Posted by: christinelaennec | October 15, 2011

Spindrift: family update

Do you ever feel like you’re going backwards in life, when actually you’re going forwards?  That’s the feeling I’ve had these past weeks.  It reminds me of spindrift, which is when the wind blows the top of a wave backwards while the wave is advancing.  I took the below photo almost exactly three years ago, while the Dafter was attending an October holiday activity.  I was entranced by the rainbows that were briefly showing up in the spindrift of the waves.  I took dozens of photographs, trying to capture the precise moment when the rainbow appeared.  And finally I did!

Rainbow in the spindrift, with surfer. Aberdeen beach, October 2008.

I know that our family is actually going forwards, but it has often felt the opposite during the past two months.  The Dafter moved schools at the end of August, and after one day she fell very ill with a virulent throat/sinus/ear infection.  She went back for two days in between courses of antibiotics, but apart from that missed all the rest of the first term:  five weeks of school.  During those five weeks she had three courses of antibiotics.  At first I was able to work at home a lot, but that hasn’t been possible for me recently because my calendar between the end of September and Christmas is chock-a-block with commitments.  Michael and I have been patching together times at home during the week, caring for the Dafter and helping her with homework when she’s been well enough.  Michael, bless him, has been the main contact for the school.  He has also been an excellent home tutor, and an absolute bedrock of positive thinking for me.

According to the doctor, the infection has now abated.  But the Dafter is still very tired, sometimes achey, and often still has a sore throat.  (The test for glandular fever / mono was negative.)  I have taken her on a few necessary trips to town to buy winter school uniform and winter clothes, but these really tire her out.  She has been for small walks most days, and she’s keeping to a good eating and sleeping schedule.  Some people have suggested that she has M.E. and other people have said not.  The doctor has said to wait a month before returning.  We’ve begun working with a homeopath and she is on a homeopathic remedy.  School seems like a kind of mirage to me now, and I believe to her as well.  Although the school has said they aren’t worried about what she’s missed, she herself feels she’s hopelessly behind with schoolwork, and is understandably nervous about going back, especially as she has some new subjects at her new school.  Having been through such a rotten year last year, she’s been very isolated socially as almost all of her previous friends have moved on with their lives.

Next week we are going to be joined by an auxiliary.  We have hired a young woman who will help us three days a week, so that I can keep my job.  (You only get ‘dependency leave’ for children age 8 and under.)   Our Helper was recommended to us as completely trustworthy.  The interesting thing is that when we met her, we learned that she herself had been ill for a long time at age 13.  Most importantly, the Dafter was well disposed to our new Helper.  So next week our plan is to ramp up the outings a bit, and if possible the homework, though we only do short stints.  The week after that, when school starts up after the holidays, we are hoping that the Dafter can go to school at least until the morning break initially.  We hope that she will slowly gain strength and self-confidence.

This has been an extremely challenging time for me.  I have been really frightened and worried, despite my best efforts to know that in God I ‘live, move and have my being’ (Acts 17) and that ‘All Will Be Well and All Will Be Well and All Manner of Things Will Be Well’ (Julian of Norwich).  When I realised I’d actually LOST weight without trying – unheard of, believe me – I knew I needed to take some action to look after myself.  We haven’t been able to get to evening yoga classes at all, but I have been doing a bit more in that direction on my own, and arranging some treats for myself just to unwind.  I take mental trips back to my afternoon Crathes Castle Gardens on a very regular basis!  I am trying hard to focus my mind properly every minute.  When I find myself staring into some imagined catastrophic scenario, I replace it with an image of a healthy, happy Dafter who is moving through the world with purpose and creativity.  That girl is still here, with us, underneath the picture of illness and loss of confidence.  I think as a mother my greatest responsibility is to keep looking for that healthy, happy girl: seeing her here and now, knowing she will emerge as time goes on.  Knowing that we are still going forward into an easier time.  Knowing that there is a rainbow in the spindrift, even if I can’t always see it.






  1. Beautiful, thanks for sharing, my thoughts are with you all…
    Take care and big hugs

  2. Writing this just 60 miles away from you, in Moray for the weekend, and hoping that the shorter distance will mean my good wishes get to you more powerfully. I hope that the homeopathic treatment will bring an improvement. When I was a student I certainly experienced great results from treatment at the homeopathic hospital in Paris, when antibiotics had done an incomplete job.
    Just a few words of comfort on the school front: S1 to S3 in our experience are largely irrelevant academically, even at our children’s high-achieving private school. With her own gifts and parents who can support her in all aspects of learning, the Dafter will soon pull away. And a later appearance at school in due course, after illness, is likely to make her more interesting to her classmates, and I’m sure the school will do everything possible to help her settle socially as well as academically. Bon courage!

  3. thanks for sharing your journey with your daughter. here’s some good wishes for your helper, that it all works out beautifully and that your dear daughter will feel encouraged and ready to return to school, even if only for part of the day. sending you a big hug.

  4. What a difficult time you are all going through just now. Here’s hoping that the dafter will soon turn the corner and find herself returned to full fitness and good health.

  5. I second what Linda says re the irrelevance of S1 to S3. Other than maths, I see little evidence that my girl has actually been expected to learn anything of consequence. OK, she isn’t at a high-flying school, but nevertheless I think that S4 is the first time it starts to get serious, so as long as she has a “reading habit” she will be fine, espcially with two such supportive parents – and a new governess! 😉

  6. Linda and Roobedoo are right that years 1 to 3 are pretty slack, and a bright child with supportive parents will catch up fast. I still remember our older daughter being outraged when she reached year 4, and the French teacher suddenly demanded that she should pay attention to word endings. Nobody had bothered up till then.

  7. It will come right. Have faith. My eldest daughter had serious health problems in her early and middle teens. She is now Mother of two small children, has a First Class Honours Degree and Doctorate. We never thought in those bad black days that this would be possible. With parents like she has anything is achievable and even now she knows she is loved by you, which is enough in itself.

  8. It seems that at one time or another all kids go through these long bouts of re-occurring illnesses. Teenage girls seem particularly prone to it. And as hard as it is for the kids, I think it’s also agony for the mom, who feels like she should be able to do something about it. So, stick it out, she will be fine. In the meantime, pat yourself on the back for being able to get through it all.

  9. I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter’s health and hope she’ll emerge even stronger in her being when all of this is over. I hope you too find the strength necessary to go through this difficult patch as a family. I’m glad to hear you’re looking after yourself, Christine. Wishing your daughter a full and quick recovery.

  10. I can’t imagine how difficult practicaly, emotionally, mentally, these weeks must have been.
    I can’t believe that you can’t get dependancy leave for older children! As with younger ones they can’t be left alone when they are unwell.
    The rainbow in the surf is a sublimly beatiful image.
    Praying things begin to ease up soon.

  11. My thoughts are with you always and I know all will be well in the end. You have a strong family behind you and friends far and near who are thinking of you. Tons of hugs from Wales xx

  12. It’s a bit of a digression from your post, but I had to tell you how much I love the word spindrift. In all my life, I have only read it in books. You are the first person I’ve known to ever use my favorite word. You made my day today.

  13. Dear Everyone,

    Thank you, thank you so very much for these hugely encouraging comments. Michael has said we should print them out and put them up on the wall! We may yet. Thank you also for your good wishes – I’m convinced they help. I will take your collective advice and have faith that things will turn out well. It’s given us a bit more perspective to hear that S1-3 are largely irrelevant, academically! (Who could have imagined that would be such good news?) It’s also nice to be reminded that parental support is *not* irrelevant.

    Yesterday in church there was a very interesting sermon about certainty. One of the points the minister made was that when people are certain they know what God intends, the results can be very bad. We have to live with uncertainty. It made me reflect that although I’d quite like a very clear road map of what lies ahead (with weekly meal plans if possible), in fact uncertainty makes us work all that much harder on getting things as right as possible. Uncertainty creates the possibility of hope, and faith.

    Also, your comments have reminded me that although it’s difficult, parenting and caring for each other is worth it in the end. There are other things in life that are extremely difficult without any foreseeable reward.

    Relyn, I’m tickled pink to provide you with a use of the word spindrift! I know what a lover of words you are, and it isn’t the sort of word you can just weave into everyday conversation.

    Thanks again everyone – hugs back!

  14. Oh if only you were next door, I could come and keep the Dafter company in the afternoons (still off sick with pregnancy sickness but it’s ok in the afternoon), would probably give me a boost too!

    I don’t know if you have a TV but something I’ve been doing is to keep an eye out for good classic films on TV in the daytime and trying to increase the number i can say I’ve seen (usually just 2 or 3 a week), it’s quite a nice way to while a way a bit of time when I really don’t feel like engaging my brain too much.

    At 33 I’m finding the isolation frustrating so can only imagine how much worse it must be when you’re younger. Hope you see some improvement and get some more answers soon, much love to the Dafter.

  15. I feel your angst and worry, as a Mother. Keep looking forward and have faith it will all turn out well. My youngest son endured a terrible time in his last 2 years of High School, with all of his friends turning against him. He was terribly depressed and we were deeply worried. We kept telling him that this time of his life would be fleeting, that the important thing was to keep to his lifetime goals, that true friends would come eventually. I am happy to say that he is now a successful young man, with deep empathy and understanding towards others because of his experience. If there is good to come out of it all, this would be it. It took courage and a lot of support and I think that your Dafter is a very fortunate girl to have such caring and empathetic parents.

    Your sea is a beautiful shade of blue. I have never heard the word spindrift. How lovely. xx

  16. I’m thinking big, happy, good thoughts for you and your whole family. We had it easy when my sister was very, very sick, because while Mum and Dad both worked full-time, I’d already finished school and could devote all my time to her. I’d never appreciated that until now! Best of luck with your Helper. I’m sure she’ll be fab!

  17. Katherine – I’m so sorry to hear you’re still laid low by cellular division! Yes, isolation is very hard, and the worst is when you get used to it and then being with people is hard. I’ve often seen the classic films on the schedule, but I never seem to be able to organise myself, nevermind the Dafter. Thanks so much for your good wishes – many coming your way from here.

    Karen – your words are very comforting to me, although of course what your son went through is terrible. I agree that the Dafter will be a stronger person, once she comes through this stage in her life. Thank you!

    Mags – gosh, that’s devotion! Good for you. Luckily and cross fingers, the Dafter isn’t horribly ill at this point. Thanks so much for your big, happy thoughts!

  18. My best wishes to your daughter for a speedy recovery…hugs to you all :O)

  19. Christine, I saw the title & read it as “Spendthrift” & was thrown off track thinking you were going to get economic! But “spindthrift” is one of those words my Mum (sea-neighbour too) uses & it reminds me of her. Lovely picture & I think it’s telling that you had it in mind, as a point of hope, even though it was a year ago. Reading your words always fill me with such positivity – maybe you don’t always feel that way inside (losing weight) but you clearly have a healthy way of dealing with challenges, & it’s good that you recognise that your own (& family’s )health is also as important to your daughter’s recovery. It seems as if you have a route forward with small achieveable steps. If you do get worried & distracted, I find that it helps to keep being clear about what you are working towards and that it is possible … all the best for you all x

  20. Dear Scottish Country House and Scruffybadger,

    Thanks so much for the kind wishes and kind words. Yes, staying clear is the thing – hard to do sometimes, but a good thing to aim for. Scruffybadger, I’m highly complimented that you find my words positive, seeing as you are one of the most original and most positive souls out there in blogland!

  21. I have been away from the computer, so I’m late to read and to offer my prayers for your situation. I’ll pray especially that the helper and the Dafter work well together.

    Sometimes we just muddle on through. This is so hard because we like a vision or a plan or some sense of certainty.

    Do take care of yourself!

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