Tag Archives: #health

Stress, Social and Smooth

Stress. The kids went back to school nearly two weeks ago. Last Monday, T had a mini-meltdown. When I say meltdown, he was mildly stressed out. T doesn’t do meltdowns. He does calm and laid back so when he gets stressed it is unusual but not insurmountable. He doesn’t have to tell me when something is worrying him, it is obvious – he goes quiet and in turn becomes argumentative. And anyway, I just know. Before I had kids, I didn’t really believe the whole “mum spidey senses” thing but it is actually a Thing. Anyway, we had a chat after the argument and he admitted he was feeling a bit pressured by the whole GCSE thing and the pressure to do well. We had spoken at length during the summer about how much effort he has been giving so far and how it is not enough to just do the bare minimum. The failed RE GCSE seemed to spur him on, but have I created a monster? Have I made too much of it and now he is stressing out? Anyway, we talked a bit more and it transpired that the homework app wasn’t working (see, technology is NOT always a good thing – what was wrong with writing things down into a homework diary?) and he didn’t want to get behind with his homework………….because he wanted to watch the Apple Conference live the following evening. I don’t need to worry, he clearly still has his priorities in a different place.

Social. On Saturday night, A went to a friend’s birthday party. I am finding it increasingly hard to keep up with her social life and the way it is organised. There’s no invites any more. Parents don’t contact parents any more. Your child gets a text (or Whatsapp message, or Instagram DM, or Snapchat PM….etc) invite from their friend and they ask you if they can go. You say yes or no and if in the affirmative the details get passed to you as and when your child gets them. You don’t have to text a parent or call a parent to say that your child can attend and “hi” I’m J, A’s mum”. None of that. On this particular occasion I had not met the girl whose party it was, or her parents. I just knew she lived in “the big house on the corner of the road that goes down to the school”. She was being dropped off by another friend’s step-dad (again all organised child-to-child but at least we know the friend in question and have met the mum and step-dad) and we were picking them up later. I had an address and a time and the knowledge that they were going to watch a movie at the house and then dinner out at a local pizza place. That was all. Now, I don’t know how you feel reading this, but I felt a little lacking in my parental duties. However, knowing that I could see her whereabouts on my lovely app, I felt slightly less nervous than I could have done. And I knew two of the other girls she was going to be with who are both pretty sensible. She was being dropped off and picked up. Nothing to worry about. And there wasn’t, it was all fine, she had a lovely time; they were even left unsupervised in the restaurant while the birthday girl’s parents went to the chip shop (it’s classier than it sounds) and so she felt very grown up (which I suppose she is becoming). I went to pick her up at the designated time with K as chauffeur. The idea of the “big house on the corner” made me slightly nervous. Meeting a new person made me slightly nervous. Meeting a new person who lives in a VERY big house…you get the idea. I was nervous. Especially having had ZERO contact with her previously. She was perfectly nice, they had all “been fine” and so after collecting all their belongings (why do girls have so much stuff?) we left. I have no idea what the mum’s name was. We made small talk while they were getting their stuff but other than that she has 2 older children and one younger one and that her house is MASSIVE I know nothing more than that. It’s not a problem, it just feels weird. Up til now, I have pretty much known the parents of A’s friends, because I have seen them at school and probably chatted to them in the playground. I haven’t had to worry about this stuff with T, he still hangs around with the same mates he had in nursery. He has other friends, new friends from secondary school, but boys don’t really do the whole “tea” at each others houses thing. Or parties really. Well, T doesn’t anyway. It’s a whole new world and one I am finding hard to adjust to. We have a “new friend” coming for “tea” tomorrow and another one for a sleepover on Saturday night (I have met her before so it will be fine) – I might need therapy by Sunday.

So, that just leaves Smooth. I have not been sleeping brilliantly for a few weeks. When I say not brilliantly, I mean I can get to sleep no problem (in fact probably too easily, i.e. in front of the TV most evenings) but I have started waking up around 4am again. I don’t know why but it is annoying. What is even more annoying is that when I am lying there awake all I can think of is a bloody song that I can’t get out of my head. Not always the same song, but normally one that I don’t even like. I have realised that it is probably down to listening to Radio 2 all day.  It’s not their fault but they do play the same records over and over again – their playlist is pretty limited – and it can get a bit repetitive, and one of the songs will get stuck in my noddle and at 4am it decides to start blasting out. So, I have decided on a change of station. I started out this morning with Classic FM – no lyrics, no catchy tunes, was my thinking. After ten minutes I couldn’t take any more. I need lyrics. I need a catchy tune. I scrolled through the list and Smooth caught my eye – billed as “your relaxing music mix” I though it worth a go. Ooh I like it. So far not one repeat of a song. Nothing current, I grant you – I’m not in danger of being Down With The Kids – but nothing repetitive that could get stuck in my head, not so far anyway. Some old classics, actually only old classics; DJ’s whose voices are not too annoying, so far; a few adverts, could get annoying; but mainly just easy listening background noise with a few “oh I LOVE this one”s thrown in. Let’s see what happens tonight.

 

 

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List-less

For years, whenever we have been going away – even for just a few days – I have written lists. One year I needed a list of all my lists, there were so many. I've always seen lists as a saviour, as something I can't live without. With lists I was in control and knew exactly what I needed to do. I had lists for other people so THEY knew what they had to do and I thought it was all a brilliant way of going about it.

In recent months, I have been making myself challenge the way I deal with things. Not Big Things, just Small Things that I get stressed or annoyed about and that make me stress other people out in the process (or annoy them, which is far worse). For example, cooking dinner every night. A Small Thing, but I used to get so wound up by having to decide what we were going to eat, decide what I needed to buy from the supermarket, actually do the shopping, the cooking. Deciding, shopping, cooking. And on and on it went. So now, we agree what we want to eat as a family (I still order the stuff we need – I can't change the world overnight – slowly slowly catchy monkey) and K cooks a few times a week now (and seems to be enjoying it mostly). Over the summer I have announced that one night each week a child will cook. I say child. They're not kids anymore really, young adults. And very capable of knocking up a dinner for four people. So why did I get so stressed and annoyed if it's not difficult? Because I don't want to be the one making ALL the decisions ALL the time and it's very nice to have dinner cooked for me now and again. Thank you.

So, back to the lists. I still write a shopping list, I haven't got that good a memory, but I have decided to ditch the lists for other things. Like to-do-lists and holiday lists. I realised that the lists were actually making me more stressed. By writing a list I was taking responsibility for it all. I was saying "look, I've got this, I am in control and if we get to our holiday destination and we don't have something important then it is all MY fault". And believe me, it's happened. And the consequence is me feeling terrible, other people feeling annoyed and the holiday loses it's sheen of loveliness. So, instead of saying "I've got this", I've said "pack what you want to take". Job done. I realise this is easier now that the 'young adults' are, well, young adults and can decide how many T-shirts they want to take. T has packed his own bag for at least the last 4 trips that he has been on and I haven't even asked him how many pairs of pants he has in his bag. See, progress! So, if someone doesn't have a phone charger, well then they will be very sad but they will be annoyed at themselves and not me. If they don't have enough pants, well, er, they will have to wash them or go commando. But it won't be MY fault.

(N.B. I've jotted down things like 'cool box' and 'picnic blanket' because they are in the garage and I don't rummage around in the man cave.)

I have NOT made a list of places we MUST go to while we are away. We have a map that a lovely friend has lent us and some leaflets; we have the National Trust app; we have our brains and the internet if we get stuck. I started to write a list of places and forced myself to throw it away – for so many years I have had my list and it's rained and the list sat there making me feel sad that we were not going to get to these lovely places I had planned to go to. Not this year. I am going to wake up each morning, check the forecast and as a family WE will decide where we are going and WHAT we will do and WHERE we will get food, etc, etc.

I'm not saying that this is going to be the best holiday we've ever had; equally I'm not saying that every holiday that has gone before has been a disaster; but I am saying that I am NOT going to be in charge.

So I may be list-less but I feel quite free and quite excited by the idea.

Another N.B. I am not going to be 'online' while I am away. I am not going to be checking in, or checking other peoples check-in's. I am going to take some lovely pictures using my camera (if I remember to take it – ha ha!) and I will post them when I get home, if I want to.

 

Parents Evening, Parade, Pasta and Panic

It’s been a busy few weeks.

We had A’s first parents evening at her new school the week before last. You know, the really hot week with the hottest day since the year 1802 or something ridiculous (I know it wasn’t 1802 but I’m allowed to be silly, it’s my blog). Yes, well that was the day of parents evening. It’s not the most fun hour of anyone’s lives, I don’t imagine, but it was not only not fun – it was also VERY hot. OK so we’ve established the weather conditions, let’s get on to the actual content. Well, it was all very good indeed. As we have been told many times before by many teachers, A is well behaved, polite, conscientious and produces very neat work. She also appears to have a personality which is a relief. She does like to chat in class from time to time and she doesn’t always listen but other than that words like “superstar” and “pleasure” were bandied around quite a lot. The meeting that made me most proud was with her PE teacher, Miss W, who praised her to the point of nearly making us both cry (me and Miss W, not me and K) for being determined and pushing herself to do stuff that makes her scared. Bravo that girl. And bravo Miss W for making the very valid point that she does not need to compare herself to ANYONE else, only herself. I bloody love that woman and wish she had been MY PE teacher twenty years ago (ha ha!).

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Last weekend (not this one just gone, the one before) was Armed Forces day in our local town. T was taking part with his Police Cadet group, alongside Army Cadets from a local school, Marine cadets and Sea Cadets from the local area. They had a parade to begin with which made my eyes a bit misty. There’s something about a military band and people in uniform that makes me feel very emotional, so to see my son involved was pretty special. The rest of the day comprised of the cadets competing against each other in drills/uniform inspections; a climbing wall challenge; and, my favourite, a tug of war!

T’s group did very well in all events but particularly smashed the tug of war. They have a secret weapon in one of the lads who is built like the proverbial brick s**t house and was, needless to say, a very useful anchor man. The other lads and girl got really stuck in and thrashed the other teams, losing just one round out of nine.

The final part of the day was the announcement of the winners, and we were thrilled that T’s group won the overall competition. With only 7 of them attending it seemed like they were a bit thin on the ground but they didn’t let that stop them and, for the first time in the groups’ history, they came home with the trophy.

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Last week was enrichment week at the children’s school. T was not taking part as he went off to Wales for his geography field trip, but A was able to choose from a number of activities that school had arranged that they could do, supposedly to “enrich” their lives. Being as most of the trips were circa £20 plus a go, I politely suggested to A that she maybe chose one trip (pointing out that she had already been on the London Eye, she had been to the local zoo more times that she can remember, etc) and that she look at the activities going on in school for the other option. They have a year group sports day one day and geography field trip on another so she only had to decide on 2 days activities. She opted for the National Portrait Gallery and the in-school Masterchef day. She enjoyed the gallery trip but was slightly freaked out by the Run, Hide, Tell leaflet she was given in case of a terrorist attack, and slightly disconcerted by the boy in her group that insisted on holding her hand whilst on the underground! He was scared apparently. But the highlight of the week has to have been Masterchef – for her and us! – she made such amazing food. They were given a list of ingredients to take and a recipe sheet when they got to the food tech room, but then were left to their pwn devices to follow it and make their meals. We had dough balls with garlic and herb butter (much better than Pizza Express), followed by ricotta and pancetta ravioli, followed by white chocolate eclairs for dessert. It was all outstanding. (The pasta was so great it spurred me on to use the machine I bought on a whim a few months ago – A and I produced some pretty good tagliatelle together on Saturday evening). She was pipped at the post to the prize for her dessert but she was up against some year 8 and 9 students so she deserves to feel very proud.

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This morning I got to work quite early and got cracking on the weekend’s emails from the miserable buggers who buy our stuff our lovely customers. I was on the phone when a text pinged up from K asking me to call him urgently. As soon as I finished my call I rang him back as this is highly unusual! A had called him in a panic – she couldn’t get through to me (as I was on the phone) and she needed me to drop her PE kit off at school as she had forgotten it. Um. Er. Sorry, I am at work. For some reason, although I have been doing this job for just over 6 years, and I have been going into the office one the same days for the last 12 months, somehow everyone forgets and expects me to be able to drop everything and rescue them from their forgetfulness. I texted her to this effect, but slightly less aggressively, but basically saying tough, you will have to suffer the consequences. Literally, their punishments are called “consequences”, ranging from a C1 for minor misdemeanours (forgetting a book, or a pen, or their name) to a C5 – Saturday morning detention, and the same for homework misdemeanours but prefixed with a H. I sat waiting for the explosion of a text that I was expecting to get back at break time. Luckily, for both of us, the lovely Miss W said that she would “let her off” on this occasion as she had such an unblemished record (she hasn’t received a single C1 since the start of the school year – thank god she has that chatty personality as she could be on the way to being a bit of a swot) but on the understanding that she DID NOT TELL A SOUL. I bloody love Miss W, did I mention that earlier?

We spoke in length in the car on the way home – well, I spoke and she said “I Know!!!” a lot – about how I HAVE A JOB, and I GO TO THE OFFICE on certain days and if we could perhaps just go with a blanket rule of “if you forget your stuff, you take the punishment” we will all be a lot happier. Well, I will as it will mean that I don’t spend hours feeling like a complete and utter tool for refusing to drive a 10+ mile round trip to drop something off.

Remember the proud moments and the pasta. And breathe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Brave

Last Wednesday at work I received a frantic message from A (sent during afternoon form time) saying that she had been selected to take part in a rounders match after school the following day and that she “really, really didn’t want to do it”. She went on to say that she had told the teacher that she only came to Rounders club for fun and exercise and didn’t ever intend to compete IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE!!! It is the IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE bit that she was most worried about. The teacher had replied that she felt it may do her good to take part and overcome her fear of competing. (n.b. we had had an almost identical situation over Sports Day). I agreed with the teacher, but how to tell A that without her feeling that I wasn’t supporting her?

Hmm. My issue is that A is a confident person. She has never baulked at joining a new club or talking to people she doesn’t know. The fact that she chose to go into a form without anyone from her old school shows that she is not scared to make new friends or put herself “out there”. She performs dance routines on stage with 3 other girls at the dance club’s annual show and although she gets nervous, she loves the adrenaline rush and the excitement of performing.

When it comes to sporting activities she is a wreck. She has never seen herself as sporty, despite being perfectly able. I think a lot of this stems from junior school where only the really talented athletes were given a chance to compete and she was not one of them. So, I’ve tried to encourage her to give more sports a go since starting at secondary school and she has – she tried dance club but found it too conflicting with the class that she already goes to; she attended Fitness Club for a whole term and improved her PB on the “Death Run” considerably as a result of this, earning herself a postcard from the PE Department praising her efforts; and most recently Rounders club which she has been enjoying – until now.

I replied to her message telling her not to panic, that we would talk it over when she got home and see what she wanted to do. My hope was that the hour or so that she had left at school would give her chance to think about what the teacher had said and come to the conclusion on her own that she should take part. I really want her to be more confident and hope that the teacher wouldn’t put her forward if she didn’t think her capable.

We got home after a very subdued car journey and she immediately burst into tears of panic. She had told the teacher that she wasn’t going to do it, but I could sense that she was wavering. I asked her what was holding her back and she said that she didn’t want to mess up. I offered the idea that the teacher must think her able if she has put her forward and (as always) she had an answer for that one – “she just wants everyone to have a chance to take part and it’s my turn”. Hmm. OK, but surely, if she was really bad at it, the teacher wouldn’t allow her to humiliate herself in front of others? No, probably not. What should she do? I took the wavering to be a request for encouragement so told her I thought it would be a good way to overcome her anxieties and that if she really hated it she could at least say she had tried. OK, but she’d already told the teacher. This is where I love the high-tech world we live in. In the ‘good old days’ I would have had to try and get hold of the teacher at school after hours. No chance. Or write a note for the next day. Too late. In the enlightened age that we live in, A was able to email the teacher to tell her she had changed her mind and it if was OK she would like to give it a go. Reply within an hour or so. Sorted. Teacher very proud and happy. A feeling nervous but slightly pumped that she had been brave enough to think about it.

And so the next afternoon I anxiously waited for her to finish her tournament, hoping and praying that she had (a) not fallen over and humiliated herself, (b) not fluffed every stroke of the rounders bat and humiliated herself, (c) not failed to catch the ball when needed, etc, etc. She was VERY late getting to the car with her friend, who was cadging a lift with us, but she was VERY HAPPY. She HAD fallen over – “so embarrassing but, what the heck, it doesn’t matter”, she hadn’t messed up her batting and she HAD scored a rounder. But, far more importantly, she HAD DONE IT. And she was, quite rightly, very proud of herself.

And I am proud of her. She’s a little star.

A lump in my throat

I’ve just waved K off as he heads off to Germany for a week. Well, 5 days and 6 nights to be precise, he will be back next Friday, but it feels like a week. Since we moved in together 17 years ago, we have never spent more than 2 nights apart. Neither of us has ever been inclined towards holidays away with friends without each other, even if we had the means. We’ve always wanted to go away together, and since having the children this has been a given. I’ve had weekends away, he’s had work trips away, so this trip has made us both a tad unsettled.

I need to explain. We’re not a lovey-dovey couple who can’t bear to be apart. We don’t shower each other with overt displays of affection. We just like being together. We like being at home in the evenings watching a bit of TV and chatting about stuff. We like spending time with the kids (why else have them?). We just like it that way. Of course we have time apart, we both have friends that we see (me more than  K as his friends are dispersed far and wide) and we do go out separately, but more often than not we are together. I often joke with friends that I would only miss him if he wasn’t here because I would have to put the bins out (in fairness it was one of the things I thought of when I knew he was leaving on a Sunday – “but it’s bin night!”) but in reality he does far more than that. He makes me feel grounded and he stops me worrying so much about stupid stuff and he makes me laugh. When he’s not here it just doesn’t feel right. And I can pretty much forget about sleeping.

K is nervous about the trip for different reasons to me. He hasn’t been abroad with work before. He hasn’t flown alone before. I usually organise trips (apart from last summer holiday) and take the blame when it all goes wrong. This makes him sound useless and a bit pathetic – he’s not, he is more than able to sort this and he has made all the arrangements necessary. He’s just not confident that it will all work out. He’s a bit apprehensive about the itinerary while he is away – mainly because he doesn’t have one. He is unsure what format the trip will take and he doesn’t know if there will be any communication issues, as he doesn’t speak any German. I’ve assured him that their spoken English will probably be better than his (let’s face it, he’s a brummie) and for him not to worry. A has given him the phrase “My name is K…” in German as a little bit of help. I suggested a name badge.

Making stupid jokes is the way we (in our family) seem to deal with nervous moments. I think it’s so that the subject matter seems less ominous. It doesn’t mean we don’t care, it’s just our way of saying “hey don’t worry it will all be OK” without actually saying it (because we are not American).  Here’s a case in point: K developed a rather unfortunate lump on his neck a few days ago and has had to get it seen to by the doctor. She diagnosed a boil (sounds very 1950’s) and prescribed a steroid cream. T’s immediate response was to refer to it as Susan. This has now stuck firmly in all our minds and we now say “Susan’s looking better” rather than “your boil is not too bad”. It’s mainly due to relief that the lump was nothing more sinister and therefore we can be silly about it. I was rather disappointed that my comment of it being where his bolts had been removed was overtaken by the Susan comment, but you can’t win them all.

An email K received from his German colleague last week confirmed the hotel booking and the plans for collecting him from the airport. It was signed off with “we look forward to welcoming you to our house”. Of course, we said this was surely due to a Google Translate issue and that they meant “to our company offices/our place/our town”. Then, we saw the hotel booking was for bed and breakfast. Still no big deal, as no doubt they will be taking him out for food each night rather than expect him to sit alone in a hotel restaurant (for K this would be almost preferable to having to be sociable). And then, it hit me. “Welcoming you to our house” might mean exactly that and he could be dining “chez nous” as the French would say (I have no idea what the German equivalent is). Unfortunately, the kids overheard our conversation and we now have an ongoing joke that he is going to be having selfies with Helga and Wilhelm, the directors lovely kinder, while eating home-cooked bratwurst and sauerkraut. Even his Auntie S joined in when we saw them last weekend. I was slightly perturbed by his Uncle D’s comment of “watch out for the lady-boys”. K reiterated that it was Germany he was going to not Thailand, and we have since put it down to a slip of the tongue; we think he meant to say “lederhosen”.

Joking aside, we will all miss him massively while he is away. A has sneaked a letter and cuddly Panda toy (his nickname) into his suitcase, T has been giving him way more hugs (i.e. more than one) than usual and I have found myself looking at him a bit longer than I normally would (i.e. more than a few milliseconds). He has promised to FaceTime and asked if I would like him to bring back a bottle of Gin from duty-free (did he even need to ask?) so it’s not all bad. The week will soon be over and he will be back with us: annoying us with his singing, farting and general nonsense. And it will be fab.

 

 

Re: the title of the blog piece. Whenever I am a bit stressed, I get the sensation of having a lump in my throat. I first had it when we were planning our wedding and after weeks and weeks of being convinced I had throat cancer and would not make it to the wedding day, I finally plucked up the courage to see the doctor (funnily enough, the very same one that diagnosed Susan) and she gently asked me if there was anything big going on in my life, with a quick diagnosis of a stress-related phantom ‘lump’. It comes and goes at certain times but is never more apt than when waving K off this lunchtime. A true lump in the throat moment.

Table for one

There are some real bonuses to working from home, and I know I am lucky to be able to. I can get washing done, I am in for deliveries, I am around for the kids if they need me, I can attend daytime meetings at school, go for coffee or the odd cheeky lunch with friends, I can pop to the shop if I need to and pesky things like doctors appointments are easy to slot in. Its all good.

I break my week up by going into the office at least once a week and it’s nice to have company (even in the form of two belchy, sweary, sometimes grumpy, men) and chat about the lovely customers and the lovely emails that I get from them. We shout at the radio together (Jeremy Vine, we’re talking about you here) and try and answer the questions on Pop Master. It’s quite nice, especially as it’s not every day. I wouldn’t want to do it every day. I quite like my own company and don’t have any problem being on my own.

But, there are some real downsides. I haven’t been in to the office at all this week for one reason or another (T was off on study leave on Monday and no-one was going in today – my other scheduled day) and so the week has really dragged. The mains reasons for this are:-

Food – the biggest issue I have is food. I don’t raid the cupboards (well, I do sometimes but only on REALLY bad days) but I do find it hard to eat properly. I have breakfast fairly early with the kids or wait until I get back from dropping them off (another perk (?) to working flexible hours). Breakfast is fine. Lunch on the other hand is weird. I don’t see the point in making myself anything proper – it seems too much effort just for me. Occasionally I will have poached egg on toast or something like that, but rarely and I tend to just graze on random stuff: a piece of toast here, a banana and yogurt there, some oatcakes, some nuts, the list goes on. But I don’t stop and eat a proper lunch and I’m pretty sure I have eaten an entire days’ calories before I pick the kids up. Not good.

Motivation – it’s really hard to stay motivated when you are working from home on your own. Don’t get me wrong, I get the job done. I am conscientious and I take it seriously (as seriously as you can when you are dealing with the general public, who are impatiently waiting for printer ink to plop through their letterbox) and I work hard. But my job is very reactive, so I am only as busy as long as my inbox keeps getting messages in it. I have other stuff that I can do when no-one is complaining but it is called “slow burn” work for a reason – it’s boring and slow and just like the dying embers of a fire it is quite yawn-inducing. I find it hard to get myself into gear and get on with it. And when I do I generally end up with a headache or my eyes start feeling scratchy and tired. I start yawning (a lot) and want to go to sleep. Not good.

Company – some days I don’t speak to another person between taking the kids to school and picking them up again. Shouting at the radio doesn’t count (I’m talking about you again Jeremy Vine). Sometimes I can be lucky and the postie will knock the door with a package (normally for T – some freebie or other that he has been given to review) and we chat for a minute. Ok, she says “morning”, I comment on the weather (so British at times I want to scream) and we say “bye”. Not really chatting but it can be the highlight of my day. I sometimes get calls from customers, but they are generally moaning so not exactly a pleasure. I am quite happy with the radio on or music on Spotify but it can be a bit sad not to be able to turn to someone and comment on something that has been discussed or something on the news. Like yesterday, for example, when I heard the news of the attack in Westminster (*), I was horrified but my little yelp of “oh no!” went unheard. A bit like the old conundrum of the tree falling in the forest, if there is no-one to hear me do I make a noise? The biggest issue that this void of company all day causes is the irritation I then feel when someone comes in (K) or the kids come home from school. I have been alone all day, then suddenly (not really suddenly, they come home at the same time every day) I have people making noise, talking, expecting a response. Some days I embrace it, thankful to finally have someone to talk to; other days I can’t bear it, I’ve got so used to being alone. I know my mum will read this and think she needs to call me to cheer me up – she doesn’t, I will be grumpy and snappy and make her wish she hadn’t called. Not good.

So, after 3 days at home alone, and not being needed in the office today, I decided I had to get out. The weather has been very hit and miss so I didn’t want to risk a walk. Luckily, I had an excuse to go ‘out out’ as I had some stuff to return to a shop, birthday cards to buy and T needs cakes for school tomorrow, so I nipped out to a local shopping centre to get it all done in one go. While I was out, I walked past the cafe in M&S. And walked back in and had lunch. On my own. I NEVER eat out in public alone. Ever. I don’t know why, I just don’t. It’s like going to the cinema alone – I just don’t ever think of doing it. Anyway, I ordered a toasted sandwich and a pot of green tea, and I sat on my own people watching. I didn’t get my phone out for company or try and strike up a conversation with the older lady next to me. I just sat and ate my sandwich, drank my tea and did nothing. It was very nice. It has broken the day up and I don’t feel quite so grumpy. I don’t think it will be a regular thing (seems extreme to get in the car and drive 10 miles to get lunch) but I won’t be averse to the idea should the opportunity arise.

Good.

 

* Horrific events and dreadful that I feel like we have almost been waiting for something like this to occur after the incidents in other parts of Europe. I am in awe of the bravery of the people who put their lives at risk to keep us safe and thankful that we have such fantastic emergency services that deal with all this stuff, and of the kindness of strangers who wanted to help those injured. We didn’t really talk about it as a family last night as it was one of those evenings where we were all doing other stuff, but I know the kids are aware of what happened. I suspect that, a bit like when I was a kid and heard of IRA attacks, they don’t really get the enormity of these events. But, this is the world we continue to live in and we just have to hope that the message they get from all of these horrific events is that there are far more good people in the world than bad and that we all have to look out for each other.

 

 

 

 

 

Just go with it

I’m a planner. I like lists. I like to know what I’m doing and when. I cross the T’s and dot the I’s.

One thing that The Big Break taught me back in the summer is that some things can’t be planned and sometimes things happen that just stop all immediate plans and you just have to go with it. Just Go With It = My Worst Nightmare. Well, maybe not my worst nightmare – not as bad as my child being in agonising pain with a completely broken leg, but you get my drift. I had to take every day as it came, in fact on some days it was more a case of taking each few hours as they came. It sounds like I’m dramatising. I’m really not. For a control freak who has life nailed down and running like a well-oiled machine, to not be calling the shots was horrendous. Not being able to make things better for my child, not being able to take away his pain, not being able to tell him everything was going to be fine, was beyond unbearable.

I have to admit that the whole experience knocked me for six. More than six. It knocked me right out of the park. I still find it very hard to think back to That Day without getting a bit emotional. I was talking to a friend about it over dinner the other night – I haven’t seen her since T has been out of plaster and back to normal life – and found myself welling up. I apologised and said how ridiculous I was being. She told me to shut up, nicely. She has been through a good few traumas with her kids over the years and she said each and every one still made her feel emotional to talk about. Phew. I thought I was being a complete cuckoo.

Looking back through my blog, some of the posts seem like they happened to someone else. Me and A going up to London to see Wicked (I remember the day but a bit like watching it from a bit of a distance); going to clinic appointments;  A starting secondary school; A going on her school trip, etc. – I feel like I was on autopilot for it all. I think being on autopilot for a while makes it hard to come back to holding the controls and taking over again, being in charge. I’ve definitely struggled being in charge again, making plans and getting things organised.

But maybe this has had some positives:

K and I have become closer and now make more decisions together, talk about things more, plan things together more. I think he knew that I would not cope with all of the fallout from the break on my own and that I am not superhuman, despite the image I try to portray. I didn’t crumble, but I needed him. I’ve always joked that I don’t need him for much apart from putting the bins out and cleaning the school shoes, but it’s not true really. And this completely drove that home. We do need each other, we do make a good team and we can cope with stuff – together. I don’t need to be superhuman, I can ask for help.

I can cope with living day to day more. Although I will always live for weekends, just because they are the best days, I am happy to plod through the week and just wait for Friday to come along with all it’s happiness. I can cope with Monday (most weeks) and I actually quite like Thursdays now, rather than wanting to rush through them. Of course, there are some things that have to be planned and given a bit of thought, and those are fine. I still have my lists – I can’t give them up, in fact I find I need them a lot more now just to remind me of things I need to do (perhaps being on Autopilot has closed off the section of my brain that I used to keep my to-do-list in?) – and I still like to have a semblance of an idea of what we might do at the weekend, but not weeks in advance and not set in stone. Nothing in my head is set in stone any more.

Having to change or cancel ideas at the last minute no longer seems so awful. It can’t be helped sometimes and sometimes we just have to do what we have to do. I still hate being late for meetings or even just being late for coffee with a friend, but that’s because I hate rushing and don’t like being stressed! But actually people are very understanding and are far less bothered than I am by a bit of tardiness.

Yep, there are some definite positives from the whole experience. Obviously, T having no lasting effects and making a complete and full recovery are the main positives! But maybe me being a bit less of a control freak and a bit less of a planner is up there with it. I’m sure my family are happier now that I am a bit more chilled!

 

On another note, my lovely dad is having a small op this week. He hasn’t been in hospital as a patient since his early twenties (50 something years ago) so is understandably a bit nervous. We’re all a bit nervous. He has got to be there at 7am on Friday morning, he will have the op at some point during the morning and is expected to be in overnight. He should get a bed on a ward at some point, but we won’t know until we ring during the day. I’m nervous because he is having a general and I obviously want it all to go completely to plan and all be easy and straightforward because I love him to bits and want him to be all fine, but I am not going to stress about the why’s and wherefores of what time and when – because it won’t change anything. I am going to be as supportive as possible to my mum (for whom it will be far worse to be waiting to hear) and pick her up, take her where she needs to go and get it sorted. I will be thinking about him every minute of the entire day. But all we can really do it just “go with it”.