#atinylife peopling

When I think about ‘getting back to normal,’ I’m usually thinking about how much I might be dreading it. The exhaustion is the same as people who move country feel, going about what would usually be their normal business. I’ve not exercised my peopling muscles for so long.

So last night was a wonderful reminder of what I have actually been missing.

A peaceful drive into Edinburgh. A parking space I could fit into, for free. Warm weather.

Dear, dear friends.

A celebration of a birthday – one of twenty seven I’ve now been part of with these guys. Talking about every decade we’ve spent together and apart. No need to avoid topics like gender – we’re all on the same page there. Good food. Hugs – finally! Hugs!

Thank you everyone who makes me feel like I might like peopling after all.

#atinylife good day

The sun came out and

we were allowed to have people over in the garden and

they could be from another local authority area and

I made gluten free vegan brownies and

the kids played with nerf guns and

I hate toy guns and

I didn’t care and

I made tea and

Mr HB made coffee and

we bitched about stuff and

we did the crossword together and

we laughed and

we looked at the tadpoles and

the tadpoles are getting bigger and

they are moving around more too and

kids all played really well together and

later on we went down to the river and

it is really beautiful here and

today it is cloudy again and

I feel tired but it’s the good sort of tired and

I am so lucky to have had such a lovely day.

#atinylife WillowWhite

I was talking to a friend the other day (online, of course, because Covid), and the subject of Willow Tree ornaments came up.

Remember those?

I don’t know if it was a worldwide thing, but for a while, everyone in the UK had AT LEAST one. We had three, back in the day.

Anyway, I sent the link to Zoom chat, and she said: ‘Oh yeah. They are really white, aren’t they?’

And here is where I call myself out.

For not realising this, at all. For never considering how these ornaments are made a facsimile, not of ‘every man (women or child)’ but actually ‘every white man (women or child).’ For not realising that being able to recognise myself in those faceless ornaments meant that other people would be made to feel other, different. Again.

This. Is. White. Privilege.

#atinylife wisewords

Lockdown, kids, school, bullying…

all fading away now as I listen to your

wise words, your tone steeped in kindness, experience and love,

as you tell me I am doing everything I can

to keep everything balanced –

all these plate-spun needs

crashing down in a pile of sad children

and distant partner, (and cat that still needs to go to the vet)

and am I thinking about my own needs, my own self?

Your friendship saturates this digital space

between us – the space hollowed out between

me and you, and you, and you – without these electrical signals,

these sound waves,

how alone would all of us be feeling, now?

I put out the distress call

and like a bat emoji in the sky

you see how much I need you.

And you call

and you say ‘Hi! How are you?’

#atinylife the other stuff

In between the published works –

the novel that did OK

a story in that collection put together by MA students,

a poem here, a poem there

the joy of a short-listing

the folder of ‘no longer on submission’ scribblings

there is the ‘other’ stuff.

I couldn’t fit it all into the bookshelf:

hours spent tinkering with broken friends, instead of broken sentences;

days spent with Netflix, instead of cutting, instead of copy-pasting;

weeks spent holding the cat, instead of the pen

piggy-bank empty and smashed. All spent.

the other stuff

Tears leaking from the hot water tank

shredded text messages used for mouse nests

reams of progress stacked, dormant

still in their polythene. Sterile blank pages.

Where is all the work I could have done

if other people had been

kind? accepting? loyal?

had trusted my life had to be lived this way?

 

 

 

 

#atinylife sticks&stones

We cycle most days at the moment – changed days indeed! I remember early on in lockdown puffing and panting up a hill (to be fair, I have just been diagnosed with asthma, but also to be fair there have been a lot of crisps lately). Some ‘well-meaning’ gentleman made a comment that he was walking faster than I was cycling.

That was kind.  sticks&stones

A couple of weeks later my lovely next door neighbour saw me saddling up my two-wheeled steed and said there would be nothing left of me soon. This, despite the fact that he has probably never seen me fatter.

That was kind. He’s a great guy.

As a family, we agreed this morning that some people could benefit from being a bit more aware of the people exercising around them. But if they can’t say something nice…

 

#atinylife stayhome

It’s Saturday night,

and I’m in.

I’m usually in, on a Saturday.

 

I saw friends and family today,

in little boxes on the computer –

it’s so much better than nothing.

 

I keep watching something

or reading something,

and forgetting.

 

And then I think ‘oh, yes.

We’re in the middle of a pandemic.

The last one was about a hundred years ago.’ stay home

 

I’m not even following the news much,

it feels irresponsible, but I just can’t

listen to the same story, but with bigger numbers, every day.

 

And I think, ‘I’m not

doing anything. Do I have anything

to write about?

 

There are stories out there

that are much more pertinent,

than a person who sat at home on Zoom during the pandemic, and found it quite difficult to write her weekly blog, all of a sudden,

but was basically fine.

 

 

 

 

Cheryl Smith: #atinylife coming home

And we’re back.

We were only gone for three days, but the place has changed in that time – don’t ask me how. The furniture is the same, the rooms haven’t morphed into something other than what they were, and our pets are as healthy and happy as we left them – possibly more so, because our house sitters were wonderful and I suspect they’ve been spoilt.

Maybe that’s where the difference lies. Our lovely friends had left by the time we got home, leaving cleanliness, order, and the sense of their recent presence as parting gifts. I imagine that somehow their routines have infused the fabric of the place too, because – and this always happens when I leave and come back again – I’ve forgotten how things are done round here. I shall have to re-learn. It’ll take at least three days.

Coming Home.png

#atinylife nap

I have wonderful friends. And family. I’m lucky.

But the bar can always be raised, right? Right? We all went to a friend’s house the other day. Regular readers will know about my ongoing (whining about) mental health problems. It had been one of those weeks.

What is the best thing to do to help a friend who is struggling? I am rubbish at helping other people with their mental health – I know what it feels like, not how to help.

But this friend, she knew. She didn’t ask anything of me, not even my company. I was tucked up on a day bed, in their spare room, with my youngest, and a computer playing Spiderman and the Spiderverse. I had a power nap and managed to keep up with the story.

nap

It was the best visit ever. Thanks guys!

#atinylife What a Carry On!

My favourite bit of parenting is when the kids are getting along. I am delighted to report that, at the time of writing, and for the last week or so, they have been best pals!

Of course this means no one ever goes to sleep…

‘Carry on time’ is the perfect compromise between ‘your parents need some child-free time in the evenings’ and ‘but we’re not tiiiiiiiired.’ Sometimes it ends in tears (or punches), but it’s only when they’re really quiet I have to go and see what they’re up to.

Carry On Time

It is a pleasure, getting to know these little people, watching them getting to know each other. It is even more pleasurable doing this from the sofa, watching Netflix with the cat. It’s not just the convenience, though, honest! Without my input, their relationship has the chance to grow.