Monday, 21 December 2015

A Year of Facebook - THANK YOU!

This time last year, after dabbling in the bloggersphere via Twitter, I decided to set up a Facebook page. I was mortified at the thought of having a page that crashed and burned so I messaged all my friends-with-kids and gently begged them to like my page. I also pimped the page out to my existing Twitter followers.

I had no expectations, really. In fact, as I sat with a glass of wine creating the page I very nearly didn't bother publishing it. What would be the point? Twitter seemed to be the heartland of blogging and I had reservations about creating another account I'd have to update regularly. Still, there wasn't a lot on telly that evening and I had absolutely nothing to lose...

Just twelve months (and 325,000 followers, WTF?!) later, I think it's fair to say that the wine-fuelled decision to put the blog on Facebook will go down in history as one of the better life choices I've made (much better than my life choice as a teenager to pluck my eyebrows into tiny squiggles, I've spent a decade trying to encourage those skinny bastards to grow back).

Largely off the back of the whole social media explosion, 2015 has been a year of firsts.
  • I have realised, for the first time, that it really is possible to change career direction in favour of doing something you love. I have spent six months writing a book, the final proof of which is being sent to me over Christmas. Who knew, ey. Who bloody knew.
  • I have realised, for the first time, that sometimes people say mean things online. I struggled with negative comments at first - it's an indescribably shitty feeling to read nasty comments that make you want to crawl into bed and sob. But it's okay, really it is, because I've also realised that you cannot please all of the people all of the time - nor should you try to. Onwards and upwards (wankers).
  • Most importantly, I have realised for the first time that I am not alone in finding motherhood more than a bit testing at times. It turns out there are a fair few like-minded parents out there experiencing the feelings mash-up of 'I've never known love like it' and 'I'm not cut out for this shit.' Oh how I wish I'd known this when the Doubt Cloud first descended almost four years ago.
So, this post is simply a THANK YOU. For picking me up after a bad day, for making me wet myself with laughter (genuinely wetting myself at least twice) and without exaggeration for changing my life a little bit.

Happy Christmas, and here's to 2016.

Much love

PS - I do realise my blog page is temporarily looking a bit weird - I fucked up the template and quite frankly cannot be arsed to rectify it until the New Year.

PPS - I also realise it's not New Year's Eve yet but this is probably my last blog of 2015 as I plan to spend the next week drinking Prosecco and shouting, "WELL SO COULD ANYONE" along to The Pogues. Always drink responsibly though folks. Hic.


Thursday, 10 December 2015

Why Is Christmas So Fancy These Days?

I absolutely loved Christmas as a child and I am keen to recreate the same level of magic and excitement for my boys. Yet as I begin to feel Christmassy, I can't help but wonder whether expectations are being set slightly too high nowadays. And I don't mean the expectations of our kids, I mean the expectations we set for ourselves.

I blame the internet. And the telly. A quick browse of Facebook and a watch of the adverts between Emmerdale and Corrie tells me that Christmas prep is no longer just about buying presents, stockpiling alcohol, decorating the tree and choosing which bird* to have. HELL NO.

Firstly, it seems there are a million and one 'essential Christmas food' items you need to buy. Like Stollen and Panettone. When did these things become Christmas essentials? I'm not disputing that they are treats traditionally devoured around this time of year but I have quite happily survived three decades of Christmasses without Panefuckingttone. Does nobody whip out the Viennetta anymore?

And actually, the internet suggests we should all be making some Christmas goods too. Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and don't forget the all-important Gingerbread House with intricate icing and jelly sweet detailing. You can buy these things, of course, but people will ask you if you've made one so it might be best to come up with an excuse you're comfortable with (I find 'God no, I can't be arsed with all that shit' gets mixed responses).

I'm already breaking out into sweats about having to make an elaborate sheep onesie when Henry starts school next year, after witnessing parents stressing out on social media about nativity costumes. I was Mary in the nativity play once and I'm pretty sure I wore a bed sheet. Everybody else wore tea towels on their heads. It did the job.

When I was little, I always thought our Christmas tree looked magical. In actual fact, it was probably a bit naf (uneven spread of decorations topped with that god-awful angel hair - does anybody else remember that?) but I can vividly remember standing and looking at the lights with a happy Christmassy glow in my heart. Sadly, a multipack of baubles from BHS and some paper-chains across the ceiling doesn't seem to cut it anymore. Nowadays, I'm told, it's all about hand crocheted decorations, elaborate fairy light displays and sophisticated colour schemes. (I have experienced the frustration of watching a toddler aggressively plonk decorations on the tree, but a quick redistribution to less crowded branches when they are in bed soon fixes that).

My sister and I often got pyjamas for Christmas (always from M&S, "yay, thanks Nan") but we didn't get a special pair delivered to wear on Christmas Eve. We didn't open Christmas Eve boxes with a personalised ceramic plate for Rudolf's carrot nor did we have a Christmas family photo shoot uploaded to Christmas cards.

Early '90s M&S PJs. I've still got that bear.
I'm fairly certain all the Christmas crafts (Father Christmas with his cotton wool beard and all that jazz) were reserved for school or playgroup. These days we're expected to paint reindeer out of baby footprints and, according to an article I read a week or so ago, Christmas origami is a fun activity to engage in with toddlers. Origami with toddlers! I'll just let that sink in.

I wasn't convinced about the Elf on the Shelf until loads of you reported that elves had proved a powerful tool in encouraging good behaviour (this sounds a lot like bribery, which is where I tend to live as a parent - so we got one). He didn't arrive in time for December 1st and instead arrived on December 5th - on paper this is a Christmas parenting disaster, but in reality it didn't matter one bit.

And when it comes to presents, well, I'm never going to be one of those 'all your children need is love' types, because my son has been sleeping with the Smyths toy catalogue so is clearly hoping for more that just my love. But I see no need to go bananas on the gift-buying. A fat OAP in a red suit takes all the credit anyway.

This isn't a dig at households who go The Whole Christmas Hog. I'm just commenting on the pressure to do it all. The way I see it, you should opt in (or opt out) of the things that suit you and your family. The things you enjoy doing. I won't be making gingerbread houses or handmade crackers anytime soon but if I enjoyed baking and crafting then maybe I would.

When Christmas Eve arrives, you should be able to kick back with a glass of wine in front of the Vicar of Dibley, or do some last minute wrapping to NOW That's What I Call Christmas! without having to worry about rustling up another batch of mince pies.

Do Christmas your way. Don't stress out about the small stuff. Remember to buy sellotape, batteries and Prosecco and it will all be fine.

The Unmumsy Mum
[*Apparently people aren't content with eating just one bird anymore, either. These days it's all about having a pigeon inside a chicken inside a dog inside a horse. What the chuff is that all about?]

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

My Darling Boy, If Only You Knew...

If only you knew, as you scream blue bloody murder at my retraction of your spoon, that I am merely going back to get you some more yoghurt. 
If only you knew, as you crumble to the floor in pure RAGE at the harness and reins you’ve discovered attached to your chest, that I am merely trying to stop you getting squished by a lorry. I wouldn’t like for you to get squished, you see.

If only you knew, as you twist your body into an impossible yoga pose, that I don’t get much enjoyment from our daily nappy wrestle either. It is not me versus you. It is the two of us versus the massive turd you have deposited, for the second time in half an hour. (The same goes for your hatred of wearing clothes and disgust at being forced into a sleeveless sleeping bag before bed - these are processes we follow to stop you from freezing.)
If only you knew, as you pull on your ears and rub your eyes, that it is not entirely my fault that you are tired. I gave you two opportunities to nap earlier in the day and you chose 5:15 p.m. to start snoozing, which is a Code Red Terrible Nap Time. One day, perhaps when you are a daddy, you will realise that opportunities to nap are golden, and discover that you would in fact sell a kidney and/or the telly to have a nap (by this point it will be too late.)

If only you knew, as you launch your upper body backwards against my collarbone and I shout ‘OWWWW YOU BASTARD!’ it is, in fact, not you that I am calling a bastard. It’s just a bastard situation – I live in hope that you will sit nicely on my lap for a book and a snuggle but it turns out you’re not really into books or snuggles right now.

If only you knew, as you look up from trying to eat your brother’s shoelace, that I’m only about to confiscate the shoe because it might have dog faeces on it from our park trip. I’m not a deliberately setting out to ruin your fun and steal all your treasure.

You are a rather strange being, my darling, but I love the bones of you. I love your laugh and the way you indiscriminately use ‘BAAAAAA’ as the sound for all farmyard animals. I love your crazy hair and the fact that you always smell of Cow & Gate Spaghetti Bolognese, even when you’ve had a wash. When you are mad at me I am usually just trying to do my job as a mummy and look after you.

If only you knew.