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Pull yourselves together girls. We need to stop pressing ‘self-destruct’

20 Mar

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. As children of the 80s we were promised it all. The perfect body, the gorgeous & rich husband, the 2.4 kids, dog, big house, luxury holidays and glamorous career. It was Loads-a-money all over. But reality is a hard mistress.

And guess what – most of our lives have fallen short in one or more areas because, like it or not ‘having it all’ is just not possible for most of us. So when we hit our mid-life (I won’t say crisis – but the point where you look back and reflect on where you thought you might be, where you actually are, and what lies ahead) many of us feel disappointed with our lot.

And the result is to press the self destruct button. But women are sneaky creatures. We don’t just fall apart, we pick one area of our life to let go, lose control or blow out the water, while managing to carry on our daily lives as if nothing is wrong, so no one else can tell.

Take friend A. Super-successful international career girl in mid forties but single who would give it all up in a heartbeat to have a husband and kids – her self-destruct weapon – unprotected sex with random men during her travels and at home, genuinely putting her health (life) at risk.

Take friend B. Again high powered career woman but with family and husband who never gets a moment to stop or breathe. Her self-destruct weapon – she barely eats at all during the day, then binges at night on packets of biscuits and chocolate. Her weight peaks and troughs taking her regularly from a size 10 (on diet shakes) to size 20 when reverting to normal food.

And finally friend C. The stay at home mum who also works, but not to a high level because she is also doing all the family organisation and kids routine. Her self-destruct weapon – alcohol. She can’t wait till 6pm for that glass of wine that inevitably leads to half a bottle or more. She’s not an ‘alcoholic ‘ as such,  she doesn’t get wildly drunk or have raging hangovers that force her to stay in bed, but similarly she can’t not have one, she is the oft-written about middle aged, middle class alcohol dependent – worrying constantly about how much damage the wine is doing to her body, yet unable to stay dry for more than a couple of days.

There are more examples out there no doubt, but it just dawned on me that for those of us affected by this self-destruct tendency, instead of focussing on these negative influences – and they do become a focus of our daily thoughts, be it the “I am/am not having sex with anyone” or the “I can’t wait for my first drink/biscuit” – we need more positives to focus on in our lives.

I for one have done very little to take care of my body since I was single, pre-kids. But since the start of the year, a couple of friends and I have shared a personal trainer – Ron – once a week and it has become the highlight of my week. It has become the ONLY thing I do for myself that I really look forward to in my life which combines both total personal enjoyment, benefits to my body and fitness and has no bad side. It is in fact the opposite of self-destruct – it is rebuilding me.

Women are rubbish at sport

15 Mar

Really?

Well if you talk to the mums and women I know, that’s what you’d believe. Recently I set up a weekly training session with ‘Ron’ – a fabulous trainer who I’d met while working on a feature.

But as a sex, I must confess we are rubbish. Not one of the women I spoke to said: “yeah but watch out as I get really competitive, so be prepared to eat my dust.”

It was all: “Well… I’m really bad at sports/I’m really unfit/I haven’t done any exercise since the birth of Tiddles/ I can’t run….” you get the picture. And I’m not judging them because I include myself in this. I regularly use the lines: “I make a ‘grapevine’ look like Spaghetti hoops” and “I gave up aerobics as I knew my super-bad co-ordination would never improve so I’d be able to actually go in the right direction as the rest of the class.” to belittle my abilities – which as it turns out are not quite as awful as I remember.

It’s just insane and I’m coming across it ALL the time – Many of the women I now know are the women all those articles were written about over International Women’s Day – we are the lost mummies – the professional women who had good careers up till about 35, then had kids and are now floundering in the ridiculous ‘you-can-have-it-all’ mantra we were promised as children of the 80s but clearly doesn’t exist.

But it’s not just these women who have this self doubt – and it’s not just in sports – this was just the latest example.

Over the years I’ve interviewed many successful women (often not mothers) and I would guestimate that at least 80-90% of them have self doubt and are constantly scared that they are going to be found out as frauds and will be ‘discovered’ as inept or incapable of doing their job.

What is it in the female psyche that makes us put ourselves down so much… and so often? I just can’t imagine men saying those things. We limit ourselves by our own put-downs. Surely there are enough external influences out there in the big wide world to put us down and challenge our success, we shouldn’t need to sabotage ourselves and our own potential as well.

I don’t know what the answer is, it seems no one does – but it sure isn’t belittling ourselves and our abilities. Every one of the women I’ve come across is not only super-capable, intelligent, charming but they are also adeptly juggling more than most circus performers. That’s not to be sniffed at, or belittled. Ever. Especially by ourselves.

Build-er relationships

12 Feb

Preparing to do a spot of ‘refurb’ in the flat recently, I got a couple of builders and decorators in to do some quotes. All well and good.

On arriving to quote, they are as nice as pie, “yes Mrs G”, “no Mrs G” and “of course we can do that too Mrs G”.

It’s like a first date, where both parties are trying to make a good impression and woo each other:

‘I’m not a control freak, actually I’m a nice lady that you want to work for’ is my fake persona – aka I’m not a bunny boiler, whilst theirs is that they give two hoots what you want and are not going to bodge anything but will do your work with love, care and attention – aka I’ll still love you in the morning darlin’.

But of course the moment of truth comes and I pick one – they are puppy-dog enthusiastic – aka second/third base and on their way to a ‘shag’, while the others I have to let down. I do it nicely with a “thanks but no thanks” – aka it’s not you it’s me, while their response is “yeah, whatever” – aka I never fancied you much anyway..

And don’t get me started on the delivery men. No subtle or amusant message there, just “screw you lady – I hate you and my life so take your own flooring in, *itch.”

Nits

12 Feb

Every week it seems we get a note either from the school or nursery warning that yet ANOTHER set of nits is doing the rounds.

I have stocked up on the obligatory nit comb, lotion etc and made a mental note of how I will wash and clean everything in 24 hours so as to expunge the creatures from my home should they dare enter, but so far we have managed to escape any infestation.

This does not, however, stop me from becoming totally neurotic every time I visit a hairdressers. As they part my hair and say in that inane way “So how would you like it today?” I can’t think straight, I’m watching their eyes, looking at the reflection of their comb running through my parting hoping, nay praying, that they do not see bugs jumping up and down on my scalp or little white eggs clinging to strands of hair.

I live in fear of the words: “I’m so sorry Mrs G. (married name) I’m afraid we can’t do your hair today, you have nits.”

Kids & nits, I can deal with… but me being ‘outed’ in a salon – that must surely be the ultimate humiliation. I wonder if I’m the only one with such neuroses or if other mothers have to confront similar demons just to get a trim?

 

Present Politics

6 Nov

There are 30 kids in Ellie’s class, then there’s the kids she knew at nursery, then there’s the NCT group, then there are old friends who have kids of a similar age, then there are the neighbours -and then there’s the same for Josh.

Kids parties are therefore a constant feature in our weekend lives and present buying can break the bank if you’re not careful. I don’t want to be mean, but I do try to have a sense of perspective – they’re only five after all and Josh’s peers are only 3 – how much do they really need?

But using this philosophy and living in the glossy environs of west London, I’m sometimes found wanting.

Awful moments come in many forms – major, life changing ones we can’t do anything about – and the little ones that are merely mortifyingly embarrassing – like when the going home present in the obligatory goodie bag is the same as the gift you’ve just given. Gulp.

#busted as a cheapskate

Behind the curve

6 Nov

Every now and again all of us get disillusioned with our current status quo. Last weekend was one for me. Six hours of sitting alone on my sofa watching Parliament Live TV to cover two parliamentary debates on beer tax and air passenger duty had prompted a bit of soul searching, not to mention a touch of numb bum.

A Friday night and Saturday of wittering with hubby and friends followed, whereby – like 99.9% of all freelance journalists – I thought I might try my hand at some kind of creative writing, perhaps even a sitcom..

Now I realise I’m not the only one to’ve ever come up with this gem of a plan, but to see “writing a sitcom”  in the going down column of Sunday Times Style mag the very next day, was slightly dream-dashing to say the least.

Apparently sitcom-writing was the new middle class version of “blogging” – which I’m still clearly doing – but now neither are en-vogue and the latter of which is now totally passe.

So not just behind the curve then, but behind the the whole flipping ball game..

A cheeky little plucker

1 Nov

No, the title’s not a pun about chickens or a random tie into the game season, it is me, ‘coming out’ about my unfortunate addiction: plucking.

Like any addiction, it started innocuously enough, the odd rogue eyebrow hair – hardly Denis Healey but rogue none-the-less. A quick pluck with a pair of tweezers and boom! eyebrow control once more.

Now the mention of control obviously rings alarm bells. I’m no psychiatrist but aren’t all proper addictive behaviours: bulimia, anorexia, alcoholism, drugs, self harming etc –  either fundamentally or in part about control or loss of it.

I realised tonight, as I undergo my now daily plucking session before bed in the quiet of my own bathroom – the only time in fact I ever really get in the bathroom alone these days – that this five minutes of plucking has become my sanctity – my refuge – and my ‘me’ time. I need it, I crave it, I’d panic if I couldn’t find my tweezers, yikes –  It’s true, I am addicted to plucking.

I love nothing more than getting a sneaky hair by the tweezer tips and plucking it out, full follicle and all. The excitement and rush – it’s a mood changer, enhancer, whatever you like to dubb it. But woe betide the breaker – that horrible moment when, despite a good grip with the tweezers the hair snaps at the root, leaving a tiny stubb, too small to grab again, too long to create a smoothe finish.

Maybe I should try going cold turkey to get over my obsession – or perhaps, with Christmas coming up, I could just pluck the turkey instead. (boom boom)

Middle Aged Drunk Dialling

9 Oct

I’ve long been a fan of Caitlin Moran, and having enjoyed her articles & book, I then finally got round to reading this piece “I got the infant from Time Out drunk”

I would just like to point out to the juvenile puker at Time Out, that although he may have vommed, Ms Moran was not exactly immume to the effects of the vino. As any slummy-mummy will know, Boden shopping to mums is essentially mummy porn for the middle class, slightly tipsy mother – or maternal drunk dialling if you will, for want of a better equivalent.

Better we shop online & spend a small fortune while fantasising about perfectly coiffed kids than fantasise about other men, dialing up old flames or generally causing more trouble for ourselves than need be.

Boden can always be returned & refunded. No harm done.

My ‘Oldness’

13 Sep

Rolling over in bed last night I got a bit of my insides caught in my ribs.

This has never happened to me before. Unsure of how to remedy the situation, I carefully rolled back to my original position, untucked my inner wobbly bits and rolled again more carefully without snagging my innerds on my ribs.

I can only assume that I caught my  ‘oldness’ – as I’ve dubbed it – unawares and that as I age, the bits inside me will start sagging as much as the drooping exteriors. Clearly they’ve already started.

Mumisms

12 Sep

I just did it again…

Definition of a mumism: A fact your mum told you years ago, probably as a child, that stuck in your head which you randomly use in grown up conversation years later without thinking – only to realise that it’s not a fact at all and you just took it as such because YOUR MUM SAID IT WAS SO….AND YOU BELIEVED IT HOOK, LINE AND SINKER.

My latest mumism:

To my friend: “The only reason stopping me moving to Bristol is that it’s the wettest part of the UK, got it’s own special micro-climate” – even without googling this, it’s a pretty safe bet this  isn’t actually true but i said it with my default – I-trust-my-mum – head on and then had to admit I just fell foul of a classic mumism..

A quick google seems to suggest Cumbria .

Thanks mum. So Bristol’s back in the running then.