Yesterday I made a classic slummy mummy error.
After over a fortnight of being at home with children I was looking forward to having six hours a day again to call my own, and as we drove up to school I was planning in my head all the things I was going to do during the day in my lovely, peaceful, empty house. I found somewhere to park easily. Too easily. Where were all the cars?
I spotted another mum, kids in tow, and was briefly reassured, until I noticed that she too was looking around nervously. We both eyed the locked gates suspiciously.
In service training day. Crap.
Trying to sell you raincoats in the midst of an unseasonable April heat wave might seem a little foolish, but hey, I always like a challenge. It’s much like trying to get Belle out of bed for school in the morning – difficult, but not impossible, and very satisfying if you do manage it.
If you clicked on the link last week to my creativity feature in Inspired Times magazine, which I’m sure all of you did*, you’ll have read about my friend Sally. I met Sally on a writing retreat in 2009, where we bonded over our shared hands-off parenting style and, although we didn’t realise until later, a mutual crush on one of our tutors.
Since then we’ve become very good friends, so much so that last summer I dragged my kids across the country to stay with Sally and her family in their beautiful cottage in Cambridge. At the time, Sally was very excited about her new business – the Cambridge Raincoat Company – which was in its early stages, and between lounging around her house eating, drinking and generally making myself at home I was allowed to cast my eye over fabric swatches and coat samples. All very exciting. View Post
It is very distracting. You try to focus your mind on the things you know you have to do, but sometimes it just won’t. Sometimes it just floats about, and you can’t pin it down. You spend a large amount of time staring unhelpfully into the distance and sighing.
Time speeds up and slows down. At all the wrong moments. The time you spend apart feels like years and then when you want time to drag, it’s gone in an instant. Perhaps someone is fiddling with the clocks.
Being in love makes you selfish and boring. Other people try to talk to you about their lives and their problems but you find it hard to be interested. Instead you’re just looking for an opportunity to turn the conversation around, to drop in a name. It’s oh so casual though, surely no one will notice if I just mention him one more time…
Last week I had a bit of a recycling frenzy. All my boxes were already out on the pavement, and the lorry was due any minute, but suddenly it felt like a Very Good Idea Indeed to see how much paper I could get rid of. I even fell down the stairs a little bit in my excitement, but no one saw that, so we’ll brush over it and move on.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve used my new-found writing career as an excuse to buy and hoard magazines, believing I will spend hours reading and gaining inspiration. Of course it doesn’t happen, because most of the magazines out there are utter shite, full of make-up ads and air-brushed models that make me feel like I should be fasting or sticking my fingers down my throat, so instead I line my study with shelves full of useful boxes of unread magazines, just in case.
“Blimey, this one likes her reading doesn’t she?” I heard one of the recycling collectors say to his mate as they heaved box after box of my old glossy magazines into their van.
Not anymore. Now my shelves are clear, and I can eat guilt free.
Do you like waking in the night to find a snoring walrus sprawled diagonally across the bed, leaving you curled up in a ball on the edge?
Surely everyone likes being woken by a swift kick in the shin?
In that case, you probably want to make a mental note never to share a bed with me.
When I was younger, I was a ridiculously deep sleeper, to the point that I would often seriously worry my mum and my sister, who could shout in my face and forcefully shake me and I wouldn’t wake. When you become a mother though, deep sleep goes out the window and you’re resigned instead to nights spent with one ear open, just in case. View Post
An hour ago, Belle left for her very first sleepover.
A few months ago I did pose the question, how old should a child be before they go to a sleepover? I was a bit concerned about Belle’s rather dubious sleeping habits, and was imagining having to do a mercy dash in the middle of the night to rescue her.
I’ve decided though to take the chance, partly because we are five days into the Easter holidays now and quite frankly I could do with a break. This afternoon, after listening to her sing ‘snood, snood, snood, look at my snood, snood snood’ for what felt like five years, and consequently snapping at her to ‘shut up, please!’ I think someone else’s house is really the best place for her. View Post
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I haven’t decided yet.
I always quite fancied being a ballerina, but I think I’m past that now. I never really had the thighs for a leotard anyway.
At school, I remember filling in one of those career questionnaires and it telling me I should be an insurance underwriter. Honestly, how dull must my answers have been that the quiz thought I’d get my kicks organising family travel insurance?? Weirdly, years later, I found myself working for an insurance company, training to be an actuary. It was the most hideously boring two years of my working life. Every day I would go to lunch and want to run away for ever. Afternoons were spent resisting the urge to smash my head into my PC screen.
Blogging, I have discovered, can get you in trouble.
In fact, it is probably broader than that. My mouth gets me in trouble. I have this condition, whereby words fall out of my mouth, or in this case fingers, before I have time to think about them. Apparently there isn’t medication available for Being A Bit Mouthy. Apparently it is just something I will have to learn to control.
The good thing about blogging as opposed to talking at least is that there is a short window of opportunity between typing and pressing ‘publish’ where I can think to myself ‘Really? Do you really want to share that thought? Out loud?’ Quite often I decide that no, it is probably something best kept inside my head, but other times I don’t even stop to consider the consequences.
Yesterday I went to help at Belle’s school with their weekly trip to the local swimming pool. I don’t actually swim, my job is just to stand in the middle of the changing rooms, encouraging the girls not to scream or put their pants on their head. I command very little respect or authority, but they seem to like me.
“Mrs Belle’s Mum!” a shrill, nine-year-old voice yelled to me when I got on the coach, “come and sit here, we’ve saved you a seat!”
The seat in question was the middle of the back row.
At last! My time had come.
In just a few weeks we will be voting on whether on not we want to reform our current electoral system with a view to making politics fairer.
Throughout the debate however, despite an apparent desire among many people to move towards a more proportionately representative Parliament, little mention has been given to the issue of diversity.
Anyone who knows me even fairly well will be snorting at the idea of me even asking this question. ‘Would Jo deliberately lose a game just so her children could win?’ Er, no.
I am very competitive, I always have been, and even though I know that there is probably a good argument for letting children win games from time to time, I just can’t physically do it. I justify it by saying that I believe it’s important for them not to have success handed to them on a plate, that letting them win doesn’t teach them anything, but basically I just can’t stand losing.
It’s not a malicious thing, it’s just something in me that takes over. I very rarely get properly angry, but I imagine it’s a similar sensation to the red mist descending. My normal, rational self gets shoved to one side and a fierce, competitive instinct takes over. View Post
Today I have great pleasure in hosting a guest post from one of my readers, a lovely lady by the name of Beth.
Beth first commented on my blog on a post last summer called Once Upon a Time, a story about the one and only time in my life when I have had my heart truly broken. Most of the time my blog is fairly frivolous, but this post and Beth’s comment have stuck in my mind ever since, as the one time where I’ve felt like something I’ve written may have actually made a tiny difference in someone’s life.
This week Beth responded to a post I wrote about orgasms, commenting on her ex-partner’s rather selfish attitude in the bedroom, and I invited Beth to vent her frustrations in a formal letter of a complaint, in the hope that it would help her to lay to rest these ghosts of boyfriend past.
Beth took up the challenge, and here she is! Please make her very welcome…