International Man of Mystery?

My husband travels a lot for his job and doesn’t know from one week to the next what country he will be visiting. As his wife and mother to his two children, I accept my fate and get on with the day-to-day running of the house with good grace – in my opinion – and a certain amount of humour. 

However, sometimes the day-to-day monotony and reality of my life brings with it a smattering of resentment at my Other Half’s glamourous, jet-set life of hotels, exotic destinations (apart from Brighton last week) and fancy restaurants (although he says it is all conference meeting rooms and dining alone).

This week I have single-handedly supported my children in a variety of end-of-term concerts and showcases, from singing festivals to gymnastics competitions. It was during such an event – the orchestra concert in which my oldest was playing the flute and performing a recorder solo – that a good friend of mine enquired where my OH was this week. He happened to be in Manchester – not that thrilling – but she then casually questioned whether he is flogging lasers to doctors for eye surgery as he claims or if he is really a secret agent on various missions for queen and country.

That evening, I looked at him in a slightly different light when he staggered in, complaining about an apparent traffic jam on the M1. His hair was ruffled – perhaps from the wind thrown up by the rotor blades of his helicopter? Other things were apparent: he always has a suitcase packed and ready to go in the corner of the bedroom, so that he can leave at a moment’s notice, and he often gets urgent calls “from work” late at night… 

Of course, there are also a few minor holes in my friend’s theory. First of all, my husband is South African and therefore feels very little allegiance to the Queen. Secondly, he gags and retches just taking out the bins, so would be useless in the field amid the carnage of battle. And thirdly, he is never on time for anything, so would likely miss the action by a good half an hour.

Even so, I won’t use his new pen in case it explodes.

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Notes from my Bookshelf #3: “Gone Again”

I finished reading “Gone Again” by Doug Johnstone last night and I have to say, it took me a matter of days to read it because I couldn’t put it down. A really fast-paced, no-nonsense thriller in which you find yourself in the shoes of the main character – just the kind of book I love.

This is a clever thriller that starts with Mark Douglas discovering his wife has gone missing when she doesn’t collect their six-year-old son from school. The police are disinterested initially, especially since she has disappeared before, but Mark takes it upon himself to try and find her. There are some startling twists and turns in the narrative, and you really empathise with Mark, praying he doesn’t do anything silly, but feeling for him when he does and acts on instinct. What really struck a chord with me was how Mark has to juggle worry for his wife with managing his son’s feelings and expectations.

It is a cracking read from start to finish – highly recommended!

Laughter is the Best Medicine

My six-year-old daughter has been trying to make me laugh all afternoon. However, because I do not find her silly faces and ridiculous dance moves in the frozen food aisle of the supermarket the least bit funny, she declared, “Mum, you never laugh.”

This is not true. In fact, I have been known to laugh until a little bit of wee comes out on numerous occasions, usually inappropriately. However, upon reflection, it is true that I don’t laugh as much when it comes to my children, which is quite a sobering thought. This is usually because I am the “bad cop” of the house, the one who instills law and order, who lays down the rules, and dishes out the punishments, while my Other Half is Mr Fun, the Tickle Monster, the “let’s run through the lounge throwing a rugby ball to each other” guy.

My children don’t get to see my silly side very often – when I am a bottle of prosecco down and laughing with abandonment while dancing at a friend’s birthday ceilidh, or sniggering uncontrollably at the school quiz night. When we went on holiday with friends over the Jubilee, I laughed so much that I literally returned home with aching cheeks and sore stomach muscles.

I do find my children funny, but usually it is at something they have done that shouldn’t be funny. Like when my toddler, when toilet training, sat on the loo without checking her training seat was in place and fell into the toilet. Or when the same toddler ran full-speed into the glass doors in the Apple Store in Boston and knocked herself off her feet. Or when my older daughter sledged into a tree, closely followed by her father.

All of these things are very funny; listening to a nine-year-old’s attempts at telling jokes is not. That said, I really should just let my hair down and relax a bit more with the kids as I’m sure they think I am dull and boring. Recently, I suggested we have a handstand competition late one Friday night and their faces lit up (yes, I had had a couple of glasses of wine and it seemed like a good idea t the time until I fell on my head) because Mum was being silly.

Of course, if I start playing the “good cop”, Mr Fun is going to have to take over as “bad cop” and I sense it could go all “Police Academy” in our house. Chances are none of us will make it out in one piece.