The weight of a lifetime of memories

Breaking the stillness that I’ve grown accustomed to, but wearied of, a door handle is suddenly turned. She is home!

But wait; the grasp on the handle is one I don’t recognise; it isn’t hers. Or rather, it reminds me of hers when she first arrived here: capable, with a hint of matriarch.

The door opens, and suddenly there are sounds, unheard for so long. Footsteps, slow and heavy, boxes being set down in echoing rooms, and the urgent blether of feet as wee boys race to bagsy bedrooms ahead of their brothers. A new family has arrived.

Read More »

A letter to my four year old daughter, who told me her legs look fat

Dear Kate,

I don’t know if I can properly describe how very perfect you are at age four. You are bright, curious and quick to laugh, with that fantastic giggle that’s so pure, I fancy I can see little glass musical notes floating up towards the sky.

Your face is open, enquiring and I can see every emotion you have range across it; you haven’t yet learned the adult trick of hiding how you really feel about things.(ps; don’t bother learning it, it’s over-rated.)

You’re getting tall, and strong, and your constant need to run everywhere instead of walk (or fly like Twilight Sparkle, apparently) keeps you lithe – but you still have that very little touch of toddler plumpness that I will miss more than I can tell you, when you’re a bigger girl.

And that’s why, when you told me that your legs looked fat, my heart dropped to the pit of my stomach. I don’t want you to be part of the world where girls are made to feel less for being more.

So here’s what I told you in response– and I’m writing it down b001ecause I want you never to forget it.

Your legs are not designed to look skinny; legs are meant to be powerful. Your legs will do the donkey work for your body every single day of your life. Your legs let you walk to nursery to play with your friends; they help you attempt the climbing wall that has defeated you thus far. They are there to help you jump, skip, hop, and run. When you run up and down every set of stairs we pass, when you play hide and seek as we waste sunny afternoons in the park, when you decide – again – that you will reach top of the climbing frame this time? All of those things are possible because you’re healthy and strong.

And don’t think that when you’re older you won’t need them as much.

When you’re a student, you’ll use them to walk to university because you’ll be too broke to have a car (trust me on that one). You’ll need them for the bar work you’ll do in Ayia Napa over the summer, giving your Dad and I palpitations but phoning home REGULARLY. You’ll need them to go to the gym and clubbing with your friends and to drag yourself around a 5km fun run on a Sunday morning for a good cause.

You’ll really need them to run away from danger (hungry lions, oncoming cars, questionable men) or towards danger (bungee jumping, skydiving, parkour) if that’s going to be your thing. And you’ll definitely need them to run back home, back to your family, whenever you need us, because that’s what families are for.

So please, never think for a minute that you’re not perfect, or that your body doesn’t look as good as someone else tells you it should. Because I made you, cell by cell, I know that you’re everything you were ever meant to be, and a little bit more.

Love, Mum.

Featured Image -- 24

A Necessary Evil…….

Originally posted on Life as a MeCP2 Mummy:

Blog Number 2…..

This blog is about something that I HAVE to do. It is a huge aspect of my life  and I want people to understand what I do and why and I also want to encourage more people to help me in some way. So here goes….

I don’t want to fundraise.

I didn’t want my child to be born with profound and multiple disabilities.

I don’t like posting to ask for help, in fact, I actively DISLIKE it. I cringe at myself when I click on the “Post” button.

I worry (a lot) about annoying people or boring them senseless. I worry that people hide me or delete me from Facebook.

And I get hurt when I see someone has “unliked” Blake’s Facebook page.

I shouldn’t, but I do. I can be a bit sensitive at times (okay, most of the time!) and I get hurt easily.

View original 1,403 more words

My boy turns 3.

Originally posted on Life as a MeCP2 Mummy:

I have considered writing a blog before. Purely because sometimes i have too much to say to put on one Facebook post. However, I am not the best at writing and some of my friends who blog are extremely articulate and I am perfectly aware that my blogs will be nowhere near as well written. However, I can guarantee they will be honest and from my heart. I am not expecting everyone to agree with my thoughts, but they are mine and I cannot change that. I am not too sure what I hope to achieve from writing things down….maybe it will be like a journal for me, a means to vent my frustrations and share my hopes, dreams and joy, but most importantly I hope that I can at least help someone in a similar situation to realise they are not alone, they are not bad people for having…

View original 970 more words

Love is a verb

My Gran died. She had a large, loving family, a lifetime of memories and a tired old heart, and so she died. I already miss her, and the centrifugal force that held our family together. We congregated at her house at Christmas, on birthdays and almost every single Sunday of my life. On those Sundays you had to eat; soup, cake, ice cream, steak pie, strawberries, and sometimes, if you didn’t want anything at all, you’d get offered a brandy; but mostly, you had to eat, because that’s what families coming together is all about. Families eating together is a kind of communion, a celebration of being together for no good reason at all. So Sundays were special.

Here’s what my Gran taught me. She doesn’t know she taught me this. Just something else I wish I had thought to tell her.

Love is a verb

Words are easy. It’s a simple, small thing to say to someone ‘I love you’. It’s much, much harder to show someone that you love them, day in day out, for as long as you share a wee bit of the world.

I knew my Gran loved me because she proved it. When I was pregnant she spent weeks gathering stuff for the new babies’ arrival – vests, bibs, nappies, and dummies, all wrapped up in a cosy knitted blanket. Getting ‘the baby box’ from Gran was a big deal!

And when I had a two year old and a tiny baby, and I’m sure looked like I’d had far too many sleepless nights, she said to me she was just sorry she couldn’t be more help. She was 90! I told her that, as far as looking after babies went, her work was done, but in truth it bothered her not to be able to give help when someone she loved needed it.

Every week, when she was busy boosting supermarket profits sky-high (and don’t think there’s no connection between Tesco’s losses and my Gran no longer doing her weekly shop) she would buy me a pack or two of baby wipes or maybe some nappy bags. In fact, her nappy bag mountain is still going strong and will outlive her for some months yet!

It may sound trite, but that’s real love. The fact that my Gran had me in mind each week, that she spent her own money on wipes because she knows babies are expensive, that she kept the kid’s bankies filled with pennies, that she loved nothing more than sharing a cuppa and a sneaky cigarette and some stories from her past. Those little things, those small gestures that speak volumes; that’s real love.

Not words, not songs, not lofty proclamations without actions to back them up. Words crumble to dust in the face of solid, dependable, unswerving, unquestioning love. Love is a verb. I’m glad I’ve seen it done.

I’m not alright, Jack

Bedroom tax whilst big banks prosper

Nuclear weapons and pocket money

This country works for an elite monied few

Is that the best you think we can do?

You must have seen them;

The unemployed, the working poor, the foodbank posters

And still voted for the status quo

Is that what you think we’re worth?

The sheer I’m alright Jack-ness of it

Is making me sick and tired and sad

And I’m finding it hard to look my children in the eye today

Because now I know their future

And it’s dismal, disenfranchised and disappointing

And it didn’t have to be.

We’re about to find out what

Westminster really thinks of us

As if we didn’t already know

So I hope you feel your voice was heard

It will be decades before it’s truly heard once more

We vote, we hope, we wait…

So I stood in the polling booth this morning with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. I checked the box and stood looking at it for a minute, just trying to hold on to the feeling of it all meaning so very much.

For starters, it’s as well I walked to the polling station, because the streets around are thronged with cars and there’s no way I’d have got anywhere near. It’s not like that on local election day, let me tell you! But as I left, and walked slowly home, I passed a lot of people; we all said hi to each other as if it was Christmas Eve – brimming over with emotion, not being indecent enough to ask how we each voted but knowing by a silent gleam in the eye that we’re hoping for a yes.

And, for the record, my vote is very definitely not to do with how I feel about English people, as I keep reading everywhere. How I feel about English people is no different to how I feel about Scottish people, Arabian people, Mexican people or anyone else. We’re all just ordinary people, doing our best, hoping for better, working for our families and our futures.

And that, my friends, is why I had to vote yes. As I work hard for my family, I want the government I elected to be doing the same thing. As I pay my taxes, I want the government I elected to be spending them with people like me in mind. Doesn’t seem too much to ask, really.

For the last decade, England’s gaze has turned inward upon itself, and there has been fretting over immigration, the rise of UKIP, and a Tory government who has instituted such a hateful, evil policy as the Bedroom Tax. And that’s out of step with the rest of the world; as we look outward to Europe, to making friends, alliances, and enjoying being part of the world, England is taking it’s ball back and going home.

I tell my children that you stand up to bullies, and that’s what we’re doing today. Nobody is going to tell us that we must be governed by people who have no interest in our welfare, least of all insanely wealthy bosses of big banks who brought the whole thing crashing down in the first place.

And so, my vote made, I drink coffee, I think, I hope, I wait. It’s going to be a long night.

Why I changed from a ‘No’ to a ‘Yes.’

Originally posted on kevsherry:

I despise nationalism. I despise patriotism. I hate bagpipes, I hate kilts and tartan and I hate the cringe inducing shouts of “wha’s like us” in bars across the nation at closing time on drunken Saturday nights. I love the other countries we share this little island with. I am not what you could ever call a patriot or a nationalist and I would call myself European long before I’d ever call myself Scottish. I believe in cultural and ethnic integration. I believe in a world where nationalities blur into one another rather than divide on tribal lines. I have been, until fairly recently, a staunch ‘No’ voter. However, all things considered, I now feel I am left with no choice but to vote Yes in the forthcoming referendum.

There are economists on both sides of the argument saying wildly different things. I’m not an economist, and neither are the…

View original 540 more words

My inner core is made of 5am feeds and pudgy little hands

Sometimes, sometimes, in the early morning quiet of my office, I sit down and begin writing, the clicks of the keyboard dropping like pebbles into the inky stillness. I’m not really thinking about anything in particular, thoughts pass me by in subconscious flashes and glimpses – how do you spell judicious, should I stop for breakfast, my fingers look eager poised above the keyboard like that.

And in those moments, where my mind is quiet but my hands inexplicably seem to be working without any mental input, that’s where interesting things come out.

Things like…for some reason that I don’t understand, since having children I can sense more of an inner core inside myself, something that isn’t physically there, but to be honest if I looked inside myself and saw a strong core, like a tree trunk, holding me up straight, I wouldn’t be surprised. Before, when I was only myself, my core, if it was there at all, was weak and able to be swayed by new ideas and stronger personalities than mine. But now that I am simply one of three, there it is.

It has grown in me, as I have grown as a mother whilst my children grew from babies into actual people. I think it must be made of a thousand early morning feeds, of holding tiny hands, warm and soft, at 2am, of whispering words into the tops of their heads as they flip through primary-coloured books about talking penguins and dancing giraffes. I suppose it must be made of me, I guess it must have always been there, waiting for children to come along and breathe life into it, the way they breathe life into me.

Things like…I have a sense of my own self, rising to the top of me, like bubbles rocketing to the top of a glass of champagne, hovering on the surface until they burst. As if the real me was in hiding during the teenage years that still, in my mind, smell of Marlboro and Doc Martens; of being a student, forever asked to prove my cleverness (or ability to memorise) in exams; or in my twenties as I tentatively tried to work out how I would spend my thirties.

And now that my thirties are here, and my babies are not quite babies any more, and I have space again in my brain for my own thoughts, what my thoughts really want, it seems, is to be written down. Maybe to be read by other people, but then again, perhaps not. Maybe I’ll find these pages again when I’m fifty or sixty and smile wryly at them, or be pained at my lack of understanding that difficult times are yet to come. Like looking at antique maps, which my house is full of, boundaries will be different, perspectives will have shifted, and what looms so large in my life now might be small then. For starters, changing nappies, once a huge intractable landmass that I had to cross every day, will have shrunk to a tiny archipelago named ‘Future Grandchildren’,

And so my mind is filled with stuff like this; early in the morning my thoughts unfurl, without noise of colleagues, kettles or phonecalls to distract me. Sometimes looping in lazy circles like cigarette smoke above my head, as I try to find a way to set down on paper what is inside, sometimes darting above like shooting stars, barely able to keep pace with my fingers as, for once, it seems, there is, in fact, a director inside of me calling the shots.

Why is that labrador wearing a string of pearls?

Two things have happened this week to make me ponder what my life will be like as an old lady. Cheery, eh? Well, maybe.

Firstly, I was going out for dinner on Friday and had nothing to wear. Ok, not nothing. Nothing new or shiny. I was visiting my Granny and she gave me a beautiful string of pearls, still in the original box. I stared at them, ran my fingers over their warm little orbs and lifted them out of the box.

Underneath was the guarantee, dated 24th December, 1983. My Grandad had clearly had a bit of a panic buy situation, and hit the local jewelers hoping to find something my Gran would love. And he did. (A very cool guy, my Grandad, a total dude in fact, as we can tell by the pearls.)

So I wore the pearls to dinner, hoping that my clashing-them-with-something-new look was ok. But it got me thinking a lot about my Gran.

She remarried you see, after my Grandad died less than two years after the pearls were bought. And now her memory is going, seriously, really badly, going. And I paused a little, as I wondered for the first time – is her dementia/alzheimers/whatever it is genetic? Will that be me? Will I look at my grandchildren and be frightened by their size, their unwonted familiarity, their gregariousness?

So with that on my mind, I watched Supervet. I know! Supervet made me muse about my old age? Yes it did, honest. Because on Supervet was a beautiful labrador that I fell in love with. I think I’d like a dog, but my husband is never going to change his mind on that one. So realistically, it’s him or a dog. And if I don’t have him at some point in later life…then a dog it will have to be.

So my choices at this point seem to be either to become a confused, sad, increasingly scared old lady, or an old lady who manages to ride the changes, and fills her empty house with a puppy to love, care for and take for walks (just like my husband, really).

I wonder what it will feel like, to walk past the nursery I took my children to every day, where I had to unglue their hands from mine on clingy days, and where they were out of my reach before I could kiss them goodbye on happy days. What will I really recall of how it felt to be the mother of two tiny people, who looked to me for everything, to answer every question, to kiss every bump and scrape and to  – I admit it – sing along to Let it go with for the 12th time that day.

And all I can think is…I hope I do remember it, every minute of it, and cherish it, and hold it in my pocket, and maybe take it out and look at it, as I walk my dog through the autumn leaves in the local park, when I am old.