The Moment You Realise You’ve Turned Into Your Mother

This bank holiday weekend, I decided it was time to revisit an old hobby that has somewhat fallen by the wayside since I had a baby.

Yes, I went shopping.

I arrived home, laden with shopping bags full of clothes, just like in the olden days when I used to spend every weekend admiring the wares all over Oxford Street, or pore over the vintage wares in the coolest parts of East London, searching for the perfect Pat Butcher-esque 1980s knits and 1970s evening dresses last worn by Margot from the Good Life for a spot of fondue over at Abigail’s Party.

The only difference was that this time, the clothes were not for me.

“Look what I bought!” I cried excitedly to my mother, conveniently forgetting the fact that she was likely to respond by bleating about ISAs and credit cards and aren’t-you-supposed-to-be-saving-up-to-buy-a-house solidly for the next three weeks at least.  I began to pull the full range of adorable toddler-sized Breton tops from Joules out of the bags and fantasise about my probable future life as a lifestyle blogger with immaculate white furniture, posing coquettishly on the front of my coffee table book of photographs of me, beaming, and holding aloft various plates of courgetti and raw kale with a jus of blueberry and pomegranate made in the nutribullet; suddenly having perfect skin, and perfect hair with absolutely no visible greys.  Maybe there would even be a perfect labrador at my heels, excited for his morning walk on the beach near where my perfect spotless white-furnished house will obviously be; and an immaculate Piglet, possibly with suddenly more hair, so that I can complete the look of general ruddy outdoor health by curling it and ruffling it a bit for the photos in that adorably middle-class way.  Hell, while we’re at it maybe there would even be a perfect husband sat nearby, possibly behind the vintage oak rough-hewn table in the perfect kitchen, gazing at me adoringly, although obviously he would have to avert his eyes when I pulled the enormous M&S “thigh and tummy slimming” knickers out of the bag.

At last, having shown my mother both the fantasy-life wardrobe from Joules which I had purchased for Piglet, and the enormous knickers for me, courtesy of the need to hide certain aspects of reality in order to partake of this fantasy life, such as the increasing girth around my midsection, I pulled out the one thing I had allowed myself to have; the one remnant of my former life that lay within those bags…..

“OH MY GOD THOSE TROUSERS HAVE GOT AN ELASTICATED WAIST!” was my mother’s cry as I triumphantly removed that one item from the bag.  “YOU’RE TURNING INTO ME!”

Suddenly deflated, I looked down at the trousers.

“No I’m not!” I wailed.  “These are….these are…..THESE ARE FROM AMERICAN APPAREL!”

How had my mother failed to realise that I am, at thirty-five, (or “nearly thirty-six” as my mother cruelly likes to point out, despite the fact that there are still a full three months until my next birthday and I could totally, like, run a marathon before then.  Or win the Nobel Peace Prize) still on the actual bleeding cutting edge of cool?

I looked down at the trousers.  Sure enough, my mother was right.  They did have an elasticated waist.  They were a very dull shade of blue.  The legs were tapered into the classic parsnip shape that flattered absolutely no one.  In fact, they looked a bit like the sort of trousers that a woman of my mother’s age might buy, had they been in BHS instead of American Apparel.  And had they been in BHS, I would not have bought them.  I would not have seen them.  I would not have even been within a hundred metre radius of the building they were in, let alone lifted them triumphantly and waved them under my mother’s nose expecting platitudes about how I had still got it, still down with the kids, still thinner than most teenagers, and definitely still rocking American Apparel.

Not only had I been taken in by the false glow of shiny marketing and the promise of instant hipster chic if I only purchased said overpriced old-person trousers, but I had been tragic enough to believe that I still do have it.  That I still had the insouciant ironic granny style of some model-esque nineteen year old Hoxton hipster in Deirdre Barlow’s old glasses.  Instead I just looked like Granny.  Piglet’s granny, to be precise.  My own mother.  The very same mother who had just quite literally collapsed into fits of giggles at her middle-aged daughter’s folly at thinking she was still cool.

Cheers Mum, I get it.  I’m old.

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Giving Myself a Mummy Makeover

It’s Mother’s Day!  Yay!  The one day of the year when we are allowed to lie in bed all day being fanned with giant feathery fans by our children, while they behave perfectly, bring us an endless selection of dainty morsels on silver trays and present us with giant homemade cards Pinterest would be jealous of.

Or something like that, anyway.

One thing I keep reading about is the oft-quoted idea that mummy martyrdom has gone out of style.  Nowadays we are supposed to put ourselves first.

“Happy mother, happy baby!” they cry, whilst reminding guilt-ridden new mums that twenty years down the line, no one is going to walk into their child’s graduation ceremony yelling “I KNEW that one was formula fed!  They only got a 2:2!  Begone, to the scrapheap of life O one who was failed in infancy!”

So it was with this in mind that I decided today that I was going to start putting myself first.

Not in the sense of being a selfish and unfeeling harpy who thinks only of their own happiness.  Oh no, that would not go down well on Mother’s Day.  Putting yourself first is all well and good, but woe betide the mother who says it out loud.  There will be no giant feathery fan for you young lady, and you can forget about those cheery daffodils or being offered a free Prosecco in Pizza Express.

I mean, put myself first in the sense of FINALLY WEAR SOME DECENT CLOTHES AND PUT SOME MAKE UP ON.

For my Mother’s Day did not consist of being fanned by a grateful Piglet, eternally beholden to his wondrous mother for giving birth to him, meaning that never again would she enjoy the joy of a flat stomach without working at it (something that she cannot presently be bothered to do), but enjoying a perfectly pleasant lunch at home with the family, and a trip to church (I am a committed agnostic, but I have to say I was almost converted after they brought out free toast, and I’m pretty sure Piglet has already pledged his soul to Jesus).

“Nice to see you’ve made an effort today, for Mother’s Day,” my brother quipped sarcastically, while I schlepped round the kitchen, cooking my Mother’s Day lunch (Piglet’s job, obvs, but I let him off due to not being tall enough to reach the stove).  This was shortly after said brother had very nearly ruined my entire Mother’s Day experience by saying that he was obliged to be nice to me as I was “technically” a Mother, almost causing me to yell “IVF MOTHERS ARE PEOPLE TOO, YOU RATBAG!” before he quantified it by explaining that all he meant by that was that I am not his mother, and therefore he is under no actual obligation to be nice to me just because it’s Mother’s Day.

He was right.  I had made zero effort.  My sole piece of effort that morning had consisted in finding a jumper big enough to cover my leggings-clad posterior.  Obviously I blame the Church of England for this.  If they didn’t have their services so early (10.30am!  On a Sunday!) then I would have had more time to make myself look presentable.  However, it is an inescapable fact that since becoming a mother my standards of physical presentation have not so much declined as disappeared completely.

I used to think about what I wore.  I thought about it a lot.  I used to be stylish.  This photo was on a Polish street style website, goddamit.  A photo of MEEEEE!

street style
Let’s just say this was a long time ago.

And this was a casual shopping outfit.  Not only have I worn those heels (all £450 worth of them) a grand total of once since Piglet was born (I took along a plastic bag with a spare pair of flats in.  Motherhood has made me prepared.  And turned me into a bag lady carting plastic bags about on nights out) but for the first five months of Piglet’s life I didn’t even brush my hair.  The hairdresser nearly had a heart attack when I finally got round to rocking up at the salon, hair shredded from my frantic oh-no-someone-is-going-to-look-at-it emergency brushing attempt.

I had one of those brushing attempts again today, having neglected my hair (again) for several weeks.

That is it.  I am getting it cut, and sorting it out.  No more greasy ponytail, no more unkempt eyebrows and no more having to hide my Mum Parka at work events because I can’t find my smart work-appropriate coat from Reiss.  I am having a Mummy Makeover.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

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And the winner of the Best Dressed Baby Award is….

It sounds like something out of the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party circa 1993, but it’s official, I have the best dressed baby in Wembley.  Winner of the Elle Style Awards, Special Commendation from Anna Wintour, Vogue Baby of the Year.  Move over Blue Ivy, Prince George and North West.  Yes, the play worker at Baby Club (n.b. this is not a nightclub.  That would bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “nappy night”) complimented Piglet on his outfit today with the words, “another lovely outfit this week!”  Yes ANOTHER.  See, Piglet is known throughout North West London for his baby chic.  Let us gloss over that incident with the poo in the dungarees. That was, like, MONTHS AGO.

As for myself, I have not been faring quite so well in the sartorial stakes.  For the second time in a row, we got up too late for me to have time to apply any make up before we left the house, so not only was I slap free-something that has become alarmingly commonplace in recent weeks-but the waistband of my maternity jeans (yes I am still wearing them) sits sufficiently low on the hips for me to have to continually hoist them up to avoid displaying my giant M&S mummy pants to the world.  Not that this was the biggest fashion faux pas at baby club today, as just as we were leaving there was a woman bending down to put her shoes on who was showing her entire bottom.  Imagine the furore if THAT happened in Claridges.

Speaking of which, I have been trying to express milk again, to no avail.  My euphoria upon discovery of the fact that hand expressing is a) possible and b) not the excruciatingly painful debacle I had expected it to be was tempered by the fact that the couple of drips I managed to squeeze out did not, as I had hoped, make much of an impact on the bottle.  One of my antenatal class said her sister had “only” been able to get out 70mls, which compared with my measly few drips, which didn’t even register on the millilitre scale, must have been like Niagara Falls.  It now looks increasingly unlikely that I will ever be able to leave Piglet with anybody for longer than half an hour as I have read in baby books that if babies don’t learn to take a bottle early on, they never will, and Piglet has never even seen a bottle.  He’s going to be the breastfeeding equivalent of those old men in pubs who complain about the yoof of today drinking lager out of bottles instead of real ale from a hearty tankard hung above the bar with their name on it.

In other news, Piglet has discovered that if he flaps his arms about a bit whilst sitting in the washing up bowl (still currently too scared to put him in the giant baby bath, so he is having his baths in the washing up bowl.  The washing up, you will be relieved to hear, goes in the dishwasher) an interesting effect, commonly known as a splash, is created.  Mummy is now soaked to the skin.

The Desperate State of Shopping with No Money

So today I was so desperate to get out of the house that I sat in Starbucks for an hour sipping a latte.

A LATTE.  This is very bad on the money-saving front.  That £2.25 would have bought three days worth of food in the halal shop.  At least I didn’t buy any cake.  This was mainly because now that I am an Uber-Mother and Domestic Goddess, I have been trying my hand at baking, and yesterday made pineapple upside down cake, which I am now in the process of polishing off, on my own, before it goes off.  Let’s just say that three weeks after giving birth (or, as I prefer to think of it, having Piglet wrenched out of me, since I played a pathetically small role in the whole process) I had lost most of the baby weight, and since then it has been steadily creeping back on.  I then spent the next half an hour wandering idly round the “London Designer Outlet” (compulsory inverted commas, like allegedly that’s what it is.  Most exciting brands therein are Kurt Geiger and er, North Face.  We’re not talking Roland Mouret here), glancing in shop windows and sighing dramatically at the sight of my not-very-thin midsection, wondering if taking up baking as a hobby was such a good idea.

I also had a little wander into Kurt Geiger.  Because obviously shoe shopping is the sensible thing to do whilst berating yourself for having the extravagance to purchase a latte.  To my delight, they had the perfect Mum shoes in there-flat heeled knee high brown riding boots, which I had been considering buying for some time, due to their practicality whilst pushing a pram, and country-chic, preppy look with a tweed jacket.  And they were reduced.  To £140.  All I can say is, thank God the “London Designer Outlet” is not a real designer outlet.  I then spotted a pair of cheaper black suede over-the-knee boots which I also wanted and still couldn’t afford, despite their being less than half the price of the riding boots.  If it’s any consolation, I already have both a pair of brown knee high boots, and black over the knee ones, but the devil is in the details (the brown boots have a heel and laces, and were purchased in 2006, when knee high boots were already starting to look dated, and the over the knee boots have a pointed toe in the style last seen on Caprice circa 1999).

Before long I am going to look like Caprice in 1999.  But fatter.  Either that or I’m just going to have to wait for all these things to come back into fashion.  Because, like the recent resurgence of the crop top, this is likely to happen just as I have got too old and fat to enjoy it.