Rainy Grey Sunday
Slept much better no awake in the middle of the night to see the sun rise and fight my head and negative thoughts back to sleep..Saturday was a retreat. Saturday was a visit to see my mum. I slept better last night as I had had a good day. A quiet calm peaceful day alone with my parents. I cannot recall the last time that I spent such a long period of time with them both on my own without the children.
It was hard to get away from home. I was turning laundry on the radiator. Placating tantrums. Poor little Naoise had got it into his head that he wanted a new toy and the answer was no. He has so many toys and there are only so many bits of plastic one little boy needs. He kept crying I am bored of all my toys. I haven’t seen him play with any of his toys for a long time. School sucks so much life out of him and he would rather run with a stick in the willow scrub than tinker with toys at home.
There has been too much screen time too. The whole family gets sucked behind screens. It is sad. I see Patrick standing on the step outside having a smoke and staring at his smart phone. I remove iPads from Syd’s pillow as he has fallen asleep watching programmes. Naoise demands television as soon as he enters the house. I try and restrict the viewing but sometimes the digital babysitter is the only way that the tea gets cooked and the clothes get washed and the home ticks on. Me, I have been spending too much time writing this and reading articles and staring at Facebook. I stare at Facebook too much often out of loneliness and a need to feel heard and wanted. I need to restrict my time on social media.
The tantrum was horrid. Its heart breaking seeing your child distressed. He hates it when I ignore him, but its the only thing I have found that works. I have said No. No means No. During his tantrum I am hit, I have my hair pulled and he threatens to snap my little courgette plants that I have been carefully nurturing. I raise my voice once and only when he threatens to kill my plants. Tears are rolling down his face. He is angry and he cannot understand what to do with his anger. All this tantrum takes place in the yard outside. I live in a terrace house, all the neighbours know the ins and outs of my life. They know if my children misbehave or if I raise my voice they can see exactly what I do and say. Its all in the open. I do sometimes worry what they think, but they don’t know, they probably do judge, think me a terrible parent, but they don’t know.
Eventually after what seems like a very very long time Naoise does calm down. He has a cuddle with me. I wipe away the tears, hold him close, feel his heart beat. I say to him that I understand why he was angry, that its hard when we cannot get what we want, that it makes me feel angry and frustrated too when i cannot get what I want. There is empathy. I talk to him about how its perfectly normal and reasonable to feel angry and frustrated and upset but that it is not ok to hurt mummy to pull my hair to hit me to threaten to murder my plants. He listens intently. I apologise for shouting, he apologises for hurting me. It is over. We draw together on the table. We draw circles with a protractor and these become coal mines with little miners in them climbing ladders to get out of holes. He began drawing coal miners after watching Poldark with me!
I leave just after two to see mum and dad. Patrick takes Naoise on the tag a long bike to the swimming pool. Naoise loves to sit on the back of his dads bike. I am so glad to be driving out of the valley. Its good to get a change of perspective. Sitting in the car listening to music. Its the Vaccines singing live on Radio One. As I listen the music reminds me of Syd. If he were in the car now we would be enjoying the music together. There is little traffic on the road. The journey is easy. The M62 skirts around the outside of Manchester and then I join the East Lancs road on the fringes of Salford. The East Lancs road joins Manchester with Liverpool. I am heading towards Liverpool my parents live in-between each city just off of this road. The road is mostly made of concrete there are frequent stops at traffic lights and a cycle way runs all along it. The journey is so familiar.
I turn at the junction to my parents home and park the car at a little cul de sac a five minute stroll from their home. I left this house when I was 19, so thats 24 years ago now. There is a private hedge and fields on one side of the road and houses on the other. Houses with drives and cars sitting on them. One man is outside sweeping sand between the cracks in his driveway, in a zen type activity. Along the way I kick something beneath my feet, it is a dead hedgehog, completely decomposed and dried out, a brush of bristles. I reach their home, the lilac bush is out in full bloom and I stop to smell its before walking around the back of the house. I can hear that the sound of the chain saw, they are having the Sycamore tree cut down as it is rotten all the way through the middle.
I knock at the back door, no answer. I knock at the front, no answer. I guess that they cannot hear a thing due to the chain saw. I go back to the back door again, and meet mum who greets me with a hug and a smile. We drink coffee and chatter. I think its me mainly talking at her, and I think it is like that all day. I need her. I need a listener. Get it all off my chest. She is a good sounding board. The sun is so warm and bright in the sky it is a most perfect May day. I go to the bathroom up the swirling flowery patterned carpet stairs. The carpet is so thin, in places there are holes and loose threads. Its all worn out.
We leave after our instant coffee drinks in mugs. We leave for a walk to the moss. Its strange tracing the tracks and paths that I made as a child. The playground that we pass through has changed little, its still naff, the swings are exactly the same, just one new climbing frame. We meet no one. We are the only ones walking. Sometimes the pavement comes to nothing and we have to walk on the main road with cars zooming close by to our bodies, and you cannot hear to talk.
First field ploughed on one side with potatoes. The soil is rich and fertile. Second field full of rape seed, its smell is vile and intoxicating but the yellow is stunning. I feel happy looking at the yellow. We hear a bird, the whoops of an oyster catcher. We cross the railway. Trains travel through on this line at high speed from Manchester to London. We look and look again at the main crossing. Mum is slow on her feet, I have to help her over stiles. She struggle to lift her legs over. She had a stroke many years back and it has affected her movement. Still here we are walking, walking together. Walking and Talking. We walk through the little oak wood then out on to the moss. The towers of Bickershaw Colliery are long gone. I miss the way that they used to frame the landscape a grey monolith, a vertical amidst all this horizontal flat.
A patch of gorse bushes has been burnt to a cinder. The branches are all black, drawing lines of charcoal. Amidst the bushes an empty nest balances. So sad, we hope that the little birds flew before the burning.
On the way back we admire the pink and the white of the hawthorn bush flowers. Mum says that this is called May. We stop for a coffee at a pub that I used to work in as a teenager. Nothing on the inside has changed. I recognise the barley brown flower patterns of the 80’s tiles in the toilets, the carpet the bar nothing different. I recognise none of the faces, a sea of strangers. We sit in the sun of the pub garden. Mum talks about her voluntary work at pensioners link about older people being neglected, checked out of hospital too early. Her stories worry me, I can see why she continues with the work that she does. I can see what its important for her to use her knowledge to help others. She talks about Andy Burnham the local Labour MP.
I can hear that Naoise is awake. I didn’t cuddle him last night. I can hear Patrick talking to Naoise in the attic. When I got in last night I went upstairs and gave him a kiss on the cheek, tucked him into the duvet. He smelt of poo but he was sleeping so I left him to sleep.
Naoise sitting beside me. He ran and jumped onto the bed. He does’nt smell of poo. He smells sweet and cuddly and he is pleased to see me back home and he tells me that he did a poo yesterday at the toilets at the swimming pool.
The washing machine cycle has ended and is beep beep beeping.