First Impressions, Nearing Forty

A few weeks ago I was shouted at by someone in the school playground. She felt that she had been wronged by me and was simply not listening to my reasoning. She even felt that she needed to humiliate and demean me by illustrating her ‘intelligence’ as opposed to what she perceived as my lack of intelligence. In my latest role as a childminder I have experienced a new level of attitude towards myself and my being which is frankly more revealing about others than myself.

Ever since the incident I have been eye-balled twice every day by this particular persons ‘friends’ and I have had someone who does not know me from Adam say that for me things are ‘all about the money’. I think this comment is very telling about where we live. My life choices have never been about money and never will be, although to a certain extent I am tied by the necessity for money.

Anyway, all of this drama got me thinking about how people judge you on appearance, their impression of your demeanour, the job you do for a living and frankly rumour. Lets be honest here, I’m not going to win supermodel mother of the year, I’m not even going to fit in with the Boden clad masses, I’m a jeans and t-shirt girl. That’s not to say I don’t love fashion, in fact, I’m exceptionally clued up on fashion due to curating a costume collection and a desire to study History of Fashion at university when I retire from my daily chores and the children have flown the nest. However, I have neither the funds nor the inclination to make my life harder than it is by being a slave to appearance on the school run.

In terms of demeanour, I’m invariably late on the school run and to be honest my daily patience reserves will have been somewhat depleted as I attempt to drag a child out of bed and to school who really doesn’t want to be there. I’m guilty of not making much of an effort and not to talking  to people, but that’s not to say I am not pleasant and polite to those who make the effort. I’m also notoriously bad at small talk, I don’t watch a great deal of television and have little interest in sport. I did once have a lovely chat with someone about the political and sociological aspects of Parades End. I assume they have similar chit chat issues as me.

The point I’m trying to make is that I have been judged by appearance, lack of ability to make small talk, rumour which they have not bothered to clarify whether it is true or not and the job that I do by a particular group of school mums. I will never be in their circle and would never want to be.  They are clueless, if there is one thing I have learnt over the years it is never to judge on appearances or first impressions.

Beneath all of this analysis lies the fact that in a few years I will be forty and I am finding this time in my life very retrospective. I spent a few hours the other night thinking about my life so far and what I have experienced and achieved and I must say I thought that it was actually a really useful exercise. When I started listing all the things I have done I realised that actually, I’ve had an incredibly interesting and varied life so far and have done many things which most people could only dream about, listed here are just a few things:

  • Dug up skeletons of Anglo Saxons, Romans and many others
  • Dug up ritually deposited Mesolithic antler bones
  • Dug on a prehistoric site in a cave in the South of France
  • Walked around the race track in Monte Carlo
  • Collected wild almonds with a shepherd in Andalusia
  • Attended parties with proper bone fide rock stars
  • Attended the very first gigs which Oasis and Coldplay ever played
  • Attended three top universities
  • Taken a flight in the Goodyear Blimp
  • Travelled across Western Australia
  • Swum in shark infested waters
  • Climbed the worlds tallest trees
  • Visited the Ancient Egyptian Mummy store behind the scenes at the British Museum
  • Been a curator at the Natural History Museum and disco danced under the dinosaur in the main hall
  • Held Anna Pavlovas ballet shoes
  • Flicked through the manuscript that was typed by Jack Nicholson in The Shining
  • Held an Oscar
  • Attended film premieres
  • Eaten at The Ivy, Rick Steins and some other fab restaurants
  • Had three wonderful children
  • Visited the costume store at the V & A and looked at the dresses of royals, celebrities and designers
  • Bought a house
  • Held one of Darwin’s finches and plants collected by Joseph Banks, Soane and Darwin
  • Helped build a roundhouse
  • Inspire lots of children to learn more about archaeology
  • Had thousands of people read my writing
  • Foraged and camped in the proper wilderness
  • Stroked a Rhino

But to the parents at school I am just a frumpy, grumpy mum worthy of bullying but not talking to. Never judge a book by its cover. So alongside this, and I have probably another 150 things I would add to this list at least I thought it might be worth drawing up a list of things which I would like to do before I am forty. That gives me a deadline of roughly 2 and a half years. I’ve decided to make this an entire separate page, a sort of mission statement which I can add to and tick off as I wish. Please go and have a look and if you can help me tick something off do get in touch!


7 Responses

  1. Anonymous 30th September 2012 / 3:15 pm

    Hi – you are not alone. I find the school run very stressful and feel lots of pressure. It feels a bit like being back at school – with pressure to look good, be full of interesting chat and to hang out with the "in-crowd". I know quite a few mums who have felt bullied by other mums – the very people who would be horrified if their kids were bullied. You have done so much with your

  2. Anonymous 30th September 2012 / 6:39 pm

    I&#39;d rather be me than some sheep who feels they have to wear a certain item of clothing to fit in. Look at the what you&#39;ve done – I bet their lives pale into insignificance ;-)<br />Don&#39;t give them a second thought – they are nothing but bullies and as we all know bullies are nothing but cowards, they hunt in packs because it makes them feel better about themselves.<br />You are worth

  3. cartside 30th September 2012 / 9:12 pm

    I&#39;m trying hard to not ever go down the route of thinking what others are thinking about me. I&#39;ve done far too much of that and it just gets in the way. It&#39;s not easy though. I still find it extremely annoying if people appear to judge me without knowing me properly.

  4. Aussie Mum 1st October 2012 / 1:24 am

    Sorry the school run is turning out to be such a horrible experience – but at least you are doing your best to rise above it. I love your bucket list to do before 40 – alas I have missed my opportunity to do this but perhaps 50 is the new 40? Lets hope so. Big hugs to you and yours. xxxx

  5. SillyLilly 1st October 2012 / 2:12 pm

    Poor you – this sounds so toxic. If your child doesn&#39;t want to be in school, then have you seriously considered home education? It&#39;s a real option, and might suit you and your undoubted energy well?<br />See:<br />and<br /><br />Otherwise, stay strong!<br />

  6. Fiona Orr 4th October 2012 / 1:48 pm

    These people sound really poisonous, Claire!I haven&#39;t done half of what you have and I am 15 years older! I have done different things which I too am happy about and neither of us feel the need to boast about it. You are the bigger person that these losers! Keep it up!

  7. Anonymous 6th February 2013 / 7:07 am

    Why on earth did you attend three universities? Initial degree at one, professional degree at another, Masters at the third? Lucky you. No hope of being a perpetual student these days with the costs of university life.

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