Calling All Women! Get Heard in UK Parliament!

Some people seem to be born holding a placard, with their sense of justice and moral compass ready formed. Others can spend a lifetime looking inward, sometimes spurred into temporary action by a particularly grave humanitarian crisis or well-targeted aid appeal, but otherwise focussed on their own world and their own problems.

What moves a person from the latter to the former? How do people become engaged with the world around them?

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Bloody miracle? I don’t think so…

Everyone on my Twitter feed is talking about the news that the government has allocated £1.5m to fight period poverty* (disclaimer: my feed comprises about 50% period poverty and period positivity activists!). And on the face of it, this is great news. I am glad that recognition of the issue is becoming prevalent and that campaigns such as Amika George’s #freeperiods campaign are bearing fruit.

But let’s step back a moment, before we give the government too much credit please.

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Breastfeeding in Springtime (aka Rejoice, Non-Frozen Nipples)

It has probably not escaped your notice that I really enjoy fashion, styling clothes and generally keeping online retailers afloat throughout the year. One thing I have become slightly expert in over the last few years is adapting my wardrobe and style to allow a boob to be extracted on short notice (for breastfeeding purposes, rather than having embarked upon a new career in exhibitionism).

I’ve never really worn clothes that are designed specifically for breastfeeding; I’ve never found anything in the sort of style I would comfortably wear, and also I reckon that most ‘normal’ clothes can be fashioned in such a way as to allow for a boob to be whipped out if needed, so I’ve never been convinced by the need to buy a special dress with two layers or a sweatshirt with zips or whatever. To each their own.

But in the event that you’re interested in making the high street work for you, I thought I would take a look at what is on offer for breastfeeding mamas as spring approaches.

First up, Zara…

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Any excuse for a spending ban lapse…

Is there any ‘holiday’ shitter than Valentine’s day? I hate it. A tragic orgy of the smug, the twee and the desolate.

My husband and I do tend to mark the occasion with a card, but not usually a gift. Any time we’ve tried to make more of it, the universe has knocked some sense into us (like the first year, when I didn’t realise we were even going out and he bought me a present, some flowers and wrote a heartfelt card and I gave him a jokey card that probably had some rhyming profanity in lieu of sentiment, or the year we went out for a preposterously expensive dinner and he got food poisoning, almost immediately and grievously, or the year we went to a very boozy dinner at the River Cottage farm and accidentally left without paying…).

But. (There’s always a but in these blog posts, isn’t there?!) Despite my loathing of the day and all the nonsense that goes with it, and despite the ridiculous inconsistency of this position, I have found myself admiring some clothes online that could fall to be categorised under some sort of Valentine’s Day heading (although I would strongly recommend that you don’t search “Valentine” on the ASOS website or you will have your eyes burnt by such horrors as this or, even worse, this (neither of which is suitable for work, I should warn you).

Anyway. I hereby acknowledge the stupidity of this entire idea and simultaneously share with you my favourite ideas for Valentine’s Day dressing…

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The Daddy Appreciation Society

For a fairly long while, maybe nine months or so, I had been quite convinced that my daughter didn’t particularly like me. Or rather, that I was fine, but that she would much, much rather spend time with her “dada” than with me. This wasn’t just hormonal, sleep-deprived paranoia. The evidence was incontrovertible. She would cry if I, rather than my husband, gave her cuddles. She would cry if I, rather than my husband, helped her with her meals. She would cry if I, rather than my husband, changed her nappy. She would cry if I, rather than my husband, sat next to her. You get the gist.* She learnt to say duck, dog, light, car, cat, lion, tiger, up and “dada” (obviously), before she came up with “mama” (and even then only because circumstances forced the issue, on which see below). The only thing she was agreeable about me doing rather than him was breastfeeding. (Which was useful, as he is a bloody good father but he absolutely needs to work on his lactation.)

My husband, of course, found this completely brilliant.

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Stop insulting my cunt

I love to swear. I really (fucking) do. Expletives add so much to our language. They can be creative, lyrical, emotive… I certainly don’t regard swearing as evidence of a lack of imagination, as some teachers used to chide; indeed, my most inventive moments have often been celebrated with a veritable firework display of the obscene.

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New Year: New Starts or Same Old?

New Year’s resolutions seem to be getting a bit of a bashing on my social media this year! I have no interest in obsessing about my weight or adopting a crazy diet or giving up booze or any such nonsense, but personally I really enjoy the ‘new term’ feeling of January and the opportunity to reflect and plan for positive change. I might not keep up everything over the whole year, but some things usually stick and I feel better for them.

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Parenting: the Santa Clause

My son, who is three, recently asked me if Santa Claus is real. (In what I think might be my finest parenting moment to date,) I said, “well, Santa is a magical story. Some people believe in him and some people don’t. It’s up to you if you believe in him or not. I think it feels special at Christmas time to believe in Santa.” He replied, at the time, “I don’t believe. He doesn’t even think everyone is nice.” (My son is adamant that the lyrics to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” are that Santa is “making a list, checking it twice; going to find out who’s not even nice” so I think that’s the source of this slight misapprehension as to Santa’s classification system (as commonly understood).) However, since then, he has been thoroughly immersed in Christmas preparations, both at home and at nursery, and it’s safe to say that he is now on board. In fact, I have never seen him more excited.

Being three, he remains quite sketchy on the details. But he is asking lots of questions and his memory is terrifyingly accurate, so I think this is the year that we need to confirm the role that Santa will play in our family’s Christmas.

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Gender Expectations: A Tale of the Unexpected

Clearly I’m biased, but I think my daughter is seriously cute. A little bundle of pale skin, gappy teeth and chubby thighs, with a smatter of ginger-ish hair on top. Recently she’s become a bit suspicious of anyone new, but if you can win her over, her smile will make you grin. She was strikingly similar to my son when first born; they have diverged a bit now – in particular my son has deep brown eyes that remind me of chocolate buttons (somewhat cruelly given that his allergies were responsible for my dairy-free diet for more than three years) and the colour of my daughter’s eyes is hard to pin down but seems to be settling into a steely sort of grey/blue – but they remain pretty similar. Which is perhaps one of the reasons that she is mistaken for a boy approximately 90% of the time. Although, come to think of it, that would make more sense were it not for the fact that my son is mistaken for a girl around 30-40% of the time.

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Is two the magic number?

I always thought I’d have three children. I mean, not recently (*DEFINITELY NOT TODAY*), but more in casual contemplation of what My Future Life would look like, before I reached the stage of turning old assumptions into reality, when I then had to grapple with questions of age and finances and previously unconsidered conundrums such as “could I actually die of sleep exhaustion?” and “can you breastfeed three children at the same time?”. Now that I have two children, it seems a lot less obvious that three is the magic number. Maybe two is plenty!

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