Frumpy mummy or yummy mummy?

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Many mums I know admit to being more frumpy mummy than yummy mummy – a phrase I am not the greatest fan of.  But, before I tar all mum’s with the same brush , there’s a valid reason why every-day mums don’t grace the front pages of Vogue…practicality over vanity!

Once your beautiful baby pops out , you no longer become a slave to fashion, but a slave to your bundle of joy. Loose fitting trousers seem a wonderful alternative to tight, brilliant white Ralph Lauren jeans. Rather than wearing make up to accentuate your eyes, we’re more likely to wear concealer to hide the dark bags resulting from sleep deprivation .

As much as it would be wonderful to wear the latest en-trend Jimmy Choos, pushing a buggy in 6 inch heels, isn’t easy. Mums also have fewer incentives to dress up , picking up your children from the school gates doesn’t really warrant raiding your wardrobe for a trendy pencil skirt and racy-lacy blouse.

Although once, I did decide to make an effort and wore a dress , but when I turned up to the school gates, I was regarded as an imposter. I faced a barrage of questions, was it my Birthday or had I been to a job interview? The real answer was I fancied a change. After feeling far too conspicuous I rushed home and changed into my familiar, comfortable jeans.

I find throughout the day, my once fresh laundered top becomes un-recognisable. I’ve often left the house sporting a yoghurt-splattered top. But mum’s are great, they don’t point it out, because they’ve been there too. Some days it’s an achievement to walk out of the door with brushed hair, not to mention a dressed child.

The lack of “me-time” is another issue against us mums being style icons. We don’t have time to coiffure our hair or colour co-ordinate our nails with our handbag – which incidentally , after becoming a mum metamorphoses into a huge, ugly nappy bag. Now, as I step over the threshold of a hairdressers , it’s to cut my daughter’s fringe rather than treating myself to a new hair-do.

It’s all very well for celebrity mums with glossy hair and designer clothes looking great because they have a team of stylists paid to make them look perfect. Back in the real world, we wake up at ridiculous O’clock and grab the first thing we see. For me, it’s a T-shirt  and jeans rather than a gold Stella McCartney trouser suit.

So, there you have it fellow mums. I am sure some of us may argue they are dedicated followers of fashion and that’s great, but when it comes to wearing the latest trends, I don’t think I am alone in admitting I have lost my way.

I firmly believe it’s not what you wear, but how you wear it. If you can find a bag which matches your pram – you have style!

The other life…

I am having an identity crisis, I am not Catherine, I am “Harry’s and Lucy’s mum”. As a full-time mum, I’ve discovered we are often defined by our off-spring. Embarrassingly, there are mums I see every day and don’t know their name, but I know their child’s! So it’s no wonder we mums have an identity crisis! 

 But here’s a curious thing – before children, most of us had another life. After having babies, our identities become blurred, and we forget who we once were. When talking to other mothers we always seem to gravitate towards the subject of our children..nappies…puree…tantrums and the list goes on.

 When I was young, free and single (about 10 years ago) I worked as a roving reporter in Hong Kong. Sometimes, when I am scraping lumpy yogurt off the kitchen floor, I have a flashback to my former care-free life. This doesn’t mean I crave it because I don’t.  I feel very fortunate to have two wonderful children who enrich my life enormously. However, when I am singing a very animated version of “The Wheels on the Bus” I can’t help but laugh and think if my glamorous, former colleagues could see me now!

 At the local nursery gates, you can drop your child off every day and never realise that the disheveled mum in scruffy trainers used to be a high-heeled high-flying city lawyer.  I would love to ask every mum at my daughter’s pre-school what they did in their secret “other life.”

 My current ‘employers’ are an opinionated four-year old and a strong-willed two year-old, sometimes we have a power struggle over who’s really in charge. Lucy once asked me if I had a job and I replied: “Looking after you”. But I don’t feel worthy to call it a job because I don’t work 9 to 5, commute, earn wages, gossip at the water-cooler or get a proper lunch break! 

 Before I was a mum, at parties, when asked my job, eyes lit up when I said I was a journalist. “How exciting!” they gasped. Now, when asked, I reply, “A mum,” and eyes wander over to the celery sticks and humus.

 Being a full-time mum is both rewarding and challenging – a job like no other. We’re in a privileged position and full-time working mothers may envy us. However, we mustn’t forget who we were. I am going to make more effort to remember the woman pushing a pram isn’t just a mum, but someone who had another identity. Maybe we could talk more about our other life and we may realise we have more in common than just our children

Moving on…

Very un-originally, I moved from South West London with my husband and two children and three goldfish because we wanted to swap the hustle and bustle for a calmer , semi-rural existence.

We rented for six months in a new house where the landlady inspected for dust with white gloves and with a straight face she handed us a DVD of the inside of the oven. The fascinated DVD, which sadly, is not on general release, showed us how clean the oven should be when we moved out. If ever there were warning signs to head for the hills – that was it.

After 6 months of being terrified of making any mess, I won’t mention the iron burn on the carpet or the crayon cat scribble on the wall…we bought a family house – that’s the good news, the bad news is we had to pack up our belongings – again.

On the plus side, moving is a great excuse to de-clutter especially with the mountain of pink and blue plastic fantastic my children had accumulated. My two children, have far too many toys languishing in their toy box. I had a plan, I decided to wait for both of them to be at school, while I sorted out their toys. I mean how hard can it be?

I used to think one teddy was enough, but I was reliably informed by a pre-school teacher, that when holding a teddy bear’s picnic, you need more than one teddy to attend – something I had never thought of. So, I kept Big Ted, Little and Medium-sized Ted, but couldn’t justify average sized teddy so he flew into the charity bag.

I also discovered a box of tiny, white baby grows, which had been worn when my babies were just a few days old. I know it’s ridiculous, but I wasn’t ready to let them go – yet. Toys I had less attachment to, but these perfect, tiny, cotton baby grows held some very special memories.

After rooting around for a few hours, I was delighted with the mound of toys I had accumulated, pencils with no lead, toys with annoying sounds and a pair of wonky fairy wings. Other rejects included scary plastic dolls with no souls and books that had never been loved and a collection of  touch and feel books ..That’s not my…mosquito, Amex card, fault! I proudly packed the toys in a bag ready to go to the charity shop and felt quite satisfied. That is until my daughter Lucy came back.

With hawk-eye precision, she made a bee line for the bag: “Are these for me, just me?”Every and I mean every toy was gleefully and ceremoniously pulled out of the bag, each with a new compliment. “I was wondering where this teddy had gone, I LOVE him. He is my most favourite.” She even thanked me for sorting out her toys. My secret top-secret mission to de-clutter was blown.

Oh dear, what’s a mum to do? Lucy hadn’t taken any notice of these toys – until TODAY! So, I did the only thing I could do, with a clear conscience and heavy heart I sorted out my own bursting at the seams wardrobe. There was one thing I managed to throw away and that was the oven DVD!