I had an urgent email to send tonight, it was a busy evening, supper to make, people in and out, small soul to feed and Granby to cheer up after a trying day.
Supper was one of those, ” if you eat one bean and a bit of fish then you can have an Aston Martin / ice cream / house in the country / pair of Manolo Blahniks you grown up” kind of meals, or rather it started out that way. She chewed the French beans, stuffing them in and then equally quickly pulling them out and rejected all the little potatoes she normally loves … then she spotted my plate and demanded a bit of my salmon (having thrown all hers on the floor), I gave her a piece, and then another piece, and suddenly she loved supper and ate all of mine. Which was OK, her need being greater and being a growing girl and all that.
Granby cheered up watching all my dinner (salmon with crayfish and cream sauce) being scoffed by Hope (yes I know, but someone gave me a tub of crayfish tails and I had no idea what to do with them), and then burst out laughing as I managed to knock over my small glass of wine (the end of the bottle) reaching over to mop cream sauce from Hope’s chin.
I felt a rare need to retreat. I picked up my phone and banished myself to the downstairs loo … one of the rare times I get a few moments of peace. I checked my emails, looked at the latest news and wrote my urgent missive. Then I heard something …
or more exactly, Granby singing.
She used to have a fabulous singing voice, then she had an operation on her neck and lovely though it is, her singing has never been quite the same. In fact, she doesn’t often sing at all, she gets embarrassed (which she shouldn’t, but she does).
“Jack and Jill went up the hill”
She sang it through and then Hope shouted, ” ‘gain, again Granby”, so she sang it again, and again and again and again. Then after about 20 renditions I heard another little voice, Hope, joining in, belting it out, shouting out the last word of each line with absolute delight. “Jill came tumbling AFTER”
“Mummy come ON … where are you?”
I stood up, a bit uncomfy with that I’ve been sitting on the loo for too long kind of feeling and headed out toward the kitchen.
“HURRY up Mumma hurry, SHOW YOU”.
I walked in and round the table and watched them and listened as I made a cup of tea, my mother and my girl. My love and my inspiration. Granby was telling Hope that a pail is a bucket and breaking your crown is like bumping your head. Hope was nodding sagely and repeating every word back, “bump di head … Jack sad?”
Then they sang it again, and again and again and I joined in. This kind of happiness is so joyful, I felt so very blessed, all the anxieties about money, life and work faded away. I have less in a financial sense than I’ve ever had at the moment, but I have more than I ever imagined possible in a real life sense, and standing in the kitchen wafting the tea bag around in my camomile tea, everything felt pretty much perfect.
Before I took her upstairs for her bath, I suggested Hope thank Granby for singing with her. She clambered up onto her grandmother’s lap, kissed her and said, “aaankyou Granby, love ooooo” and headed up to bed. She sang the song in the bath and kept breaking off from her night time milky breastfeeding frenzy (normally sacrosanct time) to sing her new party piece. She said goodnight to me and then just before she snuggled down, looked over and said, “Jack fell down, silly Jack” and giggled, “Hopey’s song, Granby teach it to Hopey … lovely”, and then she fell asleep. I went to turn Granby’s light off and check she was OK, but she’d already fallen asleep. I stood for a while watching her and kissed her and then I did the same with Hope.
I am so lucky.
I don’t often wear dresses … normally my wide and varied wardrobe consists of baggy trousers and loose tops, in the summer linen trousers and loose tops … I have lumpy bumpy knees and where other people have nicely turned ankles, I have sturdy calf muscles that seem to go all the way to my heels.
But … from time to time when I have a meeting or the sun is shining I can be seen out in a frock (I love that word) or a pair of shorts, today was a frock day.
It was sunny when I woke, I pottered about sorting Hope out for the day and then remembered I had a meeting. I couldn’t find any linen trousers that weren’t fashionably crumpled, so I was compelled to look further into the mountain of clothes waiting to be hung up / folded away. As I rummaged a brown dress fell out. I’d bought it back in January when I did the BBC TV programme but in the end chose another one which covered my knees better and toned down the breastfeedingly large ample bosom. I’ve lost a bit of weight since then (chasing a toddler around is the best weight reduction regime ever) and somehow in the sunshine it felt right to wear my new Noa Noa dress. I reminds me of something out of the movie ‘Land Girls’, kind of sandy brown with little flowers on, I have a new brown and sparkly pair of Fitflop flipflops (so comfy) that went nicely. I even put make up on.
Granby looked a little confused when I wafted down the stairs in a look-at-me-in-my-smart-going-to-a-meeting outfit and told me I had a label showing before carrying on with her toast.
I dropped Hope off with one of her incredible child minders and headed to my meeting at a wonderful local Italian coffee shop, the bloke behind the counter smiled at me and then did a double take when he realised the normally scruffy mummy looked a tad closer to yummy, and put a heart in the foam in the top of my latte.
Meeting happened, all good, came home, worked, worked, worked and then dashed to pick Hopey up.
I knocked on the door, pattering of small feet … door opened, “Yay Mummy”, my heart sang.
My friend the child minder looked me up and down somewhat suspiciously in a, “you don’t normally look like that” kind of a way and we stood and chatted about Hope’s day, bouncing on the “jumpoline”, playing with her friends and eating chicken and stuffing for lunch.
It was then, with the door still open onto the street behind me, that Hope suddenly ran over and hugged my legs. “Ohhhhh Mummy, legs”, she said knowingly, and she lifted up my dress all the way above her head and shouted, “Yay, Mummy’s knickers” really loudly as she revealed my great big old greying maternity pants to the world (don’t be judgemental, they’re really comfy).
Before I could push the dress back down she started pulling on the waistband of the knickers to try and climb up under my dress to reach the aforementioned breastfeedingly ample bosom for some milky, having been without for nearly 8 hours.
At that point her hand got caught in the front of the knicker elastic and her poor childminder only avoided seeing my very hirsute nether region by dint of the fact that she had turned to pick up Hope’s changing bag.
I yanked my dress down, pushed Hope away and hobbled, with my knickers on the brink of descending to my ankles, back to the car.
We got home and Hope ran in to greet her Grandmother shouting, “Mummy wearing knickers, funny Mummy” and chortling to herself. She came back to me, instructed me, in a very imperious voice, to go to “the room” (the sitting room) for “Hopey milky”, I meekly followed her instructions and we had a big cuddle and she enjoyed a snuggly warm milky feast. When I stood up afterwards she dived under my dress again and shouted, “Mummy bottom” with great glee.
The first thing I did tonight after she fell asleep was to find my swirly patterned baggy trousers for tomorrow. If I’m going to wear a dress again any time soon I need to buy some better under garb and visit a waxing emporium, just incase!
this morning we had a lie in. She woke up singing “Daisy Daisy”, and then read her ‘Acorn Story’ book, I got up and opened the curtains and the window, the sunshine and birdsong streamed in, I climbed back into bed and watched her reading …
she shut the book, “finished, Mummy, LOVELY day”, abseiled over from her cot, feasted on milky and then dozed off again curled up beside me.
I was awoken a little later by a rather unpleasant sensation. She was trying to push my nipple in.
“Milky hiding mummy”, she announced proudly having succeeded, and then got rather upset when she couldn’t manage to wriggle it out again with her small sharp pointy little finger.
I got rather upset too as I couldn’t manage it either. I suggested she tried to drink some milky, that didn’t work. We both sat up and squashed my breast about for about 15 minutes, and then, hurrah of hurrahs out it popped again to be gleefully pounced on by a thirsty small person.
A little later we pottered “outstairs” for porridge with Granby. “Sleep well Granby?”, Hope asked, “Yes thankyou,” Granby replied, “did you”.
Hope put her spoon down, looked a little perplexed and then said, “No Granby, Hopey lost milky, Hope sad, Mummy sad, Hopey push and Hopey FOUND IT”.
“I’m glad about that”, said Granby …
so am I!!!!
on trying to walk up the aerial runway slope in her sock feet.
As a writer (it still makes me beam when people call me that), I don’t have a campaign to support (specifically), or a major issue, so my blog is about me, about us, our journey and the things that inspire, annoy, amuse, sadden and thrill me.
Over the nearly three years I’ve been writing here at Mush Brained Ramblings I’ve been amazed by the response, the emails I’ve had from people saying that they persisted with trying to have a child having read the blog, followed by emails saying that they’ve had a baby, notes from people saying I’ve made them laugh or cry or reflect and each and every one moves me. I still take huge delight in the fact that anyone reads anything I write at all!!!
As a result of this blog I’ve appeared on the BBC (radio and TV), in the national press, and have written for websites around the world (including Older Mum and Cambridge News) and am now a regular contributor to Huffington Post and Mothering in the Middle.
Generally I speak and write about the issues I have faced as an older mother, and commentate on the way older mothers are portrayed in the media. I’ve also written about breastfeeding, tongue ties and solidarity amongst women.
Last year I was proud to be nominated and then shortlisted in the Inspire category in the Brilliance in Blogging awards, and nominated in the 2014 MAD blog awards.
The BiB nominations are open at the moment and close at midnight (UK time) on April 12th (in two days time)… I’d be honoured to be nominated again if you’d consider it … and spread the word!!
in the Writer, Laugh, Family, Inspire categories … if you think I’m funny, or a good writer, or reflect family life or have ever inspired you.
The blog name is:
Mush Brained Ramblings
The blog url is:
My twitter name is:
and beyond that you can choose any of my blog entries to illustrate your nomination.
You can nominate only once but in as many categories as you like.
Clearly there are many many other blogs out there who are worthy (and probably far more so than me) … my personal favourite for the Outstanding Blog is DownsSideUp … and I also love Mamasauraus and all she’s done with Team Honk and have wept over the personal challenges and sadness faced by Jennie at Edspire.
So … pour out a coffee or a glass of something and if you would, spare a few minutes to consider a nomination… and remember nominations close at midnight 12th April http://www.britmums.com/nominate2014/
Thank you so much, and for all your support, patience and comment along the way.
I was delighted to have been asked to contribute to Cyma Shapiro’s wonderful project Mothering in the Middle, and then last month she asked what my response was to the question,“Is Being a Mother the Most Defining Role a Woman Can Have?” She asked other writers, older parents all of them and the resulting piece is a great read.
I was also pleased as punch to be the first contribution featured…. this is what I wrote:
“For years I was on the outside looking in, watching friends juggling their time, wiping little noses and strapping small folk into car seats. I felt for them. sometimes, wondered if they felt they’d lost their sense of who they were – the marketing director, the linguistics expert, the party girl, the intrepid explorer, the physiotherapist. Some seemed to get low craving a previous existence, looking wistfully out over the tiny crockery piled high in the kitchen sink or chatting late at night about how they didn’t feel very “me” any more. Now, I’m part of the club, I’m one of them, only I feel that I’ve found the missing part of me, the piece that makes me truly ‘me.’
I’m a mother and I cherish, relish and grasp every moment. I want to shout it from the rooftops and leap for joy every time I hear the sound of little feet dashing down the corridor towards me. Every night time, “Mummy” warms my heart, whatever the time. I am me: Ellie, writer, researcher, marketer, Springsteen fan and most importantly and above all else, MOTHER. And it’s the absolute heart of who I am.”
Read the thought provoking collection of responses over on Mothering in the Middle.
Thanks to Cyma and hats off to all the women who contributed.
The media led furore around older mothers has reared its head again, with headlines inferring that the 50% rise in new mothers over the age of 50 was responsible for excessive pressure across the National Health Service. The percentage increase was huge but in real terms the number of women (in the UK) giving birth into their fifth decade went up to the massive total of 154. There is generally a rise in the number of births to older parents (35 and upwards).
I was one of the 1,600 women over 45 giving birth in the UK in 2012, so to that end I must put my hand up and take partial responsibility for the terrible burden we (growing band of) ‘midlife mothers’ put on society.
I’m often approached by the media about my experiences. What issues do I face which younger mothers might not? How does it feel to be an older mother?
My response is and has consistently been the same, that I am where I am, that I’m extremely blessed to be the mother of a wonderful, exuberant and thriving 2 year old and that (in common with mothers everywhere) I’m doing the best I can for my daughter to ensure she has a happy childhood, and a safe and secure future. I’m still breastfeeding her and we have an immensely supportive network of family and friends.
Sometimes that’s OK, but often I get prodded by the journalist looking for an angle, “How did you deal with the public’s negative view of older parents?”, “How have you dealt with the nasty comments people have made?”, “Did you feel judged by the medical profession?”, “Are people rude to you when you breastfeed in public?”, “You must have had a terribly difficult pregnancy?”, “Do you have low energy levels due to your age?”, “Do you struggle to cope with the pressures of parenthood now you are older?” “How do you feel about putting such pressure on the NHS?” “Do you think you’re selfish having a child in midlife?” and so on and so forth.
I’ve had words put into my mouth and angles that simply weren’t a part of our journey invented. I also pulled out of a piece because it stated that I was distraught about the abuse I received at the hands of the NHS (which was 100% untrue, they were wonderful).
The exaggerated mainstream media response to the supposedly widespread negative view of public breastfeeding (see previous piece highlighting that it seems the case that more mothers reported a hostile response to their bottle feeding than breastfeeding), also appears to be true as regards older mothers.
I was interviewed for a (very un age specific) piece on blogging and parenting for a well known Mother and baby magazine, again, it took time, and again, the piece didn’t appear, the embarrassed journalist emailed me to say that the magazine considered that I was too old for their audience. Which seemed shortsighted in light of the published demographic of their readership.
Last week, I was approached to write a piece for one of the broadsheets on being an older mother, and encouraged to make it controversial. My view was that there was no controversy. I took 5 precious hours (when I could have been doing a million and one other things), I wrote and submitted the piece. I was thanked for it, and then I was complimented on it and told it would appear the next day, I sent photos over to accompany the piece. It still hasn’t appeared, and the editor isn’t responding to emails.
A good news story wasn’t what was wanted. Which is a shame really, as a bit of good news never did anybody any harm and often inspires or helps others.
So, to that end and to set the record straight, and because lists seem to be as popular as selfies at the moment, here are my ten tips on what not to say to the news editor when you want your piece on being an older parent to appear in the national press.
1 – I haven’t experienced any unpleasant comments about being an older mother…
but I was once asked if I was ‘the nanny’.
2 – I had my daughter when I did because that’s just how it worked out…
I’d always imagined I’d have a child in my early 30s, it didn’t happen due to a huge number of factors including miscarriage and bereavement. Having a child later in life isn’t something most women plan on doing, and they have a huge number of reasons as to why they embark on the journey to motherhood when they do. I was extremely lucky to have been able to have my daughter.
3 – I’ve not found other mothers judgemental or unfriendly
Something incredible has been the way I’ve felt that having a baby has ‘given me’ other women, I’ve relished getting to know other mothers, and have made many friends. Ultimately we all share the same issues and insecurities concerning our journeys. One of the women I become closest to when I was in the States last year has a daughter the same age as mine, and is herself 30 years younger than I am, almost to the day. She’s been harshly judged for being a very young mother.
4 – I didn’t wait to have my daughter in my late 40s because of my high flying career
Ha ha ha ha ha! and see the answer to 2 and note that I am currently a hard working self employed mother of one. As to her future financial security I am doing all I can to ensure she’s taken care of should anything happen to me (just as the other younger mothers I’ve met are).
5 – I enjoy every day as a mother, and sure I get tired from time to time, but so do all mothers of toddlers
Last night she was awake from 4.30 – 7am chatting, she’s getting to the “Why?” stage. Today I’m tired … it’s part of being a mother, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Also I don’t understand why people find spending time with a child dull in any way… but maybe that is because I’m older. 20 years ago I probably would have had more of an urge to be out and about, and less patience for singing songs about Dingle Dangle Scarecrows, but as it is I revel in every second I have with her and have no compunction about running around, kicking balls, sliding down slides and playing with her.
6 – I had a straightforward pregnancy
The main issues I faced were to do with external factors such as tripping over, being involved in a taxi accident, being exposed to shingles and it was only at the end that my own health was affected. Compared to the complexities and health issues many mothers I’ve got to know experienced, we had a great pregnancy … not even swollen ankles and no gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. I kept fit and I took great care of my diet and avoided anything that could have been perceived as a risk to the pregnancy.
7- Nobody has ever said anything nasty to me about breastfeeding in public
Quite the opposite, I’ve been offered glasses of water, pieces of cake, comfy chairs and complimented for ‘sticking with it’.
8 – Medical staff were unfailingly supportive
They were pragmatic early on as to the higher levels of risk for an older woman and were kind, supportive and encouraging throughout the pregnancy and birth. At my follow up appointment my consultant asked if I was planning another pregnancy, I asked if she thought it a good idea and she said, “there’s no reason why not”. The midwives that nursed us after the taxi incident sent a card to celebrate my daughter’s christening and made time to come and visit us when she was born.
9 – I didn’t have a child to ensure that I am looked after in my old age
She may well end up living on the opposite side of the world, who knows, that’s entirely up to her. She has her own life to lead, she has an incredible network of friends, family and Godparents to ensure she is supported in all that she does, as do I.
10 – Every woman has her own story, her own issues and her own journey as regards motherhood.
So don’t be quick to judge or generalise. My own mother was herself an older mother, and the times she spends with my daughter and I now are some of the times I value most. Had things worked out differently I’d have had a child much younger, but I am an older mother, I love my daughter and will do all I can to give her best start in life and be there for as much of her journey as we have together.
So, there you have it, our good news; older mother has child and nobody bats an eyelid shocker!