A Quiet Life

What’s a quiet life, to you?

If the first thought that sprung to your mind is … a comfortable retirement?

Comfortable retirement. Dancing in the living room. Through the dining room. Tap on the shoulder in the kitchen, lit only by a lamp and the shadows of the plants behind his back moving as they sway gently across the hall. Lines deepening on faces, death followed by new life. Leaves falling and blooming again. Piercing cries in the night, but this time they belong to the generation below their progeny so they sleep a little deeper. Urgency no longer beckons them in their dreams, it does not sit on their shoulders anymore and they do not hear it when they are in the shower. Piercing cries. Precious baby they can love without shackles.

What is a quiet life… to you?

Oh, you there. Yes you. I see it in your eyes.

Your quiet life is still. Even in the chaos there is a dark stillness that shrouds your heart as you wander slowly through a crowded hall with two beautiful loves clinging to your skirts, and you see those who are like you, but not like you, and you feel on the fringes again.

Urgency calls you.

It’s a silent kitchen is a quiet life.

Voiceless.

Echo.

Empty buildings, the sun setting and slanting through the dusty glass and the road outside is still, dry, dust pooling on the pavements because..

Nobody calls you.

You grow alone and you may die alone.

That’s a quiet life.

And there is frustration because you have always felt this deep chasm of loneliness. And you thought it would go away. In your teens you waited. In your twenties you yearned. And you approach 30 and it’s banging on your door this desolation and it won’t go away.

You tell yourself, your mother, your people.. you tell them you’re cosy in this cocoon of isolation.

But you aren’t.

You aren’t.

You worry this will seep through the invisible gossamer veil that hangs delicately between you and your children, you worry it will shroud them too like a clingy web that won’t go away.

You don’t want this sadness to be theirs. This loneliness to ache in their chest. Their precious hopeful faces.

You don’t want a quiet life for them.

So you aren’t. Cosy. Happy. Content.

What is your quiet life?

Liver Pâté

Are you a parent?

If you are, I think you can attest that one of the toughest, most worrying things as a parent is seeing your child ill.

My son has been so ill recently. He has caught one thing after another from nursery, and has developed huge dark circles under his eyes, and lost some weight. I can feel his little tiny bones through his skin, and he has lost that round chubbiness of toddlerhood.

It’s the most troubling thing and frankly I am just burdened by it.

Now of course we are having him checked up by doctors and whatnot, but I also sat down to research some ways to add nutrients into the body after bouts of illness and weightloss.

One of the biggest causes for dark circles around eyes is vitamin A deficiency. I have no proof (yet) that my son is deficient in vitamin A but it can’t harm to get some down him, can it?

Liver is apparently one of the biggest sources of vitamin A, so I sourced some liver from the local butcher.

I hated liver growing up. My father loves it, and the Moroccan way to cook it is to cut it into small pieces, fry it up with onions, garlic, coriander and a bit of cumin. Lots of seasoning, and the resulting liver in gravy concoction is eaten with some crusty bread. Freshly baked french loaf is the tastiest option, according to my family. I could never eat this food. The smell of liver alone put me off, and therefore eating it was simply impossible.

I am an adult now. And I know that liver is an excellent source of nutrients for my unwell child, so I looked up ways to cook it where it would not taste so… LIVERY.

One great way is making liver pâté! It’s liver cooked up with onions and garlic, some dijon mustard, balsmic vinegar, herbs and seasonings…. and a LOT of butter. You can spread it on toast or crackers and it’s just a really tasty savoury spread. So I made some tonight while my kids were in bed.

Let us see how well it goes down tomorrow, ey.

Image credit

The Nugget

PLEASE SHIP TO THE UK, my fingers screamed into my keyboard. Then I really thought about it and realised that no, I do not have £400 to spend on a sofa type thing that sounds like a mini chicken goujon. In addition, I do not have the space to house a sofa-type thing that kids can climb on. Maybe that is why they don’t sell the ‘Nugget’ in the UK, because houses here are so small that we cannot make room for children to play daring games on climbey things.

No we just make do with our own personal sofas, you know, the ones we sit on, for our children to make obstacle courses with and throw themselves off head first in their quests to understand what their little bodies can handle as they grow into human beings and parts of the society.

It doesn’t make any sense, you know, that houses here are so small. The weather is only nice for about 3 months out of twelve, and so the rest of the time most kids spend cooped up indoors because it’s either raining or just too darn cold to layer up in one million layers and slip and slide in the mud outside before coming home and doing a massive clean to remove all traces of the outside world from one’s teeny tiny living room.

BECAUSE HOUSES HERE ARE TINY, did I mention that?

So if we have to spend more time indoors, why not make houses bigger?

The thousand hours outside people will tell you that kids should be out in nature no matter the rain or snow or sleet or blizzard, and I would agree that it does wonders for the mood and the brain and for exploration and for living in general. However, I also still think houses here are too small, and that it’s tough work taking small kids outside in the mud and cold every single day. One gets frustrated with all the cleaning one has to do. Mud and wet grass are awfully messy and gunky things to have on one’s carpets and sofas and all up in the many crevices of baby fat folds.

All this to say, I really want a Nugget.

An expensive sofa type climbey thing that kids can use to jump on, climb over, make forts with and generally be creative. I think my kids would love it. They are ruining my nice sofas with their games and climbing and I think this would get them off my sofas in my teeny house and onto their own climbey things. I also want them to be able to climb and jump about without me feeling like I want to pull my teeth out in frustration. I also think they need to release energy indoors when it’s especially cold and I have no energy to let them roll around in icy mud or poke sticks in icy pools of puddles that are really overflowing drains at the local park.

I can’t justify a Nugget because we are now in a ‘cost of living crisis’, but I want one nevertheless.

I won’t get one.

But I want one.

And I am just putting this out into the ether, as the stars twinkle above me, as the wind roars in the trees, as the cold air drafting through the windows whispers of a tough winter to come.

Baby Bathwater

My two children have been insanely poorly this week. High temperatures, breaking 40C, coughing, lethargy, crying, aches and pains and multiple visits to the GP and also A&E. They’re both on antibiotics because their fevers just refused to budge after 5+ days, my daughter fell over and couldn’t stand on her left leg for abut two days…

Then our fridge stopped working.

Our car started making a funny noise and the mechanic said it was the exhaust pipe connector thingy and would cost about £1800 to fix… the car itself is only worth about £1000, if that.

So now we have no car, no fridge, two poorly children with no appetites, and just a general air of ‘What will happen next?!’

There is a saying isn’t there? Something about raining and pouring? It doesn’t rain, it pours?

All the bad things happen at once?

I heard a man say yesterday, ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ and it shivered me timbers, I tell you. What an awful saying. What, why would you throw the baby out with the bath water?

I have heard this saying multiple times and it’s so horrid, so I did some research and it means something like, don’t discard something valuable with the rubbish.

Just like that man who accidentally threw away his hard drive containing a tonne of bitcoin, estimated to be now worth 150 million pounds, so he has assembled a team of experts to excavate a landfill in order to find it. He certainly did throw the baby out with the bathwater.

But back to that, WHO came up with that saying? Had someone actually done that, so it became a bar by which to judge other similar and not so similar situations? Could we not say something else? Why must it be so horrific and morbid?

Those are my thoughts for today. Unfiltered, unedited, just posting because I need to say something, not that the void needs to hear another yammering voice.

We seem to have become a generation of all talk and no listening.

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 of Bloggery

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.

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?

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.

27.06.2021

I think early motherhood is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. Every single day is a battle I am fighting alone. It is a vastly lonely place. Time stretches endlessly yet snaps away in an instant. It’s exhausting, exhaustive, filled with guilt, self hatred and overwhelming love.

I feel like there is a huge lump in my throat and I need to cry and cry and cry but it is not high enough to spill out of me in tears.

I know I know I know this will pass and I will look back on it wistfully and sadly and nostalgically and perhaps… perhaps with heartbreak? I know this time will go and I will pine and yearn and ache for my precious babies as they are now. Thieves of my heart. Apples of both my eyes. Their names are scarred on my soul forever and my back breaks for them every single day. I ball up fury and resentment and frustration and it explodes in hugs and kisses and squeezes and promises and the occasional yell.

I am alone. I am lonely. I have no family nearby and barely any friends in the same boat as me.

We are all busy busy busy and people tell us to enjoy every single moment and we try we do we try we try try try but there is only so much you can give when you have nothing left inside.

I am a hollow shell of who I used to be. I laugh shrilly now. Anxiety lives in all my pores and breathes under my arms and heaves like a pit in the loose folds of the extra skin that has stretched and stretched and stretched over my stomach. Housing my two babies. Rent free but I paid dearly for it. A price I am not willing to accept has left my bank yet.

I think about everything all day. Everything everything everything. Things I have to do and haven’t done. I am not being a wife or a woman or a partner or a daughter or a sister. I have no time to be and no help to be but I am facing the consequences of not being those things.

I am lost lost lost lost dark drowned.

They all say every day, they all say over and over again. They say: This is hard. They say: You are not alone. They say: You’re a great mama. They say: This shall pass.

So I write a note to myself and put it on the fridge, because I am always opening that fridge. I write it with an old felt tip pen that is washing itself out.

I write:

When you are feeling overwhelmed and angry, remember this is just a moment out of many. Make it count.

So when they are old, older, oldest. When they are older and I have space to breathe and space to miss them and space for my heart to yearn for their small little faces. So when they are old I can have less things to regret and more to cherish.