Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Public image

Do you ever wonder about how people see you? When you walk down the street, what do other people think? Who do they assume you are? What do they think you do?
Usually, I'm pretty easy to typecast. No make-up, a bit disheveled, bags under the eyes, pushing a buggy, two pre-schoolers in tow... I'm easily identifiable as a full-time mum to too many children. But I wasn't always this way. There was a time, not that long ago, when I straightened my hair, always wore mascara and wouldn't be caught in anything but fabulous heels. I enjoyed taking time in the morning to choose my outfit, and always made a beeline for the nearest Starbucks to get my beloved skinny latte. Striding off the Tube, sending exasperated looks at tourists as I crossed the Millennium Bridge, I looked every inch the young, professional Londoner. Even with a growing baby bump, I maintained some semblance of style. I only sacrificed the heels at four months because my physiotherapist gave me a row when he caught me in three-inch Mary-Janes when I visited for treatment on a misaligned pelvis. Those shoes were worth it though. Powder-blue suede.... Anyway, that all ended the second two tiny bundles of joy entered my life. My make-up gathered dust, my workout clothes became all I could fit into, and my beloved shoes were packed away. In short, I became a mum.

From, erm, professional...                                                 .... to wife

But that's OK, because when I go out, it's obvious. The whole world can see I'm a mother. It's who I am now.
So, it feels very strange when I go out on my own. On Tuesdays, my mum always takes little M for the afternoon, so once I've dropped the twins at nursery, I have no one to take care of but me. Even after a few months of this routine, it still feels strange. Not least because as I pay for my shopping or order a coffee, the person I'm talking to doesn't know I'm a mum. If a woman walks past pushing a double buggy, she probably mistakes my sisterly smile for politeness. Or pity. She doesn't know that I know. I'm in the club too. One day, I will go back to work and become a journalist again. Or a shop assistant or a librarian or a fireman. Well, probably not that last one. But the point is, I will also be a mum. Forever and most importantly, a mum.
It feels very odd when no one knows that.
 ...to container ship....
...to Mum!

If a stranger looks very closely, the rings on my left hand tell them I'm a wife. But unless they actually lift my top and check out the stretchmarks, they have no way I've knowing I'm a mother.
This week, my sister is visiting and as she and my mum walked down the road with the buggy, it occurred to me that people would assume she's M's mum. I didn't quite know what to make of that thought. I wasn't jealous. That wouldn't make any sense. It just unsettled me. I'm so proud of my clever wee girl, of all my beautiful wee girls, it felt weird to think that people would be unconsciously giving someone else the credit. That makes me sound awful, doesn't it?
But I can't help it. Being a mum is my job now, and everyone wants a good performance review, don't they? Those girls are a reflection of me. And I'm a reflection of them. I guess even if sometimes the outside world doesn't know I'm mum to three wonderful young ladies, I do. And that's enough.
Would be nice if folk didn't just think I'm a slob though...

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The clumsy gene!

When I look at my daughters, I see all the things I passed on. T and M have both inherited my blue eyes and small features. They are both fearless like me and embrace each new experience just like my parents recall me doing decades ago (not that many decades, though. Honest). They both have my thick hair and are shaping up to be little, just like me. In short, they're both my clones.
To M, I gave blue eyes and a sense of adventure... 

To T, I gave a cheeky nature...

But G is all Daddy. Well, nearly all Daddy. If you look past the blonde curls and big, brown eyes, past the thoughtful gaze and deliberate, scientific nature, there's a little Mummy in there. Well out there. All over the place there. It seems instead of looks or personality, I've given her clumsiness.
Tables, chairs, walls, doors... If there's something solid in the way, G will walk into it. Well, unless I walk into it first. I've always been clumsy. In his father-of-bride speech, my dad had them rolling in the aisles as he regaled my friends and family with tales of how I would never use the stairs in the traditional way. I was more of a headfirst kind of child. Thus far, the carefulness G inherited from her father has protected her as she makes her way downstairs, but on the flat, she's just as accident-prone as her mum. She proved it this week as we made our way to a friend's house. With she and T indulging in their (hugely annoying) habit of fighting over my one available hand as I tried to push M's buggy, G somehow got her foot tangled in the wheel, and over she went.
But to my big brave G, I gave a lifetime of ouchies!

As I scooped up my screaming girl, I confess I sighed. G falling is hardly unusual, and she always makes the most of it. But I soon regretted being flippant. Blood was pouring out of her mouth. I tried to keep her and her sisters calm, as I swallowed my own tears and worked out just how much damage had been done. When she was barely a year old, she toppled over on our wood floor and chipped one of her shiny new teeth. Now, I was panicking she'd knocked one out completely. T was brilliant, playing peepo with her little sister to stop her getting bored and, to my huge relief, a bit of wiping revealed G had simply scraped her nose and bitten her lip. After a few cuddles, she felt fine, and we carried on to our playdate, where she had a great time.
I still felt awful though. About rolling my eyes when she fell, yes. But also because she got this trait from me. I could have passed on a flair for language or the ability to dance, but no.I gave her clumsiness.
So I just want to take a moment to apologise.
G, my big, beautiful girl. My first-born, my clever, cheeky wee angel, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the lifetime of cuts and bruises and bumps and scrapes. I'm sorry for the frustration, the annoyance and anger you'll feel towards inanimate objects and pieces of furniture. But this I can promise you. we're in this together. I will always be there to pick you up and cuddle away those tears. I'll kiss your ouchies and have plasters and magic cream. I know what it's like, and I promise never again to sigh and complain and make you think you're being silly to cry. I made you this way and I love you this way. In your own way, you're Mummy's little mini me too. I'm just sorry it has to be so painful.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

A true great Briton

This week, we lost a great Briton. A true pioneer, who faced controversy as he pushed the boundaries of what was possible, and changed the world. And no, I'm not talking about Margaret Thatcher. I'm a Scot. That should tell you all you need to know about where I stand on our former Prime Minister. No, this week, I am mourning someone who truly changed the world, a man without whom, some 4 million babies wouldn't have been born. Including three who were born to me.
Professor Sir Robert Edwards was born to a working class family in a small Yorkshire town, after serving in the army, he entered a career in science. A career choice that would change the world for so many of us. It certainly did for me. Sir Bob Edwards developed a method of creating life outside the womb. In vitro fertilisation. IVF. Some called his work barbaric, protested his subsequent knighthood, but to me and so many others, he was a hero.
When you are first told you may struggle to conceive, it's like a blow to the head. I took that hit young, at about 17, when my wildly erratic periods revealed a problem. I was diagnosed with Polycystic ovaries, but I just accepted a prescription for the Pill and got on with my youth. It would all work out. It was only a possible problem... Marriage and a year of trying would make the problem very real. I couldn't get pregnant. But to my eternal gratitude, someone had me covered. Sir Bob had it covered.
OK, so the hormones sucked and the innumerable blood tests left me feeling like a pin cushion, but it worked. It worked very very well. My first go at Sir Bob's IVF gave me two beautiful girls. And being pregnant with the twins somehow kick-started my confused ovaries so effectively that, less than two years later, along came a third young lady. My girls. My life. All three thanks to the genius and hard work of Professor Robert Edwards.
So it was with great sadness that I read that this week, at the age of 87, he had slipped away in his sleep. But it was at least a fittingly long and happy life for a man who brought happiness to so many.
Thank you Sir Bob. You changed my life and made my dreams come true. You were a true great. Rest in peace.
Thank you for this Sir Bob

Friday, 5 April 2013

15 things I never thought I'd say...

... but then I became a mum!

What have these three creatures turned me into?

1) Stop licking your sister's knee

2) Can Mummy just pick that bogie out for you?

3) Don't stand/sit/roll/jump* on your sister. (*delete as applicable)

4) Yes, you're right, Goofy is really clever, isn't he?

5) No wine for me thanks.

6) You only throw balls, not Weebles.

7) Aw, Mama loves wooer chwubby bwubby belly.

8) Take your fingers out of your bum-bum.

9) Have you seen my nipple cream?

10) Wipe your nose on a tissue, not your sister's top.

11) The baby isn't a toy.

12) A poo-poo! Well done! You're right, it does look like a snake. What a clever girl!

13) No thank-you, Mummy has water. You drink your orange juice with bits of mince and bread floating in it.
14) Stop eating that crayon/stone/shoe/table* (delete as applicable)

15) Be careful. Be careful. Be careful. Be careful. Be careful.... (repeat until your tongue drops out...)

Photo copyright SS Kelman (www.pkperspective.co.uk)