Sunday, 11 August 2019

Haven Cala Gran Holiday Summer 2019 (part one)

We had a total blast this summer in my favourite place.

For the second time since Owen was born, we went on a family holiday and back to the wee corner of the world that feels like home - Blackpool.



Well, technically, Fleetwood, but hey, we were there for the main attraction.

It took me a full on year to pay for our holiday and save for the spending money - last year we went with barely any money and it was a very tight squeeze!

This year I was determined that we would be able to eat out, to spend money on souvenirs and do some of the things that we wanted to do the year before.

Then I quit my job about 3 weeks before we went due to stress and faced the prospect of no wage when we came home from our holiday - great timing, as per.

For a while, it looked like we might need to call time on the idea of going away, but we had looked forward to it for so long...and paid for it....so off we went.

Man, Blackpool is expensive.

We stayed in a caravan at Cala Gran holiday park, which is home to an arcade (hours of children pouring my hard-saved money into machines every night), an entertainment venue (where you dream of sitting on your bum with a glass of wine, watching terrible, but funny holiday shows but instead the children just want to pour money into said machines in the adjacent arcade) and a pub (where you dream of sitting on your bum having a cheeky half pint in peace, but horrible children grudgingly half eat some of the most expensive pub food ever in between trying to head out to the adjacent arcade with my hard-saved pennies  which are burning a hole in their pockets, or running excitedly to the just-out-of-sight park where the four year old keeps getting stuck on the climber).



There is also a small swimming pool (adjacent to the pub, so mum can watch dad playing with the cherubs in the pool while having a cup of tea - ha ha, win!) and an outdoor water park thingy (where you can watch your kids run around while shouting 'be careful' and 'don't do that' at random intervals instead of relaxing.

I don't know if I'm just more cynical as I have gotten older or if arcades are actually more geared to ripping all of your cash out of you for very little fun or return.  Well, that and inflation, I suppose.  It just irked me (and all of the other parents I saw standing in the queue for the prize shop at the end of the week to redeem their tickets) when what must have been about £100 equated to three keyrings, a Hulk Hogan bandana and a set of stickers.



"But the kids had fun"

Yes.  Yes they did.

We all had a blast on holiday - but it is knackering.  But noticeably easier than the previous year.  The older they get, the less tightly wound they appear to be at the beginning.

Last year was crazy - just absolutely constant.  With Ethan, we always have to be 'doing' something and he never seems to be happy with what we are doing - just looking ahead to the next 'thing' which is kind of exhausting and relentless.  Especially in a holiday situation!

He was definitely more chilled this year - not massively - but it was certainly a bit more pleasant.

The first evening was spent paying grace to the gods of Arcadia by lining their metal trays with offerings of coins from children's pockets (we won about 400 tickets at the 2p machines).

We spent so much money on our tea that I felt obliged to put in a complaint online ( £54!!) and I nearly felt like taking a swing to Lidl to just buy food to survive the week.  There's something really weird about living on barely nothing week to week for the last 5 years and then suddenly allowing yourself to splurge - you almost just can't do it.   It doesn't feel pleasant!

We spent the first day in Cleveleys, mainly because I had to cash a cheque at the bank, taking a stroll, marvelling at the 1990's vibe and fully comprehending that this is where every older person ever is holidaying.  It's a bit like Blackpool back in the day where shops still sell some random as heck items outside in baskets marked "£1 per item" and you can pick up anything from a walking stick to a vibrator.

It was actually quite comforting to take in sights such as market stalls selling some pretty questionable clothing in xxxl sizes, wigs and underwear, all of which the kids enjoyed having a giggle at while we shout-whispered "PUT.THAT.DOWN" with crazy eyes while trying not to laugh.

We lunched at a very reasonably priced cafe which was very busy and had a Monet theme, which gave it an air of 1980's Granny's Glasgow house chic (dusky pink, Monet pics in gold frames with gold lamps) , which again was quite comforting and hearty.



I had a very nice 'barm cake' which Dave had a lengthy argument with me about ordering due to the fact he said he would "just be asking for a cheese roll" and I had words with him about the fact a roll and a barm are two different things, which after a quick Google, he realised they were NOT!

HA HA, Dave!

(If you have any interest in this - a barm cake is made with excess foam from beer making! A roll is not!)

It may have been a more heated argument than it needed to be...aherm...

Thankfully we had the comedy break of watching what was a woman armed with a full-on water gun standing in the middle of the road outside, shooting seagulls who were swooping down on those who had chosen to eat at the pavement cafe.  So that was funny.

A quick walk along the water front (very windy) where we talked to dogs (not people though) and the boys (including Dave)  obviously decided that  every bench, concrete fixture and pole was some kind of elaborate parkour trail, so it was more me walking like I was the head of a troupe of crazy, not-very-coordinated, loud, monkeys that I didn't know were following me.




Honestly, I wonder what we all look like sometimes.

"But the kids had fun"

Yes.  They did.  And I hear you.  But honestly, sometimes I wish it was just the kids and not also the fourth, large man-child joining in and that we could walk together nicely while the kids play.  That would feel a little tiny bit less like I was in charge of some kind of uncontrollable mass sometimes.

When I finally herded them all back together, there was thankfully (!) a small arcade across the road (yay!) and of course, son number one needed the toilet, so in we traipsed, spending more than we had intended on yet more tickets (which we later discovered we could feed into the ticket counting machine back at the park, so I felt like I was beating the system just a little bit...ha ha, fuck you, Haven arcade!)






Back to the car and then back to the caravan, where we decided on the camp Papa John's for tea this time (slightly cheaper, kind of) and the back to having the money hoovered out of our pockets by small children who fed it all into the shiny machines.  While I of course wished that I was sitting in the entertainment bit having a glass of wine and watching the kids join in the horrible entertainment instead...but no....

"But the kids had fun"

They did!  And so did I, really...





Part 2 to follow...












Saturday, 10 August 2019

The Struggle Is Real

I'm not having the best week.

Dave has finally come off on holiday from work for the last week of the holidays, and as always, I have limped across the finish line waiting for him.

I barely held it together the previous week, when I unequivocally stated that I was DONE with being the full-time, main carer for our three darling children.


What is wrong with me?

That's the question I asked myself for a good couple of weeks: What is wrong with me?

Why am I unable to get through lengthy periods of time caring for three children on my own, when so many other women also have to do it and without half as much complaint as I seem to constantly give?



Last week, I decided I needed to vent, so I posted a bit of a diatribe on a parenting forum, which went a bit like this:

"Ladies, we are week 5 into the summer holidays and I have been off work for 10 weeks now (quit a really awful, stressful, horrible job and a million times better now, and waiting for new job to start in 2 weeks). My teeth feel like they are peeling with the domestic boredom. I have three kids, aged 10, 8 and 4 and they are lovely kids, they really are, but quite honestly, I could punt them out of the window. 
The youngest is full on Oedipal, spending the majority of his time sqwauking "mum, mum, mum, mummaaaaaaaaaaay" a bajiliion times a day, just for no real reason. I mean, he doesn't want anything...just my fucking soul.
The middle one is in the spectrum and needs to know exactly what we are doing every single moment of every single day, which means there is absolutely no chance of standing down or having a casual 5 minutes, like, ever. He needs routine and I stupidly keep saying things like 'maybe later', instead of just giving him a specific time and date for stuff. He is exhausting. The oldest has decided his preteen side is going to come out this summer and he just spends his time back-chatting or wrapped like a slug in all my nice blankets in his smelly room watching YouTube constantly.
Plus, the eating!!! All they do is consume!!! What have I made?!
I fear our household is the biggest contributor to landfill in the world (sorry everyone else), despite my efforts.
I have about ten tons of washing I constantly need to do, they keep making me go to parks where they ruin their shoes by scuffing them on the roundabout, or in the saner moments when we don't have to 'do something' (for they must at ALL times be 'entertained' 🤨, they've managed to haul all of my soft furnishings and all the tiny little toys outside to play 'shops' (read: make a big bastarding mess), usually just before the wee showers we've been randomly having, so everything gets soaked. Raging.
I've had precisely 10 hours of childcare over the last ten weeks to fulfil the purpose of going to job interviews and yesterday I got to go to a funeral (yay! 😞)
I left my job because I was burnt out, now I just feel burnt out in a different way. I miss socialising with adults, or just having a normal conversation that isn't preceded or followed up with demands, or just silence (these boys are so loud and they just constantly talllllllkkkkk!) Christ, I'd love to finish a stream of thought, let alone a cup of tea.
My house is a shit tip, I have eaten so much shite (no time to make nice things for me) and I'm knackered. School holidays are far too long. And I know some folk really embrace the time and enjoy their kids company because 'life is so short' and 'they are only little once' and yes, I feel guilty for moaning, because obviously I'm lucky to have them etc etc but HOLY FUCK I need a break!"


I fully expected to be taken apart for my comment  but I didn't really care.  I was at the end of my tether.

I did not expect what are some of the nicest and supportive comments I have ever had from total strangers.  Hundreds of women replied in solidarity.  I've never felt more seen.

I have honestly had the most shittiest few years - between a crazy house that is falling apart, the worst financial issues I've ever faced, couple that with not on, mot two or three, but 4 cars which have all had some pretty hefty problems or being scrapped completely(we need our cars where we live for work and school etc), some pretty crazy employment, redundancy, unemployment situations, health stuff and the general craziness that goes with raising a family around all of this...I wouldn't say that we haven't done too bad, considering.



During this time we have had some really great help from some really amazing people - I've been in absolute tears sometimes with the lengths that some folk have gone to to help us out, and we will always remember everything, every little detail, because sometimes quite honestly, it's all that has kept us going at times.

We have had our fair share of shite from folk too, which keeps it all at a balance, to be fair, but in the main, folk are generally nice and supportive.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that we have not had it easy, and that all things considered, we are doing okay.

It does feel like walking backwards through treacle in heels with handcuffs and a blindfold on sometimes - especially when we get handed three boisterous, loud and to be honest, quite demanding children for weeks at a time.

This summer, I haven't had a payday for two months - that's bound to add pressure onto a situation, especially when we have to factor school uniforms, the big p7 school trip payment by the end of August, feeding the buggers for six weeks plus activities.

Man, life is easier by miles when you have some kind of liquid cash to put into activities.



And everything costs money - I mean, everything.

I'm so tired of moaning about it, but I am always so fucking stressed about bloody money - the kids are like wee money hoovers.  Sometimes I feel like we are finally getting on top of something and can relax a bit and BOOM - it's like they can sense it and they grow, or need shoes or suddenly need money for something else.

And to try and take the edge off, I give them pocket money every week.  Burning a hole in their pockets - they go mad with the power. £3 per week is tons to a kid, and actually a bit of an annoying, sickening feeling every Friday, trying to remember to pay them and trying to remember it's good for them to have it and it's good for them to learn budgeting and stuff - but honestly, sometimes it's my last £3 every week and it kills me to hand it over to be spent on rubbish.

Something popped up on my Facebook feed today that reminded me that this time, 5 years ago, someone had our kids overnight!

Can you imagine!

Which makes that the last time we spend a night together alone away from the kids.

And in that post, I mention how the last time before that had been 3 years previous.

That means we have had 2 nights away from our children in EIGHT FUCKING YEARS.

No wonder I am feeling a wee bit fraught.

I love my children, with every bone in my body I love them.  

But, man, I am tired.  And I am so in need of a break.

The last time Dave and I had more than 2 hours alone together was back in March.

March 22nd, to be exact.

And I hate to say it, but I am jealous.

Jealous of the mums that go away on holidays with pals abroad for a couple of nights, jealous of the couples who get to go away for a night at the weekend in a different city to recharge, jealous of the families who take children away to caravans to spend quality time with grandparents or stay with them for a week, jealous of the sleepovers at aunties and uncles houses, at the people who go away in large groups of pals, mish-mashing their kids together for unforgettable trips where they take the weight off each other just by being there.  I'm jealous of the people who have groups of pals they meet up with frequently for day trips, and the gal pals who meet up for a reunion, of the siblings who old each other kids for each other while they go and conquer whatever it is they need to do.

It's so bloody hard to be one of two whole people in the whole world who take responsibility for three growing kids on very fucking little for so much time in one go. 
 It's knackering and hard and honeslty, as much fun as it can be , and as tight as we are as a family, and as lucky as we are to be all together and safe and warm (because there is always that one person who has to 'play devils advocate' or 'see the positives'), I honestly do benefit from stepping away for a bit and gaining perspective and being apart from the kids.

As does everyone!

The more women who commented on that post that day, the more I realised - I am not alone.  My situation is not 'usual'. My husband couldn't see it until I showed him the post and the comments from other women in similar situations.

We all need a support network - whatever form that takes.  We all need someone to hold a hand, or wipe a bum, or to simply batten down the hatches with when things get rough.

I sincerely wish that the women on my computer that day lived beside me.

Thank fuck for the internet or I might have not survived the last week.

I am normal.  IT's okay to be struggling in my own situation.  It's okay to be tired.  It's totally okay to need people.  It's fine to need a break from your kids (and healthier for everyone involved).  It's cool to need to vent. 

Everyone - please check on your friends and each other; near and far.  It's a bloody long summer, and nobody should ever feel at breaking point when we are all in this together.










Sunday, 4 August 2019

Jaded

I think I have become slightly jaded and lost my way a bit.

I had to quit my job.  Not because I couldn't handle it, not because I was bad at it, but simply because the people were extremely awful to me, because I was working way way over and above for little to no recompense and because there were things going on which I wasn't prepared to compromise my own professional and moral integrity for.

It's been a rough ride.

Me, the week I decided I was leaving my job.  Check out the eyebags.  Anyone who says mental health is invisible is a liar!


It took a lot for me to walk away.  

First came the huge guilt - would everything be okay if I left, would things fall by the wayside?  
Then the stress, the anxiety and the fear - what if I bump into people from there, what if people think it's all my fault, what will people think of me?

I spent a solid month waiting for my p45 - in the meantime there was absolutely no acknowledgement of the sick line I had handed in, no messages of concern from any ex-colleagues, no notice that my resignation had even been received; just radio silence.  It was a long month.

With a husband working in the same sector and around the same kind of people, I lived every day in fear of what he would learn - would someone let slip that I had ruined a perfectly good and well-working project before I got my hands on it, or would people pay their best lip-service to him because I was his wife?

Would everyone be whispering about how badly I had handled everything and how poorly I had performed?  Was I just a weak and poor performer, unqualified and unable to cut it?

I spent the month feeling sick.  I couldn't shop in places I had shopped for the project (still can't!), taking myself 6 miles out of the way every time I needed any shopping.  I nearly spewed on my dashboard one day when I drove past someone who I used to work with. I had vicious dreams about being trapped in my old building while people hunted me down.  I had palpatations in the middle of the night thinking about how and if it might all end.  I had to get rid of certain clothes, paperwork, block people from my social media, filter out my emails...

Of course, news filtered through from various sources; so and so had done whatever, things had or hadn't happened, things weren't going so well, there was a lot of scrabbling around etc etc.  I felt worse.

The people I worked with throughout the sector knew I'd been under a lot of pressure - it was a lucky escape.  I was lucky to get out. It definitely wasn't me - they were awful people and didn't deserve me.  I had done a lot of good and now that was being wasted. What a shame - how awful it had happened to me.  Life went on.

Meanwhile, I could barely breathe.

I tried to get a new job - I had interviewed for a nursery back when I really should have left. The manager was really nice and offered me a full time job there.  I went there for 3 days.  It was awful.  I hated it.  Nobody acknowledged my existence, let alone spoke to me and the children, though absolutely gorgeous and cuddly, just didn't want to be there.  I was in the under 2's room, so they couldn't communicate verbally.  Some were ill and just needing to be at home with mum. I found that parents dumping small kids for 10 hours a day in a mediocre setting upsetting, so I left as quickly as I had started.  Not for me.

I had no income.

A friend very kindly lent me money I have no idea how I am going to pay back and I breathed a little deeper, knowing I could take my time and find something I wanted to do.

I put my all into applying for all the jobs I didn't want.

I got one.  It's really not me.  

I feel like one by one all of my passions have been extinguished and I've been left with an empty and soulless life with little purpose.

And boy, do I need purpose.

Even writing at the moment doesn't feel right.  

I feel stunted - stunted by my gender, by my level in life, by my position and by my status.

I should have went to University to do the Forensic Science degree at 18, if not I should have went to the RSAMD audition, if not I should have went to the Primary Teaching interview, we should have delayed having kids, we should never have left that house we were in, I should have finished the post-grad, I should never have left the library...

Should of, should have never, should be....

What the heck have I done?

I keep saying "what's for you won't go by you", and I am trying to keep the faith that this is true, but honestly, with things the way they are at the moment...what if life is truing to tell me that this is all I deserve?  A falling apart house with no income, a mediocre wage when it comes and a life without anything to pour my passions into?

And if so, what the heck have I done to deserve this?

I've got so much to give, so much love to spread, so much passion to pour into the right thing.  

Could I just please get a chance to do this without being shafted all the time?

Please?

 













Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Banana Pancakes

My goodness, it has been a while since I have been here.  Terrible excuse, but I have been really busy, honest!!!

I am Project Co-ordinator at the moment for The Under 12's Project: you can check out the awesome work we all do here: https://www.rainbowhousedundee.org.uk

I started a Food Larder and Freecycle there, which has taken off ENORMOUSLY in the last few months and the whole project has been 18 months of pure challenge coupled with some of the most sickening and mind-numbing stress of my life!

Pair this with the volunteering I have been doing with local charity https://www.togsfortotsdundee.org doing their social media, dropping in to do bits and bobs when I can and trying to formulate endless plans, fundraising etc....

...plus 3 kids....3 dogs (whoops, how ON EARTH did that happen?!)






Yup...three hooligans and three kids too - how DO I fit it all in?

Honestly?  I have no idea.

I am shattered.

Life is so very extremely busy at the moment. I miss the library - it seems a lifetime away, yet at the same time it feels like I could just step right back in (and man, I really want to A LOT of the time.  WHat I wouldn't give for some peace at the desk sometimes, the ability to take out bags full of books that I had time to read....what was I thinking giving that up?!?)

At the moment I have kicked my own ass for the last 18 months doing this crazy crazy job which demands a lot from me and now this is me trying to claw my way back into a life I am comfortable living...

...well...

...not too comfortable.


That would be boring, eh?

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That time my Dad left