Oof using 2 really “heavy” sounding words to title a blog post… what is she thinking I hear you cry??? It’s all been so light-hearted and frothy to this point. Quick, hit the unfollow button asap. Well before you do that, if I can implore you to read on, at least for a little bit longer, it might not be as bad as you think (she says optimistically….)
So back to the very adult sounding perspective and priority….hmmn well they are words that have changed in definition hugely for me over the years and I suspect for many of you as well. For example, my priority aged 17ish was to convince the barman I really was 18, to convince my parents that EVERYONE else was allowed to stay out till gone midnight, to work out how many hours of studying I needed to put in to get the grades I wanted for Uni and whether the boy I really fancied would show more interest if I wore leggings or jeans…..All pretty trivial stuff but at the time, the epicentre of my world.
However, my world shifted fairly dramatically on its axis around the same age when I was diagnosed with what was then known as ME or “yuppy flu.” It’s now more commonly called Chronic Fatigue but at the time when very little was really known about it and many in the medical industry were skeptical of its existence, I thought I was cracking up.
I was so overwhelmingly tired all the time. Not the teenage can’t get out of bed till noon tired. The type of tired that feels like you are wading through treacle. The type of tired which has you wondering whether you really need the loo or can wait a bit longer because your energy levels just aren’t there to get off the bed/sofa and make it to the bathroom. The tired that finds you declining going out with your friends and being a typical teenager because you just want to crumple in a ball on the floor and sleep. Even having a conversation with someone was too much effort. The heavy, aching painful limbs, headaches and generally feeling so different, depressed even, compared to my peers (I think to be honest I had more in common with the blue rinse brigade at that point) were so hard to handle.
I went to uni after doing my A-levels over 3 years instead of 2. I tried to keep up with having a life and doing my studies but the course alone was very demanding. I was totally useless at the whole student thing. Light weight didn’t touch it, more like feather weight. I wanted to go out and be all studenty (a new verb perhaps?) but when a trip to the supermarket counts as the high point in your day instead of living it large in the Student Union, you know you are failing pretty epically. I ended up leaving in my second year and going back to Jersey to recover.
I’m not going to dwell. It was a pretty low point in my life for a number of years and it will only descend into a boring, pity party which will have me singing into a hairbrush Bridget Jones style and prompting the neighbours to call emergency services. However, I strongly believe that period of my life gave me some perspective to call upon in these later years.
As those of you who are personal friends of mine will know, the last few years have been utterly crappy (sorry my Dad might be reading this so I’m keeping the language reasonably clean!!) It’s fair to say that we have been dealt a fair hand of sh*%e. I know we are not the only ones. In fact I know there are many who when all is said and done, have been through far, far worse but it has been relentless, on going and at many moments, I totally lost my head.
I’m going to skim the surface briefly but from a complicated pregnancy, to finding out there was something medically and physically wrong with the Minx, numerous hospital appointments, tests, never-ending physiotherapy, more tests, chest infections, feeding issues, operations, yet more tests, food allergies, redundancies and eventually after many months of hell, (following years of banging on the appropriate medical doors!) an aspergers diagnosis for one of my other children. Then hubby having to take work abroad to pay the bills and keep us afloat, leaving me to juggle 4 kids and all that ensues – well lets just say keeping perspective and re-prioritising has been a juggling act that Cirque Du Soleil would have been impressed with – but don’t worry, I won’t be donning my spangly leotard just yet. You can all breathe a sigh of relief on that front.
I have learned that it doesn’t actually matter whether I have hoovered the house, ironed the tea-towels and got mascara on. It makes no difference to the overall well-being of my family if the kids have a t-shirt with a mark on it, (terrible mother!) non matching socks and the skirtings haven’t been cleaned – dang my mother for drumming that into me as a kid – but in the words of one of our favourite Frozen songs I can “Let It Go”
If they are all fed, reasonably clean and have most of the school uniform on of a morning, I’m a happy woman. If they are still speaking to each other and me by the end of the school day, I’m dancing for joy. If dinner is eaten in some form by the majority and I have snuck in vegetables they know nothing about; if I have managed by the evening to read a bedtime story to half the tribe and had (yeugh here comes a word I hate) “quality” time with the older 2, then I’m doing ok. I am not going to beat myself up because frankly, who needs to sweat the small stuff? There will be many years ahead when I can ponder the dusty skirting boards and wrinkly tea-towels once the kids have left home. Hell, I may even get round to sorting them out by then. But in the meantime, I’m going to remember that the world won’t stop spinning if they miss a bath, don’t eat green beans or have a bit too long on the X-box/TV/gadget of their choice. It will be OK – none of us will be emotionally scarred and need years of therapy to get over it. But probably most importantly, we have survived some tough time and if we can do it once, we can do it again.
So my new mantra, when things have gone a bit “pete tong” when the world doesn’t seem quite so smiley and in our favour are perspective and priority – this too shall pass. We will re-group, keep fighting and bounce back so watch out everyone because #teambeaton# intend to kick some backside!