The First Week of School
September 18, 2018
As every year, the first week of school is fucking stressful. Kids are already tired and cranky in the afternoons, the traffic is driving me ballistic, and the money goes out in doubles. There are the arts and crafts lessons, singing, music, Spanish … and the shoes and the wellies and the raincoats and anything and everything else you can think of we, the parents, most likely have to pay for in September.
Of course, I don’t mind investing in my kid’s education, quite the opposite. I believe every penny spend on education is worth it. But I would still like to know why everything must be so bloody expensive when it comes to kids and their education?!? Anyone, anyone with answers?
Jim, my husband doesn’t share my enthusiasm about investment in education. His educational belief system is pretty limited. According to him, kids ought to work hard at school and learn everything there, not at the after-school classes or during extra tutorials or activities. He believes that a child should show some interest in a particular subject before extra help, or additional classes are provided.
In reality, education is just one of many fundamental values we disagree on. At the start of any relationship, no one wants to see how fundamental values can break that relationship. Even once you’re married, you still believe that the other person will change or see through your eyes. But unfortunately, it does matter more than everyone wants to, or cares to admit.
Another “frustration he constantly experiences with me” – these are his words, not mine, is the fact that I bring zero money in. He quickly forgot that it was his idea for me to stay at home with the girls.
Instead of paying someone else to look after our kids, I was going to look after them. Apparently, it was cheaper than having a nanny and a cleaner and pay for my travel to work. Yeah, that was a huge mistake, to put it mildly… Somehow he had forgotten that I was the breadwinner before we had kids. I used to support his crazy business ideas and always believed and knew that one would have worked out someday.
I still don’t understand how insane I must have been to think it was a good idea to give up my life and my career in my prime to become… a perfect nobody. Unfortunately, after having two kids, I’m not considered a valuable asset to most companies. They look at me and think that I’m a liability. Yes, our modern, advanced society seems to believe that the moment a woman becomes a mother, she loses all abilities to think, work, and be productive. The small fact that dudes run most companies doesn’t help our cause. The prejudice against working mothers is massive and still growing.
Every single year during the first week of school Jim and I argue a ton. The tension between us doesn’t help with my exhaustion leaving me to drain and wishing I could dissolve into nothingness every evening. He always knows how to make me feel small, which buttons to push and words to use. The sad thing is that I have only realised this recently, but he has been working on lowering my self-esteem for years. Yes, most of the days I feel small and insignificant. Long-time relationships usually take the heavy toll on people but there is a sacrifice you are willing to make, and there is a complete loss of your own self just to please someone who doesn’t even sees you as a person any longer.
The positive thing about the first week back to school is that the girls seemed to be happy and to see all their friends. I’m glad they are so merry. It is always nice to see other mums and get back to our coffee mornings. We usually don’t see each other over the summer. The community takes a break from being a community; maybe it is for the best as we don’t get at each other nerves. Both of my girls go to an independent school, which for now I believe is the perfect fit for their needs. It does cost shit lots of money, but in the case of education, money is irrelevant to me. The girls like the school, love their teachers and friends and each morning are happy to put their shoes on, take their lunches and go off.
I love the freedom the summer holidays offer and late nights and lazy mornings. But there is nothing like a quiet house after a hot, humid, and sticky summer. I treasure the space and the quietness that falls upon the house when September arrives.
I know that if you asked Jim about what I do during the time the girls are at school, he would most likely tell you that I do nothing. The reality is very different. I cook, clean, do the shopping, do the laundry, look after the garden, sell stuff we don’t need any more on eBay and most importantly I’m a writer. Or I should rather say that I try to write. Words don’t come to me as quickly as they used to.
My previous job BC (before children) involved lots of writing. I was a senior copywriter in a fancy ad agency which didn’t believe my motherhood could add any value to their company once my maternity leave was over. Fuck them and the dude in charge. Sorry, the creep would love that so no. I’m just gonna fuck his narrow-minded teeny-tiny brain.
But I’m back to writing, or at least I’m trying to write again and in the process try to get my working life back. I didn’t tell anyone that I was writing again. First of all, I don’t need more pressure than I already have; secondly, I don’t want to get my hopes up too high. It is writing, and I’m kind of starting from scratch. With creativity and creative life, you can’t plan that much ahead.
At the moment it feels that I’m starting a new life in the middle of my old life.
My Knee Is In Pain Again
September 25, 2018
After weeks of resting and a half a dozen physiotherapy sessions, my knee, in theory at least, should be as good as new. I didn’t exercise or go to the gym over the summer as much as I would like to. I wanted my knee to be ready for all the physical activities a new school year always throws at me or any other parent in that matter.
However, the moment I started driving a little bit more than I did during the summer my knee gave in. I honestly don’t know if this was the driving, the colder weather, or more physical activity, but my knee was screaming for attention. As soon as I could, I made yet another appointment with Jim’s friend, a physiotherapist whom I went to see over the summer. I had no particular problems with him before that last session, or maybe I simply was unaware what kind of fucking moron he was.
His asshole-like attitude was visible from the moment I arrived. I was two minutes late; It happens, it’s London. Sometimes you can’t get on time to places regardless of how early you leave. Besides, the moment school is back in session, driving across the capital becomes pretty challenging.
Of course, I was apologetic and explained that I got stuck in traffic. I do not know what he was trying to say or what he meant, but he just said that I got stuck in the pipe (Anyone knows what that means in the assholes’ lingo?). It could have been a joke that I didn’t understand. His odd behaviour didn’t end there, it continued, and he started bombarding me with pretty personal questions, which made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. After that, the rest of the visit was just the ride downhill.
The previous time I came for a session with him, he gave me a strengthening exercise, which I did on a daily basis for few weeks but it turned out that I was doing the whole exercise wrong. Even though it was precisely the way, he showed me to do.
After pointing out that I just wasted my time doing the exercise, he proceeded with more criticism, but this time he decided to insult my diet. Believe me; he knows very little about food. After he was done with pointing out how my vegan diet was unhealthy, he couldn’t stop himself from suggesting that going to the gym is stupid and pointless really. According to him, I should be interacting with my environment, and the gym doesn’t offer that. I live in London, and the pollution is so fucking high at times that I have hard times breathing while I’m in the car, not even mentioning running alongside South Circular. But the most out of place and in some respect humiliating was when he announced that I was getting old and I could be going through early menopause because I had a heat stroke over the summer. Since he is an expert and knows all about heat strokes and menopause, he couldn’t spare me his opinion. He just blurted it out with no consideration of how it could make me feel, his paying client. I don’t give a fuck that he is Jim’s mate. The chauvinistic pig will see none of my money ever again.
I should have left right then and there, but I didn’t. I guess being a “nice girl” sticks to grown women, as much as it does to the young girls. This is undoubtedly not the way I’m going to bring up my daughters. If someone or something makes them uncomfortable, they will need to speak up or leave. Life is too short for accepting and putting up with other’s bullshit. Since I don’t like leaving things on a negative note with people. At the end of the session, I asked him about specific exercise I could do as a part of my training. He quickly scanned the front page of my training program and looked at his wall clock. He didn’t even know how to answer my question and was in such a rush to get me out that it made me feel like I didn’t matter the moment the hour was over. What kind of customer service is that? How dare he or anyone else judge me by my age, pains or family history. Who does that?
After my session with the asshole, I headed off to pick up the girls. I was trying to calm myself down; I didn’t cry, no asshole of such a small proportion can make me cry, but I was unkind to my girls and didn’t allow them to play in the park with their friends. I was so pre-occupied with my inner anger that I didn’t even listen to their stories on our way back.
Women put up with a lot of that kind passive-aggressive bullshit behaviour from blokes who feel entitled to give us their opinions about ourselves, and our life choices. That one was just one of many. However, I have to say that on that very day, something has changed in me. I can’t even put my finger on what that was, but I’m more than sure that I will never again allow any man make me feel uncomfortable, walk all over me, or make me feel like I don’t matter. I didn’t say anything to Jim. I doubt he would have understood. Most likely he would laugh it off and put it down to my vivid imagination and me seeing problems where they do not exist. Besides, I haven’t spoken to him for at least a week. I know he is around, but he gets in when I’m already asleep. And in the morning he is the first one to leave. He must be working on something big, I guess.
Until next week.
So The Drama Begins
October, 4th, 2018
It just occurred to me that I’ve been pretty unhappy recently. Might be that my dissatisfaction with life has always been there, I just never saw it up close like that. The constant anger I carry around is consuming every muscle of my body and every cell of my brain.
I’ve been trying to find the reason for my unhappiness for weeks, and the only thing I can come up with is the fact that the girls are growing up fast and fairly soon they won’t need me as much as they used to. I guess that, subconsciously, I have started wondering what I shall do now with my life and how I can accommodate the fact that both of my girls are at school. I need to decide fairly soon how I want my life to look like.
Jim has been working so late in the past week; the wine keeps me company when the house is all quiet. On the one hand, it is nice to have evenings to myself but on the other, the pickups from the afternoon activities, homework, play dates and bedtime fall all on me, which at times is overwhelming, especially when the girls had a bad day at school and are unsettled.
Luckily, tomorrow I’m seeing my girlfriends. Would you believe if I told you that I hadn’t had a chance to have a morning coffee with them since we started school and already a month has gone by? The four of us have known each other since our kids were in the playgroup together. We like to call ourselves The Kids and the City gang, you know like the Sex and the City but with much less sex and nearly non-existing social life, which has been taken over by the kid’s activities and their birthday parties.
I love my friends; I love spending time with them. It always fills me with positive and refreshing energy that allows me to carry on with whatever shit I have going on in my life.
October, 5th, 2018
My little monsters decided that having a tantrum over who is wearing what to school is the best way to start the day. I wonder if they do it just to see how much they can piss me off.
Jim left when I was in the shower before the tantrum took over our morning. I’ve always found it hard to handle the screaming kids. Jim is so much better at calming them down. But the positive outcome of the morning drama was that neither of them spoke in the car, which gave me a bit of a breather to collect my thoughts.
In comparison to the morning drama, the drop off felt unusually uneventful. For a change, even the gate was opened on time. I didn’t see Christina, which is always nice. She is the leader of the “mean girls club”. School parental politics are very much like the high school political landscape. You must belong to a group and immune yourself to the waterfall of gossips, talking behind people’s back and countless passive-aggressive behaviour parental communities engage in.
Since I didn’t feel like waiting by the gate for everyone to arrive, I made my way to the cafe. Over the summer the cafe had a makeover. There is a new owner and a new menu. I like the newly updated cafe as much as I loved the old one (The only local cafe I don’t like is the one that served me a latte with a hair in it. When I asked for a new one, it wasn’t well received, oh hell no…).
I was so ready to talk, gossip, drink coffee and eat brownies.
The moment I sat down, I started thinking about our life stories and how our current lives seem to be alike. Before we had kids, we all had careers and highly paid jobs. But after kids and maternity leaves, it has been hard for most of us to get back to work and keep our pre-kids high paid jobs.
Currently, most of us either have part times jobs, freelance or started our businesses in hope to turn a profit at some time in the future, hopefully, sooner rather than later.
The whole experience of shunting mothers aside is humiliating and painful. We are all resourceful, creative problem solvers, who can multitask but most of us can’t seem to be able to find well-paid full-time employment because apparently being a mother makes you for some reason unemployable, especially in the higher positions.
I do try to stay positive and not get influenced by the negativity of our situation, but pretty often I feel uneasy, sick, and resentful. My girlfriends and I are real-life examples of inequality.
I was halfway through my brownie when my girls arrived. The moment I saw them, I knew something was seriously off; all three of them were… distressed, the way I haven’t seen them in a long time.
I didn’t even manage to ask what happened when Jenny blurred out “We were late… because… we… love you… and… you need to know…that…that…that…”
“That what Jenny? Spill it out!!!” I hurried her up; I was getting this sick feeling in my stomach. It happens every time I feel something terrible is about to happen.
She took a deep breath and finally said: “Jim… Jim… has been seen a couple of times cosying up to Christina in the city in the past week”.
At first, I had no idea what Jenny was all about, and I just looked at her for a few seconds, trying to figure out how could Jim see Christina if he was working late. But soon enough I understood.