Wednesday, 2 March 2011

A late resolution

I was looking for a picture for something today, and I came across this:

It's in Spitalfields, Fingers would be about 18 months, I think. We were all having a very tricky time: we'd moved house - and country - for the second time in a year, we were grieving, and I was juddering gently off the rails after a period of making far too many huge decisions and juggling too many responsibilities in a short space of time. But look, look at us. It's one of those little moments of pure joy. I remember having a lot of those, even at the worst of times then. I was so bloody glad to be out of Paris, for one thing and I loved living in Spitalfields, completely loved it. I could get an enormous amount of pleasure from just walking through the market and up Brick Lane. I need to get better at finding those kinds of tiny pleasures at the moment: it's been a long winter and I can't buy my treats at the moment, I have to find them in other ways. I am in a phase of Calvinist self-loathing which is doing no-one any good. It's odd; even though for large swathes of last year things were, objectively, far blacker than they are now, I seemed to be better at finding fun. This has to change, somehow, whether it's with books, strings of profanity and unicorns from friends, or the three short stemmed irises in my garden/slum.

The clue is partly in the picture, though, because look how that boy is making me laugh. He still does, he and his brother. They are daft and delightful and very, astonishingly, willing to cuddle me on demand. I worry a lot about not being up to scratch, I worry about worrying them. I worry about pretty much everything at the moment, so that's no surprise, but I particularly worry that my anxiety is leaching the joy out of things. I want to hold on to the tiny moments of pure pleasure, not to just be the miserable cow worrying about clearing up afterwards, or money, or The Future. I am going to try and be better at it. Next week, is half term and I am going to try and stop gnawing at my fur, and do some daft stuff with my lovely children. Horrible crimes against craft, and outings to poke things. The kind of stuff all three of us love.

Even if I am struggling slightly, I am still me. I know this, because I only realised I had to get to Waterloo an hour before I had to be there today. Then I called the GPS in the car I was forced to borrow in order to get there a "fucking bitch" and had to make an illegal turn across a dual carriageway. And when I got to my destination, late, I conducted a twenty minute interview with eyeliner all over my left hand and a sock on my shoulder (the interviewees did not mention the sock, it fell off in the car park as I left). I think the sock thing might just make my children laugh.


Sasha @ The Happiness Project London said...

This is lovely - what a gorgeous photo. You aren't alone in feeling you get too anxious to appreciate the joys of life sometimes - I find myself getting too ensconced in organisation, in worrying about things and stressing, to care about what is truly important. Basically my bloke and my friends and my family. It's so easy though, especially so as a single mum.

I know my mum worked so hard to put clothes on our back and get us to school, but we just really wanted her to be laughing and fun and happy. I wish like you she'd realised this at the time. You say you are lucky to have them - but they are truly lucky to have you.

Sasha x

soleils said...

Oh, the sock thing made ME laugh my head off. I love this sort of situation.

I am with you, Waffle, the day has to be seized - at the very least the golden nuggets of the day have to seized. I always get caught up in stupid angsty nonsense, and the only result is that I make myself and all around me profoundly unhappy. So thank you for sharing the wonderful photo and sock-on-shoulder stories and bringing me to my senses.

Thank you also Sasha, I think you put it very simply and eloquently. I think my children want to tell me now what you wish you and your siblings could have told your mum. But they are too small and I too uptight. I am grateful to you for reminding me.

Iknowhim said...

Any woman who takes the time to make cabbage masks with her kids is a really good mum, and has got her priorities right. Your kids won't remember if your house was spotless or not, but they will remember those cabbage masks. You're a brilliant mum so stop worrying.

Katy said...

I can totally relate to the comment about anxiety leaching the life out of everything. I hate its all encompassing self absorption.

And I don't know if it's just me, but fun is hard. A lot harder than its jolly simple description would lead you to believe. I think its probably because fun involves letting go. Yikes.

So, well done for going out and trying to find some joy. It sounds as if your kids are perfect company.

Plus, I totally loved the sock thing. All meetings should use this method!


Em said...

Love the photo - and the sock thing!
I hope you have a fabulous time with your boys. Don't beat yourself up, having fun is sometimes hard work. Especially sober. And it's probably better to be when doing craft work.

Sam said...

God, I know just how you feel. I've been struggling with depression for what feels like forever - taking pills, trying to eat the right things, trying to mentally beat myself into looking on the bright side. And I'm so sick to death of it... My employer persuaded me to see a counsellor who said something interesting to me. He had this book of deep and meaningful sentiments, divided into topics. And he'd gone looking for 'guilt', something with which I seem permanently wracked. (Let's just say he'd guessed I was the product of a Catholic convent school before I told him). Anyway, what he found was that there was nothing under guilt - it was under 'violence'... And he's right - we are violent to ourselves in a way we'd never dream of being towards someone else. I'm not a Mum - I won't pretend to know how that feels. But I don't think there's a person reading this who thinks your children lack anything important. Be nice to yourself. You don't deserve anything less. And, if you want me, I'll be the one not practising what I preach...

Patience_Crabstick said...

I had to laugh about the sock and I love it that they didn't say anything.

Have fun crafting and poking things.

Anonymous said...

This time of year is always at least a little like that, isn't it? It is for me -- it's been winter or winterish for so long that it seems like it always has been, and I feel that I am winding down, down, down forever like so much rusty clockwork, bound to come to a complete joyless stop surely at the end of it. Fortunately what happens instead (I think) is that the days get longer and my capacity for enjoying myself regenerates, too. Thank god.

Mum About Town said...

Dear Waffle,

Could you please, please, please elaborate on how does one exactly end up wearing a sock on their shoulder to a meeting? I won't sleep tonight if you don't! Everything else I get: anxiety, not being a fun/good mum, inability to see the joy in what's around me, but the sock thing? Beats me...

Yours appreciatively,

Anonymous said...

It is a lovely photo; sometimes only a small child can have that effect on you.

I heard Sir Waffle on the Today programme as I was driving to work today and I had an e-mail from urban outfitters that included this:-

Not as good as the owl in a box, but very sweet nevertheless.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful piece of writing. Reading a post like this one is like a little bracket of happiness and a break from my anxieties and worries, so thank you. Your children have a mother with a rare insight and an incredible talent for expressing things that others feel but can't put their finger on exactly.
Wishing you many moments of joy!

Waffle said...

You're all lovely. Lucy - it was sort of caught up in my scarf due to some kind of staticky type event on the top of the tumble dryer. Boring but true.

GOOD OWL, Alienne.

Redfox, I am banking on the winter thing now you have reminded me. Must find a patch of sunlight to sit in.

Alison Cross said...

Waffle - oh how I wish I could give you a hug!

Winter is nearly over and I promise you that longer days and warmer weather will make a vast difference.

I think the sock moment was genius as was the eyeliner on the hand.

My dad was to attend a very high-powered meeting with MPs of every stripe, many years ago and as he sat at the highly polished boardroom table next to the speaker, he reached forwards to lift his coffee cup, my silver bangle (complete with camels) slipped down his sleeve and gleamed beautifully on his wrist.

He'd been mucking about with it over breakfast with me and must have forgotten to take it off.

What did he do? Just picked up his coffee and sipped it, like it was the most normal thing in the world for a 50 year-old steel-worker to be wearing chunky silver jewellery.

No-one said a THING about his penchant for ladies bangles to him. EVER.

So worry not about the sock ;-)


Sewmouse said...

Oh you just watch.
Next year at the Oscars on the red carpet, every single aspiring starlette will be sporting a rogue sock on the shoulder.

Fashion is not sane.

Johnners said...

Yes, yes and yes again, I would love to shake off the anxiety monkey and just live more/better/happier. I owe it to myself and to my children, but it seems so hard somehow. You express it wonderfully! Also the sock thingy made me laugh a lot. Thanks! J x

Betty M said...

I worry that I shout too much, that I am too impatient to do stuff ith them, that I have ruined their lives already. But that photo reminded me of the pure joy that we do have. Maybe not as often as I'd like but still. As long as those moments are there and there is chocolate I think we are doing pretty well.

Sarah said...

Oh, bless! A GORGEOUS photo and moving post. I'm dropping by from Tots 100 and am so glad I did. Wishing you all the best in finding plenty of moments of joy this year (with Spring weather hopefully more and more on the rise - those moments will surely arise, along with some more irises!).

ghada said...

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ghada said...

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ghada said...

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ghada said...

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