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

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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

Bursting my Christmas Bubble.

I have to hold my hands and say i got a little lost this Christmas in the idea of making Pipers first Christmas extra special. I have given the Christmas decs an update and the house looks beautifully festive. I have picked just 3 really special presents for Piper for her first Christmas and we had planned to go to the zoo to see Santa (our little family tradition) on Christmas eve for the first time with our 4 children. I did not think this would be the Christmas post I would be writing. But on Friday night Piper got admitted to hospital. As I’m writing this it’s Christmas eve we are still in hospital just crossing our fingers we can go home today and spend Christmas all together at home. My poor little baby got hit with a nasty cold and the d & v bug at the same time. She couldn’t keep any milk down Friday and she ended up with a really high temperature and become dehydrated. She is so much better now thank God but she gave us quite a scare!!

The last 48 hours I have spent in hospital with her and away from my boys has really made me think!! All the silly things we worry about, all the pressures we put on ourselves. Christmas day is a special day without doubt but honestly not because the house looks perfect or because there are the most fantastic, expensive presents under the tree. It’s about being with your family and the people in this world you love. The people who make your soul sing and your heart full. I know it sounds corny but honestly the real gifts are the ones you can’t buy.

The universe gave me a serious lesson these last few days. All the crap I worry about, all the goals I think are important to achieve are so irrelevant when it truly comes down to it. I had spent December shopping for the best presents for the children. I had spent hours search for, buying and putting up decorations to make sure the house looks amazing. I had brought the 3 boys matching pj’s for Christmas eve night and I would have posted pictures of them by the tree on Instagram showcasing my wonderful family Christmas. But the reality is if we aren’t at home, if our family isn’t all together it doesn’t matter how expensive or amazing the presents, or how beautifully the house is decorated.

Sometimes it’s so easy to get lost in a little bubble which in truth is fed by our consumer society. I will hold my hands up and say i was bouncing through December utterly absorbed in my bubble. Solely focused on Piper’s first Christmas and our first Christmas as a family of six being perfect. Well my bubble got well and truly popped!!! I just want to be home. I just want to wake up with my family all together and see my 4 gorgeous children smiling. Because the other side of this is that there are lots of families who won’t be all together. There are lots of families who spend Christmas with a child in hospital. There are lots of families who don’t get to experience the relief of knowing their child will get better, will be just fine. There are lots if families for whom it isn’t just a scare it’s a nightmare.

There will be presents under the tree tomorrow. There will be food on the table. But most importantly I’m just looking forward to us all being together and Piper being well. So mamas take the pressure off yourselves, don’t get stressed it’s not meant to be perfect. Give yourself and your family the best christmas present and just be happy and have a happy Christmas together.

Merry Christmas everyone love Charlie x

A tribute to my Boy Tribe

I wanted to write this post because for the last almost ten years that I have been a mummy, I have been a ‘boy mum’ and all that could be about to change. With the arrival of baby number 4 we could be about to see a pink coated (I’m under no illusion my friends & family will hit the pink HARD after 3 boys) intruder in our lil boy tribe!! We have no idea what the sex of the baby is and I genuinely have no preference but if my days as purely a boy mum are numbered then I have to give a shout out to why it’s so damn great!!!

Firstly boys are straight up; I have heard lots of times how boys aren’t as emotionally complicated as girls and I don’t totally agree with that. What I will say is once you learn the code it doesn’t change, that’s how it is and boys say what they mean. So when your boy toddler hits you it’s because you made him mad, when he runs away from you it’s because he wanted to go wherever he was running to – it’s pretty straightforward!! If your nine year old tells you they are out of bed because they need to ask you a really important question, mostly likely it’s who do you think is a better footballer Ronaldo or Pogba? And if your 7 year old tells you he going to refer to a person as ‘Frank’ to which you respond but that’s not his name and your son responds “yer I know, I’m OK with it”. Guess what? He’s OK with it and regardless of his name he’s going to call him Frank!! That’s boys!!!

Secondly I have been introduced to a whole world of things I would never have discovered without my boys. Dinosaurs – bloody hell there are a lot of different dinosaurs and it is truly amazing how a 3 year old can distinguish between what I thought were “the ones with the long neck” “no mummy that’s a brachiosaurus and that’s a diplodocus!!” Stones – it is truly unbelievable the joy that a little boy can get from those hard, little objects and once that bond is formed just how successfully they invade your home. Thanks to their varying shapes and sizes they really can get squeezed into every item of clothing with a pocket, handbags, backpacks, the bottom of a buggy and just when it looks like you have run out of space you can fill up your brother’s pockets!! Mud – Once your little man is big enough to start exploring outside he will without doubt make best friends with mud and anything that might live in it; that includes stones again (obviously) along with worms and beetles. That sponge like toddler brain is in its element when it comes to mud. What’s the difference between dry mud and wet mud? How does mud feel squished up or rubbed in my hair? What does mud taste like? Boys do eventually graduate out of the initial mud stage to a more grown-up relationship whereby it becomes ingrained in their knees – permanently!! It doesn’t matter how much you scrub those knees that mud has set up permanent residence. Sticks – The uses for a stick are quite literally endless!! To start with they are the ultimate tool when it comes to mud and figuring out if what’s residing in the mud is still alive. As a weapon they cannot be equalled; whether you need them to be a sword, a bow, a wand, they are a little boy’s ultimate weapon of mass destruction inside or outside the house.

Thirdly the way boys love their mummy is absolutely beautiful. As a woman you will have had great loves in your life before you become a mummy; a father or maybe a grandfather, a husband or a handbag. Then you become a mother and you realise there is nothing on this earth that you could love as much as you love your children. But the way boys love their mummy is so pure and unwavering. For that short period in their lives while they are little you get to be their unchallenged number one. Through little boys eyes their mummies are real life princesses. There is nothing like the beautiful innocence of your toddler son telling you he’s going to marry you when he gets bigger because he loves you that much he couldn’t possibly imagine marrying anyone else. Or on the rare occasion you get dressed up being told how beautiful you look by your nine year old son. My boys are the first to kiss me better if I’m sad or hurt, they are the first to want to protect me from anything and everything (mostly their dad tickling me!!) and they are the only people in the whole world who look at me and don’t see my heaps of faults (yet).

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So while yes 8 months of the year I spend my Sunday mornings freezing on the side of a rugby pitch being a mum of boys is awesome and while a little girl would of course bring a whole new adventure for us to love and experience, I adore being a mum to boys.

Charlie xx

 

Preparing for a Realistic Birth.

I’m not going to lie I spend a LOT of time at the moment thinking about Labour! I am 38 weeks pregnant baby’s head is engaged, my hospital bag is packed, my sister is on standby to babysit, we are ready to go whenever this lil munchkin calls time!! The thought of giving birth again fills me with both overwhelming anxiety and utter excitement. I have had three vaginal deliveries, I know I can push out a baby, I know how earth-stoppingly incredible it is when your baby emerges and you become a mummy for the first time or again. But I also know that I do not handle the pain of child-birth well; I have always wanted to manage on just gas and air and have always had to have pethidine to get me through the 2nd stage. I have always wanted a water birth or at least to be able to get into the birthing pool during labour and have always encountered some little complication which has prevented this. To be totally honest I have always felt like I haven’t remained in control during my labours and been left with a feeling of disappointment in myself.

This is my last baby, my last pregnancy and my very last labour, so what am I hoping to achieve? I am trying to prepare myself for a ‘realistic birth’. In an ideal world I would love to have a water birth. I imagine a really calm atmosphere, me in the birthing pool, just Rich and a midwife in the room maybe some music on and most importantly me feeling like I am in control. I would love to feel empowered in my labour; a strong, confident mama who believes in her own abilities to birth her baby!! But there is also the flip-side; what I don’t want. I don’t want to have a C-section the thought of being cut open completely freaks me out, I have the upmost respect for all the mums who go through that!! I don’t want to experience any significant complications in labour or to have to stay in hospital once the baby is born. The thought of being away from Archer when he is so young and extremely clingy still is a real worry for me. And possibly most obviously I want to birth a healthy baby.

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So going back to my 3 previous labours while no I haven’t achieved my “ideal birth” I have been incredibly fortunate to avoid all the things I’ve wanted to (aside from staying in hospital 2 nights with Archer because he was so tiny). I am incredibly grateful for having experienced 3 straightforward births which have produced 3 healthy babies. So with my last impending labour I am reminding myself of this. My one failing in my 3 previous labours has been feeling disappointed in myself; I am not going to allow myself to feel that after this labour because I struggled or cried or needed strong pain relief to get me through it. Labour is bloody hard work, it’s incredibly painful and at times totally overwhelming. No woman is less of a superhero because of the level pain relief they require to get through it. No woman is less of a heroin if she requires assistance in any form to make sure both herself and her baby stay safe and healthy. Just like the baby born every labour is unique it cannot be compared to any other labour. Whether you pushed out a baby with no pain relief at home, you had every drug available in hospital or your baby was delivered by C-section it’s irrelevant. You made and birthed a baby and that makes you one hell of a…….I couldn’t think of which world to use here that does it justice which is stupid because of course it’s Mother/Mama/Mummy.
Charlie xx

Easter: A time for new beginnings, self-acceptance or just lots of chocolate?

Tonight the bunny will visit our house and leave out Easter eggs for my boys, who will wake up delirious with excitement and require a full military operation to stop them raiding all their chocolate before breakfast. The bunny also hides little eggs in the garden and the highlight of Easter Sunday morning has to be the insanely excited, if a little competitive (between the big boys) egg hunt in the garden. The boy’s scrambles for eggs are intermingled with questions of “do you think there are any more”, while I try to remember the top secret info the bunny passed me on exactly how many eggs there are and where they are hidden!easter1

So besides all the chocolate and the cuteness of baby animals popping up everywhere what does this Christian holiday mean to me? What I love about this time of year is the freshness, that inspiring feeling of new beginnings. I’m not really a believer in re-inventing yourself. We spend far too much time being critical of ourselves. I do, however, believe that we can learn to accept ourselves and in doing so make little changes which make us happy. A “new you” isn’t required, love you as you are now. Its OK not to be perfect; in fact that’s actually what makes you bloody brilliant. Accepting your faults is so uplifting and refreshing, and not to mention GOOD FOR YOU. easter2

There are so many things I suck at and wish I could do better, there are also so many things I wish I did full stop. But at the end of the day I wake up every morning and live. Some days I do really bloody well and other days I pull on my invisibility cloak and crawl through the day. And you know what that’s OK! If you want to make a change then go for it, find that self-belief however deep down it may be hidden and give something new a try. I saw a social-media post the other day which said “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” I thought about that for a while and there are lots of things I don’t do or try because I’m afraid. Afraid I’ll fail or afraid of what other people will think of me. There’s nothing wrong with being afraid, acknowledge your fear let it sit in the passenger seat but don’t let it drive your car.

As we walk along our path in life there will be lots of things we can’t change, or make better and accepting that can be incredibly difficult. Yet when we make peace with those things and let go of the anger or frustrations we may feel, we are actually making space for new solutions, acceptance and positive emotions. Life can be so full of pressure, worry and stress; and these things have such a detrimental effect on our mental and physical well-being. What we should take from Easter is to stop, smile and remember that life’s a gift. Don’t spend it worrying that your not good enough, don’t allow the superficial pressures of our society to weigh you down. Find what gives you joy, laugh and enjoy life with all its incredible imperfections.easter3

I really hope you all have a wonderful Easter; eat too much chocolate, get out in the sunshine, smell the flowers, smile and remember you are enough. Charlie xx

Side by Side We Stand.

Exactly one year ago, on International Women’s Day I published my first ever blog (I have linked this in the comments below if you wish to have a read). In it I discussed the concept of blogging and how it can inspire us as women but also place expectations upon us. As this was my first ever blog my perspective on blogging was situated firmly as an outsider. So after a year what have I learned? Well firstly I have to be honest I haven’t been blogging for a year, I have dipped in and out of it and only in the last few months have I actually dedicated myself to blogging regularly. Part of my blogging journey has understandably involved social media; Facebook is where I share parts of my life online with I’ll refer to them as my ‘real-life friends’ and I have found using Instagram has connected me with new ‘virtual-realm friends’. I have been able to connect with other female bloggers, most of whom are mothers; some new to blogging like me and others more established well-known bloggers. When I read my first blog post back what strikes me now is that I don’t once mention the women behind the blogs; the real women behind the words or the Instagram pictures. It didn’t once occur to me that I would have a true connection with these women, who I would share experiences with. Women who I would empathise with, gain support from, while being encouraged and inspired by.

Yet that is precisely what has happened; I have started to build up relationships through social media with other women. I recently contacted a number of established bloggers to ask them to contribute to a blog post I wished to write (watch this space it’s coming!!). Now when I sent out the email I honestly had no idea if I would get any responses. Because when you think about it these women don’t know me, they are insanely busy running successful blogs, working, oh and that little chestnut motherhood!! But I did!! I got a lot of responses, these amazing women took the time not only to email me back with the information I had asked for but also to offer me support and encouragement as a new blogger. And that was it right there, the part of blogging that I hadn’t thought about, the part of blogging which hadn’t once occurred to me when I first started and wrote my first blog post. Other female bloggers supporting and encouraging me!!

This isn’t really about blogging; this is about women, blogs and social media are simply the platform that connects these women together. Women being inspired and motivated by one-another, learning from one-another and most importantly supporting one-another. We live in a patriarchal society, there’s no denying it, a significant pay gap between men and women still exists (according to the government stats it currently stands at 18% https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-gender-pay-gap). You are still more likely to see a man in the most senior positions within businesses and our political environment is still a male dominated arena. The only way this is going to change is if we as women support one another and celebrate the success of strong women around us. So often it can seem like society pits women against one another, forcing us to compete. But the truth is there isn’t a limited amount of space for women to be successful in. One woman achieving something that you want to achieve shouldn’t be viewed as her taking your spot, she isn’t, she’s pushing open that narrow gap for women which exists and making it wider.

An Instagram post I saw shared recently said “Real Queens fix each other’s Crowns” (@thefmlystore) How bloody awesome is that? And so true!! Let’s support one-another ladies. Be inspired, be supported and show each other the love. Whether it’s in a workplace or at the school gates that successful, badass women you’re in awe of, she’s your ally not your competition. Side by side, together we can elevate one another and make sure those crowns stay straight and sparkling.

Happy International Women’s Day you amazing woman.

Charlie