When I talk to my closest friends, actually in conversation with words and mannerisms and not by text or Facebook messaging but in real life or on the phone, it is not uncommon for the conversation to result in a moan about how shattered we both feel. It’s not that we are all manic depressive but that we are quite often very tired and have waves of feeling a bit peeved from the hamster wheel of everyday life. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish to sound ‘Poor Me’ as I know how fortunate I am compared to others who live in desperate situations, but our lives are all relative to our own situations so we are allowed to indulge in a bit of a moan about things sometimes.
It is widely reported that Modern Life is a fast paced experience for most people with our 24/7 lifestyles. Many of us are guilty of relaxing on the sofa for our evening downtime with one hand on the remote control and the other on our mobiles refreshing our inbox or checking Facebook. Those of us that are employed are working way over our contracted hours, lunch hours on the go and a constant juggling act with home life and work. I work from home but feel like I have to find my inner Derren Brown to balance my week of school runs, kids activities, dogs demands and other things that get thrust into the daily chaos. Our fast paced existence can mean that we miss out on the finer things in life; the appreciation of what we have, noticing the simpler things and relishing the pleasurable things in life. I took my daughter on a nature day today at our local country park, we had a group of very enthusiastic ramblers who were ‘in charge’ of the activities. They were intent on opening up the children’s eyes to all things nature by encouraging us to collect nature’s materials to make a scary Halloween artwork. So we decided on a spider, arranged our leaves and twigs to create a sculpture that Tracey Emin would be proud of and despite Rambler helper pointing out that spiders don’t have red eyes, the kids were massively enthused by the activity.
It is my third nature activity this half term in my bid to ‘get the children out in the fresh air for an educational experience’ and even though we are starting to sprout webbed feet from the constant damp conditions, I feel good that we are taking part in something worthwhile. Every day of the half term I have crammed full of ‘experiences’ and play dates until my Mum pointed out that ‘I could just stay home with my children as that is what I used to do with you and your brother.’ Good idea I said, ‘I’ll buy some paints and glueing stuff to make art installations or bake cakes?’, she wearily shook her head explaining, ‘you can do simple things like read books, play board games or just cuddle up and watch a film?’. Hmmmm that sounds far too relaxing and easy, must cram something else stressful into my day surely?
But no matter how you try to slow life down it never seems to feel that way. And apart from whingeing to my nearest and dearest, the rest of the time I will happily paste on my air hostess smile to anyone else who asks how things are, replying with a bright and breezy ‘great thanks’, even though inside I am secretly Ebenezer Scrooge grumbling incoherently under my breath. I am definitely no stranger to tiredness and I think this is the reason behind the expert moaning me and my friends enjoy as our extra curricular activity. Parenting is a great introduction to exhaustion, I didn’t sleep a full night for the first 5 years of my daughter’s life, I spent many days with the dull ache headache of exhaustion, feeling a little bit sick, a fit of tears minutes away, unable to have intelligible conversation, eating too much chocolate and barely capable of keeping up with the storylines of Scooby Doo.
Life is definitely easier now I’m off the baby Groundhog Days, I loved the nurturing years and wouldn’t have missed raising my little ones for anything but there is that point when they start school for you to return home that first day, look in the mirror and think ‘Christ!’ at the gaunt mad haired woman looking back at you. I adore my children, appreciate my husbands long hours at financing our lifestyle but find myself in part-time writer, part-time child-rearer, part-time domestic goddess and still feeling a little bit in part-time limbo land. My friends and I used to discuss films, politics, new bars and restaurants, recent clothes purchases and weekend plans. Our main topic of conversation now is whinge whinge, feel tired, what is my role now? What diet are you on? What vitamins are you on? Shall I take Probiotics? So when we’re not moaning we are quite often taking part in another hobby of ours, worrying. Worrying about our children’s ability at school, their daily consumption of fruit and veg, their friendship groups. Or we worry about our relationships, money, post-babies figures and our current favourite topic; our future health and future beauty regime, discussing how many wrinkles or grey hairs we are sprouting, what ailments are starting to take hold of us. I doubt very much that James Bond worries about his daily alcohol units when swigging his martinis in the afternoon. What we need to do is stop worrying, stop moaning and appreciate what we have. Me and my friends moan a lot but we do occasionally remember to make each other laugh in our stupid shared sense of humours, to still talk about ambitions we still have and to know that there is someone always less fortunate than ourselves. For sometimes the only way to move forward past the blues is to slap on that mad grin and remember how lucky we really are.