Parenting, profundities and humour

Let Somebody Go… — May 18, 2022

Let Somebody Go…

This Friday Eldest is leaving school.

I am just leaving that there.

For me that sentence takes a while to settle. Like a heavy stone on my chest.

I seem to have been preparing for the big day for a long time. Sourcing school shorts big enough for him to wear on the last day as if he were still in the junior school (it’s an upper 6th Leavers Day tradition). Helping him apply to university. Providing food and support during the endless rounds of revision. Attending and supporting the ‘lasts’ of everything. Last Christmas concert, last Spring Concert, last rugby match, last hockey match, last cello lesson, last Monday…..

Throughout this process I would like to say that my overriding feeling is pride at the amazing young man he has become, which of course I am. Because he is.

But what I feel the most is unbearably sad.

“I called the mathematicians and asked them to explain. They said love is only equal to the pain”.

Coldplay ‘Let Somebody Go’

Witness — February 11, 2022


You small patch of uninspiring mud
And tangled shrubs and broken bricks and sporadic grass
Graveyard of deflated, lost spheres
from games long over
Revealed in winter’s barrenness
What witness you have borne

Zip wiring teddies hung by their ears,
Trebuchets of poles where once beans scrambled
Paint mixed from gravel, water daubed fences
Chalk emblazoned flag stones
And shelters of sheets.

Naked abandon in sprinkled water freezing
Tepid pools deserted after one day of sliding
(For bugs and grass and rain)
Sun hats (with flaps), sun suits (with reluctance)
Surprise cricket matches (with Grandmas)
Police cars, and red cars, and skateboards and diggers.

Hot wheels on hot days out of the window
Ping pong and croquet (wood worm still allowing)
Bouncing and flipping and screaming and laughing
Tap tap of sticks and off cuts of carpet
Records broken in ruined socks.

Snowflakes on sleeves in wonder and confusion
Food sprinkled for four hoofed sled pullers
Snowman delivered by hand to the door
Water in guns and frozen in balls
And countless battles amongst boulder strewn fields

Fights with the shiny hard orbs of autumn
Harvesting melons and raspberries and cucumbers
(And strawberries, yellow and black soldiers permitting)
Birds logged and counted and nest boxes mounted
Teaching and watering and digging and planting

Muddy circles on free flapping laundry
Lost spectacles found in peg bags
Stumps and posts and nets and bare patches
Paint on tables and dollies in baths
And photos and photos and photos and photos

You small patch of inspiring mud
And exciting shrubs and useful bricks and field of dreams
Collector of lost but now returned spheres
For games still to come
Rediscovered in winter’s barrenness
What witness you have borne

School run — September 10, 2021

School run

On Monday all three of mine went back to school for the first day of a new year.

I forced them to have the obligatory ‘first day back’ photo which has happened every first day back since 2008 when Eldest started in reception.

Actually I lie there was one year when I forgot. That came up on my FB memories recently. I did a second day back shot instead.

This year’s shot had the same poignancy as that first ever photo in Sept 2008. And that is because it is the last time all three of them will go back to school for the start of a new year.

Somehow those 13 years since that little boy set out into the academic world in his grey shorts and with his shy smile have trickled away.

When you have a baby and the days seem interminable, one long round of feeds and nappies and crying, older and wiser parents tell you to cherish the moments as the years will fly by.

Of course no new parent takes this advice on board. We all rush for the next steps. The weaning, the crawling the standing, those precious words, using toilets. The first question is always ‘Is he crawling yet?’ or ‘How much weight did she put on last week?’. Wishing away the time, striving for the next milestone. Worrying about any perceived delay. As if it matters. Which it doesn’t.

To be honest I did find the early months of Eldest’s life long and tedious. The days were cold and the nights long and dark. I was bored and tired. I didn’t enjoy his babyhood. He was hard work as a baby (and I only knew this once I had his siblings) or maybe I made hard work of it. Probably the latter.

But once Middlest and then Youngest came along life sped up. I enjoyed their toddler hoods and their preschool years. We were a tight knit foursome and had a great social life.

But then the treadmill of school kicked in. The years suddenly became punctuated by half terms and reports and parents evenings and the holidays rushed towards me at hurtling speed.

And then the move to secondary school sees time hit the turbo button. The tests and assessments. The week full of clubs and sport and music lessons and driving. The endless driving. The holidays offered some respite but were still full of activity.

Even a pandemic didn’t seem to slow it down much. Those terms with them learning at home, which I secretly enjoyed, still whipped by. Even when only allowed out once a day.

And then you suddenly find that you are at the end. You paste on a happy face whilst discussing unis and being treated almost as an irrelevance by your teens, except for that endless driving (which of course you are doing all wrong) and food and cash.

I dropped mine off this morning as I have done every day for years. I remembered the countless days of discussing homework and teachers and mates in the car. Singing along to disney hits. Cursing the traffic. And it hit me that those countless days weren’t countless at all. They were finite and precious.

And although I have made the most of them I know that many have been done unconsciously, almost carelessly. With rush and stress and hurry.

And I think it will be those moments I miss the most. The little gems of conversation and humour. And also the rows and annoyance that dragging 3 kids to school entails.

Even though I will still have one year left with Middlest and another couple after that with Youngest, once Eldest leaves that dynamic will change.

And so almost too late one realises that all those older and wiser parents were right.

Time really flies.

Eldest… — January 28, 2018


So there is likely to follow an unashamedly schmaltzy and over the top piece about my son. I am allowed. Just this once.

Soon my first born son turns 14. In fact next Tuesday.

So what can I say about Eldest?

That he is becoming a lovely young man. Standing nearly six feet tall. Strong and handsome. And that this is hard to believe. It seems like yesterday that he was a babe in my arms. A 14 month old learning to walk with a sock in his mouth. A toddler with a sturdy, determined gait caring for his new brother. A pre schooler quiet and shy. A small boy learning to ride a bike and play football, playing his first notes on the piano, making friends, learning to read and write. A ten year old struck down by appendicitis. A young man changing schools and bravely starting over.


That he is empathic and friendly, unhappy when anyone is left out, able to get along with different ‘sets’ of friends.

That despite the onslaught of hormones and puberty he has on the whole remained respectful and kind and fun to spend time with.

That he is still a mummy’s boy. Happy to have a kiss goodbye (surreptitiously) in the school car park. Snuggle on the sofa and accept bedtime hugs.


That he likes Vera. And Batman. And Arrow. And will bore to death anyone who happens to be in ear shot about Marvel films.

That he is a fiercely loyal sibling. Despite the usual fracas and bickering underneath he ‘gets’ his brother and sister. He coaches his sister in football. Wrestles with his brother. Bosses them around far too much. Loves them.

That he loves history. Has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the World Wars. Likes museums and art galleries.

That he is a dedicated and talented musician. Playing the cello with feeling and passion. Practising every day to meet his own very high standards. Playing in groups and performing in shows despite crippling nerves.

That he is his own worst critic. Nothing is ever ‘good enough’.

That he has always been the inventor of games and the ringleader in playtime. From home made trebuchets, to duvet surfing, to extreme hot wheels.


That he reminds me of me.

That he likes to cook. Although time does not allow this as much as it should. That we still laugh about the carrot and orange soup and the lemon ‘flop’ meringue pie.


That he has an amazing work ethic. In every area of life. Always tries his best. Listens and learns.

That he is an artist. With creative ideas and talent to match. Taking himself upstairs to draw and producing art to be proud of.

That he takes perceived criticism much too much to heart and forgets all the praise and accolades and prizes.

That he is a team player. Loving his rugby and hockey. Working hard to get onto and stay in the team. Not a monopoliser of the limelight. But quietly doing his bit. A vital team member.

That he always notices. My new hair cut. New clothes. That he will call and chat to his grandma with love and affection. That he makes you feel appreciated. That he buys thoughtful gifts (except for that sabre toothed tiger).

That, although serious and on occasion earnest, he can be silly and loud and exuberant. Not as much as I would like. That when he smiles the sun comes out.

That he has always been an eating machine. And that recently he has found the turbo button.

That he loves the outdoors. Camping and cycling and Scouting and mud. Can map read (ish), start fires, hike, orienteer, climb. That he is adventurous; facing his fears after a thorough risk assessment of course.

That he worries too much. About making the grade. Being good enough. Hitting some ‘ideal’ of what achievement is about. Driving himself to extremes.

When really he has always been better than good enough. He has always been amazing. And always will be.

Love you son. Just as you are.


Happy Birthday!



A Thoughtful One(sie)… — March 21, 2017

A Thoughtful One(sie)…


Currently I am wearing my most unflattering garment. I do not say this lightly.

Like every other lady I have a selection of unflattering garments. Period pants. A pair of pyjamas that were bought in a large supermarket chain by my husband when I was stuck without warning in hospital with pneumonia. Swimsuits with the bottoms nearly worn through from over enthusiastic aquapark participation. Sexy lingerie that  once fitted and now, doesn’t. But which I have kept in hopeful anticipation of returning at some point to my previous svelte like self. My ABBA fancy dress all in one electric blue cat suit. Fleeces without form in dubious colours. Baggy thermals for camping and pitch side viewing. And my very favourite trackie bottoms which belonged to a previous partner and which he reluctantly allowed me to take when we split (along with my bedside alarm clock, I left him a bright blue lounge and a yellow sofa still on tick) which now have paint on the bum from a decorating job early on in my marriage.

But all these garments look Dior-like next to this garment. I am referring to my onesie. My Piglet onesie.

I am not a fan of onesies. Don’t get me wrong I think my children look adorable in theirs. We replace them every Christmas. Currently Eldest is bedecked as Chewie from Star Wars, Middlest is the cutest dinosaur I have ever seen and Youngest is a tiger which anyone who knows her will know is better than apt.

So onesies on kids I like. But I am not a fan of onesies on adults. I guess in late tennagerhood or one’s early twenties the wearing of a onesie might be seen as post ironic or some other such twaddle. I vaguely get the idea of cavorting as a dalamation  at Glastonbury, or my local railway station as I saw a few years ago, when one is 22. But only just.

There is certainly an age when onesies are no longer appropriate. Whether one is on a campsite or not. I have lost track of the amount of times I have stood next to a white rabbit (really on a camp site? what were you thinking?) whilst cleaning my teeth in a communal campsite washroom. And realising the person was my age or older. And then seeing them returning to a caravan thus divesting them of the only possible excuse for adult onesie wearing- the cold.

So you may ask why I am sporting my AA Milne inspired outfit. Although to be pedantic about it the onesie has been Disneyfied and as such is not a true A A Milne Piglet which I know annoys some purists. I personally don’t mind a Disney piglet, I once shared a buffet with him in Florida and he was more than adorable.

Sorry I digress. That was it, why am I wearing this heinous pieces of clothing? That doesn’t fit. That hangs below my crotch area in an intensely unflattering way. That is so hot to wear I break out in a sweat merely looking at it. That is not in any way ‘breathable’ being woven entirely of man made fibres. That has poppers, surely only suitable for babygrows and throw back bodies that have returned inexplicably from the eighties to haunt a new round of young women. That causes all sorts of toileting issues. That is essentially hideous.

I wear it because last Christmas my children clubbed together financially and organised with my mother in law the ordering and wrapping of said onesie as my Christmas present. They got Piglet because they know I love him as a character. They got a onesie so we could all wear them as a family.

It was perhaps the most thoughtful thing they had done to date.

And it could have been so much worse.

As it was for my husband who is forever consigned to being a Minion with a dungaree pocket in a deeply unhelpful place.


Brother Mine, Sister Mine… — July 31, 2016

Brother Mine, Sister Mine…


I have three kids. Those of you who know me know this. Those that have bothered to read my ‘About’ pages will also know. As will regular readers. So for those of you who are new (where have you been?) I have three children. Two boys and a girl.

I had them close together. Deliberately. For a few reasons. One, I started late and needed to get on with it; two, I wanted them to get on; and three, I was very close in age to my own oldest brother and it worked well for us. There are three and a bit years between Eldest and Youngest. Middlest is, well, in the middle of that somewhere…

Overall it has been a good decision. My children are a ‘unit’. Wherever we go they are together. Ready made playmates. They are tight. It has always been the way and even now they are 12, 10 and 9 it still holds true, although Eldest is pulling away a little and tends to stay with us more whilst the other two maraude off.

But then his younger siblings also entice him into things he might otherwise feel too cool for. For instance recently at a local fair they persuaded him on a bouncy castle slide that his 12 year old self may have considered beneath his advanced years. Of course he had a ball.

They have a lot in common. A love of all sorts of sport. Playing and watching. Competitiveness. Music. The same school. Being outdoorsy. A liking  for terrible Disney Channel shows. Shared history. In jokes. A love of inventing madcap games (recently they spent four hours in the paddling pool playing water polo, in six inches of water)…

Even now, when friends are very important at school, they still spend all their weekends and holidays together. They don’t seek out friends particularly. Although they could knock on doors. They just ‘are’. Together.

Don’t get me wrong we don’t live in utopia. They fight, squabble, hurt each other deliberately and by accident. An awful lot. But fundamentally they do get on.

I really want this to continue. Although I know it will get harder as adolescence creeps in.

For instance tonight after a day spent in the pool on holiday and an hour of family football (which nearly killed me, I am sure I will find some energy to write about that at some point) Youngest’s hair was a chloriney, sweaty, tangled mess of knotted bum length strands.

She and Middlest got in a warm bath together. I hung around ready to assist with the hair washing. I wasn’t required. I merely spectated surreptitiously from behind the door as Middlest lovingly gave his sister a hair wash. Carefully applying and rinsing off shampoo and then conditioner. Advised by Youngest on how much and where to apply it. Tipping her head around in the shower to get all the suds out. Asking if the temperature was OK. I heard him remark that it was just like they ‘used to do after football’. Before we moved house and she got her own shower room. He had missed it. So had she.

I guess at some point a brother and sister will stop this sort of behaviour. For modesty.    Naturally. This might be the last year on holidays that they do such a thing. It nearly made me weep to think of it.

I am sure something else will take its place instead. I hope it does.

For what great lessons they learn from each other. How to treat the opposite sex. How to be a decent member of their own gender. How to fall out and make up. How far to push. How to negotiate. How to fail. How to say sorry. And how to be unconditionally loved.




Hard Drugs… — February 1, 2016

Hard Drugs…

Well that got your attention.

This entry will probably disappoint those searching for my seedy past. Which doesn’t really exist.

No this is a post about Eldest. And before you call Social Services he doesn’t use mind altering substances either. Well unless you count sugar. And Toxic Waste. Look it up if you don’t understand that.

This weekend Eldest turned twelve. It is not much of a milestone. Well only in as much as any year is a milestone in a child’s life. And that of its parents.

And then today I was queuing up in Boots for yet another large bottle of Calpol. 6+ Calpol. And the pharmacist asked me how old the child was who was going to use it. In case I didn’t understand the name 6+ Calpol… I replied that he was twelve. And he retorted that in that case I could give him actual pills of paracetomol. And I realised 12 is actually a milestone year. He no long needs to take his pain relief in liquid form via a large, squeezy syringe.

I nearly burst into tears. Right there in Boots. Rather embarrassingly. I still bought that Calpol. As Middlest and Youngest are, well, younger. But still, a bit of me died.

Parenting is like this. There are little things that you do routinely for what seems like years. And then one day you realise that you are no longer doing them. At least for one child if not all of them.  And further, you don’t really remember the last time you did do it. It just stopped at some point. And even though you realise this it keeps happening with the same child and with subsequent ones too. It cannot be anticipated. These things just stop. On a random Tuesday. It is only in hindsight that you notice.

Some of the things are a relief. Like bum wiping. And nose wiping.

Some are heart breaking. Hand holding. Bedtime story reading. Getting goodbye kisses at the school gate.

And some are surprising. Like no longer providing pain relief in liquid form.

Ah Eldest. Where did the years go? It is a cliché. But it is true. Time flies. And before you can blink that sweet baby is as tall as you and wears shoes two sizes bigger.

He will always be my baby though. My sweet, sweet baby. X


Middlest — August 24, 2015



Today Middlest is ten…

Since he came into the world he has been a bit of an odd ball. In a good way.

I had a protracted experience giving birth to Eldest. So when the first twinges of Middlest’s labour began I set myself up for a long haul. I was having Middlest at home and was looking forward to trying to watch a bit of TV to take my mind off the pain in the early stages. And then using ambient lighting and moody music in the bits where any distraction would have been irritating. Before literally girding my loins for the inevitable hour or two of pushing.

It was quite a shock, then, when a mere four hours later he popped into the world after a paltry three pushes. Like a cork out of a bottle. He had to be caught to prevent him from rolling under the sofa. There had been no time to fix music or lighting. In fact there had hardly been time to call the midwife, whisk Eldest from the scene or remove my PJ bottoms.

In every way he was different to Eldest. He was completely bald. With jug ears. He was small. He had chicken legs and no sign of those lovely dimply thighs possessed by a new born Eldest. But he had the longest eyelashes I have ever seen and still does.

He fed quickly and without fuss. He slept for hours on end. Contentedly. With his hands behind his head like a sun bather.

He giggled early. Was happy sitting in his bouncy chair watching the world (and his big brother) go by.

And ever since he could speak he has always had a way with words. In fact even before he could speak English he babbled away ten to the dozen in his own language, very earnestly and with great inflection. Totally incomprehensibly. But adorably. Still nearly weekly he amazes me with some turn of phrase or inference which makes me stop in my tracks.

He has had his fair share of medical issues. Nothing major but enough to make me feel that he is the ‘runt’ of our ‘litter’. He has born them all with good grace and a fair degree of humour. In fact he is very funny. He sees humour in situations that could make others downhearted. He is brave and resilient. Taking new situations in his stride.

He is very tactile. He has to touch everything. All the time. His hands still go in his dinner on a daily basis. Which means his food is often down his front…He loves to lie face down on a hot beach and move his hands through the warm sand. Or lie on fluffy rugs or bath mats. He regularly drags his collection of ‘touchy-feely’ cushions down from his bedroom to lie on in front of the TV. He rubs special stones in his pockets, fiddles constantly.

He is a good sibling and friend.  He has the ability to lose. And to be self deprecating. And so he is popular amongst those not able to do so. And yet he has a strong sense of himself and will not be pushed around.

Despite being an August birthday he does well at school. Because he loves to learn. And because if he wants to do something he will do it. With absolute determination. After being a life long thumb sucker he decided to stop when he was about 4 after the dentist told him it was a bad idea. And he just made himself stop. Overnight.

He has a long held ambition to be a primary school teacher. And he would be very good. He has endless patience especially with his young cousins and loves to teach. He has spent hours today walking his siblings (and parents) through his three step process for learning to fly his new remote controlled helicopter.

And one of his most endearing characteristics is that he does not want to grow up too fast. He is happy to still be a little boy. He is comfortable remaining childish whilst some of his school mates, who in some cases are nearly 11, push forwards. He still likes swings, his cuddlies, hugs, bedtime stories. Yes he is reading teenager style fiction and watching Marvel films but he is also happy playing make believe with his sister, hiding in dens and dressing up, using their pet names.

Long may that continue. He is apprehensive about attaining double figures. I clearly didn’t share with him my own anxieties. That it feels like a huge milestone to me too.

But it is just a number. I am sure he will remain his adorable, quirky self. Just a day older.

Happy birthday darling Middlest. Love ya loads.

Always messy with food...Easter Hols 2008 102Holiday Norfolk Sept 07 071



Old Friends — August 18, 2015

Old Friends


So today I spent an afternoon in the company of good friends.

We had struggled to find a date during the long school holidays when we were all around and had landed on this afternoon. Even with this date one of our usual four was unable to make it and yet another was leaving on holiday the next morning and was mid ‘pack’.

These are friends I met when pregnant with Eldest. We first made each other’s acquaintance whilst sitting on bean bags and floor cushions (surely not the most amenable seating for heavily pregnant women) at the house of our ante-natal teacher being taught about the mechanics of childbirth (not sure I will ever get over that pelvis and doll combo) and the pros and cons of drugs during labour.

I am not sure we really bonded permanently then but the beginnings were stirring. There were 7 couples expecting their first child. In the normal course of events I am sure I would never have met any of these women; our circles, professions and locations being quite disparate.

Eldest decided to make an early appearance and I missed the last session- I have since found out that this caused ‘quite a stir’ amongst the remaining course members.

Luckily for me the charity who provided the course also ran post baby support ‘get togethers’. At the first one it was me, eldest and one very heavily pregnant member who was overdue. The others were in the early throws of new borns and couldn’t make it.

The next session two weeks later saw nearly a full turn out. One lady was beautifully presented and waxed lyrical about the wonders of parenthood. I went home and cried for 2 hours.

A fortnight rolled by and super mum didn’t make it. Probably getting her nails done. It took about 5 minutes before someone admitted that they were struggling. Relief washed over me like a warm shower. And the five of us bonded and never looked back. We met regularly even after our charity provided support stopped. One lady moved away but the rest of us met nearly weekly until about two years ago when post school extra curricular activities, work and other mundanities precluded such regular meetings.

Our eldest children are now 11 and a half. And we try to meet every school holiday with varying degrees of success. Sometimes half a year may go by.

It never matters. Once we get together again it is as if time has not passed. It is like we only met the previous day. Our kids (they now number 10 between four of us) get on like a house on fire despite not sharing schools or Cub packs or sport teams. We make tea in each others kitchens. No one bristles if a child is disciplined by the ‘wrong’ mother. We are all going through the same stuff with the kids at the same time. We always feel better about ourselves and we feel like better parents, or at least more accepting of ourselves as parents, after a long chat. We bare our souls.

And so I count these women as some of the most important in my life. There are others equally important to me, including men too. It is nothing to do with the length of acquaintance. The common link is a shared history from some part of life, an ease, similar experiences, an ability to fall back into conversation as if you have never been apart, and a recognition that the pace of life means not meeting up as much as you would like, but knowing that that doesn’t mean the relationship is any less important or precious.

These are the best sorts of friendship. I love all my friends from whatever walk of life and count myself lucky to have them.

I know a lot of those friends read this blog- so there you go- feel told. Ok?

Footnote…that photo above…that is not a picture of the friends I met up with today. All of us have had at least two children, some three. We don’t jump. Without clenching…

Dancing Shoes — August 15, 2015

Dancing Shoes

Here is a thing I love to do. Dance.

Today I was at a family wedding. It was small and intimate and tremendous fun.

Some people might think a disco for thirty a little strange. I don’t.

I had the best time in a long time and so did everyone else.

The couple in question are gorgeous, very much in love and totally genuine. The whole day was relaxed and heartfelt.

And then to cap it all off we had a fabulous disco. Everyone got their requests played. My husband, kids and I danced more or less solidly for three hours, burning off a lot of our wedding supper and reliving a lot of great times through music.

It reminded me of one of the reasons I married my other half- that he will dance with me even if we are the only two on the dance floor.

The DJ called me a lovely lady.

Grandma and grandad danced.

My only gripe? It makes me feel tremendously old when Tainted Love doesn’t fill the floor. It would with a group of my peers. I am probably ten years too old. But hey hubby and I danced to it. Alone.

And yes my feet ache but do you know what? Today has reaffirmed my belief in love, life and dance.

Congratulations to the happy couple! Wishing you a long and wonderful life together.

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