a tale of two grannies

May 23, 2011 § 8 Comments

“You’ve cut your hair off?” greets Mother In Law, when I see her for the first time since Easter. “It suits you better longer.” I am a little hurt by this, and don’t pretend not to be. I am heavily pregnant waddling into a gastropub full of quite attractive people and feeling more than a little unattractive. “What?” she says, noticing the look on my face. “Would you prefer me to lie?” At this I giggle. “Well, yes!” I reply, truthfully.

You see the thing is, I’ve long learnt not to be offended by my MIL’s bluntness. She means no harm. When I saw my own mum, about a week ago, she was the polar opposite. I was glowing, I was beautiful, and yes, my hair really suits me short. I learnt a long time ago, pretty much as soon as I had children, that the truth of the matter lies somewhere in between what I’m told by the two grannies. So in truth, my hair probably looks OK, not bad, but not amazing either.

Never was this tale of two grannies more evident than when becoming a mum myself for the first time. Feeling pretty clueless I was open to advice from those who had been there and done that. MIL’s advice was pretty much “give up breastfeeding, start drinking more wine, get the child into a routine.” Mum’s advice was along the lines of “breastfeed long past the stage that strangers start giving you disapproving looks in public, don’t worry about bedtimes, let the child sleep where it falls.” I soon learnt, running the gauntlet of parental advice, that if I plonked myself somewhere in the middle of these two approaches, it would pretty much work out fine.  

Now I know that both grandmas love their grandchildren very much, and would do anything for any of us. Just their manner differs somewhat. Take my children and their accomplishments as an example. Mum coos and says things like “ooh aren’t they advanced for their age.” MIL’s first comment about 1yo yesterday? “He’s not talking much, is he?” On this basis I conclude that 1yo is about average and doing fine. What would I do without them?

Chilled out

May 11, 2011 § 10 Comments

Very grateful to Tara Cain over at Sticky Fingers this week, for her excellently timed Gallery theme ‘chilled out.’ My mum turns 60 this week and after a difficult couple of years undergoing regular treatment for secondary cancer, my sister and I wanted to treat her to a couple of days well deservered relaxation and pampering. Of course, the added bonus was that my little sis and I, both soon-to-be-mums-of-three, were forced to chill out with her. This is me, sunning the bump. We chose The Grove in Hertfordshire, which turned out to be a great choice. A totally unstuffy hotel – the chef at dinner came over to chat and showed off pics of his 5 month old son, then sang mum happy birthday.
(Crap photographer though.)

The hotel and grounds are stuffed full of amazing sculpture, and every corridor displays plastic tables containing various amusing objects such as plastic ducks, watering can tops. Outside there’s a walled garden and a fake beach, outdoor pool and kids club (not that I cared- ha!) The spa treatments were incredible – once I’d got over the miniscule paper G-string and napkin sized ‘modesty towel’ the therapist put over my chest. This morning my sis put me to shame by swimming 100 lengths of the pool (she’s 3 years younger and 6 weeks less pregnant OK) whilst I lay in the room watching re-runs of Relocation Relocation and eating pancakes. Extremely relaxing. Back to work tomorrow with a bump. Happy birthday mum, here’s hoping we can spoil you again next year.

do they ever grow up?

May 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

This is a short one. I have two days off work and childcare because my sister and I are taking my mum to a swanky spa hotel for her 60th birthday. I feel like it’s Christmas and I’m 5 years old. Mum has bought a new dress to wear for dinner. I have about ten minutes to find and pack some kind of dress that will make me, at eight months pregnant, look a bit less like a weeble.

However I just have to post about something that OH told me on Saturday night because it has been making me chuckle ever since. After quite a few glasses of red wine, he started talking about Ben 10. How much he likes it. How him and 3yo sneakily watch episodes of it when I’m in the shower in the morning and such-like, because I don’t really approve of violent cartoons.

As his confession unfolded he admitted to having watched every episode of every series except for one. What’s more, he’s gutted that he has never caught this one episode. He has even been on Wikipedia to read up about this episode, its plotline, characters etc. Can I just point out for emphasis that OH is 37. As in, nearly 40. And this is a cartoon quite squarely aimed at young boys. It’s not a cartoon like Family Guy or South Park, aimed at adults yet even children will find it funny. Nor is it a cartoon aimed at both children and adults like The Simpsons. Or even a cartoon aimed at children yet containing occasional nods to its adult audience like The Magic Roundabout. No. It’s a childish cartoon about a small boy who turns into aliens, zaps the bad guys, and returns to being a small boy again. Same storyline each time, different alien. Deary deary me. Maybe I’ll buy him an Omnitrix for his 38th birthday. (Having just read the Wiki for this Omnitrix link, it occurs to me that this has been written by grown adults. Can you believe the level of detail? Clearly OH is not alone in his devotion to Benjamin Tennyson. Ladies, watch your husbands very, very, closely….)

my true love story

May 1, 2011 § 8 Comments

When manic mum and super amazing mum asked me to join in with their new ‘peeping Tom’ meme, and write my true love story, I went white, then green, then white again. I mean, having to be nice about my OH? And in public? When he’ll probably read it? But upon due consideration I’ve decided that I’ll give it my best shot.

I first met OH when I was a tender 19 years of age. I was at Leeds University bar, and my first thought was ‘what a funny looking bloke.’ He was tall, skinny, and had hair like a microphone. Mind you I was tall, skinny, and had hair that I had just bleached blonde but that had gone distinctly orange, so god knows what he saw in me either.

Anyway, fast forward a week or two, and I ended up on a drunken night out with future OH and his friends. We were at an extremely dodgy nightclub called Jackomelly’s, and he bought me a beer. At a time when everyone bought their own, I remember feeling distinctly fluttery of tummy at this gesture. It was a balmy summer’s evening (yes, in Leeds!), around Euro ’96, and we all walked back towards Hyde Park trying to shin up lamposts and steal football flags (you can see the romance building, right?) We ended up at a house party on Woodhouse Moor, and when he first kissed me outside the party the moment was slightly ruined by several of his mates shouting ‘wahay’ out of a first floor window.

Fast forward sixteen years and here we are with our third child on the way. Our twenties were spent working, partying, travelling, and splitting up and getting back together more than a few times. Mainly my fault. The most dramatic of these entailing me spending my 30th birthday alone on a Mexican beach crying into my marguerita. In some ways meeting your soulmate at nineteen is fantastic – we have such a shared history and have grown up together. On the other hand I just don’t think I was grown up enough to appreciate what we had, for a long time. When we finally got back together once and for all, baby Wilson was conceived at my sister’s wedding shortly afterwards, and from then on our relationship has only got stronger.

What can I really say about OH? He isn’t at all funny looking. He is extremely handsome. He is the kindest person I have ever met, he would put himself out for anybody. My family adore him. My two younger brothers phone him more than they phone me. He is acerbic, funny, clever. He is always laughing. We think the same way about things. He is a wonderful father. I’m very very lucky to have him. One day, I would like to be his wife. It’s been sixteen years though, so far, so let’s not rush things.

quick nap under T-Rex

March 6, 2011 § 12 Comments

the kids will never spot him

bonding over bacon

February 16, 2011 § 3 Comments

The theme over at Sticky Fingers’ Gallery this week is ‘togetherness.’ So I thought I’d add this pic of me and me ma. As mum is unwell I’ve resolved that each month I will go and visit her just me, without the urchins. Just to the left out of shot is some frying bacon. The fact that she’s unwell doesn’t seem to stop her from making me and everyone else in the family their breakfast. Good old mums.

here’s to mum’s. And here’s to sharing.

January 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

An ex-colleague of mine and I used to giggle a lot about our Welsh mothers. In particular their great line in tragi-comic story telling. Unlike me my colleague was born and brought up in Wales. She used to do a cracking impression of her mother on the phone. ‘You know great Auntie Val’s stepbrother Malcolm’s daughter Susan? Well Susan’s car mechanic Rhys has has just left his one-legged wife Iris for Susan’s 16 year old daughter Laura. You know… the daughter that looks suspiciously like Susan’s next door neighbour Gladwell, with the facial herpes?’ 

So I’ve just come off the phone with my (Welsh) grandfather after a good chat about the cyst on his leg. And I thought…you know what? So many people as they get older live with illness and tragedy. Surely it’s a good thing to talk about it?

Take cancer for example. This weekend I was reading about how cancer is becoming ‘the new normal’. According to Cancer Research UK

  • Every two minutes someone is diagnosed with cancer in the UK
  • More than 1 in 3 people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime, and 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer.

This weekend I spent a lovely Friday night with my mum. I left the urchins at home, and escaped for a good catchup over pizza and garlic bread. We rarely get the time just us to talk about things. Mum is 59 and living with secondary cancer. This sucks. Lots.

So it’s Saturday at 9am and at the first signs of stirrings from my room  mum appears with a cup of tea and my favourite section of the paper, ushering me back into bed. She’s up and dressed, has done a wash, hung it on the line, and completed the G2 crossword (in pencil so I can rub it out and start again. I never complete it though. Grrr.)  My mug is removed to the dishwasher and my bed made up as soon as I disappear into the shower. She’s made me breakfast before I’ve had a chance to blink. Later in the day my teenage brothers are awoken at a time of their choosing (after midday) with a similar steaming hot cup of tea, and various incentives to do exam revision. How do some mum’s do this? I don’t feel I have properly earnt the job title yet.

Here’s to mum’s. And here’s to sharing.

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