Monthly Archives: August 2013

Sense of Entitlement

I started following someone on Twitter. To be fair, their bio said they were grumpy but they liked a bit of a gardening and I like that, so I thought I’d give it a go.Money

Within 3 tweets I’d already decided I had made a mistake following them and it was all about a guardian article that told the story of several different families and how they pay pocket-money.  How much, how often, for any reason and whether the child in question has to use it to buy things like their own clothes etc..  The reason I got annoyed is because they expressed their disgust at the amount of money these children were getting.  Annoyed that one couple were talking about the cost of their nanny.  Angry that one 18-year-old had been upset that his mother had used his child allowance to help herself out of financial issues, despite giving him a generous pocket-money allowance.

Now, the tweeter in question was well within his rights to be pissed off.  He is perfectly entitled to his own opinion.  Unfortunately I am well within my rights to get annoyed about that opinion, because it happens to be an area that I get quite het up about.

Why does everyone get annoyed about people who just happen to be born into, work hard for or come into money?  Does undermining people in privileged financial positions make those that don’t feel better about themselves?  When I see it, I just feel bad for those doing the undermining.  Why so bitter?

I get that a lot of people feel that they have had the rough end of the stick.  Raised badly, poor education, mixed with the wrong crowd, have a lot of bad luck.  There isn’t a lot you can do about the earlier issues, but I do think that the thinking that you are bad luck, and the negativity to others who seem to get good luck, is actually part of the problem.  The difference is that those that appear to have good luck often just have a positive outlook and therefore recognise opportunities for the taking. They don’t sit about moaning about what they don’t have.

I have many people on Twitter I follow that have so little money, they really do wait for the next pay check, put things on eBay to get the money to pay for something else and generally scrimp and save and buy second-hand. They are happy with their lot, they wish they had more, but they accept that this is where they are right now and focus on what is important.  I also follow people who have a lot more money. Doctors, Lawyers, wives and husbands who’s spouses earn a tonne.  They also have their own spending issues. Different ones, granted, but they often live in bigger, more expensive houses, in more expensive areas and then insure everything up to the hilt because they do know they are lucky and one day, something may happen and that income will be gone.  You can’t really compare them, however, each end of the spectrum have their own social circle, their own social expectations, their own moral compass, but they get on with it. Nobody begrudging anyone for their chances in life.

So I guess I get a little annoyed when people who don’t earn that much get annoyed at people who do.  Like, given the chance, they wouldn’t do EXACTLY THE SAME.  People moaning that doctors and bankers hire a yacht for a week in the south of France. “What a waste of money” “How dare they”.  Geez.  Give me their income and I’d do exactly the same.  I’ll spend £5000 on a handbag if I earnt £250,000.  Right now, though, more than £50 on a handbag would have to be carefully thought out.

However, I’ve never been dirt poor. I was never raised in a council house (although many of these high earners do start here – Caitlin Moran for one) but my parents were extremely careful with their one, modest income and hit a lot of lows in their financial situation.  I even recall my mum saying she “lost” an engagement ring for 10 years in order to claim insurance to pay the mortgage.  My dad had been in an industrial accident and couldn’t work and there was no worker’s compensation back then.  My mum was never happy with her lot.  She talked a lot about our families’ bad luck.  If I thought about it too much, I’d agree. Until I met 1000 other people and discovered EVERYONE has shit happen to them. It’s just the way you view it.

When I came to the UK I lived in a bed sit. I paid £70 a week for 1 room. I worked as a data entry clerk whilst I tried my luck at acting. I earnt £600 a month. I worked bloody hard, I put in as many hours as I could, I worked Saturdays, I gave a good impression, I looked interested I was promoted.  From that one lowly, badly paid job I gained the experience over 8 years to apply for my current position and ever since I have built on my learnings. I earn a decent salary now. My husband who earnt less than me as an actor for many years has managed to build up a corporate portfolio that has helped us out. It’s not always what he loves, but sometimes it’s not about that.

If the old “bed sit” me had seen the “18 years later” me, she’d probably be a bit dismayed that balance between incoming and outgoing hasn’t really changed. It’s on a higher scale, but it’s still there. I’m not struggling to pay my rent or eating beans 3 days in a row anymore, but I’m trying to do the right thing by me and my family.  And bloody hell, I’ve worked darn hard to have the dilemma over whether I can afford to get a cleaner. Why the bleedin’ hell should I feel guilty for that.

In my group of friend’s we are the least well off and it’s taken me a while, but I’m cool with that. We are very very lucky and I’m going to endeavour to focus on what I have and not what I don’t have.  I don’t need to put other people down to make myself feel better.  Do you?

 

 

 

10 years of Marriage

Well, we made it.  Lasted the course. Made it to 10 years relatively unscathed.

It’s been many lows but many more highs and despite the tricky period we are currently in (raising small children) we are still managing to make each other smile (occasionally).

Our 10 years brought us:

  • 2 house moves
  • 4 years of infertility
  • IVF
  • The birth of our daughter
  • Another 2 years of infertility
  • A natural pregnancy and the birth of our son
  • 6 years of University to gain a degree, through all of the above and working
  • A severe flare up of my Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Some great holidays. Some not so great.
  • The ups and downs of an actor hubby
  • Lots of wine and beer and finding funny moments throughout

I wouldn’t suggest for a second that I thought our marriage was in trouble.  We have our moments and lots of arguments and months of wondering whether we’d make it through after particularly hard times.  We still talk about issues (a lot) and still smile at each other.   I also wouldn’t suggest for a second that we were besotted/made for each other/head over heels in our relationship.  I’m not sure we ever were. I think we represent the vast majority of couples, who are together because we still love each other, still enjoy each other’s company (most of the time) and know that marriage isn’t easy, often has to be worked at, involves a great deal of compromise but the benefits reaped are soooo worth it.

The last few months have been tricky for us.  We’ve argued a fair bit. Dealt with work issues and children issues.  We went away to Spain, but were there with another couple and we did family things.  We had this trip booked for Brugge back in February and I did wonder whether it would tell me something about the state of my marriage.  Whether 2 days away with just the two of us and no other distractions would demonstrate whether we no longer had anything in common or that we were still in good shape.Champagne

Well, I’m pleased to say (with relief) that it was the latter.  We giggled and chatted on Eurostar all the way there.  Upon arriving in Brugge, we walked around a bit, I even put out my hand to be held (shock horror: I’m not tactile at all, hate holding hands, ruins the rhythm of my walking).   I actually quite liked it.  We got tipsy in the afternoon and really had a ball.

Even the hangover on the Friday didn’t dampen things for too long (I was a little grumpy) and we really enjoyed each other’s company.  We didn’t talk about the kids too much either. Result.

The journey back home was very different to the one there. We ended up sharing our table seat with 2 key members of Cirque du Soleil (The events director and the director of operations) and we all got very merry on buffet car wine and talked and laughed the entire journey.

Our trip away was finished off with a lovely meal in The Wolsley, which had a fabulous atmosphere and the management gave us some macaroons (correct spelling: macarons) with an edible plaque wishing us a happy anniversary.

All in all, we have had a fabulous time and my heart is warmed that we’ve come through it exactly the same as we went in.  Nobody is more relieved than I am.

 

 

The Fight

It’s always nicer when it isn’t you.

There you are.  Enjoying a meal out with friends in a restaurant with kids, in a foreign land and then the atmosphere changes.argue

You can’t quite put your finger on it, but things become chilly.  The wife gets up after her meal and pretends to be busying herself with the kids larking about on the beach.  The husband busied himself clearing his plate and that of his daughters, head down, not speaking.

This is what happened to us, one day on holiday. Then it was time to go home.  A relaxing wander down the boulevard from the beach to the rides, the “bouncy thing” the two girls are desperate to have a go on.  We headed off to our car to dump an excess bag, they wandered to theirs with our daughter and theirs to do the same.

We crossed the road with The Monster to meet them, but they seemed to be spending an awful lot of time at their car.  So we headed into the little fair ground, found out the cost of the Bungee Trampoline and purchased the tickets for the girls in readiness.

Then we waited. Waited some more.

Eventually I left hubby behind with The Monster and wandered down the road to find out what the hold up was.  The girls were leaning against the wire fence holding hands with very worried faces and my friend took one of their hands and walked them towards me, wiping a tear from her eye as she did so.

Clearly her and her husband were having a rip-roaring argument.

We’ve all been there.  You can never pick the right moment to finally kick off. It had been brewing all day (or so my husband said) and I think a criticism of a parenting manoeuvre had been the last straw.  The husband is very hot-headed, so he got pretty angry.  My daughter and their daughter looked quite alarmed.  It’s never nice to see a big argument.

My friend looked up at me (she’s shorter) with a look of apology and asked me to take the girls for me at which point she walked back to the car, had a few more (unheard) words with her husband and stalked off in the other direction, shortly followed by him.

Neither of these two are drama queens. They don’t argue for a bit of excitement.  This was a big deal.

So we took the girls in. I reassured both of them that it was completely normal.  Made a joke to Pickle about how me and her daddy do that sometimes and tried to diffuse the situation.  They soon forgot all about it as they leapt in the air on the bungee trampoline and hubby and I did a little post-mortem on what we’d seen.  We’ve not been having the best time, ourselves.  Lots of argument in the last 6 months, but I’ve not been too concerned about it. Raising young children is a mighty task, especially as we share the childcare and both work as well.  How anyone escapes divorce will always be one of life’s great mysteries to me.  I spend far too much time angry at my husband for not swilling a breakfast bowl.

Anyway, I digress.  We did a post-mortem, because let’s be honest, it’s always nice when it’s not you.

We didn’t know how long these two would be off up the road “having it out” so once the bouncing was over, we paid for all 3 kids to go on a roundabout as well.

Eventually after 2 rides, we saw them walking back alongside the fair ground, so we took everyone back to their car.  Immediately their daughter said she wanted to come in our car, bless her.  Pickle looked alarmed again.  I told both girls that everything was fine and brushed it off. Both girls went in their car, we followed in our’s with The Monster.

As we climbed the steps to the front door the husband turned to me and said he was very sorry about having such a public argument. He felt awful the girls had witnessed it as well. I told him, with a laugh, that I thought it was good for Pickle to see other couples argue.  At least she doesn’t think it’s just her parents.  He smiled.  He added he thought it was important that they had come back with them because then both girls could see that he and his wife had made up, had reconciled their differences and I agreed.

Still.  Nice when it isn’t you, hey?

Confidence

Confidence

When I was a girl (both little and big) I had very little confidence.  There were a lot of incidences where I was dumstruck in social situations and had no idea how to handle them.  On one occasion me and my sister arrived at my brother’s fancy dress competition at school with our multi coloured ponchos on (it was the 70’s!) and were handed a ticket to take part.  We were so embarrassed and didn’t know what to do so we attempted to shove the ticket into our mum’s handbag.  She caught us out and did a great big embarrassing snorty laugh before giving it back to the ladies at the desk.  I was always a bit angry about that, like my lack of confidence was my mum’s fault.

I did ballet, but my sister did no extra currilcular activities. I stopped ballet 2 years in, once I was in a class of 3 and the other 2 girls were older than me and wouldn’t speak to me.  My sister did no activities at all.

I have always been a bit unimpressed my mother didn’t have us do lots of activities or that she didn’t try and encourage us to be more outgoing, but having witnessed my daughter today, I may have figured out why.

Pickle has always been a bit of an emotional girl.  She’s 5 now but very unsure in circumstances she’s not familiar with (not unlike me), however since her operation 4 weeks ago it has really got bad.  The first birthday party she attended about 8 days after her operation, she clung to me like a limpet and refused to take part.  This isn’t massively unusual for her, if I’m there, she does hang on to us for about 10 minutes, until a friend puts their hand out or an entertainer gets her doing something.  This time it took over an hour (the party was only 1.5 hours long) before I could leave her and then she got hit by another child accidently and ended up back with me for 10 minutes.

Yesterday I took her to her first tennis lesson.  We HAD talked about it.  She had initially had to be convinced to try it out. Once she had agreed I did discuss with her what she will be like when she gets there.  We weren’t pushy, but we told her why we thought she’d enjoy it and encouraged her by reminding her how good at swing ball she is.  I then reminded her, that her friend would be there and there will be children of lots of different ages and abilities. I said I know she’ll want me nearby and I would be staying with her the whole time and she needn’t be clingy. I tried to mitigate her lack of confidence.

A few days beforehand at bedtime I told her I was taking time off work to take her and that I hoped she wouldn’t getting worried about going or change her mind when we got there.  She told me that she would be brave and wouldn’t get clingy or cry.

Well, the promises of a 5 year old hold little weight I’m afraid.  She was fine when we first arrived but the minute we got on the court she clung to my leg and cried and cried and cried.  Nothing could convince her to let go or take part in any of the activities.  She kept crying and eventually after 20 very LONG minutes, I took her back to the car and drove her home.

I was fuming!!!  I was so cross I could barely put my thoughts into words.  We drove back in silence.

Now, before you start thinking I’m the cruellest mother ever, it’s one thing for me to have a few hours of contemplation of events and quite another when it’s happening right there in front of you.  An hysterical girl, a trainer who is trying his best to get her to play, a woman in high heels (me) attempting to “join in” to convince her child, all the other mums OUTSIDE the court sitting down watching their children follow instructions, the £27 cheque, the time off work.  I was massively embarrassed and I am positive that any one else in my position would have been as well.  It’s hard not to be cross.  Irrationally I wanted her to be just like the other children and just get on with it.  The trouble is she isn’t one of the other children, she’s my child and she’s different. The sensible adult in me knows you should “feel the fear and do it anyway” but that’s a big old jump for a 5 year old who just wants “to go home”.

I was still angry when I got her back to the house and left her with her grandma and brother and got back into the car to go to work.  Being left alone for 45 minutes for my journey to work I dwelled on what had just happened.

Is she just lacking confidence? Is it just that she’s taken a bit of a knock since the accident?  Will this sit with her for the rest of her life so she’s always a bystander and never taking part?  Is there anything I can do now that can boost that confidence?

Then I thought about what I was like and realised I was no different. I don’t think there was any coincidence that my lack of out of school activities was probably linked to my general nervouseness in groups.  I’ve never been one to “muck in” and I have no idea why I thought my daughter would be any different.  I think I partly blamed my parents for not building my confidence and partly blamed the fact that I had a sister 18 months younger than me an therefore I never needed to find a playmate.  That is not the same for Pickle. Her brother is 3 years younger than her and it’s likely they’ll have less in common as they get older.

I’m not sure if there is something I should be doing here?  Do I gently and slowly find a way to encourage her to take part more often or do I accept that she is a bit of a wall flower and watch as she misses out on some wonderful experiences because of it?  I know I missed out on so many things because I couldn’t even speak to an adult and I really don’t want her to have the same issues.  Do I stop trying to book her into activities?  Do I decline party invites before she even knows about it because I can’t be dealing with the leg clinging and crying? Because even if she said she won’t I know there is an 80% chance she will.

Anyone with any advice on what I can do?

Shhhhhh

Shhhhhhh

I need silence.  I’ve always craved it and now I need it more than ever.

Whilst I blog I need quiet.  Interestingly I’m ok at work, the mumbling of voices around me don’t seem to bother me, but my own children playing or the sound of a radio…….eurghhh. Turn it off please.ear defenders

I’ve no idea where my need for quiet comes from.  I hear of students who study with the radio on and I think that’s weird.  I find sound muddles the air.  It create confusion.  When I need to think, I need a clean, clear ambience around me.  Like a lake without a ripple or a crisp winters morning.

At night, my sound tolerance is even worse.  My neighbours (the bane of my life) are very noisy.  The man can’t speak normally, he booms when he talks like a foghorn of annoyance.  The parties are one thing and my anxiety takes a battering over those, but even when they sit on their back patio at 11pm chatting with a glass of wine it takes all my strength not to run downstairs and scream “shut up” at them over the fence.  Although I did do that once, a few years back, but it was a group of teenagers out there, loudly chatting at midnight on a Wednesday.  Little shits.

I’ve taken to checking on them from The Monster’s bedroom.  In the dark I can gauge the level of chat. If they are there when I go to bed, I use wax earplugs. Not ideal with 2 children to listen out for, but so far I’ve heard the children when they’ve called out.  The earplugs aren’t perfect, but they drown that low-level murmuring, dull the occasional high pitch laugh and therefore allow me to drift to sleep.  Often the sound of my blood rushing around my head is amplified, but that’s a bit of white noise I don’t seem to mind that much.

Heaven forbid my husband comes in late or worse, that he has someone staying at ours.  Our room is at the top of the stairs, so every click, every scrape can be heard from my bed.  If I’m not yet in a deep sleep I will be woken up. If they then potter about downstairs I’m left upstairs waiting for them to go to bed because I know, once they are up the creak of the floor in the spare room and the click of the light in the bathroom will jolt me from that place between awake and asleep.  I will be annoyed.  That point of annoyance where you can’t blame anyone else but yourself.

It’s gutting really. I’m a cantankerous old woman about sound and it’s really starting to have an impact on my life.  It’s me, it is completely me but it’s hard for others not to feel that it’s them and I’m blaming them.

Hubby is probably the most silent, late night creeper there is, but he is still capable of waking me.  He feels terrible, but it’s not his fault.

I have a spare mattress under Pickle’s bed with a sheet on it and a rolled up ready-made duvet in her cupboard for late night speedy moves should a party start up next door.  I have my wax earplugs at the ready.  I suggested that my brother-in-law slept on the sofa downstairs (a bed he prefers anyway) the last time he visited and went out with my hubby.  They didn’t wake me.  They both used the downstairs bathroom. They didn’t wake me.

I can only do so much.  Oh for a life of peace and quiet. This is what I crave.