I Will Not Feel Guilty

This time last year I wrote this open letter to my children about my decision to change my hours at work to full time. I thought I’d write an update to it now I’ve lived it for a while.

Is it working for me? Well, no is the short answer. I don’t think it is. I’m torn apart with guilt all of the time like most parents for one reason or another. No more so than now when the kids are off school and being on social media see parents and kids off on jolly adventures everywhere. I can’t do that and by the time I get home from work there’s no time for anything and to be honest I’d be too knackered anyway. It’s not easy to “just have some time off” and I certainly couldn’t have six weeks anyway. It eats away at you knowing that you’re missing out on all sorts of fun and memories that you’ll never get back. Continue reading

The Throwaway Comment

Inspired by Daddy Poppins recent child free holiday to Ibiza I remembered my own visit. There I was, San Antonio 2002, let loose for a week, my Dad had my little boy and it was going to be the best holiday ever. Right? Well, not really. A simple throwaway comment threw me completely. I was in Es Paradis some garage night or other, totally not my thing but my mate was so excited I thought she’d combust leaving only a white lace bikini. God she looked amazing in that bikini, all blonde hair and bronzed skin, couldn’t get it wet mind you but nevertheless she looked like a Goddess. Anyway on with the story…

I was dancing, I’d never thought about whether I was a good dancer or not before, I just did it. I’d held loads of dance competitions in front of my Nana and she’d never said I was crap! In the midst of me throwing some kind of gin, lime and lemonade enhanced shapes a random bloke beckoned me over. I thought “oh here we go, he wants to know if the Goddess is single, this is getting boring now”. But no, that’s not he wanted at all.

He leant over, next to my ear because the music was loud and shouted “fuck sake love, you can’t dance, why are you even here?” he laughed, his mates laughed, I didn’t laugh.  Well I wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t say a word, I didn’t know what to say anyway. Like one of those Facebook posts where everyone is outraged and says “well I would have…” “you should have…” but in the moment what happens, happens and you can’t change it. I just turned my back to him and walked away. Continue reading

Bad Day? No Way!

Now I’m not one of those nutters who professes to be able to cure depression in 24 easy steps, this is purely meant as a light hearted post when you’ve had a bad day whether that’s grumpy shouty people at work, nightmare at home with the kids trying to drown each other in the downstairs bog or your supermarket of choice delivering your shopping and substituting your kids size 4 nappies for a multipack of yellow dusters. Want some ideas for taking your mind off it? Strap yourself in and here we go.

• Four finger kit-kat? Dairy Milk the size of your oldest child? Double Decker eaten the naughty way with the chewy bit first? Whatever floats your boat… get it in your gob. In the airing cupboard obviously, we’ll have none of that sharing nonsense, thankyou very much.

• Gin? Prosecco? Mad Dog 20/20? What’s your tipple? Drink it til you get that ‘just stepped off a waltzer at Porthcawl fair’ feeling. Just try not to spew, or your bad day will turn into 2 bad days when you’re scraping Tuna ‘n’ Pasta chunks off the bedroom carpet the next morning and stumbling into work with a monster headache.

• Give the kids a cuddle. They might fart in your lap or throw up their Turkey Drumsticks if you squeeze too hard but those little buggers give good hugs don’t they? Continue reading

Shopping? You’re Off Your Trolley!

Shopping. Love it or hate it, it’s a job that has to be done at some point unless you fancy starving. Jon and I have very different views on shopping. To me it’s a chore, I’m a get in, get it done and get out kind of person. He’s a take your time, peruse at your leisure kind of person. This is a recipe for disaster as on the majority of occasions we end up at loggerheads with me whispering “will you bloody hurry up” through gritted teeth and him telling me to “sod right off”, usually with something added about being a moody cow for good measure. Added to the fact he ALWAYS wants to go after I finish work, I am indeed a tired, hungry, grumpy bastard.

Take the other day for example, I can drive, he can’t, so most of the time I have to go with him because I’m not spiteful enough to make him drag it home on the bus. He’s a fussy bugger and likes to squeeze the melons and whatnot so won’t entertain the idea of online shopping. We rock up, for once child free, I was looking forward to getting the shopping done and naffing off home to eat chocolate and watch programmes unsuitable for young children. No. Over an hour it took him while I stomped around behind him like a teenager that’s been dragged out with Mum and Dad who hold hands and kiss in public. Not my idea of fun, I can tell you. Continue reading

Fat Like I Was At Fifteen

Look how fat I was. Just look. Can you see it? Nah, me neither. It’s one of those photos that you show someone and they say “oh wow, look how tiny you were” leaving the “what happened?” unsaid, hanging in in the air.

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I spent that holiday in Gran Canaria plus several years before and after thinking I was huge. I loathed wearing those horrible netball knickers/skirts combos at school because my thighs wobbled when I ran and I thought that equalled fat. Being fat never equalled having a boyfriend. It sounds ridiculous to look back and think that was my thought process. Being accepted and liked is all that really matters at that age. I realise now that as a pear shape I carry my weight on the bottom half and I was perfectly fine just as I was.

Now that I really am overweight as an adult I see that back then there was absolutely nothing wrong with me, I would love to look like that again now. Not that there is anything wrong with me now so to speak, it’s unrealistic to think that you could come away from having 3 babies unscathed. Carrying a few extra pounds isn’t the end of the world but for me I find it really affects my self esteem. I don’t feel right, particularly since I’ve just hit the big 40. I feel podgy and nothing fits me properly like it did when I was slimmer. At only 5’2 every extra pound shows and I dislike my ‘hamster cheeks’ when I smile so I tend not to that much in photos or avoid being in photos at all. So yes, I intend to lose weight but for myself. Not because I feel I should, not because I’ve read the latest ‘beached whales in bikinis’ article in a scummy magazine and not because anybody has told me I should.

Over the years my weight has been up and down, I’ve ranged from a size 6 to a 14 and everything in between. I’ve tried Slimfast, cabbage soup, starvation and all manner of ridiculous diets. I’ve even tried so called safe diet pills before finding out they contained ephedrine when my heart started racing uncontrollably one day at work. Did any of it help? No, absolutely not because yes, I may have lost weight and felt I looked much better but I felt lousy. I’m slowly losing weight properly now and being more aware of getting up and moving, I have a desk job and since I’ve started working full time it’s surprising that although I feel like I’ve been on the go all day the very few steps I clock up over the course of the day is far, far lower than I would have done when I was doing the school runs with the kids.

It worries me that now I have a daughter that one day she may look like this, may think she is fat because media all around us tells us that slim is pretty, flesh on show should be toned and tight and if not it should be covered up. I intend to talk to her about body image because I wouldn’t want her to feel like I did. This has no reflection on my own Mum as I never spoke to her about how I was feeling, my Mum was never one of those Mums that was always on a diet or moaning she was fat. We were fed plenty of fruit and veg (and the odd Findus crispy pancake). Had I spoken to her about it though I know she would have told me there was nothing wrong with me (because there wasn’t).

gran-canaria-1993

Oh how I loved my perm, my hair was so much better then. Why can’t it come back into fashion? Now that’s a 90’s throwback I could really get behind!

So to my 15 year self and to my children I say be who you are because who you are is perfect. All that time and energy spent worrying about whether you’re slim enough or attractive enough could be put into something far more worthwhile. People can either take you as you are or get stuffed. Don’t ever let anyone put you down or make you feel bad for just being you. That boyfriend that tells you that your fat arse sticks out when you walk? He can do one. (Yes this happened to me). The friends who take the mickey out of your appearance? They can either shut up or ship out too. You don’t need their negativity and certainly don’t have to put up with it.

Although you might want to work on not being photographed like this…

gran-canaria-1993

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The Old Man Is Snoring


 If, like me,you spend most nights trying not to bludgeon your hubby (or wife, dog or anyone else for that matter) to death with your favourite shoes (tip – use the daps they’re stingy and deliver a satisfying slap) then I totally feel your pain!

I’m talking the kind of snoring that could wake the dead, that you can imagine the Little Green Men hearing from Mars, wondering what on earth that bloody noise is and whether they’re being threatened or asked down for a pint. At some point you lose patience and think “sod this for a laugh” and bugger off downstairs to the settee. Only if you’re anything like me then a few too many episodes of Stranger Things means you don’t really fancy being stuck downstairs on your own in the dark. How is it possible for it to be so bloody loud?! I’ve often wondered if the neighbours can hear it but then I doubt it as they tend to watch Westerns on TV rather loudly in bed. Which in all honesty can be preferable to Snorting Sid to the left of me.

My kids are now of the age that aside from staying out too late (the teen) and keeping me up worrying and perhaps waking due to illness on occasion (littler ones) that I should actually be getting a decent nights kip. Fat chance of that.

I seem to end up in the kids room most nights, with my daughter the human optopus where it’s not unusual to wake up with a foot or arse to the face.  Little Man snores too, mind you it’s like a form of torture. Hubby gets to starfish in the bed by himself and then has the cheek to say “that was an awful night’s sleep” while scratching his arse and seeking out the cup of tea which I will undoubtedly have made him. I, on the other hand, am spooning, no – make that ladling – coffee into a cup and inhaling it.

We have tried everything going to stop it but none of the magic lotions and potions have helped one iota and those nose strips do look a bit stupid – let’s be fair. To be honest I’m quite surprised he has any ribs left with the amount of elbowing they’ve taken over the years and no, that doesn’t work either, well apart from the 3 seconds he stays awake to shout at me for digging him again. Getting him to turn over just makes him snort a bit and start again.

Sales of energy drinks and coffee must be through the roof because of me to be truthful! Maybe I should try and invent one of my own and call it Snoring Stamina, that’s one for Dragon’s Den right there! So, since we’re not rich enough to own a 10 bedroom mansion where I can have my own private haven and I don’t really fancy a long stretch in the nick I’ll just have to put up with it unless anyone can suggest a magic cure that doesn’t involve smothering with a pillow?!

How do you deal with snoring? Any suggestions welcome!

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Getting To Work In The Snow

❄️ Open the curtains, look outside and see a rectangular lump of snow where the car should be. Decide that even though other cars have attempted to get out of the cul-de-sac on a hill and I quite fancy a day off I don’t really want it to be because I’m dead.

❄️ Choose to risk a mega bollocking of doom by not wearing uniform. They want me in? I’m wearing a jumper. It’s happening. I’m a big girl, I can take it. I hope.

❄️ Get the wellies out from under the mountain of other shoes or at the back of the shed with the huge spiders. Those smelly, rubbery, heavy sods that are meant to keep you dry. With a handy strap to widen them to get your leg in. Lying bastards, I literally force my sausage legs into them and know it’ll be murder to get them off but I’ll have to worry about it later and walk along with half my calf muffin topping them. Sexy.

❄️ Take your life in your hands. Walk on the snow and risk slipping undaintily on your arse or walk on the road and risk getting squashed by a wayward bus or splattered by shit coloured gritty slush. Feel glad there’s not a soul around to hear your mutterings of “shit nearly slipped then” and “yeah, cheers then snow, sitting there looking pretty when really you’re hiding a huge pile of dog shit”

❄️ Realise that by driving to work you miss all the best scenery.

Like this:

And this:

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❄️ Realising you are one lazy, unfit bastard. Being unused to wearing wellies and trudging through snow I swear my thighs will be worthy of any Welsh rugby player by the end of the day. If I ever get there that is.

❄️Arrive at work and feel very deflated at the lack of fanfare or medal bearing Mayor to clap you through the door. My cheeks are bright red, my hair like Worzel’s and I’m a hot, sweaty mess (damn you HR enraging jumper) but I made it and I was on time.

❄️ Feel secretly glad that the boss hasn’t made it in as there’s a huge probability of a welly wanging their way past their gob. They won’t see the funny side. They won’t. That’s if you can get them off of course. It’s like they’ve moulded to you. They are at one with you. Polyvinyl pricks.

❄️ Feel smug that while everyone else is in for losing a days pay you’re still in the money. Yeah it’s all fun and games to turn over in bed send that “I’m not coming in bitches” email and go back to sleep. That is until you get your payslip and realise there’s no money for Quality Street induced comas for Christmas. More like multi pack Smart Price chocolate that tastes like old shoes.

❄️ Forget until home time that your car is not all snugged up in the carpark. You’ve got to get those bloody wellies back on and walk home again. This time it’s even more fun though ‘cos it’s dark. Or maybe catch a bus. Exciting.

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Friends For My Fortieth?

When I was at school being 40 was ancient, anything after that and you were practically dead. You were boring, wore corduroy and drank Horlicks at bedtime, we thought. Oh how the tables have turned. I am finding myself fast approaching 40 and have no idea how to celebrate it.

Well, actually that’s a fib, I do have several ideas such as an 80’s themed party or an 80’s weekend at Butlin’s but I’m either terrified to see them through or lacking in the basics required. Now you might think it’s a money thing but it’s not really it’s more about friends. To have a party you need people to attend. Of course I have my wonderful family but sometimes it’s nice to see other people, catch up on their lives. What if nobody does turn up though? What if you invite lots of people and you’re stood there in all your finery and no bugger turns up? Not even to nick the finger foods?!!

The last time I had a party was for my 18th back when I had lots of friends and not a care in the world, apart from the hideous hangover the next day. Go to work, go home, get dressed up, get pissed and have a laugh, rinse and repeat, that’s what we did back then. Fast forward a couple of years and I’m alone with a baby and all my friends have moved on to bigger and better things. Who wants to get stuck with the mate with a kid hanging off her tit at all hours hey? I was young, they were still in party mode, I was in ‘frig sake I’m too tired to do anything other than die on the settee come 8pm’ mode.

Getting sick of the same 4 walls I found a job in a call centre where I formed new friendships, bonding over a mutual hate of people who screamed at you for the long wait to get through, although with most of them being male I found myself again dropped when I forgot to buy one of my best friends a birthday card despite being in hospital miscarrying at the time. The friendship never recovered – not necessarily  a bad thing given the circumstances but then the others all met partners in time and once they were on the scene I was surplus to requirements or a threat (no I don’t think I would be either, have you seen me without make up? Mind your eyes!!) so they got rid sharpish.

My job now is quite lonely, there’s plenty of people coming in and out but it’s not an office full of employees where you form friendships with colleagues , it’s just me and 1, maybe 2 others. So with that in mind who the hell do you invite to your exclusive party? To your mad throw up somewhere you shouldn’t weekend away in Butlins or otherwise?

I often see people all over my Facebook feed having amazing girly weekends away or nights out and wonder how I ended up being the proverbial watcher through the window. Like a Peeping Tom but far less pervy. I’ve never been invited on a hen night or to someone’s wedding other than family and that’s not happened in years. When did I end up being the saddo Billy No Mates? I have plenty of online friends whom I’ve met through blogging, they’ve seen me through good and bad times and are always there for me but we’re talking travelling hundreds of miles to be anywhere near me so it’s really not practical to expect that to happen.

Although I’m not particularly bothered about the prospect of turning 40 I do want to mark it in some way, make memories because it only happens once. So that is my dilemma, short of asking Hooks & Dragons to crochet me some new buddies I’m pretty much stumped.

So if you’re at work full time and the Mum’s at gymnastics rebuff your attempts at small talk where the bloody heck do you find new friends these days? Answers on a postcard or you know just like point me in the direction of some people who won’t murder me and eat my liver.

Hi I’m Julie. Wanna play?

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The Poor Purple Corsa

I didn’t learn to drive until I was 27. I was never really interested nor could I afford it being a single parent but I managed to scrape the money every week and spend an hour with a man with an inate ability to talk non stop for an hour and not breathe. He didn’t have time I swear!

He was a funny man, always in smart business wear despite the fact he was boiling most of the time and his directions went from “and if you could just pull up here” to “pull over into the other lane now or you’re going to be squashed dead by that lorry.”

I wasn’t a very confident learner, mind you that’s pretty much me all over. I was forever saying I couldn’t and he was forever telling me I could. And after about 45 lessons I did. Well actually I didn’t, I failed the first time with my reverse around a corner. Something I have not once done in my 12 years of driving. I passed the second time with a few minors.

My Mum took me to buy my first car, as a surprise. Isn’t she awesome?! It was a purple Corsa 1.2 and I loved it! She made me drive it home across several dual carriageways and about 10 miles from home, I swear she did it on purpose! I crapped myself, not literally but it wasn’t far off and the one thing I will always remember about that day is getting stuck in the carpark outside her house. It was on a slant and there were cars everywhere, being used to learning with power steering and then having a car without was a recipe for disaster. I’m convinced to this day she got out and left me to it on purpose so I would just have to get on with it. She denies it of course but I know!

It took me a good 20 minutes and a 3456426 point turn to get out of there, by which time I’d attracted the neighbours. They obviously wouldn’t have known that I’d just passed my test but there isn’t really any need to be quite such a dick pointing and laughing is there?! I got out eventually, obviously! I didn’t die there in my little Corsa gripping the steering wheel and gritting my teeth. Bet the knobhead neighbours would have just tutted at me being in their way even if I had.

One normal boring old day I was pootling to work (love that word) and my poor purple Corsa and I had no idea it was the day it would go to the scrap heap in the sky.

I was on a dual carriageway approaching a roundabout to go straight over, nothing from my right so kept going. Out of nowhere someone coming from the left of the roundabout drove straight across in front of me. I shit a brick, braked as hard as possible, skidded a bit and smashed straight into the side of him. No air bags in my car so there I am sat in my car staring at the wide eyed bloke staring back at me. God it was surreal, like it was happening to someone else and I wasn’t there. I got out and he started screaming at me. “Look what you’ve done to my wife” he bellowed. Said wife smiled meekly and told him to be quiet. After all, he had in fact pulled out in front of me when I had right of way. We moved the cars, the police came, we swapped details and off I went to work. Yeah I went to work. My boss took one look at me and sent me off to the hospital, where I was checked over and declared fine but with whiplash.

My little purple Corsa was declared a write off and sadly was no more. I got a Renault Megane instead. WORST bloody car EVER. A few cars later and I now have a Hyundai which is bloody fab.

What’s the best/worst car you’ve owned?

julie-x-2

#Blogtober17

 

A Letter To My Kids Now I’m Working Full Time

I had a sense of Déjà vu as we sat down to talk. Remembering my Mum (Nana) doing the same thing to Uncle Justin and I. She said “do you want Mummy to be home all the time or do you want treats, holidays and days out?” We went for the latter. We always had holidays to Tenby, days out to Oakwood and much more. Mum worked hard (still does). She was a single parent for a while and it must have been exhausting for her, working all day and coming home to meet our demands too.

So I told you I was going to be at work Monday to Friday from now on because the other lady I work with was leaving and the opportunity was there. Daddy and I had talked about it and decided it was a good idea because we bumble along at the moment but this would make life easier. You looked sad for a little while as I went on to explain that I was doing it for us to have more money, for a better life. A chance to have holidays and more fun days out. “Could we have a holiday?” you piped up Little Man. “Where would you like to go?” I asked. “A caravan in Porthcawl” you answered and I gave you the biggest hug because when you’re little a caravan holiday to a seaside town with a fair, arcades and icecreams of all colours is beyond your wildest dreams.

I promise I will still be there to get you ready for school, to kiss you goodbye and tell you I love you before you start the walk to school with Daddy, I may not be there to pick you up from the gate but I will still take you to gymnastics Little Lady and tut at all the other parents who, despite being British don’t understand the concept of a queue. I will make it to all your concerts and parents evenings as I always have because I love to see your little faces light up when the teacher is saying all those lovely things about you. Even though in your case Little Lady I sometimes sit there with my mouth hanging open in disbelief as they tell me how quiet you are and they barely hear a peep out of you.

I reminded myself of Nana (in a good way, not in stern get your elbows off the table way) when I set about ironing a huge pile of your uniforms in a bid to be totally organised, I would usually wing it but I’m determined to start as I mean to go on and not rush around in a panic because I can’t find anything. So far we have got ourselves in a routine that works. I still get the best cuddles when I walk through the door, play board games on the bedroom floor and get our weekends all to ourselves. I hope that as you grow up you will see that working hard is good not only to keep your head above water financially but that it gives you good self esteem too as your older brother has found now he too has a full time job. I don’t claim to be the perfect Mum by any stretch of the imagination but I have and always will, try my best. Because I love the bones of you, my little monkeys.

Mum

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