The trials and tribulations of a family cat

We knew our cat was a softy when we got her. The Boy was three and a half at the time, so much as I wanted a cute fluffy kitten, our top priority was a mog who would be tolerant with children. When we met 18-month-old Poppy at the Cats Protection centre, and she immediately prostrated herself at The Boy’s feet, we had a pretty good idea that she’d be good with kids. We weren’t wrong.

Typically, for all his begging and pleading, the novelty of having a cat wore off very quickly for The Boy. DH has never liked her – he’s allergic to cats, and while he’s desensitised to Pops, he resents her on principle. I *do* like her, but I could live without the muddy footprints, wilful destruction of doorframes, dead squirrels and moulting (never get a monochrome cat; they shed white fur when you’re wearing black, and black when you’re wearing white). Continue reading


Mind the gap…

Once upon a time, back in my staffer days, I remember writing a feature about the best age gap to leave between having children. I vaguely recall one of the experts I interviewed postulating that the best gaps are either less than 18 months (eek!) or over three years. These gaps, the expert said, were the most likely to lead to harmonious sibling relationships, unburdened by jealousy and rivalry.

With my five and a quarter year gap, I should, then, be onto a winner. And indeed, for the first, what, 14 months of The Baby’s life, the relationship between my children was pretty much perfect. Yes, there was the occasional wail of, ‘Stop her eating my Lego!’ but in general, brother and sister were the best of friends.  Continue reading

The Gallery: Hands

They were so tiny, once. So precious.

I so clearly remember taking my babies to have their hand and footprints taken in John Lewis when they were just a few weeks old. I remember having second thoughts about the expense, especially when The Boy was newborn and I hadn’t got my head around my future work plans and where – if anywhere – the money would come from. The Boy slept through his imprinting, even when we took his sock off and shoved it into the cold clay; The Baby, however, screamed, writhed and clenched her fists. It was stressful. I was convinced her prints would be a write-off, but they turned out fine. Continue reading

Summer loving

I always know it’s going to be a good day when I wake up in the morning and open the curtains to blue skies. Because everything is easier on a sunny day.

Getting out of bed at 6.15am – the default time at which my little 16-month-old alarm clock goes off – is easier. In the winter months, when it’s still pitch black, it feels like that wake-up call is coming in the dead of night. While I never relish the thought of being dragged from my sleep, it’s less painful in summer, when the sky is light and the birds are singing. Continue reading

The Gallery: Family

Even though we spent five years feeling perfectly satisfied with having an only child – and, in fact, for at least four of those, thought we’d stick with just the one – there was one thing that always rankled. And that was the way that other people seemed to consider us ‘less of a family’ than those with two or more children.

No one ever said it outright, but it was implicit in people’s attitudes. I felt they didn’t consider me a sufficiently experienced mum because I was raising a single child rather than a brood. I often felt we were expected to go further out of our way for get-togethers and outings than other families, because it was theoretically easier for us to get up and go. I found myself giving endless lifts to parties and playdates just because there was more space in our car, and no younger sibling to make alternative arrangements for.  Continue reading

Not enough hours…


I’m pretty sure that just about every mother on the face of this earth would bite your hand off for an extra three hours in the day. I know I would. But at the moment, I think I’d probably need more like another 12 to get through everything I have to do.

That photo up there is what my desk looks like right now. And the only thing I like on it is the glass of wine. It also features a BlackBerry flashing away to alert me to my unanswered emails (186 in my inbox at this precise moment), a pad full of shorthand notes yet to be transcribed, another pad with details of my year-end accounts which *really* need sorting out, my passport, which needs renewing (by August 9th; no pressure), the booking form for the school table-top sale, where I intend to try to shift our outgrown baby gear, and, and, and… Continue reading

The witching hour


Every home has a witching hour. That hour when everyone in the house is tired, hungry and fractious. When you have a newborn, it usually falls between six and seven in the evening, when you have Had Enough of the constant baby-wrangling and are desperate to hand your precious bundle over to someone else. When you have school-age children, the morning rush tends to be the time when tempers fray and eventually snap.

For us, the witching hour occurs between getting home from the afternoon school run and the children’s teatime, at 5pm. Continue reading