On Reading and Narrating

I am reading a book now called Mrs Bridge.

It is written quite simply, with simple events and simple people. So far. Chapters are 3/4 of a page long, and deal with the simple people doing simple things. Except there appears to be an underlying shift under all the simplicity. A coiled snake, waiting to spring. It is a far cry from the previous book I was reading, in the manner of its writing. Less of the explosion, more mature. No feelings. Well, barely any. And always concealed under decorum.

You may be wondering how I am now managing to read whilst also navigating busy days with an ever-moving, ever-learning 6 month old (7 months on Sunday).

Well, I now read arduously during his ridiculously short naps. 40 minutes is all he has. I no longer rush about doing chores or beautifying myself. I am done with that. Chores accumulate the minute I have finished choring them, and I am just fat now. So until I lose this baby fat I really am not going to bother shoving myself uncomfortably into nice clothes and feeling depressed that they don’t fit me like they did pre-baby. I am just going to wear my leggings and my hoodies and feel comfortable, and lie on my sofa reading until the baby wakes up, when the cycle of shallow breaths (from me. Need to learn how to breathe deep more often) and nonstop exhaustion starts again.

How do people with more than one kid do it? Am I just so selfish?

I also strap baby in his pram, stick my headphones on and walk for two or three hours, listening to audiobooks. The weather is lovely for that now. It is September, and the August wasps are waning. There are so many Painted Ladies adorning flowers and fluttering here and there, landing on the top of the pram more than once. Blackberries drop lusciously from pregnant wild bushes, and their juice is just so sweet on the tongue. It is a lovely season, this season of late summer. Things are lush, there is no heavy sticky haze of heat, and the wind is fresh.

So I get my reading in, and the baby stares out at nature, smiles and gurgles at me, attempts to grab things, and eventually falls asleep, tired out by all the colour and stimulation.

And for me?

Well, it is a break from chores and baby entertainment.

We read so many books together everyday, sing songs, play games, and I try to talk to him as much as I can, narrating EVERYTHING. Right, i am putting your sock on. Oh stop wriggling your feet, naughty boy. That’s it. There. Both socks on. They had better stay on else you’ll get cold toes! Oh look it is raining outside. Shall we try to touch it. That’s it. No, don’t touch the muddy windowsill that Mummy hasn’t cleaned since before you were born (true story). Ok. Shall we read this book? No? You want to put it in your mouth. Alright. Can Mummy drink a cup of tea now? Look at this toy. How it rattles.

I am sick of my own damn voice I tell you. And sometimes I just want to be silent.

And I am quite isolated and know that lately, in society, a lot of new mums are, whereas they weren’t before. It is just how we live now. And I just can’t help thinking how bad that is for mental health, and how it might negatively impact the good I am trying to impart to my son.

 

Advertisements

Gladioli

Sometimes things look down, and then they look up again, and then minutes later they droop forlornly.

Much like old tulips left in a vase too long, the water around their stalks dried up and brown.

I planted some gladioli in my garden last year, and I did not take care of the plants during my pregnancy because I was just too ill and overwhelmed. Yet some gladioli still persevered despite the neglect. Two gladioli to be precise. I don’t know what colour they will be but they make me feel happy and also fill me with regret.

Happiness because some plants thrived, and I will have a little splash of colour in my garden.

Regret because I wish I’d planted more things this year.

However I know that babies are more important and there will soon be more chances to plant pretty things, perhaps even with little grubby chubby hands helping me!

So things look up, you see.

They do. The world carries on carrying on.

1017324

This is gladioli. Not my gladioli. 

Mother

The background music to my shower is that of a crying baby, and yet when I turn the faucet off, and stand dripping in the sudden ensuing silence, I hear no baby crying.

I tiptoe out and drip on the carpet, peering into the bedroom.. baby sound asleep on my bed, ne’er a stir.

Back to the shower it is. Rubbing shampoo through my sparse postpartum hair, trying my utmost to ignore the anguished imaginary cries of my baby.

I towel myself dry and watch that peaceful little face, large soft peachy cheeks, eyelashes gentle on the roundness below, small deep breaths under the covers, a contented little sigh.

My eyeballs are burning. I am beyond needing a nap. My body screams for a good weightlifting session at the gym. I flutter about the house on my toes, doing only chores that are silent. Brooming, mopping, dusting. No hoover. No dishes. Never boil a kettle. And set the washing machine to start when nap time is over.

If I am too tired to do that, I sit on the sofa and eat ice cream. Noodles. Doritos. And I watch reruns of Gilmore Girls. Not focusing on the story, really, just mindlessly staring into an abyss.

Daily things are done as and when I can manage them. I want to kiss my boy inside and out, but don’t know how to. I live for the little gurgling laughs and the huge shy smile and that soft little double chin. I knew I would love him but never realised how much it would hurt and what sort of worry it would cause.

I miss my mother. My mother in law doesn’t like it when I visit her. She gives me the silent treatment and yet acts normal when my husband is around. She complains to my husband that I am disrespectful and always act like I am itching to leave. She doesn’t let me leave. And when I try to she asks ‘why’. Even though I spent the entire weekend at her house, and only a few snatched hours with my mother. I am not allowed to stay the night with my mother else she gets very upset and her husband shouts at my husband and calls him names and stresses him out until he fights me to the death so I give in and stay in their horrid, horrid depressing house. My father in law wouldn’t have cared if his wife hadn’t pushed him to. He told my husband that she comes first before anything and he must never upset her.

I am shocked. I didn’t think she had it in her.

What about me and my sanity and my mental wellbeing?

I miss my mother so sorely and yet when I am with her I am stressed because I know I will be ‘in trouble’ when I go back to my husband.

This time is meant to be special, and I am making it so, I really am. I am treasuring my child so very much. I just wish family was easy also. I feel trapped, because I don’t actually have a choice. I feel anxious all the time and on the verge of tears.

My husband makes it very hard for me to see my family as he prioritises his mother, and causes trouble when she causes trouble. So I have to pick my battles, and that means much less time with my parents.

I miss them so much.

Having a baby makes you need and value your mother in a way you never did before.

When I am a mother in law, I honestly will ensure that I am not so selfish and insensitive to my daughter in law. People need their mothers, while they have them.

I NEED my mother.

Kindness

Today’s prompt word is kindness.

In my life I have not been very kind to those I love the most. I don’t know why I do that. It’s something I can’t control at the time and then regret immediately. I’m not unkind all the time but I do it a lot when I feel irritated.

At the same time, I’ve been told numerous times that I am a kind person. When people say that I feel like an imposter. As a child I was kind, I remember being so, but I also remember being distinctly unkind.

There are many quotes floating around about kindness. The general consensus seems to be that it is an attribute people should strive towards. An action to be carried out without the need for a reward – expecting a reward for an act of kindness makes the act unkind. Despite the fact that it’s still the same action being carried out.

People have been kind to me when I have least expected it. For example once my bike chain broke on the side of the road and there were a bunch of skinheads smoking by the verge. When they saw me battling with my chain they approached me and I panicked thinking oh no they are going to be racist or attack me – but no they asked if I was ‘alright love’ and they fixed my bike chain for me whilst making merry.

They didn’t expect anything in return because they sauntered off once I was back on wheels again.

Being kind makes you feel good inside. Having someone be kind to you makes you warm to them. Humans need kindness, it helps us thrive.

Bloom

BST. British Standard Time.

There is something about the word British that makes me feel proud, and at the same time irritated. If you were to look at me, you would not think I was British. Namely because I am not white of skin and fair of hair – or just fair, for that matter.

You would probably change your mind once I opened my mouth.

I used to tell my colleagues that I grew up in Dubai. They took that to mean that I was FROM there, and would say things like, ‘oh you learned English pretty quickly‘, and ‘your accent is quite good‘ and ‘you sound distinctly Southern – who was your teacher?‘.

Well my teacher was my mother. She was born in Tooting, London. I was born there too. We are British, albeit very multicultural, so not English, just British. My accent is British because my parents are British, so even though we lived in another country, they maintained their British culture and passed it on to us. They didn’t design to do this intentionally – it just came about.

Do I get offended when people say these things to me? I used to. I was a bit green. I used to get indignant. Hey, I’m British, this is my country too.

I don’t always feel like it’s my country, especially when people tell me to ‘go back home’. How can I? This is home. This is my mother’s home too. My mother’s parents came from two different countries and so did my father’s parents.

So if I were to go ‘home’ you’d have to dissect my body into a million pieces and divide my cells according to which country they originated.. that would be messy.

I bloomed though, with the knowledge that I came from everywhere and nowhere. It made me stronger. It made me prouder of my heritage.

Some days I feel fiercely British, and proud of my country and its people and it’s polite manners. Other days I feel ashamed of its history and the way it colonised the world. Some days I love its people for their exceptional Britishness, and other days I despise them for their entitlement.

But as I grow I realise something – and that is not everyone is perfect. Every nation, culture, race has its flaws and it’s positive attributes. There is good in everyone and everything, and there is also bad.

It’s important to value who you are and where you came from – to BLOOM into what makes you, YOU. Most of the time you are who you are because of your family, heritage and culture. This is why I choose to embrace the good parts of being British, and how they define me, so I can feel proud to be so. I can also feel proud to be all the other cultures that I am, and how these have impacted my ‘Britishness’, enhancing it and helping me to bloom in the process.

Which aspects of your culture do you like? What do you dislike?

Mundane

I don’t have very many friends. People I used to consider my closest friends have all moved on to greener pastures, making me feel as though my own is rather faded and yellow.

It is, though. It is true. I have a few very close friends but I rarely see them as I live far away from them and am now inundated with life.

I see other people have friends in their own vicinities and wonder at the fact that mine are spread all over the country.

I do know that it’s because of my life situation. Growing up I had friends a plenty because I went to school with the same people for 3 years, then three years, and then three years again. But when I was sixteen I moved back to the UK and that is where my friendships sort of withered away.

I guess I was very different from the people around me because I’d been brought up in a different country, so that sort of made me feel uncomfortable around them, and teenagers can sense this sort of stuff. I ended up being a loner in the library just munching on books. Figuratively speaking.

Looking back, I now realise that I was sad and did nothing about it. I was reserved and held back even though people invited me to places and offered to be my friend. I thought they were just being ‘nice’ not realising they genuinely meant it. That was pretty stupid of me.

I also got married at 19. I was pretty young I think and I don’t think it was a rash decision at all, but sometimes I do think perhaps I ought to have found myself first. I don’t regret it one bit – marriage is hard but we work on it and more often than not come out on top.

So I guess in my life I just was never in the right place or right head space to have a solid group of ‘friends’ like other people have – in the same town, meeting up whenever we like to.

I have to schedule meet-ups with friends months in advance and spend the rest of the relationship either on the phone or via text. It works, but it’s a bit sad.

So mostly, even though I worked a full time job and completed a degree in these past five years, I live a pretty mundane life. Which leads me to believe that my mind is pretty mundane and repetitive. I suppose that is not true, but one can’t help feeling like that sometimes.

You see, when you have friends who you see often and interact with, you sort of develop a repertoire of speech and nuances in your humour that you wouldn’t otherwise discover by yourself. I know this because every time I hang out with my friends I emerge a more energetic, witty and bubbly version of myself.

My mother in law told my mum once, ‘Oh, it’s like a ray of sunshine when Len comes into the house’. That was back in the day when me and my husband were ‘courting’. Now I am a sour puss. I am not saying this to blow my own trumpet – it’s just evidence to me that if I have friends and am surrounded by people, I am far nicer and more droll than when I spend hours and days alone. Words tumble from my mouth in such a smooth way it shocks me, whereas if I’ve been a lone, talking is a bit like chewing on lead.

Yes even at work I was alone – an editor sits at a computer most of the day and interacts minimally as editorial work is lonely work.

Anyway. That is what I have to say about the word ‘mundane’. That and also boy am I glad I am not at university anymore – some of those lectures were MUNDANE.

What does the word ‘mundane’ make you think of?

Myself

Hello. Yes it is me. Peering into the internet. I am sitting in bed with a baby snoozing in my arms as I type this. It has been some kind of day. He won’t seem to settle tonight unless he is being held but I don’t mind I don’t I don’t I never will mind because he will never be this little again and he is my big big blessing.

We did nothing today but are exhausted. But that is the reality of parenthood.

It’s been three months to the day since our lives changed completely, and as I was getting into the shower at 10:47pm I thought to myself – you know, self, your life is never going to go back to being like it was before. So stop thinking of that. Embrace this change and make the most of it.

So that is what I have decided to do. Babies are not a pause in life – rather an enrichment of it. See it’s taking me a while to get there but I am working on it.

See what I have to do is throw myself all the way in. Go all out. Dedicate my brain and time to learning and teaching and loving and nurturing. Not wishing for a holiday.

I love this boy more and more every single day it’s insane.

Like at the beginning I don’t think I bonded very well with him because of how traumatic the birth was – and because I was under general anaesthetic when they pulled him out of me via emergency c section – I didn’t witness his entrance into this world. They literally put him on me while I was woozy and drowsy from the operation and I tried to connect but all I wanted to do was sleep. So weird right?

But now I am in my right mind again – I think… i don’t know yet because back then I thought I was in my right mind but I very obviously was not…

anyway. Myself. That was the prompt for today. I must work on myself and not hang about the fringes of things if I want to give my boy a valuable childhood.

I want to give him the best in terms of mind enrichment and education. So that means I have to make sure I am educated and informed.

If you have had kids, how did you navigate being ‘yourself’ in order to nourish the brain of your child? Any tips would be so very welcome!

Sparkle

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my seventeenth post.

 

Hundreds and thousands,

Atop white icing,

Atop a cake,

On a plate,

Covered in foil.

Wrapped in a plastic bag,

Shoved

Mercilessly

At the bottom of my schoolbag.

For I was ashamed

Of the cake

My mother toiled all night to make,

for the school fair.

Don’t ask me why.

It was perfectly lovely,

Soft, yellow vanilla sponge

Simple, perfect flavours,

And the sparkly fun of hundreds and thousands decorating the top.

I just didn’t want to be

That GIRL.

WHAT girl, pray tell?

The one who carries a cake onto a bus where the boy she secretly crushes on sits coolly at the front, NOT carrying a cake.

Don’t ask me what nonsense goes on in the minds of twelve year olds.

When I got on the bus..

That boy was carrying a cake.

And most of the other kids

Had some kind of home-made concoction in their laps too.

I felt stupid

And sad.

For my cake,

On it’s plate

With white icing

And hundreds and thousands

Was a flattened, crushed mess.

And my heart, now, today, at 25

Wrings in sadness

At the thought of the love and care

That went into that cake,

As my mother,

toiled through the night

To see a sparkle

in her daughter’s eyes.

I love you mama.

 

cq5dam.thumbnail.400.400.png

black and white

15th post – playing catch up.

Black and white is actually a very exciting concept for me, full of opportunities. Something about staying within the constrains of such a vivid contrast of colour.

A black and white floor, a black and white house. Black and white. A chess board. Piano keys. A crossword puzzle, dice, some newspapers, footballs (soccer balls to you Americans out there!).

Penguins, zebras, pandas, orcas, skunks, Dalmatians, cows and ermines.

The possibilities are endless because when you mix different volumes of black and white paint together you get a multitude of greys. Dark white and light black.

Malory Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series is an interesting observation of the tumult within society when it comes to race, only in her universe the whites are the prosecuted ones and the blacks are living it up.

What about the colours in between? For example I am yellow – a mix of different races, not white nor black. Where do I fall in? To be honest I still feel ostracised in mostly-white towns. That’s England for you.

Again, not everything is black and white. Nothing is, in fact. Unless you’re thinking of penguins, but even penguins can be grey, have orangey beaks and feet and of course their insides would be red.

What comes to your mind when you think of black and white?

 

black-white-squares-i29106.jpg

Curtains

I had challenged myself to write a post everyday in May but the past three days had been disgusting in terms of exhaustion to be honest. I’ve walked and sang and read and taken my little all over this town in pursuit of rhymes and baby groups and sensory experiences, and by the time he was settled in bed for the night and I had had my dinner, I just crashed. Motherhood is hard, yet rewarding. He is at the age now (3 months on Sunday) where I feel like I am getting the hang of things finally and feel more in control! So here is my 14th post – playing catchup.

 

Curtains

Curtains literally mean pieces of cloth that humans put in front of their windows to stop the outside world from peering into the privacy of their homes. Especially at night when the lights are on and everything is laid bare.

However there is also a figurative meaning – to obscure. To curtain something is to cover it up. Like smoking weed for example.

Let me paint you a scene.

The sun is shining brightly down on a street in Crewe, England. A line of terraced houses mounted atop a pavement badly in need of renovation. I am walking along with my pram, when a door to my right bursts open and two young men fall out, pulling hoodies on and slinging backpacks on their backs. They look too benign to be louts, I have to say.

The taller one is fatter, and the shorter one thinner, and they both have long gleaming hair that they’ve pulled back into a bun halfway up their heads. One dark bun and one light bun.

And I noticed as they left the house one began to root in his backpack for something – aha, he pulled it out just as they walked swiftly past me, and as they did I caught a whiff of very strong weed, as the shorter of the two began to vigorously spray the deodorant spray he’d pulled out all over his person, until he was covered in a halo of white that quirky effervesced in the sunlight. He handed the can to his mate, who also proceeded to cover himself in the cheap smelling stuff, and as their long legs pulled them further away from me, they left a trail of deodorant and weed in their wake.

I couldn’t help thinking how stupid they were. To curtain the scent of weed like that right in public. Why not do it behind their curtains?

For information purposes, weed is illegal here in the UK, hence I assume that was why they were trying to mask the scent!

What things do you do to curtain aspects of your life that you don’t want others to know about? And do you reckon you do a good job of it?

Unknown.jpg