It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of nice things and a teenage daughter, will soon find her nice things in the wardrobe of her teenage daughter.
I genuinely had every good intention of blogging more this month, but every time I go on social media, there is some new tragedy or galling catastrophe, and I shy away again. To say recent events have tipped me over the edge would be fair. There are no words I can find to fully express how sad I am. How helpless I feel. How ashamed I feel, to be able to enjoy brunch with my daughter, when I still have flashbacks to a mother and her child in arms, covered in ash and dust, dead from a mistimed/misplaced air strike. And a lingering sense of terror and dread, that perhaps a similar Paris-Istanbul-Nice-Munich scenario might play out in London again. We have put DD’s trial runs on public transport alone on ice for a while (but how long is a while?). It makes me sad that she understands the reasons why. Despite frequently suffering from motion sickness, she has opted to take the boat three times in the last week, rather than face the confines of the Tube.
This weekend was a chance to de-stress, ignore the Interwebs, and just ease into the first week of summer. DD had a spectacular end of term, with a really wonderful report card and a Maths award. She has been rewarded with a Kindle e-reader and is now happy as a pig in clover. She also enjoyed trying out all my shoes from a past life as I did a massive cull today. One of the few pairs to survive the cull were these beautiful gold Emilio Pucci gladiators.
The heels could double as weapons, and the pain they inflict are in direct proportion to their prettiness. I only wear them sitting down. But they’re a brilliant reminder of how fun and impractical and frivolous I once was! These shoes were a good way to tap into the juvenile, carefree part of my life (and raise my cool quotient in DD’s eyes).
Do you have a favourite relic from your past life?
Although Daughter Dear has run a countdown the entire month, I’m almost startled to realise that it’s been ten years since she made her beleaguered entrance into the world. That she’s closer to leaving home for the big, wide world than she is my little baby. That she’s closer to getting a license. Voting. Having her heart broken.
I can’t believe I’ve been a mother for ten years. What a wild ride it has been! Hairy and terrifying for the first half, exhilarating and intoxicating for the latter half. DD has made it through hell and back: needles, tests, drugs, more drugs, experimental drugs – and come out fighting the other end. Triumphant, even. Welcome to double digits, petit chou!
On your tenth birthday, baby girl, I want you to know this: you are my inspiration, my joy, my love. You are the embodiment of fierce, and beautiful, and everything that is good. You are sassy and irreverent. Your curiosity knows no bounds. I love that you love books. I love watching people flock to you, because you include everyone and make people feel welcome and safe around you. Your manners are impeccable. Your ability to navigate your way around London astounds me (especially when you seem to know all the secret passages around Camden Market!). I love your quirky sense of humour. Your ability to burst into dance whenever the mood strikes you (often on a crowded platform). I love watching your face light up when you tell a story, hazel eyes dancing with glee or outrage. That I just have to see your face after a long day, for my world to be right again. That I can’t wait to chat with you, and hear about your day. I could list so many more wonderful pieces of you, but they wouldn’t ever equal the sum total of YOU.
If someone offered me the option to ‘engineer’ a baby, it wouldn’t have come close to the perfection that is you. So for every day of the last 3653 days of my life (that’s how old you are), my flawed self feels humbled and awed and blessed that I get to be your mother. I will never stop feeling like I won the lottery.
Happy birthday, my precious! May you have many, many more.
❤ Your cray-cray mama
It’s been a busy few weeks. I’ve been on social media constantly, just not as me 🙂 And by the time I find the time to be ‘me’, I am all tweeted out.
The publishing firm I am contracting at has bought another magazine, and of course, until the lawyers checked everything and the contracts were signed, we had to keep schtum! However, it didn’t stop the frenzied calculations and planning happening in the background. This week, I get to comb through all the data and make some sense of it. Nerd alert: this is my happy place, so don’t feel sorry for me. The absolutely gilding-of-the-sugar-lily-atop-the-iced-cake? I am now supporting not one, but TWO, of my favourite magazines. I am almost sick with delight. It’s deeply satisfying to know that I had a small part in enabling the company to get to a position where it could buy another magazine, but the biggest win is working with not one, but two, incredibly creative, intelligent teams. Pinch me!
On a personal level, I’ve been prepping for DD turning 10. Ten. Double digits, baby. Anyone who says age is just a number has never seen my child turn 10. The countdown started weeks ago. I did not realise this was going to be such a huge deal for her. She has been changing slowly and steadily over the course of the school year, taking on more responsibility for herself and it has been wonderful (and heart-breaking) to note. Her ability to navigate the Tube system and central London still stops my heart. She is a city kid now. Dance is taking more of her energy and focus, as she is readying to go en pointe. It almost seems too soon; when did my little wannabe ballerina morph into this poised classical dancer?
Her excitement about turning ten has not worked its way to her gift list. She’s still pretty laissez faire about what she receives or does on the big day. She just wants a madeira cake (that’s pound cake to you Americans and sandkage to the Scandinavians) for Saturday breakfast, so I am working on gluten-free adaptations so I can share a slice with her. My first experiment has gone so well that I’m just going to stick with it for Saturday, and make a peppermint & caramel fridge tart for back-up. I will post the recipe with some measurements soon.
For now, it’s back to recorded episodes of Madam Secretary and catching up on reading my favourite blogs; I’m woefully behind!
I’ve been away from the blog, spending quality time with my loved ones. It is exactly what I needed.
DD got a pile of books for Christmas, and she has been most diligent at turning her TBR pile into her Read-That pile. One book really gripped her and she was desperate for me to read it, and I am so glad she got her way.
I love discussing it with DD after I had finished. We talked about the characters and how the author set the tone, from Ireland to the New World. We talked politics. DD is an expat third culture kid, so this story especially appealed to her. I think she really identified with the protagonist. The experience brought us together in a way I couldn’t have imagined, and I can’t wait to read another book ‘together’.
I’ve also been busy at work, but good busy. The magazine is going from strength to strength and it’s heartening to see my efforts yield tangible results. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I was afraid that the team would eventually show their ‘true colours’ – that people couldn’t really be that nice. I am delighted to announce that I was WRONG. It’s a real joy to be able to enjoy what I do, even on a bad day. I am well aware of how lucky I am.
I struggled with the title. I really couldn’t think of a good one to encapsulate everything I wanted to write about.
I’m typing on my phone. Ah, the wonders of modern technology and ubiquitous free WiFi. My husband snores indelicately next to me and DD is sitting on her bed watching The Big Bang theory, also courtesy of free and fast WiFi. We are tuckered out after sightseeing for most of today and a big, late lunch. Belgium, like most of Europe, does its main feasting session on the 24th evening. So come 6pm, it’s pot noodles and some questionable clementines. I jest. The pizza place is open. We’ll be fine.
DD is miffed that we forgot to bring gifts with us, even though we’d opened most of ours already (in London). Enter caustic mother who reminds her kindly that there will be children getting zilch. This season brings out a lovely colour in me.
I get frustrated by the guilt hemming me in from every quarter, exhorting me to do more, give more. Brussels has been a good antidote. Everything seems to be running as normal. No last minute crazed shoppers. No panic buying. Just lots of glühwein and waffles at the markets. Perhaps I’m just a tourist looking in, and there are hordes of people looking for the last minute Belgian equivalent of cranberry sauce or gravy granules. But the general vibe seems to be quite relaxed. (Yes, I’m wilfully ignoring the many armed guards I’ve seen patrolling the streets. I’d like to think their visibility might deter any potential stupidity).
I’ve digressed, haven’t I? I wanted to talk about gifts. The gifts which don’t come wrapped. Like time, and laughter. Focus on the people you want to focus on. Let the other stuff go. When you give a gift, let that go, too. You can’t control the emotions of the receiver, just focus on your emotions when you bought the gift. When you wrapped it. DD gave a homeless man a clementine from her stash the other day. She wasn’t expecting anything in return. She just let the clementine go.
I wish I could be more like that. Just let the clementine go. Not expect things in return. Not base my peace of mind on someone else’s approval or acceptance of my gifts. Whatever they may be.
I’m going to end this by wishing you a happy supermoon tomorrow night, wherever you may be. I hope you enjoy most of the people, most of the food and most of the gifts. Hey, I’m realistic.
Joyeux Noël from Brussels!
Today, I am so grateful I got to walk through central London with DD, taking time to admire the architecture, like the beautiful Royal Courts of Justice, and just soak up some pre-Yuletide atmosphere.
This is officially the last day of calm before the storm of holiday mania and panic buying; the UK has embraced Black Friday with fervour, even though Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday here. I am also grateful for online shopping which enabled me to do almost all of my holiday shopping, so that I can look forward to a wonderful and relaxed Thanksgiving/birthday celebration for Husband this weekend.
I’m thankful for many things, but this year, most especially for the incredible blogging community which has welcomed and supported me over the last ten months. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. You’ve kept a girl relatively sane.
Now…if you only got to keep one Thanksgiving food for every Thanksgiving to come, what would it be?
School picture day, that annual event which causes a fair amount of entertainment in this household. DD always threatens to pull some hilarious poses, and I’m never sure until the proofs come through.
The morning of picture day dawns, stormy and grey.
Me: Sure, what were you thinking?
DD: Well, 40s pin curls.
Me: I think that might be a bit much to pull off this morning. Anything else?
DD: Yeah, how about that hairdo that Mia did for me on that shoot?
Me: Mia the professional hairstylist with two assistants?
DD: I’m sensing that’s a NO. What were YOU thinking?
Me: More like up or down. Ponytail or not.
DD: (eye roll & sigh) Fine. Good thing I have personality to make these pictures interesting.
I picked her up from school and on the walk home, we talked about her homework.
Me: So what’s your homework like this weekend?
DD: Mostly good, the maths might be tricky. We’re researching homophobes for English.
Me: WHAT? Seriously, that’s progressive. How on earth are you going to find a list of homophobes?
DD: Well, I’ve got a few in my head already.
Me: Really? (At this point, I don’t know whether to be impressed, disturbed, panicked…) Well, could you give me some examples?
DD: Sure. Bridle, bridal. Serial, cereal. Alter, altar.
Me: Homo-PHONES, kiddo, homo-PHONES.
Yep, never a dull moment.
If you’ve got corkers to share, do join in via the linky on E’s post.
And whaddya know? It IS Friday! I dropped my favourite child off at the Breton Bestie’s house this morning. (Fine, she’s my only child, but let’s not digress). BB has been bribing her with breakfast all week – today it was pancakes. My fluffy American pancakes are just not as good as the bestie’s crepes, probably more so because the supply is going to dry up in ten days’ time when they expat their way back to France.
The expat life giveth some good stuff, and taketh some good stuff.
The hammer has taken a while to fall – my husband jokes that I “think slowly“ and it’s true. Usually because I’m denial. But today I couldn’t deny that it would be the last time for a little while that I’d be hugging the BB’s seven-year-old son, since he’s off to France later today, in advance of the others. But I’m still in denial that next weekend I’ll be saying good-bye to one of the bestest friends I’ve ever had. We had dinner and cocktails last weekend and had a good giggle, which was bittersweet, because it was just a reminder of what’s being taken away.
A part of me realises this is completely ridiculous; she’s moving back to Paris, which is a 2.5 hour train ride away. Not the end of the earth by any stretch of the imagination. But for two years, she’s been at the other end of my road. Our daughters have more often than not had their heads bent together, gossiping and giggling. Yes, the grief is compounded because my daughter is losing HER Breton Bestie. I have a feeling DD and I are going to be clutching each other and howling over pints of ice-cream in ten days.
I’m going to focus on the amazing reports the girls have brought home, and the fact that they’re getting awards (which they know nothing about) on Tuesday. I’ll save the tears for then. Now pass me that ice-cream!!