starting school

It’s that time. We are coming up to the time of year where everyone of a certain age will have their every social media platform flooded with pictures of children in brand new shiny, soon-to-be-ruined uniforms, shiny, soon-to-be scuffed/lost shoes, being forced to smile for a first day of school picture.

Last year I had a chuckle at the two people on my feed who chose to break the mould-my 23 year old cousin, who posted a picture of Sloth from the Goonies, with the caption ‘this is what I see when you all post pictures of your so called cute kids on their first day of school. Stop already,’ and my friend, who posted a picture of herself jumping up and down and high fiving the air, while her child cried in the background. Both were a humorous break!

I won’t be posting one, not because I feel strongly about them one way or the other, but because I don’t actually use my own social media very often-I’m mainly a bloody antisocial misery! I also seem to be the only person who is glad that their child is going to school. And it might not be for the reasons you think.

Firstly, he has made it very easy for me to look forward to him going. He has been excited about it for months, and lately has been asking to go to nursery more than his regular two days. He is so bored and over being at home with me and the assassin child. Admittedly, if he was terrified and anxious about going, this post would probably have a totally different tone, with me scouring the world for all cotton wool supplies to wrap him up with for ever, and looking to totally re-evaluate my future so I could homeschool him.

I can’t wait for the better balance I am 98% certain will make our fraught house a slightly more harmonious place to be, when I get to spend more time with both children on their own. Tensions between the two children and constant conflict over satisfying everyone’s needs (including the ‘third child’ husband,) has left me feeling kind of destroyed recently. Every day has felt like a battle, and one I haven’t had a chance of winning, or even neutralising.

Since the smallest was born, when the eldest was 14 months old, I’ve never managed to find anywhere near a balance of spending time with both of them individually-something I often ruminate may have inadvertently damaged my relationship with both of them. Last week, I had my first day on my own with the eldest, that I’ve had since his brother was born. That’s 3 and a half years ago. It was an AMAZING day. One of the best parenting days I’ve had in  such a long time.

When he is at school, I’ll have time with the smallest on his own, and during school holidays, when the smallest is at nursery, I’ll have the eldest on his own. They are both looking forward to this time like you wouldn’t believe-and so am I. I feel like I can finally get to know them properly, and enjoy each day, instead of dragging myself through it, dodging my ever boiling temper, and constant fights for assassin supremacy.

During a park meetup last week, with some of the parent/children who will be in the eldest’s new class, all of the parents were throwing out the classic phrases like ‘hasn’t the time gone quick?’ ‘I can’t believe we are at this stage already!’ Half of me wondered whether these are just small talk phrases, that nobody actually believes, and the other half of me wondered if I actually just feel time differently to everybody else-because I’ve felt every second of the last 4 and a half years. Then I settled on the fact that people only feel like it’s gone quickly because they can’t remember every second of it- your brain can’t possibly do that, so you just remember the abridged version, which makes it feel like there’s been much less time than there has been. I have been parenting (mainly solo, apart from occasional full weekends,) for about 1632 days. And as much as I’ve marvelled over the milestones, and enjoyed some of it, it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s flown by. At all.

I’m also feeling quite selfish at the moment. Maybe it didn’t help that until 2 weeks before I became a mum, I had spent 10 years in a job where I selflessly put other people’s needs before mine, mostly working more hours than I ever got paid for, to the detriment of my social life and anything I wanted to do for myself. I went straight from that, into a job with a very similar job description, which was 10 times harder, and completely unpaid (although largely more rewarding and love filled.) I just want to enjoy more time to myself now, and do something for me. I can’t wait for this, actually.

So yes, he’s my oldest baby, and I’ll miss his careful, considered, deep thinking (if somewhat a little moany) presence in my life. But, there are a lot of feelings that come along with having both children at home, that I’d rather not be feeling, given the choice, and that is why I’m looking forward to the new balance that his going to school will bring. I’ll more than likely send him off with a lump in my throat, and totally forget to take a picture of him, because I’m just a bit shit like that…!

 

Two glasses of wine

The dawn of the internet era and the rise of ‘honest’ parenting being available for all to see, has seen (in my opinion,) the evolution of The Wine O’ Clock Mum come full circle. I’m certain it’s always been there-my nan enjoyed a large brandy once her brood (of NINE! WTF nan, how did you even…?!) were in bed (the little ones,) or off down ‘Spin A Disc’ (the hangout of choice for the older ones.) My mum enjoyed a sherry (the only thing I judge there mum, is that sherry is VILE, but I’ll let you off, Prosecco wasn’t a thing then.) and I’m sure they sometimes (gasp,) had more than one, and I know from the stories they’ve told me, that they both had friends who knocked it back during ‘working hours’ too.

They didn’t have large whatsapp groups to post pictures of themselves at 7.01pm, holding a large glass, with thumb well and truly up. They didn’t have blogs to read, that told them that all the other mums were doing it too, so it was ok. They just did it, and probably poured another while dutifully getting dinner on the table, and sighing about what was in store for them the next day.

What the internet has done is:

1. Make it known that other mums found being a parent a bit hard.

2. Make it ok to want to reach for the wine at the end of the day.

3. Make it divisive-it’s ok apparently to openly call these parents out for being ‘slummy,’ and to put those who don’t choose the same end of day treat, into a different category.

4. Turn it into a cliché-the ‘war cry’ of the pissed off/tired/stressed/delete as appropriate mum. Enjoying wine as a parent, is apparently different to enjoying it when you aren’t.

I recently saw an advert looking for a parent to write a (click bait, troll inciting) article on why the end of day roll call of the parent shouldn’t be to reach for the wine-it wanted the writer to explore how life has come to this, and why it’s wrong. Why has it become such a cliché.

Well, I for one, love wine. I did before I had children-in a wine tasting holiday to the south of France kind of way. In a going to the pub after work kind of way. In the taking the edge off a stressful and shitty day at work kind of way. Nobody however, ever turned that into a cliché-it was just normal, and nobody ever gave it a second thought.

I have a grievance with these ordinary things, that you do all the time before you have children, being turned into something entirely different once they’re here. What’s the difference in a pre children instagram snap of me and my friends drinking after work, to one of me as a non working parent, drinking with my non working parent friends? It’s not always a ‘look what they’ve driven us too Lol!’ or ‘look, wine time before bedtime #badmum!’ It can be quite simply, ‘oooh, I’m going to sit down, now it’s quiet, and have a lovely glass of cold wine,’ like I used to after work. Like my parents still do now.

For me, I savour my husband flitting in from work and taking over bedtime, having the quickest shower, so that I can get into my pyjamas, and enjoy that lovely Gin and tonic-that is nothing to do with my children’s behaviour, or trying to be part of some post bedtime alcohol club-just simply because I like Gin.

I don’t do it to be cool, I don’t do it to try and put myself into some sort of parenting category. I don’t even do it every day-sometimes I have a herbal tea and go for a run instead. My appreciation of alcohol, and the fact that I’m a parent, are completely separate things. I am not the Wine’ O Clock cliché that the internet would have everyone believe, I’m just someone who appreciates good wine, who happens to be a parent.

Sales. Salesman on his phone.

Sales. Salesman on his phone

We’ve been having loads of work done to our house recently. It has required lots of people coming in to give us quotes, and a lot of sales pitches being thrown our way. Last week, this absolute gem of a sales pitch happened-I think it’s fair to say that it was a pure showcase of how to suck at sales! For no reason other than my own amusement, I’ve decided to present it to you in the form of a play script. Enjoy!

Synopsis: The main character, Lucy, has been invited out for the morning, with people she doesn’t see very often. She is excited. But her husband has arranged for someone to come and quote for something else to be done to the house. He was supposed to be there to deal with it, but as usual, has naffed off to do something ‘more important,’ (which of course isn’t to sit in his office drinking coffee and watching funny YouTube videos on his phone.) The husband has sent a polite text to the man coming to do the quote, to say that Lucy needs to be gone from the house by a certain time, but is more than sure that this will still give the man plenty of time to do the quote.

Characters:

Jason: Salesman of the year.

Lucy: Frazzled housewife, excited by her unexpected morning outing. A bit flaky.

Lucinda: The voice in Lucy’s head, saying what Lucy ought to be saying.

The husband: Only heard as a voice on the phone.

Extras: Two small boys, no real part other than making a massive mess in the front room.

Setting the scene: The doorbell rings. Lucy jumps up to answer it, pleased that she is dressed, made up, and ready this early. Not pleased that the house is a tip, despite her continued efforts to the contrary. Enter Jason through the front door.

Jason: Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Jason.

Lucy: Hi! Come in, sorry about the mess! (laughs nervously.) Ok, so we were hoping you could do this (gestures) but upstairs in one of the bedrooms, if that’s ok?

Jason: Alright, do you want to show me?

Both go upstairs. Lucy shows Jason what work she would like done. Jason gives her two options and demands that she make up her mind NOW.

Lucy: It’s hard to decide without my husband here, could you quote for both options please?

Jason: (Huffs and puffs in a dramatic manner. Rolls his eyes HARD, like they’re actually going to roll out of his head. Mutters incoherently.)

Lucy: Oh, I’m really sorry… Ok, don’t quote for both then, um, just the first option will be fine…

Lucinda: Don’t fucking apologise to him-why can’t he quote for both??????

Jason: (with pure venom in his voice) So, do you just want to get out then??? You know, leave me be, because apparently I’m encroaching on YOUR day, YEA????

Lucinda: The FUCK YOU SAY??????????

Lucy: Oh, yea, sure… (scuttles from the room.)

Lucinda: What the fuck is this guys problem?? He seemed fine when he came in, he went from nought to maniac in the space of two seconds.

Upstairs, Jason is on the phone, now loudly complaining about Lucy to whoever is on the other end. Lucy has no idea why. Lucy’s phone rings, it’s the husband seeing how the quote went, and not at all drinking coffee and watching YouTube.

Husband: So, what did he say?

Lucy: (Whispering) I don’t know, he’s still here, and he just ordered me out of my own fucking bedroom really rudely, like, he just turned, it was really weird. And now he’s slagging me off to someone on the phone, and I have no idea why…

Husband: (also whispering) Whaaaaat??? What a dick, I don’t understand???

Lucy: Why are you whispering too? He can’t hear you, he can only hear me.

Husband: Oh yea! I’m whispering because you are.

Lucy: I don’t want him to hear me, I think he’s a bit psycho??

Husband: Tell him to leave

Lucinda: Yea, tell him to fuck off, we definitely won’t be using his company after this, so why let him stay?

Lucy: I don’t want to interrupt him, he might hurt me with his tape measure…?

Husband: Ok, phone me when he’s gone.

Lucy waits nervously for Jason to come downstairs again. When he comes down, he seems pleasant again for a second.

Jason: Ok, I’ll write these up for you, where shall I go?

Lucy points him in the direction of the kitchen.

Lucy: Sooooo, will you email the quotes to us later…?

Jason: (Suddenly looks venomous again.) NOPE.

Lucinda: This guy is definitely a psycho, retreat, retreat.

Jason is in the kitchen for ages, despite agreeing with the husband via txt, that he’d write the quotes up and email them, so that Lucy can go out. Lucy waits for as long as possible, beginning to wonder if Jason is deliberately taking ages because he has been told she needs to be somewhere… In the end, after now being phenomenally late, she asks him politely to leave.

Lucy: Errrr, I’m so sorry…

Lucinda: STOP fucking apologising!!!!!!!!

Lucy: But, um, if you could email us the quotes later, I’d be really grateful. I actually need to be somewhere else now…

Jason: (Looks at Lucy like he’d like to shoot her in the head. Starts angrily throwing things into a bag. Huffs and puffs, and in a final dramatic flourish, wordlessly pushes past her, and STOMPS down the hallway-deliberately banging into things-and slams the door behind him. He slams it so hard the house shakes, and the extras are momentarily distracted from mess making and rendered terrified.)

Lucy’s anxiety is at fever pitch.

Lucinda: Why can’t I get the ‘choose life’ speech from Trainspotting out of my head? Except I’m replacing everything with ‘choose not to be a twat, Jason.’ ‘Choose a job you like, Jason, choose a career you like, Jason. Choose not to come into someone’s home and make them feel uncomfortable, Jason…’ Such a great monologue that. Although, I actually think the monologue from Trainspotting 2 was better, but it was a shitter film… I’m digressing. He totally sucked at his job by the way…

End of scene. Lucy is a mixture of anxious and bemused, still wondering how Jason intended to get the quotes to her, as he had stomped from the house without answering her question. She wonders whether he was actually a salesman at all, maybe he was just a random posing as one. In any case, he totally showcased How To Suck At Sales!

 

waiting to use the toilet with orlistat

Have you heard of Orlistat? If you haven’t, here’s a treat! If you have, poor you…

I haven’t updated my ‘Cysters Are Doing It For Themselves’ series for ages. This isn’t because I fell off the wagon, walking around with carbs and dairy dangling from every orifice, or chucked my gym shoes in the bin for being completely unhelpful in my bid for unfattydom (not a word, but I like it.) It’s partly down to laziness-I had big plans to type up recipes, and buoy up my fellow Cysters with tribal hollers of ‘we can fucking do this,’ whilst getting a hashtag trending, about empowering PCOS losers (in the weight loss capacity obvs,) to carry on the ‘fight’ and the ‘journey,’ and other empowerment buzzwords. But I lost impetus, and also went a bit batshit and needed a break from writing. It was also mainly because I had nothing much to add, as after the initial loss of 28lbs, there have been about three months where I’ve lost nothing.

Nada. Sweet FA. I’d tried moving the scales around the house, in the hope that one room would hold some voodoo power, and tell me I weighed less. I’d imagine weightlessness (jeez, the desperation,) when weighing myself, and try and lift all my bodyweight towards the ceiling. I even announced them to be ‘fucking faulty,’ and got myself weighed properly, only to have a tantrum of frustration to be told they were, in fact, correct.

So off I trot to the GP, to see if there is any straw clutching thing that can be done. And she prescribed Orlistat. If you don’t know what this is, it basically takes 1/3 of the fat you eat, liquefies it into fluorescent orange oil, and you crap it from your body. I know.

I sat there as she prescribed it, half devastated that this was the only option left to me (because my diet isn’t that fatty right?? I don’t need them, they’re pointless, right??) and half smug that I wouldn’t be shitting the contents of a room full of 80’s disco goers clothes, because my diet is so fucking good.

I tried to be optimistic. At best, the tablets would take whatever fat got through my diet barrier, and would help, at worst, I might get a slightly grumbly stomach (which happens if you aren’t eating enough fat, apparently.) It turns out that Orlistat doesn’t like salmon. It doesn’t like avocado. It doesn’t seem to like you cooking anything with olive oil. It waits like the omnipresent predator that is, and liquefies the tiniest bit of fat that happens upon its evil clutches, and evacuates if from your body before you can scream ‘SHART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’

Every single meal became a silent prayer for my sphincter muscles to brace. I needed to stick a military training officer up there to scream at it to toughen the hell up. If I needed to go, I had to GO GO GO. And getting there in time was the easy part-imagine your entire south region then being covered with an oily lava, that just won’t for the love of GOD, come off. ‘Why are you in the shower again mummy??’ became the biggest FAQ of every day.

I’m actually happy with my diet as it is, and I feel pretty unwilling to cut out anything more (haven’t I already lost enough-cheese, I really fucking miss you. Never has anyone understood me more.)  If I cut out the remaining good fats from my diet, I’ll basically be living on nuts, raw vegetables, and despair. Imagine if I ate a McDonalds with these bastards??? I’d illuminate the whole of Bristol with fluorescent lava, in one tiny bum pump.

Enough, I’m not taking them (although interestingly, after the first five days, the scales did finally shift in the right direction by 3lbs.) But I already have to wear a pad for body combat, because of the likelihood I’ll roundhouse, punch, and piss myself. Double incontinence at 34 is not on my bucket list, I don’t have time for this (literal) shit. If I continue like this, you might as well check me into a care home, write my care plans for my double incontinence, and call me Mildred. Orlistat, it’s been a blast (from my ass at least,) but I don’t wish to form any long lasting partnership here. Off you trot back to Satan’s asshole, or wherever it was you came from.