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. 

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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.

What we inherit? Part 2.

This morning I bought a prom dress for my daughter for her school leavers prom. Nothing unusual in that. Although I do wonder when this whole prom hoopla made its way across the pond. When I was at school we were lucky to get a yearly disco or if they were feeling particularly daring, a barn dance featuring a terrible musical score, some curled up sandwiches and lukewarm own brand pop!
But I digress….

Sometimes I catch myself staring at my eldest daughter in awe . She is so different to how I was at her age. She knows her own mind, what she likes and especially what she doesn’t like. I wonder if this confidence she radiates has anything to do with having 2 loving parents in her life? Or would she have been like this anyway? Obviously I will never know. 

Having come from a single parent home with an absent father who is still  missing in action today, I can’t help but feel a pang for my teenage wallflower self.

As a would be writer though it’s all good source material. Angst and loneliness and insecurity have given me a depth of compassion and empathy that are irreplaceable.

My daughter wouldn’t mind me saying she is a complete fan girl,  a geek, a nerd, all names that seem to now have negative connotations but only really mean you are passionately interested in certain subjects. Traits that I share. We like many of the same authors and books, many of the same television programmes and films. Some I’ve introduced her to and vice versa.

I will never regret being a Mother even though the process of letting them go begins the moment they are born and separated physically from us. They have enriched my life in countless ways. But I will never forget that they are their own people. They have their own dreams and desires and plans.

Whatever they might inherit from me and their Dad we are the ones who have inherited a slightly mad, chaotic, house of love, treasured family times, silly inside jokes, honoured family traditions of our own.

I no longer have to shuffle anxiously at the school disco worrying if I’m good enough. I have a house full of people who think I’m the bees knees and I don’t care if they’re biased!

Till next time.

What does the future hold?

Once again I’m sat in a coffee shop waiting for someone else to make a decision about my family’s life. It would be hard to say how many times in the last 18 months this has been repeated. To say I feel powerless is an understatement.

In between these times family routine and work keep me going. These dates on the calendar seem to be far off in the distance. But then the day dawns and I’m left feeling in limbo again. Then I feel selfish for focusing on me when it’s my husband who endures it all.

Then there is the struggle of trying to keep some kind of normality for the children, to spread the joy of Christmas for them when I feel indifferent and sad.
There have been many times when God has felt distant and indeed absent. Friends though have rallied around us though to prove that He is not. They  have been Jesus to us with skin on. His representatives who demonstrate His  love in ways such as a listening ear, a comforting embrace, an envelope pressed into our hands, food parcels, gift cards and much more.

I see as well that they have tried to keep the normality for us by lifting our spirits, feeding us, reminding us there are still good times to be had and sensitivity enough to know when we don’t want to talk about things.

I would never have asked for this situation to happen to us but I will be forever grateful for the lessons we have learnt through it.

Thanks for listening, again.

The marriage vows I didn’t make but should have.

I barely remember making my marriage vows 17 years ago. I remember being nervous and hating being the centre of attention but the day went by so fast I don’t really recall saying those important words.

So much has happened since then. Hundreds of days that seem to have gone by in a flash, some of them a cause for celebration, others that are mercifully forgotten.

I opted for saying traditional wedding vows . It wasn’t the done thing then to write your own personal vows. I don’t suppose I understood the full extent of those promises then being so full of happiness and dreams of romance and the excitement of being with someone forever.

In hindsight I wish I had added to those vows with the following things I have realised the importance of the last 17 years:

I promise not to speak ill of you in front of other people and to magnify your good points instead of focusing on your bad points.

I promise to try to always have faith in you however the circumstances look.

I promise to make the effort to always be your friend.

I promise to not stop doing the little things for you I did so readily when we were first married.

I promise to try to count to ten before the unkind words leave my lips.

I promise to keep trying at our marriage and not to take it for granted.

I promise to cultivate our relationship and friendship and interests so that when eventually our children do leave home we still have something in common.

I promise to pray for you regularly and to encourage your relationship with God.

I promise to treat you with the love and kindness and respect you show me particularly when I don’t feel like it.

I promise to keep in mind the reasons I fell in love with you in the first place when times get tough and those memories dim.

The  good thing is it is not too late to implement these vows and keep trying at my marriage.