Image result for importance of affection image

As I lay in bed this morning, awake a little earlier than I would have liked, a piece of the jigsaw puzzle of my life slotted so easily into place, that I wondered why I hadn’t found it long before. The truth is, that piece of the jigsaw has always been lying there, next to others and I had picked it up and tried to place it in the jigsaw many times before, but it hadn’t quite fitted and so I’d laid it back down to the side. This morning I picked it up and it was the final piece. It was the piece that completed the puzzle. On this piece the word that is written is: affection.

Affection can mean many things. It can be deeply needed and unwanted. It can be between lovers and family and four legged friends. Humans need affection and depending on who or what this affection is between, it can be shown in a multitude of ways. Above all, affection makes us feel secure and wanted.

‘Secure’ and ‘wanted’ – the power of these words is the crux of my missing jigsaw piece. You see, you can have a relationship with someone or something that looks as if it functions. It can even feel as if it functions pretty well. Yet, without that missing jigsaw piece that has the word: affection on it, it is, ‘functional’ and for me, this is a word that lacks power. A lack of affection makes us unhappy, stressed and lonely. Yes, we can still function. To others looking in our lives look good, because we are functioning. We are getting on, succeeding, reproducing, aspiring. We are achieving all these things and more – so why don’t we feel happy? How can we possibly not feel ecstatically fulfilled? What the hell is wrong with us?

What the hell is wrong with me? I asked myself. Over and over again. I searched for the answer. I am a kind and thoughtful and intelligent person, I told myself, over and over again. Why can’t I find the answer? Why can’t I complete this puzzle.

Then this morning, there it was. So now it is complete. That final piece of my jigsaw is so powerful, yet I had passed it over. I had picked it up and turned it around with my finger tips many times. I had even tried to fit it in the hole, but I had underestimated its power. I had underestimated just how important affection is. So important that a lack of it can undermine almost everything you have built up in your life. Showing affection is essential. I know that now. I want you to know it too.

It isn’t just important, it is essential.

Image result for importance of affection image



*Exciting new project – contributions required*

I’ve been inspired! I am writing a book with people’s positive thoughts on their teenagers.

Teenagers get bad press. I love my teenage girls, but quite often I write about the angst that surrounds them. This venture is to readdress the balance. It is to be a celebration of teens.

I am putting together a compilation of thoughts beginning: I love it when …


If you would like to be included in the book, then please leave your: I love it when … in the comments section of this post, e mail me at:, or tweet me @MHouseMum

I would also love to include some photos that embody the positive thoughts of the book. If you have any photos that you are happy to be included, then please e mail them to me. In doing so, I will take this as your permission for me to use them in the context of this book only.

Let me know what name you would like displayed with your comment if when it gets published and names that can be used as captions for any photos.

To see what set this off, you can read my post here: I love it when…

Please spread the word to anyone you know who has teenagers.



I love it when…

Dear Daughters,

Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those schmoozy letters, where I tell you how beautiful you all are – apparently that would damage you for life, as it would eat away at your self esteem (and anyway, you already know you are). No, this is just me wanting to tell you what I really love about you. Because let’s be honest, we have to deal with a lot of crap on a daily basis – some yours, some mine and I really don’t want the good times to get buried. So here is a celebration of what I love.

I love it when I can lean on you – not emotionally – you have enough of your own stuff to deal with – I mean physically lean on you. Drape my arm casually around you and lean in close. It’s more subtle than a hug and I love it when you don’t pull away and even more when you rest your head on my shoulder. 

I love it when you say, ‘oh mum’ in a tone of pity drenched in love, when I don’t understand something in your world. Or when you say: I haven’t given you a hug in ages and you wrap your arms around me tight. Or when one who doesn’t often hug me, does. 

I love it when you help each other with your homework, because I can’t and when you bake together. In fact, I love it when you do anything together that doesn’t involve a fight. Walking into your bedrooms and seeing you lying together on the bed, laughing unselfconsciously as sisters do, makes me smile. 

I love it when we walk the dogs. It isn’t often that you can, because you’re in bed, in school, at work. But this makes when you can, a real joy. We talk with uncluttered abandon. We put the world to rights. We discover things about each other we didn’t know. 

I love it when another package arrives from far flung China. You are usually at school and as I place it on your bed in your full view when you walk in, I can feel your excitement. I text you to tell you it’s arrived, because you’ve been asking when it will for days and I want to be a part of your pleasure. I love that you have worked hard to pay for it yourself and that you are really good at your work and people appreciate you. This is your well-earned reward. 

I love it when, during a busy day I can text you and ask if you want to cook. I admire your confidence in creating meals for a big family and your willingness to do it. I value your independence, so I am not constantly at your beck and call. You respect, sometimes, that I too have a life and you appreciate it when I sacrifice a part of it for you. 

I love it when I am going out and I can ask you, with all the uncertainty of middle age, if I look ok and you reply with all the certainty of someone who knows that I have made an effort to dress up, that I do. I listen to your arguments between each other over clothes with a mixture of irritation and fondness. I find it endearing the way you share and annoying, but understandable, the way you fight.

You are 4 individuals who are changing and growing. I admire your strength and your resilience to the world that you find yourselves in. It’s your world for the taking. Just know that you are loved. 

Mum xxxxxxxx




You get through the night feeds and the nappies and the relentless grind. Getting up in the night AGAIN and not even having the energy to feel sorry for yourself. You survive the lines of snot and the tantrums, the far too early mornings and monotony of toys out, tidy away, toys out, tidy away. You rock bath time and story time, because the end, for just a few hours, may possibly be in sight (or not). You might even get a chance to eat dinner with another adult and have a glass of wine to toast drown the day and to tell each other: we will survive. 

You do survive. You are in control. It may not feel that way, but you are controlling your world and that of the little people who live in it. Whilst you spend many days feeling out of control and feeling as if you are hostage to a band of toddlers, ultimately you are the superhero. 

I am now an observer. I am detached and no longer have complete control. They have a phone and then a key. They have freedom, to a degree. Their world is no longer my world and I struggle to understand it, or to keep up. Yes, I am now an incredulous voyeur, who is looking at the number of make-up brushes and phone cases that make their way from China, with surprise. They have bank cards and money from their work. Clothes appear in the wash that I have no longer bought. Perhaps, that I don’t like. ‘Like’ becomes a loaded word. ‘Like for a like’, ‘gorge’, ‘stunning’, ‘hotty’, ‘beaut’, ‘get ugly’ on your 12 year old’s Instagram account. I am at an arm’s length in disbelief. At first you are astonished at their selfies. How can they possibly keep it up? It’s relentless. Every time you look at your daughter her phone is out and a Snapchat story is being written. You worry – is there actually enough time in their day for them to get their grades that will lead them to their goals and to their dreams? Do they have sight of goals? Do they dream?

You are a spectator. You are not totally in control. Control is now an art form and you must become a master of negotiation. You can’t slip up or you will now be found out. Gone are the days when you could lie and bribe. You have entered the realms of Secret Service tactics and so have they. It is now a battle of wits, where both sides have the ability to see the bigger picture and to fight for control of their territory and as you don’t fully understand this territory that you are now in, you struggle. 

You do survive. Through unconditional love. With tears of laughter and of heartache and with the help of tissues and of hugs. You get through the differences with understanding, communicating and by a bit of letting go. You are an observer. You might even get a chance to eat dinner with another adult and have a glass of wine to toast drown the day and to tell yourself: I will survive, and you do. 


Sugar and Spice


As a mum to 5 girls, I have been particularly interested in all the reports in the papers recently, about how much we are damaging girls psychologically by calling them, ‘pretty’. According to psychologists, this is undermining their self esteem, as they grow up feeling that they are ultimately defined by their looks. In one article I read, Linda Palmer, Chief Executive of Lady Geek, seemed to be getting particularly hysterical. In an article entitled: Don’t you dare tell my daughter she’s ‘pretty’, she says: ‘tell your own daughter, and your nieces and cousins and grandchildren…just how much they can achieve. Don’t define girls by their looks; show them what they can do.’ I thought about the last couple of times I had seen two of my nieces and remembered that on each occasion I had complimented them on what they were wearing. Shit, I thought after reading Linda’s article, does this mean I am part of what she calls: ‘the “sugar and spice” adage that ‘just won’t die – setting our girls up for failure’? But you see, I don’t think I am. Because if you strip away the fear of me complimenting their skirt and their sparkly cardigan (and for that compliment I got a twirl) you will see that there is so much more to what I say to them than this. This is just a small part of the way in which I talk to them. My complimenting their clothes is not defining who they are, it is simply complimenting them on their clothes. I also recently told one of my nephews that I liked his t shirt. People are also getting very hett up about the different ways girls and boys are spoken to. Examples are cited of how little girls are told by strangers that they are pretty, while their brothers are told that they are smart. Is this really true? I mean, I am constantly telling people that all their children are gorgeous. Crikey – there I go again. I must stop before I set any more children up for failure.

I am not dismissing the reports. I do think that as parents and relatives it is important that we don’t only talk to girls about their looks, but what I am questioning is, do we? Or is this is yet another example of reports that have been seized upon by journalists to terrify parents and undermine their confidence? 

In another article I read, Sarah Newton, the author of: ‘Help! My Teenager is an Alien: The Everyday Situation Guide for Parents’, tells us that statements like: ‘you’re so pretty’ to our daughters, ‘can have a devastating effect on a girl in the long run’. Oh god, I think I may have told my 4 year old she looked like a beautiful princess a couple of times when she wore her Cinderella outfit. Hell, I may have told ALL of them at some point or other in all those years of dressing up and parties. Should I have even let them dress up in those damn Disney dresses? Don’t worry though, ‘a subtle shift in language can ensure your daughter grows up much more prepared for success and the adult world.’ Thank goodness for that, I can redeem myself by ‘commenting on what they are doing and asking what interests them. Instead of telling them they are good girls, we should be saying how patient they are or that they listen intently. Instead of commenting on how a girl should or shouldn’t behave, we should be telling them that we love the fact that they can express themselves and stick up for themselves.’

My point is, that we are telling our daughters all these things, aren’t we? I have never been a parent who constantly tells my girls how beautiful they are and reading all these recent articles I wondered whether it’s because my gut instinct as a parent is that sub consciously I don’t want to define them by their looks. However, I’m not sure parents should get too hung up about it. Yes, it is sad that a recent BBC survey had found that six out of ten eight to 12-year-olds thought they’d be happier thinner, and that research by Girl Guiding UK had found that girls under ten often link happiness with body image. However, the blame for this cannot simply lie with the parents. There is a much bigger picture here. There is a media fire that is burning so hot on body image that it is impossible for girls to grow up unaffected by it. The message to parents should certainly be not to add fuel to the fire, but equally the blame for the pressures their daughters may feel as they are growing up, should not be laid squarely at their feet. 

Move On

Think of a time recently, because I bet there’s been one, where you have had to face ‘moving on’. 

This phrase is so personal to each unique situation it is relating to and it can also be incredibly difficult to achieve. It is, however, so vitally important that we do achieve it: for us, for the people around us and depending on the situation, for the other people who are affected by our ability to do so. 

If you are unable to move on, then you are holding on. What you are trying to hold on to may be hugely important to you, but holding on is so often holding you back. Of course, some things are good to hold on to, such as memories, but at some point it is important to face the concept of moving on. 

Last week I read a letter in the Times to an agony aunt. It was from a man who had lost his wife to cancer and was struggling emotionally with the thought of starting another relationship. When we read stories like this one, we are all able to understand his dilemma and whilst we sympathise with his difficulty, we would most certainly all be advising him to move on. 

When someone feels that they have been wronged in some way, they will often find it particularly hard to move on. Whilst this is understandable, the person who is most affected by this inability, is the person themselves. Bitterness eats away at them and turns them into someone who people may at one time may have sympathised with, but who start to feel frustrated with the person’s resoluteness not to let go of the past. This can be the case in a divorce, where one partner had an affair. Hanging on to hatred for that person is simply stopping them from building a positive and happy life and where children are involved it merely serves to make their lives unnecessarily harder. When moving on requires forgiveness, it can feel incredibly difficult to let go, but ultimately a huge relief from a damaging burden. 

I think it’s important to remember that moving on doesn’t necessarily require you to forget, but to release yourself from the chains of the past. The past is gone and holding on to it prevents us from building a positive future.

It can hurt to let go, but sometimes it hurts more to hold on.

Image result for moving on quotes

The Q & A Blogger Tag

Not another one! No sooner had I sighed a huge sigh of relief that I had completed my answers to 73 questions, after being nominated by Charlie at Mess and Merlot, than I am tagged by Fran at Whinge Whinge Wine to yet again delve into the depths of my brain to find more answers to her searching questions. Fran has been shortlisted for best comic writer at the Mumsnet Blogging Awards, so do go and check out her blog.

So, here goes…

1) There is no electricity and won’t be for the next week. NONE. After eating the contents of the freezer (assuming you have a gas cooker) what the hell do you do with yourself?

Book into a 5 star hotel and claim on the insurance

2) What time constitutes a lie-in in your house?

8am. The kids lie-in now, so what did we go and do? We got 2 dogs who wake us up early.

3) Why is your greatest achievement, bar your children?

Becoming a Taekwon-do World Champion

4) What is your favourite blog post ever (your own, or someone else’s)?

Ooh tricky…I rather like Twat …I just love that word. I loved one of Hurrah for Gin’s I read recently: Mum’s night out

5) If you could only use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, which one would you choose?


6) How often per month do you think ‘screw it, I’ll give up blogging’?

Ha! I’ve only just started, so not often. Give it time…

7) If I was a newbie and just starting my blog, and I came to you for advice, what would you tell me?

Say goodbye to your family and home cooked meals

8) Chocolate or strawberry milkshake?


9) What is the best fruit?


10) What are your top three hits/bands from the 80s…

Wake me up before you go, go!  – Wham
Girls just wanna have fun – Cyndi Lauper
Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

Now apparently I have to tag people to answer my questions. So, I challenge you: Helen at Just Saying Mum, Mac at Reflections from me, Sharon at After the Playground and Talya at Motherhood: The Real Deal.


  1. What would you like to stop?
  2. Which celebrity would you choose to personal train you?
  3. What age were you when you had the most fun?
  4. What have you had to get used to recently?
  5. What is the most annoying habit of someone who lives in your house?
  6. Who is your favourite comedian?
  7. Who inspires you?
  8. What song, if any, makes you cry?
  9. What meal do you cook the most?
  10. Where is your favourite place on earth? (It may not be somewhere you have been, just somewhere that you feel is amazing).

Vogue’s 73 Questions List

Vogue’s 73 questions posed to celebrities had completely passed me by, until Charlie at Mess and Merlot, blogged her answers in a post and tagged me. Most people who have been tagged have vlogged their answers. I am going to save you all from having to endure me on screen and simply write them down. So here they are:

Vogue’s 73 Questions List

1. What’s your favorite movie? Mama Mia – I love a good sing song
2. Favorite movie in the past five years? Skyfall – it’s the only film I can actually remember going to see in the last 5 years!
3. Favorite Hitchcock film? North By Northwest
4. A book you plan on reading? The Girl on the Train
5. A book that you read in school that positively shaped you? The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy – Eustacia Vye inspired me when she got her dress caught on a twig and didn’t try to pull free, she was so at one with the heath…wow! That’s stayed with me forever
6. Favorite TV show that’s currently on? The Last Leg – I hadn’t heard of it before this year’s Paralympics and I am totally hooked – LOVE IT!
7. On a scale of one to ten how excited are you about life right now? 10 – I have my first day today off in a month 🙂 oh and I’ve been shortlisted for Best Writer in the Mumsnet blogging awards, which is very exciting
8. iPhone or Android? I phone
9. Twitter or Instagram? Twitter (but I’m pretty crap at both)
10. Who should EVERYONE be following right now? Me!
11. What’s your favorite food? Rare steak
12. Least favorite food? Oysters
13. What do you love on your pizza? Goat’s cheese, roasted veg…yummy
14. Favorite drink? Red wine
15. Favorite dessert? Mum’s rhubarb and ginger crumble
16. Dark chocolate or milk chocolate? Dark, purely for health reasons!
17. Coffee or tea? Tea first thing, then a coffee, then tea all the way to bedtime
18. What’s the hardest part about being a mum? The guilt
19. What’s your favorite band? The Pogues
20. Favorite solo artist? Norah Jones
21. Favorite song? Come Away with me
22. If you could sing a duet with anyone, who would it be? Meat Loaf
23. If you could master one instrument, what would it be? Saxaphone
24. If you had a tattoo, where would it be? Hidden
25. To be or not to be? Not to be working all my life – I want to travel again
26. Dogs or cats? We’ve got 2 of each, so I have to say: both
27. Bird-watching or whale-watching? I’ve done both and the whales win
28. Best gift you’ve ever received? An electric blanket
29. Best gift you’ve ever given? …given birth to 4 children. The gift that keeps on giving…(me hell and heartache)
30. Last gift you gave a friend? An miniature orchid
31. What’s your favorite board game? I get too bored…
32. What’s your favorite country to visit? New Zealand – to see my no.1 NZ friend
33. What’s the last country you visited? Spain
34. What country do you wish to visit? Burma
35. What’s your favorite color? Deep pink
36. Least favorite color? Bottle green
37. Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds (unlikely though)
38. Heels or flats? Flats. Although I do have a pair of killer heels in my wardrobe that belong to my sister, that she calls the: F me shoes! She’s never getting them back!
39. Pilates or yoga? Either. Both are good tighteners
40. Jogging or swimming? Jogging – I have issues with people’s excretions in public pools
41. Best way to de-stress? Doing Taekwon-do: kicking and punching – you can’t beat it…but wine and a weekend paper come close
42. If you had one superpower, what would it be? The ability to heal – myself and everyone else (God, I sound like I want to be Jesus)
43. What’s the weirdest word in the English language? Flange
44. What’s your favorite flower? A tulip, because it’s a sign that winter has been kicked into dust
45. When was the last time you cried? Two weeks ago, when I bashed my swollen finger
46. Do you like your handwriting? Yes. It’s inspired by The Cure – very curly
47. Do you bake? Yes, although my daughters have taken over that role now
48. What is your least favorite thing about yourself? My injuries
49. What is your most favorite thing about yourself? My smile
50. Who do you miss most? My friend, Jo who lives in New Zealand
51. What are you listening to right now? The dishwasher
52. Favorite smell? Vanilla
53. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? My partner
54. Who was the last person you sent a text to? Daughter 1. It said: Plate of food in fridge xxxxxxx (this is how good my parenting gets)
55. A sport you wish you could play? Basketball
56. Hair color? Light brown
57. Eye color? Blue
58. Scary film or happy endings? Happy endings
59. Favorite season? Summer
60. Three people alive or dead that you would like to have dinner with? Prince Harry, David Beckham and Victoria Wood
61. Hugs or kisses? Aren’t I allowed both?
62. Rolling Stones or the Beatles? Rolling Stones
63. Where were you born? Bromley, Kent
64. What is the farthest you have been from home? New Zealand
65. Sweet or savory? Savory. Although sometimes only cake will do
66. Lipstick or lip gloss? Lipstick. Can’t live without it
67. What book have you read again and again? Biff and Chip
68. Favorite bedtime story? Facebook normally
69. What would be the title of your autobiography? No Regrets – although I’m sure a footballer or a member of a boy band has that one already
70. Favorite sound? A guitar at a camp fire
71. Favorite animal? A bear
72. Who is your girl crush? Rubyrose
73. Last photograph you took? My daughter dressed as a snowflake for Character Day at school. Yes, the pain of dressing up continues to 6th Form and still her outfit was crap


That was actually so hard. My brain is now aching and I must tag this pain to:

Vicky – Honest Mum

Dawn – Rhyming with Wine

Fran – Whinge Whinge Wine

Beth – themotherhub

If you haven’t done it already ladies, enjoy xxx

Drip, drip, drip…

It’s a dripping tap that plays with your brain like some kind of water torture. It’s not a tsunami that suddenly overwhelms you, it’s not a flood that has you drowning, resurfacing and spluttering. No, a normal day is definitely like a dripping tap that leaves you wondering why you suddenly explode. 

Yesterday the drip went something like this:

“She’s got my tights. Give me back my tights!”


“There’s never anything for breakfast.”


“Don’t forget it’s open evening tonight.” (Shit, I’d forgotten)


Train strike


Text: ‘Don’t wear your dobok to open evening mum’


Buy more new school shoes for youngest


Text: ‘Don’t bring youngest to open evening will you mum?’


Phone call: “you haven’t brought her have you mum?” (I foolishly joke that I am wearing my dobok and break the news that her sister is indeed with me)


“Go home and change and drop her off.”


At open evening, I touch her arm: “Don’t touch me, it’s embarrassing!”


“This is the long way home.” (Trust me, I know the fucking way home and believe me, I’m taking the shortest route to that glass of wine)


“What are you listening to Mum? It’s rubbish.”


“What’s for dinner? Rice? You said it wasn’t rice.”

“You know what? Make your own bloody dinner and while you’re at it, make your own bloody sandwiches for tomorrow because no doubt I’ll get that wrong too!”

“Jeez mum. I only asked whether it was rice!”

Guilt. Why did I explode like that? She only asked if it was rice for dinner….

Partner arrives home. I recount my day: the tights and the breakfast and the train strike and the open evening and the dobok and the youngest and the touch and the radio and the rice…

…and I suddenly realise why I had exploded. 

Chinese water torture is a process in which water is slowly dripped onto a person’s forehead, allegedly driving the restrained victim insane. (Wikipedia)

I was a victim of a teenager. I was restrained. I am being driven insane. 

It is not my fault. Less guilt. A glass of wine. Prepare for tomorrow’s dripping tap.

Image result for a dripping tap

I’m Bored!

I’ve read a couple of posts recently from mums who are expressing a certain guilt at feeling bored when they are with their little ones. No shit? I was bored out of my bloody mind half the time. I’ll say the usual mummy disclaimer because we all feel we have to: I loved my babies and toddlers to bits – unconditionally all the time, conditionally some of the time, but by Christ the monotony fucked with my mind.

I was never the craft type. Painting was only ever carried out at grandparents’ houses and playgroups. If Pinterest had of been around when my kids were little, I would have had, ‘failure’ tattooed to my forehead. Yet still, because I had 4 kids under the age of 5, other mums would refer to me as: the earth mother.

Now, I’m not entirely sure what they meant by this. Perhaps that my girls constantly looked as if they needed a good scrub. However, I always thought to myself: I know that I am not an earth mother because although I feel like I’ve got a handle on things some of the time, I get bored. I don’t want to get down on my sodding knees and push a tractor around a plastic farm. I cannot stand the thought of feeding an ugly, plastic baby a bottle and I fall asleep reading them their bedtime stories: it’s so bloody boring!

And it wasn’t just the kids who I found boring – I came across a fair few mums who bored the crap out of me too. Please don’t judge me for saying it – you’ve all thought it. You know, the sort you get stuck with at the toddler group, who bangs on about how advanced her 3 month old is. There’s only so many times you can hear, “he’s already saying ‘Kumon'”, before you want to punch her. You’re desperately looking for a reason to escape, until finally you are so bored you shout: ‘Oh God! She’s just bitten another child’ and rush off to be with your rather bemused 3 year old, who was happily making a plastic cup of tea in the kitchen.

Earth mother I most certainly wasn’t. Bored I most certainly often was. So as I read these posts from these wonderful mothers, who are scared shitless of admitting that they occasionally find life with a 3 year old boring, I thought about how stressful being bored is. Even now when I am bored, I feel stressed.

Boredom is basically the result of a failed effort to engage with our surroundings and the result of this is anxiety. It’s fine if you can use those moments of boredom to daydream and think creatively, but the problem with having a toddler is that there is an incessant invasion of your head space. So you get out your phone as a signal that mummy is not available, so go and play with your sister for 2 minutes – that is why we had her – and then you get some grumpy old fart telling you what a shit parent you are. Unfortunately, the truth is that tablets and smart phones are preventing all of us from getting bored, but they are also curbing our thoughts and potential great ideas, as are our children.

So next time your kids whine at you those wonderful words: I’m bored! Just scream back at them: yeah, well so am I!