Archive for June, 2010


I wish I had a gift.  You know like those people who can paint, sing, play beautiful music or even do the splits.  I’d just like to have one thing I could do better than anyone else.  I suppose the people that go on the X Factor, or BGT think they have a special something – even if it’s only knitting.  I can’t think of anything I could say was a unique skill.

I am just average.  I loved art at school, I really enjoyed it and thought I was quite good, my paintings got put up on the wall at primary school. When I went to senior school there were loads of girls who were far better at it than me, who were really gifted at it. I just managed an average ‘O’ level.  Even though I went to grammar school, I just scraped through and so always felt I had to try and keep up with those who had passed their 11+ with flying colours. 

I loved writing and spent hours as a child writing and illustrating my own ‘books’. Then as an adult writing short stories and articles and papering the downstairs loo with the resulting rejection slips.

Another of the things I like to do is cooking, I’ve catered for events for friends and family and even our town’s mayor making ceremony and I’ve made birthday cakes for lots of people.  Then I look at other peoples’ that they post on their blogs and mine look pathetic.

Perhaps I would have had a gift for skiing, if I’d had the opportunity to do it as a child?  I thought I might have been a gifted rider, enjoying my weekly hour at the local riding stables, but my parents couldn’t afford to buy me a pony so I never really got the chance. I could have been a good actress, I loved being in plays and joined our local amateur dramatic and operatic groups, but there were no local drama schools near us and there was no way Mum & Dad could send me away to one.

This is why I think it’s so important to give our children as many opportunities as we can and encourage them where they show any skill or aptitude at something.  Too often though, it comes down to cost. When you have four children, there is a limit on your finances, as well as time, to let them all try something that they decide they hate after two weeks, or  after you’ve just bought the necessary kit.

I am very good at remembering phone numbers, I know all the ones we’ve ever had as well as all those of friends and family.  I don’t need them stored in the phone.  I can also recite all the registration plates of the cars we had , both my dad’s when I was a child and my husband’s since I got married. 

Even now, I still know all the words to songs that I sang at school including; “There was a man who had a wife, nickety nackety noo, noo, noo, She couldna’ bake and she couldna’ brew, nickety nackety noo, noo, noo!”   Perhaps that is my ‘gift’?!



I used to think of ‘time’ as a line with no particular beginning and stretching far away into the distance before disappearing into  misty clouds.  In my mind the days were marked with notches, Saturday and Sunday being taller notches, as there was no school on those days and more possibility for adventures. At weekends and during the school holidays we would leave the house early in the morning and not get back till tea time.  We made dens and paddled or swam in the river, we walked with the dogs just to see how far we could get in a day, sometimes experiencing the wrath of farmers whose fields we were crossing. 

Time seemed to be endless, waiting for Christmas or birthdays felt like an eternity, but as the only treats or presents we got were on these occasions, the anticipation made up for it.  Although I enjoyed school, sometimes waiting for the bell to ring during double maths or biology felt as if time had stood still.  Looking at my watch every minute willing it to be home time.

With all my pregnancies, time seemd to drag interminably, I couldn’t wait for the baby to be born. The due date would arrive and pass and each day after seemed as long as the previous nine months, ending up with being induced.  Next time, I would promise myself, I’ll wait for the baby to arrive naturally, but by 40 weeks I was climbing the walls.  Each day not knowing if this would be the day, was driving me mad and restless.

Once they were born I was impatient for them to achieve those milestones that we are led to believe are so important – especially with the first.  Would they ever talk, walk, sleep!  I was fuzzy with exhaustion and the days seemed even longer. Would tonight be the night I got more than 3 hours unbroken sleep? 

I couldn’t wait for them to be old enough to go to playgroup, so I could have some peace and quiet for a couple of hours.  I was keen for them to start school so I could have time for myself instead of endless repetetive games and reading and re-reading the same stories.

Time shuffled on then all at once the last child was 18, how did that happen? She moved out, following her three older brothers.  The nest was empty and the house quiet.  Now I have all the hours I want to myself, time is looming large and empty, weekends and weekdays are all the same and time is dragging again.  This time I know I should make the most of it, because before you know it, it’s gone altogether.

I wrote this for

Mother in law

Before I start, I would just like to say this is no criticism of my daughters in law, but a reflection on my behaviour with my own.  Of course I haven’t got a son-in-law yet, which must surely be the ultimate mother-in-law music hall joke!

It’s a fine line to tread, being a mother in law.  For one thing you become the butt of all those stereotypical jokes and you desperately don’t want to turn into that. But it’s not until you actually become one yourself that you know this.  I suddenly realised that all the times I’d moaned to my own mother-in-law about my husband, she must have really had to bite her tongue.  I was criticising her son, and in turn her. 

I have two daughters- in-law so far, and while they are far too well mannered to complain, obviously they have occasional niggles.  We joke about how their husbands have selective hearing, how they need to smarten up, drive too fast etc.  Then I think, hang on, this is my son you’re talking about, is it my fault?  Should I have done something more when they were younger? 

And then with a sinking feeling I remember all the whingeing I have done to my mother-in-law, telling her that her only son doesn’t help enough round the house, doesn’t take me out, never got up in the night with any of our four children, rarely made it to nativity plays, sport days or parents’ evenings.  I could cringe now thinking how she must have felt. 

This was her blue-eyed boy, the first born, the son she’d read stories to and bathed and played with and made her laugh.  The precious first grandson for her parents, the child they’d all been waiting for. And all I could do was moan that he never made the bed or wiped round the sink. 

Here was the boy that had passed his 11+, been the first in the family to go to university and held down a demanding job and I complained that he was never home.

Here was the man who supported me doing voluntary charity work while I sulked about not being able to afford to go out more. I’m sure my mother in law, like I am with my sons, is only too aware of their shortcomings and to have them pointed out is unnecessary.  After all it’s because of their mothers (and fathers) that they are who they are, and why we married them in the first place.  And they did choose beautiful, funny, clever and kind women as their wives!