Thursday 27 May 2010

Til Death Do Us Part?

Children change a marriage. Completely and permanently. They change who we are as individuals and therefore who we are as a couple. They affect how we see each other and how we are with each other. You can't tell me that The Husband still looks at my frou-frou in the same way as he did before he saw my daughter's head coming out of it. Children throw a solid marriage into turmoil. I do not understand couples who have children to bring them closer because clearly this is not the case. I have never felt such annoyance, exasperation, infuriation and, occasionally, resentment towards The Husband until after the birth of each child. And I'm sure he has felt the same way about me (I had to write that in case he's reading this).
The Husband, as you know, is very important in the Working World. But at home he often lacks Common Sense. Don't get me wrong, he is very helpful around the house - he does all the jobs that I refuse to do such as packed lunches and hoovering, without complaint. But when it comes to the day to day management of the children he doesn't have a clue. Oh yes he is very good at running around outside with a hose in the midday sun but will never remember to apply lotion to his little funsters. I agree he is just brilliant at taking them to their activities like swimming but often forgets the costumes. He is superb at driving The Tweenager to a sleepover but sends him without his pyjamas and toothbrush.
Add to this lack of Common Sense, three very demanding children and a Mother trying to hold it together and you have A Nightmare On Marriage Street. Having a child is like planting a bomb in the middle of your marriage and when the dust settles everything is different to how it was before.
I love The Husband dearly and he loves me, but nothing tests us like having children together. The kids wear us out quicker than they wear out their shoes. At the end of a crazy day the last thing I (and probably he) want to do is rekindle our romance, put some effort into our marriage.
I am not a fan of spending time together away from the children to nurture our vows. If we have to go out then I would much prefer to go to the cinema or go out with another couple. That way we can avoid any sort of awkward silences mid-conversation, even though all we probably do is talk about the kids. Our marriage works because we have an unspoken agreement that in the evening I watch my crappy American shows and he spends time with Miss Laptop, his square headed girlfriend.
Oh I'm sure he has a lot to put up with too. My breasts have turned into pitta breads and the only thing Brazilian on my body is the rainforest between my legs. I am moody and selfish. I spend money on clothes and hide the evidence. I pretend I am interested in his day. But saying that, I love The Husband for putting up with me and when he comes home the kids are still alive - so I'm fulfilling my side of the contract.
I just adore being married, it's so great to find that one special person you can annoy for the rest of your life.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Naptime Is The New Happy Hour

Forgive me, I've not written in a week. I don't know where the time goes - but blame it on the sunshine. I don't want to be on my computer when I can be out in the garden with a gin&tonic whilst The Toddler sleeps and the other two are at school. Yes I know I shouldn't be drinking in the daytime but I've come to realise that being ever so slightly drunk makes me a better mum. And these days it only takes one drink to render me lightheaded, giddy and, well, FUN. All the jollity I have had recently with the kids is when I am marginally tipsy. I'm hardly ever Fun Mum when I am sober.
Now the reason for this is that I haven't been very well. I have been suffering from a serious condition called Growing Up. I think I have finally reached the point in life where I am trying to be content with my lot. I am no longer going to blame the children for my 'where is my past life' dysfunction. A key to success is to constantly move forward, or so I am told.
God, listen to me - I need a drink.
Ministry Of Mum is a firm believer in Mothers Who Dabble In Minor Debauchery. Whether it be restrained daytime drinking, the odd swear word, few ciggies, sex toys (god forbid!), bit of shop lifting or good ol' plain bitching - I will give my blessing. It's so hard to feel free being a mother that the odd self gratification here & there can only contribute to making better mums. I fully experience the joys of motherhood when the children are in bed and I have a drink/cigarette/free lipgloss/good piece of gossip to hand.
As you know, I have three children. None of which were a drunken accident. They were planned and they are much loved. That being said, I refuse to believe that I don't bloody deserve a few minutes to take a shower, do a poo and have a goddamn phone conversation. Some days I am living a dream and a nightmare at the same time. So if I decide to enjoy inconsequential recklessness to ease my frustrations then so be it - it's better than running away. I hope my blog inspires you to be the most honest version of yourself as a mother. It's the hardest job in the world and some catharsis is necessary, whatever form this may take.
For Health & Safety reasons I must stress that I am encouraging such revelry IN MODERATION. I am talking freedom within a framework. Getting totally plastered at lunchtime then going up the school is not a good idea, neither is smoking a fag whilst chatting to the health visitor. Please limit your indulgences but take pleasures without feeling guilty! It will make you a more delightful person and your children will thrive!

Tuesday 18 May 2010

Generation Tech

Just about every family I know owns a Wii, XBox, iPhone, PSP, Ninetendo DS etc etc. All of these or a combination of these. We do not own any of these. And I would bet a million pounds that The Tweenager (aged six) is the only kid in his class whose household doesn't have these, that's shocking-yeah? But shocking because he's the only kid starved of technology or shocking that 29 of his peers have been given an expensive gadget for birthdays and Christmas? It's all down to me - I'm having a hard time separating the intelligence of this technology from the laziness it brings and I pretty much agree with JK Rowling: "Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain".

On one hand I accept that the planet is going digital and it's probably going to divide me from my children eventually. I'm clueless about the technical world they will inhabit. But I don't want to submerge them in gadgets and virtual games when just plain reading a book or playing in the garden brings just as much fun. They're children! There's plenty of time for them to get tech-savvy in the future. They like paper books. They like building dens. The scariest thing is that The Tweenager is going to be surpassed by The Toddler who will experience the world in a radically different way. The Toddler will view all those gadgets as everyday household objects. I understand this, but it frightens me to think that The Toddler will "know nothing other than a world with digital books, Skype video chats with faraway relatives and child-friendly video games on the iPhone".

The other day my friend said that they'd had a fun Sunday morning playing bowling with the kids on the Wii. We had actually taken our kids bowling that same day. I can't get my head around bowling or bike riding on a computer - just take your kids out! And I can't stand it when children are inside on the computer when it's nice weather outside. We live in England! Sunny days are few! So kick the kids out with a ball. Children are getting so much information all day long that they are losing the ability to amuse themselves and just play.

Alright, alright I'm not totally against technology - I'm just in a mood because I can't get an iPhone for another fifty years (stupid O2 contract) but I don't want to invite the negativity into our home that these computer games seem to bring. I've seen kids crying because they can't get to the next level, I've seen the competitiveness it brings, I've seen The Tweenager's friend ignoring him for hours because he was so enthralled in the DS. And the other day we were out for dinner and although it was a nightmare with the kids behaviour, I would much rather that than the table next to us whose four children each had their heads in their PSPs.

Ha Ha get me mouthing off today- but better to be on soap box than Xbox, right???

Thursday 13 May 2010

It's Not 'What If' But 'What Now'

So this is blog number 30. And it's 10 years since I was 30. Everything was so much different back then. The Husband and I were having serious fun (and conversation), there were no children, minimal responsibilities and life seemed so much more, well, carefree I suppose. I don't mind growing older but growing up is another story. I am just getting my act together at the point when my body and energy levels are falling apart.
I suggested yesterday that it might have made more sense to have had children in my teens, that way I would be done by now. But I wouldn't want to be one of those people who discover their lost youth in their 40s. I had a great life B.C. (before children) and I wouldn't change a thing if I'm honest. Except to maybe not have had children - ha ha only joking (but think of the holidays and the lie-ins! It's tempting, isn't it?). So the thing is, I am washing my hands of the past. It's a good place to visit from time to time but I've decided to get over the craving to live there.
The new policy at the Ministry Of Mum is to LIVE IN THE PRESENT. Embrace what is happening now, instead of planning for the future or looking with nostalgia at the past. Yes be in the moment - stop striving and give into the now! I'm hoping it will free me of regret and fear.
So I've been conducting a few experiments:
- I have been giving serious thought to getting a dog. An idea which The Husband says is ridiculous, he reckons I can't cope with three children never mind a dog but what does he know.
- I am letting The Toddler dawdle and dally when we're out and about. It's maddeningly boring but I'm hoping it will teach me to enjoy the here and now. (Except he always likes backwards direction the best, this might take me some time).
- I am going to buy things immediately instead of dreaming about owning them. The fact I have no money is not going to deter me, it's essential to my new way of life. But I must mention that this experiment is specifically limited to clothes for me and does not include stuff for the kids or The Husband.
- I am trying to say YES. I whinge about the weather, about sleep, about The Husband, about being skint, but most of all I whinge about my children. So instead I am going to stop fobbing off the kids and learn to say 'Yes' instead. (I'm hoping that the few minutes of playtime with them is an investment for half an hour of relaxation for me).
The new family administration is going well, so far so good. Everybody seems happier with me living in the now. The Husband is not convinced, he thinks it will only be another week before things revert back to the norm. He says moaning about the present is part of my makeup. More reasons to consider that dog. Having a dampener on the carpet is surely better than a dampener on my new regime.

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Does Waitrose Sell Kryptonite?

Pretty much in the same way moths are drawn to light, The Toddler is powerfully attracted to danger. He has an in-built mechanism to always seek it out. For example, anything that we put away carefully and out of reach always ends up mysteriously in The Toddler's hand. This is usually a mixture of sharp garden tools, knives, glass, scissors, hot stuff and poisonous substances. And you can't blame the parents, we have wised up to this inherent danger and keep all threatening things under lock and key. But it doesn't makes any difference to The Toddler.
The other day, we were wandering around the garden quite happily until I noticed that The Toddler had a metal saw in his hand. I immediately phoned The Husband to give him what for but The Husband insisted that he'd left the saw locked up in the shed. I didn't believe a word of it of course. Until I caught The Toddler with a bottle of bleach I'd placed safely on the topmost shelf. At that point I realised something - the human race might be changing. There are people with supertalent or superintelligence like the Williams sisters and Bill Gates. But what if the human race is now evolving into even higher forms and my Toddler is part of the first generation to embody superpowers? There is something in his DNA that enables him to open locks, reach great heights and always stare In The Face Of Danger. Holy eighteen years of trouble, people!!!
So if Toddlers are mutating does this mean that Mothers Of Toddlers will revert in line with them? I hope so. It's getting a wee bit boring doing the same thing day in day out. I could do with the odd special power or crimefight to break the daily grind. Supermum instead of Superman? I think it could work.
But I guess all Mothers Of Toddlers are superheroes already. And even though my alter ego would rather be tripping the light fantastic, there is nothing like a big pair of comfy knickers to remind me that I'm just an ordinary mum. A mum who can do or at least fake everything as my superpower.
Peter Parker realised that "with great power comes great responsibility" and Ministry Of Mum has realised that "with great responsibility comes great Toddler danger and great Toddler danger deserves great wine".

Tuesday 11 May 2010

They're Sure Housework Won't Kill You, But Why Take The Risk?

I don't mind being referred to as a 'Stay At Home Mum' but I will punch anybody who calls me a 'Housewife'. This implies that I keep house and tidy up when my life is dedicated to the challenge of never ever lifting a finger. I belong to the Do Little Not Often School of Housework. I know it's not the best way but with three young children, a VIP Husband, a cat and a blog, something has to give - and with me, it's the housework. Apart from the odd bit of washing up, I pretty much get away with doing nothing. I've just read a quote "It's not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing" and I can assure you that every time I do wash up, I put in much dedication and gusto. There is a lesson about life to be learned from this I'm sure.
Our house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy. I am not going to vacuum until Dyson makes one I can pleasurably ride on. I avoid all forms of arts & crafts as I can't stand the clear-up involved. I will leave birthday cards up for as long as possible because taking them down surely means dusting. I am five years behind in my ironing. Cleaning a house while the children still live here is a pointless activity.
To be honest, The Husband does more than his fair share of housework. But I have to keep it under control because The Husband has the notion that everything he does is very very important. Before long he will be hiring a Cleaning PA, writing Powerpoint presentations on Sweeping and flying off to Housework Conferences in Las Vegas. So it's better all round if he just sticks to weekend hoovering.
My theory is that if it doesn't smell, if you can still see your face in it, if it's not crawling and if you can still eat it then don't clean it. I feel okay about wasting my life hanging out with The Toddler but I am determined not to waste it through housework.
So no, please don't refer to me as 'Housewife'. Desperate, yes, but certainly not Housewife.

Saturday 8 May 2010

The Tomboy, The Toddler and The Tweenager

From this day forward, The Eldest One will be known as The Tweenager.
The definition of Tweenager is "a pre-teenager usually aged 10-12", but the Ministry Of Mum Dictionary extends this bracket to start from age 6. Anybody who has ever been a mother to a 6 or 7 year old Know-It-All will understand where I am coming from. If it's difficult for him being a Tweenager, then he should try being the parent of one. It is certainly no picnic. He is growing fast and I am ageing even quicker.
The Eldest One has, without a doubt, turned from age six to sixteen in a matter of days. I think he is ageing in dog years. By the time I figure him out, he will go and then turn age seven going on seventeen (which I've heard is even worse). I noticed the change after school the other day - the conversation went like this:
ME (enthusiastically): "Hello darling, did you have a lovely day?"
HIM: "Errrrr mmmmmmm did you buy me Match Attax?"
ME: "You could say Hello first, that would be nice."
HIM (shouting in moany voice, pulling a face): "Oh well hello then Mummm!"
ME: "How was your day?"
HIM: "Are we going to the park? Can I have a friend over? Oh no it's not stupid swimming is it...I don't want to go swimming. It's bor-ing. You always make me do things I don't like and I'm tired!"
Funny - he is suddenly too tired to help me with The Toddler or do his homework but never too tired to play football or watch telly or hang out with his mates.
The problem with the Tweenager is that he is just like me as a teenager. He thinks he knows everything about life but really he is just at the start of it. He thinks everything is against him when infact it's all for him. But the main issue is the rudeness. Rudeness comes in various forms such as back chat, bad manners and sarcasm. He has an answer for everything and always has to have the last word. You can say something simple like "Oh it's Saturday" and he will invariably answer "No it's not".
I should take some comfort in the fact that he is only like this for me. If he is at a friend's house, he is usually very well behaved and there are no problems at school. He says he has to let off steam somewhere and I say can't you do this after Dad has come home. He is classic Kevin & Perry: To me: "Owwww that is soo unfair! I'm not your slave!" and to a friend's mum: "Yes Mrs Patterson, no thank you Mrs Patterson".
The Tomboy has started to mimic The Tweenager and I'm sure it will only be a matter of months before The Toddler follows suit. Which means I'll then have to get in on the act. And if you run into The Husband who says I'm already half way there - long lie ins, secret drinking, social smoking and complaining about life don't believe a word of it. He's sooo bor-ing and that is sooo unfair...

Monday 3 May 2010

Never Work With (My) Children Or Animals

It is a well known fact that the more children you have, the less photographs you take of them.
In our house, there are countless pictures of The Eldest One as bump, babe & boy placed lovingly into albums with record of the date and place. The Tomboy has got about half of this, her album stops abruptly after a few pages, around the time she started to walk. Unfortunately The Toddler, being the third child, has got two scans plus four newborn pics and that's about it.
So my new project has been to get some proper photographs done of them - my guilt is then eased and those smiling shots can be hung on the walls showing the happy nuclear family that we pretend to be. At least people that come to the house while the kids are at school will get the impression that they are normal.
My friend, who is a photographer on the side and who hopefully has an idea of our children, agreed to come to the house. I suggested to The Husband that the photos are taken in our garden: "the children in their natural habitat" to which The Husband sniffed: "It would be better in their bedrooms being told off - that's more like their natural habitat".
The children seemed excited by the prospect of having their photograph taken, as it sounded like a fun experience they hadn't really tried before. So we were all geared up except I hadn't considered the variable which is The Tomboy. I thought I was being clever - I took her shopping, she picked out a purple elephant tshirt that she wanted to wear which I also approved of. A win/win situation for The Tomboy and Manipulative Mum. But she wasn't feeling it that day, deciding she hated that tshirt and wanted to wear a Manchester United football kit. Since Donald Trump wrote 'The Art Of The Deal' , he has been considered the world's greatest negotiator, but clearly the man has never met The Tomboy. That book told of great tactics and strategies however it didn't explain how to negotiate with a daughter who wants to dress like a boy. Negotiating with The Tomboy is like trying to swim against the current - it's difficult, tiring and practically impossible. I started with an ideal and ended up with a deal. We agreed that she would wear the elephant tee for three photos only, then I would let her change (hoping that she would get so caught up in the fun, she would forget to count).
Now I didn't realise that placing three young children in the garden and telling them to play while ignoring the camera was inconceivable. The Eldest One stood stupidly staring at the camera while suddenly acquiring a repertoire of poo jokes. The Toddler, within minutes, fell over and badly scraped his nose. The Tomboy (who I suspect pushed The Toddler) took off the elephant tshirt and threw it in the pond. It was one of those situations where a) the kids were not listening to a word I said b) their behaviour was above and beyond anything ever seen on Supernanny c) I had no control whatsoever and wanted to dig myself a hole in the ground.
My friend, bless him, in a very non-judgmental way, continued to click away thus preserving the memory of my childrens' behaviour at that moment in time. Our family legacy on film in case one day I am too old to remember.
The great W.C. Fields clearly was not thinking of my children when he said his famous quote "never work with children or animals" - there is no mention of my kids who are clearly children and animals.