Sunday, March 11, 2007

Life Cycle of a Blog

This blog was born, had a very active life, slowed down and is now in semi-retirement (but then I did tell you that I was a bit like Toad of Toad Hall)! 'Willows' has mostly been a personal journal - a diary of events and thought-processes. Whilst I continue to experience events and to think, I seem to have lost the ability to make the time to record all of this on my blog.

I have been reading some of my previous posts today - it's great when you read something that you've forgotten you'd ever written. Sometimes I've come across posts that make me think 'crumbs, did I really admit to that' - and they make me feel a bit embarassed.

Anyway, I'm torn between occassionally posting on this moribund blog and declaring it officially closed and starting a new one - I have ambitions to begin a new and different style of blog - one that's less centred on 'moi'. It was vital to me that 'Willows' was 'me-centred' as I wanted it to provide an insight into 'me' as a 'leaf' on my family tree (and not because I'm a total egotist)! 'Willows' is a snapshot of the life of Ruth in her late 30s. I'll look back and read it as you read an old journal.

But for now I'm going to leave it at least for a while, I think.

I have relished every single comment that I've ever had on this blog and thank you all for contributing. I'm not saying 'goodbye', because I'm not stopping blogging. I'm just giving this particular blog a rest. So 'toodlepip' and I'll maybe see you round at your place / space / blog!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The hand that rocks the cradle....

If you read this:

you'll learn that women with young children face more discrimination in the workplace than disabled people or those from ethnic minorities.

When I read this, I had expected to learn that jobs were simply not tailored to suit mothers with young children, deterring them from applying for posts in the first place (indirect discrimination). I thought I'd read, for example, that employers were reluctant to employ part-timers, or to reduce the need for overnight travel in jobs, but, no. Recent research cites a survey of 122 recruitment agencies that revealed more than 70% of them had been asked by clients to avoid hiring pregnant women or those of childbearing age. So we're talking 'direct discrimation' against women - they are being sifted out of the workplace purely on the basis of their gender. That alarmed me.

Lots of my friends work (some have children, others don't). Many of them offer an unsurpassable service to society - as teachers, doctors, nurses.... (I know lots of teachers, doctors and nurses, for some reason...)

I, on the other hand, am a 'stay at home mum'. I am a SAHM simply because that is what I wanted to be when I had children and we are darn lucky enough to be able to survive (just) on one income. Sometimes I wish that I worked part time - I sometimes think that I'd have more energy for the children if I had a little 'time off' at work (!!!), and I'd like to add to the coffers. Furthermore, though, there are times when I feel that my role is undervalued. I feel undervalued by the apparent lack of recognition of how difficult it is to find child-care that equals or beats the care I can give my children, as their mother. And also by the number of times people expect that I might be able to volunteer to do things (like clean the church) because "I don't work".

In the light of the article above, news commentators have been saying that highly educated and competent women are being denied the opportunity to contribute to society by workplace discrimination. That statement is true, but don't under-estimate the contribution to society some of us are making by devoting our energies to bringing up children.

And, even more importantly, could we be given real choice, please. It is seen as a privilege now to be able to stay at home with children if that's where your vocation lies. Not everyone can marry Rockerfella, and I'd like to see something done so that all mothers have the option to be the sole-carer for their offspring if that's what they want.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I'd like to thank the Lord for gift of being able to lie

.... but I'd better not as, clearly, he'd rather we didn't.

What a shame. I think that the art of being able to lie convincingly is a wonderful way of keeping the waters calm in a relationship.

'Do you like my new dress?'

Now, I don't know about you, but I'd much prefer a blatant lie - something along the lines of:
'it's a stunning dress and you look gorgeous', to this kind of truth:

'It's a beautiful shade of yellow'.

There's lots more I could say, but I'm sorry, I must dash - and that's no word of a lie!

The Harsh Lessons Of Life

My dear son (aged 5) was looking down at heal. I asked him why and he replied, in a sad whine, that his woodlice had died. (I didn't correct his grammar; I also call them woodlice when they are singular, as I don't like the word 'louse'', and I say 'a dice' too).

I'd seen him frollicking around with a woodlice in the living room the other day (in sofar as you can frollick with an insect). I didn't realise he'd adopted it as a pet. But he had. He'd put it in a tray in his bedroom and tended to its every need for a period of about 48 hours.

'It died in the night', he said. I nodded sadly. I wanted to share in his grief, but at the same time 'move him on' very quickly.

'Never mind. You can always find another one.' I said. His face lit up.

'Yes!' he exclaimed. 'Or I could find a beetle!'

As long as he remembers that in my house '0 - 6 legs: good; 8 legs: bad', we'll all be ok! (Seven legs also = bad. I take 'seven legs' as a spider that's lost a leg, not a beetle that came with an extra one).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Oh, Such a Perfect Day

Dear Diary..

I just want to record a little piece about yesterday, for posterity.

It was such a lovely day.

Michael had an inset day - no school. Mario had taken the day off work and he looked after Isabel, allowing me to take Michael into town. First, the Science Museum (floors 4 and 5 - always totally deserted, amazingly, as these are by far the most interesting floors of the museum - maybe people suffer from altitude sickness up there)! He marvelled at the 'blood, bones and body bits' (as he called them) in the medical and veterinary sections - finding the mock-up of the nineteenth century dentist's surgery most interesting. I noticed that nothing of any of it scared him - he doesn't seem to get spooked.

The basement of the museum, where the children can 'learn through play', was jam-packed with crowds (I'd expected a quiet day, but clearly there were lots of 'inset days' going on yesterday)!! So we abandonned the museum and went for a McDonalds (groan - it was what he wanted and it's a very rare 'treat'. I had to look for the silver lining - it was cheap and quick). And then off, on a double decker bus, to ...... Chappells music shop. It turns out that we BOTH love it in there! He had lots of goes at playing lots of electronic pianos (with earphones) and drum kits (with earphones) - and we spent ages in there - they even let him use the staff loo!

It was now ice cream time and then home. Or so I thought. I just knew that Selfridges would have an ice cream parlour - and it did. And imagine my delight when my sister rang to say that 'her meeting had been cancelled and she could meet us for a pizza after work'! Another double decker bus ride to Westminster with time for a walk along the Thames before spending some considerable time in Dr Sister's office, examining her super-dooper, multi-headed hydra, I mean, microscope. Was ever a boy entranced?!

I over-heard Michael in the playground this morning, raving to a classmate about the microscope. It was the last thing he mentioned to me before going to sleep last night, and it was the first thing he mentioned to me this morning. I heard him talking to himself at length about it this evening as he was getting ready for bed.

I'm not going to mention that we returned home later than planned, that he was totally whacked and that, consequently, he has been the grumpiest of all bears this evening! It was a one-off - and there's nothing like making memories...

Friday, February 16, 2007

I wonder...

....I wonder whether I oughtn't to be doing more with my life. I think that I'm 'happy' and I know that things could be worse. I'm grateful for everything that I have - from the water in the tap to the husband whose currently fixing said tap.

But I am a bit bored, if the truth be known. Now, I know that excitement's not always all that it's cracked up to be (we've had a fair bit of the wrong sort of excitement around here in the past few weeks, what with one thing and another - think gastro-enteritis and you'll be not far wrong). But, to be quite honest, being in a total rut is not much fun either - and a rut is what I think I'm in at the moment.

I'm bored.

In the past, when I've felt in a rut, I've changed my job, my boyfriend, taken myself off on holiday or found a new hobby. I've been in ruts before, but I've climbed out of them.

But I'm a married, stay-at-home-mum now - and I'm delighted to be so. It does make climbing from a rut a little more difficult though. Today's method of dealing with my rut is to shout at everyone -and that's not good. Not good at all. Tomorrow, I may have a couple of hours to myself and I've tried to find a concert in London that I could attend (lunch-time), but to no avail (I've this strong desire to sit on a uncomfortable chair and not even notice that my bottie's gone to sleep as I'm transported away by voilins, cellos and kettle drums - extra 'brownie points' if the drummer's stick accidentally whizzes out of his hand and towards the conductor, and even more 'brownie points' if the conductor is the type whose dripping perspiration showers those on the front row!!)

Oh I don't know what to do. Have my hair cut, perhaps?

Isabel's filled her nappy. So before I do anything, I'd better get that changed!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

And it's Brennon on the Moor...

Radio 4, 5.55pm yesterday, gave the best 'and finally..' ever to a news programme. Listeners were treated to a hefty snippet of the old school-children's favourite programme: "Singing Together" (from 1967). We were invited to repeat the lines of a song once or twice so that, I feel certain, when the programme closed, everyone listening was giving a rousing rendition of:

"And it's Brennon on the moor,
Brennon on the moor,
Bold, gay, dauntless, stood
Young Brennon on the moor"

Maybe you 'had to be there', but it was grand! And following our national chorus of this fine Irish ballad (albeit from our many and varied and separate kitchens and dining rooms), the news-reader simply closed the show with the words: "singing together".

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Big Brother

Hah. Two Orwellian blog-post titles in a row.

I watched snippets of Celebrity Big Brother when it began a week or so ago - I switched off for good when the editors allowed one very unpleasant contestant, who decided that she was unable to pronounce Shilpa's name, to hog the limelight.

Apparently many celebrities who take part in this so-called 'social experiment' (an experiment that really did not need repeating more than once, in my opinion) enter the show so that the public can see 'what they are really like'. Well, we've seen that now, haven't we!