summer squalls and counting sleeps

I was oh-so-ready for school to start again this morning.

At the end of church yesterday someone asked me how my summer has been… it’s been complicated, messy and good.

It has ended well. But it wasn’t the fantasy I always seem to fool myself into believing it will be.

There was challenging discussions and fraught moments. There was frustration and anxiety. There was inevitably bored children and bad parenting.

And there were great days, and beautiful places and plenty of cheese and wine in the evening with good friends. There was special and healing times with the kids and with Matt.


Life is a muddle. We want pure unadulterated happiness and calm without any messiness, but when we accept that life is always a bit messy, there is always some pain with the joy, life itself becomes easier. It isn’t such a heavy load to carry.

I wrote this while we were away in Brittany, France:

Matt assures me that over the coming months my anxiety is going to ebb away. I so want him to be right.

Here we are in the most beautiful house, right on the sea. A house many people would dream of spending a week in, and I am missing home.

There have been plenty of calm, un-rippled days where the sea and sky are undisturbed, but there have been a few squalls. No tempests, but warning clouds on the horizon, and the pressure has dropped unaccountably from time to time.

Matt asks, he tries not to but from time to time he can’t help himself, he asks, ‘why?’, ‘why now?’. Looking for a trigger, for a rational explanation. And yes, there usually is a prompt of some sort I’m sure, but this word or thought that has sent me spiralling in fear, is deeply hidden in my subconscious, not easily accessible.

I miss my home. I wish I didn’t, but there is something grounding about my own space. There is a comfort in the daily rituals and routines (if instead of calling it a routine I call it a ritual does that make it more noteworthy?). Pottering in my garden, my kettle, my bed. I wish I didn’t miss these things, and wasn’t in some part counting the sleeps ’til home. I dream I am the kind of person who is adventurous and wherever I lay my hat blah blah blah…

…But, I wonder if in some ways, I am made of the routines and rituals, the traditions and familiarity, that fill my life. 

And with this thought I let myself off the hook once again.

I expose and choose to let go of the expectation of perfection I lay on myself. I give myself permission to relax and enjoy what I can enjoy, to be present in the moment and look forward to the return to routine that is ahead.’


I find myself very frustrating.

I want to let go and be brave. But I expect this to be without a backwards glance, knowing exactly what to do, and feeling good about it all the time. I have to keep reminding myself that I am doing good. That there have been many, many brilliant days over the summer, and that even the bad ones didn’t throw me overboard.

It is so easy to slip into being self-critical, to expect to be able to do all things, be all things, know all things, to not have off days or scared moments. But if you expect life to be perfect, you are heading for big disappointment. The kind of disappointment that stops you from seeing the good that is mingled in, even on your worst days.

Learning to have mercy on myself has been the message of the summer. And I’m going to try and hold on to it.


  • murdenkim
    Posted at 13:08h, 07 September Reply

    Hi Elli. Little consolation if you’re feeling anxious, but you are getting good at writing about anxiety in a way that is so recognisable for anyone who has experienced it. Don’t think I have seen words capture it so well – almost having a panic attack just reading them!

    • thehippochronicles
      Posted at 13:30h, 07 September Reply

      Thanks – I am doing much better these past fews weeks. I am trying to leave a few weeks between writing and posting to give me some processing time (not always possible) – so doing better than this sounds! x

  • Mrs Vicarage
    Posted at 17:50h, 07 September Reply

    I feel that I want to get to know you! Our paths never really crossed when we were in the same church (I’m Lee Davies’ wife). I admire your honesty in writing about your feelings. I’m trying to do the same but haven’t found a balance yet. I think I shocked my parents with my honest writing when they stumbled upon my blog & now I’ve bottled it & gone with more vague writing! Any suggestions gratefully received! Hope you’re enjoying the new term (hooray for routine!). Love Emily x

  • thethingsnotsaid
    Posted at 01:38h, 08 September Reply

    Hey. Great writing again Elli, you share something very personal and talk on a subject that is very deep and intense and yet reading what you write is uplifting and real and hopeful. I hope more and more people are encouraged by your blog as I am sure there are many that find themselves in similar places.

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