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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Expat Parenting Musings on Bintan

We’re having an amazing time on Bintan. Don and I aren’t really speaking to each other, but we’re still having an amazing time. The irritants are loving the kids’ club, and Angel has found some teen buddies via Yik Yak (what now, now??), so it’s all awesome. The pedis here are just incrediblé. You’d think a pedi is just a pedi… But come here (I won’t mention the name of the hotel spa because I refuse to ho myself), and you will find that Pedicure takes on a whole new meaning. Not just a meaning… an unending promise of a divine lifestyle via feets. All that, captured in a rapturous hour and a half of bliss, experienced as a wave of unforgettable communion with one’s soul and true self. Yes, babeses. Yes.

Apart from that, in my free time, I’ve been thinking about how annoying children are.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totes in heart with Max and Mills. But I was reclining hotly in the sun today, tossing ground-breaking ideas around my powerful brain, as I often do, and I found myself scrolling forward a hundred years from now. I thought about how women are already not that into staying at home to look after the little people. We carry them for nine months (almost ten in my case: Max was like, “No way I’m going out there”), have our bodies naturally ripped to shreds or unnaturally sliced to pieces, and then choose to breast-feed or not, co-sleep or not, baby-led wean or not, with a bunch of people telling us that what we’re doing is SOOOOO the wrong thing, regardamento-less of what we actually decide to do.

And I am starting to think that some time soon, when parents stop lying about how hard this parenting lark is, having children will become a job. Like it always has been for the default parent. I’m lucky enough to have full-time help, so there is no default parent in my case, thank eff. It sounds awful!

You may well doubt my words, but I predict that by the time our babies are fully grown, privileged peeps will start to realise the full extent of the major hell of having children. There will be the stalwarts who elect voluntationally to reproduce – they will be the exception – but beyond that, parenting will be a career which few will choose, and not everyone will be entitled to sign up for. And truesome, not everyone should be entitled to sign up for this job. Despite being an amazebobs mother myself, if I’d been tested for my commitment to child-rearing in advance, I am not totes certain that I would’ve passed. Even me!! Which is cool because some days I just want to board a plane for Vegas and have nothing else to worry about. I dunno, babeses. Maybe it’s just me.

It can’t just be me though because there’s some weird stuff going on with kids, parenting, and prevarication.

No one tells a first-time pregnant woman what it’s really going to be like, am I right? We all just smile, congratulate, and talk about the gooey stuff.

And once the kids are here on Earth, no one would ever ever EVER think they wish their kid hadn’t been born – let alonio say it ffs – except in We Need to Talk About Kevin, and that’s like one million % fiction. So no, that thought would never occur to ANY parent, no matter how delirious they are from their infant’s non-sleepage, or how tortured they feel by their teenager’s general demeanor.

So, of course, we wouldn’t wish the irritants gone once they’re here. I just wonder if there might be a huge vault of private struggle around raising kids that was never talked about in our parents’ generation (I have a vague recollection of hearing my mother blaming my father for me “being born at all”, but surely it was a dream); which those in my more open-minded peer group are now discussing. Well, I say discussing. I mean Googling. It’s all being written about on the Huff, so there’s really no need to enter into potentially embarrassing conversations about parenting in person, particularly with close friends. Best not to jeopardise close friendships by revealing too much about our children’s humiliating failures.

It’s all of this that leads me to the de facto conclusion that, pretty soon, young adults will just want to get on with their lives on Instagram or YouNow or Vine, or whatevs those things have evolved into; and they’ll be so busy with that stuff that they won’t want to have kids unless they’re paid for it. No point otherwise! Like how the increased availability of porn (not a good thing!) has resulted in a drastic reduction in teenage pregnancy (a good thing!). You and I, dear readers, are very young and in-the-now ourselves, but the mindset of these web-fluenced floozies we are raising is a separate quagmirification from whence we emerged.

I for one am not going to roll over and play dead. I’ll be hiring a team of teenage girls and boys as my social media informants when Milly hits 12. She’s four now, so in the meantime I’ll get on with my gruelling self-maintenance schedulepartying with my crew, and doing exactly what the hell I want to do, whenever I want to do it. Selfies and all other manifestations of what cousin Clara the psychologist calls “narcissism” are only stupid when kids do them. Just ask Frida Kahlo, Clara says. (No idea what she means.)

Bisous from Bintan XXX

A place to let the mind wander NAMASTE

A place to let the mind wander
NAMASTE

Only Alcoholics Shouldn’t Drink in the Morning

After my transformational parenting experience the other night, I bounded into Milly’s room on the morning of our trip to get her dressed, for the first time ever on a non-Sunday, and to help her finish packing. I wanted to reassure her that she is beautiful despite not having a thigh gap, so I was a bit disappointed to find her room empty, completely tidy, and her suitcase all packed.

“No mattery!”, I thought to myself, being the tremendously resilient person that I am, and off I cantered downstairs to make breakfast for my sweet children – another first for a non-Sunday, go me!! I was in such a good mood that I decided to make pancakes, of all things! I know!! Ambitious, but that’s me all over, as you know, dear readers.

I could see from the state of the kitchen (argh! So not Downton, babeses!! Cannot get the staff, lah) that the helper had already made pancakes; and there was apparently no one in the house other than Don, up in his office. I waved charmingly to him through the windows off the courtyard, but he didn’t see me as he was engrossed in the screens on his desk. He works so hard, bless him. Even on days that are technically holidays. Of course he’s being stalked by another bird. Who wouldn’t stalk a man like Don?

I rang the helper and discovered that she had taken both kids to the skate park off Orchard for a scoot. “Oh well, no mattery”, I thought again, “I can still… umm, I can still”… And that’s where I totes drew a blank. I had yet another weird, as yet unidentified feeling, and the strangest thing popped up in my pretty head: the empty space in our glamorous ensuite bathroom from a few weeks ago. That awful emptiness where, as it turned out, my designer loo brush had been (since then, happily replaced with even lovelier water closet ware). What now, now? Why would that vile thought invade my so sane brain?

To exorcise the unpleasant image, I walked from room to room for a while, looking for something useful I could do. Something motherly perhaps. Drawing a mega zero, I found myself by the wine fridge, and although I would never dream of drinking at 9.37 in the morning, I realised that it was a day of celebration. Chinese New Year! Gong Xi and all that!! So I opened a bottle of Veuve to toast all those gazillion nice Chinese people out there, particularly our Chinese hosts in lovely Singapore. Rude not to, and we weren’t leaving for Penang until the afternoon.

Sitting in our rooftop pool with my champers and my Facebook newsfeed for company, I stopped feeling all those ugh feelings. What’s the big dealio with morning celebrational beverages anyhoo? Nothing, right babeses? Anyone who thinks there’s a problem is ridic and crazybobs, and must have a drink prob themselves. It’s pure projection, which is v nasty stuff.

I must’ve dozed off on a lounger (due to my late night of being a great mother) because the next thing I knew, the helper was standing over me, saying, “Ma’am, Sir is looking for you. We are leaving now on the vacation”.

Argh!! I sprang into action (concealing the empty bottles in the ornamental pool towel cupboard – the helper can be so judgmental), threw the last few bikinis and lippies into my ludicrously expensive Rimowa suitcase, put on my gorgeous travelling outfit (it’s important to look one’s hottest when travelling, particularly as a celebrité blogger), and sloped elegantly to the front door, just as the limo cab was pulling up outside. I’m so good at travelling. I can do it like the back of my hand.

We really had a great time in Penang. This trip, unlike Chrimbo in Boracay, we took the help with us. I told Don that if he stuck to his “family holidays are for family” policy, Froo Froo Dog might well poop in his car. Accidentally, of course. That dog is so bold now, since her amazebobs therapy session : ).

We came back today on an early flight – early enough to attend a fab free-flow lunch date at the Westin with our Expaterati crew, and everyone was enthralled by my tales of our super lovely hol. I do totes heart Malaysia. I can see where they’re going with the whole “truly Asia” thing. I think it’s a little misleading though, because increasingly it’s more “truly Middle East”. Which is also awesome because I totes heart Dubai too.

 

Where we didn't stay in Penang.  Anyone with a proven track record in marketing, PLEASE contact these chaps.

Where we didn’t stay in Penang.
Anyone with a proven track record in marketing, PLEASE contact these chaps.

 

 

New Parenting Happenings For a (Chinese) New Year

Image

It’s Chinese NY and – although I totes can’t relate because we’ve already had a new year, so it just feels wrong – I have made an effort to get into the spirit of things. I’ve been to China Town to get lanterns, bought oranges for the neighbours, and had my nails arted-up with gorgeous tiny goat figures on them.

For the holiday, we’re off to Penang tomorrow, to stay in a spa hotelee (with kids’ club!) and to buy some awesome paintings and whatevs. I spent most of yesterday trying to pack, but didn’t really get much done because I had to go to Pilates, and get a wax, and do the nail-art. And I had a lunch with Anastacia, and a dinner with my gay BFF and his amazebobs fun-tastic crowd.

Late last night when I got home, I heard a loud thud from Milly’s bedroom. I went up to see what all the kerfuffle was about, and there was Mills, looking quite distraught. She was wearing a bikini (which, might I add, I did not buy for her), and lying in a pile of clothes, magazines, and handbags, next to her full-length mirror.

“What happened, Mills??”, I asked, in the most motherly tone I could muster at that time of the evening on a tummy full of Chinese food and Sauv Blanc.

“I fell over, Mummy. I was thinking about what to bring on holiday, and looking in the mirror to see how I could look thinner. So I was all bending and stuff, and trying to get a thigh gap. And then I fell over. And I couldn’t even get a thigh gap!”

Argh, what now, now? What does my little tub of Mills want with a thigh gap? How does she even know what that is??

A strange feeling of intense disquietude came over me, and I realised that it was something I almost never feel. It was sadness. (Ugh, hate that!) Then came another astounding revelation: I felt sad because Milly felt sad! Now we all know that I am hugely empathetic, having done a six-month counselling course, but feeling sad because my daughter felt sad?! That’s a new one on me. She cries all the time, and generally it’s just irritating.

“But what do you want a thigh gap for, darling? You’re so beautiful as it is”, I said, shocked to find that I had a tears in my eyes, and that I truly, for the first time ever, saw that my little girl is beautiful.

[OMG, but this parenting mellarky gets emotional!! Why was I not warned about this?]

Mills pulled out one of the magazines, and, pointing at page after page of photos, said, “No, Mummy. I’m not beautiful. They are. And they have thigh gaps”.

Next on my roller coaster of emotions, a different feeling crept up, though I’m not sure what it was. (Must ask Cousin Clara.)

“Milly”, I told her, “These pictures aren’t real! You know about photoshopping, right, because you learn it at daycare, ya? These pictures might as well be cartoons! They’re just Frozen without the nice songs”.

I helped her into her pyjamas, dried her tears (mine too!), and tucked her up in bed.

“You’re real, and you’re lovely just as you are, and every day you get lovelier and lovelier. Now you have a good sleep, and some sweet dreams, and tomorrow you will feel better. It’ll all be ok.”

Then I did something I’ve never done – golly, what a day of firsts! – I sat with her in bed, stroking her hair, and I sang little songs until she fell asleep.

I probably haven’t mentioned it, but I do have an awesome singing voice.

I went down to our ensuite to get ready for bed, and yet again, a ton of products fell off the slippery shelves, crashing onto the floor. Why does that always happen to me?

When I got into bed, Don was awake – due to the slippery shelves – and asked if something was wrong.

“No babes, everything’s fine. Sorry about the noise. I’ll phone the landlord in the morning about the shelves. It’ll all be ok.”