Sunday, 29 March 2015

Week 181- chickenpox, Blackadder and being under house-arrest...

Chickenpox.

The illness that keeps on giving.

As if it isn't bad enough that your child is covered head-to-toe with unsightly, unimaginably itchy blisters; you're also quarantined, well after they stop feeling ill.

We'd been under house-arrest for three long days when we eventually cracked. 

My daughter had been sitting up at the window looking out wistfully, and remarked, 'that looks fun, can I play with him?'

I went over to see who she was looking at, and it was the bin man loading the bins onto the back of the truck.

So we decided to venture out to the park as it was midweek, drizzly, the kind of weather than only pox-ridden children would step out in. 

But in a Trueman Show style scenario, the swing park was heaving with parents and vulnerably young children.

So we had to settle for kicking around in the empty field that tauntingly overlooked the park.

How do you explain to a child who, days into an illness, feels absolutely fine, that she can't play with anyone as she's highly contagious and looks like a medieval peasant from Blackadder?




And at the point when her spots start to scab, joy of joys, I notice the 'mother spot' on my 11-month-old.

So, if anyone wants to come and shout up at our window, Rapunzel fashion, we're open for visitors.

Quick plea- if you enjoy my blog, please could you vote for it in the BIB awards in the Writer category- https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BiBs2015Nominations. My twitter ID is @annajefferson and URL is www.youcantakeherhomenow.co.uk. Huge thanks! x

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Week 180- downward dogs, Alice Cooper and riding like a rodeo...

Things that don’t go well together…
  • Ice cream and radiators.
  • Vintage leather armchairs and pens.
  • Runny noses and smart work clothes. 

And my most recent discovery;
  • Two children and yoga.

After doing no exercise for the best part of two years, I finally decided that I had to do something to sort myself out.

I think I’ve lost about three inches in height from carrying around an increasingly heavy 11-month-old in an Ergobaby carrier.

I’ve tried to balance out my posture by carrying the shopping in a rucksack when he’s strapped to my front, but turns out a multi-pack of baked beans, washing powder tablets and a box of wine is actually pretty weighty, and as a consequence I think I’ve crushed about four vertebrae.

With little opportunity to go to a class, I thought I’d attempt a yoga tutorial off YouTube and watch it on the telly.

All my gym clothes (by ‘all’ I mean a pair of bobbly leggings and a T-shirt that came free with a pint of Guinness from a pub), have long since been binned, so the only yogic clothes I own are my pyjamas.

So, I’d lined up ‘yoga for beginners with Yvonne’, dimmed the lights and was sitting cross legged in the front room, when Ben popped his head round the door to say he’s off for a run and would be back in half an hour.

And in scamper the children.

Now, there are certain things you become natural multi-taskers at as mums.

Like making a cup of tea one handed with a child on your hip.

In fact cooking/ putting on make-up/ sending an e-mail/ getting dressed/ loading the washing machine/ unloading the washing machine/ wrapping presents/ putting your coat on, with a child on your hip.

Unfortunately, doing a downward dog, with an 11-month-old holding your hair tightly with both hands, whilst a 3-year-old tries to ride you like a rodeo, is not one of those things.

The yoga teacher told me in her breathy, soft, telephone-sex-worker voice, ‘inhale deeply, and exhale the day’s tensions’, as my daughter shouted loudly in my ear, ‘CAN WE PUT PEPPA PIG ON?’

And as I was instructed to shut my eyes and be 'present in the moment’, I heard the familiar slap of tiny hand on TV screen as my son bobbed up and down excitedly whilst hitting Yvonne in the face.

I was asked to take myself out of by body and view myself from above.

And as I 'looked down', I saw a woman who was wearing dirty pyjamas in the middle of the day, had unknowingly sneezed off her make-up so looked a little like Alice Cooper, and was lying on her back while her son playfully slapped her cheeks and her daughter blew raspberries on her stomach and delightedly declared, ‘it’s so wobbly mummy, it’s like jelly!’




I’m not asking for the world.

Just twenty minutes once in a while to have a quick stretch that 's more involved that getting something from the top shelf in the kitchen.

I’m sure Gwyneth Paltrow never had to put up with this shit.



Quick plea- if you enjoy my blog, please could you vote for it in the BIB awards in the Writer category- https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BiBs2015Nominations. My twitter ID is @annajefferson and URL is www.youcantakeherhomenow.co.uk. Huge thanks! x


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Week 179- Jeremy Clarkson, Elsa from Frozen and Mother's Day...

Happy Mother's Day, brilliant women.

If I'd been asked four years ago it I fancied a job, which would involve:
  • No pay
  • Getting up ten minutes after I've gone to bed to have someone scream in my face/ shit on me/ stick their fingers up my nose
  • Make food to watch someone either throw it directly on the floor, or flick it over my clean clothes;

I would have assumed I was applying for a job working for Jeremy Clarkson.

But then, I didn’t know that the pay off is feeling so loved by a small person that they would scamper across the floor as fast as their little legs could crawl, just to pull themselves up on my trousers to give me a toothless grin.

Or the reward of having a three-year-old whisper in a breathy voice that I’m her best friend. That my hair is nicer than Elsa from Frozen's and I'm funnier than Dubee and Framed (You’ve Been Framed.)

So here’s to Motherhood.

The worst paid, most anti-socially houred, best job in the whole-wide-world.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Week 178 - what's a 'normal' relationship when you have children?

At what point to you get back to being ‘in a relationship’ when you have children?

Six months? Nine months? A year? When they go to nursery/ Primary school/ secondary school?

I wish there was some way of being able to chart the journey back to ‘normality’. 

Or if it’s never going to happen, that someone was honest enough to let you know pre-children that kids sabotage your relationship for the rest of your life together, so you get the chance to go on some decent mini-breaks before you get pregnant.

The things that bring you together in the first place can end up being held by a thread when you throw children in the mix.

Affection- there would have been the point when you first met your partner when you couldn’t keep your hands off each other.

You’d find excuses just to brush arms with them. And as you became more comfortable with each other, you’d automatically move hair from their eyes, squeeze their legs, or interlock arms.

You grew into a natural physical extension of each other.

You have children and they immediately swell into that space. Children are instinctively affectionate. They want to be so close to you that they could live inside your skin again.

Your baby couldn’t be happier than sleeping on the small inch of exposed flesh on your arm, her head precariously balanced.

Your toddler would prefer you to carry them around upside down, blood gushing to their head, than walk alongside you.

That need for touch; for closeness; for comfort, is filled by your children.

Communication- the art of talking. There was a time in your relationship when you talked about stuff outside the day-to-day.

You dreamed together; talked about your ideals, your politics, your visions for your shared future. You let those dreams grow, take shape and then jointly explored how you could make them happen.

Talking when you have children is more a tick list to make sure everyone knows where everyone else has to be and when. And if you manage to discuss how your own day has been in the evening over a glass of wine, then you’re doing pretty fucking well.

You push back for the time together. For those moments when you try and recreate how it used to be.

And there’s too much pressure.

How do you act on a date with a man you’ve lived with for ten years?

Without venturing into weird role-play, how do you make the swift transition from the parents you were, moments ago, putting your children to bed, to the couple who are sitting opposite each other in the pub round the corner, both with phones out in case the babysitter rings?

Is there a ‘don’t talk about the ‘children/ house/ bills/ the camping trip we’ve spoken about but haven’t had time to book’ policy?

Or do you get that all out the way first? Work through the personal admin list, then tidy up your papers like a newsreader, before cranking up the fun?

Some couples who are having relationship problems supposedly have children to attempt to cement it. If people do actually do this, I ask them, why? 

And then say, good fucking luck.

Children bring out the very best and the very worst in you as individuals.

You develop a capacity for love that you never realised you had before.

Unconditional, you can puke/ shit/ piss all over me and I’d prefer to hold you tight to comfort you than change my T-shirt kind of love.

You become stronger with the person you have had children with, but by building on a strength that’s already there.

Because your partner will drive you fucking mental when you bring children into the equation.

You will have conflicting views on virtually everything. The bits about them that annoyed you before children are suddenly magnified by about a thousand at 2am when your baby is crying.

Your love for each other becomes the bass line.

You can’t question it because the house of cards falls down if you do.

But you do need to feed it.

You need to remember why you chose to be in each other’s lives in the first place.

It wasn’t to do each other’s laundry, or sit through each other’s annoying choice of TV programme. It wasn’t to shout at each other when you’re so tired you’ve forgotten the art of listening. And it definitely wasn’t to blame each other for the things that haven’t worked out in your own day.

It’s because that person was and still is pretty ace.

It’s just their aceness has manifested into something else.

And their love has grown to include the people you’ve made together.

Maybe the affection and conversation will come back.

But in the meantime, don’t forget to ask how each other are doing.

And grab the squeezes when you can. 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Week 177- Mojos, minging nighties and taking advice from a three-year-old...

When I was little I remember being scared of authority.

Teachers. Other people’s parents. The woman at the Post Office who sold sherbet dips and Mojos.


These were all grown-ups. And hence, a little bit scary.

In stark contrast to this, my daughter now calls me and Ben, ‘the guys.’

She’ll be chatting to her toys, and be like, ‘the guys are taking us to the park later on.’

Or we’ll be calling her through for dinner and she’ll say,  ‘OK guys, just coming!’

It’s like we’re her contemporaries. Or over-familiar colleagues.

And I have to check myself for not treating her as such.

The other day I was getting ready to go out for a drink with a friend. 

This is a rare occasion and I’d been making a bit of a big deal about it so my daughter knew that something ‘exciting’ was happening and didn’t want to go to bed until she’d seen me get dressed.

She curled up on our bed and said, ‘ you look lovely mummy.’ Which gave me a bit of a warm glow.

Followed swiftly by, ‘but I don’t like your dress.’

‘Right.’ I panicked. ‘What about this one?’

‘I don’t like that one either.’

I used to live with a house full of girls at university and we used to do the same thing for each other; the harsh analysis of each other’s outfits before we left the house in the evening.

The only main difference here was that no-one was chain-smoking fags. And a large glass of red wine had been replaced by a small beaker of blue-top milk.

So I held up another dress.

‘What about this one?’

‘I like the one you were wearing the other day.’

She was unbudgable. Whatever I was wearing the other day was far better than any of the outfits I was trying on. But I had no idea what she was talking about.

My daughter was getting more and more frustrated, until she slammed down her milk, went over to the dirty laundry basket and tugged out an old nightie.

A disgusting nightie that you’d think twice about giving birth in, that had been the back-up of the back-up night clothes. Only for emergencies.

But with the builders in all week and the house covered in dust, we hadn’t been able to wash anything for days so were all having to wear an eclectic mix of items until normal services resumed.

‘This one.’ She thrust it at me with pride. ‘The pink one.’

Of course. My daughter, the lover of anything pink, despite my coaching from birth.

‘You look beautiful in this one mummy.’

And this is where I draw the line.

She might talk to me with the neutrality of a couple of friends who are catching up over a bite to eat after work.

But the advice taking stops here.

There’s nothing more wonderful that your child telling you you’re beautiful.

But not if it means you have to go out on the town in a minging, dirty pink Primark nightie circa 1992.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Week 176- B and Q catalogues, bearded weirdos and hide and seek...

We’ve started going to B and Q at the weekends out of choice.

I feel like a little bit of me has died.

And if that’s not bad enough, I picked up brochures for their kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms, and perused them over a glass of wine on a Saturday night.

That's right. 

When other people are in the pub, having sex or dancing the night away, I’M FLICKING THROUGH B AND Q CATALOGUES.

I think the early on-set middle-aged moment really sunk in when I saw my daughter desperately trying to entertain herself in what is pretty much an aircraft hangar full of bathroom fittings and men in paint-splattered trousers.

She was looking through all the cupboards in the display kitchen in the hope that there may be something interesting in them or, better still, a snack.

I had been in the very same position at a similar age with my dad. I remember thinking; this can’t be it, can it? Shops can’t really be this massively boring, can they?

As Ben and I were discussing the pros and cons of toilets with handles versus those with buttons (handles all the way btw) I realised I hadn’t seen my daughter for a little while.

I half-heartedly called her name a couple of times whilst picking up paint colour charts.

By the forth shout-out with no response, I started to get a bit worried.

As I looked down the empty aisles, my pulse started to beat a little bit too loudly in my ears.

Unnecessary adrenaline is one of the most unproductive things a body can produce.

Your rational mind is telling you, ‘calm down, she will just have wandered off,’ where as the adrenaline-fuelled panic is screaming, ‘the guy with the beard who was carrying the big tin of emulsion on aisle 3 looked like a total child-snatching weirdo!’

I started to mum-run around the store, where you go the same speed as walking but your legs are doing twice as much work, Fred Flintstone style.

I couldn’t find her anywhere.

And at the point where I was about to get a member of staff to do a call out for a lost little girl, I heard a muffled, ‘I’m here mummy!’

A familiar shape was hiding under the covers in the display bed.

Panic over. It was just an elaborate game of hide and seek.

Turns out, lack of sleep, an over-active imagination and an inbuilt maternal-instinct to panic your face off about your children on a minute-by-minute basis, can transform a face-punchingly sedate B and Q into a pretty fucking dangerous place after all.

I’d go so far as to say I deserved a sit off and a gander at their bathroom magazine after all that.



Sunday, 15 February 2015

Week 175- flapjacks, Kate Tempest and Febrezing your work clothes...

I'd bought tickets to see Kate Tempest back in October, thinking, come February we'd be going out all the time.

What an optimistic fool.

With both children not even considering sleep before 8pm these days, a show that started at 7.30 seemed a tad ambitious.

But with a good friend, who's also a mother of two, offering to babysit we thought we'd give it a bash.

I breastfed my son from pretty much the moment I got him through the front door in the hope that he'd just nod off. In contrast I agreed to a long and sugar-filled list of demands from my daughter in return for her absolute assurance that she would go to bed the very second our friend turned up.

And at 7.20, we were miraculously in a taxi. Neither of us had eaten. And I'd only had time to Febreze my works clothes. But we were out. And more to the point, on time.

Now. The thing about buying tickets so far in advance for a night out is that you can sometimes forget the exact details of what the tickets were for.

I'd watched Kate Tempest perform before. She was fantastic. She also had started moments after the doors had opened.

This was not to be one of those nights.

As we entered the club, the forth people in the queue, it felt like the end of a primary school disco when they turn the lights on in the school hall just before your parents come to pick you up.

Stark strip lighting and no music. In fact virtually no atmosphere.

It turns out there was a support act, which wasn't starting for another 45 minutes, and then a further hour till the main event.

I'd totally misjudged the evening. We had turned, half-starved to a club-night-style event and were virtually there before the bar staff had started their shift.

'Play it cool,' Ben and I whispered to each other.

The venue didn't sell food. Obviously. Not even a packet of dry roasted.

Instead we ducked out over the road to the volley ball court cafe, which had also just, moments before, closed the kitchens.

So armed with a handful of flapjacks they were just about to bin, we re-entered the club, panicking we'd get searched and they'd confiscate them. 

The place was starting to fill up a bit by then with effortlessly beautiful people who must have been about a third our age. 

And I had a think about what my 20-year-old self would say to me now; the total keeno, dressed in my works clothes, panicking my face off that I'd get chucked out of a night for smuggling in oat-based products.

She'd probably be shaking her head in despair whilst downing a pre-pub bottle of red wine and chain-smoking Embassy Number 1.

But then she doesn't have two children yet.

She still has that all to come.

And fast-forward fifteen years and she'll be painfully grateful for any opportunity to go out, so much so that it becomes standard to turn up two hours early to a gig.