Saturday, 12 October 2013

Turd Rant

My first job today was to clean up dog turd.

What sheer unadulterated joy.

Ten minutes into a lovely walk yesterday my son trod in a turd. About three seconds after treading in the aforementioned turd, he had a strop, caused entirely by the turd, inasmuch as we had to stop having fun feeding the ducks in order to deal with the turd.

No two year old in their right mind wants to stand still by a lake full of ducks while they have bread in their hands just so that their mum can remove a turd from their shoes, and so the turd migrated, via the medium of a tantrum, to his trousers, to my hands, to the buggy and to the rain cover.

We walked home, a sorry, turdish state. Or rather I walked home pushing a buggy containing a very miserable child.

And a turd.

Upon arriving home I set about the task of removing turd covered clothing and cleaning turd covered skin. I abandoned the turd covered buggy, rain cover and shoes in the garage and tried to cheer up my disappointed child.

Alas, my turd covered buggy and my son's turd covered shoes are key components in our daily lives and they could not be ignored forever, and so armed with a bucket and sponge I set about removing this turd from our lives altogether.

Whilst deturdifying my buggy I had time to compose a message in my head to the owner of the dog whose turd my son came into direct contact with. It goes something like this:

"You utterly selfish revolting and hideous human being.

You are a lazy, antisocial cretin with no consideration for others with whom you share your community. It is not okay to leave turds where people can stand in them, least of all children who might think "oooh, what's that" and scoop a bit in their hands to make a mud pie, or who might kick a football right through it and then head that ball, or who might simply just stand in it with really thick tread shoes.

Maybe, like me, you don't like the idea of cleaning up turds. In which case my friend, the solution is simple. Do not own a dog.

Perhaps I should allow my son to crouch down in front of your front door and return the favour. Or maybe I should empty the contents of his nappy bin outside your house.

Or should I just walk up to you and punch you in the face with my turd covered hands? I'm pretty sure a jury of my peers would totally understand.

Please, next time, just take a second to think about all the places that turd might end up. And then do the decent thing and clean it up.

You knob."

There, I feel a bit better now.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013


I'm messing with the plasticine even though my son has moved on to playing multi-story car park with the television stand.   There is an actual toy multi-story car park that we paid good money for less than a meter away from him, but never mind.

I'm busy making a pizza with the red, yellow and green bits when I sense a quietness come over the room. I look up to see Brendan standing stock still, knees slightly bent, a car in each hand.  His face is turning peuce as he braces himself.

I sigh quietly.

"Are you doing a poo poo?" I ask.

He smiles and points to his crotch.

"A doo doo," he confirms and goes back to his game.  The smell hits me.  Oh dear Christ!

I sigh again, more deeply this time, and rue the fact that my husband isn't here to negotiate with.

"Come on then," I jump up, "let's change your nappy."

No response, although the fleeting sideways glance suggests he understands me very well.

"Come on, upstairs, clean bum!"

I take him by the wrist and his whole body goes limp and then squirms in protest, releasing more of the offending odours.  Oh sweet Jesus that's bad!

He pulls this way and that as I pick him up and take him upstairs.  My eyes water.

He's calm now and so I set him down on the floor of his room as I prepare for a shocker: extra wipes, oh and a spare vest... just in case...

While my back is turned he has spotted the books on the shelves.  I hear the armchair creak and spin round to find him standing near its edge, wobbling precariously as he reaches up.

"ON YOUR BOTTOM!!" I cry, my standard instinctive response to his current furniture climbing phase, only this time I regret it instantly as he launches himself backwards onto his full bum with a resounding thud. He's safe, but at what cost to his nappy's defences?

I lay him on the changing table as he looks up innocently.  He hums Twinkle Twinkle to himself as I prepare myself for Armageddon. It doesn't disappoint.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Daybreak at the mothership

My eyes are sealed shut and I sense the movement of his warm little body as he starts to stir. He moves a quarter turn as he squirms, his feet in my rib cage, his head in his dad's armpit, making his grumpy morning noises as if someone is forcing him to wake up. I assure you, no one is!

I can see daylight through my eyelids but I cling to the hope that he'll drop back into sleep, although this has never happened before.

His movements grow as he flips onto his belly and then up on to all fours. He turns round, kicking me in the chin and using his dad's face to steady himself.  I know this because I hear the grunt from my husband.

A shadow looms over me and I feel a string of wetness land softly on my cheek: his dribble. I know he's watching my face closely for signs of life.

I open my eyes and he smiles in delight as he pushes up on to his knees.

"Eyo lully" he says. I can't help smile too even though I see 5.30am on the clock.

"Hello Brendan". Not much more than a croak.

In an instant his knee is in my groin and his sharp little elbow stabs my boob as he crawls over me. I steady him as he swivels round to jump down from the bed with a quiet thud.  I've shut my eyes again.  My husband has gone back under.

The duvet shifts as he searches under it to find my hand. He grips my fingers in his hot little fist and I open my eyes again. Pointing to the stair gate he starts pulling at my arm with an insistent moan.

"Okay okay, I'm coming".

I throw on a jumper and he holds my hand as he counts his way down the stairs.  We turn into the lounge, his face lighting up as he beelines for the toy garage.  Always his first port of call.

I stagger to the kettle, yawning.

And so our day begins.

Monday, 20 May 2013

The world is my coffee table

I see his expression change as it dawns on him that I'm actually going to stop him from standing on the coffee table.  What a dreadful mother!  Climbing onto furniture is ace, right?  So why on earth would I ruin his whole life like this? Tsk, where's that Childline number when you need it?

His little face shifts from triumphant wonder to confusion to utter desolation in as many beats as I stand over him wearing my stern face.

His first strategy is to squeeze his arms as close to his body as possible so that I can't get my thumbs under his armpits.  I suppress a smile at this stubborn pose and manage to wedge them in somehow.  Foiled, he resorts to the "dead weight drop", relaxing every single muscle in his body at once (except for his vocal chords) to plummet directly towards the sharp corner of the table.

But I'm ready for him.  I brace myself and hold him firmly around the chest with both hands. Outmanoeuvred again, he opts for the "twist-twist-scrunch" followed by a quick "plank of death" and finishes his salvo with the "ball of fury".  He nearly breaks free but I hold fast and lift him from the table. He senses defeat but tries one last "plank" and head butts me in the face.  

He reaches a vocal crescendo that ebbs away to silence as his lungs run out of air.  I carry him away from his Everest, face frozen in his wail until a deep breath is sucked in to prepare for another tsunami of sound.

The only place to put him is on the floor and so I lay him down gently taking care he doesn't bang his head. He kicks me in the boob.

I go to the kitchen to seek refuge in a cup of tea.   His sobs die down to nothing and I sneak a peek into the room.  He's pointing out of the window and sees me looking.

"Tree!" He shouts with glee! "TREE!"

And with that the coffee table is forgotten.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Plane Spotting

"Lay!!!" shouts Brendan, almost falling over himself as he comes to an abrupt stop in the middle of the zebra crossing. He's pointing to the sky.  "LAY, LAY," he screams in delight while I manhandle him to the pavement.

I crane my head upwards while he jumps up and down, his finger pointing desperately.  "LAY, LAY, LAAAAAYYYY!!!!"

At last I see the plane, its tiny fuselage glistening in the distance, a small shape in the sky that his hawk-eye spotted easily.  If he wants to be a pilot one day, I'm pretty sure he'll pass with twenty twenty vision.

We continue towards the park:

"Dar!" He points at a car.

"Dar!" He points at another car.

"Axi!" He points at a taxi.

"Dar!" He points at a bus.

My son, who can tell the difference between a car and a taxi, but not between a car and a bus. I smile.

I pop him in the swing and start to push.

"Loon!!!" He exclaims.  I look around trying to figure out what he's telling me.

"LOON!!!"  He looks at me for confirmation. I'm stumped.

And then I see a crescent in the sky, the thin sliver that I showed him the day before.

"Moon," I say. "Yes, that's the moon. Well done Brendan."

We carry on swinging and I see a group of teenage boys just outside the playground. One spits.  Another has his hands in his pants cupping his privates.

I look back at my son and wish he could be this age forever.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

A Mother's Day Muse

I've been doing this mothering malarkey for nearly eighteen months now.  Before Brendan was born I had so many ideals about what sort of mum I would be, and what I would and wouldn't do.  Here are just a few of them that might make you smile.  

1.  I'd have my baby in a lovely birthing pool with maybe just a drop or two of lavender oil and a touch of arnica (you know, just in case).  I'd listen to the playlist I'd put together on my iPod called "birth chill".  My child would float up to the surface and break through the water all perfect and lovely. The midwives would tell me how remarkably composed I'd been throughout and I'd be discharged just a few hours later.  I'd go home looking serene and calm.  

2.  Breast feeding would be a life affirming experience. I'd be a natural and so would my baby.  Of course it wouldn't hurt at all, I mean why would it? Oh, and I'd never, ever use formula.

3.  I'd be running again within three months of giving birth.  I'd lose the baby weight within six.

4.  My son would sleep through the night by the time he was four months old. I'd try not to be smug.

5.  I'd take the opportunity to write a novel while on maternity leave.

6.  I'd bake every day.  In fact I'd really indulge in my love of cooking and have amazing and diverse food ready for when Dave came home from work.  Having a baby wouldn't impact on our sex life, either.  I mean my body confidence would be tip top and he'd sleep so well, right?

7.  I'd do up the flat while my baby napped.  I'd learn to sew and make matching curtains and cushion covers for our bedroom.  I'd also make most of my baby's clothes and maybe a dress or two for me.

8.  I'd buy reusable nappies and only ever use disposable ones on long journeys.

9.  I'd dig the camera out and take experimental photos of London while my baby slept in a sling.  I'd win photo competitions with my amazing shots.  People would look on in admiration.

10. I'd never have cause to feel guilty as I would balance everything perfectly and would never doubt myself. 

11. My child would never watch children's television.

Funny, right?

But while maybe only the tiniest hints and suggestions of the above ever actually came to pass, I don't think I'm a lesser mum for it... just a very different one than I'd envisaged back in those naive pregnant dreamy days.

Happy Mother's Day you mothers! Pats on the back all round don't you think?

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Here comes the Sun

Yesterday I felt the sun on my back and had that feeling that we all experience when we sense its warmth for the first time. Whatever you're doing, whether rushing to get somewhere, taking the bins out or strolling round the park, it makes you pause for just a second and go "oh!" in pleasure.

If you're on our own you'll just smile and turn your face up to the sun. If you're with someone you'll probably say something like "ooooh, Spring's just around the corner now!" You might even get a bit carried away and take off your coat before putting it straight back on again as soon as you're in the shade. It's not that warm after all!!!

But for parents with toddlers this moment carries extra significance on one major level that impacts our day to day lives in the most fundamental way: leaving the house with your child stops being the most giant ball-ache ever!!!

Because the simple act of weather proofing your child is one of the most difficult, stressful and frankly exhausting aspects of parenting. And here's why:

Just before you are about to put your child's wet weather onesie on he grows at least three more pairs of limbs. He also chooses to keep these limbs in perpetual motion, moving them as if he's doing head shoulders knees and toes while dancing to Gangnam Style all after eating the bag of Haribo you thought you'd hidden really well. You'll then play the really fun game of "I put your hat on, you take it off again" for at least five minutes before trying to get both mittens on simultaneously so that he can't pull the first one off before you get the second one on.

By this time you'll be so hot and sweaty that you'll need a glass of water, which you'll drink while he stands by the front door screaming to be let out. You'll rush round grabbing snacks and drinks and then look frantically for your door keys (which are always in your pocket aren't they?). You'll put on your own coat, hat, scarf and gloves and then you're finally ready to go... at which point your child looks at you innocently while he fills his nappy with a giant poo.

And so yesterday I felt the sun on my back, and I said "oh!" And then I said, "thank fuck for that!"

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Soul Food

I am a little hungover!  In ordinary circumstances this would be an utterly horrific prospect, as we all know that hangovers and toddlers should never ever mix!  (They're a bit like matter and antimatter in that respect.)  Which is why I'm pleased to tell you that Brendan and I are currently 34 miles apart!  He's at home playing with Brio and his dad, and I'm sat around a fabulous kitchen island somewhere in Ascot nursing an effervescent multivitamin drink!

This weekend has been in the diary for some time, with the words "do not double book" underlined in red.  It's a sort of pre-hen weekend, which sounds rather indulgent, but why the hell not?  For one reason or another my school friends can't make the official weekend of gallivanting and so what better excuse to have a warm up can there be?

We all headed to my friend's place, after she'd packed off the hubby and kids to the inlaws for the night.  We popped some bubbly and so began and evening of catching up, laughing and reminiscing.  Oh and somersaults, but we'll gloss over that...

At 10pm I succumbed to a terrific yawn that seemed to originate from my very soul.  My friend looked up with concern and I waited for her to insist I go to bed immediately and make the most of a night away.

"Laura", she said instead, "we are NOT going to bed at ten!"  She looked around the flagging group. "Right, that's it.  We're going out!!!"

"Out???" I exclaimed. "You mean outside out?"

We all looked at her with barely concealed fear.

"Yes, outside out.  There's a club by the station.  Get your shoes on girls, let's see what it's like!"

"Oooh," we started warming to the idea, "yes let's go out.  Remember when we used to do that? But I haven't been out for ages, and I'm wearing snow boots with pom poms. Will they let us in? Are we too old? Surely we're too old to go out?"

And so we went out, to a somewhat ropey club by a station (you can just imagine, right?)  The bouncer let us in free of charge, we downed a shot (classy) and launched ourselves at the empty dance floor.

We did the best we could with what we were given.  The DJ had a penchant for "garage" (or were we just in someone's garage?) which doesn't lend itself well to a bunch of vodka fuelled women in their late thirties who'd probably do better with a bit of Madge or Duran Duran.  But we regressed quickly to the good old days, and danced for a solid three hours.  And while as each hour passed I rued the loss of a good night's sleep, the belly laughs, the retro-chic moves and the drunken walk home holding hands and giggling more than made up for it.

Old friends, music and dancing... Maybe not restful but food for the soul nonetheless...

Saturday, 26 January 2013

My Hero

Sitting here at 6am, and I'm already an hour and a half into my day, courtesy of an extra-super-special early wake up call from Brendan - aw, thanks son!

Anyway, as my semi-human, gargoyle-esque form is huddled on the sofa, hoodie up over my head, sock shop heat holders on my feet, and a cup of industrial strength tea slowly working its warming way into the depths of my sleep-deprived soul, I can't help but thank the special man in my life for his continued support during these trying times:

Fireman Sam.

For his teeny tiny retro stock animated self is doing what I am struggling to do right now: entertaining my child. And not only is he a super-amazing-fabulous babysitter, but his community spirit is endless as he pushes Fire-Fighter Penny round Pontypandy in a charity bed-push before rescuing the sponsorship money from Bella's bonfire. (Oh Bella, how I love your italian accent).

I think we could all learn from him. Pontypandy is full of half-wits and morons (a Canadian mountain ranger who causes avalanches by laughing, for example) and yet he goes about rescuing them all from mountain wells, broken ladders and burning bins (ooooooh!) without completely losing his rag and transferring to Cardiff Fire Service in a huff!

So I'd like to dedicate this entire blog to him. He's cool and calm and always there for me (at the touch of my Sky Plus button). Fireman Sam, you really ARE the hero next door!

Friday, 18 January 2013

A Stolen Moment

I want to get Brendan's haircut. We've only trimmed it once and it was one of those DIY "bowl cut" classics that we each have pictures of from our own childhoods. It also really wasn't very much fun at all, and so today when we heard that swimming was cancelled, I decided to take him to a barbershop that had been recommended to me by a couple of local mums.

Brendan doesn't have a nap until well into the afternoon and so I hoped that setting off straight after breakfast would mean I'd catch him at his brightest, and subsequently there would be less screaming, howling and general trashing of the place.

As we approached the barbers I peeked into the buggy to find him out like a light, completely sparko, despite him sleeping through the night for the first time in weeks. This NEVER happens. Brendan could have the most disrupted night's sleep on record and still keep going, like an irritable Duracell bunny, until gone lunchtime.

To be honest I have come to rely on that, to make sure we're home for his nap time so I can do my chores in peace and then enjoy a little bit of "me-time" with a cuppa. Ask any mum or dad: "me-time" is the Holy Grail of parenthood and there are days I'd gladly swap a kidney for just five minutes more.

At first I was thrown and more than a little miffed that I'd be losing out later. "Nooooooooo!" I thought with increasing hysteria. "When am I going to find my P60? What about the ironing? I need to book Brendan's appointment with the ENT specialist! AND WHAT ABOUT MY "ME-TIME" FOR CRYING OUT LOUD???"

Then I realised my son had given me a little gift. If we were at home right now I'd be up to my elbows in laundry and admin while Brendan snoozed away unawares. Instead, I'm seeking refuge from the snow in the Hilton lobby with a lovely pot of English Breakfast, some posh biccies, chillout music and my iPad. Bliss.

Keep sleeping, Son!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Welcome to the Mothership

It has been over fifteen months since my son Brendan was pulled and dragged into the world in the early hours of a surprisingly warm September morning. Fifteen of the most amazing, terrifying, fulfilling, and frankly mental months of my life.

When I was pregnant I planned to keep a diary of my experiences of motherhood.  I imagined myself sitting at the dining table with my new-born swaddled in a Moses basket next to me. I'd be sipping a hot mug of tea (decaf obviously) whilst pouring my thoughts and feelings into my laptop like a little stream of precious nectar.  My baby would coo and snuffle.  I'd look at him and smile, and he'd gurn a gummy smile back before closing his eyes and falling into a perfect sleep.

Okay, okay, you can all stop laughing now.

Because as it turns out motherhood is really rather hard. At the beginning you're lucky if you manage to find your way out of your "at home clothes", which to be honest barely fit you anyway.  Later, when sleep deprivation has a firm grip on you, you can't even fill in a repeat prescription form at the doctors, let alone string together a sequence of words that forms a coherent and meaningful sentence.  Leaving the house just once a day becomes a goal, rather than a matter of course.

You and your partner will communicate in monosyllables... that's when you remember to communicate at all.  Eventually a fault line will give and you'll have the most phenomenal argument about breadcrumbs and kitchen worktops and you'll throw slices of toast at each other before slamming some doors and waking up the baby you've just spent three hours trying to get to sleep.

And so my laptop gathered dust (along with everything else in the flat) while I focused on  coping, and as the weeks and months passed I coped better and better.  I got into my stride a little, tackled the cleaning (every now and then), the laundry (every damned day) and ventured forth with Brendan into the big wide world of baby sensory groups and NCT coffee mornings.

I met some amazing women and recognised the same look on their faces as on my own. I laughed with them, cried with them and on a couple of occasions got blind drunk with them.  We all coped together, convening throughout the week to share our daily anxieties and joys.

Fast forward fifteen months and here I am on a train to the office.  I work part time now and have re-entered the real world relatively successfully.  And still I've yet to write a single word about it all.  Until now.

And so I hope you enjoy my musings, little snippets of my new reality.  If you've got kids I hope you find something to relate to. If you haven't yet, probably best to ignore everything I say... It's a doddle, really!