The phenomenal woman and blogger Sonya has tagged me to answer some questions.

I have been poorly sick over Half Term so decided to take this tag to get my blogging mojo back a little.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I did used to enjoy dressing up as a nurse and injecting people.
Any ambitions to join the medical profession changed when I started watching Crown Court on the telly. At that point, I liked the idea of dressing up weirdly and mouthing off with everyone instructed to listen to me. A barrister was the life for me or so I thought and I intended to specialise in defending criminal cases overturning injustices.

At university, I obtained my law degree but got cynical that it all seemed to be about making rich people richer and powerful people even more powerful. That and the treatment of women by the legal system made me leave ideas of joining the legal profession behind.

I have made very few grown-up choices and my life shows that really so now I am hoping to become a published writer when I grow up. I would also like to work in a shop and have a fantasy of owning a floristry business.

How many children did you imagine you would have – and how many have you got?

I used to have a clear image of myself with three tall boys and a willowy girl. I ended up with two sons and a daughter called Willow. I keep expecting the other tall guy to turn up at some point to make sense of it all.

A palm reader also told me I would have 3 children.

Who or what inspired you to start blogging?

I think most people know this story. As I went slowly insane and miserable with the demands of parenting and the blight of post-natal depression, my Mum suggested that I should write even if I just kept a diary. She said this at about 4am on Boxing Day fuelled by Bell’s whisky. A few weeks later she told me she was terminally ill so for me blogging is the greatest gift she gave me and is in a way her legacy.

What’s your favourite blog post you’ve written?

It is impossible to pick one. My best in my view are those where I share openly and honesty, showing the warts off to good effect. I also like the ones where I analyse things and show that I do have quite a fierce brain still. I also love trying to remind people that we have so far to go in women getting a fair deal still.

What is your greatest achievement?

Being the first person from my school to ever get into Oxbridge.

Choosing the harder life option of charity work over the Law. I did make a difference to people along the way.

Putting myself back together after a relationship breakdown where I became aware that I too could be fooled and get things very wrong.

Keeping on keeping on through relocations, redundancies, infidelities, depression and isolation.

Reaching out to help others.

Surprising myself sometimes by walking on fire and travelling overseas on my own.

I am despite being fat and it seems quite possibly diabetic hoping the best is yet to come.

What is your biggest regret?

Allowing fear of rejection to hold me back way too much leading to me not taking risks in personal relationships and therefore ending up at 45 fundamentally friendless at least in the real world.

Not looking after myself physically or emotionally.

What makes you laugh?

Lots of things – word play, ancedotes, some comedians and I also have quite a ribald and black comedy all of my own. My children saying funny things and pulling funny faces.

What makes you angry?

How we are not on the streets saying it is wrong that so many women are battered in their own homes, attacked when they have the audacity to go out and generally treated like the proverbial.

In my home, I get angry that some power that be has decided it is my role to do most of the housework however rough I might be feeling and that I am too often silenced leading to me disappearing a little.

Do you ever break the rules and which ones do you break?

I break rules that Him Indoors sets because I think some of them make no sense and also that I should get a choice in things. Things like me having a blanket downstairs or a duvet if I am feeling in need of extra comfort.

I once submitted a funding bid when a boss said not to. Noticeably when the bid succeeded he accepted the money and the credit!

I question authority naturally so there will be more examples I am sure.

What are your top three books?

I don’t read as much as I would like.

The Hobbit has a special place in my heart always.

A book about New Zealand and a lighthouse by Keri Hulme called The Bone People because it was such a one-off and because I half-imagined the main character was myself and because it was a gift from someone special.

There are lots of others and I will go for gold and say the Bible as I find it times of crisis, it usually has something good to say.

It turns out I have done this all wrong and answered the wrong questions so I guess that goes to show that I break the rules often inadvertently.

I will now write a post based on the questions I was really asked.

Cuddle Fairy

I have set up an online support groups for mums to help us all make positive changes in our lives. It is time to seize the day, take baby steps if that is what we can manage and change our lives.

So what about me? What do I need to change?

1. We have had a bumpy ride over the last 16 months with my husband losing two jobs, a long period of unemployment and a big relocation from North to South. My son is missing his friends back home. My daughter did not settle in her new school. I think my husband’s ego has been very damaged by recent events too. As a family, we are feeling a bit battered and bruised I think. I know people have much bigger problems to confront but this is my space to say how I am feeling. I would really welcome a period where we don’t get hit by major hassles. I need to work on my marriage and my parenting but I also need to build myself back up again in order to do these things.

2. I don’t get out enough during the week which results in me being very isolated. This is going to change because once my son goes back to school, I am going to be out and about with my little girl. I could do with somebody to tweet me every day to ask if I have gone out of the door yet. It always makes me feel so much better.

3. I have a poor self-image. Weight has a lot to do with this as over the years I have come to terms with mad hair and vaguely weird looks. I have given up booze and I am cutting out red meat. I am going to eat more healthily and take more exercise. Again, I think having the company of my daughter will help with this.

4. I am going to spend less time watching the television. I think it can suck your energy away and is too easy to use as stimulation when you are stuck in the house.

Having said all this, I have made huge strides in recent years and I think have just got a bit off track after losing my Dad, the redundancies and the house move. I am angry at myself for that but maybe I need to ease up on myself and allow me to be human too.

So yes, dear reader, I need Striking Mums too and look forward to reporting back as to how I get on.

As I look back on this post, I am heartened to see that although the changes are major, there are very few of them to sort out. The future is bright!

I have always wanted a book on parenting. I know they exist but not in the form I would like. My perfect parenting book would say

On Friday 14th August 2006, you must wean your child.

On Wednesday 22nd April 2008, you can let your child walk to school on his/her own

If your child is not potty-trained by 2nd January 2000. you need to consult your GP.

Well you get the idea.

backtoschool

A couple of weeks ago I asked my 13 year old son if he needed anything in readiness for the back to school. Did his uniform still fit? It was bought relatively recently after we relocated. Was his bag still OK for him? And so on.

“Yes Mum”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes Mum”

Are you absolutely sure?

“Yes Mum”

Yesterday, I asked him to get his uniform out and ready. He did this with a bit of a grumble. I usually do this for him but am aware he is getting older and at some point presumably will leave home and need to know how to organise himself.

When his Dad returned from work, my son announced that he would have to go to the supermarket because his shirt and trousers did not fit. I insisted he showed up. He put them on in a strop and they fitted perfectly.

His Dad can no longer drop him off at school every day due to his commute to his new job. We gave our son a bus timetable. He has used the bus before sometimes but for some reason, seemed very unsure. So Him Indoors took my son out and showed him exactly where to catch the bus, where to get off and so on. He returned in a happier frame of mind.

His Dad taught him how to iron and he declared that is was actually quite good fun.

Today after two calls and one shake, he got up and ready. He looked so smart and grown up. I made him breakfast. I brushed his hair. I hugged him. I checked he was OK and had everything he needed.

He set off with me calling out for him to have a nice day and reminding him that I loved him. I could sense him saying “For goodness sake, Mother, go in. You are such an embarrassment”

He will be OK. Of course he will. And yet I love him and I still find it hard to let him go back to school sometimes.

If you do happen to see that book on parenting, let me know. The one with the specific dates. I would like to get this parenting thing right.

What are your thoughts and feelings as the children head back to school?

Today, I am wondering what is right when it comes to children playing out?

As a child, I was out and about climbing trees and playing with other local children. I tended to play with boys more than girls so there was a lot of cowboys but I could always come up with a female character to convince them to let me join in.

I remember the building site at the back of our house where I once wrapped myself in yellow insulation material pretending I was at a posh ball. Delusions of grandeur from a very young age!

As a parent, I have being a vigilant one trying to prevent my children getting hurt in any way. My first son was nearly ten when I let him go to the corner shop. I did this on instinct that I could not explain. It just felt right one day. Both he and his Dad were stunned I was allowing this sudden freedom.

My daughter turned 10 at the start of the month and pointed out that her brother was allowed out when nine years of age so why wasn’t I allowing her out? Well, it’s different with a girl, isn’t it? I hate that in myself but we know what threats there are out there to women and girls and she is my precious babe. How could I let her out and about?

Eventually I agreed that she could go with her brother to the fish and chip shop next door.

Having moved to a cul-de-sac, we were out the front when she walked up to a girl and made friends immediately. Lots of children including incredibly young ones play out here so I could hardly say no. My eight year old son saw this and expected the same treatment.

Surrounded by boxes and black bin liners after the move, I have not really had time to reflect as usual but have just decided to go with it. They are clearly enjoying themselves and becoming part of the community. They are getting fresh air and thankfully leaving their various gaming devices alone.

It’s a good thing and yet I hate not having them in my sight all the time. It’s so scary but I guess you have to let them go.

Tune in a few years when I have the door locked on a permanent basis so that they can’t leave home.

Not easy this parenting gig, is it?

Do you let your children play out and from what age?

What safety precautions do you put in place?

Children Playing Out - What Is The Right Age To Let Them?

It’s April Fool’s Day and I think I might be the fool.

I say this as I seem not to understand what is going on in this world right now.

Today, we are encouraged to eat 7 portions of fruit and vegetables per day so that we can all live longer. This is only a few minutes after we were told fruit is dangerous because of the sugar content. What is this obsession with living longer anyway? Our society is not currently equipped to deal in a way that meets the economic and social needs of an ageing population. Yet here we are are carrying out research studies into how to ensure we all live to the age of 200. If we do who is going to pay for us and who is going to care for us?

Then on social media and television programmes, women are making a big deal about not wearing make-up as if it is some brave feat. I do it all the time. I must be due a Pride of Britain Award any day based just on this fact. I won’t make myself popular by saying it but it worries me that some women seem quite so terrified at the idea of being seen in public as they really are. Who has given them that message? Whose purposes does it serve? By the way, I am no way saying it is not great to do things to raise money for charity but I just wonder on this particular campaign what it says about womankind.

The parenting police tell us every day how we are doing it all wrong giving conflicting guidance so we are guilt-ridden which I actually can’t think is good for our children. My parents smoking in the car was the very thing that turned me off trying cigarettes. Fattening goods and salt played a huge part in family food when I was a kid yet my parents both lived into their eighties. Guess what? We even had meals on our laps most of the time in front of the telly and yet we managed family conversation. Again, I am not saying smoking in cars is good – I am merely saying that life pans out and eventually ends whatever the research studies say.

It’s true I am an April Fool and actually if the world keeps going weird on me, I don’t want to live to 200 anyway.