Thursday, 19 March 2015

Family in it's Many Forms

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I walk down from the school with my 7 year old daughter skipping and running ahead.  Every now and then she runs back up to the pushchair and pulls silly faces making Mast L laugh raucously. She is fresh faced and full of life.  He is happily watching the world go by from the comfort of his striking fox print pushchair.  I have a cerebral acceptance of the happiness of the moment and try to drink it in so that it can be accessed and remembered fondly at a later date.  My children's clothes and accessories are bright and colourful.  They have personality.  I make sure of that.  I'm a fraud.  My complexion is grey and clammy.  My hair unwashed and I struggle to make each step. My sore throat makes each breath feel as though I am trying to swallow shards of corrugated cardboard.  I feel like one of those harassed and callous faced mothers pushing a buggy with hunched shoulders.  A couple of kids, one on each side, talking ten to the dozen.  The ones I observed as a teenager and vowed I would never become.  It was a no-brainer.  My life choices would be worlds apart from theirs.  I would never look or feel like the colour has been drained from my life.  Now I begin to realise it's the love that drains.  Sometimes.  The overwhelming weight of dread and guilt.  The knowledge that you are responsible for the emotional well being of these beautiful and precious mini human beings.  I can't even look after myself.  It freezes to the spot.  

I made my choices and ended up here and the truth is...  I have a picture perfect family.  A great husband and two beautiful children, one of each, the gold standard.  A cliche yes, but completely true.  If I was so inclined I could have Instagram and Twitter accounts full of pictures of my daughter and her friends pulling poses in their 'Frozen' outfits or my baby dancing with his toothy grin on display.  My two cherub faced children with their faces squeezed together beaming in mutual adoration.  There is much happiness around me.  Good friendships and supportive families. Alas I am resigned to be unable to appreciate and enjoy it.  This is a grey time.  I know it will pass but for now I watch and wonder how real people do it.  How other parents do it?  How do so many people keep this up?  How do they get up day after day and go through the same relentless routine. Why am I so feeble?  Why am I nauseated and overwhelmed at the very prospect of negotiating another day.   Why does picking my daughter up from school feel like the last thing I'll ever do. Why does it feel like I need someone to physically prop me up just to walk to the shops?  I'm not one of those blank faced mothers.  Or am I?  My life is good.  My mind is sick.

My brain is turning into cotton wool.  The medication causing me to stare vacantly at people as they talk to me, desperately trying to internalise what they are saying and drum up an appropriate response in time to avoid humiliation.  I am constantly trying to distract myself from the nausea so reminiscent of early pregnancy and the feeling that my whole body is slowly shutting down

The beauty and enormity of family life plays on my mind a lot these days.

I wonder about pictures like these

Are the golden hazed photographs an illusion?  Are we striving for an impossible domestic perfection?  Perpetuating a faerie story when the reality of family life is complex and nuanced and so different for everybody?

For now my reality is what it is and I try not to feel like too much of a failure because of it.

6 comments:

  1. Domestic perfection is found among every word you have written here. How perfect is it to ponder upon yourself and family? Can anyone ever define perfection? A word that carries so much of a burden. Half assed is perfect to some and perfect would never be enough for others.
    You ask so many questions within this post. Is it that you are looking for the answers or just enjoying the wondering about such things? The only measure of ourselves is properly done with a comparison to oneself. Grey time. Your grey time. You see I think of my grey time as this easy going neutral time when I'm neither dark with unconcern or light with unbridled giddy. After years of slumping into despair and doldrums, learning to recognize that it's temporary keeps me climbing out of bed everyday. Such courage you have!

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  2. You care! And that is most important. You love and your children know it. My sister was a wreck for about 5years. It is hard being a parent!!xxx

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  3. Hands up, can I join the Wreck Club?! I haven't slept since last April, just been up every hour again,think it's teeth. Am ageing by the day. 50 shades of grey in my Barnet, love!

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  4. Sent it too soon. It canbe too overwhelming this parenthood lark. Balls to what other families are doing. I think facebook and Instagram can be dangerous, showing glossy pics of happy families. Who knows what's going on. No one has the perfect family kids, I am sure of it, you love your kids and I bet they are happy xx

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  5. If anyone is foolish enough to have perfection as a goal, then they are kidding themselves and bound to fail. Families, like life, are flawed and messy and imperfect, and that's entirely as they should be. As long as your family, and your life, has love and support in it, you're doing OK. When the grey time passes, you'll feel the joy of it again. xxx

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  6. I don't believe in perfection, only in flaws. I love the first photo!

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