Quite simply the most wonderful journey of my life.

So we moved.  I can now justify my title of “Norn Irish Mummy” as I am officially a mother residing in the North of Ireland.  Transporting all our possessions (including two small children) across a body of water was a piece of piss.  Yeh, fecking, right…

  1.  One year olds with chicken pox do not make good travel buddies.

We had our road trip back to Co.Down booked months in advance.  We were to bugger off to a wedding in Warwickshire on the Friday (our first over night jaunt with no offspring), then spend a day hungover arguing over the packing with two small children demanding our attention, to then abandon our home on the Sunday morning at 6am to catch the ferry in Wales mid afternoon.  The plan was flawless.  Until number 2 got chicken pox on the Thursday.  A few fruitless messages later in an attempt to find alternative childcare for the day of the wedding we decided to be absolutely horrendous parents and send our pox- ridden child into nursery regardless of his contagious state simply so we could get pissed and have a sleep in.  Yes, we are those parents.  Get over it.  He was contagious 2 days before the spots appeared…one more day wasn’t going to kill anyone.  However, travelling for 14 hours with a one year old who has chicken pox is enough to kill someone, so much so that we added an extra stop into our journey resulting in us having approximately 1 minute to spare in catching the ferry.  My husband explicitly told me this was my fault for asking him to purchase a croissant for our poorly child at the over priced service station. Our hate for each other was strong as we boarded the ferry to make new lives for ourselves as newly divorced single parents.

2.  If the toddler wants to walk down some stairs just let him.

Hubby and I put the whole “we’re going to miss the ferry because of you” scenario to one side to continue our magical journey upon the Stena Line crossing.  This is essentially a floating restaurant which seems to cover every demographic in the country, except the rich people go into a little glass booth at the front of the ship and the rest of us have to fight over seats and the last portion of fish and chips.  Chickenpox child napped a little, the three year old was entertained with arcade machines and some very poor performance pieces laid on for the lower classes.  We realised that we were on tantrum territory as the ship was docking in Dublin so quite literally needed to abandon ship as quickly as possible.  In order to do this hubby took the lift with the buggy and the three year old and I took the stairs.  Only he was so bloody slow and we risked being crushed by the masses that picking him up and carrying him seemed like the only option.  I should have bloody known better.  Our son had the most catastrophic melt down that people were backing away from us.  I’m sure I heard utterances of pity as the public thought I was dealing with a child with “severe difficulties”.  No, my child just wanted to walk down some stairs and I carried him.  He was going so mental that he had to be held down to be strapped in his car seat.  Meanwhile the rest of the entire ship had disembarked and was queuing behind our vehicle to get off the ferry.  Approximately 10,235 eyes were on us as we pinned our psychotic  child   into the car against his will and tried to manipulate the 49 bags back into our car to be on our merry way.  Holy hell.  Next time he can take the stairs and take the risk of breaking his neck amongst the clientele of steerage.

3. Sleep patterns.

Hubby and I resumed our non-talking “why didn’t you just let him walk down the bloody stairs?” status in the car as this is how we like to travel best.  The three year old fell into a horrendously deep sleep as you would after thrashing your body around for 45 minutes in full public eye and the chickenpox child wined for the full 90 minute drive to Co.Down. So when we arrived at 8pm (bedtime) the 3 year old was as bright as a button (we all know how bloody bright they can be) and didn’t fall asleep until 11pm.  Exactly what you want after a 5:30am start and a journey which seemed to last 9 days.  The 11pm bedtimes haven’t exactly continued, but fucked if we can get our three year old to go to bed anymore.  I genuinely can’t remember how to do it.  I mean he just gets out of his bed, walks downstairs and starts talking to us all.  Hubby had the bright idea of watching Animals of Farthing Wood with him in bed to make him drowsy. Please note, if you haven’t watched this series since the mid 90s I would think twice about viewing it again.  It is simply harrowing.  Baby mice get impaled, pheasants get shot, hedgehogs run over and young rabbits murdered.  I used to quite “fancy” fox in the cartooney kind of way, however he is actually a massive dick whose interpersonal skills are questionable and leadership abilities need to be developed further.  Turns out hubby was a little obsessed with said children’s programme when he was younger and thought he would indulge himself at the three year old’s bedtime, we are now trying our best to curtail this unhelpful nighttime routine as presently hubby and I are binging on the journey of a collection of woodland animals on a nightly basis and have to restrain ourselves not to watch 6 episodes in one sitting.  Bedtime is now a communal affair with all of us wondering which creature is going to die next.  If only it was available on Netflix.

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Fuck Knows

This has become the expression of choice in our household of late. As the tedious monotony of full time employment has consumed my daytimes and exhausted me sufficiently that by 7pm going to bed seems like the only sensible option, “Fuck Knows” seems the most adequate response to most enquiries.

  1. “Where are the 1 year old’s shoes?” … “Fuck Knows”

Our one year old can’t even walk yet and shoes are disappearing at an alarming rate. His “main” shoes are a little pair of leather plimsoles which had an adorable motif of a rocket when first purchased. Since his only mode of movement is crawling, the spacecraft, which once adorned his little feet, have been scraped and scuffed to an unrecognisable existence. And, if we are really honest, they don’t quite fit him any more and getting his chubby wee feet in them every morning was becoming its own little mission. Between getting home from nursery on Friday and departing the house on Saturday morning I am fairly certain the one year old flung said offending items out the window, because f**ked if we can find them. It couldn’t be clearer that this son is the second born in the family as he simply went shoeless all weekend until a parent (hubby) could muster the energy to take both children to our local (and horrendously overpriced) children’s shoe shop to pay £600 for shoes which are suitable for “cruising” but not actual walking. We shall have to get another credit card if we are to suitably shoe both our children.

2. “How is the house sale going?” …. “Fuck knows”

This whole transaction has become a little tedious now and it would appear that hubby and I are spending lunch/nap breaks calling our solicitor (who is being paid a large sum) for her to talk to us in condescending and patronising tones. I have declared that I no longer wish to deal with this “legal professional” who explicitly told me that it is not her job to tell us what to do. That is EXACTLY what I need you to do. I have never sold a house before, your job title implies that you have experience in this area. I am giving you money and therefore want you to give me your expertise and tell me what to do. If our solicitor leaves out this “advising” element, she is simply an administrator, therefore I do not believe she requires the fee which is being demanded. To add insult to injury a new Landlord has popped out of the woodwork demanding £175 to fill out a form. Who are these people? £175 to fill out a form? Are you kidding me? Are you filling the form in with gold ink? Gold ink is not required my friend, a fecking biro will do. Alas it would appear that folk are preying on our vulnerability as people who wish to complete in the selling of our property in the next month. Hubby and I will of course comply to all the demands being made of us just to keep the ball rolling. But the selling of the house has really demonstrated to us the total and utter greed which humans possess when they realise they have the “Upper Hand” which is incredibly disheartening to see. Hopefully when purchasing in Northern Ireland we will buy a piece of land from a Leprechaun and the Pixies can build us an incredible pad. I’m fairly confident that will be a far more positive experience.

3. “>>>>>>Any question about the 3 year old<<<<<<<“…”Fuck Knows:

We have been doing a lot of “to-ing” and “fro-ing” of late in an Odyssey of English farewells. Obviously the children need to attend these trips as the main reason we are leaving England is that we have no child care (poor Nana and Grandpa won’t know what’s hit them!). We are taking them for sleep overs, lunches in town, trips to farms, picnics, pubs and cafes all in an attempt to see our nearest and dearest here on the mainland and ensure that we will have at least a couple of visitors when we move to the Emerald Isle. These trips often have our fabulous friends making genuine enquiries about our toddler to ensure the excursion is a positive experience for all.

“Does he like farms?”

“Will he sleep in a sleeping bag?”

“Do you think he will eat bbq food?”

“Will he sit nicely on a blanket and eat healthy snacks while we chat?”

“Will he sleep through the night if we all get woozy on cocktails?”

Our three year old, who, on the whole, is a wonderfully outgoing, confident and happy boy, has a habit of behaving in the exact opposite fashion when in the presence of those outside of our direct little unit of four and also any time hubby and I want to relax. My response to the above questions is therefore “Fuck Knows…unless we bring the iPad?”.

Everything will be better once we move to NI right?

Being the parent I never wanted to be…

Husband and I are both appalled at our horrendous parenting of the 3 year old. Since the one year old no longer likes to sleep, my husband and I are now experiencing exhaustion on a whole new level. It is impossible to keep a tally of who’s turn it is to rise with the screaming child for the 15th time before 2am and “For F**k’s Sake” is no longer muttered under our breath but simply bellowed for anyone to hear and take pity on us. The three year old has realised that we are weak and is now officially the boss of us. We are powerless to stop the total domination of our toddler on the household and have absolutely control over him. Here is a list of the demands which we have succumbed to with our mini boss:

  1. Asking the 1 year old to be sick.

Yes, I requested that our 1 year old vomit so the three year old would just, for the love of God, stop crying for one bloody minute. I shall set the scene. 5:15am wake up with the one year old, the three year wakes up thinking it’s time for porridge, we manage to convince him to doze a little longer with daddy, at 6:00am I am going insane trying to convince the one year old to sleep with me in the toddler sized bed (he is clearly unimpressed at the fact a fully sized adult it attempting to slumber in an item of furniture which is clearly one quarter the size of her body), and I insist that hubby gets up with the baby so I can get another 30 minutes sleep before work. 6:30am the alarm goes and as the three year old does his poo the one year old has a banana so hubby and I have a vague bit of peace to wash, get dressed and prepare ourselves for 45 minutes of chaos before we leave the house. Poos and bananas are the saving grace of our morning. Both enjoy the said activity and rarely give us any bother. It is an epic 87 seconds of tranquility. Not this morning. No, the three year old wanted to peel the one year old’s banana, once it was already peeled. I told him I would give him another banana, I said I was sorry, I said I would let him peel two bananas, I said I would give him chocolate, I said I would let him watch TV, I said I would always let him peel all the bananas that ever pass our threshold, in the end I said “Do you want me to ask your brother to be sick so you can peel his banana?”. He replied “Yes.” and so I requested that our 1 year old vomit. Fortunately he hasn’t entirely grasped the English language and didn’t fulfil my demand, but I didn’t feel like the best parent in the world making this order of my youngest.

2. Watching the three year old toss a table.

I’m doing my best to teach our eldest a rage of adjectives so he can suitably describe his mood and avoid embarrassing melt downs. I’m continuously querying

“Are you frustrated that we won’t let you run with scissors?”

“Yes, I know it must be annoying that we won’t let you leave the house in your pyjamas…”

“I can sense that you are feeling angry that you can’t pick up that dog poo but I really must insist…”

“I can tell that you must be feeling sad that I’m not preparing your breakfast for you right now, but it is 4:06 am…”

I can tell you it is working a treat. It came out trumps when celebrating his brother’s first birthday. A magical occasion filled with family, prosecco and general merriment at surviving the first year of parenthood. I had prepared a lovely pulled beef dish with tacos, avocado, pickled watermelon, a real feast. I got the little children’s table out for the cousins to all sit side by side and for my sister and I to look on in delight as our respective offspring develop their relationships with one another. Our three year old informed us that he didn’t want to eat, I reeled off my speech about which emotion he was feeling and to just try to eat something, cue, our son flipping the children’s table, and two chairs over in full on rage. I did my best not to lose my shit and somehow blame my husband for the horrendous personality trait which clearly comes from his side and I went inside to hide, sorry, I mean finish preparing the food. Husband dealt with it in the best way possible and it made me love him all the more. He gave our son a croissant with jam on it and his phone to watch videos. Hell, neither of us wanted to deal with the three year old assaulting a family member.

3. Far too much screen time.

Weekends are all the more precious now I am back at work full time, and I would say that not being with the boys during the week makes me enjoy playing with them a lot more at the weekend (maybe like 10% more). We are hopping on buses at 8:27am on a Saturday to go to the big Tesco to get toothpaste, we are bossing the library bang on opening time, and enjoying babycinos at all outlets in our local vicinity. Come 2pm we are all a little worse for wear. No one can play all day, so the toddler was allowed to watch a DVD. It was a beautiful day outside, but I thought, we are all shattered, I could do with a little break, screw it, yes, watch a DVD. I forgot that we don’t do much screen time, because we don’t know how to STOP screen time. 3 1/2 hours later I managed to extract our son from the living room with the promise of chips for dinner and another binge on the TV tomorrow. The problem is now he remembers stuff, and knows when tomorrow is. The clever child told me at 4:47am that he was feeling angry and the DVD would make him feel better.

We have created our own demise. Thank goodness we have another child. We’ll do better parenting on him…once we get some bloody sleep.

What I miss most..

Tonight another milestone has been met. In making the baba’s night time milk I only managed to scrape together 3 of the allocated 7 scoops for his bottle. There wasn’t another container of formula milk, meaning tonight he had a delicious combination of half formula half cow’s milk, and since he is one is 4 days we will not be investing another £8 on formula milk. Thank the Lord that there will be no more boiling kettles at 3:34am, no more scooping sticky white dust into a bottle neck which doesn’t seem to be wide enough to cope with the tipping of the “scooper”, no more waking up to white powder all over the kitchen counter, no more fecking sterilizer, no more “separate bottle brush”. The baby is a grown up and now has the milk from farm yard animal. I’m overjoyed at no longer having to deal with the above tasks between the hours of 9:34pm and 5:45am. This has got me questioning if there were any stages we have left behind which I actually miss:

  1. Having a newborn.

People treat you and your baby like celebrities when your baby is a newborn. I remember taking second son (I don’t think I can refer to him as “baba” anymore) to a restaurant when he was 5 days old and informing the waiter of the age of our tiny infant. He was so impressed (by, perhaps, our excellent parenting) that he topped up my wine free of charge. This “newborn” stage really doesn’t last long enough, especially if there is someone in the family, your group of friends, or in the general vicinity who is going to bust out their baby a few months after you. Within a few weeks of becoming new parents you become quite use to the fanfare which precedes you. You get stopped in the streets, people are desperate to know what age the baby is, what name you have bestowed upon them, what they weighed, and then you get those judgey people who will want to know if you are breastfeeding. You soon realise to get the best responses you should dress your infant appropriately, perhaps in attire which includes a hood with ears. Before you know it you only leave the house when you know baby will be napping and will look angelic for all who stare. Hell, you even start putting a bit of bronzer on and a wee squirt of perfume just to head to the shops so you can relish in the compliments which people then like to pass on to you. You almost have a script of what to say to these complete strangers who seem to be obsessed in an almost unnatural way to your offspring. As soon as you have mastered your “gracious-parent” look your child is no longer a new born and everyone else has moved on to the new baby next door. This initial new born celebrity period is a lovely stage which makes you feel so special and warm, like no one has ever had a baby before. It is a totally unrealistic and unsustainable introduction to parenthood. Enjoy it while it lasts.

2. Toddler Babble.

The first born can fully talk and communicate. He can recall events which have happened previously, tell us his aspirations for future events and can make lists of commands. His vocabulary is simply soaring and I have no idea who is teaching him all the English grammar he has acquired. He certainly has a firm grasp of the many oddities of our language, although we still muddle through “I”, “my” and “mine” but we get what he’s on about. We look back on footage of him over the last two years and find it completely insane that he couldn’t talk, that only last year we had to act as translators and decipher his babble for others. Don’t get me wrong, it is such a relief to simply ask him why the hell he is crying (he normally wants to do the exact opposite of what I am requesting) and be able to discuss with him why he has to do what I have suggested (only for him to cry more and for me to then let him do whatever the hell he wants). But there was a period when it felt like everyday he was uttering a new word or attempting another language structure. We couldn’t keep up with him. It feels like only yesterday he stumbled upon “bye bye” then only this week he announced “mummy, phone 999, the police, I have an emergency, Bobby (his teddy) is wet.” Watching children learn to talk is mindblowing. I can’t wait for son number two to make a start.

3. Naps ANYWHERE.

First born wasn’t so good at this. We programmed him incorrectly and he would only have naps in his buggy with the snoozy shade down occassionally accompanied by the artificial sound of church bells. We learnt our lesson with second son and he would get 40 winks wherever he was placed. On benches, in a random bed, on the grass. Where we plonked him he would sleep. And sleep well. Now he is actually interested in the world our “plonking” isn’t cutting it. We try to stick with the cot these days but if he senses that life is continuing without him he makes his protests heard. So now we rock our second born to sleep. To the utter digust of his older brother, who thinks being rocked to sleep looks epic and for the last two nights has insisted on wearing his younger brother’s nappy, has a bottle of milk and must also be rocked to sleep while his mother sings herself horse. This can be a little tiresome, but when you have two wee gorgeous boys asleep in your arms it is worth every, single moment.

Every stage has its highs and lows, but some lows can actually be a high.

Guilt

I feel guilty all the time. I feel guilty even saying I feel guilty as I’m worried it will be a poor relfection of my own mental state or will be interpreted as (yet another) jibe at my beloved other half. I didn’t used to feel like this, yet I can pin point the exact moment when this emotion took hold and started to consume my everyday thoughts…when our first born rocked into our world. Actually, no, that is not true. Probably the moment we found out we were going to be parents. It started with those fecking blue lines…

“Shit…I drank LOADS last month…was I pregnant then and will our child have foetal alcohol syndrom?”

“I went on a banana boat 6 weeks ago…was I pregnant then and could the bouncing have harmed the baby?”

“Oh no…I’m going to be pregnant at Christmas…and New Year and on my 30th Birthday. I’m happy to be pregnant, but can I not be pregnant on those days. Oh no, I’m such a bad person. Now I’ve had these thoughts, if anything bad happens during this pregnancy it will all be my own fault for being so ungrateful.”

Here are some recent factors which have increased my guilty feelings.

1. Going back to work.

For ultimate greater gains I have gone back to work full time. I did this with the first born so it didn’t feel like such a big deal. The boys aren’t in childcare full time; hubby is with them two days a week and nursery have them 3. A nice balance I think. But recently I can’t help but think that they don’t get the best of me, and I don’t get the best of them. I do the nursery pick up and both boys are so wrecked that the 2 1/2 hour build up to bed time is filled with lots of negotiations, briberies and tears. All with the baby clinging onto me. I get frustrated as I need to put washes on, prepare dinners, make packed lunches, but can’t even manage to change out of my work clothes. Resulting in me feeling bad that I can’t get basic tasks done, bad that my boys are so tired from nursery, bad that I’m grumpy and not engaging with them in a positive way. Should I quit my job and be a full time mum? Surely they never feel guilty?

2. Going out.

As I write I am on my way to Edinburgh to see the Spice Girls with my uni buddies. This is bloody epic. When are Spice Girls going to play in my favourite city ever again? Answer; never. I can’t wait to breathe in the weird Edinburgh stench, dander around the streets which I know so well from my uni days and be with the people who know me best. Also, I can’t wait to go to bed tonight knowing that I won’t have to tend to a teething baba or a mental toddler having a Night Terror. There won’t be a 5:30 am wake up call. And I won’t have to deal with another human’s excrement before 6am. This is the ultimate treat. But if I’m not dousing a child in capol at 1:23 am, my husband will be. If I’m not rocking back and forth with a baba in my arms for the 6th time before 10pm, my husband will be. If I’m not convincing the toddler that he can’t have porridge at 4:45am, my husband will be. Going to bed knowing the childcare is all on you is what nightmares are made from. It appears also that our offspring tend to develop vomiting bugs while I’m not in attendance. I feel so guilty that my husband has 36 hours of solo childcare to get through. Why do I feel so bad about this? It’s not as if I have never cared for our children independently before. I need to get my ass up to the Scottish Capital, down Prosecco with the girls and sing Wannabe at the top of my voice. This is the only solution.

3. Trying to be a good person.

I’m nuts for a self help book, and of course I love to devour a good old parenting guide. The best bit of advice I have encountered in the latter was that for our children to develop kindness and empathy, we must demonstrate this to them. We must listen to them, respect their views and be understanding. We shouldn’t lose our shit in front of them, they should witness resilience in the face of adversity and positivity when dealing with the daily grinds. This is so fecking hard. Getting two small children out of the house, whilst getting ready for work ourselves feels like a 90 minute onslaught of absolute chaos involving an disproportionate amount of cereal, endless snot, at least 3 poos (of which none of them will be your own), dribble which appears to pour from the baba’s mouth at an alarming rate, at least 2 doses of capol (for us parents), a Youtube clip of a police siren to scare the toddler into brushing his teeth (which will then randomly play on the tube much to the alarm of my fellow commuters), copious amounts of kitchen roll to deal with most of above and a bit of elbow work to squeeze the baby into the buggy so we can be on our merry way. I can’t tell you what a piece of piss work is after getting through the morning battle. Are hubby and I calm thoughout this affray, demonstrating to our offspring how strong emotional inteligence can eliminate trivial stresses in the day to day organisation of the house hold? Are we f**k? Normally by the time we kiss our beautiful children goodbye hubby and I are no longer speaking and will be cursing eachother under our breaths lamenting the other’s appalling personality traits which resulted in the baby pouring milk all over the toddler’s nursery uniform, or the absence of enough change for our children to pay for the priviledge to go to nursery with a red hat for International Bright Accessories Day to raise funds (and awareness) for homeless cats in Sri Lanka. We will send a message to one another an hour later confirming that we do infact love eachother, will not get divorced in the forseeable future, and we should try a little harder to be better rolemodels for our children in the mornings.

The guilt continues.

Time’s Up

And just like that. Maternity leave was over in the blink of an eyelid.

How on earth did that happen? I only gave birth yesterday!? Shit!!! Did I do enough? Have I bonded sufficiently? Did I really make the most of my precious time off? Can I still have adult conversations or will they realise I’m a big fraud? How can
I possibly answer professional questions which aren’t posed by a three year old? What have I even learnt in the last year?

  1. I am a little bit mental.

About four blog posts into this “blogging journey” I spied a pattern in my behaviour which was not pretty. My unrealistic demands and lack of flexibility really just made my life (and my husband’s too probably) more difficult than it had to be. If the
Tesco shop comes on a Tuesday rather than a Monday we will not starve. If we rock up late to playgroup we will still get in (it is not a bloody night club). If we leave the house 30 minutes later than planned you are just like every other mother trying to
get somewhere with two small children. I got myself a book to attempt to rectify this unattractive characteristic which came out full force during maternity leave, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k”. The long and short of it, I’m now giving a lot less
f**ks and feel great for it. Sure, if my husband is cooking dinner and chopping an onion takes 20 minutes and uses all the kitchen utensils I will still have to leave the room to lie down. But when I’m lying down I am no longer wondering how I can syphon
his salary into my own personal account for when I file for divorce, no, I lie in bed giving less f**ks. It’s an onion. He just needs to chop more of them to get better. I have had a whole year to refine my expertise in onion chopping. Hell, we can even
be that family which buys pre-chopped onion. My development in the less f**k giving really climaxed when I gave the boys a chippy on a damp Friday afternoon and we watched a movie. Old me would be preparing vegetables for them to throw on the floor before
forcing them into an educational game which no one has the energy for. That Friday afternoon was bloody brilliant. Who doesn’t love a chippy and a bit of TV. A liar, that’s who. Chippy Fridays are the way forward, we all need to kick back once in a while,
and if you want to judge my parenting skills for that I will be right here, giving very few f**ks.

2. Staying in is never fun with two small children.

I only did this about three times the whole of mat leave (I will not include the week the toddler was sick…I have deleted that period from my memory). When I did commit the fatal error of having an afternoon indoors I was lulled by the toastiness inside
and the dark miserable weather outdoors. The toddler would be playing nicely, the baba would be napping, I would be sipping tea and I would think “Sure, we’ll all just stay in this afternoon and be cosy.” This cosiness lasted all of 7 minutes before the
longest afternoons of my life ensued. Perhaps it’s because our house isn’t that big and the caring of two small children in a small space becomes quite consuming, but on these “cosy” days the moment hubby got home I literally sprinted out the door just to
walk up and down the driveway a few times. In summer it’s easy to get out of the house, winter not so much (don’t get me started on the saga of coats and cars). Here are some of the incredibly educational activities I did with my children during the more
depressing months of the year.

  1. Got the bus to the next tube station, then got the tube home.
  2. Got the tube to the next town, then got the bus home.
  3. Got the tube to the end of the line, then got the tube home.
  4. Got the bus to the next town, then got the bus home.
  5. Sat at a bus stop waiting for a bus we had never got before, only for the toddler to need a poo, to walk home, do said poo, start to walk back to bus stop to watch bus drive past.
  6. Gone for a walk to look for a cat (we don’t own a cat but pretending I’ve seen a cat has saved me from so many melt downs).
  7. Gone for a walk to the post box whilst talking about how great it would be if we had some letters to post (this was actually an epic one as the post man opened the post box and let the toddler press a special button on his special post man phone thing.
    This happened over 6 months ago and we probably talk about it every 4 days).
  8. Stood on a railway bridge to wave at trains. We have been known to stand on bridges for 45 minutes. It can get quite exciting when they toot their horn. I think next year I may bring some mulled wine in a flask and maybe a little camping chair to really
    make the activity more enjoyable for all participants.
  9. Gone to look at the neighbours Christmas Lights for the 26th time that week. I genuinely set up a “Christmas Lights” play date with a mummy from around the corner. She must’ve thought I was mental. I just really REALLY REALLY needed to leave the house.
  10. Gone to collect feathers (there are literally no feathers around here, the toddler ends up picking up all sorts of shit from the ground, this one needs refined).

3. Embrace the moment.

Now my youngest is no longer a baby and is doing incredibly grown up things like waving and clapping his hands I know it will simply be a matter of time before he starts declaring “I do myself” like his older brother and I will be banished to the sidelines
as I watch him trash my house and possessions in his attempts to be independent. I have no idea when this transformation from infant to almost toddler happened and it’s making me crave that time stands still and I observe my boys and engrave every nuance
to memory. Although I find it hard, and at the back of my mind the to-do list just gets bigger and bigger, I am trying my utmost to put my phone down, leave the kitchen in a state, neglect the admin which just keeps arriving in my inbox and get down on my
hands and knees (even though the floor is somehow covered in cereal once again) and play with my wee boys and make sure they know that although I am going back to work I have had the best year ever with them and I wouldn’t change a single moment (except for
the times which involved human excrement being on my person, and any occasion including vomit).

My Friend.

My last day of maternity leave was spent in York at my wonderful friend’s funeral. Despite only having this magnificent person in my life for less than 3 years, circumstances meant she moved up the ranks at a pretty spectacular rate to becoming a true friend and confidant. She even stared in this blog as my gin drinking mummy friend and in fact she was one of the first people who read my initial blog to see if it was suitable for public consumption (to which she inquired if I genuinely did shit myself in the back of the car whilst in labour!). She was my advisor during maternity leave (“How the hell do you cook an apple for a baby?”), my go-to as a working mum (“Shall we collect the boys early from nursery and sip wine while they play?) and 6am text buddy when struggling through the world of toddlerdom (“How much iPad do you think is too much, the toddler’s been up since 4:14am?). I feel so lucky to have had her as a friend, and really sad that we won’t be able to laugh at how clueless we were as first time mum’s when we get through the “other end” and finally start getting some more sleep. This blog is dedicated to her and some of the things she taught me during our short courtship as buddies.

  1. You can negotiate nursery fees.

This may seem a little unsentimental, but this was probably the first piece of advice which M gave me which was an absolute game changer. For our first friendly rendez-vous we went for a walk with our babies in the scorching heat and established that our children would be attending the same nursery on a full time basis. And then she busted out

“You know you can ask to negotiate the fees.”

“Who is this nursery-price-debating-Goddess?” I thought to myself. Who is ballsy enough to approach the institution which will care for your most precious possession and ask for a discount? This new friend of mine. So I took her advice and only bloody negotiated the daily rate of my son’s nursery. She genuinely must have saved us hundreds of pounds over the last 3 years. I do my best to pass on this wisdom when the opportunity arises, but now it is in print for you all to share. Be the Nursery-Price-Debating-Gods and Goddesses for your friends too.

2. Don’t buy your toilet training toddler pants from M&S.

To be fair I already knew this one but I think this reflects what a wonderful mother M was. My children don’t possess any clothes from M&S unless a voucher was bestowed unto them, in which case a “fancy” outfit will be purchased for them to wear only on “special occasions” where I will ensure that everyone coming into contact with my child will be aware that their attire is from M&S. M really looked after her wee boy, not in the spoilt, must have everything way, it was just evident that he was really loved. She was amazing at sourcing massive plastic crap…sorry I mean toys…incredibly cheaply from our local mummy FB group. I remember going to her house and being in awe at the amusement available to her son, thinking “Shit, I need to get my baby some toys!”. Inevitably the window for very young children to play with plastic crap is very narrow and I would consequently inherit these plastic monstrosities which would take over our living space and I would naturally resent their presence. The thing is, I never heard M begrudge her house being taken over by plastic crap. She just seemed to get on with it. In fact she rarely had a bad word to say about motherhood at all. Sure, she would lament the 5am wake ups, and wonder what had happened to all her money and free time, but she really just seemed to take the whole motherhood thing in her stride. Taking sides off cots willy nilly, dropping naps, moving her son into a forward facing car seat. I genuinely think if M hadn’t been in my life prompting me to move on to the next stage with our son he would still be sleeping in his moses basket with a bottle of breast milk today aged 3.

But she really should’ve known better purchasing those pants in M&S.

3. Be Kind.

What I loved most about M was that she was kind. I mean the type of kindness and loving nature that makes you want to be kinder and more loving to everyone in your own life. This was most evident in her relationship with her son. She always had time for him, even if we had just poured a gin and I was desperate to off-load about my week in work and horrendous sleep deprivation, if he wanted her to, she would get down on the carpet and play Duplo with her son. And then, when he was busy playing she would listen to my rants about life with such engagement and understanding that I would want her advice on all levels of my life. So, I would then ask her advice on all levels of my life. It must’ve been tiresome for her to listen to me enquire about the trajectory of my career, where we should settle down as a family and my future as a mummy blogger. But she always got back to me. Not judging me. Listening to me. Supporting me. Just being herself.

I am so sad that she is not here anymore.

But I feel like she brought so much to my life.

Tell those close to you how much you care.

“My advice to mummies who are feeling lonely is find a good mummy friend. I was so lucky to find a mummy friend who literally lived around the corner, admitted that she felt lonely too sometimes, who went back to work full time like me, and who liked to drink gin with me on Fridays (and sometimes on Thursdays and Wednesdays if we could get away with it).”

Nornirishmummy, “What they didn’t tell you was…” August 31st 2018