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

Knowing the price of everything but never the value of anything…

I think a lot of people, when they have kids especially, lose their minds a bit. It’s inevitable, really, as we get older we usually start making more money and can afford the things we wanted while still working our way up. Of course there are exceptions, the ones who grew up with money whose only struggle in life was to choose between their two favorite colors of any brand name bag they were eyeing at the time.

But for the most part we all sit and look up interior decoration ideas online, watch shows that inspire us and motivate us to make our homes more cozy. What we rarely realize while watching these shows is the amount of money that is thrown onto that project. Most of us have a finite amount of money and if we were to decorate our homes the way that media thinks we should we would be indebted for life. A nice vase for $5000 on a cute antique table worth $150000. It’s a pleasure decorating this home, the interior designer says. No prices are ever mentioned, of course, and it was all a bargain at some auction. And auctions are for the most part public, so I check the prices because I’m curious about what kind of a bargaing we’re talking about.

A bargain to me is something I get for less than my monthly income. A vase for $5000 is, to me, not a bargain and it sure isn’t a steal – as it was referred to in this particular show.

I look over at my IKEA couch and can’t help but wonder what the designers would say about it. How they would laugh and think “by God this place simply cannot be fixed up”.

I read a lot about interior design, it fascinates me – the combinations and the many styles that add up to one coherent look. But lately I have been kind of bored. Every interior designer does the very same thing, in Sweden anyway. It can be summed up with one word: KLONG.

I can’t remember if it was the “Äng/Meadow” vase or the “Gloria” candlestick holder that made its way into everyone’s home first, but it is everywhere. Paired up with the SKULTUNA candle holder “Feather” and/or “Celestial” preferably on a tray with some other knick knack that’s dictated by ELLE HOME.

I grew more and more weary of seeing the same decor in home after home. Page after page of the same items placed in different locations around the house. It got tiresome, that déjà vu of the same color schemes and items that were losing their charm with every turn of the page. MISSONI on every pillow and towel, the boring and boho- friendly zigzag pattern. A round SVENSKT TENN vase with the seasonal bouquet, on a Bruno Mathsson piece of furniture.

So I started wondering if the children’s areas were any better. Maybe I could get ideas for Erik’s play areas if I took a gander at what there was out there. And that’s when it hit me, when I opened page after page of white. A sea of white and gray, of aesthetically pleasing children’s toys in unison colors that all just blended into the crisp white walls.

What kind of a hell is this, I thought to myself. What happened to uniqueness, to ideas outside of the boring magazine frame. Is no one their own anymore? Sheeple.

It seems that to fit in you need to blend well with the wall, stay under the radar or go batshit and be above the radar. But maybe I’m dramatic for no reason, the middle is always scrutinized. I refuse the damn Svenskt Tenn bullshit, the seventies were stylistically fucked up if you ask me. I hate the color schemes, the patterns and the quirkiness that has now been reshaped to fit a more mainstream look. It’s been toned down, washed out and boxed so that it fits your wallet but leaves no space for life.

I’m done watching clean children sit on hardwood floors, afraid to spill and make a mess. Children playing in ball pits that look like something from a Mario Bros nightmare. I’m protesting the clean, sleek look as much as I am protesting bringing back the old crap we threw out and promised to never take back in. You keep your GANT satin sheets, I’m putting the cheapest ones from IKEA on. Granted the bottom sheet is satin, here too, but that’s because my mother made our bed (due to a herniated disc and sciatica).

I am done trying to look like one of the Stepford Wives. I am not you and honestly, neither is about 75% of you. You can keep your catalogue homes and your botoxed, filler- faces with those sun feather eyelashes and gel nails paired with hair extensions and any Gucci/Louis Vuitton- bag. I’m done. And terrified.

I need a cup of coffee and a cigarette, and maybe a ton of chocolate. I need to step outside of this situation and decide the direction I want to take our home in. But I promise you one thing, and one thing alone – it won’t look like something out of a magazine. It won’t be a museum, in stead it will be a home for me and my whale of a boy. Nothing else would ever do.

Look at him happily resting in cheap sheets.

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

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? 

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

Never have I ever…

I have never liked oatmeal. It tastes like cardboard to me, like wet cardboard. And you can mask the flavor somewhat by drowning it in different condiments but the aftertaste is still one of wet cardboard. But today I ventured into the unknown making oven roasted pears with honey, coconut oil and lemon juice.

I can honestly say, after this adventure, that I will probably never like oatmeal nor will I like coconut oil. It’s great, everyone claims, but I just don’t see it. On both accounts.

My healthy eating will have to focus on something else for breakfast because eating this stuff will make me give up my will to live before long.

I can’t help wondering about all these healthy living people, and their choices in life. How do you manage to force down all those shakes and chia seeds without dying more inside for every mouthful. I get that you want to be skinny, I do. It’s hyped up to be as skinny as possible without looking unhealthy, even if the way to get there isn’t very healthy most often. But why don’t you just eat your vegetables and exercise? Why down two liters of juice made of lemons and tears?

I’ve been scrolling around a lot lately, trying to get a bit of inspiration for my upcoming body challenge and all I see are these stick figure girls promoting juices and teas. I thought we had all outgrown the Herbalife Ponzi like scheme some 20 years ago. I was wrong in assuming that, which I noticed while scrolling around on Instagram.

People want to get rich, and they all think that if they get sponsored by a shit brand that approaches anyone who hastags “fitness” in their pictures they will reach their goal. The sad thing is that there are young girls who look up to some of these Instagram ‘models’ and buy the products in the hopes if looking like someone who spends hours under different knives and syringes.

This post is all over the place. I’m sorry for the lack of structure and point this far. Here’s what actually grinds my gears:

People who CHOOSE to eat oatmeal every damn day. Don’t they have tastebuds?

Mrs. Campbell

Back to square one…

On Saturday I can start exercising again, or I could but I am going in for a minor surgery in the beginning of September and therefore have to stay away from the weight room still. But somewhere mod or perhaps even at the end of September I will start working out again. My weight is now no longer the issue, it’s the softness of my body aka “the jiggly bits”.

I’ll work from home to begin with. I wish I could say that I’ll be doing it when Erik’s asleep- but let’s face it that is just not how he rolls. So instead I will have Sean take him for a half hour here and there so that I can get myself in order. I’m pretty tired of looking like a jelly donut.

It’s not fair of me to have the little whale hang out in the baby gym and work on his neck strength when I am all weak and plain. So, after my recovery I will get back into a routine. However small and seemingly insignificant, it needs doing. I need to get myself back into shape, for my own sanity. I had a long and fantastic weight loss journey a few years ago, and I refuse to let all that hard work go to waste.

Plus, I need a hobby.

Because this is what I’ve succumbed to. And that’s just not acceptable for anyone, especially not myself.

And here’s a fun picture of Erik sitting up like a big boy in his crib, totally mesmerized by his new mobile.

Mrs. Campbell

Lost in translation…

There is a lot to be said about motherhood, but most things you’ve probably heard. Like the sleepless nights and the endless days. I was prepared for that. I was prepared for a lot of crying and and a lot of throw up. But I didn’t get what I had envisioned.

We got a boy who, still, starts screaming before he opens his eyes. Who doesn’t sleep unless he’s being rocked or carried. Who doesn’t spend any time in the stroller, who doesn’t like riding in the car and mostly who is more easily bored than his mother. He’s a bit of a monster in most aspects, added to that his weight (one of a toddler) and you have yourself a bit of an issue. But he is glorious. So incredibly cute and curious. He’s not the least bit shy and eats with such passion.

Watching him discover different things is by far the most entertaining thing ever. To see those beautiful blue eyes take in all the surroundings is my new passion, along with observing just how good he’s gotten at taking his socks off.

He has also learned to pull his foot out of his pajamas…

The biggest change for me has been, what feels like, the solitary confinement. We are home A LOT. I’m not used to that, and I didn’t think I’d be one of those people who had to stay at home – ever. But Erik hates being out for too long and his schedule rules our world, because if he isn’t happy nobody is. And there’s a lot of suggestions coming from everywhere. Try rocking the stroller, try moving it across cobblestones and all that jazz. Erik doesn’t like lying down in the stroller, he hates sitting up in it. He really hates being rocked while in there and cobblestones make him scream even louder than normal. So, we stay at home most of the time. We do short outings to places where we can park close by, and we no longer attempt to eat out.

This was at Espresso House in Stockholm a few days ago. This picture was followed by a half hour long scream fest while I ran to the car. That was fun.

But it was preceded by this amazing picture. A baby resting while mom enjoys an overpriced scone at a coffee shop where we are seated under a stairwell, on a bench made of the same flooring as pictured with some sat-in pillows.

The romance kind of disappears when you take it all in. It’s a perfect picture of a moment in time that was not nearly as nice as it’s made to look.

Instead my life is filled with this, hand washing bobos and cleaning. It’s filled with cooking and eating while standing up.

Today I made us oven fried potatoes (with Vegeta, rosemary, crushed garlic and tons of oil), minute steak, fried mushroom and onions with a side of a mixed salad with tomato and onion (salted, oiled and with a hint of red balsamic vinegar) along with a store bought parmesan sauce.

After we had been away to buy the little whale a sleeping bag for winter and Sean had been to an interview we headed home for more home adventures.

Erik had tummy time with dad.

They played on the floor while I took silly pictures of them.

Erik and I hung out in bed, to get some rest before bath time.

Bath time is a great time, most often.

We got a new outfit on and he was fed and is currently being rocked by Sean in the hopes of all of us getting some sleep tonight.

That’s what the days look like. The old life has lost its charm, but I haven’t quite settled into the new one yet. But for every day that passes it gets easier and easier.

Life sure is funny that way.

When did I age?

Mrs. Campbell