Great Expectations Vs Greater Reality

Christmas.

I LOVE it! I love everything about it.  I love the sparkle, the sounds, the smells, the smiles.  I love the kindness. I love how it brings out the best in so many people.

But what I don’t love, is the pressure placed on us by the interweb to create magical, Christmas card worthy Hallmark moments. It’s started already; Instagranny and Bookface are full of pictures of beautiful trees and perfect living rooms.  None of us posted the mess of them being put up though did we!? Myself included.  Of course not.  We want to show the world our best smile don’t we? We want to give the general idea that we’ve gont our sh*t together.

MY Christmas Eve shall be fablis. Here’s how it shall look if I post it online.

Some last minute, calm and fun shopping in town, a family breakfast with my siblings and all of our minions, a quick visit to the grandparents’ homes and then home, where Mammy will wear her apron and help the girls make homemade cookies for Santa, create perfect Belgian hot chocolate for them before snuggling up to watch a movie.  Then, I prep all of the veg etc for Christmas dinner.  Then, as Daddy bathes the girls and gets them ready for bedtime, Mammy shall pour a little drop of mulled wine and begin creating the turkey. We shall have some hearty homemade soup for tea and mammy shall double check her lists to ensure that all is done.  In a whirlwind of excitement, the girls shall leave out their fablis homemade cookies, a carrot and some milk for Santa. They’ll sprinkle reindeer food on the steps and go to bed, happy and excited.

Then, Daddy shall pop a bottle of bubbles, we’ll finish wrapping presents and then we’ll cozy up on the sofa and wait for Santa.

REALITY CHECK

The last minute shopping will not be calm and fun, unless you have someone to sit in the car with minions while you pop in and out of shops.

Family breakfast WILL be fun, but it will most likely also be filled with nyaming and crying, with things like “She’s sitting on meeee”, “He got more berries” and “Stop that nonsense now!”.  The adults will eat breakfast, pretending to have jovial conversation, but really just throwing random and disconnected statements at each other between bouncing the kids.

Visiting – Yes, but the over excited and wound up kiddies will be needing a sleep by then and there is a high chance of tantrums forecast once a loving and caring  Grandparent enters the room.  Add sugar before wrestling kids into car.  Perfect!

Bake cookies:  Buy a box of cookie mix. Add an egg and there you go.  Mary Poppins indeed.

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Hot chocolate: Not Belgian.  Not fancy.  Straight from the coffee machine pods. Plop in the marshmallows and she’s happy out..

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Movie:  In my head it’s Miracle on 34th Street, in reality it’ll be ELF again for 38 minutes before Ben and Holly return.  And it’ll be grand, because Mammy will realistically be watching it from the kitchen.

Homemade soup: HAHAHAHAHA! I’m not that organised.  I go to Mum’s on Christmas Eve and steal a lunchbox full of hers.  No point in both of us making it, is there?

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Mulled wine:  Buy a jar or packet. Slosh in some cheap wine and orange juice.  Done.  (Oh, and if you don’t like mulled wine, why the heck are you making it?)

Prepping dinner:  This I DO do.  Not because I’m Mary Poppins, but because the only thing any Mammy needs to be peeling on Christmas Day is the paper off presents (or the foil of my Chocolate Orange!)  PS.  Did you know you can buy PRE-PEELED SPUDS!?  Go for it Mammy.  It’s Christmas after all!

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Lists:  Once you’re home, scrap the lists. Whatever you haven’t bought by then, doesn’t need bought.  I will do a last To Do list, just to remind me of what needs done before I can sit on my backside for a few glasses of grapes later.  TIP: Write some stuff you’ve already done so you’ll feel better that there are a few lines through it already.

Bedtime: Yes it will be exciting, but it will also be frantic with two children who can’t control their highly stimulated and sugar induced emotion, and full of threats of “If you’re not sleeping, Santa won’t come”.  Eventually, Mini-Me will succumb to sleep, but them going straight to bed and nodding off instantly is as possible as me getting a Chanel coat. Then you get to start to tidy and clean and do all the other stuff that needs doing, just like every other day.  And who will notice or care if your sitting room looks perfect?

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Presents: If you don’t like wrapping stuff, don’t.  Keep it simple. You don’t need fancy curled ribbons.  They do not need to be Pinterest worthy.  Tell people the kids wrapped them, or better still, buy Christmas gift bags.  Sorted.  Santa doesn’t have time to wrap presents in my mind. Santa has better things to do.

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Waiting for Santa?  Yeah.  After 2 hours of tiptoeing about the place, forgetting where things are and trying not to wake the kids with rustling bags, as you try not to KILL each other!   Then you finally sit down to “relax” before realising that the kids will be up in, oh… approximately 4 hours!

Seriously though.

Relax.

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Christmas will come and go. It is magical and wonderful, but it is also what you make it. I just HOPE my Christmas is exactly as I have described, because cheats and realities and all, it’s MY perfect. No one else’s.

The Christmas inspector is not going to visit on Christmas morning to check if your home in Hallmark worthy.  NO ONE actually cares that you wrap EVERY SINGLE ONE of the presents.  No one cares what your kids get from Santa.  No one cares if you have your hair brushed. No one cares if you’re all in matching PJs. And the only person whose opinion matters on these things, is you.

While we like to see people we like and care about looking happy on Christmas morning, remember that you are under NO obligation to post pics  or share ANYTHING on social media.  You are also under no obligation to even look at other people’s photographs on social media.

If looking at other’s “perfect Christmas” makes you feel crappy, put down the device and look at what’s in front of you .

Chances are, your perfect Christmas is right there in front of you…in the real world. Chaos and all.

Enjoy it!

I am Some Things the Baby Books Forgot to Mention Mum

I am ‘Some things the Baby Books forgot to mention’ Mum

Feel free to sing along!
“Nappies and dodees” should be read/sung to the tune of “Raindrops and Roses” from The Sound of Music.

“Nappies and Dodees and cute little sockies

Big teddies, small teddies, horseys that rockie,

Elephant mobiles that fly on their strings

These are just some of the new baby’s things.

Baskets from Moses and funky shaped pillows

Grufallos, Minnie Mouse, Wind in the Willows,

Breast pumps and bobos and wee plastic pots,

Plastic spoons needed for feeding your tots.

Where’s the dummy?

Close the stairgate.

Get the nappy baaaag.

I simply can’t deal with this amount of stuff

I miss the space that I had.

Cushions and door clips and safety latches

Lift all those candles and hide all the matches

Puke cloths and poop bags and powders and creams,

Lego and Stains on all of your things.

Carseats and carriers, high chairs and bouncers

Moniters, teethers and measures for ounces

Video moniters keep mammy calm

And Daddy’s still learning how to fold up the pram.

Toys toys toys toys

Toys toys toys toys

Did I mention toys?

I simply am listing the simplest of things

We gather for girls…and boys.”

The BS Bibles spout such shite as “Don’t worry! Babies don’t need to take up ALL the space in your home.  Dedicate a shelf or drawer in your living room to baby essentials to keep them close at hand.  The Baby’s clothes etc should be kept in Baby’s nursery (includes image of pale grey amd white, empty, tidy nursery…)  The moses basket should be in a well appointed space, not too close to any radiators or drafty doors/windows. A well organised changing station will help keep the home mess free.”

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Beautiful, isn’t it?

Where does it prepare us for the explosion of STUFF that ensures that EVERY nook and cranny of your once tidyish home gets covered in Baby?  It’s like a giant Baby lifts the roof off your house and projectile VOMITS a load of utter CRAP all over EVERYTHING.

No room escapes and while for the first few weeks you might be able to contain the Baby stuff to a few baskets or to one corner, once they begin to play with toys or move about, the house slowly becomes overwhelmed by toys that seem to reproduce and multiply while we sleep.And just like the list the BS Bibles give you, this is by no means exhaustive.

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This was my kitchen on a good day!

You will find more crap to add to it and you will wonder why you didn’t take millions of photographs of your lovely fengshuiyed, Cath Kitsonesque, picture perfect home BC to send to ‘House and Home’.

And as for new furniture or carpets?

Don’t bother your arse until they’re old enough to know NOT to write on the cushions with glitter glue. 
Wrecking balls…

Absolute wrecking balls. 😂😂😂

I am She Hates Me Apparently Mum

“I hate you Mammy”

Ok, well I haven’t quite heard that one yet, but it’s coming.   However, I do hear “You are the WORST Mammy EVER!” at least once a week.  I reckon we’re building up to the H-bomb…

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“I HAAAAATE YOU!”

My answer to her when she screams at me is usually “I love you too”, or “Why thank you very much.”

What I want to say is this:

“My Darling Daughter,

No Sweetheart.  I am not the “worst Mammy ever”.

OK, I might be crap sometimes; I might shout and scold and sometimes I scream so loudly that I wonder if the neighbours aren’t putting on their shoes or finding their coats in fear; but this does not make me the worst Mammy.  

OK, I might put awful food in front of you, like soup or vegetables, but just because you would prefer colourless Freezer food doesn’t make me the worst Mammy.  Sometimes Mammy doesn’t have the time or energy to cook 3 different dinners and do you know what? Sometimes, you’ll just have to eat what’s given to you.

OK, sometimes Mammy says no.  “NO”.  One little word that frequently ruins your little day. This is something you might have learned to get over by the time you turn 26.  I’m not going to give you everything you want, when you want it.  I am going to make you help me to unload the dishwasher, or pick up your dirty clothes, or tidy your toys.  Not because you are my “Servant” as you so frequently tell me, but because I don’t want you to grow up being a useless and entitled cretur who expects the world to owe them something.  I will teach you what my parents taught me.  You want something? You work for it.  You try and you fail and you try again.  You are entitled to nothing. Harsh? Now maybe, but when you’re older, you’ll get it…along with a job as soon as you’re able to get one.  

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One loaded little word…

OK, Mammy might be bad when she doesn’t always do what you want.  When she doesn’t give you your way. When she turns off the TV or tells you you’ve had enough chocolate. When she doesn’t allow you to be completely in charge of the house and our day and the mood in our home. Because sometimes, we have places to go, or Mammy has work to do and while these things might interfere with your colouring or PJ Mask binge, they have to happen and it’s nothing personal my Darling. 

But even when you are determined that Mammy is indeed the “Worst Mammy ever”, you don’t REALLY think I am.  No. Of course you don’t.  You probably think that Mammy is a royal pain in the ass and you’re angry and frustrated that you’re not getting your way.  

Life’s a bitch.  Mammy isn’t.  It’s just my job to prepare you for it. All you see is Mammy blocking or ruining your fun.  But that doesn’t make me the worst Mammy ever.  It just makes me a Mammy.

And when I’m doing all of these annoying and frustrating things that are driving your little emotions to a new level of anger and tantrums, it’s not because you’re bold and really hate me, it’s because you don’t yet have the logic or words required to make sense of them.  And that’s OK. Sometimes Mammy doesn’t have the words or the logic to figure out how she feels either.

 I could say all of this until I am blue in the exhausted face and you’ll still only see that I turned off the telly, or that I didn’t buy Coco Pops… because you’re 5. (and a half and three quarters).    But someday, (probably when you have your own minions and find yourself saying No more times a day than you blink), you’ll get it. And you’ll understand why sometimes, being the worst Mammy in the World makes you the best Mammy in the world…and it’s the hardest thing to do.

Because as long as when I say “No” and you say “You’re the worst Mammy ever”, we both know that underneath the snarls and snots, we are really saying “I love you”, then you keep shouting. And I’ll keep saying “No”. (Most of the time.)”

Giving in would be much easier.  But I won’t have you being brought up thinking that you are the centre of a world which owes you everything you want.  Yes you are the centre of mine.  Yes, you can have whatever you want, but only with hard work and determination and resilience.  And to learn these fading life-skills, (and trust me Darling, they are fading), you have to learn the word “NO”.

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It’s because I love you…

Because if you don’t hear it at home, where you ARE the most important person in the world, how will you cope when you hear it in real life, where you aren’t?

To you, I might be the worst Mammy in the world, but to me, you are the best daughter, so I guess we balance it out nicely eh?”

I love you, 

Mammy xxxx

 

 

I am Surviving a Mary-of-the-Poppins Christmas Mum.

 

This week’s Thoroughly Modern Mammy column for Donegal Woman is an updates post on Christmas Survival for the Mary of the Poppins types…

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“Surviving Christmas,” “Christmas Survival Tips for the Working Mum”, “How to Survive Christmas”…

I googled these last night.

Some of the “advice” online is nothing short of HILARIOUS.  I fear most of it may have been written by one of the following:

🎄Mary of the Poppins herself

🎄Someone without kids

🎄A Man… 😂😂😂
Here are some of the best pieces I gleaned, followed by my honest and polite responses: (Buckle up!)

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1.  “Be Prepared.”

No sh*t Sherlock.  As opposed to waking on Christmas Eve and remembering to buy a turkey and gifts? Seriously…  This is a useless piece of advice. It’s like telling a woman to calm down.  When in the history of the world has telling a woman to calm down, resulted in her calming down?  Never. So telling a Mammy to “Be Prepared” for Christmas, is NOT helpful.
2. “Buy gifts throughout the year and wrap them as you go.” 

Now this one I can partially agree with, except S-Mum’s version would read “Buy gifts throughout the year, put them somewhere safe and then forget all about them until the week before Christmas, when you have all the gifts bought and then open a box or bag or suitcase and find all the PawPatrol jigsaws you bought in July.  Or even better, find them when you’re putting the decorations away in January!”

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3. “Choose a theme for your gifts to add that personal magic”. 

Here’s a theme.  Shut.  up.  Most of us just about manage to buy for everyone we have to buy for.  And if you’re anything like me, you’ll remember someone on Christmas Day and freak out with guilt and embarrassment and mumble some crap about it not being delivered on time, before popping to the loo to order on Amazon with next day delivery.

(But if you doooooo want to add a personal touch and be remembered fondly by your loved ones, put glitter🦄 into all of the cards and gifts so that their floors get clattered and you are applauded for spreading the magic of Christmas. Go ahead, I dare you! 😂😂)
4. “Place delicate or expensive ornaments on higher branches.

Ok this one, I can empathise with.  Especially if you have toddlers or dogs. 🐶But in reality, put delicate or expensive decorations in the ATTIC and leave them there until 2026.

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5. “Ice the Christmas Cake 2 weeks before Christmas”

Or in real life, remember on the 23rd that for some reason you need a Christmas cake to have in the kitchen which will never be cut or eaten.  Then you’ll  either pop to Marks of the Spensive or decide not to bother with cake this year. Either way, it doesn’t really matter does it?
6. “Decorating the home should be a family occasion followed by a family meal.”

Oh really? Should it really? If by “family meal” you mean a bottle of wine after the kids have all gone to bed, then yes…yes this is true. 😅

Decorating the home is, for most, a painful and highly stressful process which generally takes more than one afternoon and involves tears, mess and even declarations of divorcing children… and husbands.  If you can get the actual tree up in one go, save yourself the stress and put everything else up by yourself, on your own, without the rest of the family annoying your head.  After bedtime is ideal.😘😉
7. “Keep alcohol locked away.”

Out of the reach of children yes, but keep the key in your frilly fricking apron Mammy Poppins.
8. “Stock up on essentials:  batteries, bread, milk and cream.”

Why there is no gin or wine on this list, is beyond me.

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9. “Go Christmas Shopping without children. Bring a drink and a snack with you.” 

Who the hell wrote this? It is common knowledge that drinking while shopping with your children is frowned upon in civil society.  Oh… they meant for the children?  Ohhhh… I knew that.  Well, here’s an idea.  If you can get someone to mind the minions for an hour, OF COURSE, go Christmas shopping without them. Then, if you really want to follow the Perfect Mammy rule book, have a drink and eat all the snacks… by yourself!
10. “Create a cleaning schedule for your home to keep on top of things this Christmas”.

There aren’t enough swear words for this one. A Cleaning Schedule? Who the hell has time to write a cleaning schedule? In the time it would take me to write a cleaning schedule, I would probably have half the cleaning done.  If you can keep floors lego free and counters salmonella free, you’re doing great! You deserve a treat. 💚

Riddle me this Mammies?  Why would you spend hours cleaning before opening the boxes of decorations that are going to cause the whole place to need hoovered and dusted again in an hour anyway?  Why?

So there were the Top Ten pieces of advice from the various Perfect Mammy websites…

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There were a few little nuggets in fairness.  Some of the better advice included “Scale down your expectations”, “Invent your own traditions”, and “Give yourself a break.”  

Another gem that I completely agree with is “Buy disposable baking trays”: I stock up on aluminium turkey trays every year and everything is cooked in them.  It’s a life saver!

Alos, Yes to shopping lists. And sublists. (Any list!  I do love me alist!)  Plan your meals for Christmas week and do the shopping based on the list.  It will save you from buying piles of stuff that you won’t actually use. Will you actually use that goose fat or are you only buying it because it’s beside the cranberry sauce you’ve lifted…that no one in your house eats.

AND  remember to factor in Christmas Eve Dinner too.  Don’t do my speciality… realise you have a fridge full of food and nothing for the dinner when you finally get back to the house on Christmas Eve.  This will lead to arguments about who is going to the shop AGAIN, or toast for dinner.


The “Preparing for Christmas” articles largely did what they always do however; they put undue pressure on already busy parents to stress themselves to create a Hallmark worthy perfect Christmas card-esque scene that, in reality, is nonsense.

Do what YOU want to do.  Buy what YOU can afford.  Cook what YOU like to eat. If you don’t like mince pies, don’t fricken buy them. If you want to let your kids open all of the presents on Christmas morning, do it!  If you like to wrap all the everything, do so.  If you don’t, DON’T!

It’s that simple.  We don’t need a survival list to survive Christmas, we need to give ourselves a break and enjoy it, because if you take a second to stop and look around you, often in the midst of lost presents and superfluous food shopping, you can see a little bit of magic without having to buy it.

A perfect family Christmas is like a Perfect Parent… all that’s REALLY needed is love and what works for YOU!
What is your favourite “Survival tip” and why?

I am Suck it up Mum

Right. Feck it.

I’m doing it.

Before and After Posts… Let’s call out the BS.

This is my first Before and After post. The two photographs were snapped only 3 seconds apart. 😅

So what did I do? What did I take? A magic pill? A Fantabulous Super-shake? A cup of Magic Tea? Nope.

A breath.

I took a breath. 😅

I straightened my back, turned my body slightly and sucked it all in!👇👇👇 You see, yes, I might be back in my favourite jeans, (after 16 months of training in Jim- NOT overnight), but after 2 magnificently STRETCHY pregnancies and two VERY messy C-Sections, my Belly is not what it might APPEAR to be when you meet me in my clothes! 😂

It’s squishy. It’s soft. It’s covered in stretch marks. There is extra skin that sags when I suck in my tummy. If I relax my tummy muscles, it is quite humongous! 💕

Some days I love it. Some days I hate it. Somedays I am so bloated that I look like I’m 6 months pregnant again. But everyday, I look in the mirror and I see a real life miracle. The stretch marks are my war wounds. My skin is stretchy because it made a house to grow my babies in. 💕It’s my Post-Baby Belly and the only person whose opinion on it matters, is ME.

So when your news feed is full of “Weight loss” adverts showing you “before and after” shots of how you can lose “15 stone in a day” if you just sign up to their pyramidic BS shakes, pills, teas, knickers etc, remember that it is likely that the pictures might just be BS. And when you see someone posting their “Look at my abs” pics, telling you how happy they are with their progress, there MIGHT just be another photograph in their camera roll that they HAVEN’T chosen to share.

If I had posted these and said there had been a 6 month gap between photographs, chances are you’d have believed me. (And of course, you WILL see GENUINE “Before and After” photographs of GENUINE weight loss journeys, but they are “JOURNEYS”, with hard work and sweat and determination, NOT miracle products.)😲

And if your body has stretched and changed to grow your minions, be proud of it. It’s yours. It’s a miracle and it’s beautiful, whether you suck it in or let it all hang out. Have a fablis Friday my Lovelies.

(It goes without saying that anyone who feels like writing anything hateful or negative, has my polite invitation to go build themselves and bridge and get over themselves. My body. Not yours.) 😙😙😙

#beattheBS #realityplease #postbabybelly #perspective