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
‘Listen.’
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.

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I can feel everything

1

Let’s just
just

Let’s talk about housework for a start

Let’s just talk about

‘I CAN FEEL EVERYTHING,’
I screamed
‘I CAN FEEL EVERYTHING,’
‘SOMEBODY HELP ME’

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?


2

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?


3

Just

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
or

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

Now,

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.


4

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
the

‘BE CAREFUL!’

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

unbelievably

well.

Was it enough?

At the end of each day with my kids I find myself asking this question. Was it enough today? Did I do enough with them? Was it good enough?

The summer holidays are a key time to feel like shit about yourself as a parent I reckon. You feel like everyday you should be visiting castles and museums and exploring the woods or whatever. Maybe it’s just me, but I never really feel like I am doing enough. We can’t afford abroad holidays or lots of days out at theme parks and stuff. We just don’t have the money and even if we did, with a toddler and a five-year-old I also have to think about whether or not I can manage them both on my own wherever we happen to be. Call me pathetic but at this stage, where my son is such a fearless (and senseless) little toddler and will just run full pace into the sea or the road or away from me in a public place without looking back for a moment, I am too anxious to take them both to the beach for a day out by myself. It’s just too much.

There’s also the attention thing. My daughter is usually at school and so I don’t have both of them all day everyday by myself. I find myself constantly worrying that I am neglecting one and not being fair on the other one. Have I not given my son enough attention this morning? Should I have said yes to that fifth game of (motherfucking) snap with my daughter?

There’s a chance that I am just a bit of chronic worrier and that most mums don’t have these thoughts every day. I generally just try to survive and get to the end of each day without shouting at my kids. I am not aiming for perfection but I still find myself reflecting once they are in bed and asking myself, was it enough today?

As a kid I remember going to this thing called ‘Tunnels Through Time’ on holiday in Cornwall. It was this creepy museum thing with various scenes and legends from history staged out with dressed up dummies in the semi darkness. One story in particular that I remember has stayed with me for years. It was a scene in which a giant is holding his cut finger over rock pool by the sea and a princess is standing over him. The legend was that the giant was asked to prove his love for the princess by filling the little rock pool with his blood, only of course it was a trick because there was a hole in the rock pool and the blood actually just ran out into the sea. He could never fill up the little rock pool. It was never enough.

I guess maybe in the end he just bled to death or something.

Shit, who thinks up these fairytales?

The thing is, whatever I give, it will never be enough. Not really. It doesn’t mean I am going to stop trying but wow, doesn’t it take a lot out of you?

And the worry.

The worry is probably something I need to handle better. I don’t know if it’s this normal to worry about your kids so much. I don’t know whether it’s normal to constantly evaluate your performance as a mother like I do and it’s not all about whether or not I’m coming up with loads of exciting activities. I’m asking myself, all the time actually, was I patient enough, did I think it through enough, could I have tried a bit harder, could I have been a bit more cheerful about it?

And the answers always come back to me in my head, no you weren’t patient enough, definitely not, no you didn’t think that thing through enough, I can’t believe that after all that fucking planning out of the day you forgot to take the wipes, what is wrong with you? Yes, you could have tried harder and yeah, you definitely could have been more cheerful about it.

I don’t think I know anyone who is harsher on me than myself.

I hardly know why I am really writing this apart from to say that it is the summer holidays and I am not doing shitloads of fantastic days out with the kids and the other day I really unnecessarily shouted at my daughter for being scared of going to the loo by herself and that a lot of the time I don’t feel like a very good Mum.

A lot of the time I feel like I should be doing it all a bit better.

A lot of the time I am worrying.

I guess I am writing this because before anyone read my blog I just really wanted somewhere to write down my thoughts really honestly about being a mum and when I’m being honest with myself I’m not like, any kind of really funny mum blogger or anything. I am someone who right now is trying really hard and worrying really hard and asking myself each day,

What I did today, was it enough?

Was it enough today?

And to be honest, in my eyes at least, I’m not sure that the answer will ever be yes.

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The warmth between us

Sneaking into your room
before I go to bed
I see your perfect face

in the dark
your little chest rising and falling
against the soft cotton
of a hand-me-down sleep-suit

your smooth little hands
above your head on the pillow
as if you are falling through the air.

I lean over your cot
brush the curls away
from your cheek

Where did you come from?
You beautiful thing

I love you so much

I almost don’t remember that time the other day when you were playing naked in the garden and then you came over to me, even though I had been at work all day and you hadn’t wanted to give me a cuddle when I got in, but then you did come over and I thought,
‘Oh you do love me after all’

and then you kind of hugged my leg and went really still and I thought, ‘Oh lovely, we are just really, really reconnecting after we have been apart all day,’ and I felt so much better and less guilty about going to work and so warm inside that you came over especially to me and wanted to cuddle my leg and then, you looked at me and became suddenly so still and just held my gaze in this really intense way and I felt this real connection between us and also, this amazing warmth.

Like, I felt really warm

Like, seriously, why is my leg so warm?

Wait, are you-

Aaaargh!

For fuckssake.

You are totally weeing on my leg.