I’ve always loved autumn. I enjoy the excitement of fresh stationery, budding plans and the positivity of starting anew. But I’ve come to conclude that the fortnight post 6th October (my birthday is 2nd October and Baby Girl’s is the 6th) isn’t my “happy time”. While everyone else is joyously jumping through leaves and extolling the virtues of country walks and pub lunches, I’m hunched at home, rocking in the corner and scowling at my Instagram feed.
It was the same last year and it’s proving to be the same this year. Without wanting to go all violin playing or fatalistic, it just seems that last haul to half term is harder at this time of year than any other.
The dark mornings, dark nights and random torrential showers seem to set me adrift. On the one hand I relish the opportunity to get into my PJs come an evening and snuggle down under a blanket – either at my desk (often) or on the sofa. But on the other, the new weather seems to reflect the struggle of daily life.
Last year it was all about sleep. I’d reached a wall of sleep deprivation and went to see the doctor in fear of suffering a) PND or b) low iron levels. Blood tests and a lengthy chat proved I had neither, I was just extremely knackered. Once half term arrived I felt myself again, we’d tentatively started to address the harsh reality of a baby who wouldn’t sleep, and having my teacher husband back around again after the lovely long summer holiday was bliss.
This year it’s all about bugs. Last week Baby Girl had Hand, Foot and Mouth – horrendous. She didn’t eat or sleep for three days and lived off breast milk and breast milk alone. This meant she was clamped to my boob 24/7 and my poor, limp nipples were screaming for some solitary time in their bra without a little hand reaching for them. Ah, breastfeeding.
Add to that a vomiting bug which hit the NLM and Frog, and a persistent cold that I just can’t shift and we’ve all been feeling a bit fraught.
I just read what I wrote up there and deleted it all. I mean GET A GRIP, eye roll etc etc. Here I am moaning about dark evenings and relatively inconsequential bugs while children are dying in Syria, Donald Trump exists and there’s no solution to world poverty.
But that’s the thing, isn’t it? Our own struggles can still get us down, no matter how stupid and mundane they are in the grand scheme of things. I know full well that when my girls are grown I’ll have forgotten about the trickier mornings when the toddler threw her cereal on the floor or drew all over her sister’s school book while the six year old refused to put her shoes on. I won’t remember the relentless slog of dirty dishes, rushed emails and the frantic panic of having SO MUCH work to do but no time to do it.
When we’re in these times though, they’re real to us. It’s hard to get a bigger perspective and put your big girl pants on when you’ve had minimal sleep and are living on a clean eating diet of lettuce (because I’m a sadist I decided this week was the one I needed to really focus on my mum tum – what an idiot).
The internet doesn’t help me at times like this. I’m at once battling with the urge to get the hell over myself and crack on, while inwardly wanting to punch the shallowness of Instagram and the highly edited faces of happy parents all feeling #SoBlessed. Why can’t I feel #SoBlessed? I must be a bad parent / person / etc.
Yeah, the October blues are crap.
I’m skirting around a point here. I’ll come to it eventually. If you’ve read this far I salute you.
Here it is:
Don’t believe everything you read on the internet or see on Instagram. We all have tough times and your tough times are no less valid just because you live in a house with heating and have food in the fridge. It’s OK to think “SHIT I want to run away to the circus today”. It doesn’t make you a bad parent or an evil person. It just makes you human.
I’m writing this post in case there’s someone out there who might also have had a pants week with a cherry on top. You’re not alone. We both know it’s going to get better and normal service will resume shortly. In the meantime, give up the lettuce, don’t begrudge yourself a glass of wine or a piece of chocolate.
We’re doing a good job. Aren’t we?
PS. This post is not entirely full of negativity. Here are some lovely positive things I’ve read this week which I’ve enjoyed.
Alice’s post on flexible working hours is inspiring and might give you the kickstart you need to make a change (sorry for my massively moany comment on your post by the way Alice).
Polly’s post about choosing happiness is a balm to a frazzled soul.
Alison’s post about colourful dressing in autumn is just the piece of escapism you might need if you’re missing those summer colours.
Emily’s post about the cult of always being busy really hit a chord with me.
And my post for BabyCentre about Love Bombing is a deliberately positive way to talk about the issue of tantrums, and how to get around them.
Bye for now. Happy vibes will be back soon. Promise.