As the UK celebrates ‘Mothering Sunday’, a plethora of cards are being opened (my mum likes the ones with long cheesy poems in, the more words the better) and flowers are being plonked into vases.

Maybe you’re having a roast dinner. Or some afternoon tea. Mostly likely you aren’t talking much about motherhood. You may even have found yourself saying it’s “commercial rubbish”; a day dreamt up by card companies to make more money.

As a mother of two under the age of four, in motherhood terms I feel I’m right in the thick of it. At least I think I am, oh god, tell me there isn’t a more difficult stage?!? And you see, becoming a mother makes me think about my own mother. It makes me look at her differently.

My mum has always seemed nutty to me. Sometimes in a nice way, sometimes in a frustrating oh-you-are-paranoid-because-you-read-the-daily-mail type way. When we were kids she used to sing a song about being carried off to the funny farm, oh what a silly mummy we had! But of course now I see. Now I know. The funny farm song has loomed for me on more than one occasion and my kids are both still under 4! I was the youngest of four. At some point she had two teenagers, a 4 year old and a tiny newborn. Now that is mental health worry territory! But wait, that’s not even the whole story…

When I was born, my mother had breast cancer. I was induced a little early so she could have a mastectomy and some radiotherapy. I was cared for by my (turning 98 years old this year!) Nan, my mother couldn’t breastfeed me, she couldn’t even hold me when she’d had her radiotherapy. I find it baffling that this rocky start never affected our relationship. That is to say, as a child, teenager and grown up, I always felt bonded to my mum, even if I did like to mock or scold her for being crazy/paranoid/irrational! But what she must have been through physically and emotionally in the first year of my life is difficult to imagine, as well as the rest of the family. I was unaffected by this traumatic time because I was just alive, sleeping, eating and pooing, unaware that Mum nearly died. She must have gone through hell.

Beyond this incredibly difficult time in her life, which we all got through, my mum then had to raise two small kids and two in their late teens as a part-time single parent; we moved to the coast and my father worked in London, staying there Monday-Friday, coming home on weekends. I used to think Mum was being dramatic saying she was practically a single parent, but of course now I know how much I appreciate adult company and assistance every evening- the countdown to 6pm each day. I can now see why she was a little bit nuts.

Since I’ve become a mother I’ve probably spent less time with my own. She’s gotten older, stopped doing things and I’ve been massively distracted by two little people to keep alive. The days of meeting for a shopping trip and a bowl of cappuccino in Costa have long gone, now it’s more a monthly meeting where I try to talk to her whilst every so often stopping to say “No Rex, be gentle!” Or “Don’t eat that!”.

My mum is ill. Well, it started as ill. It soon became scans and hospital appointments. Then it was potentially treatable cancer. Now it’s terminal cancer. So after being my original benchmark for what happens when you have cancer (you survive), she’s now become like the others, a cancer sufferer, not a survivor.

So we are celebrating Mother’s Day knowing it’s likely to be her last (I’m not sure celebrating is the word).

People say I’m strong, I don’t feel it. Truth is, I have to park this. Put it in a box on a very high shelf. Zip it up. Stash it away. I cannot let the feelings flood in because I have to function. I have my own little family now. We’re moving in a few weeks and I’m filling in job applications, but aside from these ‘big’ things; I simply have to drink tea, wipe bums and microwave sweet potatoes, because life goes on. 

I’d actually quite like to smash some things. Punch some walls. I’d like to run until it hurts and fall down on the ground breathless and sobbing. However I recognise that won’t help my mum. Sheila doesn’t need me to break, she needs me to be that strong person people think I am.

Happy Mother’s Day to you and yours. Maybe hug a little longer, maybe talk about what those early days were like for your mum. Because they are tough for me, they were tough for my mum, but I know it’s all worth it.

Mum and Dad in their dinner dance days.
On my wedding day.

My daughter 

I have a 3 year old daughter. She likes to play with my hair whilst she sucks her thumb.

She loves music and dancing.

She adores books.

She gives epic cuddles.

She likes watching Mr Tumble and Justin Bieber videos.

She reenacts ‘circle time’ from nursery at home with her toys.

She loves fruit.

Over-used phrases since she arrived include “I love you”, “You are so pretty”, “You are so clever”, “You make Mummy happy” and “Cuddles!”.

She is everything I ever dreamt my little girl would be and much more. As each day passes I see us together in the future; singing, shopping, scoffing popcorn at the cinema… All these simple things fill me with joy and excitement. My heart swells when I hear her call me “Mummy”.

…And I will just add that I still have to suffer the obligatory tantrums over presenting her with rice cakes instead of breadsticks or asking her to put her jacket on – it’s not all plain sailing.

But oh she is fabulous… Entertaining, amusing, cute as can be and incredibly emotionally intelligent (if she so much as sniffs a crack of upset in my voice she comes over “Y’ok Mummy?” – head tilted to one side in concern, offering a cuddle).

When we go out, I feel like I am proudly presenting her to the world; “Behold! My beautiful offspring!”.

The other night I put her to bed and laid down with my face next to her’s and said “I love you” and she stroked my face and said “I love you” right back. It was pure magic.

I fall more and more in love with her everyday.

Nothing out of the ordinary here, I assume many mums will read this and think, “Yes, sounds like a standard mother-daughter love.” And it is.

It’s just my daughter has Down’s Syndrome. So when she was born, someone gave me some news and some literature and it was like putting a sticker on her that said “This one is going to be a little bit rubbish and not meet your expectations”.


Thankfully that was bollocks.

This post is also on Selfish Mother;

We go together…

Just a short crazy post about watching Grease “live” on TV today (a recording of the Broadway musical that went out live on US TV and was shown on ITV2 this afternoon).

Something so silly, so simple and yet it made me think…

Look I know this is stupid, but when I was growing Audrey in my tummy (probably even before that), I had daydreams about my daughter and the things we’d do together. Shopping for clothes, tea and cupcakes in a nice cafe, PJ nights with a girly film… And for some stupid reason when little Audrey popped out with her extra chromosome, I felt (in those early days) that all that had been ripped away. This wasn’t the daughter who would care about fashion or want to do girly things with her mummy. This was an unknown child, I wasn’t sure what she’d be capable of or would want to do, I felt completely thrown and unable to daydream about our future.

Fast forward to February 2016. Audrey is 2 and a half, she wakes from her nap and we join in on his performance of Grease just after Greased Lightning. She has just woken from a nap so is snuggled on my lap, sucking her thumb. I sing along to some of the songs, she’s gazes up at me with her beautiful eyes. When she is a bit more awake, she sits next to me on the sofa and we boogie to ‘Born to Hand Jive’, she tries to copy the moves, she sings a little. I am in heaven. My little girl and I, doing just what I always imagined we’d do together. In fact it blew me away that we shared this moment when Audrey is only 2 and half.

She continues to amaze me.




Feminism is trendy (or should that be trending?) right now.

I’ve read so much these passed couple of weeks; from a misogynistic Viner getting a TV series commission (and getting axed) to the internet trolls that attacked the people who commented on his misogyny… the wonderful celebs wearing the “This is what a feminist looks like” tee to the evil celebs wearing the “This is what a feminist looks like” tee (because it was made by an under-paid woman in a sweatshop).

This sort of attention on feminism interests me now more than ever because of Audrey. I consider what sort of world she will grow up in and what the future holds for her as a woman.

Historically for me, feminism was a dirty word. I always pictured Germain Greer, with a burning bra on a pitchfork, talking about banning something as harmless as page 3. I certainly never thought I would consider myself a feminist. Around the age of 15 I discovered that if you stopped wearing long skirts and DMs and switched to miniskirts and knee-high boots, boys noticed you. I am ashamed to say I played dumb in Design Technology so a boy would assist me with and thought nothing of it at the time. I purchased a wonderbra and pitched myself very much on the “feminine” not “feminist” side of the fence.

For years I thought sexism was a dated concept and that hey, we are all equal these days, so why are women still banging on about it? My first real “brush” with sexism was in a job I took in the early noughties. The MD was proper old school (paper rollerdex, a secretary made all calls for him,he returned from long lunches stinking of booze, drove home… you get the picture). I was there for around a year when someone left and we were recruiting for our office manager. As the stack of applicants arrived, the pile diminished into those requiring the lowest salary, but more significantly, women only. I was soon informed that the first thing he did for any admin jobs or in fact, the job I had, was limit to women only. They also told me to look at myself and the other females working there – were we all not quite similar? Did he have a type? For the technical jobs, he did the opposite and considered men only.

One day an error (purposely guided by the MD) occurred and I heard him apologising on the phone to the client, blaming “the girls” and dismissing it as our sloppiness. There was never any funny business with this man, but over time it became clear that he regarded the woman working there as “silly girls” and certainly respected his male colleagues much more.

So I realised there were still a few sexist dinosaurs out there, but still didn’t feel the need to rise up with my sisters and declare myself a feminist…

My interest in feminism now comes from Audrey and how she will experience life as a girl. We want her to feel equal (and let’s put aside her other struggles with equality due to DS), confident and as important as any boy.

One thing Ted and I constantly despair at, is the clothing on offer for baby girls. We have no problem with pink in moderation, but we do not think she needs to be dressed in a way that constantly screams “I’m a girl!”. The main issue we have with girls’ clothing and toys (and how is this still happening in this day and age?), is the pinkification of things to appeal to girls. They make pink versions of Superman outfits, they do a pink version of the (usually so yucky brown!) Gruffalo, girls t-shirts are littered with kittens and bows and butterflies and glitter… boys get dinosaurs and monsters and bears (much cooler), most of which escape tacky embellishments.

I’m curious as to who is in charge of the importance of girlification? Has the beast been created because that’s what the majority of buying parents want? Or is there a conspiracy to keep girls girly, flood them with pink early and they’ll never want to take the decent jobs? They’ll all want to be popstars and wags?

One thing I do know, is that I want to ensure Audrey is exposed to choices on that front. Yes, I know that in a few years she will probably be choosing the ugliest, pinkest, glitter-covered princess outfit in the shop, but isn’t that more reason not to cover her in it now? Feminism should be about choices. Women now have the choices and the opportunities to be whatever they want to be…

Let’s not forget, Audrey was a pirate (on pirates and princesses day) and a bat (on Halloween):