Punctual, Proud and Peeing…


The Girl has started school. The school do a very gentle induction of half days for a whole week. Which is of course a total nightmare for childcare and for my child who is used to 10 hour days at nursery. It is somewhat painful all round.

Anyway, accepting this, Phil rose to the parenting challenge and took some annual leave. As did I, as I wasn’t missing the first day of school obligatory photo shoot either! But on the Friday I had a course to go on.  

So I swanned out of the house at 7.30am being a strong and independent woman, going to work and leaving Phil to have the Stay-at-home-dad experience. As we have long established, time keeping is not Phils’ strongest point so I left him fully briefed and and crossed my fingers. 

But I needn’t have worried. Phil is a new age independent man. He’d got this. And he really did. He dropped the girl off. He fed The Boy, he returned at lunch time to collect The Girl. He told me with great delight that he spoke to lots of the mums at the school gates, he tells me he was a proud dad and he didn’t stick out like the only dad at the gate, he did the school run and enjoyed it. In fact he was so on time that he managed to collect The Boy’s prescription milk (because cows milk makes his insides bleed) from the pharmacy before he went to the school. 

The Boy’s milk supply comes as 7 tins of formula. Which they kindly put in a box to make it easy to carry. 

So Phil went to the school gates and mingled like a pro with a huge, bright purple, clearly labelled, Tena lady incontinece pads box under his arm. 

Now when I realise that this has happened I have mixed emotions. 

Firstly I’m mortified that every parent at the school gates is going to think that I have incontinence issues. I’ve had two children, including a 9lb 1 chunk of a boy so it’s not entirely unreasonable that people would think this. But I actually don’t. I’m lucky enough to have a husband who is a urologist and therefore kindly offered frequent reminders to do my pelvic floor exercises. Which to date have proved very effective in maintaining my ability to pee on demand. 

But then again. Why should I be so distressed that people are thinking my husband is collecting my incontinence pads? I mean what a guy to do that?! 

And, so what if I do need incontinence pads? What’s the big deal? It’s a common problem, why should I be embarrassed? Why shouldn’t we say it loud and proud “I carried 2 children and popped them out of my fanny. My body is amazing. So let’s cut it some slack and forgive it for being a bit leaky.”

Maybe Phil proudly chatting away with the Tena Lady under his arm will make someone else think. Maybe it will normalise this. Maybe it will encourage someone else to seek help. Maybe us ladies should stick together and breakdown the stigma. Maybe we can help each other out. 

And maybe we should all just do our pelvic floor exercises now. 

Right now!!! 

But maybe, just maybe, nobody noticed the Tena Lady box after all….

Shhh, Shhh, Shower…


I thought I had showering sorted. I finally thought, 16 months after birthing The Boy I had eventually got to grips with the process of showering, while also parenting the 4yr old drama queen and the tiny destroyer. 

The approach involves confining them both in The Boy’s room (the least hazardous room in the house), locking the child gate, leaving the bathroom door open and speed washing. 

Now, on this particular day – The Deputy, (my friendly but very over involved retired neighbour) rang the door bell. The kids are restrained, I have negotiated the terms of The Girl’s release, I’m naked and literally stepping into my hot running shower. So I ignore it . 

The first time. 

The second time. 

And on the third time it crosses my mind that maybe he isn’t disturbing me to offer me vegetables (he intentionally grows an excess of lettuce so that he can constantly disturb the entire street to share his produce). So I do a naked dash to my bedroom window and spot The Deputy’s wife watering her back garden, and decide that there is no medical emergency and my shower is back on. 

Just as I get myself into the shower and dare to breathe a quick deep relaxing breath. Then the shrieking begins. 

“Mummy!!”  

I ignore it. Just 1 more minute. 

“Mummy!!”

Deep breath. Just one more minute.

“Mummy!!” And she is in there in the bathroom. Right there, just one minute in to my shower. 

Now, The Girl is 4 years old. We have negotiated this, every non work day, for the past few months. She knows the rules. She does not leave the bedroom for fear that The Boy will immediately make a run for the stairs through the, then open, gate and I will have to do a mad mid shower gallop to grab him. 

So I’m not that happy right now. 

“Mummy!!” 

“Right…” and I’m ready to give her some stern words. 

So I turn to look at her. Obviously if I’m going to tell her off I’m going to be an A+ mummy and make eye contact with her……but then I notice something on her face. A big brown streak across her forehead and down her cheek. 

“Erm, What is that on your face?” 

“I thought it was peanut butter Mummy but it came out his nappy when he crawled over my head….Mummy I think it’s… POO!!!” 

There we are. All I wanted was 5 minutes in the shower. 5 minutes alone (admittedly with the door open and my ears on).  

Instead, I got 2 mins of doorbell ringing (it turns out because The Deputy needed to tell me the window cleaner was here-like I wouldn’t have noticed myself), 1 min of shrieking and the grand finale of my daughter having a faeces face mask courtesy of her little brother. 

Yep I got this down. 

Back to the dry shampoo. 

Diarrhoea Despair… 

Firstly, it needs to be said I share the following delight of an experience, not in a search for sympathy but purely for light hearted entertainment. The episode has now passed and I can look back and laugh heartily – with a much more acceptable risk level of soiling myself. 

I got ill. I got the mother of all stomach bugs. I had explosive, incapacitating, diarrhoea. And of course it struck when Phil was on call.

I called in to work sick, for the first time in years. I did get sent home sick once while The Boy was a passenger, because I was definitely sicker than some of the patients, but had attempted to do that typical doctor thing of not wanting to let down colleagues – actually I probably just spread the lurgy, in hindsight it was a bad decision and I should have known better. In this case there was no doubting the sick call had to be made. 

Being that I hadn’t left the toilet since 3am and my bum was clenched and burning, Phil called a colleague to say he would be late and took the kids to nursery. I waved them off from the confines of my bathroom and proceeded to let nature take its course. 

By mid morning I had managed to leave the bathroom – stocked up with toilet roll from the airing cupboard supply and got myself a glass of flat lemonade. I went to bed cuddling a bucket to cover any top end mishaps. 

I tried to nap. The belly cramps were slowing down but a pump was still a very risky business in the white bed linen, so frequent trips to the loo continued. 

Unfortunately mid afternoon came and there was no sign of things letting up. I contacted Phil but of course he was on call… 

Nursery pick up time was rapidly approaching and I was still experiencing torrents of diarrhoea. 

Now in this scenario I decided my options were as follows:

1. Abandon the kids at nursery and let social services bring them home. 

2. Call Phil, demand he returns home at once. If someone has a testicular emergency he will need to explain that he is AWOL and the testicle is to be sacrificed so the surgeons wife can maintain her dignity and not crap herself in public. 

3. Get one of The Boys nappies, nappy up, wear a long top to cover up the bulging underwear situation, clench, get to the pharmacy buy a truck load of Imodium, take immediately, have the most terrifyingly tense drive to nursery, apply alcohol hand gel copiously, grab both kids and return home (driving in an assertive but safe manner) and immediately hide in the toilet again while CBeebies keeps the kids in one place.

All undeniably appealing options. 

Clearly, I went for option 3, and whilst doing so, mentally prepared a business plan for an emergency Imodium home delivery service….

Public Parenting Politics…


I get that everyone parents differently, I’m in no position to judge. There are definitely times when I’m absolutely not winning parenting awards and occasions when I’m barely parenting at all. However. When I say I’m not judging… 

The Girl has swimming lessons. 8 kids in an old school swimming baths, teacher in the water, arm bands all round, parents sit on benches next to the pool. You get the the picture. 

Parents generally sit on the side, perspiring, passing the time of day, some checking their phones, others lightly snoozing, or like me, chasing after a newly wandering baby (who I know isn’t really a baby anymore but I’m damned if I’m gonna accept it). 

 All except Billy’s mum. Billy’s mum doesn’t sit down. Billy’s mum paces the side like an Olympic swimming coach. Billy’s mum is rather vocal. And because of this, every other parent knows that Billy’s mum is “so proud”, we all know that Billy “is the most amazing swimmer ever” (an awkward declaration in front of 7 other “swimmers”), we are all aware that it was “really amazing swimming” when Billy didn’t sink, despite him having arm bands, a woggle and kick board – it would have been more of an achievement if Billy had managed to sink with such an array of floatation devices. 

Now, I know it’s a bit catty, I don’t know the ins and outs of Billy and his mums life (other than how accomplished Billy is at preschool and how much he excels at football, running, and everything else) and I KNOW I shouldn’t be, but I am so intensely irritated by Billy’s mum.

At the end of the class there are 3 showers and 8 children. Billy is one of the first ones in (obviously – he would be, his mum cheer leaded him in to it from the poolside), and Billy’s mum is waxing lyrical to anyone who will listen about how great Billy is. 

Billy says “Mum, I’m going to do a wee”. This is witnessed by 5 waiting children and at least 6 of the parents. One of the parents who didn’t hear is Billy’s mum. Billy’s mum is still vocalising her sons success. So she misses it the first time he says it and also the second time. She also misses it when Billy pulls down his shorts, takes his willy out and starts sprinkling the shower floor, and the poolside with his chlorine water diluted urine. In fact, Billy’s mum only notices when she gets a warm, wet foot. 

Billy’s mum is mortified.

Inside there is a tiny bit of me smugly enjoying the fact that this perfect little boy with his perfect mum is absolutely, totally, 100%, normal. 

Obviously at this point I do the right thing. I drop a classic line “boys will be boys” and follow up with some small talk my urology husband tells me when I question the amount of time The Boy spends playing with his todger. “If boys weren’t meant to mess with their boy bits then they wouldn’t have been made with them at hand height”. 

So, Billy’s mum just learnt that that kids make sure that pride comes before a fall. Billy’s mum, being the way she is, clearly feels more mortified about this than most. 

So, then on reflection I feel guilty about how annoying I find her. I decide over the next week that I will not be annoyed by her over enthusiastic parenting, and will instead recognise that I’m maybe slightly envious, as this highlights my own shortcomings as a parent.  

But then the next lesson comes. And Billy’s mum won’t sit down. Or shut up. And “Darling Billy” is still the “best swimmer ever”. Even if he does publicly pee all over his mother. 

Well, that’s unconditional parental love right there. So I guess Billy’s mum is alright really.  Just wish she would pipe down, because clearly The Girl is “the best swimmer ever”…

Wife of the Year… 


Its Phil’s birthday. He is the ripe old age of 32. So it’s not a ‘big birthday’ as such, but it’s a birthday. A birthday I forgot. 

To put it in context, it’s a Monday and I have been away all weekend on a hen do for my very good friend. I consumed unknown quantities of prosecco and gin, and after doing so threw myself around the dance floor. In my mind I was demonstrating Rihanna-esque moves and oozing sex appeal and rhythm, but in reality looking a lot like a 31 year old married mother of two who has been released for the weekend and thinks that she can still party like her slimmer, perkier, trendier, younger self. So, as a result of my exuberant celebrations I’m not on top form. I’m tired, I’m aching after a hoola hooping master class and so my patience is running somewhat thin. 

I’ve known Phil’s birthday was coming. I’ve been aware of it coming on the same day for the past 12 years. I was aware that I should get organised and in fact last week added it to my to-do list. Phil (ever the optimist) even told me a couple of weeks ago that he wouldn’t look at the Amazon account so that it wouldn’t spoil any surprises. 

He needn’t have bothered. 

Somehow it has suddenly, out of the blue, crept up on me and it’s here. Today. Not tomorrow. Today. Now. 

Thankfully, I have a get out of jail free card. Phil is on call. 24hour on call. 

So at 6am I sleepily tell him it’s actually his birthday tomorrow and wish him luck writing the date in patient notes – anyone who has worked their birthday knows you will write your date of birth at least once – and wave him off from our bedroom where The Girl has already crept in and started kicking me out of bed. 

I attempt to enter super mum mode. We successfully have porridge and The Girl announces she wants to go to playgroup- which starts in 30 mins – so I have a shower and get the three of us ready in record time. At play group I fuel myself with caffeine while the kids run in opposite directions, The Boy terrorising the baby area, and The Girl charging extortionate prices in the shop. I mention to a fellow mum my slight oversight, “You had better get a cake then”…. 

This had not crossed my mind- and yet she is right. If not for Phil’s benefit, for The Girl’s. This leaves me with a dilemma. Either I get home, stick the kids in car and brave the supermarket – jeopardising any chance of The Boy having a nap in his cot (and therefore any chance of me having a moments peace). Or, make a cake. It’s a tough call but with encouragement from The Girl I begrudgingly agree to bake.  

Phil loves a Victoria sponge. Which suits just fine as I definitely can’t cope with icing and we happen to have all the required ingredients in the cupboard. Delia Smith makes some comment in the recipe about this being the easiest cake to make and anyone can do it….unfortunately not if you forget to put in the baking powder. 

The ‘cake’ looks like two thick pancakes with jam and a slightly out of date dairy free equivalent cream, shoved between them. The Girl says it’s “A-mazing”. I’m confident Phil will not say the same. 

Whilst The Boy naps and The Girl watches some far to smiley TV presenter do some dancing, I panic buy – utilising our free next day delivery and praying it arrives early doors tomorrow. Phil will be devastated if his new pillow isn’t here for bedtime I’m sure. 

I then tackle the obligatory homemade birthday card from the children. Once again, I thinks Phil’s delight at a card with two “blackberries” made from finger prints in poster paint with the tag line “We love you berry much” will go down a storm. 

There was a time when for a birthday we would have rearranged shifts, got thoughtful gifts, gone out for dinner, maybe even socialised with friends and had a drink of something special. 

But some things change. Phil is working his birthday, if he gets to come home he will find left overs of the casserole he made yesterday awaiting him in the fridge, he won’t be able to have a ‘proper drink’ and he will stumble over the array of duplo bricks lying in the hall. He will see a mountain of washing up, new paint stains on the kitchen table and if he manages to check on the kids (who had better be sleeping), he will see The Boy (having face planted in to a door frame today and a coffee table at the weekend) has such a bruised forehead that he is starting to resemble something from Star Trek, The Girl – who is sleeping next to a helium balloon ready to deliver to ‘yesterday’s birthday boy’ first thing in the morning, and tomorrow, he will be the proud recipient of a pancake cake, a new pillow, a homemade card and an IOU. 

I would say it’s all part of fatherhood but I’m pretty sure this doesn’t happen to every dad. This dad just got unlucky, with a wife trying to have a weekend off and not spending the preceding month getting organised for it… 

Under Pressure…


The exam is done. Well the first attempt is complete. And no. I don’t know how it went. It was an MCQ, and I’m human, so out of the 200 questions I answered, I keep remembering the 3 I got wrong. I could have got all 197 others correct (I didn’t, but theoretically I could have) and I would still only remember the 3 astoundingly irrelevant ones. I could have revised day and night for a lifetime and I would still never have got those right. 

Now, in my younger days before children and responsibilities when my time was my own and how hard I worked was down to me- I would be anxious about the results- could I have done a little bit more? Should I have done those extra few questions? Should I have approached it differently? But now. Well, what will be will be.

If I pass it’s because I am amazing. It’s because I worked so blinking hard. Its because I arrived an hour early for work and my lunch breaks were spent alone in my room reading NICE guidelines and the BNF. It’s because I put the kids to bed each night and hid in the spare room answering question after question. It’s because I packed off my children to any willing relative and knuckled down with the cool kids in the library. Its because I sat down with the GCSE and A level candidates and the uni students. Its because I sat surrounded by top knots and high tops, exposed mid drifts and teenage angst. Its because I sat opposite the younger version of me, and watched as she shared her pens with her boyfriend, swapped medical books with each other and had lunch lying on the grass outside together. 

Its because I wondered. I wondered what the hell possessed me to still be doing this. Why 12 years on I’m sat in the same library revising again but this time on my own? Is this really what I signed up for? Didn’t I work hard enough when I was younger? Could I not have taken an easier option? Could I not do something else? 

No. No I couldn’t. I know nothing else. And so, I got on with it. I gave it my best shot. Therefore, if I pass, it’s because I am ace. 

Well, that and the fact Phil put his work on hold and didn’t once moan about the fact that he was bottom of my priority list, my mum basically moved in for a week and became my house keeper and chef, I let the neighbour mow my lawn, I paid a lady to clean my house, a man to cut back the garden, my sister in law took the children to play group, my dad taught The Girl to ride her bike and picked her flowers that made her “sooo happy” when I couldn’t, making my heart swell and break in equal measure. 

They say it takes a village and I’m incredibly lucky to have mine. 

And if I fail? Well, I tried. I did my best. 

So yes, being a working mum and revising seems pretty tough. So many people have remarked on how challenging it is to do all this with kids. But in some weird way it actually makes it easier and less stressful. Somehow having children gives some perspective, a limit to how self absorbed I can be, and constant reminder of the bigger picture. 

The Girl told me today, “Mummy you’re going to be a winner, you have worked so hard, you’re going to be a winner”. So I may not have learnt enough to pass this exam, but it looks like The Girl learn something pretty important. 

Then she puts on the toy stethoscope and tells me she is going to be a doctor. Actually, maybe she learnt nothing at all…