The Extremely Over-Protective Mummy's Handbook

When I was a little girl, I used to dream of writing an epic novel. A novel that spanned three generations of the same family, three sprawling continents, three tumultuous events in history. A novel that addressed (with subtle eloquence) universal themes like the indomitable nature of the human spirit, the enduring power of love etc. But then, when I grew up, I realised I was better suited to swearing, ranting, and writing deranged hormonal drivel. Like 'The Extremely Over-Protective Mummy's Handbook: An A-Z of Neurotic Mummy Shit' . 

This genre-bending debut of mine will probably hit the shelves in, oh, let me see, a gazillion lightyears, largely because I am unable to write during a) PMS episodes; b) whilst looking for keys or mobile phones; or c) whilst collapsed under the weight of adrenal fatigue, which leaves me with a writing 'window' of twenty minutes a month. 

In the meantime, here are a few extracts. Enjoy!

C is for Calpol

Calpol is an essential component of any extremely over-protective mummy’s toolkit. Its primary aim is to reduce fever and pain in small children. But as a happy coincidence for mummies, it also tastes delicious; full-bodied, a good balance of sugars and pharmaceuticals, very more-ish.

Once, whilst staring through the window contemplating the atrophying of my aspirations and the utter fucking pointlessness of having treated myself to a higher education, I entered Calpol and gin in a head-to-head taste contest (with myself as adjudicator). Perhaps it was because the gin was a supermarket’s own brand, perhaps it was because the tonic was beyond its best-before date, but Calpol definitely had the edge.

There are two main problems however with administering Calpol: 

    The 5ml spoon. It doesn’t matter how many 5ml spoons you own, when you have a hot screaming infant in your arms, you WON’T be able to find a single one. Trust me. There is no point looking in the usual places, like the cutlery drawer, or the medicine cabinet, or anywhere in the kitchen or bathroom. In fact, the only places worth searching are a) the plastic play-house in the garden; b) the mythological realms of Camelot or Atlantis; or c) any one of the 26 space-time dimensions posited by string theory. Not only will you not be able to find a 5ml medicine spoon, you won't be able to find a normal teaspoon either. In the end you will have to resort to an approximation, using a shell, a tiny plastic ladle from your daughter’s play kitchen, or your bare cupped hand.

    Dosage. The Calpol bottle features instructions on how much medicine you are allowed to give to your child, depending on age. The print is small, the label is busy, but really, it shouldn’t be a problem. But you read it; you forget it; you read it again ... and again ... and again. Basically, it’s like you suddenly have a reading age of about five. Is it a 2.5ml dose, a 5ml dose, or a 7.5 ml dose? And what if your child is bigger than average, sicker than average, or between ages? In the end, you give them a 5ml-ish dose, using the ladle, but quickly realise you should have give them a 2.5 ml-ish dose, using the shell. You google ‘Calpol overdose’, you phone NHS direct, you wait for a doctor to return your call. Three hours later, only slightly reassured, you finish off the spare Calpol bottle (and the own-brand gin) and try to sleep.

What fresh hell is this? Mwa ha ha ha ...

P.S: I was going to start at the beginning of the book, with 'A is for Assholes', which is a personal account of Perineal Lacerations Beyond Imagining, but my partner told me that I talk about assholes too much. As$ho$e. 

P.P.S: My partner is not really an As$ho$e. He is very nice. And patient.

C is for Cats 

Another well-known fact is that cats slaughter hundreds if not thousands of infants every year. Literally.  Their all-time favourite modus operandi is to position themselves over the sleeping body of a newborn baby and suck out all of his or her breath, until death occurs, but, as if that weren't enough, they’re also into chest compression, suffocation, and spraying toxoplasmosis all over the fucking joint.

In short, they have a rap sheet that would sicken even Herod. 

A weight of new evidence suggests that cats may be shapeshifting witches 

I only know this because of my mother, who accompanied me on my way out of hospital, following the birth of my firstborn.

“I’ve been thinking”, she said, turning to me. “About Winnie and Patsy.” (my cats)
“Oh, ok. What about them?” I said.
“Cats can suffocate babies”, she said, suddenly gripping the infant carrier. “So, I’m happy to take them to the vet for you, for, well, you know what. And I’m happy to pay for it. As a Christmas present.”
“You want to kill the cats for me?” I said. “As a Christmas present?”
She looked away from me for a moment, and then nodded, her eyes filling with tears.
“For god’s sake mami, please don’t cry again”, I said, impatiently. “I bought a cat net from Mothercare. It’ll be fine.”
Just then, the baby started crying. I grabbed the infant carrier from my mother’s hand, a little roughly. 
“I can’t believe I’ve got to feed her again!” I said.
“You’ve always hated me”, said my mother, nursing her fingers. “And I’m only trying to help.”

In hindsight, of course, I should have thanked my mother for offering to take the cats to the vet. After all, it wouldn’t have been the easiest of jobs. (“Hey there, Mr Vet, would you mind awfully putting these hell-born fuckers down?” etcetera etcetera) I should have told her that I loved her (which I do). But, in my defence, I had just squeezed a baby out of my front bottom. What's more, I was already ridiculously busy worrying about all the other threats to my infant’s wellbeing, such as formula milk, overheating, dehydration, failure to thrive, co-sleeping, cot bumpers, sunken fontanelles, germs on toys, prolonged use of car seats, dummies, second-hand smoke, Staphylococcus, paint fumes, vaccinations, antibiotics, television, Norovirus, pollution, carbon monoxide, toxic moulds, pesticides, paint fumes, radon, and FUCKING NIPPLE CONFUSION, and I knew it was only a matter of time before my mind darkened under the pressure...


Needless to say I spent the following year or so policing the door of the dining room, where the cats slept. Some nights, I’d worry that the cats might master the door handle, and like Nosferatu, tippytoe silently up the stairs towards the nursery.  Or, I’d obsess over the possibility that they were already upstairs, biding their time in a cupboard, even though I’d already seen them through the glass door, minutes earlier. In my dreams, they took liquid form, like the T-100 in Terminator 2.  They could flow through gaps, and under doors, and do all sorts. The bastards.  In the end, nothing happened. But it could have …  it so easily could have …  miaw ha ha ha … miaw ha ha ha … miaw ha ha ha …. 

PS I dedicate this blog entry to Patsy, who died on Sunday 19 January 2014. Aged 16.

My daughter's elegy. Now in a jam jar above the grave.
PPS: And if you're wondering why there are no reported incidents of cats harming babies, it may well be because of an evil cover-up by a network of witches working undercover in law enforcement. Or not. 

F is for Formula Milk 

The world of food is full of strange unsettling facts, like the fact that Worcestershire sauce is made from dissolved fish guts, or that a jar of peanut butter contains a big bunch of rat hairs, or that infant formula milk (blow me down with a fucking feather ladies, you’re not gonna believe this one) is NOT, I repeat NOT, actually poisonous!!!


I, for one, am a little pissed off. You see, for three months prior to the birth of my first child, I was told that feeding my daughter any kind of formula milk - even as an emergency measure - was exactly the same as feeding her a ginormous bottle of raw sewage. Bottle-feeding, explained the NCT lady, would condemn my daughter to a life of constant shitting (caused by massive gastro-intestinal dysfunction) as well as (prepare to grow pale with fear at this next idea) turn her into a Totally. Fat. Fucking. Dufus.   

So I breastfed.

Within a week or two, one of my nipples hung by a jellied nerve end from my aureole; the other was Missing Presumed Fucked (although, I did find traces of it in a hawked-up fur-ball next to the cat bowl.) My daughter lost close to 10% of her own bodyweight on a weekly basis, whilst I was forced to follow an emergency feeding regime that allowed me to sleep for 20-minute-bursts, day and night, for a month. (Ha ha ha ha ha … ha ha ha ha ha …. please help me…why are there so many talking snakes? please make the scary voices go away mummy, please, I think I’d like to sleep now … ) You know the kind of thing, right, RIGHT? Anyway, after four weeks of this hell, my partner gave our daughter a big fuck-off bottle of formula milk while I slept. When I woke, he fessed up.

My memory is hazy and unclear (and forever compromised by a further eight long years without sleep), so to this day I don’t know exactly what I said. But I think I stood there, on the upstairs landing, with my patchy hair standing on end, and my huge milky tits bobbing up-and-down and from side-to-side, screaming about how the milk supply-and-demand thing was now fucked-up FOR-EV-A. I also mentioned, yeah I’m sure I did, that the baby was mine as well as his … and how he didn’t have the right to give her formula milk a.k.a poison. I may have asked him what he intended to do about the beautiful nutritious milk now curdling in my tits … bespoke milk that my body had lovingly and painstakingly made for OUR baby and was now TOTALLY UNWANTED???  I may have also suggested, just in passing, that I loved our baby more than he did  … and I may have asked other questions, too. Did he at least wash the bottle beforehand in hot soapy water and then sterilise it in the steam sterilizer for twenty minutes? Did he at least use the sterilised tweezers to insert the teat into the bottle? Was the milk at least organic formula milk with a unique blend of prebiotics, was it, WAS IT? And did he definitely use one of those BreastFlow double teats that simulated real nipples, because of the massively underrated but real and present danger of Nipple Confusion? And was the water he used to make up the formula fresh water that had been boiled, and then cooled down to not less than 70 degrees, and had he even considered the risk of constant shitting, or off-the scale cardiovascular disease, or worse still, the hideous neverending shame of our daughter, our precious firstborn, being a regular guest on the Jeremy Kyle show because she was now going to be obese and also mental?

You know how it is girls, right!

To which my partner calmly said, “Formula milk is not actually poisonous.”

Yeah, I know that. Smug motherfucker. 

PS: None of this is to excuse Nestle, who aggressively market formula milk in the developing world, in places where there is not always access to clean water, and in spectacular breach of international marketing standards. They are, unequivocally, bastards. 

N is for Nipples.

Everyone knows that there are two kinds of nipple. 

The first kind of nipple looks like, well, a nipple; it is plump, and pert, and pinky-brown. Men are irresistibly drawn to it.

The second kind of nipple looks like something you might find stuck to the sole of your shoe. Like chewing gum. Or a squashed fruit pastille. The second kind of nipple develops after a woman has breastfed for any extended period of time, i.e, a nanosecond. When your other half, says something like, “Hang on love, you’ve got something stuck to your tit”, you know you have the second kind of nipple.

Once, on an episode of Embarrassing Bodies, which I rarely watch (as my partner will testify) a concerned mother of three made the mistake of showing Dr Christian Jessen her nipples. Dr Christian drew back the curtains (of his hair) and ‘reassured’ her that her “nipples were perfectly allright for someone who had breastfed three children.”

Later, at home, the woman was cross with herself for forgetting to ‘reassure’ Dr Christian Jessen that although he had shit hair, a face that looked like he’d been playing with molten wax, and the personality of an out-and-out knobhead, he had an inimitable bedside manner. 


S is for the Shit You Breathe In 

There was a time, not so long ago, when I didn’t give a fu@k about air quality; a time when I’d gad about the place, breathing normally, like some reckless demi-god. But then, eight weeks after the birth of my Precious First Born, when an opportunity to sleep came my way, my mind suddenly landed on a single, terrifying idea.

Which was this:

What if there is a carbon monoxide leak in the house?


"Salad, darlings? I washed it in Milton's." 

Now, I’m not normally the kind of gal to go into a Blind Fucking Panic for no reason, oh no no no!! *suppresses horrible facial twitches, puts on weirdly superficial grin*. Neither am I the type to worry myself into an early fucking grave about a gazillion things that are all statistically extremely unlikely to happen, whilst at the same time doing precisely NOTHING about any of them. But if I were, these are the kind of thoughts I would have had:

Thought 1: Maybe I should go and live in the shed for the night? Yeah, yeah, coolio. Look, I know it’s minus 22 Celsius outside, and the shed may as well be called The Museum of Fatal Asbestos or The Asbestos Mega-Store or whatever (but with added rats, and bubonic plague, and frickin Weil's disease), but, BUT ... (and this is a key point, kids), if I don’t move us there soon, we will DIE.

Thought 2: Alternatively, I could drive to my parents’ house, which is only 100 miles away? Yeah, perfect. Ok, I know I’ll have to drive there through a thick fog of Satanic darkness, and there’s also a motorway slip road, which together make up two of the worst things in the whole world, if not the entire known universe, but both of them are preferable to CERTAIN DEATH? Right? RIGHT? 

Thought 3:  Or, OR, OR … fuck, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before … I’m a fat dozy cow that’s why … I could just go and knock on the next door neighbour’s door and ask if we could stay the night there instead? Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s what I’ll do!! It’s only 2am, ffs, and surely some things in life, i.e STAYING ALIVE during a carbon monoxide outbreak, are more important than the risk of looking like a fucking lunatic, and being the talk of the village, and then having to move and uproot everyone. Surely? 

Thought 4: Of course, whilst I’m weighing up the pros and cons of shed vs neighbours vs parents' house (which is an unbelievably complex and multi-faceted process, let me tell you), I should, at the very least, ventilate the fuck out of the house by opening all the windows, and probably the doors too. THIS IS THE VERY LEAST I SHOULD FUCKIN DO.  Listen, I know the baby could contract a nasty chill that could then mutate into a hideous secondary infection, I know that, of course I do, but what choice do I have? Eh? EH, EH??  

Etcetera etcetera until dawn (whilst not at any time moving from the bed or taking any kind of purposeful affirmative action.)

Since that night of course, I have been made aware of all sorts of other airborne hazards, which I feel duty-bound to share with you.
  • The Sun. Burny. Carcinogenic. Bastard.
  • Other people breathing over you, fucking outrageous – or worse still, other people breathing over you, whilst also being coated in a toxic layer of hormone-disrupting perfume, especially Impulse.
  • Secondhand smoke. (Look, I know you think you’re being considerate, smoking in the garden n’all, but unless you’re thinking of smoking directly into an extremely powerful north-easterly headwind, in other words, away from my baby, and unless you are also prepared to dump all of your clothes in that wheelie bin over there, and then blast off your epidermis with an industrial pressure washer, you are not touching my baby (or bump). Period.
  • Paint fumes. The woman at customer services at Farrow and Ball didn’t know what the hell I was talking about when I asked her whether any of their paints contained any known teratogens! Fucking hell, you’d think they know the basics.
  • Mould spores. Don’t get me started.
  • Exhaust fumes. To be honest, I found it fairly easy to avoid heavy concentrations of vehicle emissions, particularly whilst I was pregnant. All I’d do was run really quickly past moving cars, holding my breath in. It was no bother, honestly.

Like I said, this isn’t a particularly comprehensive list, and a great majority of you will now be screaming, “What about electricity pylons, and fungus, and pesticides, and particulates?” "And what about the clouds of formaldehyde almost definitely evaporating from my sofa cushions, and the giant plumes of invisible radon gas coming up through the gaps in my floorboards, and … grrrr ... the toxic mould spores in the bathroom that are playing merry hell with my orifices … and all the plastic shit … and ….." 
Hey, it’s not that I’m not listening to you. I just don’t want to come over all loony tunes.

PS: Driving in the dark - Unless you have the spectral range of a frickin racoon, or you own one of those psycho night goggles donned by Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs, I don’t see how it is possible to enjoy night driving. Yes, there is less traffic, which is a big plus, for sure, but on the downside - and I do apologise if I come across as a bit of nit-picker - You Can’t. Fucking. See. 

PPS: As for motorway slip roads, they deserve a whole entry of their own. For now, suffice it to say that one minute you’re driving along a nice country lane singing nursery rhymes to your kids, the next minute, you have less than one septillionth of a second to accelerate to the absolute edge of The Speed-of-Light Barrier, whilst also still singing the nursery rhymes. BLOODY HELL. AS IF I HAVEN’T GOT ENOUGH ON MY PLATE.




  2. Er, nearly finished. I'll just be a sec …. x

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