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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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

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

 

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.