Limbo

Another few busy months have passed. We sold our home, and two weeks before the move date the people who we were buying from pulled out of the sale. So we had to find a rental. Quickly!

But the move itself went fairly smoothly and we’re temporarily set up in  a really lovely house with a huge garden (that our kids LOVE). But, I still feel like I’m in limbo.

As I was writing the sentence above, I suddenly wondered what Limbo meant. I had always thought it was just that you were waiting in a nothingness, where nothing was happening. Kind of floating in a sea of nothing.

Here’s what wikipedia says:

In the theology of the Catholic Church, Limbo (Latin limbus, edge or boundary, referring to the “edge” of Hell) is a speculative idea about the afterlife condition of those who die in Original Sin without being assigned to the Hell of the Damned.

Well… there you have it. Waiting, yes. Nothingness, not exactly. Not sure that I’m at the edge of actual ‘Hell’, but I do feel on edge and waiting for anything is my own personal hell. So, I guess “limbo” still fits.

(Just as an aside – does anyone recognise this language: “Kalıcı Bağlantı:” I just hit save and my screen is now in this language – sorry, I digress… as usual…)

So, back here in limbo land, I’m trying to figure out whether to take control and force a change or to let life take it’s course, enjoy the moments and accept whatever presents itself to me. I haven’t had this dilemma for a while. Before I had my kids I was a control freak. I would never have considered the second option. But, the biggest thing that my kids have taught me is how to go with flow. That is how I became interested in meditation and how I re-engaged my love of yoga (and no, before you ask, I’m STILL not practicing regularly… either of them).  (Argh! I wish I knew what save was in this new language, keep your fingers crossed I don’t lose everything I’m writing here!…digressing again, sorry)

I know I should be rolling out my mat, eating more cleanly, taking 20 minutes out per day to just… be. All of these things will bring me the calmness and clarity that will help me understand the crux of issue. I know there’s an issue because I want to go on holiday, I want to move to Australia or California, I want to buy a 50’s house and develop it into a modern mansion, I want to open a yoga studio, I want to be a stay at home mummy, I want to buy a grand old Victorian villa, I want to work in an actual office with other people and wear designer suits and killer heels… (and by the way, I don’t have the funds to do any of these things)… get the picture?

Grrrr! I’m my own worst enemy.

One day at a time… today I will make time to meditate (and maybe buy a lottery ticket!)

 

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Out of the blue

Hello! It’s been a while again, hasn’t it? My bad. Lots going on, and I’ve been trying to prioritise correctly.

Thanks to the 3 Day Nanny and a reward chart, my toddlers behaviour has transformed itself in the last few weeks. And, I’m kind of ashamed to say, so has my own. Ashamed because that means admitting, that previously, my behaviour had been poor.

I can see, now, that I spent several months wallowing in despair. Having 2 toddlers is hard work and can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Instead of taking a deep breath and some positive steps to make things better, I was creating a cycle of sadness and stress. I was making myself and everyone around me, including my babies, downright miserable. No wonder there were daily tantrums. Life was no fun. No fun at all.

My Beloved and I spent a couple of months talking with a relationship specialist. The first few sessions were easy. And afterwards we tried to ensure we made some time for ‘us’. But, I wasn’t feeling any improvement at home. A few weeks ago, though, we had a tough session. We argued. There was genuine anger. But, I think it was a turning point. I think we were starting to get honest.

We continue to meet with our friend, though not so regularly. It turns out we’re not naturally good communicators (which is funny, given the jobs that we do!) and we needed someone to help us just talk to each other.

We’re better now, although still have a way to go. There is still anger some days, there is still frustration. There are still many misunderstandings. But, how we each react to a negative feeling in the other, is beginning to change and we are able to deal with most of these instances quite quickly and move on. (In the past, it would have dragged on for hours, maybe even days).

And I think that is how the ball began to roll…

Feeling more confident in our ability to feel, to express and to deal with emotion without the threat of Armageddon, we were able (I was able) to knock down the walls that were keeping happiness at bay.

And so we started having some fun.

We had my baby girls birthday party with all her little friends. We went on an Outdoors Adventure holiday. We searched for Goldilocks and the 3 bears in the woods. We’ve been swimming. We’ve been on bike rides. We’ve been to the park and fed the ducks. We’ve been to the safari park. We washed the car. The kids have loved it. And we have re-discovered our inner child.

We’re having fun!

And I noticed something.

When the kids are happy, their behaviour is better. Which makes family time less stressful. Which makes us happier. The cycle, is now on an upwards spiral. So, we decided to make the most of it.

We introduced a reward chart 2 weeks ago, some house rules (like Be Kind, Share, Use your manners and Safety 1st). And we’ve tried really hard to stop saying NO! and start following through on the consequences of bad behaviour. But, to be honest, with less ‘nay-saying’ and positive focus on the sticker chart, there’s actually less need for ‘going to your room’. Both kids even managed to give up their dummy’s with only 1 night of major complaints. (Particularly difficult for my 3 year old as we had enabled her to form a very strong dependency on her “dodi”)

So, here we are. Not in the proverbial rose garden. And not with children who behave perfectly 100% of the time. But, a happy family, who love and support each other and are all learning how to deal with the hard stuff, and move on from it, so that we can get back to doing the fun stuff, sooner than later.

We’re out of the blue, and into the sunshine.

A surprising day

It seems I’ve been remiss again, when it comes to regular blog posting. As ever, never enough hours in the day and still trying to find a yoga class that fits the schedule.

Yesterday was a weird day.

My baby boy was back in hospital for yet another test. Let me give you some background; when he was 10 days old he was hospitalised due to a dangerously high temperature. The Doctors knew it was an infection but could only find out what kind by performing multiple tests. Standard procedure dictates that they treat for the worst case scenario until they can rule it out. This is because in a baby that young, every second counts and they don’t want to leave anything to chance. Worst case scenario, by the way, is the big M (meningitis).

Long story short; lots of needles, tubes, invasive testing and 5 days later we had confirmation that it was a urine infection. They sent us home with prophylactic antibiotics and the understanding that they would follow up and check for any damage in 6 months.

Cut to present day. Follow up began a month ago. Urine infections in boys are not do common. in 10 day olds, very rare. So, the Doctors are keen to ensure there are no underlying issues. He’s had ultrasounds, x-rays, tubes, needles and scans – one of which sounded like there was a distinct possibility that he was undergoing the same process as Bruce Banner. And throughout it all, with a few understandable exceptions, he has remained his smiley, giggly, happy little self.

Yesterday, he was very brave. More brave than we were as usual. The process seemed easier. I can’t praise the staff at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital enough. They seemed to put us all at ease without us really noticing.

So, we had expected a traumatic day and in the end it was just uncomfortable for 20 minutes. And then an unexpected opportunity presented itself. Well, Grandma presented it.

She had changed her shift to finish earlier in case we needed her. And when we didn’t, she came over anyway. She helped settle the kids and stayed a while, sending us out into the night on our own for a little while.

So, we had a proper meal for the first time in ages. A glass of wine and a giggle. We talked about the old days and how good they were. And how, despite having not had a full nights sleep in months, having to juggle full time jobs, 2 kids under 3 and multiple hospital appointments – these are BEST days. Just what we needed.

Thank you Peanut, for being a force for positivity. And thank you Mum. Just thank you. Your love and support are infinite and unconditional. If I can be half the mother to my children that you are to me, I’ll be doing OK 🙂

I’m a (Role) Model, you know what I mean? And I do my little turn on the catwalk

Even more shocking than the ode to Right Said Fred in the title of this post, is the realisation that I am a role model!

Why has this just hit me?

It was something that my Beloved said this morning that illuminated the point to me, in huge Vegas-style lights.

Strawbug went to day care today, carrying a tiny white, vintage style, handbag. It was her choice to take it, I had no influence in the decision. The bag was given to her (preloved) by her Auntie who lives in London. (Note to the reader: Strawbug has regular bouts of obsession with London, but that’s another post).

She carried it over her arm, the strap cradled in her elbow. She looked like a mini Jackie-O, without the hat and gloves… and in some leggings and a pair of baby converse. OK, so, she didn’t look exactly like Jackie O. But, she did have an aura of 1950’s glamour about her, in the way that she carried herself, or more specifically her bag. I digress.

When I told my Beloved about how much everyone smiled when they seen her, he said “Aww, she wants to be just like you. She loves you.” And the lights went on…

I have lost count of the number of times that I have reprimanded my Beloved for things he has said, or done, in front of the kids. “I know that they are only little, but they are like sponges. They take it all in” I say. To the point where now, I only have to look over at him and he says “I know, I know, SPONGES!”. And to prove my point, Strawbug regularly walks around the house reciting “Oh, Blimey!” continually. (To be honest, it could have been worse). I have a stack of parenting books that back up this theory (and, it seems now I have Strawbug backing me up with real, live, evidence).

I’m always so careful about what I say in front of the kids, because the feedback from their learning tends to be rapid. (i.e. they pretty much repeat what you say, word for bloody word, immediately – especially if it’s a word you shouldn’t have said within earshot of them).

But I often forget that they are soaking in all that I DO as well. Because the impact of this learning appears (to me, anyway) to be more subtle or, at least, deferred until later. Now that I have seen my first exhibit of evidence, though, is it time to start moderating my behaviour as well? That’s seems like a big ask.

But surely I would only need to change my behaviour, if my behaviour was defective. And well, if your a mother, (and you are anything like me) you probably question your behaviour (and your abilities) on a daily basis. Every day I think about how to help Strawbug be the best Strawbug she can be. And now, it has finally dawned on me that the best way to do that is to be the best Me that I can be.

So, here I am. My life is a catwalk and I’m being watched, admired and looked up to, by my babies. I need to show them how to face life with dignity and grace. I need to show them what beauty really means. If I come across an obstacle I need to show them how to find a way to the other side. If I find myself at a crossing, I need to show them how to choose the right path. And if I fall off my heels, I need to show them how to get up again, dust yourself off and keep going. Because I am a role model!

The Green Eyed Monster

I don’t know if it’s the January blues, or some delayed post natal melancholy, but I feel a little sad today. The feeling has been triggered by the sight of a photo that my BFF published on Facebook last night. In the photo she is glamourous, slender and blonde and tanned, with her two adorable children. She’s on holiday, so there is blue sea and blue sky behind her and it’s very, very sunny. And she is smiling such a beautiful, genuinely happy smile.

Cut to me – as they say in Hollywood – sitting in baggy sweatpants that might walk off me, of their own accord, at any minute now. Dyed dark hair that makes me look even more blue than my natural Scottish skin tone. It’s more than a little peppered with grey, which coupled with the deep set wrinkles and deathly pallor of my face add about 15 years to me. Then there’s the wobbly, podgy, size 15 body, which hasn’t been cared for in months (no, make that years, if we’re being honest). And I’m scowling, a genuinely gloomy scowl.

I’m envious, though I shouldn’t be. She has had the toughest year of her life and she really deserves to have come out the other side with a huge smile on her face. And I love her deeply. She’s my BFF. But I can’t shake the envy.

Envy is a green eyed monster, a monster that’s only concern is with the destruction of its beholder.

I’ve learned though, from many years of psychotherapy and from many more years of managing issues at work, that what looks like the problem is often not the problem at all. I don’t mean to be mysterious, so, I’ll expand. The envy I feel for my BFF’s perfectly tanned, slender and happy life is, as I said earlier, a trigger. Designed by my subconscious to make me think more deeply about something that is actually causing me unhappiness.

I’ve experienced many of these “triggers” in recent years. Some quite major and others more superficial. All of which result in finding an issue around a similar theme; Me.

I’ve just had a tough few months of my own. My Beloved and I have had to work very hard together to get through them. We’ve had significant financial challenges, even greater emotional challenges and toddler challenges that require the diplomatic skills of Kofi Annan. And we’re not out of the tunnel yet. *DING* And there it is…

She’s out of the tunnel, and I desperately want to be too.

Patience is something that no one in my little family unit has much of. Especially me. (Try teaching patience to a 2 year old when you struggle with it yourself!) So, I guess I’ll have to revert to walking the walk… One little step at a time. Today, I’m going to take some time out and meditate. And outside of that, try to practice being present. Enjoy the moments, not long for the future. It won’t be easy, but, I have just re-read I Breathe In, I Breathe Out, on Yoga + Living + Life, and I’m drawing support and inspiration from this simple mantra.

Thank you for reading what has been quite a cathartic post. I feel a little less blue now. If you’re felling sad today, leave me a comment. Maybe we can help each other through it.

Babies cry, Marie!

You know, I thought it would be a breeze this time. I mean, I’m practically an expert now, right?

Wrong!

The last few days have been a bit of a challenge on the Mother ship. My baby boy has not been himself. Usually, a laid back happy little soul, he’s done nothing but cry. And, try as I might to comfort him, nothing can ease his sorrow.

Roll back 2 years and we were very used to pacing the floor with a screaming baby, whom we could not comfort and could not for the life of us understand. “Have you done the checklist?“, “Yes, twice. I just don’t know what’s bothering her“. Cue Grandma; “aww, she’s just not herself today” or worse “this is just her grizzly time, they all have it“. What??!! That’s not good enough, I NEED AN ANSWER!! We were tearing our hair out.

Granted, this time around we are significantly less stressed about the inexplicable sobbing. But, that doesn’t stop the despair when you can’t make it all better. My BFF, yogaswerve, in an attempt to make me feel better, once told me “Babies cry, Marie!” It’s true, at the time (with rivers of tears and probably a dribble of snot rolling down my face – hey, I was distraught, I had the Baby Blues) I hadn’t really appreciated just how much a baby cries. Or, probably more accurately, how helpless and useless the crying makes you feel.

So, here we are again, feeling helpless and useless. Thinking, we should have our license by now and wondering if we’ll ever “pass”. And then it hits me. We will NEVER get our full license. We will forevermore bear the L plates we were handed in January 2010. Because, every day is a first. We’ve never raised a 2 year old, we’ve never raised a kid at school, we’ve never had to worry about teenage angst. And every day brings something new.

And we don’t really get the bonus of experience with our baby boy. Because, he’s so different to his sister. The only thing we do have is a better understanding of that phrase that rings in my ears; “Babies cry, Marie!” And if I ever write the book of my blog, that is what it will be called!

Be brave

My baby boy has a hospital appointment today. It’s a follow up test from an infection he contracted when he was 10 days old. I’m dreading it. It’s an intrusive test.

I’m not brave by nature. I tend to shy away from confrontation, well, confrontation from someone else that I’m not prepared for. Fight or Flight? I’m probably 20% Fight, 80% Flight. But that’s an improvement. (caveat: not that I think 100% fight is the right approach either)

Explaining the world, and rationalising baseless fear, for an anxious 2 year old, has forced me to think about my own fear. I’ve had to defer to the left side of my brain on many occasions when, in her shoes, I would myself probably succumb to the right. It’s difficult to explain to someone with little or no reference points for life, that some things are dangerous and therefore she should rightly be wary of them, yet other things – unknown things – are often nothing to be scared of at all.

In the case of today’s tests, my fears and anxiety are not groundless. They are based on 5 days spent in hospital with a tiny baby, needles and tubes everywhere, being poked and prodded by doctors and potentially having the worst infection a child can have (thank heavens it turned out to be something slightly less sinister). And more than anything just wanting to pick him up, hold him and make it all go away. Which of course, I can’t.

I can’t even begin to imagine how parents of kids with severe or terminal illness cope.

So, I find myself experiencing and learning alongside my kids. As, by way of example, I have no choice but to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. When it comes to being brave, it is not being fearless that counts, it’s feeling the fear and doing it anyway.