My 10 Most Popular Posts This Year

Right, let’s go straight into my 10 most popular posts out of the 37 that I’ve shoved your way this year. And because I’m not the least bit ashamed, I’ll also let you know my least popular post at the end. Just for balance.

Oh, but first please let me say THANK YOU so much for reading my blog. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed writing it and my blog would be nothing without you all. You’re all superstars!

Click on the titles to enjoy each post.

10. A Guide to Hanging Out with Cloth Ears

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This may have been even more popular if I hadn’t published it just as a Facebook post first of all. This post runs through everything you need to know if you either want to know what it’s like to be deaf or want to know what to consider if you’re spending time with someone who is hard of hearing. Ignorance is not bliss.

9. Halloween Playlist!

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This did surprisingly well and still gets regular views today. Err guys, it’s not Halloween anymore.

8. Just Another Book Club- July Book

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My first dabble with my online book club and it went down very well. Lots of people had lots to say about this one.

7. Top 10 TV Character Fashion Idols

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This post provides a run down of all my favourite fashion icons that have ever graced our TV screens. From Denise Huxtable to Sybil Fawlty, it’s an eclectic collection.

6. Just Another Book Club

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An introduction to my idea of holding an online book club and luckily lots of people seemed to be as excited by it as I was. It also gave the list of books to read for the latter part of 2017.

5. F**KING SCOOTERS

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I stand by every word of this and I still fucking hate fucking scooters.

4. Love Your Body

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A lot of people sadly were able to relate to this. I talked about how there has been a steady increase of eating disorders in very young girls and I suggest ways we can all help to combat this.

3. Everyday Sexual Harassment

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Another post that sadly a lot of people could relate to. Whilst it was quite devastating to hear other people’s experiences, it was in some way slightly comforting to know that I am clearly not alone with my experiences of sexual harassment. This post still regularly gets daily views.

2. 10 Most Influential Albums of my Teenage Years

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This post is what you might call, a slow burner. It got moderate views when it was first published, but it receives views most days, which meant it slowly crept up my list of most popular posts.

  1. Dear Stephen

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Whilst this remains the hardest blog post that I’ve ever written, what is wonderful about this post being so popular is that so many of you lovely people read and heard about my wonderful friend. It helped make it the tribute that I wanted it to be. It would also be nice to think that it may have possibly helped someone somewhere.

The one that didn’t quite make my top ten: The Importance of Creativity for Children 3 views away from making the top 10.

My least popular post this year: Music Tag Thingy, but then again I didn’t really do a very good job of promoting it. It got a paltry 56 views- whoop.

My most popular post ever: Why Women’s Procreation Choices are None of Your Business. Nuff said.

Thanks again and see you next year for more irrelevant and irreverent shit (I really know how to sell myself, don’t I?)

 

Good News! Cheery News! Non-depressing News!

I won’t dwell on it too much, but 2016 has thus far been a right bastard of a year. It has been an annus horribilis for everyone. From the multitude of unthinkable terrorism, plethora of celebrity deaths and now the fall out post-EU referendum, 2016 can well and truly suck my dick. If I had one. I find myself firing up the BBC News website with one eye closed in fear of what horrific news I will come upon. It seems to be a free fall of bad news after even more bad news. So, in some kind of pathetic attempt to try and vaguely cheer us all up, I welcome you to a news page of a different kind. One that will only deliver good news. News that doesn’t make you want to give up on humanity. News that may even bring a smile to your face. Now make yourself a cup of tea, take a deep breath and be assured that it’s not all bad shit going down right now.

Love is in the Air!

Oh yes it is indeed. Not one, but two policemen got down on one knee and proposed to their boyfriends at last weekend’s Pride celebrations in London. Luckily they both said yes. Here’s a heartwarming clip of one of the proposals. All together now. aaaaahhhhhhh.

Christmas is Finally Here!

Well it is for the folk of Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire anyway. Do you remember the devastating floods that happened over Christmas 2015? And do you remember that in particular, the town Hebden Bridge was affected by these floods in ways that were unimaginable? This meant that nobody in Hebden Bridge got to celebrate Christmas last year as their homes and businesses were completely flooded and inhabitable. Well, I’m pleased to tell you that the folk of Hebden Bridge have finally had their Christmas. On the 25th June, they had an “alternative Christmas” where residents had a sit down Christmas meal, drank mulled wine and partied to Christmas tunes on the street that had been turned into a river 6 months previously. Many businesses that have been shut since Christmas, officially reopened too letting everyone know that Hebden Bridge is indeed back up and running. Hooray!

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English Sport CAN be Celebrated.

Ok, so we didn’t exactly ‘dominate’ the UEFA European Championship (to put it mildly) this year, BUT did you know that whilst we shook our heads at missed goals, actual passion etc our England rugby team were OWNING it during the Australian test series, by winning it 3-0. If anything, it should give the optimist in us, some hope for English football (bear with me). As you may recall the English rugby team gave a shameful performance at last year’s World Cup, not even making it past the group stages, but this year and with the help of new coach Eddie Jones they have completely turned it around and won both the 6 Nations and now the test series in Australia. Congratulations to the England rugby team.

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This Otter Eating Food

This adorable, squealing otter eating cat food with his little paws makes me desperately want to have a one as a pet. He’ll be fine hanging out in my bath, won’t he? Everything that’s right with the world is in this clip. I LOVE HIM.

Coldplay Perform Moving Tribute to Viola Beach

So, musically I’m not your biggest Coldplay fan, but I was moved by their tribute to British band Viola Beach during their headlining performance at Glastonbury festival last Sunday. Viola Beach were the British band who, along with their manager all tragically lost their lives when their car plunged 80ft off of a bridge into a canal in Sweden. Coldplay allowed Viola Beach to headline Glastonbury for one song, playing their music video on the big screens and playing along with the track. It was nothing short of beautiful and must have been an emotional, but wonderful moment for Viola Beach’s families.

Beautiful Children Being Beautiful

Many kids dread their sports days, especially if like me, you always came last in the races (look I’m more of long distance runner than a sprinter, OKAY!). One boy in particular dreaded his sports day this year. Daniel has cerebral palsy and told his Mum he didn’t want to join in sports day this year as he was worried that people would laugh at him for coming last again. Unbeknown to him and his Mum, all the boys in his race slowed down at Daniel’s pace and ran along side him and allowed him to cross the line first. According to his Mum, he was so happy he’d won, he burst into tears and ran for a hug with her and has been full of joy ever since. If that doesn’t go some way in restoring your faith in humanity, I’m not sure what will. Children are our future and all that. You can watch the beautiful video here.

And Lastly, Idiotic Goats

Oh we love a good goat video, don’t we? Watch these goats talking back and having a proper go at someone. This should get you smiling again.

Why Women’s Procreation Choices are None of Your Business

Why is it that when it comes to women and their reproductivity, all sensitivity seems to get thrown out of the window. People want answers and the ability to ‘mind one’s own business’ is completely forgotten or seen as not necessary to apply in this situation.

Hands up, how many of you have been probed at some point in your life about what your reproductive intentions are? How many of the following questions sound all too familiar:

“When will we hear the patter of tiny feet?”

“Don’t you want children?”

“Are you going to have any more children?”

“Why didn’t you have any more children?”

Or who’s heard shockingly brazen statements uttered such as “You better hurry up, you’re not getting any younger you know”.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, quite a few of you. Even though she’s worth millions and is gorgeous, I can’t help, but feel sorry for Jennifer Aniston and the constant interrogation she has had to endure surrounding when/if she is going to get pregnant. She is now 47 years old and she still has to put up with speculation regarding whether she has finally got knocked up or not.

Aniston told People magazine in 2014 “I just find it to be energy that is unnecessary and not really fair for those who may or may not [have children]. Who knows what the reason is, why people aren’t having kids. There’s a lot of reasons that could be, and maybe it’s something that no one wants to discuss”.

Yet so many people don’t seem to get this.

I’m going to talk about my own personal experiences of this now, just to offer a background and an explanation as to why probing women about their procreative intentions might not be a good idea.

My family is a single child family. Once at a toddler group, a stranger who I had just met asked if I “just had the one child?”. When I informed her that I did indeed just have the one child, the response was met with giggles. She then immediately asked if I intended to have any more at some point. Having been asked this question on numerous occasions before where I have felt the need to justify or explain my response, I decided just to simply reply with “Nah”. Again, my response was met with even more mirth and further probing as to whether one child was enough for me and a statement that I clearly couldn’t cope with another child. All of this was said with much amusement regarding my situation of having just the one child. I didn’t correct her nor did I laugh along with her, I just changed the subject.

Except, as you may have guessed the truth wasn’t that one was enough for me and that I couldn’t bear to have another child. It was just easier to let her think this than explain myself. It also would have upset me to try to explain. This woman was a stranger and I was in a public building surrounded by many other strangers and associates and didn’t fancy bawling my eyes out for all to see, but mainly (in the most British way possible), I didn’t want this woman to feel awkward. I was more concerned with upsetting her than my own inner turmoil I had to cope with every time my child’s lack of siblings was discussed.

The truth is, my partner and now husband after many years of discussing, crying, sweeping it under the carpet, discussing some more and crying a lot more, came to the heart breaking decision not to have any more children and to stop at one. It was not an easy decision and it was made with a heavy heart. We wanted more than one child. We wanted our child to have a sibling. We wanted to be parents to children, not a child, but having more would not have been a wise decision for us.

Whilst I was pregnant with my quite frankly wonderful daughter (yes I am slightly biased, but what of it?), I suffered unbearable pelvic girdle pain that left me unable to walk and I had to be signed off from work for the majority of my pregnancy. After I gave birth, I seemed to be relatively pain free for the first two weeks, but then the pain came back. For the first year of my child’s life I was constantly in pain and could rarely leave the house, I was in fear every time I took a step that I wouldn’t be able to withstand the pain that it produced or that my leg would give way all together. Slowly, things got slightly better, but I still suffer a lot of pain and have developed arthritis in my ankles and knees and still have days where I am unable to leave the house. Getting my daughter to school and back is a daily battle and I am terrified at 40 years old, of what my life will be like in years to come and how immobile I might potentially be.

On top of this, pregnancy caused me to lose my hearing (a rare, but not altogether uncommon condition called Otosclerosis). I am very deaf in both ears and rely on hearing aids to get by. If I was to have another child, it is guaranteed that I would lose even more hearing. I don’t have much left as it is.

My mobility problems, the pain I’m constantly in and my hearing loss led us to come to the decision that having a second child would be extremely detrimental to my health and would greatly impair my abilities as a Mother. We made the decision not just for me, but for our existing child. My husband works away a lot and as southerners living up north, our families are over 200 miles away. I have to be able to look after my child as there is no one else that we can rely on to help us out. Even if we did move closer to family, the prospect of both my mobility and hearing further deteriorating is quite frankly depressing.

I don’t feel like the person I once was before my pregnancy. My hearing, leaves me struggling to join in with group conversations and I move slowly and as little as possible. I used to dance, sing, go running and for long walks, but these activities have been greatly hindered by my conditions. In fact, they’ve been made near impossible.  I can’t enjoy the things I once enjoyed.

So, when people laugh (whilst I understand, quite innocently) at the fact I only have one child, when people probe for reasons behind this decision, they have no idea of the heartbreak going on inside me.

This applies to every woman who only has one child or has no children. Nobody knows what is going on behind closed doors, so why possibly rock the boat? Different women will have different reasons. For many they have just not been able to conceive or they have suffered miscarriages. I cannot imagine the heartache this brings and then for someone to insensitively point out to them that they’re not getting any younger and need to hurry up is beyond inconsiderate and tactless. Some women have chosen not to have children/have more children because of their family situation, for health reasons, childcare issues, career situation or for financial reasons. Some women don’t have children because it’s just not for them or they have one child because they are just happy with that and have no desire to have more. This reason is the one people seem to be able to handle the least. However, as with all the previous reasons it is no one’s business, but the woman’s and her partner’s.  There seems to be a desire for society to know what is happening with women’s bodies and whether they’re putting a baby in it or not. It is nothing short of nosey.

I have had some interesting phrases thrown at me. Regularly my family is referred to as “your little family “. Whilst this may seem inoffensive to some, it can come across as belittling and a tad patronising. My family maybe smaller than yours, but is no less of a family.

At the end of yet another awkward conversation I had with someone demanding if I was to have any more children, she actually said the following sentence to me:

“Aaah, well at least you’ve had the experience of being a Mother”

It was as if having one child is just an experience, but having more is the real deal. Trust me, Motherhood feels very real to me when I’m up in the middle of the night soothing my child who is vomiting up blackberries and dying her bed covers and carpet a rather fetching gothic purple colour. It also feels real, when she comes home from school and for the umpteenth time tells me about how someone has upset her at school and I just want to run upstairs and cry for my beautiful child and instead, I have to keep it together and listen and advice and comfort. It also feels real when in a single month I have to pay her ballet fees, pay for a new pair of shoes and buy Birthday presents for the 4th Birthday party she’s been invited to in a month- FFS (this is when I’m very grateful I just have the one child to be fair). I am not merely “experiencing” being a Mother just because I have one child, I am very much living it. Whilst, I understand I won’t be experiencing dealing with squabbling siblings or two children being ill at the same time, I will be dealing with different aspects of Motherhood that you don’t have to deal with. For example, as my child doesn’t have a sibling to play with, I am the only person she has to play with at home. Sometimes being a parent to a single child feels like you have to be part-parent/part-sibling.

It’s comforting to know I’m not alone though. Interestingly, single child families are on the increase. The reasons are plenty as I mentioned above. It does seem to be becoming the norm. The average number of children per family is now 1.7[1] compared to the 2.4 that traditionally was the number of dependent children per household many years ago. Within my daughter’s class at school 7 of the 30 children are from single child families. This is almost a quarter of the children in her class, but that is considerably lower than the national percentage that is 47%. Almost half of families with dependent children in this country are single child families. As I reel off these statistics I think of friends who insist the number of children they have is the best number of children everyone should have. That’s great for them, but it is not for everyone.

When someone feels the need to probe a woman (or man, though I would argue women have to deal with this question more than men do) as to why they have only had one child or indeed if they are planning to have any, they should instead resist. Nobody knows what turmoil people are going through. Nobody knows the upset your innocent question will cause and to be honest, you really don’t need to know the answer. Your life will go on quite happily without knowing the answer. Whereas your question can upset someone for the rest of the day or becomes just another reminder that will stay with them forever of their difficult situation and that they’re not living up to society’s expectations (tsk). Women don’t want sympathy; they just want a bit of sensitivity.

Despite originally wanting more than one child, I am so happy with my family. I will always feel a bit sad and a little guilty that I didn’t provide my daughter with a sibling to bully –I mean- enjoy and that I didn’t provide my husband with any more children. That aside, we are a happy family. The three of us are a jolly team that make each other laugh and bestow each other with “family cuddles”. It is paramount that I am happy with what I have and I refuse to let myself be eaten up with the loss of the second child that I never had. If I was sad that I only had my daughter, that would be extremely unfair to her and would send out the wrong message to her.  The right and truthful message is that I am beyond happy with her and of course I realise that despite everything- I am lucky. I have more than what some people have. In the words of De La Soul circa 1989, three (for us) is indeed the magic number.

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[1] Office of National Statistics “Family Size” publication, published in 2012.

Things I Wish I’d Been Told Before I Became a Mother

On average, I would say about 85% of parenting advice is completely unnecessary, unwanted or misguided. I also believe most parenting advice that is shunted your way does not always come from an honest place. This is a list of things I wish someone had actually told me before I became a Mother. This is NOT an advice column, it’s just what I would have found handy knowing pre-giving birth.

  1. Do not even bother reading any parenting books as they will only feed you with guilt and/or paranoia when your new born human baby does not do as the books say. If you do read any, please, please just take them with a massive pinch of salt.
  2. Try your utmost to enjoy the early days. Easier said than done I know, as you fight sleep depravation and leaky boobs, but they are so very precious and you will never get them back. Seriously, who gives a shit that they’re not sleeping and feeding at perfect intervals as before you know it they’ll be starting school and you will pine for the early days again. Possibly.
  3. And if no matter how hard you try you really don’t enjoy the early days, don’t sweat it. Nobody finds it easy. If they say they do, they’re lying or just numb inside. If you don’t enjoy these early stages, there will be other stages that you will enjoy. Some people suit different stages more than others.
  4. If you want to cry for no reason, then just cry. I didn’t have post-natal depression, but I had what is called “the baby blues”. When all the happy hormones left my body after giving birth, I crashed. I found myself overcome with emotion pretty much 24/7. I didn’t feel down, but I just wanted to cry. I think this was my body’s way of dealing with the change in hormonal balance and with the over whelming feeling that “CHRIST I AM ACTUALLY SOMEBODY’S MUM! I REALLY HOPE I DON’T KILL IT!”. I remember my lovely better half finding me in the bath crying when our baby was 2 weeks old. He seemed very concerned at first and asked me what was wrong. To which I replied, “I don’t know, but I can’t stop crying”. His response was just a casual “Ah I see, well if you want to cry, then just cry. Don’t even try to stop yourself. It’s all better out than in” and do you know what? He was so right. He treated it like it was something very normal and that’s because the baby blues are exactly that- very normal. It is something that you get through. I personally felt better by about 6 weeks after giving birth.
  5. If you feel you might have post-natal depression, feel highly stressed or the baby blues are going on for longer than you feel comfortable with, please tell someone. Anyone. Whether it is your partner, a friend, your Mother, the health visitor or even your hairdresser- tell someone. It is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, you certainly haven’t “failed” and it is far more common than you think. I was amazed to find out 2 years after my friend had given birth that she had suffered from PND soon after giving birth. This is because she hadn’t told anyone and had done a very good job of keeping it hidden. PND should not be kept hidden and should be treated like any other health issue would be. The more we are open about these things, the less social stigma there is attached to them.
  6. When it comes to breast feeding, don’t just do what you think is expected of you. If you want to breast feed until your child is 2 years old then good for you. If you decide early on that breast feeding isn’t for you then proceed with what is best for you and your family. If you tried desperately to breast feed, but for whatever reason it didn’t work out for you or just wasn’t possible for you to even attempt, then do not feel the remotest amount of guilt- just carry on doing what does work. Breast feeding is a very personal choice and should not be dictated to a woman by society. As long as your child is being fed regularly then it really doesn’t matter whether it is by breast or by bottle. They will grow to be strong, healthy children either way.
  7. If you do choose to breast feed, please exercise your right to breast feed in public and don’t ever give two flying fucks what anyone around you thinks. People offended by breast feeders are nonsensical and should just be ignored. Dicks.
  8. You officially cannot cuddle, kiss or tell your child you love them too much. The idea that you can is even more ridiculous than people who are offended by public breast feeding.
  9. It does not matter in the slightest when your child learns to walk or talk as long as they eventually do. No child wins a medal for learning to walk before they’re a year old. No child’s future is predicted by when they first uttered the word “Mamma”. This silent competition between new parents regarding who learns to walk, roll over, beg (hold on, am I getting children confused with puppies again?) first, seriously just has to stop. It’s boring and pointless. They will all get there in the end and you will be laughing about your concern for them learning to walk, when they start doing things like running into the middle of the road for kicks and you will literally cry for the days when they stayed put wherever you sat them down.
  10. The same goes for children learning to read and write. It doesn’t matter when they do it, as long as they get there eventually.
  11. Don’t listen to unsolicited advice. There will always be one relative or friend who will take it upon themselves to “guide you through parenting”. You can actually just walk away from their “advice”. The reasons why some people do this is multi-layered and are mainly just doing it to make themselves feel more important anyway. Unless you have specifically gone to them and asked for specific advice they have absolutely no right to tell you what you should or should not be doing with your child. They are not you, they haven’t walked in your shoes and they certainly aren’t your child’s parent. Screw them. Different routines or ways of doing things work for different people and families and it astounds me that some people still haven’t managed to work this out. The best parenting advice I was ever given? Ignore people who try to give you unwanted advice.
  12. Surround yourself with the right people. You will come across fellow Mums at babygroups/toddler classes/the school playground who will say things  to you that will make you feel shitty. Motherhood is hard enough without having to put up with someone trying to surreptitiously make you feel like a bad parent. You don’t need these “bitch-Mums” in your life. Move on from them and seek kinder souls. I find Mums who are down-to-earth, genuine, kind-hearted and with an all important excellent sense of humour are the best finds.
  13. There will be days when you wish you hadn’t become a parent. There will be days that you will be overwhelmed by how much you love your child. Both emotions are perfectly normal. Do not be scared of either reaction.
  14. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Being a martyr doesn’t benefit anyone.
  15. Do your pelvic floor exercises. I know you can’t be arsed, but just get and do them. You’ll thank me later.
  16. Some families will have more money than yours, possibly a lot of families will have more money than yours. I know this is stating the obvious, but these children from these families literally are not any better off than your own. As long as you are bestowing your child with love and affection, providing them with fairly well balanced regular meals, getting them outside as much as possible and reading to them, they will be children far better off than sadly the majority of children in this world. Everything else will just be a matter of doing your best and that is all you can ask of yourself.