“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 
“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
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
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.


Getting Dressed

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.

Finding Fun

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
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.

Batch Cooking

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.

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 

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. 

Nearly 5

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?

Tidying Up

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.

Honest Conversations

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.

What If…

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.

Dinnertime Chat

‘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.

First Term

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.

Big Feelings

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.

Starting School

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.


Endless things
In the event of things
That may or
May not
Clothes for rainy days
Sunny days
Cold nights
Warm nights
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 
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.

Growing Up

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
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 
the patience 
of a 

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
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.

Noticing Things

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.
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. 

Deja Vu

(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”
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
And so the lyrics continue in my head
Summing up some of the early days of 
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


(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 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
Will people no longer describe me as quirky
Or a bit different
Left field
Off piste
On her own road
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
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.