Tuesday, 11 June 2013

There's always something ...

Life is too short to grate my own cheese. In addition, I have found that I possess neither the time nor the inclination to make my own pastry, bake my own muesli bars or separate my own lettuce leaves from the stalk.

I just can't seem to embrace the role of Catering Manager in our household. It just isn't for me. Shame, really. So, instead of gleaning joy from browsing a myriad of ingredients with which to lovingly create three course meals for my family, I get a kick out of ordering the items in my trolley just so. I pretend that there's a spot prize for the best organisation of trolley contents, which I would totally win by the way. I imagine that other shoppers are secretly jealous of my obviously neat and ordered life, rather than secretly judging me for obviously intending to purchase processed children's snacks.

Parenting guilt. There's always something. I feel guilty for not dehydrating my own fruit so M has something homemade to snack on. I feel guilty for not relishing the opportunity to cook for my loved ones and therefore show my love in a practical way. I feel guilty for not taking my toddler grocery shopping with me when other parents have to take theirs. I feel guilty for feeling guilty all the time instead of enjoying every moment, as if that is something that is even possible.

The thing is, I'm not really cut out for any of this. Thankfully, M hasn't seemed to notice. Yet.

photo credit: · sk├źne · via photopin cc

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Guest post

I have written a guest post for the blog of markusj75.

You can read it here.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The pursuit of happiness

As I sat in the front row of a jazz club the other night, within spitting distance of the brass section (their saliva, not mine, being the main concern), second glass of wine in hand, the thought struck me: this is what other people do. People who are not me. Other people know what they enjoy and go about doing it as often as possible.

I have been challenged to come up with a list of enjoyable activities, not just to refer to wistfully, but to implement regularly. I didn't realise it would be so hard. Having started by including such items as 'manicure' and 'facial', as I have heard these are the sorts of things women do to relax, I soon abandoned them in favour of things I actually like the sound of. For example, playing with my Hello Kitty sticker book. (Yes, I am 6). Or, having a cup of tea on my own. Or, practising my eyeliner skills, which, if I can help it, nobody will ever see.

All this enforced thinking about What I Like has reminded me that once upon a time, I had a casual, everyday sense of fun. I may not have been exactly carefree but I wore a frivolous, multi coloured striped top with a large bow on it from Miss Selfridge. I dyed my hair bright red for ages. Now my clothes are functional and the hair dye I have just purchased is as close to my natural colour (minus the greys) as I could find. Invisible colour, you might say. Invisible, sensible, don't-look-at-me colour. If I catch anyone looking at me at the supermarket I hope to God I've managed to fully dress myself in the mayhem that is life with a toddler. If not, well, it's too late, isn't it. 

I have already been working on retrieving my mojo, as inspired by Ministry of Mum and The Secret Life of Kate, but my efforts have been largely concentrated on weight loss and a pathetic attempt at fitness. It didn't occur to me that doing what I enjoy could be an important part of the bigger picture, and help me feel like 'me' again.

So, raise your glasses! Here's to more music, Merlot and the long-delayed acquisition of my mojo.

photo credit: ♥ KawaiiCloud ♥ via photopin cc

Sunday, 17 February 2013

All play and no fun

So, playgroup. A minefield of potential hazards, parenting philosophies and social awkwardness. I go because it's good for M. I guess. Social interaction with other kids and all that. It's also good for me. I guess. Making friends and all that lark. It's just that I find it excruciating. 

The first week we attended M somehow managed to fall off a chair and hit his head, twice: once on the corner of the table, then again on the way down as his forehead made contact with the concrete. Welcome to us! We need first aid! What a sparkling first impression we made.

If I'm not trying to protect him from further head injuries, I'm trying to keep him from being mown down by older children zooming around on wheels. Some kids will stop and offer an impatient "Beep beep!" before going on their merry way. Others won't. Little fingers get slammed in play kitchen cupboard doors and drawers. Little feet still getting used to shoes trip over plastic dinosaurs. It feels as though there are a million dangers lurking around every corner and in every toy box. 

I know what you're going to say: it's important for him to be able to explore his world. I can't protect him from everything and I shouldn't try. Well, get lost. I hate that he could get hurt at any moment by any one of a myriad of hazards, including other children. I can't stand it. 

Then there are the other parents. Everyone has a different approach to raising their children. If my child and someone else's clash over Thomas, what is the etiquette? My instinct is to model 'good sharing' regardless of who had it first, which means the other child gets the toy whilst M shakes with frustration. Is that really 'good sharing', or am I simply projecting my need to cause as little inconvenience to others as possible on to my son? If another child (known to be rough) hits mine but the parent doesn't notice and it probably didn't hurt, what is the etiquette? Remove my crying boy and pretend it didn't happen, distracting him with a plastic dinosaur? 

There are no guidelines. I have to make it up as I go along. Just because I'm a grownup doesn't mean I understand any of these social dynamics. I find myself making dozens of decisions a day without having the experience or knowledge to back them up. I can see myself responding to M's "But why?" in years to come with a predictable "Because I said so", which of course really means, "I have no idea why, but you put me on the spot and now I have to stick with my original decision lest you think me inconsistent, which I suspect would be a far greater crime. You'll thank me when you're older".

Maybe I should just stay home. I'm sure my little boy will be capable of inventing as many imaginary friends as necessary to make up for it.

photo credit: clogsilk via photopin cc