The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

A new Father’s Day tradition

It’s been a while since I’ve felt like writing without it feeling like a chore but I’ve snorted out loud so much this evening that I’m going to put it here.

It’s Father’s Day today and it occurred to me a few days ago that I won’t be sending a card or making a Father’s Day call. It’s the things that you no longer have to do that get to you the most. I could feel it lingering. That feeling that makes you exhale deeply before you go on to do the next thing. I miss my Dad, Mr Li which is nothing new and of course special occasions can feel bittersweet.

But I have #1, 2 and 3 who love their Daddy (except when they’re angry with him over the wrong shaped toast, not having socks ready in the mornings or just because they feel like it), and to show their affection, Father’s Day breakfast in our household is a Bacon and Sausages Big Fry Up whilst Daddy gets a lie in. That in itself is a Father’s Day gift.

I don’t think #1, 2 and 3 will have any issue with delegation in their adult life. They are pretty adept at it now. But I thought it’s actually time that they take some responsibility for this amazing Father’s Day treat. I’ve seen what an eight year old can cook on Masterchef Junior. This year we had washing of mushrooms, half opening a can of beans and doing the toast. Plus setting the table. Next year we might have cooking of eggs and bacon. Sausages will require a more mature level of ‘Is it edible yet’ judgement to be safe.

I thought this was a Father’s Day breakfast any Dad would be proud of.

Apparently not. The presence of asparagus has caused consternation. Well, what can I say. How am I suppose to know the proper components of an English Fry Up when my Dad, Mr Li would only eat this if there was rice on the plate. And I think that is what made me laugh the most.


From now on, I’m going to make it my new tradition to include a rogue Father’s Day breakfast item in the mix. So I end today feeling a whole lot better than I started it.

Happy Father’s Day to all those we call Dad and will always love.

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And it’s not yet Christmas

I am giving myself two days off to do nothing. NOTHING. Well, not quite nothing when #1, 2 and 3 are now on Christmas holidays. But nothing insofar as not having to remember anything on a school related to do list. Of course the Christmas to do list is still pending and I probably will be up very late on Sunday (hopefully not Monday) getting stuff done.

And I don’t quite know how it has happened. It’s not like I didn’t know Christmas was coming. But there does seem to be quite a common annual theme occurring here when I think about it. How the Christmas to do list is still to do-ing all the way right up until Christmas Eve and sometimes the early hours of Christmas Day itself! But how?

Well I’ve realised that whilst Christmas starts appearing in the shops among the Halloween stuff, it’s too early for me to want to do anything about it. But I do thoroughly love the anticipation of the full on festooning of Christmas all around us. And I think about it and start putting together a list of things I’d like to do or need to buy in my head and let ideas mature like you would your Christmas cake. And then just when I think it’s time to start putting Christmas action plans into place, my days are suddenly full of other stuff!

Way back in September, when children were waved off in shiny new school shoes to start a brand new academic year, you embrace that feeling of joyful relief that comes with knowing you have that bit of FREE TIME again. Used wisely, you can achieve any number of things. I don’t think I’ve used that time wisely. I haven’t done any of my household to do things that have been pending for over a year now. But that’s by the by.

So. We’re now five days to Christmas and I have presents unwrapped and food shopping left precariously at risk of having no sprouts to the side of the turkey. It’s never an intentional situation but quite worthy of repeating in an interview scenario as an example of how one works well to tight deadlines and under pressure.

How often do parents of younger children look at parents of older children and ask ‘does it get any easier?’ and the parents of older children look you straight in the eye and without a twitch of humour reply ‘no.’ But you secretly don’t believe them because how can it possibly not get any easier than right now! Easier maybe not. Different perhaps yes. Any less busy, definitely not.

Last week I had to write out several times the many different places I had to be for various in school and after school events and for which child. Swimming assessments, Victorian Christmas markets, dance shows, gymnastics, Christmas carol show, Christmas jumpers, Christmas parties. The dance show! Last year could be considered what some people may say as a parenting ‘fail.’ When your child has toiled over the course of 10 weeks learning a new skill. Overcoming nerves of performing in front of an audience of watchful parents. Putting their best moves out there to make parents proud. Only for said parent to arrive for the jazz hands finale. Ah, a memory that will stay with me forever. To be fair, it can’t have been a very long routine. Anyways, I’m happy to say that there was no such repeat this year. That would have been a proper fail.

Sometimes, it can feel like you haven’t achieved anything at all in a week. Being here and there for this and that. But I forget how lucky I am that I do have that opportunity to attend all this and remember how important it is to children that you do. But I am looking forward to taking the next two days off just to take a deep breath, slow down a bit so that we can all enjoy Christmas itself.

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Where did that school year go?

The brand new shine of black patent leather shoes has long since been scuffed away. The pristine white of a school polo shirt has been washed out of shape, mottled with splodges of paint. Cardigans have buttons missing and jumpers are well, just missing.

It’s hard to imagine that we have reached the end of another academic year. Yet here we are about to start six weeks and two days of summer holidays. You could see that for many the 2.30pm bell today couldn’t come soon enough, with Teachers following swiftly on the heels of parents and children out of the school gates.

It doesn’t seem that long ago when I waved off #1, 2 and 3 off to their new Big School and wondered about the six hours I would have to while away. (Turns out that six hours isn’t really that long after all when you’re back to doing your own laundry and general keeping of home.)

It is a stressful decision choosing a school and especially when we chose a school without the benefit of paying a visit beforehand. We really were throwing them all into a new unknown. Especially after the gloss of a large international school overseas with all the facilities like an on site swimming pool and full size running track. These things do matter of course and it is a shame that their current primary school lacks the space of a sports field.

I know without doubt that all three have had a happy year at school. I don’t think any parent could ask for anything more at this stage. Sure, academic standing and sporting achievement is important but also is the well being and welfare of each child. Times have changed dramatically since my school days in the 80s. There’s a lot more out there competing for the attention of a child’s time than Maths and English. Indeed, even we as parents offer children a lot more extracurricular activity than just Brownies and Scouts.

But also not much has changed for children going to school. Maths and English is sort of the same but somehow long division is not a thing anymore. The complexities of playground friendships however, remains every child’s golden goal and parental heartache.

“What did you learn today?”

“What did you have for school lunch?”

“Who were your friends?”

These three questions form the basis of our short walk home after school. Most of the time they can’t remember what they’ve learnt but will speak quite enthusiastically about lunch, especially if ice cream or cake pudding is involved. The answers to the third one though, have on many occasion made me want to weep for them. Sometimes there have been minor fall outs and you figure that’s something they’re going to have to navigate themselves.

But sometimes, when you hear that your child went to lunchtime club by themselves without another buddy, your heart wonders why. Because no parent likes to imagine their child has not made a friend and we can not be there to help them. Of course we can’t be there engineering friendships we think our children should be making either. I have found that a lot of a child’s social circle evolves around school, unlike our days in Singapore where they had friends within the condo we lived in and also from the Expat community in general.

Everything is a lot more compact, a lot more local community in the town that we live in. And with that, and within the school, there seems to be a greater holistic approach to nurturing each child’s ability and emotional well being that I really like. I can’t remember with much significance whether my Reception year teacher gave out as many warm hugs and encouraging words. Perhaps she did and I just don’t recall. Perhaps #3 won’t recall how kind, caring and warm her Reception year teacher is. But I do and as a parent wondering whether you’ve made the right decision in sending your child to the right school, this is what you need to see.

As I look through all the school books that have come back with #1 and 2, I can also see how hard they’ve worked and how each piece of homework (a source of much weekend angst to be honest) is a reinforcement of what they’ve been learning in class. And I have been so impressed and grateful for how quickly it was noticed where a child has lacked strength in an area and how a support plan was put into place.

The children’s school was recently inspected by Ofsted and achieved Outstanding in every category. A well deserved recognition. And it’s also a school where the happiness and well being of the children who attend is at the heart of it.

At the end of this school year in a brand new school for all of us, I’m so glad and relieved over how well each child has thrived and the lovely friends they’ve made.

And I will be so glad to wave them off again back in September but first we’ve got a summer holiday to see to.

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And just like that

As bright as three shiny new pound coins, #1, 2 and 3 left the house, bounced down the road and around the corner, off to explore new places and be amazed by great things. 

It has been a long summer holiday for these three. A lot of change. A lot of moving around. A lot of waiting. But finally, a step towards normality. 

Filled with a good mix of nerves and excitement, #1 and 2 started their new Big School just a couple of days ago. Thrown right in at the deep end having never seen the inside of their new school before. What an adventure. And such bravery from them. For what else can be more nervewracking at that age than being the New Kid. The one that doesn’t know what is expected of them. 

  • What do I wear.
  • What’s my teacher called.
  • What do I put in my bag. (Actually this is more for me)
  • Where are the toilets.
  • What if I get scared.

Two years ago I was sending #1 and 2 off to Big School for the first time. They were fine. Two years later, I was sending them off again. They were fine. As I knew they would be. I took them to meet their new teachers, who were waiting to welcome them in class with big friendly smiles. I could feel their hesitation. A few more moments of delay. A few quiet words of nerves. ‘Mummy, I’m scared.’ I know sweetheart but you will have a brilliant day. And I will be waiting at the gates for you.

And of course they did. Brimming full of excitement and hardly believing their good fortune that for school lunch there was ice cream! Ice cream inside some kind of cake. Wow, that sounds exotic. Artic roll? 

The relief is palpable as I hear them excitedly chatter about their day. And the hug. That hug you get when they see you immediately after school. I’m so glad for the chance to get these hugs again. Those arms wrapped around you, filling you with warmth. Then it dissipates like steam and normality resumes. “I’m hungry Mummy.” “Can we go to the park? Whhhhy noooot!”

So you see, I’ve been through this before. I’ve done the whole starting school thing several times. I should be a Pro at this. I should be writing my Get Up and Go List with all three in Big School. Six hours a day of quiet time. Isn’t this what all parents have been waiting for? The countdown to the end of summer holidays and back to school. 

Yes that is quite true. When I was in Gainful   Employment, school marked a sigh of relief that their time was going to be properly occupied and I no longer had to wonder what to do with them outside of the annual leave Husband and I could take.

Equally, since giving up Gainful Employment I have enjoyed seeing their faces everyday. And not just for the last hour, half hour of the day. Some days have been looooong. Some moments of some days could be better but overall, I wouldn’t be without these days. Especially when I think about how fleeting every stage of their childhood can be.

Perhaps it’s because I know how fleeting it is, preparing #3 for Big School has been the hardest. Apparently it always is for the youngest one. Your last baby all grown up. The one you don’t mind crawling into your bed space in the middle of the night, long after the older ones slept all night in their bed. You don’t mind because you know one day it will stop, this little squidgey person snuggling up to you. And one day you want it to stop because they are taking up too much bed space. 

I always enjoyed shopping for school uniform. I think it’s because it was the only time you got so many new things at once! New clothes, new shoes, new bag and new stationery. It seems it’s just as much fun for #1, 2 and 3. (Less so on our pockets though. Three lots of uniform, school bags, PE kit, welly boots.) #2 and 3 have been wearing their new school shoes indoors for days! They are so proud to be wearing their new uniforms and they look so smart in them too.

It’s funny this whole Big School thing. Now that it’s the end of the day, I can laugh about it to myself. How this morning I could barely hug #3 closely and wish her a brilliant day before I could feel the tears threatening to fall. She had no doubt it was going to be ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT. Yesterday we talked about how she felt about starting Big School, she was ready. Then she said “you’re going to cry Mummy.” Really? Why! “Because you’ll miss me.”

Ah. She got me there. 

The walk was barely long enough. The Goodbyes in the school yard all too brief. I help her place her bag on her peg and walk her into her new little world. It’s colourful, warm, fun and exciting. This is where #3 belongs. She’s waited patiently for today. For the uniform, the shoes, the friends, the learning. The learning. Constantly telling me that she doesn’t know how to read the words yet. I’m sure it won’t be long. 

I watch her through the window. Overhearing other parents talking about the Parent Syndrome. I have Parent Syndrome too. I wonder if #3 will look up and see me for one more wave. But of course she doesn’t. She’s looking around with a curious happy smile on her face in her smart new uniform and shiny shoes. Full of confidence. She’s looking happy. And then she moves out of sight and it’s time for me to move on. 

But before I do, the Teaching Assistant has already clocked another one with Parent Syndrome. She comes over and asks if  I’m ok, offering words of comfort and encouragement.  I feel even more ridiculous admitting #3 is #3 but she reassures me it’s all quite regular. 

There are days you cry out for ‘ME’ time. A quiet moment to sit down and have a hot cuppa tea uninterrupted. None of the multiple echoes of “Mummy, Mummy”, being able to get jobs done within half the time it takes with three in tow. Sort out boring admin jobs. Clean and tidy. Go out running. Have coffee. Find new cohorts. Regain Gainful Employment. Read a book. Do something new! 

Six hours seemed to pass by quite quickly before I’m back in the school yard. There’s #1 and #2. We go and collect #3 together. She’s all smiles and dishevelled curls. A sign of a brilliant day. 

Later on, we all ask her how she felt. She thinks about it. 

“I almost cried but then I was having too much fun.”
And that is why she’s ready to join in with the big kids.


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This Happy Father’s Day 

We all want special occasion days to be, well special. Birthdays, holidays, weddings, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, school events and so on. 

With small people in tow, ‘special’ in my imagination usually means good, kind, helpful behaviour. No bickering, fighting, shouting, answering back, whining, crying and so on.  In other words, no such behaviour that requires parental intervention to keep the peace and maintain balance to one’s well being. I wish for this every day to be fair but on special occasion days, please can we?

Of course we can’t. I waste my breathe asking for it and yet some small glimmer of hope is there at the start of every special occasion day only to flicker weakly and fizz out before the special occasion day has even warmed up. I mean the day wouldn’t be the same without them being just as they are with us and with each other. It’s no reflection on how much we are loved by them, we know that already from the little things they say and do every day that make you happy like specks of dappled sunlight. 
I read in one card Husband received today the reason why Daddy is special and the answer is ‘because he loves me’. Yes he does. 

We have been parents for a relatively short space of time but it feels like the days and weeks are galloping by so fast. We seem to be working in fast forward mode, especially so since #1 and 2 started Big School and the year is broken down into three chunks of frantic activity and three more chunks of frantic activity. Blink and you’ll miss it is what people say who are many parenting years ahead. You kind of fail to appreciate these wise words in the early years but I totally get it now. 

This Father’s Day, I can only describe myself as thankful. Thankful for Husband and the love and care he puts into our family. I’m also thankful that earlier today I was able to call my Dad, Mr Li to wish him a Happy Father’s Day. A few months ago, I was faced with the stark reality of one of life’s only certainties and I felt the ground beneath me open up. During those days of waiting and waiting and progress moving so slowly, you have a lot of time to think. Mostly to think about the things you didn’t do enough, didn’t say enough, didn’t spend time together enough. The panic in your heart over whether there is time to do more. Even when people say there is, do you dare to believe it though you want to believe it so badly. 

As I recall this now, those deep feelings of grief but not quite are still quite fresh.  Though it seems, I am very lucky. My Dad, Mr Li says it is he who is lucky to recover from this spell of illness. But I know it is me. 

Time spent together is time spent well. Not always do you need to spend this time doing something momentous. Often it’s quite enough just to be sat there, talking to each other.

But I can still imagine that special occasions will at some point elicit special occasion behaviour from #1, 2 and 3.

Happy Father’s Day.  

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#1’s first sleepover

Bedtime is a smooth running affair in our household. Sometimes.

Most times it’s fraught with dawdlers unwilling just to go to sleep when quite clearly the anger levels suggests they (or I) need to just go to bed. GO TO BEEEEEED! 

I have never quite understood that relationship between small people and sleep. The tipping point between coping quite well with the day to the sudden must-be-in-bed-screaming-like-the-whole-world-has-done-them-wrong can happen in a matter of seconds.

Invariably at least one of #1, 2 and 3 can be in this state once every few days. And at least one of them will feel the impulse, the need to drag bedtime out just that bit longer by hiding a favourite bedtime friend say, or disagreeing on bedtime story of choice and insisting on ‘their own’ bedtime story of choice. Then there’s demands for ‘one more story pleeease, that was so short’. It was short for a reason kids. 

By this stage, I just want them all to go to bed. JUST GO TO BED!! Goodnight kisses are hastily issued. Lights off. Door closed on disgruntledness. Then hopefully within five minutes all is quiet and good. Hopefully. I don’t know when bedtime because such a rushed affair that can take a two person approach. 

Tonight though there is one less in the bedtime mix but it still doesn’t seem to have made much difference to bedanger as I can hear that tone coming from #2 who is quite sure SHE IS NOT TIRED. Quite.

But bedanger is not today’s topic. Tonight #1 is away on his first ever proper sleepover. It’s not the first time he’s slept away from home without Husband or I being around but I guess being 19 months old doesn’t really count. Neither does sleeping over with family feel quite the same as a proper sleepover on your own all night. It’s in turn exciting and a little scary I imagine. 

 #1, 2 and even 3 have often asked for a sleepover but we’ve never gotten round to it just yet. As much as there’s a lot of talk about it, when it comes down to it, I don’t think they’ve been ready. They haven’t? Or I haven’t? Well I know for definite that #2 can’t have a sleepover until she can go to a drop off party for two hours without getting upset. But it is nice to be missed as her school friend’s Mum kindly put it, ‘she misses you a lot’. Indeed.

I wonder whether at 10.41pm. #1 is alseep yet. I very much doubt it but I’m sure he’s having a great time. What an adventure to be on to have your first sleepover with all your schoolfriends at school. This will be the first of many and it is another step of the journey towards independence. A necessary step of course but one that seems to come around far too quickly. I think back to when I had my first sleepover as such. I was 14 and it was a school residental trip to the Lake District. Completely exhilarating to have that freedom for a whole five days. Comparing the residential trips of then to now, it feels like seven or eight years old seems quite young but I forgot that when I was 10 years old there were already skiing trips away to France and weekend trips to Amsterdam which seemed a bit too adventurous for my Dad, Mr Li to allow me to go on. But I guess that’s exactly why #1 and eventually #2 will benefit from going on sleepovers, to build that confidence and reassurance that they can be away from home for one night, perhaps even two, and we will all be ok.

It’s an odd feeling without #1 at home. The things that I know he would do in the mornings. Such as being the first one up and alerting you to the fact by the bedroom suddenly bursting open and being woken up with whatever question is on his mind and ready to be asked with no consideration for the fact you are still sleeping and then getting impatient because you’ve not given an answer to said question immediately. And it won’t be just Husband and I missing his presence but #2 and 3 are also asking when is he coming back home which is a good sign considering I often wonder whether they even like each other the way they bicker and fight. 

There are times, many of them, when you say out loud how lovely it would be to have a night away from small people and all the crazy late night stuff you’d do. How you would love for someone else to do the bedtime routine. For one night maybes yes. So the next time I get a sleepover offer and off go #1, 2 and 3, I’ll make sure I have a long list of all the crazy late night things I’d go off and do. 

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A very lazy Mother’s Day 

Usually Sundays start early with rugby training for #1 and 2, followed by homework, grocery shopping and other households jobs. 

Today there was none of that. Just as it nicely coincides with Mother’s Day. A morning of lazy starts and breakfast in bed. Followed by high tea with fairly impeccable behaviour from #1, 2 and 3.  

I received three more thoughtfully decorated cards. #1 has continued with the Tie Fighter theme this year. #2 worked hard on hers for two days. #3 could barely contain her excitement yesterday as she informed me she was doing something secret that she wasn’t go to tell me about for Mother’s Day…

This was exactly about as much as I could cope with today. I am so tired right now I should be in bed. In fact I already gave myself another gift of an afternoon nap. No, I’m not hungover. That was last weekend. 

Last night I was doing something wholly virtuous. I was in fact running a 10km race. Which flagged off at 9.35pm. I know! It’s only since running in Singapore that I have come across these running events that take place at all hours. Literally all hours. Think 9.35pm is late, the full marathon flagged off at midnight! 

So anyways, I thought 10km would be ok. It would take about an hour or just over. I can that distance fairly comfortably if I practice and I’ve often ran that far in the early evening so how different could this be? It’s been a long while since I’ve ran in an organised event and I’ve missed it. The sight of seeing other runners heading to the event, soaking up the atmosphere and waiting at the start line. Then of course seeing the Finish line. 

What I hadn’t accounted for is all that adrenaline takes quite a few hours to wear off. Like a good five hours or so after the race. I should have organised the spare room instead of trying to sleep. Hence today felt like a non starter, I wonder how all those marathon runners have spent the day.

So today’s very lazy Mother’s Day has been just the ideal way to spend it and now I need to go to bed. 

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Just this one Mother’s Day Gift please

Although chocolates, flowers and trinkets are very lovely gifts to receive on any occasion let alone Mother’s Day, yesterday I put in a special request for something that I really, really wanted.


Now of course I know it’s rude to ask for something when all gifts should be a surprise but sometimes you just have to try your luck. I brazenly asked #1, 2 and 3 if for Mother’s Day they could for the whole day not bicker,  fight, tell tales on each other, scream or shout.


Too big an ask? Really? Yes really. But if we had such a day, it would be just one of the best gifts you could give me. It’s not like they are really at each other all the time but even the slightest winding up of each other, whine and retaliation can just accelerate your tolerance levels from zero to minus 10.


I have no answer for when I walk through the door and the first thing any one of the three tells me is “#1/#2/#3 (delete as appriopriate) pushed me/was mean to me/hit me on the head (delete as appropriate.)” The tragic thing is that once Husband walks through the door, the first thing I say to him is “#1/#2/#3 (delete as appropriate) pushed/was mean to/hit #1/#2/#3 (delete as appropriate.)” I mean what do I expect Husband to do? We both were not around at the time and it’s just one’s word against the other! But in a show of solidarity I need Husband to share this perplexing daily state of affairs.


On the whole #1, 2 and 3 have been very good so not much to report on that. Unlike yesterday. For the amount of bickering going on, I made #1 and 2 hold hands until they stopped irritating each other. The more they protested the longer they had to hold hands for. I actually saw someone post a photo of their own kids doing this and at first glance it looks like two siblings who get along amazingly well and never have a cross word for each other. Until I read the Mother’s explanation that whenever they fall out, they have to sit on a step holding hands until they stop it. I’m not really sure if it helps but it does look cute and makes me stop being annoyed by whatever petty squabbling is going on.


Oh actually did I say they’ve been on the whole very good today. I’ve just remembered at one point during afternoon tea that Husband suggested next year, the best gift would be to give me $100 to go off and enjoy afternoon tea by myself! All the best goodies were fast gobbled up by #1, 2 and 3 whilst spinning around on their chairs making me dizzy. But then we lost them for some peaceful minutes as they went off to explore the vast hotel space.


Then to really tired them out, we took an early evening walk along the promenade overlooking Marina Bay Sands, one of my favourite places to be in Singapore where they proceeded to climb columns and cling on like koalas.


I’m very happy to have these three running amok around me. As much as I am getting to know them and their changing and differing personalities, I also see that they are getting to know parts of me too.


I love how #1’s Mother’s Day card was filled with Tie-fighters, snow speeders and X wings with tic tacs, presents and Go WWF Go!



I love how #2’s Mother’s Day card is filled with hearts, flowers and a sweet message that’s she’s been working on for a couple of days.



I love how #3’s Mother’s Day card has hearts and a snake on it which I won’t spend too long on with interpreting the subliminal messaging going on there.



And as soon as they’ve gone to bed, I look forward to sitting down quietly and calling my Mum to wish her Happy Mother’s Day. It’s a bit later than usual that I call and she’s already out and about. I’m about to say that I’ll call her another day but she quickly says “No, no, I can talk now.”



And that’s what Mums do. They give you their right nows.



I know I could be a whole lot better at giving #1, 2 and 3 more of my right nows.



A timely reminder from my Mum.


Happy Mother’s Day to all Mums near and far and to all sons and daughters who make today special.





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Your hand in mine

It has been seven years, one month and three days since #1 arrived and turned our world upside down. Making it a much better place and changing the value of things that I thought I once knew. The value of time being one of them. It goes by too fast. The value of creating memories. To look back upon because time goes by too fast. The value of my own judgement. Am I making the right decisions in guiding #1, 2 and 3. Especially #1.


Why would this be so? I often feel #1 gets a rough deal. There really isn’t that much difference in years between #1 and #3. Yet #1 is definitely seen as being the older, responsible one. How can he not be? There are two impressionable younger siblings to emulate his behaviour. Very keenly as well. Not much encouragement is needed for #2 and #3 to follow in his footsteps. The good stuff of course we let them roll with it but the not so good stuff, well you just can’t. It would turn an already chaotic household into an unruly one that would have people running in the opposite direction for fear of the terrible family with the feral children.


It occurred to me the other day that whilst I may act like the Parent-in-Charge, the one setting boundaries and seemingly with all the answers, it’s actually #1 leading the way. It is his growing needs, interests and behaviour that shapes most of our parenting. Being the first of them all, we started this parenting journey together and what we know and we have have done differently with #2 and 3 has been because of what we have learnt with #1.


I’ve had an interesting turnaround of opinion right now as a parent. I remember those early days and the sleep deprived nights that really put a ravine between your Life With Sleep and your Life With No Sleep. We think those days are hard. The seemingly endless feeding, cleaning, changing of nappies that made up the early routines that quickly turned into cuddles, giggles and chubby cuteness. Chasing after the runaway toddler and the reading of the same book on loop night after night. Enjoying the key milestones they reach, all well documented in thousands of photographs.


Then there are the moments that you’d rather forget. The not so easy times that leave you all exhausted and yearning for the clock to reach 7pm so you can put them to bed and draw a line under that particular day. Perhaps you’ve yelled at each other and made a number of serious threats. Perhaps you’ve lost it completely and feel full of guilt at not keeping one’s shit together. Especially when you think that you’re the only one who gets wound up so easily at the defiant, unreasonable and downright bewildering behaviour your child, made from your genes has managed to exhibit. Just ignore it. Let it wash over you. You’d ignore that really annoying person you know in your place of Gainful Employment. You can hold your thoughts when someone is being highly unreasonable anywhere else. Yet a 7 year old, and on occasion a 5 and 3 year old can make you suddenly vent in ways that you didn’t think possible.



How is it possible? Seemingly calm, rational and regular with other grown ups do you turn into a screaming banshee at times with your own offspring. It’s because I always make the mistake of assuming they are capable of calm rational reasoning like most other grown ups I know. How simple is it to understand that I said no more snacks because it will be tea time in just five minutes. But Mummy, I’m hungry. I know and tea time will be in 5 minutes. But I don’t want to eat my dinner. I want to eat toast. I’m hungry. Then you’ll eat your dinner super fast won’t you. But Mummy, can I have a snack please. What did I just say? What happened to the dictatorship we once had? Regular as Gina Ford predicted.


I still don’t get the why bother asking me a question or for permission if you’re just going to go ahead and do as you please. That is for much later on in life when you’re not seeking someone’s approval, you’re just politely informing them of what you intend to do anyways.  So when asked, can we watch tv? Not right now, you’ve watched quite a bit already. But Mummy, can we watch tv. I said not right now. But Muuuummmmy, can we watch tv.



Same goes for can we have a biscuit, ice cream, play on the iPad, phone and I’m constantly saying not right now, later, how about something else. By constantly asking for stuff you know I’m going to say No to then you’re taking all the fun out of parenting. No one likes to be the person that takes the fun away. But that’s what it often feels like. Especially in triplicate.


And what happens when you say No but they go ahead and do it anyways? Rage is what happens. Disappointment, anger and fury that leads to the dark side. Bewilderment and confusion too. What is it about my children that makes them not listen to a word I say. I actually can hear myself sometimes and lose the will to carry on. No one appears to be listening. Nothing is registering. Eyes are blank and their thoughts are probably chasing after Lego Stars Wars, rainbows and unicorns.


And yet I have to carry on. As much as it would be nice not to have to correct behaviour that would have them deemed feral in some circles just so I could give myself a break. The truth is, they rarely put a foot out of place with other people who are not me. A delight to teach, very helpful, never a cross word are phrases I have heard about them. It’s a relief to know this of course. But why can’t we have a day, weekend, week of never a cross word?


Recently it got to a point with #1 where there were far too many days filled with cross words. With nothing getting through. Lots of anger and upset on both sides. It hit a pinnacle before I realised it was me that needed to break the cycle. I was focussing on the wrong thing, as I’m sure the Generic Parenting Guides could have told me but sometimes with so many other things going on you miss the point.


#1 may have turned seven but it’s still only seven. In my mind he was this boy growing up so fast and at times he’s astounded me with his thought processes and questions. He’s interested in many things and is kind and caring. Naturally he likes to wind up #2 and she’s an easy target but because of the volume of noise that ensues, it can get blown out of proportion and the amount of times you are roped in to play referee is tiring. Sort it out yourselves, as a friend once advised her own children, if there’s no blood then I don’t need to know.


Of course he’s going to try it on. I said just the one pineapple tart and he sneaks in another when he thinks I won’t know but I always do know because I’m looking out for it. And because he knows I almost always find him out, he knows (sometimes) not to do it again (but easily forgets this).


Choose your battles. I understand that better too now. You can’t pick up on everything. Otherwise it does get to a point where you seem to be critical of everything they do and neither of you will like you for it.


I look back to when #1 was this tiny bundle of new discoveries to be made. How frightening it was to have this responsibility of something so precious. Wishing away the days when both of you were exhausted and crying thinking it will be easier when they get older. It is in many ways. But not so in many others. The parenting journey is forever changing and #1 is teaching me new things all the time.


Time goes by so fast. Every day that I hold #1’s hand in mine I inwardly smile and think how his hand still has that child like roundness to it. Everyday I hold each of their hands. Just so I will have those memories for when they think they’re a bit too old for it and I will try and not be too upset about that. Not in front of them at least.


I’m sure there will be other challenging days ahead and we will both be yelling at each other which sounds totally ridiculous when I say it out loud here.  I’m 41 and he’s seven for goodness sake.


But to have your hand in mine is one of my greatest simple treasures. It’s a reminder that I’m here to guide #1, 2 and 3. I’m not really sure how but together I’m sure we’ll figure it out somehow.


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All by myself……..

It is the plight of many people with young children who say, sometimes complain, they never have a quiet moment to themselves. I am one of those people. The amount of times you just want to have a bit of privacy going about your personal hygiene business when all of a sudden a small child just magically appears out of nowhere. It’s an assault on the senses when #1, 2 and 3 compete at the same time for your attention. One starts talking, then the other and then the third joins in for no other reason than to just join in. It results in a mounting crescendo of high level noise like a conductor waving his baton at the orchestra for the grand finale of some complicated symphony.

I really wish I were one of those people who can serenely function with a cacophony of activity going around them. But what I find is that my ears begin to ring, the blood pounds behind my temple, I barely know where to begin to stop the noise and I feel the need to retire to a dark, quiet room.

I’m pretty used to it now during the waking hours of #1, 2 and 3. Their boundless energy and capacity for more noise is quite something. I look forward to that golden moment of quiet as soon as they are all sound asleep. It’s like running on all cylinders firing and then suddenly you can just be still.

But it never feels long enough. This time in the evening which you may need to use to do other jobs left over from the day or preparing as much as you can before the next day starts all over again. 

Time to yourself is rare. 

And how often have we imagined just what we would do if we had time to ourselves. Read a book? An uninterrupted coffee? Get wildly inebriated and wallow in your all day hangover? Meet a friend for lunch and stay out all day?

And how often do we reminisce how much less time it took to get from A to B without organising a multitude of people with a multitude of accessories ‘just in case.’

And then there’s of course sleep. Oh my gosh. Uninterrupted blissful consecutive hours of sleep. With no small person visiting in the early hours. 

Yes, it does all sound rather attractive. 
And of course it is. For a short while that is. 
I rather unexpectedly had to go away for Gainful Employment purposes. Just for a couple of days. All by myself. 
Get up at 5am, just me. Quick shower. Carry on luggage, just for me. Taxi to airport. Already checked in online. Straight through Departures. Through whizzy finger print recognition gate thing. There’s an hour and a half before my flight. I’ve never had so much time to spare before. 

There’s time for an unhurried breakfast, a browse in the bookshop, a stop to buy paracetamol and then a saunter to the gate furthest away from anywhere. It’s the most stress free pre-flight experience I’ve had in ages. I’m almost congratulating myself on this achievement. 

And whilst on the flight there is no luxury inflight entertainment system, that’s ok because I’m not busy unpacking half a toy box to keep #1, 2 and 3 occupied. I don’t have to worry about any of them kicking the seat in front or tipping the contents of water/juice/tea over themselves. I can just be still. 

I brought a book with me but I’m not even going to bother opening a page. I’m going to do nothing for the whole 2 hours and 15 minutes. I might even have a nap. I do.
It’s all so civilised, none of this gathering bits and pieces of Lego because #1 insists that’s appropriate inflight entertainment. Not having to gather five pieces of hand luggage because everyone needs to have their own stuff. Not having to gather three small people together and ricochet off the seats because the galley is just not wide enough to herd three small people, five bags and yourself.

It’s the same going through Immigration and straight out to Departures where for the first time ever there’s a person stood with a sign with my name on.

The hotel room is ginormous and far too much for just me. But it’s oh so comfortable. I get more than 7 hours uninterrupted sleep. No waking up and going straight into a non stop routine. Just need to get myself ready and a table for one.

But the truth is, I’m not used to being all by myself anymore. I’m used to having several questions thrown at me at once. To be thinking about what I need to do next. To get things ready for the next day. To be in the company of other people. In the company of Husband and #1, 2 and 3.

It’s all very well jet setting off to some exotic location. It once sounded so appealing. Exciting. But now, as much as I enjoyed sleeping in a massive space for one uninterrupted night, I miss the cacophony of home where Husband, #1, 2 and 3 are.

It’s not like I’ve never been away from them before. It’s the first time it’s been all by myself. 

And as the song goes, I don’t want to be all by myself and so, I can’t wait to get home. And I’ll never complain about not having time to myself ever again.

I bet that lasts all of 30 minutes after walking through the door!

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