About Me

My photo
Mum to two small things. Kitchen dancer. List maker. Known to be partial to Gincidents. Advocate of winesday. Often found spinning or on a Pilates mat (not spinning). Believer that the moments make the memories.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Dear Dad, Happy Father's Day, Love Sarah xx

Dear Dad,

Our house is a cacophony of women. Loud, shouty women and on the edge of that is my dad.

My dad is a gentleman.  A gentle. man. There's not many of them there gentle men left in the world - and often as I was growing up I didn't see the impact or the benefit having a true gentleman in my life would bring.

My dad is like a calm lake...and my mum the bubbling waterfall that feeds it...

Growing up I may* have not quite seen the strength in my dad, in his quietness, in his ability to keep his mouth stum when the rest of the house was up in arms - but then when he did roar, it was definitely noticed...

There was the time when I tried to smother my sister, and he actually smacked me. I wasn't actually trying to smother her, of course, I just happened to have a pillow on her face...

And then there was the time when me and mum had words and I got in proper trouble off Dad. It's rare that I ever fight with mum but I was a teenager and there had been words - and mum was mad. And I was mad. And we were both stubborn. And then dad stepped in and I got in proper trouble for not behaving properly. 

His quiet, fierce loyalty, the times when he has not quite approved (and said nothing) and his beaming pride on certain moments on my life as he grabs me in a bear hug are the things I cherish today. And the personality traits that only a true gentle man can display. 

My mum is my go to person...she's the one that gets the call with me mildly hysterical because the stupid dog has eaten an easter egg - she's the one that calms me down with dad googling the symptoms in the background and applying his science maths geek to work out the ratio of chocolate to body weight to see if the dog is gonna cork it...(the dog didn't cork it).

My dad sends me text in proper English and always signs off 'love dad.'  He always starts the text properly with 'Dear Sarah'. He's told me he can't stand youth speak...he likes it all to be done properly...and at times this has caused much hilarity for me, mum and my sis...and he may** have been the butt of a few family jokes and jibes.

But above it all my dad has always conducted himself as a gentle man...even when he's trying to get to grips with Call of Duty with my 11 year old. It's something I have only realised as I have got older - and looked around and realised that gentleness and calm are fierce strengths that not many people have.

He's picked me up year on year. Whenever we have needed a lift, wherever we were, my dad (and mum) have been there. I'm not sure I'm gonna be so good at that part of parenting for my two small things. I might just download them the Uber app.

He picked me up from the cinema when I was 14 years old and had sneaked in to watch the 18 Hellbound Hellraiser film and had mainly felt quite sick when the horror film unfolded and had to leave. Back in the day I had to find a phone box and ring home telling the rentals I didn't feel so good and they hightailed it to pick me up. They didn't comment on the fact I may** have been drinking some cider in Queen's Park before seeing said horror film and this may*** have the root of my queasiness.

Fast forward ten years later and I'm drunk in Manchester with my bestie and we can't get a taxi home, cue Dad Taxi..from Manchester to Bury.  And all those taxi trips in between; often with me being tipsy....and Dad calmly driving with no judgement.

There was the time I drove his brand new company car. He had let me drive his brand spanking new red Ford Sierra to work while he took my battered fiesta - and then I crashed it. 

I knew when I rang him, he would mainly be concerned for me - and never (rarely) showed how annoyed he really was with me as he had to head into work and admit his brand new car had been smacked into the car in front by his rather irresponsible daughter.

And now he is a Granddad to three, not so small, small things. And he never says NO to them. He tries to help. In Cornwall, he goes rockpooling, he carries as much stuff off the beach as is humanely possible including the kids' surfboards. And when he hightails it over here after work on a the odd Wednesday he's as happy playing Call of Duty as he is watching them play cricket. 

Did I mention he's still working - at 70 something. Flying all over the world and still bringing home the bacon. 

So on this day, Father's Day, I raise a glass to my wonderful dad and thank him for consistently showing me what a gentleman is - and always should be...

To all the dads and gentle men out there....Happy Father's Day.

And finally...

Dear Dad,

Thank you for being so feckin**** fabulous.




*definitely didn't
** definitely has
*** definitely was
**** he also really hates me swearing

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Out of the mouth of babes

Parentdom...the phrases chapter.

In the beginning there was a baby. Your baby. A beautiful gurgling bundle of joy.* And then that baby grew. You watched that baby's every move, encouraging them to roll over, to crawl, to walk and ...to talk. 

To talk...we encouraged them to talk. We did this. It was us...and then the talking didn't stop - and then the phrases came....phrases that can pinpoint milestones in the progressing years.

But in all the years (so far) there has to be one feckin phrase that tops the charts as THE PHRASE guaranteed to make every parent want to fall to the floor and have their own big fat gigantic tantrum. 

Topping the charts of this never ending list of the phrases of doom has to be......

In. A. Minute. 

It's a standard phrase in my house. The fifteen year old and the eleven year old use it more often than 'What's for tea? and I'm hungry.'

It doesn't matter what is being asked of my beautiful babies, there is a standard response.

"Can you go and get the seventy billion glasses you have left in your rooms as we're now drinking water out of egg cups?" 

Reply: in a minute. 

"Can you put your shoes on? Because we're going out in the car to take you to your cricket match." 

Reply: in a minute. 

"Can you go to bed?"


Repeat three times. 

Reply: in a minute. 

Cue loud screaming from me; followed by....

"Mum why are you being so grumpy? There's no need to shout. We'll do it/go/get it IN A MINUTE."

Me. Rocks in a corner. Opens wine and pours bottle down neck. 

It's a phrase that can incite a rage in even the most perfect of parents. 

Out of the mouth of babes comes the phrases of doom. 

Nearly topping the charts has to be the clamour from my poor starving mites who haven't been fed for years. 

The scenarios sometimes differ but usually I am in a meeting and my phone rings. Seeing the name and number of  my most cherished of humans, I immediately grab the phone wondering what could have happened, immediately starting to pack up my bags and shrug my shoulders at my colleagues who recognise the face of a worried parent. 

And then the voice on the other end of the phone echoes down that there telephone wire. Trembling I wait for that nanosecond, mainly shitting myself that something terrible has happened....

"Mum, what time are you home? What's for tea?

Stuff my meetings. Sod my professionalism. Who needs to work. My poor starving children need me. They need feeding. They will have opened the fridge and stared in dismay at the spinach and broccoli staring at them (of course I'm on a diet). They needed proper food. They needed someone to come home and do it for them. Immediately.

Sometimes. Just sometimes the phone doesn't ring. Sometimes I get all the way home, open the front door and yell 'Helloooooooo' to the household. The stupid dog hurtles at me, happy to see me, but silence from humans mainly greets me. The son is of course killing people on his xbox and the daughter is revising.*


And then I get a response:

"Oh hi mum, what's for tea?"

"Oh hi kids. How are you? I'm fine thanks. I've hightailed it down the motorway at speeds faster than light to get home from the office just so I can cook your tea. I've still got my coat on. I've not had a wee since 6.38am but I am going to hurry the fuck along and make your tea because your lives are so terrible."

25 minutes later. Waffles, eggs and beans are on the table (it's Tuesday okay. There's football and cricket so there's no chance of any home made sauces, proper food or even a sense of trying). 

26 minutes later I shout....Tea's ready. Come on. 

"In a minute" comes the bloody chorus. 

Opens another bottle of wine. 

* joy = mainly cacophony of screaming until dummy was applied

** watching NCIS with her computer open

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Cotton wool and Bubble wrap

Can I wrap my small things in cotton wool?

All I want to do is wrap my babies in cotton wool. 

In fact not just cotton wool but cotton wool with bubble wrap on top and then mainly not let them out of the house. Ever. Again.

In fact first I'll move to the mountains and then wrap them in cotton wool and apply the bubble wrap. 

But then in the mountains, there's ice and cars and slipping and falling off mountains so actually I think I'll move to Cornwall. That will be okay because there's not that many people ...... but oh then there's the sea and rip tides and currents and dangerous sports. 

I guess what I'm saying, what I'm admitting is that I'm pretty neurotic. 

From the minute they've been born, from the nano second my small things breathed their own air and pregnancy turned into the reality of parenthood I've mainly been worried. 

Not just worried. Frankly shitting myself. Will they breathe? She's slept a night, is she alive? He's walked into a door with his head (again), will he have brain damage? It's mainly been a constant stream of possible options where my babies could maim and damage themselves. 

I actually thought it would get easier. I thought once they had got past the point where they tripped through their toddler years and started to understand the spoken word it would be okay and I would worry less but as it turns out I just worry about different stuff. 

I watch my fiercely independent 15 year old cycle off with her friends and my heart is in my mouth and now to add to the terror they take the 11 year old with them on their biking adventures. The 15yo is off to the Trafford Centre on a bus, and tonight a car kindly clipped her handle bars as she cycled herself home from being out with her friends. I try and keep them safe. It's mainly my mission in life. My mantra...Keep my small things alive, then keep me alive and then no other fecker I love is allowed to die along the way. 

And then you're scrolling twitter at 10.30pm at night and there's the news that something has happened at a concert. A concert where I would assume my small things would be safe. There's security. It's inside. There's no mountains to fall off. A concert where the average age is young. So surely that means extra security and extra safety. 

A concert taking place in a venue where I took my small things less than two weeks ago to watch Bruno Mars and then I realise that no matter what I do I just can't protect them 24/7 just like those parents treading through the treacle of their darkest days couldn't protect their babies. 

It's horrifying. It's heartbreaking - and I can't imagine how those parents are coping with this.  I've mainly felt sick all day but I also know that moving to the lakes, the mountains, the sea and wrapping them in a bubble wrap cotton wool sandwich is not the answer. 

The answer is for me to help them live. Live every moment and not be afraid. 

And I'm going to do that. 

Whilst I mainly quake in my boots I'm going to help them live their lives. I'm going to watch them cycle off with their friends (wearing a helmet), I'm going to drop them off at gigs and I'm going to sit on the beach and watch them surf. Because it's my job. It's my job to guide them on the right path but also to let them go.

Anyone got any bubble wrap? Maybe just a bit. Maybe just one layer.  (Asking for a friend)


Monday, 11 July 2016

What if I fall?

Dear daughter,

It appears you are taking baby steps...away from me.

It appears I am rapidly becoming redundant.

(Well apart from my access to that money tree and taxi services.)

It appears that with every given day you change right before my eyes, my little girl is growing up. 

My little girl is growing up at a rate of knots. Blink and there's a new sign of the young woman developing before me.

Every day you seem to be taking a step away from me. Steps to a new future, a future of new friends, new experiences and ones where I won't be at your side to watch over you - ones where I will be on the sidelines.

You shall be forever shrouded in the protection of this parental blanket - but the blanket these days is thinner and less visible. You don't hang onto my shirt tails anymore, they are more likely to provide a launch pad taking you in a new direction.

Once the slightly anxious child not entirely comfortable with herself, you are now this beautiful creature inside and out, opinionated, caring, passionate about your beliefs and happy to disagree with mine.

Every day I have encouraged you to grow. Just as I encouraged you to take your first steps. But every day now it makes me heart beat faster and more furiously knowing that I am encouraging you to step away from me and step into your independence and your future. A future forged without me as the centrifugal force.

A future dictated by your own hopes, needs, desires and ambitions.

And all of a sudden, I now realise that now my job as a parent becomes even more difficult. As I can no longer control,* I can only guide. And be here whenever you need me. And you may not need me.

Tonight you needed me to be home when you got back from your first baby sitting job - but tomorrow you won't. Tomorrow you will be happy in the knowledge it's another thing you can do alone.**

As a parent I know the best thing I can do is not cover you in bubble wrap but give you the courage to experience this thing called life.

And it scares me more than it scared me watching you breathe throughout your first night on this earth.

I genuinely thought parenting got easier. I thought I would never mirror the helplessness I felt waking in the night and watching you sleep terrified that cot death would come and claim you. (not that that happened a lot as you never blinkin slept).

But now as I begin the journey to set you free in this big bad wide world the fear is even bigger. 

Because I can no longer watch your every breath, I have to wait in the sidelines ready to help if you need me but knowing in reality you will need me less and less.

But if and when you do, I will always be here*** (possibly a bit drunk).

Love your mum

*For the purposes of clarity (and in case said daughter is actually reading this) I am still in control, no you can't do whatever you want and I am still in absolute charge - and will be forever.

** which is probably quite a good job as I will be out drinking gin

*** when I say here, I mainly mean somewhere in the world on a beach with wifi

Monday, 28 March 2016

Airport Musings

The Traveller

I spend quite a lot of time at airports of late. The fact that my work colleagues have started referring to me as Judith Chalmers has not escaped me.

I think I've almost mastered the art of the travelling alone; in fact I think I've almost mastered the art of looking like I know what I'm doing; sauntering casually wandering through the airport with the air of someone who is frankly a traveling hipster (complete with sushi and coffee).

I had a kindle (note the past tense - I also left said kindle in security - apologies if that caused any unnecessary alarms) so now I arm myself with the traditional paperback at the flight gate and do one of my favourite things. 

People watch.

Airports have to be the ultimate place to bring together all manner of people - all crammed together on one tiny space for a period of time with No Escape.

There's The Suit. The ultimate business traveler. Still wearing his suit, he wanders up and down the airport lounge talking with an air of importance on his mobile wishing he had enough business expenses to travel first class.

Then there's always The fraught. The ubiquitous traveling family. Fraught with bickering children, errant husbands and the possibility that the technology may run out before the actual plane journey starts combining to make the start of most holidays for the average family stressful. Throw in a screaming 2 year old and a lost blankie and there's grounds for a full on melt down - and that's just mum. 

Enter The weekenders. The group of boys - when I say boys - I mainly mean older men. Seasoned travellers on the return home from a weekend away from responsibility. Seasoned travellers who of course don't try and kill each other on a Ryan Air flight but who may have spend four days reliving their youth. Seasoned travellers who now look like former shadows of themselves after a few days on a boys weekend.

The Smug smiles serenely at the chaos around them and thanks their lucky stars they are The Smug. The Smug is a modern day traveller cruising from destination to destination. They embrace the epitome of airplane etiquette. Headphones at the ready, iPhone fully charged, music ready to play and a travelling Mac a constant companion. Ready and all tech'd up to cope with the curiosities of cruising through an airport. Until of course the Internet connection fails and then The Smug resembles a poor broken lost puppy.

And then my pet airport hate. The PDA couple. The snuggling couple - they can be any age; young or old; but grouped together by their need to constantly show each other how much they love being together in an airport watched by thousands of people. Breezing through the airport with a 'love is' cloud wavering above their heads as they consistently stop to share a kiss, a snuggle and maybe take a selfie to show the world (beyond the airport) how much in love they are, these people need a room of their own at airports.

And finally there's me. The pretender. Head burrowed in a book, constantly checking travel documents, trying to appear nonchalant, wondering if my passport has managed to become out of date since the last time I checked, wondering if my lost kindle is going to mean we all have to evacuate the airport. I'm always the one in the line for the full body search (when will I learn to take my bracelet off) and I always sit a bit too close to the flight departure boards so I can mainly stare at it and pray the flight leaves on time otherwise I'm gonna be late getting the kids (again).

I thought I had it all nailed. I thought I knew all the groups in the airport lounge. I knew what to expect. I knew all the different idiosyncrasies of the people that populate the airport lounge.

And then I got on the plane. And sat next to The Snircher.

The Snircher sniffed, snirched and snotted throughout the entire journey. 

Rubbing his sleeve across his nose that only a 15 year old on a school trip seems to think it's acceptable to do, he then ordered olives (obviously from south manchester) and played on his phone in airplane mode. 

And snirched with such wild abandon that he nearly ended up being forced through the airplane window (by me). And then he got up - I thought he might have been going to get a tissue - but no, he just wanted to snirch at his mate in the next row - and I noticed he had tracksuit bottoms falling off his non existent butt showing his feckin underpants which I did not want to see.

I then learnt a new lesson.* Do not ever give up your seat so a mother and daughter can sit together. The Snircher could be waiting for you.

Thankfully I have yet to see a group of girls traveling in their curlers and pjs. But I mainly think that's cos I'm not on a flight to Majorca.

*I actually learnt two lessons that day. Do not try and take a picture to showcase the riduculousenss of such attire as you may be caught by the snircher and you may look like a wrong 'un and it may be interpreted badly.