Monday, 29 July 2013

Love is......

A modern day love story

"The course of true love never did run smooth"

Well thanks Bill Shakespeare that is somewhat of an understatement for me.

Some may even call me a cynic...

I've been thinking about where my cynicism came from. 

And I mainly blame the couples counsellor that me and the ex saw for a while. Yep we went down that route which was actually paved with more giggles and hilarity on our part that a deep analysis of why we weren't getting on.

It started with the counsellor telling us (while sitting in a very small, airless room) that we needed to communicate more. That every night when we got in from work we should sit together on the couch with the TV off, we should face each other, we should stare into each others eyes, hold each others hand and ask each other how our day had been. (Of course we were also supposed to ignore the toddling, demanding, adventurous two year old during our communication.)

Well that piece of advice was met with what can only be described as hilarity on our part - and that night me and the ex had a right giggle together laughing at the mentalness of the counsellor. We never did our homework, we didn't sit on the couch whilst holding hands but we did have a laugh that night.

And then there was the session for which I will never forgive.

She asked me what I wanted. I rather cleverly replied (or so I thought):

"Well I want the fairytale. I want Prince Charming to trot along on his white charger and carry me away."

Obvious I thought. It's what everyone wants isn't it?  

The stuff of fairytales...Snow White, Cinda f***kin rella (Pretty Woman), Richard Gere (Officer and a Gentleman) and the ultimate Tom Cruise (Top Gun).

Apparently not according to the counsellor as she turned the atmosphere into ice with one single breath, stared at me menacingly and stated:

"That's your problem. You still believe in fairy tales."

I know - I hear your sharp intakes of breath.

I looked at her shocked - and quickly checked all corners of the room half expecting to see all the fairies of the world immediately keel over and gasp their last teeny weeny breath. I saw Prince Charming fall from his white charger in an exhaled breath of harsh reality.

Anyway fast forward a few romantic trysts where I have met more Rumpelstiltskins, big bad wolves and trolls than has ever been seen in Grimm's Fairy Tales and the cynic in me was born.

Until this weekend when I attended a wedding of one of my besties. It was her second marriage. She has been the most laid back bride I ever did see. Six months before the wedding there was still no sign of the dress, until I decided enough was enough and we went a dress shopping. As she tried on her first (and only) dress she started crying at the emotion of her pending nuptials.

This weekend she continued to cry, her make-up (bought, purchased and ruined in a river of tears) lasted all of the walk down the aisle but she glowed throughout the day. 

The bride and groom were joined on their day by their four children and the oldest two children made speeches which melted the coldest of hearts. The son told how the bride has made his dad a better man, a softer man from which he had benefited and the daughter told us how she had seen her mum smile more in the past two years than she had in the last 16 years. There were more tissues passed round the tables than confetti on the floor.

The magic for me was watching two people who have spent a lifetime waiting simply love each other. Their love for each other was palpable.

They just work. And I wish them every happiness in the world.

The glow, the emotion, the beauty of the day was frankly magical. 

And the cynic in me was stilled. Oh and I got a present which always helps still said cynic. And it was sparkly.

Fairytales do exist. I just witnessed a modern day fairytale.

*Whispers* I believe.

*Whispers Louder* David Beckham I believe, come and get me (preferably on a white charger)

P.S. I now believe the counsellor to be Snow White's evil step mother.










Friday, 21 June 2013

The Week Where Everything Broke

The longest day of the year...EVER

Today has been crap. In fact this week has been pretty pants. Everything is breaking. Everything I say. 

Of course I am not exaggerating. 

Of course I am not being ridiculous.

And Bob the Builder appears not to appear on request. Or free.

Sometimes the whole single mum running a business thang becomes a bit overwhelming. Rarely happens but this was one of those days. 

It all started with the toilet seat trauma. So the toilet seat broke, completely cracked. I hasten to add before anyone casts aspersions it was not, I repeat not my fault, but the blame can be firmly planted at the feet of the small things as they stood on it to look in the mirror while they cleaned their teeth (imagine the shouty mum outburst the morning that was discovered). 

And of course nothing in this house is simple. Turns out the stupid expensive replacement toilet seat is not only stupidly expensive but also would take THREE months to arrive. Next time I shall be B&Q all the way - none of that designer Italian nonsense for me.

Turns out (after several million phone calls) it's cheaper and way quicker to buy a new loo. New loo purchased, picked up and now in hallway waiting for a suitable Bob the Builder to come and fit.

So in between toilet trauma and toilet seat resolution with purchase of new loo was the breaking of the bed. 

Cast your mind back to last weekend. Last weekend there were three of us in my bedroom, a night of fun was planned.....

STOP now with that thought......don't be so ridiculous.

Me and two of my friends were getting ready for a night on the town sipping fizz whilst applying mascara. Three girls sit on my bed to take this photo......


Mere seconds after the picture has been taken....

BED (from very reputable company) BREAKS. Bed which is only a year old SNAPS. Bed frame just caves in two. And I wouldn't mind but the straw that broke the bed frame was my very teeny weeny 5ft 3 friend.(names have been removed to protect their identity).

I am now currently waiting for the bed man to come and examine the breakage and determine the future of said bed. For now I am mainly lying very still in the middle of my bed as part of it is propped up on books - books I haven't yet read I may add.

Then there was technological hell as my emails went down...then server issues, then server issues as servers battled to outserve each other.

And finally at 3pm this afternoon my (expensive) push button bin broke. That pushed all the wrong buttons and I had a small strop.* A small strop that to be fair had been building all week due to the amazing achy breaky house.

(*complete breakdown throughout which the dog stared at me quizzically as if to say 'man up it's a bin FFS')

Then the small things came home from school. At this point I imagine most readers are covering their eyes thinking the smalls are going to get it from shouty mum extraordinaire. But my friends, that is not how this story ends.

7yo dispatched with his dad. 11yo with me due to concerts, leaver's party outfit shopping and some much needed mother/daughter time.

I anticipated me mainly sulking like a petulant teenager and drinking wine while the 11yo maturely watched TV and counselled me on seeing the bigger picture.

Instead we found gift cards for two shops and we went a spending. We then popped up to see my mum (who's birthday it is today). We spent a delightful few hours just mooching in each others company where I thought 'Wow it's quite cool having an 11yo daughter'.

We've spent quite a bit of time in the car and then I decreed it was only right and fair that I began her education into 90s music.

It started with this classic

The jaw-dropping embarrassment of my 11yo daughter combined with the loudness of me singling along to Dub Be Good to Me (complete with rapping) finally lifted my patheticness. (new word; feel free to use in times of patheticness)

Thus I give to you my lesson in life. (you can thank me later)

When everything breaks, when Bob the Builder can't be found, when the lottery hasn't been won and when the push button bin does not push the right buttons anymore play some funky music and sing loudly preferably in the presence of a small child.

It also helps if you combine the loud music and bad singing by winding the windows down and doing some crazy mum car dancing whilst driving along.

It's times like these when it's worth being a parent. 

When being a parent and embarrassing your small child makes everything better.

Here endeth this week's lesson. 

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dear Daughter

The Wonder Years

Dear daughter,

At this moment in time I am shouting upstairs to you yelling at you to go to sleep. You are shouting back telling me how many hours and minutes you have left as a 10 year old.

Some (everyone) may (will) describe me as a shouty mum:

"GET DRESSED, HURRY UP, CLEAN YOUR TEETH, LISTEN, I'M NOT TELLING YOU AGAIN, IF YOU DON'T GET A MOVE ON, I WILL MAKE YOU GO OUT LIKE THAT......"

The list is endless. Even now the night before your much anticipated 11th birthday I am shouting at you to go to sleep or you won't get your birthday breakfast. 

How time's change? 

11 years ago I was to be found wandering around this living room with a somewhat mahoosive bump thinking that the twinges I was feeling perhaps meant you were going to make an appearance three weeks early. 

As I was wandering round wondering whether labour was going to hurt (how naive),  the rest of my family were sitting in the kitchen eating mum's macaroni cheese to celebrate the occasion and having a sweepstake as to how long I was going to be in labour. (three-ish hours)

At midnight, we hightailed it to hospital and at 3.37am you were born. I remember spending what was left of the night simply staring at you, just watching you breathe, unable to believe that I was now a mum. That feeling has never left me. 

From that moment on my life changed.

Even now when I probably spend 90% of my time shouting, yelling and occasionally swearing, I thank my lucky stars that you are mine. Every night without fail, the last thing I do before I clamber under the duvet is to kiss you good night and watch you sleeping, watch you breathe, just like I did 11 years ago. 

Back then my main worry was that you kept breathing, and now my worries range from making sure that you keep breathing (yes still) to your schooling, your friendships, whether you can walk to school on your own, whether you eat enough veg, whether you will ever wear a dress, if you will be happy at high school ...worrying is a constant, a niggling, gnawing, tapping in any mum's mind.


I do miss you as a baby, your gurgling smile, your inability to put your feet on sand and even those hideously humiliating moments including carrying you out of a supermarket under my arm with your legs kicking and screaming (you didn't visit a supermarket for a long time after that). I don't miss the fact that you didn't actually sleep a full night until you were 17 months old.

But I mainly love watching you, watching you grow into a beautiful small thing sometimes at war with your own developing personality but always kind, always loving and giving.

I am mainly hugely proud to be your mum and tomorrow I shan't be shouting at you on your birthday, I shall be spending the day feeling blessed and trying not to shout at you on your birthday. And then when I take you and your friends out for tea, I shall mainly be drinking wine to dull the noise of six excited 11 year olds. 

This time 11 years ago I started on a journey where I learn something new every day, where I spin more plates than I ever thought was possible, and where I have a reason to smile every day. 

Tonight when I kiss your sleeping face goodnight and I am the first person to whisper Happy Birthday in your ear, I shall be sending a silent prayer of thanks that I am so blessed,

Love you my beautiful girl,

Your mum.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Where have all the red ants** gone?

How times change...

Do you remember those halcyon days when we had proper seasons? 

Do you remember that when spring sprung, we changed our wardrobes, we put away our winter clothes and we went to play in the fields in our t-shirts only coming home when we were hungry?

Some may accuse me of partaking in that commonly known syndrome that affects those people in their middle youth - the Rose Tinted Glasses (RTG) Syndrome. 

I have found through extensive research over a period of time (focus group with myself over a cup of coffee) that RTG Syndrome creeps up on you gradually. I admit that I may now believe that in the good old days when Zippy was the most radical thing on TV, we had it good. 

One day, there you are all care-free, running through the fields of long grass, playing Sycamore helicopters in your t-shirt as the searing heat of a British summer means coats were a long forgotten memory, and the next...you're sitting on the couch in your jumper in front of the fire in the spring remembering the good old days.

And then you realise you are officially a sufferer of RTG Syndrome.

Does this mean I am getting old? 

Does this mean that I am no longer in my middle youth, but I am actually middle-aged?

Does this mean I need to start drinking Horlicks?

These are questions that should really concern me. I do occasionally wonder if I am a sufferer of RTG Syndrome but the thing that is really bothering me, the thing that is keeping me awake at night and the best possible example that times have changed is the sad demise of the red ant**. 

WHERE HAVE ALL THE RED ANTS* GONE?

The tiny weeny red ant** typified my childhood summers.

Let's face it, we knew it was summer when we could sit on the kerb and play 'squash the red ant**' with the winner being announced due to how many red pinprick squishes you had on your fingers. It was an intellectual game allowing one to improve one's mental maths and the spirit of debate as you determined who had won.

This game usually happened after we had spent Saturday morning at the stables and I had groomed Smartie and me and my sister had skipped back from the stables holding hands, our skips in harmony and our soulful singing voices bringing our neighbours out for an impromptu summer concert.  

Okay okay that last bit was a lie, usually I was mainly annoyed that my sister was tagging along and tried to run away from her but we did play on our drive with Sindy dolls (Barbie was just not cool) and when we got bored of showjumping Sindy and we had taken our rabbit Blackie for a walk (yes he had a lead and yes he was called that) we then indulged in a game of squash the red ant**.

Today children have lost this fine art of finger dexterity, a fine outdoors pursuit which defined summer and kept us amused for at least three minutes before we got on our grifters and went for a bike ride across the fields only coming home when we were hungry.

I miss the good old days. 

*I am writing this post whilst proudly wearing Rose Tinted Glasses*

Oh no - I have just had a moment of clarity. Maybe we killed all the red ants**.

*Removes Rose Tinted Glasses and sobs*

**Since the writing of this blog it has been brought to my attention that they weren't red ants, but red money spiders - this explains a lot.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

New Year Celebrations

The pressure of Christmas


Don't tell my small things but I'm glad Christmas is over. The minute I took down the Christmas decorations on the 2nd January, yes the 2nd, I felt a sense of relief and started to look forward to 2013.

I know it's just one day, I know it's all about the giving and not the receiving but still the pressure of Christmas crept up on me and before I knew it I was stressed about one day of present giving mayhem and a giant roast.

It's the time of the year when the whole focus seems to centre on the family unit. When there is almost a silent competition on who can do it better and who can be the most cheery.

I do emotionally invest in Christmas, I make sure the house is twinkly and me and the small things did some mean Christmas dancing to Last Christmas. The Christmas party was a chaotic success and I have respectfully treated every day like Winesday. 

But I am glad it's over. 

And I'm really looking forward to January.

I have thought about it and I'm thinking it might be because I got a salad spinner for Christmas which didn't invoke the same excitement as my Grifter bike did back in 1983. Or possibly it's Rylan's fault for being on the Xfactor and ruining my countdown to Christmas; which frankly I did not think was sch-mazing.

Or maybe it's because we simply put too much pressure on ourselves to create this perfect picture when frankly the one we paint every day with the small moments, creating the every day memories with normal roasts, giggling with the small things and laughing with friends are the ones that really count.

So next year I plan to do it differently. I''m not cooking. I'm going out. And I am gifting myself many presents. (I know it's not all about the presents *lies*)

In the meantime we have the joy of January to look forward to; which many of you will be dreading because you will all be detoxing, drying out and dieting. 

WRONG. DIDDLY WRONG WRONG.

January is one of the best months of the year; you should all be celebrating for the following reasons:

1. It's my birthday in January
2. It's the start of a new year
3. I'm going skiing
4. I'm going skiing again
5. The pressure of Christmas is over
6. Did I mention it's my birthday?
7. Oh and it's my Uncle John's 65th birthday

The new year is a time to reflect, make new year resolutions, fail dramatically at achieving the new year resolutions, embrace Winesday and celebrate.

I demand you all embrace January with the same vigour you embraced Christmas but without the pressure.

Go on. Hop to it.