Do you still know how to flirt?

Vintage photograph of couple flirting

Flirting for mummies – I’m a bit out of my depth
Credit: Shook Photos – Flickr

A deep, throaty voice 

I was standing at the supermarket checkout poised to pay for a few hurriedly grabbed items that by some miracle would have to turn into tea in the 45 minutes between my son’s athletics and my daughter’s piano lesson.

His voice was deep and throaty: “Madam, would you like my club card points?”

I looked up to find the owner of the voice – a handsome 30-something man in a smart navy suit and aquamarine shirt with eyes to match – looking at me expectantly.  I swallowed hard. I was out of my depth…

Out of my comfort zone 

It’d been a while since I’d been addressed by a man of any age who wasn’t related to me or trying to sell me something. It also had genuinely never occurred to me that there might be people on this planet who didn’t find accumulating club card points as deeply thrilling as I did.

“Uh… OK. I mean yes, please. I’d love that!” I mumbled.

I handed over my keys blindly to the stranger, our fingers touching briefly, and he gave it to the cashier who swiped the key fob without question, oblivious to the fact that I was socially way out of my comfort zone.

Had I been chatted up?

Blue eyes flashed a smile and he was gone, leaving me to gather my shopping bags, children and galloping thoughts.

I’m aware that most people – apart from other 40-something mums – will find this tragic, but this little episode stirred something in me, which probably should have been left unstirred.

Had I just been chatted up? Why hadn’t the lovely young man offered his points to the builder at the counter on his other side? Why did he choose me?

My inner voice awoke from her slumber: “Or is it because your strained face and tired clothes suggested that you really needed the points. You were his good deed of the day.”

The truth was it’d been a while since I’d been chatted up. It was a good seven years ago when a quite inebriated man who claimed to have Italian mafia connections, instructed the barman at the village pub to send over a drink. The barman had to repeat it three times before I believed him.

And when an ex-colleague told me over the phone that I was much more beautiful in real life than the photograph on my website, I giggled nervously, even though I knew he was simply trying to tell me subtly that it was not cool to use a photograph of your 20-year-old self when you’re nearly double that age. My inner voice almost wet herself laughing.

Affairs: no, attention: yes

It’s not that I’m hankering after an affair or even a free drink (though I might be persuaded on the second one), but a bit of male attention – other than: “What’s for tea?” wouldn’t go amiss.

My encounter had just brought it home to me again that men – other than my husband and sons- had completely disappeared off my radar like a plane falling from the sky.

My wildest fantasies about men– other than the ones involving my husband (and they deserve their own blog post…ha ha) – can be summarised as:  “I really hope those strong hands and muscular arms will be able to fix the washing machine.”

When was the last time I stole a second glance at a passing pair of solid shoulders or solicited a wolf-whistle from even the roughest workman on the street?

Once you’re on the wrong side of 40 and especially if have that weary-eyed mum-of-three look in your eyes and telltale layers around your waist, you’re blanked by the majority of English men over the age of four.

(This is different in Europe, in my experience, where a full-bodied woman past her sell-by date can still raise an appreciative glance. They like their wine older too.)

But perhaps I’d underestimated English men all along. I’d been thinking of things I should have said to Blue Eyes: “What is your club card total?” or “You can swipe my club card again any time. ”  – I’m still working on it.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking of taking some initiative and might just offer to share my points with some poor unsuspecting man on my next shopping trip.

When was the last time someone of the opposite sex tried to chat you up – or even just noticed you? How did you react?

Is having fun on your to-do list?

Image of magnetic letters spelling having fun on a fridge

Has having fun disappeared off your to-do list?

My friend recently quit her stressful full-time job to stay at home. She’d been fantasising about this every day for the last 10 years.

Finally allowing herself the time to piece together the missing chunks of her children’s lives, at last having the freedom to arrange every minute of the day to fit her own agenda. She couldn’t wait to indulge her passion for cooking exotic recipes, join a running group and catch up with friends who’d been lurking at the bottom of her to-do list for years

Two weeks later and she’s as miserable and stressed as when she was working.”I can’t seem to enjoy it,” she says. “I think I need to go back to work.”

Every minute must count 

Another friend, about to take some well-deserved time off after years of spreading herself thinly on all fronts for years, has drawn up a list of planned activities that will make any senior company executive break out in a cold sweat:

Refurbish the house, landscape the garden, do a painting course, volunteer for a charity, Pilates sessions every day. The list is endless and is rattled off to everyone she encounters – daring anyone to doubt that every minute of every day at home will be spent productively.

On trend 

As with every other negative parenting phenomenon, I am bang on trend. My decision to realign my life with the things I care about and enjoy – my family and my writing, is a secret rebellion against an army of inner voices telling me that without a regular pay cheque, my self-esteem will be punched full of holes by every working mum I meet.

Even if we can afford it financially, and I’m very conscious that not everyone can, mums of my generation seem to be terrified of losing their grip – even just for a moment – on the slippery corporate ladder for fear that one misstep will send them sliding down into the doldrums of depression where their minds will rot away never to spark again.

Empty diary panic

Why does an empty page in the diary fill us with panic? Why do we feel the need to justify – even to strangers – a perfectly reasonable decision to take time out from the relentless and often unsatisfactory grind of being a working mum?

We are almost ashamed of the desire to spend precious hours with our children or just have a bit of time to ourselves, doing things that might not earn money, but could pay off handsomely in brownie points with our children and in self-fulfilment.

So where is this going?

Take my writing for example – I finally got myself as far as signing up for the creative writing course I always wanted to do – (my inner voice is still not talking to me) and I love it! But the niggling voice is there every time I leave the class – So, are you actually going to publish a book? This is all good and well, but where are you going with this? Are you going to make money (highly unlikely) or get famous (even more unlikely)?

I’ve never been driven by money – a new handbag or pair of shoes turn me on as much as the next woman – however, can I live without them – absolutely.

The real problem, I suspect, is that my sense of self is so entangled with my to-do list, that the thought of having a day without a plan or an activity without a concrete outcome – is like stepping off a cliff.

On the rare occasion that I manage to shake off those fears and anxieties, take deep yoga breaths, eat lots of chocolate and focus on enjoying what I’m doing in that moment – sitting on the carpet playing with my son or getting lost in my writing in a coffee shop – I feel like I am the person and mother I was meant to be.

And if I can build more of those moments into my life – who knows where that will lead?(See there I go again – why does it have to lead somewhere? It’s fun, I enjoy it – it’s good for my children and me. Is that not good enough?)

Does this sound familiar to anyone? Am I having a midlife crisis? Am I on my own out here? Anyone?

Some good press for bad mums, finally!

A photograph of a woman drinking a glass of wine

Me and my Chardonnay – inseparable

For the first time in many years – since I had children, actually – I felt quite good about myself this week.  It lasted about as long as an English sunny spell, but I definitely felt a little spike of optimism in the dark and dusty pit that is my psyche.

Soul mates 

After years of skulking around shamefully on school runs and sobbing into my Chardonnay, I’ve finally found my soul mates – fellow bad mums who, though they love their children, find parenting to be wildly overrated.

In the US a flurry of new parenting books has hit kindles and bookshelves like a viral infection sweeping through a nursery.  The authors are mums who “curse a lot, drink to excess, reveal scary truths and draw twisted little stick figures of their kids pooping and whining relentlessly.”

Fifty shades of parenting

These ‘scary, dark and funny’ mums seem to have hit upon the fifty shades of parenting – their expletive-infused, boozing, warts-and-all anecdotes of what it’s really like to be a mum – are hitting a nerve!

I’ll drink to that!

Share the grief

Finally, it may be time to ditch the anti-depressants and share the grief openly in stead about the seemingly never-ending daily grind of raising ungrateful little brats.

Maybe that will finally shatter the perfect mum with perfect children, perfect husband, perfect pets and catalogue homes illusion we all partake in at coffee mornings and school gates.

Perhaps it will be safe soon to own up to nasty rows flavoured with unwholesome language with our other halves about where the money will come from and whose turn it is to unpack the dishwasher – sometimes even in front of our kids.

Not-so-proud’ mummy moments

What a relief it would be to see a fellow mum post a ‘not-so-proud’ mummy moment on Facebook in stead of yet another carefully censored postcard glimpse of a perfect family leading a candy floss life.

Maybe we’ll soon be able to have real discussions about the mind-numbing boredom of building Lego spaceships or reading stories about dinosaurs, when all you want to do is check your email, play Candycrush or read a book about bad mums.

Shouting very loudly

Could we dare to come clean about shouting very loudly at our children in stead of gently guiding them to the right behaviour in soothing tones  – in line with parenting guidelines from childless experts?

Would you admit to fantasizing about life before children – all the time – not dreams about steamy sex (though that would be nice) but going to the toilet with the door closed, having a lie-in and spending money on yourself in stead of on football boots or swimming lessons?

I wouldn’t want to push it – but perhaps we could even admit to a less than perfect pelvic floor and how easy it is to lose yourself in the pursuit of being everything to everyone else.

Health warning

At some point I considered putting a health warning for doe-eyed first-time mums on my blog like the ones on cigarette packs for fear of shattering their dreams with my honest accounts of parenting.

But now that I know I’m not alone, I won’t. I only wish that my own library of early parenting guides had included a few titles from scary, dark, bad mums.

It would have comforted me so much to know that I was not alone in my moments of weakness when I couldn’t find anything to love among the tiring tantrums and endless whining.

It would have made me realise that I didn’t have to be perfect – and that guilt, bitterness, jealousy, frustration, cursing, shouting and drinking too much wine are as much part of being a mum as happy snappy moments of love and fulfilment.

PS. If you enjoy my writing, please spare me a few pence… no, seriously please VOTE  for me as  I’m a semi-finalist in the Britmums Brilliance in Blogging Awards in the Writer and Commentary categories, If you like what you read, I’d be so very happy if you voted for me.

Click on the badges below and tick the box next to Whyishersostroppy under WRITER and COMMENTARY to vote. It’s ever so easy. Thanks.

NOMINATE ME BiB 2013 WRITER

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Why it is good to spend time with your bum in the air

Snoopy

Snoopy needs inspiration too

I spent most of the week upside down.

No, I’m not referring to some severely disturbed emotional state, although that probably also applies, I mean physically bottoms up.

This entailed bending over and looking through my legs, in-between school runs, checking Facebook and dusting the skirting boards. You’d be relieved to know I only assumed this position in my own home with the blinds drawn. (So far, anyway)

Why, you may well ask. Have I gone mad? Did I forget to take my tablets? Have I put my back out?

Nope. The answer is simple: I needed a fresh perspective – new horizons, a different way of looking at things.

Inverted tea pot

I also tried balancing on my head in the inverted teapot or whatever that yoga stand is called – as that’s meant to let the blood rush to your head infusing your brain with fresh ideas.  I quickly realised a flurry of new ideas would not be of much use if I broke my neck.

Actually, what inspired me to imitate a supersized bat was an instruction from the lecturer on my creative writing course: Describe an upside down scene in 500 words.

How hard can it be, you’d think. Well, it’s damn hard, nigh impossible. I felt like a dried out prune with every last bit of creative juice squeezed out of me.  I didn’t know where to start. My rational brain refused to flip my world, probably rightly thinking that things were hard enough the right way up.  So, I took to drastic measures, physically inverting myself in search of creativity.

Creative writing course

“Let’s get this straight,” my husband had said when I first informed him that I was finally going to do the creative writing course I’d always wanted to do but never got round to.

“You’re going to spend a fortune on a course that has no guarantee of ever bringing in any money.”

The voice of reason, the rational, responsible one… my lord and master.

Needless to say – I ignored him.

And at first it went really well. I loved being out in London, thrived on discussions about characterisation and finding your voice over free coffee and biscuits.

Until I had to actually write something…

And read it out to the class.

Carnage

The bunch of sweet and innocent looking young people – apart from one other fellow journalist and jaded soul – turned into a pack of bloodthirsty wolves, setting upon my carefully crafted words with sharpened teeth and drawn-out nails, tearing my work apart sentence by sentence, chewing and spitting, shredding my hopes of ever being on the bestseller list.

That was a week ago. Meanwhile, I’ve band-aided my ego with yoga sessions, lots of chocolate and pep talks from girl friends, who relate to the crossroads faced by a 43-year-old mother trying to find her way back to herself.

I have also purposefully avoided the kind of people – men and women – who will sell their souls as long as they got a good price for it.  The kind of people who measure self-fulfillment by the number of zeros on their pay cheque or John Lewis labels in their living room.

Needless to say, I didn’t mention my little setback to my husband – and I didn’t think he’d take too kindly to me spending half the day upside down (unless of course there was money in it)

So what have I learned from spending time with my bum in the air?  And more importantly what can you learn from this – as apparently the whole point of blogging is to “give” people something.

Why YOU should spend time upside down:

Herewith my insights – for what they’re worth:

  • It’s never too late to pursue your dreams
  • It may not be easy at first – but persevere
  • Don’t feel guilty about going for something you want – you deserve it
  • Surround yourself with positive, nurturing friends
  • Avoid people who make you feel bad
  • Spend some time upside down – it really does give you a fresh perspective and if nothing else, you’ll be inspired to clean the skirting boards.

PS. If you enjoy my writing, please spare me a few pence… no, seriously please VOTE  for me as  I’m a semi-finalist in the Britmums Brilliance in Blogging Awards in the Writer and Commentary categories, If you like what you read, I’d be so very happy if you voted for me.

Click on the badges below and tick the box next to Whyishersostroppy under WRITER and COMMENTARY to vote. It’s ever so easy. Thanks.

NOMINATE ME BiB 2013 WRITER

NOMINATE ME BiB 2013 COMMENTARY