Monthly Archives: October 2015

30th October 2015

How I have changed in my 30’s…

315474_10150798467340607_1624261046_nAs you read this, I will be sat having dinner with my husband. Surrounded by sand dunes, flickering lanterns, and the sound of traditional music. It is the eve of my 35th birthday and I am celebrating at the very same hotel we came to celebrate my 30th.  The boys will be asleep with a babysitter in our hotel room (well, here’s hoping) – and we will no doubt be reminiscing about the last time we were at this hotel and spent our time on sun loungers, spa treatment beds, and dining chairs close to the breakfast buffet.

Life has changed beyond recognition these past five years. Back then, I was a few months away from getting married and moving full-time to the UAE. So here I am 5 years later, in exactly the same spot, but now a wife, an expat, and a mother of two.

These things all play a part in the person I am today, but I believe that my age pays a part too. My similarly aged friends that don’t have husbands, kids, or homes in the sunshine feel it too. The first half of our 30’s has changed us in the best ways.  So as I sit here reflecting, here is how life has changed for me in the first half of my 30′s…

1. I’ve realised I can’t do it all

Where as my 20’s were about running around at the speed of light, plotting, planning, and dreaming of all sorts of possibilities for my adult life ahead, my thirties have been about reeling it back in. I have realised that I can’t do everything, so I might as well concentrate on the things I am good at. I no longer harbor ambitions to train as a perfumer in Grasse, to open a chain of shabby-chic gift stores in a sleepy village in the UK, or to challenge myself to run marathons (no sniggering at the back). Instead, I want to concentrate on my boys, my husband, and my writing. My 30’s have slowed me down and given me focus. It no longer scares me that I can’t do everything; in fact it is both exciting and liberating that I have finally worked out what I am good at.

2. I have more respect for my body

It partly comes from growing my two boys, but also from three decades of getting to know my body – but these past 5 years have taught me to appreciate my body in a way I only wish I could lend myself in my teens and twenties. I still want to lose a bit of baby weight and have been known to try  quirky diets in the hope of looking better on the beach, but my expectations are lowered. I now understand that I can never have a body like Claudia Schiffer – I can only have a healthier version of what I was born with. I still have ‘fat days’ – but I know exactly what to throw on from my wardrobe to make me feel better. I’ve even been known to open the door in my pyjamas and no makeup, which would horrify my younger self. I just wish I could tell the 18-year-old me that no-one dropped down dead in shock when I walked to the shop without a slick of mascara.

3. Home is where the heart is

Rewind to my teens and early twenties and I’d rather chew off my own acrylic nails than sit on the sofa for an evening when the weekend rolled around. But now, there is nothing I’d rather do. I walk into my home and feel a sense of calm; a space that we created together as a family. If I didn’t have my children, I imagine I’d be out more often than I currently am – but I still think those evenings with a glass of wine, Netflix, and a takeaway on its way would still be my absolute favourite.  Being at home is no longer the fall-back option when plans fall through – it is the priority and there is nowhere I am happier.

4. I understand that life has its up’s and downs – and this shapes us

I had a happy childhood, but my teens and twenties weren’t always easy – but I have a new appreciation that those hard times shaped the person that I am today. I don’t think I had the emotional understanding before I hit my 30’s to fully appreciate this (preferring to pop on a Toni Braxton CD and drown in my sorrows in my bedroom). I now understand that life has its knocks – sometimes tragically, sometimes unjustly, sometimes undeservedly – but I hope I now have the inner-strength to get though those that come my way in the future.

5. I have fewer friends, but I have better friends

I used to think that a mark of success was the number of friends I could claim. I ran around exhausting myself, trying to keep up all these friendships, to see everyone regularly, to reply to emails and texts, to make long phone calls every evening, and to accept every social event invitation that came my way. My 30’s rolled around, I moved abroad, and I had kids – and it just wasn’t achievable anymore. Subsequently, I’ve lost touch with people  There were no dramatic arguments, no angry messages exchanged over social media – we just drifted apart quietly. I don’t feel remotely sad about this, as my 30’s have taught me that having less people on speed dial is no sacrifice when I can count fully on the few that are always there.

6. I know I have more to learn

If I compare myself to the person I was in my teens and twenties, the difference is huge – so I fully appreciate that I will change again my 40’s and again as the decades progress. Sometimes I think ahead and try to imagine the person that I will become – and that vision is usually a lady surrounded by dirty rugby kit, a few dogs at her feet, still trying (and failing) to be a domestic goddess, and my laptop still on the side working on overdrive. But I can only imagine how vastly my thoughts and my dreams will change in the years to come. I know I have so much to learn – and I know it won’t always be easy – but that is what excites me about the future.



28th October 2015

Just four little words…

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 20.49.31Life passes at a crazy pace when we have children. There are moments every day when we pause, notice that our child is now tall enough to reach the next shelf of the bookshelf or that their pyjamas no long stretch to their ankles, and feel a funny mixture of sadness and pride.

These moments happen daily. We take a moment to reflect and then we move on.

But then there are the big moments. The moments that remind us that they are growing up all too quickly. The moments that take us by surprise, prompting knots to tense in our tummies and tears to spring into our eyes.

I had a moment like that yesterday.

I was sitting in bed in the morning drinking a cup of coffee. It was 7am and usually I’d be running around making lunch boxes, dressing children, and trying to find the time for a shower before the school and nursery run. But that morning, I had woken up with no voice, just a croak like a frog when I tried to speak, so my husband had taken pity and told me to stay in bed.

It was such a novelty to hang out in my pyjamas at that time of the day and I definitely wasn’t arguing. I enjoyed the peace and quiet as I sipped coffee and watched boats sail across our windowpane within the sea view I rarely get a chance to appreciate.

I heard my husband announce that it was time to put on shoes and prepared myself to get up and say goodbye – but before I had a chance to move, a little head appeared around the door.

My three-year-old.

Are you OK, Mummy?” he asked.

Just four little words.

Tears filled my eyes.

Because after three and a half years of doing everything in my power to make sure that this child was fed, clean, healthy and happy, here was my payback.

He cared about me too.

It hit me like a lightning bolt. We don’t become mothers to get rewarded. We don’t clean bums every day to feel loved. We don’t stand in the kitchen cooking meals that inevitably get thrown across the room so that we get moments like these. In fact, moments like these don’t even cross our mind until they happen unexpectedly one morning at 7am, when we are still sipping coffee in our pyjamas.

I looked at my baby, stood in his school uniform as he peeked around the door with a look of real concern on his face. All the moments I have worried about him in the past, all the moments I have analysed his behaviour, all the moments I have shouted and regretted it, and all the moments I have insisted he say ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’. All those moments crossed my mind in a flash.

I never needed to worry.

Yes baby, I’m OK”, I croaked.

And with that, he smiled, turned, and ran happily out of the door.



27th October 2015

Guest Post: Why my daughter sometimes wears pink (and I’m not very pleased about it)

h and pHelen Farmer from The Mothership tells us why she’s fighting a losing battle against all things girly…

Ready for some history? In the 1940s clothing manufacturers ‘assigned’ the gender-specific colours for boys and girls we know today; before then babies would wear white – easy for bleaching when nappies exploded. Over the decades that followed, pink and powder blue were widespread until the 1970s, when the popularity of feminism soared, and almost all children wore bright primary colours. Think awesome dungarees with unisex T-shirts that were passed down through the family.

Then came the 1980s, and pre-natal testing changed all that. Parents could find out the sex of their unborn child, and go shopping for ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ products, with retailers targeting their burgeoning desire to buy items specifically for the new arrival.

Jo B. Paoletti, author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America says “The more you individualize clothing, the more you can sell,” and, sure enough, pink and blue nappies, bedding and toys were in every baby shop – then when the next sprog came along and was a different gender to the first, parents would buy again, and nurseries were redecorated.

Fast forward to today, and we have a greater choice. Many parents choose not find out the sex of their unborn child so instead buy tiny white, cream and grey clothes with the odd yellow or green splash, and paint nurseries in neutrals.

For a lot of mums, dressing their little girls in pink seems a bit out-dated and not very ‘of the moment’. And I was like that – for a while.

As we started to accumulate clothing for our daughter while I was pregnant, many friends and family bought us candyfloss-hued dresses, bubble-gum babygrows and outfits stitched with pink embroidery. When it came to sheer numbers, I was fighting a losing battle.

I’m also realising that geography plays a part. It’s traditional in this part of the world for baby girls to have their ears pierced at an early age – it’s even part of birth packages at some UAE hospitals – so by not having Phoebe’s lobes adorned we started to confuse people. Add in my penchant for Breton and grey (for both of us), and soon every stranger we met thought she was a boy. This now happens a lot.

At brunch a few months ago she was dressed in head to toe florals and the valet still said, “He’s so cute”. I’m more used to it than my husband, who sternly said “SHE”. To my mind, if there’s any confusion over the gender of a baby (and let’s be honest, they all look pretty much the same for the first year) it’s time to break out the stock phrase:

“So cute! What’s your name, little one?” – and cross your fingers it’s not an unfamiliar name, or one that works for both boys and girls.

Aesthetically I’m more a fan of the 1970s brights, with lots of stripes thrown in for good measure, but given our previous form for supermarket cashiers/valets/waitresses/randoms in the mall telling me how cute my baby boy is, I confess that if I know we’re going to a busy place I often dress Phoebe in pink. Truthfully, I don’t like embarrassing people when I correct them, so if I have to put my preferences aside for social graces, then I’ll suck it up.

After speaking to friends who tried their best to go neutral, it seems that after a certain age (around two years old), children go their own way regardless, from boys wanting to wear Elsa dresses to girls who had previously worn their brothers’ hand-me-downs throwing themselves face first into all things purple and sparkly. You can’t fight it. And it’s all good.

Whether Phoebe grows up to wear denim and scruffy tees, or prim and proper dresses, I obviously have no idea – she may well do both, as I do. But while I’m in charge of her wardrobe, we’re keeping the pink to a minimum. Unless we’re doing the weekly shop.

My top shops for non-girly baby clothes:

GAP

I buy boy’s shorts and joggers for Phoebe, and the onesies are super-soft. If you’re in Dubai, check out the Outlet Mall for bargains.

M&S

The multi-packs of short-sleeves tops work across both genders. I’ve fallen for the fruit-adorned tees (and intend to stock up in bigger sizes).

Boden

You’ll find high quality cotton, and outfits guaranteed make you nostalgic, with corduroy and Peter Pan collars.

Mothercare

Jools Oliver’s Little Bird range is 1970s-tastic, with rainbow colours, classics and plenty of whimsy.

Toby Tiger

Available through Not On The High Street, this line combines great colours and stripes with my love of dogs, resulting in must-order dresses, leggings and sleepsuits. I’ve spent way too much money with this company already.



26th October 2015

7 things I regret being so smug about…

1797598_10154151094290607_720734796924910900_n1. His love of sleep. My second baby was a dream sleeper right from the beginning. And I mean right from the very beginning. I was told off for not waking him up to feed on just his second night in the world – but having had a year of sleepless nights with my first baby, I just couldn’t bring myself to disturb him. We enjoyed uninterrupted sleep for months. I’d meet people and they’d say ‘you must be exhausted’ and I’d juggle up whether it sounded too smug to tell them the truth. But then, at 6 months old, that same sleepy baby woke up from his slumber. And yes, he’s been pretty much wide-awake ever since.

2. His healthy diet. I remember the days when my newly weaned baby would eat at least 10 different fruit and vegetables every single day. I made everything from scratch and loved watching him gobble it up in seconds. And then when he moved onto finger foods, I would smugly pull a pot of home-cooked peas or mixed vegetables out of my bag and hand it to him to snack on. Oh he was such a good eater! Everything that passed his lips was home-cooked and nutritious! And then he became a toddler, decided he couldn’t possibly swallow anything green, and well, I discovered the joy of frozen fish fingers.

3. His love of swimming. My baby loved being in water from the first moment we took him the pool. He loved baths, he loved the sea, and he loved swimming lessons. When it was his turn to be dunked underwater, he came up happily, whilst babies all around spluttered and cried. At the very least, I was convinced he’d be a ridiculously early swimmer – and at best, a future Olympian. Then one night, around time he started walking, he flatly refused to get in the bath. Water was not our friend for a long time after that.

4. My easy pregnancy I didn’t feel nauseous when I was pregnant with my first baby. I felt so normal that at times, I didn’t even believe I was pregnant. I couldn’t wait to do it all again, as pregnancy was a bit of a breeze. Only the second time, it just wasn’t. And so I hid away in my apartment, scoffing ginger sweets and sipping ginger tea between trips to the bathroom  – and with a toddler in tow, I had a little shadow following me in there every time. I haven’t even been able to sniff ginger since those days – and I still hate my pregnant self the first time round.

 5. His newborn wardrobe. As I stroked my bump and sorted through little outfits, I praised myself for such a well thought-out little wardrobe my baby would wear! I was going to have the best-dressed baby boy in Dubai! And probably did – for about three weeks, at least. After that, he was too big for all the lovely clothes I had bought and I had to run around the shops with the buggy between feeds, trying to find the next size up. Subsequently, he looked like he’d been dressed in a jumble sale – and at times, I still think he does.

6. His love of brushing his teeth. I listened to other parents talking about tactics for getting their children to brush their teeth and wondered why they found it so hard! After all, my baby adored pushing his toothbrush around his gummy mouth – and as he got older, nothing changed. We loved brushing our teeth! It was easy! My second baby, however, viewed the toothbrush as a torture device and I still practically have to get him in a headlock to stand any chance of getting him to do it.

7. His lack of movement. Oh life was easy when he couldn’t move! I could pop him in the baby gym, head over to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, answer the door to a delivery man, check my emails, and have a phone conversation before he got bored with the brightly coloured animals swinging in front of his face. I had this motherhood thing nailed! And then the day came that he inched forwards on the living room rug like a commando to reach for a ball a few inches away – and from that moment, life was never the same again.



22nd October 2015

The Mummy Friend Mantra

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1. No topic of conversation will be considered ‘inappropriate’.

Right from the beginning, we will discuss things that we would never dare mutter to another living soul. Nobody will raise an eyebrow when we bring up the likes of constipation, hemorrhoids, varicose veins or perineal massage. And when our small people arrive in this world, the mention of cracked nipples, painful stitches, and the colour and contents of our baby’s nappies will be met with instant retorts of ‘ME TOO!’ so we no longer feel alone.

2. We will treat each other like family

Exposed a breast on our second ever meet-up? Left me in charge of your most precious (living, breathing, and kicking) possession while you nip to the loo in a café? Realised you have forgotten to bring out your purse and have to buy nappies or life as you know it will end? No problem! We are one big family now and we will treat each other like long-lost siblings from the very first meeting.

 3. You will not judge me when I cancel

When you send a text at the exact moment our mum date is scheduled to kick off to say that you won’t make it this week, I will not judge you. After all, I have been there. I remember the time when I was due to walk out the door with a baby dressed in his best outfit, when suddenly I heard an explosion and saw it leaking out of the baby gro on the kitchen floor. I also remember the time my baby dropped off to sleep after an 8-hour screaming marathon overnight and I climbed into my bed like a robot. And I remember the times I was actually on my way the meet-up, but then I had a crisis of confidence so I turned the buggy around and walked straight back through my front door. I am thankful that my friends didn’t judge me and kept inviting me to join them – and I will do the same for you.

4. You will talk to me

You will provide much-needed adult conversation when I have been stuck in a never-ending cycle of feeding, changing, and smiling like a goon at my new baby in the hope he will smile back – and when those babies get a bit older, the addition of picking food up from the floor, playdoh from the carpet, and toys from the living room floor. As soon as we are in each other’s company, I will feel like myself again for a while.

5. Our children will grow up together

At first, the meet-ups will be all about us – but as the years tick on, we will notice that our children actually like each other. They will run around like a team of excited cousins whenever they see each other, while we sip coffee and discuss important issues like going back to work, husband dramas, possible future children, and when we are next going out for wine. The latter will prove hard to arrange, but we will get there eventually and will be amazing and we will say in unison ‘we really should do this more often’.

6. You will understand when I am having a ‘bad day’

You will be able to tell instantly when I am having a bad day – and instead of keeping your distance with the fear I might snap, you will offer me coffee/cake/wine and ask me if everything is OK. And you will make me feel better within seconds. Always. And that is why you are brilliant.



19th October 2015

Dear Wilfred, You wanted to be different from the very second you were born…

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 09.29.27Dear Wilfred,

You wanted to be different from the very second you were born. As you were placed in my arms, I looked down and expected to see a bald baby just like your brother, but you had a mop of thick, black hair. You looked different, you felt different, and your cry was different. After 9 months of expecting to be handed a carbon copy of your brother, this surprised me over and over again.

Unlike your brother, you liked sleep from the beginning. I was told off by the nurses for letting you sleep at night – but after a year of sleep deprivation with your brother, there was no way I was waking you. And we enjoyed every second of that while it lasted (and it didn’t last long).

Once we were home, I expected everything to be the same in those early days, but you kept reminding me that second babies have their own agenda. You didn’t like to be put down during the day, preferring to always be held. When I placed you in the baby chair that always sent your brother to sleep, you screamed. You preferred our bed to your cot. And when I tried to wean you, I expected you to enthusiastically gobble up the porridge and request more with hungry wails like your brother had done two years before – but you were so furious in your rejection that it was another two full months before we tried again.

I don’t know why any of these things surprised me, but they did. I felt like I had the motherhood things nailed, but you reminded me time and time again that I definitely hadn’t. Your brother wrote one baby rulebook – and you tore it up completely and rewrote it in your own words.

You became a toddler and the differences kept coming. When your brother is told off, he cries and runs to his room – where as you will throw something across the room in anger. You rarely give out cuddles for free – but when you do, they are so precious that we freeze and drink in every second. You are a comedian, desperate to make us laugh. We ask each other constantly ‘does he mean to be funny? Or is that just how he is?’

You have different interests too. I tried so hard to interest your brother in cars, trains, diggers and trucks (after all, we can see about four building sites from our living room window so this hobby would’ve filled so many long afternoons), but he much preferred to pick up a book about the alphabet or get creative with paints. So when you picked up a car and drove it down our hallway before you’d even turned one, I felt bubbles of excitement. A year later and you narrate every car journey with shrieks of ‘DIGGER!’ ‘BIG TRUCK’ and ‘MUMMY! MUMMY! A TRAIN!’ and go to sleep clutching toy cars in your fist.

It’s hard for you sometimes to be the second child. A small age difference and an adoration for your older brother that means you are always, quite literally, in his shadow. When I stuck your name stickers on your nursery bag and lunchbox just a few weeks ago, I was shocked to see your name. How strange to talk to a teacher about a different child and stick up pieces of artwork on the fridge bearing a different name! For so long, you were ‘the baby’. But now you are Wilfred. Seeing those name stickers was a reminder that it is who you have been all along.

I am sad that you are no longer my squidgy baby, but I am so happy and proud that it is your turn to shine. On your own. Without your brother by your side.

You are different.

Always different.

But it is so wonderful that way.

Mummy x



13th October 2015

Definition of Mother: Someone that is pretty sure she is screwing it up

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 21.06.54Yesterday morning, I had a bit of a treat, as after dropping off my eldest at school and youngest at nursery, I met a friend for a coffee. I usually head straight to work for the morning, not even pausing to take a bite of a croissant or sip of coffee as I flip open my laptop and start scrolling through my phone – but yesterday, that laptop and phone stayed in my bag for the first hour and I enjoyed a blissful, kids-free, work-free hour of chat with one of my longest friends in Dubai.

As we sipped our coffees, we started chatting about life, work, and inevitably our children. My friend is currently enjoying a career break after leaving a high-powered, demanding job – and as we discussed that old role, our thoughts turned to motherhood and the struggles to make it work. And between sips of cappuccino, she said something that floored me:

I felt like the worst mother in the world”.

I was shocked, because this friend always looked like she had it under control, the proud owner of a great job, two beautiful children, a lovely house, and bubbly personality. I knew she had a demanding job, but I felt like she had the motherhood thing nailed. If the truth be known, I had always felt jealous of her. It had never occurred to me that she felt like she was doing it wrong.

Once I’d got over the shock, that one sentence got me thinking – and I’d go as far as to say it has changed the way I think about motherhood.

After all, I have felt the same lots of times. When I am not with the boys in the morning, I feel pangs of guilt. And when I am with them in the afternoon, I blame anything that goes wrong on myself. I should do more play dates, I should organise more activities, I should stop shouting, I  should feed them more vegetables, I should stop worrying about being organised and just get down on the floor and play.

I know rationally that I am doing a good enough job and my boys are credit to that, but the doubt is always there in the back of my mind.

And if I feel like that – and my friend feels like that, do we not all feel like that?

Millions of mothers all over the world who feel like they are screwing it up.

The mother that strides into school juggling three children so effortlessly, with perfectly blow-dried hair and a wardrobe to match.

The celebrity that juggles a life in the spotlight with a brood of beautiful, bright-eyed, curly-locked children.

The blogger that hands out parenting advice with such a confident tone.

The yoga queen that springs back into shape straight after having babies and has her children on a diet of vegetables and quinoa.

The stay-at-home mother that seems so content, full of inspiration for activities and excursions for her children.

I have felt jealous of all these people in the past for just how confident, together, and calm they seem. Jealous that they have it all under control. But underneath it all, they probably have moments when they feel like they are screwing it up too.

After all, there is no perfect way to be a mother. There is no manual. So we never know when we are doing it right or wrong.

Our conversation yesterday has taught me that confidence can sometimes be a mask.

And it’s made me realise that all that worry, all that doubt, and all that uncertainty about whether we are doing is properly is part of the job description.

And that is exactly what makes us mothers.



12th October 2015

30 reasons why it definitely isn’t bedtime yet (according to my three year old).

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 19.49.221. He needs a wee.

2. He needs another wee.

3. He needs a drink of water.

4. He needs a drink of water in a different cup to the one I gave him.

5. He needs a poo

6. He doesn’t like the dark

7. He needs his light night switched off so he can see his torch

8. He doesn’t like the dark again

9. His brother is making too much noise.

10. His brother has gone to sleep.

11. He has a bit of snot on his finger that he needs collecting.

12. There’s a small thread hanging from his pyjama sleeve that he needs removing.

13. He needs another wee.

14. He needs to know the exact plan for the next day.

15. He needs a detailed recap of the exact plan for the next day.

16. He has a few suggestions for amendments to the exact plan for the next day.

17. There is definitely a monster under his bed.

18. There is definitely a monster hiding in the wardrobe.

19. He doesn’t like the dark again.

20. He thinks he probably needs a wee again.

21. His finger hurts (he can’t remember which one).

22. He forgot to tell me that he got glue on his polo shirt at school today.

23. He also forgot to tell me that his friend let him have a bit of his yoghurt.

24. He’s remembered that I promised he could watch Team Umizoomi after tea but forgot to put it on.

25. He has to watch Team Umizoomi right now or he won’t be able to sleep.

26. There was a strange noise outside.

27. There is a strange bit of light coming from under the door.

28. An emergency needs to be declared as he has lost his cuddly bunny in his duvet.

29. He’s pretty sure he needs another wee.

30. He thinks this is ridiculous, because HE’S JUST NOT TIRED.

 



8th October 2015

Dear man on the escalator…

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 14.04.33It was a pretty average Sunday afternoon. We needed to visit the supermarket, so we had woken the boys from their nap, piled them in the car, and driven around the mall. After a pretty uneventful trip around the supermarket (bar the usual ‘Mummy, I NEED this cereal, I NEED THIS CEREAL!’ from the three-year-old and grabby hands from the toddler that sent 5 tins of canned peas thudding onto the floor and nearly tripping up an unsuspecting fellow shopper), we decided to feed the boys in a nearby pasta restaurant before returning home.

We’d had a nice afternoon and the boys were tired after a busy weekend. Wilfred started to grizzle, so I reached into my bag for his cuddly monkey and his dummy and he was immediately calmed.

We started making our way back down to the car park on the escalator – and that is when we saw you. You were travelling in the opposite direction in a suit.

You were just a man on an escalator.

But as we passed you, that changed.

As you came level with us, you looked at my little 20 month old, raised your eyebrows and made sure that we heard you tut loudly, before meeting my eyes and holding your disapproving gaze.

Then you disappeared.

It was obvious what you were trying to convey. You weren’t trying to tell us that you agree his last haircut was a disaster (it really was). You weren’t trying to communicate that my quirky sense in boy’s fashion sometimes makes my boys look like girls (it really does sometimes).

No. It was his dummy. You didn’t like the dummy.

I didn’t bother to say anything to my husband, who had been busy chatting to our three-year as we passed you. I wasn’t upset or even surprised, as after three years of this parenting ride, I know how frequently we are judged.

But it did make me feel quite angry that you had the nerve.

And it got me thinking.

Why couldn’t you look down, see his dummy, and keep your thoughts to yourself? Why couldn’t you tell your wife about it later over a glass of wine and home cooked dinner? Why was the sight of a toddler with his dummy such a shock to you, that you met his mother’s eyes to let her know she was doing such a terrible job?

I have thick skin when it comes to things like this, but what if I’d had a really bad day? What if I didn’t have my husband with me? What if I’d been at breaking point?

This letter isn’t about justifying my decisions. I know I don’t have to do that to anybody. This letter is about the power of a disapproving look.

It’s about how easy it is to shoot a disapproving look.

But how difficult it is to forget.

As parents, we often come across men like you on escalators.

Ladies like you in cafés.

Well-meaning family friends.

Opinionated people at baby groups.

Thrashed-out status updates on social media.

As the years tick by, we get used to it and our skin thickens.

But that doesn’t make it OK.

I know you won’t read this letter, but maybe somebody else will – and next time, they’ll look the other way and keep their thoughts to themself.

As you disappeared out of view, I glanced back in the hope that Karma had distracted you and you’d missed the end of the escalator and fallen into an embarrassed heap.

No such luck.

But I have high hopes that if there’s a next time, Karma will spot you and give you a wave.

Louise



7th October 2015

Guest Post: You’re having a girl (well, I’m 80% sure you are)

I have a lot of readers with little girls – and there’s no doubting that it can sometimes get a bit boy-focused on my blog, as well, that is what I happen to have. But I’ve wanted to do something as a nod to the girl mummies for a while, so I’m very excited to announce a new series of guest posts on this blog from (shock, horror) a mother of the female species. Helen Farmer is a magazine editor here in Dubai and blogger at The Mothership.  She’s also Mummy to beautiful little Phoebe.

Helen’s blog posts are funny, insightful, and make you nod along in agreement – so she is the perfect person to fly the flag for girls on a blog full of little boys. So without further ado, here is her first post – and I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the next one.

Screen shot 2015-10-07 at 09.31.10You’re having a girl (well, I’m 80% sure you are)

My husband comes from a long line of men. I’m not just talking a few generations, I mean almost 200 years of baby boys. The family tree is hilarious – acres of Williams, Roberts, and Jocks.

When we found out I was pregnant there was no doubting that we would be joining this long-standing tradition of testosterone. None. Names were picked. Mr Farmer carefully considered the sport his firstborn son would excel at (he decided on golf or tennis). You know where this is going…

Each month after every scan we went out for a bite to eat (I had a hungry pregnancy so any excuse was embraced). One month, around the 18-week mark, we met at the clinic, he talked me out of my usual scanxiety and we went upstairs to see the doctor. Dr J is a matter of fact kind of guy – that’s why we like him – and with ultrasound wand in one hand, he casually said ‘Well, it looks like you’re having a girl. I’m around 80% certain’.

My husband went white. I burst into happy tears, totally unaware that I’d been hankering after a tiny brown-eyed mini me.

Dinner afterwards was somewhat quiet. Quick to reassure me as I worriedly watched his pale face and racing brain, my husband repeated ‘I’m not disappointed, I’m just recalibrating’. I think he was a little disappointed, but hid it (fairly) well, bless him. But mainly I suspect he was a little scared of the great unknown – with a brother, prep school and boarding school, I’m pretty sure he didn’t meet a girl that wasn’t a cousin until he was 16…

Over the next few days he’d oh so casually say ‘Dr J said 80% sure, didn’t he?’ and I’d reply saying that we’d know more at the 20-week scan, the biggie where a different doctor would look at all of the baby’s organs while we watched on a flatscreen TV as my husband sat in a Joey and Chandler-style leather armchair. That bit appealed, I think.

Once at this clinic, we were ushered into the darkened room, leather lounger waiting, and spent half an hour agonisingly checking all of junior’s vitals. This doctor was looking for any abnormalities in the baby’s heart, lungs and kidneys, but there was only one organ Mr Farmer was interested in. ‘Is it a girl?’ he asked, faux casual. ‘Oh yes, of course. Look here is her…’ he doctor started, then went on to point out some parts of the anatomy that definitely do not belong to little boys. My husband went green.

Gender confirmed, it was time to decide on a name, with both of us offering increasingly ridiculous suggestions. The problem with Farmer as a surname is that anything floral is out – Rose Farmer, Lily Farmer, Poppy Farmer… Even Kathryn with Kitty for short was vetoed lest we sound like we were raising a cat breeder.

We decided on the name Phoebe a week before. And Mr Farmer fell in love with her immediately. Though I fear that if the second born is a girl he might leave us.

Joking. I think.

http://themothershipdxb.com