that evasive slumber

Do you ever overeat when you’re tired? I do. Both my children were up all night last night and as a consequence I have eaten my bodyweight’s worth in snacks today without even realising.

When I finally collapsed in bed at 2am last ‘night’, I shut my eyes and succumbed to slumber. It was the most glorious feeling. Then that familiar cry. Only at night it’s twenty thousand times more irritating and has that unique power to make you feel furious.

But you fight it. For that precious sweet face. You scoop the chubby bundle of baby up and bring them into your own bed.

Then the pattering feet, and the croaky child voice, ‘Mama, mama, I’m scared.’

So you haul the other one into your bed too.

And try to succumb again to that glorious sleep. It’s there alright. Tantalising. Close. You feel it.

But your kids have other ideas. One of them is attempting to crawl in the bed because it is her newly found skill and she loves to do it. She is laughing as she tries to get her chubby legs up, chaos in the covers, pitch black room. And then the almost-3-year old is awake. Banging his feet on the headboard. Asking me to open my eyes. Telling me stories. Chatting to his baby sister, who chats right back.

All through the night.

All through till morning.

And they do not tire. No siree. They hanker for breakfast and are little spitfires ready and gearing for their day of action. Playing, fighting, giggling, pulling things out of cupboards, sticking play dough in corners and smushing it into rugs, snotty noses from leftover colds.

I wish today I could say ‘Ahhhh it’s all so precious and worth it.’

Y’all.

I KNOW it is.

But I don’t feel it today.

I feel angry. Tired. Frustrated. Guilty. Bloated from all the sweet chilli thai rice crackers I have been eating to keep my bleary eyes awake. And the countless mugs of coffee I have downed today. That massive hot chocolate I had for lunch. My oh my. I fell asleep trying to put them to bed at 7:30pm BECAUSE HELLO, SHOULDN’T THEY BE TIRED AFTER THEIR NIGHT OF PARTYING?

No.

No they are not.

8:30pm came and went and it crept to 9… still wide and happily awake.

Bloody hell.

Some days parenting is a ride.

Today is that day.

Today I am bedraggled, a mess, and totally lost. I sit here writing this when I am supposed to be working but I am so tired from my sleepless night and my full-on day that I want to go to bed. But I am also terrified to go to bed because I know as soon as I give in to the glorious sleep that is beckoning to me.. I will be rudely yanked away again.

I know it.

News From Sebastapol. Charles West Cope (1811-1896). Oil On Canvas, 1875.

P.S. Look, I only write this to document. Not to complain. I love my babies with every fibre of my being. I would wrestle sleep to the ground if I thought their lives and health were in danger. I know one day I will sleep and sleep and sleep because they will be grown and off living their own lives and I will be sad and miss them. I KNOW this. However, I also know that in the moment, sometimes, it all gets a bit too much. You can feel frustrated and angry. You will also feel guilty for feeling frustrated and angry. Being a mother is so insane. It’s so mad. It’s so crazy. It’s so surreal and unbelievable and unfair and beautiful. You can’t hold it in your hands. You can’t catch the fleeting time, and yet you wish it all away. You can’t get enough, and you have way too much.

8 Years

I have been a WordPress blogger for 8 years.

My favourite thing about blogging here is the lovely community. This here is a space on the internet where people are more civil towards each other, and there is something to be said about writing from the heart.

I don’t know what is to be said about it though because I am an overwhelmed mother of two little children, with a full time job and a never ending to-do list. When I have time to think I may reflect on it properly. Maybe tonight. Maybe next week. Maybe in ten years.

For now, though, the sun is shining and even though Jack Frost has been to visit, I think I will utilise my morning and take my children to taste some vitamin D before the manic panic hours of work take over.

Eight years. Jeez.

Slow Down

I watched a Youtube video on 15 minute dinners. Ways to cook dinner quick. Mad rush in the evenings to fit an entire life in. A life put on hold because of working during the daylight hours. Quick, quick, make dinner. Eat it. Hurry. So you can put the kids to bed. Or relax. Or do anything but cook and eat.

Some folks like to take their sweet time whilst cooking. Slowly chop and onion. Feel the satisfaction of a sharp knife sliding through the crisp layers. The gentle sizzle of cut onions in a pan. The creaminess of sauce coating spaghetti.

Why is it always a mad rush?

Where is intentionality in living?

Why does life feels like a horrible race?

Even when not racing?

I bought a really lovely book called ‘Slow Down’. It’s full of little stories. The story of a snail making silvery trails across the garden. The story of a bee collecting nectar from dahlias, and pollinating an entire garden as it buzzes about drinking from it’s straw-like tongue.

Gorgeous little illustrations.

My son and I pored over the book today.

He is ‘scared of the big snail’.

You see, we were collecting snails in the garden yesterday. Well, no. I was weeding a border and I kept pulling snails out with the weeds so I lined them up for my toddler to collect. The snails were small and green, and fit nicely in the palm of his hand. I pulled out a larger brown snail, and he gazed at it in wonder. I watched his eyes flit from his line of little green snails, to the big brown one. Light up. Make to go put it at the front of his little snail army… but just then the snail decided to peek out and see what was going on. Two tentacles for eyes grew out of the shell and my son threw the snail in horror.

‘Don’t like that one, mama. Put it away.’

‘Okay lil chap. I’ll put it away’

So I tucked it away in the weeds again.

That night he kept waking up and saying he was scared of the big snail.

And the next morning as I was leafing through my ‘Slow Down’ book, he noticed the page on the snail and he was fascinated by it. We looked over every inch of that page. Every illustration. The snails looked exactly like the big scary snail we found in the garden, so we talked about that too. We talked about how it leaves a trail, and how it comes out when it rains and hides away when it’s sunny.

We ‘slowed down’.

And I just thought that was meaningful in some way, but don’t quite know how yet. I feel like I want to slow down more often.

Slow down in the kitchen.

Wash the dishes and enjoy it, maybe. Allow little hands to help me hang out laundry. Make a fifteen minute dinner, but observe my pasta. Relish in the gentle simmer of a tomato sauce. Ladle some soup into a bowl. Nice and clean ceramic, smooth hot liquid. Brush hair softly. Feel the locks in my fingers.

Why rush the kids to bed.

Go upstairs slowly. Listen to my boy telling me stories. Even ones where he says he wants to squish all the woodlice. Listen. Breathe.

Scribble Hair

Oppressively humid in the UK today.

My hair does this weird thing when it’s hot and humid. It gets all wiry, the curls separate into single strands of mess and stick up. It’s really weird. It’s like a cloud of scribbles over my head. It’s NOT pretty or aesthetically pleasing.

It’s actually pretty vomit inducing. It reminds me of being in Malaysia when I was 14 weeks pregnant with my first boy, and my hair did that thing and it was NOT CUTE. My legs were really weird and pale and skinny too as I had lost 8kg in three months due to morning sickness. My tummy was weird and floopy and I had a bump but it looked like I was just fat? And my God I felt so sick! The heat made me sick, the smell of mcdonalds and burger king (both places right under our hotel windows blargh!) was oppressively nasty. Coffee made me ill.

All I craved was Pho!

We had booked to go to Malaysia on these really cheap flights several months before I found out I was pregnant. So when I started feeling poorly in the mornings before work and needing to lie in rather than go to my gym class before work I began to get suspicious. Also my coffee tasted weird. Like old stale biscuits?

We were not PLANNING for a baby. We were ‘not planning but if it happens ok then’.

So anyway I drove to work and bought a pregnancy test from the pharmacy on my lunch break and took it home and waited till after dinner and then I went and peed on the stick and waited and then I checked it and began to cry.

‘What?! What’s wrong!?!?’ my husband rushed into the bathroom and saw me holding the test and his eyes widened and I held it out to him and he said, ‘Are you pregnant?’

And I said, ‘Ye-eess. But I REALLY wanted to go to Malaysia!’ and it came out as a wail.

How dumb of me to think a pregnant woman couldn’t go to Malaysia! Anyway I won’t tell my son that was my first thought when I found out I was pregnant with him.

I wanted to wear a bikini and look all nice and whatnot and of course you can do that when you’re pregnant but it’s different isn’t it. I didn’t have the confidence to deal with my body changes to be honest.

And my hair did that weird scribble thing and oh it was a pain in the bum. I ended up keeping it tied up and wearing baggy stuff because man oh man my body was bumming me out. I read ‘Nutshell’ by Ian McEwan and man oh man that was a weird book that was a slog to finish.

Anyway.

It’s hot and humid in the UK and I never want to be pregnant ever again.

Image Credit

In Time

I am very fat these days but like to think I am a soft cushion for my babies. None of those waist training things. I am also in the stage of life where I have no time for what my generation like to call ‘self care’.

Now if I were from another era, I would be going to the salon weekly to do my hair. I would have a manicure and a pedicure, and leave my children with the nanny. Maybe. Or family. If they lived closer. I would spend time on my wardrobe and have a select number of outfits which complement my hair and handbags. And shoes.

I would have all the time in the world to figure out how to wash the clothes properly in the machine so they don’t lose their softness and don’t develop nasty little balls on them. Or feel stiff when they should be slinky.

I would figure out how to utilise vinegar and soda crystals to ensure my oven was sparking, my sink smelled fresh and my washing machine was a happy little Larry.

As it stands, I find myself in a constant state of disrepair. I look like I have been dragged through a bush by my toes. My hair is a mess, my feet are so embarrassingly rough, my hands look dry and rough and …. not feminine and soft. My fingertips are all peeling. My nails are jagged and weird. My laundry gets done but always comes out wrong, even though I research the right way to do things. Sometimes they get left in the machine overnight because I am too exhausted to remember to hang them out and my husband is…. a forgetful annoying person.

No sooner do I clean than things get messy again.

And daily

Daily..

DAILY…

I find myself musing on the precious thing we call time.

Time and hours.

If I spend time working out I have to then spend time showering. If I want to look good I have to spend time doing things to my hair and skin and selecting a nice outfit and making sure my eyebrows are trimmed and my feet aren’t rough. All that takes time. Hours.

I also have to have my babies in clean nappies, clean outfits, and have them have a good sense of hygiene. That means hair and teeth brushed, nails clipped, feet clean, socks on, and all that shabang.

iI have to educate them and talk to them and read to them and teach them good life hacks and how to be healthy members of society. I have to take them out and expose them to things and give them experiences.

They must also be fed and not packet food. Broths and vegetables and wholesome grains. THAT TAKES TIME. I can no longer shove any old thing in the oven. I do that sometimes but I do feel guilty because I KNOW what is good for their growth.

So what is a priority?

I also have work to do and research for a literature review. I have to put in hours after the kids are asleep, and the house also needs cleaning? Mopping? Dusting? Fridge cleaned? Oven cleaned?

You see what i mean?

You can’t have a spick and span house, a well-groomed good looking persona, healthy, happy, clean kids and a steady job and good education all in one go.

Lord knows I try every single goddamn day.

THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH HOURS IN THE DAY.

So I end up wearing the same uniform daily. T shirt, shorts, slippers. Hair back in a bun. Time for perfume? Maybe. Always a sports bra. I end up prioritising dressing my kids over myself. Feeding them healthy foods over myself. Educating them and taking them to places. Drinking coffee and coffee and coffee. Strong and black and in a huge mug. Only hygiene is brushing teeth and MAYBE hair. Washing face. Quick shower after they sleep. No creams anymore. No makeup anymore. No nice shoes and cute dresses.

I wish I could look like those mums. YOU know those mums? With the nice outfits and matchy matchy with their little girls. But I really don’t know how they do it? I wake up groggy and feeling like I haven’t slept enough (spoiler alert: I have not). I have to sort the babies out and feed them asap because if I don’t… they suffer and show me. Can’t put mascara on while they wail at me for their porridge.

I don’t know why I write this.

It’s just a reflection I guess.

Just some thoughts I am having about time and what to do with it.

Like right now I could be at the gym right? It’s 8:45pm and my babies have gone to sleep.

But here I sit writing this.

Priorities, ey?

You’re Horrible

‘You’re horrible,’ he said to me, leaning back on the sofa. I sat hunched on the table, angrily tapping on my laptop keys, fury racing towards him like daggers from my side eyeing.

‘No, you are.’

‘I haven’t seen you all day and all you do is be mean to me.’

‘Well I have been taking care of two babies all day and was so looking forward to going to the gym for an hour, MY TIME, but you choose to come home half an hour before it closes!’

‘So?’

‘SO, I am left rushing there, banging out a poor workout, and rushing back.’

‘Ok, at least you worked out?’

‘NO.’

‘Mean.’

‘Not mean. I wanted to take my time, walk there all psyched to go. I wanted to lift my weights slowly and with focus. I wanted to do some stair stepping and sweat to some tunes. But all I got to do was race there, dash in, quickly rush through my weight lifting routine, and rush out.’

‘Hmmph.’

‘And the music had stopped, the gym guy was waiting by the door, tapping on his phone, keys jangling.’

‘…’

‘And I rushed out, raced across the car park in the pitch black, jumped in, locked the doors sharpish and looked into my backseat.’

‘Why the backseat?’

‘Well you know in one of the X-Files episodes where that creepy guy with honey eyes – the one who eats people’s livers every thirty years – anyway, that guy was in the backseat when Mulder gets in his car.’

‘O…. kay?’

‘And I watched that as a child and it so terrified me that every time I get into a car, I have to look into the backseat to make sure nobody is waiting there to pounce on me.’

‘Alright, weirdo.’

‘Anyway and then I rush home. And there is mess everywhere. I was with the kids all day, bathed them alone, put them to bed alone, and I was hoping you would at least clear up the dinner things and tidy up, but it’s a pigsty. Literally. There’s dried baby food on the table.’

‘I’ve been at work all day.’

‘So have I?’

‘What, you were at home!’

And folks, I took my laptop upstairs, and here I sit, steam shooting out my ears.

Is this for real?

Wonders

I’ve said this before, but I am addicted to Instagram.

I’ve gone on instagram ‘cleanses’ before.

Once for a month. Once for a week. Once for three months.

I always end up going back, though. There’s something about it. Mindless scrolling. Satisfaction… for what? I don’t post anything and I don’t get high off ‘likes’ (because there are no ‘likes’ because I am not posting anything!). I like to see the pages I follow for ‘inspiration’.

Homeschooling ideas, activities for my kids, cleaning inspiration, workout inspiration.

The thing is, though, the people who make this content also post a lot about their personal lives, so you’re subjected to that too.

And it’s just so much of it, so monotonous, so tedious.

Yet I still scroll.

There is a science behind it, why you keep scrolling even though you don’t want to. They’ve researched it thoroughly and have programmed their apps to hit your dopamine right on target.

So anyway. I deleted instagram again for a month, ending 25th August. During that time I read three books, bought and made a start on a planner (very colourful and I thoroughly enjoyed decorating it with stickers and whatnot), went out a lot with my babies, hosted family over for three weeks…

Not to say I wouldn’t have done those things if I had instagram on my phone readily available to me.. I WOULD have still hosted and gone out and read things…

I don’t really know how to describe it to you.

There is a word in arabic and it’s ‘ikti’aab’. It literally means depression. But in your bones. Deep exhaustion.

Not tired.

It’s like the monochrome videos everybody makes now. They’re all doing something with their fists, some kind of weird dance, and words pop up on the screen as they fist pump and wriggle around like worms on camera. It’s the same thing, just done by different people. Eagerly eyeing the like button. Faces filtered beyond recognition.

It felt weird opening instagram again after this hiatus.

It felt like peering into a world of narcissistic aliens, and they all harp on about not being narcissistic and being ‘real’ but their ‘real’ footage is scripted, because they look so perfect and are angling their cameras just so… just so their boobs are looking their best… just so their hair is at the perfect angle… just so their faces are tilted just right….

Being raw and vulnerable …

All the comments… ‘you’re so brave! you’re so strong! you’re so raw! omg!’

And I look out of that fakery into my reality and realise with a painful thump that this curated world I am peering into is an illusion.

I still feel shitty about myself though. My parenting. My ability to school my kids. What I feed them. What they wear. How our house looks.

And so. One of these days. I am deleting social media for good.

What I Want

As each day passes,

I realise

With starker clarity

That I don’t have to feel lonely

Or adhere to people’s expectations of me.

I don’t have to cook fancy meals when family come to visit

Even when I don’t want to

I don’t have to pretend to feel stressed over the things my husband stresses about, to show solidarity.

I don’t have to smile when somebody insults me, to keep the family peace.

I don’t have to drive to visit my in-laws, just because they think I should.

I can get up with my kids and go anywhere and do anything.

I don’t have to feel like a failure for not meeting the expectations other people have of me.

I can

Just

Do

What

the

DICKENS

I

want.

So today, in the pouring rain, I am going to blast some tunes in the car, pop my kids in their waterproofs, and go to a woodland garden. We are going to get very wet. We will look at stones and jump in all the puddles. I will get the biggest coffee with the largest dollop of whipped cream, bank account be damned. Thighs be damned too.

It’s not a failure to not adhere to a routine.

Sweet, sad sixteen

Today I found an old diary from when I was sixteen years old. That was eleven years ago.

Colour leapt out at me from the crackly lined pages of the cheap poundland A5 book. Band names, song lyrics, addresses and phone numbers. Random phrases, supposedly ‘cool’ taglines, self-depreciating paragraphs… and underneath it all a desperate and futile attempt to make sense of who I was.

‘Oh to be sixteen again,’ I thought with a sigh. I thought of my six month old fat cherub and my two year old little terror with a heart of gold and my mundane days and my anxieties and my adult worries and my tedious conversations about paint and toddler beds and sippy-cups..

And life leapt out at me from those pages.

Hope and elation and soaring optimism. I thought there was a road ahead of me and I was giddy because I did not know where it lead and I was full of beans because I did not have a c section scar and loose skin from insane pregnancy weight gain…

I remember running running running as fast as I could down a deserted street in the pouring rain and feeling as though there were wings on my converse shoes. You know the ones? Converse All Star? They were the rage among my group of peers when I was sixteen. I flew down that road. I sailed and my mind was above the clouds and my heart was … safe and mine.

Ohhhhh to be sixteeeeen.

But then I thought more about that. I thought about the vulnerability, the depression, the uncertainty. I thought about being a misfit and uncomfortable in my own skin and feeling ugly and like a failure and having no purpose. I thought about thinking certain people were God’s gift and feeling the desperate need to be liked by anybody.. so desperate that I would sometimes do and say stupid stupid things.

Oh I sure am glad I am twenty seven and not sixteen. I am glad I am on the nerve wracking train that is new parenthood. I am glad I am rediscovering myself again and gaining a confidence I wouldn’t have dreamt I could have at sixteen!

Do you miss being sixteen?

Image Credit

Are We Old?

I can’t believe COVID has been with us for one year and five months. Well before that, but we really felt the impact in the UK since March 2020.

Wasn’t 2020 such a strange year?

Isn’t this time of our generation an odd one?

We are fully immersed in the age of oversharing. ‘Old people’ now use Facebook and the young’uns are speeding along elsewhere. TikTok? Something else? Who knows? I and my fellow ‘old people’ from the late 1900s flip flop between wanting to use social media a LOT and wanting to delete it entirely out of our lives as we reminisce childhood experiences of sailing on bikes through neighbourhood streets and exploring abandoned buildings and experiencing freedom as it’s only truly felt when you are a child and there are no adults around and the world feels like your… oyster…

within a certain adult-set boundary, of course.

I often see young girls dancing weirdly to trees or walls and as I walk closer I notice a little rectangular box gleaming blue and recording them. Ah, I say, a TikToker. And i walk on my merry way.

With my two babies.

Who will grow up in this new and strange world.

This world that is only getting newer and stranger.

Are we all getting fake? Too snowflakey? Can’t say anything these days because it is not the correct thing to say? Becoming better as a collective? Or worse, because the young’uns are now responding with fire and fury whenever anybody dares to use an incorrect pronoun… by accident… or on purpose?

A really interesting point made by a YouTuber recently was this: The youth of today (and by that I mean the children who were born during the age of the internet and have grown up on it) seem to have grown up in an era where everything is shared online. Every little opinion, thought, and musing. They seem to only know how to argue with people they have never met about things they disagree with. They haven’t experienced a time where people could have differing opinions and still get along. Now it seems to be ‘either you agree with me or you’re an evil person’ – no in-between.

I see that a lot nowadays too.

I really don’t know.

In the olden days we used to have our opinions and some were really nasty and some were really nice but these never really clashed because the opinions stayed in the neighbourhood. I guess now they are all sailing on the electronic waves of the internet and all and sundry can access them.

Well.

What do you think?