Friday, 29 July 2011

Wednesday you are the new Friday

Every Wednesday morning an angel in Marigolds comes to my house and transforms it into the kind of place you want to spend lots of time in.  As I walk through the door the self assurance of Pledge hits me and it's all I can do to stop myself from dropping to my knees in teary gratitude.  The effect a tidy, clean house has on morale is immeasurable.  Immediately after the gratitude comes panic.  I stretch my arms out in protection over hoovered carpets and gleaming sinks and start screaming. 'Nobody touch anything.  Don't play with any toys, don't eat anything, don't go to the toilet and don't sit anywhere.'

I have devised a system to prolong the joy as long as possible.  When I pick the children up from kindy at lunchtime on a Wednesday we don't go home to have lunch.  Oh no.  If it's not blowing a gale or bitingly cold I take sandwiches down to the beach.  Failing that we'll eat the sandwiches in the car while we look at the windy and cold beach (I have lost count of the number of four year olds who get in my car and blanche at the frankly unhygienic state of its interior but hey, who cares?  At least the house is clean).  I'll happily trawl the three of them round the supermarket and feed them a lunch of whatever they want from little plastic wrapped packages as long as the house is clean.  I try and remember to throw 3 packs of those milkshake as breakfast things into the trolley then the tidiness inches through Thursday morning too.

The irony of my not being in the house to fully benefit from its cleanliness is not lost on me but I don't care.  Wednesdays rule.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Shit parenting volume 4 (or it could be more. I've lost count)

twin 1

At the end of a meeting a colleague asked me how my children were.  Having had my professional hat on for the the last half hour my veneer slipped and I spoke as a mother on the edge.
"I have got no idea why, but the twins just cry so bloody much.  At everything.  As often as they can.  Every morning is a screamfest over getting dressed to go to kindy.  Twin1 steadfastly refuses to wear anything but a tiny little sun dress.  It's 10 degrees outside"
"Pick your battles." My colleague said.  "Don't fight over clothes, just let her wear what she wants.  She probably only makes a fuss with you, I bet she lets the kindy staff put jumpers and trousers on her.  It won't kill her to be cold for a short while."

And so it has been over the last two weeks that I have allowed the tiny little soul to go to kindy with barely a scrap of clothing on.  It's bloody freezing and I ask her if she'd like a jumper but the answer's always the same.  Yesterday I was told that a few parents have expressed concern over her clothes.  The last thing any parent needs is another parent's judgemental crap.  So to all those who give me the 'you're a shit parent' glance when they see twin1 dancing around gaily in her sundress and sparkly shoes while the rain sheets down in icy needles I gather myself to my full height, raise my head snootily in the air, muster as much dignity as possible and shout 'FUCK OFF.'

Monday, 18 July 2011

I like a good dose of variety

In a couple of weeks the husband is taking lad down to Wanaka to go skiing.  Some of his family will be there and there is a big nostalgic pull for him too; when I first clapped eyes on the handsome chap he was living in Wanaka so he's excited about seeing his old friends and introducing his son to them.  Twin1, twin2 and I will stay at home and I'm looking forward to the simplicity of eating baked beans on toast at 5pm with the two of them and devoting some attention (not the screaming, angry mother kind but rather the cuddly, mummy and daughter kind) on each of them.

The husband and I are used to being apart and while I always miss him, I love the change of dynamic brought about by venturing off to do our own things with the children.  I like change.  My brain gets itchy if I stay in the same place for more than a few years.  From birth my family moved house every 1 to 3 years as my dad was posted to different RAF bases around the world.  I always felt very settled and happy.  Home was wherever my mum and dad were.

If you could take a year off and live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Monday, 11 July 2011


Richard Wilson (Wiz)
As a young girl, when I broke my brother's intricately constructed lego space rocket or 'borrowed' 50p from my mum's dressing table to buy sweets, I felt the pit of my stomach roll around like a tiny boat on huge waves  and with it headed onto guilt's well furrowed path.  For children emotions tend to be black and white.  Enter the murky waters of adulthood and guilt doesn't stand alone but gets clever and joins forces.

In December 2000 when Wiz and I crashed head on into another motorbike, he and the other rider died at the scene.  I have some flashes of recollection in my mind like 10 second, chaotic home videos but I can't remember feeling or thinking much over the first couple of days.  I do remember though the start of the guilt.  I was horrified that I hadn't got up and tried to help Wiz.  I felt ashamed at my selfishness that I hadn't even thought about him.  My rational self knows that my brain was in shock and I hadn't made the connection that I had been on a motorbike, that I had been with Wiz or indeed where I was, as well as the more logistical problem of my inability to walk.  It doesn't matter, though.  Guilt, insidious and toxic, had started to weave a nauseous gait through my system and emulsify with hundreds of other emotions, ready to further blacken a sad day or prick a hissing leak into joy.

I know there was nothing I could have done to prevent Wiz's death and as the years passed I began to look at the guilt in a more detached way.  I hope it has made me feel more empathy with others who feel guilty about things over which they have absolutely no control.  Instead of being told 'it isn't your fault he died, you have nothing to feel guilty about' I think I would have preferred someone to say 'I understand why you feel guilty even though it wasn't your fault.'

Please don't think, reading this and my last post that my life is a seething mass of shame and guilt.  On the contrary, I am lucky to have parents who raised me to feel proud of who I am.  I have just been pondering emotions this week and how they shape our behaviour.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Are you there God, it's me Jenny

This evening I am going to the evensong church service as my choir are singing.  Although I'm not a churchgoer I am really looking forward to it.  Singing music written with pure and intense love and devotion is affecting.  I know I will leave all my worries and niggles outside and love the feeling of singing loud and full of happiness.  What a great way to start the week.


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