We carry on

A few days ago, after the school run, I went round to my mums house for a cup of coffee. I wanted to use her washing machine because ours had broken and we had also planned to go out shopping together because I needed to buy some warmer clothes for my toddler.

When I got there she told me about a dream she’d had the night before.

She dreamt that for some reason we all had to evacuate our homes and never come back. She dreamt that she was looking after the kids and was trying to get them to each put their things into rucksacks. She was stuffing her own clothes and bits and bobs into an old suitcase and telling them to pack their things and they wouldn’t listen to her and were just playing with their toys and generally just acting like little kids.

‘Just go and get all of your pants,’ she was saying to them. ‘Just go and get all of your pants and socks and put them into a bag.’

In her dream she knew that we had to leave and we would never be coming back. We were all being evacuated. She desperately shoved stuff into bags, knowing that our transport would come and go and that it would be our only chance to get away.

She told me about this a few days ago now. We were sitting in her quiet lounge drinking coffee. Outside the street was still apart from the odd car now and then, and on all the trees lining the road, the leaves were silently and ever so slowly turning brown. The sky was a dirty grey and the air had been getting colder and colder over the last few weeks. I thought about how I really needed to get some long sleeved t-shirts for my toddler and we started to discuss whether we should go to Marks and Spencers or to Sainsbury’s.

We talked about how it was worth paying a bit more for some bits that would wash well.

I thought about his chubby little arms in his short sleeves and how I didn’t want them to get cold.

‘The thing is,’ I said to my Mum

in the quiet lounge

while my son played with a train set in the corner

‘The thing is,’

and outside the trees flicked their branches around in the wind and more leaves blew off into the sky

‘Don’t you just feel like here we are, living our lives just like normal, but then there’s just this sea of people, there’s just thousands and thousands of people who are just suffering and dying



like when I am on facebook or something and I just see these pictures of toddlers

who are just white with dust

who are just lying in the dust

of another blown up building

Where will they go?

What will happen to them?

What will happen to all of these people who have had to leave everything?

All these people who are living in tents in the cold and the mud.’

And we talked about it for a minute and we both said how awful it must be and how good it is that finally, FINALLY at least the children are starting to come, even though it is not enough and it is far too late for some.

We talked about how we see these stories on the television and on social media and we want to do something. We talked about how we just carry on living our peaceful lives, but just a few miles away, thousands of people live in a chaos of tents and cold and hunger and how there are children there, children with nothing and with no one to look after them.

We talked for a moment about how we would like to do more and about what we could do.

After a few minutes we stopped talking about the refugee crisis and started talked about where we should go to buy long sleeved T-Shirts again. We drove up the M2 to the shopping centre. I tried some stuff on but it didn’t fit me very well and my mum tried a coat on but decided not to buy it. When I had picked out some bits for my son and two T-shirts for me we went to the café and had lunch. I had a BLT and my son had the chicken nuggets kids meal.

We just carried on with our lives.

Carried on with the school runs and dinner making and work and watching telly.

Carried on with reading stuff on twitter and Facebook.

Carried on watching gogglebox.

Me and my husband carried on with our late night conversations about what day we should order the food shopping and what washing machine we should buy.

On the weekend I took my five-year-old to a birthday party. It was a great party and an animal man had brought some owls and birds of prey to show the children. He did a little talk about the birds and got them to do some flying demonstrations. As part of the demonstrations he laid a sheet down on the floor and got all the kids to lie down and had an owl fly over them. They loved it and they all lay on the floor in a line giggling next to each other.
We just carry on with our lives.

I watch the news and I google stuff I don’t understand and try to read about how things have gotten like this in Syria and in other countries where people feel so unsafe that they have no other choice but to flee. I sign petitions and click that ‘I am interested’ in going to certain demos and events, but I am too scared to take my kids along with me and also I couldn’t afford to keep going into London.

Those are my excuses anyway.

Do you remember when we all marched against the Iraq war in 2003?

It was said to be the ‘largest protest event in human history.’ I had never been part of something so momentous and big before. It was five days before my twentieth birthday. My last five days as a teenager.

I wonder how my generation would feel about politics if those demonstrations had made any difference. I wonder where we would be now.

I wrote all of these thoughts down the other day and I wasn’t going to publish them, but then last night when my kids were in bed and I was going through my photos on my phone and I saw this one photo and I just didn’t know where it had come from and I thought,

Did I screenshot something from a news article by accident?

Why would I screenshot something so horrible?

It was a picture of twenty or so children. Children the same age as my oldest. They were all laid out in a line on a sheet. They were all face up.

I looked at it a few moments more and I realised what it was. I zoomed in a bit and saw that it was my daughter and her primary school friends on the sheet, not because they had been dragged out of a bombed building, but because they were waiting for an owl to fly over their faces.

I deleted it.

I did not want to look at a picture of my daughter and her classmates all laid out on a sheet together. All in a neat little line. All those little faces that I see on playdates and birthday parties and at the school gates each morning, running around with their little bookbags flying out behind them.

And after I deleted it I decided I would publish this, despite it being a jumble of fairly ignorant thoughts on the refugee crisis.

I hoped that if you felt like me, maybe horrified and also a bit helpless as you see this endless suffering unfold in Syria and in the people who have had to leave and walk and walk and walk and risk drowning in the sea in order to find safety. That if you, like me, are thinking this week about the jungle as it is closed down and about the thousands of people who will be moved on again, then maybe we could at least give some money together.

I’ve read around a bit and found that unicef are doing some amazing work to help in Syria and to help in refugee camps throughout Europe, especially with children and families . I’m going to ask if you’ll give five pounds with me. It seems so trivial in the face of such a crisis to just give money. It feels so removed somehow but the thing is, maybe a thousand other mums will read this tonight. Maybe more if you feel like sharing this post on your social media. Maybe two thousand mums will read this tonight and if we all gave five pounds together then that’s really something, ten thousand pounds is a lot of money.

Please join in.

You could donate £5 to unicef by texting UNICEF to 70099

Alternatively you could visit their website to a donate a monthly amount to the Syria appeal here


Looking out from Dover to Calais on the day the Jungle was demolished
Looking out from Dover to Calais on the day the Jungle was demolished

We need to talk about threadworms

Every now and then I have an experience in my ‘journey’ as a parent which I feel should be filed under a section of my brain titled ‘I didn’t really think about this kind of thing before I decided to have kids.’ One such recent moment would be when I noticed that there was a couple of little white pieces of cotton, kind of thrashing around in the contents of my toddler’s nappy.

That’s weird, I thought to myself.

Has he swallowed some cotton somehow?

And if he has, why are the pieces of cotton kind of, moving about?



I . . . . I . . .

I think I have heard something about this somewhere before. Is this worms? Do kids get worms? Do grown-ups get worms? Do I have worms? Oh my fucking, fucking, shitting, fucking hell.



I then began a kind of frantic google search about thread worms which was both informative and thoroughly disgusting. Yes, my son had worms, at least two of which I had just quadruple nappy bagged and binned and then taken out to the wheely bin. I also found out by my google search that I could get an over the counter treatment from the pharmacy.

Five minutes later I was at the counter of my nearest pharmacy.

‘Erm,’ I began, ‘I erm, unfortunately I errr, I need a worm treatment for my family. For the whole of my family, you know, just in case.’

The pharmacist looked even more bored than before I arrived at the counter, turned round and grabbed a couple of packets from the shelf behind her and plopped them down next to the till. She explained, in a way which made it sound like she had said the same words a gazillion times already that week who should take what treatment and when they should be repeated etc.

‘And is there any cream or anything?’ I asked and then whispered. ‘You know, for his bum?’

‘No,’ she said. ‘You just have to take the medicine and wait for them to die.’

‘Wait?! You mean, they don’t just all immediately die straight away?’

She kind of smirked a little bit. ‘No, I’m afraid it might take a day or two.’

I got back into the car with my various pills and potions and a general feeling of horror. I drove home and tried not to think about how there might be worms living inside my bum. As I drove through the streets I looked at all the people in all the other cars and wondered whether they might also contain people who had worms living up their bums.

When I got home I did some more googling in between texting various friends who we had seen for play dates around the time to sound the ‘WORMS!!’ claxon. My worms claxon was basically a horrified text containing lots of turd and caterpillar emojis (caterpillar was the closest emoji to a worm). I was devouring all internet worm related information at incredible speed whilst at the same time trying to not touch my son at all and washing my hands every ten to twenty seconds.

Quite soon I felt that I knew every possible thing there was to know about thread worms from the internet and I had also branched out a little bit to read about tapeworms and stumbled on a couple of truly horrifying stories about some other kinds of worms that live in people’s eyes and ears and stuff. Before I got totally sucked into a parasite information wormhole (see what I did there) involving stories about spiders laying eggs under your skin and snakes swimming up through your u-bend to live in your bathroom etc I managed to gather the following useful information;

Thread worms live inside your lower intestine.

When they reach maturity the female worms wriggle out of your bumhole to lay eggs at night.





I’m not sure how they know that it is night. I mean, it’s not like they carry microscopic watches around (ok round up girls, it’s bumhole egg laying time) and it’s not like they can see it go dark or anything and therefore know that it is night time. They probably sense a drop in temperature or something.

I dunno really.

I’ll google it later.

Their eggs give kids an itchy bum which they then scratch in their sleep and then the eggs spread about onto their hands, under fingernails, on bedding etc (they are too small for the naked eye to see).

Thread worms lay literally thousands of microscopic eggs at a time which can live outside the body on surfaces, in dust, on clothing, anywhere really, for up to six weeks.

Thread worm medication prevents the worms from being able to absorb glucose so it basically causes them to starve to death. It does not kill of any unhatched eggs which have been ingested so you have to take another dose two weeks later to deal with any hatchlings.

The cycle begins when a person ingests an egg by touching a contaminated surface and then touching food or putting their fingers in their mouths.

At any given time it is estimated that 40% of primary school aged children have threadworms.


Well that’s what it said on the packet for the medication anyway.

Apparently you get rid of thread worms by getting everyone in your household to take the medicine on the same day (so that you don’t reinfect each other) and then again two weeks later and then there’s also this whole thing about following a very strict hygiene routine for several weeks.

Now this is when worms goes from being a horrifying shock to just being really fucking boring.

I’m not a fan of endless laundry or maintaining an immaculate house but oh my goodness, under threat of worms coming out of my bum at night to have a little wormy egg laying party on my anus, it turns out I can actually maintain an absolutely spotless house pretty well.
After getting everyone to take the medicine my husband and I spent that evening hoovering, mopping, dusting, bleaching, scrubbing, and loading and unloading the washing machine and tumble dryer. We washed everything, I mean all of the kids’ toys, cuddly and plastic, every piece of furniture, every block of duplo, every door knob and surface around the house, everything.

There was this moment when I was lathering up our leather pouffe with hot soapy water and he was cramming the washing machine full of cuddly toys and I looked at him and I thought, I just don’t know who we are anymore.

Our house became hotel-like. It became like the kind of hotel we could probably not afford to go to actually; immaculate surfaces, clean towels every morning, fresh bed sheets and pillow cases every day.

Although, on the other hand, it would be a pretty weird hotel if someone shouted at you to wash your hands (and use the nailbrush) before you ate any kind of snack or meal and you also had to go to bed wearing both pants and pyjama bottoms and then lie awake wondering what might happen to your bum hole during the night.

That’s not somewhere that anyone would like to stay.

Changing the sheets and towels for clean ones everyday (alright, alright, every other day) was just so eye glazingly boring. I think it was actually so boring that it was worse than the horror of finding the worms in the first place. It’s the endless washing that would put me off having them again more than anything else.

I became rather obsessed with hand washing. I mean, I know we are all supposed to get our kids to wash their hands before they eat but when you really think about it, do you actually make your kids wash their hands before every single meal, snack and drink? I know that I don’t. Well, I didn’t anyway before worm gate. I do now.

In the end, worms were only ever spotted in the toddler’s nappy and no one else actually showed any signs or symptoms of having worms or catching them at a later date from the toddler. However, I had such a strong reaction to the deworming medication that it’s amazing even I was alive at the end of the two days and nights which followed, never mind any parasites. I was very ill and spent a lot of time on the toilet, feebly shouting things out to the kids like,

‘Be kind to each other.’

Whenever I heard them squabbling over a toy pram or whatever from downstairs.

It was pretty grim.

Right now we are worm free. However, I think I’m just going to get my kids to take the medicine every few months, just as a precaution. They had no bad reaction to it at all and didn’t even really mind the taste of it that much. I mean, people do exactly the same thing with their animals but with our kids we wait for them to become infested before actually deworming them.

So there you go, that’s everything I know about threadworms so far.

Please note that all of the information in this blogpost about thread worms is just stuff I read on the internet and I am not in any way any kind of medical person.

I’ll leave you with this beautiful illustration I created on the notes app on my iphone.

You’re so welcome.

Have a relaxing evening.


When I am old

When I reach my arm behind me into the backseat of the car and hold your little calf in the palm of my hand.
When your head is just under my chin and you are sleeping, drooling a little onto my neck.
When I stroke the back of your arm with my fingertip through the cot bars, until you go to sleep.

When I am reading my book and peppa pig is on and you are brumming your cars up and down my shins, across my shoulders, down my arms.
When I plait your hair and you are in your school uniform and we are running late.
When you are crying and I wrap you up in my lap, like you are still a baby.
When I held you still and tight against my body for your injections.

When you laugh.
When I shout.
When I brush your teeth.
When I pick you up from school and we go home for a drink and a snack and some telly.

When you were so new in your little light box and I wasn’t supposed to pick you up and you cried and cried and I put my finger in for you to hold onto.

When I didn’t know how to feed you.
When I fed and walked and rocked you for hours.
When day and night was just day, day, day, day and the longest of days.

When I cried on the bench outside the supermarket.
When you slept on my pillow, sideways with your smooth heels pressing onto your father’s neck.
When you threw your shoe at my head because you didn’t want to have a wash.
When you were so angry that you wouldn’t sit with me in the park.

When you were sick.
When I held a cold damp flannel onto your hot little head and tried to mix your antibiotics with anything I could think of so you would take them.
When you were really sick and your feet didn’t even reach half way down the end of the hospital bed.

When we went to the cinema and ate popcorn in the dark.
When I saw you talking into the microphone at the class assembly
and then watched it back fifty more times on my phone that week.
When you read to me

When we danced together
in the kitchen after dinner
to the My Little Pony music
on my phone.

Or what about that grey day
when we were running in and out of the sea?

What about when we got home and
you sat on the step in the garden
and one by one
you took each of the shells
that you had chosen from the wet sand

from out of your yellow bucket
and put them in a line,
picked out the biggest one
and held it up to my ear

‘Listen,’ you said
and you looked at me and waited

‘Oh yes,’ I said.

‘The sea.’

When I am old will I remember these things?

And if my mind does start to go
what about the rest of me?

The hands that held yours, the arms that carried you,
the shoulders and the hips that you clung to,
the lap that you slept on, the shins you scrambled up,
the thumb that I used to wipe the toothpaste stain from off your lip at the school gate,
the back that you stretched out on as we lay on the sofa and watched tv,
the chin and the neck that your head fit so perfectly into while you napped.

Will these parts of me remember somehow?

Will my fingertips recall
each of the soft little hairs that I stroked away from your face
as you slept?

Even seashells remember
still continue their roar
of applause for the ocean
long after they have left.

When I am old
when my mind has gone
please know that I am still cheering
that even with the creak of my bones
and the shuffle of my feet
that even with the slowness of my breath as I fall asleep.

I am still declaring myself
over and over
your absolute
number 1 fan.



I can feel everything


Let’s just

Let’s talk about housework for a start

Let’s just talk about

I screamed

I begged

as I splashed around
in the birthing pool
and the people that were there
were trying to find a pen

that they had dropped
and they were like
trying to look at my vagina
with an underwater torch.

You know, just the other day I was
I was cleaning out the
and loading up the
and I started thinking about the
and the isolation that comes from

that gungy drawer that you put the fabric conditioner in
you know?

or emptying the bathroom bin?

and like

why is there an apple core in here anyway?
like who eats an apple
on the bloody toilet anyway?
Who does that?

‘Fucking hell,’ I said
and rubbed my forehead.

I dunno.

Does that make me a bad person?


I guess I just find myself
hoovering the
one at a time
and then hoovering the sofas
and reading about how you can

but boredom is something that I
and in the next moment I wonder if I
or wouldn’t feel so lonely
you know?

It’s not about having the time to
or not having the time to even think about
or even about
going to soft play.

It’s just really fucking complicated basically.

or it’s like
you know those dried on bits
from the dishwasher
or those smeary bits on the windows that won’t

or partially eaten biscuits?

well it’s just that
sometimes when I’m
or putting their clothes away
and sometimes I

about that and having to make the dinner

I dunno.

I can feel everything
I screamed
the dried on bits, the smeary bits
the ninky nonk, the tombilboos trousers,
listlessness, absentmindedness,
Mr Tumble’s spotty bag,
a crushing kind of guilt.

I can feel everything

Does that make me a bad person?



you know?

Let’s just talk about peeling bits of
or wiping down the
or squashing all the nappy bags into the
Let’s talk about like

hoovering cheerios off
my socks or something
or folding up the

from off of the floor.
On one level I couldn’t seem to
or even manage


don’t get me wrong.
I know that I’m lucky.

Leaking capri sun pouches
Upsy Daisy.
The sticking brake on my buggy.
Packets of baby wipes that cannot be opened with one hand.
That stuffed toy
that I forgot to prepare lunch for.
A part time job doing photocopying.

just flapping around
like that time
when I forgot to re-clip my nursing bra
in costas

all these things have strengthed me
a little

I dunno.


Hey, do you remember that time when I
and I was like
or just cry so hard
about absolutely
and my nipples were just

in the supermarket car park?

I dunno.

It’s kind of like.
It’s kind of like.
It’s kind of like.

All I really want, you know?
is a big strong coffee
and also I would like to drink that coffee
completely on my own.

I’m sorry ok
I’m so sorry

I’m sorry
that I would not let you eat the coins
that you found in my bag
or the tampon
that you so carefully unwrapped

come on put them down now
come on put them down
darling please don’t please can you
just can mummy have the

can you just

It’s kind of like
It’s kind of like saying
that folding up the
or loading up the
or emptying the
or even changing his

is like

I dunno.

I can feel everything
I can feel everything now
I can feel so incredibly lucky
I can feel so incredibly bored

I can feel everything
I can feel everything now

Does that make me a bad person?

drippy boobs

My Stupid Thoughts

The first night of our holiday
I am awake, imagining
people sneaking
into our tent while we sleep.

Things will go badly.
Things will go badly.
Things will go badly.

In the morning my husband suggests cycling.

What shall we. No, that sounds like it might. Bikes might be a bit of a bad idea coz like, what if, what if they start? What if they don’t? What if we need to? What if it rains? What if they start to get?

and then we have already
and can’t get back
and they won’t want to
and if they start crying
and I dunno.
I just.

I just.

I just think it might be a nightmare.

Things will go badly.
Things will go badly.
Things will go badly.

God, I can hear myself.

I can hear myself.
I can see myself too
lying awake in the dark,
holding onto the sides in the pool,
looking into the sky outside the window
checking everything again and again before we leave the house each day.

Nappies. Wipes. Snack. Drink. Keys. Phone. Toy.
Nappies. Wipes. Snack. Drink. Keys. Phone. Toy.
Nappies. Wipes. Snack. Drink. Keys. Phone. Toy.

At the front door;

did I definitely put a snack in?

‘Well, you’re much more relaxed with them when you have your second,’ they say.
‘You’re much more relaxed and it makes them more relaxed.’
‘You’re happy, so they’re happy.’
‘Everyone is happy.’
‘Happy Mum, happy child.’
‘It’s important that you are relaxed.’
‘You must find time to relax.’
‘Just take a nice deep breath.’
‘You just need to be more relaxed.’

‘I feel stressed all the time.’ I tell people.
‘Mmmm,’ they say.
‘I worry a lot,’ I say.
‘Mmmm,’ they say and then,

‘Did you hear about the boy’s body, that they found in a wheelie bin? Such an awful story,’ they say.
‘Have you seen that story in the news, the one about the little girl that choked on a . . . ?’
‘I was watching this documentary about this paedophile ring last night and  . . .’

Who will do all of this worrying?
Who would carry this?
Does someone have to?
Isn’t it somebody’s job?

A job watching a screen full of stupid thoughts
and endless possibilities.
Playing over and over in my head.
A day out begins and ends there
where I see the worst things
and sometimes the terrible things

and decide not to go.

Things will go badly.
Things will go badly.
Things will go badly.

It is a chorus that repeats
over and over
gnawing its way at night
around the edges of my happiness.

Things will go badly.
Things will go badly.
Things will go badly.

Half way down a hill
on the bikes that I didn’t want to hire
I see her flying
Knobbly little knees pumping the pedals.

The sun and the wind eating up my words behind her


sticking in my throat.

‘Weeeeeeeeeeee!’ she cries
and she laughs a laugh
that bounces
off the tall trees and
the tarmac of the road

Her brother behind me in the bike trailer shouting,

‘Mummah! Mummah! Gooooo!’

as we fly down behind her.

Things will go badly.
Things will go badly.
Things will go badly.

Going down that hill.

I loosened my grip on the brake
and laughed a laugh that only I could hear.

You were wrong, I say to my chorus.
You were lying.

Some things will go well

Some things will go so