I’ve been thinking a lot about ageing recently. Maybe because I have just turned 40, maybe because I am aware of the current situation and the vulnerability of the older community, maybe because of what happened last year (eye gate), or maybe just because I have really noticed the grey hairs!
Reflecting on 2020 and as we reach the end of what can only be described as a ‘challenging’ year for everybody, I find my resilience slowly ebbing away each day as I watch the news or hear of more families torn apart. I popped onto Twitter to express my current feelings and quite a few people suggested to explore my gratitude and thanks for the year. This is something that I do practice but it always helps to have a gentle reminder when you are struggling in the fog. So THANK YOU Twitter (words I never thought that I would say) for the reminder.
Gratitude (the shortened list!):
Friends and family and their health. Although we can’t be close, you guys are at the core of my gratitude. Whether it is a thoughtful text message, joining in with an impromptu (socially distant) disco at the climbing wall, responding and liking a tweet, sending enough cheese to keep me in cheese toasties until the middle of 2021, reminding me to not wear trousers that look like PJ’s, or being there to listen whilst I moan, THANK YOU.
A safe and warm home. Never have I felt more grateful for a place that provides laughs, tears, arguments, dens and crap EVERYWHERE.
Fresh air and fields, and the occasional wild swim. The chance to be outside surrounded by nature, bringing into perspective our own significance.
Grey hair and wrinkles. Yep, I get that not everyone welcomes them but I am particular grateful this year to show I am still here, fighting the fight and living life. Who knows what the future will bring, but I hope with all my heart that it brings more grey hair and wrinkles.
I hope you all have a peaceful Christmas and a happy new year.
So I had intended that my posts about the small child in self isolation from the world would be jolly, hilarious ones about homeschooling, candid failings at not being able to teach the small child anything and the inability to be able to do anything because of the small child asking me for something every two seconds. However, after the first day, I rapidly realised that, yes, writing about all of that is uplifting and funny, but it is actually a veil for the reality and it hides a whole lot of emotional turmoil that is going on. It’s easy to create a pantomime out of the reality for a laugh, but I wondered if I should share the ACTUAL truth, in the hope that it might help one other person feel not so alone.
There was a really interesting article that I read about the disproportionate negative impact that the ‘virus that shall not be named’ has had on women and mothers in particular, with them taking on the majority of the childcare and household duties whilst either trying to balance work or facing a reduction of their work or it stopping all together. For me, when that pandemic hit, it sent shock waves to the core of my organisation and it was only due to the wonderful good grace of my colleagues that a form of Mini Mermaids continued, but I was overwhelmed by the new normal that I had to navigate. I had to ensure that the kids were schooled, exercised, their mental health and their physical health kept well, balance not too much screen time with allowing them to have time on whatever new App had come along to keep them connected with their friends. Worrying when the small child didn’t want to connect with his friends on a screen, along with trying to explain what was going on in the world and why couldn’t they go to the park or swimming, (it actually broke my heart a little bit when, about 3 months into Lockdown, when we were scooting past one of our local parks, they stopped and gazed wistfully into it, the slightly bigger child explaining to the small child that ‘we might not be able to play in there again because of the virus.’) There was the usual everyday things that had to be done, which became bigger deals than they actually were and the four walls of the house started to feel very claustrophobic. I became really resentful when Mr Me-Myself and Eye was able to go out to work everyday and it really felt like things hadn’t changed for him, but there were huge adjustments and compromises that I (and hundreds, if not thousands) of women were having to make every single day. Working/not working, part time working, not working, worrying about my organisation and how it was going to survive, worrying about how I was going to make a living when there wasn’t an option to work. Being bombarded with all the new skills that I MUST take up and using the opportunity of being at home to lose weight, redecorate the house, master the art of f***ing sour dough…whilst making sure that everything was documented on Instagram so everyone could see how much I was owning lockdown, when in all honesty I was sinking rapidly into an unhappy place. I also missed my mum…. we went from seeing each other 4 maybe 5 times a week to nothing at all. A few video calls here and there, but no actual human connection. It was really tough. Those initial days and months felt very very dark……………. It felt like Groundhog Day every day.
Despite knowing that this current period of isolation has got an end date, and understanding that it is actually really shit for the small child, It has given me an overriding feeling of dread. A friend described it the other day like a form of PTSD….The anxiety that I felt when I knew that he was going to be off school has been sitting with me, with these constants running through my head,
‘I’m a failure as a mum because I don’t want him to be at home 24/7, I’m selfish because I don’t want him at home 24/7, I’m a failure at work because I can’t do everything that I need to do because he is at home 24/7, I am a failure at work because I should be able to do everything that I need to do despite him being at home 24/7, other people can do it, other people aren’t spinning out of control because their child is at home, there is something wrong with me because I can’t teach him, there is something wrong with him because he can’t sit still/concentrate for more than 2 minutes, what if by me teaching him, it sets him up to fail throughout his life, everybody else’s children are settling down and doing their work and concentrating and don’t need their mothers by them 24/7. I shouted at the kids today, that is all they are going to remember when I ask them about lockdown in the future. What will happen next time there is a lockdown or the schools close? How am I going to cope? I literally have people (or animals) talking at me and expecting things from me for the entire day, It feels like there is never a moment (unless I physically leave the house) or any form of peace where I can just sit… and if I do sit and pick up my computer to do some work there is too much going on in my head to be productive or to concentrate on what I have to do.‘
To be honest, it feels relentless. I know that I am not the only one feeling all of these things but have no choice but to suck it up and get on with it. Even by writing all of this down, it feels like I am breaking some sort of ‘mother code’ that we should never admit that things are difficult, especially if our children are not babies any more, It sometimes feels, that despite the subject of mental health being more widely spoken about, there is still a feeling of shame if a mother puts her hand up to say that she is struggling…and I guess the truth is at the moment, there is very little that we can do except get one with it and share/talk about our experiences and try and have some time for self care… (although I’m not sure how that reality actually works.)
I have got three more days of the small child being at home, and I really would love to say that my feelings and thoughts are going to be in a better place and I am going to try new strategies to ensure that I bring the best possible version of myself to work, homeschool etc… but I simply can’t promise myself that and I don’t want to set myself up to fail. I’m just going to try and get through it the best that I can and always end the day by telling the small child how proud I am of him and how I love him to the moon and back.
Keep safe, and if anyone needs an ear to listen, let me know.
Mummy had been awake for half the night, worried about how she was going to juggle everything that she needed to do… and the potential embarrassment at not being able to do yr 3 maths. The small child, and self isolated one, clearly couldn’t give a flying f**k though as he slept like someone without a care in the world and emerged from his pit just as mummy was about to take the slightly larger child to school,
“Mums, can we go to the skate park today?” (He clearly had no concept of what ‘self isolation’ actually was.) Not wanting to invoke World War Three as she was just about to walk out of the door with an already resentful slightly larger child, Mummy replied, “We’ll discuss it when I get back, ok?”
The ride/scoot to school was actually really lovely with only the slightly larger child. There was no immediate danger of anyone riding into pedestrians or pretending that they were Hans Rey and mummy started to reminisce about when she only took the slightly larger child to school and they had laughs and conversations that didn’t involve, farts, beasts or ‘would you rather’ conversations.
Legging it back home, because the incredibly amazing school that the kids went to had decided in their wisdom to conduct an online meeting for the self isolating ones at 9am to explain everything about the fancy pants new learning platform, and seeing as mummy had dropped the slightly larger child off at 0855 (scraping in just before the bell) and they lived 15 minutes away, the chances of her being on time for the meeting was zero… making Les (her anxiety buddy) sit even heavier in her stomach. Arriving at home, a stinky sweaty mess, the small child was pumped and ready to go to the skate park,
“Errrr… lets talk about that later buds” said mummy. “You’ve got a very exciting school meeting to go to ONLINE!” – I mean, no matter how she tried to dress that up, it was never going to be exciting.
So after swearing at the computer and aimlessly tapping at the keyboard for 5 minutes, mummy figured out how to get into the fancy pants new online learning portal that the school had provided, only to find the meeting drawing to a close,
“Does anyone have any questions?” said the very important and knowledgable teacher. Mummy started to talk, at which point the very important and knowledgable teacher sighed, “You have to take your microphone off mute mum.” Blushing a very deep shade of red, mummy asked the small child to unmute her, “Oh I’m sorry about that” stumbled mummy, “I’m just not used to this fancy pants platform…. in my very important job, we use a completely different system….” trailing off, mummy could see that the very important and knowledgable teacher didn’t believe a word she was saying, “errr, I’m so sorry” continued mummy, “We actually didn’t hear any of the meeting as we were late…” Mummy could feel the very important and knowledgable teacher wishing that he could expel parents, but as he was very important and knowledgeable, he let mummy and the small child stay behind to explain AGAIN the very fancy pants and complicated new learning portal.
Although mummy didn’t understand much of what was being said, she did gleam, that by having this new fancy pants learning portal, it meant that the children (which meant the parents) were accountable for handing in the work that had been set, which basically meant that mummy had to give over her computer, time, life, and her chances of ever leaving the small child’s side for 11 days.
So 5 1/2 hours later (despite the very important and knowledgable teacher claiming that the maths would ONLY take 40 minutes, reading 15 minutes, English 40 minutes and Topic ‘for as long as you wanted it to, let your imaginations run wild’….which mummy read as sticking on a 5 minute YouTube video about the world’s largest river… it’s the Amazon FYI…) and mummy was cheering to herself and patting herself on the back for not losing it when the small child insisted that every one of his pencils were sharpened before he could possibly start writing anything or asking every two seconds “what would you do here mums?” followed by “Can I have a snack?”
“Only 10 more days to go” thought mummy to herself as she crawled into bed at 0830, exhausted, ready for another night battling Les (her resident anxiety) at which point the small child bounced into her bedroom,
“Mums, we forgot to go to the skate park today, can we go tomorrow?”
I’ve just finished reading my last blog post from March (and chuckling to myself… obvs) at how high I set my expectations, and how quickly they crashed around me…. and that was only the first week! The last 7 months have been…. well, I’m not sure how they have been to be honest but there was definitely a sense that we were all in the same shit storm but in different boats. I’m not sure that my first post back will be long enough to really capture the highs and lows of the past 1/2 a year and a bit and so I think that I will drip feed it when the scars have healed a bit…. I will say that a particular low point (and this only happened in the last week) was when I made a rhubarb crumble out of Swiss chard…. I definitely wasn’t winning at life that evening… and a high point was the lockdown cat… that I didn’t tell anyone about…. that went down well…..
When the kids went back to school, I think that the whole country breathed a sigh of relief… finally the little f**kers…. *I mean lights of my life*… were going to be properly educated again and they may actually start to behave like humans again rather than animals….. I felt 6 months worth of anxiety lift… slightly…
And then came the new life navigation…. HOW LONG WOULD THEY LAST IN SCHOOL BEFORE WE GOT THE DREADED PHONE CALL… To be fair to the wonderful school that my kids go to, they did so well to not have any major bubble closures whilst every other school in the area had bubbles bursting all over the place and I often saw stressed out parents hurrying to school, on the phone to their work trying to explain what was happening….. but then my luck ran out… It happened… THE BUBBLE HAD BURST….just two weeks before half term…. we were so nearly there…. I had the champers (well cheap Prosecco) on ice ready and waiting….
*PHONE FLASHES WITH SCHOOL PHONE NUMBER* (every parents worst nightmare)
Me – (In my head) – ffs…. noooooo…. please…..maybe it’s not THE phone call, maybe they are calling me to say what wonderful school work the kids have produced…*quickly remembers who my kids are and dismisses that idea*
*ANSWERS THE PHONE*
Me – (trepidation in my voice) Hello…
Overly cheerful (and lovely school staff member*) – Hi mum of small child, Isn’t it a lovely day today, you can really see Autumn coming out in the colours today……(great pre able set up with a positive before the negative)
I’m just ringing to let you know that a bubble has burst and your smallest one is part of that bubble and so you will have to come and collect him right now…. do not pass Go and do not collect £200…In fact don’t even bother to put your shoes on, just come down bare foot and TAKE YOUR CHILD OUT OF THIS SCHOOL for at least a billion weeks… but don’t worry because we have a super snazzy new online learning thingy that you will need a PHD to log into and you will have to sit next to the small child for the majority of the day while he is painstakingly completing all the fancy pants assignments, oh and the only time you may leave his side is to ply him with snacks which will be every two minutes.
Oh and by the way, if you have any inkling of getting any of your actual work done or even go for a wee between the hours of 8 and 3.30, think again, because that WILL NOT happen and the only way you can do any work or go for a wee after that is when you have picked up slightly bigger child (try navigating that when one is still in school and one is under house arrest) and they are having their allocated iPad time which may extend from 45 mins to eleven million hours…… ok Biiiyyyyeee! (Full disclosure, I MAY have exaggerated that)
Me (keeping my cool) – Oh that’s a shame, no worries, I will be down to collect him straight away. We are going to have a lovely couple of weeks together, just me and him, doing lots of learning and reading and baking and I am going to be an instagram worthy parent…. smug smug
Also Me (In my head and curling up into a ball and rocking) – NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Not the smallest one…. anything but that….. I CANNOT be under house arrest with the child who CANNOT sit still and takes 40 million hours to tell a knock knock joke and whose writing is so small I have to get a magnifying glass out to look at his work… that is if he actually does anything at all… did I mention that he didn’t pick up a pencil for nearly the whole of the lock down period? He NEEDS at least two walks a day, feeding every 20 seconds and cannot remember what he has had for breakfast let alone what an adverbial phrase is… in fact I have NO idea what that is either…… NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
But, unfortunately that is the situation that I now find myself in (along with a fair few other parents around the country) and the anxiety that sat on my chest for all those months before has reared it’s head again and is sitting quite nicely in my stomach (it’s moved for this anxiety period which is nice of it…. in fact, I think I might give my anxiety a name…. maybe Les…) and I try and imagine what the next few weeks are going to bring….. I might end up a whizz in the new fancy pants online learning portal and launch myself as a fancy pants online training type person to all the other parents who find themselves in the same situation…. or I might just muddle my way through it all, wearing my trousers that look like pyjamas with an elasticated waist…. either way, I think my best selling novel is going to have to wait.
Stay safe folks and don’t forget to open the curtains every day….
If a bottle of wine (of any variety) holds 3 (generous) glasses of wine and mummy drinks 2.5 glasses a night, how many bottles does mummy need to buy to get her through a week of lock down with her kids…?
You can see where this blog is heading….
I’ll be honest, when i heard that the schools were closing, i thought, ‘no worries, i’m all over this. We’ll have some lovely time together, it’ll be great not rushing anywhere and spending some quality time at our new house.’
My imagined scenario was this….The kids will settle down into a daily routine of sitting quietly and do their maths and reading in the morning (after we have been out for a brisk blast of our allotted outdoor activity) whilst i write a book or even a critically acclaimed play and Insta stalk everyone and anyone. In the afternoons, we’d do some wholesome activities together, culminating in cooking a wonderful meal together ready for when Mr Me-Myself-And-Eye came home from work (he is still required to go in every day… although i have my suspicions that it is all an excuse…) All whilst making sure that i was wearing clean ‘fashionable’ clothes and a dab of makeup each day, just to keep my spirits up. I would drink nothing but herbal tea and water and take part in daily yoga and mediation, then when my friends saw me after all of this was over, everyone would exclaim how amazing my complexion was and how calm and together i appeared. (In an aside, my work at Mini Mermaids has had to cease as schools have closed and whilst Mr Me-Myself-And-Eye has to go to work to ensure that the country still gets it’s television entertainment, the education of the children lies firmly in my hands…. god help everyone.)
Here’s a snapshot of how the week actually went:
Monday – Started off positively until i asked child 2 to get his book and pencil to do some times table practice, “What’s a book mummy?” “ffs” i muttered under my breath as i checked my watch to see if the wine shop had opened yet. After taking an hour to go through 10 multiplication questions (and periodically wanting to slam my head against the table) finally the painful activity was over. Onto their maths online work that the school had set. Easy peasy i thought, i just have to sit back and let them do this, no involvement from me, So i threw the ipads at them, cracked open my laptop ready to create some magic,
“Mummmmmyyyyy, what’s my log on?” – No Idea
“Mummmmmmyyyyyyyy, i’m hungry” – Have some fruit
“Mummmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyy, can i just play games?” – No
Muuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyy , can you heeeeeeelllllppppp meeeeeeeeee” – Not the point of you doing it.
Tuesday – Started off well! “Mummmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyy can we do our work outside today ppplllleeeaaassseeee?”
‘Oh what a fabulous idea’ I thought, doing our writing among nature, what better way to inspire creativity.
“Aghhhhhh there is a beeeeeeee! It’s coming to get me.” – FFS
“The grass is making my brain itch” – Is that a thing?!
“The sun is too bright” – FML
For two children that excell at being outside, the amount of moaning that occured made me wonder if an alien had exchanged them for some other children just to make this time in lock down extra specially s**t.
Wednesday – Science, one of my favourite subjects. Creating static electricity to make rice pops (Aldi rip off of Rice Crispies) jump out of a bowl, how exciting…..as with every other day, it all started with so much promise with them actually listening to me as i frantically rubbed the balloon up and down my chest to create the electricity….until they ate all the rice pops that were meant to be part of the experiment and then ran around playing keepy uppy with the balloon, periodically tripping over the paving slabs that i had told them to keep clear of.
Thursday – Baking, a wonderful thing to do with kids….. Right now, in the UK, flour is not something that we should be wasting AT ALL. There are scores of people up and down the country who have stock piled tons and tons of the stuff, which must mean that everyone has found their inner baker in this time of crisis. Because of the flour shortage, i was being very precious and precise with the measurements (which is not like me at all, i am normally a slap dash type of gal!) This was the last bag of flour that i had and i imagined making perfect sponges for a few weeks with it, topped with fresh cream and strawberries…..perfect timing for child number 1 to pour nearly a whole blooming bag into the bowl, kitchen work surface and floor. Excellent. It actually wouldn’t have been so bad had the finished results been edible…..
Right, onto writing, something that i also like to do. From their reactions, i had obviously had asked them to stab themselves in the eye with a blunt instrument. The amount of WHINING was exceptional…. which just got on my nerves to be honest and so i told them to write about anything that they really enjoyed doing, which in child 2’s case turned out to be farting, especially in his sisters face. Again, excellent.
Friday – This was meant to be the day where we planted some seeds, ready to watch new life emerge from the soil, but the reality was that I was exhausted from spending so much ‘quality time’ with the lights of my life….. I decided that today was going to be dedicated to being as active as possible (in a bid to tire them out to be in bed before 9pm) So I spent most of the day playing cricket and football (in the garden, obvs), asking them 1 million zillion times not to use the picture rails in the house as a pull up bar and standing like a statue whilst they drew chalk outlines around my body and then made it look like poo and farts were coming out of my bum.
My fashion this week has been… how do i say it… casual…. in fact my own mother even said, “For god sake Hannah, at least change out of your pyjamas. ” In my defense, i was wearing what i thought were a very hip pair of slouchy tartan trousers… that in hindsight could have been mistaken for PJ’s….The dusting of makeup has been a slather of moisturizer (when i remembered.) I have been doing daily yoga (small wins) but with either a child climbing on me/wanting to join in or a constant cry of “muuummmmmmyyyyyyyy” which has negated the point of doing it in the first place…There goes my calm exterior and dewy complexion when this is all over.
A few more observations of this first week of lock down:
My children are ALWAYS hungry….. like always.
To do anything remotely ‘school work’ related, they need me sitting next to them at all times practically answering the questions for them.
Some of the questions that they ask are utterly rubbish and i have to stop myself sighing in disappointment in their faces.
They use the word ‘mummy’ as a filler in pretty much every sentence that they say. All. Day.
Teachers need a medal…. and a pay rise.
They can sniff out if i have woken up before them and try and sneak downstairs for a cup of coffee….Oh to have a child free coffee…..*wistfully thinking back 2 weeks*
As long as i lower any expectation of doing anything else (like showering or drinking a hot drink or writing, or reading) and i focus my whole attention on them 24/7… we are going to get through this.
So now it is Sunday, i have just finished my allocated 2 1/2 glasses of wine and child 2 has finally gone to sleep. I have no idea what the next week will bring… but most likely a fair bit more of wine drinking…….
Until next time folks!
#StayAtHome #SaveLives #ProtecttheNHS
Please note that this blog is meant to be a lighthearted account of my week and by no means is trying to ignore the seriousness of what is going on in the world.
This blog kinda went by the way side as life got back to running at a million miles an hour over the last 6 months, but i thought that now would be a good time to resurrect it. It helped so much last year, it can only help again this year as we face some pretty crazy ass time!
So this post is a pre cursor to get you all interested again (well, all two of you that read it…) I will be blogging about home schooling, running out of wine, not being able to run, ‘the eye’ – obvs and lots of other general mildly amusing anecdotes that occur during this weird period…. like the time when the small boy who was standing outside the wine shop (as i was trying to convince myself that buying a bottle at 11.30am was perfectly acceptable, and had left both of the children outside to make sure that i followed the social distancing rule) decided to pull his trousers down and do a moony through the shop window….. oh yes, that happened this morning….. mortified.
Anyway, i hope that if you read this, it provides a distraction to the rather scary and uncertain time that is occuring.
Watch this space… and remember…. wash your hands folks!
The small child was back at school for approximately 12 hours before he broke up for half term, but I am taking that as a small win!
This blog could focus on what potentially might be a bit of a ‘meh’ half term (for the kids more than me) the weather has been lousy to say the least, but to be fair we have been making the most of it… and they were in camp for 2 days… gotta love camps! and so instead I thought I would reminisce back to when my temporary eye became permanent, well, when I got fitted for my permanent eye…. I never claimed that this blog was going to have any type of themes or linear story, it’s literally what is in my head at the time…. so here goes…. The day I got my new eye… ish….
We all remember the trauma of my first temporary eye, when ‘Eye Lady’ (not her real name) basically had to place her knee in my stomach to stop me sliding off the chair to shove the darn thing in…. well I didn’t think it could get much worse…. until I had the fitting for my ‘new eye’….
Let me set the scene, this was pre Covid and it actually feels quite strange talking about a time when you could walk into a hospital without a third degree about how you are feeling or without the fear of having a completely non Covid related coughing fit as you walk in… any way, I digress…..
It was a rare glorious day in Sheffield and in my wisdom I had decided to walk up to the hospital from the station. If anyone has any vague knowledge of Sheffield, it is the hilliest place in THE WORLD (that’s not actually true) and as I powered up the hill to the hospital, all I could do was think about how hot and sweaty I was and how blooming hilly it was! I arrived at the hospital in a hot, flustered, sweaty state and, as I rarely think ahead, I hadn’t spent much time thinking about what the actual process of fitting a new eye would involve. I was mainly focusing on the fact I needed to get back to pick the kids up from school….. remember those days, when the kids were pretty much guaranteed to be in school… and if they were feeling a bit peaky, all you did was throw a bit of Calpol down their necks and ignore any phone call that might potentially be the school ringing to collect them.
As I entered the room Eye Lady (not her real name) was based in, I saw an unusual number of fake eyes littered on the side, a few instruments that looked dodgy to say the least and a lump of what can only be described as children’s moulding clay… you know the type I mean, the stuff that gets stuck into the carpets and despite swearing you’ll never buy the b***ard stuff again, you always do, thinking ‘next time it’ll be different, they WILL listen to me when I tell them to keep it on the table’….(a note to any prospective parents… they NEVER do.)
Anyway… Eye Lady (not her real name) explained what was going to happen and then started to loom towards me with the infamous ‘eye plunger.’ Fear gripped my stomach and I felt myself slipping down the black leather chair again, aided by the fact that my back was still fresh with sweat from my power walk up to the hospital. Eye Lady (not her real name) was pre prepared and had tipped the chair in a way that was virtually impossible for me to slide out of, cemented by the fact that she had swiftly blocked my exit off the chair with a neat body block. I shut both eyes (useful) tightly and she had to prised my left eye open mumbling, “Crikey, if you can’t cope with this bit, you are never going to survive the putty stage.”
“The what now?” I thought to myself as my eyes popped open in shock and Eye Lady (not her real name) took advantage of this and my temporary eye was suck out with the eye plunger in one swift move.
The next stage involved Eye Lady (not her real name) beginning to soften up the children’s putty ready to mould my socket (blugh.) She picked it up and started to pull and make shapes with it, making it as soft and stretchy as possible, all the while chatting about random stuff. I grunted replies whilst watching in horror at the thought of the putty going into my eye socket…. eventually when the putty was malleable enough, it was put/scrapped/forced into a syringe ready to be injected…
Eye Lady (not her real name) obvs knew me by now and didn’t give me the chance to start my Houdini escape act. She pushed the chair right back so I was laying flat, propped open the flappy lid in a kinda ‘A Clockwork Orange’ type way and started to pump the putty into the socket. Biting my lip and gripping the chair with my nails embedded into the leather, I could feel my top lip sweating as if I had just eaten a really hot curry. Eye Lady (not her real name) was busy talking to me about something, but all I could hear was what sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher…. a mumble/buzzing sound. Now the putty didn’t hurt as such, it just felt really strange, a bit like what I imagine a balloon feels like when it is being blown up. It was very cold and I could feel the pressure building up as it filled. I was so tempted to ask how the Eye Lady (not her real name) knew when enough was enough, but I didn’t want to distract her too much. I was relieved when she eventually stopped before my whole head exploded from being filled with putty.
After what felt like forever, but was actually only about 3 minutes, Eye Lady (not her real name) sucked out the putty and used the mould to make a white wax eye…. that’s the only way that I can describe it…. think ‘Storm’ from X – Men when her super powers activate….. and her eyes are glowing…. and take your expectations down a notch or two and you have just about got what I mean….
Next, according to Eye Lady (not her real name), was the ‘fun part’ (I would have to disagree) It was the part when she would ‘line up’ where the Iris and Pupil were going to be placed. To do this, Eye Lady (not her real name) forced (and I do mean forced) the wax eye back into my socket, took another plunger type device (you really think that they would create a more modern contraption rather than just a plunger) , blobbed a bit of ink on it and then looking at my other eye for a guide, she popped it onto the wax eye… that was literally it… the future of my new eye was based on a plunger, a bit of ink and and estimate of position… (although I imagine that Eye Lady (not her real name) would take great offence at me claiming that she just estimates considering that false eye creation has been her career for the last 20 years or so!)
Squelching the wax block back out of the socket, and we were done…. the temporary one was put back in and Eye Lady (not her real name) bagged up the wax block with the plunger on and told me that it would be around 6 weeks for my new shiny, sparkly eye to be ready…. My enthusiasm for that next appointment was slightly marred by the fact that the eyelashes on ‘The Eye’ had lodged themselves underneath my temporary prosthetic, causing a mixtures of shearing pain and water to leak from both eye sockets….. Mumbling my thanks, Eye Lady (not her real name) righted the chair position and let me slide off in a sweaty, eye watering, blob. Job done.
If the experience has done one thing though, it has put going to the dentist into perspective, never again shall I quiver at having my teeth cleaned!
It’s literally been forever since I last posted, it just shows how much life moves on and how everything gets back to a new normal, a testament to the human resilience in body and mind. I have started to write many times and then stopped, not really knowing the reason why I was writing…. but now I just feel compelled to get some thoughts down.
I’m currently sitting in Sheffield hospital for about the billionth time this year, waiting for the Dr to check the surgery I had 4 weeks ago and waiting for my MRI scan results. I know some of the staff now and it’s lovely to receive a smile and a knowing hello, I do wish it was in different circumstances though. This has kinda become my new normal now, a journey I take every couple of weeks and I know the walk from the station really well and I know that I can fit a whole true crime podcast into the walk which is always a bonus. Today though I was super late after my train was delayed and so I sprinted up from the station in full winter get up, arriving at the hospital in what can only be described as a pool of sweat, only to still be waiting an hour after my arrival for my appointment…. I am grateful though to be able to sprint from the train station, to be able to wait in the warm and dry for my super qualified Dr, I am very aware that for some this isn’t possible.
Life is a rollercoaster (not to quote Ronan Keating, although it is a cracking tune) isn’t it… it has it high points and then it’s utter depths of despair and sadness….I mean don’t get me wrong, life can be rich and full and tremendous and yellow but it can also be so so so scary, gut wrenching sad and black. So black. I have friends who are going through the most bloody awful times and it is heart breaking and I wish more than anything that I could take some of that pain and scariness away for them.
I started to wonder if it was an ‘age thing’ but even if it is, I’m not sure that you are ever fully prepared for friends or family members becoming ill or dying and so when it happens again and again, it’s like a repetitive punch in the stomach. It’s strange isn’t it that when you are young, you spend loads of time wishing you were older (or at least I did!) wanting to make decisions for yourself and be more independent….. but when it happens, it’s not necessary all that it cracks up to be…
Anywho, just a few thoughts today, I might bore you all with my new prosthetic eye fitting with ‘Eye Lady’ (not her real name) next time if you are all lucky….!
Keep keeping on folks and smile at at least two strangers today.
Crikey, it’s been a fair old while since I wrote anything! Not only have I been recovering from the epic Tea (not a drop of tea in sight) Round but things got super busy with work and general life. The summer term is the busiest for us at Mini Mermaids as we have most of our 5km challenges happening and the chiblets seem to have had a billion things that they HAD to do… parties, events, end of term presents which not only have left me exhausted but also my pockets empty as everything cost a shed load of money (my kids seem to think that I have a never ending supply of cash which I only want to spend on them…. I have a feeling that this isn’t going to change…)
But here I am, sitting on a train that I could possibly run faster than, with ‘the eye’ and the other eye ravished with hay fever giving me the appearance that I am very emotional (I’m actually ecstatic at having to be away for 3 days) on my way to our Mini Mermaid strategy and planning days in Kendal, The Lake District (yes I totes had the deciding vote on where we were going!) so I thought it would be a good time to catch up with the media shizzle that has been going on with me! (that’s if I can carry on seeing through my one eye that is weeping tears as if I was watching Marley and Me…)
When ‘Eyegate’ happened, I never actually thought it would generate as much interest as it has… I mean, society tells us that if you are over 35, female, a mum and you don’t have fitness DVD out no one is that interested, and so I’m glad that my story has sparked something in people which means that I have been able to spread awareness about Ocular Melanoma.
Having worked in TV for over 10 years, I was totes comfortable with being behind the scenes, being totally in awe of those who could put themselves out there every day…. it seems however that now it was my turn to be front and centre…. cue sweaty palms and mild panic attacks…
My old (not that old) school friend Richard got in touch a few weeks after I was diagnosed and offered to write and tell my story for a national newspaper ( The Mirror) we spoke (twice in fact) and he was so gracious in giving me the time to ramble through my experience and then picked out and put together my story in such a well written way. I know that a lot of people don’t get to proof read their stories first or get a super awesome photographer to take some pictures of the family and so I am super grateful. I think the article was brilliant and I now will not respond to anything except ‘Brave mum, 38’
I was asked to film a piece for BBC Look North by the awesome Nicola Reese (I also know her through running, small world!) it was so fun to have her follow me around for a few weeks in gold mini… I felt quite lonely when she left! We travelled to Sheffield to see my Dr (the one with the fancy socks) and she spent time with my family and with me at Mini Mermaids telling my story (and letting me squidge ‘the eye’ on camera) and the response that the article had when it went out on Look North has had has meant that many more people have had their eyes checked than may have normally.
I had an emotional experience recording the Mama Fuel podcast with Anna Ferguson (who is an incredible warm and giving person and has a soft silky voice to die for!) It was the first time I had fully told my story in a recording and I was a complete mess…. I was literally a snivelling wreck and you can hear me sniffing away through the whole interview trying to hold it together! (It was also filmed and you can see me casually using my sleeve to do a snot wipe, just like my 6 yr old!) It was such a cathartic interview and helped me release so much and check into myself as I was desperately trying to understand how my life was going to be shaped from that point forward, as a mother and as a woman.
Finally, I had a beautiful interview last night with an old friend I used to work with…. a short 10 minute talk full of laughter and joy with a truly wonderful human who has been through heartache and pain and has so much grace and dignity and completely got everything I was saying….We sat in Roundhay park in the warm evening sunshine and just chatted and laughed….. this one isn’t out for a few weeks, so I’ll hold off with more details and let you know when it’s out… I think it’s worth the wait!
So it seems that I am an old pro now (I’ve still not got the rambling or talking slowly down just yet but I am working on it!) so if you are looking for a speaker at your next event, or want to fill some space in your newspapers…I’m free for funerals, weddings and Bat Mitzvah’s…
I’m off to find some ice to bath my hay fever suffering eyes….!