I watched the latest royal wedding avidly. I don’t know about being a royalist or non-royal supporter but when it comes to a wedding video, I’m in. I didn’t realise how much I wanted to see it until the day it was on actually, I was transfixed.

It was a beautiful affair. The bride very demure and understated glamour, the groom waiting with his big brother who had gone before him. All very lovely. What I found most interesting was the focus on Meghan’s mum Doria after the wedding.

There was a lot of posts about how brave she was to sit alone and others about how she is fearless. It was as if the world suddenly got really snooty about how families work. I haven’t looked at the stats but I’m pretty sure there are a fair few of us who did not find it unusual at all.

wedding-alone

I realised my mum came to my wedding alone. There were no posts after about how amazing that was, I don’t think anyone really noticed. I didn’t even think about it. There were other members of my family at my wedding unlike at Meghan’s wedding. Perhaps that was why it was so brought up.

What I did notice was that her mum went in the car with her but then Meghan had to walk into the church alone to meet Prince Charles who was to walk her down the aisle. I wonder why her mum was moved out of shot at that point? I don’t know the answer.

It was as if Meghan’s family set up was being measured against a yard stick set by the royal family’s circumstances. But when you think about it, their family history of relationships is not exactly something to live up to. The Crown series I have been watching has painted Prince Phillip as a right cad and we know infidelity abounded during Charles and Diana’s marriage also.

However, I am not here to cast judgement. And I can appreciate those ‘warrior mom’ posts about Doria Ragland came from a place of respect and admiration. But really, it’s not such a huge thing. It is what it is. Some families have one parent, some people don’t have a lot of extended family. I bet  if you asked Meghan and her mum Doria they probably didn’t think anything of it either. They were probably both distracted with celebrating happiness.

single-mum-india

Mum and I on a beach in India

I really didn’t see Doria as a downtrodden poor old maid who had no strapping man to take care of her for the day, or alternatively as a militant feminist woman who never accepts help from anyone. I just saw a mum sitting in awe of that cathedral, looking on in love at her daughter getting wed.

Families come in all shapes and sizes, let’s not be so easily led to believe that one shape or size is the right one. As long as there is love, that’s all that matters.

 

If you liked this post you might enjoy this one about how women support each other.

Date Night – do you do it or do you think it’s overrated? It had been 2 years since me and my husband had been out on our own without the kids. If you’re a married maid like me I’m sure you can appreciate how rare a nice date night is. So, we booked a table and a babysitter and went out for a slap-up meal.

10 year wedding anniversary

In two months’ time I will have been married for 10 years. Like most people, we’ve been together longer, so it’s 13 years altogether. We used to go out a lot. We’d go to the cinema all the time, we even had monthly passes. We’d go out to eat together just if we fancied and with both of us working and just one cat to take care of it was easy to do. We went out with our friends every weekend. Things have changed on that front since having our children and it hit me a couple of weeks ago that it had actually been 2 years since we had been out together!

We went out to a local Italian restaurant. I had been there before with friends but Rich had never been. We knew it was within running distance of the house. It worked out well that we could walk there and back and both have a teensy drink too. I wanted to wear something nice and make a bit of an effort but it was cold and as my mum used to say ‘You can’t make a silk purse of a sow’s ear’ so I wore jeans as usual and just put extra eyeliner on.

That thong, th-thong, thong, thong

It was in the getting ready that my contemplation began about the term date night. It really was not like dating at all. It started in the daytime, making sure the baby didn’t nap too long. I started getting ready at 5pm so that I could do the baby’s bedtime. Instead of wine and music and thongs I struggled with a pair of spanx, which I’m now convinced are too small for me. Realising he could probably find my naked body in a line up with a blindfold on I realised the futility of the spanx and thought I’d rather enjoy my meal so took them off again. Already it was more like a scene off Bridget Jones than anything else.

When you’re dating you’re trying to get a measure of someone else. Trying to find a snapshot of that person’s life and seeing if you would fit well together sharing life. When you’ve been married for ten years you couldn’t know a person more. I would just feel like a twat trying to do flirty conversation with Rich, he’d look at me stupid. Also there’s nothing I can ask him about himself that I don’t already know. I could chart out this man’s bowel movements. I know he likes football, I know he’s kind and caring. We’ve spent the last 13 years side by side. I know what he’s capable of. Equally, he can tell if I think the person two tables over is being too loud, if I don’t like the food or I’m trying to stifle a laugh at someone who just tripped over. More than this, I can’t hide from him if I am bored out of my wits with the conversation!

A shared sense of humour

Luckily for me, I married good and this fella makes me laugh so much (when we get chance to actually finish a sentence or two between us). We had a nice time and after -I must admit- an initial sort of ‘oh shit what am I going to say’ when I realised I had no fall backs, I relaxed into it and enjoyed myself.

We were only out for two and a half hours, and as I’m sure is quite normal we had one of two little beings still awake when we got home but it was totally worth it and it definitely filled up my cup. Walking home I thought I would rephrase ‘Date Night’ to ‘Keeping in Touch night’ and he was already talking about planning the next one so I can’t have been too boring either!

Date Night

 

If you liked this post, you might like to read one I wrote about how me and Rich work as a team even though I’m a SAHM.

YouTube is currently right in the middle of a huge clean-up operation. Family channels showing kids are being closely scrutinised and a lot of them de-monetised as a result. Big channels with hundreds of thousands of subscribers haven’t even escaped the net. It seems YouTube are not discriminating at all (I feel like staff are anonymously reviewing videos without being allowed to see that channel’s stats but that’s a hunch of mine) and no channel big or small is escaping the net. The things is that the net is very, very, wide and videos are being banned for much less than you might think. A child crying or being shown to be in distress for example. Most of the creators I’ve seen are incredulous as to why their channel would have been affected. A few of them I knew right away that I had seen videos of theirs that were not quite right.

On my personal blog, I had to think long and hard about what my rules were going to be before starting it. I felt like I was very careful about what I post about my children. I don’t use their real names for instance; this is in hopes that anything I write about them may not be easily found in a search of their names. I don’t post photos of them in the bath, or publicly shame them about things. These are the rules I have tried to think about when sharing our lives with an audience of unknown people. The new guidelines for vids on YouTube has really got me thinking, at what point does it all become exploitative? Is it below a certain age, or as long as you are not making money from your content? For me, I’ve drawn the line at wanting views.

Social Media ViewsMy blog started out of a desire to be identified and feel a belonging. When I found the online blogging community I became completely engrossed in it. Here were a plethora of other women living similar lives to me, hundreds and hundreds of them in fact. The details differ, working mums, older kids, larger families etc. but essentially similar lives and life stages. Everyone posting, writing and commenting and supporting each other in sharing their stories; I jumped right in feet first. I still really love being a part of the blogging community. A few posts scrolled past my eyes about whether to share pics of your kids or not. I read them, well balanced pieces, didn’t feel too offended and moved on. Deep down though, I knew they had struck a chord.

 

Earlier this year I read a brilliantly brave post by another blogger about her experience of the sourer side of the mummy blogging world when she attended a very well-known blogging conference. As I had suspected anyway, it highlighted to me that there definitely is a dog-eat-dog side of things. We all want to be successful bloggers but this was another moment where I thought about how our blogs are our businesses and whether or not our children should really be included as part of that.

I didn’t feel as if I was specifically posting vids and pics of my children to gain views. They are on the videos and my Instagram but as the biggest part of my life that is inevitable. My blog is all about being a stay at home mum! I thought their images were a part of the bigger picture, a picture which fundamentally is about my life as a mum.

There are many blogger/vloggers I really admire who show lots of beautiful photos of their kids. One in particular captures the bond between her oldest girls so wonderfully and I’m not sure that would be possible if it weren’t for showing pictures of them. Another huge blogger shows pictures of her and her children that make us all feel like our bad days are normal. I can see why our kids are such a big part of this thing called blogging but my barrier ‘go no further’ sign smacked me in the face. It was the simple realisation of how obsessed I have become with viewer numbers.

I’ve never posted anything of them to get views, it’s always from a standpoint of a shared experience. For example, I joined in with the snow pictures this week posting a lovely video of Beg being excited, but then did I check my views? Absolutely! So then, I am hoping people watch or like off the back of my kids just doing their general normal lives and that is not my decision to make, it should be theirs. I do not own their image. I want to share my kids’ life and I want to feel a part of something but I want it to be their informed consent and not just mine. And I say informed consent because my 7 yr old loves being on YouTube, she used to film clips on her dad’s old phone pretending she had a YouTube channel for months before I set her up with her own channel. But she is still so little, and has no idea how public or how far those videos can get. I have been super strict with her channel carefully editing and not promoting at all but is it enough?

 

There is a new generation coming up who are obsessed with YouTube. They are watching creators on there more than TV or films. There are huge changes afoot in media production and design that when these kids are older it will be the norm to have your own channel.

For now though, I am choosing to change the way I do things and I am excited about it. For my channels and blog, it means some changes of content until the kids are older at least and decide for themselves. There will no doubt be a few weeks of almost posting pics of them that came out really good and squirming that I can’t share them. There will be less liking other similar accounts in the hope they like mine; and for me, a slap in the face about how futile the time has been spent ‘building a following’. There is a release of the need for outside recognition and endorsement and a freedom to enjoy writing my blog or edit family videos for my own gratification and nobody else’s. And giant massive long blog posts like this one, apparently!

It’s really not a case of this opinion being a more enlightened one. It is just that; an opinion. We are each made up of our experiences and my way of reframing my thinking on this may be linked to my life experiences. Your views will be linked to yours. Every life is different, every child is different, every set of circumstances is different and I respect that and this post is not meant to make you feel guilty or wrong. I’m writing this post because I read others like it and they struck a chord with me and I think that chord has been twanging away in the background since. Just a different perspective.

Here are a couple of my peers’ awesome blogs that don’t show images of their kids faces if you want to have a look:

Cardiff Mummy Says

Beyond the playground

 

 

 

Except the days when it’s not and I feel more like staff. The tired list of tasks on replay in my mind. Planning to spend time with my daughter when the baby naps. Wondering when the best time will be today to have a shower. Not speaking to another adult for an entire day. Being a stay at home mum should be easy, but sometimes it’s just hard.

Everything’s Fine.

Ask me how I am and I will say good, because things are good. My husband goes to work every day to a job he enjoys, he earns a good wage and I quit work 7 years ago to stay home and raise our kids. Together we’ve made a nice home, we have nice friends, we go to church every Sunday as a family. There is nothing ‘wrong’. I will tell you things are good because they are, and because I can’t quite put my finger on what isn’t.

 

 

Everything's Rosy, Thanks!

 

Homeschooling my 7yr old and caring for my 15month old baby means my days are busy and filled with the over-riding sense that not one of us is quite getting their needs fully met. If I’m singing with the baby my 7yr/o is watching YouTube. When I’m teaching my daughter, the baby is pulling my trouser leg for attention. When I’m cooking or cleaning, they’re both watching Peppa Pig. If there is any pause in the day I can guarantee it is some kind of meal time. Meals which take me time to make (and I hate cooking) then battle with my daughter to eat and at the end throw most of the food away anyway.

Feeling Valued

My list of tasks -usual stuff like laundry- conflicts with the real reason I’m home which is to spend time nurturing my kids. Chiding myself that I even want to waste time on the house while simultaneously feeling the most accomplished I have all week when it’s mess-free. Feeling resentful that such menial tasks are my only way of feeling valued. Breastfeeding a toddler to sleep whilst typing one handed.

Things are good, overall. But sometimes the day-to-day can get me down. It goes without saying that I am so grateful for my family. I thank God for them every day, lots and lots of times a day.

I don’t have much to moan about when my life’s biggest stressor is whether or not to brave the supermarket with two kids in tow. But I seem to have managed it anyway! There are much bigger things to worry about but sometimes it’s just harder than it looks from the outside looking in. I can kindly give myself the grace to say that is OK, and you can too.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

I’ve been thinking about taking my little boy for his first hair cut. It’s one of the ‘firsts’ parents talk about and write in memory books. Beb is 15 months old and he’s still got that fluffy baby hair (I love it!) but it’s long enough that I find I’m side swiping it across his forehead to get it out of the way. I feel a bit unsure about getting his hair cut though and it was this feeling that got me thinking about children’s hair cuts in general.

Little Boys with Long Hair

Hanging around in the home ed community a lot lately, I have noticed a lot of the boys have long hair. Not long-ish, or grunge-y type long, but waist-long flowing golden locks. I’ve met so many boys with the same hairstyle I began to wonder if it is a home-ed thing? And if it is, then why? Why long and not blue or spiky or anything else?

Should You Cut Your Baby's Hair?

I like sharing pics of the back of his head on Insta.

I started thinking about Beb’s hair and when I should get it cut. The word should was what struck me. ‘Should’ according to what? Well-meaning advice? The infamous red book? I decided just as soon as it got a bit long I would take him for his first hair cut. He’s going to hate it. I just know. Then like a bolt from the blue it clicked into place. Maybe the mums of the boys I have met being the awesome thinking outside of the box type people they are, have chosen to disregard the unwritten rule book of children’s hair cuts. And maybe there are some very good reasons they have.

Rights and Decisions

Perhaps it’s more than just a hairstyle. Perhaps the thinking behind it is to enable their children make decisions about their own appearance and not enforce perceived norms upon them in the meanwhile. I mean, who decides boys or men have to have short hair? Do I have the right to decide for my child how he will look, or what is the ‘right’ way for him to look?

I know this thinking will probably face some criticism, after all I choose his clothes everyday for him and so forth. I do make a lot of decisions for him and on his behalf, some of which he is generally unhappy about (nappy changes spring to mind). But while he is busy being a baby and later, a child playing or running around a park, not thinking about his hair or other people’s opinions of his hair, would it hurt for me to wait a while and let him make his own decisions about his appearance? Is his first haircut setting me on an oblivious path of only being able to consider my child’s autonomy when it suits me?  It’s such a minor thing, hair. I wonder if leaving his hair to grow out until he wants to make his own decision on it allows a stronger message to reach my kids about making our own personal choices.

Should You Cut Your Baby's hair

Another picture of the back of his head.

Prejudices

Maybe these Mamma’s have gone before me and reached the same fork in the road and have considered their actions the same way I am. Isn’t that always a comforting thought to remember people have walked the same path before you?

A simple haircut that seems a small thing has thrown up a chance to consider my parenting, and to help my children navigate their way through society’s pre-set ideas about how they ‘should’ look. I had a real a-ha moment there in my kitchen thinking about kids with long hair. Suddenly I had even more respect for the women and families who are encouraging their kids to be who they are by actions and thoughts as well as words. What an amazing gift to their children.

As a famous company strap-line says, ‘There’s more to life than hair, but it’s a good place to start.’ I’m glad Beb’s first hair cut got me thinking about these things. I still even after this soul searching will more than likely take Beb for his first hair-cut. What can I say, I’m not strong enough to confront society’s prejudices so openly quite yet? Maybe that’s another blog post.