Why I Agree With NI Entering A New Era (finally)

On Tuesday something amazing happened. Northern Ireland entered a new era. An era that others have been experiencing for quite some time now. An era of equal rights! I debated posting this as I am aware that it’s such an emotive topic but, I have to adhere to my mantra of being honest in terms of the blog. I share my opinions weekly so, why not with this too?

Love is love, irrespective of what guise or form it takes. I spent most of my teenage years in the Kremlin (not with Putin for outside readers but, a gay club in Belfast) and I can tell you, these were the best nights ever (despite the horrendous hangovers). Watching my friends feel comfortable and free to be themselves when they felt they couldn’t in any other establishment, was part of this. I realised pretty swiftly that I took it for granted, as a heterosexual, that I didn’t have to hide my identity everywhere I went. We have a same-sex marriage in my family and I am in awe of these two individuals daily. They are a shining example of what a marriage should consist of. They support each other, are loving and share equal responsibility when it comes to their children. All whilst facing scrutiny that I never did. I am a firm believer in live and let live. If it’s not affecting you, why are you bothered? Many have an issue with this but didn’t kick up a fuss when some woman married the Berlin wall. I would rather someone be their authentic self than feel pressured to marry someone of the opposite sex and have children because ‘it’s the right thing to do’. It’s not what’s right, it’s what’s been wrong all along.

Now the second contentious issue- abortion rights. I believe a woman has a right to choose and strongly so. I also believe that more education in schools is essential with regards to contraception and what an abortion entails. Being fully informed is half the battle. Shying away from even discussing it just exasperates something that many find difficult to decipher here. Having an unwanted pregnancy, no money, having to inform your family because of this and then travel to England is a horrendous experience. Knowing that it is illegal here only makes the decision even more difficult. Because it’s all you’ve grown up knowing. To say that it is being used as a ‘form of contraception’ shows nothing but ignorance. Any woman from Northern Ireland who has traveled for a procedure has spent more time than anyone else thinking about their decision. They’ve had to have multiple consultations over the phone, arrange travel and navigate their way there. It’s not just an ‘ok, we’ll book you in tomorrow then’. There is also the cost of paying for the procedure itself which is highly expensive. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and I will always respect others but, I think it’s essential that people are made aware of the actual process when making such a monumental decision. Maybe you are struggling with mental health issues, maybe you have nothing to offer a child at all and maybe you are in a relationship that is just downright dangerous to bring a child into. As I type, there are 3,019 children in care in Northern Ireland. 85,000 children live in poverty and 2,431 are actually classed as homeless. Why don’t we focus the same energy on fostering and adoption? Because, in certain cases, when you have no choice and essentially no voice, this is what tends to happen.

Not everyone will agree with my stance and I fully respect that. The world would be a very boring place if we all had the same opinion right? I mean, mum shamers wouldn’t exist for one thing! Debates are a great thing. Hearing other’s opinions is a great thing. It challenges us to think differently. At the end of the day, we agree or disagree. It’s all good……

Preparing for Back to School Bedlam!

I have been putting off getting uniforms for weeks now. Mainly because I knew how stressful the last time had been with Eldest. This time I would also have to bring Middle too who, rather surprisingly, has obtained a pre school place (for free!). I think I may still be in shock as Eldest never got one. I’m praying that they don’t read this blog and rescind the offer. If so, I’m going to go bankrupt due to nursery fees.

I planned to brave all this tomorrow. But, had royally forgotten that I had another appointment all morning. I also have Eldest’s sixth birthday party to arrange for Sunday. Bar ordering food and party bags, I am very much failing at life with regards to that. So, today it would have to be. As always, I prepared the boy’s for the day ahead. ‘When we all get ready, we will be going to a shop that sells school clothes’. Eldest rolls his eyes and shrugs a bit too over dramatically. I turn to Middle. ‘Owen, you have to also get a nursery uniform for your new nursery. Therefore you will have to try some things on’ I beseeched. He turned from his toast and advised ‘I don’t like you mum’. What?? He continued, ‘because you are a girl and I don’t like girls at all. I also don’t like nanna or anyone’. Charming! I find myself becoming more and more of a feminist these days but, of the BeyoncĂ© kind (more laid back and purely to placate myself). I replied ‘Girls run the world Owen. I will also remember that the next time you ask me for the numerous items of which you ask me for in a day’.

We get to leaving and all them loaded into the car, off we go. Eldest insists on bringing his Nintendo Switch and, because of this, Middle must also bring something of his. This takes TWENTY minutes whilst he decides. Baby just sits in his car seat awaiting departure. The shop we must go to passes a Mcdonalds. Cue an almighty rage from all them once we have to drive past it (Nanna always makes us lunch on a Monday to ensure I actually eat). As they all whine and wail in the back seat, I approach a not so great roundabout for someone who has zero faith in their own driving ability, let alone others. Near collide with a speeding taxi driver.

Get to the school uniform shop and all enter calmly. Fabulous. Baby has even walked from car park to the front door by himself. Why was I worried? Get upstairs to the uniform part. We are the only ones there- perfect. I know what I am here for. Anything with a logo ONLY. Tell this to Sales Assistant. Off she scurries. I am trying so hard to watch that baby doesn’t head towards the stairs when I then realise eldest and middle are having an absolute field day with the shoe display. Deep breaths. This is going to end up like the vets I think. Sales Assistant returns with everything. Both boys refuse to try anything on and instead disappear into a whole display of trousers. I can’t actually see where they are. It’s like Narnia. Baby has also followed. I’m left ranting and shouting like some kind of mad woman. Out they come laughing eventually.

Eldest knows he is now at the point of no return so, tries on his uniform dutifully. Middle has to be straddled due to observing a whole display of school bags before we’d opened the clothes and trying to make a break for it. Meanwhile, a male has entered the shop with three girls. We look at each other and nod. The nod of understanding that the school shop is hell. We are in this together. As I watch him slowly loose the will to live whilst his girls try on multiple skirts and determine ‘they aren’t right Dad’ I actually think he has it worse. My boy’s just think everything is grand. I wave adieu whilst Middle shouts back ‘I hate girls, you are poo poo faces’.

Now I am sitting stamping their names onto all them. Well, what I have as, some of Middle’s will take ten days to arrive. Please don’t sew anything and look at http://www.stamptastic.co.uk . You order the ink pad and, your child’s name and stamp on all their clothing and belongings. It has lasted Eldest all year and I’ve washed all his uniform pieces daily. I also still had the ink pad and Eldest’s stamper so just had to purchase Middle the name stamp. Don’t make life anymore stressful than it has to be. I’m saying that and I’ve only managed to do the ‘logo shop’, I still have the trouser shop to do. I think I will do that one alone! I also have to try and navigate all the different hours they will all be in. Especially during Middle’s settling in period. Did I even mention the naming of the pencil case items? Arrgh, one worry at a time.

Beauty Boxes- Forget Them. Baby Boxes Are the Way Forward!

Back when I only had eldest, my biggest treat to myself every month was subscribing to a beauty subscription box. Every month a new box would appear at my door filled with varying surprises that promised to make me beautiful. After six months however, I realised that I never had the time to use even half the products. I no longer had the luxury of being able to pamper myself. I swiftly cancelled my subscription and waved goodbye to that thing formally known as ‘me time’.

Now I have three children, five and under, pampering oneself is definitely not on the agenda. I’m lucky to even find the time to drink half a cup of tea most days! I also find myself severely depleted of funds what with them continuing to grow all the time (how rude) and needing new clothes constantly. Especially with baby eating me out of house and home (he literally never stops eating). So I was mega excited when I came across the Troberg Baby Box subscription service.

It is a baby clothes rental service. So, you pay a monthly fee and receive a box that contains sixteen items of clothing in a size you decide. All items are 100% cotton and machine washable. You can use them for up to three months (or less if need be) then just send the box back and get the next size up sent to you! I was sent the Bjork box which consisted of :

  • Onesies
  • Pyjamas
  • Bodysuits
  • Sweaters
  • T shirts
  • Bibs
  • A hat

I was very pleased with the selection I received and loved how soft they felt. I really wish this had of been around when baby was born as he was so small then started growing at an alarming rate. One minute he went to bed with clothes fitting him and the next I was fighting with buttons and trying to squeeze him into things. Cue me hot tailing it to Tesco’s to procure the next size up.

This little box is a saviour for new mother’s and, a sustainable one at that. I know I regularly accept hand me downs for middle and baby due to how extortionate the cost of clothing three boys is. I also think it makes for a fab gift idea for a new mum. How good would it be not having the added stress of panicking when your baby starts to suddenly grow out of all the clothes you’ve been bought? You can subscribe for the box at : https://www.trobergbabybox.com/. Let me know how you get on 🙂

That moment you realise that it’s Monday tomorrow but you are super comfy in your Troberg pyjamas!

Mourning Mad Molly

In advance of Monday, after something amazing happened last week and plans had to change, I am posting this now. I know come Monday that I won’t want to face this nor be reminded.

Today we lost the only other girl in our family. A girl that has been by my side for nearly fourteen years now. A girl that made singledom bearable for me (even when she was having more sex than me, what with all the pillows she was humping!).

I will never forget the day I went to pick you up. I had been very thorough in my research. Every article said ‘look out for the puppy that has the most confidence as they are the leader of the pack’. The minute I walked in you swanned right up to me, bold as brass. I mean, I probably should have noticed that your mother had a propensity for serious barking at the time but, I was already in love with you.

We went through so many things together in the transpiring years. Break up’s with boys, me sobbing furiously into your fur on the sofa. Even the time I came home drunk and tried to make you dance to Jay Z with me (that was auntie Jess’s fault, or was it the cocktails?). At no stage did you treat me like a mentalist. At every stage you provided endless affection to me. Even at times when I felt no one else ever would. Then, I met the hubby. You fell more in love with him than possibly me! We spent long summers with you roaming about fields, you off the lead, never ever managing to burn off the endless energy you seemed to possess.

Then the kids came. You loved eldest from the moment you set eyes on him. Even if his weird ninja moves in the moses basket scared the daylights out of you to begin with! You were patient with him, even when he pulled your tail or tried to mount you like a horse. Middle you never warmed to. A fact that greatly bothered me. At one stage I worried you might attack him. But, you never would have. I get that now. You just realised that now I would have even less time for you. You always were smart. I did have less time.

One day you got sick. You were fine and the next you weren’t. I still will never understand how it happened so quickly. We tried everything we could. At a cost that we couldn’t even afford. We just wanted to make you our Mad Mols again. But, it was to no avail. I decided that you should be buried under the cherry blossom tree. The only pink in my world of blue. Every time I look at it in bloom, I will think of you and my boys- my favourite things in the world.

You may have humped pillows like mad, despite being done. You may have had an abundance of energy that no one could ever quite deplete but, you were the best horniest, energetic dog in the world! We must also not forget the fact that, when eldest was born, you received an ASBO because I couldn’t go out to get you as quickly when you barked. But, in some parts, that’s a badge of honour! I love you to the moon and back Molly. Your madness actually prepared me for being a mum to boys. Someone up there was looking out for me. Rest easy old girlie. I miss you so much already xoxoxo

The Job Interview

Today I went for a job interview. My first formal interview since 2009. EEK! Although I may have successfully passed this interview, I managed to drink a whole jug of water (a jug that was supposed to serve the whole room) whilst buying time. I also spent the whole time talking about ‘having’ relationships with colleagues as opposed  to ‘building’ relationships with colleagues. This is taking ‘teamwork’ slightly too far I think.

Trying to even complete the application form with three kid’s took a long time. But, I got it sent off and forgot all about it. A month went by and still no word. Until the postman delivered me a letter that invited me to attend an interview the following week. Cue immediate panic. Take a deep breath and decide to worry about it later. Get to the week in question and am so physically exhausted as youngest has decided to revert back to babydom and drink his weight in milk on numerous occasions throughout the night. It’s ok, I’ve got this. Ship them all out for one day and spend it working on prep questions. Try to revise said questions whilst constantly emptying potty’s, changing explosions due to teething and getting eldest all the snacks he demands.

Interview is at 10:45am. Get up at 5am purely to prepare and go over my answers. Middle and eldest stroll downstairs at 5:30 demanding breakfast. Leave what I am doing to go get them breakfast. Think to myself where is hubby? Spend the next few hours dipping and diving into learning my answers all whilst looking after two kids. Go get a shower in an attempt to look presentable all whilst youngest crawls all over me. He lifts all my make up as he does so, attempting to throw it down the stairs from the landing. Think to myself if there is a God, please give me strength.

Get to interview location fifteen minutes early. Consider sitting in my car whilst slowly getting more and more nervous. Decide against this and go on in. Am left waiting for a considerable time as they are running behind. Contemplate running out the door as I am shaking so much with nerves and feel like I am underprepared for a Virgo. Finally I am called and the person apologises for being late. Stupidly decide to go all David Brent and reply ‘I was early as I am great at time keeping’ whilst doing some kind of weird pointing thing. Immediately realise that this basically implies their time keeping is awful. Die a little inside.

Get to interview room and quickly establish there will be four of them interviewing me, one of whom is wearing a dog collar and seems to be some kind of minister. I’m told I have fifteen minutes to answer three questions. They ask them and, I answer with a quivering voice. Halfway through, one of the interviewees winks at me and does the thumbs up. He must have been feeling sorry for me or something. Wink back at him only to realise the minister is now looking at me like I am some kind of sex pest who goes to interviews purely to solicit older men.

Leave interview and am so nervous that I walk past a full car park where my car is. Get into car finally and proceed to try and drive in my high heels. Big mistake as had driven there with flats on. Near crash car. Get home to boys and have never felt happier to not have to speak in grammatically correct sentences. Tell them I’m doing it for them. Think of how hard it’s taken me to prep and wonder do businesses ever take into consideration how hard it is to do all this with young children. Hope for the best…..

 

An open letter to the mum shamers

Dear mum shamer/would be shamer

Middle was up so many times on Saturday night. Not only did he awake repeatedly, he took the most monumental of tantrums and cried himself a river (a la Justin T) everytime he did so. This is not middle. He doesn’t make a point of doing this all the time infact, he values his sleep. I went in, cuddled him, told him it was all ok then left. I repeated the same process a few times. By 12pm I had royally lost the will to live and, was concerned he would wake up the other two boys. I brought him downstairs for some cuddles on the sofa. He asked that I put Paw Patrol on. I posted a video to my page of his attempts at speaking to our Google Home which, I found quite hilarious considering the stress I’d dealt with for an hour. After a few Paw Patrol episodes, we went to bed. I brought him into our bed because I was too tired to argue by this stage. Shoot me!

I awoke on Sunday morning to a comment under that video. A comment that basically asked why my toddler was allowed to watch Paw Patrol in the first place and not put back to bed instead. This is the second such comment I have received from this stranger. I burst into tears. I felt so awful. Infact, I felt like a bad mum.  I replied to that comment in a way that wasn’t a true reflection of how I felt. I didn’t want to upset that person the way in which they had upset me but, the more I thought about it, the angrier I got. This person was not just attacking me (as the comments proved) she was attacking every other mother that reads my blog and appreciates the honesty contained within it. THAT, I have a problem with. Let’s get some things straight going forward:

  • We are all on the same journey here. The wonderful/stressful journey of motherhood. If I choose to go visit a country, I might choose to travel to it via a different route than another person. We will still end up at the same place though, right?
  • You do what works for your own, individual family and their needs. Maybe one of your kids needs a proper nights sleep otherwise they cause chaos the following day, resulting in everyone being miserable and a day ruined. Maybe it’s been a long day and you just do not have any energy left to give. Every night is different with children, as is every day.
  • No child is the same. Funny that but, somehow they all seem to have their own personalities. We adjust our parenting technique with all of them because we have to. They all have their own individual needs. For example, eldest needs utter routine, middle thrives on chaos and baby hasn’t decided what his mould will be. When he does, I will adjust to that too. That is my job as their mother- to understand their individual needs and react accordingly. No matter what age they may be.
  • I don’t judge others and, never will. How you choose to raise your children is nothing to do with me. At the end of the day, all that matters is that your children are happy. All I am doing is sharing my side of this journey. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it.
  • We are all entitled to our opinions. Free speech is what makes us question things after all. What I don’t like is someone using that freedom in a negative manner. That comment was read by everyone on Sunday morning. Maybe even someone who had had a worse night than me with their kids. Single mothers up doing it all alone, mums with newborns and probably mum’s up with sick children.
  • This blog was started mainly as therapy. I used to write individual books for the boys each week about what they had done that week. This made my life easier and, my hand less cramped. I also felt it important to share the not so perfect side so fellow mums knew they weren’t alone. Society feeds us a certain image of what we should be like and, what we should do.
  • I want this blog to be about uplifting each other, celebrating surviving another week and discussing what disasters we have encountered that week. What I don’t want is someone who deems it acceptable to drag others down. We are all just doing what we can to navigate all these stages.
  • Speaking of stages, we are all at different ones. Maybe some of us have older kids, others younger ones. Each stage brings its own set of problems. How you deal with them is up to you as a parent. I can only share what I am going through now.

In conclusion, from here on in, I will defend my followers when things like this happen and not just stand back. Because I started this blog to counteract all this perfection and show parenthood warts and all. We may not agree with the choices other’s make but, if it works for them so be it. In future, if you have free time and want to troll, I suggest the Daily Mail comments section. Always some mum bashers/bashers of everything on there. Check out the featured image, at the top, to be reminded of exactly what is important. Please share this so we can eradicate this mum shaming. x

Regards,

Grace (You and Me Plus Three)