Archives for February 2012

Three things I love about you.

Dear Little Monster Blue, ask

Three today, remedy my darling boy.

You loved every minute of it.

I could list a million things I love about you, but how about three since it’s the number of the day?

1) I love how you clamber under the duvet with me every morning, breathe your stinky morning breath in my face and say ‘Mummy, you’re the best.’  I will never tire of that – even at 5.36am.

2) I love your little English accent that you have. So different to our broad Scots, and so unexpected.  Where did that come from? Why do you sound so polite and a teeny bit posh, when we have that ‘halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh’ kind of twang to our accents?  (I know, I know, probably too much Peppa Pig at that key speech developmental stage.)

3) I love your newly practiced smile. The one that looks slightly more like a grimace than a smile. The one that doesn’t quite come naturally and so you have to hold it in place with your hands.  It doesn’t matter if your mouth isn’t properly smiling my gorgeous boy, your eyes always are.

Happy Birthday,

Love Mummy xxx

A Mothers Work

I stumbled across this lovely lady and her blog this week, cialis and in the two days I’ve been reading her posts, medical she’s done a bit of an ‘Opal Fruits became Starburst, Jif became Cif, Marathon became Snickers’ type thing and changed her name. So as tagged by Pret-a-Mummy (formerly known as Bargain Mummy Buys)  this is my addition to A Mother’s Work Meme.

 

  • Rules:

Please post the rules
Answer the questions in as much or as little detail as suits you
Leave a comment on mother.wife.me so we can keep track of the meme
Tag 3 people and link to them on your blog
Let them know you tagged them
Tweet loudly about taking part (well ok, that isn’t a rule, but how about if we start a
hashtag – #amothersworkmeme)

Questions:

1. Did you work before becoming a mum?
2. What is your current situation?
3. Freestyle – got your own point you’d like to get across on this issue? Here’s
your chance…

 

  • Did you work before becoming a mum?

I’ve worked since I was a sixteen, first as the Saturday girl in a stinky shoe shop, then a fuller weekend gig bagging up buns in a bakery. Then, when I went to University I had two part time jobs in a Golf and Country Club, then latterly in an Estate Agents, which I adored, neither felt like work, both felt like I was a little girl playing grown ups. These jobs saw me through University before I then took on a graduate role in the Financial Services industry. I’ve changed companies twice since then but have worked full time from the age of 21 until I had my first child at 27. I went back to work part time and set up a small business and then eventually took on another full time role before having nipper number two.   I returned to work after the little monster came along working four days a week, and packing quality family time into all other available waking hours. With a boy who prefers our bed to his, there were plenty of waking hours to fill!

 

  • What is your current situation?

I work flexibly, having just reduced my hours to 22 hours a week to allow me to drop off and collect my daughter from school four days in the week. My job is challenging, relatively demanding, requires me to dress sharp and have polished shoes,  and I really love it. I’ve only just discovered I’m really quite good at it too which is a bonus.  Career is important to me, and I’m hugely fortunate to be able to work part time and still be on a career path. I would say though this is by design and not default as I’ve previously written. And it’s been bloody hard work!

 

  • Freestylin’

I read recently that part time work restricts women’s
opportunities to progress in the workplace. I know I am incredibly fortunate to work part time and work hours that suit me and my family. I feel truly valued by my employer, and I’m properly engaged as a result. There is no doubt in my mind that building a flexible work force is a sound commercial decision.  The traditional 9-5 working pattern is significantly out of sync with consumerism and global working. Businesses who leverage a flexible workforce have a competitive advantage in my view. Notwithstanding the commercial benefits, (round the clock working, meeting customer demand when its needed) the increased commitment, engagement and productivity from those supported to work flexibly makes for better business sense all round. Whilst flexible working opportunities may be most requested by parents, particularly mothers, opportunities to work around ones family life, or indeed other pursuits should not be the sole domain of women. Over the years I’ve heard a variety of reasons given, yes, mainly to women, as to why flexible working can’t be supported, and unfortunately many of those reasons fail to include a robust business rationale. I do believe it’s the responsibility of the employee – female, mother or otherwise- to demonstrate how they can make flexible working work for the organisation, not for the employer to show how it can’t work. I appreciate this approach can’t apply in all industries and jobs, but where it could, I think employers should dip their toe in the water and suspect they’d be pleasantly surprised with the results.

The long and short is, I’ve found that part time working didn’t signal the end of my career. I’m hopeful I’m not in a minority and there are lots of other women who have been able to make this work.

Has part time working stunted your career or have you been able to balance the career ladder with the school run? And more perhaps more interestingly and  importantly, what do you sacrifice to do this?

And so, to the tagging …. Scribbling Mum , LovelyLeosmum and AMummytoo – do you ladies have any thoughts on the matter? I hope so – you’re tagged!

Do Something Yummy

This is the final week of writing prompts for the Do Something Yummy campaign supported and championed by Nickie and many other wonderful bloggers who have posted over the last 4 weeks to raise awareness of the CLIC Sargent Yummy Mummy Week 10 – 18 March. This weeks prompt is Survival.  All of the posts already linked up make for emotional reading, malady and not feeling qualified to add to such quality writing, I’ve opted to show my support for the campaign by posting nothing more than this drawing.

 

This is a five year olds perception of survival. The little fella you see in the picture is stranded on a desert island with just a solitary palm tree.  She’s helpfully highlighted the coconuts on the tree on the basis that simply – he needs food to survive.  As an addition, she tells me, the X you see on the sand is where a treasure box filled with food can be found.

The innocence in her interpretation is not lost on me, and I find it incredibily moving.

Please take time to visit the Yummy Mummy Week site and request your pack for a fundraising event.

You can read my other contributions to Do Something Yummy here: –

Week 1 – What my children mean to me

Week 2 – Family

Week 3 – All About Mum

Pants, Pancakes and Parenting.

Little Princess Pink requested homemade pancakes for breakfast this morning. A perfectly accpetable request on Shrove Tuesday, doctor and of course, treatment when that starts falling on a Saturday or a Sunday I will happily oblige. This morning however, good old shop bought Kingsmill had to do.  They needed to be used by today anyway. On the first day back at school after half term, on a morning where I’ve spent the best part of 45 minutes chasing Little Monster Blue round the entire upstairs  trying to get him to put on pants, homemade pancakes will have to wait.

As a working parent, I’m honest about my (many) parenting flaws – I take a lot of shortcuts.  Shop bought pancakes for breakfast, well, I reconcile easily with that one. My own efforts always turn out less than desireable, and a little more ‘chargrilled’ than perhaps they should be, and frankly I have little time in the mornings to do anything further than peel a banana , open a cereal bar wrapper or dispense slices of toast on route to the car.

Potty training, however, thats a different story.

Little Monster Blue is approaching his thrid birthday and his move to the pre-school within nursery is drawing ever closer, ergo he needs to be toilet trained.  Or so someone said.  Yes, yes, I hear that boys are more diffcult that girls to toilet train, and other than a few messy incidents whilst in the care of Super Daddy I’m happy to say, Little Princess Pink was a breeze when it came to all things toilet related.  Little Monster Blue not so much.  This is our second attempt in a number of months, and on this occassion, I am happily passing the baton to the nursery team who are more than willing  to take on The Great Splash Adventurer.  Yesterday we received just two wet packages home.  Not bad going on the face of it, but I’m not convinced it was a day of successes given those were his only two wees and he saved his last for the moment I plopped him in the bath. At least he was happy enough to wear the pants. Today, well, see above, we’ve already had a challenge in trying to cajole him into a pair.  I thought pointing out my stripey ones with the little red bow would be encouraging. Apparently not.

So I admit, after an unsuccessful go at potty training last time round, I’m conceding defeat easily and taking the parenting shortcut of having someone else give it a go for me. Same on the pancakes this morning.

I’ll stick to what I know I can do best today.Properly dispensed cuddles and kisses at the school gates and nursery door, and a mammoth washing cycle this evening no doubt.

 

All About Mum

Week 3 of Nickie’s do something yummy writing prompts to raise awareness for CLIC Sargent got me excited this week.

Having opted for an emotional post last week, clinic and an introspective one the week before, this week I decided to keep it light hearted and opt for the third prompt posed by Nickie over on her blog – a creative one.

I promised myself at the outset of 2012 that I would do something that scares me this year. I’ve decided one such thing which falls into this category is vlogging. For the uninitiated vlogging, is video-blogging, hence vlogging.

Think Bennifer and chillaxing, but hopefully less annoying.

I have copped out just a little with my first attempt at vlogging, as Little Princess Pink takes the staring role on this occasion answering twenty questions all about mum (thats me!)
Here’s our attempt on the all new Working Super Mum You Tube channel

 

Enjoy!

Warning : Mug Porn

Joining in with Kate’s self confessed weird listography this week, cure here are my top five favourite mugs. Yes, you read correctly people, mugs.

Though I do have to admit, as a proper Tea Jenny, I do have a bit of a mug fetish, and more than happy to proudly display my wares on this one.

1. A Christmas present from my Mum and Dad. Two like this and two with red snowflakes on a cream background. I’ve blogged about these mugs before such is my love for them. A proper English breakfast tea at any time of the day goes down a treat in one of these.

2. A Jamie Oliver ‘cosy’ mug. These were on our wedding list and thus have special memories. It held on tightly to the number one spot for a whole 7 years and 8 months before being pipped by the red and cream hearts one. Pukka cuppa indeed.

 

3. This delight came as a gift from my best friend (my bate) with another three sweetly adorned mugs in the same design. Four of us girlies have a matching set and it confuses the bejesus out of me when I travel hundreds of miles to London to visit them, only to have coffee in the same mugs as we have at home.

 

4. Spotty Lilac. Also comes in spotty green, spotty blue and alas no more, spotty pink. Very girlie and perfect for hungover cups of coffee after a (very rare) night out.

 

5. Finally, a mug that we got made up for Super Daddy with his very own company logo on it when he became business man extraordinaire. It came filled with chocolate lime boiled sweets to top it off.

 

Fabulous listography this week, so many mugs that never made the cut…

Where does it hurt?

This blog post is part of CLIC Sargent Do Something Yummy awareness campaign.  Over on Nickie’s blog this week, sovaldi sale Nickie has posed writing prompts relating to family.

Inspired by the prompts ‘What kind of family did you grow up in? Why is family important to you?’ and a little of ‘A perfect family moment.’ I’ve written the below account of growing up in a family where mental illness had a steady hold.

Depression. Manic Depression. Bi-Polar Disorder. Anxiety. Paranoia. Not words that colour your average teenagers vocabulary (though as naive as I am, shop I do suspect the teenage sufferer stats are higher than I’d imagine.) But as a teenager, concerned only with new clothes, underage clubbing and snogging the face off my boyfriend at the bus stop, it’s fair to say I had little time for my mother’s ill health. And for that, I feel regret.

The glaring absence of a large plaster cast that screamed ‘Look, I’m broken and hurt’ didn’t help with the understanding that my mum was suffering from a horrible and extremely debilitating illness which had taken over her whole life. It was her life.

It wasn’t uncommon at all for my mum to be in bed all day. Hidden away from the world, the fug of the horrible darkness she now describes enveloping her and smothering her whilst the world carried on as normal on the other side of the door.

My coping strategy was to make like an ostrich and bury my head firmly in the sand. If I didn’t think about it, or dwell on it, then it wasn’t really happening. Depression wasn’t ruling her life – our lives. For the most part, this strategy worked, mum didn’t have any outward emotion other than indifference and on occasion what seemed to me to be extreme sadness, and she certainly didn’t pick me up for not caring. At other times, an intense madness, a rage would bubble up inside me and spill over into a tirade of fury which led to me screaming and questioning her as she cowered in the corner looking like a lost little girl. I couldn’t understand what she had to be sad about when the world around us, that we were untouched by, was cruel and horrid. Famine, war, poverty, death, abuse, violence. I couldn’t understand what she was frightened of, what rendered her unable to face not the world, but her friends and family who loved her dearly. I couldn’t understand what she was unable to cope with.

What I did know for sure was I hated this wretched illness and what it did to her, to us as a family. It shaped how I feel now as an adult with my own children. I now know and fully understand that mental ill health is every bit as challenging than physical ill health, and I know the impact it can have on families. My mum lost friends, people who struggled to understand that she wasn’t choosing to suffer from this damning illness, despite it overtaking everything good in her life. Perhaps they felt they’d simply tried too often to get their friend back, the one with the spark, the wicked sense of humour and the most caring, giving and gentle side. Perhaps, like me, they didn’t know how to support, how to be with her and how to feel themselves. I was moved recently by a friend who wrote about their own experiences with mental ill health but it brought to the surface all those emotions I tried so hard to bury deeply 15 years ago.

Back then I vowed never to allow such a ravaging illness to take over my life. There goes my naivety all over again. I may not have a choice. There is no blueprint for who is susceptible. But today I surround myself with positivity and I choose a thankful and grateful attitude every single day. I’ve said before, our family motto is ‘we can do anything we try.’ Simply because it’s the polar opposite of ‘I can’t.’

After a seriously long spell of illness which didn’t dissipate as previous episodes had, some extremely dark and bleak moments within that time which thankfully had positive outcomes, and a risky and unpleasant treatment, we now have Mum back. My Dad has been there with her every step of the way, through those bleakest and darkest of times. Rightly or wrongly I’ve put my Dad up on a pedestal for that. It’s bold to say, but I don’t think my husband would stand by me as he did her. To see the pair of them now, enjoying the things in life that previously were simply too frightening to embark upon is wonderful, and I’m talking little things here, meals out, walks along the pier on holidays.

She is adored by her grandchildren, she has fun with them, and they know nothing of the lost days with them when they were tiny and even the miracle and wonder of their arrival couldn’t break through the barrier of despair.

A little part of me is still a tiny bit scratched. But a bigger part of me is joyful; glad that for the last two years at least, the darkness and emptiness has lifted.

Love is …

Today I won a competition ran by this fabulous fellow mummy blogger over on her blog.

The prize? A book, try called ‘The 52 Seductions’ by Betty Herbert.

How perfect is this for Valentines Day?

Super Daddy doesn’t ‘do’ books (quote Best Man #1 in speech on our wedding day about said husband,  ‘Not much of a reader,  would rather wait until a book is made into a film. Reading wise, menus and road signs are about as far as he gets’) so I’m not suggesting the book is for him to read, if you see where I’m going with this (cue quote from Best Man #2 in speech on our wedding day about the parties we throw (no, not those kind) ‘The karaoke machine always comes out, but here’s a tip for you Julie-Ann, next time you try to seduce Simon up to bed for an early night, make sure the microphone is switched off first’.)

Oh and must stress, this type of hilarity was pre-children, remember those days? Anyway, I digress.

I’m thinking my reading of this book and deploying of some of its seduction strategies will be a welcome Valentines gift for husband, and a stark contrast from some of the previous Valentines tat I’ve bestowed on him over the years. Giant cuddly teddy bear wearing black silk boxer shorts covered in red love hearts holding a balloon emblazoned with I Love You anyone?  This was circa 1998 I should add.

Valentines gifts from Super Daddy have improved immensely over the years.  A particular favourite was the year of the mini hot water bottle with its own mini mohair love heart patterned jacket. This was a massive improvement on the previous years of erm, nothing. Unless you count the card. The best years were when his office was based round the corner from a lovely wee shop which sold hand-crafted cards, tastefully designed with humorous but very sweet messages in lovely, gentle typeface, not the SCREAMING OUT THAT I LOVE YOU kind.

Last year was a stand-out year all round, a gorgeous card from said shop, and a very thoughtful and much loved iPod shuffle with all my favourite songs on it.  A modern day mix-tape if you will ala Chandler, Monica and Janice. Wrapped lovingly in tissue and placed sweetly in a dainty red gift bag. Handed over with a freshly brewed cup of tea and a cream cheese bagel and the words ‘I hope you like this, I’m thinking it might be good for when you’re at the gym. It might encourage you to go more.’

Isn’t that love?

So this year, my Valentines gift to him will be all that I learn from Betty.

Isn’t that love?!

Top 5 (workplace) phrases that drive me crazy

When I returned to work after maternity leave, ask brain already a bit frazzled from baby number two, I was gobsmacked at just how many new phrases had found their way into office speak in the year that I had been off. These ones are used on a daily basis in my place and I must fess up, I know I am guilty of using them too. Cringe.

So here’s my top 5 phrases that drive me crazy (in the workplace) Read more on todays’ Listography over at Kate Takes 5.

1. On the same page – As in, lets make sure we both agree and are saying the same thing before we present this / tell someone else about it. On the same page suggests we’re reading a story to one another.

2. Let’s syndicate / socialise that first – As in, lets share our idea or proposal with the people we want to agree to this and get them ‘on board’ before we officially tell everyone its what we want to do. In my first week back, it was suggested I socialise a document with two key people before I sent it to a wider group by email. When I asked the question as to how to socialise a document (still claiming baby brain for the first week or so) I was told to email it to them!

3. Touch Base – As in ‘I’ll touch base with Geoff before we go to the meeting to make sure we’re on the same page.’ Frankly I don’t want to touch anyone I work with anywhere thank you.

4. Take it off line – As in, we’ll discuss this out with this meeting. Let’s just say that then.

5. Circle the Horses – I really don’t know what this means. I think its the opposite of ‘going round the houses.’ I think it means being sensible and checking in with the appropriate people first, ensuring you’ve thought of everything and considered all options before settling on a final solution. I hope thats what it means because I used it this week and received lots of approving nods – jeez – I might have committed to doing something completely different and be totally unawares.

Cringe indeed.

The definition of me.

Growing up I didn’t aspire to become anything particularly worthy of comment. I haven’t harboured a dream of becoming a stylist to the stars, sickness a fighter pilot or a great world explorer, best viagra apart from a short dalliance with the idea of becoming a pop star I’ve only ever wanted simple things in life. For me, those simple things were a husband who loved me for who I am, a house we could make a home and of course children.

At the very young age of 14, I met my now husband and in the silly haze of being teenagers in love we planned our future together, never was there any doubt that it wouldn’t feature children.  Our simple life followed a very simple path, we bought a house, we married and precisely 2 years and 3 months later our gorgeous daughter made her (9 day overdue) appearance.  Life has changed immeasurably since her arrival.

I could cite the biggest changes as being the sleepless nights, the puffy dark circles under my eyes that I have now accepted as being part of me forever, the tantrums, the triumphs, the stretch marks, the stagnation of the social life, and the significant dent in disposable income but these feel like par for the course, they come with the territory of being a parent and were always going to be a fait accompli.

What I didn’t, and couldn’t, understand until my little bundles of joy were placed in my arms for the very first time (we’ve subsequently had another, a sturdy little fella with a stubborn streak and a mischievous mind) was how something would shift significantly within me by bringing another being into this world. Everything became magnified. Everything was amplified. Colours popped. Sounds reverberated. Emotions exploded (and still do regularly.) Not only do I now view this world through a different lens, but I apply a different level of thinking in everything I do. The significance of once minor decisions weighs heavy on my mind at times, the idea that these little people will be here in this world when I’m not drives me only to do right by them. I want to teach them everything at once, yet rush nothing, equip them properly with the skills and tools they’ll need, yet let them learn their own ways. I want to enhance the very best parts of their characters and help and guide them to be the best that they can.

But for all that, I’m in awe of how I have become defined by them. Whilst I try to shape their lives by design, they shape mine by default.  My ability to walk into a room full of strangers with my confident head on,  that comes from my brave and bold five year old who shows me how it’s done when joining a new class or group. My ability to laugh at myself when I fall on my backside, that comes from my nearly three year old who I’m convinced sees life as an (age appropriate) Benny Hill sketch.

My confidence in the workplace? If I successfully feed, clothe, entertain, grow and develop two small children on four and a half hours sleep a night, I can manage a project to upskill 1000 people in 2 days on a process that hasn’t even been devised yet. Being an all round (annoyingly) positive person about everything I do? If I can make a healthy and nutritious meal for the family from two apricots, a pack of brown rice, a frozen pork fillet and an apple like some low budget ready steady cook challenge, I can do anything. And that’s our family motto, “We can do anything we try.” I’ve learned this from them, the little wonders who know no boundaries and soak up everything around them like the great big adventure that it really is.

My children not only complete my life, they enhance every waking moment of it. Even that one that consistently falls between the hours of 2am and 3am…!

This post is written in support of CLIC Sargent’s Yummy Mummy Week – www.yummymummy.org.uk. I have chosen to write a personal post ‘Why did I have children? How have they changed my life?’

Visit the website for more information and sign up for a pack to organise your own fundraising event. You can join in with the writing prompts here.

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