5/4/15 – Building Rome…

Over the last week I challenged myself to complete the following goals:

Write a ‘Family’ post

I wrote a post reflecting on how my life is like an aeroplane flight.  I talked about what things make my family off course and what things make us stay on track.  I looked at the things which affected us in both positive and negative ways.  I looked at the things I have already done to improve our situation and I looked to the future to find ways of improving things further.  You can read this post here: https://patchworkrainbows.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/destination-anywhere/

Have a family meeting with my children

Daddy’s LIttle Princess (DLP) decided that she wanted to call our family meeting ‘Planning’.  This is something they have in reception class at school where they decide on the activities they want to choose for the afternoon.  It seemed quite fitting so we are going to stick with it!

We started off with a little game.  I blindfolded DLP and lead her to a place in the house where returning to the starting point would be a little difficult but not unsafe.  I spun her around a few times for good measure.  I then told DLP that it was now her job to find her way back to the starting point.  DLP tried to return and seemed very nervous and worried.  After a moment I asked her if she would like some help or clues, she said yes.  I then directed her back to the starting point with instructions such as ‘move forward five steps’, ‘turn right’ etc.  When she was safely back I asked her if it was hard to find her way when she couldn’t see and had no instructions, she replied yes.  I then let Mummy’ s Little Soldier (MLS) have a turn.

Afterwards we sat down together and talked about us going through life together as a family and how sometimes we can’t see the future.  We talked about how we sometimes need assistance or clues to help us get to our destination.  We talked about how wonderful it was to have a family to rely on.  I helped them to understand how this was related to the game.

After the game we sat down and brainstormed some ideas for activities for the next week as I am going to be on annual leave.  We came up with the following list:  going on a train trip, a Spring walk, Making chocolate Easter nests, going out for lunch, going to the toy shop, going to the park, visiting Nanny and Grandad, Zentangling, buying new school shoes, school work and reading and arts and crafts!

I have also set the children and myself a little challenge.  We all have to think of one helpful thing and one kind thing we can do for each member of the family daily.

A fun bonding activity

This week we decided to make fairy cakes.  Both DLP and MLS really enjoyed this.  So much measuring, weighing, stirring and seiving was done and a great big mess made.  So much fun!

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Liebster Award no 2

I was nominated again by the lovely https://bekitschig.wordpress.com/

You can read my post here: https://patchworkrainbows.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/liebster-award-2-2/

My goals for next week are:

  • Continuing with our ‘Planning’ and bonding activities and complete as many of the activities the children chose as possible.
  • Complete the ‘Love in ten sentences challenge’.  Nomination by the lovely Edwina at http://edwinasepisodes.com/
  • Make a start on Writing 101
  • Write at least two posts on the first habit – Be Proactive.
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March 2015 – Letters to my Children…

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Dear Daddy’s Little Princess and Mummy’s Little Soldier,

You are my world.  I never thought I would have the opportunity to be a mother and I can honestly say that it is the most amazing feeling I have ever experienced.  You are my miracles.

I want you to understand why I am writing this blog.  I want you both to grow up understanding the hard work and commitment it takes to hold a family together.  I want you to know that the people you love and the relationships you develop will be the most important part of your life, far more important than anything you’ll ever own.

Your Daddy and I have been through many difficult times, but we have always managed to get through them.  There were many times when it would of been easier to walk away but our love kept us strong.  When someone you love has an addiction, you either walk away or support them.  I will support your Daddy no matter what because I know that underneath it all there is still a good person who will come back to us someday.

I know it has been difficult for you both, but I promise I will do everything I can to keep you safe.  I will be a more patient mummy and I will learn to deal with my resentment towards your Daddy which causes a bad atmosphere for us all.  I will change myself to influence those around me.

I’m feeling really positive about it.  I know that our future is going to be great!

Lots of love

Mummy.

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22/3/15 – Building Rome…

th-14As part of my Blogging 101 course we were asked to choose a blogging event to participate in.  I have chosen ‘Building Rome’ which occurs weekly on a Sunday.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_event/building-rome/

I felt that this event would fit in nicely with my blog.  This event is about setting yourself goals to complete to enable you to get to the place you want to be.  I want to make several major changes in my life to help pull my family back together, so making little changes each week will help me focus on my overall goal.

I’m starting off small.  My first priority is to catch up with my Blogging 101 course.  So here are my goals for next week:

  1. Extending my brand.
  2. Adding a regular feature
  3. Having a posting schedule
  4. Writing my post for my Liebster Award, kindly nominated by John Zokovitch.

Wish me luck – Rome wasn’t built in a day!

5 Principles…

th-7Stephen Covey writes a great deal about the principles on which the seven habits are based.  Here are the five principles which most effect my life daily.

The principle of service, of giving oneself to others, of helping to facilitate other people in their endeavours.

I seem to do this all day long, everyday!  I work in a residential home for adults with profound, multiple learning disabilities.  I provide full support with every aspect of their lives from personal care to helping them to live as independently as possible.  I have even helped some achieve their goals and their dreams.  Service is my job and one that I love.  I count myself very lucky.

In my personal life I take the majority of responsibility for the children.  Service is yet again the order of the day!  I don’t mind this anymore, it seems to have become easier as the children have got older and I have found ways of coping.  I love the time I spend with my children and I don’t feel the loss of identity that I once felt.  I’m beginning to get some of ‘me’ back.

I need to practise this principle more with my partner, I know deep down that he is a good person and I believe that this person will come back to me one day.  In the meantime I will do my up most to support him.

The Principle of staying positive and optimistic, radiating positive energy, and avoiding the four emotional cancers (criticizing, complaining, comparing and competing).

Well, staying positive and optimistic can be a battle when times are bad, but I try to remember that there is nothing I can do to change his drinking.  He needs to do this himself.  So, I just carry on with my life and try to help the kids understand.  (I would like to make it clear here that there have been very few incidences where he has been drinking around the kids.)  He now knows that when he is drinking, I will just stay out of the way.  I have managed to carve out a little life for myself, I started writing, learnt a new craft skill and started doing the things I loved as a child like drawing and singing.  This has helped so much and I am much happier for it.

During the day to day grind when I was unhappy and depressed I did a lot of the four emotional cancers.  I criticized the way he looked after our children, (sometimes rightly so, like when their outing with daddy was to the pub), but a lot of the time it was just nit picking because of my resentment towards him. This is probably partly responsible for why he helps so little now.  He felt like he could do no right.

I complained from the moment I got up in the morning till the moment I went to sleep.  I didn’t realise how negative I had become.  I compared our relationship to others, and wondered why we couldn’t be like a ‘normal’ couple.  I now know there is no such thing.  Everyone has their own problems.

I still have negative days, but I tend to just bite my tongue now.  Then I guess bottling up my feelings will do no good either.

The Principle of integrity – The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

I try not to speak about others when they are not present, but I admit this is quite difficult as I work in a female dominated environment.  There is a lot of gossiping and bitching and it’s easy to get sucked in.  I try to avoid these conversations and walk away and get on with my work.  If I am part of the conversation, I try to make sure that I don’t say anything that I wouldn’t say to the person’s face.

In these types of situations I try to remember that we never know what other people are going through.  My colleagues really have very little clue of the extent of the problems in my family, I hide it well.  I’m actually one of the few staff who doesn’t take their issues into work, I would never want to – it’s the one place I can get away from it all.

The Principle of patience – The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.

I am very patient in my work life.  A lot of the adults I support have challenging behaviour and mental health issues.  I can be in some pretty dangerous situations, sometimes on a daily basis.  I cope with this well.  I am good at it.  So, why do I find it so hard to apply at home?

I am much better with the children now, when I was very stressed out I would lose patience quickly and feel like I couldn’t cope but I manage this well now.  I have had to set up my life so that I no longer depend on daddy, e.g. I have back-up childcare, informed my manager so he’s aware.  The minute I put these things into place my life became easier.  It is just sad that it has come to that.

With my partner things need to change.  Staying out of the way helps but it does not address the problem.

The Principle of balance – Identifying our roles and spending appropriate times in each one.

All good with work and children here but definitely need to spend more time on our relationship.  I also need to look at developing friendships as I am feeling isolated at times.

It’s just knowing where to start…

My Fable…

th-6This is my version of Aesop’ s ‘The Goose and the Golden Egg’.  This fable reminds me about how effective we currently are and how effective we could be.  Stephen Covey uses this fable to talk about that which we produce (the Golden eggs) and our capacity to produce (the goose).  In the original story the farmer is very greedy and wants the golden eggs quickly and kills the goose to get them, only later does he stop to think that he can no longer get golden eggs as the goose is dead.  In life we often make these wrong decisions too.  Here is where I am at currently.

In my relationship

I love my partner, although it can be extremely hard at times.  I have chosen to support him with his alcohol addiction rather than leave him, and not just for the sake of the children, but because he is a good man when he is sober.  Even writing this down it sounds like my love is conditional but it is not – he is just very difficult to be around when he is drinking, which is quite a lot of the time. I know that I should try to be more understanding and forgiving but I find myself holding resentment and as a result our relationship has become distant.  He won’t talk to me unless he has been drinking and then he gets abusive so I then shut down.  We have basically come to live separate lives, we do very little together.  I worry about the long term effects on the children.

I know it is my resentment that is holding us back.  So what am I resentful about?  I had post natel depression after I had my first child, he did not support me or help with the baby, he puts his work and social life before us, he is ‘fun’ daddy with the kids and I do everything else.  I see now that he just didn’t know what to do or how to be a father.  I’m not sure if I am making excuses for him!  So confusing.

I know that I can’t change him – he needs to do this for himself.  I just need to be more supportive.  It is difficult to be this way when I’m yet again cancelling work because he is too drunk to look after the children.

If I could just forgive and show more compassion, he would be more receptive and follow suit.  Obviously better for everyone.  So why is it so difficult?  I have made some progress though, my happiness is not defined by him anymore, I have moved on with that and have found things that I enjoy rather than sitting at home worrying, such as crocheting, drawing and Writing!  I still go out very rarely though.

As a mother

I love being a mum, it is the most amazing thing I have ever done.  In my twenties I was told I would probably not ever be able to have children due to scar tissue around my fallopian tubes – I am so thankful that the damage was not as extensive as they thought.  Two children later I feel a very lucky woman.  My eldest DLP (Daddy’s LIttle Princess) is 5, she is very outgoing, talkative,and creative.  My youngest MLS (Mummy’ s Little Soldier) is 4, he is placid, gentle and kind.  Two very different children.

At times I feel overwhelmed by motherhood and completely rushed off my feet.  I feel a burden that the responsibility is all mine due to my partner helping rarely.  I have very little time to myself.  I feel tired all the time.  I ask myself how I’m expected to be a good mum when I don’t look after myself properly.  The tiredness can make me quick tempered with the children, I sometimes feel like I spend my whole day shouting.  Then the resentment returns when ‘fun’ daddy comes home (5 mins before bedtime), reads them a bedtime story and nips straight back out to the pub, reputation untouched whilst I am bad mummy because I’ve been telling them off all day!

Of course not all days are like this.  I love doing activities with the children, teaching them new things, creating with them.  I know when they grow up, they will remember all the things they did with mummy and the time I spent with them.  Something Daddy may not have.

In my friendships

I have a few close friends but I do not spend a great deal of time with them.  I find it hard to make social engagements due to my home situation.  I worry that my partner might have too much to drink to be responsible for the children.  I could ask my parents to babysit but I don’t like to as my mum looks after the children in the week as I work full time.

I have a few good friends at work but I tended to keep these relationships quite professional as I knew my chances of promotion were good. I think I have lost my confidence in social situations.

Reading this back, I realise what a mess I have got myself into.  It’s hard to see it written down in front of you.  My production and my capacity for it certainly has room for improvement.  Lots of things to work on.

How Do You Do?

th-5Today’s Blogging 101 task got me thinking about the way I interact with those around me.  I am generally quite a quiet person when I first meet people, quite shy I suppose.  I never really know what to say and rarely initiate a conversation.  I’m absolutely useless at ‘small talk’ – yes, I am that person you have conversations with and there are lots of awkward silences!

It definitely takes me a while to get to know people.  I’m in my thirties but I only have a few close friends – and even those I don’t see very often.  I find it difficult to develop friendships.  When I first started my job nine years ago I was a very quiet member of the team, or so people thought.  Reflecting back on it I realise that I was watching people, how they worked and how they connected with each other – it’s something I have a talent for – reading people.

Over the years I became a trusted member of the team and worked my way up through the ranks – even past people who were there long before me.  I feel this is mainly due to the fact that having been so quiet and watchful my basic character shone through, rather than the falseness that personality can sometimes bring, e.g. fitting in, joining in the gossip etc.

I often wish I could of remained the watchful, quiet one who only showed true character but as my confidence grew and my personality began to develop, bad habits crept in.  Now I’m struggling to become the better person again.  For me character is important, personality tends to manifest from what we think other people want us to be, or even what we think we should be like to please others.

I realise my quietness with new people comes across wrong, some people find me insensitive or abrupt because I rush in to say something because I’m nervous.  I seem to find it difficult to show empathy, maybe because I need to get to know people better but also because I work with adults with profound multiple learning disabilities with all sorts of difficulties so others ‘problems’ don’t always seem so important to me.

There are pros and cons to each way of being.  I wish I had the ability to be both confident and principally centred.  I’m not there yet, but this is what my journey is all about.

A Strange New World…

thThe time in my life when I had to challenge my paradigms and assumptions the most was when I visited Thailand and Vietnam with my partner.  My partner previously lived and worked in Thailand and Vietnam for four years so he sees it as a second home and probably would of stayed out there if we had not got together when we did.

I wasn’t complete in the dark concerning these countries, obviously my partner had told me many stories of his travels and I had read up about it before we went. All I can say is nothing really prepared me for the things I was about to see.

I knew that the sex industry was very full on and ‘in your face’ in many places but what completely astounded me was the attitudes of these workers and those around them.  Being a sex worker is so completely ‘normal’ in Thailand, it’s a strange ambience to be surrounded by.  The women that I met who work in this industry are just some of the nicest I have ever met, I couldn’t believe how positive and happy they were.  I’m not sure I could be so strong if my life had been mapped out in such a way and my future choices so limited.  I remember speaking to one family who had told me how thrilled they were when they found out their son was gay, explaining that this would mean he would bring more money into the family in the future.  It is hard to hear mothers talking about their children in this way.

Whilst in Vietnam I was very shocked at how young the children who sold flowers and other little souvenirs on the street at night were.  Some were not more than four or five years old.  These little girls were so happy and oblivious to the attention they were receiving from grown men who were openly groping them while their mother’s looked on.  I wanted to do something about it but was told that it would be unwise.  In the end I managed to get the little girl away from the man by buying a few things from her.  I then gave her mother some money to let the little girl sit with us for the evening, feeling uneasy that she would only be safe for one evening and that there were many more more like her out there.  Her mother saw my concern and explained that her daughter was being prepared for a future that was predetermined.  My own daughter is five years old, I can’t imagine what this would be like.

There is also an incredible amount of mistreatment of animals.  I saw a cat grabbed off the street and strangled in front of my eyes.  Elephants being mistreated if they didn’t perform tricks in Bangkok for the amusement of tourists.  Although I am told that many people keep dogs as pets now and the mistreatment is reducing due to the fact it doesn’t bode well with tourists.  I also visited a tiger sanctuary where the animals were looked after by Buddhist monks which was a lovely place to be.

What shocked me the most was my partners complete acceptance of this place and the things that go on, stuff which he would never of accepted in the UK.  Perhaps this was due to the amount of alcohol he used to consume then (a lot, before we had children).  He just said to me that it was ‘just the way it is’ out there. This doesn’t sit well with me. My values are the same wherever I am in the world. Some things are just inherently wrong.  But, what can we do to help?

Reading this post back to myself it sounds so negative.  Thailand and Vietnam are beautiful countries with some of the loveliest people I have ever met.  There are people and places I wouldn’t of missed for the world as well as things I’d rather forget.  These are just my experiences, other people’s will be completely different.  I am grateful I went there before I had children, I’m not sure I could visit there again now.

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