Smack

WARNING – THIS POST WILL MOST DEFINITELY CONTAIN MORE THAN YOUR DAILY RECOMMENDED ALLOWANCE OF FUCKS.

Bean is going through a spell, a phase, whatever. I say a phase, I think I’m only using that term to convince myself that this is all temporary when in actual fact, he’s been doing it for about a year now. Denial is alright, innit? I mean, it’s the only thing keeping me from being a raging alcoholic at the moment so that’s gotta be positive, right?

Bean does not listen to me.

I don’t know how else I can stress that fact.

Majority of the time, I’ve grown used to it. Any requests I make have to come loaded with some kind of bribe. Yeah, I could do without the extortionate chocolate button bills but I really fucking hate spending my entire day listening to my own bloody voice, as I’m sure my neighbours are, and anyone within a 2 mile radius of my house.

But after several days of no sleep, obvs, when the proverbial pipe has burst, spreading a constant stream of shit in my face, ya know, metaphorically, what I don’t need is a small naked boy attempting to make a bid for freedom out of the front door. Or throwing my clean washing over the garden fence, into the neighbours garden – who I really do not like, of course.

A simple “No, don’t do that.” Should do it, yeah?

No.

Will it fuck.

Ever.

In whichever tone of voice I so wish to use.

Is it a boy thing? Is it a four-year old thing? Is it an attention thing? Is it purely just one of those fucking things that they are supposedly meant to grow out of eventually we tell ourselves, again to convince one another that “this too shall pass, but please pass me the fucking gin” bollocks?

After a horrendous day, I mistakenly call my mum. Ya know. Your own mum will know this shit. She’s been there, through the other side and is happily spending her retirement drinking tea with her feet up, completing countless crosswords. No doubt with a smirk plastered on her face that three of her four kids are now firmly in the midst of the shit she was dealing with a couple of decades ago.

This makes sense, my head stupidly tells me. Call mum. She’ll understand.

See, I’ve already gone wrong. If my head is telling me I’ve got a good idea, fucking ignore it, it’s lying.

Her advice? Words that make me feel sick. Words I don’t want to hear.

“Smack him.”

I tell her I can’t do that, I don’t want to do that. I’m already fifty shades of the mum I never wanted to be, I can’t go down that road. My star sign is Libra, it’s all wrong with me stars, I want everything to be all floaty and happy and not resulting in a punch up. I can remember my mum smacking me. And no, don’t get me wrong, that ain’t the reason I’ve had thousands of pounds worth of therapy, but still, it’s not a nice memory is it? It’s not a way I want Bean to remember me FFS, even if it is a tiny one, a whisper of a memory, a “Oh shit, yeah I remember you doing that.”

No.

Nonononononononononono.

No.

“Oh, but you’ll probably only need to do it a few times.”

And if I don’t? What if it doesn’t work? I just continue to do it?

I tell her all this. I say repeatedly I’m not prepared to detour down that road. Not even once. That yeah, perhaps a few years ago, smacking was pretty much the rule and not the exception. But fucking hell. A few years ago it was normal to send little kids up chimneys. A few years ago technology wasn’t to be trusted. A few bloody years ago everyone was using MySpace.

Does that mean they were right?

“Well, whatever you’re doing now isn’t working, is it?”

No. I suppose it isn’t. He still won’t listen to me. Standing my ground, being firm and dotting little grids stuck on the fridge with gold stars isn’t fucking working.

But in this case, soz Mum, I’d rather be wrong.

Bezzy Mates

Bean is making friends at nursery. I know it doesn’t sound much, but to me, IT’S A BIG DEAL. Not too long ago on a fetid, scorching morning, I took dragged him along to that toddler gym hooha that sounds like Bumble Bots. I thought it’d be fun. I swiftly realised my mistake. But it was too late. Like a limpet he attached himself to my torso with unprecedented force, every time I attempted to lower him to the floor or show him a brightly coloured crash mat, he reacted as if I going to stick him a pot of molten lava. I persevered. I kept taking him. I took him to other things, messy play and toddler groups and God awful Come and Sing sessions. He wouldn’t have it. I had to hold his hand CONSTANTLY and continuously reassure him that everything was OK.

Slowly, very very very slowly, and surely he did get better. And now, a few months after starting nursery, he’s making friends. Not that he didn’t want to play with other children before or want to make friends, he was just way too preoccupied with my proximity from him to notice anyone else. Now I’m out of the picture at nursery and we’ve got that separation anxiety sort of tampered down, he’s making friends all over the shop. Today he had a moment when I dropped him off and started to cry as I was leaving, a little girl he’s made friends with ran up to us and looked SO worried, I could’ve cried myself if it wasn’t for all the awkward questions I’d have to answer from the staff, she held Bean’s hand and with a hiccup he stopped crying.

My heart burst a little bit.

I wanted to plonk myself down with a coffee and sit and watch him and his little mates interact because it’s just so novel, again, that’s probably not advised, there are laws about that isn’t there? Reluctantly, I walked home.

*Does swooshy, wavy movements with hands*

Four years ago.

The air conditioning wasn’t working, there was a heat-wave in full swing, the windows would open barely a couple of inches and the atmosphere was thick with nervous energy. I felt so disconnected, it was as if I wasn’t even sat in the same room, more a fly on the wall. I’d watch the couples enter the room, tentatively, almost embarrassed. I’d observe them interact with the other couples in the room, introducing themselves, awkward, not quite sure what to say. They’d say hello to me too of course, shake hands, exchange pleasantries and we’d sit patiently, waiting for the midwife to lumber in. To tell us in vivid detail about third degree vaginal tears, you know the ones where your two holes get torn into one hole, and violently shove a creepy doll with dead eyes through a plastic pelvis with a bit too much enjoyment, the fucking sadist.

So many people promised me that I’d make new friends at my ante-natal classes, I actually half believed them. We were all in it together. We’d all be mates, our children would be lifelong friends, and we’d all grow old in some jolly EastEnders-esque bubble, without all the murder and adultery and fun stuff, obvs.

But erm, yeah, that didn’t happen though, did it?

Apparently, just because we were all swollen and sweating, fanning ourselves with our Bounty packs and downing bottles of water, didn’t count as common ground, not enough to build foundations of everlasting friendship anyway.

I did try. Honestly, I did. I even made inane conversation about breast pads and epesciotomies and Britain’s Got Talent FFS while trying desperately not to fall asleep on the formica tables. Cos that’s what you do, innit? You make polite conversation, you ask questions, which if we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t care what the answers are either way, you learn about the other person, you might even feel so inclined to sneak in a little tester remark that you’d much rather be laying on your sofa, in the most inelegant fashion possible watching Deal or No Deal and your bump kicking the TV remote around on your belly, rather than in this sweaty room with more hormones rampaging around it than a sodding comprehensive school. You might. Maybe.

But for me, without having a large glass of wine in my hand and a few more in my bloodstream and slash or a few mates to cushion me, I think I did alright actually. Pleased with myself, I went home, laid as unladylike as I possibly could upon my sofa and watched Deal or No Deal and looked forward to next weeks ante-natal social gathering offering.

Fast forward a week, I sit down, I say hello, I remember a few people’s names, I ask the lady pregnant with twins how she’s doing, I smile. All seems nice. But AHA, what is this? Everyone is talking amongst themselves, of their meet up a few days ago in a coffee shop and then of GOING FUCKING SHOPPING afterwards! Conversation swiftly moves on to a few of them going to Kiddicare together, probably to admire the miniature shopping trolleys together and put photos of them pushing them around the store with MUCH hilarity on Facebook. Probably. The brunette lady Rachel with the beardy husband, is now Rach. RACH. Someone’s throwing a barbecue at the weekend for the lot of ‘em and one of em’s raving about how they’re gonna bring some bloody designer sausages you all simply must try. After my upteenth attempt to join in, I give up. No one even LOOKS at me.

I spend the remainder of the session getting really into what the sadomasochistic midwife is going on about while she’s waving a pair of forceps in the air with abandon and an untrustworthy glint in her eye and ignore my self esteem nervously gnawing upon its on fist in BLIND PANIC. On the way out I sneak a look at the little A5 slips of paper one of the less scary health visitors had printed up for our first session, with all our names, mobile numbers, email addresses and due dates on it, so we could take ‘em home and all become BEZZY MATES FOREVS INNIT. Honestly, the poor woman even drew flowers and hearts on all of them.

My number must be wrong, right? I check, and recheck and check again three times.

Nope. It’s correct.

My self-esteem whimpers and plummets out of my arse into a heap on the floor tiles.

Oh.

Wait for it, you can hear it drawing a shaky breath if you listen closely.

WHY?! Is it because I’m younger than you lot? Did my tattoos scare you? Because I’m not wearing a wedding ring? That I don’t drive an Audi? THAT I’M NOT WEARING FUCKING BIRKINSTOCKS or have a partner sat next to me called Seb or Ralf or SIMON with an ironic beard and BOAT SHOES and a job in “in the city”?

Present day.

I can’t help but envy how children forge friendships so effortlessly. How there’s no politics involved. It’s purely a case of “You like shoving breadsticks up your nose? I DO TOO! Let’s be friends FOREVER!” Appearance, religion, race, education, career, social status, bank balance, number of stamps in your passport from foreign lands or whether you’re on Jen or Angelina’s side, simply doesn’t come in to it.

But overriding all that lark, I’m actually just proud of my Bean.

Shake

Yeah I know… I know… I’ve been AWOL.

To be completely blunt, I’ve had a cunt of a week.

I feel I could’ve been been a little more poetic there. Sorry.

Anyway.

Feel free to click the little X in the corner of your screen, I sincerely doubt anything I write from here will make any form of sense.

From the beginning of the week I’ve gone from almost, almost walking out on my family. To constant crying. Total withdrawal and numb nothingness. Actually truly believing I was dying. Having to seriously discuss whether I should be “in a hospital”.  To maybe, possibly, but let’s not look directly at it just in case it disappears, things maybe feeling a little bit more positive. Maybe.

I realise how insane I sound.

I’m kind of sticking to my guns in saying that I think my increased medication is starting to kick in, finally, and that’s the cause of the weirdness, cos it sounds OK if I put it that way, doesn’t it? I’ve just had three days of my head constantly shaking and shivering, as if my actual brain was shaking.

And then there was the cold sensation, as if I’d had a full transfusion of liquid nitrogen pumped through my veins. No amount of blankets or jumpers would shift it. Nor sitting right in front of a radiator on full. So. Suffice to say, in my wonky state, I genuinely thought I was dying. That these fucked up chemicals in my head were killing me.

Again. I realise this is all over the place.

I’ve had to shout to be listened to, when I barely had to energy to speak.

I’ve had to convince my family that no, even if I am doing it somewhat robotically, I am looking after my son. And yes, he is fed, and clean and happy. And no, no one is “going to pick up on anything” at nursery.

Huge massive, supersize portions of guilt.

Of potentially fucking up my son.

Deja vu of him in ten years sitting alone in his dark bedroom scrawling “This Be The Verse” by Philip Larkin all over his diary and silently hating me. Cos you know, that’s pretty much what I was doing ten years ago.

thisbe

Feeling like a complete fraud in ever calling myself a carer. Hating myself that I could be making my partner’s illness worse as opposed to better, as stress is a main trigger for him going downhill.

But as I said, things maybe, maybe starting to get a little easier. I know what I’m writing here is a stream of consciousness load of crap, but a few days ago I was struggling to form a sentence.

I’m seeing my therapist on Tuesday evening.

I’m terrifed. Scared shitless of leaving the house without my wingman, Bean. Of not being able to drown out the white noise and ignore the faces I don’t like by playing “I Spy” with him.

It’ll be OK.

Maybe.

But let’s not look at it too closely, in case it disappears.

Rush

Don’t forget that guest post you need to write – Where’s that email address? – I need to sort out my inbox – I’ll do it later – The tumble drier’s finished – Change the bed sheets – Bean’s run out of Vicks – Write it down on the list – Where’s the pen? – Fuck, I need to call the vets – Have we got anything for dinner? – Check the freezer in a minute – Write down that blog post idea – Where’s the pen? – Charge phone – Text mum – Change the bed sheets – Reply to comments – Photos, you haven’t taken any bloody photos – Sort out SD card – Ask OH to sort out SD card – CALL THE VETS – Tea, I need tea first – Sort out Bean’s craft supplies – He needs more paints – Write it down on the list – WHERE ARE ALL THE FUCKING PEN LIDS – Remember to explain to him AGAIN about this – Only an hour until you need to pick him up – Check emails – Put kettle on – CALL THE VETS FFS – Just need to read these emails quickly – Reply to emails – Oh shit, the bed sheets – No, call the vets first – Tea, where’s my tea? – I didn’t make it – Put the kettle on again – Reply to comments as kettle boils – Check time, 45 mins – Leave the comments – Change the sheets – Collect dirty washing from upstairs – Empty bin – Oh CHRIST what has that child done to the toilet? – Where’s the toilet cleaner? – Can’t find any, add it to the list – WHERE’S THE PEN? – Make tea – That’s it, where have all the pens gone? – Check the cupboards – Check the bookcase – Nope – Fuck’s sake, buy a new pen – Dig out change from pockets and purse for a pen – SHITCUNTS, CALL THE VETS – Right, sorted – How long now? – 20 minutes – Dinner, what can we have for dinner? – Sod all, do a Tesco order tonight – Have you taken your pills for today? – Check emails – Reply to emails –  Raid cupboards for after-nursery snack for Bean – Shit, gotta go – WHERE ARE MY KEYS – Gonna be late – Leave – Text Mum while walking jogging – Forgot money for pen – Not enough time to go back – Already late – FML.

Alone

The alarm goes off in the morning, or in my case, my son jumps on my face, it’s time to get up. New day and all that. Let’s get going! But alas, no, it’s not that simple. The thought of being awake, the thought of being up and aware of the black thoughts in my head and the utter numbness of my body, the sheer lack of any trace of energy, makes my stomach drop and the day in my eyes is already ruined before my feet have even touched the carpet beside my bed.

It’s time to eat, to clothe and to clean. To engage, and teach and play. What shall it be today? Letters or numbers? Shall we go to the park? Can we bake a cake? Alas no, I won’t do any of these things, I’ll stay in my pyjamas, I won’t get dressed, I won’t get Bean dressed. We’re not going anywhere. We won’t see anyone, because I don’t want to see anyone. When the postman rings the doorbell, or the window cleaner knocks, I’ll tell Bean to be quiet, like a game.

Bean will ask for jam on his toast, and when I give him the plate of little triangles, he’ll say he now wants peanut butter. I won’t say anything, I’ll return to the kitchen and cry quietly while I stick the fresh slices of bread in the toaster, and the worst part is I don’t know why. I don’t why everything is so difficult. No one else finds it this hard, do they?

A little later, Bean will ask for me to play with him, or say he wants to paint. But there’s always an excuse up my sleeve, there’s something else more important I must do right now. A phone call, an email, putting out the rubbish. Anything. And I’ll feel horrendous that I can’t just sit and be with my son, that I’m denying him well, me. I’m used to blocking everyone else out, but my son?

I’ll promise myself that I’ll save the day by making a family dinner, so we can all sit down together, Bean likes it when we do that. But I won’t. The good intentions will fly out of the window, and he’ll eat what he always does, at the table with his toys.

I’ll give him his bath, and put him to bed, and he falls asleep while I read to him quietly, I’ll watch him sleeping. My beautiful boy, my beautiful beautiful boy. My boy that deserves so much more than I can give him. My boy that I love more than I can ever put into words, hasn’t got a proper mum. A mum to play with and teach him, to run around with and give him everything he wants. I’ll sit and watch him sleep, and the tears will prick my eyes and I’ll promise myself – promise him that tomorrow will be better.

But will it? Will it? I’m not in control here, something much more powerful is. Something I have no control over. My family, my friends will say what a good mum I am, but I’ll know different deep down, swimming amongst the darkness and all consuming nothingness, that I’m not. I’m really not. I’m everything I told myself I wouldn’t be. My baby is sleeping upstairs, alone, and when he wakes up, I’ll be with him and watch him and make sure he’s safe and fed. But I won’t be here, not really, I’ll be lost in my own selfish thoughts, pointlessly fighting against the blackness that engulfs me, and my baby will still be alone.

No Time

Time has two settings in my life, I’ve noticed. It’s either brain-achingly, mind-numbingly, teeth-grindingly slow, as if the arms on the clock are struggling to move and are fighting through thick immoveable treacle and I gaze at the poxy thing on the wall wondering how the actual FUCK have I only been up for a few hours, when in my mind, it’s been DAYS.Surely? Generally, my thinking is like this when I’m in a low spell, I want the day to end and be back in bed before I’ve even got out of bed in the morning. Everything is too much. Everything is too daunting, too overwhelming, the absolute most basic tasks mutate into BIG. SCARY. SHIT.

Or there’s just no time, it’s running out, there’s simply not enough minutes, I’m stranded in a state of flux, the list of things to do is ever-growing and fast becoming more and more fevered, the writing on the list more erratic and unintelligible. Multi-tasking just won’t do, prioritising is doing naff all and there is JUST NO FUCKING TIME. I keep telling myself all I want to do is paint my nails and read a few pages of my book, have a sodding bath if I gonna go all out and throw caution to the wind, but the actual fact is, I haven’t even managed to shower in days or eat properly in weeks.

Of course, the no time fiasco isn’t really helped by the fact I keep adding shit to that mountain of crap I have to sort out, clean, wrap up, post, cook, complain about, put in the loft, take out of the loft, write about, take photos of, Tweet about, email about, make phone calls for, wash, buy, send back, learn, teach, arrange appointments for etc etc etc blah blah blah and so it all continues and I’m a stressed out, raging bull of nervous energy, flapping about the place, spinning far too many plates, leaving only a trail of tattered, scribbled on Post It notes in my wake.

There is no happy medium. No balance. No give AND take. No no no no.

It’s either go go go batshit crazy, or I’m pulling the duvet over my head and wishing and praying it all goes away, and someone, a fictional figure or apparition for all I care, will waft in and do it all for me until I feel more able to myself.

I find it impossible to say no. I have always been that idiot awake and sobbing from panic and total exhaustion at 4am, furiously baking, making, drawing, cooking, painting, sewing, writing, researching because I’ve stupidly agreed again to do something I just haven’t the time to do.

Is there even a nice, light and easy state somewhere lurking in the middle, does it even actually exist? Is it nestled in there somewhere, a tiny slither, that is in the centre of those scales, just an infinitesimal point before the balance tips? Or is just another bloody myth?

Today I was picking up Bean from nursery, I’d spent the 3 hours he was there running around like a blue arsed fly, on speed, at top speed on a treadmill, with an axe murderer chasing me desperately attempting to get. shit. done whilst I could without a small, howling person attached to my leg. I’m at nursery, hunting for Bean’s stuff in the black hole of the nursery coat pegs, that swallows my son’s belongings daily. Bean’s fanny arsing about, trying to negotiate with the nursery nurse to bring a painting home that is actually intended on making some big screaming, glittering Christmas display thing for the nursery entrance lobby. All the kids and parents are gone, Bean and I are the only people left, I’m nearly there, I have saved his hat, his umbrella, his bag, all I need is his damn coat. I stupidly look up, and mistakenly catch the eye of a nursery nurse, her radar beeps, she’s sensed I’m stuck here.

Oh fucking penises. She’s coming over.

Please don’t ask me to do anything. Or bring anything else in. Or come to another meeting. Please. Not today. I’m begging you. I can’t give anymore. I can’t. I just want to find my son’s coat so I can drag him home and do more stuff until my ears bleed.

Nursery Nurse: Hiya! *creepy grin*

Me: Hi…

Nursery Nurse: On Friday we’re inviting parents to come in and make Christmas decorations with the children to put up around the nursery!

Me: Oh, that sounds good.

*thinks* Don’t ask me, don’t ask me, don’t ask me, don’t ask me, don’t ask me…

Nursery Nurse: Would you like to join us? I still have lots of slots available!

*thinks* Slots? SLOTS? WTFH are you talking about woman?

Oh shite, I’m being pulled, pulled I tell you, she’s using telekinesis to drag me to a rota pinned to the wall and looks at me expectantly.

Nursery Nurse: I could fit you in at any of these times…

I look at the chart, properly this time, and ignore the fact Bean’s Nursery employ witches with evil super powers of persuasion. There’s two names on it, only two individuals have stuck their name on the thing. Out of maybe a hundred parents. Oh fucking hell. I’m overcome with sadness and shame.

Nursery Nurse: When would you like to come in?

*thinks* Say no. Say no. Say no. Say no. Say no. Say no.

Bean joins us, somehow he’s conjured his coat out of thin air and is trying to put it on inside out.

Me: Erm. One o’clock?

Nursery Nurse: Brilliant! I’ll see you then!

*thinks* YOU FUCKING IDIOT, YOU HAVEN’T GOT THE TIME! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!

Me: Yep, great, see you Friday.

Attention Please

*Sounds ranty foghorn* You’ve been warned…

From birth, I’ve taken Beano to rather a lot of groups and clubs, from baby massage to messy play groups. S’all good, they gives us a chance to get out of the house and do something I haven’t got the mental energy to organise and set up at home, plus Bean can work on his womanising skills and chat up all the little girls and eat all the digestive biscuits his little belly can take.

But I’m beginning to notice something somewhat odd at these here groups and get-togethers. And I find it a little sad to be perfectly frank.

These groups don’t come for free, they range from a quid to £6 per session, plus some of the more fancypants franchised groups ask you to pay an annual membership fee as well as the sessions, the sneaky bastards, and it seems a lot of mums are taking their spawn to these groups, well, to ignore them. To sit in a gaggle of their mummy mates and allow their little ones to fend for themselves.

I know being a parent is isolating, I’m more than aware that it can be suffocating, I appreciate we all need some adult conversation just occasionally, and after yet another sleepless night with your nocturnal child, a row with your partner and the washing machine’s packed in, all you want is to unload onto someone who understands. I appreciate that, I really do. I know it can be the difference between falling in a heap on the kitchen floor in a mess of tears and shouting at your toddler for no other reason than you’re completely exhausted and they’ve asked you the same question 19 times, to just feeling a bit more positive, and like yourself again. I do. I really do.

But…

Are these groups the place to do that? Honestly?

I’ve seen little girls wetting themselves in a packed church heaving with manic children and mums, and the organisers desperately trying to find her mother, and after ten frantic minutes, they locate the mum having a fag in the car park outside on the phone and being actually quite fucked off to be interrupted. I’ve seen babies, no older than a year old, toddling and wobbling around, screaming their little hearts out, because they can’t find their mummy, only to find her in a scrum of other women, blissfully ignorant, having a natter about what a disaster the catering was at their bonfire party on Saturday. I’ve been referee to squabbling young boys I don’t know from Adam, because for want of a better word, they’re beating the epic shit out of each other and no one else has seemed to notice or mind. I’ve had to inform mums that their little one has just been sick in the sand pit, or that they’ve poked themselves in the eye with a paintbrush.

I drag Bean to these little shindigs for us to enjoy some quality time together, so we can make something, or I can hold onto him while he climbs up a ladder, and grip his chubby hand as he leaps from a huge squishy, brightly coloured oblong, I can help him with the actions of “Wind the Bobbin Up”, and we can enjoy one another’s company for an hour or two . And if he’s too cool for me to follow him about, I’m happy to watch him play with the other children. I reckon we can all be a bit guilty of not spending enough proper, down and dirty quality time with our kids, due to hundreds of reasons and obstacles, from the trivial to the downright difficult.

However, isn’t that the beauty of taking them to a group, the park or even just a little walk around the block? We can close the door, and forget about all the washing that hasn’t been dealt with and well, every other form of housework in my case, and just enjoy our monsters for an hour or so a few times a week?

Twenty four hour quality time, is just, well fucking insane, we’d NEVER get any sleep for starters and drive ourselves mad even faster than we already are. But an hour? That you’ve had to PAY for? Really? Is your phone that important? Does it really matter what she said and he said and she said and he said and she said and he said…?

C’mon, attention please.

Anyone had any experience of this? Any thoughts?

I’m linking this post up with Mummy Barrow’s Ranty Friday linky, please have a look at all the other rantastic posts :)

MummyBarrow