Dick (head) Whittington Having It All

There is something about maternity leave that makes me want to reassess my existence. Having a baby is obviously earth shatteringly life changing, so I suppose it is to be expected that you stop for a second, wipe baby sick from your hair, remove the baby shit from the walls and wonder how the bloody hell you got to hate Eamon and Ruth so much and how soon you will need to arrange that christening to ensure your baby will get into the only outstanding school in the borough. (The answer to that last question is always Pretty Damn Quick, even if your baby is fresh from the uterus. It’s so bloody competitive and church schools always require for you to be on afternoon tea term with the vicar/priest. So cynical and so horribly true)
As the end of my maternity leave with James approached, in January 2015, I did enough naval gazing/night feeds to decide that life needed to change. Specifically, I decided it was a really great idea to learn to drive, join Slimming World (I was a monster chubster almost 12 months after giving birth) and look for a new job all at the same time. Because having a 1 year old and working clearly wasn’t enough to keep me busy/stressed to the max.
I absolutely hated the job I was doing and going back to work floored me. Not necessarily because I desperately wanted to be with my baby. Hell, I’m not Ma Walton! The job completely drained me and I was, quite frankly, shit at it. By the end of my first week back in work, I was applying for jobs internally. Within 6 weeks, I was starting a new, much less soul destroying job, which happily included more money. By the end of 2015, I had passed my driving test (Christ knows how. Google Maureen from Driving School and you will get the idea), lost two stone, changed jobs, sold the house and was pregnant again (and well on my way to piling that two stone back on and a bit more, besides. I don’t believe in doing things by half). Last year was pretty busy. This year has been a bit quieter, arrival of baby number 2 aside, but now I’ve adjusted to life as a mum of two (hahahaha! who the f@^k am I kidding?!), once again I am reviewing the last 33 years and 8 months and realising it’s high time I Got My Shit Together™. You know, like a proper adult.

All my life I have wanted to write. I don’t know what about. I love books and words (I use far too many) and imagination. Once upon a time, I thought writing meant journalism but, it turns out, being relatively passive means you are pretty lousy journalist. Journalists, good journalists, don’t just want to write. They want to uncover the truth, they want to learn and they want to educate others, not just happily tap away and hope to avoid confrontation. I was dreadful so I abandoned my ambitions a year into my journalism degree and instead plodded on at uni, getting drunk and racking up another few grand worth of debt to avoid being a grown up for another year or two. When I did have to grow up and get a Proper Job™, I worked in finance for local authorities and banks. Which is where I am currently on the payroll.  My job now is fine but it’s not where I ever visualised myself and it’s not where I want to see out my working days. I have recently found blogging and it’s reignited my burning ambition to write. It’s also helped me feel like a person again, after motherhood knocked the wind out of my sails a little. I’d like to see where it goes. But, having two young children, do I really get a say in what I do or should I just get on with paying the bills and ensuring my humans are fed, watered, educated and emotionally supported? It feels like the answer is no, I don't get a say. My choice has gone and I need to suck it up, ditch the pipe dreams. The petulant child in me, however, refuses to accept that answer.
Mumsnet Blogfest, a conference in London for bloggers to network and learn, somehow came onto my radar a few weeks ago, whilst I was dicking about on Twitter.  Probably at a time when I should really have been making sure my toddler isn’t poking my baby’s eyes out or feeding him grapes. Going to Blogfest looked an amazing opportunity for me to actually figure out what I am doing with this blogging thingy. But I daren’t even mention it to Rob, let alone suggest I go.
My house is nothing short of insanity. On days at home with both kids, I find myself stuck on repeat; “gentle with your brother”, “calm down”, “stop jumping on that”, “don’t throw that,” “no!” I’m fairly sure a day at my house, and Gandhi would lose his shit. Blogfest requires me to leave Liverpool Lime Street at 5.45am and arrive back at 9.35pm. I could not leave Rob alone with the kids for THAT long could I? Not if I wanted the house still standing and for my husband not to be rocking in the corner, crying, upon my return.
I should make it perfectly clear that Rob is a hands on dad. He works six days a week but he still does night feeds, he changes nappies, he does bath time, he does bedtime, he cooks, he cleans…. Actually, what the f^@k do I do?! My grandad marvels at Rob’s parenting skills; “How do you know how to change a nappy, Rob?! Men in my day never knew how to change nappies” Funnily enough, grandad, he learned the same way I did. By having a go and hoping for the best. It’s a generation thing, though.
Rob’s probably a better dad than I am a mum. So why do I feel like I can’t go? I’m not breastfeeding. There is absolutely nothing I do that he cannot. The kids will be fed, changed and watered. Rob will probably be stressed to the max but no more than I am on a Wednesday and Saturday, when I am home with the kids and he is at work.  But it is a long ass day. Rob will be with them from the moment he gets up until the moment they go to bed, without me to help. Juggling getting a shower, meal times and their bath time is messy and stressful. (How do you single parents do it?!) Also, we don’t have the money to waste on me dossing about in London for the day, trying to be something I’m not. Blogfest maybe they key to my lifetime ambition. It may just be a massive waste of time and money and, this time next year, I’ll still be writing blogs for no one, like some aging wannabe rock star, playing empty working men’s clubs, convinced his big break is just around the corner. After all, what makes me so different? Who is remotely interested in what I have to say? Can I even write? Lastly, I feel shitty that I am buggering off and leaving my kids when I feel like I should spend every waking minute with them.
Some mums don’t want to leave their kids for a second and don’t leave their sides. But I do. On the odd occasion, I meet friends for dinner. No more than once a month or so. However, I do bugger off each week to do my best impression of a fat Jane Fonda on a sugar rush. I go to bootcamp for two hours on a Wednesday, go the gym twice a week when the kids have gone to bed and run on a Sunday (FYI, I’m still fat) I try and justify this to myself using the words of the great Jillian Michaels of Biggest Loser fame. She once told a mother that it was more selfish of her not to lose weight as she wouldn’t be around to see her kids grow up if she was obese. Whenever I feel guilty, I tell myself that it’s so I can keep up with my boys. That all changes when I see people discussing losing baby weight and I read comments such as “I would rather be with my baby than spend hours in the gym” and I feel terrible. In reality, I don’t go the gym to prevent ill health. I go the gym because I want to lose weight and be a MILF like Beyonce. Me turning into Beyonce is about as likely as Andy Day finally responding to my stalker like tweets and asking me to marry him, therefore, I shouldn’t be down the gym. I should be spending time at home. I know my babies won’t be babies for long. I know that they need me. I shouldn’t go the gym and I definitely shouldn’t be mincing off to London to chase a pipedream, like Dick bloody Whittington.
Most women of my mum’s generation stayed at home or were dinner ladies or part time secretaries.  Be it through choice or, perhaps, expectation, they were happy to do that. Or so it seems. I am not knocking those choices so why aren’t I happy with that life? I don’t really recall my mum going out or having a hobby of her own. Everything was me and my brother (and what a delight we were, I’m sure) I am horribly guilty of looking to others for approval and judging myself by the standards of others. I worry what my family will think if I have my own life. I worry what my friends think. Everyone else is Mother of the Year. Will people think I am terrible for wanting a life for myself? Will people think I am unfit as a mother? Worst of all, will my kids one day end up in therapy because I was an absent mother who never gave them enough time? Will they want to know me?
Yet, what life am I making for myself when the kids do grow up, which everyone always tells me happens all too quickly? What happens when they go to school? When they have friends and girlfriends (or boyfriends)? What happens when they go off to university to get hideously drunk and waste their money like their mother did or bugger off on a soul searching gap year? Do I sit there twiddling my thumbs, hating whoever takes over presenting This Moring on a Friday, because my children were my only interest? Is it so awful to keep some things for me so that when my children have their own lives, I can have mine too? Is it so awful to be vain enough to want to look and feel good about myself by doing regular exercise? Why should I feel like Waynetta Slob’s ugly sister?
The urge to go to Blogfest was too much and I couldn’t stifle it much longer. I had to ask if could go and as I did I burst into tears. I felt hugely selfish. Was it fair on Rob? Was it fair on the kids? But was it fair on me? Happy mum/happy baby and all that.
He was reluctant but essentially supportive. He was clearly nervous about being left alone with our feral off spring. As my husband, though, he wants me to be happy and agreed that I should go. He reassured me that I was a decent mother, that the kids loved me but I felt wretched. I still do.

When I sent a stalker like message to Katie Kirby, the incredible Hurrah for Gin (I effing love her), asking for blogging advice, she replied “Leave your husband with the kids and do Blogfest, why not? It will be good for him” Thank you, Katie. It does feel like the validation I need. It doesn’t make me a bad person. Maybe it will be good for Rob to spend 18 hours of the day with the kids, to show him he can cope, that he’s an amazing dad and that he also has a great support network in our families, who have agreed to chip in.
Motherhood is ALL about the guilt. All of it. All mother’s question themselves about every minor detail. Do any of us really feel like we have 100% made the right decision all the time? I doubt it. So I am going to take my vanity and ridiculous dreams and run with them. I honestly feel like I can’t tell my children to chase my dreams if I refuse to chase my own.
Life is about balance and I am well aware that you can’t “have it all.” Something always has to give. I do find it stressful trying to be a good mum, trying to maintain a house, trying to lose weight, trying to do something I love, trying to earn money and trying not to neglect my marriage. Maybe I shouldn’t try to be super woman. Maybe I should accept being flabby fishwife (and I do fishwife chic exceptionally, effortlessly well). Maybe I should accept doing a job that doesn’t set my world on fire. Maybe I should accept that my house is an absolute shit tip and that I hate having guests because I am ashamed that I can’t keep a show home with two wildlings, ripping the place up. Maybe I should accept that play doh and the ‘Hunks of Cbeebies’ (my Mastermind specialist subject) are my main interests. But what is life without goals? Without an aim to keep you going? Don't we just stop and stagnate?

Like the selfish bastard I am, I am doing my Dick (head) Whittington bit and skipping off to Dat Der London to see what I can see. Perhaps the streets are paved with gold and one day, I’ll be able to say to the boys, “I chased my dreams. It worked. You go out and chase yours and be happy with who you are because you are amazing”. And they are amazing and they are my world. Even if they drive me to cake and the need for ‘me time.’ I just hope they will want me to come home from London. Besides, it’s only for one day.


  1. As you should! Good for you and I hope it's wonderful. I'd delete selfish tho. That word isn't appropriate in the sentence #Stayclassymama

  2. Oh gosh we really beat ourselves up don't we! Your man sounds very supportive and you deserve that! Every man should pitch in like him I am lucky mine does or I would be insane by now! I also applaud single parents it must be so tough. I used to NEVER take time for me. I found myself so burnt out a couple of years ago, I literally couldn't get out of bed one day I was crying and so tired. My mum guilt was eating me alive. Finally I eased into among time for me and started blogging and wow it made huge difference. I had to loose the word SELFISH and funnily enough the more I took care of myself the happier my hubby became and our kids too. My hubby took up bike riding and photography and is loving life so much more, my kids feel more confident to follow their dreams too, my 12 year old gave up dancing even though she was amazing at it and winning competitions because it was no longer her passion and stared art classes and is much happier. So do not feel guilty, trust me when we are happy and being our true selves we are giving our family the best gift ever! Sorry I clearly blab on lol #stayclassymama