Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The one where I vomit all over the page

There has been so much that I've been wanting to say.  About the riots, and especially about how people have reacted to the riots and all the finger pointing that's going on post-riot, the assumptions people have, mostly unexamined, and how ANGRY and dismayed it's making me feel.  But that's a whole other post. 

About how worried and stressed I feel about having to claim benefits and how much I HATE being asked why I'm not working like I'm some sort of criminal.  And don't even get me started on David Cameron's farcical speeches about Broken Britain and having a go at single parents especially in the wake of the parenting tips that were released by the Govt recently, one of which was the clever idea to spend at least 20 minutes a day talking to your child with the TV off - SERIOUSLY?? I mean, I know Jake's not at school yet but surely it shouldn't be such an effort to find 20 minutes in a day in which to TALK to your child? Acccchhhhh!  A whole other post!

About how, in the middle of our housing benefit interview yesterday, Jake, after having stamped his feet, thrown his trains on the floor, thrown papers on the floor, run his trains angrily across the unsmiling woman's desk, stood on the chair and said, "I want to go NOW!" followed by, "Look Mummy, she's got no eyebrowns!" and how right he was cos when I sneaked a peek, I saw that they were drawn on.  To make it up to him for having to go to such a horrid place for such a long time, we later sat on the platform of Walthamstow Central overground station for half an hour where we shared some cake and he could watch the trains go by.

About how alone I felt while recovering from my wisdom tooth operation and how guilty I felt about feeling alone because I ought to be grateful that there is someone to help look after Jake at all so I can look after myself.  It's pointless feeling guilty about feelings but I did anyway, so guilty I even deleted a post I put on a forum that I normally find very supportive because I suddenly realised how many of the people who use the forum have 2 children or more (or are at least expecting their 2nd child) and how churlish it is of me with my mere one child to complain at all. So I kept my feelings to myself and posted cheery status updates on Facebook so I can pretend, along with the rest of the virtual world who partake in it, that I don't have any threatening or scary feelings but that I am acceptable and likeable, so as not to be ostracised and feel friendless. 

And then, the woman from the housing benefit office rang and told me my National Insurance number is invalid (even though the tax office has been using it for years) and I wanted to cry.  Then I heard on the news that six people had been stabbed to death in Jersey, including three children.  And I wanted to cry.  Then I heard that Fiona Robyn's cat died after being knocked over by a car and I wanted to cry.  Then I get hungry and Jake needs a cuddle and life goes on and all the tears get buried somewhere.  Also, I haven't written anything for over a week.  It's taking its toll.  So here I am, vomiting on the page.

Today Jake and I made an impromptu spider and three rainbows out of pipe cleaners, tried on lip gloss (Jake's idea, I have no idea where he found the lip gloss, I haven't worn any for years), drew a mini-train station complete with train tracks and level crossings and received lovely cards from a dear friend - all before 10am.  Later we stopped by Oxfam and found three fantastic children's books (Milo & The Magical Stones by Marcus Pfister which has two possible endings to choose from - a happy one and a sad one, Animal Stories by Dick King-Smith, and The Used-Up Bear by Clay Carmichael) and paid only £2.97 for the lot.  Jake didn't quite appreciate The Used-Up Bear as much as I did.  I really bought that book for me, because I identify so much with that bear, except I haven't had my red suit made for me yet.  I also took Jake to a newly opened local community centre where I am hoping to start volunteering soon. 

And yet, much of the day felt like a struggle.  There was a lot of stress and cajoling to get anything done (getting Jake changed, getting him from A to B, trying to cook) and when that didn't work, shouting and making Jake cry.  There was the moment an old woman standing outside a church with her respectably dressed fellow church go-ers said about me after we'd passed them and she thought I was out of earshot, "Oh I'd never let a child run free like that" because I didn't have Jake strapped into his buggy but was letting him walk (and run) by himself on the pavement (shock horror).  Well, I heard her and I stopped and glared and said, "Oh you wouldn't, would you?" and then walked on muttering to myself about how I KNOW my own kid and hey, how about the novel idea that I might actually TRUST Jake because I KNOW he is capable of being careful even if he is running on a pavement beside a busy road.  How about the fact that whenever I ask Jake to stop when we're out and about, he always stops?  How about cutting someone you don't even know some slack instead of judging them? 

Then there was the moment just after I dragged Jake away from looking at some flowers cos we were on our way to somewhere else and I was so god-damned DETERMINED to get there that he ran and tripped and skinned his knee and cried and cried and cried.  And there was the moment I opened the tub of taramasalata I'd just bought and had been looking forward to devouring and found a spot of mould on it.  And the moment I accidentally knocked a glass of juice all over the carpet and it spilled across part of our newly drawn train station and I totally lost it and started swearing at the stain like I was Lady Macbeth.  Worst of all was the threatening and pushing involved to get Jake into the tub to have his bath.  When I was out of it last week, I found out Jake hadn't had a bath in a week.  He can't have a bath at his Daddy's place cos there's no bathplug.  And he's due to go over there the next two nights, so it suddenly seemed IMPERATIVE that he have a bath TONIGHT.  Except Jake wanted to look out the window at his friend Vlad who was in his garden with his grandma.  So there was more shouting and Jake ended up crying, "Mummy I just need a cuddle!"

He's such a sensitive kid.  He takes shouting hard.  I ought to know this by now.  It may sometimes "work" in that it gets him to do what I want him to do but more often than not he refuses and it hurts him.  I know these things happens sometimes.  We're all human.  There's just been far too much of it in one day.  He finally did agree to get in the bath but he cried the whole time he was in it (which wasn't very long).  I felt so awful.  I asked him he if was crying because he was upset because I shouted at him and he nodded and cried even harder.  After a while I asked him what I could do.  He said he wanted to get out of the bath.  And what did I do?  I said, "I'll just give you a little wash" because he was in the bath and I thought, why not, might as well.  But of course it upset him.  And I said, "But Jake that's the whole point of being in the bath" but then I stopped myself from going any further.  He was already hurt because I'd been coercing him, he cried to show he was hurt and he also told me.  But I'd been doing something like this all day and basically not hearing him.  So I took him out and held him till he stopped crying. 

Then, while I was reading him stories at bedtime, I did it again.  Yes, he was messing around and bouncing on the bed and interrupting my reading and making silly noises and laughing by tickling himself with "Sponboj" and part of me found it cute but most of me got annoyed so I kept asking him if he really wanted me to read him a story because he wasn't listening.  He kept saying he did want a story but he carried on being silly and I carried on being annoyed.  Arrrrgggghhhh!!  I could hear myself and I hated it, but I couldn't stop!!  I kept on at him for not listening and yet, I hadn't been listening to him all day.  And even so, even while I was being a shrill cow, Jake was stroking my arm and saying, "I still love you Mummy."  Oh that child of mine sure knows how to squeeze my heart.

There was other stuff too.  Stuff I've forgotten now.  Stuff about vulnerability and poetry and shit.  But I still have a flash to write tonight.  And this is probably enough vomit for one post.  And because so much vomit should at least be accompanied by a photo, here's one of Jake from yesterday.  He'd had daisies in his hat then put the hat on and just had some daisies in his hair but he took them out just before I managed to get this snap...if you've read this far, remind me to send you a medal in the post. :-)


Annette said...

Feel better now? We all need to vomit sometimes and you are brave to do it publicly.

Amy said...

I read every last bit. No medal required at all, I just wanted you to know that someone was out here reading, and wishing she could just give you a hug and a cup of tea or something. And I hope the next few days feel a little easier--I can relate just now. (Also, Jake is very lovely--wish I could have seen the daisies!)

Kylie said...

It was easy to read to the end. No medal required here. I enjoyed reading such heartfelt writing. It is certainly difficult at times to be a single parent!

Elizabeth Marie said...

Oh, how I love this. You're writing your truth, and I adore people who write truth.

nà from the treehouse said...

I love you, ms hb! There'll be ace days too, to make up for it. Good luck with all the benefits stuff. Ignore the fools, it's just nice you're you, not them!
Hugs xxx

Glovecat said...

You've got my address, now where's my medal? Just kidding, I enjoyed this post but I wish I could pop over and give you a hug. You're doing a great job, fuck the judgemental bastards in and outside of your head. What do they know? Nowt, that's what. You are a good, true and wonderful person, just a bit broken like everything else in the human world. X

changapeluda said...

Jake is lucky to have you. And you are lucky to have him.

this post made me feel not alone

Lis said...

This vomit reads suspiciously like a really good blog post. :) It is so, so, so, so, so hard, and no less hard because you only have one child. I have this idea that some of our challenges are magnified *because* we only have one little guy. A sibling would take the heat off, and create distraction, and fill the gaps...

That Jake looks so healthy (sleeping pictures in subsequent posts are KILLING me with cute), and is clearly a loving, gentle (flowers! stroking!) and hilarious person. So glad he didn't let that woman get away with her eyebrows! All thanks to you.

Thanks, too, for your words about what's going on in the UK right now. Good grief, what heartbreak and mess. (Hm. Kinda like all of our countries...) This too shall pass? What to say, what to say. xox