A Public Apology To My Long-Suffering Husband

Tail firmly planted between my legs, I owe the old man an apology for my last post.

 

For as he pointed out, where it’s not unusual for me to write about him non-reverentially, typically I balance up my scathing, personal criticism with some redeeming facts about his personality. However, in my last post he thought he came off sounding like a dickhead. love-1139688_1280.jpg

 

Which he’s not.

 

And looking back at that post with hindsight thoughtfully aided by minor domestic warfare, perhaps he’s got a point. He puts up with a lot from me, poking publicly at his foibles on a weekly basis, and sometimes I forget that you, my readers, don’t really know the man. And often in my vitriolic, self-delusional need to be funny, I forget to add that he’s actually quite nice.

 

In my defence, I was generalising about middle-aged men, but I used him as my example. His immediate reaction to the post was that he wanted to put out his own equally bitter, retaliatory post about how awful I am to live with, and I begged him to do it because I’m sure you’d all lap it up. To be honest, he’s far funnier than me.

 

But then the Pitch and Putt Golf Open in Machu Pichu came on telly and he couldn’t find the window of opportunity.

 

I’m sure all of you realise that I’m no Mother Theresa and I hope that the picture I paint of our lives doesn’t ever come across as unauthentic, warped or too perfect. The whole point of this fucking blog is about NOT being perfect, and having to deal with the extra shit that the ageing process, teenagers and being a woman in hormone crisis throw at us even when we’re on the floor, at our lowest ebb.

 

But in case you haven’t worked it out, and for the old man’s sake – because I love him enough to throw my pride onto a live train track – I can admit that I’m a moody cow to live with, that I’m highly judgmental, opinionated, and about as far from the ‘natural’ mother-type I aspired to be, (more the type that desperately hopes that love will make up for all my shortcomings). I’m also a really shit cook, rely heavily on alcohol to cope with stress, (aka being a very poor role model to our children), I continually give him a hard time for not living up to my high expectations of helping me create that perfect family picture in my head that the Ingalls and Waltons had, (that blinkers me to what I do have), and I don’t tell people often enough how much I care about them because that would be a sign of weakness. And did I mention that I’m a perfectionist and very over-critical?

 

A bitch of the highest order, if truth be told.

 

But again, in my defence, I don’t know how I would have survived the last few years without this blog as my therapy outlet and sometimes I get carried away by my own importance. Almost double the number of parents who have kids with ADHD end up in the divorce courts, so I’m not being melodramatic when I state that as a couple, we’re doing okay. Sure, we’ve weathered some fucking perfect storms, but bizarrely they seem to have made us stronger. The old man doesn’t have the same therapy outlet as me and being a different gender, he has to find his outlet to scream in other ways – usually by whacking at a golf ball.

 

And I know I ridicule him for his obsession with golf, but it’s his place to focus when he doesn’t want to focus on the pain, just as writing is mine.

 

The old man and I have fundamentally opposing personalities, which were always going to lead to fireworks. We often joke that his cardiogram is flat line whereas mine is a full-blown heart attack. I’m the drama queen; he’s my steady knight. We’ve always fought, bitched and warred with each other, but those few times when I’ve really overstepped the mark I’ve always been horrified at the thought of losing him.

 

That must be love, and love deserves respect.

Kevin, The Middle-Aged, Grumpy Old Man

I don’t know how many of you remember British comic, Harry Enfield’s character ‘Kevin, The Teenager’, but the old man appears to be metamorphosing daily into the middle-aged version. 

 

 

It seems that although we gain some invaluable wisdom with the ageing process, there is a danger of regressing to the petulant obstinacy of a teenager at the same time.

 

Some days it feels as though the old man is less mature than our eighteen-year old, Kurt.

 

I’m generalizing obviously, but it is a known fact that men veer dangerously close to the territory of ‘Grumpy Old Man’ in middle age. For some reason, they appear to be at their happiest when allowed to isolate themselves – preferably with nothing more to do in life than watch Fox Sports, complain about nothing and embrace the end of life in all its misery.

 

And while women feel destitute without the company of close friends to talk to, men celebrate the fact that they don’t have any friends, refuse to improve themselves, (or in fact do anything very much with the rest of their lives), and given the choice would migrate hermit-style to a gated community with golf course, unable to be reached except in dire emergency.

 

Generalizing again, but women seem more positive about the opportunities that middle age affords them and are more drawn to celebrating whatever time they have left. They may make the bold move from suburbia to the city that they always dreamed about, take up new hobbies denied them in the past, explore new cultures, travel and build new friendships. baby-215867_1280

 

They have even been known to separate from those grumpy old men that have pulled them down for years.

 

It feels like every decision is an obstacle with the old man these days. I dread the times I have to surprise him with plans he hasn’t had months to prepare for, I am forced to hide healthy foods he doesn’t like in other foods, I have to hoodwink him into events I know he would never agree to do if he knew the truth.

 

Like a teenager, he has an unshakeable opinion about everything and rebels against authority, or indeed any boundaries imposed on him by myself if they mean that he can’t do (or not do) what the fuck he wants, due to his responsibilities of being one half of a partnership, a father and supposedly, a fucking adult.

 

He now resents my input into his wardrobe, what he eats and even my opinion on whether he needs a jumper when he leaves the house – something he used to depend on me for. He accuses me of disempowering him, yet it still takes him twice as long as me to get out of the house and invariably he will forget something.

 

He stamps his feet, swears at me and sulks when we lock heads and I go through the conciliatory motions like I have done with our own teenagers over the last few years until he is calm enough to rationalise that it’s just not worth it.

 

Is your partner turning into a grumpy old man?

 

 

A Fine Bromance: Why Can’t Men Share Their Friends?

A Fine Bromance: Why Can't Men Share Their Friends
Three april fools looking at camera with different expressions

For those still oblivious to the intellectual stimulation to be had from the new Bachelorette series in Australia, you will remain unaware of the focus on the cute bromances between competing males than any hot and steamy love-making for our poor Bachelorette.

I think most woman have been surprised by how touchingly loyal and supportive a roomful of boys together can be. And how much they touch each other! What is more embarrassing to comprehend, is how much less confrontational the ambiance in the house is, compared to when it was full of women.

Although it’s still very early days…

My old man is a man’s man and has had his fair share of bromances, although he has only recently secured his friendship pack here.

Which means he must have dragged himself off the sofa and called them back at some point.

He plays golf with these bros, gets inebriated with them, discusses his relationship with them – well, I imagine the others do, while the old man smiles on stupidly – and at the end of the evening they all shake pinkies, do funny handshakes, hug or exchange blood to seal their friendship, come home and trip over the chest of drawers in their drunken effort not to give themselves away.

Because in Bachelorette terms, that would be breaking the bro code.

I didn’t think I’d mind if the old man eventually ‘got himself a life’ in Australia ie. some friends. I’ve never been the type of woman who wants to live in her man’s pockets and the evenings he’s out with the pack now, provide me with the perfect opportunity to test new Ben and Jerry flavours, drink Chardy and eat chocolate. To be honest, he has grieved for far too long over the loss of his university chums due to me ripping him away from the motherland to seek my own opportunities in Australia.

But there are two things I hate most about men and their bromances:

  1. How men are so super-defensive of their bros, can never be objective about them, and how whatever their mate says is always ‘gospel’ – like it makes complete sense, even though I’ve probably said the very same thing for the eons that constitute our marriage.
  2. How secretive they become about what goes on when they’re together. That ‘what happens on tour, stays on tour’ bullshit.

I had to cope with this type of irrational bromancing with his brother’s influence for the first ten years of marriage in the UK.

It went something like this:

I would suggest an idea, which the old man would respond to with ridicule, followed by one of those scathing looks (like I’d come from another planet), and he’d want to dismiss the idea instantly – I believe, because it had emanated from me.

Then he would go away to the bat cave, rub his forehead a few times, process and ruminate over the idea for a while – probably to try and think up a way he could make it his idea. When his brother suggested the exact same thing a day or so later, the old man would jump on it like it was the best, most innovative idea in the world, because suddenly it had come from a reliable source.

What is it with men and their ‘bromances’, that they always manipulate their groups into some male society that is exclusive and closeted and women-free? The old man’s social life for the past ten years has been facilitated by my friendships, my effort and the kindness of my friends who have taken pity on him, yet the minute a few guys take him in, our calendar is booked from here to eternity with boy golf days, boys nights out and general willy-holding sessions.

Why can’t men share their friends?

Men, And Their Inability To Think Outside Of The Box

I thought I knew a lot about men before the old man began his temporary period of playing housewife while in between jobs.

Carrots of many colors.
Carrots of many colors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know you’re expecting me to completely annihilate his character AGAIN now with my usual bitter and twisted flair, but for once I’m not going to. No, I’m going to shower my husband with rare praise indeed because I’ve decided that the concept of every working woman having a ‘wife’ at home is an excellent one, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed how hard he is trying to make this new domestic arrangement of ours work.

There has been the inevitable training period, of course, and associated teething issues.

I have been forced to accepted that he will probably never volunteer to clean the toilets, nor will it cross his mind that the bedlinen does, in fact, get cleaned and changed. But in his defence, my old man can already whip up a mean Salade Nicoise, and the fridge has never been tidier.

But there is one main difference between men and women that I hadn’t really noticed before. Allow me to use a skiing analogy here to explain: men (or at least my particular specimen of the gender) don’t tend to go off-piste when it comes to thinking. For those of you not familiar with the misfortune of being annually forced onto the slopes, ‘off-piste’ is the unprepared, virgin snow that lies beyond the man-made slopes and is more challenging to the skier, thereby more appealing to the brave, foolhardy and ADHD skiers, who get their kicks from risking life and limb.

Fortunately, one rarely has to veer into such dangerous territory as a housewife – although parent/teacher groups and finding a parking space close to the school gates can be a close call – nevertheless, there is still a thought pattern behind the organisation required that sometimes calls upon spontaneity and impulsivity and thinking outside of the box.

The old man is not a natural risk-taker, and the analytical side of his brain is far more advanced than his creative side. Yet I still thought that most people possess SOME sense of intuition, can summon up some level of common sense in the face of (domestic) adversity.

Especially when it comes to food.

‘Food shopping’ is just one of those tedious chores of domesticity that I was embarrassingly over-grateful to discard when he offered to take it on as one of the duties of his new department, now that I am the only one working. We find ourselves in week 4 this week, and not only do I still have to compose the shopping list for him, but we have run out of all staple, survival foods such as peanut butter, Marmite and crisps.

To this day, he has not been intrepid enough to buy anything that is NOT on the list.

I get it – it takes a while to find your confidence in a new job, especially to become a an expert at orientating yourself through the aisles and produce of what can be a terrifying place – the supermarket after drop-off – and dumbing your brain down far enough to get used to the monotony of buying the same shit, week in, week out, without falling asleep in the checkout line or killing the person in front who has thirteen items in the twelve-max queue.

And I suppose he’s not at the meal planning stage yet; so the list doesn’t really MEAN anything.

But what do you think our chances are of the old man getting excited enough in the supermarket one day to actually venture off-piste, add some product to the trolley he knows we’ve run out of, or hell, surprise us with a new and exciting new product he thinks we should try?

‘It wasn’t on the list,’ is his unapologetic response each time I accuse him of not thinking outside of the box.

‘You said to vacuum. I thought we only hoovered the living room.’

‘I didn’t realise you had to clean the shower too when you clean the bathroom…’

Do all men struggle with the whole concept of thinking outside of the box, and taking an idea that few steps further to that next level?

Stereotypically, they have been accused for a long time of not being guided by emotions or instincts, or reacting intuitively. Unless they are watching or talking sport, that is. They seem more akin to robots that can be programmed to follow instructions, than to women. They can interpret the kind of mind-blowingly boring and complex data that would make most female brains combust, but if I put two carrots on my shopping list, TWO CARROTS IS WHAT I WILL BLOODY WELL GET – even if a 6kgs bag is on special and cheaper.

Could this explain the disparity between the sexes and why men always get everything just SO wrong?

Scoring Parenting Points

Scoring Parenting Points
This photo makes me cackle bitterly. Photo by thegreenhouse2009 at flickr.com

It seems a double standard to me that each time I have disciplined Kurt since my return from holiday, I have been accused of ‘nagging’; yet when the old man does the same thing, he calls it ‘confronting’ bad behavior.

 

Do you and your partner score points against each other for your parenting skills, or lack thereof?

 

Because there’s been a massive shift as to where the old man views his level of importance in the parenting hierarchy since my trip away.

 

As we deal with our son’s special needs on a day-to-day basis, I have noticed a few judgmental shakes of the head lobbed in my direction and several of his now-legendary tuts, because suddenly, (and after twenty-one years of wearing an invisibility cloak whenever one of our children has dared to be in his vicinity), the old man has suddenly proclaimed himself a perfect parent.

 

Even when we have our parental pow-wows, when we hide and whisper in our bedroom to plot our latest dastardly punishment for the most recent of Kurt’s crimes to parenthood, the old man tries to assume leadership and condemns all of my suggestions like some autocratic parenting top dog.

 

Worst still, he has started to undermine me in Kurt’s presence, with snide little pity smiles that suggest I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing, which I know is a criminal offence in parenting law.

 

And even though it is obvious that there was little (if any) guidance, boundaries or dare-I-say-it, interaction, between the old man and Kurt while I was away, our son appears to be revelling in this new, tough-love dynamic that goes hand-in-hand with the old man’s new role as primary parental carer.

 

Or perhaps he just loves their new-found bromantic alliance. AGAINST ME.

 

I might add that while he was supposed to be ‘parenting’ in my absence, the old man took two weeks holiday from work to cope, never discovered the vacuum cleaner nor the Spray N’Wipe and sourced all foodstuffs from the local fish and chip shop, which fortunately has an extensive menu as long as you like hot chips with everything.

 

He didn’t have to cope with the pressure of work or the pressure of the school Rottweiler who tracks down truants in our area like the child-catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and then gets her weekly kicks out of calling parents to remind them just how feral, disappointing and sociopathic their kids are.

 

Kurt probably slept until lunchtime most days as well.

 

I am grateful that he was able to finally experience the role of being a father to our son. Actually I’m not…I’m peeved that my son can’t see through his father’s unrealistic approach to parenting and his laissez-faire attitude, (that really means he’s given up), which has zero chance of working with an ADHD adolescent.

 

Of course life was “chill” when I wasn’t around and he was allowed to do whatever he wanted, I tried to explain to a confused Kurt this morning when I asked him nicely (biting down hard on my tongue) to hang his towels up and refrain from feeding the dog his leftover Nutrigrain because she gets diarrhoea.

 

It’s becoming clear that we need to find some middle-ground in our parenting styles for our son, somewhere between the old man’s archaic die or swim attitude and my need to over-scaffold.

 

I agree that with Kurt’s eighteenth birthday looming hideously closer it is time for the boy to demonstrate some responsibility and to face consequences for his mistakes, but we don’t have to push him over the side of the nest blindfolded and with stunted wings just to score parenting points.

 

Let’s Talk About Women and Middle Aged Sex, Baby!

I know EXACTLY what you’re thinking right now…

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About Women and Middle Aged Sex, Baby!
True Nature Productions – Sex After Forty – found on http://www.flickr.com

 

 

 

LET’S NOT!

 

 

 

Don’t worry; I’m not going to give you the sordid, hanging-from-the-chandelier-details of the sex the old man and I have on birthdays and Christmas.

 

 

 

But it’s been a week of discussion about sex in the media. Not only has ‘Fifty Shades of Grey‘ been on trial in Australia this week, but we’ve been subjected to Valentine’s Day in the same week, so the pulse rates of the female population have increased in anticipation. And it’s not only the teens who are excited by the prospect of Jamie Dornan with his shirt off; there are plenty of middle-aged women out there, unashamed to admit to feeling titillated by the content of the books and film.

 

 

 

So, about women and middle aged sex…

 

 

 

First of all, men, I hope it’s evident from the reaction to the ‘Fifty Shades’ series that we middle aged women still want and like sex…occasionally, and possibly on our birthdays terms; but we definitely still want it… just as long as it doesn’t clash with anything important like Tyson’s chest on ‘I’m a Celebrity’ or if we’re feeling tired (which is what we really mean when we say we have a headache) or blue, or bloated and aren’t feeling particularly attractive.

 

 

 

You see, after we’ve produced babies and commenced that phase of precariously trying to balance being the perfect mother, perfect employee and perfect partner, something has to give.

 

 

 

And sorry and all that… but for a while, that can be sex.

 


Embed from Getty Images

 

 

 

And then those young children swiftly develop into horrible teenagers and we have to cope with menopause (and if they coincide it is truly horrible), and then there’s those shocking physical signs of ageing which knock our confidence about our bodies, and those evil hormone imbalances that make us irrational and irritable and even more tired than usual.

 

 

 

So I guess that what I’m trying to get at is that we may both may need to work a bit harder to reach the stars.

 

 

 

So don’t fall for the hype that all middle-aged women are those stereotypes who use up the affection they previously reserved for their partners on their children and eventually become shrivelled up and happy to settle for a platonic relationship AC (after children). The popularity of ‘Fifty Shades’ proved that we DO still get turned on and that we still like an attentive (un-controlling) man/partner, but we respond best when we are made to feel attractive and loved.

 

 

 

In our favour, we mature women know what YOU like by now. We’ve got experience on our side and because we’ve worked out what WE like too, there should be less fumbling around in an long-term relationship and a greater understanding of each others bodies, which leaves more time to experiment. But middle-aged women also recognise that good sex does not a good relationship make.

 

 

 

Sure, sex helps…but it isn’t the be all and end all in this phase of our lives. It’s the icing on the cake…like shared naps, and not having to drag small children around a busy shopping mall or worrying about awkward silences.

 

 

 

When I was a young women I always recognised the signs of a dying relationship when the the physical desire disappeared.

 

 

 

Women are like that. We’re wired a little differently to men. It’s not that we don’t want sex; we just need feelings and emotions attached to enjoy really great sex.

 

 

 

And I think that some men are a bit scared by that complication.

 

 

 

Middle aged, mature women might not have that brash impulsivity and recovery that we had in our younger years, but we possess an inner confidence, experience and the self-respect not to under-sell ourselves. We still love new adventure, in and out of the sheets, but love and respect is what truly turns us on. 

 

 

 

The Biggest #QuestionForMen This Week Is What Century Are We In?

The debate over equality has been heating up nicely in the media over the past few weeks and I will always take whatever opportunity comes my way to get back on the feminism soapbox.   (Sorry, Dad!)

English: Chris Hemsworth at 2010 Comic-Con Int...
English: Chris Hemsworth at 2010 Comic-Con International (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With awards season upon us when we witness the bevy of beautiful and successful actors and actresses flaunt their talents and physical assets on numerous red carpets, attention has focused on the different approach towards the genders by the media.   The wonderful Kate Blanchett was one of the first to publicly shame a reporter who dared ask her ‘who are you wearing?’, prior to any questions relating to the professional work for which she was being awarded.   I will be the first to put my hand up and admit that I am shallow enough to enjoy ‘red carpets’ for the fashion, but Kate has a point – I wouldn’t be averse to watching Chris Hemsworth or Bradley Cooper forced to twirl and preen for the camera prior to describing at length their outfits, fitness regime and matching accessories.   Why are women treated as cattle and men treated as talent?   We know that the movie industry remains a man’s world wherein the movie moguls are still predominantly male, most lead roles are written for men and the pay is unequal, yet do we have to insist on dumbing down women when they have earned equal status within the industry?   With the increased impact of social media, I believe that female celebrities do have a duty to mention the name of their designers on air; but so should men. What neither gender should have to accept is to be treated as vacuous, pretty pieces of fluff, there to sex up a movie or compliment their more successful counterparts.   Buzzfeed tried to turn the tables when they interviewed Kevin Spacey at a recent awards show and dared to ask him about his beauty preparations for the event.   http://youtu.be/xlW-aHC8KdI   A mani-pedi? Agreed, Kevin, it is fucked up!   His look of confusion once the penny dropped, said it all.   The continued inequality in the workplace was further highlighted this week on Twitter by Clementine Ford, one of our most forthright writers on the topic of inequality, who created the thought-provoking hashtag on Twitter- #Questions for Men. These were not questions of the ‘men are from Mars’ ilk, of how the fuck can two genders from the same species think and behave so differently; the question was aimed at the prevailing disparity between the sexes in the workplace.   Questions such as ‘have you ever been judged by the length of your pants’; ‘When you die, do you expect your obituary to start with references to your attractiveness or lack thereof?’ – a reference to an obituary recently posted about the writer, Colleen McCullough; and ‘In a job interview have you ever been asked how you will juggle work and home?’   There was the expected acerbic backlash in response from the cavemen and predictable accusations about whining lesbians who no doubt should be pleased with what we already have.   As someone asked this week when the world witnessed the terrible fate of the Jordanian pilot in a medieval-style public burning – sometimes we have to question “what century are we in?”

Men And Thongs

I have many good qualities, but I am not a good nurse.

Assorted colorful flip-flops.
Assorted colorful flip-flops. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over-anxious people like me, worry incessantly about things that usually never happen, so when (God Forbid) they do, we freefall, go into denial and try to play them down as a coping strategy.

 

The old man’s recent fractured rib is a good case in point.

 

Apart from last year’s incident, (when I chucked my guts up at the sight of the old man’s face after he left half of it on our courtyard paving), I am told that I appear quite calm in a crisis.

 

A little too calm.

 

‘You’re fine,’ I might have said as he re-entered the apartment this week, (having fallen down several concrete steps and landing on his back), grey in the face, obviously winded and bent over, doubled up with pain.

 

When the old man subsequently told his work mate that he had fractured a rib, his mate asked him if he is one of very small percentage of men in Australia unfortunate enough to get beaten up by their wives; such is the regularity of his accidents.

 

 

We had already considered this possibility – that people might draw this conclusion – and it does seem a tad unfair to me, that I should be branded a husband-beater when the simple reason the old man has suffered so many recent injuries is down to his lack of spatial awareness and coordination on steps in thongs.

 

This is a man who has played rugby for England (U18s), walked the Great Wall of China and met prime ministers, yet he cannot wear thongs and walk at the same time.

 

Was it only a year ago that we were sat in the ER after his infamous courtyard fail fall? Yet too soon we find ourselves here again, with the old man in so much pain that he walks slower than a tortoise on dope and can never seem to switch his ‘whinge’ button off.

 

He is seriously pissed off too. After three weeks of holiday he was on the cusp of beating his all-time record on the Stairmaster this week and may even have succeeded in losing his 500g weight loss target (of the past two years) if he gave up chocolate and crisps as well.

 

I’m certain that he doesn’t want to really be in my care, either. My nursing talents are legendary in our family, with diagnosis being a particular speciality.

 

When serious shit happens there appears to be a mechanism in my brain that reassures me that everything MUST be fine. When NC developed pneumonia I tried to stabilise her with junior Neurofen; when she broke her leg, I wrapped up the trifecta of broken bones in bags of frozen peas. She still blames me for her disfigured pinkie because I refused to believe it was broken.

 

In spite of the old man’s protestations that he will look like a knob, these are on our shopping list this afternoon because I’ve checked the life insurance and I’m not sure that being an uncoordinated dickhead is covered.

 

Men and Thongs

Do All Relationships Become A Competition?

Do All Relationships Become A Competition?Day ‘ALREADY COUNTING DOWN’ of the holidays and I still haven’t killed the old man, but it’s interesting how much there is still to learn about your partner, even after thirty years.

It turns out that the life sentence of twenty-one years of marriage, thus far, hadn’t fully revealed to me the full extent of the old man’s competitive nature.

Why do men have to turn everything into a competition? Perhaps it’s boredom, or he’s missing bullying his staff at work, but everything the old man and I do together, (when we are forced to spend too much time together), has to become a competition for him.

Have I mentioned that he has besmirched the Christmas holidays (and all they represent in terms of alcohol and food over-indulgence) by commencing another of his fitness crazes? That’s right, the one time of the year when we have a bonafide excuse to eat and drink excessively (in celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus, of course), the old man decides in his wisdom to become a born-again fitness freak.

And not content to enjoy some personal, superficial smugness, with his carbonated fucking water and slices of cucumber instead of crisps, he makes me feel guilty about literally every bottle of wine I consume.

But he’s also decided to compete with me in the pool, and as you are aware, dear readers, swimming is the one sport that I have attained some level of coordination at without embarrassing myself – which makes it MY sport. Swimming also happens to be a sport that the old man has ridiculed for years.

It seems that he has to find something to focus on with all this free time, and obviously morning to noon cricket just hasn’t been adequate.

So he has dedicated much of our precious re-bonding holiday time researching swimming techniques on Youtube, and yesterday he even made me video him at our local outdoor pool. The same man who used to laugh at swimmers who warmed up around the pool, now obviously thinks he’s the next Michael Phelps and smiles at them, knowingly, in some secret nodding code of swimming camaraderie.

He times his lengths, gives me tips about my style and laughs at the unfortunate strokes of other swimmers, even though he has developed his own try-hard, poncy, left-arm movement to his freestyle that makes him look like he’s signalling the lifeguards for help.

He keeps begging me to let him time my lengths. So far I have refused to give in to his need to win.

He spoiled our six-course Japanese meal the other night by calorie counting and making me watch video after video of his breathing technique and has wasted many an evening in search of the perfect goggles and budgie-smugglers, when we should really be having holiday make-up-for-the-rest-of-the-year sex.

How are you coping with the enforced quality holiday time with your partner? Do they always compete with you?

 

Home Alone After You’re Married And Eating Chocolate In Bed

Obviously I adore my husband, but…

After thirty years crammed together in the marital womb, I quite like it when he goes away for a few days, leaving me to play.

Even with the teens bouncing off the walls, the sudden appearance of their teenage mates who take up permanent residence on the couch and eat their way through all my food stocks, the deafening music and the demands of looking after the dog single-handedly, (who seems to need to release her bladder every hour on the hour when he’s away), I feel a wonderful sense of freedom that I haven’t felt since those few short years of independence between leaving home and shacking up with my future husband.

Truthfully, the old man is a pretty easy bloke to live with.

You wouldn’t call him demanding as a husband or a father; if anything I’d like him to interact with us a little more, rather than sit there concealed by his invisibility cloak. He doesn’t snore, he’s not fussy about food, doesn’t drink my wine, doesn’t nag, doesn’t really parent unless the shit hits the fan and he generally cleans up after himself. Yet he does have a pervading presence in the house that we are all conscious of and sensitive to, and so we want to please him.

Is that the definition of ‘love?’

So when he’s not there, a surge of uncontainable excitement travels through the house like a current. I feel as excited as a naughty mouse that can do naughty mouse stuff when the cat’s away, without fear of getting caught.

And in my world, ‘naughty mouse stuff’ usually means doing nothing at all.

I wallowed in bed until 11am this morning, reading and flicking through crap Sunday morning tv. I started with Facebook, moved onto Twitter and then the online Sunday newspapers. It felt like the height of decadence to stretch my legs across the width of the marital bed, munch on my granola, dribble milk on his pillows and flick on the remote carelessly – although I was careful not to drop any granola on the sheets because the old man does have a thing about crumbs in bed.

Home Alone After You're Married And Eating Chocolate In Bed
The true meaning of decadence.

The irony is that the old man wouldn’t care if I did that every weekend.

But for some reason that the psychologists would probably put down to some psychobabble related to my needing to please as a result of my childhood, I would. When he’s there, some fucked up sense of duty (which has nothing to do with being a woman, I assure you) makes me feel as though I have to project this fake, proactive persona all the time. I don’t judge him when he vegetates in front of the sport on television for hours on end *lying*, because he works hard and we all need downtime – likewise, I know he doesn’t really judge me, but for some reason I feel as though I have to prove something to him.

My problem, I know.

It’s been liberating to stay in my pyjamas until midday, to cough irritatingly as much as I need to during the night, drink wine in bed and scoff more than those few cubes of chocolate I allow him to see me scoff when he’s around. I’ve loved making a mess in the kitchen and not clearing up immediately, leaving all the left-overs in the fridge that, (yes I know), we’ll never eat, until they walk out by themselves.

The rubbish has remained in the kitchen for far longer than is hygienically acceptable.

It turns out I’m a bit of a sloth without the old man’s passive order in the house, where one concerned look from him can give me an inferior wife complex of the worst kind. I’ve realised that if we didn’t have the old man’s slightly greater maturity and appreciation for order, the family might actually veer towards living in complete chaos.

Anyone know how to get chocolate stains off a white doona cover without putting it in the machine?

If you laughed out loud reading this post, leaked wee or even vaguely managed to identify with any of the middle-aged waffle contained therein, don’t be scared and follow my blog by clicking the ‘Follow My Blog’ button (derr!) at the top of this page, on the left hand side so that I feel loved. You can even follow my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mymidlifemayhem, and if you want to become the ultimate stalker, you can find me on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram too, where I lurk, (far more often than is healthy for my family and work), in the clever disguise of Louisa Simmonds.

Perfect Wife Or Perfect Bitch?

Perfect Wife Or Perfect Bitch?
Found on mylifeandkids.com at http://www.pinterest.com

It’s possible that I have acquired the reputation of being a bit of a bitch to my husband on this blog.

 

Or perhaps that’s just the old man whining again.

 

But having recently devoured Gillian Flynn‘s novel, Gone Girl, from cover to cover and in record time, (so I can see the film on cheapie Tuesday), I beg to differ.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Amy Elliott Dunne, but I have to admit to a secret respect for the protagonist of the book and her cunning logic when it comes to husband management.

 

In the old days, we used to cut men’s ties in half or bury prawns under the rug to get even (didn’t we?), but setting your husband up for your murder is a fairly radical move.

 

Not that anything is impossible when it comes to the fracture of love and relationships.

 

I won’t spoil the plot for those who haven’t read the book, seen the film or bought the tee-shirt yet, but since I finished it I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m either way too soft on the old man or plain stupid when it comes to dealing with the daily disappointments that pertain to my husband.

 

OR it could be that I’m the perfect wife.

 

Here’s why:

 

After 21 years of marriage, I don’t actually care enough to waste valuable time plotting revenge for the old man’s inadequacies.

 

English: Brad Pitt at the Toronto Internationa...
English: Brad Pitt at the Toronto International Film Festival 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These days I do allow him to make love to me provided a) I can pretend he’s Brad Pitt b) I can turn the lights off (so I can pretend he’s Brad Pitt) c) I’m allowed to read my Kindle at the same time and d) I don’t have to pretend to orgasm anymore, which is just so exhausting.

 

I only nag him these days when he needs to be nagged – is it really my fault that he can’t follow simple instructions from one hour to the next?

 

I always ask nicely for my morning cup of tea in bed.

 

I am very tolerant of his few friends and sometimes even invite them to the house.

 

I dress him, in terms of selecting his clothes, in what I see as a public service.

 

I feed him from Monday to Friday in return for one paltry dinner at the most expensive restaurant I can find at the weekend.

 

I listen to him (without yawning) while he drones on and on about his deathly boring get-rich-quick and money-saving schemes. It’s quite sweet that he still truly believes that he can educate me about the value of money, but it’s also why I’m sometimes forced to operate in an uncharacteristically clandestine manner, and withdraw wads of cash when he’s not paying attention.

 

I try to stay as physically beautiful as I can within the limitations of my age and the third-world level of cash I am allowed to siphon from our bank account indulge on myself without him finding out sulking or having another dull domestic on the subject of money.

 

Are you under-appreciated perfect-wife material too?

 

If you laughed out loud reading this post, leaked wee or vaguely identified with any of the middle-aged waffle contained therein, don’t be scared and follow my blog by clicking the ‘Follow Me’ button (derr!) at the top of this page on the left hand side. You can even follow my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mymidlifemayhem, and if you want to become the ultimate stalker, you can find me on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram too, where I lurk, more often than is healthy for my family and work, in the clever disguise of Louisa Simmonds.

How To Change The LifeStyle Of Middle Aged Man

How To Change The Lifestyle Of Middle-Aged Man
Neanderthal by David Smittcamp at http://www.flickr.com

The problem with having to change your lifestyle is having to change to your lifestyle.

 

The old man is suffering from his eighth mid-life crisis in as many years at the moment because he has finally realised that he is in fact mortal like the rest of us and may need to change his lifestyle if he wants to reach his fiftieth birthday.

 

Of course I know that his real fear is that I may get to enjoy all our hard-earned dosh without him. Which is why I’m not completely convinced that my support this increase in his longevity is a totes good idea for me.

 

What he doesn’t seem to have appreciated up until now is that the lifestyle of man has changed historically. No longer hunters and gatherers, kept nutritionally healthy by the Paleo diet and fit from the exertion of chasing dinner, it’s no real surprise that his twelve-hour, sedentary days behind a desk surfing the Internet was bound to have a negative impact on his health.

 

The old man does not do ‘change’ quietly. He proclaims ‘change’ from the rooftops and everyone has to be involved, rather like when he has man flu.

 

He has spent valuable Game of Thrones hours researching on the computer to see what he can eat, drink and do physically to improve his lifestyle, while we wait for him to crash and burn at the first chocolate bar.

 

His doctor insinuated that he could lose a few kilos at his last check up and he also suggested that binge drinking at the weekends should stop. Doctors always run that idea past me too – it’s their job – yet, as I consoled him, I’m still alive and kicking and the perfect role model for healthy living.

 

But we need to let him go through that process of thinking he can change for who am I to burst his bubble?

 

I’ve been instructed that he is longer wants to eat processed food, so last night I made him an appetising dish of Aldi fish and salad. I caught him salivating over the kids chicken pie in the kitchen and it might have been a real tear I saw drop onto the pastry crust as I gave the leftovers to the Princess.

 

I was surprised by the doctor’s comments, to be honest, because since we moved to the city the old man had led us to believe that he was power-walking and running to and from work.

 

And we have kept Nike in business, recently.

 

But alas, it turns out that most days he has been power-walking and running to the train station and living an appalling lie.

 

The ‘drinking’ issue will be harder to control than the change to his diet. Drinking is what we do together. It’s what keeps us together. I can’t imagine Friday night on orange juice but I suppose we have to go through the process until he comes to his senses.

Mean Boys And The Art Of Social Discrimination

You always find a diverse mix of personalities and allegiances in any social group. There are leaders and followers, but the majority of people slot nicely somewhere in-between the two extremes.

 

Or not so nicely.

 

Remember high school and the playground index of popularity? Most of us couldn’t wait to reach Year 12 to finally shed the high school shackles of social discrimination, only to realise that they are everywhere – from the workplace to mothers groups.

 

The piste has become our high school yard this holiday and has demonstrated the fickle loyalties of my family and NB.

 

And one amongst us in particular has shown his true colors to become the backstabbing, ‘mean girl’ of the slopes. No-one likes disloyalty and the old man has proven this holiday what we have feared for a long time – that he believes that his needs are above the rest of ours.

 

When we set out on our holiday to Thredbo, our group had already split organically and happily into two smaller groups of skiers – ‘Da Boyz’, as they like to be known, who believe themselves to be superior skiers/snowboarders with their mission statement of ‘better’ is ‘faster’ – who have obviously forgotten the story of the tortoise and the hare – and the girls, better known as ‘The Snowplough Chicks’, who put style above speed.

 

On day 1, NC and I, (aka the ‘Snowplough chicks’), headed off happily to our ‘slow but steady’ green group while ‘Da Boyz’, (Kurt, the old man and NB) fought over who would be the fastest in the Adrenaline Junkie group.

 

Sadly, towards the end of that first lesson, the old man was forced to retire by the younger and leaner crazy puppies and left to find his own way home from the bottom of a highly demoralizing black run.

 

It was a sad and frail old man who returned to the apartment that day, tail between his legs, who then begged us ‘Snowplough Chicks’ to allow him into our group.

 

Being ‘nice’ and not ‘mean’ girls, we welcomed him into our fold with open arms (plus a few promised shopping trips upon our return to Sydney) and never once mentioned his earlier gloats of being of a professional skiing standard.

 

On day 2, the three Snowplough Chicks (including our newly adopted snowplougher) tore up those green runs with a wondrously acrobatic display of perfect snowplough turns, while the two testosterone-fuelled Y-Gen males did their worst to carve up the blues and blacks, brandishing themselves with ice tattoos of renewed manliness.

And slowly the old man’s confidence healed and his manliness recovered, safe in the bosom of empathetic women and we watched tearfully as he began to hold his head up high again.

 

But before the Snowplough Chicks could get down the mountain to the Gluvein on day 3, the old man had skied back into the arms of Da Boyz like a testosterone magnet, dumping those very same snow angels who had rescued him in his hour of need in true ‘mean boy spirit’, and without so much as a backwards glance.

 

Mean boys.

 

 

Is The Man Bun Sexy Or Try-Hard?

Man Bun
Man Bun by Munnybear at http://www.flickr.com

I need to discuss the man bun today because they seem to be popping up everywhere in Sydney at the moment.

 

This topic also gives me the perfect excuse to give you ladies the Friday treat of some seriously gorgeous men on my blog.

 

Personally, I think man buns are BLOODY HOT; NC thinks they’re a bit try-hard.

 

I’ve always had a thing for men with long hair – who wouldn’t with Michael Hutchence as the role model of my thirties – and I forced Kurt to keep his long locks up until last year, when he suddenly decided to have them shorn off as an act of rebellion during the Dark Ages.

Never Tear Us Apart
Never Tear Us Apart (Photo credit: badjonni)

 

I felt like Samson.

 

Walk down King St in Newtown and it seems that every other guy under thirty is sporting the man bun with shaved sides.

 

PHWOARRRR!

 

The vote’s still out on this one but I don’t think that you should sport the man bun over thirty-five – or is that manbunnist?

 

David Beckham started it, I believe, and since then it has been cultivated by the likes of a smorgasbord of talented movie eye-candy actOrs such as Chris Hemsworth, Jake Gyllenghal and Leo De Caprio, so it must be FLAMING hot and the style provides the sort of eccentric titillation that sad old cougars like myself, (who are attracted to deep-thinking, creative man), salivate and go weak at the knees over.

 

What's That Bloody Smell?
Photo courtesy of Tony Quinn at http://www.flickr.com

Actually, maybe Beckham was responsible for the Alice band, not the man bun, which never quite took off in the same way, and explains a lot.

 

But the man bun signifies many desirable qualities in men. It signifies that they are comfortable within without being over-confident, a high level of creativity and being unashamedly in tune with their female side – add all those characteristics together and you get uber-hotness.

 

Unfortunately, it would be physically impossible for the old man to grow a man bun unless miracles truly did exist or one of those very expensive hair potions actually worked. Not that he’d ever go for it anyway – he thinks he’s far too macho to wear a pink shirt let alone a bun on the top of his head.

 

Your thoughts, ladies?