Writer or imposter?

I walk into a writer’s social networking meeting. Immediately I feel as though I don’t belong here – these are real writers, they all have valid reasons for being here. I, on the other hand, am an imposter.


Roughly 11 and a half months ago I resolved that this year I would: Get my book finished (am currently 41,000 words in); write a brilliant and illuminating blog post every week for this and my husbands website; lose 3 stone in weight; be infinitely more productive, and; be infinitely more organised.

Turns out that I was severely deluding myself as I didn’t achieve any of these things. The book is now at 41,050 words and is showing no signs of expanding; this is the first blog I’ve written for 8 months, and as for the rest, well let’s just say that my 2015 resolution list is going to be a tad longer than intended, with all those items I’ve carried forward.

Early every year many of us put pressure on ourselves to improve our lives, but the end of the year creeps up on us too soon and we realise (although I’m sure I don’t speak for all of us, especially those super-motivated, highly effective, super-women types) that we’ve achieved very little, and therefore feel a bit down because we’ve failed, again. So, isn’t it better to avoid resolutions altogether therefore evading the empty deflated feeling later on in the year when mega life-changing declarations turn to dust in our hands? Surely it is better to reflect upon small achievements, in whatever minuscule form they come, as and when they happen. Things like getting the rubbish out before the bin men arrive, getting that article finished before the deadline, and getting the kids school clothes washed and ironed before Monday morning. Getting these small things done make me feel so much more effective as a human being and as a mother, that I spend the rest of the day with a bounce in my step. So, with that in mind, my resolution this year will be that I will not make a resolution. Yet, I fear I’m just setting myself up to fail because alas, I know that come the New Year post-hangover fog my head will be busting not only with toxins but with all the things I want to achieve in the coming 12 months.

The elusive nature of memory

I knew memories of my childhood were elusive, like little wisps of air that hover just beyond my reach but I thought that if I actually took the time to think about it, events from my past would start to reveal themselves, but no, I can honestly say that I have little recollection of my own childhood, which is a little disconcerting to say the least.

Limit screen time for triple benefits

I’ve been trying to limit my children’s time in front of the TV since they were knee high. I know it’s bad for them but I’m not sure why, something to do with brain development. And I’ve tried, believe me, not to succumb to the gentle and mesmerising promise of a half hour’s peace at the end of a hectic day.

To future girlfriends of my sons, “I’m sorry!”

Five years ago as a mother-to-be, I hoped and prayed for a son, a golden boy who would carry his father’s genes and name into future generations like a gallant captain of destiny. To my utter delight, two years later I had a hot-headed, tantruming toddler with a penchant for sucking everything that came within his reach, including his playmate’s dummy and any old soggy fag butt that he came across on the street. I also had another six-month-old who giggled at every move the two-year-old made.

Too Many Toys?

Opening the front door I’m confronted with a sight that could suggest we’ve been burgled. I keep my eyes focused on the middle distance to avoid looking at the detritus at my feet…

Nothing to say?

I remember a time before we co-habited that I would almost burst with excitement to tell my then boyfriend about every detail of my day. We’d chat about everything from what we had for breakfast that morning, to the state of the education system, and then we’d make plans for our future together.

These days the boyfriend-who-is-now-husband finishes work and our eldest son, who insists on our full attention so that he can tell us in frustrating detail what’s been happening at school, interrupts every attempt we make to talk to each other. By the time we’ve made dinner, tucked youngest in bed and fought the eldest into his own bed, we’re both totally exhausted and we collapse in a heap on the sofa, and escape into a screen somewhere.

When we do have the energy, any attempts to talk about our respective days invariably turns into a discussion about the boys. Usually parenting tactics, or how to get broccoli into them without noticing. Husband will, on occasion, begin to talk about his work and I’ll gloss over, my mind on the school uniform that needs washing or the recent meeting of the local parents group.

As a stay-at-home mum there is little that is new and exciting for me to talk about, so I don’t usually bother. It’s not that I don’t care but unfortunately a deep and meaningful conversation with my husband about the state of the economy, unless it has something to do with Family Tax credits, comes somewhere near the bottom of my to-do list. The only time I have the mental capacity to talk to him I’m usually up to my ears in Shreddies and Marmite and before I know it he’s heading out the door to work.

I know we’re not the only ones; plenty of couples suffer from this lull in genuine communication because after so many years together there is little mystery left in the relationship. We know each other too well and there’s not much we haven’t said to each other. Sometimes I even find myself wanting to finish his sentences for him but even that takes too much effort.

This is not an unusual situation. Talk to anyone with kids and they’ll tell you a similar story. “All we ever discuss is dinner options, who is taking the eldest to rugby this weekend, and what’s on the TV,” says a friend of mine, “Conversation falls into a big black hole in our house.”

Sometimes when we’re stuck in a rut it can feel as though a relationship is ill-fated but, as the relationship experts will tell us, we have to recognise that there is contentment in being comfortable and predictable.

So what is the problem with focussing all our discussions on the kids? They are important in our lives and, over and above everything else, they are the glue of most relationships. Talking about them, even if it is mundane and day-to-day, like the progress with potty training or how much TV is permissible for a five-year-old, can help us to remember why we are together in the first place.

It’s also important we accept that relationships change over time; it’s not ever going to be the same as in the beginning when everything was fresh and new and we were just getting to know each other. It takes more effort to stay focused on one another when the monotony of family life settles in. There’s no harm in us each doing our own thing as long as long as we reconnect every now and then, so that when we are faced with an empty nest we don’t look at each other and think, ‘who the hell are you?’

Book review – Simplicity Parenting

As a parent who worries way too much about whether I am overwhelming my kids with too much choice, too many toys, and too many events, this book was a gift from heaven (well the bookshop!). Just reading the first few pages gave me that sense of comfort knowing that I was in the hands of experts who know exactly what I needed to give me perspective on how I was raising my kids.

Money – a red herring?

Is money the focus of your life? Some of my friends, and I’m mentioning no names, are so concerned with money that they will crawl over their own children to get it. They constantly compare themselves to others with a bigger house, flashier car or whose kids wear the most expensive designer clothes. So, why am I friends with these people?

Serial starter or just plain scatty?

I sit down, cup of tea and laptop in front of me, and I start tapping away. Usually I’ll begin with the novel I’ve been writing for about five years, thrashing out a scene between two central characters, which, invariably, I will later remove from the manuscript. So far, so good.

Moving day

We’ve moved house recently, and I have to say that, without a doubt, it was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done. The expectation of how it will be (like clockwork – smooth and stress free) was dramatically outplayed by the painful reality (hair pulling-out distress) not helped by the four of us coming down with possibly the worst ever case of the flu

Why kids need frustration

At a recent trip to a toy store I witnessed a G-force-strength tantrum over a Woody doll. The mother was attempting, and failing, to wrestle her whirlwind offspring into his buggy while around them other parents stared aghast at the poor woman’s attempts to pacify him. “Perhaps you can have a Woody Doll for your birthday darling.” She says as she tries to strap him in. He screams louder. “Shall we ask Grandma for one?” She tries over the din. That doesn’t work either so she quickly grabs the toy from the shelf and marches to the till.

The lure of nostalgia

I wonder if previous generations look to bygone days as often as we do? After all, nostalgia is a hot topic at the moment as shown in our increasing interest in vintage clothing and bouffant hairdos, antique furniture and aged crockery. Frugality, reminiscent of the war years, is en vogue too; making do and mending, growing our own (competition for allotments is fierce in urban areas) and the struggle against food wastage, not to mention the rise in our frequenting of charity shops and the like for the hottest (nylon-inspired) fashions.

Pick up the darn phone!

My phone pings, it’s another text from a friend. We’ve been playing text ping pong since 8 0’clock this morning and each time I reply to her I feel just a little bit guilty that I’m not actually talking to her face to face or over the telephone. I’ve come to realise that I’m actually putting my household chores in order of importance over her.

40 and not so fabulous

It seems only yesterday I was in my 30s, pre-Vertbaudet, pre-pampers and blissfully unaware of those little pump syringes that suck the mucus out of babies’ congested noses. Before I know it I’m hurtling towards my 40th so rapidly that I barely notice the two kids popping out or the ring being put upon my finger. I realise it is thirty years since I bopped around the living room to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ – Thirty Whole Years!

Square eyes (with rounded corners, apparently)

I nudge my husband who is knee deep in ‘cyber world’. “Hey,” I say, “what shall we have for dinner tonight?”
He looks across to me blankly, then something dawns and his face lights up. “I’m sure there’s an App for that,” he mutters. A quick flick and he’s downloaded something on the iPad. I wouldn’t mind but everything I ask, every discussion we have, turns, in one way or another, into an opportunity for him to gaze at one of the many screens that adorn our home.


Big School

My four-year-old will be going to school in September. I am both dreading it and looking forward to it, and it has brought up a number of issues that I would have preferred to avoid.


Alone time…

I put the key in the lock of the front door, having dropped off my two boys at preschool. The house is deadly quiet but for the gentle hush of traffic out yonder. It always seems odd somehow without the boys. I make a pot of tea and take a moment, starring at nothing. I am returning to me – not mummy, not wife, not cleaner or cook, just me.


Clothes do not a girlie girl make.

One couldn’t say that my dress sense is inspiring. I am not a dedicated follower of fashion in any sense of the word. The closest I get to fashion is running my tongue along the window of New Look.


Garden oppression

Ive done my new year’s resolutions for this year but with the few lovely days of sun we’ve had recently I feel compelled to write about my hopes for the garden in the coming summer. The sun always brings with it a feeling of anticipation for the warm days to come.


The mystery of the space time continuum

It seems only yesterday that I was at the hospital screaming my head off as my first son battled his way out of my womb. Well, actually he was a breech baby so the hospital, in it’s wisdom, decided it best for all that I had a C-section, so in fact he was yanked out of my lower abdomen, but not before he’d given me a good beating from the inside.


A promise or two

After much discussion with my husband about New Year resolutions, here is my list of promises for the coming year.

I promise to never again give husband hassle about stuff he has or hasn’t done like the man jobs around the house, which I have neither the strength nor the inclination for, but still expect him to do after a long week of working his butt off to provide for the family.


Cry Baby

Last night I sat in front of the TV and wept inconsolably at the movie I was watching. I had my chair casually turned away from my husband lest he think me a cry baby.

When the tears threatened to bubble over into downright hysteria I ran from the room on the pretext of needing a wee.


Another year over (but we havent had summer yet!)

In March of this year I was getting excited. I had intentions of putting our large garden to good use –growing all kinds of produce with the hope of becoming inter-dependent. Rather than depending solely on my husband to provide for us, instead I would help to lower costs where I could by growing my own produce. Oh the plans I had. Soups, casseroles, jams, chutneys, all from produce from the garden.


Losing my marbles?

Someone asked me the other day for the names of my children. Embarrassingly, for a moment I couldn’t answer her because i’d actually forgotten what they were. It took me a few moments before my brain switched into gear and I blurted out their names, hoping the person that had asked hadn’t realized the delay. This utter failure in motherhood was just the most recent in a long line of memory loss episodes, that turn up every now and again just to remind me of the sacrifice I made in having children.