Scared of the sun

Scared of the sun

There seems to be a terrible fear that has gripped Great Britain, that the sun is inherently bad. We don’t see much of the sun, we tend to go a little bit insane when we get some in the summer and when we are abroad we traditionally have burned ourselves and behaved badly.

Such is the strength of the anti-sun campaign, that many of my friends have their children kitted out in sun blocking t-shirts and shorts, hats with flaps at the back and total sun block factor 50 creams. Is it not a teeny bit much?

When my kids were babies they were kept out of the sun and I had those SPF 50 suits and I now cover them in factor 30 cream and hats and sunglasses and we avoid long periods in the sun. We are not allergic to the sun though and all enjoy being somewhere hot and getting some colour about us, a light caramel rather than red.

There is a certain type of middle class mother who takes her children somewhere extremely hot on holiday and yet keeps her offspring out of the sun. To the point of obsession.

Vitamin D is manufactured only when we are exposed to sun and it is difficult to get the vitamin D that you need through diet alone. I am not advocating that you get sunburned, in fact I have a dreadful fear of sunburn as it is this can and does increase your risk of cancer but it is important to see the sun and feel it on our skin to manufacture enough vitamin D to keep us going through winter.

I’m on holiday this week, somewhere hot, but seeing as it is October I am fairly relaxed and we dared to be outside at 2pm. Whilst at the beach yesterday, I watched as a mother covered her three very white children in thick sun block, sun block t-shirts and shorts, hats, sunglasses and then made them all sit under a UV blocking tent until it was 3pm, after which time they were allowed to come out.

My children were appropriately hatted and covered in sun cream and were happily playing with a dead octopus inadvertently murdered by Mr KBW (a long story). She loudly explained to her children that “children shouldn’t be out in the sun between 12 and 3” when they complained that they wanted out of the tent.

I am sometimes a bit of a health martyr and loudly explain to my children why they can’t go to MacDonalds/eat crisps regularly/skip swim class/have sweets every day when we see others doing exactly that. Instead of thinking what a wonderful mother Mrs Scared of the Sun was and how I was obviously a disgrace, I thought she was being a complete twat.

Which must be what people think I am when I am refusing to purchase more Haribos or chocolate for my children. No more health martyr statements for me.



BMJ Breastfeeding

When you are breast feeding you get a little bit crazy, it’s the oxytocin rush and the subsequent addiction and the intense physical contact and the mad love you feel for these tiny people that you have made and are somehow growing bigger with milk from your breasts. It seems a miracle and it is, a wonderful lovely miracle. I slumped into a sort of depression when I gave up breast feeding on my return to work and missed the little hand resting on my breast and the sound of their greedy, snuffling, gulps. Anyway, you get the idea, I am pro-breast feeding. It is also the lazy woman’s first choice; I could never have been bothered with all that sterilising and faffing about, breast is best for everyone.

My Friday ritual is to read the BMJ whilst making dinner, TV being absolutely crap and not wanting to get grubby cooking smears on my iPad, I have found this habit an easy one to adopt. So just now, whilst making the family tea I came across an advert at the back of the BMA News (a supplement that comes each week with the BMJ). It is full of doctors moans and gripes, a trade union weekly round up of issues and news and it is read by most doctors.The back page features this advert, featuring the loveable Harry here.

20140502-204349.jpgIt is an advert for formula milk, albeit a lactose intolerant form, as poor little Harry has a cow’s milk allergy.

Here is the BMJ’s policy on formula feeding advertising:

(iv) Baby milks

All advertisements are to be submitted for editorial approval and have to comply with FMF Code of Practice for the Marketing of Infant Formulae in the UK, which states that “Information provided by manufacturers and distributors to health workers regarding infant formulae should be restricted to scientific and factual matters and such information should not imply or create a belief that bottle-feeding is equivalent or superior to breast feeding.” Such information “should accurately reflect current knowledge and responsible opinion.” All claims must be referenced to full length research papers published in peer reviewed scientific journals. (Abstracts won’t do.)

Because advertising is tightly regulated and because readers know it is different from editorial material, BMJ Group has a liberal policy on advertising. The group’s publications will carry virtually all advertisements that are “legal and decent.”

I disagree with this, they should not be advertising formula. I know they have to make money, I know the makers of formula milk have to advertise but they should not be doing it in the BMJ.

A liberal policy indeed, they don’t seem so liberal about bossing people about smoking, obesity, exercise and global fucking warming; just 4 weeks ago they were telling us that every doctor has a moral obligation to counteract global warming and we must do something as a profession. Sorry BMJ, I think you should reconsider your liberal policy on advertising, if we have a responsibility as a profession to address all the many, many issues you rally us to support, then the journal and the trade union weekly should walk the walk as well as talk the talk.


Crying and the three owl babies

When I cry for any more than 2 minutes the following happens: my eyelids swell up, my nose blocks completely, I have a red and blotchy face and I can’t speak for sobbing. It is ugly, I look like early anaphylaxis. This has impacted hugely on my ability to get what I want in life through crying, I am a revolting looking crier. Some women are pretty criers and frequently get what they want as small tears run down their cheeks making their eyes more sparkly and smiling little half smiles and hiccups. “There, there lovely girl. Don’t cry. Of course you can have a pony/I’ll never do it again/It’s not your fault” etc.

I hate these pretty criers, they seem fake to me snivelling about and manipulating people with their crocodile tears. Much better by far to be a swollen faced monster when you really are upset and then not cry again for months.

Children are exempt from this it seems, my children can howl and sob and seconds later look as Boden catalogue pretty as they did pre-meltdown. It was time for some major tears when I left for work the other night as they were tired and didn’t want me to leave. I managed to escape by reminding them about the owls in the working mummy’s best bedtime story “Owl Babies” by Martin Waddell which is much loved in our house. The story is that there are three owlets whose mummy has gone to get them some food. The three siblings anxiously await their mother returning to the nest, imagining that she is lost or a fox has eaten her. On her arrival back they are thrilled to see her “what’s all the fuss?” the mummy owl says very nonchalantly “you knew I’d come back”. It’s essential reading for small people with working mothers. Especially mothers who don’t want to cry about leaving their babies because crying makes them look like pigs.

Sarah and Percy and Bill

Sarah and Percy and Bill

What I’d do for a Diet Coke

Oh Gosh, it’s not often I feel like exploding but KBW’s summer holidays are taking their toll. Other people’s children and other nationalities method’s of parenting are wearing me a little thin. I am also struggling with the horribly bad holiday music, no decent chocolate, sand everywhere and the endless daily cycle of soggy swimming costumes and beach towels. The truth is though, it’s the lack of diet coke that’s getting to me. It tastes funny here and I am like a junkie without their fix. I can’t choke this alien diet coke down and have taken to drinking sugar free red bull which at least deals with the caffeine withdrawal. It’s all I can think about. Diet Coke, how I love it, I am dreaming about it. Dreadful gut rot and bad for my teeth undoubtedly but I am an addict. I can’t wait to get my greedy little hands on a can as soon as I land back in the UK. Until then, more sugar free red bull….

Guilty Little Secret

My other guilty secret

I have a terrible secret that is about to become very apparent to my colleagues. Nothing salacious, but it is something I am a bit embarrassed about nonetheless. My children are all soon going to be in full time education, they wipe their own bottoms and feed themselves etc and for some reason this has shifted something inside my (male) colleagues brains as they think I will now want to work full time. The secret is this, I will just come out with it straight away; I DO NOT WANT TO WORK FULL TIME. I love, love, love my day off and I will possibly love it even more when there are not any children to look after between 9am and 3.30pm. I will go to the gym, I will get my hair done, I will see my relatives, I will have lunch with other happy day off part time mummy friends, I need to tidy and organise my house and the lives of the people in it. The boys at work are all labouring under the misapprehension that I am desperate to come back full time and am counting the days until I can do so.

I do consider myself a feminist and I am deeply indebted to the women who came before me and fought for equality. I have just finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, which is interesting and well written but of course is very US orientated. Part time work is nowhere near as common and as easy to access there and presumably the employer provided health insurance system is one reason for this as well as the lack of state funded childcare and maternity pay/benefits. She makes some great points about women in the workplace and it is an easy read. She does not talk about women who feel like me, perhaps because part time work is not an option. I love my job, it is a massive part of my identity and provides intense satisfaction that I do not fully get from the proper care and feeding of children. I love my children, I love being present in their daily lives most of the time and find them just as (actually much more) interesting now that they are getting bigger and I have not picked up any signals that they need me less now they are out of nappies.

I know I am not alone in feeling like this, my best mummy friends (including a few doctors, a judge, a teacher, a lawyer and a policewoman) all have much loved careers but have the same views of the importance of being a mother and a wife. We all want to work, most of us in professional and senior roles and none of us want to compromise too much on our home lives. I know it is a bit off message with feminist thinking that we should all be equal and be treated just like men but I want more than this. I need to be treated differently, I want to work part time because being a mother is a big job. I can outsource the cleaning, the ironing and the shopping can be delivered but nobody else is taking over the mummy role for me. I am proud to be a mother and have a career and deeply grateful that I am able to do both.

Now I just need to come out of the closet and admit that I am not going to be working full time any time soon and shake of the sense of guilt I have about this.

What Margaret Thatcher did for me

Today brings the news that Margaret Thatcher has died. She became Britain’s first and only female prime minister fairly shortly after I was born and remained there until I was almost a teenager. As a child in the 1980’s I was of course politically unaware so my Maggie memories are pretty low brow, I remember my modern studies teacher crying with delight when she resigned and telling us how important this day was. I thought it was an important day because we had witnessed a crying teacher, a  male one at that.

Feminists don’t like her, they think she did nothing for women,  she didn’t care or understand social equality and behaved like a man. I think that she did rather a lot for women, she certainly influenced my peers and I who grew up under her shadow. Here was a woman at the ultimate helm, who pissed everyone off, didn’t care what they said about her, who had a firm and clear view of where Britain was going and ruled her party under the nickname “iron lady”.  She may not have been doing it the way the feminists would have liked her to but there is no denying she was a woman and a wife and mother and there has never been any female as powerful as her since. She hated the feminists in return and had only one woman in her cabinet, but perhaps there just weren’t any women appointable.

Hanging on her every word the PM addresses the assembled press.

Hanging on her every word the PM addresses the assembled press.

She had a strong sense of her own image in the days when having a stylist or a dresser or a team of guru’s was uncommon. Fast forward to 1995 and Cherie Blair (in true First Lady style) submitted an invoice to the Labour Party for £7500 for hair styling during the general election, revolting behaviour.  The impact Thatcher had on me is not insignificant, I grew up truly believing that women can do anything they want to whilst wearing heels, pearls and an alarming amount of make up. I wonder what girls today feel about how high they can reach and whether they have the same expectations of unlimited by their gender success.  I think she showed a lot of little girls that women and men were undoubtedly equal and that women could do anything they wanted to do and for that I am very grateful.

She also believes women can do anything, and also had a fairly significant influence on my life but has not yet been the prime minister.

She also believes women can do anything, and also had a fairly significant influence on my life but has not yet been the prime minister.

Oh Daddy Pig, you are silly.

Peppa Pig perpetuates negative male stereotypes

We love peppa pig in our house, it is our most watched and  requested tv show. Even my three year old can recognise the words “peppa pig” on the what’s on tv listing. The gist (for those of you who are not subjected to this sort thing)is that peppa and george live with mummy pig (competent, has a job, is able and normal) and daddy pig (architect, overweight and portrayed as a complete buffoon). George is only about 18months old and all he can say is “dinosaur” and his older sister, the eponymous heroine  is a smart arse 4ish year old piglet who has lots of friends and rarely shuts up.

I dislike peppa pig because;

1. There is a subversive message that men are stupid. I think men are a bit stupid but I don’t want my son being told he and his kind are eejits whilst there’s still a chance I can mould him into a perfect man. 
2. Miss Rabbit works too hard, she is the  bus driver, shop worker, midwife etc. 
3. Jumping in muddy puddles, her catch phrase is “everybody loves jumping in muddy puddles”. This  is not acceptable behaviour, not everybody loves it. I think it should be qualified with “when they have their wellingtons on and mummy says it is ok”.  
4. It’s only 4 minutes long, not enough time to dry my  hair, phone someone, etc
5. It’s on the advert channels only and so I must endure “I want that” endlessly whilst waiting for the next one. 
6. They are pretty greedy, even for pigs. 

There is a PhD for someone on the subject of daddy pigs gross ineptitude and what impact this will
have on a generation of little boys.  Mummy pig barely tolerates daddy pig and seems to treat him like a teenager  “oh daddy pig, you are silly” is her constant cry when she isn’t pointing out to her kids how fat daddy’s tummy is.  The poor man is trying his best, he is a kind and good father but mummy pig (who is also on the large side) puts him down all the time. One has to wonder if mummy pig is as demanding and critical in bed.  As much as Mr KBW is a work in progress, I wouldn’t want my children to pick up on that fact.