The Dutiful Mother

I have been child rearing for 8.5 years, and sometimes I think I’m a bit of a veteran, having 3 of the blighters and all. But as in anything, I am standing on the shoulders of giants, giant other-mothers, who over the years have given me words or insights that have been key to my evolution as a mother.

The dutiful mother…

I’ve written about her before, elsewhere, and she has stayed with me for the past 8 years. She is the sister of a good friend of G, and I met her at a flat when I had a 3 month old and she had a 4 year old and 5 month old. I was aaahing and oohing over her two, saying how much she must love being a mum etc. She looked at me straight up and said “It’s not about love, first and foremost I am a dutiful mother”. She went on to express to me how of course she loved her kids etc, but that mothering is not always about the roses and hearts and flowers (a place I totally was with my ONE very easy 3-month old) but about being there for the duration, and doing your duty by your kids through thick and thin.

As slightly shocking as her words were at that moment, they have come back to me many times over the years, and as a well seasoned mum of 3 now I totally get it. You love them, you do. But it’s not love that always keeps you going ‘cos sometimes you feel that you don’t like them, and in those times it’s your duty as a mother that keeps you feeding, cleaning, working, hugging, washing and all the other tasks that you have to do.

I’m not saying that duty keeps you from enjoying them, I’m saying that in fact it’s the backbone of good enough parenting, and of this type of long term care that can too often be thankless and relentless.

So, thank you dutiful mother, your words have grounded and comforted me.

The Dutiful Mother

Mum’s the word

Wrote a post this week and used the term “mum cut”, and I didn’t mean in in a nice way. Mum jeans, mum cut, frumpy, mumsy, yummy mummy, MILF…we need to reclaim this terminology, which is either derogatory or sexual. Where are the powerful words?

Being a mother,a  woman with child, can be powerful, strong, dignified, and unashamed.

Reclaiming vocabulary is an important part of this!



Mum’s the word

Frumpification and all that jazz

I recently read this article, entitled Why I won’t dress like a mum, on the Guardian website by Molly Gunn.

The writer disclaims herself at the beginning, by saying she doesn’t want to be a traitor to fellow mums, and admitting it’s hard enough being a mum without having yet more pressure of looking tip-top while doing it. She goes on to suggest ditching the mummy “frumpification” of cosy knits, Ugg boots and “mum” coat for bright Millionhands jumpers and Nike Air Max. She also goes on to cuss babyish change bags and says she just uses her Marc Jacobs hobo.

Ugg boots? Over 200 euros. Marc Jacobs Hobo? 400 euros. Millionhands jumpers? 80 euros. Exactly which mums are you talking about?

I would buy “boring” darker coloured tops and jumpers because, guess what, I can wear them 2-3 times (stains allowing) with different combos and look like I’m mixing things up. I can’t do that with a loud print from whatevs shops you go to, I could wear that once a week max. Maybe that saves me money, maybe that saves me thinking too much. And to be painfully honest, I haven’t bought a new jumper since 2005 (I’m all 2nd hand, baby!).

I use whatever bag I have lying around as a change bag, usually a cloth shopping bag. If I had a fancy printed changebag, I would use that and I wouldn’t give a crap if it was deemed babyish, I would be with a baby in tow for christ’s sake!

I find it a bit distasteful to be talking about things like this when so many people are in financial dire straits. But maybe that’s my problem, maybe I have a chip on my shoulder.

I find it a bit distasteful to heap on the pressure to mums, read: new mums, when there is so much else (dare I say more important stuff?) to think about than whether I wear my Ugg boots or swap them (too frumpy!!) for some Nike Airs.

I’m all for not letting your appearance “go” after having kid. But we all coast for a while, until the time is right. I do get slightly sad when I see my friends get a “mum cut” (or myself!) but I also swell with pride that she (for the moment) has put her sanity and her kids first by eliminating something that can take up precious time.

I’m also proud of her when she goes and gets that haircut finally, and sports a new outfit after she admits that, 6 months after birth, it’s  perhaps time to ditch the maternity jeans.

I wish I could see so much more solidarity amongst women, especially on their post partum journey.

And in the unlikely event that Molly Gunn does read this, I think you look f-ing fab in every outfit you chose. And though you didn’t mean it as a tip, I think the idea of getting a waterproof jacket with a hood (‘cos you can’t push a pram holding an umbrella) is genius and I wish I had thought of that one!



glass of wine

I was planning on going out tonight, so pleased that my social life had started to kick in again. Nothing fancy, some old colleagues at as friends house, some wine, some nibbles.

But this week was a killer. Today was a killer. Illness, fighting, swearing, chaos, sapped me. Knowing tomorrow will be more of the same, I cancelled. The thought of doing tomorrow what I did today on even less as sleep and a possible hangover is something I cannot contemplate.

Off for a  wine and a as sneaky fag in the kitchen.

glass of wine

On a break

Hello my little blog!

I missed you….sorry I’ve been absent for a while. You see, I’ve had this little change in my life. It begins with a W, ends with a K and has o and r somewhere in between.

The W word may come between us for a while, who knows, it may even be the thing that breaks us apart in the end.

I want you to know that I value you and that, whatever happens, our few months together have been special. I hope they were good for you too.

You are great, you have eased my mind when it was full to burst, you have provided me with some great reading via our mutual friends (hi!) and also helped me to further a new passion for me: social networks and social media.

All the while we have been in the company of our trusty old companion, writing. Writing will always be ours.

Is this a goodbye? I don’t know what to say blog…I’ve got to work 39 hours a week and, as you know, 3 children…I hope I will be able to spend some time on you, but (and I hope you don’t take this personally) you are just not a priority at the moment.

Lets just say we are taking a break for the moment.

All my love, as always.

xx mamacita.


On a break

On the joys of cleaning

I just finished cleaning my flat, and it feels good. I love the feeling of positive energy it brings with the windows thrown wide to dry the floors. I love walking around with bare feet and not getting bits stuck all over them, I love going to the toilet and not staring at streaks of toothpaste and puddles of grime and smelling toilet smells while I’m sitting on it.

For me there are 2 types of cleaning: the first is everyday picking up, more like clearing. Me and G (DH) usually do this last thing after all the kids are in bed. Together we clear up all the odds and end that have built up over the day, we empty snack bags and the buggy, sort the kitchen out, brush under the dining table, the couch pillows get plumped. I love sitting on the couch after that, usually I’m showered too by then so I feel like the day is “done” and I can just kick back for a bit in the quiet, tidy space.

It’s also the time we wrap up the day and think about the following day. We get food out of the freezer for tomorrow’s meals and have a little sense check of what is coming up, we talk about the ins and outs of our day. If it is Sunday night we get the calendar down and look at the week ahead and organise how to deal with any appointments or obligations, we make a weekly meal plan and a shopping list. I usually make another list of things I want to get done during the week, and if there is a really big task or lots of paperwork to be done we divide up the jobs we need to do on a list each and make a date as to when they will be done by.

We have learned by trial and error that these things cannot be talked about and done properly with kids around, we need relative quiet to organise our minds and our household stuff. In non-stop times, when we have too many social commitments, when we get the kids to bed too late or I need early nights because of broken sleep exhaustion or illness and we don’t have “an evening”, we try to communicate through kids’ chat and interruption, but it’s not the same.

I really appreciate this little routine that we have, it helps us to function well as a family and as a couple. Things are not perfect between me and G, but this is one of the things (one big thing) I appreciate and value about our relationship: the routines, the rhythms of family life, the pleasant sense of one foot in front of the other, of being together on the same page, our family values of home, food, activities, all coming together.

The other type of cleaning, the ‘heavy’ cleaning, gets done theoretically once a week: hoovering, mopping and getting the bathroom (used to be changing the sheets too, but learned through trial and error that usually just after changing sheets someone would wet the bed, so now I just wait for that). This type of cleaning breaks you out in a sweat and you need a shower after. It involves picking up all sorts of stuff before hand so as to get to the floor and bathroom. I tend to go around the house with an empty washing basket, plop all the stuff that shouldn’t be where I find it into the basket, and then walk around with the basket putting it all away. Sometimes I forget the putting away part for the moment, and an annoying basket of random crap sits around until the next time I need it for clean clothes.

Other stuff, like cleaning the walls, kitchen windows, fridge, or doing deep decluttering, happens a few times a year, and these moments usually mark rhythms in our family life, too. They happen before Christmas, before births (there have been three in the past few years!), before big life changes (going back to work/school) or over the summer when G is often here alone and he goes to work on the deep layers of mess (I know, what a gem).

Most people I know here have a cleaner, it’s normal here in Spain, though it wasn’t where I grew up in the UK. When I have some extra cash I think I will pay someone to do my heavy cleaning once a week, at least while the kids are young. I feel like it will be buying back 2 hours of family time, time I could be out with them at the park or library.

Sometimes I have wished for a maid to just come and tidy up at the end of the day when you are just exhausted. I’ve fantasised about those rich people who don’t lift a finger. But maybe it wouldn’t be the same. Maybe I wouldn’t have the same sense of family rhythm and connectedness to my partner. Maybe less satisfaction of hard work done well, a sense born of getting to work on the flat, finishing the task, showering and sitting here boring you lot about it! Haha.


Note: just doing a bit of blog “cleaning” here and had to LOL at the idea of what I wrote above being true to me in the now. Now I work, the idea of all this organisation is LAUGHABLE: Lists! Decluttering!! Nightly shower!!! I think I went back to full time work mere days after this was written, so looking back it’s quite ironic that this was probably the last time my flat was actually clean. Ha!

On the joys of cleaning

Postcard exchange, woohoo


Finally got round to posting this rather snazzy postcard I got some time ago all the way from Atlanta courtesy of atlantamomofthree. THANKYOU!!! And sorry it took so long, technical difficulties sweety darling.

Postcard exchange, woohoo