“A dog licked my baby’s mouth” and other horrible stories

Yesterday I met up with a friend who is basically Mary Poppins mixed with Supernanny. And she reminded me what a lazy, crap mum I am.

“The jelly looked fun!” She said hopefully, referring to the photo I sent her after the last time we met. I’d felt so guilty that I hadn’t done a single thing on her list of “fun activities to do with kids” that I immediately picked the least messy sounding one and did it the next day.
Except that it was messy. So very messy and…just so messy. I’d selected sugar free jelly in the hope that it would be less sticky but alas it was as sticky as a MOFO and went All. Over. Everything.

Later that evening as I scraped jelly out of the crevasses of the high chair, off the walls and from under the fridge (how the hell?!) I thought “maybe I’ll try the baking idea tomorrow…or actually maybe I’ll do the painting instead…”. I didn’t do either and I’m still finding that damn jelly places. I had to get the mop out. I dislike housework.

Instead, the next day we drew on the fridge in whiteboard markers for, like, ten seconds. And that’s when I realised it, she’s 1 year old – she doesn’t give a sh*t about drawing on the fridge. And she didn’t particularly like the jelly. I put it down in front of her and she touched it tentatively with one finger and then sat back and looked at me like “er Mum are you sure about this? You’re usually pretty up tight about me throwing sh*t all over the place”. I just smiled and said “dig in” but she knew, and I knew. This was going to be no fun really. It’s like when your husband says “no, no honestly it’s fine, we can watch Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous” and you know that he’d prefer to be watching something with a lot more killing and a lot less cabaret, so you spend the whole film thinking “I bet he’s hating this” instead of chuckling at the whimsical banter and marvelling at Sandra Bullock’s amazing bone structure.

Yesterday my Mary Poppins friend asked if I’d been to any music classes yet. I said “no but I’ve got a list of them off a new friend I made!” (I’d ticked “make a new friend” off my list that week and it was so big that I hadn’t bothered doing any more tasks after that). Then she asked if I’d been to the library for stories yet. I said “er, no”. “But it’s at the end of your road!”.

“Ok, have you been swimming?”. I hung my head. “No”. I was ashamed.

On the way home I bumped into my fourth local friend and we had a 5 minute chat and arranged a coffee date. That’s when I realised the reason I haven’t been to any activities alone yet. I’m a follower. I’m a total follower. I do things people suggest but I rarely suggest anything myself. This is why I’ve been more concerned with making new friends in my new town – so they can suggest things to do and I can agree to do them. That is how it must be.

Later that evening whilst I was putting on a puppet show with a zebra and a lion (the zebra explaining to the lion why he shouldn’t be eaten) amid peels of laughter from the baby, I decided 2 things. 1 If neither of us enjoys messy play, then there’s no need to force ourselves into it just because other mums are doing it. We’re more into physical play. We run after each other, play hide and seek, catch, fetch and go out walking. We splash in the bath until 50% of the water is on the floor. This is fine, in fact it’s my favourite part of the day. We like water. Water isn’t sticky.
We dance in front of the mirror to my “running” (LOL!!) playlist, she loves nothing more than admiring her little reflection bopping away, complete with range of hilarious facial expressions. We have the same taste in music, she crawls over to the iPod dock and flicks past the rubbish ones herself. We play “feed the scary monster” at the baby gate every day (rice cakes, me crawling up the stairs to the gate, her laughing hysterically and feeding me pieces of soggy rice cake).

The second thing I decided was that I’m the same type of mum as I am type of person and I think my daughter likes our little bubble the way it is. Let me explain. I don’t have birthday parties and I hate being the hostess. That’s why I don’t suggest things and why I married the world’s most popular, and sociable man and the funnest person I know – so he can deal with that stuff for both of us.
I have 4 friends-with-kids here after 3 and a half months. If I make a new friend every month then I’ll go to plenty of things (but only if they suggest it, there’s no use pretending). In between dates we’ll be happy with our own mirror dancing, monster feeding, chasing each other round the dining table brand of fun.

And a final thing. Because we are like two little peas in our own pod, when deciding if my daughter would like to do something in future, I’m just going to think “would I like to do it?”. An example from today is that a lady asked if my daughter would like to stroke her small, reasonably cute dog. “He’s very good with kids, he never bites” she said. So I lead my daughter over, she looks at me like “mum? What the hell?” And just stares from me to the dog and back in disgust. Then in one quick motion the thing jumps up, puts its paws on her shoulders and LICKS HER ON THE MOUTH. My daughter and I both stumble back in utter revulsion, me saying “eeeeeewwwwww def con 3! pass the baby wipes” at the same time the dog owner says “aaaawwwwww he’s giving you a kiss!”.
I looked at my daughter for the final verdict. She started crying. Agreed. I thought lets go home and hand sanitiser your face.

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To swear or not to swear, that is the question

OK, I know what the right answer is – not to swear in front of your kids – but is it really? Am I a bad mother if I swear in front of them a little?
Mums I know have really strong opposing views on this topic. I know some mums who swear wild and free, their reason being that it’s who they are and it’s how they choose to express joy or rage or excitement and they teach their kids when it is (at home) and isn’t (at school/grandma’s/aunt Suzanne’s house) OK to say “the S word”.
Then there are the mums who mouth the word “crap” instead if saying it aloud (is crap even considered swearing anymore?), would never dream of uttering “the F word” and would be mortified if their child spilled their drink at dinner and said “oh bugger”. Their reasons are that they want their children to grow up with good manners and there are a myriad of alternate ways to express yourself than having to resort to swears.
Look, I see both points of view and I agree in part with both, but what am I personally going to do? I haven’t decided yet. The reason is that I grew up in a house where swearing was forbidden. We couldn’t even say “pooh head”. I called my mum a “silly billy” once and got sent to my room! Equally we were given detention for swearing in school; I once got 1000 lines of “look like a lady, speak like a lady” (oh so many things wrong with that line but we can discuss the misogyny of the British education system in the 1990s at a later date!) but my point is that I swear now. Yes I know it’s not “ladylike” but that’s kind of my point. Why should I not swear (but a man can)? If I drop a glass on the kitchen floor, in the heat of the moment will I really say “oh bother” or maybe “shhhhhhhhhugar”? Or will I say “oh shit!” like I did yesterday. I know when it’s OK to swear, I’d never do it in front of someone I knew hated it as I wouldn’t want to offend anyone, nor do I swear for no real reason (much).
I guess my conclusion is that I want to teach my kids about swearing the way I want to teach them about sex and drugs and alcohol – I want them to hear the real honest truth, from me, someone they trust and who has their best interests at heart. I don’t want to educate them in the way I was educated about those things I.e. “NEVER DO IT. End of discussion”. Because no one would talk to me about “forbidden things” I simply went out and learned about that stuff all by myself. I definitely want Serena to learn from me and for us to be able to have an honest enough relationship for her to be able to say anything to me.
Maybe even shit!

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