and refuses to spit out the remains.

7.38pm The TV is on but it all seems to be in gibberish. More gibberish.  Oh look, even more gibberish.

9pm  Finally I enter the kitchen to attack the heap of filthy plates, mini Tupperware boxes, wee plastic spoons, pots, pans and four sad looking dummies that I retrieved from the washing machine and the recycling boxes.

11pm  Done. Both lunch, dinner and breakfast for Peanut prepared and packed. The floor has seen better days but it will have to do for now.  Can it?  Bugger. Forgot to eat. One glance at the fridge, another at the clock. A sneaky peak into Peanut’s lunch box later, my stomach is not a half empty type anymore.

11.05pm  As I creep out of the kitchen and into the bed the clock shows me the finger.

11.09pm  Teeth. Forgot to brush my teeth.  My only remaining brain cell registers that BlueBeretDad is only back tomorrow.  Tomorrow.  Is.  Another.  Day.
P.S. Dear feminists and other politically active fellow women.  Please don’t misunderstand me as I am very grateful for the opportunities I have had in life that I wouldn’t have had if the suffragettes hadn’t left a long line of bite marks in a poor uncle Bobby’s arms.  You have fought for the gift of education, gender equality and equal opportunities for your fellow sisters and I will never forget that.  Yet, I cannot shake off the feeling (it sticks like a nappy cream on my teeth) that in the stampede to buy into Feminism we all failed to notice that we, the women folk, have been slightly short-changed.  With equality and rights and careers came double responsibilities.  Double guilt.  Double amount of dishes and laundry.  Half a job. Half a motherhood combined with being half a partner/wife/girlfriend.  Worse.  Forgetting when the last time was you spoke to your endangered Other Half as they disappeared behind that pile of laundry a few months ago and haven’t re-emerged yet.
As they say “There ain’t no such thing as a calm and content working mother.” Unless you can convince me otherwise.

My Seven Deadly Sins of Motherhood

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With Mother’s Day looming around the corner and I decided it was time for some reflection as a first time mum of a 10 month old pint-sized humanoid.  Over the last year I have been making a lot of promises and have been breaking all of them, one by one.  Here are my personal seven deadly sins of motherhood:

  1. The broken promise of “I swear I will never …” – When I was pregnant I promised myself and everyone else that I would never in million years indulge in any chats about poo.  Ever since Peanut was born I have been happily living in self denial weaving My Baby’s Poo is the Most Fascinating Phenomenon in the Whole Wide World and Beyond into long tales that have been driving my childless friends up the wall and beyond.  I talk about the colour. The consistency.  I even invented a game which consists of blindfolding BlueBeretDad and making him sniff out What Peanut Had For Tea. A warning – this game is for baby poo connoisseurs only (for the last 10 months chicken korma has been off the menu in the BlueBeret household!).
  2. The sin of 10 seconds rule – the rule applies to Peanut and his food, spoons and bowls.  I get it I get it – the germs, the high chair table manners and I cared a lot for the first 2,376,987 times I was picking up the veg sticks, the spoons, the bowl to wash them, give them back to Peanut only to pick them up off the floor 5 seconds later to my mini tyrant’s grunts and orders.  Now I am a firm believer in boosting my offspring’s immune system and saving the water.
  3. Even when I was still breastfeeding I had this beautiful image in my hormone possessed mind: I swoon around the kitchen on cloud nine in an immaculate Cath Kidston apron peeling, chopping, cooking up a storm of super healthy, super organic baby food while Peanut hovers above the ground in his designer high chair and makes appreciative noises eating his soufflé and munching of organic carrots dipped in organic hummus.  The floor sparkles. The groceries are delivered by unicorns every morning.  Then the cloud dissolves underneath me and I swear under my breath as my foot is glued to last morning’s porridge (why is baby cereal made of glue by the way?), my stained apron is hanging on me in tatters and Peanut has been catapulting his readymade tomato sauce on the wall behind him for the last 15 minutes.  What happened to the lovely reality you may ask my reader. Life happened.
  4. Thou shall not use disposable nappies – in my serious life I care about the environment, I get very upset about BlueBeretDad being in the shower for longer than 30 seconds and I have memorised the Dos and Don’ts for my recycling boxes.  I was very determined to use the real nappies. I even had nightmares about our planet pointing its angry smog covered finger at me before letting go of its last breath. Then I had second thoughts. I thought about my mum washing real “real” nappies every day (sometimes twice a day if me and then my younger brother had more than just chicken korma in our pants), then boiling them, hanging them out and then starting again. I thought about having the washing machine on pretty much non – stop. And I thought about the exhaustion I would be fighting every day, barely managing to brush my teeth, let alone worrying about leaking nappies.  I know times have moved on and it shouldn’t be difficult to use the eco nappies but I let the guilt wash over me as I cut down the adult shower time to 3 minutes and 3 seconds (if you are using a hair conditioner, otherwise 2 minutes and 1 second are enough).
  5. Thou shall not let you child watch TV or use the laptop or your smart phone EVER  –  “I am sorry, so sorry, Peanut. I am turning your brain into a mush full of nonsense” I say as I turn on the CBeebies and let Peanut work hard on covering the screen of my phone with his snot.  “I am sorry but mummy needs 9 minutes and 29 seconds to put on her makeup “.  I have timed it – I live my life in time slots, especially in the mornings.  “Mummy has to cover up the last year of no sleep with some concealer, powder and blush and a bit more concealer. Just a bit more. That’s better”.
  6. Thou shall not have sugar EVER – “Sugar is heroin “ I explained to BlueBeret grandma as she sheepishly suggested Peanut may want to try chocolate before he reaches the retirement age. No wonder I am the person I am since we were always eating cakes. In fact, I spent the first few years of my life consuming mainly bread with honey and cake.  So one day a child at the nursery turned one and the parents brought the cake in. Then, horror oh horror, Peanut was allowed to try a bit. When I found out I was mortified. What have they done to my boy?  And then I calmed down – that evil tiny weenie bit of cake he had with all the other kids did not turn him into a juvenile baby junkie rummaging our cupboards at night to get his fix.  Nothing has changed. And Peanut had great time stuffing his face with everyone else’s pieces of cake. So I might review that rule in 16 years from now.
  7. Thou shall be the perfect mother – no I won’t.  I grin to myself as I commit this sin deliberately.  I don’t believe in perfect anything, let alone motherhood. Sorry Peanut, I refuse to be the perfect mother for you but I promise to be the best I can be even if it means committing additional seven sins of motherhood.  And as you laugh out loud each morning when you wake up and see me and BleuBeretDad staring into your face I can’t help but think that I must be doing something right.

What are your seven deadly sins of motherhood? Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

Om Om Baby

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Monkeys in my brain bouncing about and punching the life out of my frontal lobes, watch out!  Today is the day of some serious headspacing. I used to be an avid yoga practitioner in my pre-Peanut life and I loved the way it made me feel and how I could boast to others about the amazing flexibility of my limbs (not really what yoga is supposed to be about, however, there is nothing wrong with a healthy dose of arrogance and narcissism every now and then).

BlueBeretDad knows I do yoga and ignores that  fact – he is a devoted football fan and an obsessive runner.  I have spent the last few years preaching about the suppleness of my joints and my calm mind (this argument causes him to smirk until he chokes and spits out whatever beverage he is drinking at the time) and have to yet challenge him on the mat. But there is one thing BlueBeretDad does not know – I started meditating. Seriously.  Every day, which means as much as I can, which is not much and still better than nothing. And don’t ask me why I keep it a secret. Maybe because I feel embarrassed about the need to connect with my higher self.  Maybe I worry he will laugh at me as I announce how I want to live my life with no dogmatic mumbo jumbo in any shape or form and then go to follow the “More Meditation for the Nation” guerrilla movement. Nah.  My higher self whispers into my ear that it is nice to have something that only you know about – not a lie, but a wee secret. So up until now, this was my dirty little secret – I meditate.   And here is how it normally goes in my world when I decide that I need to put the monkeys to bed every now and then.

Breathe in and out, in and out. Now gently close your eyes and scan your body.  Just relax. Yeah, well, I still have half an eye open as at Peanut is trying very successfully to electrocute himself.  As I reach out to disconnect him from the socket I breathe out. So, keep your 1.5 eye open and scan your body.  Ouch – I am very mindful of Peanut pulling my hair out.  Judging by the amount he has removed from my scalp he must be running a wig making business behind our backs.

“Oooom  omom” the monkeys in my head are slowing down.  Slowing.  Down.

“Dadadadadadada” says Peanut.

“Om o mom” the monkeys are becoming comatose.

“Mamamamamamama” the monkeys jump up and use my anterior insular cortex as a punch bag while my mini cannibal is sinking his mini razors – for – milk teeth into my arm. Very mindful of my maternal love I wonder if my next career move should be designing and mass producing baby muzzles.

It takes one more Om for me to decide to open my both eyes and finish the relaxation just in time to fish Peanut out of the toilet bowl.

My next attempt at stopping the wild kicking about in my head is to do some yoga.  One leg up wrapped around my neck, Peanut decides to climb up my grounded limb to dangle off my bum (grim sagging case, I know).   I stop before my self esteem crumbles down and fold myself into the lotus position to read Mr Fox has Lost his Socks for the 1,347,862th time.

You may say, what a pointless exercise but I disagree with you as later that evening I serve BlueBeretDad dinner with one arm, one of my legs resting comfortably in the tree pose, hold Peanut in my other arm, balance a pint of compulsory lager on the top of my head, sort out the laundry with the toes of my foot on the ground and smile sweetly as the monkeys in my head load their Kalashnikovs.

Mummy’s Gone

Tonight is the night. I am actually going out for the first time in nine months, two weeks and three days.  By going out I mean:

  • no Peanut
  • no schlepping around a supply of nappies and a gigantic changing bag
  • wearing very insensible shoes
  •  wearing an outfit without having to ask myself first: “How easy is it going to be to   get my boob out and shove it into Peanut’s mouth?”

As I am standing at the door saying goodbyes BlueBeretDad is giving Peanut a bath.  Actually, judging by the amount of foam and water over the Big Man it is the other way round.

“So, are you sure you are ok? Remember to put on the big nappy for the night. Big nappy.  The other ones leak.”

“I know” says BlueBeretDad.

“And try to keep him awake for another 15 minutes or he will be up at five.  Do you think you can manage?”

“Fine.”

“Bye bye bye bye”  Peanut does the two-handed version of the royal wave and I lock the door behind me.

As I walk towards the restaurant to meet my book club chums I wonder whether this time we are actually going to discuss the book.  Hope not as I haven’t read mine – Peanut ate my book is my excuse tonight.  A few visions of Peanut accidentally drowning in the bath and BlueBeretDad accidentally climbing into the toilet (or was it the other way round?) later I wave at my fellow book – clubbers.  In my pocket the mobile starts vibrating to the familiar Psycho tune.

“Hello?”

“Hi it’s me. Is the milk supposed to be 28 degrees?” my Other Half says.

“What? I don’t know.”

“Whaaaaaaaahawhahahwha”

“What?” I say.

“The milk. Too hot. How do I know it is not too hot before he drinks it?”

“Two ways – one is to drink a bit of it. Or give it to Peanut and see what happens – don’t recommend it. “ I say.

“What?”

“Whaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaawhawhahwahwah” Patrick expresses his view on the problem.

“Nevermind.  Do you want me to come back?”

“No.  Have fun.  Bye”

The last one to arrive I sink my butt onto the comfy chair and let out a heavy sigh.  But before I manage to say “I need a drink” the mobile starts jumping around the table “Yeah, I know, that psychotic Psycho ringtone.  Now that I have a child I will change it.”

BlueBeretDad on the line:

“His sleeping bag is not in his cot.”

“Right.  Did you check in our bed?”

“No” the floor creaks and I realise that I can tell exactly where he is.

“Found it.  Ok.  Have fun.”

“Bye” He is gone.

Five margaritas later I stumble back home.  Had a great time with the girls and no, we never got round to discussing the book.  As I slowly climb the stairs to our flat I start thinking about things that I used to do and never really appreciated until Peanut came along:

  1. Painting my nails – now it is a military operation planned six months in advance.  Very risky no matter how well I map out the strategy.  Have already ended up with Peanut’s fingerprints on my otherwise “immaculate” nail varnish a few times.  Well, 16 years to go…
  2. General de-fuzzing  – could previously take hours contemplating every millimetre of my calves and making sure every hair follicle was annihilated.  Now it is a supersonic job – roughly five seconds per leg done while Peanut alternates between trying to force the shower door open while I keep on blocking it with my free elbow  and /or knee and trying to stick his hand, head and the rest of his tiny body into the toilet bowl.  More often than not my “used to be so smooth” legs are covered in fuzzy islands.  I’m so glad I live in Scotland as chances of me getting out with bare legs in the next 10 years are 0.1%.
  3. Having a hot drink/soup/anything even close to lukewarm.
  4. Writing emails undisturbed by Peanut banging furiously on my keyboard and therewith   activating stuff on my laptop I had no idea existed.
  5. Reading a book/newspaper without anyone trying to eat half of it.
  6. Having a shower on my own.
  7. Being in the toilet on my own without a mini human being finding whatever business is going on there so hilarious he has to take a closer look.
  8. Having an uninterrupted conversation with another adult.
  9. Sleep.  Sleep.  Sleep.
  10. Wearing black cloths without a risk of them being covered in snot, spit and stains (mainly food) within two seconds of me putting them on.  I am the ultimate yummy mummy, ask the Edinburgh seagulls.
  11. Did I mention sleep?  Sleep in any position possible.  Anywhere.  Just sleep.

Things on this list that I was extremely bothered about in my pre-Peanut life: all of the above.

Before I wobble, fall over and fall asleep on the floor in the hallway I hear BlueBeretDad’s big snore followed by a mini snore coming from the nursery.

Things on this list that I am extremely bothered about now that Peanut is here: none.