July 12, 2013
This morning, school: 2 hours, Joseph’s nursery induction. Tiny children. Painting. Skipping pages. Toys.
Lunch: quivering wreck. Couldn’t even feed myself or listen to Joseph. Half-noticed Frasier playing.
This afternoon, school: 1 hour, Lily’s first play. Heat. Picnic. Noise.
So grateful for help and for the opportunity to get away home by myself before I melt into a bundle of nerves. Last night I had a good idea for a book. Or was it yesterday?
Usually writing is my creative outlet, my scream against the night. Now my trembling fingers are sulking and my mind is ewdiufhwleuhfxn. This aches soooo much I just want it over. Please words. Why can my son watch a whole film now, but I cannot? What am I even so angry about? Will it be long before the next chocolate hit? Is school really so nerve-wracking? How can I have a cheerful conversation one minute and be rooted to the spot the next? Does it show? Should it? If I push the bubble too much, will it pop?
I suspect I am going to need to lie low this weekend and let God pick up all my broken pieces, and disturb my muse a little more. Last night I had a good idea for a book. Maybe I can make this happen. One word at a time.
…I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed…
July 10, 2013
Beauty comes in many forms, and the colour around me these sunny summer days is startling. The tighter I withdraw myself from normal routines, the more detail I notice. The slower I go, the more I see and the more I trust. There are SO MANY colours in nature. I took some photos in our small garden and found a rainbowsworth in no time (click it for a larger version). I just want to drink it all in, to lean on the beauty and learn the colours. I never even saw them all before. The grace of it all. The sheer madness of abundance. And that’s just in the part of the light spectrum I can see.
Man-made beauty can also make me stop in awe. Sometimes all I need to jolt out of a depressive rut is a bright colour. Colour is powerful. My husband used to have a set of mugs at university which included a bright yellow one to cheer people up. I found it comforting, but when it broke we needed a replacement. Thankfully Lily decorated one with my mum as a Christmas present. It still cheers me up. We all need a cheer-up mug sometimes. I highly recommend it.
I choose colours to wear according to how I am feeling on many occasions. And if the garden can be decorated with so many hues, it is probably ok for me to wear red sometimes. Or blue. Or green. Maybe you want to wear colours according to your mood. To be able to send a message that you just need a blue jeans and neutral top day. Or a bright orange day. Or a shocking purple day. To be seen. To know that what’s inside has a colour and to feel ok to express that.
…he views the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens…
July 6, 2013
There is nothing quite like a nice morning bath. Or a glass of cold icy water on a hot day. Or a dive into an empty swimming pool.
Water is life-giving, refreshing and soul-calming. No wonder so many people have water features in the garden. Today, after much insistence from Lily I faced my fear of going to a crowded park on a hot, sunny Saturday and managed to do enough of my share of parenting. One of the lovely features of Holywells Park is the water spray area, which is open between May and September. Children and teenagers run between the jets and arches as they turn off and on intermittently, giggling and filling bottles to squeeze on to each other. Huge fun and a wonderful part of summer. Lily was reluctant, but eventually paddled in the area, shrieking with excitement at the sudden parabolic jokes and wobbly bursts of fun. Joseph was far less keen and wouldn’t go near.
Sometimes I feel like that too. Reluctant to go near the water, afraid that getting wet might hurt or make me look silly. In fact, the best fun is to be had getting in to life and living it.
I know that the park trip has cost me, but I am not going to stop living and I am adapting so that I can take further steps. I prepared by making sure we had (almost everything) we needed – with help from my husband, and took a camera and a magazine to help me when I was frightened. Now to stay indoors this evening and bury myself with television, ice cream and books until I can face more activity.
As a deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for you, O God!
Psalm 42:1 New English Translation
June 30, 2013
Lily came in to see me late this morning while I was still in bed, and cheered me up by dancing in her own unique way to music on the radio. I think it was Radio 1.
Music can certainly help. Having a child interpret the music by circling with floaty arms and closed eyes adds humour which can lift me too.
In the past I learnt to play a number of instruments, but none particularly competently. I got grade 4 piano when I was quite young, but needed to stop learning as it was stressful racing through grades and not something I could enjoy. Later I learned a couple of brass instruments briefly at high school before settling on percussion and drums. I enjoyed the drums and it was helpful for me in the past to be able to release my mood through music when I felt rough. I also took saxophone lessons for a couple of years when the children were tiny which was very satisfying, but didn’t get further than around grade 4.
Recently a church family lent us a digital piano so that I can practise and also see whether the children are going to want to learn. Then another church friend (a near neighbour) gave me lots of basic sheet music. It has helped me to find tunes I can play, even with two hands and chords. I am doing exercises when I feel like it and learning things most days. The children are taking an interest and perhaps in the future will want to learn music when they are ready.
I also like listening to classical music and usually find Radio 3 comforting, although when my mood changes I will try any station. And in the car I put on CDs a lot, especially Christian music for speaking truth and love into whatever situation I’m in. Some friends from university, Nick and Becky Drake, have produced some excellent family-friendly albums, and we also like Steven Curtis Chapman, TobyMac, The Rend Collective and many others. If you get as excited about Lego as I do and know TobyMac’s work you may find the following amusing (see 2:20 onwards especially).
This last few days has been particularly heavy. I did not make it out to the church weekend at all in the end. Just way too anxious. I am resisting the anger and guilt that are knocking on my door. Today I could not go out with the family. I know the medication is affecting me a lot and that this is temporary. I also understand that there will be an end to the anxiety and depression, which is spurring me to keep looking forward.
Saul, first king of Israel, suffered with depression. Interestingly, when David played music it calmed him (usually). There is a passage about this:
“And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.”
1 Samuel 16:23, English Standard Version
The translation of ruwach-ra’a as ‘harmful spirit’ in this translation sits more neatly in my theology of God as one who loves, but also disciplines and has the power to harm. More interesting thoughts about this passage can be found here.
June 11, 2013
I am not too happy about being depressed.
I took advantage of the glorious weather on Friday to attend a huge teddy bears’ picnic in the park (the event was huge; the teddies were generally teddy-sized). Many people who were there were known to me, including Lily’s class and friends from a number of circles. It felt good to be among people and to chat.
And then, wow.
It knocked me out emotionally all of the rest of Friday, Saturday, Sunday and half of Monday.
What was confusing was that I could function generally pretty well in my usual way. I just needed an inordinate amount of time and space to recover. Mostly I have been watching Frasier, season 5. Just the thing for knocking the edge off the blues. Eric Morecambe did the same for me when I was depressed at age 18. Annoyingly, I have already reached the point of finding the humour more irritating than funny. I may need to search online for the funniest episodes: Frasier is the only programme I own the entire output for and I know there is some genius writing in there.
When I was 18 I learnt to offset my self-centred depressiveness by serving and caring for others. By finding new purpose and God’s grace in being able to see him at work beyond my normal sphere. I had three amazing weeks in Bosnia and Croatia that summer and came back ready to move forward. This time around things have to be different; I’m not an ambitious teenager with high hopes and no one else to worry about. Ironically I have more plans to visit the Balkans this summer (Albania), but this time with my husband and children. I have also been learning that with God at the centre of all I do, my husband my next priority and my children after that, I cannot do any more or spread myself any thinner until I am recovered.
I am a Doer, so learning to just Be is a hard lesson for me – I know, I spent a lot of 2012 wondering what that may mean, but not achieving it. This season will be a lesson for me in Being, and in also learning not to feel utterly guilty about all those things I might have Done should I not have had to pause.
Do be patient with me. I care enormously – part of the reason I am where I am. But I cannot always help or serve others beyond the four of us just yet. I need more of God working in my life and healing and restoring me. I am determined to recover and I don’t know how long the journey will be. I will not be doing this in my own strength however; I need to get closer to God and listen to what is on his heart. And I might need some help along the way tuning in to what he’s saying on some days.
Until then, I don’t know what to do with these tossed salads and scrambled eggs.
June 4, 2013
I am not sure I should give you this whole post today.
But in the interests of getting straight to the point, and also as I may well forget to, here it is. I’m pondering Deferred Gratification again today.
My children are increasingly keen to have their material needs and wants met, and know exactly who to ask for satisfaction. I am repeatedly amazed at my son’s confident trust in expecting a pleasing result, or his tenacity in alarming responses should less preferential alternatives be suggested. What keeps me going is knowing that his sister (who still checks in frequently with requests) is now able to accept a refusal more often than not should the request go beyond the egg/fish category. It is ok to be firm, fellow-parents. It is appropriate to say No to children at times, even when the price is right. My daughter Lily recently explained to Joe that we couldn’t get something because it was ‘too much money’ which wasn’t true, but was also happy for me to correct her. Am I a mean parent? Not at all; I recently had to forego a large proportion of my comfort Pop Tarts in the interests of making mealtimes a happy experience for all concerned. Who wants their children to grow up not knowing what things cost or where they come from? Joe asked me this evening if chocolate came from paint. Nice thinking. Perhaps we should be writing some kind of letter to Cadbury’s…
Ah, but all this talk of confectionery, and no Jam.
I was at mum and dad’s recently, discussing the perfect state of jam. Dad and I agreed that the pleasure derived from starting a new jar of jam was far greater than the scale of the thing, especially when you consider going back to it the second time. Second day jam? Not special. But then dad pointed out that finishing a jar, knowing you have made space in the cupboard, and also anticipating a new jar to start the next day – that really is something special. Jam indeed tomorrow. And jam today, so doubly happy. The best experience of jam could well be finishing the jar.
Tomorrow I don’t know if I’ll have jam.
Tomorrow I would ordinarily be running a toddler group and racing around with my control-freak head on. We usually get around 40 children a week, and there is a lot that happens to make the group work. Tomorrow marks the first session I won’t be there for a while, ‘signed off’ for a sabbatical half-term. I will have to make other plans to keep Joe amused. We can’t stay in pyjamas all day. Actually, we could, but it would not befit the school run or hanging out the washing.
Tomorrow I’ll miss the people, the activity and the joy of seeing my little boy running around in church playing and having fun. But I am not sure that tomorrow or any tomorrows in the near future I would be capable of what is required of me: meeting people and not panicking, staying in a room full of noise, remembering the details, watching a number of activities, training, leading, guiding, opening up ideas. I will post more about what is happening to me soon – maybe tomorrow. For now, this jam jar is right out of jam. But finishing the jar is sometimes really the better part of the whole experience.
Who knows what’s in the cupboard for tomorrow?
May 14, 2013
…if I could only give you one thing, what would it be?
What could I give you that you could treasure should the worst happen?
My mind has been preying on this in recent days.
If you were ever taken, would you know that you are loved? Would you know that we would fight every day, do our uttermost to bring you back to us, pray and cry and trust and worry for you until we had answers?
Would you know that you are not alone? That whatever horrendous evil schemes others have, you are truly precious and beautiful and that nothing can dirty you or break you or make you unlovable? That there is hope. That sometimes people do return home. That strength to go on another day can be found.
You may be too young to hear the details of April’s disappearance, but you are old enough to learn that children should never get in a car without mummy or daddy knowing. You may be too ignorant to appreciate the horrors of a street in Cleveland, but you are old enough to recognise the love we will always have for you, even if time passes and we should not see each other. You won’t yet have heard of Jaycee, Tia, Elisabeth, Madeleine or any of the others, but at the right time we will tell you what you need to know. We do not want to frighten you.
We want you to know you are loved beyond all measure.
You are so loved.
And because we believe in a God who heals, restores, saves, delivers judgement and identifies with humanity at our weakest, we also want you to recognise that you are never alone. You are precious in the eternal scheme. We always have a reason to hope.
So if you take one thing from me, remember: you are loved.
And if you can take two things, remember: you are never alone.
And if you ever leave this nest before you can fly, keep on trying – because one day, one way or another, you will fly.
And every day that you remain in this nest, I am grateful for more time to help you learn and to love you in person.
My dear, dear daughter.
April 26, 2013
April 25, 2013
Months pass me by in a muddle of motherhood. I may be introverted, but I never intend to ignore any of my interests and constantly consider that perhaps I care too much. Or alliterate too literally.
Either way I overthink and undersay.
I have a feeling our family has a maximum quota of words as a unit, and with Lily becoming ever more literate and fluent and Joseph finally buying into this English speaking thing my own words are dripping out of the equation. Having a forgettory helps too. Thankfully at least my husband generally manages without using too many words. That is, unless you get him on a subject he needs to be excited about. And when I get on a topic I care about I use up way too many of my day’s words quickly and then have to retreat and be away from everything and from everyone for as long as I can.
This leads to frequent recharging in my daily and weekly routine. In order to cope with teatime with the children most days I have to have half an hour to myself before their bath and bedtime. In order to cope with running a noisy and busy toddler group once a week I have to set time aside for myself the day before, the afternoon after and if possible as much of the following day as well. To cope with any social activity I have to see it coming, plan around it and pace all other social activity that week. It has only become apparent to me fairly recently that I may actually also be suffering from depression.
But I don’t want to suffer, so I am resisting it the best I can.
Some days I will not have many words.
Some days I will need extra recharging. Unlike Katharine Welby I have found the church to be remarkably accommodating when I have needed space, and in allowing me to continue to run toddlers and have purpose in that.
Some days I want to explain it all. But today I can’t.
Some days I just need to find people like me. Or a little like me. Because then, despite the depression and the activity to hide it and the words outside, I need to find the words inside and others who get it can say it even when I cannot.
February 9, 2013
I am preparing codes and games for our church’s upcoming holiday club, themed around pirates and have discovered a wonderful set of names, for those who are navally inclined. How about this as a sibset?
I can just picture a middle-class little twin boys’ room decorated in tasteful pirate themes with a little flag on the end of the bed for Oscar and another for Charlie. Perhaps it has been done. And there are more names in here too, if you allow the ones which appear on Babynamewizard: Alfa, Delta, Echo, India, Kilo, Sierra and November. All of which are female except Kilo. Here is the entire list:
I wonder if this is a theme others have spotted and acted on? As my children’s middle names are Juliet and Micah perhaps we should assign them a flag each?