Friday, 17 July 2015

The new normal

Years ago I explained to a friend that my Husband and I didn't even shop for food together, due to the fact he worked crazy hours running bars and was never home. That if we ever got to do a dash round Sainsburies together, it was almost an exotic event - picking out some cheese. She looked at me wide eyed and said, 'Most people just take that for granted, but you don't even get to do the mundane stuff together.'

It was true. Every night, I ate alone, or caught up with friends. Sundays were sacred days - days when we actually spent some time together, usually watching a double movie bill or lazing with starbucks and papers. Festive events, birthdays, New Years Eves - he would work, helping others to celebrate and get hammered, while I made plans with our him. I never realised just how hard it is, to be married to someone who's night is your day and day is your night.

With children, the loneliness became more acute. I couldn't just pop out to see friends, catch a movie or sink cocktails with colleagues. For a long long time, life was difficult. I envied those who could make weekend plans; had a lump in my throat when I saw happy families sitting down to brunch, felt an all consuming rage towards my other half, for somehow deserting me. I had signed up to parenthood - but not as a single parent. I distinctly remember watching the clock on a Sunday, every second hating him that little bit more, as the small hand edged towards the one. Meanwhile, I'd been up with a toddler since 6 am. 7 hours later, living in a new town knowing no one, with a small child to entertain, I was fuming...

But life is a world away from that now. Everything has changed. Both for Husband and his job, and my work too. I don't think I have ever been in a happier place. Is a weird sentence to write - I feel some bizarre sense of guilt at admitting this. Lord knows why. I've worked bloody hard to be at the place I am now... Anyway, getting paid to write means I don't have as much time, or in fact inclination, to blog. I don't have gut churning angst to pour out, anger to spill, torment to share. I feel so lucky all the time. Thanks to my kids' godfather, my Husband has a whole new life - one in which he manages my son's under 9s cricket team, assists the football coach and even plays cricket himself. (Then hobbles around like an old man, virtually in need of a stick). He goes to the gym, he has time to watch endless Seinfeld re-runs, he makes sure I get time to write. Every chore around the house is spilt 50 - 50. (I still think laundry counts as much more than the bins being brought in - but hey, I won't nit pick).

FINALLY, I am getting the opportunities to have the career I have long wanted - perhaps even longer than I ever admitted to myself. I'll never feel like I'm there fully (9 years as a freelance presenter taught me the minute you rest on your laurels, see that rug you be walking on? It be pulled from under your feet...). But I am so grateful to have the chances. I'm hoping that it fits in with being a Mother. In having more time for my kids, they are so much happier and I feel so much less stressed. I think for many years I felt incredibly insecure in my abilities as a Mother - mainly because I worked so much, and never felt I was there enough. Plus, in lots of ways I didn't want to be - because I did struggle so much with the loneliness and relentlessness of it all.

But now, aged 9 and 4.5 - it is the best thing ever to hang out with them. Who is more excited about the Minion movie this weekend - them or me? Don't get me started on Inside Out - we are counting the days...

Yesterday as I walked to school with Sproglette, I realised that this is how other people must live: working, raising kids, doing the whole schebang together... But I never had that. Plus, in the last 4 years, due to loss of jobs, leaving jobs, having a second child, paying for child care etc etc - I've been asking the church mice for a loan. As my daughter begins full time school in September, we possibly, (hopefully?) are out of the woods.

Last weekend was the best I'd had this year. The sun shone, I took my kids to Greenwich and a friend's birthday party. I was already hungover from a Mums' drinks with a hilarious bunch of women who just happen to have kids the same class. (It was a balmy evening and we sat outside a bar sipping martinis and prosecco, until the bar literally ran out). Then on Sunday, warm rain descended and with soaking wet feet and a newly purchased umbrella I arrived to hear Judy Blume talk about her new book and all her old ones... The teenager inside me danced with joy to hear her talk about Forever. Judy made me not scared to lose my virginity, not afraid to worry about my skateboard boobs, and not ashamed to will my first period to make an appearance. (How in god's name did I ever WANT a period?). Anyway it was fab.

Now school is out this week for summer. I've scripts to write, articles to post, cases to pack. Team CM is on the move for most of August, bar a few days here and there. I'm taking Sproglet to see Jaws at an outdoor cinema. The last time I saw it on the big screen I was 8. It's his fav movie and he can't wait bless him. I can honestly say I'm pretty damn excited about summer and catching up with all those I love. It's always scary to admit any kind of happiness - it's like God is just waiting for that, to then throw a massive curveball your way. Is it just a British thing that we can't relax when things are going good, so worried that the bad is on it's way?

Well, who knows what is around the corner. So while I'm now in this new normal phase, somewhere it has taken me a LONG time to get to, I'll just be grateful for every moment. Happy summer y'all. I wish you nothing but sun, sand, sea, and simply as many rose wines as you can get down your necks.

See you on the other side.