11 February 2018

I decided today that I would set my blog to private going forward.

But then I realised that self-hosted blogs don’t have the private option built-in, so my option is to use a plugin to make it private. That requires a bit of time to make sure I choose the right one.

In the meantime, I’m not going away, I just want to keep things more personal – please feel free to request access once it changes!

7 February 2018

Mixed night last night. I thought L was asleep, but after I turned lights out he came in at around 21:00 just as I was dropping off. Then again at 21:15, so I let him get in with me to fall asleep. I then carried my very heavy and lanky eight year old back to his own bed at 21:30. So much for my super early night.

F cried in the early hours as her nose was blocked. I was tired when I woke up, but my mood today has been so much improved – I no longer feel like I have a horrible blackness hanging over me.

Even C crying all the way home from school because he didn’t want risotto for dinner couldn’t phase me. I just gave him a big kiss and said I was sorry he didn’t like what I was planning.

In between playing feed the teddies and hand puppets with F today I sorted through the last of the cupboard stuff. Oh it’s so lovely now it’s done:

The rest of the house is a mess, but I’ll work my way around to that.

On my computer yesterday I found a backup of my first ever blog from 2005, on a very early version of WordPress. I had a read through some of the entries and my whole writing style was so different. I had a ton of energy and I seemed so much lighter. Isn’t it amazing how our attitude and outlook can morph over time? When did I become so serious, so maudlin, so worn-down and worn-out? I am going to see if I can import them – in fact I’m thinking of importing everything – 13 years of ad hoc writing about life.

Hoping for a good night tonight, as always. I really think that if I can get the sleep sorted, everything else will be so much easier.

3 February 2018

I actually think F slept through the night last night. I cannot remember waking up for her! I think I did get up to go to the bathroom at one point, but otherwise I slept until 6:15am without interruption from anyone. Amazing.

I was still tired enough today to sleep for over an hour when the husband came over to see the kids. It really does take time to recover from the detrimental affects of lost sleep. My mood however, has much improved and today I’ve felt brighter than I have in a long time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about life and why I find the days such a struggle. I have always been really good at subjects with correct answers. It’s why I am a programmer, I suppose. When you get things exactly right, everything works as it should. I am creative enough that I enjoy writing and drawing and music, but I get the deepest satisfaction from order, alignment and getting things right.

Life, of course, is not like that. Life is a messy construction of emotions, events, people and all their feelings and beliefs. Right and wrong are extremes and in the middle is a whole grey ocean of okay. I slip and slide around in the great grey expanse of ‘okay’ wondering what the hell I am doing most of the time. What should I be feeding the kids? What should I be reading? Which exercise should I do? How should I structure my day? Is TV in the mornings okay? When it is acceptable to call in sick? How tired do I have to be before I have an early night? At what point do I tell my toddler no, rather than accommodating what she wants? How much should I spend? Or save? Are credit cards okay? Should I live in a bigger house or a smaller house? Should I be forgiving of everyone? How do I avoid manipulative people? How can I tell if someone is genuine? Is gas any better than electricity?

I struggle because life has no manual and it is endlessly complex. I crave the right answers, the correct path, but I have no freaking idea what that is even supposed to look like. Also, there is always contradiction: I know MacDonalds is no good for you, but the one down the road always has a massive queue at the drive through and the company makes billions selling cheap burgers all around the globe. What’s right here? I really struggle with the recommendation of moderation. There is no real definition of moderation that enables you to do the right thing. One person’s moderation is another person’s extreme.

At the end of the day, maybe we can only do what is right for us, each of us, individually. But what if we’re wrong?

My analytical, organised, answer-seeking brain finds life overwhelming. I research and research things until I can’t take in any more information and then when I think I have found the right answer I look around and almost everyone I know is doing the opposite.

I seem to spend my time battling what I think I should be doing with wondering why no one else is doing it.

Sigh.

I kind of wish I had a book that said “Do this; do that; in this situation try this first and then do that if it doesn’t work.”

People say I should just “relax and enjoy life,” but if it was so easy to do that, we’d all be doing it without ruining our health, bank balance and relationships. I want to enjoy life and still be healthy into my old age. I want to enjoy life and not run up thousands of pounds in debt. I want to enjoy life and not be a slave to a job that will consume the best years and leave me with the consolation prize of retirement.

Maybe this is why Buddhism attracts me – it has a path without being overly spiritual or imposing.

1 February 2018

And a month of 2018 has gone already. Last night was better:

22:30 F screamed
01:30 I woke for the bathroom (stupid bedtime herbal tea)
04:19 F cried (rather than screamed)

A better night, made worse by my own stupidity in drinking peppermint and lemongrass tea before bed. Lesson learnt.

I just felt so worn out picking the children up today. It’s an hours drive from 4pm to 5pm to get all three. I cannot remember if I felt this way before I became a mother. I can’t really remember how I felt at all before I became a mother most days. When I got the children home my brother called. He’s been quiet recently due to lack of credit on his phone. He’s awaiting a hospital appointment to check on an erratic heartbeat. He keeps getting these spells where he feels like he’s blacking out when he’s walking along the street. A friend of his said he nods in a scary way when it’s happening. He’s already on a host of medication and diabetic. He’s 36. I got off the phone and cried some silent tears. One day he’s not going to be around any more. My mother’s health is also bad. One day she won’t be around either. I know that their deaths are probably on the medium term horizon unless something changes drastically in their lives. How am I going to cope with that loss when they go? I don’t have any coping left.

Is it me, or when you reach your forties, does life just seem like it’s all a lot more serious than it used to be? I am probably never going to be rich or famous. I’m probably never going to do much more than I’ve already done. Relatives and friends will grow older and get sicker. None of them are getting younger and healthier. People will die.

One thing I never knew before I became a parent was how much motherhood depletes you. The lost sleep, the physical endurance of pregnancy and birth, and then the emotional toil – the guilt, the worry, the frustration and the numbness at the end of long days that only offer long, difficult nights as consolation. And even getting to the point of having a family can be so tough. After what we went through I was the equivalent of lame and half blind before I even started the journey. There’s no recovery, or time to build up your strength and resources. Some women go through years of hell to get pregnant, a hellish pregnancy, a three-day labour that rips their bodies apart, and then bang! Welcome to 18 years of being a mother – oh didn’t we tell you it doesn’t get any easier?

Maybe I am depressed. I certainly feel like I am dragging my heels through every day, just waiting to get to a point in some distant future fantasy where I can sleep, laugh, relax, and enjoy life.

Today when I collected the children L was upset as soon as I picked him up that there was no snack, and he was starving, and he has a mouth ulcer that hurts. Then I collected C, who had a biscuit from after school club, so L cried and C said he wouldn’t share because L never shares. They tried to hit each other in the car. Then I collected F. While I went in to get her the boys let themselves out of the car and ran around the car park. The manager came to tell me my children were loose. I rounded them all up and got them all home and made a 5 minute dinner of pasta parcels. F cried all the way through dinner. I tried to find out why but I couldn’t understand her because she was crying too much and that just made her more angry. She lashed out at me, kicking and pushing me away.

I left the devastation in the kitchen for later because they all wanted to play upstairs, so up we went. F cried and complained of a sore bottom, but as soon as I mentioned a bath she got hysterical, so we scrapped that idea. I managed to get her into bed and for once the boys weren’t trying to kill each other. I read C stories and tucked him in, heading downstairs to clean up, but as soon as I’m down he got out of bed, was in my room, dropping stuff on the floor and doing god knows what. I went back up and put him back in bed. I came down and we have a repeat. I went back up and told him off – the last thing I want to do at the end of the day. I came back down and resumed the kitchen.

L was looking for an envelope and wanted to start doing craft activities now the other two are in bed, but all I could think about was how I didn’t want to clean up any more mess. Normally I would put him in my room to read before bed, but I can’t do that now as F is in there, so he has to stay downstairs until C is asleep. I finally get him up and teeth brushed, but it’ll be an hour before he goes to sleep, during which I will no doubt have to make several trips up the stairs. Everything just seems so hard all the time. The constant tidying, the constant mess. The same things I put away day after day after day. The way the kids will get things out of cupboards and drawers while I am still putting away the last thing or clearing up the last mess. The endless complaining and crying and bickering and the relentless asking for things I have to say no to on a daily basis (chocolate for breakfast/legoland/instant playdates/digging up the lawn for treasure/buying new toys/bike rides when it’s raining/going to Australia/new shoes/etc). I sometimes feel like my children must be the most miserable and unhappy children ever with the amount that they ask for that I can’t give them.

I panicked slightly today about the six week summer holiday. Amusing toddlers is a hard enough job, but young boys need space, and exercise. Their energy for play burns up everything around them. What on earth will I do with them every day? I have no idea. I have no energy of my own. My fading light is letting my kids down. I cannot be the mother I want to be. I feel guilty about living apart from my husband. That was not the vision I had of family life. It’s not what I wanted for my children. It’s not what I wanted for me. I could write oceans of words on my emotions but it wouldn’t be right. I can tell the world about my miscarriages, but not the problems in our marriage.

The house looms with all it’s chores. My freelance work is becoming something I am starting to resent. Even just getting through the day requires so much work, and that’s before I’ve tackled the school emails, newsletters, work emails, post, household admin, budgeting and food planning. There is only so much that one person can do. I fantasise about getting rid of almost everything, and having time to play with the children, and to sleep. Always sleep.

I should pay more attention to Buddhist thought. Unburden myself of so many attachments, both emotional and physical. I cling in fear to so much in my life, terrified of losing those I love and pondering who will be next to go. Having been through three family deaths (aside from all the miscarriages), in the last few years that were all so traumatic in their own way I find that thoughts of funerals and loneliness haunt me. Mum is the same. She has told me she is saving for hers. She wants me to place a star on the tree in the big church on the Christmas after she leaves us, just like we did with her brother a few weeks back.

In short, I have lost the joy of the day and I want it back so very, very much.

Chance Letter

We often get letters delivered to our house incorrectly. There’s one house in our village that has almost the same address (one word different) and we’ve had crossed post several times. Often we get letters for next door. Sometimes the postman just gets it randomly wrong.

Like today.

I saw the address was wrong – it was for a house around the corner. I was just about to put it to one side to deliver later, having already recognised it as a hospital letter (I’ve had enough of them to know), when I noticed that you could read some of the letter through the transparent envelope window.

This is what it said:

... 2009 breast biopsy ...
 2009 radiotherapy, started on tam ...
... bone scan osteoporosis
10/1/2018 CT scan metastatic ...
cancer

Pretty sobering, right?

I know I shouldn’t have been reading this (although it was displayed for all to see). I felt shocked, seeing it written there. A lady around the corner was going through hell right now. I felt awful for reading it. Like I’d invaded her privacy (which I had), but most of all I felt such a sense of sadness and grief for her. How awful and unfair that she had to be in this position. Presumably she knew, presumably this was to confirm the ongoing care plan and how they were going to deal with it. But I know that cancer that has metastasised is not something many people come back from. It kills, rapidly.

When I dropped the letter off after the school run, I recognised the house. I’ve spoken to the lady there once. She lives in the road behind our house and next door to a man who has a really irritating, noisy dog. We spoke about how annoying it was listening to it bark all day long. I know her husband – he often visits an elderly couple across the road from us.

It really puts things in perspective doesn’t it?

Here I am, sleep deprived after around eight severely broken nights with a poorly toddler. My skin has developed the worst acne I’ve seen in ages for reasons I am unable to fathom. I have terrible period-related backache. My arthritic joints are constantly hurting from the lack of sleep. My dentist confirmed today that I have gum disease at the back of my lower jaw. I feel tired, and old, and pretty sorry for myself.

And then I wonder how the lady with the letter feels. Is she wondering how long she has left? Is she thinking about how she has lived her life, the choices she’s made and the paths she’s chosen? Is she afraid for what she has yet to face?

Our health is really our most precious gift. Because without a healthy body to take us forward and allow us to live each day, what else do we have?

I wish I could magically make her better.