Minor tribulations contributing to general glumness

Nothing too bad, but…

B fell down the stairs on Sunday. Mr C was with her, but she had a head start and slipped, and fell down almost all the stairs, bumping herself several times on the way down, like Winnie-the-Pooh but with no Christopher Robin holding her paw. She had a nosebleed and a big bump on her forehead, so we took her to A&E. Fortunately, she was fine really, and was very good with the nurse and doctor who examined her. Once again, we were really impressed with the care we received at Medway Hospital. If you have to go to A&E, early on a Sunday morning is probably a good time to do so – we just went in and were seen straight away, as we were one of only a few people around. I think it also helps that there is a children’s A&E at Medway – a much nicer atmosphere and lots of toys to play with.

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Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh. Photo by Thoth God of Knowledge on Flickr

Then, on Tuesday, I was supposed to do some preparation for an interview, but I had to go and collect B from nursery and take her to the doctors because she had a rash. She quite often has a rash when she’s a bit under the weather, but the nursery said this one was different so we should get it checked. So we went to the doctors and, thankfully, it was fine. Just another benign viral rash. As I arrived to collect her from nursery, the nursery nurse said, “I’ve just filled out an incident form for [B]”. Uh oh. She’d fallen off a log (not sure if it was real or not) and cut her lip. Poor B.

Later, I did some stuff on my presentation but it was no good.

Wednesday was much nicer. I spent most of the day at one of my favourite places, the lovely Drill Hall Library. The librarians have a big bear in their office, and their own tea room and toilets! It’s another world.

Drill Hall Library
Drill Hall Library by Ash87it – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Yesterday, I had the job interview, which went badly. I’d actually been fairly confident about it beforehand, but the reality of it was disappointing. I messed up the test (I had no idea what to do and ran out of time) and the presentation (lack of preparation) and the interview (not sure why – perhaps too much on my mind).

 

Confessions of a struggling mother

On Monday, I turned into That Woman. You know, the one you see (and hear) yelling at her child in the middle of the high street. B was playing with her “sticks” (some coffee stirrers), drumming on the pavement, and didn’t want to follow me to the bank machine, which I had to go to because I had no money on me for the bus ticket I thought I’d lost (it was in my pocket). Because I ‘made’ her come into the bank she then threw her sticks to the ground in protest, then threw my work lanyard (which she has taken to wearing) to the ground also, and said “mummy pick up [the sticks]”. I didn’t want to pick up the sticks and said so and asked B to pick them up instead, to which she refused. There was a stand off, which would have been a lot better had it been a silent stand off, but sadly it wasn’t – I made most of the noise, getting increasingly louder and ending up (if only this had been the end of it) shouting at B to “pick them up NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (the number of exclamation marks increases with the loudness of the shouting). In the bank. It was not a good moment. Of course B didn’t pick them up (why would she?) so I picked them up and said I would throw them away (I didn’t – no follow through=bad parenting), to which B cried most noisily and sadly and still refused to follow me (again, why would she?- No one in their right mind would have followed this crazy shouting woman) so, having totally lost the plot by this point, I bent down and shouted “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” right in her poor, sad, face. I had become That Woman.

I then picked her up and put her in the pushchair and haired off, B wailing piteously, to the bus station, but we had missed the bus by this point so I went to buy some fruit (attempting to be a better parent by feeding her healthy food?) in Sainsbury’s but we kept getting in everyone’s way with the pushchair and that was the last straw. I broke down and sobbed next to the cucumbers. B (who had previously calmed down) joined me. Eventually I pulled myself together because I had regained enough sanity to see that my crying was making B cry, and managed to buy the fruit and get to the bus stop. The bus came and we went home. B was asleep by the time we got in the door.

I lay awake that night and cried a bit more.

This incident made me think more about That Woman. My only defence for my behaviour was that I was tired to the point of exhaustion, Mr C had been away so I’d been looking after B on my own more than usual, and I hadn’t had any lunch. If there is anything positive to be gleaned from this sorry tale it is that it has made me more empathetic with those women like me who shout at their children in the streets. I have a helpful husband, enough to eat and a steady income and I still get overcome with anger and emotion when things get too much. There isn’t an excuse for shouting, but it is easier than you might think to get into that state.

I researched ‘shouting and toddlers’ (as I do, the librarian in me can’t help herself) and found some useful links:

How to handle your anger at your child

Discipline and cooperation

Toddlers: your game plan for the terrific twos

I have to admit, reading some of this made me feel worse before it made me feel better, but that’s OK. I know I need to find a way to deal with my anger – it has always been a problem. The irony is, my dad was/sometime still is very shouty and I hated it. I can’t cope with people shouting at me – I just cry, even now – and I really, really, didn’t want to be like that with B. Must try harder. I’ll let you know how it goes…

#ScarredFORLife

The Scarred for Life exhibition has now opened, so please go and see it if you can! If you can’t please have a look at the webpage instead.

Please don’t call me a hero

This is a picture of a picture of me in our then garden when I was about four:

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In case you didn’t know, I hate having my photo taken and I almost never wear make up. A few weeks ago I decided it would be a good idea to volunteer to have my picture taken for the Somerville Foundation’s second Scarred for Life exhibition. This involved having my photo taken and wearing make up…and having my hair cut (a bit) and straightened (which I actually like). I was nervous about the process of having my photo taken, but it wasn’t so bad. I didn’t really feel like ‘normal me’ because my hair looked so different, so I didn’t feel like I wanted to hide like I usually do when face to face with a camera. I did, however, find it more of an emotional experience than I expected. I had some pictures taken holding the photo of myself, and I don’t know whether it was because it was a picture of me as a little girl and that somehow reminded me of holding B, but I felt very protective of my younger self, and quite sad and angry about the things that happened to her. I don’t know which picture has been chosen for the exhibition, but it will be interesting to see how it all turns out.

But this post isn’t really about having my photo taken, although it is related to that event. The Somerville Foundation have been tweeting about the Scarred for Life exhibition, which is obviously fine, but the tweets have contained words like ‘heroes’ and ‘brave’, e.g.:

Perhaps the man in this picture is a hero (I don’t know him), but I’m not, and it makes me really uncomfortable when people use such words to describe people with heart defects, or any other type of long-term health condition/illness/disability. Yes, we have gone through a lot of bad stuff, and yes, a lot of this stuff happened when we were children (which seems to somehow make it worse in other people’s eyes), but most children and probably all adults go through horrible things at some point. True, they may not be such ‘dramatic’ things as open heart surgery and I believe (know) that experiencing trauma and separation from parents/carers as a child does have a long-lasting effect on a person, so I’m not trying to downplay the possible magnitude of having a congenital heart defect (CHD). It’s just that the last thing I am is a hero, and I don’t think I’ve ever been brave in my life.

It’s like there’s an automatic chain of thought that people (I’m generalising) have when it comes to labelling people with CHDs – horrible things have happened to you but you’re still alive therefore you must be a ‘hero’, you must be a ‘fighter’. But I haven’t ‘fought’ to be alive; all I’ve done is survive having a heart defect and the various interventions that have been undertaken to keep me alive and help me stay relatively healthy. If there are any heroes in this story it is those who have invented things, done the surgery, pioneered treatments, been the guinea pigs (not literally), worked and worked, taken risks, experimented on themselves, expended all their time and energy to find ways to keep people like me alive, cared. Nurses, doctors, researchers, scientists, surgeons. People who clean up our blood and vomit day in day out, people who stay up all night to watch us and make sure we don’t fade away. But I expect these people would say they’re just doing their jobs.

I have suffered, and I have survived, but that doesn’t make me a hero or a fighter, it just makes me human.

Quilting queen

This amazing quilt was made for B by The Crafty Mastermind, sewing genius, music lover and librarian. B’s had the quilt just after she was born, but she’s only recently started using it on her bed. It’s a work of art:

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I love the unicorns!

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Note the anchors – a maritime-related piece for Mr C

I’ve been meaning to photograph it for almost two years, but never got round to it until last week. I wish I’d used my better camera, but you can still see how lovely the quilt is. I don’t know which bit is my favourite – probably the unicorns and the little people, but all of it is amazing. Thank you Crafty Mastermind!

If anyone reading this is into sewing then you should take a look at Ms Mastermind’s online fabric/pattern shop, also called The Crafty Mastermind. It makes me wish I could sew!

Cakes and palm trees

I found the pictures I took at our afternoon tea the other week:

 

38, 10, 2

I am now 38. Which is good (I’m still alive) and surprising (I’m nearly 40). Mr C bought me the entire Poirot DVD collection for my birthday, one of the best presents ever.

We’ve been married 10 years! We don’t usually do much for our anniversary, but this year we went to London for the weekend. My mum came to look after B. I surprised Mr C with tickets to see War of the Worlds, which was really good – I say this as someone who isn’t really a fan of it. There were some dodgy moments, but overall I think it was done well.On Sunday we went to the Sherlock Holmes Museum, which I didn’t like very much, mainly because it contained waxworks, which I find disturbing. However, I did like the messages posted in various places around 221B Baker Street by Sherlock/Holmes fans, e.g.:

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After that, we went to look at the Wallace Collection. This was most excellent. I think my favourite pictures were the van de Veldes – very calming.

Later on Sunday, we went for afternoon tea at the Landmark Hotel, which was Mr C’s surprise for me. We ate far too much food! I did take some pictures of the lovely cakes, etc. but I seem to have lost them or not downloaded them. I’ll post them another time, hopefully.

We stayed at St Ermin’s Hotel, which is lovely. They also have a hotel for bees!

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St Ermin’s Hotel foyer

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The Bee Hotel ‘rooms’

B is 2! She still doesn’t really know about birthdays, but I think she had a nice few days of cake and presents even if she didn’t quite know why these things were happening. Here she is a few weeks ago, looking like the cheeky monkey she is:

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Sorry it’s a bit blurry – she’s hard to capture on a camera phone