Wedding dress shopping with my fiancé

This weekend, in a rather unconventional move, I took my fiancé with me to choose my wedding dress. Yes, some of my friends were horrified, “you can’t do that!!!” one shouted at me. When I asked her why, she told me it’s bad luck. Well, we’ve had a hell of a lot of bad luck since we got together and we are stronger than ever, hence the whole getting married thing. I didn’t see that a stupid, age-old superstition was going to make much difference. Not only that, but he is my best friend and his opinion counts more than anybody else’s, it made so much sense to me to take him, almost stupid not to.

We headed to a boutique in York and I picked out three dresses before heading to the fitting rooms with an assistant.

The first dress I tried on, I knew I didn’t like as soon as she began forcing it over my child-bearing hips. More so, I knew Jon would hate it too, it just wasn’t me. But, because the lovely assistant seemed to think it would suit me and because I like wasting everyone’s time, I stood patiently while she tugged at the ribbons holding in my fat bits. I looked like an overweight mermaid; one that should spend less time flirting with sailors on rocks and more time swimming. I stepped out of the fitting room and before the curtain had fully gone back, Jon was shaking his head, “no way,” he said. Alright dick-head, at least be subtle.

So back in the fitting room I once again stood patiently while she released me and I could breath again. Meanwhile, I could hear Jon dishing out fashion advice to other brides-to-be like Salford’s answer to Gok Wan – “it looks lovely Lisa, but do you feel confident?” I heard him say. Jesus. Who am I marrying? “We don’t get many men in here,” the assistant told me, “a few dads, but never grooms”. And it occurred to me, there bloody well should be. Jon’s always one for an honest opinion and I could tell the other soon-to-be wives appreciated a man’s view on what she would be wearing for her big day.

The second dress I tried on, although beautiful, wasn’t me either. It was too floaty and as Jon said, I looked like a fairy. So dress number three, I loved. I came out and Jon’s face lit up. I spent ages twirling around in it in front of the mirror before deciding that we’d leave for lunch, have a think and come back. Jon was hungover as hell from our gin-drinking session at home the evening before and was desperate for a panini.

“Is it the one?” he asked me when we left. “I think so, but I really wanted you to cry when you saw it,” I told him. “Darling, I’m so hungover and dehydrated, I couldn’t force out a single tear even if I wanted to,” he replied. So, we spent the next hour discussing ‘the dress’ before heading back to the boutique for me to try it on again. Back in the fitting room with the dress on, I felt something was missing. I don’t want to give away what it was but once I’d added that something, I knew it was the dress for me. I headed out of the fitting room and, thanks to him having rehydrated with a bottle of Evian and a Coke from Greggs, or perhaps because I’d moaned about it, I got my tear. “You look beautiful” he told me welling up, and I wanted to cry too. “SOLD,” I told the assistant. More tears from Jon once he’d seen the price tag and we were on our way with one beautiful wedding dress.

“When I woke up this morning I didn’t think I’d be buying my wedding dress,” I told him on the way home. “When I woke up this morning I wanted to fucking die,” he replied. True love, right there.

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Our move to the countryside

When I was eight months pregnant, we decided the best thing we could do at this relaxing time would be to move house. So we did. And we moved to the countryside. I remember the conversation in Asda cafe over a three quid jacket potato:

Me: “Shall we move to a village?”

Jon: “Yeah, ok.”

We moved into the first house we looked around just a few weeks later making it the most spontaneous decision we’ve ever made.

We were both sceptical at first, particularly Jon, who grew up in Salford and spent his youth wearing his trackies tucked into his socks and walking around like Liam Gallagher. “I don’t know if I’m cut out for village life,” he said worriedly. “Where do you think the nearest Nandos is?”

However, our ridiculously stupid punt paid off – we love living here. We’ve made loads of new friends and we don’t even miss the 24 hour Tesco (one of our biggest concerns).

Here are 14 things I’ve learned living in the countryside:

1. Everyone drives a Range Rover.

2. When people smile at you, it’s because they are nice, NOT because they’ve spotted your iPhone and are about it nick it.

3. Nobody keeps sofas or broken fridges in the front garden.

4. The village shop is a necessity – from dog chews and nail clippers to greetings cards and wine, it stocks all the essentials.

5. It stinks of shit, literally.

6. The kids now know the difference between a horse and a sheep.

7. The village pub is full of gossip and broken dreams.

8. You can’t scratch your arse without everyone knowing.

9. I know what a boot room is.

10. I need a boot room.

11. Waking up to birdsong is way more relaxing than waking up to the chavs up the road chucking bricks at each other.

12. Wherever you’re going, you’re going to get stuck behind a tractor.

13. It’s safe to walk home drunk at midnight (I hope).

14. The great outdoors really is great.

My boy loves ballet!

The look of horror when I told my dad his precious grandson was going to ballet, and loving it, was en pointe. Because my dad, a Yorkshire man to the core, who will happily sit in front of Sky Sports all day long watching men play with balls, couldn’t believe that his boy grandchild could ever dream of ‘prancing about like a ******”. “I thought he liked going to football?” he said, genuinely confused that he might like to do both. “I do, Grandad, but ballet is FAB,” said Leo, as he minced off to play with his pram. My dad, bless his heart, was lost for words. He simply sat blank-staring with a puzzled look on his face, shaking his head, obviously thinking of all the horrors that would befall Leo should he want to keep going. Not that he would ever love him any less.

Leo has begged me to go to ballet for months, so when I found a class locally, I signed him up without a second thought. When we arrived, he was the only boy in a sea of girls, all wearing pastel coloured tutus. It looked like an explosion in a candy floss factory and I honestly thought Leo was going to run a mile, hell, I almost did. But he wandered off without even saying goodbye and I left with my friend for one precious hour to go consume calories I really shouldn’t be eating in an over-priced coffee shop. To be fair, as I sat eating my massive slab of cake, it did cross my mind that if Leo didn’t want to go again, I’d probably force him any way. The £7 class fee is an absolute bargain for an hour off on a Friday afternoon. As it happens, when we went back to collect them, Leo was practicing pointing his toes and balancing with a massive grin on his face. At the end of the session, the tutor told me she hoped Leo wasn’t put off being the only boy and that he’d done fantastic; she told Leo that even the England squad had taken ballet to strengthen their muscles and help with their coordination – not that it’s ever made them win anything but the sentiment was there.

I’m not a pushy parent. Okay, I may have made him watch the stunning performance by the 14-year-old male ballet dancer on Britain’s Got Talent a few weeks ago whilst constantly repeating ‘look Leo, that could be you one day’ and day-dreaming about him starring in the West End, but I’ll always let my boys choose their own paths. If a career in dance lies ahead for Leo I’d be proud as punch. Equally, if he chooses to be a ‘sweep roader’, ‘bin men’, ‘Fireman Sam’ or one of the dogs off Paw Patrol, which are his current ambitions so he can save enough pennies to take me to Wetherspoons for my dinner, I’ll be just as proud.

I was prompted to start this blog for a number of reasons. Firstly, because on more than one occasion this week I have fancied a gin and tonic for my tea. Not with my tea… FOR my tea.

Secondly, because of a conversation I had with my fiancé last week, who told me I ‘seemed stressed’ and like I ‘wasn’t enjoying my maternity leave’. A fair point – I’ve got a seven week old baby who loves to snore throughout the night but sleep silently in the day, an amazing but demanding four year old with an overactive imagination and the fiancé himself, who made these comments after he’d been working away for two days straight leaving me home alone with no sleep… for two days straight.

And thirdly, because I’m fed up of being judged for wanting to work (I’m self employed) and not wanting to sit cooing and listening to nursery rhymes all day.

Apparently I should want to go to baby massage and ‘bond’ with my son. I did all that with my first son and I fucking hated it. Baby massage, in all its varying forms, is a breeding ground for judgemental mums – the kind that make you feel shit for not breast feeding and not carrying your baby around in an organic cotton sling (I realise this is me judging them, the irony is not lost on me). I can massage my baby’s legs in the comfort of my own home if I want to. “You can make some new friends,”  I was told. I’m alright with the ones I’ve got, thanks – besides, Phil and Holly are on until half 12 and they aren’t going to look me up and down for shoving a dummy in baby’s mouth to shut him up. “Elliott will make some friends,” this unnamed person persisted. HE’S SEVEN WEEKS OLD – yesterday he stared at a reflection on the tv screen for 20 minutes before doing a shit and falling asleep, I’m not sure he’s that arsed about expanding his social circle just yet.

And yes, I do want to work. Elliott, as lovely and as beautiful as he is, is pretty boring. He spends most of the day sleeping, shitting or making himself go cross-eyed – there’s no reason at all why I shouldn’t work. Elliott isn’t suffering because of this. He is a happy, content baby who’s smile makes me melt. I write for a living and it keeps me sane, it’s my post-natal mind workout – it pushes out the mind-numbing tinkly tune of Elliott’s play mat and makes me feel refreshed and ready for when he wakes up and gives me his gummy smile before screaming for his bottle.

The truth is being a parent isn’t always fun. Sometimes it’s a bit shit. Sometimes you’d like to go a day without having to wipe sick off your top or playing ‘family sharks’ (my eldest son’s new favourite game, whereby I have to pretend to be the mummy shark and save ‘Monkey Fireman Sam’ -WTF??). And you know what, I think it’s ok to feel pissed off sometimes; it’s unrealistic to expect it all to be a bed of roses. There’s always going to be those mums on Facebook who has ‘lovesbeingamummy’ as her middle name, as if you love your children any less because you’ve kept your actual name. There’s always going to be the smug ones that attend every playgroup going and absolutely love every minute of their maternity leave and dread going back to work, making you question whether you’re a shit mum because that’s not how you feel. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my children and wouldn’t change a thing, they are my whole world. But there’s nothing fun about getting yellow poo under your fingernails or getting piddled in the face; and sometimes no matter how quickly you try to change the nappy… you’re going to get pissed on.