Friday, 25 February 2011

Struggling With A Case of the What If's.....

What a weird, weird week. For the first time in my adult, post-education life, I am jobless although admittedly I did manage to prolong the student years for far, far too long. More accurately I am redundant, albeit voluntarily before anyone starts feeling excessively sorry for me.

The word 'turbulent' would accurately describe how I have felt this week. I've veered from ecstatic appreciation at being able to laze about watching films on the sofa, to guilt at the fact that I have not already managed to clean the house from top to bottom with nothing but my tongue and some bicarb of soda (by way of bad housewife self-flagellation), then to despair that I may never get another job again and have now condemned my family to life in a small rusty caravan with nothing but pot noodles and a dodgy one bar electric fire by way of comfort.

I may be slightly over-egging the pudding, but if I were an actress in a film this week I would be Joan Crawford in one of her great over-acted melodramas, Mildred Pierce perhaps, but without the scary eyebrows and hopefully without my children writing a tell-all memoir about my evil parenting methods in 20 years time.

The thing that stops me from just sitting back and enjoying this time off is that I struggle to live in the moment. As soon as I achieve one thing my mind is racing to criticise for not having achieved something else.

"Oh wow I have just mopped the floor for the first time in....well nearly ever to be honest. Aargh but the kids have not eaten anything but carbohydrate for the last two days...."

You see? Why can't I just be rightly proud of my new shiny floors (who knew that was their real colour) before I race to lament another example of my failings in life? I know I'm not alone in this and it is an affliction which most of us suffer from as it is just too hard to keep all those balls up in the air at once.

There are so many things I want to spend this bonus time doing but when push comes to shove the only thing that counts is to spend time with the important people in my life; family and friends.

So I am forcing myself to try to live in the moment and enjoy this for what it is, but there is that little niggling voice at the back of my head which keeps asking:

"What if you never get another job again?"

So I am going to use every tactic in the book to force myself to relax into this period of downtime. I am not going to give in to the 'what if's' with their nebulous, all encompassing anxieties. A quick stab in the leg with a fork by way of aversion therapy should put paid to that, so whilst my redundancy may leave me with permanent markings akin to the crocodile people of Papua New Guinea, I will at least be able to tend to my wounds in an entirely relaxed, anxiety-free frame of mind.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Free Will, Ageing Armpits and a Truly Original Valentines Present

So the last few days have been revelatory in many ways.

My 19 month old daughter has just discovered free will in a big way. Every parent reading this will need no further explanation and can just nod in empathy remembering their own particular moments of public humiliation at the hands of a tantrum wielding toddler. I have been there before with my son, yet somehow I thought my daughter would be different. I had convinced myself that her amenable, giggling babyhood was indicative of a truly sweet and placid temperament. I am an eternal optimistic fool.

The difference this time is that I know it will not be for ever. This phase does come to an end. My son is now peeping shyly around the corner of becoming a reasonable human being. He is within touching distance of rational thought and basic decency....if he can only......stretch that bit.....further........ we'll be there.

In the meantime I will ride the crest of my daughters moods and it will all be fine. She may look like she has come straight from a Mabel Lucie Atwell illustration, but she has the fire of a true warrior. Let battle commence.

Leading me to the second revelation of the week. Historically I've not really given much thought to my armpits. They get a daily dose of deodorant and are casually threatened with a wafting razor and that's about it. I now realise I should have paid them much more attention. I should have revelled in their tautness; the tight hollow between arm and torso. I should have gloried in their smooth contours because seemingly overnight they have become the first part of me to significantly and irrefutably look OLD.

At some point between September (when it was last hot enough to wear a vest outside) and Saturday night, gravity has extacted such a precision targeted almighty pull on my armpits that I now officially have an armpit wattle.

I noticed this as I tried on a sleeveless dress to go to my friends 40th birthday party. The dress always looked fine on before but this time something jarred. It took me a few minutes of squinting and trying different angles in the mirror before I realised what the subtle difference was. Before I had nice armpits, now they look very much like the photo I chose for this week's silent sunday;

My armpits have now been formally retired from public view. I am distraught.

And the final word is reserved for my husband. I love you so very much. You are thoughtful, loving, supportive, generous and do all the laundry. You are my hero and I know that your heart was truly in the right place. It reflected my love for history and collecting quirky and interesting anecdotes about places. At any other time it would have been the most wonderful present, but somehow buying me a guided tour of Manchester's underground sewer system for Valentine's Day seems to err slightly on the side of unromantic.

I'm just saying.

(I love you. x)

Monday, 14 February 2011

Listography - 5 Favourite Movies

So this weeks list over at Kate's is 5 favourite films. Here are some of mine;

Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I remember being taken to see this film at the cinema. I was 10 years old and I fell deeply and irrevocably in love with Indiana Jones. The film had everything. Drama, spookiness, adventure, romance and a fantastic score. Everything. And I even loved the heroine - a truly worthy match for Indy. And what about the ending - was there ever a better ending to a film? What the hell was in those other boxes????

Raiders of the Lost Ark Poster

I love this film. It was the first film I took my son to the cinema to see and it was also the first film my daughter sat and watched all the way through, cuddled up on the sofa with me and her brother not moving once. It has the saddest, most bittersweet start to any kids film you could ever see and the most random assortment of character, but still manages to be truly uplifting. Beautifully animated with an amazing soaring orchestral soundtrack it is a wonderful film for all the family.

A house is hovering in the air, lifted by balloons. A dog, a boy, and an old man hang beneath on a garden hose

Uncle Buck.
This is frequently repeated on TV and every time I watch it with my husband we end up laughing. The downside is that upon meeting any annoying person with a facial growth we have an entirely un-pc urge to quote Uncle Buck by telling them to; "Take this quarter, go downtown, and have a rat gnaw that thing off your face". Fortunately I never have because that would just make me a very bad person.

uncle buck take this quarter

When Harry Met Sally.
Just the perfect romcom, and the start to a huge girl-crush on Meg Ryan. My husband and I visited the famous Katz Deli when were on honeymoon (location for the faked orgasm scene). We got a bit scared by the huge choices on offer and the impatient, shouty New York deli staff so left without ordering anything, but I still managed to pay homage to Meg with a bit of a hair toss and a moan.

When Harry Met Sally... Poster

Gone With The Wind.
Unadulterated melodrama and tragedy. I first saw this when I was around 10 or 11 and my mum took me and a friend to see the film. She sat inbetween us and by the time of the interval (back in the days when there were such things) my friend and I had had sobbed so uncontrollably at Scarlett's civil war traumas that both of mum's sleeves were soaking and she was dreading the appearance of Bonny Blue Butler and her tragic demise in the second half. Scarlett has to be the ultimate heroine. Dazzling, beautiful, flawed and with a steely inner core. And the book isn't half bad too.

Gone with the Wind Poster

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Silent Sunday - Bit of a Turkey

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Nightbreath On My Cheek

My boy has been feeling under the weather and for the last few nights, just around bath time, has come a small plaintive request;

“Mummy, I still feel poorly. Can I sleep in your bed tonight?”

My husband sighs and shakes his head but his eyes betray his smile. He is smiling at the simplicity of the boy’s request; at how little it takes for him to feel safe and cared for. He is also smiling because it means he will have to squeeze his large man-frame into a very small toddler bed located upstairs from everyone else, and will therefore enjoy a night undisturbed by the random cries, snores and snuffling which usually punctuate our sleep on an exhaustingly regular basis.

My son’s eyes light up when we agree that he can sleep with mummy;

“Just for tonight though…” I warn him with little effect.

Once in his pyjamas he scampers into the bed positioning himself firmly smack bang in the middle and waits expectantly for his bedtime stories.

Usually a minimum of three stories and as many songs is required before he will agree to surrender his grip on his day, but when in mummy’s bed he needs much less knowing that he is on slightly uncertain ground and better not push his luck if he is to avoid eviction by an exasperated mother.

Stories and songs complete he snuggles down contentedly.

“You coming to bed soon mummy?” he asks.

I assure him that I will be up very soon to check on him.

“Will you give me a kiss when you come up?”

I tell him that I always do, and he is happy with this.

His eyes close, and his long eyelashes rest on his perfect cheek. His breathing slows down and becomes regular. I pull the door shut and walk downstairs to the rest of my evening.

Later, when I come to bed, he has crept over on to my side hugging my pillow tight. He is hot underneath the thick duvet, and when lifting him onto the other side of the bed I let some air under his pyjama top to cool him down. His hair is damp on his forehead and he smells like wet puppy and fresh baked biscuits rolled into one. As I lift him he stirs and throws his arms around my neck holding me tightly. I whisper reassurance and as I get into bed next to him he relaxes his grip and snuggles in close, his face against my face, his arms and legs a jumble of limbs trying to slot comfortably into me.

I remember back to when that body did fit snugly into mine. When I would spend evening after evening hypnotised by the activity inside me, wondering whether it was tiny hands, elbows or feet that were causing my stomach to undulate of its own accord. I marvelled then at the sheer miracle of this tiny life and I marvel now at the love I have for this small, loud, exasperating, chaotic, wonderful child I am so lucky to know.

I lie there with his hot nightbreath beating against my cheek and cannot sleep. I am not comfortable and every attempt I make to move slightly away from him causes murmured protest. So I lie there simply loving my boy as he twitches to the rhythm of his dreams, and I listen to him breathing in and out, in and out, in and out.

Just for tonight though….