Wednesday, 28 April 2010

I'm finally losing it.

That's it.

I've had enough.

I'm losing it.

Not my mind (that went awol yonks ago) but the pounds.

Yes, I have signed up to a weight loss programme.

Eww, even saying it out loud makes it sound all American and cheesy. Not too much cheese mind, that's fattening.

I've never done a proper plan before, I always thought all that weighing yourself in front of people would be embarrassing more than motivating.

I had visions of a Little Britain style Marjorie Dawes leader shouting 'Come on fatty, time to ditch the baby blubber'.

But I've had enough of wearing clothes I don't like just because of excess squishy bits.

The Goddess may only be four months, and I didn't put on tons of weight with her, it's just the accumulative effect of three kids in a relatively short space of time has racked up.

So starting as I meant to go on I went for a quick power walk with a pal, and strode into the local community centre for the big weigh in.

My friend was nervous because she had lapsed a few weeks and I was nervous because, well, I didn't really know what to expect.

As I stepped onto the scales and looked at my weight in black and white, I felt a bit odd. Or sick to be precise. Crikey! I have got a bit more to lose than I realised. Ok, a LOT more. Hmm possibly, a whole Cheryl Cole.

Somebody pass me a biscuit quick!

As I don't own scales, the weekly weigh in is going to become a big deal every week.

Another friend who is also trying to make herself smaller gave me some very useful advice.

1. Go to the meeting. Every week. Even when you think you've put on.

2. Pasta - don't eat it the day before you weigh in. It is a BEAST of heaviness.

3. Don't wear jeans for weigh in - they're 3lbs of depression.

4. Don't have anything in the house that's not part of the plan.

5. Make a shopping list each week and STICK TO IT.

One, two and five are straight forward. Number three will be easy as I haven't worn jeans since I had Minxy. Number four will be hard because the kids like biscuits.

And so do I. Oh.

I was lamenting about my task to a school mum who diplomatically said: 'But your face is very slim.'

Sadly, I can't wear skinny jeans on my face.

Hmmm, this is going to be a real challenge and I'm totally up for it.

Goodbye maternity clothes and hello hot mama.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

After the party

I'm currently reading Lisa Jewell's latest book After the Party, which is about how a couple's love for each other hits the skids once the kids come along.

Bottles of Bollinger are replaced by bottles of milk, it's more smarties than parties, that type of thing.

As nights out are such a rare occurance, it made me think about what I really missed about my pre-kid life.

Wandering around the shops today, I realised that in my former life this would have been something to relish.

Instead, I do most of my shopping online and when I do hit the real shops, it's a bit of let down as I'm always in a rush. I can scan the clothing rails in a shop at an alarming rate.

Going out was always a big deal, I was hardly ever at home before I had children. Now I'm grateful just to go to local pub, let alone Soho. And when I do venture into town, the logistics are such that I'm exhausted before I've even got on the tube.

Travelling was high on the agenda too, road trips across America, houseboats in India, partying in Thailand.

Now the thought of going to those places fills me with dread. And flying with three under six is just a no no on so many levels for me at the moment. I like to keep all the tantrums contained in the car, but once they're all of an age where it gets a little easier we'll definitely fly again.

But it's not all bad, life is definitely more enriched and the things I put great importance on well, aren't important anymore. But wouldn't it be nice at times to transport yourself back to the glory days

What do you miss most about your life before children?

Monday, 12 April 2010

Not seen and not heard.

We've got a few friends getting married this year.


I love weddings.

But if there is one thing that definitely divides people, it's whether to have children at the event or not.

I used to get offended when we were invited as a couple without the kids. What? They don't want all of us there. Why not?

I thought it spoke volumes about the bride and grooms attitude to children in general. But with the cost of the average British wedding over £20,000 it's understandable that every person costs, however small they are.

There's the other thing that people always worry that children will be too noisy during the ceremony, but most parents would take out a crying infant. Nobody wants to ruin the big day.

However, if you're dealing with a bridezilla, there could be trouble in store.

So what really is the problem? Is it the case that children are seemingly so unruly today that parents can't control them? Or as a society we are becoming less tolerant of kids?

Coming from a large West Indian family, not having children at a wedding is practically a cultural no no. Ditto The Boy who is Jewish. Frankly, it's unheard of and a bit alien.

Kids were part of our wedding even before we had our own, and we gave parents the option to leave their darlings at home if they so chose. We certainly didn't have NO KIDS printed in bold on the invite.

I do believe there is a element of your roots involved. I think our continental cousins are much more relaxed about this sort of thing. Ever seen an Italian or Greek wedding without children?

There is the argument that you get the chance to let your hair down without the little ones, but sorting out babysitting can be real headache especially if the wedding is far away and you need to stay overnight.

On one hand, we've taken the children and have spent half the time running after them outside of the venue (missing the ceremony), stiffling cries, carrying a suitcase load of snacks and toys, and changing bums in child unfriendly venues. Not relaxing.

Then there have been the times where we're dancing with the children, laughing and watching Minxy's face as she admires the bride in pure wonder.

The weddings we've been to without children (or very few at least) we're lovely. And quiet!

You also get those who didn't want kids at their wedding, but then once they have their own family they get upset when their offspring isn't invited to other people's ceremonies. Can't have it both ways.

I'm all for a bit of noise (not screaming during speeches mind) and kids are part of the celebrations. Besides a bad drunk is way worse than a crying child in my books. Horrible behaviour can come from adults too.

One thing's for sure, it can definitely be deal-breaker amongst friends. My sister told me about two mates who fell out over the bringing of children to a wedding. Five years on they still don't speak now. Ouch.

As it stands, we can't make all of the weddings because some are abroad, so enjoy the peace friends!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Baby love

The Goddess is just over three months now and is a total doll.

She's rolling over, trying to sit up (yes, straining to sit upright out of her bouncer chair) and she's now in the next age range of clothes.

I am absolutely gutted.

She's definitely the final chapter of our family, and when I was pregnant I kept saying to people that although I was really excited about another child, I equally couldn't wait to shift all the gear that comes with a new arrival.

I kept thinking, one day there will be no more plastic toys, no more battery operated items, no more baby gyms, no more high chairs, buggies, cots, the list went on.

So why as I put on her new clothes aged 3-6 months was I lamenting the fact that she was growing so fast?

In a weird way I was sad. Nobody will ever be 0-3 months in this household. She barely even wore some of the items. Obviously I'll be keeping the good stuff for memories, but I didn't expect to feel like this.

Sometimes in the thick of motherhood you forget that it can whizz by in a whirly fog of sleepless nights and grunt work.

I'm treasuring The Goddess because she is the last, but I can certainly see how other women go on to have more and more children almost in an attempt to keep recapturing that lovely, warm glow that is a newborn.

It's like you want to bottle that moment in time, but it's so fleeting, that you need to do it again.

There are no plans for a fourth child. We're spent. In every way. I'm from one of six siblings and as much as I love coming from a big family (and admire and respect my parents), I want to enjoy the children I have.

But do you ever really stop feeling broody?

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The bombshell

Most of the time you're bobbing along, happy in the little bubble that you call your life.

Then along comes a bombshell that snaps you out of your dream-like state and literally rocks your world.

My beautiful niece has been diagnosed with leukaemia.

She is four years old.

When I received the news in a text message, I gasped so loudly Minxy asked me what was the matter.

I muttered 'nothing' as I put on a brave face and served up tea, but she knew from my eyes that something was desperately wrong.

It's funny the things that race through your mind when you hear bad news. My initial thoughts were to find out more information, then how would I tell the children, what could I do to help on a practical level, then after that it was all a bit of a blur as I tried to get my head around the situation.

The last time I saw her was just before I had The Goddess. She's a gorgeous, clever and funny girl with deep brown eyes and smile that you know gets her away with murder.

Half of our Easter Sunday was spent visiting her at The Royal Marsden hospital, which specialises in the treatment of cancer.

Chemotherapy has already begun, and the poor poppet has already undergone a wrath of invasive tests. She looked glassy-eyed, but we saw a few smiles and we explained to the children that she was in special hospital that was trying to make her better.

I wasn't going to blog about this, but family members urged me that I should and that people should know the symptoms of the type of leukemia my neice has, which is acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Individually the signs and symptoms could be something your child has from time to time, but put together and it could be altogether more serious.

Signs and symptoms seen most often in childhood acute lyphoblastic leukaemia

Anaemia causing:
Fatigue and limited capacity for exercise

Low platelet counts, causing:
Brusing within the skin
Bleeding from mouth or nose and blood in the stools or vomit

Low numbers of normal white cells, high numbers of abnormal cells and high metabolic rate, causing:
Persistent infections

As it stands she has a 80 per cent chance of survival and the cancer hasn't spread to her brain which is really positive news, but every day takes the family into the unknown. Which frankly is a scary place.

The past 10 days has certainly put my life into perspective. The tiredness, the tears and the tantrums pale into insignificance when those your love are seriously ill.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

It's war!

What a week it's been for us mothers. We're being judged from all corners.

It began with the French philosopher Elisabeth Badinter telling us that having babies has oppressed women. In an interview with the Times she said: "The baby has become a tyrant despite himself,".

According to Badinter the pressure to breastfeed, make your own baby food and use washable nappies has disempowered women.

In her new book Le Conflit, La Femme et La Mère (The Conflict, The Woman and The Mother), She sees these as chains around your neck and reckons if we ditched the boob for the bottle, feed your dearest with jars and just used disposables, we'd be a lot more liberated.

She goes onto say that as women we're torn because we're the L'Oreal generation ('Because we're worth it) and then have to ditch all that 'me, me, me' and give ourselves over to the baby, therefore losing our identities.

Her views are pretty radical, but she does touch on some real issues. I've done all the things she says oppresses us, but you have to find a balance and do what is best for you and your family.

Can't breastfeed and have really really tried (I mean past the cracked nipple stage)? Then give your baby formula.

Diligently made every meal from Annabel Karmel's recipe book, only for baby to spit it out time after time? Then jars have their place. You know they cost more in the long term, but if it saves you endless feeding battles and wastage, then they're Ok.

Washable nappies take time and effort. I know, I tried them. To be fair, it wasn't that hard. But I was so exhausted and fed up with the daily grind of baby, I just couldn't hack it.

But does this make me a loser? I don't know, but what I do know is most mums are out there trying to do their best for their kids. And that seems to be the problem.

Journalist Lucy Cavendish reckons it's war out there when it comes to the mummy stakes. It seems that the knives are out and us women are our own worse enemy.

She says constant competition is partly to blame. There's also the stay-at-home mums vs working mums, older vs younger mums, childfree women vs mothers. It's tough times. Are you prepared for battle?

I've been both a working mum and stay-at-home mum (currently on maternity leave) and both are hard for different reasons, but I think the whole argument (a very Western and middle class one) is futile. There's no point in berating each other. I know that, and you know that, so why is this debate still raging?

The landscape of motherhood has changed completely over the decades - a whole industry has been created for You and Your Child. And looking at the books I have purchased over the years, I've definitely bought into it. Instinct. Where's that then? Oh, there's probably a book about the subject.

Modern parenting has become a total minefield, but putting on your war paint and armour and fighting other women isn't going to help change things. A whole change in societal attitudes is needed but I can't see that happening any time soon.