I know how the other half live.
I used to be one of them, you see.
I used to belong to the other half.
But then the money vanished, evaporated in to thin air, and what I have now, a 2 bedroom flat filled with love, laughter, the smell of excitement only a toddler can create and sticky toffee pudding everyday.
Well I wouldn’t change any of it.
Not for the world.
Yes we struggle
But it is in the struggle, that we find our strength of character as a family.
Other than being depressed, suicidal and a little bit psychotic on occasion, I actually really like my life.
We were sitting on the bonnet of our car at the airfield.
It was a free day out, and we were loving it.
It isn’t my car.
It is our car.
It is like a skip on wheels.
We were happily munching on MacDonald’s nuggets and shouting, pointing and giggling in to the sky as the by planes and the numerous ‘ticker ticker’s’ circled above us.
‘It’s not a plane mummy, it’s a shopping basket with wings…’ he pointed as a micro lite took off in front of us, and I laughed.
I have taught my son well.
I am proud of his vocabulary and his sense of humour, I am proud of his ability to remember everything I say (‘Daddy is a lazy git’ not withstanding) and repeat it at opportune moments.
‘Daddy you are such a lazy git’
I love our time together, playing plasticine (picking it out of my hair) singing stupid songs (chick chick chick chick chicken lay a little egg for meeee) at 4am but mostly I love that we are who we are.
Sometimes I am a crap mum.
I burn the dinner, I feed him MacDonald’s, I don’t bath him for a week, I run out of butter and pretend it is hiding under the jam, I make up my own words to nursery rhymes and so far? I have managed to save precisely nothing for his college fund.
We are skint. (I don’t know what is wrong with me, I have an illness. I just spent my last £40 on a handbag. If I weren’t already in therapy I would ask for therapy I mean it. When I say my last £40 I mean from my secret account, the Irish one still has money so I can just spend that, and there is always the joint account – it will be fine!)
But right now?
We are best friends my boy and me, and having missed out on two years of this, having had 657 days of this stolen from me by post natal depression… well, I live for these moments
But they were laughing at us.
I didn’t hear it at first, as we were too busy enjoying the brief relief of shade the Porsche Cayenne that just pulled up beside us was casting.
It took a while but eventually I realised the back of my head was on fire.
I turned to see a gaggle of platinum blonde women huddled on a wooden pub bench in the beer garden, directly behind where we had parked and were enjoying our special day together, all glaring at me.
We packed away and decided to go on the slide, already the glitter of my treasured moment in the process of being wiped off, but trying to admonish myself with thoughts of paranoia and how they probably weren’t laughing at me, I was just imagining it.
I was trying not to listen to the voices in my head telling me they were right to hate us.
As we approached the play area, we noticed that on the swings, clad entirely in Ralph Lauren blue and white outfits sat two children, ice blonde and blued eyed and sitting completely still, also glaring at us.
They looked like the Children of the Corn.
Even Addison wasn’t sure, and clung on to my hand for dear life.
‘Pardon?’ I asked, my mouth hanging open as I waited for Addison to come down the slide a little while later, having avoided eye contact with the freaky kids up until this point, in case I burst in to flames or something.
The little boy grinned at me, and I swear he looked inside my soul and he knew my biggest fear.
Scary looking thing.
I turned around to find I was being summoned by the mother hen and her cluckery of feathery plonkers, all preening and flicking their hair and adjusting their jewelry, not taking their eyes off me, in my dungarees and doc martins (I am not a lesbian just to clarify here, I just have dodgy dress sense) for a second.
‘Can I help?’ I responded a little taken aback by her tone.
‘What did your son just shout?’ the skinny and sucked in turkey asked me from between thin lips, standing up and pointing her edgy elbows towards me haughtily.
‘My son didn’t say a word’ I responded trying to stay calm.
I was outnumbered.
I felt like a worm in a hen house.
‘It was actually your child that shouted the W word. Not mine.’
And I smiled.
Because I wanted them to leave me alone.
I wanted them to see that I had been suffering with depression and didn’t have it in me to be intimidated. I wanted them to see I was vulnerable and just wanted to enjoy a day with my little boy. I wanted them to go away. I wanted to not feel like I was back at school again being bullied. I wanted to leave the pain outside, just for today.
Like most Disney Villains though, Madame. Turkey face wasn’t one for letting it go. She was like a bulldog chewing a wasp.
She stayed stock-still and very slowly swiveled her head towards her son, who quivered under her gaze, and to be honest I couldn’t blame the kid.
‘Theo, come here!’ and with that, she sat down.
No apology, no smile, no nothing.
I let it go.
We continued to play.
A teenage boy appeared around the corner and headed, trembling with exhilaration, that much was obvious, towards their table.
His cheeks were pink and his eyes wide.
‘It was brilliant!’ He exploded.
They barely looked at him while they nodded, routing in their purses to send him to the bar for more drinks.
‘I flew it all by myself!!!’
They ignored him.
‘I flew all the way back from Southport by myself!!’
‘Well done darling, can you go get us another bottle from the bar?’
He slumped past us.
I couldn’t help myself.
‘Excuse me,’ I asked a little in awe at the teenager. ‘Did you just fly a plane?’
I could feel the mothers turning my way but carried on regardless. I wanted to know.
‘I did!’ He puffed his chest out. ‘It was amazing. I am learning to be a pilot.’
Oh how the other half live.
‘Wow! Addy’ I said getting on my knees to face my sticky faced monster who smelt of bbq sauce ‘this big boy just flew a plane!’
Addy gave him a shy smile, and ran off with him arms outstretched…. ‘Big boy flew a plane!’
‘You going to fly me to America one day on a jumbo?’ I winked and he laughed before agreeing that one day he probably would.
It was as I ran after Addison that I heard her.
My heart was pounding but I wasn’t going to leave it.
‘Pardon?’ I asked bravely, standing up to her.
‘Nothing.’ Elbows responded and picked up her champagne glass.
‘Sorry,’ I pretended to back down ‘I thought you called me a chav?’
They all smirked behind their designer glasses but said nothing.
I turned back around, blinking back the tears and shakily ran after Addison.
I wanted to go home.
I don’t belong to you.
My soul is not yours to crush.
I am not strong enough right now.
As we were leaving, I waved goodbye to the pilot teenager who had just returned from the bar.
He smiled and waved back, happy for some attention, I thought.
‘Oh just get lost already!’
They glared at me.
I walked back to the table and I said the only thing I knew they would hear.
‘What are you going to do if all the money runs out?’
And with that I turned around and began to walk away.
They were laughing, loud, confused and shocked.
Maybe they were expecting me to start shouting and screaming, maybe they expected me to live up to a label they had given me, without knowing anything about me.
But shouting and screaming?
That isn’t my style.
(The Irish one is gagging to disagree here, but just ignore him.)
My face was glowing red, I felt like an idiot, but I know they will remember it.
I would have.
‘In the moment’ they were laughing at me.
But tonight, lying in their beds, they will think about us.
About me, in my dungarees, with my hair tied up, covered in muck, and Addy – laughing.
They will think about how happy we looked.
And then it will hit them.
What if the money does run out?
How will they pay for their children’s therapy?
Will the memories of their flash cars keep them warm at night?
What is important here?
Maybe they won’t.
Maybe they will never cast their minds on to me and my best friend again.
Maybe the money will never run out.
But either way we got the last word.
‘Wanker!!!’ he shouted extremely loud and extremely clear just as we got back to the car.
And this time it was Addison.
And they heard him.
And it was my turn to laugh.
Well done Son.