6 February 2018

Last night was pretty good!

Everyone was asleep by 20:30 for starters. F had a massive screaming cry at around 9pm, which I think was because she did a big wee and she is a bit sore down below. After changing her and getting her back down she slept until 06:30, yay!

I woke at 01:30 briefly, but otherwise had a good night.

I saw Mum today and we went to the chemist and got me some hair dye. My grey is going wild. I’ve gotten to the point where my self-consciousness over the wiry grey hairs amid my normal very dark brown hair has tipped the balance over my dislike of chemicals and the annoyance of having to dye it. When I get time to actually do something with the little box I will post pics.

Kids all asleep by 20:15 (so early!), so another early night for me ?

5 February 2018

Last night was better. I woke at 00:30 and 01:30, restless, but F slept through aside from some mumbling and yawning at around 05:30.

I cleared out more stuff in the cupboard today. Most of the things I don’t use that I find hard to part with are sentimental. I had this old scrabble set in there. It used to belong to my parents and I’ve carted it around for decades. The box long ago disintegrated so I kept it in another box, along with the original box lid (missing the sides), because that had the official instructions printed on the back. The tiles were all in an ancient co-op plastic bag. There were four wooden tile stands.

We never play scrabble. But I always pass over this boxed up ancient game when I clear things out.

Today I took it down from the shelf and thought to myself,

I’ll put it in the loft.

However, once I was done with the shelves I was sorting out, and I’d cleared all the other things away, I hesitated. Why was I putting it in the loft? Was I ever likely to play it? What was the real reason I was keeping it?

I searched inside myself and looked for the honest answer. I was keeping it because I was sentimentally attached to it.

I opened out the box and knew deep down that there was no reason for me to keep it any longer. I lifted the ancient box lid out, with its coffee-coloured and stained inside that must have once been white, and I held it up to my face. It smelled like home.

That’s why I was keeping it.

The home that fell apart when I was in my early teens. It came from before then. From the days of security and fun and wonder and childhood. The delicate, dusty scent contained fragments from my old bedroom – long forgotten moisturisers and the dry rustle of childhood books. It reminded me of both my Mum and my Dad, and of our house where I grew up, sold when I was 16 as my parents divorced.

I sat there and cried and cried over a fucking 63 year old scrabble set (the date on the inside of the box was 1955). And I knew that what I felt was a longing for that feeling of home, of old things of my Dad’s and the distracted busy-ness of my Mum. And I also felt a great sorrow inside that my parents were not more affectionate towards me when I was a child. I found my comfort in the physical home I lived in, not the flesh of the people that brought me into the world. I knew the walls, the cupboards, every corner, intimately. It was my sanctuary. My parents loved me dearly, I do understand that now. But they were not good at showing it. They were distracted with their own problems, their own difficult lives, difficult upbringings.

As a child, when I was sad, I sobbed on my bed, not in their arms. When I played, I sat alone on the floor, not on their laps. When I was happy I smiled and watched the world outside my window, I didn’t share it with them. I was dismissed, too often. So my love of that scrabble set is a tender affection for the home I grew up in. It was a part of it that I brought with me when I left.

Buddha says that attachment will only bring dukkha (suffering), and suffering was exactly what I felt every time I looked at that old game. Emotional suffering.

I did the quirky Marie Kondo thing of thanking it for being a part of my life, and then I let it go.

And I knew I had done the right thing, because as long as we hang onto the past, we can never be fully present in the gift of life that we have today.

4 February 2018

Just when you think things are looking up, last night F woke at:

22:30
00:30
03:30
05:30

Crying rather than the howling screaming she usually does, but still horribly disruptive.

She was up for the day at 6:30am and both of us felt rotten. She was grisly and miserable. I was tired and depressed. She has a cold and last night it was a blocked-up nose that was stopping her sleeping well. I felt so down this morning, wondering when this cycle of illness and bad sleep is ever going to end. However, the husband took the kids out to see some planes at a war museum and I did a week’s worth of meal planning and an online shop order. Then I did two loads of washing and cleaned out the linen cupboard, setting aside a big bag of stuff to put in textile recycling.

There is nothing like a good sort out to lift my spirits. The more functional and essential my possessions, the happier I am. My love of minimalism is still strong and it’s something I’ve really neglected since F was born. I find modern life and all its trappings and choices so overwhelming. I crave simplicity and order, and it’s a hard thing to balance in today’s world, especially with young children.

Is it odd that paring down the bed linen to 2 or 3 matching sets per bed and folding all the towels in neat piles by size makes me so happy? I keep looking in the cupboard, just because it looks so lovely.

Tonight I’m in bed before 9pm and all the children are asleep (even L, which is unusual). Here’s hoping for a decent night.

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.

2 February 2018

Something interesting happened last night:

23:20 C came in and asked me to go to the bathroom with him

04:20 F woke up, yawned, and very nicely asked me for her BeeBee (giraffe teddy blanket). I found it for her and she went back to sleep.

No screaming! I also noticed that the last few nights (in my room), she has gone to sleep with very little fussing.

I had a morning of firefighting at work instead of getting the things done I had planned. I picked F up at 1pm and she fell asleep in the car. I drove to Sainsburys but she had a complete meltdown when she woke up. Total screaming nightmare so I couldn’t get her out of the car and take her shopping. She tried to kick me and screamed and screamed. I ran out of time waiting in the car park for her to calm down (20 minutes), so I just had to get back in the car and head to school. We took a long drive there and she calmed down a bit but was still crying when I collected C.

Then we did the daily wait for L to get off the bus. Waiting in the car with kids is a crap way to spend time. They climb all over every seat, press every button and generally annoy each other in a confined space. Every day. I’ll be so glad when the two boys are at the same school next year.

But this afternoon, once we were all home, I felt a little bit lighter than I have the last couple of weeks. Not quite so exhausted. More patient. And that is a good thing.