Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The One Where The Grass Isn't Always Greener But You Should Still Try New Things

Apparently there's advantages to having children when you're young (and by young I mean having at least one before you're 30). People bleat on about energy and "pinging back into shape" and other such nauseating banalities. What is never mentioned though is that you do miss out on things that aren't important in the grand scheme of things but that are Just Fun. And while of course you would never be without your offspring once they're there, sometimes you can't help but feel a little cheated.

I say you. I mean me but you may very well feel the same.

During my twenties, while my care free friends were in a seemingly non stop whirl of parties, going to clubs, hangovers, disastrous dates, flushes of first lust/love/whatever, lazy weekend brunches and last minute holidays, I was changing nappies and reading When Hippos Go Berserk on a loop [actually, everyone should read Hippos... because it's just a jolly good book] and fretting about school admissions and mortgages and Other Grown Up Stuff. I wasn't supposed to be doing those things but I did and to be honest, The Daughter and The Hairy Baby are the very best things that I've ever done so I didn't really notice that I sometimes minded that I was spending "the best years of my life" doing these things.

Apart from the times when I did and then such ridiculous self pitying occurred that could only be solved by a cry in the bath, some gin and then telling myself to get over it. It's so easy to romanticise what you don't have that it didn't occur to me that my friends were having the same thoughts about me. I had children and a mortgage on a decent sized house and a stable relationship - things that can seem mythically unattainable, especially when you're bombarded by magazines and newspapers warning that mortgages are impossible to get now and women are leaving it too late to have children and all sorts of other nonsense. It wasn't until one of my so called carefree friends confided that she was scared she'd never have the things I had that I realised we all suffer from bouts of Green Grass Syndrome. Of course we do. If you boil it all down, life is a competition and if someone else seems to be having a better time at it then you want what they have.

Like in 'When Harry Met Sally'. You know.

But here's the thing. Parenthood doesn't stop you doing the Fun Stuff. It's all too easy to be sucked into a rut - or routine as all the parenting books will coo at you - and to lose sight of yourself as an actual person. Not Mummy. Not someone's wife/girlfriend/partner. You. The person that exists alongside all of these other personas. The person that these personas wouldn't be without it existing. I acknowledge that I am incredibly lucky to have family nearby who are quite willing to take the girls if needed and incredibly lucky to have The Hairy Drummer who recognises that I'm entitled to time out to go and do the things I want to do same as he has the time out to go and do the things he wants to do [except when he has gigs in the borough of Westminster Council and their laughable decibel limit that he would break on his own].

Which is why I joined a choir. Leicestershire Rainbow Voices were nothing but welcoming and Tuesday practices have become a highlight of my week, never mind the fact that we did a performance in London which was frightening and exhilarating. I'd never sung in a choir before and the only singing I did in public was in the safety of karaoke with friends and fuelled by cocktails. But I said yes to being invited along instead of trying to find excuses why I couldn't or shouldn't go. And yesterday I went along to a swing dancing class that a friend suggested. My style of dancing can accurately be described as Indie Girl Indifference - in fact The Daughter's father has long joked I only have one move and just adapt it to the beat. He's not wrong. I'd done dancing lessons before but not for years and the fear of tripping over my own feet or standing on peoples toes was real. But I said yes and I went and it was brilliant fun. So much so that I stayed on for the more advanced class even though I was completely hopeless. The best thing was that everyone was nice and encouraging. 

There's a fear that people will laugh at you for thinking that you can do these things, that you're an over the hill mother going through some sort of crisis and really, shouldn't you be at home with the children because you had your time for fun. And there's also the fear for the socially awkward like me that you won't have anything of interest to say and everyone will think you're dull and not worth being friends with. But people are generally quite nice if you want to give something a go. And everyone finds it a little difficult to make friends. It's not like at school when a mutual liking of Fraggle Rock and pink wafer biscuits was all it took.

Willing to take that step outside your comfort zone and onto the greener grass shows that all grass is green really. You just have to take the first step to make it so.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The One Where Something Did Go Wrong...

So remember how everything was going swimmingly but I was waiting for something to go wrong? Well, it turns out my crazy paranoid mind was correct because I was told that my (admittedly rather loose) contract at work wouldn't be renewed after June.


I can't say it was hugely unexpected. I'm currently working in retail and times are tough. Particularly when you're trying to sell things people don't need at a price they don't want to pay. I had been quietly looking for a new job anyway but to be suddenly thrust into NEEDING to find a new job is quite the thing.

Part of the problem is that everyone wants a new job and so recruiters have the luxury of picking and choosing on a whim and they also have the technology to do the sifting for them. Why go through hundreds of applications when you can get a piece of software to pick out the keywords for you? It doesn't matter if you overlook someone who could probably do the job better but doesn't have the exact word you're looking for on their CV because your software has found someone who does have the word.

That doesn't bother me. What does bother me is the silence. The huge gaping void into which you shout "HEY! I'M AWESOME! HIRE ME!" and get nothing back except the sound of your hopes being dashed. Would it be too much to expect even a small email saying "Thanks but no thanks"? Apparently so. So where recruiters have found software to do their job for them, they haven't figured out how to BCC a mass email to a list that can be compiled in minutes. This lack of simple, basic politeness is at once depressing and disrespectful. It says that their time is more important than yours; that because you don't quite meet their expectations, you are unworthy of their attention; that no response at all is far more demoralising than a flat rejection. We're grown ups - we can handle rejection but nobody likes to be ignored.

Having said that, I plough on. Onwards, upwards, heck, out to the sides if needs be. Because HEY! I AM AWESOME! HIRE ME!

Someone will hear eventually.

Monday, 11 March 2013

The One Where I'm Waiting For Something To Go Wrong...

*blows dust off*

Oh hi there. Yes, it has been a while hasn't it? Well, I've been busy. I had a baby and got a new job and well, life kept happening. Except it's been happening rather well and it's now that I start worrying.

The irrational behaviour of my brain has been something I've battled with for a while. When things are going rather badly, I always find some sort of positive to get me through it. It's quite strong in that way. But that means when things are actually rather peachy, I'm worrying that something is going to go wrong.

What is it that makes me unable to cope with life being ok? At this moment in time I have a job, The Hairy Drummer has a job, we have two healthy and happy children, we have a nice warm house to live in and food in the cupboards. The general health and happiness of our nearest and dearest is in fine fettle too.

But there's a niggle.

Let's call him Nigel. Nigglesome Nigel has settled himself into my head and is whispering that something is bound to go wrong. It can't be this good for long. It never is for you, he whispers, almost cackling with glee at the thought of this glimmer of perfection crashing down around me. And I listen to him even though I know he's wrong. But what if he's right? There's always something isn't there? Like my house burning down and losing my job. Sure, that could've been all my bad luck for a while but what if it's not?

It's at this stage that self-sabotaging becomes a very real prospect. I just want to hide under my duvet and not come out, preferring to lose myself in an endless supply of books and box sets. I did this once and ended up flunking university and therefore life at that time. It ruined friendships and what I'd thought my future would be. Nigel niggled and said I deserved it, that I wasn't as great as I thought I was, that I was just another failure. It took a while to shut him up but when I finally did, everything was ok.

And so it is now. Luckily I'm able to call upon some excellent people who understand what I'm thinking and why I think it. It's learning to do this, to not internalise and listen to Nigel, that helps you through. It doesn't make Nigel go away completely but at least I can tune him out today.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The One Where We Catch Up

Oh dear. I'm sorry. It really is a case of it wasn't you, it was me. I've neglected you again and I'm sorry. Truly. But this is what's been happening....

I had to go back to work. Full time. Which is time consuming in a boring way when you don't have internet access during the day.

My dad decided that his visit would coincide with Christmas and last for seven weeks instead of the five he'd planned.

My house still wasn't finished.

The Daughter reached her fifth birthday unscathed.

My house still wasn't finished.

And now? My house still isn't finished. That's right, dear reader, I have technically been homeless since July 2009. Considering I won't move back in until May 2010, that's nearly a year. I could have done a petty crime and been housed at Her Majesty's Pleasure and been released in that time. Or grown a baby.

You know how I said I thought I'd got a builder who understood what a schedule was? Yeah, that didn't happen. Instead The Loss Adjuster and The Surveyor decided to go with the cheapest quote. One of the first things you learn when you deal with builders is that you never, ever go with the cheapest quotes.


Because stuff like this happens. It's too dull to recount but at the moment, the builders are an impressive 12 weeks behind schedule. The fact that another company could have done all the work in 12 weeks is neither here nor there. The fact that the lease on the temporary house ran out 4 weeks ago is also, apparently, neither here nor there.

Meanwhile, The Daughter and I are ensconced at my mother's, Teh Kitteh is annoying The Archaeologist and The Hairy Drummer is annoying his parents. It is far from ideal and I'm tired from trying to get things moving along at a more acceptable pace.

And to top it all off, Arsenal are currently losing to Spurs.


Friday, 2 October 2009

The One Where I Don't Get Other Parents

So The Daughter started school three weeks ago and I had to mingle with Other Parents. When Sartre said hell is other people, he obviously had not met Other Parents otherwise he wouldn't have been so generic.

I'm not entirely sure what to do with them and what I consider to be their bizarre parenting actions. Allow me to explain.

On the first day, The Archaeologist and I did the dutiful parent thing and took The Daughter to school and went with her to her classroom. Once she'd found her peg and name to put on the wall, she waved us off cheerily and away we went, pushing through the throngs of wailing children and weeping parents.

On the second day, The Daughter politely informed me that I didn't need to go in with her as she knew where she was going and besides, she was a Big Girl now. Quite right too so again, cheery waving and away I went, pushing past wailing children and weeping parents.

On the third day, there were barely any wailing children yet still the Other Parents were taking their little darlings into the classroom, taking their coats off for them and generally fussing.

Three weeks later and they're STILL doing it. I'm at a loss to understand why. Do they have so little faith in their children's ability to perform simple tasks like taking off a coat??

But then you hear how they talk to The Little Darlings. It's all very nice and polite. All asking and no telling.

"Can you please not push that child over [insert horribly trendy middle class name like Alfie here]? It's not very nice is it?"

"Oh he's full of high spirits today!" as said high spirited child is running around screaming and generally being irritating.

There's no telling off, no discipline, blindness to the fact that their cosseted darling is behaving badly. But then here's the amazing thing - I'm asked how I get The Daughter to behave and do things for herself and eat all her food without fussing, like it's some kind of nuclear secret.

The thing is, there isn't a secret. I simply tell her what to do and she does it. If she doesn't then she knows she'll be in trouble. She eats all her food because she knows if she doesn't there's nothing else until the next meal. I know parents who've made up to six different meals in order to get their child to eat what amounts to a full one. Surely this is lunacy? Why teach them that they can have whatever whim they decide on? Why teach them that they're the ones who can call the shots?

I don't know whether it's because the Other Parents are older (or seem it at least) than me. I don't know whether it's because they've read every 'parenting manual' (dear Jeebus, don't get me started on those...) ever published and their heads are filled with so much conflicting information that they have lost all capability of thinking for themselves.

What I do know though is that for all intents and purposes, how they parent is none of my business and they've probably had the same thoughts about me. I just hope they don't ask me for any more advice!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

The One Where Overhearing Made Me Laugh

Oh dear girls of the world. If you all think how these two unfortunates do in the following conversation I overheard between two girls working in H&M the other day, then I weep for you and the future of mankind.

No, really. People this stupid or, more kindly I suppose, naive will bring about the apocalypse.

Girl #1: So really, when he's not talking to you or like texting you or y'know, he's not ignoring you. He's really just like really thinking about what he wants to say to you.

Girl #2: Really?

Girl #1: Yeah. It's like he doesn't want to say the wrong thing so he's like really taking the time to think about it before. Men do that.

I couldn't hear any more of this fascinating exposé on the inner workings of men's minds for laughing too hard and then being glared at by these poor creatures.

They'll learn. We all do at some point hopefully.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

The One Where Everything Seems To Be Coming Together

I'm bringing this missive to you, dear reader, from the comfort of a bed on a gloriously sunny, if crisply chilled, September day. I am positively revelling in my unemployed status so long as my bank account affords my this luxury.

Also, I've found a builder who understands that simple jobs don't take that long to do and that I may be back in my own house before Christmas.

And The Daughter has started school with no problems whatsoever.

And two of my lovely friends got married.

And I got my shiny new laptop.

And some new shoes.

Life, at the moment, is pretty alright actually.