16 March 2018

Guest Post | Introducing The Mum Conundrum

Whilst this blog is a space for me to share my own family and experiences as a mother, I wanted to do something to show the true diversity of families. I wanted to show the beauty in each family unit and how different they can be, and how no matter the circumstances, every family is incredible and unique. What better way to do this than introduce some fabulous guest bloggers, who could share the story of their family, the highs, the lows, the difficult moments and the small victories. Today I am handing the reins over to Kate, who writes over at The Mum Conundrum.
A picture of Kate Evans, blogger and writer for The Mum Conundrum

I’m Kate Evans. I’m a married Mum of three kids, aged 6, 5 (just turned!) and 17 months. Reading back that first sentence, it’s as if it were someone else’s. It conjures up an image of a proper grown-up. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I am that person, but yes… Somehow that’s me, owner of three small humans, doing the full adulting package – marriage, kids, mortgage, a car, and a dog… the whole shebang.


There are times where through the thick fog of long-term sleep deprivation (our littlest is STILL not much of a sleeper), something stirs a vivid memory of life before children, and I remember who I was just a few years ago.  It’s something that bobs up into my conscious from time to time, which brings with it a yearning for that old self, and a sort of apology for its absence now.
But then, when I think of the seat-of-our-pants rollercoaster journey of these past years I feel immensely proud of what we’ve achieved, with all we’ve been gifted, and after all that we’ve lost.
What an astonishing feat! How well we have survived! …How we have thrived amidst this comfortable chaos, with its unexpected twists in the storyline, and unending need to adapt and evolve. I would trade that old self for this in a heartbeat (although a couple of hours extra snooze now and then would still go down a treat though, tbh.)
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I was chuffed to bits to be asked to feature as a guest blogger for the lovely Tattooed Tealady, but once the task was underway I spent quite some time procrastinating on this post. You see, it could be so many things.
I could write about how our family grew so fast, having 3 under 6. I could tell you about our mind-boggling ability to get pregnant despite failsafe contraceptive methods - the pill, and then the Mirena coil (titanium sperm, I reckon).
I could talk about the incomparable grief of losing a baby halfway through a pregnancy and how my eldest two came to terms with the loss of their baby sister. Of making inescapable choices when faced with the terrible inescapable news.
I could explain how coping with the resultant mental health issues has impacted on my parenting, and how I have faced it, and how far we’ve come.
I could tell you all about our incredibly lucky happy ending - our rainbow baby, the relief, the blessing, and the sense of completion.
I could elaborate on the absolute pride that I feel knowing that we are raising three fabulous, engaged children and that we are all happy and content (as far as the standard toddler tantrums and sibling bickering allows).
Mainly though, I wanted to give you a feel for how life is, IRL, for me, for us, in our daily lives. My blog is all about our life, unedited, warts and all. It’s random, it’s messy and sometimes rather shouty, but it’s our life and I wouldn’t swap it for anything. Not even for Tom Hardy, full body lipo, or a million pounds cash.
Here’s a sample of a few hours in the life of us.
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It’s Tuesday night. My post has to be finished in 24 hours, and I’m scratching around for a starting point. In an attempt to leave the procrastination station, I am pondering an angle.
I have always considered myself a bit of a weirdo. I’m a bit of a geek, I’ve got a weird sense of humour and I’ve always kind of done my own thing. Pete is the same (probably one of the things that made him so attractive to me in the first place). It follows, then, that all three of our kids seem to follow this same path.
I love the fact that we all march to the beat of our own drums. Because of this I always think of our family as this little clan, a gang. Outlaws. A team of merry men. So I am racking my brains thinking of a famous group we could compare ourselves to.
My brain meanders to the idea of being like bandits in the Wild West, but then again I actually hate westerns, and I couldn’t name a single Wild West gang if you paid me.
I turn to Pete, “If we were like a famous family, or gang or a group of some sort, who do you think we’d be?”
Pete, deadpan as always, suggests “like in ‘Married, with Children’?!”
I raise an eyebrow.
“Ren and Stimpy?”
“The Smurfs?”
“The Spice Girls… The Manson family?!?”
…Obviously, this avenue of questioning is likely to yield nothing of use from Pete.
“You spanner.” I mutter affectionately before turning to my eldest, “What do you think Fia? Who should we be?”
“Err, Star Wars?” she says, before turning back to her latest craft masterpiece, surrounded by an explosion of coloured tissue paper, pompoms and glitter.
“I’d be Leia, and Felix could be Luke, and…. Erm, Daddy could be Darth Vader?” she half tells and half asks, absent-mindedly wiping glitter through her hair as she brushes her fringe off her face with a gluey hand.
I linger on this one, trying to expand on the concept, but I’m not sure about the connotations of her Dad being a bit dark side… Also what about her baby sister? Yoda, perhaps? ...Hmm.
At this point Phoebe totters up to me brandishing a half-chewed soggy breadstick, beaming.
“Whaddya reckon Pheebs?”
“Google” she says, pointing at the shelf that houses the Google Home.
So far she has mastered a grand total of 5 words. “Google” is her latest. She has not yet mastered “Mummy”. I’m not sure what this tells me about our parenting standards third time around, but I’m going to look on the bright side and conclude that she is precociously tech-savvy.
“Is that so?” I answer.
“Google” she says again sagely, before toddling over to torment the dog with the breadstick.
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Looking at the clock I realise I’m late to put the dinner on again and heave myself up from my cosy position under a blanket on the couch to make a start on the bolognese. I’m just browning the mince when Felix trundles into the room carrying an oversized truck laden with several smaller cars and a Stormtrooper almost as big as he is.
He drops the lot squarely on the kitchen floor and commences playing noisily, bashing the truck into the smaller cars and then shooting at them with the Stormtrooper. (He’s not actually shooting them, obviously, but he can make eerily accurate extremely loud blaster rifle noises. It’s a gift. Of sorts.)
“Hey Felix, if our family was a famous group or gang, who would we be?” I ask (not least because I’m hoping that the question will distract him from continuing with such epic noise levels).
“Mummy, what are we eating for dinner?” he asks, eyeing the pan suspiciously and ignoring my question entirely.
“Spag Bol.”
“Oooh! But I don’t want Spag Bol! Can I just have Weetabix?” he whines, impassioned.
“No” I answer curtly, knowing how the rest of this conversation goes.
“Why? …I just want Weetabix and nothing else” he moans.
“Because that’s what I’m cooking for dinner and that’s all that’s on offer. No Weetabix.”
And then, barely taking a breath, “So who would we be then? What famous gang could we be?” (I’m hoping to distract him long enough to avoid the customary ‘I don’t want to eat that’ convo that my eldest two seem to tag-team continue on a nightly basis.)
Felix stops in his tracks, the effort of thought written across his little face. He breaks out into a smile “Sonic The Hedgehog!”
“But Sonic isn’t a group of people though” I counter.
“MARIO!” he shouts exuberantly. (I should add, that my 5-year-old is currently obsessed with retro Nintendo and Megadrive games. I’m kind of impressed. I have literally no idea how it started, but I have a hunch it results from me allowing too much time on Youtube. Ho hum.)
“Yeah I’m not sure if that works poppet. What I mean is, imagine we’re a gang, like crime fighters or bandits or something.”
“Like superheroes? With special powers?”
“Brilliant!” I say, “You’ve nailed it bubba!”
“But Mummy, what’s ‘nailedit’?” he asks, scratching his left bum cheek, and promptly wanders off without waiting for an answer.
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Content that I now have a plan for my post I continue on with cooking dinner, hatching an idea about making top trumps superhero cards for each of the family whilst I chop peppers. From the lounge, I can hear raucous laughter and the odd bit of shouting.
The next hour or so passes in the usual fashion with requests for juice (to be left half unfinished). The standard low-grade mealtime tantrum and initial dinner refusal. A few tears and reluctant start to the meal (ultimately finished and enjoyed, the memory of which always seems to evaporate immediately after eating, ready for the next day’s refusal).
Somebody farts and then denies it. Someone else makes up a song about the secret farter’s fart which makes the secret farter cross until she forgets to be cross and starts laughing and joining in.
There are lost (and then found) favourite pyjamas. A fairly messy tooth-brushing expedition, bedtime stories, goodnights (three, owing to the two returns downstairs under erroneous circumstances) stern words and “Back to Bed”s, kissed cheeks and cuddles.
Then, finally; peace, quiet and a glass of red.
By the time I open up my laptop, it’s gone 8pm and I’m frazzled. I start to flesh out my idea, and in writing the initial paragraphs I realise that without getting to my master plan I already know exactly what I need to write. Because, as is so often the case, things have evolved during the very process of their creation.
And I rather like the way it’s panned out. Because ultimately, for us, that’s how family life works.
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Big thanks to Kate for sharing a look into her family life, if you want to keep up with Kate you can find her on Facebook 'The Mum Conundrum', on Twitter @TheMumConundrum and over on Instagram @TheMumConundrum. Don't forget to check out Kate's blog too, The Mum Conundrum.

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