The Elderberries have ripened

Wed 13th September
The elderberries have ripened

Even though it’s raining, bucketing down huge deluges of splash power showers that soak in seconds, I feel a sense of relief that summer is over. I have no feeling, numbness and extreme tiredness has hit me again.
I want to melt into the floor, close my eyes, let the torrent of slumber take me over.

I know this is a sign to take heed, I need to keep myself well for my girls and for me; but this summer has been monumentally painful and pain filled.

I realize that I have been gritting my teeth and powering on through, trying to have fun, providing enjoyment for my family, always looking for things to do with the long summer days – and escaping at every opportunity.

There are countless triggers to my grief during the summer months and I need to do everything that I can to avoid this next year – our wedding anniversary, my eldest’s birthday, Kevin’s death, summer camping trips and general summer fun – it all brings pain on a daily basis.
Thursdays, the number thirteen, music, buskers, dreadlocks, visits to Wales, Kevin’s friends, I can’t escape it. Even the smell in the air and the play of dappled summer sunshine though the trees brings the flood of memories and the excruciating reminder of loss.
I’ve still got Christmas to deal with, which I am already dreading but I’m not going to venture there just yet.
It’s all about being in the now.

The really good thing about this time of year is all the foraging potential. We’ve been feasting on blackberries and now the elderberries weigh heavy and fertile on the elder trees. It is said that our English Summer has not truly arrived until the Elder is in flower, and that it ends when the berries are fully ripe (Grieve, M., A Modern Herbal).
I love the Elder, Sambucus nigra; generous of nature, it is forever giving. In the early spring it provides the key ingredient for my green ointment, the leaves and young buds are picked, along with others to be used for this traditional healing balm “for all kinds of tumours, swellings and wounds [Grieves, 1973, p270]

During our Nature Therapy session, which is essentially a combination of mindfulness and bushcraft in the woods, we were huddled up under our makeshift canopy, trying not very successfully to get a bunch of damp sticks to light. A lot of smoke, huffing and puffing later, we had a very miniature fire going. The plan was to make elderberry cordial, but due to damp smoky fire of very little heat, we made barely warm elderberry concoction. It was good though and hopefully helped to fight off any encroaching chills from our foray into the great outdoors. Elderberries are high in vitamin C and are a brilliant preventative against flu and the common cold. Bring on the elderberries.

At this time of year I would usually make elderberry wine, but I just can’t find the energy. I did however make elderberry jam and we’ve had elderberries in many a crumble this season.

Thursday 14 September 2017
Well that was helpful

My lover decided that it was time to tackle the problem of my youngest’s resistance to his charms. He planned a chat, “It’s time, we can’t continue like this, trust me, I know what I’m doing.”
I’ve been a little anxious about it all, truth be told, ‘the chat’ was planned for 7pm, “tell the children”, he says – what I was meant to tell them, I’m still unsure.
He works with adults all the time but children are truly a different story…

He arrived at 1pm, expecting my attentions as he had an unexpected day off. It was a rare day that I had devoted to catching up on mounting work issues – I had loads of jobs planned. Actually, as it turned out, I hadn’t done any of said ‘planned jobs’ as I had not long got back from the Children’s Hospital with my eldest where we had been referred after visiting the Walk In Centre that morning, for potential concussion.

My daughter had been stepped on by a friend, in the woods, in a forest in Scotland, and had subsequently knocked her head. Complaints of headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, blurred vision (a list was prepared) and trembling hands meant we had to be referred to a neuro consultant. I am watching all of this, fully aware that, deep down, the underlying cause for these symptoms is extreme anxiety and a desperation for someone to listen to her and take her complaints seriously.
How is it that when I phone the self referral line for mental health support, reporting concerns of self harm, anxiety, constant cries for help and a child’s desire to access counseling, that I’m told there are not enough indicators to merit being included in the system. But when there is a threat of a physical problem, she is taken seriously?

My daughter is suitably comforted by the attention of the consultant, the stringent tests, and being truly and deeply listened to. En route back to school, I see her tears and I divert homeward; she goes straight to bed. I want to go straight to bed, but I hop on up to my office to deal with pressing work related issues, which are mounting up. Not long into my ascent, doorbell rings and lover presents. He is urgent, loving, professing love, needing love.
I need to work, my daughter is upstairs, what is this about?

He is urgent about this chat, the meeting, he needs to have the ‘conversation’ I’m not entirely sure what it’s about, I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell my youngest, but I do, after school, whilst shopping at the Tesco. She wants a new pair of boots, which I say sure, after ‘the chat’ – she explodes, forget the shoes; it’s not going well.

We get home, my lover is downstairs in the kitchen, both girls scoot upstairs, my lover awaits.
My oldest eventually comes down, my youngest doesn’t, she refuses, she is furious. We venture up to her room; she storms out and locks herself in the wardrobe, where she stays whilst my lover, my eldest and I have ‘the chat’.

My youngest is adamant, she wants my lover out, she’s not up for talking, he says he’s not leaving until we’ve had ‘our chat’, she remains in the wardrobe. We wait, we eat dinner, my youngest refuses to eat, refuses even to leave the wardrobe, we wait some more.

Moral of the story – don’t take on an eleven year old and assume victory. I have one child who refuses any confrontation and will not talk and one child who is desperate to talk and be listened to.
My lover left, again, threatening never to return. All the criticism I face for my daughter’s behavior, the advice, the suggestions to ‘be the adult’ – I think he is finally getting a measure of the magnitude of it all.

Myself, I am left to pick up the pieces of this ever so intense experiment. He has left the building and I am left a wreck. I am mother, father, disciplinarian, housekeeper, homemaker, breadwinner, listener, counselor, wise woman and crazy woman, fun lover, rule maker and rule breaker; peacemaker.

And actually, we have found our peace; my lover’s efforts to impose his agenda were not in vain. I’ve had ‘a chat’, not ‘the chat’ with my youngest, my oldest has had her say and we three have emerged together, stronger, a team, professing and promising and stating intentions to love, cherish, respect, move forward together and to stop battering each other (the children, not me).

My lover tried to impose his needs and his voice. He felt strongly about expressing his intentions, he pushed, but she pushed back.
For us, not a lot has changed, we’re still carrying on, but perhaps my lover pushed too hard, and now he has lost out.

Where as before, we had all agreed to him staying over one night a week, now he has no nights.

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