Sunday, 26 June 2016

The One With The Bones-Piglet Equilibrium (27 months + 15 days)

The hardest challenge of all for any parent is balance. This statement is especially true if you happen to be a lone parent. Even more so, if you are a lone parent with ambition. It is something that I struggle with on a day-to-day basis. It is incredibly hard being a stay-at-home parent. It is hard being a working parent aswell, don't get me wrong, however, when I was a working parent, I had another person around to help at home; I was essentially relieved of any and all home responsibilities. As I said previously, I was going to talk to you about power and control; but instead I would like to discuss balance, as it something that is weighing heavily on my mind at the moment.

I think one of the greatest issues that I have at the moment is confidence. I think I've always had issues with confidence, in all honesty. I would say they were alleviated when Piglet was born- because Piglet was born; I became incredibly assertive, and the world was my oyster. And it was brilliant. I would argue that 90% of success is down to confidence- if you believe in yourself, then it is far easier to get others to believe in you too.

And then life happened. As it does. I was naive when I found out I was pregnant, I have said this before. I was blind to the implications of what having a baby would actually mean in terms of my ambitions, and goals. I was especially blinkered when it came to how much time a child demands from you. I truly and honestly believed that you could just fit a baby into your schedule, and they would work around you. How ridiculous is that?

It is one year since I received the result for my degree. And it doesn't hurt any less. I thought it would; I thought I would be firmly within that acceptance stage right now, but it still stings like a bitch (I'm actually sobbing as I write this- this is how pathetic I am). And I think that was the point when I stopped believing in myself again. I sucked. That was- (lost my train of thought now; a man from the liberal democrats just called and I had to swiftly cull my pity party so he didn't think I was a wailing train wreck.) What was I saying... Right yes, that was...honestly I really am struggling for words as to describe the utter devastation of it all. That was when I decided that there was no point in trying anymore. I dressed it all up very nicely, with the "luxury of being crap", and "I'm burning my chemistry books", and "having a gap yah", but...it was because I had failed to achieve. And whilst I may not have known what I wanted, I certainly knew that I didn't want failure.

And then, whether it was purely circumstantial, or maybe on a subconscious level it was something I wanted (again, I have mentioned previously about my fear of becoming resentful towards Piglet if I did not succeed), I ended up "losing" Piglet. As my hours at work increased, I saw less and less of her. At the height of everything, there would be instances where I was working a close one day, all day the next, and then an open the third- so I would actually be going days without seeing her on a regular basis. And in my mind, I was shit, so I couldn't complain about it, could I? Of course, the irony is, the lack of my Piglet exacerbated that loss of self-belief- I was Samson without his hair (more biblical references...maybe I'm going to become a born-again Christian...) And so I went from being at the top of my game, where everything was possible, to...worthless. And useless. And trapped. Throw into the mix being in a relationship where I felt very unloved and manipulated and controlled (I feel guilty for writing that down, even now) and I was nothing. I was wasted potential.

I've ended up commenting on that far more than I intended to. I'm supposed to be talking about balance.

The point I'm trying to get to, is that, as it stands I am trying to get that confidence back. I have a long way to go. A very long way to go. I'm sat here checking my emails every two seconds waiting for rejections from universities- even though it's a Sunday, and there is no indication that they are going to reject me. I just don't see why they would want me. Do you know I actually email my draft applications to other people before I send them? Because I think my writing is awful. And yet I do this. I do this, and I think my writing is awful. Seriously, ego is on the floor.

OH MY GOD I'VE GONE SO OFF BEAT.

BALANCE. BALANCE IS THE TOPIC. NOT SELF-PITY. GET OVER IT, WOMAN. MAN UP.

We struggle with balance in the house. We struggle with balance in the house even more now that we are both physically IN the house (i.e. not at work/nursery all day). So, I have things that I want to do, and Piglet has things that she wants to do. And I feel very guilty if I'm less than 95% attentive to her needs. Which is wrong, because I'm aware that it's fine if she's playing by herself, or it's fine if she watches cbeebies for a little bit, but I feel like a crap mum. Whatever I do right now, I feel like a crap mum.

Since she finished nursery she's become a lot...clingier. Much clingier. And she's a lot more shy with other people. Which I understand. That one constant that she has had throughout her life has been taken away. I am now what she is left with. I worry that I have done her a disservice by taking her out of nursery. I worry about absolutely everything, right now, by the way. Like maybe it's best for me to work 80+ hours a week- it shuts my brain up.

For example, I was seriously concerned about her speech. You know when you see two year olds and they're fluently discussing Beethoven and the economy and the impact that Brexit is going to have on future generations? Piglet is not one of those children. So then I decided that she was definitely autistic, because issues with communication is one of the signs. And then I was in a mad panic. I have since looked into the matter, and discovered that she is actually pretty much on track in terms of speech for her age. The eloquent two year olds are not the norm. And at this point, I am only supposed to be able to decipher 50% of what she says- which is about right.

(Also, her emotional intelligence has got to be like within the top 0.1% for her age, so I really was jumping to extremes with my diagnosis there. For example, when I was sobbing over my degree again, she started tickling me to make me laugh because I was sad. Seriously, I am the worst mother ever. For anyone looking to have children, just read my blog and then do the absolute opposite of everything that I have done.)

I'VE GONE OFF COURSE AGAIN AHHHHH. Right, about 95% attentiveness- this is why I went onto speech because I also got stressed that she wasn't talking that much because I didn't talk enough to her (although I've always talked to her since she was tiny- and looked insane whenever we were out in public- so that was another irrational thought right there). By trying to focus 95% of my attention onto Piglet, and what Piglet wants to do, and what is best for Piglet, I am doing myself an injustice. I am killing myself right now. I am exhausted.

I try to make it so that I get Piglet involved in things that I want to do, so then at least I am still with her, and we're still "playing" (kind of- at a push). So, we will "play" cleaning. And we will "play" insanity. And obviously, she likes when we go running (spends half the time going "WHEEEEEEEEEE" whenever we go round corners). But then there are things that it's much harder to get her involved in. For example, masters applications. Going over degree notes. Reading through chemistry books. Considering that she puts up a significant fight when I'm just trying to change her nappy, I have got no chance getting her to sit down and "play" chemistry with me. And, you could argue that I could do these things when she's asleep, but guess what? She doesn't. Piglet does not sleep. I get her to sleep by running. That is why we have evening runs. So, let's say I'm lucky, and she's asleep by 9pm (which is a miracle, fyi)- she will be awake at 4am. And she rarely does naps now. I've tried doing the thing where I put her down for an hour in the afternoon, and tell her it's time to sleep but...to be honest... it makes me feel guilty.

I do want to make the point that I am certainly happier now that I have my Piglet again. Every day is a battle, but it is a fight for something that I love (or maybe it's a fight with someone I love). I do not know where we're heading yet. But I know that right now I am very scared about the uncertainty of everything. There is truth in the "terrible twos" phrase. And I'm really hoping that this is the hardest it gets, because at the moment I'm not strong enough in myself to deal with anymore. We are trying to find balance. And we are trying to find confidence. And we're hoping to use these to start to try again. Because I need to.

This has been one of those posts where my brains just gone with it. I'm not looking for support, or sympathy. I was just in a situation where my two options were: write or go and eat an entire jar of nutella. And I figured it was probably better to write through my feelings than eat them.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

The One With Power and Control Where I'm An Inny (27 months + 14 days)

Here's how this post was supposed to go:

The One With Power and Control (27 months + 12 days)

Power and control. Power and control. Power and control are two terms that are often used interchangeably. And justifiably so. At first glance, you could argue that to have power over someone or something is equivalent to having control over it (and vice versa), right?

Let's ask the dictionary:

POWER: The ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way; the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events.

CONTROL (verb): Maintain influence or authority over; determine the behaviour or supervise the running of.

Similar? Certainly. Equivalent? Absolutely not. That singular difference in phrase- influence vs. determine- is what separates power and control. Power and control is the theme of this post (in case you hadn't got that already...keep up, man). 

So, let's kick it off in post-plague-pocalypse (it's almost a word- just go with it) with:

----------------------

And then I was going to run through a number of events with you, and discuss the power and control element in all of them. I was going to describe our races and trips away (#MummyandPigletonTour); I was going to talk about my concerns regarding Piglet's speech, and how it turns out that I'm actually crazy, and she is fine; I was going to discuss the current situation regarding NNB- and the control element within that. I was going to finish with how we were exercising our power to influence our nations future by voting in the referendum (oh, and also publicise our book, 'cos that's happening btw). I will still discuss all these things- I have the post ready to go. But for now, there is something that I need to talk about, that is far greater than anything that we, as individuals, have done, or are doing. And so, I give you this:

The One Where I'm An Inny (27 months + 14 days)

So, "democratically", we have chosen as a nation to leave the EU. I echo Tim Farron's statement in which he says he is "heartbroken" (FYI Tim Farron has inspired me so much in the past 24 hours that I have actually joined the Lib Dems, which is something that I never thought I would say). I am shocked. And I am upset. I won't sit here and tell you why I believe we should have remained in the European Union- there is little point; it is too late. I will tell you that I'm very affected by the outcome. I'm angry- and I'm allowed to be. There's all for everybody saying, "well, it's happened now, so let's all just pull together"- but how do we when we are so divided? How do I "pull together", for something that I believe is drastically wrong? And, don't even get me started on anyone who is openly bragging about "not doing politics", or stating that "politics doesn't turn me on". I think these people make me the angriest of them all.

Why did the majority choose to leave? I don't think it's because the majority are "stupid" or "racist" (in spite of what the voting analysis related to "most educated areas" and "how people identify themselves" may try to make you believe). I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion. I believe there are some who will have sat down, and looked at the arguments for both sides- and properly done their research, and believed that leave was the sensible choice. However, I think that there was a lot of misinforming done by the leave campaign. And I find it hard to believe that it was a democratic choice, when people are being fed false propaganda. Obviously, this is just my opinion. I am not saying the remain campaign was innocent in any sense.

I believe there was probably a significant proportion of people who were "taking a stand" against the government; telling DC they weren't happy with how things were. Now that's great and all- but this really wasn't the time or the place for that- you should have dealt with that last May in the general election, as opposed to keeping Cameron in (where only 66% of the electorate voted btw- so really, to the 1/3rd of you that didn't vote- you have no right to moan about the outcome or state of the country if you don't choose to exercise your power over the outcome).

Whatever. My views are in the minority, (nationwide, only just, but where I live, I am outnumbered almost 2:1). Did you know the EU invested £7 billion into UK science funding between 2007-2013? Our own investment meanwhile, dried up following the recession. We can wave goodbye to that, can't we? Expect the EU to now behave like a scorned ex-girlfriend- and with good reason. They need to make sure they set an example to anybody else who dares to contemplate leaving them.

We're heading into an uncertain future. And I am not going to "pull together" for it- and when the divide is so great, I really don't see how we can. I am not happy. To everyone who voted to leave: I appreciate your views, and I- on some level- will try to understand why you did it. But currently? I'm praying for that Scottish referendum. And I'm going to make sure I'm on their side of the border when it happens. 

Friday, 10 June 2016

The One With The Plagues of Egypt (26 months + 30 days)

See, this is what happens when I don't work... I go from writing once a month to almost once a week (never thought I'd be posting anything with a biblical title though).

I'm going to start this one off by being very vague, which as anyone will tell you is always THE BEST way to engage people (not). If I believed in karma, I would definitely think that I was getting what I deserved. On some level. On another level, I don't believe that I deserve any of this at all, and that what I did was what I wanted at the time, and my actions were (semi-) justifiable. I did something that at best can be described as grey. Very grey. Probably a darker tone of grey, verging towards black, but still within the spectrum of shade that is considered to be grey. I'm sorry, I really can't be more specific because my mother would kill me. And I'm just not ready to talk about it yet (cheeky #flashbackFriday right there).

Anyway, I'm currently experiencing a series of plagues. Which I can only conclude must be because of the aforementioned grey behaviour. Let me tell you about my plagues:

1. The Plague of The Mushrooms

2. The Plague of The Slugs
Both The Plagues of The Mushrooms and The Slugs have been well-documented in previous posts ("First came the mushrooms; dirty fungal trees of death. Then, there were the slugs; slimy molluscs of doom") I'm not going to elaborate on either of these plagues any further because: a) you already know the deal, and b) I never want to think of slugs or mushrooms in my life ever again.

3. The Plague of The Exploding Appliances
So, our kettle exploded the other morning. Which was fun... I'd turned it on, left the room, and the next thing I hear is a massive bang; kettle is on the floor, boiling water everywhere. Thankfully, Piglet was nowhere near the kitchen when this occurred. I have no idea what happened to it. I just had a possessed kettle. Which is fine, I guess... (Had to boil water for coffees in pan on the hob for a few days though because some idiot kept forgetting that we needed to buy a new kettle whenever we went out...) Also the oven refused to work. But I managed to "fix" that because I'm such an independent living Goddess (note- I have no idea how I fixed the oven. I don't even think that I fixed the oven- it just decided to work one day. It smoked a lot. But it was semi-functional, so it's all gravy here).

4. The Plague of The Interior Designer/Tattoo Artist
Piglet likes colouring, Piglet likes painting. Piglet is a very creative tiny person. I like this. I have the creativity of a fish- I am not creative in the slightest (like, push come to shove, I can probably match something an 8 year old could do- so if you EVER hear me say that I'm going to do ANYTHING remotely arty- just shut me down. Leave me 30000 comments saying NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. Seriously, it's for my own good). So, we have lots of crafty things in the house like paints and crayons and felt-tips and things, to encourage this creativity and allow her inner Van Gogh/ Picasso/ Dali/ Warhol to blossom.

Being a "responsible parent" (ha ha ha) however, I also bought those magic pens that only draw on paper? Do you know the ones I mean? They're amazing. And it means no mess! Genius pens! Literally the best invention ever. Piglet is...less keen on them than I, shall we say. Anyway, one day we were having our afternoon nap (naps are for grown-ups too) when one of us decided to wake up early. And one of us apparently had a secret stash of pens (this is something that Piglet is becoming notorious for- at nursery, they used to take her dummy away from her, and she would later emerge with four new dummies- she calls them "diddies"- that she'd kept hidden away for emergencies). And when I awoke from our afternoon nap, I was met with this:





We've discussed the incident and she explained that the issue is she's more Banksy- the paper limits her soul.

5. The Plague of The Floor Shreddies/ Beads/ Glitter/ Pom Poms
There is always stuff on the floor. I hoover 16 times a day, and yet things still appear on the floor. Mushy shreddies? Check. Various arts and crafts items that Mini Banksy has been playing with? Check. The occasional rogue dead slug? Triple check. HOW IS THERE STILL STUFF ON THE FLOOR WHEN I HAVE HOOVERED IT UP? WHERE IS IT ALL COMING FROM? ARE THE SHREDDIES BREEDING? IS IT A HUGE CONSPIRACY THAT SHREDDIES ARE ACTUALLY TINY ORGANISMS AND ARE PROCREATING ON MY FLOOR?????? Don't even get me started on the beads. Bloody beads. At this point in time, I wouldn't be surprised if I started sneezing beads.

6. The Plague of The Torn Meniscus
I REALLY HURT MY KNEE. Have I mentioned that I hurt my knee? I think I did... The week after the London marathon, I did a half-marathon up here in Sunderland (wise move, knobhead) and four miles in, I started having serious, serious issues with my quad and my knee. But I carried on because you know, death before failure and all that. That's how we live. Fucking agony though. Couldn't walk afterwards. Thought it was a tight IT band because I'm not so great at stretching and stuff (I would class my flexibility as non-existent). So lots of stretching, foam rolling etc etc. Thought it was fine...and then it wasn't. It really wasn't. The majority of races that I did after then I had a lot of pain, with no consistency as to when it would set in- sometimes it was after 4km, sometimes 8km, in one, it was after 1km which was horrendous.

So, I was a responsible person (I do lots of responsible things now that I am a strong independent woman again), and went to see a physio just to see what they said about the whole thing. She agreed with the tight IT band. BUT she said I had also torn my meniscus slightly, which was resulting in the knee pain and is a pretty big thing. I wasn't allowed to run for two weeks, to allow it to heal, and to prevent any further injury (if you end up with a serious tear it's knee surgery which is not on my bucket list, thank you very much). This Sunday is going to be the end of those two weeks. And I have a half-marathon. I'm very excited. Also petrified. But seriously, not running has been driving me CRAZY.

7. The Plague of Ginger
You may have noticed that we've had some minor life changes recently (i.e. we've been totally fucked over), and haven't been able to physically run to deal with them, so as always, I went for the stereotypical response to change, by bleaching my hair. Result? 50 shades of orange. Took me two weeks to tone it to something that vaguely resembles blonde (it could be argued that it borders on yellow- but yellow is still technically blonde).

8. The Plague of Sadness
Ok, so this one is a little more serious, and less tongue-in-cheek than the others. I would say that overall I am fine with everything that has happened. I believe that it is all for the best. I am probably happier in myself. Yes, moving forward, everything is going to be more challenging, and difficult, and a battle, BUT I like that. Because... I'm weird. However, I am sad. I am not sad that NNB left. I am not sad because my "worst fear" in terms of my current circumstances has been realised. I am sad for three people. Because there are three people in this scenario who have had no say in what happened, and have been true "victims", if you wish to label them as that.

First and foremost is obviously Piglet. Piglet has lost somebody who was very present in her life. Piglet has undergone masses of change again. I think she is fine, and I think she will be fine, but I don't know. I don't know if she misses him. I do know that she misses the cat. But the other two people who I feel incredibly sad for are NNB's parents. Here were two people who invested a lot of love into Piglet, who to all intents and purposes were pseudo-grandparents, and who are now unlikely to see her again. And that is painful. Piglet was as fond of them as they were of her, so to have that just cut off is...upsetting. Very upsetting.

Honestly, he's such a wanker.

9. The Plague of Salmonellosis 
Swiftly moving on- before the rage monster gets the better of me- to something far far far more cheery- FOOD POISONING! I have had food poisoning for the past four days. Which I believe was from some out-of-date chicken that was living in my fridge. Now, I don't know if something had touched the chicken, or if I didn't wash my hands enough after throwing the chicken away, or if salmonella can just grow wings and fly into you, but I can tell you that I've been very ill. Very, very, seriously ill. I could not move without being sick. I've been in a lot of pain. And it's just been me and Piglet. It was very, very hard, and very, very sad.

Piglet has been fine, thankfully, but also because she's been fine, she's been wild. So, our flat currently resembles the aftermath of Chernobyl. Piglet has also been living on take-aways and chocolate for the past three days because I haven't been able to move. To be honest, I think she's quite enjoyed it. We're at the point now where if somebody knocks on the door, she thinks it's food and gets very excited.

I'm making light of the situation. It's been really rubbish. Yesterday she tried to get the pushchair out because she wanted to go outside and I started crying and explained that mummy was poorly, and we couldn't go out because mummy would be sick on people, and mummy is a rubbish mummy. And do you know what she did? She gave me a hug, and picked up the post that she had thrown on the floor earlier in the day. Because she is ADORABLE. It's made me very aware of how isolated I am once again. And that when situations like this arise, it is incredibly difficult now that it is only the two of us.

I think I'm now 85% back to normal. If you'd asked me last night (after copious amounts of pepto-bismol) I would have told you that I was ready to rule the world, but this morning I'm still in quite a bit of pain. So, to conclude my review of salmonellosis, I've lost 5 stone in the past 4 days. As a weight-loss method, I would say that contracting salmonella is certainly highly effective, but would advise anybody looking at going down this route that it is very unpleasant. And not pretty at all. Side effects include: you're really really gross, and your house will be falling apart by the time you recover.

10. The Plague of Insanity
Evidently, as a response to all the plagues that we have endured over the past couple of weeks, we've lost our minds. and have been committed to a mental asylum. No, not really. I'm doing Insanity. I'm doing Insanity because I haven't been able to run. So far, I've completed one week, but have had to take a couple of days off because of Plague Number 9 (luckily, the first day of illness coincided with a rest day so I was pretty buzzing about that- always looking at the positives!).

I really like Insanity. I never thought I would say that. I tried to do it shortly after Piglet was born, and I don't think I even made it through the first day. It's hard. But it's so good. It hurts a lot. But it works- certainly it terms of fitness. That was my main reason for starting it- I didn't want to lose any of my cardiovascular fitness from not being able to run- I wanted to maintain it. The reason I've been "banned" from running is that I could twist my knee when I was doing it, from either corners, or trying to avoid something on the floor, or even just like uneven ground  and that could cause the tear to get worse. As long as my knee is straight, I can continue to exercise (although maybe you could argue that Insanity is a bit too high intensity...). I will let you all know how I get on. Eight more weeks to go! (Why is this even a goal that I've set myself, what is wrong with me?)


So, now that we've encountered all our plagues, I'm really hoping that our fortunes are turning a corner. Hoping for a sub-2 hour half-marathon at the weekend (preferably without vomiting on anyone aswell), so fingers crossed, that happens.

Just as a quick end-note, I'm doing the Great North Run in September, and I will be running for Scope. I need to raise a minimum of £250 to run, so all donations will be greatly appreciated- I will be writing a more in-depth post regarding this soon, all about what they do, and the things that your contributions would be helping them achieve. This is my one fundraising run this year, so I'm really hoping to make it a big one, with your help. Anybody wanting to donate, can do so via my (very, very, very in-progress) JustGiving page here. Piglet will not be running this one, as she's not allowed (sad face) but she will be cheering from the sidelines (probably with her own homemade bead covered banner).

And finally, (promise this is actually finally this time), a lot of you know where we came from, a lot of you don't. Our original blog will be closing soon, however, I am currently looking at publishing it as an e-book, and it would be available on the kindle store. Let me know your thoughts on this...maybe? Is this a good idea? Would anyone be interested? Am I delusional? All of the above?

BIG LOVE from the two of us. We'll speak to you all soon xxxxxxx

OH, and remember: