This Muma Went To Court…

“I sentence you to 10 years imprisonment… Take him down!”
I shit you not, real life judges actually utter those words. Not just the ones off the telly box! Obviously those amongst us that have ever graced a court will be familiar with the Netflix-esq setting and those loaded setentenses which go hand in hand with the slightly overdone wood panelling. 

I on the other hand,I am ‘just a mum’. I’ve never received the golden ticket calling me up for jury duty (as much as I have willed that summons to drop through the letter box – especially in those early years of motherhood. A legitimate break from Mumming? Yella.) I have never been naughty enough to find myself in the goldfish bowl of a dock, and never has it ever occurred to me to exercise my right to witness justice being done, to pop along to our local court and take a pew. 

Until now of course. 

Part of my journalism training is based around court room reporting. Basically learning what you can and can’t write. Pretty crucial as a little slip up could see this muma enjoying a child free break on the inside… (However tempting that might be during my kids’ rabid slagging matches mostly thanks to multiple Sylvanian family custody battles). 

Well I wasn’t going to wait until our class were escorted to a magistrates court for a speeding find or the like. I thought I’d go in big guns: so last week I headed over to Crown Court. 
Bold, right?!

This posed a number of issues; smart clothes were suggested on the website so I dug out my funeral coat and decided that putting on lip gloss was fundamentally ticking that ‘smart’ box. 

The Crown court in our town has been there since the year dot. Wondering if I looked more Crim or barrister I asked the kindly security guards where I might find the ‘menu’ for the days proceedings. (Menu?! This isn’t the sodding Harvester! Why did I say that?! Running order, list, itinerary! Any of those would have better helped mask the blaitnet imposter syndrome plastered all over my face). 
Anyway, I chose a court after being given the options like I was ordering a fry up:

 “Well there’s a murder starting in Court A, a Sexual assault in court B, and if your quick you’ll catch the beginning of the rape trial in C!”
Christ. 
Proper baddies, sorry, alledged baddies, were everywhere. 
On the other side of what can only be described as the BFG’s mahogany double door was one of the most elaborate court room movie sets I’ve ever seen. Men in wigs, dark wood panelling, ladies in wigs, a Judge, capes, and a mahoosive glass dock right in the middle of it all. With an alledged baddie inside.
This is probably the right time to tell you that I love drama. A drama magnet if you will. I love nothing more than ‘information sharing’ with my friends, and getting the inside scoop on anything I can. 
Suddenly here I was, hearing the ultimate secret. 
The usher of the court did give me a slight death stare, but we quickly moved passed that as I asked her 101 questions during the ‘rise’ (when the judge left to hang out in his chamber, how Game of Thrones of him!)



My jaw dropped as the judge summarised this particular man’s crimes (this was a quickie before the main trail of the day, stack ‘m high…) He described how this alledged baddie had injured another so badly that the victim would need care for the rest of his life. How not only had he committed this crime and pleaded guilty (which he got a pat on the back for), he offered no explanation as to why he stabbed another, and showed no remourse. 

The accused just stood there in a hoodie, slouched to one side when the judge asked him to stand for sentencing. How could a fellow human be that evil? 
He had not one member of his family there, not one friend. What must his mother think! 
No one else watched him get sentenced to 10 years inprisonment. I was the only joe bloggs to see him meet his fate that morning.

 

I felt sick. (Point taken that I need to harden up before I take to the press bench!). 
I just couldn’t believe my eyes. Or ears. 
I watch endless crime programs, a good court room drama is always a particular favourite of mine. But this was real life. I wasn’t wrapped up in my blankly with my old slippers on the sofa. This baddie’s next 10 years was being served up right in front of me.
I did spot the judge notice my astonishment. I have been blessed (?!?) with THE most expressive of faces. 

Nothing is hidden amongst my fine lines and acne scars. Which is a major problem when playing poker. Or in court… 
As fast as he was taken down (literally, they took him down the stairs in the dock!) and the barristers switched over it was time for another. In walked the next one. Up to the dock he went. And another after him. 
It occurred to me that I wouldn’t be hard pressed to find a story in these parts.  
I saw a jury sworn in. They looked just like the jury from broadchurch. How realistic I thought!

***

The school playground that afternoon felt like willy wonker’s chocolate factory by comparison. 
Fluffy marsh mellows floated past as innocent giggles wafted by. 
And then the toddler daughter started to demand a third snack whilst we waited in the drizzle, and cried when I couldn’t produce a rabbit out of a hat. My school daughter cried becasue it was ballet day for toddler daughter. Toddler daughter didn’t want to go to ballet either.
 I put on my best judge voice, and marched them up the road – still in my funeral coat. 
I went back for more the following day. .


“Did you eat popcorn there Muma?”

“No darling, I barely breathed”

Secrets of a Reception Veteran

I’ve done the time..
Darcie and I began ‘big school’ last year. We were rookie novices back then; eyes wide, shoes polished (her) make up always on (me) all ready and uncreased for every drop-off. Well my friends, times have changed, let me tell you. We are now old hands, reception veterans, if you will. And, as we are coming to the dying days of the summer term I am getting ready to pass the Newbie baton on to those unsuspecting preschoolers.
As part of this reception graduation I’ve compiled a list of my 5 essentials every Muma needs when entering the murky world of BIG SCHOOL…
1) Sharpie Marker pen
Yes, I did it too: ordered meters and meters of fabric and Iron on name tape. Of course when I was getting ebay-happy with my order I never once stopped to consider that I have never sewn anything in my life (the frog in yr 4 doesn’t count). I was trying to be The Perfect Muma. How I intended to sew on a name tape to every pinafore, polo shirt, jumper, PE kit, and apparently pants and socks too, I’ll never know! But I didn’t sweat the small stuff. Surely these Muma skills arrive with the name tapes. They didn’t and the result wasn’t pretty. Don’t fall for the ‘easy’ iron-on variety either. They peel, burn a bit and don’t survive the spin cycle. You heard it here first!
So step away from the bastard name tapes. This is all you need:
It’s Sharpie to the rescue.
2) Costume design degree
As you can tell from the above point, I am not a dab hand with a needle and thread. However you are about to enter a 10 month stretch of your life when you will be regularly challenged, often at short notice (that’s their favourite) to make some sort of costume. And of course ‘the children’ get a prize for the best one. What the actual F?! I sat up and safety pin a costume together while dream boat sleeps on and SHE gets the prize. Ok then…
I made an entire angel costume using just safety pins for the oh-so-sweet Nativity: thank you very much.
Please Note: World Book Day is the biggie, this is the Met Ball of the Primary school world. Big prizes are at stake here. Do not be fooled by any facebook chit chat which might suggest Jimmy’s Muma is just ‘throwing something together last minute’. NO SHE AIN’T. You know the story about the shoe maker’s elves… uh huh.
Find out the date your school is showcasing it’s World Book Catwalk and get over to ebay or Amazon pronto. (Unless of course you are blessed with talents like my amazing friend Holly at Oh Sew Dinky check her page out!)
3) Sunglasses
I’m not sure how to break this to you, but you’re going to cry. Possibly within the first few minutes of meeting the parents you are about to share 7 years’ worth of school runs with. Actually it took me a couple of weeks to shed a tear. I may have been in a euphoric state at first, as a result of relinquishing control of our little girl who was by all accounts a teensy bit of a handful: something along the lines of GOOD LUCK MISS SCOTT. After a couple of weeks it dawned on Darcie that this school gig was pretty repetitive and showed no signs of fading away. It made her bottom lip tremble, her face screw up and big tears fell from both of our eyes as we realised we would be saying goodbye at the same time everyday for a very very long time.
Anyway as luck would have it I was caught completely off guard no sunglasses- or my toddler to hide behind. I had to walk through the playground, thankfully flanked by my Muma Squad, sobbing. Save yourselves the ugly cry face, take sunglasses, ALL TERM!
4) Patience
This is a bit of a tricky one as you can’t just ‘add to basket’. Particularly for someone like me who lacks patience with ya know – most things. So this is an important one to practice over the summer hols: your patient face.

Here is mine. What do you think? You’d never know that inside I’m screaming any of the following,
“It says RAT EFFING NAPS not MOUSE SLEEPS. Please, for the love of god attempt to sound out the words before I loose the will to live”
Or
“I have marker penned several 4 letter words across your forehead with my eyes and If I have to listen to you harp on about how little Zachariah is far too clever for the class or that little flossychops is just plain bored due to her natural level of intellect I will reach for the Sharpie. And I will not be accountable for my actions.
5) Flexibility
I’m not talking leg above your head stuff, it’s trickier than that. I’m talking diaries. All of a sudden one of 20 Parentmail emails will hit the inbox inviting us to attend a once in a lifetime rendition of Jack and the Beanstalk, or a ‘recital’ (in the loosest sense of the word) of various shaky hitty noisy instruments. Of course you don’t want to miss such delights. It’s a drop everything situation. An understanding boss / Toddler / friends and family is what’s required here.
So Reception sounds super fun right? Bet you can’t wait…!!

Gender Neutral?! Oh please…

I’ve been hearing this term faaaaaar too much recently: 

                 GENDER NEUTRAL?! 

Oh please… Zzzzzz.
Who comes up with this stuff? 

Why do we have to find a label for everything these days? 

Can’t we just rejoice in the fact that we live in a society that will accept whichever gender orientation our kids hormonal compass will eventually point them in? 

Why does it need to be a ‘thing?’
Neutral indeed…
Here is our little GIRL, wearing her favourite Paddington Bear PJ bottoms, with a non-matching PJ top, topped off with a Spider-Man make up do. 
And yes. She’s in the park. 

(Anything seems to go on this holiday!! #dutchfashion) 

Because that’s her favourite way to be.
She ain’t gender neutral people: she’s a girl. 

And her bestest colour in the whole wide world? 
Blue.

Do we need to beat a drum and perform a little song and dance about it? 
Probably not.

I don’t mind that shops divide their clothing or shoes like they do. 

It doesn’t insult us! It’s really a short walk over to the other side of the aisle… 
Our 3 year old has no concept of ‘His ‘n’ Hers’, because we, her parents, don’t mention it. And before the campaigners rejoice, it’s not because we believe that she is Gender Neutral!!

We can often be found rooting around in the ‘boys gear ‘ for t-shirts with fire engines on, or blue trainers. 

In fact her favourite pants are her ‘boyfronts’ she pinched from her best mate Stephen (-They have a digger on…)  

CLEARLY #manstuff hmmm…

Lila also loves her 50-shades-of-pink- princess- fairy- taffeta dress monstrosity job too . And between 3.30pm-4pm on a Wednesday she can be found skipping about ballerina style in a pink leotard.
No sweat people. 

But please… Gender Neutral kids? 😾
Enough with the labels – ya killin’ me.
Let kids be kids.
Perhaps rather than banding around a new label, we should just go with the flow, and let our kids lead us. Being ‘neutral’ implies a lack of identity, a lack of meaning and indecision. No child deserves to be identifiable by those wishy washy terms.

#callaspadeaspade

Get A Life, Not A University Place.

Maybe it’s just me, but… 
I need to talk about results day. 

On Thursday, hoards of rabbit-in-the-headlights teens will be opening envelopes up and down the country, which they believe will dictate their future. 

To a degree those results will. No pun intended… 

But I want to make a suggestion:


There is more to life than university

I saw a bonkers statistic yesterday: the average student will leave university £57,000 in debt. What the… 57,000 quid! 

It begs the question: why are we pressurising our naive and confused young bloods into taking up university places as a matter of course? 
There is more than one way to skin a cat.
This is going back 15 years, perhaps things are different now that university fees have sky rocketed, perhaps the consideration IS that much greater nowadays…

However.

Every one of my peers went to university. (Apart from the one who went off with the boyfriend who set the station on fire…) The question on everyone’s lips wasn’t, “Are you going to university?” It was “Which university are you going to”. 

I fear that in a lot of schools this is still the case. Adultlets signing up for insurmountable debt to study a course in basket weaving at the bottom of the ocean. 
Because, Clearing. 

Shouldn’t tomorrow’s advice to those on the fence be more WAIT, less, “What can 3 C’s and a smile get me thank you very much?”
If you are unsure: Hit the pause button. Please. Because Miss 18+ you have time on your side. 


18 won’t even buy you a beer across the pond yet

So how about this for a piece of advice:

University isn’t going anywhere, but your #lifegoals will. Aspirations change, and the ability to carve out your own path will develop with a little more life experience under your belt. 

After all, a degree can only take you so far. Spending time on figuring out what makes you tick as a person is surely time well spent. Find out what you like and don’t like about the world. Dabble in the land of the grown ups, try it out for size. Go and live a little. Take a job. Find out just how much a quid gets you in Lidl. Travel. 
Meet people. All the people.

And I don’t just mean take a Gap Yar. 

If you’re not sure: Don’t rush in. 
Getting the grades or not getting the grades is one thing, it’s this next move which is the clincher. 
By the time I left university I had been doing exams every year for 12 years. 

That’s a long time. I was at one of those schools that held annual exam weeks in the summer (along with Shakespeare week, urgh the memory). 

The usual front page “Exams are getting harder / easier / pointless” continued to be printed throughout my GCSE’s, AS levels and A levels, dampening spirits on results day and occasionally exam day, if the press were feeling particularly hedonistic.
I see that nothing has changed this year. Gove’s ‘exam shake up’ (Don’t they just LOVE that phrase the most?!) has been splashed about once more. No doubt sending parents and teens into the pits of anxiety even before they have got their results. It doesn’t seem fair. 

Finishing the conveyor belt of education was terrifying. At the age of 22 I had never had a ‘proper’ job, my stint in Starbucks as a thirsty student doesn’t count. 

I’ll always remember my first day in my debut ‘grown up’ job. I was shown my desk, and told to settle in. Lovely, I thought… 
I stared blankly at the screen. I looked under it. I looked around it. Hmmm. The blank monitor was mocking me. I had another look around my desk, panic was beginning to take hold. I knew what I was going to have to ask…
“Excuse me, but how do I turn on the computer?”
My new boss stormed over, flicked the switch on the tower under my desk and loudly said,
“And that’s why I don’t like hiring graduates!”
She was a charmer. But she had a point, I was clueless!

when those results emerge, why not take a breath. Perhaps hit that pause button. 


Time is on your side. All is to play for.


Oh and never, ever underestimate the University of Life.


-It comes without the £57,000 gift tag too. 

“What if I fall?”  -“Oh but my darling, what if you fly?”

“What if I fall?”

“Oh but my darling, what if you fly?”

The stakes are high.

‘Falling’ would mean that I have failed; Failed to pass my NCTJ diploma in journalism and failed to re-enter the world of work as a journalist. It will mean a huge waste of money, and thousands of pounds down the pan. It will mean letting down the people I love the most. The disappointed eyes of my children upon me is almost more than I could bare. 

But…

‘Flying’ would mean everything
Flying would mean regaining my independence and my individuality. It will mean pride and it will mean confidence. 
(It will also mean that I managed to pass a 100 word per minute shorthand exam, gulp.)
In September I am going back to school for an entire year, to learn how to be a journalist. My passion for writing is going to morph into a career and I am quite literally tingling with anticipation to get started. 
I’ve discovered this compulsion to write since I started my blog, a passion for word splurging. Quite simply, an addiction to divulging the nitty gritty backstage at the Mum-game. 

My blog has led me to write a monthly column for a local magazine for 8 months now, a goal I never thought possible to reach. When I started this blog back in 2015 after the birth of our second daughter, I never dreamt that my sleep deprived, delirious words would open up this new career path. It just used to make me smirk as I documented The Witching Hour and Soft Play Hell…

I always thought I would stay at home forever.
-But that’s not an option now; Not now I know what I want to be when I grow up.

I have been on ‘mat leave ‘for 7 years. 7 years!! I’ve loved being at home with our girls (most of the time, blog might contradict that…) never having to hesitate when there has been a music show at school or a ‘look at their work’ afternoon. Each time the phone has rung because they are sick, or banged their head I have been at the school office within 5 minutes. Without exception. I’m grateful and thankful that I have been there every step. I haven’t missed a beat. 

I am well aware that ‘flying’ will mean I will be giving that all up. I’ll be in the working Muma club. A working Muma who earns money I might add. There is no doubt that my wardrobe our family will benefit massively from an additional wage packet. The satisfaction of buying my husband a Christmas present not with his own money will be a maje milestone!   
But, the guilt fairy peers over my shoulder on a daily basis at the moment:
“You’re leaving them y’know… They’ll be latch key kids drinking cider & smoking slims… What a juggle the holidays will be now, you selfish bitch…” 

But.

I’m ready to give this career thing a go. 
I think. (Self doubt will always linger won’t it?!)

I want to show my children that if you have a dream, you need to go for it. Embrace your ambition, no matter when it comes looking for you. Be brave, roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. 
But I am bricking it. Of course I am. I’d be lying if I was to give you the impression of taking this next step in my stride. It has been 11 years since I last stepped foot in a classroom. And then it was when I had nothing else to juggle, it was just text books and alcohol. (Hmm, Perhaps it won’t be all that different after all…!) 
For the first time in years I will be accountable to someone over 3 ft. 
What if my new classmates are all 10 years younger than me? 

What if I don’t understand a word I’m being taught? 

What if I hate it?



And so I come back to this: 


What if I fall? 


But my Darling, what if you fly

Formula haters- you did not pick a good day to mess…

I’m in a seriously sweary mood today, it’s 3 weeks since my last silent coffee. Ordinarily sweary wouldn’t  be a problem. You’d never have known that I’ve shouted expletives into the fridge with the frequency of a bad case of Tourette’s today.
Usually you’d be none the wiser….
But I saw a blog post judging women who formula feed their babies, even suggesting that women that choose to formula feed are somewhat uneducated: and I’ve been giving all the fucking fucks for this. My swear jar (like I have one of those! Pah!) would be overflowing. I’d have saved for the Christmas splurge in an hour. 

What gives anyone the right to judge mothers who formula feed! It’s been a while since I let my mind wander back to our #breastisbest journey. Basically one clear thought ran through my mind: 

Get back in your bastarding box, pretty please

I’ll admit this is a sore subject for me (literally- if you’ve ever tried breastfeeding you might relate!). 
I take maje offence to anyone slating Apamil and the like. Without this my baby wouldn’t have survived! With a projectile case of reflux I was told to express milk and add this magic powder to aid the ample Pukage which had covered every surface of our home over those first few months of manic Babydom. 

My anxious awol confusion of a brain simply couldn’t handle the timing of expressing, feeding, winding, sleeping, expressing, freezing, powder mixing, winding mind-fuck of a routine. 

-How do you think I came up with the name ‘Muma on the Edge’ in the first place?! 

Formula was mine and my baby’s life line. Once we had made the decision to switch to formula the relief was mahoosive. Finally someone else could feed / wind / clear up the puke. I could share the hum drum newborn survival routine with my husband (or anyone else who was offering!). My anxiety levels began to reset and I actually gave myself moments to enjoy this mum thang. 

Guess what: my baby was less sick AND began to thrive. Well well- formula being responsible for a baby THRIVING. Did you hear that haters? 
And I assure you I am not uneducated, I even have a degree AND a private education, fancy! I engaged brain and made a conscious decision to saunter down to Tescos and buy up a crate of Aptamil Nectar.

No one raised any eyebrows as I bought the illicit products either. Bottles, a steamy cleaner, even DUMMIES… Oh yeh, to fuck with it, I went the whole sodding hog. 
Here’s a confession for you: the 2nd time around I chose to bottle feed after just 3 weeks. Because I wanted to. 

I’ll skate over the fact that my left boobage refused to refill. It looked a little like the surgeon had forgotten to pop the silicon in my sad looking pyramid tea bag to my left. Selfishly I wanted my body back, I wanted to wear clothes that didn’t unhook and flap open. After 9 months of growing a baby I needed to be in charge of me again. 

It wasn’t that I was frightened of breast feeding in public, no one had ever made me feel uneasy. I simply chose. And I’m not a bad person btw. I can be quite nice- if I like you…  

My girls are now 6 and 3, they walk, talk, run,hop, skip, answer back, learn, wash, cartwheel, swim, eat, and, touch wood, have never been in hospital. So far I’m not seeing any adverse effects from our formula decision. All present and correct thanks very much. 

So Judgey McJudgeface, before throwing your magic wand of Formula hate around why not locate a ladder, clamber down from that trogan horse and rejoin the rest of us on cloud normal. Please. 
#fedisbest bitches. 

Yup, looking fairly healthy here- blackberries in the potty might pose some questions however…

Hello Black Wednesday. 

Some might think that stating the obvious is a pointless task. I however believe that if you are stupid enough to trudge your kids, and one of their friends through the pouring rain and into your local zoo’s soft play on a day where Noah is on the edge of his seat, then you deserve to be ridiculed. 

What I am about to tell you IS obvious. I mean, we all know the rules don’t we: summer holidays + rain = stay the fuck away from soft play. I’ve been in the job 6 and a half years and still I make rookie errors… And I am sharing today’s with you. 

Welcome to my nightmare: Soft play on speed.

I’m writing this on the floor next to the highly over populated gated ‘baby zone’. 

On. The. Floor.

I scanned the deafening inferno for a base upon arrival: all eyes were instantly diverted away from my glance. Why are kids taking up highly sought after square footage in the parent zone? There’s a whole hyper-colour plaza just waiting to be explored. Look lively and shift it… s’il vous plait. 

God bless the holidays. 

It’s dawning on me that the possibilities for a bout of contagious pukage are ample in this mosh pit. Swarms of under 8’s are literally salivating over the soft mats. Schools out and the germs have found a new breeding ground. Hopping between miss screechy to master whingey in a nano-second. 

Everything is sodding soaked. Rain in biblical proportions is hissing down, the zoo’s day trippers have found refuge in the soft play: of course they have. Why didn’t that occur to me before we left? And I realise this may be obvious (as is the nature of this entire post)… but my socks are wet. And come to think of it, I’m sitting on a wet floor so I probably have a wet backside too: August is such a giver. 

A thought was inching its way into my conscious, I tried to block it out, I really did… 

Nits.

There are heads everywhere. Too many of them. All full of hair, all possibly harbouring nit farms. I do air on the side of total paranoia when it comes to the creepy hair breeders. But they attack me first and it makes me edgy. For some reason Nits adore the straw-like consistency of my barnet. I’m tempted to put a hair net over my kids – and myself. I realise this may attract some attention: 

‘The crazy lady typing on the floor looks like my dinner lady’. But the minors are close. Up close and way too personal on the head to head proximity meter for my anxiety level to regulate. 
It must be well documented that rain causes FuckWitSyndrome. It’s an unfortunate condition which appears to be effecting every child without exception. Sweaty Duracell bunnies are literally running around in circles. Some with their eyes shut. All with their mouths open. Demands and accusations are vying for space on the air waves.

(Hurrah! I found a seat- just saying. I had to perform a stealth Bolt-style move to secure this desk space. Backpack, water bottles, snack pack and iPad in my clutches. The seat is miiiiiine. All I need now is for my left bum cheek to rejoin the land of the living…
)

I knew it was coming. I could tell as she approached my chair; blue eyes wide, angelic face slightly tilted for optimum Cute:

“Can I have a red shushy?”
“No”
“Can I have a blue shushy?”
“No”
“Pleeeease can I have a shushy”
“No”
“But mum I NEED a shushy”
“The machine’s broken”
“But THEY have a shushy” (points to privileged Timmy & Jimmy)
Ok, I think, let’s try and level with ToddlerMonster:
“Darling, Mummy and Daddy are on a real economy drive for the next few weeks. We had a lovely holiday last week didn’t we?” (I don’t wait for the confirmation) “Last week was tax bill time, and we are going to Holland to that cheap version of Centre Parcs before nursery starts again aren’t we. We are only here because we have annual passes- so it’s basically free. I’ve made a snack pack fit for 3 giants, AND you had lunch before we left. Have a bourbon and go play”

3 year old stares blankly, “Can I have chips?” 
*Bangs head against metal table several times*

By this point I’ve become immune to the decibel level, I lift my eyes from typing away this post and it dawns on me that the cafe area has become a sort of awkward PTA party. It’s so jam packed, demographics are falling over each other. 

It’s Jeremy Kyle meets Joules. 



Breton strips are interspersed with a skin tight jogger: Who IS Ivy Park?! I’m not entirely sure where I fit into this social tapestry… I’m wearing Dan’s golf jumper that I shrunk in the wash, complimented by 2-days-over hair. I think that makes me ‘Jumble-Mom’. 
I’ve put in 3 hours. I chose this over a career. I love that what’s left of my brain enjoys reminding me of this fact at the most opportune of moments. 
Finally the man with the broom appears: its chucking out time. 

Until September…

My happy mum-face when we finally walked in! My husband’s a lucky man…