I can’t sleep….

On a recent holiday my eldest son came into my bedroom late at night and uttered those immortal words all parents dread, “I can’t sleep”.

Whilst a myriad of unkind responses raced through my head in irritability at being awoken from sleep myself I somehow managed to bite them back and lamely said something along the lines of ” try not to worry about it, that will make it worse, just lie there and close your eyes and hopefully you’ll drift off”.

Looking somewhat sceptical and bemused he padded back to bed and left me wide awake and thinking.

My first thought was amusement. Why do children say these things and what do they think we as parents can do about these issues? Does he think I’ve got a bucket of sleepy dust under my bed I can sprinkle over wakeful teenagers?

Having  4 children and spent countless sleepless nights there have been times I would have given almost everything I owned for such a powder, so desperate was I to sleep.

But as time wore on and I pondered deeper I came to a realisation. He wasn’t only telling me he couldn’t sleep.

Being a sensitive soul, prone to some anxiety, he was telling me something was off with him.

He was feeling afraid. We were staying in an unfamiliar place and it felt strange in the darkness. His fears were magnified in the shadows. His bed felt odd, his surroundings were untested and quite simply he needed his mum. He wanted me to make him feel safe and secure, like I used to when he was a baby and I rocked him to sleep.

He’s grown a lot this year. He’s a young teenager and almost 6 foot tall. His voice has deepened and he’s not a little boy any more. 

So sometimes I miss the cues. I miss the moments when he needs me. He’s come on so well since his school anxiety and become so self reliant and independent that I forget he’s still a child. And he still needs his mum.

But now he’s older it’s different. He has different needs and we have a different relationship. 

You might think that I’m making too much of this, that maybe I should have just taken what he said at face value, instead of reading into it. But I know him. 

When he came into my room that night it was based on a feeling he was having, he wasn’t able  to articulate it so he based it on the closest thing he could think of. Not being able to sleep. And undoubtedly that was part of it but not the whole part.

Something caught in my spirit that night. I lay there and thought of all the conversations I’d had with my kids recently and wondered what other cues I had missed. 

I felt gutted to be honest which quickly seesawed into the usual motherly guilt trip. 

Parenting is hard and children don’t come with a manual and as they age their needs and issues change.

I forget that sometimes. When I am prompted to remember by situations such as that night I feel like I’m constantly playing catch up .
Love language and family dynamics change but I will strive to keep up with the times and with the children and their needs, however subtle the cues might seem.

Till next time.

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Entire of itself (Island -Daily prompt).

The poet John Donne once proclaimed”No man is an island, entire of itself”. Poetry can be a tricky thing to interpret. Is a poem meant to be read in a literal sense or is it merely symbolism to convey an idea or subject the author is pondering? We can never know for definite and that is one of the things I love about poetry and art. It is left to our subjectivity and the interpretation we choose. 

However in this case I think by reading further on Donne is merely saying that we’re not meant to live our lives alone. We’re meant to live in community with others and it’s only when we have that interaction we are truly ourselves.

The Bible speaks of us being members of one body, again portraying how necessary we are to each other and it speaks of us rubbing each other’s rough edges off”as iron sharpens iron”.

The truth is we need each other. I’ve said many times I’m an introvert. I find small talk painful. I don’t find social occasions easy. Often, even with people I know well I stand there frantically searching my mind for something to talk about.

But I try to persist because I value the people in my life, past and present, whether I have the courage to voice it or not.

I’m grateful for women who came alongside me in my lowest moments of depression. These women sat with me when I was afraid to sit alone. These women shopped for me so I didn’t have to think about what to feed my children and cooked for me too. They sat and sorted and folded my laundry pile when it was stressing me out to look at it. These women and men came up trumps the last few years when money was tight and the future looked precarious and uncertain.

Food gifts would appear on our doorsteps, money and coffee gift cards through our letterbox. They walked the walk. They showed they cared.

I’m grateful for those whose preaching I sat under, those friends who opened up the word and things of God to me, in church and in their homes. I’m grateful for the times of fellowship that went along with these times and the many people who fed our large family.

I’m grateful for the people who trusted me with duties and roles in the church and in the job world and painstakingly encouraged me the very many times I doubted myself and if I actually had anything to offer.

There were times as a teenager I felt I could die from loneliness, despite being surrounded by friends.

I felt like that island. Alone and isolated. Cut off from people and land. Left to fend for myself.

Today I live in a house populated by a small army I created myself, as the saying goes. I know every parent says it and thinks it but my kids are amazing.

All different characters, all different traits, all good at different things but all kind and helpful and loving. Don’t get me wrong, we have all the sibling rivalries and arguments and family dramas but we are a unit, a stronghold. And on the days I am seeking a little peace and a little solitude and the only place I can find it is the lavatory(normally with someone banging on the door asking if I’ve almost finished!) I reflect on the fact that I need these people. I’m not an island and I’m glad of that.
Till next time.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/island/

When I tell you that I love you. A love letter to my husband on our anniversary.

When I tell you that I love you I mean I love you for you, that funny,irrepressible you that hides sometimes behind layers of flippancy or Dad jokes.

I don’t just love you for the way you look, although of course that’s always been a part of it, that cute smile that drew you to my gaze.

I don’t just love you for what you can do for me although you do countless things for me every day and every week, month in and month out. Some things I take notice of and some I regret to say I probably take for granted.

I love you because you’re kind, to me and to other people. I love the way you go out of your way to help others sometimes. I love the way you father our children, the way you make them laugh or teach them to swim or read them Lord of the Rings endlessly.

You are a good man. You have been a good husband and I am proud to be your wife.

When we first began, even when we first married I was full of fear because I knew from childhood experience that love is not always enough to keep people together.

I came from a broken home. You did not. At times I worried for us. Who would teach us to navigate the difficult areas of life?

When we would first argue I would fall back on old habits and tell you to go. You would clear your head but resolutely stick by me.

We have weathered our storms. No more and no less than others perhaps but the things that might have broken us have not.

We have 5 wonderful children. It’s just that one lives in Heaven for now. And I want to tell you honestly despite our hard times I have always been glad you are mine.

I am so proud of you and the man you are, have been and are becoming.

I pray that God will continue to knit our married lives together because I have to say you are still my favourite person to be with and spend time with.

I love you honeybun.

Suzi xoxo

Hands on or hands off?

It’s always hard as a parent to see your children struggling. You want to remove them from their stressful moments or live those moments for them, to save them pain.

And it doesn’t get easier when they get older and are struggling with different things. How do you stand back as a parent and let your child grow without a little pain or struggle or strife?
The simple answer is of course you can’t. You only have to hope that you’ve raised them with the skills that will equip them to navigate life’s difficult paths.

When my children were younger I could heal their struggles or woes with a kiss or a cuddle or something to distract their minds. But what do you do when Band-Aids and ice pops don’t work any more? When they’ve outgrown them?

The hard answer is you take a step back, you take your hands off a little, you try to find the balance between respecting their privacy and over parenting them.

But, as I know from experience it’s a veritable minefield and it’s all too easy to strike the wrong note and get it wrong.

This morning I opened my mouth and the wrong voice came out.
What I originally meant as encouraging came out harsh and judgemental and unfeeling and uncaring.

I couldn’t bite the words back before they were uttered, much though I wish I could. All I could think of were the times I’d needed encouragement as a child and it was not forthcoming.
Of course I apologised immediately but what do you do when you know you’ve slipped up and you can’t correct it?

To be honest once you’ve apologised and sought reconciliation there is not much you can do. You have to forgive yourself and try to remember the times you did not slip up, the times you said the right word in the right season. The times you were there to extend the hug, the kiss, the Band-Aids, the encouragement.

But it’s never easy. Why is it we can extend forgiveness to others but find it so hard to forgive ourselves? I’ll never know for sure. I think it’s because we expect so much more from ourselves. We beat ourselves up when we get it wrong. I know there are many nights I’ve wept for the times I’ve got it wrong.

One of the greatest joys in my life are my children and the relationship I have with each of them. I would not trade that for anything.

In times like this and I don’t mean this as an excuse or get out clause, we need to extend ourselves some grace, and some compassion. I’ve never found that easy.

We are human. We are imperfect and we will always make mistakes.

We can only wait for the lull in our kids difficulties, raise them up in prayer and hope against hope we can help them next time they struggle.

Till next time.

Future Me! (Weekly photo prompt)

This is a picture of my youngest daughter.

image

I’m often told that she looks just like me, well I suppose one out of 4 kids isn’t bad! She’s a
happy little soul. This picture was taken in the holidays and she’s goofing around with a cushion on her head. This photo shows her character completely, sweet and loveable. With reference to this week’s photo prompt when I look at her I really do see my future. I would say excuse the dirty mark on the cushion but that’s just real life…..

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/future/

When we leave – timed writing piece.

“When we leave we have no knowledge of repeating history. The harsh words and recriminations we fling around have been voiced before, albeit not by us.
Is it our destiny to make the same mistakes over and over?
What is this weakness in our dna that belies our good intentions? Some vestige of parental nurture? A result of one sided parenting?

All I know is it makes life hard. This urge to flee that rises unbidden to our lips and makes monsters of us.

And when we leave we think we will feel relief and we do. Initially,  for about 5 seconds until we succumb to guilt. We have so much to feel guilty for. Even as we carry on walking away we are aching to retrace our steps, to hang up our coats and shake out our anxieties like a newly ironed sheet.

We stay away because we convince ourselves it’s better for everyone but the honest truth is we are too scared to stay. Too afraid of letting you down and the last awful motive we never admit to anyone is purely this. We are selfish.”.

This post is a five minute timed piece not designed in any way to portray current circumstances. It was inspired in part by family history and a desire to see if something decent could be written in 5 minutes.

Finding a new normal.

A few months ago a troublesome family situation I’ve alluded to previously came to an end. It didn’t end to my satisfaction. It didn’t even end in a way I could have anticipated when I’d lain awake at night worrying.

I don’t think I realised how worn down and bent out of shape I have felt the last 2 years. Like the hamster on its wheel or treading water whilst trying to stay afloat I have been intent. Intent on keeping it together. Intent on letting nothing slide. Intent on keeping things normal for the children. Intent on not crying. Intent on supporting my family and husband.

Someone once told us as a family “You’re always struggling with something”.  It was true but it stung. Are there any other families that don’t struggle or are they merely better at hiding it?

I thought once all this was over I would feel relieved, as if that huge weight had been taken from our shoulders, but I don’t.

What I do feel is caught in limbo, trapped in the detritus of decisions made when we were not thinking straight.  I feel trapped, unable to go backwards but scared to go forwards. Scared of making wrong choices and mired by indecision so instead I do nothing, caught in old ways and bad habits.

Before Christmas our car gave up the ghost and it will be a few months more before it can be fixed. Sunday morning lay ins that were attractive initially, have palled. We miss going to church. We miss our friends. The sensible thing to do it seems would be to find an interim church in the meantime but even that feels fraught with difficulty.

I feel hugely resentful. I feel mournful. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next.

I would just like a rest. Rest from the worry of unpaid bills, rest from worrying about jobs and work, rest from trying to make the right decisions all the time, rest from constantly second guessing myself.

This has been a largely self indulgent rant. I have always said that I write my blog for myself, to make sense of my feelings, although of course I appreciate other people reading it.

What I do know is I am tired and unwell and not firing on all cylinders at the moment so excuse my indulgence and I hope tomorrow is a better day for all.

Till next time.

S.

Satisfied

I shall not choose to regret the times that led me to this place, these people, this house,
For here my heart has been granted its desire for sanctuary.

I will not choose to regret words unspoken and wrong roads taken.
For they were merely an echo, a foreshadowing of the place my soul would call home.

Here I have found shelter. Here I have found solace. Here I have put down roots and made a family.
Here I am loved. No one can make me feel undesirable or not good enough and although I lack for things I do not lack love.

I am a mother, a wife, a sister, a comforter, a listening ear and it is enough. I am satisfied.

Suzanne Rollinson  (Sept 2015)

No longer Young.

No longer Young

Though we are no longer young
and each day new wrinkles and grey hairs invade
still we choose to love.

For hidden in the shadows of an ever changing face are
the laughter lines of a million memories
and countless nights that rode on a new morning’s dawn
as hearts were laid open and examined and understood.

Those precious nights when the only solace we found was talking on long journeys as the children slept or a myriad of alphabet games that made us giggle when life got too serious.

We have spent almost half our lives together but it would be remiss of me not to tell you how much you still mean to me. Each day I am grateful for your complete acceptance of me even the difficult bits that make you grind your teeth. And each day I am reminded in countless ways of all the good in you, your sense of humour that many never get past and mistake for flippancy, the way you father our children, wholeheartedly and with a sense of fun. The very many cups of tea and coffee you make me without being asked, more coffee lately.

The desire to better yourself. The way you suffer my tv programmes without complaining. Just for being you. Though we are no longer young.

And they are no longer young. Hands that once sought mine in solace and comfort have found their own feet and personalities, and dummies have been replaced with independence.

And however hard it is, those times there is very little in the bank to tide us over and another bill arrives or that important date that gets delayed again and again, I would still choose you and all our history together. Because corny as it is, I love you Jamie.