I've had a complaint! "Where's the blog gone?" Well, nice to know it's been missed in the first instance and my excuse can only be that it's January. My least favourite month and one which, in an ideal world, would be spent somewhere hot watching tennis ie The Grand Slam Plan*. Alternatively, I would be happy to hunker down in front of a roaring fire and a big screen television and watch the Australian Open, the whole box set of Sex and the City and any film with the late, great Heath Ledger. But this is the real world and although a certain amount of tennis-watching has occurred (not as easy as it sounds with England also playing cricket in India and therefore a bit of remote-wrestling with child 3 going on), most of my life is carrying on as what passes for normal in this house ie children 3 and 4 taking their first AS modules in subjects I know nothing about - psychology, mathematics and economics, work and general domestic drudgery. So to help the month along, I have been giving myself a few modest treats of meeting up with female friends I haven't seen for way too long.
Actually I was very slow in realising how important the women in my life, or the Sisterhood as I think of them, are. Growing up with three older brothers and then going to an all-girls school did nothing to endear my own sex to me and then, being a rather ambitious twentysomething when twentysomething women seldom made it to the boardroom apart from when they brought in the tea, I was rather out of step with most of my female co-workers. So the penny didn't drop until my late twenties when I met and made friends with some amazing women and that in itself made me reassess the lovely chums I already had.
Now the thing about the Sisterhood is that they share - not in some weirdy, tree-hugging way, but in a practical, helpful way that is both informative and inspirational. The stuff that you really need to know about bringing up children, for example, isn't written in books, it's acquired through the sharing of experiences. And then there's all the other amazing stuff they know.
For instance, in the last couple of weeks I have met up with two girlfriends who have explained firstly, in terms a non-skier can understand, the sport of telemark skiing, the social media trend of unboxing and how far pvc windows have progressed in both looks and energy efficiency. Seriously, the women I know are terrific. They can cook stuff that is far too complex and difficult for me and then explain it to me so I can cook it (or think I can anyway); they counsel me through angst about children of all ages; they found charities, run businesses, fight and win the battle against life-threatening illness and top that off with writing books, painting (and not just in the decorating sense) and have all manner of musical talent. Some of them are doing all the above and knocking off a Open University degree as well. And when they're not doing that, they are beating me at tennis and golf - and that really hurts!
Like all mums, there are so many things I want to tell my daughters and they probably don't want to listen and as in all things, we must find our own way and make our own discoveries. I just hope it doesn't take them as long as it did for me to discover the importance of The Sisterhood. Actually, because I have three very smart girls, I know they are way ahead of me.
Postscript: Finally, because it's the start of a new year, here are few serious and not very serious wishes of my own for 2013:
1 That the front half of the sports section of the newspaper isn't always about football.
2 That people who have no intention of playing any kind of sport (ever) don't wander round in tracksuits (although onesies are worse!)
3 That they stop digging up the same section of main road over and over and over again - surely they know if they're going to have to put another set of wires or drains in.
4 That struggling town and city centres offer more free parking to encourage rather than discourage people to shop there.
5 That this time next year we will still have some bookshops on the High Street - use them or lose them.
*The Grand Slam Plan is to see all four Open Tennis events around the world. Three down and one to go (Wimbledon, Roland Garros, Flushing Meadow and hopefully, January 2015, Melbourne).