About the book
The era of the yummy mummy has finally gone and in order to celebrate this, Shari Low has taken a baby wipe to the glossy veneer of the school of perfect parenting and written Because I Said So to show us the truth about motherhood in all of its sleep-deprived, frazzled glory. This is a book that every experienced, new or soon-to-be parent will relate to – well, hallelujah and praise be those who worship at the temple of Febreeze.
For over a decade, Shari wrote a hugely popular weekly newspaper column documenting the ups, downs and bio-hazardous laundry baskets of family life. Because I Said So is a collection of her favourite stories of parenting, featuring superheroes in pull up pants, embarrassing mistakes, disastrous summer holidays, childhood milestones, tear-jerking nativity plays, eight bouts of chickenpox and many, many discussions that were finished with the ultimate parental sticky situation get-out clause… Because I Said So.
Just Call Me Flo. . .
If I were on the nightshift in the medical tent during the Crimean War, history would read very differently. Instead of Florence Nightingale, the Lady of the Lamp, it would be Shari Low, lady of the dodgy diagnostic skills, who trotted up and down the ranks, bellowing, ‘Look, if you don’t stop that moaning you’re getting nothing for your tea.’
There’s as much chance of me winning a Carer of the Year award as there is of Victoria Beckham popping into Primark for her spring/summer wardrobe.
On Monday, I noticed a large spot on Callan’s head. Now, at three, he’s ten years too young for puberty so I was a wee bit concerned. I showed it to assorted family members. Opinion was split between, ‘och, it’s just a plook,’ and long inhalations through pursed lips, accompanied by, ‘it looks like chickenpox.’
Absolutely not! Callan has already had chickenpox twice so I knew it couldn’t be that.
However, by next morning he looked like one of those cartoons, where a small child doesn’t want to go to school so he draws hundreds of spots all over his face and body with red felt-tip. The horror of it was that I knew Cal didn’t have a red felt-tip (confiscated after Bob the Builder, Scoop and Dizzy were drawn on our freshly painted bedroom wall).
I screamed for the husband. ‘What do you think?’ I gasped in an anguished screech that suitably reflected my usual tendency towards the overdramatic. I was already imagining wild, exotic infections (ignoring the fact that the furthest afield we’ve been in the last year is Penrith) that would require at least six months of quarantine for the whole family.
‘Chickenpox?’ he replied with a shrug.
‘Absolutely not, he’s already had it twice,’ I said fretfully.
I whisked Callan up – at arm’s length – to the doctors’ surgery, where the spotty wee soul was thoroughly examined.
‘Chickenpox’ was the diagnosis.
‘But it can’t be, he’s already had it twice,’ I protested yet again, before running him through every other possibility I could think of. There was I, every shred of medical knowledge I possessed gained from watching ER and Casualty, and I was arguing with a man of thirty years’ experience in general practice.
‘My dear, this is definitely chickenpox,’ he replied dryly, as he scribbled a note on Cal’s file – probably along the lines of ‘Mother is argumentative, neurotic and please put her on that special list of people we’re trying to bump to another practice.’
So there it was. Chickenpox.
Now, being fully aware that I was behind a steel-plated, time-alarmed, impenetrable door when God gave out the ‘empathy and sympathy for itchy ailments’ genes, I made a very special effort to summon my nursing skills.
For the first twenty-four hours I was a model of care and concern. I cuddled him close when he cried because his friends couldn’t come to play. I patiently mashed up fruit when he couldn’t swallow anything hard because the spots were in his throat. I got up every few hours during the night to dab calamine lotion on his skin. I even slept in his arthritis-inducing-if-you’re-over-the-age-of-eight bed all night so that I was near him on the 106 occasions that he woke up moaning about the discomfort.
On day two I cracked.
My faulty genes and chronic sleep deprivation kicked in and I realised that I couldn’t do another day of soothing words, gentle rubs and reading How Much Do I Love You on a repetitive loop.
I dispatched the husband to the shops for emergency rations: ten bags of chocolate buttons, Monsters Inc., Toy Story 2, Shrek, and a balaclava so that I could take Cal for walks without scaring the neighbours.
And so we established McSpotty’s daily pattern for the rest of the week: unlimited bribery with chocolate, more television than the average couch potato gets through in a month, and a nightly walk with him dressed like an armed robber.
Medical input from mummy? Limited to regular hugs, sympathetic smiles and a wee rub of the head every time I passed him en route to change the video.
Last night in bed, inspired by our current situation, I told Cal the story of Florence Nightingale, explaining what a gentle and kind nurse she was, how she instinctively knew what was wrong with the sick and how best to comfort them.
He pondered this for a few moments.
Eventually, he spoke.
‘Mummy, you’re a rubbish nurse.’
It’s the best diagnosis that’s been made in this house all week.
About the author
Shari lives in Glasgow and writes a weekly opinion column and Book Club page for a well-known newspaper. She is married to a very laid-back guy and has two athletic teenage sons, who think she’s fairly embarrassing, except when they need a lift.
Shari’s previous books are out now! http://amzn.to/2xsHHZj