Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Moods of Motherhood

I am feeling every inch an earth mother this week, having extra chicks under my wing who needed a little TLC. I feel protective, tender and raw all at once.

I have held the space while others buckled under the weight of it all being too much. I have walked away knowing the tears fell bitterly as soon as I left. I have cared for sisters and young ones, cradling them in safety and love.

Mamahood in fifty shades.

I truly love being a mama to others. I don't always find it easy. Sometimes it is freakin' hard. I'm no different from any other mama - full of tenderness and love some days but as bitchy and scratchy on those other days, the oh-so-tired days, the leave-me-alone days, as much as the next mama. Either way, motherhood is my bones. I was born to be a mother. It's written in my deepest soul.

It's weeks like this that I find myself turning to the fantastic book that I received for Christmas from the lovely Mrs. Dreaming Aloud,  Lucy Pearce.

Lucy's book is a celebration and an honouring of the many faces of motherhood, the glory and the sacredness but also the heartbreak and the uncertainty - all rolled up in one beautiful package. This book comforts, questions and enlightens. It challenges. Like her fantastic column in Juno, it has soul. It is woven from love. It has grit. It has milk. It has tenderness. It is multicoloured and multi-textured. It's an anthology of a mothers year. The whole whirligig of motherhood lies between its pages. Lucy bravely reveals the naked truth about mothering - confiding in you her darkest mothering secrets, and making us realise we were not alone in thinking or feeling like this or that.

And I love this lil' book so much I am giving a copy away to one reader!

To have a chance of winning, tell me all the colours of your own mamahood right now. Tell me the joy and the wonder and the gladness and the shitty gritty.

The more honest and touching your story the better.

You could write a paragraph, you could write a poem. Or just a few words. Whatever you like.

I'll judge who deserves Moods Of Motherhood sent to them by Wednesday 5th Feb.

Big hugs to you mamas - you are ALL, without exception, AMAZING.

Xx MF xX

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

I don't want to know about evil

This morning I have been talking with my husband about the whole Facebook/Instagram photo-ripping thing, about the fact that online stuff is not 'safe' and can be stolen.

And I didn't realise quite how I feel about it until now.

The fact is, there are people who are sad in the world, there are people who are twisted, there are people who spend their time scrabbling around in bullshit, ripping other people's stuff for their own purpose. With evil or good intent.

And I want to clear up how I feel about that.

The line "I don't want to know about evil, I only want to know about love" by John Martyn pretty much sums it up for me.

Neither I, nor anyone but the person/ persons involved, can control the fact that some people out there in the world are in pain, or are wrapped up in fear, greed, whatever. Those people do what they do, whether there's an Internet or not. Their misery is pitiful but it's theirs. It wasn't invented or created by me or any photos of mine or of my kids, that they might steal.

I'll take care of my Karma, and you take care of yours, is my philosophy.

I'm not going to live in the shadows of the Internet, lurking, being afraid, being paranoid, any more than I would do being out and about in the real world, where people can take pictures of my kids in secret or pictures of us. I am not going to give one ounce of my energy and time to paranoia about it.

Other peoples bullshit does not concern me.

I only care about good things, love, peace and happinness, and my focus and energy are on those. If I turn away from crappy enterprises that other people wish to involve themselves in, I am knowing about evil. And as I said already -

I only want to know about love :-)

Friday, 18 January 2013

A post in which I use the word 'excited' and 'exciting' a lot!

I have some exciting news.

A lovely friend of mine has started work as my book editor!

And, what is more, she is a sassy mama-of-four-doula-and-midwife-trained-already-published editor - could I have asked for a more perfect editor? I think not.

* Doing a little woop woop dance *

I sent out a call to the universe, and the universe responded!

Speaking with her yesterday, she told me that the day before I asked her to edit my book she had been on the phone to her mum, saying 'The thing I would really love right now would be to edit a birthing book'.

And ta-da! Here we are.

I am stupidly, ridiculously, totally excited.

Someone who can take my vision and truly make it flow on paper, and make it better than I could write myself.

And just when I thought things were starting to get a bit exciting around here, I volunteered myself today for a very exciting role working on the Doula Uk magazine, and they have written back saying I *might* be suitable for the role of producing it! Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. So we'll wait and see what happens there.

And tommorow I may be a step towards being the proud new owner of a very cute silver beetle.

Oooh too much excitement!!!

I need to calm down!!!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Got my mojo in flow!

Well after an energising and wonderful whirl of seeing friends, my batteries are super-charged and I feel so much happier, so much more grounded, and like things are falling into place where they felt a bit stuck again. I think I have finally made my peace with the fact that we are not traveling any more, that it is winter, that we are home, not adventuring. Even though it was tough some days, looking back at the photos again I no longer feel a sense of denial that it's all over, that our fabulous trip is done. And now Christmas is all finished, and we are back to a normal rhythm again, a new pattern is emerging in our home that I am liking A LOT!!!!

In between having folks here, I have been managing to get some time to really work on my business and writing stuff. Sitting for a few hours and having my own desk to work at, and no kids to have to do anything for, even just for a short time, is ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY WOW!  And this is shared out with Hubba Hubba who also gets a few hours in his office, doing his own worky stuff. It feels like play, but actually some really great stuff is bubbling away on our creative cookers, and when your work feels exciting and there is time to dream, good shit happens!!! 

I am really making peace with some of the things that have been holding me back these last couple of years both on a personal and professional level. Big fears are being overcome. I am feeling confident in my writing, in my book, in my doula work and vision. After spending lots of time researching and reading and reflecting I am feeling ok again about expressing and sharing and discussing some of my more radical birth ideas. Last year I had a really testing time with a friend which completely rocked my confidence, and made me question my ability to support and nurture in the way that I feel is authentic and heartfelt.  I have realised that actually all I can ever do is just be myself, and that this is ok. That I cannot change who other people are, nor should I change myself to be more acceptable to them.

It's taken me a long time to heal from this, but I now feel I can really move on from it - yay!

I have decided something really important today.

I am a passionate birth worker and I am not going to apologise for it any more! I am not going to apologise for agreeing with the radicals, the rebels, the counter-culture heroes and heroines that I adore. I am going to promote and put into action the loving and compassionate practises which I see so many professionals urging people to do in the birthing world. I am not going to feel afraid any more of offending the mainstream view, of wording everything extra delicately.

I'm going to publish a brave and unapologetically hippyfied birthing book and stop worrying about the fact that it might be sneered at or rejected by some.  Being absolutely, authentically me and speaking in my own voice, is all I can really do, to honour my heart and soul vision. That must be enough!

I am reading so many wonderful books and watching so much fantastic birthy stuff right now that I KNOW in my soul is right and true and just gorgeous! Some very wise people are guiding my way, on the path ahead of me, and I feel so grateful to live in this age where I can read hundreds of birth stories, watch youtube clips of fantastic speakers from around the world like Marsden Wagner, Michel Odent, Ina May Gaskin and others - folks who really believe in the miracle of the human body when women are genuinely cared for and deeply supported and understoo. With decades of experience in very senior position in the birthing world, they really are qualified to talk on the subject of a gentler and more humane approach to birth. I feel so supported as a doula in this stage of my journey and amazed by the knowledge and professionalism displayed by doulas in real life and also on various chat rooms and forums- the care and information sharing is just so generous and fantastic. The dedication of doulas in finding the best research, to share and disseminate information on every conceivable birth topic, both medical and not, is phenomenal. I am really impressed with how informed and well educated doulas strive to be, and it is really moving to be part of something so passionate and caring.

Soooooo, anyway my lovelies. Basically I am feeling pretty darn fabulous right now about home and work, after feeling so wibbly and wobbly and wavey and stucky and tired, I am feeling like I have given myself permission to do what I need to do and say what I need to say.

Go me!


Saturday, 12 January 2013

Bringing it all back home

Well doesn't the universe work in mysterious ways?

Just as I was saying how overstretched I was feeling, this week has been one in which lots of lovely and touching gifts have fallen in my lap from thoughtful friends, and there has been much time off and relaxation for my tired mother soul.

This week I have been on call as a back-up Doula, which has been very grounding indeed. The lady I have semi put my life on hold for lives over an hours drive away, and tends to birth rather fast!!! So I have been keeping close to home and avoiding any visits in the opposite direction from hers - just in case. So far no baby but this is good news really - her husband will be home on leave from Monday onwards from Afghanistan, in which case I will no longer be needed, because he will see his baby into this world instead of me - which is what we all want really!!!

Being 'on-call' means having my phone nearby at all times, having a 'just-in-case' bag packed in my car, and generally considering that person in all your plans. A doula doesn't just magically show up at births - the unpredictability means waiting with mama but from afar, and reflecting and turning inward to get into the right frame of heart,mind and soul. As much as the mother prepares for her own birth, a doula also spends time getting into 'the doula zone' in gentle and subtle ways, whilst carrying on with normal life as much as possible!

So this week, instead of going out to see friends, they have come to us. Some good friends that I doula'd for last year came for dinner and had hand-made the most brilliant Christmas gifts ever, making me cry tears of both joy and laughter, and I got to have lots of cuddles with the gorgeous little man who I was lucky enough to witness coming into the world. A very special night all round, with children everywhere :-)

In the middle of the week, I surprised my husband with a night in a (rather posh) local B&B, where we enjoyed an amazing dinner and had the whole night off from parenting, both at the same time - woop woop! Thanks to the loving and trustworthy hands of our friend Nicole. We have made a promise to ourselves to do this a few times a year, hurray! 

And at the end of the week, some other good pals brought delicious organic homemade curry and apple pie and more hand-made gifts - including a leather-bound photo-album for all our holiday pics, and some personalized drinks bottle holders for each child. We had a lovely time all-together - a real houseful :-)

And today, after a good chat with my soul sister Gemma, a friend popped round for a cuppa and a chat which was really lovely, and then my husband looked after the children for most of the day while I went on a mission into our local town. It was great to have some headspace for myself and and then to make things even better I had a lovely conversation with my doula mentor on the phone. She is a very funky and wise grandmother with a gorgeous bohemian soul and is all love and good judgement. Thank you universe, for Suzanne!

So it has been a really grounding and homey week - I have had lots of time to work on my book - (Yes I am still writing it!), time replenishing my energies, time with my husband, time with friends, and time with my children......

Tommorow we're having a verrrrry belated Christmas dinner and overnight stay with our brother-in-law, and on Monday my very dear friend is coming to stay for the night which I am beyond excited about - especially since she is having her fourth child and I haven't been able to give her a single cuddle yet, and I love her so much!

So......balance, which has evaded me for some time, came a-visitin' this week, and what a lovely week it has been!!! So many good people to be thankful for xxx

Next week I am no longer on call so shall be out and about again, oh the call of the wild - I'll be walking in forests and enjoying the freedom to go anywhere I like. And there might be snow - yeeeehaaaa!!! Bring it on.


Monday, 7 January 2013

Taking care...

I had a moment today, a realisation.

I have not been taking enough care of myself for a long time.

I haven't been eating great, I haven't been drinking enough fluids, I haven't been able to get to sleep easily. I haven't been a good friend to myself because I've been so focused on being a good friend to others, spending hours and hours late at night hoping and dreaming and praying that things will work out for them all. And in contrast to how I care for others I'm pretty lame at caring for myself! If I devoted a tenth of the time I am putting out worrying and caring for everyone else I would be in amazing shape! 

This year, like every year I devoted a lot of time to finding lovely gifts for everyone I know, and didn't have a single present to give my husband on Christmas day. My man, the one who means more than anything, my best friend, my lover, my confidant, my partner. Nothing, nada, zip! This is partly because he said 'I already have everything I want, please don't get me anything'..... But still.... Only just now have I figured out what to get my love - I have a little surprise for him which will remedy that - shhhh..... don't tell though!

And I have realised that I am also way more generous with others too when it comes to seeing the good in them and believing the best in them - without extending the same courtesy to myself.

This year I have given myself so much of a hard time, been so unkind to myself, been unforgiving and hard on myself.

So I am going to do myself a favour this year. I am going to be gentle.

Instead of striving so hard to be strong and capable ALL the time, I am going to take some of my own advice.

In writing my birth book I have written some chapters in the benefits of remaining supple and bendy in birth in the metaphysical sense - and remained very inflexible in my own ways of thinking!

So this year I am going to learn to relax more, be bendy bendy bendy, and *truly* go with the flow.....

Saturday, 5 January 2013


Now I have got some of you to talk, I just want to say thank you. Really. I loved your input and it reminded me that someone out there is actually reading and needing this blog!

And it felt great to say all that stuff I've been bottling up for a while.

The many many positive moments of 2012 are something I have found easier to share than the grotty ones, and once the anguish of them had passed it felt safe to write that piece. So please know that I am past the worst of it and in a positive space right now.

But now it feels safe for me to express some of my frustration from last year that I could never find the right words for..

Last year we struggled, and felt helpless at times, with daily tantrums and power-struggles with our youngest boy. Both Pete and I have gone to bed many a night feeling pretty useless, bewildered and exhausted by the ferocity of Alf's moods.

It feels like we have spent too many moments in the last year treading on egg-shells with him. He can be astonishingly sweet, loving and kind, but the flip side we have been living with has been screaming tantrums, a very demanding attitude towards everything, a very unforgiving attitude towards anyone or anything that doesn't go perfectly his own way, and a jekkyl and hyde personality which we have blamed ourselves for and taken to heart.

As someone who loves babies and children, parenting for the fourth time for crying out loud!, and someone who trained in Montessori and early years development, worked as a nursery nurse, and is a writer on parenting this has perhaps been the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. I feel silly that we are having these struggles fourth time round, when the others were never really like this. I keep thinking surely it should be a piece of cake by now - no? I feel like we have devoted so much time in our approach to the kids, have spent thousands of hours reading parenting and home ed books, and tried to create a nurturing and fun environment for him, so to be faced with this kid who just rages at every little thing has felt very very difficult and soul-destroying.

There were times on our travels when we would go to bed and hold each other in our arms and just keep saying "Why?' "What are we doing wrong?" 'Why does he have to get like this?' Having an hour long screaming fit because we felt he shouldn't have a packet of sweets one time when we were in a french supermarket, to a horror-stricken audience of shoppers, was one of the lowest points. Along with him paddying and scratching his grandmas face when she kindly looked after all the children for us when we arrived back in England, so that we could go out for an evening with a posse of old friends. The shame of that was pretty crushing for both Pete and myself, even though she herself is of a holistic and extremely gentle bent and took it in her stride.

Ach, it's been a real soul -searching year. We have tried to remain loving and understanding and endlessly patient, but when this approach hasn't worked, then out of sheer exhaustion resorted to "Ok, we aint gonna take any more of this crap!" attitude, an had to physically restrain him, in that moment, so he wouldn't hurt anyone. When a child is a danger to himself and others, when they cannot hear reason in a moment of childish fury - what else can you do? When they are being actively spiteful? I keep thinking - but we are a nice family, we aren't like this! I could understand it if he was growing up in an abusive or vindictive family himself - but we are peaceful, gentle people and fun-loving people on the whole. Not perfect - but not monsters or anything.

He always calms down eventually, but by then it has reduced Pete and I nearly to tears. And occasionally the other children have been moved to tears by it too. Which is perhaps the most frustrating of all, since they didn't do anything wrong to him - but he can have a habit of being spiteful to them too.

Alf if you ever read this in future, I don't blame you. I don't blame anyone.

I know is that we will work it out. We will get through it.

And in the meanwhile, we will try to be as loving and have as much fun along the way as we can. There may have been some tears this last year but there has also been an incredible amount of laughter and tenderness too.

Pete and I are made of strong stuff, and we have a fantastic circle of supportive and caring friends. My soul sisters care for me and hear me and give me good counsel too. If you are reading - thank you - you know who you are.

I know it will get easier as he gets older.

So at this point I am actually feeling more positive and hopeful about things than I have done in the darkest moments of 2012, and excited about new possibilities and shifts in our family dynamic.

However we educate the children this year, I can hold my head up high that the kids are mostly enjoying life, mostly enjoying their education. Mostly is good enough for me. Who enjoys their job every single day of the year? Who enjoys being with anyone 24/7, 7 days a week? I can see that getting us all out and about independently this year will be awesome all-round.

I asked Indie today, in a very casual way, "Do you like being home educated?" As he roller-skated past me he joyfully flipped off a "Yeah - it's brilliant!" and went away singing happily to himself.

And Finn amazed me yesterday with his maturity - as we walked round a lake he said something very mature for an eleven year old boy - "The swan is a really noble beast, isn't it, mum?" (!!!)

Herbie is constantly reading and building and making things, masterminding so many projects in the house.

And as I write, Alf is feeding me chocolates, and being very sweet! And when I asked him what he wished for in the new year, my ninja lego crazy four year old tapped his chin and rolled his eyes mischieveously before proclaiming - "Thousands and thousands of fairies!!!!"

So yes - there are dark moments to tell, there are low moments. There are fears and doubts and moments of exhaustion.

But there's also a lot of magic sprinkled amongst it all, and when I look back in years to come I'm sure we'll all be able to laugh about the dark moments and there'll be lots of happy times we shared. It was mostly awesome with a hint of shitty.

Onwards and upwards!!!


Thursday, 3 January 2013

Are you brave enough?


I need to write this. I need to say it. It's been bothering me for a while.

This year I need to express myself more clearly, bad shit and all.

Not that it's been terrible in any way, I don't mean that, for a second. No, no, no!

But I have this niggling feeling that I have been slightly sugar-coating my writing when it comes to how I have really felt about parenting and home ed this last year.

To make it more palatable.

To keep giving other home edders more of what they so like to hear - to soothe and placate and be politically correct.

So you won't all think I'm a bad mummy.

It's partly my fault, weaving a story to make everything alright, for my own sanity as much as anything.

The truth is I'm batshit bored as fuck with being a full-time home edder.

Good mummys are not supposed to say such things of course.

Good mummys don't get tired or bored of being with their children from morning till gone midnight.

Did you read that correctly? Yes. From morning till gone midnight. Because this is what my litle firecracker kids have fallen into doing - and not wanting to be all oppressive and authoritarian, I have tried to be a good unschooler and say hey, no problem guys!

This is the story I have been telling myself, re-inforced by hours of reading unschooling blogs where children are the biggest blessing ever and mummys should focus everything, EVERYTHING, every last ounce of her energy, on them, and do it all sweetly, without any bitchin' about it.

They are right - children are of course a blessing, but never being able to say they are a massive pain in the arse as well?

I get the feeling in the home ed world that there is an unwritten rule of sensorship.

I know where it comes from.

Home ed often is misunderstood, and so morons who have no idea about it write some stupid thoughtless article. Home edders get up in arms, vitriolically defending the cause on threads and filling up comments boxes, spitting feathers about their misportrayal, about how they have misjudged home ed as it really is. I have done it myself.

We get such a hard time having the very idea of home ed accepted in the media and in some circles. Some parents get so much flack for doing it from their own parents and peers, neigbours and perfect strangers. Some parents can't even agree between themselves whether to home ed their children or not.

So we fortify ourselves with reassuring books, success stories and all the happy happy wonderful stuff, We document the sweet bits. We show off the glorious moments, photographing it all, like one long happy photo album.

And it can all become rather over simplified. The world becomes split into two camps - those that school and those that don't. George Orwell's 'Two legs bad, four legs good' in Animal Farm...becomes 'School is bad, home is good.'

Some blogs, websites and articles in the home ed world literally do not ever stray into that twighlighty reality zone where we mothers feel racked with doubt, fear or a quiet, secret, sense of hopelessness about our children's frailties or about our own. It's almost as if there is a quiet agreement:

We will not say anything negative about home ed because it will make us look bad, incompetent, inadequate.

Singularly and as a community.

We musn't say anything that might damage the carefully edited side of home ed.

We must only report, showcase and document the gloriousness of it, creating a kind of positive-only, self-protecting, rose-tinted version of home ed.

We must only promote it as a positive option in every last case, for every moment of the day.

Rightly or wrongly, I have felt that there is an invisible gagging order on me, if I want to be liked and respected as a home ed writer.

No-one has ever told me to say only nice things, to report on the sweetness of it all. But I feel it as a silent agreement, across the whole home ed world.

Like we musn't give anyone ammunition to throw against us, because there's enough already.

This year I will be exploring many options for my children which may include some flexi-schooling.

I have devoted myself to my children for the last ten years giving them more than every ounce of my patience and energy. I am so proud of what I have done for them. The time I have given them.

But this year, I am recognising some basic truths. I do not have infinite patience, energy,and  imagination.

Parenting all day and late into the night is more than I can cope with, for seven days of every week.

It is an honour and a priviledge to be a mother to my boys, and I feel I have given them so much.

I love them absolutely, with all my heart.

I am utterly utterly grateful that we live in a free country where home ed exists, and believe passionately in it as a (mostly positive) alternative to school.

I can see the many benefits of home ed manifested in my own kids and in those who make up the lovely home ed community of which we are a part.

But this mama is tired.

And my kids need more Daddy energy this year. More outdoors energy. More out-in-the-big-wide world-without-mama energy. Different energy than the kind I'm putting out.

By respecting myself, my limitations, and by taking the time to nurture my other babies too- my writing and doula dreams, I hope to become a better mother this year.

A more generous and loving one.

A less tired one.

A more balanced one.

A happier one!

I hope you will step up and join me this year in writing more honestly and bravely about the rounded experience of parenting, of home ed, of living life to the full! I want to read all about the dark moments of your days, the murky bits, as well as the glorious ones.

Let's be more honest, more open, have more courage to break our moulds!

The word 'courage' is really speaking to me for 2013.

It literally means to be brave-hearted.

This is my pledge, my intention, out loud.

But I need your help to do it my dear readers. Give me the odd word, the odd comment on here. I don't want this blog to be a voyeuristic place of one-sided openness, where you can come and read about my fuck-ups and go back to your lives feeling smug.

If I write for you, you can give me some tiny words of your own.

It's a two-way thang my lovelies.

I need to hear your thoughts too.

It helps me to grow, to change, to learn.

I write to have a dialogue with you all, to get answers to questions I am not able to answer for myself.

If this blog becomes a one-way gig then I'm a quittin'!!!

So my dears, I hope you will join me in being brave and adding your own comments here. I hope you will feel safe to do so. I hope you will be brave enough to join in and be a part of this blog as I so need you all to be.

I have absolutely no interest in giving up my time for this blog, for a silent audience.

So if you value this space, if it moves you, if you need it in your life, chip in sometimes my lovelies.

I would love some guest posts on here this year - do you have something to say? Never been brave enough to speak out about your parenting? I'd love to hear from you!

Let's make 2013 a year of saying it like it is, speaking up, movin' on up, and living bigger and brighter lives, with more courage. I'll help you to do that if you do the same for me :-)

Big love to you all dearest readers, here's to a year of crapping our panties about our dreams but stepping up and doing it anyway.