Why I fucking love the NHS.

*trigger warning* babies and labour and mental health and all that shit

Nye Bevan Quotes Nye Bevan on sick people and the welfare state

Nye; what a guy.

When I got pregnant I didn’t have to worry about the cost of antenatal care.

When my baby was 12 days late I didn’t have to think about how much being induced would cost.

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So much baby… like, just so much.

Continue reading

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Who is Mothers Day for?

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The mothers who miss their mothers
The children who want their mums
Those who live in hope of a positive test result
Those from whom that hope has hardened and become brittle
Mothers who feel their love trapped under layers of clawing anxiety
Children who never felt that maternal warmth that every story promised
Those exhausted, in tears, with a baby at their breast
Those whose stomach churns with guilt as they count scoops into a bottle
Those who fantasise about escape
Those who long for the embrace of their own child
Those who never gave birth but are mothers still
Those for whom this day is steeped in grief and the gaping spaces left empty by loss
Those who feel adored and appreciated
Those who wade through today unthanked
The women who have been mothers to many, but never called ‘mum’
Those who are joyous, wrapped in the warmth of familial love
Those who wish they could feel the ‘happiness’ of this Mothers Day, but can’t
Every woman who knows what it is to nurture and fret and stay
This day is yours.

Sometimes our best is a bit shit…

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Sometimes I time everything wrong.

Tonight I let my boy eat the chocolate someone at nursery gave him at 6pm, we pissed about in the garden til gone 7, I let him watch TV until almost 8 in the secret hope that he would fall asleep on the sofa and the evening would be mine. He did not fall asleep on the sofa.

Instead, he is a ball of angry toddler at the bottom of the stairs. He’s refusing to come up to the lovely bubbly bath I’ve run for him.

It’s got your favourite toys. I say. Let’s have a nice bath time. We can play dinosaurs.

My tone is getting pinched and I’m counting to 10 in my head. It’s not working.

With threats and coaxing I get him up the stairs. He is beside himself. He wants his daddy. He doesn’t want a bath. He wants me to put his pyjamas on without going to get them, which would mean ‘leaving him’. He is all exhaustion and melodrama.

I am hungry.

By the time we make it to his room he is curled up in a ball. Tonight he’s not playing any games. When I try to manoeuvre him from a crooked position on a rocking stool to the bed he screams like I’m about to administer some form of medieval torture.

I just can’t.

I wrestle his pull-up on and let him go back to his crumpled position on the chair. It’s a foot from his perfectly good bed. But I just can’t.

I tell him I going downstairs and will check on him soon, because I can feel that other me rising up. The one who snaps and yells at a tired three year old. The one I only show to the littlest, best person in my world.

And it’s there he falls asleep. In the chair. No bath, no stories, no songs. Not even the chocolate brushed off his teeth. I put him into his bed and lather cream on a few spots I’m supposed to have washed in the-bath-that-was-not. And I feel glad that at least I got him into his pull-up.

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Tonight, this was the best I could do. Sometimes our best is just a bit shit…

Still not enjoying it? That’s still okay.

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Being a mum… Bleurgh.

That’s right, I’m back bitches, and how better to burst back onto the blogging scene after three months in the wilderness than a good old honest post about how much parenting blows sometimes. (I agonised over whether to add the sometimes to the end of that sentence, right now I feel like it’s most times)

Approximately two and half years ago (!) I wrote a post called ‘Not enjoying it? That’s okay.’ It was all about how when you have a newborn loads of parents with older kids say crap like “cherish this time, it goes so fast” and you smile and nod in a way that implies that you’re finding ‘this time’ truly precious, whilst internally you’re screaming “I FUCKING HOPE IT GOES FAST! GET THIS CREATURE OFF MY BOOB AND LET ME SLEEP FFS!” Or something along those lines…

So that post was all about how it’s okay to not enjoy parenthood from the outset cos it’s bloody hard and you’re sleep deprived and all that. It was an attempt at reassuring those many millions of humans out there who think they should be feeling things they just aren’t feeling. Well, I’m here to tell you, my ‘Bubs’ just turned three years old and I’m still not enjoying it as much as I think I should be. True story.

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I made this chart a while ago, on reflection I think 25% was probably quite generous.

Some context: Dear Reader, you know when you feel like you’ve got your shit together and life decides to give you a good hard throat punch? Without going into any detail (this ain’t that kind of blog) this year my particular throat punch has resulted in becoming unexpectedly single after ten years, and consequently becoming a single mum. Now, things aren’t that bad; we share childcare fairly evenly and in many ways I’m happier than I’ve been in years. But still, FML. My life admin requirements have soared in recent months and, I’m not sure if it’s a direct correlation but enjoyment of parenthood has somewhat plateaued. #understatement

“I love my son… I’m a frickin’ lioness of a mother.”

Let’s get something straight from the start: I love my son. I love him fiercely. I’m a frickin’ lioness of a mother. And I like him, he’s a frickin’ joker. Sometimes we cuddle up on the sofa and watch a film and I’m all loved up. On the other hand, I like him a bit less when he comes up to me just as I’m trying to show the gas man how to read our electric metre and says, with a gleeful look in his eye, “I did a wee on the sofa”. But you know what I mean.

He’s a great kid, I wouldn’t swap him for any other kid (except maybe my friends little girl who hoovers up after herself, that is the dream). But loving my son is a very different thing from enjoying doing all the shit that comes with parenthood and sometimes, more frequently in recent months, I just don’t enjoy it. I don’t, and I don’t care who knows.

Being a parent is hard. And doing it alone is hard. Even if you’re in a partnership you can feel like you’re being stretched too thin, like you’re fraying at the seams with all the different directions you have to push your mind in. Money, work, family, friends, children, children, children, children, children…

Recently the classic “I’m a bad mother” thoughts have begun to enter my head. Why? Because whilst I’m bathing, reading stories (and doing all the voices) and singing lullabies to my happy, healthy son I’m longing to be downstairs with a Pinot Grigio. Because occasionally I get so wound up that I raise my voice a bit too loud at an unnecessary moment. Because, basically I am a human with flaws that I sometimes let my child see.

Big. Fucking. Deal.

“Most of us are fumbling around, just doing our best not to completely fuck our kids up.”

The problem isn’t really any of that stuff; it’s my feelings about that stuff. I know that some people genuinely do love being a parent; it’s their vocation and for one reason or another they just take to it. But most of us are fumbling around, just doing our best not to completely fuck our kids up. We are loving them fiercely and trying hard but also occasionally wishing that this wasn’t our lives. Right? You can admit it, Dear Reader, this is a safe space.

Every now and then I have a momentary thought that I just want out. Out of this motherhood malarky. I can’t cope. I’m shit at it. Let me out!

The consequence of this split second thought is utter, corrosive guilt. It’s as if that very thought proves I am simply not qualified for parenthood. How could any loving parent think such thoughts? Am I the actual worst?

The answer, of course, is no. Those thoughts (and I think it’s safe to assume I’m not the only one who has them) aren’t directed at our children, but at our lives in general, at the relentlessness of it all and the fact that, in that moment, we really can’t deal with a small person shouting ‘I hate you’ in our faces. We just need some sleep. And some fun. Leave us alone! 

“There is literally no thought that can make you a bad parent. None.”

The thing – as this is a big one so listen up – there is literally no thought that can make you a bad parent. None.

It’s very hard to define what a ‘good parent’ is, but we could all list the traits of an objectively bad one: neglectful, demeaning, abusive. We are not those parents. We are simply not.

Because, whilst you may be thinking “someone get me the fuck out of here I can’t watch another fucking episode of In the fucking Night Garden” you are also making your child something to eat, playing whatever strange game is the order of the day and, yes, letting them watch CBeebies for a bit so you can clean up their mess/check your email/drink a cup of tea. You are making sure there is enough money so they can eat and be clothed and have stuff. You are probably doing a thousand things besides this, with very little credit for any of it. Women, especially I think, are just expected to do all this, you not gonna get a medal for motherhood, though it’s the hardest, longest serving job you’ll ever have. And on top of that, there’s some weird unspoken thing that requires you to ‘love every minute of it’.

Fuck that.

“The real wonder is that we enjoy it at all!”

When you think about it in that way, the real wonder is that we enjoy it at all! These small people are unfathomable and unreasonable in the extreme, but we love them fiercely. And they make us laugh. And sometimes it’s really really nice. Like, the nicest thing ever. In the whole world. But sometimes the nice moments seem rarer and the tense clock-watching-til-bedtime moments feels much more dominant. We’re tired and often lonely and we can’t love every minute, or even most minutes, however much we love our kids.

Well, all I can say is, that’s okay. And it’s bloody normal!

Isn’t it?

 

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Do you also not always feel completely in love with the whole parenting thing? Please share! The comment section is waiting for your outpouring of FMLs!

You can also tweet me or show me some Facebook love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Archers Aftermath: 13 questions we’re all asking

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Well, that’s it, despite my FOURTEEN suggestions of satisfying, Archers appropriate deaths for Rob Titchener that didn’t a) traumatise Henry or b) turn Helen into a stabby attempted-murderer, they’ve done both. Bloody BOTH. Not only this, but in the aftermath there has been literally nothing hopeful, apart from the odd magical appearance of Anna Tregoran (#TFITregoran). We’re all counting on you Anna!

Nope, instead of a nice, humiliating, satisfying end to Titchynob (as he’s affectionately known on Twitter) we have a horrible, bloody mess. And, frankly, more questions than answers. So here they are, or a few of them anyway, for the purposes of my own catharsis and your reading pleasure: 13 questions we’re all asking about The Archers. Continue reading

Of home births and hero worship.

Recently, it’s really struck me how we all (or at least those of us who spend too much time googling shit and carry around an abundance of middle class guilt) aspire to a certain kind of birth. Pain-relief free, in a birthing-pool and, ideally, at home. The natural way.

(Incidentally, this line of thinking partly started because of the whole Helen-home-birth storyline on the Archers, which has since paled into insignificance).

Before I go any further I should say – if you did give birth at home, then props to you. I ain’t no hater.

But I do feel like women who manage to do it all ‘naturally’ receive a particular, celebrated status. They are sometimes talked about in a way that I rarely hear women who had assisted births being described. “Such a hero”, “amaaazing” etc.  And I don’t think that status serves anyone. Because, for one thing, it dictates how you should feel about your labour. At home with no pain-relief? You should feel good! In hospital with an epidural and some ‘assistance’. Bad. Obvs. Continue reading

14 satisfying, Archers-appropriate ends for Rob Titchener…

Well, we all really hate Rob Titchener, don’t we? The Rob and Helen saga  has hit somewhat of a nerve among those who are used to tuning in to Radio 4 for 15 minutes of conversations about curtains for the church hall and the reassuring sound of lowing cattle.

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Helen and Rob: it’s not okay

We’re all sensible, grown-up people (sort of), and really we want to see justice served. Rob should be exposed and held to account, preferably with a good helping of public humiliation thrown in. I’d like to see (hear) him shoved forcefully into the back of a police car by Harrison Burns during some sort of village green shindig, just so the whole of Ambridge can get a good view… and maybe throw a few pastured eggs while they’re at it. (my money’s on Rob for the hen house arson, by the way, for no other reason than him being a complete dick).

But we don’t want a trial on the Archers do we? It isn’t Brookside for goodness sake. No, we either want that all to happen in the background, and then for Helen to happily announce that “Rob’s got a 40-year combined sentence” (for fraud, coersive control, rape, sabotage, assault etc) in a few months time. Or… Well, we’d like him to die. Wouldn’t we? Continue reading

7 reasons we all hate Waybuloo, don’t we?

As my regular readers may know, I am big fan of using television as a parenting assistant, especially CBeebies. Bubs knows that ‘scissors are sharp’ because Mr Maker told him so. He also knows the difference between a stegosaurus and a triceratops, all thanks to Andy and his dinosaur adventures.

 I  like to take the piss out of In The Night Garden, and make valid/hilarious points about general gender stereotypes, but I hope CBeebies know just how I treasure their existence!

I can pretty much tolerate all of the programmes too. I mean, I’ll take a Hey Dugee or Dip Dap (best thing on TV) over an ep of the Teletubbies any day, but it’s all good, I can cope… I can even abide the occasional saccharine episode of Everything’s Rosie. But there’s one exception to this rule. When I hear the plinkedy-plonkedy music of the Waybuloo theme start I invariably let out an involuntary groan. Sometimes I even do a swear. Dear Reader, I just hate it. Continue reading

‘I can’t cope’ she said, whilst coping.

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We’ve all been there. On the sofa, still in your nightie at 4pm, sobbing into a cold mug of tea, probably with one boob hanging out, wailing “I just can’t cope” to anyone who’ll listen.

Whether this scenario conjures up memories of parenting or just recovering from a the-world’s-gone-to-shit level hangover, I’m sure many of you will relate. Especially around the #JanuaryBlues post-Christmas, come down period.

But back to work blues aren’t just for those returning to the office – they effect those on maternity leave too. You go from having family around, an extra pair of hands, maybe even the odd nap, to being alone again. Well, not alone, there’s a tiny small human being to take care of. *panics at the thought*

At anytime of year, having a bit of a weep is par for the course for new mums, and dads too I reckon. But for some of us it goes a little bit further than that. Instead of having a ‘moment’ (albeit a daily/hourly ‘moment’) at some straw-breaking-back time of the day or night, we start to believe these three little words all of the time. I can’t cope. We fear being alone with our child for any length of time because we seriously doubt our ability to just get through. We start to believe we simple can’t do it.

That’s what happened with me any way. And around this time in January, when my husband was heading back to work after the Christmas holidays I pretty much lost my shit. No joke of a lie.

I mean, it wasn’t just that, there were lots of other crazy-making things that happened, like not getting enough milk to breastfeed, and having a particularly screamy baby. (I know all babies are screamy, but seriously. So. Screamy.) Anyhoo, I ended up in a post-natal mental unit for mums and babies, as many of you will already know.

Whilst there I learned many things that helped me return to reasonable levels of sanity. Among them was that I did, in fact, have some skill at this whole parenting lark. I knew my baby pretty well and, even though he didn’t go 4 hours between feeds (barely 2 sometimes) and ‘tummy time’ made him cry furiously and eat the floor, he was fine. And so was I. Shock horror.

The thing is, most of the time when we’re having a sob about not being able to cope we are actually coping, in that very moment.

Have I just blown your mind? You’re welcome.

While I was in floods of tears, thinking I could never cope without my mum/hubs around to help me, there was this healthy, vaguely clean and, frankly, alive child right in front of me. He wasn’t ‘the contented baby’ (a fictional character, in case you’re wondering) we all dream of, but he was okay. More than okay. I think I just thought I should be enjoying it all. And I wasn’t, which really, really worried me.

Let’s just getting something straight – looking after a tiny baby is tiring as all fuck. It is a barrage of newness and sleeplessness and epicly daunting responsibilities. And sometimes it just a bit shit. More than a bit. Sometimes you won’t enjoy it because it’s mostly dealing with bodily functions and crying. That’s okay too. It doesn’t mean anything about you, except that you’re a normal human being. It certainly does not mean that you’re a bad mother!!!!!! (there aren’t enough exclamation marks in the world to emphasise that point, so I thought 6 would do).

And because it’s all a bit crap at times, it’s also very natural to regard an entire morning with no company and no planned activity with a mixture dread and battle-readiness. That doesn’t make you weak or mad, and it certainly doesn’t mean you won’t be able to cope with a morning like that.

So, if everyone else going back at work whilst you languish in the nappy-laden land of maternity leave is striking fear into your very soul, I want to tell you this…

Thinking you can’t cope isn’t the same as not being able to cope.* Is your baby fed? Vaguely clean? Cuddled often? Well then, you’re doing fine. You are coping. You’re worry, and you’re tired and you’re probably a bit bored, but you’re definitely coping.  It’s a bloody slog though, isn’t it? Bleurgh.

You’re a good mum. You are. Really, I’m quite sure of it.

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* if you’re in a situation like I was and have PND then it is of course possible that you really can’t cope alone, and that’s okay too. I got to a point where I was afraid I would hurt myself and didn’t feel safe on my own. If that’s the case for you then please seek help and talk to someone. You can also go to A&E if you’re really scared.

 

 

Baby’s first Christmas: a double whammy of ‘I should be happy’

Thinking about Bub’s first Christmas isn’t something I do a lot. Because, to be fair, it was a bit shit. Not objectively, but from my sleep-deprived, anxiety-ridden numbness. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, and have tried to do my bit for those who worry about not feeling the ‘right way’ or doing the ‘right thing’ by injecting my signature caustic humour into the ‘parenting advice’ fray.

Today, in an uncharacteristically sincere and personal post for Mumsnet, I’ve reflected on that time in my life. It still makes me sad to really look at it, but it has been quite freeing too. Because now I look back and know I was, at all times (even the ones when I felt actually mad) being a good mum. I was always good enough for my wonderful child. And so are you, just in case you’re wondering.

I think post-natal depression gets stereotyped as something that snaps in straight after birth; a non-attachment that needs fixing. It conjures images of a woman rocking in the corner, hands over ears, ignoring her screaming child. While it can be those things it can also be something that creeps up on you so slowly that – in your focus on getting the whole parenthood thing right – you hardly notice it’s happening until it’s too late. I don’t enjoy reliving my own story, but I think it’s incredibly important that as many of us as possible do. New mums out there need to know that it all being a bit shit is, frankly, quite standard. So do please read and share this post if you think it’s message could possibly help any one.

Cheers me dears.

P.S. Comical Christmassy post to follow. Probably. I have got a life to lead.

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