The Wordsmythe's Weblog…

…On Words, Love and Life

Archive for the month “July, 2013”

School’s out: A lie-in, a lie.

The last few weeks have dragged on languorously. Temperatures on migration from the tropics have made a brief stop in the UK. Sweltering hot days and muggy humid nights. Our cries for respite from an unending winter have been heard. But we are unsure whether to grumble or be grateful. Too much of a good thing can be just as bad as none of it.

Holiday. A welcome break. No school runs. No early mornings. No more after-school activities. Days out and trips away. Expectations of fun and laughter.

Day 1. Hopes for a lie-in dashed by whispered questions, are we going out today?, can I play your Kindle Fire?, when are you coming downstairs, Mama? Hopes for a day out at the splash park dashed by overcast skies. The sun peeps through heavy clouds, shy, reticent and non-committal.

Yet the boundless resilience of childhood will not be put off. That unquenchable thirst for adventure. 20130725_143603The buoyancy of childlike imagination kicks in. A living room is turned into a movie theatre, complete with drawn blinds, sound effects and popcorn. A back garden becomes an enchanted forest and they, dragon-slaying knights. Shrieks of merriment rent the air.

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They call me Mummy

Throbbing feet. Languid, aching bones. I feel the start of a headache coming on. But I won’t stop until it’s all done. The cooking. The cleaning. The picking up and putting away of little clothes, shoes, toys and books. The laundry. And all the other chores that make the home appear to run seamlessly.

Wincing in pain, I reach into the medicine cupboard and pop two analgesics into my mouth. I’m exhausted beyond words. I long for my bed. Or even a sofa. And a stool to prop my feet up and take a load off. Downtime. I’m almost there. The light at the end of tunnel is getting brighter. Just a couple more chores.

Super mumI stand back and survey the works of my hands. I take in the clean kitchen, tidy living room, bedrooms with made beds and everything in its place. Finally. I’m done. Dear sofa, here I come. As I make to lower myself into the waiting arms of the sofa and the stool sends my feet a ‘come hither’ look, “Mummy, please can we go to the park?”

Two tiny voices. Two earnest facial expressions. Doe-eyed, hopeful, expectant, barely concealed anticipation. “Please, Mama, we really, really, really want to.” One with hands clasped, the other tugs on my skirt. “We’ll be good, we promise. Please.”

I look at my sofa. With longing. I turn to the boys. They look at me. With longing. My aching bones creak in protest. My throbbing feet feel like my heart has relocated from my rib cage and made its new home there. That onset of a headache is now a full-blown splitting one. Everything in me is kicking against considering this request, much less granting it. On the tip of my tongue are a thousand and one reasons to say no. I quash them.

“Ok but we won’t stay very long…” Their screams of joy drown out the rest of my words. ‘I’m tired’ doesn’t get heard much less acknowledged. They are already putting on their shoes and arming themselves with all the paraphernalia that make for a successful park outing. Footballs, frisbees and food. Now dancing at the front door, giggling in excitement, waiting to be let out.

I look at the sofa again. Its forlorn gaze meets mine. But it understands. I am a mum. And this is what mums do. Tired is nothing when you have children.

At the lakes


People who insert themselves into other people’s moments.

I thought long and hard about an appropriate title for this post and all I could come up with was this one which reminds me of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s latest novel, Americanah. Ifemelu, the protagonist, maintains a blog called, “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black” and her post titles are equally as long. Ifemelu’s blog became so popular, it earned her a decent sum of money and invitations to speak at events. Perhaps this is the way forward, long titles. Perhaps I should change the name of my blog to something much longer. What do you think of ‘The thoughts, words, love and life of a vacansopapurosophobic logophile’? Nah! I think I’ll stick with ‘The Wordsmythe’s Weblog’.

So what does this post have to do with Ifemelu? Not much besides the length of its title. It’s more to do with something I’ve observed over and over again.

You’ve had a really bad day. You call a friend to tell them all about it in the hope that they’ll say something to cheer you up. The words are hardly out of your mouth before, they butt in and start to tell you about the time they had an even worse day than yours.

You’re at a social gathering, making small talk with a group of strangers. To break the ice, you share an anecdote about something that happened to you. As the others laugh politely, someone else picks up the story and recounts a similar experience, their telling of it rendering yours inconsequential compared to theirs.

Someone is congratulating you about some great achievement you’ve accomplished but you can’t get a word in edgeways. They want to tell you all about their own achievement which makes yours appear much smaller in comparison.

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? Have you been at the receiving end? Or are you guilty of doing this?

butting_goatsSome people seem to have this compulsive need to rewrite you out of your story and insert themselves as the protagonist. They are adept at photobombing your photos. There is nothing that you have experienced that they haven’t, and to a greater degree too. There is no sorrow, no joy, no tragedy, no triumph that can be yours alone without them somehow being in the picture. It can be frustrating to have your moment taken over by someone else particularly when they aren’t currently experiencing the emotions you are at the time.

People who do this just won’t let you have your moment of whatever it may be at the time – sorrow, pain, exasperation, success, failure etc. It’s like a competition for them. I couldn’t say for sure if the culprits are aware they do it but that doesn’t excuse them. If they are, it makes them conniving and manipulative. If they aren’t, it still makes them self-centred and a bit narcissistic. I also think it is selfish and inconsiderate to always make everything about oneself.

Everyone needs space and time for expression. It fuels esteem which is a basic human need. Esteem presents the typical human desire to be accepted and valued by others. We each need to feel that we are worth being listened to and heard, that what we have to say is important, if not to the whole world, definitely to a couple of people. And we are each entitled to have a moment or two all to ourselves without being forced to share it with someone else irrespective of whether they have or have had a similar moment. Sometimes just having someone listen to us is all that is required to feel better, to get a better perspective and/or to find the strength to carry on.

interrupting1So the next time someone calls you to talk about their rotten or great day, restrain yourself from shoving them off the stage and jumping on with your own monologue. It’s their moment, don’t try to make it yours.The next time someone’s recounting of an anecdote reminds you of a similar experience, rein yourself in from butting in. Let them have their moment. Don’t steal their thunder. It’s rather annoying.

Rant over.

Tara for now.

Images Courtesy of Google





Of Omphaloskepsis and Vacansopapurosophobia

My last post was in May. The reasons for this are myriad, some cogent and valid, others less so. The longer I left updating, the harder it got. Many times, I would think up some blog-worthy topic and start to write it in my head but soon enough I convinced myself that it didn’t possess enough oomph for a dramatic comeback and let it go where good ideas go to die (is there a hospice for good ideas?).

Truth is I’m just fed up of that feeling I have when I have left something I should do undone. It’s not a feeling I like to feel but I can’t help feeling it when I feel it (you feel me?Open-mouthed smile). It’s like a dull ache at the back of my head reminiscent of a scrawny, flee-covered dog that keeps rubbing against your leg, looking up at you doe-eyed and which, just won’t go away till you throw it a few scraps of food to sate its hunger. Extremely irritating. So this is me getting rid of that dog feeling. I make no promises as to the ‘oomphness’ but this I can say for sure, this post will be completed and updated today – today being whatever day I actually complete it Open-mouthed smile.

While indulging in copious amounts of navel-gazing about not writing, by the way did you know that the term ‘navel-gazing’ comes from ‘Omphaloskepsis’ which is the contemplation of one’s navel as an aid to meditation? Eww! Who does that? According to Wikipedia, it is done in the practice of yoga in Hinduism. Hmm, who knew? However I use ‘navel-gazing’ in the more common and jocular manner to mean self-absorption. Anyway, while I was mulling over my inability to write, I tried to narrow down the reason so that I could get rid of it. I went through a list of possibilities including;

  • The challenges of everyday life
  • Writers’ block
  • The distractions of social media, books, etc
  • The unofficial leave of my Muse 

This list is by no means exhaustive but while all of the above are, to some degree, responsible for my not writing, they cannot take all the blame. I came to the conclusion that real culprit is something else, something I had not previously considered but, which when it came to me, made so much sense. And it is (cue drum roll) vacansopapurosophobia or something close. What on earth is that? I hear you ask. It’s quite a mouthful, I know, but be patient, my friend, all shall be revealed in good time.

I kept wondering why in spite of having all those brilliant ideas, every time I opened up a new document to start writing, I would struggle to actually commit them to paper or shall I say, computer screen. It turns out it was because of my reluctance to ruin a perfect blank page with what I considered sub-standard writing. You see, vacansopapurosophobia is the fear of a blank page which, technically, I don’t have. It’s not the fear of the blank page per se but a fear of not doing it the justice it deserves. The endless possibilities this blank canvas presents, the unharnessed potential of things that could be brought to life on this untainted surface and the awareness that what you write on it may truncate its destiny for greatness. It is this weighty responsibility that can be just as crippling as it is exciting. This wanting to do right by the page yet doubting your ability to actually do so. Who wants to be responsible for prematurely terminating another’s destiny?

Since I am always going to have to start out with a blank page, I need to confront this ‘fear’ and find a way to make it work for me. Courage, they say, is not the absence of fear, it is the acting, or the willingness, to act in spite of it. So this blog post is a tiny first step in trying to overcome it. Hopefully, it will be the first of many.

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