The midlife...

posted on: Tuesday, 25 February 2014

How much do you really care about everyday things? I tell myself that I care what I wear each day, yet I most often put on gym kit in the morning, even if I am not training or running, just because it's easier for the school run. I invariably change later when there is more time, but the point is - some women would get up earlier and get it right the first time, wouldn't they? I go through stages of washing my hair the night before and sleeping on it. My daughter does this and emerges from her bedroom resembling Brooke Shields in 'Blue Lagoon'; I do it and look like Bon Jovi circa 1989. Do I care if my hair kinks? I say I love clothes and fashion but I frequently opt for comfort over style now that I am a stay-at-home-mum and there is an option between the two each day. Dog walks and heels don't match.

I have stages where I don't watch what I eat. Foods creep into my daily diet that frankly don't belong there. I spoke to a doctor friend of mine (I love that I have doctor friends; so clever and so knowledgeable!) about the risk of early-onset Diabetes. She explained that the sugar content of Western diets is at crisis levels and pointed out some ways to reduce it day to day. Not exactly new news; I understand the rationale, it's just that somehow I had stopped caring enough. Porridge for breakfast and a raw vegetable/salad lunch is really not that hard to achieve. It also seems to me that no matter what medical ailment you try to remedy with diet - the guidance is always the same. Less processed food and sugar, more fruit and vegetables, lean protein and pulses. More water. No caffeine and alcohol. So simple - but why so hard to stick to?!

I do care when it comes to buying stuff that is of bad quality. I have an major issue with cheap clothes that fall apart after one wear. It's just not worth it; not to mention that if the clothes are really that cheap - where were they made and by whom? I talk to my daughter about sweatshops when she comes home from town with items that cost £5. You get what you pay for.

I find I look back on myself in my twenties and wonder what on earth I did care about compared to now?! In ways that I can hardly fathom, I had so little to be concerned about, in reality. Those heady days of just being me, my studies or later on my graduate job, what to wear, who to go out with at the weekend. Simple times. Now there are so many things that I can hardly count them!

But in some ways I have let go of a lot of cares that used to plague me. Wondering who liked me and who didn't, and endless obsessing about my hair (OK, so really that was is still with me, just decreased!). It's true that as time passes you do get more comfortable in your own skin and more able to make judgements about life situations. It's uncanny how it happens; almost imperceptibly through your thirties until now...well now I am a matter of weeks away from my 40th birthday and I am full of these thoughts.

Did I mention I was turning 40? The mid-life crisis is in full swing! How long does this last? Does anyone this time next year will I be through it?!

City girls...

posted on: Friday, 21 February 2014

I spent yesterday in London; as ever, struck by the metropolis that is our capital. On the tube I spied two girls who looked like they had fashion credentials, dressed in a way that rarely occurs in the home counties where I live. Some observations: sleek, healthy hair - do they have a professional blow-dry every morning? Manicured nails in glossy, deep red.

They were fresh-looking - despite the fact that London pollution seems to grip me the minute I get there and on return home to my rural idyll I feel a need to jump in the bath, wash my hair, scrub every pore. Speaking of pores I did try Glam Glow this week - oh my goodness. In short an amazing beauty product. It feels a bit like an anthropological experiment walking about with a mud-green face and I definitely scared the puppy who, with titled head, followed me about curiously. But the after effect was the cleanest skin I have had for months. For a deep winter cleanse - this stuff is awesome.

Anyway, back to the girls on the clothes in classic shapes and colours but luxe, with hints of lovely detail. Grosgrain piping on a military shaped black wool coat. High-shine boots not scuffed by city (or country) life. Good leather handbags in elegant hues. Everything just so. Artfully wrapped scarves. They got on at Piccadilly and off at Baker Street. It made me get that yearning to be young and in the city - this is not exactly a regret of mine as I don't feel regret for my life choices. But I do get wistful of things I could have done and didn't. I never lived in London. It wouldn't have been me. But these girls, who were probably 23 or so - looked fabulous. What a great age 23 was! When I was 23 I was working in publishing, writing children's books (the cat sat on the mat) and planning for my incredible life. Hah. And here I am ;-)

I do wonder why it is quite so hard to achieve these city girl looks? I define it as the Olivia P style - never undone, never shabby, well-dressed, stylish jewellery but quirky and interesting. Seemingly oh so hard to do!

I read an article that said that women like me (40, country, mummy) wear this uniform: skinnies, cashmere sweater, diamond stud earrings and a fur gilet. Big hair. Think Liz Hurley. Hmmm not sure it's quite that formuliac but I do know women who are in that arena.

Is it weather related? I am British and ultimately everything boils down to the weather but I have to say - this winter has been a sartorial challenge! I wonder, if you live in a sunnier climate, that your choices are wider and things don't seem so dreary? One to muse and we try our best and sometimes I don't even try at all and favour comfort and grey.

Meanwhile this half term has gone by in a rush, but a good rush actually. Keeping busy is the answer. Less time to think for me and more time to experience for them. Back next week to the early morning school run but at least it's starting to stay light later into the evening and there is the slightest hint of Spring as crocus show up and the sun, distant though it is, shines through.

Happy Friday.

Parenting: if it feels too easy, you're not doing it right...

posted on: Thursday, 13 February 2014

Wise words from my friend; ever the voice of reason, she sagely pointed out that things worth having are meant to be hard. If things had started to feel easy, my alarm bells should have rung! It's not that parenting should always be tough; in any relationship there should be a natural amalgamation of love and support and it shouldn't feel like work. But, a caveat when it comes to raising kids is that if things seem OK, they are not always OK. I have to keep re-evaluating how I am living and asking questions of myself. I figure this is just the stage I am in right now; a stage of flux that means that I can't rest on my laurels.

via un amore per sempre
So - things have calmed down but are accompanied by a pensiveness from me and many plans afoot. I have regained my peace of mind and best of all, my husband is back from a long trip away so I am not alone anymore. There is no question that when it comes to parental life, having two of you is easier than one. My hat goes off to single parents and I am full again of admiration for my Mum who brought my brother and I up on her own. There is not a thing harder. Thank you for all of the kind comments and emails you left to my last post - I was really touched.

I feel like I have spent too much time thinking and not enough time doing; so that has to change now. I had assumed that as my children grew older, they too would enjoy slinking about the house having chill time whilst we span around them like satellites, watching TV, making food, going to the gym - whatever it was. We had this little glimpse of what life was like with older kids who ostensibly took care of themselves. The demands of those younger days when you simply had to be with them every minute of the day had ceased.

I often thought of our scene like those vintage dolls houses you see; cross-sectioned down the middle with each room filled with an activity. But fundamentally all the characters were apart from each other - each in their own room. Our house resembled that  - I'd be reading a book upstairs, one child on a gadget somewhere else, one child watching TV, my husband doing emails. The fact is we had drifted and I see now that it wasn't such a healthy drift. My craving for the uncomplicated strayed too far.

I love how life can give us a chance to change - to take the alarm bell and use it for the better. So even as we hurtle towards teenage hood I am planning activities and elements of our lives that will hopefully enrich and occupy and draw us together. It's the only way. I'm not gonna lie, I would love to lie in every Saturday and mooch til lunch, but that would be the easy option. To me it's a case of making sure that the influences that my kids are open to come from us and our family and friends and not from strangers on the web. It's my job to manage that. So here goes...