I had a rare evening out last night leaving Mr Intrepid home with BV. It doesn’t happen very often but I always feel incredibly guilty. Mum guilt gets me every time. I need not worry so much as the boys get along just fine without me. So much so that BV is very much a daddy’s boy. Daddy is definitely his favourite.
We recently had some new additions to BV’s book shelf including this macho book of love.
My Dad used to be so Cool is written and illustrated by Keith Negley. It’s a fun book with bold and colourful illustrations.
A cool dad gives up his cool life to keep it real with his son. My Dad used to be so Cool is a cute bed time story for daddy and his mini-me to enjoy together. This one is loved by both BV and daddy (and me) and aimed at those used-to-be-cool-dads (hehem Mr Intrepid?) that might be sporting ink, riding a motorbike or still talking about that band they were in whilst at Uni!
My Dad used to be so cool has the kids trying to work out what happened to make daddy “…give it all up” whilst allowing us parents to be knowingly smug (if a touch nostalgic!)
I like to see tattooed daddies represented amongst today’s children’s books; and it’s a sure fire way to know that the ‘next generation’ are having children of their own. Ink and mohicans are not only accepted as the norm but it’s so acceptable now that it is no longer “alternative” (I hate that expression’- alternative to what?).
My dad used to be so cool is a wistful tale of life as a parent; giving it all up to have it all..It is for every daddy who desperately wants their kid to know that “back in their day..” they were cutting edge. All we need now is a “my mum is still so cool” sequel to reassure us that we’ve got this too!
Once again January is nearly over and I’ve not written a word in weeks. Life got in the way again, and I’m not sorry about that.
My last post was actually a guest post written for Bad Mum in early December. For those that missed me, you can read it here. I can share it now as the news is official. My bestie Gravy, has totally made a baby!
I did hope to write a festive post in December as I usually get creative and wanted to share some of my festive makes and bakes. Instead, I want to talk Instagram shops.
I’m not recognised as a trendsetter (try this lady for that!) nor do I care too much to follow fashion closely. I just pick things I like and hope I don’t look too much like Stig of the dump…I’m definitely not a fashion blogger. However, I do like to shop Independent, and I’m not just talking clothes (just as well as I look like an oversized potato these days….) #dontdresslikethismum
Im talking, quirky cafes and bars, locally sourced produce, handmade arts and crafts, and personalised touches. I have a particular fondness for ‘Mama Merch’ as despite my Bad Mum post, I am very much in awe of all those mamas that can get shit done and still create. You get the gist. I like to support small, local business’, whenever I can.
I was hoping to write this post closer to Christmas as it has been a long time coming but I’m going to share it now. We’re all getting over the expense of the holidays I know, but we can still look, right?
I absolutely love their ‘Scandi’ take on monochrome and these beaut beaded necklaces are rad. Handmade and contemporary, they are also practical and baby-friendly! They’re made from Food-Grade Silicon and unfinished wood. It’s a cool gift for a cool mama, and perfectly fine for baby to give it a good chew!
I was already a fan before I discovered (and subsequently won in a pre-Christmas giveaway) this cheeky, little number:
Coffee and Calpol. Medicine for mama, medicine for babe. Take note: the gift box service is spot on! #bestgiftwrap
These guys have been a favourite of mine for a few years now and I am still in love with them. Most of the jewellery is made from acrylic and it’s all hand cut by fret saw (no laser cutting here!). All pieces are individual and iconic.
On suspecting myself and Mr Intrepid had duplicated an order (we ordered the same thing, separately on the same day 😂) they contacted him to query if he’d ordered me a surprise present, and offered to cancel his order without giving the game away. Super, sweet service to go with the super, sweet products. #bestservice
This is my mama crush. Everything about Mere Soeur is uber hip. Madame Mere Soeur herself, is a powerful, positive role model for us womenfolk and her merch oozes strength, support and good vibes. Never underestimate the power of a girl gang. #bestgiftsforyourgalpals
Nor-folk is a graphic design-led, lifestyle brand. It’s neutral, minimalist and timeless designs are ideal for everyone. Quality over Quantity, and perfect for monochrome lovers. I’m a big fan. #bestfortwinning
This is your reminder. Even on your darkest day, you can do this. I can do this. I am enough. We Are Enough Co merch empowers, unites and supports through good times and bad times. A percentage of profits go to charitable causes that do just that too. You got this. Strong, positive designs to empower. Very special. #bestforreassurance
Gisella is a Peruvian born Spanish artist based in London. Her work is particularly influenced by women and her blend of colours really bring her creations to life. She is a real inspiration and extremely talented. #bestcolours
Gisella is currently exhibiting at Coya in Mayfair, London until 1st March.
Unisex Handscreen printed t-shirts and sweatshirts made with eco-friendly inks. Award winning (Junior Design Awards 2016) clothing for our little one. My own BV loves his tees from here. Fun designs to wear on fun days. I’m looking forward to getting him the new ‘bossy’ tee. #bestforfun
No website for this one yet. Handmade in Cornwall (yay home county!) crocheted hats and blankets made to order. Fam-A-Lamb received a beautiful hat each as a gift and we just love them! Great for gifting (and receiving). Just ping them a message with your request! #bestforhandmade
This is proving to be quite a lengthy post as there are still a heap more cool shops I have not yet mentioned. Il carry on Instagramming the shit out of life for now but watch this space for a part 2!
Dear Judgy McJudgyson, if that’s even your real name…?
Why do you do it? Silently judging parents and how they parent, particularly if they parent differently from you. Does it come from your own insecurity? Are other parents’ methods making you question your own methods? No one wants to think they’re not doing right by their child. You are having doubts. In this competitive sport that parenting has become, your way is the only way.
However, your silent judging isn’t so silent anymore. I can hear you.
You’re staring at me. You’re pointing and whispering-“I can’t believe she’s doing that” saying that/allowing that” Well listen up Judgy McJudgyson, so what if I am?!
Somehow every parenting decision I have ever made is fair game for criticism: Did I find out the sex? What kind of birth did I have?, Does my child have his own room? Am I going to breastfeed?, Why am I still breastfeeding? Do I allow my child to watch TV?, Is he still in nappies? Oh.My.Effing.God!, Are you going out? Without him?
“Oh” you say, “I’m not doing that” (eye roll). Why do you care whether or not my child watches CBeebies 12 hours a day, eats ice cream for dinner or spends most of the night cuddled up in my bed instead of his own?
Do you know what’s really helpful? I am cramming my heart and soul into raising my son, struggling with a myriad of everyday, normal woes, financial, health, work -whatever – when I am judged by you. Super mum, who arrogantly knows just what to do. It’s amazing. And oh so welcome. Because that’s what I need: a kick in the teeth by someone who’s got this mothering thing in the bag.
Your judging has sadly become part of my mum culture. I try to keep my opinions to myself, my own mum taught me if I’ve nothing nice to say then I shouldn’t say anything at all. And this is (mostly) how I live. I remove myself from the situation. I do not need your opinions and I do not need you.
I know I’m never going to stop noticing how other mums do their thing and wondering how my own choices stack up. I think it’s fine to notice. It’s fine to discuss our differences. Whatever works-right? I know I’m not like you. I hope I’m not like you. I never want to make any mum or parent feel the way you make me feel.
We are supposed to share our war stories with each other. Offer a hand, an ear or a cup of tea. I’m on an island and I can’t swim, for fucks sake pass me a fucking life belt!
It’s become the norm to mercilessly judge our fellow parents, yet behind closed doors we share the same worries and angst. We should be mindful of each other’s feelings. Somewhere along the way we have forgotten, that we’re all on the same team. What’s that African proverb….? Oh yes, It takes an entire village to raise a child.
Well listen up Judgy McJudgyson, you can roll your eyes at me and point your finger all you like but you and I are the same. We are mums and we need each other, so Mum the fuck up and join this village!
As a child I’d cry if anyone came to the house, and not just strangers; I remember sitting at the top of the stairs at Bromley Cres. crying my eyes out because my Grandparents whom I loved, had come to visit. The cheek of it!
Fortunately, I am no longer shy in my every day life. I enjoy meeting new people and I am confident in one-to-one situations. I’ve got several close best friends, including some that go as far back as school days; and I have a phone book full of mums whom I see pretty much every week. Cram them all in to my flat for a sober, toddler birthday party and I am sick with nerves.
I love to have guests, but I’m not much of an inviter, self-consciousness creeps in and overwhelms my good intentions.
Growing up, I don’t recall ever having a birthday party although I attended many. I always assumed it was because of the expense (5 kids, 5 birthday parties) but now I have realised it is just too stressful. When I was 11 and in my first year of secondary school, myself and my two younger siblings begged to have a party, and eventually we wore our folks down and convinced them in to agreeing to letting us have a Christmas Party. One condition. I had to share it with my little brother. Easy.
He invited his entire class and I invited a select number of my own classmates. I was too embarrassed to invite boys, so I invited girls only, including some of the “cool” girls. I was painfully shy and hitting puberty- can’t imagine why I thought this would be a great idea. The “cool” girls obviously didn’t attend (No boys – duh!) and that was it for me.
I was picked on and bullied after this for not being “cool”. Do you remember when you were at school and there was always the one kid in the class that really smelt? Or, everyone saidreally smelt, and you went along with it just grateful that you weren’t the smelly kid? Well, I was the smelly kid. Or at least, I was the kid everyone called the smelly kid. I think it was because (despite the fact I was showering 2-3 times a day in attempts to just not be the smelly kid) once in PE I didn’t use deodorant (for fucks sake, how many 11 year old’s use deodorant?). Anyway I am digressing, these days I try to avoid hosting.
For my sons birthday I teamed up with a lovely, sociable mum (whom also had a birthday tot), my wing woman, (safety in numbers and all that) and planned an outdoor party in the park (neutral ground). I don’t know what I was thinking to be honest, I am a rubbish hostess. Hosting is most definitely not my forte. Anyway, of course my leading lady got sick and the rains came, oh and Sainsbury’s didn’t deliver my grocery’s due to a “technical error”…I needed a Plan B. Let’s have the party here in my home! You know, the one where I avoid hosting coffee mornings or playdates at? Great idea stupid ass. Rarely does anyone get an invite to my flat, I dislike it so much. We are fortunate enough to live in a very affluent area with pretty river views and lovely neighbours. However, I live above a pub in an old flat. On the upside, the windows and ceilings are high and magnificent, and the flat is spacious and light, and the downside? the kitchen looks like it belongs in a 1980’s youth hostel, and the bathroom grows more mould than Alexander Flemming. Hardly yummy mummy territory.
I want to invite, I really do. I know how loved I feel when I’m invited. I watch friends do it with ease and grace and admire them for their ability to fold people into their lives. I can’t concentrate once the anxiety sets in. The promise of forced interaction in the name of good parenting instills a panic. What if no one shows up?, or worse, what if they do? Oh god, what if they notice my washing drying in the bedroom, or that my bathroom towels don’t match?
Sweat trickles down my back and my lips are dry. I am talking. I am not sure what about, I am talking non stop. I am acutely aware of the awkwardness I’m desperately trying to hide. I can’t tell if my guests are startled by my deliberate effervescence or if they think I am witty and charming (I did make them wear moustaches!) I am 20% having an ok time, and 80% racking my brain for something to say and wondering when they can all go home? I am at my most uncomfortable as I do my best to ensure everyone is having a nice time. My surface level housekeeping, eclectic furniture, fear of saying the wrong thing, and decidedly awkward inability to offer anyone a drink, stops me, if I even have a minute to think about being a hostess.
I am lucky enough to have an amazing husband with a level head. Mr Intrepid works in hospitality which we all know is technically hosting for a living. He is charming and he iswitty and despite the fact that this party is for a 2 year old, his emergency trip to Waitrose brings us booze. Hurrah.
Oh and there were cakes!
Happy 2 year old? Tick #ParentingWin
Parents plied with booze mid afternoon with no offer of an alternative, whilst being ordered to wear moustaches?
#Hostingwin? – jury’s still out on that one!
I’m not trying to be one of those cool sweary blogger mums, but my reality is I’m just a swearer. All the effing time. I can’t help it. I use it for enthusiasm and humour and just plain habit. I don’t think about it enough, to always rein it in.
I swear in front of my son. I try not too, especially now he’s talking and absorbing every little thing like a sponge, but sometimes a perfectly timed F-bomb just slips right out.
I have stopped worrying about it. I think that actually, it’s ok. Swearing has its place; it’s always my honest, and emotional reaction. It’s instinct. When I love something – coffee, art, a cool bar, – I fucking love it. I am celebrating my joy in life, with words, and to be honest, fuck happens to be one of my favourites.
I want my son to see me as a real, honest and straight talking person, with real life feelings, and to see how I react and cope with normal daily life. I am trying to replace the shits with the sugars and the fucks with the fluffs but what’s the point, when 10 minutes later I stub my toe and an array of unstoppable, colourful words just pop right out?
I don’t want to tip-toe around touchy subjects. You will not find rose-tainted, sugar coated explanations here. I want to teach my son to be passionate about life. I couldn’t care less if you think I am a bitch (I’m not!) or if you think I am a ‘bit of a dick’ for speaking out against discrimination, bullying or life’s unfairness. I will not be apologetic for standing up for my son, my friends or myself. I am not violent nor am I a hater, but anyone who fucks with my loved ones will be torn to pieces with my sharp tongue and explosive vocabulary. I use swear words to express my emotions, whether that be happy or sad, angry or fluffing elated . I swear my way through life’s tricky situations and well, at the end of the day, Fuck is just a word.
A word in itself, any word, isn’t harmful unless it is used in a harmful way. Harm is determined by how the word is used. If you’re using expletives to verbally and emotionally attack, then of course this is harmful. However, if you spill your Tea and your first reaction is to blurt out ‘oh, bugger’ then that my friends is just reality.
I am teaching my son to express himself in cathartic and productive ways. I do not want him to be worried about being judged by everyone around him, and I want him to be tolerant, empathetic and non-judgemental in return. I want him to know that when someone does judge him, and makes him feel anything less than brilliant, that fuck off is a completely acceptable response.
I don’t for a minute wish for you to think that I tolerate or condone this kind of language. I don’t want my son to swear, (and I will do what I can to discourage it), but I also don’t feel like I have to censor myself. He will grow up responsible and educated enough to appreciate that there are some things kids can do, and there are some things only adults can do. If I censor all of this, how can I expect him to work it out?
Language is a powerful tool. Being a parent has taught me that there is as much menace in “get down from there, now” then there is in any profanity I use when I stub my toe, and that “you fucking idiot” has the same attacking undertones as “you idiot“. Context is everything. So, when BV falls over and lets rip with a “dammit, mummy” (true story!) I will stifle a giggle and give zero fucks whatsoever….
I am proud too of labels I am known by: wife, daughter, sister, friend, weird tattooed girl with the metal in her face (true story!) and yes, a mother.
However, I am also proud to be that mother. I have judged, and I have been judged.
I am a ‘helicopter’ mum. I need to stay close to my boy, how else can I really know for sure that he is ok? I will smother him with love if that means he will grow up never doubting it.
I am a ‘sanctimummy’. Of course my way is the best way. It has to be like this. What kind of mum would this make me, if I had no idea what I’m doing? I may not be tutting, but I am judging. Myself though, obviously. If you think I have my shit together then I am winning at something. Woohoo.
I am a Tiger Mum. I am demanding. I want my child to grow up compassionate and smart, kind and strong. I want him to be all the things I strive to be, and I will push him until he knows he can be everything and more.
All of these labels are ways to judge and criticise but I am proud to have them all.
Mothering is hard and I’m winging it working at it…everyday. I am not a designer handbag, but I am in every sub category of mother, I am all of the mothers, and I am the mother, and I am fricking awesome.
Please follow Jenna’s posts here, and if you’re in need of some fellow mummy support or amazing pregnancy and birth hippy love, then here’s where you can find it! ❤️ www.doulanatal.co.uk