Category Archives: Rambling and Opinion

Depression

Sometimes it sneaks up and you don’t realise that the long-term ‘head cold’ you seemed to have probably wasn’t that after all. I did have a cold for a bit too, which confused everything.

So I’m in depression mode. Have seen GP. Need to phone Talking Space (e-mailed saying I don’t like phones, really nice reply but I still need to phone initially) so obviously I’m avoiding that, which won’t help.

Another side-effect is not feeling able to thank people for nice comments. I guess because I feel I don’t deserve them. But it’s so rude not to. But I feel a bit sick thinking about trying to. So I stare into space. That’s not very helpful either.

I decided not to change my anti-depressants just yet. They may not be working to keep everything completely at bay but I’m too scared to go to the place I go to when I’m not on them, and GP said I have to wean off these to try another. With Christmas so close, I’ll stick with what I’ve got for now.

Self awareness helps. I am trying very hard to talk myself into doing something other than staring into space. I’ve not got there yet, but it’s getting close. Something creative will help.

Duvet Day

This morning went something like this: my alarm goes off at 7am, I ignore it, I stare at my phone for a bit to try to get my brain going, the children crawl into bed and fidget, I realise it’s 8am and we have 30 minutes to get ready but I don’t care.

I don’t care most mornings. I don’t want to drag myself out of bed, into the cold, after repeatedly reminding two children to do the same things they’re supposed to do every single morning but apparently forget.

Wash face. Brush teeth. Socks on. Shoes on. Coat on. Jumper on first. Did you brush your hair? Where did you leave your shoes then?

This morning, Mr Chaos was quite ill. And I felt like crud as usual. And MG (7) looked pale, was coughing, and didn’t seem well at all. Then DG (5) shouted “I’m poorly!” repeatedly and refused to get dressed because MG seemed ill.

I managed to convince them both to get dressed, but MG looked even worse and just curled up under a blanket with toast and milk. And neither of them ate their advent calendar chocolate. And DG still shouted “I’m poorly!” and there was no way I could carry her all the way to school with the way I was feeling, and she is so stubborn that she regularly just stops walking and refuses to go anywhere.

So I told the school we were all ill.

Then by 11.30am, both children were bouncing around the house and DG was shouting “please can I go to school?!” having realised that a day at home with two sick parents was really, really boring.

I’d slept most of the morning. Mr Chaos spent most of it in the smallest room. MG and DG had been wonderful. They made craft flowers together, and played games, and watched TV, and were quiet and self contained for two hours, but that was their limit.

Fortunately the grandparents came to the rescue. They picked up our daughters, fed them lunch, dropped them at school in time for afternoon registration, picked them up, fed them tea, and took them to DG’s nativity play in the evening (which I’d seen yesterday but Mr Chaos is gutted to have missed), dropping them home just in time for bed.

I slept until about 2.30pm, did some laundry, the dishwasher, put the online grocery shop away, put the recycling out, and basically felt a whole lot better for not having to do the school runs, and having extra child-free hours. Mr Chaos managed a bit of soup this evening, but is back in bed now.

As I read DG her bedtime stories she said, “Can we go back to school tomorrow?”

I think we can chalk that one up to huge parenting fail number several million and something. Tomorrow is another day.

P.S. I recommend everyone to read Merry’s post today. Her description of ‘improper depression’ is spot on.

What To-Do 2014

It’s countdown to the end of 2014. Possibly most people are counting down to Christmas but bah humbug and all that jazz, I’m going for the arbitrary number change to reset my priorities (again).

There are 24 days left, ten of which will include at least a few child-free hours. Four include after 6pm school stuff; two include work; at least two or three will be entirely eaten up with family/friends visits etc (that’s probably way underestimated, maybe make that five); six days are weekends… I’m not sure what I’m working out here so I’ll move on.

I’ve given up on all decluttering plans for the year, they can start again in January. I’ve given up on launching NewBlogTM this year, entirely my fault as I’ve not put anything into creating content for it while my brain works out what I want to do with it. I think I know what formats I’m going to use, but need to look into setting up subscription mailing list thingies and rethink the categories a bit.

So what do I want to achieve? I would like to manage a post a day for December, which may fall apart as soon as school finishes, but I can try. Specific blog posts I want to complete:

1. Gift recommendations ASAP (following on from this post)

1b. #IndieAdvent for YAYeahYeah

2. NetGalley and other recent reads reviews (at least: Archie Green and the Magician’s Secret; A Song for Ella Grey; The Astounding Broccoli Boy)

3. Favourite books 2014

Bookish-wise I want to:

4. Finish reading at least The Magic of Reality and Alphabetical; possibly The Etymologicon (also The Dreamsnatcher, but that’s not a challenge!)

5. Collect the 2015 books together for getting stuck into in January

6. Complete updating book spreadsheet and Goodreads

7. Tidy up bedside and create TBR pile to scare self (might leave to 2015)

Household-wise, I want to:

8. Put the clean clothes away, and repeat…

9. Get the 4-5/5-6 clothes out for 5.5yr old (she’s still in 3-4 size)

10. Keep floor as decluttered as possible, things back in correct boxes as much as possible, avoid clutter magnet areas as much as possible…

11. Keep on top of dishes and grocery shopping

For Christmas:

12. Write list of presents already bought, complete any gaps

13. Sort out grandparent gifts (school photos, tea-towel etc)

14. Finish making wrapping paper and tags; wrap all presents

15. Post presents to children not seeing over hols

It’s an eclectic list, and of course is missing out lots of other things that just get done, plus e-mails I need to write, and a GP appointment I need to prepare for, but it will do for now.

Oh, and comments, must reply to comments in a timely manner too…

No Good With Change

I started writing a post for today just before school pick-up time. Having felt cold-y all day, I’d not achieved anything but I was starting to feel better and luckily for me, both children had after school playdates on the same day.

However, I still walked to school for pick-up time, to collect all the book bags and packed lunch bags and related paraphernalia, and because Mighty Girl (7) can be anxious and the person collecting wasn’t who she was expecting.

I thought it was the right thing to do to allay her fears.

I was wrong.

Seeing me, she clung to me and burst into tears and said she didn’t want to go.

She’s known her friend since she was 5 months old. They were at nursery together for four years. They’ve been at school together for over two years. She’s been to their house several times (admittedly with me there too) and the person collecting was someone from nursery who she also has known for most of her life.

But.

But she doesn’t get to go to their house often. But she’s not been to after school club at her old nursery for over two years and had forgotten the people there. But she was worried about people she didn’t know being in their house. But she was worried because she said she’d bring a game to play and she’d forgotten. But she wasn’t ready today.

Danger Girl (5) happily skipped off for her playdate without a backward glance or a wave goodbye, as I dropped all the bags in the mud of the car park to clutch Mighty Girl to me so she didn’t run off.

Short of forcibly dragging her into their car and letting her go screaming, there wasn’t any choice. She didn’t go.

She missed a playdate with a lovely family that we’ve known for over seven years but just don’t see enough of. She missed an afternoon with friends she doesn’t see enough of. She missed out.

Because I was there.

If I hadn’t got to school today, she would have had no choice and would have gone. And she would have been nervous but the nerves would have faded. And she would have had a wonderful time.

But I was there.

So she came home with me. And she cried. And I cried, for being a useless parent, and because I couldn’t hold it back. And she apologised for my crying being her fault, and I told her it wasn’t, and it wasn’t.

But the unexpected change threw me. I’d planned to finish the blog post, and hang up the laundry, and get the packed lunches ready for the next day, and have just those extra two hours of silence.

And I tried but I just felt miserable. I felt that everything had gone wrong because I didn’t get to do what I planned. I felt like shouting at my child just for her existence. I wanted to scream, and cry, and slash my arms with a sharp knife.

How pathetically melodramatic.

How pathetic.

So I stared into space, and cried, and reassured my daughter it wasn’t her fault. Of course it’s not her fault. And I booked a GP appointment online.

And she played quietly at my feet. And we coloured in pictures together. And it wasn’t perfect, and I did push her away more than I wanted to.

All because of a tiny change, and I’m not good with change.

Advent 2014

It’s the first day of December. Unperturbed by completely failing to blog every day last month, and on every previous occasion I’ve tried to blog every day, I thought I’d try to blog every day for advent.

There’s 105 minutes left of the first day of December and I’m just getting round to writing something. It’s not even going to be a vaguely interesting something. I can’t see that this blogging every day is going to actually work but I will keep trying nonetheless.

Oh look, now there’s 40 minutes left. I got sidetracked by Honest Trailers.

Um. So, here’s a post. I’ll put some books or something in it later. Maybe.

Seven Reasons Why I’ll Never Be A Number One Blogger

With both my children in full time schooling, I really need to think about getting more paid work. I’m happy with my two hours at school, but extra income would come in very handy. The thought of returning to work terrifies me, and I’m not sure that I’m well enough to cope with working in an office at the moment.

Like many other bloggers, I’d like to make some income from blogging so I went to the money making sessions at Blogfest 2014. Putting aside that I don’t put enough time into this blog, don’t spend enough time commenting, don’t join in linkies, don’t push myself on social media, don’t reply to PR requests that don’t interest me, and have periods of intense anxiety where I set most of my posts to private…

Ignoring all that, here’s why I’ll never be a number one blogger:

1. I don’t want to use titles like “You’ll never guess what my daughter thought of this product!” or “Four hundred and eighty one ways to decorate your pets for Christmas!” so obviously my viewing stats will never grow.

2. I’m rubbish at adding pictures to posts, and even when I do my own photos are rubbish so obviously my viewing stats will never grow.

3. I can’t make my brain think like other people think so obviously… Okay I’ll stop now.

4. I don’t want to write content to suit other people. At Blogfest it was mentioned several times that fashion and beauty have huge followings. But if everyone writes about fashion and beauty, where are the blogs for the rest of us who have no interest in fashion or beauty?

5. And on that note, gift lists for people-who-have-nothing-in-common-with-each-other-except-age-or-gender really annoy me. I’ve been seeing “gift lists for mums” and nothing on there suits me, or my mum. Your perfume, jewellery, and cook books are not of interest to my 73 year old mother whose favourite hobby is reading Regency romances or serial killer thrillers.

6. Someone could really tap into an undiscovered market if they wrote about a sympathetic serial killer set in Regency England with a side order of romance. Just saying.

7. Getting side-tracked. Keeping a single post on one topic is so hard when your brain goes in so many directions at once, let alone having a niche for an entire blog. The only way I’d be a number one blogger is if I made a blog so niche that I was the only person in the category (“…and the prize for blogs called Child-Led Chaos is…”)

8. My titles don’t always describe the post content in a sensible way.

So I’m never going to be number one. I guess I need to find a job then. Any ideas?

I was inspired to reframe this post as a numbered list after reading Tales from the Motherland’s 9 Reasons Numbered Lists Bug the Sh!t Out of Me.

What is feminine?

What is feminine? When I think of the word, certain things spring to mind. The phrase feminine wiles; make-up; shoes and bags; pink; lacy; glitter; high heels and smiles; fancy clothes; wine (never beer); dresses and skirts; demure and gentle; not obese.

Why do I think these things? The word ‘feminine’ has been used in certain contexts my whole life, making my mental definition of the word a collection of specific constructs. I am not alone, feminine is seen as a specific way of being.

But what is feminine really? Let’s go back to the dictionary definition:

fem·i·nine  adj.  1. Of or relating to women or girls. 2. Characterized by or possessing qualities generally attributed to a woman. 3. Effeminate; womanish. 4. Grammar Designating or belonging to the gender of words or grammatical forms that refer chiefly to females or to things classified as female.

The second definition of feminine seems to be what popular culture looks at: “Characterized by or possessing qualities generally attributed to a woman.” But why are certain things attributed only to women? And do they necessarily have to be attributed to all women?

I’m more interested in the first definition of feminine: “Of or relating to women or girls.” That’s it. It’s that simple. Feminine is “Of or relating to women or girls”. I and all my interests are feminine. My daughters are feminine. Every female and all their interests are feminine.

Why is this important? Relating as female and not seeing yourself as feminine can be a cause of low self esteem and depression. Discovering your own gender identity and sexuality can be hard enough, without being waylaid by unnecessary doubts. A boy who likes dolls is no more likely to be gay than a boy who likes cars is likely to be straight. Interests don’t define sexuality. Interests don’t define gender.

I was inspired to write this after reading this article in The Guardian with the subtitle “The rationale behind hating all things pink is that there’s something wrong with being a girl.” I have problems with that statement, but it all boils down to definitions of feminine and girly; of masculine and boyish.

Last week my daughters had a non-uniform day at school. Mighty-Girl (7 & 3/4) only feels comfortable wearing leggings and long sleeve tops. She wore her favourite Doctor Who top. As we arrived at school she became so anxious that people would make comments about her top that she was at the brink of hyperventilating. Danger Girl (5 & 1/2) loves super heroes and adored the Batman underwear I found for her. On the first day she wore them to school, they had gym and her friends pointed out she was wearing boy pants. She hasn’t wanted to wear them since.

My daughters interests vary, and many of their interests may be ‘traditionally girly‘, but all I can see is a world that pushes them into only liking ‘traditionally girly’ because any deviation leads to potential ridicule and bullying, to being outcast from their female peers and defined as tomboys.

Cynthia at Musings of an Aspie blog writes so much that makes sense to me. Her latest post on Autism and Gender again had me nodding along. I grew up thinking I ought to have been born a boy. Having no interest in ‘female interests‘. Preferring comfortable clothes and science fiction novels to dressy clothes and glossy magazines. Worrying that maybe I had excess testosterone and would never be able to have children.

I am not male, or masculine. My interests are feminine because I am female. I personally would have been saved from a lot of misery and self loathing if I’d realised that earlier than I did.

Feminine is “Of or relating to women or girls”.

It’s not pink.

It’s not clothes.

It’s not interests.

It’s not thoughts.

It’s not beliefs.

It’s daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts.

It’s fifty percent of the planet.

It’s anything.

This blog is, of course, my opinion and I welcome discussion. What do you define feminine as? What would you like feminine defined as? Thank-you for reading.

Blogfest 2014 Thoughts

I’ve written the me-centric feelings of going to Blogfest, so this post if going to focus on what the day was like (in my opinion!)

Going last minute meant that the structure of the programme was essential for me and I did base my day around going to each session / option on offer. As someone who finds social events a struggle, the low-key guidance was enough. Although either I didn’t hear or there wasn’t announcements for all session starts, which I would have found helpful.

The first session was a keynote panel titled Always On: How does technology shape the way we think? I don’t really take a lot of notice of titles, as panels and discussions often meander. I found the people in the panel interesting and amusing, even if they didn’t really have a clue about the subject. They made some good points, especially that our children do not have a “before internet” experience. I recommend reading Jax’s review of the panel at Making It Up including her excellent tweet notes.

The second session was a choice between How to find your funny, Google masterclass, and money making masterclass. I chose How to make Money, but I was also tempted with the Google one, which I might have got more out of. I now know how to monetise my blog if I’m the number one blogger, or a company in the US. That’s not an entirely fair representation, but the most useful part of the session was Tara Cain’s advice on how to build an audience and what to charge. Everything from that part of the session is in her post, which I think is an essential read if blogging is a serious part of your life – even if you’re not interested in sponsorship or brands.

Following the second session were Think Bombs – three five minute chunks of inspiration. Luckily they are available to watch on YouTube, although sadly Francesca Martinez is cut short. My favourite quote from Francesca was “Accepting yourself is an act of civil disobedience“.

A ninety minute lunch break gave plenty of opportunity for milling around the brand stalls if you wanted, or to chat. The time flew past and I’m not sure who I spoke to where or when to be honest. Having this time without sessions was lovely, but some quiet areas would have been much appreciated.

The third session was a choice between beauty, campaigning or advanced social media. I chose advanced social media because I don’t see myself as a campaigner (and have no interest in beauty) but perhaps I should have learnt more about how to change the world online. The social media session started late due to traffic and Paul Armstrong speeded his way through the presentation, referring to “as I said last year” a lot. He’s obviously on the forefront of technology but I think I needed “a few years ago” lessons rather than what may or may not be happening in the future. It was interesting though, and the slides are online.

The final choice session of the day was between between food blogging, youtube or round table discussions. Several of the round tables appealed, but as I hadn’t signed up to anything in advance I waited for spaces and chose the techie panel as I might be able to input as well as learn. Sadly having five tables in one room, packed with people talking and laughing, was absolutely no good for my hearing and I missed almost everything in the session due to background noise. Rachel, Jax, Alice and Sue were great with dispensing useful advice (from the bits I did hear!) and well worth following.

After another well needed break, it was time for the final panel of the day The Power of Writing. Perhaps I was too worn out at this stage or perhaps I’m just not a writer, but I wasn’t as inspired by this as most seemed to be. It was interesting (again) and I’m glad I was there but to be honest I can’t remember much of what was actually said!

The closing Keynote was hilarious, the drinks afterwards too noisy (but once I found my geeky corner, it improved immensely and I almost missed my train from staying too long…) and having now had gin for the first time, I think I quite like it.

Was it worth it? Absolutely. I want to go again now, and get more out of it now I know what to expect (but I got a lot out of it anyway, and I met friends I’d not met before, which was priceless.)

Was it worth £95? I do think you get more than your money’s worth just in terms of food, drink, entertainment and the goody bag. However, as someone not particularly interested in fashion, beauty, or cooking, the goody bag was mainly irrelevant to me. Personally I couldn’t justify the cost, so I hope there is an early bird discount for next year as I really do want to go back!

On Being At Blogfest

I’m still processing Saturday, and it’s going to take a few days to write anything coherent about the day but instead of cluttering up a retrospective of the day with my mess of a head, this is the me-me-me focused post of how I felt.

I have wanted to go to a blog conference for years, and I am so grateful to Jax for giving me the ticket she won, and to my family and friends for jumping in with last minute childcare so I could swan off to London for the day.

I was a mix of excited and terrified at the prospect. After accepting the ticket on Wednesday evening, I had a stress meltdown on Thursday morning which wasn’t very pretty. This was mainly because I was stressed about something on Thursday anyhow, but the added thought of a highly social day probably didn’t help.

On Friday night I only woke up once during the night, which is about normal for me, and my alarm did wake me at 6am on Saturday. Getting ready I was full of butterflies, but I’d sorted out what I needed the day before so I hoped I was ready and left to catch the train.

I can't believe I'm actually going to #Blogfest

My phone is a bit rubbish so I only vaguely tweeted on the way, wondering how many people were on the same train. But I didn’t see any at Paddington when I got there, and I had to buy my train ticket there so anyone else probably went on.

I’d looked at Google Street View the night before and memorised what the route to the venue would look like, and thought it was a long walk but actually it wasn’t far from King’s Cross and there was a queue of people so it was easy to find.

I stood in the queue feeling anxious about not knowing anyone or where to go, but I was guided to the down escalator. My stomach was completely churning as I went down and saw all the people milling and chatting. But I also saw the sign for toilets so immediately aimed for there to breathe slowly and calm myself.

Busy #Blogfest yesterday

After creeping out I realised there was a cloakroom so managed another social milestone by checking in my duffel coat. So I’d arrived, got my name badge, found the right place, knew where to get a drink and the toilet, and checked in my coat. Honestly, these are huge steps, so that really helped my confidence.

I was scanning the room to see if I could see anyone I recognised (or anywhere I could hide) and I spotted Jax. So I ignored all the butterflies, and hovered nearby until I managed to show my name badge and say hi. I then basically followed her around like a shadow for the rest of the day.

Okay, not quite. I tried hard not to, because I do have a habit of sticking with someone I know and I know I can be annoying because of that so I compensate. Maybe I overcompensate. Every time I spoke to someone I probably looked like I wasn’t interested or I wanted to escape and I’m really sorry if I did because I didn’t but I have no self esteem at all so I didn’t think anyone actually wanted to speak to me and was waiting for them to make their excuses and move on.

So I tried not to follow Jax around for the entire day like a weird stalker, but probably did. Lovely Monika took me under her wing for a while (thank-you, Monika, you are too kind as ever), and I also tried not to stalk Rachel who is awesomely interesting to talk with.

That’s my self esteem issues coming to the fore again. I can’t just talk to people I enjoy talking to without thinking that I’m actually annoying them and I should just leave. Except, I think it was okay. I think. And at the end of the day I somehow managed to end up in a group selfie with a bunch of people I admire hugely. That’s just mindboggling.

I probably should have put the t-shirt on.

I did have anxiety butterflies several times throughout the day. I almost cried just the once (not bad). I thought everyone hated me several times (not good). I hid in the toilet once or twice too to get some quiet. And I did sleep all day Sunday to recover (thank-you, husband).

I definitely want to do it again now I know what to expect.

Blogfest

I’m going to Blogfest tomorrow.

I’m actually going to my first blogging conference. I’ve bought tickets for two before (BritMums 2013 & 2014) but then sold them on because I couldn’t afford the accommodation, plus I put myself off the idea before I’d even got there.

But then fabulous, wonderful, all-round awesome Jax (Making It Up, @liveotherwise) gave me a ticket she won. Wow!

Having only known I was going since Wednesday night – which involved hurried babysitting arrangements; MG and DG will be passed between three people tomorrow (four if you count Mr Chaos!) – I haven’t had time to change my mind.

Well, not to change my mind more than a few million times. And minor hyperventilation. Panic panic PANIC!!

I don’t really know what to expect. I didn’t even realise lunch was included. And there’s a goody bag. And wow, I’m going to meet Jax. And Beth. And Rachael. And Jax! (I’m quite terrified excited about this) And… too many lovely lovely people.

I’ve printed my ticket. Sorted out the children for tomorrow (Mr Chaos is still in stressed-director mode). Sorted myself out for tomorrow (I hope.) Found out train times. Need to write them down. And print out a map for the venue. My technology isn’t reliable enough, so I need hard copies of everything annoyingly.

So… I’m going to a blogging conference.

Tomorrow.

Say hi if you see me. I’m short, round, probably dressed in black, and have a bright red Oliver and the Seawigs canvas bag. I’m also very introverted, completely anxious, slightly deaf, and don’t do eye contact very well…

Panic.

🙂