Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Dear Daughter...

A letter to a daughter at university. 
Year one, term one:

Dear Daughter,

Hi honey, I'm glad you're enjoying your first few weeks at university and I hope you've managed to unpack the 736 assorted boxes and bags you took with you. You're probably right, you never know when a shower caddy is going to come in handy. Or fairylights. Or a special holder for your collection of mascara.

I really hope you're looking after yourself now and your head is on the mend. Just a thought sweetheart, but perhaps you would benefit from paying a bit more attention to your immediate surroundings and a little less attention to passing mechanics. Lampposts will be much more avoidable that way, as will spending the subsequent three hours in A&E. I'm sure he did have very nice arms, but I don't really care how nice his arms were. And of course, you won't always be known as That Girl Who Walked Into a Lamppost, people will forget. Eventually. Probably.

On the bright side severe concussion gave you the chance to dry out for a few days. Though when the hospital doctor advised going 96 hours without alcohol, I'm sure he didn't mean exactly 96 hours. To the minute.

At least you're eating, though I'm not completely convinced a diet of Muller Rice, chocolate, grapes and grapes dipped in chocolate will meet your nutritional needs for long. Not everything explodes in a microwave I promise, it just must have been one of those things. I hope you managed to clean it up properly.

Please try to be a little bit more careful with your money sweetheart. I know it looks like a lot when it first arrives in your bank account but it has to last quite a long time and I'm not sure Sainsburys will have Muller Rice on a two for one offer all term.

The shoes are nice though, as are the dresses, all of them, and the new pyjamas. And the duvet cover. I'm not too sure about the coat though. Or that you really need any more mascaras and definitely not three more. In a week.

Anyway honey, I'll sign off for now. You take care, we're all missing you very much. See you soon.


Mummy xxx

An actual student meal

Saturday, 11 October 2014

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Mother ...

The TeenTwins have been at university for a month and apart from embarrassing tears (mine) when we deposited them in their newly separate parts of the big wide world, they've taken to student life with commendable ease and enthusiasm.

There's been a few ups and downs, of course, and again, they've mostly been mine.

The first week they were gone I stood in their ransacked bedroom, with half the posters missing from the walls and three weeks of dirty mugs, plates and bowls stacked, neatly, on the dressing table like leaving gifts, and had a little weep. And not only because of the mounting bacteria levels.

When TeenTwin1 succumbed to "Freshers flu" in her first couple of weeks and ended up with a chest infection, something she's been prone to since a baby, she rang sounding sad and wan triggering an instinctive maternal hug reaction. It was just unfortunate I was in the supermarket when she rung, I'm still apologising to the trolley boy.

Then TeenTwin2 banged her head, quite badly, and texted a cry for help that her head hurt and her hands were numb. Though her hands weren't so numb that she couldn't manage to text, update her Facebook status and send a Snapchat of the resulting bump on her head, but still, it was worrying. She spent several hours in A&E flirting with a neurosurgeon and being diagnosed with concussion. I, on the other hand, spent those hours frantically panicking and chewing my nails too many miles away to be any use.

Slowly I'm coming to terms with shopping and cooking for four instead of the usual six. There were a puzzling couple of weeks when I marvelled daily why the fridge was never empty, the bread never gone and the biscuit tin still full when the pair of them claimed to never eat anything at all.

I'm even beginning to appreciate a new found domestic freedom. No longer do I have to scale a small hillock of smalls to reach the washing basket, or do three washes a day every day which is as puzzling as the never empty fridge; the TeenTwins were practically welded into their onesies and if they got dressed at all, wore what looked like very little indeed.

They've both kept in, frankly surprising, regular touch thankfully via the marvels of the internet and video chat as well as with a stream of phone calls and texts, making it highly probable and probably ironic that we've had more one to one conversations in recent weeks than we had all summer.

But I am adjusting and, in time, I might even stop checking their room on the way to bed each night because, empty, it's still a little wrench in the heart everyday.

And obviously they miss me too. Obviously.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Thanks for the Mammaries

A complete stranger manhandled my breasts this week.

There were even pictures taken, though I suspect they're not the sort that will be shared online by a hacker any time soon,

So, obviously, I'm having to share it myself.....

... because October is Breast Cancer Awareness month when being breast aware is definitely not about Googling images of Jennifer Lawrence in the altogether.

The Leeds and Wakefield Breast Screening Service sends invitations out every three years to women aged between 47 and 73 to attend their clinics for a mammogram (an x-ray of the breast which can detect the early signs of cancer). So few women take up these invitations that earlier this year the all-female team of radiographers held a drop in event in the local shopping centre to encourage more women to attend their appointments.

I can almost understand those women's reluctance. Having a mammogram is as intimate and uncomfortable as cervical screening but it is also just as necessary. One thousand women die from breast cancer in the UK every single month.

A mammogram can detect small changes in the breast before they can either be seen or felt, and early detection and treatment does save lives: eight out of ten women now survive breast cancer beyond ten years. 

This week I had my second mammogram and it wasn't as scary as the first mammogram I had three years ago because, of course, I'd been there and done that. I knew what to expect, I wasn't phased that a woman I'd never met before matter of factly lolloped (there is no other word for it) my breasts about, nor the deep squeeze of the screening machine. I wasn't even hurt there were no flowers afterwards, nor an invite for coffee.*

In three years time when it's time for my next check up, there's a very real danger I'll have such a blase approach, I shall be whipping off my bra on the way up in the lift. Advance apologies to anyone visiting the eye clinic that week.

I don't learn the results of the screening for a couple of weeks, ironically slap bang in the middle of Breast Cancer Awareness month, but I did learn one thing. I would be absolute rubbish as a stripper or a porn star because there is something very strange about standing around topless and wearing shoes.

*Amends list of possible careers*

You can support Breast Cancer Awareness either by fund-raising for or donating to Cancer Research UKBreast Cancer Care  or the Breast Cancer Campaign. The Breast Cancer Campaign want people to raise money and awareness and Wear It Pink on Friday October 24th.

*Well, maybe just a little bit.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A Lament For My Towels ...

The late, great Douglas Adams once wrote "You've got to know where your towel is."

And I do. In fact, for the past few years I have known where every towel in the house is at any given time.

Several would be reclining damply across the bathroom floor, Several more curled, like sleeping (damp) cats, across the TeenTwins' bedroom floor. Thirty six of them would have been used once and dropped in the wash basket. Or, more accurately, on top of the wash basket.

The bathroom floor was the battlefield on which towels did not come to die, but dyed brutally nevertheless. Or else they succumbed, tattered and suddenly pale, to the peroxide chemical warfare mercilessly unleashed in the quest for red hair. Or blue hair. Or green.

I tried my best. Tended the limp, picked up the lame, Washed them and dried them and then, Douglas forgive me, sent them back to the fray.

With the departure to university of the TeenTwins, with a whole pile of new, soft and fluffy towels each, obviously, I dared to entertain hopes that for the first time in years I might be able to walk across the bathroom floor unimpeded by saddened, damp towel debris underfoot.

I didn't entertain those hopes for long though.

The 13 year old is a new Teen, but is just like the old Teens. Within what seemed like minutes of the TeenTwins vacating the premises, she was strewing towels around the place with as much abandon as they ever did and more. Even the piano has suddenly been called upon to play a pivotal, if inexplicable, role as a towel rack.

But at least The Boy isn't following in his sisters' reign of towel terror. Oh no. He much prefers to gallop naked around the house after a bath eschewing the use of any towels at all.

So, that's good.

*Cries a bit*

What my towels never look like

Monday, 15 September 2014

Leaving Home ....

We took TeenTwin1 to university yesterday and it proved to be just as emotional as I thought it would be. 

When we drove away I was definitely in the running to win all the Embarrassing Mother awards to be handed out in 2014 and rapidly becoming a firm favourite in the Most Embarrassing Car Passenger awards. I didn't just weep, I bawled. As if I'd left her in the wilderness abandoned and alone, rather than in a cosy little house in one of the most beautiful cities in the world with three very nice girls, several bottles of wine, 36 toilet rolls, eight pints of milk, three kettles and a whole load of excitement, adventure and really wild times spanning in front of her.

By the time we got home I'd managed to regain control with just the odd sniff and suddenly teary eyes which I could blame on the dust, of which we have an abundance.

Or I had until TeenTwin2 wrote this on Facebook:

She's not even been gone 10 minutes and already the emptiness of her side of the room is horrible.
18 years we've shared a room, with the exception of an odd weekend here or there. And now she's not even in the same city as me.
The small benefits such as being able to play my own music without having her moan because she'd rather play hers is nothing compared to how much I miss her already.
Going from seeing her everyday to seeing her once a month if that is going to break my heart but I hope she flourishes and loves university.
If you all think it's hard going to uni and leaving behind parents and pets and friends and boyfriends, try leaving your twin.
She's someone who biologically could not be closer to me, but she's also mentally my best friend and closest person; she's my other half.
I love you. Enjoy yourself and I shall see you as soon as possible.

And on Thursday we take TeenTwin2 to another university in yet another town.
*Wails again*
*Doesn't stop*

Holding on and not letting go, taking TeenTwin1 to university 

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