Anger · Family

Redefining Relationships – A Reflection on 2016

Redefining Relationships - A Reflection on 2016As most of you probably know by now, I stopped contact with my mother in 2013, when I was pregnant with Burrito Baby. Although she’s tried to control the narrative, telling people that it was because she showed concern about my weight because of my pregnancy or that it was because I was being controlled by my Husband or that I was bipolar, none of these things are true and were constructed by her in order to make her look like the victim of the situation.

The facts are these: I was systematically groomed and sexually abused by a family member for several years of my childhood. The person in question was technically still a child himself (which, by the way, is NEVER a justification), but a lot older than me and certainly old enough to know that what he was doing was wrong. I never told anyone about this but my mother read about it in my diary when I was 13 and chose to ignore it. I was then forced to tell her about it when I got engaged to Husband because my whole family decided to attempt to bully me into inviting the person who abused me to my wedding.

In the years that passed after it came out, it was kept secret from certain family members and even those in receipt of the knowledge continued to maintain a relationship with my abuser. I’ve been questioned, accused of lying, treated like was the one in the wrong, told that it was “all too stressful” for my mother and that I was making a mountain out of a molehill. Being told that “I can’t congratulate you on your pregnancy because the last one was stressful for me” was the final nail in the coffin for my relationship with that woman.

I mourned the loss of our relationship for a long time, but not the loss of HER, just the loss of a mother in any form. I felt like I’d been robbed of the chance to have a decent mother/daughter relationship and I felt hugely resentful to other people who had close, nurturing relationships with their parents.

After a while, it occurred to me that my life was actually less stressful. I realised that I’d spent my ENTIRE LIFE being the butt of their jokes, being called nasty names, being taunted for being a “calamity” (which, incidentally, was as a result of meningococcal septicemia leaving me with gross motor function issues), having the mickey taken out of me for the way I walk, my weight, the way I held my bag, having my self-esteem chipped away bit by bit.

What it also made me realise is that relationships aren’t defined by blood. My husband, the one she’d accused of being controlling (seriously, can anyone who knows how much of a gobshite I am REALLY imagine me being controlled?!), has my back constantly and reacts with love and raw emotion when he thinks I’m being mistreated, something she never managed to do. I’ve forged friendships with people who GET me and who’ve been properly fucking loyal to me in a way that certain blood relatives have never been.

Let’s not forget my Dad. The man she worked SO hard to decimate in my eyes, to destroy our relationship beyond repair so that he’d never get a look in. He’s man enough to admit that he made mistakes in the past and hasn’t always been a perfect parent but he’s been there, properly been there for me when I’ve needed him. I hadn’t told him about the abuse until he read my Mother’s Day post this year and I heard his heart break when he called me to talk about it. I hate the fact that it’s hurt him but I wept when I heard how sad he was because FINALLY one of my parents had acted like they give a shit instead of trying to deflect blame and make it about them.

I’ve kept a dignified silence for SO long and not risen to the barrage of messages to both me and my friends and family, the “accidental” phone calls, the self-satisfying Facebook posts where she pretends to be the victim of MY cruelty (what a fucking joke…) and allowing her friends to call me names and question my character  but NO MORE.

This is my line in the sand.

So, this is my Happy New Year post. Happy New Year to my friends (the ones who cook me crumpets and watch girlie films with me and call my Facebook trolls a c*nt and offer me help when I need it and just generally have my back, as well as the ones who I never see but speak to on Facebook who tolerate my ramblings and political posts) and my family (the best in-laws I could ever ask for, the mums and sisters and aunts and uncles and beautiful nephews and cousins by marriage who’ve been my rocks for almost eleven years, but especially in 2016, as well as my Dad and Tracy, my baby brother who’s a foot taller than me, and Uncle and Aunt and Joe and everyone else who I love) but most of all to my Husband and our girls, my reasons for living and trying to be a better person. I love you all.

Turns out, I’ve got everyone I ever needed.

Family

Been Invited To A Wedding? Here’s Everything That You Need To Know About Being The Perfect Guest!

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to being invited to weddings, I always like to make sure that I am the best guest that I can be. I mean, it costs thousands to plan a wedding, with the happy couple having to pay extra for each guest that they invite, which means being invited to any wedding is a real privilege. So as a guest, I always like to ensure that I am aware of wedding guest etiquette and behave in the best way possible.

In case you’ve been invited along to a wedding but aren’t sure of what’s expected of you as a guest, I thought I would put together this handy guide. Have a read, take note, and implement the below advice.

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Be respectful of the bride and groom’s wishes

When you receive your invitation, pay attention to what it says. If your invitation only mentions you and doesn’t say ‘plus one’, then don’t bring a date. Unless you and your partner are married, living together, or engaged, then don’t expect to be able to bring them along. If they’re not mentioned on the invitation, that’s because they’re not invited, so don’t bring them along or ask the bride if you can – the bride and groom will only have a certain budget, and it’s important to understand that.

Make sure to pay attention to the dress code on the invitations and adhere to it. Whatever the bride and groom have chosen for their dress code, don’t question it, just dress in that style. Whatever you do, don’t wear white – this should go without saying, but you would be amazed at the amount of people that don’t adhere to this rule. It’s also a good idea to find out what colour and style of dresses the bridesmaids are wearing so that you can avoid wearing a similar outfit. The last thing you want is to look like you wanted to be a bridesmaid, so you dressed like one.

Pick the perfect wedding gift

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When it comes to choosing a gift for the happy couple, see what their invitations say. Many couples choose to start a registry list somewhere – if this is the case make sure to pick something suitable that is on the couple’s list. If they don’t have a list, you need to get creative. To find the perfect gift for your next wedding, take the time to have a browse online, get some ideas, and find something that’s unique and that you know the happy couple will appreciate.

Be on time

Turning up late to a wedding is incredibly rude, so it’s important to ensure that you are on time. Aim to arrive at the venue at least 30-minutes before the wedding ceremony is set to start, that way you have time to park your car, find a seat, and so on before the ceremony starts.

So there you have it, everything that you need to know about wedding ceremony etiquette. Take note of the tips above and you can ensure that you are the model guest.

Days Out

A Mum’s Guide To What To Do With Kids In London

Children and huge cities often doesn’t sound like the best and safest of combinations. A lot of people move out of places like London to the countryside in order to give their kids a different sort of life, but at the same time we shouldn’t forget that London actually provides a whole lot of culture and some incredible experiences for kids. Here’s what you should do to make your trip to London a great time for you and your kids…

Introduce Them To Some Culture

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Like most capital cities, London has a lot of history and culture – take your kids to a museum like the Transport Museum, or the Natural History Museum, which is next door to the Science Museum and one of London’s most popular attractions for children. Check out the changing of the guard, and go to the half price ticket booth in Leicester Square to splash out on some cheap theatre tickets for an incredible West End experience.

Treat Them In The Shops

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London has some of the most incredible shops in the world. Depending on how old your kids are, different things will interest them, but there will absolutely be something for everyone. Hamley’s on Regent Street is the biggest toy shop in the UK, so you could give each of your children a small amount to spend in there. If you have older kids, you could spend an incredible afternoon browsing in the Selfridges beauty hall and shoe department with your teenage daughter. Alternatively, Forbidden Planet is perfect for any teenage boy who loves graphic novels and superheroes.

Find A Child Friendly Restaurant

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Finding appropriate restaurants to take your kids to is one of the ultimate challenges of having a family. Sometimes you get it horribly wrong, and get evil-eyed glares from the other diners if you dare to take your child to their favourite restaurant, even if your offspring is behaving like an absolute angel. On the contrary, there are some restaurants where the staff won’t bat an eyelid if your grumpy, tired toddler starts to have a tantrum on the floor. London is full of both of these kinds of restaurants, but it’s probably best to either stick to a chain that you know like Pizza Express or Zizzi’s, or to check out a restaurant guide like the Gourmet Guide to find a place that suits you.

Keep Them Safe

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One of the top reasons that parents don’t take their kids to London is the issue of safety. In a city that big, it’s easy to feel a little intimidated by the prospect of staying safe. But the truth is that crime rates are down in London, so if you keep your wits about you, you should be safe, unless you’re very unlucky. Keep your bag close to your side in case of any pickpockets, and make sure that you hold your kids’ hands tightly when you’re moving down packed streets or venturing onto the tube. Do your best not to use public transport in the rush hour – it’s incredibly crowded and you might get a few glares from commuters!

 

Giveaway · Review

MUM’s Office Diary Review and Address Book Giveaway

You’d think, given the amount of time that I spend on my smartphone, that I would be using it’s calendar to its fullest potential, using it to organise the family, but regardless of what device I’m using I’ve just never really liked using a digital calendar. I think it’s because I like it all just there to see, on a page, in my own handwriting preferably. I’ve been looking for a paper diary for 2017 for a while now, something that I can use to keep track of the whole family but haven’t been able to find anything which has everything I need…until I discovered MUM’s Office!

This is the Mum’s Office MUMs Diary 2017, with a week-to-view on one page and a grid arrangement on the opposite page, allowing me to have a column for myself, Husband, Sausage and Burrito Baby. I chose the French Navy colour which comes with teal print inside, basically my two favourite colours, and it looks really stylish (something I am usually NOT!).

MUM's Office Diary 2017

What I love about this diary is that it has SO many little clever touches to make your life easier. There’s an elastic loop on the side to keep your pen attached (how many hours have I lost to spending time digging in my bag for a pen?!), there’s a cardboard pouch on the inside back cover for keeping slips, receipts and all the other annoying bits of paper which usually end up on my car floor, there’s a whole section for logging pocket money (the ex-accounts assistant in me finds this very appealing!) and it all just looks lovely. 

MUMs Office Diary 2017

Another part which is absolutely genius is the “In Case I Lose my Mobile” section, a whole area for writing phone numbers just in case your mobile phone goes walkies, as well as term planners, important info for you, your partner and your kids and even a section for planning travel. You might think that a diary containing this many pages would need to be huge, but it’s a really good, baggable size without being heavy or cumbersome. Honestly, I’m in love.

The lovely folk at MUMs Office also make address books and they’ve kindly given me one to give away to my lovely readers. All you need to do is fill in the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to win! I’ll draw the winner on Christmas Eve at 5pm and the prize will be sent out as soon as the postal service resumes.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Christmas

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas Gift StashI don’t know about you, but there have been Christmasses past where I’ve been well and truly caught out. Times when I’ve been convinced by the middle of December that I’m completely done with all of my Christmas shopping and that I have no more gifts left to buy, only to remember a whole bunch of people who I really should be buying for! Times like this are when a good gift stash comes in handy; a handful of generic gifts that you can buy and put away in case someone gets left out or turns up unexpectedly so that you’re never caught out. Here’s a list of five things that make perfect ‘gift stash’ buys:

Vouchers

Picking up a couple of gift vouchers for a department store is a really good idea as they can be given as gifts, or even spent by yourself in the January sales if it turns out you don’t actually need them. As long as you check the expiry on them, they could even be put away as birthday gifts for people throughout the year if you want to be super organised!

Scarves

If you choose the right colour, such as grey or black, a good quality cashmere or merino scarf will make a good gift for an adult of any gender and will be appreciated by anyone who receives it. Things like this never go out of fashion either, so could be put away for NEXT Christmas if it doesn’t get gifted this year.

Smellies

Smellies are another great non-perishable gift which can be kept around until they’re needed. Pick up a gift set for both male and female  (you might find a bargain with https://www.myfavouritevouchercodes.co.uk/debenhams-voucher-codes)  and you’ll be well and truly covered for unexpected gifting needs.

Board Games

Board games are loved by both young and old and are such a lovely gift to buy at Christmas because they encourage the family to spend time playing together. Classic games like Mousetrap and Monopoly never go out of favour and can be picked up pretty cheaply if you search out 3 for 2 deals or similar.

Preserves

If you’re the crafty type and you’re also handy in the kitchen then making some festive preserves a little earlier in the year and keeping them on stndby as last minute gifts could be a great idea. Foraging for local fruit and freezing it, and saving jars throughout the year could also mean that it’s a free or very cheap option and well-presented preserves make really pretty, thoughtful gifts which can be enjoyed over the festive holidays.

Do you keep a spare gift stash? What’s in your stash? I’d love to hear your ideas!