Before I had children I thought I was in demand. Work was constantly busy with meetings to be held, actions to be taken, projects to be monitored, e-mails to be answered, decisions to be made. I loved it ('look at me, aren't I important?'), but it could be pretty draining. The upside of course was that once I was out of the office, the demands disappeared and my time was my own.
Have you spotted where this one is going yet?
Then, when I got pregnant for the first time, I foolishly thought things might slow down a little - at least whilst I was on maternity leave. You know, what with being at home with a small baby who couldn't even speak yet.
As a friend of mine who was 6 months pregnant with her first baby once asked; how hard could it be? Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! (Repeat to fade...)
The shock of the number of demands a newborn makes on you - or on me, at any rate - rather knocked me for six. The breastfeeding/bottle feeding. The sterilising. The changing. The burping. The worrying. The laundry - god, the laundry! The worrying. The night-time feeds. The worrying (did I mention the worrying?) The cuddling (not that I minded that one, you understand - that rather made up for everything else, in fact.) The 'I may not be able to speak yet but come over here and talk to me!' demands your child is mysteriously able to convey by the process of just opening their mouth and yelling. The visits from loving relations who simply want to spend time with their grandsons but in the process demand tea, coffee, and conversation you are ill-equipped to supply after having had no more than 3 hours continuous sleep since the little cherub arrived. And of course, there's the worrying...
As the children get older those demands decreased, thank heavens. But new ones took their place. I want the potty (not that I will EVER complain about hearing those words). I'm finished, wipe my bottom. Can I have a drink? Not water, apple juice. Not apple juice, milk. Not milk, water. I want a play date. Please. Can we have it today? But I want it today! Why can't you call X's mummy? It doesn't matter that it's nearly dinner time. I want a snack. Please. Can I have a rice cake? No, not that one, it's broken. Can we go to the park? Please. The one with the pirate ship? Can we take a treat? Can you reach that from there for me? Can we do some painting? Please. Can we paint our hands? Can you help me wipe that up? Can you tell Boy #2 to stop that? Can you ask Boy #1 to stop that? Can you come here? Can you? Can you????
I'm exaggerating, of course. But not by much. Frankly, the thought often crossed my mind that it would be nice to go back to work for a rest...
But, quit moaning PM, I got used to it. The demands became the norm, and I forgot the joy of ever being able to switch off completely, apart from on those 'get out of jail free' weekends that if you are lucky your parents give you every now and again. You know, when you leave your little darlings with them for quality grandparent time, whilst you and your beloved gallivant off to do something that involves sleep, alcohol and other stuff that follows when you've had enough sleep and alcohol.
So then, I became a little bit blase about the demands. They were just a fact of life in this brave new full time mum world. 'But I need more than this', I thought. So I started a blog. And after a while, I began to build up a network of blog-buddies - thank the lord. And then, a little bit after that, more demands started to arrive. Blogs are currency, it seems. They can be worth something. People pay attention. And the PR people found mine. Guess what, they wanted something too.
Now, sometimes their thinly veiled demands are ridiculous in that they are just not relevant to who I am or what I write about. 'Write about nappies', one hapless soul suggested. 'Ours, preferably.' 'Well, that's all very well, but I'm trying to break the habit', I replied. 'The clue's in the name of the blog...'. 'Write about our site selling clothes', another said. 'Why?' I asked. They didn't have an answer.
Others are not ridiculous in the slightest. One person emailed: 'Write about our vacuum cleaner - we'll show you how it works, we'll even give a free one if you like it'. 'Why not?' I wrote back. And I'm not sorry that I did.
And then, finally there are the good causes. Like the e-mail that recently came through from the NSPCC, asking me to visit their parenting site - yourfamily.org - and take a look at their latest campaign to teach children how to be responsible around alcohol. With all the pressures of living today, I think that this campaign could be a Very Good Thing, so I took a look and was impressed.
In addition to the drinking campaign, there are fun things to do with your kids, hints on how to teach them good manners (and don't get me started on the importance of that, living as I do in 'Entitled Children R Us-ville', aka Central London), and ideas on how to help them understand the value of money - and that's just for starters. I liked it; it was easy to navigate, bright and friendly, and didn't patronise. They've clearly thought about it, and haven't just thrown mud on the wall to see what sticks.
And just in case you are a PR person (not a blogging PR person btw; some of the best blogs are written by some) and have bothered to read this far (though why break the habit of a lifetime, really?), I suggest you read this post by A Modern Mother. She has brilliantly summed up what does and doesn't work for those of us who go to the trouble of writing and reading posts.
Guess what? Making demands doesn't. We have too many of those to deal with already.
Must go. There's a nose that needs wiping...