When things come back to bite you

Posted August 28th, 2008 by Penny Wise

Yippeeee! The sun is shining! Just as the whole of NZ was despairing of it EVER stopping raining. The lawn and chicken run is a mudbath, the vege garden is awash and sad due to week's of unavoidable neglect and even the kids' cross country has been cancelled due to extreme danger of them all sliding down the hills. As far as the kids were concerned that was the best part! Still, it's lovely to see the sun for a few days and there's nobody happier than Noel, our resident Bob the Builder who has been impatiently waiting to get on and build our long awaited and much-needed new deck, before we all fall through the old one! He's doing a wonderful job so far I must say and has been very savvy with his timber, wasting as little as possible and waiting patiently for a special to come up on decking timber. It was worth the wait, as the deck has only ended up costing us half of what we anticipated! Bit by bit our little piece of paradise is coming together. It's taken us five years but the deck is the last of the major jobs and from now on we should be looking pretty presentable!

The evenings are starting to get a little longer and spring is just around the corner. On the whole, life is good! Except for one thing. Noel thinks I'm having an affair. I wish I was joking but I'm not; he seriously does. Before you ask, no I'm bloody well not! I'm afraid that the 'new, improved me' has given him the jitters. Trinny, Susannah and Gok's help has come back to bite me. The daggy, scruffy wife he's been living with for years has been replaced by someone who actually looks half decent for a change. I don't have a choice, I got rid of all my stained and scruffy clothes, along with all the unflattering colours and styles for my Decluttering Month. The years' worth of unused make-up also got decluttered and is now being used every day, along with the perfume I only ever wore on special occasions. Not only am I wearing more flattering clothes, they look better because I've lost four kilos in the last month. I've turned into an exercise junkie and am loving it! I feel fantastic and for the first time in years I don't see a blimp when I look in the mirror.

You would think he would be happy for me, wouldn't you? After all, he's the one I proudly share everything with - every gram of weight I lose, every kilometre I run, every weight I lift. Instead all I get are insinuations that I must have been with someone else - never mind that I return from the gym every day with my hair plastered to my head in sweat, my face resembling a tomato and stinking to high heaven. I suppose I can't blame him really, I mean how could any man resist me looking like that?! So if I'm not having a fling, why am I going to so much effort these days then? I can tell you why - I'm doing it for ME. I'm doing it because I've been a mother for 12 years and have never had - or made - the time to look after myself during those years. Now the kids are older I can leave them with their dad or Grandma without feeling guilty or worrying that they're too much trouble to look after. Sometimes the boys come to the gym or for a run with me too but mainly it's my time and I've come to love and look forward to it.

Why else am I doing it? Ah yes, I'm doing it for him too! The man I married 15 years ago, when I was 15 kilos lighter. The man I no longer wanted to be married to a hippo, especially as life cruelly decreed he should only put on five kilos himself in 15 years. The man who is absolutely everything to me, everything from chief deck builder and vege gardener to chief cuddler. The man who loves me for all my Simple Savings ways (if not the occasional Sad Sally one). I mean, who else would go to bed each night with someone who has toothpaste all over their face to try and dry her pimples out after reading it in the Vault?

We've been together for 17 years and we're proud of it. We've been through some crap. We've lost a son, lost our home and jobs all at the same time but come through it - what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, as they say. I reckon we're stronger than any couple I know - well, we were, I hope we still are. In our efforts to transform ourselves from Sally and Pete into Hanna and John we have created our own patch of paradise and a lifestyle we love. Everything we have done has been done on a budget, which is even more rewarding. What used to be a huge area covered in thick blackberry ten feet high is now an established orchard, with a large chicken run and hen house alongside. Where there was nothing but ivy, there are now banks of lawn for the kids to play. Where there were mounds of rubbish is now bark gardens and the vege garden. Three tumbledown old sheds have been knocked down so instead of an eyesore, we have a lake view. We enjoy fresh eggs every day and with every year that passes we grow more of our own food. Every step of the transformation has been achieved together and it's been fun. All the weed pulling, the bonfires, the trips to the dump and the hard yakka has been worth it. There's not a day that goes by where I don't stand on the veranda and think to myself how lucky I am to live in this place I love so much, with a family I adore.

As far as I'm concerned, I've got everything a wife possibly ask for. So why in heaven's name would I go looking for anyone else? I've got a loving husband who teaches our gorgeous boys so much and always makes time for them. He's my hunter-gatherer, the provider of the family with anything from fish and meat to fruit and veges. He's my best mate and I'm his. We're chalk and cheese in many ways but he's a good man and I would never change him. I just hope he realises it before too long. I suppose I should be flattered really that he thinks anyone would look at little old me twice but as I told him the other day, 'just because you think I'm alright mate, doesn't mean everyone else does!'

Domestic dramas aside, things have been pretty quiet! The kids have both been sent home from school sick on and off this week, which is most inconvenient as their schools are in opposite directions and I've had to make several more trips each day - thank goodness the price of petrol has dropped a bit! They seem to be growing up all of a sudden - or is it just me who is finally letting them? They never ask me for money or treats any more, instead they always buy their own if they want something. That in itself is a huge saving to me, I hardly set foot in a shop any more! I never realised how many treats they still used to sneak in with the essentials at Mr Patel's but now I don't even have to go in! I quite often combine my shopping with my morning run, which is actually quite helpful. It saves petrol for starters but also means I only buy what I need as I can only carry so much while running, even though I feel a right plonker hot-footing it up the street wielding a bottle of milk or a bag of potatoes. The things we do to save money!

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