Did you ever wonder…?

It’s 3.30am as I start writing this. I’ve been lying awake for a while with all sorts of thoughts running through my mind so I decided to give up trying to get back to sleep right now and spill some of those thoughts out here. I’ve made myself a cinnamon and apple tea (was looking for camomile but I think we’re out) and I’m sipping that while I type.

My sleeping patterns are weird. I can go for months sleeping soundly all through the night and then I’ll have several weeks when I’m awake at least two or three times. Sometimes I know why (too much sugar does it, or if there are people on my mind to pray for) and sometimes not. Well tonight I can’t figure out a reason for my wakefulness. I’ve prayed for several people who came to mind and I’m still awake. I haven’t had any alcohol in 5 days (that occasionally messes up my sleep) or too much caffeine, so I’m clueless.

Today (well yesterday technically) was a gloriously sunny day. We watched church online in the morning and then had a picnic lunch in the garden. I read some of my book (Rising Strong by Brene Brown) lying on the picnic blanket and went out for my daily exercise allowance (walk) in the fields nearby. After dinner (well during/after dinner) I decided to burn some of our paper rubbish in the fire pit. Due to Covid-19 changes they’re not picking up our recycling like they usually do. They’re now only collecting one bin every week again and everything is in the same bin (it’s like we’ve gone back in time).

Anyway I had this thought while I was feeding and watching the fire. I love a fire – I’m not sure why? Maybe it reminds me of my grandad who was always sitting by his open fire and ‘looking after’ it? Maybe it’s just that I’ve always enjoyed being warm – if there’s a fire in a room I’ll be sitting beside it. I wondered if I had been brought up in a completely different family would I have been an arsonist? 😂 It’s a silly thought really but I guess I was thinking that my fascination with fire could have gone a different way?

I was brought up in a semi-strict Christian family. My dad was a bank accountant and lay preacher who later became a pastor. My mum was a midwife. We were raised with tight rules and good morals. It got me thinking about what might have been different in my life if I had had a different type of upbringing. Not that I’d want to change it – I consider my childhood to have been a very positive experience on the whole; but for example if I had witnessed my parents fight or argue would I have known how to handle conflict better and not been such a teddy bear (my conflict style)? If my parents hadn’t sided with my foster brother against me that time (another story) would I have had less doubts about my worth in later life? If I had felt able to openly discuss my questions about faith and life that might not fit exactly with what the Bible says would I have felt more free to speak what is on my mind? Don’t get me wrong – I’m not dissing my parents – I think they did a great job. Nothing about parenting is easy and I’m quite sure my kids could make a long list of everything I got wrong. I’m simply wondering how things might have been different.

I appreciate that for some people reading this you may have had the opposite type of upbringing, with more negative experiences than positive ones. I suppose though my question still stands for you. How might things have been different?

Whatever your background was like I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you think that you would have been fundamentally different if you were raised in a different type of family? What aspects of your character or personality do you think were profoundly affected by your upbringing? Is there anything you wish you could change or are you convinced that whatever your journey has been it’s led you to become the person you are today?

Let me know in the comments. 🙃

Cry me a river

Just so you know straight off this post has nothing to do with any song by the same name. I guess it just seemed like an appropriate title today. It’s been one of those days (do you ever get them?) when something sets you off crying in the morning and then you basically don’t stop.

This morning it was this Facebook post that set me off. As you know my kids are in their early twenties. My son is currently in Australia and my daughter is heading off to California in a few months. Like almost every mum on the planet I’ve poured everything I could into my kids – so much love and patience and encouragement. I’ve tried to teach them and train them and prepare them for life the best I could but they don’t come with a manual do they? I’ve tried to be everything they needed me to be as a mum but I’m not perfect and I’ve made mistakes and I wonder if I’ve let them down? Do they still love me as much now that they’ve grown and they know about my imperfections?

I didn’t understand ’empty nest syndrome’ when my kids were younger. I guess I always thought it would be nice to have your freedom back again and be able to do whatever you want without having to worry about looking after little ones. When the reality starts to hit though it’s pretty different. You realise that you’re not the same person you were before you had kids. Maybe your other half isn’t the same person either. You need to figure out what you like and what you want in life all over again. The house is too quiet and your friends are busy with their own lives. You have responsibilities like jobs and bills that restrict the freedom you dreamed of having once the kids were grown. I guess for me raising my kids was always the most important job I had even though I was only a stay at home mum until they started school. So maybe it’s also about an adjustment in how I think of myself.

I’m not quite at the empty nest stage yet but it’s definitely becoming more real and looking like the reality is getting much closer. I guess I’m beginning to process it now in the hope that I’ll be properly ready for it when it actually happens. To all the other mums and dads out there who don’t see as much of your kids as you’d like and wish you’d made more of the time you had, I feel your pain (if only a little bit of it right now). Change is the only constant in life as they say. Just gotta learn to deal with it I suppose.

When was the last time?

When was the last time you rolled down a hill
Or chased a butterfly that wouldn’t stay still?
When was the last time you lay on the grass
And watched the cloud shapes slowly pass?
Who told us that growing older
Meant we had to grow up?

When was the last time you ran through the leaves
Or built a den among the trees?
When was the last time you climbed to a branch
And watched so still as everyone passed?
Who told us that growing older
Meant we had to grow up?

When was the last time you built an igloo
Or made some angels in snow that’s new?
When was the last time you got on a sledge
And flew down a hill with your heart on edge?
Who told us that growing older
Meant we had to grow up?

When was the last time you played on a swing
Or made daisy chains while the birds would sing?
When was the last time you flew a kite
And watched it soar with colours so bright?
Who told us that growing older
Meant we had to grow up?

When was the last time you just had fun,
Felt as free as a child playing in the sun?
When was the last time you did something daft
And didn’t care if anyone laughed?
Who told us that growing older
Meant we had to grow up?

I don’t want to grow up!