Tuesday, 19 October 2010


All women these days feel guilty. It comes with being female. And I’m not just talking about those pangs of remorse when we blow the diet by polishing off the last couple of chocolate biscuits in the packet. No, I mean the deep-seated, stomach-churning, hand-wringing emotional guilt that comes with being a mum, daughter, sister, friend and lover. The kind of guilt that comes with realising that you can’t be all things to all people all of the time, no matter how hard we try.

Last week I felt guilty when:

I told my mother I couldn’t see her for lunch because I had to work;

I couldn’t watch Beth dancing because I’d already agreed to see my son, Josh, play football;

An old friend rang to check I was still alive because she hadn’t heard from me in months;

I didn’t have time to read with Josh;

I cancelled an arrangement with my sister because I had to attend a school meeting;

I turned down a rare opportunity to spend time with Lillie because I had to visit my mother.

And so it goes on. I am forever trying to fulfil my obligations to the people I love. I do this on a regular basis of course, by cooking their meals, washing their clothes, providing taxi service etc but this is not what counts. I want to spend time with those I love doing things that we enjoy but it isn’t always possible. So, I settle for some lunatic juggling arrangement that means I can just about cover the basics like work, medical appointments and regular phone bulletins to my mum (and woe betide me if I default on this one!).

To expand on that last point, to be fair, my mum is in her 80s. I am aware that I might regret not making the most of every minute spent in her company but no matter how much time I devote to her, it will never be enough. The truth is that I do see her on a regular basis but that doesn’t compensate for her being lonely and I know that she would like to see more of Lillie, Beth and Josh but then so would I. The girls, in particular, are growing up fast and would rather be with their friends than spend time with their mum or nan.

My life is imperfect, disordered, chaotic and a constant race against time.  Like all women, I have to make difficult choices and do the best I can. I cope with most things, but the guilt stays with me all the time.

Now, it must be about time for a chocolate biscuit…

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Hello and welcome to Mum in the Middle.

I am a 40 something (actually I’m nearer 50 but as I’ve been told that’s the age women officially become ‘invisible’, I’ll stick with 40+ for now) mother of three. I have been happily married to my significant other for more years than either of us care to remember (18 at the last count) and we live in a seaside town in the south east of England with our children. My work as a writer and editor, as well as being something I am passionate about, fits in well with family life and my husband is caring and supportive (even if he does sometimes drive me to distraction).

On paper, it sounds like the perfect life until I add that my three adorable children, two daughters and one son, are well past the toddler tantrums and fussy eating stage. They are all growing up fast and as they begin to find their independence, the worries that come with having a family just keep getting bigger.

Let me introduce you:

Lillie, is 16 and is all about friends, Facebook, piercings, tattoos, music and the latest big thing – the LTB (long term boyfriend). Beth is 13, creative and wise beyond her years. She is into fashion, clothes, singing and drama (with much of the latter currently being played out at home.) Josh, at nine, is still at primary school but beginning to look much too big to be there. He is mad about sport; football, running, swimming, tennis, gymnastics, cricket… Oh and his PlayStation. I only wish he was as keen to read a book as he is to reach the next level on the latest PS3 game!

Oh, and then there is my mum. She is a lovely, salt of the earth kind of mother who would do anything for you from discreetly paying for lunch when you’re a bit short of cash to tackling that huge pile of ironing you haven’t quite got round to doing. She is in her 80s and insists on living alone in a house that is far too big for her. She is a wonderful mum but, without doubt, the most stubborn woman you could ever wish to meet.

I love them all, of course I do, but I am a part of that growing band of women who hit middle age and the menopause only to find themselves simultaneously coping with a growing family and elderly relatives. Together we are a part of the ‘sandwich’ generation.

Much has been written about life with babies and young children but the next stage can be even more challenging, particularly when you bring elderly relatives into the picture. I want to share my experiences and hopefully hear about some of yours.

I am mum in the middle.

I hope you enjoy my blog and I look forward to meeting you here again soon. x