The Smile Files

The Smile Files – September 2018

Maybe it’s because I’m a September baby, but I usually love September, it is one of my favourite months. Although I’m always sad to say goodbye to the summer holidays, I love the new year feeling with the start of a new school year, the weather shifting, the return of boots and snuggly jumpers, the colours, the getting back to routine, pumpkin spiced everything and the very faint whiff of Christmas in the distance.

This year though, September you have been a bit rubbish to be honest. If I were to write you a report, it would definitely say, poor effort, must try harder.

It started off so well, Dave had surprised me with a night away in Stratford-upon-Avon for my birthday so that’s where I woke up on the first day of September. We had such a lovely relaxed couple of days while the girls stayed with Grandma and Grandad and after a summer that was honestly great but at times also felt relentless and full of illness, it was exactly what we needed. We just really relaxed, went on a boat on the river, ate so much delicious food, laughed a lot and realised we still do actually really like each other (thank god!)

The next day was a fake birthday for me, I was thoroughly spoilt by everyone, we went out for breakfast then took the kids to the park and we had a huge pizza delivery to save me from cooking for the family get together. So far, so good September.

The next day was my actual birthday – 44 years on earth if you are interested, does sound a bit middle aged doesn’t it,though I’m not too concerned by the numbers as I’m too aware growing older is a privilege not everyone gets to enjoy. Maybe this is where it all started to go wrong, but after 6 weeks off for summer, this was the day I had to drop the kids off at childcare (less painful than expected, no tears – from the kids anyway!) and go back to work (which was why I chose to celebrate the day before instead!) And not just back to work, but following a merger of two school sites, to a whole new school for me, that as it turned out was still a chaotic building site. The day was spent trying not to listen as people squabbled over where desks and filing cabinets would go, getting absolutely nothing done as I didn’t have a desk or a working computer and wondering how on earth things would be ready for students to arrive in just 2 days (as it happens it all turned out fine in the end, but not the most fun birthday I’ve ever had – though not the worst either, but that’s another story!)

That first week back left me feeling shattered, at first I thought it was just going back to work tiredness and getting back into the early morning routine of 6am alarm clocks and I was in bed every night by 8pm. After a good start back at childcare, there were soon tears from the younger two, especially Freya at nursery and with worries about Milly heading off to university in a couple of weeks, I just thought I was a bit rundown with everything going on. By the first weekend I realised I was coming down with something, no doubt the same thing Dave had (at this point he had had a horrendous cough for over 2 weeks) but we were booked in to do a colour run with Sienna to raise funds for our local hospitals (something we signed up for after Freya had an emergency stay in hospital with a croup attack, as the entire staff we came into contact with were nothing short of brilliant). I wasn’t going to let Sienna down, so we dosed ourselves up with medication and managed the 5k colour run (which was actually a lot of fun and something I will definitely want to do again!)

The second week, I was still feeling rubbish, but Dave’s cough was thankfully improving. Just in time, as he was booked in for an operation, a fairly minor procedure for a urethral stricture that has caused him problems for years (but recently got a lot worse) but required a general anaesthetic and he needed a catheter for a few days afterwards. I did my best to keep everything going, though in truth I was feeling poorly and it was very much just the essential stuff. Fortunately Dave’s op was a huge success, and he recovered well once the catheter was finally removed, and the issues he had (basically not being able to wee properly or empty his bladder) seem totally resolved for now (though we know there is a possibility the problem will recur and require a more serious op).

Before I knew it, it was time for Milly to leave for university. Until you have been through it as a parent, it is hard to describe the mix of emotions you feel when your child is heading off to university, but the best I can do is say it is a mix of pure terror and dread mixed in with immense pride and excitement for them. When the day dawned, I was feeling really ill, but it’s not the sort of thing you can put off till you are feeling better so the car was packed, the three youngest girls were despatched to Grandma and Grandad’s and off to Lincoln we went. It’s a lovely city, we had a good day settling her in, stocking up on food for her, her accomodation is great and everything went smoothly. But then of course we had to actually leave her. I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it is, it goes against absolutely every parenting instinct but eventually you just have to leave them there. In a strange city, where they know no-one. There were tears, many tight hugs, a few laughs as I did what I always do at such emotional times and made ridiculous jokes and then suddenly we were on the way home. Without her. How would she cope on her own? How would I cope without her? Well, I’m not going to lie, it’s not always been easy, there is so much worry as they strike out really on their own for the first time. But she is doing ok. Loving her course and Lincoln, making friends, though sometimes feeling lonely and missing familiarity which is only to be expected.

The next day I was feeling more ill than I can remember feeling in such a long time. I took to my bed, and the day after phoned in sick to work (I’m honestly never off ill!) At the doctor’s (I also never go to the doctors other than for routine stuff, so those closest to me were a bit concerned!!) I was prescribed antibiotics for a chest infection and after a week off work feeling horrid (the first time in my whole working life I’ve ever had to take a week off) I finally started to get slowly back to ‘normal’ (I use the term loosely, obviously!!)

The rest of the month was pretty quiet with both Dave and I feeling the need to take things slower than normal, but by the end of the month we managed a night out with friends to celebrate a birthday. I only had a few drinks (honest!) but was feeling a bit tipsy when we got home (I’m always a lightweight when it comes to drinking to be fair!) and managed to fall over in my bedroom, landing on the sharp corner of my bedside table, ending up with a nasty gouge in my back and a massive black bruise on my bum. I was tipsy so thought it was quite funny but the next morning realised it was actually quite bad! And so September ended up with me barely able to sit down, how annoying! The pressure is off October, surely you can do better than this!!

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