I touched on this in my last post, the mini man flu has struck super early in my household (if you haven’t had it yet, then it’s coming to a house near you!) but the two year old was taking it pretty well …. until last night that is. It all started with a terrible mistake on my part. The boys came and picked me up from work early given it was absolutely bucketing down with rain and I suspect by this point my husband just wanted to get out of the house. We then stopped for a few bits and pieces at the supermarket where I made the worst mistake known to mankind (in two year old land) and that was to leave the lemonade iceblocks at the supermarket. I mean, how dumb can you get right? Sick two year olds and iceblocks are a given and I left them behind. You’d think I had killed someone the way he carried on, so back in the car I hopped (I’m a sucker) and in rush hour traffic (fabulous!) I raced back down to retrieve the forgotten icy gold.
Yesterday I discovered something rather monumental.
There is a fate worse than a sick husband with so called ‘man flu’.
That fate is in the form of a 3 year old boy who has ‘mini man flu’. He’s not even really that bad at present, he has a mild cough and a cold and his 2 year old brother who has it ten times worse is taking it more in his stride than him. But the three year old is dying. I believe his exact words were ‘Mummy, I can’t live like this anymore *cough cough* I’m dying!‘.
I just wanted to send out a hugeand heartfelt thank you to everyone who responded with such kindness after my post on Tuesday. It was a difficult piece to write, though the words flowed pretty freely once I put fingers to keyboard. I have been getting the most beautiful responses from far and wide, from family to friends to strangers.
Many people have been asking me if I feel any kind of relief after having written it. Right now I just feel a little emotionally drained but I am sure with time the benefit of having got that off my chest will pay off and bring with it some sort of peace.
I have been trying to work out why this has started to really play on my mind lately, why 12 years later the residue of this loss is starting to come to the forefront of my mind and play havoc on my emotional wellbeing. I was talking to a friend about it recently and her response made total sense.
From the day she died I have had distractions.
First, my relationship with my now husband was literally a couple of weeks old when she died. So I had him as a distraction. Then we got engaged and I went to Europe for my big overseas holiday. Planned a wedding. Got married and bought a house. Started trying for a baby and discovered it was not that easy. Cue three years of battling infertility, an obsession of trying to get pregnant that took over my life. 3 x IVF cycles. Finally, a pregnancy! Cohen was born, new motherhood awaited. Surprise! Baby #2 was on their way when Cohen was 9 months old. Pregnancy again and another newborn.
So many distractions to keep my mind and life busy.
Now, the boys are 3 and 2. Life has settled down into a routine and my mind is quiet by not having so many huge events one on top of the other to concentrate on. So things long buried are starting to come back up. I will probably use this blog at times to write about those.
For now I will just sit quietly, reflect and see where that takes me. x
She picked me a handful of flowers today Marguerites, pansies, some dandelions I had ferociously attacked last autumn but which had nevertheless survived
I looked into that expectant face tendrils of hair falling against the wild flush of summer in her cheeks and knew that soon there would be no more lovingly snatched flowers or breathless smiles quite like that
and so although they weren’t my kind of flowers I put them in a vase and kissed her and listened to all the things she was trying to say
for childhood cannot be stilled or put on hold until that last desperate moment when, feeling it flutter its wings against us we clutch it too tightly, too late
Like a bird it will simply struggle and fly away.
You wrote this poem about me when I was just a little girl, about the age Finley is now I imagine. You always had a way with words, with creativity and imagination being forefront to the hobbies you later developed into an art. So super talented and boy was I proud to be able to call you my mum.
I look back now and wonder if there were some divine intervention at play in my teenage years that neither of us were aware of. When all my friends were going through an ‘I don’t want to be seen dead with my mum’ stage I was looking forward to our Monday after school shopping trip and afternoon tea at McDonalds, not giving a second thought to all my friends and peers being at the same mall in groups, none of them hanging out with their mums for fun as an after school activity. We always used to share a thick shake and cheeseburgers taking it in turns to switch between your favourite, chocolate and my favourite, banana. The boys at school used to stare at us and whisper as they walked past but it wasn’t me they were looking at, it was you! I think you were quietly flattered to have so many young admirers, my to-be future husband one of them (little did I know then!). The cheeseburger tradition on a Monday is now something I share with my own son Finley on a Monday while Cohen is at kindergarten, except I have swapped the milkshake for a flat white. Perhaps the milkshake will make a reappearance in the future but for now with a three year old and two year old (and boys at that!), a strong caffeine infused coffee is more my cup of tea so to speak. These two boys are hard work! You would have loved them to pieces.
I see you in Cohen sometimes, the way he will stare into space away with the fairies imagining who knows what. Nana says that is something you used to do as a child too, lost in your own little world. Cohen is more like me and Finn is definitely his fathers son and yet opposites attract, with Cohen trailing his father around like a shadow and Finley preferring me. Perhaps in later years that will change as I realise more and more just how alike we are as I get older.
I’m 33 now which is only 7 years off the age you were when you found out you had breast cancer. I remember being in New York on 9/11 and your panic at wanting me to come home immediately. As a parent now I understand your panic, but little did I know at the time that part of the reason behind your hurry was that you had just been diagnosed and you needed me home with you. Life was never the same after that with the cancer hanging over us all like a dark cloud, even in remission.
When it came back I don’t think I ever comprehended the finality of it all.
I had loved and lost before, first with Grandad and then with Aunt Deb. But truly, who can imagine a life without their rock and best friend? I recall a friend at high school losing her mum when she was around 16 and I just couldn’t fathom at the time how she had the strength to go on.
Just 5 years later there I stood in her shoes.
I remember it all happening very quickly. One minute we were in a cafe having a lovely lunch as a family and being in denial that the cancer was back and what that meant, the next I was being called into the bosses office at work early in the morning and told to go straight to the hospital because you had been admitted after waking one night with tingling in your legs that turned into paralysis literally overnight. I spent practically every day thereafter at the hospital. To me it seems like it was months but it can’t have been, though I don’t actually remember for how long it was. I remember we used to hang out and talk about our favourite TV shows, read gossip magazines and drink coffee from the hallway coffee cart. I still didn’t comprehend it. Who can?
But you never came home again.
I don’t think even you knew or cared to admit you wouldn’t be coming home. You were still making big plans. You had giant scrapbooks at home filled with all the places you were going to go, some of them the places you had been before when you lived in London as a young, vibrant and beautiful woman full of promise and big dreams, before I came along and forced you to return home. I hope it was a decision you never came to regret, the decision to keep me and do it all on your own. Deep down I don’t think it was ever something you regretted, though it must have been an extreme change of plans for the life you had envisioned for yourself as a dreamy teenager imagining the adventures of Europe and the big impact you would have on the world with your talents. I must have altered your entire path.
Thank you for keeping me.
To this day I regret not being by your side when you passed away and from the depths of my heart, I am sorry. I just couldn’t do it. By then you were a shadow of yourself, you could barely open your eyes and my pain was too great after watching the woman I loved literally fade away to nothing. But in maturity I now see that I should have put that aside and been there the way I would want my sons by my bedside when I pass over. I can’t imagine them not being there. I was 21 and only thinking about myself as so many young people do.
I hope you can forgive me.
I loved you so much.
Grief does funny things to a person. For me it manifested itself in irrational phobias that were never something that I feared before. It zapped my confidence. It locked me in a ‘paddock’, in a comfort zone that I still struggle to this day to step outside of. I didn’t learn to drive until I was 27 because it terrified me. Flying makes my heart race and makes me feel physically ill, so I avoid it at all costs. When walking alone around the neighbourhood or with the kids I am acutely aware of dogs and I am scared a stray dog is going to attack us, however ridiculous that sounds. At one point I wouldn’t even walk out to our letterbox alone. Social situations outside my group of friends are awkward encounters. Going some place new makes me incredibly nervous. Heights. Water. So many crazy things at complete odds with who I used to be before you left. I have heard however that these things are pretty normal and I am working on it for the sake of my own sons, I do not want them to grow up to fear the world. I need to try and make those changes and step outside of my ‘paddock’. It has been long enough.
So Mum …
Happy Mother’s Day for every one of the 12 years that have since passed and the many more to come. You will always be remembered for the Shona that we knew.
Mother, daughter, sister, wife, niece and friend.
You touched so many lives and I hope you know how much you were loved as you took your last breath.
Loved in every sense of the word.
I can only hope I leave behind an imprint on people’s lives as deep as you did on ours.
Or in reality should I say, gone to the kids? Because let’s be honest, the toys don’t move themselves. And neither do the kitchen utensils. Though I have seen Toy Story so many times that on a particularly sleep deprived evening I could probably be convinced it is true if there were wine involved. Or any alcohol really.
I am currently taking a break from doing my domestic duties on this lazy Sunday and sitting in my reading chair (with a cup of coffee of course!) while looking at the scene playing out in front of me.
Two children fighting over cars, a bottle still on the floor from this morning (oh wait! That one was last nights), a box of opened crackers, the clothes horse with all the clothes hanging on by a thread, one of the rails bent where Finley has taken to sitting on it. The bathroom has a mop leaning against the sink, no toilet mat because three year olds have a habit of getting distracted and missing the bowl, the floor has muddy prints on it after a visit to the park resulted in muddy shoes.
And toys. Everywhere.
I was looking around the house and thinking, thank god none of my friends are here to see this. What would they think of me? Then I got to wondering … Am I really alone here? Am I the only one who seems to feel like they are living in a continual state of chaos? Surely not?
Let’s talk washing – how many of you have so much washing you just simply cannot keep on top of it? Overflowing hampers, washing to fold, discarded towels that have been used by the kids once and are still clean but somehow lay abandoned on their bedroom floor.
And did I mention the toys?
If I am having pre-arranged visitors then I will go all out to rush around the house like a madman trying to get the place looking presentable. But to be honest, I can’t always be bothered. I want my weekends too. And no matter how tidy we make it, within an hour it is back to the state of a pre-school playroom.
So, be honest. Am I alone?
What does your house REALLY look like behind closed doors?
So Mr Google told me that of all the animal kingdom, a fruit fly has the shortest attention span of all, followed closely by the goldfish. I would be inclined to add myself to that list.
I am terrible for getting a sudden obsession with something, starting it and not finishing it before moving on to the next thing. The best example of this is gardening. My husband didn’t want a bar of it so with two little boys underfoot I set about digging my own garden over summer. It is hard work! I became obsessed with Pinteresting garden design and visiting garden centres. The pros to being under 50 and in a hardware/garden centre is that you inevitably get lots of help from the men who frequent these stores. Whether it be the staff, the tradies or the random do-it-yourselfer, I somehow managed to get all the things I needed transported to my car with very little effort at all – trees, pavers, bricks, compost, you name it. It got to the point that I was driving out of town to garden centres because I was too embarrassed by how many times I had been to the local stores and I couldn’t face going back. Again. So I got my garden all dug out and planted over about 5 weeks of summer and then I had a brilliant idea.
A dry creek bed.
Yep. I saw one on Pinterest. How hard could it be? So abandoning my garden (which was now starting to sprout a few weeds) I set to work to create one of these:
Or something like this:
You can see where this is going. Digging a dry creek bed is harder than digging a garden because you have to dig deeper, you have to collect rocks, you have to lay out weed mat and place the rocks in the perfect position to mimic a meandering stream bed. I fear my dry creek bed may turn into a ‘Nailed it’ version of the above examples.
Here is mine:
Please keep in mind it is a work in progress. Was. Because now it is cold and I have rediscovered blogging. I suddenly have a million posts in my head. My writing block has lifted. And this is the problem. Half finished dry creek bed next to my weed garden that is now being taken over by a pumpkin I never knew I planted.
On the weekends I always have to catch up on all the housework including the endless piles of washing that need to be washed, dried and then the worst part – folded. I hate folding washing with a passion, for me it is one of the most tedious aspects of housekeeping and I always end up with massive piles that get dumped on the bed and grow into an insurmountable pile that some refer to as Mount Washmore. But what is worse than humongous piles of washing that you need to fold? Trying to fold it with little helpers.
You all know what I am talking about. The mini ‘helpers’ that continually unfold the washing that has been folded, that think it is there to be tossed up in the air like confetti, that grab it and put it on their head and run around squealing and that ‘help’ to put it away while dropping it all down the hallway floor like a trail of crumbs.
Don’t you just love your mini helpers that make what used to once be easy efficient household chores into the battle of the century?
Here are the other 4 household chores on my list that are impossible to do efficiently with young children …
1. UNLOAD/LOAD THE DISHWASHER
Trying to stop them standing on the lid and tipping the whole thing over is the first challenge, then it’s a race to get all the sharp knives out before they stab: A. Themselves; or B. Their brother/sister/dog/you. Then come the small hands passing you the breakables quicker than you can put them away while simultaneously trying to ‘load’ the dishwasher with dirty dishes before it is properly unloaded and slamming the door shut while the drawers are still out sending the whole lot crashing into the back. I deem this chore perfect for husbands who get home before you or once said child/children are in bed.
Ah, vacuuming. The preparation of clearing all the floors in order to vacuum that the mini me’s deem the perfect opportunity to dump their whole box of Lego/blocks on the floor and spread them around for good measure. Or open the vacuum cleaner and tip the contents of the vacuum bag all the way down the hallway. Or yell ‘my turn!’ over and over while trying to take the handle off you. Or if you are reeeeeally lucky they are scared of the sound of the vacuum and cry great huge sobs the whole time screaming ‘TURN IT OFF! NOOOOO!’. I only know this because I have the child who does that at Nana’s but at home he loves the vacuum cleaner. Strange child. Unfortunately this is one chore usually unsuitable for post bedtime and so you just have to suck it up and endure it. And then they usually tip a whole bag of chips out on the floor straight afterwards anyway, so really, why bother?
3. MAKE THE BED
Usually they see this as the perfect opportunity to either jump on the bed or hide under all the blankets and play peek-a-boo.
How many times have you had to try and clean up spilt sugar or flour, fished broken egg shells out of the mix or better yet, had to clean up broken eggs off the floor that they took great pride in smashing while you had your back turned? Or they stand at the oven screaming they want a cookie and don’t understand that they need to actually cook and then they need to cool down before they are able to be eaten? Then you spend the next 40 minutes with an inconsolable child trying to explain this to them while they think you are the meanest mummy in the whole wide world trying to hold out on them and not let them have a cookie (that probably has broken egg shells and an extra helping of sugar/flour/baking powder in it anyway).
Yep, thought so.
What would you add to this list? And what is your least favourite chore?
To read more like this, follow me on Facebook by clicking here!