Supermarket Fury

Going to the supermarket. Christ, is there anything worse? They just get bigger and bigger and when I finally leave I’ve lost 3 hours and wonder if I’ve been abducted by aliens. I know, I know. I’m lucky to have a supermarket to go to. Nonetheless. I feel like I am there every single day of my godless life. And you can’t just go in and buy the one thing you actually need, or at least I can’t, there are always half a dozen other things. Ooh, that’s on sale! Ooh, that’ll be good for dinner! Ooh, my favorite piece of junk food that is not at all good for me but I like to eat anyway! So, even though all I freaking needed was a loaf of bread that I can buy for 40 pence- I end up leaving with £35 worth of groceries. Granted, I buy a lot of reduced stuff that can be frozen and used for future meals, so I save money in the long run. I’m trying to bring my family round to trying the paleo diet, which I gather is just meat and veg and the money I’d save by shopping at the green grocer and the butcher and never setting foot in a supermarket makes me giddy with possibilities, I might finally be able to fix my sons bike! Lo and behold my family likes their carbs, thank you very much, so I may have to employ the use of stealth when making the switch. Though there is always the possibility of the old “I’m paying for the groceries, if you don’t like what I’m buying, get a job and buy your own.” That tends to stop the whining in it’s tracks…

What annoyed me recently (well, ok, a month ago) at the supermarket was the cashier. Usually they just ring the stuff up and make small talk (occasionally with me, usually with a colleague or the customer in front who won’t pick up their damn bags and GO already) but this one decided she needed to comment about what we were buying. Grrr. We’d gone in for only a few items but I’d come across quite a few sale items, of course. So we had three boxes of ice cream bars at 50 pence each for the kids, an apple tart that I thought would be a nice dessert one night for £1. Two boxes of my favorite cornettos, 2 for £2. And some other bits and bobs. Yes, there was a bit of junk. I joked about it to my husband. Yet this cashier decided she need to tell me all about weight watchers. And how half her grocery shopping is always vegetables. I tried to keep things light, and said something about how it’ll be nice when the kids go back to school and arent clamoring for ice cream all the time. To which she replied “Well that’s when you tell them they can have a piece of fruit!”

Sorry, guys. Kids with fat mommies aren't allowed ice cream!

This annoyed me. I didn’t say anything to her, other than just a “Oh, I do!” but the sheer audacity pissed me off. Why pass judgement on my purchases? I have three slim, healthy, active children. One of which prefers to snack on carrots more than anything else, and two who love salad and always have seconds. They arent allowed to drink soda, fast food is a rare treat and all their regular meals are homemade. They get told “If you’re that hungry, have a carrot or a piece of fruit” six times a day. The only one who eats to much junk in my household is me. And clearly I am an adult and perfectly capable of deciding for myself what and how much I eat. I have one child who hates fruit and veg and would prefer to eat junk all day. I don’t allow this. His favorite breakfast item is cereal, which I rarely buy. He has to eat more healthy food. If he doesnt eat his carrots at dinner, he gets no dessert, etc.

I suppose people just like to feel superior and I shouldn’t be offended, but it seems to illustrate once again that fat people are fair game for ridicule. I know I’m fat, I promise I’m not stupid and I really don’t need a lecture from the cashier on the value of eating vegetables. Neither do I need random people assuming that since I am fat, I am a simpleton incapable of appropriate parenting, especially as how the 6 year old next door is never without a can of coke and a packet of sweets, though his mom is thin as a rail. Shockingly enough, I don’t sit around eating junk and watching daytime telly all day, either.

So what I’d like to say to that cashier is this: “Look bitch, it’s the middle of August, the kids are off school and if I want to give them some damn ice cream, I will. And, by virtue of not being stupid, I know exactly how to lose weight when and if I choose to, so I really don’t need you to lecture me about weight watchers and fucking vegetables.”


Jason R. circa 1994-6

I imagine that, as with all things we imagine to be unique to ourselves and which turn out to be quite universal, actually, that we all have a connection with a certain name. A name we encounter over and over again throughout the course of our lives. For a long while, that name for me was Jason.

According to the hallowed hall of general knowledge that is Wikipedia, “Jason was a late ancient Greek mythological hero, famous as the leader of the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece…” There has also been a King Jason, a High Priest Jason, a philosopher Jason, a cat, a power ranger, a rocket, a government advisory group and perhaps most infamous, an ax murderer, all named Jason.

My first kiss was a boy named Daniel, my 2nd was a friend named Jason Cox, who lived around the corner from me. There was also Jason H., Jason Coffey, Jason R., Jason’s whose last names I have long forgotten and of course, Jaylin Jones, who I always counted as one of the Jason’s.

Jason R. was perhaps the one who meant the most to me and perhaps my first love. He was neither a greek hero, a king or a priest. He had short brown hair, sparkling deep brown eyes, like chocolate, a nose that I’d recognize even now and a smile that was so natural and bright enough to light up a room. I met him at a mall. I was a runaway, and had come to my favorite hangout to get away from my vicious siblings and indifferent parents. I was hungry, and needed a place to stay for the night. I was not the hiding and sleeping in the mall type, though I suppose I would have been up for it if someone else suggested it. Jason was sitting by himself in the food court, eating chinese. I brazenly walked up, sat in the chair across from him and asked if he would share his egg roll with me, which he did. Soon he introduced me to his friends who turned up at some point and these guys became my best friends, who I lied to and hurt repeatedly and for years.

Jason and I played leap frog along the canal as we walked from the mall to the apartments where a few of the guys lived. Three of them took me in, and it makes me very sad to realize that I don’t remember their names. They were from California, didn’t believe in microwaves and had an aquarium. I remember that I was supposed to make breakfast for them as my way of paying rent, but that was quickly forgotten around the first time I tried to make bacon on the stove top, after years of watching my dad cook it in the microwave… They had a black cat named el gato. We once all got very high together and figured out the secrets of the universe in one night, of course I have long forgotten those secrets, though aliens were definitely involved. They were really good guys and I hope they are having excellent lives somewhere.

Jason and I didn’t see each other very often, he was going to school and lived a little distance away, but when we did it was good, like we were drawn together and we fit together like puzzle pieces. The last time I saw him, it was outside the same mall I had met him, he saw me and shouted my name and grabbed me in an embrace that was like being home, the world calm and still and warm, all exactly as it should be. I had to wrench myself away and I might have cried if I had known the next time I saw him would be nearly 16 years later, on the Department of Corrections website, wearing the same orange jumpsuit that all prisoners wear and with the sparkle in his eyes long gone.

When I first saw that picture I felt a longing to reach out to him, write him a letter, tell him I was married, living in England with three children. All grown up, if you will. I suppose I thought it would be important to him, me reaching out from the past, perhaps even comforting. The girl with whom he had once sat in a closet for hours talking about his family, his fears and hopes and dreams, even reciting poetry. Of course he might also not remember me at all, the look in his eyes was one I associated with long time huffers, completely vacant. Though I wanted to write the letter, and did write one, I could see no point in sending it. This was not a person I wanted in my life, and had I sent the letter I probably would not have even included a return address. Perhaps I really had grown up, and grown out of needing these people, who I once adored.

I believe Jason has probably been released now, and I wish him well, though my heart aches that his life has not turned out the way he would’ve wanted.

Thanks for the egg roll, and the memories.


I feel… trapped. Imprisoned. My chains? No, not the children. Not even the husband. Religion? Nope. Gender? Not in the west in 2011. So, why? How can I feel trapped? I have a roof over my head, food in my ample belly. Opportunities that women in other countries can only dream of. How can I feel trapped?

I think to myself that I am limited by my bank account, that I want to get on a boat or a train and see the world, I want my only limits to what I can do, to what my family can do, to be our imaginations. I think I want to grab life by the horns and live it to the absolute fullest and if only I had a few million in the bank, I could.

Other days I don’t want that at all, I want nothing more than a big house in the country, surrounded by fields and to spend my days pottering around my large kitchen, or lounging in my library, reading or writing. Having huge holiday celebrations and family reunions and just…living a good, content, full life.

Alas, both options require money. I am not sure why my life in its current state cannot content me. My children are healthy, intelligent, beautiful. My husband is caring and loyal. Even on the days when the cupboard and the fridge is full, there is plenty of money in the bank account, the bills are paid and my hair is clean and shiny, I still feel…unfulfilled. As if something is missing and I can’t work out what it is. A sense of purpose? Perhaps. Security? Independence? Perhaps.

I feel as if I am living constantly in the house of cards my teenage son constructed this summer, stuck at home with a broken leg and a pack of cards I had just handed him. He had never built one before and even the slightest hint of a breath would send it tumbling to the floor. I can’t get that feeling out of my head. Every day I become more certain that I never will. No matter how successful I might ever become, or how much money amasses in my bank account, no matter what great things my children persue in their lives, I fear that I will never escape that feeling of everything tumbling down around me at the slightest hint of a breath. That no matter how many pills I take or counseling I have, I will never feel happy with myself or my life.

I wonder why this is? Is it because I was unhappy as a child? Bullied incessantly at school and disliked at home? Have I become conditioned to feel this way? Certain that any feeling of happiness or pleasure is a sign of a great wind bearing down on my house of cards. Is it because there is some fundamental glitch in my programming?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, only that as I get older (Hello, 30! See you soon!) they become more pressing, more relevant. I wonder if it is perhaps a part of growing up, and that perhaps I will grow out of it, as indeed I grew out of my “I know everything, nobody can tell me what to do, it’s MY life so fuck off” teenage years.

On the bad days, the ones where for whatever reason I have found myself lying in bed at 11am, sobbing uncontrollably, the black hole in my chest absorbing light and life and threatening to consume every ounce of me, I find myself wanting nothing more then to go home.

“I want to go home.” I sob in to my husband’s chest hair, helpless and small and wishing I could melt into him, not understanding why I’m saying it, why my heart is feeling it. There is nothing left for me there. I think if I were to die suddenly I would not want to be returned there, to travel 6000 miles in a box and be buried so far from the people that love me the most, so why do I long to be back there in my darkest days? Perhaps what is calling to me is the desert which I love so much, the free and open spaces where I could never feel trapped or confined, where I could climb a mountain and watch the sunrise over the peaks and cactus. Even standing on the shores of Great Britain, gazing into the Atlantic Ocean, where there is nothing but sea and sky before me, I feel trapped. An island full of unfamiliar people behind me, a vast inhospitable sea before me.

I wonder if I will ever leave this country again, if I will ever leave behind the feeling of being imprisoned and lost within myself.

First Day of School-2011

Devon, 14- year 10
Olivia,11- year 7

Senior School!

I see the potential, the possibilities of a world at your feet in this picture and I am torn. Most of me wants to remind them to put their best foot forward (“You mean my left one?” -Devon, 12) and have a good day, while a not so small part wants to pull them into my lap, hold them close and never let them go.

15 years ago, I was 14, and I was pregnant. I often feel as if I am living my life backwards, and as my big kids get bigger my sleepless nights become more frequent and I worry. Both so strong minded and independent, what if they run away, as I did all those years ago? What if they get mixed up with the wrong kids and start drinking or smoking? What if they start having sex?

Seriously, my kitchen is a disaster area.

“I can’t.”

Oh, I can’t even tell you the amount of times I have uttered those two little words in my mind over the last six months or so. I can’t. is what makes me retreat to my bed and curl up under my big fluffy duvet and close my eyes, sometimes sleeping, sometimes crying, sometimes just… laying. Not studying, not writing the assignments that are majorily overdue, not sorting out my kitchen which is still in post move chaos.

I suppose things are not so bleak as previously. I smile and laugh with my children, and enjoy our evening strolls.  I get up early, much as I did before…all this… and the baby and I water the flowers and make breakfast and it is nice. But when the children have gone to school or out to play and the husband is busy and I am faced with the neccessity of working, I freeze up. I can’t. I just can’t.     I make halfhearted efforts to whip the kitchen into shape and congratulate myself when I have cleared some counter space, only to feel dejected when just 12 hours later, it is a mess again. I get out the textbooks and do some reading, but after about 5 pages, realize I have no idea what is being discussed and no understanding of the concepts being explained. I start work on a research report, now 2 months overdue, and freeze 10 words in. I just don’t know what to write, or how to write it.

My doctor told me I had severe depression (what does that even mean?) and that my brain wasn’t working right and I needed to take a break from my studies. I couldn’t bear to do that, so I kept on, and now I’m in a gigantic hole that I can’t seem to climb out of.

This degree means so much to me and I am so dearly afraid it is slipping out of my grasp. At some point after my husband hung my whiteboard over my desk, my kids and my husband wrote messages on it. They say “You can do it!”  “You know you can do it, silly!” “PASS!” and lots of smiley faces.   When I saw that for the first time, my heart leapt. I am so so lucky to have them. They believe in me, and they love me and I don’t want to let them down. Yet, that seems to be the only thing I feel I actually can do at the moment.

I am here. I feel a bit like I’m glued to the seat of the roundabout in my kids favorite park. Just endlessly spinning round and round, dizzy and unable to focus on anything. But, I am here.

And, I have chocolate.



"If just one person believes in you, deep enough and strong enough..."

I can’t.

If there were ever two words to describe what depression feels like.


Oh, the things they say.

Rafe, 5, in the bath-
“Who let the dogs out? Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo!

Olivia, 11, on a screaming match with her 14 year old brother-
“Well, APPARRANTLY, I am a freak, a cirque de freak ANNNNND a JERK!”

Devon, 14, on why he should not have to help with the dishes-
“WHAT? My leg hurts!!”
Me- “That didn’t stop you going to your best friends house for two hours.”
Devon- “Yeh, but it hurts now
Me- “Tough Bananas, GO.”
Devon- drags himself on his stomach into the kitchen, moaning theatrically the whole way.

Rafe, 5, on birthday presents
“Mommy, I will get you a big trophy! That says “Happy Birthday AND I love you! FROM- TESCO’S!!!”

I’m not sure if he meant it would actually say from Tesco or that it would be purchased from Tesco. You can’t tell with that kid, he has an evil sense of humour.

What it means to be a mother:

It means that

A) When your five year old is joyfully riding his scooter along in the lovely weather after having had a nice long walk with mommy and suddenly hits something unexpected and upends- throwing himself and the scooter full bodied to the ground- you walk, you don’t run. Even though visions of busted teeth and bloodied noses and awkwardly hanging limbs are running through your mind. You gently pull him up and hug him close and whisper “it’s ok” and kiss his scrapes, make silly jokes and carry him and the scooter the rest of the way down the hill. So that five minutes later he asks to go the long way home so he can ride his scooter and 15 minutes later, it is long forgotten as he races inside the house to find an ice pop.

B) When it is 10:00pm and you’ve been up since sometime around 6 and you haven’t stopped all day and you feel like crap and all you want to do is go to bed and your damn bladder is screaming at you- you make hot water bottles because the kids legs hurt, you give the teenager 3 Ibuprofen and two night nurse tablets because his broken leg is aching and he feels awful, then you get halfway up the stairs and kick yourself and go back down to get him the flashlight, leave more pills and a glass of water within easy reach in case he wakes up in pain during the night, then hug and kiss him, say good night and ask three times if he’ll be ok.

C) Then find the liquid ibuprofen for the pre-teen girl who hates taking swallowing pills and dose her up because her not broken leg aches and also her side hurts (no, she doesn’t know what she did to it) even though she took a hot bath and has a hot water bottle. Finally you pee, brush your teeth and then go back down to check on the teenager, back up to check the little one is still asleep, breathing and hasn’t fallen out the window or something then back to the girls room because she needs something or because you spent more time saying good night to another child then you did to her, at which point you make a huge song and dance (literally, people) out of saying good night to her to make her smile, before finally collapsing into bed.

D) Get up five minutes later because there is a cat somewhere that desperately needs to be relocated somewhere else or a child somewhere desperately needs a drink of water or because you desperately need to make sure you checked all the doors for the third time so an axe murderer can’t get in while you sleep.

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