Monthly Archives: May 2017

Life’s Little Ironies

Life is something uncontrollable. It can be something that smacks us in the face and question the point to this mortal coil. It can also be a massive blast. Big belly laugh moments and punctuated by glimmers of pure joy. This inconsistent rollercoaster is something none of us find easy (don’t listen to anyone who tells you any different – they’re liars). It’s twists and turns can tie us up in knots and make us scream in equal measures of both joy and sadness. However, there’s one thing that keeps us on our toes and that’s how ironic it can be.

Irony:
a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often wryly amusing as a result.
plural noun: ironies
“the irony is that I thought he could help me”

Now, although irony can be highly amusing – I particularly find it ironic I ended up teaching when I hated school…I also find my life is built on ironies. Which, with this realisation, I have turned a once ‘uptight and manic’ woman into a more ‘laid back and passive’ one. Yes, I’m still a worrier (mainly about ‘The Fear’) but I no longer overthink every scenario within an inch of its life. That’s why, when people judge me for my crappy parenting and life choices I just grin and carry on.

You see, I thought I’d got it all planned out. Felt (smugly) I could write a handbook. The joke was on me though, turns out I’ve not got the foggiest and after many tears and soul searching, I realised that I didn’t actually need the answers. Life’s little ironies are a way of telling us to take a leap of faith.

So, when people thought I was mad ‘what you doing your 18 year old daughter to go abroad on her own to work?’ There were shouts of ‘what about the terrorists?’. You see everyone has an opinion and as a mother, I totally get the inclination to wrap all my children in bubble wrap, dress them alike and keep them in pigtails until the age of thirty. But that was before…

About ten years ago I was a fanatical mother who organised everything around her children. Every aspect of their lives was planned for happiness and success. I spent hours planning, shopping (it requires a great deal of shopping to coordinate) and enjoying my beautiful three. We made beautiful picture book memories with days out, holidays and family nights in. But then, they started to grow.

With growth comes independent thinking. As a strong willed person myself, I encourage this and (rightly or wrongly) they begin to make their own decisions. This is where being a mummy becomes sticky; how do you let them make their own choices, without saying the wrong thing and pushing them away? Thing is, when you see one of them hurtling towards a disaster, you instinctively want to grab hold and save them. What happens though is they don’t always want saving. They just want to grow into their own person. So another rule of motherhood is to be clever and be a forward thinker.

Therefore, I knew what I was doing. Working for a reputable company, provided with food and accommodation and the opportunity to experience life. We were all so happy and proud. The distant voices from concerned people who said ‘I can’t believe you let her travel to Turkey on a boat!’ My reply being ‘what on a boat she sells trips on?’ Seriously!

So what is the irony? The irony is that being abroad is the safesr and wisest choice she could have made. Two reasons:
1. She would have been at Manchester at that gig on Monday night.
2. We’d never have discovered she was ill and needed medical care.

It’s as simple as this:
One, without her new job she’d have gone to that gig (already said yes) as her oldest friends plus one.
Two, it took the penniless Greek healthcare system, a tiny island specialist, to X-ray and diagnose a broken collar bone and twisted spine. Damage which occurred during a car accident twelve months ago. Damage which was missed by our own NHS.

Scary isn’t it? Pathways, fate, what could have been…

The irony isn’t lost on me. That leap of faith I take to get me through the twists and turns of life seems to be working. Scary as it is, it’s working! I just keep going and my mantra ‘keep the faith’ is keeping me strong. Because trying to control the uncontrollable is simply too exhausting!  Therefore my handbook has been reduced to the the size of a simple sentence ‘what will be…’

And Today Will be Mostly…

Weather or not you agree, the daily forecast is the single most thing which is central to our emotional wellbeing. Rain can upset the balance of a mere opening of the curtains, snow can bring the whole country to a standstill and delight many a child and teacher with the words ‘snow day’, and a slight gust of wind can be monikered as ‘storm Dorris or Dave’.

Weather, it appears, has increasingly become more and more newsworthy. Hyped up like the ‘big game’ and discussed like a celebrity wedding or royal birth. Who doesn’t sit glued to the news crews stand knees deep in flood waters and thank god it’s not us? Our morbid curiosity compelling us to watch how far up the lamppost the waters have risen. How many times have you turned on NBC to hurricane watch? I remember spending hours following Hurricane Sandy. My night’s entertainment was watching buildings precariously wobble and glamorous reporters battling wind and rain to report the size of the waves on the ocean front. Disgusting isn’t it? Why would that be entertaining?

But that’s the thing, I’m a realist. I can’t stand anything fake and fanciful. I don’t see the appeal of vampires (no can’t stand Rpatz) and I can’t bear The Doctor (sorry I do realise I’ve alienated many of you). It’s just not real and I love the real. People watching, observing life and relationship building are what float my boat. My book (slow process and I’ll get there) is very much of that ilk. Deeply deconstructed relationship and a melting pot of personalities intertwine a narrative spanning a hundred years. And guess what? The weather always takes centre stage. ‘Pathetic fallacy’ as we call it in the trade. Sets the mood. So what’s my mood?

So, the rain. As we all know we can see summer on the tips of toes. Little snatches; teasers of summer promise have been tantalising us for weeks. However, since working on my garden (not finished but getting there) the days have been mostly dark and full of rain. Not only that but we had a spell of frost that threatened my new plants! It’s like the weather gods were pointing and laughing at my naivety!!

God Aeolus ‘Oi, you! Have you seen that daft mare?
God Zeus ‘She does realise we are going to ruin all her handiwork as much as her daft Rosie Dog has?’

Upshot is my new outside space is very underused and rather battered!

Also, it plays tricks on you. Yesterday I was lulled into a false sense of security. Whilst walking with beautiful friend, child and god children on the beach, I announced ‘let’s have a BBQ as it’s so lovely’ (sun was shining and I had no coat on). We all agreed it was a fabulous idea as we sat eating our ice creams. Cut to me happily walking back from the butchers, swinging my bag of meat and being all smug about shopping local and cutting out the supermarket fat cat. Yes, that’s right, not only was the sun shining, I’d also got the whole saving the local retailer thing nailed too (my veg was being delivered shortly). You know where this is going don’t you? The word ‘smug’ gives it away. I looked up and a large black cloud was looming on the horizon (yes but literally and metaphorically). Two words: indoor BBQ.

Therefore, imagine my surprise and delight when waking from my wonderful Saturday/Sunday slumber (best night for sleeping ever) that not only was the sun shining, it was so super strong it had dried up the garden and lifted the whole mood of the house immensely. All areas of work (home and school) were sacked off in favour of eating all fresco, sunbathing and (when eventually peeled myself off the lounger) a leisurely walk along the beach. We even (much to child hysteria) shelved Sunday dinner plans and stuck a little Greek dish in the oven instead. In fact, the whole day turned into a Greek adventure: homemade tzatziki for lunch, lamb cleftiko for dinner and homemade frappes to cool off. Even the sea looked a little Aegean if you squinted. And tonight the house is still full of sunny vibes and sated bodies. We are even saying ‘if it’s nice like this at half term…’. Yeah, right! Guaranteed if it had been rubbish weather we’d have been moaning all day and saying ‘if it’s been nice we could have jet washed…’ ha! No, we did nothing! In your face jobs list!

This much needed glorious and relaxing day has lifted us all amazingly! Not only that, it’s made up for the relentless rain of Wednesday (which my mum decreed could be ignored if I put my music on). It’s also given us hope for the coming weeks…Cue the hay fever reports, severe weather warnings of it being ‘too hot’ (no such thing says she who gets the monk on when it’s anything less than 40 degrees when on my jollies) and hose pipe bans as we’ve not had enough water (hang on a minute, we were flooding back in January). It’s all we will talk about tomorrow ‘oh what a lovely day it was’ and ‘had anyone read the reports for next week?’ We are obsessed! Moreover I’ve checked: hallelujah Helios! It’s going to be quite a week. So slap on your cream, enjoy that garden chair you never get chance to use and dig out your shorts and flip flops, for once the weather gods are smiling down on is.

Enjoy you lovely lot.

A note: please do not point any blame at me if my forecast is wrong. My information comes directly from my iPhone app and I’m not trained by the Met Office (Although I quite fancy the weather girl job in another life).

Missing Pieces

How did that happen? Blink and you’d think they’d been no weekend. It doesn’t help that the levels of exhaustion reached a record high last week. Culminating in a rambling wreck come 6.30pm Friday (no, not even touched a drop). Power nap was decreed but awoken by a Rosie Dog. So watched Masterchef and had a sausage sandwich. Then was sick (due to lethargy) and I retired to bed before the clock struck 10!! Friday night? How very dare my body collapse on me on my favourite night. Then ten hours (that is a world record for me!) later I was up and ready to…work!!

You see, it was raining and I had stuff to do. I then finished that and started the house work. Now, this is no moany rant, just a prelude to what I really need to say, which is: I feel the need to reclaim my life. What I mean by that is, I’ve got to stop putting the unimportant stuff (jobs, work, cleaning…) first and instead focus on the important stuff – mainly people.

Ironically, this reflective and somewhat ‘long time coming’ mood was brought on after a particularly long Wednesday work day. A day where at 5.30pm I was still in a meeting discussing ‘work/life balance’. Ha! I thought, I’ve got this nailed. I’m so organised and I’m still breathing. My children are well cared for and I even have time to walk the Rosienator and do my fitness stuff. However, this is bum fluff and I’ll tell you why! I’ve lost my way and in the process have missed some really important things. I’ve mislaid friendships and let my core belief system slip. I’ve been selfish and blinkered myself so I don’t burn out. So things got to change…

You see, I’ve had a couple of wake up calls. Firstly, a friend I lost touch with nine years ago has died after a long and tragic battle with cancer. The bastard disease has ripped a beautiful 35 year old woman from her new husband and their 5 children. Did I know she was ill? No. I lost touch and in this hectic life I think we are all guilty of letting stuff slip. This truly beautiful soul was there for us when Him was ill. Reading her plight I also discovered they’d been fundraising for her last wishes to be granted and she’d been living in a hospice. My goodness, what I’d do to turn back time and be able to do something, anything and to say goodbye.

With shock and grief comes thinking time. We are only in May and I have had so many people around me struggling with terrible things. I know how it feels to be shrouded in loss and when I reflect on my darkest hours, I know the isolation, anger and numbness which follows. That black cloud which hovers overhead and won’t just monkey off. This is where I got my second reminder…

Whilst unpacking boxes (yes still after five months) I found some wonderful things that need to be on display: pictures, vases and, for want of a better word ‘ornaments’ (makes me think of dusty mini statuettes of girls with posies, cast in white porcelain with ‘made in China’ stamped on its bottom). Anyway, in amongst these sentimental artefacts, I found various things a friend has bought me over the years. Things, which not bought as occasion gifts, but gifts bought as affectionate ‘thank yous’ and ‘to cheer me up’. This friend had been there for me (and me for her) for thousands of years. A trusted and valued member of my community and a firm friend of epic proportions. Nothing, I say, nothing, would ever stop me loving her. Guess what? We drifted apart. And I got to thinking; how could I let someone so special to me slip away? Racked with guilt and embarrassment of my stupidity I mused over my shortfall in the friendship department yet again, Guess what I did next? I swallowed my pride, bit the bullet and text her! Boy am I glad that I did. Lovely (and equally heartfelt/apologetic response) and we are heading to be back on track.

With both realisations in mind, I made a resolution:

‘To remember what comes first: family, friends, life then. work.’

Buoyed by this I sacked work off, met my mum, stopped (although busy) in the supermarket to chat to people I know, met my friends in the pub and today sent my oldest friend a, longer than usual, Facebook message. And this is just a small selection! All these little things and made me feel good and reminded me that I must try harder.

NB. I also intended to text one friend about her daughter playing as she was upset (but too late even I remembered), another about her son (I’ll do so in a bit) and still have two condolence cards to write and a parcel for the big one in Greece to seal.

I’ve known for a while that I’ve had missing pieces (no, not the screw!) but through my own hardships I’ve had to lockdown and protect myself. Life wasn’t easy for us for a while and I was often floundering for a hand to hold. Do you know what? I had no idea how to ask. No one could give me what I needed, therefore I just stopped trying. I was lost for a time and no doubt will be again. So, to make my life better and stronger I’m going to put back all those missing pieces with a smile. Life’s too short to put these things off. I want to spend it with all you beautiful people who I love. Sod my tiredness, let’s feel the happiness and love around us.

Grab someone’s hand and run with it!

 

This week’s blog is dedicated to Leah

https://www.derrynow.com/news/terminally-ill-bride-gets-wedding-dreams-derry-sweetheart/149305

 

 

 

Ramblings From the Battlefield

Well, battling more like! Bit of.a moan (sorry) about the constant treadmill that we trundle along…what for? Yes, I’m rambling (clue in title) but ‘cuze me’ for being stroppy but seeing as it seems to be a prerequisite in my immediate household, then I think I’m allowed!

It all started with the migraine last week. Head crashing, body in exhaustion, a general virus of narcolepsy (yes I know it’s a condition but please see opening paragraph) ensued (I kid you not I was nodding standing up). Anyway, headache persisted and, as any of you hard working mummies will understand, with it came a household which came to a standstill. The ruins of the Acropolis had nothing on me when casting an eye over the house. Too tired to do ‘owt’, mop stagnating, bins overflowing and a laundry basket mushrooming to the point of creating a Tsunami of jumble out into adjoining rooms.

I did what I could and knew that ‘work’ had to take priority (pile of marking and lessons to plan) otherwise I would have a whole host of children twiddling their thumbs and starting a mutiny in my ‘tidy’ classroom (bless them they’d tided up whilst I was sick). So, for self preservation and sanity I neglected the children, Him, the house and my doggy (let alone the previous promises of improving image) to concentrate on what I get paid to do.

However, now we are in nuclear fallout zone and I’m in danger of migraine/narcolepsy relapse. Why you ask? (That would be those of you who have well ordered and uncomplicated lives which don’t involve husbands, children and furry friends). Yes, I’m now battling the decay creeping in from ‘taking ones eye off the ball’ for the past couple of weeks.

You see, I’ve been having dreams. Heavy, fitful and epic adventures, which, were like watching a mini series (I prefer the eighties term to the now socially acceptable ‘box set’ which connotes something you’d buy from Victoria’s Secret) back to back. Dreams which were so long and convoluted that it felt like I’d done a days work by the time I’d woken up. In fact, one dream had me waitressing a full dinner service in my dad’s old restaurant and I couldn’t wake up until I’d relaid all the tables at the end of service (always on the job me). Therefore, my dream tiredness was killing me so I had to find a way out – reclaiming my house. I thought if I put the house and affairs in order I could rest easy and regain restful sleep (bit like Facebook ‘what’s on my mind?’ Everything!!)

Simple? No. Not only was the sofa covered in muddy footprints, my family were emotionally distressed at my ‘absence’ due to brain fog and work crap. To set the tone, even Rosie Dog played up through lack of attention; Him being blocked when trying to leave the house – the little minx wanted to play!! Not only has she been needy and demanding on the ‘play’ and ‘walkies’ front, she’s also ruined my half finished (well ’twas) garden.

Children neglected meant ridiculously messy bedroom and disorganised lives. Little E shockingly went to London in an old cardi as we couldn’t find her best (only school) one in the ‘bomb site’. Middle child had a ‘can’t find my bag’ meltdown which resulted in missing a dance class, and the big one had to be coached through ‘prickly heat’ on FaceTime as I was too ill to give my medical advice before she left for a summer of: gyros (chips filled pitta everyday she reckons), Turkish fakes and selling boat trips for tips.

Worryingly and (anxiety levels rising) scarily, Him had been left to his own devices which enabled him to build mountains of crap on any available area of space. Also, through my general lethargy he’d begun to think he was in charge around here! This morning I took back the reins.

It wasn’t pretty. I was quite shouty and because the rot had started to set in, I had to cut it out before it started to spread, we had to go back to basics. They all needed reminding that we lived in a home and not a squat (it does resemble one at times). Mops, buckets, cloths, steamer and Hoover were distributed and orders given. Bottom lips were picked up from the floor as ‘do you see me sulking?’ And the washer has been on non-stop since (as if it’s ever off). God, I’m wasted. I should have been an army major. Even the dog got her orders for how to behave and what to do. There was rebellion on the battlefield – dog was the worst as when bathed she ran outside and dug a massive muddy hole, but they all got it in the end.

Upshot is my house looks tidy and smells clean. I’ve had time to bathe luxuriously (well 15 minutes anyway) and harmony seems to be restored. Downside? Headache back and I’m going for a lay down!

Moaning aside, I am now going to enjoy my nearest and dearest for the remainder of this ‘day of rest’. That is, bask in the glory of a beautiful family in a clean home. Everything in order. No stress and with the knowledge they’ll be no panic in the morning. That is before Tuesday morning when it’ll all unravel and go to pot. Would I have it any other way? An uncomplicated life? A lotto win? No, would I bugger! (Well maybe a cheeky £50k on the lotto would do). My life might be stupid busy and I might be juggling many balls at once but I’m a lucky lady. So, although I sound like some sort of demented witch, who no one likes due to high maintenance and being a bit OCD, I’m loved and I love. So maybe it is simple and maybe (I can say this now I’ve put my house in order) I should just smile and be happy.

One last thought, my horoscope tells me I need to look at my work/life balance. Answers on a postcard please…