Archive for October 4th, 2007

Pots of Heather

heather-002.jpg

Heather thrives at this time of the year and my little pots are no exception.  They look good all year round but in the Autumn the colour comes alive and they look very pretty.  And they are so easy to look after.  I needn’t do anything with them.  They just sit there all year round and look pretty for me. 

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Cameron’s speech

I really don’t know why everyone is making such a fuss about his obviously rehearsed but unscripted speech!  It’s not his oratory skills that we should be judging him by.  Tony Blair was a great speaker and look at his political legacy! 

Cameron spoke well and without the aid of an autocue but that doesn’t change the fact that what he said was of no real substance.  He predictably laid into the current government and told us that the Tories will do much better. 

Is that it?

And now … the labels

I have no idea who created all these labels or if they involve any intellectual property rights but it seems that mums everywhere are being categorised and labelled and this is what it looks like: 

Yummy Mummy: young, sexually attractive mum who turns up at school each morning looking gorgeous.  (It’s also the name of an American breakfast cereal but let’s not spoil the image).  Has permanently sun-kissed skin.  Never a hair our of place.  Always wears the latest designer accessories and those long, square acrylic nails are a must.  And she’s probably had breast enhancements too.  We hate her!

Alpha Mummy: created to throw Yummy Mummy off her throne and to tell the world that mums can wear gucchi sunglasses and have something between the ears.  She’s a control freak.  Obssessively organised and in full control of her life.  And her kid’s lives.  And probably her husband’s life too.  Her babies weren’t supposed to be flushed down the loo in a rubber bag if only he’d remembered to use one.  Oh no.  Alpha Mummy’s 2.5 children were planned to the last super-sperm swimming detail.

She never shouts.  She doesn’t go off her head when her kids have been naughty, which of course they rarely are.  She doesn’t shout ridiculous things like…”if you ever do that again, you will be grounded for a whole month!” with the kids knowing full well that this is totally unenforceable hence taking absolutely no notice whatsoever.  Nope.  She’s calmy militant and determined in her discipline agenda.  Her children listen to Mozart instead of Mika and are probably very competative.  They will attend every out-of-school activity in existence and she will expect consistently good grades from them.  We hate her but want to be her.

Beta Mummy: created in direct defiance of Alpha Mummy.  Disorganised.  Domestically-challenged.  Drinks too much wine at dinner parties and embarrasses herself in front of all the Alpha Mums and Dads.  Her kids are forever “exploring their creative side” and are usually free-spirited.  Beta Mummy does scrub up well for a night out but often finds herself tearing to school half dressed because she’s on the last minute – again!  She’s always late.  She’s clumsy, emotional, forgetful, often insecure.  And totally endearing.  We are her.

Slummy Mummy: I’m not sure if author, Fiona Neill, actually created this label but the Slummy Mummy is so cool that Neill wrote a whole book about her and I’ve placed my order with Santa.  I think the Slummy Mummy has always been here (post-1950’s housewife) but she’s never been awarded a label until the other labelled mums started to appear.  I think she’s basically a Beta Mummy with a more down-to-earth label.  I guess we are her too then.

  

Mummy Rant

There’s this Yummy Mummy at our school.  She’s stunning and sexy and she wears gorgeous clothes.  She always looks good – all the time.  Never a hair out of place.  And her kids are lovely and clever and talented too.  She drives a fancy new BMW of the latest range and I’m reliably told that she has a home to die for.  I think she might be an Alpha Mummy actually.  (Yes, apparently there’s an Alpha Mummy too.  More labelled mums to follow in next post).

Anyway, it reminded me of the time I was off work a few moons ago nursing my poorly daughter and we got to watching some dire morning TV show together.

On This Morning there was a discussion about whether it’s possible to be the perfect wife and the perfect mum.  In short – is it possible for women to have it all?

The discussion covered the 1950’s stay-at-home housewife and how everything then had to revolve around the hardworking husband.  The kids had to be clean and immaculately behaved.  The house had to be spotless and the husband absolutely had to have all his needs tended to.  I mean all his needs.   If he wanted to have sex with his wife, there was little tolerance for any sudden headaches.

We have of course, moved a million miles away from those days.  For a start, the woman works now.  That is an accepted fact that most of us are resigned to.  Mortgages, lifestyles, changing social attitudes…women work.

And the male is much more family-involved.  He interacts more with the kids.  He is much more active around the home and he has accepted that the subservience of the wife is a thing of the past.

So the 1950’s housewife has long since been liberated.  But,as the programme questioned, have we really gained any independence?  Is it fair to say we’ve simply replaced all those sink chains with some sort of social, I-can-have-it-all desire that is just as equally restrictive?

Me?  Well, like most other great and wonderful women, I’m wired up to multi-task.  But I malfunction.  A lot.  I work part-time.  I try to keep myself fit.  I try to keep up to date, both socially and politically.  But I shout and I stress.  My home is often messy.  My kids don’t always get their meals on time.  I am often ironing their damp uniforms at 8 o clock in the morning while screeching at my little boy to brush his teeth and eat his breakfast (yes at the same time – we’re late aren’t we!).  His shoes aren’t always polished.  I’m often rubbing his mucky face with a damp cloth while he’s putting his coat on and passing him my comb while sat at the traffic lights on the way to school because I’ve just spotted his dishevelled head of hair from my rear-view mirror.  And we ususally discover that we’ve forgotten his PE kit when we’re just five minutes away from school.  I always beat myself up by comparing myself to Alpha Mum and Yummy Mum.  And after a fight with the kids, I often go to work with a great big guilt cloud hovering over my head which follows me around until 3.30 pm when I collect them from school and give them lot’s of conscience-relieving goodies a big hug.

For sure, there have been times when I’ve felt an almost unsuppressable urge to walk out of the door and not come back.  I’ve been known to tell my kids that they’ll see my face on the side of a milk carton one of these days….that I’ll be one of those women who go out for a loaf of bread and is never seen again.  The other day, I ran into my bathroom and screamed out to the oblivious tiles that….I’m only asking for my kids to keep their own f*$&%ing rooms tidy!  Is that too much to ask?

But it’s ok because that nice agony-aunt, Denise Robertson from the Good Morning team said that it’s fine for us mums to momentarily lose control.  To swear at the plants.  That it is, in fact, good for us.

So, I guess I’m not Wonderwoman.  That’s clearly been established.  And my kids certainly aren’t perfect.

But this super-duper Alpha-Mum thing?  Why do we strive to be her?  To be the perfect cook with a spotless home and perfectly behaved grade-A kids who simply must be members of every after-school activity going whether they want to or not?  Are we still juggling the PTA event with our yoga class?   Do we still have this bestial competitive urge to try and look as good as that perfectly-shaped, immaculately dressed, gorgeous bitch goddess who turns up at school every morning looking like she’s just stepped out of Vogue?  And let’s not forget, the fantastic, high-flying job we absolutely must keep hold of while rushing home every lunch time to breast-feed our babies.  Oh, and we must catch that documentary on Radio 4 all about changing gender roles because the other super-mums are sure to be discussing it when we meet up at Starbucks later (and of course to ensure that everybody knows there’s more to us than a pretty face).  Then we really must make a dash for it!  Off to pick the kids up from school.  It’s clarinet tonight isn’t it?  And rugby training for little boy.  Or is it Beavers?  What day is it?  Oh, it’s Tuesday.  That means swimming.  And dance class.  Oh, and we did so want to try that new wine bar with the brand new super-friend we met at the Ancient Art class that we just enrolled on.

Well really!  Shouldn’t all that perfect mother, wife, friend, colleague, modern Ms. thing not have been deeply sunk in the bottomless pit of impossible agenda’s long, long ago?

Sometimes I am some of the above.  Sometimes I am all of the above.  Sometimes I am none of the above.  But I know one thing.  I am a REAL Mummy.  And us Real Mummies – in all our dysfunctional mayhem . . . our chaotic lives and stresses, our bad hairdays and crappy monthlies, our self-inflicted guilt and our insecurities . . . we are as happily normal as normal can be.  And we love our kids dearly.

So would all the Real Mummies please stand up.  Let’s give ourselves a huge congratulatory hug . . . and a break.