It's not being a misery to say I don't want to do Halloween. I just don't have any associations with it. I would much rather celebrate Diwali which is colourful, delicious and much more meaningful to me. As we will be away for Diwali this year I'm making sure I take some tea lights with me so that I can still celebrate the festival of lights and remind the boys of their Indian heritage. Wherever I have lived I've always done this. When I was in a shared house at Uni I recall my housemates loved the tea lights and Indian sweets and wanted to know how it meant. I went to the Sikh Temple in Coventry in my Indian clothes and phoned my Mum. It connected me to my family in a way that I needed when I felt as if I was all alone in a place full of people.
So today I took the boys to a temple in Derby. The extra hour helped ensure we were able to fit in a visit to the Sikh Heritage Centre that was also there. I was so proud when I watched my boys go up the holy book and bow their heads as I've shown them since they were babies. We say down to eat in the communal kitchen and they devoured the food that I never make at home. As we walked round the museum of artefacts showing the contributions Sikhs have made in wars all over the world and the atrocities visited upon Sikhs in history my boys asked questions and I told them, "when we go to India I will take you to the Golden Temple so you can see it for real." It means a lot to me that my sons are aware of their Indian roots and that they know about Sikh history and oppression.
It wasn't an easy day. All the firsts are painful. The first wedding anniversary since the break up was this week. I had no idea what to expect. I worked from home so I wouldn't have to interact with anyone and pretend to be ok. It was pretty rubbish actually. Not because I wanted to celebrate or because I miss being married, more the overwhelming grief and loss of a relationship that I wasn't expecting to end as abruptly as it did. At least I didn't have to deal with anyone in person who I didn't want to see that day.
I drove the kids on Friday night for many hours to get to our holiday destination for half term. It as a very long journey and it took hours, but they watched movies in the back of the car and we got here late on Friday night. When they woke up on Saturday morning it was tipping down with rain, but they still got to see the sheep in the field and a rabbit that scampered past the window. It was all I wanted for them this weekend. We stayed inside and watched movies while the rain lashed down outside. We made a den, ate snacks in bed and snuggled under blankets to watch Back to the future (part 2 - we''re working our way through the trilogy).
This morning Blue Bear climbed into bed with me in the early hours - bad dreams again. The extra hour in bed meant nothing as they both woke up at an unearthly hour demanding to watch TV. Still, I did manage to get a bit of a lie in and we did so much today I was genuinely surprised. We went to the temple, met up with lovely friends and made it back in time to watch Back to the Future Part 3. I have never actually watched it before so that was a first.
Everyone is telling me I can do this - that I am strong and capable. I'm not convinced actually. I often feel overwhelmed, sad, lonely, angry, bewildered and guilty, Oh so guilty, For not being a good enough mother, for not getting it right and for being a failure. Then today I looked at my boys laughing and playing in the park with the friends they see rarely. Blue Bear pushing the roundabout slowly because the little girl was scared if it went too fast. Brown Bear exclaiming his feet were too big for the playground toys he was on with his oldest friend.
Both boys hugged me tonight and wished me happy Diwali. It was a difficult day in many ways. It was also magical in so many others. I lit a few beautiful tealights this evening in celebration. The boys asked me why and I explained that is what we do to bring light to darkness.
No, I'm not ok. I don't know when I will be. What I do know, however, is that I have these incredible kids who love and accept me for who I am. However much of a failure I might consider myself to be.