Mama Guilt, Freddie and George

I cried in the little kitchen in my office the other day while making a cup of tea. A woman asked me how I was feeling about coming back to work. This was not the first time anyone has asked this, I still get it a couple of times a week, and I use to say I feel ‘liberated,’or ‘going back to work makes me a better mother,’ but this time I just said ‘guilty’ and started to cry. And luckily the woman who asked me knew just what to do- she gave me a hug, tissue and told me from experience how well it worked out for her family. But if I am being really honest with myself, guilt is still all I feel when I walk out the door at 7 in the morning. Normally Freddie is crying, its dark and its raining because it’s England. Maybe if I had fairy godmothers and talking animals throwing glitter and cheering me on saying something like ‘work it girl,’ I would feel differently. It’s not getting easier, it’s getting more difficult so I don’t know what to say to those of you who tell me it gets easier. That’s just not happening for me.


But I do want to thank each and every one of you who have offered me a hug, a story and a shoulder about going back to work and just motherhood in general. I had so many women reach out after my last post about my worries of going back to work, it made me realise that the sisterhood is real. We may all decide to parent differently, but when it comes to loving on our kids and leaving them, well in that respect, we are all the same.


So besides feeling this deep and damning sense of guilt, what else is happening?


Freddie turned one. We’ve decided that this milestone is one that is more exciting for us than it is for him. We figure we can get away with another year of not making a big deal out of his birthday, so we got the kid a balloon, made a cake and called it a day. We won’t celebrate his birthday until the year he can say sing the birthday song. We may not be in the running for parents of the year, but we are helping him have realistic expectations of his January birthday. Everyone knows January birthday kids have it rough, being just after Christmas and in the middle of cold and flu season, generally kids January birthday parties are underwhelming with everyone cancelling at the last minute. When you grow up it gets even worse, everyone is skint after Christmas and there is buzz kill called ‘dry January,’ created by your liver, which ruins any amount of fun you may have in January. So while we may be the first people to give him a low key birthday party, we definitely won’t be the last.

Freddie had his naming and it was the most beautiful thing we have ever done. No truly. We might suck at birthdays, but I am so glad we gave the boy a proper naming (think Christianing or Baptism, but in Judaism it is when you receive your Jewish name).Freddie loves a platform and he thought the entire congregation was there for his naming. He said things like ‘ow’ when they handed him a teddy bear and tried to give the Rabbi a cuddle. He was the best and most sweetest baby there ever was, and I read the most beautiful words about creation and prayers for him. After his monologue, the kids played in the lobby of the synagogue while services continued, and every once in a while you would hear Freddie yelp with excitement and the Rabbi would comment. Afterwards we drank wine and went to a local Chinese to celebrate Freddie ‘Solomon’ Simmons Durrant. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and we are very lucky with our village people. Our village spoilt and loves on Freddie hard, and I hope one day he realises how lucky he is. Seriously, Freddie’s naming was one of the best evenings of my life.


And finally, we started a new project. Abe part II, aka George. This one is a doozy, it is smack in the middle of Canterbury, was built in 1795 and most likely hasn’t really been renovated since then. In some ways this is great, it still has the original panelling and fireplaces, in others it’s not so great- every room needs replastering, every ceiling needs taking down before it falls down. Did I mention the leaky roof? It is messy, but when the mess gets cleared and they start putting it back together I am going to fluff this Georgian up. I’m going bigger and bolder with colours, because why not- I think you can get away with more with age, and since George is over 200 years old, he can get away with almost anything (just not crocs). Move in date is set for the 7th of March- I have every faith in Will and the dream team, not much faith in the leaky roof, and still upset he did’t let me ride that lift. IMG_7058

All The Feelings You Feel As a Mum Going Back to Work

I go back to work next month. First of all let’s get the giggles out of the way, yes I’ve had a year off to raise my little guy. No I’ve not been on ‘a vacation,’ you wouldn’t call having a major operation, shit up your arm and sleepless nights (and not for the fun reason) a vacation. Ok, maybe it does sound like a stag. You got me.

I’ve been helping Freddie grow into a tiny person all year long. And this tiny person will one day be a big person who can make his own decisions and run his own life. But for this past year, it has been mostly just us bumming around, crying, giggling and pulling faces. Every little trick is a milestone and I didn’t want to miss any of it.  And I love him, and I love this, but as he becomes less dependent on me and ventures out into the big wide world, I also need to keep a foot in my own grownup world. For my own happiness and sense of self.

Upside down baby

So what will my first week be like? I am sure there will be guilt, there will be tears, there will be wine. I will not be the same person I was at work before Freddie. I can’t be. I see the world completely differently since having him, every emotion is so much stronger. I love harder. I cry harder. I am more political and easily moved by risky events. Movies I watched before having Freddie that meant nothing, all of a sudden have me in floods of tears. I am more confident in myself and need to have a voice so I can speak up for Freddie.  This is motherhood and nothing can prepare you for it.

6 months

Luckily for me, I find real value in my work and my studying. Both things make me a better mother.  A more sane mother. But this thing called mom guilt is real, and society has a way of making us think that if we aren’t staying at home making little fairy cakes with our children we are bad moms and if we aren’t back at work making money to buy our children i-pads we are bad moms.  Basically, you’re selfish and have always made the wrong choice if you are a mother in the West.


I have always been ambitious and hard on myself. Basically that just means I am female. The whole thing though about having a baby is that while you may be just as ambitious and more productive, doors close, you are a sitting duck between babies and your male and non-pregnant colleagues have continued to race up that career ladder while you reproduce and rear offspring. I’m watching my friends and myself struggle with this. The balance between career and family is so tough and one that every family makes differently.

One thing I know is that  the ‘baby brain’ thing is legit- but not in the way everyone thinks. You can’t finish a sentence for months after having a baby, not because you’ve lost half your brain, but because you are learning to think for yourself and your baby. You are learning a new language and tuning in to someone else full time. That shit is hard and takes lots of concentration in the beginning, soon though it becomes second nature. What I don’t know is how that works when you are away from your little one. Will baby brain make me easily distracted and feel guilty because I am not with him? Will not having baby brain, or enjoying my time at work away from him make me a bad mother?


I have been obsessing over how it will be when I go back, how many hours I want to work, how will it affect Freddie, what I want to do while away from him for months. And I guess like everything so far with motherhood, you can’t guess how you will feel until you experience it. Oh the feelings you feel as a Mum. If you could bottle this much emotion and just release it every once in a while before major decisions are made in the world, there would be no such thing as war, genocide or Miley Cyrus.

Its’ the End of Abe As We Know Her

Well, the time has come. It’s the end of an era and the start of a new chapter. We finished Abe (or Abe finished us) over the summer and are in the process of selling this big beautiful queen.

We are so proud of all we got through with this one. I intend on doing a before and after post for every room, just to help us document and remember everything that we went through (although some days we’d like to forget). Abe was a real labour of love, leaks and learning. I think we learned just as much about each other, as we did about putting a home together.

Luckily, at the end of it all, not only is Abe in much better shape, but so is our relationship. I mean, we made a baby during the process, so that’s got to tell us it wasn’t all ‘The Money Pit’ and there was still a bit of ‘The Notebook’ involved.  Although I promise you, if he ever dumps cement in the toilet again, this would not be the case.

26 Cleave Road bedroom226 Cleave Road bedroom126 Cleave Road bedroom326 Cleave Road ground floor bathroom26 Cleave Road dining room 26 Cleave Road first floor bathroom 26 Cleave Road garden1 26 Cleave Road kitchen diner 26 Cleave Road kitchen 26 Cleave Road lounge1 26 Cleave Road lounge2 26 Cleave Road main

All pictures from David Rannard

We both think the living room is our favourite room, although the kitchen is superb and comes a close second. We spend most of our time in the kitchen and love it when we fill it up with friends and family who are very good at chatting and drinking away the evenings with us.

But onwards and upwards, we are on the prowl for our next Abe. We want another home to do up, this time in Canterbury near Will’s shop, so that he can see more of Freddie.

What….. you didn’t think we would stop now? We are just getting started.