Children being comforted

Nature, nurture and the hidden cost of parental absence

A lot is said, has been said, will always be said, about parents who leave the family unit. Vilified, justly or otherwise, we see Fathers for Justice, we see stereotypes, we see absent mothers as disproportionately lambasted in contrast to fathers and castigated from communities. It goes on.

Money, love, first casualties for all parties.

One thing that is rarely discussed is the destiny of nature/nurture, especially with regards neurodiversity and mental health conditions. We are not all the same and understanding ourselves throughout life is not something that can be understood by tracing a map of experiences.
Sometimes it is our DNA, or injury, that change us. Sometimes it is passed on from parent to child.

The biggest benefit of close parenting is that you develop a hormonally based bond that intrinsically makes you care, empathise and want to help. (In some cases, this is damaged, by trauma/mental health disorders etc. etc.) and the key benefit of that is that you can look within yourself and see yourself in this little person. You can see their behaviours, their similarities to yourself. You have a unique, and new, viewpoint to see why you were the way you were. That actually, to some extent, you were just naturally prone to certain behaviours. Getting hyperactive I am particularly thinking about right now.
You can’t go back in time and correct any ways you were treated, but you can support the little person in your life to live with it. Manage it. Learn about it.
To some extent this is the power of diagnosis.

We all experience emotions differently, some of us with alexithymia do not, some of us who gifted but emotionally intense, some of us are very calm. Shame is a huge shaper of our lives. We may start ‘masking’ and with that, and other responses, we find ourselves taking steps up a ladder of responses that can before too long make us lose track of what lead to what. A guide is what we need in those moments.

A parent who understands what happened because something similar happened to them. And if both parents are together, there’s a much higher chance of your behaviour being understood, and mentored…. parented.

Bedtime stories

I feel your sharp elbows dig into my chest as you clamber over, getting closer to the page. The ceiling light is off and the walls are dimly lit from a bedside table. You slur your speech with the dummy you’ve outgrown in your mouth as you explain your fast thoughts about the images. I let you fill the blanks in the sentences you’ve assimilated so quickly. Your ravenous mind a sponge.

I am warm and cosy under the duvet in my bed that you sleep in whilst your baby brother needs a sleep companion. Giving mummy and me more rest than if we had to see to you in the night. And we cherish taking turns sleeping with you.

You flit and twist about, putting your head on my chest as I read, sitting up on your haunches leaning your forearms on my chest when an exciting page happens, getting close as I wrap my arm around your torso, holding the other side of the book again. Your warmth an exchange of energy like no other. Your hot little torso. Your warm hands. Your head and hair blocking the pages so I have to peep around you to read the words most of which I can recite from memory. You’re still awake, though you are ready for sleep and keep rubbing your eyes

Your inquisitive intonation and your utter security make me proud. Of myself, but more so of you. Sometimes I try to imagine what it feels like to be with a parent you feel so secure with, going to sleep with them there under the duvet. It must feel so comforting. This caring giant sharing warmth and love, every night.

You barely look at the pages of your old favourites as we read. Instead you fiddle with your cup of milk, or your toy car that you brought into the bed with you after your bath. You love to read them all the same. But the new books? You are transfixed by them and emotionally swept up in them.

I put my fingers through your curls as you lay your head on the pillow. I turn off the bedside light. I wish you good night and tell you I love you. Sometimes, you say ‘I love you, daddy’ in return.

You are nearly 3. We’ve been doing this for over a year and a half, and I will hold this with me forever. It is some of my most special moments.

A low-lying, grungy cloud of brown and grey sweeps the globe,
chaotic and sustaining.

The architects, divided, upped tools
and washed their hands.

Now it roams
and feeds,
or starves;
waxes and wanes;
shelters the feeble;
blocks the brave;
and obscures the light-bringers.

Its true danger is the shadow it casts on land and sea:
leaving all distant
and unseeable.

A bumbling unknowing causes other senses to heighten.
Those senses tire,
and misfire.

Soon, the landscape is resculpted;
maps don’t lead where they should;
the warmth felt, isn’t seen.

Detachment is the fight.

Poem: cliche life

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it;
so go find someone who can tell you if it’s broke,
’cause it might need fixing.
Time heals all wounds
that can heal.