How the grinch-mama stole Christmas

So we’re all aware of the commercialisation of Christmas and the obscene amounts of money spent by many people (in the west at least) at this crazy time of year. How many of us manage to evoke Christmas spirit through the means of focusing on family, love and copious amounts of food without being judged by others to be a Christmas grinch? That’s what I was recently accused of when I chose to donate to charity instead of buying Christmas cards this year. Really? THAT’S the definition of a Christmas grinch? The fact that I decided to give to the vulnerable instead of buying pointless items that will only be thrown away (like most things these days) in a fortnight?

I am not religious. I celebrate Christmas for the Santa/snowmen/magical/fake elements that always gave me that insane sense of excitement as a child. Don’t get me wrong; one of my best memories frantically ripping open my presents on the Big Day but I know for a fact that my mom had to scrimp and save for those presents, and that many of them were second-hand (bless, I never questioned why they weren’t in their original boxes). Therefore, when my girls grow up I’ll want to give them that same special feeling, and those wonderful memories.

But – and there is a major BUT here – I want to raise my kids with what I consider to be the right kind of values. Values such as being grateful for what we have, especially compared to the many unfortunate people in this world whose luck meant they were simply born somewhere else. Values such as being charitable to those same people. Values such as working hard to achieve your goals (the Hubs and I have already decided that pocket money will be linked to behaviour and chores). Values such as the importance of family (I come from a “broken home” where many of us don’t speak to one another and I’d hate that for my girls). Values such as delayed gratification (yes darling, I know you really want X but you’ll have to wait and see what Santa brings you).

So with the twins being currently only 18 months old and Christmas being tomorrow (already?), we’ve decided not to buy them any presents this year. They have absolutely no concept of it, and I know for a fact they’d be more interested in the wrapping paper than they would be in what’s inside. And at such a young age, they already have everything they need.

When I think of the children in this world born into poverty, famine, war and abuse, my heart aches for them. My girls are so lucky to have been born into a loving family and to have all the basic necessities and more. When I wake up tomorrow morning, I will go into the nursery and hug them close, but I won’t be showering them with gifts.

Merry Christmas.

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For the love of GOD will you please stop crying??!

I’m about to win the Obvious Parenting Statement of the Year Award but here it is: the sound of a baby/toddler/child crying is one of the most nerve-shredding sounds in the world. More specifically, the sound of your OWN child incessantly crying is not only madness-inducing but it pulls on your maternal instinct in a way that is mentally and physically exhausting.

One of the most frustrating things – for baby and for mom/dad – is the inability of baby to communicate, leading to mom/dad completely misdiagnosing the problem and thus making it a million times worse.

Take tonight. It’s 10pm and Twin 2 is running around our living room like it’s the middle of the day. This is the end result of the Hubs and I being unable to work out why T2 was crying (or screaming to the point of puking) for the 2 hours prior to this point, resulting in the waking of T1 and general mayhem.

All parents have multiple examples of this frustration; I’m just lucky that this one is at 10pm tonight and not 3am tomorrow morning… Oh God, I’ve said it now…

Pass the wine please…

Why one night is enough

One of the things we parents do to get us through the tough times is we joke about it. We make (hopefully) witty little jibes on our social media about how parenting means this or that (#insertwordhere) and if you amalgamated everything we said and put it in a book you could probably title the book, “Why Children are A**holes and you should never have them.”

It is part of human nature to see the glass as half empty. It’s the same reason we’re more likely to leave a negative review about a bad meal in a restaurant (always after the event of course, via the internet, because being honest face-to-face is too scary!) than we are to leave a positive review about a good one.

So let me be very positive here and say that I LOVE being a mom. I don’t love it every second of every single day, but whilst there are times when I cry with frustration/anger/lack of sleep there are MANY more times when I am filled with joy, pride, wonder and fierce love.

Much of being a parent of young twins involves logistics. Getting from A to B is tricky at best and anyone expecting me to be on time for anything is quite frankly an idiot. In those times I miss the freedom of my pre-kid days (and yes, I feel jealous of parents with just one baby) and so when the twins stayed at their nan’s house last night, the Hubs and I were able to enjoy a rare night out at the cinema. It was brilliant. I literally felt lighter as I didn’t have a toddler swinging from my neck, holding onto my leg or screaming in my ear.

But then we arrived home from the cinema to an empty house. We deliberately spoke louder and drank wine at 11 pm (just because) but then I felt an emptiness when I couldn’t pop my head in to the nursery before bed to check on the girls. I sometimes have to work late and on those nights where I miss their bedtime I am comforted by the fact that I’ll still be able to check in on them before I go to bed. But not last night.

So I went to bed and slept soundly, utilising the chance for a Sunday lie-in until whatever-time-I-want and now I’m lying here awake (the Hubs is snoring) missing my girls and feeling like the house is too quiet. I can only imagine how it’s going to feel when they grow up, fly the nest and I suffer a major case of empty nest syndrome!

So, thank you Nanny, but one night was enough. I can’t wait for a cuddle!

10 hilarious reasons my kids have cried

One of the things you quickly learn as a parent is that not every blood-curdling scream means the end of the world (although of course, it might as well be for the grief that kid will give you if you don’t drop whatever you’re doing and run to them like the good little slave you are!).

I am forever amazed at the curiosity of toddlers. Their sense of wonder is a daily reminder of how unenthusiastic I am about most things. Their curiosity often gets them into trouble however, particularly when I have the audacity to go to the toilet (or something equally selfish and unnecessary).

Here are 10 very amusing scenarios I’ve been faced with when running in to see what the fuss is all about:

  1. She’s got her chubby leg stuck in between the bars of her cot/prison for the 50th time.
  2. She’s got her arm wedged between the prison and the bedroom wall (again, for the 50th time).
  3. She couldn’t get the lid off her cup.
  4. She got herself trapped in the curtain playing hide-and-seek with her sister.
  5. She couldn’t climb onto the sofa.
  6. She couldn’t get down from the sofa.
  7. She fell off the sofa (ok, this one was only funny once I knew she wasn’t mortally injured – once again, for the 50th time).
  8. Her sister stole her toy (man up, kid!).
  9. Her sister wouldn’t let her steal her toy (you really do need to toughen up).
  10. She’d squeezed herself between the dining chair and table and couldn’t unsqueeze herself out.

The laughter that bursts out of me with each discovery is a response to the constant Mom Paranoia that something terrible is going to happen. But I’m determined not to quell that sense of wonder, the urge for adventure, and the endless enthusiasm that makes them so gosh darned awesome. Even if that does mean a scraped knee, a bruised ego, or a crazy trip down the rabbit hole.

Shave Shame

Some feminist I am. I took one look at my black underarms in the mirror today whilst trying on a short-sleeved dress and my resolve melted. Before I had time to question myself, the razor was out and I was dry-shaving myself to the man’s ideal of womanhood.

A friend recently said to me that feminism isn’t about becoming a yeti; it’s about having the CHOICE about whether or not to do it. So, ipso facto, am I therefore a feminist because I CHOSE to get rid of what nature gave me???

As parents, we constantly question ourselves regarding our role model status and the influence we will have on our children. However, to what extent is this role model myth actually true? If I allow my girls to grow up seeing me shave my underarms, paint my nails and wear make-up, am I teaching them that this is what a woman should do? Or am I just making the most of myself, and actually celebrating my womanhood? Why do we assume we have that much influence anyway? In reality, won’t my kids be far more influenced by popular culture, music and Hollywood than they will by their fuddy-duddy, out of date mom?

Who here wouldn’t like to change SOMETHING about the way they look? Or who here doesn’t try to make the most of themselves – even if that just means having a wash and brushing your hair?! Am I lying to my girls if I try to bring them up to believe that looks don’t matter? Yes, I suspect that this would be the case.

Whether we like it or not, looks matter. To some more than others, but appearance is one of the first things we use to make a quick judgement about someone. I guess what I really want to do is to teach my girls to make a good impression; this starts with looks when you’re meeting someone for the first time face-to-face, and then quickly moves on to showing what an awesome person you are, until your looks no longer matter and you can remove your heels, put your sweatpants back on and grow your armpit hair with pride.

10 reasons why other people’s kids don’t make me broody

As a twin mom, there’s often an assumption from fellow parents that I’m done; that having two at once meant I’d never desire anymore children. My views on this depend on how I feel at any given moment; sometimes I miss the newborn stage so much that I feel like I could keep having babies forever, just so that I don’t have to miss out on that feeling. But most of the time, I feel very content with my crazy life and don’t think I could fit more children into it.

One thing I have found, however, is that other people’s kids don’t seem to pull on my maternal instinct. I’m pretty sure every parent feels this, except for those Mother Earth types that love all children and are basically much nicer people than me.

Here are 10 reasons why other people’s kids don’t make me broody:

  1. My kids are so much cuter.
  2. My kids are so darn funny.
  3. That green bogey in your kid’s nose is disgusting. The green snot in my kid’s shnoz is adorable.
  4. When my kid bangs a wooden spoon on the table repeatedly, shouting, “Bang! Bang! Bang!” my heart swells with pride. When your kid does it, it ruins my lunch.
  5. My kids’ cuddles are way better.
  6. Your newborn looks like a wrinkled old man. My girls, of course, came out looking like the most perfect babies ever born since the dawn of man.
  7. Those random scribbles pinned to my fridge are works of art. Your kid’s work lacks structure.
  8. Yeah, your 18 month old can talk, but one of my girls sort of said “hair” the other day, so there.
  9. When your kid learned to crawl, my twins’ crawl was significantly cuter.
  10. My kids are simply all-round better human beings than anyone ever born.

I don’t know why those encouraging X-Factor moms are considered biased really…

Mommyhood, body hair and me

No, this is not the story of how being pregnant turned my humongous bump into a velvet mountain. It’s also not the story of that stubborn hair on my chin that grows back so quickly after I pluck it that I wonder if I actually DREAMT that I plucked it, in a sleep-deprived haze. This is the story of how becoming a twin mama turned me into a hairy feminist.

It started with an inability to attend beautician appointments anymore. Have you ever experienced the logistics of carting two babies around at once? Assuming I could get over the mental challenge of even leaving the house to begin with, I would then be faced with the prospect of timing my appointment between three-hourly feeds and figuring out what to do with the babies while I’m somewhat compromised and distracted with having hairs ripped out of my skin.

Then, of course, there was the mere concept of anyone or anyTHING going even remotely near those parts of me EVER AGAIN.

These issues aside, there was the whole oh-my-god-where-has-all-my-money-gone thing. I began to chastise my former self for even contemplating spending 20 quid a pop to have someone torture me for half an hour. What was I; a masochist??

The Hubs was less than impressed, and this got me thinking: who exactly was I waxing myself for? It certainly wasn’t me! Why did I feel the need to change what was naturally mine, simply to please a man? Why did my husband think hair was unattractive?

And so I took a stand. I went 70s.

Let me tell you: it felt pretty liberating. I took ownership of my body.

Next came the armpits. I encountered photo upon photo of women baring all with their armpit hair proudly on show and I thought, “I could do that!”

I am a mom of twin girls. What I want most in this world is for them to be happy. I have to equip them with the tools to do this, and part of that means helping them to try to love their bodies as they grow up. I know that from a very young age, they will be bombarded with media telling them how they should and shouldn’t look. It’s so obvious and yet so subtle that they won’t realise how the choices they think they are making about themselves are really not choices at all because they don’t exist in a vacuum. Women’s choices are still dictated by what is considered “normal” or attractive by men. We have become so used to it that women judge other women by the same sexist standards. I spend every night examining my pores, fatty bits and hair in the mirror and I don’t want that for my girls.

Am I living in a dream world to hope that my girls will grow up to be confident in themselves? How much influence can I really have?

The best thing I can think to do is to lead by example. To rock that underarm hair in a vest top and a smile. To tell my girls that they are beautiful, outside and in. And to keep the pore-gazing for times when they can’t see me.