Keeping it real

30 July, 2015

Isn’t the internet a strange old beast? I am, personally, in love with it. We are lovers. I’d like to cover it in Nutella and lick it. We are having an intense tryst at the moment because: UNLIMITED WIFI HERE IN THE UK! YEAH BABY!  After 18 months of being in an internet-less yurt in New Zealand, we are sucking the life out of all the wwws over here.

But how much does it skew everyone’s perception of what is real? I mean. What family life is like, how exhausting parenthood is, how hard it is to just recycle the little boxes that the takeaway you’ve resorted to came in?

Everything is a showreel. Facebook and Instagram – white, white, walls and children not wearing their pyjamas. Even when I livestream on periscope I tilt the camera so you can’t see the morning’s cereal bowls with the crunchy nut cornflakes that haven’t been crunchy for hours. Not very many people are upfront about the shitty bits, eh?

I wonder if this blog lately has been a bit like that “oh we are going on a big trip! Having a lovely time in Thailand with the baby elephants! We are REALLY respecting our children’s rights! Now we are in London and we have shiny hair that is really growing fast thanks to this nice brush!”

A lovely family walk amongst the nature no stress here folks move right along

A lovely family walk amongst the nature no stress here folks move right along

When I post a blog, I usually am feeling all the happies. I tend not to be very public with my woes, ever. (I’m British.) And I don’t like to talk about difficulties my kids are facing with people on the internet. My blog isn’t a facade at all, I don’t mean to give a false impression – I just wouldn’t flip open my laptop if I was feeling really mega bummed about something.

So I’m making a concerted effort to do that right now… because right now we are having some HARD days.

We watched the new Pixar movie, Inside Out, yesterday because we happen to be in Peckham, home to the legendary Peckham Plex where every film is a fiver all day every day. Yeah the carpet is so sticky that it pulled my sandal off and yeah there tends to be a culture of shouting at the screen but a fiver is well cheap.

I was almost on the cusp of tears the whole time. Thinking about how all the change we have brought on to our family in the last 18 months and how that must be so epically intense for our children to deal with.

And they are really dealing with it right now.

(At least I think that is what is going on. I think it’s the change. We’ll never know unless we can get Pixar involved to take a peep in our kid’s head… that’s how it works right?)

It is emotion central round here. The epicenter of rage and the source of all tears. We are every slammed door and every overthrown chair.

And then there’s the children.

(Jokes… I’m too lazy to overthrow a chair.) Me and Tim seem to take it in turns over who gets to run away from the sadness and shut ourselves in the toilet.

All the emotions are triggering things in us and we are trying to figure out what we need and how to get it whilst helping our children meet theirs and not really feeling like we are doing that very well at all.

On days like this, parenting this way doesn’t seem like the path to harmony one bit. There are little shivers of doubt and a sense that families who Put Their Foot Down probably never have bad days.

We are all just on. the. verge. All day. (And all night.)

It takes a village to raise a child, eh? And I guess we have left ours for a few months, and we are sort of popping in to our old one and our kids don’t remember the neighbours and the friendly village dog that used to lick their knees now seems like a strange menace.  And did a poo right by the swings.

All the normal things have gone, the daily rituals and things we could all rely on and yes, there is lots of fun and joy involved, but we are floundering a bit. The framework on which we hang our lives is back on a parcel of land in New Zealand and we are just bumping along from thing to thing. (I like to think we carry this framework around with us, in our family culture but I’ve totally misplaced it. It’s probably somewhere in my hand bag with my sunglasses, a mouldy sock, a half eaten apple, a small furry penguin, a few of those orange things that kinder egg toys come in, two Frubes and a mooncup but gosh darn I can’t find iiiiiiiiittttttt…)

In between little (freezing) picnics catching up with old friends we are rampaging drama queens; moody and explosive.

One of us needs to take a chill pill and it should probably be me… have any? *hopeful*

If I was updating Instagram today there would be a picture of me hiding under the covers with a book while Juno tries to put a toy screwdriver into my ears brrrrrrrrr and Ramona will be yelling for someone to play tag with her for the fifty billionth time and Tim will be asking if we are bringing our children up all wrong.

So… no feedback needed. I just wanted to make it very, very clear that our life isn’t some romantical, respectful, nomadic dream. We are trying, really trying, to embrace joy and freedom but some days… some days are just shit.

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  • Amanda A 30 July, 2015 at 6:19 am

    Oh Lucy thank you soooo much for sharing this.
    I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who sits down and questions things when little segments of doubts start to float round my ever so busy and chaotic mind…
    So once again thank you for being so honest and sharing that.
    If its any consolation, its done wonders for my soul…..:)


  • Anemone 30 July, 2015 at 6:30 am

    This is really beautiful and comforting. That sounds like a terrible thing to say, but yes, it is comforting sometimes to know that others out there struggle too. Even the ones who seem perfect and allow their children complete autonomy without denying their own selves (which feels impossible!).

    Kudos to you for sharing an unhappy story, and I am confident that you will be back on the sunny side of life in no time, with your family right along with you. Perhaps if it were always easy, it wouldn’t seem to enjoyable?

  • Lisa 30 July, 2015 at 6:33 am

    That is the first blog I have heard from you in that tone and I think it’s a good think. I have just started a blog and was just thinking ‘ but if we just post loads of ‘cool stuff to do with your kids ‘ people might think life is so easy and amazing for us.. Which its not.. At the moment this is the most challenging life has ever been for me. It’s hard to you what to write but I def think it’s good to have a bit of, in the words of r kelly (-; ‘real talk’ now and again xx

    • Lisa 30 July, 2015 at 6:34 am

      I’m on my phone so excuse the predictive text errors!

  • Yael 30 July, 2015 at 6:54 am

    Thank you for your honesty, it is even more inspiring than usual (and this is hard to beat!!)
    No feedback needed; you know life is movement.

  • Heather Deeming 30 July, 2015 at 7:03 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m sorry things are not so great right now, but as the above commenters say, it’s so reassuring to know you’re not the only one who has a normal life including times that are just a bit rubbish.

    I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the internet – so much great stuff, but also so very good at leading me to believe (if I’m not careful) that everyone else is doing life that bit better than I am. Once again, I so appreciate your honesty. X

  • Sarah 30 July, 2015 at 7:16 am

    Great honest post that really resonated with me right now. Thank you.

  • lissa 30 July, 2015 at 7:31 am

    Life keeps getting in the way of dreams sometimes. We all have our shittier days that we don’t share, but there is great comfort in sharing, knowing that there are many others also feeling crap and questioning whether what we’re doing is right. It the new normal 😉
    Oh wait, you said “no feedback”, sorry, I will blame my grape based chill pill.
    Thanks for sharing x

  • Jess @ Along Came Cherry 30 July, 2015 at 7:51 am

    Thanks for sharing Lucy, we’ve had a crappy week too, both kids ill and Tiger screaming all day every day. It’s starting to pass though, luckily it always does! xx

  • ThaliaKR 30 July, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Thank you for this, Lucy. I’m sorry things are so tough.

    As another travelling family, we have similar times. Your bit about popping back to the old village but the kids don’t remember it really resonates. It’s so hard that adults can be nourished by a once-a-year (or more or less) big catch-up but that kids find that pattern so very different. At the moment I’m trying not to take SBJ to my catch-ups with adult friends who I don’t see often (this is a new thought and means mostly that I just haven’t seen any of those lately!) because he falls in love with everyone he spends an afternoon with and then it’s just one more goodbye 🙁

    Much love to you as you navigate the waters. xx

  • Natalie @ little jam pot life 30 July, 2015 at 9:01 am

    Absolutely relate to this and the way you write is fantastic, I love the honesty, it’s a funny thing social media and Internet, I tend to photograph something that’s looking rather dapper in my tidy corner of my kitchen rather than the massacre of cereals spread across the floor, or loo rolls unraveled to the core – no joke. Or the fact that I feel like a zombie (no one wants to see that lol)

    Shitty days are an occurrence but I guess we need them to feel thankful for the good days?

    We have Regular talks about how things are effecting the little ones, are we doing a good enough job etc. it’s tough but a learning curve all the same, I hope! Xxx

  • Emma 30 July, 2015 at 9:36 am

    We are there too. All jumbly and bumpy. I turn to nature, commit to spend more time with her with my children, away from the hustle bustle socialising and just *being* – it seems nature soothes enough to see more clearly. I hope even if you don’t publish more like the above that you’ll still write privately some of the above because it sounded like it clarified the emotions more and no doubt will aid feeing better. Nice to hear reality. You inspire in more ways than you realise.

  • Nicola Hulks 30 July, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Amazingly, brilliantly and refreshingly honest. Thank you!

  • Jenna 30 July, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Really really refreshing read…………same probs here in Harrogate…xxx

  • Laurie 30 July, 2015 at 11:34 am

    really, really encouraging read. Thank you for your honesty Lucy. Though I’m sorry that things are tough right now, I’m really glad you shared. Sometimes I think social media does make us think we’re all failures, when it’s actually that we’re comparing our up and down life to other lifes filled with ups without the downs which is not (the full) reality. Hoping things improve, and that you find a way to navigate through the questions, changes and challenges.

  • Julie Baker 30 July, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Thank you so much for having the guts to be so honest Lucy. I confess I’m guilty of believing the perception of the internet and often envy you your idyllic life, imagining perfect parenting with children who never have tantrums, always wondering where I’m going wrong. So it’s heartwarming to hear that you’re also only human and doing the best you can like the rest of us. You’re a wonderful parent and your girls are very lucky. This is just a little hiccup (littlies always seem to react to a change of routine, regardless of how exciting and adventurous it is) and you’ll soon be back to normal xxx

  • xanthe 30 July, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    Indeed! Come and share some cheer up giggles with my mucky crew in New Cross while you’re over lovely lady and little ones!!!

  • Mary Firth 30 July, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Peckham Multiplex is amazing! I miss it so much! Even up here in the poverty stricken north cinemas cost way more than that!

  • Molly 30 July, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    Oh Lucy I just LOVE this post. In fact, I think of all the posts you’ve ever written this is my favourite. I absolutely know what you mean about the internet sometimes giving us a warped perception of things. In fact, when we’re having one of those days I try really hard not to go online too much because I just can’t stand seeing picture perfect lives when ours isn’t like that. Sometimes though, when I don’t know what’s best for myself, I can’t help it – the urge to peek at Instagram and compare my life to the pretty pictures on there is like the urge to pick a scab or something. I love the internet though because it gives me posts like this. It helps us share stuff that we might not see behind closed family doors – the mum at the park with the beautifully dressed kids probably has the washing up in the sink and a tantrumming toddler too but we wouldn’t know about it if she didn’t do a blog on it. I love blogs that let us see all sides of family life and life in general. There are good days and crap days and mundane days, accepting this and being honest about it is what makes a brilliant blog, in my opinion. xxx PS I remember we went through a really intense period when we first moved to Devon two years ago and I blogged about it. And you wrote me the sweetest, non-judgemental, kind comment at the time with some lovely advice. It made me feel much better on a crappy day of tantrums and door slamming xxx

  • Briar 31 July, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    I’m so appreciating this post right now xx

  • Cathy 31 July, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    Oh god I totally get that ‘parents who Put Their Foot Down don’t have these problems’ too.

    It’s hard to keep hold of what you believe sometimes, especially when what you believe in is not the mainstream. Recently I had a friend over and one of my children was not on top form that day. My friend strongly urged me to consider using a reward chart to modify her behaviour.

    They’re not for me, but I didn’t want to feel I had to justify myself as I know she has used reward charts herself and considered them effective and there’s always that line of ‘if I say I don’t do praise and reward and explain why, she will feel judged because she does…’ in the meantime my child’s very unlovely behaviour felt like the elephant in the room, that this ‘wouldn’t happen’ if I used a reward chart.

    I echo the others, it’s reassuring to know that we all struggle sometimes – that’s part of the human condition. I definitely fall into the trap of assuming picture-perfect families are perfect on the inside too.

    Accepting children as they are is hard work when how they are doesn’t fit in with our ideals, but that’s the challenge of unconditional parenting and I guess that’s what makes it less popular than mainstream parenting.

    It’s much harder to step back and trust your child, than it is to launch into training methods so that you at least feel you are ‘doing something about it’.

  • The Different Duck 2 August, 2015 at 1:19 am

    What a sad / reassuring post. I completely relate! I think it’s very hard to be completely genuine on the internet, particularly when you’re presenting yourself as ‘you’ rather than under an alias (like I do, because I’m a coward!). Plus, it’s very difficult to be inspirational and honest at the same time. Anyway, I really hope your kids (and you) find your equilibrium soon, and you get a bit of respite. Hugs. The DD xxx

    P.S. – sorry if my recent post contributed to your self-doubt. I’d been thinking a lot about trying to be more respectful recently, and your list was such a perfect way to kick start my campaign – but I fear in my attempts to be honest about the results, I may have come across as a bit critical. Definitely not intended. Honestly, honesty is such a minefield!

  • Adele @ Circus Queen 5 August, 2015 at 3:01 am

    I read this post last week and thought, “Oh yes!” But now I’ve come back to actually say that in a comment. This rings true for me too. I don’t tend to blog when I’m not feeling happy because 1. it’s too difficult and 2. it involves dwelling on things I don’t want to dwell on for longer than I should. That usually means I end up sharing things that are going well or how we worked through things that weren’t going well but I don’t often admit online that, hey, things are not going well. Thanks for sharing this part of your life. It’s encouraging.

  • Hollie 6 August, 2015 at 8:59 am

    Having had said SHITTY Days myself/ourselves of late and questioning just about everything – I thought I’d head over here for some words. Always full of humour, always honest and always packed full of parental, worldly consciousness. I’m SO FRIGGIN GLAD I DID. (Ps – I love that you’re my go-to person for this. Thank you tinternet for helping build and connect such tribes eternally grateful!)

    You see we’ve just packed up our lives in Edinburgh and are on a jolly jaunt around Europe. Yip just like that! EEEEEK! Popped our 2nd baby out 11 weeks ago and are now 3 weeks into an adventure that is as spontaneous as it gets. As in, there are NO SET PLANS!! Not even a jotted map on a piece of paper with some red ink dotted lines. Nope. Totally winging it. And putting a tonne of pressure on AirBNB to deliver the goods with only a few days to go til we decide where to go next. (Currently in Nantes, France btw)

    Anyway. The point is that 3 weeks into this epic spontaneous adventure we’re realising what we may have gotten ourselves into. As a duo this would have been testing, fun but testing but with a toddler about to turn 3 this week and an 11 week old, winging it isn’t quite so easy. There are SO many emotions! We’re pretty much a logger heads with our toddler every minute of everyday it seems and we’re darn tired of it to say the least – not least for her sake alone! The worst part is that for someone who’s all about gentle parenting I felt like I total hypocrite – floundering under my own lack of patience and raised fractious words. (Not cool)

    The irony is that this adventure was hopefully going to get us closer to nature and a slower (eventually) pace of life. As we are well aware everyone is MUCH happier in said environment. But right now I’m not sure where, when, how we can achieve any of this.

    So yes, my Instagram may look sweet on occasion. Cos sometimes it is. What a blessing to be on a jolly jaunt after all. But somedays it is, just, SHIT!

    (Ps – hope you all manage to get back into a groove soon.) xxx

    • Hollie 6 August, 2015 at 9:03 am

      PPS – In recent months I found sharing the not so great parts of motherhood/parenthood really cathartic. It’s helped me no end! And I’ve found another tribe of beautiful women (check out Motherhood Rising) sharing not just the beautiful yummy bits but also the tear your hair out bits and it’s so bleedin refreshing not to mention like a lovely big cosy shoulder of reassurance.

  • Laurenne Hopkins 12 August, 2015 at 10:02 am

    I was wondering how you were finding being back in England – whether you were loving being back in the land of wifi or whether or not you preferred having it situationally restricted like in NZ. I’m a Facebook bum at the moment, mainly due to being under a feeding baby for hours each day but when we are away in our caravan I do really like when I’m forced to switch off from social media for a while, it is one hell of a time sap!

    I love this post (not because you guys are having a tough time, that is rubbish and I hope it gets better soon!) but because it makes me feel normal when we have shitty days too! It’s been a pretty intense few years for you and I’m sure it will all settle down when you are back home and putting down roots on your land.
    We are going through a similar intense period with our little man being born, and our girls having to adjust to that, and to have a newly tired and not very patient shoutier than she’d like to be mummy (baby boy having had health concerns has hit me a bit more than I realised and then there’s the general newborn craziness). Things are so so wonderful, and I’m so euphorically content most of the time, but as you say, some days are just shit too.

    Nice to know we are not alone in that. Hugs and enjoy the rest of your time with your family (and if you guys are ever up these parts while you are in England, we’re near Sheffield, do let us know and stop by for chats / play / food / cake!) x

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    […] a lot of passion, effort, thoughts and time in all honesty, so i totally relate to this. Lulastic – Keeping it real Thought provoking, honest and real! I can totally relate, and Lucy hits the nail on the head. […]