Being a parent is all about making sacrifices, I understand that. My role as a mother defines so many aspects of my life – where I live, how I work and how I socialise. And as a single mother, my children also impact on my ability to form new, serious relationships. (At least that’s what I hope the issue is). It can be sad sometimes to see potential partners pass you by, but it is ultimately a sacrifice I am prepared to make.

I totally accept the restrictions of early motherhood. It is the choice you make when you become a parent after all and, as many teenagers, although not mine thank God, are fond of saying, they didn’t ask to be born. There are some areas of family life though where I don’t feel I should compromise or where I seem to revert to a childish competitiveness, not flattering in a parent. Board games for example. I know you are supposed to let young children win, or at least give them a chance, but I just can’t. I know it is The Wrong Attitude, but I don’t see the point in playing if you’re not playing to win. I used to try to hold back, but I couldn’t do it. I argue with myself that I am teaching them some kind of valuable life lesson, but deep down I know I am just being mean.

Another good example happened this morning. I had made the effort to get up 20 minutes earlier than usual, to try and avoid the stress of needing to leave for school, but having a child only half way through a bowl of porridge. My teen though had apparently got up 20 minutes later than usual, and was in rather a flap. “I don’t have time to wash the bread knife,” she announced loudly as she charged into my room at 8.15am, “so I can’t have any lunch today. Now have you seen my scarf?”

After watching her spend a good five minutes looking for the clearly crucial scarf, and with much stomping and sighing along the way, I glanced up to see her about to leave with my waterproof coat. “Hey!” I cried. “What are you doing?”

“I can’t find my coat,” she said, looking at me with palpable disdain.

“Well you can’t take mine,” I said. “I have to walk to school too you know.”

“Great! So what am I supposed to do then?” she shrieked.

“Why don’t you wear your other coat and a hat?” I offered.

“A HAT?” she spat back, as though I had deliberately made up the word just to annoy her. “I don’t have a hat.”

I know this to be a lie, and made moves to find one for her, but by this point she was too cross to reason with. “Don’t bother,” she said, “I’ll just get soaked.” Reinforcing her point, she took her school bag out of the waterproof one I had put it in, and stepped out into the pouring rain.

Sacrifice my career and love life? Sure. Just don’t ask me to give up my coat.

Photo credit: mugley

Follow:

This morning I woke up feeling vaguely ashamed of myself and with a stiff neck. And not in a good way.

Last night, on my way to a meeting to present myself as a ‘safe pair of hands’, a secure and reliable fundraiser whom you can trust to act professionally at all times, I crashed my car into a verge. A shameful and embarrassing case of driver error. I was driving in the dark, on roads I didn’t know, and was taken by surprise by a rather sharp corner.

As the telegraph pole loomed up in front of me at speed, I had a flash of the last time a similar thing had happened, and was grateful at least that this time I didn’t have a box of eggs on the passenger seat. The car lurched to a halt, my passenger and I stopped screaming and my inner critic immediately began to tell me how stupid I was. My sub-conscious is not very supportive at times – it is very hard on me whenever I make mistakes of any kind.

In the pitch dark in the middle of nowhere, it was hard to know how to proceed. Not far from our destination, we opted to hobble on, arriving at our meeting late, both looking slightly hysterical and me with my hands covered in mud and oil. Always a great way to make a good first impression on potential clients.

This morning, I went out in the harsh light of day to inspect the damage. The dent was tolerable, but I was slightly concerned to see that the front tyres now seem to be pointing in different directions. Now I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t right.

An evening business trip that was meant to make me money, has ended up costing me. The biggest dent though isn’t the one in my bumper, it’s the one in my pride.

Photo credit: Kevin

Follow:

In the name of research for Cuddledry’s month of blogging, I have been busy this morning reading a selection of mummy and daddy blogs, and came across a post from Ellen at In A Bun Dance, an outpouring of confessions, secret habits and thoughts. The list struck a chord with me, as I could empathise with so many of them, and it reassured me that I am not the only person who avoids the phone and sometimes hides from my children.

Inspired as I was, I have decided to come up with my own list, in the hope that everyone will then tell me how completely normal I am after all. So here goes with some things that not many people will know about me:

I am a little bit afraid of pineapples. It’s the little spine marks that get left behind when you slice off the outside. The first time I cut up a pineapple I screamed out loud.

I am very easily distracted and get bored very quickly. Even though my Gran always used to tell me only boring people got bored. I spend quite a lot of my time wishing something exciting would happen.

I hate housework. No big secret there maybe. I have been known to hide dirty dishes in cupboards when I’ve got guests.

I only like drinking out of particular shaped cups. When I order a latte in Costa I have to ask for a different mug.

I never put in exact amounts of petrol. I don’t understand why people try so hard to get to whole pound amounts. I look away from the pump, sing a little song to myself, and when the song ends I finish pumping.

One of my children’s favourite treats is ‘garage tea’ – when you are out somewhere and stop at a garage and buy Dairylea Dunkers, Capri Suns and Pepperami and eat it in the car.

I just ate some ‘Hotel Chocolat Christmas Collection’ for my lunch.

Please tell me this is all fine.

Photo credit – mrjoro

Follow:

Friday at last! This week has been a varied one to say the least. As well as being a single mum to two gorgeous girls, I also juggle three home based jobs – writing, marketing and fundraising. Add to this my obsession with checking my emails and blog stats and a chronic inability to concentrate properly on anything for more than five minutes at a time, and I often find my weeks become a jumble of writing features, lurking on forums and trying to flog baby towels.

To illustrate my point and to try and give myself a sense of having achieved something, I thought I would write a brief summary of what I’ve been up to this week workwise. Picture me doing the following, whilst of course at the same time blogging, emailing and maintaining some kind of relationship with my family:

Monday: Writing day today. Wrote and filed a feature on green baby products for The Source and a piece on breastfeeding and friendship for The Green Parent. Did you know that oxytocin, the hormone that causes the let down reflex, has been shown to increase levels of trust in humans, making the friendships you form while breastfeeding deeper and longer lasting? Well now you do.

Tuesday: Today I was very excited as I went out of the house for a meeting with real people. I wore a dress and everything. I am Marketing Manager for Cuddledry (remember them from Dragons’s Den?) and we were planning a revamp of the website. I came up with a fiendish plan for a relaunch of our blog with a month of guest Mummy Blogging – please get in touch if you would like to contribute!

Wednesday: Not a productive start to Wednesday. After dropping Belle off at school I felt a little bit overwhelmed and, unable to face returning to my empty house, I walked around for a bit trying not to cry until the snow made my feet too cold. However, after an hour or so of mild panic and several cups of tea, I managed to write a feature on food labelling for The Spark. In the evening I watched Avatar and felt rather silly wearing 3D specs over my ordinary glasses.

Thursday: Hmmm… what did I actually do on Thursday? …consults work book… Ah yes, I was in baby towel mode today, finding Mummy Bloggers for my blogging month – I have lots already, hoorah! – and trying to find a celebrity parent to be a judge for our Baby Bubble Beard competition. When I needed something non-towel related I pitched a few feature ideas, mooched about on facebook and ate some of the leftover Christmas chocolates.

Friday: This morning I had another meeting away from home (aren’t I the social animal this week?) with my two lovely colleagues from my charity consultancy. Next week we are pitching to run a capital appeal for the building of a new community hall, so we met to discuss our proposal and plan our pitch. And I had a lovely scrambled egg and smoked salmon breakfast. Yum. After a very successful visit to the St Margaret’s Hospice shop, where I bought a Next suit for £4, I returned home to write the appeal proposal, recruit some more bloggers, try and woo Dr Miriam Stoppard and think up marketing ploys for the women’s news website I have recently become involved in. Oh, and I just ate a bowl of porridge. Rock and roll.

Time for a little sit down.

Flickr image by Helico

Follow:

I had my first baby when I was just 17 years old. Not on purpose you understand, but that is another story… Now I was under the illusion that young bodies were stretchy and supple. I imagined my baby would form a neat bump and that I would spring pertly back into place two weeks after birth.

Oh how wrong I was.

At about eight months pregnant my stomach erupted into a mass of hideous purple stretch marks – it turns out my young skin just couldn’t take the strain. I know I’m not alone – a friend of mine recently wrote about the frightening array of pregnancy body nasties, and it turns out that all kinds of things can happen to you – cankles anyone?

Two babies and over two years of breastfeeding later and my 31 year old mummy body could certainly do with a bit of work. Not of the surgical kind of course, just the ‘me getting myself off the sofa once in a while’ variety. I kid myself that typing counts as exercise, but I know I am clutching at straws.

I was pleased therefore to read in The Mail today about It’s Complicated, a new rom-com starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin. The Mail claims the film is testimony to the fact that ‘wobbly bits can be sexy too!’ I really hope that is the case, as I certainly have my fair share.

As a single mum, I feel more conscious than ever about the parts of me that are not so perfect. When you are in a relationship with the father of your children you can take comfort from the fact that at least they can remember what you looked liked before your tummy bulged over the top of your jeans. When you’re single, you have to deal with the daunting prospect of at some point having to reveal your naked body – stretch marks and all – to a new man. A scary thought indeed.

But then as It’s Complicated shows, perhaps we should be a little more accepting of ourselves and realise it’s not just women who feel the effects of aging. At least I don’t have to worry about balding. Well not yet at least.

Flickr image by bies

Follow: