Monday, 28 September 2015

A Change Is As Good As a Rest (Our Caravan Holiday)

This blog has always been a snapshot of my everyday reality at home and sometimes I feel like I'm being a right mardy cow. I finish every other sentence with, "For fuck's sake" and in part I think this is because I'm simply far more compelled to write about stuff that has wound me up. I've made no bones about finding motherhood more than a bit tough at times and writing is a bit like therapy; the comments from you guys quite often feel like a reassuring pat on the shoulder which says, 'You're doing alright.' For that, I am eternally grateful.  

Anyway, as you know my vow has always been to document the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the 'I've-Watched-So-Much-Twatty-Paw-Patrol-I-Might-Kill-Someone' truth. So as we jetted off drove down to our caravan in Cornwall I made the same vow about the holiday. I'd give you the warts and all rundown.

Well here's the thing. The holiday warts were much less warty (totally not talking about a nasty STI here, just to be clear). It's true I've given the virtual Screw You to 'Supermum' many times before and I stand by that gesture (Supermum is not a real person, she's a mythical beast much like Ruth from Shelly Parkinson's daughter's comprehension homework). However, this weekend I came the closest I probably ever have to dabbling in Supermumdom.
Not outwardly, I don't suppose. Supermum would never have rewarded her child's shitty behaviour by giving him a Twister.

Supermum would never have said, "Oh you don't need to buy a poncho my darling they're just trying to rip us off!" as her unsuspecting three year old (and husband) set off on the log flume only to return five minutes later soaked to their underpants.

Supermum would never have forgotten to pack her son's bedtime toy nor would she guiltily have bought an extortionately priced toy cow from a gift shop as compensation (no the original isn't a cow, I did what I could with limited resources).

Supermum would not have whispered, 'Do what you fucking like' under her breath when her son didn't want the sausage he had chosen from the chip shop and instead wanted a jumbo sausage (even though after much shouting it soon became clear that in actual fact he simply hated all sausages. Since when? Since that exact moment, obviously).
So whilst I didn't rock up to the beach with well groomed children and organic healthy snacks and a list of 101 ways to be the best fucking mum ever there was something about being on holiday that just felt great.
It felt different.

I had more patience. I swore under my breath far less. On several occasions I caught myself  laughing so hard it was dangerous (maybe one time it was more than dangerous). I got stuck in. I went on water slides and built sandcastles and made hot chocolate and let Henry stay up late to look at the moon.

So if you want to know if I'd recommend squeezing small people and luggage into a car to embark on a mini-break adventure then absolutely I would.

Was it easy? No, but somehow it felt easier than being at home.

Was it relaxing? No. (I optimistically packed not one but TWO books for a three night break. I also packed running trainers. I read five pages of one book and I didn't go for a run, I watched the X Factor with a beer instead).

Was it worth it? Yes. Truly, it was worth it. For once the Scales of Parenthood Woe were tipped in my favour and I've come home feeling a bit bloody fantastic. I might even do some crafty shit tomorrow (just kidding, unless putting Mister Maker on counts as craft time).

My best friend described holidaying with kids as 'Same Shit, Different Location' and she wasn't wrong. Yet somehow I felt more positive about the shit. I had more shit-fighting motivation in my locker and with it came fun and laughter and memories.

After all, memories aren't solely about the glossy stuff, are they? In fifteen years when I sob nostalgically as Henry heads off to University or wherever I'll probably say, "Do you remember that summer when you were little and we took you and your brother to Cornwall and drank hot chocolate under the moon and went on water slides but then fell out because you were being a total wanker about a chip shop sausage?"

I'll remember that I found having small kids unbelievably rewarding and totally bloody impossible all at the same time; it's only natural that my holiday memories will reflect that too.
The Unmumsy Mum

Trevella Park, Crantock
We stayed at Trevella Park and whilst this is not an official review post our caravan was just the ticket (and just down the road from the best beach I have ever been to). I was very sad to leave.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Job Advertisement: Parent

We are seeking a Parent to join our team of UK Parents.

About The Role
Hours: 168 hours per week
Location: Home-based, though access to a car or public transport is desirable as visits to the park and/or soft play hell labyrinths may be required.

Key duties/responsibilities:
- Imaginative use of baby wipes.
- Accepting graciously that you are never ever playing Lego right. You are doing it wrong.
- Negotiating with a small person who is protest planking amongst the home accessories in Debenhams.
- Clearing up poo, snot and vomit.
- Mind reading (you will need to know why the baby is crying and during the toddler years you will need to understand that just because he said he wanted cheese sandwiches it doesn't mean he wanted cheese sandwiches though when you take the cheese sandwiches away he will cry hysterically about the loss of the cheese fucking sandwiches).
- Mediating arguments over who gets the best beaker.
- Overseeing the Witching Hour/s (usually 5pm-7pm, this often involves food being lobbed from highchairs and general arsiness about nothing at all).

About You
The ideal candidate will have a degree in Patience, an NVQ Level 3 in CBeebies and the dexterity of an octopus on speed. You should possess a strong desire to be accompanied everywhere (including the toilet) and a high level of irritation tolerance for programmes like Peppa Pig and Twatsy and Tim. You should not possess a strong desire to:
- Sleep
- Get shit-faced
- Laze around in your PJs
- Sit down with a cup of tea
- Browse Accessorize
- Sunbathe 
(Unfortunately these activities are not compatible with the role).

Remuneration Package and Benefits
Salary: The square root of fuck all
[This role is very much an investment, non-financial rewards include a warm fuzzy feeling and pride so overwhelming your heart could burst].

*The small print
Due to the nature of this role we regret we cannot facilitate any annual leave and there will be no designated breaks throughout your 168 hour weekly shift, though in exceptional circumstances it might be possible to organise cover through our relief agency Grandparent Staffing (extra teeth-brushing will be required as a result). In line with our Up Shit Creek Without a Paddle policy no training will be provided. This is a permanent position and you cannot ever resign.

The Unmumsy Mum

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Somebody's Daughter, Somebody's Son

For months I’ve seen and heard news reports about refugees fleeing war-torn Syria. Daily pictures of families packed into boats, total chaos at train stations and mass distress at borders.

It’s often difficult to process. Difficult to make sense of just what is happening. And why it is happening. It’s so far removed from our daily lives that it just doesn’t seem real.

Photo credit: The Economist

I already knew that people were dying, that people are dying as they seek a better life in Europe. I feel ashamed writing this because I knew and yet I ignored it. I’d probably heard it time and again on the news but turned over when it was time for the CBeebies Bedtime Song.

How very lucky we are to be able to turn the channel over, to gather our happy and healthy babies in our arms and wave goodnight to Charlie Bear at the end of a lovely day.

But today there was no switching off.

Today I have struggled to come to terms with the picture of three year old Aylan Kurdi whose tiny body was washed up on a beach in Turkey. Today I have witnessed outrage on social media from people who don’t think this picture should have been shared. People who weren’t expecting to see a photo of a drowned boy between a post about make-up contouring and a wedding selfie.
They didn’t want to see it.
They would rather not have seen it.
They wish they hadn’t seen it.

But I’m glad I saw it. Because it brought it home. Aylan was the same age as my boy, he was a similar size to my boy, he was wearing similar clothes to my boy. He drowned alongside his mother Rehan and big brother Galip, who was five. His grief-stricken father, Abdullah, has since spoken of his desire to lie in a grave with his wife and his beautiful babies.

No amount of shitty CBeebies can make that go away.

I can’t turn the image off. I can’t get it out of my head. It’s sitting behind my eyes when I close them and now instead of writing a mildly amusing but ultimately fucking valueless blog about the perils of weaning I’m writing this with a lump in my throat and a sadness in my heart.

I’m not politically sharp enough to write a letter to David Cameron. But my heart tells me that the greatest risk to our nation, over and above the ‘swarms of migrants' descending on our shores, over and above the UK becoming a ‘magnet’ for such 'migrants,' over and above our prejudice towards people whose lives we will never truly understand, is the risk that we’ll have to live with the human tragedy of failing to allow people sanctuary in their hour of need.

An hour of need so dark and desperate, so full of unspeakable horrors, that parents are prepared to load their vulnerable children into boats that may never make the shore.

I may not know a lot about war-torn Syria or indeed our current ‘refugee quota’ but I know that people are dying trying to reach safety and I’m finding it hard to understand how we are letting this happen.

I’m not starting a petition. I’m not creating a call to action. But after months of doing absolutely nothing, of turning the channel over, of blocking it all out, I am finally seeing it. I am hearing it. I am feeling it.

Amongst the baby scan pictures and mindless celeb gossip on my newsfeed today was an article from the Guardian about genuine ways to help. Things that can help now. So if you have been as moved as I have by what you have seen maybe take a look.

We can’t help Aylan, or Galip, or Rehan. We can’t help Abdullah who has lost everything and must kiss his whole family goodnight for the last time.

But we might be able to help others who are just like them. Who are just like us.

Abdullah described his boys as the most beautiful in the world and they were. They were his babies and I’m so very sorry we couldn’t save them.

It's remarkably sad that it took a photo this harrowing to wake up the masses. I hope Aylan's legacy is one of change.

Sleep tight little man.