They scrub up nice

Devon,13 Olivia,10, Rafey, 5

The day of my brother in laws wedding. We are going through a financial catastrophe (again? Erin? Seriously? WTF?) so could not afford to buy new clothes to wear for the wedding. The big kids are wearing charity shop bargains. Which explains why Devon’s suit is slightly to big for him, but he loved it and insisted he looked “fit” and was wearing it. The suit and shoes cost £15 from a charity shop. He is wearing a new £3 tie from Asda and a school shirt he already had. Olivias’s dress had a slight tear in the bodice stitching and was a bargain at £3, her shrug was £2 and the shoes were £3. Her earrings were part of a Claire’s jumble bag I bought months ago for her birthday in June, that bag was £3 and had tons of earrings and other bits in it, so they cost just pennies. The bow in her hair is from a gift basket I received for my birthday, and her pretty handbag was a Christmas gift, which was also a charity shop find.

The baby is dressed in Asda’s best as despite trips to dozens of charity shops, there was virtually nothing appropriate in his age range. I did step into a place which looked promising and it had a beautiful suit just his size with waist coast, tie, silk flower, the works. £40. I had one of those soul crushing moments in that shop as I stood and stared at the suit. It was exactly right. It was perfect, I could see him in it. I could buy it, we could go home, it would be sorted.

I suddenly wanted to sit down amongst the racks of childrens frilly, beautiful, astronomically marked up clothing and just sob. I just wanted to be free of the money worries. To be able to be invited to a wedding and be happy. Not spend the intervening months terrified we’d have to wear jeans and battered trainers, or just not go, because I couldn’t afford anything nice for my family to wear. I try to fight off those moments as they have the potential to become very deep pools of despair which offer a frightening solace of a permanently quiet darkness to escape my fears and worries. This time it was a slightly harder internal battle than usual.

It was helped by the baby trying to hide amongst the racks of overpriced suits and subsequently falling backwards into them, nearly pulling them off the racks(!). Having to stifle my laughter and semi sternly rebuke him while I hauled him out of the plastic bag encased garments was enough to snap me out of my self pity and I thanked the shopkeeper and made my way out of the quiet, empty coolness of the air conditioned shop and onto the bustling, hot sidewalk while Rafe gripped my hand and laughed sweetly at some aspect of his world which enthralled him. Again I am reminded of how in debt to my children I am. How they have saved my life.

A year ago, I was in the deepest of despairs. I couldn’t eat, I barely slept, I lay in bed and cry and cry and cry. I got out of bed for them. To take them to school, prepare their meals, put them to bed. I got out of bed to study and write essays for them, because failing to get this degree, even then, was not an option, because it would be failing them. I started to eat normally, and do normal things, and stopped crying for them. They made me laugh and when my laughter turned inexplicably to sobs, they were there to hug me, even if they didn’t understand what was wrong with me.

A really shitty thing happened to me in February 2010. And the implications of that are still playing out, in major ways. I really thought that at 00:01 on January 1st, 2011 all that bad stuff would just disappear, and everything would be fine. I see now, how naieve that was. I guess I’m realizing and finally accepting that it isn’t something that you can simply close the door on. It might possibly be years before I (we) have recovered fully. I am so lucky, and so grateful that I such wonderful little people in my life who help me heal, even if they don’t realize it. Thank you, my beautiful children. I love you more than you will ever know.

*disclaimer* I do not use my children as counsellors, they know precious little about the things that keep me up at night or make me want to sit and sob in pretentious frilly children’s clothing shops. But, I am only human and sometimes stupid things make me cry in the middle of a game of scrabble.

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