“I don’t want a haircut, mummy!”

Until I became a mother, I never realised how intrinsically linked a child's hair is to their gender identity. I had no idea that a boy wouldn't know he was a boy if he had long hair. It never occurred to me that not forcing a regular haircut on a boy could be somehow fundamentally damaging to him/cause him to grow up to be gay.

In case you were wondering, I'm being sarcastic.

Back story:

I have two children. They are both boys. They both like to get dirty, play with cars, beat seven shades of shit out of each other and watch superhero cartoons. They are both free to choose their own clothing (they usually choose dinosaurs and other such "boy" things) and pick out their own shoes. There is only one proviso to this arrangement: They must be happy and comfortable wearing whatever they choose.

The big one, O, likes to keep his hair short. He asks for a haircut about every six weeks or so. The little one, F, will not entertain the idea of having his hair cut and, as a result, it is quite long. Long enough to tie back.

And that seems to be a massive problem for some people.

We go to the park and something like this happens:

Stranger: "Oh, what a beautiful little girl! What's her name?"
Me: "He's a boy and his name is Finnegan."
Stranger: (to F) "When is your mummy going to get your hair cut?"
F: "No! I don't want a hair cut!"
Me: "He doesn't want to have his hair cut right now. I'm waiting until he tells me he's ready."
Stranger: "Oh… But… But…"
Me: *walks away*

Okay, so I come across as kinda rude here, but just imagine if this happened to you multiple times every week. Imagine how fed up you'd get with having the same conversation and standing under the same cloud of judgement. Can you imagine that? Yeah. You'd probably be pretty rude too.

With the way some strangers have reacted to my son's hair, you'd think they were accusing me of negligence or abuse. But it is not child abuse. I could argue that something pretty close to child abuse might be forcing your child into something they don't want and haven't consented to, to which there is no benefit outside of the cosmetic. But then most parents have this romanticised vision of their child's first haircut and I certainly wouldn't want to accuse them of abusing their children. At worst, they conform to a patented parenting script which many others have read before them, and that's fine. There is no malicious intent to be found in that and I have never suggested otherwise. I've just taken a different approach with my children and I feel like that should be okay too.

There's an alternative version of this conversation, of course, which happens far less frequently:

Stranger: "Oh, what a beautiful little girl! What's her name?"
Me: "He's a boy and his name is Finnegan."
Stranger: (to F) "Oh, I'm so sorry! He has such a pretty face, and I love his little ponytail!"
Me: "Thank you. So does he!"

I like these people. Not because they agree with the way I've chosen to raise my children; because they respect my son's right to make his own decisions.

Of course, I can't bring this up without giving a special mention to the hypocrisy of it all. You see, as boys grow up, they are encouraged to view the likes of footballers as role models (although I can't for the life of me imagine why when you consider how often some of them end up in the news for unpleasant reasons). Have you watched football lately? Have you noticed the growing trend that is the Man Bun? A trend which nobody under the age of 60 sees as being remotely odd in any way. It's just the fashion right now and it looks kinda cool, right?

So, hold on a second… a grown man can shave half his hair off, stick the rest up in a topknot and give it a special little name like "man bun" and that's totally fine, yet my son can't wear his hair in a ponytail without my entire approach to parenting being called into question?

Can somebody please explain this to me? Because I just don't get it.

I shouldn't have to defend my parenting while I stand up for my son and his god given right to have autonomy over what happens to his body. Amidst all this feminist ranting we are surrounded by on social media, it's interesting to me that very few people have looked at the other side of this. I'm not going to argue that there isn't still some gender inequality going on – hello, BBC wage gap -, but what's interesting to me is that a little girl can wear her hair however she chooses. She can have it long or short, braided or loose and nobody gives a shit. But when a little boy walks into the park with his hair tied up in a ponytail, the pointing and the whispering starts up. And it's not the kids; it's the parents. The kids couldn't care less. It doesn't even occur to them that they should see anything odd in a little boy wearing his hair in a ponytail.

There are hashtags such as #letclothesbeclothes and #lettoysbetoys which seek to remove the boy/girl divide when it comes to clothing and toys. Brilliant idea. But it has to go both ways. I see a lot of tweets using these hashtags which point out how uncool it is that apparently girls aren't supposed to like dinosaurs or want to be astronauts, and they are absolutely correct. Totally uncool. However, I see far less bemoaning the fact that none of the T-shirts in the "boy" section have unicorns on them or that all of the princess colouring books are with the "girly" stuff.

It just seems to lack… balance.

I'm not saying that all boys should dress up in unicorns and glitter and aspire to be princesses. I'm just saying that it should be perfectly fine if they do. It's not going to damage them or "make them gay" (just DON'T).

And as for long hair? If it bothers you so much that a little boy wants to grow his hair long, well… maybe that says more about you than it does about him or his parents.

While you think about that, I'll be over here playing cars and dollies with my boys.

A case of Mum Guilt

I've come down with a bad case of mum guilt today.

Today is my day off. At the moment, I get two days off a week. This week, today is one of them.

Usually I try to do something fun with the kids when I'm not working. A nature walk. The beach. A playground or two. That kind of thing. Except that this morning I looked around my house and I got this dreadful, twitchy feeling

My house, to put it bluntly, is a fucking shit tip.

There is random crap all over the place. There's probably even actual crap somewhere. Everybody is running out of clean clothes and everything feels just a bit… sticky.

The only trouble is, I can't clean the house AND do something fun with the kids. So today I feel guilty because if I take the kids out I'm neglecting the house, and if I clean the house I'm neglecting the kids.

What I need is the ability to split myself into useful, house-cleaning mum and fun, child-wrangling mum. Or a cleaner.

I probably need a cleaner.

Also on the list of things I feel guilty about today:

Literally shoving N out of the door this morning.

The fact that I've shouted at my kids at least twice to leave each other alone.

Inadvertently thwacking O around the head with the vacuum cleaner nozzle.

Turning on CBeebies.

Feeling secretly glad that it has rained and is therefore too wet to go to a playground right now.

Sitting here writing this and drinking a cup of tea.

Being tired.

I'll probably also feel guilty about whatever I feed the kids for lunch soon because it's unlikely to be either imaginative or particularly nutritionally balanced.

It can't be just me, can it? I mean, I open up Instagram and I see tonnes of posts featuring a day out with the kids or a crafty afternoon at the kitchen table and nobody else's house ever looks a mess. Nobody else ever has that haunted look of a person who knows their home resembles the aftermath of nuclear warfare whilst they sit on a picnic rug and enjoy quality time with their offspring.

Some days I feel like I'm just not cut out for the job of being a Person In The World.

One more light

Suicide and depression never seem to be far from the news bulletins these days. This year more than 6000 suicides have been recorded in the U.K. and ROI collectively. But suicide itself isn't an isolated event as a general rule; it is most often the culmination of a gruelling battle with declining or fluctuating mental health, which is arguably less well-documented than the devastating final act.

Here's the thing about depression: it's not YOU. Depression is selfish, inherently so. It doesn't care about your family or your friends. It certainly doesn't care about you. It's the weight dragging you down every day. It's the sense of failure in everything you do. It's the feeling of panic sitting on your chest as you think to yourself, "I just can't do this anymore". It has no type, no preference and no agenda except to leave you with a pervading sense that there is nothing left worth staying for, or that everyone around you would be better off without you. It will take you to the edge over and over again and leave you standing there, trembling, as you stare into that gaping maw. And it won't give a shit if you fall. It will rage against every small victory, whispering into your beleaguered mind, "But what about tomorrow?" It will keep you up through the night and try to pin you down in your bed when morning comes. Some days, you will let it. Some days, the Herculean effort required to pull yourself from that pit just won't be worth it. But everybody else? They might think that it is you being selfish and not your depression, simply because one belongs to the other, although which of you has ownership of the other at any given point is debatable.

Recent high profile suicides such as those of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington have once again thrust depression into social consciousness. Scathing comments about how those men could be so selfish as to leave behind their children have highlighted how misunderstood an illness depression is, even now. Even as huge efforts are being made to de-stigmatise the condition, this rhetoric remains common. There is little consideration given to the path that leads to the end result and too much emphasis upon that end result itself.

Consider, for example, what it must take to arrive at the conclusion that you are better off dead. Imagine how catastrophic the thoughts must be, how the fear of living must outgrow the fear of dying. How long does a person have to battle before their personal war becomes insurmountable? And if they had reached out, if you had known what was coming, would you have been there? Or would you have sighed, rolled your eyes and told them to "man up"? How many times have you accused a family member or friend of being dramatic over a seemingly minor thing, without considering that that minor thing might be just one component in a long list of things that have left that person flailing in the dark with nothing to hold onto?

I'm not accusing you of being insensitive, nor am I trying to express the very particular path of your journey through this illness. These are my experiences of my own mental health battles. The fact that I ascribe depression an identity of its own is how I live with – and outside of – it; how I remind myself that who I am when I am struggling and who I am the rest of the time are not the same person. And those are the times when depression takes ownership of me, rather than the other way around. Sometimes it's a temporary dip, a short period of low mood and internalised catastrophising. Other times, bad days bleed into bad months. Depression does not conform to a specific formula; it is nuanced, which is probably why treating it is so difficult. But for me, my lock-ins with this so-called black dog are almost always triggered by a series of small events, stacking up on one another like tumbling dominoes. Dominoes which must all be picked up and set right before I can go on again as normal.

I'll stand on that lonely cliff edge again. I'll look down into that angry, churning water and I'll force myself to back away. I'll talk. Cry. Scream. Do anything not to let it take me over. I'll hold my children tight and remember my promise to them. I'll allow the people I love to reach out and accept their efforts and their comfort. I won't let this crouching thing inside of me take me away from myself.

But does this personal determination mean that I don't understand how it must feel to finally grow tired of the fight?

No. And honestly? We should all try a little harder to find our empathy sometimes.

This is a true story

It’s been a long time since I talked about this. For so long, my recollection of these events has felt like someone else’s life. But the truth is that for about a year between the ages of 16 and 18, I was in an abusive relationship. I was pushed into walls, door frames and, once, the side of a bus. I was held so tightly by my wrists that they were bruised. I was thrown to the floor in the middle of screaming arguments. And one August morning, I was shoved so hard against my bedroom wall that my left collarbone snapped clean in two.

Still, I didn’t see it for what it was until one night when he pushed me in front of a room full of people. Only when I saw the looks on their faces as he was dragged away from me did I realise what was really going on here. Only on that night, when I felt so ashamed of those looks, did I have the guts and conviction to finally walk away.

11 years later, my memories are blurred. Perhaps with subconscious intent. I’ll ask myself some days, “Did it really happen?” Yes. Yes, it really happened. I have the badly healed bone to prove it. But the point is that I have recovered and I have forgiven. I have accepted that sometimes people just bring out the worst in each other. I am not making excuses for him – he and I both know very well what he did. But I cannot be angry about it anymore. I cannot say that I am still a victim, or that I have let those experiences colour my perceptions of men in general.

What do I hope for him now, so many years later? I hope that he has healed from the experiences that led him to be that person in the first place. I hope that he has grabbed hold of the good inside him and made himself out of that. I hope that he is well.

I will not lie to you; it has taken me a long, long time to feel that way. But I have healed. I have forgotten that I was ever afraid, that I ever had a reason to be scared of hearing the front door slam.

N is much bigger than I am. Much stronger too. Easily capable of hurting me if he wanted to. But have I ever for one moment been afraid of him? No. Not for a second. I know who he is. For me to look at him with the same eyes I once looked at that other man would do him a gross injustice. No matter what I say or do – and I can be a long way from innocent myself – I know with absolute certainty that I never, ever have to be afraid of my husband.

There have been times in my life when I have been afraid of men as a whole. When I have had to remind myself that there are only a few bad apples on the tree. But that’s the point; I have trained my brain to self-correct. I refuse to live my life under the misapprehension that all men are bastards.

I don’t know if I will tell my sons about my experiences when they are older. I don’t know if I want them to think of me that way. I do know that I don’t ever want them to feel sorry for me, even retrospectively.

What I will do is raise them to respect other people. To understand the notion of consent. To never, ever intentionally harm another person. And to always speak up if they find themselves in the position of being abused.

It’s not our job as parents to teach our children to be afraid of each other; it’s our job to teach them how to look after one another.

This is what I will teach my children. And I hope that they never, ever find themselves in the same position that I once did.

I need to take a break

If you follow me on twitter or Instagram, you probably already know what this post is about. You’ve probably seen me agonising over making the “right” choice, wondering aloud if I should take a step back. Turn my back on this for a while. Regroup and maybe come back when I am stronger.

There are a lot of reasons why I’ve enjoyed blogging over the last two years, the most notable of which being the connections I’ve made along the way. The moments when someone has reached out and said, “me too”. And I don’t set out to make anyone cry when I write, but when you tell me that one of my posts choked you up, well… that’s a powerful thing.

Those things have made my blogging journey worthwhile.

But blogging has a murky underbelly, and I’ve seen that too.

I’d like to tell you that I haven’t kept half an eye on my stats, but that would be a lie. At times, I have been unhealthily obsessed with them, and when they’ve fallen below a certain daily number I have felt something close to bereft. Which is stupid, because who gives a shit? I didn’t start doing this for anybody other than myself.

I did this for me.

But my inner critic is a dickhead, and she doesn’t think I should be here anymore. She’s seen other bloggers amass a huge following in a matter of months. She’s watched those other bloggers win awards and accolades and she feels… irrelevant.

Which is to say that I feel irrelevant.

Then there’s this:

Whatever mettle I’m made of is probably more of a kittens and rainbows composition than it is rhinos and sass. I’d like to pretend that your words don’t hurt me, but the truth is that sometimes they do and I can’t control that. When you tell me to pull myself together and stop being so negative, it stings. Because here I am, baring my soul, trusting strangers with my words and having it thrown back in my face.

Here I am being told that my feelings on any particular subject are not legitimate. They don’t matter; I just need to stop whining about it.

I don’t want to care about this. I don’t want to lie awake, wondering how I could have phrased things differently to avoid this reaction. I don’t want to be angry with myself for giving anything approaching a flying fuck about what anyone else thinks.

But I’ll tell you this for nothing: more than once I have opened a notification from WordPress or Twitter and I have read the words of a stranger with a pounding heart and shaking hands. I have felt diminished. I have cried over words written by people I’ll never meet, who don’t know me and don’t give a shit about how those words have made me feel.

And the inconvenient truth is that I’m just not strong enough for that right now. I’m not brave enough to read those words and face seeing myself through those eyes.

Certainly I was naive to believe that I could put my thoughts and feelings up for public scrutiny and get away with it, but I just wanted to write.

And write I will.

Just not on this platform for a while.

For my sons 

Dear O and F,

Lately I’ve realised that I didn’t bring you into the world that I thought I had. I had so much hope when you were both born, but then things seemed to change. Or maybe the changes were already happening and I hadn’t noticed. Either way, I want you to know that I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that there is so much hatred and division in the world. I’m sorry that most of the stories you see glimpses of on the news are stories of war and misery. I’m sorry that the sea levels are rising and the ice caps are melting. Most of all, I’m sorry that the burden of fixing our broken society – and planet – is going to fall upon the shoulders of your generation.

But there is still a little glimmer of hope alive inside me, and that is because of you. Because I am going to do the very best I can to raise you to be tolerant and inclusive and brave. You are both surrounded by people of different colours and faiths and that is a wonderful thing. You are already learning that those people have exactly the same value as you do in the world, without even being taught. And why should you need to be taught? The only thing you need to know is this: That under our clothes and beneath our skin, no matter which god we answer to – or don’t – we are all the same inside.

Gandhi said that we must be the change we wish to see in the world, but as your mother I have a unique opportunity to go beyond that. I have the opportunity to raise you to also be that change. To teach you to challenge inequality and discrimination. To show you how to make better choices for our planet. To help you to find your voices and use them to speak up for those who have no voice of their own.

I look at you, I see your innocence and your joy and I feel afraid for you. And more than that, I feel guilt. Because there will come a day when I can no longer protect you from the storm happening around you, when I will have to let you see the extent of the damage. I don’t know what the world will look like when you are grown up, but as it stands there is a man in the White House who doesn’t believe in climate change and our own country is on the brink of leaving the European Union. Neither of these facts makes me feel encouraged about the shape of things to come.

But when I look at you, I also see how strong you are. I see how fiercely you love your family and your friends – and, perhaps most importantly, each other -, and I know that you have so much to give to the world. Being with you is exhausting, but it is also healing and rejuvenating. And I know that’s not just because you are children and you are predisposed to be wonderful; it is because of who you are. It’s because you’re funny and smart and kind, and you make me feel hopeful about the future.

So I’m sorry that the world you will inherit is a bit of a mess, but I know that it will be safe in your hands and I’m not going to stop trying to tidy it up in the meantime.

You already are and are going to be amazing.

I love you,

Mum

I hate soft play 

When your kids start school, they suddenly get invited to a lot of parties. O has a much better social life than I do. Next month he’s going to two parties on the same day. I’m totally dreading that day and I genuinely don’t know how I’m going to survive. But yeah, you get the idea; LOTS OF PARTIES. And these parties often take place in one particularly hateful environment: THE SOFT PLAY CENTRE.

Here’s a list of the things I hate about soft play centres. It is not a long list:

EVERYTHING.

Absolutely everything. I hate the noise. I hate the shitty coffee. I hate seeing one of the workers carrying a roll of blue paper towel, a plastic bag and a bottle of disinfectant into the playframe, because it is an obvious sign that someone’s kid has just puked somewhere in there and I pray to god that my own wasn’t anywhere nearby.

Yeah. I fucking hate the places. I’m sorry. I know that probably makes me a total party pooper, but there it is.

However, I quite often have to set aside my hatred of them – and my rampant anxiety surrounding their germ-spreading potential – and take O to a soft play party. And usually I sit there with the other parents and we talk about the kids and drink the horrible coffee and I try not to swear.

Actually, to be honest, sometimes that part of the soft play party is kinda reassuring for me, because I see the eye rolls exchanged between exasperated mums as they comfort their tired, cranky children while they whinge about some other kid being mean. And we all sort of circle around the fact that we are completely knackered until someone says, “God, I’m so tired today. The kids were up at five. FIVE. Why do they do this?!”, which suddenly makes it okay for us all to join in and admit that we are winging it, not winning it.

All of that is fine. Once I’m over my social awkwardness, I’m generally okay in the soft play setting. Until O emerges and drags me in the direction of the playframe while I desperately try to remove my shoes. I hate that part because I always end up smacking my head on something or getting a really bad case of indigestion from trying to squeeze through those fucking awful roller things. Or I end up being the parent who has to convince a bunch of other people’s kids that they will not, in fact, die if they go down the Death Slide. Which usually requires a physical demonstration. And I can’t dick about up there because all of these kids are watching me and counting on me to prove that it is safe and I am not a wuss. But I actually am a bit of a wuss and I don’t really like that slide much at all.

Why am I always that parent?

It’s great for O, of course, because then all of the other kids think his mum is really cool, rather than just a bit of an idiot.

But I learnt something today after my Death Slide stunt, which is that we all wish we were a little bit more of some things and a little bit less of others sometimes.

I wish I was a little – or a lot – more organised. I wish I felt a little better equipped to guide my children into adulthood. I wish that I didn’t always feel a little bit startled every time one of my kids shouts “MUMMY!!!!” And I wish, more than anything, that I could be a little less ridiculous.

But there are other mums who wish they were a little bit more ridiculous and a little bit less afraid of the big slide at the soft play centre.

It’s funny what you can learn on a Sunday morning at a soft play party, isn’t it?

But… I still fucking hate the places.

There he goes

Yesterday was a huge day for me. A day I’ve been dreading and worrying about for months.

Yesterday F started playgroup.
From now on, every Friday morning I will drop him off there after I’ve taken O to school and I will pick him back up after lunch.

And for the four hours in between I will do… what? Clean, I guess. Do the laundry. Run errands.

Miss him.

I didn’t think it would be this hard. But I should have known, because the thing about F is that he and I are together all the time. I go to work two days out of the week, and the other five days we are together.

And it’s not just that.

I didn’t bond with F when he was a baby. At all. Because he was so unsettled all the time, and because I couldn’t cope, maybe I thought he wasn’t for keeps. I didn’t feel like I was good enough for the job of being his mother. I thought that somebody else could do it better. And then everything started to spiral out of control and it was only on the night when I thought there was real chance that he might actually be taken away from me that I started to realise how much I didn’t want that to happen.

Maybe I’ve overcompensated for those first few months. Maybe I’ve babied him more than I should have done. Maybe I’ve allowed him to be a little more dependent on me than he otherwise would have been.

The simple fact is that I adore him. Which is not to say that I don’t feel exactly the same way about his brother, but the thing about O is that he has always treated me as more of a satellite in his life. He wants to know that I’m there if he needs me, and he has no doubt that I love him, but he also wants to be independent.

O and F are different children. Very different. O sees me all the time, but he rarely gets to spend time with his daddy since he started school. So if he’s given the choice between being with me and being with daddy, he will choose to be with daddy.

That’s fair and it seems perfectly logical.

F also sees me all the time, but he also sees a lot more his daddy than O does. And the fact that I’m around a lot means that F always gravitates towards me because I guess he finds me reassuring.

He needs me so much more than his big brother does.

Or so I thought.

But yesterday surprised me. Because I was terrified about how hard it was going to be to walk away and leave him. I was afraid that he would cry and refuse to settle. I was worried that I would get a call asking me to go back and pick him up.

I needn’t have fretted.

F kissed me goodbye and, aside from calling out to me once as I left, he went seamlessly from constantly orbiting me to stepping out on his own without me.

And yes, I cried in my car after I left him. I couldn’t believe that I had walked away from him.

I felt like I’d abandoned him.

But he had a wonderful morning. He didn’t cry, he didn’t once look for or ask for me. He involved himself in new things with new children and he did fine. Better than fine. The play workers showed us photos they’d taken of him playing and he has a big, beaming smile in every single one of them.


When I picked him up, he was happy to see me. But I could also tell that he’d been just fine without me, that his happiness wasn’t dependent on my physical presence. Once again, he amazed me with how strong and brave he really is.

He also proved to me what I have always been unsure of; that he knows I love him and that he is secure in that fact. I’ve always wondered if he knew, or if the fact that I was a terrible mother at the start would somehow ruin his chances of ever
feeling safe and loved.

It’s a relief to know that I haven’t fundamentally damaged him. That everything I’ve done since those dark days has been enough for him to know.

My baby is growing up, and while that wrenches at something inside of me that I can’t quite put a name to, I am so endlessly proud of him.

I am so privileged to be his mother.

Gift planning with Uncommongoods.com

Every year at this time I find myself surprised by the passage of time. That we can reach the end of another 365 day cycle and feel like we somehow didn’t notice the days going by. I don’t know if it’s just me, but time seems to be moving so much more quickly since I had children. I measure the passing of the years by their progress, by how they change and grow and I don’t even see it while it’s happening right in front of me.

So, in the interest of life passing quickly, I’m attempting to quash my Christmas blues with a little bit of gift planning. I love buying gifts for people, and I put a lot of thought into finding something that is right for the person I’m buying for. And, most of all, I like to try and find something a little unusual, which generally sees me trawling Etsy and crying at the shipping costs.

However, I’ve been looking at gifts at Uncommongoods.com and I think I might have struck gift-buying gold.

I think I’ve already touched on the fact that I’m a bit of an eco-warrior. Or, at least, you’ve probably read between the lines and figured it out for yourselves. So the fact that sustainability and the environment are important to this company is a huge factor for me. They’re also completely animal friendly – no leather, fur or feathers – and the paper used to make their catalogues is from FSC certified forests.

Amazing.

You can read more about the company behind the products here.

Our anniversary is coming up in June – I know, I know; I’ve got ages yet – and the last thing I want is to be scrambling at the last minute to find a special gift for N. So I had a look around the anniversary collection and found some gorgeous things. Including this:

journal

12 Ways To Say “I Love You” Journal

When N and I celebrated our first anniversary as a couple, I had spent the months leading up to it putting together a scrap book of photographs, ticket stubs and anecdotes. The idea was that I would add to it every year, but I never got round to it. So this would be great for me, because it gives me all the prompting I need to create something really special.

You can find more inspiration for anniversary gifts here:
http://www.uncommongoods.com/gifts/anniversary-gifts/anniversary-gifts

My mom’s birthday is also coming up in March, so I thought I’d have a look at gift ideas for her too. I love this wishing ball, which encourages you to make one wish every week for a year and place the wishes inside the glass ball. You can’t get them back out, but you’ve got a keepsake forever filled with a year full of your wishes and dreams. I also adore the idea of this book, a great gift for any parent or grandparent to record the story of their own life and pass down to their children and grandchildren. Like me, my mom loves to write and I can see her losing herself in writing her life story.

Check out more birthday gift ideas here:
http://www.uncommongoods.com/gifts/birthday-gifts

I also couldn’t resist having a look around to see what I could find for sprucing up our home and garden, and I stumbled across this gorgeous solar powered mason jar. For our last anniversary, my mom bought us a bench for the garden and it would be lovely to sit outside in the evening with one of these lanterns on the table between us. Also, clean, green energy is always a win.

mason-jar

Solar powered mason jar

If you’re looking for something for your home or garden, you’ll find the full collection here:
http://www.uncommongoods.com/home-garden/home-decor

There are gifts to suit every budget and for every kind of person you can think of, and I could spend hours looking through everything. If you’re passionate about the environment and you want to find something quirky and special for someone you love, I can’t recommend Uncommongoods.com highly enough.

Happy gift hunting!

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More of my favourites

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Uncommongoods.com. All images used in this post are the property of Uncommongoods.com. The views and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Standing there alone

Dear dads in the playground,

I see you standing there and I know by your body language that you feel a bit awkward and out of place. Like you don’t really belong, because all around you is a sea of mums. We’ve had some kind of progress over the last ten years, but you’re still a minority here.

Don’t stand there on your own, though. Come and talk to me. Because you might feel like an outsider, but I feel like an imposter.

Sure, I’m the same gender as most of the other parents here, but I don’t think of myself as one of them. We have the same credentials on paper, which is to say that we are mothers and we are here to collect our children. But I look at these other women and I don’t feel like I’m part of the clan.

It’s hard to explain why that is, really. I could say it’s because I’m a “young mum”, but I’m not far off turning 30 now and I don’t really think that applies anymore. Maybe it’s because I perceive these other women to be more successful than I am, both as mothers and in their working lives. It could even simply be the fact that they look like they’ve got their shit together and I don’t feel like I ever will.

Or it might just be the difference between their expensive Ugg boots and my battered Converse.

But the thing is, you dads make me feel at ease. I don’t struggle to make conversation with you. When you’re having a shit time and you’re tired and running out of patience, you don’t grit your teeth and pretend everything’s fine. You own it. You’re not in competition with anybody, but I feel like us mums always are. We are always trying to be better than the mum next to us.

I mean, that’s not the case once you’ve scratched the surface and cultivated a proper friendship with a fellow mum. Then the warts-and-all of motherhood comes out and I feel like it’s okay to admit that some days I struggle. But when you’re just chatting in the playground, you laugh off the fact that your toddler has scribbled all over your linoleum floor, even though you feel like you’re dying a little bit inside every time you look at it. You don’t admit that you’ve ever lost your shit and shouted, or wondered for just a fleeting second if it was such a good idea to have children after all.

But you dads do, and I admire you so much for that. Here are three recent conversations I’ve had with dads:

Dad 1: “I’m so tired I feel like my eyelids are turning inside out. When is he ever going to just sleep through the night?!”

Dad 2: “How was your summer? Ours was looooooonnnngggg.”

Dad 3: “I know all of the parenting books tell you that you shouldn’t do it and it doesn’t work and it’s the worst parenting fail ever… but the only time he listens to me is when I shout at him!”

I’ve never heard any of the mums in the playground say any of those things to each other. And it’s not that I don’t think they ever do, it’s just that they do it in the evening over dinner with their partners or during a rare outing for drinks with their trusted mum confidantes. But I’m not like them; I’m more like you. I don’t see the point in pretending, because I don’t understand why we perpetuate this competitive culture.

So come and talk to me. Tell me you’re tired and struggling and your kids drove you to despair last night when they flatly refused to get out of the bath and go to bed. I won’t judge you; I’ll empathise completely. I love my children. I love them so much that when they hug me, I never want to let them go. I look forward to seeing their faces and hearing their little voices every single morning when I wake up.

But I am not sailing through this and I can’t be bothered to try and keep up the facade that I am.

You’re all brilliant dads, and I can see that you love your children just as fiercely as I do my own. I can see it in their faces when they are so delighted that daddy is picking them up today, and in your own when you sweep them up into your arms. But your honesty comforts me, and I hate to see you standing there alone.

And if you’re reading this as a fellow mum and you feel like you don’t belong, it’s not just you; I’m right there with you. I’ll be the awkward to your uncomfortable, if you like.

We’re all in this together, aren’t we?

Yours,

Davina