Surviving Christmas (with marbles intacto)

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Deck The Halls

Christmas officially begins with putting the decorations up and it can be a joy or a pain depending on your disposition. Me? I love looking at them, especially the joy inducing fairy lights, but I totally stress myself out doing it and no, I couldn’t let anyone else do it because I need absolute control over where each sodding bauble goes! *twitch*

If you leave the decorating to your OH, you must try and look TOTALLY amazed when you walk in to their expectant face after they’ve been at it all day. A response like, ‘It’s alright, yeah’, will see you standing in A & E waiting to have a pointy bauble removed from your backside.

Note: OH should be able to sit down by New Year! 😀

Tangled Lights?

Shove them in a posh glass vase (fooling everybody into thinking it’s deliberate) and buy a new set for the tree.

Top Tip – save those cardboard boxes that Amazon books come in and use them to wrap the lights around when you’re done, innit!

Shopping

Do the lot online.

Stick your gifts in your virtual basket. *CLICK*

Place Order *CLICK*

Pay. *CLICK*

Then wait for the post-person to stick a card through the letterbox because you weren’t in when they tried to deliver them. :/

Food Shopping

See above.

Veg out on the sofa watching Love Actually and imagine our beloved PM dancing about to Jump in Number 10 while your shopping gets delivered to the front door. No being rammed in the ankles by little old ladies on a mission to reach that last packet of stuffing and NO WONKY TROLLEYS!

Awkward Teenagers

Its-so-Unfair

Sod em.

Threaten them with a satsuma and a sugar pig if they utter the words ‘IT’S SO UNFAIR’ or ‘YOU’VE RUINED MY LIFE!’ anytime in December. Yours truly woke up Christmas Day 1984 to no presents AT ALL due to an attitude malfunction the day before. I didn’t even get the satsuma! True story, kids.

Neighbours

Not the Aussie soap.

A BBQ at Christmas? *shakes head*

No, I refer to those people who live next door – the neighbours.

Remember to send them a card, including the miserable gits who’ve missed you out for the last two years. Pick the shittest card from an assortment pack and stick it through their letter box!

TV

Anything on Gold is apt for Christmas, it was good enough for Jesus, right?

Plenty of festive comedy around so kick off your reindeer slippers and have a good laugh at other people’s nightmare Christmases. Ha ha!

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Don’t Know If Reindeer Can Fly But They Keep My Feet Warm!

The In-laws

Who hasn’t fantasized about spending Christmas alone in a cosy log cabin somewhere remote and inaccessible by car? However, the reality is that you will probably be entertaining your parents, OH’s parents or both at the same time.

Here’s my tip..

Alcohol is your friend.

Before the MIL rocks up in her faux fur reeking of Estee Lauder – have a pint of something 40% proof and tell yourself it will soon be Boxing Day. Stick a large brandy in her hand as soon as her coat’s off and let the old girl reminisce about ‘the good old days’ while you manically stab some carrots. She’ll most likely be asleep with her gob open by the Queen’s speech – leaving the kids free to try out their new felt-tips on her face.

Have to say that my MIL was nothing like this. She was the sleeves up and muck in type of lady, Bless ‘er.

Music

I love Christmas music, apart from Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody which I now despise due to having heard it every year since 1973.

‘IT’S CHRISSSSSSSSTTTTMAAAAAAASSS’

Oh sod off, Noddy!

However, I never tire of listening to Wham’s Last Christmas…

I was 14 when it was first released, back in the day when George had fabulous hair and I, along with millions of others, wished his girlfriend in the video would be flattened by an avalanche. Sadly, George’s hair is long gone now along with any illusions of me being Mrs Michael.

Gifts

Keep the receipts but disown anybody who asks if you’ve kept the one for their gift. Ungrateful gits! *snorts*

Gift – Oh My God – No’s!

Thongs (menopausal women in particular)

Any man who buys his menopausal OH a thong needs to have a word with himself. Stylish but practical is what the hormonally challenged woman needs – not a piece of bunting strung across her lady-garden with what feels like cheese wire up the bum!

I’d avoid buying underwear altogether, chaps. Stick to perfume and hope it doesn’t smell like fox piss when she has a hot flush!

Other Crap Gifts

Ped Egg = Potential nooky ban for life.

Tash removal kit (women) = Grounds for divorce?

Cliff Richard calendar (anybody) = Not even your Nan!

Anything from the petrol station = Your Christmas dinner’s in the dog!!

Anything from Ann Summers = Will potentially be opened in front of the entire family…

Christmas Fayre

Watch Nigella waxing orgasmic over her stuffing for inspiration but the reality is that it will go horribly wrong on the day because you’re pissed but the good news is most everybody else will be pissed as well so they won’t notice that your pigs don’t have blankets or the pudding isn’t quite defrosted.

Stress Relief

Book yourself in for a pre-Christmas lobotomy or failing that – keep something alcoholic in for medicinal purposes.

The perfect Christmas really doesn’t exist and trying to achieve it will see you in a secure unit by December the 27th so save yourself the stress. If, like me, you become overwhelmed pretty quickly then step away from it.

Sod the cards.

Sod the wrapping.

SOD EVERYTHING!!

Load the best Christmas film ever into the DVD machine – put your feet up and relax with a comforting mug of hot chocolate and let Uncle Frank Capra fill your heart with joy and remind you of how wonderful life can be.

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Merry Christmas.

Love, Mummyshambles x

 

Image Credit Kevin Dooley

A Bit Of Everything

 

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Love and Marriage

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“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

On Christmas Day 2013, OH went all emotional on me and asked me to marry him. I watched him wavering about on one knee and briefly wondered if Alan Titchmarsh was going to burst through the door, trowel in hand, shouting, ‘DOOANT MARRY ‘IM, CUM WI’ UZ LASS!’

This did not happen.

So I said, ‘Yeah, go on then’.

The plan was to remain engaged for a few years but then we came to do our wills earlier this year and found out that we’d have to pay again once we got married so I said ‘Sod THAT for a game of conkers, matey, we’ll do it now.’

So here I am, about to dip my toe in the marital pool for the second time but, to be honest, I feel a bit of a tit getting married at 45 years of age because I’m menopausal. I AM WITHOUT OESTROGEN, for God’s sake!

Me and OH have opted for a registry office wedding and as weddings go, it’s low key. Any lower and we’d be having it in McDonald’s. Even so, I’ve allowed myself a few bridal treats..

~The Dress~

Having been around the block more times than my old Yaris, I decided to leave the virginal white for ladies with, er, less miles on the clock.

So, in the absence of my mum, I dragged a reluctant OH into town and after ten minutes of effing and blinding trying to prise myself into a selection of dresses, I settled on my fourth choice which was a black and cream number. It’s floaty, stylish and more importantly, it disguises my mammoth rear-end and tree-trunk thighs. The downside is that it’s sleeveless and despite going all out with the dumbbells over the last few months.. my triceps are still refusing to come out from behind the flab, dammit!

~ The Coiffure ~

I’ve had my roots done and I’ll be in for a wash & blow job on the day of the wedding. No ‘up do’s. No tiaras. No frills. Simples and therefore, cheap.

~ Make-Up~

I’m doing my own, people. I’ve seen what passes for make-up trends these days and I don’t want OH thinking he’s marrying Lily Savage!

The only change to my usual make-up regime will be some waterproof mascara for when the tears start (when we have to PAY THE BILL) and some lipstick – menopausal red, to match my cheeks!

However, I have booked a lady to come and spray-tan me a few days before the wedding. This is because I have legs with varicose veins on them and it looks like I’ve slept on a road atlas, innit. I’ve never had a spray tan done professionally before and my own pathetic attempts at tanning have resulted in zebra style striping and fingers that look like I’m on 60 B&H a day. I’m hoping for ‘natural glow’ as opposed to looking like I’ve been creosoted. Fingers crossed!

~Shoes~

Black. Nuff said?

~Bag~

Has to be big enough to hold: mobile phone, wet-wipes, plasters, tissues, lipstick, pit spray, brush, Rescue Remedy, Tena pads, emergency bog roll and S’ paraphernalia including Kindle, Nintendo DS, headphones, cuddly toy, snacks, drinks, Lego *pauses for breath*

Do they do holdalls in black suede?

~ Flowers ‘n’ Stuff ~

Originally, I wasn’t going to bother with flowers. Then I decided to have a posy made up for me and a buttonhole for OH. My posy will go on mum and dad’s grave and OH’s buttonhole, on his mum’s. I feel sad that they can’t be here to celebrate our special day but I know they will be with us in spirit.

What the day lacks in pomp and ceremony, I hope it will more than make up for with fun and laughter because that’s what I want to remember when I look back on the day. Hopefully nobody gets mullered and ends up in the pool minus their Speedo’s but seeing as I can only manage a pint without falling into a coma these days (and I can’t swim) I can rest easy that at least it won’t be me.

It’s been hard not having my mum here to help me plan things. I miss her beyond words. I miss them both, so much.

Life can be a heartless bitch at times but it’s what we make of the rest of it that matters. I’m here because my parents loved each other and the best way that I can honour them on my wedding day is to enjoy it and make some happy memories. It’s what they’d want. It’s what any parent would want for their child, no matter how old they are.

~ Words of Thanks ~

Ma would be happy to know that I’ve made some wonderful friends including some amazing online ones and a few in ‘real life’. One friend is making our wedding cake as a gift. Another has offered to mind S for a few hours if it gets too much for him and we have been given the most beautiful picture as a gift from a lady who I’ve never met but feel like I’ve always known. I’ll treasure it, always.

Finally, I’d like to thank my long suffering OH who still wants to marry me, despite having more than than enough evidence to have me put away in a secure psychiatric unit. Not many men would put up with my shit but he does a magnificent job of tolerating me. Hopefully we’ll reach a fine old age without one of us having put the other under the patio but I’ve measured it up, just in case.

Of course I’m KIDDING!

Or am I?

To be continued….

Image Credit by Jo Christian Oterhals Via Creative Commons

mumturnedmom

Confessions of a School Caretaker

All I ever wanted to be was a wife and a mother. Call me old fashioned but I totally bought into the whole ‘homemaker’ vibe. However, fate had other ideas and when my then husband became ill. I had no choice but to work part-time to makes ends meet. One of my jobs was a school caretaker. Yes, school caretaker! Not all school caretakers look like Argus Filch!

Some are 5ft 1″, brunette and wear Reeboks..

The school was purpose built in 1939, just before the second world war broke out. The Anderson shelter wasn’t dismantled and filled in until the 1980’s. That’s one of the things I loved about the place, it’s history.

When I started working there in 1995, it had hardly changed at all since it was built. Part of my job was to maintain an ambient room temperature which is sort of impossible when you have menopausal staff who are shivering one minute and flinging off their cardies the next. Nightmare!

Although most of my work was mostly done around school hours, sometimes I’d nip down to do some gardening and it was a joy to listen to the children singing nursery rhymes. It was hard to believe that one day those little angels would become moody, acne-ridden, angst filled arse-holes, like I was.

The downside to the job was having to deal with vandalism..

Each Monday morning I’d apprehensively open the gate and hope that the local louts hadn’t been up to their usual tricks of kicking in fence panels, or worse, smashing in windows. Once, I found an old mattress and some used condoms behind the shed. The. Dirty. Bastards.

Shagging someone on a stained mattress in the grounds of a nursery school?

Classy, no?

The empty cans of Tesco Value lager gave some clue as to the level of ‘chav’ I was dealing with. That said, at least they were using condoms so I suppose there was some degree of intelligence in there.. After a minute of intense effing, I snapped on several pairs of Marigolds, scooped up the offending ‘joy bags’ with a shovel and marched across the playground in the direction of the bins. As soon as I got home, I plunged my hands in disinfectant. The council came and carted away the mattress of shame and we planted the area with prickly shrubs as a shag deterrent. Only a complete idiot would risk puncturing his clackers on that lot!

My strangest find were some photographs of a lady that I found scattered over the grass one morning. I couldn’t go around the neighbouring houses knocking on doors asking who they belonged to cus, well, they were a bit saucy, innit!

I decided to take advice from the head teacher, who almost choked on her Polo mint when she saw the lady resplendent in her suspenders and DD peep-hole bra. She concluded that it was best to deny all knowledge of them and fed them through the shredder. Sorted.

One of the cutest moments was when I was changing the paper towels in the toilets and one cute little boy held out his painting to me and said. ‘Hold this, Mrs lady, I’m going for a poo!’ Just wonderful.

Originally, the school had three intakes of forty children a year but nursery classes being opened within nearby primary schools meant that numbers started to dwindle. The council took the decision to close the school when the intake dropped to 25 saying that it was no longer financially viable. Despite a petition put forward from thousands of people, many of whom had attended the school themselves, the council pressed ahead with it’s plans to close and on a summer’s day in July 2005, after 66 happy years, the nursery closed.

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Happy memories of the nursery at Christmas circa 1940’s

During the big ‘clear out’ the head called me into her office and showed me some of the log books she’d found from during the war. Everything was written down. The nit nurse was mentioned a LOT. But one entry stood out to me the most. It simply said, ‘The children had their tea in the air raid shelter’. Imagine that?

I felt emotional as I stood looking round the empty building on that last day. A building which for so many years had been full of life and laughter. The walls, once adorned with paint (and dried pasta), were now stripped bare and there was an echo to the room that only comes with emptiness.

As I walked through each room, I could hear children’s voices (not literally, I’m not that bonkers, yet) I could hear their squeals of joy as they sped around on the trikes and the ear-piercing shrieks as they shoved each other over on the playground. I heard the rumble of the prams and the shrill sound of the teacher’s whistle. I saw C running with his egg and spoon on sports day looking as camp as a row of tents with his floppy wrist. I saw K, sat there with a tea-towel on his head, picking his nose through the ENTIRE nativity play!

Good memories..

I was a good caretaker. I was proud of what I’d achieved and having a touch of OCD came in especially handy when it came to locking up. There were no unlocked doors or windows on MY watch, ever!

However, it did take me about an hour to do my checks and re-checks…

With a heavy heart, I closed the gate for the last time and I allowed myself one last look before another chapter in my life closed.

I doubt that I will ever find a job like that. I loved every second of it. Going to work in the morning was never a chore. I loved the building. I loved the people I worked with. I loved how I ended up on the annual school tea-towel, standing there with my tiny broom and enormous arms poking out of my head..

The building sat empty for quite a while. The privets became overgrown and the cherry blossom leaves blew around because I wasn’t there to pick them up. It was sad to see. Then one day I noticed that the privets had been cut and a shiny new sign was in place of our old one. It had been bought as a private day nursery! I TOTALLY love that the building still knows the sound of children’s laughter. A new chapter in it’s life and long may it continue…I am proud to be part of it’s history.

A pity they let the old punishments die. Was a time detention would find you hanging by your thumbs in the dungeons. God, I miss the screaming ~ Argus Filch ~ Miserable git caretaker in Harry Potter

mumturnedmom

The Great Escape

Garden Spid (531x800)blogIt’s commonly known that the only fears we are born with are the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. Any other phobia is learned..

My phobia of spiders can’t have been learned from my parents as neither were afraid of them. However, I do remember my brother screaming like a girl at a 1D concert at the sight of the teeniest one on his bedroom wall. So I’ll blame him.

My earliest memory is when I felt one crawling around in my nightie. Long story short, I screamed the place down, Ma bowled in and mashed it into the carpet. Hello, phobia!

Every time I screamed at the sight of a spider, Ma would storm in, grab it with a piece of bog roll and fling it down the toilet. With each flush, I felt a pang of guilt that it’s life had been ended because of my irrational fear. Dad used to liberate them back into the garden. I preferred his way to ma’s gung-ho approach. Spray it. Swot it. Annihilate it. That was Ma’s motto.

Rumour had it that she’d had a bit of an unfavourable experience with an Alsatian once and it made her intolerant to anything with more than two legs. Also, she couldn’t be arsed coaxing insects into glasses when Corrie was about to come on. No live pause in those days!

But karma’s a bitch because one summers day, Ma had been gardening and she’d kicked her slippers off in the garage. Task completed, she went to put a slipper back on and was stung on the toe by a startled bee who’d crawled inside. We heard her shout ‘YOU LITTLE SOD!!’ (which instantly put us kids on the defensive) and then she went all Chuck Norris on it with the other slipper. Ma would have had a shit load of apologising to do before she got to go through those heavenly gates!

But THE incident which still leaves me cold is this..

Tarantulas first came into my life in 1987 when ex-hubs bought one after his father had died. Despite being phobic, I didn’t have the heart to argue. Sadly, after a few years of trying to cope (and the knowledge that females can live for 25 years) my anxiety got the better of me and hub’s brother adopted her.

Fast forward to 2007 where, in a cruel twist of fate, I discovered that the new man in my life had four of the bastards In his BEDROOM!

I had a choice. I could either put as much distance between him and his crawlies as possible or I could try to conquer this phobia once and for all.

Again, I tried but despite my best efforts, the anxieties crept in and the paranoia of one of them escaping and suffocating me in my sleep terrified me. Obviously I wasn’t the spider’s biggest fan but it was a sad day when I saw that one had joined the choir invisible. There was no chance of me putting my hand in and fishing it out but I did feel a twang of sadness that this little creature had died.

We lost another after we moved house. The shock of being carted about may have proved too much for it or maybe it was a male who had simply come to the end of his life as they have a significantly shorter life span compared to females. My bet was the years of trauma on having to see OH’s arse peeking out from under the duvet had finally seen it off.

By the time we had little man we were down to two spiders, in tanks, still in the bedroom. I piled books onto the lids to thwart any attempts at escape and slept with one eye open. All was well. As well as it can be in a room with f**king arachnids, that is!

Except that OH didn’t quite close the lid properly one night and I woke up to the sight of a couple of tarantula legs doing the can-can through the smallest of gaps. I was rendered motionless with fear. My WORST nightmare was coming true…

It was ESCAPING!!! (one more ! for emphasis)

Before long, there were SIX legs poking out and I broke all kinds of world records getting out of bed. I grabbed a sleeping S out of his cot and on last glance before slamming the door shut, the cheeky sod was legging it along the bookcase!

Hysteria kicked in and I kept slapping my face to make sure I hadn’t actually died and this was my personal hell brought on by my years of snitching it’s family members up to Ma. I was on my own, with a baby, and OH was stuck in a meeting miles away so I phoned the only other spider appreciator that I knew.. ex hubs!

The spider was now at large in the bedroom but ex-hubs strode in there like Bear Grylls. Granted, he almost trod on him as he was the same shade as the carpet, but he captured him and bunged him back in his tank. For this, I am eternally grateful for him and his lovely partner for coming to my rescue.

OH got the bollocking of his life when he got back home..

I named the spider, ‘Cooler King’ after Steve McQueen’s character in the Great Escape because, as escapes go, it’s up there with the best.

I don’t know if it was the excitement of the escape or the shock of coming into direct contact with OH’s dirty undies but Cooler King didn’t live much longer before scuttling off into the big ol’ web in the sky. The ultimate escape, bless ‘im.

Having faced my worst nightmare (sort of) I’m not as scared of them as I was but I’d probably still die if one dropped onto my face. Not to mention the dreams I occasionally have of spiders escaping from tanks…

Hopefully, this post wont give YOU nightmares!

mumturnedmom

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now..

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I was crap at PE. Not only was I crap at it but I hated it as well. I hated everything about it down to those horrible scratchy pants we had to wear. Having been blessed with the coordination of Frank Gallagher after a few hours in the Jockey, it’s safe to say that sports were NOT my forte!

This post sums up my sporting achievements and woes (mostly woes) throughout my school life.

~ Infants ~

Lets face it, It’s OK to be crap at PE when you’re five.

Gymnastics – Once a week we went down the local drill hall to do gymnastics. The smell of feet was overwhelming along with the whiff of sick where someone had vommed up their Spam fritter after doing a forward roll. Ma bought me a black leotard, which I spent a lot of time extracting from up my bum! My one and only BAGA award was for a near perfect bridge. Er, go me!

~ Juniors ~

The ante was upped in the juniors. Suddenly sport got serious and we were placed into houses, like in Harry Potter, only, shit. I was in yellow house, so in Potter world that would be Hufflepuff..

Rounders – The rounders kit came out and we were picked in teams. Fully expecting to be crap at it, I amazed myself by not being totally crap.

For every few miss-hits, the bat would connect with the ball and I would wallop it across the road. I even managed to win my team a game or two which ensured me being picked by choice the following week instead of being picked last, which was the norm for me.

Things were relatively bearable until we moved across the other side of the city. It was a new house, new school, new people and I was a walking mood, having just started my periods. The new school was big on sports. It had a massive brag cabinet chock-a-block with trophies and row upon row of team photographs (with some hilarious hairstyles) taken over the years.

Dance – All legwarmers and leotards with a really annoying teacher who fancied herself as Lydia (the dance teacher) from Fame. We didn’t pay ‘with sweat’, we paid with detention! She soon realised that I looked shite in a leotard and was about as coordinated as a fly after it’s been blasted with Raid.

Hockey – I knocked a girl’s tooth out the first time I played.

Javelin – I gave myself a nasty clout round the back of the head first throw and nearly impaled one of the teachers with the second.

High Jump – Spent more time face-planting the safety mat than I did in the air.

Long Jump –  First (and only) attempt required first aid.

Hurdles – After knocking them all down (and bleeding all over the PE instructor) it was decided that my talents did not lie in hurdling.

Shot-putt – Hand to eye coordination issues nearly rendered a fellow pupil unconscious.

100 Metre Sprint  –  Feeling thoroughly dejected by this point, I found myself back on the track (plasters on both knees) with the PE teacher (lets call him Teach for simplicity) shouting ‘For crying out loud, just run when you hear the bang, OK?!!’

Teach fired the starter gun and I ran like Ma had just caught me with one of her fags. Seconds later I was rolling around on the ground trying to get my breath back (I genuinely thought I was dying) when he sprinted over in his obscenely tight tracksuit bottoms and slapped me on the back saying. ‘1st place! You’re in the athletics team!’

I momentarily basked in the glory of actually winning something. But as Mozzer from The Smiths so eloquently puts it…

I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour But heaven knows I’m miserable now

Because within a short time, I found myself racked with anxiety as I was loaded onto a bus on route to the local athletics stadium to run for my town and county.

I didn’t want to be in the athletics team, truth be told. I was agoraphobic even then and the thought of running in front of hundreds of people had me dry heaving for weeks before the events. In his infinite wisdom, Teach put me down for the 4 times 100 metre relay race as well as the 100 metre sprint because, well, he was a bit of a twat. I was still having baton issues in the practice runs before the race. Hadn’t I already proved that I was rubbish at relay?

In the event, it was a fumbled baton exchange. On seeing my team-mate sprinting towards me (all red faced and jowly) I assumed the position, stuck my arse out and prayed that I wouldn’t drop the sodding thing. Somehow I managed to keep hold of it and pass it on to my teammate. I think we came fourth and I can’t remember where I came in the 100 metre but it’s safe to say I didn’t win or even come a close second. Teach (NOT a happy bunny) was sulking away in his X rated track suit.

The euphoria of my sports day win had turned to a misery worthy of a Smiths song. Here was something that I was genuinely good at but my useless brain wouldn’t allow me to take it further without sending my anxiety levels through the roof. So I gave up.

It isn’t just about confidence. It’s about having a brain that doesn’t cope well under pressure. All my life, this is how it’s been. Maybe if I’d have persevered I would have found a way to cope? But the truth is that I didn’t even enjoy running because I was self-conscious of my Brad Pitts and the fact that I wasn’t allowed to run in my cardi.

High School

My sports life consisted of a series of excuse me notes (thanks to Ma), a near drowning incident, a nervous twitch every time I heard a starter pistol and a phobia of batons for life.

Nuff said?

Creative Commons Photo Credit ~ ‘Pete’

mumturnedmom

You Want To Put That Camera Up My What?

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I saw the gastroenterologist on Monday and gave him my list of symptoms that I’d typed up via a Word document. Mr Gastro was most impressed with my graphic descriptions. “Well described!”, he said. I preened a bit.

‘Are you thinking cancer?’, he asked. I answered truthfully, ‘Yes!’.

Mr Gastro then ordered a colonoscopy.

At the mere mention of the word, my bum cheeks involuntarily clenched and my bum-hole snapped shut faster than a Venus Flytrap. You see, I’d consulted Dr Google a few (hundred) times leading up to the appointment so I knew exactly what it entailed.

Mr Gastro told me that he doesn’t think it’s cancer. I told him that while I appreciated that he was trying to put my mind at ease..both my parents had cancer. Dad’s being the aggressive kind which saw him trundling along the conveyor belt in the crematorium within six months of being diagnosed.

He didn’t try and fob me off with IBS. In fact, he never mentioned it. He thinks my symptoms require a closer look and by closer look, it means shoving a camera up my bum.

He proceeded to tell me what he thinks it is. Which is that my bum and stomach are ‘not communicating with each other. Typical, even my insides have social interaction issues!

At this point he told the nurse to make it a combined colonoscopy and gastroscopy. Basically, a camera up the chuff and one down the throat in the same appointment, folks.

If the tests come back clear, he will refer me to a specialist to sort out the ‘communication’ problems.

So I’ve been issued with some preparation (stuff what gives you the shits) and I have to wait a decade for an appointment to come through, as there is apparently a huge waiting list. I’ll probably die of old age before I get one. Or the Tories will have killed off the NHS in which case, I’ll have to flog a kidney to sort my bowels out.

In the meantime, I am tormenting myself with the gloom and doom from off the net…

Colonoscopies aren’t the most pleasant (or dignified) of procedures. You have to eat a special diet two days before the test and then you drink the preparation and wait for the world to fall out of your backside. Not looking forward to that, truth be told, but at least I’ll briefly be able to get into those skinny jeans I bought in a moment of denial last year.

No doubt I’ll be made to wear one of those ridiculous gowns that make you look like a complete twonk. Incidentally, I put one on the wrong way for a gynae examination and ended up flashing my minnie to a corridor full of old people. The nurse frog marched me back into the cubicle before one of them had a coronary.

To say I’m anxious is an understatement of massive proportions. They’ll be no need for that preparation because I’ll have shit myself dry with worry by then.

I’ve had procedures done before. I’ve been under GA twice and had umpteen people poking around in my insides. I’ve had an emergency C section and given birth TWICE, all without fear but now I’m a wimp and I blame the menopause because when my oestrogen buggered off, so did my bottle!

A colonoscopy involves a thin flexible tube being coaxed around the bowel. It allows them to see what’s what and you can watch it on the monitor if you wish…

Er, no ta.

I’d rather watch the box set of Geordie Shore, without sedation.

It can find ulcers, polyps, inflammation and tumors. It is the most effective way to diagnose cancer of the bowel.

My Googling sessions have advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages are the numerous people who say ‘Colonoscopy? Walk in the park! Didn’t even know they’d been in!’ He he.

The disadvantages are the people who, for whatever reason, have had the experience from hell and feel the need to put the fear of God into everybody else.

There will always be these stories, not just to do with Colonoscopies, but with most things. There are risks with this procedure but there are risks with all procedures. My dad’s misdiagnosis’s shook my faith in doctors but maybe I should focus instead on the fact that they probably saved the life of my youngest son who had to be born via emergency C section because I was bleeding internally, my eldest who had a testicular torsion and my middle son who was hospitalised as a baby with gastroenteritis. Mum’s cancer was caught early. My dad was extremely unlucky but I do have more to be thankful for than not.

I rationalise that given my symptoms, it’s probably wise to go through with it. Chances are it’s not anything sinister but leaving it to chance isn’t a risk I should be taking given my family history.

So I have to find a way to keep myself relatively calm over the next few months until it’s all over. My coping mechanism is to find the humour in the situation. Tell a few crap jokes. (ha ha) Also, I make no apologies for talking about matters of the arse because I think that we don’t talk about it enough. We get embarrassed about bum stuff and that costs time and ultimately, lives.

If you haven’t already guessed, I’m bricking it, and I’ll probably have talked myself out of doing it by the time the appointment comes. So I need people to tell me to stop being such a silly cow about it.

I’ll tell myself it will all be OK. I’ll wear the silly pants and try not to die of embarrassment when the air that’s been pumped into my bowels explodes in the consultant’s face. Another perk..

When I saw Sara’s (Mumturnedmom) prompt was calm, it reminded me that I must try to be as calm as possible or I’ll end up running out of the hospital still wearing my paper pants and flashers gown.

Going for an Eartha Kitt ~ Jim Royle

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What Not To Buy The Menopausal Woman This Christmas

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In the spirit of the season, I am imparting my menopausal wisdom onto the male of the species so that they may not only survive Christmas, but gain valuable brownie points by not buying something totally crap for their hormonally challenged other half.

If your significant other is going through the *whispers* change of life, then read on, this post is for you.

If she isn’t at this stage of life yet, read for future reference. You’ll thank me!

Jewellery

Steer clear of chokers if, like me, your beloved has acquired an extra chin. Or two.

Lingerie

Us women know how you men love to wander through the lingerie department on Christmas Eve. It adds a little frisson of excitement with the added bonus that you just might get your leg over this festive season if we neck down enough mulled wine. It is Christmas, after all!

Reality check..

The skimpy bits of string modelled by anorexic looking dummies will most likely not translate as well onto your other half’s posterior. Thongs (bum floss) should only be worn by those with a functioning bladder.

Perfume

You’ll still be in an hypnotic trance brought on by the sight of all those bras and knickers as you stray into the land of the orange people (the beauty section) whilst looking for the exit. The combined scents of the perfume section are just about to put you in a coma when you have a brainwave…

“I know, I’ll buy the light of my life her favorite perfume – the delicate floral one she’s worn for the last thirty years”

Alas, due to hormonal changes, that perfume now smells like fox piss and will continue to do so until her hormones settle down again.

Cautionary note…

My dad bought my mother some Tweed when she was going through the menopause in the 1980’s. I now associate that smell with flying plates and slamming doors. I get flashbacks whenever I smell it.

Anti-Ageing Products

In the name of all that is Holy, DO NOT buy the menopausal lady anti-ageing make up or skincare products. You might as well write “Merry Christmas, you old crone!” on the gift tag.

We all buy it but you’re not supposed to know that. It’s our little secret.

Body Hair Removal Appliances

My OH asked me if I would like an “all singing, all dancing” body hair removal thingy for Christmas. I replied, “Yes dear, if you don’t mind spending the day at A&E having it surgically removed FROM YOUR ARSE!!!”

We might be turning into Sasquatch at an alarming rate but we deal with this in the beauty salon (if posh) or the bathroom with a Bic (if not). It’s our secret.

However, it is perfectly acceptable for women to buy their middle-aged OH’s nose and ear hair trimmers…

Stuff what requires AA batteries (or a small generator)

As you wander up the high street clutching a carrier bag containing naff slippers and a bath bomb, you spot a well known British multinational retailer company specialising in sex toys and lingerie, and think, “Ah ha!, I will buy my sweetie pie a little something to ‘blow out the cobwebs’ as it were.

Problem is that, being a bloke, you’re bound to buy something totally inappropriately sized for a woman who’s squeezed out babies the size of, er, Wales. So your ‘purse’ sized one will pail into insignificance compared to the seven inch bad boy she’s got stuffed in an old boot at the back of the wardrobe.

Get out of there, now!

No, don’t stop to look at the French maids outfit! (or the pretty girl serving behind the till) Your good lady is hormonal (bordering on psychotic) and more likely to strangle you with it than flick a feather duster around in it.

Kitchen Knives

Not a good idea for a woman who’s bang out of oestrogen to be honest…

Anything from Poundland

No.

Books

Steer clear of murder mysteries – don’t want to be giving her any tips.

Petrol Station Goods

Rest assured, if Schnookums rips open the wrapping paper on Christmas morning to find an ice scraper and a Magic Tree (or cheap equivalent) you’ll die.

A Onesie

In my opinion, the onesie is the worst fashion crime since the shell suit.

Hot sweats, malfunctioning bladders and general insanity make the onesie a no go area for menopausal ladies. “Eh-Oh!!” for sure or “soggy bottom” as they say in the Great British Bake Off!

Ped-Egg

You would only buy this as a gift for somebody you truly despise.

This year, I asked OH to have Alan Titchmarsh gift wrapped for me, complete with wellies and trowel. In return he can have Wendy James (Transvision Vamp).

Ol’ Wend doesn’t have quite the same allure as she did in the 80’s (when OH was spotty) whereas Titchmarsh has aged like a fine wine and can still lay a decent patio.

I hope my little what not to buy guide helps to keep the yuletide A & E free.

Just to add that this isn’t representative of all menopausal ladies, so don’t panic! Some are total Goddesses. Sadly, I am not.

The one thing women don’t want to find in their stockings on Christmas morning is their husband.~ Joan Rivers

Image Credit Via Flickr

Older

For the sake of this post, I am borrowing Doc Brown’s DeLorean. (It’s a time machine, kids)

*Blasts back to 1981 aged 11*

Puberty starts with a bang, literally. It’s bonfire night, I presume I’m dying, Ma thrusts a sanitary towel the size of Wales through the bathroom door saying “stick this in your knickers, dear!”

*Fast forward to 1983 aged 13*

I inform my dad,  “I’ll NEVER leave you! I’ll NEVER get married!! I HATE boys!!!” (except Duran Duran)

*fast forward four years to 1987 aged 17*

Gets married.

*fast forward to 1988*

Is handed a howling bundle of joy by an extremely cranky midwife with staffing issues. I am smitten, (with baby not midwife)

*fast forwards to August 1992 aged 21*

Cantankerous old biddy of a midwife (been delivering babies since the 1800’s) thrusts a sleepy bundle of joy in my arms. Smitten again.

*fast forwards to June 2009 aged 38*

Limps into labour ward looking like Alice Cooper. Within a couple of hours I am descended on by theatre staff who unceremoniously prepare me for an emergency C Section.

The 9lbs 7 oz bundle is extracted from my mangled womb and promptly pees on the nurse. For a third time, I am smitten.

*fast forwards to 2009 aged 39*

Gynecological consultant (male) cheerfully informs me that he is going into retirement, as are my ovaries. I am menopausal. I manage to refrain from lamping him one.  I’m only 39! In my prime, aren’t I?

*fast forwards a year 2010*

Tries to look on the bright side of being 40 and menopausal by thinking of all the money I’ll save on not having to buy sanitary towels.

*fast forwards to 2012*

Post menopausal –  ovaries have officially retired.

*fast forwards a year 2013*

Pelvic floor surrenders.

*rewinds back to August 1992 – maternity hospital*

Pleads to have a couple of stitches put in.

*fast forwards back to 2012*

Craves comfortable shoes, ruched tops  and Alan Titchmarsh.

Orders Tena Lady’s by the pallet load.

Displays erratic psychotic behaviour.

Forgets stuff.

Mourns youth.

*fast forwards to 2014*

Acceptance.

This has been my reproductive life and now it’s officially over. Kaput. Knackered. Finito.

Initially miffed that my eggs are about as much use as a chocolate fireguard, I soon reminded myself that I have three wonderful children and am lucky to have had the privilege, many don’t.

My journey has brought me to a place where I finally like who I am.

I look at this photo of 16 year old me and realise that I didn’t like myself very much. I mean, just look at my body language. Am I handcuffed?

I was 16! Why wasn’t draped across the sand in my bikini?

I suppose it’s something that I wasn’t wearing my cardi…

The hair is hideous but I only have the one chin and, what’s that, a belly button?

I haven’t seen that SOB in five years!!

Scan0026

Note the white skirt. Must have been THE holiday where I wasn’t on my period!

So now I’m middle-aged.

I have a wibbly bum, rogue nose hair and boobs which look like a couple of deflated airbags (if airbags came in Borrower size)

Oh, and I dribble when I laugh.

‘OOPS’ moments? I’ve had a few…

But all this comes with the realisation that, despite disintegrating faster than a dunked Rich Tea biscuit (but with less finesse), I am more comfortable with my body than I’ve ever been.

Menopause isn’t the end of the world, it’s just part of life – a new chapter.

My body is curvy and that’s not another way of saying I’m fat. Well, OK, I am a bit fat but I like it.

The me in the photograph felt ugly. The years of having been bullied were ingrained in my psyche. Thanks, cows.

Not anymore.

I have reached that wonderful time in my life where ” I aint bovvered!”

That’s not to say that I’ve given up on my self and lounge about in leggings and tea-stained tops…uh huh, I’m my mother’s daughter and she’d haunt me if I did. I mean that I’m not bothered by what other people think of me.

Time changes you physically and mentally. You start to see your loved one’s get ill and die and you know that one day it will be you in that box.

It’s important to love your body and, for me, it’s easier now because when I see the stretch marks and c section scar which cover my tummy, I remind myself of why they are there.

 

Tea_bowl_fixed_in_the_Kintsugi_method

Lets get philosophical…

Kintsugi is the ancient Japanese art which repairs chips and cracks in pottery with fine gold, silver or platinum. Rather than rejecting or hiding it’s flaws and imperfections – they are highlighted and the object is considered to be more even beautiful than before.

This is how I choose to see my scar and stretch marks. I embrace them for what they are – a beautiful reminder of three boys who gave my life meaning.

You reading this boys? Your mama loves you! I am a broken pot but I love you.

To the bullies, I raise two fingers.

No, make that one.

When we are young we try on different masks in an attempt to find our identities. Age brings acceptance of who we are and we’re less inclined to take people’s shit. Good, eh?

I’m finally OK with being me.

Don’t you think I’m looking older?
But something good has happened to me
Change is a stranger
You have yet to know

George Michael ~ Older

Image Credit

mumturnedmom

 

Forever Autumn

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I love autumn. I love everything about the season.

Being born in the middle of July, you’d be forgiven for thinking that summer was my favourite season but for as long as I can remember, it’s been autumn. For me, it’s the most interesting time of the year. It’s also cooler which most menopausal ladies (like myself) will appreciate having spent the summer loitering in the chilled section of the supermarket.

This summer has been hot. Too hot for some and not hot enough for those with asbestos for skin.

But we’re Brits and we do love a good whinge about the weather. If whinging about the weather was an Olympic sport, we’d win gold every time.

But summer has taken her final bow. The flies have buzzed off and it’s time for autumn to take to the stage with her flamboyant style.

I could bang on about autumn until, well, winter but I’m on a word count so I’ll keep it brief (ish)

If life can be divided into seasons, I would say that the childhood years are spring – a time of birth and growth. Then with the child producing years comes summer, so the natural menopause must mean autumn. I am 44 and post-menopausal. I feel deciduous, as in, there is more hair on my brush than on my head.

The winter years are the home run. If you’re lucky, you will have remained compos mentis. I wouldn’t mind reaching a grand old age if I can hold onto my marbles but given that this week I tried to give the dog Cheerios instead of Bakers and used gravy granules instead of coffee – I’m not holding by breath. I will be the old dear who flashes her support tights on an hourly basis and thinks that Thatcher is still prime minister.

Menopausal women have a lot in common with autumn with their own hues mirroring the season.

Browns (the hair dye which covers the rapidly greying hair)

Reds (the face during a hot flush),

Yellows (a flogged out liver due to excessive gin consumption)

Orange (overdoing the fake tan – but this applies to summers as well, and maybe springs if their crazy mama’s enter them into a beauty pageant at the age of three).

I’m joking. Sort of.

Like the menopause, autumn is a time of great change.

Mother Nature invites you to pull on your walking boots with the promise of an awe inspiring display of colour.

The wisps of smoke coming from chimneys make me stop and sniff the breeze like demented Meerkat. It makes me think about ‘ye olde’ pubs with a roaring fire and a decent pint but I mostly have to make do with tea out of a flask.

Then there’s the rustling sound as my boots plough through the piles of newly fallen leaves.

Here I must add a cautionary note about kicking leaves…

I was having an autumnal kick about in the leaves the other week. The fun police (aka other half) said to me, “I’d be careful if I were you, you don’t know what’s under those leaves!”. I snorted and carried on kicking with abandon. Within seconds my boot came up and with it a huge mound of dog poo. My autumnal walk was marred by having to scrape my way along the grass for the next few hundred yards – much to OH’s amusement. Oh how he laughed. Git.

Let this be a lesson to you. Think before you kick!!!

Autumn is the most exciting season. Aside from ol’ Ma Nature doing her thing with the trees and stuff, there is Halloween – the most charming of celebrations where one’s sweetie stash is massively depleted by little monsters threatening vengeance if their buckets are not filled with cavity inducing confectionery. I’ve taken to answering the door with no make up on – that trumps any scary costume they can come up with. Muhaha

Then there is Bonfire night, though it should be called Bonfire Nights as it is spread across the entire month. Most children love it and most pet owners hate it because BANG BANG BANG SQUEAL WHOOSH BANG equals doggy bodily fluids all over the lino.

As a child, I associated the smell of smoke with Bonfire night. As an adult, it’s shit.

After Bonfire night, we’re on the annoying countdown to a visit from the fat man and his huge sack. *coughs*

But for now, it’s just lovely to admire the show.

To stand in the woods and watch thousands of leaves float down like snow is a wonderful experience. There is beauty everywhere, so get out there and enjoy it. Unplug the kids (and yourselves) from electronic paraphernalia and go out into the countryside and explore!

Metaphorically – my life is in this beautiful season, or at least that’s how I see it. Autumn is a time of reflection and reaping the fruits of your labours. I delight in the success my grown up sons are making of their lives and as for my little man? Well he’s my Indian summer. Time will tell where his talents lie but all I know is that he brings sunshine to my days. All of them do in their own special ways.

I’d love to see winter but only if I can still appreciate it’s beauty, if not, I’ll settle for autumn, forever.

“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”

Yoko Ono

Image by Antonia Foy

mumturnedmom

 

OOPS!

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I’ve made mistakes in my time, who hasn’t?

Some of those mistakes have been arse clenchingly embarrassing, like when I wrote “pubic act” instead of public act in my history book at school. Not content with putting a big red line under “pubic” with the words “OOPS!!” written alongside it, the history teacher decided to have a laugh at my expense by revealing my little faux pas to the ENTIRE class.

Course, I can laugh about now, Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha, couldn’t then – went home and died.

Then there was the time I underestimated how slippy grass can be in the rain..

A short sharp shower stopped play at a local cricket match and I decided to run and rescue my deck chair, as you do. Needless to say it didn’t end well, tripping and sliding across the outfield in full view of, well, everybody.

Aaaand there was the time when I went to school without my knickers.

Nope, I wasn’t the school tramp, let me explain..

We had swimming lessons first thing on Monday mornings and I used to put my uniform on over my costume to save having to strip at the baths. Only on this occasion I’d forgot to put my knickers in my bag so having confided my lil dilemma to the teacher, she issued me with a skanky pair of PE knickers from out of the lost property box which, by the musty smell of them, had been in there since 1962.

Then I had a near death experience at high school when I got mixed up in the ability groups in swimming and was pushed in at the deep end of the swimming pool by a sadistic SS trained PE teacher (and cow) I nearly drowned. My friend had to jump in and save me (cus the teacher couldn’t be arsed) and I eventually surfaced with more snot on my face than a two year old and, WORSE, my swimming costume around my midriff. Yes, I flashed my Brad Pitts to everybody. Oh, nearly forgot to mention that it was a MIXED session!

Or maybe the time I’d worked up the courage to go to college as a mature student. After many self-help psyching sessions, I marched in the PACKED room, flounced up to the important looking lady sat on the table at the front and announced in my most confident voice, “Hello, I’m T, pleased to meet you. Where do you want me to sit?” to which she replied, “Wherever you want love, the tutor isn’t here yet!” I smouldered my way over to a seat with a set of cheeks that would fry an egg in three seconds flat.

Have you ever wished for a big hole to open up and take you down?

Plenty more little anecdotes from where these came from only I like to limit my posts to under 1000 words!

Then there are the mistakes which eat you up from the inside.

The things I’ve done that I wish I hadn’t.

The things I said.

The things I didn’t say.

But I’m human and to err is human, as they say.

So now I look at my life, my gaffs, my faux pas – my mistakes and acknowledge that they have all been learning curves. Life is one big learning curve and it’s OK to make mistakes.

But what about the mistakes which cost lives? Doctors, police, firefighters, paramedics and military personnel all have the burden of other people’s lives in their hands on a daily basis and then there are other professions which are responsible for the safety of others. They are human beings so it is inevitable that mistakes will be made and while they will no doubt learn from each one, I don’t know how they are able to cope with the knowledge that their action or decision cost a life. It’s an immense responsibility and not one I envy. I accidentally knocked my mate’s tooth out the first time I played hockey and I felt bad enough about that! Yet another mistake!

Mistakes are essential for our personal growth and we’ll keep making mistakes until the day they put the toe tag on because we never stop learning. If you get to the point where you feel you have nothing more to learn, you might as well shuffle off your mortal coil and make some room for someone else.

My mistakes were embarrassing but nobody died. Well I nearly did but in the end I survived to the entertainment of my class. You’re welcome, folks!

Even though I’ve been shifting about uneasily in my chair as the memories have come flooding back, I’m able to see the funny side and laugh at myself even it’s a manically insane, hide the knife, laugh. At the time it would have been a full on crisis because I was a teenager and a teenager’s very existence is fraught with angst over the slightest thing. Such as:

  • Zit = angst
  • Broken pencil = angst
  • Period = psychotic angst
  • Flopping boobs out in front of the class in the swimming pool = kill me now my life is over – angst

I dealt with it by locking myself in my room and playing Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now on repeat.

I was (and still am) a complete disaster zone but, in my humble opinion, there are no mistakes that we can’t learn from – it’s just that some mistakes are harder to live with than others.

Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts. ~ Jim Morrison