I’m probably about to over share again. It’s difficult to know what one ought to include in – and possibly more importantly, miss out of – a blog. It’s like a journal, but locking it, or keeping it under your pillow, or writing ‘This diary is PRIVATE – KEEP OUT or DIE THAT MEANS YOU SAUSAGE’ on it sort of defeats the purpose. You’ve got to confide a bit to keep it interesting but at the same time nobody wants to hear about your bowel movements or piles (oops – might’ve already covered that one). You don’t want to incriminate yourself whilst needing to maintain an aura of honesty.
I’ve been trying to let Pickle out of the pushchair of late. It’s a bit of a challenge for various reasons but the main problem is her complete lack of willingness to do anything you suggest, ask, or demand of her, or even suggest a mild preference for. The flash points are: keeping on the pavement and not walking on the road (she’s taken to standing right on the edge of the footpath, raising one eyebrow smirkily and swinging one foot into the road for a few minutes before either meekly stepping back on the pavement or suddenly making a dash for the bonnet of an approaching car); holding hands at any point and in particular when crossing the road (solved by my carrying her, a dead weight dangling by one arm until I worry about dislocation and change to the Squirmy Rugby Ball Hold); and trying to get her back into the pushchair after her brief taste of freedom (imagine a strapping a plank into the cockpit of a plane, only the plank is screaming murderously in your earhole and won’t wear its hat).
For Pickle, walking must seem like a world of frustration. No running in the road? BORing! Having to hold hands? May as well be in the flippin’ pushchair. Being a Stay at Home Mother, though, means that what I can let her do unabated is dawdle. And man, can she dawdle. One of the many brilliant things about toddlers is their ability to spend an hour and a half on a ten minute walk. ‘Look, mummy! A leaf!’ she will exclaim, filled with wonder that such a green, shiny and round-yet-pointy thing exists in the world to be plucked and examined in minutest detail. ‘Wotsat?’ She asks, mystified, of every cigarette end and discarded scrap of porno mag on the pavement. She jumps, because she can. She traces the wrought-iron shapes on a garden gate with her finger. She points out every flower and tree and man-hole cover. As we pass, she fingers the BMW badges on the drug dealer’s cars (I try to discourage this, for obvious reasons), learning about her environment. If you can get in that special zone we Stay at Home Mothers have all created for our minds, the one where your thoughts are clouds, you are not allowing yourself to become frustrated or shout ‘just get a bloody move on!’, and you are having an involved conversation with somebody whose speech you understand about 30 percent of, you can reach a kind of beautiful peace within yourself on a walk with a toddler. Until it’s time to hold hands to cross the road.
So now for the over-share. I have been quite honest, I think, about finding two small children with a short gap between them, and the change from competent professional to straggly haired pram-pusher a bit, erm, difficult. So last year, I got some Prozac. I say that like I did it illegally but nothing so exciting. I went to the doctor and said ‘I’ve given up work to look after my baby and my toddl…’ and before I got to the end of the sentence she was already writing the prescription and booking me in some CBT. I’m surprised how hesitantly I’m writing all this stuff since there’s supposed to be no stigma attached to anti-depressants these days. Anyway, Prozac is bloody brilliant stuff and has helped me no end and if you’re feeling shit I heartily recommend it, but it’s time to come off it now ‘cos I’m feeling better.
After a year or so of calm, I’m all emotion. There’s a TV advert for co-operative funeral care where the lady’s going to her husbands funeral and the Bentley passes by the canal and all the fishermen set down their rods, stand up and doff their hats. It’s been making me cry (it’s making me cry just writing about it). Ziggler the clown has been making me laugh hysterically with her falling down mid-sentence and funny face antics. Although I knew they were planning to close my local A&E I feel like I’ve only just properly realised, and it is making me furiously, and righteously, angry. I’ve been in touch with friends I haven’t spoken to for a while; there are more to write to, and I know I will. When I’ve looked at my kids sleeping, or at Trulove stroking the cat, I’ve felt that funny, filled-up, excited joy that I haven’t felt for more than a year. Coming off Prozac is like waking up from a really refreshing sleep.
Me and Sausage and Ziggler and Pickle and Munchkin and Titch went for a walk in the woods at the end of the holidays. It was a pretty small wood, but a fairly eventful walk. There was a dramatic fraternal row, a missing Munchkin (for five minutes that seemed like weeks), quite a lot of whinging, a thinking-we-were-lost-but-not-really-being, and a face-full of mud for the youngest of our party. She didn’t really mind though. She stood herself up, squelched towards the nearest tree, and cuddled it, examined it, stroked it, all the time singing to herself. She was there for ages tracing the ridges on the bark with her fingers and rubbing the shiny leaves between her fingers. We were all a bit cold and damp or annoyed with our brothers or thinking we were lost so we all kind of wanted to move on but we also all sort of admired her ability to really appreciate that tree. She communed with it.
After we’d realise we weren’t lost, and the brothers had made up and Ziggler had stopped whining and we were safely drinking hot chocolate in the woods café (God I love London – there’s a café every 50 paces) I realised that we’re having a similar experience, Pickle and I. She is discovering and I’m rediscovering. Coming off Prozac is like going for a walk with a Toddler.