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Thought for International Women’s Day

Since I wrote this last year, I left my husband, started a new career, focused on being mentally and physically healthy…Big changes. I took my own advice and as a result I feel morw than a year older, and wiser.

Rose Red

be the woman you want your daughter to become, inspirational quotes, thought for the day, international women's day My Thought for International Women’s Day

After all, Gandhi said ‘Be the Change You Want to See in the World’ and for the mother of an 11-year-old daughter this seems as good a place as any to start.

As my daughter gets older, she certainly isn’t listening to anything I tell her any more – but she is watching every move I make. Like a hawk. Having spent so long focusing my attention on her, becoming invisible as mothers can tend to do, the spotlight is suddenly on me.

What am I showing her? What does the example of my life teach her? As she grows into a woman herself, what paths does she see ahead of her?

The thought of being a role model makes me briefly toy with the idea of giving my daughter a ‘How Not To’ Guide, something along the lines of

horrible warning, setting a bad example, role model, quotes Quote from Catherine Aird

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Leaving Bullies Behind

It’s actually harder than you would imagine. Seeing my daughter in floods of tears because her entire friendship group had not only ostracised her, but were ensuring that nobody else would dare to speak to her, I made the decision to remove her from the situation. It had gone on for 3 weeks and showed no signs of abating, as more and more people were drawn into the argument. Children, as everyone knows, can be vicious, and none more so than 13-year-old girls. I witnessed the notorious social media networks of high school kids in action, as my daughter told me people she hardly knew were ‘popping up’ and telling her she was wrong.

She was afraid to walk around her home town. ‘Everybody’ hated her.

The school could not solve the problem, but far from acknowledging that they had failed, they suggested I refer her to the doctor for help with her anxiety. They were concerned it was a sign of mental health problems.

I let her stay at home, and away from the glares of other children her confidence returned. She could still see the outpourings of hate on social media – but she could turn it off, at least. I hired a maths and science tutor. I (sort of) home-schooled her. She read books and did maths and science homework from the tutor, and drove my parents mad being monosyllabic and staying in her pyjamas all day. (Luckily I happen to be in the middle of one of my many life crises and am living at home with my parents, so I was able to continue going to work knowing she was not alone).

As things began to seem calmer, I stopped panicking about moving to another city to escape it all. We decided to apply for a transfer to a nearby school. I’m an 80s child – it’s hard for me to conceive of how wide and far-reaching is the grapevine of the 21st century. I was shocked when people my daughter knew at the new school suddenly stopped speaking to her.

It turns out we were not to be allowed to go quietly. The children at the school she had left behind were outraged that she had dared to walk away from them. They were spitting venom all the way down the road to the new school, so that that too was poisoned for her. The advantage of going quietly (it seriously pissed them off, without even trying) was somewhat outweighed by the revenge they took. All of the nasty gossip and spite would follow her when she moved. I quickly changed my transfer request, to yet another school, now further away (too far to walk) and my resourceful daughter found friends there too, her social network being again wider and more far-reaching than I could have imagined at her age. When the bullies tried to turn these girls against her, too, it didn’t work.

We have a meeting with the headteacher tomorrow and after that we go shopping for new school uniform. My daughter has it on good authority that she must wear a certain brand of shoe and have a particular colour bag.

I know she’ll never blend into the background – my daughter can’t do that – but I am quietly optimistic about this move. Sometimes, you can just walk away…

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Still rubbish at organising things

About ten months ago, I wrote a post on ‘how to organise a meeting‘. Having reread this, I realise how far I have come in the world of admin work since then. I used to make a mess of very simple meeting arrangements; now I make a mess of complicated ones.

I have progressed from the mere booking of dates and rooms to the booking of buffets, timeslots, and even teleconferencing.

I always thought of myself as a ‘people person’, even though when I thought about it I realised that I found most people annoying and often wished I could fast forward their conversations to the interesting part, in the same way that I skim over the boring bits of books. Despite not being a sociable person , I was often identified as such due to my smiley, interested face, which people automatically (and very mistakenly) trusted.

Surely someone who nods and smiles that much will take a personal interest in ensuring that I get a vegetarian option, they might think. She looks like a vegetarian herself.

But they would be wrong. Behind the smile and trustworthy exterior is a woman with a memory like a sieve and no organisational skills whatsoever, who eats chickens without remorse. The first time I organised a meeting at which lunch was to be served, I completely omitted to order any food. While I sat in the meeting room explaining that a buffet would be arriving soon, my colleagues in the office ran around organising one.

Tension built in the meeting room as a group of hungry people clearly had no intention of starting the meeting without lunch. Conversation was a little tense. The group were beginning to realise how very unreliable I was.

‘I notice that you called me Dr in the last minutes, but actually I am a Mister,’ said one.

‘The last meeting Coordinator used to include a check-list with the meeting papers but I noticed that since you took over we don’t get that any more,’ said another, bitterly.

‘Will there be mince pies with the lunch? We were expecting mince pies,’ said another (it was December).

‘Excuse me a moment.’

I rang my colleague with an emergency request for mince pies. A tense hour later and a team of my fellow office workers arrived holding aloft plates of sandwiches. This mollified them more than my smiles and apologies. I was forgiven.

A month later, I had organised the next Committee meeting. There was a venue. There was lunch. There were…only half of the invitees?

There was the wrong address on the Agenda and invitations to the meeting.

Next month: I try my hand at a job to which I am better suited. Possibly knife juggling….

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Rose Red is Not Dead!

Rose Red is my alter ego, my fairy tale self. She wears rose-tinted glasses, sees the funny side of everything, and never swears. She lives with the Prince she married, because that is what fairy tale characters do.

This was the story I was telling. Unfortunately the Prince did not know his part. If he had a Beastly side, he was supposed to have lost it through his love for me, Rose Red. He wasn’t supposed to become more Beastly. He certainly wasn’t supposed to pour a can of beer over my head and order me to leave ‘his’ house*. Maybe I had not been Beautiful enough. As any sane person would do when faced with a solid 6-foot-5 of enraged, drunken husband, I beat a tactical retreat. To my mother’s house. It was not an action befitting a fairy tale, in which the solution to this would have been to love him all the more until he turned back into a Prince.

I didn’t believe in fairy tales any more. Love was not the answer to this problem. I thought that Rose Red had died, and along with her was buried all optimism, humour and clean speech. There was nothing left but work and sweary rants on facebook. They kept me sane (ish) and I definitely gained a lot of pleasure from my new spiky heels and power wardrobe, for the few weeks I kept up wearing it, but…well, of course I missed the Prince and the pieces of me that I had cut away.

Another 6 months passed. I met up with him for coffee. He’s neither Beast nor Prince any more; he’s somewhere in between, looking for his better self. I started to look for mine, and realised that Rose Red was not dead. Just because the Prince stopped being a prince, didn’t mean that I had to stop being Rose Red.

I’m here to continue writing my own fairytale, because life is still amusing and it gets more interesting after the happily ever after…

Thank you to Sarah who nominated me back in November for the ‘Sisterhood of World Bloggers’ award. I think it is too late to accept the award, but it put a smile on my face to be nominated although I haven’t posted anything for a while! Here is the link to Sarah’s blog, it’s worth a look.

*Disclaimer: I do not claim to be unbiased or un-selective in my representation of events. If you wish to read the Prince’s version of events, you will need to look at the Prince’s blog.

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How to get a teenager out of bed

As the mother of a wannabe teenager, I find that I am spending a lot of time talking to a door, like a slightly younger version of Shirley Valentine.

‘Hello, Door,’ I say to the white, panelled door which leads to my daughter’s lair ‘I come here often, don’t I?’

‘I’m getting up, just give me a minute,’ comes a voice from within.

‘You said that an hour ago,’ I start to push the door handle. She lets forth an outraged shriek

Don’t come in! I’m not dressed!’

I give up and say goodbye to Door, and daughter, who will eventually get out of bed I am sure.

I realise that I have bacon, eggs and mushrooms, and that it is Sunday. A memory of Sundays, pre-motherhood, wafts the scent of cooked bacon and eggs down the years, and I decide to make myself a full English breakfast.

As I sizzle bacon and cut mushrooms ready to tip into the pan, I wonder why I am feeling so put out by her lack of presence on a Sunday morning. I clearly remember myself 10 years ago, wearily patrolling around the park after an adventurous toddler, looking forward to the day when she would no longer bounce on my bed at 5am every morning; no longer need me to be three steps behind her at all times, ready to rescue her from danger. I imagined that I would then rediscover my Self, embrace her growing independence, alongside my own.

Yet as I tip the mushrooms into the pan, and start to poach an egg – just for me! – I realise that there is a toddler-shaped hole in my life. Even though I’ve had years to adjust to her not being a baby any more,returning to my pre-motherhood state is probably impossible. Even if she doesn’t need me to be three steps behind her, ready to protect her from danger, a part of me always will be (although it’s more of a metaphorical state; I can multi task, being there in spirit but bodily cooking myself a luxurious breakfast).

As the toast pops, the bacon is cooked to on and I spoon the poached egg onto my plate. I hear the thunder of t feet on the stairs and realise that I have hit upon a foolproof way to smoke a teenager out of bed.

‘Mmmmm, that looks nice,’ says my daughter, dressed in a onesie and looking like a giant toddler, throwing her arms around my neck. I look up at her. Sigh, and slide the cooked breakfast onto her plate.

‘I’ll join you in a minute. I’m just going to make myself some more.’

My husband is outside.