Work like you don't need the money.Love like you've never been hurt.Dance like no-one's watching.Sing like no-one's listening.Live like there's no tomorrow.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

The Bosom of my Family

I think it would be fair to say that the Child Family do enjoy a nice Get-Together!

To an Outsider or a Newcomer, I should imagine the experience of initiation into the Clan, might come as somewhat of a shock; which is to say, that this is not for the fainthearted!

Mine is a Matriarchal family, and yet it revolves around my Father who, like a vivid Sun presides over an oestrogen-heavy Universe. More than sixty five years of enthusiastic breeding and colourful marriages have allowed to the generations to overlap, so that my youngest brother, is a mere four years older than my eldest son. This entirely eliminates any opportunity for a melodramatic teenager, to wail plaintively that, "It's not fair .... NO one understands me?" as invariably, this is impossible if your Uncle is a mere Teen himself? Plus, one is most likely to be told firmly, just to "Get on!" if even contemplating wallowing in self pity within a Family, so awash with theatricals! And of course you could follow my Father's directive that ;If you don't like it here, you can always "Go to the Pub!"

Arriving at a Family party, must be a little like stumbling upon a colony of mating Elephant Seals, in terms of sheer size and volume! You will invariably be crushed to the Family bosom and kissed firmly on each cheek and thereupon asked what you would like to drink? A wall of sound hits you like a juggernaut because my Family LOVES to talk. Loudly. And where possible Shout! In fact there are very few things that my Family doesn't love doing, with the exception of anything to do with Maths or V.A.T.

We eat to too much, smoke to much, drink much too enthusiastically and are demonstrably over affectionate. In short we generally have a hell of a good time. God forbid, if you are about to enter the fold, that you might be Vegan or Shy?

There s no particular criteria for inclusion ,although you might find yourself in a sticky situation if you are Dull, Flat Chested or have Bad Manners? Lest anyone feel inadequate let me explain..
The Child family is noisy, opinionated and prone to getting overexcited. Therefore if you are monosyllabic and say Toilet, Lounge, Settee or PARDON, you're on a fast train to nowhere!
Quirky is good. Eccentric a dead cert, particularly if it makes a good story to tell!

As a Teenager, I tried resolutely to kick back against the Family and was disconcerted to find even militant Evangelical Christianity and Near-Infant Marriage failed to even rock the Family's unswerving devotion to me. Even throwing in a baby or three straight out of University was met with utter acceptance and reassurance that they had utter conviction in my decision making? What the Hell?

So now that I've been cut loose from my marriage, the draw to the Family is irresistible. I don't feel as though I need re branding with the family stamp, rather it is as though, the ties that bind you, become all the stronger when the current threatens to overwhelm you. I never really left.

Arriving at my sister's 21st Birthday Party was so wonderfully reassuring. Even if you have gained enough weight to make you an easy contender for the Bulgarian Olympic female Wrestling Squad, you can be assured that someone will say "Darling you look marvellous and you've lost weight?" before handing you a plate heaped with enough cholesterol laden comfort food to clog the Channel Tunnel. And this is love. The total and complete assurance, that you are unequivocally wanted and that it has never even crossed the collective family consciousness, that you might have failed.. Spectacularly!

I mused as to what particular image embodied the Family and realised that it was something I had possessed all along? The family Bosom. We are a family of statuesque women; both Blond and Brunette, but one of our many defining feature is the hereditary plateau-like bust! Between my Father and his two magnificent sisters collectively known as "The Aunts", twelve nephews and nieces, never mind three grandchildren; have been rocked, bobbed, winded and balanced on the Child Bosom. Even my petite middle sister has ,what could be politely called "ample plenty"! This family does nothing by b cups!

Whilst it was the bane of my adolescence ( I longed to look like Kate Moss)and I was known as "Himalayas" at school; as I wobbled into the uncertainty of Motherhood, I suddenly realised that I drew comfort from the fact that I, just like the strong, brave and determined women in my family; had a bust to be reckoned with! As I looked at my beautiful youngest Sister beside her Mother and our Aunt, I realised that it take balls to carry off a bust like ours?
It our utter conviction ,that us Child Women are indefatigable, that binds my family together, where other families may value brains, success and wealth above all else.

Thus, heady with self-belief and bursting at the seams with enough food to feed a small battalion I headed back around the M25 to that God-Forsaken Outpost in the East (It's Essex, not Siberia Dad!) ready to fight another day.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

"Dear Diary" Homage to Youth

My eldest son stood in the Kitchen this afternoon, his eyes full of rage and hissed "This is CRAP Parenting!!! You obviously were NEVER 13!!!!!!!" then he stormed out, slamming things and people on the way to his bedroom! Later, when he'd stopped swearing and was hungry, he came downstairs and we agreed to haul the Christmas Decorations into the Loft. This is a two person project, as it has to be achieved by dragging things through a ridiculously small hatch and then by crawling on all fours, for a couple of metres, into the loft cavity. Mid manoeuvre, one of us tripped over a cardboard box labelled "Valuables," written in felt tip on the side, in an indisputably teenage scrawl. When it spilled its guts onto the dusty floor, Eldest son and I discovered a Time Capsule of my Adolescence from twelve years old to my early twenties. There were around twelve packs of photos with all the negatives intact and a jumbly collection of "treasures" tangled up in the string from a deflated, helium balloon from my 18th birthday. This box had obviously travelled from London to Colchester in 1999 and had been stowed in the loft and never looked at again.

"God, who is THAT?" asked Eldest Son, aghast, handing me a photo which turned out to be me, aged twelve, smiling sheepishly next to some long forgotten Olympic Hockey Player, who had visited our school. "Er that's me?" I replied. He considered it for a minute "Minging hair Mum... no offence or anything!" So we rummaged further through Carol concert sheets, faded snaps of myself and his Godmother at various ages until suddenly in the corner of the box I spied the curling corners of a Jackie Diary, 1987. Tossing it Eldest Son ,I nonchalantly said " this might amuse you". And so sitting amongst his baby toys and bags of babygroes, Eldest Son settled down to come face to face with his Mother's 14 year old self. And he stayed there for two hours until his feet turned to ice and his bum was numb.

So in tribute to Noo, Joey, Beaka and Melly some genuine excerpts from " Dear Diary" (cliched I know, but I d just read Ann Frank!)

Wednesday 11th Feb 1987

Dear Diary.

Terrible French test. Made Fish Pie in Cookery. YUK. Came home and read some of the "Meat Book" cried and went to bed. Will become a vegetarian in the morning.

Tuesday 25th March 1987

Dear Diary

Went to the Science Museum. Boring. 1 hour lecture on Chemistry. 1 hour lecture on Physics. YAWN. Caught R Matthews and R Ellery having a fag in the toilet with A. Sturgess. Disgusting!

Saturday 18th April 1987

Dear Diary

M spilled Coke on my clothes so I had to get a new outfit for the Roller disco tonight. Went to the Roller disco and I got asked to go out with this boy? J was sexually harassed by someone pulling her sleeve and at the end some bitchy girls wouldn't let me get my bag and a boy kept touching the back of my legs? YUK! Wore my Snazzy earrings.

Saturday 16th May 1987

Dear Diary

Did Prep all afternoon. Went to Roller Disco and met Marcus and Bob from the last time. Marcus is going to tell Bob to tell MARK that I want to go out with him. N wants to to go out with Marcus but now I think I love him? Shaved my legs when I got home to take my mind off it. OWWWWWW!

Thursday 11th June 1987

Thatcher won the General Election. Now We ve got the BITCH for another 5 years. Watched Dynasty and felt better. Watched a film called K'tang Yang Kipper bang which had sex in it nearly!

Tuesday 13th october 1987

Did Prep til 10 PM after school. Julia saw DANIEL at the Roller disco on Saturday and he kissed her TWICE!!!!!! one normal kiss and 1 Frenchy....Lucky Girl.....

Saturday 19th December 1987

Had to go to the Labour Party Christmas bazaar. Why are they so hairy? Then came home and G made us watch "When the wind blows" about Nuclear war. Depressed. Watched "The Slipper and the Rose " secretly in the Study with the light off to cheer me up!

So eldest son finished his riveting read and chucking the diary onto the Coffee table he sloped off to the fridge again. "So?" I enquired "You see I was a teenger once!". He stared at me incredulously and said " You had it really easy, I have to deal with REALLY serious and stressful stuff!" He wandered out of the kitchen, but not before he threw back over his shoulder... "Oh and Mum? Y' know you are still quite SAD!"

Thursday, 28 January 2010

The A- Z of Single Parenting; O to Z

O- Organisation.This skill sums up the grass roots of successful Single Parenting. Sadly it is the thing I am least talented at. A beloved friend of mine, had it sussed within weeks of her abandonment by a AWOL husband and armed with a million lists complete with timescales; attacked the barren Northern Face of flying solo, with gusto. Nothing could be done without a very Strong cup of tea, a notepad and her diary. Organisation is key if you are to hold down a job, that is ;if you want a snowball's chance in Hell of anyone taking you seriously and also, to avoid your offspring suffering from neglect. An organised Single Parent deftly handling clashing School Performances, Business calls, dental appointments and Tesco deliveries is poetry in motion.

P - Pants. This can be used as an adjective to describe the sort of day you've had but actually is a living nightmare of the cotton variety. If you accidentally miss a whites wash, after a day of work and exhausting dramas, then the next morning the full horror of the dawning realisation that there are no clean pants, hits you like an express train. Older boys can be bribed to wear their swimming trunks (oh yes!) but nothing will coax a seven year old girl, in need of her big cotton M&S best, into a bikini bottom. Hence mid school run, a certain parent has been known to screech to a halt outside a well -known supermarket and hurl herself towards the Children's Clothing section, grabbing the nearest 5 -pack of High School Musical briefs and pelting hell for cotton to the self serve. Of course the moral of this sorry tale is, that on reaching the car she will discover she has inadvertently picked up age 12-13years.......

Q - Quality time... for whom? When??

R- Rest and relaxation; is either acquired in bed, between midnight and six am, or on a "Night Out" with the Girls. Both require strenuous planning and determination to achieve the desired outcome. The former, because you might well have permanent residents who share your bed (and have done since your Ex left!) and the latter because every conspiracy known to womankind, will psyche itself up to stop you teetering out of that front door, clutching a ridiculously small handbag and your lip gloss! But Rest and Relaxation should be taken in moderation ,for fear that some kindly soul will comment on how easy your lot is and they don't know why you make such a fuss about this single parenting lark! You've been warned!

S - Sex. Not for the faint hearted. Any newly single Parent will tell you they would rather have hot bath and a cup of tea. But as time passes and the winking lights of Internet Dating Sites begin to pop up on your home page (How do they know?? Do you have a "Dumped" label on your back??) you are drawn by the lure of and E-Harmonie. Hours are wasted fruitlessly trolling through pages of "too short", "too tall", "too stupid" and "pig ugly" and the search engine despondently tells you it has zero hits, when you type in "Kind". Anyone making a foray into this emotional bargain basement should remind themselves that there s always a reason why these men are single.... Rebound sex is apparently like running a Marathon in Clogs. Go figure.....

T- Tidy. This is the compromise that Single Parenthood forces on your house pride. It supersedes clean!

U - Unwelcome Revelations. The bug bear of many a a single parent. Some score right up there with being poked in the eye with a blunt stick. For example the Dental Nurse who asks ,as she sucks your saliva out of your mouth with the noisy plastic tube, whether you are related to the man who has the same surname as you? And without waiting for your reply, commenting that she went out with him in 2001.... approximately half-way through your marriage....

V - Violence. To be restricted to daydreams about how your Ex could get their comeuppance and occasionally against inanimate objects such as bollards (reversing to fast) saucepans (falling out of disorganised cupboards)shopping trolleys (they deserve it) and Hi Fi systems (which bounce when thrown!)

W - Willies. Nothing can prepare you as a Mother, for having to handle your adolescent son's questions and anxiety about his Willy. Your mind screams, "This is not my bloody job, where s his Father when you need him!?" So I did what any good Single Mum would do...... bought a book on how to care for your willy (yes there really is one), several copies of Nuts magazine, four boxes of Kleenex and put a lock on his bedroom door. Job done and for the first time in his Life my Son is an avid reader. Big Parental Brownie points!

X - is for Kisses XXX. The only ones you ll get are on homemade cards which suddenly become more precious than diamonds. These paper offering s will clog your underwear drawer long after your little darlings have flown the roost!

Y- Yes. I have developed a full blown case of Yes syndrome. I suspected it was a genetic flaw but it has taken on a life of it's own, leaving me completely incapacitated above and beyond anything my own Mother suffers from. I say "Yes" I will take seven children and two crazy dogs sledging in the Dark; "Yes" of course I ll take on totally unnecessary emotional responsibility for Friends, Friends' s disturbed adolescents, lost and abandoned psychopaths, drunks, drug addicts, pathological idiots etc etc. Why ? Why simply because there, but for the grace of God go I; and I know that if it was me that I would be swamped with offers of help and support from those who are themselves in the least suitable position to help, but they still offer.

Z - My addiction, widespread amongst Single Parents; Sleep (Zzzzzzzzzzz). I crave it , fantasize about it, plan for illicit liaisons with it, in snatched moments between work and the school run! Its allure is irresistible and beckons me from the furry blanket softness of the sofa when I should writing University essays or loading the dishwasher. I am helpless with desire and succumb almost every time... Just 5 mins.........
Did you know that Life could be this exciting!!!

The A to Z of Single Parenting; A -N

A* - Adultery; usual cause of one Spouse ending up with sole care the Children. Alternative A is A*sehole; descriptive term, which should be muttered through gritted teeth when Estranged Spouse complains how exhausting their life is (ON THEIR OWN!!!!)
B - Baggage; how the Single Parent might describe their Ex's new partner, or alternatively the term used to describe the main cause of the Single Parent being unable to form a new, lasting relationship. Usually refers to extensive emotional scarring, as a result of A* (Please refer)
C - Children, the sole Priority of the Single Parent, scoring way above Work, Social Life, Financial Security and Sleep. Tend to come in sets of two or three and are high maintenance and eat a lot. The Single Parent , becomes known to aforementioned Children as, "the Bad Guy", on the grounds of having to enforce teeth brushing, hair washing, homework-beasting,TV restricting etc
D - Divorce: an expensive, soul- destroying experience, involving a lot of paperwork, trips to heinously expensive Lawyers and new (unwanted) understanding of areas of Law such as Custody and Alimony. Common theme of Jacqueline Wilson novels aimed at disturbed Pre teens.
E- Experience, What you are supposed to put the previous category down to! However realistically Divorce will be filed under B. E could also refer to Emotional Scarring which is largely invisible except under moments of extreme duress at which point the Single Parent may use explosive language and rant along a theme of "It's not Bl**dy fair, why me?????"
F - Father. This refers to the Parent who usually; although not always, left the Family Home. Known to the Children as, "the Good Guy" who takes them bowling or swimming and invariably to Pizza Hut, once a week. Usually says "Yes" to most requests of the Children and "No" to all the requests of the Mother. Has no responsibility for discipline, a*se wiping,sickbed nursing, laundry maintenance, meal provision, homework supervision, dental/medical/optician visits, Parents Evenings, cake sale baking, after- school- club taxi service or anything in relation to Childcare. ( see C)
G - Grandparents.;the bedrock of the Single Parent. A Lifeline, who provide emergency Childcare, a shoulder to cry on and fill the gap left by the missing Parent. Possessed of abnormal levels of patience, compassion and moral support and should be given Living Sainthood or at least MBE's for services to the Single Parent. Can be called on at the last minute for all kinds of crisis; financial, psychological and when the Single Parent finds themselves floored with illness preventing them being able to do the school run or a provide nutritious supper?
H - Humour; the best weapon against the kind of mishaps that befall the Single Parent. Humour should be applied liberally to all the major parenting disasters such as; Childcare failure, expensive car repairs, sudden unexpected bills, school exclusions,invasions of vermin in the ground floor of houses, ridiculous and unwarranted criticism from ex- spouse, and particularly to deflect playground rumours, as to why you are; single/ fatter/ late to collect/why your child has non- matching socks/a missing school bag/ why your child has turned up in costume a month too early for Romans day? Utilise where applicable.
I- Ignorance. This is a state of mind familiar to the Single Parent of a Teenager, who has suddenly committed some sort of inexplicable act of destruction/emotional deviance/willful neglect/defiance which leaves the Single Parent agog with disbelief and unable to answer the question directed at them of "Why???" Despite vigorous soul searching ,the state of baffled ignorance may persist and advice of friends and wider family should be sought to resolve the situation!
J - Jelly Beans. A useful source of on-the-hoof energy replenishment ,for the Single Parent attempting to defy the laws of gravity/logic/time in order to fulfill their obligations and get to every appointment within a ludicrously small timescale. May be found at the bottom of handbags with a light coating of fluff and have a tendency to ad her to the screen of mobile phones.
K - Karma. The hope of the Single Parent, that the absent Parent will "get theirs!" Sadly a mythical expectation up there with Emotional Fulfillment and Enough Sleep.
L - Loo. The terror of the Single Mum ,who has to send her sons unaccompanied to the Men's Toilets. As they disappear into the ceramic abyss, the Single Mother has been known to hover nervously with the main Loo door ajar, calling plaintively to her sons until they return purple with embarrassment that their foolish parent should think, they would meet their doom in ASDA!
M - Mother. The female Single Parent; often referred to as the bane of Modern Society by the Tabloids for crimes against humanity such as: holding the family together, trying to raise morally upright, kind, sensitive sons who won't turn out like their father; sole bread winner etc. Widely considered to be sponging, fag- smoking, curler wearing harridans, up there with Evil Stepmothers.
N- Noise. A persistent problem in households where offspring outnumber the sole parent. Single Parents often evolve the ability to turn all sound disturbance, in White Noise, which occurs outside their realm of consciousness thus allowing them to continue writing essays for University, make incredibly important phone calls and watch their favourite programme on TV. This phenomenon makes these individuals particularly suited to loud and confrontational situations. Which is just as well really!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

If - with apologies to Rudyard Kipling


If you can find the missing sock and make at once a pair
and remove from the letterbox the Remote ,that's firmly wedged in there
If you can sort out chewing gum that's stuck in Someone's hair
and never once complain that you re knackered and it's not FAIR!
If you can wait for hours and hours and not be tired of waiting
at checkouts, garages, dry cleaners and school run queues
or read about endless celebrities' moans and not give in to hating?

If you can hold down a job somehow juggle childcare too

and bite back violent urge to swear, when a sock dyes everything blue,

If you can even summon humour ,when your house looks like a zoo

and find inner tranquility listening to Steve Wright on Radio 2.

If you can avoid a ticket when dropping kids to school

and bake cakes or write

lists while taking a conference call

and keep your professional cool?

If you know all the Pokemon rules and "get" Twitter? Blogs and Facebook?

Or you turn a blind eye in the kitchen, when The Yoof decide to cook

or understand she's got "Nothing to Wear" to comply with the latest look
or you stay up typing Year 9 projects, to get your offspring off the hook!
Do you serve your turn long after they are gone
when all wiser folk have left
and you are running completely on caffeine and by your toenails clinging on?
If you would travel to Mars for a friend, just to make them smile
or manage to hold back a grimace when you face the laundry pile?
if you can think of Higher Things while cleaning up something vile?
And never expect a word of thanks when you have gone the extra mile!
if you can fill the unforgiving minute
with sixty seconds' worth of distance run
and on your shoulders carry a world debt of worries
You must be a Woman, dear friend and - A Mum.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Road Rage

In a week that has seen some fairly monumentual emotional highs and lows, it should not be unexpected to discover that my patience might be a little thin on the ground.
I honestly baffle myself sometimes ,with my own stoicism in moments of extreme stress, by holding it together when all the dung in the neighbourhood seems to have hit my proverbial fan. Yet one, tiny thing can then trip a detonation of a size that is so completely out of proportion, with the crime, that when the storm dies down I 'm awash with remorse.
I dealt with the Rentokil on Monday with serenity, even when the man informed me that the four-legged fiends had probably died inside the walls because there was "no where to escape to". Tuesday's meeting with the Local Education Authority, where I had to beg them to find DS2 a Special Needs School was accomplished without tears or shouting.
I was dignified during the meeting with the Divorce Lawyer; not willing to concede that my financial settlement should in some way compensate me for having two children with special needs.
I even remained composed when SH phoned to exchange details of Lawyers but ended up with a free counselling session because I m too damn nice to put the phone down.
But then, after a long day at work on Thursday, someone stole my parking space.
You know the scenario; you have sat patiently flashing your indicator whilst a geriatric in a Skoda painfully completes his reverse out of the only parking space, outside the local Co Op.
It's five a clock and you've popped out to buy a loaf of bread and a pint of milk and the whole mission can surely be accomplished in five minutes flat with the wind in the right direction?
Then just as the space becomes clear, a Boy Racer in a sup ed up Ford Escort with a double exhaust, pumping fumes out the back, appears from no where screeches into my space?
The red mist descended. Instead of rolling my eyes to the ceiling and patiently waiting for the next space, I slam on the accelerator and grind to a halt inches from his bumper. Leaping out like Miss Piggy with Tourettes; I enquired VERY loudly, as Da Yoof climbs out of the driver's seat hitching up his jeans; if he was suddenly bereft of 20:20 vision? Was he also mentally deficient and of illegitimate parentage? He stared at me, bemused at the spectacle of a middle age woman in Ugg boots, waving her arms hysterically like the Essex relative of a Tasmanian Devil. His inarticulate response was that he didn't know I was waiting for the space. For some reason his total lack of concern or remorse added fuel to the fire and perhaps the fact that he laughed and asked "what are you going to do about it ...lift the car outta the way" was not the best decision he had made thus far in 2010.
So I parked. Behind his car. Blocking him in. For 15 minutes.
Cranking Radio 4 to full volume and turning off the headlights, I settled down to read the Daily Mail. He bought his fags and came out and banged on the window asking what in the name of fornication was I doing. I didn't wind the window down, but replied that I was parked?
"But I wanna go!" came the response to which I replied that I "didn't know that when I parked and what was he going to do about it? Lift my car out of the way?"
So we sat in my juvenile stand off.,for about 15 minutes with him crashing around the outside of my car like a Rhino on heat.
After a while, when the red mist had subsided ,I switched on the engine and drove off leaving a small open- mouthed crowd in my wake.
I hadn't won and the loss of self control wasn't pretty but I felt SO much better. So to summarise:

Monday's Mum has big rats to chase
Tuesday's Mum tries to find a school place
Wednesday's Mum gives the Lawyer "Green to go"
Thursday's Mum has a gasket 'bout to blow
Friday's Mum thinks her patience is giving
Saturday's Mum seeks the Meaning of living
but a long lie-in bed on the Sabbath Day, means this Mum will bounce back to fight another Day!

Monday, 18 January 2010


Divorce. The final frontier. It is a strange paradox that Divorce, is the only time in your life as an adult, when you can legitimately hate someone, with as much passion as you once loved them.
I do not believe there is such a thing as an "easy" divorce? Unless of course, in a moment of tequila-blinded madness, you became betrothed in the Chapel of Love in Vegas. Even then I suspect that you will have to endure the toe -curling embarrassment of trying to extricate yourself from the arrangement, beneath the disapproving frown of friends and relations (refer to Ross and Rachel, or look under Spears, Britney!).
So there should be a ban on the two words being linked together, as Divorce can only really be referred to with one or more of the following adjectives; awkward, painful, excruciating, financially emasculating or perhaps earth shattering?
Presenting your entire personal life for scrutiny by a previously unknown third party ,is akin to a gynaecological examination in front of a bunch of medical students. Divorce Lawyers come in all flavours: competent and clinical, brusque and practical, sympathetic and doggedly determined, or, in the case of my first Lawyer; disillusioned and drunk!
Sitting clutching a box of tissues in one hand and a cup of tea in the other, whilst discussing your ex- lover, best friend, father of your children, breadwinner, confident and muse is completely surreal. You wonder, as the Lawyer reads back to you the sordid details of marital demise, what on earth you saw in your spouse in the first place.?Your Beloved ,viewed objectively by a third party, rarely stands up to close scrutiny. Things you accepted about them, tolerated and sighed about in exasperation, suddenly become just cause for legal annihilation.
Even with the best will in the world, they don't have a leg to stand on and then the glass is held close to you, to see in all your glory, what a complete, total and utter mug you've been!
The most outstanding thing about divorce is how real it is. Without the buoyant euphoria which carries you through the chaos of organising a wedding; preparing to NOT spend the rest of your life with someone is like a smack in the face with a very wet, cold fish.
And that of course is the point... failure is meant to hurt ,so we don't do it again? What would an easy Divorce teach us? The whole process has to drag you kicking screaming and scrabbling out of the snugness of your comfort zone to front up to the reality that, it is your fault ,that you are in this bloody mess! It takes two to marry and the same two to divorce even though you may not have started the snowball effect yourself. You have to face the fact that despite what was drummed into you at school and beyond, that you really can't have it all?
Despite feeling like you have just descended to the bottom of a very deep ,emotional abyss; the actual process of "Doing" something to end a marriage, is oddly cathartic! The ridiculous cost of divorce snapping at your heels is an excellent motivator and pushes the process onward to it's inglorious conclusion. Whilst the vast majority would agree they wished their marriages had not ended, I have found that the old saying "'tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" has a new resonance. I have learned a great deal about myself in this process and shaken off the numbness of an unhappy marriage to properly feel again. There is a strange peacefulness after the feelings of self-loathing and injustice have subsided and you are left to examine what is left of yourself, once the divide has been made. You are not a broken half, but a battered whole. Fragile;Wiser with the scars to prove it, but nevertheless, still alive and whole.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Have it all? No! Do it all... you better believe it!

After a week which was quite spectacular in its awfulness and the recent patter of tiny feet.. WITH CLAWS.. I decided to go where no one,without a penis and a 4x4 should dare to go; the Tip.
Heartened by the new discovery that, a Citroen Xsara, can comfortably hold 27 bags of recycled paper, plastics and garden waste and with Dolly blasting on the CD player, I joined the masses queueing at Colchester's civil amenities site. I mused that Women of the 21st Century certainly couldn't "have it all", otherwise SH would be sitting here revving the engine, whilst I ironed his underpants in a Cath Kidston pinny, speculating what a what new challenges my week in the office would bring? However I decided that perhaps being able to do it all is in fact more satisfying than actually, having it all?
In fact I m fairly sure that SH is probably spending his Sunday in the gym, before swanning back to his neo-Georgian town house in Chav Central, while I lay face down with my arm inserted up to the elbow (wrapped in a bin bag) trying to unblock the kitchen drain of the family home! Although this was disgusting beyond all reason, it was strangely empowering, knowing that it proved, beyond all doubt that, SH's insistence that I was a, "fat, useless waste of space and oxygen" was, in fact, totally unfounded?
So back to the Tip, where surly, unshaven Tip Officer guided me to the cavernous containers where I could offload the unwanted detritus of Christmas. Sunday Dads eyed me suspiciously as I flawlessly parallel parked and then jumped out. Dressed as what can only be described as "contemporary Mrs Noah" and leaving Dolly wailing Bluegrass on the Stereo, I began to haul bin bags out of the boot. And bless them they all stood and watched! Not that I wanted any help, far from it ,I was quite content staggering up the wobbly steps carrying 3x my body weight in crap, but I was was amazed at their bemused hostility.
I presume they thought I must be a nasty dyke who had dared to trespass onto the holy ground of male domesticity, because of course only men are supposed to go to the tip? It is their token gesture of the week to load the wailing, squabbling offspring into the 4x4 or Volvo, along with the cardboard from the new fitted kitchen and the grass cuttings and pat the Wife and say "it's alright darling, I ll take them to the tip with me. You sit down with the papers and a cup of tea" whilst smug in the knowledge that they just earned their shirts ironed and a blow job if they are lucky!
Having offloaded the 27 bags with lightening speed beneath their testosterone -laden glare, I whipped off the plastic gloves and tossed them in after my my rubbish. Beaming at the men on the steps , I nodded conspiratorially at them announcing " ah that s not so difficult is it?" before whipping off my Mrs Noah overalls, to reveal the assets God gave me and a perfectly nice outfit which did not shout evil, feminist, comfortable shoe wearer by any stretch of the imagination.
Well that sealed it! The gauntlet(or yellow marigold) was well and truly thrown down.
Watching in my wing mirror as I waited for the exit, several middle- aged Dads decided to move one of the huge metal skips in order to create a wider access to the Green waste/garden. There was a flurry of activity and bravado as they heaved and strained. But it wouldn't budge and their activity provoked an outraged response from the neon- vested Guardians of Grime, who descended on them and informed them in now uncertain terms to desist in their affront of the Garbage Status Quo.
Chortling, I went home to get the next load of rubbish feeling strangely empowered and not at all the needy ,bane of society that the Single Mother is deemed to be. Smug is rarely something I aspire to but on this occasion, it was justified.

Friday, 8 January 2010

'Twas ten minutes to midnight.....

'Twas ten minutes to midnight and all through the house
not a creature was stirring not even a mouse...
but wait.. what's that scrabbling? What is that sound?
and I looked for the source, but no source could be found?
Lying flat on my belly,in drifts of dog hair,
pulling out fridge, then freezer
but nothing was there?

Through the cat flap, cold wind whistled
and the snow storm it blew
as I lay on my stomach knowing not what to do!
The scratching continued and so did the nibbling
and the labrador just sat there, snuffling and dribbling.
Scrabbling turned to gnawing, as I searched with a light
but no pesky rodentine visitor popped into sight?

I know this seems ludicrous and at that hour it was
but my mind set to thinking as I staked out the darkness
what fiend shared our home, midst the chaos and madness?
Could it possibly be Jacko the Hamster that fled;
last Summer's birthday prezzie, presumed to be dead?
Had he lived all this time, around the back of the units
not chased by dear Frankie and chewed into two bits?

Huddled in icy,cold darkness
I decided next day, to phonecall for aid
quicksmart to Rentokil, no matter how much I paid
to rid my poor house of this troublesome scratching,
I d make cups of tea while some bloke did the catching!
"But Mum!" cried the offspring, " might be our pet?"
I replied "he's been gone for six months, hasn't bothered you yet?!"

When proved futile my hunting I staggered to bed
When I arose the next day, aha! What did I find
A large hole through the loaf and some crumbs left behind.
Grabbing Thompson's directory and a large cup of tea
I retired to my bed thinking "Why me, why me????"
Rentokil were summoned to come right away
before whiskers invited some friends round to play!

"What kind of exterminator do you think you will need?"
asked the lady from Rentokil scanning her selection
"Mice, rats, or cockroaches.. what kind of infection?"
"Hamsters?" I faltered feeling face flushing red
" I m sorry" she replied "I misheard what you said??"
"Jacko...a hamster...not the late King of Pop!"
In the silence you could have heard many a pin drop.

Then some coughing, muffled laughter
" I see..." said Ms Rentokil, voice loaded with derision
" I ll ask my manager... it will be his decision!"
Then silence and lift music as my plight was appraised
The Ms Rentokil returned with a voice , slighty raised
" Mrs Hieatt, our service does not extend to lost pets
perhaps you d be better off calling the Vets?"

So Jacko is still in his skirting board domain
while I search for someone who'll kill a pest, with a name!?
Whilst he chews through our electrics; the freezer ,the hob
I will keep hunting for the right man for the job?
Let this be a warning to to future pet buyers
Buy Alcatraz for hamsters, if you value your wires!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Thoughts about Snow

Honestly, I don't know what we would all do if the heavens dumped the 190cms of snow on us that Japan is experiencing? The hysteria cause by eight inches, is nothing short of demented! Yes, I know we can't get to school or work or get the train to London but this does not qualify as a life altering experience? Where is our war time spirit, that we Brits were so renowned for? I think it's been bred out of us and we are now a nation of environmental wusses!

So we should make a list and form an orderly queue for our life time supply of loo rolls, dog food and baked beans and settle down in front of the TV, to watch series 1-5 of Friends.

The people who we really need to worry about are the poor souls reliant on daily medical treatment and the those who provide the emergency services who HAVE to work to keep the country ticking over.

My heart was gladdened by the sight of the Colchester Fire Brigade digging the engines out of the Fire Station, in their T shirts! Oh and by my Postman...wearing shorts!?

I think probably the only people rolling around in glee (apart from school children and Labradors) are the Global Warming Experts ;who are probably looking incredibly smug over their cups of fair trade tea, boiled in Eco kettles, saying "Told you so!" Mind you, not too many Woolly Mammoths cantering down my street ... yet!

So, I think the official line should be; wrap up warm, stay indoors, phone your mum/dad/granny/great Aunt and make sure they too are hibernating satisfactorily and have a nice cuppa. Be glad, at least we Brits have a genuine reason for once ,to harp on and on about our favourite subject.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

New Year... no socks

So it's 2010 and unusually for me I am at home without my children. Their beloved Grandmother took pity on me and has spirited them away to London so that I can study (theoretically, although all I have done thus far is sleep, eat, sleep a little bit more...) for my training course. Colchester has a festive sprinkling of snow, the temp is in the minus numbers and I can't find any socks.

That in itself is not unusual, as in a small house with three children; two of whom are on the Autistic Spectrum, you'd be lucky to find anything, with or without your Sat Nav! However a benevolent relative gave us a large collection of new socks (in matching pairs) and somewhere on the grand tour of the M25, the sock collective has been misplaced.

This is a very disappointing start to the year. By my usual standards, it normally takes until the end of February for the Christmas socks to become foundlings. This situation is normally redeemed by my Birthday at the start of March. So I have checked the dogs beds as Beans, the reprobate labrador (18mnths) is normally the culprit. No socks to be found. My mother and other female friends have suggested that my orphan sock collection, lovingly kept in a basket in my bedroom; is indicative of my mental state. I heartily concur with this surmise.

The sock collective is a colourful congregation of individual, cotton characters all with a story behind them.
Nothing matches, many have holes courtesy of the labrador or JJ who is a sock terrorist.
Every sock is important and so cannot be thrown away or unloved. The socks mix nilly willy, indifferent to socio-economic background; occasionally hurling them selves over the top in highly over optimistic attempts to belong or be useful.
There are socks in there from when A was born and thus serve no useful purpose whatsoever unless an art and craft project might suddenly require a solitary, size 2 GAP infant stripy?
But I can't throw them away?

However the visitors are interesting. There are solo socks from many visitors over the years. The after school play date socks, the trampolining visitor sock; the baby droppy- off- tiny- foot sock; the sledging with friends sock; the Halloween guest quick costume change sock; the bl**dy labrador ran off with the other one sock? The list is endless. Of course a wise woman would throw them all away, ethnically cleanse the laundry basket and the undies drawers of the aforementioned children, and start again. Hence the Christmas socks. But I've lost them.
Thus begins a new decade of unadulterated chaos. But no one is unloved or unwanted at least... even the low -cotton/ high polyester mix amoungst us.