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.


Blue Monday and Band-aids..

According to many varied sources today 20th January is called “Blue Monday”, otherwise known as the most depressing day of the year.

Poor Monday. It gets a bad rap but in a way this particular Monday dislike is understandable.

Christmas now seems ages ago, Summer holidays loom in the too distant future and the weather is largely disagreeable almost as if it’s mimicking our moods.

I’ve had some exercise today and that has brightened my spirits a little but I must own up to a slight case of the blues myself. Nothing gut wrenching, more a sense of sadness and unease.

I put this down to the fact that this week ahead is another significant one for my husband and our family. We’re waiting on an outcome we can’t control. We can not anticipate what this will be.

Along with this my son had to have some time off school last week because he was ill. This is always a tough call because any absence from school and prolonged period at home increases his school anxiety.

Today was his first day back after his illness and he appears to have taken a step backwards to his fear and not wanting to be away from me.

I’m hoping, for his sake that it’s just a blip, he’s done so well with school since he started high school.

It’s hard. I sent him off with many hugs and kisses, with his sister and his Dad who was driving them but it felt so inadequate.

I know it’s only 6 hours in his school day but that’s a long time away when you’re scared and anxious.

As parents we have to make tough judgement calls sometimes and it doesn’t get easier.

There are times when a hug and a kiss and a prayer feel so small, like dressing a gaping wound with a tiny band-aid. Yet they are all we can give. We have to trust that the one with power in these situations, God, will show up and do His part in healing these blues and sadnesses.

Till next time.

A Deafening Silence.

There is one relationship in my life that is a constant source of vexation to me. It’s been that way pretty much my whole life. It’s the relationship between my Father and me.
I may have already said that he left my Mother when I was 5. I still remember the argument they had that day but of course I was too young to know what was going on. I remember him leaving though and I remember asking my Mother for several days after where he was until I must have adjusted to the new status quo.
In fairness to her she never stopped me seeing him although it must have been painful for her.

Since then my relationship with him has been intermittent at best with several periods of no contact between us. He is and has been an absent Father.

When I was younger and had visits with him occasionally I was afraid of him. I felt his disapproval of who I was becoming. Our relationship was strained and difficult for both of us.

Thinking about it now the blame has not all been on his side. I have not really played the dutiful daughter either. He came to my wedding but he did not give me away. I asked my brother to.

I read in a book once that when a parental relationship is broken at a young age whether by death or divorce the child left behind is still left at that emotional age that the separation occurs. And that is how I feel when it comes to him. I feel lost as to know how to relate to him. I feel stuck at the age of 5. I can’t forget the years of birthday cards not arriving and my Daddy being away.

When he was married to his 3rd wife, who in my opinion only married him for his money, he tried to give me the marital advice of having regular date time with my husband. A fine sentiment and one we do go by but it felt a bit rich coming from someone on his 3rd marriage!!

I think the sad thing is I don’t need him any more. I don’t need him to be my Dad and I don’t know what else to do with him so we are stuck in a kind of no mans land.

I suppose I feel more anxious about our relationship or lack of it at Christmas because it is supposed to be a time when family gather together. I have bowed to pressure before and invited him to stay but he lives abroad so was unable to come. It’s horrible to say it was a relief in a way because he thinks my religion is a phase, we have nothing in common and one of the last times we spoke he basically told me he only married my Mother because he thought she was pregnant.

It’s still very sad to think of him alone on Christmas Day though.

This post was inspired by the Daily Prompt.


Separation Anxiety

The last time I can remember feeling an intensity of feeling that took my breath away and left me unprepared for its awakening was when my youngest child went to school for the first time. This was not a new or even unanticipated event having had 3 older children who had already left my full time care, and yet it hurt.

I had grown so used to having her with me all the time and enjoying her company that I felt physically bereft when she went. I told myself all of the usual arguments, she needed to go to school to socialise with her peers, it would give me time in the day for myself and so on, but what I really wanted to do was wrap her in cotton wool and hold her close to me.

Perhaps it’s because we had such a difficult start to our life together. She was born only 20 months after her sister. It was a horrible birth compounded by an uncaring consultant and finished off with forceps. I developed and fell into an awful postnatal depression so for almost the first year of her life, Daddy was her main carer.

I still feel guilty over this and have been trying to make up for it ever since. I know it wasn’t my fault, really. She is or was too young to remember this time anyway. The fact she could have wound up in foster care and taken away perhaps makes me grab on to her tighter.

She has always been a very demonstrative child, liking nothing better than to be curled up next to me, arms linked and legs over mine as she chatters away to me. Where we live, children go to nursery at the school they will eventually attend. But and I hate this, they start the term after their 3rd birthday and they still seem such babies. You can defer their starting but aren’t really encouraged to.

The first day I took her I knew she would be upset even though I had tried to prepare her for it and tried to jolly up the experience. I knew she would likely suffer separation anxiety but did not realise I would too! I was not prepared for my own strength of feeling. I placed her upset into the arms of her teacher and went off and cried myself. It helped that I knew the teachers would give her a cwtch and comfort if necessary though, even though their jobs now discourage them to.

Over time she has got used to being away from me. She no longer cries after every holiday or time of illness at the thought of going back to school. I still miss her though. Our mutual separation anxiety has not diminished. We have just learnt to cope with it better.Till next time. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/daily-prompt-intense/