Sunday, 15 December 2019

Refilling the empty cup

A one year old sat on the dining table shovelling fistfuls of cake into her mouth and searching for any leftovers on other plates. Unconventional I grant you, but in the context of visiting my parents in grandparent mode it is perfectly normal. Yesterday Blue Bear turned into a 6 year old. I had planned to visit my family so the boys could spend the day with their cousins and have a mini party for Blue. However he was not himself at all and was unwell most of the day. He barely ate anything and was tired and pale. I asked if he still wanted to go and he said he did, so off we went with a tired and sleepy Blue Bear and Brown Bear negotiating screen time with his distracted mother.

When it came to party time I hadn't had time to get the dinosaur cake that Blue had requested and he was disappointed. However, nothing is impossible in my family and within minutes we had the best dinosaur cake you have ever seen. It was a team effort and he was absolutely delighted with it. In Nani's house dreams do come true. What can I tell you - my parents love being surrounded by kids and noise and the mess that entails doesn't phase them. Yesterday as I looked around I saw my niece happily seated on the table and my boy with his mini Jurassic Park. The expression on my Mum's face with all her kids and grandkids there was pure joy and I felt so incredibly lucky.

a birthday cake covered in toy dinosaurs
Jurassic Cake 

We've spent a lot more time with my family in the last year as our home life has changed. It gives me a chance to get a little break as the boys play with cousins and get fed and spoiled. Yesterday I wasn't allowed to leave my boy's side as he was feeling so poorly, but I still got to eat something delicious and  rest for a little while. Both things that have been difficult to achieve since I've been parenting alone. In the last few weeks I had a complete shutdown as my body finally gave in to the stress and exhaustion that has been piling on for months now. Well, probably the last two years if I'm being accurate. It's been a relentless conveyor belt on which as well as the traditional cuddly toy there has been a grief, loss, stress and worry. It's hardly surprising that at some point it would be overwhelming. 

Earlier this week I met a friend who I haven't seen in a while. She lives in New York, is in London at the moment and kindly made time to see me for a catch up. She listened patiently as I explained what has been happening and how events unfolded earlier this year. As I got tearful she reached across and held my hand. Even after all this time I can't talk about what's happened without crying. I apologised for talking too much, she said, "I'm sorry I wasn't here for you."  We talked about my boys and she recalled when I told her I was expecting Brown Bear. I was 37 weeks pregnant at her wedding. A few months ago her husband was in London. It was during the rugby World Cup and we met up in a pub in Twickenham then went for a curry and just had a sweary, quippy, fun evening together. It was the first time this year that I felt like my old self. I am so thankful to have them both in my life and that they care enough to make time for me and that when we meet it's like no time has passed 

A bouquet of flowers in Christmas colours - red and gold.
Christmas in flowers. 

I received a beautiful Christmas bouquet this week - absolutely gorgeous and unexpected. It's from a lovely friend who lives in Australia and when she was in the UK for two weeks earlier in the year she invited me and the boys over to her parents' home in Surrey. The boys pottered around the allotment and played cricket in the garden with her husband while I talked to her. She listened to me, hugged me and it was just wonderful to spend time with her while my kids laughed and played. At one point I looked over at my sons laughing wildly as one was held upside down by the ankle and the other one was being chased with a cricket bat round the garden. My friend knew that I needed her and made time for me and found a way to do it that ensured the boys would be busy and happy while we caught up. Both bears now want to visit them in Australia so I've got to save up for a while to make that happen. Having friends like this is such a blessing in my life and I am so grateful. 

Of course I have equally wonderful friends in this country too. My friend who will pop over to bring things down from the loft for me and who helped manage my boys' expectations when they decided they wanted to take 4 kittens home from Foal Farm in the summer. The friends who are there for me at all hours when I am having a terrible day or feeling fear or sadness that is overwhelming. The friend who was on the other end of the phone while the worst events of this year were unfolding. She has been a constant and firm reminder that whatever comes I have it in me to get through it. I have such amazing people in my life who reassure me that whatever happens I am not alone. They are the gifts in my life that I don't know what I did to deserve.

Woman standing in front of Christmas tree wearing a black dress and holding up a sequins mask to her face
Who is this mysterious woman ? 
I've only just started to do things just for me. Up until now everything was for the boys and that has been exhausting and at times thankless. Being out of action for a week showed me that the saying, "you can't pour from an empty cup" is true. If I don't take care of myself I can't take care of them. I've been feeding myself properly instead of thinking, "it's only me why bother ?" Going for a walk every day and swimming as often as I can. Taking care of my appearance. Treating myself to a spa, or a gig or a show just for me. Spending time with people I love and who love me.

A cake covered in dinosaurs is a good start. Followed by a night out thanks to my lovely babysitter who stayed with my poorly boy and her mum who dropped me off at the golf club so I would get to wear my  gorgeous frock, have a boogie and just have a few hours 'off.' It was just what I needed.

Today it's the birthday party for my 6 year old. The sun is out and he's feeling so much better today. Mum and sons recharged and ready to go.


No comments:

Post a comment