Coming clean.

I read a post this morning which inspired me to write this. Beth’s honest post on why it’s okay if you don’t enjoy every minute of being a parent mainly focuses on the newborn phase, but I think it’s still relevant in this toddler phase. Every stage of being a parent has it’s challenges, at that moment that I opened the link, it just made me feel like I was not alone.


Mostly on this blog, I write about, and photograph the snippets of life that bring me joy. I sometimes write about parenthood and occasionally about Mum. Lately I’ve mainly being writing up my Happy Things lists and my instagram account reflects the same ethos. Why? Partially because we no longer have nap times and I’m too knackered in the evening to even think about anything else. But also, because I have to. I need to remind myself of those things because right now, I’m depressed. There. I said it*


Looking back on that first year of motherhood I can’t help experience a pang of regret. About all the ways I believe I failed my daughter, all the things I did wrong, the expectations I’d set for myself that were not achieved, the tears, the endless days at home alone, depressed, but unable to put it into words. I feel guilty about not enjoying it more (you *should* enjoy it, right?) I feel guilty about not being able to see the positives so clearly, because when I scan the photo library for evidence, there were some really fun times (albeit with unkempt hair and unwashed clothes). I began writing this blog (and simultaneously wearing red lipstick) as a catharsis, as a way to motivate myself to have things to write about (i.e. get out of the house), and as a way to have something positive to look back on. I wish I had started it much sooner, because, those early posts offer me some concrete evidence that it wasn’t all bad. Indeed, things got much better.


When I’m feeling low, I find it extremely difficult to write about anything apart from how rubbish I feel. So I blanket censor all of that stuff, because I worry about how family or friends might feel. I worry about the girl-child reading it one day and feeling upset or to blame. Frequently (daily), I wonder who my own mother really was – did she have these experiences? Is that why I get like this? Am I going to pass this on to my daughter? When I was about 8 years old, I saw my Mum through a crack in a door, crying. My Grandma was sat beside her, comforting her. I’d never seen my Mum cry before. To my knowledge she was the life and soul of the party, always encouraging me to get involved and make the most of life. As an adult, I miss her in every possible way. I miss her stories and I crave to know more about her. One of the reasons I began to write was to cope with losing my Mum in those early months. One of the reasons I kept writing was in case I died young and left any future children clueless as to what their mother thought, felt and experienced in life. So, I am going to try harder to write more honestly. I think it’s important for myself, my daughter, and for any struggling parent who (like I once did) stumbles across a blog post looking for some hope, some solidarity.

We are not alone.

*It’s like Voldemort. He whose name shall not be mentioned. Only the more I say it, the better I feel. Duh. Obvs, innit.


Happy Rose Sunday!

(For tomorrow, of course… Don’t anybody say I’m not ahead of the game, oh no!)

For years I bucked against Mothers Day (and Father’s Day and Valentines Day et al) on the grounds that it was just an over-comercialised money making opportunity for fat cats. Then I became a mother, and now I get it. What it really means. (Also, how bad was that of me to not get it before. Sorry Mum and Dad.) I don’t mean I get how lovely it is to get cards and flowers and stuff, or that I wasn’t grateful before. But now I really get how important it is to feel that all the dirty mothering you do, the daily grind, all that being a mother involves – literally, the blood sweat and tears, is recognised.


In the spirit of self-love I want to celebrate this part of myself which although I found incredibly difficult to settle into. I want to celebrate the fact that, yes, I am doing a pretty good job. It’s no underestimation to say, I think it’s been the making of me (who’d have though it?)


Mothering Sunday is traditionally a Christian celebration which began around the 17th Century. It was the second Sunday in Lent and it was an opportunity to celebrate the “mother church” and for families to come together to be with their families. It had also been known as Simnel Sunday or Refreshment Sunday in recognition of the traditional Easter cake which may have been baked, and a lessening of lenten austerity in celebration of fellowship and family. My favourite alternative name though, is Rose Sunday, for the posies of wild flowers that would have been collected by people as they travelled home and then presented to all women in the church congregation. I can just imagine the churches festooned with beautiful spring flowers. I love that the flowers would have been given to all the women in the congregation too. You don’t need to have birthed a baby to be able to Mother somebody. Sisters, aunties, friends and neighbours all contribute to childcare in communities here and around the world. And what adult woman has not cried upon the shoulder of a friend when their own mother was far away or no longer with them?


Finally, I’ve been feeling recently, that all the residual teenage cynicism has left me feeling a bit bereft of celebrations in life and I intend to change that! So, any festival that is essentially based on family, cakes and flowers has got to have a big thumbs up from now on!

Thank you to all the Mums who have mothered me. You know who you are, you beautiful bosomed creatures! X

I’d love to know if you celebrate Mother’s Day, and if so, how will you express your thanks this weekend? Do you celebrate your just own mother or “other mothers” who have been a big part of your life? Leave comments below!

The Longest Journey


“… a mother’s journey [is] a ‘letting go’ process. But in a sense, she never really let’s go, and can never quite return to the woman she was. Once she opens herself to her child, something within her stays open. She has changed profoundly and for her whole life.”

– Naomi Stadlen What Mothers Do


On twits.

Two horrible happenings came to my attention this week. First, Stan Collymore appeared on the Today show talking about the racial abuse he has been subjected to by Twitter users. During the interview, several Tweets were rolling in, amazingly, to a similar vein. I had a look on my phone and could not believe what I was reading. Later the same day, Alice Judge-Talbot posted a link on Facebook which explained what happened when Beth Tweddle featured on Sky Sports for a live interview. Viewers were asked to Tweet their questions using the hashtag #sportswomen. Again, as I clicked through the explanatory slideshow,  I was pretty amazed at the tirade of sexist comments, and not in a good way. Some of the tweets were downright violent in their nature, one twit even posting a picture of Jimmy Saville along with their obnoxious tweet, carrying with it all the vile connotations of that mans hideous acts of violence and abuse.

I have only recently discovered Twitter, and for the most part, I really enjoy the immediacy of the medium. I have discovered a host of new blogs, connected with some of my favourite bloggers and broadcasters, and several fantastic campaigns have been brought to my attention.  I love not only how democratic and fun it can be but also a potent force for good. So I was really saddened to learn of theses examples of abuse, which, as Stan Collymore pointed out, would be illegal if they occurred in ‘real life’. Call it naiveté, call it optimism, but I found it all really shocking and I couldn’t stop thinking about it all day. (God only knows how it feels to be on the receiving end like Stan and Beth and so many others.) As Jane Garvey said on the piece Womans Hours did on it, it’s the ‘bare faced cheek’ of these people that is astounding. How many of these twits would voice their comments out loud, directly to Stan and Beth, surrounded by even a small crowd of men and women, never mind millions of other people?

Earlier this month, two trolls were jailed for sexist abuse and threats directed at feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez and Stella Creasy MP. This week, Twitter has introduced a new ‘report tweet’ button for reporting abuse, and says it will act when content is against their rules, or breaks the law. The question is – with such a huge volume of content, will they be able to act quick enough? On a separate but related issue featured on Newsnight this week, Stella Creasy magnificently asserted that far from victims of abuse needing to learn to ‘man-up’, the behaviour of the culprits must change. It’s not okay to treat another person that way and as humans we need to stand up to that behaviour and demonstrate that its unacceptable. I hope that any potential perpetrators are dissuaded from irresponsible and offensive Twittering by the outcome of the Perez case.


Mothering without a mother

This time last year, my daughter started to arrive. It was another three and a half days until she finally emerged (I know, not fair, right? I was pooped.) So I’m sure all mamas will empathise when I say I’m in a reflective mood. If not downright tearful (Thanks BBC for showing ‘Up’ last night “We’re on an adventure too, aren’t we?” *snivels and sobs*) Becoming a mother is the bomb. It’s the best, most life-changing, topsy-turvy maddening kind of wonderstuff that ever did kick me up the backside. Naturellement,  thoughts turn to my own parents, and to my experience of becoming a mother, without my Mum to show me the ropes.


In a nutshell, it’s blimmin’ hard. My Mum died in 1995 when I was just 16. My partners Mum, with whom we were both extremely close, died two years ago. Having lost mine such a long time ago, and truly, walked a really long path to acceptance, I thought that I was used to dealing with life’s events without her by now. But this year, I have missed her more than I have in a long time. Of course I think about her every single day, but there are times, when I just need her to be here. I feel sad for my daughter, that she will never know the two most marvellous women that any child could hope to call Grandma, and I feel heartbroken for the Grandma’s that they never got the chance to be. Especially the Yorkshire Grandma, for she never had a daughter of her own, and while she treated me and my sister in-law like daughters, this would have been so very special for her. I think there would have been a very unique bond there.

The days and weeks following the birth were exceptionally difficult for both of us. I needed a woman (either of the mum’s would have sufficed), and Mister felt the grief for his mother more acutely, and more charged by the bittersweet joy of our beautiful little daughter. I have since read that one of the factors in the incidence of post-natal depression is the absence of a female support in the days and weeks immediately post birth. Somebody to support both new parents, somebody to nurture and pass on wisdom about caring for they new life, and offer reassurance. I didn’t want to admit that it was a factor for us, mainly I didn’t want to seem like I was letting it defeat me. But as any new parent knows, no amount of reading, or being around other new parents can prepare you for the enormity of becoming a new parent yourself, not least doing it in the absence of a mother.

And there are the practical things. Mum’s (women?) don’t ask what need doing- they just come in and get on with it. In short, women like to interfere, and this is one time, that we could have really done with some intefering mothers!

I wish I could ask the Mums what it was like for them. How do you schedule everything that needs doing and still find time not to go mad. How did you cope with the change in role, from working woman to mother and housewife? What did you feed us? What was the birth like? How did you feel about your body after the birth? Shall I let her cry or go to her? What was I like at this age? What songs did you sing for us? What games did we play? Who looked after us when you went out? Some of these questions are directly related to my parenting quandaries of the moment, others are simply a sharing of a story. When I was in my mid-teens and our relationship was strained, she told me she ‘lost’ her mother from being a teenager, and only ‘found’ her again when she became a mother herself.  So those stories deepen the bond between mother and daughter and may also be the lifeline and the building blocks that save it. (Strangely, even though it was over ten years after she died, I felt I’d found my Mum again several years ago, when I was in my late twenties, so I don’t feel I’ve missed out on any reconciliation. I wrote about it here)

I sometimes feel a bit like I stick out like a sore thumb around other new Mums and the things that they have absorbed from their mothers, are missing from my consciousness. Now I think about it, that’s probably another reason why I feel so out of place in the baby-baby groups that I’ve avoided for so long. When we first brought our daughter home, we didn’t know what to dress her in – it sounds silly, but we took her to an appointment at the hospital, just a few days old, and the midwife said “Has she not got a fleecy suit or some blankets?! She’ll catch her death!” We had under dressed her for the cold weather – we just hadn’t thought of it. We explained to several midwives over those first few weeks “there are no Grandma’s, we don’t know what we’re doing.” Half apologising, half appealing for help. All were sympathetic, but ultimately unhelpful in the game of parenthood we found ourselves in. I cringed to hear the words coming out of our mouths, because surely we are not the first nor will we be the last to be in this situation, and after all, we have so much to be thankful for compared to some new parents.

This feeling of absence will endure, that much I have come to know over the years. There will always be questions unanswered. A part of my brain that had always been reserved for those stories, will remain blank. Fear not, though. My heart fills up every day, more than I ever thought possible, with this new mother daughter relationship I find myself in.


Last Advent…

lomo bump

…I was heavily pregnant with my first baby. *sighs* I loved being pregnant. Once past that first trimester, where my biggest fear (apart from my baby growing healthily) was that I would never regain my appetite and I would become forever enshrined in that state of gastronomic fussiness that I find so irksome in others. Cream cracker anyone? Crisp butty? Cornflakes? Mmmm yes please! Garlicky anchovy based pasta sauce…. Bleugh!

Then came the second trimester, when I emerged from the nausea and tiredness and started to feel BLOODY GORGEOUS! My hair, my skin, my serene contentment. Well, maybe the last one is a stretch… this was the era of “the master list”. Ten pages of A4 of lists divided in various categories of our life, subdivided in to quick jobs and massive jobs, and using a colour coded series of red and green biro wiggly lines and yellow highlighter pens  to annotate and highlight the tasks’ relative importance. In short, I thought our life, wait, no… The world was ending and we had to complete everything before December the 1st. I was pretty obsessed with it. Poor Mister had an endless stream of jobs, large and small to complete. I did my share too – erecting shelves in the airing cupboard all by my pretty self (tongue firmly in cheek, just in case you are wondering – I totally rock a tool belt). My bump started to emerge and I noticed women looking down at my belly and smiling at me. The shift to maternity clothes I also loved – I purchased a few items from ebay, and inherited a couple from friends. I was out of my tight fitting boring wardrobe, and into things I wouldn’t usually wear for everyday, but with limited choice I had to. So I felt fabulous. We even squeezed in a holiday (obviously this was numero uno on the list), which was totally marvellous. I learned I was great at delegating and selling stuff on Ebay. Thanks pregnancy.

Then came the third trimester. Suddenly the list was thrown into doubt. The tiredness returned like an unwanted hypnotic spell. I had to pace myself, but I felt more able to put things in perspective again (with the list). Work had slowed right down, (as per the plan set out in the list) and I was able to just be pregnant. I reflected even then, that this was the healthiest, happiest and most positive I had felt in years. I was proud of myself for growing this mobile little creature inside me. Yes, I was tired, breathless and my back ached, but I felt strong and capable and so excited to meet the child inside me. By this time last year… I was on leave. The list was complete. The Christmas shopping was done. There was only the cake and the house to decorate, a few social engagements to attend. I was ready. The due date was the 19th December, but I remember waking up on the 1st December and thinking… it could happen TODAY! And the 2nd, 3rd… Unfortunately the little chicken was nice and cosy for another month, but that’s another story.

So Advent, with all it’s spicy scents, pretty lights and cosy fires will always feel extra special to me. It will always remind me of that very special time in my life so full of peace, hope and joy x

Me and the Countryfile Christmas special projected onto my bump. And why not…?
Me and the Countryfile Christmas special projected onto my bump. And why not…?