So brave. Not.

I took my youngest to the local pool this morning. It’s just opened and is all shiny and new. Completely aimed at families with large changing areas, a slide, water sprays etc…it’s all the business. And at a cost of $1 for both of us, this is the second time we’ve been, in fact, we are going to try to go every week. But while I was there I was reminded of something that was said to me over the summer at a friend’s house; something that really annoyed me and has clearly stuck with me.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard something like this, which kind of makes it worse. My friend has a swimming pool and with my kids being only 4 and 5, at the time, I of course was going to get in the pool with them. Not just to keep them safe, but to have fun with them. There were a handful of families there, people that I had only recently met. As I got the kids changed and then pulled out my swimming costume to go and get changed, one of the mums said to me, “Oh, you’re brave.” At first I wandered if she meant because the water would be cold. It was a warm day, and I seriously asked the host “why, isn’t it heated?” But the mum in question, said “No, I mean getting in with them and putting your swimsuit on.” I was flabbergasted.

I am no supermodel but putting on a swimsuit so my kids and I can have fun is not brave in my book. Maybe it’s because I was meeting these people for the first time, but yes, I judged them as the conversation continued as they got their husbands to sit on the side of the pool and watch their kids. I seriously don’t get it.

What message are we sending to our kids if we refuse to put on a swimsuit to get into a pool to play with them? What are we saying about body image?

So this morning as I looked around the pool and saw mums, dads and grandparents of all ages, shapes and sizes in the water having fun with their kids I didn’t for a second think any one of them was brave. I didn’t think how courageous they must be for wearing the necessary clothing for the situation, a swimsuit in a swimming pool (shock, horror) and having loads of fun with their kids as they splashed and played.

Seriously people, get over yourselves. It’s a body. Be grateful for all it can do. Show your kids how amazing it is to be alive. Don’t worry about what other people may think and have some goddamn fun with your kids.

Days 14/15/16/17: 30 Day Music Challenge

I seriously don’t know where the week has gone. Time flies so quickly around here, so here I find myself doing a catch up on the 30 Day Music Challenge. I have been updating the Spotify playlist as I’ve been going along so click here if you would like to listen: 30 Day music challenge

Day 14: A song that you would love played at your wedding

The creator of this list clearly thought none of us old married people would do this challenge, oh well. The song that we did have played at our wedding for our first dance was God Only Knows by The Beach Boys. Our music tastes are like some huge Venn diagram with only a handful of similarities in the middle. His circle is full of “too cool for school” bands that get played on student radio. Mine is pop, grunge and rock. There in the middle The Beach Boys and several other classic acts sit nicely so it seemed the obvious choice for our first dance nearly 12 years ago.

Day 15: A song that is a cover by another artist

I do love a good cover. I’ve discussed this on Twitter before and one day we even came up with a collaborative playlist (feel free to add to it) Cover Songs. But for the purpose of the music challenge I have chosen Bridge Over Troubled Water by Elvis Presley. Only The King could make a cover better than the original really.

Day 16: One of your favourite classical songs

I’m not a big listener of classical music but I do like to have it on in the background if I am working. It’s a lot easier to concentrate when there are no lyrics. For day 16 I am going to have to choose Sergei Prokofiev’s Montagues and Capulets. I have used this while teaching Romeo and Juliet in the classroom and then, more recently, a certain Mr Williams has used a sample of it on Party Like a Russian.

Day 17: A song that you would sing a duet with on karaoke

I’m a bit confused by this one. Does it mean your favourite karaoke song or favourite karaoke duet song, because I have no issue standing to do karaoke by myself!! So to save any confusion, if I’m doing it by myself it’s Never Ever – All Saints…but a duet to do at karaoke has to be Islands In The Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, after all this playlist needs some country on it.

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Find your tribe

When I first became a stay at home mum I was the first of all my friends, everyone else was still at work. It can be a lonely time and the internet became a vital connection to other mothers, both locally and in other countries.

Although that connection is a god send at times it was easy to become swamped by opinions and information about how to be a mother. There are umpteen blog posts about this problem already I am sure. But what I’m going to write about today is how I eventually found my tribe and they made me feel normal.

I went through stages of following mummy bloggers who were very ecologically friendly, very hands on, expert cooks. I found perfectionists who have the ability to organise creative activities everyday for their kids. Instagram led me to the lunchbox mafia who can make sculptures out of carrots and cucumbers you can’t possibly imagine. It all seemed like a competition and an impossibility.

Hats off to these folk. If you can do it, great. But what I soon learnt it that it is not realistic. It can’t be. And with the arrival of my second child I pretty much decided that it was near on impossible to keep up those levels of creativity and involvement, and more importantly I realised what was the point?

Kids teach you amazing things and the most important thing is at the end of the day they just want to be loved. They need to be fed and cared for. They need to be played with, given opportunities to experience the world around them, but they don’t need the most expensive designer clothes, organic artichokes or every second of their day scheduled.

This is how I found my tribe: The warriors who, like me, found humour in these unrealistic, unattainable ideals. The strong men and women facing the tantrums of two year olds, counting down the hours and minutes until bedtime. The parents declaring it wine o’clock on social media once the tearaways were finally asleep. The families who are imperfectly perfect and filled with love in messy houses around the world.

Thank you all for keeping it real and holding my hand. 

Day 9/10: 30 day music challenge

Day 9: A song that makes you happy

You just know that there will be a disproportionate number of Take That and Robbie songs in this list, but it’s my list so I don’t give a damn! So a song that makes me happy has to be Love My Life by Robbie Williams.

There are the obvious reasons; the lyrics are happy, meaningful, and it’s a bloody lovely song. But then there are the less obvious maybe. Knowing that he is writing this from a happy point in his life is enough for a long term fan like me. Just like Come Undone had elements of an autobiographical nature, this does too and it just shows how much his life has changed, and how far he is come. And you know what? That makes me happy too. The two songs are the antithesis of each other but I love them equally.

And then there is what this song means to me as a mother. The sentiment behind it has made me cry on more than one occasion. All you want as a mother is for your kids to love their life and I am doing the best I can possibly do to make that happen. They, at 4 and 6, also LOVE this song. They request it in the car, they know the words and sing along. That’s the next generation of Friendlies right there. Makes me proud.

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Day 10: A song that makes you sad 

Seems like I was meant to miss yesterday and have these two songs on the same blog post. A song that makes me sad is November Rain by Guns N’ Roses. This song really reminds me of my dad so it is fair to say that it make me happy and sad. Dad loved Guns N’ Roses as much as me and took me to see them play at Milton Keynes Bowl on the Skin N’ Bones tour in 1993. There are enough stories about that day to fill an entire blog post so maybe I’ll write about it one day but being 15 and your dad taking you to a gig like that is pretty high in the cool stakes, if you ask me. I got to recreate some of those memories with my husband last month at Western Springs in Auckland and the song still has the same effect on me.

Dad sadly passed away from cancer in 2007 and prior to that spent quite a bit of time in the hospital having numerous treatments. One day the hospital radio guy came round and asked Dad if he had any requests. Dad insisted on the album version of November Rain…all 8 minutes and 58 seconds of it. You see, that was my dad all over; subtle with his humour, quietly spoken, but knew how to get his way. He was very happy when they played it, and apparently the DJ was too, he got an extended break.

Anyway, when it came to his funeral he picked Sailing by Rod Stewart for the time his coffin went behind the curtain. So, like the dutiful daughter I am, I  went and bought a CD with it on. Now, your average song is what, two minutes thirty, three minutes? Oh no, not this one. This version? Nearly five minutes. Now I don’t know if you’ve been to many funerals but it really doesn’t take that long for those curtains to close. It was like dad was having the last laugh. This is the song he used to sing after a few too many whiskeys, the song he used to rewind and play on repeat on car journeys. I can’t believe that it was coincidence that he chose such a long song again. So as the extended middle eight played my mum, my husband and I couldn’t help but snigger. The family and friends behind us why on earth we were laughing at his funeral, but well played dad, well played.

So both of these songs have happy and sad memories about Dad for me. And for the record, we chose November Rain for the end of the funeral because you know, it really does take nine minutes for everyone to leave a crematorium.

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