Four Words

Today 4 words on Instagram brought back a whole world of memories and feelings for me…

Who’s the dad then?”

Nadia Essex is a public figure, writer and podcast host. Sharing her pregnancy journey with her 215k instagram followers sees her receiving many messages of love, support and advice. However, it seems one type of comment keeps reappearing, as written on Nadia’s latest Instagram post…

” Who’s the dad then?”

A question I myself heard plenty of times when I became single and pregnant 13 years ago. I was 23 years old and had a brief relationship with my babies father that simply didn’t last.

Now one thing you may or may not know about me is that I live in a small seaside town..and heres the thing about small seaside towns – some people like to know everything about your life, every detail. They take great pleasure in showing off what gossip they know and as the saying goes “what they don’t know they make up”

And boy did they make it up. The rumours I heard about myself during that time were insane (even one suggesting that I had been raped!) and I felt a real pressure to set the record straight but at the same time didn’t want to share all the details! It was no one else’s business.

And I know I can be guilty of gossip. I sometimes love a gossip with my girls, but since feeling in the spotlight and under the scrutiny of acquaintances and strangers, I will never 100% trust a story unless it comes from the source.

One feeling that really sticks from this time is the pressure of what people think. I still often feel it, I’ve never grown out of it since school. I will often worry about what people will say when I do certain things or make certain choices. It’s a trait I am working hard to overcome.

Now imagine feeling all this but with 215k people watching. It takes a strong person to be able to keep their cool and to not be affected mentally by the constant questioning. Whether you have 200k follows or 20, words can hurt and I admire Nadia’s calm and rationality when she reads and replies to such comments.

Sometimes I am an over-sharer, I love to talk about myself and my life and then other times I am the most private person in the world.

And whether you are me or a celebrity the common thread here is CHOICE, we choose what to share and what to keep private for a reason.

So here’s to not sharing everything…and congratulations on your pregnancy Nadia.There is no greater joy than becoming a parent 💙

Stepping Up

I don’t remember meeting you for the first time. I remember the moments before, a vague memory of waiting in front of our little house, looking out for your car to pull up and feeling excited and nervous to meet you.

I didn’t know then the importance of this meeting, the major influence that one moment had on the rest of my life.

You have been my dad for over 30 years. I often wonder how you felt back then about falling in love with a lady with a ready made family when you were so young but I am so grateful for the fact that you did. Grateful also that you embraced it, loved me and took me on as your own child.

Over the years you have stood up for me, supported me. Helped me out when I made bad choices and cheered me on when I made good ones.

You have picked me up from rock bottom, I have always felt safe because of you, knowing you could help me fight through the worst times.

Because of you I gained the most amazing family. As far back as I can remember I was always welcomed, especially by Granny and I never felt left out or different from the rest of the family.

You have stood up for me against those who tried to destroy me. You cared too much about the consequences it would have on me to kick their arse but showed that we were strong and not afraid to fight for what was right and for the feelings of my children.

You are the type of Grandad they write picture books about. Kind, loving, funny and always happy to have fun.Rory and Addie love you so much.

So a huge Happy 50th Birthday to the man who got stuck with me as part of a package deal. I can only dream of meeting someone who can step-up for my children like you have done for me.

we cannot wait to celebrate with you, have the best day Bald. Love you always xx

That Single Mum Stigma

Last year I saw an interview with TV personality Fearne McCann. She spoke of her refusal to being branded a “single Mum”, about how just being a Mum should be enough and it made me think a lot about my own views on being a single mum.

I have no issue with being called a single mum. I’m a mum who is single so why should the wording bother me. What I do have an issue with is the stigma that surrounds this. Not for the first time there seems to be a spate of negative posts about Single Mum’s on social media. The generalisation is this, that we

“Sponge off the government and spend tax payers money on nights out and ASOS orders, while looking for a new daddy for our children while sitting around watching Loose Women in our free new builds”

The truth is, yes some single Mum’s do this but so do some married parents and Men and Women who don’t have children.

Believe it or not a lot of us never chose to be a single mum, not all of us popped out babies for extra benefits. I know girls who became single Mum’s at 17 years old who have worked their arses off the same as everyone else ever since. I also know girls who are on their 3rd/4th/5th kid without ever setting foot in the staff room of any job!

I would happily show my bank statements to anyone who thinks all single mum’s get lots of free money. The majority of what I have comes from what I earn at work, I pay my own rent, childcare and bills. I do get child support from my ex and some tax credits that top up what I earn but I don’t expect a medal for providing for and making sacrifices for my children, that’s being a parent, single or not. I’m not ashamed that I get help because of my situation. I save for nice things and am lucky enough to get some nice things from companies for a bit of online promotion now and then.

Here are some facts…

  • Nearly a quarter of all UK families are single parent ones. Funnily enough some of the people posting these negative things were raised in single parent families, take a lead from the likes of Barack Obama and Adele and celebrate single parent upbringings instead of slating them.
  • 68% of single parents are in work
  • Yet 47% of children in single parent families live in relative poverty (it’s not all Disneyland and PlayStations )

Dating as a single mum is difficult, people have either that slummy single Mum view or assume you want to give them a couple of kids that aren’t theirs for life! My children have a Dad so that isn’t a priority for what I look for in a relationship. It’s great if someone can accept and fit in with your lifestyle but I aren’t looking to palm them off with a ready-made family after one date. That’s if you ever get the chance to meet anybody with said ready made family in tow at all times!

So feel free to call me a single Mum, to be honest there’s an awful lot worse I’ve been called! Just remember that we are very much like the rest of society…a whole range of people who are vastly different. Also if anybody would like to pay for me a Disneyland trip or my ASOS wish list I’d accept being called a sponger!

A Good Day

Last night I cuddled my daughter in her bed as she struggled for breath. I sat her against my body to try to slow her breathing down, getting her to mirror her breath to mine. Techniques I had learnt when her brother had asthma attacks when he was a toddler, now used to battle Addie’s panic attacks.

Generally Addie is a regular 7-year old (8 on Thursday) She is a happy, popular, funny girl. She is clever and outspoken. She calls herself a “kid feminist” and is obsessed with women’s rights and aspires to be a powerful woman. But this year has been tough.

Addie is petrified of loss. She gets terrible anxiety over the thought of losing those she loves, possibly due to what happened to her when she was younger. She became clingy and had irrational thoughts about me getting ran over while I wasn’t with her. She pulled holes in her clothes, picked the leather off her shoes and cried an awful lot.

Losing our Grandad on New Years Eve added to her anxiety. Addie started having panic attacks and often cried till she was hyperventilating. Last night I held her through one of these attacks but I know things have shifted again in her mind. She had been told in the past (not by me I might add) that she shouldn’t cry, she is slowly learning that it is ok if she needs to and that holding things in only make her feel worse. This is the first attack for about a month and her self-control to come through it was evident.

Addie can now talk about how she is feeling, she is strong enough to share her worries and her fears. This morning she woke happy and was back to talking about scientists and celebrities.

Today is a good day and there are becoming more of these than there are the bad ones.

On Thursday Addie will turn 8. She is the most interesting girl in the world and I am so proud to call her my best friend. I have absolutely no doubt that she will be and do exactly what she wants in life. I am excited to share a whole lifetime of Good Days together. Happy Birthday Addie Rose

A letter to Myself

Dear 21 year-old me,

Hi from the future and all that. Hey, look at me….I’m a mum now and let’s just say things aren’t exactly how you thought they would be.

There you are at 21 years old wondering about what kind of Mum you’d make, there is a family at a festival who make you decide right there and then that you are going to be one of those super cool Mums, who take their kids to festivals, let them wear batman costumes and tutus every day and only feed them home- made, organic loveliness while you dance round the kitchen with the radio on full and your husband smiles at you, lovingly content with his perfect family.

Right here’s the thing…so I’m afraid there’s no such thing as a perfect family, oh and the husband doesn’t exist…the thought of kids at festivals is now horror movie scary and Batman costumes are sweaty and uncomfortable.

So yeah, scratch the picture perfect family from your list. You are the proud single parent of two strange but amazing children. 2 years after that “festival family” moment you get pregnant to a guy who wants to travel the world instead of start a family and the rest is history.

But here’s some things you do get right…

1. Your son is clever and polite, he will play PlayStation with you and obsess about the world.

2. Your daughter is fierce. She is girly and strong-minded. She does wear Dr Martens and plays the guitar (badly)

3. Other Mums can be arseholes. At 21 some girls are bitchy prepare for them after they have been given all the knowledge of the universe by simply pushing a watermelon sized creature from their Vag.

4. You are a cool mum. Your children love you and enjoy your company. You do fun stuff together (even if you would rather not take them to a festival so you can lay face down in a pool of your own cider spew instead)

5. There is no such thing as perfect!

I wonder if anybody ever became the “perfect Mum”, if they fulfilled their ideas of family life or if we all just did things slightly differently. I can’t imagine those that I’ve seen snorting a line in a pub toilet on a weekend had aspired to be “That Mum”.

I also think about those ladies who for whatever reason despite desperately wanting to, haven’t been able to become a mum at all, I cannot begin to imagine how awful that ache and emptiness must feel. So although sometimes I feel like I’m far from perfect I know that I am grateful and I am lucky.

So ignore that cool festival family, step away from that unsuitable boy and get the drinks in before the next band starts, you’ve got a whole world of unconventional family life sneaking up on you very quickly!

Love from your older yet still as ridiculous self xx

Being 10

My boy loves to talk. He is obsessed with news and media so I said I would interview him. It's safe to say his obsession with the world and his dislike for Donald Trump has taken over.
Disclaimer- I didn't actually pull his arm off, his arm came out of the socket and it was his fault!! Bloody kids!

My name is Rory, my Mum writes this blog. She likes to write and I like to talk so as it is my birthday she let me write this post.

On Monday I will be 10, that's exciting. Here are some questions I answered about my life and my view on the world.

What Do You Want to be doing in 10 years?
I want to go to university or work in technology. I'd like to make robots. Don't worry it's a great idea, kids love robots. I'll go to the pub and probably live in Leeds.

What are 5 good things about you?

  • I can make people laugh
  • I like video games
  • I'm compassionate (mum-" do you know what that means" -erm something good)
  • I have a good imagination
  • I love animals

If you had 3 wishes what would they be?

  • For everyone to be happy

Don't write this – I could ask for infinite wishes but I won't because I'm compassionate

  • For poorly people to be better
  • For lonely people to have a friend

What is difficult about school?
If someone doesn't like your friend then they stop liking you and that isn't fair. I get cross sometimes and I worry that I will say something I shouldn't because some people will sprag on you. If you mess up people make fun of you.

What is it like to have dyspraxia?
It's not too bad. Nobody can really tell. I'm clumsy and not too good at sport but I still have fun. My writing isn't great but it's better. Maybe I could look at Harry's neat writing and learn how to do it.

What's your earliest memory?
Going on that Elizabeth bus thing, when I was sick on my Dad's head at Butlins and living in that little apartment where you pulled my arm off.

What are you scared of?
Bad people, like terrorists. It's really scary to think about them. They can ruin people's lives.

What world issue do you worry about?
Pollution, it could cause the end of the world. Donald Trump…he could too.

What would you hope for in the future for the world?
People to look after the earth and also no terrorism.

Where would you love to travel to?
America- it has lots of nice things…apart from Donald Trump, when is the next election? Maybe I'll wait and go after that.

What do you wish for your family?
That you are happy, that nothing bad happens and that we have lots of fun times.

So that's me, aged (almost) 10.

A Little List

  • Finn
  • Gabe
  • Noah
  • Leo
  • Manny
  • Hugo
  • Ellis
  • Wade
  • Asa
  • Rory

10 years ago I got myself a big old green notepad and wrote my list of potential baby names. I also wrote my baby a letter. It went like this……

To My Baby…..
I wanted to write something for you to look back at when you are old enough, to tell you about my pregnancy and about you as a baby so here goes.

I am writing to you in 2007, it’s a Monday night and I’m lying on a bed in the little bedroom of my mums house. I am 36 weeks pregnant and am due to give birth to you on the 18th of July so not long to go now.

I have had two scans so I have seen you wriggling around in my tummy twice. The first time I saw you you were opening and closing you tiny mouth. Your nanny was their too and she cried when she saw you on the screen, she was really very happy. I would have cried too if the lady wasn’t pressing so hard on my tummy making me feel faint.

It was at this scan I found out you were a boy, I was too impatient to just wait and see. You’ll learn that about me. Your head was right up near my lungs which is why my insides are squished and you have a little bit of hair. You only have a little while to turn around so you better get moving!

Pregnant ladies have really weird food cravings- mine aren’t so bad. I’m normally a bit of a pig but now I aren’t even ever that hungry. I have been eating…

  • Jelly sweets
  • Chocolate buttons (huge bags of them until I am sick)
  • Ice cream (note 4 cornettos in one day)

My bump is the only thing that has grown so I can still wear my normal clothes (there’s still time for that to go horribly wrong)
If I’m really fat when you are reading this then remind me that I wore a size 10 when I was pregnant so I have no excuse to be a whale now.

You have been to two gigs with me before you have even been born. How cool is that. We saw Babyshambles and Basement Jaxx. I cannot wait till you are old enough to be into music. Scott has invited us both to a gig in November but as you will be only 4 months old I think you had better stay home.

So that’s it for now. I’m excited for all the adventures we will have together and to see where our life will take us.

Your Mummy xx

And what an adventure we have had so far, it’s had its ups and downs, twists and turns. There are days I will never forget and days I wished we could. You are the strongest, most caring, clever boy I know. Obsessed with video games, the news and the American revolution (I blame Hamilton.haha)
You struggle on with some things yet others come to you with ease. I wish I could be next to you forever to solve all the tricky things for you yet I know you will always be fine as you always try your hardest.
I know that more than anything in the whole world you want me to be happy, I’m sorry that you’ve had to see my sadness but am confident you know that it is you and Addie that will always make me smile.

Next week you turn Ten. A milestone that seemed a million years away when I wrote that little baby name list.
I love that you are my Rory (although looking back at it now you’d probably have loved being Asa. Haha)

When I Grow Up + Clever Tykes Giveaway 

What does your child want to be when they grow up?  Let me guess…..

A firefighter? Nope

A Doctor? No not that

A Youtuber! I got it didn’t I?

I guess aspiring to be a Youtuber or Vlogger is a modern-day version of dreaming to be a rockstar or actor. Possible but probably not going to happen.

Sitting down with Rory and speaking to him about what job he would like to do (and getting over the initial “Youtuber” conversation) he had made some choice decisions. He likes the thought of working on video games or something techie. He would also like to own a Pizzeria, which considering he only decided he didn’t absolutely hate pizza last month is a bit of a radical career choice.

Addie on the other hand is still holding out hope of being a vet, Marceline (The Vampire Queen) or Taylor Swift!!!

I went through every job aspiration that ever existed when I was young. From an artist to an actor to a writer to a teacher to (and I quote) “I’m just going to live in London and get money and free stuff because I’m cool”. I eventually fell into a job I love and still have to be an artist and writer.

There are many books, films and TV shows where the main character becomes a princess or a superhero or a pop star. There are very few (none maybe?) about kids becoming computer programmers or business moguls.

Clever Tykes is a series of books aimed at primary school children aged 6-9 years. The books aim to introduce enterprise and life skills to children through the use of entrepreneurial role models. 
We were given the first three books in the series to read and review ourselves and to give away to you guys. The books are Walk-It Willow, Code-It Cody and Change-It Cho.

The first in the series, Walk-It Willow follows the story of a girl who turns her love of dogs into her very own dog walking business. The story, along with the others highlight decision-making, resourcefulness and the importance of hard work through the use of strong, likeable and realistic characters. The books also include target literacy and numeracy skills for key stage 2 level learning. Both of Addie and Rory (aged 7 and 9) enjoyed the books and happily chatted about their future careers for some time after reading them. They found all of the books good fun. Rory’s favourite was Code-it Cody and Addie’s was Walk-it Willow. 

Clever Tykes are a husband and wife team, Jodie and Ben. As well as being mentioned in Forbes Thirty under Thirty list and having their books stocked in high-end retailers such as Harrods and Selfridges, they also secured a deal to supply 23,000 books and resources to primary schools across the U.K. This is thanks to a sponsorship from Lloyds Banking Group. To learn more about enterprise education CLICK HERE or to register your school for this initiative Click Here

To win your own set of Clever Tykes books  comment below and let me know..

****As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?*****

And then follow the instructions on the gleam app below…

We Got One Thing x Clever Tykes Giveaway

A Confession! 

Before I start I feel this needs a disclaimer. This is about me, not a dig at anybody else, it is not a humble brag or woe is me, it is not a plea for a babysitter (even though it’s Bank Holiday Sunday and I’m sat watching kids TV. ) it is just a bit of  a whinge. So here it is, a confession. 

I am completely obsessed with my children but………

I would love, just every once in a while to do exactly what I please, whatever the f**k I want. I would love to go for drinks at lunch time and stay out till 4am. I would love to go to see my friends in London and not have to plan a military style operation 20 weeks in advance. I would love to stay in bed all morning, hungover and wearing last nights clothes. 

I often have problems with anxiety. The strangest things can make me want to hide from the world. I often avoid situations that make me uncomfortable. I hate asking people to babysit my children. It is literally my biggest cause of anxiety because for me, if they say no, that’s it! My plans have to change, and by plans I don’t just mean nights out I mean appointments and meetings and even work. My whole world revolves around who can pick my children up from school if I can’t. 

I know I’m not alone, I know it’s not just us single Mums and Dads who struggle with this. But how nice it must be to be able to say “oh I’m going out on Friday for whoevers birthday” instead of having to ask for permission. 

Anybody who knows me will know that my kids don’t see their Dad too often. I don’t need to go into detail but their nights with him are few and far between and organised at the last minute. They always have certain t&c’s (always midweek etc) I envy people who have a good relationship with their ex’s (in fact I’m jealous of those who have bad relationships and set weekends just as much) 

I am lucky that I have people, that my Mum and Dad and Sister will be my go to babysitters, that they understand how difficult it is for me sometimes. They help so much so that I can work that I’m afraid to ask for extras like nights out and meals and things. I have ex-inlaws who also help when they can but they are often busy and have other grandchildren to look after too. 

I love spending time with my kids, people don’t always understand that 99% of my spare time is spent with them. I am forever turning down invitations and saying no, sorry and can’t see that changing anytime soon but most of my friends get it. 

Do all parents long for a little “me time” (I hate that phrase)? Am I the only one who thinks like this or just the only one stupid enough to admit it? Does anybody else have the same anxiety as me when it comes to asking for childcare? 

The Girl with Big Eyes and Big Ideas

I have worried about you every single day since I knew you existed. I worried that I wouldn’t know how to manage with a girl, I had mastered being a Mum to a boy ( as difficult as it was at times) Was I girly enough myself to be the right kind of mum to you? 

I worried the day that I started to bleed and all my fears about being a good “girl mum” disappeared. I sat in the Early Pregnancy Unit amongst distraught Mums who had lost their tiny babies in utero and prayed to a God I didn’t even believe in, begging that you would be ok.

When you arrived one week early I was worried as I bled and bled and bled. I worried about blood transfusions and that I may have to leave you to fend for yourself in your first days.

You were tiny and yellow and spewy and your brother was scared to death of you. You were sick every single day and I worried it may never stop. You had a million outfits and I still find bags of barely worn baby clothes to this day as I bought more and more to replace the ones that you ruined with your acidic spit. Yet still you thrived.

My post-natal depression meant that I worried about leaving the house, I was scared of the whole world and needed to protect you from it. I hated people looking into your pram, saying your name wrong, talking about how much you looked like your Dad. I would have bundled you up forever if you didn’t need the sunlight to help your teeny body. 

When your Dad left I worried how you would cope, you cried constantly through the nights and sometimes I would hold you close and cry with you. I look at pictures of you from then and wonder how anybody could walk away from a girl so small and so sad and just be ok about it.  

You were left with a world full of promises that were never met yet once again you thrived. You learnt the importance of family and loyalty and love. You became brave and honest and bold.

That little girl with the big eyes and big ideas now knew how life sometimes kicks you, hard, that no matter how much you want something you don’t always get it and how sometimes what seems like the worst thing in the world turns out to be the beginning of something amazing. 

I look at you now as your about to turn 7 years old and although I will always worry about you till the day I die, I know that you are the most wonderful girl there ever could be. I am endlessly proud of, yet cannot take credit for who you are today, you are too strong willed and independent to be moulded into anything other than exactly who you want to be. 

So here’s to you Addie, (named after the kindest Queen Adelaide and St Adelaide, patron of families and princesses and empresses)  the perfect third link in our little chain. You are bold enough to be whoever you want to be and I am so proud of all that you are, every quirky, beautiful little part of you. Happy Birthday