#atinylife school run chat

‘Mum?’

‘Uh-huh?’

‘Do adults still say nasty things about me?’

‘…’

‘I don’t know. Not to me, but I don’t see them anymore.’

‘Remember when XXX’s Mum said she wasn’t allowed to play with me anymore?’

‘Yes. I do. She was always very supportive. To our faces.’

**

school run chat

‘Mum?’

‘Why don’t you like XXX anymore?’

‘Well, she said some horrible things about trans kids.’

‘What did she say?’

‘I don’t want to tell you. It’ll upset you.’

‘No it won’t. Tell me.’

‘OK. She implied that if you shared a room at a residential you would rape your room-mate.’

‘…’

‘I’m sorry. It’s not true. Obviously.’

‘I’m asexual!’

‘You’re also 11 years old!’

‘I can’t say the word I want to say. So I’m just going to mouth it.’

‘Sorry, love. I do try to keep you away from all this sort of stuff.’

#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 LastBorn

Given my poetry pamphlet is now sold out (thank you to everyone who bought a copy), I thought I would record the poems for my much-neglected YouTube channel. Here is a transcript of the first one,

Last Born

Quickened pain, surprising me

out of all birth plans

and breathing techniques

and the crickets of the TENS

machine crawling up my back.

I had woken early

completed the lists:

paired socks, as my pelvis

pentangled like pulled knitting.

And all too soon

the burn, the squeeze, the heft

was beyond unbearable

but then

you released –

a tide of meaning

from me

into the world.

My last born.

Completing this compost

of family

this outrage

of us.

Never forget how you came:

child of mine.

Never be afraid to labour, and

never push down pain to places you cannot feel it.

#atinylife backtoschool

It won’t be long now – I know, I’ve done nothing but whine about them being home. Now I’m sort of wondering if I’ll look back on home-learning with a tear in my eye. Like this lunchtime, I thought, ‘this is one of the last lunches you’ll have together in term time, isn’t that sad?’ My kids, however, are nothing if not reliable. Within five minutes they were screaming at each other about something screen-related, I assume. Which I won’t miss AT ALL. It’s been awful and exhausting – I never thought my children would cry daily after babyhood was over. At that same time, I’ve loved slowing down with them, focussing on them above everything else, getting right into what they are into (Star Dew Valley rules btw). I’ll wave them off joyfully but I wouldn’t give this time back, either.

#atinylife Happy2021?

Happy New Year?

It was a couple of weeks before the end of last year when I listened to a podcast which said the whole ‘seeing the back of 2020’ thing was a false premise.

I mean, of course, we all knew that. But did we really know that?

For us here in the UK, January 2021 so far is remarkably similar to March 2020. Schools are closed again, and as much as I love my precious babies, I am not a natural home-schooler.

So it’s self-care again, back to the basics. I realised if I’m not waking a kid up to catch an early bus, I can have my precious 6am-7am hour back. I’m writing this in a silent house full of sleeping people (and cat). Sometimes I need rest. Sometimes I need work. Both are fulfilling, and necessary.

#atinylife WhatIamkeeping

Back to normal.

Back to normal by the Spring, they’re saying.

And most of me is delighted,

don’t get me wrong,

I’m in no rush to succumb to a deadly virus,

or bury a loved one,

and I miss the few friends I have left,

and I want to eat cake at Naked Bakery

and wander around Edinburgh again

and visit my sisters

(so I can argue with them face to face instead of online)

and talk to poets

and listen to their poems.

But I’m also thinking

‘what do I want to keep

of this not-normal?’

This slowing-down, even further,

staying in touch only with those that matter,

making things accessible to those who are always home,

no fundraisers

no duty events

sloughing off those expectations

it’s time we visited, we haven’t been for ages –

being home, Saturday, Sunday.

#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 thanksfornothing

Someone suggests an update to some legislation. It’s kind of controversial, from some angles, so they do a consultation. Over 70% of people respond and say ‘yep, sounds good.’

They decide not to update the legislation.

And if it was just this, I would be fine. I mean, it’s paperwork. It’s disappointing, it’s not surprising.

But it’s not only this. It’s the 18 month wait for your kid to be seen by someone who knows less about gender than you do. It’s the four emails a week to school because people are deliberately misgendering your child and then claiming they are entitled to their opinion that there are only two genders. It’s the memories of the times you couldn’t walk down the streets of your own village. It’s watching your child become more and more withdrawn. It’s news like this.

#atinylife whatdidyouDO?

Apparently, it will become a ‘good interview question.’ What did you accomplish in lockdown?

I was surprised to realise I am fit now. I haven’t been fit since before my first child was born. And let me assure you that I have not become thin – no matter how many kilometres you cycle, if you come home and eat crisps and drink beer, then…

Productive

I can cycle many kilometres, though. Up hills and everything. It’s a pleasant side-effect of taking the kids outside every day.

However, I didn’t write the great British novel or anything. You must be kidding! I have two kids –  and our homeschooling was excellent – but I was required to be there while they went tippity-tappity on their laptops. I didn’t manage to write much beyond this blog. Which helped me feel connected –

so, thanks,

for sticking around.