A Break From The Bitching


So I could start this post with 40-odd excuses as to why I haven’t blogged in ages. AGES. Like, proper ages. The last time I blogged, a lot of stuff had not happened in the world that has now very much happened. The Kim Kardashian/Kanye West love-in was just a twinkle in Twitter’s eye. Samantha Brick and that terrifying French marksman she’s married to had not been invented yet. The “Where’s Me Keys, Where’s Me Phone” man off Britain’s Got Talent had yet to make it to the heady fame heights of a Simon Cowell half-bored, half-irritated eye-roll and was probably still sat at home, working on his other, often overlooked track “I Was Sure I Had A Tenner In My Wallet. No. Wait. I Think I Used It To Buy That Pasty At Lunch” (sure, it’s not as catchy as his BGT follow-up but if you can get hold of a copy on eBay, I think it could become a collector’s item one day). Where was I? Excuses. Yeah, what’s the point? What is the point in my lame excuses for not writing? For one, all 40-odd of them would largely be variations of “I’ve been really busy” and seriously, when addressing a bunch of people who are also “really busy”, is that going to wash? Is it hell. Do you ever get that? Do you ever get people saying to you “you know, I am SO busy” and whilst on the outside you nod and sympathetically smile and make little mewing noises of “poor you, you need to take it easy”, inside you’re shouting “busy? BUSY? Oh, you’re busy are you? BOO HOO, poor you, you can’t possibly be THAT busy because look at you, you’ve managed to find time to put mascara on both sets of lashes. BOTH. That kind of luxury I could only dream of. Not that I do dream, obviously, because I am so busy, I can only sleep in 30-minute, dream-free stints. Do you have any clue what busy means? I’m SO MUCH BUSIER THAN YOU”. Do you get that? Do you sometimes (always) genuinely believe you’re the busiest person EVER? Or the tiredest? No? Are you still reading? Shall I get my coat?

Um yeah. YEAH. Anyway. Busy. Working working working. Things are still going well. I’m enjoying the job and feel like my kids, husband and I have settled ok into the new routine. There are still moments when the big, dirty guilt-bombs drop  – usually when my son is asking me why I’m going to work AGAIN (but why mummy? Why? WhywhywhywhyWHY?) – and I suddenly find myself struck with an overwhelming panic that my selfish needs are effectively turning my children into woman-hating psychos, but the majority of the time, I successfully drop-kick these ‘am I doing the wrong thing?’ anxieties into oblivion – usually with some reminiscing about the good old days when I didn’t work and could often be found weeping over a pile of felt tip pens with their lids missing because my mental state was so screwed-up – and get on with it.

Guys, has anyone seen the lids? Guys? GUYS?
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SOMEBODY FIND THE FUCKING LIDS BEFORE THEY ALL DRY OUT.

I won’t lie, having a job is tricky, but it’s not anywhere near as tricky as being with my children full-time and I’m pretty sure this was the right decision for me…much to the chagrin of some of the mums I know from round my way who seem genuinely disappointed when they ask me, again, how things are going and, again, I tell them things are going good. Take this conversation I had the other week:

How’s the job going?

Yeah, good thanks. I’m really enjoying it.

And how’s the commute?

Yeah, it’s fine. It doesn’t bother me to be honest, I quite enjoy it.

Really?

Really.

You must be tired though. Are you tired? It’s a long way to go. Are you tired?

Um, yes, I suppose but I’m always tired, working or not. Honestly, all in all, it’s going well thanks.

Well, the novelty will soon wear off I expect. I must say, going back to work isn’t something I’d consider doing just now, while the kids are so little.

And that was that. I was left stood there, feeling like a bit (a lot) of a twat while the mum in question sauntered off, smugly. Smug that she’d put me straight. Smug that she’d chucked some passive aggressive shit into the equation about me leaving my kids. Smug that she’d told me there’d be some point in the near future that the enjoyment of my job would wear off and I’d come to my wretched senses. Brilliant. BRILLIANT.

What a bitch.

Seriously, what a bitch. What a tactless, unnecessary thing to say. And of course, rather than taking the sensible route of shrugging off the comments, flicking the Vs at her as she drove off in her wanky car, and carrying on with just doing my own thing and not worrying too much about what other people (particularly people I hardly know and don’t especially want to know) think, I started to wind myself up about it all. Why are women sometimes so horrible to each other? Why do some feel this need to turn everything into a fricking contest over who’s doing the best in life? It drives me insane. This one time a while back, I was talking to one mum I knew (note the past tense) about food shopping (I know, I’m a right laugh, me) and happened to mention this farm shop I’d found that sold decent, cheap veg (stick with me on this one). It wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t organic, I wasn’t applauding their fucking globe artichokes and hand-foraged truffles – in short, I had no hidden agenda, I was just passing on what I thought was a nice little tip about somewhere that sold cheap spuds. Big wow. Do you know what she fired back with?

“I’m quite happy with Tesco, thanks. Lucky for me, I’m not a food-snob”

No word of a lie, that is what she said. Somewhere in between coming out of my mouth and being processed by her ears, my thrifty (albeit mind-numbingly dull) chit-chat had somehow become:

“oi, Tesco twatface, my veg is better than yours”.

I’m so over it. I’m so over this competition. Life as a mum is hard. In fact, life is hard – mum or no mum-stuff – full stop. Everybody in the world knows this – it’s an actual fact – yet so many women refuse to acknowledge this to one another. And, yeah, I know that really it’s a case of taking the moral high ground, shrugging off the idiots and only hanging out with the people who make you smile rather than those who make you seethe but still, I’d like to make a little plea for a break from the bitching. It’s ok, I’m don’t want to cuddles or anything, I’m way too anxious and uptight for physical contact with strangers, but still, a smile and a little shared, sympathetic nod towards the tough stuff in life can go a long way.

Failing that, be nice to me and I’ll tell you where you can get a good deal on Maris Pipers. Yeah? YEAH! Come here, let’s hug this out.

31 thoughts on “A Break From The Bitching

  1. biscuitsarenothealthybutwhocares says:

    I don’t like hugging or (on a semi tangent) this kissing hello business, I never know if it’s 1 cheek or 2 and end up looking like a twat.
    If it helps I am jealous that you work, I do not enjoy the drudgery that looking after 2 pre-schoolers entails.
    Glad you are enjoying your job.

  2. Susie says:

    I would reply and say yes, I totally agree with you and let’s stop all this competitive shit, but I’m TOO BUSY (and clearly my kinda busy is far more important than yours). Joking. Obv. Good post – welcome back.

  3. mcmurphycuckoo says:

    Tesco?! Tesco? I’m not one of these middle-class aspirational types. I scrump all my veg from’t local allotments ;-)

  4. Expat Mammy says:

    I completely agree women are just fecking horrible to each other. Why do we get so jealous of each other?? Strange but if you could give me the Maris piper heads up I send you some waffles from holland ;-)

  5. Awesome. I was thinking just this about that article by Bibi Lynch in the Guardian the other day. People were slagging it out all over the internet over whether it was worse to be infertile or have a disabled child, whether it was harder to have a child or have a demanding job and I just don’t get it. Why does it have to be a competition?! Why can’t we just do the things we do, feel the things we feel and help each other out when we can? Pfffft.

    (And yes, I’ve been on the receiving end of so many of these smug, barbed comments from other mums too.)

    Great blog!

    • I read that article too – I was sad for her that she couldn’t have kids but bad things happen to everyone – and life can be tough whatever the circumstances. It shouldn’t be a competition about how much worse it is for one person or another or how much better one person’s choices are over another – as you say, we all do what we do and we should respect that (as long as what we do doesn’t hurt others) and help out not constantly have a go at everyone

  6. Kelly says:

    You’re bleedin’ brilliant, you are! :-)

  7. Hey, great blog as usual, though I couldn’t really take much of it in after the picture of the felt tip pens with their missing lids. Do they think they will have ALL dried out? Every one of them? Much much worse then missing socks, I think we would all agree. By the way, did I mention i was a stay at home mum?

  8. Last time I engaged in a conversation like the one you had about being back at work it ended badly “Well, I suppose I’m lucky that I don’t HAVE to work” she said – thus not only dissing my life choices but also inferring that my husband is a loser too, and that collectively we are the scum of the earth (I tried to take what she’d said at face value and not let it get to me, but I failed). Totally agree with you – and you say it so well!

  9. Hannah says:

    I should stop reading your blog. I’ve ignored all your wise words so far and handed in my notice. That means I’m apparently about to become a ‘SAHM’ in web speak. In actual fact, I’m hoping to become someone that vaguely neglects her children while pursuing her own interests while giving the appearance to all that it’s so that I can spend every precious moment with my beloved offspring. Only vague neglect mind. Very slight. More of a ‘if you do this often enough you’ll grow to love it’ type neglect.

    Glad you have a job that you enjoy – I’m pretty sure mine is making me mental. And is that woman mad? The commute is the best bit! 3 hours to yourself (in my case anyway). It’s just the way it makes the days long and the endless logistics of drop off, pick up and sick child handling that wore me down – but for a job I really enjoyed I’d have stuck with it.

    So, in a few weeks, could you include something on how the people in your office are all horrible, and how your bosses keep changing their minds, and how the people on the train do eggy farts in the morning – just to make me feel better while I’m weeping over the felt pens?

    • Of course! Different strokes for different folks isn’t it, some stuff works well for some, other stuff works better for others – its just all about supporting each other isn’t it? Being nice, spreading the love…..I need to stop drinking gin at breakfast…lots of luck with your new role, I am sure you will have a blast x

  10. Eloisa says:

    Ha ha ha!!!! Loved it!
    Thanks for sharing this with us, and reminding us what we, busy working mums are definatelly “not missing” and better off without! I am myself embarking on a new begining, new job and new 2 yr diploma/degree at 40 something! All my “school mates” could be my daughters and sons…and why not?!
    What’s more, in a foreign country and in another language other than English!
    So, I have shared my news with some of my local “acquaintaces” and I’ve put them to the test: if I get a bitching comment, I will keep them at arms lenght! Not worthy waisting your energy on people who project their negativity and frustration on to you!
    Believe me, it is tricky to choose this path, but tons more gratifying and worthwile than procrastinating, projecting it and feeling sorry for yourself: that you neither ever had a life of your own outside your “mum’s world” or you had but are doing the ultimate “Mother Theresa” sacrife now! Some of us, have to bring in “the bacon”. Full stop!

    I, for a fact, know my kids are dead proud of my efforts, and in fact it’s teaching them loads more than I ever expected!
    I look forward to when I get my degree at the same time as my elder one gets his!
    This is mother/son bonding in depth!

    Keep on writing “Gina” (!), we strong, intelligent and independent women love it(!)…..
    ……and you do it so well by giving us not only smiles but, more importantly, laughter!

    ET

  11. Mother hood is isolating enough sometimes, noone needs unedrhand comments from any other mother. We should all be supporting each other after all we all do it differently. Just so annoying.

  12. lauratmoscow says:

    Am also about to flee my full-time, well paid job in search of some kind of sanity at home, for a bit anyhow. Even though we will be SKINT as a result. It was a toss up – skint or completely insane, and skint won out. …. Hannah I totally get you, there ARE some really REALLY poo-ey things about work, the work place and the dysfunctional managers with broken personalities (often fellow women, sadly) who inhabit some businesses and revel in their undisguised glee every time a working mother has to run out of a meeting early because her little one is sick. It’s not all friendly banter in the office and Starbucks on a calm commuter train. My next job (if I ever manage to get employed again .. which is questionable..gulp) will be 3 or 4 days a week maximum, and hopefully free of all the wanky positioning and back covering I have to deal with right now. Till then … its beans on toast for a while. Life is short. :-)

  13. …this just makes me smile. Thank you. This confirms my staying shy of hanging out with mums is right. I don’t want to talk about my children, I want to talk about a fantastic book or a film that makes you cry or just some hot guy who’s in it! Women should just give each other a break and stop judging or using others to make themselves feel better about the shit things that they get up to on the quiet!

  14. You have a life other than keeping us entertained? I’m shocked. I think that’s terrible. I’m off to bitch about you to everyone I know now.

  15. francespringle says:

    Missed ya! Loved this! Glad job’s a good’un!

  16. Quite honestly, all I got from that conversation was how your having a job was playing on that woman’s insecurities which she then spun around on to you. I wouldn’t give it another thought love as that comment was clearly caused by her own issues.
    It is a shame that we women do feel the need to project our shit on to others like this sometimes in an effort to make ourselves feel better though.

    If having a job is making you a happier person, then you’ll be a happier mum and you’ll have happier kids. All around that’s a lot of happy right there so good on you and keep doing what you’re doing.

    That’s my tuppence worth anyhoo. :)

    Kim x

  17. AnnaW says:

    What utter cows!
    I, like you, am choosing to go back to work (just to stop me murdering my children) safe in the knowledge that the nursery gives my kids more fun and attention than I can muster when I am with them. And we all love each other more as a result when we see each other at the end of the day/weekends. I love your blog and applaude both you, the sentiment you express and the fact you are brave enough to admit that being a working mum is a good thing (for some of us). Women, and especially mums, can be really snide and smug, when we all should be buying eachother a drink and giving standing ovations for what we as parents dare to hope to acheive! ( verbal hug?) :)

    • AnnaW says:

      awwww, I just re-read this – sounds a bit wordy ad up myself for me! must have had more to drink than I thought when I typed it. sorry!!

      • AnnaW says:

        Oh Dear God! I really am not the drunken old soak I am so-far representing myself as! and I love your blog, it has me in stitches no matter how many times I read it – please delete any/all my comments so I can continue to read it without having to see what I have said….pretty please?? thanks x

      • Your comments are lovely. As are you. X

  18. Molly says:

    Oh I am SO with you. Feel free to have tired contests, chat about potatoes and avoid hugging with me. I won’t judge you. Anyway, I have to go. I don’t have time to comment any more. I’m FAR too busy.

  19. Phillippa Edgar says:

    another great blog which has cheered me completely, sad to say I have been waiting for this Abs, I am beyond the @busy.com and am currently a resident of @stressed.com, with a 1year old having learnt to walk at 11months banging into evey available object doing untold damage to not only furniture but himself and a 2year old thinking mummy can only be mummy to her and that I am her constant radio – and yes Abby my singing has not impoved at all since School! along with 10000 word dissertation, 2x A2 posters on retrofitting, thermal comfort and yes blah blah blah boring stuff, oh and on top of this organising my other halfs shift patterns along with my own to be returning to work a full time mum next week!. The rocking in a corner crying and alternativly screaming wtf am I doing why can I not just have 2minutes where I am not sorting work, nursery, uni or the kids out and chill?. Your blog has yet again given me respite, an excuse to find humour in my current humourless snappy self. Loving the mum who twisted good advice into you being a food snob she really is the snob for not looking at all options when working the weekly food bill and savings that can be made yes again that is my sad life – where are the bargins and what can I save money on without comprimising my standard or tastes (the standards being certain own brands that in my opinion taste worse – though this is probably a figment of my imagination oh and cushell – sorry no other toilet paper is as good I am a koala convert) – ok my rant of my chest – but again thankyou Aby without you my other half would I think, by the end of today, put me in a straight jacket and limited visitations with him and the kids to once a month x

  20. Hello, just come across your blog. Really like it! Refreshing to find a blog that is funny and interesting on motherhood. There’s something a little bit tiresome about the standard yummy mummy blogs after a while…

  21. oana79 says:

    It makes them feel better about themselves..that’s why women bitch each other. But only for a second because then they wake up to reality. The “oh shit, my life sucks and I didn’t have a proper shower/shag/haircut for ages and I have no idea what I’m doing as a mother” reality. I am not for keeping things in, the shit would cover me completely when it hit the fan if I did. Not to worry, you will never do things right in other people’s eyes so just ignore the bitches!

  22. squashedfly says:

    I hear ya . Mummy Olympics . No one is ever gonna win. We all just go home and cry into our biscuits

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