Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The One Where I Try to Let Go

Today I saw Hippy Chick!

She is not only a dear friend but my confidence coach. 

I'd had the session booked in the diary for a few weeks which I was glad of as it was sorely needed.

Since my post yesterday I've had lovely messages on here, on facebook, e-mails and texts. Friends, family, former colleagues and the blogging community are always so supportive when I am down. I thank you all. You made me smile and brought tears to my eyes. 

It was cathartic just writing it all down to be honest and in an ironic twist the boy has been a delight since my blogging moan. He woke from his nap, ate all his lunch, played nicely with his friend and went to bed like a dream. No dramas. No screaming. He was a good boy for Nanny P today and generally a delight again. Little bugger. It's like he knows Mummy had a bloody good moan!

So last night before my confidence session today I questioned why I was struggling so much. Was it the boy? Was it just because he was being "challenging"? I do so love Hippy Chick's use of the expression "challenging" - it's inner confidence coaching speak for "being a sod"!

And you know what, it isn't just that. Of course he's being challenging, he 18 months old. He's always been full on in terms of energy and emotions. That's my boy. No one knows that better than me. No one knows him like his mum.

No, what had happened was, I wasn't coping with the boy because my head was still full of resentment and anger about my redundancy. It was like wading through soup. Horrible thick pea and ham soup. I couldn't think straight or focus because of all the pent up emotion.

So today I got rid of it all.

I talked and talked and told Hippy Chick every last horrible, vile detail of the mess that was my redundancy "process"! How I was made to feel stupid and incompetent and a worthless number after 13 and a half years. How I'm drinking too much and eating too much and screwed up inside with regret and bitterness. How I miss my friends, my colleagues, my desk, my place, my job!

I can't believe I'm saying this after all the years of moaning but I miss my job. That's why I felt so lost. All at sea! And that's irony in itself! 

So Hippy Chick got me to put all that emotion in a big ball in front of me. I could see it. I could feel it. It was enormous. It had no colour, it was grey, dull, like a ball of faded elastic bands that had been knocking about the office for years. No one used them. They were redundant. 

I looked at the imaginary ball and sobbed my heart out. I wish I'd said more. I wish I'd done more. I wish I'd fought it. I felt a failure. I'd lost my job. I was weak. I'd walked away. I'd been beaten down and defeated. I'd been trampled over. Every last bitter tear feel into that ball.

Then I took a deep breath and threw it away.

I tossed it over my head and left it in the past. Where it belongs.

I felt cleansed.

Hippy Chick suggested that when more feelings surfaced that I do the same again at home.

I've already had a quick toss this evening. 

Very apt for getting rid of something created in the first place by a bunch of tossers!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The One Where I'm Struggling

The boy turned 18 months at the weekend!

It's one of those milestones that people recognise. According to several baby websites it is the watershed at which your child is no longer a baby and becomes officially a "toddler"!

18 months seems to be a pivotal time. A time to move on to the next stage. The questions begin.

"Are you having another one?"

"Are you potty training him yet?"

"Is he using a knife and fork?"

"Can he calculate pi to 0.1 degree accuracy using only his toes, some mega blocks and a box of raisins?"


That's right. No! 

No, no, no and of course NO!

Can you tell I'm a bit p'd off?

I've not blogged for 9 days now and it's not like me. It's because Im struggling and when I'm struggling I'm not very funny. And lets face you lovely people deserve funny.

I'm just struggling with everything; being a mum to a toddler who has developed the terrible two's 6 months early and screams pretty much most of the day. Housework. My weight. Not having enough hours in the day. Am I being a good Mum or am I relying on the TV too much. Worrying about friends and family and family of friends. Life in general.

I'm sure it's just a blip. It's certainly made worse by the aftershock of my redundancy. 

I just feel lost.

You have a baby and you think the world has flipped. It certainly changes. That's fine. You get used to it. You even enjoy it. 

And then overnight your beautiful giggling baby turns in a monster!

Where did my boy go?

He became a toddler!!!!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The One with the Start and the End of the Day

Today started and ended with a meeting of minds. The minds in question being the boy and Oscar the cat.

Normally they move carefully around each other like a finely poised chess match. They are totally aware of each other and love each other dearly. Well as much as I can tell. One's 17 months old and thinks everything is a fire engine and ones a cat but a mother knows these things..

However, as today began and ended, events made them inter-link in very bizarre ways!

The boy woke up at 5 am this morning and has been full on all day. By 6 am we'd given up trying to persuade him to stay in his cot by placating him with, milk, muzzies and books and had brought him downstairs. I have an unwritten rule that if Cbeebies hasn't started yet then it's too early to be up!

Hubby carried the boy downstairs then he let him go into the lounge. The boy started to whinge and ran into the kitchen pointing back towards the living room.

"What's wrong with him?" asked hubby as he put the kettle on. 

I was padding down the stairs at this point as bleary eyed and annoyed at being up this early as hubby.

"He probably wants the TV on." I huffed, exasperated that my son has an ever growing Cbeebies habit.

The boy by this time was screaming. Not what you need at 6 in the morning.

I made my way into the lounge. The boy was pointing at the sofa which was covered in cat sick and exclaiming

"Oh No!" as he pointed determinedly at the horrible mess.

Poor Oscar hasn't been too well recently. He hates the humid weather and gets terrible fur balls. 

"I know what it is babe. The sofa's covered in sick!" I explain as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

Bless the boy for trying to let us know something was amiss and thank god he didn't do what he normally does. Jump up onto the settee with milk cup in hand and bounce around! The consequences are too dire to imagine. I grabbed him by the hand and gave him a good wash just in case he had touched it, but mercifully I'm pretty sure he hadn't.

With that all sorted we move to the end of the day and bath time. Our bathroom is downstairs and right by our back door where we keep Oscar's food and water bowls.

I'd run the boy's bath as hubby was getting the washing in from the garden. Ah Sunday night domestic bliss. I'd got the Top 40 on the radio, primarily for nostalgia purposes as I always had my Sunday night bath, ready for school on Monday, listening to the charts (and before you say anything it was the charts then and not the hit parade, I'm not that bloody old). I also have it on in the vain hope of keeping up to date with today's music and that I might have actually heard of someone! I rarely have!

The boy was about to join me in the bathroom when he took a sharp left and headed outside for the garden to see Daddy.

A quick jaunt up the garden (and next doors garden) later he came back inside with his Dad.

"Come on, you're bath will be getting cold" I called.

I must have only turned away a second, to check the temperature was still ok, when the boy ran into the bathroom with something concealed in his tight fist and threw it into the water.

"Oh my god he's thrown cat biscuits in the bath now!" 

"Well fish them out!" joked Hubby helpfully.

I normally enjoy a good pun but tonight I wasn't in the mood as I scooped up the soggy treats and plopped them in the bin.

Am I bad mother for not re-running the bath?

Three second rule and all that!

And at least I didn't let my son roll around in cat vomit!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

The One with the Free Bottle of Wine

Ken and I go back a long way! 

One of the biggest wrenches of my year maternity leave was not seeing her every day. The biggest wrench of my redundancy is not seeing her at all!

But what fate brought together no redundancy can put asunder. She is one of my bestest friends (I love using that innocent, childlike expression it makes me sound 6 years old) and a fairy godmother to the boy so our relationship is untroubled by recent events.

It's just I really miss her. She knows me inside out and has for over 12 years put up with my terrible jokes, passing fads and surreal humour. 

Last night she took me out for dinner. I'd been looking forward to it for weeks. I even got my hair done for the occasion. We had a sneaky bottle of rose, that she'd brought over, before we went out, then we legged it down to the waterfront for a pizza and more wine.

The only trouble was an hour had passed as we chatted away, excited to be spending time with each other again, the wine had dwindled and still no main course had arrived. We were now two bottles down and nothing more than a bit of garlic bread to sustain us.

I grabbed our nice waitress and she apologised for the delay. The kitchen was snowed under and could she get us another bottle of wine? It was free! Are bears catholic? Does the pope sit up the woods with a paper? Of course we'd like another bottle of wine!

Pizza and salad duly arrived and we devoured them hungrily spurred on by alcohol, chat and laughter.

Walking home the reasonably short distance from the restaurant to my house we stopped at a local pub for an additional cheeky beverage. Drink seems to beget drink doesn't it. Already three bottles of wine in and having drunk more than was wise I ordered,

"Could we try the Adnams gin please? 2 please with slim line tonic."

"Singles or doubles?"

"Ah make 'em doubles." I declared rashly.

Adnams gin is local and lovely but time was ticking on. Mr Ken was coming at 10.30 to pick Ken up. We were only half way through our drinks and savouring every sip but we needed to go. 

At this point I turned into a naughty 14 year old!

"If we go out the back way along the side alley we can take our gins and drink the rest on the way home" 

At the end of the alley is a car park where a copper was checking out the tax disc on a vehicle!

"We can't go past him holding these." Ken said sensibly 

"Lets tuck our glasses in our handbags " I giggled. "Then get them out once we're down the road"

So we did! 

My redundancy has taught me many things in the last few weeks. When to try and fight and when to just walk away. That I can be strong and resilient if I need to be but I would never sell my friends out. Why would I want to when I have a friend like Ken by my side. Friends like her come along once in a lifetime.

I've also learnt that potential employers are now looking at your transferable skills. Well last night Ken and I found a new skill we never knew we had.

We can balance a double G&T in a clutch bag and walk nonchalantly past a policeman without spilling a drop. All after three bottles of wine too!

That's going on my CV......

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The One with All the Redundancies

I can now reveal why it's been such a troubled time in the Random Household.

My Dad and I were both made redundant in the same week! 

Dad on the Monday. Me on the Wednesday!

We don't work for the same company. We've just both been victims of the recession. We've certainly both been victims.

In the same week Hubby's job wasn't looking so secure, some good friends announced they were splitting up and worst of all my dear friend Barbie lost her Mum.

All of these incidents on their own are worrying or unsettling enough, especially when friends and family mean so much to you, but all together in the space of five days was unprecedented. 

When I was told about my job I wanted my say, to show I wasn't a soft option, an easy target. Good old Random Woman she never sticks up for herself, she never complains. She'll go quietly. In the end I did because I wasn't strong enough to deal with what followed. And for that I kick myself. But at least I have my pride, my dignity and my integrity. Not everyone in business can say that.

Unfortunately my confidence took a hit and my self esteem is low. I've even struggled to leave the house on a few occasions. The bouts of depression that have dogged my adult life have started to re-surface.  Had I been chucked on the scrap heap at 41? Why me after 13 and a half years of service? Why was it just me and no one else?

What has surprised me is my reaction to it all. For those of you who read my posts when I was umming and ahing about whether to go back to work after my maternity leave, you'll know that the job didn't play to my creative strengths, but what I've found is I've become highly emotional at having to leave when it wasn't on my terms. Even now, two weeks on, I cry at the slightest thing. I did today when I saw some old work colleagues because it's the people I'll miss. 13 and a half years is a long time. Over half my working life. Just gone in an instant! 

My Dad has got another job and I am immensely proud of him at 63 for doing that so swiftly. Hubby's company is being very sensible and not making any rash decisions at the moment. Our friends are perfectly amicable with their separation and starting to carve out new lives. Barbie is brave and strong and I am proud of her everyday. 

As for me I'm ok. I've started doing some freelance writing work which is fantastic and what I always wanted. I have the boy, hubby and Oscar. We have no debts. I am extremely lucky. I have my redundancy money, my P45 and a chance at a more fulfilling working life.

I'm also very, very sad. Sad that I won't see my friends at work anymore. Sad that it all ended the way it did. Sad that it was all so rushed. Sad I didn't get to say a proper good-bye. 
Sad that I couldn't fight. 

Sometimes things are just too huge to fight against even when you know you are just in your cause. So now I write and hope that the pen will be mightier than the sword!

Losing my job and embarking on this new chapter has made me reflect on my working life so far and I was reminded of a story from my previous job. 

I worked for a concession in a big department store for 6 years. It was in this department store that I met Hubby.

One Christmas the management asked the staff to suggest what we would like as a Christmas party. They provided a suggestion box, pen and pieces of paper and placed it in the staff room. When the time came to open the box, one lone scrap of paper fluttered out. On it was simply written;

"A piss up in a brewery. If we thought you could organise it!"

Which only goes to prove nothing much changes. Whoever you work for!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The One with Ta

I've never been a fan of Ta. Before I had the boy I could never understand why parents encouraged the use of it over just going straight to the proper thank you. 

Naive fool that I was!

Of course now I see that thank you is far too many syllables for a one year old to manage and you're teaching manners rather than the correct words. Thank you will come in time and lets face it, even as adults, how many of us still say Ta to each other when you've been passed the salt, butter or depending on how rough your day has been, white wine or valium! 

It's just it used to grate on my nerves!

But sap that I am, now the boy says it all the time I love it! It's so cute! I must be losing my edge with this motherhood lark!

I've been trying to encourage passing things back to Mummy when you've finished with them, rather than just throwing them with zeal half way across the floor. This could be bowls, plastic plates, cutlery, bits of banana or a handful of Cheerios! So far it's working quite well and the random throwing seems to have abated, for a while at least. So with each finished or disregarded item the boy accompanies the action with a Ta.

However the aforementioned Cheerios are another matter. You don't get a Ta with Cheerios. With that particular breakfast cereal you get "the dance of the Cheerios"! This is where the boy shakes the bowl with such vigour they fly over the floor, onto Oscar's head as he scurries past, across the dining room table and even on one occasion down my bra. Now I realise my bra's are a pretty big target area, but that kind of accuracy is impressive. I'm hoping with the boys projected adult height and the size of his hands, that if he can slam dunk a Cheerio down my top the NBA will be a piece of cake!

The trouble is he seems to think that saying Ta will exonerate him for any fall out for a wrong doing. So it's ok to chuck your breakfast across the dining room as long as you hand Mummy back the empty bowl and say , Ta!

And my trouble is I laugh. Or at least have to stifle a laugh and turn away because it's just so damn funny. However tired, or fraught I am about all the mess, I have to appreciate the natural comic timing of my son. It's genius. Pure comedy gold. 

The best one came one teatime when I gave him crumpets with Marmite. He picked up the crumpet, eyed it suspiciously, had a taste then proceeded to lick off all the Marmite. Once it was clean he handed it back to me with a smile and a look that conveyed, "I've finished with this now Mummy, what's next?" accompanied with the obligatory, Ta! 

So after all these years of hating Ta I now find it has comedic properties and it brightens my day.

But maybe that's because if the boy doesn't grow up to be a rich basketball player he may just turn out to be another Eric Morecambe!

Monday, 8 August 2011

The One with the Rookie Mistake

There are times when I think I've got this motherhood lark down to a fine art and there are other times when I do something so unbelievably naive that I amaze myself!

I took the boy to Tesco. I needed gin. That makes it sound like I'm dependent upon the stuff to function in a normal day. That's not strictly true. Although today I have wanted a G&T since 4.30 this afternoon. A time that roughly coincides with my putting my shopping through the till at Tesco.

I don't often shop at Tesco's due to not agreeing with their programme of world domination and cynical marketing strategy, namely, lets force all the small shopkeepers out of business then move in and open small corner shops of our own! 

However I do occasionally pop in and as a result I'd amassed about £30 worth of clubcard points. We were nearly out of gin and Tesco had litre bottles of "Mummy's special medicine" on offer! 

For a kick off it was really, really windy and the boy insisted on sticking both legs in one side of the child seat in the trolley! Whilst trying to manoeuvre him to sit straight with one hand I was desperately trying to stop the trolley from being carried off towards the car next to me and denting it. Luckily I'd got one of small handful of parent and child parking spaces on offer so I had some wiggle room.

Once inside, looking windswept and weary before we'd even started, I remembered that Lemon Cake Boy has some cool toy cars from Tesco that my boy loves to play with when we visit. In our local store the toy aisle is just to the left as you enter and this where my naivety came in..

I went there first!

For Mega Blocks sake what was I thinking of?

"Car, car, car, CAR, CAR, CARRRRRRRRRRR!" 

"Yes darling, just calm down, Mummy is going to get you some cars."

I started to browse. I use the term loosely as you can't browse with an over excitable toddler in a shopping trolley. I couldn't find the ones I wanted quickly enough before he spotted it. I'd clocked it moments earlier, sitting on the bottom shelf, all red shiny and large.

"Nanu!" he cried "Nanu, nanu, nanu!"

It was a bloody fire engine. I have a house full of bloody fire engines and I wasn't about to buy another one. We'd come for cars and I still had all the rest of my shopping to do. 


People were starting to stare. The other day in the park Hubby had a rather terse conversation with a women who insisted our son had a Mork and Mindy fixation and wouldn't believe Nanu referred to the noise a fire engine makes. I was concerned a fellow shopper was going to report me to social services any moment on the grounds of neglect for subjecting my child to DVD's of old 1970's ITV shows. I can imagine it now,

"I realise darts is a pub game your honour but we watch Bullseye because it helps with his mental arithmetic."

Anyway I found the last box of four cars, down a pound to £2.50. Lovely old job as we say in these parts.

The boy was getting more and more stressed and louder and louder as I wheeled him away from the "Nanu". 

One of things about motherhood I struggle with most is you can't reason with a 17 month old. Or any month old.

"You have lots of fire engines at home darling" and "Mummy has got you some new cars sweetheart" just doesn't cut it. Neither does "Shut the &*%^ up you're being ungrateful, acting like a spoiled brat and making me look like a sh*t Mum here" 

So I didn't say any of them. I just took him down a neutral aisle like towels and bathroom accessories, offered a drink and a snack, stroked his hair and said gently "Calm down darling" over and over. To be fair I'm not normally that controlled but thanks to Hippy Chick Mum and my confidence coaching I'm getting better. It worked. The boy stopped screaming and smiled. Peace was restored.

"Right lets go and get Mummy's gin. Mummy needs gin" Boy did Mummy need gin!

It was here, buoyed with confidence that I'd handled the situation well I made naive rookie error number two.

I gave him the box of cars to hold as we went round.

What in holy mother and baby awards was I thinking now!

The boy didn't want the box. He wanted the cars! He wanted the cars out of the box.

I was bending down to get packets of baby wipes when I heard the first rip.

The boy has the strength of Samson on pro active conditioner and he'd managed to rip apart the cardboard case and pull open the plastic packaging inside. Card, plastic and cars went flying in different directions and scattered over Tescos floor. I scooped them all up whilst smiling wryly at passers by

"He's excited about his new cars!" I said through gritted teeth "Bless him!"

When we got to the till the operator looked at the tangled jumble of toy vehicles and box sailing towards her on the conveyor belt and raised an eyebrow at me,

"Yes sorry about that" I said "My little boy got over excited and wanted the cars to hold."


"I expect that happens a lot?" I asked

"No. Not really." she replied leaving me feeling like an errant school girl.

Now repeat after me one hundred times 

Don't go to the toy aisle until you've done the rest of your shopping.....

Sunday, 7 August 2011

The One with the Chunky Monkey Cake, the Roast Dinner and the Cleaning

The last couple of weeks have been particularly tough for various reasons. Worries about friends, family, my work, Granddad Ah Oh's work and Hubby's work have all come together like buses. Or Nanu's as the boy would say!

We're coming through it and soon I'll be able to tell you more but what I can say at the moment is that I've been surprised by my reaction to it all.

I've come over all house proud!

I've made a list of all the chores that need doing around the home. Nothing unusual about that. I love a list. But I've actually been doing them! 

Yesterday I swept floors, did the food shopping, threw out dead flowers and re-arranged the live ones, cleaned the kitchen cupboards, surfaces and sink, made a cake and cooked a roast dinner.

Here's the link for the recipe for Chunky Monkey Cake.

Because I don't think I've ever made a recipe I haven't fiddled with, I replaced three teaspoons of plain flour with cocoa. I only used three bananas, otherwise the mixture is too sloppy. I used milk chocolate chips and instead of walnuts I used dried apricots, but sometimes I use raisins or sultanas, I just didn't have any in because the boy had eaten them all! 

I have a cup of tea and a slice by my side as I type.

The boy helped me. Well in as much as he stood and watched as I explained each stirring, whisking, chopping, bowl scraping process and shouted "cake, cake, cake" at me assuming that it would magically appear like the shopkeeper in Mr Benn. It's very hard to get a 17 month old to understand it takes 45 minutes to cook at Gas mark 5!

After the boy had gone to bed I did roast chicken for mine and hubby's dinner with a very drinkable glass of Pinot Grigio  (or two!)

Bless hubby, after all that activity he washed up what the dishwasher wouldn't take.

I have no idea if this flurry of cleaning, tidying, cooking and general housewifery will last but I'm finding it all very strange.

For Christ sake I even did some ironing!

Things must be bad!