31 January 2018

I asked F if she wanted her cot in Mummy’s room last night and got a respounding “Yes.” So I moved it.

Last night’s sleep:

19:00 C complains and whines and cries because he wants to sleep in Mummy’s room too. I feel like banging my head against the wall.

20:15 All kids in bed, and I’m in bed. L actually drops off without getting back out of bed. So far, so good.

22:00 I finally fall asleep after fretting for 90 minutes that I am not falling asleep.

22:30 F screams. I stroke her hair and she goes back to sleep.

23:15 F screams. She says she wants to hold my hand. The cot isn’t close enough to the bed for this. I wonder if she’d be happier if she was still in the womb. I tell her to go to sleep.

00:00 F cries. She then cries every 10-15 minutes for a minute or so until…

01:15 F asks for milk. I get her a drink of water. She finally goes to sleep.

7:00 My alarm goes off.

As you can imagine she has been about as much fun as a hangover since about 11am today because she is so tired. It’s REALLY hard to have sympathy for her irrational, overtired behaviour when she was the one faffing around and not sleeping for three hours in the middle of the night.

Bathtime

Toddler F’s latest fear is the bath. It’s been increasing over the months, but has finally gotten so bad she now gets hysterical when I start running the water. She’s not having a tantrum – she seems genuinely terrified. She watches the boys get in and have fun, but she won’t have any of it. So I’ve given up trying to get her in – it’s too upsetting seeing how upset she gets. We have resorted to a warm washcloth in the interim. And ponytails for her mad hair.

Dinner

The lentil spag bol I made yesterday was lovely. It was a mix up of a few recipes I’ve read, and I used some home made tomato sauce I already had in the freezer. The kids wouldn’t touch it for two reasons: you could see the green lentils and you could feel the green lentils. I should have boiled them five minutes longer and maybe whizzed them into a sauce. Next time.

Tonight was chips and black bean burgers. Again the recipe was a non-specific mix up of a few I’ve read, using what I had in the cupboard. These things were brilliant. I am not kidding – I loved them. Even the kids ate some. When I make them again I’ll write up the recipe.

This is an actual photo of an actual beanburger I made this evening:

Amazing!! I had mine with no bun, loads of ketchup and fried onions. The two plant-based/vegan dinners I’ve tried so far I have really loved.

Aiming for another early night tonight, wish me luck.

Use It Up Update

I have to start by saying that last night, for the first time in SO long, toddler F slept through the whole night. I sat with her last night for ages while she fell asleep, which is something I always try to avoid doing. However, I’m wondering if that was the key to her having a restful night?

I felt so much happier when I woke up, not so much from the sleep I think, but more from the respite from being startled out of sleep over and over by end-of-the-world screaming. It is so unpleasant and stressful. This morning, in comparison, felt like a sunny dawn on still waters.

I sat with her again this evening. We shall see what happens.

Food

That aside, here’s where we’re at with the groceries. We’re one chicken breast away from being a vegetarian house again, which I am really pleased about (UPDATE: apart from the tuna. I forgot about the three cans of tuna!). That was my first goal and it is something I’ve thought about often in the last few years. I might eat it for dinner tomorrow and then it’s a fresh start, yay! I’m going to get used to cooking veggie again for a while before doing anything else. Although I do have plans to overhaul my own breakfasts this week, which I’ll write about separately.

FRIDGE

Continue buying for now (mainly for the children)
Organic butter
Organic cheddar
Organic yoghurts (kids)
Organic milk

Undecided yet
Pesto
Organic eggs

To finish
Whole, organic chicken
Mini Baby Bels

Plain yoghurt
Dairy-lea dunkers
Mayonnaise

Salad cream (1.5 bottles left)
Salad dressing (1 full bottle left)

FREEZER

2 packs of leftovers from the roast chicken
2 wild caught salmon steaks
Fishfingers
5 hot dogs
1/2 pack organic minced beef

1 organic chicken breast

 

CUPBOARD

Organic instant hot chocolate
Beef gravy instant pot

Wine (usually prosecco)
Nature valley granola bars
Honey
Tuna (3/4 tins left)

VITS & MINS

To be done

HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS

To be done

Lives of Quiet Desperation

It was Henry David Thoreau who said in Walden: 

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

I think he must have meant not just men, but women also. Sometimes I feel a huge discord between the life I talk about and the life I experience internally. Quiet desperation (and at times not so quiet) has been the theme of the last two weeks for me. I tend not to blog much about difficulties at home, and I suppose that’s why I don’t talk about them in real life either. It seems ungrateful and like I am craving attention when I begin to talk about the things that I am finding hard.

But the last two weeks have been hard. Hell, the last two years have been hard. Hard in a different way to the years before them. When baby F arrived I thought I could never have a sad day ever again. But of course it is impossible (I think?) to spend every day of your life in joyous rapture – unless you are Buddha. And baby F was sent to test my parenting skills to the absolute limit. After my husband moved out, we had a week of calm at home. The children were all sleeping. I was sleeping. No one was arguing. I was planning a long period of early nights and restoration of my poor weary soul.

But toddler F got sick. It started with a cold, and then a cough. That developed into days of extreme fever (105 degrees), which gave way to more coughing and then a severe sinus infection and still the coughing. The result of all that is that she has woken around 4 times every night for two weeks without a break (up from the usual one or two wakings that have never settled). She goes from silent sleep to blood-curdling screaming in an instant. It never fails to shock my system into panic as I hurtle into consciousness. It’s a distressing and depressing thing to deal with every night. It starts around 22:30, which is usually not long after I’ve fallen asleep. She will then wake at midnight, 2am and 4am. Every. Single. Night.

And the screaming never seems to stop. In the daytime she is as demanding as ever, freaking out if I misunderstand what she is saying, or don’t give her exactly what she wants. She often screams on the entire school run, and then clings to me red eyed and silent while I wait in the playground, refusing to walk or stand on her own two feet. She is afraid of seemingly everything (refusing to get out of the car at the beach today, for example, and crying to go home). She screams blue murder when I try to get her in the bath. She cries if I walk too close to someone’s dog.

She can’t sleep unless I am in the same room at bedtime, which is not easy when it comes to doing bedtime for the boys. She sleeps around the same number of hours as my 6 year old and I am sure she is constantly exhausted.

On top of that, my 8 year old is rarely asleep before 9:15pm, and cannot seem to stay in bed before that, so there is no evening time for me to unwind. By the time I’ve settled him and crawled into bed myself, it’s not long before toddler F starts up the first screaming session of the night.

As you can imagine, my state of mind is not at its best. I’m irritable with the boys, impatient with everyone and everything. All I want to do is sleep and yet I never can. I’m a crappy, miserable mother and my empathy for my children’s problems has been much reduced of late. So then I add guilt and self-abhorrence into the mix. My children are crying and I don’t care, but then I do care and I regret feeling so detached and then I cry because it all just hurts and feels so bloody hard and they deserve better than I can give.

My husband took all three children out for the day yesterday and I crept back into bed at 9:30am after saying goodbye and didn’t wake up until 2pm. Today he was here and I had to creep upstairs and sleep for 90 minutes in the afternoon because I couldn’t think straight and was losing my patience with the kids yet again.

My exhaustion feels bottomless and I have no idea how to stop the night screaming that is disturbing all of us.

Add to that my period (nice timing), and the fact that I have started having regular nightmares again for the first time in years (I think caused by the general unease of my husband not being here at night), and I am an all round basket case. I’m in tears one minute and laughing the next. Then I’m shouting at everyone for some stupid misdemeanour that wouldn’t normally bother me. It’s a horrible, unpredictable, exhausting way to live.

So I am leading a life of quiet desperation at the moment. I am praying for easier days (and nights). I am hoping that the haggard, lined and faintly surprised face I see staring back at me in the mirror starts to look a little less sallow and a little less aged at some point soon. I will take my quiet desperation out into next week, on the school run, and to all the activities that I do. And hope that someday soon I get enough rest to feel a sense of quiet happiness instead.

A Walk In My Shoes

Just for fun this afternoon I wrote down everything I did for the seven hours between 1:30pm and 8:30pm.

  • Change baby F’s nappy
  • Make lunch for me and the kids. F won’t sit in the highchair because of the cat, so I eat my lunch, with her eating her lunch, on my lap
  • Clear away lunch stuff
  • Call coroner
  • Convince all three children to get dressed so we can walk to post office. Bribe C by telling him he can take his remote control car in the lanes
  • Deal with baby F who refuses to get in buggy for first 10 minutes of trip
  • Deal with tantrum from C and take car away as I have already explained he can only use it in the lanes, not on the road
  • Post eBay parcel at post office
  • Walk home, baby F falls asleep in buggy
  • Wheel buggy into house and try to catch up on a bit of work I was supposed to do at the weekend
  • Finish an editing task and email a client
  • Get drinks for the boys
  • Tell the boys there are going to be some changes around here and that Mummy is going to get organised. Okay they say, and run off to play.
  • Shout up to the boys to stop bouncing on the beds
  • Log into eBay and mark parcel as dispatched
  • Hit re-list on a dress that didn’t sell and reduce the price
  • Empty tumble-dryer (we have no washing line, so I am tumble-drying in 25 degree heat), and fold up washing
  • Empty washing machine and put damp load in the tumble dryer
  • Open all the doors and windows as the house is overheating
  • Take the tags off some new winter clothes for the boys and run them through a quick wash
  • Get the now awake baby F out of the buggy
  • Try to take off her shoes but she refuses
  • Put the buggy back in the car
  • Put the shopping bags back in the car from this mornings supermarket trip
  • Enter post office spend in my budget (I use YNAB)
  • Help L find C’s watch
  • Help F put on a thick winter cardigan she has found on the floor even though it is boiling hot
  • I walk away after putting on the cardi, which is apparently the wrong thing to do because baby F immediately has an inconsolable tantrum
  • Bring the washing upstairs while she screams on the floor as she is too angry to hold or to comfort
  • Take the cardigan off because she is sweating and overheating
  • Tell C who is lying on my bed naked to put his underwear back on
  • Put some washing away until baby Fs rage calms to normal crying. This takes almost 15 minutes from start to finish
  • Cuddle her (now she isn’t thrashing against me) and sit and read some picture books with her
  • Move to her room as she wants to play with toys
  • Help L look for his watch. The boys room is so messy we can’t find it
  • Go back to baby Fs room
  • Help baby F try on several outfits she has pulled out of the cupboard
  • Break up a fight between L and C
  • At 4pm decide that the TV is going to have to babysit as I cannot leave the three of them unoccupied and I have to prepare and cook dinner
  • Pick up and put away all the outfits away that baby F has pulled out
  • Change baby F’s nappy
  • Track down the lady who offered to help rehome the cat by going through this mornings call history on my mobile until I get the right number
  • Call her and check I didn’t imagine it, and apologise for crying on the phone this morning
  • Empty the tumbledryer and fold up all the washed and dried bedlinen, some of which has sat on the floor for two days after the boys managed to smash a glass lampshade all over the bed with their lightsabers
  • Put the next load of washing in the tumble dryer
  • Chop up a broccoli and a cauliflower for tonights dinner
  • Get baby F a drink
  • Put the last 40g of a 200g bar of wholenut chocolate that I’ve eaten over the last few hours back in the cupboard. I now have a mouth ulcer
  • Get pots and pans ready for dinner
  • Sit down and watch some CBeebies with the children <– THIS IS MY BREAK TIME ?
  • Three minutes later answer the phone to the cat shelter who can take Little Bob this evening. End up in tears again over everything. Wonder how I’m going to manage to drop him off without being a sobbing mess
  • The husband arrives home. Pass the kids over and, give him a fun summary of my day
  • Take the last load out of the tumble dryer and fold up the clothes
  • Make cheese sauce, cook sausages, cook veg
  • Wonder, while I am cooking, if my stress levels contribute to how anxious baby F seems to be all the time. Feel guilty. Feel guilty about always having so much to do. Feel guilty about the cat. Feel guilty about everything
  • Serve dinner. L says ‘Yuk’. C leaves most of it. They all eat some yoghurt and apple
  • Feed the cat
  • Break up a fight between C and L over cheating at Guess Who
  • Deal with C’s tantrum over it being too late to get a new jigsaw out
  • C hits me on the back while I am sorting out toothbrushes for L and baby F in the bath. C refuses to get in
  • Finally convince L to let me remove the remnants of the three stick-on tattoos he got over a month ago
  • Get F and L out of bath.
  • Send L to get dressed and read downstairs
  • Read stories to F
  • Get F a drink
  • Put F into cot
  • Get cat box out of garage
  • Go back upstairs and cuddle crying F
  • Say goodnight to C (husband has read stories)
  • Go back and cuddle F again
  • Gather up cat things
  • Get husband to help get cat in cat box
  • Drive to rescue house, leaving baby F still crying, and try not to imagine horrible things happening to Little Bob
  • Arrive at rescue house and discover a wonderful lady in a wonderful house with a wonderful cat “hotel” in her garden
  • Drive home and thank the universe for looking after Little Bob
  • Stop for wine at the local shop, even though I finished the last of an open bottle yesterday and I said I wouldn’t buy any more
  • Get home and tell the husband the cat lady is lovely
  • Go and reassure L, who is still awake, that Little Bob is going to be fine
  • Open the wine and sit down, grateful for a good end to a difficult day.

The Morning I Cried on the Stairs

I’m at home with the three children, and things are crazy. The amount I have to do to sort out my uncle’s affairs and funeral and flat and car seems endless. Plus the all the organising and getting ready for both boys to return to school next week. L is moving up to juniors so there’s lots of new things, including the logistics of actually getting him there and my work days and how it’s all going to fit in with dropping off C and baby F. And did I mention the cat?

My uncle kept a cat in his flat, called Little Bob. Pets weren’t allowed, and my uncle lived on the the 9th floor of a tower block, but never mind any of that. Little Bob has been living with us for the last few days and it has been a total nightmare. He is toilet trained, but a) the kids screaming and playing and shouting is freaking him out, b) my uncle dying in the flat and laying on the floor all night probably freaked him out, and c) coming here and being in a new home is almost certainly freaking him out.

So, as I was saying, he’s toilet trained, but I think the stress is disturbing him because he has weed half in the litter tray and half in the house. He’s pooed in front of the washing machine, he’s weed on the coir mat area by the front door. He’s also knocked all of the (overdue and unsorted) papers from my desk onto the floor and then weed next to them, so they soaked it all up. Nice. God knows what’s in that pile, but it’s probably a ton of things I should have done by now but haven’t.

This morning, after the bank holiday weekend, I tried to ring around and find a rescue home for him.

Oh my god.

What the fuck is everybody doing in the world that each rescue home has 50+ cats on its waiting list? Honestly, why oh why oh why does ANYBODY get a pet without thinking for a second that it’s a decade+ of commitment? Why isn’t the pet industry better regulated? Why is there so much cruelty? One woman told me not to share on Facebook because free cats are picked up for bait in dog fights. I mean, what the actual fuck? She started to tell me about them being tied down and I just spoke over her and told her to NOT tell me any of this because it would stop me sleeping at night.

I called so many places and everyone said there was a waiting list of weeks, or they would just ring me if they could help. There are now five of us and a cat in an 840sq/ft house. We’re all sleeping with all the doors closed to keep him out of the bedrooms (which I hate), and I am not kidding when I say the entire house is covered in cat hair already. It is everywhere. I come downstairs each morning and it’s on top of the fridge, the table we eat from, everywhere. I was hoovering it up yesterday while the husband was sorting out the litter tray and we had taken up the matting by the door to wash it and let it dry in the garden (thank goodness we are in the middle of a mini heatwave), and I had to wonder – why would anyone do this voluntarily? All the extra work, and time taken away from all the other stuff you need to do and time taken away from time you want to spend with your children?

And before I incur the wrath of pet-lovers everywhere, I grew up in a house of animals. I am not a pet-hater. But why add so much more responsibility to an already frantic life? Everyone is always complaining of being too busy. Rescue homes are heaving with abandoned, and neglected pets. Why do people keep buying them??

Anyway, after that I called the funeral policy company. My uncle had one single asset – a policy to contribute to funeral costs, bless him. This was probably the 15th phone call I’d made that morning with screaming, shouting kids in the background, barely able to hear anything. Because I am my uncle’s niece I have to jump through hoops and then some in order to be able to administrate all the paperwork left behind (distant next of kin, no will). I have to fill in forms, get things signed, you name it. At least with my Nan I was executor of her will, so it was straightforward. This time, I could be anyone, and everyone is not very happy about it.

I put the phone down after a particularly trying conversation on a bad line, trying to hear the billion things I needed to do and begging the children to please be a little quieter, and I just cried.

I sat on the stairs (because the kids were all upstairs and they couldn’t be out of sight), and cried. I cried about the inordinate amount of shit that I am currently trying to deal with, and how fucking tired I am all the time, how difficult everything seems and also for Little Bob, who is a poor innocent cat and god knows where he’s going to end up, and for my uncle, who died alone on the floor of his flat and has no one else to sort this out for him. And I cried because the children haven’t listened to me all morning, and because we have taken them out for treats and days out and yet sometimes they are so whiny and ungrateful and they take everything we have for granted, always asking for more and always moaning about wanting to play on the iPad. And I cried because I feel so out of shape and old and horrible and the most basic things of each day – feeding everyone, getting everyone into bed, clearing up – all suck all the joy out of me on a regular basis.

And then the phone rang, and I didn’t even catch her name or the organisation, but someone can take Little Bob. I was so relieved and grateful, I then cried on the phone to her. I am still waiting to hear from the lady who is going to take him in, so I’m not quite convinced yet that I’ve managed to sort something out, but I am hoping.

And then I cried some more and decided that things need to change.

I have three children and I cannot do everything. My inbox is literally bursting with (probably urgent) unread mail. I am behind on some work things I needed to do over the summer. My budget is out of the window. The house is a mess. The boys room looks like a war zone.

Modern life sucks!

There shouldn’t be this much to do all the time!

I hate the fact that at the moment I am reacting to everything, instead of  preparing and planning.

I am constantly in fire-fighting mode and I need to get out of it.

Am I the only person who feels totally overwhelmed by all the things that life seems to need, all the time?

Things are going to change. I need to start getting rid of things and cutting down what we have to do. Everyone is crabby and miserable all the time. Failing a move to a remote ranch in Australia (if only), we’ll have to recreate that as best we can here. I’m sick of fast food and overconsumption. I’m sick of landfill toys and throwaway belongings. I’m sick of constant days out to keep bored kids happy, and too many treats and taking everything for granted. I’m sick of it all.