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What would mothers do without frozen peas? You’ve just got home, your little one is starving and you’re down to a slice of manky ham, half a Babybel, the usual pasta screws (you never allow yourself to run out of those) and you know you ought to give your little darling some vegetables but you didn’t get a chance to visit the organic greengrocers* in between racing between nursery, bus, train and work [check emails, look busy, munch lunch, check emails, look busy], then train, then bus, then nursery and then home. Not if you live in the back end of arsewhere anyway. Because your corner shop doesn’t stock vegetables seeing as the locals survive well enough on kebabs. But enough digression already.

So we grind out the bottom drawer of the freezer (when will you ever have time to defrost that damn receptacle again?) and tumble some peas into a garish coloured Ikea kids bowl (every mummy has a set of these, it’s mandatory), shove it in the micro. Bob’s your gay uncle, you have something resembling a meal without so much as breaking into a sweat. Of course, that’s if your 2-year-old hasn’t yet developed that peculiar aversion to anything ‘green’ which afflicts 75% of all toddlers at some stage or another. In which case just keep a bottle of food colouring handy. Purple works a treat. Or go the sweetcorn route – another sure-thing standby. There isn’t a kid under 5 who doesn’t love the yellow stuff – fact.

*mythical outlets of overpriced superhealthy food which were invented by health columnists and baby guide authors to make mummies feel guilty for feeding their precious ones frozen peas

What is it with nurseries and their crazy opening hours? Perhaps it’s just the ones near where I live, but none of them seem to stay open past 6pm. That’s if you’re lucky. If you’re unlucky, it’s 5pm.

I’ve never ever had a job where I didn’t have the best part of an hour commute door-to-door. And I’ve never had a job where I finished working before 5.30pm, usually 6pm. Even when home time arrives, there is the obligatory few minutes where you round off the day’s tasks, shuffle papers and basically try not to look like a work-shy clockwatcher who’s waiting for the big hand to hit the six.

Shooting out of the door on the dot of half five is frowned upon in many offices – so really we’re talking about a working day that ends at 5.45pm or 6.15pm. OK, that gives me two minutes to get out of the building, 12 minutes to fly home and one minute’s grace before we go into bank-busting overtime. Now where did I leave my time machine?

Who exactly are those mothers who finish work at 5pm then make the leisurely ten minute stroll to their nursery? What do they all do? Where do they work (and can they give me a job)? Do they just spend their days shopping? This a mystery I have yet to solve.

Life is hard enough for working mothers. We go to the office, half-dead from lack of sleep, with porridge on our sleeves and snot in our hair. We have to apply mascara on the Tube, while other people stare at us. Commuting should be a break for us, a chance for us to catch up on reading trashy novels and London Lite. Not 45 minutes of blind panic and shallow breathing as we will the Central Line not to grind to a shuddering halt yet again. We need nurseries with long opening hours, so we don’t arrive at the gates panting and sweating, and then find we’re being charged another tenner for those extra five minutes after all.

Maybe longer hours would be tough on nursery staff. But aren’t they supposed to be providing a service for the rest of us? Couldn’t they work shifts? Or are we the only people out there with such difficult lives? Answers to these questions and more on a postcard…

For me, it all started a couple of years back with Deadwood. For those unfamiliar with this superior US drama, it’s set in a lawless 1870s goldrush camp and stars Ian ‘Lovejoy’ McShane as a Machiavellian saloon owner. Pride and Prejudice this ain’t, with profuse swearing and brothels on every corner. The language that the characters speak is almost Shakespearian in its eloquence and wit, some of it apparently even written in iambic pentameters – and with subtitles on I found I was able to appreciate it to a whole new level. Then came The Wire. I had no idea what the hell was going on at the start, only that it looked a bit scary. But the jargon of Baltimore’s inner city drug runners suddenly became poetic – rather than plain incomprehensible – with the subtitles switched permanently to ‘on’. Before long I was watching loads of things with subtitles on – films, Frasier, Mad Men.

And then I had my baby and subtitles really came into their own. With the constant crying, gurgling, babbling and plinky tunes that now forms the background noise of life, subtitles are no longer handy for catching those missed witticisms and asides, they are darn well crucial for following the plot. OK, I know Loose Women doesn’t have a plot but you know what I mean (actually live subtitles tend to be annoyingly hit and miss, it has to be said – see above image).

Now if I don’t have subtitles on for anything other than Teletubbies, I feel I am trying to play snooker underwater or the piano blind-folded. I never realised quite how much dialogue I missed before as ‘method’ actors fashionably mumble, grunt and slur their way through scripts. For instance, the brilliant new 30 Rock on Five USA doesn’t have subtitles, unlike the DVD box set – and I find it irritating beyond belief when I do miss the odd line here and there.

Anyway. Subtitles. Try them. I promise you’ll be hooked before you know it too.

Nobody in their right mind would enjoy being slobbered and schlicked by an over-salivating old aunt. But switch the aunt for your bubba and – my oh my. Bring it on. We can’t help it, we go weak at the knees, we go all gooey in our brains and we go all slush-puppy in our hearts. There’s nothing like your first smacker from your little one. And once they learn how to make you melt they have you round their little pudgy fingers. So what if it’s 6am and you know any minute the first tantrum of the day will screech its way around the corner. She’s sucking your ear, slobbering your nose and squelching your eyes with an “I love you Mummy” to break your heart. And all you can think is: So. This. Is. Why. We. Do. It.

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This blog is currently dedicated to stuff new mummies like. As opposed to stuff mummies of teenagers like. That's because we don't have teenagers yet. Give us a few years though. We're told it goes pretty quickly...

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