Friday 27 September 2019

Perfect Parenting

Ha, made you look. There's no such thing as perfect parenting, silly billy. 

I've come to the conclusion that parenting is mostly about putting another human being to sleep. We're basically a really rubbish kind of chloroform. Rubbish because we're not very efficient.

Above: Unsuccessful putting to sleep of a baby. Note, baby has grabbed aircon control. 

I spend at least two hours a day putting my little human to sleep. It's even worse when she's under the weather. I've got a blister on my nipple from my little human not wanting to let go of me. She used to be fine. Feed, feed, feed, bye mum. Nowadays she clings on to me like wet sand.

She'll be snoring in my arms, and I'll lean over the cot to lower her down, and she'll wake up enough to dig her talons (cutting toddler's nails is hard!), clutching me like a bald eagle would a defenceless lamb. I'm the defenceless lamb bleating mournfully, "please let me go, I need to wash the dishes!"

Someone said she's clingy because she's intuiting I'm not going to be breastfeeding her much longer. That's news to me. I haven't formulated that intention, so I think what that person really means to say is: I don't think you should STILL be breastfeeding!  

Judgment is rife in parenting. I don't get involved.  I mean, you're all doing it wrong. I'm obviously nailing it. I've got a nipple blister to prove it. It's basically the official badge of the mothering elite.

Oh dear, there's going to be someone who takes this seriously. I can hear their voice: Oh, so you think you're better because you breastfeed blablabla... No. I wanted to avoid having to get up in the middle of the night to make a bottle and worse, to then have to wash the bottle. And dry the bottle. You know when you put Tupperware in the dishwasher.... isn't it so annoying how it always comes out so, so wet? I imagine that's the same with bottles. I could be wrong.  

Anyway, lighten up. What's your problem? Didn't your baby sleep?

Oh, they didn't? Fair enough.

I promised my best friend that I wouldn't get boring when I had a baby. I've broken that promise. I'm blogging about napping.  God bless everyone who has twins. May you always remember where you put your house keys, and have them to hand when you're juggling two babies at the front door.

Right. It's 9.26pm. I've got hours of sleep to catch up on. Good night!

Check out my latest book The Pregnancy Diaries - a personal and positive account of pregnancy and childbirth. Available in ebook and paperback!

Saturday 17 August 2019

Terrible news for a writer mum...

My typing wakes up the baby.

Hoover is fine. Leaf-blowing is fine. Revving up a motorbike repeatedly (I hate you, whoever you are) is fine.

Typing, not fine.

When I was eight months pregnant, we moved to the flat next door. It had one more room, which became my office. An office beside the baby's room. Perfect. A sunny, cool, uncluttered room where I could snatch moments to write while my little one snored softly in her crib next door.

I typed like mad while I was pregnant. I wanted to finish my novel before my due date. Perhaps the sound now reminds my baby of humbler times, when she lived in a cramped flat and survived on a liquid diet.  

"What are you doing out here?" my husband said, when he discovered me writing on the terrace one early morning, "you have a wonderful office now."

I thought of my big white desk, my notebooks within reach, my selection of biros, my view of the pine trees. Was my typing really waking her up? Or, was I just being paranoid?
I returned to my office and began to type:

C-H-A -(I heard a stirring...) P-T-E-R ( faint mewling) O-N-E (loud cry)

I stopped typing. Silence. 

I picked up my laptop, charger, notebook, biro, phone, cup of tea and tiptoed down the corridor, passed her room and out onto the terrace. The cicadas buzzed, the leaf-blower grumbled, the motorbike revved, baby snored, I typed and all was well in the world again. When it comes to writing dreams and babies, you have to adapt to survive!


Pregnant and looking for a positive account of pregnancy and childbirth? Check out the diary I kept while I was pregnant! It's available from Amazon. 


Tuesday 30 July 2019

Oh hello, Ambition. We meet again.

I feel it in the pit of my stomach. The fiery flicker of ambition. I haven't felt it for a while. Depending on how it manifests, it's not always that helpful.

If ambition makes me feel like I should be doing something other than what I'm doing (playing with the baby, feeding her, hanging out the nappies...), then it's no good to me. It only creates anxiety.  I gave up anxiety when I moved to Mallorca

Impatience is a waste of energy too. This writing journey isn't a sprint, so I need to remember to sit comfortably.

I finished my fourth novel (sixth book) last week. That's why I'm feeling like this. It's been so much work and I don't want it to disappear into oblivion. Independent publishing has a lot of perks, and though sales might be better, it's a route which won't get my book in an airport book shop (a recurring dream of mine), or made into a film (every author's dream)!

However, if I was to embark on the traditional route once again, it could be well over a year before the book saw the light of day, if at all.

At the moment, I feel like making lists of small, manageable goals. I've a lot of things to update: website, blog, social media channels...

I want to give this novel it's best chance. I haven't settled on a title yet, which is very annoying.  As with my last novel, The Hen Party, it is set on Mallorca and has a multiple character narrative á la Liane Moriarty. The lives of four neighbours intertwine - think scams, lies, disappointments and romance - and naturally everyone's hiding something.

It's a cliché, but my heart and soul has gone into this book, and now I'm wondering what I'm prepared to do for it...

I suppose, first step would be to nail down a title! Too Good to be True? Too Good to Miss? The Hidden Agenda? The Pretenders? Change of Heart? Suspiciously Wonderful?  Aaargh it's so tricky!  

The baby is waking, so off I go. Perhaps she'll have a good idea. 

If you're looking for a summery read, you might enjoy The Hen Party! 

Monday 8 July 2019

Writing, Motherhood and why my blog isn'talking to me!

Me: Hi blog!

Blog: I'm not talking to you.

Me: I know I've been a bit lame.

Blog: A bit lame? It's been months.

Me: I've got something to show you.

Blog: Tell me it's not another baby snap. People have been talking, you know. They say your Instagram has been mummified.  

Me: I'm not sure that's the right use of the word.


Me: Not a word.


Me: I'll wait until you've calmed down.


Me: ....

Blog: You used to be a writer.

Me: I still am. In fact, that's what I wanted to share. I had a piece published in Pregnant Chicken!

Blog: But you know sod all about farm animals.

Me: It's a really sassy pregnancy magazine. My piece is called: Is Your Pregnancy App Making You Paranoid?

Blog: Is it?

Me: I'm not pregnant any more, but I talk about it in my Pregnancy Diaries book, remember

Blog: No.

Me: I've also been interviewed on the Common Sense Pregnancy Podcast. The interview is all about No-Fear Pregnancy. It was a great conversation with author, Jeanne Faulkner. She's based in Portland.

Blog: Is that where you've been all this time?

Me: Portland? Uh no. I've been looking after the baby.


Me: I'm going to go now...

Blog: So, you just came here to show off?

Me: Uh, no, I just wanted, you know, to share writer stuff...

Blog: Whatever.

Me: We'll speak again soon.

Blog: Will we?

Me: You should buy my book!

Blog: You know what you should do...

Me: Shss, don't swear in front of the baby!

Sorry it's been so quiet around here  - I do update much more on my Facebook Author page! Thanks for reading! 

Wednesday 1 May 2019

The Pregnancy Diaries - Out Now!

Pregnancy wasn't something I felt comfortable blogging about, but since I felt an urge to jot down my thoughts and feelings, I decided to keep an old-school diary instead. I wrote much of it in the early hours of the morning with a mug of hot milk. Perhaps I was channelling my future baby...

In my book, I share my thoughts on impending motherhood and how I prepared for a birth without fear. Being a largely positive account of pregnancy and childbirth, I think it's suitable as a gift for pregnant friends or relatives - or anyone curious about the journey! 

About the Book

Pregnancy was one experience journalist and author, Emily Benet, wasn’t ready to share on her blog. Instead she kept a diary, which she mostly wrote at 3.15am with a mug of hot milk.

What kind of mother will I be? Will I be able to breastfeed? Why is childbirth so painful when our bodies are perfectly designed for it? Will physical and mental preparation help towards a good birth? Do Japanese women eat sushi during pregnancy? How big is a rutabaga? What is a rutabaga? Why does my pregnancy app want me to organise an emergency escape route out of my flat? These questions, and more, occupied her thoughts as her belly grew.

By sharing her diary, Emily hopes to add a positive narrative in a landscape flooded with fear and grim stories. Her wish is for expectant mothers to feel empowered and encouraged, and to trust themselves, and their bodies, on the transformational journey to new life.

Thursday 21 February 2019

When baby laughs at your cooking...

My gourmand baby blew a raspberry at my homemade oat biscuits and swiped them onto the floor with a derisive laugh. She had a point, really. They weren't biscuits so much as oat flakes squidged hopefully into mashed banana. 

It summed up the day, really. One of those long drawn out ones, where you catch yourself staring into space and then saying, "right!" a lot, as if the word might rev up your inner motor if you said it enough times. 

Right, baby. Right, baby. I love you, baby. Even if you laugh at my culinary efforts, I love you. At least you are partial to my homemade milk. Now, good night baby. 

It seemed as if the challenging day was to end wrist-deep in pee, with the ritualistic rinsing nappies in baby's bathwater. But then, there was a knock on the door. 

There stood my neighbour, with a plate of food in her hands, a halo glowing around her head. "Room service?" she said, grinning. And just like that, the day didn't seem so bad, after all.

Thursday 31 January 2019

A relaxed approach to weaning your baby

"What are you having for lunch, Sol?"
"Same as you, mummy.
"Correct answer, baby girl!"

That's how we roll in our house. Okay, so I'll lace my Bolognese with chipotle chili, but other than that, it's the same fresh ingredients. I'm so glad I read Gill Rapley baby led weaning book (thanks Rachel for the tip!).

'Fun before one is the motto!' removing any pressure to get food into her in the first year.  As long as she's drinking her milk, she's going to be just fine. The few times I've googled baby weaning, I've narrowly missed suffocating under an avalanche of anxieties.

Do parents need to be having such a tough time? One woman reported that a nurse had told her that, rather than breastfeed her hungry and crying 8 months old first thing in the morning, she should hurriedly get up and prepare her cereal instead. Why? It doesn't sound logical. Just breastfeed the baby and have a solid breakfast later.

Did the nurse just feel she needed to give some advice for the sake of it? Or was it a bit like when a stranger asks for directions and you kind of know so decide to have a stab at it?

These weaning 'rules' are flexible. We should trust ourselves more and trust our babies. I started with sticks of steamed vegetables to suck and she soon started grabbing at everything that was put before her. She lunges for chicken, I give her chicken. She lunges for my biro, I say no biro. It's common sense.

So, your baby prefers purees, then give them purees. The point is you've got to do what's best for both of you. The point is you can't believe one set of ideas fits all.

Cada bebé es un mundo, they say here in Spain. Every baby is a whole world. I hate the thought of stressed parents desperately aeroplaning mash into their 4 or 6 or 8 month old babies, and worrying themselves silly when they don't swallow it, and thinking that they must be starving. They're not starving if they're drinking their milk, plus they've got a tiny stomach and know when they've had enough.

I'm not a pediatrician, and maybe I'm just adding another opinion that the world doesn't need; but if my positive experience helps one mother relax, I'm happy. I can't recommend Gill Rapley's book enough.


It was inevitable that I was going to start writing about motherhood, wasn't it?! My latest non-fiction book, The Pregnancy Diaries, will be out this Spring. 

I also write fiction... if you haven't already, check out my latest novel The Hen Party! 

Thursday 24 January 2019

Mamma mia! Are you letting yourself go?

I will not let myself go! I told myself, when I got pregnant. I'd see ragged mums in stained jumpers and think, Seriously, how long does it take to put on a bit of make-up?

It's not the putting on though, I've since discovered. It's the taking off. Who has time for that? Foundation I'm fine to leave on until the next rushed shower. But mascara?... eyeliner? There have been nights when I've heard my baby call, and have been unable to locate her, too blinded by the congealed mascara gluing my eyelids together.

I say 'call', not cry, because at 7 months baby Sol can already say MAMMMMMM-A. That's how she says it; like an exuberant Italian. 

Mammmmm-ma!  Why are you taking so bloody long-a?
Sorry bambina, it's my maledetto mascara!

As for stained jumpers? I remember in the first weeks I'd change my top at the slightest proximity of milky dribble. Now I'll rub it in and consider myself good to go. All the shoulders of my jumpers whiff and under a forensic's lights the sleeve of my dressing gown would doubtless glow like a Vegas hotel.

I've also been wearing the same clothes for 7 months, because I only wear breastfeeding-friendly outfits. Basically 98% of my wardrobe is on holiday, leaving four spaghetti straps with clever clips to do all the work. Spaghetti straps in winter? Oh, yes. Motherhood has made me square up to the cold, boobs exposed, eyes narrowed: Bring it, bitch! Is that all you got? 

Funny. I used to be such a shivering wuss.

Anyway, enough is enough, it's time to get myself on track. Look good, feel good, right? Which is why I'm going to get a haircut today... or tomorrow...well, at some point this year. Letting myself go? Never. 


Hello lovely reader, you may as well succumb to buying The Hen Party, because it's my best novel so far, and novel number 5 has still a lot of cooking to do! Thank you!