Archive for February 2011
It comes as a shock to me when my children are sick because – thankfully – it happens so rarely. I can count on one hand the number of times DD has vomited in her entire life; DS has had just two episodes – and I was out eating lasagne for one of them (as DH, who dealt alone with projectile vomit and a screaming baby, has never let me forget).
So, when I picked up a crying DS at 3.15am the other night and my hands met with a warm stickiness, it took a few moments to comprehend what had actually happened. Just as I was starting to think “eew”, a strange gurgling noise came from deep inside him and I realised it was about to happen again.
“Carpet!” was all I could think, as I leaped across the beautiful new wool rug that covers his floor, trying to aim the sick onto a piece of bare floorboard, from which it could easily be mopped. He missed the carpet but my inexperience showed, for most of that particular heave ended up in my hair and down my nightie. As I stood there, the sick quietly dripping off me, with DH whimpering in shock, I thought: What now?
I did what every self-respecting mother would do. I called DH, last heard snoring for England, through the baby monitor. He, my hero, duly appeared and took charge. Before I knew it, cot sheets were changed, DS was freshly pyjama-d, the floor mopped (although only after we both stepped in stray pieces of carrot) and I was hugging DS on the sofa.
Then the next wave hit. The clean pyjamas lost the battle, but, thanks to the stomach-gurgle warning, the carpet was, once more, saved. Within minutes, DH appeared with fresh drinking water and a clean dummy, and started wiping up the floor while I – sans sicky nightie – enjoyed skin-on-skin hugs with my son.
I have to say, that bit was really lovely.
Given that we only own two sleeping bags and two cot sheets for the little terror, we sat up with him for another hour, waiting for any further action but, when, at 4.15am, nothing else seemed to be forthcoming, and DS’s eyes were drooping, we called it quits.
I’m hoping that’s “vomit” done now, till he’s at least four.
I bought a new bikini at the weekend. Sadly, it was too late for our trip to the Maldives but, given the climate we live in and the fact that our back garden is filled with swimming pool, a bikini’s always a good a purchase.
As you all know, bikini shopping is no fun whatsoever. All that cellulite wobbling about in the unforgiving light of the changing room; it’s not good for the soul. So I’m a great believer in, if you see a bikini that you like, even when you don’t need one, buy it. It’ll save you weeks of cellulite-related changing-room agony in the future.
Unfortunately, I was already halfway through the transaction at the till when this new bikini caught my eye. I loved it. Excusing myself from the cashier, I rushed over, decided that the cut would suit me, erred on the larger rather than the smaller size, and flung it in front of the till just before the bill was finalised.
I tried it on that night. I’m still in shock.
Not only was it the most flattering colour I think I’ve ever owned, it was the most flattering cut. In it, I looked both slim and curvy. Even my behind. I didn’t want to take it off (and that’s saying something for a lardy-arse 40-year-old mum of two with a propensity for cheese, potatoes and wine).
The next morning, as soon as the alarm went off at stupid o’clock, I told DH about it. “Even my bum looked alright!” I enthused, expecting a comment along the lines of “Do I look blonde?”
But what I got was a pat on the bum and, “I look forward [pause]…… and behind!”
I love to talk, usually about girls’ things like books, fashion, shoes, handbags, cosmetic surgery, hair and, to some extent, makeup. Sometimes I go a little overboard if I’m particularly passionate about my topic.
My friends are far too polite to tell me when they’ve had enough but, given I’ve now got the experience of 40 years behind me, I think I’m reasonably good at noticing when their eyes go dull and they start mentally going through their grocery list while I’m waxing lyrical about some new face cream or something (that doesn’t mean to say I stop talking, but I do notice).
DH, on the other hand, isn’t so kind. Over the years, we’ve developed a code for “I’m not in the slightest bit interested, please shut up.”
It started with: “You really need to be having this conversation with [insert girlfriend’s name],” followed by a pause from me while it sunk in that DH really couldn’t care less if the Lancôme mascara flaked while the Maybelline one didn’t and that, just maybe, the conversation would be more rewarding with a more receptive partner.
After a while he just started saying: “Umm… I’m not [friend’s name]”, which would silence me immediately.
Anyway on Saturday DH and I happened to walk past a sale in one of my favourite and newly discovered shops (Cortefiel, if you must know). While he sat outside with the (fractious, bored) children, I ran in to “have a look” and bundled as many nice things through the cash till as I reasonably could without trying them on, then ran outside again, full of the notion that there were plenty more delights waiting on the racks, if only I had the time to browse. (That’s generally how my shopping’s done these days – sigh.)
In the car, I hugged the carrier bag to me and started to tell DH of my joy at finding nicely styled t-shirts because all my old ones were faded in the wash, looking shabby, falling apart, too short, the wrong shape etc and he managed to silence me with one small sentence.
“Do I look blonde?” he asked.
- Once your child is over 18 months old, book an extra seat on the plane. Despite what the airlines say, squashing 12kgs of toddler on your lap for hours in economy is not fun and definitely restricts your ability to drink gin & tonic.
- Never assume that, just because you’ve remortgaged the house to take your children to “the most beautiful beach in the world”, they will enjoy it.
- Understand that tropical pool villas in luxury hotels never come with childproof pool-fencing. You will spend 80 per cent of your holiday diving towards the pool to prevent your toddler from falling in. You will even do it in your sleep.
- Accept that, while there’s no official time difference between your home and your destination, fancy resorts like to create their own time zone (“holiday time” or “relaxation time” or some such tosh), leaving you with jet-lagged children. (You may as well have gone to Langkawi.)
- If you tell a nice hotel it’s your birthday, you will get cake. It will not be on the bill but you will have to smile while the waiting staff sings to you.
- Appreciate that a Kids’ Club is only good if your child wishes to attend it. If your child doesn’t attend, a five-star Kids’ Club is as useless as a perforated lilo.
- Accept the universal formula of children on the beach, namely: 10 minutes on the beach = 20 minutes of wriggly sunscreen application + one disposable swim nappy + two expensive UV suits.
So, here it is. Within days, I’ll be 40 years old. A friend who knew me in my wilder days summed it up nicely: “How did that happen?” she asked. I know exactly what she means.
There I was, two minutes ago, aged 19 with the world at my gawky feet. Then I was married (26) and still thought I was 19. I enjoyed turning 30; thanks to six months in the gym, I was fit, slim and happy, and I was going places with my career (but I still felt as if I was 19). I didn’t take the milestone very seriously.
A lot’s happened between 30 and 40. My career went from strength to strength. I had two babies, gave up full-time employment and settled into life as a housewife and mother. It took some adjusting but, now, if anyone asks me if I’ll go back to work, I shudder, quite literally, at the thought and laugh like a loon.
These days, I’ve learned not to take sh*t from anyone. I still have crummy posture but I’ve grown into my face. My body’s healthy and it’s not in bad shape (I just have to stop comparing it with the 20-year-olds in the celebrity magazines). I’ve learned, through my children, the qualities of patience, selflessness and unconditional love.
Yeah, generally, I’m happy about turning 40. The fact that the transition will take place in a luxury pool villa on a tropical island in the Maldives is the icing on the cake: No more, no less. Mwa!
Tonight I’d like to share with you an experience I had today while getting my legs waxed.
Given I’m currently not quite as exhausted as I have been over the past two years, it was the first leg-wax I’ve had in ages that I haven’t had to treat as a chance to catch up on some zzz (yes, that’s how tired I’ve been).
So I got chatting to the therapist, a lovely lady from Mangalore, who has been doing my legs since, ooh, before DS was born. As I asked her increasingly complex questions about herself, I found myself imagining what her life would be like. She works, sometimes with back-to-back appointments, in a room that can’t be more than 15 feet by 8 feet, with no natural light and grey-painted walls. When she finishes at 6pm, she “runs” outside to get into the fresh air, but then she has to wait 30 minutes till her car lift comes.
“I wish my car come earlier so I home by 7 o’clock, not 7.30,” she said wistfully, as if that’s all she wanted in life. “Company bus, it come at 6 o’clock, but it go to Sharjah. I not live in Sharjah.”
Instead of staying in the company accommodation, she lives in town with another lady, who works as a secretary in Jebel Ali. The two of them are “peas in pod”, she told me, because they both like to sleep with the air-conditioning and the fans on full blast: “Really cold. When we go to India, we no can stand: No a/c.”
“She doesn’t cause me any trouble,” said my therapist of her flatmate of two years. “We’re both there with the a/c on and a thick rug on us. Sometimes I think to change my flatmate but I’m too scared I won’t get someone who wants the a/c.”
I thought about them blowing their salaries on the luxury of air-con. Somehow, it made me smile. I left the room with hair-free legs, arched eyebrows and a warm feeling in my heart. I think she did, too: She wouldn’t let go of my hand.
“Madam, I enjoy so much talking you,” she said with a big smile. “Come back soon.”
How could I have slept through this for the last two years?
Often, life with small children can feel like Groundhog Day. While the rest of the working world might enjoy the weekend as a break from their daily routine, it provides no respite for a mother. The children still wake up early; nappies still need changing; breakfast needs making; some sort of entertainment needs arranging. And that’s before you start on the washing up, the tidying, the bum-wiping, the feeding, the negotiating…
Worse still, for many of us, there’s no home-help either!
So, on weekends, as DH wakes with a satisfied sigh of, “Thank heavens it’s Friday!”, I sigh a totally different kind of sigh. It’s an, “Oh god, not again” sort of a sigh; One that gives more than a little nod to the memory of a time when Fridays involved nothing more taxing than making the coffee to drink in bed while reading a great book.
I mean, really, how excited can you get about being downstairs, preparing breakfast for two demanding children with your eyes half shut at 6.30am on a Friday morning? It’s 6.30am! The sun’s barely even up!
But then, every now and then, something happens to make me realise that the work I do in the house and for the family is not so useless. It may be drudgery, but it is appreciated.
DH might say “Thanks for cooking, darling,” when all I’ve done is throw a couple of potatoes in the oven and empty a pre-prepared salad into a bowl.
Or DS might say, “Bookie! Mat!” (which means “Sit on the carpet and read me this book”) and the expression of joy that washes over his face when I climb down to his level to do just that makes me realise how valuable it is for him to have me there.
But this week I received the best reward of all. DD had made a little scrapbook by stapling some papers together. On page seven, this is what I found:
So the other night DH and I stumbled across the new season of American Idol. DH tried to flick past it but I wanted to see it.
It’s the first season that hasn’t included Simon Cowell and, as I quite enjoyed watching his and Ellen’s reaction to the auditions last year, I was curious to see if Steve Tyler and J-Lo could do as good a job. DH capitulated.
And then he started making comments. “J-Lo’s cute,” he said, sounding slightly amazed (I wouldn’t usually have her down as his type).
Then, “She’s definitely the cutest judge they’ve ever had on this show.”
Then, “The most talented, too.”
After a few more comments in that vein, I couldn’t help myself.
“She’s had a lot of work done,” I said. “Her teeth, for a start.”
Silence from DH.
“You can tell,” I went on. “She’s a mum of young twins. How could she look like that? She must have had fillers, Botox, facial rejuvenation. Her hair’s dyed; it’s probably full of extensions; even her nails will be fake.”
More silence from DH.
“What do you think?” I pushed for a reaction; moral support that no normal woman could have young twins and a career and look like that. Something to make me feel better about my grey roots showing through; my lines; the bags of exhaustion under my eyes; the cellulite. I waited…
“Money well spent,” he said.
One of the most rewarding things about having small children is watching them develop their language skills, especially right at the beginning, when the first word experiments start to come out of their sweet little mouths.
DD used to say “finging” for finger and “tikky” for kitty. Swimming was “mimming” and goggles were “giggles”. The nursery rhyme “Row, row, row your boat” ended not with “life is but a dream” but with “life is buttery”. Don’t tell anyone, but to this day she still says “mapkin” instead of napkin.
Sometimes it’s hard to keep a straight face.
And now DS has started with the cutisms. Tonight we had him pointing at his bottom and calling it “bup” instead of bum. He’s convinced that anything on the end of his legs is called “shoes”, be they feet, toes or socks, and any car from the Land Rover dealership, from an LR2 to a Range Rover Vogue, is a “daddy car” (especially if it’s “back” [black]).
We have “boo” for blue and “meelk” for milk; we have “cod” for cold and “cow” for any soft toy he wants to cuddle. We have “more” and “higher” on the swing. We have “side – weeee!” for the slide.
And then we have “iya” which means he’s hungry. Perhaps I’m the only person on the planet who knows that what he actually means is “high chair” as in “get-me-in-it-now-I’m-starving”.
It’s funny how, when you have a baby, you instantly understand exactly what their mauled words mean; you see meaning that no other human could decipher. But how DS’s eternal cry of “Eeeeyaaaaadi!” came to mean “give me sweets or biscuits” I’ll never understand.