Tuesday, 27 January 2015


Next post was meant to be about books: I was going to do two or three posts on fiction I'd read so far this year, and one on a couple of parenting books, including my thoughts on "that" Alpha Parent book.

And I wanted to do an update on my digital footprints project, and to talk about how interacting more deliberately really does change and enrich your experience.

And my babies, well, my baby and my boy, I wanted to talk about them.

Somehow I'm not managing any of it though. I've been casting around for ways to explain it, and I can't get any further than this:

My heart is so heavy

Everything is slow, and everything is difficult. I can't find a lightness in anything. Actually it's not just my heart, it's all heavy, I'm in thick gloves and a bodysuit and it's all muffled and padded and muted and just sort of bleak.

There's nothing wrong as such. We're getting through, the boys are growing and flourishing, I'm doing my work (just about), the house is in one of its tidier phases, we're dutifully getting through our austere winter veg box each week.

I just can't quite think forward, somehow. I'm one for buzzing with projects and thrilling full of ideas (yes, thrilling is a verb, in this sense, in the engaged way that I mean it, I don't just get thrilled, I thrill). I invented the "Kaffe test" for myself, for when I feel a bit down and gloomy - does looking at a picture of something Kaffe Fasset-y (either his, or in his style, or with some intensity of colour, actually anything from Attic24 will do the job too) give me a lift, a fierce desire to MAKE IT NOW and LICK ALL THE COLOURS?


Experience tells me that the way forward is to act as if. Keep doing all that daily stuff, nurture the babies, read the books, collect the projects, sign up for the work and hope that at some point the days start to be differentiated again. I'll write on here about some books, and pretend I'm an aspiring writer, an aspiring anything, and if previous doldrums like this are anything to go by, I'll suddenly find myself inadvertently aspiring again, daydreaming about quilts and crochet and blankets and textures and colours, galloping through books, churning stuff out. Suddenly and, I hope, soon.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

The Sunday night feeling

Oh, how I love Mondays, and mornings, and new terms, and new pencil cases, and best of all new years. All chances for a fresh start, for looking back on the day/week/month/term year before and saying what can I build on, what should I discard, what am I proud of, what have I learned.

So I've no idea why I've not been able to call up this spirit yet for 2015. It may be the horrible timing of the baby being ill - he started grumbling and fussing on Christmas day and just got more and more miserable, pretty much a week of constant crying, desperate need to sleep but inability to do this without a half hour lead in of rocking and swaying, only staying asleep if held, and in exactly the right position. I'd been hoping for a few days of gathering myself up, tidying things inside and out, reviewing and reflecting and restoring and consolidating and preparing, and instead I paced for hours and hours, and I'll admit to some weeping and cursing too - it was just a grim week, and it's taken from my already sparse resources.

Somehow the year ahead doesn't seem to be brimming with possibility: it looks like a trudge, a series of days where success would be treading water, keeping my mouth just over the surface, not letting anything get any more chaotic. And it's pretty gloomy to have your goals being no more ambitious than staying just about level with entropy.

So what now?

I don't think I'm quite in the place for massive "stuff" goals, not for this year. Big boy will be four in May, little boy one in June, so they need me a lot, and their day to day needs are going to be consuming no matter what I do. My maternity leave is over so I'm back to working in the evenings - at an absolute minimum I need to get in 15 hours each week, but if we want any wriggle room then it needs to be more than that. I'm aware this sounds like nothing, but that's 2.5 hours a night with Sundays off, and if the children aren't both asleep until 8 that means I have to work till 10.30, or later if (ha!) I have to stop and resettle them several times. It exhausts me just thinking about it.

Looks like it needs to be the year of attitudes, and cultivating my ability to "act as if". I've let myself off the 1st January hook - obviously I missed that boat - and instead am going to deem my own new year to start on a Monday, on 5th Jan, just after I get through one more weekend. And in this new Helen-year:

1. I will act as if I am a patient and tolerant mother, even when there's an inner scream and I'm bored of glitter and dirt and bodily fluids and I don't want to carry anyone around and I want to be asleep.
2. I am a writer. There are things out there, published, with my name on, and I write this blog, and I'll be doing all sorts this year - I will think of myself as a person who writes, which will let me carry on being one.
3. All the reading stuff that I wrote about in my last post - I'll read what and when I can, without a big self-important goal of covering Great Literature, but choosing what I'll enjoy and benefit from, and being sure to reflect on it and acknowledge it. Whenever I have a gap in my fiction-reading I forget how much it does for me, and how much I need that mental escape, the transportation to somewhere else.
4. Must remain conscious of the need to avoid bitterness: again, I've written about this before, but it's still warping me with no obvious benefit. I've got to learn that other people's happiness doesn't steal mine, and that we all have different opportunities and resources, and that, most importantly, there's nothing at all fruitful about comparing my insides with other people's outsides. Yes, on Facebook everyone's always beaming, and their three-year-olds had rosy-cheeked saintly Christmases where they played blissfully and absorbedly and gratefully with their toys, and ate without a fuss, and of course doted, as they always do, on their baby siblings - but that's not what happened here, and there's no point wishing it had. And everyone else's blog is beautiful and they have artistic coffee breaks every day and they take pictures of themselves making gorgeous craft projects and of their children smiling (those rosy cheeks again!) and they just get so much done and have so much exciting going on....STOP. It just doesn't get me anywhere. I can't know how complete the picture is from others, and even more importantly it doesn't matter, and all that thinking about it does is make me bad-tempered and ungrateful about my many blessings. So this year I will enjoy my friends' happiness, and maybe quietly daydream about having an aspirational lifestyle, but I will be on constant guard against allowing jealousy or negativity creep in.

What a gloomy, self-absorbed post, but it's honest, and it's a sort of purging - just one more day now of my version of this year, and a fresh start on Monday, and new shelves to fill, and my new diary about to come, and time to continue being at the centre of two small boys' universes, and so much to read and learn and do....there's hope yet.