Saturday, 9 May 2015

Internal Debate

So here's the thing - do I move home?

As in, do we pack up lock stock and barrel and move to Northern Ireland - where we can have a sea view, be near family, neck some dark and stormies over good craic and have a 5 bedroomed house with huge garden for the price of our Victorian terrace here?

For so long I always said, 'Nah, we can't go - work keeps me in London' -when I presented, when I script edited. But I've long ago let my ambitions fly out of the window - I don't want things with a burning desire any more - I want the easy path. I don't want to fight and compete and network and all that bullshit. I just want to see a movie or two, hang out with friends, afford some dinners out.

Husband and I used to be all about the fine dining, the Michelin stars, the latest hip place. Now I think it's all such a load of wank. Husband, he who spent years in the food and drinks industry - hates the pomp and posture of half the new restaurants - he thinks they are all just carbon copies of all that has been before. I'm never gonna spunk £400 on a meal for 2 again - when I could put that towards something brilliant for my kids. Life is all about family now - not about being able to brag about getting into some 'exclusive' bar or restaurant, only to feel on edge the whole night, not sure if what you are wearing is right.

I'm over anything pretentious and anything shallow. I just want home comforts and sincere friends. Going home feels easy. There is nothing on earth like a stroll by the sea. The food in Belfast is hearty, healthy fare, the locals chatty, the atmosphere warm. I feel slightly out of place, having lived away from the Isle for so long - 24 years. But lately I have felt the pull, the lure of place.

I have family there - all my family pretty much. I've some good mates - not many - count 'em on one hand - but they are the kind I'd drop everything for. Instead of weekends like this one - where, save for maybe a saturday night dinner with mates - I am alone. There are no 'pop-ins' here. Sure we have friends - but only a handful I see regularly. Writing from home has made me more insular than ever, and I'm not ashamed to admit it has made me lonely at times. I have maybe 3 women (in my small town) who ask me for a coffee out of everyone here I know - and whilst my daughter's class is filled with fab Mums, I don't know any of them in a close way.

I kind of feel like a fish out of water here. I like company, I like chat, I like being surrounded by people and warmth. Here it feels it has to be planned, it has to be carved out in stone weeks before as everyone is so busy busy busy. I find some folk odd - they are friendly one day, cool the next. I miss the Irish way of chatting to everyone - even a lamppost in the hope that it will talk back to you.

We write lists, Husband and I, about what to do. Where to go. Houses in my neck of the woods cost ££££ - I don't have a spare £1.2 million for the next size up of my house. I love my little town: the canal, the sweeping fields where my son plays cricket, the cobbled streets and quirky houses. But I'm also slightly bored of it. I love London being a mere 40 mins away - but I don't visit it very often. Nothing on earth beats Soho in the summer - the sweaty heady potential of the gridded streets, filled with those spilling out of bars. But Fealty's with it's turf underfoot during race week, the Empire with it's gallery, the Merchant hotel with it's architecture - can all give it a run for it's money.

I'm not really sure about lots of things at the mo. I've changed, I know that. I used to care about being at the right places, star bothering, glam nights - all in the 90s and early 2000s. Then I married, then I had kids. My life is a world away from those days. So now it's time to think about the great school my kids could go to (my old alma mater), the big house we could buy, the family support we could have. Yes, it will rain. Daily. Yes I will often wonder why I moved somewhere that I was once  desperate to escape from. But my heart is telling me one thing, my head another. I see how happy my son is at his school - yet I also know that in 2 years he will leave it.

Maybe we will all be leaving here, who knows?


Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Letting go.

Today my heart feels a little heavy, my step a little weary, my head a bit bleurgh.

All because I sent my 8 3/4 year old off to an evacuee centre, with his little number round his neck and a black cap on his head. He'll be staying there for 2 nights, learning all about what evacuated kids went through during world war 2. He was beyond excited: patiently listening as I packed and re-packed his case, with a tick list ready for him to adhere to when he packs to return; studying his costume in the mirror and fixing his cap at a jaunty angle. Me - not so much. I mean of course I'm delighted that he's heading off on a school trip with all his buddies, and how much he'll learn and grow from the experience - it is just - he has never left me before. EVER. I keep walking past his room and it all feels so quiet. Sproglette is in mourning - but has managed to quell her tears with haribo. What a trooper.

All of a sudden - on the cusp of 9 - he is growing away from me: he now walks to school with his friends, he changes on his own at swimming and no longer shares baths with his sister - preferring to shower alone. It's as it should be - and yet, I feel so redundant at times. Like, I've waited for this moment (to not have to suffer stinky swimming pool changing rooms for example) and yet now that it is here - I am a bit bereft. Bizarre isn't it? Tis so true that they grow up so friction' quickly. I can understand completely why folk squeeze in baby no 3 (NOT that I have any plans in that direction).

We trundled into the school hall and found out which group he was in. We wandered over to... a group of about 10 girls. His face fell. All around the room his buddies stood in other groups. Luckily he had one chum in his group - which seemed ok, until this kid was sent to another one! Sproglet's face fell and I asked the teacher if he had any more boys in my son's group. He read the list and Sproglet looked so gutted - none were his friends. Now he has many buddies - yesterday he wrote a list of 14 he plans to invite to his party - but not one was on the list. His face told the story. I asked if he disappointed and he replied quietly, 'very.' He stood silently and stared ahead. I sighed, my own stomach in knots - not wishing to leave him with his little face so downbeat.  It reminded me of the years at school in sort when I was picked last for the team, or left out of a girlie secret - it is just DEVASTATING. Suddenly the teacher said, "Sproglet why don't you join Mrs XYZ's group over there," and pointed towards a group of boys in the corner. Sproglet BEAMED and ran towards 6 of his friends. I thanked the teacher (I could have hugged him right there and then like a complete weirdo) - I was just so so glad that he had clocked the situation. The next minute Sproglet was in group photos and laughing away, so kissing him goodbye was easy.

For him.

I dashed away from the school, tears in my eyes and a massive lump in my throat. I miss hearing his voice, hearing Sproglette's laughter as he messes about sending her into fits of giggles. He'll be back on Friday, exhausted, with a (no doubt) half packed case filled with dirty clothes. He'll have stories galore and will ask once again to watch Dad's army. But that night, when I get my hug, I'll be squeezing more tightly than usual. While I still can...


Thursday, 2 April 2015

The end of CMWD?

I started this blog many moons ago, mainly because I felt so disenchanted with Motherhood; with the idea I had been sold about what the whole experience would be. I felt lonely, isolated, trapped and insecure and by writing about it, I hoped somehow to connect with others in a similar predicament.

Over the years I've struggled with how to combine motherhood and work; I had never in my wildest dreams imagined how hard a task this would be. My original career as a presenter just wasn't working with a baby's routine and I was somewhat lost about what to do next... As someone who had been incredibly ambitious all her life, to suddenly not be so, left me all at sea.

My marriage suffered many low points with my Husband's demanding job: for 5 plus years I felt like a single parent, without the kudos and occasional free weekend...  I lost my job due to company policy to not let a script editor stay on after 2 years and got pregnant the same week I left. I tried to find solutions to my never ending work/motherhood problem but the solutions didn't pay very well - and most of my income was taken by childcare costs.

I bemoaned the difficulties of Motherhood, not least the loss of self. It felt like a job I had no apparent skills to do - the needs of children forever shifting, my abilities never quite enough. This blog became my place of respite, where I could vent un-judged. Where I could be honest and still find support. Most of all, it was somewhere I could go to write - something I loved to do.

At the weekend I realised I've kind of come full circle. I am now in love with Motherhood in a way I perhaps never was. My kids are at gorgeous ages: almost 9 and 4. Leaving my job last year to be around for them more, was one of the best things I have ever done. In having more time for them, I became less stressed - and all of a sudden things became so much easier. Sure, I have been broke most of this year - as I plough on towards new horizons, but I am much much happier. On Sunday the gales blew, and we ordered Thai food. Sitting around the table we played the post-it game where we all tried to guess the name on our foreheads. I felt content. Grateful for all I have. It has taken me a long time to get here.

I don't have buckets of angst any more. I'm not bitter about earning so little but working so hard. I'm no longer enraged that I never had maternity pay, that my career in TV proved so difficult and relentless. I don't feel other Mothers are better than me, or have some insider secrets. I'm no longer lonely. I've reached a point where I'm beyond proud of my kids - not through my parenting - but just the little people that they are. The way they view the world. The joy they see in it.

Husband, thanks to his best friend - has a whole new way of living and is an equal parent in every way. He has been more supportive to me in the past year than I could have asked of anyone. He believes in me, even when I don't believe in myself.

Finally, I think, I'm at a point where all my questions of old: 'how do I combine work and motherhood successfully?' have been answered. I'm not there just yet, but almost.

I feel I don't want to share my life any more. It isn't interesting to anyone but me. It is school runs, and football matches, plaiting hair and washing swim kits. It is parent evenings and movie dates. It is dinner with friends and Husband cooking up a storm for neighbours (beef wellington no less). It is red wine and Bloodline. It is sun on my face as I run along our pretty canal and wind in my hair at the side of a football pitch. It is deeply mundane. It is perfect. I've learnt that no-one is the perfect mother - that no marriage is forever secure. That everyone worries about money and career and making ends meet. That we all fear failure, that we all have moments of doubt. I just shared mine with everyone on here, that was all.

It's time for me to take a break from here. Not that I won't be back. I just don't know when. Writing as my job now has meant less need to jot it all down here. Maybe I'll buy a diary instead. But I do want to thank all those over the years who have told me how much they love my blog: that it made them laugh, or cry, or both. For the lovely writers who have told me 'You can write' - a huge compliment from such talented folk. I have felt so much love and kindness when people bothered to comment in my moments of dark despair. I honestly think this blog is the reason my marriage is still together and my head is vaguely sane.

I will always be the crummy mummy who drinks. I just don't feel so crummy any more.

Love always,

CM xxx

Saturday, 14 March 2015

How little we need

Today I had had enough. I couldn't open my daughter's wardrobe due the two enormous overflowing toy filled bags that were in front of it. I sighed. Time for the spring clean. 4 hours later, we can open said door AND my son can now see his wardrobe floor. Sproglette and I have tussled over every toy and managed to fill 2 bags to go to charidee and 2 for the bin. I have yet to tackle my son's toys - that will maybe be the summer clean.

Plus today I read of Daisy Goodwin's house burning down and how she literally had nothing bar the clothes she stood up in, and whatever she had in her handbag. I felt an odd emotion creeping over me - one of almost... envy. Now that is frankly bizarre I know. But apart from my old diaries, some old photos and the baby gros I brought my kids home in, my mothers day cards and er... a toy hippo I have had since I was 7, I don't have much sentimentality. I HATE clutter. I have few clothes, one make up bag, a drawer of products and no fancy jewellery save for my engagement ring.

It made me realise how little I value material possessions. Sure I love a good moisturiser and a lovely White Company throw, but ultimately I don't really give a flying fuck about having swanky stuff and endless ornaments and tat. I read about a guy who had just one of everything in his house: one plate one cup, one pair of jeans, one chair, etc and it sounded insane - and blissful. Goodwin commented that wearing the same clothes for 3 weeks had made life simpler - a uniform of sorts. Obviously it is hideous having to be uprooted and all the horror of dealing with insurance companies and memories of things once loved now gone - but oddly it has made her happier, and I understand why.

We clutter our lives with objects and gadgets and trinkets that we think will make us happy. For a brief spell they do. The delight when getting a new pair of shoes is a good few weeks of joy. But ultimately it is just 'stuff' that gathers on shelves and in wardrobes and often we forget we even have it.

I am regular de-junker. Sometimes I think, in not regularly buying our kids toys - unless it is special treat - have we denied them? I have walked into homes where the kids have more toys than you could shake a stick at. But my kids never want for anything - and I'm more about 'lets go to the park/eat ice cream, go swimming,' than 'lets play with a lot of plastic.' Once they have outgrown a toy I am unsentimental (bar Woody and Buzz who I love madly) about lobbing them into the charity box.

There are drawers in my house that are filled with sellotape and odd stuff from Xmas crackers and batteries and playing cards. I often de-junk these but somehow the junk creeps back. For some reason, I hate stuff, I love clean lines, empty spaces and very little on display. I feel secure when everything is tidy and in it's place. To say I have OCD wouldn't be a lie.

Husband has even less possessions. He barely buys clothes and has never really cared about having anything apart from SKY tv and an iPad. He often says that all he needs to be happy are us and a good bottle of wine, a movie trip occasionally and maybe a book or two.

It is funny the older I get, the less I need, the less I want. The fancy shoes of my 20s lie at the back of my wardrobe gathering dust - holding too many memories to throw out, but yet I will never wear them again. They are from a different life: one that involved heels and lipgloss and 7 outfits to present all the week's continuity in. But my life now is a school run; hunched over a Mac feverishly typing. If I go out for drinks, I'm as likely to be in trainers/converse to comfortably run for the last train home. Slinky dresses and pencil skirts with towering heels are just not in my world.

Is clearing them out confirming what I know - that life has moved on and will never be that again? Do I hold onto the one pair of Manolos, the beautiful Westwood skirt, because although I know they won't be worn again, I'm somehow still unable to give that girl up?

Anyway, nothing has made me happier this weekend in my de-cluttering. (Apart from my daughter telling me she loved me more than all the dolphins and fish in the world - and er... werewolves and dogs). Plus I'm off to see It Follows - a horror movie date with husband is one of my favourite things - and yes, you've guessed it - I won't be wearing heels.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Lunar Tempo

I can hardly walk, bend down or climb stairs. I am THRILLED.

I am back at the gym. Back in the hands of sweet Paul with the nice eyes who makes me hurt from every possible muscle. I think I love him. That, combined with body combat and the fact the sun is shining and my endless period has ended - has made me, to quote Pharrell - Happy.

Thank god for sunshine and for throwing one's body around in bizarre contorted shapes, because it will be the salvation of me. I have managed through alcohol, cake and a lot of bread,  oh and crisps - goddamn them - to put on 8 pounds since the start of December. Now, off they must come.

Exercise not only helps my heart and my stomach, it also helps my mind. Which is why I invested in a brand spanking new pair of trainers that will arrive later today. I think I may love them as much as my children. Stepping into them, I will feel like a new person. One who will enjoy running. One who likes a lunge. Not at a man I may add. They shout 'she exercises' and look like the kind of thing athletes or those who know how to lift a kettle bell wear. Nike lunar tempo. Almost poetic eh? In them I will become a new woman. One who likes blisters and has firm thighs.

When I get them I know it will look like a elephant putting on some ballet slippers. It is that much of a paradox. But over time, we will become one, this shoe and I. I will eventually earn the right to wear them.

For Mothers day I am asking for stretchy legging things instead of a cake and flowers. Most of all I need new headphones. (Although I did read a disturbing article today that runners with headphones are more likely to be attacked).

I have 5 weeks to lose ten pounds and become ready for summer - so that when I discard those jumpers there will be a normal human being underneath. A firmer one than there is now for sure. Day 2 of no sugar and bread and rice and pasta and spuds and all the joyous white food that exists. I'm going pretty good - even though Husband dramatically opposes every SINGLE thing my trainer has said about diet. Trainer thinks I should just be a panda (look at the size of those fuckers) and eat plants and not much else. Husband thinks that is wrong and you need meat as your protein source to build muscle. He mocks trainer - and whilst I am desperately wishing he is jealous of me giving my attentions to another man 2 hours a week, it isn't the case.

So trainer Paul says eat lentils and sweet potatoes and no meats - fish is ok - and lots of veg. Husband says fuck that - eat LOTS of meat and veg and cheese and good fats all cooked in coconut oil. I am confused, but at least not reaching for the biscuit tin. Life was simpler though when a bad day could be cured by cake and fine red wine. *Sigh*

I know that this 5 week torture will end, and I cannot go back to my cake guzzling past. I must venture into new pastures. So thank gawd I have my new trainers to take me there....


Monday, 2 March 2015

Wild

The days where the blackness descends, when my head is foggy and my heart heavy, when I don't want company or even comfort, the only thing that lifts me from my funk is hiding away in a darkened cinema.

I've been struggling a bit of late; my operation has left me with an eternal period and there is nothing quite as draining as an endless bleed. TMI? Like I care. I've felt despondent about everything - my appearance, my work, my general connection with the world. It all feels like a lot of effort, too much in fact, and I feel like I have nothing to give or contribute of any relevance.

The winter blues have grabbed me and have me in their frosty clutches. Perhaps when spring has sprung and the sun begins to shine, I too will emerge from my hibernation.

I feel like I've begun to look at things with a new perspective: really notice everything much more acutely. For example, since when did people stop listening? I mean really listening? Are meet ups with people simply to serve the purpose of letting someone hold court - pontificating on all their favourite topics: themselves and their favourite films, restaurants, their work, their exhaustingly RIGHT opinions, until you wonder why you are sitting there? Maybe just to be lectured at. If you vanished would they notice or even care? Since when did people think that their opinion was the only one that mattered and lose all graciousness when it comes to being interested in others?

God, I know I can talk for Britain, and heck, I love a movie debate more than anyone - but I hope with all my heart that I also ask questions; that I also am interested in others, curious even, in their lives, their hopes, their worries. That I am not just fixated on myself and showing off whatever knowledge I have acquired from someone else's writing and merely regurgitate it in some insecure way in the hope of impressing folk...

Lately I've begin to sit back and observe more. It is unlike me and yet it is a lesson I should have learnt a long time ago: you learn so much more from listening rather than talking. I see the incredible social awkwardness that exists in almost every sphere of human interaction. No wonder parties are awash with alcohol - what we would say to the person at a leaving do that we haven't seen in a year, if we haven't had 3 gins?

Anyway, yesterday I went to see the movie Wild, with Reese Witherspoon. It was breath taking. Incredibly moving and exceptionally well written. A journey of 1000 miles through desert and snow does not riveting viewing make - so kudos to Nick Hornby and the director Jean-Marc Vallee for creating such a captivating film. Witherspoon has never been better as the broken girl, walking herself back to the 'woman my Mother thought I was.' My friend Ayesha had read the book and long ago recommended it to me - I now wish I had read it. Without giving away any spoilers, Sheryl mentions her mother saying that every day there is a sunrise and a sunset and you can ignore it, or choose to see the beauty in it.

I'm trying to see the beauty. I know, shortly, I will.


Saturday, 28 February 2015

Things I am digging - Fashion me Now etc.

February is meant to be mercifully short but boy has it d-r-a-g-g-e-d. I am more excited about March and spring than all the lambs in Christendom.

For one, I will be getting my arse to the gym, where a guy called Paul who looks as sweet as pie but who takes no prisoners, will be whipping me into shape. God it is gonna kill. I'm mentally psyching myself for the journey ahead - 6 weeks of abstinence and lunges - by eating as much cheesecake as I can get down my gullet. I am ready. By the time I turn 42 (WTF!!!) I will be a different person. Or at least will have discovered my biceps.

So what has been floating my boat as winter has worn on? What has got me through this dark miserable days when that shite Emperor's new clothes film Birdman stole Linklater's Oscar triumph from under his nose?

No. 1 House of Cards (season 3) is back. Yesterday it hit Netflix and tonight Husband and I will hunker down and try and limit ourselves to 'just the 3 eps.' But as 1am hits and we fight over who will get up the kids it may go on...and on... and on....

No. 2 I've found this great website for all things stylish. Called Fashion Me Now, it is the blog of stylist and writer Lucy Williams. She looks like a model, writes like a journo and has impeccable taste. Her boyf is a photographer and his shots are simply sublime. You just have to remind yourself that just because clothes look good on tall slim gorgeous bronzed Luce, doesn't mean they are gonna look the same on you. Her life looks enviable, but not so much that she comes over all Paltrow. You can relate to her, appreciate her fashion know how and ooh and ahhhh over her pix. You can thank me later.

No. 3 Nespresso delivered. HOO-RAH. Waking up to coffee is a JOY. But why on earth do they not bring back the Hazelnut flavour goddammit!!!

No. 4 Divine chocolate. OMG. The milk chocolate with toffee and sea salt is SEX IN A BAR. Plus Divine is the only Fairtrade chocolate company which is 45% owned by Cocoa farmers. Fairtrade ensures that farmers receive a better deal for the cocoa and additional income to invest in their community - plus company ownership gives farmers a share of Divine's profits. Sold in Oxfam and Waitrose, you can buy knowing you are being ethical aware and getting the best choc around. A double win.

No. 5 Busaba Eathai, my favourite restaurant on earth for week night eats, has started a kid's menu. So all the yummy food that I have been scoffing since 2000 is now available in smaller portions for your rugrats to munch on. My kids loved it - the guava collins drink went down a storm along with the lemongrass chicken. It is without a doubt the thing I most miss about living in London. Plus, we had an epic game of thumb wars. Ace.