Tag Archives: depression

Snails, slippers and impromptu haircuts

Even grey mornings have their special charm when seen through the eyes of a three-year old with new wellies. Mab bless her for keeping the cheeriness quota up in the house.

The weather this year seems to have prompted a snail and slug population boom. Luckily my total lack of garden lovin’ ensures there is plenty of weedy greenery to go round.

This pleases Ida immensely and her garden investigating in between showers involves collecting the various hues and sizes of shelled molluscs. That and woodlouse herding, marigold petal picking and making secret paths in the grass which is nearly as high as her.

Other news from this place here include the successful antibiotic choice to see off the infection in my less bad hip (in that there’s still a socket) AND cortisone injections – very successful and welcome. Whoo hoo.

My mood is taking a while to bounce back up. I’m biding my time as experience tells me it’ll eventually get back on board. Until then my world has shrunk to the bare basics. I’m still spotting BT’s but the whole system feels a bit forced and creaky… still in action though.

Fathers day was  happy, Steve worked but opened cards and presents before he left and came home to a feast of jerk chicken, plantains, dirty rice, festivals and mango salsa.

It’s a pleasure cooking with Zeph now – he’s a genuine help, in fact he made the festivals and the mango salsa completely solo. Ida watches, stirs and chops herbs and a mushroom which didn’t really get used but occupied her for at least 30 mins. All we need now is a bigger kitchen…

We had a pleasurable couple of afternoons beforehand painting cards and sewing slippers; 

 

We bought the plain cheap slippers and decorated them ourselves with various beloved mini beasts including, of course:

Yesterday I did a hack job on my hair. Never a good idea – I just got incredibly cross when brushing out the dreadlocky knots I’d let build up and cut off my pony tail with the sewing scissors. Luckily Ida was elsewhere as this is NOT an example I should set her as I’m constantly finding little golden locks where she’s been unable to resist the swishing sounds she loves so much.

I did neaten it up but judging from the hair on the floor I reckon I cut off about two-thirds of the length and did anyone (including my nearest and dearest) notice?

Did they bleeding heck. Which leads me to conclude that no-one sees me.

Of course it could be because I mostly wear it scraped back and twisted up so no bugger has any idea what it looks like down anyway.

I suppose I should just be glad we don’t have any clippers in the house as it could have been so much worse.

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Hot Spell

The last few nights have been just too hot to bear. My fine figure is far more suited to Inuit nights, I absolutely blubberly-rock cold weather but am disadvantaged in balmier climes.

The children are both the same. I try to soothe them to sleep with tepid baths, open windows and a pj and bedclothes ban which usually gets broken due to the fact they NEED some kind of covering to clutch as they drift off.

 Checking on them in the early hours I peel sheets away and smooth sweaty curls off their faces.

Sometime in the  grey hours there’s a changing tide as night seeps away with the wash of the new-day coolness creeping welcome fingers through the mostly sleeping house. It barely registers in my restless fever-troubled dozing. About now my night-time painkiller is wearing off and I’m waiting for the mornings welcome fix. Stupid fluid on crumbling near non-existent hip-joint . Foul misbegotten infection. Unwelcome prickly hot fever.

Lying on threadbare sheets, every worn spring sticking into me, I hover just outside proper rest. Tiredness and misery stain my thoughts. I resent the heat and flinch if anyone tries to touch me. The idea of a shower makes me actually dry retch. I want to no-go zone every inch of my skin.

I lie listening to everyone else even breathing and the whirr of one solitary fan stirring the treacly hot air around. Mentally I run through the tenets of pain clinic. The need to own and control my pain. The fact that my own experience has taught me this is true doesn’t help in these spare stranded hours. Recently all our lives are tainted with my salty sweaty scent of self-pity  and general all over misery. We’re all waiting for the tide to turn.

Days narrow down to basic goals. Clothes on, food of some kind provided, one child got school and collected, other child nursemaided by Cbeebies, buckets of water and hulahoops. Coaxed into considering a pile of leaflets to be cut into ribbons with the fascinating usually out-of-bounds orange scissors a worthy afternoons occupation. What feels like never-ending hospital trips chasing the seemingly holy grail goal of pinpointing the correct antibiotic cure for my own filthy internal plague. Petri dishes seeded from the mysterious putrid fluid drawn from my very bones offer up grown auguries of success.

I have grown to mistrust them.

Everything seems worse in the night. While my toes dip in the sea of sleep the pain balloons and swells unreasonably. Irrationally I doubt my ability to last til morning, I dread the next day packed full of small failures, I weep about my loss of humour and ability to celebrate the small things. Bitterly I resent all the sleeping going on around me and the card dealing performance of fate.

I’m chasing something in my troubled half dreams. Vaguely I think it’s a cure or an AI disguised as a steer in some grotesque urban forest. The pain in my pelvis is because I’ve been pierced with a poisoned arrow. Defeated I lie down on some broken glass and wait.

Slowly I can feel some warmth seeping through from behind me. Somehow I’ve become cold and bask in the slow flush of heat as comforting and calming. There’s a goddess behind me casting a healing scorching spell. I stretch my toes and snuggle into the glow. Without noticing I drift deeper into sleep, taking a millisecond to register the spell as a possible threshold for change. We’re on the up I mentally murmur as I dive deeper.

When I wake up there’s a small naked person wrapped over my back. She’s all tangled hair and pouting lips. Smooth golden limbs speckled with summer bruises and scrapes are draped over me and she radiates heat like a small serene sunshine-gilded buddha.

Who knows? Maybe she is a spellcaster. I certainly noticed a very beautiful thing immediately without the aid of drugs. Goddess knows I yearn for a bit of everyday magic why not lean on a bit of placebo faith healing?

Drops in the desert and depression awareness week *waves pom-poms*

I really, really must break my blogging drought.

I’d like to break it with something pithy, witty or maybe a useful tute or recipe.

I fear this is unlikely…

I would like to share this link the wonderful Rachel from Growing Things and Making Things left in a comment. I genuinely think watching Henri has got me through recently – I regard it as medicinal. We’ve all started soundtracking any gloomy moments, I caught Zeph doing it while regarding his toothbrush this morning. Brilliant.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q34z5dCmC4M

It was  a brilliant week away – new foods were tried, museums and galleries visited. Plenty of bus and tube travel racked up – a fair amount of mooching. Nitro ice-cream was eaten. Zeph and I saw this;

http://www.auroraorchestra.com/event/peter-and-the-wolf-live-2/

Steve, J and Ida got to hang around on the Southbank in the rain waiting for us. Ida and Zeph threw tantrums. Ida sat down a lot.

I had some amazing cakes made for my birthday;

Lemon,strawberry and peppermint. Together – fantabulous. Honestly – you’re going to hear Heston chatting about them pretty soon I think…

In other news – did you know it’s depression week? – well more accurately, depression awareness week. For once I’m way ahead of the game. In case you’re not and you’d like to be more so this is a great link:

http://www.depressionalliance.org/

Depression touches all of us, I mean – you know more than five people right? – it is serious yet not the end of the world. There is help if you need it, as usual there could be more. Worst of all is the shame associated with all mental illness.

Speaking out and sharing is what scares the shame spectre away.

I live with depression, I suspect I will all my life. I am capable, strong and resourceful, my life has moments of immense joy and frequent flashes of happiness which I treasure.

I medicate and apply structures and routines that help me. I am grateful to still have my life, I value it. Depression is one part of me, it is not all that I am but I see no reason to be ashamed of it or hide that aspect of me.

The garden is looking beautiful, lots of fresh green and blossom. The showers mean everything is gleaming. The clematis that has clambered up the eucalyptus is turning its palest pink flowers to face the brief shards of sunshine. It twines serenely through the wind thrashed branches. My washed out bunting flaps wildly, we’re all waiting for sunnier days.

I’m sure they’ll be here soon.

 

 

End of term and a pep talk

Easter is nearly upon us, how the hell did that come round so quickly?

Today is the last day of term which means a 2pm pick up. Now I have never actually forgotten to pick him up. Although I’ve had a couple of oh christ – I nearly forgot – quick!  out the door and run moments. For some reason these memories make me jumpy and I keep checking my watch and skipping from task to task making more muddles.

This morning we watched the screening of the Bollywood film Zeph and his year group have been working on all term. All their teachers had dressed up, they had chairs set out like a cinema and cups of popcorn. At the end they gave out Oscars. It was not without technical hitches but loud, exciting and joyful. Exactly how I think school should be. I came away hugely cheered and Ida hopped and jigged all the way home.

She can’t wait to go to school and I have to retrieve her from the going in line in the mornings. Very different to my school experience and long may it last.

Unsurprisingly the morning back here has been a bit flat – especially since I’ve tried to impose a little order. Not something you would glean from a quick glance. I’ve been reading a friends flylady progress and feeling the need to return to some of those structures. I’ve talked about my attitude to chores and tidying many times before and without being picky I can see the need for a bit of decluttering and imposing some system scaffolds in my jumbled corners.

I need to stop procrastinating and start a bit of doing. I managed to pull my arm out of its socket recently so am waiting for a bit of healing and keep telling myself that after that I’m going to GET DOWN TO IT!

Steve’s got some time off over easter so you’d think it’d be the perfect time but it’s so tempting to play hooky. We’re going to see a friend as well and do some big city stuff and that’s all MUCH more appealing. Although I know some DIYing and order solutions would have a much bigger day-to-day impact on my life.

It’s too easy to let the small inner voice tell you you’re lazy. Often I feel like an observer in my life instead of actually inhabiting my body. In these gray leaden days I anchor myself with the children. Playing, reading to them, cuddling in bed – singing songs and idly spinning stories. Everything else loses focus and importance.

As I feel less miserable and more hopeful I think I’m too quick to write all that stuff off. It seems like time-wasting when I could have done work that left a physical mark. Finally feeling clear-sighted enough to look around at what needs doing – it’s far too easy to slip back into the habit of castigating myself for doing nothing.

Bolstered my Rachel (my therapist and she has a certificate so is surely worth listening to?) I decide to be a bit kinder to myself.

Getting through the days is hard work. Remaining emotionally connected is hard work. Well done Laura, bloody well done to all of us who get to school, cook tea, do bathtime and bedtime or even leave the house whilst wrapped in a soul numbing blanket of misery. Fecking brilliant people who manage everyday fighting a rushing tide of physical pain. Two fingers up to anyone who thinks you haven’t accomplished much in your day. You’re still breathing at the end of the day aren’t you? Then it’s a SUCCESS. Whoop whoop and maracas, flash of gold and a big flourish. Well done all of us broken vessels.

Just the easy stuff to do now.

This and that.

So Mothers day has come and gone. It’s pretty low-key in this house but very happy and loving which is just the way I prefer it.

I had two mysterious homemade cards – Ida’s was full of her impenetrable writing which she importantly read out to me sitting on my chest at about 7am. It was full of have a loverleee day and I love my mumma but also a short discourse on woodlice and sausages. Zeph’s was in the shape of a butterfly, (that’s passed through a jet engine,) and although easier to read seemed to be congratulating me on having a son like Zeph. His logic had led him to the conclusion since his arrival had made me a mother it was in fact him who deserved recognition and thanks.

I genuinely fear for him, as a political career seems more and more likely.

I also got a pile of books and an opportunity to read some as all meal responsibility was removed from me for the day…(leftovers for lunch and a takeaway for tea – excellent kitchen action guys.)

During the course of a standard chaotic and haphazard sunday several things drifted through my mind, hasn’t the commercial emphasis on the day stepped up over recent years? Surely it puts lots of extra pressure on children missing a mum in their family set up and everyone who’s lost their mum – and all the mums mourning a child and the many women desperately trying to become mothers.

In the face of all this heavy emotion it seems painfully flippant that when Steve asked if I’d like to do anything for Mothers day the first thing that sprang to mind was some time on my own. Sans children for a few hours.

Oh the irony.

Part of my living in the moment plans include speaking my feelings more often and I feel reminded to do that – everyday and not just one a year.

I’m not sure either Zeph or Ida need encouragement to speak their feelings. To be honest at the end of every long day I wonder how it would be to hear a bit less of them .

In the usual attempt to beat back the madness we’ve been making stuff; cakes, 

parrots,

 

They are the fault of this,

Bane of my life.

Mind, it’s a great book. We’ve got several different types and I’m always glad when they turn up in wrapping paper and generally – pleased in the theory of them.

My problem comes when I try to convince the kids they’re a starting off point to making something and that it doesn’t matter when, due to material differences or lack of skill on my part or, swinging the other way, over-enthusiasm in a certain area, means the finished result doesn’t look a lot like the picture.

It enrages them. They feel cheated and let down. It leads to rancour. As though we needed any more of that.

It’s also the school spring fair this weekend and being a bit early for seedlings for the plant stall we’ve made these plant pots instead. Ida helped me transplant our plants into them today and there is still compost everywhere. It was only as we finished I wondered why we hadn’t done it outside. Ah well.

The finished pots look very cheerful in the colours of sugared almonds. Here’s hoping someone shows up to buy them. The last one wasn’t hugely well attended. I’m always impressed by the teachers ability to keep forging on enthusiastically in the face of apathy. I’ve done my part in begging my Mum and Dad to bring the kids while I man a stall so they’ll probably account for a big part of the take being totally unable to withstand the pleading eyes of the kids.

Do you know I started writing this on Tuesday and it is now, although only barely ten minutes in, Saturday. What has happened to my umph?

In other breaking news I’m flexing my embracing change muscles by trying a new toothpaste.

It’s salty. And brownish red. Every morning it reminds me of a slug. To be honest it’s not going well. Toothpaste shouldn’t be salty – should it?

Sunshine

The sun is shining – I am ridiculously grateful. Even though it exposes the air in my home as thick with dust, the lift to my spirits is immeasurable.

Fickle and shallow as it may be, the BT’s are much easier to see in the open dazzle of sunlight. Ida and I did some park mooching yesterday afternoon, me reading a book while she clambered up the climbing nets and mountaineered up the slide (what’s wrong with going up the ladder?) I had a real whiff of long summer evenings which put heart into me.

Right now I’m taking a break from fashioning some giant gamekeeper style keys for Steve’s dressing up Saturday in the shop. Inevitably he is Hagrid – it would be a shame to waste the beard. Zeph begged him to be Edward Lear with his beard full of birds but he shied away from having an owl under his chin all day. Also he does gruff and uncouth much better than twinkly and genial. He may look like Manny but his soul is Bernard through and through.*  Which suits me.

The lighter days are encouraging me to put my head up from the path in front of me… and I’ve joined Twitter. Always on the cutting edge me.

I like it a lot but not sure it completely suits my skill set. I feel slightly struck dumb. There’s a feeling you’re shoving your way into things – I feel awkward but there’s so much to enjoy as well. Not least a sense of connection.

Reflecting on how brilliantly blogging has turned out for me I’m determined to try more new stuff. Zeph has clearly caught my internal resolution from the air. He’s just done a few climbing sessions which he really liked and joined football club. Tonight before bed he has chilled the blood of both Steve and I by casually asking if just anyone can do taxidermy.

The mind boggles. I am afraid to google.

*Black Books 🙂

It’s all Swings and Roundabouts.

perfecting her regal wave...

It is seductively easy to only blog about the happier bits of the day.

As I’ve seen discussed, many times, on billions of better sites than mine – to edit your life so it’s shinier, smoother…happier.

I’m conscious that this sometimes applies to me. Especially as I doggedly attempt to record my Beautiful Things every time. 

I’d like to reassure everyone that the mould continues in its inexorable creep across my daily landscape. That this morning my daughter stepped out of the front door and shouted Piss Off Rain into the sky, startling a passing schoolward bound family (not my school, thank Ganesha, but I suspect they may already have my measure there..) That mid cooking today, while I was putting a baking tray in the oven, Ida attempted to egg wash the living room.

When I went to retrieve her from the time-out-step-of-doom she admitted she knew I’d be cross when she finished the rolling-pin. When I asked why she didn’t stop there instead of carrying on to the table and piano stool, she shrugged insouciantly and said, “you were already cross…”

It doesn’t bode well for the future.

I have made no progress on the pressing DIY tasks surrounding us. Defunct fridges, collapsing cupboards, the mould on the bathroom ceiling, the chainless bathplug that breaks a nail every time I need to pry it out, the kitchen light that constantly requires a sharp blow with a wooden spoon to knock wires back into connection. The woodchip in the hallway.

Believe me when I say I could go on.

I suppose I want to notice the wonderful without concealing the awful. It’s pretty easy for me to celebrate the stuff I think is amazing and wonderful and ignore what I’ve judged unimportant.  Like hygienic standards and bacteria free floors.  Though I want to stress I’m not laying down rules. Just because it’s not crucial to me doesn’t mean it’s not important to others.

Recently as I’ve floundered through my days I’ve heard a lot of how could they?s and my own internal examinations remind me how much I value tolerance. Whether its toddler ear-piercing, spitting in the street, fruit shoots, sleep training, sheet washing, organic carrots there’s a lot of my-way-is-the-best-way-ism.

Not that I’m advocating no opinions on these subjects. Just that I think they should come with a I think.. or a for us the best thing is.. prefix. Is that wishy-washy woolly liberal of me?

There were many beautiful things today. Despite eggwashgate, cooking with Ida was absorbing and gratifying. Watching her knock knock knock with an egg and then crack it expertly into a bowl is truly a thing of beauty. Tea with friends was soul nourishing while the kids whooped, screamed and enacted lord of the flies scenarios up and down the stairs and on the landings.

Sat here now, in the quiet dim of my home, I notice how very homely it feels. Not very stylish, not as clean or as organised as I hope for but very cosy. It feels safe to me. I’ve just been upstairs to fetch something and looked in on the kids who are both angelicly sleeping. All rosy cheeks and stray curls. Ida clutching one of her Wellington boots and Zeph’s finger keeping the place in his current bedtime book.

Very beautiful. You barely notice Zeph’s floor seems to be carpeted with ALL his clothes and Ida has written her name on the bedroom wall over her cot in red marker pen.

Festering political disillusion and Carrotcake Muffins. Whoo hoo.

My garden is very frosty and in some desperate need of attention.  This morning I wandered around it with a cup of tea putting off the washing up which recently, despite the purple bowl, has assumed Sisyphus status with me.

It doesn’t help that the paved bit by the house is covered with stuff. Stuff that needs a skip. Or some kind of organising. Like the defunct fridge freezer adding that whitegoods trash atmosphere to the air.

I was full of good intentions this autumn about gathering up the fallen leaves to bag up for future leaf mould but have instead left it to do its moulding all over the path, plants and minipond. I think I’m in a slight grey slough after a very happy christmas and birthday season.

 Now begins the uphill slog to my birthday. Wasn’t it blue monday yesterday? The statistical low point of the year. Yay…. 

*shuffles feet, has another drag of tea*

I see plenty of loveliness among the clutter. Bare branches reaching into the pale sky makes my heart soar and ache with the patterned architectural beauty. The birds are clearly visible perching and twisting like acrobatic baubles, squabbling over berries .  There is a gang of rowdy tits shoving each other around our bird feeder, fascinating Ida and Mittens who  crouches by the back door lashing her tail ferociously.

The frost has blackened even the bindweed. I know that a mornings red-cheeked work will clear all the wizened overgrowth into my green bin leaving a clear canvas for my bulbs and this year’s garden dreaming.

I admire the uneven patio area under the pergola. Progress is like the tide coming in isn’t it? Three steps forward, two back, two forward, one back. On and on, creeping along.

 It fits with my experience of living with depression as well. Sometimes walking, sometimes crawling. Some nights giving all you  have to cling to the rock face. To stay still. Then other times letting yourself drift back with the swell, taking a breath, biding your time to start swimming upstream again.

I also think all the recent washing up has exposed me to too many politicians on Radio4. I feel incensed and kind of powerless. Never a good combination. Most recently I’ve been internally turmoiling over all the Worrell Thompson media coverage and comparing his celebrity caution with some of the sentencing handed out to teenagers shoplifting during the summers rioting.

Yes, yes – I know it’s not the same – taking a bottle of water during a riot is a different proposition but once again I reflect on how sentencing data would look pushed through a class filter. This ties in with a deeper rage against Cameron’s proposal dealing with “problem families” the language of which physically turned my stomach.

May I humbly suggest, tugging my fucking cap and all that, that he could lift his blinkered gaze to the system that has grown these “problem families.” Although the money thrown at this problem will surely be welcomed by the agencies and charities on the frontline applying pressure on the critical wounds, it’s like spending a fortune on the rash and not curing the virus that’s causing it. Or feeding the starving then sending them back to the ravished homelands. I could go on.

Above all it was the emotive, media spun, them and not us, disgustingly elitist and evidently ignorant language that truly turned my stomach. My feeling of dislocation from the etonesque boys who govern me grows ever stronger. Like a splinter in my hand it festers.

So I made some cakes.

I’d recommend these, they’re lovely. Do-able with a small helper as well.

Carrotcake muffins.

You need..

100g of sugar. Brown is best, I use whatever I have, today; muscovado.

175ml sunflower oil.

220g flour (plain)

2 eggs

tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon (or mixed spice, sometimes I add ground ginger as well)

citrus fruit zest. Lemon or orange – or both

150g grated carrot (about 2)

something else. About 100g. Walnuts, mixed peel, sultanas etc

Mix the sugar and oil together.

Add the eggs.

Add the flour, spices and bi-carb and baking powder.

Fold in the grated carrot, zest and whatever you’re adding that’s extra. In this case, left over mixed peel.

Slop Spoon generously into muffin cases.

Cook in a medium oven until golden and a knife comes clean. About 20 minutes.

I iced these with a lime icing. Just icing sugar mixed with lime juice.

They definitely soothed the savage beast. That and tea with friends and a couple of chapters of the Snow Spider on the sofa with Zeph.

I am good at more than crazy

When I brush my teeth in the morning I like to open my mouldy 50’s frosted window and look out at the patchwork green of the back gardens of my block. At the moment my eye almost always rest first on a quince tree about 5 gardens away. It’s a big old one and at the moment it is laden with clusters of fruit. 

In the slanting morning light, against the usually grey sky they glow, golden, as though illuminated. My morning tooth brushing routine is quite long and complicated (another tooth is leaving me…) so I’m stood gazing at this tree for ten to fifteen minutes.

One of the things crossing my mind is how I stand looking out at the same scene yet my feelings differ enormously. I’m the only thing new to the party yet I go from feeling hugely in tune with my world and elated at the beauty in it to this morning where I was reduced to tears.

Actually reading that back makes me wonder if I’d be better served googling bi-polar in my spare moments rather than toothless wonder and carve your own dentures from driftwood.

I know I’ve written before about how we filter perception of events and surrounding through our prevailing mood and mindset. I work hard at this stuff. Trying to re-educate my not always kind inner voice. Today I was wondering if anyone else looked at how beautiful they were, if anyone would pick them or if they’d just ripen, fall and rot and I was the only one who’d notice them. The tears came at the waste, futility and pointlessness. Now as I write it down it sounds ridiculous, not wasted for all the birds and insects and I’m also wondering why I don’t think I’m valuable enough for a display of beauty. So what if only I see them – maybe they were meant for me. Don’t I deserve that kind of bounty?

I also don’t want to give the impression I retired devastated back to my bed, weeping. I rinsed my mouth, closed the window, wiped the tears away with the towel and plunged back into the headless chicken morning routine.

We’re walking more and more without the pushchair. Yesterday Ida walked all the way to my G’mas and back again to pick Zeph up from school. It’s quite a long way with small legs. We had taken the pushcair, just in case ,which proved to be more trouble than it was worth as the wheel comes off roughly every twenty metres. Walking back we pass lots of lovely trees so collected a bounty of golden and scarlet leaves, some tiny fairy pinecones and the most perfect acorn either of us had ever seen, it really was picture book perfect.

At the top of the hill there’s a busy road junction with three different traffic light buttons to press. The green man doesn’t stay long so once they’re aligned you have to hurry. Halfway across we realise in her excitement to press the button Ida had dropped the acorn on the far side. With an eye on the lights and my watch as we were rushing for the hometime bell I urged her onwards. After all we have, literally at least a hundred collected acorns at home in her autumny things basket. Safely over the roads she tugged urgently at my hand and I bent down to her. 

“but Mummy – I am saaaaaad.” 

She looks up, her brow is furrowed and her lip out. I assess it and know I could jolly her over this pretty easily. Redirect her attention to something else, remind her about all the acorns waiting at home, promise some painting time if we hurry. Mums do this all the time; negotiation, suggestion, redirection. Derrren Brown has nothing on a time pressed mother, balancing children and a millionlong to-do list. 

Something about her hand in my mind. That small confiding plump paw. The way she was just standing, waiting. That she wasn’t demanding, that she had just told me what she was feeling and trusting me for a satisfactorary response made me turn us around, press the button again to retrace our steps back across the road to rescue the acorn then turn, press and stand again, waiting for Mr Green.

The incredulous man on a pushbike who’d crossed with us shook his head in disbelief. “You’re a muggins – you are.” he says as he pedals ponderously off down the hill.

It doesn’t matter that the acorn is now indistinguishable in the pile on the piano. It is that I want Ida to know that the things that matter to her matter to me. That I listen to her. More than that – more than mummy stuff, I want to be the kind of person who can see that the things that matter to people matter to them. That I can respect that, regardless of whether I give a tinkers damn about it myself.  

And that sometimes there is five minutes to spare. That’s is okay to like stuff about yourself and celebrate it. That we’re all calibrated differently so sometimes it’s meaningless to measure yourself up against others.

I also hope fervently that she’ll remember the stuff like this as well as how I growl, “don’t touch my face” in the mornings when she climbs into bed with us and that I can be found crying at trees with a toothbrush in my mouth.

Judgement

As a parent you become accustomed to judgement.

Personally I’m aware that professionals look at my file and make assumptions. That is their job after all, risk assessment. Social workers are not an unknown phenomenon in this house.

I make myself seem like the villain in this piece and that is not the case. As far as I know my kids aren’t on any register. We’ve only had a few cursory visits. Cups of tea and friendly chats with thoughtful eyes cast over our books, the state of the kitchen floor and  the fruit bowl.

My mind wanders while talking and I consider the possible tick boxes. Half filled fruitbowl, slightly manky bananas (good -five a day, obviously not newly bought for visit) Kitchen clean but not pristine (tick) children’s books in evidence (tick) children’s work on walls (tick) reward chart on pinboard (tick) Offer of various teas, earl grey option (double tick) last weekends Guardian under coffee table ( hmmm) They recycle…. All seems good so far but consider the mothers  file. (Questionable)

Yes, I know I sound off the paranoia scale and if you read the Daily Mail you’ll be doubting The Man’s capabilities to put together information from the past to this extent. Until you’re in the lens though you can keep your thoughts to yourself. Why is it as a victim I feel so guilty?

Crying in bed after a bad news day Steve and I talk softly. It’s just after some headlines, how can you not consider sterilisation as a sentencing option? Smoothing my hair he idly suggests licensing parents. From here I can see the sweep of long eyelash shadows cast on her cheek by the bedside light. I try to imagine my hands shutting the microwave door, pressing the buttons. It seems inconceivable. I roll over pressing my face into the pillow, squeezing my eyelids closed until the blood fireworks blossom. They can’t cover my mental picture of my hands doing something equally heinous with lighter fluid and a kitchen knife.

Sobs choke me and I shudder – “Why is it stupid to believe in redemption and hope..” the words bubble up jagged, beaded with blood. I’m struggling to breathe. His hand stays heavy on my back. ” Take a breath Laura, hold it, breathe out.. and another… and another. Calms word tether my hysterical heart. Gently he reels me in till reason regains the steering wheel.

After another minutes gentler crying I choke out, ” They’d never have licensed me.” He turns onto his back and looks at the ceiling. Wiping my face with the back of my hand I flop inelegantly over and put my face on his shoulder. It’s raining outside and we lie in the yellow cave made by the bedside light listening to our breathing. He knows better than to turn off the light tonight. Ida’ll press the switch with glee when she arrives in our bed for a cuddle in the morning when clean white light streams in past our flimsy curtains.

I know I need to stop this. Flinging myself on these tabloid staples like a kamikaze ship wrecking myself. Breaching my hull on the gaping jaws of headline rocks. I silently reiterate my lectures to Zeph about statistics, about news having something to sell – same as anything else. About the draw of an out of the ordinary, extreme, hardly-ever-happens event. About the global village and the modern stream of information we have to learn to erect boundaries for ourselves against.

My stint in the bookshop covers the rise of the white-jacketed misery memoir. The scattered few eventually coalesced into its own couple of bays of weeping children peering out pleadingly. Believe me, I’m no champion of the genre but was startled one lunchtime when my manager launched a diatribe over her salad about how they were all made up. “Hardly all of them” I offered diffidently and didn’t know how to reply when she snorted scornfully. “Things like that don’t really happen” she declared and gesturing with her fork she elaborated on financial rewards and publishers leaping on bandwagons.

All true.

Looking at her, my face stiff, one hand rubbing a finger over the foam spilling from the split in the battered coffee-stained sofa I think about how to put the wasps in my head into words.

Impossible.

I’m here to say that those things do happen. As a statistical anomaly, though I doubt that’s a comfort to the flesh under the hand, strap, chain or malice. 

I’m also here to say that that’s not the end of the story. Of course on bad days I feel like it is. I say that people sit in judgement. The hardest judge, the  harshest words, the most implacable gavel all come from me.

I judge.

Everyday.

On the bad days I find myself wanting.

On good days I remember the lessons I’ve learnt. I treasure my beautiful things, notice the moment I’m in and think the best of everyone, including myself. I understand we all have back stories, that I’m the only person in my race, I can even value my past but that’s what it is, behind me, a fraction of the whole. 

On bad days I wonder how badly I will infect the most precious things in my life. I was diagnosed with post natal depression after Zeph was born. It was very expected. It’s hard moving surely under the pressure of every single person you know waiting for you to fall.

At the time I remember thinking it was hard to see the distinction between plain old depression except the extra agonising, excruciating layer of feeling I was infecting the best thing, Zeph, with the worst. Me. 

After Ida I saw a different psychiatrist. After she’d read my millstone file she offered a different diagnosis of Post traumatic stress disorder. Different label, slightly different drugs, same old scramble out of the hole. The therapist I saw then talked a lot to me about this year. The year Zeph is eight. I really didn’t want to listen.

Now I am relieved someone said it out loud to me. It’s partly why I’m up late rambling at the electronic page. I love writing this blog. I’m genuinely thrilled and warmed and sustained by people reading it but I don’t think I’m writing for an audience. It’s not properly mummy or crafty or gardening or cooking although I mother, craft, garden and eat.

I’m writing to please myself  and as I said previously I’m casting out thread into the world. This thought moves my fingers to ramble on. About the relief of saying-writing it out loud. In case someone else hears-reads it and feels less alone.

This summer Zeph has been eight. Every day I look at him and see me. Lazy, book reading, chore-dodging, imaginary game playing, messy, affectionate and ornery. I look at him and my heart swells with love and pride in his remarkable self.

And eight year old Laura hammers her furious fists on the tissue thin walls of my stunted heart. She is wild with rage and jealousy. When he is difficult or stubborn or ungrateful or as wilful as any other eight year old boy she leaves welts with her nails and hisses about how he doesn’t know how lucky he is.. is she wishing her pain on him?  When my mother fondly defends him and chides my mothering she lodges in my throat like a poisonous toad spitefully croaking. My jaw aches from keeping her bitter hurtful words behind my teeth. About keeping your own damn children safe.

Slowly I have come to see that the biggest damage she inflicts is the suffocating urge to keep her a secret. Like a pus filled boil she needs to be lanced. I need to pull the curtains and let the clean light in. Jealousy I need to speak your name. It’s not shameful, it’s just an aspect of me, part of my intricate, complicated, colourful psyche.

Some of the best advice I ever had came from a friend. Standing in my mum’s kitchen, her bicycle in the garden, holding a mug of roobos tea she eyed me with compassion. Further along the path her gaze held empathy and understanding. “It’s okay to be angry you know..”

and it is. My love is forged and tempered like the finest steel. It is beaten by doubt, rage, hate and falability and is all the stronger for that.

Today I am handing down the sentence of the rest of my lovely life whatever it may hold and, wielding my gavel elegantly, I’m handing it out to you as well.