Monday, 25 January 2010

Situation Vacant.

“Bloody thing has shrunk at the dry cleaners”, grumbled Hubby the other evening whilst sorting out his mess undress uniform.
“I hate to tell you this”, I hated to tell him, “but they use chemicals at the dry cleaners, not soap and water, ergo your waistcoat hasn’t shrunk, more er, your tummy has grown”. His face dropped.
“Look on the bright side”, I added, breezily, “You are very tall and still exceedingly dashing. It’s just that you were skinny before, and now as you’re getting older, you look, well, more normal”.
“And everything was going so well then Alice. Did you have to bring my age into the equation?”
I shrugged my shoulders. Men. They’re so touchy. He’ll be asking me if his bum looks big next.
“Let it out a little bit and hold your gut in. Women have been doing it for years. I have pants in fact that do it for me. Do you want to borrow them?”
“Ew!”, said the 14 year old walking in on proceedings, “What are you talking about?”
“I’m going to lend daddy my ‘hold your tummy in, wonder knickers’. That’s all.”
She looked at me agog. “Oh great, that’s all I need, a cross dressing father”.
“And I was led to believe that you and your brother are so right on. Isn’t there a Facebook status that says, Miss Know-it-All Band has become a fan of the group ‘my dad wears my mother’s knickers and its cool with me’?”
“God mum, you are so lame” and without more ado she flounced out as quickly as she had flounced in.
“Nice one Alice. You know how to alienate your children”. Hubby was hardly in a position to criticize given that he was still tugging and twisting at his waistcoat and was getting demonstrably more agitated as the moments passed.
“What do you mean by that?” I asked, unravelling him, “I was only joking, unless of course you genuinely do fancy the idea of donning my undergarments?”
He looked at me grimly.
“Anyway, why did she say, ‘that’s all I need?’ and why did you add that I know how to alienate my children? What’s going on? Please, tell me, is there something I should know?”
“Alice you’re starting to sound like Simon Le Bon. No, she just has a few teenage issues she’s dealing with, that’s all”.
What? My girl was having issues and I didn’t know anything about it yet my husband did? How come? Was it easier to talk to her father than me?
A dark cloud of doom settled above my head. I tried to analyse the past few days and pinpoint a moment where she had seemed anguished. It was usually physics and Spanish that was the main arena for despair.
I got up and went to my computer and looked at her Facebook page. My God, it come to this. I had to check what they were telling the world to know the intimate feelings of my own children?
Her status seemed innocuous enough in that she detested badminton. Nothing new there then. Whacking a shuttlecock around in my gym knickers never did it for me either.
I went and knocked on her brother’s door and asked, “What’s wrong with your sister?”
“Narrow it down a bit for me Ma, I have so many of them that there is probably a collective noun for them.” I sighed.
“I’m talking about the eldest one. Dad knows something I don’t. Should I be concerned? Is it serious? Is she being bullied?”
“No ma, she is not being bullied”.
“Oh, so there is something then and I am the last to know”. He turned once again to his computer as though in an attempt to block me out.
“What is it?” I demanded. He refused to look at me but just said, “Just let it go mum ok?” before turning the volume up.
I exited his room distracted. I have spent the last 17 years doing everything but breathe for my children and now, just as they are growing up and when I thought we might be friends where they would tell me everything, it would seem in fact, as though they view me as the inaccessible, judgemental, indifferent mothers of yore. I might as well have sent them to boarding school like several of my friends did with their darlings. They seem to cope far better with remote teenagers and are not in the slightest wounded by their offspring’s lack for need of a maternal confidant.
Hubby looked more than bewildered when I left the house 10 minutes later in my gym kit, my eyes puffy and my face blotchy.
“I’m going to Legs, Bums and Tums”, I sniffled. It was a hard workout and momentarily the pain in my glutes and hamstrings over-rode the pain in my heart but, as we stretched to some gentle exercises to cool down my thoughts once again drifted to those of my children. Luckily Mags was there and having seen my lachrymose appearance had mouthed during a Beyonce number “Want to talk?” Having been in the middle of a fast, grapevine routine however, talking had been out of the question and I’d meekly nodded.
Later, we sat in the village pub in front of a roaring log fire, cradling a diet coke each and I poured out my misgivings to her. “I might as well move out Mags”, I said, “I’ll take the babies with me but the others don’t need me. Hell you wouldn’t put up with a job where your colleagues made you feel so unvalued and there was such little job satisfaction. I may as well hand in my notice. Let’s be honest, they can pay someone to wash and cook and clean their bedrooms”. Expecting her to nudge me in a ‘come on it’s not that bad’ way, she didn’t. Instead, she listened intently and added, soberly, “Find a flat big enough and I’ll come with you”.


jinksy said...

Once I may have replied 'Make the flat big enough for three!' :)

Anonymous said...

go, girl, go!

DL said...


I read all the way through, thinking, sooner or later we're all going to the bottom of the mystery, and AB will sign off with her customary chirpy flourish. No such bloody luck!

Don't give up! It's a tough furrow we're all ploughing, and often seems thankless. Always worth it in the end though.

Want me to let you in on the secret btw? ;-)

Alice Band said...

DL - And what secret would that be perchance?

Roads said...

Brilliant storytelling, Alice. And totally familiar, every word of it.

Well, except for the expanding waistline, obviously (cough, cough).