Tag Archives: yummy mummy

Sad (or School Allocation Day)

17 Apr

School run

The last few days have been anxious ones for parents as they waited for news of where their little darlings will start their formative years in education. Primary school allocation day. Nerves have not been so frayed since this year’s mamas and papas twisted their hair and scuffed their Doc Martens waiting for exam results. The anxiety isn’t helped by what is seen to be a complicated (and seemingly random) allocation system. It’s another challenge on the rocky, emotional road that is parenting.

The wait between the application deadline and allocation date is a long one – three months. Quite what is happening during this period is uncertain. One can only imagine that FBI checks are being run, dustbins rifled through and shopping habits scrutinised. We were delighted to get our first choice (thanks to our close proximity to the school) but we still had three long months of not daring to count our chickens. Of course, none of the available schools are ‘bad’ but they do each have a different ‘feel’ that you need to be happy with. (Obviously, my choice was not at all swayed by the Convenience (C) equation: C = X + Y, where X equals eXtra time in bed and Y equals Years of life spent on same stretch of pavement making sure kids don’t run into the road or step in dog poop.)

I wasn’t prepared for how emotional today would be. Once the initial excitement of getting the school we wanted had passed, the significance of the moment started to set in. My little girl would be going to school. Really, truly. I even shed a tear or two, something I had not expected to do until she actually starts school. Four months of blubbing beckons for me as the build-up to September starts: buying her uniform, the school visits before the summer holidays, choosing a pencil case … Another chapter in my life as a parent is well and truly opening.

Am I ready for it? Excuse the selfishness but I think the girl will be fine – after all, her excitement today was focused around the colour of the uniform. The prospect of structure, PE and making new friends hardly factors. So back to me. Life is going to change. What are my concerns?

  • Can I accept that my daughter is growing up? Will I start dressing my 2-year-old son as a baby again and push him around in a pram in a desperate attempt to keep at least one of my kids needing me. (Buying a cat is also an option here.)
  • Will my precarious self-esteem survive life at the school gates? Will it be a bed of roses or the snake pit I’m led to believe it is?
  • How the jiggins will I cope with having to feed her tea every day of the week? I currently struggle with being imaginative twice a week. Does tinned mackerel constitute a balanced diet? (The aforementioned cat would be in for a treat at least.)
  • Will I be required to only leave the house in full make-up, possibly purchase Ugg boots, and, worst of all, join the ranks of the Ballet Mums skilled in the dark art of making other mothers feel uncomfortable?

My worries for my daughter are another blog post entirely. For the moment, I’m wallowing in my own regret at the speed with which time passes. Sometimes it’s difficult to focus on the parental joys you have already experienced and those that are yet to come. Every stage of being a parent involves some form of letting go and accepting that life is changing and changing rapidly. The pride that can bring is often tinged with sadness. As I watch my daughter head off for her first day at primary school I’m sure I’ll be grateful that it’s just her new found independence I’m worrying about and not the length of her skirt or the boy waiting for her at the school gate. That is all still to come. God help me.

Yummy Mummy or Boring Bob?

27 Mar

women's magazines

I am at an age where I’m old enough to be someone’s mother. I am actually a mother as I have two kids. What I mean is that I am now old enough to be the mother (maybe even grandmother) of the generation I consider to be ‘young’, the wannabes, the men and women who will be our next future. And that makes me feel old. Listen closely enough and I can sometimes be heard uttering the telling phrase: “Policemen are so young these days”. What’s a girl woman to do when she finds herself at the top of  a slippery slope grabbing on for dear life with her stubby fingernails?

I’m not a big fan of health and beauty magazines aimed at women. They’re very pretty to look at and sometimes even include an interesting feature amidst their trivialisation of women (under the guise of empowerment of course). They have the ability to tweak the love handles and poke the pimples of anyone harbouring a dash of insecurity. One day they could even be the cause of my daughter valuing lipstick over the human race. It was to my horror then that I found myself reaching for the latest issue of the Boots Health & Beauty magazine looking for inspiration and solace. Such depths of self-pity had I reached.

Egged on by the promise of “tiny and oh-so-doable steps” and just the hint of the chance to CHANGE MY LIFE, I stumbled across Louise Kearney whose goal was to “look glam at the school gates”:

“When I drop the kids off at school, the other mums always look so well turned out and cool – I wish I knew their secret! … I’d love to re-invent myself as a yummier mummy, but I’ve got no idea where to start.”

Louise may have been smiling in the photo but it was a desperate cry for help and it struck a chord. My two children are now old enough that I can start to reclaim my body safe in the knowledge that I’m not planning a pregnancy that will come and b*gger it all up again. Like Louise, I will become a school runner from September when my oldest starts to drag me daily into the snake pit that I’m led to believe the school playground to be. Oh clever, clever Boots magazine! Louise could be me. I was practically ripping open the laptop to order the magical products prescribed to cure lovely Louise of her baggy mumsiness.

Most exciting of all was the discovery that I was already halfway there to achieving the status of aged, yet desirable, woman. I have a bob. There was me thinking I had a boring old haircut. But no, look in the mirror again and feel the power of the bob. According to Lord Trevor of Sorbie, Louise’s ‘hair expert’ in the article, a razored bob is the way forward: “Trust me – a shorter style will help turn back the clock”. I trust you Trevor, I trust you.

Content that I now had the tools to be gorgeous, I let my guard down and dipped into the rest of the magazine. Little did I realise that my new found confidence was about to be shaken. On page 24 I received the following slap in the face courtesy of the magazine’s columnist, soon to be 40-year-old (gasp!) Katy Regan:

“Plus I’ll ditch the bob, which my twenty-something make stylist informs me ‘is a look only women over 35 go for these days’!”

Only sad, desperate old women over 35. The bob: the blue-rinse for the 30-something generation. How we’ll laugh at them behind their backs when they ask for a cut a bit more ‘Ann Hathaway’ and we tell them that a bob would much better flatter their face shape. It hides the wrinkles and the jowls, darling. Know thy place.

The world of women’s magazines yet again reveals just how superficial it can be. Whilst I am frightened by the industry’s output and the negative impact it can have on self image, I am even more frightened that there are people (usually women) writing this content and failing to see the hypocrisy of it. Scarier still is if they are producing the content in full knowledge of their influence but are choosing to subjugate any twinges of sisterly solidarity. Of course these magazines have their place and should never be taken too seriously (indeed, I feel I am getting a bit serious here and may need to pause to adjust my blue stockings). But the potential of even the most lightweight and frivolous of magazines to do harm should never be underestimated. Especially by an old duffer with a bob like me.

How to break a child’s heart in one easy ballet step

30 Oct

We’ve just returned from holiday. In the days leading up to the journey home there were the inevitable groans about our imminent return to cold, grey reality. The 4-year-old didn’t want to go back to nursery. The 18-month-old didn’t want to leave our hosts’ endless supply of Swiss Chocobits cereal. I knew that an English supermarket could probably sort the latter, but what to do about the former? Obvious answer: give her something to look forward to when we got home.

And so it was that for several days before our return I buoyed my daughter up with the prospect of her Monday ballet class. As expected, this resulted in the tongue-rolling, dress-lifting, wriggling excitement that normally only a Disney princess can elicit. Pat on the back to Mummy. I was on to a winner.

Back at home on Monday morning disaster struck. A faulty gas supply left us without heat and hot water and the prospect of a day stuck in the house waiting for help to arrive. As the plumber (yes, the same plumber as in that post) got steadily more grumpy and the hours ticked by the likelihood of getting to ballet started to dissipate like the waft of gas from a dodgy gas pipe. Like any good parent, I deliberately didn’t mention the impending trauma to my daughter lest by some miracle all should come good.

An hour before the class and things weren’t looking promising. Tears, tantrums and utter devastation loomed. I called Mr Crumbs & Pegs in the hope he’d be able to pop home from work for an hour thus releasing us from the purgatory of infernal waiting. Success! We were back on track.

Half an hour before the class and I got one very excited little girl into her ballet outfit. All was progressing as normal – the usual explanation of why she must wear her skirt pulled as high as Simon Cowell’s trousers rather than skimming the bottom of her buttocks like a gangsta, the foot stamping as locks of hair escaped from her hair band, and of course the frenzied tumbling into the car when we discovered we were running late. No surprises then when we pulled away from the house with one/some/all of us fraught and in tears. That aside – we were on the way to ballet!

Under stress I seem to have the knack of turning my daughter into a blubbering and uncooperative wreck. (Four years in and I am yet to learn that shouting does not make children go faster. Some red underlining is clearly required in the Bad Mother’s Notebook of Things I Must Do Better. ) Dragging two children into an empty leisure centre reception area I stopped in my tracks. Where were the pushy mammas in their boots and skinny jeans?  Where were the siblings who were usually sprawled across the corridor playing Top Trumps and tripping up the attendees of the Blind Badminton class? Hell no! It was half term. No ballet class.

The receptionist looked at me with pity (or was it disgust?) as I made the walk of shame back out the leisure centre doors, crying ballerina and confused toddler in tow. Guilty doesn’t do full justice to how I felt as I explained to my daughter that her mother – who was obviously always right – had got something terribly wrong. In the car I proffered a trip to a café by way of an apology but was told that her “tummy hurt too much from crying to eat cake”. Make it worse why don’t you.

A day later I am still apologising. A day later, when reminded of the incident, my daughter still looks at me like her heart has been broken by an idiot. A complete idiot. Welcome to parenthood.

LolliBop LOL

6 Aug

It’s not often that I win anything so I was cockahoop when I found out I’d won VIP tickets to this weekend’s LolliBop festival courtesy of BritMums and Britvic Fruit Shoot. (Part of the surprise came from the fact I couldn’t remember having entered the competition – poor sleep deprived brain o’mine.) What had promised to be an ordinary Saturday was transformed into a magical day in Regent’s Park along with hundreds of screaming, tantruming parents and their children.

I made the mistake of telling my soon-to-be-three-year-old about the trip a couple of days in advance. The lead up was thus peppered with “Is it the weekend now?” and the subsequent footstamping when she was told that Rastamouse was still two days away, then one day away, then one car journey away. Note that Rastamouse gets an early mention. Well that grooving, lilting bundle of felt was the absolute highlight of my day. The excitement in the crowd crackled like a huge Camberwell Carrot (yes, we all know the interpretation of ‘cheese’ us adults have foisted on poor Rastamouse and his Easy Crew) whilst we waited for them to appear on the main stage. For twenty minutes I forgot I was watching a jobbing actor dressed as a huge Rastafarian mouse – it was like a real gig! Proper crucial, as Rastamouse would say. Despite bursting into tears and claiming it was “too noisy” my toddler was also captivated. I think both of us were less impressed with the Zingzillas who preceded Rastamouse in the line-up. Personally, I find them mighty creepy and they just don’t have Rastamouse’s ‘riddim’.

So, Rastamouse was my high point of the day. What was my low point? The army of tremendously yummy mummies who had clearly made a lot of effort to stand in a field for a day. Call it my own insecurities and/or low self-esteem but I felt distinctively frumpy. Determined to compete with the best of them, I kept my bug-eye Gucci sunglasses on despite the cloud and rain not just because it seemed the done thing but also because I hoped it would draw attention away from my tatty jeans and post-pregnancy muffin-top. There was a little too much ‘checking each other out’ for my liking. The tension was particularly felt around the sandpit as mamas and papas hovered at the edge checking that Tarquin wasn’t going to get whacked over the head by Jonny and his bucket, or have sand emptied into their Boden hoodies (not that my daughter would do that to another child … ahem). Any conflict amongst the tiddlers was just waiting to be taken to another level by the adults – Phil & Teds at dawn.

LolliBop (“The Big Bash for Little People”) is a great concept but it was let down by the vast queues that accompanied most of the activities on offer. This isn’t surprising given that once in most of the activities were free (I’ve never seen such a queue for facepainting and wondered whether some subliminal message in the Zingzillas set had turned ordinary families into facepainting junkies). Despite the queues and general tension from being crammed in a field wheel to wheel with a zillion other buggies (the concentration required to avoid toes and children was quite headache inducing), we had a super day at Lollibop. In a week where we’ve seen a furore about ‘shocking’ images of a 10-year-old modelling in Vogue, it was great to see kids just having fun doing kids’ stuff.

Yummy or not yummy, that is the question

22 Nov

Today a fellow blogger (thank you A(nother) Lawyer Writes) alerted me to an interesting interview in a Sunday paper. The interview was with Brooke Magnanti, otherwise known as the former high-class prostitute Belle du Jour. She was asked why she didn’t blog as much any more and her reply was that most blogs are now written by right wing nutters and yummy mummies. I don’t think I’m the former (although what a few more years in St Albans might do to me I don’t know), but am I the latter? It has prompted a certain amount of self-analysis. I’ve made a conscious effort not to turn my blog into a missive from suburbia by a middle class mother but I have still been called a yummy mummy.  It’s a label I feel both dismayed and secretly pleased by. No one likes to be labelled, particularly as something that isn’t always granted positive attributes. On the other hand, how positively lovely if I were one! You can see my dilemma.

So am I a yummy mummy? I don’t drive a Chelsea tractor (but I do drive a Mercedes), I don’t do much baking (but when I do my preference is for pretty cupcakes), and I don’t live in a Cath Kidston floral-coated world (but the catalogue appears on my doormat most weeks). Oh, and I live in St Albans. I rest my case, I hear some of you say.

Here are a few definitions of ‘yummy mummy’ from urbandictionary.com and my accompanying comments:

“A young, sexually attractive mother. There is an important age distinction between a yummy mummy and a MILF. Yummy mummys are younger than 30, while MILFs are older than 30.”

(As a 34-year-old this one is slightly insulting – not only does it effectively define me as old but ‘yummy mummy’ starts to read ‘desperate housewife’. Interesting subject becomes object. Hmph. Clearly written by a man.)

“An attractive, healthy, and very sexy mother! Usually a young woman or sometimes a really gorgeous and hot middle aged mother. Yummy mummies usually wear trendy clothes, have great hairstyles and always look fabulous.”

(I like this one. I like the first line A LOT. The exclamation mark almost turns it into a term of endearment! Unfortunately it then goes on to spoil the good work by suggesting a woman can be defined by her hairstyle and clothes and nowt else. Not an original slant and unsurprising, but still mildly irritating.)

“Glamorous girls who shop and lunch their way through pregnancy, proudly displaying their little bumps like the latest designer handbag. They generally see pregnancy as an opportunity to buy a whole new wardrobe with a team of personal shoppers on hand.”

(Pretty derogatory this one. Think Paris Hilton and swap the doggie for a buggy. Think vacuous waste of space.)

“A mother who is interested in looking after herself as well as her family while taking pride in her appearance. She doesn’t have to be gorgeous just a little interested in being mildly fabulous!”

(Hello! A mention of ‘family’. So the yummy mummy does think/exist outside her little bubble of floral prints and Boden.)

“A yummy mummy is a mum who takes care of her wellbeing. She takes regular time out for herself and fills her life with people who inspire, motivate and support her. A yummy mummy does not judge other mothers, but shows kindness, compassion and cares for others.”

(This one starts off well but then tells a blatant falsehood – “a yummy mummy does not judge other mothers”. For me the unpleasant side of yummy mummy isn’t about the individual, it’s about the clique and like any good sorority the clique judges those who don’t conform.)

Let’s be honest, I aspire to be a yummy mummy. Aspire means I still have some way to go. So in the meantime I’ll feel a warm inner glow in my Hunters if the label is applied but I’ll outwardly choke on my cappuccino.

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