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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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

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

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.

Baby Names

I love talking about baby names!! I can’t help it. I must drive my hubby insane because from the minute I know I’m pregnant that is all I want to discuss. It’s so exciting, with so much possibility. I wanted to share with you the little stories behind how each of our 3 boys got their names.

Starting with my eldest Finley, I was certain I was having a boy with Fin so we never settled on a girl’s name but we had Alfie picked out quite early on. That was until a lady I worked with told me her daughter had had a baby boy which they were going to call Finley but changed their minds when he was born. I really hadn’t heard the name Finley before this but as soon as I did I fell in love with the name. It means fair hero/warrior, which couldn’t be more fitting because Fin came along at a time when I felt lost in my life. He was my little hero and put me right on the path I was meant to be on. Now with Ethan I was snuggled up one evening watching ‘One Tree Hill’ like a proper grown up!! When the story line saw one of the main characters look after a baby that needed a serious heart operation and obviously the doctor who performed this was amazing and utterly gorgeous. After the operation he finally reveals his first name “Ethan” well that was it, that’s the name for my next son!! And if EB had turned out to be a girl we would have suck with the E and named him Eva. Then with bump number 3 we had our girl’s name all picked out; both Rich and I both loved Maggie. But I really struggled throughout my third pregnancy to find a boy’s name I loved as much as the other two. When I came up with Archer Rich wasn’t totally convinced. Now Archer’s labour actually started on Saturday the 21st of November, the last day under the Scorpio star sign. Sagittarius starts on the 22nd and is the centaur shooting an arrow. So I got Rich to agree that if the baby wasn’t born until the Sunday and was a boy we had to name him Archer. It would be a sign from the stars, and so it was.

There are so many things to consider when it comes to naming your baby: Will their name grow with them throughout their lives? Will their name pick up unwanted connotations? Does it work with their surname and other siblings names? Then when you have found your perfect baby name you have to get your other half to agree (which if he’s anything like mine is sometimes the hardest part!!) I can understand why some parents might find that responsibility overwhelming. But it is an incredible privilege, a gift from you that your child carries with them their whole life. A gift that you have deliberated about, desperate to get it right, desperate to find the ‘perfect name’ for your most precious entity. You give your child the title to their story.

Just for fun I have complied a list of my top 5 boy’s and girl’s names for our final instalment (I have broached the subject apparently 4 children is Rich’s limit haha!).

Girls
  1. Maggie
  2. Luna
  3. Winter
  4. Willow
  5. Quinn
Boys
  1. Noah
  2. Eli
  3. Lochlan
  4. Cooper
  5. Dexter

I would love to know what you guys think of them and if you have any other name suggestions please let me know, thank you.

Charlie.