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

Stasis

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to the hospital I go. Again.

About time too really, I’ve been asking for the best part of two years. Asking in a very British, polite, calm and collected but sometimes slightly histrionic way because, as someone with ‘A History Of Mental Illness’ you quickly learn that there are certain ways of doing things and deviate slightly and you will be deemed either totally healthy or driven to the nearest secure unit with an empty bed in the back of a police car.

Anyway…this was The Hospital. Y’know *whispers* the mental one.

*stares at shoes*

People who never before took me seriously will now exclaim ‘Cor, you really are a bit poorly then?’, people who love me won’t give a shit and a few might disappear…I know the drill by now.

Hospitals of any kind are strange places, existing seemingly in their own little bubble of civilisation and completely separate from the vast world that is left behind at the entrance to the car park. I have to wander past the Laundry and Sewing(?) Wing, the Day Unit, the wards and across a car park and a field bordered by empty benches before I find the building I’ve been summoned to. I’m ten minutes late because I dawdled and it’s hot and I’m scared and I needed a few panicked drags on a cigarette before I dared go too far.

I ring the bell to be let in (oh god, please let no one be here. Please can I just go home) and try to contort my anxious, rigid body into something that looks vaguely more natural.

BUZZ

The door locks behind me and I exchange the nod and smile greeting thing with the receptionist peering out from the little glass window, “Hi. I’m here to see…I don’t know actually. My appointment was…well, ten minutes ago now…”

BUZZ

Led through the next door by the nurse. And the next. And the next.

BUZZ
BUZZ
BUZZ

Around the maze of corridors, through the locked doors, turning left and right and left again until the walls feel like they’re narrowing and the carpet is looming closer to my face and in my head I’m seeing scenes from Yellow Submarine and expecting a steam engine or something suitably trippy to burst from behind one of the doors with one of The Beatles running after it…

I felt a bit weird about coming here. Like, I’m not sure how people might react to my visit and I’m not sure why I’m worried about that all at the same time. It’s one thing being open and frank and RAWR on here because if it all goes wrong I’m hidden behind this screen and one button can delete everything and sticks and stones may break my bones…But in real life? In real life I genuinely didn’t want to tell the taxi driver where I was going. His cheery “where are you off to, love?” made me dither and ‘errrrm’ and bite my lip and wring my hands and feel…ashamed? Who knows. I nearly told him to drop me at the vets around the corner but in the absence of an animal companion I swallowed down my own dramatics and he took me to the door. The door of the wrong building, but whatevs, we were within the gates.

So I’m there and I’m sort of internally, tentatively pleased about it because this could be the time when I manage to get the right person to listen to the right words and frankly, anything would help right now while I try to drag my body off these drugs that HATE ME AND WANT ME TO DIE while trying to function like a semi normal human being as opposed to a jellied wreck wailing on the floor.

It’s a bit scary, this illness thing. I live with it every day. I’ve lived with it every day for so long that every single muscle in my body is forever tense, so long that I absolutely cannot allow myself to crumble or cry or dare to feel because I’m really not sure I would be able to pick up the infinite shattered pieces of me and fit them back together again if I did. But, sitting in an actual hospital talking to an actual nurse and yeah, this is actually a thing isn’t it? It’s real and it’s powerful and it’s got me.

There’s a glimmer of light in that yes, this is the right place and these are the right people and they gently tilt their head to one side to tell me that one day, things will be so different, good, not always like this.

But…

Maybe something’s been missed while I’ve been missing these big chunks of my life. Overlooked, not reported, not considered, whatever. This Something looms over me like a shit-tonne of bricks and I don’t know what to do with it while it hangs there, all ominous and unknown and huge.

Of course, I have to wait. Again. Because there’s a waiting list to get on the waiting list to get on the waiting list to have your file even opened and that’s shit but that’s the system and life and there’s nothing I can do.

So I’ll sit here. Unable to tell you all of the things I want to tell you, waiting, watching Yellow Submarine clips on YouTube, trying not to close myself off from the things that help me (that’s you lot, by the way) trying to keep on keeping on until whatever comes next.

It’s just hard, y’know?

About A Human

The first time I’ve cried over the death of someone who I don’t know, have never met, is nothing more to me than a character in a film. Films that we used to watch around our tiny 1980s television in the early 1990s.

Such a part of my childhood, the larger than life character who was always there in some film or other, diligently recorded onto a blank VHS on Christmas morning to be watched and devoured over and over throughout the year to come. Festive adverts from early 90′s ITV lighting up the screen every fifteen minutes, obsolete products and old movies in obsolete format still sitting on the top shelf in the back of a cupboard, still enjoyable and funny and meaningful today.

Stories that opened up books that I was too young to read, fairy tales that I had never heard, imagination and exploration and comedy all contained in hand labeled DO NOT RECORD OVER, dodgy recordings from our tiny television.

An actor battling mental illness is perhaps the finest analogy for all of those who battle – surviving and existing and even succeeding, the mask hiding the desperate agony that cuts through it all.

A successful human being battling mental illness and it’s easy to focus on the success. Look at all these people who laugh and cry and feel because of what you can do. Look at all you have and who you have and where you are because you could never want for another thing.

The sky is blue and children laugh and money and fame and fortune and love and respect…

None of it matters.

My heart hurts because I know how it feels to sit on the precipice of that darkness, to feel so profoundly and with absolute sureness that the world would be better, everything would be better, were you not to exist. Sometimes it’s so impossibly easy, so painfully true in your mind, that it’s a mammoth effort to drag yourself back from that.

Sometimes it’s impossible to drag yourself back. Not without help. And for that I am so, so sorry.

“I’m history! No, I’m mythology! Nah, I don’t care what I am, I’m free!”
- Genie (Robin Williams) Aladdin.

7/12

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Always the shortest four weeks of the year because of birthdays and sunshine and now the end of nursery, complete with ‘Parents Morning’ where I was shown all of the things by a kid who beamed with pride because “this is the Playdough and this is my teacher and these are scissors and she is my friend and, remember! You have to wear your hat if you go outside!” I saw a different side to her, one reserved for nursery and one that I am desperately proud of…

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“…and this is the campfire and the climbing tree and the den and there’s the ball pool door Mummy!” She loves it and she asks every day if the school has finished it’s holiday yet and as much as my heart aches with pride, it roots us to this place, this area, and I’m not sure it’s what I want for us, for her. This grown up lark is hard.

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Rainstorms and wellies and beaches and ice cream, grazed knees and sea air and what might just be my favourite photo of all time.

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MMR boosters and fiery sunsets, blankets and hospital appointments and so, so much love. Sticky fingered cuddles on the beach and teary cuddles in waiting rooms and big scary thoughts that I can’t hide from.

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