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

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Self-improving: it’s all bollocks!!

It’s the beginning of a brand new year. There will undoubtedly be lots circulating about new years resolutions, becoming a better version of yourself, self-improving ect. ect. It’s really all bollocks!! You don’t need to improve you’er already totally awesome!!! I have no idea where this notion that we as beings need to constantly tell ourselves we are not enough; not good enough, not pretty enough, not productive enough!! (Maybe the sociologist in me should research it?) The truth is we are enough. You right now, just as you are, you are enough. You are beautiful, you are unique, you have your own journey imprinted on your soul and your body which no other being has experienced. You have something to offer this world which only you can. Don’t set out this new year to change yourself or to improve yourself, set out to embrace yourself, to love yourself.

I have set myself 2 goals for 2018: number 1 to be happy and number 2 not to let fear steer my journey. I am so guilty of being afraid and letting that fear dictate what I will and won’t do. From voicing my opinions, to what I wear; I worry what people around me will think of me. I’m scared of being judged, I’m scared of being viewed negatively, a lot of the time I’m scared and I don’t even know what of!! So today I opened up one of my (many) un-used notebooks (I hold my hands up to having a slight stationary addiction) and wrote out a few mantras for myself. These included “Put your big girl pants on and go for it!” and “No Regrets!!” Hahaha!! Life is too short and the world we live in holds too much beauty to let fear sit in the driving seat.

I think we all need a little reminder sometimes to be happy. Our society places so much emphasis on making money, on owning material goods, on superficial beauty but we forget how important it is to feed our souls. So if you search for one thing in 2018 make it Happiness. Allow yourself to be happy, give yourself permission to pursue the things that bring you joy. The true beauty of happiness is that once you have gifted yourself with it you can share it, you can spread it around and watch it grow. Our world needs more happiness.

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So if you see me on the school run in feathers, sequins or head-to-toe fuchsia don’t panic, if I’m wearing a smile I’m happy so go with it I’m just embracing my individuality hahaha Charlie xxx

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

Motherhood is kicking my Arse!!

Motherhood is kicking my arse!! And then some!!!

It’s been a pretty tough couple of months for me. Now I know most people will think well yer you went and had 4 kids duh!!! But I feel like maybe I under-estimated how hard it was going to be with 4 or I over-estimated my capabilities as a mother because I am struggling. The reality is having 4 little people who need and want you is so intense, it literally doesn’t stop. Piper is such a happy, chilled-out baby we are incredibly lucky but she is still a baby who needs feeding and changing and cuddling constantly. Archer is about to turn 2 and is a full-on toddler-tornado!! He doesn’t stop from the second he wakes up he’s full of character and over-flowing with mischief!! Then there’s my big boys. Fin is in year 6 and while that means lots of exciting opportunities throughout this final year at primary school, it also means a hundred and one things for me to remember, organise and pay for. EB has moved into year 3 and needs a little adjustment time; school doesn’t suit him so it’s always a little work to make sure he’s happy and settled and not struggling. Of course everything I’m saying is just normal, everyday motherhood. But that in itself makes me feel like I should be able to handle it. Yet since my 2 big boys have gone back to school it’s been so full-on I feel like I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath.

Running late for school, forgetting things the boys need, losing letters, running about like a headless chicken, getting stressed, losing my patience and shouting at the boys. This feels like it sums me up as a mum at the moment and I hate it!! Friday I was so late picking the boys up for school; they were the last 2 children at the gate. I ran down the path lugging Piper in the car seat in one arm and dragging a screaming Archer in the other. Trying desperately to avoid making eye contact with any parents coming towards me having already collected their children happily, on time. In my head I’m thinking “I’m failing, I’m failing!!!” I constantly feel like I’m being judged by everyone around me; as that mother who went and had 4 children and now she can’t cope. She’s doing a shit job and letting her kids down and it’s her own fault because she chose to have so many children!!

I got the boys in the car and drove to the woods. I strapped the babies in the buggy, stuffed a chocolate bar in the 2 big boy’s mouths to stop their protests and we walked. We walked and we talked about school, about life, about dreams, about the weird funny things that go through boy’s heads. Archer got out and walked through the wood sometimes chasing his big brothers, sometimes stopping to pick up acorns. Piper slept. We laughed. We collected sticks. The crunchy, orange brown leaves providing the carpet for our therapeutic footsteps. And when the sun started going down we got back into the car and headed home. Smiling, happy and reminded why I love being a mummy so much.

Motherhood is bloody hard. It’s so easy to get utterly consumed by all the external factors and pressures. When it all gets too much just stop and go hug and kiss your children. Go for a walk, talk, laugh together. These are the memories our children will remember and cherish. They won’t remember us being late for the school run sometimes or forgetting the random carrot or sock they need for the latest innovative school project!! Remember you’re doing a great job. Motherhood is not about being perfect, you are allowed to make mistakes, to get it wrong. It’s about travelling the journey together, hand in hand, making memories, laughing, loving one another hard, and being their mummy and them being your babies. Always.

Charlie xx

Can I hit the pause button?

Can someone else be the parent? Just for the day? Does anyone else ever feel like they need someone else to take over, hold the reins?? Maybe it’s the fact that in a few days it’ll be May, the month before baby is due and I become a mum of 4 and it all just got a bit real. Maybe it’s because life feels a bit complicated at the moment; this week has been kind of a rollercoaster. Or maybe it’s just down to crazy lady pregnancy hormones which I am full of; one minuet I’m snorting (yep full on pig-snorts) with laughter the next I’m trying not to cry into my chocolate milk!! But I find myself searching around for a parenthood pause button. I just want someone else to take over.

 

The thing that makes this so ridiculous is that I’m a total clingy, control-freak of a mother. I find it almost impossible to let anyone else do stuff with my children, their dad has to pretty much fight me off to get a look in. If I do leave them which is rare I’m pining for them after about an hour. (I know trust me I want to punch myself in the head too!!) I think I have a fear of missing out on something and I worry that no-one else will else will look after them the way I do. The problem is I’m not sure I’m doing that great a job right now, hence my desire to hit the pause button. I’m tired, being 32 weeks pregnant with a 17 month old is hard, and my little body is feeling it!! Truthfully there is this little bitch sat on my shoulder dripping self-doubt into my head. Because if I’m not managing now, how the hell am I going to cope with 4?? I don’t want things to slip through the cracks. I don’t want to be grumpy and negative, that’s so unfair on the boys.

That’s the thing about being a mum, there is no time-out, no pause button, no off switch. It’s not a hat you chose to put on or take off. From the second your baby comes into this world you’re a mummy and that doesn’t ever stop. And while motherhood is wonderful and rewarding and provides you with an indescribable love; it’s also exhausting, overwhelming and at times suffocating. So what are we supposed to do when it all gets too much? I guess the first thing is to know that it’s alright to admit it. It’s not always easy to hold your hands up and say you need a break but it shouldn’t carry any judgement and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. It doesn’t mean you love or adore your children any less. In fact (and I know I’ve said this before) looking after yourself makes you a better mum. You’re giving your children a happy, rested mum; they’ll enjoy you more and vice versa.

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I suppose the hard part is finding that ‘thing’ which you can do away from your children which makes you feel good. I know women for who work is their escape; where they find their sanity, for others its exercise and for lots of women I know they take refuge with their girlfriends when things get too much. If I’m being totally honest I haven’t figured out where mine lies yet (I’ll keep you posted). I guess what I’m saying is that as mums we should all take the time to figure out where it is we can recharge and have some seriously deserved me time. Remember this is about you and what makes you happy, you’re not looking for anyone else to validate what helps you. If it makes you happy, de-stressed and gives you the strength to get up in the morning a tackle motherhood like a boss then you bloody do it!! Enjoy the 3 day weekend mummies we have earned it.
Charlie x

Do you wanna Read a story?

Seen as it’s world book day tomorrow and I am most definitely a book lover I thought I would share with you some of the most loved books in our house.

book-5Starting at the baby end and an absolute classic; ‘Peepo!’ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. This is just such a beautiful book to read to babies and young children. The illustrations are wonderful and if like me you were read this as a baby incredibly emotive. I also think it makes a wonderful gift, it’s one of those books which will be kept and read to future generations within families.

 

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Next up is this wonderful picture book ‘Arthur’s Tractor’ by Pippa Goodhart. This is such a fun story and perfect for families with boys and girls, as it cleverly combines the essentials of a classic fairy tale with the down-to-earth charm of Arthur and his tractor. Who in our house is indisputably an Irish farmer (yes we do voices). This adorable book has fantastic illustrations that will engage and absorb children. A firm favourite in our house!

book-1Another favourite in our house is the fantastically funny ‘Dragon Stew’ by Steve Smallman. This picture book tells the story of a group of Vikings who go on the hunt for adventure and a dragon. This book never fails to captivate my boys and have them in giggles. Again the colourful, detailed illustrations by Lee Wildish bring the story to life for little eyes.

 

book3Now our house like I’m sure most with children up and down the country is full of all the fabulous stories by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. My absolute favourite without a doubt is ‘Room on the Broom’. I adore this book; both the witch and her cat are the most endearing characters. I mean how can you not love an independent woman, with an enduring spirit whose own generosity is rewarded with a life-saving dragon rescue as a result of some kick-ass teamwork?

 

harrypotterNow as my big boys are now 9 and 7 we are sadly leaving behind the stage when they want a story book at bedtime. So around 6 months ago I started reading them ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’. We are all massive Harry Potter fans in this house but the boys have only ever watched the films. Because these are such brilliant books for adults to read as much as children I find myself just as eager as the boys are to carve out 20 minutes before bedtime and read a chapter. These books are just so incredibly magical I love how engrossed the boys are while I read to them. Plus there are lots of parts of the books which don’t appear in the films so if you or children haven’t read them you need to. We are currently on the third book ‘Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban’ and while we don’t manage to read every night I love having that little nook of time just me and them before bed, it’s special and a way to hold onto them as they grow up far too quickly!!

book-6 If this is something you already do or are going to do with older children then I would recommend you read Michelle Paver’s Chronicles of Darkness. They are the most incredible books, I read them for the first time about 5 years ago and although they are aimed at children 11+ I literally couldn’t put them down. There are 6 books in total, starting with ‘Wolf Brother’ set 6 thousand years ago in a world of clans, it follows the main character Torak and his adventures in the forest. These books are just so incredibly gripping I guarantee you’ll struggle not to read ahead once the kids are in bed.

Forgoing Happiness?

So I was sat at the dinner table last night, just me and the 3 boys; and as I watched them devour what I’m sure was about a ton of pasta between them I found myself smiling. I watched as the eldest two debated the pros and cons of finding crème inside a crème egg, (don’t ask, the crème egg obsession is a little out of control in my house at the mo!!) interjected with Archer’s grunts of agreement and his cheesy laughs at a joke no-one actually told. Being a mum makes me happy. Happiness is such a complex entity when you really break it down. It sits alongside things like success as this over-riding goal of life and yet one does not equate the other; despite expectations very often success doesn’t actually lead to happiness. What even is happiness? How do you define it? How do you measure it? More importantly how do you obtain it?

For me happiness can be found in a balance; a balance of releasing what stops me from feeling unhappy and indulging in what truly gives me joy. Give me a craggy, deserted beach where I can watch the sea or a forest to get lost under a canopy of green and the stresses and worries of life seem to be washed away. That’s what sucks out my happiness: stress and worry! I have really strong memories as a child of my beautiful, incredible mother being so stressed. Maybe that’s not surprising when I acknowledge she worked so hard as a nurse while bringing up 4 children and had a husband whose primary relationship was with the pub!! Yet it makes me sad looking back remembering how stressed she was, I’m not sure how much of motherhood she really got to enjoy. It’s certainly not something I want to replicate in my life. But it makes me wonder, do we as women and mothers sometimes not allow ourselves to be happy? Do we knowingly take on too much and refuse to ask for help?

I do not want my children to perceive motherhood as an all-consuming drain on the woman, it is a gift. Just as a mother is a gift; one which should be cherished and looked after. How often do we as mothers take on too much, how often do we over fill our days with chores and obligations? We are allowed to say “no” even to our children. I honestly believe it is good for our children to witness us put ourselves first. For our children to respect and value their mothers and learn gratitude for all the things we do for them. Yes the most astonishing strength exists within a woman, which often reaches its full potential when she becomes a mother. Our bodies endure in my opinion the most phenomenal act a human-being can experience, we create life. As mothers we love more passionately, protect more fiercely and give more unreservedly than we ever could have imagined possible. Reward yourself, allow yourself to be happy, indulge in your passions and interests, reside in places that offer you peace, rest and nurture your mental and physical being. Our children’s memories are being constructed right now; when they look back let them see their beautiful, incredible mothers happy, smiling and enjoying motherhood.

Charlie.