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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A well-needed break

I should probably get round to blogging my holiday (in instalments, for posterity) at some point before it is next summer, but I'm just drowning in work at the moment - both work work and running the family work, of course.

We went over to Denmark at the beginning of July. I had no real awareness of my mental state before I left for my holiday. I had been working hard trying to copy-edit a full book which was quite technical, I had been overwhelmed by the double life you have to lead in June when you are supposed to attend numerous school music and sporting events while working full-time, on top of dealing with your kids stressing about exams, teacher changes, new subjects and all the rest. In addition, there was the Brexit referendum, and I've already touched on how that was making me feel in my blog posts of that week. But I had not actually taken a minute to analyze me - there is no 'me-time' in a life with five kids and a job, not really.

So up we got at 5-30am one day at the beginning of July and off we went for a train, a bus and then a plane from Edinburgh airport - a boring old Easy Jet to Copenhagen. I spied it across the tarmac with no obvious feelings either way - I've been on way too many planes to get excited... We went through boarding and walked across to the stairs. I hadn't been away from home since July of 2014. I hadn't left Scotland once since the Summer of Independence. As I reached the top and stepped into the aircraft, in an almost lightning-bolt moment, I became acutely aware for the very first time just how stressed I had been since the Indyref back in September 2014, with the very fears that had led me to vote Yes back then being realized in the Brexit vote of this June. I had always assumed that if we didn't gain our independence in Europe back then, England would drag us out of Europe endangering my family's very right to exist, together in the same country. I had always assumed the newspapers' desire for survival would lead them to print whatever of Farage's fantasies it took to stay afloat in a dying market and I had been proven horrendously right. Here I was suddenly facing the real possibility that my husband would not be allowed it stay in Scotland, when at the same time I would no longer be allowed to move elsewhere. My worst nightmare had come true. In an instant, as my first foot landed inside the aircraft a feeling of overwhelming relief hit me - for the first time since 18-9-14, I was escaping the madness that is the UK. I was leaving behind the worries and stresses of the politics of home and quite frankly at that moment, I never ever wanted to return. I hadn't realized how much I needed to leave until I did. I felt a euphoric lightness of mind and spirit as the plane taxied down that runway taking me away from all that stresses me, for however short a time. And to be honest, I am still not sure how they managed to get me on to the return flight three weeks later.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Breast feeding

In the ten years I spent breastfeeding my five, I never once had to sit on a toilet but I spent a lot of time rehearsing in my head what I'd say if someone complained and getting ready to fight my corner, which thankfully I never needed to do (maybe I just looked too ready for a fight to be taken on), but if it's still happening to you - watch this.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

My kids know me well

I think my other half once referred to me as a bit of a militant atheist... I like to think of myself as a happy one, rather than a militant one, but I'm not going to quibble over an adjective! My kids know I don't do God, but I hardly go on about it incessantly...

So today we went swimming and from swimming I had to rush off to Asda for some curry ingredients and back home by six in time for Thomas to cook. After swimming the kids had a snack each but were still ranting about being starving and were less than pleased when I took the turn-off for the supermarket. I thought I could buy some time if I let each of them spend a 20p piece in the sweetie vending machine on the way in so gave Léon three 20ps and sent them off. When I came out Léon and Anna were sitting on a bench quietly waiting, sooking on a gobstopper each. Amaia though had never had one before so bounced proudly up to me and announced 'Léon bought me a sweetie, mummy. I think you'd like them, they're called God-stoppers!'


Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Renaissance art, anyone?

So we somehow got onto the subject of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the other day...

Amaia announced excitedly: Oh, I know what they are called!!
Charlotte: Yeah?
Amaia: Well there's Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo and em, em, em...
Charlotte: Come on, there's a pattern, you can do it...
Amaia (that lightbulb moment!): Oh yeah, I know, it's Stracciatella, isn't it?!!!!

Well, she knew it was something to do with Italy - I can understand confusing Michelangelo with stracciatella... almost.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Brexit - no, thank you

I should probably write something about Brexit but I haven't a clue where to start and it depends on my mood whether you get 1) an angry post full of four letter expletives at how the Westminster parliament is treating EU families who have settled here decades ago and built their lives around a given that they are prepared to take away, 2) a resigned mood where I wonder what the point of anything is and hide under my duvet sobbing, 3) a freedom-fighter one where I dig out all my old Yes Scotland stuff and this time fight to the death for my very survival, or even 4) an adventurous 'let's sell the house, pack up all the kids and disappear to mainland Europe while we still can' fuck-the-world one. I have been fluctuating daily between all these alternatives since I awoke to find the duped, the desperate and the racists had snatched my children's futures from them.

My kids are the result of a family tradition of international intermarrying. Both my husbands had parents of mixed European origin - Thomas is half Danish, half German, his predecessor was half French, half German and yet someone has decided for my kids that they won't be able to carry that tradition on. Wandering round Europe freely and falling in love is no longer allowed! And my heart breaks when I think of how small their world is becoming. I am angry as their international universities risk becoming parochial because of the whims of some ill-informed bigots in another country. I scream at the computer (I've stopped watching TV - it's not good for my mental health) when I hear people wanting to stop others from coming to work here, without ever realizing they are also stopping their own kids from being able to go there and work. I am one of those European kids (ok I was one of them in the 80s and 90s) - I have lived in France, and Germany and Italy. I have studied internationally, I have married internationally and it has enriched my life considerably.

Two years ago I fought passionately for Scotland to become independent for exactly this reason. I could see how narrow and insular the popular press was turning England and I shared that dream described so eloquently last week in the EU parliament by Alyn Smith: I wanted a Scotland that was internationalist, co-operative, ecological, fair, & European. I could see this referendum would be called at Farage's whim and I could see Out was a very real possibility. I wanted my children to grow up in a society where we care about the weakest in society, where we celebrate each other's differences and love what makes each other special. I could see that the separatist movement in Scotland was aiming for an inclusive state, within Europe based on our perception of the Scandinavian model. I'm married to a Scandy man so I could see the merits of a society where women can actually afford to work, childcare works and isn't a few hours in the middle of a working day, and kids are paid to go to university because an educated population benefits all. England's introduction of tuition fees and privatising of their NHS filled me with horror - it was going in all the wrong directions for me. I shared that left of centre ideal for Scotland the the SNP, the Greens and the Socialists amongst others were offering us and I still do. Imagining 62% of us could vote to stay in the EU and seeing us pulled out underlines what we've been saying all along. Last election we voted for a left-wing government, the Tories got just one MP from Scotland, but still we have a Tory government. Now we have voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, so if they drag us out then there is no point in ever voting here because 5 million people can never be heard over 60. We might as well stay home forever more on polling day. There is no point in politics in this union and therefore, there is no point for me in this union. So I guess I have my answer... I have no option but to go for solution three and if that fails number four will need to be put into action, somehow. Otherwise I won't have fought hard enough for the future my kids deserve.