SAHM Going Crazy: 2013 365 Challenge #65

A fraction of the toys used before 9am

A fraction of the toys used before 9am

The kids had started and abandoned about half a dozen games by 9am this morning. I couldn’t keep up. I was a doctor’s patient, a builder, an applier of stickers, a mechanic and a referee. Eventually (I blame the broken night’s sleep) I said “Shall we watch Mr Tumble?” and put the TV on for an hour’s peace. As soon as the TV was switched off I was torn two ways again, trying to do Lego and Bob the Builder building, magic spells and phone conversations.

I’ve been up less than 2 hours and I’m an inch away from running up the garden screaming. There have already been tears! Some days as a SAHM (Stay At Home Mum) are about not falling apart entirely.

I never thought I’d say it but I really miss my job. I miss being useful and appreciated. I miss going for a pee by myself and having access to unlimited hot Costa coffee. I miss the days where I sat at my desk at 8am and didn’t look at the clock until 6pm because I was too busy. I miss meetings, debating marketing plans with adults (well, mostly adults. Sometimes my kids are more rational.) I miss producing reports and presentations and doing something different every day. I miss being listened to and getting to the end of a conversation without interruption. Mostly I miss ‘going to work’ and ‘going home’. Having boundaries between parts of my day, between being on duty and off duty. And of course I miss getting paid!

My Bob Builder boy fixing the stairs (because Daddy hasn't!)

Bob Builder boy fixing the stairs (because Daddy hasn’t!)

Oh well, we’re off to the Farm with any luck, to see some tiny lambs and maybe feed them a bottle of milk. The sun is shining (the tank is clean!) and we’ll all feel better for getting outside.

I just have to stop my son trying to fix the broken banister so I can get him out the door. Some days even that seems beyond my ability. I miss the days I could scoop them up and plonk them in the car seat and they didn’t answer back (and I never thought I’d miss those days! Just goes to show.)

Anyway, sorry for the rant. Normal happy super-mummy will resume soon.

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Claire huddled into the corner of the sofa and pushed her headphones deeper into her ears as a burst of laughter swirled around the room. Even the strident tones of the Red Hot Chili Peppers couldn’t drown out the excited chatter of forty teenagers; or at least the ones not plugged into iPhones, game machines and MP3 players.

In my day we played cards on school trips, or wrote postcards home. Or snogged in the corner. Well, not me, obviously.

She remembered the heavy plastic personal stereo she had owned as a child. The batteries would last one CD, maybe two if she was lucky and didn’t skip to her favourite song too often. For photos it was a 36-exp film, with each photo chosen and taken with care. Next to her on the sofa two girls were giggling over pictures on their smartphones. Judging by how long they’d been doing it they must have taken at least a hundred shots.

I think I’d prefer it if they were all snogging. At least it would be quieter and I could write my post in peace. Isn’t there meant to be a games room in this place? Why aren’t they all down there drinking illicit booze and having crafty fags out the window?

Now she thought about it they all looked far too keen and healthy for hormone-stuffed adolescents, as if they’d rather be dangling from a cliff face than swigging cider out of a 2-litre plastic bottle.

God I feel old.

Claire arched her back like a cat and shifted position. She cursed as her calf tightened and cramped. Twisting awkwardly to free her leg Claire leant forwards and pulled on her foot to stretch out the offending muscle. Her skin prickled as she sensed someone watching her. She looked up and her gaze jolted against the lake-blue eyes of a handsome lad of fifteen or sixteen. He seemed to be scrutinizing a point just below her chin. Claire looked down and realised the boy was staring straight down her cleavage.

Cheeky git. I’m practically old enough to be his mother.

The thought settled in her mind like silt, muddying her tranquil mood.

Oh crap, now I really do feel old.

She glared at the lad who merely chuckled and carried on ogling. Conscious of the heat flooding her cheeks Claire raised an eyebrow in censure then, with a calmness she didn’t feel, turned to gaze out the picture-window at the scenery. It was a magnificent view, framed by a multi-pane window with an arch at the centre. Apparently she could see Mam Tor, whatever that was. Certainly she could see distance and the hills pulled her mind free of the bustling room.

It had been a good day. She’d stopped by Holmfirth after leaving the hostel early, spending a nostalgic hour wandering through scenes from Last of the Summer Wine and remembering Sunday afternoons with Uncle Jim laughing loudly from his beaten-up leather chair. After that she drove to Edale hostel, tucked in at the foot of Kinder Scout. The woman who checked her in had convinced her to walk to the top.

When will I learn? Claire massaged her tight muscles and pulled her face down in a frown. It belied the sensation in her chest, which was closer to happiness than irritation. She tried to analyse the feeling, wondering where happy might have come from after the emotion of the week.

Maybe that’s it. It was nice to spend a day by myself. No one to wind me up or give me grief; no one judging me. Just me and a stupid hill, a few blisters and the wide blue sky.

Claire gave up writing her post. She slid the iPad down the sofa next to her and flicked the music onto something more soothing. Eyes closed against the late sun coming through the window she settled into her seat and drifted away.

***

Happy Birthday WriterMummy! 2013 365 Challenge #64

It's my Birthday (well, WriterMummy's anyway)

It’s my Birthday (well, WriterMummy’s anyway)

WordPress has informed me that my blog is officially a year old today! And what a year it has been. I have journeyed from trying to promote writing tips, through realising I am not qualified to offer writing advice, to writing a daily novel and chatting about my family life.

Twelve months ago this point seemed impossibly distant and yet, little by little, here I am. I have 81 blog followers, I’ve posted 121 times and have had 3267 views. I’ve had as many views so far this year (4th March) as I had for the whole of March 2012. In my former life as a Data Analyst I would call that a good result with clear evidence of growth.

Of course I’m a long way from achieving the holy grail of 1000 True Fans but then I’m also a long way from producing a book worthy of them! I dug out Baby Blues & Wedding Shoes today, to see how far from finished it truly is. The first section is okay – I always start at the beginning when I do revision. I don’t always make it to the end. By the third and final section I was wincing in pain at the clumsiness and sheer awfulness of the prose. I’m embarrassed I asked friends to read it or thought it was ready for querying.

What I need is a plan.

The Crowden YHA - Photo by John Fielding

The Crowden YHA – Photo by John Fielding

When faced with a 116k manuscript the thought of detailed revision cripples me. Also I worry about story arc, character arc and all that stuff. However, if I assume the story is mostly okay (the friends that read it didn’t highlight anything terrible, they just didn’t enthuse, if you know what I mean?) and concentrate on tightening the prose then maybe that will be more manageable. I’m going to treat each scene (there are about 200) as a ‘Claire’ instalment and edit them as such, making sure they have a clear opening and a neat close. It feels a mammoth task but if I am methodical I might actually get to the end this time. So what if it takes another year, at least it won’t be awful. Guess I’ll be putting my self-publish cover away for a little while yet.

On the blog front my little boy has chicken pox, despite being vaccinated, so the posts might be a little bit sparse or rough this week. Today’s post is about grounding Claire back in the YHA hostels and introducing her to Derbyshire. She has about ten days before the Easter holidays (and Sky) so I might have her wander round the Dales for a while. We’ll see.

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“Just yerself is it?”

Claire nodded without raising her head.

“Dorm or private room luv? We’ve got a single room as it happens. Some lass rang in a cancellation this morning.”

Claire paused, pen hovering over the form, then resumed writing. “Dorm is fine, assuming you have single-sex?” I think I’ve had my fill of men this month.

The man behind the counter tapped at his computer and assured her they did. “Staying long in Glossop?”

“Oh no, just tonight thanks.”

The man nodded knowledgeably. “Pennine Way?”

His words drew a reluctant smile. “No, I managed one leg, up at the finish. That was enough for me. I’m heading south to collect my niece.”

She didn’t add that she intended to pick off as many Derbyshire hostels as possible en-route or that her primary concern was to get away from Manchester. After leaving the Airport she hadn’t returned to the city, despite having several hours to kill before she could check into the Crowden Hostel. Instead she’d taken a detour to a hotel outside Hyde that her iPhone informed her boasted a Starbucks. It turned out the hotel also had full leisure facilities and empty rooms. It was only by imagining the look of smug satisfaction on Carl’s face if he ever found out that she stopped herself checking in for the night.

“We’re the first leg, you could always do that and say you’d started and finished. No need to talk of the middle.” The receptionist gave Claire a wink and a grin. She frowned while she tried to remember what they were talking about, then grinned back. A cheater’s version of the Pennine Way. That’s my kind of thinking.

“I might just do that, if I can get it done tomorrow and still move on Edale.”

“Yer heading to Edale? Well that’s the start right enough. Walk from here to there and you’ll be done.”

“Walk with my pack? And what about the car? No thanks. Maybe I’ll wait until I’m in Edale and stroll up the first few miles. That should be plenty.”

“You’ll be spoilt for choice at Edale: Kinder Scout, Mam Tor. You won’t want to leave.”

“Believe me, one night and I’ll be off. I need to be in Cambridgeshire by next week.”

If the receptionist thought Claire’s plans strange he didn’t let on. She was about to leave for her room when he stopped her.

“Make sure you pop by Holmfirth while you’re with us. It’s where they filmed Last of the Summer Wine. Though I suppose you’re too young to remember it?”

Blimey, that takes me back. Uncle Jim must have watched every episode and rerun. Perhaps I will take a look, put something on the blog. It might make Uncle Jim smile wherever he is.

“I will. Thank you.” Claire dug out her brightest smile for the helpful man and pulled her rucksack up onto her back. She felt a decade older than she had twenty-four hours earlier. As she bent over to counter-balance the heavy bag, Claire thought she must look at least ninety.

Nora Batty eat your heart out. All I’m missing is the wrinkly stockings. She shuddered at the thought. At least it hasn’t come to that.

Dragging her lead-filled shoes towards the stairs, Claire tried not to pine for the Leisure Hotel with the Starbucks on-site.

It’s just the hangover wiping me out. I need to feed it carbs and water, that’s all. And then sleep.

***