Friday, 31 August 2012

oh for the love...

This week I feel like I've spent much of the time shouting or snapping at the kids. There were genuine reasons I hasten to add and here is the evidence...

  1. Olivia throwing food at me and then over the floor
  2. Beau refusing to keep still whilst changing an incredibly stinky nappy
  3. Both refusing to eat anything for lunch except cake
  4. Olivia poking me in the face with a plastic fork
  5. Both taking things out of the shopping trolley and trying to open packets and bags
  6. Both screaming for a (third) bag of crisps as I tried to make my way around the   supermarket
  7. Beau pouring his drink all over Olivia in the shopping trolley
  8. Olivia screaming at the top of her lungs because Beau poured drink over her in shopping trolley
  9. Beau refusing to eat his tea wanting only toast which Olivia then went on to continuously steal until I had to make some more only for it to be chucked on the floor and splashed across ceilings, walls, floors, chairs and me.
  10. Both of them pretty much ignoring any thing I had to say!

To top it all off, Beau has ended up with a tummy bug over the past couple of days, so I have been up to my ears in puke and poo.

Today was probably the worst and boiling point was bubbling over profusely. First came that primal roar sound that you make when you don't know what else to say when angry. Then it was the walk away and then finally came the collapse on the floor followed by the tears - yes, I'm talking about me and not the kids.

They had literally driven me to the point of despair 

But why then do I feel so bad about it all?

Maybe it's the fear of being rejected by my kids. I fear that when I shout or show my frustration the love-o-meter go's down. But deep down I know that's not rational, I'm sure my mum shouted at me when I was a toddler (a lot when I was a teenager!!) but I still loved her immensely. 

It makes me think of all those children out there who suffer at the hands of an adult and I cannot imagine how anyone can not feel guilt when they cause distress of a child. 

When I look into their eyes though I see their vulnerability and know that they see me and Rick as their vital support system, so if I become this shouty snappy mum then how can they feel safe. I do have a short temper and I can get myself into a right old lather but I never want my kids to be afraid of me.

I know it's part of being a parent and you can't always be the good cop, I think I just feel sometimes that I myself am a child playing at being a mum and when we played at being mums and dads as children it was only ever the nice and fun stuff you did - equally, I don't remember the person that played the child in our game having screaming fits, rejecting the food mummy cooked or projectile vomiting all over floor!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The lost child scenario

So, we had our first lost child scenario this weekend and I think my heart has now settled back down into a normal beat pattern.

Event: Children's birthday party

Venue: a huge college hall with stairs leading off to many (many) rooms)

Number of missing children: 1

State of parents: frantic

State of child when found: non-plussed

It's every parents worst nightmare, the moment you realise that your child suddenly goes missing in an unusual and unfamiliar place. It begins with a nervous laugh, then a little amble towards where you last saw them - not there. Suddenly you feel like your head has been clamped between a vice as the pressure rushes to your head and every hair on your body starts to prickle. Your mind and vision become like that of Robocop, honing in on doors, windows, open staircases with a blaring red light flashing on the screen. Whilst your mind is heavy with fear, your body itself feels light as you run with the speed of a leopard dashing to and fro, from room to room and up and down multiple flights of stairs two maybe three at a time. It also seems like you have instantly become visually impaired and lose the inability to really see what you are looking at or into because your brain is moving so fast that you just aren't taking anything in. Very soon, your legs get heavy and you just become glued to the spot and you just stop dead, feeling completely helpless, every breath you take is laboured and there's a loud buzz in your head like static on a TV.

Believe it or not, this all happened in the space of 3 minutes at the end of which Beau was found happily tapping away on a computer in some class room. It wasn't long at all between him going missing and being found, but in that short amount of time my emotions had run a marathon and my body ached from the shock. 

Of course, it wasn't just me that experienced this, Rick was me and normally he is quite good under pressure, but I have to say it's probably the first time that I looked into his eyes saw real fear.

Neither of us were to blame, it was, as most people do say, a nano-second. We were talking to someone, both of us looked at Beau and he was standing at the door with his drink, then we looked at our friend and then back to Beau and he was gone. Fortunately, as it was a children's birthday party, there were a lot of parents present, so they appreciated our distress and many of them joined us on the hunt for Beau whilst at the same time reassuring his flapping parents that he would be found.

These things just heighten the sense of responsibility that you have for that little persons life, their safety is in your hands and whilst you do everything you think you can to protect them, it literally takes the blink of an eye or a misplaced decision for things to happen. 

I think maybe you get this kind of misguided confidence as a parent because you enter into a situation many times and it means you become less alert and maybe a little lackadaisical and take for granted that you and your children will be fine, and then BOOM something like this happens to knock you off your parental pedestal.

But at the same time, I think that you also have to know that even though it has happened it does by no means make you a bad or irresponsible parent. So from this experience, my heart goes out to people like the parents of Madeline McCann, who I believe are very good parents and were in a situation that they believed they had under control, and were victims of terribly unfortunate circumstances.

Fortunately, we were lucky and there was a happy ending, and in a black comical way, it's one to strike off on the list of "what to expect when you become a parent" along with.... 

Jumping out into the road
Lodging of peas up nose
Falling off climbing frame or bike
Swallowing of sharp, big, foreign objects
Fiddling with electrical equipment

Need I go on!!

Friday, 17 August 2012

The skin that I'm in

So I've never hidden the fact that I have issues with the perception of my body and it has truly been a struggle since I've had the twins. Most recently I've been in a battle with my own mind and what I see in the mirror. When I look in the mirror, I don't look at my face, (hence the fact my eyebrows are so bushy) I look at my body poking, proding and pulling at it like a piece of dough. It changes on a daily basis, my head will be telling me I look OK and then I look in the mirror and mind and vision don't match and the next day it's the complete opposite.

There's no doubt that my body has changed since being pregnant, but also I'm 34 years old now and I think I need to start looking in the mirror and not expecting to see the body of a child or young girl.

In a previous blog I said that I was 80% happy with my body, I think it's still the same, so why hasn't that changed? Why do I still care so much?

I have lived with these demons since the age of 13, not a day goes by when I don't think to, panic about and berate myself over how I look, what I eat and how much exercise I've done. My mind is like a ticking time bomb. Today I got upset because I could no longer see my ribs - that shocked me a little bit, what a terrible thing to get upset about and want to still see, but I did - do.

It's very much a mental thing, I know that, I'm a slightly extreme case, but I know I'm not alone in that daily battle with body perception. Most of my female friends are or at some point have been on a diet and we spend a lot of time talking about our weight, our diet, what we eat and how much we exercise. But there never seems to be an end goal, it's as though our minds our computed to have this kink in it that stops us from being completely happy with who we are.

The reason I am friends with my friends is because they are genuinely nice, funny, interesting and caring people, and hopefully my friends feel the same way about me. Yet it doesn't seem to be enough for us, we want to be told how beautiful we look and we want people to notice our weight loss or change in body shape, whether it be our closest friends and family or the postman.

I'm not saying I wish I could just drop the dumbbells, plug in the deep fat fryer and become Waynetta Slob, no I just would once in a while like to wake up and not immediately think about how what I might eat that day would make me put on weight, not be tortured by what I saw in the mirror, and not feel unhappy with the skin that I am.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

A snippet from my first book

OK people, here is a snippet from my first novel and I want to know if you think I should carry on writing it.

It's about a young women who ends up getting a job in entertainment PR and ends up managing bands and celebrities. The book shares all her experiences and is really a look at behind the scenes of celebrity. I was inspired by reading magazines such as Heat and Now, along with gossip websites. Having worked in PR myself, I know that not all stories are true and some are made to cover up possible scandals and scenarios.

This is really what I would call an easy read, beach and sun lounger fodder..let me know what you think...

My brother must’ve for a millisecond felt a pang of pity for me one day, or was getting slightly miffed that I was bagging his prime spot on the sofa and stealing all his food; that he decided to invited me to a gig of band that one of his mates was in.

 I spent the afternoon going through my suitcase (my brother only had one wardrobe and that was bulging with clothes that I’m certain he had carried over from his university days almost 15 years ago!) to try and find something to wear that looked relatively cool. I wasn’t particularly into fashion then. Whenever I read a magazine, I’d skip past the pages advising you how to look stylish, or what shoes and handbags to help accessorise: Instead, I went straight for the celebrity gossip and news, trying to decipher what was real and made up. Ask me about what colour is in for the season and I wouldn’t have a clue, but get me talking about whose going to be in the next season of Strictly Come Dancing, I could probably tell you.

 After practically emptying my case, I managed to pull together an outfit that I thought would blend in with the uber cool music crowd of London without looking like I tried too hard. The outfit being a pair of skinny jeans, an off the shoulder t-shirt and a pair of heels that I felt I would be able to walk in by the end of the night. 

Being a devoted trainer wearer, I tend to try and avoid heels if possible. Spending hours balancing on a thin stick of plastic felt quite torturous. Me and heels just didn’t seem to agree, I’d seen men in drag walking in heels more comfortably than me! But as I’m no Elle Mcpherson my legs needed a little boost in order to carry off the skinny leg jean look.

 By the time I’d got dressed and attempted a half decent effort at hair and make-up, my brother was literally throwing my jacket and bag at me and pulling me out the door. Having not had a girlfriend for a while, he had forgotten that when asking the question “how long you going to be” and the girls response being “10 minutes”, he should then calculate that it would actually be more like half an hour and maybe just play on his X-box for a while rather than sighing loudly and swearing under his breath. 

Me and my brother had a funny kind of relationship, he was older than me by a few years and I think he stopped adding a year to my age from about the time I was 10, therefore I felt like I was still his annoying little sister who was too uncool to have a normal conversation with. Don’t get me wrong, he was a pretty good big brother, reliable when needed and always indirectly making sure I was OK, but we weren’t exactly close back then.

 Whilst we were on the tube heading into the centre of London I attempted to make conversation with Ben but he was more interested in catching up on Wayne Rooney’s twitter feed than he was talking to me, so I fished out the latest copy of xx magazine from my bag to indulge in a bit of celebrity gossip and scandal. 

Some people have an addiction to cigarettes, others alcohol, but mine was celebrity gossip . I didn’t actually believe most of it that was half the fun for me, trying to decipher or detect which stories were made up. There’s a lot of talk about those of us who have a gaydar, but I tended to concentrate more on my PRdar or spindar i.e. stories made up by celebrities publicists / managers / agents etc, etc, in order to keep their client in the public eye – or sometimes to avert everyone from a story that they don’t want us to find out about.

 I quickly read a story about a random soap star who was dating a footballer whilst two timing him with wannabe bad boy pop star, but it turned out that the footballer was two timing her with the pop stars sister who was a glamour model, oh Jeremy Kyle would be salivating right now I thought. The next page ran a feature on an up and coming pop act who was being touted as the UK’s answer to Britney Spears (pre umbrella wielding psycho) / Katy Perry. Basically she was very young (17), very pretty and could write songs. She’d been discovered on You Tube (aren’t they all) by an American record label and had already had a top ten single in the Billboard charts in the USA, but now as she was British she was coming back to the UK to put the “bang back into pop” their words not mine. 

As I was reading about how much she missed Fish and Chips and Walkers crisps, I noticed my brother reading over my shoulder. He clocked me and quickly tutted and said “I can’t believe you still read that rubbish.”“Is this the same rubbish that I’ve found twice by your bed?” I replied with a smirk“Yeah, well, I couldn’t get to sleep and there was nothing else to read as I’d chucked out all my music magazines.”“Hmm, yeah right.” I rolled my eyes and carried on reading until the lady voice of the tube announced we had arrived at our destination. 

The venue was just a short walk away from the station, which was a good thing because my brother walked quite quickly and it was a little difficult keeping up with him in my heels. So I tottered behind him, trying to keep my balance and not fall and break my ankle before safely reaching the line of people who were queueing to get in. As I went to get in line, Ben tugged on my top and nodded in the direction of the door where an Alexa Cheung look-a-like, oozing with scary cooldomness, stood looking stern with a clipboard in hand.

 Following my brother along the line, I could feel many pairs of eyes drilling into me. I never really felt comfortable with the whole getting on the guest list thing and passing all the pissed off looking people who had been waiting for ages to get in to something they’ve paid for unlike the queue jumpers, it’s almost like you’re made to feel ashamed as you pass them by. 

As we approached the door the girl gave me a beady look as if to say “get ready to be turned away pronto” but then she saw my brother and broke out into a massive grin and I think I even saw a hint of pink spread across her cheek as if she was very pleased to see him.

“Hi Si, I saw your name was down on the list but I know what you’re like, you say you’re coming and then don’t bother.”Simon gave her a quick peck on the cheek and she giggled“You know what it’s like Tilly, always busy, always busy. But when I heard you were playing guard dog tonight I thought I’d come down and see if you’d bite.”“Oh Si, you know I don’t bite, but I do scratch!!”She gave him a very knowing look and suddenly I felt like this was a conversation that I really didn’t want to be listening to. Without trying to make it too obvious, I shuffled my feet towards my brother’s shoe and kicked his toe. He looked over at me as if he’d forgotten I was there.“Oh yeah, Tills, this is my little sister, Lyla, she’s staying with me whilst she’s looking for job in London job and so as her kind and loving brother I’m providing her with food and warmth for free.”I gasped and interrupted“Let’s just drop kind, loving, food and warmth, seeing as you don’t even know how your oven works and I’ve spent most of my time walking around with a hot water bottle because you’re central heating keeps packing up.”Tilly gave a Si a gentle smack on the arm and laughed“Si, I think even though I’ve only just met your sister I definitely will take her word rather than yours.”“Hi, Lyla, sorry for the daggers, it’s just my show face, I’m a softy really.”I smiled and replied. “Yes, I did almost turn and head to the back of the queue again.”“Well any sister of Si’s certainly has my sympathy.”“Ah well any friend of Simon certainly has my admiration.”“Hey what is this, stamp on Simon night?” My brother butted in “I knew I should never mix family and friends, it’s a recipe for disaster. I better get you in before you start showing people baby photos Ly.” He smirked.“Are you going to after-show party Si?” Tilly called out after us“Hmm, not sure, bit knackered really and might just head home when the lads have finished.”

Tilly looked glum and turned back to the queue looking even sterner than before. I gave Simon a dig in the ribs with my elbow.“Ouch, what was that for.”“Either you’re completely oblivious or just evil; do you not realise that she is completely smitten with you?”“What Tills? Nah, we always have a bit of banter, besides she’s too cool for me.”I stopped in my tracks. Simon, to me had always given off this sense of aloof confidence; he had no time for nonsense talk and could be quite acerbic in conversation.“God, you’re such a bloke! the signs are all there.”Simon suddenly seemed a little uncomfortable; we’d never really discussed our relationships before, I think it goes back to the fact that in his eyes I will always be about 10 and therefore any talk of men was just not good.He started looking around the venue as though he had not heard what I had said.“Come on, I see some of my mates by the bar.”With that he dashed off ahead of me and I had to stand on my tip toes to follow his head. 

When I finally caught up with him, he was already deep in conversation with a guy who was probably in his 40’s but dressed like Liam Gallagher circa 1997. He had greying hair which flopped over his face and even though it was boiling hot and sticky in this place, he was wearing a long green coat. Next to him was a petite girl, with very straight hair that flicked up at the bottom. She had on a short 70’s style dress that pulled in at the waist and flowed out at the knee. As it seemed that Simon was now ignoring me I decided to go and talk to her.

“Hi, I’m Simon’s sister, Lyla.”For a moment the girl just stared at me and then replied,“Erm, right, yeah.” Then just looked straight past mePart of me wished I’d just stayed outside with Tilly talking about Simon“So how, how do you know Simon?”Again for a moment she didn’t reply and when she responded she did it without looking at me.“Don’t really know him that well actually, he’s friends with my boyfriend, Desi, the singer in Fortune Founders.”“Oh right, that’s the band on tonight isn’t it.”She looked at me as though I was speaking in Japanese“Sorry, I’ve not been in London that long so I don’t really know many local bands.”“Actually, they’ve already had a single out and been on BBC Radio 6 loads of times.”She said with a hint of exasperation“Oh, wow, that’s great. I guess I must be totally out of sync with music, I’m still listening to all my music from uni and that was a couple of years ago now.”She gave me the weakest of smiles and then looked over my shoulder as if to see if she could make an escape somewhere. I suddenly felt like I was at school again standing next to the coolest girl in school with my braces in and fuzzy untamable lion’s mane hair.

Fortunately, Tilly was coming towards us with a couple of other people.“Hey Lyla, you OK?”“Erm, yeah, yeah,” I looked over to where the other girl was standing and she had now fully turned her back to me, then turned back to Tilly and shrugged my shoulders.“I see you had the pleasure of meeting Georgia. Don’t worry she’s like that with pretty much everyone, unless you were Anna Wintour or some top fashion designer. She’s fashion editor for some Z list celeb magazine but she thinks it’s comparable to Vogue!”As I mentioned earlier, fashion had never really been a dominant factor in my life, and maybe Georgia had sussed that quite quickly.“Oh, think I might just come in a rain mac next time so she can’t see what clothes I’m wearing.”Tilly laughed and shook her head.“I couldn’t give a shit about what she thinks, just cause she writes about fashion doesn’t mean she knows what it is. Most of the stuff she features in her column is pretty much from the PR people who send her loads of freebies. It’s all pretty much the same all the time. It’s the same with a lot of journalists, the more you give the nicer they are to you and the more column inches you get.”

She went on to tell me about how she really struggled at first when she started out in her job working for the music management and PR agency that looked after Fortune Founders. Journalists would put the phone down before she even had a chance to tell them about the bands she was looking after. Some would shout at her for wasting their time even though they had not even listened to the CD she sent.

“I realised I had to be more persuasive without being too pushy. So I just began inviting journo’s out for a drink and that seemed to heighten their interest.”As she said that, Tilly rolled her eyes.“But what about Si, he’s a music journalist, but I can’t believe he’s like that?” “Si’s a bit different than a lot of music journalists, he genuinely loves music. I don’t know many people that puts their music collection into categories and chronological order!”So she’d been to Si’s flat, I started to think that my brother was hiding something.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

My run of Olympic emotions

The Olympics have left me with a mixture of emotions, so proud of what our British athletes were able to achieve, happy that we didn't end up with egg on our faces, and determination that I will get to the gym more than two times in the week. Yet it's also left me feeling a little deflated, the euphoria of seeing someone else win and achieve their dreams is soon followed by that melancholy thought that I might not ever achieve my own.

I am in awe of Jessica Ennis, Nicola Adams, Laura Trotter and co. When you looked into the eyes of all those athletes, you could feel their passion and drive and for an instant you are there with them and the adrenaline is pumping away through your body. When Mo Farrah was running that last 200m for the 5000m Gold, I was literally running on the spot faster and faster to keep up with him.

At the same time, I feel this twinge of envy. It's not really that they achieved their ultimate goal, it's more because they knew what it was. Me on the other hand, see nothing but a blank wall.

If I have to be brutally honest, my goal in life was never to be a mother, I never dreamt of white weddings,  pretty houses or babies. My thoughts as a child were (seriously) about standing out from the crowd, becoming a person of interest. I was in all essence, going to be a big success. And so my quest began...

The amazing thing about childhood is the amount of paths that you are allowed to follow, unfortunately as you get older it becomes more like a maze and if you're like me you just keep reaching the dead ends. I swear I have internal markings all over my body from the amount of times I've bumped into that wall!!

I think I lost focus, I wanted to do and be everything, so much so I never actually stuck at anything..what is it  that they say - 'the grass is always greener'. I guess maybe I never felt passionate enough about one thing. There was also always this unnerving feeling that I just wasn't quite good enough and that very soon people would also see that - so jump before getting pushed. Of course this is all in my head and if I look back at everything I've done, for the most part, I gave it 100 % and I had many 'YES' moments and sense of self smugness. But none of those were enough to make me feel like I'd found my place or my mark.

Here are a few things that I've done in my life

Waitress at Pizza Express - for the first year of this job I worked double shifts pretty much every day and hustled relentlessly for tips. Worked my way up to assistant manager but walked away from job to go and live in Leeds. Afterthought - should've just transferred and worked my way up to manager as I genuinely loved that job and now food is such a HUGE interest to me

Fitness instructor - spent 10 years on and off doing this, got really good at teaching classes and thrived on making people feel good about themselves. Afterthought - why didn't I do more courses and qualified as a personal trainer when given the opportunity

Public Relations - five years in this game. I achieved national coverage for many clients and helped raise the profile of others. That was good, but I felt like an imposter and that I was lucky rather than good at what I did. Most of the time I felt like I was in a very dark tunnel clutching at glimpses of light. Afterthought - I just needed a good mentor, everything I did I learnt by myself, there were glimpses of passion and a tiny flame that burned in my stomach.  Maybe I just needed to be shown the ropes a bit more and guided along the treacherous road that I found to be PR and I 'coulda been a contenda'

Alas, none of the above managed to be 'the one'. 

Like I alluded to earlier, some young girls dream of meeting 'the one', the perfect man. For me I was always dreaming of the perfect job and whilst some 30+ plus high flyer out there is crying into their chardonnay about their disastrous or hopeless quest of finding the right guy and ticking internal clock, I'm here at 30+ years old putting my perfect mans dishes in the dishwasher and wiping baby food off the floor!

For those of you who get the impression I didn't want children, that's not how it is at all, I love them with all my heart and they are my passion, but for me it was not an ultimate goal. It sounds wrong to say that I know, but my order in life was to make my mark and then make a mark for my children. It just didn't happen that way and I feel like I failed, like I missed out on a medal because I just didn't focus or try hard enough.

However, for me to be saying all this suggests that there is fire in my belly, I can feel it burning through my fingers as I type, I think I just need to maybe retrace my steps through my maze and finally find the way out.  It's just going to take a lot of work, strength and self motivation to do it, but if learnt anything from the Olympics is that if you try hard enough you can make things happen.