Pay it forward

Every now and again I stumble across a post on social media or a blog and I find myself relentlessly scratching an itch which may well lead to being blocked or worse, the ending of a friendship. Hopefully, this evenings’ itch won’t have gone so far but it has left me wanting to try and release the valve without hurting any feelings so here I am again, writing on my very dusty blog, trying to sort out the different threads of thought that are weaving loosely around the jelly of my once firm memory bank. Ho hum.

I love teachers and teaching assistants, playgroup volunteers and nursery staff, scouting and guiding and cadet leaders; all of those adults who are still so passionate about preparing the next generation for adulthood that they give up *extra* time and energy on top of their working hours to mark out a path of safety, strength, education and futures. I adore them all. With the restrictions and paperwork now in place it is often a thankless and penniless vocation.

Do you know what else is taken for advantage? The modern parent. Often, all of those people who take care of our children in ways almost unmeasurable, are also parents. They are people who lose time with their own children because they know how much they have already benefited from their passions. For example. I have spent all of my “spare” time this past month trying to get a Stay and Play group up an running. Unfortunately, because of my Fibro and my new meds still trying to settle, my spare time has often been squeezed into family time. Whilst my kids enjoyed a movie put on in the local community, I sat in a side room typing up safeguarding policy. Of course, knowing my own children and husband, Mr Bear sat watching the movie (and multitasking with a game on his mobile) whilst the majority of our Cubs did not. A lot of hummous and PomBear crisps were consumed. I like to mix the good with the bad. There was also birthday cake and pots of yummy olives. See? Ying Yang all the way.

This dichotomy is probably seen more often in my day to day life. I do not have enough hours or enough energy to do more than try to keep the balance as much as I can. I fail miserably far too often. I lose it and shout at my smalls. I have to nap leaving my bigs to be young carers. I forget to collect my meds to the point that I count out the pills to ensure I have enough to last me the next 24/48 hours. I say “maybe” far more often than I am happy with because I just don’t know if I will be up to taking them all to the park after school. I am constantly on technology too and this has reached breaking point this last month.

I use modern tech for as much as possible. To remember my meds, I have an app on phone that rattles away in the same way I imagine my insides to do. I make use of the Google calendar. I have a personal list, a family list, a husband list, a school list (or three) and all of the public holidays to point out how terrible I am that I didn’t remember to send Mothers/Fathers Day cards etc. I also play memory games because if I don’t use it, I may just lose it! I catch up on my friends and loved ones that I don’t see daily via social media accounts. I stumble over delicious vegan recipes to keep my Big Boy happy and exquisite brownie recipes to please us both. I get my daily news on the web. Seriously, I do. I also listen to the local talk radio that helps but I definitely don’t buy newspapers anymore. My diary often rambles into my blog these days and any letter I may have once handwritten is now neatly typed and emailed to those people who need to read my nonsense. I also find communicating with the secondary school teachers extremely convenient (hopefully for us both) and I prefer to have a “good old fashioned” paper trail (or internet bits…)

I organise our entire life via my mobile and laptop. Sometimes, I even find myself tapping away or catching up with Person X, Doctor Y, or Teacher Z at the school gates.

I know for some, this gets a few points knocked off my mummy scorecard. I’ve stopped caring, to be fair. Occasionally, 3:15 is the only time for these things to happen. To some it will look like I am not paying close enough attention to my 5 year old who has exited her classroom full of the joys of Year One and, maybe, they will see me again at 3:25, two more children in tow, still desperately getting stuff done on my phone. I’m sorry if you think that makes me a lesser mother. Actually, scrub that, I’m not sorry.

You aren’t walking in my shoes. You aren’t taking my meds. You aren’t making sure my kids are fed each and every day and you are most definitely not parenting my children.

You never knew that day when I was on the phone to my husband that our benefits were cut.

You were never told when I was speaking to CAHMs about the mental wellbeing of my older child.

You didn’t see the fridge the day I was on the phone to the Supermarket pleading with them to please try my card again so my children’s dinner would still be delivered.

You weren’t aware that my friend’s baby arrived safe and well that very day after a terrifying pregnancy.

You wouldn’t have noticed me wince as I turned my head away so my children didn’t see as my back spasmed at just the wrong moment.

You couldn’t tell that day when I had just found out the devastating news that my friend had terminal cancer.

Sometimes, it might not have been quite so life changing but you didn’t know it wasn’t when you judged me, either.

I ask my children every afternoon how well their day has been, what new fact did they learn, what did they most enjoy, what did they wish they could change. Every night, I kiss them and wish them sweet dreams. Some days, these things will happen from my bed which I haven’t been able to leave, I wonder if I still get judged as a stay at home parent when I don’t collect my own children. What do you assume I am up to when I don’t even turn up to collect them? Or, worse still, the days I can’t leave the car to walk them in.

If I had known seven years ago just how much our lives would change, I might have done things differently. Woulda, coulda, shoulda and all that.

When I see you, I wonder how you fit in the time to complete your makeup, and I am in awe of your organisational skills.

When I see you talking on your phone again at 3:15pm, I wonder if I should offer to help you with the pick up so you have an extra few minutes to talk in uninterrupted sentences.

When I see you push to the front of the queue, I wonder what you have cooking for dinner that means you’re in such a rush to get home today.

I look at our children and I am thankful that they are here, happy, healthy, educated, fed and loved. I don’t want to question your choices because I don’t want the reasons to be anything like my own. I don’t wish my medical restrictions on anyone. Nor do I want to imagine that a loved one is in pain, although please feel free to spread the joy of a new baby!

The world is so full of judgment already. We are constantly split into groups, measured by the colour of our skin or the jobs that we hold, divided by the haves and the have nots, forced into political camps that label as Lefty Liberals, Far Right Racists, Crunchy Greenies, even Recycling Rebels (but at least that’s better than the Breastapo or Feminazi. Urgh.)

Be kinder to eachother, please. Life can be so cruel all on it’s own that the idea of us biting and clawing at eachother chills me to my core. Spread the love not the fear, smile if you can, and remember that even rainstorms can bring rainbows.

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