Honest-to-goodness friends

I love love love this post by Kate. Having made sone of my best friends as an adult via ‘those bloggy things’ and social media, Kate’s thoughts ring very true for me. I especially adore the stonking example in the last paragraph…how brilliant?
A friend shared this video on facebook recently (somewhat ironically) and it got me thinking.  This idea that social media is inherently unsociable is a popular one.  As the video says, “this media we call social is anything but; when we open our computers it’s our doors we shut”.  This is a message I’ve seen and heard over and over again, on twitter, on blogs, on facebook, from family and friends.  I’ve been blogging since 2008 and over the years have been told that it’s fake, it’s self-centred, and that any friends I’ve made through blogging aren’t ‘real’ friends as they only see the edited version of me I present on my blog.  I have also been criticised for doing that editing.  Now, I will readily admit that my blog shows edited highlights of my life, partly because I started it as a ‘happy place’ when quite a lot of things in my life weren’t very happy, and partly because I can’t believe that anyone would want to read about me doing my laundry, or having pasta and pesto for dinner yet again, or moaning about my colleagues / bills / hair / the weather.  But I would also argue that we  present edited versions of ourselves in person as well; my boss doesn’t want to know what I had for dinner, and my friend doesn’t need to hear about my split ends.
Mainly I object to the assertion that online friends aren’t ‘real’ friends, and that social media makes us antisocial.  I think both of these things may be true for some people, depending how they use the internet and how they connect with people, but for me these things are not true at all.  If it wasn’t for blogging and other social media I wouldn’t have many friends.  Instead I have a selection of lovely people in my life, from those who I regularly tweet with or occasionally meet for a drink, to those I have invited to my home, to some of my nearest and dearest (and even my land lady!).  I would count all of them as real friends, and friends with whom I am sociable both online and offline.
The popularity of blook club, an Edinburgh book club for bloggers, which saw people coming from far and wide even for the first few meetings, says something about the sociable nature of this supposedly unsociable world.  I’ve invited people I’ve only ever met on twitter to parties and they’ve come, and brought their partners too.  Recently a few of us discussed Friday night drinks on twitter and other people joined in and came along.  We crave social contact, and social media enables that.  Anyone who has moved jobs, or cities, or relationships, knows how hard it can be to make friends as an adult, but it is so much easier with social media.  And not just a list of friends or contacts or followers, but real, honest-to-goodness, drink and laugh and cry with them friends.
So the next time someone tells me that social media isn’t social, that blog land is disingenuous and self-absorbed, that by choosing to spend time online I am choosing isolation and loneliness, I’ll give them my flat as an example:  my land lady is a blogger, I met the friends who helped me move in online, and half of the people at my flat warming were twitter friends.
Categories: Friend That Made Me Me, Life
15 interesting thoughts on this

The house that she built

Today’s post by Meredith is one of those where you’ll want to stand up and cheer after reading it. Whether you have your own post-partum body niggles, or a different set of worries about your appearance, I think you’ll relate to what Meredith is saying – we need  to recognise the huge achievements of our bodies and celebrate them, every day.

Like many women, I’m often insecure about my looks. Post-pregnancy, that is even moreso the case as I adjust to a new shape that may or may not continue to shift and change. I’m still hoping it will! Looking in the mirror, I feel like a mess. I feel like I’m missing the mark. And you know what? There’s really something wrong with that. I’ve made a human. That takes it’s toll. I’m tired of hearing from various media sources about how I canprevent stretch marks (or correct them, in my case). I’m tired of being bombarded with postpartum fitness articles, telling me I’d better use any ‘down time’ (ha!) I can to exercise and to start before I get too ‘comfortable’. I mean can I just enjoy my baby for a second? Can I just use any ‘down time’ I actually get to take a nap or take a shower or do some laundry? My daughter doesn’t seem to mind my ‘comfortable’ body…though, to be fair, she pretty much just looks at my face and my blouses at the moment. BUT, she does fall asleep quite easily against me in all my cushiness.

During pregnancy, my husband and I got into a habit. As my tummy got increasingly babified it got itchy! So every night he would rub cocoa butter on it. It helped the itchiness and felt good. It was also supposed to help with stretch marks. Well, I still got stretch marks, even though I gained exactly the right amount of weight and applied this lotion every night. Apparently it’s mostly down to genetics. I must have a lot of genetics! Haha! Anyway…It sounds weird, but our ’tummy time’ became a special habit all about the three of us. Me and him and bump. After our daughter arrived, we stopped. Then a few weeks ago, we decided that we missed that time. We reinstated it, this time with Bio Oil, because, as you will soon see, she stretched me to the limits! I’m glad it’s back. Although, since there’s no baby inside anymore, I find myself especially conscious of my bump/pooch/roll/whateveryoucallit. I mean I’m now 15 weeks postpartum. Shouldn’t that be gone? Kate Middleton’s was. Victoria Beckham’s was. XYZ’s was. Why isn’t mine? Then this conversation happened one night, during our ’tummy time’:

Wife (guiltily): I’m sorry I still have a bump.
Husband (sweetly): I like your bump.
Wife (incredulously): Why?!
Husband (sincerely): It’s part of you. And it made her.
Wife (tearily): But it’s different than before.
Husband (matter-of-factly): Yes. A new curve. And one I like.

Perspective is everything.

I took this photo when I was three months pregnant, in order to share the news with family and friends.

Our daughter actually arrived April 15 via emergency cesarean. We had a hell of a first month, but that’s another (longer) story for another day. A story that, honestly, I don’t think I’m quite ready to ponder over and share. But suffice it to say that we are all doing well now.

I took this photo three months postpartum, in order to remind myself of what my body has been through, what my body has accomplished and what beauty can (and often does) look like. It’s now become a favorite.

Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves as women? Mothers or not, we ALL do it. I think it’s about time that we stopped! It’s one thing to lead a healthy lifestyle. It’s entirely another to constantly pick apart every flaw, line, bump, curve, or mark. I will choose to see this stretched and puffy body as a blessing. To see every mark for the kick that it was, this ‘pooch’ as an empty nest! It served a purpose. A wonderful purpose. It housed her. It was her first home. She built it, bit by bit. It’s her first work of art. Should it not then be celebrated?

My current, and likely abiding, challenge is to see myself the way my partner and child see me. I hope that you can do that as well! For we are ALL beautiful. And I think when we all start to realize that, the world will indeed be a better place.

Categories: Becoming a Mother, Body Image
19 interesting thoughts on this

#bookswap – the reviews

Thank you to Kate for her beautiful #bookswap reviews – I’ve read both books yet want to dive straight back into them. If you’ve been pondering writing your review/s, please do – we can’t wait to hear more about what everyone got and what you thought.
I was lucky enough to receive 2 breath-taking books (thank you again Anna!) and I took a while to read and savor them. Then I took a while to let them sink in, as they demanded a bit of sinking-in time.
[Anna, remember I said that I actually had read After You’d Gone  before, but couldn't remember the details? I didn't understand why or how I’d forgotten it, but knew I loved it,  until I was a good way in, and even then it wasn't the plot I remembered.  It was heartbreak.  I was barely coping after an ended relationship when I read it the first time, and I think I must have read it on a purely sensory and emotional level.  The watery themes were instantly familiar and the loss and grief portrayed is so stark, so raw that I could actually taste my own old loss. I think when those emotions in me healed up the book went away with them, it was linked to something too painful to be an easily accessible memory.  Mystery solved.
I was so pleased to come away from it this time with a more rounded experience of the whole beautiful book, but my god what writing. ] Anyway,  here are my reviews:
After You’d Gone  – Maggie O Farrell
This book is achingly beautiful; both the story-line and the writing.  Simply put, it’s a bittersweet love story with themes of family, love and moral choices.  It deals with Alice, her family, the love story of Alice and John, and how Alice comes to be in a coma.  It’s written as a series of vignettes which are not in chronological order, allowing the reader to experience snapshots of intimately observed and detailed scenarios of Alice’s life in London, Alice and her sisters growing up in Scotland in her grandmother’s house, her mum’s married life, and her love affair with John.  These snapshots of Alice’s memories build suspense, yet flow and meld together eventually forming a clearing picture of how and why Alice is in acoma – accident or suicide attempt?  The inconsistent chronology is handled with finesse, echoing the way our memories work and enhancing and adding realism to Alice’s condition. The author’s writing is pared down to create a haunting, deeply emotional and above all, luminous book.
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
I was delighted to receive this as The Goldfinch has become one of my favorite books but I’d never read this.  It begins by revealing that Richard and his student friends have been involved in a murder.  The plot then takes second place to the development of these strong central characters and the creation of a romantic, vividly picturesque university campus setting.  Eventually the pace quickens and plot thickens, and with it comes the reasons the characters were involved in the murder, the looming of an inexorable climax and a clinging hope that perhaps, things may not end as intimated. There are murky and complex themes throughout which make this book dense yet enlightening reading: – tragedy; Greek history and philosophy; friendship and the yearning to belong; beauty, decay and destruction.  The author gains powerful control over the reader with her beautiful prose and deliberate structure and pace, then creates tension by pitting the fundamentally unlikable characters against the compulsion to follow their actions.  This book is very clever, thought-provoking, and utterly, darkly compelling.
Categories: Books
7 interesting thoughts on this

In a bind

When Liz submitted this post, I couldn’t believe how timely it was – I could have written it myself, albeit with more ranting and CAPITAL LETTERS. I know from recent conversations with a lot of readers with young kids that it’s a highly contentious, relevant topic and I know that no one seems to have the answers. No one knows what the ‘right’ thing to do is to change this ridiculous system and so, as ever, we simply have to do what is right for ourselves. 

I have recently started going to church on Sunday mornings. I was christened as small child, got married in my local church but I have never really gone to church other than the usual weddings, funerals, christening and Christmas carols.

So what changed? The answer is simple, it consists on one word and It’s not something that I am entirely comfortable about – schools

The commuter town I live in has been subject to the most amazing baby boom over the past five or so years. One of the local hospitals closed the doors of its maternity wards to women from here as they were so overwhelmed

As it stands there are not currently enough primary school places for the year that my daughter will be in. The education authorities will obviously have to sort this out, but at the moment it’s not clear how or where

There is a primary school at the end of our road, about a 3 minute walk, and it is rated outstanding. We would love T to go there, convenient and high quality, why wouldn’t we? The only problem is that it’s a Church of England school. The number of children in the town means it can be picky about who gets a place, it has no catchment area,  admissions are based purely on church attendance in the two years before joining.

Our catchment school is roughly a 25 minute walk and is currently in special measures due to the poor quality of teaching there.

The 4 church schools within the town are so good, and sought after, that it has brought down the quality of the standard state schools. Such that people would rather not send their children to them.

And this is the bind…

Before I had T I was the person who would mock others who were snobby and preoccupied with what school they would send their children to. I went to a pretty third rate primary school and I did ok, so why would my daughter do any different?

I couldn’t understand the people going to church for the sake of school admissions. Didn’t they see that if they all just stopped this pretence then the church wouldn’t have a stronghold over the schools anymore? Everyone could then breathe again, happy that their child would get a good education. I wasn’t going to be part of this, perpetuating the problem.

Then one day, it was my daughter’s education I was talking about and it started to matter to me. I wish I was brave enough to say sod this system. It’s bullshit that you have to go to church to get a chance at decent schooling. However, I’m not sure that I want to take the risk. I want to be able to say that I gave T the best chance, and if that is going to church then so be it.

I still wouldn’t rule out sending T to our catchment school if it’s standards have improved by the time it comes to filling in the forms. But I don’t want it to be the only option open to us if things haven’t changed. So for now, I attending church.

In actual fact I’m actually enjoying going; that hour of peaceful reflection early on a Sunday morning. It also seems like there is a lovely sense of community there (I guess partly because it’s full of other families like us), which can only be a good thing to get involved with.

But seriously, there has got to be a better, more equitable way of having access to quality education hasn’t there?

Categories: Life Experience, Religion
18 interesting thoughts on this

Any Other Photo {Rachel and O}

Two people, one photo. A memory made and a moment captured – Any Other Photo will always have such a hold on my heart. We know that you love it too, we know that you miss it when it’s gone. So get choosing, get writing, get sending… Go!

Today’s is a photo of two (three, really!) ridiculously beautiful people who celebrated their fourth anniversary yesterday. Huge congratulations to Rachel and her wonderful wee family. I just love the idea of having photos like these taken to celebrate everyone you love being together at such an important time. 

Four years it has taken me, four years since our wedding; to get round to, pluck up the courage to and decide upon ourAny Other Photo. Is it because I don’t like our wedding photos, is it because I’m really quite shy, or is it because my husband is horrified at the thought of his face being out there? Or is it that choosing is too hard, do I pick the one of us during the ceremony, the one where I appear to be threateningmy new husband with a knife while we pose to cut the cake,the one where I’m getting my toes trodden on during our first dance or the one of my Dad and I dancing? Who knows? However given that we’ve been married for four years I thought it was about time I made an effort. But then I looked at our wedding photos again and I had a little cry. So I decided not to choose a wedding photo because AOP isn’t all about weddings it is about photos that make you smile.

This photo was taken as part of a gift for my Mum’s 65thbirthday late 2012. I’m seven months pregnant. Our life is about to change more than we could ever imagine. I love this picture because I’m probably saying something bossy and O is doing his usual and ignoring me and making me laugh.


The last year or so of married life has been a difficult. We’ve struggled to adjust to who we are now as parents and how that impacts on us still being Rachel and O. We’ve had conversations that turn into fights because we can’t hear ourselves over a crying child – neither of us knowing how to make her stop. We’ve been exhausted to the point of illness when she just would.not.sleep. We’ve bought our secondhouse and struggled financially with all the unforeseen expenses that come along. O has started working part time and we’ve adjusted to O being the stay at home parent and how people outside our relationship view that. But I’m so relieved and happy that we’re making our way back, we’re a team again and we’re laughing at ourselves again. Our wedding day feels so long ago and yet four years feels like nothing. When I think that in a few years my parents will have been married for 50 years, O’s parents will have been married40 years and my sister just celebrated 20 years. We have some pretty excellent role models on making relationships workthrough thick and thin.

This photo is one of a set taken of my family on a walk round Temple Newsham, Leeds by the lovely and talented Mark Dolby.

Categories: Any Other Photo
9 interesting thoughts on this

Behind closed doors: Pro

At Any Other Woman, you can talk about anything. Anything you want at all. Any subject, any time. We are proud to be able to provide that platform for you, it makes our hearts sing. But we do understand that sometimes there are topics that are too sensitive, too divisive, simply too hard to write about and broadcast without a second thought. No-one wants to hurt their loved ones unnecessarily and yet sometimes a story needs to be told.

This is your place for those subjects. A place for you to tell those tales you’d not considered telling before. No names, no justifications, no apologies.

You can send your BCD submissions tobehindcloseddoors@live.co.uk and we promise that you’ll remain anonymous throughout the entire process.

Ever since I was 15, I’ve given my period a silent party in the bathroom. Every month, sometimes a little tardy but there nevertheless, I let out a big breath, a sigh and a whispered ‘yessss’.

So when, 10 years later, I was left waiting, party-poppers at the ready, I worried. Halfway through an important meeting I felt an overwhelming wave of nausea, and I knew. Four tests over a couple of days were vague, but I knew.

As I took myself off to the doctors, I wished someone was holding my hand. I knew it was the best thing to do, but I needed someone else to say it too. But no one else could. The internet labelled me a murderer and told me that I was killing a human being.  I felt sad and cold, as if I had committed the largest atrocity.

It’s not the guilt for what could have been, the small life, but the pain that I feel for those missing out. Those couples whowould be thrilled at the surprise and give a cheer of their own, those who pray for their time, or have to have long andpainful procedures. Instead there’s me, on the way to the gym, toying with holiday plans and kitchen renovations in my head, telling the doctor I can’t have a baby.

It kills me that I wouldn’t be letting out a sigh of relief this month … but neither would any of those couples above. I wish I could magically pass it on, rather than have to just draw aline and say STOP.

What gives me the choice, where others have no option but to pray? Where are their choices?

It doesn’t make me sad that I may have stopped a potential life, but what does is that some people don’t have the choice.Why should some girls be forced to have a baby at the same age that I had my first boyfriend? When some ladies can’t choose between motherhood, or a career (or indeed doing both). When some feel they have to run away or find illegal and dangerous help.

It doesn’t upset me that I won’t have this child, but what does is that there are people out there who can’t because they can’t get the help they need. We are grateful for the NHS and other services that can help should we choose to have a child. Why should we be able to pay for multiple rounds of IVF, when others can’t get an ovulation test when they are choosing to try for a family?

We are lucky to be able to choose to have, or not to have, a baby. Whether or not I made the right choice is a matter which is much less important than the issue of allowing women, and couples, the ability to choose at all.

Categories: Becoming a Mother, Health
8 interesting thoughts on this


Thank you for bearing with us whilst we had some downtime last week, readers. We’re back with a beautiful post from Katy this morning and have a full week of content ahead / including an AOP! Such joy. 

Katy’s is my favourite kind of writing. Simple, thoughtful, almost letting you be inside her head for a moment. And it’s lovely, so lovely. 

Last week, I made friends with a toddler on a train. She and her parents got on one stop after me and managed to settle themselves down with baby, bags, books and coats, but baby’s big sister wasn’t havingany of this sensibly planned activity and instead decided to dance around the aisle for a while. Both girls had gorgeous ginger hair and big brown eyes: they were adorable.

The toddler looked around her and started to explore, and to her delight, found some similar age girls to make friends with. Within seconds, they were “doing dancing” in the aisle and then running up to the baby and making silly faces to make her laugh. Gradually the noise level went up, and the parents started to look a bit stressed. Then the little girl bumped into me as she performed a twirl. “Careful!” exclaimed mum, and cast a worried look in my direction. I smiled to try to signal that it was OK, but didn’t say anything. Mum was by this point more occupied with baby, who was just on the edge of starting to cry.

I kept sneaking glances at the toddlers, who had now moved on to experimenting with whether they could hop on one foot (answer: only one of the three had so far mastered this skill, but they could all shout “Hop!”), while trying to read my book. Baby – who looked very warm and cosy in a cute fluffy all-in-one – had continued to complain until Mum started to breastfeed her, Dad carefully holding up a cardigan to create their own little private corner. I kept stealing glances at her too. (As an ignorant non-parent, who knew breast-feeding could take so long?! All of you, I’m sure). Eventually my stop arrived and the family carried on – I had never spoken a word to them.

If I had spoken, perhaps I would have said, please don’t assume that because I’m keeping an eye on your daughter, I find her annoying. I couldn’t take my eyes off her because a) she’s adorable and b) I wanted to make sure she didn’t bang her head on anything. Please let me apologise if I looked at you breast-feeding and you thought that was inappropriate. Please know, just for a minute in your busy, hassled life, that you are beautiful with your big brown eyes and so are your lovely children. I couldn’t stop looking at you because I envy everything you have; and perhaps, when you saw me sitting quietly with a book and a pastry, you might have wanted what I had for a few minutes instead of being in charge of a noisy toddler. But I bet – I hope! – you wouldn’t really swap. And I know that right now is not the right time for me to have children, and there’s plenty of time yet, and I very much hope that I will come to experience everything you have when I have had time to enjoy my quiet existence with my book and my pastry.

In the mean time, I can only apologise to all parents out there for being an avid baby-watcher, and say I hope you take it as a compliment.

Categories: Becoming a Mother
4 interesting thoughts on this

Behind closed doors: Healing

At Any Other Woman, you can talk about anything. Anything you want at all. Any subject, any time. We are proud to be able to provide that platform for you, it makes our hearts sing. But we do understand that sometimes there are topics that are too sensitive, too divisive, simply too hard to write about and broadcast without a second thought. No-one wants to hurt their loved ones unnecessarily and yet sometimes a story needs to be told.

This is your place for those subjects. A place for you to tell those tales you’d not considered telling before. No names, no justifications, no apologies.

You can send your BCD submissions tobehindcloseddoors@live.co.uk and we promise that you’ll remain anonymous throughout the entire process.

Just over three years ago my boyfriend of a decade sat down in front of me – the man I lived with, the man who’d told me we would be engaged very soon – and told me he didn’t want our relationship anymore. What he did want, I found out afterwards, was the woman he’d been having an affair with

There’s nothing that can prepare you for that moment. The weird calm where you’re dividing your things up and breaking apart two lives, the next moment filled with so much confusion and anger for his cowardice, for his lies. Going from being a part of someone’s life, of talking to them everyday to…nothing. I pretty much sleep walked (slept walked?!?) my way through the next 12 months. The utter loneliness of going from a relationship to being single, the constant overtime I took on so I wouldn’t have time to think, sheer exhaustion through constantly waking up at 4am. It all came to a head almost a year later when I realised I was thinking far too seriously, and far too often, about ending it all

I needed a change. So I left. I took on my biggest challenge ever and headed away on what would be 18 months of hard work, adventure and (cheese alert) finding myself.

I still had moments where I thought about the past, where I grieved for what had happened and wondered just where it all went wrong…even moments where I felt utterly sorry for myself and hated the fact that he had waltzed off, seemingly blissfully happy, to a new life while I was left to pick up the pieces, to doubt everything and to have to contemplate just how the heck I start again

But you know what, out of sight, out of mind, and slowly but surely I was healing. Helped by my wonderful friends, old and new. Helped by starting to discover that, on my own, I did have a lot of great qualities and I started to like myself

Returning to the UK wasn’t the scary home-coming that I thought it would be. It wasn’t an assault to the senses and a reminder of the past. It really felt like a new start. A new home in a new place. Somewhere with absolutely no memories. Then recently I got hit by some potentially scary health news. Time (and tests) will tell what the next step is.

I don’t know what to think. On the surface I’m doing fine, but I can feel the old self doubt coming back. Sometimes, when it’s late and I’m tired, I get the little ‘why me’ voice. I try to silence it, ‘why not me’, but it’s really hard. And it’s times like this when the loneliness returns. My friends are wonderful, they truly are, but they are no substitute for the one person that knows you best, who is part of your team. Who is there in the middle of the night, or offering you security. I miss that. Not him. That. I get scared I’ll never have that again, I’m still too nervous of rejection to seriously start dating, I am scared of what the next few months hold healthwise, but every now and then I look back at what I’ve achieved over the last three years, things I never even imagined and I let myself think, “I’ll be ok.”

It’s all about one step at a time, right?

Categories: Behind Closed Doors, Infidelity
6 interesting thoughts on this

The Guilt

Oh, how I love Steff.  She’s dealt with THE JUDGEMENTAL INTERNET and THE MOTHERHOOD GUILT TRAIN in one superb, ranty, eloquent post and knocked them both out of the park.  It will come as no surprise that I agree with Steff’s points (hello, day 5 of working and being a mother) – not all of you will agree like I do, but I bet you emerge from this post wanting to poke the Internet in its judgey-face eye.

And who could ask for more than that on a Wednesday?

Over to you, Steff:

This has been building for a while, I’ve been mulling it over quietly for a long time, not so quietly in the last few months and I’ve finally reached my tipping point.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge lover of technology.  I love social media for all the wonderful ways in which it has made the world a much smaller place.  It means I can keep up with the goings on of all my friends who are out globetrotting and they, in turn, can bore themselves witless looking at endless photos of The Peas should they so desire.  It does things like reunite lost dogs and teddy bears with their owners (Max and Cheesy Leo thank you, internet!), raise awareness of brilliant campaigns that seem to spawn from nowhere (no makeup selfie anyone?) and bring together communities of like-minded people previously geographically separated (oh hi lovely AOW ladies of Twitter!).  It does all these brilliant things and so much more but because the content is largely ungoverned and community generated it opens gates for all manner of unsavoury topics to pass in front of your eyes.

When my own mum became a mother and, indeed, when my older sisters became mothers social media wasn’t around to lecture them about how to parent their children properly, they had their elders for that.  I’m not so fortunate, sure I have my elders but I also have this faceless, nameless, preachy monkey on my back constantly telling me I’m doing the wrong thing, I’m not crafty enough, I spend too much time cleaning (HAH! As if!).

Somehow, somewhere I lost control of what I was seeing on social media (Facebook in particular).  I no longer have the ability to not watch a video that my friend has shared of a woman beating a baby with a pillow because the Facebook app automatically plays videos that you scroll to.  I see what my ‘friends’ have ‘liked’ but not the content of the page that I have ‘liked’.  I see things that the girl I went to high school with posts but not the things my mother in law posts.  So in the past you may have told me to just stop following the people who post these guild inducing posts but now my only option is to opt out altogether.

Before I became a mother myself I would see these particular posts floating around my timeline and vaguely ponder the nice words and the pretty pictures.  That has changed since The Peas arrived.  Perhaps I’m over sensitive.  Perhaps my own insecurities are what I’m fighting against but I know one thing is for sure, if I’m feeling it then someone else out there is too and I’ve had enough of it.  Whether well meaning, innocent or downright laden with agenda, the guilt has to stop.

Posts which preach how important it is to spend time with your children, that they’re only young for a short time, that the washing can wait, that you can surely spend a few years as a stay at home mum rather than working, that it only takes seconds to give your child a hug.  I know all of these things, I do.  I feel bad enough about the fact that I spend 3 days working and not with my girls.  It’s taken me over a year to be able to feel happy about returning to rugby and indulging in a little “me” time on a regular basis.  I don’t need to be bombarded with these passive aggressive poems making me feel just a little bit more shit about myself each time I see them.

Read More »

Categories: Becoming a Mother
23 interesting thoughts on this

Holiday reading

Books, glorious books! It’s what we do, really, here at AOW. Linsey has a review of her holiday reads for us today – I’ve only read one (Middlesex) but will be planning to fit the other three onto my ‘to read’ list…

Having just returned from a week in Croatia spent mainly reading, eating and drinking I thought I’d share my holiday reading with you all. My reviews aren’t particularly insightful but I really enjoyed all of these books so wanted to pass them on. But as you all know, the best bit of any book post is the comments so I’m hoping to pick up some more titles to add to my ever-expanding reading list too!


More Than This - Patrick Ness

I’m a bit of a Patrick Ness fangirl since reading the excellent Chaos Walking trilogy.  More Than This is another dystopian YA novel with the simple opening line ‘Here is the boy, drowning’. Seth wakes up literally alone in the world and sets out to discover what happened between his drowning and his waking. I was hooked from the start; I raced through this book and finished it in a day. No spoilers, but the ending is left ambiguous which often frustrates me but I didn’t mind it this time. Read this. Also the hardback cover is a beauty.


Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris

This is a book of essays about Sedaris’ life in New York and later when he moves to France. He is very self-deprecating about everything in his life and very funny. I don’t normally read non-fiction but I loved this book. It made me laugh out loud multiple times and do that really annoying thing of reading bits out to my husband. When I finished it I wishedI’d brought his entire back catalogue of books on holiday with me and I’m a bit gutted I missed him on tour in April.


Coraline - Neil Gaiman

Another YA book, probably aimed slightly younger than More Than This, but still an enjoyable, quick read. Coraline is a dark, creepy story about a girl who discovers that a bricked up door leads to another version of her home, complete with an Other Mother and Father, that she needs to escape from. The version I read had beautiful illustrations and a section with notes from the author on the process of writing the book. I’m going to watch the animated film now to see how the book compares.


Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides

This was the book I received from Beth in the AOW bookswap. In her card she said that she picked it as she got the impression that I liked a good story. She was right and this pick was perfect.

Middlesex is told by the narrator Cal Stephanides, an intersex man who started out life as a girl. But the book begins much further back when Cal’s grandparents were young, and uses the family history to trace the path of the genetic mutation thatcauses Cal’s condition. But it’s about much more than this and is such a hard book to define. It’s a funny story about immigrants, the American dream, medical problems, growing up…. It’s just about family with all their quirks, and is the sort of book you finish and immediately want to lend to somebody so you can discuss it with them.

Categories: Books
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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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