You can Cope. You Have to.

So I’m walking back to the car after a very dramatic school run this morning; (I won’t go into details but trust me there were tears and bumps and all sorts) with a very close friend of mine who I turned to and said “there’s too much shit going on, I can’t cope!” “Yes you can! You have to!!” Her reply was brutal and exactly what I needed to hear! Because she’s 100% right, I’m a mum to 4 little people and they are counting on me. I chose them they didn’t choose me and right now I’m in the driving seat of their lives. My actions have an enormous impact on their lives now and in the future. Now I know that that in itself sounds pretty overwhelming but I really feel like we should see our role as a gift rather than let it overwhelm us. Becoming a mother whatever your journey is tough; you change immeasurably from the woman you were and there’s a reason for that. It makes you tough. I bet if you stop and look back at the years you have spent as a mother whether it’s 1 or 20 you have coped and overcome things you wouldn’t have believed possible. You are so much stronger and more capable than you realise.

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The boy’s old headmaster used to talk about resilience in their assemblies all the time; it became a bit of joke actually that he never spoke about anything else. But you know what he was spot on. Resilience is so bloody important and if our children can learn it I honestly think it will become one of their most treasured tools. Because life is hard. It beats you down and makes you feel like shit sometimes. And as much as we would like to make the world a happy beautiful place all the time for our children that simply isn’t possible. If we truly want our children to go out and experience the wonders of this world we have to accept that they are going to come up against challenges, they are going to encounter mean people and they are going to get knocked down sometimes. But if we can instil in them that they are strong and they can get back up they will live a far happier life. And as John Lennon said that’s the whole point right? To be happy.

So when it feels like life is screwing you over take a deep breath, remind yourself that you are strong and you can cope. Curling up into a ball and falling apart just isn’t an option. This is your life and you deserve to be happy, and your children deserve to have a happy mum. Stick on a song that makes you feel good (anyone else got ‘This is me’ on repeat??) and remind yourself that you are a mother; in other words you are a badass queen who brought life into this world and you can handle any crap that gets thrown at you!!

Charlie xx

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Life Update: Learning to embrace the change and discovering Moonology.

I’d like to think I have been quite honest that the last 10 months since I became a mum of 4 have been pretty up and down. There have been times when I’ve felt like I’m drowning under the enormity of raising 4 beautiful little souls. Times when I’ve felt as if life just won’t let me catch my breath, I can’t catch up, I can’t get on top of things, I’m trapped in a permanent state of chasing my tail. Then back in January our house which had been on the market for quite a few months sold, it caught me totally off guard and my initial reaction was: oh no I can’t deal with this right now, it’s not the right time!! But after taking a couple of weeks to get my head around it and us finding another house which ticks sooo many boxes for our whole family I realised it’s actually the perfect time. I honestly believe the universe is screaming at me “embrace the change”. It’s strange but I think when we are open to it the universe has a way of putting us right where we’re meant to be. Following on from all the house stuff we got the amazing news that our eldest had got a place at his first choice secondary school. We didn’t think he’d get in as we don’t live in catchment but now he gets to go with all his friends, and the school is incredibly close to the new house so he will be able to walk. There goes the universe slotting things into place again.


So in the next few months we will pack up our home; the first house we ever owned, we moved in with a toddler coming up for 3 and a 6 month old baby. 8 years later and we are leaving with a soon to be 11 year old, an 8 year old, a 2 and half year old and a will be 1 year old. This house has seen me go from a 25 year old mum of 2 boys buying a house with her ‘boyfriend’ to a 33 year old married mum of 4, with a first class degree. I have grown up, I have achieved so many things in this house, I have made so many beautiful memories in this home. But I’ve realised I’m ready to move forward, I’m ready to move onto our next house and make it our home. Life is a journey, and you can’t be afraid to walk along the road, to move forward, to live it. Fear holds us back, it stops us from taking opportunities, from enjoying the moment, from embracing new experiences. I so often find myself reminiscing about the past, longing for the days when the boys were little again, worrying that time is passing too quickly. The truth is the tides will come in and go out and there’s no stopping that.

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So I’m making a conscious decision to stop where I am and experience my life as it is right now, to look around me and to embrace the experience of what I have, of who I’m with and of where I am. I have recently read an amazing book which has really made me examine myself, my hopes and dreams, and reminded me I am in control of my own life. The book is called ‘Moonology’ and it’s by Yasmin Boland. It teaches you how to live your life in sync with the moon and her phases and how by doing so can enable you to take your life where you want it to go and achieve your dreams. I think sometimes there are certain topics which just connect with you; I personally have always been fascinated with the Moon and how she impacts on our lives. This won’t be for everyone I totally get that but if you have an interest in the moon or astrology I would recommend ‘Moonology’ I have found it incredibly empowering. Interestingly one of the things is tells you is that if a full moon falls on your birthday the year ahead will be one of transition. The next full moon falls on my birthday; I can already see a year full of transition and changes in many aspects of my life and I’m getting ready to embrace them.

Charlie xx

A letter to my Husband: What I really mean when I say my day was ‘Fine’.

A Letter to my Husband.

I have been so looking forward to you getting home from work, I have been desperately watching the clock and clinging to the fact that I am only a few hours away from another pair of hands to grab an offspring and change it, or wipe it or reason with it. Only a few hours away from a voice that doesn’t produce a constant rendition of a Moana song or want to have an in-depth discussion about ‘Clash of Clans’ or ‘Fortnight’. And the first thing that lovely, sanity saving voice says to me is “how was your day?” And I find myself saying “fine” but what I actually want to say is that from the moment since our 4 children sweetly waved you off to work from the window (yes they actually do that, dad win right there!) is that it’s been really bloody hard work.

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The toddler has morphed into the slime monster; I have absolutely no idea how one little nose can produce so much snot!!! But it has and its bloody everywhere. His entire face is plastered in it, along with his little hands whose sole purpose have become to disperse as much of the snot slime as possible onto me. It’s now in my hair, my clothes, its inside my bra (yes the toddlers hands venture down there regularly) and I’m pretty sure I got some in my mouth. I find myself recoiling as my once cute toddler runs at me; unsure whether to interpreted his advances as an act of love or a declaration in slime-snot warfare, which I’ll lose.

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The baby, you remember the baby, currently better known in our house as the sleep-thief. The packaging on this one remains intact, utterly adorable but beneath that exterior is a demon baby sucking the life out of me. I know you can’t see it, her well timed ability to babble “dada” has blinded you but despite her all night antics she apparently doesn’t feel the need to catch up on sleep during the day either. The baby sleep-thief ninja refuses to nap!! Instead she crawls around the sitting room in a fog of neurotic exhaustion, falling over nothing and crashing into everything. This morning she climbed up onto the toddler’s toy bus and managed to epically face-plant off it onto the carpet, cutting her little lip. Cue blood pouring from her mouth, hysterical screaming and me feeling a totally shit mum because yes I was looking at my phone when it happened.

When the time comes to pick the big 2 up from school I’m late, always late. Dodging around the good parents coming towards me who have already collected their children. What part of seeing a crazy mother, running along pushing a double buggy doesn’t make you want to get out of the way people?? Second son comes out covered in plasters, I think the current record in one day is 8!! Seriously kid you managed to require 8 separate plasters in one day, I’m pretty sure the school are going to start invoicing me. The other child doesn’t come out at all, at least not for hours (feels like it!!)

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In amongst all the child-raising I mustered the effort to make myself some healthy porridge for breakfast in a sad little bid to be a bit healthier and lose that suborn last bit of baby weight. However I’m pretty sure any good was cancelled out by the 8 ginger nuts and entire ‘sharer’ size packet of minstrels I have since consumed!! Also slightly off topic but I think we may need to remove all the mirrors from our house because there is some tired, old, grumpy looking hag who keeps appearing in them and she is freaking me the hell out!!

So that’s it that’s my day. That’s what I mean when I say ‘fine’, how was your day? xx

Finding my Voice – For my Daughter

I have honestly always felt like a boy mama, right from day one. I have never longed for a daughter and much to many people’s surprise baby number 4 was not ‘one last try for a girl’. But having a daughter has changed me; she has made me look at society differently and the ways in which girl’s roles are positioned within it. Having a daughter has made me stop and look at myself, my behaviours and the roles I fulfil. It’s left me questioning many of my behaviours and if I’m honest feeling a little lost in myself. What kind of example am I setting to her? What kind of female role model am I to her? What I do know is that I want my daughter to grow up as a strong woman. Who is able to pursue activities in life which make her happy; that enrich her and fulfil her. I do not want her to feel that she has to conform to any pre-conceived ideas about what a woman should do, how they should behave or what they should look like.

I watched a story on the news today in relation to the up and coming Oscars, which was discussing gender inequality in films. There is a test, called the bechdel test which was designed to test the presence of active female roles within films. In order for a film to pass the test there are three criteria it must fulfil; firstly there must be two female characters in the film, secondly they must talk to each other and thirdly the subject must be something other than a man. My initial through was how basic and almost trivial that criteria seemed and yet the report went on to say that half of the winners for best picture in the history of the Oscars have not passed the bechdel test. I was genuinely shocked. Films that I myself have loved watching and regard as great films, like ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. How is this possible? That we are watching films that are so heavily male dominated that two female characters do not even have dialogue with one another. Or if they do it is only concerned with a man!! I haven’t been able to get this out my head all day, I’ve been left me thinking about the way women are treated within our society. The roles they are given and the ways in which the media portray those roles.

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We have seen a lot of movement in the film industry over the last few months, high profile women using their voices to speak out at the way women are treated. The #metoo and #timesup campaigns have been spread across the media and I really do believe a change is on the horizon. So what does that mean for ordinary women like me and our daughters? The reality is we still live in a patriarchal society and gender inequality is spread across it. It’s present in our schools, in our places of work and in the media our children are so heavily exposed to. Change won’t happen just because we want it to. We have to be the change. I do not want my daughter to grow up and be paid less than her brothers simply because of her gender. Where do we start? We start by empowering ourselves and each other. We start by believing that we are strong women, that we have a voice and a right to be heard. We stop cutting other women down and build them up instead.

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The words being written right here on this blog only exist because a group of women who I’m lucky enough to call friends believed in me. They encouraged me to believe in myself and empowered me to share what I had to say. Because this female voice, this voice of a mum of four, a wife, a daughter, a sister is worthy of being heard. I want to be part of the change. I want to stand up and stand united with other women. It’s time we were not simply part of the chorus, a pretty background to the male centred plot. It’s time women and what we have to say took over the story line because it’s just as worthy of the central plot as a man’s; in the movies and in real life.

For my Piper x

M.S your not just taking her your breaking me.

What do you do when life drowns you? I blog as a kind of therapy. I write about motherhood & my journey as a mum of 4. Yes motherhood overwhelms me and scares me and I worry I’m not getting it right. But ultimately motherhood empowers me and motivates me to be a better me. And writing about it and sharing it with other parents is something I love to do; it lifts me up and inspires me. I’m not drowning in motherhood, right now motherhood is what’s keeping me afloat. I’m drowning in life. My mum has Multiple sclerosis. She has had it for 25 years, in the last 10 years it changed from remit & regression to secondary progressive. I don’t write about it. Because I don’t really no how. It doesn’t inspire me, it breaks me.

I’m well aware that by sharing experiences of illness and disability you can raise awareness and understanding of the condition. It can help others suffering to feel less alone in their struggles. But I still don’t know how to share it with people. For a long time I never told people my mum was ill. Even as an adult; I would make friends with other mums and talk about my mum, I would simply leave out her illness. Not because I was or am embarrassed, never that. But because I wanted them to have a true picture of my mum. When you describe a person as being in a wheelchair people have preconceived ideas of what that person will be like. We shouldn’t have but we do! And that’s not my mum she’s not a disabled person in a wheelchair. She’s a former beautiful wild child. She was an amazing nurse, a strong, spunky woman. The mum who made me the most incredible birthday cakes and spent £300 on 2 kittens we hid from my dad for a week. The first & only source of advice I wanted when I became a mum.

M.S is stealing her from us, from me. I don’t want to watch her slip away. I don’t want to sit here & see her unable to hold her cup or feed herself. I want my mum back………..

Call it 4th child wisdom: Why I know I won’t regret that cuddle.

It’s 2 o’clock on Monday afternoon; I’m at home and the toddler is in bed having a nap. My 7 month old had been playing on her mat when she starts to doze off right where she is in the middle of the living room floor. She never does this; she’s actually a bit of a monkey to get to sleep at the moment. I have to leave the house in 40 minutes to pick the 2 big boys up from school. I could get a hell of a lot done in those 40 minutes with both babies asleep. And coincidentally I have a hell of lot to do. The kitchen is a state; I haven’t even managed to unload the dishwasher today. The hallway is like it homes some sort of demonic crap excreting monster. There are mounds of clothes in nearly every room, some of it needs washing, some of it putting away, some of it needs ironing but the quest won’t ever be fulfilled in this house! The ‘I must get round to that’ list inside my head must be a foot long although I really should change the name to the ‘I will never get round to this’ list!! So do I jump into productive, super-mum mode? No I scoop the baby up, snuggle her into my arms & curl up the sofa for a snuggle.

Because if I’ve learned anything doing this baby bit for the 4th time it’s that it goes really bloody quick & you will miss it so much once it’s over. As mamas we are so good at assigning ourselves the hard jobs, the difficult tasks in parenting and sometimes denying ourselves the good bits. The little snuggles on the sofa, the 5 minutes playing with cars or tickles after bath time. But we need to remind ourselves that we deserve to have the good bits, to enjoy those special little moments.

Don’t get me wrong I know it’s bloody hard not to get stressed by the mess in the house. Not to feel this sense of obligation to keep on top of everything. But when these precious baby years are over I know I won’t remember if my house was tidy at 2 o’clock on a Monday afternoon. Or if all of my washing was done; for all of an hour before one of my beloved offspring creates more. I will remember cuddling my beautiful baby though. I will remember how she smelt. I will remember how peaceful she looked while sleeping. I will remember how she felt in my arms & how I couldn’t help but smile as I looked at her.

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As mums we are so good at multi-tasking; at racing round the house cleaning, tidying, sorting, keeping the house clean and tidy and looking beautiful. It seems to me that there is increasing pressure on mums to have beautiful homes, even when they have babies and young children. I absolutely feel that pressure, do you? But I have also come to realise that I have the power to release myself from that pressure. Don’t get me wrong I know you have to find a balance and I love it when my house is clean and organised. But I also know that there will be time when the babies have grown up to clean my house. And I know that when that time comes there will be days when I will happily trade my clean house for a 40 minutes snuggle of the sofa with my baby. I know Piper will never be this age again, I will never get this day, these 40 minutes with her again just to cuddle her. So I’m going to.

Call it 4th child wisdom.
Charlie xx

Why I’m done apologising for being a mum of 4.

My Toddler Owns Me. Yes he most definitely does, actually all four of my beautiful babies own me (it’s just that the toddler thinks he rules the roost!!) And you know what, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Since becoming a mum of four I have felt incredibly self-conscious when out with all four of the children. That might sound utterly ridiculous but it’s true. I felt very conscious of strangers looking at me and judging me; whatever the intentions behind the judgment is irrelevant to be honest. I hate people looking at me if I could wear an invisibility cloak I would, most of the time. This is probably down to the fact I’m a bit of a hermit and feel like a socially awkward lemon most of the time.

Now I’m sure as you can imagine going anywhere with four little urchins does not enable you to be inconspicuous; it draws a fair amount of attention. I have encountered many experiences where strangers have felt the need to comment on the number of children I have. One very sweet lady started to chat to me in the supermarket as I was pushing the trolley with the two babies in it. She told me (in a very kind way) that I had my hands full with two little ones so close in age. Then my big boys appeared at my side she looked at my aghast “are these two yours as well?”, “yes” I answered, “4?!” again I answered yes (I’m not sure what else I was supposed to say to be honest). And off she went looking slightly stunned. I don’t think people mean to but I’m often left feeling as if having four children invites some kind of judgment.

I have found myself on occasion responding to people with, “oh but no more now” as if I need to reassure the public that I realise I have pushed the limits on acceptable breeding and will absolutely stop now!! There have been times when I have allowed myself to become unbelievably stressed when out with my little tribe simply because the older two have started to act a little rowdy. I become irrationally self-conscious and believe everyone is looking at me thinking that mother had too many children and she can’t control them or make them behave properly.

Enough!!! It’s all crap and most of the crap is my head so I’m evicting it!! In the last seven months since P was born I have grown as a mother and come to realise that I do not have to apologise for my children. I do not have to apologise because I chose to have four children; I do not have to apologise because those four children take up space or make a noise. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been in a shop with my four loves and an adult has barged past one of them. Yes they take up space, yes the 5 of us can easily block an aisle but they are human beings; talk to them, a simple “excuse me please” and they will happily move aside. It doesn’t matter if you have one child or ten they have the right to be there, to take up space. They have the right to make a noise, to laugh, to shout, to object, to be frustrated and to cry. Babies cry!! Real life shocker I know!!

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I met up with a wonderful friend for a cuppa and a catch up today; we didn’t get much catching up done thanks to my 2 little munchkins. But she didn’t make me feel guilty or bad for being totally distracted by my babies. She held the baby so I could have my cake and drink my tea, she chased the run-away toddler when I was holding the baby, and most importantly she smiled at me. A beautiful reassuring smile that said you are right where you should be, doing exactly what you should be doing.

As mamas we should be able to embrace our children, to enjoy them and not to have to stress and worry about fitting into societies restraints. If there’s one time that the moulds of society should be thrown out the window it is most definitely childhood. Let’s raise are children to believe that society is inclusive. Let’s raise our children to believe that everyone matters big or small. Let’s show our children that motherhood is the most important job in the world. We are raising the future and we want to do it right; so that the next generation may grow up kind and inclusive and respectful; and in doing so shape our society in that way.
Charlie xx