Monday, 29 November 2010

Climbing mountains

Husband and I climbed many mountains on Saturday - all from the comfort of our own home.

The day hadn't started well. You see Husband hasn't got a UK driving license. Yes, he can drive - better than me, thought that aint saying much - but his Aussie license expired many moons ago and so in order to drive in this country he needs to sit a theory test and then a practical one. Months ago I highlighted the fact that come next Monday - 6th Dec - I will be unable to drive for 6 weeks post section. I suggested he get his cute butt in gear and had some lessons and did his tests. No - I didn't actually suggest it. I demanded it. I gave him ONE THING to do during my 9 month pregnancy - while I did blood tests and scans, and midwives and dressing a fucking bump and all that jazz - he had one thing to sort: to get his license here. He eventually had a couple of lessons in October and finally enrolled for the theory test (which you have to do first). That was 3 weeks ago. I drove him there - he had been practising apps on his i-phone for 3 days solid, on the questions he would be asked. He was buoyant, confident - his average score 48 out of 50. A cert to pass and then the practical test to do. He'd have that in the bag - as he is a more than capable driver.

But he only brought the plastic part of his UK provisional license with him. It is the only piece they carry in Australia. But not here. Nope, in the UK, they need the green bit of paper too. They wouldn't let him sit the test - he blamed UK bureaucracy and I blamed him for being an idiot.

Cue test no 2. Arranged for Sat at 4pm. Now on Fri I had emailed him - an 'end of my tether - I would rather be a single fucking parent than be in this relationship anymore' email that had provoked all sorts of discussions: him accusing me of being 9 months preggers, irrational and hormonal - and unfair to boot, seeing as he has had no assistant in his busiest period of the year. Me: agreeing that I may be hormonal, but also stressing that a week or two of single parenthood and no work has given me clarity of thought.

So, I pick up Sproglet's best mate - we are off to see 'Megamind.' Sproglet's best mate calls it 'Nevermind.' I think on reflection, he may be a genius child film critic and he doesn't even know it. Anyway, I make lunch and Husband and I are cordial at best. He opens the letter of confirmation re: his test. The test I have begged and cajoled him into. His face goes white, then red. And I know. Something is amiss.

I ask him - but he just brushes it off. I ask again - what is wrong? He says nothing. Then he realises that he can't get out of it - so he admits, the test was on the 25th. He got the day wrong - he'd missed it. 8 days until we have a baby and he STILL hasn't done his fecking theory let alone the major practical test. The ONE THING I asked of him. I was so angry, so disappointed, words failed me. I sat down on shaky legs as the tears came and I said two words: 'I'm done.'

He knew he'd fucked up - he tried to say sorry, tried to appeal to me, but I wasn't having any of it. How can I keep relying on a man who cannot be replied upon? It felt like the last blow - the last straw. Words were exchanged but I wasn't listening, I just kept telling him I was done and off I went to stuff my face with ice cream and watch a blue alien try and take over the planet with 2 small giddy children.

When I came home the kids ran off to play and I staggered upstairs feeling more weary than I have done in years. I lay on my bed and cried. Husband gingerly approached, watery eyed and full of sadness - for everything. It all came out - my story on repeat detailed in my last blog post, my inability to be so lonely again - my fears for my sanity post baby, how I can't do it any more. We talked and talked and... we turned a big corner. He heard me. He listened. He finally got it.

Things are going to change he said. I wanted to believe him - and I have to take that chance. Since Saturday they have. Small changes but significant ones. He took today off to accompany me to my pre op meeting. He got up and took Sproglet to school, made his packed lunch. Tonight I lit a fire, made a huge pasta dish and we ate as a family. Tomorrow Sproglet and I are off to his hotel (where he works, not owns!) for dinner. We're getting the tree on Sat. Decorating it with camp glitzy balls that a gay man would be proud of. We huddled together in bed last night, wrapped in many blankets against these freezing temperatures. He is excited about the baby. It feels like a marriage. A partnership. He's going to make changes at work so we get breakfasts together and 2 more meals a week. He's going to make more effort to get up and do family stuff. He doesn't want to lose us and he knows that I have never been more serious than I was on Saturday.

We climbed mountains on Saturday, we really did.

The view from the top is pretty damn good.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

What's your story?

So here's mine:

Once upon a time there was a girl who had been single for many years. She kissed lots of frogs but never managed to find a prince. They were all handsome and dull or great craic but deeply unattractive. She looked for love in all the wrong places: with with boys who couldn't or wouldn't commit or boys who lived in far away lands and married supermodels. If a boy liked her she immediately didn't like them. Long before she discovered what self esteem was all about.

Anyway one day the girl opened a door to what she thought were toilets, but turned out to be the hotel kitchens and she sent a handsome (bar)man flying. They talked, he gave her free drinks, she gave him her number. He called and after much deliberation she called him back. They met for coffee on the hottest day of the year and talked movies. He called again. They kissed for the first time in a dirty grimy bar at about 1am and she smelled smoke - he had set his T shirt on fire on the table candle. On their second date a friend of hers tragically died and the man was very sweet. On the day of the friend's funeral he rang the girl to see how she was doing and when she asked how he was he replied 'I didn't call to talk about my day, I called to ask about yours.' She knew then he was the one. He was always working nights but she didn't mind - she did too - presenting on a stupid games channel. They had days for movies and lunches and falling in love. It was blissful.

They married a year to the day of the first coffee date in secret, then he proposed a year later and a year after that they wed - near Halloween. A year later she was pregnant and 9 months later Sproglet was born on June 21st 2006. So far, so good. They'd weathered all sorts of job loss storms, illnesses, stress, money worries, the whole shebang. Now when the girl met the man, he was more of a boy. Of 24 - to her 28. She'd been a gal about town, just bought her own flat in London. He'd lived in a youth hostel as he was a grubby traveller, earning a crust as a jobbing barman. But he was ambitious and he got an assistant bar manager job at a fancy city bar on a roof top and then became manager and then went to a 5 star swanky hotel and managed the bar there. The girl didn't mind - she had a packed diary and a tonne of mates. Free cocktails - bonus. They often met for late suppers and hung out when she wasn't presenting - they had time. But as the years worn on and the girl got pregnant she began to taste loneliness. She felt it most acutely after the baby was born. She was left to care for the bairn and fearful of other Mothers, she hid away, chained to a baby's routine, bouncing off walls. She ended up on anti - depressants a year later. She tried to tell him - but he didn't listen. Or didn't want to. 'You knew what you were getting when you married me' he would reply.

She eventually changed careers when the presenting work dried up (as it tends to do for women of 35 and over)- but this career was full time - no more lazy lunches or hanging out - and they moved house. Her working full time and the man with his crazy hours, a baby and no family help was a recipe for disaster and the marriage began to crumble. I love him she sighed, but I hate his job. But the man started to have weekends off and it got a bit better. She lost her job, then got it back briefly and somewhere along the line got pregnant again.

Now she is about to have baby no 2 and the same lonely story is back on repeat. They sleep in separate rooms as she is so enormous with child - and he gets to bed at 3am. They don't ever eat breakfast together. They only eat dinner together on weekends. She is lonely. Again. Like a single parent without the status. She does every breakfast alone with her son - and dinner every week night. She bathes with her son at bath time and tries to cheer herself up with books and inane television. But somewhere deep inside it isn't the life she expected. This single parent type life. When the man comes home he is very tired and has had to be so social with his work he doesn't want to talk to her. She is lonely even when he is home.

How did I end up here she wonders? Love has led her down a solitary path. She dreams of it being different but the man doesn't know how to change his job and still retain his salary - especially in these lean times. She foresees a life of bringing up two kids alone. She despairs and on hormonal days the tears fall. She wonders how to change it but feels like her story is on repeat: I hate his job she sighs. I love him but I hate his job.

She remembers having this conversation two years ago with a dear friend who was moving to LA. A year even before that. Since the baby was born. The baby is now 4 and a half. Still the story is the same. She wonders if it will ever change - and if so, will she be the one to say 'enough.'


I saw an old friend today. A girl I used to paint the town red with and who has shared my triumphs and traumas. She has just had her first baby - having never wanted kids - at 40. We went to her local nail bar - while she had a manicure and I had a blissful pedicure. Oh my god, feet in hot water - so comforting! Especially as my ankles are cankles with a deep red ridge where my socks cut off the blood supply. Anyway - we were talking about life, our men, the usual issues. She talked about her partner always being beholden to his ex wife and the child from his previous relationship. It is a well worn story that has been going on for 9 years or more. She said, 'that is my story.' It doesn't change - it will possibly never change.

She explained to me that no matter who we are with - it will never be perfect. We will never have our happy ever afters like the fairy tales. Because life is messy and hard and complicated. So we need to accept what we have and work with it. She has a point. Maybe because I have been so alone since last Thursday when I finished work - maybe because my work helps me define myself, and yet I will be jobless for the next 4-5 months at least, maybe because I am exhausted and hormonal, maybe because I am scared about becoming a parent again, maybe because I remember the deep dark lonely days of before, I just felt like - I can't do this any more. It would be easier surely to be a single parent? To get every other weekend off - to myself - and maybe find someone who can eat dinner with me, have a life with me, who is there in mind and spirit and isn't shattered from their vampire like existence?

Maybe we all have a story - one that keeps repeating - like a track that refuses to leave the charts for an age. Bryan Adam's Everything I do - 16 weeks at no 1 in fecking 1990. Hideous track that wouldn't go away. Maybe we have to accept it - or can we change it? Does it take more balls to face this fucking repeat cycle or more balls to walk away from it? I don't know, I don't have any answers. I wish I knew other peoples' stories - maybe then I wouldn't feel so alone in mine.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Life, nay, soft furnishings envy

I admit it.

I have life envy. Often. Husband teases me about it constantly - usually when I bemoaning my lack of 6 bedroomed Victorian detached mansion replete with office above garage and room for a housekeeper/nanny having read some article in some Sunday supplement or other.

Actually it tends to happen when I hunker down with the latest LIVING ETC. magazine ( and ooh and ahh over a rug/sofa/kitchen opening out onto decking/cool mirror/fancy accessories. I never stop to think that A. the house featured NEVER looks like this - only for 10 mins while the damn photo was being taken and it was emptied of all normal living items and replaced with a stylist's fairy lights/ token books/ throw/ white things that would never last in a house with kids for more than two seconds or B. The women who lives there hasn't been shagged by her husband in 2 years and spends her life decorating and running up debt because she is so depressed or C. She spends all her life doing up her house and hasn't relaxed in said house since 1985 - she checks the cooker is off 25 times a day and sends the kids to boarding school lest they scratch the white varnished floors...

But life envy - it's all over the place. Rife where I grew up - everyone looking over everyone else's fence to check out who was driving what/wallpapering what/drinking what/doing whom... I can distinctly remember our family sharing a phoneline (in the days when you did) with the street gossip - and her breathing quietly as she listened in to my inane phonecalls to schoolmates... People get all insecure when their friends start to have more than them, afford better holidays, schools and shoes... Actually I don't - as I'm pretty happy with my lot - and I genuinely aint materialistic - but I do hanker for a few home improvements it has to be said.

And yes, reading about model Laura Bailey (don't think she works much mind) having a housekeeper to do all her laundry and food shopping/cooking/cleaning - and a nanny too - did invoke stirrings of a 'oh the lucky bitch' in me. Instead of folding a small country's worth of socks etc while watching 'I'm a celebrity GMOOH' wearing sweatpants and maternity bras, if I was in Laura's high heeled designer shoes I'd be tripping the light fantastic at fashiony events in London and coming home to a fridge stocked with home made leftovers and a closet filled with folded ironed clothes. Bet Laura really misses mopping the floors and trying to find a car parking space in Waitrose on a Saturday avo; doing the nit check and stressing that her kids haven't got their swim kit ready in time for this week's lesson. It must be hell cooped up in a mansion in Notting Hill with a bathroom the size of my house and a knicker drawer filled with Agent Provocateur's finest. Not that I am yellow and round and bitter shaped... nope, not me.

Sometimes it creeps up on us... Friends disappear because they can't handle our joy (I've been de-friended on Facebook by someone since I announced my pregnancy) just as quickly as friends vanish when they don't know how to react if something bad happens... Admit it - when a colleague got a promotion over you and you wished them well, deep down you didn't mean it - you were thinking 'Bastard! That job was mine dammit!' Or when a buddy shows off her size 8 trousers who was always the 'frumpy mate' you feel a sense of unease that your size 10/12s are starting to dig in ever since last Xmas? It's easier to commiserate that celebrate sometimes - but one thing I have learned, is that if you are happy in general, it's pretty hard to be miserable at other folk's joy. Or to have life envy.

On reflection, I don't have life envy - just home furnishings envy. Must be all this fucking nesting I am doing as I count down the days. A week on Monday and I won't have time for any kind of envy - except perhaps for those who sleep. Or Laura and her live in Nanny...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Bah humbug

God I am a misery.

Blame it on my hormones. Or maybe I am just a miserable bastard at heart. I shouldn't read women's magazines - fashiony ones - as we all know the statistics - that reading them makes you feel worse about yourself by about a million per cent or whatever.

But I needed a smidgen of glamour in my life. My life that today started at 3am when Sproglet came in to say he was scared - of what? Who knows - but he duly went back to bed. I curled up and.... stayed awake. Joy. Add in a few bathroom trips and when I awoke this morning from a bizarre dream I looked like someone had punched me in the eyes. I felt shattered. Husband had stayed at work so I had to sort out the laundry, take out the re-cycling (and slip on the icy decking, bashing my knee and causing tears before 8:15am). Then I couldn't get the fucking re-cycling tubs past the bins what with my bump and all. The TV stopped working. The dish washer packed up - and cos Husband hadn't paid BT on time - no calls allowed from the home phone either. Happy days.

So I popped out of the office today for a decaf and bought myself some mags - all festive and full of what to wear! How to decorate your home! Xmas gifts for everyone! Evening make-up! Tis the season to discover your inner fox! Etc etc. God it made me depressed. I so want to buy a foxy dress and A. fit into it. B. Have a fucking reason to wear it in the first place. C. Afford said foxy dress. But I have none of the above. All those towering Louboutins - I'm thinking, I interviewed Christian - twice! Including at his offices in Paris before Stella McCartney's first ever show for Chloe - and now, now the closest I get to a killer heel is stroking a glossy magazine with misty eyes.

At the moment my wardrobe is - one pair of maternity jeans that fit and a pair of grim leggings. A few tops that try and hold in my chest and bras that are like swaddling a newborn. I have no idea on earth on how any woman feels at her best at this time - all glowing and sexy. I couldn't feel less myself if I tried.

I'm biting the bullet - or anything I can get my teeth upon - and having a bikini wax on Fri. Gawd help the woman who has to do it - she'll probably charge me double. I have a feeling she may weep with the stress of it all. Meanwhile a friend who has just become a Mum at 40 has booked us in for pedicures next Thurs. I have only had 2 in my life. It is a big treat. My roots are being blonded on Monday. I need some pampering goddammit.

I keep thinking of Xmas past - when I kissed boys in unisex toilets and made booty calls to unsuitables; fell down private member's club's stairs into the tree after one too many; of TV parties filled with vodka luges - my tongue getting stuck to one in the shape of a naked Adonis; of mistletoe in my hair and a spring in my step - as I gatecrashed one Xmas bash in Soho after another.

Now - now the highlight of my week is fucking X factor and a mince pie. Where did it all go wrong? The mags telling me what sparkly dress or leather trousers to don with my smokey eyes and glossy lips - ha! If only... imagine trying to shove my dimply thighs post birth into leather strides... oh the horror.

Sorry - I am Scrooge I know....

Saturday, 13 November 2010


Gee I'm nervous.

About all sorts. For starters I'm not exactly jazzed at the thought of the pre-op meeting at hospital, where those helpful Docs explain to me how my organs may all fail and how I may die and all on the operating table, having my section. Plus I have to give MORE blood. And wee. And be prodded etc. No vajayjay exam though - hurrah!

Then helpful folk keep telling me about babies coming early - when my wee bundle of joy is meant to appear on Dec 6th - 3 weeks on Monday. I'm nervous about the whole section business as well - even though I've had one before - and I know what to expect. I remember how I hated the tubes going in my arms - worst bit - and then the whole messy recovery: Husband heading to the pub as I quietly vomited into what looked like an egg box, a sanitary blanket underneath me which slid off the bed during the night to greet the 'breast is best' pushers as they appeared under my curtain at 9am - a gory welcome mat to deter visitors. Sadly it didn't work. Catheters, suppositories, the pain of breast feeding... and feeling like you have to try even when you never want to look at your nipples ever again, let alone try and stuff them into the mouth of a small squealing baby - who by the way, has gums made of steel.

Then the whole newborn bit - the terror of a baby that won't settle, the exhaustion, the disappointment when you realise than maternity jeans are here to stay for about 4-5 weeks more... God I'm scared. How to cope with a baby when I have Sproglet too. Plus Xmas...

Yesterday I was at work (working on a different thing - a small 10 min film, not the usual soap) and a long serving member of staff left. She was giddy with joy at the thought of her new job as a script ed at a fab independent tv company on a big 6 part drama. It was definitely her time to go - and it brought back me leaving - way back at the end of March... The tears and the sadness, the relief, the angst, the whole shebang.

Another long timer script ed handed in her notice - she is leaving drama and is off to work for a charity in a cushy 9-5 job ten mins from her home. As a single parent this kind of job is the holy grail. I'm delighted for both these women - and it got me thinking - what am I moving on to? I'm having a baby - which feels like an easy route to take after losing one's job (albeit that I have been back since Aug - someone likened me to a cockroach - they just can't get rid of me). But come this Thurs, when I wrap filming - that is it. The brief time back at my old work will end. I don't want my old job back - I really have done my time on soap operas - there are only so many mad pregnant women having affairs with their sister's husband's dad's hamster's gay lover stories one can cope with - but what next for me?

For the woman who refused to be defined simply as a Mother - that will be my only job. I'm silly I know - but I'm scared. Not so much of the immediate life changes - there will be visitors and crappy Xmas movies on TV and all that festive malarkey... But come long dark depressing January...

I keep worrying that the baby will be ok - will be healthy and everything working correctly. These thoughts haunt me daily. I'm so nearly there - will it all be ok? I feel like the last couple of weeks sanity has left the building and I'm one mess of nerves and fears and contrary emotions all wrapped up in one big hormonal pair of maternity jeans.

Why can't I ever just enjoy the fucking moment? Step back and think - let's enjoy the 'now.' A friend at work mentioned how I should be enjoying my baby a few months back and not worrying about how to make ends meet/find a job/sort childcare etc post baby. I was struck - it hadn't even occurred to me to 'enjoy' - all I could think about was all the obstacles and how to overcome them. Christ I wish I could relax. I like a full diary, seeing people, being busy. Come Thurs it all stops. The diary is fairly empty save for a last minute baby shop and a couple of visitors - the vague notion of getting a tree for Sproglet on Dec 4th, 2 days before D - or rather 'C' day.

Then - a whole new world. One I really wanted, really want. But why is it all so daunting? Even for someone who has done it all before?

Saturday, 6 November 2010


I realised something about myself this week. I was bored. It was Thursday. Sproglet had skipped off to school, I'd done my chores and watched all my Sky+ programmes (is it me or is there feck all worth watching on TV at the mo?? I feel my life could soon become a box set - with Mad Men at the top. A must watch apparently). This was before I went to meet Sproglet's teacher and before I had just got home from that and finally got a park miles from our house - and then got a call from school that I had to return immediately as Sproglet had had a violent attack of the squits. It was also before I had to take the poor wee man for 2 big needle jabs for MMR2 and a booster. He howled. I felt like the devil for lying to him that we were going to the docs for the Dr to check on the baby. Yes, before all those joyous moments of my day - I was lying on the sofa - mind numbingly bored.

I don't do 'relaxing' very well unless I'm on a beach or in a movie theatre. Takes a helluva lot to quieten my mind. Anyway - the thought occurred to me that in 2 weeks I will finish my job and have 2 more weeks, then baby will be here. I've been so excited about NOT being pregnant any more I have kind of forgotten that in not being preggers I will also then have a baby to deal with. I've made a list of stuff I need and am starting to think about it - a bit. I'm also starting to remember how lonely I was when Sproglet was small. How mind numbing I found the happy clappy groups, how inferior I felt to other Mothers, how desperate I felt when the only person I talked to in a day was the woman at the Sainsburies check out counter. I can't go through that again.

I like working. No, strike that. I love working. When it is good that is. Like yesterday - I was in a small office with 3 people I admire and like and respect - and it was nothing short of fun. I get a lot out of teamwork and challenges and people and projects and good scripts - and even bad ones. I don't want to stay at home with a baby all day, bouncing off the walls and trying to entertain 2 kids. My brain shuts down. I'm not judging those who do - my god, it is the hardest job of all. But even if my Husband won the lottery tomorrow - I think I'd still work. It feeds me mentally.

Which begs the question - why have kids? I don't know. I love my son above all. I really enjoy time with him. Just not 24/7. The thing that I have struggled with most is retaining my sense of self and not just being a Mother.

When I'm around some other Mums I feel like a different breed: I don't want to give birth, I don't want to breast feed - for the sake of everyone and my breasts eclipsing the sun - I don't want to talk about kids all day. I've banged on about this enough. But lying on my couch on Thurs, bored, I realised - it is time to stop beating myself up - feeling like a poor second best Mum to all those stay at home, organic baking, breast feeding, craft worshipping mega Mums. I am me. I know what I want and I'm gonna make it happen next year.

I'm a happier person for it and that makes a happier and better Mother. I don't care what anyone else thinks. Well I do. But I'm going to try not to. Roll on baby and hopefully another job. It'll be tough - but at least I'll never be bored.