Wednesday, 29 June 2011


  • Jack is seven today. I'm sure that makes me officially old, but I've unilaterally decided that I won't be old until he's 18. It's all in the mind, you see.
  • I am reading a book with the best title ever: The thing about life is that one day you'll be dead, by David Shields. After a title like that, I suppose the contents can only be a letdown, but one chapter in I'm still excited. We'll see.
    A little quote from the "Prologue" for you:
    [Talking about his father] He's strong and he's weak and I love him and I hate him and I want him to live forever and I want him to die tomorrow.
    My kind of book so far.
  • I have (once again) decided that Charlie is now going to be a good sleeper. The sign I needed was that, in the past two days, he has twice fallen asleep in his buggy and slept on when I took him out to put him into his bed. Surely that's a definite preamble to spiffing sleeperdom. Let me clutch those straws, people.
  • The summer holidays are starting tomorrow. I have been dreading them, as I was pretty much failing at motherhood without having to look after all three kids 24/7 the last few weeks. However, I have now reframed the event in my mind and it's helping me. Here's how I see it now: all year, I have been forced by the schools / choirs / sports clubs etc. to spend my time as they saw fit, whereas now I will be in control. Therefore the holidays will be better. The end.
    Feel free to borrow this argument if you are in the same situation and need to convince yourself that you can survive the vast eternity that is the summer holidays. You're welcome.
  • Also I need exercise, blah blah blah. You know the drill. At least I'm back in my pre-pregnancy jeans so hurray summer sales here I come. I knew replacing all solid foods with white wine would work.
  • Oh, and you know I miss you all, right? I'm working on the inspiration / time to write thing. Obviously it will all sort itself this week as Charlie will now sleep well and the holidays will give me all that free time to blog.
    Damn, now I have become delusional as well.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

It's official

Coming out of my mother's house after dropping the children off, I took a deep breath. It felt like the first proper breath I'd had in a week. I got in the car, switched the stereo to the podcast I'd abandoned days earlier and drove off towards my empty home, a good book and a cup of tea. I only had a couple of hours to myself but it felt like a proper holiday.

I think I'm officially done having kids.

Friday, 17 June 2011

The pungent stench of decomposed death

So I came down from my shower this morning and the kitchen was smelling of death. In fact, the kitchen was smelling of the bit in between the toes after a week of decomposition of death. No, in fact it was smelling like that bit in between decomposed toes and also behind the unwashed ears of three weeks of decomposed death. And I know that's not properly formed or anywhere near nicely flowing English, but that is what it was like and there are no nice words for it. If the words were nice, they wouldn't be conveying that stench properly.

So after I came down and realised there was this godawful evil sickness bearing pungency, what did I do? I opened the window and sat down to make the kids their packed lunches. I left Babes to find and remove the stench of what must have been three diseased storks who got lost on my kitchen surface on their way to their summer pastures, having laid rotten eggs and then vomited, crapped, and died. No way in hell was I going anywhere near there. Did you see that picture this week of that decomposing horse in a deserted Lybian army barracks? All I can say is the rebels were lucky that horse was in a courtyard - outside - and not in my kitchen.

Of course it was entirely my fault that the kitchen smelled like that in the first place. I made a delicious carbonara on Tuesday (with pecorino and spinach), but did I throw out the remains? No, my darling people, I did not. I also tidied the bathroom and the children's rooms a little on that day, but have I sinced washed the laundry I removed from there? No, people, I have not. It is all piled up in three different places. And you should see my garden...

So what have I been doing? I have been at the hospital, visiting my achingly beautiful newly arrived goddaughter at every possible opportunity. I have been gallivanting all over town, going to book clubs and coffee mornings and gossipy lunches and dates with my husband. I have been napping in the morning to catch up on sleep and crafting home made birthday invitations with Jack. I have been teaching Charlie to high five and I have been cuddling in the sofa with Marie.

All of these I consider more important things than cleaning. All of them get given priority over housework any day of the week. Only I should remember that perhaps it may be clever to do some minor disaster containment before, in between and after all the gallivanting and child-loving. Just occasionally. If I don't want to be retching over packed lunches first thing in the morning again.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Comment fix

The lovely Fiona left a comment today explaining what is wrong with the comments box on my blog. I was most grateful because just knowing I have missed some of your comments makes me cry bitter tears. I will let Fiona speak to you directly:
Incidentally, other 'Anon' commenters, apparently the problem is that Blogger isn't compatible with the latest Microsoft updates. You need to post your comments using Google Chrome, and then you can be yourself again.
That must be why I never had any trouble, as I use Firefox myself.

So, Internet Exporers, perhaps it is time for you to come over from the dark side and try another browser. Or you could comment as "Anonymous" because that seems to work even if you're with "them." If you wanted to leave a comment, that is. (You know, if you love me or something.)

There I was being all paranoid that Blogger were boycotting me after I told you all they are crap, and it turns out that wasn't it - they're just being crap again. (Ah, fuck, now I'll never get another comment in my life.)

Thank you, Fiona!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Unexpectedly surreal

I was feeling a bit down earlier and thought a walk around the local shops would cheer me up. Then this happened:

(Protagonist is at the till of a department store, paying for her purchase.)
Me: Do you have any rings for little girls?
Shop Assistant (SA): No, we don't, and I don't know where around here you can get them. Maybe try [slightly dodgy extreme discount store]?
Me: I don't know. I'm always worried their stuff would be poisonous or something, and it is for a child who likes to put things in her mouth.
SA: Would it help if I said their stuff is probably made by children's hands?
Me: [Stunned silence] ... eh, not really.
SA: Well, what do you expect with such low prices?
Me: I hope none of the stuff in this shop is made by children.
SA: It's bound to be. Have you seen what we charge for stuff?
[I was in Hema, a very large Dutch chain. Think of a funkier Woolworths. I had admittedly just paid 2 euros for four tall glasses.]
Me: Seriously? Surely you check your suppliers for that.
SA: Oh, we do spot checks, and there are education programmes and everything, but do you really think the parents can pay the bills with what we pay them? You have to be realistic, madam.
Me: [Another stunned silence] ... well, thank you very much.
(Exit stage left.)

I think Hema have been infiltrated by a certain rogue element. I was shockingly not cheered up.

Monday, 6 June 2011

But the goose hissed at me!

Babes bullied me tonight until I went and did some exercise. The bastard. He must think I'm too fat or something. I couldn't face going to the gym, so I went for a bike ride along the canal to the next town. The journey is perfectly idyllic, away from the main road. There are some house boats and back gardens, but apart from that it's all green and lush, full of birdsong. It was getting slightly misty, with the smell of potential rain. Perfection all around.

So you'd think I enjoyed all this to the full, right? I must have cycled along, happily reveling in the beauty of nature. Right? Well, I did - a bit. But it also struck me that I am spending more and more of my time being scared again. I was scared of the big roads I had to cross, scared of the potential rapists/murderers hiding in the long grass, scared of the smells coming from the factory I passed (it smelled of nail varnish remover), and most of all scared of the gaggles of geese dotted along the tow path. But one of them hissed at me! Which is bloody scary. I tried to think of all of my readers out there who live in exotic places and who have lions or alligators or even dinosaurs for all I know to worry about when they venture outside their houses. It helped a little, in that I decided that if forced to choose between a roaring lion, a snapping alligator and a hissing goose, I would most definitely go for the goose. My heart and breathing still stopped for a while going through each group of them.

After a while I decided that I should stop being scared. Or, to put it more mindfully: I should recognise the fears, let them be and then let them go. I gave myself permission to put my hand on my bicycle bell when I spotted a lonely angler (they do hurt fish for sport after all), but apart from that I told myself to just enjoy the ride. I saw a rabbit running across the track and stop to look at me from the bushes, ducks admonishing their chicks ("Vera, Victor, Teresa and Mary, stay closer to me now. You remember what happened to your brother yesterday!" - I don't know why, but ducks strike me as most Catholic. Especially Belgian ducks) and what I was pretty sure was a parakeet flying right in front of my face.

Anyway, don't tell Babes but the exercise did me the world of good. I should keep doing it until I stop being scared, I suppose - or until I'm murdered. That would put a stop to it alright. Next time I go, I will meditate on the beauty of my surroundings while being kind to myself about my fears when they pop up and seeing them for what they really are: only fears. Thoughts, not reality.

Next time.


This post has been included in this month's British Mummy Blogger's carnival.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Marital mindfuck

My mother used to tell us that if we were ever considering marrying someone, we should not look at how much we love their good traits, but only wonder if we can live with their flaws. Not the worst advice I've ever heard. When you're newly in love, it can seem endearing if your lover picks his toes every night (I swear this one really is a fictitious example as that would be a serious deal breaker for me), but when it's ten years later and the baby is teething and you haven't slept in a week, this once cute little habit will have lost all of its charm.

I'm reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed - the sequel to Eat, Pray, Love. I had told myself not to buy it, but then I couldn't resist it in the bookshop because the blurb on the cover promised that it was "irresistably confessional." I regretted picking it up immediately when a most cosmopolitan traveller came up to speak to my most intellectual looking sister and there I was, holding the ultimate in chick-lit. But I do love a good confession, I must admit, and while a fictional confession can be fun, there is no better kind than a real-life look at how the neighbours are doing. (Which is why I'm a sucker for a good confessional blog, as some of you know.)

At one point in her book, Elizabeth Gilbert's boyfriend basically paraphrases my mother's bit of wisdom and then follows a scene in which Liz and her lover list their own faults to each other , in preparation of their impending marriage. (The idea being that they can't complain later, because now they've been warned of what's to come.)

While obviously it's too late for Babes and I to attempt to do the same, it might still be an interesting exercise for us after more than eleven years institutionalised and nearly seventeen ensnared. I wonder - would we get it right? Would the faults we list be the ones that drive the other crazy on occasion? Do we know ourselves well enough by now to know the most awful side of ourselves?

I'm half tempted to try this tonight and compare notes. On the other hand, while neither Babes or I pick our toes nightly so at least in that respect we'll be fine, we do have the sleepless nights and the three small children to contend with, so it may be better right now to let sleeping dogs lie. If there's one thing we don't need, it's an extra source of stress.

The reverse exercise may be more beneficial, and in a way more interesting. I'm thinking that by now our respective flaws are pretty much obvious. They would be the bits that follow the "You always..." and "You never..." of the standard matrimonial argument. What might still have the power to surprise us, is if we made a list each of the other partner's strengths. I'm still not sure what exactly Babes likes best about me, apart from my fabulous body of course. I'm not even sure if he's ever put much thought into it. I think I have a fair idea of what I like about him, but does he know?

It's probably wiser to let this second list be as well right now. What if Babes' list ends up with only two items on it, both anatomical? What if I miss out a stellar trait which Babes considers central to his character? This may be rather sobering to both of us. (I suppose it's not a very modest thing to do either, to say to your man "Hey sweetie, will you make a list of all the ways in which I'm fabulous, please? Thanks, honey - oh, and could I have it in triplicate and laminated, please?" Yeah, perhaps not good.)

Actually, I think I may just give all marital mindfuck games a miss for a while. At least until we've had some sleep. Or perhaps until Charlie's in school. Or maybe until pigs fly, as on reflection it seems rather unwise to tinker with a (mostly) functioning marriage.