Where Have I Been?

As it has been a year, I thought I should fill in some of the blanks. We have been through some massive changes; Noah has started school, Neal has returned from his secondment and is back at The Prince’s Trust. And as for me, well where do I start…

I left my job, as I write this, I am close to tears, you see I loved my job, but I saw too many people die, friends who could not beat the disease of addiction, and as much as I tried to “keep my professional hat on” it began to hurt. In an environment of so much pain, suffering and hurt, I too began to break down. I wanted to write how I was feeling, I wanted to stand up and shout, “No you don’t understand, they need love, they need respect, they need to feel wanted and worthwhile” but in an working environment all the bosses, commissioners and the government are interested in is targets, statistics and treatment exits. So I silently left, feeling defeated that my time there had served no purpose.

When the doors opened for me to return to university to complete an English and History degree, it was like God was saying, “here you go Bianca, go follow your dream”.  Our spare room was converted into a study, I purchased the obligatory pencil case, highlighters and a fountain pen. And as Noah donned his school uniform and stood in the school playgroup with nervous trepidation, I too donned on my best “student” outfit and walk through the doors of UCS.

I am not going to lie to you, it has been hard, going back to studying, whilst trying to juggle being the best mummy and wife I can be. Too often I get it wrong, either assignments are late, or ill prepared. Or I find myself neglecting Mr Grumps needs over getting an assignment submitted. However, it has been deeply eye opening, I have realised, I love reading, I love the silence it allows in my brain. I too love learning from the past. But and there is a but. I missed my job, I missed seeing my clients, in what ever state they might be in, I missed holding their hands through adversities and I missed seeing their achievements.   So I joined a chaplaincy team, I take time out of my week, to listen, to show love to those who are trapped in addiction. I take them to appointments, I drink coffee with them and tell them that it is possible to stop using drugs, to stop drinking one day at a time. I tell them I am not there to judge I am there because I want to be. In essence I tell them my story!

Back in the game!

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Noah sitting waiting for his first swimming lesson! He was a very good boy!

Today, I am back in the game, I think. I have managed to tidy house, um the kitchen, make a batch of sweet pepper and butternut squash soup, take Noah to his first swimming lesson, prepare supper and have tea and doughnuts with friends! Hooray! I am back!!!

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Noah and George enjoying some Gingerbread decorating today

Life has been a little frustrating here recently, we have been plagued with this horrible flu like virus that has been going around, Noah seems to have had a constant stream of green snot running from his nose, I spent three days in bed last week, with tonsils the size of tennis balls..(I do exaggerated) I found out at work last Monday that I am no good at catching tables, however I am quite good at pressing the panic alarm and being rescued! And Nanny Jane has been missing in action for far too long, therefore Noah and I are planning an undercover covert mission to surprise her!

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Um Noah and the Kumon workbooks! He has discipline, mummy struggles!

My friends appear to be having mid life crisis‘s around me, which leads me to think, is it about time I had one? But, the thing is I really can not be bothered! I try to entertain the idea of make up, designer dresses, convertible car, gelish nail, champagne flutes, eating food in lovely restaurants sipping cocktails in trendy bars, eyeing the city slicker in the corner. But the thing is, I have tried it, I have the tales to recount, the battle scars that go it. I can not bear for a moment the thought of not having Friday nights as family night, of not snuggling in bed with Mr Grump and Noah on a Saturday morning with tea, biscuits and a DVD we have all seen a million times before. I am not saying that I want my whole life to be family focused, what I am saying is my whole life is family focused. I came so terribly close to not having a Mr Grump, or a Noah, that my family is my focus. Don’t misunderstand we have interests outside of our family, Mr grump and I enjoy separate activities, he fishes, I shop, he gardens, I cook. He tinkers in the garage, I go to book club and gossip! We have time together and time apart. But for us, before committing to anything, we have to ask the questions: Will this build up my family or break it down? Is it helpful or not?

Other People’s Children

Noah on board Freedom of the Seas

Now I am under no illusion that Noah is the perfect child, he has tantrums, likes to scream when he does not get his own way, has been known to lob the odd toy across the room out of pure anger / frustration / damn right stubbornness, and has a decent right hook. But I like to think that I discipline him, I correct his behaviour. There are things that I deem as not acceptable.

Now what about other peoples children? I know we all parent differently, in fact, I whole heartedly agree with different styles of parenting, as those of you who read my blog regularly will know. But I do think there are some fundamental rules. We do live in a world where there are laws and there are consequences to breaking those laws. It took Mr Grump and I a while to discuss these rules, and it has been through trial and error that we have come to agree on the five listed below.

Noah enjoying the last of his three courses!!!

Noah enjoying the last of his three courses!!!

These are the Golden Rules in our house.

1. The dinner table is a place where you sit, eat, drink, talk, and find out about each others day, share concerns and achievements. It is NOT a place where you spit, throw food, shout, scream, demand or act like an animal.

2. Adults do not like to be shouted at, bitten, kicked, smacked or hit, neither do children for that matter, therefore, when the situation arises, which it does, Noah finds himself on the naughty step or in the corner, having time out, until he can calm down and apologise. Mr Grump and I find ourselves counting to ten in the utility room!

Mr Grump, Noah and our adorable nephew Pothos!

Mr Grump, Noah and our adorable nephew Pothos!

3.Sharing is Caring (thank you Mrs H-F) this goes for everything, even mummy and daddy’s chocolate, especially when friends are around.

4. Please and Thank you, really are the magic words!

5. If mummy or daddy says NO, it is for a good reason! The answer will not change no matter how many times you ask.

I am trying to teach Noah that these rules are universal, that if he learns them in his own house, sees his parents and grandparents displaying the same principles. I hope, and pray, that when he is at nursery, at friends houses or at Sunday school, he is able to behaviour in a way that we as parents deem appropriate.

Now all this is fine, and if we live in a world where everyone shared the same five basic principles I am pretty sure it would solve the majority of crisis’s that happen in the world. But how do I go about disciplining other people’s children? Do I even discipline them? Is it ever appropriate to talk to mummies about their little darling’s behaviour? Or even put them on the naughty step? I say “my house my rules”. If I serve up food, you are expected to try it, and just because you are allowed to watch / say / play with something at your house does not mean you can do it at mine! But am I right in thinking and saying this?

I am not for one minute some regimental militant; I pride myself on being loving, fun, and most of all present in the moment. However, please all you mummies out there who think it is acceptable to allow for your children to learn by their own mistakes, make their own rules up, I have something to tell you, life is not like that, every action has a consequence, and if your little darling is allowed to swear at you, kick and punch you with no form of discipline, no word on what is appropriate and what is not, there is little wonder when they end up not listening to you, not respecting you, after all, everything our children become is learnt, not only from the actions of those around them but what they watch, what they play and how they are treated! Rant well and truly over!

(please do not take offence I have had a day working with people who are reluctant to take any ownership over their behaviour, and some day’s I can see their point, other days I want to scream)

Screaming, Crying, Laughing, I do it all….

Ah, the ablilty to try on clothes next to a window at The Big Joules Sale Newmarket

Ah, the ablilty to try on clothes next to a window at The Big Joules Sale Newmarket

Sometimes, I like to scream, I like to really scream, I mean scream from the bottom of my stomach. I like to do it when nobody else is around in the privacy of my own car, usually driving on the dual carriage way. I find it therapeutic. I find it the best way to let go, to relinquish control, to be able to say, (in not so many words) that I need a release, an outlet.

Other times, I like to cry, again, I cry from the bottom of my stomach and when nobody is around, I sob. I cry because I am grateful, blessed and yet, I have pain. I have a yearning to see people smile. I spent quite a few years unhappy, lost in a downward spiral. I felt completely out of control of the choices that I had made and continued to make. Life is very different now!

Still other times I like to laugh, I like to laugh at my mistakes, my crazy thoughts, my quirky habits, but most of all I like to laugh at my successes. At work, I am known as the eccentric, slightly chaotic one, who can laugh at her own chaos. I like to see people smile, I do. Which is why I do the job I do.

I might not be great at the paperwork, I might not be the best at filling, or at adding data to a spreadsheet, or getting more positive discharges than any of my work colleagues, but the one thing, I think I am good at, and the sole reason I do the job I do is that I believe in my clients, I have a heart felt love for anyone who is trapped in addiction and needs help in finding their way out. Whether that is by joining a 12 step fellowship, gaining access to residential rehab, or just coming to sit in the office with me, have a cup of tea and talk.

I have muttered enough, I really should now get on with the work that I love doing!

 

 

AND THEN THERE WAS CALM….

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Strike the pose Spider Jack Monkey

I am in bed, laptop on lap, cup of tea next to me and an empty packet of biscuits on the bedside table. It is 7.30pm and I have been sitting here for half an hour, pondering what to write. Noah’s party came and went without too many a disaster, by that I mean, that there was a plenty of cake, caffeine and chocolate to keep the children and their parents happy. There were tears and tantrums, but when are there not  tears and tantrums?  I think all the children who were invited turned up, The evening ended with a Chinese take away at ours with Mr Grumps brothers, sister in law, niece and nephew. Not forgetting a few extra tag a longs,  it seems I always managed to come back from a party with more children than I left with. Maybe that is because we just have Noah, maybe it is because I love a house full of children. Mr Grump says it is because I can not say no! A lovely evening was had by all, I love Mr Grumps siblings! They make me smile.

Now the weekend is over and I have prepared for the week ahead, slight exaggeration, the alarm clock is set, there is coffee ready to be poured into the cafetiere and I have laid out Noah’s clothes for nursery in his room tomorrow, oh did I mention that he is currently in his own bed, in his own room!  No? well he is! Anyway, I digress, I am sat here wondering, I do that a lot, I wonder, I imagine, I think, whether this is it? Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, I really do. And if I take the time to think how much my life has changed in the last six years, it is nothing short of a miracle. Yet, I still feel there is more, more to say, more to do, more to love. My brain aches sometimes with all the ideas I come up with.

So I am looking to study, looking to go back to university, as a 30 something wife and mother of one. There are hurdles, there are big hurdles, but I wonder, just wonder, if this might be one of those ideas I have that could settle into reality?

Inadequate mummy syndrome part two!

It’s the day of Noah’s party! We are heading to a local soft play area, I have not booked any spaces, in truth, I have no idea how many children I have invited, I have just sent Mr Grump out to purchase a cake, Noah is happily playing in the bath, we are due to leave the house in ten minutes! I’m yet to actually start panicking, in fact, I’ve pretty much resigned myself that I’m never going to be the mummy that sends out party invitations weeks in advance, the party bags are blatantly going to contain the sweets that children “shouldn’t have”. I will however ensure there is plenty of tea and coffee for the parents, and the children leave the party exhausted and ready for bed! I will of course tell you all about t this evening! Now where is my hair brush?

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Inadequate Mummy Syndrome

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Our holiday seems like a life time ago, and as I sit here on Friday afternoon, snuggled up with Noah, eating satsumas and crisps, watching a movie, I am beginning to feel slightly inadequate. I have spend some time today on various social networking sites, trying to promote this blog, and have been reading lots of parenting blogs, and posts on forums. There seems to be an abundance of mummies out there, who are uber organised and managed to do everything not only with a smile on their face, but with the up most ease. This is not me! I have read all about the mummies who have their days planned out weeks in advance, play groups, music, acting, singing, swimming, rugby, football lessons all for children under five, “play dates” are arranged weeks in advance, they even have a planner of what they are going to cook each night. They know exactly what time snack time is and what they are going to offer for it. Their children are all in bed for 6.45pm. They even manage to have sex with their husbands at least twice a week without complaining.

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Noah and Mr Grump meeting Kung Fo Panda on board The Freedom of the Seas

For me, and for our family, life is not like that. There is always a pile of laundry that needs doing in our house, and one that needs putting away. My fridge generally has some life form, not known to previously exist, growing on one of the shelves. I am yet to invest in an ironing board, our bed is rarely made as soon as we get out of it, and Noah never has matching socks on. My friends know that they are welcome to pop over any time, there will always be a cup of tea offered and some type of food, there is a great possibility my son will be dressed as a superhero, and an even greater possibility I will be in my pjs! It is not unusual for Mr Grump to get home from work and we have a house full of unexpected guests who are staying for supper.

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Noah enjoying alligator followed by chocolate chip pancakes

It seems that I am more than capable of taking my son half way around the world, getting him dressed up and taking him to a restaurant to feed him lobster, alligator, scallops,fillet of beef and anything else in between, bringing him with us to watch an open air showing of Madame Butterfly, allowing him to sit on the work top whilst I cook, encouraging him to try new things, sneaking into his room whilst he is asleep and leaving some chocolate by his pillow. I am happy to have a house full of children, to let them play and feed them whatever happens to jump out of the fridge. But the sheer thought of having to cook what is on a meal planner every night scares the living day lights out of me. I shake with fear, thinking what if I fancy something else? What if our favourite restaurant is serving a special on the night we are meant to be having pork tenderloin and vegetables? This in turns leads to a feeling of inadequacy, should I be planning meals? should I have play dates arranged weeks in advance? Is it going to damage my son in the future if instead of attending a play group, we stayed at home and dug for worms ready for when he goes fishing with his daddy?

There are so many books out there advising parents on how to parent, what is right? what is wrong? how many hours a child should sleep, where they should sleep. What they should and should not eat? Blah blah blah. It all seem so rigid to me. As I write this I am beginning to see that what ever works for your family, works for your family. And if it does not, try something new! Nothing that anyone writes can ever beat maternal instinct.

You see it is now 5.30pm, and there is no sign of dinner in the oven, we are all tired, therefore, its takeaway, bath and snuggles in bed whilst munching through a packet of double chocolate chip biscuits, listening to Mr Grump tell us tales of a land far far away! There will be crumbs in the bed, Noah is guaranteed to spill his milk, but would I change it? Hell No!

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