Should We Share Our Birthing Stories Online? Absolutely!

rawpixel-568371-unsplash (1)There has been a backlash recently against new mothers who share their birthing stories online. Some people don’t like this latest version of “oversharing” because they think it traumatizes pregnant women.

Although, not as much as the birth… I hasten to quip.

I have to admit that I always felt a bit cheated after the births of my children about the silent agreement among women not to discuss the absolute horror the nitty gritty of childbirth, except with your close friends – those that have seen you wee in public, puke on alcohol, or provide you with blow-by-blow accounts of sex with their husband.

Joking!

But fortunately, we’re a lot more open these days about what was once considered to be women’s business. In fact, it might surprise you to know that it was men that instigated the change to be with their partners in the delivery room. Evidently, it was difficult to focus on the paper in the waiting room with the bloodcurdling screams of their wives in their ear. Although my father was lucky enough to be in the pub – a story that, (not being one to shy away from sexism or political correctness), he continues to recount with pride.

Perhaps, predictably, I dragged the old man into the torture chamber with me, although he did come kicking and screaming when I went into labor two weeks early, the morning after a very boozy farewell to life without real responsibility the night before. It is no exaggeration to say that he slept through most of my ordeal until NC was thrust into his arms so that the medical team could save me from bleeding out – and I believe from certain death, had I been in Outlander.

NC’s birth was a shock, but not as massive a shock as my naive interpretation of what a sleepless night meant. Both of my children were in a rush to get out, which meant short, sharp periods of the kind of intense agony that Cassie goes through each week on The Bachelor, rather than a prolonged ordeal. Aside from what felt like wall staples in place of stitches in my vagina – that I secretly hoped wouldn’t be removed for several years – my experiences could have been worse. (Okay, not much worse). In fact, I found the sight of blood on the bathroom floor of the hospital to be far more unsettling.

But should we share the grisly, bloody detail of this natural, yet savage ordeal of bringing children into the world?

Absolutely. If you don’t want to know what really happens, don’t read about it or watch the videos. Obviously, I read everything that I could get my hands on at the time – because…anxiety – and in hindsight, I’m glad I did. I was more prepared and more aware of my options when it became evident that my birth plan was as useless as a knitted condom. Added to which, I knew that no one would bat an eyelid when I called the old man those names that even we have censored in our marriage.

 

Rule No. 1 Of Feminism: Never Bleat About How Hard It Is To Have It All, When Fighting To Have It All

Maternity-Work-SuitsIt appears to be the fate of women in search of equality that we’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t. And that’s why I loved Serena William’s honest proclamation in her speech after losing the Wimbledon final.

“To all the mums out there, I was playing for you today,” she said.

The comment was not an excuse for her performance, rather a galling admission that I suspect many sportswomen and professional women at the top of their game will identify with. Because to be at the top of your game is a choice for many women.

Anyone that has ever watched the iron-will of the formidable tennis player will know how much Serena must have hated to lose that match. But to me, what she said was what most of us know to be true in the fight for equality – and it’s something that I have been reminded of many times by men – that we can’t have our cake and eat it.

We can’t bleat about how hard it is to have it all when fighting to have it all.

I know how hard it is to hold down a job as a mum with no extended family support; and particularly as the mum of a kid with additional needs. Only the other morning, after a terrible night with the boy, the old man said to me, “Imagine if we had to hold down proper jobs?” as we rubbed the sleep out of our eyes. Our son is twenty-one.

Fortunately, both of us work from home, where a sneaky catch-up nap after lunch is an option. But for most working women, a sneaky nap isn’t an option. Sleep or no sleep, many are expected to get up during the night, care for sick children, prepare packed lunches and clean uniform, sign off school notes, monitor homework and do drop-offs, and then put in a full day’s work as a convincing professional.

And it’s hard. And don’t misunderstand me, I’m not negating the hard work that men put in to provide for their families and the support that many men demonstrate towards their partner’s return to work, yet I suspect that many are unaware of the way women’s achievements are held up for review and scrutinized in comparison to theirs, once they become mothers.

I wonder how many men have been on the receiving end of the tut of impatience from an unempathetic boss when they’ve had to leave early to collect a sick child from school? Those same people that were incubated and nurtured by women, many of whom have endured huge physiological changes from childbirth, the debilitating toll (in many cases) of a decade’s lack of sleep, and who sometimes faced genuine financial fears when they found themselves on their own, having sacrificed their earnings to be the primary carer – for them.

The type of sacrifice that some days may indeed affect the game of those women.

 

I Must Thank My Son For His Mental Illness

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The boy turned twenty-one last week, and while part of me wants to scream and holler with excitement, pride, and relief, the other part wants to sit in a corner, rocking and licking my wounds.

Many of you will be familiar with our journey with Kurt, our son. It was one of the reasons I began to write this blog, and I suspect that some of you follow it because you too have kids with mental health problems. You’ll also know that life with them is not what you signed up for, not by any parenting manual standard.

Some people say that parenting brings out the best in you and there have been times, particularly over the past six years, when I’ve wanted to rip that statement apart, over-analyze it with a few bottles of wine and then say “Fuck You!” because parenting is hard, and because there have been so many times when I have hated the person it has turned me into.

Before I had kids, I believed that being a parent was something I was born to do, and I made the assumption that I would be good at it. That naivety and arrogance have made the past twenty-one years feel like a very long and hard road at times, with its highs and lows, the steps forward and backward, the silent condemnation, and then more steps backward.

I’m not seeking pity or consolation. This is my honest acceptance of some responsibility for our journey, because perhaps if we’d done certain things differently, the outcomes might have changed. But we were amateurs at this parenting lark, carrying baggage from the past and the false expectations of others. And we’ve made it. We’re not out of the woods, but we can see the lights of the pub at the end of the road as we approach the start of the next phase of his life and the signs are that phase horribilis is drawing to a close.

My son is officially an adult, and as I draw the curtains on the past few years, I owe it to him to thank him.

I must thank him for shredding my heart strings and teaching me how vulnerable all of us can be – for which there’s nothing to be ashamed of – and for showing me how strong we can be when needed. This experience has opened my eyes. I have learned and grown from it more than from any other experience in my life and it has inspired me to write, develop compassion, get to know people before I judge them, and to form a concrete understanding of difference, unconditional love, and mental health that I will take with me into every other decision I make. 

This experience has shined a glaring light on what I see now was confusion in my younger years about what really matters.

Some God said that we are only given the stuff we can handle, and there have been times over the past decade when I was certain that I couldn’t handle being my son’s parent – or even why I should. You can lose sight of who you are when you have kids, and when you become the parent of a kid with special needs or a maverick, (or in our case ‘that kid’), there are times when you feel resentful about your needs being usurped by theirs. Instead of triumphs and awards, you get calls from school, the police, and the parents of other kids, and the pressure to keep pretending to be a professional at work (when your home life is falling apart) requires your finest thespian skills.

Not all of us are Mother Theresa types, with their long grey hair, premature lines, and a forgiveness in their heart for whatever shit life throws at them. Some of us lie in bed at night feeling broken, rallying against the unfairness of it all, thinking ‘why me?’

No one could have loved my son more than I have, and yet it’s hard not to think about how he might have fared with parents that were more liberal, or less anxious people than us; who might have come to the party with fewer middle-class expectations and ill-informed judgments. Poor kid. Although with fewer boundaries, who’s to say how he would have turned out.

As a parent, you can only follow your heart and do what you think is right.

At seven, I never thought my son would read and write; at twelve, I never thought he would have any friends; at sixteen, I thought he would kill himself; at eighteen, I thought he would end up in prison; and at twenty-one, I am still worrying – because what mother ever stops worrying about their kids?

But I am so proud of this young man. He has fought his own demons to stay here with us when others have given in, and with his fiery temper and big heart, his abounding energy and gentleness, his optimism in the face of constant rejection and his childish vulnerability, he has shaped me into who I am now – a better person.

And like every mother, I believe that he will go on to do great things – in his own time, (because Kurt has only ever done things in his own time). And I don’t mean GREAT things, necessarily,  I mean that he will do something extraordinary that is unlikely to fit squarely with society’s view of what is great; yet somehow, I have a feeling that it will be memorable.

 

Royal Baby #3

I like to think that I am a good person, but fundamentally, I must be a bitch, (as well as a hypocrite if you look at my last post about women supporting women), because I can’t help feeling a tad jealous about the way Kate squeezed out another heir, seemingly without a perfectly-coiffed, soft-curled hair out of place. Which leads me to suspect that they’ve legalized marijuana in the Lindo Wing.

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I’m certain that in the past twenty-four hours, every loaded, heavily pregnant woman in London has added herself to the hospital’s cancellation list and is hastily changing their birth plan to ‘whatever she had.’

I mean, you look at the woman (who, in a less privileged life could have been a successful catwalk model), and you have to question where exactly in her body she stored that eight-pound baby, and where she found the energy to push him out. I bet she never got accused of having child-bearing hips – thanks, Granny.

I’m sure many of us women have watched Kate’s pregnancies with the same tinge of (well, let’s call it) admiration. And some of us might even have felt that there was a touch of karma involved in her hyperemesis gravidarum. Just me, then? Because the term ‘all bump’ was an exaggeration for a woman who has never really looked pregnant until the last hour of any of her pregnancies.

I struggled to keep both of mine under wraps until the twelve-week scan. And frankly, I still get asked if I’m pregnant. 

And how fricken amazing did the woman look when she left the hospital? Bearing in mind that most women teeter out gingerly with that lumpy pad between their legs, rock-hard boobs and the sort of soreness down below that makes contemplating ever sitting on the toilet again an impossibility. Yet somehow, Kate managed to look like the baby had been airlifted out of her, or at worst, removed via keyhole surgery. I looked like I was on the way to the morgue.

I couldn’t show my face in public for weeks after the births of my two babies. I lied about them not feeding – I think I used the word “starving” – to extend my hospital visit for as long as possible, until eventually, they wheeled me out onto the street, screaming, ‘But I’m not ready.’

And I wasn’t.

I know she had help. Presumably, a Royal medical SWAT team that would have climbed in there and pulled the heir out if push came to shove. And I understand that, in general, each birth gets that bit quicker and easier. But I can’t decide if the speed of her recovery and her styled appearance has done us a favor by highlighting the incredible strength of womankind in the face of one of the greatest tests that nature throws at us, (apart from men), or if she’s set up any woman that needs a few years weeks to recover, to look a bit lightweight.

 

 

A (Sort of) Birth Story For Easter

I’ve been caught up in between worlds these last few weeks – the worlds of back pain, Easter chocolate and that of my characters, as I put my final touches to my manuscript. I’m not the best multi-tasker, so I find it difficult to tackle other writing projects when I’m so invested in these four people that are evolving daily.

 

But as the Easter holiday period wraps up, I know I owe you something – however trivial. So as this event marks a rebirth, I decided to mark my respects with the story of the birth of our third child. b15d2295e5b6a03d15d9ccd5ca0d13ef

 

I’d never had a dog as a child, although an assortment of pets – mad cats, fish and a tortoise that ran away, weren’t fit enough to survive in our house – which is why I always suspected that a dog might be one step too far in terms of responsibility. Added to which, I was highly anxious about them. I was that person who gagged when a friend’s dog jumped up at me – and they always did because they smelled the fear.

 

Two things changed my view. One was that the old man has always been an animal freak – far more relaxed in the company of dogs than our children – and as I watched his interactions with friends’ dogs over the years, and saw how they calmed him and diminished his stress levels, the idea became more appealing. The second reason was that I thought a pet, another being to love Kurt unconditionally and perhaps become his best friend, would help him feel better about himself.

 

The conception of The Princess was a long and arduous one. I did my research, changed my diet, took iron pills and went through other invasive medical interventions I still can’t talk about. And I’ll admit that at one point I began to waver in my decision…until my brother paid us a surprise visit in Sydney.

 

“Impulsivity” has a tendency to run through our family – rather like a sharp razor through the winter hair on my legs – so perhaps I shouldn’t have been that surprised when I mentioned the idea of the dog and he dragged me straight to the closest pet shop to pick NC and Kurt’s new sister – a female of the ‘oodle variety; the cutest and sleepiest.

 

I don’t think the old man ever believed I’d actually commit to the dog idea and so he was fairly indifferent to The Princess for those first few weeks. Obviously, she wasn’t the stereotype of what he considered to be “man’s best friend”, and I know he worried about turning up at the dog park on Saturday afternoons, beer in one hand and this blonde ball of fluff in the other, tethered to a shocking-pink lead. Yet she wormed her way into the rest of the family’s affections within minutes – the cute stack down the steps living room probably helped – and within days we were fighting over who would pick up her perfect, pint-sized poos – the ones that usually landed with stealth bomber accuracy on my brand new rugs.

 

She is has since reigned at the top of the pecking order, and each of us fight for her love and approval. She is the best spooner, the best hot water bottle in winter, the best therapist, vacuum cleaner and incentive for exercise. She is also great to dress up. Our main criteria for holidays homes now is that they are pet-friendly, and she drives shotgun all the way.

 

Training…not so much, although she will sit or lie down if we make it worth her while.

 

At the grand age of eight – which is fifty-six in dog years – and still spritely, she is often mistaken for a puppy (much to her disgust) – even though she is developing into a willful, middle-aged woman who gets crabby when she’s tired, is easily distracted, forgetful and rather partial to long naps with her dad most afternoons. So we have a lot in common. She tells us now when she’s had enough – a good lesson for Kurt, whose switch off button has always been temperamental.

 

And did I mention the best part about having a dog? It’s that they can talk. Over time, this lovable little mutt has developed a voice in our house, which is used (and abused), to say those things that we want to say to each other, but know we shouldn’t.

Concessions for Women

Hats off to Fu Yuanhui, the twenty-year old swimmer, for mentioning the P word at the Olympics. And I’m not talking about the P in Phelps.angry-1429013_1280

 

When asked how she felt after her race, she responded with:

 

“My period came last night and I’m really tired right now … but this isn’t an excuse, I still did not swim as well as I should have.”

 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all be that honest in the workplace and our colleagues were mature enough to demonstrate some empathy rather than smirking patronisation?

 

No, menstruation is not an excuse for poor performance and women don’t expect it to be, but perhaps it should be? Other athletes concede matches due to injury such as inflamed joints or muscle strain. Picture the pats on the back when a guy comes into the office with his arm in a sling because he sprained his wrist playing rugby; then imagine the reaction in the photocopying room if a woman suddenly bent down in agony from excruciating period pain.

 

Why is there this expectation that women have to be stronger and tougher to be equal ie. Superwomen? They suffer through menstruation, giving birth and breastfeeding while working and are still not considered as good as their male counterparts.

 

I read a very funny article recently about the true, nitty-gritty symptoms of menopause – the bits we don’t talk about. ‘Clots the size of tennis balls’ is one of the descriptions that stuck in my brain – cue exit of all my male readers – and it made me laugh out loud, because every one of us has at least one horror story about birth and embarrassing period accidents.

 

So, even though I’m usually quite vocal about my demand for equal rights, it did cross my mind when I read that piece that too right! women should be given some concessions in the workplace for all the hormonal shit we have to put up with at the same time as doing our jobs. But we’re not. We’re expected to forge through it, which means that sometimes our life feels like our own Olympic competition to to see if we’re good enough to do ‘a man’s job’; as if what they do is what we need to aspire to.

 

Even though we push their babies out of our bodies.

 

At the same time we’re fighting the stereotype of women being complainers and moaners, so to counter balance that accusation most of us try to make as little fuss as possible in the workplace, even though no man has ever had to give a presentation while worrying about leaking from either boobs or vagina or being over-tired because they couldn’t sleep through period pain or the crying of a newborn the night before.

 

*Steps down from soapbox*

 

Farewell Dear Ovaries, You’ve Served Me Well

I went through this stage at the tail end of my forties where I had this recurring nightly dream that I was pregnant and something would always go wrong – not necessarily with the pregnancy, but either the old man would leave me, or the baby would turn out to be some animal or my worst enemy at the birth. pregnant-914689_1280

 

You know how fucked up dreams can be.

 

Anyway, recently I’ve been dreaming about different friends of mine falling pregnant, which is strange because they are typically the least likely in my circle of friends to ever consider having a baby in their fifties. Therefore, what I think these dreams symbolise is that I’m ready to leave the reproductive phase of my life, and they have something to do with the final breath of my dying ovaries as they enter palliative care.

 

Mentally, I’ve been good with the retirement of my ovaries for some time now. You get tired of remembering to stock up on sanitary products, of paying tax on sanitary products, bloody sheets, not being able to wear white and well… blood. In fact, if anything, I wish they’d just gone  a bit more honourably, elected euthanasia rather than this final peri-menopausal stand they’re having with my uterus now, a silent demand that I acknowledge their role in my life and grieve for their parting.

 

For the main part, my ovaries have served me well, and relatively painlessly from all accounts, and I have two beautiful children to show for their monthly production line, who have now fully transitioned from foetus to adult, (physically at least).

 

I do wonder if men are forced to think about the reproductive system as much as women. Because menstruation and gestation are fairly time-consuming activities and make living that bit more challenging than only having to consider condom size, batteries for the remote and the odd embarrassing public boner. I wonder how they’d cope with the responsibility and symptoms of periods over thirty-five to forty years of their lives, worrying about their unwanted appearance, the panic when they don’t appear at all, having to take full responsibility for contraception and pap tests and at the tail end of their cycle, dealing with the eccentricity of their death throes and final assault.

 

At times it can feel like a real pain in the vagina, but if you think about it, the female side of reproduction is really quite a privilege. I mean, how fucking awesome is it that we can make babies?

 

It’s Kurt’s nineteenth birthday tomorrow and I can still remember those initial wondrous hours I spent with him between his birth at 3.30am and the first light of dawn, lying in my hospital bed, gazing with a terrifying, undying love at this chubby-faced second miracle that I’d created, now protectively swaddled and encased in his glass cage at my side. This, in spite of an inhumanely quick delivery that can only have been directed by Satan, enough stitches to create a patchwork quilt and each time I got up to the loo, what felt like the loss of half the contents of blood in my entire body.

 

And if I didn’t have the foresight that I have now… you know… about the next eighteen years of trials and tribulations that would undoubtedly lie ahead of me, I’d do it all over again; to experience that moment of primal, intense love that happens within seconds of your child’s entry into the world, along with the realisation that something is bigger than you now, because you’d give up your own life for that little scrap of flesh in a heartbeat.

And The Oscar For Mother Of Worst Toddler/Toddler Of Worst Mother Goes to…

Those photos of poor Charlize Theron trying to deal with her son’s tantrum in the full glare of the media made me wince painfully the other day. baby-155178_1280

 

In a kind of sentimental way, really, because we’ve all been there, and they weren’t much fun when you’re a nobody from suburbia, let alone a Hollywood celebrity being stalked by the paparazzi.

 

So I’d like to dedicate this post to all those stoic young mums of imperfect toddlers, forced daily to do the dragging and pulling walk of shame dance to the car that toddlers force you to do when they don’t want to get in their car seat. Because all mums know that it’s traumatic enough to be on the receiving end of a full-blown tanty in your own private space, but a public one is triple points.

 

I’ve earned my stars in this department and so can speak from experience. In fact, I swear I wore the tee-shirt for birthing the most tantrumming toddler in NC, which I realise may be hard to believe from what I’ve divulged about my nerd… daughter in previous posts, but I have loads of friends that will vouch for me.

 

NC was a troubled child until around the age of ten, but the most trying period was in the four torturous years before she started school, when I was still green in the parenting department – AKA not having a fucking clue what I was doing. What made it worse was that the old man and I were one of the first in our peer group to fall pregnant, so we had nothing to compare NC to, just those Disney-like fantasies of raising the perfect baby I’d devoured through my pregnancy.

 

After the first post-natural childbirth-birth classes where everyone sat around and smugged on about what an amazing time they were having with their new baby, I remember one of my friends, who had obviously caught the look of contorted pain on my face whenever I looked NC, attempted to make me feel better after my precious bundle had screamed solo the whole way through baby massage. (I will always be grateful to you for that, Alice). She suggested that NC’s irritability might be because she was so bright – obviously trying to be kind – which the old man interpreted later that evening to mean that NC was obviously bored with the limited intelligence level of my postpartum company.

 

Whatever the reason behind my daughter’s disappointment with life and her new family – and truthfully there could have been any number of reasons such as not eating, hating the clown wallpaper I’d chosen for the nursery or the realisation that she had been unfortunate enough to get the fruitcake for a mother with not an ounce of maternal intuition – I’m certain that her anger was due to the debilitating tiredness bought on by her refusal to sleep at any point during the day, which meant that by witching hour our house would resemble Armageddon.

 

NC was a child who was fundamentally very unhappy in her own skin.

 

Anything and everything set her off. She screamed at the sight of men she didn’t know, hated being strapped into the pushchair, threw herself out of the car seat and screamed when I left her with the child minder. Once she even bit me when I came to pick her up to go back home.

 

Is it any wonder that wine time became quickly synonymous with witching time in our relationship?

 

And it’s why, these days, whenever I witness a child over-heat in the supermarket and some poor mother try to calm the situation down without giving in, I find it hard to know how to react towards her. What I really want her to know is that it’s okay, that most of us have been through what she’s suffering, to offer her my best ‘been there’, ‘feeling your pain’ kind of sympathetic smile, without coming across as some patronising, judgmental middle-aged smug. Perhaps it would be better to ignore her completely so that she doesn’t feel like there is some national conspiracy to make her feel like she’s the worst mother in the world.

 

Because that’s how I felt.

 

We feel your pain, Charlize, and if it wasn’t for Kurt I could tell you with my hand on my heart that it will get better.

 

 

Everyone Needs A Token Baby Jesus At Christmas

I’ve got earache.

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The Princess was too mature to adorn the silly moustache. Obviously, mine is real!

It’s either payback for jumping into the pool for that revitalising swim on Christmas Day, (sometime between dessert and cheese), to celebrate the end of a glorious lunch that finally made it to the table in spite of my oven’s best attempts at sabotage when it decided to switch off halfway through cooking the turkey.

 

Needless to say, I remained calm, if ‘calm’ can be defined as drowning in a bottle of Moet. You can only imagine the military operation to get it going again – thank you God, Google and the Bosch forum.

 

Or it might have been caused by the swim on Boxing Day morning to help clear the Whisky cobwebs and give the locals a good laugh at my first attempt to glide gracefuly through the water with my new flippers.

 

It was a memorable Christmas Day.

 

If I’m honest, I’ve never understood those people who get super-stressed about cooking what is essentially a posh roast. It’s not the food that maketh the day, it’s the people you share it with. And we were lucky there. Good friends, who have become surrogate family here in Australia, with their new addition this year of the cutest token baby Jesus ever to grace our table and Instagram.

 

You need small children around you at Christmas, especially when your own children have grown up and disappoint you horrbily by sleeping straight through the morning, which left the old man and I twiddling our thumbs, wondering how to start Christmas without them. 

 

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NC tolerating our token Baby Jesus, the closest she will get to a baby, or so she tells me.

NC engaged Santa to deliver the old man and I both a stocking this year – my first since I was fourteen – and I might have shed a tear. The old man surprised me (hmmm) with the best handbag EVAR…as well as some new kitchen scissors (!), and Kurt bought me a mystery book, whose clues to its genre included the keywords ‘humor’, ‘perversion’, ‘sex’ and ‘women.’

 

If ever a son knew his mother….

 

Not everything went perfectly according to plan, OBVIOUSLY. The custard on my trifle never set and had to be sucked up with a straw; there was mild panic when the ‘pigs in blankets’ were still pink inside; Kurt scared the fuck out of our token baby with his impression of Mr Napkin Head, and no-one apart from me touched the Brussel sprouts or red cabbage and so avoided the obligatory flatulence afterwards.

 

Even the fact that the next generation thrashed us at Trivial Pursuit (who the fuck knows the names of the Transformers) couldn’t spoil the day, and nor could Kurt and one of his ‘in between sofas’ mates who turned up at 11pm and drank my entire bottle of Vodka between them. 

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The trifle might have been a tad runny…

 

The old man spent the day clearing away wrapping paper, tutting as he emptied the bottle bin, humming ‘Christmas Is Nearly Over’, and intermittently yelling at Kurt to PUT THE VODKA BOTTLE DOWN. But I’m sure I caught a couple of smiles of near-contentment when he thought I wasn’t looking and he hasn’t started counting the receipts from Myer yet.

 

And new BFFs for this one day of the year, NC and Kurt entertained us towards the end of the evening with their annual drunken dance off; the only time they truly bond, with their joint ‘garden sprinkler’ and ‘filling the shopping trolley’ moves.

 

To crown the day, a moment as pure as ‘Silent Night’ when drunk as a skunk NC moved us all to tears and reminded us of the true meaning of Christmas with her beautiful rendition of Phoebe’s ‘Smelly Cat’.

 

How was your day?

Self-Doubt, Writing and Giving Birth To Book Babies

Self-Doubt, Writing And Giving Birth To Book BabiesI’m nearing the end of the ‘book’ I’ve been writing, for what seems like the whole of the last century. I don’t really like to call it ‘a book’, because that sounds arrogant, and couldn’t be further from the truth of how I feel about my latest creation. This ‘book ‘of mine is, in reality, just a very long Word document that I have painstakingly crafted over the past few years, primarily as a kind of therapy, and secondly to fulfil some innate, crazy desire to write one good story.

 

Of course, my close friends are aware that I’ve wasted a large chunk of my life on this particular piece of writing, and so have started plaguing me about when it’s due.

 

The thought of which terrifies me.

 

It was the same when I first started my blog. It took me four months before I invited my close friends to read it because I’m terrified of failure and rejection. And although most people wouldn’t consider completing a novel as a ‘failure’, publishable or not; I do. (Actually a lot of people probably would).

 

Some of us are much more sensitive to criticism than others. Self-doubt, which I believe stems from anxiety, can be a crippling trait, and it prevents many of us from ever reaching for the stars. While a positive word about my writing can have me soaring for aeronautical miles, a small piece of what is deemed to be constructive criticism, can have me locking all the doors, burying myself in a mental coffin and hammering down every last nail.

 

When you are an unpublished writer, self-doubt haunts every hour of your craft, because there is no tangible proof that you can actually write. There are good days, when your fingers tap-dance happily on the keyboard, flirting dangerously from the sheer joy of creativity, and powerful verbs jump out of your head straight onto the page; everything feels right, like there was a reason and it is all worthwhile and makes sense. And then there are the days when you read a page over and over again and still come back to the same conclusion – that what you have in front of you is a load of bollocks and your name is attached to it.

 

I’m not a glass half-full person who believes you can do anything if you put your mind to it. I was always crap at netball.

 

It’s not like I have any pressure on me to write the next literary masterpiece. On good days, I would describe my innocent piece of fiction as chick lit on ice; on bad days, it feels as though Mills and Boon would reject it after the first paragraph. Not that I’m a snob when it comes to writing – I swooned in the first book of Fifty Shades.

 

It does help these days that I don’t care AS much. Generally. And that I know that my true friends will stand behind me to pick up the pieces when I fall apart after the first ten rejection letters and I start drinking heavily…more heavily… and then they’ll subtly remind me about self-publishing.

 

I’m secretly aware that I’m postponing the end of this particular gestation because I’m scared of the outcome, not because it’s not cooked yet. I’ve used ‘editing’ as an excuse for far too long, while I try to make this baby perfect; but nothing in life is perfect and colour and imperfections make life more interesting in general.

 

Yet I know that personal and commercial success rarely stem from fear, but come from having the courage to carve your name on your convictions.

 

I’m proud of this literary baby, whether it is recognised commercially or just by my loved ones. This baby was planned, made with love, and it will always remain a legacy of mine; of my love of a good story and having the balls to put it out there.

 

 

The True Meaning of Charlotte: We Can Get Back To Our Lives Now

The Real Meaning of Charlotte
Princess 1 Taken by Chrissy and found on http://www.flickr.com

Forgive my withering cynicism, for believe it or not, I am as clucky as the next person at the sight and smell of a cute newborn, but do we really have to dissect the origins of the name Charlotte from every historical angle for the next two weeks?

I chose my kids names because they sounded nice and because they were the only names the old man would agree to – my choices of Noah and Florence being rejected as ‘ridiculous’ – not because of some upper-class, historical significance or to brownnose my ancestors.

Did it ever occur to anyone that maybe Will and Kate just like the name ‘Charlotte’?

Kurt got his name because I knew this really chilled-out, hot guy at uni who drove an MG; and look how he turned out!

This Royal birth has dominated the media for a year now. We’ve been forced to endure every detail of each new phase of Kate’s pregnancy from the morning sickness that led to her hospitalisation, her lack of weight gain, the confusion over her due date, her labour and now the Russian conspiracy theories about when the birth actually took place.

And as if that wasn’t enough suspense, the Palace decided to torture us further by stretching out the release of the Princess’s name for two painful days.

Quite obviously, NO-ONE could get on with their lives without knowing the name of the Princess.

I am not a Royalist but I am a Brit and understand the deep-seated power of Royalty as status in many parts of the world, and the money Britain makes from associated tourism and merchandise. Even I am not immune to feeling a sense of pride in our culture and history – I should be, having had every important historical date rammed down my throat, rote fashion, for the entirety of my schooling.

And yes, I have been known to feel all soppy inside when I go back and revisit the wonderful sights of our history, like the Tower of London, the palaces, Stamford Bridge, David Beckham’s waxwork and other relics of flamboyant decadence of the Royals – in spite of the advice of their advisors to re-market themselves to be ‘just like one of us.’

But…

While Kate was gestating, lot of other serious shit has been happening in the world – surprisingly, more important shit than the birth of one of a billion new babies, and one who is a mere third-in-line to a throne and so has carte blanche now to become the next fucked up Royal wild child and follow in the footsteps of previous famous fucked up Royals who will never sit on the throne. No doubt she too will lead a life of covered-up debauchery in a regime that bears little relevance to the future of the UK or the world in general.

Which is why I’m also not immune to how fucking amazing Kate looked after the birth of Charlotte – I am a woman after all – and I’m not going to join the critics who have nothing better to do than slam her for getting the stylists onboard pronto to work their magic. That photo of the three of them on the steps of the Lindo Wing is going to be on every mug, plate and teapot until the poor girl drops her third child, so who in their right mind would want to look knackered and puffy or publicly demonstrate their difficult mobility due to stitches that were probably killing her?

Credit where credit is due, that cream dress was a brave call…

But can we please get back to our lives now?