Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A Mother's Guilt

I seem to be in permanent state of guilt. I’m guilty. I suffer from guiltiness.
I have been feeling this way since 16 May 2008. I can pin-point it to the birth of my first child.

No one warned me that being a mother meant living a life plagued with guilt. They told me of the joy, the closeness, the fulfilment, even the pain. But they failed to mention the guilt.

Guilty for that cheeky coffee you have when they’re asleep (and you should be cleaning).

Guilty for going to work ‘for a break’.

Guilty for leaving work early, but picking them up from nursery late (I had some shopping to do).

Guilty for leaving work at all.

Guilty for leaving your husband in charge – just the once.

Guilty for staying on for an after work drink.

Guilty for lying in bed for an extra half hour.

Guilty for letting them watch TV while you have a shower.

Guilty for the fight that’s just broken out because I’ve been ignoring them whilst I browse through facebook.

Guilty for breathing.

We have no reason to be guilty, no one is making us feel guilty, for some reason it’s something we like to do to ourselves. Like no sleep, a fat belly and stretch marks aren’t punishment enough?

We are mothers. We are guilty. As charged.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Courage in a cupcake

Courage - noun
:the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, without fear; 

Courage? What is it? Something you rarely see. Or you see on the tele, once a year (on Noel’s Christmas presents.)

It’s not always about saving lives or doing something worthy of a Pride of Britain award from Carol Vorderman. To me it is so much simpler. Yes it’s about bravery, but not necessarily about being a hero.

Courage is really pushing yourself to do something you don’t feel comfortable doing, but for the right reasons. There’s an element of being a daredevil about it. It’s being out of your comfort zone (and all those other clich├ęs), taking risks that others wouldn’t take, putting yourself in a place you’ve never been before.

In the last 6 months I’ve been taught all about courage from an old work colleague. I doubt she even realises how brave she is.

Like many people in the last 2 years she was offered redundancy. She wasn’t out of a job, her job was relocating. She could have taken what I consider to be the ‘safe’ option and kept her job, but travelled further. But she decided to run the risk. She chose redundancy and crazier still, decided to invest that redundancy in a shop.

So with the support of her partner and family, she opened a Cupcakery. She works 14 hours a day 5 days a week, getting up when it’s dark, going to bed when it’s almost the next day. On her 6th day she works for someone else. And finally, on her 7th day, she rests (rather like someone else we all know).

I doubt it’s a roaring success 6 months after opening and although she has many loyal customers (me for one), I don’t think she’s ‘rolling in it’. It takes 3-5 years to build a solid business (so she tells me) and she seems to be in it for the long haul. She turns up for work every day with a smile, as do her family, and it’s a pleasure to go into her shop.

To me, she epitomises courage, bravery and determination. She is living proof of grabbing life by the scruff of the neck and living it to the full. She makes me ashamed to be in my (not-so-safe) local government job.

Emily from Nom Nom Cupcakery in Nailsworth (cupcakes and gifts to order, and amazing coffee) shows what it is to have courage. It’s a mental attitude, an approach to life and a determined spirit. It’s about responding positively to negative situations and living life the way you want to – not the way someone says you should.

Courage – a quality of mind and spirit, without fear, to set up your own shop in a recession. 

Congratulations Emily on making 6 months. Keep calm and eat a cupcake.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Don't sniff your own shoe

There are some really bad smells in the world.  And then there are teething poos.
Anyone who has been near a teething baby’s nappy will know what I’m talking about.
It’s a rancid, right up your nose, immediate gag reflex kind of smell. A full-on African slum open-drain, blowing down the wind smell.
I’ve put up with this smell on and off for six weeks now.  It’s making me retch and choke and vomit on an almost daily basis. God knows what those poor nursery staff are going through. The baby however, doesn’t seem bothered at all.
I have a fear of certain smells, the thought of smelling them, or putting myself in a position where I might be at risk of smelling them, is enough to send me over the edge. I’ve been known to be over-dramatic when it comes to smells. I think writing about them will make me feel better.
Tomato sauce is one. In a greasy spoon I can cope with the general pungency of deep fried food and stewed tea, but I can sense tomato sauce squirted onto a hot fried egg at twenty paces. Gag.
Any kind of poo. Adult poo, child poo, horse poo, but most of all dog poo.
When there’s something on your shoe and you dare to bend down and take a gentle sniff to double check what it might be……..even though deep down inside you know it isn’t mud. But you just can’t help sniffing.  And it’s always dog shit.                  
Retch, gag, vomit. 
And to make matters worse it lingers in your nostril hairs for hours and hours, follows you everywhere you go, so you are convinced your whole body stinks of it.  So now you’re paranoid too. Smelly and paranoid.
Dog shit on someone else’s shoe in your car? Even worse.
Vomit in your car? Awful.  Your own vomit on your own lap in your car? I’ve been there, disgusting.
Vomit on the ceiling, on the doors, even in the glovebox in someone else’s car?
Stinks. (I’ve been there too, but that’s a different blog and anyway, he forgave me)
So the moral of this story is: don't drink alcohol, stay away from greasy spoons and teething babies.
But most of all, don't sniff your own shoe.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Tourist Eyes

There’s nothing like having a visitor to make you rediscover where you live. Simply because you are never a tourist in your home town, but having a visitor forces you to behave like one.

One of my oldest friends from University came to visit at the weekend with his partner. He’s been before, his partner hasn’t. They’re from East London, as far removed as you can be from my sleepy, middle-aged, Cotswold village. 
We didn’t do anything special. We walked in the woods as I do most days but it felt different, I saw more, heard more, felt more.

We walked into the village but took a slightly different route to allow for us to take better pictures. It was beautiful.  They noticed things I’d never noticed and asked questions I’d never thought to ask.
I had a brilliant weekend and I hope they did too.
Invite someone to stay and rediscover where you live.