Archive for October, 2007

Should I NaBloPoMo?

Most of the bloggers I read regularly are preparing to participate in NaBloPoMo — or National Blog Posting Month — during which bloggers post something to their blogs every single day for the whole month of November. Part of me really wants to join in — I think I’d enjoy the discipline of blogging everyday — but part of me is wary of biting off more than I can chew. Taking care of two children under the age of 2-and-1/2 can really wreak havoc with your time. Some days I don’t manage to brush my teeth, or eat much, or even to have a cup of tea all day (I had one today, but it was stone cold when I drank it). Some days I don’t have time to think straight. However would I manage to blog every day? Would I be able to get to the computer every day? …And could I think of anything coherent to say when I got there? Would I enjoy it, or would it turn blogging into another chore I have to do each day? Would it I be more chilled by letting my thoughts out daily, or would it add more pressure to my life?

And… what do they do to you if you fall behind?

I’ve been toying with the idea of joining up for a couple of weeks now… and putting off committing. Today is the last day of October. NaBloPoMo begins tomorrow. Decision time — do I jump?


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I held back a bit on that last post. I think I felt I needed to keep it all polite and tidy but, hey, it’s my blog — my thoughts — so why should I keep it any more sanitised than what runs through my head?

So, you know the bit in my previous post where I said,

At one point, I went dizzy — I think I’d forgotten to eat anything since breakfast and it was now nearing evening — and I suddenly thought, What if I died? How long would it be before anyone realised? …And what would the baby eat? Somehow, everything seemed that basic.

What I actually thought to myself was, What if I died? What would the baby eat? She won’t take a bottle. She’d starve to death! But… if they found me before I went cold, they could probably prop her up next to me and she could have one last feed before rigor mortis set in and that would give them a bit more time to figure out what to do.

That is how basic things get when you become a mother. You know when otherwise cool, sane, rational, fun-loving people you know have kids and one day turn around and say — the way they all say — “Oh, my priorities have changed completely!” and it kind of sets your teeth on edge? Well, I understand it now. The things that are most important to me now are the reliability of our food supply, the security of our four walls when we all go to sleep at night, our physical safety as we walk down the street, and our health — and theirs before mine. Those are real concerns to me now, rather than the assumptions that they used to be whilst I focused on my other interests. It’s as if all the superfluous stuff of life has been boiled off rapidly and I am left with the reduction: a rich stock of just the necessities. It is basic and crude. It is straight to the point. It is motherhood.

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God bless the single parents of this world. The whole time M was away in the States, I wanted to post about how hard it was taking care of these two on my own, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to advertise to whole blogosphere that I was on my own (and yeah, the whole blogosphere reads my blog — my hits are in the millions, I tell ya).

I say I wanted to post about it, but I didn’t stand a chance anyway. I never got near the computer. I never got near a cup of tea. I never got near a decent meal for the whole week. In eight days on my own with the girls, I managed to eat only two meals, and both of those were tinned soup poured over rice. The rest of the week, I existed on snacks grabbed on the sly and eaten over the sink while no one was looking (so no one would start begging, “Mine? Mine?”). I was rushing like a maniac from the moment I woke up to moment I finally collapsed into bed, usually somewhere around 2am.. 3am… I never realised until that week how much I rely on M getting home and lightening the load a bit. Without him, the treadmill just never stopped. I can honestly say, I don’t know how single parents do it, and I have a new found respect for them.

And that was just the normal day-to-day stuff. To put the icing on the cake, we had a couple of moments of gravity that really drove home the reality of the situation. The first was that I came down ill the day after M left: I had a fever, the shakes, aches in my muscles, and a headache that was trying to punch its way out of my skull. I felt rotten and suddenly realised how hard this could really be, if this illness got worse, and how vulnerable I actually was, with no family or friends nearby to call on for help (I do have friends nearby — I do have friends — but none who were easily in a position to help). Fortunately, whatever it was decided to visit me for just one day, and I felt much better the next morning. But it had been an eye-opener.

Unfortunately, that same next day, E2 woken up from her nap with two severely swollen eye-sockets. I went in to get her and it looked like she’d taken a couple of punches. Her left eye was grotesquely puffed up and blue underneath, and her right eyelid was so swollen that she could hardly get it open even halfway. After E1’s allergic reaction, that sent alarm bells ringing like mad in my head. I rang NHS Direct, who quickly decided they wanted a local doctor to speak to me. He decided he wanted us to go up to the little local hospital and told me he would have them ring me to let me know what would be a good time to come in (our local hospital is that small that they only have one doctor on staff overnight). It was getting fairly late and I wasn’t sure what to do — E1 was getting groggily tired — so I rang some friends to ask if they could come round to babysit while I took E2 up to the hospital. I don’t think they quite realised what I was saying, because the answer was, “Yes, ok, of course, but… as long as it’s not too late, because I’m really tired and I have a busy day at work tomorrow…” I know that the penny hadn’t dropped yet, but in that moment, I realised again how vulnerable a single parent can be. Fortunately, I got the word to come in almost immediately after that, so I didn’t need a babysitter. I packed a small bag of supplies in case we got sent to the large district hospital for the night, and we left. The doctor looked her over, but decided she was alright and that it was probably just my virus from day before manifesting itself in the baby and it would pass — which it did. And as we were leaving the hospital, my friends pulled up, having finally grasped the situation and realising I might need their moral support. I had been holding a lot of fear and tension inside, and was so pleased to see them.

Those two incidents aside, the rest of the week went… well, not smoothly by any stretch of the imagination, but smooth enough. Still, I was never far from the thought that I was the only person taking care of these two little ones; that if anything happened, there was no one else there to know. At one point, I went dizzy — I think I’d forgotten to eat anything since breakfast and it was now nearing evening — and I suddenly thought, What if I died? How long would it be before anyone realised? …And what would the baby eat? Somehow, everything seemed that basic.

Even the fact that I wouldn’t post on here about the week I was having showed that I was very aware of our vunerability. A woman, home on her own, with two small children — it tapped into every fear that I’ve been carrying in my subconscious since these girls were born.

But it was only a week. A blip. It’s over, and it passed just like that. Nothing major happened, no one died, no one even came near to dying. I didn’t even think about as much as I’ve made it sound like I did, because I just didn’t have the time. Mostly, it was just go go go.

So, I take my hat off to anyone who does this regularly: to all the single parents, however they find themselves alone caring for children. It’s an incredibly big task. I can’t imagine doing it forever, with no one walking through the door at the end of the day or the week or ever to lighten the load. Their children may never appreciate what they do, but I do.

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I was overcome by a momentary urge to get back in shape and decided to do some crunches with the baby on board, as I vaguely recalled seeing in some magazine or another.

I now realise you’re supposed to do them like this:

But I did them with her lying flat on my chest.


It’s really hard to focus on your abs when there’s drool rolling slowly down your neck.

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Tonight, E1 had quinoa in a sauce of liquidised spinach, kale, and mango, with chicken chunks and strong Cheddar cheese. I tasted it and… it was DE-licious!

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How’s this for a twist? The other day, M was offered a new job here in the UK as well. There you are, feeling like life is crazy enough, and suddenly you’re drowning in more choices and more decisions to be made!

There was an ad in the paper last month for a job that looked nearly perfect for M, and I ordered him to apply, partly because jobs like that come up so rarely in our little corner of the sticks that it seemed too good to miss, but mostly so that there was something in pipeline over here in case his interview week in the US turned out to be a complete flop. If that were to happen — and he were to come home feeling rejected and dejected — I thought it would be a very good thing to have one last possibility still cooking away here in the UK.

He filled out the application just before he left for the US; I sent it off while he was away; they rang and arranged an interview for the day after he got home; he went into it slick and polished after a marathon week of interviews in the US; he came home feeling like he’d aced it; they called and offered a job. It’s doing exactly what he does now, but much more locally, with another qualified technician instead of an apprentice, and… with a pay rise.

He looked at me. “What do I do?” He’s such an honest guy, he’d pass this up because we’re most likely moving in a few months.

I said, “You take the job.”

“But we’re leaving…”

“You take the job because, if it all goes terribly wrong — if the economy implodes, if the US market crashes, if the jobs disappear, and the move doesn’t happen — you will need to have taken this job. And if the move does go ahead, taking this job means you’ve made more money between now and then, and we have more money to move on, and you won’t be the first guy to have taken a job and then had to quit a few months later. It’s a big company — your leaving won’t break it. They’re not hiring you to be the CEO… they don’t even have to train you at all.”

He wasn’t convinced, and asked me to get my dad’s opinion as well. My dad said he agreed with me 100% and pointed out that, with the economy doing all the crazy stuff it’s doing, we need to cover as many bases as we can. Yes, M had a very good week in the States, but nothing is set in stone yet. No contracts have been signed. We are still here in the UK. Until we are over there and he is working, until the ink has dried on a contract, we need to keep our options open.

M rang them back and accepted, and handed in his notice yesterday. No more driving 2 hours one-way before and after doing a hard day’s physical labour. No more apprentices who can’t be left to get on with the job. We’re not quite sure how the pay will work out: the hourly rate is considerably higher, but he will lose out on a travel allowance and you never know what the actual hours are until you’re in the job and doing them. But we think it should be an improvement — maybe by a little, maybe by a lot. He is over the moon. Over the moon.

I am so proud of him. What a power he is when he’s focused, positive, and confident! If only he could sustain that, instead of sparking and fading, as brilliant and short-lived as a firework.

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We had a rotten day the other day and it really got me down. I didn’t know what was going on, everything was spiraling out of control, and I was having so much trouble climbing back up. Yesterday, M presented a revelation: his sinuses had kicked up that day and given him a headache so intense that he thought he was going to have to ask me to take him to hospital again, in a replay of our late-night trip there last year when he could barely walk and had to have three injections in his backside to control the pain enough to go to sleep. The painkillers the doctor gave him that night were so strong that he instructed me to wake M every two hours and ask him his name, to be sure he was still cognizant. That was a scary night.

And it turns out that he was nearing that point the other day: sinus pain, headache, and nauseous all day. Barely functioning, by all accounts. And here’s the thing — he never told me. Early in the day, he’d mentioned that his sinuses were “giving him some trouble,” but that was the last I heard of it. Perhaps I could have gleaned that all was not well when I saw him breathing peppermint vapours later, but I was busy with the girls and it didn’t penetrate my subconscious. To me, if you are ill, you tell your life-partner so they can help. That’s what life-partners are for. You don’t keep something that debilitating to yourself. You don’t allow yourself to grow more and more miserable during the day, more and more foul, less and less able to interact socially, and not tell your partner, so that she ends up thinking is every bad thing under the sun instead of the physical ailment it actually is.

When he finally told me yesterday that this is what it had been, I told him that he should have shared it with me. Again. He does this suffering-in-silence routine on a regular basis, and it doesn’t seem to matter how much I urge him to tell me when he’s ill. He just doesn’t, and I never have any idea whether today’s mood is due to work, or me, or the kids, or life, or the weather, or… ill health. I have no way of knowing, because he will not tell me. I cannot help him, because he will not tell me. I imagine the worst.

He thinks he tells me. He said yesterday, “I did tell you. I said my sinuses were acting up.” It doesn’t matter when I explain that I have no way of knowing whether his saying that his sinuses are “giving him some trouble” means he’s slightly bothered by them or we’d better get ready to go to hospital. He has told me, so I should understand. Degrees of severity are immaterial.

We did note that he suffered no sinus pain, headaches, or migraines whilst in the US, despite being under significant stress and upheaval — the usual triggers. And yet, he’s suffered to some degree nearly every day since he’s come home. There must be something here that is setting it off, but I’ve no idea what. He won’t go to a doctor about it. Does anyone out there have any thoughts as to what it might be?

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