Monthly Archives: December 2015

I can see clearly now the rain has gone

The last few weeks remain challenging as my illness goes on as do my visits to hospitals & doctors & consultants – oh my.. but the latest developments is a blinding skull crushing endless headache that has been my constant companion for two weeks now, it is affecting my vision, I wear sunglasses all day and spent most of the time lying down in a darkened room. Screen time is limited because it is too painful and it also means I can’t read anything. I’m dosed up on lots of lovely painkillers that aren’t quite touching the sides of the pain and they mean that I can’t drive essentially leaving me housebound. This situation has therefore forced me to literally just ‘sit and be’.


I was feeling most despairing of the situation until I hit upon a drug combo that helps lifts the pain slightly for a for a few hours a day and it has been during these periods of time that I have developed a clarity about the things that I enjoy doing and that bring me genuine pleasure. Top of my list is reading, I adore books, all looks, old books, new books, Amazon & Waterstones are my guilty late night online shopping addictions. I have missed reading for the last few weeks, my little forays into other lives and worlds, the importance of being able to pick up and immerse myself in a book has never occurred to me to be anything other than ‘just what I do’ but since I haven’t been able to I have been reminded what a simple and satisfying pleasure and, often a comfort,it is to me. It is not something I shall take for granted again.

I am now also extremely grateful to the BBC Radio podcasts that have allowed me to listen to books instead, so far Rogue Gerries, Mary Barton and part way through Vanity Fair. In Our Time has also become a firm favourite, a 45 minute discussion on a specific topic hosted Melvyn Brag with a panel of experts, the topics are very diverse; history, religion, science etc, it has taught me loads.


As a parent, something I am ashamed to admit and wasn’t really fully aware of was the fact that when I am with baby Lulu I am not always 100% ‘present’. But lately we have been lying in bed together cuddling and talking , listening , and giggling together. I realise that gleaning pleasure from these things seem ridiculously obvious but for me I feel that its been the silver lining of my time off work, and the inability  of me to be detracted by the TV or phone or tech has given me the gift of time with her and it has been an honour.


I’ve learnt not to sweat the little things too much, when you are in chronic pain, unable to see properly and suffering from insomnia the fact that I haven’t hoovered for  week and the floor has ‘bits’ on doesn’t seem very important at all, its not even been put high on the list of ‘things to do’. I have lost my appetite but cups of gorgeous to chocolate with sticky sweet unctuous marshmallow melting on top has brought me great comfort, as have hot water bottles on my neck, lying down for an afternoon nap, being able to really listen to what my body really needs, sleep, food, water, and the company go my constant companion, Livia.




Christmas is coming & the goose is getting fat



I adore Christmas time, I mean, I really really love it, more than I can express. The twinkly lights, the gorgeous food, the open fires, the planning, the gift buying (and recieving), the shop windows and the Radio Times.


Christmas is guaranteed to happen, no one can take it away or cancel it (not even the Sheriff of Nottingham) and for one who had a childhood of uncertainty and flux the static nature of it was very important to me. It makes me feel safe. I simply cannot in any way relate to people who say they hate it, that its stressful, that cooking Christmas dinner is anything but a pleasure – really, it is only like a Sunday lunch only larger! But I can see now that there is anxiety attached when you have children. You want to buy them ALL the lovely things (thanks endless TV toy adverts – not)  and make it an amazing time for them. Particularly as the window of innocence and magic for children seems to be shrinking. I can also see how for separated parents it can start to feel like you are entering a gift buying competition . I have felt the odd twinge regarding this but so far my ex and I have not entered into the arena with any seriousness. On occasion we will buy a joint gift if it is a big expensive one – her John Lewis Play Kitchen Last year is a case in point. We give each other pointers if she has mentioned anything in particular, so far so good. And plus, I bought her a puppy last month so I definitely win don’t I!!! Hey, he bought a kitten two months after moving out – he started it.


The only thing I cannot offer Lulu is a big family Christmas. On my side there is me and my mum and Lulu. On my ex’s side there are aunts and uncles and cousins, his old school friends and their families – he moved back to his home town when he left me. Not to mention his girlfriend and her children and her family. I can see it now. Carols around the piano, a James Bond movie…only kidding, they don’t have a piano. Goodness knows its hard enough as an adult not to fall prey to the adverts telling us how Christmas ‘ought to be’ – large cuddly happy families gathered for fun, frolics, feasting and festivities so I really hope that isn’t what four year old Lulu thinks it ‘ought to be’ because I would hate for her to be ever disappointed. Though it would be understandable. I had wanted to create the large family Christmas’ I had heard tell of but had never experienced. My ex husband’s family regularly organise get togethers which are full of love and chat and fun which I was part of but of course things are now very different but I want Lulu to love this time of year as much as I do, (but for very different reasons hopefully) and so far I think she does.


On Christmas day in my house we open ALL our presents as soon as we wake up and we have chocolate for breakfast if we want and we eat dinner late and we wear jammies all day if we want to, so on one hand having such a small select gathering means less ‘having’ to do things in a timely fashion as people are arriving or leaving or whatever and we can enjoy being together. I don’t believe that there is a formula for Christmas happiness – alone, together, at home or out, I think taking the time to be nice to yourself on Christmas Day is the best thing to do. My absolutely favourite quote about Christmas comes from one of my all time idols, the food writer Elizabeth David “If I had my way – and I shan’t – my Christmas Day eating and eating would consist of an omelette and cold ham and a nice bottle of wine at lunchtime, and a smoked salmon sandwich with a glass of champagne on array in bed in the evening.” (Elizabeth David’s Christmas – complied by Jill Norman. Penguin/Michael Joseph 2003).

Basically, no one else is ever having as much fun as you think they are, Christmas itself is just one day, and try and be nice to yourself.











Here I go again on my own.

Last night Lulu sat in her bed weeping, begging me not to send her to school in the morning because she hated everything about it, and more specifically because she was lonely at school. Lonely? How could my gorgeous, kind, vivacious baby even know the existence of such a word let alone have a concept of what it means? and so there, sat on her bed holding her hand and wiping away her tears my heart fell out of my chest and shattered all over the floor. Which is where it remains.

I have written previously about Lulu’s difficulties settling into school, but I genuinely felt that things had improved. She doesn’t dawdle in the morning and scoots happily off to her class room, other children say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to her each day, when I drop her at her class room she goes off with out a backward glance to do her drawings at the communal table. She has never been sent home from school, apart from the time she had laryngitis. On Sunday night she indicated she didn’t want to go to school the next day because she had no friends and no one who she asks will play with her, that the only people she speaks to are teachers, that people play rough in the playground and she sometimes gets pushed. I have already spoken twice with her class teacher about my concerns but she assured me that Lu does have friends, does play with others and is never sad at school. I believe her so what to do?

I like Lulus school, it is academically good, the staff are nice, the parents and children are nice, the headmistress is lovely, the ethos is brilliant but not all children will fit into all schools and visa versa, neither of these things are necessarily anyones fault. Square peg, round hole. And this is the conclusion I am coming to regarding Lulu. There are 60 children in her reception class, split into four groups but at anyone time, including the children from nursery who come into play, there can be 80 plus small children in one room doing any number of activities that they choose, drawing, writing, craft, art etc. It is a vibrant place to be but I can see that it can also be potentially overwhelming. Lulu’s concept of having’friends’ may be different to the actual reality of it but she started full time nursery at 10 months and didn’t seem to have these issues. She isn’t a ‘I have one best friend’ type of child, she plays with lots of different children but is finding it hard when she asks someone to play and they say no. She doesn’t seem to grasp that it isn’t because they don’t like her but they that want to do something else.

I hung out in Lulus classroom this morning for an hour or so, just watching what was going on, parents are allowed to stay as long as they want, it isn’t sormething I have done before as I don’t think it is helpful for Lulu as it could prove to be a distraction but I needed to see what was going on. It was as I expected, a classroom of happy, loud, busy children. Playing in one area then moving on to other things as they wished, Lulu did the same.

The only conclusion I have come to is that the school may just ‘too much’ for her, that she may fit better in a smaller class, a smaller school but its not as if we can magic these things out of nowhere. I am a single parent with no family, save my mum, I can’t afford school fees for a private school, I could consider one of the small local village schools but how do I get her there and home. I work full time in London and my mum can’t drive. So what to do? I’ve decided to sit with it a while, and see how the next few months go, but I worry that she will feel I have ignored her fears, that I don’t care when she says she is unhappy, that I increase her sense of loneliness. I just want Lulu to be happy, that’s all, she is only four. That’s not too much to hope for is it?