Posts Tagged ‘family life’
I GREW UP SCARED, OR SHOULD I SAY SH*T SCARED OF DOGS.
I’d cross the road when I saw someone coming towards me with their canine. When it wasn’t practical to cross the road, I’d almost stop breathing and clench my stomach as I walked past them. The words ‘Don’t feel nervous or they’ll smell your fear‘ were completely pointless and just made me even more nervous (and probably quite smelly as a result). Meanwhile, the words ‘Ah don’t be scared, s/he’s just being friendly’ were NO help whatsoever, when someone’s dog would jump up on me, making me want to smack the owner for not saying something more apt like ‘Oh sorry, you’re obviously scared so I shouldn’t just stand here looking at you thinking you’ll suddenly love all dogs, let me get him/her off you‘.
This reaction stayed with me well into adulthood, by which time the fear was also accompanied by downright amazement over why anybody of sane mind would willingly choose to have a defecating, urinating, barking, drooling, shedding, smelly, destructive nuisance in their house. But I probably shouldn’t talk about my friends’ kids like that. [Applause.]
Seriously though, I lost count of the number of coffee mornings and playgroups I took my little ones to, where my mum friends had dogs running around, making me want to go home, disinfect myself and burn every item of the doghair-infested clothing I’d returned home with (the total opposite of considering getting a dog for the first time).
I just thought everyone was barking mad (pun totally intended) to own these awful things.
Having to sit through endless conversations about their pets’ behaviour, mating mishaps, complaints or (just as dull in my eyes) doggy triumphs/boasts, I wanted to stick hot pins in my eyes.”What are they moaning about? It’s not like somebody forced them to get a walking flea magnet.” “What’s the crowing and fuss about? It’s just a flipping dog!” I just couldn’t understand it.
Then about three years ago, beyond all comprehension, I somehow I got it into my head that it would actually be lovely to have a four-legged furry friend. I started thinking about getting a dog for the first time.
You may well be wondering what triggered this (er, me too). Was it the emptying of an entire box of Kleenex watching Hachi? Busted.
Was it the friend who often posted photos of his kids loved up with their dog (and a pic of his old bearded collie that had stuck in my mind)? Could be…
Was it the Winter hikes we started doing with friends who’d bring their furry companion along, to my kids’ delight? No comment.
I couldn’t figure out what on earth had prompted this most spectacular change of heart, where I, staunch anticanine, started harbouring thoughts of getting that very animal!
And then it hit me… After the birth of my third child Cheeky K, I’d shut the factory down and sent the workers home, swearing that there would be no baby number four.
Could it be, now that several years had passed and my kids were no longer babies, that (despite having absolutely no intention to have any more kids) I nevertheless felt we needed another little one in the house, a baby the whole family could enjoy. A baby of the…DOG VARIETY. Eek!
I started mentioning my exciting idea to friends, seeking out advice and generally becoming a bit obsessed with the thought of getting a dog.
Everyone I spoke to about it thought I’d lost my mind.
I grew up with dogs and I loved them but I’d never have one now. It’s way too much hard work; you’d be mad to do it.
There’s no way you’d cope having a dog Prabs.
You’re definitely not cut out for life with a dog.
My friends’ vote of confidence was reassuring. N’t.
To be honest, the more I thought of the poo and the shedding etc, the more I thought they might be right.
So I talked myself out of it, wrote an article joking about why I probably wasn’t suited to dog life and moved on.
A year later, one of those friends got a dog for the first time. A few months ago, another one did the same. A few weeks ago, one of the others did too…
What’s more, it’s amazing how many people have told me they felt the same antidog sentiment for years, before also doing the same uturn…for the same reasons of broodiness. Must be a female thing then….
In our case, the simple fact is an apparently amazing opportunity has presented itself.
We were having a quick lunch the other week with friends, when one of them received a message from a friend in Majorca asking if she knew a family who’d like a Maltese Terrier who is chipped, vaccinated, neutered, trained, doesn’t shed and has her passport (still cracks she me up). The Maltese is the breed both my girls wanted (my son wanted a German Shepherd…and when he leaves home, he is welcome to get one) and is the colour I prefer. It seemed like fate was trying to tell me something.
About a week later, after a long chat with the current guardian who had found the dog on the streets and given her a home for a while, (last time I’ll chat from my mobile to another mobile in another country while I’m on the beach in Gozo, as I’m now dreading the phone bill), I decided I could spend another three years coming up with reasons not to get a dog.
Or just get a dog.
And yes the list of reasons not to do it is long. But the reasons why it’s a good idea are compelling.
My kids’ happiness is my number one priority. My eldest is once again going through troubles that I had thought were behind us and I’ve been battling intense stress this year not helped by turning the Big F and feeling the approaching ‘Big M”. They’ve wanted a dog for the longest time (how many mums say this?!) and I think I’m actually quite ready for a little companion during the day. (Ask me if I feel that way in a few weeks’ time when I’ve failed to get one blog post done or go to the gym because I’m held hostage by a dog and am in misery over the late evening dog walk obligation in my pyjamas…)
Seriously, despite the constraints it will place on our lives, the good that having a dog will nevertheless do all of us is immeasurable (and maybe it will teach my kids to stop leaving their crap all over the house if they don’t want it getting chewed up by doglet).
So yes, maybe we’re mad to be getting a dog for the first time.
Everyone who’s asked ‘Do you know what you’re letting yourselves in for?’ may find me on their doorstep sobbing one night.
Maybe I’ll be stuck with an overly defecating, urinating, barking, drooling, shedding and destructive creature in my house. But that’s enough about my husband, (Come on, you smiled).
One thing I do know is that she’d better do some canine etiquette classes beforehand she gets here mid May (no these pictures aren’t mine, they were sent by her current owner). Because this is no way for a lady to sit!
Right, I’m off to discuss names again because the current ‘Sarah’ is not doing it for us…
I do apologise for the rather bleak picture and the solemn quote (don’t worry…I’ll lighten the mood next week!) but…the fact is this is reality for many people so I didn’t want to put up a ‘diluted’ picture.
When Do You Have Enough?
I’m bashing out this post after an eye-opening thought-provoking moment that has just occurred in my kitchen, on a Monday afternoon as my eldest does her homework, the other two play upstairs having finished theirs and the dinner is simmering away. I was due to go to the supermarket after the school run to do the weekly grocery shop having not done it this morning, as I decided to blog, and we desperately need food as the cupboards are bare and there is hardly anything in the fridge or freezer.
Well I Thought We Didn’t Have Enough Food Or so I thought. More on that in a sec.
I mean there is more empty shelving than actual food in the fridge, the ‘carbs cupboard’ only has half a loaf of bread, a Ryvita packet and some Maltese galetti (sort of like water biscuits), the storecupboard cabinet (canned food, pasta, grains, lentils, pulses) has visible spaces on the shelf and the snacks cupboard is definitely running low. So basically we have hardly anything left. (This always reminds me of a good friend during my London days; she used to describe the food situation in her house as rain or shine.)
Yet, despite the apparent tragic impoverished circumstances of my kitchen,
me being me (ie a legendary procastinator) I just could not summon up the energy and will to spend the required hour and a half driving to the shop, doing all the shopping, queuing up, paying, hauling it to the car, driving back and offloading it all. Yep, housewife of the year. Obviously I’ll have to buck up and do it tomorrow. I was desperate not to go the supermarket which would mean leaving the kids alone and delaying dinner (and a blog deadline) so I looked again at that sad-looking fridge and opened the forlorn cupboards again. I walked back over to the fridge and looked at it again, (maybe I thought if I stared hard enough, I’d realise my eyes had in fact been deceiving me and food had been there all along).
That’s When the Eye-Opener Happened
I wondered whether I did in fact have enough to get through this evening (thankfully dinner was already taken care of), the following morning’s breakfast, not to mention the kids packed lunches and my own lunch and possibly even dinner. You KNOW what I’m going to say don’t you? Yes I did. In fact, I had enough to put together – wait for it – 9 meals. Yes NINE! I’d gone from famine to feast in just a few minutes without leaving my house! And in that moment, as I reassessed my formerly ‘disastrously understocked’ fridge, I actually felt a bit ashamed and realised I really am a product of my generation, a generation that has – maybe unintentionally – developed a greedy mentality through having grown up in the comfort and affluence of the West. A generation often unable to recognise when we have enough…more than we need in fact. Our vision has become so skewed.
Now, I don’t think I’m a ‘greedy person’ by any stretch of the imagination;
far from it actually. I’m generally content with little…more of a ‘want what you have, not have what you want’ sort of person. So I have to ask, if I’m such a glass half full rather than half empty type, (and yes I suppose I could have used that quote in this post!) then why on earth do I not see my kitchen as half full, not half empty?! Why do we see problems when really there isn’t one? Of course, I could extrapolate to so many other areas of life but I think you get me.
Now I know 100 people could read this post and each of those 100 people would have a different financial status; some perhaps very well off, some in the middle and others prone to struggling their whole life to make ends meet. And yes, life really has become expensive. But that’s just it. Whilst property prices, the cost of a meal in that fancy restaurant and various forms of taxation have indeed risen since we were all children, the fact is we in this society are propagating this belief that life is expensive left, right and centre. When actually, maybe just maybe (this is my theory) It’s really only as expensive as we want to make it? If we think we need that shiny new car, summer holiday, dream house, weekend get away, buzzing social life, this season’s trendy clothing, the coolest gadgets etc in the belief that these are all ‘must-haves’ crucial to our happiness, then yes our life will probably be one destined for great expense.
This central message exists in many different forms.
You’ll probably have seen memes about being richer than most people in the world if you have food in your fridge, clothes on your body and a roof over your head. I honestly believe in this so much. I’m sure I drive my kids mad with the whole ‘no you can’t have the blue plate because there’s nothing wrong with the red one you have because you’re just damned lucky to have food on any plate in the first place!’ sermon, delivered from time to time.
So, I have to say, harsh as the picture for this post is, the message is so very true and apt.
Now more than ever.
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I think out of all the photos I’ve taken of my kids, from their baby years to now, this simply has to be one of my favourites. It was taken three Sundays ago, a few days after I’d found out I’d been shortlisted for the MAD Blog awards and we went out (supposedly) for Sunday brunch to celebrate. I say supposedly because things started off fairly fraught with an argument at home when I felt Hubster had spoken to Cheeky K unnecessarily harshly. We then got to the restaurant only for Hubster to clean forget he’d said we’d celebrate my awards result with bubbles, promptly waving the wine list away, causing me to retreat to the bathroom feeling rather broken that Man U winning their FA Cup semi-final the previous night earned more euphoria and celebration from him than my finalist news did! Marriage huh?
I’m happy to say Mr Prabulous realised his faux pas and salvaged the situation ordering bubbles, not once but twice, and expressing regret over what had happened. All’s well that ends well. With the air cleared, I went outside to the seating area to check on the kids who’d been sent outside when their father and I were having our ‘chat’ (!) Goodness only knows WHAT they were all giggling over but I’m so glad they were, because their high spirits and contagious laughter immediately lifted my own mood even further…in that way that only kids can… Bubbles, sunshine, a husband who doesn’t always get it right but loves me to bits and three happy kids. What more can I ask for?
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I sat down to write something the day after beloved and respected British comedian Ronnie Corbett passed away.
I had been enjoying the Easter holidays with my kids, having one of those leisurely days where they played, listened to music and we made casual plans to do something in the gorgeous Maltese sunshine. Then, 24/7 blogger and all that, I checked my social media and noticed a friend had shared an iconic TV sketch from my childhood: the Two Ronnies Fork Handles and a sad face. No words. Just that emoji.
And I knew.
The wave of utter sadness that descended on me was not unlike the one I’d experienced when a close family friend passed away years ago. I was bereft. He was the kindest gentlest of men for whom I felt enormous respect. I always felt Ronnie Corbett was like him. It is difficult to explain to anyone who did not grow up watching him, what an absolute legend this entertainer was. Physically on the short side he may have been. A giant of comedy he most definitely was.
The Two Ronnies were, like Morecambe and Wise, a stable fixture of British comedy programming in the late 70’s and early 80’s. They were part of the fabric of my family’s Saturday nights; my father would come home from the shop and The Two Ronnies would entertain us after our evening meal. The Phantom Raspberry Blower, the spoof Mastermind sketches…good grief, the hernias I nearly had laughing!
I was reliving those memories when Musical M said ‘Mummy what’s wrong?’ upon hearing my pained ‘Oh No’.
Mid flipping pancakes and getting arts and crafts supplies out, it had turned into the saddest of days. Yes he had had a ‘good innings’ as they say. But that never helps does it? As soon as pancakes were scoffed, before I even tackled the bombsite aka my kitchen, I sat down with the kids to show them that TV sketch that I had first watched when I was younger than two of my kids are now… I can’t help hope that Mr C was somewhere above us watching my kids howl with laughter watching him and Mr B. Just think, forty years after that sketch was filmed, a new generation is enjoying it.
I tried to write about it, I couldn’t find the words. Other blog posts and projects then required my attention. I put the post on hold promising myself I’d come back to it.
A few days ago, after picking my babies up from school, I took them to our local beach cafe; we sipped drinks, played ball on the sand and enjoyed the sight and sound of the stupendous teal sea and white foamy waves crashing against the rocks after school. We came home and I quickly checked my computer before making a start on dinner. I stared in disbelief at the BBC ‘breaking news’ headline about the death of Victoria Wood, again an icon of British comedy. Once again Musical M watched my face fall, my beach buzz replaced by shock and glassy eyes as I tried to explain the magnitude of this further loss. Victoria Wood was the first stand up comedienne I was aware of. I remember admiring this ridiculously funny intelligent woman hurling out jokes at a rate of 60mph in a heavily male-dominated profession. She was a role model for so many women wanting to make their way in the entertainment industry and was quite simply larger than life.
The next day, I took the kids to the beach after school again.
The intention was to play ball again but we found ourselves watching the crazy waves and the surfers instead, as the sea was covering half the beach making it impossible to play. After another lovely afternoon, the same thing: we went home, I checked my social media and again BBC News greeted me…this time announcing the death of Prince.
It was like a sick joke. Two days in a row, the exact same scenario. I genuinely thought it was a hoax.
I resolved to dust off that blog post I’d attempted and write something after all. I also resolved not to take the kids to the beach the next day. (Sorry, writing this is making me said and I needed some light relief so please excuse the dark humour.) So I sit writing it.
I have to confess, I considered calling the post “Just What the Actual Eff?!”
The numerous deaths this year of so many greats….it’s too much. David Bowie the impact of whose death I also wrote about, Terry Wogan (not an international megastar but a much loved highly respected icon of British broadcasting and entertainment), Alan Rickman, a humble non ‘celebrity-like’ theatre and film actor…the list goes on.
A friend of mine has a theory about why all these deaths have hit us so hard. He compared it to the late 70’s when so many greats of TV and film died in the space of a few years: John Wayne, Steve McQueen, Richard Burton, Rock Hudson, Peter Sellers, Eric Morecambe, Tommy Cooper. My friend realised that the deaths of those silver screen idols must have impacted our parents in the same way these recent deaths have affected my generation and that perhaps it is because our parents were in fact not far off the age that my is generation now. These were the personnages from their childhood. Just like Corbett, Wood, Prince etc are the people from my childhood/youth. My generation is becoming so much more aware of its own mortality, just like my parents must have done then.
Each time another death is reported, it’s like a piece of my childhood goes with it.
The childhood where we welcomed these people into our homes via the small screen. They were part of the backdrop to our lives: favourite films, famous TV sketches, cherished hit songs…these form part of our memory bank as we grow up. In my case, the death of Wogan was most definitely linked to this. I met Terry Wogan when I was seven years-old. He was promoting a product at one of the Cash and Carry wholesalers where my parents used to buy the stock for their supermarket. It seems strange now that he was there doing that actually. Long story short, my parents and I excitedly spotted him, I posed for a photo with him and he asked me to do my best open smile at which point I promptly burst into tears because I had just recently lost a tooth and looked like Goofy. No big harm done. I watched him whenever he presented anything on TV and was a huge fan of his 1980’s talk show and of course Blankety Blank!
And then there is the man…Prince, the Artist Formerly Known As, the Tiny Yet Huge Rock Star, His Royal Purpleness etc etc.
What do I say? So much to say. So very many memories of his songs, fabulous memories. Being addicted to Take Me With You, dancing my bits off to Kiss in a French nightclub, hearing 1999 over and over midnight December 31st 1998, mesmerised by the unique sound of When Doves Cry, cracking up with laughter when a Radio 1 DJ did a series called Twisted Lyrics and hearing the hilarious version of Purple Rain’s lyrics, doing the walk of shame down Camden High Road with Lovesexy playing in my ears on my walkman and possibly best of all…strutting round my tiny Paris apartment with my sisters pouting and posing to the stonkingly sexy Cream.
Legend. Pure and simple.
Legends…all of them. From Bowie to Rickman to Wogan to Corbett to Wood to Prince and all the ones I’ve not mentioned in between.
And if any of you legends are looking down, able to read this, may I just say I had not realised the extent to which you inspired me…until you were gone. The films that have a place in my heart, the songs that are the soundtrack to my life, the TV shows that were like my best pals when my friends were all going out and I had to stay home with only you for company, the comedians that nearly gave me a broken rib from laughing, Thank you so very much for all of it.
I just have one small request.
If I ever join you in Heaven or where ever you are, please could you arrange for a front row seat? I intend to carry on watching and listening to you forever.
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I sat down to write something for my wedding anniversary thinking I’d be writing a testament to the amazing relationship and strong marriage I think Hubster and I have. As the words poured out of me, I found myself writing a very different sort of post, one that actually shocked and unsettled me with the brutality of the pain I was clearly feeling as I wrote it so much so, I had to put it to one side. I then had no choice but to come back to it when one of my blogging besties Modern Dad Pages asked me to write something about relationships.
The things is, most people will read this and think What on earth is she going on about? This guy is amazing! (And yes my husband is amazing in so many ways.) But as you know, our problems (perceived or real) and our truths are personal to us and we never know what goes on behind closed doors.
My husband knows I’ve written this post and gave me his blessing to be as honest as I wanted (which again shows what a great human being he actually is). There are things I’ve not mentioned because there is only so much dirty laundry I’m willing to wash in public but this is still the hardest thing I’ve written to date and I can’t say that I’m that comfortable doing it. So here is:
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you have such an easygoing manner towards anyone who meets you and you were always so laid back…but when one of our kids just drops some food at mealtime or a spills a drink at a restaurant, you literally freak and you have become angry and serious enough for the both of us (when I thought I’d cornered that market pretty well myself).
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you are so chatty and open with your friends…but when I try to make conversation, I’m met with disinterest from a man who’s mentally left the building before I’ve even finished (started?) my sentence.
Dear Hubster I want to grow old with you because your cuddles are the best…but how do I cuddle a man who looks inconvenienced at having to budge up on the sofa when I sit next to him and who doesn’t think to just slip an arm round me when I’m washing the dishes?
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you were my buddy who was always interested in what I had to say and with whom I’d close down the restaurants in Paris and London chatting til the early hours. We’d look over at the middle aged couples tired of life, tired of each other and we promised one another we’d never be like them and we’d keep the conversation going year after year.…but I’m honestly drained after years of silent evenings on the sofa or being cut off when I speak.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you were the eager lover who couldn’t get enough of me no matter what time of day it was, no matter where we were or whether we needed to be somewhere…but now, even though you say you still find me sexy and hot, when I give you the bedroom eyes, your brain fast forwards to how much you have to do and you suggest we ‘schedule it for later’. And later hardly ever comes…
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because I want to share my thoughts and experiences and interests with you…but when you snapped at your 5 year old who was just trying to show you a picture she’d drawn, what hope is there for me?
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because I chose you as my life partner…but how do you get through a life with someone when sometimes it’s just hard to get through a day without arguing about the stupidest things?
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you are the man who goes to four different card shops to find a Valentine (and anniversary) card with the exact message he wanted to say…but who has so much difficulty just finding the romance in the simplest of daily transactions as man and wife even when the opportunity is staring him in the face!
Dear Hubster I want to grow old with you because I love you…but there are days when I ask myself if I actually do or whether love is even enough to see us through.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because we made three amazing kids together and I know you love them like mad and see little point in even being home if your wife and kids aren’t around…but you never show any interest when I tell you about something they’ve done or said and I hurt waiting for you to show interest in teaching them a sport or spending individual time with them.
Dear Hubster I want to grow old with you because you are so wonderfully different from anyone I’ve ever met…but we’re both so very different it can be hard to just get on.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you are the most domesticated hands-on partner anyone could hope for…but maybe in between stacking the dishwasher, emptying the bins and doing the school run, the old you and me disappeared?
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you used to make me laugh endlessly…but now you rarely find my jokes funny and I don’t get yours anymore on the rare occasion you clown around.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because I thought you’d be the most gentle warm laid back father…but your yelling, lack of patience, inability to understand when they need sympathy or terms of endearment kills me.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because I have NO bloody right to complain about a man who does the kids’ packed lunches every morning, gets bedding and floors clean and has food in the fridge for when I return from a trip abroad with the kids (and checks us in online without being asked)…but I just wish that man could show his wife and kids some emotion instead of always being so practical.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you have told me so much that you love me and you’re trying to take on board how I feel…but you and I both know there’ll be another blow out, I’ll retreat inside my shell and cry endlessly in private, you’ll apologise and on and on it will go.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because mere words cannot describe the appreciation and respect I have for how hard you work to give your family a home and a life (never pressuring me to go back to work after I had the babies)…but you can’t run an entire marriage on that alone and I need to respect you as a friend and lover too and I can’t rebuild that on my own Baby.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because that’s what friends do
..but so much of the time I feel like we’re just housemates who raise three kids together.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you are the wonderful man who insists we go out to celebrate our anniversary...but don’t you wonder what we’d be celebrating? I am feeling depressed and terrified at the thought of an evening of awkward silence or desperately trying to find things to talk about with you apart from bloody work.
Dear Hubster I want to grow old with you because you are gentleman. Thank you for being that gentleman and listening.
I have a hubby who goes above and beyond in so many ways, a hubby who isn’t possessive, who doesn’t ‘expect’ things from me and who gives me space to be me. I also have a hubby who gives me THE most wonderful anniversary and Valentines cards with heartfelt messages he has really given thought to writing when half the time, I don’t get round to getting him one or I find crappy ones! It takes two people in a relationship, I have plenty of faults and frankly marriage takes constant work and care. The Disney straight forward happy-ever-after fairytale does not exist. I think, in the end, each couple has to create their own fairytale. My hubby is aware of and really wants to address his emotional attentiveness and other shortcomings. In the meantime, I’ll be having a good think about addressing my own…
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I’m honoured to have been tagged by two of my newest blogger friends – Tayla of Motherhood The Real Deal who is super funny and the lovely Laura of Life With Baby Kicks (who listens to me moan about blog tech glitches on an alarmingly regular basis and who I’m dragging out for a Mojito-fest when we meet one day ‘outside’ of the blog) – in the wonderful “I’m a Mum Who” series. I’ve been really enjoying reading the at-a-glance descriptions of various bloggers regarding their parenting experiences and themselves. It’s wonderful finding out more about them.
So here is mine.
Could write a book called ‘Being The Not Now Mummy’. #TooBusyForYourKidsIsTheWrongBusy
Is rubbish at crafts. Cannot. Will. Not. Do. crafts. But finally learned to bake aged 38 and has made all her kids’ birthday cakes since the eldest was 3 (and yes you’ll have to work out my current age yourself) #NotBraggingJustSayinWeDoWhatWeCanDo
Is never happier than when she’s snuggled up for weekend movie night with her babies…or sipping a Rosé by the beach while they play. #HappyMemories
Is hellbent on raising healthy eaters but will never deprive her kids of home made chocolate cake dammit! #LovinFromTheOven
Finally understood so much of what her parents had said/done raising her the very minute her firstborn was handed to her in hospital. #ThatsWhyOurParentsWantGrandchildren
Somehow conceived all her kids on the first try after the age of 35 but who has known the heartache of miscarriage. #MixedBlessings
Literally hates it in a toe-curling stomach-churning tear-inducing way when her hubby yells at the kids but then yells at them herself a few minutes later #ParentingTruths
Conquered her lifelong crippling fear of water to jump into a pool aged 39 knowing there was no other option after her 4yo said “Go on mummy you must”. #AboutTimeToo
Was never an outdoors gal but has got into hiking with her equally “can we just stay home Mama?” kids. #GetOffTheSofaNOW
Is a super strict parent yet still receives compliments, hugs and “you’re amazing mummy” praise from her children #GoFigureAgain
Misses that golden time of the ‘afternoon sit down’ with a cuppa, Murder She Wrote on TV and a cheeky sleep while the kids had their nap. #ThoseWereTheDaysMyFriend
Has found her identity again and ‘met’ awesome talented people through blogging but is so busy running a blog about being a mother that she hardly has time to be a mother! #BlogMammaBlog?
Loves Sunday mornings, pottering about, baking to the soundtrack of kids playing and listening to chillout/retro 70’s/old soul tunes. #EasyLikeSundayMorning
Didn’t leave the suburbs of London from 1975 to 1988 but now has the crazy privilege of stopping off on the way home from school to go to her local beach #LifeHasPlentyOfSurprises
Nags her eldest on a weekly basis to tidy her room yet hasn’t sorted this out since January. #Hyprocrisy
Clowns around and loves laughing with friends but has never been the ‘fun mum’ with her own kids. #SortThatOut
Tries to undo some of the mental conditioning of a very Indian upbringing swearing blind she wouldn’t turn into her parents. But…guess what…yep. #FacePalm
Honestly doesn’t know what she did in her past life to deserve three little monkeys like this #WhenYourHeartBursts
Gets it wrong each day but still has kids who know they are loved. #MummyDoesntTryEnoughButSheTries
I now tag:
Yes Peas Mumma
Coffee Kids Ice Cream
The Holly Hockdoor
and a dad:
Dad Blog UK
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I’m in a giving kind of mood this week. So I reckoned, seeing as how you liked Is This Normal so much, I’d treat you – with a sequel I know, I’m literally too kind for my own good sometimes. Feel free to send me jewellery, chocolates, a book deal by way of thanks. Or you could just read this post and then start a veritable sharing frenzy…just sayin’…
Seriously, is it normal:
1. That a year after buying my own son the wrong birthday card (and mentioning it in Ten Lessons This Mama Has Learned), I apparently haven’t learned my lesson at all…and managed to buy one for a girlfriend, containing this:
because I only saw this:
and thought “Ah…how sweet…that’s her” before quickly going to the check out, paying, borrowing a pen, ripping it open and letting out a high-pitched shriek as I noticed the mistake.
2. To go from “For pity’s sake don’t mention food again, I’m still absolutely stuffed from hours ago. What’s wrong with you, how could you even think about eating right now?” to “Man I could eat a horse. Give me your chips right now, I’m starving” in approximately 47 seconds.
3. To long for a food processor for about ten years, bang on about needing one for over five years, finally get one for Christmas and then only unpack it in July.
4. To finally feel all grown up simply because I’ve got said food processor sitting on my kitchen counter. (Really, if I’d known that’s it all it would take…)
5. To leave washing hanging on the line for nine days? Yes NINE. It wasn’t deliberate but it’s still really pants that I forgot it was there (and yes the pants had all faded in the Maltese sun).
6. For the Christmas Tree box to have been sitting in the corner of the lounge until June. Don’t judge me.
7. To clean out the shoe room and discover shoes dating back to 1992…which I don’t have the heart to throw away. Okay, judge me.
8. That there is barely a single inch of my house not covered in kiddie ‘art’. Not the preschool Christmas Day/Father’s Day/Mother’s Day/Valentines Day/Any-excuse-to-send-cute-crap-home-day variety (don’t be silly, that’s all spilling out of the cupboards and enormous plastic bags I’ve had the good sense to stuff them into). No, I mean the crayon graffiti they have scribbled literally e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. M actually wrote her name on a door just to practise writing and they’ve scraped their bangles across walls scratching off the paint in the process.
9. To have reached this age and need the concept of cider explained to me.
Hubster: “It’s made from pears or apples.”
Me: “Cool, so it’s wine before it becomes actual wine.”
Hubster: “Noooo, wine comes from grapes; cider comes from pears or apples.”
10. That I could have just cut the damned potatoes by hand and made an entire gratin twice over in the time it took me to figure out which processor attachment to use (and that my kids watched an entire film before I finally switched the machine on). Yes I know…still on the kitchen gadget topic…I’m a wild one.
11. To bump into an empty chair at a friend’s wedding and apologise to it. (FYI the chair can be substituted for a number of things: a bollard on the street, a toilet door at a restaurant etc).
12. To do several huge clear-outs resulting in bags of clothing/toys/shoes/baby equipment…then leave it all in a cupboard for months.
13. That I never saw a single episode of Mad Men, Game of Thrones and gave up on Breaking Bad but think Looney Tunes is one of the best shows on TV. Honestly, Lola, what a revelation, that girl is hilarious (“How do you say Tacos in Spanish?”). And she’s just an animated character.
14. To have started packing literally weeks before our holiday and yet still only manage to close the suitcases just three hours before we’re due to wake up for the airport and still turn up at our destination without things we needed.
15. To finally give in and buy my kids loom band sets thinking they’d spend less time wanting TV and Wii and more time using their creativity and imagination…only for my eldest to spend hours in front of a computer screen all summer watching bloody loom band tutorials. Pffff.
16. To automatically cut up my husband’s baked beans on toast like I do for the kids (don’t judge me…occasionally I resort to baked beans on toast…I’m not Martha Stewart).
17. That despite all the aforementioned clearing out, my house is still no tidier and I get a sick feeling in my stomach and run around yelling “shit pit alert!” when someone’s about to pop over (don’t stress: if the kids are around I just run around mouthing it silently). I’ve actually been known to close the blinds and hide under the dining table to avoid having to open the door to them…yes I’m a bad human being. Maybe if I throw out some of the people who live here too, it might make a difference. Think I”m exaggerating? It’s all here; read it and weep.
18. That going into Sliema – a ‘town’ which is barely 12 minutes from the residential area where I live near the sea – feels like living in the UK countryside and doing a trip to London.
19. For Cheeky K to proudly present this to her father (who lost his locks many years ago) saying “Papa, this is you when your hair grows back”.
Are you gonna tell her or am I…?
20. That I totally look up to Dory of Finding Nemo. Seriously? You’re surprised? Er…the forgetfulness scatty thing? There you go.
21. To buy a Running Backpack when I’ve not run in months [shuts eyes real tight and hope Hubster doesn’t read as far as this bit]. It looked so good.
22. That Musical M feels hard done by because she doesn’t have a smartphone. As far as I know, she’s not even close to being a teenager…so she’s got one hell of a wait. Mama didn’t get hers til she was 44.
23. That 13 years after our wedding, I still have pangs of regret every time I hear Etta James’ At Last because DAMN that should have been our wedding song! Bum.
24. For a new kettle and dishwasher cutlery basket (the latter was being thrown out by my sister and is three times better than the piddly one that came with our machine so I’m no fool) to make me this happy.
25. To count myself as a feminist, yet find myself smiling contentedly as I hand Hubster a Friday night V&T knowing I also have a homemade dessert all done and waiting in le frigérateur. See? First, the food processor, then the kettle and dishwasher thing and now this! Turns out, I have an inner 1950’s housewife. Who knew?
26. To be so known for locking myself out/misplacing my phone that one of my friends now answers my calls (assuming I’ve not left my phone somewhere and am actually able to call her) with “What have you done this time?” and another has appointed herself as my official carer. I love them. Really, I do. (Click on this to read more about that.)
27. That during one hot Summer week that included beach and pool fun with friends plus two fab nights out, the absolute hands-down highlight of my week was in fact inheriting a second-hand Ikea storage unit from a girlfriend.
28. To feel like a rebel when I don’t use my car indicator. Listen, I’ve lived in Malta for nine years. I’ve earned the right.
29. To burn toast as often as I do. I mean like all the time. That’s the title of my memoirs right there by the way: Burnt Toast and Other Disasters.
30. That despite knowing when my kids’ birthdays are, I’ve managed to do it yet again and have absolutely nothing organised for Cheeky K and Dreamy D’s birthdays that are both coming up. No really, zip, rien, nichts, nada, niente, naaaaaathing. I can feel the usual sense of panic rising in my tummy and my entire being going into a tail spin. How is this possible when I’m a stay-at-home-mum?! I’m even asking myself that one question that you never ever EVER ask a SAHM: what do you do all day? (Oh hang on…writing this blog post amongst others…)
31. To make just about the most disgusting soup in the history of soups. Seriously, how does one mess up soup exactly?
32. To live in a country that has literally months of the hottest most perfect conditions for repeated bed linen washing and drying and yet…start night time toilet training my son just as the rainy season hits. Sometimes, trying to help the environment by not having a tumbler dryer is a pisser. No pun intended (well, alright, just a little bit).
33. To erm, well, lie quite often when I do ‘favourite part of the day’ at kids’ bedtime because I can’t really tell them my favourite moment of the day is yet to come: when I go back downstairs and pour myself some mummy wine.
Talking of which, it’s favourite part of the day time again…
Now you tell me, IS it normal??
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Happiness. We all want it don’t we? Personally, despite life’s inevitable low points, I think I’m more of a glass-half-full rather than half-empty sort (like I said, I think!). It”s what works for me. Yes, admittedly, when you live on a little island that is positively drenched in sunshine most of the year, it’s easy to be glass more-than-half-full. In fact, I honestly don’t think a day has gone by in the last few years, where I haven’t done a mental fist pump because of the glorious blue skies and sun we have here. For sure, I’ve bored my kids to tears (and probably half my FB friends) constantly saying how lucky we are.
So recently, a few things have got me thinking about the whole ‘happiness thing’. Pharrell Williams is one of them. He did something with that song; he got us thinking about the H word. (You might want to watch this fab clip of the man himself crying tears of yep, happiness about the impact of the song). It blew me away…such an honest real moving reaction.
Something else that got me thinking was a friend’s 100 Days of Happiness challenge documented over three months on FB. They made me smile and reminded me of something we’ve done ever since Musical M was three years old where we all share our ‘favourite moment of the day’ at bedtime. All three kids love it but even if we saw the Queen in a karaoke bar singing a One Direction song, you can bet money that if the kids watched a DVD that same day, then that trumps the Queen. Seriously though, even if you’ve had a rough day, it makes you focus back on the positive. Oh, don’t worry, no gloating here. I’m NO earth mother. Sometimes my favourite part of the day comes after I’ve got them into bed when I head downstairs to a glass of wine.
The other big ‘what makes me happy’ trigger was our Easter break; in particular, the day I took them to Golden Bay. One of those perfect days with lovely friends, 13 kids playing easily, relaxed lunch, ice creams, sand castles, ball games, sun lounger chilling, coffee in the sea wind and musical nostalgia-fest on the cafe radio. By late afternoon, it was just me and my lovely ‘baker in chief’ friend (who also features in the below list…I wonder if she can work out where) with our six kids. She got out one of those neat little pocket kites and what unfolded was one of those moments that I’ll always treasure. Now, bear in mind that I grew up in the suburbs of Greater London; a pretty ‘regular’ Indian upbringing (who can spot the subtext?), no beaches nearby, kite-flying unfamiliar to us and not much sunshine…a different time, a different generation, a different culture. Yet here I was, decades later on a Mediterranean beach not far from where I live, my eldest having fun climbing over rocks with baker lady’s eldest, my other two running around on the sand without a care in the world chasing after their kite-flying friends, all of us laughing in the evening sun. Parents do their best. Mine did theirs in their way. Yet it hit me, probably more than at any other point in my parenting experience, just how much your kids’ childhood can turn out to be different from your own (that stands for any culture).
Where am I going with this? Well, if Pharrell ever comes knocking on my door, I’ll tell him this is my official list of what makes me happy (for now).
(My) Happiness is…
1. Coming downstairs in the morning to find that hubster has done the packed lunches.
2. The stunning coastline drive to my house.
3. Grabbing a 15 minute breather with a cup of tea (and cake) after non-stop chores before heading out again for the school run.
4. The squeals of “Mama!” from my baby as she runs down her kindergarten corridor towards me smiling.
5. Coming across a film that is such a gem, it leaves its mark on me, becoming an ‘old friend’ I go to when I need comfort (About Time and Something’s Gotta Give are up there).
6. Pulling warm cake out of the oven on a rainy afternoon.
7. Finally figuring out who sings a particular song (We are People or Home recently for me.)
8. Yoga at Golden Bay under blue skies and palm trees.
9. The sight of my kids going nuts in the lounge dancing to my Spotify playlist.
10. Watching Musical M effortlessly dive into a pool, remembering how at that age I was too terrified to even get in.
11. Coffee with girlfriends.
12. Melting under a long hot shower after a long blissful run and sinking onto the sofa afterwards for trashy TV.
13. Hubster paying me a compliment (about whatever…not fussy…after 17 years together, I’ll take anything).
14. Discovering I can do something I never thought I could do.
15. An afternoon of board games to a soundtrack of old school tunes (making Bowie/U2/Beatles/Wonder fans out of the kids).
16. Coffee with myself.
17. Rushing through homework and dinner on auto pilot only to remember the next day is a holiday which equals no school which equals movie night.
18. Movie night!
19. Stopping after school at a beach café to grab a drink in the sun while the kids collect shells.
20. Wine…and the sound of the cork popping and the wonderful glug glug of the first pour.
21. Conquering a life-long fear.
22. Hearing my daughter sing and knowing, beyond natural maternal bias, that she really has got something.
23. Having a friend who would actually leave her house at night, get in the car and come over to mine with a bottle of wine if I said I had none in the house. 🙂
24. Home-made ice cream…see Hubster smile!
25. A beach-side restaurant finally opening a minute’s walk from our house where we can laze over Sunday lunch and let the kids literally step out the back onto the sand while we both have a coffee and a chat.
26. Meeting two cool chikitas, one whom I first met years ago but never actually got to know, the other whom I met quite randomly just a year ago – and knowing they will both be in my life forever.
27. Realising the best things happen when you’re least expecting them.
28. Hubster returning safe and sound from business trips.
29. The sound of my kids laughing. OF COURSE.
30. Launching a blog that has led me to discover the most heart-warming, surprising, affirming things about myself and others that I never expected.
This is my truth. These are what make me happy. So I’m clapping my hands, like Mr Williams said.
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