Every day I am pretty sure I do at least one thing wrong. Most days I do more. I used to think I was alone, until I talked to other parents who were honest. Here is a place for more parents to feel less alone, and more "good enough".

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Give me a reason..........................

Why do I blog? Why do I facebook?

This question has occurred to me quite frequently in recent times. I share quite a lot, that many people wouldn't share. I talk about my feelings, and my down days, and my finances. I vent, and I often share stories of my children, positive and negative.

Am I showing off? Am I attention-seeking? Am I asking for pity or help?

These are things that some people, mostly those who don't know me well, may think.

But no, none of those. If nobody read this blog, it would still be here, I would still write, because the outpouring of words is why I write. However it may not be in the same vein, I guess, as I do know people read and I do sometimes write with that in mind.

I write about money, and my financial struggles, not for pity or for help, but to raise a general awareness of the fact that living on benefits is not easy, is not all about the families you see on TV and in the Daily Mail with their 8 kids and 4 TVs and 3 dogs and holidays abroad blah de blah. I write so that people can see a real person and maybe, just maybe, will make them stop and think before judging the next person who says to them tentatively "well I stay at home at the moment but I am going to be looking for work in the future and I have worked before".............because, well, saying "I'm on benefits right now because it's how life is" is somehow seen as shameful. People quite frequently say to me that they know I'm the kind of person, in the kind of situation, where they like to see government money going, where they can understand, and like the fact that we have a benefits system in this country. And I hope, that makes people also realise that there are many people out there like me, that in fact the majority of people are like me, and the papers seize the minority and sensationalise it, like a game of Chinese Whispers when you're 9 years old. So that is why I talk about money on my blog, and on facebook, because the more transparent I am then the less I can be judged, if people dislike or judge me after transparency, then really, they're not my friend, and I'm better off knowing that and getting on with my life without them in it.

When I talk about my children, I'm not showing off, I'm being proud, I'm being anecdotal, and often I talk about the messes we've got into together, the parenting mistakes I've made and the way I have tried to make up for them. I write about this, because it is me and my feelings and who I am. And because, it is important to tell all, to show the full picture, to enable other parents to know it's not just them, they're not "bad parents", they're human and alive and this stuff happens to everyone and always will. There is far too much competition and expectations these days of how we bring up our children, and I like to try and combat that with a bit of the old unvarnished truth. But that doesn't mean I can't talk about the awesome totally cool things they've done, and if people want to call it showing off, well that's their look-out, I just call it sharing the good stuff :)

And asking for pity? Oh no. I share how I feel and some of the things that have made me feel that way, because again, there is far too much shame and shadows surrounding the world of emotional and mental health. Far too many people who are afraid to ask for help for fear of being seen as weak, or crazy, or having their children taken away from them. Too many people who don't know what to say when they ask a friend "Are you ok?" and the reply is "No actually I'm not" instead of the standard "Yeah fine thanks".

Sometimes I am asking for help, and that is ok, it is ok to ask for help, another thing that needs to be more widely accepted. Are we in this world alone? Are we on individual islands with no means of communication or travel? How ridiculous, we are part of a community and we should use our own and each others strengths to make life better, otherwise we may as well be all in isolation booths.

It is always nice to know that there is somebody out there who has been or is going through the same or something similiar to you. That you're not mad, or wrong, that you don't need to simply "get a grip".

I write this blog, because of all of these things, and because, quite simply, it's my life and I can.

Monday, 23 January 2012

I'll just get up and try again..............

Today has been one of those days that was fun and had lots of good things in like going to Ikea and buying some things we needed for the house, and buying Adam a chair for his hiding spot in the pantry so he feels he has somewhere to go when he needs a bit of a breather. And we had Chinese food for tea in honour of Chinese New Year, and fortune cookies which the children loved, especially the one that said "The important thing to remember about children, is that there are none so wonderful as your own". We watched Harry Potter 4, and Jessica has decided that she loves Harry Potter films, the same as she became obsessed with Narnia. I think it may partly be to do with the soundtracks possibly, the enchanting drawing in quality of it all?

But it was also one of those days where, again, homework became a battle that will never be won, and indeed I'm not really sure what counts as winning anymore, or who the winner in the situation would be. And where once the children had gone to bed I realised that I still had an immense amount of housework and laundry and pack lunch making and fridge cleaning and shopping list making and general tidying to do. And I was emotionally and physically tired, and I could hear Jessica coughing and just know I will be up again tonight. One of those evenings when you just really don't have all the answers and wonder why all the other parents seem to have them, why they don't seem to be having a child stressed out and in tears because they can't do their homework and they don't get reward stickers in their planner anymore and they're on the bottom table for maths and they never have time to change their reading book and they don't understand what's changed.........................I don't think having the first week of school in January off with a new teacher really helped my little 8 year old bundle of pure raw stress.....................................................

So, I am going to bed. I am going to leave the house, because even though I promised Adam we would keep it tidy from now on, sometimes, Mum's aren't perfect. Sometimes, we just need a night off. And it will come back to bite me tomorrow, but I'm tired, and cry-ey, and really unsure what to do about this newest challenge in the "Things they didn't tell you about parenting" book of life, and I think tomorrow me and Jessica might just have to put some loud music on and have a race to clean the house. Or something like that. It's not the greatest week for me to have a meltdown, since Adam is not sleeping at my mum's tomorrow and neither of them are sleeping at their Dad's on Thursday, but then again they are away all weekend so at least I can have a major rest and clean up then................well, not at the same time, but still 2 days with no children is an ocean of time in my life, so much can be done, including sleep! I will have to miss band practice this week, but this can not be helped, and although I have promised to go in this blog, having my children is an allowable exception. And maybe this week is a good time to have a break, last week, I seemed to see ghosts of the past every time I looked up, and even though I could play this Sunday as the children won't be with me, something in my head just stops me, there's a block there. I think, I am scared, of reminders and memories coming knocking through my walls. I would like to layer new memories on top of the old ones, like a layer of varnish that prevents them coming through, but I'm scared that trying to do so will revive and re-awaken them. And it's not somewhere I wish to go. I think this needs some more pondering on, before I make a decision.

So, I have decided, it is bed time. Everything, including making packed lunches, can wait until tomorrow. Jam sandwiches shall be the order of the day and I refuse to feel bad, after all it is St Dalfour no sugar or nasty chemical jam, after all ;) And I found this song. I like this song. It is a good song to end the day on, for tomorrow is a new day, and I shall start again. Don't skip listening to the song today, it's an important one x.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

This one's for you..................

This is another funny one. A good time to be ill? The children timed it perfectly with their chickenpox, after I'd finished work, after the Christmas festivities, and whilst they had lots of new toys to play with whilst stuck at home. The weather was rubbish and despite the itching and lack of sleep it was nice to have some family "time-in". Now, it appears I am ill, and it is also a good time. I suddenly developed a bone-aching cough at around midnight last night (or this morning, depending on your take on the matter), and didn't get back to sleep until after 5am. I didn't even doze as I sat on the computer playing Japanese number puzzles to try and take my mind off the fact I was unable to even breath without it being followed by a bone-aching coughing fit. My shoulders, arms and wrists ache every time I get one of these coughs, I'm not really sure on the reason but just put it down to my weak wrists and imagine I will most likely get arthritis of some description when I'm older. Ah well, there are worse things in life, or so I'm told anyway :P
But it is a good time for this. This week I have really kept up with my own personal take on the FlyLady routines, and my house is gorgeously clean and homely, a lovely place to curl up and watch TV in whilst I get better. I couldn't really have timed it better. I do have the children back at 5.30pm, but I also have James coming over after work and to stay all Sunday too, so all will be good. Have been offered a lift to the Army on Sunday morning as well, so feeling very settled right now. Things appear to be falling into place rather well. I guess, when you take the bull by the horns and decide it is the right time, then the right time comes along. 

Ecclesiastes 3

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot

A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build

A time to weep and a time to laugh
A time to mourn and a time to dance

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain

A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away

A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak

A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace.

I'm not feeling overly great, and appear to have completely forgotten how to move photos from my blackberry to here. I will ask James to re-teach me, and will be back very soon with pics from this new time in my family - of leaf piles, buns, nail varnish and the re-emergence of Adam's World War II obsession :D

I'll leave you with this.......................it's stuck in my head, and it's not really aimed at a particular person, I think rather just the whole of my life and the people and places in it right now..........................I chose this version more because the video is more "me" than the Elton John one, usually I would go for the original but the images in this sum up much of what are really the best times in life.....................just to be.

Friday, 6 January 2012

"These Are The Days So Wake Up 'Cos This Is The Time...."

"......And You Know I'm Right"

And so it begins, a new phase of time. Now, I must make a point, that I am not one of those annoying "New Year, New Me" types, who make loads of resolutions and then breaks them in a week.  I don't really do resolutions. For me, this is a new phase because I have stopped working and am staying at home, because I am approaching the "met a year ago" mark with James, and it just so happens that this coincides with a new year. If it was May, it would still be a new phase of time for me.

So, I have shifted my List of the Year around a bit. Deleted some things that I'd either achieved or have realised are no longer important. Have edited some things that I want to change the focus of. Have added some new things that I'd like to try and work on. You may notice a subtle shift in priorities, towards a mellower, more  chilled out existence, focused on home life and the smaller more important things in life, such as crafting and gardening and playing and reading and just basically enjoying life, unrefined basic life, with all the fancy bits stripped away.

It's going to be rather an exciting fun year. There's a couple of weddings, probably more to be planned for 2013/4 with the recent engagements that have been announced, lots of babies to be born to some really lovely Mummy's, and a few other plans afoot to make it a year to look forward, a year of change, but positive gentle natural moving forward change, rather than forceful take the wind out of your sails change. I am rather organised, having bought Jessica's birthday presents in a rather amazing sale, and have actually managed to find a decent hiding place for them :O

It's all looking good, and going well, for some reason I feel rather quiet, rather thinkative, I don't think I'm feeling foreboding, I'm genuinely happy and positive about the near (and far) future. Maybe it's just because I can be quiet, I have time to be quiet, without too many thoughts of work and study and childcare arrangements crowding in on the already busy thoughts of children and family and house and bills and school and friends and life in general. After only one week of not being at work, I really am not sure how I managed to fit it in. Of course, this could have something to do with both children waking up with chicken pox on New Years Day. Picture the scene, getting Jessica dressed, lift up her tshirt and "Oh." Shout up the stairs "James, Jessica has chicken pox again!". Mention on facebook that Jessica has chicken pox again. Five minutes later, Adam says he has a spot on his stomach. Lift up his pj top to reveal a back covered in spots. Shout up the stairs "James, Adam has chicken pox too.......again.........this is the THIRD time!!". James decides he'd best get out of bed at this point....................Mention on facebook that Adam now also has chicken pox. Have a comment that only my children could get chicken pox more than once or twice :P
So. A week stuck in the house. An extended school holiday for Adam. But strangely, it was fine. I wouldn't exactly say I was glad they had chicken pox or enjoyed them being ill, but what I did actually quite like was that I managed it well, I didn't have to worry about being off work or losing money, I didn't have to feel guilty about leaving them with other people, and my frame of mind in general just got on with it and it was fine, even the sleepless nights were dealt with without too much stress.

So, bizarrely, a severe bout of chicken pox has actually made this new phase of time begin with a good positive start. If I can handle that and still remain happy and settled, then really, that has to be a good sign.

"The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want"

Ben Stein (American Actor, Lawyer, Writer, b.1944)