I would consider myself to be a feminist mother, hence the title, and every day I face the following internal struggle: style versus practicality – for myself and, more particularly, for my daughter. Children need to be active (especially mine it would seem). It goes without saying, doesn’t it? From learning to roll and crawl to learning to scoot and ride bicycles children are built to be constantly on the go using every bit of their bodies, and yet so many girl’s clothes – dresses, skirts, tight trousers, ruffles and frills – are not designed to accommodate ease of physical movement.
The chilly cup of tea that Mummy didn’t get to drink,
The crusty weaning spoons that never made it to the sink,
The crumbs of mud from welly boots that got walked right off the mat,
The mouse’s gizzard: a present from the cat.
The towering pile of laundry spilling out of every basket
That no-one but Mummy puts away unless she asks it.
The myriad scattered onesomes of tiny baby socks,
The tattered remains of a fought-over giant box.
First: a disclaimer. I adore paper books, I do not think they are redundant and they are my go-to gift for adults and children alike. Thank God for my local independent book shop – they rock. However, since I was given an e-reader for Christmas last year I am a total convert from my luddite, paper-book addict self and feel they are an essential piece of kit for all parents. I now need my Kindle and here are my reasons:
I’ve been having a tough time with parenting recently. The Boy’s behaviour has been trying: very aggressive and abrupt and his listening skills are nil. He keeps hurting the baby and it breaks my heart, but the hardest bit of it all is keeping control of myself. I lose my temper and shout and feel ashamed afterwards, but I’ve been working really hard on stopping that; after all, I’m supposed to be the grown up in this situation. Things had just about reached their worst and lowest point – I was crying to the Man on Monday at the thought of being left alone with both of them, when suddenly things started to turn around.
I think we all have this, don’t we? Us parents, anyway. Things we promise ourselves we’ll do better, or at all, and then we don’t prioritise it and it just becomes a niggling worry eating away at our sanity until it keeps us awake until 3am fretting over whether anything is actually going mouldy in the bottom of the washing basket, only to go back to sleep promising you’ll definitely, 100%, absolutely do something about it tomorrow, but you spend all night dreaming you’re trying to do it whilst endless obstacles prevent you until you wake, three hours later, too exhausted to do other than the very bare minimum to keep everything ticking over.
I was sitting on the floor with my mum, surrounded by bags, boxes and towering piles of childrens’ clothing – boy and girl – when I had to jump up and take a photo. Ever since I first got pregnant with my first child I have been playing this game, where friends give you all the cast-off clothing from their kids and you go through them and get to decide what to keep (most of it) and what to bin (anything very stained) and what to charity shop (colours that don’t suit your kid, weird psychotic rabbit cartoon designs you can’t face looking at etc) and then, when the time comes, you bundle up all your kid’s things and pass them on to a friend with an appropriately aged child. Never, though, has this game seemed quite so absurdly funny as it has these last couple of months.