Monday, 29 April 2013

Lets talk about sex (maybe)

How the subject arose I can't quite remember, but today at a friends birthday lunch, the issue of how we would deal with the "sex" issue as our children reached a certain age came to the fray.

I have to admit I was quietly surprised by the fact that some of my friends, who are quite liberal in many ways and talk openly when it comes to matters of a carnal nature, seemed to clam up when it came to the thought of approaching the subject with their children.

It is for most parents I feel, the looming elephant in the room. Like potty training, religion and politics, it falls in the same category of things parents dread bringing up with their children, an area of growing up that many of us wish that children would quietly and easily discover for themselves. 

Look, you can't get away from the fact that your children are eventually going to do IT. They are also going to try drinking, smoking (possibly drugs), you know that because you have done it too. Take yourself back 10, 20, 30 years or so - you have to ask yourself how would you have wanted your parents to re-act? Did they do it the right way? 

I have to say that I think my parents got it right. They didn't make a big thing about it yet neither did they pretend that they thought we would stay virgins forever. Both mum and dad made it clear that if we wanted to discuss it they were happy to do so. 

From a young age we would also happily sit alongside our parents watching comedy films such as Lemon Popsicle  and Porky's, all relating to sexually frustrated young men painfully and usually unsuccessfully trying to lose their virginity, so maybe that helped lighten things up a bit.

I think my dad felt that his remit as a parent was to find as many ways possible to embarrass his children. Let me just take a moment to list some things that we were subjected to

My dad would....

1, Lie on the floor supermarkets calling out our names
2, Sing in the street
3, Walk out in his underpants in the street
4, Sing really loudly during services at synagogue to try and out sing the choir
5, Do the dad dance at wedding, barmitzvah, birthday parties (fortunately not at funerals)
6, Make silly noises and jump up and down pointing at us in the street so that everyone would look

Yet, there is one thing that mostly sticks out in my memory, in fact I can't even call it a memory as still to this day, my dad will hasten to add some sort of  sexual pun or innuendo into any conversation, normally relating to a woman's breasts. Now, as much as it did and still does make me cringe, in some ways having this issue so openly and jokingly discussed meant that sex was never really an issue, or something that was seen "dirty" or "forbidden". 

My oldest brother started bringing girlfriends home from the age of 17 and my parents were very comfortable with that, better in his bedroom than children's outdoor playhouse in a park (not me a friend). 

Had I not developed an eating disorder throughout my teens, I totally believe that I would've been comfortable and confident when it came to sex. I would quite happily have taken boys home with me as it was where I felt safe. 

Now I'm not saying that we should be buying vibrators and the karma sutra for our kids, but things are so different now, our kids can get information about anything at the click of a button. So would advice not be better coming from someone they can trust rather than a stranger on a screen.

We all have our own way of parenting and I am not here to preach or persuade, all I can say is that all the issues I ever had in my life were self inflicted rather than as result of lack of parental guidance.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

To my friends

When we discovered that we were having twins, we decided that it would be good to move near family (we're talking seconds away!!) 

For twelve years we lived in Leeds, a vibrant city well known for its clubbing / bar scene and shopping. As a young couple it was a great place to be, we indulged in the nightlife and were happy to be part of the hustle and bustle of a reasonably large city. 

During our time in Leeds I was trying to juggle two jobs, one as a gym instructor at for Virgin Active, the biggest, a swanky gym with over 1000 members. The other was as a PR and marketing consultant. So I knew lots of people, but having to spend so much time being bubbly and sociable in my job soon left me with little energy to socialise outside of my work.I avoided going to social events for work and always felt like I didn't really fit in as I wasn't one of the "team". I think people thought I was a bit of a snob or just very boring I had a small group of friends but, and I apologise to them now, I was an elusive friend, drifting in and out of their lives, never really making any firm commitments to them. Now, I don't want those that knew me to feel like I'm disrespecting them in some way, because I know that those people cared about me, it's more of a failure on my part to be a good friend.

The decision to move away from Leeds wasn't really a heart wrenching one. Whilst I would miss teaching my classes at Virgin and my regular indulgences in the M&S food hall, both me and Rick were ready for a change, especially with two little tiddlers on the way. We were living in a 2 bed terrace adjacent to a main road, with no garden, not the most ideal place to live with children. No, now we needed a house with a garden, preferably in a quiet and safe road - it was time to be ouch, dare I say it...sensible

So on a very cold and icy week in December 2010, we moved to a lovely house in Shropshire. For a few months I had withdrawal symptoms from living in the city. Whitchurch is a sleepy little town in what some would term "out in the sticks" Tractors are more common place than cars and an Indian is considered as posh food. 

In Leeds, I was indulged with a choice of shops, restaurants, cinemas, bars, even museums.When I first hit Whitchurch town centre it felt like a step back in to the 1980's. It has that battered and bruised feeling of many town centres around the country due to the influx of giant supermarkets and retail parks on the outskirts. How was I ever going to survive, I thought!!!!

My saving grace were my kids, it was through them that I have learnt to love this town and all the many people I have met that live here. 

Yes, I have become part of the mummy brigade, most of my friends are mums. OK, the children do factor highly in our conversations, but who else is going to understand when you feel like shit because you've been up since 4am, or are get as excited when your child does their first poo in a potty. But as a parent that support is crucial in surviving the sometimes exasperating parts of being a parent.

Being in a small place allows you to slow down and make more time for people, there is a need to be connected and after many years of feeling adrift I finally feel part of something again.

You know in my last blog post I mentioned that I was grieving for that little girl I once was? I honestly feel like I have been given a second chance to live again, I'm beginning to feel like I'm getting that sparkle back, there's a warmth and energy that is climbing up from my soul and starting to radiate through my skin.

As dramatic as it sounds, it's like my cold heart has been melted, fro many years, being a friend was a chore to me, something that didn't come easy. Now, being a friend means so much to me, having people to turn to is as important as breathing. 

To those of my dear friends past and present, I owe you so much...........

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” 
― C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

It's been a while

OK, so it's been a very loooooooooooong time since I wrote my lost post, almost six months to be precise

I guess it was a combination of laziness, motherhood and brain freeze. Although saying that, I've actually felt like my head would actually explode with the amount of activity that has been going on inside.

It's been a bit of a funny time, I've been in a bit of a dark place. I think I was looking over the garden fence and seeing a greener grass and rosy garden, whilst mine seemed withered and barren....yes it's a jolly post today!!

As some of you have read in my previous posts, I've not adapted as easily as some to the role of motherhood, it's been both a mental and physical challenge. I won't regurgitate past blog posts as I don't want to bore those who have already read about my battles with eating disorders, but in a nutshell becoming a mum to twins = change body + change in lifestyle and routine = major struggle. Then add to the pot a feeling of failure having never really achieved a stable career status. Things just reached boiling point for me towards the end of 2012.

I had tried and succeeded in getting a job, but it involved getting up at 4am and then coming home back to a full day with the kids. I didn't make it easy for myself as I'm a night bird and don't go to sleep until late. But even so, the people that I worked with were either very young or reasonably older than myself. It got to the point where I had nor energy for the kids and the thought of having to do stuff with them made me want to curl up in a ball and hide. So ashamedly, I only lasted 3 months in the job and thoughts of a new career were pushed right to the furthest part of the cupboard where the cobwebs dwell.

With that came a black cloud, in which my brain would just not switch off in terms of negative thoughts and I was constantly giving myself a mental beating. Was life ever going to be different for me again? Was there more to life than this - my role as mother. Who was I, what was I put here for?, would I ever DO something of merit?? God, perhaps I should've joined the religious cult Opus Dei and flogged myself!!

When I was a kid, I had what my grandma would say "a lot of chutzpa", No mountain was to high and no walls were going to stop me. As much as my dad will loathe me to say  this but I thought I was going to be the next Maggie Thatcher- not really in politics, but in what ever it was I chose to do - yes choose, because I had so many things I wanted to do. Even now, as I type, I have visions of this child with a sparkle in her eye and a fire in her belly - eager to get out and make her mark on the world. That light got blown out when I developed Anorexia. It's actually bizarre to think about really, I was so desperate as a child to conquer the world, but in hind sight I became anorexic as I was so frightened of becoming a woman. A paradox of sorts really.

For years my whole life became entangled in a web of food and exercise, disabling me from reaching the great heights that I expected. I wasn't able to function as rational or "normal" person. And, in some ways I'm still experiencing some similar obstacles. 

So much so, I decided a month or so ago to try counselling again. I've had counselling on a couple of occasions as a teen but didn't really appreciate or want it - it was more a case of being pushed into it, but this time I made the decision. I wanted to be able to use my brain for something other than negative thoughts and worrying about getting fat. 

I love writing and my ambition is to write two books that I have the ideas for. I also want to continue with my mums recipe book blog, which means a lot to me. But, right now my head is so full of junk that it's hard to concentrate on these things.

It's been over a month now and I've made inroads, I've realised that I am grieving for this little girl that once was. When someone dies, you seem to put them on a pedestal and erase all the flaws. They become like a ghost, haunting you and making it hard to move on. What I have to do now is find some way to move away from the past and focus on the present and the future without believing that my glass is always going to be half empty.

I've also become aware that whilst there might have been people and decisions that have effected my life in some way, these should not be dwelt on or used as an excuse for where I am now and how I feel. The only person that is control of my life. There are only so many factors you can blame before you have to look at yourself and realise that it is only you that can change and only you that can choose the right path.