This is not a book about parenting. There are already 1.3 billion of those, and the main thrust is, ‘don't be a shit parent; be a good parent.'
Anyway, kids raise themselves on Instagram, Snapchat and Netflix, these days. They’re just fine.
Instead, this is a book about us.
You and me. The parents, flailing in the Middle Years, when our babies have grown up and everything has gone a bit...tits down.
Because trust me, my knackered friend. It WILL.
You will swear it won’t.
But it will.
So it’s best to be prepared, or at the very least hold a copy of this book as a word-raft, to keep you afloat.
This is the book I wish someone had written for me
years ago. It would have saved me a LOT of stress,
therapy and vodka bills, so cheers for that.
I wish someone had told me that all the things I’ve lived through in these Middle Years of family life are
completely normal, I’m not a monumental fuck-up of a human being and I will still be able to order a
Jaegerbomb after the age of 40, without being escorted out by social services.
I wish someone had told me about the sadness I’d feel
when my children stop needing me so much. Or talking
to me, ever.
I wish I’d known how my mind would change as my
kids grew up – and what to do about it.
I wish someone had told me what it’s really like to get
divorced, to not live with your children every day any
more, and how to handle the epic fall-out better.
I wish someone had told me that it would all get much
better, and that I was NOT a complete failure as a
I wrote this book for you, because one day a few years
ago, deep in the crusty elbow-skin of midlife, listening
to my children’s doors slamming and watching my sex
appeal turn into a Blue Peter crisis fund, I thought…
Excuse me, but WHAT THE HECK IS THIS??
Who are these moody zit-incubators in my house,
Facetiming each other at dinner and staying up later than me?
Who keeps nicking my eye-liner?
Why am I saying all the things to my children that I hated my mum saying to me?
Why can’t I remember any GCSE maths?
Why is nothing even vaguely as I expected it would be at this stage in my life?
Why am I suddenly scared of lifts? In fact, why am I suddenly scared of loads of things I used to be perfectly OK about? Am I going mad?
Why did nobody come clean and warn me that it gets
harder, not easier?
Is divorce worse than a bikini wax without a double shot of vodka first?
Am I the only one whose life doesn’t contain smashed
avocado on sourdough toast for me to post filtered
photos of on Instagram, and pretend my life is prettier
than it is?
And . . . what the bloody hell has happened to the skin above my knees?!
Who the heck am I now? Who is the person I live with?
IS ANY OF THIS NORMAL??!
It happened to me. It happened to all of my friends. It has probably
happened you. And this is why I like you already.
Following a comprehensive rummage through the
Rotting Salad Drawer of Midlife Parenting™ I have
discovered that all of this is entirely normal.
Despite the giant bullshit-carrot dangled in front of our
weary eyes during the crippling Early Years, willing us
to Keep Calm and Carry on Bum-wiping, our problems do NOT go
away when our children hit Secondary school; they just
Instead of nappies and sleepless nights we juggle A-
level options and puberty; relationship breakdowns
(theirs and our own) and unfathomable sadness;
teenage eye-rolls and 3-hour queues for the bathroom;
career catastrophes and a creeping, deepening sense
of loss as the little people we’ve been trying to get a
break from for fifteen years suddenly start to pull away
from us, and we realise we miss them terribly, and…
Jesus, is that CHIN HAIR??
Everybody goes through this. And yet nobody talks
about it. Which is weird. Because it happens to
IT IS NOT. JUST. YOU.
This, my friend, is golden information. If they could
make watches or dental fillings out of it, they would.
Thus, this book is the opposite of a sickly how-to guide
to happiness, sexual fulfillment and Steely Buttocks
(which, incidentally, is the name of my band.)
I could write that, but I’d have to stab my eyeballs with
tweezers. Instead, it says,
‘Come here. Sit down. You are among friends. I, too,
have six pairs of dirty pants on my bedroom floor, half
a kilo of crumbed soggy granola bars in my bag and no
idea how to refill the dishwasher’s rinse aid without
I feel confused and sad sometimes. And scared.
And it’s all OK.’
Part diary through my own Midlife Shitstorm and part
tasty morsels of highly amusing and (possibly) helpful
notes about the Middle Years, you should see it as a
box of Valium, a night out with friends, and a good
shag in an airing cupboard. (Without shelving.)
So come! Let us stagger on together and laugh heartily
at all the things nothing but surgery and excessive
masturbation can cure.
When we’re done, come and see me in the Home.
Visiting hours are 2-4pm.
Please bring grapes, and porn.
I thank you.
"I am reading this and crying with laughter!!" Prof Tanya Byron.
These extracts were supposed to be short.
Turns out I’m really bad at short extracts. So here are some long ones, to
give you a flavour of the book.
If you like it, and want more, all you have to do is pledge.
It’s like shopping, only…IN THE FUTURE.
No really, it’s my pleasure.
LIVING IN LIMBO
Limbo was originally a place, not a back-breaking dance made popular by the
unexpectedly bendy Chubby Checker in 1962, and best performed at a party
after 12 tequila slammers and a bet.
This place, ‘Limbo’, derived from the Latin 'limbus', meaning either ‘no,
I’m fine thank you, I’ll just sit here and watch you all collapse under a
low stick’, or ‘edge’, was situated on the highly sought-after border
regions of Hell.
The Limbo Years, where we find ourselves the moment our children head off
to school to collect other people’s bad habits and nits, are exactly like
living on the borders of Hell, only without the perks.
On the home front I find I’m no longer wanted or needed on a
minute-to-minute ‘Help, Mummy, I have glitter in my nose’ level, because my
children have selfishly taken over my Primary Parenting Duties such as
putting food into their mouths, making sure they don’t drink bleach, and
discouraging them from mooning out of the front window when the postman
To add insult to redundancy, even though it’s almost impossible to get any
of my children to take a break from sending triple-chin selfies to their
mates on Snapchat long enough to talk to me, here, in actual real life 3-D,
I’m not free to go off and do my own thing. I’m still responsible for
looking after their wellbeing, dental emergencies, mysterious 24-hr
vomiting bugs and incessant emails from the school about trips I never knewv they were going on.
And thus it is in these Middle Years;
Nobody wants us, but everyone wants us to stick around just in case they do.
I AM A TEENAGER’S WORST PARENT
There are 87 million Great Ironies of parenting. And that’s just the letter A.
Number 7398 of the Great Ironies is that the worst people to parent
teenagers are the parents of teenagers.
Someone really should have thought that one through when designing the
whole Life Arc thing. It’s inexcusably poor.
We can’t possibly be of any use to our children at this stage of their lives, because our own are in such a bloody mess we can
barely get dressed without having a major existential crisis.
As a result, we make a god-awful pig’s ear of the whole thing.
It’s OK. It’s how it’s supposed to be. it’s just important to know this.
It’s not you, it’s…..you.
And them. And all of it.
A RATHER MAJOR UPDATE
ANYWAY . . .
Those of you who pledged for this book, umm….2 or more years ago, might well be wondering where exactly your copy IS.
You would be entirely justified in wondering this. The postal service certainly can be lacking at times, but even Royal Mail can generally get things delivered within the decade.
So I thought a little update might be in order…
The cheeky Lifeshambles flyer is on a journey to....wherever the heck it ends up.
Here starts a series of pictures of its (hopefully) short life from idea to flyer to BOOK!
If you want a Lifeshambles flyer, let me know.
I only have 20,000 of them, but I'm prepared to share them with you.
Then we can do that thing they used to do in OK Magazine (or possibly still do, I'm not sure…
I decided to shoot a spanking new video for Lifeshambles.
So off I went to London to shoot it in a setting that's more 'me' and more relaxed - outside.
Within thirty seconds I realised why nobody should ever try to shoot a video in London outside. . .
Basically we laughed. And swore. Non stop. For an hour.
It was all VERY professional.
Here are the bloopers*:
Ooooh, hello my lovely Shed Friends.
I’ve missed you.
Lifeshambles continued its Global tour of… a very small patch of the globe, with a visit to the Off the Shelf Writing Festival in Sheffield, which it turns out is not the same as Leicester.
This trip was for my Part 2 of the big Writing Motherhood series organized by Carolyn Jess-Cooke, (below, left, next to the…
I wrote this blog today, in the hope of inspiring any writers out there who are sitting at home, writing and writing, and struggling to get a book published, and feeling down about the Whole Damned Thing....to get out there, take control and DO IT.
This is just my story, of how I came to Unbound. There are thousands like it.
So if YOU want to be published, and you have a book in you that…
Authors all have their own routine, and their own way of working, or 'not working' as it usually spelled.
Some get up at 6am, write for 3 hours, polish off 3000 words and spend the rest of the day looking smug.
We hate these people.
Others faff about all morning in their pyjamas, drink tea, read the paper, think about writing, go out, come back, think some more about writing, read…
It's always somewhat terrifying to stand - or in this case sit - in front of an audience and read from one's own book.
It feels like getting undressed very slowly under a glaring spotlight and being forced to do a can-can, and hoping nobody throws up or leaves the room.
And this is especially true if the book is supposed to be FUNNY.
Because if there is no sound of laughter, it's the…
Lifeshambles went live on Saturday, and launched at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.
Basically this is the MOST EXCITING THING EVER, except for re-sealable bags of couscous.
I did the world's first reading from Lifeshambles, and at least five people laughed out loud. Some even lolled, but I woke them up eventually.
In true Lifeshambles style I dropped all of my notes on the toilet…
These people are helping to fund Lifeshambles.