Anniversary

Yesterday was our seven year anniversary and we both forgot.

I don’t know what we were doing. It was a Monday so D was working. In his office. Slash second bedroom. Slash nursery.

I was downstairs with baby. Who is not a baby anymore. He was sliding his teddies down his little slide in the living room and I was sitting on the sofa trying to get work done. And getting interrupted, so really nothing was done. It’s ok, I told myself, as I got up for the millionth time to do something or other, I will work once he is in bed.

Then it was lunchtime. For baby. I gave him leftover pasta from the night before. And then hustled him upstairs for his nap. As he fell asleep, I did too. The exhaustion of being 8 months pregnant, working, caring for a toddler and doing the million other things people have to do just took over.

I woke up at 3pm, and baby was still sleeping, so I stumbled groggily and in a bad MOOD to the office slash nursery slash second bedroom where D was still working. I grumbled about not doing any work, dragging my laptop towards me. We started talking about things one talks about when they are parents and trying to make a life together.

And then five minutes later a small voice called from the other room, ‘Mamaaaa! Mamaaa!’

We laughed, because it’s the first time he has done that. I got up and went to him. He was sitting up on the bed, smiling at me.

D closed the office slash nursery slash second bedroom door, as he had a meeting.

I sat on the floor, feeling heavy and deflated. Baby ran around the bedroom making a mess and being joyful. He grabbed all his books from the windowsill and made a little hill out of them which he attempted to climb. Then he picked one out and spread it open on his little legs and began to read in gibberish. Some real words made their way in there too.

‘Ann done!’ he clapped for himself, slamming the book shut. All done.

My friend called. I debated whether to answer. I had to work, I had to cook dinner, I had to sort out the baby clothes, I had to clean the room.

I answered. We hadn’t talked in weeks, so it was a good catch up.

Then it was 6pm. The room was messy. I’d been playing with the little one. D finished his meeting and took over. I was still on the floor, feeling achey and tired.

I pulled myself together, got up. Went downstairs. Made cauliflower cheese and mashed potatoes, with a side of fish fingers. D and our little came down, tidied up downstairs. We had dinner. We cleaned up. Baby boy ran around. D played tag with him. Then he began running up and down the stairs, in the slow and stumbling way little toddlers do. Lots of chuckling ensued.

Then it was bedtime. Wash, brush, PJs, books. Left him with his dad, closed the door. Sat down to work. Baby boy crying for 15 minutes straight before I went in there. He was sitting on his dad’s chest, looking at me with tears in his eyes.

‘What’s wrong?’ I asked.

‘He wants you,’ D said, looking drained.

Mama.’

Ok. It wasn’t my turn to put him to bed so I felt stressed out and irritable. NO WORK was done. That means an all nighter which, in my state, I am not equipped for.

‘Ok.’ I said. ‘Let’s switch.’

‘Are you sure?’ D asked.

‘We can’t have him sobbing himself into a state. He won’t sleep. Then we’re really screwed.’

I put him to bed. It took two hours. At 10pm I stumbled out again, and sat at my laptop. I tried to work until 2:45am. Not much got done. I felt groggy and achey.

At 3am I fell into bed. D was sleeping soundly.

At 7am the alarm went off. D got up in a rush to start a meeting.

At 8am he popped his head downstairs where I sat, trying to work while the little ate porridge around me.

‘Hey’, he said, ‘We were married seven years ago yesterday.’

‘Is that so.’ I said, absently.

‘Yeah. Have to run.’

Up he goes to another meeting. Tap tap tap I go on my laptop.

Crash, goes something in the kitchen. The little one is pulling saucepans out the cupboard.

I think I will let him.

Stories

One thing my husband likes to say to me about my family is that ‘they always like repeating stories! I’ve heard the same story fifty thousand times and yet they still repeat it! They LOVE repeating stories!’

He says it like it’s a negative thing, and I used to see his point of view and started to think it was negative too. But then I stopped short.

HOLD UP.

I remember I ENJOYED those repetitive stories.

Mum, tell us about that time Uncle Nigel flooded a hotel party!’, or ‘Mum, tell us again that story about you and Kitty riding your tricycles to the police station when you were three’, or ‘Let’s hear that tale of when Dad broke his back when I was born.’

My mum would tell us all the family stories instead of bedtime stories before we fell asleep. She would tell us of the scrapes she and her cousins got up to when they were younger and turn them into episodes and we would listen avidly, despite knowing what came next. It was her voice and inflections and the way she built the suspense. Her voice rose and fell and lulled us to a space of serene security. If I close my eyes I can still hear how she would tell her stories.

Now we are too old for bedtime stories, she tells us of things her mother used to do and say, and what she saw and did when she was younger. She tells us things she experiences now, turning them into little stories and ‘morals’ and ‘lessons’.  And yes, I may have heard those stories hundreds of times, but before somebody who doesn’t appreciate them pointed out that the repetition is annoying, I never noticed or cared that she was repeating herself.

And I love them! My husband’s family don’t like to tell and re-tell stories like that. They just allude to things but don’t elaborate on them and make them events in and of themselves like my family do. They are more reserved, you see, whereas my family is a little more ‘out there’, letting emotions out as and when they arrive.

Our families are different and that is ok. But I have realised a very important fact. And that is that stories are very important to me. I myself repeat stories often, I catch myself doing it, and my husband rolling his eyes at me, but I can’t help it. I like doing it. I think I am doing it more for myself than for those listening to me. Also there are those who like my stories too!

I elaborate on them and add flourishes and, like my parents, I do the voices and gestures and act it out.

Maybe my son will appreciate my stories and will be a storyteller too, but he may also find the stories annoying and resort to retelling experiences with a wry smile and not do the accents. Either way. It is ok. We are who we are and we are born of the stories that shaped us.

Also, whether you tell stories with a flourish or not, you will still tell stories. Stories are just the narratives of our lives, and we choose how to tell them, be it with flamboyancy or reserved calm.

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On Buttercups and Balance

Two years ago the sun was shining and buttercups rippled across the field I could see from my window. I could watch the sun rise, and set, and then rise again, throwing its magnificent morning rays over the world, through a film of atmospheric cloud. There were no buildings to start and stop the process, and watching that orb climb slowly up the horizon was a bliss I could never miss.

Hazy mornings turned into stunning afternoons, every colour highlighted and illuminated by the bright summer sun.

I was not happy then, even though I had everything I’d dreamed of growing up in an Arabian desert. I dreamed of blue skies to replace my dusty brown ones. I dreamed of vivid greens and the smell of freshly cut grass, to replace my fake grass and the dismal beige weeds that decorated the sand sparsely. I was not happy, though.

And I ate my feelings.

I am not happy now, either.

I just can’t seem to find a good balance in life.

Back then I had no car and no job and was stuck in the middle of nowhere with no neighbours and and no way of getting away unless I spent a fortune on bus fares, which I couldn’t afford because I had no job.

Now I have a job but I have to travel away from home to go to it and it is causing a raucous in my family life.

I suppose it is in the human nature to always want more and never be satisfied with what they have.

I suppose it is also a matter of finding balance. And being content, and making reasonable decisions.

Also there is an element of faith here. Maybe my faith is weak at the moment. In fact, I know it is. And that is why I feel so lost and discontent.

 

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This was such a beautiful day. I walked for hours and hours with nothing but the silence, the wind, the sunlight, the soft swish of swaying grasses to keep me company. 

Sisters

Everybody says your sister is supposed to be your best friend. I think that is a load of tosh.

I love my sister. Of course. I don’t want anything bad to happen to her. I just want the best for her and I want her to do well and be successful.

But we don’t get along very well, my sister and I.

I know she looks up to me. I am not being arrogant here. What I say to her really matters, she listens to my advice and tries to follow it. I see her following in my footsteps and she would never admit it in a million years but I know it.

She turns to me when she needs help, and nowadays, what with being married and living far away and having a tonne of new responsibilities and a job, I cannot always be there for her, I know she feels the bite of that.

Being a sister is being in a complicated relationship. Many sisters have it easy, they get along and find it so easy to express emotions to each other. My sister and I don’t. We never tell each other we love each other. But we show it in the way we begrudgingly make each other a cup of tea. Or in the way my sister tidies up the room we used to share when she knows I am coming home. Or in the way I will give her my jacket even though we quarrel abominably about giving each other our clothes.

My sister and I tell each other we hate each other. But I don’t hate her. She annoys me greatly and I know I annoy her like hell too but we don’t hate each other.

I might give my sister a cup of tea and she will smile at me and say, ‘I hate you.’

As children we got along relatively well. We played lots of imaginary games together and devoured the same books. I wouldn’t say we were inspired by the same people. In our early teens we had similar tastes in dress and music, but hers took a darker turn. We are similar, but also very very different. How can that be possible? I don’t know. People say we look nothing like each other. Together we can be quite

My sister is struggling in the early throes of adulthood. She can’t relinquish the child within her and she wears adulthood like an uncomfortable gown that her mother forced her to wear. She is unconfident and hesitant, but oh so desperate to be where she thinks she ought to be.

Her aspirations are low, much like mine were at that age. Her associates are weaklings whose words are louder than their actions, and she projects their opinions disguised as her own. And it breaks my heart when she does that because she thinks she is so right and everybody else is so wrong and she is just mindlessly crashing through life and one day, like me, she will wake up with so many regrets.

Silly little girl.

But I know my sister. She can be feisty and fiery. She can be confident. She just doesn’t know how. And she is spaced out and needs a lot of prompting. She will come to me to prod her every step of the way in everything that she does. She needs to be handheld and it is frustrating, given that she is nineteen years old.

But I love her.

A secret part of me might be jealous of her. I don’t know why. I certainly wouldn’t want to be her, but I might be a little jealous of what she could become. Maybe? I don’t know.

I am an insecure person. I push myself and push myself to my furthest limits because I don’t want anybody to surpass me. I am in competition with everybody, even my husband. Some would say it is unhealthy. Who knows.

Do you have a sister? What is your relationship with her like?

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*roars internally*

I am pissed off at my husband because he is a grown ass man who doesn’t know how to take care of himself and HE IS PISSING ME OFF BECAUSE WHAT TWENTY FIVE YEAR OLD MAN DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO FRY AN EGG.

It is not like he gets along fine.

He does not. He will starve (literally) or eat packets of crisps. Every single day. For weeks.

Why am I bothering to be angry.

Then he has the audacity to be mad at me for getting mad because I care.

Why do I bother caring. Why am I so angry about this.

WHY AM I SO FURIOUS.

I mean, alright, you don’t know how to cook and nor do you care for cooking, that’s fine. It isn’t for everybody. BUT CRISPS!? REALLY!? At least buy salad or a healthy takeaway. At the very least. Or even instant noodles with frozen veggies thrown in. Or a healthy ready-made microwave meal.

Also, why do mothers encourage such ridiculous behaviour. Or excuse it and laugh it off or get offended when I mention how ridiculous it is. OFFENDED? REALLY? I refuse to worry about what he is EATING when he is away from me. He is not TWO.

JEEZ LOUISE.

Also I NEED MY OWN PLACE THIS IS GETTING RIDICULOUS I HAVE NO MARRIAGE PRIVACY AND EVERYBODY IS ALL UP IN MY BUSINESS AND I AM SO FRIGGIN MAD I COULD KILL A MAN AND ROAST HIM.

There. That’s out of my system.

Ugh. I love that guy to a thousand pieces but sometimes, honestly. I will probably regret this fury later. Or maybe laugh about it in a few years. I hope I can laugh about it. That would be fantastic.