Power suits and quadruple espressos…

…move aside. Ambitious women have a new ally: other women. I don’t mean the ones who snipe behind your back or make you feel bad for having the wrong shoes. I mean the ones who’ve become fairly senior and are now making damn sure that there’s not only a ladder for us lot to climb, but they’re pouring concrete and building a solid staircase.

Take my manager (well she’s sort of my manager, sort of not, I can’t get the hang of our ridiculous management structure) she’s currently spearheading a new programme to address the needs of mums returning to work after maternity leave. She sees that we have a million and one things to cope with, and that it’s not easy and that we need support.

You might think “Ah whatever, everyone’s got something to deal with” or “This is positive discrimination gone too far”…maybe even “This is simple proof that there is no place for women in any decent workforce, oh Hilda dear my shirts need starching, and would it kill you to have my dinner ready at 6:15 rather than 6:25???” To be honest many of my colleagues seem slightly bewildered that anything in my life has changed at all. I think they see it a bit like getting a lodger. Ok your junk room has to turn into a bedroom and you give them a shelf in the fridge, but after that they just do their own thing. Oh how wrong they are.

The fact is that apart from cataclysmic (and hopefully rare) events like plagues, war and famine, or huge serious health problems, raising a baby is the only thing that will change your life this drastically. And like all things of this enormity, no one will understand unless they’ve been there themselves. I know it’s cliché to say, but it’s true. And given that truth, women are other women’s greatest ally.

Only another mum would understand when you say that going to the toilet when you like and on your own is exciting. Only they would laugh knowingly when you say you’re sooooo excited to be wearing a normal bra. And only they would know just how hard it is turning your mind one second to a technical analysis and the next to making sure you sing Wind The Bobbin Up just right with all the correct actions.

I’m lucky and excited to have a manager who is pushing to get us working mums the support we need. Now it behoves the rest of us to keep up the momentum and pull each other up as we go.

And, I might add, the same is true for mums who have their kids to look after full time.

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I hope he hates football

It starts the minute they’re born.

Grandad: “I bet he’s a little Villa* fan.”
Daddy: “No, he’s going to support the Canaries like his dad.”
Friend: “If he’s got any taste it’ll be West Brom for him.”
Other friend: “So long as he supports England it doesn’t matter.”
Daddy: “Yeah. And he’s not allowed to support Arsenal.”

And so it goes on.

All the while I’m thinking “God no. He’s just a baby!” You see whenever anyone starts talking about football I think of the marauding yobos, with their bums hanging out of their trousers, a butty in one hand, a tinny of Carling in the other, grunting instead of talking, yelling instead of listening, dragging their shabby unwashed selves through the turnstiles to spend 90 minutes shouting at the top of their lungs before stumbling off too a smelly noise-filled hole to do some more shouting there. Now I know that this image is only true of say 1% of football fans, if that, but since the World Cup started that’s what enters my mind.

image

And now I’m starting to realise why. It’s because I have a little boy. Little boys play football at school, they support a team and they go to the match on a Saturday with their daddy (I’m stereotyping). I can’t bear the thought that all that could lead to him becoming a yobo himself!

This is clearly never going to happen, but then what about all the other bad things? I don’t want him yelling swear words because some overpaid footballer was doing that on the pitch. Or what about someone going in for a two-footed tackle on James because they saw Suarez do it in the match last night. Oh it’s a minefield.

The whole thing has left me positively allergic to football! Don’t get me wrong, I used to enjoy going to matches, supporting England on tv, my heart has raced when it’s gone down to penalties and I’ve even been known to yell at the referee for a poor decision. All that seems to have been overridden however, by a protective instinct for my little boy. Sorry to anyone who will have to listen to me ranting about football. And please, gods of sport, keep him safe from all the yobos and ne’er-do-wells!

*Note – football team allegiances have been altered to protect the anonymity of any persons mentioned.

Sorry for being a *!@?

I think my fellow Gorillamums and I are all realising this at the same time. They may say it more eloquently than I, but my personal conclusion is that I was a bit of a kn*b to other mums before I had my own baby.

I want to say sorry. I want to say sorry for the time I went to my friend’s for dinner and when her hubby said she was upstairs feeding the baby before bed, I went up “to say hi” and started having a chat. The baby was turning round to look, wouldn’t feed, started getting all excited, I mean, it must have taken all her willpower not to throw her breast feeding pillow at me screaming “what sort of an idiot are you? Get out get out get out damn you or he’ll never go down!”.

I want to say sorry to all the mums who offered me their baby and I held it until it started crying and then gave it back straight away without thinking for one second of trying to quiet it myself so she could at least get a chance to shake out her back and get the feeling back in her hands.

I’m sorry for the time I said to my aunty that I’d take my 3 year old cousin out to Coney Island for the day and then being surprised when he poohed his pants as soon as we got home. I mean “I asked him if he needed the toilet and he said no” (when does a 3 year old ever go to the toilet when he has the option to cr*p his pants instead?). I feel that now might be the time to admit that all he had to eat that day was some cotton candy and a spiral lollypop “I asked him if he would eat the sandwich but he didn’t want it”.

I’m sorry to my best mate whose brand new daughter I was too scared to feed. What I should have done was say, like she said to me “I’ll take her for a couple of hours, you go and have a sleep”. Instead I fed her like a total moron, terrified I was choking her, then gave her back to my friend during winding because I was scared her head would fall off “it’s really wobbly”.

I’m sorry for all the birth stories I listened to and said “ew”. Instead of “you are amazing”.

I’m sorry for every time I walked through a door and didn’t even notice the woman behind me with the pram. That goes for stairs, buses and tubes too.

I’m sorry I asked to move seats on the plane that time because there was a baby behind me that had been screaming its head off for 3 hours. I’m sorry I didn’t either offer to take the baby for a walk so the mum could take some deep breaths or at least get that poor woman a large gin and tonic. I could just have offered a smile that said “don’t worry, no one on here minds, you just try and relax, the baby can probably sense that you’re willing it with every fibre of your being to Just. Go. To. Sleep.” but no. I asked the cabin crew to move me and they did and the worst thing ever is, I went to sleep. I went to sleep. That poor woman was at baggage claim five hours later looking like the living dead. I am so ashamed.

I vow from now on to fully and whole heartedly support the “Mum-sterhood” – I’m there with you now, I can take your baby and have it cry and not throw it back at you like it’s made of anthrax, I will try to make it happy again and let you have a rest. I can smile at you sympathetically when your baby is screaming and selfish little upstarts like the 19 year old me are giving you dirty looks. I was on the receiving end of one the other day and you know what? I just smiled to myself and thought, “you might be trying to celebrate the end of your A Levels in this nice pub with your mates, but you know what? It’s the only pub round here which has space for 4 prams, it’s walking distance from my flat, it’s raining and I have lost my pushchair’s rain cover and further more, little pup, in a few years time, you will be sitting over here with your mum friends trying desperately to make your baby stop crying and I will be sitting over there with my two children playing outside nicely and I will smile at you as if to say, “don’t worry, we’ve all been there”.

OR my kids will be running round screaming, having tantrums, throwing food and playing computer games and you will still be giving me dirty looks, but I will still smile at you. Because one day you will be the mother of a 7 year old and….and…oh we could go on forever.

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