The perils of ‘Happy’ Occasions

January brings with it hundreds if not thousands of folk exclaiming “Happy New Year” like it’s a command; like it’s a militant instruction. “It’s a new year – Be happy or else!” And they sure look happy don’t they? All the well dressed, well drunk, groups of comrades linking arms, counting down the clock and screeching “Happy New Year!” whilst I’m staring at my M&S meal deal in my dressing gown wondering what exactly I’m doing wrong to not feel happiness at this landmark at all.

These, of course are the perils of so called “Happy” occasions.

Weddings – I’ve had a couple. We hire a photographer to capture this happiest day of our lives – so you better sure as Hell smile till you can’t feel your face anymore. Everyone – and I mean everyone is watching. This is literally the end of every single Jane Austen novel. You’ve reached peak happiness. Then why do I feel so utterly anxious, paranoid and on edge? Why do I imagine everyone whispering “I give this one a year” under their breath. Why have I never been so aware of my weight? What if he is late? What if everyone is late? And worse still – what if I don’t feel the euphoria I am supposed to? I am happy to be married but as for my wedding day – I felt more happiness at a Carvery.

The birth of a baby. Well – not just any baby: your baby! Sure there can’t be any happier moment could there? After the birth of my first born I distinctly remember putting a status on Facebook “I have literally never been this happy in my entire life!” Wrong – what I was, was higher than I had ever been in my entire life on diamorphine, two epidurals and four days of starvation. The come down was brutal. I have never been so terrified in my life. I was convinced if I took my eyes off my baby for one second he would stop breathing. I pissed in a vase in the bedroom because I didn’t want to walk across the hall to the actual toilet. I was convinced the Health Visitor was going to take him away because I couldn’t get him to latch. And don’t get me started on pregnancy.

Christmas day. There was a moment on Christmas morning when my son was ripping through his gifts and I felt nowt. I shook myself – why don’t you feel happy? This is what Christmas is all about – and this is what you’ve been waiting for for months. So I got a black bin bag for the wrapping paper because that’s what mums do. I felt real joy on Christmas eve – don’t get me wrong – I’m not Scrooge. Maybe the build up is better than the main event.

Birthdays – never quite as happy as they should be. What’s happy about being Thirty Five on a specific date – you’re half way to seventy! Smile!

So we don’t feel happy, even though society tells us we have to be. So we feel like we’re in the wrong or not normal. And of course we feel like we’ve failed.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel happy on the occasions you’re supposed to. Maybe you’re just not like everyone else; and maybe that’s just fine.

I don’t want you to leave me thinking I’m downright miserable so I shall leave you with three moments of pure happiness* and wish you a so-so New Year. Be averagely satisfied one and all.

*  my youngest son dipping his feet in the sea in Scarborough and squealing with delight and happiness. I wept happy tears.

*  Sitting alone in a restaurant in Rome eating Gnocchi with a carafe of wine.

* Walking around Whitby with my first born in a sling getting coos from elderly ladies and feeling utter pride.

 

 

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The Empty Chair at Christmas

Last night my husband very casually informed me that Leon from Gogglebox had passed away. He certainly wasn’t expecting my reaction; which was to sob my heart out. I feel sadness whenever I hear of anyone’s passing – obviously – but Leon really did upset me. The image I couldn’t get out of my head was of June sitting next to an empty chair; that famous chair we have all watched for so many years.

My husband told me this news as I was sat next to him watching TV. This doesn’t happen very often but it’s Christmas so we have been making an effort to watch things together. So here I was, the wife sat next to the husband watching the box – just like June and Leon. I sobbed further at the prospect that one day one half of our sofa will be empty too. Pretty morbid for the festive season – I apologise.

I read a quote on Twitter the other day about Christmas being about hope for the future for children, but for adults it’s always about the empty chair at the table. It was such a sad quote.

I have been so lucky in my life. I have a small, close family. I am an only child and because of this Christmas day is always spent with my Mum and Dad and that’s about it. Sometimes a boyfriend would join us and perhaps a gran if she didn’t get a better offer.

In later years I made my folks grandparents and married so now Christmas is the five of us. Our small, perfect family. I am so incredibly lucky to say I have never experienced the empty chair at Christmas.

Leon’s passing has just imprinted a picture onto my heart of an empty chair in that living room and I feel so very sad for lovely June.

If you are trying to cope with your empty chair this Christmas I am so very sorry too.

We never know when our Christmases are going to change forever. I know I am going to savour every person sitting around the table tomorrow and hug them all a little tighter.

God Bless Leon. Rest in Peace.

Romance After Children

Oh I don’t begrudge you, couples. When I see you all loved up, holding hands, making moon eyes at each other, holding me up in the Krispy Kreme queue. You can have your romance. You can have your pre children moments – just as I did. But just heed me this – if you choose to have children:

  • there will come a time when the only reason you will passionately kiss each other is because either of you has had a near death experience – or you’re so off your tits you have mistaken each other for someone else.
  • There will come a time when him being home at the weekend means one more person to hoover around.
  • there will come a time when the sexiest thing your other half can do for you is change a dirty nappy, scrape the mould off a baking dish you left in the oven so you don’t have to throw another one away, find your toddler’s ‘other’ shoe that has been missing since last year, fill the dishwasher correctly, or offer you a hot cup of tea.
  • there will come a time when the only time you look at him with pure adoration and a tear in your eye is when he is putting out the bins or giving the toddler a bath.
  • your bed will be used for sleep and the only ‘position’ that makes you excited is him facing the other way, as far away from you as possible and not hogging the duvet.
  • the kinkiest thing about your sex life will be the extremes you go to to not get pregnant again.
  • your fights will solely be about how much or how little each other do in regard to housework, the children, work and finances.
  • time together in a fancy hotel will consist of you having a two hour hot bath with a cocktail and him sleeping.
  • If he is ever late home from work your first thought is not “who is he sleeping with?” it’s “ooh! maybe I can watch ‘Dinner Date’ in peace!

Romance to me used to mean:

public displays of affection

all the right words

doing everything together

being as one.

Romance to me after children means:

‘don’t touch me!’,

your words are useless – your sonnets aint gonna get that dishwasher emptied,

separate rooms and

being left alone to enjoy the silence.

I don’t have time for jealousy anymore. The other night I watched a man on ‘The Only Way is Essex’ practically dancing in fury because his girlfriend had ‘followed someone back on Twitter’. Do you know who my other half follows on twitter? No, neither do I. As far as my problems go it’s probably at number 890987877 at the moment after “what if he only wins second prize at crufts.”

We had some fun after baby number one – don’t get me wrong. We eventually settled into parenthood, compromised within our roles, learned not to be so passive aggressive and I almost got my body back. We had a few outings without our son and rekindled the romance. I thought we were on the right track. Then somewhere along the line we decided to have another child.

Before I knew it I was massively pregnant and a parent to a toddler practising his role as Speedy Gonzales on crack. Now I am a drained and exhausted new mum surviving on micro sleep and malted milks.

If couples can survive one child they’re really heroic … two children and the odds are against you! Everything that brought you together goes out of the window and now all that’s left is sleep deprivation, frustration and fury in a confined space filled with noisy Fisher Price toys and the stench of shit.

To think I used to worry about what my other half would look like! His height. His shoes. To think his favourite film was a deal breaker! Now the only thing that is important to me is that I respect him (in my case because he is infinitely more intelligent than I am). R.E.S.P.E.C.T ladies – is the only reason you will have one day not to call him a cock womble and shuffle off. Think about whose hand you’d want to be holding during a spinal block. That’s your man!

I enjoyed watching the couples trying to find “love” on Love Island. The only thing I was jealous about was that they got to go on a relaxing, sunny holiday – we think we will be in our fifties before a holiday can earn the title of ‘relaxing’ again. I don’t begrudge them. All I wanted to shout at the screen was:

“If you can’t make it work after three weeks, on holiday, in the sun, in paradise, with no bills to pay, no responsibilities, no ‘reality’ of any kind – really don’t bother!”

A real compatibility test would be to send in a new born in with Colic, and a toddler with constipation and a fruit shoot and get them to watch Baby Jake on repeat and tell them they can’t drink till 7pm.

Because – it only gets harder. If you choose to have children – you have no idea how hard it will get.

If you can survive one, two or more children together you really have my respect – it’s no walk in the park.

I am astounded that my other half is still here – putting up with everything I throw at him – and I am amazed I’m still here too! Which is why I’m marrying him at the end of this year. And the proposal wasn’t important and the ring isn’t important. What’s important? Who can look after the kids at the reception so mummy can have a drink?

If we can make it through two pregnancies and two babies – I know we can make it through anything!

Love after kids

Let’s Daddy Pig get it on

 

We were once so young

and full of lust

and though our fluffy handcuffs

are gathering dust

can for one night we just pretend

that you can still seduce

and I can still bend?

Tonight we’re Carrie and Mr Big

not who we really are:

Mummy and Daddy Pig.

It’s time to enjoy ourselves,

the kids are still alive

just the fact we haven’t killed each other

deserves a pretty hard high five.

so tonight let’s have an inter-marital fling

last time you saw my full frontal

was on the maternity wing.

let’s get a tasty take away

and a big barrel of gin

and just to shake it up a bit

let’s go ahead and stay in.

just look at our gorgeous offspring,

weren’t they worth the fumble?

let’s pop on some DIY S.O.S

and raise a toast to Mr Tumble

I’ll just wear my poncho

you’ll just wear your gardening mitts

we can get the M&S meal deal

I’ll even shave my pits

we can light a Yankee candle

Put on the best of Shania Twain

pop a few paracetamol

and knock back some Aldi champagne

didn’t mean it when I said I wished you were dead

so let’s daddy pig get it on,

have children, it’ll be fun they said

quick! let’s do it – while the little gits are gone.