Almost daily diary!

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

So here I am at midnight re-reading our lives;

 I first started to write here 16 years ago, when I was 44 years old. This year I will be 60. My wonderful children have grown into beautiful adults and I continue to love them more each day.

Yet, as I write, I wonder whether I have done them a disservice. What if Suburbia hadn't given up on the 2.4 children dream. What if I had tried harder? What if I'd not laid still but instead turned over to face him? What would life have been like, what would their lives have been like? 

I wallow in the selfishness of it all.

I have reinvented myself several times over those last 16 years. And the best times of all, for me, happened when it was just the three of us living on a shoestring. Just me and my precious babies. I miss that time, I so wish it could have lasted for longer, forever even. I'm not sure if the children would say the same.

It feels like yesterday and in some ways like it never happened at all. I still feel 44! And I am still searching. Life feels more serious and I wish I laughed more both then and now.

It was Mothers Day recently and Small Sprog came over to cook a curry for me. It was fab and a mini miracle that he would want to do that for his mum. He is 24 now and he still melts my heart.

Tall Girl and I walk regularly, I feel safe with her. I am so grateful that she takes time for me. 

She's nearly the age I was when I first met her dad. 

I wish I had loved them all more fiercely.

On a lighter note, Tall Girl mentioned to me that when she returned to her home the other day (where she lives with her partner and violent cat), hoping for a long hot bath, she opened the bathroom door to find the bathtub was full of shoes that belonged to her partner! Not only that but he was (interestingly) 'washing' them with their potato masher! She seemed mostly nonplused, though miffed that her bathtub was already taken. It seemed that what concerned her the most was whether he was using the 'best' masher or the old one! 

Hearing her story reminded me of what I used to write here. Of stories that would be lost to me had I not written them down. So here I am at midnight - somethings never change - re reading our lives; it's the small moments -from Suburbia- that make up the most wonderful and vibrant life. I'm not sure I will live any brighter now, life and work seem loaded with heavy emotions and the post Covid world seems so much more grey and dull than before. But as she told me the story the tears ran down my face. Who wouldn't want to belly laugh again after what seems like such a long time...

With love from Suburbia x

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Small Sprog turns 21 this month!

Yep, that's right! Where did all that time go I hear you ask...if you are still here that is. (Well it was 2008 once!)

And what does a Small Sprog want for his 21st birthday? A 3D printer I hear you reply! You didn't did you? I mean who would expect a small boy - largish man now, to want a 3D printer for his birthday? Or cash towards it anyway. 

So we had this conversation on the landing earlier:

Him: 'You know I can print out my Warhammer figures now?"

Me: 'Yes'

Him: 'Did you know you can print out a whole body suit of armour?'

Me: 'Can you?' I must have looked aghast as the image of him in full Darth Vader crossed my mind in vivid technicolour (I know it's mainly black but you know what I mean?)

Him: 'It's ok" he reassures me (he had registered my facial expression) 'I'm not planning to print one'

That's good, I thought.

Him: 'Some things take sixteen hours to print'

I start to think; electric bill, noise, where will we keep it all. It will be like when he, and his sister, were born, the house just suddenly filled with different plastic items, all in primary colours, that apparently 'baby' couldn't live without. Not to mention the crippling (literally when you stand on it bare foot) amount of lego we amassed  - most of which he probably has stashed away somewhere in the room he lives in, which I mostly avoid.

My mind wanders for a moment to whether we can melt down the lego pieces to feed the 3D printer as a means of economy and ethical living - then I snap back to my senses...

Me: 'Sixty?!'

Him: 'No, sixteen!...And you know busts?'

Me: 'Busts?' 

Him: 'Yes'

Me: 'What, like comedy breasts?' 

I couldn't help myself!

Him: 'NO!'

Me: 'I was trying to be funny'! I say, giggling.

He rolls his eyes and walks off in the direction of the toilet....

Saturday, July 28, 2018

I shouldn't really be here...

I should be writing my 'theoretical framework' for my case study. I'm bored and to be honest a bit confused, so I'm here instead to see if anyone is about who wants to come out to play?

I used to love this place to find playmates and lose myself in a different time continuum that is the internet but it's not quite the same any more is it?

Anyway, what I do know is I have a block, both with the essay and all the things I really 'should' be doing. For goodness sake I could be moving house in a few weeks time! Can someone disconnect me please so I can get on with packing boxes?

Goes off muttering something about 'mercury in retrograde'...

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Nothing ever stays the same

Its been 2 years exactly since we all moved into this house and into a new adventure. I thought I knew how it would pan out, I thought it would be something which it has not been, I look back today and wonder what it was all about.

This year is made of losses. I knew some were coming and I could feel others brewing but one in particular that I could have foreseen has just snuck up on me. Tall Girl has left the building! Yep, my absolutely beautiful daughter child has upped sticks and moved around the corner into her own place. I should have expected it, she's 22 this year after all, and has been desperate to 'nest' but it seemed, as she didn't go to university, that she'd be with me forever.

She has been my rock in a stormy place so many times of late and I question if this is healthy for her. Yet we seem to get on, I have lived with her longer than anyone else in my life - 22 wonderful years of getting to know her and seeing her grow into this beautiful and independent woman she has now become.

Things are as they should be. We birth them, nurture them and then watch them fly. It is the nature of things. is so difficult to watch them go.

She has kept me sane, shown me whats right, helped me enjoy my life. We have lived together, laughed together, enjoyed bottles of wine together - not to mention the cider - we have grown together in adulthood. In any other relationship she would be my soul mate. She has certainly kept me company these last two years.

She moved out the week before my birthday, for weeks before that I had cried a lot of tears that were for the loss of her and even deeper for the loss of my birth father that I had never really mourned. I was in pain. But, in the true sense of motherhood, I did my best to look calm and carry on. This is what I did.

I helped her pack her belongings into boxes, we looked at old photos, toddler drawings and tiny shoes. We packed up china and all the things she's been saving for her 'bottom drawer' as well as all the best cookery books! It was one of the hardest jobs I've ever done.

Yet she's only round the corner - for now- and we've had three nights out in the last week! As I write she's just texted me to say she's coming round for a BBQ! I was thinking of shelving the BBQ!

So nothing much has changed. Not really, I'm telling myself, yet I know she will never really live with me again. She may for a short while but the cord has been broken for the second time and my new house will never really be her real home.

I go up to her empty room and try not to cry. I remember sitting up there with her while the sun set drinking gin, and another time drying her tears after the kitchen was nearly set alight and yet another time watching a film, listening to music, watching her brush her long brown hair, her delight at moving in, her messiness, not knowing what on the floor was actually washing... the list and the memories are endless.

I miss her in the 5 minutes I'd see her before she dashed off to work, I miss her sitting on the sofa or helping me cook or - though we haven't done it much in this house - dancing in the kitchen, that really was our forte!

Its been a hell of a year with far more loss left to come. But with every ending comes a new beginning and, somewhere in the ether, I can see a small glimmer of light...

Monday, October 02, 2017

It's a cats life!

Thursday night I'm woken by the sound of banging and crashing downstairs in the hall. I listen intently, wondering whether to get up and explore or whether to leave it and be murdered in my bed. I fall back to sleep.

In the morning I wake up to find all the shoes, that are usually stored neatly under the bench in the hall, strewn across the floor. "Hmmm... I'm guessing the cat brought a mouse in and lost it" I say to Big Al who is somewhere else in the country working. I check the shoes and store them neatly again. Seems like the mouse may have met his maker elsewhere, as long as the cat didn't leave entrails in my shoe, life will be fine.


I'm in the pub on a Friday night with Big Al and my phone goes - a text from Tall girl who I left at home watching TV. "Mouse!" it read.
B***er! I thought. The little B*****d must have been hiding.
A photo comes through on my phone of the mouse, looking very much alive.
"Catch it in a sieve" I type. It was all I could think of at the time as wine had been consumed.
"I've shut myself in the sitting room" she texts back.
"But they can squeeze under doors" I reply.
"Big Al says Josie will catch it for you"
"Big Al is wrong" came the text after a few minutes.
"A job for Sam then (the boyfriend) when he arrives?"
"Sam doesn't like mice" she texts "they have one in their house too!"
It all goes quiet for a while. Then she sends a photo of the cat asleep with all his legs in the air - that's clearly not going to help either.

I start to forget about the whole thing when the phone pings again with a text that says "It's really fast!"
"I don't like it!"

By this time tears were rolling down my cheeks and I assured her we'd be home soon. I text her to say this and to make sure the cat is out of the room and that the mouse is barricaded in as she wouldn't want to witness a massacre.

When we get home I put Big Al in the sitting room to catch the mouse. He promptly flicks on Match of the Day and sits down to watch it while the mouse hides under the sofa.

I go to bed.

In the morning the mouse is stiff as a board under the kitchen table. I look at the cat. He's not taking responsibility for anything. He shrugs and moves on.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A walk around Mums Garden

I turn up with a bunch of Sweet Williams which we both sniff as I walk in and make the same disappointed face to. "Maybe they'll start to smell later" I state, though why they should do that I have no idea, but it seemed to make both of us happier!

I am at Mums. I am able to walk here, now we live so close, but it seems I see less of her now than when I had to drive an hour to get here. Odd really, but maybe it has to do with avoiding the stepfather, which is possible now that I don't have to stay for a whole day.

It is lovely here in the sun. I get two deck chairs out of the garage, directed by Mum, who always despairs about 'the state of the garage'. Anyway, I arrange them in semi-shade on the grass before realising I'd arranged them around the fish...yes, that's right, not the 'fish pond' but just the fish - last nights leftovers left out for the birds! Blatantly crows don't eat fish skin, and who could blame them? The shiny skins glistened in the increasing heat of the day. I thought about removing them but then Mum decided that we could just move the chairs a bit further away, so we did but the skins kept distracting me in a disturbing way, like some sort of macabre art installation.

We had a little 'tour' of the garden. It did look lovely, with lots in bloom and potential for lots more. I miss my garden at these moments especially as so much of Mums garden was also in mine so would also have been in bloom now.

We looked at the new roses, which were perfectly manicured and the Iris - not so good this year - before hop skipping over the fish again to look at the Hostas.
"The slugs are eating them" squeals Mum.
"You can't kill the slugs!" I say, "they could have been someones mother" - perhaps I have spent too long at the Buddhist Centre recently.
"But they're eating all my lovely plants!" she says as though in pain.
"They can't help it" I say "that's just nature."
"I wish they'd just eat the weeds instead" she says exasperated.
"I don't think the slugs can tell the difference between a 'weed' and a 'proper' plant Mum"!

She starts a mass massacre of greenfly on some buds elsewhere in the garden and I look on mournfully having resisted rescuing my pansies recently from an infestation of white fly (reincarnated mothers!) but instead watched the white fly massacre my plants.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Happy Birthday!

How do you count the passing of time? For me it has always been through the growing up of children. Not always my own. Years ago my very good friend had children before I'd even thought I'd ever be a mother and watching them grow back then, that was my marker of time. One of them has their own children now - all so strange in a way - it's part of what we are here for as a human race, yet the passing of time is not an even flow, where does it all go?

Last week I met up with a few of my anti natal group. All of our oldest children are now 20, were 20, within 6 weeks of each other. It's a strange mix, that group. We all get on but we are all so different and the only way we know each other is the fact that we conceived within weeks of each other and lived in the same district nurse area.

Years ago when we managed to leave the 'ankle biters' for the night - which was never easy - we used to exchange birthing stories! No, really, there's somethings you can only appreciate with certain people and we all knew each others stories well. This week we talked about the menopause! Yep, that's how long it's been.

And here's the real reason for this post. This week it's Small Sprogs birthday, he is 17. So how did we come this far? We have had a family day with Laser Tag and pizza to celebrate early. Everyone attended as did a new comer - Tall Girls first boyfriend. I love the way we have so many more people in our family now and the love is very tangible whenever we get together, I am truly blessed.

So, 17. Its only a year since I wrote this post  and we were still living in Bristol, just the 3 of us and I wasn't married quite yet.

Every year, at poignant times, I do the looking back/looking forward thing. I do it much less often and I can't remember the last time I did it with regret. At the moment I do it with pure wonder. How did I get here? How did I get us all here?

These days its not all up to me. Big Al is great at planning and I can take a back seat with the worrying too. I guess somethings are meant to be? Do we make our own future?

How do you count the passing of time?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

In which we look for something that is lost...

We turn up at Mums at about 11am. I ring the bell. She's in instant panic mode even though she knows we're coming. "I've lost Tall Girls 'speciality' tea!"she exclaims.
"Never mind, I'm sure we'll find it" I sooth.
"But she gave it to me for Christmas" she said.

We wander in.

She's often flustered these days, she's always been good at loosing things but now she panics more about it. The other day she lost her car keys, they had fallen out of her pocket into my car, and it was very nearly too much for her. Of course there have been times in the past where she's left her purse on the bonnet of the car and had a couple of hours elsewhere before missing it, only to return and it still being there - goodness knows how that happened. And remember the Christmas presents that survived a short journey on top of her car instead of inside?

Anyway, she boils the kettle and we start to look for the tea.

Tall Girl reminds me it is in a bright orange box - you'd think that was difficult enough to lose but nope. We searched every cupboard in the kitchen and then took to looking in other rooms too, even the bathroom, but to no avail. What had she done with it? We give up. We both have a sneaking suspicion that she's thrown it out by mistake.

Our time there passes pleasantly and we all resign ourselves to the fact that the tea is missing and may never be found. It's like there's a whole Bermuda Triangle somewhere in that house.

Later at home Tall Girl gets a text *found it!*
"She's found it" Tall Girl passes the message on
"Is that it?" I exclaim, "Is that all she said? Where did she find it?"
"Hang on, I'll ask"...

Turns out she'd forgotten she'd decanted it into a jar and put it in the food cupboard. Quite sensible really, if only she'd remembered.

Still, I opened the dishwasher last week to put in some food that needed to be kept cold! Well it was almost the fridge!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

Wow! That was a big year, wedding, house moves, new schools and colleges. All such a new life.

Wishing you all a great 2017

Tall Girl and I are hoping for a less frantic and more restful year than the last - it was good but exhausting!

Fingers crossed and see you all on the other side

Love Suburbia x

Monday, December 05, 2016

In which The Cat has a dastardly plan

I plump myself down on Small Sprogs bed. He looks at me with a withering look. I smile!
"Whats up dude?" he says.
I giggle "Just checking you're still breathing" I retort.

I try to engage him in conversation and for a moment he takes off half an earphone to listen and puts whoever's on Skype, on silent.

I can still tell Small Sprog is in there, it's just hard to find him sometimes due to the huge amount of hair and the teenage propensity towards grunting unless you are a friend - and I am blatantly his mother. However we do manage very good conversations about music sometimes, as we have similar tastes but that's usually in the car.

I realise, after a minute or so, that my time is almost up...and then The Cat runs in. Now The Cat is all knowing, and he knows full well he's not allowed in this room as Small Sprog has a tendency toward wheezing when fur is involved. "Out!" we both shout, simultaneously pointing to the door, but cat's just don't get pointing. He looks at our held out arms in bewilderment (fake obviously as he is all knowing) and refuses to budge. I take a step towards him and he jumps into a box. Great! He's done this before and the only thing to do is carry the box out with The Cat in it. This is what I do, carefully placing it and it's contence on the landing. And then I realise both The Cat and I are now outside of Small Sprog's room -perfect - just how Small Sprog likes it!

Seconds later Big Al is on the landing shouting expletives in a very Scottish way - probably because he is Scottish. Turns out the box on the landing wasn't there a few moments ago when he walked the other way, who put it there and why has he fallen over it?  The Cat's work is done - Game, set and match!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Here we are

It's 4ish months since we all moved in here. At first it felt like a holiday home as all the teens had finished GCSEs and we all hung about the house happily together. Now the school and college year has begun we have slipped into a pleasant routine but it seems more hectic than ever!

So I'm sitting here tonight, thanking my lucky stars. We had Big Als mates around for dinner last weekend and they commented on how all the teens seem to get on well together, and they do. How did that happen? We are truly blessed.

And the new house? Well, it's just perfect. I am starting to see it as a creative house; Tall Girl has picked up on her drawing again, as well as baking, Josie is baking, I am baking, we are all baking - well, maybe not all. And Small Sprog I hear you ask? He's taken to brewing Mead! Well, why wouldn't he?!

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Lost in translation

It's nearly the weekend and Tall Girl has 'volunteered', or perhaps been press-ganged, into making chocolate and ginger mouse for the Dinner Party on Saturday evening. "Have we got all the ingredients?" I ask. She checks. "We just need Ginger Nuts" she replies.
"OK" I say "I'll just catch Big Al before he goes into town and I'll put them on his list".

Big Al is fiddling about with the recycling outside, he struggles with recycling. His inherent nature is to send it all to landfall, but we are addressing that instinct gradually. I catch him before he heads out and scribble on his shopping list.

Meanwhile my Mother is 'having coffee' on my sofa, she is regaling her taxing day and is currently in overdrive relating the story about being trapped in her trousers in the bathroom at home, when she needed a wee! There was a happy ending but a warning for the future issues which may occur in public toilets with an eye on buying elasticated versions in the future.

While all this going on my phone rings, it's Big Al "About the Ginger nuts?" he asks, I immediately put the phone back down, thinking he is being lewd, knowing my mother is in the room. I tut inwardly.

Sometime later he returns home.

"How did it go?" I asked
"Terrible!" He replied "I got to the supermarket" he regaled "and thought - peanuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, and then I looked for 'ginger' nuts but couldn't find them anywhere, so I found an assistant and asked her if she knew if they had any ginger nuts - she was Polish so we both had English as a second language" - Big Al is Scottish and tends to shout when he can't be understood, in a very British way - "so the conversation didn't really flow and there didn't seem to be any nuts anywhere that were ginger so we had to involve a third party" he continued seriously "who seemed to know what I was talking about and ... lead me to the biscuit aisle" by this time I was laughing so much I was crying and mum almost wet herself (again!) "You never told me they were biscuits!" he complained.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Squaring the circle (Intuition)

This should be a post about moving house, which was crazy (and sorted) or the holidays since but I need to write the following as a memory for myself and as a way of making sense of things;

Turn the clock back 18 months - maybe a little more; it was the beginning of December and I was working as a Learning Mentor in a senior school. I had a reasonable caseload, teens in crisis, often parents in crisis too and it hadn't yet taken its toll on me personally.

I was given a student, we could call her Anna. I was asked to talk to her about religion, and that in doing so she'd probably 'sort herself out', she just needed someone to talk to.

I admit to procrastinating over this job! It seemed an anathema to me that I should be asked to talk to anyone about religion, I'm agnostic at best and I had no idea where to start. So it was almost 2 weeks before I set up the required meeting.

She was small, slight - 4'11" to be correct and she had an amazing smile. She talked, I listened, reflected back, did all the counselling stuff and for a while, my process (what I was thinking while she was talking) was, where is this going? You seem fine, you're smiling and all seems well. And then, something I said, something she felt, I don't know... she fell apart. I have never seen such a transformation, how a person can change, like a metamorphosis right before my eyes. She cried, but not just crying, a heartfelt, heart wrenching desperateness; her beautiful smile was gone and a desperate haunted look filled it's place, it seemed that this had been waiting for the right moment, and she chose that moment and she chose me to unload to.

Both our lives changed in that moment. What I heard could not be unheard, and she could not unsay all that was said. There was no going back, saying it had made it real. Once these things have been said, it's like opening the flood gates, there's no return.

Over the weeks before Christmas things were put in place to support her through the holidays, a life line, some contact with me via school email was allowed providing it was CC'd to another member of staff.

She got through the 2 weeks, just. On return she started talking about not 'being there', leaving, 'what's the point?' etc. I believed her to be talking about taking her own life. By the end of February she started to eat less, by March she stopped. I flagged up all theses things, all of them, I've read a lot, I've been on courses, I knew the signs. It was too late. By Easter she was admitted to the children's ward at the hospital.

This was chronic depression caused by her living situation. Her family was deeply religious, but she didn't believe, had never believed. She was destined to an arranged marriage in the near future and to live the life her mother lead. She could only see one way out, to kill herself. In her eyes the 'honourable way' to do that was to fade away. For her it was simple, she would harm herself so much from not eating that she would slowly die. Her family and community would not shoulder any blame and she would be free of the life that she foresaw and could not bear.

Unbeknown to her it doesn't work that way. Doctors and nurses aren't in the habit of letting you fade away once you are admitted and so, to cut a long story short, she went in and out of hospital, mental health units, Bristol, London and narrowly missed being sectioned (thankfully or she'd still be incarcerated) several times. [There is not space here to write about the horrendous conditions within child and adult mental heath - suffice to say that nothing much seems to have changed since Victoria was on the throne]

All the professionals she came into contact with all knew that the answer was for her to leave her family home and go into care but, despite everything, she didn't want to bring shame on her family. It was her choice to make.

I visited the hospital weekly - with permission from my workplace. My intuition was so strong, I felt compelled to support her from my soul. Perhaps that sounds weird but it felt incredibly right. I got her through meetings, became her advocate and was there for her whenever she needed me to be - her parents were part of the problem - there was no one else.

I visited with permission from school until the summer holidays. In the holidays I went anyway. Without permission I knew I was breaking the rules.

 I'd do it all again, I'd make that choice every time, and I was aware of the consiquences. We had a bond - I was the first person she had told her life history to, she trusted me, and the nurses encouraged visits because it breathed a little life into her, I asked the questions her parents didn't ask, I gave the various agencies her back story when she'd lost the strength to do so, it was right that I did.

In The Autumn I was dismissed from my job. Gross misconduct. I visited without permission. I was without a job and they refused a reference. A single mum with 2 kids and a mortgage. They said I was too involved ( I was very involved) they called it a 'Child Protection Issue'. It was the worst thing anyone could have ever said, I felt sullied by the words, yet I knew I couldn't have done anything differently, it had had to be that way.

A year passed. Somehow she had my phone number - sneaked from the hospital files. She kept in touch, begged to see me. I was scared - those words 'Child Protection' rang heavy in my ears.

Over the last year she has been close to death. I have, over time had to accept that she may get her way in the end and cease to exist. But slowly, very slowly, the strength of character in her, that I had seen right from the start became stronger. He family life had become intolerable and a whole 18 months later she made the momentous and emotional decision to put herself into care. And everyone involved in her care could breath again.

And the point of this story is that today we shared coffee together in a cafe. She is alive, there is no tube feeding her into her stomach and I sob as I write as it seemed so impossible, not so long ago, that she would live. The spirit has won, her spirit, the one Carl Rogers talks about, the one that has to be in the life it wants to be in or it withers and dies. That one. And he was right. I have proof. The life she wanted and the one she now has are synchronised. Before they were miles apart. She eats. She sleeps. She is rejoicing in all the things she wasn't allowed to do. She is 16. She goes for walks with such joy, just because she can. She can see friends. Her hair is fluorescent red! She is grateful.

Today she told me she wanted to be a lawyer. I believe she can do it. Tonight she is with friends getting ready for a party she would never have been allowed to attend not long ago. She chose life. Her spirit chose life. She is grateful for all that the rest of us take for granted. She will make it, my work is done - but I will always help her along the way if she needs me.

I have faith.

Friday, May 27, 2016


An era is drawing to an end and there are new beginnings on the horizon for all of us here.

Small Sprog had his last day of school today (apart from outstanding exams) and its feeling strange to think that, after 8 years, we will not go there again.

Tall Girl has been offered work in our new town and is very excited.

I am continuing my counselling course in September after a year off.

In a months time I will be sitting at a different table, in a different garden, things are about to change.

So why do I feel so demotivated today? And lonely? Too much time on my hands, not working, an empty bank holiday weekend- which I have always loathed.

Sunday I think it's time to start packing boxes...