Sunday, 17 June 2018

Woman At The Helm

Hello dear ones,

Following on from my last post - and thank you all who commented with suggestions, solidarity and the wise shaking of head at my naivety - I am pleased to report that Samuel was seen putting out the recycling, Alfie made his own bed and emptied his own waste paper bin and Olly cleared away some of his toys. It may not seem like much, but these are huge strides here. I'm pleased as punch. Samuel even washed up after himself following a late night pasta cooking session. I was so overwhelmed with joy, that I forced myself to overlook the burnt on food over the oven top. I can't have it all. No-one can.

Alfie came home on Friday, with a smile form ear to ear. The reason? His very last GCSE exam in the bag. A physics paper to boot. Did anyone enjoy physics at school? Did anyone have a science teacher that bought this world alive for you as a teen? I wish I had. Mrs Ramsey and Mr Moggeridge never inspired me, I have to say. It's such a shame really. These fascinating subjects should come alive, and hold the children rapt. In the same way that science does for them as younger children. Anyway, Alfie is now free from the shackles of school; his uniform has already been donated to my friend's boy. Some of us just loathe school, and Alfie was one of them. His demeanour has already improved, and we aren't butting heads. At the moment at least. But I'll take this interlude of calm. It's just so nice to see him happy.

This week Olly spent a night away with the school, sleeping with sharks. He was most anxious about it all. The trip involved a visit to The Eden Project, tea at Pizza Hut, camping out for the night at Plymouth Aquarium and ice skating the following day. How fantastic is that?! They played games and looked at all the animals in the aquarium and slept beside the big tank full of leopard and nurse sharks. He was full of it when I picked him up the following day, recounting in great detail all the things he'd seen and done. His teacher high fived him as he left, saying he'd been a superstar. He's been having a few problems at school, so it was great that the trip was such a positive experience for him. It ticked all of his boxes, and although I know the teachers like my quirky little boy, it made me feel better that they got to see this amazing side of him too; his enthusiasm and embedded knowledge of the world around him, and how it animates and inspires him. He doesn't always socialise well with his peers. He finds it exhausting navigating the queues and signals another person displays, and very often can't read them properly. This sometimes leads to difficult behaviour, and lots of walks of shame for me. So hoorah for a school that gives their pupils these amazing experiences. And hoorah for my boy, who dealt with it so well.

I have to say that I sometimes feel like throwing the towel in with this parenting lark. For long periods it seems like a never ending round of frustrating appeals to get them to do stuff; homework, clearing up, being polite, going to bed, brushing their teeth, eating their tea and all the rest. And it's all so tedious and no fun at all. For them as much as for me. I'm often playing the role of bad cop, and it's a tiring part to play. It's no picnic, for one thing. And I'm caught in the crossfire of this back and forth negotiating that renders me tearful and exhausted. It's all very well being told that the trick is to be proactive. To always be one step ahead of your children. I'd like whoever wrote these books to spend a week with my three strong willed, intelligent, canny boys, and see how proactive they can be then.

But there are these magical moments that happen. Seeing your angst ridden teenage son smile for the first time in forever. Knowing that secondary school has been hideous for him, and  seeing the relief that he feels at it being all over. Being able to share a joke with him for the first time in an age. Having him sit downstairs with you, instead of retreating to his Kurt Cobain pit of a room. Getting a hug and a kiss. Watching your eldest sort out and organise his trip to the States, his application for his PGCE and his confident and handsome demeanour, where once stood a lad that lacked all confidence in himself and his abilities. Knowing that your youngest rose to the very real challenge of being away from his Mum and his home, and returned happy and full of wonderful memories that will be banked forever. The joy I feel inside when I witness these gemstone moments more than make up for any amount of dirty dishes, cross words and sky high food bills.

I'm a woman at the helm, guiding my ship in a hap hazard fashion and trying to get to the various ports along the way. Sometimes the anchor is required, especially when there is inclement weather on the horizon. Sometimes the waters are calm, and I can see for miles. Often I'm having to fill in the ship's log and attend to a multitude of tasks. There's never a dull moment aboard this ship of mine, and there are times that I feel like abandoning ship. But I have a duty to my crew, and I will see this journey to its' end. I'm told that there are huge rewards for staying the course, and unloading my cargo intact. And anyway I signed a contract, which I'm told is nigh on impossible to get out of. Something to do with motherly love. And all the wine gums I can eat.

Have a lovely week, fellow helmswomen.

Leanne xx


  1. Aye, aye captain! Just love the analogy and all the positivity. There is nothing better than seeing ones kids happy and fulfilled and boy, it certainly translates in their attitude and behaviour, I know from experience. Long may it continue on your ship xx

  2. If we didn't have the rubbish times, we'd never appreciate the good times, whether it's school, work or family life. And they're like the waves on the sea, constantly changing but still part of the same ocean. Good job you've got a sturdy ship :) xx

  3. Oh what a wonderful post. It's utterly overwhelming at times isn't it. I've been feeling that a lot lately. I have no idea how I'm going to get them all from here to where they are going, it scares me. Olly's trip sounds absolutely brilliant, glad he had such a good time. And hurray for the end of the school for Alfie. I felt much the same I think. You are doing an amazing job my friend. CJ xx

  4. Brilliant post!! So pleased that things are going well on the tidying front -- small victories are victories nonetheless!!

    thoroughly pleased for all of you...xo

  5. We are all guiding ships that often sail through rough waters but in the end there is calm, well sometimes anyway. I think Mothering is the hardest job in the world, being a wife is right behind it. You are navigating all these different personalities while keeping everyone afloat. IT is not an easy task, no wonder my Mother looked so tired when I was growing up. I look that way now! But still a smile, a hug, a successful outing, they all make a huge difference.

  6. It always strikes me when you write of your boys that all of them are Independent thinkers. Can there be anything better? I think you just have to trust that when you do a thing out of love, that gets translated and understood, even if it isn’t acknowledged. Keep going! Xx

  7. Well navigated, my friend! So glad that your plan of action yielded positive results. Olly's school trip sounds fantastic - there was nothing so exciting when I was at school - and 'Hurrah' for Alf and the end of the torment! Here's to calm waters ahead. xx

  8. Leanne I always love your blog posts. Such wise words for someone who doesn't believe she is as brilliant as she is at steering her ship. No child arrived with a manual and we all just make it up as we go along. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't but at the end of the day they will all grow up and then just when you think you did it all wrong they do that one little thing that makes you realise it was all worth while because you did a bloody good job.


  9. Replies
    1. Hey Antonia,

      I tried to find a tel number, or email for you, but couldn't. The mining survey is finally underway this week, and we are hopeful for a good outcome. Hope you are all well.
      Leanne xx

  10. Beautifully written, Leanne. Splice the mainbrace :-) I agree with CT – your boys sound fabulous and the love shines out from your posts. S x

  11. What a fantastic piece of writing-you were very erudite in keeping the ship analogy all the way through. The way schools are run, by government directive, is certainly not conducive to any divergent thinkers. Boys seem to be particularly disadvantaged by the system. Your boys are so lucky that you care enough to let them be themselves, and you have nurtured them all to develop as fine human beings. It’s not about being ship shape, but about a steady and loving hand on the tiller.

  12. Oh YES!!!!! You deserve a high five at the very least! Fabulous post. (as always!)


  13. I am frittering time away at the airport - finally catching up with blogs. I left best for last (yours). I love your ship analogy of family life. A bit like Odysseus really, many storms and obstacles but firmly travelling in the right direction. On the topic of Greeks, you might enjoy "Circe" by Madeline Miller, it is an "autobiographical" account of Circe, including her encounters with said Odysseus (who wasn't all that nice in the book, feeling a bit miffed actually). Anyway, I am glad Olly had a fab time sleeping with sharks. Better still, I am really happy for Alfie to be smiling again. Must dash to my gate. Love, Christina

  14. Woman at the helm - Leanne, that's just brilliant. A great analogy. You do realise you rock, yes? I hope so. You're raising three very different boys with differing ages and it cannot be easy but it sounds like they are a credit to you. I'd say things are calm-ish at the moment but now I've said that it will change of course. Angus is always my tricky one, hardest to reason with, most emotional, most stubborn, but most affectionate too.

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