Thursday, 21 September 2017

Stopping to smell the unidentified plant!

It’s fair to say that September has been a hectic month so far, in a very different way to the usual hectic that I’m used to – or at the very least have surrendered to! It’s not every month that you have a book published, and excitement is still at an all-time high, but there was lots else going on in the background including a return to school for many, the starting at a new school for one, the return of the dreaded homework and the loss of our lovely dog.

It has been a lot to manage at the same time and it’s felt a bit like the family has been galloping on the proverbial hamster wheel with a promise that things will settle down next week when we’re used to the return to school and all the homework again - or the week after when slowly, Rodney stops being the first thing mentioned when the kids go out to the back garden, or the weekend after when my deadlines are met - until the following week anyway, or the week after that when the promise of some other achievement beckons and suggests we can take our foot off the gas – however briefly.

It’s easy when you’re in the middle of it all to think everything HAS to be done now. This morning one of my teenagers had a day off school. The temptation was there to take advantage of having an older child at home to distract the youngest and convince him, momentarily, that being surgically attached to mum isn’t “all that”. One of the great things about having teenagers (yes sceptics, there actually are some great things) is that they serve as a fantastic reminder as to how quickly time goes by.

So with my, “already the same height as me” teenager off school for the day, giving me the opportunity to take advantage and spend some quality time with him, I decided to hop off the wheel and go for a hot chocolate and cake. I figured those pressing deadlines can be met tonight – I mean who needs sleep, certainly not my youngest anyway!

It was lovely not only to catch up with him properly and to really hear about his new school adventures, but also to be reminded that this is one of the many upsides of parenthood – and I’m not just speaking about the excuse for toffee covered doughnuts.

So I’m pushing the hamster wheel to one side. What needs to be done, still needs to be done, but I’m determined to slow down and smell the eh……..whatever that plant is that used to live in the pot on our front doorstep until the youngest de-potted and presented it to me.

Well that is to say I’ll do it soon, because at the moment, all I can smell is his nappy!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

He wasn't "just a dog"

Almost seventeen years ago, a colleague at work told me that her dog had had pups. "They're a cross between a red setter and a border collie" she said adding that "Bella" their mum was a gentle soul - "Don't suppose you want one?" she asked. The words were barely out of her mouth when I made the phonecall to my hubby to persuade him we needed a dog.

He didn't take much convincing, and just like that the plans were made and we waited until our pup was ready for separation from his mother. My colleague told me that she had the perfect one earmarked for us. "he's the runt of the litter she said, "but I just know he'll be perfect one for you"

And so we went to the farm to collect our pup, under no obligation to choose the "runt" but found ourselves drawn to this particular pup with two different-coloured eyes. There was just something about him.

We wrapped him in a towel and I made a silent promise to his lovely mum, that we would look after him always and love him forever. I was a first time mum-to-be myself and I felt so guilty for taking him away from her.

As we drove home, our ball of fur Rodney snuggled on my husband's lap and moments later threw up all over him. I'm not sure whether it was it the car drive or the trauma of separation that caused it. Rodney always seemed to be so attuned to life and his surroundings. Maybe rather than a skill acquired, it was something he was born with.

Rodders became our practice baby ahead of the birth of our first actual one.  My sister sat with him while I attended ante-natal classes.  I watched the neighbourhood cats suspiciously as they prowled along the back garden walls. Precious first born syndrome seemed to kick in with my puppy dog and Mama Bear was ready to protect him from ferocious felines!

And like most first borns, his every move and different pose was photographed. His energy was inexhaustible. Always running and bounding. Always excited and always bloody digging - but forever gentle. He was his mother's son.

And when my daughter came to join the party, Rodney, though still adored, accepted his move further down the pecking order. He loved company which was just as well, as the numbers grew and grew. He was a horse, bad guy, good guy, unicorn, cushion, reindeer and scoffer of food the kids didn't want to eat. He sniffed each new baby as they arrived home, and licked away the tears that fell for the miscarried ones.

He had special dinner on his birthdays and his sock hung on the mantle-piece alongside those of my children every Christmas Eve. He loved to swim in the sea and rivers, yet was never so keen on being washed with clean water. He knocked unsuspecting visitors over with excited welcomes and chewed everything that was dropped accidentally in the garden

He drove me crazy, robbing washing from the basket as I tried to hang it on the line and took us for a walk rather than the other way round - until lately.

Recently he got old, or at least it seemed recently. The passing of time seemed suddenly to creep up on him  - and us. And the washing basket dramas were because he couldn't see it, so he fell into it. And the walks became less about managing to tire him out and more about his managing to stand up. And that gorgeous face looked so tired and those beautiful two different coloured eyes, couldn't see so well, but still looked at us so trustingly.

And we tried because we loved him so much, and we didn't want to say goodbye and we sought assurances that he wasn't in pain and that he had a quality of life until it became so blatantly apparent that he didn't.

So we said goodbye - and our hearts are broken.

He wasn't "just a dog". He was part of our family.

We'll miss you always Rodney and we'll love you forever - I promise . xx

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

I'm up for an award - and I'd LOVE your vote please!

So ahem, cough, cough,

Mama-tude is up for Best Parenting Blog in the Boots Maternity and Infant Awards (woohoo!!). I would be so, so incredibly grateful if you could take the time to vote for me.

Its really easy - just click on the image.  It only takes a second.

Thanks so much

Jen x

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The Blurb is Out!!

Woohoo, sharing the full book sleeve to reveal the blurb on the back which will give you an idea of what The Real Mum's Guide to (Surviving) Parenthood is all about! The headshot incidentally was taken by the genius that is Sabrina Dunny. Not only did she ensure this total photo-phobe felt comfortable - she also managed to banish the look of 16 years' sleep deprivation!

The book is now available to pre-order on the Orpen Press website and they've very kindly given me a 20% discount code for followers of Mama-tude. So if you fancy getting in early, the code is "Mama-tude" and the link is here
I'm on countdown!!!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Book Cover Reveal and Publication Date!

2017 has been one of the craziest, busiest years of my life. In a rare turn of events, I am neither pregnant nor mum to a brand new baby, but I have been working on a different project - a literary type of "eighth baby."

What started as an exciting new venture, back in February has finally come to fruition. I thought nothing could top the excitement of the offer of a publishing deal - I was wrong. The arrival of my book cover, with the book's title, and MY NAME on it, has knocked that original excitement out of the park.In fact I still can't look at it without hopping from one leg to the other like an excited child!

So without further ado (and because I'm too excited to write much more!) -  here it is:

"The Real Mum's Guide to (Surviving) Parenthood", will be published by Orpen Press on the 5th September.

And the cover....

So there you have it. No doubt the hopping will continue between now and September 5th although I've been assured that this is nothing - and to wait until I'm holding a physical copy of it. (I may actually burst with excitement at that stage!!!)

The countdown continues. We're nearly there! 😀😀