A Fond Farewell to Playgroups

I’m dealing with my youngest going to school soon really well.

Totally fine.

I mean, I thought I had tonsillitis but it turns out to be a permanent lump in my throat from suppressed tears.

And there was that one incident where I went bat shit crazy for three weeks and made all sorts of terrible decisions and ended up with the husband patting me on the back and gently asking if it was ‘anything to do with Alex starting school soon?’

But other than that I’m totally chipper!

Today was a Thursday like any other so we bowled off to playgroup and then I realised…it was our last.ever.playgroup.

I held it together when one of the lovely volunteers poured me a cup of tea and offered me a Pink Wafer.

I held it together when we played kitchens and Alex ‘Masterchef’ SecondBorn made me a delicious sandwich.

I snivelled a bit when Alex and a crew of kids played outside together whilst I nattered to my Thursday PlayGroup Friends – some of whom are now in my phone and in my heart forever and some of whom I know I will never see again and I will forever wonder if Natalie will set a PB on the 10k she’s been training for or if Amy will find a job in Science that suits childcare hours or if little Jack’s warts will ever clear up.

I will never know.

A whole other generation of parents will be crafting and creating and fancy dressing and picking play-doh out of their shoes whilst I’m school-running and washing PE kits.

I finally lost my resolve when Alex was called up for a special goodbye song. He came back to his seat, proud as punch, and sat primly with his hands folded on his lap and sang along to nursery rhymes.

With watery eyes, I gazed at the back of his neck and saw in that moment how happy he will be at school.

And the tears whooshed because am so happy for him but so sad for me.

I am going to miss my playgroup pal, shopping trolley driver, cafe and cake comrade, mooch about house other half and little nattering kind soul. He’s a real cracker.

June Favourites

I’m glad it’s rained all month because it justifies the mammoth number of Parks and Recs episodes I have been watching on Prime- back to back for hours on end.

Knope ❤️

In between binging P&R, I’ve read Stephen King’s book, Sleeping Beauties. It was brilliant. The premise is all women turn in to cocoons when they fall asleep. It’s about the women trying to stay awake and save each other and how the men respond. It’s dark and clever and brilliant and…long but it’s a King so… Here it is for £3 including delivery.

Yep ❤️

And for anyone who likes culottes (who doesn’t- you can cycle in them, avoid thigh chafe and turn a cartwheel without flashing your pants), then I’ve bought these and they are summery and have pockets. Can’t seem to find them online but they’re £12.99 from H&M

Look! It’s got pockets!

Years ago, my sister bought me a Nars stick which I still love and haven’t yet had to replace! I love wearing it in summer because I like to think it makes me look sunkissed but perhaps just school-run sweaty in reality? Judge for yourself.

Is there a way to not look a twit while selfie-ing?

I’ve also just bought this book after hearing about it on Guilty Feminist podcast. I am going to learn all there is to know about this topic then regale you with fanny facts.

From the introduction

That’s it really. Other than moping about the cold and eating Boursin on Lidl pretzels I’ve not been up to much else. Hope you’ve all had an excellent June.

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.