I know I’ve been home for a couple of weeks but i thought I’d share this:
Things I’ve learned on holiday:
Cultural stereotypes are funny only because they’re true.
German little boys win the cool style stakes.
Scandinavian little boys are very kind & polite.
When you’re the only single mum by herself with a young child people watch you during meal times. Which is a bit weird.
Mean girls always have that look in their eyes – regardless of age or race.
Maisie would rather play with, or generally be around, boys or babies.
German boys really like Maisie
I really want another baby.
I love everything about my life but my body and I’m scared that if I fix that something terrible would have to happen.
I checked my bank balance & was amazed how good it is – I like being able to buy treats on holiday.
Couples actually love fighting. They must do because even in a place as beautiful as this they keep doing it.
Pantsuits don’t look good on ANYONE over the age of 9.
Maisie’s new favourite game is called “Baby Brother”. Usually this involves me being Queen Mummy.
Maisie says she wants a baby brother with 2 eyes, 2 ears, 1 nose & a really good smile.
I really, really want another baby.
Sunshine cures all ills.
Maisie really is quite funny.
Ok internets I need your support/advice.
Ex_Husbando has a girlfriend. I’m totally ok with this. I was dating too (in fact I dated first), we live 5000 miles apart & he wasn’t happy when we were together. All fine reasons to be dating. I get it and I’m ok with it.
This morning I called him to see how he did on an important exam, and because Maisie wanted to tell him about her dream last night, and he mentioned that he hit one of the kids outlet stores to pick up some stuff for Maisie – and GF bought her a couple of things too.
As soon as he said that I felt sick. I’ve been on the verge of tears since. My initial thought was “why the hell did she do that?” I mean she’s never met Maisie so why is she buying her clothes? And then I thought I was being ungrateful. And then I thought “well she’s clearly doing it to ingratiate herself with Ex_Husbando, to show how wonderful she can be towards a kid *she doesn’t even know*, to appear motherly and shit.”
I don’t know what bothers me more – that she bought the clothes, that things are serious enough that she feels she can or that it bothers me so much.
One of my new twitter friends, Cisco, tweeted about failing to finish a ‘Yummy Mummy’ meme and had therefore created her own version - the Scummy Mummy meme and I had the honour of being tagged (I told her I’d happily join her club!) So, for the first time in a loooooooong time, I’m back playing with the internets.
Here are 5 things that make me a Scummy Mummy:
1. I once wore my slippers down Tottenham Court Road. In rush hour. Without shame. They were comfortable, I was tired. End of story.
2. I have some sort of nail polish chipping super power. I can chip even the “shellac” style nail polish in less than 12 hours. I know, you’re jealous, but get your own super power okay?
3. My daughter thinks that vegetables are brown and slimy. This is because I tend to forget they’re in the fridge at all and so by the time I take them out they are indeed brown & slimy. I’ve refused to plant a garden this year because I’m not ready for her to know the truth.
4. The aforementioned dead rat disposal.
5. Because, although I, as pointed out by a friend, “scrub up good” and have stopped people I know in their tracks when I’m done up, I don’t feel any less of a person when I’m barefaced (ok with mascara raccoon eyes), hair pulled back, brows’ untamed, armpits sprouting, covered in sick – in fact, sometimes I feel like so much more.
I guess I’m just yummy on the inside!
I didn’t know how I’d feel about today. Maisie has a father and he loves her very, very much. He’s supportive of me, encouraging of her and aside from not actually being here in the flesh he is very much her father.
But I often do the physical things in the flesh. There is no separation of gender roles in my house. I would hope that had we stayed together Husbando and I would have had limited stereotypical gender divides in our relationship but now there’s no question of that. I own a drill now. I have my own tool box. Several weeks ago I had to pick up a dead, decaying rat from our back garden and dispose of it. (Just the thought of it still makes me queasy.) Those are all things I wouldn’t have done (wouldn’t have bothered to do?) if I had a man around.
So today I celebrate my own father – who’s love is obvious in all the newspaper clippings he saved me (and links he now sends me), in all the conversations, unspoken, as we pass book recommendations backwards and forwards, all the sudden itunes gift songs that show up in my inbox.
I celebrate my daughter’s father – who stands behind her mother, who loses out on time with her, who loves her wildly and will always play “it’s raining” with her – even on skype.
But I also celebrate all those women who, without wanting to be “the father”, parent ferociously, unendingly, uncomfortably and unconsciously enough for two.
Happy Father’s Day.
I am ridiculously excited to be writing to you from my first proper holiday in more than FIVE years. And it’s a good’un too. This is our breakfast view:
Shortly after I wrote the last post about money and struggles I got a call from a dear friend asking if I minded if she passed my name on to a company who needed a producer for a short term project. That was a Wednesday & I had my first meeting with them on the Friday & started on the Monday – my life hasn’t been the same ever since.
After more than two postpartum depression riddled years at home with Maisie (how is it that long?) I was adamant that I didn’t want to / couldn’t handle going back to work full time but here I am.
This job is a monster – the last time I worked on a project of its size/complexity/rediculousness was seven years ago and I was (a) younger, (b) childless and (c) it made me want to give up media. This time round I seem to have found some sort strength I thought fell out with my placenta & I’ve managed to get through (relatively) unscathed. In fact, if I’m being 100% honest, I’ve actually enjoyed it.
I don’t want to give you the wrong impression – it’s been hard, HELLA HARD. I’ve had days when I’ve been a shit mother, shit friend & shit employee, often all at the same time. I’ve had to sleep on the sofa in the office – WITH MAISIE – three times in as many weeks because the realities of deadlines and single parenthood collided head on. I no longer have any idea of what Maisie eats or how she’s enjoying her new Gymboree class or, heartbreakingly too often, if she had the same story AGAIN before bedtime. I’ve traded that info for knowing what my editor wants for lunch or who wants a cappuccino and who wants a double espresso. But I’ve also gained something – a sense of accomplishment, a sense of balance and a sense of self.
In a strange twist of fate I think motherhood has made me a better employee. I can get more done in a short period of time, I’m already familiar with sleep exhaustion, I take care of the people around me (its amazing how far a coffee run or making sure people have water and fruit and biscuits can go) but I’m not a slave to perfection. I have, many moons ago, given up on “perfect” and because of that I think my expectations are more realistic, my mood more even and, in the end, my achievements more obvious.
The main thing I’ve learned is this:
Motherhood is hard. Being a working mother (in or out of the home) is hard. Being a single mother is hard. Being a working single mother is like being bitchslapped by your best friend every time you see them: bewildering, overwhelming, shocking, depressing, worrying then, eventually, predictable and in a strange way, hilarious.
And for me, its that final hilarity that makes the journey worthwhile – even if it stings to begin with.
Life. It can be complicated can’t it? Simple things can change you in ways you’d never expect.
Growing up my family wasn’t exactly well off; money was always tight and I was always ashamed and embarrassed by our status. I have never, ever been comfortable talking about it – both money & this particular aspect of my childhood. I’m now rediculously middle class but I’ve worked hard to try and escape the shame I felt as a child.
Last month something happened that changed how I feel about the angst and embarrassment I felt about growing up poor.
I came incredibly close to being homeless.
Home. Less. Two incredibly simple words on their own but combined they become a blackhole of fear and anxiety. Even now I feel slightly bemused by it, like I can’t quite understand how a “nice girl” like me could find herself stranded in a bad part of town. It’s strange because there was no one thing that created the situation, no over-riding force of evil behind it all, it was just life happening. Just day to day decisions that turned out differently than I had planned, expected, hoped.
When I arrived in London we stayed with friends whilst hunting for flats. I didn’t struggle to find somewhere nice to live – in fact I saw close to 20 places in 2 weeks – the problem turned out to be that nobody wanted a single mum and her child. “but wait…” I hear you cry “that’s discrimination. It’s illegal to refuse someone a home if they’re black or gay so how can you be refused if you have a child?” Turns out, shamefully, the UK is the only country in western Europe where it’s legal. So, I’m sure you can see why, after being rejected by more than 80% of the places I saw (one fell through because of damp & the others were dives) when I found a gorgeous house, who specifically wanted a family, I jumped at the chance despite it being a bit out of my price range. The original plan was that I would either use the extra room for an au pair when I went back to work (with one of the two jobs that later fell through) or that I would get a housemate. Turns out no one really wants to live with a toddler if they don’t have to and I could only justify the au pair if I was working which I’m not. After several months of paying the full rent without working I had bled my savings dry and it was obvious it was too much for me. Part of the problem is that the housing benefits available to me are NOT inline with real world London prices (despite what David Cameron seems to think!) so in almost all circumstances I would have had to top up my rent with what little money I don’t have, making it harder to do the little things. Like eat.
Just as I wrapped my head round the idea of having to move to a small, potentially dreary council flat I stumbled upon a thread on a popular mum’s site which essentially was single mums looking for housing shares. Within a week I had spoken to a single mum about moving into my place and we set up a meeting for the following Saturday. She never showed up. Devastated I prepared myself for the only available option – eviction and council tenancy.
Fate intervened that night with a message from another mum, R. She came over for lunch the next day, and a few days later I saw her house and two weeks after that Maisie and I moved in with her and her eight month old son.
We’ve done really well considering we’ve had to shoehorn all my earthly belongings into an already full house but we’ve done it – although there’s still some streamlining to be done – we’ve created a home for two sweet children and their mummy’s. The different to my life is quite dramatic – we share childcare so I can go out without it costing me an arm and a leg, I don’t feel as isolated because there’s someone to talk to at the end of the day, Maisie loves having a faux brother and most importantly I won’t be living beyond my means.
But even positive change isn’t easy – the other week I had to turn each and every one of my handbags inside out in order to scrounge together £0.60 to buy a pint of milk for Maisie. It doesn’t get much worse than worrying that you can’t provide something as simple as milk for your child.
But here’s the thing – that sense of shame has dissipated. Maybe it’s the fact that you can’t get blood from a stone or that I had someone else so important to me I couldn’t do anything but prioritize them but I stopped seeing the money, & my current financial state, as a representation of who I truly am. I am a good mother, daughter, sister, friend, housemate regardless of whether my bank balance is in credit or debit. These are difficult times we’re currently living in and I think that so many of the situations we’re facing today could be altered if we calculated wealth not by our bank balances but by our hearts.
It has been a very weird, and difficult couple of months in my life. There have been LOADS of changes afoot and I’ll be sharing them with you as I eek out some time to write. There is one thing that I can share now, and I am so incredibly excited to do so: I have returned to my theatrical roots and, together with my very dear friend Sally Samad, we are writing a musical about motherhood called The Good Enough Mums Club!
The Good Enough Mums Club is a poignant and hilarious musical toddle through the highs, lows and sleep deprivation of mummyhood. From peeing on sticks to drooping tits we share the love and dispel the myths with enough wipes on hand to mop the tears and clean away the snotty laughter. All are welcome to join the club – membership is free but it lasts a lifetime!
Fancy joining us for this crazy ride? Please follow us on twitter, facebook and of course on our site. Plus if you have any stories, thoughts or ideas you think we should be including in the show then we’d love to hear from you!
Huge thanks in advance for the support!