It may get hairy…

Archive for the ‘Mummyhood’ Category

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” ― Charles Dickens

Since I wrote The Drowning Feminist, I’ve had an outpouring of empathy from people in the same position. Men and women who are stuck at home, desperately trying to keep themselves motivated, keep their brain active and keep their head above the quagmire that is stay-at-home-parenthood. I can’t believe how many of my acquaintances have, in essence, been suffering in silence.

As such, I’ve been debating about whether or not to create a Facebook group, where we can support each other. It’s not a get-rick-quick scheme, I won’t be advertising or making any money, but I know that I’m much more likely to succeed and keep moving when I’m talking to others about my goals (i.e. I don’t want to visibly fail, so I push myself). In my mind, I see a group of people who post questions about what they’re struggling with (be it course information, technological issues, how to get into business or everyday crap), free courses and YouTube tutorials, general motivational stuff to get us off our arses and a whole lot of vents. If you’re interested in this, please, please vote below. I don’t get a lot of traffic here, so I’ll never know otherwise 😉

Now, back to the all-important me. I had a couple of weeks where I was incredibly motivated. Managed to stick to a cleaning routine and keep my house spotless (which, is a first!) and do a little bit of stuff here and there in between. It was too tiring though and I wasn’t able to keep it up. I was deep-cleaning a couple of rooms each day. So, I’ve now moved to focusing on a general clean a day and more stuff to build me up. I also have a swanky new desk! Well, a ‘console unit,’ but it’s pretty and I like it.

I’ve booked myself onto a photography course, as I mentioned before. However, I was completely unaware that it was actually a diploma! It’s a lot of time, which I don’t have, but I’m doing it anyway. I will succeed! I’m still on the basics, but have been faffing with photography in the meantime. Below are my first attempts and the mirror picture was heavily edited (I kinda like it like that, though) and not at all planned, so it’s not perfectly focused.

…and now I have to go because I just found my three year old putting mascara on my one year old.

Reflecting Youth – My baby girl decided to have a play in the mirror.

Mucking around while learning about my Nikon D5300


Scroll on by

Amusingly, my morning has been unintentionally filled with inspirational posts, videos and articles. It’s helped to remind me that life doesn’t fit into a 2 hour movie slot and that dreams are met through hard work, slog, failure and belief in yourself. 

This is soppy and positive for me, so just scroll on by while I remind myself what it takes to succeed in life – personally and professionally. 

I’ve expanded my goals to include learning, re-learning and touching up on skills that may one day be financially beneficial. Alongside writing a children’s book, I’ll be re-learning photography basics and photo editing and manipulation. I’ll also be learning how to design fonts. These are both mainly for my personal benefit and things I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Although, they could end up making me a small amount of money, monetary  benefits aren’t the priority. God knows how I’ll manage learning these skills with the kids in tow, but I’ll have to make it happen. 

This week’s goal is to make the house organized enough for me to work from home. A huge task, but, with hubby helping, we’re making a dent in it. Next week, a desk will arrive and I’ll start. Here’s hoping my motivation lasts. 

Huh? Zzz

There’s a deep, innate tiredness that comes with motherhood*. It’s much more complicated than simple exhaustion. Most days, you’re so used to the feeling that you barely notice. Some days, you wake up accutely aware that you can’t remember the last time that brushing your teeth didn’t take all the energy you have left. Or when you last walked without feeling like your feet were trapped in concrete.

I find I have to time my ‘work,’ or complicated tasks to the few hours of functioning brain time I have: generally 7-10pm. If I attempt anything complicated (even a simple phone call) at any other time, it’s doomed to fail.  Although, there are many days that these hours are just as blurred as the others. For clarity, this blog is being posted at 9.32am on a Saturday. I have little doubt that it makes absolutely no sense.

Motherhood is wading through mud, desperately trying to keep up, clean up, cheer up, all the while trying to keep your children alive and unaware of their mother’s sonambulism.
*A sexist term, but it’s meant to include main-carer fathers too. 


The drowning feminist

I’ve always considered myself a lazy feminist: I ignore protests, petitions and debates, unless they directly affect me, but I do believe in equality and I see red when treated like less because of my gender.

Stereotype me beacuse I’m a woman and I’m guaranteed to flip a lid. I am just as able to make a decision, manage finances, have a career and survive as the next man. I would never be treated like a little woman… until now.

Before I continue, I should point out that I drafted the first few paragraphs and title of this blog in November 2015, over two years ago, when I was starting to feel trapped in a gender-stereotypical role in the quagmire that is military life. I’ve moved on since and accepted my role as a stay-at-home-mum, which was originally by choice. I fought my way out of that, studied, grew, built up a childminding company and successfully kicked the fuck out of my ‘little woman’ image.

Yesterday, two years later, I had a hard lazy-feminist day. Yesterday marked the day where we realised that financially, I cannot work. Having two children, childcare isn’t affordable at all. Even with 30 hours funded by the government, we realised I couldn’t find something in the role that I wanted to do (or a role that would work towards my career) that could cover the extra costs. Just to break even.

There are ways forward and things I could do. For example, I could walk into an incredibly well-paid job tomorrow, thanks to my experience and qualifications, but I’m not willing to sell my soul (or allow my children to be parented by strangers at a nursery) for something as trivial as money. I have made such progress in my life and mindset that taking a gigantic leap backwards isn’t worth it. So, I had to face the fact that I will be a stay at home mum, quite possibly for the next 2-3 years. It’s hard to keep positive when faced with this. I allowed myself a whole minute of pathetic weeping, then picked myself up. I have to make the best of this.

There is no way that I will sink into domesticity, donning an apron and making my best apple pie. I can’t clean for shit, my house is always a tip, I’m late to everything and I’m just too much of an ass to allow myself to be downtrodden by others. So, I’ve decided to try and stay positive and use this time to focus on other goals and enjoy my children. Keep my mind awake, my intellect intrigued, do my best to be a good mum…to keep being proud of who I am.

Firstly, I’m focusing on reading and writing. These are things that make me very happy and I know they will never do me wrong (well, what I write often gets me into shit, but, as an overall activity, it does me well).

  • I’m working on a children’s book. Nothing major and I don’t expect to get published, but, in a saturated market, I believe I have a good idea and I like doing it. It’s also a goal I can work towards, achieve and kick ass at. Whether someone buys it or not is irrelevant. I’ll go the agent route, perhaps directly to publishers, but if those routes don’t work, the kids will thoroughly enjoy it. Hopefully!
  • I’m going to blog more often – keep my adult writing going and it’s a relatively cathartic process. I won’t be sharing to other platforms unless I feel it’ll benefit someone else.
  • I was given a one-line-a-day five year diary for Christmas and I’m keeping that going. It’s nice to summarise and helps with exercise goals (at the end of each line, I write “Did squats. Didn’t die.” It helps to remember I survived!). 
  • I’m keeping a book journal and trying to read as much as possible. It’s not easy with two young children, one of which is me incarnate. She’s a darling, but, god, does she have a temper. I’ve got myself a book stand to help me find my current book (a daily struggle with my 3 yr old being into everything) and have joined book clubs. Still looking for my first book, which I started one line of and then someone walked off with it.

Secondly, I’m going to try and do some work-from-home crap. Perhaps selling wedding stationery, which I seemed to have a knack for. I might do some editing, but it’s soul-destroying work and means I need complete quiet – an, as yet, unachieved status in this household. I dunno, I’ll find something. I have a nice new graphics tablet, so I’ll just spend some time reminding myself how utterly untalented at drawing I am.

I’m sounding upbeat and positive about this. It’s a necessity. If I let myself feel anything about this, I’ll drown. In reality, this is hard. This is really fucking hard.



I am not responsible for your newsfeed

I’ve recently had a ‘Facebook purge.’ This is not something I’m particularly good at, for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t like upsetting people, despite having a temper and occasionally going on an offensive rampage; I really don’t like the idea that what I say or do, could hurt someone. Secondly, I like to keep in touch with people from my past and I love Facebook for that specific reason.

Most would think my purge was due to the Parisian crisis and the ‘anti-refugee’ nonsense that is spreading through most of our newsfeeds. In truth, I was hurt a few days prior by someone, whom I had considered a friend. She posted a rather nasty and hurtful article about parents ‘arrogantly’ posting photos of their children.*

Now, I’m no fool. I don’t expect everyone to enjoy the constant stream of baby photos, to like every one of them or even to give to give them a second glance. What I do expect, however, is for my ‘friends’ to show a modicum of respect and intelligence.

Who the fuck are you to insist that I stop posting photos of my son, on my Facebook profile, because you don’t want children? Well, whoop for you. My posts in no way suggest that you should jump on the breeding bandwagon. In fact, by the sounds of it, you probably shouldn’t. I post stuff about my child, on my newsfeed, for my enjoyment, not yours.

Facebook has these fancy features, called ‘hiding,’ ‘unfollowing,’ ‘blocking’ and ‘unfriending.’ It may be hard for you to understand, but:

I am not responsible for your newsfeed and I do not expect you to be responsible for mine.

I have often been annoyed by people’s incessant posts of their children (21 photos showing a child holding a dead bird) or photos of their pets’ poop and so I have simply unfollowed them. Facebook has made it really simple for me to decide what appears on my newsfeed and so I choose to use these features – why is it so hard for you to do the same?

If you don’t like something that I post then hide it, unfollow me, block me or unfriend me. Frankly, I don’t care either way. It’s been a long time since those actions offended me. I understand that you’re not keen on your newsfeed being filled with photos of children, but understand that, whilst I have other aspects of life that interest me and I don’t define my personality by motherhood, nothing is more important to me than my son. My partner and my child are my everything and I love posting about them.

I post for other reasons – I have family and friends in South Africa that love to see photos of my son’s development and I love to have these memories pop up on my feed a year later – but mostly, I post because I want to.

*For my hypocrite and irony seekers out there (and there are many), I am aware that this too is a nasty and hurtful article.


The post-birth vagina: an exit route for manners

Motherhood is a never-ending lesson and, yet, I think most of what I’ve learnt since giving birth is not child-related at all, but a crude insight into what people can really be like.

Prior to falling pregnant, people seemed to mind their manners a lot more, but the post-birth woman lives in a league of her own. Since having John, I have received messages from people I barely have a passing acquaintance with, telling me the jumperoo he sits in is bad for him, what I’m feeding him is poisoning him, how he shouldn’t sleep with this type of blanket, he needs a bumper around his cot, his cot should NEVER have a bumper (are you trying to kill your child?!), I need to co-sleep, I shouldn’t co-sleep, breastfeed, bottle feed… I could go on.

The UK has gone completely overboard with their rules and regulations (understandably trying to save themselves from the inevitable law suits), but I can’t understand why mothers insist on terrifying other mothers with these over-the-top rules and clearly inferring that we have inferior parenting skills.

What on earth did we do before Google? I’m sure my parents fed me whatever they were having for dinner, and yet, Google today, and you’ll find a reason to ban all solids from your child’s diet until they’re 21. We have recently started introducing them to my 5 month old and, this week, we introduced him to strawberries and kiwi. The former resulted in a tantrum that lasted over an hour and the second resulted in him licking is own bib clean. Trying out new foods with your child is fun and exciting.

Not two minutes after posting his likes and dislikes, I receive a message telling me that strawberries can be deadly to an infant. In a panic, I Google and find out all the various ways my child will now suffer because of my ignorance. It was only when I went onto a mum’s group and asked the level-headed women there, did I find that most of them fed their children strawberries with no reaction whatsoever. Like anything, there is a chance of an allergic reaction, but the morbid, over-the-top warning that I received was pathetic and cruel.

I find it hard to understand why women automatically assume that child-birth gives them the right to inundate unwilling mothers with lectures, threats and warnings. It is rude and unnecessary.

Please do not assume that propelling a child from my uterus makes me an eager participant in your attempt at a power-trip.


How to speak to expectant mums – a guide for existing mothers

Following on from my previous post, I have decided to do a list of advice for mums on how to deal with pregnant women.

I’ve only been a mum for 9.5 weeks, so I claim no expertise, but I do understand where a lot of you come from. I’m not berating you, but just hoping that this post will help you to help others through their first pregnancies.  I’ll try make this as succinct as possible.

1. Listen.

Pregnancy to a first-time mum, is an incredible experience. Some may find it terrible, some may find it amazing, but most of us find it a roller-coaster of new experiences. A friend’s response to my pregnancy announcement was ‘congratulations on becoming a living science experiment,’ which is absolutely true. Every pregnancy is different and most women want to share that experience. It’s the biggest thing that’s happening in our lives at that time (if we’re lucky) and we may find it difficult to talk about anything else.

Expectant mums know that you know better, but what’s happening inside of us is huge. Let us experience that and tell you. I found it increasingly difficult to finish a sentence after announcing I was pregnant. I was constantly interrupted with unwanted advice or someone else’s pregnancy story. I remember one morning announcing that I felt like death. I wasn’t able to continue because I was interrupted with a lecture that started off with “Hah!  You think you feel bad now, wait until you’re 9 months pregnant.” I’m not exaggerating when I say that only a half hour later was I able to interrupt the tirade with ‘I feel like death…because I have a cold.’ 

It had nothing to do with pregnancy. Try to realise that you may know more about pregnancy and childbirth, but that sometimes, we just need to talk and you may not know what we’re about to say.

2. Wait until…

These words were incessant throughout my pregnancy. As I mentioned in the first post, you have experienced your first pregnancy, let us have ours. The tiny flutters you first feel when you start to feel your baby moving are possibly the most exciting thing that has ever happened to you. The last thing we want to hear is “wait until the kicks start, then you won’t be smiling.”

Some women experience intense round ligament pain. The appropriate response to this is not “wait until you give birth, then you’ll know what pain is like.”

Likewise for new mothers: what we feel when our little human grabs our fingers for the first time is indescribable. We don’t want to hear “Awww, wait until s/he gives you their first smile, then your heart will melt!” It’s melting now. Let us experience every second of this amazing journey, in the moment – not waiting for the next milestone to amaze us.

3. Horror stories (expectant mums please skip ahead)

Come on, guys. You know the drill – don’t bombard pregnant women with horrific child birth stories. You all know this, and yet, that’s all I seemed to hear when pregnant. We know it’ll be bad, we know we are completely unprepared, but your stories certainly won’t help us sleep at night.

I heard some doozies during pregnancy: blood on the ceiling, near-death experiences, stillbirths (Seriously? Mentioning miscarriages or stillborn babies around a pregnant women is completely unacceptable. I shouldn’t have to tell you this) and botched c-sections. I heard one positive birth story in the whole ten months.

I now understand where you’re coming from, having my own horror story. Part of healing after a trauma is talking it out of your system and birth can be extremely traumatic. Mine was and I talk about it all the time…to people who have been there before, or people who were there. I found myself retelling the story to a friend who hasn’t any children yet and I really regret this. She did ask and she was well aware it was a bad birth, but it’s still not something she should know. There are plenty of easy births that happen. On the day I gave birth, there were two women that I know well who gave birth to two healthy little boys, in under three hours. It’s not uncommon.

So, quit using pregnant women as your psychologists. Seek counselling and heal yourself properly – don’t spread the fear.

4. It’s still early

Three of the harshest words you could say to a pregnant woman. Does the fact that I’m only 7 weeks pregnant make my pregnancy null and void?

You are basically telling me that there is a high probability of me losing my child.


5. Sympathy goes a long way

As aforementioned, every pregnancy is different. Your round ligament pain could have been a light ache, whereas another women’s could land them in hospital. Don’t assume that the woman complaining about pain at 7 weeks pregnant is experiencing the same pain you experienced. Try to sympathise with her and realise that she isn’t being a hypochondriac; she, quite possibly, is in agony. I felt like I was being split in two when John started to move, as the adhesions caused by my endometriosis were literally tearing.

Morning sickness is not amusing. I remember rushing to the bathroom every hour and when  I returned with mascara running down my face and blood-red eyes, people would laugh. And yet, when someone came down with a bug and vomited once, there was endless parade of people ‘checking up’ on them. I felt isolated and as if my pain and discomfort were somehow less important than that of a non-pregnant woman.

Pregnancy doesn’t make it easier to deal with sickness, pain or discomfort.

Perhaps this wasn’t as succinct as I’d hoped. There are many other snippets of advice given to pregnant women (sleep while you can? What a joke.), but, in short, just try for a little compassion and put yourself in her shoes.

It is simultaneously the worst and most wonderful time in a woman’s life and it’s okay for her to feel that way.


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