Week four of the summer holidays and the weather has turned to wind, rain and heavy grey skies. This summer seems to have absolutely flown by in a blurry haze of toys, food, trips and shopping and the children haven’t sat still for a second. Am I failing as a parent by admitting that I’ve still to source a few items short of the September schooling as plimsoles, a cardigan and wellies continue to evade me. Thus far I’ve squirrelled away items as I come across them in her size, shape and colour but as every other parent in the area is equally as desperate to obtain the same items I’ve never managed to get everything at once as they sell out too fast and I’ve been waiting on ‘the next delivery’ endlessly. But isn’t it an adrenaline hit when you peruse a ransacked rail of clothing with the last one left in the size you desire and you seize and purchase before the woman beside you with eight children riding a trolley has the chance to pull them off of the wheel brace like monkeys climbing a cage and seize everything in sight.
As every mother knows, there are playground politics involved in the purchase of school-ready attire and the threads you choose for your little darling speaks volumes about you as a parent. From the scalloped detailling on a girls polo-shirt to the teflon finish on a permanently pleated skirt; heaven forbid your child’s lunchbox doesn’t coordinate or compliment that of their friends as colonies have failed from far less. So my tactics as I curiously and cautiously surf the rails of shiny shoes and glittery pencil cases with a single raised eyebrow is to aim for the most obvious choice and then go one better.
If a Peppa Pig lunchbox is £5.99 with a water bottle included then I’ll pay £7.00 for the Hello Kitty and an additional £4.00 for it’s matching bottle with another £3.00 for the lok-tight fruit tubs in neon pink. And why do I do this? Because the parenting guilt washes over me as the finger of judgement points it’s dirty nail directly onto my forehead when I reach the aisles of Back To School. If I were to choose the basics range I’d feel like Millie deserved more, as strawberries, world cheeses and the occasional bottle of vino frequent my weekly shop then cutting corners on school equipment would be criminal. Likewise with the run of the mill range, which everybody has, I know Millie wouldn’t feel special as there’s something rewarding about seeing a child’s face light up when another little person says to them “I like your lunchbox, I wish I had that!” as opposed to “Oh dear, you’ve copied Isabelle, she had it first!” So the only possible logic I can fathom from this insanely expensive and guilt-enducing task is to go all out and waste as much money as possible in the hope of pleasing your entirely oblivious child. Cost and appearance shouldn’t come into this at all, but everybody knows that it does. Should I have had six children I would undoubtedly get them all matching unisex basic supplies in order to tame the ranks and keep the bank manager happy for the greater good. But as a mother of two, despite school attire and equipment being ridiculously costly I fall into the guilt bracket and will spend the rest of the year balancing my purchases by teaching Millie that it’s the thought that counts. It’s the same as dieting, you spend all week punishing yourself over eating boring and tiny portions of food only to binge on chocolate and undo it all at the weekend. Hypocrite’s Anonymous here I come!
Millie made the most deliciously sweet, wonky and colourful fairy cakes that were like little puffs of heaven one sunny afternoon this week when we visited my parents. By far the most beautiful things in life are the times spent filled with love and giggles and I’m hoping by the end of this summer Millie will have perfected her baking skills to the extent of overtaking my sunken rock cakes so that she can bake for family birthdays instead of me. Hoorah!
Speaking of family birthdays, her big number six is vast approaching in just over one month’s time and I have no idea what to get her! She’s already feverously planning her birthday party with friends and family whilst pointing out every toy and advert that she passes daily followed by an angelic “Please, please, pleeeeease Mummy!” And within seconds my face looks as though I’ve been botoxed to hell and back as I try to calculate in my head exactly how I can cover all bases of a party, presents and decorations single handedly. Clearly the biggest change this year is the fact that I’m now a single parent, so my ability to cater for birthdays and special occasions is somewhat halved but the expectations are nonetheless higher than ever to cover the deficit. Fear not, I relish the chance to rise to a challenge and will nonetheless make Millie’s birthday a special day to remember, quite how I’ll achieve that right now I’m not entirely sure, but I have confidence in my ability to panic!
In a somewhat wasteful but completely necessary shopping trip once again this week, I purchased a leopard print pair of leggings, as you do. I’ve now managed to replace around 68% of my wardrobe following my new body shape and fortunately I now have enough newly fitting clothes to last me until the weekly wash goes on. It’s the simple things in life that matter.
I was in London again this week filming on a wet and windy morning, the underground was cramped and stuffy, wet umbrellas lined the doorways and a sense of annoyance and impatience hung on the faces of all around. As I hurried through the stations, jumping on and off of the cramped trains and racing down stairs I was stopped dead in my tracks as the monotonous loud speaker rang out apologising for the delay in service due to a ‘one under’ on the track, as somebody has lost their lives by falling under a train. And I felt sick and overwhelmed and heartbroken all at once. The rest of the world continued to push past and bodies weaved around me swallowing me up in the crowd as they carried on with their hurried morning commute I felt the most sickening feeling in my stomach; somebody had just lost their lives, under the ground on this miserable day amongst thousands of strangers and the world seemed completely unfazed. Somewhere in these tunnels life had just stopped, whether it was an accident or a choice I’ll never know, if they were unaware or petrified of their last moments alive I just couldn’t comprehend. And from the look of everybody rushing past and the man sat in an archway playing a guitar with a hat filled with coins before him I realised that I was possibly one of very few who had even acknowledged what had happened.
I hoped that there was somebody with them, so that they weren’t alone in their last moments. And I hoped that if they were still here in spirit that they could hear my prayer and thoughts. And as I started to walk again and continue my journey I pictured a sweet family starting their morning, eating breakfast, watching the news and preparing for the day ahead, their whole world about to be shattered by the impending phone call that would change their lives forever. Today a mother, father, daughter, son, friend, relative or acquaintance is gone from this earth forever, no tomorrow, no future, just gone.
It’s a stark reminder of just how short and precious life really is and how being thankful, grateful and deserving of this life we should all be. We have no guarantees in life other than the fact that we will all die some day, so we owe it to those who have passed before us to live life to the full and cherish every second. And as you’re reading this I’d like you to please say a prayer for the poor soul who passed over on this terrible day.
Driving home this evening I was greeted by a beautiful golden sky as the sun was slipping behind the trees and in just one day I’ve been reminded of the highs and lows of life. Without despair we would never appreciate hope and without sadness we would never feel joy. We all travel on a journey of discovery, our mistakes make us wiser and our misfortunes drive us to work harder. It doesn’t mean to say that the journey is ever easy or that each step we take is right, but it’s a lesson nonetheless and each one that comes before affects where we place the next.
I was pleased to see the Running Mat on Drangon’s Den this week as it’s a product that I really enjoyed reviewing and I wish them all the best with their journey after they received investment from the wonderful Deborah Meaden. Innovate, inspire and motivate!