Showing posts with label motherhood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label motherhood. Show all posts

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Sweet and sour

The first time I ever sampled sourdough, I was at a business lunch with a contact in New York during the late 1990s. Mid-conversation, sitting in the chichi restaurant, I remember picking up my diamond-shaped bread roll and taking a nibble. My goodness, I thought to myself, that bread has gone off! 

A loaf of sourdough bread on a table in a garden
Sourdough: 'bread with an old soul'
Picture credit: Will Lam
Perhaps I didn't hide my grimace well enough because my companion smiled and told me that 'sourdough' was a New York speciality. I felt a pang for the French-style bread I might have been given in a London restaurant back home...

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

While the livin' is easy

We got our letter from Boris yesterday. Poor man - I'm sure he didn't imagine he'd end up in hospital himself when he was sitting there, chewing his pencil and wondering what to write. His words - we must slow the spread of the disease and reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment - are steeped in irony. 

Digging in the vegetable patch
Tending to our new vegetable patch
Instead, Dominic Raab is left in charge. Two nights ago on the BBC, he looked faintly queasy at the prospect. Incidentally, he was in the year below us at university so it feels rather odd that he's now our de facto PM - like our generation has come of age. Or a bit like my friend Sarah or Cathy running the country, except Sarah is too busy looking after the children of key workers and Cathy is reading the news. 

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

House frau rules ok

Ever since I gave up full-time work to look after the kids, I've resisted - whisper it - becoming a housewife. The plan, back in 2003 when my daughter was born, was to raise the kids, write novels and freelance. On the whole, things turned out pretty well. Most of the time, I buried my neurosis that I had opted into domestic service. Writing books has brought me fulfilment while also affording me the flexibility to spend lots of time with my kids. As they got older, I've taken on more work.

Sun shining through the daffodils
Sun therapy in the garden helped me feel better
Then along came the Coronavirus. For the first time, our home became both the centre and the outer edge of our world. And who rules over this dominion? Me. During the past few weeks, I have flexed every domestic muscle in my body to keep my family fed, healthy and occupied. 

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Summer blues

As I watched my son lope off to catch his school bus this morning, I shed a tear. It was a discreet tear alone in the car - a quiet acknowledgement that my boy is growing up and that the summer is over. No one saw; I didn't embarrass him.

Two eyes from Blenheim Palace
One eye on the past and one on the future...
On our way to the bus stop, we had overtaken a nervous first year, walking alongside his mum. A whole year has passed since my son set off for his first day at senior school, his face set and his shoulders hunched. 

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Vive l'ind├ępendence!

This time last week I dropped off my 15-year old daughter at school for her French exchange trip. In the dark, lamp-lit morning (4:30am), seeing her onto the school coach felt like a surreal experience. In a haze of orange street-light, I was sending off  into the unknown, to stay with a family I'd never met before. Instinctively, I didn't want to let her go, even though my head was telling me this was a good opportunity for her.

My daughter at ease with her new independence!
On the quiet drive home, I gave myself a stern pep talk. As a good parent, I needed to allow my daughter her independence and the freedom to try out new experiences.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

The power of chocolate buttons

Hermaphrodite Mum
Three kids and a single mum

Little One stamps the pavement outside our house with her new Startrite shoe. "Don't wanna go to school," she wails. "Got no friends."

"School sucks," agrees her older brother, "but you have to go, otherwise the police will come and arrest Mum." 

Sign saying: All you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt

I glance across at him to see if he genuinely believes what he's just said. It appears he does. Wow! Those white lies I used to tell him have still got some mileage. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Game on

"Come on Mummy, you can do it!" Could I though? Could I really? It turned out I could. Hop, skip and a jump along the towpath, ignoring the stares of the more sedate grown-ups out for a walk. That's all there was to it. Yes, I know, we are not talking about rowing across the Atlantic here, but for some reason I seem to have lost the ability to play with my children. Now the summer holidays are upon us, I am struggling to re-discover my inner child.

A boy's feet with a crab in a bucket - crabbing!
Recovering the lost art of entertaining the kids!
A whole year of working freelance, finishing off my novel and squeezing out the odd blog post has left me devoid of play skills (and I mean the physical, get-down-on-the-floor, act-like-an-idiot mode of play). When my kids were little, I wasn't too bad at it. Apart from that first culture-shifting moment at a Monkey Music class in Earlsfield, where I realised that parenthood now required me to sing ridiculous songs and swing my arm like an elephant's trunk, I generally managed to get down to my kids' level in those early years. 

Thursday, 11 February 2016

A woman like Sally

People watching: 
Sally Curson, founder of Face Matters skincare

As I grow older I find myself becoming obsessed with little details such as wiping the kitchen surfaces and tidying away stray felt-tip pens. It is not a trait that I am proud of - in fact I actively fight against this instinct to control and order my immediate surroundings. Somehow it feels so unBohemian, so suburban, and worst of all it implies a disregard for the important things in life.

Sally: 'Focus on the important issues'
Nevertheless, most mornings, my son and I have our habitual disagreement over whether he has made his bed, drawn his curtains and hung up his pyjamas. My daughter, cut from the same genetic mould as her neat-freak mother, never waits to be asked. "But Mummy, I really don't care if my bed is not made," wails my son. "I like it all messy." Still I persist in urging him to follow my rules.

A few weeks ago, I met a woman who takes a different view. Lying on a couch, my face wrapped in warm flannels, I found myself in conversation with Sally Curson, a beauty therapist and founder of the Face Matters anti-ageing skincare range. She gives facials at Fenwicks in Bond Street and runs a successful business selling beautiful, silicon-based products (which I have recently reviewed for my lovely friends at CountryWives). 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Sore losers

Hermaphrodite Mum
Three kids and a single mum

I am packing light for our holidays this year. No more Lego, Connect 4 (travel edition), or interminable Nintendo. All I am taking to Spain for our recreation is a humble pack of cards and an emergency iPad. This is our chance to bond as a family. It'll be fun! We'll chat around the card table and indulge in a bit of friendly banter. As I slip the Disney-themed playing cards into the suitcase, I feel the glow of smug motherdom warming my cockles.

Two children playing cards
No sign of the iPad...
Most of my childhood was spent playing whist and rummy. Tucked away in an old shoebox, I still have the scores from a summer-long contest with my sisters twenty years ago. What a jolly time it was! No need for an iPad back then. We made our own entertainment. I feel secretly gratified that I am about to pass this gift of gamesmanship onto my own children.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Mother of the year

Hermaphrodite Mum
Three kids and a single mum

My voice has gone hoarse. Too much shouting. It's week six and I have cracked. It's a shame cos I was doing so well. Only a few stern words and couple of sarcastic retorts in five weeks. I deserved 'Mother of the Year' and then I went and blew it in week six. Shouting. At the kids. It's official: the summer holidays have gone on too long.

Perhaps it's raining in Majorca?
We were in the supermarket. Middle Child wanted to buy a box of Mini Magnums. I said, no darling - remember we are trying to cut down on sugar, and he said, pleeeese, pretty pleeeese, and I said, HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TELL YOU, THE ANSWER IS NO!!! 

I think the guys stacking the trolleys in the car park heard me. It wasn't pretty. The old lady cruising down the frozen-foods aisle with a trolley full of prunes and Bran Flakes gave me a disapproving stare. I wanted to shout after her, "I've had them at home for six weeks for goodness sake! Give me a break! AND my ex-husband is in Majorca right now with his new girlfriend! She's probably rubbing suntan lotion into his back as I speak." But I didn't. I just put the Mini Magnums carefully into the trolley.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Mummy grows up

Mummies become more confident

I have noticed a new phenomenon over the past few months: the emergence of a woman called Mummy. Everywhere you look online, there are mummies coming out of the closet.

I did a quick scan of my Twitter follows/ers - lots of the women describe themselves as a 'mum', 'mummy' or 'mom'. There is something significant about using the word mummy as opposed to mother - it implies (and publicises) a more intimate relation with your children.


Even those who don't choose to brand themselves as mummies employ descriptions such as 'bedtime-story reader' (again proof of maternal intimacy) or proudly list their children by name. 
In this age of information, Twitter asks us to define ourselves in a capsule and all of these woman see motherhood  - or mummyhood - as an important part of their public identity.