Monday, 28 July 2014

Chameleon Mum

Do you ever feel like you need to be different things for different people?

I've always been an adapter of sorts. Like those special plugs you get so things still work in a different country. I'm good at making things work. And making people work. 

I want to be that person that walks into a room and people want to talk to her. That confident girl with swishy hair and brilliant banter. And I'm still trying - trust me I am. And I want to have interesting things to say about life and politics. I want to know the good jokes and have that witty sarcasm that speaks of an intelligent mind. 

But really I'm last year's knock-knock joke. I used to have a joke that was about artichokes being two for a pound. I used to tell it for years, until I realised that I was lacking in delivery and that, actually, it really wasn't that funny. And for those reasons, I won't take that any further.

I want to be a head-turner. I do. Yes. I want people to look at me and go: "Gosh, doesn't she look nice?" Because that has not happened to me before. I've always be the woman who has been head-down, toe-focused, and hidden in clothes that may deceptively cloak a wobbly bit or two. Even now, I can't follow fashion, because fashion doesn't fit my body all that well. You will never see me bearing my midriff with a floral crown. Because my midriff probably wobbles a bit when I walk, and looks like it's been attacked by one of my cats. And a floral crown will make me look like an 80's bridesmaid, despite looking good on everyone else.

I want to fit in around the Northern Quarter. But the fact of the matter is - I quite like Primark (because I can't afford to buy something suitably vintage), I don't mind bringing in my own lunch, and I don't want to pay a tenner for a coffee and a 'panini', which I'm not entirely sure isn't a squashed baguette that is hot and cheesy. And don't get me wrong, I love the cocktails. And I love the way everyone is so understatedly cool and...there's another reason. I say 'cool' like a mum. Because I am a mum. Go figure.

I used to think that I had to play down my son to non-parents. I used to think that I had to know who was in the top 40 and give a shit. And I used to think that I had to say things like: "GOD YOUR NON-PARENT LIFE IS AWESOME." But, actually, as awesome as it may be, I actually adore my son and now talk about him non-stop. Because I really do feel that people should hear the story about how he woke me up by knocking on my bedroom door, wearing absolutely nothing and carrying a basket full of toy animals. 

And sometimes, I feel like, hang on, oh shit, I'm a mum. I must not contribute much to society. I must have pushed my brain out of my vagina when I had a child. And no, I can only count to ten, but we are toying with the early teens now and again, but numbers are SO HARD. When really. I'm clever. I have a degree and plenty of experience. And I can write. And I can make things happen and I am ferocious, I know what day is bin day, I can cook a variety of dishes, and my spelling is pretty impeccable when not incensed with wine and over-keyboard-tapping-enthusiasm. And I can change a fuse wire, with my teeth*. 

And sometimes I am so happy and I woke up on the right side of the bed, so much so that the sun is practically shining out of my arse. And then I run into someone who doesn't only wish that I came with a dimmer switch, but who also just wants to use me as a punch bag because I'm "too nice". 

And I'm really good at cooking (bragging rights - I can't run for shit) but sometimes I feel like I have to photograph pictures of me eating beans on toast, which I wholly support as a staple meal, just because I don't want other mums to think I'm perfect or a food snob. And I really, genuinely get giddy off crafting and upcycling furniture because I want to be a Kirstie Allsopp, but not, but better. And I have two rooms in my house that are suitable for photographing in, because the other rooms look like I'm bringing my child up in a derelict house which is a) not on, b) a bit dangerous and c) do you think my Instagram followers know anyone in social services? When really, I'm trying really hard to do my house up so I have at least three rooms to photograph in. You know, for variety. 

And my son sometimes has a snotty nose. Because he just seems to breed colonies of the stuff in his little nose. And sometimes I let him wander around in a nappy and nothing else, because he's like me and likes to feel airy and free**. And sometimes he eats an easy, bung-it meal, when I'm having a steak. Because he would waste the nice steak and I would have less steak and I like steak. So, he can have fish fingers. I'll make him a butternut squash and goats cheese risotto for tea tomorrow, don't worry. 

And I have never co-slept. I have got my breasts back now after 18 months of breastfeeding, and I kind of pushed us to end, because I felt like his...well, his mammary slave. I don't believe in rushing to his side when he falls over because he's a crafty monkey sometimes and will do, as all children do, a little sneaky look at me to gauge my reaction and then decides on: "Oh Mama. Hurt head." And so I kiss it better and we run around and then I fall over and he does the same for me. 

And oddly enough, this sounds ranty, but it's not. It's just - I've learnt recently, that people prefer me just as I am. 

Maybe not as many people prefer me. But I'm pretty much done trying to please those out there who think breastfeeding is weird or that William looks a bit cray in the neon lime shorts that my dad got him. Or that I take too many selfies because, again, bragging rights, I've lost over two stone and used to look like I was eyeing my small child up as a snack. 


So of course I celebrate myself and the person I am and the way I am. 

I'm exactly who I'm supposed to be. 

And I'm no chameleon. The only time I change colour is when I've had a bit of sun or I've done the fake tan dance the night before. I'm not "just a mum", nor am I just a single one, or a working one, or a still-a-bit-chubby girl, or a brunette at 5"6. 

I mean - who am I pretending for? 


**Note: Do not wear nappies.

Childhood Memories

I was asked if I'd like to answer a few questions about my childhood, and more particularly my teenage years. That Mecca Bingo lot are as nosey as I am.

And so I did. Ten questions. And ten answers. And a little opportunity to know more about me, long before I was a mum...

1.     Name your group of best friends during school – are you still friends?

I won't name my old school chums, as I'm the one with the blog, not them. I would say that, instead of friends, they're more people I will always care about and look forward to hearing about, but they aren't really in my life as friends. Two friends from school that I talk to often, at least from my friendship group, are Becki and Kim. Becki got married last year and had her gorgeous little boy this year. I still haven't met him, which makes me sad. Kim is engaged to someone we went to school with and she's going to, without a doubt, be a stunning bride. I wouldn't expect anything less.

2.     What would your typical weekend look like as a teenager?

I would most likely sleep-in. Yes those were the days, And then I'd spend time with my family - I always loved my parents' company, no matter what age. But, for the most part, I'd either spend it walking around the neighbourhood with my friends, hoping to bump into the boy I liked at the time, or writing and singing singing with my best friend Jane.

Let me know in the comments if you can guess which one is me! 

3.     At 14, what did you want to be when you were older? What do you do for a living now?

I wanted to be a journalist or a writer. I was a journalist for several years, until I changed careers to do something more fulfilling with my time. I'm now the Content Lead for Reason Digital and I write this blog, of course!

4.     What artists/bands did you love as a teenager?

I was a cringe-worthy individual but I always stayed true to my love of pop. I loved The Spice Girls, Atomic Kitten, Samantha Mumba, Misteeq, the Backstreet Boys, N*Sync, Britney, Christina, The Pussycat Dolls, J.Lo...and I still listen to them now. Music's personal. Don't look down your nose at me.

5.     Who was your first celebrity crush?

Ewan McGregor. Swiftly followed by Gosling.

6.     What was your favourite film? Is it still your favourite?

Dirty Dancing, back then. I still love it, but I hold quite the torch for The Notebook, as you may already know...

7.     What were your hobbies as a teenager?

Musical theatre. I was part of a theatre school and would regularly perform there and take classes. Then I joined many an am-dram group and sang up until I had Bill really.

8.     Growing up, who were your inspirations? Has this changed and why?

My parents. And no. It hasn't changed. Because I absolutely adore them.

9.     What is your biggest regret?

I worked very hard as a teenager. I achieved straight A's and I never caused my parents any grief. I know a lot of things happen for a reason and that the series of events in my life have led me to where I am now. But teenage Charlotte didn't have enough fun. Luckily, twenty-something Charlotte is making up for that by playing with a two year-old and falling in love with someone who wants to see her laughing and often.

10.   What advice would you give your 16 year old self?

Stop overthinking things. Throw your plan out the window - you'll fail dramatically in parts. And just live your life and grab your moments while you can.

You've so much to learn.

*PR Collaboration.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Da Animuwls

I'm sure that every child is the same.

They have that one toy, or several, that become a part-obsession. They have to come everywhere.

Bath. Bed. The car. The shops. To buy a new sofa. To the toilet with Mummy (yay...).


This boy of mine has animals at home, animals with his dad, animals at Granny and Po's. They have to be everywhere, because it's simply all he wants.

Ask anyone who knows Bill and they will tell you that he will most-likely be found with a children's shopping basket full of toy animals.

"Mama! You help me pwease? Da animuwls are too heavy!"

And so I end up carrying the basket for the most part.

His favourite is the cow.

We have a Mummy cow. A Wiwyum cow. A Mark cow. And a Daddy cow. Interestingly, through these animals, I have learnt that my son not only displays some fantastic agricultural characteristics, but he also fully accepts his world. He always pairs Mummy Cow and Mark Cow together. And Wiwyum Cow will hop between Daddy Cow and our bovine duo.

And everyone is happy is this farmyard scene. And yes, there may be a token Spiderman that used to be my brother's. Along with some dinosaurs that haven't quite got the time period right - I haven't the heart to tell Bill that a cow and a T-Rex will never, ever be friends.

But, for the most part, my boy Bill is quite the animal enthusiast. And even though a few of these plastic buggers have almost maimed me when I've not watched my step carefully enough, they are responsible for some of the best fun we've had recently.

So they can stay.

But obviously Mummy isn't allowed to play with them on her own. Oh no. Farmer Bill is right there to ensure that the cows and dinosaurs are living harmoniously, whilst he hypocritically eats a Kinder Hippo.
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