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Monday, 30 June 2014

I'm not like you...

... you might not be able to spot it, but we aren't the same.  Why?  Because there is something really wrong with me.  Not just me as an individual, I'm talking about me as a friend, me as a lover, me as a mother.  I'm not real.

I read some of the amazing blogs out there, and feel like I'm peeking in someone's window, checking out the incredible meal they've cooked from scratch with all organic and locally sourced ingredients; or the wonderfully wholesome play session they enjoyed with their child involving educational songs and paint all over the ceiling and bright eyes and toothy grins; or spying on the world leaders they've engaged in fruitful discussion, changing all of our lives for the better, while simultaneously being an interesting and witty host for the local and national media who have descended unexpectedly to report on the occasion; or the decrepit stone barn that, in just one long bank holiday weekend, they have transformed into a cosy and welcoming property, complete with a wood burning fire and homemade ... no no, handmade curtains and cushions and bags and bags of character, all for just eleven pounds and sixty eight pence, and the contents of their kindly next-door-neighbour's skip.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This is not my life.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My life is a slowly rusting, constantly squeaking, mostly late and ultimately unreliable merry-go-round of disorganisation and failure.  I cling on with tired fingers even as I wonder why I'm bothering.  Trying to take slow deep breaths, desperately hoping that no one realises I have not got a clue what I'm doing - that somehow I have reached adulthood without actually growing up.  I seem to have got away with it so far, but every day I'm terrified someone will realise that I'm faking, that I don't belong here in this house, with this man, with these children, living this life.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

She bends down to kiss first her son then her daughter on the cheek as they set off on the short walk to school.  Her son glances back over his shoulder, and waves as he sees her watching still, with a wide smile, the same as she did every day until they turn down the path that leads them from her protective gaze...

Nope.

Any morning of the week I might be found searching frantically in the glovebox for chewing gum because I have to pop into the school office to find out if I've paid for a trip yet or not (I have no clue) and I've just realised I spent so long harping on to the kids about how important thorough toothbrushing is that I completely neglected to brush my own.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gently closing the oven door with her knee she sets the timer and begins running the hot water ready to wash up.  The much loved cookery book is returned to the shelf, the treasured cross stitch bookmark carefully replaced to mark the much favoured chicken pie recipe.  As the aroma of warm pastry fills the kitchen, she turns her thoughts to dessert, pondering the relative merits of fresh fruit with cream or ice cream with chocolate sauce...

Nope.

Every time I open the oven to put in a beautifully hand bought in Asda handmade chicken and leek pie into the oven I get a faceful of black smoke caused by the bits of other meals that escaped their plate fate by jumping from the oven tray on to the oven floor.  Once I've coughed and spluttered a bit I find myself wondering if it would be easier to get a new oven rather than trying to clean this one.  I always come to the same conclusion - yes, it would be much easier to buy a new oven, but also considerably more expensive, so I kick the oven door shut and pretend I didn't notice the smoke... what smoke?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

She reclines slowly, long graceful limbs smooth and soft, looking into her husband's eyes with a gentle smile just for him.  As he joins her on the bed she reaches for him, and the rest of the world slowly fades away...

Nope.

I experience never ending guilt about the fact that while Mr Manley seems to absolutely not give a shit about my hairy legs and stretch marks and not in the slightest bit manicured (or would that be topiaried?) lady garden, I tend to spit instead of swallow on the rare occasion that the matter ... ahem ... arises.  It's not as though nothing goes on, it's more that I am selfishly selective in the giving / receiving department.  On reflection, never ending guilt might be a bit of an overstatement - surely if I was that bothered then the spit/swallow decision would need to be made more frequently?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

She hums as she finishes buffing the taps, an old song she remembers from school assemblies.  Looking around the small bathroom, from the spotless porcelain sink to the toiletries carefully arranged in small baskets on the shelves.  Noting that the spare toothbrushes must have migrated to the main bathroom, she adds replacements to her mental shopping list, and snapping off her vivid yellow gloves she sighs with satisfaction at a job well done...

Nope.

I slide the lock on the outside of the little bathroom door when Mr Manley's mum and husband visit - I've been meaning to attack the limescale in that toilet for ages and it has now reached a point where it wouldn't look out of place on one of those Life of Grime type programmes.  I know it only takes a minute to splash the anti limscale cleaner down there, but the only time I think of it is when I've just flushed the loo, and if you do it then it all runs straight down into the bowl, and the scarily grubby under-the-rim bit would not get any of the benefit.  That's okay, my chirpy inner domestic goddess pipes up, let's clean the sink and taps and wipe down those shelves quickly, empty the bin, and by then the bowl will have mostly dried... Unfortunately I don't actually pay the slightest bit of attention to my inner domestic goddess, so I leave the room, promising myself I'll pop back in half an hour, and then it's out of my head, not to reemerge until the next time I flush that toilet, at which point I make an identical decision, which leads to - surprise surprise - an identical outcome.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As she finishes stretching she appreciates her body anew, and as the rhythmic music pulses in her ears she begins to run.  She feels the breeze on her face as the repeative thud of her feet on the pavement matchs her music, and her mind begins to clear as her strides lengthen...

Nope.

Last Thursday I decided that rather than get a lift to the gym, I would walk.  Much healthier.  Only problem was that by the time I got there I was pretty much dripping with sweat already, so I had a very long hot shower and then walked home.  My gym behaviour is closely related to the way I think I'd be in a sex shop - casually walk past, look around furtively before doubling back a few steps and slipping in the door.  Eyes on the floor, pretending to be invisible, shuffle across the room.  At no point make eye contact or speak to anyone, even if especially if you recognise them.  Once business is concluded, exit quickly and do not look back.  Stroll nonchalantly away from the immediate vacinity with entire face glowing like hot coals, dripping with sweat, completely out of breath and legs just a little bit shaky.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

At times I even try and fake being a mum - being the right kind of mum I mean, but of course that's tricky because I hardly know where to begin.  It's such a relief that I no longer have to wait in the playground for the kids to come out of school, sneaking sideways glance at all the other mums with their clothes that match and their make up and their hair styles ... I don't have a hair style - I just have hair on my head that pretty much does what it wants.  I own neither straighteners nor (wait for it...) a hairdryer, and I only brush my hair immediately before, during, and after washing it.

And I call myself a woman - cheek!

In fact I don't call myself a woman.  I'm thirty four, and given a choice of nouns, I would most likely define myself as a girl.  Not through any coy avoidance of allusion to the number of years I've been around, more because a 'woman' is an adult - a grown up, someone who knows what's going on and has some handle on their life.  Half the time I feel like I'm seventeen and somehow no one has noticed that I don't belong here, that I'm pretending to be an ordinary person, that I'm masquerading as normal and somehow - somehow - getting away with it.

I'm not sure which Attenborough it is that does the BBC series and which is an actor (and whether they're both still alive, come to think of it); the whole i before e except after c still confuses me; I didn't really enjoy reading Jane Austen, although I pretended to during A Level Eng Lit; I can't change a car tyre - I wouldn't have a clue where to begin; and I've never yet used the word expedite in a conversation.

Strings of words drift through my mind as I fall asleep, fine and delicate as spider silk, catching the light as the breeze carries them from here to there and back again.  At the mercy of something other than myself, slivers of light dance in the air, energised by hope for the future.  Unaware of my place in the world I hide from the possibilities, afraid of making the wrong choice.  Maybe when I awake everything will be clear and fresh, and I will find a coherent path to follow, no longer looking all around myself and finding only chaos.  Maybe I'll be a grown up, with no need to constantly measure myself against others and always come out wanting.  Maybe if I chase down those dandelion seeds dancing in the breeze I will find answers of my own, a way to join the world on the same terms as others.  But until then, I remain invisible, unsure of each and every step, my only certainty that everyone other than me knows what is going on, and I alone am living a life full to the brim of bravado and mimicry, knowing that soon I will be found out.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


12 comments:

  1. I would love to know where all these perfect wives and mothers are in real life. Because as far as I know they only exist on the internet. Blogdom is a fabulous place.. full of flowers and unicorns and rainbows. A Mum at school was telling us how much her daughters dance lessons cost. At least six mums sighed with relief (me included) that our little ones aren't interested.
    So what if the chicken and leek pie came from ASDA? Everybody's pies come from the supermarket and I defy anyone to say differently. Even if the entire meal - veg too comes out of the freezer and cooks in 30mins. So what! So what if the oven is dirty? you should see mine.. or maybe not.. I tend not to look to hard at it myself. Never know what might be in there....

    Let me tell you my house is a mess, I do not always cook meals from scratch, I went to the gym today for precisely 30mins and went on precisely 2 pieces on equipment.
    Now I'm home collapsed on the sofa.
    Everyone is faking it to one degree or the other. Give yourself a break. You only ever read about the good bits on the internet. Maybe that day they did do all those wonderful things.. and the other 364 days they did what everybody else does :)
    Sending a big hug

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  2. Thank you Karen, seems like I'm not as much the odd one out as I had thought! I find it hugely reassuring that it's not only me who sees these wonder woman as living on another plane, and that there are people out there who have what is probably a healthier attitude to them!
    Thank you for your support Karen, it means a lot.
    Take care
    L

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  3. I don't think there's any such thing as the perfect grown-up and you're not the only one who's faking it! As a child I always thought that my mum knew everything and when I grew up I thought I'd inherit that wisdom too. Turns out she was only pretending to know what she was doing and when I had kids of my own, I soon realised that you don't become worldly wise after giving birth.
    Keep going hun, it's all you can do. Thinking of you x

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    1. Such a relief! Wouldn't it be amazing if we did magically get the answers in the delivery room? Thank you so much Izzie, for taking the time to read and say hi too - seems like there are a few of us faking it out there!
      Take care
      L x

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  4. I have yet to meet the perfect grown up, I think it's all just what it might look like but inside they are just like us have struggles have bad days get things wrong etc. They are just as normal but are better at hiding their normal-ness as perfect is not normal it doesn't exist. Give yourself a pat on the back I bet you are doing better than you give yourself credit for. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

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    1. Thank you Jenny, I'm beginning to think that you're right - that we're all much the same on the inside, and I'm just not very good at seeing past the facade!
      Thank you for hosting Jenny, and take care
      Lucas

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  5. Sweetie - you've just described my life and not the perfect one either. We are clearly ont he same wavelength as I often do this witht he oven too!!! As for the bathroom, I often try to convince myself I'm channeling Damien Hirst or Tracy Emmin - it makes me feel better anyway!!!! Fab post and I think you're bloody fab!!! xxxx #sharewithme

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    1. You have no idea how much better I feel having read this comment - seriously.
      Thank you sweetie
      L x

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  6. Lucas says - well it would appear that you have a bettle grip on things than the Mother. We have a spare room and it's now a blinkin' dumping ground. Everything gets thrown in there and don't get me started on the bathroom!!! High-5's to you but if you're still feeling guilty, have a chat with the Mother. There's no WAY you can be as bad as her!!!! he he #sharewithme

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    1. I wouldn't bet on that, but hey - seems like we're all faking!
      Take care honey, and thank you for popping by and saying hello!
      Lucas

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  7. I think of myself as a girl too and almost do the comedy double take when someone says that woman - I mean, they must mean my mum right?! Then I remember I'm in my late forties and they probably mean me, but oh what the heck I'm a girl at heart and never a grown-up!

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  8. Love this Stephanie - and surely it's what we are at heart that matters so much more than what we may appear to be if you just see our outsides!
    Take care, and you be a girl for as long as you want to!
    Lucas

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