Where, oh where, shall we go next year?

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Hard to believe now, but I used to be quite the intrepid traveller, whipping off for a cultural adventure in Peru…soaking up the wonders of nature in the Galápagos and Costa Rica… trekking in Thailand… Sorry, have to stop myself there before I get all nostalgic for ‘Young Me’. Those days, of course, were all pre-kids.

Now, I know there are a great many parents out there who continue to have these sort of adventures with their young ones in tow, and I salute and envy these people in equal measure. But I am Not Those Mums, remember. Simply organising a day trip with sterilised containers and 19 changes of toddler clothes was enough to overwhelm me, so family holidays had to take a different path. Continue reading “Where, oh where, shall we go next year?”


No More School Runs

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So, prize for the most embarrassing parent at the Year 6 leavers’ assembly goes to… me. Yep, everyone give a big hand to the mum who couldn’t stop blubbing. Eek! Was it the collection of shiny innocent-looking faces up there on the podium that set me off (notice I say innocent-looking), or glancing down at the programme with the word ‘Goodbye’ scrawled in huge childish letters? Was it the kids’ sincerity when they started warbling out What A Wonderful World without any irony in their sweet voices? Or When A Knight Won His Spurs, a hymn that took me waaaay back to my own primary years with my fellow Not Those Mumma. Oooh, I don’t know, it wasn’t just today if I’m honest – I’ve been feeling a bit wobbly these past few weeks, it has to be said. And indeed there’s enough going on to feel very wobbly about. But, putting disturbing world events aside for a moment, I know my particular jelly-like feelings are rooted in the fact that I’ve reached the end of an era… the school run.

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Now, I know many schools will have broken up already and many of you will be kicking back, relaxing, all thoughts of the classroom banished until September. But if you can bear to, stick with me… for I sort of need a shoulder to cry on (albeit a virtual one).

It’s so strange, this utter emotional wretchedness that has befallen me of late, because if you’d asked me about this a few years ago, I’d probably have said how I couldn’t wait to be relieved of this daily duty – the mad rush in the morning, my child urging me to hurry up (shouldn’t it have been the other way round?), then negotiating all the traffic (hey, give me a break – we live a 40-minute walk away) and cursing people for parking on double-yellows just so they could get that bit closer to the gate rather than ‘park and stride’.

So shouldn’t I be feeling a sense of relief rather than a sense of mourning? Is it because I’m a midlifer that I feel the oncoming change so keenly? Is it my crazy hormones that have been sending me into a tearful mess every time I mentally tick another day off until that final drop-off? Is it just a reminder that I’m getting older or my kids don’t need me so much? Maybe it’s the knowledge that I’ll no longer share a friendly ‘hi’ or pass the time of day with the other parents now. Once they’re in secondary school it takes a very special effort to keep in touch, and that’s hard when people are busy dashing off to jobs as well.


Perhaps it’s the sad realisation that there will be no more hand-holding or a peck on the cheek at the school gate. Or maybe it’s that there will be no more cheering on at sports day, no more hastily put-together class assemblies or helping out at the Christmas fair. Is it because I know that once they hit secondary school, parents become akin to an annoying gnat in the eyes of their offspring? And even if they’re not still too old for a cuddle, peer-pressure and Snapchat put paid to them ever admitting to wanting one.

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But who am I kidding? Maybe I’ve always been this way. Looking back, I can remember returning to work watery-eyed after I’d dropped my first-born at nursery for his first day. He was fine, absolutely fine being separated from me, turning away from me all too easily and giving his lovely new carer a cheerful gummy grin (then again, he had previous on this – his very first smile at six weeks wasn’t at me or his dad, but at the washing machine!). Of course I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way really, but I felt ravaged. Then, once I’d settled into a happy routine of dropping him off, I would pass a school on the way to the station. One day in early September I squeezed past a group of reception-age kids congregating outside with their parents, all waiting to go in on their very special first day of school – and that set me off on another watery-eyed journey, even though it would be four years before my own would be starting school. I could already see the milestones flying by. Goodness only knows what the nursery staff made of me on my boy’s last day there before he joined ‘big school’ – as they sat there wishing him well and letting him tuck in to a farewell piece of cake, I could only look on, dabbing frantically at my misty eyes and blowing my nose emphatically.

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But this has become a bit of a habit, and a source of ridicule among my school-mum friends – who have witnessed the same emotional outpourings from me, whether it was my youngest sitting in uniform waiting to meet his reception class; or waving the older one off on a school trip (I had to remove myself and go and hide in the car, where I had a good blub before I went home to sniff his pillow). At least I didn’t go as far as the mum who ran after the school bus, waving alongside and bawling her eyes out (though in truth my heart was with her).

So, tomorrow morning, if you should pass a crumpled-looking soul in the street – gaunt expression, eyes covered by huge sunglasses even if it’s pouring down, do spare a thought for her – it could well be me!

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The make-up thief

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So, a plump makeup bag nestles safely in my dressing table drawer as I nod off, happy that my high-end foundation is ready to make me look like ‘me, only a million times better’ in the morning. I didn’t want to spend that much on a foundation, but how could I not when I had such amazing compliments from the orange girl at the counter… “Your skin, madam, is luminous! You’re how old? Sorry? Please! Surely you mean thirty eight, not forty eight!” Ahhh, off I nod with a smile on my face.

7am I awake…pillow creases adorn my sallow cheeks, violet blue arcs dented underneath my eyes. But fear not! Liquid magic is awaiting within my make-up bag and soon all will be well with the world – and my face will no longer frighten little children on the morning dog walk. But…what’s this? The red, leather pouch I’ve come to love like a child, seems less padded than last night. In fact, it’s almost flaccid! I zip it open and almost faint. GONE! ALL MY MAKE-UP IS GONE! All that’s left is a nub of a 10-year-old shimmery lippie and a blunt eyeliner. I run – hobble – downstairs as fast as my poor old hips will allow and, just as I thought: there sitting at the kitchen island is The Teen. Not the exhausted looking one with a splattering of hormonal blemishes on her chin who stomped angrily upstairs to bed last night because ‘it’s NOT FAIR’ (can’t remember what wasn’t fair because nothing is fair as far as she’s concerned). No, here was a teen whose skin looked as if it had been caressed and anointed by the fair hands of a hundred sweet singing cherubs. She was glowing with youth, wrinkle free, not a bloody spot or crinkle in sight. Now it’s my turn to say it: IT’S NOT FAIR!

Ok, ok, so leaving secondary school means you’re  old enough to wear makeup BUT how come it’s so expertly applied? And how come it’s MINE?!


Lisa NTM and Queen Teen: it takes a lot of practise to get that pout just right you know!

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Goodbye Hangover Mummy

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Growing up with parents whose partying and drinking habits made Mad Men’s Don and Betty Draper look like teetotal squares, means my childhood memories are full of impromptu house parties where I’d sit on the stairs – way past bedtime – with my siblings, watching the exciting goings on through plumes of smoke from Embassy Gold cigarettes and a pumping soundtrack of Diana Ross and Rod Stewart. I marvelled at the colourful concoctions that the glamorous ladies were sipping and wondered to myself why their dancing became more enthusiastic and their voices louder after each glass. Well, now I know.

Nowadays, my mum and dad are happily sipping red wine on the Costa del Sol and have handed over the party baton – or should that be ‘the party bottle’ – to me with the tipple de jour now being Prosecco rather than Babycham.

My love of bubbles is known throughout social circles and I’m often referred to as Fizzy Friday by many friends who know that when that sweet spot of 5 o’clock on a Friday comes-a-calling (or maybe 4.30 in the summer…) I’m off to our local for cut-price Prosecco night!

Sadly though, I’m realising more and more that my love of bubbles has to be reigned in – as my grown-up kids now delight in informing me. After a few drinks, it doesn’t take ‘fun, party mum’ long before she leaves the building, pushed meanly out of the exit and replaced the next day by stumbling, morose ‘hangover mum’. And boy, she’s not a pretty sight.

I need to face it, my mid-lifer’s body can no longer metabolise alcohol as it once could pre-40. And though I may look quite youthful for my age (*cough* so I’ve been told) there’s no hiding from the slowly disintegrating cells inside my body.

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‘Hangover mum’ can be found curled up on the sofa – a shaking, green wreck of a woman, muttering nonsensical sentences littered with foodstuff words from the carb and sugar category in a pathetic, trembly little voice: “Oooh, head… feel… sick… must have Lucozade… pizza… help… noooo… need bucket… crisps…cheese… bread… water…heeeelp…” I still try the “Mummy has a tummy bug kids, you’ll have to fend for yourself today” excuse, but instead of getting a sympathetic response and a blanket tucked around me, I get smirks and eye-rolls from Grown-Up Girl and Uni Lad, who leave me to fester without even fetching me a glass of water. So selfish!

But it’s not even the hangover that’s the worse thing, it’s the feeling of guilt! As I lie in bed, clutching my head and trying to work out how bad this hangover is on a scale of 1-10 (often 8 and above nowadays), I suddenly have hazy flashbacks of sending love texts to friends at about five drinks in…Oh my god, what did I say? But I can’t open my eyes to check my texts because they’re stuck shut with last night’s clumpy mascara…and have I even got my phone still? Or have I lost it, because I can’t remember getting home or having my bag on me when I left the pub!

Finally managing to feel my way along the wall to the loo, one boob flopping its way out of my PJ vest, I’m seriously hoping the kids haven’t got friends staying over. Stomach churning, I crouch down at the loo and inwardly scold myself. At 48, I really shouldn’t be doing this. My 16-year-old Teen Girl knocks at the door: “Mum…are you okay? I heard you fall on the stairs last night.” Oh dear. My youngest child, she still worries about Mummy, bless her. “I’m fine babe,” I call back in my chirpiest voice, which actually sounds like a 60-year-old East End gangster who’s lived his life on a diet of Marlboro Reds and Jack Daniels. “I think I may have a tummy bug,” I venture between heaves.

“Yeah, right Mum. Course you do.” she sneers. “It’s not big and it’s not clever…” and with that, off trots Teen Girl. And you know what? She’s absolutely right!

'Lisa' hangover

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A Heartful Of Hurt

A Heartful Of Hurt


It’s around this time of the week that we like to bring you a post that hopefully lifts you up, makes you laugh or just brings a wry smile of recognition to your face. But sadly, today it is not to be. We’re just not feeling it after the week that’s been. 

First, all the troubles in Orlando and now the killing of MP Jo Cox, there’s just no lighthearted spin on life this week and nothing we can say will make any of the bad stuff go away.

Every time the news comes on, we’re in tears. We just can’t stop thinking about all the hate in the world, and the lives of those left behind, now lying in tatters. How bloody useless and pointless it all seems when things like this happen. What a waste of people’s lives! We can’t imagine the pain of the families and friends of those involved in the Orlando massacre, the annihilation of the US Voice singer, and of the little boy whose life ended at a Disney resort, of all places.

We can’t stop thinking about Jo Cox’s two little girls, aged only three and five, just starting out on life’s journey and now so cruelly robbed of their mother. Her poor bereft husband, one minute perhaps making plans for Father’s Day, the next making plans for a funeral.

It doesn’t matter whose life has been taken, of course, but the fact this was a particularly good woman who could relate to her constituents and had their best interests at heart somehow makes it even more poignant. There’s no mature way of saying it really – life sucks sometimes and it’s just not fair.

There’s a haze of gloom over us at the moment, as we think about the world our kids are growing up in, and worry what sort of future they will find themselves in.

All we can do is hope for some kind of brighter tomorrow, though that’s cold comfort for those who have to live with the horrors in the here and now. We have to try to hang on to the fact that there are some amazing, fabulously kind and awesome people out there that do all sorts of good and help spread peace and love for everyone – and just hope that some sick individual doesn’t take them from our world too. Meantime, however irksome they may be at times, we’re going to cherish our loved ones and hold them extra tight this weekend.

Jo CoxTributes to Jo Cox in Parliament Square                                                              BBC News


It doesn’t add up!

Maths equation = no dinner

The end of GCSEs is thankfully on the horizon for many, so in support of our teens going through it at the moment, here are three questions that always pop up in our grown-up world:

The Numbers Quiz

Okay, so maths has never been my strong point, but here’s an equation that just doesn’t add up, so can someone please explain: On Wednesday, Mary goes to the supermarket and spends up to £100 on groceries. The fridge is full and nodding matily to its friend, the snack cupboard, who winks back and give a thumbs up. But come Friday and the kids get home from school there is nothing left in the cupboard and Mary is scrabbling around at the back of the freezer trying to find something (anything! 😳) she has ‘prepared earlier’ (as if! She’s just not one of those mums, remember). 😭 Answers to this connundrum please on our comments page. (There will be a prize of a squishy brown banana for the best response.)

The ‘Odds-on This Always Happens’ Equation:

Take your bets, please, ladies and gents: in percentage terms, how likely is it that at exactly the moment your own kids are acting feral in public, you – harassed, red, sweating – will look up and see the perfect Von Trapp family with its cherub-like offspring giving you the snooty one-raised eyebrow treatment, a book titled Brain Games for Clever Kids smugly sticking out of Mother Dearest’s tote bag? (Aren’t all kids clever? They’re certainly manipulative!) We’ll give you the answer to this, as if you didn’t know: it happens 100% of the time. ‘Course it does.

The Aural Comprehension Test:

This is a listening exercise: try it next time you have to phone Apple Support, Amazon, or any technical department of a worldwide corporation. You’ve dialled up, tapped through the various buttons until you finally….FINALLY… get through to an actual human being to talk to. But hang on… is it an actual human being, or is it in fact a robot? Because first there’s the staccato speech. ‘HELLO-MAD-AM. YOU-ARE-SPEAKING-TO- *Indecipherable – possibly a code number* TODAY. HOW-MAY-I-HELP-YOU?’ And then after the sort of autoscript-you’re-not-sure-you’re-listening-to-a-recording-or-not voice, it throws you by asking a question. Oh, it IS a human voice, you decide, but then you make some silly mistake, faff about saying, ‘Oooh, the serial number? Umm, silly me, I don’t seem to be able to find that…er… let me just get my reading glasses…’ and there isn’t the affirmation of a sympathetic, or even fed-up human reaction. So you try to make a little joke. ‘A-ha-ha’ you might say in a jaunty tone, ‘I know those glasses must be in my bag somewhere… I know I had them only yesterday… trouble is, I need them to find them, a-ha-ha-ha… Oh! They’re on my head!’ Big fat nothing on the other end. Come on, even SIRI has the temerity to give you a bit of backchat. But no, these beings are polite, they deal with your problem, they are uncannily effective in sorting out your problem, they don’t tend to transfer you or put you on hold. And at the end of your call, no matter how much trouble you’ve been, in the same staccato tone, they tell you they really enjoyed speaking with you today and wish you a good day. And that’s surely the big giveaway isn’t it – for no mere mortal customer service operator is ever that happy to have dealt with you, surely?

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O.M.D (Oh.My.Dog!)

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By the time I’d had my eldest two settled into secondary school and my youngest started in Year Four, mums at school would ask me whether I ‘was finished, or ready for number four’. It was a question I’d been pondering myself. I was 42 then and still couldn’t say for definite that I didn’t want another baby, but I felt time might be running out. Continue reading “O.M.D (Oh.My.Dog!)”