The world is full of frustrated housewives.
Or so we are led to believe. Apparently I’m one too so I’m told, yes, apparently so, although I certainly don’t feel frustrated. After all it has been bought to my attention that it is generally considered, that a woman who has reached a certain age and thinks or writes about sex, must be sexually frustrated and not getting any; and also apparently, anything she does write about must be pure fantasy because otherwise, why would she need to write about it?
Yes, okay, I’m a bit irked about that suggestion but I can see why, stereo typically, someone who has not lived enough to be able to see life from my shoes might think that…
Stereo-typically, is this life?
We women strive from a very early age to find ‘the one’ he has to be everything we dream of. Animal instincts kick in at such an early age, the need to find someone genetically superior with whom to procreate. At school when we should be concentrating on being educated so we can be useful independent beings and it’s all chaste kisses behind the bike sheds and experimentation with peer pressure, gropes at the school disco and sixth form study sleep-ins are just a hotbed of fornication. At university it’s all ‘this party’, ‘that coffee shop’, ‘this bar’ to meet the lads, alcohol, perhaps drugs *shudders*. In the workplace its short skirts and heels, cleavage and mascara, trilled laughter at the photocopier, furtive touches at the water cooler, a quickie in the stationary cupboard. Yes, I’m prone to exaggeration but you get the picture. Because he is out there somewhere, our Prince Charming who will sweep into our lives and make us complete and as they say love is blind, is there really such a thing as perfect?
So he’s caught and ensnared by your girlish charms, the love life swirls in a vortex of passion and discovery. You get engaged, married; get a house, things swim along nicely in your D.I.N.K.Y lifestyle until the need for a small person rears its head. But this is progress, the next step in the chain, or so we are told. A child is born and yes, he/she is the ultimate in beautiful. Even at few weeks old when you have been getting up every 2 hours to feed, you mind is numb, overtiredness threatens to shatter your sanity, tears rolling down your face. The sink is full of washing up and you have no clean clothes because they are covered in upchucked milk; but the baby is still beautiful, thankfully, God Bless Mother Nature.
Fast forward a few years and you start feeling you have a grip on your life, yes, I did say years and I’m not kidding. If you are lucky you have got to stay at home and nursery starts allowing you a few precious hours breathing space; or as a working Mum you are still dropping off, working, picking up being Mum 24/7 – harsh. As life gets back into a manageable pattern and if you don’t have the mad urge to have another baby, what do you see when you look around you? A not so controlled house with wallpaper being shredded off the wall, or crayoned on? A tired and disgruntled husband who has taken second place in your life for three years and feels neglected? A nonexistent sex life due to sheer exhaustion? So you sit back and take stock. Your hair is a mess, your body flabby, you are tired and strained, a night out is a dim and distant flicker in your imagination, a day off seems impossible. Your husband thinks nothing of farting in front of you and cuts his toenails so they ping all over the bathroom floor, leaves his dirty socks rolled up in balls in the washing and expects you to pull them loose before they get washed.
Yep, it’s a nightmare. Your mind is waking up and it doesn’t know who the hell you are any more. Your body is waking up and you want to be flirtatious and sexy, you want romancing and loving, perhaps with a little hard fucking thrown in for good measure? Mr. Wonderful has become Mr. OhTooFamiliar and clawing back love and passion seems nigh on impossible. You no longer know who you are so how can you hope to find the ‘we’ again?
Bored, frustrated? Perhaps….
Sadly I’m no self help guru, the simple truth is I don’t have the answer. It’s a back to square one job. You can’t expect to be the woman you were pre-family so you need to find the woman you are now. The woman who has a family, who is tired, who needs to love and be loved in return. The only suggestion I can think of to make it work from here is communication and sharing. Marriage is hard, it never stops needing to be worked at and if you can’t talk you might as well call it quits now.
Find out what you need, in a world where everyone needs you – be aware that you have needs too, emotionally, physically, sexually, intellectually, you need to feel worthwhile and fulfilled and it is your husbands ‘job’ to contribute to you, as it is yours to contribute to him. You are in this together and if you want it to stay that way, you need to talk. So TALK!
The church bells sounded through the open bedroom window, five chimes of deep resonance stirred her awareness that the day was about to begin. She stretched her arm across the bed, it was empty. Sighing with something akin to relief Rachel stretched out across the space and breathed deeply relaxing her muscles. Tim had obviously got up and gone to work all right, her eyes still closed she allowed herself to drift into a gentle slumber.
“Moooommmmyyy!!” The 3 year old alarm clock launched himself at the bed which moved physically 2 inches across the floor from impact, oblivious, he snuggled into her arms his little hand reaching out and touching her face, she felt sleep leave her and motherhood take over.
“Have you been for a wee little man?” she kissed his head, snuffling the little boy morning smell and enjoyed her cuddle moment.
“No.” He sighed “I go now.” He shuffled off the bed and thumped across the floor to the bathroom, the clatter of the lid and several unfathomable bangs and crashes marked his progress. Peering blearily at the alarm clock she made out its illuminated numbers by squinting; 6.29.
“Mummy! I did sloppy poo! Pease wipe my bum!” she groaned inwardly resisting the necessity to leave her warm quilt cocoon, after years of changing nappies she had recently graduated to wiping bums, quite the promotion. This, however was her life, by choice it had to be said and if she was really honest, although motherhood was tiring and dealt with far too many disgusting bodily fluids; she loved being their mummy. That had never, in the 7 years she had been a full time Mum, ever been an issue. Climbing back in to bed, deed done she listened to him attacking the stairs with his latest toy car as he descended to watch telly until his big sisters woke up. Awake now, her thoughts moved away from family to the man who spiced up her life. She reached for her phone, there was a new message from Him.
“Good morning gorgeous lady, I’m looking forward to our lunch today, what is on the menu?”
She chuckled and replied “Me?” and stretched out on the bed a little more, relishing in the luxury.
It didn’t take long for the silent phone to light up again.
“Splendid idea! See you at 12 xx.” She grinned to herself slowly sinking into thought, waiting as the puzzling guilt washed over her again. She knew why she should feel guilty, adultery wasn’t a pretty thing, what puzzled her was why she needed to do it; and she did need to, her life, as full and as satisfying as it was with her three children and handsome lovely husband, was missing something, something that He provided. She always avoided thinking of him by name, that way a slip up could not occur, he was and had to remain her very well kept secret, as she had to remain his, there was only as far as she knew, one other person who knew about their relationship and she hoped for all their sakes that it stayed that way.
At 37 Rachel considered she had everything most women aimed for; a beautiful family with 3 usually well behaved children doing rather well at school. Two very good friends in Penny and Kate, they could share everything, they lived a distance apart now but it didn’t seem to change their bond. A great career, okay so she didn’t tell the world about her career, everyone she knew thought she was just a stay at home mother, the truth was she wrote an anonymous blog about women, relationships and their sex lives, something that her peers out there on the internet obviously related to, it was very well subscribed to and the viewing and advertising figures astounded her. She had published several erotic ebooks, mostly about sex that would make the school gates mum’s hair stand on end. As she moved through her everyday life she was always aware that the things she spent most of her time thinking about were not respectable or acceptable to think or, perish the thought, talk about.
She was constantly on her guard to watch her tongue and behave acceptably. It did make life rather hard. It was not the lack of being loved; she knew her family loved her. Nor the fact that she felt undesired, that was certainly not true, Tim desired her greatly and their sex life was what some people might call spicy. Yet some essential ingredient that her lover provided made her feel complete, she was unable to work out precisely what that ingredient was, it was so a combination of many things, most of them culminating from the intriguing, intelligent, deep and thoughtful man that he was. They communicated all day, via text, often talking on the phone if the opportunity presented itself and met when fate permitted, which was not often. Today was a rare day and rare days required to be relished. Today she might even feel like she actually fitted somewhere in the world, her brow furrowed at the thought.
Pulling herself out of bed she followed her son down the stairs, finding him curled up on the sofa watching telly she sauntered into the kitchen and turned the kettle on, the breakfast things were all ready out on the bench, the girls alarm would go off at seven so she had about 20 minutes to have a quiet cup of tea before the morning squabbles of ‘who spent too long in the bathroom’ and ‘so and so ate all the toast’ commenced. Rachel took her cup of tea and opening the back door lent against the frame and enjoyed the cool morning air, thinking through the plans for the morning. After the dreaded school run she had two and a half hours to work on her latest novel before leaving to meet Him at lunch time, smiling quietly at the prospect of a few hours quiet writing and then lunch, she drained the tea from her mug as Imogen dashed through the kitchen and threw herself around her mother’s legs, closely followed by Violet, who at seven was far too grown up for such forceful displays of affection.
“Morning you two, tuck in to breakfast then up to the bathroom, I will put your uniform on your beds, chop chop!” She reminded them as they started climbing onto stools and bickering about cereal. “Finn!” she called the tv addict from the other room. “Come and eat!”
“I wanna watch telly!” came the truculent reply. She considered the possibility of removing the fuse from the TV’s plug for 30 seconds as she headed into the lounge.
“and I want to dance the tango on the Parisian left bank in a gold sequined dress with feathers in my hair! It’s not happening for either of us is it love.” She turned the TV off, he frowned at her looking so much like his father she chuckled “come on Finn, breakfast time, then we need to get you dressed and to nursery to paint pictures for me.” he grinned,
“Pictures of Mummy with Imogen and Violet. I’m paint a train today too!” the budding artist scurried off the sofa and joined his sisters in the kitchen.
Considering her progress with pushing her son’s buttons Rachel smiled as she made her way back upstairs to the bathroom. Catching sight of herself in the mirror she paused frowning, wondering who that woman was, the wrinkles and far too bright, almost tearful eyes always caught her by surprise. When had she got so old? Staring at her reflection she reminded herself that she was still an attractive woman, never classically beautiful but not bad.
“You are okay, stop fretting.” She chastised herself moving on auto pilot through the motions of her life.
The school run passed in its usual fashion. Frustrated threats of no treats, bribes for good behaviour, a mad chase through the town to school and nursery followed by the usual polite smiles to the other parents, standing in little groups talking about mundane details of their lives. Rachel propelled her children to where they had to be, trying to blend in and not show how out of place she felt in this cosy little world, this crowd avoidance she had off to a fine art. Children dispatched she headed home for a shower, dressed properly and attacked her laptop keys with heavy fingers as the smutty ideas flowed, no writing procrastination today, mostly due to the washing mountain and ironing pile that would otherwise demand her attention. At 11.30 her phone buzzed on the desk. ‘Don’t forget me!’ was the simple message. Astonished at the time she posted her latest musings on her blog, shut the laptop lid hastily and checking her face and congratulating herself at getting ready before she sat down to work, she fled her life toward her liaison.
© Juliette Turrell