Three Letters

IMG_4416I’ve been suffering  from self-diagnosed blog-block. All  week I’ve known I should post, but I didn’t know what to write. I didn’t think you would want to know about the vomit I’ve been dealing with (a bug has been rampaging through our family), or about the new radiators that I have chosen, or that I watched ‘Still Alice’ and cried nearly all the way through, or that I have to get new front tyres on my car before the MOT, or about my dog-walking, or the new way I cooked the sweet-potato the other night.  You see, my life has been simply ordinary. Mundane. Routine. And I am so, so thankful for that, because it lets me see the miraculous. It allows me to wonder at the little things. Take the word BOY. Three letters – doesn’t get much smaller and yet within it it holds my whole heart. Twice.

For me, the word is too small. Only one syllable! It can’t describe the life, the sparkle, the laughter, the wit, the willy-shaking, the bottom-burping, the football loving, the wrestling, the power, the maddening, the joy, the gigantic huge massive largeness of the boy (s) I have in my life today. Nine years on and I still can’t define the contradictions of my ‘motherlove.’ Today, I stumbled across this. I wrote it in October 2007 just before my eldest son’s first birthday.

It’s nearly 365 days since I became two. Since William was unceremoniously pulled from me and  placed bloodied and screaming on my chest. No longer was I charged with carrying around my bulging bump. I was free again from the prods of strangers and the restrictions of having the girth of a small pony. I could see my own feet again! Time to reclaim my life and resume where I left off… or so I thought. 

Little did I realise that my bump was fairly co-operative compared to the baby it produced. My life has inconceivably changed and will never again resemble what it once was. I’ve learned that Mother Nature is so-called for a reason. When a baby is born us women have all sorts of wonderful hormones and clever instinctive pheromones racing around our knackered, bruised and maybe even sliced up bodies. These permeate love and nesting instincts. Motherhood has made me incredibly resilient – I have to be. Suddenly I am last on the list. My baby is my priority now. I find myself leaping to his every whimper and bowing to his every need. The first few weeks were like a trance as my body learned to cope with less sleep than ever before. An educated, independent and capable woman; I became a milk machine at the mercy of leaking nipples and intimate with the wash cycle of my machine.

And yet, these long days: caring, nursing, cleaning, bathing and drawn out nights, soothing and shushing, have been the fastest of my entire life. Days have flown into weeks, weeks into months and before I feel I know it, I have a beautiful boy who is walking, smiling, shouting and babbling. I have someone who has changed me inconceivably and yet remains totally unaware. I have someone who loves me, but whom I have never heard speak. I have someone who can take away all my troubles with one smile. I have someone whose breath I can listen to for hours. I have someone who gives me joy that was inconceivable to me before. Three hundred and sixty-five of the hardest, but the very best days of my life.


Said baby is now almost eye-level with me and tells me I’m either ‘so embarrassing’  or ‘an idiot’ with bored regularity. (he also gives the best hugs in the business & his smile can still melt my troubles away.)








The Quiet Feminist.


Feminism is loud and proud once more, not since our sisters in arms, the Suffragettes, has it been so visible and such a topic of conversation. This time, we might actually see a female President of America! We might get to smash the glass ceiling once and for all. Hallelujah!

So, how does this make me feel, when I find myself the quintessential busy little housewife, financially dependent and responsible for making sure my husband has dinner on the table when he comes home every night. Honestly? Pretty shit. I feel like I’m disappointing my gender. I feel like my university education was a waste. I feel like a feminist with a very small ‘f’.

Two and a half years ago, after I acquired an agent for my first book and got an Arts Council Grant towards writing my second, I decided to ‘take a break’ from my freelance script-editing work and concentrate on writing ‘full-time’ i.e. whatever time was left after taking care of two young children, a house and a husband. So here I am, two and a half years later still ‘not working.’

No publishing deal came through on my first book and I’m almost finished the second book. As my friends and fellow females climb to dizzying heights flying the feminist flag I’m at home doing the dishes overhearing my eight year old tell his friends, “no my Mum doesn’t do anything” (Ouch, yeah – that one hurt) No he doesn’t see his Mum ‘do’ anything cause its all done while he’s at school or (more often than not) in bed. My writing is not talked about; the unwritten rule is that it must not interfere with the schedules of the three other males that I live with (four if you count the dog!) It is my dream, and mine alone. If I go back to work it’ll provide sanity, but do little more than cover my childcare and eat into my writing time. So here’s the thing; I’ve gone too far now to give up. I’ve put in too many hours, days, weeks and yes – years! Lots and lots of years – seven and counting – to throw in the towel now.

So, I might be home doing the dishes, cooking, cleaning, and feeling like a feminist with a small ‘f’ but I’m also dreaming a dream. And WHEN I get published I will dedicate it to my boys. I will point at it in Waterstones and they will know how long it took and that Mummy ‘did something’. They will understand that nothing in life is achieved without quiet, steely, unwavering determination, whether you are male or female.  So for now, and only now, I am practicing a quiet kind of feminism. The kind that looks like nothing, but the kind that is teaching my boys to persevere no matter what, and to never, ever give up on your dreams. I hope Hilary, and all the other women out there punching holes in the glass ceiling, would approve.