Monthly Archives: January 2012

Seven

Every single birthday in a boy’s life should be special, but there’s something just that extra little bit magical about turning seven…

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Out with the old… in with the new perspective

Three weeks of no blogging does not a very interesting blog make. Apologies.

I could give you the excuse that I’ve been busy being photographed on horseback up a mountain but you’d never believe me. It’s true though.

And now here I am, ‘showing up at the page’ as that officious writerly mantra goes, except I’ve got nothing much to say.

*Drums fingers on desk and waits for inspiration to strike.*

Nah, I’ve got nothing.¬†This was supposed to be a post about New Year’s resolutions – hence the arty ‘old vs new’ photo – but I’m a little late for that.

Still, I figured if I didn’t break this blogging drought today it would just go on and on until I’d feel too embarrassed and neglectful to return at all, so here I am…

Let’s see. Smalltalk…

Heidi Klum and Seal are getting divorced. Wow, that’s a headline I didn’t see coming. How sad.

Oh gah, that all sounds clumsy. The demise of anyone’s marriage isn’t exactly smalltalk, sorry. (Suddenly I get that show-up-at-the-page thing; it makes sense now, that blogging every day flexes your ‘meaning’ muscles and stops you writing inane drivel like this post. Let me start again.)

This month I’ve been going though this weird experience of watching the lives of people I’ve admired unravel. It’s bizarre to witnesses someone else’s unravelling, even from afar, but it leaves me feeling dizzy. I’ve already written about how a blogger (whose life and writing talent I’ve admired for years) recently wrote an achingly-sad post about separating from her husband, and then Dooce, a prolific American blogger (and practically the mother of the mummy blog) wrote something similarly heart-rending about her husband moving out of their family home.

And then Heidi Klum and Seal, whose epic annual Halloween parties and marriage vow renewals have painted a vivid picture of enviable, vibrant lives, have released a statement saying that they have simply grown apart. It seems unthinkable, although of course the paparazzi pictures of stolen moments of their public lives are no indication of what really goes on behind closed doors.

Still, I can’t help feel sad.¬†Wait, that’s not it.

It’s not sadness, more an unnerving sense that I’ve been envying other people’s lives without seeing all that makes my own life enviable.

And you have to wonder if the smoke-and-mirrors part the media plays in continually shoving shiny lives down our throats (in order to sell papers and increase ad revenue, of course) is having some kind of knock-on effect in the real world, where bloggers whose lives seem unspeakably wonderful can’t seem to grasp hold of the happiness that infuses their pages, and which we presume they know and cherish.

It’s a macabre, marital chicken and egg. Which came first; the showy celebrity marriage collapse or the slow, seeping sadness that leads bloggers to split from their husbands, and leaves their readers reeling, wondering if their envy has been misplaced?

I’m not sure I’m really making any sense but I am learning this: the camera lies. And it doesn’t pay to construct make-believe worlds in which everyone else is happier or more successful than you, no matter how much someone else’s words or pictures might have led you, inadvertently or otherwise, to that conclusion.

My grass is green enough, of that I’m sure.

One Hostile Mama

I’ve been plotting a post about the start of a New Year, and the inspiration it seems to provoke to make pledges and promises to ourselves – but life keeps getting in the way of it. I’ve been preoccupied with trying to get back to work, acutely aware of the need to fill January with juicy commissions, and with preparing the boys for going back to school. All of which seems to leave little time for blogging or finishing the many emails I seem to have started writing to friends, only to leave abandoned when tiredness finally forces me to bed. As I write this, the iron is hissing at me from the corner of the kitchen and I’m wondering why I always start one task before finishing another…

Sigh.

Today what’s uppermost in my mind is tone of voice, and how the majority of my interactions with my sons seem to be confrontational, verging on hostile. It’s not what I want for us, and I know it’s hardly an effective parenting strategy, but it seems to be just what happens when every single request I make is met with an objection, a complaint, or what the protestor deems is a much better idea that whatever I happen to have proposed.

How do you manage an almost constant battle of wills with good humour? How do you raise compliant children without brow-beating them into obedience?

We watched Hugo at the cinema this week, and this evening the boys watched some of a Harry Potter film. Both films left me squirming in my seat with discomfort because the characters I most identified with are the ones my boys would call the baddies – the mean-spirited, bad-tempered ogres who seem to dislike children just for being children. I wonder what goes through my lads’ heads when they watch those films – do the recognise patterns of behaviour between the baddies and their mother, God forbid?

When every tiny detail of your day feels like a highly-pressured negotiation, and your kids just persistently press buttons and point-blank refuse to do the things you ask them to, how do you keep your tone of voice playful and your expression warm?

I’ve been explaining away these difficult days by saying that the boys are just bored at home – endless rain has not helped – and that they’re ready to get back to the school routine. But I can’t help feeling a smidge of sadness as I say that – I want them to have had such a wonderful Christmas holiday that they beg to stay at home.

Am I deluded? Is everyone else just counting down the hours till the school run?