Since starting work again I've been feeling pretty sad about not being able to keep up my blog and the creative projects that go with it. We have also moved house, to a lovely big house, but that is rented and lacking in personality – I have been so desperate to inject some personality into this place but honestly don't have the time and certainly not the money.
When browsing some beautiful blogs for the first time in a long while the other day I started to feel more and more down, especially the 'mummyblogs'. These women bake, cook and sew, they do beautiful craft projects with their children and live in the most beautiful homes. They use their fancy cameras to take beautiful pictures of their beautiful children doing beautiful things, and my heart aches to have a life like theirs!
I've been feeling more and more down about how un-cath kidtson my life is, how if I even had the time to bake cakes I wouldn't be able to enjoy them because I am constantly on a diet, but even if I wasn't my cakes would not be at all worthy of the camera! Even if said cake were worthy of the camera, the back-drop – my very un-cath kidston kitchen – would not create the vision of perfect domestic bliss required. The more I thought about this the more upset I became about how far my home was from those on the TV or in the pages of magazines.
Even my garden, despite my huge excitement about finally having one, has been neglected since I've started working again. My hanging baskets have seen drought that has pushed them to the edge of viability, and my newly planted herb garden is quickly being taken over by weeds. Certainly not the backdrop for a beautiful toddlers tea party with bunting and fairy cakes, there will be no Annabel Carmel style picnic shots being taken in this garden.
I really was feeling rock bottom about all of this, I no longer felt able to compete, especially not as a resident of Hove Actually (Portslade Really!). Even though I now have the space to entertain the NCT group, I won't be wowing any of them with my beautiful stylish abode– no quirky personalised touches in this home, no vintage framed film posters or montages of arty black and white photos against these magnolia wood chip walls, and to be honest I have been feeling really rather stressed about it all.
But then this evening, just as I was getting stroppy because my toddler, husband and teenage step-son had dared to 'live' in our home, therefore setting the whole process of washing up, cleaning and hoovering, rolling all over again, I took a minute out and sat down for a short while to watch a programme I had been recommended by a friend – 'Poor Kids' on BBC2.
This programme followed 3 children who live in poverty, here in the UK. I know we have this drummed into us all the time, but for some reason on this occasion this particular programme struck a cord so deep in side I started to feel a little sick. In fact it touched me so deeply that when I tried to tell my husband about it I spent several minutes sobbing before I could even start to explain it to him.
These children, and too many like them, live in conditions you and I would feel ill to spend just a few minutes in. One little girls bedroom was so damp and mouldy her mattress was actually wet and had mould growing on the underside. Another child was lucky to get one meal a day and that was usually just a 'steak slice' of the kind you might buy in a petrol station. And these are not the children of child abusers, or drug addicts, these are the children of loving parents. Parents who may not look after their children the way you or I may think they should, but simply because they spend their every waking moment trying to work out how they will pay the bills, their debts and feed their family. Who has time to think about, or even care about, running the hoover round when your trying to work out how you will afford to keep the gas heater running long enough to keep your baby warm at night. How can you wash your children's clothes when you can't afford to fix a broken washing machine, or the cost of a trip to the laundrettes, and how can you dry those clothes when your flat is so damp you can't hang it near the edges of the room for fear of it going mouldy.
Even if you had the time to spend trying to be a better a parent, how do you lift your self out of the depression that comes with living in an area most of us wouldn't want to go anywhere near for five minutes let alone a lifetime, in a house full of mould living on a diet of junk food. How do you shake off a depression that comes from spending your childhood in that exact same poverty stricken misery and now watching your own children stuck in the same cycle with little or no hope of ever getting out.
Just imagine the heartbreak of knowing your child's asthma and ill health is caused by the home you live in and that there is nothing you can do about it. Imagine knowing that your child is getting bullied at school because he smells, but you can't afford the gas to run the boiler for a bath or to wash his school uniform.
We so often judge parents who let their children run the streets, but in so many cases these children have no safe place to play outside at all. They can't afford toys to play with inside either, so their only form of entertainment is to roam the streets looking for things to do. Whilst my little boy goes to an expensive private nursery (and boy do I moan about that!) other children play in condemned derelict houses with rotting floor boards and broke stair cases. Whilst I take my little boy into town to the library or swimming, these children hang around outside their high rise flats rooting through rubbish bags and finding hypodermic needles. Whilst I moan and stress when my car fails its MOT and I can't afford to have it fixed, these children's parents can't even afford to get on a bus to go and explore the small world around them, let alonethe wider world. These children really will never play in the sand on a beach, swim in the sea, ride a bike through a forest or swing on a rope swing across a river – all things I take for granted that my little boy will do. But its not even the big things like this that matter, its taking for granted our clean clothes, our clean beds, our hot water and our central heating.
Right now children are trying to sleep in dirty mouldy smelly beds, cold and hungry. Whilst here I am sitting in my lovely comfy bed with clean sheets in my clean pyjamas, with my clean, healthy and well fed baby tucked up in his clean and damp free bedroom in his cosy cot. My husband is down stairs dozing in front of the TV on a comfy sofa.
I wonder now what right I have to complain about anything at all.