Full of Wonder

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I bloody love half term. It is an exhausting whirlwind of manic activity which it takes me a week or so to recover from but it is totally ace. Not only is it a short, sweet, welcome break from the school run but it is also time to cram in as many of the things that school puts paid to during term time.

This half term is extra special as my husband has the whole week off and the kids have simply loved having both parents at their disposal. It has made my life a lot easier too, being able to divide and conquer. We’ve had lots of family time but we’ve both had a bit of quality time with the kids in ones and twos during the week too, without having to juggle all three at once. I love being able to focus on them individually and I know it means a lot to them too. I’ve even had a bit of me time – a very rare treat indeed.

imageThe kids are always more exhausted after half term than they were at the start of the week but that is a small price to pay for packing in so much fun, I reckon. We’ve done bowling, the cinema, spooky trails and catching up with friends. We’ve baked cakes and carved pumpkins. Hell, we’ve even had a craft session. I’m not a big fan of craft sessions (AKA make a massive mess and get bored after three minutes sessions) so I’m particularly proud of this one.

I can also smugly say that we’ve done some reading, maths and all the school homework. It is amazing what you can achieve when you have backup at home for an entire week.

As far as the kids are concerned, this week has mostly been about counting the days until Halloween. Halloween was always a bit of a non-event when we were kids but these days you can’t move for it. It has been pumped up and Americanised and, whilst I used to find all that a bit annoying, I now have kids who are just the right age to love it so I’m a convert these days. Although H and M aren’t actually fans of anything even slightly scary, so our Halloween is entirely cutesy and not remotely spooky.

The kids are super hyped up about tomorrow, apart from T who has no clue what is going on but is loving all the spiders and pumpkins. He is even getting into dressing up for the first time, refusing to remove his little bat outfit for hours on end.

We have a Halloween plan, thankfully. If we didn’t, the day itself would be very disappointing. Last year my mate and I held a ‘Halloween party’ at her house for our four tots. It was incredibly basic and involved nothing more than costumes, a bunch of spooky cakes and visiting the next door neighbours to go trick or treating. But the simplicity didn’t seem to bother them. They absolutely adored it, declaring it to be ‘the best party ever’. Thank goodness they are easily pleased at this age.

So, our second annual Halloween party is ready to go. This time we have even planned party games and there will be a grand total of 10 kids in attendance, so it has been entirely pimped up. H and M are fit to burst with excitement. The spooky festivities will be followed by a sleepover. We love a sleepover but this will be our first since T moved out of his cot, which could be interesting, especially after a small mountain of sugary treats. Still, my mate and I intend to crack open the bubbles early in the afternoon so, come bedtime, we are likely to be several sheets to the wind and take sleep-resistant shenanigans in our stride. I have found that there are few parenting problems that a bottle or three of prosecco and a good mate to giggle with cannot fix.

The next day will be a slightly bleary-eyed daytrip with the grandparents, followed by returning home and all collapsing in exhaustion. Luckily, we have an inset day on Monday to recover from it all, although I’m planning on filling that with soft play.

imageI think I am probably guilty of overdoing it during the holidays. OK, I know I am. It is a fault of mine that I feel compelled to fill time. My husband likes down time, sitting about and chilling out (which he intends to do all weekend while the kids and I are away). That all sounds lovely and I’m happy to do a bit of it on the rare occasions that I have the chance but I have come to the conclusion that I don’t really get down time. Even before kids, I was always wanting to fill my diary up, cramming it with things to look forward to. When I have quiet time, I get very bored very quickly.

I think in some ways I am the ideal person to have a big family. I am always busy and I love to plan. With three children to organise, I have plans coming out of my ears. My husband struggles with the mayhem. I positively thrive on it.

I realise I might be storing up problems for the kids. They are so used to things happening all the time that they are not always great at entertaining themselves on a quiet day. That said, I do throw the odd home day in here and there, like today, and they seem to cope. And I think the positives of all the fun they are having outweigh the negatives.

So, next time I sit down to write a blog post I am likely to be shattered and a bit sad about sending my little pickles back to school. But I like to think we have used our week well. I’m feeling entirely full of love for my little Halloween spooks right now. Seeing their joy at such simply things is one of the greatest pleasures of parenting. It makes you see the world anew, stripping off the years of cynicism we all lay down during our adult lives.

When a £2.50 pumpkin and a tea-light can light up their little faces so completely, the world doesn’t seem such a bad place. It is good to remember what it was like to see the world though the bright eyes of a child. To remember that even the simple things can be full of wonder.

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Changing Times

imageThe clocks have gone back. This used to mean an extra hour in bed. It was a small but gratefully received consolation for the start of the long winter darkness. Now it just means small body clocks being screwed up and hideous o’clock becoming even more hideous o’clock.

Baby T appears to be aware of some sort of clock related shenanigans but has got it somewhat arse-about-face. For the last fortnight he has been waking up earlier each day. This is far from good news, given the hour we just gained. He had a few weeks of waking at 6:30am, or even a heavenly 7am once or twice. But that is a distant memory now, sadly. It has been creeping earlier and earlier and this morning was just after 5am. Although that is actually 4am now, of course. Horrible beyond measure.

Sleep and lack thereof is something I just don’t think you ever get used to. I’m 7.5 years into my parenting journey and yes, it is obviously a lot better now than it was with tiny babies, but it still sucks to be woken painfully early day after day. It is also cumulative exhaustion that hurts now. The relentlessness of being yanked from sleep every day for years on end wears away at you.

imageI think my husband and I have sort of sheen of perma-tiredness written all over our faces. The skin around our eyes screams exhaustion. I am certain we have aged disproportionately in the last seven years. Sleep deprivation will do that to you, it seems.

I saw a friend last night with just two months to go to the birth of her first baby. I found myself being jealous of her, so fresh and at the beginning of that amazing journey. When you are pregnant, especially for the first time, your body becomes something incredibly special, something beyond what it has ever been before. You are a goddess, creator of life, cherished and treated with great care. Once the baby arrives and your body goes through the trauma of birth, it falls rapidly from being so revered and becomes a general punchbag, physically abused by your baby, mentally abused by you for all it’s sudden failings and sags. Never again will it reach such a pinnacle. It’s finest moment is passed and with that comes a sort of loss.

I am 38. Not old by many standards, but my body has been through the mill a bit and I am dog tired. That tiredness eats away at me. Even after a good sleep I can’t seem to shake it. It is more than tiredness. It is like a cloak with lead weights sewn into the hem. I’m not sure I’m even talking about sleep any more. I think there may be more to it than that. I feel life weary and much older than my years.

Each morning we are wrenched out of dream state by the ear-piercing screams of our youngest. Why he cannot simply wake and play in his room or even get up to come and find us is beyond me. No, it has to be deafening screams and crying big fat tears of abandonment. Every morning begins this way.

Then, some time later, he falls asleep pretty much anywhere he can: on my bed, on the rug, even on cold tiles once. Because he is utterly shattered. Because, much as he denies it at the crack of dawn, he needs more sleep. I know how he feels. But by the time he is kipping down somewhere cosy, the day has begun and there are two others to get breakfast for and prepare for the day ahead. Tired mornings lead to challenging days as he does nothing but moan, dictating the tone of the day and singlehandedly ruining our family time.

As with all these things, this too shall pass. I know that, of course, although it is hard to remember it at 4am. And it is my own stupid fault for having three kids, prolonging the sleep deprivation phase to fill the best part of a decade.

When you are a parent with kids that don’t sleep beautifully from 6 weeks old, as some angel kids seem to do, it is hard to imagine having a sleeper. The law of averages would suggest I’d get at least one good’un but no, they have all been pretty rubbish when it comes to sleep. I am so jealous of people whose kids love bed. So different is it from our experience that I almost think they must be making it up. Your two year old sleeps from 6pm until 8am with a two hour nap every day you say? Oh do shut up. You are obviously making it up to make me feel worse.

Tonight we will be enduring a later bedtime, through moans and tears of exhaustion – probably from me and T. I’m not sure how late we will be able to push it though. He is utterly shattered, obviously, and his bedtime body clock is very finely tuned to kick in bang on 7pm.

I need to get better at going to bed early again. But I resent losing out on my precious kid-free time by going to bed at 9pm. It is the only time of the day that I am not in demand, not being got at and climbed over. So I drag it out, going to bed far later than I know I should. It is my small act of rebellion which hurts me in the morning but feels empowering at the time.

The sun was shining this morning. Winter sun has a beauty about it that summer in all it’s glory cannot rival. And my lovely husband let me go back to bed when the scream alarm clock went off. So despite the clock change, this morning was good. So why don’t I feel rested? I wonder if I’m capable of feeling rested any more. I have adopted the habit of exhaustion.

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that loss of sleep may be the peg I am hanging a deeper feeling of loss on. I have lost something of myself, something more precious than sleep but something illusive, without name. It was lost a long time ago but I’ve only just noticed it is missing because my goals have changed with the time. For the first time in many years, my goal is not another baby. So what is it? I have become little more than my relentless day job: a Mum of three, manically running from place to place, worn out and worn down. There is nothing new coming, just more of the same.

I may not be able to shake the perpetual tiredness until I find something else to be too, something to fire me again, to make me something more than I have become. It may be time to try to find a way to break the exhaustion habit.

I think it is time for a change.

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Want a Piece of Me

imageYesterday wasn’t a great day. As always, after my husband has been away with work, we were all looking forward to seeing him and, as always, his return was followed by the usual problems. The kids actually behave much better for just one of us, bickering constantly when we are both parenting together. Weekends are looked forward to but can actually be a lot harder than week days.

Husband was tired and grumpy after a week of little sleep, I was resentful of the fact that I’d been looking after the kids all week and that he didn’t sweep in and take them off my hands. Unrealistic expectations all round led to a house full of grumpy, bad-tempered people. And if the kids weren’t grumpy before, they certainly were after they picked up on our moods.

So, it was back to the usual Saturday routine. Swimming, fighting over lunch, wondering how to keep the kids entertained, snapping at each other and being generally foul tempered. Welcome home!

These work trips of his often set me off feeling jealous, wanting some time out myself. Yes, I know he was working and it doesn’t sound like it was wall-to-wall fun but even so, the idea of spending five days away, discussing grown-up things without any small people hanging off me, sounds like bliss on a stick.

I work two days a week, which saves me from total madness – I’m not built to be a stay-at-home Mum. But, much as I love the charity I work for, the pay-off of having a part-time job you can fit around your family is often that it is less than fulfilling and a significant step down from your pre-kids career. I’m not complaining about that – it is my choice after all and I love being able to step away from the laptop at the end of the day without looking back – but it doesn’t challenge me or fulfil my creative urges in the same way that my husband’s job does for him.

But my grump isn’t really about work. I wouldn’t change my job for the world – the pros are far too numerous and many Mums would kill to take my place. It isn’t even about a week away, although God knows that would be amazing.

I am in a funk over something much more non-specific, something far less tangible. I am missing a piece. I have been for years (7.5 years to be precise) and I have yet to work out how to get it back. I am incredibly lucky to have my brood, my husband, my job, my happy and comfortable life. But with all that abundance of luck comes a sacrifice which sometimes seems entirely insignificant and sometimes feels like a gaping hole in my middle.

I am a creative type deep down. Right now, it is very deep down, but there is a little spark buried there. I used to act as a kid and I never felt more alive. I love to sing. I drive my kids (and probably the neighbours) crazy belting out songs on the radio. I’ve even dipped in and out of making jewellery over the years. This blog has made me realise that there is a bit of a writer in there too. Writing my thoughts here fires that little spark and keeps it ticking over. Being creative is a sure fire way of making your own happiness, of not allowing the moods of other, especially your immediate family, to dictate that happiness. Going out and grabbing some fulfilment for yourself.

I’m not talking about making a career out of being creative. I well and truly missed that boat, and it is one I am very happy to have missed. A life of living in a hovel ‘for my art’ doesn’t appeal. It is just about having an outlet. My creative outlets are so limited these days and, with not enough hours in the day as it is, that isn’t likely to change any time soon.

I am a Mother, an enabler of others. My primary role is to care, encourage and build my three little people. And I wholeheartedly embrace that. But maybe my own wonderful Mother did too good a job at enabling me, at the expense of her own creativity. Because when that sacrifice has to be made, on the day your first baby is born, it is that much harder to transition if you have been made to be a creative and free spirit.

imageI don’t feel much like a creative free spirit these days. In fact, that phrase is pretty laughable when you look at my day to day life. Just taking time to be myself is a luxury. Hell, even sitting down to have a cuppa without at least one small kid clambering all over me, driving trains up and down me and asking constant questions is almost impossible. To him, I am a carrier, a provider, a comfy cushion. I am the font of all knowledge, to answer his endless questions. I am whatever he needs me to be. “Mummy is a track” he says, as Thomas chugs up my legs and across my squishy post-baby tummy.

Yes, Mummy is all those things, my love. And I always will be (although I hope the track phase might end in the not too distant future). But Mummy is also lots of other things, some of which now hide in the pit of her stomach, biding their time, ever hopeful that they can emerge again one day. You don’t need to know about that now, but one day I hope you will see it and that it will fire your own creativity.

Sometimes I get angry and I don’t know why. And then I remember why and mope for a while. Have you ever tried moping with three kids demanding attention? It is very unsatisfactory, as moping goes. So, I give up on that eventually and remind myself how lucky I am.

My role these days is Mum. I hope I’m playing it well enough. For now, that will have to do.

Even if I sometimes forget who I am, under this pile of kids, I still know that I am incredibly lucky.

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Parents’ Evening High

imageThis week it was parents’ evening. It isn’t actually called that any more, it’s called ‘Parents’ Consultations’ these days, which is more accurate I guess, but kinda irritating too, if you know what I mean. But old habits and all that, so it is still known as parents’ evening in this house.

Now, last time I went to a parents’ evening I left in tears, and that was with my man as back-up, so there was a little bit of trepidation going on. The husband is away for work in Dusseldorf this week so I’m solo parenting. I spoke to him last night and he was in his crappy little hotel room eating takeaway pizza as the hotel ‘don’t do dinner’. Sounds pretty bleak and I don’t feel too jealous this time (although all that alone time, even with nothing but German TV and a pizza box for company, still sounds pretty good to me).

imageFirst appointment was with M’s teacher. The first parents’ evening for new starters is kinda pointless in a way and once we’d both said how happy she is and how well we think she is doing, there wasn’t a lot left to say. It was good to be reassured that everything is as positive in the classroom as M says it is though, and I was presented of lots of pictures is her getting stuck into everything, with Best Mate glued to her side. M and Best Mate are utterly inseparable but I’ve been reassured they have a very mature relationship for their age and don’t get jealous of other friends muscling in. I’m delighted they have each other to be honest. Best Mate is a really lovely little girl too, which helps.

I was amused to hear the teacher say M was “coming out of her shell now”. I know she can be shy with new people but she is just so full of her little self at home, I can’t imagine her being retiring for the first three weeks, as she apparently was. Mrs Reception sounded a little surprised when she said, “She actually has a bit of a cheeky side, doesn’t she?” Er, yeah. I should say so.

So, all good with our M. Next was the reason for my trepidation, my dear little H. I always have an appointment with the Special Education Needs lady who oversees the extra support H has so I saw her first. She said he was “just about keeping his head above water in class”, which was my only lump in throat moment. She had meant it as a positive but images of my little lad nearly drowning under a sea of spellings and times tables flooded my head.

She went on to tell me about the ‘interventions’ they have in place, to help him out with his spelling, handwriting and maths. He is going to have one afternoon a week of blitz time, to really target the areas he struggles with. Apparently Mrs SEN asked H whether he would like to spread these intervention sessions out over the week or do them all at once and he opted for the latter, saying it would be easier for him to learn that way and more fun. I could just hear him saying that in the adorably earnest little voice he uses when he knows he is being asked something important.

Final appointment was H’s new class teacher. While I waited for her to be free, I chatted and fell about laughing with one of the other Mums about inappropriate crying at these meetings, which I like to think helped ward off any possible repeat performance of tears and snot all over the teacher’s desk.

imageMiss Year 3 is just wonderful. I knew that before I even met her because H fell in love with her on first contact and has raved about her ever since. She is softly spoken and incredibly kind. I suspect she might have given me a big hug if I had started inappropriately snivelling on her. But I didn’t. There was no need.

The first thing she said to me was “Ah, H, he is just lovely“. And I could tell she really meant it. She didn’t start with his spider handwriting or his poor grasp of maths. It was just how damn lovely he is. She went on to say how polite and positive he is too. It was only after telling me how wonderful my boy is that we got to the things he needs to work on and his tendency to daydream, totally failing to take in instructions until the second or third reading, but even that was discussed with affection.

It is incredible how two parents’ evening experiences can be so dramatically different but I left with dry eyes, a smile on my face and a skip in my step. The mountain is still there to be climbed but I felt like we have a great, caring team of climbers around us, pulling on the ropes to help us up.

Being told that the kid you worry about, struggle with daily and work so hard with “has so many good qualities that he is bound to find his niche” is just the best thing ever. Not that I don’t know all this stuff deep down, of course. I know that he is bright and wonderful and unique but that the rigid school system doesn’t suit him too well right now. I know that he will find his place and that we aren’t there just yet. But me feeling all that and being told it by someone teaching him every day are very different things.

Miss Year 3 has only been teaching my boy for a few short weeks and in that time she has really got the measure of him. I left wanting to cry but for all the right reasons this time. I thought about hugging her but that would have been a bit weird so I resisted.

So, we have a plan for H, both at school and at home as we have a new tutor we are starting with after half term. So, we push on but don’t push too hard. He is only seven, after all. Be patient, encouraging and patient some more. Easier said than done much of the time, when his head is elsewhere and you have to ask the same question three times. But I will keep trying really hard to help in a way that works for him, because this is important stuff. And it is all new for both of us.

I dare say H will continue to be the one I worry about and M will continue to breeze through but who knows what will happen in future. And number 3 hasn’t even got started yet. God help us all when that little whirlwind hits the school. I wonder what his teachers will have to say…..

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School Run Horror

imageThe school run with three kids is never exactly easy but this morning really was something else. I actually had one of those weird out-of-body moments of looking down upon my frazzled self and my feral brood and wondering what the fuck had become of my life.

It was raining. I’m sure it is raining for about 80% of all school runs. After running late a few times recently, I was determined to make it on time today so got all kids to start the seemingly endless task of putting on shoes, jumpers and coats a whole five minutes early.

We’re currently leaving five minutes earlier than we used to anyway, to accommodate a very determined two-year old who wants to walk (whilst I push an empty pushchair, on stand-by to pin him into during any screaming tantrums he throws). It is only a five-minute walk, or ten minutes at T’s pace, so I don’t really mind him walking most of the time, although he refuses to hold my hand so it can be a bit hairy.

This morning we were ready to leave a good 15 minutes before school starts. I was feeling kinda smug that all three kids were outside the door and looking vaguely ready. OK, so T was refusing to wear a coat and M was struggling with her zip still but apart from that, we were in pretty good shape.

I wrangled the pushchair out of the garage, loaded up the bags, forced the coat onto the angry toddler and off we set. But we didn’t even make it off the drive before M started sobbing, stamping her foot and whingeing something unintelligible through snotty tears. I guessed it was her zip that was upsetting her and bent down to help but then she totally lost it.

I calmed her down enough to be able to explain what it was all about. She said that the Teaching Assistant in her class said she needs a new coat because her zip is useless, so she can’t wear this one today. This all seemed rather unlikely and I said that she must have got it wrong. Plus, I know that she has been lusting after her best mate’s gorgeous, puffy Frozen coat so suspected that she was just making something up as part of her ploy to talk me into getting her a new one. At this point she went a deep shade of red and started actually screaming. No words, just jumping up and down and screaming.

You know those terrible moments when you falter as a parent? You waver over what the hell you should do to best manage the situation and, because of that slight pause, that moment of indecision, you make things infinitely worse? Well, this was one of those moments. I knew I had to get the older two to school and I had no idea how to do it, with a screaming banshee and a rampaging toddler.

I looked away from my ballistic missile of a daughter and at her coat lying in a puddle, where it had been lobbed. I saw it from her point of view and suddenly realised that yes, it is a pretty shabby piece of red jumble sale tat. Sure, it is warm enough but it looks crappy and the zip isn’t exactly broken but it is a bit frayed at the bottom, making it tricky for tiny fingers. This was what was going though my mind in my split second, fatal pause: a good helping of motherhood guilt for making my child wear such tat.

I caved. I weighed up the options and thought maybe I had a quick fix that would stop the screaming and set us on our way. Instructing H to keep an eye on T, I ran upstairs and retrieved another second-hand coat I had on standby. Thinner and less waterproof but a bit less battered. Surely this would sort things out.

I presented M with this coat (it was pink, so I was sure I was onto a winner) but then made the ridiculous error of telling her that it didn’t have her name in yet but that I would sew a label in tonight. Well, that was a huge mistake. More intense screaming, more stamping.

imageSo, I had made a bad situation worse. And, worse than that, I’d shown weakness and a crack in the authority. Now they would all smell blood and I’d be doomed.

I paused again, looking down at the situation from above and trying to figure out a solution. T was running off down the road, M was refusing to move. Time to attempt to undo some of the damage done by being all soft and indecisive.

There are few things I hate more as a parent than having to physically force your kid to do something but I had little choice. I grabbed the baby and stuffed him, kicking and screaming into the pushchair, using the old knee in the midriff technique. Then I bunged both coats into the bottom of the buggy, grabbed M by the hand and started dragging her up the hill to school, watched by pretty much the whole village.

I know how bloody awful it must have looked, dragging one screamer, pushing another. I am sure in my pre-kid days I would have been outraged to see a mother treating her kids like that. I honestly don’t know how else I could have better handled the situation, although I am sure there are many more adept parents than me out there who would have had much better tactics. I was stressed, desperate and out of ideas.

We eventually made it to school with both still screaming. H hurriedly grabbed his bag and legged it off to class, delighted I’m sure to be shot of his horrific family for a few hours. I spotted M’s Teaching Assistant in the classroom and dragged M in, still yelling and coatless. Mrs. TA was not my favourite person at this point, I can tell you. It turns out she did say something the day before about maybe needing a new coat but there was a good dose of four-year old misinterpretation in there. I knew M would listen to Mrs TA more than she would to me so I let her explain that M had the wrong end of the stick. It did the trick and the screaming stopped at last.

So, M eventually went in with the thin, pink coat. I actually wanted to sit down on the playground train and sob at this point, perhaps setting fire to the red coat beside me to keep myself warm.

But I didn’t. I rounded up Terrible T, who was pushing his train and crawling through puddles, and headed back out of the playground, a shadow of my former self, trying not to make eye contact with all the infinitely better parents.

You get a bit of a false sense of security as a seasoned parent of multiple kids sometimes, a feeling that you can handle anything the little shits throw at you. Then you have a morning like that and remember that you are still totally winging it, entirely at the mercy of their moods. That you don’t know how to do it now, you just guess right more often than you used to. It is a grounding experience. One that I plan to drown with a large glass of wine this evening.

Anyone want a puffy red coat with a dodgy zip? I have one going begging.

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Missing Miss Independent

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You think I’d be used to it after over seven years of young kids, but I am still not very good at being financially dependent. In fact, I pretty much suck at it at times. I’ve just never got the hang of earning peanuts and relying on someone else’s income. Much as I love bringing up my kids and having the luxury of being able to work part-time, I miss the independent life of my youth sometimes.

OK, so my breadwinner isn’t just ‘someone else’, he is my husband and the father of my kids. And I don’t con myself that we were ever in a financially equal relationship. I’ve always earned peanuts, comparatively. I just used to earn more than I do now and they were my peanuts to do with as I wished.

I still work but these days it has to fit around my family. Two days a week for a charity hardly brings home the bacon. In fact, after the childcare costs have been taken out, there isn’t a lot left.

Most of the time, I deal with spending the old man’s money pretty well, especially when it comes to things the kids need. I happily wave the joint account card around to buy all the family stuff but it never feels like it is my money. Oh, how I miss having my money! I miss feeling like I could blow a whole month’s salary on a trip to Spain if the mood took me, and only have myself to answer to. I’m often told off for not referring to the pot of money as ‘ours’ but when you aren’t the one earning it, it is hard to see it that way.

For a while recently I had a little stash of savings that I dipped into for totally unnecessary things that I just fancied buying, or to spoil the kids when the joint pot was low. It felt so delightful to have a bit of cash in my own reserve that I could use as and when I liked, I can’t tell you. But it went. Money always does.

I don’t mean to make my husband sound like he is mean or holding the purse strings. He absolutely isn’t and he see us as a totally equal partnership. And we are hardly on the breadline. But we have three expensive kids to bring up, lots of things to pay for and we have to save up for a bigger house at some point, before we burst out at the seams of this one.

I get to buy myself clothes when I need them and to have nights out when I want them. But that all fits into my little budget each month. What I really miss is being free to blow some cash on something crazy, just because I want to. We still do the crazy thing from time to time but it isn’t my call. I don’t have control or, I have to admit, even much knowledge of the details of our finances most of the time. That is entirely my fault, I know that. But he is just so good at all the money shit, and I am so crap at it. I’ve slowly opted out over the years. Yes, bad me. I have only my self to blame for feeling all at sea with it all.

Spending money is just different somehow when the money is entirely your own. I miss that feeling.

imageI went out last Saturday in London for a fantastically decadent day of eating and drinking with some good friends. It was basically 11 hours of boozing and stuffing my face which, at London prices, cost me half my monthly budget in one day. At the time, I didn’t give two hoots. The next day, with a hangover and a tendency to have boozer guilts, I did a quick tally and felt rubbish. Now I’m gonna have to sub myself from the joint account later in the month. I basically drank the money we could have been saving. Ugh. Bad, bad Mummy.

At better moments, I know I basically have to shut the fuck up and get over myself. Who cares who earns the money, right? It is all ours, as my husband says, and it doesn’t matter who earns it and who does the staying at home bit. Much as I love to hear all that, I still haven’t worked out how to feel it.

Most of my mates who work part-time or not at all seem to think I’m crazy for caring. But maybe it is not really about earning less and more about having something of my own back.

My life is all about my kids and my family, which is the life I chose and as it should be. But I can’t help really wanting that little nest egg of my own, something to stick a flag in and lay claim to, to use in emergencies, like an urgent need to buy a totally impractical frock I may wear just once but that looks divine.

I know my desire for my own pot of cash is horribly unfair as everything my man earns automatically becomes ‘ours’. But I want mine to be ‘mine’. Selfish? Maybe. But there isn’t a lot of selfishness in my life these days. Being Miss Independent was so much fun. Is it so bad to want some of that back?

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