The Swing

Feet off the ground;

Trying to snap it

I reach for my phone to record.

But you forget

Hands off the chains

The soar of fear, I shout

But you sit, still there

Feet on, feet off.

The momentous occasion

There are things that take longer for you

And I am proud,

Overinterested

Used to the gut rise

And reaching out to help.

A hummingbird buzz around you.

But this is just another play in the park,

Just a casual afternoon on the swing.

Battle on

When all else fails, battle on. A bad day? A bad month? Or all merged into a steaming heap that you cannot divide up into good or bad, just a pile that’s been dumped right on top of you. Then you battle on.

The battle pales into insignificance to other wars being fought elsewhere, I know that, but still, here in my life, this is a fight. A fight for my son and his needs to be heard. A fight too for keeping my head above water, juggling my responsibilities with the extra workload of paperwork. And of course it’s not just the actual paperwork but the emotional load of it all.

I learnt back in November when we were going through the EHCP draft stage that the emotional toll took a lot out of me. The process should be over by now but they have not listened so we are waiting to mediate. Up and down the country families are going through this stage or taking the Local Authority to court. And why? There is not enough money nor enough places to meet the needs of our children. There’s a full on #SENDcrisis. Meanwhile newspapers are reporting that schools are taking “your” children’s funding to plug the gap. This discriminatory writing where we are set up them vs. us is so toxic and the fight feels so much bigger than just our family.

All of this does not make a great creative space. Knowing how tough the end of last year was, I have been more prepared to take it easy on myself. Instead I have been escaping to baths and books. And some read some amazing writing this month.

The Confessions of Frannie Langton is such a brilliant novel. Recounting the tale of the end of slavery and the pseudo-science of eugenics, the full horrors that Frannie experiences unravel through the tale she tells. We learn how she ends up in prison, her life in the hands of a system always going to beat her down. It is a compelling novel and I loved that we really get to hear her voice.

Inspired by the prison setting, I started Alias Grace this weekend. Another fascinating novel that reads too as a murder mystery.  So far I am loving it. Shame my son just took my bookmark out!

Obviously there are many ways in we can distract ourselves from our real life problems. But for me, a book will always be the best place to escape.

How NOT to quit your job

I have visions of laying out my corrections in a line across the living room floor. My living room is relatively clear for the moment. Like lots of my friends I have been caught up with the Marie Kondo bug and have been watching cleaning videos for fun. In a vague hope of finishing January as if I set resolutions, for a short while I have this expanse of floor free.

I am sitting with my pile of papers with corrections my classmates gave me in writing class. But then, looking up, see the craft cupboard door is open. Ignore it. It’s a crazy mess and the papers balanced on top of the box which barely contains the craft stuff. Those papers are all very important. Doesn’t only keeping their best work encourage children to improve? Must try that. Anyway the important artwork is spilling everywhere. And he’ll make more later so the table is strewn with papers too. So I am just looking at my clear floor. Focus on there. Time to get some work done.

And then…Desperate calls from work…I’m late for a shift I didn’t know I had. And I really don’t want to go. It’s Monday, a new week and I had so many writing plans. Great start to my new writing year! So before I know it I am sitting on the bus willing myself not to get off. I really want to go back home.

Instead I write a list- how NOT to quit your job

1. Remember you need money. It may not be much money, fitting in part time work in retail around school hours, writing and running the household isn’t that well paid, surprisingly enough. But you do like the money if nothing else for all the books that Marie Kondo is not getting you to throw out.

2. You like people. Sometimes. Being mainly at home and in most evenings you don’t see people at all. Well one six year old, mostly and occasionally your husband. When you force yourself out to talk to people, you remember that you enjoy talking to adults.

3. You like those particular people. Working with people is fun when they are good people and we have a good team and don’t most people go to work because they like the company (I mean you probably have to work, but you’d change job if you didn’t like who you work with).

4. You don’t like people. And that’s good too. Use that. Those are the people that spark ideas. Even if people are angry-which happens way too frequently in a public-facing role,- sometimes you can reason why after. Mostly though you talk to people, hear their life story and then they walk off without buying the clothes you said look good. Constant character analysis right there.

5. January is quiet in retail so you can probably stand around and daydream about your characters. Or let a question about plot mull around.

6. You can read your book on the bus and not feel guilty about sitting down. At home, you’ve got that craft cupboard to clean out and can’t justify sitting down for long.

Crisis averted, I go off to work for another day and manage not to quit my job.