Have you ever?

Have you ever been in a situation in which you know a person’s behaviour is just so incredibly wrong, but you feel completely helpless? When your children are being put at risk and there is nothing you can do? When your child is being manipulated and emotionally blackmailed by people who should know better? When these people then turn on you and tell you to “shut up and listen!” When they tell you that you are ‘disturbed’ and ‘disgraceful’. When they tell your children that you are a ‘control freak’ in order for them to try to keep their tight grip around them.

Have you ever wanted to tell everyone you speak to about the injustice? To see their shocked faces? To hear the disbelief in their voice? To hope they can give you a solution?

Have you ever thought to yourself that something can’t be happening, but you know that it is? Turning thoughts over and over in your mind to try to make sense of nonsense. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, where there is no doubt that they are wrong.

Have you ever had someone try to crush you? With actions and with words. Try to twist the truth so much that you are looking the distorted picture in the face and thinking, ‘how did we end up here?’ And ‘why?’ Have you ever had people try to turn your loyal and innocent children against you? To involve them for a plotted end game.

Have you ever been told by someone that you are, ‘deeply unhappy’? When in their arrogant and misplaced wisdom, they are so deeply wrong.

Yet more importantly, have you ever risen? Heaved yourself up when you were exhausted by the emotional fight. Watched the confusion from afar. Almost pitied those people for what they’ve done. Have you ever found a resolution through composure? Through sense – common and good. Have you ever stood on the higher ground and smiled?

Have you ever?

Why all kids should learn a Martial Art

My partner and I run our own Taekwon-do club and we teach a lot of kids. I’ve been teaching Taekwon-do for over 20 years and I am also a qualified teacher. Despite my experience, every single day I learn something new, and that excites me. The children I teach are always showing me ways that I can improve and in return I give them many tools and strategies that they can use in their everyday lives, that will form a part of who they are. Yes. I really do believe that Martial Arts have the power to do this. To influence children and to make them more equipped to deal with life. All five of our daughters are black belts in Taekwon-do and I can see what an amazingly positive influence it is having on their lives.


Here’s why I believe that all children should do a Martial Art.


“Discipline becomes something they enjoy.”

This is one of my buzz words. When a child understands the importance of discipline, the penny drops for them. You can see it in a 3 year old’s eyes. We use many cues to develop the students’ self control. Our youngest students know that when they are told to, “sit like a black belt”, they must sit cross-legged with their hands on their knees. This quickly stops bum spinning and nose picking – two of a 4 year old’s favourite pastimes. At first, they may miss the firm reminders. They ignore, or perhaps don’t hear instruction. In short, they don’t notice that they now have a barrier to kick against, that’s not just a pad to punch. They quickly learn. Repetition of simple phrases makes them familiar and comforting and then discipline becomes something they enjoy. They are pleased to show their good behaviour. Even a well-disciplined child is quick to copy bad behaviour. However, the highly structured nature of a martial arts class allows this to be squashed and a simple: “don’t copy bad behaviour, copy good” is easy for even our youngest students to understand. In the dojang I set my expectations of a child’s behaviour high. The etiquette of the dojang dictates certain behaviours that the student must adhere to, such as standing with their hands behind their backs in line, with both feet flat on the floor – not doing a shuffle!

“They learn that there are consequences to their actions.”

We don’t allow the children to touch each other. We find that boys in particular want to be physical with others, either hugging or play fighting. In class, they are only allowed to hit the pads, or each other when they are wearing protective gear. From 5 years old the students are able to spar each other and self-control is essential. They learn that a lack of it causes them to get warnings in the ring and even disqualification. They learn that there are consequences to their actions.

Perseverance & Resilience

“Trying to save our children does nothing to encourage the art of perseverance.”

Kids nowadays give up far too easily. In many ways it’s not their fault. It’s partly the fact that the world they live in is so fast-paced that the next new thing is always around the corner, so when something gets a little tough they can drop it and move on. It’s partly the fault of the parents who let them, without giving something a real go. It doesn’t help when the parents play coach and shout at their kids how to do something they know little about from the sidelines. Trying to save our children does nothing to encourage the art of perseverance. It just makes the child feel they aren’t good enough and may as well throw in the towel.

“developing their determination and grit in line with their ability.”

Learning the patterns in Taekwon-do is hard. You don’t get that immediate high of a computer game, or even that other elements of Taekwon-do can give you, such as the sparring or breaking boards. Through persevering however, your child learns that in fact it gives you the ultimate high: the one that you had to really work for. The belt system of many martial arts gives the child achievable goals. As they progress through the belts, the goals get harder, thus developing their determination and grit in line with their ability.

“perseverance and resilience go hand in hand”

Many children lack the resilience that they are going to need in order to cope with the knocks life will inevitably give them. This is why I feel that perseverance and resilience go hand in hand and they certainly do in martial arts. You have to learn how to deal with actual knocks in the sparring ring and we teach the children the art of digging deep. When things feel out of their control we teach them how to deal with it and how to find the strength to keep going.

“mistakes are a positive.”

I find that children are often scared to take a risk, because they don’t want to fail. Perhaps their parents and school set very high expectations for them. I teach that mistakes are a positive. Every correction means that they are learning something. This helps the child develop their positive thinking and resistance to overcome failure. They gradually build-up resilience by failing and realising that the world hasn’t actually ended and they can try again.

Teamwork and social skills

“they are considered a part of a team.”

Although you usually perform your martial art as an individual, from the moment the child steps into the dojang they are considered a part of a team. Games, drills and partner work are constantly developing this idea. One of the things I love about our Taekwon-do classes is the friendships that are made in the dojang. Simple things, such as the use of high fives, make the children feel that they are part of a bigger picture. Teaching our children how to take turns and share are also important social skills and probably the ones that are the most difficult for ego-centric little ones to grasp. In our Taekwon-do classes, where we do lots of team races, there is ample opportunity for the students to learn how to use and practise these skills. Our zero-tolerance attitude towards unsociable behaviour ensures that the children feel that the training hall is a fun and safe place to be.


“so much more than saying, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’”

Kids aren’t born polite – the onus is on us as parents to teach them. This needs to happen way before they hit pre-school, or it’s the teachers who are picking up the pieces. Being polite is so much more than saying, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, but that’s a start. One of the best ways to teach children how to be polite is by encouraging them to practice it at every opportunity. At the end of our Taekwon-do classes, the younger students receive a sticker, as well as certificates for achieving monthly goals. Whenever they receive something in class, they are reminded to say,  “thank you.” It’s easy to feel like a stuck record – the children are excited to be getting something and simply forget to say it. However, it is important that we persevere and keep sticking the same record on repeat. When the children do something for us in class, such as tidy things away, it is equally important that we thank them, as we must lead by example.

“the importance of saying sorry.”

Another element of courtesy is apologising if a child hurts someone, even accidentally. Inevitably, when they are taking part in a physical activity, there will be the odd bump and bash, but these small jostles and knocks provide the perfect opportunity for a child to learn the importance of saying sorry, as well as the other student learning not to overreact for attention.

“Eye contact is key”

Technology gets blamed for a lot of things these days and it is sometimes said that because kids’ heads are down with their eyes glued to a screen, they are losing the art of courtesy. One of the ways this certainly manifests itself is with the lack of eye contact it can create. I am a stickler for eye contact and when I am talking to my students, my usual phrase is, “eyes on me!” If a child isn’t looking at me, I don’t know whether they are listening. Eye contact is key to children developing their social skills. When I am talking one to one with a small human being – one who is a lot smaller than me – I will get myself down to their level and encourage them to look me in the eye as we talk.

“children quickly learn the art of respect.”

I find that children find it incredibly hard to listen. Some are diagnosed with autism, ADHD or ADD and learning a martial art can help with their listening skills. For others, it can simply be a lack of courtesy. We live in a child-centric world, where children often no longer wait to be heard, they just expect people to listen. In my dojang it doesn’t work like this and the children quickly learn the art of respect. It isn’t just the bowing when they enter the dojang. It is even more importantly the realisation that they are not the only person in the class who requires my attention. I have had a child stamp their foot at me when they didn’t feel I was giving them unadulterated time. A child needs to learn that other people deserve time too and this is a lesson that I instill in them.


“Kids need confidence in order to boss life.”

My stepdaughter was incredibly shy as a young child, but she attributes Taekwon-do to her confidence now. One of the most rewarding things you can see as an instructor is a child’s confidence grow. Kids need confidence in order to boss life. Low self-esteem causes problems right through to adulthood. Martial arts combat the notion of being the victim. Yet far from making a child the aggressor, they give them the confidence to be able to walk away from trouble. They give them the ability to sense a threat and to be able to avoid it and if a threat is unavoidable, we are teaching them strategies to deal with it. All children should know what to do in confrontational and potentially dangerous situations. All children and adolescents should be taught how to defend themselves and the importance getting away from the threat. It isn’t a natural instinct and it needs to be learnt. Confidence to deal with different situations, such as bullying and stranger danger, needs to be developed.

There are so many reasons why I am passionate about getting children into martial arts. This is why Oaks Martial Arts also teaches its programmes in schools. Martial arts should be on every school’s curriculum. Its benefits go far beyond the lure of the black belt and stay with them forever.


Women on fleek

I was watching the European Indoor Athletics Championships and thinking that the female athletes are seriously ‘on fleek’. It isn’t just their eyebrows that look good, (although I couldn’t help but notice). Some of their hairstyles look professionally done and their make-up looks good enough for a night out on the tiles. Yet, far from distracting from their amazing achievements, it just made me think: jeez! Not only can these inspirational women hone their muscles to pure, unadulterated strength perfection, but they are quite obviously feeling fabulous about being female. They are enhancing their femininity and then going out there and bossing it. This is women all over. Feminism isn’t about watering our female assets down. It’s not about shying away from them, so that perhaps we don’t attract unwanted male attention. It’s about doing it our way. It’s about making ourselves feel confident. This may be a teenage girl putting on a figure-hugging dress and showing off a cleavage to die for. This may be a new mum on her first night out since giving birth, wanting to dress-up for herself and her partner, to prove to herself (and him) that she’s still got what it takes. This may be a model wanting work and a woman struggling with a disability. Here’s to women being ‘on fleek’. Here’s to women who are bossing it. Here’s to women who just want to feel bloody amazing. People may say to us: “it doesn’t matter what you look like. It’s what’s on the inside that counts”, but what we put out there is us and we are human. We want to feel good about ‘us’. But that isn’t ‘a look’. It’s a feeling. There is no such thing as ‘a good look’. Looking good is feeling good about ourselves. We are of course our worst critics. We tell ourselves that we don’t look ‘good enough’. That means ‘good enough for us’. So we try to improve, for US! Not for him, or her, but for ME! Here’s to women everywhere who are on their own unique journey. We are all amazing – it’s personal.


Back then

I have (almost) finally succumbed to the fact that certain things are deteriorating due to my age. The blurry texts on my phone quickly prompt me to put on my glasses. My muscles not wanting to spring back to life after injuries, remind me that they are (ever so slowly) going downhill. Things change and I must accept it, as graciously as possible so as not to become that archetypal grumpy older woman. I am nowhere near 50 (46) after all. But the big one is beginning to be a reality for friends, possible membership to Saga is merely three and a half years away and it starts making you think about things in a different way. 

Sometimes my Facebook feed and articles I read, remind me of how things were back then, back when my girls were tiny, compared with how they are now. It makes me sound so old, but I am sidestepping slowly that way. Back then, I was a housewife, not a SAHM as there was no such thing. I was dog chained to the patriarchal society. I hated the word. I hated having to write it on forms, whilst beside it writing that my (ex) husband was a ‘Director’. He sounded so important and I sounded so pathetic. Yet I didn’t feel pathetic. I felt like a mum boss: organising, creating, managing her team. I fucked up, but I expect the ‘director ‘ did too. We’re all allowed to fuck up. We’re all allowed days when we feel like jacking it in, when the team don’t want to play the game. When we’re so frazzled we just want to call in sick. 

Back then, when daughter 1 was born, it was a hot, hot Summer. As I lay and fed her at night in the humid open air, without the need for a sheet or duvet, I would doze, as would she. When we woke I would just change her to my other side to feed and so we would slumber the night away in a sticky, milky haze. Daughter 2 was a winter born. At night I did the same with her. It was easier for me than lifting her every hour and sitting shivering in a chair or propped up on pillows with the midnight chill around me. We would lie and doze, under the warmth of the duvet we would fall asleep. One night I woke and she wasn’t there in my gaze, where she had been as she fed. I was engulfed in panic as I reached down under the duvet and pulled her up. A warm bundle of sleeping joy. But what could have been? 

Back then you didn’t hear about the dangers. Within a year my sister, as a rookie policewoman, was called to a house where a mother had rolled on her baby and suffocated him. “Never sleep with your babies” she told me and I reassured her that now I never do. A couple of years on and a cousin’s best friend tragically lost their baby the same way. 

Back then we didn’t know. Now it has a name: co-sleeping. It has become a topic of conversation, an actual choice rather than something you just instinctively do or don’t do. Something I did to make my life easier – my gut instinct driven (or obscured) by a desperate need for sleep. It was for me, not them. They needed milk and security, but they would learn to settle where they were put. Daughters 3 and 4 were in cots in our bedroom for 6 months, then my gut said we needed space. We needed to regain our nest. When the girls were unsettled, they were comforted in their rooms and our bedroom was only ours. Intimacy needs to happen in that bedroom. Couples have to cuddle alone and make love to keep their bond alive. It is your one sanctuary where your love for each other is cemented.

Back then there was no debate. There was no hot potato. Back then gut instinct told us this felt right. When something becomes a choice you have to weigh up its pros and cons and make an informed decision. You are barraged with ‘advice’ and your gut instinct is in danger of being drowned. Back then the main battle to retain your gut instinct was against well meaning relatives, who insisted it was better how they did things “back then”. Your granny’s advice is easier to dismiss as old-fashioned, than the vociferous women on Mumsnet.

I promise I will try not to be that annoying mother, who sees the internet as the devil and the main stress inducer of her daughters’ generation. Especially as I feel that my gut instinct, fuelled by sleep deprivation, could have endangered my babies. I can accept change. Things just seemed a tiny bit simpler back then. 

Time to think

When was the last time you stopped to think? Perhaps it was in the bath? Or maybe in the early hours when you couldn’t sleep? I often bemoan the fact that I don’t have time to reflect on where I am in life. To think about what I have achieved and to plan what goals to aim for. I get frustrated that I am so busy that I can’t just stop and think.

When I do have time to relax, I fill it with friends and family. With weekend papers and wine. With dog walks and pub lunches, so I still don’t have time to think. When I go on my summer holiday, I devour books and sleep in the sun. I walk to cafés, drink coffee and explore new places and I still don’t have time to think.

Here’s a thought, perhaps time to think is overrated. When I schedule my bath (a week in advance due to having 4 daughters), I imagine that I will wallow in its comforting warmth and indulge myself in reflections on life and what the universe holds for me. Yet the reality is that I lie there and think about all the things that I should have done that day. I try to write them in my phone, which then gets wet and I worry that I will drop it in the bath. Why is it that as soon as my desperate body slides into those delicious bubbles, I feel the overwhelming urge to write a list? Not the inspirational list I had hoped my thoughts would take me to whilst lying in my bath. No. A list of must do’s and forgot to do’s and shit there was something else, but I can’t quite remember what it is to do’s.

Then there’s the tossing and turning at 3am, when I’m wide awake for no apparent reason. Unexpected thinking time that I can immerse myself in without fear of interruption. I can turn this negative awake time around and imagine what I want for my future and what I have achieved in my past. But these useful thoughts seem to escape me and in their place I am gripped by anxiety. Anxious thoughts that I didn’t give a toss about yesterday and by the morning I don’t give a toss again.

In the past when I worried about something I would dwell on it, turn it over and over in my mind. I allowed myself too much time to think: what could happen? What might happen? The more thinking fertilizer I fed the worry, the more the worry grew. Now I try and stubbornly refuse to give my worries airspace. Rather than stopping to think, I get my head down and hurry right on by.

When was the last time you got to stop and think? But more importantly, when was the last time you were able to use your precious thinking time well? Perhaps we shouldn’t seek time to reflect, but simply to enjoy the moment.

In sickness and in health

The following letter was inspired by a post on my local mums’ Facebook page. It is about no-one in particular, but some may relate to it. If you have a husband who is nothing like this one, then be eternally thankful (but don’t feel that you still can’t play the PMT card, when you’re just having a really shitty day).

Dear Darling Husband,

I married you ‘for richer, for poorer. In sickness and in health’. I just want to clarify the terms. ‘In sickness’ does not include man flu. I did not say, “I do” to watching you laying on the sofa with that irritating woeful look on your face, whilst telling anyone who will listen (your mum) that you have googled the symptoms and it could be Malaria. I am aware (because you keep saying it) that absolutely nobody understands how ill you are. I am also aware (because you keep telling me) what a shit nurse I am. You see, the thing is, I am not a shit nurse. When the kids have a temperature of 102 degrees and are covered in a rash, with tonsils the size of the Devil’s Marbles, I show huge concern. I place a flannel on their forehead and give them Calpol. If I indulge you with this much attention, you will miraculously feel better and want sex. No, a cup of tea on my way out the door is currently all my stress levels can manage. Especially as I am still feeling ill from the heavy cold I had at the beginning of the week. The same one that you now have, but you tell me that yours is a more virulent strain. The one you didn’t notice, because everything carried on as normal. Just as it did a few hours after I gave birth to our daughter. You remember – the birth that you fainted at and had to be brought toast and a cup of tea by two midwives, whilst I was screaming, “get this little fucker out!” Perhaps you should go to the doctor – that person who you resolutely refuse to have anything to do with. But don’t worry, while you are so stoically going it alone (whilst constantly fishing for sympathy), I will keep those balls in the air (no Darling Husband not yours, as you are ill, remember?) I will keep the flag flying in this house, until you are well enough to return. I will get my head down and soldier on. Until death we do part. (You are closer than even you can imagine).

Much love, your Darling Wife xxx

So predictable

Since my daughters have hit their teens, I have had that recurring thought of the similarities between teenagers and toddlers: self-centered, attention-seeking and petulant. Unable to always communicate properly, other than via a series of miserable whines that extol utterances of ‘woe me’. The ability to make you feel like a worthless piece of shite, whilst you freely still slather them in love. Then there’s the highly irritating trait of being utterly charming to granny and friends’ parents, so that these duped individuals exclaim to you (in a voice that makes you feel like a nasty fraud), “difficult? I don’t know what you mean!” Usually said as they feed them another biscuit which, when they have cheerily and smugly said goodbye to you and your offspring, will leave you dealing with the carnage of the sugar rush.

Are you the parent of a toddler who is worried about time moving too fast? Fret not. It only moves like lightening in the bigger picture. The minutiae  of life, the bickering and the tantrums, can keep the cogs turning slowly. Of course, just like toddlers, there are many moments of wonder and unadulterated joy with teenagers, but we all know that the reality is that shit happens. Whatever lies your Instagram feed is showing you, with the best will in the world and as much as you would not be without them, sometimes being with toddlers and teenagers is hard bloody work.

Last night however, prompted by one of my dogs wanting a wee, when he should have been going to sleep, my thoughts turned to the differences between having little ones and having teenagers. As I lay in bed, waiting for partner to take the dog out to the toilet, it came to me that one of the most stressful parts of having babies and toddlers is their unpredictability. Weeks of colic with daughter 1, unable to predict what would set her off screaming for hours, sent my already high stress levels rocketing. I can clearly remember the pure relief I felt, when at 16 weeks I had got her into some kind of routine, her colic had subsided and she became more predictable. If as parents of tinies you knew the night schedule in advance: baby wakes at 11pm for a feed, toddler cries 1am-2am for no apparent reason, baby wakes at 2am for a feed, toddler wakes at 5am for Peppa Pig on loop and breakfast, it would actually be far easier to deal with, because you could formulate a plan. Not quite knowing makes it stressful, and in the early days it can feel quite scary.

As a rookie teacher it was the same. The more experienced I became, the more behaviours I had encountered and therefore the more predictable they were. I think it’s the same with teenagers; in many ways their behaviours are highly predictable. You get very little thanks for doing things for them as they feel it’s their right anyway. They don’t bring dirty mugs downstairs. They spend hours on their phones, they take hundreds of selfies…oh the list could go on and on, but at least you know where you stand! They can be so incredibly predictable.

Does predictability make life any easier? Sometimes. Although occasionally, of course, it is the surprises that make life interesting*.

*not when they involve screaming, shit, sick or wee. Smiles, flowers, pleasant behaviour, are all good surprises

“In fiction: we find the predictable boring. In real life: we find the unpredictable terrifying.”

– Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Beautifully flawed

Number 1 friend dropped round a large bunch of tulips the other day, as a gesture of thanks. They were beautiful and I knew the exact jug that would show off their full potential. It was the jug with a chip on one side. No problem, I thought, whilst arranging them with as much love and attention as the thought that had gone into the purchase, I can just sit the chipped side of the jug so that it isn’t on show.

They looked gorgeous and every time I walked into the room, they filled me with happiness. I thought about how well the jug fitted in with my cushions and the cheap rug that I had bought for a carpet when a mysterious stain had appeared from nowhere and had needed an emergency cover up a few months before. I didn’t think about the chip and I didn’t think about the stain, as both were hidden from my view.

Our house is full to the brim. It is bursting with people and animals. It is overflowing with make-up brushes and throws. Every sheet seems to own the reminder of a nose bleed from when my daughters were small and every duvet cover at the moment has circles of fur, where much loved molting cats snuggle in – especially when the heating stops working, which recently, on the coldest days, it has been prone to do. These are the days when we must hunker down with a paper and a bottle of wine in front of the gas fire in the sitting room, which has started to become temperamental. Yet candles still have the ability to save even the grimmest, most unlucky of days and make you feel that things will somehow be ok.

This house is full of cracks and that is why I love it. That is why I feel at home. I don’t crave perfection. I relish imperfection. Maybe I see fuck-ups as a challenge and a distraction from routine. When things go wrong, there is the opportunity to put them right. In fact, to make them better than they even were before. Humans need fuck-ups. Fuck-ups rally the troops and give everyone a sense of community.

Perfection must surely make you anxious. Having to sustain perfection must be like never reaching the top of a mountain, but having the summit constantly in your sights. I don’t care if my children fuck-up; I did. Of course, I want them to do their very best and I want them to feel fulfilled, but the only way to achieve this is with knock backs, with things going wrong, with cracks. Because even with these cracks, they will still be fabulous. Even with all our human imperfections, we can shine. We can hide the cracks and we can mend them, but ultimately they make us beautifully flawed and most importantly, they are the making of us.

Dreaming of strike action

5am and you’re up, Monday to Friday, not through complete choice. No, just to get a cup of tea in peace. ‘Peace’, of course means whilst feeding the cats and rubbing the dog’s tummy (the dog they all wanted) so that he doesn’t wake up the entire house and thus, in one bark, negating the entire point of you being up so fucking early.

Whilst the tea is brewing, you unpack the dishwasher, lay out the packed lunches you made the night before and empty the recycling bin. Whilst drinking your tea, you write a list. On this list there are things that need to be done. In theory you are writing this list for the entire family to pitch in and share it out. Willingly and joyously. Like they would in a commune – each member taking responsibility for the chore that relates to their strength. But no-one in your family appears to have strengths in the chore department. Nobody notices that the clothes make a long and tiring journey from body to washer to dryer to airer to drawer. Nobody notices the donkey that carries them.

You hear voices upstairs and you sigh. Time up. Buckle up. Brace, brace…

“I’m in the shower!” “Where are my tights?” “Darling, have you seen my wallet?” “I hate you!” “Can you sign my planner?” “I need a pound for own clothes day”. “I need new shoes” …

You need to get to work. You dodge the missiles, but still manage to get hit. It hurts and you want to scream, but you know that you wouldn’t be heard. The storm cloud of husband and teenagers leaves the house just ahead of you. You shut the door behind you on a mess that will greet you with arms flung wide open on your return at 6pm.

Your train is cancelled due to the strike and as you clutch at your one bastion of freedom that is a Costa coffee, you dream of going on strike. You stand there on the platform and you imagine that one day your service will not be running: there were crisis talks, but no resolution was reached and the dispute continued. The two sides could not agree. One side felt aggrieved that she did all the work running the home, for no extra pay and the other side disagreed and felt that her allegation was unfair.

Work is spent juggling texts from teenage children who have lost things, who need lifts later, who want to stay over at a friends, who are wondering what you are doing a week on Saturday because they need a lift back from a party and, somewhat miraculously, it is also spent doing work: managing, delegating, presenting, answering questions, writing reports and feeling a little bit human.

Your key is turning in your front door and every night, Monday to Friday, you have a tiny hope that you will walk in to an oasis of calm. Perhaps some rose petals scattered, following a candlelit path to a bath overflowing with bubbles. Every night, Monday to Friday you walk into everything that hasn’t been done and more. Like a rabid dog you are on it. You are filling pans with vegetables and boiling water, whilst yelling for someone to feed the cat, as you put the dog out for a wee, at the same time as you are listening to a grievance about a teacher and it is all done whilst you are still in your coat.

Your husband walks through the door, the Clyde to your Bonnie. You are a team once more. Back-up has arrived. “I’m just going to take off my suit and I’ll be down” are his cheery words.

“Noooooooo!” You want to scream. “Not the fucking suit!”

The suit that means the lie down on the bed, the check my Facebook, the take a leisurely shit.

Every day, Monday to Friday nobody seems to care. Nobody seems to notice. One day…one day you will get your freedom. Just not today.


A girl’s determination

Partner and I sneaked off to London this week on a work day, and one of the instructors who covered my Taekwon-do classes texted me in the evening to say how well behaved the students had been. “They were so determined” she said.

Her use of the word ‘determined’ really struck me. It leapt out of the phone screen and filled my heart with pride. I said it out loud to myself, “determined”, and smiled with satisfaction once I’d done so. It is surely onomatopoeic, as you can only say it with a sense of purpose in your voice. Here is a word that is so full of possibility, that for a negative to be the outcome of its usage would be a travesty.

Wanting to keep my thoughts of this wonderful word positive, I thought about it in relation to the book that I have written, ‘Raising Girls who can Boss it…and Staying Sane’. Because if there is one thing in life that girls are going to need in order to boss it, it is determination. Determination to smash their way through stereotypes. Determination to make sure their voice is heard. Determination to close the gender pay gap. Determination to be taken seriously. Determination not to be sucked into a fake world, that is based solely on looks and likes.

By hovering over our daughters and protecting them, we are diminishing their determination. By expecting too much of them, they are losing their determination to succeed. The obsessive nature of the waterfall of social media, too easily dilutes a determination to be happy with who she is and what she has.

To me, the word ‘determination’ screams of resilience, resourcefulness and independence. It shouts to me of a girl who is single minded and confident. One who has success in her sights, whatever the odds that are stacked against her.

Say this word out loud: “determination”. Its power is already there linguistically; you have just given it a strong voice.

This is the voice we must give our daughters. The voice of determination is what they are going to need to boss it in this world and its strength almost speaks for itself.