Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Lazy lazy summer

The summer holidays have started. Two full months of sheer nothingness. (And a birth, but let's disregard that for the moment.) The children started off not badly today by sleeping until nine. I think with a little bit of training I can get that up to ten. By the fifteenth of July, I fully intend for breakfast to be around 11.30.

The heat has also made an appearance. For the last couple of weeks, it's been gearing up to this Friday, with the promise of 35 degrees. I'm just hoping to still find my ankles by that time. I will just sit in the garden with my feet in the paddling pool. I have to go out and buy crisps and ice lollies. Summer things.

My brain isn't working.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Six years

I tried tonight to tell Jack the story of his birth. I didn't know where to start or which bits to leave out. So I tried to tell him how I felt six years ago tonight, when I was holding him in my arms and Babes and I were trying to understand that we had become parents. How happy we were. How amazed we were. How all of a sudden we were a family. How I cried. I think I may have freaked him out a little by crying again. I told him it was a happy cry. That boy knows to his bones that he is loved. Which makes me happy to my bones.

I fully intended to celebrate my own birth-day today as well, as so many of you do. I couldn't. I don't know why. I think I felt that it would be selfish to make this day about me as well as him, even if he was at school while I did. Catholic guilt runs deep. When we were talking together tonight, Jack told me he loves me, which he doesn't often do. I think that's all I could have wanted for my birth-day anyway.

Friday, 25 June 2010

The logic of the two-and-a-half year old, followed by a definite case of TMI

Marie, dropping her ice cream onto the table, went "Oh my god." In English.
I just about taught her the additional phrase "What the fuck?" but was too busy giggling.

After my very passionate speech about voting and the democratic process (I do this speech every time we vote, which in Belgium is about once a year), she said: "I'm going to choose that I become the boss."
Maybe I missed out a couple of vital parts of the explanation there.

Also, she's still convinced that she'll grow a penis someday soon, even though I keep telling her she won't. She is disappointed every time. She has accepted breasts as a consolation prize.


I don't know how I ever managed without wet wipes. I can't remember the first time I used them myself. Maybe I ran out of toilet paper and had some handy. Maybe I just thought "what if" and that was that. Life was never the same again. And not just to get stains out of clothes (works a treat), wipe dried snot off faces, remove dog poo from shoes, or clean anything sticky. I have to have some next to the toilet now.

Whenever I go to a bathroom somewhere else and foolishly forget to take my handbag with its supply of wipes, I hope no number two will be forthcoming. The few times my prayers were not heard and I was reduced to the use of prehistoric dry bog roll, I actually got the toilet blocked. Which I can't remember doing all that often before wet wipes. (Well, then it was more like 10% of the time instead of 90%.)

I get those Arabs and their need for water in the loo. They apparently think we're filthy because we consider paper sufficient. They are so right. I vote sink, water, soap, washcloth (a clean one for every new visitor, obviously). Probably better for both the environment and the plumbing than flushing wipes.

(Also - when you say "wet wipes" a lot in the same conversation, do you also end up saying it "wepwipes?" It seems a natural progression to me.)

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Tribal wives - a rant

Why is it that when six women go to live with a tribe for a TV programme, they call the show "Tribal Wives?" It's not like they are having sex with the tribe's men (as far as I know - but hey they go for a month, perhaps some get lucky when the cameras are off). They're not producing children or staying for more than a month. They just happen to live with the women to show what their lives are like.

When a man goes to live with a tribe, it's called "Tribe." Not "Tribal Husband." Because that would be silly, right? When a man goes off into the jungle, it's an adventure. He will hunt, fight and laugh with the men. The women will be around but they are more of an accessory. The man might stay with a family, but in no way will he then be a temporary "husband" to the woman whose house he is staying in. He will not share the wife of his host - because that would be madness, right? To even suggest such a thing in the show's title would just be ridiculous.

... but when women go to stay in a tribal community, and they go to live with the women, there is the automatic assumption that she will be somehow in the care of the man of the house. If she lives with a man's wife and helps to take care of this man's children, this makes her, even if it's just symbolic and temporary, some kind of co-wife. "Tribal wives." I ask you! I don't know who comes up with these things. And how did various BBC committees who no doubt had their say on the preparations of this programme not see the problem in the title?

Maybe it's a cunning marketing ploy to get men to watch the show. Maybe the title "Tribal Wives" was designed specifically to make them believe that they would be watching women being submissive to men. Now there's a fun hour's entertainment. Perhaps there would even be some breasts on show. Surely it's implied.

Why couldn't they just have called it "Tribal Women?" Does that sound too strong? Would the male part of the audience be alienated? Who wants to see women go anywhere anyway? Shouldn't they be at home looking after their families like good little girls? What are they doing swanning off to faraway places? Better keep them in their place by defining them only in relation to men. "Wives" will do the trick quite nicely.

Fucking hell, that kind of thing pisses me off like not much else will.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Birthday 0 - Me 1

I am a survivor. Of a sixth birthday party with thirteen children attending. A party I had to manage, but thank fuck for organised "you hand over your money we will make the pancakes and provide the playground" situations. Still, my 7 1/2 months pregnant form had to pour a lot of drinks, settle a lot of disputes, put suncream on a few children and cut a fair number of pancakes. I am most grateful that both An and my mother came to help, especially after yesterday when half-baked boy decided to turn himself head-up (and feet right down in my bladder/pelvic area) and kick start my practice contractions. For some of the party, he had hiccups just underneath my ribs. Another hour or so he just stretched himself out nicely. Very cute and entertaining, actually.

A nice little detail: all thirteen children also survived this party. Not even a little collateral damage. I would have accepted a bloody nose or a scraped knee as acceptable injuries, but not even that. The best they came up with were a lost plaster and a bruise-to-be.

After this first party, I just have the family party to go on Sunday, but Babes will be around for that, and we're doing a leisurely barbecue in the garden. That should be just fine. In fact, it will be a lot of fun if we get the paddling pool out and have a pretty cake. And then there's the actual birth-day of course, but all we need then is some home-made decorations and a card, and he gets to pick his own dinner. After which the school holidays start and I will get a rest. Oh yeah. (Sarcasm alert.)

Back to today's party - what I noticed was how incredibly accustomed these children are to everything being done for them. If it didn't make me sound like such an old crone, I'd say "children nowadays don't know the value of money" and "these kids today are spoilt rotten." Ah what the hell - children nowadays really don't know the value of money and they are completely spoilt rotten. I have grey hair and a pointy nose - I can be a crone.

So many of the children came to tell me they were "hungry" after the pancakes, and a lot were "thirsty" but not willing to drink the left-over lemonade. My birthday boy joined in nicely - one friend turned up with his granny but no present, and Jack was very indignant: "What do you mean, no present?" I had a quiet word, but my point was rather spoiled by the mother turning up later with two large presents (both of her children were invited).

I need a rest just now. That seems to be all I do in the evenings now - rest. Last night, I even had to admit defeat and not blog on a weekday. It felt awful, but it had to be done. I went to sleep at eight o'clock with the children and didn't reemerge until seven this morning. (I tossed and turned from one to six, but hey I was resting - sort of.)

I'm going to have to accept that this is going to happen more often, however much I hate it. I have started to carry a notebook in my bag, though - thus making the most of inspiration when it strikes. My long-term memory being reduced to about a five minute interval just now, that is no luxury. I just got myself a new diary (the last one ran out in January - I figured it was time) and on next Thursday's slot, it just says "Doing something, but WHAT?" If I'm doing something with you, please do tell me.

Right - I'm going to watch some mindless TV now, and then I'm going to complain to Babes for a while because we're out of lovely icecream (I forgot to buy more). Then more rest. Future posts I am contemplating:
Lost without wet wipes
The puddle in the kitchen
Can you tell we're still potty training?

Monday, 21 June 2010

This may get ugly

Oh, I am in a BAD MOOD! And the only thing I know I can do is stay the hell AWAY from people. (Not from you poor buggers of course. I need to rant somewhere.) I am trying to stay as far away from my family as possible just now. I told the children "Mama has her monster" which Jack understands fine - he gives me a hug and goes to play outside - but Marie somehow finds it unfair and goes "No, mama, you have TWO monsters" - she thinks I'm not counting her. Nevermind.

I'm lucky to have a husband who understands and will feed the children their dessert (I lasted all the way through dinner - yay me) and put them to bed. Even though he didn't quite get how bad I am today, because he did ask me to put Marie in her pyjamas, which ended with both of us in tears. Still not quite sure how that happened. I was trying to be patient.

I don't know what's going on. No doubt it's hormones, and fatigue, and pregnancy. Also the fact that the house is a tip and nothing's ready for the baby. And the fact that everyone's been telling me I'm so FAT. Which I know they wouldn't tell me if I was generally obese. I know they mean only my belly which is meant to be growing, but it got to me too much, and I just can't enjoy food any more so in the past month I have put on NO WEIGHT and now I'm feeling all guilty about that. The next person who tells me I "must be carrying twins" or "that must be for any day now" or "pull your stomach in" is getting punched in the nose. Actually, more likely they will get to see me dissolve into tears and then run away. But I can fantasize about punching them, right?

I'm going to bed. Safest place when I feel like this. Because I will say or do something I regret if I stay around people just now.

Oh, and I hate
  • The World Cup (for reducing the number of comforting shows on TV)
  • Wimbledon (idem)
  • rain
  • duvets that shed tiny feathers
  • children who shout
  • everything really.
Ah, fuck this. I'm really going to bed now. And if Babes brings me fruit and ice cream I may not kick him when he tries to get into his half of the bed later.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Internet, stop messing with my head!

Internet, what's up?

How come one day you all come and visit me and the next day you all stay away? Is it because you're all at the same party? Is it something to do with the weather or national holidays I know nothing about? Is it because you only want posts about penises?

And what the hell is going on with comments? How come I can get loads of comments on a low visitor day and then hardly any when all of you pass by here?

Internet, I'm insecure. Tell me what's going on.

(And also - how do you deal with writer's insecurity, comment envy and stats obsession?)

Thursday, 17 June 2010

You would think so, wouldn't you?

You'd think that
  • a TV presenter could learn not to say "kind of" every other sentence.
  • a clean white school uniform T-shirt wouldn't attract four different colours of stain in a single day.
  • it would be a crime to make Dalziel (of Pascoe) full-on snog a young woman on TV.
  • you'd think of a plan B before drilling for oil a mile deep.
  • I'd stop eating bananas if I was already constipated. Hypothetically.
  • after giving birth twice, I wouldn't be scared of the next time.
  • Brits would have got fed up with house buying and redecorating shows by now. Seriously, how many can a person watch? It's pathetic.
  • Marie would have slept for at least a couple of hours uninterrupted last night.
  • I'd know that Marie's sore leg after an afternoon in the playground is not something to worry about.
  • I'd be happy to see that girl go for a two night sleepover at her granny's, giving me a break. (She insisted on going on her OWN, for TWO nights.) I love her being independent but I want to take care of her when she sleeps badly/has a sore leg.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar

I woke up in the middle of a dream this morning. It was a dream that would have pleased Freud no end. He would look at me drily and go "Duh!" and also "I told you about dreams, didn't I?" Because that's how Freud would roll if he was still alive.

From the very start, the topic of the dream was clearly defined: depression. A close relative of mine was depressed but not showing it. He arrived for lunch, and a discussion followed on the nature of depression and how to recognise it. I said it was when you couldn't accomplish anything, and all you wanted to do was sleep or watch TV - the only time you could manage things was if you needed to be seen to be managing, or you needed to in order to keep a job or take care of children. And then no one could tell you were depressed. (I suppose we weren't talking about the full-on non-functioning depths of depression.) He just agreed and said he'd been asleep until right before lunch and now he seemed fine, but as soon as he was on his own again he'd go back to sleep.

Then An, may birdpoop only fall after she has already passed by, arrived on the scene. My sister who is mad about psychology and about Freud. (This is not a subtle dream.) More discussions about depression.

Then... THEN! I was in a lovely forest/nature-like place and my house was in the middle of it, with a pretty fence and a gorgeous garden. It was such a very idyllic place to live. Only the paint was flaking off and all around the house in the garden and on the path outside were boxes of junk. These boxes were spoiling the house completely and they stopped people getting to my house, as if there was an obstacle course of junk to get to my lovely core. (I know - subtle.)

Two people from my choir were there, looking through the boxes and trying to clear them up. One of them was my cousin, who is the choir chairman and who I have on occasion let down by not checking bank statements etc. quickly enough (I am the choir's treasurer). The other was a lovely woman who teaches courses involving stress reduction and mindfulness. I really like her. Part of the reason I really like her is that she seems so very sorted in her life. These two people were sorting through the junk stopping people getting to my pretty house. (Enough already, Freud!)

The state of my house and the content of the boxes were profoundly embarrassing to me. I just wanted to disappear and for the helpful people to go away and leave me to it. The boxes were falling apart and dirty and they were full of random paperwork, toys, books, tissues - many of them were half empty. Isn't it funny (sad-funny I suppose, not funny-funny) that my pretty house was so literally surrounded, spoilt and blocked off by all my ugly baggage?

So - I don't think we need Freud, do we? What a dream. What a dream. Time to get rid of some mental junk methinks. I'm not depressed just now, but I'm taking this as a very unsubtle warning about the future from my subconscious.

Damn Freudian dreams confronting me with my damn demons. Damn dirty cardboard demons full of junk.


I just thought - I'm glad in my dream I had a lovely house surrounded by junk, rather than a grotty flat dressed up with fine paints and pretty flowers on the outside. Basic self-esteem seems to be in place.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Back off, weird dog-lady!

I took the children around the supermarket and cunningly let them each take one of these miniature trolleys. The joy! The stress! The battered ankles! (Only our own.) Suffice to say I was a little irritable when we finally got past the tills and were on our way to put the little fucking mothertorturing devices back.

At the exit, our path was blocked by a woman with two huge dogs. They were wolf-like black and white dogs. I don't know anything about dogs, but they were like large snow-German shepherds. The woman and the dogs together were filling up about half the space between the two sets of sliding doors, and completely blocking the way to the area in which we had to leave the trolleys. It wasn't raining outside and it was quite warm, so she could easily have been a couple of meters further away and stayed outside.

Now, if you've been visiting here a while you know I'm not a huge dog fan but I do appreciate that other people like their dogs. I'm not even all that scared of dogs. (Could just be the OCD. Dogs do smell and slobber.) I just would like not to have them thrust into my face. Especially not the huge wolf-like ones. I don't know what these animals are like. For all I know they're not safe with children. I don't know what they're going to do when faced with two small children pushing two shopping carts with flags waving above them. I REALLY don't like that kind of situation. It always makes me feel like liberties are being taken with me.

In hindsight of course I should have just left the trolleys on the other side of the entrance and left her to it. I don't know why the urge to put things back "in their proper place" is so strong in me that I won't even consider any alternatives.

Instead, cunningly, I sighed and looked annoyed (probably shouldn't have done that) and tried to maneuver the children past her and her giant wolf-dogs as quickly as possible. I didn't say a thing to her. I felt like I was being quite restrained.

She, however, did not restrain herself quite so much. My sigh drew forth a lecture from her about how the dogs were perfectly friendly (I don't believe weird dog-ladies, with apologies to any dog-lady readers - I love you all and I'm sure you're not weird in that way) and how I was teaching my children to be scared of dogs. WTF lady. I had just been around the supermarket with two children pushing two small shopping trolleys. I was NOT in the MOOD for a LECTURE. I just rolled my eyes at her and hurried out with the children, muttering under my breath "Yeah yeah, whatever lady."

I don't feel like I'm teaching my children to be scared of dogs. (Am I?) I just don't trust any old large dog with a weird dog-lady attached to it to be safe around my children. I am, when I'm not exhausted, teaching them to be careful around dogs, to not trust them automatically.

I sat in the car, fuming, thinking of all the things I should have said to the woman.
  • I'm not scared of dogs, but if I was I would like you to back off with them rather than lecture me in front of my children.
  • I'm just being cautious with my children around giant wolfdogs, weird dog-lady!
  • How do I know your dogs won't freak out around two children with metal trolleys? What if they accidentally push one into one of their paws or tails? You ARE blocking their way completely.
  • Why can't you just stay outside instead of being ALL OVER the entrance to a shop, where dog lovers AND dog haters shop? Everyone is forced to get really close to your GIANT STINKY SLOBBERING carnivores. (Have I mentioned I'm not crazy about large dogs?)
Or, if I was feeling a little assertive:
  • What the fuck lady? Get your fucking wolves out of my fucking face because I am motherfucking CRANKY after going around the shops all tired, pregnant and with two small children pushing two cocksucking small shopping trolleys. I am NOT in the mood to deal with your fucking animals!
Perhaps it was just as well I couldn't think of anything to say at the time.

Maybe I'm being unreasonable. But why couldn't that lady just have stayed a couple of meters away from the entrance? I think the owners of very large dogs should be aware that not everyone is a fan of their animals. They could give people the option to avoid their pets, by - for example - not blocking the exit of a shop for an indefinite amount of time. Or the entrance to the rabbit enclosure in the children's farm, for that matter (another place I couldn't get out of without passing a big canine the other day).

Ah well, I hope I haven't alienated all dog lovers out there. It's not dog owners I dislike (I love some of my dog-owning neighbours) - it's the ones that insist on continually pushing their animals into my face.

Stupid weird dog-lady!

*walks off muttering to self like weird non-dog-owning lady...*

Monday, 14 June 2010

In which I bowl over a serious yet pretty historian with my clever yet witty insights - or perhaps not

On Saturday, I was invited to a literary breakfast by my parents. It was all very civilised: champagne, tasty bites to eat, the company of my lovely sister An, may her exam results reflect her dazzling brilliance. Four authors had been invited to speak about their latest books. They were interviewed by well known journalists. You know, the kind of morning that is meant for clever people.

Not people with pregnancy dementia.

In between the interviews, there was time to get the authors' autographs. I'm not really into autographs - I don't get why people find them interesting. Personally written dedications I get, but you're unlikely to get that when you're standing in a line with other people and the writer has never met you before. When I do get an autograph, I use it as an excuse to meet the author and maybe have a meaningful exchange of words with them. You know, see the person behind the writing.

One of the authors was there to talk about his masterful history of the Congo. He has been hyped all over the Belgian media and he's a pretty and young guy. He was very intense in his interview, full of love for Africa and full of genuine caring for the people caught up in the recent atrocities in the Congo and surrounding countries. He didn't just write a dry history - he went to meet people who had lived through it all and recounted their stories. He even interviewed a 126 year old man who was born before the colonisation.

I'd really been looking forward to meeting him, so I was very happy to find he'd been seated at our very table. After his interview, I went up to have my book signed, but really I was hoping to have a magical meeting of minds in which we would have a brief but meaningful moment of realisation that we were kindred spirits. In another life we'd surely be good friends. You know the kind of meeting I mean.

Knowing that I've recently had problems in the intelligence department, what with my belly parasite leeching the energy and brains out of me slowly, I took An along. I gave her very clear instructions: "I get my book signed, you say something intelligent." Excellent plan. An is very intelligent. I am very good at handing over a book for a signature. With this wonderful plan in place, we approached the author. My knees were trembling a little. They do that when I'm about to talk to a caring, fiercely intelligent and not altogether bad-looking man. Bad, bad knees.

Together, we approached the lovely historian. This is when the fatal flaw in my plan was revealed: we should have considered our order of approach more carefully. As it was, my sister was behind me so I was the first to the scene. Capital mistake! I foolishly struck up a conversation without waiting for my intelligence backup.
Me: I really enjoyed your interview. 
I should have left it at that. That was fine. Fair enough, I kind of implied I enjoy hearing of atrocities and colonial horrors, but so far I'd not made any major faux pas. Now all I had to do was hand over my book and LEAVE THE CONVERSATION TO AN. She is studying to be a psychologist. It's been seven years since a parasite sucked her brain out. It's mostly grown back by now. She would have done a sterling job.

But no. My mouth has no off button.
Me: I'm looking forward to reading your book...
... well, except for the horrible bits.
Yeah. We had a gorgeous meeting of minds. He saw what a genius I am and was moved to invite me to a further extended discussion of international politics and peacekeeping protocol.

I tried to save the situation:
Me: I mean - because of the pregnancy I'm not good with descriptions of violence. I'm too hormonal and emotional.
Because he needed the explanation, with my huge stomach pushed up in his face and me blathering on. I'm sure he was delighted to know that I was looking forward terribly to reading his huge, personal and meticulously researched history of the Congo, as long as I could skip any inconveniently unpleasant bits. Because really it was quite insensitive of him not to gloss over any atrocities considering his book might also be read by pregnant women.

In fact, I should have told him I might have already read his history had it not been for the Marian Keyes novel that keeps the light off my face every night when I fall asleep underneath it. That would have established my intellectual credentials.

I have four university degrees, you know. You just can't tell because I do a really good impression of a complete moron. Damn parasites. They are eating my brains.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

A big day in Belgian politics - with the usual messy results

I'm watching the Belgian election results come in on TV. We've had quite a revolution. In the past, we've had scarily high results for Flemish extremists, but because of their undemocratic and borderline fascist policies they were always excluded from actual decision making. This time, there has been a landslide in favour of a democratic Flemish nationalist party. This will seriously shake things up in this country.

So this guy seems to have won the Belgian elections, at least in Flanders:

Bart De Wever

No, sorry - that's an old picture. Here he is as he looks today:

Bart De Wever

He's gone from 8 seats in the chamber (comparable to the Commons in Britain or Congress in the States) to 27. This is a serious win.

Bart De Wever is a very intelligent man. Even I can admit that, even though he's too far on the right wing for my liking. He's always grumpy on TV as well, which I find endearing. He's not trying to charm anyone with fake smiles or false friendliness. Strangely, he also keeps saying he doesn't particularly want to be prime minister. He does look to be about the issues rather than personal ambition.

Interestingly, in a Belgian election, this guy has won basically on the promise that he will try to split up the country. His party is called the "New Flemish Alliance" and has as its aim to make Flanders as indepent from Wallonia as possible.

This may not be too easy for him to do, because these are national elections - even though you sometimes can't tell in Flanders. We can only vote for Flemish (Dutch speaking) parties, the Walloons (French speakers) can only vote for their own parties, but then in Parliament and in the government they will have to sit and rule together. Bart De Wever will now be in the Parliament with eleven (11!) other parties. The Walloons have five parties, and the Flemish have seven parties in total. Actually, there are more, but many didn't get enough votes to get seats in Parliament.

Final election results

Overall, Bart De Wever and his party will have just over 17% of the vote. Which will make it very difficult for him to form a government and deliver on his promises. Politics in Belgium is always - always - a compromise. In order to reform the country, against the will of the Walloons, he will have to form a coalition with the main Walloon parties as well as other Flemish parties. To make this even easier, the Flemish winner is a right-wing separatist party, while in the South the clear winner is the Socialist party, which is in favour of the union of the country - the two are ideologically completely opposed to each other.

I think we are about to have another time of bickering and impossible negotiations, to then end up with a government which is as fragmented as we've ever had. (We chuckled at the shock felt in Britain at the thought of a coalition of two parties. A six party coalition is not uncommon over here.) Our governments are notoriously unstable, but then again, they do represent a larger majority of the people than in many other countries. Decisions may always be a compromise, but at least we don't get told how to live by a small minority.

(I voted for the Flemish Socialists, just in case you wanted to know. They look like they will end up with 13 seats.)
(Post has been edited to reflect final results.)

Friday, 11 June 2010


I just deleted a whole post I wrote about some stuff that offended me today. My heart wasn't in it after the ten minutes I spent with Marie tonight. She was lying on my belly in her darkened bedroom, hands cupped around the baby's moving feet while I sang her melancholy songs.

I don't feel like complaining.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Google - wonderful, yet also creepy

So did you know that if you follow blogs on Blogger, you aren't anonymous? As in - people can see who you are? Google really does my head in sometimes. Like when they pulled that "Buzz" stunt without asking and for a bit my bloggy friends and my real life family could see each other. (I hyperventilated.)

I have now unfollowed everyone in Blogger and I hope I got everyone in my Google Reader. Which I hope is magically anonymous. (Please tell me if you know it's not - I will change to another programme. Seriously. This is freaking me out.)

Small problem: I seem to have "mislaid" about five blogs. I think they were some that I wasn't really reading anyway, but if I all of a sudden stop visiting you, do come over and let me know. I really think I kept all the crucial ones.

Right - Babes is making me a big ice cream sundae, with banana, chocolate sauce AND chocolate sprinkles, so I must be off to pig out and then lie very still on the sofa.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

A meandering post about blogging, pregnancy and being a little lost

Inspiration - I thought it would come back with the rain. When the sun shines, there's too much gardening, too many playgrounds, too many barbecues to think about sitting indoors with a computer. I was sure the rain would fix all that. But writing is a precious and fragile thing.

To write this blog, my world needs to satisfy too many conditions. I need to be lonely enough - too many friends at the door, and my head is filled with them. Too lonely is not good either - if I lock myself in the house I don't feel good enough about myself to fill these pages. Too depressed and the words don't come - all I want to do is sleep. Not depressed enough and I will be sitting in the garden with a drink, quite content to sit and watch the children and not wanting to bitch about anything on here. Then there's sickness, pregnancy, full diaries. I wonder how I ever get to write at all.

Just now, I suppose the pregnancy is making me sleep about four hours more every day than I would otherwise. My back kills me whenever I sit in a chair for too long. I've gone all sentimental when it comes to my children and will spend ages making a jigsaw or colouring with them. Or just cuddling. Earlier, I lay on the sofa with Marie, just holding her for half an hour.

I can't get my reader to go below 120 posts just now. I try to keep up, but there's just too many. I'm thinking of culling some blogs. There are some I've visited for ages, but there's never been any return visits (like never, not even one), so I may just give up. However lovely they are, they do make me feel bad (Why don't they love me?) and I like to be part of a community which implies a certain reciprocity.

I'm just bitching a little and feeling sorry for myself. I feel fat today, and tired. I pulled a muscle while sitting on the sofa earlier. I feel like the next couple of months are going to be impossible to manage. I feel like I owe it to the children to spend their summer in parks riding bikes and going to the farm. I will probably try to manage as well, meaning I'll be completely finished by four or five every day. Which leaves two or three hours of HELL with two bouncy children before Babes comes home.

I can't get my head around the idea that in two months' time I will have a small baby again. The idea seems so abstract. It could hardly be anything else moving around in my belly, but still I can't understand the concept of a small boy - ours, new, real. I have so many fears about the birth - how will we both get through it - and the health of this baby - isn't asking for three healthy children plain greedy and stupid? Am I tempting faith? As a result, I have my head firmly in the sand. I have some onesies, even some nappies, but I have done nothing about sorting our babyclothes (still in the attic), sorting the bedroom (still occupied by toddler), even finding a name or arranging the logistics for the two others when I'm in the hospital. I am metaphorically singing LALALA in my head every time someone mentions birth or tiny babies.

Maybe my inspiration is not the problem. I just don't feel like being all that funny just now. I'm feeling more and more thoughtful and immobile. While my body keeps reminding me of a Buddha statue (surely the pregnant belly and breasts on him are not a coincidence), my mind is slowing down, coming to rest, turning in on itself. Like the Buddha I am starting to resemble, I am becoming more contemplative and meditative by the day. I always forget when I'm not pregnant how it gets into your every fibre. It's not just my body that changes, it's my mind and my feelings as well. Nothing is as it was before. I can't move like I normally do. It takes me longer to do the most basic tasks. Laundry has become a full time job. At the same time, my mind is slower. I can't do sums as fast, I drive slower, I take my time. I have started reading again: long books, long stories. I take my time with them.

The small baby stage will be different again. There will be night feeds and tiny little clothes. There will be breastfeeding and trying to fit all this in around the other two children. There will be more love, and therefore more to worry about. There will be even more lack of sleep. I can't remember what that was like either. Is it self-preservation, this amnesia all mothers seem to have?

I'm not sure what all that will do for my writing either. I know I don't need to write every day, but I want to. I feel I need to. It's strange to have a public record of my year, and such an important one at that. I am in the middle of my life. This is what I will remember, I guess, when I'm old and wrinkly and I look back. The times when I was growing and nursing and raising my children. It is a crucial time for this family. The beginning on which we will build later.

Time is going so fast. August is nearly here. I'm not ready. I'm not ready.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Oh no you don't

So here's a nice new development: my adorably cute two year old girl has recently decided to beat people up. Hard. She does it with gusto and pride. Have so far been at the receiving end:
  • her father
  • her five year old brother (repeatedly)
  • some innocent two year old in the playground
Time-outs and punishments (e.g. taking away snacks) are interesting and exciting to her. Removing her from the situation so far hasn't helped. And I'm not rewarding her for not beating people up.

Oh, I'm looking forward to a long long summer, in which I will at first be too pregnant to get to her quickly and then have a babe permanently attached to my boob, also impeding quick intervention. This will be fun!

(Comedy bonus: we are potty training her as well just now.)

Monday, 7 June 2010

Three degrees of psycho

Not really all that psycho:
On Saturday, I called over the whole family to check out the spider nurseries. Oh, so cute - baby spiders all over the hedge. There were three big nests like these. While the abundance of spiders in our garden does regularly freak me out, there is no way I'm bothering these animals.

Then... I got a bamboo branch, removed all spider's webs and trimmed the hedge.

Well, my garden was looking messy.

Actually the baby spiders weren't all that bothered. When I used the bamboo branch, they scooted down into the centre of the bush, then after I cut the hedge they came back up again, sunning themselves.

Slightly psycho:
I have a slug and snail problem in the garden. I don't like to bother/kill living organisms other than mosquitoes (they started it), but these bastards are ruining my hostas.

Just look at the poor thing! Have you ever seen a sorrier looking hosta?

Every summer, I crack in the end and toss any slimy buggers I find in a bucket with lemonade. Which they drown in. And it makes me feel like a mass murderer. I mean, it's not like these beasts are trying to suck my blood, attacking my children or eating our vegetable patch. No, they are simply punching holes in my decorative plants. Not really such a big deal. But look at my hostas! How pretty would they be if they weren't full of holes?

I do come from a long line of psycho killers. My grandfather used to shoot birds in his garden, and my mother taught me to kill snails by covering them in salt and exterminate flying ants by pouring boiling water into their nest. Somehow lemonade seems like the more humane way to dispose of snails. I mean, I like lemonade - why shouldn't they? Fair enough, they drown - but that has to be better than slowly drying out in a bath of salt, right? Right?
In our last house, I didn't have this problem. We had horrible neighbours, so I used to just throw all slugs and snails over the garden wall. Now we have lovely neighbours, so that solution is no longer an option. Damn those lovely neighbours. Why can't they heckle us in the street?
Okay, I admit it - I'm evil.  However, I haven't actually started my massacre yet. I'm still dithering. I'll probably wait until they've completely finished off my hostas and then I'll go in and kill them in pointless revenge. Because that would be less bad.

Completely psycho:
We are looking for a good name for our baby boy. This is an extremely difficult process, as we both want a name which "works" in our own language. It has to be pronouncable to both populations in any case.
As a lot of friends have pointed out, we are now basically down to the names Tom and Ben. (We aren't really - but this gets them off my back, so I just nod and agree with them.) The problem is, I don't like the name Ben enough, probably due to some Bens I know, and the name Tom has already been taken in our household. One of darling cats is called Tom. Actually, I fucking hate those beasts. I tolerate them, even feed them sometimes, but I do regret being seduced by the lovely cuteness that was kittens so that we are now stuck with the vomiting, flea-attracting, hair-shedding horror that is cats.
So - last week I found the solution to all our problems and proposed to Babes that I get a gun, shoot the cat, and then we can recycle the name for baby. This is so wrong on so many levels that it has been making me laugh for days now. But it would solve all our problems. I just have to "accidentally" get the other cat with the same bullet because there is no way this child is getting Rufus as a second name.


I'm entering this post for Josie's writing workshop today, for prompt 3: Take a walk around your garden. What do you see there? Or tell us what you dream of seeing when you step out of your back door.

Yay! So glad I finally managed to take part!

Friday, 4 June 2010


  • Arrived half an hour early in a restaurant to meet my sister, book at the ready. Find her sitting at the table, reading the same book, open at nearly the same place I have got to.
  • The dryer refused to work today, just as the weather was gorgeous and hot - now we have crunchy washing from the line. Would have been stupid to use the dryer anyway.
  • Potty training Marie, she pooped in her pink underpants just as I was about to put on a light wash. Surprisingly inoffensive results.
  • My bed is calling me, just as I feel tired after an eventful summer's day and have run out of inspiration. Fancy that.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Creche stress - a final update, after which I will shut the fuck up about this

So the creche have a space for us if we want it. With a woman who once assured me that it was okay that a baby was screaming his lungs out "because he's learning to communicate." To which I thought "It's not communication if he gets no response," but I'm sure she did pick him up soon after that. I spoke to one of the other minders about this today, and she said she must have been having a bad day, because she's - in her opinion - very warm and friendly with the children.
On the plus side: she's a bit older, has tons of experience, seems very well liked by her charges, and she's the devil I know. I asked Marie what she thought (because she is the only one of us who knows this woman really), and she said this lady is very nice and will take care of our baby very well. What does she know - she's two. She also added, thoughtfully, and after a long pause, "But the baby will cry, because he will want to be with his mummy instead." (I'm now also looking for a good surgeon to take this dagger out of my heart.)
The thing is - I feel like I need someone to help me out. I think the main reason I'm trying to find fault with this creche and this person is because I feel guilty for leaving a six month old with a stranger in the first place. I feel like I should look after my child all by myself, all the time. At least for the first year. What kind of a mother am I that I will let a tiny boy be without his family and one-to-one attention in the first year of his life?
I think I'd make less of an issue of it if we had the British system with one childminder for every three children (I think that's what they do). We tend to have one to every seven. I have to remember that I wouldn't be able to do this at all if we were in Britain, though, because I couldn't afford to.
Anyway - I think I will go and make amends with the management, gracefully accept the place, have a chat with this woman, and then I will see how I feel in February. If it doesn't feel right in any way, I can still just not use the place. I don't think I would be depriving anyone else, as I've asked for two short days a week and I think they're fitting me in around the other (full-time) babies.
I should also remember that so far these worries are all just thoughts in my head. I was the same with the previous two, and in both cases I think I made more of a thing of it than they ever did. Two short days a week is not that much, and most of it will be taken up with eating and sleeping. Also I do turn into the mother from hell if I haven't exercised enough or had any time to myself. (I'm just looking for reasons to absolve myself now.)
Right. Sorry to obsess about this. I needed to vent. I will now try to keep these worries to myself until February. At which point I will probably have another breakdown.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

What is this world coming to?

I tried everything today to get a good bloggable story.
  • I took Marie around Ikea and I let her take her doll in a pram. I got furniture. The toddler behaved, the furniture wasn't too heavy, my back was fine. We were out in under an hour. Even the price was extremely reasonable.
  • We walked to the school, the newspaper shop, the park - everyone was friendly, all went to plan.
  • I took both children to an indoor/outdoor play park with two of their friends. All behaved impeccably, as did all innocent bystanders.
  • After naptime, I took two tired and grumpy children to a huge supermarket to find Jack a rucksack. We found the perfect one after five minutes, picked up some other pieces, no tantrums were thrown.
I don't know what more I can do really. I give up.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

A sneaky quicky

Sometimes giving attention to one's man takes priority over blogging. But surely if he goes to the toilet, a quick hello won't hurt. Right?

More tomorrow, backache permitting. Honestly, people, real life can sometimes get seriously in the way of a decent online existence.