Tidying my bedroom this afternoon I came across the laundry bag I term my “dressing up box”. It’s full of ideas and dreams that don’t go in the weekday underwear drawer.
The kids were at the park with the au pairs… so I had a little dressing up time. Not quite the adventures of Mr Benn or even what Sid and Rebecca had in mind while I was raising my kids, but all the same, a very relaxing break from reality.
No motorbikes available, but having had this week’s Top of the Pops on earlier, a little bit of Heart and Cher and all the other leather clad ladies that filled my young teen experience with ideas of what “sexy” might mean, the lovely Mr Hunt was persuaded to help me play.
One day I’ll have time and space to try something a little more adventurous than yet another cleavage shot… but in the meantime…
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein
Life is like mountain biking. It is not just that you have to find your balance, but that the terrain keeps changing, making that balance point change.
Maybe mountain biking whilst juggling. Through the Alps. As part of a team.
And trying to do so with grace.
Sometimes suddenly finding yourself on a flat piece of terrain with empty hands can throw you off balance as much as the steepest paths.
I am good in a crisis. Where there is a problem to throw myself into, I do exactly that, feeling the relief of being able to legitimately prioritise that one thing above others. But finding a balance on my own, in my own space is harder. What do I want to prioritize? There are things I love, things that are productive, things I take pride in, and the chances are these things do not align very often.
Parenting versus sex life is a classic example. We chose to have three children, but we didn’t know until after I was pregnant the final time that the first two were identified as autistic and the chances child three was also going to have extra needs were therefore quite high. This places many additional demands on our time, on our individual self images and on the bond of our relationship.
As part of their autism, child two seeks physical comfort from skin on skin contact, not unlike a baby, for four or more hours each day. But other things have to be accomplished, so undoubtedly this eats into time one would rationally expect to spend with your significant other. When children are small, this time is expected and you balance it out against your whole lifetime together, but when your child is twelve and still needing this amount of “quality time” it feels like you are being dragged out of balance.
I love my children but I also love my husband, love what we create together as a partnership.
Recognising the forces acting on you and how much control you have over them is important, because you can make corrections that match the severity and significance of the forces acting on you.
Making sure we check in on each other, making sure we make time and space whilst acknowledging this is not going to be in the evening, is not going to necessarily be in bed together on a lie in morning, is not going to be in a traditional expected time and place, is vital.
We create time and space on Thursday mornings. Book time into work calendars with coded messages. Take photos in the garden when there is a child already in our bed or on the sofa. Play fast and hard when we can and be gentle with each other when one needs it, even the other doesn’t. Because this isn’t him playing me, or me playing him, but is the result of something we could never have imagined.
Letting it take us down isn’t an option.
I love my blog, love hanging out with others who don’t think my more sex positive parenting and lifestyle is weird, because it certainly doesn’t fit in with any local real-life communities I operate in. But I cannot prioritise this even though I love it.
I love to take photos. Once I had time to craft stories, whereas now all I seem to have time to do is spill my guts out to be picked over. I am learning how to be a good ally, which will be a necessary skill when raising non binary children through their teens into adulthood.
I have to be very careful with my blog and with the tools I use- my computers, my phone and photos. I am a specialist working with children and the world is not kind to kinky people operating in children’s spaces, even when there is no hint of impropriety. Social Care has no time to be kind to parents who have active sex lives if their children have struggled with harmful sexualised behaviours, as mine did as a result of assault by a carer (another joy of raising children with disabilities is it increases their risk of being the victim of crime). Therefore, I have plenty of reasons to not be here. But writing, even if it is not the fiction I love, and reading the work of others, is vital to my balance.
Things change. The pushes and pulls on us now will be different in the future. My need to be here may change. One day, my child may not need to be held like a baby for hours every evening and I may be able to watch adult themed tv, read blogs when I want.
As life changes, we change. Trying to stay the same will pull us over as surely as the worse stretch of bumpy terrain. Grieving the sex life we don’t have is as important as taking joy in moments of service snuck into plain sight.
The thing is, it’s my balance and I must work at all the aspects, whether blogging or working or parenting, to keep everything functional for me. And that supports the balance the lovely Mr Hunt and I create together. And that keeps the balance in place for my children.
My balance doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but it is still the only part of this juggling band of Alpine mountain bikers I can actually control.
This week had a wonderful gift in the middle, when I found that my photo from last week had been chosen as one of the five winning images of the week for the 500th Sinful Sunday. I am immensely grateful for this safe space where I have had the opportunity to explore my self image through photos.
The winners tweet on Thursday as a bright high point in an otherwise long week…one I’m very grateful for as it means work is going well and my new carer team for my children is settling in. It’s also tricky because this week of the year marks the anniversary of a bereavement that I mark, not by the date but by a certain tv landmark. I came home from hospital, having delivered my third child, without them, and curled up in bed while Children in Need played. When I was a child this always felt like a very positive, entertaining evening, as much a of marker of the season as Halloween. Now, I have three children who use services that are supported by the charity and will forever associate the evening with the ache of empty arms.
This weekend I’ve ripped the house apart cleaning, for me, a, sign of being unsettled. This evening I’ve followed it up with an evening of self care- a nice steak, some repetitive tele and a warm blanket to snuggle in.
Thank you for giving me a place where I could see people like me, enjoying sharing their lives.
See sexy not just as a representation of beautifully arranged mainstream body parts, although undoubtedly there are many of those here, but as acts or ideas or bodies that are real and perfect in their imperfection.
For giving me the confidence to post my first pictures and the encouragement to play around and post more.