Feeling thankful for the ties that bind

Well we’ve reached that ‘weird bit’ in the middle of Christmas and New Year again.

When you stop feeling festive, may be working and try to kid yourself that it really isn’t possible to put on half a stone of flab in a week.

(It is of course and the only way to deal with it is to demolish another box of chocolates and curse the person who gave them to you. It’s all their fault that your skinny jeans no longer fit – obviously!)

When you wake up thinking you must have a night off the booze and find yourself downing a G and T by 7.30pm.

Usually this time of year my thoughts turn to New Year’s resolutions. The ones I didn’t keep last year, the ones I hope I’ll stick to this year and the ones that will probably always be wishful thinking.

It’s also a time for family and good friends of course and how, despite occasionally driving each other bonkers, pondering just how crucial they are to keeping you sane.

Someone wise once said to me that really close friends are often a second family, the family that you choose.

Not that this means you wouldn’t choose your actual family you understand, just that the people you know you’ll always be able to rely on aren’t limited to the ones you’re related to.

Since becoming a mum I’ve realised just how true this is. When we started our little family with Mini-me friends that I’ve known for decades became even more important to me – even if having kids in tow means that literally years can go by between us meeting up.

I know that should I ever need them they’ll be there, no matter what different directions life has taken us in.

But also the new friends you make as a parent, especially when thrust into the scary world of becoming one for the first time, are some of the most important of your life.

There’s no pretence or glamour about discussing the perils of labour, breastfeeding and which bits of you have gone irreversibly saggy, but that’s why the bonds you forge are so quick and so strong.

It’s been less than five years that I’ve known many of my mum friends, but they’ve seen me through not only those sleep-deprived, blurry, wonderful early days, but also a heart-breaking miscarriage and the darkness that followed, a difficult pregnancy and then adapting to life with two and keeping both offspring alive without losing the plot completely.

I really don’t know what I would do without them now and I say a little prayer for them coming into our lives every single day.

So whether they’re living next door to me or hundreds of miles away I think this is probably the perfect time of year to say a massive thankyou.

Thanks for understanding when I want a glass of wine and not a cuppa at 4.30pm on a playdate.

Thanks for picking up Mini-me from school for me when I’m poorly.

Thanks for listening when I need a protracted, disjointed, barely comprehensible rant.

Thanks for pointing out all the good things on days when I can only see the grumbles.

Thanks for making me laugh until my bloody pelvic floor lets me down again.

Thanks in advance for sticking around for the next five years. And the forty after that!

And Happy New Year, of course, to you and yours.

The Highs and Lows of November

When it comes to rubbish months of the year November has to be bottom of the calendar charts.

It’s invariably soggy as hell, with a bit of gale-force wind thrown in for good measure. Brilliant for daily hair disasters.

It’s a reminder that the golden, glory dates of autumn are really behind us, but that Christmas isn’t quite close enough yet to give us a welcome festive boost.

It’s when the dark evenings (or should I say afternoons) start closing in and the school run becomes a MAJOR daily slog.

And it’s when you can actually feel your muffin top growing as you comfort eat yet another bar of chocolate, kidding yourself that: ‘Jumpers hide it…’

Well imagine the joy in the Neat Freak household when you add to this already unbeatable combination two weeks of sickness bugs.

Yes, we’ve been struck down good and proper by the lurgy here. From chest infections to projectile vomiting, we could have provided all the symptoms needed for a compelling episode of Casualty.

The children and I have been largely housebound and slowly going insane. After all there’s only so many times you can watch the Gene Wilder version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (Sorry Johnny, it is better.)

But I have to say that it was undoubtedly the other half who drew the shortest straw when Mini-me threw up in his mouth. No I’m not kidding.

It might make good fodder for her wedding speech at some point but this was little comfort to hubby as he gagged and cleaned his teeth for the fifteenth time in 10 minutes.

Actually more disgusting then the time I resorted to sucking bogies out of Blue-eyed boy’s nose to help him breathe – and we never thought we’d sink to that family low again.

Fortunately I have amazing friends who have kept me smiling by offering to entertain Mini-me on playdates, picking up the odd bit of shopping and bringing me chocolate.

Of course it was actually supposed to be for the school’s Christmas bazaar, but in my defence I really didn’t mean to eat it.

Now health and sanity have been largely restored though and with the start of the festive party season – roughly translated as school mums get blotto down the local – around the corner things are looking up. (As an aside I still think our decision to do secret santa cocktails is genius!)

Plus I’ve also had some very exciting news after being informed that this blog has been selected to be part of the new Mums in the Know Super Blogger Network!

Which must mean more people than just my mother-in-law and BFF and neighbour are reading it. Hurrah – and thanks!

Waiting for Farmer Christmas

Do you often find yourself not so much frazzled but deep fried? As a mum with a toddler who should host her own chat show and a seven-month-old baby boy (who for blog purposes I’m going to call ‘mini-me’ and ‘blue-eyed boy’) I frequently find myself either dozing off during conversations or with my nerves totally shot to pieces.

Add to the mix my job as a journalist and copywriter with a slowly-expanding run-from-home business, all the usual house/life type chores, my other half’s hugely stressful career and my increasingly fleeting attempts to still have some sort of social life and it sometimes all boils down to a recipe for disaster. Or mental insanity.

The kind that even an evening with the West Wing’s Josh Lyman can’t even cure.

But often on ‘one of those days’ either mini-me or blue-eyed boy will drop a little gem of sheer, laugh out loud joy into my day – and those are the golden nuggets that make all the constant juggling and frequent bickering matches worthwhile.

So I thought I’d share a few of my little girl’s recent hilarious soundbites. She might only be three but on good days her material could give Michael McIntyre a run for his money. Of course I’m biased!

  •  Whilst racing home from nursery to shoe-horn in blue-eyed boy’s dinner before snack and bath time – and trying not to think about a looming work deadline which could possibly mean working until the early hours – my daughter suddenly piped up about Christmas. She loves it, as do I. But it turns out we may have some explaining to do when it comes to the Nativity.

‘Mummy I know who’s coming down our chimney – Farmer Christmas!’

  • Mini-me is obsessed with our postman and his red van – probably something to do with her fondness for Postman Pat – but it was only recently I discovered she believes that his work schedule is closely linked to the weather, rather than so-called ‘days of rest’.

‘Mummy the postman won’t be coming today. He doesn’t deliver on sunny days…!’

  • Her three-year-old evaluation of her baby brother being little like she once was, and me and her dad recounting tales to entertain her of when she was very small and explaining her baby photos?  ’Mummy, when I get older I am going to get really small like in the olden days.’ 

Clearly we haven’t done a very good job.

Then there are the general ‘one-liners’ that make me chuckle.

‘Mummy I think it’s time for me to have another birthday party.’

‘This is ridiculous Mummy!’ (Add hands on hips and scowl for full effect).

‘I’ve only got one pair of hands Mummy!’ (Hmm, wonder where she got that one…)