Monday, 22 June 2015

"Happy Daughter Day"

(this post is dedicated to all those celebrating Father's Day today by fondly sifting through delicious memories and special moments and not necessarily with the tangible presence of their beloved Dads...)

The other day I was chatting to my mum when she mentioned that she was only a few years older than I am now when cruising around Amsterdam with me and the husband pre-marriage in our yellow camper van 'Mellow Yellow.'  Let's not even get into how highly unorthodox it was (though a testament to how cool my mum was) to have a parent tag along with you and your boyfriend for three weeks on the continent when barely out of your teens...or that in hindsight, Amsterdam may not perhaps have been the natural destination for such a threesome.

What freaked me out was the fact that TIME IS RACING BY with such disconcerting speed that my brain keeps internally flashing a "DOES NOT COMPUTE" sign when confronted by a timescale as skewed as this. It cannot be. No way am I that old.  I call time and insist on a recount!

I am so busy being preoccupied these days by banal issues such as housing, schooling, child rearing, etc. that I am missing le grande picture.  For real.

Today being 'Father's Day' was a rude awakening to how precious life is and how much I should be grateful for.  Without getting too mushy and 'faux deep' about it, I just want to say that spending today with my nearly 81 year old Dad was a special privilege that jolted a healthy dose of much-needed reality into my weary brain.

I have so many (too many) friends who today, were not able to sit across the table from their father and clink glasses and share a smile.  Many friends who would have given anything to have one more afternoon with their beloved Dad and get the chance to tell him how great a guy he is and how much they have loved having him in their lives.  Or maybe to just share a beer and a few stupid jokes.

I got that chance.  And for that I feel so lucky.  My Dad isn't just a loving parent, but one of my best friends.  I adore his dry sense of humour and the way he sees the little girl in me when most only see a weary mother of three.

I love how my Dad is almost always right about people and situations...even when it pisses me off. How many people can lay claim to having their very own Yoda - one who not only doesn't dispense advice unless asked - but truly believes you could be ruler of the universe should you so desire.  (fyi MasterCard...that is priceless.)

There are many things I lack:  the ability to make a spreadsheet, organisational skills, a UK driving license, the ability to walk by a designer sale and not have a wee little peek inside, etc...just to name a few.  But one thing I have never lacked is foresight.

Since childhood when I recall sobbing in the bath after my grandparents bid me goodbye and it dawned on me that they were getting older and wouldn't be around forever, I have always been aware of the transitory nature of life.  It has plagued me forever, even through the reckless, relentless and seemingly endless days and years of University and Travel.

And now, at this age, this stage, and with a perspective one has to earn not learn, I gratefully accept the gift of my parents, and that is something I am going to continue to treasure and make a priority in my life.

And after a fabulous day spent with my one and only Dad on Father's Day, I have (as my mother likes to call it) yet another 'golden coin' for my 'memory bank'.

Lucky girl.

my wise ol' mum

oh what a perfect day...

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

"The One Where I Pretend to be 'Sporty Mum'..."

Triumphant Medal 

I don't think that in the arsenal of descriptive words used to describe me, the word 'athletic' would pop up in the Top Ten.  Come to think of it, it's very doubtful that it would even make it onto the Top 100.

Now don't get me wrong.  I run, swim (strictly warm seas though - I deplore swimming pools and don't do cold), play tennis, table tennis, and once played defence for a whole season in football when I was twelve. Does that count?

What I don't do is cycling (sorry husband, but riding home pissed with you from Soho on my powder pink Brompton at stupid o'clock is about as adventurous as I get on two wheels...I simply cannot abide by the vile spandex costuming required by MAMILS in order not to chafe ones undercarriage. Besides, I have great respect for that undercarriage thank you very much and wish to preserve it in its current state well into my dotage).

I also don't do team sports.  My husbands says that's because I am not (and I quote) "a team player". True.  But I also don't like getting sweaty, running around a field and getting shoved or knocked into. I like my space.  Maybe if I could wear headphones whilst roaring around to "Rage Against the Machine" I could discover some unbridled passion for 'sport' but somehow I can't see it.

I also don't 'get' team sports and all the stopping/starting/scoring and the legions of fans that stand on the sidelines clapping/screaming/chanting.  I will watch Wimbledon, but that's as much for the strawberries and cream as it is for the short white skirts, headbands and tanned legs.  It's a good look.

So imagine my surprise when Squit and I rocked up to Egg's cricket championship against 18 other schools in the borough yesterday (check me out - it's a bonafide fact and it makes me sound knowledgable don't it?).  Husband, if you're reading this, I was the ONLY PARENT there from the class (ahem) cheering from the sidelines with the fat baby yelling, "Go Eggie" every time he came up for bat.
Proud little 'brudder'
(Note: Egg had to jog over at one point during a break in the game and gently explain the finer points of point scoring to me as I had apparently been cheering at the wrong parts...but I think i've got it now.)

Anyway, Egg's amazing coach smiled and walked over after the first match, probably curious about which of his charges belonged to the cheering baby and mum in ripped jeans, bright red lipstick and black RayBans, crashed out on a bright red blanket with her laptop case she got bored?
my dude...being a Sporto...who would have thunk it?
We watched Egg's team decimate two different schools and I even eavesdropped whilst two parents from a losing team gossiped about how Egg's school had this legendary coach who was responsible for all their wins so it wasn't strictly fair (thankfully I managed to keep my mouth shut and stifle my inner hooligan).

I then watched Egg smash some amazing balls, throw like a pro, and dare I say I FINALLY got that feeling of PSP (Parental Sporting Pride) watching my little guy perform like a star.  But more importantly, I finally GOT IT.

I GOT that FEELING that I've only ever seen on sitcoms or dramas (think opening scene in 'Weeds'), of being a real live proper 'Soccer Mum' or 'Hockey Mum' or whatever you want to call it. Grimacing when Egg missed a ball, ears prickling with pride when he was cheered on by know what I'm talking about.  In fact I'm probably the last one to 'get it'.
moments after a killer 'thwack' of the cricket ball
So I guess the moral of this story is that you CAN sometimes teach an old broad new tricks.  Which means that the husband probably shouldn't line up a divorce solicitor quite yet (he has been threatening that ever since he announced that he plans to spend his sunset years on the back of a bicycle and I can either join him or bugger off.)

Maybe, just maybe if I can turn into 'Sporty Mum' for a day, then who knows...getting me into some crotch-grabbing lycra might not be completely outside the realm of possibility.

Then again, as I make my second cappuccino of the morning and type, I smile knowingly to myself and think, "the knees...the knees" and wonder if it's not wisest to just sit back, let the years roll by and the husbands joints do the talking.

I'm not giving up on romantic rail or first class air travel just yet :)

Monday, 8 June 2015

"Home Alone 6...Anyone Fancy a Game of Black Jake?"

Bye-Bye husband (far left)...hello week of hell
Yesterday morning the husband departed (with two other equally mad mates) to spend five gruelling days cycling the Pyrenees.  He tells me with nervous glee that it will be the equivalent of doing Everest...twice (gulp).

Normally I'd be sympathetic, but truth is, he gets off on pain (not the Fifty Shades type alas), and besides - he's leaving me with the monsters to single-handedly 'hold down the fort'.  Of the two of us, I'm the one freaking out.

You know in those cheesy Hollywood films where the well-intentioned but useless adult stays home to take care of the kids, and the wife comes back to find everything trashed, the kids re-inacting 'Lord of the Flies', and the lone parent is found dazed in a chair staring woodenly ahead, utterly destroyed?

Well that's me. Pretty much every day.

You'd think that by boy number three I'd be a seasoned, 'broken-in' parent.  Not so.  If anything, I've become even more vulnerable...incredulous that this raving bunch of lunatics not only belong to me...forever...but actually issued forth from my loins...voluntarily!

The other day my Hungarian builder, watching me work alongside him for 11 hours like a crazed washerwoman, scrubbing nose pickings off of our lovely reupholstered chair, magic marker off the walls, and picking idiotically at stickers that will NEVER come off my antique mirror, finally felt led to remark, "Mother of boys is hard, no?  Very much work." I smiled wearily. "Yes...sometimes I just want to die." (Turns out that's T.M.I.)

The thing is, it's not just that they're smelly, messy destructive creatures who roam the house constantly foraging for 'treats' and other contraband.  They also have the ability to reduce me to tears or screams.  Sometimes both.  And that's despite them being totally adorable and funny and clever and all the rest.

Take last weekend.  Lying in bed semi-awake listening to my beloved BBC6 on the radio, I was distantly aware of Egg creeping in and whispering, "Mama, what's your phone number again?"  I mumbled the digits whilst dimly acknowledging that Egg was probably trying to memorise my mobile in case he ever needed it in emergency.

Not so.  He simply needed it to verify my details in order to authorise a MasterCard purchase of £280 worth of virtual chips on the gambling website he has apparently been frequenting with abandon for some time (using the husband's picture as his avatar to get over the age restriction clause).

Now we're not idiots.  We have been onto this for a long time...ever since we clocked him several months ago, watery-eyed and blinking back tears as he proudly proclaimed to a guest at his cousin's christening that he was currently ranked number 17th in the world in Black Jack on this particular gambling site.  That was in response to a simple, "...we hear you're rather clever at Maths?"  We thought we had closed. that. mother. down.

The thing is, my children are all crack whores of the internet.  Be it ipads, ipods, laptops or my iphone, they will connive, sneak, manipulate and even try and lock me in my bedroom by tying up my doorknob with skipping rope in order to gain unsupervised access to one of the plethora of devices we have littering our (apparently unsellable) home.  (At last count Eggie noted seven odd laptops lying around...) Squit and I are a familiar sight on our road: me propelling our battered old MacLaren pushchair past ladies-who-lunch, loaded up with too much shopping, and a toddler in front glued to an iphone playing video games...(conveniently hanging up on anyone who might ring and disrupt his point scoring).

It's not that I'm freaked out by the amount of time they spend in the virtual world (I am, but bigger fish to fry an' all that...) but shocked that despite the husband being a virtual I.T. genius, more than up to the job of online policing, Egg is nevertheless thriving in his latest twin pursuits of hacking and online gambling. Fully aware that his once sharp parents are becoming more feeble-minded, he is taking full advantage of our limited array of passwords to put his hacking skills to full use.

Still, nearly £300 out of pocket, Egg is insistent that I not share this latest 'disaster' with the rest of the family.  So I'm sharing it with the rest of the world.  (Of course by the time he figures this out he'll be well into adulthood and will no doubt look back on it with a sense of humour...the husband and I may have even rediscovered ours by that point).

Which brings me to my question:

Who has it harder this week?

The husband traversing epic mountains using only his gnarly shaven legs, disgusting liquid gels in lieu of food, and sheer determination...or me - armed with a xanax spiked glass of Pinot Grigio in one hand and a mop in the other, facing down three formidable adversaries, determined to BRING ME DOWN.

(note: it would be unfair of me at this point to omit the fact that on Thursday evening I shall be flying to Barcelona for a long weekend to help the husband celebrate his triumphant feat...leaving les monsters in the hands of my beloved Sis - who I PRAY TO GOD is not reading this blog right now)

Friday, 5 June 2015

"A Disclaimer...And Stuff"

care packet from my mum in Canada...LOVE HER (only she would send me my favourite 'Hickory Sticks' at a heart attack inducing postage cost...bless her, it has made my day :)
To those who don't know me terribly well, and to those who take me at face value, I realise with hindsight that I just may have come off as a bit of a twat the other day.  I mean, what the heck...complaining about not being able to upsize ones domicile in this ISIS age of atrocities and world disasters is not only pathetic, but terribly small minded. that end let me add a better-late-than-never disclaimer:  

"I, MoaningMum, hereby recognise my inherent proclivity to be consumed with problems that a great percentage of the world's population would love to have to wrestle with.  And I am sorry if my virtual whining has been the cause of any sort of reflux action on behalf of my readers. HOWEVER (and this is a big however), things are never  in 'real life' as they appear online.  We all know that. So bear in mind that some things are just too personal (and too horrible) to make public. Life is hard and a lot of the time it a BIG way.  I try and make light of it when I can, and try to make myself laugh instead of sobbing all day in front of box sets whilst shovelling family sized bars of chocolate into my gob." (Ah, wait a minute.  Maybe strike that last bit?)

Truth is, I have merely touched upon, not even properly delved into, the disaster that has been my life this past year.  As an 'Outgoing Introvert', I am loathe to bare my soul over a bottle of wine (make it two or three and it's a different story), nor will I ring friends in time of need and beg for much needed help and support.  It's just not me.  I keep things PRIVATE with a capital P. So when I (truthfully) claim that this past year has been one of the worst in history...I meant it.  (And it ain't just about a house.)

Now let's move along shall we?

Yesterday when I broke the tragic news of Bacon's kidnapping, I neglected to mention that poor Egg had already been in a state of great distress having already lost his two favourite possessions:  a threadbare jumper which he adored and pretty much wore 24/7 for a year (except for when I'd cunningly extract it from his body and chuck it in for a much-needed wash) AND his wallet...containing several years of his savings from birthdays and doting grandparents. (My father in particular is never to know of this as it was he who vastly contributed to the booty during several trips to Florida and Toronto, when he'd hand Egg a wad of cash and lovingly instruct him to buy himself a treat. Only Egg never did.  He'd stash it.)
my beloved Egg...
We had begged him not to bring his beloved wallet to Goa, had tried to take it off him a thousand times, but to no avail.  Wherever he went - it went. One evening, panic-stricken, he felt in his pocket and discovered it was gone.  We all ran desperately up and down the beach straining our eyes in the hazy twilight, but to no avail.  (Here I must confess that we were not so much fuelled by empathy, but greed...)

Anyway, such is life.  Losing Bacon would of course eclipse the jumper and wallet fiasco, and with the addition of what we now refer to as 'The Airport Incident' and returning home to find that we had been outbid on our 'Dream Home on the Common'...well, I should have just thrown in the towel there and then.

Cuz guess was all downhill from there.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

"Once In A Lifetime..."

"And you may ask yourself What is that beautiful house? 
And you may ask yourself 
Where does that highway go to? 
And you may ask yourself 
Am I right?...Am I wrong? 
And you may say to yourself yourself 
My God!...What have I done?! "

Okay, so it's been a while.  Fine...a long, long while since I've posted.  I could lie and say that I've been 'too busy' (true, but not valid), or that I have been too despondent (getting closer to the truth), or that we've been so preoccupied with moving into our new home that we simply haven't had time for creative pursuits (downright bollocks - there IS NO new house dammit).

Ah, and there's the rub.  "THE HOUSE" situation.  Or rather, the utter lack thereof.  There is no house and I can't even imagine there ever being a house for us lot.  True dat.

I'm not used to losing...but maybe I should start getting used to it.  It would make my current life more habitable emotionally.  For you see, starting from January 2014 it feels like we've (barely) survived one loss after another.  Let me explain:

January 2014 saw us returning back from a lovely sojourn in Goa.  It also saw us missing our flight back to London due to being ensconced in a 5* still-under construction Mumbai hospital en famille, as little Squit (nearly two at the time) almost lost his pinkie finger due to an accident in the airport involving a heavy cement door.  Nightmare.  After an emergency nail-biting operation followed by a few days convalescing in a private room (during which the husband slept with the baby in his hospital bed, I crashed on the couch, and the other two shared the other hospital bed), we were finally ready to head back home.  But not before a middle of the night theft (we suspect the male nurse) of all cash from the husbands wallet, several group selfies from various members of staff (including surgeons) who kept up a constant stream of visitation and insisted on getting their picture with our fat blond baby in a cast, and countless reruns of 'Vampire Diaries' whilst we gorged on takeaways and tried to figure out the 'hot water running times' for our private shower.

But I digress.  Thankfully Squit got to keep his finger (very close call), and my penance for not having anticipated this spontaneous near-amputation was to be months of doctors visits in hospital and two additional surgeries.

However that wasn't the only thing lost that trip.  En route through security at the airport, Egg somehow managed to lose his best friend in the world...his treasured teddy bear 'Bacon' who he has literally had since birth and spent every day/night of his life with (aside from Bacon's few month sojourn in Florida when he was accidentally left at Grandpa's after a visit).  It was only as we wearily waited to board that Egg sat upright and started screaming.  I thought he'd been burnt or something, but he'd realised that Bacon was missing and he had no idea where he was.
last sighting of Bacon in Mumbai airport :(

What followed suit was a panicked race through the sprawling Mumbai airport (the husband and Egg going one way and me the other - leaving 7 year old Dumpie to fend for himself with all our luggage), begging airport officials and staff to look in 'lost and found' for us.  We should have realised: India ain't so big on 'lost and found' for the simple matter that whatever is misplaced will no doubt be fingered thankfully by a lowly-paid worker, assuming it to be a gift from the gods.  I mean, who wouldn't?

So long story short, Bacon was never found, and our family grieved (truthfully, i'm still grieving...on Egg's behalf) as a piece of his heart and his history went 'bye-bye's' forever.  (I must interject here and possibly apologise for the look of pure hatred and puzzlement I shot the husband - no doubt accompanied by some choice swear words - when he and Egg finally raced over to board at the last minute, Egg clutching this god awful gigantic powder blue bear the husband had insisted he buy 'as a replacement'(!?).  It has long since gone, and now with time I see what the husband way trying to do, but at the time I was like, WTF?!
Egg isn't the only one who misses Bacon :(

Anyway, all last year was spent trying to sell our current home and buy a bigger one.  How bloody boring and middle class I know (so pathetic compared to our goals of 2009/2010: to compose an album each and write our respective novels whilst taking a 1.5 year long sabbatical to the Far East).

But guess what?  We failed.  Spectacularly I might add.  In fact, truth be told, I am still so annoyed by my total waste of 2014, that I simply couldn't bear to write my blog and have to regularly face up to what a complete waste my everyday life was - consumed with the never-ending Herculean task of prepping for constant viewings - and how badly I was failing at such an important task (for our rambunctious three-boy family already spilling out the sides of our now painfully too small three bed flat).  So I didn't.  And that, Dear Readers (are there any of you left I wonder?...) is the bona fide reason my once bubbling along blog has sunk into the quagmire and been left to stagnate indefinitely.

Ah, but what is this then you ask?  "Moaning Mum" raising her world-weary head and taking a new look around and realising that yes, we buggered things up spectacularly last year, but gosh darn it we're all still fairly healthy and definitely still alive, and should shut the heck up because we are 'the lucky ones'.  (In recent months, our lives have been punctuated by the loss of more than a few beloved souls of friends/family and there is nothing like the rude shock of death and disease to transform your bitter heart into a thankful one.)  Okay sermon over.

So here I am, it's a sunny day, my lovely Hungarian builder is downstairs repainting our entranceway in shiny bright white, and we have today slashed a great giant chunk off of our previous asking price and are re-listing our well-loved home at rock bottom prices people.

And so it all begins again...(sigh)...though with double stamp duty, a massive increase in price of local real estate since we started this whole process (ours excepted), and brutally aware that are lives are now again going to revolve around constant subterfuge involving our bursting at the seams possessions being shoved last minute into drawers/under sofas/squeezed into our already crammed camper van parked round the corner (aka 'our spare room', as it can't even be used for transport it's so damn full) does rather make one want to stick one's newly appreciative head into a bright pink Aga.