Single Mother’s Day

Tomorrow is my third Mother’s Day as a mother and I already know it will be my favourite. 


In the past, Mother’s Day presents I’ve received have included Chanel sunglasses, Vivienne Westwood jewellery and expensive perfume. This year I will receive a £3.99 succulent plant bought by me, for me. Because I know my babies would if they could. 

The expensive presents were purchased begrudgingly by my soon to be ex-husband. Bought out of guilt, or maybe just to throw in my face at some future point in time when he needed a way to prove to me that I was the terrible person and he was the good person. The joy of the lovely present would soon become tainted and I knew that the minute I opened it. 

The past three Mother’s Days have been tense affairs. Any celebration or ‘event’ was always a tense affair. Each and every single time, without fail, my husband would start an argument with me to ruin the day. Mother’s Day was no exception. 

I can’t remember how any of the arguments started but I remember how they all ended. With me in tears, feeling desperate, alone and like I had no way out. I would sit there as he bellowed at me for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, maybe an hour. As his voice was booming in my ears I would be fantasising about ways I could break out of the hell I was living. But at that time I wasn’t strong enough and it was just a fantasy to think I could get away. I was deep under his control. 

There was no point trying to leave, he would follow me. If I tried to defend myself I was ‘making it worse’ and if I ignored his screamed questions I was ‘disrespecting’ him. I absolutely could not win. 

The expensive presents meant nothing. Actually it was worse than that; they meant I was still under his control. They meant I would spend the day walking on eggshells waiting for his inevitable explosion into a fit of rage. They reminded me that he could control my day with his moods and arguments and I couldn’t do a thing about it. 

Until I did. Until I threw him out. Until I found the strength for myself and my children and I threw him out. 

So tomorrow there will be no expensive presents. There will be no fit of rage. Not in this house anyway. There will be no tension, no anxiety, no sense of foreboding, no crying. 

There will just be me and my boys. Loving each other and spending the day feeling happy and lucky and grateful for our succulent plant. 

Holidaying Abroad With Tots

Although I might be speaking too soon I think this holiday is going quite well. It’s exceeding my expectations anyway, although admittedly, my expectations were that the whole week would be a stressful nightmare. Happily, that is not the case!

I’m in Mallorca with Omar (3), Zaki (11 months) and my mum (she doesn’t want you knowing her age, sorry). We opted for a 4* all inclusive package holiday. I know, I know. It’s a soulless choice and I’m a slave to the capitalist machine. Really sorry for not chucking both my kids in a sling and backpacking around the Far East but quite frankly after the hellish last 12 months I’ve had I needed an easy option and this holiday, so far, has been pretty easy. 

The living room in our spacious apartment. Omar is mesmerised by Scooby Doo in German.
We’re staying in an apartment, so we have facilities to make Zaki’s bottles and a cuppa when we need one, but I don’t have to cook because we’re all inclusive, win! The restaurant is a buffet style one so I can always find something the kids will eat and there’s loads and loads of fruit for dessert, so I don’t feel too bad when they turn their nose up at all the veg I heap onto their plates and have chips. 

The occassional bowl of ice cream is obviously a holiday essential.


We’ve spent most of our days around the pool and both boys LOVE it in the kid
paddling pool. Obviously I have to supervise them in there but it’s no hardship. I actually like being in there, it stops me from melting from the heat.

I bought Zaki a baby swim support seat and I’d definitely recommend one, it was about €8 and would be worth every cent if it was triple that. 


Omar loves wearing a swimming ring and arm bands for some reason (weird kid) but he doesn’t actually need them in the little pool, I don’t think there’s much cope for drowning in a metre of water. 

We went to the beach for a day but to be honest, I can’t stand getting sand everywhere and Omar wasn’t keen on the sea, so as lovely as it was, I don’t think we’ll go back. 

There are lots of potential days out we could have; Alcudia Old Town and Porta Pollensa look beautiful, but this holiday is all about the kids and they just wouldn’t appreciate a day of walking around looking at ruins or eating in upmarket fish restaurants at the marina, so pool days work just fine for us.  

Out for an evening stroll and its still boiling at 7pm.

In the evening we sometimes go for a walk after dinner or have a coffee in the hotel bar but often it’s just bath and bed for the kids and then me and mum read or watch a bit of TV before we go to sleep. There is hotel entertainment on each night but Omar and Zaki are always too tired to stay awake for the cheesy tribute acts and magicians, which is no skin off my nose.

Overall I think we’re all having a great time, just being in the sunshine makes people feel better, don’t you think? If you’re considering going abroad for a sunny holiday with young kids, do it! It’s not as difficult or stressful as you might think, the kids will love it and if nothing else, at least you get to feel the sun on your skin and a break from the washing up. Win. 


If you’ve been on a successful package holiday to somewhere sunny please let me know where in the comments. I’m already thinking about where we’ll go next year. I quite fancy Turkey. 

It’s Been A Long Time, I Shouldn’t Have Left You…

… I sincerely hope you had a dope beat to step to. (If you don’t get it, never mind.)

Hello! I’ve been gone for too long, I know. I lost the will to blog to be honest. Lots has happened and I’ve been busy and stressed and feeling like I should be doing more productive things with my time rather than writing my self-indulgent little blog. But I do love my self indulgent little blog, so here’s a quick update on my life:

What I’ve Been Doing

DIY! Of sorts. I finally finished Zaki’s bedroom and I love it! I’m pretty proud because I did it all myself, from the painting to hanging the wallpaper, to putting up the shelves. No doubt I’ll go off it within a year but for now it’s my fave room in the house.

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What I’ve Been Buying

Too much stuff for my kids, that’s what! We go on holiday to Spain next month and my kids have about 6 outfits for each day we’re there. I, however, will be wearing the same ASOS dress I bought in 2014 day in, day out if I don’t get my act together soon. Always the way. Anyway, one of the best things I’ve bought is this t shirt for Omar. I love it!

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What I’ve been watching

Peaky Blinders, Peaky Blinders, Peaky Blinders. I am OBSESSED.

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I am totally obsessed. In true me fashion. And that means I now know all there is to know about Cillian Murphy, who is just so bloody beautiful. Heart eyes for days I tell you! Anyway, I came late to the party and recently discovered Peaky  Blinders on NetFlix. It was so bingeable it didn’t take me long to catch up and I watched the season 3 finale on Thursday night with every other sane person in Britain. Ahhh Thomas Shelby, how I love thee.

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If you haven’t seen Peaky Blinders you NEED to. I’m serious, stop what you’re doing and go and watch it right now. I never watch stuff people enthusiastically tell me I need to watch (probably part of my insulant nature) but don’t be like me. This is the best thing I’ve seen in years, you’ll love it!

Omar Update

He turned 3! My boy is 3 whole years old. I can’t get my head around it. We didn’t have a party this year because quite frankly he didn’t really get involved at his last two so I avoided the stress. I had planned on having a mini tea party but illness struck our house and it had to be postponed. I will still do that for him but with no pressure on him to play party games that he has no desire to play. We had some lovely days out to celebrate anyway. We went to a huge farm and Omar loved the outdoor play areas but the cows made him boke. To be fair, they did whiff a bit haha. 

 

He is still progressing with his words and communication, just very slowly. He says about 30-40 words now but still not mama! When will he say mama?! I really can’t wait for that day.

Zaki Update

Zaki is still doing well but he’s had a sickness bug that stuck around for ages and caused him to lose 4lbs so I’m trying to fatten him up again now. He has a cardiac check up tomorrow, keeping everything crossed that his echo scan shows all is ok. Zaki will be 1 next month, which is ridiculous quite frankly! He was only born 5 minutes ago. He cruises the furniture really well now and can manoeuvre himself off the sofa. He’s desperate to be able to walk and chase after Omar but his little legs aren’t quite strong enough yet. 

So that’s about it really. Or more accurately that’s all I really want to share on my blog. Sorry if you’ve found this post a bit dull, I felt I needed to kind of catch the regular readers up (if there even are any!) and thought this would be a quick way of doing that.

They F*ck You Up

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

Yep. Philip Larkin hit the nail on the head with ‘This Be The Verse’. We can all probably attribute some of our issues to our parents and the way they did (or in some cases didn’t) raise us. Even if they did their absolute best Even if they were attentive and doting and as mumsy and dadsy as could be. 

And if we know that our parents messed us up then we have to know that we’re messing our kids up. And we can’t stop because we don’t even know we’re doing it.

But it works the other way too.

They fuck you up, those kids you had.

They make you feel helpless, useless and like you’ve lost control.

And that pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling for the last ten days. I don’t mean that I haven’t been coping with the general parenting stuff or that I’m tired or my house is a tip. Well yeah, that too. But it’s more serious and it’s got me feeling like absolute crap. To the point that I couldn’t face writing any blog posts or even watching tv. I just wanted to cry and sleep. Sleep brought sweet relief from having to think. 

You might have read about my baby Zaki and his heart. Open heart surgery and a 3 week stint in intensive care saved his life but he so very nearly died and life was hell for a while. Then it got better and I dared to think that we might be in for an easier ride for a while. Because we deserved it after what we’d been through, didn’t we?

I know it doesn’t really work that way but I thought that after something so awful, that was our fair share of crapness done with and there’d be nothing else major coming up. But yeah, it doesn’t work that way.

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I’m not quite ready to explain just yet but there are things going on with my oldest boy that are breaking my heart. I don’t have proper answers yet but what I do know is that we’re going to be in for a tough time of it. Again. And yes, I am feeling sorry for myself because quite frankly, it’s not bloody fair.

I’ve been a total mess but I’m starting to pull myself together now, for his sake, so I can get him the help he needs. I’ve done an awful lot of crying and wallowing though and I’m guessing there’s more to come.

See, this is how our kids fuck us up. They make us vulnerable because anything that hurts them or impacts on them in a negative way, hurts us a million times more. And I’ll be honest, I find it hard to deal with. Especially when everything is totally out of my control and nothing I do will change the outcome.

I’m sure it’s not healthy to love our kids to the extent that we do. For our whole happiness and wellbeing to depend on their happiness and wellbeing just cannot be healthy. And that’s how they fuck us up.

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.

Lately I’ve found myself telling people they really ought to consider not having any kids… ‘I mean, if you can live without them, do. Don’t put yourself through it…’ I said.

Now that my kids are here I love them with every fibre of my being, of course. I couldn’t live without them. But if I could stop my currently childless friends going through the pain that they bring, I would. I don’t buy into the ‘oh you need the tough times to appreciate the good times‘ school of thought either. I can do without the tough times. Honestly. They do nothing for me.

Just give me the good times, please. I promise I’ll appreciate them.

 

At What Age Should I Leave My Baby Overnight?

It started when my baby was 4 months old – my friends suggesting I leave him for a day and night to hang out with them. They are good friends, great friends, and I have no doubt they believed it would be good for me to be away from my kids for a night. To relax, to eat a meal without being interrupted every 10 seconds and to get some gorgeous, uninterrupted, deep sleep. It does sound good. Especially the sleep part. That sounds marvellous actually.

At 4 months old I wasn’t ready to leave my baby
But it was never going to happen that early on. My baby had a rocky start, which no doubt has made me super cautious with him. But regardless of that, I really don’t think I would’ve been ready to leave him at 4 months old, even if he hadn’t had heart surgery. I wasn’t ready to leave my first baby that early either. So I told my friends that and they accepted it.

My baby is now 7 months old and the issue has come up again and again. My friends and I would excitedly be arranging something through a group text chat and it would dawn on me that they were assuming we would have an overnight stay somewhere. And that I would be fine that. But I’m not. Not yet anyway.

And there’s another issue… my husband works unsociable hours and he wouldn’t be able to look after the kids if I was away for a night, so my mum would have to step in. Can I really ask her to have my baby overnight knowing that he is the world’s worst sleeper and still has at least one night feed? I don’t think I can. That’s assuming she was even free to look after my kids on the night in question. She still works part time and has other commitments that keep her really busy. It’s also assuming that she would agree to have the baby overnight and she won’t, she’s too worried he’ll stop breathing or turn blue.

Still not ready to leave him at 7 months.
But aside from all that, I am just not ready. Even if my mum was itching to have the baby overnight, or there was someone else I trusted to look after him, I’m not ready to leave him for that long. I’m not ready to not put him to bed and I’m not ready to not be there when he wakes.

Am I being clingy? Do I just need to convince my mum to have him overnight, bite the bullet and go? Or is it still too early and my friends just don’t get it? If it is too early, at what age should you leave your baby overnight?

I suppose the answer to the question is, when you’re ready. When you’re ready because you feel your baby’s ready. When your baby wouldn’t be distressed at you not being there. When a night away from your baby wouldn’t just be a huge worry-fest consisting of tears on the drive away and a million calls home. When you would actually be able to enjoy the time away to let your hair down and put yourself first for a little while.

I’m not there yet and I don’t know when I will be but I refuse to give myself a deadline of say 10 months, 1 year or even 2 years. When I feel ready I will leave my baby for a night but not a minute before.

My friends don’t get it, they think I’m being over-protective. They don’t say that but say other things like ‘oh your baby’s a tough cookie, he won’t even notice you’ve gone, don’t be silly…’ etc. They don’t seem to get that it’s me who isn’t ready for a night of separation yet. Or if they do get that, they think it’s totally unreasonable. 

And don’t get me wrong, I know there are some mums (and dads) who leave their baby’s overnight much earlier. Through choice or through necessity. I’m not saying they shouldn’t, or judging them at all. The same way I hope they wouldn’t judge me for not wanting to leave my baby yet. 

  
I don’t think there’s a golden rule when it comes to this issue. Except only leave them when you are ready to. Otherwise the night away won’t be any fun anyway and what’s the point in that? My view is that you may as well bank the babysitting hours for when you are ready to go all out and have a baby-free blast. 

I’d love to hear other people’s views on this. Do you agree with me or am I just being a massive mumbot?

The Nursery Mums Gang

I’m not in the Nursery Mums Gang. They won’t let me in. I think this is why:

I don’t drive a white Audi Q3 ( and I don’t barge my way into the nearest parking spot to the door with it)

I don’t have blonde hair complete with extensions carefully arranged on top of my head in a ‘messy bun’ that took 45 minutes to achieve 

I don’t have a weekly spray tan

I don’t wear Ugg boots and a Barbour jacket on ‘scruffy days’

My children aren’t dressed head to toe in Hatley or Oilily upon arrival at nursery 

I don’t obsessively buy every new range from Next for my kids’ play wear 

I don’t own one of those awful plastic Ted Baker bags or the matching flip flops

Yeah, I think that’s about the crux of it. 

I’ve though about it and concluded that even if I rectified some of the above in an effort to join the Nursery Mums Gang, I still don’t think they’d let me in (or if they did they’d soon chuck me back out) because they’d realise I don’t give two hoots about keeping up with them. It must be exhausting being so competitive and constantly checking what your ‘friends’ are buying to make sure you don’t lag behind. I just couldn’t be bothered with it. We’re mothers for crying out loud, not Mean Girls. (Although I’d love to be a Mean Girl – “If you’re from Africa why are you white?”)

I’d seen comedy sketches poking fun at competitive school mums before I became a mum. I particularly remember a French and Saunders one many, many years ago about mums pulling up to school in increasingly bigger 4×4’s, until Jennifer Saunders turned up in an actual tank, haha. I had no idea how absolutely realistic the basis for those sketches really were. 
 

Ready to face the Mean Girl mums
 
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no crunchy mum myself. I like to wear a lot of make up, I have manicures and wear a Biba leopard print faux fur jacket for the nursery run. My kids sometimes wear expensive clothes but only when I happen to like those clothes and not because I buy them solely based on the brand or price tag or because that’s what all the other mum’s are dressing their kids in. My kids wear cheap clothes too, it just depends what I like. 

 

These outfits cost £7 each. Don’t tell the Nursery Mums.
 
But it’s not the members of Nursery Mums Gang’s penchant for semi-designer brands or their competitive nature when it comes to image that gets my goat. They can wear what they want with as much gusto as they can muster for all I care. And when they dress their kids, I’m sure they’re putting them in clothes that they like, just as I am. But what really grates on me is their completely obvious disdain for anyone who doesn’t fit in with them and also how pathetically clique they are. They don’t even try to hide it. They never EVER crack a smile for me, even if I’m giving them my biggest beam-face. They talk about socialising knowing I can hear but have never suggested I join them for their coffee mornings, even in a polite, through gritted teeth, we’re-inviting-you-but-please-don’t-come sort of way. If I try to chime in when they’re chatting I’m either ignored or curtly given a one word answer. 

Is it just me this is happening to or is the bitchy Nursery Mums Gang a common phenomena? 

When I moaned to my husband about it he offered me a simple explanation. ‘Maybe they just don’t like you.’ Yes. Maybe. Except they don’t know me, so any dislike is based solely on my appearance. How dare they take against the faux fur like this?!

Anyway, I don’t mind not being in the Nursery Mums Gang. I doubt I’d have much in common with them. There’s a dad who does the drop offs and pick ups in his battered old Ford Fiesta and a mum who’s a P.E teacher that comes in a tracksuit and I’m in a more subtle (but way more cool) gang with them. We don’t loudly arrange Tapas evenings or compare our Michael Kors watches in the corridor (yes, both of those things actually happened) but we do have little chats about how our children are getting on and how good the BBC adaptation of War and Peace was. They’re much more my cup of tea and I’m thinking of arranging a bigger and better Tapas evening with them anyway. 

Screw you Nursery Mums Gang!

Can Cook, Won’t Cook (Very Often) (Project 366 – Day 33)

  

I really envy those people that find cooking therapeutic/satisfying/fun or whatever. To me it’s just a chore. When I put my mind to it I’m not a bad cook, I just find it so dull and feel like my time could be better spent elsewhere, rather than in the kitchen, so I usually take the easy option and cobble together fail proof meals that take minutes rather than hours. Old faithfuls like cottage pie and spag bol. 

But once in a while I will make a complicated Middle-Eastern rice dish or an Algerian favourite of my husband’s, such as the dish in the photo above. It’s my husband’s absolute fave and it actually tastes a lot better than it looks or sounds. 

The main ingredients are 1 small onion, 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, 3 chicken pieces on the bone, 3 medium potatoes, 2 eggs and usually chick peas (but I didn’t have any in so I missed those out). 

First of all the onion is chopped, the garlic is crushed and they are lightly fried in olive oil in a medium sized pan. Then the chicken is added to the pan for a couple of minutes, along with salt, pepper and ground mixed spice to taste. Water is then added – just enough to cover the chicken – bring to the boil and then simmer for around 20 minutes. 

This is the weird part (well I think it is) – while that is going on peel the potatoes and cut into chips. Sprinkle with salt and then fry in oil (or use some other healthier method). Once cooked transfer to a frying pan and pour 2 whisked eggs over them. Then fry. (Yep, you are making a chip omelette. Told you it was weird.)

Once the chicken is cooked throw the chip omelette into the pan and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Once it’s dished up some fresh lemon juice really adds to the flavour. 

I know it sounds odd to our sensible British pallets but it’s actually pretty tasty, honest. Calorie-wise we’re probably talking thousands though so be warned if you ever happen upon this dish. (Highly unlikely unless you’re planning a trip to Algeria!)