Aging like a fine wine…

Or an oxidized one. Really it’s anyone’s guess at this point, how the face will look after a few more years.

Six years ago I was a fresh faced ogre and today I look like a worse for wear hipster. And I don’t quite know what I feel about either state. All I know is that I feel more and more comfortable in my own skin with each passing year. I never liked being young, and I suppose the classic G. B. Shaw quote is right about me: “Youth is wasted on the young”. It is and it was.

I spent most of my youth with severe and untreated panic attacks. I was paralyzed from fear and OCD. I had so much trouble just getting up out of bed that making it anywhere seemed impossible. I made it to a lot of places but in some kind if state. I was never happy, and I can’t say that I am now either. I’m not unhappy, far from it, I’m just not ‘happy’. Maybe the joy I feel is happiness but I just have a strange image in my head of what I think it should be and what I am is just not there.

I have massive amounts of anxiety, I can’t follow through with plans to save my life, I don’t know how to say no and I hate being in public so much it makes me sweat. It’s funny because I like people watching but preferably from a distance. I’m socially awkward and don’t have any particular interests or hobbies.

But I am a good mom. And that makes me proud of myself. I’m an absolute mess as a person and as a human being but as a mom I feel completely comfortable. I love that little boy more than life itself, much like most parents, but it’s due to him that I can feel some pride in me. And him, I am exceptionally proud of him. And I love him beyond anything. So much so that his father got agitated and spewed “You love him more than I have ever seen anyone love anyone else, ever!” As if to insult me.

But I am slowly embarking on a journey to get out of this hellish nightmare I keep living inside of my head. I am writing down the many things that need to change for my wellbeing to improve. I need to stop lying to myself and to others and admit that I don’t feel too confident about the future nor the present. And as for the past, I’m closing the books on that mess for good.

Wish me luck!

Ms. Campbell

Days of thunder… and lightning.

We’ve experienced rolling blackouts. The weather all summer has been extreme, to a point where it’s almost felt a bit ominous. You know like when you’re in a mall around closing time, there’s an eerie feeling about it – like you’ll get locked in and left alone. But much like getting locked into a mall overnight there’s no real bad outcome for you. There may be some collateral damage but you’ll walk out the next morning feeling like you always do, a bit tired and stressed out for no apparent reason.

Stress is getting to me. I have been feeling it mounting up over time but it’s at a point where I can almost touch it now. I’m stressed about work and about the finances, I’m worried that my time is running out and that my options are slimmer now that my hands are a bit tied. I’ve declined work and it’s leaving me with a bittersweet feeling. It was the right thing to do, I made a very good choice turning down an offer that was good – at first glance – but that didn’t pass first inspection.

I’m not in a rush, but the feeling of a suburbanite desperation is coming over me and I’m realizing that I’m about to drown in it if I don’t start swimming soon.

Life is pretty good, outside of work and the fact that I lost my drivers license. 3 months was the verdict. 3 whole months of no driving. So the car sits and so do we. Everything is too far away. It’s too big of a hassle to travel with a baby that is notoriously active. So our stomping ground became very, very small all of a sudden. And while some would see this as an opportunity to learn more about their surroundings I find myself growing bitter instead. A trait I’m not particularly proud of or comfortable with. But here we are, on lockdown for three months. Not a large amount of time in the grand scheme of things but today it hits extra hard. I feel it extra much.

The days pass, even with the bitterness and resentment. Erik has made friends in kindergarten, he’s even flirting with a girl there. They keep flirting and giggling at lunch even tho they sit at different tables. His teachers keep telling me stories and I keep laughing. It’s a most wonderful feeling, knowing that he’s safe and happy even while away from me. Gives a sense of comfort and security.

Other than that I guess it’s all fantastic. My divorce was finally settled and I was awarded sole custody of Erik which made me both happy and proud. Like most things surrounding Erik, I’m so very happy and proud of him and his little shenanigans. He’s a lovely boy and I love watching him grow and develop. It’s a feeling to end all feelings. So much joy and pride and warmth. But also frustration and anger and confusion.

Being a parent, especially a full time single parent, is proving to be a trial of patience and endurance. It’s testing the ability to put yourself in last place while still maintaining a sense of self and worthiness.

On the one hand you’re nothing but a slave and on the other you get to reap huge rewards. It’s not a thankless job but it’s a job that doesn’t pay a dime and the hours are not specified. Some have children who sleep, so the hours are somewhat good but for the ones (like myself) who have children who just don’t know how to sleep you work 24/7 and stress the same hours. You also eat 24/7 and care for yourself on the other hours. You know, the make-belief ones that never come around.

But Erik is happy. I am happy. And if the cost for that is one person’s exhaustion and a slow demise then that is a small price to pay.

Ms. Campbell

30+

Growing up I had big issues with anxiety about death, my own death, which prevented me from planning anything ahead of time. I was convinced that death was just around the corner, waiting to jump in as soon as I was happy.

My biggest win in life, up until then, was to turn 30. I never saw that in my woken nightmares, because 30 meant you had survived the younger years. Someone over 30 was a grownup and I just never thought I would have the privilege to experience that. But I did. Same with children, marriage and many other things that most people take for granted. I never thought I would get to experience any of it, but here I am.

Anyone over 30, for me, has always been a boring old person with boring responsibilities and a look to match. I never wanted to grow old before my time, but I have been forced to in many aspects – never the exterior though. That’s one thing I still can control, how I look. I don’t know, for the most part, how I’m being perceived by the general public but I do know the idea I’m trying to put on display: not an old bat.

I honestly don’t aim higher than that. Some people want to look perfect, tan and made up. Not me, I just don’t want to become that old lady that needs help carrying her groceries. Obviously we’re many years away from that, but I have seen some people my age looking like death came to them last year. And I don’t want to be a part of that crew.

I should watch what I eat, sleep more and take care of my skin and hair. I don’t and am solely relying on genetics. I don’t really have the time, and when I do I spend it doing other things that don’t involve taking care of me. It all comes down to priorities. I don’t have a babysitter, so most of the cleaning that I do around the house is done carrying a screaming baby.

Erik’s been knee deep in one of the leaps, he’s been teething and got his vaccinations which triggered a serious flu – all at the same time. This has been accompanied by my back giving way completely, me getting a flu and custody battles. So the whole sleep, eat, clean schedule has been put on hiatus. I’m happy if I get a shower once a week these days, which may sound gross but that’s because it is.

I have to prioritize other things over me putting on a facemask, or eating a healthy meal. Mostly I just jam any high caloric crap I can find into my mouth when my blood sugar levels are dwindling. So between chocolate, chips and energy sodas I honestly don’t know what it is that gives me such a healthy glow. Jokes aside, genetics really do make all the difference.

I smoke occasionally, I drink more coffee in a day than most do in a week and my stress level is at an all time high yet the skin is looking good. Better than it should, considering both age and treatment. But makeup is becoming a necessity. You can get away with most things but the bags under the eyes, the black garbage bags, are not forgiving. So I cover them with foundation, add some blush and mascara. Today I even slapped on some lipstick, if you’ll believe it.

I mean, if you’re feeling like shit at least you can look like you’re doing somewhat ok. Eyebrows are dyed, lipstick is solid and the two wrinkles I have on the forehead are almost invisible today. I guess, all in all, it’s a pretty decent day. If only life would stop throwing me curveballs for a while, I could maybe have a shot. But for now I enjoy my almost wrinkle free face and soon another cup of coffee with my tiny gentleman who seems to be doing a little bit better today.

Campbell of Sweden

Low arousal approach

So I took the time to check out Bo Hejlskov Elvén’s speech at a conference here in Sweden. I watched it on YouTube while rocking Erik to sleep. I can full honestly say that it was a massive eye opener for me, because the way he explained it all it just made sense.

It is the approach most favored by psychologists and caretakers who deal with aggressive persons. But the way he put it is that the method works well with tough cases which also means that it works super well with a regular child. So reading up on this now makes a lot of sense.

Erik is still too young to understand consequence, he is also not quite there yet in terms of understanding words and sentences. But meeting him on his terms will make both his and my life so much easier, I believe. And threats and bribes often lead nowhere, I have noticed in life. So a low arousal approach is usually the way to go, or it has been for me. And this is also the method I will use when raising my boy.

It appeals to me on several levels and it is something that is proven to work, time and time again. But much like every other parent I will probably have to revise my strategy more often than not. The tiny humans usually have a pretty firm grasp of what they want and what they don’t want. They don’t always know how to go from point A to point B but they will not worry about that while improvising. They learn by making mistakes and I will do my best to try to guide my tiny whale through the jungle of experiences.

There is so much good in the world and I want him to get a taste of that. To really enjoy all the wonderful things out there, meet good people and eat good foods. I want him to take in the sights. But it needs to be on his terms, I’ve already experienced so much good. It will be a treat to pass on the joie de vivre to the tiniest of whales and to see what he does with it. I will share it with the boy who has my heart – my son 💙

Campbell of Sweden

Food and inspiration

I’ve noticed that the tiny whale prefers food items that don’t contain any meat. I still feed him everything but there is a clear preference. I myself keep noticing that I too am moving away from all the meat I dislike, like poultry and pork. I’ve never liked poultry and pork is only ever good when it’s straight from the barbecue. So I’m currently in the process of eating what’s left in the freezer and won’t be restocking the meat drawer for a while. I like beans and I do like red meats so that will be the staples for my protein intake.

As for Le Pudge, he cannot deal with beans so he will continue eating a well rounded diet until his little stomach can process foods that are a bit heavy and then he himself can choose what he eats and doesn’t eat.

This isn’t a declaration of vegetarianism, but rather a note for myself to remember that as an adult I do not have to eat eggs when I find them utterly disgusting. I do not have to force myself to try to like chicken when I haven’t done it ever in my 32 years of eating.

I need to learn even more about veggie based protein so that my diet doesn’t end up lacking a basic part. But no, I am not giving up seafood, fish or red meat. A nice steak beats most things in terms of flavor and overall food experience, if you ask me. But the other stuff, the white meat, I will leave for those who appreciate it.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that beetroot may be a food of the gods. A rekindled flame. Now to learn everything there is to know about food pairing, but I fear everything might be good with le beets.

That dish might be the start of a revolution in this home. Too much goodness on one plate.

Campbell of Sweden

Teething, a hell of its own.

Some kids go through it without too much whining and pain whilst others go through hell. But as it’s often been said, if you’re going through hell – keep going. So we do.

Mr Pudgy the whale is having a shitty time teething, which translates to even worse days and nights for the mother unit. He’s whining nonstop and clinging onto me as if I’m somehow the cure. I’m not and he knows it but he keeps hoping that being on me while screaming might make things better. And who knows, maybe it does on some level. 

I’m sure you can tell, just by looking, that the pictures above are from his nap time. It’s obvious to see that he has no interest in sleeping, be it day or night. And most people will testify to less sleep during teething but for a child with a severe sleeping disorder this is devastating. Or rather it is that to his mother. His usually incrimental sleep has become even more incrimental and some nights even nonexistent which means no sleep for the mom either. And it’s one thing to not sleep a night and then catch up on your sleep later but after a series of some three nights where the boy has slept a grand total of an hour you are not human anymore.

So a few days ago I had a total breakdown. I spent all night crying along with Erik, wondering how I would pull through. But dawn came and I could see a bit clearer. So I packed up some stuff and took Erik into Stockholm. He slept for two consecutive hours, waking a bit here and there but fell back asleep when rocked.

I obvoiusly didn’t get any sleep but I had some retail therapy. Buying myself a dress, two sweaters and a ring. I also met up with my best friend and had both dinner and fika, while at it. Because if we had stayed at home I might have just spontaneously combusted.

Life as a single parent is hard, especially when your child has a sleeping disorder and there is no money coming in. It’s extra hard when his absetnee father doesn’t sign over custody on you so you’re locked into a place where you can’t even put the child in queue for a spot in a kindergarten. It’s a stressful situation knowing you have the full responsibility but absolutely no rights. But I’m hoping things will change in that arena, soon. I reached out to the boy’s father to sign over custody, today, in bopes that he might do the right thing for once. I have no hopes whatsoever that he will do what’s best for my child but one can always try.

In the meantime I do all I can and then some to ensure that my baby boy has all he could ever want or need. Even with a tremendous lack of sleep, a constant headache and enough stress to kill a normal human being I still trot on. Why? Because I love life. I love living, and each new day brings with it something positive. Something new and worthwhile. My boy is growing, sitting himself up like a pro and getting onto his stomach from a seated position. He’s full of energy and life, and if that doesn’t get you through the day then nothing will.

It is my will to live, my love for life that has gotten me through all the bad stuff. And in the end there is but one thing that controls how you respond to whatever is going on in your life – you and your perception. Change your outlook on life and you’ll realize that you are in fact living in the best of times.

If all else fails get yourself a new dress and a ring. Or whatever makes you equally excited.

But all that shopping aside, waking up to a view like this. Or going for a drive, making Erik laugh, trying new foods, talking to a loved one. Those are the real motivators. All else is gravy.

This. This is what heaven looks like: a happy and healthy boy who has everything he needs. Content. That is absolute heaven to me. All worries just melt away, all tiredness goes out the window. He is my love, my life – my boy.
Campbell of Sweden

The bitter truth…

I started something tonight that I know will benefit Erik and I greatly, him sleeping in his crib without my assistance – in the form of rocking him. It took 4 hours of nonstop screaming and crying but he fell asleep. I sat next to him on a kitchen chair that whole time, talking to him and rubbing his tiny back. And like the star pupil he is he fell asleep. And so did I, alone in my own bed. I hadn’t had that pleasure since thr beginning of May 2016, when I was impositioned.

And Erik slept for 4 hours before waking for a bobo. I slept for an hour and a half and then I woke up missing the little guy who is safely sleeping some 2 meters away from me. I missed kissing his pudgy feet when I opened my eyes.

So here I am, almost 3 hours later, still awake. I fed him a bit of bobo and petted his feetsies ever so lightly before lying down in my bed again.

I thought the hard part was getting him down. It isn’t, it’s putting myself down for some sleep. The things one learns about themselves!

This is how he slept for 4 hours straight, my best boy. As for me, we’ll see if there’s any rest for the wary.
Campbell of Sweden

Insomniac

Man, this night just turned from bad to worse with Erik cascade vomiting all over the bed. At 2 AM I raced up to get him sorted. He’s been cleaned and changed, threw the covers and the bedding in the washer and put down spare ones. 

It’s been a harsh couple of weeks with the sleep issues getting exponentially worse over the last week. He’s a lovely baby and I love him more than life itself but I’m down on my knees right now. The last 4 days I’ve gitten a total of 6 hours of sleep, according to the tracking. He’s slept way more but he doesn’t sleep at all if I don’t continuously rock him on my legs. So I do.

Which has led me to get incriments of sleep that add up to 6 whole hours over the last 96 hour period. In this time we’ve struggled with his cold and played, read, taken baths, been mischeivous and up and running. Along that I’ve been hand washing his bottles, preparing his food and feeding him. Preparing my food, doing laundry and the dishes. Paying bills, planning and all those everyday things.

I’m running low on energy, and in these moments it’s easy to get bitter about my son’s father abandoning him. Or about the fact that in his 7 months of living the father hasn’t so much as bought him a single diaper for his own money. Or anyone else’s.

But truth be told, I’m happy he’s not so much as asked how his youngest child is doing. After he was released from jail, while awaiting trial, for battering me in October he has only gotten in touch with one of my friends asking her to try and get my Xbox to him.

What a man, huh? So am I bitter? No. But I am tired and wish for nothing more than two consecutive hours of sleep. But when Pudgy is older I will hopefully get some sleep. According to the doctor it will get a little bit better when he turns three. So only 2,5 years more. It’s doable. Exhausting but very doable.

What a night! You really know you’re alive on nights like these. And it dawns on you just how spectacular and exhausting motherhood can be, but nothing bad without some good in it. The paracetamol kicked in and that has eased some of the headache which I’m vastly grateful for. 

Life is really something grand, if you look at it with open eyes. Yes, there are hardships. Some have more, some less, but no one escapes them. Same goes for joy and love and adventure. The night sky might be dark but it is always followed by a dawn. And even when the days are exceptionally gray and rainy one should remember that blue skies are hiding behind the clouds and they will appear if you just give it some time.

But now I need to turn the dryer off and hope to god that Pudgy stays asleep when I put him down on the bed.

B. Campbell
How can you not just want to eat him like a tiny cupcake? 

Heaven

I don’t believe in life after death, that idea has never appealed to me. But I lie here in the dark listening to him breathe and watch him move his pudgy little legs and even pudgier tiny feetsies and I wonder how anyone can think that there is a place better than that.

If there was a heaven that’s what it would look like for me: a quiet Friday night before Christmas with my tiny boy sleeping safely and soundly. His little body sprawled out in my bed, that he’s made his.

How can anyone think that there is a better place anywhere else? God is in the details, I’ve heard. Well then God, you’ve outdone yourself with this boy.

And I rest my weary soul knowing that I have seen heaven, and it’s absolutely fantastic.

Ms. Campbell

A thought crosses my mind…

As I sit in bed, in this dark room, with the rain falling onto the window ledges I can’t help but feel a bit blessed. My boy is asleep again after having a snack, just a moment ago. But this thought just keeps gnawing at me.

How can you leave a child? Regardless of circumstances, regardless of feelings towards the other parent – how can you live with yourself knowing you’ve abandoned a child? Or several, as it were.

It makes no sense to me how a person can just leave something so innocent and pristine as a baby. In my world that cannot be done by a human. A human has feelings and values. They have dignity. Abandoning a child requires something else. Something no decent man or woman ever could or would do or be.

But you know what they say, if you go slumming you’re only going to get what they scrape off of the bottom of the barrel. And so it is.

But my boy sleeps soundly to the sound of the pouring rain, and I sit here in the darkness just listening to him breathing. If that’s not a slice of heaven, then I don’t know what is.

Ms. Campbell