Peaches Geldof

1 May

I’m very sorry Peaches Geldof is dead. I know it’s not the done thing to criticise those who’ve died in tragic circumstances and nothing can allay the devastation brought on her family and friends of losing a close person at such a young age with such a young family but…
and it’s a big B.U.T… I’m fuming…. Why is she being given a free pass? As the news comes out this evening that her death is related to heroin I hear a ‘friend’ on Channel 4 News extolling her virtues as an advocate of attachment parenting and her promotion of gay marriage rights etc and asking us to “look beyond the manner in which she may have died”. What? Well excuse me if I don’t.
IF… (and please let’s hope it’s not the case) but IF, she was doing heroin in the house with a toddler present, why are we praising her parenting skills at all? How is this not being discussed or at least being flagged up as hypocritical? How is it, in fact, being totally ignored? It makes a complete mockery of real mums (and dads) working away at being good parents day after day after day after year after year. I gave up smoking when I was pregnant seven years ago and now ensure I don’t have my single-half- a-bottle-of-wine-a-night lifestyle, having swapped it for that dull recommended at least two days off a week regime and the rest. I drive more carefully, I cross roads at the right places and I try not to risk my life over stupid or superficial things, whilst still having a fulfilling life. I do this because I have the responsibility of being a parent. My children are young and I want to be around and know that they need me to be around for as long as possible, or at least while they are still growing up. Surely, no one could know this more than Peaches – the girl who lost her mother so young and is such a ‘wonderful example’ of an attachment parent.
I don’t get it. Her death is tragic yes, and clearly no one chooses to be addicted to anything, but let’s not eulogise this and make it something it’s not. Of course the poor woman would have been utterly devastated and traumatised by her own mother’s untimely death and she clearly did try to change into the life of domestic bliss (as if there is such a thing). But reporting like tonight– or the recent, totally uncritical, article in The Times of her attachment parenting – whilst right at the end noting, unchallenged by the journalist, that she has every weekend off as the kids went to her in laws – is just disingenuous to those of us who live in the real world.
It’s not easy and none of us get it 100% right 100% of the time but come on.

Health Warning: Dating damages your health

12 Feb

Well online dating anyway.
I know a couple who met eight years ago through online dating. They were both looking for love, both wanting a family and found each other… cue fairytale ending of marriage, kids etc.
It’s a true story, the couple are still together, the online dating thing worked and for a while it was a great resource for those wanting to find love. But I have not heard a story like that for a long time.

Now I hear nothing short of horror stories. It seems to me that men have cottoned on to the fact that they can use the internet as an online sex bank – it’s the middle aged equivalent of the student meat market. They’ve realised that women, especially those my age want to meet someone to have a relationship with and their male counterparts are milking the proverbial cow. One bloke equates glasses of wine drunk with a ‘putting out’ ratio – where three big glasses is usually followed by the full monty. And of course, because there are plenty more fish in the sea, there’s no need for any kind of relationship proper or any comeback.

I don’t have a problem with the concept of online dating scene per se – it is unbelievably hard to meet people in the rush of modern life. But there should be some ground rules. It’s not that I want to see everyone paired off and married with 2.4 kids. But what I do KNOW for sure is that my girl friends who are doing this are now 40 and are fragile. And, although some might think they are in control, I would argue that they are being taken advantage of.
All of them are powerful, confident women in the outside world. They hold down fantastic jobs in a variety of fields, but emotionally the dating game has taken it’s toll and they are raw.

They want to believe but know they shouldn’t. Every time there’s a glimmer of hope, that long held dream of a family or partner to share life’s ups and downs with is fired up, the long subdued embers of a fire given oxygen to be able to wish and hope again.

Recently no less than two girlfriends have had their online dates come up with the line “my mother’s dying” after a couple of dates, only to find them back online the next day (yes you can tell). A few months later both men recontacted my friends, up for a second go. Could it be their mothers had both made miraculous recoveries or rather that they had had multiple dates on the go and the mother line is essentially a way of putting girls in a holding pattern whilst they give one a test run. When that doesn’t work out, they return to the rest of the pack and pick another one.

So the women go out with them again, open up again, allow themselves to be vulnerable again and then, inevitably it seems, the bloke’s mother starts dying again or they just bugger off without a word. The women’s hopes, having being raised are dashed, once again.

The latest cruel blow is a chap who, as he left my friend, having been basically living in her apartment for 2 months, used the excuse of – “we’re not physically compatible. I don’t feel physically attracted to you” (Clearly he’d hidden that very well considering they’d been having nightly fun n’ games).

So despite warnings to keep her guard up, not let him in emotionally, his comments hit the jugular. She’s been on a diet since September, has lost 3 stone, and was just feeling good about herself for the first time in years. He knew all this, yet he emotionally sucked her in, gave her a taste of couple-dom and then spat her out in the cruellest manner possible, by criticising her physical attractivenss – ie by blaming her for the failure.

Many 40-ish single women question why it is her that is single and not, well me for instance. They question their looks, their character, their nature. Everything. Self-doubt is everywhere, except for the workplace.

This man not just stuck the knife in but he twisted it too. He has emotionally battered my friend. She is shattered by it, her exaltation at her weight loss replaced by “what’s the point. I liked having someone to cook for and come home to and make porridge with. I hate my life” etc. I would like to batter him in the same way – or physically – either would do.

I fear that the ease of online dating has made many men forget that we are all fragile humans and no matter how much it says on one’s biog that we’re easy going and carefree, very few of us are and we are not there to be chewed up and spat out. Being rejected hurts whether you’re 16 or 60.. I wonder how long online dating will continue to be used – by women anyway – when the men they meet on it treat them with such flagrant disregard. I do know a few who have stopped already because of all of the above.

In the immortal words of Bonnie Tyler I would like to know “where have all the good men have gone?”

It’s not that I don’t have the answer

12 Feb

Dear God!
Sometimes I feel like a moron. I’ve always been bad at quizzes, but tonight I watched University Challenge for the first time in a decade or so.
It’s not that I didn’t know the answers to the questions.. hell I can hardly pull an answer out of my mental bag for a local pub quiz, let alone compete with Trinity Cambridge.
My disappointment in myself lay in the fact that I could barely concentrate on or even understand the question. “In 1800 when the sum of xxx was y squared what in fact was the sum of the article… and so on and on.

Totally incomprehensible. No matter how hard I tried, I could not stop myself from halfway through the question, thinking “Jeremy your hair’s really grey now” or “oh this green and blacks dark chocolate is really quite orangey.”

Clearly the fact that I can’t even focus on the question means I will never make the dizzy heights of UC or anything remotely intellectual.

Having said that it equally – hopefully – means I won’t ever have to don the Neil-from-The-Young-Ones 70s style hair cut that one boy was sporting on the show.

Cheap shot I know, but it’s one of the few strings left to my bow when the only quiz questions I have confidently answered in the last few years have been …

1. Who lives on the island of Sodor?
2. What fictional mouse dreams up a monster who turns out to exist?

The third baby – Time’s a ticking

8 Nov

And so it begins.

Just 4 months after my 40th birthday and swearing blind that I’ll never have another child, I can feel that tickety tock thing kicking off somewhere deep inside my ovaries. It’s a weird feeling. It’s totally irrational. We’re very lucky. We have a boy and a girl, both healthy, both happy. We’ve talked about it, having a third – but we don’t have the money – or inclination. That is, until now.

This summer was the first holiday we’ve taken since we started the baby-thon that we didn’t need to pack nappies or bring a push chair. We travelled lighter, went further, could eat later, stay out an enjoy a pizza at night with friends without total melt-downs. It was a watershed moment. The hubs and I exchanged smug glances of “that phase is over” here comes a brave new world.

Enter small cute newborn. And another. And another. It seems like fate is throwing them at me faster than my poor aged ovaries can produce eggs. My smallest ‘baby’ is nearly four. The infant I think I have is, in reality, a giant when compared to a newborn, full of willie waggling gestures, poo-rhyming songs and general jumping to which 4 year old boys are want. The newborn by comparison, sleeps a lot on a shoulder, is tiny, beautiful, perfect – and yet to form a personality which requires you to chastise, reprimand, commend or praise.

The placidity (word?) has an appeal in a world filled with chaotic 4 and 6 year olds – and whilst I must admit I’ve spent the last few years realising that I’m not an earth mother and enjoy children much more once they are able to communicate – I now look at these tiny sleeping angels and think – “I’d do better next time, this time I know not to get stressed, I know what to do, when and how to juggle it all. Maybe I’d actually get it right with number 3.”

So in creeps the doubt. They look so tiny, so harmless, so completely incapable of turning life upside down, inside out. How could that happen. Surely not. Tick tock.

 

It’s all about willies now

14 Oct

“Stop fiddling with your willie”,

“I don’t care if you like it when your willie is ‘strong'”

“No, you cannot show your teacher your ‘strong’ willie”

“Stop prodding your sister with your willie”

“Go on then, pee out the car, but don’t hit the door or drip into the car”

The ‘willie’ has become the focal point of my son’s world. He’s only 3. After two and a half years of oblivion, there’s fiddling, thrusting, humping, tweaking, pulling and general permanent touching. It’s incessant and nothing I say seems to be able to put a stop to it. Sentences I never thought I would have to say, such as the ones above, now come out on a regular basis… to no avail.

I know boys will be boys, but girls just don’t do this kind of thing (please don’t say they do!)  As a girl growing up with just a sister, I’m new to this whole willie-centric world of little boys but I’m learning it has its uses too. It’s not just all about the fiddle. This evening, sitting in the car in the pouring rain, J announces he desperately needs a wee but we’re five minutes away from home. “Can you hold it in darling?”

“No, mamma, really no,” comes the unwelcome reply. So with my mummy-quick-wits about me (but also a reluctance to get wet again), I pull over, stretch back, unclick his seatbelt and open his door with the infamous words, “Go on then, pee out the car, but don’t hit the door or drip into the car.”

A truly fine ‘mummy moment’ akin only to my slummy mummy NCT award, when I wiped up Ellie’s baby vomit with her baby-grow clad bottom, knowing that five minutes later it would be in the washing anyway – to the horror of all around me. I had unwittingly overstepped the funny-slummy-mummy to slummy-slummy-mummy grey line.

Just for the record, despite having to contend with Ellie and me dissolving into a mess of giggles whilst he ‘performed’, he managed it!

 

 

 

 

Confirmation of Stereotypes

13 Oct

So we’re selling the flat. Or trying to. “It’s a buyers market”, so I’m told – with a patronising description of what that actually means. “It means there are more buyers than sellers!” No S*** Sherlock.

This means that I have rather unwillingly been thrust into the dirty world of estate agents. Suffice to say that after nearly three weeks of dealing with 12 year olds acting like they do the most important job in the world whilst wearing a) the most ill-fitting shiny suits in the world – boys b) the shortest Primark skirts whilst pretending they’re Prada in the world – girls, I’m sick to the back teeth with the whole thing.

I’m not saying they’re not very bright, but no one ever became an estate agent because they got too many A levels. So far I’ve caught them out lying, cheating, double-crossing and screwing each other over. And it’s only week 3. I don’t know why I’m surprised when they have such a bad reputation, but I really have been astounded at how they have, without exception, confirmed all the negative stereotypes that make them one of the most hated professions out there.

Here’s my list of my favourite blatant estate agent speak so far where, whilst seething, I’ve had to conceal a wry laugh at how ridiculous they sound:

“We have a phrase in this office, ‘buyers are liars'” SO you don’t respect anyone you’re selling to?

“Let me just say, from a father to a mother, I understand” ARGH – please patronise me some more. Hurl

“It’s so cosy” – AKA – TINY, can’t swing a cat.

“I’ve got a really lovely property” AKA I’ve been trying to flog this dead horse for months

“It’s a bit of a doer upper” AKA someone died here after living in this pit for the last 40 years

“It’s a lovely property on Gunnersbury Avenue” AKA – It’s on the north circular

“It’s not under offer” AKA it is under offer, but we’re trying to screw them over and get another one so we get a higher commission

“You could get £500K on Chiswick W4 yourself, that’s why you need an estate agent to get you more.” AKA I’m gonna say anything to get your property on our books.

Incidentally for any agents reading this, I’m not trying to be picky but I do not want any properties:

on the A4, M4 or north circular or any other major arterial roads

backing onto sewage works, train lines, electricity stations

overshadowed by a brick wall

next to a derelict decaying property with or without dodgy tenants living in slum-like conditions

riddled with damp in every room and/or crumbling before ones eyes

in a war zone

Turning psychotic neurotic means I need a job

13 Oct

Eeek! As I chastised my long-suffering husband for “wiping the crumbs off the granite in the wrong way” I realised I probably need to get back in the real world, get a real job and get a sense of perspective.

It’s not that I don’t work. I do. Not only do I do all the mumsy stuff: to-ing and fro-ing kids to school, swimming, back n’ forth from playdates and parties, I also do all the cleaning, shopping, cooking and even hold down the remnants of a sort of journalistic career.

So far, so average. But what’s tipped me over the edge I fear, is that after 3 years of working by myself, for myself, I’ve hit an impasse – not the first woman to do this by any means, but it’s hit me rather by surprise I must admit.

As my children slowly become embroiled in full time education, I’m left with the ‘freelance career’ that used to fill the gaps in between sporadic childcare, but which now seems an odd dead end. I’m lucky to get enough work to get by but not lucky (talented?!) enough to yet get a proper career from a column or book etc. So I find myself in unchartered waters career-wise. Quite odd for a girl who for the best part of the last 20 years has defined herself by her career – well in my own head at least.

So the psychotic neurotic temperament has slowly grown to the point where the poor old hubs gets short shrift for misplaced crumbs, the cleaning takes on a weird priority and daily meals become a focal point to fixate on conjuring up the perfect family scene.

To worry about or do these things is not in itself an issue of course, but to fixate on them is. The road to bored housewife must surely be paved with lack of fulfilment. Meaningful things to do where you feel valued for who you are in a professional capacity – not as a mum, cleaner, cook or wife – must be key to that.

So here begins the search for the next chapter in my life. Full-time mum, full-ish time worker. Lets’ see what happens. Any tips welcome.

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