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Milk’s hips don’t lie

20 Jan

This morning I lost all the remaining dignity I possessed (and believe me as a mother you’re not left with much).  And guess what? I frickin’ loved it!

No I didn’t go to work with my skirt tucked into my pants, or feel my hold ups slip to my ankles as I pounded the city streets  (that was last week). No, this morning  I tried Zumba.

Oh my God dear lovely Milk readers – it is absolutely amazing. I am so excited I feel like a 5-yr-old loaded up on e after a birthday party.

It’s a mixture of dance styles – latin, african, caribbean. It is as high-energy as a nun on steriods, as raucous as a donkey on heat, as embarrassing as pole dancing  in front of your granddad. But my God is it liberating.

It reminds me of a time when I was travelling in Mexico and we’d decided to take a short, unscheduled hop across to Isla de Mujeres in Belize. An amazing place with a real laid-back caribbean feel. We’d ended up at a bar on the beach, 3 white girls attracting some attention. One particular smooth belizian man was coaxing me into dancing with him, hands on my hips guiding me this way and that. “Loosen’ up ladeee, feel the rytherm”. Let’s just say within 5 minutes he’d handed me back my drink. My european ass just didn’t move like he wanted it to. More cement than sweet syrup.

In any case, I’m sure this is exactly what I looked like this morning. A caucasian nerd with as much rythym as an ageing lab rat. In my head I was Shakeera, all snake hips and bouncing booty. To the mirror, a pole-dancing nun. More Asamoah Gyan than Justin Trousersnake.

20 years ago I would’ve run out of that gym covering my face with my hands and shouting “shame”, but now that I’m in my 30s, I embraced my inner dork with gusto.

Just be sure not to tell Dita that Milk’s on the prowl, there’s no saying what might happen.

Vegetarianism, smegetarianism

12 Jan

Mr Milk was vegetarian for 20 years until his curiosity got the better of him. We were visiting Roka, a rather gorgeous sushi restaurant in Charlotte St, London; his work were paying (well they’d pretty much owned his life for several months) so we were eating. In hindsight I think he had decided he was straying before he’d even booked the restaurant.

As it turns out, meat pretty much had him at hello. Grabbed him by the short and curlies with a pincer grip and clamped her striatus muscles around his follicles.

I suppose, as his palette was becoming more and more refined (no doubt by the exponential improvements made in the culinary department) it seemed only sensible to widen the range of foods he would eat, savour, explore. After all, you only live once. So he embarqued on his flesh-eating journey. It was to be limited only to the finest cuts of organic, hand-reared meat, blessed by prepubescent nuns and stroked in a daily ritual by eunich sheep, yada yada.

Within 2 months he was eating 3 macdonalds a week.

I actually joined him as a vegetarian for a few years. It wasn’t some kind of moral quest for me, it was just that it was around the time of the mad cow scare and I didn’t really fancy staggering out my last breath with a moo and a swish of the tail. So the idea was to cut out meat entirely, and then to slowly drip feed back only the best quality cuts…hold on, this sounds familiar….

Anyway, I knocked my own vegetarianism on the head when I started weaning the first born. Well it’s difficult to maintain some kind of rigid quality control when you’re having to sample pureed lamb at every meal.

You see, there is no doubt in my mind that, biologically speaking, we’re meant to eat meat – we’re built for it. Those big monster teeth at the back are clearly for chewing through sinew and gristle, not sauteed parsnip or squishy butter beans. We don’t look at a tiger hunting down it’s prey with cunning and detachment – playful, ruthless, singleminded – and say “that tiger is totally bloody out of order”. It’s natural.

So i’m afraid if the argument is purely that eating meat is immoral I don’t buy it, especially if you’re a “pescatarian” that caveats yourself by saying that fish are different because they’ve got tiny little fish brains. Now if we start talking about the way we farm/kill/process meat and what we’re doing to the planet, well, that’s where any kind of argument I can feebly muster slips on a banana peel and lands firmly on its arse. What argument could I possibly have?

The way we farm is disgusting, the way we treat animals is disgusting. I’d rather run on the ruddy treadmill again in my knickers than see a slaughter first hand. Yet i choose to do nothing about it. I’m lazy, selfish, hypocritical and have my head firmly in the bloodied sands. The problem is, I really do believe we should be eating meat

So where does that leave me? I’m not entirely sure. My views, as ever, are largely under-developed, over-thought and seriously changeable at this time.

I’m pretty sure there’ll be a reaction though. At least it might help me build a better bloody argument (assumes crash position).

closet fattest

7 Jan

As some of you may know I was “sacked” a while back from an eating disorders charity for publishing a post they believed reflected a bad attitude to people with weight issues. I still maintain that the post was against the evils of nationalist bigotry, but to be fair, I do have to admit I was banged to rights on this one.

Me: “What exactly in the post did you find offensive?”

Charity lady: “The bit where you referred to the stranger as a “fat lazy bastard”.

Me: “Oh that one.”

You see what I mean? In any case, at the time I did feel it was just a poorly chosen turn of phrase rather than a reflection of any kind of deep-seated prejudice.

However, that experience did make me start to question myself. It’s forced me to really start to question the conclusions i jump to, the thoughts I have in my head, the ways I talk about people, and I’m afraid to say, i think I might just be a teensy bit fattest after all.

Now I’ve admitted to prejudices before, so it’s not come as a shock that I have them, just that i never realised I had this particular one.  I’ve spoken before about being a bit of a fatty myself, and even I’ve had to put myself on a New Year’s diet. (big fat yawn). I do believe that I am sensitive to how difficult the issues are around weight, and to people who struggle with it. However, i’ve starting to realise that when it comes to the very obese, judgy mcjudgealot might just be rearing her ugly head again.

I can’t put hand on heart and swear that when I see someone struggling down the street with no visible ankles I don’t make some kind of judgement, even if it is just to breathe a sigh of relief that it’s not me, for without question they must be miserable. I know I frequently pass judgement on obese children and what their parents must be like,  and I most definitely don’t choose the bench in the park that is already half occupied by someone sweating and overspilling its edges.

Rereading that paragraph back to myself, and reflecting on my choice of language just proves my point.

Sometimes I think that we spend our youth trying so hard to be “okay” with everything – liberal, open-minded – that we fail to appreciate that we may carry some innate, ingrained beliefs hidden below the surface. We may think we are open/flexible/non-judgemental because that is how we want to be, but ignoring our little prejudices or pretending they’re not there doesn’t make it so. They surface in small, hardly perceptible ways – in the language we use, the looks we give, the people we choose as our friends.

My sister has always said to me that you cannot always control the thoughts in your head (I call them my “mental tourettes”), but you can choose to be aware of them. To be mindful that, considered fairly and rationally, you are wrong to believe or think that thing, and to change your behaviour accordingly. My own dad struggled to accept homosexuality as a lifestyle equal to any other, and frequently described people as “camp” with a downward flick of the wrist. Yet, what redeemed him in my eyes was that he had come to understand that his attitudes and opinions were wrong, unacceptable, and outdated. Surely we are better to acknowledge the preconceptions, judgements, attitudes that fail us rather than simply pretending they don’t exist?

Without honesty, there can never be positive change. Let’s take our heads out of the sand, stop believing that Jade Goody’s indiscretion was a one-off,  put out hands up and admit we might just need a little bit more guidance.

Shut up!

2 Jan

The Milks ventured out yesterday to leafy Kent for an indoor picnic (aka the car) and a short walk. It was drizzling a little as we parked the car. Tummys full of cheese sandwiches we began our stroll down the hill from the carpark. As we meandered our way through the forest something happened to me that I cannot fully explain, except to say that I suddenly felt light. A feeling of weightlessness as if my physical body had lost stones, and the neck pain that had been haunting me for days disappeared. My mind that usually zooms around at 100 mph, speeding uncontrollably this way and that like Potter’s golden snitch , was suddenly and curiously still. Restful. And as I breathed in the icy air, slowly, in exaggerated breaths, it suddenly hit me. Silence. Total,  unadulterated, astonishing silence.

You don’t appreciate the level of noise you live with on a daily basis, until it’s no longer there. No more so than for a hardened city dweller like myself. Awakened by the piercing alarm call at an hour unsuited to our body clocks. As the kettle hisses into life and the toaster pings, we listen to the blare of the radio reporting the morning news. Small children screaming for toast, wimpering and whining as they pull on the knees of your pyjamas. The slam of the front door as you leave for work, following the hoot of the traffic as it careers through the city streets. The rattle of the train speeding into Charing Cross. On your right a suited man rustles and thwackes his paper, straightening its edges. On your left,  a teenager listens to his  ipod at an insensitive volume. By the time we reach our destination we have experienced a cacophony of sounds, a war waged on all our senses.

I sometimes wonder whether it is this constant stimulation that is at the root of much of my anxiety, my low moods, my frustrations. Is the human body simply not equipped to deal with this level of aural bombardment, reacting with dangerously high levels of adrenalin, preparing to flee and fight, if not in body then in mind?

Was this what Jesus experienced in his 40 days and 40 nights in the desert? An inner calm, weightlessness, introspection fuelled by the absence of any sensory interaction.

I know I felt enlightened today, and it was really quite wonderful.

A sorry tail

14 Dec

I’ve had a pain in my bottom for a while. No, i’m not talking about my kids, I mean an actual sore rear end. It gets worse at certain times of the month, to the point where it is literally agony to sit on a hard surface, and even more painful when I try and stand up. Stop sniggering in the back you lot.

Anyway, I finally visited the doctor. Washed particularly carefully that morning lest it turn into a particular type of examination. I’m fairly jinxed when it comes to these kind of check ups. I usually find myself wearing totally inappropriate underwear and being asked to do a jig while being filmed. (true, well almost). In any case, I attended the doctor in my Bridget Jones’s pulled up to my waist.

Luckily, I might as well have worn my teeniest undies. Verbal chat only. Apparently it’s called “Coccydinia”, or pain of the tail bone. It can be thrown out of line during pregnancy or birth, or in my case, be a symptom of wider back problems – stiffness, tension, pain. The doctor recommended physio. Stop. Further clarification definitely required. “Doctor, umm, what exactly will be “physiotherapied” during these sessions?” (audible gulp). “Oh probably just your lower back”. Ok, i’ll go with that, in my book “probably” means greater than 75% chance i’ll avoid being physically and emotionally humiliated this time. “I’ll do it”.

So keep your fingers crossed for me. Appointment’s early Jan. Better not eat too many sprouts over Christmas.

Raised to be thin

2 Nov

I watched an episode of Come Dine with Me the other day. It was pretty cringeworthy, as usual. But it wasn’t the arrogance of the diners, the self-inflated egos, nor was it the toxic rudeness or the poor taste that got to me. The thing that shocked me most was this.

There were two ladies amongst the group. One (Lady A) was superficial, catty and a size zero with designer clothes and immaculate nails. She also didn’t eat. Not the best or most riveting of dinner guests. The other (Lady B) was sassy, witty, very attractive and a size 14. Really good company, didn’t take herself too seriously, lots of fun but capable of holding an interesting conversation about more than the calorific value of raisins.

I came away from that tv show thinking i had it sussed. I could see quite clearly that Lady A was a shambles while Lady B had it all going on. In your face cynical media culture.

However, that night i dreamt i was trying tirelessly, desparately even to befriend size zero cat woman. A nocturnal version of Paris Hilton’s shameless New Best Friend. Lady A was the cool cat, the one i wanted to be. She had it all, the ribs AND the jimmy choos.

How unnerving is that? It seems that somewhere deep within me i would rather be size AND mind miserly than a size 14 version of beautiful. (well in actual fact I am a size 14 post boy no.2, so maybe herein lies the rub)

How could i, an educated, smart, rational being be so completely yet so subconsciously consumed by the fatuous notion that thin = happy. That size zero = desirable. My rational mind see so clearly that size zero lady was uptight and proposterous but that clarity of mind be secretly and silently fed upon by a sneaky, insiduous parasite?

How utterly depressing.

Not all boys can be cherubs

1 Nov

What is it with mums and their son’s hair? Is it me or are there an awful lot of , let’s face it, perfectly pleasant looking but certainly not ethereal, boys running around with mops of hair down to their shoulders because mum thinks it looks angelic?

Mud coloured rather than golden, wavy and strawlike rather than falling in golden ringlets.

Why does everyone seem to think that they can recreate the cherubin look on their child just by growing their hair long and never brushing it?

I know that having boys can be limiting. The clothes are never as good. The shoes are definitely pretty ugly. And if you’ve always wanted girls, well, it must be frustrating not to be able to indulge your love of all things frilly and glittery. But it’s like mothers are losing all perspective of what their child actually looks like. I know that every parent thinks their child is a Caravaggio (Mr Milk recently put a picture of my youngest on facebook thinking Botacelli might come back from the grave to stare in awe and wonderment), but we need to get real.

“But it’s the only time in their life when they can grow their hair like that. They’re so innocent and sweet and adorable.” What utter tosh.

At this point i’m sure i’ll be getting all the feminists out there screaming at me to stop adhering to a stereotypical segregation of the sexes based on superficialities, or some such. I actually have absolutely no issue with boys having long hair per se, just if it looks crap, and let’s face it, most of the time it looks crap.

He might be a cute, innocent little 3 yr old, but a mullet is still a mullet.

Oooo I’m a lady!

11 Oct

I haven’t waxed since the summer of ’94
Don’t know my Brazilian from my French, Landing Strip from my Sphinx
Have never died my hair, rocked a fringe, perm, wave, or flick
Used face masks, exfoliaters, renewers or fillers,
Tried fake tan, spray tan, fake bake or moritz mousse
Been threaded, depilated, electrolysed or sugared
Manicured – Regular, French, Hot oil or Spa
Not prone to preening, pruning, buffing or de-muffing
Wearing falsies or lifters or soft gels or fillets
Never raunched in stockings, suspenders, bustiers, or garters
Or dazzled with bronzer, rouge, whitener or glitter.
And that my friends, is only for starters.
More Plain Jane than Fancy Nancy, more Low-mo than Fly-mo.

When i was younger, it didn’t matter so much. I always scrubbed up okay. Youth outshining laziness. But now that i’m older, more tired, stressed, sometime exasperated, often maladjusted – it’s slowly starting to show. A bit of roughness around the edges. Fine singed at the ends. Parched hands. Muffin topped.

It’s time i started learning the tricks of the trade. And fast.

No nudity clause

14 Sep

So Big Milk said to me yesterday while i was getting dressed “i don’t like looking at your boobies anymore mummy”.

I told him that was okay and quickly put my top on. Quite frankly i don’t too much like looking at them anymore either.

My boy has just turned 4. I’ve always walked around naked in front of him, gone to the loo in front of him. Well you have to when they’re young, they follow you bloody everywhere.

And up until now they’ve not batted an eyelid. They’ve taken it all in their stride and asked very few questions. Surprisingly few questions actually when you consider i’m the only female in the house and i’m quite evidently short of a tuppence ha’penny or two.

I’m def ready to close the door on the loo thing now. Big Milk has started occasionally providing a running commentary, or posing a few awkward questions. Questions which, let’s be honest, i’d rather not answer while my trousers are around my ankles. You can’t quite get the gravitas necessary to answer a rather serious question about how people get to heaven or why cats and dogs don’t have babies together with a bit of splishing and splashing going on in the background.

But what about full frontal nudity? Is it ever inappropriate if your family are close enough?

I was talking to a lady the other day who said she still has conversations with her 17 yr old boy while she’s in the shower. I admit i winced a bit. I certainly don’t think i’ll be that comfortable once my boys are sexually aware, let alone sexually active.

Is it all down to how you were brought up? I lived in an all female household so i’m pretty comfortable with female nudity, but will probably be a bit more thrown when caught off guard by a glimpse of sack and seam. But i DO want my kids to feel comfortable with their bodies, and i don’t want to be a prude. I want to be honest and open and confident with them. Or rather, i need to come across as honest, open and confident. After all, post baby bodies and confidence aren’t the closest of bed fellows.

So should i stop now? Or do I let it all hang out until my youngest is yelling at me to ” at least put some bloody clothes on when i have my friends round mum, i’m just soooo never gonna live this down”?

It’s all down to biology

24 Aug

A woman should never be forced to carry a baby she doesn’t want. Nor should she ever be made to have an abortion she doesn’t consent to.

I agree.

However, I also have a real issue with de-prioritising the man in all of this. I’m really not okay with a woman having an abortion against the wishes of her husband/partner/acquaintance. Okay, so if the man wants nothing further to do with the woman or his creation, then decision must defect 100% to the woman. But if he does want a say?

It’s a bit like the very sad story of the lady who had saved embryos prior to treatment for cancer only to break up from her partner once the treatment had finished. She fought tooth and nail for those embryos but they were destroyed because her ex-partner did not agree to them being used. I felt heartbroken for her. But it was absolutely the right moral decision. He hadn’t consented just to be a sperm donor. He was interested in being a father. Well, interested right up until the point he didn’t want her for the mother.

“It takes two to make a baby.” We’re always shouting this from the rooftops when a man won’t take responsibility. So when there’s a difference of opinion, why do his wishes suddenly become at best second place, and at worst irrelevant?

It’s a really difficult one because there’s actually no solution. If there is a difference of opinion who gets the final word? It has to be the woman because it’s her body you would be invading.

It’s a no win situation that in the end just comes down to biology. For once, nature has put the woman in greater control, and actually, i’m not sure it’s fair.

Just don’t get me started on women who trick men into becoming fathers. Now that one really is unforgiveable.