If you think about it, the idea of Marriage is actually quite absurd.
Meet a boy, fall in love, have adventures, lazy Sundays; Make memories. Get married, settle down, throw a Toddlermonster or 2 into the mix and before long you can barely recognise yourselves.
“I really fancy you with poo on your neck, said no spouse, ever.”
What can prepare us for spending a lifetime with one person? What if your parenting styles don’t match? There’s no way you can possibly try before you buy on that front.
What if your career aspirations take you in totally different directions? What if one of you turns out to be a miserable sod? And what about those little foibles we all have? Be it a nervous cough, or the inability to cook, or a Dad-joke back catalogue which sees you cringe into your Daquari. All of which were sweet at first, but now drive you to the edge (or the Bacardi bottle).
It sort of like this: finally getting your hands on a once in a lifetime vintage Chanel bag. It’s gorgeous, frankly it’s love at first sight. It sleeps next to you, accompanies you to the best of occasions, you are frankly inseparable. You wear it proud on your arm, but the years roll by, and although it’s still your best most prized precious, the novelty has worn off. It’s been with you as you puke up in the bar loos, realising you are not 21 anymore and cannot drink more than a few glasses of wine. It’s been there during laughs and heated debates. It’s seen your best and worst, but now you have kids and their stash of essentials no long fits into your beloved Chanel. Weep.
Clearly there is only one thing for it: time to invest in a bigger and better, but I’m still in the marriage analogy, and upgrades are not part of this deal.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that being parents, AND keeping your marriage alive and kicking is hard. Really bloody hard. Navigating our way through life, raising humans and doing it together in perfect harmony is surely an unrealistic goal.
Maybe we should all get married in our mismatched PJ’s, 3-days-post-hair-wash and a seriously sadistic case of PMT. This realistic approach would set us up for the institution of Marriage a lot better than a beautiful unstained gown, a face of professional make up, a room full of people who are being kind and complimentary, all washed down with free flowing booze and food that has not been microwaved.
As my husband says ‘Teamwork always pays off’. I guess if you can still raise a smile to each other after 5 years of sleep deprivation and somehow fancy each other (occasionally) despite the extra pounds and hairy legs. If you can bring yourself to still be kind even when you really just want to drop the C bomb. If you can bite your tongue rather than criticise the way they staked the dishwasher. If you can still high-five the hell out of life…
If you can, then that’s good enough. That’s Love.
That’s my marriage with kids.
There is SO much baby crap out there, all gleaming and shiny just waiting for unsuspecting adoring (petrified) new parents to splash their cash on.
Sharing is caring, and with this in mind I thought I’d divulge our top 5 parenting purchase nightmares with you… It’s not pretty.
1)A rocking crib.
What a seriously bonkers invention.
This at No.1 because it is without doubt the most rookie of all the bad purchases we made as parents in-waiting. The helpful teen at ‘Babies R us’ swore blind a rocking crib was a new born essential (I’m sure she knew best). Jolly good; we’ll have one of those then.
The first time I attempted to put the baby-that-did-not-sleep into the rocking crib proved that this ‘essential’ was in fact the polar opposite.
Into the crib she went milk-drunk. I looked just like a member of bomb squad edging nearer and nearer to the crib with the armed device, armed with this sleeping new born. One. False. Move… of course the rocking crib did just that– it bloody rocked all over the place. Bam and that was it: baby rave time, mummy cry time.
We tried it a few more times before we chopped it up and used it to re-board our fireplace
Desperate times call for desperate measures. And we were just that. Our 2 year old had never slept through the night, and never in her own bed. We were trying everything and anything to try and achieve just one night’s sleep before baby No.2 made her appearance.
Make way for The Gro-Clock. Promising that toddlers will obey its creepy sun face.
The Gro clock should come with a warning that you will only be able to figure out how to program the bloody thing if you have the IQ of a frigging genius. I don’t.
It is not simple to use. Even less simple if you are heavily pregnant, sleep deprived and quite literally a Muma on the Edge. When we eventually did get it working our daughter LAUGHED at it. We basically spent £25 on a night light.
Fu*k you Gro clock.
3) Skirts n headbands: Baby Accessory Gate
Ok let’s get this straight-
Skirts: They ride up. They look awkward. They show off the nappy to its optimum. And it looks SO uncomfortable.
Headbands: I tried, I really did; to dress up my baby’s wispy bald head. I was always paranoid the gypsy-style headbands would slip down and we’d have a horrific ‘strangled’ situation on our hands. More often than not she would rip it off her head and chuck it overboard. (She clearly has more taste than I do!)
Why did I bother?!
Baby No.2 escaped the wannabe Doll phase, onesies forever.
4) Holiday with a baby
(Ok this isn’t strictly an ‘item’ but I just felt I couldn’t leave it out of this Rookie list.)
Just why?! If it isn’t hard enough to look after a sub-1 human at home with the entire contents of Mothercare at your fingertips, how do we convince ourselves that a holiday will ever be just that?!
We were so lucky to go away with my parents and sisters when Darcie was 3 months old. A ratio of 7:1 is the ONLY way I would ever recommend a holiday with a baby.
The heat was too hot for her, the cot was too netted for her, the pool was too cold for her, the air was too airy for her, she wouldn’t sleep OR she only wanted to sleep.
How is that a holiday?! That’s just normal life thrown in with a touch of nightmare.
5) The baby sling
It was awkward. I swore. The baby cried. We gave up: Back to ebay it went.
I have seen serene ‘Baby Carriers’ in the real so it must be possible to front tie, back tie, strap up and pop the bambino in. I however found it impossible: frustrating and confusing in equal measure, and frankly a complete and utter bloody mystery.
I tried again and again to get to grips with Slinging. I tried different brands with ties, & knots to clips & Velcro. I ended up looking like id been subjected to Mummification; Wrapped up in endless cloth with a screaming baby hanging out of the front of me.Bugaboo I salute you.
So come on- spill the beans on your useless baby impulse buys…!!????
It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes…
Thanks Nelly but I think I’m good, I’ll just sit here at the park supervising the Toddler-Movement with my black skinnys on getting an increasingly sweaty crack, just in case little Gabriel’s Muma should notice my unshaven white luminous legs in the shorts I really wish I was wearing.
I would come and splash in the waves at the beach kids, but Muma hasn’t got herself ‘bikini ready’ and an off guard super fun wade-about is not what this hairy, non-bronzed non-svelte, Muma wants to take part in.Soz.
But here’s the thing, and this is actually quite a liberating thought:
NO ONE ELSE CARES!
- No one else cares that you have hairy knees, or the grey tinge of dry shampoo around your hair line.
- No one else cares that you have a serious muffin-top situation going on with the vest / shorts combo that you HAD to wear for fear of actually melting into the playground.
- No one else cares that you have a set of dodgy tan lines or cellulite craters which resemble the surface of the moon.
- No one else cares if you have a spotty chin that day following a satisfying chocolate binge, or the deepest darkest bags under your eyes thanks to a week of 5am wake up calls.
We are our own worst critics; I can often be found scanning for the onset of a wispy beard, assessing the severity of my tash or god forbid NEW LINES. I’m pretty sure those people I come into contact with are not busy scanning my face for excess stragglers. That would be verging on obsessive. So it’s just me then: Tweezers out, scanning. Obsessively.
My kids don’t care if I show off a bit of veiny ghost-leg when the temperature gauge soars off the scale. But they sure as hell will care if I don’t take them to the local Zoo for fear of a death-by-denim situation, in the scorching heat.
And my kids sure as hell don’t care if I look suspiciously pregnant in my bikini and my arse wobbles like a big whitish-blue jelly…(ewwww).
They just see their Muma splashing around with them in the wee-infested toddler pool. And I’m pretty sure that’s all they will remember.
Today is set to be one of the hottest days of the year so far. I shall don my DaisyDukes, which are inappropriately short and spend the day playing with my toddler in the sunshine, hopefully avoiding a sweaty crack moment. She won’t mind the ice cream gut I have been putting so much work into lately, or the dodgy tan lines that are all over my shoulders. I’m pretty sure the fellow Muma’s at the Zoo aren’t going to mind my get-up either. They will be too busy keeping eyes on their own charges to care about my hairy thigh situation.
Break out the bikinis and shorts, the flimsy dresses and the skirts. No one is actually looking at you the way you look at yourself in the mirror. (Picture the flab-grab, and the, suck it in-and-out, the, turn-around-and-strain-neck-to-check-butt-size-with-the-lock-jaw-look. These special ‘poses’ are fairly sacred. No one else need share in these moments, they are reserved just for us.)
Of course, I’ll have to remind my MumaSquad of this tomorrow before they raise their eyebrows at my tropical ensemble.
Loud n proud Mumas, loud n proud…
Because, you know what: No one else cares!
1) Waitress – think Wimpy, not La Gavroche.
2) Uber cab driver, USP: Providing a 3 course meal whilst in transit. Will that be the crusts off marmite on white or the mini chedder’s sir?
3) Hostage negotiator: If I can talk a Toddler in arsehole mode down from throwing a cold cup of coffee over cream carpet…
4) Cleaner: speciality tool, wet wipes. Kitchens, bathrooms, walls, arses. I got this…
5) Community police officer: you really don’t want to be leaving your dog’s shit on the pavement or park in the Toddler / Muma spaces on my watch.
6) Laundrette skive, is that Dot Cotton or me? Blurred lines.
7) Teaching assistant, I haven’t suffered at the hands of an enthusiastic 4 year old armed with a Biff n Chip book for nothing, and don’t even get me started on the ‘Pen Licence.’
8) Risk assessor: Stairs, streams, fire pits, ovens, big dogs, small yappy dogs, busy roads, quiet roads, bees, spicy food… you name it, I’ve risk assessed it.
9) Red Coat: entertainment covered 12 hrs a day, special skill: leading a dance off whilst folding washing, singing just like Adele. No lies.
10) Chef, speciality diets: no beans for one, only carrots for the other, no courgettes peppers or spice on another. No carbs, low carbs, only ‘good’ carbs. Gluten free, meat free, extra meat. Only meat. No sauce meat balls, naked pasta… with ham sprinkled on top of everything.
Have I left any out girls? Let me know…
I used to be obsessed with my old self.
By Old self, I am of course talking about my pre-baby days. My twenties. Those care free days when weekends were one long party, social after social. My legs were cellulite free, my stomach wasn’t bearing the scar of 2 caesareans and I could squint in the sunlight without fear that my face had just concertinaed up. My Old self didn’t have to worry about anyone else. I thought this was great.
And it was great. But I got caught up in this gig called ‘Adulting’. I was cheated out of my twenties, by the thirties bug.
I was earwigging to a conversation a group of girls were having recently, one of them was saying that she couldn’t wait to have a bit of time off from parenting so she could ‘feel like her old self again’. Is that even possible? Is it that easy for us Mumas to revert back to those days? Is it possible to shake total responsibility and that dull ache of worry for our children, and, in its place, have a truly carefree head-in-the-clouds break?
I would love to find the ‘off’ switch sometimes. Pop the kids in the cupboard with my very adult ironing board and skip off to an all-day session.
I love a break, mini break, evening break, hell I’d take a coffee break. But it no longer makes me feel like my pre baby self, my old self. I can’t really remember who that person was anymore. Obviously the silly giggly gormless girl still lives inside of me but she grew some wrinkles, I think she found some morals and her head definitely won’t let her get away with buying the cheapest wine on the shelf anymore. Sigh.
The thing is I don’t mind. I’ve stopped looking for my old self. I’m growing really quite fond of this old bag instead. Life in the Thirties lane gets my vote. Over the past 5 years I have grown to love my Muma responsibilities, no I won’t get slushy, but it is pretty cool being someone’s ‘go-to’. However my wardrobe has taken a bit of a nose dive in the fashion stakes: I own a coat with a hood and wear it. Heels feel barbaric (how did I ever run up and down escalators in these) I now look like I need a wee when I walk in them. I love an elasticated waist – and still can’t part with my gigantic caesarean pants!
But I wonder if hankering after your twenties self is universal to all, kids or no kids? I don’t think my girls should shoulder all of the blame for the loss of my ‘old self’. Cellulite is not exclusive to us Mumas, likewise those long forgotten bikini pogo stick figures. Wrinkles don’t just target those who procreate – although I do claim the baggage under my eyes as being a direct result of 5 years of baby induced sleep deprivation.
Is it really entirely the fault of my children that I own a sewing kit, a ‘general cards’ basket, gift wrapping caddy, a steam mop and a sodding great hose?! Probably not…
That’ll be my old self playing at Adulting then.
Adulting with my new hose! Twenties self would be puking in the corner.