Monday, 5 June 2017

Rainy night

The rain is lashing against my window, my kids were miraculously in bed relatively easily, and D is out at football so I am sat in a nice cosy bed with a cup of tea.

I am never really sure whether to write about news events. I want my blog to be an escape and about places we go and funny things my kids did or said that I can look back on. But when I was younger and I wrote a diary my uncle, who is a historian, said to me I shouldn't just write about things that happened, I should write what I think of them.

I don't know what to think half the time. I have woken up several times over the past year with a pit of fear in my stomach, about stuff in the news. I feel more and more scared of the world, but maybe that is partly because I am a parent so I am seeing it on behalf of my children who have to grow up in it. I get riled up about things that I never gave a second thought as a student or a self-involved twenty-something, when I was more worried about unsuitable boyfriends than politics. "Is there a big bad wolf in my world" my three-year old son asks me, and I want to hug him and cry but I laugh and say "No, that is just in the pretend world".

What I do find myself thinking about a lot is women from the past. My Gran had her first baby right in the middle of the war. My Gran would get worried if she was on the platform only 40 minutes before her train in case she missed it so I can't imagine what must have gone through her head when she was a first-time mum. Her own mum had her during the first-world war. I sometimes wonder what on earth possessed them to choose the middle of two world wars to procreate for the first time (not that they could have known it was the middle of course), but I imagine that people just had to get on with their lives to get through it.

My other grandmother was in first London, and then Coventry, when they were blitzed. That was bad luck. She must have been so brave but she didn't know it. She was anxious of everything - noise, TVs, frozen peas. When frightening events happen my gut reaction is to want to hide myself away or Rightmove Scotland (my default reaction to most things at the moment). I wanted to spend Sunday morning in my kitchen scouring the news but my daughter wanted me to take her out. I got dressed, aching with sadness for those people in London while she, blissfully unaware, sang 'We're the chipmunks!' in an American accent at the top of her voice until I was ready. And then we went out and watched the Smurfs.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Moors Valley

We have had a couple of fab days out recently at Moors Valley country park in Dorset. I was surprised to find out it was only half an hour from my house, it having been one of those places I knew was great but thought was miles away. Now I have found it I don't want to go anywhere else! It is a great, whole day out.

The park is huge. It has two large play areas, one of which is entirely covered by sand (reminding me of holidays in French campsites). My kids could have spent hours there. There is also a lake and barbecue area, and a nature walk. We haven't seen any of those things yet, because the forest play trail is amazing so we have just headed there.

It took us four hours both times (at a slow pace, admittedly) to do the whole thing. The play things are brilliant, and my kids spent ages on each one - they include a treetop walk, a giant ants nest, and den-building. We stopped for a picnic lunch, and then cake. There is no café nor loos on the play trail, and I would probably bring a flask of coffee next time. Or maybe some prosecco.

There is also a Go-Ape trail there, and people whizzing around on strange two wheeled bike things. Plus lots of actual bikes. It costs £10 to park in summer, but there is no other cost to get in. It is cheaper at other things of the year, and you can get a parking pass if you go there lots for about £50 (ish). They seemed to be doing lots of half-term activities, like den-building and bug walks. If we lived closer we'd be there every day.

The only thing is it makes everywhere else we go almost pale into comparison! Plus, it could do with a tea shack on the play trail. And a loo. And there are no bins, anywhere. Other than that, it is just great.

We were out 9 hours yesterday doing that, and according to D's fit bit walked 7 miles, so I felt quite weary today when I met a friend today, but she was also shattered, and her kids were also driving her crazy. So they climbed trees and argued and we drank tea and averted meltdowns with ice-creams. Heading 'home' to the west tomorrow, with more jam-packed, tiring (but fun?) days ahead.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Rainy day

I love rainy days. They make me think of wellies and brollies and being bundled up in an anorak. Or being inside a tent with the rain pelting down (this is less fun as a parent).  And being cosy inside listening to it pelting down on the window.

Today I was at work nursing cups of tea and then  I left early and took T to an appointment at the hospital.  It was a follow up appointment  and I was expecting no concerns, and was right. So it was just a bit of an adventure for me and T. I packed a bag full of snacks and iPad (and he demanded cheesy wotsits upon arrival - his bribe for, um, getting out of the car). There were so many people and umbrellas everywhere and the waiting room had a rocking horse in. And we saw the doctor and all was fine and it was all a bit Topsy and Tim.

Now I am sat with a glass of wine staring at my garden and my wet cat outside. C and D are out and T is watching Go-Jetters and refusing to eat his dinner (because he  would prefer to have toast - he hasn't given up on this for approx. an hour now) and it amazing how peaceful it is... And I really should be doing the washing or dishwasher but I really don't want to.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Anxiety and 'stuff'

Last week was maternal mental health week and I read some really great blog posts about it, including one by Amy Ransom, whose honest and funny blog I enjoy following

Like many people I have had my brushes with mental health issues which I have written about before, especially after C was born. The anxiety and paranoia, and inability to switch off, even at night - the hours spent lying awake, going to bed wishing it was already morning so I didn't have to go through the ordeal that was a restless night of worry. Sitting bolt upright in bed in a panic, scaring the crap out of D in the process. The inexplicable (and unreasonable) anger towards my people, notably D and my parents, who were just trying to help. Basic tasks seeming insurmountable due to brain fog. And feeling the loneliest I have ever felt in my life, yet feeling unable to make friends due to a crippling social anxiety.

I look back at how I was during my pregnancies and after C was born, and how up together I tried to make myself look in front of midwives and doctors, and how underneath I felt like I was completely falling apart. I remember sitting in the corner of the health visitors clinic, feeling at my most awful, feeling physically sick after putting her on the scales - and feeling desperately ill with mastitis. But I would just summon up enough energy to smile politely at the health visitors, who did not ask me about how I was feeling beyond that first questionnaire during the first two weeks when to be honest, it had not yet hit me.

I got better and I had some lovely days with my baby, wandering around and taking the world in, but I had this underlying angst that wouldn't go away and when C was one I had CBT which helped a bit. During my second pregnancy it came back with a vengeance, I had some free counselling for parents at a children's centre which also helped - C was three then. At the same time I went to my doctor wondering why I felt so constantly ill and being told there was nothing wrong with me and to pull myself together. But I probably hadn't connected the reasons I had sought counselling with how I was feeling physically, and that 'understanding' doctor certainly didn't do it for me.

I was more relaxed when T was born. It really helped that I met some lovely people (both on and offline!) around that pregnancy, despite my social anxiety (which almost led me to close myself off again). Since then I have felt connected, and that was maybe the crux of my problem. Before T I was living somewhere I didn't know many people, and then having met one or two friends we moved yet again. I didn't feel like I had my 'village'.

Amy's post coincided with a particularly stressful time for me lately. I have been pretty happy since T was born, but I am still an anxious mum. Not being able to switch off at night being the main thing. This was manageable (apart from being constantly shattered) until the last few weeks, when a family thing happened and my anxiety returned and completely floored me. I have felt literally sick with worry, lying awake all night and my appetite went completely. Amy's post really resonated as it made me realise that it is such a common thing. A lot of mums like me are on anti-depressants for similar reasons. Maybe I have previously just been too polite with doctors for them to spot that I am often on the verge of doing a Michael Douglas in Falling Down?

Anyway, I feel a bit better now, and my appetite has returned (thank goodness! You know things are bad when you can't eat biscuits) but it has made me think more about things I can do to help myself. I think one of the factors is that I have just taken on too much lately. Those casual conversations where I say "Sure, I'll help with that", or when I agree to come in to work for an extra day, have snowballed. Then all the house stuff (and just general life with small people I have to repeat myself to eighty four times a day) builds up and I just feel overwhelmed. Having reduced my days at work to be able to cope better, I have accidentally sleep-walked into a load of other commitments that I lie awake at night feeling guilty about. The other night I was up at 1:30am putting together a quiz on endangered animals for Rainbows while my house lay in tatters around it. What am I doing?!

So I am going to give some things up. Volunteering can wait until I don't spend all evening getting my kids to sleep (or flaking out exhausted having done so), and actually have the time (and energy) to hang up a load of washing, or just bake some fairy cakes with my kids and play with them. I just have to work out how to say 'Sorry, I can't do that anymore'. Hmm....

Saturday, 29 April 2017

La Bohème of the suburbs

Last night I went to see La Bohème with a mum friend. We were up at the back of the gods, and paid £20 for our tickets. We sat in the circle bar beforehand to pretend we were posh and downed a glass of wine before we could even speak to each other.

We were both absolutely exhausted after a week of the usual chaos. I was wearing my work outfit with sandals, and had brought my make-up bag with me. I almost didn't go out. I was feeling shivery and weird from how tired I was. It was C's birthday this week. She had the most exciting day (doing not a lot) but I had barely slept the day before and been up til all hours eg hanging huge pink balls in the kitchen. She didn't notice. She said it had been the best birthday ever. I think partly because she got a play sweet shop with actual sweets, but still. I was pleased.

La Bohème was amazing. I love that with theatre, or books (or Netflix) you can just escape and be someone else for a while. I think I find this even more important now I am a mum. It made me remember my own days of friends, angst, drink, cold rented rooms and conviction that I was an undiscovered Marian Keyes. My own heartache and drama (thankfully not involving dying of consumption). I sometimes wonder how I was transported to a life in the suburbs worrying about the begonia. (that last bit is an exaggeration, I don't know what a begonia is). It made me want to book a plane ticket and sit in an Italian garret for a week.

I woke up this morning back to reality. The house is a pigsty (again!). I have a last-minute Asda dash for party presents, then a trampoline party to attend. Then I am apparently making a disco ball cake (I haven't quite worked out how to handle that diplomatic crisis yet).

I would not swap my life for the angsty, garrety days, but sometimes I wake up in the morning and just want to cry at how much stuff there is to do and how little sleep I am going to do it all on.

On we go, as my friend's grandma used to say.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Start of the holidays

We have had a nice start to the holidays. On Friday I took T to see Going on a Bear Hunt, which was brilliant. Although T was very quiet and looked incredibly worried for the whole 45 minutes until the (vegan) bear made its way onto the stage. It was a great show, with good songs and creative props. I love kids' theatre. More, I suspect, than my children.

On Saturday morning we all went down to Ocean Village, which C said was "like Florida". (Um...) It was a gorgeous sunny day and it was nice to get out together. We had brunch at a Lounge bar (where we had to go back today because we left Spotty Dog behind) and then I took C swimming which she loved (I less so, having had my hair pulled and been kicked and jumped on by an excited C for 1.5 hours).

Then today we went down to Lepe and went on the beach and to the park there. It was gorgeously sunny, with glistening sea (and grumpy kids who complained about being cold, their crocs getting wet and having sand on their feet). I like Lepe, but I will like it even more when it has a shiny new visitor centre and cafe (and nice loos).

I don't know what has happened this week but I have been more or less up to date on my washing. It could have something to do with my new clothes' horse (cor! Living the dream). But it could also be because I have started to stay in pottering a bit more.

At 3.5 T is a little sweetie and good company (when not having a prolonged meltdown about eg the number 1 on his car having rubbed off). I still go out lots but I am no longer desperately seeking things to fill up my days. Once I have done a magazine with him or built a train set, he is usually happy to let me do some jobs. He is quite helpful too. He especially likes shutting cupboard doors for me. He said to me the other day "I am good at shutting doors when everyone else is busy".

He has still shown absolutely zero interest in starting school, and it is hard to believe that if he had been going this year his induction would be next month. I wonder what he would have made of it? I am pleased to have another year to potter around with my funny little friend.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Sounds of Saturday

I was sad that Sounds of the Sixties was moved to 6am (when I will never be up), and that Brian Matthews left. I was even more sad today when I learned (for the second time) that Brian had died.

For the last five years, since moving to my new house, I have listened to bits of it on many Saturdays. Usually while surveying my utter tip of a house in despair, getting myself a coffee and working myself up to having a shower/talking to my mum/sorting out my life.

I started listening at a point in my life where I had a toddler, felt like I knew no-one, and was quite desperate at times, alone. And then later I was still alone, but no longer lonely. Saturday morning was (is) my only time to myself (until my mum rings). I love the music - which makes me think of my parents when they were young - but also it was just sort of there in the background, behind the stacks of dirty dishes and a week's worth of clutter.

RIP Brian. Thank you for keeping me company.