Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Overheard

Devon, 14: So, if I can create my own reality, then when there is a zombie apocalypse all the food in the store cupboard will turn into AK47’s. Plus, at my cadet sqaudron we have gas masks and loads of number 8 rifles and I’m going to buy lots of tomato soup, even though I don’t like it, because that stuff lasts forever.

Me- Devon, please could you stop telling your sister who is prone to nightmares and sleepless nights all about zombie apocalypses?

Devon: Oh. (looks at his 11yr old sister) Maybe they’ll be NICE zombies?

——————————————————————————–

Devon,14: (in the kitchen making his lunch) If your name is Devon, clap your hands
“clap, clap”
If you’re makin’ some beans, clap your hands
“clap, clap”
If you’re trying to get some brown sugar for the beans out of the jar while making beans and clapping your hands, clap your hands.
*silence*
If you’re really cool, clap your hands
“clap, clap”

—————————————————————-

Olivia, 11- Stop it, Devon.
Stop it, Devon.
Stop it, Devon.
Stop it, Devon.
Stop it, Devon.
Stop it, DEVON.
Stop it, Devon.
Stop it, Devon.
Stop it, Devon.
Stop it, Devon

Overheard

While the eldest children are making pumpkin pie in the kitchen…

Devon (14)- “WHAT! WHY are you biting my sleeve?”

Olivia (11)- *laughs hysterically* “I don’t know!”

Devon- “You can’t just go around biting other peoples sleeves!”

Olivia- “Well, you can’t just go around biting other peoples wrists!”

Devon- “I don’t.”

Slightly maniacal laughter from both follows

Mom- (from the other room) “Have you two been drinking?”

Adjusting (or not)

I find it difficult to get used to this place. The next door neighbor is a single mum with three young kids, and from my point of view the kids are out of control, the whole family constantly screaming at each other (and worse on occasion). Though her youngest and mine rarely play together- the pervasiveness of their life is starting to affect my kids. Rafe, who is normally incredibly good natured, has started screaming at me. I have long learned how to handle that type of behaviour and can nip it in the bud with a stern word of warning, but it disturbs me just the same. My daughter,11, occasionally plays with the other girls on the street, and afterwards she is belligerent, demanding and snotty. Trying to manage these new behaviours is demanding as they are not part of my kids normal makeup, and are the result of influence. I find that I have to be even more strict than usual and can’t let them get away with it for a second. My eldest is son is thankfully not yet affected, he is not allowed to hang out with the few boys his age on the street as I know they smoke and drink. He’d like to go to the skatepark but the kids there are nasty little cretins and Dev finds that instead of just being able to play, he has to spend his whole time arguing or standing up for himself. Never mind that he is bigger than the kids and could easily lay them out if he decided to let them have it, that’s not in his genetic makeup and I think they see that.

The nights are difficult. Though we are fairly tucked away, our road is some sort of bus through-fare and they come and go at all hours. People come and go all night as well, usually loud and drunkenly. The dogs of the neighbourhood wake me up early every morning with collective howling and barking. During the day the street is full of kids, normally just playing, but when the neighbor kids are about you can be sure their mother will turn up soon and they will all start screaming again, usually just outside our windows. The little one, only 6, will inevitably start crying and there will be more screaming and I end up pacing the floor, wondering what I can do and usually just taking my kids to the park so they don’t have to listen to it anymore. Once I could hear her sobbing through the walls with occasional screaming at the kids and I gathered up all my courage and went over to ask if I could help, maybe by taking her kids to the park or something, she pretended not to be there, and when I pressed said she was fine, thank you.

Her behaviour disturbs me, especially as I worry about her kids, and the effect on mine, and initially I was very judgemental about her. I softened though when I remembered being a single mother for 8 years with two kids, one of which would later be diagnosed with a “social communication disorder”, which just means he screamed a lot as a kid, and occasionally jumped out of moving cars on busy roads because he couldn’t control his anger. It took me a few years to get the hang of this parenting stuff, and I remember being so hard on my son for silly things. I want to help my new neighbour, but she clearly does not want my help. She struts around the neighbourhood, wine class in hand, screaming at her kids or sobbing about some transgression to the adolescent girls that make up her entourage. I find myself less sympathetic and understanding and more irritated and disgusted. When the screaming starts I twitch the curtains, worried she will strike one of the children and knowing that if, when, it happens I will not be able to stay out of it anymore. My family knows this, and while I don’t think they would truly want me to stand back if she were beating them, I know they want me to be quiet, mind my own business, not get involved. I feel embarrassed that they feel this way, that I am some big mouth always getting involved in things that they don’t think concern me. I feel ashamed of them, too. We once came across a man and a woman fighting in the back of the van at a red light. We could see him punching her, could see the blood on her face and clothes. Instinctively I got out of the car, started to shout at them but was dragged back in by the sounds of my family shouting at me. I knew it could end up with me being hurt and didn’t want my kids to see that, so I got back in, and called the police instead. I thought perhaps I had taught my kids an important lesson that night, but now I wonder. Could it be that I am raising kids, and am married to a man, who can stand back and do nothing while others are hurt or treated badly and worse, believe that is better somehow than getting involved?

I long for our detached house in the tiny little cul-de-sac, where the cats could sleep all day on the road outside without ever being disturbed, where the nights were mostly silent and the only noise on a Sunday morning are the church bells in town, which I opened my windows wide to, so that we could hear them better, especially in the winter, when they chime Christmas carols.

trapped

I feel… trapped. Imprisoned. My chains? No, not the children. Not even the husband. Religion? Nope. Gender? Not in the west in 2011. So, why? How can I feel trapped? I have a roof over my head, food in my ample belly. Opportunities that women in other countries can only dream of. How can I feel trapped?

I think to myself that I am limited by my bank account, that I want to get on a boat or a train and see the world, I want my only limits to what I can do, to what my family can do, to be our imaginations. I think I want to grab life by the horns and live it to the absolute fullest and if only I had a few million in the bank, I could.

Other days I don’t want that at all, I want nothing more than a big house in the country, surrounded by fields and to spend my days pottering around my large kitchen, or lounging in my library, reading or writing. Having huge holiday celebrations and family reunions and just…living a good, content, full life.

Alas, both options require money. I am not sure why my life in its current state cannot content me. My children are healthy, intelligent, beautiful. My husband is caring and loyal. Even on the days when the cupboard and the fridge is full, there is plenty of money in the bank account, the bills are paid and my hair is clean and shiny, I still feel…unfulfilled. As if something is missing and I can’t work out what it is. A sense of purpose? Perhaps. Security? Independence? Perhaps.

I feel as if I am living constantly in the house of cards my teenage son constructed this summer, stuck at home with a broken leg and a pack of cards I had just handed him. He had never built one before and even the slightest hint of a breath would send it tumbling to the floor. I can’t get that feeling out of my head. Every day I become more certain that I never will. No matter how successful I might ever become, or how much money amasses in my bank account, no matter what great things my children persue in their lives, I fear that I will never escape that feeling of everything tumbling down around me at the slightest hint of a breath. That no matter how many pills I take or counseling I have, I will never feel happy with myself or my life.

I wonder why this is? Is it because I was unhappy as a child? Bullied incessantly at school and disliked at home? Have I become conditioned to feel this way? Certain that any feeling of happiness or pleasure is a sign of a great wind bearing down on my house of cards. Is it because there is some fundamental glitch in my programming?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, only that as I get older (Hello, 30! See you soon!) they become more pressing, more relevant. I wonder if it is perhaps a part of growing up, and that perhaps I will grow out of it, as indeed I grew out of my “I know everything, nobody can tell me what to do, it’s MY life so fuck off” teenage years.

On the bad days, the ones where for whatever reason I have found myself lying in bed at 11am, sobbing uncontrollably, the black hole in my chest absorbing light and life and threatening to consume every ounce of me, I find myself wanting nothing more then to go home.

“I want to go home.” I sob in to my husband’s chest hair, helpless and small and wishing I could melt into him, not understanding why I’m saying it, why my heart is feeling it. There is nothing left for me there. I think if I were to die suddenly I would not want to be returned there, to travel 6000 miles in a box and be buried so far from the people that love me the most, so why do I long to be back there in my darkest days? Perhaps what is calling to me is the desert which I love so much, the free and open spaces where I could never feel trapped or confined, where I could climb a mountain and watch the sunrise over the peaks and cactus. Even standing on the shores of Great Britain, gazing into the Atlantic Ocean, where there is nothing but sea and sky before me, I feel trapped. An island full of unfamiliar people behind me, a vast inhospitable sea before me.

I wonder if I will ever leave this country again, if I will ever leave behind the feeling of being imprisoned and lost within myself.

Seriously, my kitchen is a disaster area.

“I can’t.”

Oh, I can’t even tell you the amount of times I have uttered those two little words in my mind over the last six months or so. I can’t. is what makes me retreat to my bed and curl up under my big fluffy duvet and close my eyes, sometimes sleeping, sometimes crying, sometimes just… laying. Not studying, not writing the assignments that are majorily overdue, not sorting out my kitchen which is still in post move chaos.

I suppose things are not so bleak as previously. I smile and laugh with my children, and enjoy our evening strolls.  I get up early, much as I did before…all this… and the baby and I water the flowers and make breakfast and it is nice. But when the children have gone to school or out to play and the husband is busy and I am faced with the neccessity of working, I freeze up. I can’t. I just can’t.     I make halfhearted efforts to whip the kitchen into shape and congratulate myself when I have cleared some counter space, only to feel dejected when just 12 hours later, it is a mess again. I get out the textbooks and do some reading, but after about 5 pages, realize I have no idea what is being discussed and no understanding of the concepts being explained. I start work on a research report, now 2 months overdue, and freeze 10 words in. I just don’t know what to write, or how to write it.

My doctor told me I had severe depression (what does that even mean?) and that my brain wasn’t working right and I needed to take a break from my studies. I couldn’t bear to do that, so I kept on, and now I’m in a gigantic hole that I can’t seem to climb out of.

This degree means so much to me and I am so dearly afraid it is slipping out of my grasp. At some point after my husband hung my whiteboard over my desk, my kids and my husband wrote messages on it. They say “You can do it!”  “You know you can do it, silly!” “PASS!” and lots of smiley faces.   When I saw that for the first time, my heart leapt. I am so so lucky to have them. They believe in me, and they love me and I don’t want to let them down. Yet, that seems to be the only thing I feel I actually can do at the moment.

I am here. I feel a bit like I’m glued to the seat of the roundabout in my kids favorite park. Just endlessly spinning round and round, dizzy and unable to focus on anything. But, I am here.

And, I have chocolate.

 

 

"If just one person believes in you, deep enough and strong enough..."

I can’t.

If there were ever two words to describe what depression feels like.

– Dooce.com

Oh, the things they say.

Rafe, 5, in the bath-
“Who let the dogs out? Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo!

Olivia, 11, on a screaming match with her 14 year old brother-
“Well, APPARRANTLY, I am a freak, a cirque de freak ANNNNND a JERK!”

Devon, 14, on why he should not have to help with the dishes-
“WHAT? My leg hurts!!”
Me- “That didn’t stop you going to your best friends house for two hours.”
Devon- “Yeh, but it hurts now
Me- “Tough Bananas, GO.”
Devon- drags himself on his stomach into the kitchen, moaning theatrically the whole way.

Rafe, 5, on birthday presents
“Mommy, I will get you a big trophy! That says “Happy Birthday AND I love you! FROM- TESCO’S!!!”

I’m not sure if he meant it would actually say from Tesco or that it would be purchased from Tesco. You can’t tell with that kid, he has an evil sense of humour.

What it means to be a mother:

It means that

A) When your five year old is joyfully riding his scooter along in the lovely weather after having had a nice long walk with mommy and suddenly hits something unexpected and upends- throwing himself and the scooter full bodied to the ground- you walk, you don’t run. Even though visions of busted teeth and bloodied noses and awkwardly hanging limbs are running through your mind. You gently pull him up and hug him close and whisper “it’s ok” and kiss his scrapes, make silly jokes and carry him and the scooter the rest of the way down the hill. So that five minutes later he asks to go the long way home so he can ride his scooter and 15 minutes later, it is long forgotten as he races inside the house to find an ice pop.

B) When it is 10:00pm and you’ve been up since sometime around 6 and you haven’t stopped all day and you feel like crap and all you want to do is go to bed and your damn bladder is screaming at you- you make hot water bottles because the kids legs hurt, you give the teenager 3 Ibuprofen and two night nurse tablets because his broken leg is aching and he feels awful, then you get halfway up the stairs and kick yourself and go back down to get him the flashlight, leave more pills and a glass of water within easy reach in case he wakes up in pain during the night, then hug and kiss him, say good night and ask three times if he’ll be ok.

C) Then find the liquid ibuprofen for the pre-teen girl who hates taking swallowing pills and dose her up because her not broken leg aches and also her side hurts (no, she doesn’t know what she did to it) even though she took a hot bath and has a hot water bottle. Finally you pee, brush your teeth and then go back down to check on the teenager, back up to check the little one is still asleep, breathing and hasn’t fallen out the window or something then back to the girls room because she needs something or because you spent more time saying good night to another child then you did to her, at which point you make a huge song and dance (literally, people) out of saying good night to her to make her smile, before finally collapsing into bed.

D) Get up five minutes later because there is a cat somewhere that desperately needs to be relocated somewhere else or a child somewhere desperately needs a drink of water or because you desperately need to make sure you checked all the doors for the third time so an axe murderer can’t get in while you sleep.

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