I coped all right when my first grandad died, a few weeks ago. But the cumulative effect means that I am managing a little less well now that my other grandfather has gone. He was 100 years old and died peacefully on Saturday afternoon. I'll write properly about him soon, I hope.
Life's a little difficult right now. There's the new job, the bereavements, the ongoing infirmity of our ageing dog (featured here, looking remarkably well), some other stresses and strains, my knee is infected (I fell over and cut myself on a mountain rock) and then there's parenthood.
I love my kids, enormously. They are beautiful and clever and gentle and sweet. But one of them is a toddler and the other is an 8-yr-old and it is hard to keep them both happy at the same time. And I am a woman of extremes, so when I am with them they get so much of me that I can't cope with giving any of me to anything else. Which is not a practical or realistic way to exist. And I can't bear to hear them cry. Toddlers cry quite a lot.
So, the summer has been a bit of a strain. I have spent more time with my two boys than I normally do, and I have become very tired. I am 41 years old. I am a naturally energetic person, but children are tiring and my bones are old. Ish. OK, I am less than half the age that my grandfather reached, so it is silly to talk of being old. I still feel it.
So, I've been fretting and stewing and miserabling and struggling to relax, or to make the most of things I should have found enjoyable.
This afternoon my two sons and I visited the Manchester Museum. But first we went to the doctor, who pronounced my knee infected and sent me with an "urgent" note to a clinic that couldn't fit me in. We then got on a bus, which was a bit of a faff. One of the main corridors in the museum - which we had to pass several times to reach the lift - contained several prominently-displayed corpses (Egyptian mummies). These were pronounced "scary" and resulted in an increasingly-heavy two-yr-old demanding to be carried every time we walked past. Both children enjoyed the stuffed animals, the live frogs, the colourful insects and the dinosaurs. By the end of it all, I was knackered.
And then we walked outside. There is an installation in the courtyard called the "Reflective Room".
My 8-yr-old had bought a polystyrene aeroplane for 50p in the museum gift shop. His brother had one too. They were happy for well over an hour, launching their planes from various different locations and performing a series of impressive stunts. I just sat in the installation and marvelled at the sky, which was blue, and the roofs, which were red. It was a very comfy installation.
I ambled back into the cafe for a coffee, accompanied by an excited 2-yr-old. We went back out into the sun. We bought more planes. Another family appeared, and we donated one of our aircraft, which made their children very happy.
It was one of those spontaneous outbreaks of peace. My 8-yr-old suggested that maybe his dad would look after him and his brother one weekend and I could come back, to sit there and read a book. He's considerate like that.
We had to go in the end. The museum had closed long ago and the little one needed a nap, but we were all content.
It's hard to exist and let things be. When you do, it's magical.
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