Wednesday, 16 November 2011


The last few weeks have been a bit nuts:

The Husband has left his secure job of 15 years - in the middle of an economic crisis - to go contracting.

The children have been on a quest to catch every illness going - the usual coughs and colds, some weird stop-start vomiting bug, hand foot and mouth...suffice to say, this month I have 'got' MANY T-shirts and we are now buying Calpol in bulk at CostCo.

I have 'returned to work' freelance stylee which has generally involved Insecurity and Confidence having a bit of a grapple and Insecurity typically punching Confidence's lights out. And then Guilt popping in to say Hello several times a day because the children think their mother's face has been replaced with an iPad.

I am not looking for sympathy because I am well aware there are many marvellous mothers out there who are juggling a whole lot more than this. Instead, I wanted to share a little insight from my better half who suggested a solution to our recent Ships-Passing situation.

The Husband has come up with a concept which he has called iNight. (I should explain, he loves the Apple brand and everything it stands for. The day we lost Steve Jobs made for a solemn breakfast in our house, I can tell you. I think he believes one of the big cheeses within the Apple empire might eventually buy iNight for a large sum). He's even got a strap line: 'iNight - it's MY night'. God love him.

So, I'm going to share this with you all. iNight is a bit like Date Night. But better. (You're probably starting to see how it was pitched to me...). Rather than each planning a night once a month or so, where you go out for dinner, try not to talk about the children but end up talking almost entirely about the children and then having predictable sex, iNight breaks all those rules and tears them up. Oh yes. With iNight there are NO rules, simply that one person is entirely in charge of the evening - the food, the entertainment, the drink, everything (I refer you back to the strap line, see). The main thing is that it's just about the two of you, and it may perhaps encourage each of you to enjoy things you may not otherwise choose (for The Husband: getting me to watch an entire subtitled film, for me: relaxing in the bath with his and hers trashy mags). So, because the options are endless, you could just choose to get takeaway and watch TV or you could arrange a babysitter and some fabulous surprise night. Them's the rules: no rules.

As it was his idea, The Husband got to kick off with iNight launch (it was on the calendar and everything). Given I was fully expecting to be watching Arsenal's Top goals whilst eating orange doritos out of the packet, I was pleasantly surprised to be presented with a square meal and The Last King of Scotland on DVD. And you know what, it was a thoroughly enjoyable night - because it's not what I would have chosen to do. And that's the great thing about it. I definitely have interest boundaries which could do with being pushed, and who doesn't hanker after a bit of surprise and spontaneity in a long-term love thang?

So, why not try it?! Launch iNight in your lives. I'd LOVE to hear what you all get up to! And you never know, perhaps The Husband will get his global branding after all : )

And Ps. Next week it's MY night! I wonder...Singalong Sound of Music or ice skating...?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


Throughout both my pregnancies other mothers felt it necessary to comment on my size in the way that is almost obligatory when you are ‘with child’. Under no circumstances would a stranger brazenly march up in Sainsbury’s and remark on how large your arse is, but it seems that bumpism is fair game. Mine was apparently ‘extremely small’ which of course had me free-falling into a worry pit and Googling into the early hours, accompanied by much eye-rolling from The Husband.

When my children were born, they were both enormous babies. Huge doughballs with several chins, and cheeks so pendulous they practically dragged along the floor. At my son’s first trip to baby clinic, the Health Visitor carefully plotted his weight on the percentile chart and I watched as her pencil headed into a blank wilderness somewhere above 99.6th. Apparently there was no baby on record bigger than mine. Other mothers would look on wide-eyed as they cradled their neat little bundles, and say helpful things like ‘Wow, he’s a whopper’ and ‘Did you crave a lot of cake in pregnancy?’. Ironically (and downright ridiculously) my ‘too small’ had apparently now become ‘too big’, which had me straight back in the worry pit, all over Google again and The Husband probably on the phone to the Lawyer citing irreconcilable differences.

I can see the silliness in this more clearly now, with the cynical-tinted glasses of four years later. But my concern, paranoia and self-doubt at the time was largely a result of comments and comparisons made by other mums. Surely we should all know better?

As I went on to discover, it only got worse as the babies shed their sleepy newbornness and started to actually do some stuff. Fortunately as it turned out, my firstborn stamped out any chance of me joining any games of mum-upmanship in the early years by being the laziest child when it came to any developmental accomplishment. He viewed each ‘next stage’ less as an exciting milestone and more as another tiresome hurdle. Consequently, I had to endure months of fever pitch excitement from other mothers proudly logging First Word, First Sitting Unaided, First Steps…whilst mine was still just sliding along the floor like a slug.

When he did eventually decide that being vertical was more interesting, we walked to the park one day and bumped into a mum I vaguely knew. She was one of them: A Smug Mother. I suspected as much when she started cross-examining me on exactly when the boy had started walking and whether or not he was yet able to run. She was satisfied to hear that ‘No’ he could not yet run, which therefore meant that her son, who could, was better. She was then compelled to add that he was also – aged 21 months – taking French lessons. Well of course.

Why do us mothers do this to each other? What is the point? We are all in this game together, with no rules and several opponents (most of them under 3ft tall). Yet, at times we still try and outrank each other. I know in theory we should all be batting for the same side, but sometimes I’m really not feeling that Sisterhood thing.

We’re a funny old mix, us mums. Sometimes we can be so supportive of each other and other times not at all. There are some fantastic networks, yet there are so many cliquey groups. There is a sea of mothers feeling the same insecurities, yet so many try to hide them for fear of admitting they might need a life-raft sometimes. There is so much honesty and yet still so much pretence.

Having spent many a night pondering the point of mum-upmanship with a large glass of red, my belief is that if mothers pass comments and make comparisons about their child and yours, it has nothing to do with your child. As women, we tend to seek validation for our decisions and we need to know where our own triumphs and failures measure on the overall scale of mummydom. So perhaps some mums are making themselves feel better about their choices and using yours as a benchmark. So what? Just try and consider it a jolly beautiful benchmark. Let’s be honest, we all pass occasional judgement about other people’s offspring and different parenting styles and we believe our own children are completely brilliant. The trick is to just keep your bloody mouth shut about it.

Without sounding cheesy here, The Husband and I just want our children to be happy above all else. And if that means they come last at sports day or need some extra help with fractions or don’t turn out to be the high flying executives we’re planning to retire on, then that’s just fine by us.