Anne E. Thompson

After Christmas

Hello, Happy Monday! How was your Christmas? Mine was wonderful, though with a few mishaps (there often are in my house).

Our first less-than-professional action was when we had friends for curry one evening before Christmas. They come most weeks, and Husband (bless him) decided it was time to use those left-over crackers that everyone has lurking in the Christmas decorations box from a bygone year. He didn’t mention his good idea to me, otherwise I would have warned him.

Friends arrived, smiled when they saw there were crackers, decided who would pull one with who, all very excited. I arrived too late to say anything, and sat there wondering if Husband understood about the crackers and had planned accordingly. He didn’t, and he hadn’t. The crackers were those ‘fill-your-own’ ones that I had bought (and filled) a few years ago, stuffing them with paper hats and packets of seeds and miniature whiskeys. Husband had not stuffed them with anything, so everyone pulled a completely empty cracker! We searched through the recycling bin and found the hats and jokes in the bottom of the box, but to be honest, they weren’t a great success.

The next major mishap was Christmas dinner, because I forgot to get the turkey out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature before I put it in the oven. Which meant that everything was ready to eat, except the turkey. The vegetarians didn’t care (I don’t like to think they were gleeful and suggested that none of us should have been eating meat) but I felt very annoyed with myself. I ended up slicing it (it was a turkey breast, not even a whole bird, so really I have no excuse). I then fried it, and people ate it after they had started eating everything else. At least I realised in time and didn’t give everyone food poison, but it was a rooky mistake and I should have known better.

The rest of Christmas was great. People were very generous, and we had some lovely moments with the family, just relaxing together, playing games and chatting. The house is now a mess, and my jeans have shrunk (happens every year at this time) and I’m tired. But it has been good.

My boys (who aren’t really boys any more because they grew into men while I wasn’t noticing) are currently downstairs cooking dinner. They are making a dish that involves a whole packet of blue cheese. I don’t like blue cheese, but they tell me that I will like it in the dish they are preparing, as it will taste completely different. This is the sort of thing I used to tell them when they were little, so I don’t like to argue (plus I am very grateful that I don’t have too cook). I’m sure it will be delicious.

Hope you had a nice Christmas, and are looking forward to the new year. Hoping for a healthy one.
Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson
Thank you for reading Why not sign up to follow my blog?

A Shopping Trip

I am still enjoying the freedom of life now that the severity of Covid seems to be dwindling. Even normal things feel like a novelty.

We both had an empty day, so I persuaded Husband that we should have a day out. I suggested a garden centre near Horsham, because I was keen to try and find some white dianthus. I have searched a few places for white dianthus (a small plant with silvery leaves and small chrysanthemum-type flowers that will look very nice next to my lavender). No one seems to sell it, everyone has the pink variety, which I don’t want.

Husband agreed to the day out, but preferred a different garden centre (Coolings) because they have big fish, and he likes looking at big fish. Coolings is also sort-of on the way to Tunbridge Wells, and we needed to buy some walking clothes, so we decided to combine the two. Shopping is not really my idea of a fun day out, but hey-ho, had to be done because we’re planning a trip Up North.

The garden centre was lovely, with lots of plants arranged round statues outdoors, taped birdsong indoors, and a fish centre brimming with giant koi carp. Honestly, the fish were HUGE! We watched them for a while, creamy flesh with pink blotches, saggy mouths gaping, the occasional splash when one jumped. The fish were interesting too! They cost hundreds of pounds, and if they were in our pond would probably be a tasty snack for the birds (upper-class dining for herons) so watching them was as far as it got.

We then drove to Tunbridge Wells, and had a sandwich in Costa for lunch. Such a novelty! I have been very careful during the pandemic to not catch anything that I might pass on to my mother, so coffee shops are now quite a treat. Doesn’t it feel nice to inch our way into normal again?

We found two outdoorsy-clothes shops and ventured inside. Both had a mix of branded clothes and cheaper own-label clothes. They all looked the same to me, but I had been told which ones would be waterproof, and which ones would ‘breathe’ so I knew they were different. The prices were very different. Very hard to pay lots of money for something that’s going to be mostly covered in mud or rolled up in a back-pack. But I am assuming that a walking holiday in the UK will involve at least some rain, so we need to be prepared.

Tried on some waterproof trousers. Felt like a plastic sausage. Shuffled noisily round the shop to show Husband, who raised his eye-brows but didn’t comment. Added a coat, didn’t look any better, but felt very hot. Had trouble with fancy multi-way zipper, and wondered if I would have to ask to wear the coat home. Worried about breaking it, eventually escaped. Husband had found some half-price men’s coats. He suggested that I could buy an extra small one for myself. I have lots of men’s clothes, fancied wearing something with a waist. We discussed the sense of this when I looked like a plastic sausage anyway. The sales assistant edged away. I insisted that I wanted a coat designed for a female and Husband relented, muttering slightly about the price difference and the number of times it would be worn and the general state of my appearance anyway. I ignored him.

I was wearing my nearly-new walking boots (important to wear them in) so we clomped to the next shop and saw all the same stuff at roughly the same prices. I managed to find a coat with a zipper I could operate. It’s slightly longer than most other coats being sold, which seem to barely be waist-length. I was keen to cover as much of the plastic-sausage legs as possible, and a longer coat means there will be fewer times I will need to wear them.

I suggested that we could browse a few other shops, seeing as were there, and Tunbridge Wells is a pretty town with some nice shops. Received a short answer. We came home. A success all round, as I had three small dianthus plants, and we both had waterproof coats and trousers. I will almost feel disappointed if it doesn’t rain now!

Hope you have some happy weather this week. Take care.
Thanks for reading.
Love, Anne x

Life After Exams

Life After Exams

Yaay! My exams have finished. I write this the day after my Greek exam, and I have a slight headache. I have had a slight headache for a while now—almost as if my brain is over-stretched by all the facts I have been trying to cram into it. But my languages course is completed and that is such a good feeling. It has been fun, but the exams were scary.

Lots of scribbled notes with silly sentences to help me remember them.

 Friday was busy. The house has been ignored for several weeks, so as soon as my last exam was finished, I cleaned up the kitchen a bit, ready for friends coming for dinner. The dog watched in alarm, especially when she saw her bed going into the washing-machine. She sat guard next to it for a while, then came to give me little nudges in case I hadn’t realised her bed was missing, and finally sat, very pointedly, in the space where her bed should have been.

Reunited with her clean bed.

The animals continued to ignore the fact that I was very busy, and on Wednesday old cat died. It’s always very sad when animals are old and unhappy, and when I went to see her Wednesday morning she gave me that look, letting me know that she had had enough. She was over twenty, and was a good friend to my daughter when she lived at home, so although the cat pretty much hated me, it was still sad to let her go.

Son 2 was working in the kitchen on Wednesday, and had angled his computer so there was a lovely view of the garden behind him during Zoom meetings. We all tiptoed around the kitchen so as not to disturb him, and all was going well—we were being good parents—until Husband forgot and walked past the window behind him carrying the cat. Probably not what Son 2 was hoping for, but we tried…

We had a tree down this week too. Did you have a big storm midweek? We didn’t have much wind, but the excessive rain was obviously enough weight to make half a tree snap off and fall across the garden. Dog went to investigate and was very perturbed that her route to the garden had changed. Two fat cats who live in the garden looked particularly innocent, which makes me wonder whether they had been up the tree when it happened and their combined weight helped the branch to snap—but they deny all knowledge.

This is a short blog because I need to continue cleaning the house. I keep finding all my scribbled revision notes in every room, paradigms to learn while I cooked or put washing in the machine. Not sure what to do with them —feels silly to keep them. I don’t suppose I shall ever look at them again, but they represent hours of my life. They are mostly all in the bin now.

So have a good week, and enjoy everything that you complete. I’m going to find the vacuum cleaner…though I do have ice-creams in the freezer and I can hear Husband and son leaving the house, so possibly I shall change the plan…

Bye for now.

Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson
Thank you for reading Why not sign up to follow my blog?
I saw this online, and it made me laugh. I know just how they felt!

Family Chaos

You can’t control animals (or children…or husbands!)

As you know, I am trying to revise for exams. The Hebrew one is finished (I smashed it!) but the more I revise Greek, the more I realise I have forgotten/never understood in the first place. I have a feeling of rising panic growing inside as the exam date moves relentlessly nearer.

Now, I thought that I had at least sorted all the animals so that I could devote my time fully to my studies. I had timed the hatching of the eggs in the incubator so the ducks would be fully-grown and on the pond, I stocked up on supplies of pet food, incorporated cleaning-out times in my schedule. I was prepared. Except I wasn’t.

Firstly, the local fox decided to produce cubs, which meant it began to visit my garden at odd times of the day to snatch a chicken. The only way to keep them safe is to keep them locked inside for a few weeks until my garden is no longer seen as an easy source of food. This means the chickens now need cleaning-out more often, and they kick dirt into their water, and generally make everything more work.

Then mother duck started to sit on another nest. I calculated the date, and sure enough, they hatched this week. Which means they are now in the pond-cage I was planning to put the fully-grown ‘ducklings’ in. Which means they have to stay confined in the big cage (because if I release them on the pond now, they will sleep on the bank, not return to the pond-cage, and greedy fox will eat them—see above.) Ducks mainly spend their day putting mud into their water, which means I have to keep refreshing it. Which takes time. The new ducklings are cute, but add to the workload as I have to keep checking one isn’t stuck somewhere, plus food and clean-up schedule.

Then grumpy-old-cat-who-hates-me has started to walk further afield. She is over 20, and can hardly walk, but has decided that she will visit the outside cats each morning. They hate each other, so I’m not sure why. But she tends to climb into places that she cannot then get out of, so I have to keep remembering to check where she is in case she needs rescuing. Which takes time.

It reminds me of when my children were young, and they didn’t fit neatly into a schedule either. I’m not quite sure how families manage when they both work. I worked fulltime for one year when my children were aged 4, 6, and 8—and I collapsed in a heap at the end of the year and switched to a part-time contract. Children do not save their crises for convenient times. They will be devastated because someone doesn’t want to be their friend, or lose one shoe (only ever one) or start vomiting on those days when you have a deadline and extra stress and really need everything to be calm.

Husbands can also be a challenge (though mine is lovely of course). Yesterday Husband kindly cooked the dinner, which was incredibly kind. We had fishcakes, and rocket (nicely garnished with a tomato) and chips—all of which were lovely. There was also a dressing to go on the salad. It was a new creation, and had a pleasant taste to start with, followed by bit of a kick and then a slow burn. I don’t believe it was from a recipe book. After much discussion, the ingredients were revealed as: oil, garlic, oregano, seasoning, garlic (lots of this I think) and whiskey (which explains the burn!) I will send the recipe on request.

Hope you have an organised week—or ride the chaos with a smile if not.

Thanks for reading.

Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson
Thank you for reading Why not sign up to follow my blog?

Why not sign up to follow my blog?


Christmas Memories. . .

One of the best things about Christmas is the memories. Do you have happy ones?

 I remember as a child, lying in bed and straining to hear the bells of Santa’s sleigh. Every year, sometime in late December, I would hear him—playing loud seventies pop music—as his sleigh drove around my home town. Mum would give us coins for the people rattling tins, and we would rush out, and Santa would lean over his sleigh (balanced on the back of a lorry—but that never struck me as strange) and pass us sweets. The sweets were never especially nice, but they were oh! so exciting! because they came directly from Father Christmas. (And thank you to the Letchworth Roundtable for organising this snippet of joy.)

My father always cooked Christmas lunch, after church and after his siblings had come round for a glass of sherry. We never ate very early. He cooked a wonderful dinner, and used absolutely every saucepan in the house. His speciality was the gravy, which was rich and smooth, made with meat juices and stock—it was like soup and he always made enough for about 57 people (and we never, as far as I can remember, had more than our family of 5 for Christmas lunch). Every year mouth-watering smells would seep out from the kitchen, and one of us would ‘volunteer’ to be Dad’s helper. This involved washing up for about 3 hours straight. Eventually the dinner would be ready, and we would carry the food to the dining table in the front room (only ever used on Christmas Day and for ‘posh’ meals with guests). Every year my parents would laugh at how late the lunch was (it often clashed with the Queen’s speech). Very often, to our dismay, we would have just said grace and be about to start when the phone would ring, and it would be ‘Aunty Pam from America.’ This was a big deal for my parents (she was my mum’s sister, but we didn’t really know her, so we mostly resented the intrusion).

When I was young, Father Christmas came secretly in the night and left a knitted sock of gifts on the end of our beds. (The socks were from my Dad’s wellies, and there was one terrible Christmas Eve when we couldn’t find them!) We could open the gifts as soon as we were awake, so we tended to wake very early. There was always an orange and a slightly bruised apple. My Dad would always get up and sit in his dressing gown watching us. When I was older, I realised that he had made some of the gifts himself, and I can guess how excited he would have been to watch us discover the farmyard, or the fort, or the puppet theatre. There is a certain smell of wood varnish, which even today zaps me straight back to Christmas Day.

I am now a mother, and I have another layer of memories with my own children. When they were small, Christmas Eve was all about preparing the food. I would turn a loaf of bread into crumbs for the stuffing, and a chubby toddler would eat all the crusts. We would sit in front of a film in the afternoon with a tray of sprouts, peeling them and tossing them into the colander ready for the next day. The youngest would diligently peel layer after layer, and then announce: “This one’s empty,” before starting on the next one.

I was always too excited to sleep Christmas Eve, waiting for them to wake and open their ‘Father Christmas presents.’ They all woke disappointingly late, and then would want to savour each gift before opening the next one (not my genes). As soon as they were old enough, I forced them to agree that we would open ‘stocking gifts’ on Christmas Eve, after dinner. I manage to sleep better.

We now all share the buying of stocking gifts, everyone adding small gifts or jokes to the named bags. Then we sit round, laughing at the person who received 29 bars of soap, or the funny tee-shirt that I bought after a glass of wine and sorely regretted ever after. . . And I know that Christmas is about God coming into the world as a baby, and knowing his peace, and being able to know him—but to be honest, this Christmas Eve opening of gifts is my favourite part of Christmas, it is just us, under the twinkle of lights from the tree, warm and relaxed, sharing laughter and love.

This Christmas will be different, an adapting of plans due to Covid, but I hope it will still be special. I hope that you will find ways to make it lovely, I hope that you add some more special memories to the storehouse in your mind.

Happy Christmas 2020 from me.

Love, Anne x

Quarantime to Read. . . Counting Stars: Discharged

Chapter Four

She doesn’t look, think, or fight like James Bond, but sometimes a mother simply has to do whatever it takes. . .


Due to the KDP rules on Amazon, I am not allowed to upload a whole book anywhere other than on the KDP site. I can therefore share chapters with you, but must remove them when read.


If you would like to read the whole story, or perhaps buy a copy for a friend, it is available from an Amazon near you. The link is below:

To be continued. . .

Thank you for reading
Why not sign up to follow my blog?



QuaranTime to Read. . . The Conclusion

Chapter Twenty-Two

It was Sunday afternoon. Abigail was hiding upstairs with a book, and some chocolate she had found, lying forgotten at the back of the fridge.

Jane had cleared away the remains of lunch and was now snuggled on the sofa with a magazine. She flicked the glossy pages, absorbing colours and moods but not bothering to read the articles. It was one of those deliciously lazy afternoons, where no one could be bothered to do much, and nothing was urgent.

Christopher had spread his train set across the carpet and then gone to find his father. They were working together now, moving in easy silence, constructing the track. Painted trains, one missing a wheel, were pushed in a heap under the table as they joined the pieces to form a route. It stretched from the door to the opposite corner, circling a shoe and curving around a chair. It was decidedly unstable where it climbed to go over a rug and Jane doubted it was structurally sound. She was glad there were no passengers.

She watched Peter’s back as he bent to repair the track. The sun caught his hair, highlighting the few white strands. She knew every curve of his body, every crease of his face. The feel and smell of him were as familiar as her own reflection.

“This is what I want,” she realised, certain now of her decision. “This is secure, safe, familiar. I can be at peace here, with this man. It may not always be exciting but it lets me be who I want to be.”

She knew, deep inside, that her decision had been the right one. She might be ignored sometimes, though was probably not as invisible as she felt. Undoubtedly, they would argue and she would be hurt because Peter was selfish. But maybe everyone was selfish, some were just better at hiding it. Nor did he understand her fully. But he understood enough, and he did try—she knew that now. As she had evaluated their life together, forced herself to be fair, she knew that if she was to keep a tally of wet towels on the floor and late nights on her own, she also had to note the surprise gifts, the phone calls when he was away, the security of a husband who worked hard.

She still remembered their early days together, the thrill of seeing him. That excitement had worn away now, become mundane—but would it last forever with anyone? Surely in time, even the most exciting of lovers would become familiar. At the end of the day, she would be swapping a man with—another man, and they were not really so very different at the core.

As father and son played together, intent on their task and oblivious to her thoughts, Jane felt that her whole life had led up to this point. She was deciding to stay. It was her choice. She thought about the smell of Peter, the warmth of his body, the way they fitted together so perfectly when they snuggled. She thought about the shared experiences, how their eyes could say so much to each other, the times they laughed together. It was a lot to risk, a lot to lose.

Peter looked up, smiling to see her watching.

“I could kill for a cup of tea,” he said.

As Jane filled the kettle, her bag on the table began to vibrate. She scooped out her mobile phone.

One new message from Matthew’ the illuminated screen informed her.

She stood very still, not breathing. The timing was eerie. But she had decided. She was staying; she wasn’t going to mess with what she already had.

She pressed ‘menu’. She scrolled down to ‘messages’, selected ‘clean up messages’ and chose ‘all’. Obediently, the phone wiped all messages from its memory.

“I don’t owe him anything, not even politeness,” thought Jane. “He knew I was married; he knew what he was asking me to gamble, and if he’d really cared, he wouldn’t have asked.”

Slowly, Jane slipped the phone back into her bag. She would miss him, and for a moment, tears stung her eyes, her heart aching for what might have been and the savouring of those last wisps of memory of how he had made her feel.

But she knew she was right, knew that whilst this might not be perfect, it was the better choice. She switched on the kettle and pulled down a purple mug.

Outside, a bird began to sing, and Jane paused, watching as it fluffed its chest and warbled its song.

She did not notice the cat below the bush, preparing to pounce.


Chapter Twenty-Three

Jane pulled the shoe off the shelf. White satin, with a tiny bow—it  would suit the dress. As she turned towards the fitting room, she glimpsed her reflection in one of the mirrors. Her hair was looking very grey, she hadn’t had time to colour her roots for ages. Not that it mattered, the hair appointment had been booked weeks ago, tomorrow they would turn it back to the brown of younger days.

The curtain parted, and Abigail stepped forwards. A beautiful, untouchable Abigail. The white lace dress fell to the floor in waves, a fish-tail train sweeping the floor. The bodice fitted her slim frame, a scalloped neckline revealing glimpses of shoulder.

She grinned at Jane and walked forwards. Her stride was not particularly princess-like, more a stomp as she struggled with the excess material. It reminded Jane of the girl she had been, the way her feet used to turn inwards, how her shoes were always scuffed. Unbidden, tears filled her eyes. It felt like yesterday, and now that determined girl was a young woman. But still her daughter, still a little girl in her heart.

“Do you like it?” said Abigail, noticing her mother’s rapid blinks and checking they were for the right reason.

“Yes,” said Jane. It was all she could say for a moment. She took a breath, and held up the shoes. “What about these?”

Abigail wrinkled her nose. “They’re a bit high,” she said.

Jane smiled. “I remember when all you wanted were high heels,” she said. “Do you remember the shopping trip when you were little and you lost your shoes?”

“They were stolen, actually,” said Abigail, smiling too. “Can you unzip me?”

Jane followed her back into the fitting room and helped her daughter out of the wedding gown. It was heavy, and very white, she hoped her hands wouldn’t leave a greasy mark. A shop assistant fluttered around, telling Abigail she looked lovely, no alterations were necessary, did she want to take it today? They would box it for her.

When she was dressed in jeans again, she followed Jane to the racks of shoes and started to look.

“It’s only a couple of weeks away,” said Jane, “you really ought to have sorted shoes by now.”

“I know,” said Abigail, “I thought it would be easy. No one will really see them anyway under the dress, I could wear trainers…”

Suddenly serious, she turned to Jane. “Mum, am I doing the right thing?”

Jane looked at her. “Wearing trainers? No.”

She realised her daughter was serious and stopped. “What do you mean? Are you having second thoughts?” She started to think about the cost, how she would tell Peter, what their friends would say.

Abigail shook her head. “Not about Simon, no—I know I love him and want to be with him. But the whole marriage thing. Lots of people just live together, it feels like a lot of fuss…”

Jane sat down on a plush red sofa. Abigail had wanted a wedding for as long as she could remember. She had loved choosing the stationary and the dress and the venue. This was not about the wedding. She waited.

“I mean,” said Abigail, sitting beside her, “what if I can’t do it? What if I am making promises that I can’t keep? The whole ‘until death us do part’ bit—well, that’s a really long time isn’t it! We might change. I know you and Dad have always been happy, but in a way, that makes it harder. What if I’m not made the same, what if I’m not the ‘til death us do part’ sort?”

Jane reached out and took her daughter’s hand.

“Yes, she said, “it is a really long time. And sometimes you will wonder what the heck you’ve signed up for. But it’s a decision. Really, love is a decision. I don’t think there is one ‘Mr. Right’ who you have to look for until you find him, I expect I could’ve been happy with a whole host of people. But I chose your father. And sometimes it was difficult, sometimes I regretted that decision, but I chose to stay. Feelings change, people change, you have to decide what you want and stick with it. And yes, you will both change. But if you spend enough time together, you will change together. It’s about choosing to move through life as a unit, not two separate people. We can’t control what will happen, our health, the economy, politics. But we can choose whether we will face what comes on our own, or with someone else. You have chosen to be with Simon.” She smiled. “It’s not a bad decision, I think.”

“Did you ever wonder?” said Abigail. “Did you ever regret marrying Dad?”

Jane thought a thousand thoughts.

Then she squeezed her daughter’s hand and smiled.

“More than once! But that’s what I mean about it being a decision. Feelings are very unreliable; they come and go, and come again. Sometimes you have to stick it out, but then the love and happiness come back, and you’re glad you stayed.”

She turned, looked her daughter full in the face.

“Marriage isn’t easy Abigail. But it is worth it. I wouldn’t be without your father for all the world.”

Abigail nodded. “Come on, we’ll be late and he’ll moan.” She bent and kissed Jane’s forehead. “Thanks Mum.”


Peter watched as they walked towards him. Abigail was talking, racing ahead, full of decision and purpose. Jane walked next to her, listening. He watched Jane’s walk, how she still walked well, even as she had aged.

“I still love that woman,” he thought to himself, “she is the world to me.”

He thought about all the times he could have walked away, the years when money was tight, when the kids were too demanding, when life just seemed like one long treadmill. And he knew there were other women who would’ve taken her place. Women who smiled a bit too often, were slightly too attentive, suggested drinks after work when no one else would be there. There was even one who had sent him photos of herself, like they had some bond outside of the office. He’d had to put a stop to that, ask for her to be transferred. It was all a bit awkward.

But he’d never considered being unfaithful to Jane. She was his life, his home, the place he escaped to. As he watched her now, with her grey roots and chubby belly, her middle-aged body and lined face, he felt so full of love. It was weird really, watching their kids grow up, Abigail about to be married herself, him thinking about retiring. But Jane was there, the person he had wanted to come home to every day for the last thirty years.

“Funny thing, love,” he thought. “You can’t really explain it, but it really does make for a happier life.”

He stood up as the women approached the table.

“I just hope,” he thought, “that Abi’s as lucky in her marriage.”

I hope you have enjoyed the novel. If you would like to buy a copy for a friend, it is available from an Amazon near you.

Now, which book will you read next..? UK Link Here! 

UK Link Here!




QuaranTime to Read. . . Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty

In the safety of the bathroom, Jane opened the envelope and peered inside. There appeared to be a printed leaflet. Frowning, she slid it from the envelope.

“Alcoholics Anonymous” was the title. It was a small printed tract, giving venues and times of their meetings. Someone had printed her name across the top.

“I don’t understand,” she said, confusion replacing her fear. She stood, her heart rate returning to normal, unlocked the door, and went back to the kitchen. She showed the pamphlet to Peter.

“I don’t know why I’ve been sent this,” she said. “It’s got my name on it, so it can’t be a mistake.”

“Probably someone wants you to go and help,” suggested Peter, turning to make the tea.

The door opened and Christopher appeared. He took a hesitant step towards his mother and paused. She rose hurriedly to meet him.

“I feel…” he began. Then was promptly sick all over the floor.

Jane shut her eyes for two seconds, then with a deep breath she moved to carry him upstairs.


They carried their coffee outside to some shiny metal chairs and placed it gingerly on a small round table that wobbled. Had they been more practical, thought Jane, they would have fiddled with folded paper and matchboxes until they had a suitable wedge to solve the problem. Instead, they sat carefully, and held their coffees with both hands. The cups were large, more like bowls and were heavy to lift. There was something incongruous about sitting in the middle of a High Street, as though pretending they were in the South of France, with neither the scenery nor the relaxed pace. However, the day was sunny and warm, and it was not an unpleasant place to be.

Jane was almost bursting with her news and she launched into it.

“I met Matthew,” she told Suzie.

“Matthew?” frowned Suzie, “The labourer?”

This irritated Jane. He was not a ‘labourer’, he was a perfectly intelligent human and he was her friend. She found the description demeaning.

“The guy who built our extension, yes. I met him by chance but he suggested that we meet up sometime.”

We being just you, or you and Peter?” asked Suzie.

“Me,” said Jane, “I hardly think Peter would approve. He has his own friends, anyway—all the people at work. His work-colleagues, a whole myriad of people who I have never met and never hear about—his own friends in his own world. Matthew is my friend. I assume I am allowed friends too. If Peter can have his own friends, many of whom will be female, friends who he jokes with, has coffee with, spends time with—a part of life that is separate, almost secret, from us and our marriage—then so can I.”

Suzie balanced her coffee back on the saucer and looked hard at her friend. She was not quite sure what she was being told.

“And where is this going to lead?” said Suzie, “What are you planning will happen?”

“I don’t know,” admitted Jane. She leant forwards and confided in a low voice, “And I don’t care. It’s exciting. It makes me happy just thinking about it.”

She sat back, satisfied. She had been longing to tell Suzie, and so had arranged to meet her for coffee. She was certain her friend, ever fun-loving, would be captivated by the story, and had looked forward to confiding, laughing, making plans together. She was also hoping for a reliable alibi should the need arise.

The two women had been friends for years, meeting at antenatal classes when expecting their sons. It had been an easy friendship, rooted in those early weeks of motherhood when even combing their hair had been a task to remember. They had worried together before labour, wept together through sheer exhaustion after sleepless nights, and shared potty training traumas. The bond was deep. Jane felt that anyone willing to befriend you during those emotionally turbulent months when you resembled a slug and smelt of cheese, was a friend indeed.

“I think,“ she whispered, “that I am possibly going to have an affair.” She waited, smiling.

“Think?” queried Suzie, with narrowed eyes.

“Well,” admitted Jane, “nothing has happened yet.” She replaced her cup on the swaying table and resumed her story.

“You must remember Matthew,” she urged, wondering why her friend wasn’t eating up this delicious piece of news. Suzie nodded, and Jane continued in a rush. “Well, I’ve been thinking about him loads, couldn’t stop. And I really missed him when he left, felt sort of lonely. We’d become friends you see. He’s not just a labourer, he’s intelligent and funny, and we shared—I don’t know—a connection, I guess. We talked a lot—all the time really,” Jane swallowed. “Then I saw him again, at the Summer Fete.” Jane leant forward, lowering her voice, staring into the depths of her cup.

“I think maybe he came specially, looking for me. And we chatted a bit and then he suggested that we meet somewhere. And I think it means that he’s interested in me. That perhaps we could continue the relationship…”

Jane trailed off uncertainly and glanced up.

Suzie’s face was hard. She was silent for a long time, just looking at Jane.

“You’ll be a complete fool if you do!” Suzie said at last. Her voice was quiet, but the intensity shook Jane.

She was shocked. She had been sure that Suzie would share her secret with delight. Suzie was always playful, loved to be outrageous and laughed easily—it was not like her to be strict or moralising. Jane had thought her friend would want to be involved in this game, would share the fun of it, would be on Jane’s side.

Suzie sipped her coffee.

“It’s up to you, I guess,” Suzie said at last. “We are, after all, the generation of choice. We all got an education, we can decide if we want to work, if and when we want children. We all think we’ve got a God-given right to happiness and fulfilment, don’t we?” Suzie sat straighter, as if warming to her theme, deciding to be honest with her friend.

“Well, I for one don’t think we do, not really, not if it means hurting other people. That’s what animals do, not people, not grown-ups.” She took a sip of coffee, allowing herself time to think, to plan her attack.

“Did you love Peter, really love him, when you got married?”

Jane nodded. This was going horribly wrong; she had not intended to be lectured.

“And does he hit you?” asked Suzie, “Abuse the kids? Keep you locked up? Mentally torture you?”

“Well, no,” admitted Jane, “but there is Izzy…”

“Oh bollocks!” declared Suzie. “You don’t know for sure that anything’s going on. That’s just something silly we liked to laugh about—that was a game. This isn’t, not if what you say is true, not if you intend to do something stupid. And until this stud appeared, you were content enough anyway, even if you were unsure about Izzy. If you loved him once, you can again. If you fell out of love, you can fall back in again. Feelings are just fickle, they’re no judge of what’s really going on and they’re not worth trusting. Marriage is lonely sometimes, and boring and tedious. That’s why we make promises at the beginning.

“Are you really willing to just chuck a perfectly okay marriage out the window? For what? A few laughs and better sex once in a while? It’s not just about you anymore.”

Suzie paused, not sure if Jane was listening or just planning a defence. This was important, she wanted to get it right.

“Maybe Peter won’t find out,” Jane said, “I’m hardly going to announce it!”

“Jane, they always find out,” sighed Suzie. “Listen, think hard Jane. Think about the consequences and don’t be stupid, please. You are better than that.

“And say that you did manage to keep it quiet, is that what you really want? Skulking about, never being honest? Always wondering if you’ve been seen, desperately trying to remember lies? And you would end up lying to everyone, not just Peter. You’d have to lie to the kids, your mum, friends.

“And what if it continued, what if you fell in love? Are you going to rip apart your family? You can never be rid of Peter you know; you will share those children for the rest of your life. So you can look forward to arguments over birthdays, Christmases, weddings. The children will be caught in the middle, not wanting to take sides, all confused and insecure and wondering if it’s their fault. Is that what you want?”

“No,” whispered Jane, “but I’ve been so unhappy lately. I feel like I’m invisible.” She swallowed, feeling close to tears. This was horrible. She had thought it would be fun, they’d laugh and plot together. Instead she was being painted as some loose woman, someone nasty. And she wasn’t nasty, she was a good person. But she was so lonely, and she needed something, someone, more. Suzie didn’t understand, she wasn’t listening to what Jane was saying. She hadn’t looked for this, but it had happened, and it made her happy. She had a right to feel happy, she was sure she did. She fiddled with her cup, unable to meet her friend’s eyes.

“Oh Jane! We all feel like that sometimes. But don’t throw away what you’ve got. You and Peter have shared so much, survived the whole baby thing, built your lives together.

“Maybe Peter isn’t happy either,” Suzie suggested, “perhaps you need to talk, sort out what you both want. Have you tried telling him how you feel?”

“Yes,” mumbled Jane, staring at the table, “but he doesn’t hear what I’m saying. He has his own life, his world of work peopled by intelligent interesting attractive people. He dips in and out of our shared life, leaving me there on my own. I am invisible,” she said again.

Suzie could see that Jane was near to tears. She reached over and squeezed her hand.

“Poor old you, you are having a rough time. Marriage isn’t like they tell you when you’re young, is it? It’s about lonely evenings and dirty socks mainly! But it’s also about sharing, and having someone you can rely on. It’s about trust…

“Think carefully Jane,” she said. “Marriage is horrid sometimes, that’s why people talk about working at it. Doesn’t mean it’s not worth it though.

“Anyway,” Suzie added, “aren’t you religious? Can’t you pray about it or something?”

“Sure,” said Jane, feeling irritated now. She wished she’d never said anything, not tried to involve her friend. Perhaps she wasn’t such a good friend after all. Maybe things were only fun if Suzie thought of them. Jane hadn’t noticed that before.

“Okay, enough,” conceded Suzie. “Bit of a lecture that, wasn’t it? I’ll stop. I’m only saying it because I care.”

They talked for a while about safer topics, the fair, holidays, and a new television drama. However, the atmosphere was false and their conversation tense, so they did not order fresh coffee, and soon Jane glanced at her phone and announced it was time that she left.

“That went well,” thought Suzie with an ironic smile as she watched her friend leave. Then her eyes stung with unexpected tears and she began to frantically sort the coffee cups, determined to control her emotions. Jane was her friend; she didn’t want to hurt her. But she couldn’t joke about this, couldn’t just sit back and be party to something destructive.

Suzie knew well the stigma attached to a child of an unfaithful mother. It was not a topic she ever discussed, burying it safely in the past. Her own parents had divorced when she was ten and she and her brother had followed their mother to live with ‘Uncle Steven’. She remembered long nights of silent tears in a bed that smelt foreign, longing to return home. At school she had appeared sullen and uncooperative as she struggled to understand why her parents had split so abruptly, a nagging fear deep within that if she had been better, brighter, less trouble, then maybe both parents would have loved her enough to stay together. No one ever criticised her mother to her face, but she heard the whispered discussions at family gatherings, saw the snide expressions on the faces of her father’s relatives.

Once, just once, did she encounter her father’s rage. As a teenager she had overstayed her curfew and crept home late when she had been staying with her father. As she tiptoed to her room the hallway had been suddenly, cruelly illuminated and her father had faced her, grey eyes flashing in anger.

“Sorry I’m late,” she began, “Gary’s car broke down and…”

She got no further. His hand slapped the side of her face and she fell hard against the wall.

“You’re just like your mother!” he spat and marched to his room.

She had stood, frozen like stone for a long time. The grandfather clock ticked loudly in reprimand, marking each cold minute that passed. Then, like a robot, she went to bed. She washed her face. She cleaned her teeth. She brushed her hair. She changed into a pink nylon nightdress. She lay on her bed, in her father’s house. She never forgot those words.

All through an awkward breakfast, their stilted conversation pretending all was normal, she remembered. As she sat through lessons—history, biology, art—those words seared into her brain. She felt as if she were branded, like cattle headed for market.

“Just like your mother.” “Just like your mother.”

Down long years, those words remained. As an adult she could finally understand her mother’s desperate loneliness, the pain of living with a husband who didn’t restrain his moods, who flared with anger when he was disobeyed. She could also empathise with her father’s feeling of hurt betrayal, the unexpected loss of the woman who he loved. Yet she could never shake off the fear that some gene of unfaithfulness had been passed on to her, was part of her. It made her cling to the man who adored her trustingly, determined to never be: “Just like your mother.”

Now, as Suzie watched Jane leave, she almost wished she too knew how to pray.

“Don’t do it,” her mind pleaded, “Just don’t bloody do it.” She sniffed and stood, extracting a shopping list from her bag. Then she headed towards the supermarket.


Jane walked quickly to her car. She felt like a small child who had been reprimanded. She fumbled crossly for her keys.

“She’s just jealous,” she muttered, throwing her bag onto the back seat. “I didn’t ask for her opinion anyway. She doesn’t understand me, or how my life is. It was a mistake telling her, and I won’t make the same mistake again. This is my life, my business, and I can make my own decisions.”

She drove home, glaring at the other cars; ignoring the lump that seemed to be permanently lodged in the lower part of her chest.

To be continued on Thursday.

If you are enjoying the story, you can buy a copy for a friend. Invisible Jane by Anne E. Thompson — available from an Amazon near you. UK link here! 

Thanks for reading.
Why not sign up to follow my blog so you don’t miss the next chapter?


QuaranTime to Read. . . Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Eighteen

The following Thursday, Jane took Christopher to the park. It was a beautiful Summer’s day, with a high blue sky and a gentle breeze. She had parked in the small car park near the swings, and now they walked hand-in-hand across the grass. Max was in an ecstasy of sniffing under a wooden bench. The sun glinted off the paint of the large red slide, and she could feel Christopher skipping at her side. Her bag bumped against her hip. She needed to buy white cotton on the way home so that she could reattach buttons to Abigail’s school blouse.

School was not a happy thought at the moment. She had been summarily telephoned following her evening out and told: thank you for volunteering, you are manning the barbecue at the Summer Fair. Burgers! It was bad enough having to cook at home, now she would be burning food for the whole school. She sighed, at least she had nothing to prepare and it was only one day.

She lifted Christopher onto a swing and pulled it back. It was wooden and heavy, with a thick metal chain. She released it, watching it swing free, then braced for its return. Christopher wiggled his legs.

“Higher! Higher!” he chanted.

“That’s enough Chris,” she sighed after a few minutes. “You play on the roundabout; I need to find Max.”

She left her son climbing onto the orange wheel and went in search of the dog. He lumbered over when she called, tail swaying, stick in mouth. She obediently threw the stick a few times, watching her son as he played in the low-fenced enclosure. He too had found a stick and was poking beneath the roundabout. She walked over to where he was.

Red faced and frowning, Christopher was peering under the roundabout, making frantic sweeps with a thin branch.

“I can nearly get it,” he said in frustration.

At last, with one long swoosh of the stick, his prize was dislodged and tumbled over the grass in the sunlight.

“It’s magic!” he cried.

“It’s dirty!” she said.

It was a whiskey bottle, drained empty and flung under the child’s toy with drunken disregard. The golden label sparkled in the sunlight enticingly. Before she could stop him, Christopher had snatched it up.

“Can I keep it?”

“No,” said his mother, “it’s got germs on it. Don’t touch it.”

The boy inspected it closely. No germs could be seen. The glass was very smooth and the lid was made of gold. The label was beautiful, and seemed to have secret writing on it. It was clearly magic. He glanced at his mother. Her face looked cross and he could tell she did not understand the importance of his treasure. He felt his bottom lip begin to quiver.

“Please mummy, it’s mine now.”

Jane looked into the deep pools of his pleading eyes. ‘How am I supposed to not give in?’ she wondered. She knelt down and put an arm around his narrow shoulders. He gazed trustingly at her.

“Chris, it’s not clean,” she began. His eyes began to fill with tears. “Alright, we can take it home and wash it I suppose.”

She removed it from his grasp, deciding it would be easily disposed of later, when he had forgotten about it. She called the dog and clipped on his lead, then told Christopher that they needed to buy cotton before they went home. Not having a hand free to hold his, she sighed, and slipped the bottle into her bag, hoping it was not as dirty as she feared.

They moved to the road and stood waiting as traffic passed. Jane watched the cars impatiently, wanting to go home.

Suddenly, with heart-lurching familiarly, she recognised Matthew’s car. He glided down the road towards her. She searched for his face. He saw her, raised a hand in salute and continued past.

“That was Matfew!” announced Christopher.

“Yes,” said Jane, watching the car until it disappeared.

“Mummy, we can go,” said Christopher, waggling her hand so that she would notice the road was clear. Trance-like, she led him across.

She was a blur of emotion. She had seen him. He had waved. Their contact was not completely severed. Maybe she would see him again one day. Perhaps, now he knew they visited the park sometimes he would drive past again.

Or perhaps not.

She took a deep breath and gave herself a mental shake. This was silly. She was like a teenager with a crush on a celebrity. This obsession was getting out of hand.

“Come along,” she said and led the way to the hardware shop.


Leaving the dog tied miserably to the post outside, they entered the gloom of the shop. It smelt of glue and fabric. The floor was grey cement, and the air felt cold after the warmth of outside. Narrow aisles were precariously stacked to the ceiling with a jumble of products.

“Don’t touch anything,” Jane instructed.

She led him past cans of paint, a display of brushes perched above an array of door locks. Helpful signs warned of guard dogs, not to park in front of entrances, and a request to close the gate. Christopher put out a finger and traced their cold letters. They walked around stacked plastic buckets, and passed mops that bent shaggy heads towards them. His finger trailed across rough doormats, and onto shiny saucepans that stood in pyramids above his head. They passed boxes of electrical appliances, which nestled against a display of scissors. Bolts of coloured fabric were piled almost to the ceiling. He reached out and stroked pink fur, then poked a finger through some white lace.

“You’re touching!” his mother hissed, “Fold your arms.”

Jane had stopped beside a rack of coloured cottons. Selecting a reel of white, she guided him back towards the door to pay.

The counter was very high, much taller than his head. Behind it was a tiny man with a white beard. Christopher was fairly sure he was an elf. His mother seemed to have not noticed, and was searching for her purse. He moved behind her. There was an interesting display of tools hanging from the wall. Bright orange handles with comfortable grips, connected to grim looking blades. Saws of various sizes hung like crocodile jaws. He reached out a hand. His mother was busy paying. He pointed a finger and ran it along a blade. He snatched back his hand. Dark red blood oozed through his fist. It stung. He screamed.


Jane turned. She heard the cry, turned while pulling her purse from her bag, saw the blood and leapt towards her child. Off balance, her foot caught on the edge of a broom, which began to tumble, bringing another broom with it. She tripped. As she fell, she put out a hand to save herself, pulling a large tin of emulsion to the concrete with her. Jane, brooms, a brush and the tin all fell to the floor with a crash.

For a long second, all was still.

Jane was lying on the floor; Christopher standing above her, his crying suspended; the shopkeeper, watching.

Then they all moved as one. Christopher began to wail and Jane sat up, opening her arms for him. The shopkeeper hurried towards them, full of defensive concern.

“Madam, you really shouldn’t let your little boy touch things,” he clucked anxiously.

Jane ignored him and inspected the wound. It was very minor and had stopped bleeding already. She put his finger in her mouth and sucked to clean the wound. Then she wiped his tears with her fingers and kissed his nose.

“Stop crying, you’re alright,” she said quietly, reassuring him.

“It bit me,” he whispered.

Jane smiled, “You shouldn’t have touched.”

“I do think you should watch him more closely in future,” said the shopkeeper. “This is not a toy shop.”

Jane declined to comment and began to get up off the floor. All was fine—until she put weight on her right ankle. Pain shot up her leg. She sat again quickly, waves of nausea washing over her.

“Are you alright?” asked the man. “You really should have looked where you were going. Luckily, I do not believe anything was damaged, so I won’t have to charge you.”

He picked up a couple of brooms and replaced them on the stand, then retrieved the paint.

“It’s lucky this lid stayed on,” he said. “You would have made no end of mess if that had come off. You can’t rely on that you know. Manufacturers do not guarantee that lids won’t come loose. Paint should always be stored upright you know.”

He paused.

The woman was still sitting on his floor. She did seem rather pale. He did hope she would not faint. It would not be good for business.

“I’m afraid I need you to move,” he said, his voice rising a pitch. “I will have other customers shortly and you are rather in the way.”

‘Customers,’ he thought, ‘who will buy more than a single reel of cotton and who will create a lot less fuss.’

Jane remained on the floor. She really was unsure if she could stand. Her ankle hurt a huge amount and she felt quite ill with pain.

Then, as if she were in some ludicrous farce, the shop door opened and in walked Hilary.

Her gaze swept across the tear stained child, the flustered shopkeeper and Jane, who was sitting on the floor.

“And what happened here?” she asked.

“This woman did not have her child under appropriate control and he handled the merchandise” the man hurried to explain. “Then she did not give due care and attention to her actions and she fell over. Nearly damaging more goods, may I add.”

“I see,” said Hilary. “Jane, can you stand?”

“It hurts,” said Jane, “I don’t know.” She looked at the shopkeeper. “Do you have a stick I could lean on?”

“She could purchase a walking stick,” he informed Hilary, deciding that Jane was best not spoken to and realising the two women were acquainted.

“Right, please fetch one,” the older woman commanded, “and Christopher, please sit on this chair and hold my handbag with both hands.”

Christopher obeyed. He was reassured by her presence, and now she was clearly in charge of the situation he was extremely interested to see what would happen. His finger only hurt a little bit now, the pain eclipsed by the excitement of seeing Jane on the floor. He wondered if Nana would tell her off for getting dirty. He clutched the bulky bag. It was shiny black leather and very full. He longed to peek inside and investigate the contents but felt sure someone would then tell him off. Instead, he held it close to his chest, feeling the hard shapes inside. He found he could make his finger bleed again if he pressed it very hard, and he amused himself creating a line of round red spots across the width of the bag.

The man reappeared with a selection of sticks.

“Which would madam prefer? Lightweight steel or more traditional wood? Or perhaps one with a seat incorporated into the handle?”

Hilary pointed at a wooden stick with a plain curved handle.

“That one is suitable,” she said. She looked at Jane, “You can reimburse me later.” She handed her credit card to the shopkeeper.

They both helped Jane to stand and she tested her weight on the stick. She could walk, but it was painful. Driving would be difficult, so Hilary agreed that she would drive them all home. When she realised that a dog was involved she bought a long length of thick polythene. She then spent several minutes lining the footwell of her car while Jane sat awkwardly in the shop, Christopher standing close.

Jane thanked the shopkeeper uncertainly.

“Yes, he responded, “well, I hope this has been a lesson to you, young lady. One needs to take more care in life if one is not going to be an inconvenience. Perhaps you will take better care of your child in future.”

The child in question gave him an angelic smile, and placed a tenth bloody fingerprint on an unseen white tea towel before following his mother out of the shop.

Hilary had driven round to the shop front, so Jane had to hobble only as far as the curb. She lowered herself into the passenger seat. Christopher climbed in beside her. There was no child seat, which worried Jane, but she decided the journey was short enough to merit risking an adult’s seat belt. She pushed her coat under him, to act as a booster seat. Hilary, sighing loudly, was loading the dog.

They drove to Jane’s house in near silence. At one point she tried to thank her mother-in-law and explain what had happened. Hilary waved a hand dismissively. Jane was unsure if this was at the thanks or the explanation.

When they arrived, Hilary leant across for Jane’s bag.

“Let me take that for you,” she said, “then I can unlock the front door and come back to help you.”

She walked down the path then stood by the door and unzipped the bag. There, at the top, was a bottle. Slowly, Hilary removed it. A whiskey bottle. An empty whiskey bottle. Her daughter-in-law had been at the park—with a bottle of whiskey—and then had fallen over. She looked back at the car. Mother and child were both watching her. With a frown she found the keys and unlocked the door.

“I think this discussion is best kept for another time,” she decided, placing the bag on the hall table. Then she went back to help Jane.

Later, Jane sat on the sofa sipping tea. Hilary had advised her to bind the ankle tightly, cover it with a bag of frozen peas and raise it on a cushion. She had collected Abigail from school and offered to help the following day if necessary.

“I hope it won’t be necessary,” thought Jane, “I feel such an inconvenience when she helps me.”

She smiled at the memory of her unexpected appearance. Then her thoughts wandered to her glimpse of Matthew.

“Of all the moments when he could have passed,” she thought, “it was just as we were crossing. It’s like it was fate, like our paths were meant to cross.” It was a comforting idea and she settled against the cushions. “I wish I could tell him what happened,” she yearned. “He would laugh with me, make me feel better about that horrible man.

“There’s no one to tell,” she realised. “Peter will just tell me I’m silly, and then rush to thank Hilary. Once he’s spoken to her, he’ll be convinced I’m inadequate. They will make me feel like it was my fault, they won’t be sympathetic. He never sides with me against his mother. He won’t defend me to her, he won’t laugh about her with me. I am the outsider.”

A shot of loneliness pierced her and she felt close to tears.

“Oh Matthew, I do miss you,” she thought, “when will I see you again..?”

To be continued on Sunday.

Thanks for reading.
Why not sign up to follow my blog so you don’t miss the next chapter?


If you are enjoying this novel, you can buy a copy for a friend. Available from Amazon. UK Link Here


Secrets Every Mother Should Know

Here is one of my earlier posts. I hope you enjoy it, and will share it. It makes me smile, as all my children are now adults, and parenting is still wonderful and challenging and full of adventure, as I explored in my novel: Ploughing Through Rainbows — have you read it yet? Amazon Link Here!

Mummy Secrets

1.Boys (of all ages) never look in the back of drawers. This is true. They open the drawer about half way, have a quick look and then tell you that what they are seeking is not in there. This can be used to your advantage if, as in my house, they frequently a) misplace their own scissors and b) borrow yours and don’t replace them. If I keep my things at the back of the drawer, even the drawer where they have always been kept, then they don’t find them. Things at the back are safe. Worth remembering.

2.When they ask which child you love best, pick one. I spent years trying to explain that I loved them all equally, that I could never choose which one I loved best, etc etc – they just kept asking. So one day I picked one and gave an outrageous reason:”Bea, because girls are better than boys,” “Jay because he’s the nicest,” “Emm, because he’s clever,” They still asked occasionally (and I did try to switch which one I chose) but it put them off for a long time and always ended the conversation pretty fast.

3.When your children argue with their siblings, always be the most unreasonable. I always wanted my children to be friends with each other, not least because one day I wont be here to care for them and I want them to look out for each other. All children argue with their siblings, that cannot be avoided. However, when there was no clear reason for the dispute, I would try to be much more unreasonable than any of them. Comments like, “Right, that is no television ever again” or “I am banning all chocolate, forever” would so outrage my children that they would mutter darkly about me – together – and forget all about whatever they had been arguing about. After an hour or so they would ‘persuade’ me to modify my punishment to a more sensible one.

4.Forcing your child to eat something will not make them less fussy eaters. I am an adult now, all grown up, but I still feel sick when I smell rhubarb or gooseberries cooking and I am sure it is because I was forced to eat them as a child. I did initially try the same parenting technique with my own children (most of us copy our parents to some extent) but I abandoned it when I found peas thrown out of the window and half a piece of steak blocking the toilet. If my children did not like something, they were not forced to eat it. They did have to taste it every so often, in case their taste-buds had changed, but they were happy to do that because they knew they could choose to not eat it, if they didn’t want to. They are all adults now and they all have a varied diet. You do of course need to ensure that they have a balanced diet. However, if your child does not eat vegetables, fruit is just as healthy.
 Also, occasionally check the ingredients of what your child is eating. If the list is full of stuff you are more likely to find in a chemistry lab than a supermarket, do you really want to feed it to your child?

5.You cannot reason with an angry boy. When girls are angry, the adrenaline stimulates the speech part of their brain and they want to talk. Sometimes for many hours non stop. The opposite happens with a boy. When they are angry, the speech part of their brain shuts down and they are more likely to hit out than discuss. Something to do with testosterone. I don’t understand the biology but I do know that it is true because I have seen it many many times with my sons and my pupils. So, if a boy is angry, do not bother explaining anything until he has calmed down. If he is small, pick him up and put him somewhere safe. If he is big, put yourself somewhere safe (the washroom is a good place. Even an angry boy will not want to risk seeing his mother using the toilet and there is usually a lock on the door.) When he is calm, then you can explain to him why he was wrong, why you behaved as you did, what is an appropriate punishment, etc.

6.You cannot raise a child on your own. We all need help, mothers especially. In an ideal world, a child is raised by two parents and four grandparents and a whole world of friends, teachers, neighbours. Ours is not an ideal world, but whatever your situation, recognise that you have limitations and get help when you need it. Lots has been written about this, about “it takes a whole village to raise a child”, or even films like “About a Boy”. It is true. When you get to the absolute limit of what you can cope with, get help. I am a sometimes praised for how nice my children are and was a successful teacher, but sometimes I couldn’t cope. I recall one evening when I phoned my brother and told him I could not cope with my teenage son. He talked to him for a while (I think they just agreed that women can be very irrational at times! But it didn’t matter, it broke a cycle that I wasn’t coping with.) Don’t let things get beyond what you can cope with, that’s when horrible things happen. If you need help, get help. It is the wise thing to do.

7.When they bring home a crap picture, tell them its crap. If you always praise them they will a) never trust you to be honest and b) always feel the need to do brilliantly. I firmly believe that if you teach your children how to fail well, then they will do well in life. One of my proudest parenting moments was when my daughter lost a race in the school sports event. She was last by a considerable margin and ran the last lap with the hugest grin to huge cheers from the crowd. She was not a sporty child, she knew she was not good at running and that was fine. In other areas she excelled and she knew that my praise was genuine. If I say something is good, they can trust that it is.

8.Treat your children differently. You can treat them equally without having to do exactly the same thing for each child. For example, I can never understand the parents who buy a gift for the other child on a sibling’s birthday. Letting someone else have a turn at the treat is a good learning point, this is life, they will not always be the one who gets the promotion/job/top mark etc. This is the same when choosing a school, clubs etc – see them as individuals especially if they have different talents.

9.Don’t be fooled when your child tells you that you are either the best or the worst mother in the world. You are not. When they are about five and they tell you that you are the best mummy ever, that is very nice. Write it down and hold on to that memory. It wont be too long before they tell you that “all the other mother’s let their children do/have/go to, whatever” and they will reliably inform you that you are the worst mother ever. Brace yourself and ride the storm, taking regular peeks at the diary entry when they told you how wonderful you are and remembering that ALL good mothers are told this at some point. You are their mother, not their friend. They don’t have to like you all the time. You have to make decisions for what is best for them, not what they will necessarily want. Be brave, it is not easy. But you are the best mother that they have, so they will have to get over it. I regularly told my children, “I am not like other mothers.”

10.Do go with your gut feeling and monitor how long your child plays computer games or watches television, or uses their phone. They can stunt creativity and the ability to communicate and keep track of real life. It wont kill your child to be bored sometimes. Or even (horrors) read a book. Decide what works for you. I found that most games, whilst addictive, also needed a certain amount of time for them to be played satisfactorily. So in our house we had ‘computer weeks’. For one week, they could play computer games for as long as they liked (not including homework times, meal times and bed times, which were rigid unless they were ill.) Then, the next week, there was no computer at all. After a couple of days, they adjusted to the lack of life support and actually managed to enjoy something like cooking or reading or playing in the garden.

We never had the tricky decision of how old is old enough to have a phone–because they didn’t exist when my children were little. I don’t really agree with the ‘phones are bad’ lobby, but like everything, it can be abused and parents have a responsibility for teaching their children how to use a phone appropriately. Is having a phone at a meal table a good idea? Or when they should be concentrating on something else? Is it polite to glance at a phone when having a conversation with someone? I recently watched a programme exploring whether phones are addictive (another blog to follow). Since researching this, if I had a child with a phone, I would definitely go to settings and have the screen set to ‘greyscale’.

11.When your child is a teenager, have difficult discussions in public. This was one of the best things that I discovered. So, if I wanted to discuss with my fifteen year old his bed time, the amount of time spent on homework or any other ‘tricky issue’ I would take him out for lunch or even a to nice coffee shop. Somewhere public. Somewhere that having a meltdown would be embarrassing for him. The social pressure helped him keep a lid on whatever anger he would like to vent and we managed to have a few very sane conversations. It was well worth the price tag.


It should perhaps be noted, that when I began writing this article I asked my daughter if she could remember any of my parenting strategies. She informed me that:
I regularly told her she was adopted and suggested she could go and find her real parents (she looks EXACTLY like me, so this was never a problem for her.)
If something hurt, I told her it would probably fall off.
I wanted to burn down her primary school.
I made her move traffic cones that were blocking the road when I wanted to drive down it.
I also always told them that even if they did things that were rubbish, I would love them anyway (they liked that one.)

On reflection, I may have been a slightly rubbish mother. However, all my children have grown up to be happy, sane and good company. Maybe being rubbish doesn’t matter too much. God chose you to raise your child, He has confidence that you can do it. I remember reading: you don’t have to be a perfect mother, you only have to be good enough. There is hope for us all. . .

Thank you for reading. Enjoy your day.

Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels and one non-fiction book. They are available from book shops and Amazon. She writes a weekly blog at:

My novel explores the fun and problems when parenting adults (being a parent never ends…trust me!) A heart-warming family saga that will make you smile.

A hilarious family saga set on a farm. Being a parent has no end-date, as Susan discovers when her adult sons begin to make unexpected choices in life.
A warm-hearted, feel good novel that will make you smile.

Available from an Amazon near you — why not buy a copy today?

US Amazon link here

UK Amazon link here

Amazon Germany link here