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.

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Ways to say I love you. (Daily prompt-underestimate)

Never underestimate that brief squeeze of your arm,
that kiss dropped upon your forehead,
that “text me when you get home so I know you got there safe”,
that ” Do you need a lift?, that “Call me if you need to talk”, that ” I noticed you’re quiet, are things ok? “.

Do not fail to appreciate that clean, folded pile of clothes left on your bed,
that bag of groceries left on your doorstep,
those bedcovers folded back for you,
that cup of tea or coffee made for you without asking.

Never underestimate those people who walk into your lives and make it home, however brief their stay.
The ” I saw this and thought of you “mention,
That breakfast in bed you were not expecting,
That sunny morning you awoke to and conversely that rain that refreshes the humid day.
The breathtaking splendor of a sunrise or sunset or thunderstorm when the skies put on their light display for you.
The unfailing love of a Saviour,
The times spent happily doing nothing much with your favourite people.

Slow down. You know the cliché ” Life is short”. But be grateful. Count your blessings even if they don’t immediately spring to mind.

All of the former are signs of love. People may not always voice their love and care for you but take note of what they do and what you do for them.

That is theirs and yours love language.

Do not underestimate it.

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

Future Me! (Weekly photo prompt)

This is a picture of my youngest daughter.

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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/

Pedalling straight and true.

Sometimes I want to stop the world and get off. Time hurtles by so fast it seems the days are done before I’ve had a chance to put my big girl boots on and deal with things.
I don’t want to waste time. I want to make good smart choices, wise choices but I don’t know what they are.

People think because you’re a mother and a wife that you’ve got your life sorted, that you know where you’re going next. How can I explain that so much of my day is spent just coping with the minutiae that I don’t have time to make big decisions?

I sometimes wish I was back in the days of my youth. The school clock would count down incessantly slow until home time. The hot Summers felt as if they lasted half a year. My biggest decision was what nail polish or music I was going to buy.

Now it is different. Other people depend on me. I can’t just do what I want. Or go where I want to go. And that’s ok. It’s part of being an adult. I know that.

The hard part is we enter adulthood but we’re still children inside. We’re not properly trained and equipped to cope with some of what comes our way. But we have to. The  stabilisers have been taken off. Now we must pedal straight and true.

It’s just a pity that life doesn’t come with a road map and a clear set of directions.

Seeking Aslan (Weekly photo prompt – State of mind)

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I took this photo last year. We were enjoying a family day out at a nearby stately home with its own park and woods. This table which is so reminiscent of Aslan’s stone table from the Narnia books is secluded in the woods.  I remember we stumbled across it and were pretty blown away by it. The bleakness of the photo and the dreary weather were certainly indicative of my mood at the time. We were having a tough time but trying to be enthusiastic for the children.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/state-of-mind/

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.

Channeling your inner writer.

A recent Daily Prompt got me thinking. It asked what advice I would give to new bloggers.

The biggest piece of advice I could give is don’t compare yourself to other writers. It’s intimidating when you start writing. It’s tempting to look at other people’s freshly pressed posts which seem to have hundreds of likes and want to give up.

Will I ever have that many followers? Will my posts ever get freshly pressed on WordPress? Will people like my writing? Will my posts ever go viral?

All of these things are natural to wonder. However they are not beneficial. Readers are not looking for a carbon copy of an already established writer. Rather they are looking for something that piques their interest.

When we take our eyes off our own works and compare ourselves to others we will always lose to a certain extent. It’s an indisputable fact that there will always be someone who writes better than you do (in your opinion anyway) but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try.

Ask yourself why you are writing? Are you writing for your own pleasure? To be published? To be the next bestseller?

Whilst it is good to be ambitious that alone will not be enough to sustain you.

You should write simply because you can’t not.

Yes you need a certain amount of talent but mostly you need endurance and perseverance and for want of a better word, stickability!

Make your own writing rules and stick to them. Whether that is writing so many words or pages each day or writing in the morning or evening,  whether it’s writing a daily or weekly blog post whatever it is make sure it is sustainable. I say this because the days you don’t manage to write will invariably leave you disappointed.

I’m probably going to be disagreed with here but I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to not complete a piece of writing. Yes we need to aim to finish but if we become bored and unexcited with a piece of work chances are our readers will also.

Lastly, if at all possible, try and find people who believe in you and your writing gift. It makes so much difference to be encouraged and nurtured. There will always be people who tell you to dream on, that your dreams are too big, that you’ll never amount to anything but rise above it. Often these people had their own dreams quashed and have become embittered by it.

Writing is a hugely competitive field and you may struggle to have your hand seen waving above the parapet but if you really love the art of writing then write.

It really is as simple and as difficult as that!

At night.

At night I lay awake,
A thousand thoughts cross my mind,
Unfiltered, unattractive, fear inducing.

Who am I now? Am I still me? Or is this a new me? Emerging from a chrysalis of sadness.

I want to go back to how things were. I liked my life. It was comfortable. It was mine.

Now the rules are different , now the goal posts have changed.

I don’t like it. It is like a too small garment bought in anticipation of weight loss, it is like a jumper with a scratchy label that irritates you all day.

It is not me. It is not my life. It is not cosy and warm and comfortable. It is not me.

If I wish really hard can I have my old life back?

Suzanne Rollinson (2015)

Bone tired.

Do you ever feel tired? Not just I had a bad night’s sleep tired but bone tired? Limb achingly, bone chillingly weary.

Tired of situations. Tired of every day life. Tired of miscommunications. Tired of even doing the bare minimum.

I do. I am. Tired. There’s a poem that contains the line “If ever I wished I could sleep for a year it is now”. I relate to that. I want to do that. But I can’t. Life hurtles on with demands on my time.

Get up. Make sure the kids are up. Make sure they’ve eaten. Make sure they’re ready for school and done their homework and on and on. Ad infinitum .

And I have a household to help me. Very few of these things I do alone. But still I’m tired. Tired of checking the bank account every single day. Tired of feeling guilty when we treat ourselves to a coffee. Tired of the car not being fixed. Tired of missing church. Tired of not catching up with friends.

And then there’s the guilt. I signed up for 3 online courses I was very interested in but only managed to complete 2. The third got away from me. Tired of missing the gym and eating unhealthily. Tired of feeling crap about myself.

Guilt that I haven’t started my Christmas makes yet. Guilt that I’m supplementing some Christmas gifts with charity shop buys.

I am so fed up of feeling like this. Half the time I live on auto pilot and then I feel guilty for merely playing at life.

It’s a real pickle.

However. I’m old enough to know these feelings don’t last and are more than likely due to a nasty situation coming up next week. The cold weather and the dark rainy nights all add to the gloom.

When you feel like this, give yourself a break, as I am. You’re doing the best you can, even if that’s getting up and surviving your day until bedtime.

And lastly. Remind yourself you have a comforter who sticks closer than a brother.
This is my prayer for myself and for you.

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Image taken from Pinterest.