Impossible

She puts one little hand on my knee and I’m not sure if it’s because she wants to feel me there or because she wants me to feel that she is there.

“I’ll look after you Mummy.”

I need rest, she says, peace and quiet because I’m really poorly and the doctor can’t make me better but she will help and I will be okay and at school they have a bed you can sleep in if you feel a bit poorly…

She’s three. Three years old.

Soon I’m going to have to have that conversation with her, the same one I’ll have to have with The Husband and my parents and you lot…The one I only feel I can have once I have some answers, the one where I have to be the strong one and lay it all out in a way that whoever is in front of me will best understand.

Mummy isn’t well…

I’m not well…

They said…

It’s this…

This is what will happen…

I’ll be okay…

I’m scared…

“I miss you when you’re not here, Mummy. I want you to be here all of the time. I want you to stay with me.”

I tell her I want that too, I really really want that, but right now I can’t. I just can’t. And it kills me that such a simple, basic thing is such an impossibility.

“Do you love me?”

I’m frozen to the spot.

Her warm hand is resting on my cheek and her breath curls around mine as we lay, nose to nose, on her pillow. She’s three. I don’t deserve her and she doesn’t deserve this.

Oh sweetheart, I love you SO much. I love you bigger than the sky and more than all of the world.

“Bye…Mummy” she whispers.

I am…

This started as a post about my multifaceted sense of self, the many layers of my existence because I am not one dimensional, damnit! I am many things but I am not ‘just’ anything, I have suffered from (with?) something but I am not that.

Except for when I am.

Sometimes I really, really am.

Sometimes there is literally no other dimension to my being and that is one of the gazillion things that I desperately hate about depression. When it gets you, it gets you right down to your bones. It makes them heavy, malaise and useless, aching with their own existence. And my skin, my skin aches and my muscles ache and my nerves prickle and tingle and frankly, with all of that, I hardly want to open my eyes.

But they open because they have to open and the physical pain is nothing, NOTHING on the mental anguish. My mind becomes a hive of activity and a vacuum of emotion. Except anger, sometimes anger. Or despair actually. Okay, there is emotion but it can all be filed neatly into the Negative box so I’d rather not count it if that’s alright.

All day long my inner voice tells me things. Hell, it smack talks me. I’m shit. Worthless. Undeserving and unknowing and unloved and unvalued. I haven’t got a clue. What’s the point? (There’s no point). I’m fucking everyone and everything up and I will forever and ever because that’s just who I am, my ability to destroy is innate and a part of who I am.

Anxiety creeps in, slowly finding a strong hold around my neck because so much negativity in one soul is draining. Bad shit is going to happen. Really bad. The ceiling is probably going to fall in…did you hear that creak? It’s going to fall and I’m going to be trapped underneath it, buried in loft dwelling spiders and jagged rubble and dust and Victorian plaster.

So exhausted, beaten, worn down…I don’t even care.

Fine. Let it fall. I’ll sit here and wait. Bring that shit on because the anticipation is doing a number on me here and my brain is literally killing me from the inside out.

Wave after wave of guilt smacks me in the face. Think of all the people suffering from unimaginable things in the world while you’re tucked up in your nice warm bed under your feather duvet and the soft glow of the bedside lamp, Clara, you dick.

I am Clara’s self-perpetuating stigma.

I am Clara’s invalidating voice.

There’s so much I don’t even say here and that pisses me off and defeats the purpose of here. Some things, I just can’t…

Tonight she wanted me to chase her for a kiss so I dutifully ran down the hall and grabbed her. Eyes squeezed closed, giggling, she tried to wriggle out of my arms as I lifted her from the ground. And then she remembered. She remembered that actually, Mummy isn’t coming home and she wrapped her little arms around my neck and held on tight. “I do miss you Mummy, when you’re gone.”

And then my heart falls to the floor with a thud, a bloody mess of guilt and pain because there is nothing I can do.

8/12

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I feel the cold alarmingly for someone still clinging resolutely to my twenties. My hands and feet are cold pretty much all of the time because that’s how I roll. Cold hands, warm heart and all of the old wives tales/clichés all because my blood doesn’t much like it in my icy extremities.

There’s nothing to you, people over a certain age exclaim. Skin and bone and lace up snow boots and two jumpers because it’s August now and this year that means the first frost forming on the grass that flanks the roads. Roads we drive along as the hour approaches midnight, through dense pockets of mist, noses pressed almost to the windscreen because somehow it’s easier to look out for errant trees/hedgehogs/turnings that way.

And sometimes, when it’s cold and everything is covered in heavy midnight dew and you’re exhausted, it’s good to get out. To trudge across a field guided by a torch and little else while the trees fill the air with a drip drip dripping that echoes around us, natures creepy surround sound.

The beauty of the darkness means nothing is quite as close or as far or as real as it seems. Little clouds of mist roll across the field and an unknown, unseen animal coos at us from a distance and woah, the sky is beautiful out here.

The beauty of stars is that as soon as you look directly at them you can’t see them – that’s science I can’t explain – and the beauty of using a phone app to locate constellations and the cameras live view to search the darkness for something to focus on means as soon as you look away from the light you’re rendered almost completely blind in the vast darkness.

So I’ll just turn my tripod this way and press the shutter…

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…maybe this way…

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The air is still and damp and refreshing and we swore we’d leave half an hour ago but it seemed like a good idea to run around the playground first so run around the playground we did with glee. And torches.

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Creeping through the door at 1am, warming hands around a cup of tea, peeling off wet jeans, kissing sleeping cheeks and sliding into bed, tingling from warmth and wide open skies.

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Next time we’ll point the car the other way and head towards the coast because I am obsessed with taking photographs of the stars and last time we tried that, this son of a bitch was blindingly bright…

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August, you rat-bastard; you gave good adventure but my god, you hurt too.

7/12

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1/12

Lets Wing It…

I found it hard enough naming her. She was handed to me, swathed in a white towel, all pink skinned and dark blue eyed and staring, tiny fists opening and closing…

Hello little person.

Seeing her for the first time was like seeing her for the millionth time because of course the baby in my arms was the one I had been carrying in my belly and feeling kick and hiccup and dance with alarming vivacity on my cervix. But a name? I’ve only known her five minutes, a name stays with you forever. It will get misspelt and mispronounced and shouted and whispered, written in clumsy four year old handwriting and on school work and job applications andandand…I’ve not even changed her nappy, no, I don’t know what her name is…And then, woah what plane of evil did the contents of that nappy come from, are you sure we can name her, is she human?

The secret, unless I am getting things desperately wrong here, is that none of us know what we’re doing. As parents, adults, people, no one has a clue. It’s all best guess stuff. Whatever, I give up, this is the only sensible option, let’s wing it. And then we close our eyes tight against the blinding light of real life and take that first step forwards and hope that we didn’t screw up too badly this time.

What kind of mum am I? I honestly don’t know. One who tries. One who loses her patience sometimes, who turns a blind eye to some things and who is irrationally irritated by others. I don’t know what I’m doing or how to do it or if it even needs doing, the only thing that I know for sure is that in a few years time my decisions will be thrown back in my face along with a snarled ‘shut up mum’ and the brutal slam of a door because it’s a rite of passage isn’t it?

Wait…that’s not the only thing. The other only thing that I know for sure is love. Because I have so much of that, it swells with every thump of my heart and it is in every single thing that I do.

I hope she likes her name. It suits her. It is easy to spell and pronounce and shorten if that’s her bag. It was chosen with love and while burping the as yet nameless half asleep baby on my knee while watching Deal or No Deal in those hazy (oh, so hazy) early days of newborn-ness.

She can say it, heck, she can spell it and write it now, grasping her identity in those little fists and taking on the world with it. (How do you want your hair cut? Like mummy’s? Like daddys? Like your friends? No. Like mine. I want hair like me.)

Watching a kid grow and in the moments where I can forget that I have no idea and just watch in awe I find myself wanting to be more like her. Watch a baby who is learning to walk for half an hour and tell me you don’t want to be a bit like them. From the deliberate, careful pull to stand followed by a shaky step, fall, up, step, fall, up, wobble, fall…over and over but never giving up, only getting pissed off when totally exhausted from the physical effort of trying to control this weird new body with all it’s arms and legs and stupid gravity and carpet burned foreheads.

All of these qualities that kids show us with their unfailing determination and kindness and frustration and wide eyed desperation for knowledge and ice cream, I want to nurture that, to support it as it grows. I don’t want to extinguish it. I don’t want to control her. I don’t want her to conform, I want her to question, to search for the answers and question them some more.

I don’t want to fuck her up.

But, once more for emphasis, I have no idea what I am doing.

I don’t want to battle with her, I’d lose anyway because ain’t no one out will-powering a three year old, but at the same time, there’s stuff that has to be done sometimes. The grown up bits that we’re all forced to do; shopping or cleaning or cooking…Darling I love your fierce sense of self and your unwavering spirit but OMG it’s 9:45pm and Mummy just needs you to go to sleep now okay?

Run bare foot on the grass and skip naked into the sea and dream that you’ll grow as tall as the sky because everything is a possibility but please, please, don’t rip the pages from your books or get up at 2am for an enthusiastic round of hide and seek and no we don’t need to show everyone your new pants…

So how do I do that? Where’s the balance between nurturing her innate curiosity/passion/spirit and not losing my shit on a daily basis because unfortunately at some point, we all have to conform to some things some times.

31 Confessions

1. I swear too (fucking) much

2. On the occasion of getting a bit sunburned, pealing off a decent length of skin is immensely satisfying

3. I’m basically a mass of unspoken words, bundled and compressed into a semi convincing human form

4. I want to say the words so bad

5. Sometimes, when I’m really poorly, I wear the same top every day for ages. Pulling it off every night and shrugging it back on every morning. Because it’s safe. And it means I don’t have to think

6. I’m really struggling right now

7. I think I just lost someone I can’t imagine not being in my life

8. I haven’t eaten a hot meal for a week. Or any kind of meal, really

9. I drink too much tea

10. And smoke too many cigarettes

11. I didn’t take my make up off last night but I kind of like the smudged eye liner today so I’m keeping it

12. I can put my feet behind my head

13. And stand on pointe

14. And devour a ‘sharing’ bag of chocolates in well under an hour. Without sharing

15. Bedtime story cuddles are my favourite

16. I’m really, really scared

17. Chunky Monkey is the best Ben and Jerrys flavour in the whole world but nowhere stocks it because the world is wrong

18. I love sea-glass and the moon and the stars and music and my baby

19. A lot of the time I wish I didn’t exist anymore

20. And that makes me feel so desperately guilty

21. I cut my own hair. And my daughters hair. I am that mother but shut up because she rocks that fringe

22. One of my all time favourite meals is fish fingers, beans and mashed potato

23. I was scared of the dark until I was a teenager

24. I know all of the facts about Robbie Williams and I don’t even care

25. I’m distancing myself and that’s dangerous

26. I can’t not do anything. Like sitting still. Can’t do it

27. Sometimes I get so agitated I want to punch something

28. I can’t punch properly

29. I buy intellectual, self improvement type books and never find the time to read them

30. I spent years looking for a four leaf clover and then I found one and now I’m pissed off that my luck has not significantly changed and it’s still best categorised as ‘bad’

31. I write list posts when I can’t string a decent sentence together