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”

MumBoss. Mumpreneur. Are you offended yet?

Mumpreneur. 

MumBoss. 

Do these terms offend you?

Because they don’t offend me. Quite the opposite in fact; they make me feel empowered.

I read a post entitled “We are not Sodding Mumpreneurs” by a great blogger ‘More Than Toast’ back in february, it’s taken me this long to final hit publish on a post I furiously scribbled down at the time.

The post in question was shared and hailed as gospel by another blogger that I really admire, and who I would describe as a ‘MumBoss’.

I couldn’t have disagreed more with their strong views on the subject. It really got me thinking about labels, and why, as Mothers the term ‘Mumpreueur’ or ‘Mum Boss’ should be a proud label to wear. I just couldn’t get my head around why these terms were being deemed as pitchforks to the feminist.

We should be proud that these labels are becoming so mainstream and this is why…

You see, if being a Mother is the most important job of all, and widely accepted as the hardest and most thankless of roles; Surely turning your dreams into a reality and earning cold hard cash alongside this seismic position of ‘Mum’ is something to shout about?

“I keep tiny humans alive, AND earn money , all on my terms because I’m running the show”

(Ok, so I don’t get to say that phrase just yet. I am working on it though…!)

It was also said that to assume us Mums run our business’ from their kitchen table is offensive. Really? That’s an offensive assumption?

I am not meaning to steam into Alice for writing this, I am just surprised that so many ‘Mum Bosses’ felt this way.

A business that can be run successfully from a kitchen table is anything but derogatory.

Many a brainwave has been hatched in far meeker circumstances. Facebook is the birth-child of a Fresher in their Uni digs for goodness sake – he didn’t even own a kitchen table! And what about that old saying ‘We came up with the idea on the back of a fag packet…’

So why do these affluent bloggers think  it is insulting to assume that a Mum might have begun a start up and run a business from the kitchen table?  I doubt you would rent office space just to brain storm some business ideas…

Surely if you can run a business from your kitchen table AND be there for your family you are, from where I’m sitting, 100% winning the game of life right now. 

I saw an interview with the powerhouse that is Harriett Harman recently. Harriett was saying how, not surprisingly, tough it was to work in Westminster when she had very young children. To keep up with her male counterparts she had to compromise on seeing her children and family life. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that to succeed in that environment something had to give- and it’s usually always the home front.  She hopes to make up for her absence by being there more for her Grandchildren now.

She couldn’t have it all, let’s be honest – I don’t know anyone that does.

If the mould doesn’t fit, then break it.

-That’s exactly what these inspirational Mumpreneurs are doing. 

It’s frustrating that there is still a long way to go until the playing fields are more evenly balanced in the workplace. Like it or not biology doesn’t give us much choice in the matter. We are the ones who have the ‘privilege’ of carrying our babies. We are the ones who grafted for years on a career  only to see it all come to a grinding halt when the egg timer gives way to “PREGNANT”.

Some women would say we had the raw end of the deal…

But it all comes back to this: Why on earth should we be trying to hide our ‘Mum’ label’? Is the struggle for equality becoming so sterile, we have to drop any reference to our lives behind the front door in order to be taken seriously? Surely not…

I’ve said before that I want to wear my label front and centre, because that is who defines me. I am a mother first, and I am proud of that. I am also proud that I am beginning to get a career off the ground on my terms. And  guess what – it’s from my kitchen table.

We live in a world that is allowing us all to be a little more creative, and work a little more remotely, there is a movement towards a more flexible way of working. The hugely inspirational Anna Whitehouse and her Flex Appeal movement are an inspiration and spreading positive vibes that us Mumas shouldn’t be put on the scrapheap just because we procreated.

If you can manage to be a Mumprenuer and do it for yourself, setting up your own business on YOUR terms, from scratch – all while your kids scream blue murder and utter 50,000 unreasonable demands all before 6am, then you lady, are a MUM Boss.

We are kicking legs from under the chairs of our often comfortable, complacent male counterparts. We are shaking things up through sheer drive, determination and the desire to have it all, on our terms.

So here’s to the kitchen table start up.

Here’s to those inspiring Mothers who are cooking up these innovative businesses and changing the face of society.

Here’s to the Mum Boss in us all.

Stay-At-Home-Muma or Working Muma? My choice…

As sensitive a subject as Breast verses Bottle; I’m half wincing even beginning this blogpost. The time old argument, or rather ‘discussion point’ of Working Muma V’s Stay at Home Muma seems to rage on. Article after article is written on the subject, all contradicting the last, all claiming to be the latest research and written either by Earth Mother herself wrapped in her tie dye gently rocking back and forth on a rush matt with a toddler feeding from her, or City slicker Muma: louboutins- check!

These two extremes don’t really cater for The Lidl Muma – and by that, I mean me! What’s right for the Muma that’s been educated reasonably well?

I was fortunate enough to go to a very academic school, we were all aboard the conveyor belt of GCSE’S, AS levels, A levels, and then on to University as a standard. Utter scandal ensued should you have deviated from this, the very thought of ‘vocational course’ was placed next to shelf stacker as an option. From university I went on to work in recruitment mostly: I’m basically very gobby which helps in a sales environment!

I remember the day I finished work and begun my journey in to MatLeave like it was yesterday: An over indulgent lunch with my colleagues, well friends actually; I spent 50 hours a week with these people! Anyway I bid them all adios with armfuls of Pink goodies, vowing to return in a years time…

However, I just couldn’t tear myself away from my Darcie shaped bundle. I even went to a keeping in touch day, shame it was a financial planning meeting that had me wishing I could bolt out of the door. My brain felt like mush, did I get the train through to Paris because I’m clearly not speaking the same language anymore. That evening I broke the news to The Hubster that I just couldn’t go back to work and asked if we could financially survive.

If I’m totally honest I haven’t looked back since I waddled out of the office door ready to embrace Mumahood. Don’t get me wrong, there have been been moments where I have thought how lovely it would be to have a lunch break, especially when I have been on an involuntary starvation day due to a colicy baby, or a loo break sometimes, ALONE. And yes I have yearned to have a quick browse around the shops on late-night Thursdays after work on more than one occasion. But, and here’s the big but, my bottom line and my raison d’etre: I don’t want to miss out!

I don’t want to be the one to miss the first step, or first word – which would have been nice to be Muma just once: Dada got that, twice. It’s the more mundane everyday stuff that makes you the constant: toddler tripped up and it was me that comforted her, toddler cuts another tooth and needs more cuddles, toddler whacks victim for custard cream at playgroup, – Hell, Toddler has morphed into ToddlerMonster and chucks ‘treasure’ down the loo! I want to be the observer, the comforter, the disciplinarian, and not miss a beat.

However, in my quest to Nurture have I thrown away a great education and a career to boot? Is it realistically possible for me to return to work and still not miss a single thing? Well, of course not because it’s physically impossible to be in two places at once. It doesn’t seem fair that nature has given women a heart wrenching choice to make: follow your career, aspirations and dreams that you may have worked long and hard to build, before children. Or park it. Can a happy medium be reached or do you just end up not achieving either terribly well?

The responsibility I feel as a Stay At Home Muma to show my girls that women are invaluable to the work place is huge, I’m not leading by example here at all. I feel I must try to convince them that Muma is more than just a cleaner / cook / driver / occasional fair weather gardener. I don’t want them assuming that just because Muma doesn’t work I don’t have a brain and can’t answer their billions of critical questions – I can work Wikipedia just as well as the next Muma thanks. So with this in mind I’m now an upstanding member of the Nursery PTA and a wannabe Blogger, the fact that Darcie has begun referring to me as Muma On The Edge is frankly frightening.

This is a topic really close to my heart; I do strongly believe that every Muma strives to do the very best they can for their babies, its nature’s way. There is no perfect way to bring up our babies, just your way. And my god I hope I don’t fuck this up…