Single Malt Mum by Rebecca Johnstone

I’m calling myself the SINGLE MALT MUM after buying my first bottle of whisky - ever.

Controversial yes, but bear with me.

I don’t drink a lot of alcohol and therefore don’t feel the need to choose January as a month of abstinence (save from maybe cheese. I’ve agreed to do that and already failed due to the cheesy sauce hiding inside a fish pie.)

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve consumed alcohol in the last 2 years, what with being pregnant, breastfeeding, and being A Responsible Adult In Charge Of A Baby.

It hasn’t been hard to maintain at all. I haven’t minded and rarely think about alcohol because it doesn’t really agree with me.

Wine gets me drunk too quickly, Champagne and Prosecco go straight to my head.

There was an incident a few years back involving Jager-bombs at a family wedding - never again. And I don’t drink the usual mixers such as cola or lemonade due to the sugar/carbonation. Which leaves me pretty much with water. Or beer.

Beer has been my greatest love affair in the last decade or so. Craft beers. Local beers. Dark beers. Blonde biers. Raspberry bier. Even non-alcoholic beers.

Until earlier this year when I shared a dram of Glenlivet (18 year old) with my Dad. My Dad lives on the Scottish Malt Whisky trail in the highlands. I’ve partially grown up there myself. It felt like time. And I enjoyed it.

A nice warm glow without feeling drunk. Sipping pure liquid gold rather than volumes of sugary nonsense. It’s respectable and adult and enjoyable and sophisticated. No nonsense. Good for the circulation. Not bad for the digestion.

I happily repeated the process over New Year, safe in the knowledge that I was suitably relaxed yet never drunk or unable to react in an emergency (in the company of other responsible adults and hopeful of there not being an emergency, obviously).

So while doing the first Big Shop of the year after arriving home to a fridge devoid of anything edible save for cream, dried herbs and lemons, I casually cruised the spirit aisle in my local Morrisons.

Initially I felt like a bit a of fraud, a fool, a pretender. Like I shouldn’t be there because the goods on offer were not for me and I didn’t know what I was doing. But I lingered, searching for a good offer and a nice design on the box. I went for an Ardmore.

Creamy vanilla spice gives way to more overt smoky charcoal notes, especially with the addition of water. Smoke doesn’t dominate and is balanced by the sweet honey and spice flavours.

Sold. The last 2 weekends I’ve had one or two or three, with just a pinch of water.

I’ve gone to bed feeling mellow and warm, with tingly toes. Not drunk or dehydrated. And no hangovers. Perfect.

Hopefully this doesn’t make me A Bad Mother, because I’ve heard the toddler years are the worst…

New Year, not so new mum... by Rebecca Johnstone

My baby is already 13 months old, and I realise in that time I feel lucky to have published 13 blog posts. In fact, I don’t think I have published 13 blog posts.

This blog has been an expression of so many versions of me since circa 2007. Yes - that long! But when I became a mum I decided I didn’t want to be a mummy blogger. Not because I think there is anything wrong with being a mummy blogger - on the contrary. I love reading the ups and downs of other mums’ experiences. It’s just that I wanted to keep that part of myself private and just for me. For me and my diary and my baby and my husband.

I didn’t want to share any photographs of my babe in the bath or half dressed or asleep. I wanted - needed - to keep those precious moments just between the three of us. And I have, and I still do.


(There’s always a but).

While I don’t necessarily want to share all those private moments, the problem is that those moments have become every moment and all the things I have to say now are about being a mum.

Some of those things I do want to share; think it’s imperative to share - mainly with other mums, especially the mums-to-be who might right this second be peeing on their stick of fate as I type this (or more likely they’ll be waiting for morning because everyone knows that the best time, obviously) - you get the idea.

It is like I’ve joined a special club or clique and there’s definitely no going back.

The places I used to go and then write about, the endless afternoons of experimental poetry and the Spring-time 100-day projects - none of that exists anymore because my mind is a mum-shaped vacuum containing vital information such as where did I put the new tube of Bonjela I know I definitely bought (didn’t I?), what time is lunch expected on the highchair and where did I last see that blue and white stripy sock Jack tossed aside an hour ago because it’s too cold to go out without it?

My brain has cut the cord on the information it doesn’t need, instead lighting up like a runway as I try to remember the crucial minutiae of my mum-life through the fog. Like I never used to need to take a list with me to the supermarket. Now I need a list to remind me to go to the supermarket.

These aren’t complaints or cries for help.

They are simple facts.

I am a mum and my priority in life is no longer myself or my art or my hobbies (cue hysterical laughter - hobbies!), or my house being perfectly clean or even conversing with my husband (for which I’m sure he’s imminently delighted.)

I’m also running my design business to what constitutes more than full-time hours 90% of the time, but the festive break has given me the space to think about other things, such as my stagnant writing life (hello long-forgotten fiction manuscripts…) and how I need to make some changes to be the best mum I can be.

So I may as well document some of this journey here. It’s the not-so-new me this fine New Year.

Today has been a difficult day in the top three of difficult days.

My almost-toddler is not quite walking yet so some would say I’ve got it easy, but he’s not far off. He’s hungry for attention as well as food and it’s taking up all my energy to fulfill his needs. Scrap that, it’s Saturday ffs - it’s taken both of us all our energy today to fulfill his needs.

There have been 5 minor bumps to the head as floors have been crawled, furniture cruised and obstacles not very eloquently traversed. As I tried to soothe him and we settled down with a book, he squirmed away from me so fiercely, he cut his lip on the book.

It’s been the kind of day when you feel like a helpless failure as a parent, as every few minutes a hysterical cry has threatened to bring the ceiling down.

On a day like today it’s helpful to recognise and inwardly reward myself for any task completed, never mind a writing task, so this blog post is now written proof of my day, or my existence.

I also managed:

to have a shower AND clean my teeth

to make and serve homemade soup *smug face* (but not for long as I got quite a lot of it spat back in my face, and I don’t mean from my husband…)

a family walk with the pram (in an attempt to induce sleep)

And now I’ve written 880 words documenting my experience for posterity. Another achievement!

I would very much like to take this opportunity to apologise to any readers of this blog who are not in the slightest bit interested in my motherhood journey. I get it. I was the same pre-babe. But what can I do about that now? I’m a mother. This is my journey. This is just the start.

Next time: did I mention I’ve recently turned to whisky?