Tuesday, 24 April 2012

My not-so-dirty secret

I have a confession to make - one that I have kept from close mum friends for months now for fear of being judged. So here it is. Deep breath. I have gone and got myself a cleaner.
I know, big deal, what's all the drama about? The thing is, I know a lot of my fellow mummys, many who work far more hours than me, don't have a cleaner and still manage to fit in going to the office, feeding, clothing and entertaining their offspring while whizzing round with the vacuum cleaner and giving the loo a jolly good clean. And I only have the one to look after. So why couldn't I?
It is a question I repeatedly asked myself when the little man's daddy proposed that, with a happy boost to our income, we might be able to get some extra help around the house. He was keen to point out that this suggestion wasn't motivated by a desperation to do something about our slovenly home (a wise move) but more that he could see I was struggling to keep up with my various job titles - domestic goddess, high-flying journalist, mummy - and why, when we were lucky enough to be able to afford it, would I choose to do otherwise? After finding myself scrubbing the bath at just before midnight, I reluctantly agreed.
But what would my friends think? Would they judge me, thinking I'm spoilt, or worse, lazy? Actually my friends are all lovely and I'm sure such thoughts wouldn't even enter their heads - in fact, they would be happy for me.
The more I thought about it, the more I realised the person I was afraid of disappointing was me. Shouldn't I be able to do it all? If I admitted defeat, what about when more children came along. How would I cope then if I couldn't now?
But then our fantastic cleaner visited and did in two solid hours what it usually took me all week to do, leaving me free to spend quality time with the little man. I confess it felt rather odd at first having a stranger cleaning up after us but I have got used to this over the weeks and any misgivings were quickly forgotten as I basked in the knowledge that one of my things-to-do had been ticked off the list without me lifting a finger.
I do still feel the occasional prick of guilt but I know that, when I return home tonight after a day's writing, I will find a sparkling home that will lift my heart as I step through the door. And tomorrow, when I would have been polishing the silver, I will be playing with my little boy instead.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Please get in the pram - please

The great thing about being part of a close knit community, as I am lucky to have in the small town we live in, is there are always plenty of other mums to give reassurance when you are faced with a new challenge. My latest one is the pram – he no longer wants to go in it and will kick up quite a fuss when he sees any plans of putting him anywhere near it.
While I can understand that, after months of being taken here and there with no say himself, he is asserting his tiny independence but it wears a little thin when, having abandoned the pram, I end up carrying him halfway to the park with the other half spent running around in circles, examining drain covers and almost treading in dog poo (he did tread in dog poo in the end, and so did I when I tried to stop him treading in dog poo).
When I arrived at the park, red-faced and late, I was greeted by a sympathetic welcome from all my lovely mum friends, each one confessing that they had been through exactly the same and offering suggestions on the best way to tackle it. One admitted getting hold of her daughter’s ankles and yanking her down into a sitting position before she knew what had hit her, while another said that she would let her son walk alongside the pram and when he asked to be carried would insist on continuing the journey on four wheels or not at all.
This was all good advice and much-needed but the best thing I took away was the feeling that I was not alone and it was this that gave me comfort as I spent the evening scraping dog poo off our shoes.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The best way to mash bananas - with a harp of course

Oh to be a child again. They get to do whatever they want (within reason) with none of the restrictions of social niceities and good manners that we adults have to put up with. If the little man has a mouth full of food and sees something else he fancies eating, he will simply push out whatever chewed up morsel is inconveniently in there with his tongue, making room for another tasty treat. Genius. Of course, I will put a stop to this at some point - visions of him spitting out food in front of startled dinner guests when he is married and in his thirties is not the future I envision for him.
And they are not afraid to show their feelings - however public. The other day, we were visiting friends in Wells and making our way down the very pretty high street to have a coffee. Unusually one of the pavements has a small trickling brook running along one side and naturally the little man wanted to get in and splash about. I didn't want him to and gently tried to move us past the temptation which resulted in him lying face down on the floor, crying and refusing to get up. Fair enough, I thought - sometimes he can play in the water, at bathtime and when he is smothered head to toe in waterproofs, and now he couldn't so I felt his frustration. Despite the stares from passersby, I admired my son's unbridled freedom of expression.
But the best example comes courtesy of my friend's little man. She is a professional harpist and one day came into the dining room where she stores her precious instrument to find her three year old carefully pushing a whole peeled banana through the strings. She asked him what he was doing, to which he replied: "Mashing bananas mummy". Obvious really.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Scrummy-wummy yums yums anyone?

I just love the feeling of life coming round full circle that you get when you have a child. It's the delight I get watching my little boy playing happily with the toys that I once took such delight in, or seeing my dad balance him on his knee for I'm the King of the Castle as he did 30-odd years ago with me.
Perhaps the most touching is hearing the little man's daddy gently singing songs to his son that he remembers his mum singing to him. When he wipes his hands after a meal, out comes the special rhyme and instead of tears and tantrums (having your hands scrubbed is not every toddler's idea of a good time) it becomes a fun game with smiles and laughter. There is a reason these things get recycled - they work.
And sometimes it is fun to start your own family traditions. We are coming up with some pretty mean dance routines; each of us developing our own special move. And while referring to wind (and I don't mean the meteorological kind) as windy puffs was great fun when I was five, we call them parpy pops in our house.
But using wobble-dobble to refer to dessert, as in 'Anyone for wobble-dobble?' was a touch of sheer genius by my parents that I don't think I can top. Or can I? Who's for scrummy-wummy yums yums?