Single parent studying sucks.

Studying isn’t going well. I actually am experiencing quite a lot of regret about partaking in studies, and the only thing making me continue with my degree, is that in about 6 weeks, I’m done with the OU for the year. Yes, the year, I am not going to be doing my third of six years until 2020 because I simply cannot find the time or energy to get it done.

I’m very aware I am sat in a place of privilege and the opportunities I have, are not available to everyone, and so I feel very ungrateful when I say these things.

But all the same, I’ve only got me to pull me through every single week of independent study and every assignment. I’m trying to balance that with everything and truth be told, I can’t hack it. So to put it simply, I am waiting until Reuben is 2 and in nursery to continue with this degree.

I am considering going to an actual university. That would mean starting again, but doing a distance learning degree is way harder than I thought it would be. It was hard when I was working, and it’s certainly a lot harder now that I am a stay at home single parent. Finding the discipline within myself to get the work done is so hard. The motivation wavers away. I feel that this kind of studying is very lonely.

Currently, I should be writing up a paper but I’m finding it incredibly difficult to concentrate as I am overwhelmed and angered by the assignment itself. I just don’t want to do it. I have been trying so hard this year to achieve better grades and I haven’t been getting better. I’m truly disappointed in myself and thus, I am procrastinating. This is the second to last assignment of the year and there’s maths involved. It’s definitely not my strong point.

Anyway, I better just crack on with it. At this point, I just want it out of the way. I have two weeks to do it but next week is a break and I really do want a break from my studies (as if I haven’t been slacking with it for weeks on end). I recall, of course, why I want to do this degree. I want a better life for my son and I. I want to help others. I’ll get there.

Thank you for reading,

With love, Rebecca xo

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A Roadtrip to Bridlington.

Yesterday, something exciting happened.

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An actually it was decided the night before. You see on Wednesday night, I was not in a good mental place and I joked that I wanted to go to the seaside, mainly to get away from these four walls, but my partner was like “why not?”. So at 4am on Thursday morning, we were all getting ready to race the sunrise to the coast.

We (referring to my sister, Hannah, my partner, Matthew, and my son, Reuben) were all pretty excited by this little rather impromptu adventure we were going on. I couldn’t believe my luck though. I haven’t been to the seaside since August 2017 and I’ve barely left Leeds in what feels like forever. The main reason for wanting to go to Bridlington was because I had it in my head that it would make me feel closer to my Nana, with all those memories, and that I’d feel more at peace.

At the city streets, turned to the familiar country roads, I felt a sense of ease. Memories of listening to Ronan Keating in the car with my Nana flooded my mind as we drove through the little sleepy seaside villages. I felt so much thankfulness in my heart that I was getting the opportunity to do this. There are many times I look at Matthew and think “how lucky am I?” but yesterday, I thought that so often.

Unfortunately, the sun kept the sunrise on the low down. The cloudy sky meant it just got light, albeit many shades of grey, and it was raining a lot. But in seeing the sea, I was happy. The ocean always makes me feel better. I know this isn’t an uncommon reaction, but it’s one worth mentioning.

Matthew wanted to nap as we waited for the town to open up it’s doors, so Hannah and I bundled Reuben out into the pram, thinking it would be a fantastic idea to have an early morning stroll by the shore.

Wrong. It was blistering cold. Raining. I had forgotten the raincover to Reuben’s pram. Fail. Terrible. Cold. Very, very cold. But still, we took some photos, and then literally ran back up the hill to the car. Honestly, I know the sea air makes it colder than it is inland but that was ridiculous, it felt quite Baltic.

8am wasn’t too far off though, so soon we went for breakfast. Good ol’ Spoons. Or not, honestly, breakfast at Wetherspoons lately has gone down so much. Supermarket cafes are easily outdoing them. Sorry ‘Spoons! Still, can’t complain. Breakfast is breakfast and we needed to eat.

It was after that, however, that Hannah and I got our step count up and Matthew got his much needed nap in the car. Hannah and I took Reuben in the pram along the promenade as far as we could walk on South Beach. It was really nice. The skies started clearing and it got a little warmer. And it was during this walk that I had my first of two epiphanies of the day:

First of all, that Nana is wherever I want her to be. She’s in my heart, she’s in my head. She is in the memories, the ocean breeze, a warm day, a good cup of tea, a song that I haven’t heard in a while… The people we love and lose never really leave us, because as long as we remember them, they are always, always with us.

The other thing I realised that is, no, I don’t want to live here. I felt like if I moved to the seaside, to the place where all my memories are, that I would feel complete. But being there as a new person, as a mother, I decided that there’s nothing here for me like that. I can get the feeling that I get by the sea at any coastline, looking at any ocean, and to be honest, Bridlington just hurts a bit because of the memories. I think my Nana would understand these feelings.

Anyway, we didn’t stay long after having a fish and chip lunch. Come on, you can’t go to the seaside without going to the chippy, can you? I really liked what we got too. But by 3pm, we were already going home. All knackered.

The rest of the day went kind of sour. A mix of feeling mentally unstable (let’s not mince our words here, I was literally found holding back tears on the kitchen floor because I couldn’t figure out how to make dinner due to mind fog) and being sleep deprived really wasn’t working in my favour. But that’s not what this post is about. And I feel a lot better today. Honestly, my mental health has been rocky lately but I just have to sail through the storm. What matters is that I have such amazing people supporting me through rough tides. I couldn’t be without Matthew or Hannah. I’ve been laughing a lot more lately, I’ve been smiling a lot more too.

Hope you enjoyed my blog post, thank you for reading!

With love, Rebecca ♡

Festive feelings.

What a lonely Christmas this is going to be.

I keep trying to put on a brave face and remain positive, I am determined to make the best out of it and really enjoy my day with Reuben… but it’s still just going to be me and Reu.

And today, a wave of grief hit. I found some of my Nana’s socks that I must have borrowed and never gave back. They were in the back of my drawer, fluffy, and still smelt like her laundry detergent and her home – over four years after her passing. I put them on and I wept.

I haven’t cried about my Nana for a long time. I remember when she first passed I cried all day every day. And then it was every other day. And then it was once or twice a week. To say I was heartbroken was an understatement. It absolutely crushed me. But there was a shift a few months after she passed, and following the birth of my brother. I decided I wanted to make her proud. And I also decided that I was in no fit state to have a child of my own, I was extremely broody and dreamt of motherhood (have done since I was 15 in fact) but I realised that the depressed insomniac on antidepressants needed to make every area of her life more stable before she had a baby. But that’s, that’s quite a tangent I went on, isn’t it? Oh dear.

Anyway, it’s been a while since I cried. But these socks, they really brought it home.

And Christmas? Christmas is creating such an ache in my heart because it screams family and festivity. It screams of indulgence and religion too (but I’m not religious). But here I am, knowing full well it’s going to feel like just another day for the most part.

Well, actually… I’m going to try my best to enjoy it. I could really enjoy Christmas Day but there’s a possibility I will be crying wreck when the day comes. That’s what happens when you run out of family.

Not that they’re all dead mind. Some I cut off, some I don’t like and some just don’t want me around.

I envy people will close families.

Because as much as I adore my online community of friends that I genuinely do care about. There are days when you really notice how alone you are.

I know, I know, I’m not truly alone, I have Reuben. I know this. It’s just that we can’t exactly strike up a conversation and he’s very independent. If I try to play with him with his toys he looks up at me, eyebrow raised, until I move away. He is the sweetest little boy though, I do my best to laugh with him all day long.

Today in fact, I turned the TV off after breakfast, because I’m doing a little experiment. I’m trying to see how much more I do, and how much more Reuben plays, if the TV isn’t distracting us. I’ll probably turn it on around dinner time though.

That’s the thing though, it’s such a distraction from all my thoughts and feelings. When Reuben took his nap (and he’s 95 minutes into this nap), I got studying and got through all the online activities – well not all some I labelled ‘irrelevant and annoying’ and blatantly dismissed them – so I’m now up to date. Hey, I got 14/15 questions right on the survey I just did about the week’s studies and I’m impressed with myself.

But back on point, it’s Christmas and that makes my heart heavy. But I’m going to do my best to have a lovely Christmas with my Reubs.

We will play Christmas music and movies, have the fairy lights on all day long, eat lots of food and I’ll try to stay off my phone as much as possible (I like taking pictures but then I get distracted by notifications and then I end up scrolling – it’s a trap!). I’m going to love seeing Reuben open his presents and completely ignore the contents! Haha. No but seriously I think he’s going to love them… and probably the balloons I intend to buy, since the ones from his birthday are pretty much stress balls at this point.

On a very soppy note…
Reuben is my link between heaven and earth. I had a psychic reading done in December 2016 where my Nana told me she was sending me my baby back. I was told he’d make it. And so, when I look at my sweet boy. And people tell me he’s an old soul, that he’s been here before, I just know in my heart that he is. His eye colour is settling but sometimes they go the colour of my Nana’s eyes and that always makes me a bit emotional. And even if people think that I’m silly for believing this, I will still believe it. That little boy, saved my life, and keeps saving my life, and although I know he’s his own person… he’s still my link between heaven and earth. And I intend to give him a wonderful childhood.

I think he must have heard that; he has just woke up! Time to give him cuddles!

Thank you for reading!

With love, Rebecca ♡

Shadows.

I held my son to my chest, and I felt my heart swell with love. It’s almost overwhelming sometimes; the way I feel such a pang of deep sadness intertwined into that pure, unconditional love. It’s especially strong when I stand at my bedroom window, as the light of the day fades (or has faded) away and I look out at the city lights. There’s some strong feeling that takes my breath away that I have tried to articulate time and time again, but have failed each time.

This time of year has always been my favourite. It’s cold, it’s dark a lot and I find it comforting. It’s not necessarily nice being outside when you’re freezing, but I love warming back up, getting cosy. Christmas lights and hot chocolate make me infinitely happier. But this dark time of the year reminds me of dark times in my past, of haunting memories, and it seems as though the ghosts of that trauma seem to hang in the air.

And when I look out at the city lights, it’s like I can feel an older version of myself when I look out and I can feel her hurt and sadness. I suppose, psychologically speaking, the feel of the air and the night which is so different to any other time of year, is a reminder. A trigger, if you will.

But I remember that she is a younger version of myself, and she was absolutely heartbroken to find herself so destroyed, but she found the courage to fight. She had this dream of being a mother and it was all she wanted. She knew one day, if she kept going, if she worked on getting better and healing her heart and mind, she might one day have her baby in her arms.

Flashback to the 21st November 2017, when she was in labour. She looked out at the night sky, knowing that she’d fought very hard and finally, finally her dream was about to come true. And no, it hadn’t happened in the circumstances that she wanted it to. But she felt euphoria, she felt the world shift. She was a little afraid but she believed that her baby boy would make it. Why? A psychic reading done the year before had proven invaluable when her Nana told her she was sending her, her baby back, and that he would make it. There was a feeling in the air that night too. Like there were still shadows and it made her feel deep sadness too. Luckily, by the time her son was in her arms and her head had stopped spinning, the dawn had arrived and she watched the sunrise. The world was new. Her heart felt healed. She was so, so happy.

But she had not healed.

I have not healed yet.

I have healed to an extent, but trauma is still being carried deep in the pit of my gut. I still feel that haunting, of memories, that should be gone but they won’t be forgotten. How can they be forgotten when there are so many things that I associate with them? From things such as the fresh, cold night air to the way some stranger might walk, from a song she might hear whilst shopping to people in her life that serve as reminders. That’s how trauma works. You don’t have to be thinking about it, it comes to you.

So maybe I’ve figured out why I feel such joy and such sadness when I hold my child and look out of my bedroom window. It’s such a beautiful view, but it’s more than a ‘bittersweet’ feeling. That word doesn’t do it justice.

Never in my life have I claimed to be perfect, or innocent. But I know that there’s a fire about me. And I’m sure people still think I’m a pushover, and there’s people who think much worse of me, but…

Through all the grief, anger and trauma, there is still courage , compassion, and hope.

So, those shadows may stay but… So will the resilience. And the memories may never fade… But the determination to create a life I love won’t.

Tonight, I held Reuben to my chest and we were looking out of the window when the skies were deep purple, and the city lights flickered, and I told him…

“These days are special. These lonely days of just you and me, they have taught me I am strong”.

I gave him a kiss and told him “I love you” and I was crying a bit when I did.

I was told that because of my mental health, that I wouldn’t be a good mother. But that person was wrong. I have struggled with my mental health this year, especially when therapy was opening up badly stitches wounds, but I have never let it affect the way that I parent. I’ve even felt like I couldn’t cope being alive anymore, but I’ve held on and asked for help, because I just would not leave my baby behind. Mental pain can physically hurt, and I have suffered… But I’m starting to understand why things are the way that they are.

This may have been a little unconventional for a blog post, but I feel that it’s something I need to talk about.

I’ve figured out why I feel so much joy and so much pain when I look out at the city lights and night & now I can accept it.

Thank you for reading,

With love, Rebecca ♡

This Time Last Year

I remember the way I felt this time last year. The way the air felt, the white noise of something mechanical humming at night (I still can’t figure out what it is), the way the lights across the city seemed crisper… It all reminds me, like the most wonderfully enchanting memory. There is no doubt in my mind that I’m remembering with rose-tinted glasses. But I know for a fact, also, that I remember that the person I was before Reuben was born felt a kind of excitement, naivety and apprehension that I’m scared I will never feel again.

The selfie I took before heading to the hospital to be induced.

I remember feeling dreadfully uncomfortable, completely DONE with being pregnant and massive. And moreover, I was done being told how massive I was. As if I couldn’t tell!? I was sick of the sickness, the acid reflux, the endless peeing, the pain I was feeling around my ribs, the ridiculous amounts of discharge and the sweating. You know, I was still trying my best to cherish my pregnancy but I think I spent more time trying to film baby kicks than I did actually appreciating the moments (something I will remember if I’m lucky enough to have a second). I would rest my hands on my bump, take endless photos, but by 37 weeks I was done. So when I was offered an induction days before my due date, I leapt at the chance.

I’d seen a lot of inductions on One Born Every Minute and I’d read the leaflet but nothing could have prepared me for the days that followed. I felt like I’d been in hospital for a week before I was actually induced – in a different hospital – on my due date.

But my mind seems to have fixated on the little details of the hospital I was supposed to give birth in, when I was waiting to be taken to delivery suite to have my waters broken. In all honesty, it was quite lovely but I was so impatient and being in a hospital bay all day waiting around was driving me a bit nuts. I wasn’t very well prepared, I hadn’t brought much to entertain myself – which is probably why I remember the space around me in vivid detail. From the way the light hit the blue flooring during the day, to the way the overhead lamp created a calming ambience at night. I remember bouncing on that big purple gym ball for hours hoping labour would come on spontaneously but I now realise, it was doing very little for me, and it was probably making me all the more impatient.

I was offered a transfer to the other hospital where I had a bed on delivery suite waiting for me on my due date, a few hours after my mucus plug went, and I jumped at the chance. I now wonder if my experience might have been different if I’d have stayed at the hospital that I wanted to give birth in. But nevermind, what good are what ifs? No good at all.

So there I was, in the delivery suite of this other hospital, taking a quick video of the room for my Instagram. I was telling people I’d no longer be replying. Although I did later on, at some point, I can’t remember when. And I had no idea what was coming as far as the syntocin drip was concerned.

I love that before they broke my waters and put me on that drip, I was blissfully unaware saying “whatever happens I’ll deal with it, as long as baby is okay”. I mean, that wasn’t a bad mindset to have but… Yeah… the girl on the ball in her nightie who just had her waters broken, and the girl on the bed who just got given the epidural were a couple of hours apart, and I can assure you the girl on the bed felt like she’s been through a kind of hell that she knew had changed her forever. The rest of it was a breeze though, if that’s any consolation – it was to me!

I gave birth to Reuben just over 12 hours after they’d broken my waters, and it was incredible. I felt the love instantly – it was euphoric! I felt the rush of love which I’d heard people say is indescribable and I was so relieved. I was so, so happy. When I had been waiting to push, I remember thinking “this is it, my dream is about to come true, I’m gonna meet my baby!” and that was an unforgettable moment too.

So is it any wonder that I feel this way now that Reuben’s 1st birthday is a day away? It’s so bittersweet. I feel happy and sad at the same time. I feel my heart aching so badly when I think back to it. I know this is common in mothers but I never really hear or read anyone talking about it.

Maybe it’s because I feel cheated out of enjoying those newborn days, maybe it’s because I had a vision of how I wanted things to be during pregnancy and it wasn’t like that. It’s not like my expectations were high but when you’re poor and feeling unsupported through both pregnancy and your newly made mother days, it’s very hard to feel like I got anything right at all back then… I don’t know. I guess I am overly critical but when I think back, I have regrets and I find myself saying “here’s what I’d do differently”.

Anyway, it’s hard to believe Reuben’s been on this earth for a year now. He’s turned into my little best friend & he makes me smile all the time. Even though we have been poorly recently, there’s still been smiles. And I’m far from perfect but I know I’m a good Mama.

I’m feeling very nostalgic and wistful about this time last year but don’t worry, I’m also concentrating on making this year’s memories count! Reuben’s presents are ready for Thursday, the flat is looking nicer than it ever has done (apart from the kitchen right now) & I’ve even put the Christmas tree up!

I love motherhood, it puts a kind of joy and resilience in my soul that nothing else can. I mean, there’s obviously sadness and mum guilt in there too BUT! Let’s focus on the good!

Thank you for reading,

With love, Rebecca ♡

Survival Tips When You’re Sick

We have been quite unwell this week. First, Reuben was sick through the night and then when he started to recover the next day, we went out, but then by the time we came home, it was my turn! It’s not been fun. I’d like to add Reuben has had a mild case of the sniffles and is teething too which hasn’t helped matters, but it’s nothing that can’t be eased with mummy cuddles (and Anbesol).

Anyway, we both recovered within 24 hours so I am assuming it was a tummy bug – which is a the technical term, for having an upset stomach. There’s been a lot of sick you guys, it’s not been nice.

It isn’t surprising that getting through the day (and the night!!) when you’re unwell and your child is too, isn’t a bucket of laughs. But I thought I’d write a list of tips on making it as bearable as possible – and it might just be a good reference to me in the future, but it might help you too!

  • Everything can wait! Stop worrying about the dishes in the sink and Mount Laundry Basket. It can wait. Same goes for the laundry waiting to be put away or the vacuuming. The moment you feel better, you can tackle it. For now, bare minimum (such as rinsing cups and plates and leaving them in a stack, or putting the sicky clothes and bedding in the washing machine) is a good start. I know we can’t all stay home and do barely anything because we have other kids and commitments, but if you can, I recommend using the little energy you have on looking after you and your child.
  • If you can get any help at all, accept it! My sister was visiting when we got sick which was quite the coincidence but this meant there was someone their to lighten the load. Whilst Reu and I took a nap, she did the dishes and tidied up without being asked and then we woke up to a little snack plate and drinks. This was appreciated since I hadn’t eaten in what felt like forever after a night of throwing up. So yes, you may have to ask for someone to help you but you even if it’s just someone picking up some groceries or running you a bath and watching the kids, it’s worth it.
  • Drink plenty, stay warm, and take your medicine… You don’t get any medals for not taking your damn medicine/painkillers, so do it! Rest is important but you’re not going to rest at all if you’re aching everywhere. I timed taking some paracetamol in time for Reuben’s naps and we snuggled up in bed together. I really did ignore the fact I needed to do housework and studies because I wanted to rest and sleep as much as I possibly could. I think the more you rest, the quicker you get better. So take the painkillers to help make yourself more comfortable (my body ached so bad this time around I felt like Mr Potato! I don’t know, if anyone will understand how that made sense to me).

Also…

  • What you eat when you’re poorly is important. Reuben lost his appetite for a while and so did I but when we ate simple food, we started getting better quicker. Things like fruit and chicken soup, in small amounts frequently, really helped. I always think eating whatever form of protein is best for you really helps you to recover.
  • Humidifiers, saline drops, baby paracetamol… These all help you and your baby lots but please, if there’s one thing that’s made this whole thing easier, it’s that I was able to snuggle up with Reuben pretty much all the time. I let go of a lot of rules… I let him watch TV in the early hours in his travel cot so I could throw all the sicky blankets, bedding and clothes into the washing machine (we were very low on wipes so I ended up using a blanket or two to catch and clean up sick) and he actually fell asleep in there.

I guess what I’m saying is, it’s best to just snuggle up and ride it out together. Everything else can wait. And if you have to go out, bundle up warm and don’t stay out too long. The fresh air will help but at this time of year, try not to be out too long if you are poorly. Eat nutrious food (when you can), keep yourself hydrated and stay warm. Those are my survival tips beyond the medicine.

Thank you for reading!

With love, Rebecca ♡

I’m Unmotivated

From talking to people I know, to reading people’s social media posts, it’s evident that a lot of us are struggling to stay motivated – so I’m not the only one, which is comforting, but it is a problem.

Maybe it’s because of the weather. Or, the more probable explanation, in my case, is the fact I am overwhelmed with pressure. Pressure, that I put on my self to get this and that done, and do it perfectly, and juggle all the balls.

Well I’m sorry, but I’m gonna have to break it to myself that I need to chill the 🦆 out!

When I write a list of the things going on in my life, I realise there’s not that much there and the reason I’ve made such a mountain out of a molehill, is because I expect far too much from myself.

Have I forgotten that I’m a one-man-band? It’s simply just not possible to do it all, not in one day anyway!

If I want to do the shopping and take Reuben to the park – or just be out for the day in general – I can’t expect a spotless house that night. Getting out and about as a parent is tiring and you don’t get a rest when you return. Suddenly there’s 53 things to do and the house is an absolute pigsty, then your child is in bed and you have to drag your exhausted carcus around tidying and cleaning. Or you leave whatever you can until tomorrow. Either way, it still has to be done.

And I’ve realised if I want to study, I can’t clean. If I want to clean the flat, I can’t go out. Or I can, but it’ll have to be a quick, cleverly timed trip out. Because there’s meal times and nap times that play a role in how you can both be ready to get out at a convenient time.

For the longest time, I was so angry at myself for not being an up and out in the morning person. Everyone else seemed to be doing it just fine, especially parents on the school run. And then I realise; what does it matter if I’m not able to be ready early in the morning? Who cares!? And that sorted that one out for me.

But lately, I can’t be bothered studying, or cleaning, the laundry is constantly getting on top of me. I’m putting this off, and that off. I’ve become the Queen of Procrastination – Case in point; writing this instead of getting on with nightly cleaning chores.

*big inhale, big exhale*

So, I guess what really matters is how I respond to this lack of dopamine in my system?

Well, first, I’ve got to understand why without being angry with myself. And since I’m barely taking care of myself like I was earlier this year, I’m going to say that’s a reason. Secondly, I’m overwhelming myself with unrealistic demands for how much I should get done a day. Thirdly, it’s because I want to focus on Reuben more than I want to do anything else.

So what’s the solution? I need to take better care of myself to increase all the happy hormones, stop putting so much pressure on myself and also, I think some kind of weekly rota or clearer time management would seriously help!

So that’s what I’m going to do – starting tomorrow, of course. Tonight, I need to sleep! Tomorrow is another day…

Thank you for reading,

With love, Rebecca ♡