One of Those Weeks


Usually I try to not to rant on my blog. I've got a journal for that kind of thing. I actually have two journals (and I wonder why I don't update on here enough) - one for writing down the things that God has been teaching me, and one for processing my thoughts when there's no one around to listen to my yakking. Actually, a few weeks ago I found a folder on my laptop from way over a year ago containing lots of blog posts that for one reason or another I decided to keep private. One reason being that they were just a pile of rants. Another being that when I read them I thought, 'shut up, Reb'. After recently finding out that when I 'go off on one', my friends call it a 'Reb Rant', I've been trying extra hard to tone it down. (For the record guys, it's not my fault I'm passionate).

All of that self-defense and justification aside, if you'd encountered me at the beginning of this week I probably would have ranted to you and driven you straight into a dark pit of despair.

"This is going to be one of those weeks, it's going to be hard. I just know it!", I screamed at Kayla as I angrily sped down the motorway to Belfast on Monday morning, probably gaining myself another 3 points on my license as I ranted. I'll nervously fumble through the post for at least the next 3 months.

I don't think I've had that dooming 'I can't face this week' feeling since I worked in Next before I started university. Sure, uni had stressful weeks. Things got on top of me and I spent many a day having meltdowns in the toilets, wiping my snot in my friends' hair. But in general I didn't wake up any Monday morning completely dreading the week ahead.

So why was I being such a drama queen all of a sudden? I hear you ask. Well, let me tell ya.

First of all, at the weekend I got a letter telling me that the guy whose car I drove into back in February was all of a sudden making a personal injury claim. EVEN THOUGH HE WAS ABSOLUTELY FINE. Don’t even get me started on him, that is a whole rant in its own right.

Secondly, the health visitor was coming to see Reuben and everyone knows how I feel about health visitors. Thirdly, my scary landlord who lives in America was coming to do an inspection in the house - and lets just say a hyper two year old can do just as much damage as a group of intoxicated students. To make matters worse, I'd been gone from my house for 4 weeks and hadn't tidied a thing before leaving... not even the dirty dishes - so you can imagine the family of flies that had moved in by the time I got back. (Obviously I left windows open because I'm an idiot).

On top of that I had to face the looming bills that I'd avoided because I was well into my overdraft. Money I was due to be paid hadn't gone into my account and I got a letter about my student loan for the incoming year, and it was significantly smaller than last year - I'm talking too small to live on. So I was going to have to ring and beg to find out where my money was - this is one of those adult things you wish that your mum could still do for you.

Speaking of mothering skills, after being in Monaghan, Magherafelt, and Portrush with lots of wonderful people for the previous 4 weeks, I knew Reubs was going to have a massive come-down when we returned to the reality of just the two of us. I expected some pretty testing behaviour. So just as I was beginning to mentally prepare myself for the week ahead, first thing on Monday morning I bumped into someone that I really didn't want to see - you know how Northern Ireland is excruciatingly small and you can't go anywhere without knowing someone? Now I'm not one to avoid people, but when it's someone you don't expect to see or have any desire to talk to, it can send your mind into overdrive for the rest of the day...if you let it. It seemed like a confirmation that I my expectations for the week would be quite accurate.

So after venting to Kayla, I told her that if I made it to the end of the week I was probably going to write about how terrible it was and then make a list of all the things I have to look forward to. But you know what? I don't even have to do that anymore. Because what I thought was going to be 'one of those weeks' actually turned out to be one of the best weeks I've ever had. All the situations and tasks that I was dreading so much somehow weren't so dreadful after all. In fact, they were wonderful. Okay, maybe wonderful is a bit far. But to me they were pretty great. Here's how it all turned around...

The health visitor cancelled - The whole reason we were rushing up to Belfast on Monday morning was because my new health visitor was coming bright and early. In the space of an hour I needed to scrub the house, heal Reuben's eczema, potty train him, broaden his vocabulary, straighten out his behaviour, and make myself look like a mother who actually knows how to mother. In reality, health visitors are not out to get me. But I've had some horrible experiences where I've been left in tears, feeling completely crazy and incompetent. From this blog post alone you've probably realised that the crazy part is semi-accurate but apart from that I think it was just a case of some teen-mum prejudice.

Thankfully she cancelled and I had a full day to get my house in order. It gets better, not only did I have extra time to prepare, but when she did come... she was an absolute delight. She loves Jesus. She stayed with us for an hour and a half just chatting and getting to know us. She was genuinely interested in how we've been getting on and in the way she talked about her job I could see that she has a strong passion and love for other people. Compassion and encouragement just oozed out of her. I sound like I've completely fallen for this woman but seriously, she is special. The only thing that oozes out of me is stress and loud volume (and urine when I've been too active or excited). She is one of those people that leaves you feeling lighter. She suggested different ways I could discipline and assured me that boys are wild, and that Reuben is not only normal, but also doing brilliantly. I could have kissed her but she is married, and her husband is the manager of the Evangelical Bookshop, and I shop there often.

I called in reinforcements – One of the girls stayed on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday three of them came around and made dinner, bathed Reuben, helped me do some cleaning, and stayed until 1am to put all my printed photos into chronological order. I probably shouldn't gloat about my friends, but this isn't anything new. They spend a lot of time at my house - they're my family. They've all been travelling a lot over Summer and if there was ever a good time for us to be reunited, this was the week. They all left with signed photos of me giving birth and I was left with a very happy heart.

The landlord wasn't so scary after all, he was actually very lovely. To be honest I think he was the one who was scared of me. I imagined my landlord to be a 9ft authoritative, hairy-monster who was going to kick me out of my house when he seen what Reuben and I had done to it. So I was pleasantly surprised when he turned out to be a 5ft 7in leather-jacket-wearing, young guy who sat on Reuben's bed and read all of his Mickey Mouse books. We talked about theology, philosophy, and we compared our travelling notes on Israel where he had just returned from. He briefly looked at the house and said, "It's clearly not a drug-den so I'm happy if you're happy". I was happy. Reuben gave him a sticker and off he went. Reubs is still referring to him as 'my new friend who likes Mickey Mouse'. I was a little miffed that I had scrubbed every inch of my house and all he did was look through my book collection, but at least I can count that as my spring clean and hopefully avoid it again until the next inspection. (The family of flies have finally been evicted).

Reuben didn't drive me insane - Future Reuben, if you are reading this (you had better be reading this), I owe you an apology. (I actually owe you multiple apologies but we'll discuss those when you take me out for dinner). Firstly, because I didn't have enough faith in you to believe that you wouldn't play up when we returned home. And secondly, because sometimes I focus so much on the bad moments that I completely forget to take in the good moments and ingrain them in my memory forever. We all know what my memory is like so it would be in my best interests to work on that.

Of course, we had our annoying disciplining moments this week...he put Rice Krispies down the toilet and headbutted me three times. I may have had a concussion but the good moments made me forget my headache very quickly. Or at least I forgot as long as I sat still and didn't move from the sofa. He asked for cuddles multiple times, let me read to him for a whole hour one evening, and on Saturday we went to a donkey show. Motherhood makes you do weird things - never in my life did I think I'd pay £9 to watch donkeys parade around like girls in a nightclub but here we are. I guess I can tick it off my bucketlist...or someone's bucketlist somewhere.

New Friends - Reubs and I had dates with three people that we are only beginning to get to know, and I have a feeling they are going to be lifelong friendships. I don't really remember what going on dates with guys is like, but I imagine it feels something similar to the exciting bubbly-feeling I've experienced this week.

- We hit up Ikea (where else?) with Hannah (who is also a young mama) and her Reuben (who is also two). I know right? We’re a match made in heaven. The more I get to know Hannah, the more she teaches me about mothering and she doesn't even realise it. I could write a full blog post about her alone. She wants all the babies in the world and I would be prepared to give birth to some for her just so more kids could be blessed by her. In fact, I'm wondering if she'd adopt me.

- We had dinner with Nikki who we met in Monaghan, and if I had to describe her in one sentence I would say she is the city version of me. By that I mean she's a mouth and she loves Jesus but she has a Belfast accent. She's strong, fiery, and has a massive heart. You just know a soul sister when you see one.

- We made a trip to Bangor to meet Esther for the first time. Esther and I were set up through a friend of a friend of a friend at Summer Madness and she is a fellow young mama who has recently given birth to Hope - my new favourite baby. She's been in this motherhood game about 4 weeks and her head is already more screwed on than mine will ever be. I can't wait to have some quality mama time and get to know her better. She is a delight.

I've been praying a lot about finding new friends in Belfast, especially over Summer. If Reuben could type he'd probably let you know how embarrassing I've been. I have started talking to strangers everywhere we go and I even joined a mum's circuits class...but nothing really happened. There was no spark. I'm pretty sure other mums thought I was creepy and that's fair enough. As I type this I've realised that it didn't happen the way I thought it would, but God definitely brought new people into my life in some weird, wonderful ways and His plans are so much better than mine.

I got a pep talk from my Mum - After having a mini meltdown to my own mother about my lack of funds and my lack of desire to confront people on the phone about my lack of funds, she encouraged me to wise up. I did. I phoned student finance about the incoming year, and I phoned the people who hadn't paid me for Summer work. One hour later, everything was sorted. I was out of my overdraft, and I had the loveliest conversation with a random guy on the phone at Student Finance. He told me about his grown up daughter who was about to leave home and how he was taking up gardening to help him cope with empty nest syndrome. I told him he could borrow Reuben any time he needed to fill his parenting hole, and if it weren't for the fact he lives in England, I think I nearly made another lifelong friend. We chatted about Emmerdale for another 20 minutes, and I don't even watch Emmerdale. The moral of the story is if my Mum hadn't told me to suck it up and wise up then I wouldn't have made the phone call. I would still be knee-deep in my overdraft, and I wouldn't have known that Zak and Lisa from Emmerdale have split up. How could I not smile after that conversation?

At the end of this week I was expecting to feel stressed, exhausted, and ready to punch someone in the face. Instead, I feel refreshed, extra thankful, and a little guilty for screaming at Kayla on Monday. A very wise friend recently told me that just because something is broken doesn't mean it can't be beautiful. Jesus can redeem even the worst day, the anger fuelled relationship, or unruly child - when something belongs to Him it is never lost. I didn't realise just how much I'd be reminded of those words when I was having 'one of those weeks'.

Lots of love, Reb (and Reubs who bashed the keyboard a few times).