Planning panning…

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I am a chronic over planner. Not in that everything is meticulously planned (I’m also a huge ‘off the cuff-er’!) but in that we often find ourselves with weeks without any spare nights, or lunch breaks, or time for tea (scratch that, there’s always ways for tea to be incorporated!).
So at any given time, somebody we really care about is in a show, somebody we care about is playing a gig, and someone we care about is celebrating a birthday. The fantastic thing about mixing business with pleasure is that it creates a huge group of amazing diverse people that we mix with, the problem with mixing business with pleasure is that, for example, we would dearly love to go and watch Urinetown with people we know involved, but it’s people we know from working in St Ives…who live in Glasgow, which is where the show is on!

And whether it’s someone we know socially or someone we’ve worked with, we genuinely want to see everyone in what they’re doing. The only two problems are time and money! So at the moment, one friend is doing scare tours at Kenilworth Castle, one is in a production of Henry V in Birmingham, the aforementioned friends are involved in Urinetown in Glasgow, a childhood friend is playing gigs in town, another is in a show at The Globe, another is opening a new show in Worcester, another is performing throughout the Cotswolds, we’re involved with a show in Bath, two in London, two in Cheltenham and another touring the UK. (I’ve probably missed a few out, apologies if I have!) At the same time, a close friend has a Christening today, a family member is starting to do new type of dance classes, it’s my brothers birthday in a couple of days, and there’s some other stuff going on that we’re on ‘last minute head over to’ if needed. The list could go on, and it’s the same for lots of people, especially a lot of the people in a similar line or type of work. We all work hard, build connections with people we work with, and want to support each other as much as we can. The truth is, we just can’t do it all, and it’s a skill in itself being honest about that to ourselves! 

The reasons for making one show and not another is most usually just circumstance, whether we have that night off, what our finances look like that week, geography (we really can’t often go all the way to Glasgow as much as we always want to!). 

To be honest, the answer to the ‘how are you’ question to most people we know is, ‘good, busy.’ That response is the international phrase for, ‘I have a million and one things to do, and several difficult things in my life but I don’t have time to talk about it, let alone get on top of it.’ We’re all doing our best duck impression, (and I don’t mean pouting!) gliding along the surface, but paddling like mad underneath to keep afloat.

And we all want to make sure we’re there for our nearest and dearest, so if one friend is in a show an hour away, and another is an hour away and going through a hard time, we’re all likely to choose to post a ‘well done’ on the first persons wall, and head round to the second friends with a cuddle and a bottle of something. And hopefully all our close friends know that whatever’s happening, if they need to come round for a cuddle, it’s more important than whatever else is going on, even if we might need a cuddle back. That stuffs really important, and vital to remain sane!

This week, we were hosting a Halloween party at ours. But we put it in the diary a few months ago, when that week was otherwise empty. It got full, really full, with professional matters AND personal matters. All of a sudden, there was no one overbearing reason to cancel, but we realised we couldn’t really manage it. I have an inner ear infection at the moment, not big, just enough to make me feel a bit dizzy! A family member has been poorly, and we wanted to be on hand in case we were needed. We didn’t have any days off this week, so we were both tired and a bit drained. So we cancelled. No main reason, just…we’re not doing it now we’re sorry. I worried ALL day the day we cancelled that people would be angry or annoyed, because, after all, there was no ‘real excuse’ to cancel. 

HOWEVER, what we got instead was one friend saying he was glad as he was still trying to rearrange work to make it and it was stressing him out a bit, one saying they were exhausted and was secretly quite excited to have a now empty upcoming evening (and hoped we weren’t offended by them saying so), and three people messaging because they’re working all weekend and were pleased they might be able to make a rearranged date. 

In the end we just had our siblings round for the evening, had a quiet dinner and solved a homemade mystery my husband devised especially for the four of us which was a real giggle and the tonic we needed. Apart from a knock at the door from a big group of some VERY cute trick or treaters (which then led to us dressing Scarlett up as a badass vampire slayer complete with toy chainsaw…although don’t ask why we have a toy chainsaw hanging around..!) it was the quieter, family night we all sorely needed. 

Sometimes, it needs to be ok for us to say, I’m sorry I’m not doing that, without having to feel like you have to write an essay of excuses to justify yourself (which I am terrible for doing, I always feel really guilty unless there’s what could be deemed a ‘valid’ excuse). The truth is, we’re all really busy, and stressed, and got lots of things going on.

We all need to prioritise ‘being ok’, having some time out, and sometimes doing little or nothing. People understand exactly what you mean when you say ‘It’s just all a bit much at the moment so I’m dialling down’. And anyone who gives you a hard time about it, perhaps isn’t being a good enough friend. (Or perhaps really wishes they could choose the do the same but feel like they can’t!)

Now I don’t mean it’s ok to just keep sacking off your friends and family at last minute! On the contrary; sometimes if there’s a friend or family member in need, other things need to be dropped. So if I ‘plan’ to have a relaxing night watching old episodes of Greys Anatomy in my pyjamas and then I hear that a friend has lost their job and is upset, pyjamas Greys has to be shelved! 

But what I mean is, we all get it. Life is busy for us all. Our door is always open to people we care about (members of our village – which will make sense to regular readers from my last post!). Always. 

I suppose my main point here is that I’m terrible for over committing and I know a lot of people who are the same; we had a DnD night booked recently (I know, we are super cool!) and we started to wonder if we should still hold it, and then the day of the event, two of the confirmed participants cancelled. One with the reason given as ‘I’m not sure it’s best for my family for me to be out again tonight’. Fair enough, and very well chosen. We ended up having a quiet night with a very close member of our village (I realise every time I write this that I sound like a cult member…I promise it’s not!). We’d all over subscribed ourselves, and it worked for us all to cancel. So even if there’s an event cancelled that you’d been looking forward to, don’t be annoyed even if you think there’s not a good enough reason for it. Remember the times you’ve had an event on that you didn’t feel up to and felt like you needed a better excuse to say no to. Or, even more aptly, think about the time you went to an event feeling crappy, and left feeling just as crappy and wishing you’d stayed at home and in bed, perhaps with people wondering what was up with you. We all get it (those that don’t are not the people in the right, it’s not ok to feel guilt tripped into attending things under the guise of ‘being a bad friend if you don’t’!) and we all need to have a break and look after ourselves and those closest to us.

We are hoping to catch as many of our hugely talented friends in as many of the shows that they’re in over the next couple of months, and we’ll hopefully see some of them at our Winter tour of Hound of the Baskervilles. And I know a lot of them will want to, but it will be ok if they don’t make it. They mean more to us than ticket sales! Whether it’s Theatre, or sport, or any other career, those in my life have my complete and full support whether I can physically be with them or not. And they (should hopefully) all know that. It’s a cliche when people thank everyone for their well wishes on FB, but it’s genuine. We are all busy people, and even if the odd social media nod is all we have time for that day or that week, we are all in each other’s hearts. And even if there’s a few cancelled plans here and there, knowing we’re worth something to others, is pretty awesome. If you’re in my life (whether we see each other a lot or not) you are important and you mean a lot to me. And when I can, I’ll be at your show, your promotion party, I’ll buy your book, I’ll share your Facebook page. BUT, if I don’t, it’s for a good (not necessarily public) reason even if it’s not a big dramatic reason. But know that if you really need us, we’ll be there, and we’ll cancel plans, get in a bottle of wine and make up the spare room if need be. And likewise if we need some family time, or feel like we’ll fall down if we try and fit in any more, or jut want a night in with a bath, we’ll take the time out. So please, feel free to cancel on us or say no to an invite, we’ll do the same, and we can all stop feeling bad about it! We matter, you matter, it’s ok to say ‘not today’ and hide under your duvet if you need to instead or hide under ours if you like! Sending huge amounts of love to you all comrades.

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Baby enforced break..

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Today, my littlest Ladey has been easing my pain. I’ve had an itchy ear for months, for the last week I’ve been feeling a bit dizzy, and last night it went from annoying to really painful, and this morning the ear started bleeding. It’s nothing serious, I got it checked out today, and I’m going back in a few days to make sure it’s cleared up or is clearing and in the meantime I’m going to just have a quiet couple of days while I get my balance back and the ear clears up! 
Scarlett isn’t with me on Tuesdays, and my husband is at work, so Holly came with me to my appointment. When we got home I ran a bath to try and relax a bit. I put our baby in her static walker with some toys next to the bath and hopped in. She wasn’t happy about it, normally she happily plays while I have a soak and chat to her but today she was really agitated. 

And so I picked her up, stripped her off and lay her on my chest in the bath. And I suddenly realised, my God I needed this. 

I have spent the last few days worrying about the dizziness and ear pain without mentioning it, and I’ve been stressing out without even knowing why I had a knot in my stomach or that anxious feeling in my chest. But then with my baby suddenly quiet and still lying with me, I felt the pent up emotions dissolve into quiet tears. 

Why so stressed about ear pain? I’m not really, it was a focus point. As soon as I exhaled and let go of the tension I realised; I’m nervous about my new job and hope all my preparatory work is ok, I’m anxious about doing all I can to make sure Scarlett has the best support at home alongside the nursery. I’m worried about ensuring I have calculated enough in these last couple of months of retained leave to make sure we’re ok financially. I’m conscious of keeping on top of everything and not letting anything fall through the gaps, and I’m not getting enough sleep, to name a few! 

None of these are unusual, we all have a thousand and one worries in our heads at any given time. We all try and catch it all like balloon strings to make sure nothing slips out of our grasp. And we all work as hard as we can to support ourselves and our loved ones while trying to ensure we do the things that are important and that we’re passionate about. 

And SOMETIMES, we have to let go of at least some of the strings and trust that there’s a ceiling there that is within our reach so we don’t go mad, or pass a few of them onto a comrade that has a hand free!

My husband text me today when I updated him to tell me that tonight I was not to do ANYTHING but relax, and let him take care of some things that needed doing. He’s amazing and I will no doubt have another good cry on his shoulder later tonight! And it’s a huge relief to know my teammate is there, on side, ready to pick up any balls I need to drop.

But for now I feel a bit like I have the best form of therapy, or the most powerful healing pill. As I type, I am breathing slowly in time with my beautiful (now sleeping) baby girl with the bath water surrounding us and her little arms wrapped round my neck like she knew. She knew Mummy needed a quiet cuddle to cry and let all the stresses of a fast paced, busy schedule go.

By the end of today I will feel much better and I will be ready to face tomorrow with a renewed vigour. Because nothing is really ‘wrong’, I’m not feeling my best, and life gets on top of us all sometimes. 

And I know a lot of us are too hard on ourselves. We work day in day out to keep up with this 24/7 lifestyle that’s needed to keep afloat and succeed these days! We’re checking emails and replying straight away, but not being too stuck to our computers. We’re eating kale because it’s good for the heart, but we’re saying yes to a brownie because life’s too short. We’re getting plenty of sleep but getting up an hour earlier to fit in yoga and staying up later to make sure everything’s done. Everyone is doing their best! But sometimes, sometimes we need to run a bath, have a cuddle, have a cry, tell yourself everything’s going to be ok, acknowledge that you’re doing your best and that’s all that can be expected of you. Give yourself a break, exhale. 

And everyone needs good teammates around them, people who will hold the strings, pick up the balls, support you as you support them. And sometimes we need to make sure we’re asking for help! It’s often much easier to deal with someone else’s problem than it is to deal with your own, swapping can often make a huge difference, or at least gain a perspective from someone who has your best interest at heart and won’t judge you as harshly as you judge yourself! 

My bath time cuddle came at a perfect time, and it reminded me that I needed to stop and break a little bit. My to do list hasn’t disappeared, the stresses won’t indefinitely stay away, but I really needed this perfect moment, and it feels like my seven month old choreographed it for me! 

If anyone else is feeling the stress or struggling under your life load, PLEASE give yourself a break. Stop for at least twenty minutes and let yourself off all the hooks your hanging yourself from. Everything’s going to be ok. 

Vive La Village!

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In Grey’s Anatomy, they have a real group effort when it comes to bringing their children up. I have it on good authority from a TV production student friend that it’s a common method in TV series of realistically bringing a child into a show. Apparently in ‘real life’, when you have a baby, parents tend to disappear; for at least a year, you wouldn’t see them at the hospital apart from maybe a cameo in one episode when they may pop in to say hello. However, in several episodes of Grey’s (I promise I don’t base all of my life decisions according to Grey’s Anatomy storyli…oh forget it, yes I do.) they talk about their tight group being a village.

Another common TV series theme is apparently having distant family members, for various reasons, and it means that they don’t have to write in family as a regular feature. And in Grey’s, they all have their fair share of family issues (and of course the title characters tend to all become very closely intertwined!)

Now, I don’t have family issues (Ha! As if any family has NO issues!) what I mean is, I know all my family and we’re all very close; and they are a frequent feature of our lives. BUT, the notion of having a village 1) hugely appeals to my ideal lifestyle and 2) can also apply very well to people in our lines of work/lifestyle. I know that sounds a bit like I want an entire workforce of people to take care of my children but that’s not what it’s about (I wouldn’t say no to a workforce some days but still..!).

When you bring up children you start to decide how you’d like them to grow up, what sort of people you’d like them to be, and it makes you think of the type of people you’d like them to be surrounded by. In Grey’s, (listen, just deal with it, this blog entry is practically sponsored by Grey’s, so there’s going to be lot of references..!) the kids will grow up surrounded by surgeons, hello fantastic role models. Admittedly they all keep nearly getting blown up, or shot, or in plane crashes but luckily even real life doesn’t tend to be THAT dramatic! In our life, we have a very theatrical and liberal/freelance group around us. And we have an open household, and a very busy/social lifestyle. We’re considered to have kind of a ‘different’ lifestyle; but the more people we meet, the more I’m starting to think that we’re not all that different really. BUT…we do have a village.

Meredith has a house where, at several points, colleagues/friends and family members stay with her and/or come in and out of the house. And in one episode when someone asks about it she says ‘They are family, and I love my family, and they will always be welcome in my home’. And I feel EXACTLY the same. Some of our ‘frequent flyers’ ARE family…like, by blood and everything. But the other people who are frequently with us or a big part of our life are also our family, it’s who we choose to be around our girls, around us and generally a part of our village!

As in Grey’s, (seriously get over it, I just flipping love this programme) not everyone suits that kind of lifestyle, and that’s fine, not everyone in our life has to be family OR ‘family’! I’m a big family kind of girl, all in, all welcome, if things get bad, turn up at our door kind of deal. It goes both ways, the people in our village bring a huge amount to our lives. (I now realise that as I type I sound a bit like we’re part of a cult…it’s not like that I promise, it’s just a one off vial of blood we require when you join…I’M OBVIOUSLY KIDDING)

Anyway, it’s true, the first year of having a baby is quite crazy, and your lifestyle definitely changes dramatically. But personally I feel like we owe it to our girls to show them more than just a life of baby groups and women as Mums and wives. (VERY IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER – thousands of people CHOOSE to be stay at home Mums and there is NOTHING wrong with that, part of what women at the turn of the 20th century fought for was that choice. I personally want to show my daughters as many different options as I can. If either of them, or both of them choose to be stay at home Mums, I will be thrilled, as long as they’re happy, I’ll be 100% behind them. What’s important is the choice.) Which brings me to the next part of todays blog post, my gratitude for my village, and specifically, the women in it.

The choice for women used to be very simple, have children and take care of them at home, or be a hard hitting career women and be a secretary with no children. This is obviously hyperbole, there are some amazing figures in history that defied the options and paved the way. My point is, there were not very many options for women to take. Now, we can do anything! AND have a family…I’ll pause for the shock to sink in…

There are some brilliant parents in my village. Much the same as some of the female characters in Grey’s (props to Shonda for some AMAZING female role models) Mum’s are badass. I love all the Mums in my life and their varying parenting styles have become the manual for what I’m doing. But there are also the women in my life (who have children or don’t, being a Mum isn’t a ‘one option’ choice); but are inspirations for different reasons. Whether because; they’re passionate about education and are working incredibly hard to get to where they want to be; or they’re abroad travelling and we only get to speak on Facebook every few weeks to swap stories; or they’re working on a scientific study despite the EU funding being dropped; or they’re running a Montessori style nursery and giving my daughter the best start in their schooling; or many other awesome things. My point is, there are some really kick ass females in my life and in my village and I LOVE that. And what’s even better, is the strength and support between all those women. I will go to the ends of the earth for whatever my daughters want to achieve, and they will know that that’s how women are with each other because they will have grown up seeing the people around them succeed, and support each other, and help each other in the inevitable tough times. And so it will be second nature to them.

So my TV student friend is correct to a point; TV shows use a variety of techniques to work round any filming issues they may face, but she was wrong on another account – becoming a parent isn’t a resignation from ‘real life’, it really depends what you want your real life to be. Now I’m fully aware that Grey’s Anatomy is not real life – or at least that’s what I tell my therapist to keep her off my back about her ‘living through a TV show’ theory…! But one of the reasons I really love the show is because of the ethos, the role models, the themes and the relate-ability (relate-ability to a point of course…remember that time it turned out I had a half sister who was a first class surgeon but then she died in a plane crash a year after I was shot..? Yeah me neither!). And I LOVE the village analogy the programme has given me, I love the idea of a community. Do I want my daughters to grow up with their only influences being just me and my husband? Hell no! I have no problem admitting that we are both very flawed! Don’t get me wrong, so is everyone, but at least within a community, they’ll have plenty of help getting on top of any inherited flaws!

In the programme (last Grey’s reference I promise!), they are all very involved in each others lives; a lot of the people in our village are extremely busy, or in a lot of cases, don’t live close to us to be in and out of our lives more than a couple of times a year but this distance doesn’t make them any less important in our life. Similarly, we don’t have to be in each others pockets to know we’re all there! In fact often, such a busy schedule makes us appreciate time to ourselves all that much more, it enables us to really cherish time as a couple or time as a four. And certainly the other people in our lives have their own stuff on when they’re not here playing games or working with us or dressing up in silly outfits because we’ve decided on some ridiculous theme (which happens more than I care to admit but I LOVE how much people join in and embrace our ways, it’s why their our family!) so we don’t expect to see them all, all the time!

Anyway, it may be a fictional series with fictional characters, but our village is real, its awesome and I wouldn’t have my life, (however left field it may sometimes feel!) any other way! *Credits roll and theme tune plays*

Nostalgic New Look…

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I’m having an affair…

Yes you’re right, that definitely needs more explanation!

When I met my husband, he had quite short hair and quite substantial stubble, a young guy with a traditionally tall dark and handsome look. He soon grew his trademark beard with slightly longer hair. It’s a distinguished, classically handsome, film star type look (I’m obviously bias but the ‘film star’ definition was actually given to him from a few people at a wedding we went to a year ago!).

He’s had this bearded look for three years now, and he’s extremely well known and recognisable for it.

However, the other day, for a bit of a shake up and change of image (probably because we’re both naturally dramatic but something we both enjoy doing every so often!) he shaved off the beard and had his hair cut short, he looks, almost identical to how he looked when we first met, which for a lot of people who have entered his life post beard, has been quite a shock. Because he looks different, like REALLY different. He practically looks like another person!

There’s something excitingly nostalgic about the new look, it’s reminded me of when we first got together, I’ve found myself suddenly being a bit giggly round him! Seriously, the last few days it’s felt a bit like we’re dating again, and it’s brought back those ‘beginning of a relationship’ type butterflies, as if I’m carrying on with someone new all of a sudden!

The girls noticed the big change, Scarlett keeps telling him that he’s ‘lost his hat’! Holly keeps going to grab his beard (another of the motivations for getting rid of it for a while!) and then seeming quite confused! He shaved in front of them so they wouldn’t be too freaked out but the looks on their faces was definitely a picture.

His hair grows very fast and so before the end of the year it’ll be back to it’s more commonly known state, and it’ll likely stay there for another few years before another image shake up(!). But for now, I’m enjoying a little foray back into our first dating days. I started our relationship with an intellectual crush on my husband which has always continued throughout. However the other day, I discovered that I also have a bit more of a slightly more shameless ‘blush when he winks at me/electricity inducing’ crush that I try and pretend that at 31 I’m far too intellectual and sensible to have…! And let’s be honest, sometimes, it’s nice to feel like a teenager again (without those horrible teenage side effects.!).

Anyway, just a quick post today to acknowledge how much I fancy my husband (…!), now where did I put that red dress from 2013..!

Right to Roar…

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I had the following discussion about roaring with two other parents today (bear with me it will make sense further along..!). My husband and I frequently say things about our children in a jokey way, in a way that only close family or very few very close friends can. Our children are our worlds, and if anyone else made the same jokes about them, we make sure they don’t have much influence in our daughters lives!
This may seem hypocritical. If we can joke about the girls being a*%holes, why can’t someone else say they are? Firstly, we say it affectionately, no other two children mean as much to us as they do. They are our absolute world. So no-one really thinks that we think those things about them. Secondly, its the same with all families, you can criticise your own, you don’t criticise other people’s, it’s not on. Family relationships are unlike any other, you can be terrible to one another sometimes because you’re so close. It sounds ridiculous but we all know it to be true.
Some people however, seem to think it’s ok not only to join in on those jokes (sometimes ok if they’re involved or part of the situation), but to make them without you being involved, to instigate them. To say ‘funny’ jokes or make comments about someone else’s children or family (not ok). 

I’m quite fussy with who looks after my children. It’s important to me that they’re around positive influences. Positive in several different types of ways. And for me that includes being able to know that when we’re not there, they’re not going to be told negative things about themselves. We may teasingly tell them they’re nightmares after a sleepless night, but our priority is always to make sure they know how much we adore them, and all manner of positive things.

So a friend today was upset because someone they know had told their child (when babysitting) that ‘their parents were right, they were a demon child’, ‘as a joke’. The child was upset and asked their parents about it. She asked myself and another parent if she was being unreasonable by being annoyed with this person. Our faces said it all. Not at all. Not cool. Strike that babysitter off the contact list! 

It got me thinking, it’s a running joke with some of the people in our life that we are quite blunt and can be scathing about our girls. It’s also a VERY widely known fact that we cherish and adore our two daughters. I’ve always assumed that it’s a given that it is NOT ok for other people to be blunt and scathing!! And there have been times when someone has made a ‘joke’ that we don’t find funny, and we don’t make a big deal out of it, but we always notice and we tend to ensure that those people don’t look after our kids or be around them without us there.

At the moment my baby girl is keeping me awake most of the night, she’s really struggling with teething, and Scarlett is a two year old going through a typical toddler stage. So they are not easy, no children are. My husband and I make jokes to get through the bad parts. One of my close friends and old housemates is a firefighter, he used to make the most horrific jokes after coming home from a particularly difficult shift. Like, REALLY terrible. HOWEVER, there is no way the rest of us would make similar comments or jokes, it would be totally inappropriate. He had the right to, it’s a way of dealing with the tough parts of an incredibly rewarding job. And even on a less dramatic scale, we all have in jokes and teasing between very close friends, if people outside of that get involved in a less than affectionate way, it’s not ok!

I said this to the two mums today a we agreed that if the person in question is over 21, they’re old enough to know that it’s a dick move! After a couple of cups of tea, a lot of laughing, and sharing of stories, my friend felt better and I gave both my girls an extra big cuddle! 

But as parents we all question ourselves, all the time. And we all have the right to be lions or lionesses when it comes to our pride. But so many parents are all the time questioning themselves, and that includes times they’re not sure they’re being over sensitive or over protective. And it’s not just about your children, if you think you need to roar because some jackass thinks they’re being funny or makes a hurtful comment about your best friend, or your Uncle, or anyone else you care about, you shake back that mane and ROAR!

Anxious Action…

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I wrote the below a couple of nights ago in the early hours, then debated whether to post it. But the blog is for my daughters in the future, and on the offchance they have similar fears or problems, I’m sticking to my ‘keep it all’ policy! 

Tonight was an important night. I haven’t spoken much about it and I didn’t talk to anyone but my husband about it, however dear friends; tonight I went out on my own. 
A year ago I was three months pregnant with Holly, and my health began to deteriorate, my kidneys got to a pretty dire state, and my epilepsy reached an all time high (in the worst sense of the word). So at around that time, I was advised to have someone with me I knew whenever I went anywhere. And we realised, that it wouldn’t be difficult because since being pregnant with Scarlett, I hadn’t been anywhere on my own. This at first sounds a bit mental, but I don’t drive, and so I used to get picked up by colleagues for work, and my husband and I go out together an awful lot, and since Scarlett, we’d had a lot of family and friends around in that first year. Without noticing, I’d started a nervous pattern of not going on my own places. The epilepsy had returned in my first pregnancy but not in a severe way, but it had been enough to mean I ensured I was always with somebody I knew.
However, the second pregnancy kicked off a whole new level of anxiety. By the time January came around, my Dad had moved in with us and my husband put almost all of the work he had on, on hold for three months so not only did I not go out on my own, I wasn’t on my own at home. As my seizures got so frequent, I had a few worrying falls, and I would have someone i with me almost all of the time. I remember very little of those last few months, it was very confusing at the time and I frequently didn’t remember what was going on. Post it’s adorned our bedroom, and my phone notes became my go to. I even had an album of people I saw regularly with descriptions of who they were that I would refer to if I found myself in a conversation with someone who was in my lounge but suddenly unfamiliar. This inevitably brought some humorous times as well as frightening. On one occasion, I read in my notes, “we’re having a Thai takeaway tonight and will order from…” etc, and by the time my husband got home from work at 10pm, despite having had dinner, there was not one, but two Thai takeaways that my bewildered Dad had had to answer the door to. An occasion that I’m often reminded of, and one I barely remember happening!!

Anyway, back to the point. Through this, I developed a rather severe case of social anxiety. I’d want people to come visit, but I’d panic that I’d have a seizure, or forget who they were and freak out. I’m ashamed to admit it but I can be a very proud person in the negative sense of the word. I don’t like being out of control of myself, and the thought that I might upset someone or embarrass myself was very upsetting. There were several social occasions I had to ‘get through’, concentrating so hard on not losing the conversation thread or not appearing vacant, that I’d be absolutely exhausted afterwards. The most heartbreaking was Scarlett, I never didn’t know who she was, and seeing her always made my face light up and made me happy even if I got a bit confused. But I wasn’t allowed to carry her, or be with her on my own, for her and my safety and THAT was the hardest part of it all. How to explain to a one year old that Mummy couldn’t be with her again. I look back now, and I realise that what everyone said at the time about her forgetting that stage and not being affected is absolutely true. We have an incredible bond and I love having time with my mini pea, and she knows she can come to Mummy and climb all over me whenever she wants (being gentle if I’m holding Holly of course!). But at the time, I thought she’d eventually hate me, not want to come near me, be scared of me etc etc, the list of paranoid worries goes on!!

Once Holly was born, the seizures almost immediately ceased. I still get a bit confused at times and have to just go over in my head or with my husband what’s going on; in Malta on holiday one morning when I’d had no sleep at all, my poor long suffering partner had to gently go through where we were and what was happening before I sorted it out in my head and could continue. So at my six week check and an additional 12 week check, I was told that the restrictions that were on while pregnant could be lifted. And I HUGELY enjoyed spending time with my two little girls on my own. Because all of a sudden I wasn’t a ‘danger’ to the three most important people to me, I could be ‘allowed’ to be with them by myself. After some time, I even took a huge (for me) step and took them both out on my own, and it was AWESOME! 

However, they were now a bit of a safety blanket. A few months down the line and I realised that although I do spend a lot of time with the girls by myself, even a day in London with them, going on a boat trip, attending an interview, regular jet setter(..!), I still hadn’t been out by myself by myself (if that makes sense?!). Clearly I wasn’t overly worried about epilepsy, or else I would feel comfortable out and about with the girls. So I knew from quite early on I’d been left with some residual psychosomatic anxiety. 

I’d been thinking (borderline obsessing!) about this for about 12 weeks. I kept finding opportunities to take a little trip out alone, and then changing it, or inviting someone to ‘meet me at mine’ instead or just cancelling for what I felt at the time were decent reasons but was actually, looking back, just an excuse because I wasn’t quite ready.

But tonight. Tonight I was going to see a friend in an event at a local literature festival, it was 15 minutes walk from home and lasted one hour. My husband and I are so busy in the next week or so that we were at the end of babysitting favours, and as he has a writing deadline coming up, it was decided that I should go and he’d take care of the kids. ‘No worries’ I thought, I’ll go with a mutual friend…who was busy. I text a few other people, but to cut a long story short (which I haven’t really done so far, sorry comrades!), I found myself at 5.30pm today, due to leave in just over an hour and sweating profusely. This was it, this was leaving the house totally on my own on my own. No husband by my side to squeeze my hand if we went through a busy crowd of people, no daughters to occupy me (and hide behind!), if I was going, I was going alone. To a place with a location I wasn’t 100% sure of.

Before I carry on, let me express to you how ridiculous this will seem to people who know me. My entire life I have been fiercely independent, ready for adventure, and due to my often crazy schedule, happy to go alone anywhere, my old housemates used to think I was a bit mad going to the cinema alone but I loved it! I’ve travelled alone, I’ve lived alone, alone have never been something that’s worried me before. Sorry…back to the narrative…

In my head I flip flopped between not going and going 700 times. I thought about various things; ‘my throats quite sore at the moment’ (but I’m definitely not under the weather enough not to go), ‘there’s that email I haven’t replied to’ (but I’m not expected to till Monday, the list went on. For someone who has supposed to have their crap together, I really am a mess!

Now I can’t do a dramatic reveal as in my first sentence I gave out an important spoiler, but after much psyching myself up and talking to myself in the mirror, ‘you have a PhD for christs sake, pull yourself together woman’! I went out. I arrived after a fifteen minute journey of jumping a couple of times because of a car horn or something stupid. I arrived and didn’t know where to go within the venue which threw me momentarily. But I did it. 

And I had a really nice evening, and then on the way home I remembered how much I used to enjoy solitary walks to clear my head (I still jumped when a motorbike revved ahead of me but baby steps and all that..!). I was SO excited to get home to my husband and tell him I’d done it, and I arrived back to a stiff drink, and the PS4 controller being handed to me to play Resident Evil (which likely sounds very strange but was a big treat!). And now I know I can do it. I won’t promise that if I’m going somewhere alone, I won’t falter a bit, or make an excuse to get out of something when I suddenly realise I’m going it totally alone, but that’s ok. I know I can do it, and I know it all fine, but on the occasions where I’m not quite there, I’m not going to let it set me back.

The lingering effects of traumatic events or difficult periods of our lives are often long lasting and silent. Long past the time when those around you actively thinks of it as a problem, which is understandable; we all have busy lives, and we simply don’t have time to remember each and every little thing that might effect everyone around us based o past events. We all get on with it as best we can. Which often means that leftover issues don’t necessarily get dealt with, which is how we all become so uniquely messed up in our own way!! Which I say with love because none of us get out of life alive, and we all have various scars and bumps and bruises along the way, they’re just all very different jumps, bruises and scars! So although some people’s fears seem strange to us, it’s not our right to decide they shouldn’t feel that way, we have no idea what journey they’d been on to feel like that. We should help each other, and be kind to each other, but always remember that we all have at least a few things that most people would probably deem ridiculous. And then there’s the common fears that we all understand like ‘my God what if Trump becomes president.’

Anyway, multiple tangents aside, tonight I conquered a nervous fear. I say conquered, I mean challenged. I won, but that’s not to say I’m totally victorious in general! But that’s OK. I’m happy with that. As pathetic as it may seem, I’m proud of that. In the future I’ll do more and more on my own. The girl who went to America alone, regularly joined OAP’s at the cinema on a Tuesday afternoon is a slightly different person now. Now I genuinely prefer doing things with my husband or my daughters with me, I find experiences more fun with them there and when they’re not I find myself wishing they could be there to enjoy those experiences with me. That said, the girl I am now was being held prisoner by herself. And I have started the rescuing process! 

It’s not an easy thing to do, breaking a habit that’s formed. Especially a habit that’s formed under traumatic circumstances. Mine is really not bad compared to the struggles a lot of people go through and a lot of the trauma that other people survive. But it’s all relative, and we’re all entitled to go through these things. For those that have gone through and totally beaten their anxieties and fears, I salute you! It’s not easy and it takes incredible inner strength just to acknowledge those things are there, let alone vanquish them. To those of you that are still fighting, keep going, you’re doing great. And for those of you that feel like you’ll never be able to face it, please know that you can, when you’re ready. It doesn’t have to be today, it doesn’t have to be tomorrow. Give yourself a break and face it when you’re ready. And talk to those close to you, I tried to sort it all in my own head, as soon as I opened up to my husband it seemed like half the problem it had felt before! Greet the demons in your cupboard with a friendly grin, you know exactly where they are, you’re familiar with their form, in a lot of cases, you helped create them in your own design! Then when you want to, open the cupboard with a shotgun in hand (METAPHORICAL SHOTGUN! PLEASE don’t think I mean literally..!) and do those demons some damage!

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Today, we were supposed to be in London for quite a big day out. We decided not to do it in the end as we had bigger plans….NOTHING!
Today has been simply delicious! We’ve done some clearing up and clearing out, our eldest went to nursery until 2pm, a good friend who has two children exactly the same ages as our two came round for a coffee, piece of cake and a catch up. I got some work done early this morning to give ourselves the afternoon. We played with the kids, I had a lovely bath, we sang songs with the girls. And our dinner is nearly ready which we’re going to eat on our laps cuddled up watching Luke Cage before playing Resident Evil together on the PS4 before heading to bed.

Today has been an EXCEEDINGLY good day, it likely sounds boring to many, especially compared to a posh day out in London. But as all parents know, some days can really feel like being in the trenches, and as all self employed people will know, the madness never stops; and the pace of life for us is always 100mph, which suits us. We thrive in chaos, but it’s also why the blue moon days, days like today, are just so bloody brilliant!

Days like these are when I reflect on how lucky I am with the life partner I chose. To be able to enjoy the nothing days quite so much is magical! A man who will dance in pyjamas with me to the delight of his toddler and baby without question! A man who, every day, at some point, makes me a cup of tea or coffee because it’s tradition. A man who I could spend days on end with, and not get bored of. My husband, my best friend, and my absolute rock.

I love the life I have, that doesn’t mean it’s not tough, or that it has its days when I’m worried about anything and everything. But I would worry, and there would be stresses with ANY lifestyle I chose, which is an important thing I want my girls to remember. Life is difficult, which is why it’s SO important to surround yourself with the best possible cast, as many exciting storylines as you can, and in as much as you can control, making it the best damn production you can. It’s a bit like being in a car, the journey can be long, boring, and often arduous; but it’s a damn sight more fun if your passengers are happy to play car games, and listen to a banging soundtrack while taking the route you enjoy the most!

Anyway, multiple metaphors aside..! It’s the little things, the normal every day things that allow you to gage your base contentment. We don’t have many quiet days that don’t have a mile long to do list, and those these one offs are always unexpected and like gold. Like most family’s, it all goes by in a crazy whirl, (and that’s whether you have children or not, life is manic!) so when the universe aligns for those odd moments of tranquility, enjoy it! We all deserve it! Let’s be honest, the next day something will bring us back to reality…the car will break down, one or both of the kids will wake up at 4am, a forgotten deadline will appear…we all know the drill! 

Today was delicious comrades, and I hope for a similarly delicious day for all of you, you’re worth it!