Oh Shit!

I’m having one of those weeks where you watch your hard-earned cash slowly but surely, being pissed down the toilet.

My trusty Previa, fondly known as: Aunty Al’s Bus for the past many a year, died in quite a dramatic fashion, on the way to work last week. As I watched the smoke bellowing from the bonnet and I was warning my fellow passenger to evacuate with me for fear that it would explode, I thought to myself two things: the first was, ‘oh shit!’ and the second was: ‘this is going to be expensive’. Any minute now I am going to watch it being hauled onto a tow truck and driven to the scrap yard. I think I will run down the road after it, waving a white flag and scattering petals – we’ve been through a lot together.

Trump being elected as President on Wednesday, has done nothing to make this week any better. At the ladies’ Taekwon-do class that I teach on Wednesday morning, our two American students gave each other a hug. I suspect they were exchanging whispers of what alternative accent they should adopt for the rest of the week. It can’t feel good to be American right now. It feels bad enough being English and wondering: how the…? What the…? Why the…? Who the…?

As I sat in total shock that morning, clutching onto my third mug of tea and listening to his victory speech, I thought to myself that the discomfort his son was obviously feeling, standing next to his Dad in full view of millions, was equal to about one thousandth of how many of the viewers were feeling. Uncomfortable would be a terrible understatement. I looked at his family standing on the stage and all I could see were spray tans, Botox, over-coiffured hair and the air of ‘fake’ hung heavily around them. It’s a reality show that has just got horribly real – with all the narcissism  that goes with it. There is a man, I thought to myself, who doesn’t like being told: ‘no’. There is a little boy who is dressed like a man. There is the President of the United States of America and for the second time in a matter of days, I thought: ‘oh shit!’.

Still in shock, daughter 1 caught me off guard last night and I found myself sitting next to her in the car, as she attempted to pull out of our driveway – she’s only had four driving lessons thus far and up until now I have resolutely refused. As we careered around the industrial estate in the pitch dark, I remembered why. ‘Break!’ I screeched at her, as we sped towards a corrugated iron structure at several miles an hour. “Why didn’t you brake sooner?” I asked, once we’d come to a stop, inches from the wall. “Because I had to check my mirror first” she replied, with the voice of someone who is new to something and doggedly follows the rules. ‘Oh shit!’ I thought, not for the first time this week and I have a niggling feeling, as the aroma of cat’s piss is wafting down the stairs, that it won’t be the last.

img_2933There goes Aunty Al’s Bus…oh shit!





The Bigger One’s Tag

Jo of Mother of Teenagers tagged me to ask my daughters some questions. ‘Oh no, not another tag post to do,’ I thought to myself – they seem to take me so much longer to write than any other post! However, I thought it would be interesting to hear their answers and when I read Catie’s reasons behind starting this tag, I was even more intrigued. This is what she said about it:

‘I went on the hunt for questions and came across this article in the Telegraph 25 questions to ask your child. This was just what I was looking for…

For an intriguing and often entertaining insight into how your children see the world, take a look at these 25 questions for kids…The answers might just surprise you…

Perhaps 25 questions would be too much for my boys? I decide to condense them to 10. Would I be surprised by the answers? Read on and find out in my #BiggerOnes Tag…’
She wanted to gain more of an insight into her sons’ minds – particularly that of her son who has autism. You can find her at: Diary of an Imperfect Mum
I asked my eldest and youngest to answer the questions. The youngest was keen to, the eldest not so! Here are their answers:
Daughter 4, aged 12 years

Who is your best friend?

Yasmin Dodd. We’ve been friends since we were babies, because our mums are best friends. (So we didn’t have a choice, haha!)

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Singer, vet, radiologist, a dentist or an actress

If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?

To be able to fly, because then you can get around much easier

What are the 3 best things about being you?

I have a great family, I’m generally happy and I have lots of pets

What are the best and worst things about mum?

The best thing is she’s always loving and always looking after us and there for me. The worst thing is that when she shouts, she shouts

Can you name one thing that scares you?


What’s the nicest thing a friend has ever done for you?

It’s not one thing, but Yasmin has always been there for me

How do you describe me to your friends?

I always say you are reasonable and that I love you

If you could go anywhere in the world for a day where would you go?

Ariana Grande’s house, in LA

Which 3 words best describe you?

Loud, sociable, an animal lover


Daughter 1, aged 17 years

Who is your best friend?


What do you want to be when you grow up?


If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?

To know what people are thinking and to be able to go wherever I want to go easily. (I did point out that she was only allowed ONE superpower, but in true teenage fashion, she insisted on more and refused to give her reasons why!)

What are the 3 best things about being you?

I find these questions really hard to answer…(that was her answer…)

What are the best and worst things about mum?

The best things are that you make a dead good chicken dish and you haven’t got a saggy bum and the worst is that you have a go at me for no reason

Can you name one thing that scares you?


What’s the nicest thing a friend has ever done for you?

A surprise visit on my birthday

How do you describe me to your friends?

Oh God, what’s she done now?

If you could go anywhere in the world for a day where would you go?

New York

Which 3 words best describe you?

Fun, chatty, sociable


So there you have it. I’m not sure that I got a great insight into my girls, but at least I now know that I haven’t got a saggy bum…

I tag the following lovely bloggers to bribe their kids/step kids into doing it, if they have the inclination and haven’t done so already:

Trista at Domesticated Momster
Bridget at Bridie by the Sea
Prabs at Absolutely Prabulous

Check out their blogs too 🙂


diaryofanimperfectmum bigger ones tag

Shit will still happen

I have come to the conclusion that there comes a point in our children’s lives, when you have to step back and trust and hope. Instinctively, I have known this for a while, but it is only now that I am allowing myself to openly admit it.

You see the thing is, shit will happen. Whether you are a parent who hovers or a parent who doesn’t have the time and/or the inclination to, shit will still go down.

Daughter 2 is 15. She’s the third 15 year old who I have parented. It’s taken me this long to acknowledge that sometimes their take on life is ok. Sometimes, when I judge their perspective on things, I am wrong to do so. Not always, but sometimes and probably a lot more than I ever thought.

Teenagers don’t use desks. Some do, of course, but many don’t. It is quite normal for you to come home and find your teenager wrapped up in their fluffiest of dressing gowns, in bed, duvet pulled up with a laptop positioned precariously on their knees…at 2pm on a Sunday. No, they are not still in bed from the previous night. Under their dressing gown they are fully clothed and have been for a while. This used to make me mad. “What are you doing in bed?” I’d holler. Then I noticed a sister was doing it and then a cousin. Now, it may well be that it’s genetic, but I suspect it’s a teenage ‘thing’. I don’t like it, because it seems slovenly. They do it because it makes them feel comfortable and cosy. Does it affect whether they get that required level 6 in GCSE Maths? Probably not. Perhaps I should step back and let it go.

You certainly have to pick your battles with the teens. You can’t be a one-man army, firing shots in all directions at every thing you don’t like or agree with. Those teens will be off like a shot – jumping into the nearest fluffy dressing gown and diving under the duvet for cover.

When Daughter 1 was revising for her GCSE’s, she announced that she was going to revise with a friend – on Face time. “No way!” I responded. “You will never get any work done!” She dismissed my worry and did it anyway. I decided to step back and observe, rather than to keep piling in. It’s not how I could ever have imagined revising, but she’s not me. She got fantastic grades. She attributes this partly to her working with her friend. I couldn’t argue.

Music was blaring out of her bedroom last night. I went to investigate and there was daughter 1 at her desk. The only reason being, that daughter 3 was on her bed, surrounded by maths books. “Why aren’t you working?” I shouted (over the noise of Will Joseph Cook). They both looked at me incredulously. “We are!” they chorused, as a Snap chat buzzed through. I was skeptical. I hovered. Do I turf daughter 3 out? Or, do I trust them? Do I step back and tell myself that their world isn’t my world, or do I take the hard parental line? I left them to it. Because you know what? They know what my expectations of them are. I’ve laid the ground rules over the years. I continue to be interested in their grades and their progress at school. I make sure that I still involve myself with how the personal statement is shaping up and how the math’s test went. But at the end of the day a large part of being a teenager is learning how to do things their way. Yes, shit will happen. It will happen at some point whether we are there or not and this is the step to independence, resilience and ultimately, success.

So, my new parent mantra is: don’t worry, hope. Stand back, take a breath and hope.


Why Worry?

There’s nothing quite like a conversation with your mum to make you realise that you have fucked up as a parent…again.

My latest fuck-up was allowing daughter 2 to watch a band in Camden last night.

“What! On a school night? How old is she? 15?” Yes mum, you know that already (and actually she’s 3 weeks off being 16, which doesn’t sound nearly as bad). “I would never have let you do that on a school night!” Erm, well actually you did – remember, I went to see ‘The Bolshoi’ and when I told my teachers the next day, they all thought I’d been to see a ballet. “I don’t remember that.”

No, I sighed. You never do.

The thing is, I had felt as if I’d fucked-up when daughter 2 reminded me 2 nights previously that she was going. “You’re doing what?” I asked incredulously, confident that I would never have agreed to such a thing – especially on a school night. “Yes, you remember Mum. I bought the tickets ages ago.” I searched my brain for a glimpse of a recollection…nothing. “I thought it was tomorrow, but actually it’s the day after.” Ah, now the penny dropped. She had told me that it was on the night she stays with her Dad, so I had relinquished all responsibility for the decision. Now, with 2 days to go, she tells me it’s on my watch. Shit. Suddenly it’s left to me to explain to the police, if anything were to go wrong, that I allowed my 15 but nearly 16 year old daughter out on a school night, with only her 15 year old friend as a chaperone. I falter. I’m stuck. Partner shoots me ‘one of those’ looks, that says: she’s taking the piss. I’m thinking: she can’t let her friend down now. It’s too late to stop her. What’s the worst that can happen? At which point I just switch off.

Until the morning of the night of the concert, when I suddenly panic that I don’t know the name of the band she’s going to see, let alone the name of the club. I march into her room and demand details. She’s too busy getting ready for school to be able to pay me much attention, she just waves her hand towards her bag where the tickets are. I take a photo of the ticket. This makes me feel a bit better. What I actually achieved by this, I have no idea, but it did make me feel a little more responsible.

I spend all morning worrying that I’m a really bad mother, then her friend’s mum rings me and reassures me that they’ll be ok. I feel fine again. Anyway, I have other things to worry about, so I’m more than happy to put this one to bed. I text daughter 2 to tell her that I’ve spoken to her friend’s mum and she’s to ring me when she leaves the venue. ‘I haven’t got any credit’, she texts back. Shit, I think to myself and start worrying all over again. I ring her: “you can’t go to London with no credit on your phone. What if you get lost? Separated from your friend?” I’m back to imagining various scenarios that involve young males and police. “I’ll be fine mum,” she says, adding reassuringly, “I can still text.”

She sends me a photo: ‘we’re right at the front’. The text doesn’t serve to reassure. I can see the barrier. I envisage her getting squashed up against it. ‘You’re in the mosh pit’ I text back. ‘Don’t get trampled on.’ ‘Hahahaha we won’t it will be fine’ was her text back.

And with that, I let go of my worry. I cooked, I blogged, I stared mindlessly at Facebook. I periodically told the kids to get on with homework and I watched TV. Then I went to bed.

Shit! I woke-up at midnight. I’d forgotten to worry. I grabbed for my phone – nothing. I did a quick calculation of timings. How could I have forgotten she was travelling home? How the bloody hell could I have forgotten to worry? I sent a text: ‘you back yet?’ and waited…

‘Yeah. It was soooo good xxxxxx’.

Another worry put to bed, until the next one.





Life is hard enough

I came across a post by the Unmumsy Mum, yesterday: An Open Letter to the Mum with the Red Coat. In it, she speaks about feeling judged. It really resonated with me and as I reflected on why, I realised that when my children were younger, I felt judged a lot of the time.

It was at its worst when the girls were all pre-school age. When daughter 4 was born, daughter 1 was 4 years and 8 months, so I had 4 kids under the age of 5. I can clearly remember a mum from a toddler group saying to me when she heard I was having a second baby: but your first child is still a baby! These words have stuck in my head ever since. It was the start of me feeling judged.

When I went shopping in my local town with the double buggy, I would huff and puff my way around the shops – doggedly determined to show everyone that I could cope with a small tribe myself. Which is just as well, because very few people offered me help – in the form of perhaps holding a door open, or squeezing to the side just a little, so that I could get passed. No. Overwhelmingly I felt judged. I was tutted at by other women, mainly older women who might have known better, but whose memories had faded with the years. I was stared at. I would smile back, thinking they were making a fleeting, but kind connection. No. They would continue to stare at me, stony faced. Sometimes when I was feeling particularly sleep deprived or brave, I asked them what they wanted of me and they would always turn away. They had made their judgement, without even wanting to test out my willingness to smile.

I soon discovered that however well behaved my children were, independent cafe owners and pub landlords felt very unnerved by our presence. I ended up using the larger chains, who seemed far more accommodating and kind. The issue was never space – I wouldn’t try to squeeze us all in to a quaint tea shop and expect a hug with my cup of tea. The thing was that because other parents also felt judged, they gravitated to the places they could almost relax. Many independent hostelries should have painted: children not welcome, on their doors.

In fact, I felt unwelcome so often in those early years, that when I occasionally did feel welcome, I would be ridiculously happy: oh thank you so much for showing some kindness to my relatively well-behaved children today and for not giving me, ‘that look’. Please can I give you a hug?

It was pathetic. Why couldn’t people just help, ask, chat, smile, not judge?

We all make assumptions, but they don’t have to lead to judgements. God knows, life as a parent is hard enough.

Image result for assume but don't judge quotes


Autumn Bliss

I love Autumn: those deep reds and golds, reflecting the sun’s warmth. That chill in the morning air, that makes you wish you’d worn a coat. The evenings drawing in, giving you an excuse to light the fire and put on your pj’s at 4.30pm. It’s not as cold or as dark as Winter. There’s a glow to Autumn that is still hanging on to the heat of the Summer.

On our dog walk this morning, the grass looked as if it was covered in frost, but of course it wasn’t. It was covered in tiny spiders’ webs that were glistening with dew. Partner was suddenly the font of all knowledge on spiders and told me that in every square foot of grass, there are hundreds of them busying away. He saw a programme once – I was almost impressed.

I was more impressed than I was with the professional leaf blower, who was shifting leaves yesterday on our estate, with his powerful machine. They billowed up in all their gorgeous, golden glory. A feast of autumn confetti for those who were lucky enough to be twitching their curtains and watching the show. Then they settled back down, a mere few feet from where they started. Perhaps I am missing the point. Perhaps someone who may have seen a programme on leaf blowing can put me right. I have always seen the job of the leaf blower as a thankless task. One undertaken by retired men, who need a purpose while their wife is at pilates. One of those jobs that is further down the list than mowing the lawn and strimming the hedge, but that they eventually get to with a sigh. My mum used to use a rake. Every Sunday in Autumn she would be out in our garden with her woolly hat on and a rake. I can clearly remember asking her why she was bothering, because more leaves will fall during the night. Besides, I liked kicking the leaves up at my sisters and smelling their earthy, rotting smell.

I love Autumn. Especially when we have got through the horror and drama of Halloween and we can look forward to fireworks and huge bonfires. Collecting chestnuts, despite no-one actually liking them when they are roasted.

Autumn has the anticipation of Christmas hanging around it, without the stress. There is a frisson of Christmas excitement in October. It builds-up in November, reaching fever pitch and drunken parties by mid-December: hangovers and too much Camembert. By Christmas day, you are wondering how you actually ever drank mulled wine without feeling repulsed, but in the Autumn it is pure nectar, as it is symbolising the start of something, that like childbirth you have forgotten how it ends.

I love Autumn. I looked at the spring bulbs on offer in the supermarket this morning and I thought how lovely it would be to plant them now and see them spring into life in February, when we are feeling at our lowest ebb. When we are so low that we grab hold of Valentine’s Day by its balls and thrash the hell out of it, because we all need an excuse to drink champagne in the depths of Winter. But today, I resisted the urge to buy. I resisted because I want to be mindful and live in the moment of Autumn. I want to indulge in the richness of the colours and maybe, in December when it is too late, I’ll plant those bulbs.