Thursday, 30 July 2009

A breastfeeding picnic

After a glorious, sun-filled morning by the pool, in my local park, my son and I wandered home. We passed our local uber trendy baby shop and in the window was a poster, it said:

“Picnic in the Park: For families and breastfeeding families”.

I have to say I have never been so shocked by an ‘and’ in all my life. I read it and re read it. “Families and breastfeeding families”. On the way home I kept rolling the phrase around in my head. How can the way in which a baby is fed, define a family? We like to pretend that it doesn’t exist, but there it was in black and white, the proof that when it comes to babies and boobs we have to take sides.

There is an invisible line which divides breastfeeders and bottlefeeders. To the untrained eye we all look the same. There is no malice between us. We can mingle, respect the others choice and often be the best of friends, but at the end of the day we either belong to one camp or another.

One of these camps is definitely more fashionable. Although the health professionals try to walk the line between encouraging breastfeeding and not sitting in judgement at those who don’t, one thing is sure; nobody ever congratulates you when you’re a bottle feeder and tells you that you are doing the best for your baby. Everybody always says “It’s what works for you”. Yeah right.

If you are breastfeeding however; then once you have uttered those magic words “I’m breastfeeding” nobody questions you. But if you’re not breastfeeding somehow it’s everybody’s business and open season on your breasts with total strangers.

“Are you breastfeeding?” the man says looking directly at my breasts. Several things go through my mind at this point and one of them is “Would it be inappropriate to tell you about my nipple scabs?”

Just to be clear about this. I have nothing against breastfeeders. I wasn’t breastfed, but this didn’t bother me. I was always willing to give it a go because I am a champagne hippy. However; I don’t really like people fucking with my tits so I had an inkling that I wouldn’t be a champion breastfeeder. I’d prefer it if you didn’t tweak my nipples during foreplay unless I’m royally shitfaced and too numb to care. The bottom line is I tried breastfeeding. It didn’t work. Big deal?

What I really resented, was having to go into great personal detail about why I thought I might not be a breastfeeder. If I ever mentioned that I wasn’t breastfed, in an attempt to try to explain why I thought I wouldn’t be able to, people jumped down my throat hysterically to tell me that this had no bearing on my ability to breastfeed.

I wanted to scream “I’m not just following in some pointless family tradition! My nipples are hyper sensitive. I deeply suspect that my mother and I have a similar trait which means we just don’t want to be touched in that area and excuse me if I haven’t actually discussed my mother’s sexual preferences with her!”

Suffice to say that I won’t be attending the picnic for families and breastfeeding families, primarily because I have serious concerns about what people are going to be eating at this picnic. There’s bound to be tofu (something else I have grappled with and failed) and possibly quiche made with free range eggs and breastmilk. Although, as a bottlefeeder I’d be on the unfashionable side of the picnic blanket with all the other ‘bad’ mums…..where at least a girl might get a glass of wine.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Getting back in the ring - Part 2

As I was saying.....and now comes the dirty part (hope I don't disappoint).......

My days as a 'stay-at-home-mum' are numbered. I can count them on one hand. To recap: I don't really want to return to work but I have little choice.

I've been berating myself because out of nowhere I am suddenly an aspiring housewife. There's been a whole spin cycle of thoughts going round in my head. Then, when I read back a line like that I think to myself, shit! If I'm thinking in domestic appliance metaphors I need to get the fuck back to work.

Didn't I used to be a feminist? Through all these frustrations and moments of self-loathing I keep placating myself with the word 'choice'. Women didn't fight for the right to vote and return to work after childbearing, they fought for the right to choose to do those things. The kick in the teeth here is that we still don't really have much choice. Now the buggers have wangled it so that we think we have equality but really we're fucked every way we look. And I mean fucked. Think about it.

These days we have to bring up children and do the majority of the housework. We also have to work so that we can pay the mortgage on our overpriced houses that we then spend the rest of our lives cleaning. Not only do we still do most of the child-rearing but on top of everything else we have to be 'Yummy Mummies' getting back into our skinny jeans within two weeks of giving birth, change nappies whilst wearing false nails, cook sumptuous feasts like Nigella Lawson and take it up the arse. Yes, you read that right. Take it up the arse.

It really bugs me that, for men, anal sex has become a desirable right of passage (pun intended). Yes, I've heard that some women like it and this minority make it pretty shitty for the rest of us (OK I'm all out of puns now)..........actually come to think of it it's only ever men that tell me that women enjoy being sodomised. No woman has ever confided in me, a love of buggery. OK, maybe one, but she was going through a very difficult pregnancy which resulted in her crashing a PC and a laptop with her insatiable appetite for back-passage internet porn - but that's a story for another day. Within this context anal sex is wholly acceptable and besides, I think she had a preference for watching it. So if any ladies out there want to prove me wrong, go ahead and declare yourselves.....

I don't know about you but I can't help thinking that if this is what they call equality, then it fucking sucks. Drag me back to the 1970's where I can be a happy housewife, watch Miss World, bake meatloaf and get a patronising pat on the arse once in a while (actually far less offensive than a penis up your arse). Miss World may have been demeaning to women but at least those women ate. Today we're supposed to look up to a bunch of airbrushed anorexics wearing clothes we can't afford. And as for meatloaf, your husband was fucking pleased to get meatloaf back in those days. At least you knew where you were in the 70's and you weren't being fobbed off with some pseudo-equality: patriarchy dressed up in drag. Don't listen to those bastards when they tell you that everything is becoming's a pile of shit.

OK. Rant over. I smell bad and I have no wine. I'm going to get a bath and drink my nail polish remover and hope that my arse isn't required tonight.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Getting back in the ring - Part 1

A few weeks back when I was out walking with my great aunt, she said to me with a knowing grin "I bet you can't remember what you did before he came along."

Actually, although my brain is definitely losing its edge I can remember what I did before my son came along. Namely; I dressed better, wore more make-up, drank more cocktails, stayed out late and, as a rule, pitied people who did have children. When I mentioned this my father simply said "But for all that she still doesn't want to go back to work."

Good point. I don't.

I really, really, really don't.

If you had told me 5 years ago that I would one day have a baby and want to give up working I would have done one of two things: either laughed at you until you died and decomposed or shot you there and then.

I mean, I love a Cath Kidston apron like most women, but the idea that I would use it for anything other than decorative purposes while I swapped my social whirl for a whirlpool was unthinkable.

I have until recently, been putting this down to a sudden biological urge. Nature takes over and all of a sudden you want to spend every waking moment with this amazing human being you have created. But that's a load of shit because I actually spend a fair amount of my day trying to get away from the amazing human being I have created.

The other day I found myself wishing that my son would take his nap so that I could get some time on e-bay and when he wakes me in the morning my first instinct is, "For fuck's sake - is it that time already?"

So, now I'm actually working through the theory that I'm just lazy. I can't be arsed to work. Motherhood is hard work of course, but its hard work that includes a lot of blowing bubbles, walking round the park on a sunny day and, if you're lucky, opening a bottle of wine before 3pm. The alternative is to work your arse off, only to be used and abused with shitty wages to match. At least my son smiles at me, unlike your average colleague.

Other mothers have put it to me that although they stayed at home with their children, it got to the stage where they wished they had gone back to work a couple of days a week to keep their toes in the water. Five years after devoting their entire lives to their offspring, they find themselves totally daunted by careers they previously took in their stride.

There is no dilemma for me. I cannot afford to be a stay-at-home-mum and as much as I may resent being forced back to work if I woke up in five years time and was afraid to go back, that would be worse. I may want to be 'Mum' today but tomorrow when my child goes to school what the hell do I do with myself then? Who am I, if I allow myself to be totally absorbed by another?

There are several more paragraphs to this particular blog entry. But I'm not going to write them now and here is the reason. My internet is down and where I would usually be quaffing wine, typing away and watching the world go by from my window I am actually in a public library. I thought this would be fun. An hour by myself to write seemed like heaven. It isn't. So you will have to excuse any little typing errors because libraries used to be quiet. The other reason I have to break it off here is that the next few paragraphs are dirty and controversial and when I logged in I agreed that I wouldn't 'misuse' this PC. I actually have no idea what constitutes misuse of this PC and plus I have people either side of me who are probably reading this. In view of the fact that I have already used the words 'fuck', 'shitty' and 'arse' I may already have broken this promise. So folks, stay tuned for part's going to get hardcore.

Friday, 17 July 2009

And when did you last see your vagina?

It dawned on me the other day that I hadn’t looked at my vagina in almost a year. I mean, I know its there because I’ve used it. But I hadn’t had a good in-between-the legs-with-a mirror, kind of look.

The last time I did look was shortly after I had given birth. Although I had in mind a hippyesque home birth, all did not go quite to plan and I ended up in hospital sporting stitches. Nothing major happened but in terms of my birth plan (and who the fuck read that?) everything that I didn’t want to happen, happened. Well, that’s the way it goes.

A few days later when I needed to shit, I feared for my life.

So, I phoned Cupcake, who had been with me through everything.

“I need to shit. How many stitches did I have?” I asked, “and how far apart are they?”

Unable to give me exactly the answers I desired, I knew this was something I had to do. So armed with an angle poised lamp, a towel and a mirror, I went off in private to investigate. I expected to see something that looked like it had been mauled by a Rottweiler. It looked a lot better than it felt. I couldn’t really see the stitches, though I knew they were there, by god did I know they were there. Since then I haven’t looked at all. I haven’t even had a frickin’ wax! Soon my son is going to be a year old. I think it’s about time I got my shit together. Don’t you?

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Guilty Pleasures

I have a friend called Chanel No.5. Obviously that’s not her real name but if I did tell you her real name I would probably have to kill you. I’ve known this lady for about 4 years. I’m calling her Chanel No. 5 because I suspect she owns 5 pieces of Chanel. There’s at least four that I know about.

Before you make any assumptions, here are four interesting facts about Chanel No. 5.

1.) She has a variety of piercings including her tongue and the back of her neck.
2.) She has climbed Kilimanjaro
3.) She rides a scooter
4.) She doesn’t have a TV

Now try to find a box that she fits in.

Once, not long after we’d met, I asked her what she was doing at the weekend. She replied that she was getting married. Just like that. No fuss, no going on and on and on about her dress and her wedding colour scheme and her cake and her fucking petal-throwing page boys. She just did it.

I’ve never been a labels girl. I don’t buy into that crap that just because my chest has the words Calvin Klein written on it that that somehow makes me a more fashionable or more interesting person. In fact if anything, designer T-shirts make you look even more deprived than you actually are. Designer T-shirts were surely invented for those who couldn’t afford the actual label but wanted to align themselves with those that could. Now, of course there are hundreds of kids called Chanel, Gucci and Prada scampering around council estates and I have first hand evidence from the woman who registered my son’s birth, that there is a boy called Rolex and twins called Dolce and Gabbana running around this planet. I kid you not.

Anyway, I’m straying from the point. Despite my dislike of labels, there’s something about Chanel that does it for me. It conjures up a time when a woman never left the house without wearing her hat and gloves, and the world was full of debutantes and dance cards and perfectly coiffured ladies who wore pearls in the day and who never wore diamonds before 7pm. I’m a sucker for a bit of old world glamour. So, I admit it. It’s my guilty desire to own a Chanel handbag.

Years ago, I was in a lift with an ordinary looking woman and glinting under the strip light, tucked under her arm, was her little black Chanel handbag. I was at the same time envious and disgusted. I wanted it but I realised how guilty I would feel walking around with it. Yes, that’s right; I have a serious case of middle class guilt. Middle class guilt and Chanel meet regularly for tussles within me.

Chanel No. 5 is a bit like the lift woman. She is well dressed, in an understated way; but if you look very closely you will see a glinting gem here and there. I drool over her collection of handbags and when I peek under the restaurant table I see a pair of patent YSL’s twinkling away at me; the little minx.

Chanel No. 5 doesn’t want any children. I never put myself at that end of the spectrum, but couldn’t help agreeing with her when she moaned about the driven, career-minded women she knew, who all of sudden became mothers, moved to the suburbs and started baking cherry tarts.

When my son was born she came to the house and gave me some exquisite Italian biscuits but only if I promised not to make her hold the baby. I wasn’t offended at all. I thought it was hilarious.

About once a month I have dinner or drinks with Chanel No. 5 and another friend, Helena Rubenstein. Last time we met up Chanel No. 5 was telling me a story about a friend whose son had just learned to walk. My face softened, I went all gooey and I pulled a 'Mum' face. It was instinctive. I could feel myself doing it but it was over before I could think to stop.

“I can’t believe you just did that!” she said to me, truly shocked.

“What’s happened to you?”

I didn’t have an answer for that one. I barely knew myself.

Chanel No. 5 is my regulator. She reminds me of how I used to be. She stops me from moving to the suburbs and baking cherry tarts and when I’m with her I can put aside my child, and my middle class guilt, and covet her Chanel.

Friday, 10 July 2009

The 'Bad Mother' Charts

It’s 10 past five on a Friday night and I’m on my second instalment of wine. Combine that with the fact that in the last 24 hours my son has fallen off the bed twice and you can see how I’m slowly edging my way up the ‘Bad Mother’s list’.

These are how the charts are looking so far:

No. 3 Jordan aka Katie Price

No. 2 Kerry Katona, (for Iceland crimes against children)

I had myself at 4th place today until I was in Primark (Hackney) and I heard a woman say to her child,

“I’ve just abaat ‘ad enuff ov dis, oo der fuck d’ you fink you are?”

OK lady, you win. I’ve now put myself at 5th place because I’m far too middle class to actually direct the word ‘fuck’ at my child. Daytime drinking however; is perfectly acceptable…..

At number one of course, the woman who will probably stay there for evermore, is Karen Matthews. Now, it would take some seriously bad parenting to beat that record. Only if you actually killed and ate your own child would you make it to the top of the list. Doesn’t that make you feel better………?

Thursday, 9 July 2009


Any day now my son is going to break my nose. That’s if I don’t break his first.

Neither of us is trying to break the other’s nose. It’s just that he uses my face as a climbing wall and I keep leaving him unattended just long enough for him to attempt some crazy stunt that even those Dirty Sanchez geezers wouldn’t do.

Place your bets ladies and gentlemen…..

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

The M.I.L.F

“Whoring”: A term that refers to meeting and going on ‘dates’ with other mums whom you have met through baby related websites

I have this friend who I’ll call ‘Cupcake’. She has three children, her youngest being about 3 months old. She, like me, has been whoring and collected a whole new set of mum friends. Her favourites are the naughty ones, “Perhaps, it would be quicker to ask me which drugs I haven’t done?” was a particular favourite. But Cupcake has, what I refer to as, a high-friendship-threshold. She is just too nice, to too many people even if she ends up feeling shitty as a result.

One of the women she has met is incredibly beautiful, incredibly thin and incredibly rich. I’ve called Cupcake’s friend a few things in my time but for our purposes you’ll know her as ‘Vanity Fair’. It is very easy to dislike somebody you have never met. It is especially easy to dislike somebody when they have made your friend feel shitty. Yes, there may be a hint of superficial jealousy at the heart of my feelings. I am, after all, only human and utterly fallible.

When they first met, Cupcake and Vanity Fair were clearly from different worlds. The one thing they did have in common was that they were both pregnant. Though at first their relationship was a little strained, good old Cupcake persevered. I questioned her logic but Cupcake couldn’t really put her finger on why she was pursuing the friendship.

Over the following weeks Cupcake and Vanity Fair kept meeting. Vanity Fair couldn’t help taking every opportunity to reiterate how privileged and utterly fabulous her life was. I wondered how this woman was going to cope once a baby gatecrashed her life? I told my friend that everything would be different once the baby arrived. I pictured Vanity Fair with wild hair, dark circles under her eyes with teeth that hadn’t been cleaned in two days, weeping whilst holding her baby. After all, labour day was fast approaching.

So, whilst Cupcake, like a goodun’, squeezed out number three, in three pushes, with a wail unlike anything I have ever heard before; her friend Vanity Fair, recovered after an elective Caesarean whilst the doula, the nanny, the cleaner, dog walker, masseuse and her husband kept her world turning. In her high-ceilinged, Georgian apartment she invited the other whores to tea, ordering in the city’s best pastries and holding court with her clinking china, manicured nails and perfectly groomed, totally unruffled, back-to-a-size-eight self.

Cupcake’s household, in comparison, included a hormonal teenager, a three year old boy constantly on a scooter, a husband, a new baby, a leaking washing machine, a pile of washing that never went down and a pile of bills that were constantly going up. She couldn’t afford a manicurist and it would have been pointless anyway seeing as this requires nails. Understandably, every time Cupcake and Vanity Fair met up, Cupcake couldn’t help coming away feeling a little bit shitty.

“I know why I’m doing this” said Cupcake one day “because it’s my problem, not hers. It’s not her fault that she is thin and gorgeous and rich. It’s about how I feel and I’ve got to get over it.” Cupcake would never call herself a feminist but I respected her enormously for the way she had rationalised this situation with her friend. Cupcake now approached her relationship with Vanity Fair with a renewed vigour and all went well for a while.

A few days later I received a phone call.

“Ok I’ve had enough.” said Cupcake “we ended up going into Topshop. Of course Topshop is like Primark to her. She clears the rails of everything in a size eight. We go into the changing rooms together. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. I had about four items. When I tried them on they all looked wrong. She on the other hand looked fabulous in everything and bought everything.

The only thing that I tried on that I liked was this little playsuit thing, but smart - quite classy. She tells me she already has it in her wardrobe, in a size bloody 8 of course, then tells me that when she last wore it she was walking down the street in her heels, with the pram and her husband and people were shouting “MILF! MILF!” at her.”

So I’m standing there in this playsuit which I thought looked quite cute, thinking about what she just said when she turns and says to me “I know you don’t want to hear this but have you thought about trying it on in a size 16?”

I could feel Cupcake’s pain. I wanted to hold her and squeeze every inch of her, size 16 or otherwise. Then she unleashed herself and roared.

“I just fucking want someone to shout MILF! MILF! at me!”

The moral of this story is: don’t hang out with people who make you feel shitty - especially when you have just had a baby. Save your energy for breastfeeding and opening wine. If you are very talented you might be able to do both of these things at the same time.