This was my complaint to my Beloved Husband. His response:
“Well at least you can. A hundred years ago, you’d just have had to be abnormal.”
Not quite the reply I was hoping for, but he does have a point.
My GP was more sympathetic, pointing out that if I was diabetic I wouldn’t have a problem with using insulin to stay alive. But because it is my brain that is malfunctioning rather than my pancreas I find it harder to accept the need for pharmacological support.
I have a love-hate relationship with my antidepressants. I’m sure they have literally saved my life at times. On the other hand, they are strong drugs and they do have side effects. I have now been taking them for nearly 22 years. More than half my life. Longer than I’ve been married to my Beloved (he knew what he was getting into…) If I remember rightly I was about 10 years old the first time I saw a psychologist. Certainly I was still in primary school. I’ve had more episodes of depression than I can count. I’m definitely a hard case. I need these medicines; I know that. I just wish I didn’t.
I’ve recently crashed yet again with another episode. Which has reopened old wounds and unanswered questions. Why me? On the surface I have no good reason for this. I’m happily married, I have three wonderful children, I have a job enjoy, good friends and a secure home. I studied psychology before I became a nurse in an effort to understand it. I have devoured books on the subject. I have swallowed enough fish oil to decimate Atlantic fish stocks. I even learned to love exercise – and believe me that one was tough. If I could have beaten depression by my efforts alone I would have done so by now.
“I’ve always been neurotic. But usually I am at least a functioning neurotic. At the moment I’m not even that.” Me, complaining to my Beloved again. This time I got:
“Being functional is not the most important thing. The most important thing is to be kind.”
Wow. For all the teasing, sometimes he says something so profound, so important it takes my breath away. Wisdom and humour. You can see why I married him.
Walking home from school today with Beanie and little Bear we were discussing Yoda. Apparently, one of the ways you can Yoda is so wise is because he mixes his sentences up. I suggested that I must be wise as well then, because I frequently mix up my sentences, (and get confused, call my children by each others’ names, forget what I was saying, etc). The response was a unanimous “No, Mummy! You’re not wise!”
According to my children, the characteristics I share with Yoda are as follows:
1: I am very old. I suppose from their perspective, 38 is ancient.
2: I am very short. At five foot, one and a half inches, I cannot really argue with that. That half inch is very important, by the way. It must be recognised and included.
3: I have pointed ears. True. Where most peoples’ external ears roll over at the edge, mine are flat with pointy bits. What can I say? I am a mutant.
The main differences between me and Yoda according to my children are that I am not wise and I am not green. I’m generally relieved about the lack of green skin. It would draw unnecessary attention. But it would be nice if my kids thought I was at least a little bit wise!
I like to tell new parents, new mothers especially, about attachment theory. How mummy is the centre of her baby’s world. How mummy is the star at the centre of the universe as far as her children are concerned. This is why babies howl when we leave the room, why as soon as we pick up our infants and cuddle them all is right with their world again. Why our toddlers follow us everywhere, even to the loo. I firmly believe that children need responsive parents and that nurturing and prioritising our children’s attachment needs is the right thing to do.
My children are no longer babies, however. I like to think I’m still quite important to them, but to prevent me getting grandiose they like to tell me what they really think. Beanie, for example, informed me that she prefers Awesome Auntie to me. I did my best not to look too miffed, and replied that I love Awesome Auntie very much too. I recounted this exchange to my sister, who insightfully remarked that Beanie’s preference comes from the fact that “she’s never seen me grumpy and I say yes to everything”. So I did feel slightly mollified.
Next up comes Monkey’s opinion. We had been patronising a local shoe shop in search of new wellies and they had a promotion where you could nominate a “super mum”. Monkey was taken with the posters: they involved superhero cape costumes and he is five, after all. Fishing for compliments, I asked him if he’d nominate me as super mum. He said no, but he would nominate Beloved Husband for super daddy. Serves me right for fishing, I suppose! Then just to make me feel good about myself he told me he likes me because “you’re fatter and cuddlier than Daddy”. Ho hum.
Parents are important. Mothering is a Serious business. But my children are reminding me not to take myself too Seriously. Which sometimes a tough lesson.
A lot has happened in the (almost) four years since I last wrote anything here. Beanie Girl is eight years old. Monkey Boy is nearly six. I went back to work again nearly three years ago, so I am a practising Health Visitor as well as a busy mother. Monkey was diagnosed with joint hyper mobility syndrome and growth faltering. Beloved Husband was made redundant. Both children are now in school.
We bought a television – still not sure this was a good idea. Beloved Husband and I can barely operate the thing it is so complicated. We usually leave it set to cbeebies and mutter darkly about how there only used to be four channels and one on/off switch and life was much simpler in those days! Then we stomp off to read a book. Our children tolerate these grumpy old person moments with amusement.
One of the reasons for my radio silence is my general ineptitude with technology. I had saved my WordPress password in my old laptop and promptly forgotten it. Then of course, the laptop died. It took a while to figure out how to recover it. Ok, so four years is a long while, but these things can’t be rushed!
So why now? What has motivated me to start writing again? Several things: my Beloved Husband’s unemployment has forced us both to think about what’s important in our lives, our children are growing and learning and asking ever-more difficult questions; “Why are planets round, mummy?” “Did Jesus know he was going to rise again after three days?” “How?” And I have suffered further episodes of depression which tends to leave me introspective and Serious. I am hoping that working through some of my thoughts and writing them down will help me gain clarity. I suspect my only readers are my Beloved Husband and my sister, Awesome Auntie, but maybe they will benefit from my musings as well.
Postscript: we looked up why planets are round on Google. I’m not convinced I understood the answer. As for the second question I suggested that Monkey ask either his teacher or our parish priest. He opted for the latter because “Priests are clever about God”!
I have a very wise friend, herself a mother of two young children, who is fond of this expression. Like most truly wise people she is not proud or boastful; she wears her wisdom lightly (and would probably deny that she is wise anyway). Like many wise or insightful expressions, it is a sentence I can return to and learn from again and again.
Some needs are obvious and obviously dissipate once met: if I am hungry and need food, I eat, my need is met, I am satisfied and I stop eating. If I am tired, I need sleep, I sleep and wake up refreshed (hopefully – sometimes my waking is caused by a small person bashing me with a book and demanding I “read it, Mummy!). Other needs are more difficult to identify. Yet others are easy to identify but feel difficult to meet.
La Leche League, an organisation about which I am very Serious, state as one of their principles:
In the early years the baby has an intense need to be with his mother, which is as basic as his need for food.
This is something which I have found to be absolutely true. The intensity of my young children’s need for their mother can feel overwhelming at times. I mean do they really have to follow me into the loo? No one can tell me, or any other mother, exactly when the need will start to lessen, to feel satisfied. It is nice to be needed though. Even if I would occasionally like to have a wee in peace…
Well I’ve done it. I’ve registered the name and here I am writing my first post. I’ve been thinking about it for nearly a year, making lists, deliberating about titles and content and so forth, but there’s no hurry is there? Although I’ve got so much to say I don’t where to start…
So who am I? I am a registered health visitor and have recently become a stay at home mum to two noisy, grubby but gorgeous under fives: Little Miss Bean (4) and Monkey Boy (2). So I’m finding out what its really like at the coal face of full time parenting, somthing I’ve been cheerfully advising others on for years. I think, however, that my dual role as mother and health visitor gives me a particular perspective. I’ve always had lots to say for myself, and blogging will (I hope) give me a creative outlet and give my family and friends a break and a chance to get a word in edgeways.
I am not very technically savvy yet, I mean I can find a web page and I can shop online (much to my Beloved Husband’s regret), but I am no IT whizzkid. I’ve been reading and admiring other blogs and wanting to join the party for a while though, and when I read this post 7 Ways Starting a Blog is like having your first child I decided to take plunge. After all I didn’t have a clue what I was doing then either!
And the name? Well everything else I came up with was already taken or just too boring for words. And when I was three I really did have a doll called Serious. No doubt that gives an insight into my character. My mother still cannot tell the tale with a straight face. My brother-in-law thought it sounded like a good title for a misery memoir, but as I fortunately have little real misery to recount I thought it would do as a blog name instead.