The Worry O’Meter


If I worry enough, will that make it okay?

So, motherhood. It’s a whole new realm of worrying, isn’t it? I read recently that when it comes to being a parent, there’s a very (VERY) fine line between all-consuming love and sheer, never-felt-before fear. Oh, the FEAR. Are ‘What’ and ‘If’ the two scariest words known to mum? And dads, of course.

I pondered this earlier, when I found myself having a little cry whilst reading some info on the schools’ application process. Me having a little cry about anything related to important changes in Z’s life is not uncommon. Yes, I cried (stealthily) during our first school visit, no I could not help it, yes my husband was mortified, no I did not care. It was just too overwhelming; it’s the school we really want him to go to, but he is little, and it is very big. Denial is key.

Thus, I found myself wondering today: these things I worry about so much, if they are worried about enough, will they go away?

Beyond those school gates (pleeeease let them be the gates we want oh PLEASE) is a world in which we can only go with him so far. We can hold his hand until it’s time for him to go off into that playground, in his new uniform with his little coat and bag. Then he is gone (until home time when I will be the happiest person in the WORLD). Our baby boy. The absolute love of mine and Adam’s life. I am reassured that the teachers are kind and caring and he will be welcomed and looked after by them. Hopefully some of his nursery friends will join him.

But what I do not know is who else he will meet. Who will he play with? Who will be friends with him? Who will help him if he needs it? Will they be nice to him? Naturally, the idea of anyone not being nice to him feels me with a blinding fury that I can’t even express. It’s hard to hear terribly sad stories of bullying and not panic. Children can be very cruel. Often without even meaning to. But still, they can. And on the flip side? I know what a sweet, generous, funny, loving and playful little boy he is. He knows how to behave kindly. Just as I have to trust he will make lovely friends, I have to know he’ll be lovely to others, and hope with all I have that he will settle and be happy, and these worries will remain abstract, and turn to nothing in stone.

Do school and nits not go hand in hand? Oh, but the very idea of them makes my scalp crawl, let alone the reality. The day they happen will involve shrieking and not just their arrival in Z’s luscious locks, but in mine. Because my long hair is extra thick and curly, and whilst I dream of a head of glistening SJP-esque curls (at its finest during SATC), this remains a dream. Unless we are enjoying very hot temperatures, my left-to-dry-naturally hair leaves me resembling a backcombed Brian May crossed with Worzel Gummidge. It is very attractive. You can imagine why nits will be such a problem. Apparently, they hate products, so it will be V05 mousse and Elnett all the way when they strike. Those little critters will be bouncing away from our big bouffants STAT, I hope. Maybe the extent of my worry on this will make it not *quite* so bad after all. But that’s probably clutching at claws. Blyuuuuurggggghh.

Everything becomes a potential hazard when kids come along. Not just the obvious; roads, steep stairs, open windows, ponds, but those kitchen counter edges, unattended hot drinks, an oven door left open – the list goes on. I feel constantly alert for the things he can damage/be damaged by, I am always trying to second guess what will hurt him. Nine times out of ten this worry comes to nothing, and it’s a blessed relief each night when he is asleep; another day done, another day safe. Tick! But recently we had a scare, when he came home from nursery very distressed, with a rapidly rising temperature. He screamed when I turned on a light upstairs; he couldn’t bear to be in any light whatsoever. You know what word immediately burst into my mind. And you know that once the ‘M’ word is thought, you can’t un-think it and dismiss their increasing temperature and drowsiness. Or their inability to even be comforted by TV because it’s too bright. Even though Paw Patrol makes me want to hide from the TV too.

To cut a long story short, 111 were brilliant and sent paramedics, they in turn were brilliant and because they must be ultra-cautious with these symptoms, we went by ambulance to hospital and stayed the night, so Z could have antibiotics on a drip. Holding your screaming child in the back of an ambulance, distracting them as the doctor finds a vein for a cannula, soothing them as they lay in a much-too-big-for-their-tiny-body hospital bed . . . Well, it’s all of those worries come true, whilst being immeasurably grateful it isn’t worse, and hopefully never will be.

Just . . . will he be healthy and happy and safe? That is all. Right now, he is only three and a half years old. He is a pure, sweet soul who knows only love. He is protected and knows nothing of the horrors of the world out there. I want him to live a life of adventure and excitement and exploration and endless possibility, whilst equally wanting to protect him and never let him feel a moment’s anguish or heartbreak or fear or sadness ever. Becoming a parent is absolute, unconditional love. It is also accepting the worry, which starts the day you know you’re expecting and is there every day. Not all day, every day, because how would we ever get anything done? But it’s what we signed up for and it’s here to stay. Now how about some Valium for that first day of school? And a nice hot cup of tea. Possibly laced with brandy.

Summer memories to last a lifetime

It’s September, which seems mad, but what a summer it’s been. We’ve been so busy having so much fun I’ve not had time to write it all down, but that’s what helpful picture galleries are for in years to come. They’ll jog our memories as we remember The Summer of Making the Most of Zach Not Being at School, aka being fortunate enough to go on some lovely trips, because we are lucky enough to have family and friends who live in/have homes in France and invite us to stay . . .

Villefranche in April:


Menorca in June:


Morzine in July:


Valberg in August:

Dieppe in September:

Croyde in October:

Norfolk in November:

I am constantly aware of how fast time is going, how fast you are growing up and I want to make sure I don’t take any of it for granted. There are so many things to try and remember, my phone is filled with notes. I keep trying to think of witty and interesting ways to write all about it, but what am I waiting for? If I lose my phone I’ll be kicking myself, so here’s a recent selection, in no particular order:

  • ‘Mummy my legs hurt! I need some magic cream!’ (for growing pains)
  • Charlton Lido on bank holiday Monday morning just gone, me swimming and you running over to give me kisses and big hugs whilst I was in the pool and you stood at the poolside with the sun behind you
  • Speaking of swimming, you swam for the first time in the sea with me in Villefranche in August and it was so special, the sunshine and the green water and you splashing away (before we went for dinner and realised our flight had left at 7am that morning. Oops.)
  • ‘I want a little bit of breakfast now’ (at 6pm)
  • Absolutely beside yourself with despair ‘I don’t want to eat a broken banana! Fix it, fiiiiiiix iiiiiiiit!’
  • ‘Mummy . . . mummy . . . mummy . . . I love you.’
  • ‘Can I make honey now?’ (proceeds to empty out any available washing baskets and roll around in it and run around with it on your head)
  • ‘No daddy you’re being rude you’re a silly man! I’m not your friend anymore!’
  • ‘I am so excited!’
  • ‘Now then Zachy who do you love more than anyone else in the world?’ ‘MoreGuin!’
  • ‘Oh yes mummy, you’re my favourite little boy.’
  • ‘We are so happy on holiday aren’t we?’
  • ‘I’m not going to nursery work are I?’
  • ‘I miss Arthur.’ ‘I miss MoreGuin.’ ‘I miss my pegs.’
  • Every morning when I go to brush your hair, you run and hide under the bed
  • Every evening when we try to brush your teeth, you roll away or run away or scream and say ‘The gates are shut’
  • Walking home from nursery and you go on the tall wall, so I can pick you up higher and you can be closer to the sky
  • ‘I’m making you chocolate eggs!’ (brings me Lego bricks filled with sand)
  • ‘I missed-a you so much today!’
  • ‘You are my pile of treasure.’
  • ‘You are the cuddliest bear I’ve ever seen.’
  • ‘You are my plastic bucket.’
  • ‘You are my cherub.’
  • ‘I like softing Charlie cat best you know.’
  • ‘Merci beaukook!’
  • ‘Mummy you look like a steam train today and a lovely mummy.’
  • ‘This bath is too wet!’
  • ‘But I don’t like onions!’ (whilst eating a plate of fish fingers, mash and broccoli)
  • ‘What was your favourite part of today?’ ‘Being with you.’

Can we get a time check please?

Z3My last post in June was entitled ‘Slow Down’ and yes, I like to take things literally. But at this output rate, I’ll be kicking myself in years to come for spending far too much time Twinstabooking and not nearly enough time scribbling about our many adventures and the fact Z now says things to me like ‘Mummy you look like a telescope’ or ‘You’re my favourite mummy in the world’ or ‘I love you so much’ or ‘I’m CROSS with you!’ whilst folding his arms across his chest and looking away.

Admittedly I’m in something of a writing block at the moment when it comes to my own stuff, due to general busy-ness, but I spend so much time thinking ‘write that down’ and hastily making notes on my phone and then going to look them up and then ‘Ooh, just five minutes on . . .’

But last month, no wait, it’s two months ago now, argh . . . we had his pre-school report and parents’ evening. Is it me or are these occasions just the sweetest, loveliest things? I don’t mean that in a patronising way at ALL, because our nursery staff work so hard and take the best care of the kids there possible. But for me, going along and sitting on one of those tiny chairs and hearing all about how Z spends his days away from us is utterly z1lovely. Leafing through his workbook, filled with photos and descriptions of his progress obviously makes me well up. To be clear – we recently did a tour of the school we hope he’ll get into, and not only did I have to really battle to not bawl the whole way through, I cried my eyes out walking home. I’m not even ashamed. That’s just how it is and how it’s going to be. He’s my baby, the school is massive, it’s going to suck not hanging out with him on Thursdays and Fridays anymore from next September.

As for his pre-school report, I bloody love it. It tells us things about our little boy like ‘He is learning to put his coat on by himself’ and ‘Zachary is growing in confidence’ and ‘Zachary enjoys singing and dancing’ – oh, my heart! There are gems like ‘Zachary enjoys looking at books by himself’ – well of COURSE he does, that’s my boy. Erm – ‘Zachary understand mathematical language’ – what? How? I still count using my fingers. If he doesn’t struggle with maths in the way I do, then this is excellent news. Yes, I know he’s only three. ‘We are working on his concentration and attention span’ is something I wholeheartedly support – gets it from his dad.

It’s such a nice thing to have and to keep, and I think I’d quite like to write my own version of a report for him soon, to keep track of all he gets up to now. Because I can’t remember what we do from one week to the next, but I know this time is precious, and there’s so much I don’t want to forget. The tantrums, yes. The fact he told me today that if he ever had a little sister he’d like to call her Geoffrey? No. And no.



Slow Down

A friend shared this on Facebook this morning and it made me BAWL. It’s beautiful, but made me wail great big heaving gasping sobs. Attractive, I know.

I thought I’d be okay watching it a second time, but that was very naive of me. I was relatively composed (aka gently weeping) until the father-sees-his-daughter-as-a-bride bit and then I lost it. Again. I love you mum and dad.

And Zachary? Stop growing up so fast xxx


The Overly Sentimental Mother’s Guide to a trip to A&E

zande2Disclaimer: He’s absolutely fine, phew.

Things I am not cut out for:

The split second after seeing my son whack his head into the sharp corner of a kitchen counter.

The sound it made, which I keep hearing long since it happened.

His screams as the deep cut in his eyebrow bled and he cried and cried in my arms.

The sick feeling I get when I think about if it had been a few centimetres lower.

The sight of my child lying on the blue hospital bed, looking up at the lights in A&E, as the kind nurse gently cleaned and glued the cut. I distracted him by reciting all the Thomas engines, and promising him a new one next week. At that point, I’d have promised him all the engines on Sodor.

Things I may not be cut out for, but luckily for me, these lovely people are:

My first aid trained sister-in-law, who took immediate charge of the situation, cleaning him up and getting ice whilst I held him tight and tried not to bawl too.

My brother, who was calm and laid-back and practical, everything I was not as we worked out what to do.

The pharmacist in Sainsbury’s, who confirmed yes he needs to be looked at, better safe than sorry, whilst my head was a blur of What If He’s Concussed/Scarred For Life/Am I Massively Overreacting/Oh But Look At His Poorly Cut/Ooh I Like that Picnic Blanket No This Is Not The Time To Shop.

My parents, who drove us to A&E and stayed with us for two hours and looked after us and helped keep Z entertained.

The Senior Nurse, Joan, who made everything okay and reassured me and put Z so at ease.

My husband, not with us this weekend, who reminded me that this is no doubt the first of many minor accidents. Argh!

This in the same week that my husband was knocked off his bike – thank goodness he’s fine too. Could everyone stop having accidents now please? My worry lines are going through the roof.

Later, and beaming with pride after being given not one, but two stickers for being so good, Zach was smiling and chatty as we left the hospital. I gave in to the stress of it all and cried, quietly observing to my dad the sheer terror that it must be to have a child in hospital, seriously ill.

Something Z has started saying a lot recently is ‘I love you.’ He often follows it up immediately with ‘You are a poo-poo Mummy!’ or ‘But I’m not your friend anymore’ or ‘Mummy I’m putting you in the bin!’ What can you do? Kids are strange.

But tonight as we drove home, he held my hand and simply said ‘Mummy I love you so much.’ Sentimental as I am, another time this may have brought a tear to my eye. But I just smiled and said it back. Times a gazillion. Because earlier there really had been something to cry about.

And even though What If What If What If keeps circling my thoughts, I’m going to keep that at bay and concentrate on the fact Z and H are both absolutely fine, we are lucky, and I need to lie down.

Here’s talkin’ to you, kid

ice creamIn the car on the way home from Whitstable last weekend, you asked me to take off your wellies, and then your blue socks. There was some blue fluff on your hot little feet, which I started to brush off.

‘No mummy!’ you exclaimed. ‘It’s the blue fluff’s home!’ I paused, taking in what you were saying, and you continued ‘The blue fluff won’t have a home!’

Then I reached for my phone, to make a note. Over the last few weeks, I have spent a lot of time thinking ‘Write that down!’ and making a long list, because the things you are coming out with I don’t want to forget.

And later on, I thought about how full of wonder and innocence and delight you are; that you can think of your feet as a home to sock fluff is pure three-year-old magic. I can’t keep track of all the brilliant/funny/irrational/lovely things you say, but I can make a start here.

It’s important to stand your ground once you’ve decided to commit to something, especially something you feel passionate about. Be sure to see it through. Like that time a couple of weeks ago when we walked into the dining room and I turned on the light. Well, that was your job, wasn’t it? As you made clear by screaming ‘‘I want to turn on the light I WANT TO TURN ON THE LIIIIIIIIIIGHT!’ You certainly made your feelings known, same applies to those recent cries of:

‘Mummy stop looking at me!’
‘Daddy don’t talk to me!’
‘Noooo I don’t want food! Yoghurt isn’t food it’s special!’
‘I don’t like you anymore Mummy/Daddy. You are not my friend!’
‘I don’t LIKE abiblobi (ravioli) it’s poo poo!’
‘My name is NOT Zachary!’

In some cases, logic need not apply. If you say it loud enough, you’ll still be heard.

You ask some awesome questions. You haven’t so far been through the constant ‘Why Why Why?’ phase, but one of my favourite recent questions was ‘Why is Up sad mummy? I feel sad when Up cries.’ We were watching Pixar’s Up together, you thought Mr Frederickson was called ‘Up.’ I had a moment and then wrote it down. You followed it with ‘But we are happy aren’t we mummy? I want everyone to be happy.’ Your heart is so big; I wish you could only ever know happiness and not what a horrible place the world can be.

Ahh, joy, we’ve reached the stage where you love to shout, loudly in ideal places like the supermarket or a café: ‘MUMMY’S GOT A WINKY!’ or ‘MUMMY YOU ARE POO-POO! YOUR HAIR IS POO-POO MUMMY!’
And I know, I know the more I tell you not to, the more fun it is, so I must try and style it out better. Possibly by pretending I’ve never seen you before in my life. This morning you told me I look like a potato, which is infinitely preferable to all this talk of poo at the top of your voice. But you are three, and I’m sure it’s going to get worse before it stops.

Every now and again you’ll catch me completely off guard, by saying ‘I love you’ before I’ve said it first. You’ll ask for a cuddle or for us to just sit with you, you say ‘Mummy I need you’ or ‘Daddy is so kind isn’t he?’ and it makes us catch each other’s eye and grin like fools. You love your trains and dinosaurs and declare all of them your favourites, and will run around in small circles exclaiming ‘I’m so excited!’ at the prospect of playing with them. You sing the Thomas theme song and ‘read’ stories to us, you do dinosaur ‘ROARS!’ and tell me that when I grow up to be a big boy like you, I can use toothpaste too (?). It feels like we spent so long waiting to hear your voice and be able to talk with you, not at you. And now it’s here and it, like you, is magic.

The Sentimental Mother’s Guide to Being Quite Overly Emotional But Trying to Pretend You Aren’t

IMG_1036It’s time for me to admit; I think I might be one of those overly sentimental mums. I can try and fight it, deny it, pretend I’m well ‘ard and tough, but frankly, it’s just not true.

I have the hugest of crushes on the amazing mum bloggers out there, who have nailed the art of calling out the really bloody exhausting and nerve-jangling aspects of parenthood and being honest and funny at the same time. My particular faves are Brummy Mummy of 2 and Hurrah for Gin, who seem to be able to pinpoint and say not only what we are all thinking and experiencing, but do it hilariously and touchingly but never cheesily. And this is where I often think ‘Oh I can’t possibly write this or that down, what if everyone thinks ‘Blyurrrgh! Pass the bucket! This one’s far too sensitive for her own good.’

But then again, we are all different, and that’s just fine. I read a comment on a post recently where a mum said something like ‘Now I was never a mushy mum . . .’ and I thought ‘Oh but that’s me.’ I am the one crying my eyes out along the street after a particularly tearful nursery drop-off. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed with love for my boy I just start crying. And yes this has happened out in public, when obviously he was being insanely cute and not going mental because he doesn’t LIKE the sun. But still. Sometimes it makes me feel just a bit silly. Because we all love our kids to pieces, and it’s not the British way to be too sentimental about these things, what what.

I think there’s a very good reason for it though, and it’s this. I feel, every single day, very lucky. Oh I’m welling up just writing that down. Argh! I feel lucky to be married to my husband when in my early twenties I never thought I would ever meet anyone like him, let alone marry him and have a beautiful son together. Yes he can drive me crazy, because he literally cannot find ANYTHING and cannot see things even when they are RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM. I spend my life telling him where things are (‘It’s right in front of you, see?’), but that’s no big deal.

IMG_1787And when it comes to our little boy, every day I feel lucky that he is here. I have never taken for granted or just assumed I could have children. But he is here and all the things that add up to him are right. From his big curly hair to his ten small toes, everything that makes him him is a part of me and I feel this overwhelming, sometimes crushing weight of love for him that is impossible to articulate. So maybe that’s why I cry. I have also read far too many horror novels, and seen too many terrible stories in the news, to not panic every time he runs that little bit too fast away from me or I lose sight of him for a moment in the park. We all do that.

He turned three nearly three weeks ago and I’ve been wanting to write it all down but so far I haven’t, and I don’t know why. Time is going so quickly, and every now and again I catch a glimpse of him and he looks so grown up, and I just want time to stop. I was quite proud of myself this year because I only cried once when wrapping his presents, instead of the sob fest of the previous two years in preparation for his big day. Maybe I am toughening up!

Oh, who am I kidding? He flung his arms around me the other day and said ‘Mummy I love you so much!’ before rushing off to tend to Thomas, Gordon and friends, leaving me with tears rolling down my cheeks whilst thinking ‘I won’t cry I won’t cry . . . oh go on then. Just a little bit.’

Mums vs. Non-Mums? Really?

MeZJan16Most of us will have seen by now The Motherhood Challenge on Facebook, in which some will have taken part, others will have chosen not to. I like seeing my friends’ pictures, but I’m the latter; I write about motherhood plenty as it is. I’m so self-conscious about trying not to be too in anyone’s face with it, that I didn’t feel the need to add more photos into the mix. I’m a copywriter, I love to write – when I went on maternity leave and stopped writing every day, it drove me nuts, so I began blogging as a way to get it all down and keep a record for Zach. So many of us write about motherhood as a way to offload, share and remember we’re all in the same boat.

But we’re not, are we? Most of us will have also seen by now, comedian Ellie Taylor’s Non-Motherhood Challenge photos, which went viral. It’s her napping and with a bottle of red wine in one shot for a pillow. I saw it and laughed aloud, and thought if that had been me, I’d have thrown a bottle of gin, a cinema schedule and a giant cup of hot steaming tea in there too. Later on, when it popped up in my FB feed more and more, I saw some of the comments, and sighed.

In amongst the hundreds of people applauding her and finding it funny were those commenting on how upsetting it might be for non-mothers to see. Then there were those blasting so-called smug mums. As someone commented in response, there always has to be one, doesn’t there? But as someone else replied, no matter what you write or do, someone, somewhere will take offence.

It seemed to quickly turn into a Mothers vs Non-Mothers challenge, with comments abounding about smug mums who can only talk about their wonderful kids, non-mums talking about how refreshing it is to see a non-mum posting about enjoying life without kids, mums who found it hilarious and recalling their own days as non-mums, and mums and non-mums who were upset on behalf of non-mums because it’s insensitive to those who would love to be mums.

Bloody hell, it’s exhausting isn’t it? When did it become such a minefield, to talk about your life and to share your experiences, ideas and thoughts? What happened to being kind, sensitive and supportive of other women and supporting each other’s lifestyles and opinions? They say you should write about what you know. I write about motherhood in its various guises, because otherwise I’d find myself wandering about and talking to myself, as I continued a constant conversation aloud about lack of sleep or toddler tantrums or potty training, and I assume other mum bloggers do the same. I guess the difference between blogging and this challenge is it’s a choice as to whether or not you read the posts. What’s also divisive about the challenge is it’s not your choice to be nominated; then there’s the question of to take part or not?

BamnbinocinoSpeaking of minefields, when it comes to writing about motherhood, it’s quite hard to put stuff out there, in the hope people may identify with it, empathise, maybe laugh and hopefully enjoy it. Thinking constantly about how it may upset one person but make another laugh, and how you may be judged is exhausting too. It gives me the horrors to think I may seem smug, or worse, as one commenter put it, smug and self-congratulatory. To that person I would say please choose never to read my blog, if that’s what you think this is all about.

When it comes down to it, we’re all adults, doing the best we can, and it shouldn’t be a competition, should it? Alternatively, you could just say sod it to the whole thing and not give a toss what anyone thinks, but I reckon that’s easier said than done. At least for this mum.

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

It started with that little coat hook.

PegThat first little coat hook at your first nursery. It wasn’t even your first day there. It was a pre-visit. They had to bring me hot sweet tea. They were so kind to me, this weeping mess of a mum who had been derailed by a little coat hook, with your nametag on it.

The worst bit was always the drop-off, when you screamed, though I knew you were fine five minutes later. After about the third morning, they advised me to just wait a few moments and watch you calm down. It didn’t stop me crying as I walked to work though, not for that first week anyway.

I thought it would get easier.
In a way, it did, and it didn’t.
When you started your new nursery after we moved, I was so relieved I no longer had to commute into central London and back with you in a sling; I forgot to be the sobbing mum on the doorstep. I possibly cried on the walk to the station though. I’ve got previous.

Then it was time for you to move from Baby Room into Toddler Room last January. There is a corridor between the rooms. You can see across from one room into the other. It’s not even a whole skip across a hallway, that’s how close they are.

Yet on that morning, I surprised myself and alarmed one of the lovely staff by bursting into tears as I handed you over, and hung your coat and bag on your new little hook. I didn’t even know I was upset about this next stage until it was happening. I bumbled my way out of there, apologising and yes, crying on the way home, with H on the phone reassuring me it was all okay. More hot sweet tea helped.

And as for this January? The tears started back in November, when we received the letter about your visits to the nursery’s pre-school room. ‘OH COME ON!’ I thought to myself, as the tears rolled down my cheeks. ‘Really? Still crying?’ I can’t help it. Although the additional news that the costs would be lowering was delightful, it seems that each big new stage reduces me to tears. Apart from the potty training that is – once that had proved a success, there were only tears of JOY.

I steeled myself for yesterday’s drop-off as pre-school began. I wore no mascara. I only blubbed twice as we got ready. On the walk there, we sang ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ and ‘Jingle Bells’ and I took some deep breaths.

Oh but they couldn’t have made it any easier for us. There were your lovely key carers, waiting, and all smiles as I took the obligatory doorstep snaps. There were your friends waiting for you in the Toddler Room, just like before. I had to take your coat and bag upstairs and hang them on your new little hook, but this time I didn’t lose it. It’s only taken two years, at last!

I came downstairs to see you playing and laughing with your friends and MoreGuin, you didn’t even notice as I left – just how it should be. And I remained calm on the way home. In fact, I saved the tears for earlier today, when researching your schools admission process made me cry and reinforced my belief I’ll need some sedatives for September 2017. Until then, denial, denial, denial. Sometimes when it all gets too emotional, denial is key. For all the other times, there’s tea. And wine. Obviously.