Monthly Archives: April 2015

2nd April 2015

A note to my teenage self about motherhood

Me

Sitting on a bench at school assembly, we stare up at the headmistress standing on the stage. It happens like this every morning; hundreds of girls filing into the school hall and taking their place in rows. The sound of happy chatter filling the echoey hall before she appears and it fades to silence. This is the late 90’s and thick, black kohl eyeliner, streaky highlights and platform shoes accessorise our navy uniforms. My skirt is rolled up four times and I’m wearing bobbled 70-denier tights, a yin-yang chain around my neck, and silver studs in my ears in the shape of tiny safety pins. I smell of The Body Shop Dewberry and listened to Blur’s Parklife on the way to school.

It’s an all-girls school and the headmistress tells us that we can do anything. We can be anything. We just have to work hard and we will achieve our ambitions.

I listen, wide eyed, absorbing every word she says. And I feel invincible.

I always wanted to be a fashion journalist when I grew up, working at a magazine in London. And as her words filled that echoey hall, I was absolutely convinced that I could and would do it.

She never mentioned gender in those assemblies. She didn’t need to. She just needed to fill us with confidence about our abilities and our place in the world. Her message was powerful and made a difference. I was a young feminist, without even knowing what a feminist was.

Fast-forward nearly 20 years – and here I am. My CV reveals that I did those things I dreamt about. I thought often of her message as I ticked things off my list. A-Levels. A degree in English Literature. A first job at a magazine. A successful freelance career. She was right. I could do those things. I did do those things.

But now. What now? Can I still be a feminist with children around my feet? Can I still be a feminist, when I reach into my bag for a business card and pull out a child’s dummy and half-eaten lollipop? What if I am invited to go on a business trip, but think about my children going to bed without me their warm bodies in sheep-print pyjamas and hair smelling of baby shampoo, and decide not to go? And what if I have no choice, but then think about them during a meeting across the other side of the world and feel my eyes filling with tears? What if I miss a promotion as I decide to work part-time?

Am I still just as important?

And what if I decide not to work? What if I decide that I will stay at home with my children instead? What if I no longer own a set of business cards and my job title is “Mummy”. What if I dedicate my entire week to their wants, their needs, their development, collapsing on the sofa at the end of the day feeling tired but proud that we’ve all made it to bedtime?

Am I still just as valid in this world?

I am absolutely sure that the answer is yes.

We still have a role – and it happens to be the most important and most satisfying role in the world. Because I believe that getting the chance to raise the next generation is a career promotion, not a dismissal.

So can someone please lend me a time machine, as I want to go back to that school gym and stand up on the stage. I want to tell the wide-eyed girls below me that the careers they dream about and the life they envisage are important. And it’s true, they can do it. They really can. But I also want to tell them that that those lives may also include a family. And if they do decide to become a mother and are lucky enough to welcome little people into their lives, they might go back to work after a few months or they might decide to stay at home. But either way, their roles as mothers will be a privilege and not a sacrifice.

And in 20 years, when they think back to the days of school assemblies and the dreams they dreamt up on those mornings on a cold, school bench, they won’t regret that family for a second.

And when someone asks what they do, they should reply simply: “I am a Mother”.



1st April 2015

15 Things That Usually Happen When I Feed My Children

10983702_1569014076717409_850744055_n1 – I walk to the kitchen, look in the fridge and think “maybe I’ll cook something different today”. I stop to ponder for a moment, hand on the fridge door as I peer inside – and I experience all kinds of domestic-goddess thoughts. I nearly grab a pinny and recipe book. But then I remember myself, have a little chuckle, and revert to Plan A.

2 – The second I switch on the oven / place pan on  hob / start chopping, the children are attracted to me like I’m like the Pied Piper of the kitchen. The toddler starts bleating ‘Can I have my tea now?’ on repeat, whilst the baby attempts to crawl up my leg.

3 – Every time I coax the children back into the lounge, running the risk of burning their dinner in the meantime, they are back by my side within seconds. This repeats several times.

4 – I give up and try and cook with one child attached to my leg and the other building a tower out of blocks behind my right foot.

5 – I knock the tower over. The toddler cries and runs out the kitchen. That solves one problem, at least.

6 – Dinner is ready and I dish it up, carefully counting out peas, potatoes, and fish fingers into equal portions. Also, three bits of fish finger fall into my mouth.

7 – I carry the two plates to the table / high chair, followed by the crawling baby. He looks delighted that his dinner is ready. The toddler takes one look at his plate, announces that he will only be eating pasta today, and returns his attention to the building blocks.

8 – I tell the toddler that he can have some jelly if he clears his plate. He immediately rushes to the table and I experience a horrible sinking feeling when I remember that we finished the jelly yesterday.

9 – I lift the baby into his high chair and take up position alongside him at the table, carefully hiding his yoghurt behind a mug so he doesn’t catch sight of it.

10 – I make the mistake of picking up the mug and accidentally take a swig of cold coffee from that morning. I recoil, he sees the yoghurt, and I spend the next 10 minutes smuggling bits of fish finger into his mouth between spoonfuls of strawberry yoghurt. He doesn’t seem to mind.

11 – Seeing the toddler speed through his plate, I start wondering whether jelly will set in the freezer in three minutes.

12 – I attempt to distract him by turning the television on and finding an episode of Peppa Pig.

13 – The baby tips his plate onto the floor while my back is turned.

14 – While I’m on my hands and knees picking up squashed potato from the floor, the toddler proudly delivers his empty plate, bar the peas, and announces that he is ready for his jelly. I tell him to eat the peas and he can have a yoghurt.

15 – The peas fly.



Dubai Competition: Win 1 of 5 Partylicious vouchers, worth Dhs200 each!

photo 1I am a big fan of dressing my boys in fancy dress costumes. When nursery announces a dress-up day, I get excited, as it means I can walk Stanley over the road dressed as a bumble bee / little elf /  caterpillar – and although he’s never the most willing participant at first, he warms up once he’s in it and is always pretty chuffed by the time we arrive at his classroom.

I’ve got to be honest though, with work every morning and mummy duties every afternoon, I am too exhausted every evening to sit there stitching something together. So ready-made costumes are an absolute lifesaver. In Dubai, however, I’ve never really known where to buy them – and when I do find a selection, it’s pretty slimline and I end up walking out the shop feeling uninspired.

So when Dubai company Partylicious got in touch to tell me about their costume selection, my ears instantly pricked up. Located inside Zaks stores across the region (in actually very convenient locations, with easy parking), there are kid’s costumes as far as the eye can see when you walk into the store. And they are really very good costumes!

I was allowed to pick some for the boys – and couldn’t resist the dinosaur and tiger. I knew the superhero would go down well too, so added that to my pile. We still have a cowboy outfit that I haven’t dressed Stanley in yet, but it’s equally good. I am really impressed with this company, the choice, and the quality of the outfits.

photo 2

photo 3photo 1photo 2photo 4To find out more about Partlicious and check out their store locations (I went to the Al Barsha branch, which is right next door to The Change Initiative and very easy from the Marina), visit www.partylicious-me.com

Partylicious offered me the chance to run a competition for my readers in the UAE to win one of five vouchers of Dhs200 each – and I jumped at the chance, as I wanted to spread the word about this cool  store and give you the chance to add to your costume collection to.

To enter, head over to my Facebook Page and do the following:

1) “Like” Mum of Boys (if you aren’t already)
2) “Like the competition post
3) Comment underneath with the name of your child’s / children’s book character.
4) You are under no obligation to share the post, but we would be very thankful 🙂

After two weeks, I will input all names into a random name generator (RandomPicker.com) and ask it to select five winners. After the big reveal, winners will be contacted by the company directly, who will arrange delivery of vouchers.

Terms & Conditions
The competition will be live for two weeks, with the winner names drawn and announced on April 15. Winning vouchers are for Dhs200 each, with five prize vouchers available. Vouchers are non-refundable and non-exchangable. The decision is final. Vouchers will be delivered to winners by Partylicious.