Not-a-Mommy-Blogger advice #2

So, because it is a hundred years since I was a young mommy, there I am, at the cafe, on my own, sipping peacefully on my chocomochalotsashockingcalories, snaffling a muffin the size of the Taj Mahal, reading my book, or doing the crossword, and watching five mums, surrounded by all their children, trying to talk to each other while simultaneously trying to amuse all the babies and toddlers.

That's what's called 'an impossible task', perhaps as difficult as this ....

Perhaps even more difficult than this ....

...  but definitely more difficult than persuading a man to ask for directions or pick socks up.

When I had my kids, mums didn't meet in cafes - we met in each other's wattle and daub houses.  We ate each other's failed carrot cake, drank each other's vile coffee, whispered criticisms of each other's home decor to the person next to us, and tried to pretend that we didn't mind each other's children grinding chocolate into our beige carpets and punching the lights out of our newborn babies.

It was really, really fun.

One tip I would like to share, if you are a mommy who meets others in your houses, is that when the icecream van comes round and plays its tune, you have a pact with each other that the first mother who hears it starts up a VERY LOUD RENDITION of 'Five Little Speckled Frogs' with which everyone else will join in.

The other way of saving on icecream is to tell your children that the icecream man only plays his tune when he has run out of icecream.  This may seem cruel.  That's because it is.

I have some advice for cafe mommies, trying to socialise AND keep the children occupied.  Set them some challenges.  Little people love challenges.  First, strap them into their buggies/pushchairs, then ....

Challenge 1.  How long does it take to turn fourteen serviettes into a snowdrift so that my buggy wheels disappear?

Challenge 2. What noises can I make while eating a large piece of toffee?  (During this challenge, any non-verbal communication the child attempts should be ignored until the challenge is over.)

Challenge 3. If I am given a tube of superglue to play with, what are the chances I will get it into the clasps which fasten me into my buggy?

Challenge 4. If, every time I say, 'Mommy, Mommy, Mommy' or yell or scream, Mommy feeds me a spoonful of chilli-flavour double espresso, how long will it take me to learn to cope with boredom?

'Oh YUK. And I thought mashed broccoli was bad!'


  1. I'm increasingly convinced that you're really Helen Fielding...

  2. Ah yes, the mummies who spend their lives in Edinburgh's Botanic Gardens cafe. Though I think some of them are actually the nannies. We couldn't go to cafes in our day because our babies were in cloth nappies that we would have had to lug home, sodden, after changing the offspring on the cafe toilet floor. And anyway we had no money because we'd given up work and were penurious.

    Ah, happy days.

  3. Anonymous28/8/10 20:51

    I seem to be lost, and I can't find my socks. But never mind, because I've just read your blog and it amused me most tattifullariously.
    Thanks for this.

    Have a nice day, Boonie

  4. Hahaha, great comment, Mise! Yes, this is like the mother version of Helen Fielding, I mean her character Bridget Jones.

    The ice cream truck music plays when it has run out... Oh boy.

  5. Naturally your tips are all for mothers with babies . The somewhat older child can amuse himself perfectly well . Standing right by another customer's crossword puzzle , picking his nose , for instance .
    P.S.Mashed brocolli IS bad .

  6. Anonymous29/8/10 00:37

    HaHa I love this post! It's so true. I am 24 and I have a 3 yr old. I do tend to stay within the confines of mine and others houses when trying to socialise for the ease and enjoyment of everyone involves. However, being faced with 6 weeks of no preschool and no dancing classes I have had the need to venture out to places. Luckily mine is easier to entertain as she is a young child rather than a small toddler or baby, but it is still very testing of your multitasking skills :)

  7. Clever and funny, I had enough pressure getting a shower when mine where litle, let alone have to have a 'mommy coffee morning', they should teach us how to cope with that in ante-natal class.

  8. money's on you being Charlie Brooker.

  9. Chili-flaboured double espresso. OOOoooh, me want some of that!

  10. Chili espresso? That's too cruel:)

  11. Mise - I wish!

    Isabelle - I remember those sodden nappies so well - we used to have to take ours to the launderette in a bucket because we had no washing machine. The 'take the lid off the bucket' moment was one to dread ...

    Boonie - tattifullariously is a word everyone should adopt.

  12. Loveable - if only I'd made up the tip about the 'pretend they've run out of ice cream'. Someone actually told me that's what their mother had always said to them all through their childhood. I'd love to have been there the day they realised that wasn't true ...

    SmitandSon - even UNmashed broccoli is pretty evil until you're 23.

    Lucie - I would say that 'multi-tasking' is an understatement for what mums have to do.

    Brigid - I went to my prenatal classes in the Dark Ages when they just told you how to breathe and then let you get on with it. You're right - nothing can prepare you for having to shower WITH all the kids.

  13. Steve - again, I wish, I wish!

    She Means Well/Alexandra Crocodile - it seems you two have very different tastes!

  14. Sorry, lost interest after the word "crossword", read on regardlessly to the end, confirmed that the rest was nothing to do with me and re-read up to "crossword".

    Every subsequent word you uttered makes me glad I am now neither a mum, mommy, mummy, ma, mama, mutti, etc . . . . . just a grannie who lives far, far away from her brood.

    But I absolutely adore the idea of sitting in a caff, wrapped around a big muffin and reading or doing the crossword.
    Any room at your table?

  15. I'm never been a mommy, or even a mummy (get the bandages!!! Or am I confusing the mummy with the invisible man?) but when I saw Challenge #1, for a moment I only read this:
    How long does it take to turn fourteen?


    Anyway, glad you're still being you!

  16. Ah yes those balmy days of young motherhood, at least the babe was young, even if I was not, having been labelled an "elderly primagravida"
    I did love it, but it was all different then.
    Cafes were for children who sat in chairs and coloured in or played with blocks and could eat cake without rubbing in through everyone's hair or chucking it round the room.
    Oh Joy! There are some cafes it's impossible to go to these days, for old grumps.

  17. Friko - there's plenty of room at my table, if you push aside all the cakes and biscuits and slices of lemon meringue pie.

    Val - I'm sure there are lots of times when mummies would like to be confused with the invisible man!

    Von - we old grumps should start our own chain of cafes. Or would that be somewhat exclusive?

  18. Anonymous31/8/10 04:59

    Fran, I may have just snorted tea out my nose thank you so much. Hilarious lady.

  19. Innerpickle - Please post a picture of yourself doing that.

  20. Fran - it may have been me you got the ice cream van story from - don't remember if I posted on this, but my mum used to call it 'The Music Van' and we'd all sit in the living room and listen to the nice music playing in the street - ages before we discovered it sold ice cream. We were never taken to cafes

  21. brokenbiro - it's funny - I was just listening to the radio this morning and they were reporting on the white lies which parents tell their children. The icecream van I mentioned one came up! I think your mum went one stage better!


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