A friend of mine invited me to do a podcast on motherhood for her friend / client Lisa York. I agreed! You can find it (and also a brief summary of it) here (warning: loads a little slowly), on Lisa York’s SuperMum website.
Yes…. SuperMum. I have to admit that my friend asked me to do a podcast and I was all “yeah! yeah, sure!” and never really asked what it would be about (I know.. I know). Then ON THE DAY of the podcast I listened to some of the archived podcasts (which I loved!), and dug around in the site and found out that it was all about tips for motherhood. Interestingly, not parenting per se, but motherhood – how to keep sane, or keep happy, or just keep going while “mum-ing”. For example, there were tips on how a quick morning meditation can help your day, and how to have a quick “mummy reboot” or how to “Find Your Lost Identity”. So, my immediate reaction was to look at my unwashed hair and creased clothes, and the general disarray of my life, and think “Cripes, I have got literally nothing to offer here”. It is not unusual for me to wear the same clothes three days in a row because I didn’t have time to wash / choose / think about anything else. There. I admitted it. Be grateful I use Febreeze y’all.Plus, I was worried Lisa would also want parenting tips, and I don’t give parenting a lot of thought. I’m not saying I am a brilliant parent-er, but through a combination of over confidence and and inertia (I like to think inertia sounds better than laziness) I I just mostly do what feels right at the time, somewhat in consultation with the other ‘alf, and rarely actually take stock of what I am doing. I mean, I am prone to suddenly going “ermagahd we all need watch less TV” or “waaaaah, the minions are not being adequately controlled by their masters and anarchy is on the horizon in this household” but at these points I can’t think of a time where I have investigated HOW to watch less TV, or HOW to control the parasites. I just sort of try to do it for a little while, and when a new panic comes [“We all need to take Probiotics everyday or we’ll be 20-stone and ridden with ebola!”] I forget about the old one, and who knows if I actually effected any behavioral change.
I am totally on board that I could do things better, and that my kids could be better in some areas, but I am just not motivated enough to like, read a book about it, or an article. Or, let’s face it, even a listicle (unless it has super amazing gifs, including one of Ryan Reynolds (Greatest Dad Ever TM) in his underwear). I do love that plenty of my friends read this stuff, because then when I am whining that my kids can’t do a basic human act like sit at the dinner table, I can absorb their collective wisdom (nicely digested, synthesized and often tested) as I sob into my Malbec.So, I totally freaked out, but Lisa (who runs the website and its podcasts) was ah-maz-ing and told me just to be myself and then gave me a write-up that made me even want to listen to myself (to be clear: I have not! Ha! I am way too awkward and worried that I’ll sound like a fool or spend all the time fretting about my answers to do that). But, I am glad I did it. As we talked about things like differences between the US and the UK, and the fact that I don’t read parenting books, I am super worried that I will offend someone – but still, I am glad I did it. And I definitely enjoyed it. And Lisa seemed to think that the message of “Oh, I’m just winging it because I guess deep down I don’t think what we do makes an enormous difference anyway…” was an OK message to put out there. Or maybe even a reassuring one. So, if you needed to here it – there we go.
I’m winging it and you can too 🙂
But also, it was good that one of Lisa’s goals with SuperMum is just to tell mum’s stories… and I really enjoyed listening to those – kind of like an audio blog if you will. I’ve subscribed on itunes and I am trying to listen to new podcasts on the way to work, so maybe some tips will seep in after all…
Oh, and at the end of the podcast every person is asked to give their definition of a SuperMum. Apparently the most common definitions involve happiness and health. I won’t tell you what my definition of a SuperMum is (go listen to the podcast!) but can I just make a plea that we stop tying success to happiness and health? Both of those are gifts that are only somewhat within our control. It’s easy to agree that someone who has cancer / has children with cancer (i.e. the health part is tough) is no less a SuperMum than someone without. So, can we generalize and say that someone who is depressed / has children with depression – or is even just struggling to be happy and content right now – is also no less a SuperMum. And this obviously goes beyond parenting: your success, and your worth and your value does not have to tied up to your health and happiness. It’s up to you to decide what it is tied to…
I make no secret of the fact that I hate Houston. But last Saturday there was a detente in our relationship as Autumn hit. The cooler, dry air may be playing havoc with Sam’s eczema but teamed with Houston’s bright blue skies it’s glorious for being out in. An ideal afternoon is now spent playing with the children in front of the house, biking and walking to the park, Ellie around our feet. It’s almost idyllic and helps me wrap up in my family and shut out the ugliness of the world.
It’s the best bits of England made better – hardly any rain and it’s not cold but fresh. The dark nights roll in and it’s still nice to have a drink on the porch (or in the garage if, like us, you don’t have a porch.
So why does it make me so homesick? It makes me crave those parts of England I thought I would be glad to leave behind: walking with the damp permeating your clothes, dying for that cup of tea and Tunnocks tea cake, hiding under blankets inside… I miss the too cold, the too wet, the too dark. Even in its perfection, Houston is not my home.
“When one door closes, another opens” – Alexander Graeme Bell.
Is it weird that I have ‘internet friends’? As in, people I interact with and feel an attachment to, but have never met? I mean, I have an ‘internet husband’ I guess (in that we met online and I was attached to him before I ever met him… not that I still have not met him 😉 ), so are internet friends the next step? Maybe… And, while I realize this whole story my make me sound distinctly odd, today I ‘lost’ one friend but gained another.
In 2010 when I took up running, I began following a blog called ‘Healthy Tipping Point‘ because it had lots of good running and exercise and healthy eating tips, without being too overly preachy or extreme. It was written by Caitlyn Boyle, the woman who started Operation Beautiful. Reading blogs is weird – they can contain so much personal information that you start to identify with someone, even though you have never met them. I remember in 2011 when Caitlyn announced she was pregnant, I was insanely jealous and I think reading her bump updates tipped me over the edge to want to try for Samuel instead of waiting for the year we originally planned. Then because we were pregnant ‘together’ (ahem) I would read Caitlyn’s blog as a ‘heads-up’ about what was coming… then she birthed her son and I followed all her posts on being a new parents and figuring that malarky out, while figuring it out myself. And so on… then she had a daughter… she sent me her maternity swimsuit which I used a lot while pregnant with Caroline (it was about the only form of exercise I could stomach after the hyperemesis). Once, she even responded to one of my comments personally (fan girl moment!).
Anyway – if that didn’t make me sound weird and stalker-ish enough, this might: she recently decided to completely stop blogging and I actually felt very sad. How weird is that? I guess I can best liken it to when you finish a fiction book and are all sad that characters won’t be in your life anymore? Know what I mean? But yes, I was actually really sad. I wanted to call my husband and tell him of my great woe, but since he doesn’t even fully understand why I get sad when real live friends leave Houston, I decided to leave that one lest he have me committed…
But, on the same day, another door opened.
Las (you can find her here) is someone I have been interacting with for over a year – but never met. It started with reading her blog when a mutual friend shared a post once (so be warned if I read your blog… I may start to think of us as friends 😉 ). Then said friend shared her FaceBook status update asking if anyone could help her find a baby cocoon for impending newborn, as the lady who was supposed to make her one had gone into early labor and wouldn’t be making it, and her newborn shoot was imminent. I love loom knitting, so I offered to do it (I made a cute hat to boot… I’ll ask Las if I can post a better picture, but as her son is in it, I need permission!).
I dropped off the cocoon at her house and added her on Facebook and never thought about it again. Then soon after her son was born, Las got sick (learned of this through FB) and so I dropped around a frozen mac n cheese, since I was making one for Wes. We ended up talking on Facebook often over parenting issues, anyway. I have offered to write a post for her blog (which I will do!), and donated money to a few causes that are close to her heart. It got to the stage where I felt I knew her but we’d never met… until today.
I confessed to Las (on Facebook… always on FaceBook) that between having a newborn, being sick, having a sick toddler, having a sick newborn and trying to keep up with work, I was close to a letdown (OK, I may have had a meltdown…). Around she came with the greatest gift of all: homemade food. I can’t tell you how much junk food we have been eating and how very, very sick of it I am (I pretty much stopped eating meals and loved off pretzels and cheese strings). OK, maybe the greatest gift of all was some adult company for a few hours, and a playmate for Sam… but a ginger cake, a date crumble, a tray of lasagne, a slow cooked chicken and a bag of pulled pork comes pretty close. Now I have fresh food to eat and someone has come over and not died at the sight of our house (which is in the worst state!) and life is looking a lot better indeed. It’s just a huge weight off my mind to have food, and healthy body healthy mind rings true for me – I feel much better after my lunch of a bagel and fresh chicken, than I usually do after a pile of chocolate and crisps.
So… internet friends. Is this weird? Or is this a ‘thing’ now? Either way, it’s pretty awesome, especially when you are traveling academic whose 2 kids doesn’t let her get out too much.
Internet friends. You win some, you lose some (sorry, I couldn’t resist)..