• Emma

#10 A New Year

It’s been a while since my last blog post… November, in fact. Those of you who read that post will likely agree that it was quite an emotional, and somewhat revealing one. Unfortunately, since then I feel I’ve fallen back down into myself, into my “old ways”. I’m sure I could give many reasons as to why.

I had actually started writing a blog entry around Christmas time as I felt that it was something I should do; that I should try and share my experience with others to try and help them navigate that time of year too. But I found myself struggling to put the words down, or even in the right order. It felt like I was trying too hard to please people, to say the right thing, and if you know me at all you’ll know I’m not a “people-pleaser” by nature. This blog was always supposed to feel organic and natural, not structured, and definitely not fake. In the end I deleted the blog post and didn’t publish it. I put it all to the back of my mind - I had other things to deal with…

Firstly, Christmas. Yes, it was good, but yes it was also shit. I love Christmas, but losing a baby sort of takes the spark away even when you still have another child to enjoy the time with. Ruby is nearly 5 now and so Christmas is a huge deal. She gets it, she gets all of it, so of course I’ll indulge her and of course I love seeing Christmas through her eyes. But the sharp sting I feel in my heart when I think of what we should be doing, knowing there should be even more presents under the tree, presents for my little boy, utterly floors me to the point that I wish I could just cancel the whole thing and hibernate until spring!

Then, of course, if Christmas isn’t bad enough, along comes New Year. The time when everyone looks forward to the year ahead, to new adventures and challenges, a new you. For me though, it just means another year living without my son, another year of “what ifs”, and heart-stabbing moments when you miss him so much you think you might actually drop dead on the spot! This year, with all of the world’s covid restrictions, it was nice not to feel the pressure of going out for the occasion, or having people over to bring it in. Instead, we just played a few games with some friends on Zoom, saw in the new year with a glass of bubbles, then went off to bed, no biggy.

However, the next day felt like the rug had been completely ripped out from under me and I just cried and cried. I cried so much, and for so long, that I couldn’t really see. My husband had left for work early and I’d plonked Ruby in front of the telly. I then sat in our bedroom and cried. I’ll be honest, I don’t really know why, but in the same breath I totally do know why. I couldn’t stop the tears coming and this time I actually didn’t want to; it felt therapeutic to let them out, as though I’d been holding on to them for a long time. I had planned a walk with a friend but messaged to say that even though a walk usually does me the world of good, I was in no mood today and wouldn’t be the best company. In the end, I let my feelings take over and let myself wallow for the rest of the day. Ruby and I watched the classic New Year’s back-to-back movies on the telly (thank you New Years Day TV Listing Gods!), and when my husband got home I put on a brave face and carried on.

In the days that followed, I started to feel better and also started to get that usual new year feeling. I told myself that I wanted to be better, and to be kinder to myself. I promised myself that I would try and do one thing that was just for me every day of January. This started with a short yoga session every day, but as the days went on and the realisation of home-schooling dawned on me, my self-love fell to the wayside, as per usual. I felt I had more important things to dedicate my time to. The yoga became every other day, then every other-other day. Then it was once a week, until I found my yoga mat in the corner gathering dust by the start of February. I’m going to hold my hands up - I think I got it easy with the whole home-schooling thing. Ruby is only in reception; she’s not learning anything too difficult. I’m on furlough from work, so didn’t have to worry about having to try and work and teach her at the same time, as well as all the other household chores! I also had a fairly willing student as Ruby didn’t seem to mind ‘Mummy School’ too much, she was usually quite enthusiastic. In typical me fashion, I hit the ground running with lots of fun ideas for her. I wasn’t just going to do the work set for her, I was going to go above and beyond. Knowing we’d be together 24/7, I wanted Ruby to have a good experience of home-schooling, to make the whole experience fun and memorable, and for it not to be boring for her. I was also mindful that I didn’t want to end the experience having damaged our relationship because of the intensity of that time, I wanted to come out of it with a stronger bond.

With the help of Instagram wonders like ‘Five Minute Mum’, who was throwing ideas around like wildfire, I thought I’d be fine. But again, in typical me fashion, I crashed and burned. I ended up pushing myself too hard and ran out of energy and oomph. As a result, my mental health started to worsen too. I found myself wishing my life to be harder. I thought to myself gosh, this would have been so much harder if I’d have had Ellis to look after as well as Ruby. After saying that, I then found myself almost feeling glad that he had died as it meant this part of my life was somehow easier. Of course, this then came with a tidal wave of guilt for thinking these things. Of course I was not glad he died, but what kind of heartless cow was I turning into? The daily dog walks had become a chore, especially in the freezing cold. Ruby didn’t want to come so I’d have to bribe her with snacks, or the promise of a film when we got home. I then found myself resenting the dog and wishing we’d never got her, which of course we wouldn’t have, had Ellis lived. I lost interest in home-schooling and did the bare minimum, Ruby’s behaviour became unbearable, and I didn’t have the energy to rectify it. I was sinking again, and this time I didn’t know when, or if, my lifeboat was going to come and save me.

As I sit here now typing this, I can now officially say that ‘Mummy School’ has closed and that I feel a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Come tomorrow, Monday 8th March, with the routine of school drop offs and pick-ups returning, I feel like I'll have some sort of "normal" back again, some sort of rhythm to my week, to my life. I feel that I can start to regain some sort of self-worth again, “indulge” in that self-care that I know I so desperately need and crave, without feeling guilty.

With Spring in touching distance, I do feel a small sense of hope. I know I’ll never properly look forwards in life again, as a part of me will always be with stuck in time with Ellis, but I do feel somehow brighter, maybe even stronger. 2021 does have a few plans in the pipeline and I’m hoping they all get to happen in one way or another. In truth, I don’t know what 2021 has in store for me or my family but I know that I’m ready and willing to face it head on. Hopefully, whilst embracing my family and friends in a much needed and long-overdue hug!

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