(Can’t Get No) Sleep

Insomnia is the tricksy little creature that hides itself in the shadows and unfurls to taunt me at about 2am every single night. It peels itself from the bedroom wall, all sinewy limbs and long curling fingers and, slowly, it swallows me up.

I’m wide awake except I’m not. My eyes stare but they’re blank because my mind is so, so tired. My thoughts race except they don’t because even they don’t have the energy after so many hours of awakeness.

2am is not the time to mentally right the wrongs of the world. Nor is 3am. Or 4am…

I pull back a corner of the curtain and peer outside at the world, everyone is asleep or in darkness and I stare and I stare. Sometimes a star blinks at me, pulling my glance up over the houses and into the sky. I look at the darkened windows of the old couple that live directly opposite, curtains never fully closed, a vase of fresh flowers always open on the windowsill. I look at the house on the corner with the dog and the front gate that swings open and closed with a creak and a thud in the wind. I look through the darkness at the trees springing into leaf and the cats that prowl and fight and climb and jump. Sometimes there’s a fox.

Insomnia takes me by the hand and somehow I brush my feet lightly over all of the floorboards that creak and find myself under the dazzling kitchen lights, mug in hand, not totally sure what I’m doing because what’s the time? How many hours until morning? Birds are starting to sing and there’s a gentle blue glow to the sky and I’m just so, so tired.

It’s the meds. It’s always something. It’s me trying, alone, to drag my withdrawing body off something that (I don’t think) it needs any longer, something that does more harm than good. Only it’s never straightforward, it means shaving tablets down to smaller and smaller doses and pretending that the dizziness isn’t really happening and I’m okay, really I’m okay, more to convince myself than anyone else. It’s realising that one glass of wine is bordering on too much when mixed with whatever drug I’m crumbling into myself every morning. It’s slowly welcoming the feelings back after years of numbness and being half excited and half terrified because this all feels so new. And I’m so tired.

Curled up on the sofa, even stood still for longer than a minute, if I allowed my eyes to close I would be asleep in an instant. Sometimes I nap if I’m blessed with a three year old who choses to do the same. Most of the time I have Things To Do.

I do all of the things and then I beat myself up about all of the things that I can’t do and my mind runs away with itself while my eyes try to focus through the sleeplessness.

I pull the edge of the curtain back and look again at the world. I can hear the wind blowing through the trees and the streetlight burns it’s yellow light out across the road and I look and I look and I sit and I wait, lost in the fear of what tomorrow might bring.

As slowly and as silently as it arrived, insomnia will creep off me and languidly stretch itself back into the shadows as I lay prone in the darkness, wrapped tightly in the duvet, waiting. As soon as I fall into a dream filled sleep I’m awake again because ‘morning time Mummy!’ and another day begins. Whether I’m ready or not.


To whoever climbed the green, slippery wood of my garden gate to prise the reflector panels from the back of the car for whatever reason, cheers. That was pretty selfish really wasn’t it? Pointless too, unless you’re planning on stealing our car tiny piece by tiny piece, in which case, good luck to you.

Selfish is the idiot who pushed my three year old out of the way in the supermarket so that he could get the last four bagels from the shelf before I got my hands on them, the people who drop their rubbish all over the street rather than making a vague effort to find a bin, people who don’t clean up after their dogs, who lie, who refuse to give up their seat on the bus for an elderly woman.

The politicians who show lack of compassion and understanding with every single cut that they make, every figure that they skew, the people who cut queues and climb into the taxi you just flagged down, three year olds…All selfish.

If there is one thing that I have learned in my life, it’s not to judge. Because that person who just pushed into the twenty deep queue that hasn’t moved in hours could be a total dick or they could have their own stuff going on, their own reasons for their actions. So could anyone. We’re all human and we’re all shockingly quick to judge at times, and as much as I seethe or wince when someone commits some heinous act of selfishness I know that I don’t know them or their stories and so proffer the benefit of the doubt carry on with my life.

When someone lays in a hospital bed or a care home or in their families arms or on cold concrete, as they close their eyes and exhale the last exhale of their life, it is the least selfish thing. Everyone who dies has lived; everyone has battled or suffered or fought or tried. Laughed, cried, and dreamed.

It’s still easier isn’t it? To accept that physical illness can kill.

Suicide isn’t a choice. It’s something that happens because a disease has consumed your whole body and mind and emotionally, physically, there is no way that you can continue to exist. There is no choosing to die or cowardliness or selfishness, just inevitability and necessity, an illness that like many others, that has proved fatal.

The very nature of death is that it leaves people behind; people who have to grieve and pick up the pieces and to try to keep going without someone that they love deeply. However death finds someone, that is what it leaves in its wake, whether it comes suddenly or unexpectedly or after years and years of pain.

So, you know what? To all of the people who have ever commented ‘selfish cow’ or ‘how could they?’ about someone who has lost their lives to suicide, remember that that person was a human with an illness and a favourite pair of shoes and excruciating pain and a favourite song and the total inability to breathe another breath.


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I think I had been waiting for March since December.

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For the sunshine and that extra hour in the evenings that isn’t yet filled with sunshine but is still somehow enough to give me slight jet-lag.

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For ice creams at the park (and foot stomping tantrums as we leave), trees bursting back into life and days spent outside, just sitting and being. Branches heavy with blossom and air heavy with fog and new beginnings.

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Asked for the first time in as long as I can remember ‘what do you really, really want to do right now?’ and realising that there was only one answer on my lips and that it was, without a doubt, the only answer that there could ever be.

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Opening my eyes to new things so familiar it’s like they’ve always been there…And one of the best I Love Yous that I have ever been given.

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All About Amy

Three year olds, eh?


Bloody hell.

*pours large glass of brandy*

I am fiercely proud of my three year old wonder, all babyish round cheeks and vehement vigour pouring from determined eyes. Her timid shyness, her determination, the way she will place one chubby little hand over my mouth if I’ve been talking to anyone that isn’t her for longer than she approves of.

I love the way that she sees the world and I love the world that is only hers to see, the one that exists nowhere but inside her mind where she is queen and her toys talk and run and jump and the only limits are those of her imagination. Only recently has she developed attachments to teddy bears and although her favourites change almost daily she will pick up last weeks best friend and embrace it as if they had never been parted.

Sat astride my hip, one hand through the hair at the nape of my neck and the other clutching Amy. Amy the IKEA rabbit who I frequently have to hold animated conversations with, Amy who is ‘actually quite very soft and tuggley really’ and who is easily the naughtiest inanimate object I’ve ever met because ‘it wasn’t me Mummy, Amy did doing that and now he is sad because he is very naughty. Naughty Amy. Tell him off Mummy.’  …Amy is also a boy.

Amy becomes the subject of a typical three year old exchange with the friendly bloke behind the shop counter. Shyly at first – but only at first – she looks out from beneath her golden fringe and tells him Amys name and that Farver Kissmass bringed him for her, and I have one of Those Moments because woah, I am a parent to this little chocolate eyed creature and she’s so grown and wonderful and I’m so proud of this madcap conversation that I am a spectator to.

‘Amy did bouncing all the way here because rabbits are good at bouncing.

I can do bouncing too.

And then he ate some carrots because rabbits like carrots and I was giving him carrots in the car.

But Amy doesn’t eat carrots…He eats bones.’


Amazing how abruptly a conversation can end, isn’t it?

Alongside the imagination and the bone eating and the mispronunciations is the unbridled emotion, my god, the EMOTION. Passionate and wild, and the most unpredictable thing that I have ever encountered. It doesn’t just drip or slowly build, oh no, it smacks full force and all at once and out of nowhere, it sucks the air from the room and the breath from my body with its sheer potency.

The life of a three year old, as amazing and fun and easy as it all seems on the surface must actually be pretty frustrating. Such a desperate desire to do all of the things and do them by myself and on her own terms and so many nos and be carefuls and please sweetheart, no more grabbing Mummys boobs and shouting BEEP BEEP in public it’s not nice. I understand that she gets cross, I really do. I understand and I envy the absolute contempt that she greets her dinner with because WHY IS THE JUICE IN THE BLUE CUP I WANT THE RED CUP AND OMG THE PEAS ARE TOUCHING THE POTATO MY LIFE IS RUINED.

I get it, but I have no idea what to do with it – with her- when she turns into this flailing ball of palpable emotion or anger or fear or rage or frustration or love. I admire it and I admire the tears that stream down her pink cheeks when she laughs so, so hard or when she is just so happy that they cannot be contained.

It’s the other stuff that scares me a bit.

I can’t remember the last time that I dealt with my own fear or anger or sadness in any way that wouldn’t have a psychotherapist carving ‘unhealthy’, ‘self-loathing’ or ‘destructive’ with black biro and wiry handwriting onto a crisp sheet of A4.

So how on earth do I teach her to deal with hers?

BiB2014writerNom All About Amy *hopeful glance*
The BiB awards are open for nominations and I would absolutely love one of yours
*sweet smile* 

*Win* How To Catch A Star by Oliver Jeffers

Reading a book aloud before bed is easily one of my favourite moments of every day; snuggled tightly and sharing the words and pouring over the pictures of a good book is the best tonic to a manic day of preschool variety non-stop crazy. I have my favourites and she has hers and sometimes, if I’m really lucky, we both fall in love with the same book.

How To Catch A Star is a sweet and simple story full of imagination and beautiful illustrations and it is a firm mutual favourite.

hot to catch a star win 1024x961 *Win* How To Catch A Star by Oliver Jeffers

The publication of How to Catch a Star in 2004 heralded the arrival of a captivating new talent on the picture book scene. Now beloved by children all over the world, the book has achieved huge critical and commercial success. Oliver and HarperCollins are proud to mark the 10th anniversary in style with this exquisite gift edition, including a letter from the author and previously unpublished drawings.

Celebrate the anniversary and really immerse children into the story with these free printable activity sheets including dot to dot, a maze, a mobile and illustrations to colour. Click here to download!

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Win a hardcover 10th anniversary copy of the book as well as a set of glow in the dark stars, a How to Catch a Star poster and a special How to Catch a Star USB stick loaded with printable activity sheets and a Meet Oliver Jeffers video!

To enter, simply name another Oliver Jeffers book – *pssst* click here for a clue! – using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Competition closes on 7th April 2014. Open to UK entrants only.
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