Just wondering…

What the fuck is the fucking Bing Bong Song in Peppa Pig! ? And how the fuck does Madame Gazelle get away with passing it off as education! ?

I’m a primary school teacher and if the Tory government ever got wind of us teaching something that new age and nonsense, we’d be ‘Requires Improvement’ quicker than you could say “Silly Daddy Pig.”

Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Snapshot #14 – Am I the only walking contradiction?

As I have gotten older, I have become increasingly aware of the oxymorons in life. I’m unsure whether this is a result of becoming a parent and therefore having the best intentions resulting in the most catastrophic outcomes, or whether this is just part of being an adult. I will share with you some of the contradictions of late, in the hope of some reassurance that I’m not the only one.

(I know terms relating to irony/paradoxes/contradictions/oxymorons/catch-22s can be grounds for grammar keyboard warrior trolls to vent – please none of that today lovies, my brain is mush already!)

  1. Time away from the monsters – No, I’m not talking about internal monsters, I’m not that messed up (yet). Time away from offspring. We (Husband Dearest and I) complain about the incessant nature of parenting (though really we do get a lot of breaks), yet when help is offered, we, without fail, go through the ‘Oh but should we?’, ‘It’s just I feel bad’, ‘It not fair on the boys/my parents/the cats/next door’s aunt’s tortoise.’ We literally fantasize about what we could do if the boys went out for a few hours or had a sleepover. Then when the offer arises we turn to gibber and question our entire moral being in order to establish Are We Doing The Right Thing. Never mind the fact we’ve spent the last three hours complaining about what we need to get done, snapping at the boys and cursing them for not staying glued to the sofa long enough for us to check Facebook/Instagram/BBC Sport/Pinterest.

And still, when we ‘relent’ (as we all know we intended to do from the off) and take up whatever generous hooligan fielding offer it may be, we do not do all the things we said we needed babysitters in order to do. The glossing is still not done, the door is still off its hinges, the fucking skirting boards are still fucking filthy. No, we convince ourselves we deserve a Netflix and Chill session (but actually netflix and chill, no vag pokery in this house). Because we never get the opportunity to ‘enjoy time, just us’. Not like we do that every single sodding night once the miniature dictators are finally in bed.

And then, even though we did a little euphoric boogie when we closed the door on our sprogs and their unwitting minders, within 15 minutes we’re reminiscing about them as though they have moved to university: ‘Ahh, today Monster Minor did the cutest little fart that sprayed a bit of shit on his new white John Lewis shirt and it was the sweetest moment of my life…’  And then, invariably, one of us will say we miss them, usually around an hour  into the free time. That one of us needs punching in the dick.

When they return to us, the grins and the hugs are worth the hours of tv-bingeing and we have that lovely, life-affirming warmth. For about 15 minutes. And then I will admit, I’m the one that mutters ‘FFS, I don’t want to be a parent today,’ whilst rocking back and forth and flinching at returning to my post as a human climbing frame.

2. Going out – In a similar vein to above, another incessant contradiction I find myself making is with regard to social plans. We, parents in particular, complain at the lack of opportunities to go out and get shitfaced and eat a kebab actually enjoy being young, yet strangely, when the hour to begin getting ready looms, the sofa seems strangely appealing. Your mind morphs into Martin Lewis mode as you calculate the expense of a taxi/meal/drinks/dessert/shots/dirty burger/fine for vomming in the cab, against the money you’d save having a take away, bottle of red and a cheesecake each from the Co-op. What is even more bizarre is that the promise of those few sacred hours of freedom is what has got you through the week; chanting ‘I can get through this, I get to be normal on Friday night’, whilst you shove your knee into an unbending child’s abdomen to get them the frig into the car seat (not as violent as it sounds, promise), is a regular feature of pre-night out days.

And so, it most likely goes one of three ways:

  • You go out – you’ll think you look, smell, sound like shit, but, provided you’re in good company, you soon forget about it. You laugh, talk about something other than giving birth, food refusal or the most bizarre place you’ve found child excrement, and you’ll generally eat, drink and be merry. You will most likely get steaming drunk, embarrass yourself stupidly, and perhaps the Mr might get a drunken shag when you get home. We’re all winners, good times. (Until 5.17am, when the soulless little bastards go bat shit crazy because they lost a sock and their teddy winked at them funny and two weeks ago you gave them cheerios not porridge because they asked for cheerios and you didn’t know that actually meant porridge.)
  • You cancel. You massive disappointment. You wallow in the disgrace of your own lack of coolness, whilst secretly enjoying watching Corrie in bed, pizza grease oozing down your chin. You feel guilty, you worry about what people might think about you but those feelings don’t quite match up to the relief when taking your bra off (jokes, I can’t let these bad boys swing unsupported), shutting the kids’ bedroom door and opening the door to the take away man. Yes, you’re a massive let down, but, by god, you’re a comfortable, pizza-filled, asleep by 9pm let down!
  • They cancel on you. Hurrah! I think this is the outcome everyone wishes for. You get to say ‘Oh no, I was all ready to go’ even though you’re still tweezing out your greys in the mirror, and pretend that you were fully willing to lead the pack in going out and getting wankered. You’ve no concern about appearing a flake and no one need know that you’d pressed the confirm button on your JustEat order, literally 3 seconds before the cancellation text arrived.

3. Spending – ‘I never buy things for myself any more*’ is something commonly groaned in our house. (The cappuccino at soft-play doesn’t count; that was for survival and so that I had an excuse to say ‘HOT’ to Monster Minor to give myself three and a half minutes peace from being climbed on.) Purchases generally fall into one of four categories: food, for the boys, for the house, for birthdays. This leaves little room for my clothes, make up, jewellery…. or in reality, scarves to hide my lumpy bits and dry shampoo to make it look like I’ve had more than a baby wipe wash that week. Yet, if I do ever get carte blanche to spend on myself, I just can’t. Sometimes, nothing seems worth it – it’ll either end up smeared with fish pie or be so fancy I’ll never get the opportunity to wear it (see point number 2). Other times, it just feels so wrong to be spending on myself when the boiler needs servicing/the soles of Monster Major’s shoes are so split they have conversations with one another/the sandpit has been without sand for 2 years. All of the possible other worthy uses for money flood into my mind and drown the need for the unladdered, tummy-control tights. And somehow, the flipping sandpit is still sandless and Husband Dearest has been serviced more times than the boiler (and that’s saying something)!

*Alcohol doesn’t count. It’s in the same field as utility bills and car insurance. It’s a legal must.

4. Sex – I’m sure I’m not alone when I say sex is a bargaining tool in our house. Kind of like a trade-off, you need to ensure that when you put out, you’re gonna reap the gains. I’m speaking in the singular now, no ‘we’, as, for Husband Dearest, sex is sex and he never doesn’t want it, the rampant little goat. I, however, find myself in a perpetual pendulum swing of: ‘Get your fucking bell end away from my thigh,’ to ‘Ah, but I can probably wangle a lie in if I endure a quick rodgering,’ to ‘Oh, but I am so tired and I really can’t be arsed get in the mood,’ to ‘Then again, if I allow a little penis pokey now, it means he won’t sex pest me for the next few days.’ I constantly contradict myself when it comes to sex. I act like it’s second to tickling Donald Trump’s balls on the scale of things I really don’t want to do, when really, it’s one of the most primitive, carnal pleasures people can have. I talk about it as though the very idea of it repulses me, yet I have a very good looking husband who, in spite of what I may tell him when his hand ‘accidentally’ grazes my arse in a more than accidental lingering way, I’m actually pretty attracted to. I kind of think it must be a rites of passage for sex to become the inevitable weighing up of a few seconds minutes of ectasy vs knowing you’ll be tired, sweaty, sex-smelling when the children wake you up in the morning. For me, I’d take starfishing on my two-thirds of the bed whilst sleep-drooling onto my pillow, any day. At least, I think I would.

I’m used to contradicting myself now, and I’ve said before, I think it’s something I must learn to get used to as a parent. But, at the same time, it was nice when I had an idea in mind and stuck to it. When did life become the constant weighing up of what the least damaging option is? When did the norm become knowing what you want to do but feeling obliged to do the opposite? I hope it isn’t just me that feels this pull of loyalties, this habitual tug-of-war between what you think is the right thing and what the right thing may actually be. I think the conclusion is that we may never get it right. Parenting seems characterised by the feeling of guilt over making the wrong decision. But then, when the monsters come racing in, faces lit up because they haven’t seen you in 4 hours and 13 minutes, and give you the biggest squeeze ever, it kind of makes your contradictory world ok again. Until it’s followed by the words ‘My done a wee wee,’ and you’re back to reality with a massive ‘FFS’.

Pink Pear Bear

Snapshot #13 – What I learnt in 2015 – cheese alert

In all honesty, Husband Dearest and I were hardly sad to see the end of 2015. People seem to personify years, as though all the bad things and the good things that went on in those 365 days belong to that time, and that day 366 signifies a new, unrelated beginning. With that perspective in mind, these are the new things I discovered in 2015:

Life can be as bad as it gets and as good as it gets at the same time. In 2015, we hit rock bottom. And then we realised that rock bottom wasn’t the bottom, it was just the crust.We could hit mantle, and then lower mantle. And we kept going lower until we reached core. Yet at the same time we had perfection. We had two incredible children, we had each other, we had family, we had friends, we had our own home, we had secure careers, we had love, we had so much laughter and we had cats. And knowing this, yet still being at core bottom, made me feel incredibly guilty and ungrateful. This is a really common feature in human compassion – feeling guilty for not being content with your blessings. As I began to move forwards, I realised these two states are not mutually exclusive. You can be sad but so happy at the same time. You can feel such darkness inside, yet belly laugh and it’s okay. I learnt that I could be insanely happy, grateful and loved up yet life could be throwing shit at us – and that was how things worked. Learning this has helped me immensely this year, and I think the acceptance of this duality in feelings has been key in ‘growing up’.

There isn’t a limit to the misfortune of some and the blessings of another. Nor is there any rhyme or reason for that. I think we’re constantly searching for ‘why’ and desperate to find the blame for happenings in life. And whilst people look to all manner of celestial agents, deciding forces or powers that be, sometimes people get more than their fair share. And it’s bloody horrid. Life can make you so angry and so upset. It can break the hearts of those you love, over and over again, and there’s no justification for it. I think we all like to believe that somewhere there is some balance to things. We’re taught, you do good, good things happen. But sometimes, bad things happen to good people, and you lose faith in any sort of equitableness. Whilst this is a bitter, bitter pill to swallow, I think accepting that sometimes life can be cruel and seem unjust, makes it easier to move on. Because what is most unjust is letting these things beat you.

You should never judge a person based on what they present to the world (especially not via any social media). Echoing the above lessons, 2015 taught me that everyone has their shit as well as their beauty. But most people don’t allow their shit to shine through. I know many people who bog themselves down in comparison to what they perceive others to be. But we don’t all wear our troubles on our sleeve. Our minds are hidden and nobody is completely secure. I learnt that the people who are happiest do not judge their achievements, worth and identity against others but simply strive the be the best they can in themselves. Which can be just as hard – negotiating your inner critic. But at least it’s yours and you alone are the master of it.

I learnt that friends are the thing. Friends are salt that flavours life. They’re the sugar in your tea, the ketchup on your hot dog and all the cliches you can invent. I’ve made some new friends and lost some old this year, but if there’s one thing that has come screaming out of the past annum with all the vibrancy of a transsexual rainbow sheep at a gay pride event, it’s that friends will get you through. I can’t wax the greatness of my friends lyrically enough. They are a-mazing, and my family would not be half the jolly bundle we are without them. (Having said this, my family is extremely awesome too.)

Time isn’t a healer, but it is important. If you break your leg, it isn’t the time that heals you, it’s the medicine and surgery. But time is the medium that carries this through. It’s the same with matters of the heart and mind. Time won’t make it all better, but it will allow recovery. And you’ll never get back what you were or had before that time passed, but sometimes you’ll get better, and at the least, you’ll get different – and that’s ok. People say ‘give yourself time’, in so many situations, and now I can fully appreciate why. If things aren’t where or how they should be right now, just give it time.

Perfection is a fallacious concept invented by fairy tales, hair advertisements and good parenting magazines. If I had a penny for every time I was told ‘good enough is good enough’ this year, I’d be… well, I’d have plenty of pennies. I’ve spent far too much of this year chasing perfection in all aspects of my life. And the wise amongst you will already know – if you seek perfection, you will only end up unfulfilled. Even as I type this, I can feel my mind questioning this defeatist attitude. But I don’t mean we can’t be great. We can be excellent, we can do something perfectly, we can feel wholly complete – but I don’t think we can be utterly perfect and go through life utterly perfectly. Others may disagree but I think this acceptance made me a much better mother, wife, friend, daughter and sister this year and, most importantly, a happier person.

The year 2015 has been an incredibly gruelling, testing and downright awful year, in many, many respects. And yet, I’d never erase it because we’ve had some of the most amazing experiences and learnt lessons we never would have done. 2015 threw all of our pieces all over the place, and as we put them back together, the picture looks different, but hopefully, when we’ve finished, it’ll  look better than it ever could’ve done.

But if it just looks good enough, that’ll be good enough for me. *


*Jokes, I’ll most likely be a gibbering wreck sobbing into my red wine that I’ll never be the aforementioned wholesome, Cath Kidston and Liberty fabric apron wearing, mint growing, lamb adorning, knick-knack making, false idol.