Thursday, March 31, 2011

Flower Power

I' ve always believed in flower power. I've always seen the beauty of life in the colour purple, and pink, and yellow and blue. Flowers uplift me almost as much as chocolate (and are better for me!) Even when we are budgeting and tightening our purse strings, I manage to slip a little bunch of bright beauty into the shopping bag. Maybe it's because my mum always had flowers in the house: Gladioli, Alstroemeria, daffofils to hail spring, orange lillies in summer. And now as my mum lies captive in her body, my dad brings her her flowers, a little bit of life in her room every day. And when we can, we sit her up in the kitchen to watch the peep show unfold in the garden as blossoms burst out their rioting colours in the garden.

Today was one of those days that never seemed to end. Ruby has another tummy bug, so puking and pooing took up most of my time, and the girls endless energy sapped mine. So imagine how delighted I was when the doorbell rang and I was greeted with a pink fest of loveliness - this beautiful bunch of flowers from Interflora ( courtesy of the equally lovely Rosie Scribble ( who nominated me to receive them. Thank you, thank you, thank you. They have brightened up my kitchen, my day and my heart.

Monday, March 28, 2011

No-one told the kids!

Holidays obviously mean different things to different people. To me, they mean a large glug of relaxation tinged with a little adventure, with a dollop of good food, great books and a sun glowing like a cherry on top. The emphasis there is relaxation in the form of lying indulgently in the sun after a lazy breakfast and a poolside bar. Clearly this model was established long before little people accompanied me.

My children have a very different idea of holidays. Ruby believes in getting the most of the day by starting it at 5.30 am. Ok for some, if you are allowed the blissful opportunity for several daytime naps. These are not opportunities afforded to parents. Poppy believes that holidays are about as much mummy-incorporated activity as possible - swimming, walking beside her on a pony, circus training, nature trails... you get my drift. And Daisy obviously believes holidays are an opportunity to talk and sing continuously - at volume - for 14 hours non-stop.

But hey, let's not get picky. Whatever the expectations of the holiday, we were together as a family for 10 glorious (slightly exhausting!) days... and there was a large glowing sun like a cherry on top. As often happens, when the crappy domestic drudgery is removed and we just get to hang out together, it's like falling in love all over again. The girls continue to amaze and impress me, and Ruby's little personality makes itself more and more known.

The last six months have virtually undone me. But a bit of sun, a change of scene and lots of (did I mention exhausting?) kid's laughter has given me the first bit of recovery. It didn't make the pain go away - the middle of the holiday marked six months since Mum's stroke, and there was a painful first morning home when the phone stared at me waiting for me to ring her and tell her all our adventures knowing that no-one will ever want to hear those stories as much as she would have.

But. But. The blanket that a life of being loved by her has wrapped round me continues to keep me warm. And this holiday knitted togther more threads in the life experiences of my girls, weaving wonders and adventures into the fabric of our love. The story continues as I open my arms and bring them under my blanket too.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

ungodly ways

It's at times like these, I wished I believed in a god. Then I could shout and rant at him / her / it for the horribleness of my life right now. I do believe in the power of prayer (postive thought anyway), the spirituality of goodness and the shock and awe of nature. She / he / it should be admired, praised, recognised everywhere, and of course as we've seen in the last couple of days, respected.

But I can hardly blame the wind and the rain for my current troubles. Forgetting the fact my mum had a massive stroke that devastated her life - and mine, and the fact I am struggling with a new baby, let me list just a little of the crap that the universe has thrown my way the last 5 months that have left me feeling shattered:
  • mastitus - twice
  • gum infections - twice
  • snowed in - twice
  • chest infections - you got it, twice times 3 girls
  • a week in hospital with my baby on oxygen and a feeding tube
  • car breakdown in pouring rain and two kids and baby in car
  • a leaking roof
  • 10 nights out of 165 with 6 hours sleep (the rest were far less)
  • weeks with the girls, weekends with my mum

and now.... to cap it all... the baby has a vomitting and diarrhea bug. I had to abandon my visit to mum as I was so busy wiping up Ruby's vomit I had no time to sit with her. So at this point in the game, I'd be shouting up at it / her / him to GIVE ME A BREAK!

I have always been rather optimistic. Definitely a half-glass full girl. I am struggling at this stage to find anything in the glass at all. I even find it hard to believe that something won't happen to stop us going on holiday tomorrow - to Morocco (yes I know, but we booked pre- facebook revolutions!). So instead I will say instead, I'm off on holiday tomorrow for ten days togetherness with my family - volcanic ash / uprising and rebellion / sick children notwithstanding.

But just when I think my life cannot get any worse - and I have felt this so many times recently and then it did - I turn on the news and know I am lucky. I may feel at times that my ground is shaking beneath my feet, but for those poor people in Japan yesterday for whom it really did they had no escape. I may feel swept away by the magnitude of the challenges facing me at the moment, but for those poor people who were swept away by the sheer force of nature they had no chance of ever overcoming it. My life is hard at the moment - harder than I ever thought possible - but there is no-one to blame. It is just life, in all it's wonderful and cruel forms. And while there are days I struggle to get through, I am reminded by these terrible events in Japan that at least there will be another day for me. And I wish I believed in a god so I could thank her / it / him.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dying to live

I'm going to die.

I've only just really realised this. It never seemed like a real possibility before. But, I'm going to die and that knowledge has a massive impact on how I want to live.

The suddeness of my mum's - what shall I call it? - demise? life's end? shocked me to my core. One minute she is talking to me on the phone, laughing and telling me she loves me, and then goes to read to my daughters and put them to bed. An hour later, it's all over. Her life as we all knew it. One minute she was involved in every aspect of my life, and the next, she became someone who doesn't know my name.

Now that I know my death is not only a possibility but a definite, I want to make sure I'm really living. I want to be with my girls every day of their lives although I know (I hope) I won't. So I have to make the days I do have, count. I want to write the bloody novel that is haunting me at night. I want to stop being tired and start being energetic. I want to eat as much chocolate as I can and still be a size ten (OK, that's just fantasy I know, but part of living is dreaming surely?)

Admittedly at the moment I already feel half dead - sleep might be something we can do when we're dead, but lack of it makes living pretty hard. BUT, Ruby has slept through for the last three nights, so I'm holding my breath in the belief that we might finally be seeing the light...
I'm dying, but I'm also living. And maybe one of the things I will take from the last five months is that every day I'm living, I'm appreciating the fact that I'm dying - and that is inspiring me to live better.