Tag Archives: guest post

Mummy’s dirty laundry: Day 7 from my favourite kiwi vixen

25 Sep

Out of all the bloggers I’ve met along the way, I feel like I know Vic the best. We’ve met ONCE. I think it’s the shared marketing background, that Kiwi connection, our similar outlook on life.

Apparently she sees me as a younger version of herself (she told me that once), and I’m just fine with that.

The Battle Hymn of the Vixen Mum

When Milk asked me to join in with this week long confessional about shit/real mothering, I jumped at the chance, but with one reservation. Which episode of slackness would I choose out of my 18 years’ worth of parenting?

Would I retell the tale of how I left my newborn son in the changing room at a local store and walked off down the road feeling surprisingly lighter? I did return of course, and I don’t think the separation anxiety that plagued him throughout his toddler-dom was at all related to this incident.

Would I confess how I rushed back from a meeting, dressed in corporate suit and heels, for the mummy’s coffee morning and after dutifully placing son on his rug on the floor, promptly stood on him as I jumped up to grab a coffee? Owww!

Or would I explain about that day when I was sick to death of Dark Princess (then aged 4) whining in the car? As she moaned incessantly, I fired a warning shot – “Be quiet or I will let you out and you’ll have to walk home.” She didn’t. I did. She walked (for a bit) sniffing back tears as I drove down the road without her.

Yeah, so many examples of slack parenting!

Yet, am I really so different from everyone else? In a world of helicopter parents and Tiger Moms, I’ve had to learn my own style of parenting. I did the research when I was pregnant, reading all that ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ and ‘The first nine months’ had to offer. Then I had my son, and the next day I threw the books out the window. My practical examination in parenting, has lasted eighteen years so far, and it’s been the hardest vocational test I’ve ever undertaken.

At times I’ve struggled with the rules and my inner rebel has railed against the ‘done thing’. Why should all children have to get their first tooth before they’re two? Will he one day walk down the aisle with his bride, toothless? Why do all Mums have to be completely selfless, espousing a ferocious martyrdom not seen since Joan of Arc? If your little toe-rag is mean to you, shouldn’t you tell them that was mean? Shouldn’t you explain that Mum’s have feelings, the Mums hurt sometimes, that Mums have to say sorry sometimes too?

Over the years I’ve developed my own style of parenting. It’s not the live-through-your-children style of the Tiger Mom, nor is it the anxiety disordered style of the helicopter parent. Nope, I call it the Vixen Mum style of parenting. And this is the Battle Hymn of the Vixen Mum:

1/There are no words more powerful in the English language than ‘I love you’. Use them with care and meaning.
2/Sorry is a hard word to say, but a remarkable life-changing word to hear.
3/Never stop learning. Life is the only journey you’ll ever take where the destination is not as important as the journey.
4/You can tell a great deal about someone by how they treat animals.
5/Be kind to yourself. Forgiving, and understanding. Remember that loving yourself is not conceit, it’s preservation.

More advice on parenting:

Advice for my daughters
What Kind of Mother are you

Mummy’s dirty laundry : Day 5. I don’t know how she does it?

23 Sep

I admire this lady tremendously. She’s strong, resilient, wise – but above all that generous. I like what she’s about. I recommend you check out more of her writing at Maija’s Mommy Moments.

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Don’t Know How She Does It? Then You Might Not Want to Look too Closely

I haven’t seen Sarah Jessica Parker’s new movie “I Don’t Know How She Does It” and I’m not sure I will. I can just see me now, sitting in the movie theatre, watching my life on the screen (minus the make-up artists and the nanny watching my actual children) making mental checklists of all the things I should be doing instead of watching some poor woman work herself to death at the office and at home in hopes of just once feeling like she’s achieved it all.
The truth is I am that woman. I am a mother of 3+1, the wife of a shift worker who is rarely home and a professional far more than 9-5 every day. I definitely like to think that I have it all but even just by typing that I am pulling the wool over your eyes and my own.
Every morning I wake up well before the sun, make lunches, sort laundry, wake children, dress children, make myself presentable usually in a full suit and stilettos and somehow get us all out the door and to where we’re supposed to be. Hopefully at the time we’re actually supposed to be there.
Often people look at me and my life and ask “I Don’t Know How She Does It”? Most days, neither do I.
Take the first two hours of my day as an example. From the moment I wake up (hopefully before the children and NEVER having had enough sleep) to the moment I back out of the driveway with a mini-van full of children, backpacks, diaper bags, brief cases and all the paraphernalia one needs for after school activities, I’ve taken a variety of shortcuts simply to help make it through our morning routine.
What shortcuts you ask? Well here’s just a sampling:
1. I lie about being a morning person. I swear at one point in my life I was, but now I want to pitch the freaking Blackberry out the window every time it wakes me up as programmed at 6:30am. When people ask me how I get the kids out the door on my own most mornings AND manage to get to work at a reasonable hour I smile and lie through my teeth – to them and to myself.
2. The second my kids get out of bed I turn the TV on. Cartoons are our friends in the morning. The TV doesn’t go off until we leave the house. This may make me a bad parent in some of your eyes but in mine it makes me one who can actually put make-up on and ensure all my zippers and buttons are done up BEFORE leaving the house.
3. I buy frozen pancakes.
4. I HATE making school lunches and my children seem to HATE sandwiches or anything that would be easy to prepare. I am the parent who would pay an insane amount of money to have someone deliver my children lunch and snacks every day of the week. Most days I have leftovers for their lunches but I keep microwavable entrées in the freezer just in case. Sometimes you are left with no choice but to heat in the microwave and toss into the thermos.
5. I usually shower at night, but if I was too lazy the night before, in the morning a baby wipe will do the trick.
6. Granola bars and a juice box in the car DOES constitute breakfast so long as it is consumed prior to school drop-off.
7. I routinely forget to wash breakfast off my children’s faces before leaving the house which means I’m also the mom that routinely can be seen licking my thumb and wiping whatever is leftover on their chins.
8. I also routinely forget to brush my children’s teeth in the morning. There I said it. I can hear the “tisk-tisking” now.
9. I can often be found filling out forms and signing permission slips at red lights since I of course forgot to do it BEFORE leaving the house.
10. When I happen to find the list of words for that morning’s spelling test amongst the forms I was supposed to look at the night before, making my child recite the spelling of the words while eating a granola bar constitutes eating breakfast AND studying!
So the next time you see a woman pulling up in a minivan just before the school bell rings, looking fairly put together with actual make-up on, as she hands her children their backpacks and lunch boxes then kisses them on the top of the head and they run contentedly off to school – remember she’s probably not a morning person either and her children are likely running for the bathroom because their mother forgot to remind them to go before they left the house.
Trust me. I know.

Mummy’s dirty laundry: Day 4 with a dash of guilt

22 Sep

Well this wouldn’t be a week of guest posts by mothers if the guilt didn’t creep in somewhere would it? So here we have it. A big dose of mummy guilt from the lovely Kirrily at Sunny Side Up .

I’ve admired this woman since the first day I read her blog.  We’d bonded over a loss and the feeling of sitting in a cupboard of grief looking outside at a world busying itself around us.

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I feel guilty about feeling guilty

 There was once a time when I could feel guilty unabated. That was before I started writing my guilts out on my blog, where people would cajole and tell me it was okay, that they felt like that too sometimes.

Now, I tend to feel guilty in private. I pre-empt the things that I know instinctively should be causing the guilt and do them anyway.   It’s inherent, inbuilt. It’s over things like letting my child watch 2 or 3 hours of television some days when, hell… I just can’t contribute any more to her life right now, so CBeeBees/ABC for Kids can be the entertainment for an afternoon. The joy on her face when she’s granted this is something I cannot deny – who am I to say no to something that she loves that much?

Who are “they”? The “they” I kept looking over my shoulder for as a new mum? “They” tell me that TV, for instance, is not good for my child. But they leave out the “okay in moderation” and the “it also won’t make your child grow two heads” part, so for the first two years I went into conniptions any time I just had to give myself a break by way of her watching an age-appropriate show on the telly. I ask you… what is more unhealthy?

I don’t even care who “they” are any more. That stopped when I began to hit my stride as a mum when my little LGBB (Lolly Gobble Bliss Bomb)… if you’re not familiar, it’s a delectable Aussie honey-caramel-coated popcorn-nutty thang) – began to show signs of being a really good sort, well raised, kind, caring… and prove that all the hard yakka, basically, was going to pay off. I could see it in how she conducted herself. I hadn’t broken her with my bouts of banshee-like screaming or letting her watch television. She had blossomed anyway, in spite of my stressed-out antics but also because of them.

Why are we, as a modern day species, so caught up on blaming and shaming (ourselves and/or each other)? Do we ever get that blame-shame pointy finger and turn it on ourselves, shining the light on the parenting things we think are surely too embarrassing to admit to? Are we satisfied being blissfully unaware that every judgement and generalisation we make on another’s lifestyle or way of parenting is detrimental to ALL of us?

You know what I did this evening just before the LGBB’s father was due home? I left her, merrily watching the tv, to duck up to the local shops (literally a 25 second drive, but still far enough to make me bristle with terror that “they” would find out) and buy some wine I felt deserving of today. I had spent the entire day bending to the whim of my five year-old darling, someone who makes my heart utterly SING (without her, I would be truly lost….. read my bio to find out why). We baked gingerbread ponies and we watched an episode of the very respectable BBC show, Lost Gardens together. We played Junior Scrabble. We hugged countless times during the course of the day. She cared less if I was home or not as she sat glued to Mr Maker, and she literally pushed me out the door when I said, “Mummy needs to go to the shop” (I left out the ‘bottle’ part, granted).

I had nothing to feel guilty about today. I brought it on myself. Perhaps once we stop being so hard on ourselves and refrain from judging others, “they” might pale into insignificance as a force in our parenting lives.

Mummy’s dirty laundry: A treat for day 3

21 Sep

I’ve been eulogising about Doodlemum since the first time I saw her blog. I thought it was just a wonderfully different take on life as a busy mum. Always funny. Always spot on. A real gem amongst the literary mummy set.

She never fails to make me smile. In fact, I’ve gone on about her so much in the past I fear she was a step away from googling “restraining order”.

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Mummy’s dirty laundry: Day 2

20 Sep

I liked Caroline the minute I met her. I just knew straight away she was my kind of girl. Straight, no fuss, lots of fun. Then she ruined it all by giving up her blog, Scribbling Mum. What kind of crazy gives up blogging when they’ve just been  nominated as a finalist in two categories of this years MAD blogger awards? To be fair I think she’s just taking a break. I’m sure she’ll be back after the therapy’s finished.

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When I’m bored at work I go to the toilet with my phone, or sometimes just to sit. I (pretty much) always put the seat down and just kill five minutes checking my email, day dreaming or lurking around twitter. I flush, cough or make a fuss of pulling out some loo roll if I hear someone else come in, just so I don’t blow my cover.

I always tell my children that those big sit on kids rides outside supermarkets are broken. ‘I know, another one broken. Yes, you’re right they really should get someone to fix them.’ But I do let them sit in them and make their own free fun. More generous Mums will rock up and put their own kids in and the machine will spring to life, but my children know that these Mums must have magic pennies which are terribly hard to come by.

When I’m driving I have a compulsion to add together the numbers on passing car number plates. I also have to count the vowels on road signs or passing trucks and vans. Rain Lady, that’s me. And I’ve never had a crash.

On a fairly regular basis (somewhere between daily and weekly depending on stress levels) I mumble swear under my breath at my kids when they do something that drives me mental. It’s only a matter of time before they ask me what ‘oh fuffus say’ means.

I’ve been known to tweet behind my husbands back. Not metaphorically, literally. Follow these simple rules and it’s possible to chat to tens of people whilst lying in your bed next to your dozing husband on a Sunday morning.

1. Adjust your settings so the button tapping is silent.

2. You must move only your finger. Using your hand or elbow in any way will gently shake the bed which will give you away, or get him wondering just what you’re getting up to over there.

3. If he rolls over DO NOT panic and throw your phone. Simply let out a sleepy moan, roll over whilst at the same time locking your phone and store it under the duvet for later. If he asks why your phone is in the bed just say you were checking your clock for what time it was.

Mummy’s dirty laundry: A week-long M2M confessional

19 Sep

When I started this blog I was ready to bare my arse. I was tired of thinking everyone else was always doing a better job. Of endlessly cataloguing all the things I “should” have been doing, the cakes I “ought” to have been baking, the hours of television I “shouldn’t” have had my kids watching. I was ready to just be who I was, to come clean, to bare all. So I wrote this.

Recently I decided it was time to recapture this essence of Milk. To talk about all the corners we cut as mums, women, wives – the unquestionable, unthinkable, unhygienic things we do behind closed doors. So I have enlisted the help of some of my reprobate favourite bloggers.

So welcome to a week-long M2M confessional.  And absolutely no writing from me. Enjoy!

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The lovely Very Bored Housewife describes herself as “Plodding (her) way through Catalan life, waywardly straddling three languages, 2 cultures and a lack of decent cheese.” Now, anyone with a penchant for decent cheese is okay by me, plus her writing is funny, honest and blunt.  No nonsense is good nonsense in my book….

Laid Back Parenting:  It’s a lot less bovver than a hover(mum)

When Henrietta asked if would like to write a guest post for her, I immediately said yes.  However, when she said it was about slack parenting I was deeply offended.  Me?  Cut corners in the parenting department, what on earth made her think that I do anything like that?

Anyway, indignant I swallowed the last of the biscuits that I’d hidden from my son and put the wrapper in the bin (underneath the empty rice packet so he wouldn’t spot it), and wondered briefly where he was.

It was OK, he was in the middle of a marathon session on the Wii, he was on level 6.3 or 63 (I kind of vague out when he talks about such things) on Donkey Kong.  “Fish fingers all right for your dinner?” I enquired, poking my head around the corner.  “I had fish fingers last night Mummy” he replied “Can I have spaghetti and meatballs?”

What, a dinner that needs preparing from scratch?  erm…. “We’ve ran out of meatballs.”  I reply, firing up the oven.

Yeah OK, so shoot me, I am a terrible mum.  I don’t so much as take short cuts, I’m just of the idle persuasion.  I hate doing crafty things, board games bore me, and pushing my son on the swings makes me want to stab my eyes out.

Thankfully, due to a combination of nature and non-nurture my son is a fine boy who can happily amuse himself, the time we do spend together is spent laughing and giggling and doing things that we both enjoy.

I don’t think that this is because I cut corners; to be honest cutting corners would demand that I stop and weigh up the pros and cons of my choices and who the hell has time for that?   I just do what comes naturally and the path of least resistance, least work and least stress is the path that I find myself walking down.

I could no more be a helicopter mum than I could be a perfect housewife, stuff gets done when it needs to (or more likely if it’s to be seen by visitors), the rest of the time I let things slide.  Sure, I’d love to have a show home that’s sparkling clean at all times, but we’d all have to live in the garden and only come in the house if we’re wearing those plastic jumpsuits and shoe covers that you see forensic crime scene experts wear on the telly.

I don’t hover over my child, watching  his every move, hell God blessed me with a adequately stuffed ass that’s just perfect for sitting on, why disappoint him?  My boy has structure at school, at home he can be more feral.  He gets fed when he’s hungry, cleaned when he’s dirty and cuddles and kisses on demand—mine and his.   The only clocks we go by are the ones run by his stomach and his tired eyes.

I think I am supposed to admit to a catalogue of mothering errors, OK so there was the time he fell off the bed as a baby (onto a hard tiled floor), I am a year behind his inoculations because I clean forgot to look in his little blue book for the dates, quite often a large part of his daily fruit and veg allowance comes in the form of dried fruit which he snaffles from the kitchen himself and he regularly get his outfits from the bottom of the ironing pile.  I’m sure I make text book parenting mistakes on a daily basis but I doubt I could change the way I parent if I tried.

Anyway, it’s all character building stuff, wouldn’t you say?