A Love Story

The school hall is booming with music and murky yellow lights swirl around.

Under the lights, your Bambi legs twist and stumble. You fall over and they bend at angles. An older boy helps you up and the roller skates scrabble to take hold.

With dignity, you adjust your cowboy hat and fall again.

On the floor, legs bent about, kids whizzing past, you roll your eyes and tut.

You scramble up and in halting awkward moves make your way across the rink.

Push push fall fall up down sigh huff.

You don’t give up. The rink quietens. You catch the eye of other children and smile.

And even though I’ve never been brave. Even though when I was your age I sat out of a roller disco birthday because I was afraid I’d fall. Even though I’d sat at the sidelines and watched all the children I was desperate to be friends with twist and spin and laugh. Even though I just knew I couldn’t be like them.

Even though.

I strap on a pair of roller skates. Inch my way to the rink. Hold tightly to the edge. And feel the breeze as you swoosh past me.

In Place of Insta

Since deleting the app, I’ve filled my time in the following ways:

-gardening.

That’s it.

I’m obsessed with a nest of birds in our rose bush and cried actual tears when a hatchling died.

Studied this longer than I studied parenting manuals.

I’ve grown sweetcorn from seeds and nurture them with Prince Charles levels of nursery rhymes and affection. Just planted them outside and it was like watching your child go off to school.

Good luck, my sweet!

I’ve become OBSESSED with a mouse hole that’s popped up in my strawberry patch. I mercilessly set out bait then wept when I found a baby mouse dragging its back feet and shitting blood. Got dad to smack it with a spade and euthanise it.

I’m now googling what’s eating my strawberries: the mice are dead- now I’m out for the slugs.

And don’t get me started on my tumultuous relationship with the tomatoes. #needy

They even grow in a co-dependent way

Reasons to be Cheerful: May Favourites

Political apocalypse dragging you down? Got a head ringing with bad news? Here’s what’s been keeping me on the brink of ok this month:

Lidl Toffee Yum Yums

A cuppa tea, an open window and one of these will just about perk up any low moment.

Good Books

Not all cheerful but engrossing enough for escapism:

Educated

The Familiars

Normal People

I am I am I am (I know I go on about it)

Difficult Women (furious short stories)

Telly

Netflix’s Knock Down the House documentary follows the incredible Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other inspiring women in their pursuit for political power. That and Parks and Recs on Prime might be enough to warm cockles.

Podcasts

Shagged Married Annoyed should have you giggling. The Bechdel Cast’s unpicking of ‘feminist icon’ Paddington is totally endearing and worth a listen as is episode 2 of This is Love.

Exercise

Annoying and pious to say but a walk, a weight lift session, a bike ride or a YouTube yoga can shove out a bad mood.. I’ve been relying on CrossFit but I’ve given myself a gammy shoulder and a mean set of blisters so am going to rest for the week and rely on my favourite at-home workout

Digital Detox

Another self-satisfied suggestion but having deleted Facebook and Instagram, I feel all light and liberated. Pathetic really.

Perfect or Putrid: the rise of extreme parenting.

Anyone who’s on Instagram may feel that women must either be spaffing over cleaning spray or swimming in gin bottles and filth.

It’s reductive and infuriating.

On the one hand, there’s a swathe of women with bouncy ponytails and surgically white bedrooms who earnestly extol the virtues of buffing marble counter tops and micromanaging sock drawers. On the other, there’s ‘wine o’clock’, damp washing and nits.

Really? One or the other? So we’ve either crabbed in from the 1950s with hard eyebrows and white jeans or bundled in from a ’90s student bar still lighting our farts?

Yet again, women have been reduced to angels or devils and both are boring and bollocks because women are nuanced: grubby and tidy and lazy and sporty and loving and independent and funny and earnest.

This need for women to appear immaculate or incompetent doesn’t leave room for most of us. Most of us have piles of papers on our freshly-wiped kitchen table or wear mascara whilst we grit and gurn at the gym or snuggle under tea-stained textured throws.

Stop with the either/or: we are more than that because we are all of it.

Sometimes I tidy. Sometimes I don’t.

Why I’ve Sacked Off Social Media (for the foreseeable)

Because I was writing for clicks, likes and blog stats, not fun

Because whenever I was enjoying a moment, I was planning my caption

Because I was telling Insta my anecdotes and not the group WhatsApp

Because I can’t play the games or like things for likes

Because I felt left out despite not wanting to go

Because I felt too self-conscious but not fussed to try

Because I know about strangers’ bathroom tiles but haven’t cleaned mine

Because I’d got sad about vile trolls and tired of the bile

Because I starting seeing myself in third person and she’s a bit of a twat

Because I’ve learnt lots and made friends and listened and thought but now I need quiet so I can pester my friends and rest up my phone battery and stop taking photos and laugh at my own jokes and write just for fun.

But perhaps I’ll pop on Twitter and let everyone know…

Milestone of Dreams

We are all in a museum cafe last weekend chowing on cake and cheese sandwiches and playing a game of Chinese Whispers when the Wig Wearer stopped dead. He looked stricken. The boys didn’t notice because they were spitting crumbs as they whispered mummy is the worst between themselves.

Me: ‘Bab. You alright?’

TWW: ‘I’ve just realised. This is the first time we’ve been out without a backpack.’

Me: ‘…’

TWW: ‘No spare pants. No snacks. No bribes. No nappies. No toys.’

Me: ‘…’

TWW: ‘We just came out with keys, joint account and our museum passes’

Me: ‘…’

TWW: ‘Sal. We’ve made it.’

I suddenly felt naked and light and sad and relieved all at once.

And then a sugary hot breath is on me: ‘say daddy stinks of poo!’