Better. 

We always think there are better days ahead. We look forward to the days the kids are grown and can take care of themselves. We dream of the days a bill  comes through the door and we can pay it straightaway. 

We look ahead to the time we no longer have to go out to work and plan what we’ll do when we retire. 

When times are tough it’s natural to look forward to the storm passing, to want to glimpse calmer seas on the horizon. 

In the days of keeping up with the Joneses  (who incidentally buy most things on credit) we’ve become a dissatisfied people. We want better things, better technology, the latest gadget, to see the latest films etc. 

It has become unfashionable to live in the moment and that’s a great pity because that’s where the treasure is. 

I know from personal experience that it’s difficult to know contentment sometimes. Everyone else’s grass always looks greener but it isn’t. 

They have dissatisfaction and discontent also. You just don’t realise it because you’re looking at their highlight reel on social media. 

A picture came up on Facebook today. It was of my youngest daughter standing outside our house shortly after we moved in here. 

I couldn’t help but notice how much she’s grown. Her face has lost its baby chubbiness. She’s grown taller. She’s in her penultimate year of Primary school and I just don’t know where that time has flown to. 

But I can say this. An awful lot of it I spent waiting for better days, for easier days, for lovelier days .

Jim Elliott, the missionary said “Wherever you are be all there”. 

It’s one of the biggest things I struggle with yet it’s so important. 

Learn to live your life in the now. It takes practice but it can be done and it’s necessary because while we’re waiting on a bigger and better ship to come along laden with everything we think we possibly need we’re missing out on valuable memories now. 
Till next time. 
This post was written in response to the Daily Prompt -better. 

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

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The Ghosts of Christmas past. 

Perhaps somewhere in a different time we share Christmas day together. You bring your family. We share tales of growing up separately but bound by blood. Perhaps it begins an annual tradition of meeting and exchanging gifts and sharing each other’s lives. 

Meanwhile in a different realm I bring home a special guest. We laugh at the repeats on the TV and bicker over Brussel sprouts.

Later after you’ve had a glass or two and your pipe you fall asleep in the armchair, your cracker hat slightly askew as you snore gently . I look at you and think “when did you get old?”. I remember you carrying me up the stairs to bed in your arms when I fell asleep downstairs. So strong then but now you resemble an old comfy arm chair yourself. The children look at you and giggle. I shush them anxious not to stress the fragile brokered  Christmas peace. 

In still another time, she is there.  Laughing with the children, making merry with the sherry. Making us scream with laughter at her awful charade reenactments. I dream she has had a happy life, a life of peace and wishes fulfilled. 

Lastly in another Christmas I bounce upon my knee a little one. I can see their tiny fingers and their rosebud mouth. They look at their siblings, desperate to join in the fun and excitement. “Soon” I tell them. “Soon you’ll be old enough”.
This Christmas will be a happy one. We have lots of blessings to be grateful for. We love our little family. I won’t feel anything amiss. 
But sometimes I wish the ghosts of Christmas past would collide. 

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.

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

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/

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.

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)