THE SUFFOLK SECTION
Bonjour! and welcome back after my sabbatical. It has flown by. Turns out five is quite a lot of work and there hasn't really been many spare hours to sit and write. However, the baby is now nine months old and, as of the last few nights, has been sleeping in her cot from early evening which means I am finally able to sit down and fill you in on some of the last six months.
Right now, I am wrapped in a blanket and a cashmere jumper in front of a roaring fire (I love fires so much - I take ridiculous levels of pride in each one and I encourage the children to gaze in wonder at the soaring flames and listen to the beautiful crackling sound and bask in the warmth it emits - you'd be shocked to learn of some of their unenthusiastic responses) because the boiler isn't working. This is symptomatic of things in general. As we approach our Suffolkaversary all the things we bought/had serviced when we arrived have started to stop working. The shine is very much not rubbing off of our new shiny life, it's just there are now quite a few irritants in it. My much coveted Dyson handheld (the glamour) will not charge, the smart remote for our smart TV won't work so the Tv is now just of average intelligence, we're at least one sky remote down, the bath leaks, the shower in our ensuite is stuck on 'very hot' and we have an awful lot of ants who have decided that our kitchen is their new home. (Ummmm as a postscript the boiler wasn't broken - it actually appears that oil is far too easy to use up and despite a relatively recent delivery of it, we had run out. The poor boiler man turned up only to tell me that we had run out of oil. But then he had to come back and fix the boiler because if you run out, the boiler sucks in air, and apparently this is bad for boilers. It has cost quite a lot of money to find all of this out.)
So, boiler, ants and broken stuff aside all is well avec nous. The BIG news is that today I dropped four children off at ONE SCHOOL. Yes, finally, a few weeks ago some awesome little dude called Dexter who I will never meet, left with his family for pastures new so Ted joined his brother and sister at the local school and today was Cybil's trial session at the nursery. Happiness level peaked when we also found out that Bea had been given her first choice of secondary school. Although it is a slight worry as it is a brand new school, it isn't even built yet, it's not full and it's not the school all of Bea's friends are going to, so I have sort of gone out on a limb with choosing it - only time will tell if it was the right decision but I still remain hopeful. At the very least with such a small year (it's not full and there were only 120 spaces) Bea has much more chance of becoming head girl/prefect when the time comes. Not that I am insistent on her living my dreams for me, but I was the only person in my group of friends not to become a prefect and that has stayed with me. I am also a secret wannabe dancer which is why she is still 'encouraged' to weekly dancing lessons...
As you might imagine, an awful lot has happened since we last met but do not fret, I don't intend to regale you with every minute detail. We have had many birthdays and many parties, many, many play dates, spent an awful lot of money, done Christmas plays/concerts/carols, had nits, fleas, flu, sick bugs, coughs that won't end, trips to London, filled in thousands of forms and loaded and unloaded the dishwasher approximately a million times. The children are thriving, K is working all hours 5/6 days a week and I have made some lovely friends to whom I moan to about K working all hours and so all in all life has settled down to 'normal' after all the excitement of last year. It is in fact, gloriously boring and I love it.
Before Christmas, mother was working five days a week and so I was pretty much on my own when it came to school runs/tidying/cooking/childcare/present buying etc. It was busy. Since Christmas, mother hasn't been working at all so that means we have been seeing a lot more of her. This has pros and cons. The benefits are her being able to do the odd school run, or taking Cybil for a few hours and she is very partial to busying herself in my kitchen preparing food or 'clearing my sink'. I like to think I am helping to keep her busy and she likes to think I couldn't manage without her. Even though I have. The down side to her being around all the time is she does not agree with a lot of my parenting methods. Not that I have a method in particular. It is mainly just 'getting through'. She rang me recently, to tell me she 'knew what I was doing'. She had read about it in the Telegraph. Apparently it is 'Positive Parenting'. I am not a fan of this whole labelling thing. Gentle bloody parenting, helicopter, tiger, attachment, baby led weaning blah blah blah. She is wrong, as it happens - I am not positive parenting, I am 'Wrong parenting'. The thing I have learnt, is that whatever you do, however you do it, someone (or many) believes it is the wrong way. And therefore, we are all doing it 'wrong'.
For example, pink. 'People' hate the idea of girls wearing/loving pink, as if the colour alone is anti-feminist. I like pink. I'd like my boys to wear pink, but sadly they won't, Cybil loves pink, I let her wear it. I don't really care if this is bad. It makes her happy. She likes other colours too. This is also ok. She is also a kick arse, scary mother-fo when she wants to be and has recently taken to threatening to punch people in the face if they cross her path. She also loves to get messy, playing with dirt, is a speed freak, brave and many, many other things besides. Her loving pink doesn't make her a 'princess' so I don't really understand why we have to programme her to hate it. I wouldn't replace a toy we already had with a 'pink' version but I also wouldn't refuse to buy her something just because it was pink.
I am, according to many, a terrible role model for my daughters. I do not have a job/career. I am unlikely to rush out and find work just to rectify this. If our economic survival depended upon it, I would obviously rush out and find paid employment, but whilst we can get by, I shall stay here. And probably while we can't actually. I'm not really good for much at the moment anyway. I'm totally institutionalised. A few weeks ago I went to pick up my first prescription of antibiotics for many years (mastitis - first ever bout - nine months in to the fifth breastfed baby - I have no idea why) and I genuinely thought they would be giving me 'banana medicine' or the liquid solution I usually pick up for the children - I put it upright in my bag and everything. I had also imagined where I would put it in the fridge, next to K's beer, so that he would see that I had penicillin and therefore hopefully feel guilty for paying absolutely NO attention to my pain and suffering. It was a total shock when I realised that what I had was pills - the sort of things they give grown ups. It also put paid to my genius idea to make K worry about me. He has STILL not mentioned it and I have since had a second course when the mastitis helpfully joined me on the other boob. Feeding a toothy baby off a sodding sore boob is the kind of sacrifice not many would make willingly, but 'ability to take pain in the name of job' is not something I could put on a CV so I worry I'm pretty much unemployable aside from in the child sector and if I do return to work, I really don't want it to involve children. Although my ability to catch sick and wipe poo without gagging would make me a good carer. But I really don't want to do that either. Therefore I shall remain a terrible role model for my daughters as I lazily and selfishly devote all my time to their care. (It annoys me - only because i would NEVER say I thought a mother was a bad role model for going to work and leaving her daughter/s in the care of others and yet I sometimes feel like it's open season for stay at homers. For the record I think working mothers are superheroes and I often tell them so. Why can't we just live and let live people)
I don't mind it. I haven't spent years researching the affect it has on mutating cells in the body, or its affiliation with the devil or anything, so my opinion on it is really just personal and not based on anything, but I like it. It makes things taste nice. I don't think we should have a plate of it morning, noon and night with a coke to wash it down with, but I don't live in fear of it. I don't panic if my children are given Haribo at school by other children to celebrate their birthday. I don't freak out if they drink apple juice. I actually buy them sweets and chocolate and apple juice. Same with carbs and fat and salt. I feed it all to them. Maybe they will live ten years less than their non sugar eating counterparts. But that's their issue, not mine. I'll be dead. I'm ok with that. As a 'nod' to the current sugar hysteria and my mother's helpful insistence that my children will all lose limbs to Type 2 diabetes, I have switched to the 'reduce sugar and salt' tomato ketchup and made G swap to corn flakes instead of coco pops. I can't say I've noticed a difference.
I shout. It's cathartic, helpful and extremely rarely it is life saving. People who parent 'gently' do not shout, or use 'time out', or any such things. They most probably take time to sit down and talk everthing through in a calm and gentle way. I think that is ok for them to do, it is probably really nice of them. They think I am wrong. I'm more than happy about that. I couldn't give a flying fig. The world is noisy. I believe it is best to prepare children for that noise by being noisy. Also if I didn't expel my pent up agression, angst and exceedingly high levels of annoyance by raising my voice to a shout, then I would be sitting in a corner somewhere rocking gently whilst emitting a low and constant humming noise. Also, what is so wrong with getting angry. FFS, I am a bit fed up with all this, 'be calm and serene and gentle' crap. Get fricking angry people. Not all the time, not every single day, not over small crap, but what's wrong with anger? If people didn't get angry we'd still have the fricking poll tax - let's raise angry people, let them get bloody angry with arseholes who cut disability benefits, maybe they'll change the world. Or maybe not. I'm also pretty lazy and my children have inherited it, so maybe they'll just do what I do and get angry, shout about it, but then be very ineffectual about putting any of their shouty threats in to practise.
They watch it. I watch it. My little sister and I watched it lots when we were young. I am fat, she is not. I do not worry that watching the TV makes you fat or stupid. Eating too much and not doing enough makes you fat. The TV is educational. The stuff G comes out with is amazing. And then when I express amazement at his worldly knowledge and ask where he learnt it from, he repeats the line from Matilda 'All I learnt I learnt from telly'. It is also great at teaching children patience when the adverts come on. From a very young age my children are aware that if they just wait for the adverts to finish, their chosen programme will eventually appear. It is also a great help when it comes to Christmas shopping - just one advert break combined with an amazon order can completely sort out one child.
Population matters people believe that I shouldn't have even had most of my children. Therefore I am in the wrong for having them, let alone how I choose to raise them. Ideally no one would have children and we would leave the world to go back to how it was before we raped and pillaged it for our own end. To them I say, I'm sorry, but again, tough shit. If we all die, who is here to appreciate the earth as a planet anyway? If all humanity dies then it is just a planet in the solar system and in the event of its extinction, no one on Mars is going to cry about it. So, again, sorry, sorry, sorry. But I've had them now, if I kill them to make you all happy then I will go to prison and also it's really just not very nice. So stop making me feel bad with your FB posts about how awful I am. I haven't been on a plane in ten years, I recycle and I eat local produce (sometimes). I'm trying to make amends, I know it's not enough and I am partially directly responsible for the early demise of this great planet, but, it's done now. I promise not to have anymore. Pinky promise. Babies are incredibly labour intensive and as much as I do absolutely adore them, I really cannot be arsed to do it anymore.
Tonight, Cybil stood up at the table and announced that Dottie was getting a fat tummy from all the food she was eating and now she looks like a mummy, 'like you, mummy'. According to all 'studies' fat people are basically responsible for all evil, so I can only conclude that her knowing I am fat is a terrible thing. My obesity will not only make my children obese, it will also cause my untimely death from a whole host of hideous diseases. It has probably already caused a million terrible things for my children's future as I over ate when pregnant and breast feeding. The catch 22 with this is that because I have daughters I am not meant to draw attention to the fact that I am fat, or that I am in any way unhappy with my appearance. I keep reading all of these features about how I am meant to 'not mention' my weight, or losing weight, I am also not meant to draw attention to my daughters' weight. Most recently, I learnt that I am to compliment them without mentioning their beauty or size. Instead I am meant to say they look 'strong' and 'confident'. Now. Imagine for a minute that you (supposing you are a female) had spent an hour or so getting ready, you were wearing your favourite outfit, most beautiful shoes and you had tried out a new make up technique and had spent extra special amounts of time on your normally wayward hair. Imagine then, you descend the stairs to see the person who is special to you or you meet up with your friend/date and they greet you with the words, "WOW! you look so amazingly strong and healthy! You exude a great confidence". I'm quite sure I wouldn't be the only person who would be greatly pissed off. Being called strong and healthy in my eyes is another way of saying you are looking a bit porky. I'm sorry if this is wrong, and potentially this is what we're meant to be working to change, but what the hell is wrong with saying someone is beautiful? No one looks at the Daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses and comments on their apparent strength (I am quite countrified now - I stop the car to admire these flowers which are currently in bloom and making the countryside even more beautiful) so why can't I tell my beautiful babies how beautiful I believe them to be? I also tell them how brilliant they are and clever and annoying and all those other things a mother should think. But there is no harm in being beauitful. As long as it's not all you are.
Just so you know, I am back at weight watchers and am much less obese than I was. I mean, I couldn't guarantee it wasn't still 'morbid' or something equally as attractive sounding, but it is less, and that is surely what counts. And Bea knows I go. And George. Bea and my mother are the only ones that remember to ask how I got on. I officially apologise if this insight in to my life has far reaching and negative affects on their future lives. I'm unlikely to lose any sleep over it. I'm too tired.
So, there you have it, my life is boring and I'm parenting the 'wrong' way. I couldn't recommend it highly enough.
I shall be back to tell you more whenever I think of something more interesting to tell you.