Just say hello

As schools are back this week, I thought it would be a good time for me to take Donut to a play centre.  It’d be quiet(er), and there wouldn’t be any “big kids” running around.  I had decided on taking him to a lovely little play centre, called Playdays Cafe, which is in St Helens (Merseyside).

Now, I’m a member of several websites, that encourages mums to make friends with other mums – so I decided to extend my little party of two to be a mummy social.

One particular website I’m a member of, is (ironically) called Mummy Social, and does allow you to set up events, and invite other mums in your area (or further afield, if you wish).  So I did.  I set it up about 10 days ago, and hey presto!  My invitations were automatically sent out to those in the St Helens and Liverpool area.

It was the eve before my “social”, and no one had clicked the “attend” button on the site.  However, I wasn’t disheartened.  As I said – I was already planning on taking Donut anyway.

I quickly made a post on a local mums facebook group, extending the invite there, and I did get a lot of interest – 4 other mums said they would be there with their little ones.

This morning started off as usual.  Gning and Donut decided they wanted “milk and cookies” for breakfast, and as soon as they were ready, we were out the door.  I dropped Gning off at school (just started year 1), and Donut got really upset, because he wasn’t going to school (he goes to nursery, three times a week).  I explained to him that we were going to play instead, so he hurried me back to the car…

I arrived at the play centre early.  A lot earlier than I had invited the mums for.  I had said 10am, but I was there for 9:30am.

I’m one of those people who suffers anxiety, and I did have a mini panic-attack this morning, thinking that people would actually turn up!  What would I say to them?  Should I just say hello?  How would I keep the conversation going..?

Donut quickly ran off and started playing.  He knows this particular play centre inside out, and has a habit of climbing up to the tallest part, then starts crying.  He gets “stuck”.  He isn’t really stuck…  He just realises that he’s at the top, and can’t remember the way down.  This is exactly what happened at 9:55am.  He stood at the top of the frame, looking down at me, sobbing.  One of the girls who worked there shouted up to him, “are you ok?”, she asked.  I replied that he always does this – he just can’t remember the way down.  I stood up and went to help him, but the girl had beat me to it.  “Don’t worry about it – I’m used to going up and down this thing.  You just sit down and enjoy your coffee”, she said with a smile.  Brilliant.  Mother of the Year award goes to a complete stranger, who shot up the climbing frame quicker than I could pick up my cup.

Donut made his own way down, with guidance from the girl, and was so happy when he reached the bottom.  He did his little happy dance, and even “high fived” her, before she made her way back behind the counter.  Next thing you know, he’s up at the top again…  Only this time, he remembered his new learned skill, and was back down!

There were plenty of other mums, and carer’s of children, in the play centre.  I looked around, looking for any glimpse of familiarity in their faces.  Was that the girl who replied that she would attend?  I’m sure I recognise that little boys face…

One mum was heavily pregnant, and looked really stressed out.  She had a little girl with her – I’d say about 18 months old or so, and the tiny tot would not leave her side.  The bump had to climb over the 1.5ft barrier occasion on occasion to force her daughter to play.

Another mum was there, and had what looked like a 3 year old boy, and a baby boy – around a month old.  She looked a natural.  Laughing, chasing the child around, whilst “wearing” the baby on her chest…

Then I realised that Donut had disappeared again.  I thought that he was up on the frame again, but then I heard him laugh.  I turned around, and noticed that he was in one of those coin operated rides, with another little boy of a similar age, and the machine was on.  Mum of little boy was at their side, smiling.  I shot over to their side, and apologised that Donut was taking over her sons’ ride.  She laughed, and told me not to worry about it.  Her son doesn’t usually mingle well with other children, but he seemed to like Donut.

It was now 10:20am.  I was getting bored, sitting at the table alone.  If anyone had turned up from the Mummy Social site, or facebook group, no one had made an effort to try to find me.

I hastily posted a status on the latter mentioned group, asking if anyone was there, and if they were too shy to say hello – because I was in the same boat.  I did get lots of replies, but all were “sorry, I forgot”, or “I didn’t know you meant today…”.

I called Donut over, and asked him if he wanted to go home and see daddy, which he said “yes” to.  On with his shoes, and home we went.

I think the point that I’m getting to here is not about anyone else turning up, it’s about something much more.  I was sat on my own, and apart from the other two mums’, who seemed to be there without any other adult company, there were other “groups” of mums / child-carers.

Did you know that 4 out of 5 people would rather use the statement “I’m depressed”, rather than “I’m lonely”?

If you’re with a group of friends, and you see a mum sitting on her own – smile at her.  Say “hello”.  It’s not much, and takes no effort at all, but you may just bring so much more to that persons’ day.

Seek out the mum who is focused on her smartphone.  Most of the time they will say, ‘Oh, did you mean me?  Hi.’  A little eye contact, a little smile, a little victory for humanity.

You never know – you may just have met your new best mum friend by one simple word.

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I am not a mummy

As you all should know by now, I am a mummy to two beautiful boys.  Gning was born in September 2011, and Donut in June 2015.  Both are my world – always have been, and always will be.

I always looked forward to the day that my first born could speak, and he would start calling me “mummy”, but that was never the case.

His first name for me was “mama”.  It then moved on to “mumma”, and I absolutely loved it.  It wasn’t going to be long before he could say “mummy”.

Gning was about 18 months old when we were in a hotel, at Schiphol (in the Netherlands) when it first happened.

Hubby, Gning and I had one room; and across the hall, my mum and dad had a room.  Gning kept pointing to the door, saying “nanna”; so I opened the door, and he toddled on through, and knocked on my parents door.  They let him in, and about 15 minutes later, my mum was knocking on our door with the baby…  I opened the door, and he practically jumped in to my arms.

“I don’t know what he’s trying to say.  He keeps saying “me me” and knocking on the door, pointing,” mum said.

I looked at hubby – neither of us had a clue what he was trying to say; but Gning kept hugging me, and saying “me me”.

It was towards the end of that week away when we realised what he was saying.

Hubby asked Gning, “where’s “me me”?”  Gning kept pointing to me…

Fast forward to when he was about three.  He was still referring to me as “me me”, although we had now adapted the spelling.  Well, it was actually Gning who confirmed the way we would spell it, as he had been learning how to write his name in nursery.

One day he came home from nursery with a card he had made for me.  Inside, it read:

“Mmymmy

love

Gning*”

*(real name was written – not Gning)

I asked him what the “mmymmy” said, and he replied, “me me”.

I think it’s funny, that people still ask “who’s me me?”  I am then able to relay the wonderful story that started in Holland.

It’s just stuck since then, and I love it.  I’ve never met anyone else who is a mummy, called “mmymmy”.  He knows that I am mum, and mummy, and he thinks he’s being cheeky now when he says “ok, mum”…

I have repetitively told him that it’s ok to call me mum or mummy, as I am all of those titles; and once he asked me if it’s ok for him to call me mum now.  I replied that of course it was, but he’s never changed it.

More recently, Donut has started saying “me me” and pointing to me…  It’s definitely stuck, and I just love it.

So, if you know us personally, and if you ever hear my boys say “me me”, they’re talking about their mummy.  Their mum.  Me(me).

To the mum feeling guilty…

To the mum hiding in her bathroom, needing peace for just one minute, as the tears roll down your cheeks.

To the mum who is so tired, you feel like you can’t function anymore and would do anything to lay down and get the rest you need.

To the mum sitting in your car, alone, stuffing food in your face because you don’t want anyone else to see or know you eat that stuff.

To the mum crying on the couch after you shouted at the kids for something little and is now feeling guilty and like you are unworthy.

To the mum that is trying desperately to put those old jeans on because all you really wants is to look in the mirror and feel good about yourself.

To the mum that doesn’t want to leave the house because life is just too much to handle right now.

To the mum that is calling out for take away again because dinner just didn’t happen the way you wanted it to.

To the mum that feels alone, whether in a room by yourself or standing in a crowd.

You are enough.
You are important.
You are worthy.

This is a phase of life for us. This is a really really hard, challenging, crazy phase of life.  I know – I’ve been there, and sometimes feel like I still am there.

In the end it will all be worth it. But for now it’s hard. And it’s hard for so many of us in many different ways. We don’t always talk about it, but it’s hard and it’s not just you.

You are enough.
You are doing your best.
Those little eyes that look up at you – they think you are perfect. They think you are more than enough.

Those little hands that reach out to hold you – they think you are the strongest. They think you can conquer the world.

Those little mouths eating the food you gave them – they think that you are the best because their bellies are full.

Those little hearts that reach out to touch yours – they don’t want anything more. They just want you.

Because you are enough. You are more than enough, mum.  You are simply amazing.

A Groovy Kind of Love – Phil Collins

Phil Collins, born 31 January, 1951 in London, England.  He started as a drummer for Genesis, and when Peter Gabriel left the band, he took lead vocals.

Let’s face it.  He can’t sing.  Well, he can, but he’s certainly not got the best voice.  However, ever since before I came in to this world, I was addicted to the sounds and voice of Genesis, and later, Phil Collins.

Their music was constantly playing whilst I was in my mothers’ womb, and right up until now, my dad still plays their music loudly.

If I had to pick just one song, that ever has existed, to be my favourite, it would have to be Phil Collins’ version of “Groovy Kind of Love”.  It literally gives me goosebumps, and more often than not, a tear to my eye, and I don’t even know why.

Here’s the lyrics – the video is below.

When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do
Is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue
When you’re close to me, I can feel your heart beat
I can hear you breathing near my ear
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love

Anytime you want to you can turn me onto
Anything you want to, anytime at all
When I kiss your lips, ooh I start to shiver
Can’t control the quivering inside
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love, oh

When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do
Is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue
When I’m in your arms, nothing seems to matter
My whole world could shatter, I don’t care
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love
We got a groovy kind of love
We got a groovy kind of love, oh
We got a groovy kind of love

What a mummy to boys really wants to hear.

Dear fellow parents, grandparents, friends, family, the girl on the tills at Asda, and the man down the bottom shop.

By now you can probably see – or more likely hear since they aren’t exactly quiet – that I have two boys. Yes, boys. Other than me and a tiny zebra finch named Mocha, there are no girls in our immediate family. This is not necessarily the way that I pictured our family looking (I’ll admit, I imagined hair bows and twirly skirts when I was younger), but alas, this is the family that I have. And I LOVE it. I LOVE THEM.

I do not, however, love some of the comments that are said to or about my sons.

Let me start by saying that I understand that many of your comments are innocent and well-intentioned. Like when you ask us if we are trying for a girl – no, we’re more than happy with the children that we have. Or when you presume that because we have boys we don’t deal with drama queens or sensitivity – believe me, there is plenty of eye rolling and door slamming, dramatic tears and rage-filled outbursts, around here.

I also understand that many of the things we hear are small talk, chit-chatty things, like when you ask my son what sports he’s interested in. Some things might even be meant as a compliment, like when you say, “Wow, you sure have your hands full!”

I won’t get into all of the other comments that sometimes rub me the wrong way. Admittedly, I have been known to be a bit oversensitive at times. And the comments are nothing new, either; there are countless what-not-to-say lists out there. So instead of focusing on what not to say, let’s talk about what we can say, shall we?

There really is only one thing – ONE THING – we mums of boys want to hear. In fact, it’s probably the same thing that every parent wants to hear. And some days we’re downright desperate to hear it. There are days when we feel like we have no idea what we are doing. There are days when we’re just so sick of the noise and the fart jokes and the pee-covered toilet seats. And there are days when we can’t imagine not having boys.

When you get down to it, we just want to do right by our sons. We want them to be strong, sensitive, confident, curious, loving, kind, and caring boys, and we want to help them grow into strong, sensitive, confident, curious, loving, kind, and caring men. We want to know that we aren’t alone, that we aren’t totally f*cking this all up.

So what should you say to a mum of boys? It’s pretty simple, actually: Smile, ask how she’s doing, and then, regardless of her answer, tell her: “You’re doing a great job. You have wonderful boys, and they are so lucky to have you.

We will more than likely smile back and say “thank you.” We might blush a little or even brush your comment away.

Or we just might just hug you.

Because you have totally made our day.

It’s just that simple.

Sincerely,

A mummy to two beautiful boys x

Mummies need friends too…

When a woman becomes a mummy, there are a couple of things that could happen.

The first is that she already has friends that have children.  Some are older, some are the same age…  She feels secure and confident that her ‘already’ mummy friends will be on hand to help and advise her.

The second is that she doesn’t have any friends that are already mummies.  They hang around for a while, but the new mummy has to turn down days / nights out because she has her hands full.  The baby is taking up all of her time.  Eventually, her friends don’t bother with the invitations any more.  The new mummy then loses contact.  Sure, one or two friends may stick around, but things are never the same.

Me?  I never had any friends to begin with (other than my husband), but the craving for friends was still there.

I have always said that I am not a people person, and I think that I that because I struggle to make friends.  I always have.

I like to think that I am an interesting person…  I have a wide variety of hobbies, interests and music tastes, so I am sure to have something in common with near enough everyone.  The only thing that I have never been in to is going out, clubbing.  Even when I did used to go out (ages 18 to 22 – or there abouts), I was never in to it.  I only ever went to keep in with my ‘friends’.  I think it’s because I struggle with what to say.  I just seem to ramble.

I actually made a friend a few years ago…  She was just a couple of months older than me, and we had a lot in common.  She didn’t have any children of her own, but two step-children.  We had dinner parties together – at each others houses, had days out together, and even went on holiday, camping, together.  It was all great fun, and I loved being able to talk to another woman – as a friend, rather than family.

I think when you have friends who are family members too, you feel slightly cautious about what you can and can’t say.  I think you’re slightly afraid of who else may hear within your family.  Well.  That’s how I feel anyway.

However, my friendship didn’t last.  I made the mistake of trying to make family friends, rather than a friend for just me.  My husband and her husband clashed.  It wasn’t because they had too many things in common…  It was their personalities.  It all came to heads when I felt like my friend and her husband were trying to ‘dig deep’ in to my personal life.  It wasn’t that I wasn’t willing to talk, but they were asking questions, trying to turn me against my husband.  I still haven’t figured out why.

When I fell pregnant with Donut, my cravings started again.  I’m not just talking pregnancy cravings either, ha ha.

I started posting on a parenting site called Netmums (this is an international site – not just for parents in the UK), asking for friends with children of a similar age to mine.  I received a few replies.

One reply came from a girl who lived a 10 minute drive away from me.  We shared ‘essays’ of messages, back and forth for weeks…  Then all of a sudden, she just disappeared.  I did message her to ask if she was ok, and I’m still waiting for a reply from May.

Another reply came from a lovely girl who lives down south.  Not what you call a conventional friend, as the chances of us meeting are minimal.  However, we have been corresponding for months now, and each email is long and chatty…  Exactly what you are looking for with an epal 🙂

Two more replies came, and I have met both ladies.  Both live a bit of a distance away from me, but are definitely not out of the way.

G lives about a 30 minutes drive away, and she has a lovely little boy who is almost 2.  Gning got on great with him, and we are planning on meeting again soon.

A lives about a 45 minute drive away, and her lovely little man is just 9 months old.  Talk about being a smiler!  Gning wasn’t with me when we met, but Donut was.  I’m looking forward to going for another coffee with her tomorrow.

So, why do mummies need friends?

I think it’s necessary.  Not just for the kiddies to meet and play with each other (although that is a very important reason in itself); but for women to be able to get out of their usual routine of just looking at the same four walls, day in and out.  It’s important to socialise…  Humans – no matter how much of not being a ‘people person’ they are – need companionship.

Sharing a general interest, going for days out, crafting together, baking together…  Offering support and advice.for each other.  No matter the reason, having a friend is important.

Dear soon-to-be Mum of two

Dear soon-to-be Mummy of two,

I don’t know you. But I feel like I do.

I used to be you.

And I was terrified.

I thought of you today. I don’t know your name, and I don’t know what you look like. But I still thought of you. I wondered if you were holding your breath as you waited for the home pregnancy test to deliver your fate, not sure if you should be thrilled or petrified. I wondered if you are finding it hard to chase after your toddler because you are so exhausted from the constant morning all-the-time sickness. I wondered if you were crying over your child’s bed tonight, trying to figure out why you ever thought it would be a good idea to “try again”. I wondered if you looked down at your swollen belly with guilt, thinking, “How could I POSSIBLY love you as much as I love my firstborn?” I wondered if you looked at your firstborn with guilt, thinking, “How could I have done this to you?”

I thought of you … because I WAS you.

And I wish I could give you a hug and tell you that it’s going to be OK.

Because it is.

I wish I could tell you that from the moment your second child enters your life, you will feel strong and confident, and that that feeling will never go away… But I can’t.

I also wish I could tell you it was going to be easy…  But I can’t.

Because it isn’t.

Tough times are ahead of you. You’ll have moments when you’re trying to feed a hungry baby and cajole a grumpy toddler onto the potty seat and you’ll wish you had three extra hands, a second brain (or even just a single not-so-sleep-deprived one), and a carton of ice cream that no one expects you to share. You’ll likely leave at least one restaurant in tears, vowing that you’ll never again take your children out in public. You’re going to spend a lot of time breaking up arguments (and/or perfecting the art of tuning them out). You’ll wonder if you’re going to be able to sleep again, or shower in peace again, or carry on a thoughtful conversation again. For a while, you’re going to be wiped out.

I can’t tell you it’s going to be easy.

But I can tell you this:

I can tell you that one day your younger child will be trying to tell you a story but will leave out a crucial detail. And that, confused, you’ll turn to your older child, who will be able to effortlessly bring you up to speed. And then your world will stop spinning in one breathless moment as you realize that those two…  They complete each other.

I can tell you what I wish I could tell myself. That breathless moment? It will come. And it will make it all worth it.

That’s what you need to know, Mummy. Today, you worry about what your pregnancy is taking away from your precious only child. You worry because you’re too sick to cook wholesome dinners. You worry because you’re too tired to go to the park. You worry because trips to the library are being replaced with Netflix binge sessions as you collapse, exhausted, on the couch. You worry and you worry and you worry, because that’s what we do as parents. We worry.

But today, worry a little less.

This season of life…  It’s just a season. And everything that you’re “taking away” from your child will be returned tenfold. One day you’ll wake up and find your kids playing together. You’ll walk into the room and they won’t even notice you’re there because they’re too busy having fun together. They’ll be giggling and building and discussing and making memories.

That won’t be every moment of the day. It probably won’t even be most moments of the day.

But these moments will come. And they will make it all worth it.

So hang in there, Mummy. Be brave. Worry a little less.

Because life is about to get so much better.