Angels walk among us…

…they just have really tiny wings 

For someone like me, being on my own can be pretty damaging, especially after what we’ve been through in the last year.  Too much time means too much time to think, and when you mostly go all day without seeing another adult human being there’s a heck of a lot of time for thinking.  Sure, I have Freya, and she lights up every moment that I spend in her company.  But she sleeps for over 16 hours a day, and she’s not exactly a great conversationalist (sorry Freya, I really have no idea what you are saying!)

I know it’s not sustainable to have a life filled with people and chatter, and that I have to learn to live with the empty spaces in my world, but when I am not active or engaged, my mind is left wide open for intrusive thoughts and memories that turn a technicolour place into many shades of grey.

That’s life as a stay-at-home mum I guess (albeit temporary until my maternity leave ends), but I often wonder if it’s just me?  Is it my character that makes me unable to make it through a day alone without feeling the tears pricking at the corner of my eyes?  Does everyone feel bored, sad, lonely when they have nothing to do and nobody to see?  Or is that me? Am I depressed? I’m not sure.

Anyway, enough of those depressing musings! The intention of today’s blog was to recognise those people who are out there in the world making a difference to someone like me, without even realising the huge impact their actions have. Because to them, they are not doing anything special; I am sure reading this you will find the actions unremarkable.  But to me, they made enough of a difference to allow a shard of sunlight to burn through the cloud.

So, here goes..

Thank you to the local businesswoman whose message was the first I saw when I opened my eyes this morning, offering a raffle prize for an upcoming fundraiser without hesitation.  It took a lot of courage for me to send those requests, and it was reassuring to receive a positive response.  I won’t feel so nervous about the next person I approach now.

Thank you to the school mum who stood on the corner and let me ramble on about my concerns for my son who is having a bit of a challenging time at school.  You had things to do, but you took 20 minutes out of your busy life to make a space in mine.  It was just a chat.  But you were the first adult I spoke with today, and it felt like a good way to start the day.

Thank you to the girl in the coffee shop for not wrinkling her nose when she saw me rocking up with a pram.  In fact she looked pleased to see another person; it was empty when I got there.

Thank you to the dad who popped his head in the door to say “Hi” when he saw me sat there alone, and then kept me company for a bit before he went about his business.

Thank you to the pregnant lady and her mum (I’m guessing it was your mum) who admired Freya from the other side of the room and made me feel proud of my little girl (more proud).  And when I engaged you in conversation, thank you for letting me tell you about her story, and for listening and showing genuine concern for this little girl and her mum who were complete strangers to you just moments before.

Thank you to the owner of the beauty salon for welcoming me in, for showing an interest in Freya and for saying exactly the right thing; I know you must have been following our story.  Thank you for responding positively to my request, you must get them all the time. And thanks for giving me advice on how I might get the best out of the campaign, I appreciate that.

Thank you to the ladies in the chemist who served me with more than what I went in for ( and I don’t mean the syringes and nappy sacks!)  I am sure you think nothing of sparing a bit of attention for a beautiful baby, but to me it means the world to see her interacting with others; she doesn’t see many people.  I left your shop with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.

Thank you to the hairdresser and the florist for listening to a stranger; it was hard for me to approach you when you don’t know me at all; I will be in touch soon.

Thank you to the lovely boutique owner who has always put up with my constant prattle! Your support is appreciated, and I must repay the hours of bending your ear by buying a new dress when I’ve shifted this baby weight! My chatter sent both of our babies to sleep, and I applaud you for managing to stay awake.  Perhaps it passed some time for you too, I hope so.

Thank you to an old friend for getting in touch right on cue, to organise a catch up. It has been a little while; you know what happens when we leave it too long!! We will need a few dates booked in to deal with the gossip in instalments 😉

Thank you to the mum who messaged to say she had been thinking about something I had talked to her about. The links you sent me will be really useful; it was kind of you to go to so much trouble; I think you understand how big a decision that might be and how much it means to me.

Thank you to my bestest friend (I know it’s not a word, humour me, it’s an affectionate term) for giving me something to look forward to at the weekend.  Wine is most certainly the antidote to a lonely week.

Thanks to all of you for taking a tiny part of your day to make a massive difference in mine.  Yes, I know this is normal life to most people.  You go in a shop, you bump into people, you make smalltalk, you leave.  But know that the things you take for granted because you will do it with 50 people today, mean so much when you do it with me.  Today my world feels a little less small.

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The Loneliness of Motherhood

Ok, so I am sure I will be shot down by all the mums who adore every baby-yoga filled second with their little ones, and those mums who go out to to work and would love to be at home with their children instead, but do you know what, being a stay-at-home mum is pretty darned lonely at times.  Today is one of those days, nothing planned, not another human in sight, just me and Freya and daytime TV.  The feeling starts to creep in mostly when Freya is napping, and I find myself wondering what to do next.  The laundry is all done, I’ve finished the ironing, even managed to grab a snack and drink a cup of coffee while it was still hot.  I have created a list of jobs to do, some important, some completely frivolous, but if I completed the list today, what would I do tomorrow?

I like making lists. I have a number of lists on the go at the moment.  I have a comprehensive to-do list which is a brain dump of every single thing I would like to achieve, from cleaning the downstairs loo to writing a novel.  And so that I don’t get too overwhelmed by the huge list I have created, I then have a daily list where I take three or four of the items from the full list that I would like to achieve today.  Sad, eh?! So today’s list reads:-

  • Freya – Doctors 09:40am, village
  • Finish laundry
  • Change beds
  • Contact list for party venues

The clock says 13:07, each item on the list has a satisfying tick by the side of it, and I have also achieved the following:-

  • Made middle child’s packed lunch
  • Dropped said middle child at school
  • Walked 1.5 miles from school to doctors (need to burn off the Christmas pudding)
  • Fed baby
  • Changed baby (multiply that one by 4 or more)
  • Unloaded dishwasher
  • Washed bottles
  • Measured baby formula into storage tubs
  • Removed labels from baby formula tins for possible future upcycling project that I will probably never get around to

Rock and roll!  I now find myself looking around the playroom (sounds grander than it is!) where I am sitting to write this, wondering what I should do now.  But I know there’s not much point starting anything as I really need to go and wake up a sleepy baby because it is time for lunch, and there will be another bottle to fit in before I set off on the 1.5 mile back to school where I left my car this morning.  Then sort kids tea, clean up, hound kids to get in the bath (I have two older ones, as well as the baby), bath baby, feed baby, put baby to bed, sort our tea, clean up, hound older kids to go to bed, stay up until ridiculously late so as to limit the number of hours the baby is left alone (she is insisting on sleeping on her front, and due to recent events I feel compelled to turn her over every time I check on her).  Groundhog Day.

I’m worried I might sound a little ungrateful, particularly as last year was one that showed us how lucky we are as a family, and how precious life is.  But I’m not complaining about my life in general, I just feel a bit lonely today and being a bit of a neghead and a catastrophic thinker, of course this bad day means I have a bad life!  And actually it’s not really a bad day is it, just a bad couple of hours.  I knew this would happen, though.  There was such a build up to Christmas with a magical pre-Christmas trip with the family to London, Freya’s first Christmas, a wedding and New Year celebrations; lots to keep my mind occupied and away from other things that have preoccupied my headspace for some time now.  I had a feeling that it wouldn’t last, and that once all of that good stuff was over, and I was left alone at home (albeit with my beautiful baby girl who I love spending time with – when she is awake!), with no real plans, that I might start to unravel again.

The good thing about having been treated for depression in the past, and the fact that I am quite in tune with my body and mind, is that I recognise the signs when it is lurking around the corner.  Walking around the village this morning, my mind raced with angry annoyance at lots of little things that have got under my skin recently.  Up in that brain of mine was a hive of activity; imagined conversations with people where I tell them exactly what I’m thinking, and decide that I know what everyone else is thinking too.  The fuse has been getting a little shorter too; less patience with the kids, quick to blame rather than accept when little things go wrong, not sleeping.  The good thing is that years of battling with different forms of negative thoughts, and having had CBT and counselling at various stages of my life, is that I now know how to have a pretty strong word with myself.  It’s like I am chastising a naughty child up there; “Pack it in! That’s enough!”  I wonder if that’s what they mean by hearing voices in your head…😳

So, what to do about it? First of all, I am not going to concern myself with this little episode.  In the past, feeling like this would have put me on full alert for a bout of depression to fall upon me and it would almost become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Nope, that isn’t happening. This is me having a word with myself.  This is January blues, the calm after the storm.  Last year was full of plans, with medical appointments almost every week in one place or another, and a huge desire to go places where I could make memories with Freya, just in case…

I should be grateful for the lack of plans – it must be a sign that things are settling down, that we are getting somewhere close to normal.  It also means that I have a blank canvas ahead of me, and that should be exciting, shouldn’t it? So just because I don’t yet have any plans, doesn’t mean that the year ahead is bleak.  It just means that there are lots of plans left to make (and that I need to kick my Christmas-pudding filled butt into some kind of action to make them).

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And on that thought, right on cue, I hear a cry from upstairs. My sleeping beauty has awoken, and thus the spell of loneliness is broken.

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