Posts Tagged ‘being a mum’
DH writes from a conference he’s at in the south of France (I know, seriously, the south of bloody France): “Hi darling, how are you?”
Me, from home: “Glad the week’s over. How about you?”
DH sends me a couple of photos of the view from his room: “I’ve just checked in. That’s my view.”
I’m looking at the photos – they’re all palm trees, Art Deco architecture and bright blue Mediterranean Sea. I can even see a cruise ship anchored offshore in one of them.
Me: “Looks gorgeous. It’s been a tough week; I’ve been working till 11 every night. Obviously up at 5.50am to do the school run. Can’t wait for you to get back.”
DH writes: “Oh, hold on. Got to go, they’ve just told me I’m moving to a suite…”
Messaging resumes the next day – Saturday.
DH: “Hello, conference is finished. Suite’s gorgeous! I’m sitting in Cannes old town, having a beer. So what are you up to?”
Me: “Oh you know. Usual Saturday. Screaming loud kids’ birthday party. Now I’ve just dragged two bickering children round the supermarket, fighting with them all the way. When are you back?”
DH: “After the weekend.”
How unbelievably chuffed you’d be when someone else’s child likes your cooking so much they have seconds.
How important it is for a seven-year-old to have a sticker book.
How much time you’ll spend shopping for and wrapping up birthday gifts for other people’s children.
How travelling somewhere by plane changes from being a pleasure into a form of slow torture.
Why your parents told you certain lies.
How much love your heart can hold.
How much it’s possible to achieve in one child-free hour.
How wonderful a glass of wine tastes when the children are in bed.
And, finally, how your children can drive you craaazy by day but then, when they’re sleeping, overwhelm you with so much love you want to wake them up just to kiss them.
I sometimes think of my life as a champagne fountain.
And, while I’d like to imagine that means it’s glamorous, sparkling and pleasurable, the reality has nothing to do with fun and everything to do with the balancing act that’s required to stop the whole precarious creation from toppling.
I pack so much into my days, from 6am to 10pm, that there’s not a lot of room for leeway. Take out a glass in the middle of the fountain – in other words, sabotage a 12pm appointment by turning up 10 minutes late – and the whole day topples like dominoes.
Those women (and I know a few), who, when you ask them what they’ve got planned for the day, say “Oh, I might go back to bed after the school run”, or “Maybe I’ll download some more games on the iPad” – those women? We are a different species.
But other mums I know liken their lives to spinning plates on sticks – dashing from one stick to another to stop the whole lot from crashing down. I understand that because I once had it, but I don’t really feel it since I stopped working full-time.
Other days I see myself as a swan, gliding gracefully along a river with my head held high, but paddling like mad underwater where no-one can see that my little yellow legs are struggling against the current (do swans pant? I’ve been known to pant).
And on really bad days I see myself as a tiny little spider trying desperately to climb the inside wall of a wet highball tumbler; forever sliding back down to the bottom just before I reach the rim. But, to be honest, that only really happens on the days when I’m trying to have a civil conversation with our bank .
Victoria Beckham suffers from, according to the Daily Mail, “mum face”.
And, by that, they don’t mean the kind, care-worn face of a loving parent, but a knackered one, aka dark circles under her eyes, grey skin and a gaunt look.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels a flicker of sympathy, especially when I look in the mirror myself. Admittedly, I don’t jet around the world with four kids in tow, run a fashion empire and keep a fit footballer interested – but I do drive around Dubai (hundreds of kms a day sometimes), write a blog, work part-time, keep a gorgeous husband interested and do an awful lot of cooking (which I’m sure La Becks does not).
Anyway the dear Daily Mail went on to suggest how to “banish mum face” using products, treatments and diet (obviously for VB, the answer is to eat more chips, stop taking transatlantic flights like we do taxis, and use birth control from now on).
But I feel I should tell you how I’ve been combating “mum face” myself in the last few weeks. There has been some improvement in the “crumpled” look I have in the mornings, a definite reduction in eye puffiness, and increased radiance.
The question is, which action has been the most effective?
1) Facial acupuncture – I’ve now completed four appointments. While I’m beginning to hate being pricked with 30 needles once a week, I do enjoy the extra nap-time and I think the acupuncture is responsible for the new lack of puffiness around my eyes, as well as the added radiance due to better circulation. My Chinese doctor asked if I’d seen any “lifting”. I didn’t think I had. But maybe it’s subtle.
2) Not drinking water late at night – It was always my “thing” to drink buckets of water before bed, to dilute all the Sauvignon, natch, and prevent a hang-over. But the lovely Chinese doctor explained that drinking a litre of water before bed was probably contributing to my eye puffiness as the kidneys can’t deal with all the liquid while you’re asleep so it gathers in places most likely to be spotted by Daily Mail paps. I stopped drinking loads of water at night. I don’t have puffy eyes in the morning anymore.
3) Taking Perfectil vitamins – They’re supposed to give you good skin, hair and nails. I’m a great believer in working from the inside out, but I keep forgetting to “take with main meal”. I do wonder if “take with large glass of wine” achieves the same result.
4) Changing my blusher – It’s Bobbi Brown who got me onto this. As a girl who’d used a brown-toned blusher for years, it was a revelation to me how much younger a pink-toned blusher will make you look. I made that change about eight years ago. This month, I switched to an even more pink-toned blusher. I got lots of positive comments along the lines of, “You look amazing. Have you changed your hair?” and “Wow, you look really well.” Heh, heh.
I do suspect, though, that the best thing I can do for anti-aging is to give up wine. And, my dears, I can tell you now, that’s not going to happen. How pink-toned do you think a blusher can get?
Obviously we mums love our kids more than anything. DD and DS inspire in me the kind of love I never thought possible before I had children; that sort of tigress love, where you know you would do anything – and I mean anything– to keep your children happy and healthy.
But that doesn’t mean to say being a mum doesn’t have its frustrations. Here are five of mine:
- Having to shout “Sorry? Say that again?” down the phone 25 times in a two-minute phone call because both your children just have to speak to you at that one exact moment when you’re on your only phone call of the day.
- Finding and paying over the odds for imported yoghurts only to have the children open them but not finish them.
- Wanting five minutes to do something with your hair and makeup before going out for dinner, only to spend those precious few moments reading a third bedtime story as the taxi hoots outside.
- Running around with forkfuls of food after a toddler who won’t sit in a high chair yet is still too little to sit still at a table either (yes, this is DS right now).
- That moment when your littlest one calls you at 5.45am on a weekend morning and you know you won’t get any more sleep for at least another 17 hours.
Would love to write more but I’m going to take advantage of the children being in the park with Gerlie for five minutes to try and do something with my hair before going out for dinner….
Some days, I wish I could count the number of times my children said, “Mama?” or “Mummy?” in that urgently questioning tone of voice. It doesn’t even matter if you say immediately, “Yes darling?” with a smile because there’s always a second “Mama?” right behind the first one.
Sometimes I feel like telling them they’ve got 50 “Mummy?”s a day and after that I don’t hear them.
Anyway, aside from the “Mummy?”s, here are the other things I heard a lot today. And hear every day for that matter:
“I HATE this. I never want to eat it again!”
“And I’m really not eating the red bits.”
“Mummy, I’ve really had enough.”
“I really don’t feel like fruit.”
“Mummy, I need a poo!”
“WHY do I have to do spellings? Can’t I do them tomorrow?”
And my favourite:
“Mummy? Huggee?” (that’s DS pulling my heartstrings).
And here are the things I find myself repeating like a robot:
“Sssh-sssh. What happened? Which bit hurts? Can you move it like this?”
“Why didn’t you eat your lunch?”
“I’ll have to throw it away. It’s such a waste.”
“Come on, let’s do your spellings.”
“Come ON! Teeth! Now!”
“NOW! Move it!”
“Listen to me!”
“STOP it! Leave your brother (sister) alone!”
And, on a positive note:
“I love you too. You’re my favourite (daughter / son) in the whole, wide world.”
Oh the joys. Feel free to add your own.