On Non-Awesome Mothers (of the Repatriated Expat)

When I returned from my divine time in Disney, I had to drive straight to Mummy’s Holland Park abode to collect the irritants. From the way she had told me to hurry back to Angleterria, I was anticipating a scene of the utmostest calamity and devastation at her place, but none did I find. All cool: Max hiding in a wardrobe with his iPad so as to avoid his grandmother’s ban on Minecraft, and Milly, somewhat thinner than I remembered (but people always do seem thinner after a sojourn in the northern Americas, don’t they?), half-heartedly doing a jigsaw at the kitchen table, underneath which she held her phone, Whatsapping away with her little friends. They’re so cute at this age. It really is incrediblé how fast five year-olds can type. She has barely learnt to write, but wow can she Whatsapp! That’s my girl : )

Mummy was at the Aga, making juniper berry venison with Jerusalem artichokes and unfeasibly small onions (I do love her cooking! I wish we had more home cooking at my house hashtag sadface.)

She insisted on telling me absolutely everything that the children had done over Xmas and New Year’s – went to Auntie this, saw cousins thems. I wasn’t in the least bit interested, but her focused obliviousosity gave me the chance to message Phil, and to catch up on all the important Facebook news I’d missed during my journey back. I refuse to pay for wifi on planes. Upper Class tickets are expensive enough as it is! I’m not going to subsidise the poors in Economy a penny more than I absolutely have to.

The next thing I heard was Mummy saying, “blablabla-bla-bla-bloo, so you’d be wise to leave now, before the traffic gets bad”.

“Oh”, I replied, “I thought we ought to stay the night. I’m really rather jet lagged, and my chi is flip flopping all over the place, as you can imagine. And you’re doing my favourite sups: juniper berry venison… with Jerusalem artichokes… and unfeasibly small onions. So it would be nice for you if we stayed to keep you company…” –

“Emma-Jane, have you heard nothing I’ve been telling you? I have someone coming round later for dinner. Which is why you’d better get the children’s things together, and go home. You know what the traffic’s like. Or have you forgotten? Not quite the same as Singapore!”

[Ha, like I didn’t know that! I had just spent millennia getting through customs and driving from the airport in the pelting rain. Had it been Singapore, it would’ve taken me half an hour from the time the plane landed to be lying in my rooftop pool with a bottle of Veuve Click. Like I didn’t know!! How totes dare she?? Rub salt in the wound much, Mum-ski?! What a b***h.]

Not one to take things personally, nor blow matters beyond reasonable proportion, I said, “Fine!”, and stormed off to gather the irritants’ paraphernalia, apparently quadrupled in volume due to Xmas presents. They had quite enough stuff already, without people bloody giving them more! There’s nothing for it: we’ll just have to move to a bigger house. I’m sort of running low on money (dunno where that vast sum my father gave me went, though I should really know given that I did an online accountancy course when I sacked my accountant), but I could just get a job or something.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that it isn’t easy to fit three people and shedloads of luggage into a Maserati, but given that needs musted (Mummy was not d’accord with me leaving the gifts or even one of the children at hers), I had little choice, did I, dear readers? As we squeezed into the car, I informed her in a completely not passive-aggressive way that, by demanding our immediate departure, she was risking the lives of two of her precious grandchildren, and her only daughter (apart from the other one, my sister), whilst simultaneously depriving said daughter of much-loved juniper berry venison with Jerusalem artichokes and yes, unfeasibly small onions… Which basically fed into and compounded every other moment of deprivation, disappointment, and dreadfully dire mothering she had perpetrated against my person from conception onwards. As I made sure to let her know.

We said goodbye – well, she said goodbye to the kids – and I sped us home, at least enjoying the roar of the fine engine and the appreciative glances from gentleman drivers. The open road reminded me that I was free, and in spite of Max and Milly’s protestations, I put the top down. With the wind in my fiery locks and Beyoncé blasting loud, I felt myself to be on Orchard Road again (somewhat chillier, of course), recalling the days of cruising from one happy, warm place to another happy, warm place.

Then the car in front came to a halt, as had every car beyond for as far as my azure almond eyes could see. It was really cold. I turned the music down, and flicked the switch to raise the hood. It took almost as long to cross London as it had to cross the Atlantic. I say “almost”, only because I am not prone to exaggeration.


 

Thanks to Mummy’s salt rubbing, I am now missing Singas more than ever.

Leafy Orchard Road

Lovely leafy Orchard Road

 

Bankers on Roof Terraces

Bankers on roof terraces

 

Botanic Gardens

Sunny days at the Botanic Gardens – Hampstead Heath is so much chillier

 

Nikoi

Paradisical retreat weekends on the island of Nikoi, after a long five days of gloriously exhausting social mayhem

 

Fun times

Fun times wid my girlies

 

Laundry

& laundry hanging out of HDB windows in 100% humidity

 

So this was me after last night’s gig in Soho. I’m doing my happy face like a true pro, but inside my extremely awesome biker jacket, my heart was sobbing, “Take me back to Singapore!”

Potential repatriates take note. It’s not great.

 

Blue Post

 

 

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Helper’s Day Off and Husband Away!

It is Sunday night. I am abso exhausted, and my hair looks more shocking than anyone who knows me would think possible. I have spent the whole day with my children.

Every Sunday, helpers in Singapore have the day off. It has been enshrined in law since January 2013, before which it was one day a month. They were loathe to enforce the requirement because of how much it would inconvenience people who have help. Interesting article about it here.

Now, I do know that you can ask them to work anyway, and either give them a day off in lieu, or pay them. Our helper asked me if I needed her this Sunday (given Don’s absence), but she only did that to humiliate me, so I thought, “No way! I’ll give them a great day! I’ll show you!”

As soon as Max bounded into my bedroom at 6 o’clock this morning, I began to regret my decision. A little. (I was out last night with the ladies, so I felt a bit jaded, and could have done with the usual lie-in.) The regret, however, served only to strengthen my resolve!

I reflected on that fascinating paradox as I dozed off, having told Max that he was free to play Minecraft until Milly woke up. Milly’s a sleeper! Like Don and I have always said about children, “A sleeper’s a keeper!” Mega LOLs : D

Both of them complained that breakfast was not how the helper makes it. The pancakes were too soggy, and the chocolate milk wasn’t the right temperature. (Even my green smoothie was disappointing. I didn’t want to bother with juicing the hard veg, as well as using the blender, because I didn’t want to have to clean the damn juicer myself. The blender is one thing, but life’s too short to clean a juicer!!)

It was raining, so the traffic was hell, and I was late dropping them off at their respective golf and ballet classes.

After that, I took them to the Botanical Gardens for lunch at Food For Thought, and a run around. Who should we see, of course, but the helper! Happy as Larry, and having a lovely time, eating deep-fried MSG-laced food with her friends. The children dashed over to her, and honestly, you’d have thought that I’m no fun at all, the way they hung around, wanting to stay with her. Ingrates. Especially after I’d gone out of my way to spend the day with them.

Next, I took them to see a Pixar film at the suites, and although Max was engrossed, Milly was so comfortable in her reclined chair and duvet that she kept falling asleep. I spent most of the film trying to keep her awake by prodding her, plying her with sugar-free sweets, and pulling her hair. I didn’t want to be up all night with her!

We had dinner at Marché in the basement of Somerset, so that the ingrates could play while I uploaded photos of today’s fun activities to Facebook (I made sure the pancakes didn’t look soggy by covering them in berries, and did some heavy editing). Because of my claustrophobia, I find that place quite difficult, but I was willing to risk potential trauma for Max and Milly’s enjoyment. That’s sacrifice for you.

Milly spoiled it for everyone though (maybe she isn’t a keeper after all) by repeatedly kicking a Japanese boy, and then, without my knowing, she snuck some rösti off my plate (hangover food haha) into her pocket, and smeared it in the boy’s face!! Oh Lordy. I don’t know where she is getting this behaviour from : ( First Froo Froo dog, now this!

I wasn’t ready to leave because I still had a few more pics I wanted to post, but when the rösti incident occurred, I really had no choice as a responsible parent other than to grab Milly, and tell her that she had utterly ruined the whole weekend for everyone ever.

Luckily, I speak Japanese, so I was able to apologise profusely to the boy’s mother in my most gracious, culturally appropriate dulcet tones.  I did want to say that she should tell the boy to grow a pair, but I’m not one to make a scene.

Bedtime was the usual murderous drama. I don’t even want to dredge it up by writing about it, it was so stressful.

Once Max and the Millster were both finally asleep, I started to process the deleterious effect that today has had on my psyche. I decided to meditate, but that didn’t help. So, I did some chanting, and that didn’t help either.

Then I opened a bottle of NZ sauv blanc, and began writing the above. That helped. Expressing myself freely through the written word does seem to be both my great talent and my great saviour. I think Virginia Woolf said something quite similar. Great minds, and all that!!

But then, dear reader, my refreshed serenity was suddenly dashed against harsh jagged rocks… I got a text from Michelle’s husband: “Hey, you. We should get together some time”.

Argh!! What a creep! He must know Don’s away. I’ve no idea how to respond. Shame he’s so nice. Actually, the more I’ve thought about it, Michelle must be a difficult person to live with. Maybe he’s lonely in his marriage. That’s still no excuse though. Right, dear reader?