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Milk retrospective: Alcoholic mother in training

10 Oct

One of my very first posts, just to tickle your fancy while I continue my unplanned break from writing anything new. Not that i’m fuzzy headed or incapacitated or anything…..


When I first saw these on bottles I had just given birth to my second son. Second time round it had been hard. I had found pregnancy pretty miserable – struggling 40 miles into work each day, coping with a demanding toddler, trying to stay balanced. Yes, I had enjoyed a couple of drinks here and there just to keep me feeling “normal”, less fed up about all the things i couldn’t or wasn’t allowed to do.

As far as i knew that wasn’t illegal… fact, I had pretty much followed the UK guidelines to the letter. (no more than one or two units a couple of times a week.) So when i saw this new labelling I was pretty annoyed. How patronising, condescending, sexist. Were women incapable of making their own informed, sensible decisions? Apparently not. Perhaps all those pregnancy hormones running around our bodies do turn previously well-adjusted, sensible women into irresponsible nutcases? In any case, surely it’s a question of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted? Presumably by the time women see this label they’ll have already purchased the bottle, and as they say, once purchased always consumed. (or is that what i say?)

As far as i know under 18s still can’t buy alchohol, and it’s definitely illegal to give any to the under 5s, so where are the symbols of small kids with a line through them? And what about the fat-arsed, beer- bellied men who regularly put themselves at risk of heart attacks? Perhaps they couldn’t fit those on the label.

Apparently staying at home can make mothers drink. According to Dr Toni Galardi we are most likely to turn to alchohol to cope with the demands of children if we have previously had a successful career. Weary, dejected, we turn to alcohol to dull the boredom. No hope for me then.

So perhaps this drinking lark during pregnancy is beneficial after all. It must be good practise to have a few just to get into the swing of things for what’s to come.

Click here for referenced article.

In all honesty it is a pretty interesting article, and probably quite truthful, if only we had the time or energy to put the wine glass down and read it.

Milk Retrospective: Friends for life

19 Jul

I thought it was time for some reflection. I posted this originally in November 2010. 8 months later and me and my lovely friend Joy are back in touch. Both mothers now, living in the same city again; things have moved full circle. And the special magic? Still very much there.

Tonight i found out that an old friend of mine had become a mum, and i never even knew she was pregnant. I feel absolutely gutted.

It’s not that i feel it’s my right to have known. I haven’t seen her in nearly two years. It’s just in those few words she might as well have drawn a line from here to China and said i’m here and you’re there.

Everyone has those friends, the ones you hardly ever see or speak to, but they’re special to you, and if you never saw them again that wouldn’t change it. You shared something important and that stays with you.

Every now and then something reminds you of them, and you feel a tugging in your heart. A cliche for sure, but the truth. It’s a real physical longing, a pang of regret, a feeling that something is unfair, amiss, that circumstances rather than choice have drawn you unjustly apart.

So i’ve been feeling a bit sad. Mourning a friendship that i wish i still had in exactly the same way i did when i was 16.

But then my sister said something to me today which made total sense. You mourn that friendship because you feel that you have lost it, but actually the something special you shared is always there. In the end that part of your life is still special, still cherished, even if the friendship has changed, become distant, or passed.

What’s more, just because someone’s not a part of your life in the here and now, doesn’t mean they never will be again. That’s the thing with these special friendships, they pop up again when you least expect it. And the best thing of all is that when they do, the magic is still there.

So if you’re reading this, I love you Joy. I miss you. But i’ll be waiting here for you until i’m old and grey, if you ever fancy a natter. I know for sure we’d talk for hours, and I’d laugh a lot.

Milk retrospective: In praise of my mum

11 Feb

Originally posted May 6th 2010.

I never realised until I had my boys.

Just what you put in. Every day. Every night.

How hard you worked.

What you sacrificed.

Children always dwell on the things you didn’t get quite right.

The things they think you shouldn’t have said.

How much calmer/fairer/more understanding you could have been.

What the “perfect” parent would have done.

Only now that I am that parent do i start to comprehend. You weren’t so short of perfection after all.

Near, yet far away enough to be a friend.

How much you achieved.

How much I have to learn from you.

What we can now share.

It’s so long overdue.

Thank you.

Milk’s reckless 2011

31 Dec

So, what has 2010 taught me? That I can be far  too conversative (little c, little c)  a bit staid, careful, fearful. That I have experimented far too little and worried far too much.  That you really should stop once in a while and really take things in. That meticulous planning isn’t always the best way, and that sometimes,  just sometimes it’s better to lie down with no clothes on and wait for something to happen.  With that in mind here are my new year’s resolutions for 2011…

1) drive the shopping trolley recklessly in busy supermarkets, laughing in the face of anyone that dares to tut loudly

2) make it a mission to embarrass my kids frequently with my out-of-time dancing.

3) paint my nails a colour that’s way too young for me.

4) say “*ck it” more often, and really mean it (but not in front of the kids, obviously).

5) have totally ill-advised and nutritionally empty breakfasts – coffee and a cigarette leftover chocolate cake.

6) wear shorter skirts, naughtily short, and impossibly high heels I can’t walk a step in.

7) wear more eyeliner – in hardcore ’80s colours (preferably while rocking enormous shoulder pads).

8 ) take up yoga – and pass loud, joyous wind while doing it.

9) have more arguments – passionate, raging arguments with overly-dramatic reconciliations.

10) do much, much more public snogging.

Reckless? Well it’s best to start small…

Happy New Year everyone!  Thanks to everyone who’s stuck with me.


Milk Retrospective: According to Karren Brady you can have it all

30 Oct

I thought it was time for another Milk Retrospective because i have bugger all new ideas i was really concerned some of my later readers might have missed some early gems.

This post came early on in Milk’s career at a time when i was, shall we say, just a little obssessed with the question of whether women could have it all. Angry – for feeling a bit let down by all those people who’d told me i could and would be able to, amazed at how other women seemed to be doing it, resigned – to giving up a career i’d worked hard for but was unprepared to make the sacrifices for.

Now, having gone back to work on a contract part time doing what i love, i have to admit it’s maybe not all the doom and gloom my early Milk self wanted to believe. My hopes are up (just a bit) and i’m experimenting. I’ll let you know what i find.

In the meantime, enjoy.

As if answering my post Having it all Karren Brady was interviewed in yesterdays Daily Express stating defiantly “My goal is to have it all” with a photo of her looking more than a wee bit smug. I read on hoping to be enlightened. Just how did one of the UK’s most successful business women (MD of Birmingham City Football Club at 23) manage to find a life balance between her high pressured career, and raising 2 kids (now 13 and 11)?

She talks passionately about wanting girls to believe they can do anything they want “brain surgeon, engineer, scientist” clearly believing, no doubt through experience, that women can succeed even in the most male dominated industries. Acknowledging that she has a “hectic family life” she goes on to boast that she “doesn’t have any full time help”. I am impressed.

Apparently the key, according to Karren, is to share the childcare with her husband (also a football manager) and to work as a team. Hmmm, no real insight here. I read on, hoping for some tangeable hints and tips on how she actually makes it work. However, this is where the cracks begin to show. She advises the reader that it takes sheer hard work to get to the top and sacrifices along the way like missing swanky nights out (ok could deal with that, not much of a party animal anyway), .. all the christmases …., the holidays, the….”. Hold on, did she say christmases? I can’t imagine missing one christmas day with the kids, let alone plural.

And so the truth comes out. In the end, it is still all about making choices. Work or kids. And as Karren finally admits: “If you choose work you can’t sleep at night, because you feel bad you’ve not been there for your kids”. Sounds like she’s got a lot of experience in that department. Thanks Karren for finally coming clean.

It seems even Karren Brady doesn’t have any real answers. You might be able to “do” it all, but that is still a far cry from “having it all”. I suppose, in fairness, Karren Brady did just say her “goal” was to have it all. She never said she’d succeeded. I stand by my original post.

Click here for article in full

A Milk Retrospective: How much is too much?

6 Jul

This was one of my first posts, and one which i was bit nervous about writing. I didn’t want people to think i was naiive. A lax parent.

Reading it back i can honestly say i still stand by my thoughts 100%. Even at a time where we’ve had two mad gunmen on the rampage, i still believe in my heart that people are good and honest.

I have to admit that this latest news story has made me think “would i be keeping my children locked indoors if i lived up there in Northumbria? Would i be going to extremes to protect them even if the threat was remote”? I’m not sure. Would you?

Yeah ok there’s always a chance when you take your eye off your child in the playground for a minute someone could snatch them. When you leave them in the car for 1 minute while you grab a loaf of bread from the shops, someone could smash the window and haul them out.

But there’s a chance something could happen to my kids no matter what i do. Even if i’m the most security crazed parent in the world.

Some people would say that if there’s a chance in a million of something happening they’d do anything not to risk it.

I just can’t live my life under “what ifs”. And i wouldn’t expect my kids to either.

So, for the original post.

I’m all for protecting my children and keeping them safe, but how much information is too much?

In the article below, “Jendayi” writes in length about all the things we should be teaching our children, because “sex predators are everywhere, in church, in school”. When i was young we were just told “Don’t to talk to strangers.” Ok, considering that most crimes against children are committed by someone they know this probably doesn’t cut it anymore. But somehow I don’t feel comfortable sitting a small child down and going into detail about what is and is not acceptable behaviour from an adult, and how some people might be out to hurt them. I don’t want my child growing up believing that there are loads of “nasty people” out there.

Contrary to what Jendayi and the Daily Mail would like you to believe, we don’t live in a society where you need to be afraid of everyone and everything. There isn’t a paedophile on every corner, an axe murderer waiting to chop your granny up into small pieces. All children are not booze fuelled maniacs. The majority (if not all the people you will meet in your lifetime) are fairly decent and wouldn’t intentionally hurt your child. (well until they’re older and getting into drunken fights anyway). So, surely you would want to preserve that innocence and faith for as long as possible?

Am i burying my head in the sand? being dangerously naive?

I’m not for one minute suggesting it is not incredibly important to instill the right values in your child, to teach them all manner of sensible precautions for keeping safe – road safety, fire safety, personal safety . I’m just not sure it requires the kind of lecture that Jendayi is talking about. Does a child armed with all this information really become less of a target?

It reminds me of a documentary i once watched about women who wanted to, or had already microchipped their children. I clearly remember one particular mother telling her daughter why she had a microchip cut into her arm “anyone you meet might want to hurt you. You can’t trust anyone”. The girl was clearly traumatised. I wanted to weep and /or throttle this woman.

I don’t want my children thinking that anyone and everyone could be bad and nasty and intent on causing them harm.

So how much information is too much? I just don’t know. I’ve told my eldest that his “bits” belong to him and he can do what he likes with them. (although we are now trying to teach him that this shouldn’t really be on the sofa when we have guests). But that others shouldn’t.

I haven’t made a big issue of it, haven’t had some kind of “big talk”. I would rather leave it at that.

Jendayi’s article.

It’s very sensitively handled, I just can’t help feeling it’s all a bit much…..

A Milk Retrospective: What do you do all day?

1 Jun

This was my second ever post. It pretty much sums up the reasons why i started blogging in the first place.

Loyal readers will be more than familiar with the themes. Big change. Loss of identity. The need to justify my new existence.

All these feelings are still relevant. Though i’m starting to feel a little more at home in my new life.

For all new readers, enjoy. For all the rest, new post coming soon!

Someone recently said to me “I’m so over work; I can’t wait to have kids and let other people look after me”. Once I’d picked my jaw off the floor, and wiped the piteous look of “oh love, how misguided you are” from my face I felt pretty annoyed. The truth is, if someone had asked me 6 months ago I would have chosen full time work over full time parenthood any day of the week. Looking after kids 24/7 was so much harder than any job i’d had. Even the ones i’d really hated. I read somewhere once that the constant whines for attention from a child work in similar ways to chinese water torture. Ok so this is probably a bit over the top. However I don’t think i’d be exaggerating to describe the worst days as “emotionally traumatic”.

Try and get friends who’ve never experienced it to understand. Impossible. To be fair, what do you expect when every time they ring and ask what you’re doing the reply comes back “I’m in the coffee shop” or “I’m at indoor play”? You can hear the pause as they try to reconcile the nightmarish existence you’ve told them about with their present mental image of you frolicking around the ball pit laughing maniacally.

The truth is, full time parenthood challenges you to your very being. For almost every second of a 12 hour “working” day you have to put your own needs on hold while you pamper to the demands of the most unreasonable and demanding of customers. All this while staying calm and fair. Xist I’ve had days where i’ve put off going the loo for 4 hours because my toddler just would not be put down.

So, Ms Tacoma, what do we do all day? Constantly fall short of our own expectations. And it is thoroughly exhausting. No wonder we don’t want to pick up the phone and talk to “friends” like you.

A Milk retrospective

13 May

What happens to the posts we write?

People read them for a few days, and then perhaps occassionally, if you’re lucky, someone might chance upon them through a random search on google. (in my case searches on “David Essex” don’t do me too badly.)

It seems a shame.

You might pour out your heart. Be more honest than you’ve ever been, or even wish that you had. You reach heights of wit and comedy you didn’t think possible of yourself. Change the world, in your own small way.

And then they’re lost. Consigned to the last page of your blog. Purposeless and alone.

It doesn’t seem quite right.

So i’ve decided, when the mood takes me, to sneak in a Milk retrospective or two.

Give new readers a chance to read posts they missed, or loyal readers great reminiscing fodder.

Some of you might see it as laziness or a symptom of blogger’s block.

Some might find it boring. Repetitive.

I disagree. But indulgent? Definitely.

I suspect fellow bloggers might nod their heads in agreement.

So why not resurrect your favourite posts? Revel in repetition. Milk a little retrospection.

You might just be surprised by what you find. Just how far you’ve come on your journey.

In any case, let’s get back to David Essex.

(Did anyone see that picture of him in last week’s Saturday Guardian? Phwaor!)