How to be a Mother

So seeing as this blog is maybe supposed to be about parenting (given its title) I thought I’d give you some tips on the few things I’ve picked up over the past five years of being a mom/mum:

1.Learn how to install the car seat – yourself.
I don’t care if you are a single mommy/mummy or have an always-there husband and whole houseful of helpful relatives living right next door, learn to install the car seat – yourself. It will come up. Car seats will need to be transferred into rentals/loaners/your boss’s bmw and the situation will be thrust upon you when you least expect it. The day your husband’s been called away urgently to business in Peru, your kid has a fever of 102 and you have to get him to a pediatric appointment – that’s the day your car will conk out and you’ll have to get a loaner and then…you’ll have to install the car seats. It’s not hard. It’s just important to learn how to do it before you need to know how to do it.

2.Make some mommy friends.
This is not for the purposes of getting parental advice. That’s what the Internet is for. Actually the worst thing you can do if you want to keep hold of your mommy friends is invite them along to your own personal monologue of “All the wonderful ways I did it.” (I ironically note that that is exactly what I am doing in this blog posting.) The reason you need mommy friends is so you can complain to someone who really gets it – over a glass of wine.

3.Wear flat shoes.
Wear them every time you leave your house if you know your children will be coming with you. No heel, not even a kitten heel or a low wedge. None. Any elevation at all is to directly ask for trouble. As a mother you will be required to sprint, squat, pivot ,lunge, leap – trainers are the only rational footwear option. Alternatively buy some cute sandals.

4.Be or don’t be a Helicopter Parent.
Know that you will never get the helicopter/non-helicopter level right in the eyes of society. The minute you shout out ‘careful’ when your daughter looks like she’s about to dive head first off the top of the slide is the minute someone rolls their eyes and makes it clear that you’re being ‘repressive.’ The minute you turn back is the second they fall off the top of the climbing frame.

5.I’m not saying you can’t dress cute. Just not right now.
Give up on keeping your own clothes clean. Wear things that you don’t mind getting stained with bright red pasta sauce, covered in chalk dust or dirt patches. Steer away from pale pants. Leave all clothes that cost more than $60 in the closet.

6.Consider wearing ear plugs – all of the time.
I’ve been driven to this on the occasional weekend. BB sometimes gets frustrated, wondering why I’m suddenly not responding to a thing he says but aside from that – it’s golden times.

7.Try not to get too hung up on the gender thing.
I like equality. And I don’t want Mini to be held back from achieving anything in her life just because she’s female. According to the Parental Internet apparently one of the most important ways I’m to make sure she’s not being Repressed from Birth by Men, is via her selection of toys. If I let her dress up as Snow White, I’m told, it’s a sure thing that she will never want to join the Maths and Science Academy. Bummer. Well. As Mrs. Barlow always liked to say: Everything in moderation. The fact that Mini runs towards everything pink in the toy store and rams all three of her baby dolls in her toy pram and insists on taking them everywhere does not mean she’s doomed to a life in the typing pool. She also loves to play with trains and cars; she loves Legos and piles a mean stack of bricks. Sometimes Finn loves to play with Mini’s dolls and dress them up too. I think the key to dealing with this gender stuff is to introduce your kids to a good mixture of things. Unless you are snatching dolls away from your boy because it’s not manly or refusing to purchase your daughter a robotic construction kit because God knows where that might lead – it’s all good.

8.Create firm boundaries and reinforce them.
This is the most grueling one of all and one that BB and I learned the hard way. Finn likes to test the rules again, and again and again and again. If we yield and let him have iPad time when it’s not iPad time JUST ONCE, he knows he’s broken us and we’ll have to start all over again from scratch. Maybe some kids are fine with inconsistency; however I’m yet to meet one of them. In general, they will look out for a weak moment (usually after a glass of Chardonnay on a Thursday evening after a 12-hour work day) and move in for the attack. Stay strong. Someone somewhere is making a medal for you. You might not get it till you cross over to the other side – oh well.

9.Do all of your shopping online.
All of it. Everything. I’m even talking toothpaste. Not only will you save time, you won’t have to buy your kids extra toys when you go to Target and they start whining. Also you won’t have people at the store judging you because your kids are whining – bonus.

10.Take a million pictures and write down each and every hilarious thing they say.
I’m repeatedly told that this childhood thing all goes by very quickly and one day I’ll be left wrinkly and old and sitting in the rocking chair on the front porch with nothing but my iPhone-of-the-future to remind me of this time.

For now it seems like time is passing at exactly the right speed it’s supposed to.

Tampons around the world

Hedge: This all gets pretty grody pretty fast. If you don’t like reading about menstrual blood and the disposal of it you’d better skip this week’s entry…

So this could maybe be classified more as a Public Service Announcement than a blog entry. Today we’ll be talking about tampons etc. and the disposal of them in the USA. You’ll see we’ve gravitated straight back to the heavy stuff here.

I only have any in-depth experience of sanitary product disposal in the two countries: America and Great Britain but I see on my little ‘interesting stats info’ page that there are people who read this blog in Canada, Colombia, Guatemala, Sweden, the Russian Federation, Australia and the Philippines so please do feel free to chime in on your own countries’ systems!

In the UK (for the most part) you flush tampons etc. down the loo/toilet. That’s the general rule. You may see those sanitary disposal things in public stalls but unless there’s a sign up explaining that the plumbing’s packed in so you can you not flush anything – they generally stay unused. (Apart from the convent school I went to where they collected up all the lady products and burned them in an incinerator once a week. The ashes floated unfettered across the playground as if to announce our womanly sins to the whole world.)

However – in contrast to the ‘flush and pray’ method in the UK – in the US you put all used sanitary products in the trash can. Yes I’m talking about your bathroom trash can/bin. You don’t flush any part of your sanitary product down the loo. It all goes in the trash.

BB refers to this as a ‘cultural difference.’

And what a difference it is. Before I lived in the states I had an American lady housesit for me once and she left my trash can brimming with used sanitary products. I could. not. believe. it. I was about ready to call the cops.

However living in another country will change you in ways you never thought possible. Last time I visited the UK I came face-to-face with a ‘bobber.’ A tampon that had presumably made its way down into the system only to resurface after an insufficiently strong flush. The bobber had blooded all the water in the bowl. There was also a leftover turd in there too and the whole offering looked a bit like a small squirrel had been attacked by a shark.

This all could have been avoided by placing the rogue tampon immediately in the trash. Though presumably the turd would have remained…

I’m not sure what the most environmentally friendly option is but I will tell you here that I have fully transitioned to the American ‘place it in the bin’ option. But only because if BB caught me flushing tampons down the toilet and risking gumming up our ancient plumbing system he would most probably finish with me on the spot.

And I ain’t going back to single parenthood again because of a soggy tampon.

When when when?

So how often am I intending on publishing this blog thing perhaps as many as four of you would be interested to know.

Well I’ll tell you! I’m aiming to send out a posting late Thursday night ready for your viewing first thing Friday morning – just in time to set the tone for the weekend. That is if the tone you like to set for your weekend is somewhat antsy and probably border-line inappropriate.

I may post the odd mini-gem/announcement mid-week, just incase we all need a pick-me-up.

And it must be said I’m not committing to never leaving you all in the big black zone of nothing published for weeks on end…but I’ll do my best to keep it going as long as I see that people are reading!

About Robin Williams

I think most people felt pretty sad this week upon hearing the news of Robin William’s death.

It’s always horrible when someone dies, no matter how they go, no matter what gifts they did or did not bring to the world.

However with Robin Williams, the circumstances and the fact that he’d consistently brought so many laughs to so many people for multiple decades, made the news of his death extra unsettling.

So most people are saddened by the news. That’s normal.
However I’m feeling extra blue about the whole thing and I’m trying to figure out why.

My confusion boils down to this: I didn’t know the guy – like have him round to dinner parties and stuff – so why am this sad?

I didn’t get extra sad about Princess Diana, Amy Winehouse, Peaches Geldof or Kurt Cobain – as tragic as those ‘before their time’ losses were. So why am I so touched by the suicide of someone who I saw acting in a few films?

The circumstances are extra morbid, which is probably the main reason I’m so rattled by the whole thing. Suicide is unthinkable to most of us. We’re all so busy doing everything we can to elongate our time on the planet we can’t fathom how someone else would want to bring it to an early close. It’s upsetting because it’s confusing. (Of course it would probably be less confusing to me if I lived with debilitating depression.)

I think the main reason I’m so spun out by the whole thing is because his suicide was so very intentional. When someone dies of an overdose, you can always kind of make believe that perhaps they didn’t really know what they were doing. Consciously know, anyway.

Unfortunately I heard a very specific news report detailing how he did it and I’m not going to go into it all here – I didn’t enjoy hearing it the first time around – but let’s just say he was very determined to finish his life. He could have changed his mind anytime along the process – but he didn’t.

I keep wondering if he lived a whole life like this, struggling and struggling with Hell inside, but just kept on pushing on.

Someone on the news called Robin Williams a coward, but I think him living with such severe depression all his life and not killing himself before the age of 63 probably makes him extremely brave indeed.

“My Ass” to Gravitas

So some dame called Sylvia Ann Hewitt has brought out a new book called: Executive Presence. No I haven’t read it – clearly – but I did read someone else’s review of it.

I believe the general grasp of the book is that in order for a woman to succeed in the world she needs to be able to pull off a few things:

- To be able to do her job (I’ve got that one down – more or less)
– Be a good communicator (I’ve had my shaky moments but I’ve mostly got this in the bag)
– Grooming (yes – when I put my mind to it)
– Be in possession of the quality known as gravitas (NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN)


According to Sylvia, gravitas has been described as a mix of “confidence, grace under fire, being decisive, showing your teeth and emotional intelligence.” To toot my own trumpet once again: I believe I have those traits yet I regrettably do not, and never will have, gravitas.

Because gravitas is something in addition to all of those things. It’s being able to take yourself seriously. It’s being formal, most of the time. Especially in the workplace.

Could I make this happen? Oh probably if I felt like living my life like that. But I’m not sure it would work out as well for me as Sylvia thinks it might. I tried it the other the day when I went to see my cancer doctor as I’ve always thought she should treat our relationship with a little more gravitas i.e. stop bitching to me about her other patients. However it did not end well for me as she asked if I was depressed. When I said: no, she said I must be feeling incredibly tired then. Perhaps the cancer had returned…and she sent me for a battery of annoying tests. : (

I can name the women at my office who have gravitas and it has indeed served them very well. But yet again I must refer you to this famed posting:

This would never happen to a woman with gravitas. In fact not having gravitas is becoming my trademark these days.

In lieu of me being able to make money as a department head owing to my lack of gravitas let’s all hope I’ll be able to make it off of just being a plain old ass instead.

A turn around on underwear

So in the three years where this blog has lain fallow, there have been a surprising amount of new visitors to the page. And according to my blog stats, most of them were here to read this posting:

As many as three or four people a day from around the world have read this unfortunate blog posting about my very skimpy underwear and the consequent loss of my improvised pantyliner. Over the course of 3 years that turns out to be quite a few people.

So I’m sure my announcement today will be a disappointment to many but I’m going ahead with it anyway:

I have had a total and complete turnaround with regard to the size of my undergarments.

They say there’s no devotee as zealous as a recent convert and I can say with regard to my new underoos that that is true. I’m so happy with my new underwear situation that I’m just not content with keeping it all to myself. I want to share the good news with – and most importantly convert – you too!

These days I wear big underwear. Very big underwear. So big as to start just below my navel and end just above my knees. Yes – that’s pretty big. Especially when up till recently I’d never worn anything bigger than a teeny tiny g-string.

My turnaround is come about because of this: Heat.

It gets highly hot during the long summers of Monrovia. When I was living on the westside I rarely had need to change out of a pair of jeans. But these days it’s all poufy sundresses. There’s no way I could wear anything else.

Small underwear, (let’s face it, even moderate-sized underwear) plus dresses, plus running after a one year old = disaster.

And by disaster I mean: My fanny hanging out. And I mean fanny in both its American and British usage. (And for the Americans reading this, in England ‘fanny’ means VAGINA. You’ll think twice about calling that bottom bag a ‘fanny pack’ now – won’t you.)

This is also a feminist issue. I want to be as able as the men to play Frisbee, swing on the monkey bars with my kid, walk up to the top of the playground equipment, shlep up ladders etc, without worrying that someone’s getting an eyeful of rogue vulva lip.

I want to be free!

I don’t know if I agree with the whole feminists burning-their-bras thing. I expect they came to regret that whole idea a couple of days later when they realized their boobs were in the way all the time and were also getting kind of achy. However, burning the G-string – I think that’s something every feminist should get completely onboard with.

The freedom to do cartwheels is mine!

How it all ends

13 weeks in, I woke up in the middle of the night. Something was wrong. I was lying in a puddle of water. I was sure I was leaking amniotic fluid.

This was the big risk with the kind of pregnancy I was having: the amniotic sack could burst at any moment because it didn’t have the protection of the cervix.

I stood up and ran for the bathroom. From what hit the bedroom carpet it was clear I wasn’t leaking amniotic fluid at all. It was blood. And plenty of it.

By the time BB had woken up and stumbled into the hallway there was blood from one end of the bathroom to the other. I was lying on the floor with a towel scrunched up around me kind of trying to stuff it all back in. I told BB to call the doctor. He did. The doctor told us to go to ER/Casualty. We did.

I didn’t shed a tear. But when we got in the car I said to BB: ‘This does not look good.’ He said: ‘I know.’

I didn’t shed a tear till about two hours later when a tech hooked me up to an ultrasound to see what was going on and we saw a little alien being in there.

The being was opening its mouth and closing it again. That’s when I shed a tear. Plenty of them. Our baby was still alive.

The doctors never did figure out what caused all that blood. Someone half mumbled something about scar tissue at some point. Either way, after that scare exactly all of the fun was sucked out of being pregnant. Every day was the day I was terrified it was going to be over. As the weeks went on the stakes kept getting raised. The risk of giving birth to a dangerously premature baby became super real. But somehow as the weeks went on, that little creature kept defying the odds and kept on being alive, kept growing.

As I crept into the third trimester I stopped leaving the house, I stopped walking. I only went outside in a wheelchair. Everything to keep that little growing chunk of baby safely wedged inside my body.

And then, after 38 weeks of non-eventful pregnancy, our little darling daughter was born. Completely perfect in every way possible. A year and a bit later she continues to delight us in every way there is to be delighted (especially if you delight in getting no sleep at all). I can’t imagine or remember what life was like without her.

It all worked out. And BB and I learned a valuable lesson along the way: Don’t worry about something till you actually have to worry about it. Because you will drive yourself nuts potentially for no reason at all.

So that’s the story – you are all caught up on the last 3 years!

Now, let’s get back to those rants and raves and foams at the mouth…