Tag Archives: #history

One third of a lifetime

It’s a funny old thing hitting 45 (as I did a month ago). As I said to K at the time, it’s proper middle age now, on the basis that 90 would be more than long enough, thank you very much. We went to see my brother, P, and his family at the weekend and we were reminiscing about a U2 concert we went to in our twenties. He has recently been to see them on their latest tour and it got us wondering about the year we went. We speculated for a few minutes, trying to work out where we were both working at the time, who we went with, etc, until he resorted to good old Google and discovered it was 1993 – the Zooropa tour. We were only out by a year or so but we were both shocked by how long ago it was. 1993 doesn’t sound that long ago to my ears, but 24 years ago sounds like a lifetime. In fact, it is exactly half of my brothers lifetime, being as he turns 48 tomorrow.

Someone else with a birthday tomorrow is my lovely boy. I like that he was born on my brother’s birthday – they are very alike in many ways and not all good ones – although at the time I was just desperate for him to finally be born after a couple of excruciating days and nights in the hospital. That was 15 years ago. One-third of my lifetime. I have held and loved this boy for 15 years; for a third of my life. Sometimes I can’t imagine or remember time before him. Although, the first few hours/days/months/years were hard going my life has been so much fuller, happier and just downright better with him in it than the years that went before (they were still very happy years, by the way, just to make that clear). Even if I sometimes feel as if I have my teenage brother as my son – sounds weird, believe me it’s even weirder living it – with his unwavering ability to wind me up and irritate me in the EXACT same way that P used to; although he may be smelly and grumpy at times; and even thought he has horrible feet; he makes me very proud.

With the two peas-in-a-pods birthdays imminent, so comes the end of the school year. My “on this day” app yesterday gave me a memory from 4 years ago – at T’s junior school leavers assembly. It seems incredible that this time next year he can leave school. And that A has almost finished her first year at secondary. Sometimes, I would like time to slow down, just a little bit.

 

 

Parents Evening, Parade, Pasta and Panic

It’s been a busy few weeks.

We had A’s first parents evening at her new school the week before last. You know, the really hot week with the hottest day since the year 1802 or something ridiculous (I know it wasn’t 1802 but I’m allowed to be silly, it’s my blog). Yes, well that was the day of parents evening. It’s not the most fun hour of anyone’s lives, I don’t imagine, but it was not only not fun – it was also VERY hot. OK so we’ve established the weather conditions, let’s get on to the actual content. Well, it was all very good indeed. As we have been told many times before by many teachers, A is well behaved, polite, conscientious and produces very neat work. She also appears to have a personality which is a relief. She does like to chat in class from time to time and she doesn’t always listen but other than that words like “superstar” and “pleasure” were bandied around quite a lot. The meeting that made me most proud was with her PE teacher, Miss W, who praised her to the point of nearly making us both cry (me and Miss W, not me and K) for being determined and pushing herself to do stuff that makes her scared. Bravo that girl. And bravo Miss W for making the very valid point that she does not need to compare herself to ANYONE else, only herself. I bloody love that woman and wish she had been MY PE teacher twenty years ago (ha ha!).

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Last weekend (not this one just gone, the one before) was Armed Forces day in our local town. T was taking part with his Police Cadet group, alongside Army Cadets from a local school, Marine cadets and Sea Cadets from the local area. They had a parade to begin with which made my eyes a bit misty. There’s something about a military band and people in uniform that makes me feel very emotional, so to see my son involved was pretty special. The rest of the day comprised of the cadets competing against each other in drills/uniform inspections; a climbing wall challenge; and, my favourite, a tug of war!

T’s group did very well in all events but particularly smashed the tug of war. They have a secret weapon in one of the lads who is built like the proverbial brick s**t house and was, needless to say, a very useful anchor man. The other lads and girl got really stuck in and thrashed the other teams, losing just one round out of nine.

The final part of the day was the announcement of the winners, and we were thrilled that T’s group won the overall competition. With only 7 of them attending it seemed like they were a bit thin on the ground but they didn’t let that stop them and, for the first time in the groups’ history, they came home with the trophy.

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Last week was enrichment week at the children’s school. T was not taking part as he went off to Wales for his geography field trip, but A was able to choose from a number of activities that school had arranged that they could do, supposedly to “enrich” their lives. Being as most of the trips were circa £20 plus a go, I politely suggested to A that she maybe chose one trip (pointing out that she had already been on the London Eye, she had been to the local zoo more times that she can remember, etc) and that she look at the activities going on in school for the other option. They have a year group sports day one day and geography field trip on another so she only had to decide on 2 days activities. She opted for the National Portrait Gallery and the in-school Masterchef day. She enjoyed the gallery trip but was slightly freaked out by the Run, Hide, Tell leaflet she was given in case of a terrorist attack, and slightly disconcerted by the boy in her group that insisted on holding her hand whilst on the underground! He was scared apparently. But the highlight of the week has to have been Masterchef – for her and us! – she made such amazing food. They were given a list of ingredients to take and a recipe sheet when they got to the food tech room, but then were left to their pwn devices to follow it and make their meals. We had dough balls with garlic and herb butter (much better than Pizza Express), followed by ricotta and pancetta ravioli, followed by white chocolate eclairs for dessert. It was all outstanding. (The pasta was so great it spurred me on to use the machine I bought on a whim a few months ago – A and I produced some pretty good tagliatelle together on Saturday evening). She was pipped at the post to the prize for her dessert but she was up against some year 8 and 9 students so she deserves to feel very proud.

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This morning I got to work quite early and got cracking on the weekend’s emails from the miserable buggers who buy our stuff our lovely customers. I was on the phone when a text pinged up from K asking me to call him urgently. As soon as I finished my call I rang him back as this is highly unusual! A had called him in a panic – she couldn’t get through to me (as I was on the phone) and she needed me to drop her PE kit off at school as she had forgotten it. Um. Er. Sorry, I am at work. For some reason, although I have been doing this job for just over 6 years, and I have been going into the office one the same days for the last 12 months, somehow everyone forgets and expects me to be able to drop everything and rescue them from their forgetfulness. I texted her to this effect, but slightly less aggressively, but basically saying tough, you will have to suffer the consequences. Literally, their punishments are called “consequences”, ranging from a C1 for minor misdemeanours (forgetting a book, or a pen, or their name) to a C5 – Saturday morning detention, and the same for homework misdemeanours but prefixed with a H. I sat waiting for the explosion of a text that I was expecting to get back at break time. Luckily, for both of us, the lovely Miss W said that she would “let her off” on this occasion as she had such an unblemished record (she hasn’t received a single C1 since the start of the school year – thank god she has that chatty personality as she could be on the way to being a bit of a swot) but on the understanding that she DID NOT TELL A SOUL. I bloody love Miss W, did I mention that earlier?

We spoke in length in the car on the way home – well, I spoke and she said “I Know!!!” a lot – about how I HAVE A JOB, and I GO TO THE OFFICE on certain days and if we could perhaps just go with a blanket rule of “if you forget your stuff, you take the punishment” we will all be a lot happier. Well, I will as it will mean that I don’t spend hours feeling like a complete and utter tool for refusing to drive a 10+ mile round trip to drop something off.

Remember the proud moments and the pasta. And breathe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Political Protest

I’ve never had very strong political leanings, in fact none at all really. My parents didn’t really talk politics when P and I were growing up. My dad used to mutter about “that bloody woman” referring to Margaret Thatcher but I think really only because he didn’t like her manner more than disagreeing with her actual policies. I don’t remember any heated debates about politicians or who to vote for and if I ever asked Dad would joke (but mean it) that that information was between him and the ballot slip and basically it was none of my business.

When I was a teenager I went through a phase and joined an anti-vivisection movement (BUAV) and wore T-shirts, bought cruelty-free make up and toiletries and wrote letters to politicians. I quickly grew out of it when I realised that I could never take it that step further and go vegetarian or go on a march/demonstration – just too fussy an eater and frankly a scaredy-cat. I also got a job and had other things to take up my time – boyfriends, the pub, etc.

As an adult I have always voted. My parents did instil that in me, and my Nan to some degree – the old “women died so you could vote” thing, which of course is totally spot on and I would encourage everyone to use their precious right. In fact, K had never voted until we met and I think I shamed him into it. He is also from a family where politics were rarely discussed and he was probably too busy clubbing to give it much thought. Then he met me and he stopped clubbing and became a bit more sensible, bought a house, started voting, that sort of thing.

Although I have always voted, I have never really had a strong sense of purpose or real need to change things. Obviously, there have been things in the past that I have thought were not the best ideas and I do keep relatively up to date with current affairs. For example, I know who the current Prime Minister is, and I understand the basic differences between the parties. But I didn’t go to uni, where a lot of my contemporaries gained their political leanings, and I have never worked in the public sector or had to claim benefits (for which I am very grateful) and I know I live in a bit of a bubble. I’ve talked before about my aversion for the “real world” and all the horrors it can hold and I am a self-confessed ostrich with my head firmly in the sand when there is stuff I don’t want to know about. And I can be a bit near sighted about issues, really only seeing how things will affect the world within my bubble. Please don’t misunderstand, I have empathy by the bucket load and I feel plenty for people on waiting lists, people with housing issues, people working in the public sector for crap money, people caring for relatives, I can go on. But my voting in the past has been probably quite narrow-minded. And I feel a little embarrassed by that. The truth is, I just don’t know enough.

The impending General Election that will take place tomorrow has me in a quandary. I don’t know if it is because there are so many contentious subjects at play: Brexit, terrorism, the NHS crisis, the education system, etc; whether it is because the children are older and this feels more about doing it for them; or if I am just getting older and more worried about stuff. But I have looked at more info for this election than any ever before. The EU referendum was a no brainer for me as I work for a tiny company trading in Europe and selfishly I would like the business to survive. This election is far less cut and dried for me and I am worried about making the wrong decision. My Twitter feed is full of anger towards Teresa May and pleading with me to vote for the other bloke (I’m kidding I do know his name, Tony something?) but I follow a lot of actors and writers and they are notoriously left-wing so I can’t really make my vote on that basis. I have tried to find unbiased, truthful viewpoints. I know you are probably sniggering at my naivety. Unbiased? Truthful? I do know this is an election, with politicians, right? I have read the leaflets, read the pertinent parts of the manifestos; I have taken quizzes  – no, not on Facebook to find out what the colour of my eyes means about the career I should have –  actual quizzes based on the actual party manifestos, and what have they told me? Nothing. Big fat nothing. It turns out I am undecided – oh really? It seems I actually want someone who is cross-party, someone who will pick out the bits I agree with from each party and say “hey you, vote for me, I will make everything all right.” Sadly, I don’t think there is time.

So, what to do? Not vote? Not an option. Vote for the lesser of the 2 evils? (let’s face it there are only really 2 options). Throw away the vote and go Green? Show some throw-back loyalty to my first every boyfriend who is running for parliament for the Lib-Dems for the first time, bless him. I really don’t know. And there’s no point asking me tomorrow because remember, it’s between me and the ballot paper. I envy those of you with clear minds, either based on your jobs or your past experiences or your upbringings.

What I would like to do is go back to my fifteen year old self and tell her to get an opinion, find out information, ask questions, maybe even go to some events. What I want is to be able to talk about it with my children so that they get some ideas about it all. I can’t be the only parent who struggles to explain it to their children? If I can’t find unbiased, useful info then how can I expect them to? I know we can read the manifesto’s and the leaflets but in reality how much of that stuff will actually happen? How many of the promises will fall by the wayside when they realise that it simply won’t work? How cynical do I sound for someone with no political leanings?

We will know in the next 36 hours or so who is going to be running the country for the next 4 years. And, frankly, I am worried.

 

 

 

A sunny happy birthday

For the last two years it has rained, not just small showers but torrential downpours, on my birthday. Two years ago I had requested that we visit Hampton Court Palace on my birthday as K and I had done 14 years previously. The weather was not on my side and so we had to postpone, until the summer holidays. Last year I didn’t even bother planning anything as I had been so disappointed the previous year. This year, as luck would have it, the weather forecast looked good a week before and continued to look good as the day got closer. I am lucky to have my birthday in the May Half Term holidays and I love it mainly for that reason alone. I don’t have to get up early (we often take the week off of work in May half term) to get the kids off to school, I don’t have to spend the day waiting for them and K to return from work to begin celebrating. I say celebrating, please be aware that I mean this in a very low-key manner. The only year that my birthday was not in Half Term was my 40th (5 years ago) when Her Majesty the Queen decided that she had some sort of special occasion (a Jubilee or something similarly inconsequential) to celebrate and half term was pushed back a week. How very dare she?

Anyway, back to me and this year’s birthday. I wasn’t able to take the week off this year due to staffing issues, so K and I booked my birthday and we’ve wangled a long weekend at the end of the week due to an inset day. As I mentioned, the weather was looking good, but rather than push my luck I asked if we could go out for breakfast somewhere nice and then, weather permitting, all I really wanted to do was go for a bit of a stroll around some nice gardens (National Trust membership comes in useful for this) and maybe a cream tea in a nice tea shop garden afterwards. If the weather decided to turn then at least I had had my lovely breakfast and we could rethink the afternoon. But there was no need to change the plans, as the sun continued to shine all day and I had the loveliest birthday I can remember in a long time.

At the age of twenty (although even then I wasn’t a party animal) I would never have dreamed that a quiet breakfast in a posh hotel with my family and mum and dad followed by a stroll around some gardens would be how I would want to spend my birthday when I was older. But it was and it was perfect.

After a bit of a lie-in (you know me and lie-ins), and having opened some lovely presents and cards, we met G&G for breakfast at Luton Hoo Hotel a few miles away. We had a very relaxed morning in their lounge area where they serve coffees/teas and pastries or in my case French toast with bacon and maple syrup. We took lots of pictures and recreated a photo of T and A on the stairway coming down into the lobby that we had taken a few years before when we went for my birthday for the first time. We had a bit of a wander around the grounds and then said goodbye to G&G.


We went on to Ascott House about 40 minutes away in Wing. We’ve never been before despite it being so close to home, and I am glad we saved it for a special day. It was a lovely house with a real homely feel about it – in fact it turns out that the de Rothschild family do still inhabit the house and many of the rooms are their private rooms that they allow the public to walk through. My favourite room in any NT home is always the library and this one didn’t disappoint. With window seats and squashy sofas for relaxing on, floor to ceiling bookcases and a lovely light wood finish, I could have spent all day in there. It even had a “secret” door which had fake books inlaid into it with made up names that the owner had had a hand in coming up with – some of them were very funny and A and I had a good giggle over them.

The gardens were beautiful and varied and we literally strolled around – even the teen and tween were happy enough, but I think it was probably the prospect of a piece of cake at the end of it that kept them focused. That was the only let down of the whole day. I had been thinking about a scone and jam with a cup of tea all afternoon, but they had run out! Not good enough! I didn’t throw a strop though and forced a blueberry blondie down instead. Tough life.


We came home and I opened some gifts that had come in the post and K opened a bottle of Prosecco. A lovely dinner cooked by K and a slice of birthday cake baked by A (yes, more cake, it was my birthday and I’ll eat cake if I want to).


It was a truly lovely birthday and the sun didn’t stop shining all day. Just for me.

 

A lump in my throat

I’ve just waved K off as he heads off to Germany for a week. Well, 5 days and 6 nights to be precise, he will be back next Friday, but it feels like a week. Since we moved in together 17 years ago, we have never spent more than 2 nights apart. Neither of us has ever been inclined towards holidays away with friends without each other, even if we had the means. We’ve always wanted to go away together, and since having the children this has been a given. I’ve had weekends away, he’s had work trips away, so this trip has made us both a tad unsettled.

I need to explain. We’re not a lovey-dovey couple who can’t bear to be apart. We don’t shower each other with overt displays of affection. We just like being together. We like being at home in the evenings watching a bit of TV and chatting about stuff. We like spending time with the kids (why else have them?). We just like it that way. Of course we have time apart, we both have friends that we see (me more than  K as his friends are dispersed far and wide) and we do go out separately, but more often than not we are together. I often joke with friends that I would only miss him if he wasn’t here because I would have to put the bins out (in fairness it was one of the things I thought of when I knew he was leaving on a Sunday – “but it’s bin night!”) but in reality he does far more than that. He makes me feel grounded and he stops me worrying so much about stupid stuff and he makes me laugh. When he’s not here it just doesn’t feel right. And I can pretty much forget about sleeping.

K is nervous about the trip for different reasons to me. He hasn’t been abroad with work before. He hasn’t flown alone before. I usually organise trips (apart from last summer holiday) and take the blame when it all goes wrong. This makes him sound useless and a bit pathetic – he’s not, he is more than able to sort this and he has made all the arrangements necessary. He’s just not confident that it will all work out. He’s a bit apprehensive about the itinerary while he is away – mainly because he doesn’t have one. He is unsure what format the trip will take and he doesn’t know if there will be any communication issues, as he doesn’t speak any German. I’ve assured him that their spoken English will probably be better than his (let’s face it, he’s a brummie) and for him not to worry. A has given him the phrase “My name is K…” in German as a little bit of help. I suggested a name badge.

Making stupid jokes is the way we (in our family) seem to deal with nervous moments. I think it’s so that the subject matter seems less ominous. It doesn’t mean we don’t care, it’s just our way of saying “hey don’t worry it will all be OK” without actually saying it (because we are not American).  Here’s a case in point: K developed a rather unfortunate lump on his neck a few days ago and has had to get it seen to by the doctor. She diagnosed a boil (sounds very 1950’s) and prescribed a steroid cream. T’s immediate response was to refer to it as Susan. This has now stuck firmly in all our minds and we now say “Susan’s looking better” rather than “your boil is not too bad”. It’s mainly due to relief that the lump was nothing more sinister and therefore we can be silly about it. I was rather disappointed that my comment of it being where his bolts had been removed was overtaken by the Susan comment, but you can’t win them all.

An email K received from his German colleague last week confirmed the hotel booking and the plans for collecting him from the airport. It was signed off with “we look forward to welcoming you to our house”. Of course, we said this was surely due to a Google Translate issue and that they meant “to our company offices/our place/our town”. Then, we saw the hotel booking was for bed and breakfast. Still no big deal, as no doubt they will be taking him out for food each night rather than expect him to sit alone in a hotel restaurant (for K this would be almost preferable to having to be sociable). And then, it hit me. “Welcoming you to our house” might mean exactly that and he could be dining “chez nous” as the French would say (I have no idea what the German equivalent is). Unfortunately, the kids overheard our conversation and we now have an ongoing joke that he is going to be having selfies with Helga and Wilhelm, the directors lovely kinder, while eating home-cooked bratwurst and sauerkraut. Even his Auntie S joined in when we saw them last weekend. I was slightly perturbed by his Uncle D’s comment of “watch out for the lady-boys”. K reiterated that it was Germany he was going to not Thailand, and we have since put it down to a slip of the tongue; we think he meant to say “lederhosen”.

Joking aside, we will all miss him massively while he is away. A has sneaked a letter and cuddly Panda toy (his nickname) into his suitcase, T has been giving him way more hugs (i.e. more than one) than usual and I have found myself looking at him a bit longer than I normally would (i.e. more than a few milliseconds). He has promised to FaceTime and asked if I would like him to bring back a bottle of Gin from duty-free (did he even need to ask?) so it’s not all bad. The week will soon be over and he will be back with us: annoying us with his singing, farting and general nonsense. And it will be fab.

 

 

Re: the title of the blog piece. Whenever I am a bit stressed, I get the sensation of having a lump in my throat. I first had it when we were planning our wedding and after weeks and weeks of being convinced I had throat cancer and would not make it to the wedding day, I finally plucked up the courage to see the doctor (funnily enough, the very same one that diagnosed Susan) and she gently asked me if there was anything big going on in my life, with a quick diagnosis of a stress-related phantom ‘lump’. It comes and goes at certain times but is never more apt than when waving K off this lunchtime. A true lump in the throat moment.

Home Alone

Don’t worry, this isn’t a film review about small blonde boys running amok, scaring off incompetent burglars. I’m talking about me. Again.

It is the Easter holidays and I have worked for the first two days and now I have a glorious (regardless of the weather) 12 days off (including weekends). K is off for just slightly less time. We don’t have much planned; we’re not going away. I am mostly looking forward to not rushing up – I don’t like to lie-in but anything past 6.30am will do me fine, thank you very much. I am looking forward to not having to sit at a computer all day. I am looking forward to some walks and maybe some bike rides and perhaps a day-trip to the coast.

The kids, on the other hand, have made it very clear that they are cramming as much time with their friends into these first 2 days as is humanly possible, as they will be stuck with me and K for the remainder of the holidays. They haven’t said it out loud, but I can tell. I asked them both to ensure that all homework is done before the close of business today (no I didn’t use that exact phrase) so that we don’t end up with frantic, last-minute panicking ruining our break. A spent most of yesterday doing all of hers and has free time today to go out with friends. T’s response was “but I only have these 2 days to see my friends…..” (and then I am going to have to spend the rest of the time with you, you boring old woman, and you are going to make me do ‘family stuff’ and I will be bored, so no, I am not going to do my R.E. revision, are you mad?)  It’s the unsaid words that are the loudest.

I love that my kids have friends that live close by and that they have a safe environment to go out in and that they are free to do as they like (within reason) most of the time. T has spent most of his free time lately going for long treks through the local woods with his friends, undoubtedly annoying dog walkers and wild animals. A pops out with a friend, they come back here and giggle in her room. It’s lovely.

But, I see friends with younger kids going to the Zoo, the Farm, the Park and I feel a bit wistful. I used to love going to the Zoo. I still would love going to the Zoo but might look a a bit odd on my own. I suppose I am forgetting the horrendous trips where it started raining and we had to dash back to the car, or when someone spilt their ice-cream all over themselves, or the time at the Farm when my friend’s child slipped over in pig excrement (this wasn’t just poo it was Excrement with a capital E) and we all stood horrified not knowing what to do with him. Or the time when we went to the seaside and A fell over at the waters edge and I HADN’T TAKEN A CHANGE OF CLOTHES (*) so she spent the day in her brothers thankfully very long hoody in lieu of  a dress. The list of nightmare events while attempting to enjoy ourselves is never-ending. But, I forget all those when I see my friends pictures of little faces beaming at lambs, or baby elephants. I remember the time when T held a rabbit for the first time and the look on his face and him whispering to me how soft it was still makes me want to weep. And the time when A wanted to feed the lamb but was too scared so we did it together and she held my hand while I held the bottle and we laughed at how hard it was to keep hold of it, even with 2 of us doing it. I wish I had enjoyed those moments a bit more. I wish I recalled those moments more than the ones with sick involved.

As much as I would love more of these moments, I am not going to force my kids to spend the next 12 days solely in my company. We will have some days out where we will be on our own together, just us four. But, it wouldn’t be fair on them to stop them going out and seeing their friends. I am sure K and I will have plenty of Home Alone time and that is quite nice too, especially as it is guilt free alone time, i.e. we haven’t ditched the kids at my mum’s or taken time off during term time to have a day off on our own – the kids are off out doing their own thing, having a great time, and so we can too. There are definite bonuses to having children old enough to fend for themselves, who like to be left to their own devices sometimes (most of the time) and who, when they do spend time with us, are good to chat to and nice to be around (most of the time) and who are less likely to puke down themselves, fall in mud (or excrement) or into the sea.

So, although I may be feeling wistful at the ever-changing, teenager-centric, world I live in and remembering the rabbits, I do actually quite like it how it is now. For now.

 

(* a lesson I never really learned from and still see as one of my biggest mum-failures. T had to once borrow a pair of pants from the well-stocked boot of my friends car when he had a slight accident on a day out at the farm – the same farm as the pig poo episode but on a different occasion.)

Why I’m finally ditching the scales

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I started my first diet at the age of 14. I was feeling unconfident. I was probably getting to the stage that many teenage girls go through and comparing myself to my friends I felt huge. I wasn’t; I was perfectly fine. But, I wanted to lose weight and so I embarked on the Rosemary Conley Hip and Thigh Diet. It was a revolutionary diet at the time and it focused on the areas that I was unhappy with (and if I’m honest, still am) and so that was that. I can’t remember how much weight or inches I lost; probably not a huge amount as I didn’t have a huge amount to lose but it was the start of a lifelong cycle of dieting – Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Rosemary Conley, GI Diet, Slimming World again, – gaining weight, dieting for a special occasion or because it was a new year or summer was looming. I can’t remember a single year in the last 30 when I haven’t embarked on some sort of regime to lose weight and achieve that ever-elusive goal of feeling happy with my body.

I can count on one hand the number of times when I have felt happy with myself: when I went on holiday in 1996 and met K, I was happy and confident and I look back at the time as my golden year; when I was pregnant with A, I remember feeling proud of my body as I didn’t go crazy eating everything I could lay my hands on as I did when I was expecting T and I felt good – I was still huge but in a definitely pregnant way and not in a “is she just fat?” way;  when I got married I felt alright, but I can vividly remember feeling unhappy with my upper arms. The rest was OK as I was in a boned dress which held me in and an a-line skirt covered my legs and bum. It was just my arms that were on show and I was very conscious of them. What an awful thing to have as a resounding memory from a very special day.

So, in 30 years of dieting I can pinpoint around 3 times when I have felt good-ish about myself. I have had mini-moments at other times I’m sure, maybe on a night out in a new top or a pair of jeans that fitted well, but never for any prolonged periods of time, and the times when I have gone out feeling dreadful and wishing I was somewhere else – preferably at home in my pyjamas – far outweigh those mini-moments.

I know that there are exercise regimes that promise to sort out my thighs or my upper arms, that I could lose half a stone or more by following a diet plan, or by starting running. But I have reached the ripe old age of 44 and I have realised that I am probably never going to be happy with my body. So why am I still trying to remedy this? Why am I making myself feel unwell by starting yet another healthy eating regime (when I already eat pretty darn healthily anyway and it only messes up my system and flares up my tummy troubles)? I have had the worst week with my tummy since April last year and I can pinpoint it to a drastic change in my diet. It makes me feel debilitated and stops me wanting to go anywhere or see anyone. It stops me wanting to go for walks and it stops me wanting to make plans. How is that going to make me happy? Simple answer: it’s not. And if I’m still not going to be happy with my body after it all (based on the last 30 years) then why am I doing it?

The answer: I am obsessed with the scales and with being a “good” weight. This for me has always been the holy grail. I can put chunky arms and wobbly thighs to the back of my mind if the scales are saying the right things. And they can kill a good mood like switching off a light: I can wake up feeling pretty good, the sun is shining (not today obvs) and I’ve slept OK (again, not today) but then I go and step on the scales and BOOM I will be almost in tears of despair. All because of some numbers on a small battery operated machine. I have a set of numbers in my head and if the scales don’t show something between those numbers then I feel worthless, useless, hopeless. Even if I had previously been feeling relatively comfortable, relatively healthy. And it’s only those numbers that make me embark on regimes and make me stop eating things that aren’t bad but which are deemed off limits by the people in the know – the people who run diet clubs, the people with a new book to sell or a new DVD to promote.

So, rather than end up with pains and a bloated stomach that can’t be contained, but that was previously not that bad really, just not perfect and never will be (hallelujah – it’s only taken 30 years), I am ditching the scales. I am ditching the diet books. I am going to teach myself to not flinch when I look in the mirror, I am going to be nicer to me. I am going to make myself look at the bits I don’t like and try and see them as just little minor imperfections, little flaws that make up ME. If someone gives me a compliment (here’s hoping) I will thank them graciously and maybe even make a mental note of it so that I can drag it out to cheer myself up with when the new tactics are struggling a little.

But mainly I am going to just stop trying to make myself into something I will never be: stop comparing myself to people who are 3 feet shorter or 2 feet taller or just basically an entirely different person to me. I can only compare me to me and I’m not even going to do that anymore – no more comparing the me of now to the me of my twenties or the me of my thirties. I am me as I am now and I am going to try and be happy with it. Bye bye scales and diet books. From now on it’s me and …….just me.