Friday, 22 April 2011

Supporting role

I've been a rubbish tweeter to follow just recently. If you do follow me on Twitter, then right now, I apologise for most of the last week. I don't tend to blog about it a lot tho I did post this last week when I was feeling a bit rubbish but things got worse. I really don't know why - well, not fully. I was feeling under the weather anyway, but sometimes, social media just doesn't help. A lovely friend of mine tweeted at the end of last week that Twitter brings out the worst in her, and to some extent, I feel that has been true of me recently. If I'm feeling down, and tweet about it, the kind responses I get from the supportive people who I'm proud to call my Twitter friends just make me well up. I guess I realise I am not being totally kind to myself in those moments and people being kind to me just bring that into sharper contrast than usual.

I'm feeling better now although I still have my moments. Some of the intervening time has seen me pondering what it is that is wrong. I've come to a conclusion and it's an uncomfortable one for me to make. It's this - I don't have enough real support in my life.

That sounds shocking and it sounds like I'm critical of the support that I do have, but it's not. The real life support I have is great. However, my husband works shifts, and I'm not particularly close to immediate family. My inlaws provide support of the childcare sort, but what they can offer is severely limited by the fact that my father in law is still recovering from an operation at the moment, meaning they are less mobile and less able to look after the children. In the current situation, I feel I should hold back from asking them unless I desperately need it.
Photo credit: asifthebes

That, still, is not the crux of the problem. This time last year, when I first started this blog, I was still in the NCT years. Whatever people think of the organisation, my local branch was a great source of support to me. I regularly attended coffee mornings, which might sound horrendous to you but were really just a group of other mums that became my friends who all had children of similar ages, who you could chat to about things and let off steam. All our children knew each other and we just met in each other's houses or at playcentres in term time.

Now, however, I am really beyond the target audience of the regular activities they offer because Monkey and Missy Woo are at school now and I miss that. Some of them do invite me to turn up to theirs on coffee mornings but their main sessions clash with my classes at the gym, and selfish that I am, I like to keep those up as I am working towards a goal. I have been to the odd coffee morning without children and it's odd (although slightly nice that you have no children to pester you for another biscuit or that would decide to fight with the other children over who's playing with a particular toy!). I'm still in touch with some of those mums but things are different now.  And the gym? Not really a source of support. I turn up, do my class and go home again.

Support just doesn't seem to exist for parents of school children who are at home during the day - or if it does, it's very rare or limited. I do know some other parents at school but there is no regular place for us to meet and chat. By necessity, a lot of them are working, either full- or part-time. I need to work too but what is best for our family is a job that is flexible and allows me to be around for the children which means working from home where possible. I've started a business recently and already have a client but it means that the business will, by necessity, mean being quite remote from my clients a lot of the time.

And what of tweeting and blogging? I've made some lovely supportive friends through doing both, and I'm very proud they consider me their friend too. I've been lucky enough to meet some of them in real life. They are there for me and I hope I'm there for them. But geography gets in the way as there's no-one nearby I can turn to and say "fancy a coffee?" at a moment's notice and meet for a chat. And, at times, when I've been busy toiling away on this blog, I jump back into twitter, only to end up feeling like I've turned up sober to a party late, everyone else is a little tipsy and having a great time and barely noticed I'm there. Then, more so than ever, I feel like the odd one out, a bit invisible and not sure how to join in the fun.

Although I'm feeling better now, I don't really know if there is a solution to the situation that I'm in to stop it happening again. My sounding boards aren't there. Sometimes, we all need someone that we can meet for coffee, let off steam, and share things. Much as I love my Twitter friends, and the comments from the lovely people that read my blog (ie you), I've decided the support I need most needs to be around me. And it's not there. I feel slightly sad about that.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this. Have you felt the same as me? Do you feel the same as me? Have you found the answer, and if so, what is it? 

Finally, I really do appreciate the support I get from everyone here and on Twitter. Some people have gone out of their way to support me this week and make sure that I'm OK. They know who they are, and I've said thank you to them all, but thanks again. If nothing else, social media HAS enriched my life.

I just want you all to move down the road so I can visit for a hug sometimes. I can make cake. Deal?
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