(Today’s Author is Lou from MWM Kingsteignton)
Like many children growing up in the 1980’s and 1990’s, I was lucky enough to be introduced to the marvellous writing and storytelling of Roald Dahl. Together with the distinctive illustrations by Quentin Blake, Dahl’s stories were a huge source of enjoyment. My Gran would purchase my sister and I each new novel as they were released and we loved to hear about his character’s wild adventures or struggles with adversity. That dear lady would often begin to nod off during particularly early morning reading sessions, instigated by us when she was staying in our house, the poor thing still in her nightie sitting up in bed. We’d gently poke her and encourage her to keep going, there was no sympathy in our young minds in our quest to hear the next part of the stories! She was stoic and kind hearted enough to carry on as I’m sure she enjoyed sharing the tales too.
I’ve recently been reminded of these early memories by coming across a copy of ‘Roald Dahl’s Guide to Railway Safety’ (bear with me) which was published in 1991, and is rather wonderfully informative whilst being entertaining and beautifully illustrated by Blake just like his novels. One particular passage really made me smile. It reads:-
“When you are born you are an uncivilised little savage with bad habits and no manners…it is the job of the GIANTS (your parents and your teachers) to train you”
Dahl’s words really rung true with me and with the challenges I’ve recently been dealing with my pair of feral beasts. Some days are a constant battle of wills and I have to remind myself that it’s an important and necessary job that I do, although some days it is a rather soul destroying one.
I’ve never before had a job where I’ve experienced outright abuse, both physical and verbal! Generally it’s over the simplest of requests, like ‘please put your shoes on’ or ‘please wash your hands, it’s time for dinner’. Bath times are a common battleground with the added danger to me of a thorough wetting, as is getting my littlest to stay in bed, to give herself the chance to go to sleep and not potter into her brother’s room ready to play at 8pm in the evening. It’s an obvious time of day for conflict I suppose, they are tired, I’m tired and hungry and ready for a little piece of quiet and respite, having been ‘on duty’ all day. Tempers are frayed and patience for silly-buggers and ‘extending out the playtime’ shenanigans soon runs thin. I suppose that’s one reason gin was invented… A parent’s prerogative after a tricky day – celebrate getting through the routine and surviving to tell the tale with your sanity intact!
It’s at the end of the occasional really tough day that I find myself wondering what happened to the old me, the me prior to children, the adult but not yet a ‘Mummy’ me. Honestly, and to be quite frank, in many respects she doesn’t exist any more. When I think back to what I was doing ten years ago, it’s like someone else’s life. When we moved to Devon in 2006, shortly before getting married and purchasing our first home, I worked as a cabinet maker. This was a career I’d worked extremely hard to establish, cutting short my first (ill-chosen) degree path (accounting and business law) to follow my heart and complete an HND Furniture Studies instead. After I graduated I worked for a variety of businesses, from playground manufacturers, bespoke kitchen makers, bespoke furniture makers and teak boat decking manufactures. It was a career I loved, but it was not without its own challenges and struggles and worries, especially being one of the very few women in that line of work.
It’s on those days when being a Mummy has been particularly tricky or challenging when I do begin to reflect on the sacrifices I’ve made in order to become a Mum. When my husband and I decided we’d very much like to start a family, my personal sacrifices began prior to us even attempting to conceive a baby. I was then doing a very manual job, working sometimes with dangerous chemicals and all the other associated hazards that a wood-workshop environment entails. It was certainly not the ideal working environment for a pregnant lady! So, just like a proverbial caterpillar hungry for that next stage in my life, I morphed into a butterfly, retraining as a Computer Aided Design technician and found employment first with a firm of Architects and later with a Joinery company creating working drawings and designs for fitting out homes and shops. So far, so good. I was lucky enough to have found a second career path that was associated with the furniture making that I loved and was now in a position to consider becoming pregnant.
Then came the shock of not being able to conceive. After everything I’d sacrificed thus far, it was a doubly frustrating situation. After nearly four years of trying and with some medical help we were lucky enough to be able to welcome into the world our beautiful baby boy and his delightful, mischievous little sister followed two years later.
So now when I reflect on the previous me I do so with some fondness – she had no idea what the future would hold and built up a set of life skills that have enabled her to be flexible and develop a new life that works well around the needs of our young family. The me that now exists is stronger and more fulfilled than the pre-children me, I have a better sense of perspective and I am now lucky enough to use my passions for music to help support my family. The singing I do in my Music with Mummy classes is as beneficial to me as it is to the little ones and their carers that enjoy it with me. I often recognise that some of my happiest moments of my week occur during my classes.
I am kept busy guiding and moulding my pair of ‘savages’, and however much they may resist my efforts some days, I expect to be able to look back at their childhoods with pride – ‘I was there to help them develop and look at what they have become’, and I managed to stay sane! Then with a bit of luck, they will return the favour and help me in my old age. Thankfully, that’s still some way off 😊
Lou x x x