New Year. New Mona?

Sunday, 3 January 2016

I'd like to think so, but in honesty I very much doubt it. I am planning on keeping it real and my goals achievable. I aim to do what I already do most days, weeks, months, and years and that is survive!

New Years Day is just another day, another goal post from which another resolution can be moved except it's the worst day to make promises you probably won't keep. Why? You've just had Christmas and the majority of us have over-spent, over-eaten, and over-indulged on alcohol. We're saturated and therefore perceive it's going to be easy-peasy to deny ourselves the things we usually enjoy in moderation. Add in the rubbish weather and you've got a recipe for disaster, darling. 

The world and his wife seem to evaluate their lives over the Christmas period and generally conclude that they have SO much to change. I, on the other hand, spend most of Christmas and the run up to it wondering how I will get it all done, wishing I didn't have to go to work and calculating how much sleep I will, or rather, won't get. I simply don't have the time - let alone the head-space - to pontificate on what's wrong with me or my life. The only way I get through it is by taking comfort from what's gone well, and reinforcing the positives which cancel the negatives.

'Mum, why haven't we got a Christmas tree yet, Father Christmas is coming tomorrow?'
'Don't worry it will be done before he gets here, just remember I was only five minutes late for your school play and I didn't forget to order the turkey.'

I understand that New Year is and should be an opportunity for hope, especially for those whom 2015 was unkind to and have been touched by loss, sadness, or hardship. I genuinely hope for those of you to whom this applies that you have a better 2016 and experience peace, happiness, and good fortune.

For the rest ...
I know you want to be thinner, it won't make you happy 
I know you want to be richer, it won't make you happy
I know you want to be more organised, it's not going to happen
... the list is inexhaustible.

My advice for 2016: stop giving yourselves a hard time about what's wrong and celebrate what's beautiful and right in your life!

I may sort Haversham House out, I may not. I might find time to blog more often - who knows - but if I don't, you know what, nobody dies! 

Lost in translation.....

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

So much of life, is, exactly that and not just real life. Literature across the ages is littered with devastating missed moments, is it a human failing or a genetic deficit? Clarity, in some aspects comes with age and experience and everything is always obvious in retrospect. 
I'm always shocked when people confide in me that it matters to them what people think of them. I think I vaguely remember my younger self feeling that way but it seems such a long time ago. It always makes me feel a little unsettled and sad. The appropriateness of not caring what people think of me is what unsettles me and the concept that people gauge their value on others opinions is what saddens me.
Family life is busy, rammed with practical and emotional stuff that must be done and there simply isn't enough time to do it all properly. Everybody wants a bit of you. A friend's mum who had six children and worked says that while one was always on the hand the others were left a little to their own devices and even now they are grown it's no different. How could it be any other way? You have to prioritise what matters most constantly, things change and you wonder why you ever attempted to 'have a plan'. 
I am spectacularly disorganised and have an aversion to mornings, not a good mix. Arriving home after a late shift I indulge in a glass or two of wine to unwind which generally results in sacking any preparation for the next day. I'm tired, throw my uniform off at the side of the bed and climb under the duvet resolving to 'get up and sort it in the morning'. I must have been Spanish in a past life, 'mañana, mañana, manana' but we all know 'tomorrow never comes'. The alarm goes off, I hit snooze to have 'five more minutes', which turns into ten, then everybody else gets up and attempts to drag me from my pit, in varying degrees, shapes and form, unsuccessfully. I find it impossible to tune into life in the morning until I have to. My daughter refers to this as 'parenting from the bed' and assures me it's 'not working for me'. Eventually vertical I deduce I have enough time to shout at the children to get their shoes and coats on and get in the car and dress in the nearsest thing available. You guessed it, yesterday's uniform is thrown on my back plus a coat and I'm out of the door. At the school gates other mums presume I've been on a night shift and cast me sympathetic smiles which I acknowledge with a grateful glance. Those mums who know me well, wink and remark 'nights AGAIN' prompting a smirk from me and them. Lack of head space for anything other than what has to be done is my justification for not caring what random others think of me. I would never intentionally offend, or want to appear arrogant, I'm just doing the best with what I have. 
The younger me, who agonised and brooded about how I was perceived by others would never have behaved that way but she simply had too much time on her hands. She overthought things, wrote the script, attempted to stage manage life, generally badly and it often led to disappointment. She mostly knew what she wanted but wasn't able to articulate it in real terms. She lacked the courage and confidence to say it as it was. She dropped hints and dangled carrots in the hope others would 'get her drift', take the lead and tell her what she wanted to hear. When things didn't go as planned she'd blame others or write the situation off with a fateful 'not meant to be'. Above all she tried to conform and be who she thought others wanted. I say she because 'she's' so far removed from me. I no longer have time to be like her, I have to accept I am who I am. 
Bernard M. Baruch suggested 'Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.' I can subscribe to this philosophy surrounded by family and good friends but had I the confidence to do so earlier in life I might have had fewer Tess of the d'Urbevilles moments. 

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Monday, 24 November 2014

Or at least that's what I'm hoping. So much has NOT happened since my last post.

September arrived, then disappeared just as quickly. I can only assume I became lost in the euphoria of not having a small child at home for the first time in SIXTEEN, yes, 16 years!

The first day of school is a distressing scene to behold, not just for the teachers. Yummy mummies stood at the school gates, hankies at the ready with crying small children super glued to their legs, clinging on for grim death. Children extracted expertly by teachers from their parents, some more successfully than others and patiently coaxed through the door, some still hysterical, there came the second wave. A trail of broken women, supported by friends, physically in some cases. Reluctant to leave, peering through windows to catch a glimpse of their little one in the hope they had 'settled down' unconvinced by reassurances of 'they'll be fine'.

I, on the other hand approached the first day of school in my usual tardy, disorganised manner. I did have a slight celebratory spring in my step and found it difficult to hide my excitement at the prospect of relative freedom. I was relieved to have survived the six weeks summer holiday and to be honest I think that the kids were as glad to see the back of me as much as I was them. HOORAH for full time education.

In terms of 'family time' the summer holidays are overkill. At the beginning of week two I told my children I was going to change my name as I was sick of hearing 'mummy'. The youngest asked me 'What to? Mona?' 'No' says I 'to Supercalifragilisticexbealidocious' in the hope that they wouldn't master that in a drawn out whiny tone.

My master plan for the first school term was to sort out Haversham House, regain some order and control over my life. What has actually happened is, 'Pro-cras-tin-ation...Doo dee doo dee dee dee doo, to the tune of the 80's Belouis Some song, 'Imagination'! I've looked at it, pondered it, felt overwhelmed by the enormity of it and have become ninja at avoiding and ignoring it. The only time I feel alarmed or embarrassed is when somebody comes to call that hasn't been previously inducted to the maze of clothes, shoes, boxes, toys and piles of post littered everywhere and then, only if they look aghast as they cross the threshold.

So December arrived, I shut my eyes and put my fingers in my ears in attempt to blank out the Christmas adverts, music and decorations forced upon me wherever I glanced. As the month has progressed I have become greener and more Grinch like by the day. It is now only two sleeps away and I'm still ignoring it. I do briefly acknowledge it with palpitations and nausea when the children remind me Fr. Christmas is coming SOON but am still contemplating feigning catatonia in the hope of incarceration in a mental asylum till February.

This year I am even more spectacularly disorganised than previously. I have failed to write and send any cards even to those who really should have received one, I still haven't wrapped all the presents and the Christmas tree remains on the patio in its netting. The biggest problem with the tree is the lack of a space to put it; let's face it they're supposed to live in forests not houses. We do have food ordered but I can't claim the glory for that, it has been my husband's one contribution to the festive season unless you count the dent to his bank balance. I should actually be doing something instead of writing about it but I'm sure you're seeing a theme, I have evolved into the 'avoiding Christmas ninja'!

The older I get, the more I hate Christmas. I'm not sure I'd ever be organised even if I began preparations in January. I don't hate 'Christ'mas but I do feel saddened by what society has done to it.

Don't worry I'm not poised to have a religious rant. I think all moral people probably feel the same pangs of guilt as they purchase toys for children who neither need or want for anything, struggle to find that present for the person who has everything and overfill their fridges with food that won't get eaten while others have nothing. I have and do regularly remind my children of those less fortunate in the world, donate to charity and support fundraising but I do wonder if that is enough? Black Friday was a shocking example of what has gone wrong with Christmas and society in general, greed, selfishness and a lack of respect for others.

I have just been reminded by a wave of breathtaking nausea that I really do need to get off my back, out of my bed and on it and off the internet. I am simply aiming to survive the festive season but I hope your Christmas is happy, filled with love, peace and goodwill to all men. Unless you are having your 'in-laws' for dinner, 'In-laws' are exempt from all of the above especially at Christmas!

Dead Dad Day

Monday, 25 August 2014

Today is the twenty third anniversary of my father's death! I am now four years longer in life without him than with him. Starring at this in black and white is startling, for some days it only seems like yesterday he was still here with us. Today I want to remember only happy things about him, the memories we share as a family, especially the ones that make us smile. Remembering those who have passed is what keeps them alive in our hearts thus enabling us to still feel close to them.

'My Daddy is tall and has orange hair' is how I described him in my primary school books supported with a drawing! He was quite happy to be tall but made a point that his hair was actually 'auburn'. 

A bright boy, he fared well at grammar school and despite his mother encouraging him to embark on further education he left school at sixteen eager to make a living. A talented mathematician with a love of science and how things worked led him to a job in engineering and he became a mechanical fitter. Working on large machinery in the steel works, my earliest memories are of him working shifts and coming home dirty. I looked forward to his return when he would grasp his hands on my forearms, lift me to his eye level and rub his stubbled face against mine. It tickled in a weird way and I would shriek to be let go but demand to picked up again almost as quickly.

Que sera...

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

...sera, whatever will be will be, the future's not ours to see, que sera, sera!

I decided to inject a little fifties glamour whilst attempting to sooth my daughter's pre-GCSE result jitters as I sensed my usual 'whatever happens, nobody died' routine wasn't quite hitting the spot.

Results day dawned and she did fantastically well, or at least I thought she did! Nothing below a C to be seen on the paper print out, let alone a U or a resit to be had.

I was delighted, yet she was disappointed. She managed to hold back the tears until we got in the car and by the time we pulled into the drive we were both bawling. I was deeply saddened and deflated that she felt she could/should have done better. Had I walked out of school on results day with her piece of paper, (more years ago than I'm keen to count), I would have been walking on air.

Four kids and a ****.....

...... in a van is like PMT on acid. Feel free to use your own poetic licence with the asterixes! For my part it's an inappropriate, politically incorrect, term of endearment for my husband and his bilateral prosthetic hips!

Just had a few days away with some fantastic friends and laughed so much I've bought shares in Tena Lady. Some of us camped, others glamped/seriously glamped and the less hardy among us, me included, took the 'luxury' option and hired a caravan.

I use the term 'luxury' loosely, very loosely, as in reality caravans are more like glorified sheds. They are just too small and I felt like Gulliver in the limited time I spent in 'the van' but with fellow giants for company and not Lilliputians.

Everywhere I turned I tripped over somebody and those with their own hip joints moaned less about this than those without! In spite of being inhabited by giants the beds were constructed for Lilliputians too, well the single ones at least. Not that it really mattered where anybody planned or wanted to sleep as this changed as frequently as the weather and the moods of the teenagers amongst us.

Mork calling Orson

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

I was genuinely saddened to learn of the death of Robin Williams. Whilst his work was varied and talents wide ranging, for me he will always be Mork from Ork. Oh how I loved Mork and Mindy, it wasn't just funny it was bonkers but in parts touched your heart. Even my Gran Kane and Great Aunty Mary watched it.

The outpouring of grief when a 'celebrity' dies never ceases to surprise me and there's a part of me feels uncomfortable with it, it feels more than a little intrusive. When all said and done however sad or upset we feel, this is not our loss to grieve. We will all carry on with our daily routines and Robin Williams not being here in the morning won't stop us from sleeping tonight. 

'Val-er-ie call me'

Sunday, 10 August 2014

One of my funniest friends is Val Entine. We share a warped and what some may consider a sick sense of humour, amongst lots of other things. Those who know us consider us to be equally and individually bonkers in our own rite but we accept each other's quirks and get each other in a way some people never will.

She's one of those people you meet and feel you've known all your life. Within weeks of friendship we knew each other's life stories and found we had so much in common that our relationship developed into a naturally empathic one. Over the years we've shared many things, mainly the trials and tribulations of married life, children and advancing middle age, with candor and humour that some find shocking.

Above all she makes me snort with laughter even when things seem grim. We both lost our fathers suddenly and much sooner than we should have. Our reactions to and the way we came to terms with this are diverse, but as with most life experience they are formative.


Monday, 4 August 2014

One hundred years ago Germany invaded Belgium causing Britain to declare war on Germany. I have been moved by the tributes to 'those who gave their today for our tomorrow'. I also reflected on those who lived with the devastation it created, both personally and globally.

My wonderful paternal grandfather, Robert Francis Croft (left, standing in his WWII uniform) lost his eldest brother, Alexander in WW1. As a Desert Rat 'fighting Rommel' during WW2 himself, he had more idea than many of what his eldest brother may have gone through and was understandably proud of him. I always felt this pride in his big brother was what enabled him to cope with and to a certain extent justify his death.

As a young child I spent LOTS of time with my paternal grandparents especially during summer holidays when my parents were working. My grandad would meet me off the bus and we would saunter back to my grandparent's house. En route he would sing me silly songs, make up poems and often call into the bookies to put a bet on. I loved it when he chattered his false teeth, which my grandma hated. In between my grandmother teaching me to knit, sew and bake we would 'go out for days' locally. Some days were more exciting than others, or so it seemed back then. Retrospectively, TIME, was the most important factor and in my memories it isn't what I perceived as the exciting days that I hold close to my heart but the 'normal' days, visiting family and cleaning gravestones!

My Favourite Cousin

Friday, 1 August 2014

What I like to do he doesn't
He's his family's pride and joy
His mothers little golden boy.' 

The lyrics to an Undertone's tune that those of a certain age will remember. I can usually gauge people by their reaction to my second son Fergal's name. 'Oh like the journalist Fergal Keane' from the late 40 to early 50 year olds, 'Were you an Undertones fan?' from the early to mid 40 year olds and 'You mean like Fergal Sharkey' from the 30 to 40 brigade. 

Whilst I hope I have 'A Good Heart', I confess, I always find the last of the three responses the most cliched and least palatable! As per, I've gone off on a tangent, so back to the train of thought before it once again departs the station.