“I’m just holding my vulva” You laugh recklessly As we walk along the pavement And swiftly through our front door Filling the room Floor to ceiling With loudness “I’ve been learning about what’s in my Pants Today” You Say “I haven’t got a willy mummy But if I had I’d swing it”.
Snippets Of 4 Nights In France
We have made a routine In another country With morning pains au chocolat and walks up the river with the promise of an ice cream at the end. Adventures to neighbouring coastal towns void of humans. Navigating driving around roundabouts on the right in a campervan while juggling your endless questions about where other people might be going and the sudden explosion of noise when you spot a UK sticker. Never have I had so many conversations about UK stickers and number plates. Foreign words tried out on repeat un, deux, trois s’il vous plaît Bonjour. Snakes and ladders found in a draw of the air bnb I wish I’d never opened - it’s all you want to play but if I win the noise can probably be heard from the galette cafe down the road. So I let the battle be lost by me and stuff another piece of croissant into my mouth and slurp my tea Noisily. Counting steps up to a view of the sea ending on a different number each day despite the same amount of steps. Sand castles made on a windy beach in the evening sun that’s still chilly in the early spring evenings. The excitement and fear your little hand communicates as we navigate crossing a stream as it meets the sea. So many emotions packed into a few metres and minutes and your celebrations as we reach the other side punctuates the end of another day of routines that are already familiar. Meeting disappointment head on as we find out the Boulangerie is shut on Jeudi’s which jars our morning routine. Pure joy on your face at finding that the village shop sells baguettes on a Jeudi. More joy on your face at eating the baguette from the paper bag while walking by the river on the way home saying Bonjour and Aurevoir to the water as it hides and reappears between bricks. The excitement at seeing the same duck each day And the laughter when it turns upside down. Thought you'd stick your head in the water and look for some food did ya Duck You shout like a football fan might shout at Lionel Messi. Trips to the village shop hoping to find inspiration for dinner where the same food sits on the same shelves. Finding out the wooden sliding blind in your room has a handy hole in the middle to slide it back and forth with but the person who designed it failed to think of the sunlight that could waft in and wake a sleeping child at an unhelpful time in the morning. And so the adventures go on And so we sing the same song And so Tim Minchin has a lot to answer for As Revolting Children has been the theme tune to our time away and it’s impossible to get it out of my head even after considering to learn the words in French in the middle of the nuit. Routines in a different country Figuring things out as we go Your sadness as we say goodbye But we will be back, we know.
Saturday Morning Window
Sitting outside the Seagull Cafe in the rain Huddled in a corner looking at traffic And loving every minute £2 well spent on a good cup of tea Made for me The all day breakfast menu Attracting my attention Not enough time As Aldi errands cut short my 45 minute window Maybe next week But for this moment You’re happy at Magic Moves Dancing about in your rabbit ears And Christmas tights And penguin dress that’s a bit too small And I’m happy watching traffic In the rain With a cup of tea Just for me.
Forgetting The Rule
Don't ask them questions Straight after school That's how it goes, the unwritten rule I usually abide As this rule makes sense But today I said it And got my comeuppance Tell me three words to describe your day Poo, fart, bum You quickly say Laughing and laughing you run down the road The three words saying back off in 5 year old code.
The anticipation of what will happen When you get dressed Is more than I can bear This phase is going on forever And it’s one I can never share With anyone As it’s first thing in the morning Getting dressed for school And it might not be a phase anyway It might not be a phase at all. Every morning you throw your pants about You scream and shout Complain about your leggings You won’t put on your socks They’re falling down They’re itchy They’re scratchy I hate leggings You’re not helping me Stop helping me We try getting dressed at the same time But you yell You’ve got your pants on before me And you collapse in a heap crying I’ve tried getting dressed slowly So slowly But you still don’t get dressed. We’ve tried getting dressed in your room In my room With music on With music off Downstairs, upstairs, in the bathroom With me leaving you to it With me saying I’ll meet you downstairs Hurry up warmer weather, help me out You lived in your £2 dress and pants last summer So quick to put on without even a shout But what if it’s too small now… …this phase may not be a phase at all.
Did you know my laugh echoes in the darkness You say on a wet and windy evening As we find ourselves in the desolate park Your face beaming as you get on the swing Oblivious to the depressing playground with not much in And the cold, dark December feeling The bit between Christmas day and New Year. Wonky Donkey you shout As I lift the swing higher and higher And move it about to make it wobble Your pink neon unicorn hat making its way through the air You wee in a hedge And we start walking home With your laugh echoing in the darkness The day before new years eve. We spontaneously go to a pub For half a pint of lager and a packet of crisps And an apple juice You make the man laugh behind the bar Flicking up the ears on your unicorn hat And he says you’ve made his day And I’m glad we ventured out To buy bin liners And visit the park Needing a break from the inside On this dark, December evening And we walk home, our laughs echoing in the darkness.
Do the numbers, do the numbers you say After you spin, twirl and wiggle along the corridor While I fill up your bath Craig Revel Hall you shout 4 I reply Oh no! you gasp Shirley Something you say A ten from Shirley, never too early I reply Yes! You shriek, a smile as wide as your ears Mokski you say 9 Yessssssss Anton Du Wotsit you announce 7 I say Nooo mum say 8 8 I say Whoopie! Good old Anton you shout And you run along the corridor into my arms Grinning from ear to ear Do it again, do it again you demand But this time I want 40! And so it goes on Until the bath is full And then it’s my turn And Craig gives me a 1 And you fall about laughing And you can’t believe Craig would do that Even though you’re being Craig And so it goes on And on And on And on And on.
Sunday cooking Batch cooking Make enough for the week cooking Thinking ahead cooking Trying to cook as quickly as I can cooking Saving time in the days to come cooking Saving money cooking Let’s have something from the freezer cooking At least it will be home cooked cooking ‘Please play’ you say ‘and stop your cooking’ ‘Just need a little bit longer’ I reply ‘What about me’ shouts the oven ‘The oil is ready now’ says the frying pan ‘Chop me up, chop me up’ chirp the vegetables ‘Play, play, PLAY’ you shout The cacophony of demands ringing in my ears From the real to the imaginary Everything blurs I fast forward to the days ahead When I wake up from my bed And choose something from the freezer To help life feel a bit easier Batch cooking all the way Just need a little bit longer and then I’ll play.
I drop something You say Shit You laugh knowing it’s a word not for you I think oh no I’ve said it too many times A bit later you drop a spoon You say What the Hell I think oh no I’ve said it too many times The next day you’re struggling to put on your shoes You said Ucking Nell I think oh no I’ve said it too many times I try hard to say Sugar Plum Fairies It doesn’t have the same Umph. Bollocks.
Camping # 2
(to be read after Camping # 1)
Why are we camping I ask myself In the heat Sweating my arse off Swearing into the air Frustration right there The shelter needs to go up You need food We need to find the water tap I need the toilet And a cup of tea They will have to wait The heat rises in the air And so do your emotions You shout, getting it all out We could return home Sleep in our own beds Eat at a table But we are here In a field Out of choice In the air that feels like An oven And we will have fun Yes we will have fun I promise Once I've got this f**king Shelter Up.
Camping # 1
(to be read just before Camping # 2)
You run through the grass Towards me "Spin me Mummy' you shout I twirl you around you laugh head back, smiling You wear butterfly wings immersing yourself in the nature of the field Our van witnessing our joy as we dance our way through the campsite meadow We become one when we camp Just each other for company And the details of the everyday We return home Exhausted from adventures And planning new ones.
Functioning at 30%
I’m functioning at 30% today My head feels back to front and my body the wrong way We’re at the fountains in the park First time of the year A sign for summer to be here I watch a parent as he runs around with his children, shrieking with them, laughing with them, spraying them with water to their delight Guilt washes over me as I’m not feeling quite right Heavy eyes still not quite open As the day began early with you chattering away in my ear Bouncing into bed with a cheer My expectations of the fountains set too high Hoping it would buy me a bit of time to rest and do my best after a busy week To sit and just be without doing things constantly But you want to play and of course you do so off we go into the unknown of the fountains at the start of summertime.
Am I nearly 5 yet mummy? Mum I’m 5 soon Mum I’m 4 and a half Actually I’m 4 and three quarters Mum is my birthday in 6 weeks? It must be 5 weeks now Is it 4 now mummy? Mum my birthday is soon isn't it? On my next birthday will I definitely be 5? I won’t be 4 anymore soon mummy Mum did you know 5 is actually older than 6? Mum is 5 older than 100? Will I get a ticket from the queen? Mummy when will I be older than you? Mum I’m nearly 5 now aren’t I mum? Will my birthday always be in July? Mum most of my friends are 5 and that’s not fair Mum I want to be older than they are Mum some of my friends say they’re 6 Mummy when will I be 6?
I move a pile of stuff from one part of the room to another A bit later I move the same pile of stuff to a different part of the room A bit later I move the same pile of stuff to a different part of the room A bit later I move the same pile of stuff to a different part of the room A bit later I move the same pile of stuff to the stairs A bit later I move the same pile of stuff to the top of the stairs A bit later I move the same pile of stuff to various drawers and cupboards, shutting the doors quickly so the stuff doesn't all fall out A bit later I move a pile of stuff from one part of the room to another A bit later I move the same pile of stuff to a different part of the room...
Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Crash
You’re like a windup toy That winds in the night And flies into action early in the morning You’re like a windup toy With emotions Big emotions Zooming through the air towards me with so much force that I have to hold onto things to stop me from whizzing away You’re like a windup toy A dog with a bone A bat with a ball Never stopping until the lights go off You’re like a windup toy which tells me it’s every move I’m going over here mummy I’m drawing you a picture mummy I just did a fart mummy I’m hungry mummy Windup toys don’t have a pause button Windup toys suddenly move when I thought they had run out of energy, making me jump Windup toys don’t shout as loud as possible at 6 in the morning. I’m glad you’re not a windup toy really but sometimes it would be good just to have time to pause so I can windup too.
Is a holiday a holiday when you wake up at 5.30am Is a holiday a holiday when I’m looking forward to another holiday to recover from this holiday Is a holiday a holiday when we leave our air bnb at 6.50am ready for the day Is a holiday a holiday when I’m looking forward to bed Or are these signs of a good time Of adventure Of excitement Of newness all around that blows your mind And where I lose mine. I’m trying to see a holiday through your eyes And I’m wondering what time tomorrow will start.
A Snapshot In Time
Budge up You say As you clamber into my warm, cosy bed The street lies quiet, not yet awake Thoughts of the working day flood my head Play Mummy play And I remind myself You won’t do this forever So enjoy it while I can You clutch your lamb In your dimpled hands Play cats Mummy Your laughter fills the room As I throw your lamb Across the bed You pounce on it like a cat And put it on my head A simple game makes you smile A gem in time I want to pocket And cherish for a while And I remind myself again You won’t do this forever So enjoy it while I can.
Have you done a poo yet Mummy? You ask loudly as we eat our Saturday morning croissants At the outside cafe near the park A small and busy cafe With just a few tables A queue beginning to form outside Your voice loud Loud and excited on a Saturday morning. I could lie or I could say it as it is I’ve never been very good at lying Yes I say Did you? Not yet you say And so the weekend begins With everyone around us up to date With the movements of the day so far.
Diary of a solo mother Pack things in, there’s no time for error You’re away at Granny’s for 48 hours A list of things to do builds up in my head All I really want to do is curl up in bed But with so much to do each and every day Time filled with tidying and putting things away I ponder what if I didn’t go out What if I didn’t get up What if I stayed in bed What if I slept for 48 hours What if I didn’t contact friends What if I didn’t make arrangements What if, what if, what if... But time is precious and too good to loose So pack in what I can in the order I choose And I enjoy every moment Knowing you are doing the same And soon enough we’ll be together again.
Remembering Summertime Adventures
(Our trip to Glastonbury)
The roof of our van leaks The fridge doesn’t work We have one ring working on the gas cooker I start my period as we drive in the gates It rains torrential rain You know that word torrential now And you like me to say it again and again. We’re at Glastonbury which is a campsite Without the festival For one year only Because of Covid. We wake up to thunder You paint yourself with stripes And say you’re a tiger We make friends with another mum And her son We play corn hole together And I wonder why it’s called that. We find the stone dragon You sit on a stone at the stone circle We don’t get stoned. We climb up to the pink castle I get friction burn on my ankle From the pirate ship slide We stand under the pyramid stage and shout Whoo Hoo Glastonbury We get transfer tattoos We make a magic rainbow with tissue paper We go to the pub which I didn’t know existed When it’s the usual 200, 000 people enlisted In this magical place. We laugh, we shout, we dance about We ride the bike all around The site Each night When you’re in bed I feel like shouting from the van top From the tent roof tops From the pub roof We managed another day Without getting washed away You say you’ve forgotten what our house is like And you want to live in the van for more than Seven nights We are immersed in the camping extravaganza And we’re making memories which will be part of us forever. Now it’s cold and dark with winter sun I remember last summer and all that we’ve done.
Say It In Three
How many conversations can I have while I walk down the never ending stream of parents at pick up. Moving with the ebb and flow of the tide of tired children hot on my heels, eager to get home. There is no time for Hello how are you How is work going, oh what do you do? Dive in there, forget the small talk Exchanging the headlines, turning while I walk. Three word sentences seem to work quite well Questions and answers flying, no time to dwell Birthday meal successful? Sleep any better? Roof on shed! Bit chilly - park? Sausages and mash Sea swim Friday? Nice jacket - new? The Tourist, iplayer Meet outside gate Early pizza - pub? Done test, negative Finally I’m at the front of the queue Your smiley face appears in the door Cardigan, book bag, ear muffs spilling out of your arms Together once more I love you.
‘Do you want to be buried or burnt’ You ask me at dinner You could have asked when we were driving When I could get away with being distracted ‘Probably burnt but remember I’d be dead already, I wouldn’t be alive’ But now have you got an image of me being burnt alive... ‘Bodies get turned into ash when they are burnt A bit like the ash from the fire’ Suspiciously you glance at the wood burner Your face creases with sadness as your mind begins to whirl ‘Who will be at my funeral mummy, You’ll be dead’ Spaghetti shows itself again from your mouth as you stop chewing and your tears take over You crawl into my arms Such big thoughts for your little heart.
Carrots, Broccoli and Potatoes
Parsnips in disguise
Cut into strips
To look like a chip
They do not pass your lips.
Cauliflower finely grated
Blended between macaroni cheese
Mushrooms chopped up small in spaghetti bolognese.
Thank you carrots, broccoli and potato
For being there
Loyal through all the year
Especially in the winter months
When other vegetables and fruit
Have faded into summer skies.
And thank you cucumber and celery
Even if you’re extra watery out of season
But I don’t need a reason
As long as you eat them
Then we’ll reach your five a day.
The faithful apple and tangerine
Waiting patiently with the grapes
Easy peelers not so easy
But we eat them anyway.
Never would I have thought
We would have so many discussions about watermelons
And their ability to vanish when autumn arrives
You cry for watermelon, the queen of all fruit in your eyes
My secret weapon I can use to bring a smile to your face.
But carrots, broccoli and potatoes
What would I do without them
Even when you say ‘not again Mummy’
I still feel pleased they are in front of you
All year round
As three of your five a day.
Playgrounds # 2 Haiku
(written since school started)
I long for playgrounds Early morning trips just us The day is precious.
Playgrounds # 1 Haiku
(in the days before school)
Playgrounds make me yawn Loud yawns fill the empty space The park clock chimes 9.
Your first term at school Keeping it together is taking its toll Six hours on the trot without a shout The moment we get home you let it all out You flop on the sofa, you scream and roar You release the day and lie down on the floor Others manage to do after school activities You’d be on your knees Begging me please To go home People suggest playdates Which is about as far away from a date as I can remember I haven’t had a date for many a September Not the most relaxing thing to do With a tired and grumpy little you Your brain must be working overtime Always on the go, you’re a buzzing sunshine I try to make sure we have quality time I cram in work between drop off And pick up Remembering to make food, Clean and wash up. When we do get home from school There’s more than enough to do Like make dinner Have a play Practise your reading And writing your name It’s absurd How much you’ve learnt In a short space of time With the never-ending things to do Of places to be and people to see We’ll get there eventually You and me.
You’re an emotional roundabout With so much to think about You’re up Then you’re down You go round And round I’m dizzy With this ride I feel I’m being turned inside My parenting is going under I feel like you’re a big ball of thunder Roaring through the sky Ready to take off and fly I know it’s only because you’re tired Starting school, you’re feeling wired Keeping it together for 6 hours a day Learning social skills all the time through play But my oh my my head is hurting Trying to balance everything with working For now I have some hours which are all mine I’ll miss you but I will definitely cherish this time.
Who Are You?
Are you Miss, Mrs or other? Kev at the garage asks No I’m a mother I think to myself Just do the MOT Kev, what does it matter. But if you really want to know then I’m a solo mum Who didn't find the one I was determined not to give up And just sit on my bum So I went to a clinic They gave me a cup of tea They showed me a list of donors Suitable for me Quite a different scenario From what I thought it would be A choice I made 4 years ago Is that the information you really want to know? So no Kev As nice and kind as you seem I’m not a Miss or Mrs or a flavoured ice cream I’m a person with a name just like you I know you’re just doing what you’re told to do But I’m only here to get our campervan fixed I didn’t expect an internal dialogue thrown into the mix.
The 3am Wee Dilemma
I wake from a deep dream and need a wee No need to look at my clock it’s probably just past three I think about whether to go The floorboards will creak if I tiptoe past your room The noise of my wee might make you want to wee Then it might overflow in your nappy And wake you up. If you wake now you might not go back to sleep I wait a bit longer, I’m not sure what for I still don’t move Now It’s probably nearly four Two more hours and you’ll start to stir My mind starts to stir A mash up of thoughts and ideas Leaving a blur And I still need a wee. If I leave it any longer It’ll start to get light Then I may as well wave goodbye to the night Five is danger zone If you wake then you’ll insist on not being alone I could have been there and back by now It takes less than a minute Tick tick tock I want the clock to stop I still don’t get up And I still need a wee. I’ve never really procrastinated before But now it seems I do but only between the hours Of three and four At last I get up I do my best not to make a noise I’m there and back in record time The relief heavy as my pillow engulfes my head Feeling the safety of my bed I hear you cough and snuffle about I lie still and try not to breathe That’s not going to help Then no sound Back in the safe zone No need to look at my phone To check the time Comforted by knowing the next couple of hours Are hopefully just mine.
You run through the bubbles to your classroom
And you don’t look back
I feel the tears run down my hot face
And long for your little warm hand
Safely holding mine
3.15 is when I’ll see you again
But for now it’s just past 9.
I walk across the playground
Which is still full of noise
People saying ‘Good luck’
‘You’ll be fine’ and ‘don’t be scared’
It feels like you’re off to war
And the parents are left on the shore
Only this is a different war
The war of the system.
F**k the system I think
A sudden anger makes me blink
Whoever made up these rules
Who said children have to go to school
So young and for so many years
I wipe away the rush of tears.
We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
Pink Floyd shouts loudly in my head
Update the system, I think loudly,
This one is old and soon to be dead.
You’re in a class of 30
And a year group of 90
With 6 teaching staff
And you’re 4 years old
How is that possible
Will all the parents do as they’re told?
Rules are there to be broken, I think,
I let my imagination unfold.
I want to book a trip away for us
Anywhere really, I’m not fussed
Can the teachers ask me why
You’re not 5 until July
Could you be part time
Or shall I home educate
And give up my job
We could go away in our van
Live in the moment, do whatever we can.
But am I thinking of you or me
You who went off so happily
You who loves learning
Who is surrounded by friends
But you are still so young
So innocent and small
Although you do a good job
Of looking older because you’re tall
But you still call a bridge a fridge
You like to take your clothes off and be free
You think the grass gets dizzy when we drive by it
You call Wallabies Wobbilies
You say udder for other
You say you have a fast forward duvet cover
When you mean reversible
And it kind of makes sense.
I notice my tears still there
I see the learning mentor who I sort of know
I try to wave and say hello
But I cry and can’t seem to stop
And she gives me a reassuring hug
I leave a wet tear mark on her shoulder
I try to wipe it off as I hold her.
So off I go to work and off you go to school
I’m left with my thoughts of what to do
And all I can think about is you
And the hug when I see you again
When we meet at your classroom door
That is all I am waiting for.
Packing Endless things In the event of things That may or May not Happen. Clothes for rainy days Sunny days Cold nights Warm nights Upstairs Downstairs Back upstairs forgot the toothbrush Downstairs forgot warm socks Back upstairs So much effort for Two nights on our own In a field next to Alpaca’s And a camel called George. It rains torrential rain Then thunders Then the sun comes out again. On our misty van back window You write your name With a smile on your face So proud of what you’ve done And in that moment the effort Pays off. We explore Cook food Wash up Find the toilets Discover the rope swings You draw endless drawings I whizz you around on the picnic blanket like a magic carpet You shriek with laughter We make a campfire and toast marshmallows And then it’s time for your bed. You fall into a deep sleep I’m totally shattered. I sit by the fire In a daze of the day And listen To people chatting Corks popping Music playing I see people around their campfire Laughing together Tiredness sweeps in I close the van door with a loud bang as it’s the only way to shut it. You keep on snoring The noise of other peoples evenings drifts around the van I roll into bed And wait for unconsciousness.
Everywhere you go, you eat So there are crumbs in my bed There are crumbs on the floor There are crumbs in my bag There are crumbs in my coat pocket There are crumbs stuck to my socks There are crumbs in your hair. I remember a time without crumbs In my bed. That's something I miss An uncrumby bed. But then if I had an uncrumby bed I wouldn't have you So I'll live with a crumby bed Even though In the night when I roll over onto crumbs I swear and try to brush them out But they never fully go. There's always one or two That stay. So for the next 10 years I'll probably have a crumby bed Unless we stop having breakfast in bed At the weekend But I hope we never stop that. I haven't considered the issue of crumbs In so much depth until now.
You fell over your scooter at nursery And grazed your knee The teacher put a mesh thing on it The blood dried and got stuck. That was a new experience for you and me Oh the noise when you looked at it "Stop looking at it" I say "You stop looking at it" you say And you wail at the horror of the unfamiliar Graze. You took ages to go to sleep that night Crying in pain with all of your might The walls seemed to shake And so did my brain. When you were finally quiet I lay in bed thinking I really need to take the mesh thing off So it can breathe. I crept into your room In the depths of the night And as you breathed out I pulled it And didn't stop until it was off. You woke and groaned "My graze, my graze" And I stopped still Then you started snoring again. I crept back to bed Breathed out and finally slept.
People say "You look so tall You're growing up You're one of the tallest 3 year olds I know" And so the comments go And yes you are getting taller And yes you are growing up But today you fell off the toilet seat For no apparent reason And I thought to myself Good, you might be getting taller But you're still 3 years old And you won't do that when you're grown up. You still put your head in the arm hole Of your T-shirt You still fall to the floor and shout When you can't put a pen lid on You still dress up as Cotton Tail And eat dinner and chat As if it's the most normal thing ever You still refuse to let me wash your hair You still burst into tears When your bottom and legs get stuck to the chair Because you've decided to wear Nothing at breakfast You still make up your own language And think it's the funniest thing ever You still like singing the Spanish version Of 'Let It Go' at the top of your voice Running down the street in fairy wings And a witch's dress and no pants So please grow up slowly And continue to fall off the toilet seat Because I don't do that now And I wish I still did.
All I need is a wee
You shout out my name The volume makes my ears ring Unable to think. You shout it again This time louder and with force “I’m doing a wee” I shout down the stairs “I just need a wee, hang on” You shout out my name Again And Again And Again It sounds like you're ready to explode I walk back down the stairs Feeling anger bubbling away. "You knew I was going to do a wee, Why do you have to shout like that?" "I want plaits in my hair today" You say And I have to remember, you are 3 Living in the moment Is really what you do And what people spend a whole life time Remembering how to do it But it's very hard to think that When all I needed was a wee.
Patience Of A F***ing Saint
No-one really mentioned patience Before you came along It wasn’t top 3 of people’s top tips They seemed to miss out that one. Why oh why I wonder When patience is what I’m always after Patience not just from anyone But patience from a f***ing Saint. Brushing teeth is fatal A place where my patience dies Getting you dressed is also a time When patience finds a place to hide. Putting footwear on for some reason is tricky I look for patience but it’s gone These are the times in the day, everyday When it’s tricky me being the only one. When I’m tired or hungry or just a bit low When my patience is depleted It’s got nothing to show That’s when I need a Saint to show With a seed of patience I can plant and grow. When you’re finally in bed At the end of a long day I say I Love You and shut the door Patience has long since drifted away. I take a breath in and I breathe out slowly I tumble down the stairs And say to no-one Please give me the patience of a f***ing Saint.
Working It Out
“I want a Daddy” you shout at the top of your voice The tidy looking woman next to us pretends not to hear Sipping her double latte wishing she’d not sat so near How you gonna deal with that one She must be wondering I’ll show you I think to myself “Why don’t I have a Daddy, Buy me one” you continue And I remember quickly back To the book I made for you. I’ve memorised the lines To use in these times “I really wanted to have a baby,” I say “I didn’t meet the right man To be your Daddy So I went to a clinic which is a bit like a hospital And they said they could Help me”. You look at me intently listening to each word “There is a way to have children Without needing to find the right person. So that’s what I did. They helped me have a baby And that baby was you”. That was the abbreviated version Just to calm you momentarily Although now I wish I’d gone into more detail And included the words Sperm and Egg and Donor in a loud voice Just so I could’ve see the tidy woman’s reaction. “I love you Mummy” you shout “I didn’t want a Daddy anyway” You say That’s how I deal with that one, tidy woman, I think. Fast forward a year and a half We’re at a friends house “Where’s your Daddy?” Your friend’s sister asks For a second I look at you to check Your reaction Then I step in and repeat our story And the friend’s sister listens, taking it all in. You look at me And with our eyes we have a conversation While we carry on eating our tea. We check each other’s reactions We know we’re both just fine These conversations will keep happening From time to time So it’s good to practise and know what to say We finish our baked potato And you all go off and play.
Half finished sentences in the par…
Have you been to Lak... Where did you say that par... How’s your Mu... What did you get up to at the... We went to ... What’s that place called near ... What have you got for dinner, I need some inspirati... Do you want to share some ca... Next weekend we’re going to stay in a... I’ve booked 3 nights camping at a We... Thinking of going to the festival near ... Do you ever end up wondering about wha... Fancy going out next Sa... One day I’ll get to finish my sentences to friends in the park but for now I’ll just have to be patie...
You shout in my face You say I smell of poo You try to bite me You say “I don’t like you” You wail on the floor You go bright red You throw your shoes around And shake your head You look explosive It’s hard not to match you With your threenager roars I try it out I get on all fours And I roar my terrible roars Like the Wild Things do With Max when he says to his Mum "I'll eat you up". I stomp about the kitchen I slam doors I match your behaviour And forget all my chores I hit the door I lie on the floor I’m a Wild Thing after all And I realise you’re looking at me As if I was three For a moment there’s silence As you try to work out What the hell I’m on about Then you carry on And I collapse in a heap Until I find the energy To try every technique To help you out of this rage It’s like you’re stuck on the same page Over and over you go And then boom you’ve stopped Just like that Something must have finally snapped You out of your trance And into a dance As if nothing happened And I’m left wondering if I just imagined Everything I saw I feel like I’ve been washed up on the shore And so the day continues And finishes And another day starts And your roars keep coming Again and again Never failing to leave me wondering Is this just what happens And I have to remind myself You’re three I’m not So just keep loving you And remember we are so lucky With everything we've got.
The Voice In My Head #2
Am I enough I ask myself regularly In my head When I’m in bed When I say night night to you and your lamby Am I doing enough with you Playing enough Being fun enough Nice enough Or am I snappy like a crocodile Roar like a lion a bit too much I thought I’d be a Fun Mum Wild and whacky Driving around Europe When you’re still in nappies Sleeping in campsites Which we just come across Finding idealic places when we get lost Going off piste Up a mountain Into a forest Sleeping in a meadow field Eating what we find Berries in the hedgerows Apples from an orchard Grapes from a hidden tree Catching fish from a stream Camping out under the stars But no I can manage 3 nights away in our van With next to no sleep And very few plans We can make it up on the spot Improvise Be spontaneous For a bit Toast mashmellows around the campfire Feel the grass Beneath our feet Before looking forward to coming back home Where old toys seem new The place doesn’t seem as messy I don’t feel so stressy I see our house with new eyes Your eyes My eyes Our eyes And the park that we go to nearly everyday Seems fresh and new Even I want to play So maybe A few nights away suits us for now And we can dream of being In far off lands The day will come When we make it to Africa And Denmark France and Spain When we immerse ourselves In other cultures Again and again But for now we’ll try to conquer Short breaks away in the van And be grateful for doing as well as we can.
The first night away from each other for months. You’re staying at Granny’s. I’m noticing things which I don’t normally have time to notice. I notice there are cobwebs on the wall I notice there’s dust on the skirting boards I notice the plug in the sitting room makes a high pitched noise I notice the oven clock sometimes ticks even though it’s not working. I notice the tap in the kitchen drips more than I though it did I notice your hand prints on the sitting room window I notice a line of crumbs at the edge of the carpet I notice Suzy sheep poking her head out from underneath the red pouffe “Hello Suzy, I wonder how long you’ve been there”. I notice the bump under the bathroom rug Which I’ve been stepping on for months, I realise I have time to investigate. It’s a 5p. I notice red pen on the sofa cushions I notice pasta sauce in folds of the curtain I notice the travel books on the shelves and wonder if we’ll ever use them I notice the birds chirping in the evening light I notice how I’m looking forward to sleeping more than 6 hours in a row I notice I’m missing you but I know you’re enjoying yourself And so am I. I notice I keep reading the same line in my book I notice how tired I am I notice your familiar snuffles as I drift off to sleep even though you’re not here Snuffle snuffle And off I go To sleep.
Thank you Michael Palin
(Written during lockdown)
Hooray for the Clangers For Michael Palin’s Soothing voice As he translates Tiny and Smalls Clanger language With curious accuracy. He understands the Clangers And I think I do too If I could live anywhere else I’d live on The Clangers planet Where the Iron Chicken sings lullabies at bedtime The Sky Moos flap their Ears like wings The Singing Flowers help out with Tiny’s orchestra And the Cloud rains musical raindrops. “I want to watch the Clangers Mummy” “Yippee” I shriek with excitement And we bundle ourselves up together In front of the fire With covers wrapped around us. You sit on my lap while I smell your hair. We laugh as Froglets change colour and Bounce about like you. Mother Clanger walks around in a daze like me. Granny Clanger makes me laugh, Sitting on a green pouf meditating With oversized cotton balls stuffed in her ears. While Major Clanger invents Pointless pieces of equipment To try to solve problems. When there’s a breeze or the Clangers are running Their ears flap back and forth And I laugh and wonder Who had the final say On their ears flapping that way. For 11 minutes we are in harmony No rushing, no cross words between us Just the warm fuzzy feeling Of shared enjoyment after a day of Riding the rollercoaster of solo parenting. So thank you Michael Palin For allowing myself permission To find my inner child With my little child in these tricky times. I believe you live in the Clangers Planet Maybe one day we’ll see you there.
(Written during lockdown)
You read your name on your blanket Made by Granny “That’s the letter 3” You say as you reach the ‘e’ Your brain tick ticking away Making connections in curious ways And it kind of make sense Without over thinking “They look similar” You say. You burst into a rendition of The alphabet song At full volume All signs of sleep Quickly gone. L M N O P Turns to Lemon Ellow Pea And I think of Elmer in yellow Eating peas. It kind of makes sense Without over thinking. You finally reach Z Your head touches the pillow Still humming away We say goodnight And I leave your room Hoping the alphabet song will follow So I can throw it out the window It’s jingling tune going round in my head L M N O P L M N O P on repeat As I walk down the stairs with Elmer To find some peas and something yellow. Wondering if this is lockdown fatigue setting in Or just regular tiredness Or if my mind is slightly loosing the plot In the world of a 3 year old Which would kind of make sense Without over thinking.
An Ode to Ivan
(written during lockdown)
“Can we get a toastie Mummy And then an ice cream?” You skip along Innocently oblivious to the doom of Drizzly Sunday mornings in the park. “If Ivan is open” I say If Ivan is there, all will be fine. Ivan who always wears a white T-shirt Ivan who doesn’t know our names But we know his. Ivan who doesn’t know he is a household name In our house. It’s the only time in our week during this Never ending lockdown Where I don’t have to make My own cup of tea. He cuts up a chocolate tiffin Into 4 pieces Because I asked him to do that once And he remembered. The park is bearable on cold winter mornings With Ivan in his hut. A reassuring presence without many words And a cup of tea Made for me. That makes me so happy.
(Written during lockdown)
I think I say the same things at roughly the same time Every day. Often starting the day with “Poppet it’s early, come and lie down in my bed for a bit” “I won’t lie down I’ll sit up” you say “Ok sit up and play with your toys while I lie down” “I want you to sit up too Mummy” And so the day begins When I’ve given into the fact I won’t go back to sleep, We get up. We do a 15 minutes Joe Wicks high intensity workout “Mummy I wonder if he’ll have a pony tail today” And you’re pleased to see he does. “Grab a drink Mummy” “Hang on a sec, we’ve only just started” “Come on mummy you can do it” You say as you push my back and poke my ear I say thank yous to keep you in a good mood While trying to keep my cool. After battling my way through physical harshness And flashes of intense emotions At an unreasonable hour in the morning Our workout is complete. More predictable interactions anchor our morning “Can I watch the Clangers?” “After breakfast” “No now” “After breakfast, it’ll be ready in a minute” “Muuuuuuum” And we continue Our predictable morning routine With 5 minutes to go before we leave for nursery You predictably need a poo I try to keep my cool “Chill with the will Mummy” I think to myself I didn’t know I said that Enough for you to remember it. We finally tumble out of our front door “What a dark, grim day” you say quickly followed by “It’s only rain, we can still have fun” And you skip off down the road “Mind the poo, go around it” you shout And I hear my voice in your voice As the day has begun, ready to set sail For another day The same day Just a few hours on.
(Written during lockdown)
“Look”, you say as we sit in my bed, “I can see the flerections of the fairy lights in the window, They’re red and the sky is black, It looks like they’re dancing in the sky” And as beautiful as it sounds I think to myself We can only see the bloody ‘flerections’ Because it’s still so bloody early and it’s still so bloody dark. And so the day starts.
A Tribute to ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley
(with motherhood in mind. Written during lockdown)
On my way back from nursery Swinging your lamby in the air I walked past a woman And I tried not to stare At her young baby Being pushed in a pram While the woman Chatted to her friend About making fruit puree And painful breastfeeding And sleepless nights And I was transported back To our flat In those early months With you And it made me think… 'I remember when I remember, I remember when I lost my mind There was something so pleasant about that place Even your emotions have an echo in so much space And when you're out there without care Yeah, I was out of touch But it wasn't because I didn't know enough I just knew too much Does that make me crazy Does that make me crazy Does that make me crazy Possibly...' And so the lyrics continue in my head Summing up some of the early days of Motherhood You being out there without a Care, just being there While my mind free flowed As the hours went by In a haze And I was out of touch with reality For days And fruit puree is no longer in my Everyday vocabulary Sadly sleepless nights are Which continue to Make me crazy. Will they ever end Possibly...
(Written during lockdown)
We seem to have gone mainstream. We have Joe Wicks in our lives in the mornings You ask me if we can visit him at his house. I have Gogglebox in my Friday night landscape And The Voice on Saturdays I like the American rapper will.i.am. We have roast chicken on Sundays Fish and chips on Fridays Sausages and mash at some point Pasta when I can’t think of anything else Which is quite often. Pizza makes an appearance maybe on a Thursday As does Macarooni cheese And baked potatoes. Ham and cheese toasty after nursery On a Friday as an end of week treat Sometimes followed by a mini milk. Is this our life now Mainstream Mainstream food. We dance around to Taylor Swift ‘Shake it Off’ And shout Woo Hoo George Ezra When he comes on the radio. Will we look different if this continues for much longer Have I lost my identity and moulded you into the world of Mainstream. Will people no longer describe me as quirky Or a bit different Individual Left field Off piste On her own road Track Path Or will mainstream have an expiry date. Does it still count for something that we say ‘Off they go on holiday’ When we put our clothes in the washing basket Or am I just grasping at hope that Left field is on the back burner Woodburner Fire pit Out of bounds Just for the moment. Come on quirky I never liked that word But I’ll invite you back If it means I’m still different.