Tag Archives: humour

No more ‘at leasts’

No more ‘at leasts’

Dear world, I have a frustration that I need to air.

As a new parent, and I speak particularly as a new mother but this also happens to dads, you get a lot of ‘at leasts’. There are a lot of people, (and sadly, they’re often other parents), who want to play top trumps with your experience as parents. If you had a sleepless night, theirs was more sleepless (yes, this is tautology, but you get my drift). If your baby has been an absolute nightmare all day, theirs was the Kim Jong-Un of the baby universe with fists of fury and the voice of a wailing cat.

Why are we doing this to each other? Pregnancy, parenthood and everything that comes along with this life changing experience, is hard enough as it is. Do we really need to make it a bizarre competition that no-one can win and stress ourselves out even more? Here are a few ‘at leasts’ I’ve personally experienced:

On my c-section: “At least your vagina is still intact”…Well yes Betty it is but they sliced through six layers of muscle and I couldn’t get myself off the sofa for about 3 weeks so there is that.

On my struggle to breastfeed (which ultimately brought me one step away from clinical madness): “At least you had some milk. Mine never came in and I still kept trying until my child was basically wasting away”.

On having a child who sleeps through: “At least you get to sleep. I can’t imagine what that’s like. My child is 30 (OK I may be exaggerating) and they still wake me up 5 times a night.”

On my daughter getting her top teeth before her bottom ones (I kid you not, people have opinions on this): *Adopts weird, patronising, pseudo-sympathetic face* “At least she’s got some teeth”

I could go on but my point is not simply to rant, it’s to make a plea.

Parents, we’re all in this together. Instead of one-upmanship, how about we exhibit some compassion and solidarity? Might I suggest the following amendments to the above situations:

On birth experiences: “You’re a legend. There’s no easy way to give birth and your body just did an incredible thing. Here’s a hug and a giant bar for chocolate for your efforts.”

On feeding: “Even when it works well, breastfeeding is hard work. As long as children are fed that’s all that matters. You do what’s right for your family.”

On sleeping: “It’s all relative. You’re doing a great job, this is a phase. It will get better.”

On teething: “I can’t imagine all of my teeth starting to puncture through my sore, swollen gums all at once. The poor little mite. How has he/she been feeling through it all?”

And the most important one of all: “You’re doing a great job. How can I help?”


Muslins, guilt and mocha-lattes

Muslins, guilt and mocha-lattes

So, here’s the thing about parental leave…while absolutely necessary while you navigate the paths of parenthood, it’s also a huge adjustment. For those of us used to working full time, suddenly framing your entire day around a small human and desperately trying to secure at least a little adult interaction for yourself every day is both tiring and expensive. I should have shares in Costa, and they should rename the decaf, skinny mocha-latte; ‘the Hilary’.

And as you suggest coffee dates to your family and friends, book lunches and walks and shopping trips, it will creep in. The guilt.

You’re a terrible parent for filling your days with going out. You should be sitting on the floor with your 10 week old daughter, developing her language and development by lying under her jungle gym and making vowel sounds while encouraging tummy time, showing her a mirror and shoving various rattles and small toys in her hands to make her grip them.

And this guilt doesn’t stop at the way you spend your day.

You’ll beat yourself up for walking away from your sleeping little darling for even a moment. Even across an open plan room, while they’re safely ensconced in a travel cot, with a video and audio monitor pointed CCTV-style at their face.

You’ll look down at your little angel and realise that their face, neck, adorable double chins and often, hair, is covered in baby vomit and wonder how long it’s been there. The nearest white muslin is now a yellowy colour because (despite owning over a million of the cotton squares), you’ve been carrying this one around with you for a week. Regardless, you use the yellow, slightly crispy linen to wipe off the latest round of vomit.

You’ll have your first glass of wine or night with friends since pregnancy and immediately worry about ‘how it looks’. Before you can take a sip your poor, tired brain has transformed your innocent (and well-deserved) glass of Sauvignon Blanc into 20 shots and an arrest for drunk and disorderly behaviour.

You’ll catch your baby staring at the television as you take a moment to drink your (lukewarm) tea and panic that you’ve already, in 10 short weeks, become one of ‘those’ parents who leave their children with a TV as babysitter.

You’ll breastfeed, formula feed, combination feed; and no matter what you choose you’ll convince yourself it isn’t right. That you’re doing it wrong. That your baby won’t thrive as a result.

Here is a checklist of things you actually need to worry about:

  1. Is your baby content (most of the time – occasional meltdowns or decisions not to sleep do not count)?
  2. Is your baby healthy and gaining a steady amount of weight?
  3. Are you content (most of the time – a raging thirst for a glass of prosecco at 11am on a particularly tiring Tuesday is all part and parcel of motherhood)?
  4. Are you feeling supported (by your partner, your friends, your parents, your siblings – whoever your tribe is, are they taking good care of you)?

If the answer to these four simple questions is yes, you’re doing a great job. Put down the hair shirt and guilt-ridden beating stick and pour that glass of wine. You’ve earned it.


Things my dad has taught me

Things my dad has taught me

So I’ve talked in the past about what we’ve learned along the way since my dad’s accident. But recently I’ve realised how much my dad himself has taught (and continues to teach) me. I thought I’d share a few of them, because after a bad meeting, or a traffic jam, or a family argument; it can feel like the end of the world but my dad has changed the way I look at life.

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff

The amount of times I’ve visited my dad after a busy and stressful day, only to walk out an hour later calm and smiling and wondering what my problem was. The things that were driving me to distraction suddenly didn’t seem important when faced with his daily struggles to even remember when to eat, or to turn the lights on when it gets dark.

  1. Keep laughing

From the moment he got his speech back, my dad has continued to be silly. I’ve said before that he’s always been silly – and one of my biggest fears was that he’d lose this sense of fun. Thankfully it’s remained, and has been the source of a series of Facebook posts like the following:


  1. Be compassionate

My dad has every reason to be a grumpy, selfish, inconsiderate old bugger. But he’s the opposite. He notices when I’m tired. Asks what’s up if I’m quiet. Tells me to send love/congratulations/best wishes (insert greeting here) to various family members when I tell him their news. He asks how my mum is, my sister, my brother, his friends and listens when I give him updates about them. He reminds me to look outside my bubble. No matter how hard things are, it’s not OK to forget about other people.

  1. Be honest

Due to his condition, my dad doesn’t have as many inhibitions anymore. That means that sometimes, what’s in his head comes out of his mouth. Often, he realises as soon as it’s been vocalised that it was inappropriate or rude, but not before. Now, I know that it’s socially polite to frame your criticism constructively, to smile and hold the door for someone even if they do shove past you without a backwards glance; or to sit out a boring conversation in order to avoid offence. I’m not suggesting we all start spewing out exactly what’s on our minds all the time – it would be chaos and we’d cause hurt.

However, wouldn’t it be great if we could just take a leaf out of my dad’s book – just to now and then stand up when someone is only talking about themselves and walk off without a word?! To tell someone they’re being loud and it’s bothering you.

  1. Forgive

OK, so maybe in his case it’s more often than not that he doesn’t remember, rather than that he forgives. But my dad doesn’t hold grudges. And when I do have to tell him off, or I snap because frankly, I’m human and sometimes my patience wears thin; he forgives me instantly. He’s the one who apologises – he gives me a hug – reaches over to touch my arm to get my attention and says he loves me. Nothing matters enough to overshadow our precious time together. I wish I could be more like him and remember what really matters in our brief time on this planet with the people we love.


An open letter to my brain


Dear brain,

First up, thank you – sterling job. I may not be a rocket scientist but I got pretty good grades at school, a 2:1 degree and a postgrad diploma. And in between all that you got me through application forms and interviews to land myself a nice career, doing stuff I’m good at. Cheers grey matter!

Secondly, the general business of walking and talking. While I will never live out my dream of being Dartford’s first Olympic figure skater, I get by day-to-day. I can drive, remember 90s song lyrics at will and keep track of birthdays, anniversaries and bank holidays. So that’s helpful.

But despite my massive respect for the industrial operation you’ve got going on, I have a few queries.

1) Why do I have the coordination and balance of a baby giraffe after one too many giraffe G&Ts?

2) 90s music aside, why do I fail completely in remembering any other era of lyrics (Bon Jovi aside)? Example: Labyrinth’s ‘Earthquake’ which I for months believed included the lyrics “Throw ones on it” rather than the actual “Drop bombs on it”. There are a couple of things wrong with this, not least because apparently throwing money at strippers is my go-to conclusion during an earthquake…weird.

3) Why do I have the most bizarre thoughts at random times? This week, for example, I turned round to colleagues (mouth full of sweet ‘n’ salty popcorn) and asked, “Who first looked at corn kernels and thought, ‘If I heat this up it’ll look like tiny pieces of sponge but then I reckon if I throw salt or sugar on it, it’ll make a great snack.'” Cue tumbleweed silence and some awkward “Is she OK?” Looks from the team. Please ensure I keep these weirdouts to myself in future.

4) How comes I’m (if I do say so myself) quite talented on paper or screen with the words, but when it comes to an important meeting I have the eloquence of a 15 year old teenager. By which I mean that I’ll get my point across, I’ll stand my ground on important decisions, but there will be a lot of “Errrrms” and “Liiiiikes” thrown in for good measure. I’ve followed everyone’s advice – take a beat before speaking, don’t rush, fewer words make more impact, don’t let your emotions control your response; and over the years I’ve improved…a bit. While my 15 year old analogy may be a little extreme (I’m exaggerating my awkwardness); in my head, I am mumbling incoherently. Perhaps I should start wearing a tablet round my neck to share my thoughts in writing instead?

5) Could you help me think of a number 5? I prefer a good round list of 5…no? Never mind then.

So anyway, thanks for the support. Please keep it up for many, many years. And in the mean time if you manage to improve any of the above, I’ll be eternally grateful. I’ll eat lots of tuna, avoid (quite so much) alcohol and drink loads of water.

I imagine you’re very busy trying to manage writing a blog while simultaneously watching ‘The Originals’ and thinking about what to wear today. I’ll leave you to go about your business.

Yours gratefully,
Hilary (aka your home)