Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Twin Tuesday: Tales from the Car

I have dubbed Tuesday "Twin Tuesday" as it is the day that I pick up M's pal for playgroup and drop off afterwards (at his house, just to clarify). Today they both sampled a new class called "Little Performers" in the morning too, so an extra pick up/drop off session (M and I got lunch in-between so we scored on this one). Nickname of "Twin Tuesday" because these two little bosom buddies weirdly look very similar, identical height and both slightly bonkers. Herein are the tales from the journey today.

En route to the class this morning, Toddler Boy starts singing.

Toddler Girl: "stop singing".

Toddler Boy: "I want to sing".

Me: "M let Toddler Boy sing, in fact let's all sing". Tries desperately to identify song to encourage sing-along.

Toddler Girl: (slightly raised voice) "stop singing!".

Toddler Boy still singing.

Toddler Girl (very raised voice) "stop singing!".

Toddler Boy (screaming) "I want to sing!".

Toddler Girl starts crying.

Toddler Boy keeps singing.

I turn up the radio.

Arrive at venue. Minor altercation with Toddler Girl whilst she insists on an umbrella and refuses to carry her bag. Diva. Toddler Boy stares at her, can almost hear him thinking "geezo chick, lighten up and let's get moving!". Thankfully a new and very awesome place then renders them both silent and I can lead them wide-eyed and open-mouthed to their class.

Then, a trip to the toilet whereby Toddler Girl tries to get in their first and in mid-flow of the sentence explaining why she must go first, Toddler boy yanks down his trousers and hops on the toilet. Hmmm Toddler Girl, actions speak louder than words my dear, but you will learn. I giggle which possible helps avert Toddler Girl's tears.

After class, same bag/brella saga from Toddler Girl. Sigh. Other people's kids are sometimes way better than your own.

Both fall asleep on journey back to Toddler Boy's house. Exhausting class obviously. Don't think the "Sleepytime classics" CD I put on for them had anything to do with the snooze really... (okay, maybe a bit, this CD is amazing, a must buy really!). Both wake slightly grumpy, but managed some lunch, then back in the car to playgroup. Toddler Girl clingy, Toddler Boy won't wear his jacket.

Arrive at playgroup. Toddler Girl still won't carry her rucksack, then asks for it as we are crossing the road. Toddler Boy asks for his jacket at the same time. I hear my own slightly high-pitched voice saying: "we're in the middle of the road, please walk and then we can figure this out once safe and sound on the other side". Toddler Girl asks what "sound" means and Toddler Boy asks me where I got my ring from. I start to giggle hysterically.

En route home from playgroup, they are both high as kites and playing a game whereby Toddler Girl's soft toy cat is being used as a ball. Mucho giggles from Toddler Girl as Toddler Boy flings cat around the backseat. I imagine this is how 3 year olds flirt. Toddler Girl then asks to hold Toddler Boy's hand, he obliges and I think how sweet, until I remember Toddler Boy is in a booster seat and when I glance in the rearview mirror, he is half lying across the back seats to reach Toddler Girl's hand. This is clearly not safe and I wildly start reaching behind me and try to convince Toddler Boy to sit up and Toddler Girl to let his (now) arm go! A short result for me and still more giggles from the back seat.

Arriving at Toddler Boy's house, they throw a casual "see you tomorrow" at each other and I get a cuddle from Toddler Boy. Bliss. They really are a beloved pair these two.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Life after a SAHM?

So, we got THE letter today. The one that tells you which of your two choices for a school's nursery your child has got into. The one that also tells you which days and times they have been allocated. This is quite significant in our household because firstly, it means our baby girl is growing up way too fast and is now old enough for school's nursery and secondly it means there is a possibility that some of my time will be freed up and I can contemplate stepping back into the working world.

M is currently in a local playgroup (sadly shutting at the end of this term), as of this week she now goes 4 times a week, from the new school year she will attend 5 days a week, 2.5 hours a day. I'm thinking with the aid of a childminder (yet to be found), some clever logistics (yet to be discussed) and a bit of give from Himindoors' work (yet to be seen) I could possibly go back to part time work.

The possibility of going back to work doesn't scare me half as much as the realisation that my little baby is going to be 3 years old next week and will be in a big school's nursery at the end of summer! But that mushy, sobbing, clingy mommy post will have to wait for another day as tonight it is all about the "mommy returning to work" discussion in our house.

First a bit of history: I never actually thought I would be a SAHM. I was always very ambitious and, before and during pregnancy, I crowed to anyone who would listen about how I would definitely be a working mom. No aprons and homemaking for me, I was going to mother in stiletto's! Somewhat hypocritical and from my current SAHM status I can admit that a) I was wrong and judgemental and b) I have worn mostly converse and pumps since pregnancy and beyond.

How did I get here then?

From a Marketing job in an oil company, I took a year's maternity leave. I didn't return to that job as they needed full time, I could only give part time. I then took a part time post in a Marketing Communications Agency. This worked swimmingly for a good 6 months, with a combination of nursery and a daddy who worked in his own consultancy business from home... until said daddy took a full time role in a big company and all the childcare arrangements had to shift. Part time wages, childcare costs and a few other factors led to (drum roll) SAHM. I kept a hand in my CV with occasional freelance work until October last year and then took to Twitter and more recently blogging to keep abreast of market trends, company's news and an attempt to keep my skills (and brain) fresh.

At first I flitted between loving my decision to missing an office, to loving the time with my girl to thinking I was drowning in ballet and crafts. In all honestly mostly loving it, I have really cherished the time with M and am proud at how my hard work to keep us busy and stimulated has really paid off (i.e. a year on and I haven't found myself rocking in a corner once!). However, I always envisioned that I would go back to work, either when she starts school nursery or when she starts school. Some small part of me has always clung on to that ambitious woman in the stiletto's (not least because she was a lot thinner than the woman I am today!). This is the current discussion and really there are more questions than answers.

For instance, does being a SAHM affect your CV? Does it affect how potential employers view you or your experience? Do you abandon your old career path? Can your old career path be resurrected? Do you apply for jobs on a level that you were on before stopping work or do you put yourself back at market entry level? Do you beg and explain that although you are 1 (2 or 3) years out of the game you are still capable, hard working, enthusiastic and have that thing were you do way more than you should in a job and work after hours just because you have "a good idea"? Phew.

And then, do you get a childminder then a job or a job then a child minder? Which is it, dear readers, chicken or egg?!

Am exhausted just thinking about it, so think I'll just have a small vino before bed and put my head in the sand a bit longer. It is almost summer holidays after all...

Thursday, 5 April 2012

There's a Pirate in our house!

First Easter Holiday activity for M and I was a cinema outing with some of her mini-pals to see "Pirates, An Adventure with Scientists". M is almost 3 years old and has been to the cinema quite a few times, she really enjoys it and it is always a great "rainy" day activity for us. Possibly the popcorn is the most alluring factor for her at the moment, but she does sit and often laughs out loud at the film (she gets that from me) and on occasion has been known to dance in the aisles (me again I'm afraid). Whilst waiting for the Muppets Movie the new Pirates film was advertised and I never heard the end of it until I was able to confirm the play date to her.

From the makers of Wallace & Gromit and with Hugh Grant voicing the main man Pirate Captain, I can't deny that I was looking forward to seeing this too. And it didn't disappoint! Overall a clever, amusing and highly entertaining film. One of those gems that give enough children's comic to keep them sitting still and a healthy dollop of thinly-veiled adult content to keep the parents amused. I did laugh out loud. A lot. Possibly the only one at times, but nothing new there.

One of my favourite things about this film was one of the characters, Cutlass Liz. She was one of the rival Pirate Captain's and sashayed her way onto the screen all buxom bosoms and very-rounded hips. Voiced by Salma Hayek, Kitty Softpaws of recent Puss in Boots fame, Cutlass Liz was a proper badass. When presenting her Pirate Loot, she handed over a massive diamond, I think the irony of this was completely lost on the Toddler, but only further illustrated that this woman was proper "doing it for herself"! Sista.

I thought Cutlass Liz was pretty cool when she swung into the movie (really those hips do nothing more than swing!) but was impressed when M turned to me and said "she looks like me mommy!". Now the Toddler is all blue eyes, curly blonde hair, long legs and "toddler shaped", so actually nothing of the Barbados-origin, big-breasted, hip swinging type that Cutlass Liz represented. Plus she doesn't drink rum or spit through her teeth. But, I couldn't help but admire her thought process. My little one was obviously as appreciative of this character as I was, and really I was impressed with her body image.

Now if I can bottle some of that positive body image and hang onto the good bits, wielding out the crop tops, shirt tied under the breasts, rum drinking and spitting I think we're onto a winner for a sound 14-year old... or maybe she just really wants to be a Girl Pirate!?

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Without "obvious" pain, can I still comment?

Yesterday Twitter alerted me to a feature in the Guardian that really caught my attention. It was written by a writer I really admire (not in a stalker-type-admire-way I haste to add), Bibi Lynch, and came with a warning that mother's may well be offended. I was quite nervous before reading the piece as a)I am a mother and b) I really enjoy reading Ms Lynch's work (not a stalker I assure you) and didn't want her to offend me.

Safe to say, I was not offended in the slightest! Hooray, I can carry on being a non-stalker-type fan and go about my business for the day. Except I couldn't, because I felt great pain on behalf of Ms Lynch and the feature, as well as the subsequent backlash, has haunted me all weekend. This leads me to here, my blog.

I have been waiting for a chance to write a response to the feature since yesterday morning. Having now got my chance I started doing some research on the feedback regarding the article. Holy cr*p people, cut the woman some slack, she can't have children! Imagine that? Can you, as a Mother, imagine that? I can't. Also, to the women reviewers who don't have children, cut the mother's some slack! We all moan, moaning is a very personal thing and we can only do it with what we know best. Ourselves. And our lot in life.

Plenty of people have taken to the 'net to provide sympathy, give moral support, express outrage and hurl abuse towards Lynch and the feature. Having trolled through a large chunk of them, I started to wonder what I could contribute? I have a child, so will never truly know the depths of her pain. I have a standard issue child*, so cannot fully know the pains of raising one with difficulties or any other defects. Plus, I didn't suffer from anything other than a scratch across the belly, sore breasts and severe tiredness after giving birth, so am out of that camp too.

So, what am I doing here then and why was I not offended? I am possibly a prime candidate to be offended:- we have a mom and dad in our family. A loud, yet adorable toddler. Dad works. Mom stays at home with said toddler. We do "family stuff", I do non-mom fun stuff, we go on family holidays and sometimes dad cooks. Bonus. I wasn't offended because the article calls for us mom's to count our blessings. And I do. Every night and throughout the day, particularly for my little girl and my family. Also, whilst reading the piece, I didn't see it as being about me for one minute. I didn't feel the need to defend my grumblings as all I could see was the pain at not being able to have children.

As to what I am doing here, commenting on the feature, I wanted to say this: firstly, the feature was published in a newspaper. Newspapers need readers and internet hits. Headlines sell papers and draw traffic to a website. It needs to be hard hitting and get a response - good or bad. Secondly, the feature was a very honest, emotional and personal piece based on one aspect of one woman's journey. Read between the lines, this lady is in pain. Following Ms Lynch on Twitter and reading any of her work from her Grazia columns, you will quickly see that she doesn't throw things at mothers in the street, she doesn't avoid children in public places and in fact knows people with children!

Lastly, she is a writer. A review of her work is one thing, a point of view from either side is another thing, but abuse is a whole other game and really, no one should be playing on that team.

*although my baby girl is standard issue, I obviously think she is perfect and the best in every possible way! Being her mother and all.