Thank you and Goodbye, 2020.

Do you have New Year’s resolutions this year?

I don’t.

Well, except to survive. And finish my work before the baby pops out. I am increasingly worried I won’t be able to, as taking care of a toddler who now NEEDS to be challenged…. is, well.. CHALLENGING. Lol.

My husband and I watched Death to 2020 on Netflix last night after baby was in bed. We also shared a pizza. That is now called ‘date night’. The show is basically Charlie Brooker’s Yearly Wipe, but not on the BBC anymore, so the budget is much bigger. It’s a great thing to watch, and makes what has been a taxing year on many seem a little more light hearted. It got a few laughs out of us, and some sighs.

I have come to understand now why Britons spend much of winter in a state of ‘waiting’. See folks, I was born in this country, but brought up in another. A hot country. Where the sun beamed all year around and when a cloud was spotted, even a far away teeny tiny wisp of a thing, one prayed for rain. Where the ground was parched and the dust settled the moment you wiped it off a surface. Rain was a joyous celebration. All I knew of British weather was the summertime. Luscious, plentiful greenery and heady long days, the best of British weather.

Ten years ago my parents returned to their country, and brought me back with them. So it took me ten years to develop a sort of cold disdain towards winter. I used to love winter. Squelchy leaves underfoot, beautiful frosty mornings, warmth of an evening around a kitchen table with a hot drink, snow and ice and perpetual grey. Now I detest it. I think it might have something to do with me having moved to a tiny little ghost town called Crewe, which according to some, does not even exist and this is all a dream.

Some people are very proud of Crewe. It has a nice history of being a railway town, the biggest one up North, where they made the trains.

Now it is bedraggled and in need of some love, but all it gets is… well economic disappointment. Year in year out. And four years living here has really taken its toll on my soul. I wanna get out, folks. I WANNA GET OUT. I hope I do! Some say one never escapes Crewe. If that is true… shiver me timbers.

Anyway, as I said, a lot of Britons spend winter waiting for summer, and that is what I am doing this year. I want summer. I want heat. I want warmth in my heart and soul. I want family. I want the heat of the sun on my cheeks and burning in my hair. I want lots of things.

But I also want to learn how to be grateful for what I have.

That’s a huge lesson that I learnt this year, but one that still needs a lot of practise by me.

Be grateful.

Have a roof over your head? Heating? Food in the fridge? DESSERT? A job!? A family? A little boy who loves life? Lots of family? People who care?

BE GRATEFUL.

So that is my resolution for this year, then. To remember to be grateful and thankful and contented. To stop wanting things that are not meant for me just yet. To remember all the good things I do have, and hold them dear.

Now then. That was a good exercise in thinking about things. It’s also snowing here in Crewe for the first time since November last year. That’s quite nice. I shall enjoy that a bit.

Thank you and goodbye, 2020.

On the United Kingdom of Great Tiers

Folks the UK has gone mad. Well it feels like it has at any rate. Apparently food shortages now constitute of lack of availability of essential foods like lettuce and citrus fruits. Whatever will we do!?

I feel like the news outlets are contributing more to this mass hysteria and it makes me laugh, whilst simultaneously shaking my head in irritation. It’s like they go around finding random people in an otherwise well-stocked supermarket and asking them if they haven’t been able to find anything, and the one random guy goes ‘Er, yeah, the lettuce shelf is EMPTY. EMPTY, can you see? My wife is waiting for lettuce at home and THERE IS NONE LEFT.’

And then they pan over the shelves groaning under the weight of a million other foods, and finally rest the camera on a couple of empty plastic bins that once contained lettuce but now do not.

WhaTEVER will we DO!?!?

Now everybody wants to rush to Tesco to buy toilet roll and rice and eggs, for some reason, because doing their massive Christmas shop was not enough, somehow. And nobody is going to risk not having toilet paper because last time they ended up using lettuce instead and now there isn’t even that to fall back on.

Anyway it feels to me like our prime minister is a prime buffoon, who cares mostly about being popular hence the constant teetering on the edge of various rules and turning back on himself. He doesn’t know whether he is coming or going, to be honest, and reassures the public that he does in fact use a hairbrush when we know this is a lie, as he has been caught on camera mussing up his ridiculously blond hair… I think he likes looking like a deranged old owl.

London is now in Tier 4 which means total lockdown but that has not stopped people from the South of the UK travelling up to Tier 2 areas such as York for a quick pint, and getting arrested for doing so. Is that just an entitled attitude that southerners have? Because when us lot up North (I say ‘us lot’ but I am really a Southie by birth and heritage oh dear even though I do live up North) were in higher tiers of lockdown none of us took a jolly down South for a pint, did we? Well I didn’t hear of any of us getting arrested for doing so, at any rate.

Anyway I don’t care about Christmas being cancelled. I am heavily pregnant and have a lot of work to do in the 5 weeks before I give birth. I am so heavy, the heaviest I have ever been in my entire life. I am swollen and in pain and just generally feeling bLARGH. So I focus on other things to distract me from my discomfort and that tends to be the news, work and of course a busy toddler.

I just want to have my body back to be honest, and want coronavirus to piss off. I want to be able to lie on my back without feeling like I am suffocating and just… oh dearie me. It’s not a good time for much, folks, but it’s as good a time as we will get so we better make the most of it.

What are your Christmas plans?

To Document

I am just writing this here because I have had a Very Bad Day.

A

not

very

present

day.

A

Lost.In.My.Head.

DAY.

With lots of fog and tiredness and mounting worry and frustration.

Probably boils down to the fact that I am Very Exhausted and Really Struggling.

I spent the day alone with my son today as my husband had to work outside the home – usually he can work from home. See I think I take this man for granted, because today was horrific. I had no energy at all. I was trying so hard to get work done, and I did all the things I usually do to exhaust my boy, like going for a walk, painting, building things, making muffins, having a long bath with lots of pouring and splashing. Video calling Nana. In bed by 8pm.

He did not sleep until 11pm, folks.

He rolled around, pinched my arms, gave me cuddles and kisses, cried a little when I got frustrated and told him to GO TO SLEEP PLEASE. Eventually he fell asleep in my arms and I slowly heaved myself up and out into the light of the hallway and my goodness did I cry.

I felt really out of my depth and out of control. And I did not get any work done at all. With a deadline tomorrow this means no sleep for me tonight.

I also have other issues – health issues – that do NOT help the situation. For example I am

seven months pregnant.

So my fuse is short.

And my patience is thin.

My hips are locked, my pelvis is turned the wrong way and it’s bloody uncomfortable to sleep so sleep is not sufficient for rest. It’s actually funny if you really think about it. I have for sure laughed about it when I have had better days.

I am so done, folks.

And I frankly just want my mother around but she is a Very Busy Woman. You see she still has my other siblings at home and while two of them are adults and have jobs/lives of their own, the other two are still boys. Teenage boys. She also works full time and is currently undergoing lots of household changes.

It’s very difficult to acquire help in these times. And I know I am probably being pig headed about this but I refuse to travel two hours to stay with my in laws just so I can get ‘help’. To me it’s not help. To me it’s having my son babysat while I struggle with heart palpitations and walking on eggshells and crippling anxiety. I lived with them before and being pregnant, working full time and having a toddler will make it worse than it was. I would probably end up in deep depression like I did last time. They can stay over all they like although when they do it’s actually more work for me, but nobody sees it that way.

See if my mum stayed over I wouldn’t feel the need to get out of bed early and make her breakfast or cook full meals for everybody or appear in control. I would let her see me in my glorious half naked frizzed out state. I would feel comfortable. Not so with anybody else, and I suppose that’s mostly natural, people’s personalities differ. Their expectations differ.

Anyway.

I do not write to complain.

I write to release and document.

It’s a hard phase of life and one day I will look back and say, ‘Man, that was rather a hard time wasn’t it.’

Or maybe I will say, ‘Man, I wish I had it as easy as I did then!’

Lol. Who knows, eh?! And if you can’t laugh about it then you’ll jolly well cry and I am going to laugh about it.

Tomorrow. With my husband. Who I DO take for granted. And I will tell him so. He makes my life easier. So much easier. When he is gone it’s totally miserable.

On Feeling Burnt Out

I am very tired lately. I sneak naps by accident, like when I am putting my son to bed. I will fall asleep for an hour then wake up groggy, panicky and shaky because my blood sugar is low and I also have lots of work to do.

Work is stressing me THE FUDGE out. Which is so selfish to say because I work from home and am very lucky to have this remote working job. The whole company works from home, as they are an app and it’s a start-up.

I just sometimes feel out of my depth because I need hours of uninterrupted thinking time to do this job, and you can’t have that when you have a one year old with you full time. So I get this work done when he is asleep, often staying up until the small hours, and getting up in the later-small hours to work until he wakes up, and work through his afternoon nap, and while he eats his meals, and sometimes pop The Gruffalo on for him (it lasts 28 minutes) so I have half an hour’s time to work.

But even so I think it’s not enough. It’s 8 hours per day but I need more than that.

And I am falling behind and sometimes appearing stupid in meetings. And am worried they will think I am not doing enough or thinking enough and will fire me. So I am pushing and pushing and pushing harder and harder. And I am so goddamn tired. Bloody hell. And lonely. But too goddamn tired to connect with anybody, even my parents. And when I cook and clean I feel half hearted, and when I read to my son my eyes start to close. I take him to the park 3-4 times a week and try to run around with him and play with him, and that’s tiring too.

How do people do it? How do they work full time and mother full time and get 8 hours of sleep and work-out and eat healthy and be in a good mood?

Because I can’t do all of that. So something has to give. And that’s my sleep. I probably get 3 hours of sleep a night. And when I crawl into bed at 3am my son wakes up and asks for my ‘mam’ – which means ‘arm’, which means he wants to sleep in my arms.

And I lie there in the dead of the night, my arms numb from the weight of his head, and my fingers stroke his soft round cheeks and I listen to his even breathing, and smell the softness of the top of his head, which has lost the ‘baby’ smell but still has this sweet toddler smell, and sometimes he mumbles ‘mama’ in his sleep, and he nestles into me, and moves my arm tighter over his little baby body, and I relax.

Because yes I am stressed and sleep deprived and often think I cannot do this, but I realise that with each day, my son grows a little bit more. Maybe taller, maybe something in his brain grows, maybe he learns a new word, or conquers a new skill. And life is never the same again. And soon I won’t be as stressed or worried or tired, and I will feel glad I pushed through this period of time.

Often I think back to my pregnancy and how bloody hard and painful it was, and I remember the mantra I would recite as I hobbled around on a stiff hip, I would say only way out is through.

And that is true. Only way out is through. Just keep pushing. It will be over. Or get easier. Enjoy the time, as much as you can.

So I can smell the top of my baby’s head, and I can’t let the negativity get to me. Because it will change and shift again. Life always does.

Halloween Grinch

Folks it was Halloween yesterday and some people celebrated more than others. Here in the UK it is a pretty low-key event and you are even allowed the luxury of complaining about trick or treaters.

Maybe in some areas houses are insanely done up and it’s a party outside but I have never seen it. Only seen footage of that street party horror vibe in places like America and Canada where it actually is a big event.

My husband and I never did Halloween and to be honest I didn’t even do it as a child. I lived in the middle east and my British-grown parents who grew up in the 70s and 80s did not know anything of the holiday, because it is not a very British holiday.

So usually, on Halloween, we turn off our lights and put a polite sign on the door saying ‘Sorry, we aren’t trick or treating this year :)’ (with a smiley face to appear less obnoxious!). We spend the evening upstairs with a movie and a pizza or something similar, like a cup of tea and a packet of digestives and pleasantly ignore all the persistent knocks downstairs.

I know.

Mean and cruel.

We had a child last year and in October the child was 7 months and didn’t know any better. He was also quite poorly so we spent Halloween upstairs, in the bedroom, with the news on, a cup of tea and lots of toys to entertain a grizzly baby. We looked like zombies so I expect if someone had seen us they would have supposed we were in costume. Wouldn’t have blamed them at all.

This year nobody knocked on our door.

Well I lie.

Someone did. At 12:14pm. My husband peeped through the peephole and said, ‘Oh no, the trick or treaters have started already! There is a boy in a crocodile costume outside holding a bag!’

‘Don’t open it!’ I said frantically, scanning my cupboards, ‘we have nothing to give him! What about an apple?!’

Too late, my husband opened the door. The little boy came tentatively forward and handed us a paper bag before leaping back. On it was written: ‘Happy Halloween, love from O, S and L’.

“It’s for your baby!” he said, eyes bright, little dimples dancing.

Oh my goodness my mellowed mother heart.

“Awwwwwwwww” was the only thing I could say, “Thank you darling, that’s so sweet!”

He was the neighbour’s little boy, and he was dancing with glee. And my ‘baby’ was peeping around the door at him in curiosity.

‘Look, E, look what the little boy got you!’ and I took the bag and I kid you not there were tears in my eyes. How weird. The bag was filled with handmade Halloween crafts and little bags of sweets.

We waved as the little boy pranced back up the path and along the road to his own house.

And I felt so despicably awful for some reason, like I was such a grinch in the face of such innocent and sweet kindness.

It made me realise that these celebrations and events are for children, to make them happy and connect each other in a genuine way. It’s completely changed my outlook on why people celebrate Halloween like that and lie to their kids about Santa. It’s about creating magic and joy for kids which I think is so important. Seeing my baby boy’s eyes light up at this goody bag JUST FOR HIM made my heart melt.

And that is my Halloween story for this year.

What was your Halloween like? Do you celebrate it in true fashion or do you lock yourself away and grumble at the frivolity?

Image Credit

Sad

The clocks went back on Sunday morning at 2am. I feel so down about it to be honest with you.

Usually I welcome this change excitedly. I think about warm coats and hats and scarves and soft streetlamps, cosy bedrooms and dim lighting and warm mugs of sweet deliciousness. Candles. Baths. Hugs. Soup. Mother’s curries. My sister’s apple crumble. My husband’s cold cheeks, his warm hands in which my always cold ones nestle neatly.

This year it feels rather desolate if I am honest. It feels hazy and cloudy and tired and achey. It feels lonely, so lonely. A deep aching loneliness. Family so far away. Life so uncertain. Death knocking at the door. I see him and he is so close this year and I don’t know why.

Anyway I googled ‘why do I feel sad when the clocks go back‘ and it’s a very common ailment that people in the Northern hemisphere suffer from. It’s called SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I don’t think I have SAD but the dark season has made me feel sad this year. I think it’s worse too because I can’t see anybody really, and that is really hurting my heart.

So I decided not to wallow in self pity and do something about it. I have decided to light some candles every evening and tidy up properly once the sun has set, so we have a cosy space to relax in. I have decided to have a hot drink with my son before he goes to bed, just me and him (and maybe his dad if he has finished working on time), have a natter about our day and what books he would like to read before bed. I have decided to keep lamps on in the evening, to wind down. I have decided to take a brisk walk in the morning and a short one in the afternoon while it’s still light out. Get some of that Vitamin D aka happy hormone. Exercise and vitamin D apparently does wonders for the mood. We shall see how these changes help. If they do at all.

Have I missed anything out?

What do you do when you’re feeling low? Has anything you’ve tried helped you get out of a funk?

Rules

Are you following coronavirus rules where you are? What ARE the rules where you live? Is your government/local government making this clear?

Are you TIRED of coronavirus?

I am tired of it but since my son is asthmatic (hopefully it’s only childhood asthma but you can never be too careful) I am wary. So wary. But I have been doing things in this second wave that I would never have dared to do in the first wave.

Like taking my son to the supermarket. Out of necessity more than anything really, but this is something I would never have contemplated in the first wave. I feel guilty about it and like I am doing something VERY WRONG. He is 20 months old this Saturday (I know right, wow?!?!) and the supermarket is a strange and expansive place for him. He is in awe of it. Now if that isn’t a side effect of a pandemic then I don’t know what is.

I make sure to stay far away from people, and thankfully EVERYBODY I see wears a mask, because it’s the law now to wear masks in indoor spaces. And when something is the law in the UK, social etiquette demands that people adhere to it, no matter how much they grumble about it in their own homes. If one doesn’t adhere to it, they will definitely be discussed about contemptuously around dinner tables. (Tea tables if you’re ‘up North’). I live up North and so far, indoors, most people wear masks.

Who knows what really goes on, eh?

If you’re interested in some good thorough coronavirus news from the UK, check out this blog post. Ellen Hawley writes concisely and in a very entertaining way about the various things the UK is managing to do (and not to do) during this pandemic.

Shovelling Snow

Folks, I can’t keep up. There is so much to do. I feel like I am constantly shovelling a snowy pathway, only to have the snow carrying on falling around me, so no sooner do I complete one patch, then it needs doing again.

I feel like I have to keep moving because if I dare to stop for one second, I will drown.

I had a socially distanced evening last night with some other ladies. We met up in one of their gardens, the night was starry and dark and still. She had a wood fire burning, and we wrapped up warm and sipped spiced hot drinks. We talked until midnight. I have not done something like this in… years.

Anyway, it was really good. But I noticed throughout that I kept thinking of the chores I had to do and the work deadlines I had to adhere to, and even though the evening was meant to be relaxing, and I felt great after it, I felt my neck was so sore and my back muscles so tight from being hunched up in worry.

I saw a quote years ago before I had my son, which said ‘Cleaning the house while kids are growing is like shovelling snow while it’s still snowing’. It was on a fridge magnet and I got it for my mum because she appreciates humour. She also always complains about ‘us kids’ and the mess we make everywhere.

Anyway. I feel the quote is apt now, but it doesn’t just relate to kids, it relates to everything.

Someone recently said that the only reason why we feel stressed in our lives is because we want too much. I think we want what we want and we do what we think is the right thing to get there.

For example, I think to myself, why do I work? Well I work to buy my son his winter coat and shoes, to pay off bills, to put food on the table. If I decided not to work, then we would struggle to be comfortable and my son would be cold in the winter. I think sometimes people don’t have choices in these matters.

Choice, I have come to realise, is a luxury.

Bits and Bobs

I often think about politicians and how quickly they age when they arrive in ‘office’. Barack Obama became president with relatively little grey in his hair, and eight years later left looking grizzled, more wizened, but still dapper. Boris Johnson looked like a lopsided clown for most of his time as mayor of London, but you can distinctly see a hollowing around his eyes that was not there previously. A strange look. Age? Narrow escape from the clutches of Covid? New baby? Or just a side-effect of being the face of a nation? Something I think about. Can’t imagine why someone would want that job, but it’s a good job they do, else nobody would be in charge. Not sure how well they run the country but that’s another discussion entirely.

I have been spending too much time on social media again recently. It’s very bad for my brain. It also makes me irritated with humans in general. Like the people who message you demanding you follow so-and-so. No, Margaret. I will not follow ‘Fally’s Fashions’, a small boutique based in South Korea. I don’t live there, I will never visit the boutique, and it does not benefit me in any way. I don’t care if they’re ‘amazing’ and that they’re ‘really good friends’ of yours. It’s not like you’re asking me politely either. Gosh. Why were we friends in secondary school, again? Why are we friends on social media if we have drifted apart and never talk to each other? Back in the day when people drifted apart they did not have constant daily reminders of each others’ lives. I would never know Michelle had twins and is living it up in Australia, for example. Not sure why knowing this benefits me or her in any way. But I can’t unfollow because we used to go to school together and it’s … impolite.

See? What is online etiquette? She would never even notice if I unfollowed her. Or if she did, she would not care.. we NEVER talk! So weird.

I watched David Attenborough’s ‘Witness Statement’ that was recently released. It’s called ‘A Life on Our Planet’ and it basically shows how drastically the planet has changed in the 90 years that Sir Attenborough has been alive. Bloody hell. The timeframes they gave for the inevitable destruction of the earth based on the current trajectory (if we don’t do anything to stop and reverse climate change) is shocking. I found myself measuring it in my son’s lifetime instead of mine. It will be my child and his child who will feel the heaviest impacts of this. It’s so worrying. We can do so many things, but ultimately the hugest changes lie in the hands of the most powerful. And a lot of these powerful policy makers are big fat cheetoes who have lived over 70 years on earth and so won’t be around to see these horrific implications, and who also don’t believe in climate change. Bloody travesty is what it is.

August’s End

For the first time in ten years, I find myself wistful that the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder.

Winter beckons her long, pointed icy finger, and this time I am loathe to follow her down her icy path of starry skies and crisp, foggy moors.

I don’t know what it is. Is it the fact that social distancing has made me anxious to be indoors around other people? Is it the fact that long, bright, heady evenings are now gradually departing, leaving sudden darkness in their wake?

I don’t want to welcome winter. I want it to be summer all year around.