Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Some Words on 'Me-Time'

As I have mentioned a couple of times I have been hit with a bout of redundancy. After much initial musing my husband and I agreed not to disrupt the kid's routine by taking them out of a nursery where they are happy, for fear that we would loose their places, and in light of the fact that I would be looking for another job sooner rather than later.

Accordingly for the last four weeks I have been in the enviable position of being at home, child free, and with all the time in the world on my hands during the day.

Here is what I planned to do:
  • Go swimming.
  • Ride a bike everywhere.
  • Go to daytime yoga classes.
  • Meet friends for lunch.
  • Go to the cinema.
  • Blog lots.
  • Read lots.
  • Bake.
  • Get a facial/manicure/massage.
  • Spend one on one time with each child for one day a week.
  • Take the children swimming, to the cinema and theatre,
  • Save the pandas, understand the theory of relativity, and buy a pair of jeans which make my bum look pert (although I do realise that these last aspirations were idealistic and impossible to achieve within a relatively short period of time).
Here is what I have done:
  • Avoided going swimming.
  • Not taken the bike out of the shed.
  • Not looked for a yoga class.
  • Met a friend for lunch - once.
  • Been to the cinema - once
  • Written an average of less than one blog post a week.
  • Read Grazia on a weekly basis and the family section of the Saturday Guardian twice.
  • Barely turned the oven on (although I did bake 30 cupcakes for my son's birthday party).
  • Been nowhere near a Beauty Salon but have tried to find my tweezers several times.
  • Spent time with the children at GP and dental appointments.

In fairness it wasn't the best timing in the world to have arranged major structural building work to take place whilst I've been off work, rendering the house unsafe for little people to be around and meaning only my bedroom and the cellar are accessible during the daytime. Now to my utter shock someone has decided they would actually like to employ me, starting next week. My little oasis of idleness and self indulgence is therefore drawing to a close.

So I would like to share with you a little wisdom garnered from this experience of serious 'me-time'. To all the working mums and stay at home mums - you are fantastic. To keep all those balls up in the air is a spectacular feat of imagination, endurance and organisational skills.

I know when you are up to your armpits in meetings/laundry/nose-wiping/nappy changing/report writing it feels like nothing more than drudgery and 'me-time' is an aspirational luxury you can only dream of. But 'me-time' is only valuable when it is in the form of brief respite from an otherwise hectic life. In the absence of the day to day chaos too much 'me-time' feels quite frankly a little dull and meaningless. I have missed the kids and my husband during the day, and I have missed work, my colleagues, and purpose.

And so I am enthusiastically looking forward to resuming normal service. The rush to get four people dressed and out of the house in the morning. The commute, the interaction, the drama of working life. The thrills and the spills, the chaos and the mess are what make life interesting. You can keep your 'me-time' for now - I'm back in the rat race.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

It's Not What You Say, It's The Way That You Say It......

So there we were, a full carload, on our way to Blackpool to pick up a second hand fireplace which we had bought off ebay. The kids had dozed off in the back and my husband and I were listening to a programme on Radio 4 about Bob Newhart, the star of the first ever comedy album (The buttoned-Up Mind of Bob Newhart) and a famous US comedian. The album was a runaway success and credited with saving a then floundering little company called Warner Bros records back in 1960.

His style was to perform short phone conversation monologues, and if you have a spare few minutes to relax with your eyes closed and a nice cup of tea, theres one at the bottom of this post. In the programme he was interviewed about his deadpan style of comedy and I was particularly taken by his comments on the power of the well chosen word.

Imagine Mark Anthony about to make his seminal speech to the people of Rome following the assassination of Ceasar. It is likely that the citizens of the empire would not have responded quite as strongly to his invective if, instead of the famous;

"Friends, Romans, Countrymen. Lend me your ears."

he had instead opened with:

"Er.....excuse me, excuse me everyone. Could you come here a minute? I've got something to say..."

I am frequently amused by the modern flim flam of language, typified by those Marks and Spencer food adverts.

"This isn't just burger and chips. It's hand mashed meat byproducts, hand seasoned with your full years recommended salt intake, and lovingly deep fried by artisan operated catering machinery."

My husband and I were recently reduced to giggles when shopping in Debenhams as an enticing loudspeaker announcement was broadcast inviting us to visit their cafe and enjoy free range bacon on hand sliced bread rolls. Is it really a valid marketing strategy to boast that you have an employee stood in the kitchen slicing open bread rolls for the bacon butties?

Next time you feel that your life is a little on the mundane side, and needs an injection of glamour I suggest you take inspiration from these strategies. I decided there and then that we were no longer on our way to buy a second hand fireplace. We were sourcing a pre-loved vintage period piece.

Equally I am no longer killing a bit of spare time by blogging but am actively participating in creative community interaction. I am not going to have beans on toast for my lunch but instead am going to enjoy pan cooked pulses in a tomato jus with a fresh baked side of granary batch loaf. I am not sitting here in holey jeans and a baggy jumper but am modelling a creation of hand distressed vintage denim and a one off piece of individually designed artisan knitwear.

Try it for yourself. It's amazing how interesting our lives really can be.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Liebster Blog Award

Thank you to Lory at motherblogging for bestowing the above award upon my humble, little blog. To receive a compliment from someone who's writing I admire and regularly read brings a shy and bashful smile to my face.

As this is a spread-the-love-type of award, there are conditions in accepting it:

1) Create a post on my blog and add the Liebster blog image.

2) Link back to the person who gave me the award and say if I accept.

3) Choose 3-5 of my favourite blogs, link to these in my post and tell these lucky bloggers that they've been tagged.

The aim of this award is to bring lesser known but great blogs to light and so I am pleased to nominate the following favourite blogs of mine as recipients of this award:

Hannah Grage - open your heart to Hannah and her mom Carrie as they take you along on their fight against leukemia. Hannah is as cute as a button, with a will of steel and the soul of a rock star. She handles her illness with incredible bravery and stoicism. Carrie is one of my favourite people out there in blogland and her incredibly generous comments on my blog always make me smile. Inspirational.

My Mummy Wrote This For Me - a beautiful blog written by a mum who has survived breast cancer and writes about it in such a powerful way, including this post - an amazingly honest and powerful piece which has stayed with me. A beautiful blog with wonderful writing.

Parklover - I suspect this blog may have a larger following than is intended with this award but am nominating it in any event. I am fairly new to this blogger with her amazingly comprehensive guide to enjoying life in the outdoors with a young child. Whilst the blog is geographically based in my neck of the woods (mostly the northwest of England) it is utterly inspirational about just getting out there in all weathers and enjoying being outside with your little ones wherever you live. Love it.

Multum in Parvo - this mum writes with searing honesty about her divorce, and about the courage of opening herself to a new relationship with her fireman. Another blog I am new to but which has hooked me from the start. Her writing is truthful, genuine, and at times laugh out loud funny.

Manana Mama - as she has just been nominated as blogger of the week by the BMB blog I suspect she may not qualify as a lesser known blog for long, but nevertheless I will just pass this award on before her followers hit triple figures. She writes with a wistful, dream-like quality and her use of language is wonderful. Wisdom and humour permeate her writing and I always love to read her posts.

Do check these ladies out if you get the chance and bloggers please feel free to nominate your own favourite little gems.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Four Years

Some four years ago I was two weeks overdue with my first child. I was huge, hormonal and desperate to be rid of the squirming intruder inside my belly which seemed to show no interest in exiting at the appointed time. Two sweeps, two pessaries and 36 hours of gas and air assisted labour later and my boy arrived at 12.07 am on 7 March 2007.

There is nothing like the first few weeks with your first baby. Equal parts awestruck at the miracle you have created and sheer terror at the enormity of motherhood. Slowly you find your groove, and before you know it the first year has passed in a blur of nappies, sleeplessness and a love you never knew you could experience.

Then comes the milestones of walking and first words. Then the emergence of a strong willed little individual with their own opinions as to whether they should comply with your entirely reasonable requests. Another year passes in a whirl of delight at your little one's achievements and battles for supremacy.

Then came the terrible twos and, in our case, the arrival of a little sister. This combined with a 7 month extended potty training period made that year a challenge but nevertheless the charm of that little person never fails to win you over after even the worst day. A little smile, a whispered "Love you mummy" and a fierce hug will never. ever. ever. fail to win me right back onto his side. Another year passed.

Then the threes hit. Somehow I thought they'd be more straightforward but I was wrong. He's a handful. A bundle of bouncing, wrestling, mischievous energy. Cheeky, clumsy, impish, monkey child, leaving a trail of smells, noises and chaos in his wake. He cannot stay still for a moment, has to touch everything. And the questions....dear god....the questions. From morning til night;
"why, where, how, when, which, why...".

This is the year when I first started to hear my parents words coming out of my mouth;
"Because I said so"
"I said NO"
"I don't know why it's like that. It just is"

And my personal favourite invented by my great-grandmother and going back over a hundred years in my family history; "Because why is a crooked letter and you can't straighten it". (I don't believe it is intended to make sense, just to stump the average three year old into silence.)

I wouldn't change him for the wold. Not one single part of him.

Happy fourth birthday my dearest, darling first born. My son. My boy.