As usual, I'm a little later than most in marking the New Year. I'm also way out of date with blogging. So much for keeping a diary of my Mum-Care efforts in 2018! I made some real progress last year in terms of looking after myself and trying to put the 'Person' back into 'Mum-Person', but I was so busy doing all that and still frantically Mumming that I didn't quite get enough balance in my life to fit blogging in as well. I really, really wish I had, because I tried a load of new things, with varying levels of success, had lots of ups and downs with the kids, and came into 2019 with a totally fresh perspective on life. So, if I have any 'resolution' this year, it's to get writing again, because I love it and I'm determined to do more of what I love.
I don't know what the New Year holds for you all, but I know that for me it will be a happy one, even if not all day every day.
Because I'd rather laugh than cry, and that's my new mantra. Once it's a mantra it has to happen, right? And it's do-able because I have the most brilliant bunch of friends who can find humour in all that is surreal in Mum-Person life, and when things seem too dark for laughter, we have each other's backs, and the laughter finds its way back to us again. I also have kids who - every single day - create situations so unexpected that all I can possibly do is laugh, even if it's in shock and disbelief. And even if it's one big belly laugh a day, I'm going to cling on to that to get me through the other bits of life. (I think the Done Thing is 'affirmations', but I'm a work in progress, so will stick with mantras for now!)
Because I have learnt the value of 'little and often'. I'm a reformed perfectionist, who used to think that if I couldn't keep my house tidy, no single pile of administrative rubble was worth my attention. If it couldn't be perfect, why try? But after a year of 'one thing leaves my house forever every day', there are bits of floor emerging and I know where loads of stuff is. This is humongous-er than it sounds. I've even paid some bills on time. Not many, but some. If our school office lady passes out any time soon, it's my fault for departing the 'chase for lunch money' list. Most importantly, after a year, I can see enough progress to make me keep going with the decluttering project, even though what I mostly want to do in life is sleep, eat, listen to audiobooks and sample new varieties of gin. 'Little and often' now makes me happy. I get to celebrate the tiniest of steps forward and know that I'm making an effort. No normal person would celebrate the state of my home - it looks like it's been ransacked by some very angry (and surprisingly muddy) secret agents searching for a well-hidden strip of microfilm. Effort shuts up the 'you're a sloth' voice in my head. 'Little and often' brings hope, and hope is a happy thing.
Because The Cat (autistic son, Year 5) is happy at school. Why? Because his teacher likes cats and BBQ Beef Hula Hoops. There's also an amazing TA, but he's always had amazing TAs. It's the Hula Hoop flavour that clinched it, and he now goes to school with only token resistance. It's fierce while it lasts, but short-lived, which proves he is just keeping up appearances. It's like a whole area of brainspace saved for keeping him in school gets a rest for a while. (Don't worry, I will NEVER get complacent when it comes to school attendance.) The best thing about it is that I can say to the SENCO that The Cat has decided the teacher is ok because of the BBQ Beef Hula Hoops, and she gets it. As long as the teacher avoids any obvious January detox or alternative snack habit, we're doing ok.
Because The Big Boy (Year 8) has a friend who is lots like him, and the Dog (ADHD, Year 5) is gorgeous and has awesome new meds that help the rest of the world to see what's under the ADHD. Sometimes they both even sleep. Not necessarily in beds, let alone their own beds, but we take sleep however it comes.
Because I have a side hustle. I needed something that was mine, and something that involved hanging out with women. (There are only so many fart and willy jokes a Mum of boys can take before adult female company becomes a necessity rather than a treat.) So I started selling the skincare I was already using, and I now know about ceramides and peptides, and that must be the first learning I've done since immersing myself in the worlds of Autism and ADHD. Best of all, it's a million miles away from anything I ever thought I'd do. And I talk to women lots and lots, and hear their amazing stories of life before and after or without kids, and see the incredible resilience that runs through every one of them. Seriously, who thought that talking about skin serum would renew my faith in humankind and send me home raving about how extraordinary women can be? Plus I got to go to a ball and wear sparkly earrings and shoes that weren't trainers. And there was gold leaf in the first glass of champagne. What Mum-Person could ask for more?
Because this year I'm having meals every single day. That sounds bonkers, but when the kids have struggled in the past, I've forgotten to feed myself. Then I would drink wine and eat biscuits at midnight, calling on decade-old memories of Weight Watchers, where a box or two of Jaffa Cakes was about right for a couple of meals' worth of food points. (I really hope they've changed their system, because just 'points' was a loophole-lover's dream. Yes, we were only cheating ourselves, of course. But who wouldn't exploit a loophole that gave you chocolate?) (If you are one of those people with real, actual will-power, don't answer that question. Or speak to me ever.) (Freddo Frogs were also good meal replacements, I seem to remember. You could have loads for the points price of a solid meal.) Anyway, I have finally figured out that not eating properly makes me a screaming psycho, and that that is a problem with any kids, let alone kids with Additional Needs. I'm also so overweight my back hurts, so I'm going to 'eat my way happy' with good nutrition, for the sake of my whole family's mental health, but also for the sake of my aching joints. I don't actually care about numbers on scales or the way my bum looks in jeans, but pain is nasty/bad and I'm done with it. With a dodgy thyroid there are some challenges, but I know I can clear my head with good food, even if my bum takes longer to shrink than other, more hormonally-balanced, decades-off-menopausal young bottoms. (Healthy eating started last week, and there was a definite detox effect - eg feeling like I'd been hit by a truck and dreaming about cake - but I'm through that now and feeling good!)
Because I finally got old enough to admit I like gardening. Flowers make me smile and I've started asking for gardening vouchers for gifts from family. I took zillions of photos of last summer's flowers, and they make the winter seem survivable. Just like that, I got a hobby. And I don't care that even the word 'hobby' adds fifteen years to my biological age. I really want to learn to crochet too. And I know how to knit. So there you go. I've hit middle age. And I've bunged a flower pic on my blog post to prove it.
Because my boys are currently obsessed with jokes. A slew of new joke books came in over Christmas, and they are so terrible that I can't help laughing. Puns are a particular obsession, and they are BAD. Plus, everyone knows that you can't help but smile when you hear a laughing child, so this is a sure way to pump some happiness into the year. They may well go back to talking about homicidal video games before too long, but I'll still have the books. (By the way, what lies on its back, a hundred feet up in the air, and smells? A dead centipede, of course! Boom boom.)
Because I'm just bored of feeling blah, and I'm going to fight it.
I realise this may be the most annoying post I've ever written. So much positivity, and I'm not even drunk, and it's not even Friday. But I had to write it, because my resolve may well falter when I get insanely busy with kid stuff again, and when the winter just refuses to end, and when everything in the world costs more money than I have, or the Hula Hoop Effect wears off. I need this little reminder. I'm done with misery, but the challenge this year will be making that stick. Right now I'm ready to fight, so I hope you won't miss my despair/frustration/anxiety/obsessive worrying too much.