loneliness.

I’ve been listening to Radio 2 a lot this week whilst I’ve been commuting and travelling to meetings.

They are using this week to highlight loneliness, and to explore what it is exactly that is causing this silent epidemic that seems to be gripping so many British adults these days.

The theme has really struck a chord with me, as loneliness is a feeling that I’m all too familiar with, sadly – a feeling that I first experienced when I started University back in 2002.

I had gone from a small town in Lancashire, where I’d spent the past 7 years with pretty much the same people every day of my life to the comparatively huge city of Liverpool where I knew no one and felt like a complete fish out of water.

I felt so lost that my friends could have been a million miles away (they were actually just in Lancaster and Leeds – but still!). I felt like I’d been dumped on Mars and there was no one I could talk to. My flatmates were lovely – they really were. But they weren’t my friends and I wasn’t at home.

I spent my days wondering if I’d made the right decision and my nights wondering why I didn’t feel like going out like everyone else did. Everyone else was having a great time, they were making loads of new friends, they were brilliant. Was I an oddball? Why couldn’t I enjoy myself? Why couldn’t I make any friends? I decided that it just wasn’t for me. The loneliness I felt, even in a crowded room, used to swallow me up and I would often cry myself to sleep.

How I got through those first six months I don’t really know (my poor mother’s phone bill must have been huge!). But I did get through it, and after that first Christmas I snapped myself out of it and I started going out and having fun. Making a real effort. Making friends on my course and getting to know my flatmates – who I was certain thought I was a complete weirdo by that point, but who made me laugh and helped me overcome my loneliness.

One thing I often regret is not talking to anyone about how I felt back then. I kept lots of things to myself and I think that probably stopped me making friends more than anything else.

I often think that, because I didn’t really talk to people much, they must have thought I was such a moody sod. That I didn’t want to join in or that I was boring (reality hits: perhaps I was!). When really, all I wanted was someone to talk to me properly. To laugh with me and to be my friend.

It was good to hear on one of Jeremy Vine‘s show’s this week that I wasn’t alone in how I felt back then. So many students go through the same thing. We didn’t have Social Media back then (just MSN Messenger and some crazy new fangled website called MySpace!) so keeping in touch with friends was much more difficult than it is now – but I caught trains and traveled all over the country to catch up and re-connect whenever possible. And it was like we’d never been away from each other. Loneliness gone. 

I’m thankful now that I can say that I haven’t really experienced loneliness on that level since those early days of University.

There have been times, especially in those long winter months after having Ruby (being at home all day with a baby, no adult company and no family or friends close by to call on or help out), when it all became a little too much and loneliness began to creep in again…but that’s when I would get out, send a message to one of my new NCT group friends and head out for cake.

Glorious cake! Cake solves lots of problems.

I was still lonely (almost 1/4 of first-time mothers in the UK admit that they feel lonely after having a baby), and there were days when it was really difficult but the difference this time was that I talked to people about how I was feeling – I spoke to people who told me that they felt the same!

And a problem shared became a problem halved, literally.

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So…I guess what I am trying to say is that feeling lonely does not make you unusual. This week has definitely taught me that. Finally. After all these years.

No one should ever feel like they can’t admit that they feel lonely.

And what I want you to know is that if you ever feel lonely, let me know and we’ll sort that right out!

 

 

 

 

five. 

Do you know how much I love you? Probably not, with all the shouting I seem to be doing recently. 

You turned five two weeks ago, and declared to me and your Daddy that since you were now a “big girl” there was no need for us to worry about you anymore. 
I smiled inside as I told you that I believed you. That I knew that it was so true that big girls like you can look after themselves, that big girls like you are strong and brave and so very clever. And I smiled as I told you that you might just need to keep me around for a little while longer though, because whilst you might not need me anymore, now that you’re five and all…I still need you. 

And how true that is my darling girl. 

I need your smiles. 

I need your cuddles. 

I need your laughter. 

I need you. 

You see, I think I’ll always need you my love. To remind me how precious life is and to keep me going when times get tough. 

Five. 

Gosh, I can’t believe that you’re five already! 

I looked back through my old posts the other day and found four. My letter to you from one whole year ago. And whilst the shock that yet another year has gone by already is still the same (about as bad as finding that additional wrinkle on my face, or your Daddy pointing out a grey hair in the back of my head!), and the question “how did we get here already?!” remains…somehow five doesn’t seem too bad. 

You are reading. So brilliantly. 

You are writing. So neatly (massive brownie points from your neat freak mother there!). 

You sing at the top of your voice and you don’t care who hears you. 

You twirl and skip whenever you can. 

You love your brother so fiercely, and probably wish he didn’t exist so fiercely too! 

You are becoming you. 

And it’s a thrill. 

It’s bloomin hard work, because you’re stubborn as a mule and so very opinionated, but you make life better.  You make everything better. 

So, from one pain in the backside to another…welcome to being five. I hope it’s all you dreamed it would be. I hope you learn so much and dream so big. 

Happy Birthday Ruby Roo. 

I love you so much, forever and a day, xxx

we stand together.

I feel lost. Lost at sea.
What is happening to this world?
Where will the next attack be?

Children. Sweet children. Alone and in pain.
Fire. Nails. Bolts. Ripping things apart.
For what? What is there to gain?

Sometimes I wonder. But do I want to understand?
What goes on in their heads.
Why they have done what they have meticulously planned.

My children. My life. My day to day.
Everyone lives life differently but we are basically the same.
So why were these people targeted?
Who am I to say?

No man is an island.
No one better than the rest.
Each of us is valuable. Memorable.
Let us not put that concept to the test.

It doesn’t bear thinking about.
What might happen next.
I just hope we see peace on the other side.
So that my children never have to hide
From whoever they become. Wherever they end up. Whomever they love.

Peace. Tolerance. Understanding.
Respect for one another.
How to live as best we can
Mother. Father. Sister. Brother.

I weep today for those that have died.
So many tears I have cried.
And have pulled my children in extra close.
Because they are the future.
And they need to understand love and tolerance the most.

So let us stand together. One and all.
We won’t be beaten. Not ever.
We remain proud. Fight harder. Stand tall.

Value all that is right and good.
Never stronger
Never better
Than what we are together.

Always.

To those that have died, are injured and are still missing.
#westandtogether

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the test.

We are definitely being tested right now.

Someone, somewhere thinks it’s time to give us a right good kick up the backside.

It’s like they’re saying, “Oh, so you think you’re having a good time!? Here’s ten tonnes of melodrama, stroppy almost five year old and a whole heap of guilt just to ice that cake of yours!”

Thanks for that. Whoever you are.

Ok, so I’m being dramatic.  

I guess the first thing to say is that I know my daughter is not naughty.

I know full well that she is a gem, and that she is so lovely.

So the next thing to say then is this…

How do you discipline someone who is, on the whole, really lovely, when all of a sudden they start constantly doing things to upset their little brother? When they just refuse to listen? When they backchat you all the time? 

Yesterday I tried some discipline. Yesterday I followed through on the threat to send Ruby to her room if she continued being naughty and didn’t eat her dinner properly as she had been asked to.

And my word. The tantrum that ensued was immense.

Immense.

I instantly felt absolutely awful. Like the worst Mummy in the world.

What had she actually done wrong? Was I overreacting? Had I made a mountain out of a molehill?

I am still questioning myself, even now, 24 hours after “the incident”.

Because this is what being a parent does to you.

The worst thing about it all was that when she had actually calmed down and I started to talk with her about what had happened and why I have to start following through on punishments with her, was what she said to me.

She wailed, “But all I ever want to do is make you happy. And all you do is yell at me.”

Is this true? Have I become the worst Mummy in the world? Are the thoughts I have at the back of my mind actually true?

I cried.

I cried in-front of my daughter.

And I hugged her and squeezed her and told her the following:

“I love you. I love you more than I have loved anything or anyone in the whole entire world. I love you so much that sometimes my heart feels like it will burst. You also make me more cross than I feel I have ever been. Not because you are naughty, but because I want to do the best job of being your Mummy that I possibly can. So that you can become the best grown-up that you possibly can.”

Her breathing became slower and we hugged even closer.

“It’s not your job to make me happy. It’s my job to make sure you are happy. To keep you safe and to show you how to be the best Ruby that you can possibly be. Do you think I would be doing a good job of being a Mummy to you if I just let you do all those things that are naughty, or dangerous or mean to Henry?

She said no, and that she understood.

And we hugged even closer and I told her I loved her some more.

This kind of thing doesn’t happen very often. In fact it’s really rare that she is this “naughty”. Like I said, I know my daughter is a lovely little girl.

So when it does happen I find it difficult. Really difficult.

Parenting is no easy ride, and whilst it’s fair to say that we chose to put ourselves in this situation, it’s also fair to say that sometimes? Sometimes it is so hard work. And that’s alright. It’s fine to think like that. 

Her behaviour is testing us to our limits at the moment. But we crack on, and today has been a much better day.  

We are doing the best we possibly can, and hopefully in years to come when all this is a memory and I am wishing, wishing, wishing that we could have this time back again she will understand that she is the most precious thing to me.

I love you Ruby Roo.

Always.

 

now you are two.

It’s such a cliche to say that I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by. But it’s the absolute truth.

I think, in all honesty, that time actually seems to have gone by faster with Henry than it ever did with Ruby.

And all I find myself wanting to shout is “SLOW DOWN!”.

True, there are some days that I wish time would go faster so I can get home from another day at work/get them to bed because they are behaving like beasts/have some time on my own for once…but the vast majority of the time I wish it would just slow down.

It’s already been a week since Henry’s second birthday, and I wanted to mark the occasion properly on my blog last week but, as usual, I just didn’t get the time.

So here it finally is, some thoughts on our son…now that he is two.

Monday’s child is fair of face…

You were born on a Monday. Monday 4th May 2015, at 2.15pm.

And whilst you looked more like a smushed up, puffed up frog when you were first born than a glorious beauty, you have always been incredibly fair of face my love.

There are so many different things that I could say to you, now that you are two. But the one thing that I want to say most of all is how proud I am of you.

You have been through so much in your short little life so far, yet you still manage to smile and laugh and charm your way through the days. Like nothing ever happened to you. I hope this zest for life and your fighting spirit follows you though the rest of your days – because you will go far, my son, if it does.

Whenever you’re being an absolute devil-child (throwing food around screaming that you “like it” which, for you, means that you don’t/hitting your sister/throwing yourself out of your cot/terrorising the cat etc. etc.) I sigh and think back to the time we nearly lost you. To when you were so tiny and so poorly. And I remember that we are lucky to still have you (and that I am a short-tempered, overreacting, strop-monster that needs to take a step back and remember that you’re just a two year old!).

I love how you chuckle. That whole body shake chuckle that shows you find something really funny. I love how your face paints a thousand words, and the cheeky expressions you pull – especially when you know you’re not meant to be doing something! I love the way you poke your belly button and giggle. I love your obsession with blueberries. I love how much you actually love your sister. I love how you snuggle into my neck. I love the nicky noo noo dance you do with Ruby. I love how you love to play!

Time is indeed flying by, but with each and every day that passes you become so much more to us.

And if time has to carry on whizzing by, then so be it. At least we have you here with us, and at least we’re trying everything we can to make the very best of each day with you and your sister.

So my little man…if nothing else, then please remember this. You have brought such joy into our lives. You have made our family complete, and we love you so so very much.

Keep on being cheeky. Keep on being so happy you could burst. Keep on babbling about nothing in particular yet making it sound like the most important words anyone has ever uttered. Keep on laughing at your sisters jokes. Keep on secretly stealing fruit from the fridge.

Keep on being you.

Our Henry.

We love you.

a north-eastern holiday.

Forget the middle-east…Dubai can wait! The north-east is where it’s at for a family holiday these days!

Now, don’t get me wrong, put me on a plane to Dubai and face me with seven star service and uninterrupted sunshine for a week and I would probably choose that over Alnwick, Northumberland, BUT – we have just returned from a wonderful five days of family time and I can honestly say we would highly recommend it.

We booked a little house called Red Door via cottages.com – a website we use quite regularly, especially since having the children.

It wasn’t the best, being totally honest. But it was clean and a good base from which to travel around Northumberland. And since it took us almost a month to decide what we wanted to do and finally get round to booking something, we were lucky to find anything at all that didn’t cost us a month’s mortgage payment!

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Mr O’s family are from Northumberland, and he spent much of his childhood holidaying in the area – something that prompted him to want to take our children up there. So we tootled on up the A1 and found ourselves in Alnwick – a beautiful little market town on the South Bank of the River Aln.

If you’ve never been to Northumberland, you could probably be forgiven for wondering what the fuss is all about. Why would you head so close to Scotland and not cross the border? What is there up there but old coal mines? And you probably think it’s all just about Lindisfarne?

You would be wrong!

We spent the whole week cooing over scenery (OK, I spent the whole week cooing over scenery), enjoying miles of glorious beaches, walking through picturesque little fishing villages, eating the most amazing seafood and discovering history we never even knew existed – it was just fabulous.

The best day by far, in my opinion, was the day that we spent at Alnwick Castle and The Alnwick Garden.

Mr O would disagree – he would say it was the day spent on the beach at Seahouses…but since I HATE sand (see previous post here for more info!) I will not agree with him, even though I felt myself the most relaxed I’ve been in a while on that beach.

It was, actually, if I dare admit it, blissful.

The Alnwick Castle and Garden experience, whilst quite expensive, was a full day of brilliant family fun. We spent hours and hours outdoors (yep, the small ones slept well that night!!) exploring gardens, finding out names for plants, wading through fallen blossom with Ruby taking the opportunity to throw it at us at every turn of the path, and laughing our socks off at the silly court jester who threw fire and genuinely made Ruby fear for her safety – hilarious to see!!

I quite fancied the ‘On Location’ tour, which showed you all the bits of the castle that had been used in films such as Harry Potter and Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves – but since that took place at 3.30pm and Ruby had had all of her fun already, she deemed it “too boring” and so we hot footed it out of there before a huge wobbly/major embarrassment kicked in.

That evening we ate out at a place called The Jolly Fisherman in a teeny little village called Crastor. We tried Oysters for the very first time (and we weren’t sick!) and enjoyed gorgeous fresh fish and lobster in beautiful surroundings – with lashings of Alnwick Gin!

We saved money where we could by making sandwiches for lunch and we ate in the house a couple of evenings, which actually worked out quite well all in all.

If you’ve seen my Instagram feed you will know I’ve already said that I need another holiday to get over this one though.

Whilst my brain switched from overdrive to relax, my body is shattered. We didn’t sleep very well at all with Henry in our room – and not at all most nights as he decided that he couldn’t be without me and clung to me like a limpet (an after-effect of his operation?).

Still – it was a brilliant holiday, and we crammed in enough to make the memories last for some time, I hope.

Worn out but very happy.

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A good summary for a lovely time with the family.

Roll on the next staycation…Devon in July!

Speak soon,
K x

the days after.

Children are resilient, they said.

They bounce back so quickly, they said.

And…thank goodness, but it seems they were right!

Henry’s operation and subsequent time in recovery took all of 40 minutes. He was back in my arms before I’d even had a chance to finish my Costa Coffee hot chocolate in the strange little cafe at the entrance to Queen’s Hospital, Burton.

The hospital at which I’ve had (too) many a stay, at which Ruby was born, Henry was born, treated for meningitis and the hospital that I wished we’d never have to return to.

He cried so much when he woke from surgery that I could hear the theatre nurse bringing him to us from the other side of the hospital. I grabbed him and held him so close, and he clung to me so tightly I was certain I’d never let go.

After a mammoth sleep of 1.5 hours in my arms (if I’d known he was going to sleep that long I would have sat on the bed…my bum was so numb!) he woke up and demanded a biscuit. And that’s when I knew that everything would be alright!

After 10.5 hours without food or water, the bottomless pit then proceeded to consume the world’s biggest banana, an entire pack of Mini Cheddars, 2 x digestive biscuits and a ham sandwich along with about 4 Tippee cups of water!

Definitely alright.

After he’d finished his feast he grabbed his coat and made a run for it. Seriously. He was out of the door and saying goodbye to the nurses before we knew what was happening!

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We were exhausted. He was on cloud nine.

So we brought him home.

Our baby yelled for his sister the minute we pulled onto the drive, and she was thrilled to have him back.

He had a good night of sleep, only woken by Ruby who was crying so much after a bad dream where a cat was biting her bottom (no idea what that’s about!?) and seemed perfectly fine. Until we had to administer his drops.

The poor thing screamed and cried and desperately tried to wriggle away from me. 3-4 drops 3 times per day to try and help his ears heal and to get rid of the infection that the surgeon found whilst in there adding the grommets.

But, two hours later he was back on fighting form, hiding in the toy box, shouting at Ruby, running around the house and generally being a tinker…

It will take him time to fully recover. I know that.

He spent much of the first evening after the op cuddled into me, crying when I left the room and resisting sleep – almost scared to drift off, perhaps a hang up from the operation? Something isn’t quite right as he just will not let you leave him, when normally he would snuggle his monkey and drift off without issue (most of the time!!). 

I really hope that putting him through this procedure proves to be the right thing to have done.

We’ll see in three months time, I guess, as that’s the next time we need to see the consultant. 

Cross your fingers folks!

 Until then I’m taking every opportunity for extra snuggles and cuddling him in close.