Day two without Daddy and we’re still smiling.
We met baby group friends in the park this morning and ended up spending the day with them, dividing child care and managing the various tantrums of four children aged between 2 and 6. It was rather depressing to discover that 6 can be as whiny and unreasonable as 4 – I’d hoped there was light at the end of the parenting tunnel.
At the park, my psychiatric nurse friend gave me a much needed talking to about guilt and childcare, echoing what hubbie had already said last night, to the effect that writing IS my job, even if it pays a pound a day. The kids will have to go to school so they may as well learn they have to go to nursery, and we manage the tears and tantrums. It doesn’t solve my concerns that nursery is too small especially for littlest Martin but I have to manage that by stopping off at the park on the way home and making their home days active.
It’s easier to moan than fix things and I’m awful at letting guilt excuse inactivity. However, as my husband said when he didn’t really want to get out of bed this morning: Time to grow up.
We realised last night that we’re hippies at heart but ones who like a few material possessions. And certainly hippies that couldn’t home school. So certain things in life have to be put up with. I have to put my fears of school shackles aside and embrace the positive. Not something I’m good at. But as my nurse friend wisely said: “your low self esteem came from being told often enough that you weren’t good enough. If you tell yourself often enough that you are, eventually you’ll come to believe it.”
Sounds like hard work to me but I’m willing to give it a go! Time to accept that confidence needn’t be arrogance and guilt and excessive humility are not attractive traits. Gosh, I feel like I’ve been on the therapist’s couch today. No wonder I’m tired! Embracing the positive: A good thought for my 100th post.
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
Claire looked over at the little girl on the sofa next to her. A crumpled magazine lay discarded on the floor and she stared at Claire, arms folded, bottom lip jutting out like a bad collagen injection. The pitch of her voice stabbed through Claire’s headache like a stiletto heel. Swallowing her irritation, Claire pushed a smile in place and lowered her book.
“Sorry, sweetie, have you finished your magazine? We’ll go up to bed in a while but, as we’re in a shared dorm, I thought it might be nice to sit down here in the lounge for a bit.”
Claire had no idea what she was going to do once the little girl was tucked up in the bottom bunk. She wasn’t looking forward to another battle over why Sky wasn’t allowed to sleep on top either. The idea of explaining to her sister that her niece had fallen five foot from a bunk-bed during the night was not something she could contemplate without horror.
Sky’s sulk didn’t show any signs of waning. Claire sighed, her cheeks aching from the forced smile. “What would you do at home before bedtime?”
“Mummy reads me stories, or I watch The Simpsons with her.”
The Simpsons? At bedtime? No wonder the girl has nightmares. Searching her brain for an alternative to enduring whatever banal stories Pony Magazine had to offer, Claire caught sight of a teenage girl on the opposite side of the room, engrossed in a game on her iPhone.
“What about computer games?”
Sky’s eyes lit up and then died, like a short-lived supernova. “Mummy doesn’t allow computer games. We only have one computer and she uses it for her work. She says they’re all silly games that will rot my brain.”
And watching the Simpsons won’t? I wonder about my sister sometimes. No wonder she’s so tired all the time. Aren’t games designed as free childcare?
“Well, why don’t we see if there are any apps on the iPad that your Mummy wouldn’t disapprove of? What about reading and writing ones?”
The tiny face fell. “They sound boring. Jenny has one where you paint fingernails, can we download that?” The girl scooted across the sofa and snuggled next to Claire, tucking herself under Claire’s arm. Not sure whether to sigh or smile, Claire pulled her iPad onto her lap and began searching for apps.
Twenty minutes later she returned to her book, glancing over occasionally at Sky to make sure she was okay. Her niece’s face was tight with concentration and all trace of boredom had gone. It can’t be that bad, surely, if it makes her happy? Ruth doesn’t need to know.
Retrieving her paperback she thumbed through the pages until she found her spot. Katniss was in the trees hiding from Peeta when the shrill of a ringing phone broke the silence. Damn. Turn that phone off, will you? The noise continued until Claire realised it was her phone, jangling in her pocket.
With flushed cheeks she fished it out and looked at the number. Her dinner sank to the pit of her stomach and she considered hitting cancel. Don’t be a coward. Slowly releasing a deep sigh, Claire selected answer and put the phone to her ear.
“Hello?” With a glance at Sky, she got up and walked over to the window. Her niece didn’t register her departure.
“Claire? Hi, how are you?”
The voice caused her dinner to start a tango in the bottom of her tummy. “Hi Michael. I’m fine, thanks.” She heard him hesitate and hoped her frigid tones would cause him to cut the call short. I doubt it. Michael must have a leather hide not to have got the hint already.
“I rang to see how you are? After the mugging and all. You haven’t posted much on Twitter recently. Not that I’m stalking you or anything,” he added quickly, as that exact thought went through her mind. “I was just worried.”
“I’m looking after Sky for a couple of weeks.” Of course, Michael doesn’t know about Ruth’s illness. It seemed strange, Michael not knowing something so essential to her life. She tried to decide whether he needed to know now, and concluded he didn’t.
“Really?” The shock in his voice made her grimace. “I thought you hated spending time with your nieces and nephews.” There was something else in his voice too. Was it hope?
“I do.” Let’s put an end to that seed before it germinates. “Ruth needed some time, that’s all, and I couldn’t say no.” She looked over her shoulder. “Besides, she’s old enough to be good company. Most of the time.”
“Children are, you know. They say the funniest things, and they make you really live life. Everything is new and fresh seen through their eyes.” His voice was soft; it made Claire shudder.
“Yes, well. It’s about time I put this little lady to bed. We’re in a shared dorm and it might take a while.”
She heard him breathe out, and knew she had offended him with her curt response. Serves him right for not knowing when to quit.
“Of course. Well, as long as you’re okay.” He paused.
Don’t say it, don’t say it. Please.
“I miss you.” And he was gone.
- Is Low Self-Esteem Making You Vulnerable to Depression? (psychologytoday.com)
- Celebrities and Sippy Cups Poppy Montgomery Talks about Mommy Guilt (everydayfamily.com)
- Do you have High or Low Self Esteem? (onlyronsworld.com)
- That Scary Thing Has a Name. (lettersofreconciliation.wordpress.com)
- What price do you put on yourself? (imconfident.wordpress.com)
- This is a childcare crisis of David Cameron’s own making | Stephen Twigg and Yvette Cooper (guardian.co.uk)