Friday, 24 April 2015

Mum of Boys

The fridge opens once again, shuts softly once more
A rustle belies the bread bin, as crumbs hit the floor
The clink of plates, the swish of juice, the sound of a happy crunch
The chomping, and the slurping, an hour after lunch.

The arguing over who has left dirty socks on the chair
The endless hours of staring in the mirror at ‘the hair’
The grunting, with legs stretched out, in front of the tv
The lid left up on the toilet, the bowl full of pee

Trainers stinking in the hall, kit bags far and wide
Shoes randomly in singles, some living outside
The weird rush of affection, manifest in hurried hugs
And then back to the business of racing lady bugs

The jumping on the trampoline, then sitting there for hours
The ability to sniff out food with extraterrestrial powers
Thoughtful silences coupled with an existential roar
‘Do not disturb, get out my room and shut the b*** door!’

Striding out for a Duck, handsome all in white
Scoring sweaty goals, mauling without fight
Noisy celebrations, slapping backs and shouting loud
Raising arms high, wave to an unseen crowd.

Shouting at the telly, the ref’s got it wrong again
I watch them as they grow up, my funny little men.
Where farting is hilarious, no matter what the age
And sulking is unheard of, just turn another page

No matter what the difference, no one hurts a bro
His siblings rally round, tell others where to go
Living, fighting, squabbling, a happy little pack
Growing ever upwards, with no turning back

Muscled arms and legs, baby fat becomes lean
The cute and chubby toddler is nowhere to be seen
Voice becomes melodic, scaling up and down
Round face becomes a bloke’s, swaddled in a frown

The rising of the food bill, the electric charges high
Bedrooms resembling nothing short of a piglets sty
Yet sound asleep it seems like they’re toddlers once more
If you ignore the empty plate,
and the breadcrumbs on the floor.



Thursday, 23 April 2015

Red Mist

There comes a time in life when the red mist descends.  To those happy souls who have no idea what this is, I will explain.  It is an uncontrollable rage that bubbles up within your very being, making you take leave of your senses and howl, shriek, shout or scream uncontrollably.  It is usually triggered by circumstances or people’s behaviour. 

It strikes anyone – the drunken young man in the pub who has just had his pint spilt, the meek housewife who has found letters from her husband’s lover in his trouser pocket, the teenager who has been refused another night out , and the toddler who can’t have a third lolly.  We’ve either seen it or read about it.  And the weird thing about the red mist, it blankets your mind such, that once it has cleared, (and it does very quickly, leaving behind a shaking body in fight or flight mode), you rarely remember exactly everything that you said or shouted, but are left with this overriding feeling that you have fought for what you truly believed in at the time, and that therefore it is justified.  I’m not saying that a crime of passion is justification for the crime, but it is a reason for the action.

And why does the red mist descend on some people and not on others?  What makes one persons’ spilt pint a potential motive for murder, and another ones’ an opportunity to accept an apology and a new drinking buddy?   What makes one cuckolded female go round to the mistress’s house and attempt to scratch out her eyes, whilst another is content with stabbing holes in her partner’s suits and scratching his car?

Can it be that in this day and age, with technology giving us all the information, wanted and unwanted, necessary or unnecessary, pleasant or unpleasant at the push of a button, that we are simply getting a sensory overload, and our mind short circuits, making our stress levels rise and our reactions to situations become extreme.

There is no doubt that stress on the mind and body plays a huge part in the anger that we all carry around with us.  The prescription of antidepressants in the UK continues to go up, reaching 1 in 6 adults in some parts of the country, and at its lowest in areas where there are proper therapy treatments available – i.e. regular contact with someone who can talk through any mounting problems before it builds into a red mist moment. Holistic exercise classes such as Yoga and Pilates have never been so popular, full of people wanting to empty their minds as well as tone their bodies.  The popularity of walking, hiking and outdoor sports ensure that endorphins combat negative feelings. And there are hundreds of self help books out there – all vying for the key to a peace of mind.

As a mum to teenagers who are in the midst of exam fever, I have long been conscious of the red mist. Coupled with the hormonal changes coursing through their bodies, teenagers are extremely vulnerable, and it is a source of worry to all us mums who hear what stupid things they or other kids have been up to.  It doesn’t matter that we did equally as stupid things, because it is a different world out there.  Drunken partying was not instantly relayed around the world on social media in a matter of minutes, to remain for a lifetime of employers and employees to discover.  Porn was not easily accessible.  ‘Duck Face’ was a character in a jolly British film.  The school bully couldn’t access you at home. And bikini shots were saved for the beach.  

In this highly volatile world where there is so much pressure to conform, and so much uncertainty in the future, our teenagers need us now more than ever to provide a stable base in which they can vent in safety, knowing that anything they say will not be used in evidence against them, but will be used, once they subside shaking on to the sofa, to illustrate the points of tension, and how best to move on.

My car has a feature called ‘Ambient Lighting’.  This enables you to change the colour of the internal lights.  There are five choices.  Perhaps we can’t change the kids, or even the world, one family at a time.  But perhaps we can change the ferocity of the red mist.  Maybe to a topaz blue, or a cool white.  One button at a time…


Monday, 13 April 2015

Working from Home

Yes, it’s been a while… So to those regular readers who wondered if I had fallen out of the blogosphere and landed on my head, rendering me in an unconscious blogging coma for 3 months, I am back.  And to those new readers who have wandered into my little puddle of the blogosphere, welcome!

As it happens, there was nothing dramatic about my departure, it just seemed to spiral, and every time I envisaged sitting down and updating my blog, life just happened, and then a bit like the impending gloom of writing ones Thank You cards, or To Do list, or tackling the pile of ironing that remonstrates with you in angry fabric conditioned punches as you open the cupboard – it was simply easier to delay doing it to another day.

As many of the blog followers know, I have for the 16 years in which babies have been in my life, worked from home.  This has a lot of benefits when you are a mum of young kids.  You can dictate your own hours, your boss doesn’t frown if you turn up to work in a shabby faded dressing gown smelling suspiciously of nappies, you can attend those interminable baby hand-clapping gym-bouncing rhyme-singing mornings that all young mummies feel that they ought to, until they realise that they are doing more of the above than their babies who are soundly asleep in their buggies. 

And it means that despite the teething sleep deprived hours , the worry of childhood diseases, the endless unsought advice on said diseases, the tantrums in the supermarket, the eviction from the house of biting, fighting, scratching mums (and their toddlers), you can wearily hobble in to a client meeting, baby sick unnoticed on your shoulder, and sit down for a conversation that is only slightly elevated from the ‘Me want’ stage…

But as the kids get older and start developing personalities of their own, this working from home lark can get trickier.  Again, it has its advantages – I can simply inform my boss in a slightly schizophrenic way that I am taking the afternoon off to watch my son play a football match. And if one of the kids is sick, I can keep an eye on them whilst on a phone call to a client.  But when it hits holiday time, this can be a little bit of a problem.

The older two respect my wishes to be left alone on the days that I have set out to work.  They can cook themselves basic meals without setting light to the kitchen.  They are perfectly capable of loading the dishwasher and making their beds.  They can tidy up after themselves.  They can do all of these things… Whether they do, as teenagers, is a different matter.  Their hours are not mine.  I learned long ago not to wait for them all to emerge for breakfast. During the holidays this can stretch from 7.00am to 11.30am.  But by the same token I have learned that expecting them to make a lunch (yes, the timing is a little tricky) means that the fridge is constantly raided throughout the day, and this simply won’t do.  And so I set a lunch time. In between phone calls and document writing.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not having a moan, just simply stating it as it is. I absolutely wouldn't have it any other way. I get to see my kids whenever I want and wherever I want, and to carry on doing a job that I love. I get to have my cake and eat it. 

But that doesn't detract from the fact that working from home with kids can get a little tricky.  For a start, working mums in offices who need someone to maybe have their kids for a few hours, forget that you too, work.  Sometimes having an extra child around as a kiddie distraction does actually work for me too.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  It can be a little tricky if you are on the phone and someone rings the bell and the dog hurls himself in an enthusiastic ball of fury at the door.  It can be a bit off putting when you are copy editing a technical document online, and your child comes in to tell you he has nits or that he has forgotten that he has extra sports training 20 miles away starting in ten minutes.  

I had a conversation with Little Man this morning who was sitting companionably beside me as I worked.  He was doing some homework for a test. 

‘Imagine,’ I said, to establish the boundaries, ‘That I am sitting in an office like all the other working mummies.  You need to think about what you need to ask me.’

He looked at me.  ‘But you are sitting beside me’.

‘Yes, I know, but imagine that you aren’t.’

There was a little silence as he turned back to his book, and I to my computer.
Suddenly he began to make a really annoying loud noise.

‘Ring Ring, Ring Ring.’

‘What are you doing?’

He continued the noise.

‘Stop It!’ I said sharply.

He stopped and looked at me admonishingly. ‘Answer the phone then!’

I rolled my eyes and put my hand to my ear.

‘Hello?’ I enquired wearily.

‘Hello Mummy!  What time’s lunch?’ said my son cheerfully.


I’m going to have a stern word with my boss about working conditions…

Monday, 5 January 2015

Twelve days of Christmas

So it’s arrived again, the time when the decorations come down, the kids go back to school and life goes back to what resembles normality in this house.  And I can’t help but feel a little sad. The anticlimax has hit.  2015 looms full of opportunity, but full of the same old same old… There are going to be lots of challenges that will need to be overcome, and I will face them with both excitement and trepidation. 


How to combat a certain element of the fear of failure is a challenge that I will have to learn, and to teach my boys.  How to look at a grey sky and see a blue one will at times be a challenge.  How to find that last ounce of strength to help a child with his homework when I am tired, or overworked or over wrought will be a challenge.

But it will happen.  And it will be my little family that will spur me on in any dark days that I have. The little pleading eyes that say Please can we use the last Egg to make some Cupcakes? And the smell of baking will ease anything!  Or the little shoulders that shrug when presenting me with the requirements for a fancy dress costume due in school the next day – with total trust that I can do it.  And I do.  Or the fiercely wagging tail of the dog which indicates that Yes, he knows it is raining, but still, it would be fun to go and splash in puddles and get all muddy.  And it is.

And so it’s not really so bad, the last few days of Christmas.  It signifies that we have survived another festive period, this year mercifully without any mishaps. It gives me time to look again through the cards, reading those little scribbles that tell you what others lives have been like, looking at the enclosed photos of their growing kids or aging parents. It gives me a chance to carefully wrap up all the dough decorations and baubles that the kids made in nursery, preserving them for another year.  And it is a time for reflection.

And if anyone needs  anything to look forward to - it will be less than 350 days before they all go up again!  


Friday, 2 January 2015

Back to the Future as 2015 finally arrives

On the second day of 2015, or the Future (as featured in the 1989 film Back to the Future II) most of us are sitting a little dazed as the mayhem of the festive period in 2014 fizzes out on the horizon in a last pop of a Prosecco bubble. The tree sits wilting in bedraggled tinsel and the outside lights that looked so magnificent at Christmas flicker disconsolately. The cards gather glittery dust on the window sills and half opened boxes of chocolate glisten unappealingly on the table. If we saw Marty, Doc and Jennifer screech into our lives, big hair, smiles and shoulder pads looming, we would assume wearily that we were hallucinating, and that the dodgy eighties tribute band from down the local pub had got lost again…

FUTURE?

Let’s face it, what does a film made in 1989 about our year to date really know? 1984, in which George Orwell famously described a world in which we were controlled by a Big Brother state in which there was an Inner Party that controlled the 85% of us Proles, despite a lot of accurate insights into the working of modern governments and industries, came and went.  We refused to die in May 2000, or December 2012 – both of which were ancient predictions for the end of the world.   So what is it about 2015 that will make it stand out as the Future?  What is it that will make us think, at the end of the year, that it was worth waiting for?

Back to the Future II starts off in 1985 where the original film ended, with Marty and Jennifer getting married.  But Marty and Doc have to travel forward in time to 2015 to rescue his future son from being jailed. And then all the complications arise.  So in effect, they arrive where us 80s kids are today. Yes we are older, fatter, have kids, family, mortgage and responsibilities.  We get more tired nowadays, and a hangover lasts a few days rather than a few hours. And now its me cooking the Christmas dinner instead of my mum, and I don't do a bad job of it either. 

But our true friends are still with us, and we laugh at the same stupid things, dance much to the embarrassment of our teenagers to the 'new music' before a couple of glasses of wine necessitates slamming on the Greatest Hits of the Eighties. And we would fight tooth and nail for our kids, rather like Marty.  

Perhaps we can’t stand around waiting for the hover boards and flying cars to appear.  Perhaps what we have to do is make just one prediction – that this year, the year of the Future, we will do something worthwhile to us and to us alone.  It may be dropping that dress size, it may be getting that job, it may be leaving that job, it may be learning to be patient with your aging parents, or curbing your frustration with your difficult teenage child, or learning a new skill, dumping a toxic friend, hitting the gym, or resolving to make some ‘me’ time every day.

Whatever it is, this year make it worth it. The Future is here, and it’s yours for the taking.

And if you smell burning rubber and hear screeching tyres up above your heads, duck as fast as you can, ‘cos Marty and co have arrived…


Happy New Year! 
  

Friday, 7 November 2014

7 Sundays to Christmas


7 Sundays to Christmas  (a mummy's ditty)


7 Sundays to Christmas
And everyone’s a-flutter
7 Sundays to Christmas
Husband begins to mutter.

Bags of shopping hiding
In places I forget
Present ideas sliding
As we view the internet.

The setting in of panic
As red sold out signs appear
The typing getting manic
It happens every year.

Lists changing daily
No constants since the dog
The anxiety of failing
Upturned faces agog...

Deep breaths and decision
Belt tightening with a flair
Hard thinking with precision
No plucking out of air.

School plays and school days
Excitement builds so high
‘7 Sundays to Christmas!’
All the mummies cry.

Concerts and festive fayres
Cash flying out the door
Teachers gifts- those who care
Calendar fills up more...

‘Must catch up for a drink
Before Christmas if you please’;
What madness makes us all think
Of decorating trees?

Street lighting in November
Cards building up in piles
Ready for December
The month of stress and smiles.

Fowl ordered with the goose fat
That is never used all year
Puddings, games and moose hat
For the season of good cheer.

Bottles clink in boxes
Grand opening day awaits
We’ve got our Christmas sockses
The CD of yuletide greats.

7 Sundays to Christmas
Brain starts to creak and grate
But look on to the bright side...
It’ll all be gone in 8! 

©Ruth Morrison 2014

Friday, 31 October 2014

Friends: The Witches, the Bitches and the Climb out of Ditches


The older I get, the fussier I am about making friends.  This is not because I am unsociable, far from it.  I absolutely love making new acquaintances.  I love the feeling of meeting someone new -and if they interest me- finding out about their lives, what makes them tick, what qualities attract me.  Occasionally they become a friend.  And there is no tried and tested formula.  You do get natural wastage. Friends who were once mainstays in my life no longer feature.  Through no fault of their own, or mine, just through circumstances or fate or environmental factors they have dropped off the radar, relegated to acquaintances. #WOTW Word of the week is Friends.

And in the spirit of Halloween I have categorized them in three groups: The ‘Witches’, the ‘Bitches’, and the ‘Climb out of Ditches’.

Witches

There’s something spookily fascinating about the Witch friend.  Mainly found in youthful circles, you can also find them in the MaFia groups on which I have written before. She beguiles you from the start, she could be very attractive both in looks and personality.  There is nothing that she wouldn’t do for you, initially. She is very persuasive, and you find yourself arguing on her behalf, without question.  She invites you to everything, you become part of her coven.  You plot and plan and travel in the pack.  

And then you find that the comforting silky spiders’ web of friendship that she has woven over you is actually made of very fine steel.  It’s incredibly difficult to escape.  You find that instead of having an opinion, your voice has turned to a mere froglike croaking.  You look in the mirror and you see a weak reflection of yourself staring back. 

And you realise that you don’t like what you see. And you break free before your get the life sucked out of you, and then get thrown on the pile of carcasses that you have just noticed in the corner of the room.

Bitches

These friends are your ‘Yes’ / ‘No’ mates.  They give fully of themselves in the quest for tidbits of gossip, can always be relied on for a laugh, and would cheerfully stab you in the back.  However, they are enormous fun.  These tend to be the mid term friends, but can and do appear at any time of your life. 

They could be mummies at school that you befriend because little Johnny likes little Freddie.  They could be work colleagues who become mates through a mutual hatred of your boss.  You could go on holiday with them, live in each others pockets, and for a time you would, in the spirit of friendship, do anything for them.  

Until you realise that that is what you are doing – everything for them.  And their favourite mantra becomes ‘I owe you one’, as they disappear off with someone else. When that time comes, and you see that the mutual support structure is based on golden sunny sand, then it’s time to shift.  Either to firmer foundations with the same structure, or you knock the sandcastle down in your memory as one glorious sundowner fuelled holiday romance.

Climbing out of Ditches

These are your best friends.  They come from all walks of life, and at every stage of life.  These are the ones who pick you up, dust you down and set you back on your feet.  They are the people that you would do anything for, no matter how unreliable/irritating/frustrating they can be at that moment in time, because you know that they would absolutely do the same for you.  

They are the ones who understand what is precious to you, and what you hold dear.  They may be late, but they would never let you down. And you can have a bitch and a giggle over a glass of wine.  And you can drunkenly cast spells over those witches that gave you such a hard time.

And frankly, if you fall in the ditch, they will make you laugh trying to pull you out. 

And hell, if you’re too stuck in the mud of despair, they won’t leave you. They’ll get right there in with you. And hug you tight.