Sob story – I think motherhood has turned me into a cry baby…

My name is Gem and I’m a crier.


It’s that time of year again where I seem to spend most of my days getting emotional about literally everything.

I’m not joking, I don’t think there is a day that goes by at the moment where I don’t ugly cry at something.

It could be an advert about nappies, it could be a rare moment of affection and love between my boys, it could be a new bottle of Gin arriving in the food delivery that sets me off. I really do seem to turn on the waterworks at anything.

I am pretty sure my husband must think that I have finally lost the plot.

The summer term at school is always a hard one. There is loads going on day to day, there’s lots to remember, there’s uncertainty, questions, angst, stress, laughter, memories made, milestones reached and it’s all starting to take it’s toll on me.

I seriously don’t think I used to cry as much pre-kids. I have always been an emotional person (the sort to cry at TV shows and don’t even try to get me to watch Children in Need or suchlike, I just can’t) but I am pretty certain that motherhood has made my tendency to sob worse.

Just last week I think I cried about 15 times. Here are some of the things that set me off, some trivial, some not so;

– Ben telling me thank you at bedtime for giving him cuddles all day.

– All three boys eating the same dinner, sitting for the whole mealtime without me shouting at them for using their cutlery as weapons against each other like they normally do and finishing everything on their plates.

paddling pool brothers

– Listening to a song by someone called Agnes Obel (September Song – it was used in Big Little Lies on Sky Atlantic and I love it)

– Watching my middle one in his class assembly say his lines. For someone that didn’t say ‘Mummy’ until he was 4 and had speech therapy, I always get emotional seeing how far he has come when he does some public speaking.

– Listening to my middle one and his class sing their songs in their class assembly (Lean on by Bill Withers and History by One Direction – both got me right in the feels)

– Thinking about the fact my eldest only has 2 years left at Primary school.

Son being a cool dude

– Thinking about my middle one’s wonderful teacher leaving next week – she is one of the most lovely people I have ever met.

– Reaching the bottom of the washing basket for 2 whole hours.

– Having to say goodbye and go the funeral of my Auntie’s Grandma who was 102 years old – what a woman she was and what changes she saw in her lifetime. The vicar explained that when she was born in 1915, the first ever telephone call happened. Can you imagine the leaps in technology she has lived through, as well as witnessing 2 World Wars?! Astounding.

– Watching the last episode of Breaking Bad (yeah, we were late to the party there but what a series!!!)

– Having an argument with some fondant icing and ripping the head off something I had made in a fit of rage. Somewhat satisfying as well I have to say.

– Panicking about what I need to remember for the last 2 weeks of school and how I am going to fit everything in that I need to get done before the kids finish for summer holidays.

– Looking back at photos of my family and the kids.

Dorset kids on the beach

– My eldest coming out with some hilarious sayings and sounding really grown up. The comedian in me was super proud of his sarcasm, even if it was verging on cheekiness.

– Being told by my husband that a cake I made was actually, quote, “Pretty good”. High praise indeed from him.

Oh man, I’m starting to get all emosh just writing all this down! See, I told you I’m a crier.


 I actually hate the fact I am a crier. It’s super embarrassing.

Every time I feel like I am going to start wailing, I tell myself not to. I give myself a metaphorical slap around the chops and try to pull myself together, but to no avail. I’ll manage for a minute or two and then, once the floodgates have opened, that’s it. I’m like Paul Gascoigne after England crashed out of Italia ’90.

Last week, I knew I was going to cry at Zak’s assembly before I had even seen it. I read the script he was practicing with because I thought I might not find it as emotional if I’d got it all out of my system at home but no, I still sobbed like a lunatic whilst they spoke about being brave moving into year 3, about saying goodbye to their friends and reminiscing about all the fun they’d had as a class over the last 3 years. I was massively thankful that Ben piped up and demanded a piddle towards the end of it because I had snot dripping from my nose and makeup smudged all over myself like a crying clown. What a numpty.

via GIPHY

Brothers

I even looked at techniques online to apparently help stop yourself from crying;

– Pulling your bottom eyelids down (yeah Gem, because that wouldn’t look weird in front of the whole school and all the parents of your son’s class would it…)

– Pinching the bit of skin between your thumb and pointing finger really hard.

– Deep breathing.

– Singing a jolly song in your head (I chose always look on the bright side of life. That was a bad choice – it made me cry).

– Counting in your head.

– Looking up (again Gem, you’d have looked like a bit of an idiot doing that, either like you’re bored or doing some serious soul searching)

None of those things worked. None of them.

Utter bullshit.

I just cannot, stop, sobbing!!!!

Next week when it’s the end of term I am going to be even worse *goes off to google more ‘stop yourself from crying’ techniques*. We have leavers/end of year assembly at school and even though none of my kids are leaving, I will still cry. We have to say goodbye to my middle one’s teacher for good, again I will probably ugly cry in front of her and the entire class. We have to say goodbye to my little one’s preschool manager who is also one of the most lovely people ever (she is off to live in Dubai…noooooo!), the 3 year old has his preschool booster jabs and is going to hate me forever for letting them jab him up and we just have day to day carnage and shit to remember. I think I might be a complete wreck by next Friday and be on intravenous Gin.

I am fully preparing myself for another couple of weeks of snotty nosed sobbing before the summer holidays hit, and then I’ll probably just be crying through stress. Please be kind to me summer holidays…

*Sob*

 Dprset sunset




Extraordinary Moments (With Cow and Gate)

*This is an advertorial post in collaboration with Cow & Gate Growing Up Milk.*

Imaginary play. A fundamental part of toddlerhood.

Imagination can help them learn about the world around them, it’s how they learn to communicate with others and it allows them to express themselves without restraint.

I’ll be honest with you all, I do sometimes struggle to find the enthusiasm to play trains or bus drivers with my toddler. It’s not because I’m lazy or uninterested, but life is so hectic and there is always that ‘wait a minute, I just need to do something’ moment isn’t there?

“Wait a minute, I need to put the washing on!” or, “Wait a minute, I just need to send this email”.

Before you know it, all those ‘wait a minutes’ have accumulated into a whole day passing you by and then, as bedtime arrives, the guilt sets in.

“Why didn’t I sit and play with him a bit more today?”

You look at your little one in their bed, all snuggled up and peaceful, dreaming about their day and you vow to create something fun for them to do tomorrow.

toddler ready for bed

I always ensure I spend time at the end of the day reading a bedtime story to my kids. Sometimes my eldest will read to everyone, other times I will do it, but it’s nice to have that little bit of time to ‘just be’ together and enjoy a moment.

Once that is over, I often sit with our toddler until he is asleep. I use this time to tell our littlest one about our day and he will often nod in agreement at what I’m saying until he is fast asleep.

Precious, calm moments that are one of the highlights of the day.

Day’s with a toddler, when they aren’t at preschool, can often be quite long, especially if they’re having a ‘bad day’. My toddler has lots of those, thanks terrible two’s!

I have begun making more of an effort to do crafts and activities at home but I can often get a bit stuck in a rut.  Drawing, sticker books, painting, going to the park, going for a walk, making a train track, the usual.

But what if you think outside the box?

What if these ordinary moments could become extraordinary?

A walk down a path to the park could actually be a walk on the moon!

Or a box that a parcel comes in could actually be a castle!

Or that a toy guitar actually works and you’re a rock star on the big stage!

The possibilities are endless!

This is where the new Cow and Gate Growing Up Milk, Extraordinary moments campaign comes in.

You’re able to take an ‘ordinary moment’ captured during your day and make it ‘extraordinary’ using their simple storybook maker.

Just select which story you’d like, upload a landscape photo, add in your child’s name and your own, give them your email address and they do the rest.

They also suggest super simple, but fun, activity ideas to do with your toddler  based around the story you choose.

The technical whizzes then turn your photo into an online storybook with a difference to inspire your child to look back on their day at bedtime through different eyes. That wasn’t just a stick they found, it was a magic wand, perhaps?

An inspiring way, to end your day.

Myself and Ben made a storybook which turned him into a rock star! (His Daddy is a bit of a wannabe rock god and this seems to be rubbing off on Ben already. He loves to rock out!)

We went on the Extraordinary Moments webpage and selected some of the activities and crafts to do together during the day and then I made sure I took some photos of him.

We used a dandelion clock as a microphone, we made a drum/shaker from an old tin, a balloon, some rice and an elastic band and he used a toy guitar to ‘rock out’ to some of his favourite songs. We had a lot of fun doing it too.

balloon instrument craft

Once our photo was uploaded, we submitted it and waited for our story to be emailed. This takes no more than 24 hours.

Here is how Ben’s rock star story panned out…

Cute eh?!


What Extraordinary Moments will you have together? Why not have a go yourself? 

Click here to make your own Extraordinary Moments with Cow and Gate!




The day we shared socks…

Today, something momentous happened.

Let me explain.

I had to go shopping for some new clothes for my eldest today, because I noticed this weekend that he had grown like Hulk and was literally busting out of his stuff. He must have grown about 2 inches taller over Christmas alone and his jeans unintentionally looked like hipster ankle grazers. Not cool when you’re 8, almost 9, apparently and he isn’t able to grow the signature hipster beard just yet.

Anyhow, I went into H&M, threw a load of stuff into a basket and went off to pay. I then remembered that both me and Luke needed new socks. Just black ankle socks, nothing fancy. I rummaged through the sock bin and found a pack of 8 black ankle socks, size 1.5 to 3.5. “That’ll do nicely”, I thought. I then went to look for some for myself but in the process of walking to the checkout I got distracted by the sale rack (oops! I promise I didn’t buy anything*…ahem *bullshit) and forgot all about my own new socks.

Once I got home, I sorted out Luke’s clothes drawers. I took out all the trousers and tops that were too small, which revealed his ankles and belly, and replaced them with the new ones. Age 10-11 in most instances. Age 10-11?! He was only born a couple of years ago dammit!

(No, he wasn’t Gemma, he was born in 2008, that’s verging on 10 years ago love).

Luke Bubbles Edited

And that’s when it hit me, like a poo falling and hitting the water in a toilet. You have been a mum for almost a decade. 10 bloody years!

(And yet I still don’t know what the sodding hell I’m doing!)

I then looked at the socks I just bought for him and noticed the size of them. They were enormous! It then dawned on me that we could now do the unthinkable. We can share socks. He has got that big that we can now divide a pack of socks up between us and share them. It’s just utter madness.

I know it’s a cliche, but time really has flown, though it didn’t feel like it when he was a newborn. I remember those early days with Luke all too vividly – forever etched in my brain. Some days I couldn’t get dressed because I was so overwhelmed. The thought of leaving him in his cot just to shower stressed me out. I was adamant I should try and feed him myself, but this meant the entire burden of keeping this little dude alive was entirely on me for 6 months, and when it was pointed out to me that he was ‘quite small and skinny’ I took it really personally and blamed myself. He hardly slept and I was exhausted (Sidenote – this kid didn’t sleep through the night until he was 19 months old. 19 months of broken sleep!) and yet, through all that baby chaos and stress, you still look back on it and wish you were back there in an odd way. Well, I do anyway. As tough as the baby years were, I do miss my cuddles with little baby Luke, when everything was so new and we were finding our way together (and he didn’t answer me back). I also can’t believe where all those years in between then have gone. Those first smiles, rolling over for the first time, crawling, going off to pre-school, their first party invite, their first sports day, starting ‘big school’, their first fall without you there to pick them up and hug it better, their first school disco, the first time they say “you’re the worst mum ever!”

The list of firsts grows ever longer.

He’s 8 now, almost 9, and I am fast realising that this is a very difficult transitional age for a kid (and parents!). They act grown up one moment, full of compassion, understanding, very articulate and reasonable and then in the next moment, bam! Teenoddler mode is initiated. Yup, you read that right, Teenoddler. It’s half teen, half toddler. It’s one of the most terrifying things I have witnessed as a parent thus far (I know there are more terrifying things to come but so far, this is the worst). Screaming, crying, insults, hysteria, anger, punching things, name calling, you name it, it happens during a Teenoddler tantrum. Most of our meltdowns are due to homework at the moment, it’s a constant battleground. Don’t get me wrong, Luke is doing fine at school and is VERY eager to please his teacher, but at home? Pah! Not a chance. I even mention homework and I end up with Kevin the teenager on my hands…

“This is so unfair! I hate you!”

via GIPHY

It’s frightening how quick they change once they start school. I keep going into panic mode that he only has 2 years left at Primary school. That’s 2 more Christmases, 3 more sports days, 2 more ‘carefree’ summer holidays. When I say it like that, it fills me with dread. I don’t think I am ready for those teenage years if I can’t cope with the stroppy, almost 9 year old, phase. I foresee lots of gadget bans and pocket money deductions…

I am sure once we hit those teenage years I will look back on those chaos filled baby days even more fondly. I have deluded ideas of being a ‘cool mum’ who has a wonderful relationship with her teenage son, but the way things are going, the silent strops, the Teenoddler tantrums where he’s walking off into school without saying goodbye to me that we often have nowadays, I honestly worry that this won’t be the case. We try our best as parents don’t we. But sadly there is no guidebook, nobody to tell us we are doing it right (but there are plenty of people out there on the world wide web who are all too happy to tell you when you’re doing things wrong).

Parenting.

Gin inducing.

Sanity breaking…

…but we wouldn’t change it for the world.

Would we?

There will come a day pretty soon that we won’t be able to share socks again, because he will have grown too big and his socks will swamp my little feet. I just hope I have done a good job by then and I’ve got my cuddly boy back.

Image result for black socks




Super (angry) Eight…

Blimey.

What a weekend…and what a Monday morning. I awoke with good intentions and vowed I wasn’t going to raise my voice today, but that went out the window at 7:30am (yep, that early) when all 3 boys decided to bicker and recreate wrestle mania in the living room. I ignored it to a point, but there are only so many squeals and shouts you can let go before your boiler blows.

Seriously, Dry September was a bad idea.

Do you know what, it wasn’t that long ago in a time BC (before children) that I used to look forward to the weekend – lazy mornings and leisurely breakfasts followed by a spot of shopping  (without a child going off their head as soon as you cross the threshold in H&M) or a leisurely walk somewhere (ok, by somewhere I mean to a pub) – but these days, as terrible as it sounds, the weekends can be more of a battle ground than a time of relaxing and tranquility. Now, I’m not solely blaming my 8 year old for this change in my feelings for the weekend but I have to tell you all, he really isn’t helping much at the moment.

When you’re expecting your first baby, you often think about what the baby will look like once it’s here, you imagine how things will be with a new little person in your life and you look forward to the baby/toddler milestones, starting their schooling and then them becoming an adult. Now, I don’t know about you guys, but (maybe rather ignorantly) the ‘no man’s land’ of 7-12 year old’s I never really gave much thought. I’ve come to the conclusion that at the age of 7, children (well mine anyway) change. They’re at a an age where they think they are grown up but they aren’t really at all and that, I think, is what I’m finding really tricky.

Luke is a lovely lad. He will be 9 in February.

A boy looking at the fish in a fish shop.

He’s always been a thinker, perhaps an over-thinker if truth be told (I’ve no idea where he gets that from…ahem) and he’s also very caring. This personality combination however, as lovely as it is, now he is 8, seems to manifest itself as worry most of the time and worry, these days, can often turn to anger. I know, “What on earth does an 8 year old have to worry about?” I hear you ask. Well, lots it would appear.

Now Luke is 8 (so old) and in Year 4 at school, the expectation and what is required of them has ramped up to a point that even us parents are in shock. At the age of 8, they are expected to relay important information from the teachers to us (yes, we laughed too, I don’t think Luke could remember what he had for lunch let alone some very important information from his teacher), remember their belongings and personal diary (after school/lunchtime clubs etc) do at 30 minutes of reading/homework per night and also cope with the daily demands of being in the midst of  a ‘I think I am grown up but really I still need my parents’ phase. It’s pretty tough.

The weekends are now often spent trying to snatch family time in between the mundane necessities of modern life as well as juggling homework and other social commitments. The calmness of the weekends that once were have been replaced by a chaotic cycle of waking up, me ranting, having a bit of fun (we do have some believe it or not) and then going to bed for it all to start over again.

The lack of ‘down time’ for the kids can be so tough (always rushing somewhere, always being asked to do something) that it can often get too much (especially for a ‘Super angry 8’ year old) and that’s when the shit hits the fan (you know, whilst said fan is on full speed and on  rotate setting. Mass shit, everywhere). An 8 year old often thinks they know EVERYTHING, that Mum is an idiot and that we have just been put on the planet to feed and clothe them whilst shouting orders at them like a demonic Sargent Major. I think we have almost reached a point that, some days, I’m (quote) “The worst mum ever”. Quite an accolade to achieve isn’t it – I might get a badge made up…

You never think about that happening, well, at least I didn’t, until they’re teenagers but sadly, it does seem to start earlier than that. The hormones start whizzing about much earlier than I had anticipated and I have most definitely been caught sleeping on parade with regards to this parenting milestone.

A boy sat on a stone covered beach. He looks angry and lost in thought.

A moody ‘pre-teen’. And from what I’ve heard thus far, the teenage years don’t seem like they’re going to be particularly golden years either.

Yay for Gin!

Being a kid in 2016 (Christ, is that really the year?! Toy Story is 21 years old guys, 21!!!!! How the feck did that happen?!) is tough. Technology gives us opportunity and connects us in a way never before possible, but it also creates impatience. An ‘I want it now’ mentality which is part of the reason I think we have some of these mega ‘pre-teen’ strops.If something doesn’t go Super angry 8’s way, he goes to cloud cuckoo land at warp speed 10. I’m not saying it’s the iPads fault, I am the master of the iPad and I have the power to give and take away, like an almighty technology god, but I really don’t think it’s helped any with his here and now attitude he seems to have at the moment. It seems to be one of the only things I have control over these days…oh, that and my bladder, thankfully. And that’s saying something after 3 kids. The ipad is the oracle of the Super angry 8’s world and it’s my trump card to play if metaphorical shit has been splattered by that fan. That’s how I hit him the hardest after a mega strop (and earn the accolade of worst mum ever) but needs must and right now, that’s one of the only ways of drilling home how cross I am when my super angry 8 has gone kaboom.

 I understand a lot of it is development. They’re finding their voice, gaining independence and beginning to understand more about the world (and what buttons to push to piss mummy right off) but there is a very fine line between finding their voice at this age and being damn right rude. Luckily for me (I suppose) super angry 8 is normally impeccably behaved at school and at other peoples houses etc, his worst strops are reserved only for me. Aren’t I lucky.

My husband often says it’s because I allow myself to get worked up that he does it more, because he can see it annoys me, but I think it’s more to do with the fact that I am the one that is doing the disciplining on a daily basis.

I’m ‘Bad Cop’.

Another badge to add to my sleeve.

I know it’s ‘just a phase’ and I know it too shall pass, but then there will be a new phase. A gross Teenage boy phase (when I hand the baton over to Daddy, who has been there and got that stinky, grubby t-shirt) and I’m totally not ready for it but if the super angry 8 stage is anything to go by, I’d better get my shit together.

 I make it sound like he’s awful all the time, my eldest. He truly isn’t. He has moments where he still wants a cuddle, where he will run and dive in our bed and chat away in the mornings and now he is ‘finding his voice’ we have some of the funniest games of ‘would you rather?’ that I have ever had, yep, maybe even more entertaining than the ones I had after a few too many drinks with my friends, but I do notice the change and him growing up now more than ever. It’s an age of transition, for all of us.

luke smiling with a sun hat on out in the garden. He was 3 at the time.

Luke. Age 3. Cheeky and carefree…

Gem.x




Growing Pains – The emotional turmoil of parenting… (Published on the Huffington Post)

I have written another piece for, The Huffington Post.

It’s a bit off piste for me, in that for a change, I’m not joking about consuming copious amounts of Gin or the fact my toddler smeared himself in his own poo again (yes, that has happened this week…the joys!)

It’s a piece about the emotional few weeks we have had in our household with regards to school and the kids growing up. Something I thought I was ready for but, it turns out, I’m totally not! 😉

Click here to have a read if you wish…

Normal, profanity filled, gin enhanced service shall now be resumed.

Gems.x