Archives for July 2013

Silent Sunday





Mums making an exhibition of ourselves

Story of Mum is an inspirational home for creative mums. This website shares words, photos, film and audio from mums, grandmas and great-grandmas worldwide, to create a global portrait of motherhood. This Virtual exhibition, ‘Story of Mum: Making an exhibition of ourselves,’ brings together Story of Mum and UK parent blogging community BritMums, to share the stories of Mums around the world.

I was honoured to have been asked to host a mini virtual exhibition as part of this worldwide tour. All hosts have been asked to choose one item from the exhibition so far, create one item and share their thoughts on motherhood and identity. So here’s my offering!

I curated this…

As a poet, I couldn’t not do something with the word submitted as part of the giant collaborative ‘Mum’ poem. I did submit to this poem but none of the words used below are my own – so the poem is an anonymous collective consciousness of parents talking about what it is to be a mother.

Warrior worrier

Life giver
Milk maker
Nappy changer

Secret biscuit eater
Twitter addicted tea drinker

Bump kisser
Wet wiper
Nightmare comforter

An individual in her own right

Rule maker
Occasional chocolate briber
nit picker

Gentle protector
Excited explorer and amazed follower
Sleep watcher

hand holder
pram pusher
warrior worrier.

You can still add to the main poem if you feel so inspired. If you’re in London on 18 October, you might want to head along to the Story of Mum make date that evening to hear the wonderful Hollie McNish share her version!

I know I’m only supposed to curate one thing, but…

This image in the Mama Mash-up gallery grabbed me. I wasn’t sure whether I liked it at first but something made me go back and look again. The image grew on me.

I love the title. It sums up Motherhood perfectly, for me. Yes, it’s boring (I love that one of the images is a washing machine. So apt)… It’s also beautiful.

Tedious and Terrific

Tedious and Terrific

I created this…

Motherhood and identity. It’s a big one.

mum_and_still_meI have blogged about this already as part of the exhibition but before I share my post, I’ve had some further thoughts about identity in general… Of course becoming a parent has a massive impact on our lives but does it always change the way we identify ourselves? To our children, of course we are ‘Mum/Mummy/Mama’ but we don’t become mothers to anyone but our children (we would hope. I know there are children who parent their parents and partners who do the same but that’s a whole separate blog post. Let’s pretend we all have healthy balanced relationships for the purposes of this one). This is one of the reasons I always feel a little uncomfortable when my son’s nursery keyworkers refer to me as ‘Mum.’ As in: ‘Hello Mum, have you had a nice day?’ I get why they do it, even though they know our names, but still. I know I’m not the only parent who feels a bit weird about it (the dads I’ve spoken to don’t like it either). I want to be ‘Rachael’ to anyone except Mushroom, really…. Because there’s so much more to all of us than being a parent. For me, figuring out who I am is a lifelong journey. I know myself much better now that I did at 20, for example (I’m thirty- *coughs* now). Yes, I’m a Mum. I’m also a communications professional, a writer, a life coach, friend, sister, wife… I’m sure you can all add several ‘titles’ to your identity. And there’s always more to come, isn’t there? It’s not set in stone; we can all change at any time. So for me the only truths that won’t change are these: I’m a Mum…. And I’m still Me.


If you’re interested in hosting a virtual exhibition, or would simply like to head over to see what other hosts have curated and created so far, click on the image above.


Silent Sunday




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Mushroom the Menace (a visit to Beanotown)

In my last post, Meeting Miriam, I talked about spending family time with Mushroom and Mr B that afternoon. Wondering what we did? Well…

Once we’d had lunch (with Mushroom sitting in the awesome ‘clip-on’ highhair at Wagamama), we wondered along the South Bank, pointing and boats and checking out the street art and entertainment.

Mr B helps Mushroom work out which doorbells will ring in this art installation.

Mr B helps Mushroom work out which doorbells will ring in this art installation.

I had noticed a big photo of Dennis the Menace earlier so we decided to go and see what that was all about.

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Well, we discovered ‘Beanotown,’ an exhibition celebrating 75 years of the UK’s favourite comic. The Beano was early reading material for me and I thought the characters would appeal to Mushroom so we headed down ‘Bash Street’ to find out what it was all about.

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While Mr B wandered around looking at the old comics and some of the Beano memoribilia (which included customised DMs and a guitar at which Mushroom kept shouting  ‘I want it!’ as he banged on the glass case!), Mushroom ran ahead to say hello to Gnasher.

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He got upset when Gnasher came out of his kennel (with my helping hands) and ran up some steps to hide. Here he discovered a room where he could draw on the walls! He was hesitant at first but soon got creative…

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After a while we heard music coming from the ‘Creative Masterclass’ room so we went to investigate and found a party going on. Kids of all ages (up to about 10 on that day) were playing party games and dancing to music provided by an online radio station. Mushroom loved the dancing and gave the ‘Gangnam style’ dance competition his best shot, copying the moves from the older boy who eventually won.

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All of this excitement was topped off with a smarties ice-cream (how do you get the smarties out at the end? Anyone?) on the way home. We had no idea what we were going to do when Mr B met us and were toying with the idea of the Aquarium or the London Eye, both of which had hideous queues. We ended up having a great time at this completely free event, and I highly recommend it for both big and little kids!

Beanotown is part of the Southbank Centre’s Festival of Neighbourhood series. It’s free and runs until 8 September. It’s open from 11am to 7pm.


Disclosure: This is not a paid review, just my thoughts on a great day out that you might enjoy! Read my full PR and disclosure policy here. 


Meeting Miriam

Mushroom and I had a very exciting day over the weekend, when we headed over to London’s South Bank to meet with fellow blogger Miriam Drori. Miriam starting writing when she found out about Social Anxiety* and realized that the symptoms of this condition described her feelings exactly.  She started her blog, An’ de walls came tumblin’ down in 2009 to raise awareness of social anxiety and since then she’s ventured into fiction writing, having written several short stories (read one of them here), one of which was published in 100 Stories for Queensland. Before this, Miriam was a computer programmer and then a technical writer. She lives in Israel and this also informs her writing.  She is currently writing her memoirs. Do pop over to her blog to say hello!
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We met outside the London Eye, with Mushroom and I arriving around 15 minutes late due to signaling failure on the Jubilee line. I felt bad but Miriam was generous about having waited. I felt a little awkward at first because, having never met in person before, I wasn’t sure whether to go for a handshake or a hug but once I had admitted this, the tension eased (for me, I can’t say how Miriam was feeling at that point). Miriam had bought presents from home for us, which was a lovely surprise! I got this beautiful piece of hand painted Armenian pottery:
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and Mushroom got a magic flannel, which he didn’t fully appreciate until bathtime that evening!

Mushroom admires his magic flannel

Mushroom admires his magic flannel

While running around after Mushroom in the recently opened Jubilee Gardens, Miriam told me a bit about all the exciting things she has planned during her visit… Spending time with family, meeting up with old friends from university, meeting fellow bloggers and – the main reason for her visit – a five day residential writing course! Once we got into conversation, I felt fairly relaxed except when Miriam told me about a family connection to a famous author whose name I didn’t recognise and I didn’t admit this straight away, thinking it would come to me later (and I didn’t want to look stupid… Although I realize now that I managed to anyway). I did worry about this a  bit when I got home, hoping Miriam didn’t think I was an idiot. I’m sure she didn’t but this mild paranoia did make me wonder if this, in a very small way, gave me a taste of what it might be like to live with social anxiety.

The rest of the morning was led by Mushroom. As we watched him play, we talked about about parenting – Miriam’s children are now all in their 20s but the early years never seem far away when you look back – and getting the balance right between keeping them safe and being overprotective,  siblings  – when I was young, I always wanted a big brother. I have one brother and sister, both younger (and my brother is now bigger than me!) but Miriam, who has a brother 11 years older then her, always wished for a sibling closer in age.

After a while we spotted some giant bubbles over by the river. When I showed Mushroom he got very excited so we headed over to see them close up.

Giant bubbles

Once he’d worked out that giving money meant more bubbles, he kept running back to me shouting ‘money please!’ I let him go back and forth for a little while and while he chased the bubbles, Miriam asked me if I’d ever met a fellow blogger before. I had to think about it but I realised that apart from those I already knew, the answer was ‘no.’ We talked about why, despite living in the same country as most of the bloggers I follow, I hadn’t done and I guess the thought hadn’t really occurred to me in the way it might have done if I were travelling. It gave me food for thought and I talked about BritMums Live and how I was considering going next year to meet fellow bloggers. We then talked about BlogHer, which I don’t know too much about, and how all of these blogging conferences seem to be aimed at women. Is there a BlogHim? I couldn’t find anything like it when I did a quick search so perhaps that’s a subject for a future blog post!

As it got closer to lunchtime, after which Mr B was coming to spend some family time with me and Mushroom, we starting walking towards the Jubilee bridge so that Miriam could get to the Strand for a bit of shopping. On the way, we passed a carousel and a little old-fashioned car ride. Mushroom said he wanted to go in it but I wasn’t sure as whenever we’ve attempted these rides in the past he’s cried as soon as it moved. I took the chance, having checked that it would be ok to take him off once it started (I was assured it goes slowly and is stopped if a child is in distress), I bought a token and he took his place in the driving seat and we fastened his seatbelt. Once it started, he had such a look of intense concentration on his face as he steered his way around the circular track. He didn’t cry at all…. Until it stopped and I took him out! That was his cue for a nap so we walked on to the bridge, said goodbye to Miriam (well I did, Mushroom screamed ‘No!’ but did manage a weak smile and a wave… as she walked away!). Mushroom finally fell asleep in his buggy as we walked along the Thames watching the boats.

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So it was a day for firsts for us both! I met a fellow blogger for the first time and Mushroom went on, and stayed on, a fairground ride without crying. Perhaps Miriam had a calming effect on him. I certainly enjoyed my time with her and am looking forward to meeting up with her again next year!

[Miriam apologises for not being able to respond to this post – although there is no need! – as she is busy with her exciting adventures for the next month. Remember to check back on her blog then to see what else she’s been up to!]

*You can find out more about Miriam, and social anxiety, in this interview, from my Ordinary People series over at Honest Speaks.

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