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Peaches Geldof

1 May

I’m very sorry Peaches Geldof is dead. I know it’s not the done thing to criticise those who’ve died in tragic circumstances and nothing can allay the devastation brought on her family and friends of losing a close person at such a young age with such a young family but…
and it’s a big B.U.T… I’m fuming…. Why is she being given a free pass? As the news comes out this evening that her death is related to heroin I hear a ‘friend’ on Channel 4 News extolling her virtues as an advocate of attachment parenting and her promotion of gay marriage rights etc and asking us to “look beyond the manner in which she may have died”. What? Well excuse me if I don’t.
IF… (and please let’s hope it’s not the case) but IF, she was doing heroin in the house with a toddler present, why are we praising her parenting skills at all? How is this not being discussed or at least being flagged up as hypocritical? How is it, in fact, being totally ignored? It makes a complete mockery of real mums (and dads) working away at being good parents day after day after day after year after year. I gave up smoking when I was pregnant seven years ago and now ensure I don’t have my single-half- a-bottle-of-wine-a-night lifestyle, having swapped it for that dull recommended at least two days off a week regime and the rest. I drive more carefully, I cross roads at the right places and I try not to risk my life over stupid or superficial things, whilst still having a fulfilling life. I do this because I have the responsibility of being a parent. My children are young and I want to be around and know that they need me to be around for as long as possible, or at least while they are still growing up. Surely, no one could know this more than Peaches – the girl who lost her mother so young and is such a ‘wonderful example’ of an attachment parent.
I don’t get it. Her death is tragic yes, and clearly no one chooses to be addicted to anything, but let’s not eulogise this and make it something it’s not. Of course the poor woman would have been utterly devastated and traumatised by her own mother’s untimely death and she clearly did try to change into the life of domestic bliss (as if there is such a thing). But reporting like tonight– or the recent, totally uncritical, article in The Times of her attachment parenting – whilst right at the end noting, unchallenged by the journalist, that she has every weekend off as the kids went to her in laws – is just disingenuous to those of us who live in the real world.
It’s not easy and none of us get it 100% right 100% of the time but come on.

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The third baby – Time’s a ticking

8 Nov

And so it begins.

Just 4 months after my 40th birthday and swearing blind that I’ll never have another child, I can feel that tickety tock thing kicking off somewhere deep inside my ovaries. It’s a weird feeling. It’s totally irrational. We’re very lucky. We have a boy and a girl, both healthy, both happy. We’ve talked about it, having a third – but we don’t have the money – or inclination. That is, until now.

This summer was the first holiday we’ve taken since we started the baby-thon that we didn’t need to pack nappies or bring a push chair. We travelled lighter, went further, could eat later, stay out an enjoy a pizza at night with friends without total melt-downs. It was a watershed moment. The hubs and I exchanged smug glances of “that phase is over” here comes a brave new world.

Enter small cute newborn. And another. And another. It seems like fate is throwing them at me faster than my poor aged ovaries can produce eggs. My smallest ‘baby’ is nearly four. The infant I think I have is, in reality, a giant when compared to a newborn, full of willie waggling gestures, poo-rhyming songs and general jumping to which 4 year old boys are want. The newborn by comparison, sleeps a lot on a shoulder, is tiny, beautiful, perfect – and yet to form a personality which requires you to chastise, reprimand, commend or praise.

The placidity (word?) has an appeal in a world filled with chaotic 4 and 6 year olds – and whilst I must admit I’ve spent the last few years realising that I’m not an earth mother and enjoy children much more once they are able to communicate – I now look at these tiny sleeping angels and think – “I’d do better next time, this time I know not to get stressed, I know what to do, when and how to juggle it all. Maybe I’d actually get it right with number 3.”

So in creeps the doubt. They look so tiny, so harmless, so completely incapable of turning life upside down, inside out. How could that happen. Surely not. Tick tock.

 

It’s all about willies now

14 Oct

“Stop fiddling with your willie”,

“I don’t care if you like it when your willie is ‘strong'”

“No, you cannot show your teacher your ‘strong’ willie”

“Stop prodding your sister with your willie”

“Go on then, pee out the car, but don’t hit the door or drip into the car”

The ‘willie’ has become the focal point of my son’s world. He’s only 3. After two and a half years of oblivion, there’s fiddling, thrusting, humping, tweaking, pulling and general permanent touching. It’s incessant and nothing I say seems to be able to put a stop to it. Sentences I never thought I would have to say, such as the ones above, now come out on a regular basis… to no avail.

I know boys will be boys, but girls just don’t do this kind of thing (please don’t say they do!)  As a girl growing up with just a sister, I’m new to this whole willie-centric world of little boys but I’m learning it has its uses too. It’s not just all about the fiddle. This evening, sitting in the car in the pouring rain, J announces he desperately needs a wee but we’re five minutes away from home. “Can you hold it in darling?”

“No, mamma, really no,” comes the unwelcome reply. So with my mummy-quick-wits about me (but also a reluctance to get wet again), I pull over, stretch back, unclick his seatbelt and open his door with the infamous words, “Go on then, pee out the car, but don’t hit the door or drip into the car.”

A truly fine ‘mummy moment’ akin only to my slummy mummy NCT award, when I wiped up Ellie’s baby vomit with her baby-grow clad bottom, knowing that five minutes later it would be in the washing anyway – to the horror of all around me. I had unwittingly overstepped the funny-slummy-mummy to slummy-slummy-mummy grey line.

Just for the record, despite having to contend with Ellie and me dissolving into a mess of giggles whilst he ‘performed’, he managed it!

 

 

 

 

Turning psychotic neurotic means I need a job

13 Oct

Eeek! As I chastised my long-suffering husband for “wiping the crumbs off the granite in the wrong way” I realised I probably need to get back in the real world, get a real job and get a sense of perspective.

It’s not that I don’t work. I do. Not only do I do all the mumsy stuff: to-ing and fro-ing kids to school, swimming, back n’ forth from playdates and parties, I also do all the cleaning, shopping, cooking and even hold down the remnants of a sort of journalistic career.

So far, so average. But what’s tipped me over the edge I fear, is that after 3 years of working by myself, for myself, I’ve hit an impasse – not the first woman to do this by any means, but it’s hit me rather by surprise I must admit.

As my children slowly become embroiled in full time education, I’m left with the ‘freelance career’ that used to fill the gaps in between sporadic childcare, but which now seems an odd dead end. I’m lucky to get enough work to get by but not lucky (talented?!) enough to yet get a proper career from a column or book etc. So I find myself in unchartered waters career-wise. Quite odd for a girl who for the best part of the last 20 years has defined herself by her career – well in my own head at least.

So the psychotic neurotic temperament has slowly grown to the point where the poor old hubs gets short shrift for misplaced crumbs, the cleaning takes on a weird priority and daily meals become a focal point to fixate on conjuring up the perfect family scene.

To worry about or do these things is not in itself an issue of course, but to fixate on them is. The road to bored housewife must surely be paved with lack of fulfilment. Meaningful things to do where you feel valued for who you are in a professional capacity – not as a mum, cleaner, cook or wife – must be key to that.

So here begins the search for the next chapter in my life. Full-time mum, full-ish time worker. Lets’ see what happens. Any tips welcome.

Death becomes her but doesn’t become him

16 Apr

So Margaret Thatcher’s funeral is tomorrow. For all the iron lady stuff, political divisions and high emotions, an elderly woman has died. It is sad, but not tragic as she lived a full life (too full for some) and got to a ripe old age – as they say.

Today I learnt of my husband’s colleague who, aged 58, was killed this morning in a car accident. In a moment – his life was just gone in a flash, and the happiness of his wife and children destroyed and will never be the same.

In fact, his family’s lives will be defined by today. To be taken so suddenly, so young is the harshest blow. This first night without him, knowing he will never return but not comprehending how this will actually feel further down the line, because his clothes still smell of him, his things are still all around, is the cruellest blow.

I will never forget that disbelief and the tears of the first night without my father. As a friend once said – who had also lost their parents in sudden tragedies – welcome to the club no one wants to belong to. Although you learn to get on with life, a little bit of you dies and your heart will forever hold tears.

While others mourn for or riot over Thatcher tomorrow, my heart goes out to that family for his needless death will never make sense, while the untimeliness of it will forever rob them of not only the husband and father they loved, but the feeling of unbridled contentment and happiness.

Working 9-5 – it’s no way to make a livin’

28 Mar

I’m no Guido Fawkes, raging political commentator or even Dolly Parton (sadly) but it seems to me we really need to radically rethink the way both women and men work for the next generation.

Clegg’s latest suggested working mother benefit is tinkering around the edges pure and simple, with a grand here and a grand there.  It is just a distraction from the main event. We will never solve the problem of women returning to work after children unless the entire working culture is changed.

Clegg’s stab at it has enraged stay at home mothers as their hard work seems to’ve been ignored, while many working/career mothers would probably give the money up in a flash to have working life that was more sympathetic with their home life or more flexible hours, without damaging their career prospects.

The male dominated workplace –and its 9-5 culture – is the culprit and nothing else really matters before this issue is addressed. And it needs to be radically rethought. In this age of instant messaging, working from home, internet, skype etc, it cannot be beyond the wit of man (or women) for employers to embrace part time work properly once and for all. So that means accepting that many women – who are highly skilled in all sorts of areas – can do a serious job, but within the hours of 9.30am t0 3pm.

Let me take a step back. We all know that many women fall off the career cliff and there’s a dearth of estrogen at senior management and board levels. This is due in a large part to the child-rearing issue. Many women I know were heading up the ladder and doing very well, keeping up with men and doing better than men in many cases, before the babies arrived.

But now, five years later with our toddlers, pre-schoolers, and reception kids in tow, many of these ladies have gone back in some way shape or form to their former employers or to new jobs but in a smaller, more junior role – doing the grunt work and picking up the other projects that no one else wants to do, because at it’s safe, it’s something and it’s better than nothing.

But what a waste of a great talent pool. We are missing out on these excellent minds which have been well educated, learned from experience in the workplace, learned about life from becoming a mother – plus have often become much better multi-taskers and much better people managers in the process too.

If forward thinking employers could only look at women returning to work as assets and allow them to work around their family but in jobs that are at use their level of expertise– I would be very surprised if many were let down. It’s a bank of talent that’s waiting to be tapped and the first employers to do so will surely reap huge rewards.

We are not all Sheryl Sandeburgs. Many of us, myself included, just want interesting work that makes the most of all our skills, experience and knowledge, which is fairly paid, and that we can do while the children are at school.

It can’t be right that so many women to have to take huge backwards steps and accept lesser roles in order to try and achieve some semblance of work-life balance.

 

Stop Press: Easter is a RELIGIOUS festival… oh & btw so is Christmas

26 Mar

News Flash: So a Travelodge survey finds that half of all kids think Easter is about bunnies & chocolate. I’m not surprised.

I’m getting fed up with this constant pushing of treats to our children on religious festivals with barely – or any – mention of the god-connection.

In a world where (some) parents are trying really hard to convince their children that the whole world does not revolve around treats – either of the present or chocolate variety – these religious festivals are just becoming insane.

Christmas is about the birth of Christ, Easter marks the resurrection. It’s not complicated but it is Christian. As a Jew (loosely speaking) I want my children to learn about all religions and their significant dates – I fundamentally believe that this is the only way to break down barriers in the long term. Why can they not be taught this first and foremost in schools and nurseries, rather than the main event being the present or the food associated with it. It’s all completely back to front?

But more than that, in another way, the less we mark their religious significance, the more these events become solely centred around the commercial. So Christmas is now all about Santa, stockings full of presents and chocolates on the tree rather than baby Jesus, a stable, wise men etc. Similarly Easter is now solely about chocolate for many children. I have not heard my kids mention Jesus at all yet. My three year old’s Easter party this afternoon consisted of a tea and Easter egg hunt. He ate 2 sandwiches, 1 piece of sponge with chocolate icing, one chocolate nest, one chocolate biscuit, one chocolate bunny and some hot cross bun. Not a single mention of what Easter is really about. Seriously not one.

I’m fed up with it, not only does it engender religious ignorance, but it also undermines the healthy eating message we so desperately need to impart to our children and the ability to help them learn to make the right eating choices. Schools and nurseries providing food like this is not a treat – it is condoning this type of food in a child’s brain and as such is very damaging to ‘the main message’.

However although it probably sounds like it, I’m not a food-puritan  – I am happy for my children to have the odd bit of chocolate – but why should it always be the nursery or school who gives it – it’s only Tuesday and my kids have already had way too much chocolate than is good for them this week from school and nursery respectively.

Why should I not be the one able to spoil them on Sunday, once they have been taught at their various schools and nurseries what it is all about. The trouble is, if treats happen every day they become the norm and so not only lose their treat value, but also make our kids fat, spotty, moody, ill and sluggish.

Surely, it should be a parent’s prerogative to ‘treat’ their child if, when and how they choose – the fact that everyone else now feels this is the part of the festival to highlight means that by the time many parents get their turn, the kids should not be having those treats as it will be completely over-doing it.