Monday, 20 June 2011

Past, present, future

I was rifling through one of my many boxes filled with paper goods and discovered a class photograph circa 1984. The girls sat on benches at the front in two neat rows, behind; two rows of standing boys. We all needed a haircut, and uniform hadn't been introduced. One girl, who had the rather amusing (at the time) name 'A. Bird', is sporting a delightful Boy George sweater, pleated skirt and patent shoes. Another girl who I played an imaginary game with for 3 years featuring horses (of which I'm allergic and very cautious around) is wearing a velvet royal blue dress with a satin crimson pussy bow neck tie (imagine an 8 year old wearing that now!). My favourite outfit is a crushed velvet fitted, short red dress, knee high socks and cheap white trainers. This girl was STRANGE, she kept slow worms as pets, cut her knees purposely most days with seemingly blunt stainless steel scissors, and enjoyed  stemming the flow of blood with blotting paper. In the photo there is evidence of self-harm in the form of two unsightly gashes. The last I saw of her was in a real-life magazine, she was show-boating as she'd been to Turkey for liposuction and a tummy tuck.
With a few exceptions, we're all mums now and most live within a 10 mile radius of our childhood home. I regularly see one of the girls from the photograph, she comes over for coffee (never tea) every other Wednesday afternoon. I have little  in common with her 'on paper'; she is childless, lives with her mum and is very good at all the things I'm not  very good at. We lost touch for a while when she went to uni, then lived in various locations for a few years after.  Getting back in touch was easy once we both ended up living within 5 minutes of each other. I like having contact with people whose lives are different to mine it's exciting watching her future unfold fortnight by fortnight.
I think of all the things I wish I had done more of before I had children, and urge her to do these things. Travel! Revel in self-absorption, do things alone, don't wait for an accomplice.  Go to parties, meet people, stay out really late and sleep all day.  Study now if you want to better yourself, don't live a life of financial hardship, capitalise on your talents.
This advice is pretty rubbish. All anyone seems to want to do eventually is settle down and have a family. I recall getting fed up of nights out when I first bought my house and my eldest went to his dad's at the weekend. I couldn't handle the solitude if I stayed in, yet felt uncomfortable and lonely when I went out with friends to pubs. I'm not one for TV so if I stayed in, I'd spend a bit of time on the computer, then 'pace' the house like a caged lion. I had one great party which I tried to re-create, but as   is often the case, round 2 was a flop (I supplied too much alcohol; broken glass, a river of wine and several unstable revellers trying to dance - treacherous).
Now, I often crave solitude, just one weekend all to myself. I don't know what I would do, maybe sit and soak up the sound of the freezer whirring. Perhaps spend guilt-free time online. I'd look around all the charity shops, go to a cafe and read the paper.  I would eat a meal slowly, follow it with a cake I don't have to share. I'd paint my nails, pluck my eyebrows. Read, but end up feeling restless. Do you know what? I'm already bored just thinking about it. I only have myself to blame for ending up with a home bursting with noise, activity and chaos.
What would you do if you had a whole weekend to yourself? And those who can look back to the point I am now at in life - what advice do you have for me?


  1. Before I met Jon twenty years ago I often spent entire weekends in solitude, I lived alone and the majority of my friends were living away. On a Friday after a week of work I'd close the front door and often not utter a word to another soul until I returned to work on the Monday morning. I went on holidays alone, had no qualms about going to a pub alone or treating myself to lunch out.
    We chose not to have children and on infrequent days when he works away I like do some yoga, take a bus to an area I'm not familiar with, wander around the charity shops and eat lunch alone. I love to prepare food Jon's not keen on, a big veg stir fry with tofu or a chilli sin carne. I'll crack open a bottle of wine and embark on a crafty project and then I'll go to bed early and read.
    Hope you get some solitude soon. There's nothing like it. xxx

  2. argh! I just left a massive comment and it didnt save!!

    Basically having kids does kill a social life, i have noticed that a lot of my party pals have disappeared all of a sudden, its funny that when you have a baby you really do find out who are true friends. I also think it is because of them I was the only one married and now with baby. I dont miss it what so ever though, got it all out of my system before planning a baby.

    Me and hubby were lucky enough to have a year backpacking, we had no house or 'career' to tie us down so just went for it. We also had a crazy week in Ibiza just before we were married for a club-a-thon to really get the partying out. Im glad we did this as now we are both settled and more than happy to have a night in than hit the town (plus I now feel ancient in the pubs surrounded by 18 year olds eek!). Scarlett x

  3. Go to Cybermummy! Perhaps that sounds really crass to some people, but I wouldn't like to be stuck in the house on my own with no demanding kids for a weekend and just a long long list of jobs that need doing.... I'd love to escape completely into another world so something like the over-hyped Cybermummy conference would probably be perfect. After all I do like blogging x


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