The Reluctant Hostess

As a child I’d cry if anyone came to the house, and not just strangers; I remember sitting at the top of the stairs at Bromley Cres. crying my eyes out because my Grandparents whom I loved, had come to visit. The cheek of it!

Fortunately, I am no longer shy in my every day life. I enjoy meeting new people and I am confident in one-to-one situations.  I’ve got several close best friends, including some that go as far back as school days; and I have a phone book full of mums whom I see pretty much every week. Cram them all in to my flat for a sober, toddler birthday party and I am sick with nerves.

I love to have guests, but I’m not much of an inviter, self-consciousness creeps in and overwhelms my good intentions.

Growing up, I don’t recall ever having a birthday party although I attended many. I always assumed it was because of the expense (5 kids, 5 birthday parties) but now I have realised it is just too stressful. When I was 11 and in my first year of secondary school, myself and my two younger siblings begged to have a party, and eventually we wore our folks down and convinced them in to agreeing to letting us have a Christmas Party. One condition. I had to share it with my little brother. Easy.

He invited his entire class and I invited a select number of my own classmates. I was too embarrassed to invite boys, so I invited girls only, including some of the “cool” girls. I was painfully shy and hitting puberty- can’t imagine why I thought this would be a great idea. The “cool” girls obviously didn’t attend (No boys – duh!) and that was it for me.

I was picked on and bullied after this for not being “cool”. Do you remember when you were at school and there was always the one kid in the class that really smelt? Or, everyone said really smelt, and you went along with it just grateful that you weren’t the smelly kid? Well, I was the smelly kid. Or at least, I was the kid everyone called the smelly kid. I think it was because (despite the fact I was showering 2-3 times a day in attempts to just not be the smelly kid) once in PE I didn’t use deodorant (for fucks sake, how many 11 year old’s use deodorant?). Anyway I am digressing, these days I try to avoid hosting.

For my sons birthday I teamed up with a lovely, sociable mum (whom also had a birthday tot), my wing woman, (safety in numbers and all that) and planned an outdoor party in the park (neutral ground). I don’t know what I was thinking to be honest, I am a rubbish hostess. Hosting is most definitely not my forte. Anyway, of course my leading lady got sick and the rains came, oh and Sainsbury’s didn’t deliver my grocery’s due to a “technical error”…I needed a Plan B. Let’s have the party here in my home! You know, the one where I avoid hosting coffee mornings or playdates at?  Great idea stupid ass. Rarely does anyone get an invite to my flat, I dislike it so much. We are fortunate enough to live in a very affluent area with pretty river views and lovely neighbours. However, I live above a pub in an old flat. On the upside, the windows and ceilings are high and magnificent, and the flat is spacious and light, and the downside? the kitchen looks like it belongs in a 1980’s youth hostel, and the bathroom grows more mould than Alexander Flemming. Hardly yummy mummy territory.

I want to invite, I really do. I know how loved I feel when I’m invited. I watch friends do it with ease and grace and admire them for their ability to fold people into their lives. I can’t concentrate once the anxiety sets in. The promise of forced interaction in the name of good parenting instills a panic.  What if no one shows up?, or worse, what if they do? Oh god, what if they notice my washing drying in the bedroom, or that my bathroom towels don’t match?

Sweat trickles down my back and my lips are dry. I am talking. I am not sure what about, I am talking non stop. I am acutely aware of the awkwardness I’m desperately trying to hide. I can’t tell if my guests are startled by my deliberate effervescence or if they think I am witty and charming (I did make them wear moustaches!) I am 20% having an ok time, and 80% racking my brain for something to say and wondering when they can all go home? I am at my most uncomfortable as I do my best to ensure everyone is having a nice time.  My surface level housekeeping, eclectic furniture, fear of saying the wrong thing, and decidedly awkward inability to offer anyone a drink, stops me, if I even have a minute to think about being a hostess.

I am lucky enough to have an amazing husband with a level head. Mr Intrepid works in hospitality which we all know is technically hosting for a living. He is charming and he is witty and despite the fact that this party is for a 2 year old, his emergency trip to Waitrose brings us booze. Hurrah.

Oh and there were cakes!

Cupcakes & photo both by Passionfruit Bakery

Happy 2 year old? Tick #ParentingWin

Parents plied with booze mid afternoon with no offer of an alternative, whilst being ordered to wear moustaches?

#Hostingwin? – jury’s still out on that one!
Lindsay X

Start each day with a grateful heart ❤️

I recently stumbled across an article online that was written by a girl whom I no longer speak to, nor have seen for more than 10 years.

She was once in my original Girl Gang, a great friend throughout my teenage years. We went to school together, hung out together, partied together, and eventually lived together.

I cannot pinpoint where it all went wrong to be honest. One day we were great friends, the next we were not.

I decided to go travelling with my boyfriend which meant moving out of the flat we shared together. One day during my week of ‘packing up’ I came home from work and she had gone. It was a tricky time. The rest of the gang were still friends and for a while there was lots of nonsense floating about, “she said this, I did that, her friends did this, this happened…” You know what I mean, don’t you?  That’s often the down side of having a Girl Gang. When there’s trouble in paradise, girls are the worst for stirring it up. Especially teenage girls. We never spoke again and gradually over the years the rest of the gang spread out and followed new paths.

I did see her in a club once and tried to make friendly drunk conversation, but it never went past the ‘how are you’s..?’  We finished up on on bad terms and after all the things that were said, there was a grudge.

Anyway today, she popped up and for the first time in years I remembered her. Downtrodden. That’s the first word that came to mind when I thought of her. I knew her to be moody and negative. After reading her article, I’ve realised now she was just unhappy. I can’t believe now I didn’t realise that at the time. I let my own teenage angst rise above everything. How different we’ve become as adults? 

She has written a few books and they have been published. I am surprised, shocked even at her outlook at life, and the biggest surprise of all?  I’m not bitter, I am inspired. The article does her a great justice, her life is very different now. I am grateful that I paused to read it. She starts each day with a grateful heart. I cannot reconcile in my head, the person I once knew, with the positive person she is now. Despite the fact we are no longer friends, I am full of gratitude that our lives once crossed paths.

Lindsay X

Girl Gang – We is a sisterhood, innit?

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It has been 20 years since The Spice Girls released ‘Wannabe” (man I am old!) and I remember it well. Rumoured to have been written in just 20 minutes, it topped the UK Singles Chart for seven weeks, eventually becoming the best-selling single by a female group in the world, and selling over 7 million copies worldwide by the end of 1997. Wow.

The Spice Girls helped pave the way for us women ( I am not forgetting there were plenty of empowering, legendary women previously… but that’s a different story…). The Spice Girls were trailblazers of independence, assertiveness, ambition and sexuality. They knew the power of a sisterhood. They gave us Girl Power, and are the epitome of Girl Gang.

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I was part of a small clique whilst I was at school, back then I was the runt of the litter, adopted by a group of sassy girls after a few years of loneliness. They were my Girl Gang.

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We lived the 1990’s. We survived falling in a bog (you know who you are) on our Duke of Edinburgh Award, we sang our heart outs to Oasis and Pulp, and pretended we didn’t like Take That, we used fake ID’s to get into clubs (it’s rude to ask a lady her age!), and covered for each other with boys, parents and teachers! There was an unspoken agreement of support and unity. Despite spending all of the 1990s sat on a wall in the worlds tiniest mini skirts, we had each other’s backs.

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As an adult I’ve (without intent) formed a grown up Girl Gang. They don’t differ too much from the young girls I knew 2 decades ago. I’ve worked with them and lived with them, partied with them, cried with them, travelled with them and said goodbye to them. These women have supported me during relationship woes, carried me home drunk, carried me through the mud at Glastonbury (whilst 6 months pregnant) planned my hen party, been my bridesmaids, cooked me meals, ate my meals…. I’ve missed them and I’ve loved them. They keep me sane and focused, and wild and drunk (less so now I’m a mother-that would be irresponsible…) They do not all live in close proximity, and they are often busy but, I have them.

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I lost myself when I became a mum, I was lonely. I didn’t know how to combine my old life with this new one. Until now.

Last week I went for dinner with a group of mums in my local area. We are a local Facebook group, a Whatsapp group and a mum group. These women are beautiful and strong. I have gotten to know them in the last couple of years. Most of them are women I have met at coffee mornings and baby groups. They are all different. Some of us are women whose paths would never had crossed if we hadn’t become a mum at the same time. In some cases, it’s the only thing we have in common. As I sat there scoffing my face with pizza and red wine, listening to these women talk and laugh together, I looked around at these mums and I realised something. I am once again part of a girl gang.

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We can chat, or we can cry. Drink too much coffee, drink too much wine (hic!), talk about our husbands and our kids, talk about work or lack of it. We can bitch and vent, and laugh. Or we can simply just be (netflix and chill?). Sometimes theres a birthday or a playdate or a happy hour but always, its us, the Mum Gang.
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I am thankful for my Girl Gang . We are there for each other no matter what. Just like our 90’s sisters before us, we have each other’s back. ‘We is a sisterhood, innit?’ 🤘🏻

 

Lindsay x