Unashamed

‘You know the stretch marks on your arm are visible in this picture?’ I’m sure he meant well. I anticipated the sharp comeback drenched in bile that I would throw his way in response. But it never came. Instead, I said “Yeah, it’s actually very important if those are visible” throwing my arm out and putting said stretch marks in their best light, giving them their moment.

When Yvonne asked me to contribute to her blog, I knew right away that it was a yes. Her unique energy and drive are just what I need on my Instagram feed. Add in the fact that she is killing it in the accidental entrepreneur arena and an outspoken Nigerian woman, I was always sold. So when she sent me her UNASHAMED slogan necklace, it really unearthed some feelings in me.

UnashamedTo be honest, I think I’m surface level body positive. Halfway putting my flaws out there because I honestly love women, in all their shapes and sizes but have not yet come to terms with my expanding body. I am two stone heavier than when I was pregnant. And my body has begun to tell me that. No stranger to stretch marks (I became acquainted with my first when I was 10) I’ve accepted them willingly. Willingly because subconsciously, they’ve never been in places that people have to see. But on my arms? That can really play with a girls head.

I need my arms. I need them out of doors on a sticky summer’s day. I need to be able to wear a sleeveless gown Viola Davis style and feel empowered. I need to feel like no one is like ‘Woah, she gained hella weight, just look at her arms’ So over the past six months, I’ve been toying with ways to work these new stretch marks into my wardrobe. Where I would once work out in vests, my exercise gear now must have sleeves. I’m imagining Chanel style dinner jackets on top of flirty summer dresses. I’m trying to find a way to work my new friends and not let them work me.As per every other woman, body image issues started early. I’ve played with eating disorders but never been strong nor perps weak enough to succumb to the eternal grip of restricting food portions or relieving myself post binge. A true brick house, I developed in a waif Moss world, where anything above a size 8 was dutifully talked about amongst my large bottomed female family members. Then the Kim K effect happened (much to my dismay but this is not a post about cultural appropriation – follow my Instagram for fleeting monologues regarding that mess) and all of a sudden the figure I was naturally blessed with came into the spotlight.

But when it came to taking these pictures, with this UNASHAMED necklace bestowed upon my bare, dark marked, mole decorated skin, I felt like I would be the complete opposite of unashamed if I even dare airbrushed the stretch marks out. They are not just a sign of physical growth, but mental growth also. And it is my true belief that I will only graduate once I accept them. Because they are like tattoos. They may fade and morph with you but they will always be there. So how dare I talk about body positivity or continue to encourage women to embrace their bodies in its current state if I’m letting some stretch marks ruin my current mental state. No more of that. Get ready for some Michelle Obama arm realness this summer cause I’m a coming, without a jacket in sight.

Candice Brathwaite is a mother of one, a vlogger and the founder of cake by Candie.She also blogs candicebrathwaite.com, Her Instagram page is here.

10 reasons why I don’t feel mum guilt

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At the beginning of my motherhood journey, I felt guilty about a lot of stuff mums feel guilty about. I felt guilty spending money that John earned. It was not John that made me feel guilty. I made me feel guilty.

But, my guilt did not hang around for long. I sent it packing. And since then, she hasn’t returned. She vamoosed when I started seeing myself as a manager of our home. And as a manager, I deserved to be paid for my good work.

These are some of the other bits of motherhood I don’t feel guilty about anymore.

  • Not volunteering to help with reading in my children’s school. I have done my share of volunteering already. Right now, I don’t have the time and the school won’t collapse without my help.

 

  • I don’t like shouting at my kids but sometimes I do. Feeling guilty about it won’t help. What will help is to apologise and work on a technique to help me not lose control.

 

  • I have refused to feel guilty about having a hobby I enjoy. Or even feel guilty about the thrill I feel setting up my own business. I need a life away from motherhood.When I did not have something of my own, I remember I was always angry.

 

  • When I have some work to do, I let my children watch TV or play on their tablets. It has not damaged them in any way. They are sociable, they are fit and they are thriving in all aspects.

 

  • When I am exercising and my daughters interrupt, and without feeling any guilt, I tell them to leave me alone. They are only allowed to interrupt if someone has died or the house is burning down. Until then, they’ll have to wait or talk to their papa. It is good for children to learn to wait.

 

  • I don’t feel guilty about chucking out their toys. Or taking noisy toys away from them. Or even throwing out some artwork that is not good enough to go on my wall. In the past, I have been caught – I apologise, take the art out but when they are not looking, throw it away again.

 

  • Telling my daughter the truth about a so-called friend who is not treating her right. I tell her to either put up with it or dump the friend.

 

  • When my daughters are stressing me, I don’t feel guilty telling them that stress is the number one killer of women. This fact makes them stop whatever they are doing.

 

  • Bribing my daughters to read books.

 

  • Refusing to buy them the ‘in thing’. They don’t need to follow the crowd. The crowd should follow them.

Yvonne

25 things I wish I knew before I had kids

Flowers (3 of 4)

Photos by Yvonne Telford

These are the things I wish I knew before becoming a mum.

  1. My relationship with my husband will change. It will need attention.
  2. I’ll be an emotional mess. I’ll cry when I am happy, I’ll cry when I am sad… I’ll just cry.
  3. Baby blues is very real. Looking back now, I suffered from it but did not know at the time.
  4. My body will never be the same again.
  5. I would have less sex.
  6. I’ll change careers.
  7. No matter what choice I make, guilt knocks on my door.
  8. That having kids would enhance all of my insecurities.
  9. It is easy for me to pass my insecurities on to my daughters without even trying or knowing.
  10. I wish I knew how to worry less – if something was really wrong, I’d definitely know.
  11. In the early days, I’ll be tired, sleep deprived, and angry (which means I’ll argue unnecessarily with my husband).
  12. Expensive baby grows are a waste of money. Nappies do leak and babies outgrow them pretty fast.
  13. Not to have bothered with a birth plan. I had a C-section.
  14. I wish I knew that having a C-section would make me feel like a failure (but shouldn’t have).
  15. Competing with and judging other mums is pointless. We are all trying to be good enough mums.
  16. Parenting is hard work; it does not need perfection and I’ll make mistakes.
  17. My instincts are always right.
  18. For the rest of my life, I am responsible for two humans beings.
  19. My love for my kids would grow every day. But it is not every day I’ll be happy with them.
  20. Never to compare my kids to your kids.
  21. It is not my duty to change them into what I’d like them to be. They are enough just the way they are.
  22. All children have their path. They learn differently and at a different rate.
  23. I wish I knew that my daughters won’t care much for stuff, all they want is my love and for me to be their biggest champion.
  24. No matter what I do as a parent, they’ll be one person praising me and the other criticising me.
  25. My brain will never be the same again.

Yvonne xxx

What we do not say about motherhood

This post might not be very Christmassy, but it’s something I’ve been musing over. I’d like to start a conversation about the trade-off of motherhood… what we do not say about motherhood.

On Saturday, my husband John and my daughters travelled to the Midlands to visit some relatives. I did not go which meant… no kids, no husband – and I absolutely loved it. After doing some work, the rest of the time was used watching movies, falling asleep, more movies on Netflix and more sleep. I haven’t had this kind of time to myself in years and God knows I needed and deserved it. We all need such time to ourselves to recover don’t we?

Saying I needed time to myself and saying I loved the time spent away from my daughters and husband makes me feel guilty. I feel it is something a mother should never admit to… somewhat a taboo. A mothers is expected to always love the company of her child, but is this reality? I love my daughters and my husband; they are great company… but truthfully? Sometimes, I need some time to myself. Taking this time out for me means I can recover and be the happy mum and wife they deserve.

I recently attended a Mumsnet Blogging event, where to the horror of over 1,000 mums I admitted that a few years into my stint as a stay-at-home-mum I hated it. Staying at home is something that society expects me to be grateful for. For some women this is their calling, but for me it wasn’t. Is it not better for a mum to go back to work with good childcare in place instead of fucking her kids up because she hates being a stay-at-home-mum? Let’s remember,it’s not all of us that have this calling.

There are so many taboos out there surrounding parenthood. We are expected to fall in love with our baby as soon as she is born. This is not true for all women… it wasn’t the case for me.  First, my pregnancy did not go well so instead of me enjoying the baby kicking, I was worrying that the baby was not kicking. Also, the birth of my first daughter was bad and I ended up having a C-section. Plus, I came down with a bad infection after the C-section which meant it took me a little bit of time to fall in love with my baby. And honestly, when she was first placed in my arms, I was high on morphine. I can’t pinpoint exactly when I fell in love with my daughters, but I did. And it is not when I fell in love that matters, but that I’m in love.

Having children means my average happiness has gone down… another thing we are not supposed to talk about. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, the fact remains that taking on the emotional, physical and mental responsibilities of another human being results in more stress, which has a direct impact of our happiness. What it means in my case is there is always something that needs doing or worrying about. If it’s not school work, then it’s that patch on her skin that needs seeing to by the doctor or the swimming lessons that need paying for, etc. etc.

Finally, motherhood kills our sex lives. We are told that if we are not having sex a few times a week with our other half, our marriage is in trouble. This may be the fact but my take on this is, it is very hard for one person to take on so many roles. It’s hard being a mum, a wife, a lover, a friend, and a soul mate. For most mums like me, some titles had to be relinquished, and the easiest is the lover part. This role is the easiest to give up since most mums are too tired to feel sexy. Especially those mums who have come to resent their husbands or partners for not helping enough around the house or with childcare. Why would you want to have sex with someone you resent?

Motherhood is marvellous, I love it and most women do. My daughters have brought so much joy to John and me. But, we must also talk about the trade-offs of motherhood.

What do you think? Or should I be asking what your compromises are?

Yvonne xxx

Mami 2 Five
#blogfest15

Lessons from from Blogfest 2015

#blogfest15

Last Saturday, I went to an event for bloggers called Blogfest – held at the Guardian offices, King’s Cross, London. #Blogfest15 was organised by Mumsnet. The event was packed with amazing and inspiring speakers discussing how bloggers can take their sharp writing and big ideas to the next level.

The highlight of the day for me was listening to a panel discuss how creativity can sometimes be enhanced when a woman becomes a mother. Sitting on the panel were Bryony Gordon (Telegraph), Margaret Attwood (Author), Meera Syal CBE (writer) Bridget Christie (stand-up comedian and writer), Polly Vernon (features writer, interviewer and columnist) and Catherine Mann (blogger at Head in Book).Each panellist discussed how their creativity changed after becoming mothers.

They also talked about how they juggle work and family life. The secrets to these are, 1) having a supportive partner, and 2) having very good childcare.

These are the lessons I took away with me from this marvelous event;

Stop feeling guilty

For the mothers who have decided to go back to work, stop feeling guilty. Your children are there to enrich your life and creativity – not to enslave you with Mothers’ guilt.

Don’t be too thankful

I loved it when Bridget Christie said that women should stop being so damn grateful when their husbands or partners help with the housework or the children. They are their children too, after all.

Get good childcare

Meera Syal said good childcare has made her life easier. Her advice to women who decide to go back to work is, get good childcare – it makes life easier.

Always be authentic when writing

Awarding-winning Journalist, Robert Crampton said the secret to writing is authenticity. Readers can smell lies from afar.

Never make a family member you are writing about look bad

This is the most important rule-of-thumb when writing publicly about your private life. Additional advice linked to this is- when your children get to the age where they get embarrassed about some topics; always ask them for permission before writing about them.

Don’t publish an article that you may regret later

Shappi Khorsandi told us about an article that she once wrote for GQ Magazine that still haunts her. She advised that when we are in an emotionally bad place, we must always wait for the emotional pain to subside before publishing an article. Once an article has been published on the internet, it’s there for ever.

Your brand matters. The panel discussion on how to win at brand relationship said, when asked to promote a product that goes against what you or your brand stands for, be bold enough to say NO. And don’t be greedy.

My favourite advice of the day was from writer and journalist Lucy Cavendish. Fi Glover (TV and Radio Presenter) asked the panel to each give advice to members of the audience. Lucy said, Never lie to your kids – always tell them the truth. 

Click for more info on the speakers at #Blogfest

Yvonne xxx

Monika Buglear

My Life – Monika Buglear

Monika Buglear, a creative soul and mother-of-two, on motherhood, boy bands, and going back to work…

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What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? If the children wake up before me, then we all cuddle up and love to talk about our dreams (as we do love to meet up in our dreams and go to crazy places… like our favourite place, (Candy Land). Otherwise, a coffee whilst checking on messages, emails and social media.

What is your daily ritual like? Since both my children are at school, I feel like my life revolves round school drop offs and pick ups. It’s been hectic since I started college and doing a part time job – my afternoons aside from homework and cooking dinner, are always spent with the children. We love to read books, cuddle up, play or bake.

What is your favourite food? I love my food and love cooking too! Nothing beats my mum’s chicken noodle soup and my husband’s Sunday roast.

Do you have a pet name for your husband? I used to call him Pupak …it’s a term of endearment in Hungarian. Now he has a variety of names from honey to daddy or just simply his name Kris.

What is the coolest thing about you? It’s hard to say; probably my family and friends could give you an answer to that. It’s  probably my outlook on life. I’m quite an easy going, genuine person and love to have a good laugh no matter what life throws at you.

The favourite place you have ever visited? Years ago we went to Rome. I loved it so much I wanted to move there. The history of the place and all that beautiful architecture. But I equally loved the Maldives too and as I recall it, I wanted to move there too.

What is the coolest thing about being a mum? The unconditional love kids can give. The way they look at you, kiss you and hug you. The way they never judge and they are so much fun. I love how they can wrap you up in their happy little bubble… I love to feel their love.

What is the one talent you wished you had? I wish I could play on the piano… I wanted to learn since I was very little and somehow never had the time. But I guess it’s never too late…

What is your favourite music of all time? What music I like depends much on the mood I am in. It can vary from Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder to James Morrison via Pearl Jam and a bit of cheese… anything with a good beat and with soul in it.

What is your favourite band of all time? It’s a well-known fact among my family and friends that I was a big
boy band fans… New Kids on the Block. (Yep that was me!) However, my taste in music has since improved, even though my husband would slightly disagree. It took most of my teenage years to get over them and my unfilled love for a certain member. When they re-united some years ago, we went to see them with my sister and oh my… it was AMAZING. I have never seen so many middle-aged women screaming. Time travelling at its best.

What is the book that made a difference to your life? Again, I have to refer to my teenage years. When I was 16, I read Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, etc. My forever romantic came over me and I suddenly fell in love with England. I became pretty obsessed, and I just knew I had to go and see England myself. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine marrying a Brit and living my happily-ever-after here.

What do you still have from your childhood? A stuffed toy dog called Buksi. I’ve had it since I was 8 years old – bought it with my own pocket money – we’ve had some amazing adventures together. Now, Buski is happily sitting on my daughter’s bed.

What is your favourite colour? Blue. Mostly dark blue and recently mustard.

Who is your fashion Icon? My fashion icon is a cross between Coco Chanel and Bridget Bardot. Love a French girl’s style.

What does motherhood mean to you? It stretches your heart in a way that I never thought was possible. It also means giving up the biggest piece of cake and being just completely happy with that.

What is the lesson your kids have taught you? Apart from patience, and the ability to survive on 4 hours sleep, it’s the love. The unconditional love.

What movie made you cry the most? This is hard, as I cry about anything and everything. There are quite a few, but My Sister’s Keeper and Stepmom really did hit home.

What is the best advice you have ever been given? Never give up and keep smiling.

What advice would you give your 14 year old self? I would give myself a big hug, squeeze my little spotty face and say, “Don’t worry so much about what people think of you and be brave to talk.”

What is the one rule you ignore? I think deep inside I am a bit of a rebel and would love to ignore rules. But I am never brave enough to do so.

What is the one rule your kids ignore? Jumping up and down on their beds. As much as I want to join in the fun but for the beds sake, we have to say no but they still keep doing it.

Do you believe in freewill or destiny? Both. My freewill decided on many adventures in my life but my fate or destiny led me to places and people.

Monika is on Instagram https://instagram.com/mbuglear/.