To love is to be vulnerable

I am in a little bit of a state right now, anxiety is winning the battle for my mind and my soul.

I hate that I get this way, I wish I could lie still in the peace of faith but I cannot. In fact I suck at lying still anywhere.

Tomorrow my little one is having an MRI which requires him to have a general anaesthetic and the fear of the ‘what if’s’ are just eating away at me.

Do I pack for more than a day? Can I trust he will be out on the same day as planned and the major one and the truth of my heart, will he be ok?

My head tries to remind me of how many people have this kind of a test each day, how its a simple non invasive test but my heart just is screaming “My son”.

Having a child with complex needs leaves you open and fearful. Your heart and mind goes to places many others never venture. Being a mom who has lost a child my mind has been there and lived it and somehow is just about surviving it.

So why do I do what I do?

This is a question I get asked a lot, mostly from parents who have children with disabilities or those that have lost a child. Why do I put myself back there. Why have I adopted, why a child with complex needs and why do I risk my heart again?

To be truthful I am not sure I have an answer for this question.I think we need to go back to the beginning. I truly believed I was a weird child, I struggled with emotions and worries before I even knew what they were. Sensitive to other people’s feelings to an extent that would have me cry myself to sleep with another’s pain. The world seemed a scary place and people often cold and distance. I didn’t understand people and to be honest I am not sure I actually do now.

I would watch people destroy each other with words out of hate, jealously or indifference and I just wanted to run and hide. I tried often to lose myself between the pages of a book preferring the lands of make believe to reality. When books didn’t work I turned to alcohol just to allow me the freedom from thinking, from caring. A few drinks in and life made more sense or so it seemed. But with sobriety came reality and my reality was that I was difference and that was something I had to find a way to accept, to understand.

I had to learn to embrace who I was and the ways of my heart. Understand that oblivion wasn’t a place I could stay or actually a place I really wanted to be.

I had to find what made me happy and that journey of self acceptance started with my marriage but mostly from becoming a Mom. I guess this reads as mush but I truly believe being a Mom allowed me the freedom to know and understand true love. Everything I wanted for my children was what I had always wanted for the world, It was a real aha moment.  But being a Mom is scary stuff besides having to feed, clothe and keep these little ones alive you are the window through which they start to see the world. I never wanted them to feel weird or difference. I wanted them to realise that they were unique, that each of them had been individually made with purpose. That they were exactly who they were supposed to be.

But guess what if my children were made with purpose and they are exactly who they are supposed to be then by default this means so am I.

Yes I may be a little weird or strange (I’ve been called) my heart may break more often than others and I may love with an intensity that seems insane to others but this is me. This is my heart and just as my girls were perfectly formed in my womb I was in my mothers.

I still strive for answers to questions others don’t understand, I think way more than should be humanly possible (my husbands words) but I am who I was meant to be.

I love to love. 

This is me in a nutshell.

I love the joy of knowing that someone understands how valuable they are, how they are a gift to my life in so many ways. I want everyone on the planet to know their true worth.

Happy clappy, airy fairy, who cares, I am who I am.

So why wouldn’t I be sitting here in a state of fear loving a child that was not born to me. The biology bit is irrelevant, God called me to be his Mama and I am so damned happy he did. Yes it’s scary, yes I am fearful but I am so blessed to love this kid.

Why did I adopt?

Why not, when there are children in this world that needs a home and someone to love them, why shouldn’t I. The complexities of anyone comes in so many difference forms, who cares, we are all uniquely and wonderfully made.

I feel C.S Lewis says it perfectly here, “to love is to be vulnerable” but after spending so many years of my life trying to stay in that dark and safe casket I can truly tell you that right now I am fearful, but I am living fully.

Anxiety, heartbreak and fear they are emotions that do and will often overwhelm me, this is part of who I am. Acceptance of these is still journey I am travelling. But non of these compare to the joy of living my life fully, how being true to my heart is freedom in itself.

Nine years too long

Nine years, nine years why does this number stick in my throat?

Why do I see it as an evil coiled snake with a deadly bite. Nine years ago the venom of loss entered my life, moving through my veins inch by inch with an intensity I could have never imagined. Twisting, turning, absorbing, consuming.

Nine years ago my daughter died. 

Why does the fact that it is nine years burn at my soul, rising like bile from a stomach overflowing with acid.

Why is nine years any worse that eight or seven ?

Why does this number feel like mockery of my heart.

Livvy only lived for nine years.

I only got to hold her for nine years, only got to care for her for nine years, only got to breathe in the sweet smell of her hair, to twist those tiny curls around my finger for nine short years.

She was only mine for nine years.

Right now I’m holding on to the fact that she lived to be nine years and six months. Holding on to that six months as a victory over death. I cannot look towards the day when she has been gone longer than she lived.

Why does it matter, one day without her was agony, a month a living nightmare a year so full of pain I never thought I would survive.

Why does it matter? 

I actually don’t know, I have no reasoning or actual understanding of why this number is now haunting my dreams. I am lost in a insane theory than makes no sense. I feel as if the nine years gone counteract’s the nine years here. That nine years dead removes the nine years lived.

It’s doesn’t make sense but it hurts. The nine is twisting at my soul right now, branded like a weapon from my enemy.

I’m struggling to fight back, reminding myself of the magic of the moments we shared. Arming myself with the promise of eternity, the surety of my love for her.

Time does not erase our love, memories may fade but the heart never forgets. My soul will always remember the sound of her heartbeat as she laid down beside me. My fingers hold on tight to the sensation of twisting her curls around them. Her smell, her laughter,  my heart, my soul they hold them tight like the precious gifts they are.

I will never forget my beautiful daughter, no passage of time will ever erase the impact she made on my life.

I will never forget the way being her mom changed me.

Livvy is my DNA, her genetic code is entwined with mine.

My heart it beats stronger because of loving her.

My soul is kinder because I knew her.

I  am eternity blessed I got to be Livvy’s Mom.

I am forever blessed, I am forever Livvys Mom. 

Lights, camera, hallway

Have you ever started a DIY project and regretted it straight away. Seriously I have now many  times and you would think I would finally have learnt my lesson, yet in September 2016 we decided to update our hall and stairway.

When we had first moved into our home it had the old fashioned artex  on the walls and while it was durable it wasn’t what we wanted and it’s been bugging us for at least the last 10 years.

So as you do you when you have a job that you aren’t skilled for. You find yourself someone who is, or in this case said they were. We found ourselves a plaster and paid him a load of money to make our walls worse than when he had started. I think he had over stretched himself a little and the job was more than he could handle but instead of being left with lovely smooth paintable walls we were left with a mess.

Besides the physical mess I was also left with a husband who lost all enthusiasm for the decorating and was seriously down about everything. Its often said that when you live a life of high stress its the little things that can break you down. This hall, stairs and landing was his little thing.

Fast forward a year of apologising for the state of my hall to visitors I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and ask for advice (this time) on decorators. I wanted a recommendation off someone I trusted thats for sure. Anyhow a few months later I am now in love with my new hall, stairs and landing. The decorators work was spotless and my chosen colour I love and even better I have a happy husband who found his enthusiasm again and got busy changing the bannisters and wood work around the doors. I still have to put back the family gallery but I am super happy with it all.

Anyhow what am I telling you all this because just as we were coming to the end of completion i was contacted by a light company called Litecraft  asking if I would like to review their site and lights. Err yes please, what a perfect way to finish the hall with a new rather dazzling light.

I’m in love

It’s she beautiful.

Litecraft has an amazing range of lighting, and accessories, home decor and much more. Believe me you can spend an hour or two having a browse. I fell for a number of lights, lamps and shades and I’m now planning room decor around some lights that I need. (It’s need not a want).

Ordering was super easy and delivery was swift and the light was well packaged. All you can want from life.

So  right now I am super  happy with my new hall  and stairs but most of all.

He is too…

*I was gifted this light for the purpose of this review, but the choice was my own as are all my opinions.

Marriage is hard work

My husband and I are celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary today and if I could give any advice to a couple just starting out it would be simply this.

Marriage is hard and you need to work at it, always”.

I love my husband deeply but my goodness at times I could have easily walked away from our marriage. I write ‘easily’ because at times walking away would really have been the easiest option.

I do pray that no other couple ever has to face what we have in our 21 years. The loss of our children nearly destroyed us and we had to make a conscious decision to work through our pain and grief together. To find a place where we could internalise and externalise our heartache. I use the term “conscious decision” because that’s actually what it had to be. We had to consciously think of each other when we we could barely deal with ourselves. It would have been so easy to allow ourselves to be consumed by our pain and to be honest it was blooming exhausting to find the strength to acknowledge each other’s.

21 years is a long time and both of us are far from the people we were at the beginning. We have grown in so many ways and often in different ones. We have again had to work on ‘us’ not to get lost in our separate interests or lives. To celebrate our individualities whilst working and enjoying our common interests. We are so different! . From when we first met we seemed like chalk and cheese but Alan allows me to be who I really am. He has encouraged me to develop and grow. I truly believe my marriage saved me, but that’s a whole other story. I admire him greatly and I love him deeply but our marriage does still need work.

One of the first learning curves we had to face was learning our style of love. If you have heard of the “love languages” concept you will know that we all express love in different ways. Some use words, some enjoy time together, others like to do jobs to show their love, whilst others give gifts.

I am a wordy person but words are not my love language I just loved spending time with Alan and could never really understand why he wanted to be apart (clingy much). I just enjoyed his company, his opinions and his attention. The fact that he worked so many hours made the time together special. Alan on the other hand is a doer, he would want to show his love in DIY, cleaning the house anything that he thought would make my life as a Mom easier. We used to and still do clash a lot over this but we have found a place that works for both of us.

And that’s what marriage is “A place for both of you”.

A place where two separates become whole.

But I do truly wish someone had told me 21 years ago that marriage doesn’t come easy. That two individuals even those madly in love aren’t always going to agree on things. Aren’t always going to enjoy the same things or want the same things. How marriage needs to be a dance of giving and taking. Of mutual respect and of trying to see another’s point of view.

It’s a work in progress but a wonderful, exciting, rewarding one.

Thank you Alan for the last 21 years and here’s too many more.

Our work in progress.

#Metoo

There has been a viral campaign sweeping the internet using the hashtag #metoo it’s a campaign to raise awareness of the number of women and men who have been victims of some form of sexual harassment or assault.

The hope is that  “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of magnitude of the problem.”

I am normally one of the first to join in with campaigns like this but I struggled with this  one. It took me a while to realise why I couldn’t join in and that reason was shame. 

I was ashamed that I was a victim.

I was ashamed it happened to me.

Sitting here writing this I cannot express how angry this has made me feel and how it is ,that it’s this shame and the fear of not being believed or supported that leads to so many not reporting their assault orharassment.

I was about eight years old when I first faced harassment. I was out playing on my bike when a local lad a few years older than me stopped me and held on to my bike. He then informed me and my friend in graphic detail what he was going to do to me. It was a horrific and violent account which left me frozen and in shock and thankfully as he was only holding my bike my friend rode off on hers to her parents and the police were later involved. I can remember the feeling of fear as if was yesterday, the violation of his words and I also remember wondering why me and what had I done wrong? I came across him later in life and  found myself physically shaking in the aisle of a supermarket still frozen from the memories.

The second time I faced harassment and assault was very different. A man I thought I loved and who loved me betrayed me in a way that I never could of imagined. A quiet unassuming man turned into my worst nightmare. Broken fingers and too many bruises later I finally escaped the situation. Again ashamed and embarrassed at what I perceived as my weakness I didn’t press charges or seek support. Somehow I felt I should have known better. Or in his words “shouldn’t have pushed him to this”.

I look back at these times in my life and i’m so frustrated at the woman I was, but the truth is only 24 hours ago I didn’t wish to join a campaign that challenged this, so have I really come any further in my development?

As a mom I hate the concept of any one hurting my children and I know very well I would launch straight into mama bear mode, so why didn’t, why don’t I give myself the same consideration?

Here is some harrowing statistics….

Rape Crisis England & Wales headline statistics 2016-17:

•Rape Crisis Centres across our network responded to their highest ever number of helpline calls during the year – 202,666 in total, or nearly 4,000 a week.

•Rape Crisis specialist services were accessed by 67,059 individuals, an increase of 16% from 2015-16.

•Rape Crisis Centres provided in excess of 450,000 sessions of specialist support, including advocacy, emotional support and counselling, an increase of 29% since 2015-16.

•Three-quarters of all adult service users contacted Rape Crisis Centres about sexual violence that took place at least 12 months earlier; 42% were adult survivors of child sexual abuse.

•The largest group that contact Rape Crisis Centres, now over half of service users (51%), is those who prefer to self-refer. This pattern has remained consistent over the past six years and continues to demonstrate the necessity for funded independent services.

•93 per cent of service users were female.

•Where age is known, 2,651 were aged 15 or under, an increase of 55% on last year; those aged under 25 represented 36% of service users. Over 30 times more children reported multiple assaults than last year – 904 compared with 29 in 2015-16.

•Where ethnicity is known, 20% of service users identified as Black or Minority Ethnic.

•25% of all service users identified as Disabled.

•The Rape Crisis England & Wales website received nearly 9 million hits during the year and an average of 32,765 unique visitors per month.

Here are some other key statistics about sexual violence:

•Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that’s roughly 11 rapes (of adults alone) every hour. These figures include assaults by penetration and attempts.

•Nearly half a million adults are sexually assaulted in England and Wales each year

•1 in 5 women aged 16 – 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16

•Only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report to the police

•Approximately 90% of those who are raped know the perpetrator prior to the offence

These figures come from An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales, the first ever joint official statistics bulletin on sexual violence released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Home Office in January 2013.

 

Only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report it to the police. This statistic makes me want to cry. Yet I know I am one of the 85% who didn’t report it and who in all honesty just wished it away.

Whilst the internet is now blowing up with articles on this new campaign, some supporting it, others saying its reducing the impact of the crime, I personally want to say thank you.

Thank you to women who have  gotten involved, seeing the #Metoo statuses on the social media of woman I class as strong, incredible, independent people has hit home that it can happen to anyone and that its not about weakness or that I some how caused it and also that I am not alone.

I do hope this campaign encourages people to speak out. I want it to educate others like myself that it was not our fault,.  I also want to see changes in the way sexual assault and harassment is dealt with. No woman, no one asks for it and no ones job, livelihood or reputation should ever be at risk from reporting a crime that was committed against them.

The criminal is not the victim it is the perpetrator and this is the one who should pay the price.

 

I want to hug you in real life.

Do you know one of the main things that frustrates me about the internet and social media in general? That some of the people I really would love to do life with often live miles away. People who I have connected with strongly are so far out of reach. How I wish I could turn my virtual hugs into real ones.

I have met some really incredible people via the internet. I get to follow some really inspiration women who have truly blessed my life. Some without knowing have got me through some extremely dark times.

I have had conversations with people that may not have happened in real life. Some finding vulnerability safer on line than in real life. Sharing their hearts filling mine with strength and courage.

I have been challenged by perceptions I would not have seen without the internet. Opinions and reasoning set out allowing me to educate myself without prejudice. Knowledge being as always the greatest power.

I have been inspired by those doing life in the only way they know how. Sharing the good, the bad and the ugly giving me freedom to admit to the reality of my life. The pain, the struggle.  Whilst not always easy  but celebrating the joy and the magic of the moments.

Yes the internet does have a dingy side, a side where bullying and trolling has its slimy place but these cowards can stay hiding behind their keyboards because they don’t scare me. Validation isn’t found in their mean nasty words.

Validation is found in your army, your keyboard warriors who stand beside you each day. Who reach out across the fibre optics across the broadband and reminds you that you have got this.

We have this.

But I do get frustrated at times, how I wish I could arrange one mighty dinner party and invite you all. Get to hear the laughter rather that read the ha ha’s or the lols. To give the hugs instead of virtually receiving them. To just be surrounded by all you weird and wonderful people.

But until then I’m celebrating the gift of the virtual world, the expanse of the internet and all you incredible people that I get to call friends.

My friends.

I believe in him

I sat through a professionals meeting a few weeks back where one of the “so called” professionals professed to tell me the limitations of my son. He can’t do this, cannot control that and he probably won’t do this. I have to admit my first reaction was to lose it but I decided to let her have her say before I spoke. You see it’s easy for people to look at my son and tell me what he cannot do but I want to work with someone who can tell me what he can or what he could.

I’m certainly not naive but I will refuse to have a so called professional have her opinion especially in this case when it’s formed after a 5 minute assessment.

Listening to this woman I was again aware of some of the preconceptions people have of children with special needs and how they extremely frustrate me.

How it’s so important to surround myself with people who believe in ‘never say never’ or the endless possibilities of life.

My friend and I were discussing our family conversation this weekend, this is part of our sons EHCP plans. Where the question is asked “what does your child want to be when older”? Let’s take into consideration that my child is 3 and hers is younger. Who the hell knows what they want to be at 3. Anyway we both giggled as we had both separately written astronaut, and why not (ps I love this about my friend). Yes maybe Daniel’s chronic lung disease would put a stop to this but who knows medical science is changing everyday. I’m sticking to my family motto of “never say never”.

Why do we place limitations on our children?

Why do their disabilities have to be what defines them?

You see to me Daniel is a cheeky little man who loves to flirt, especially with his nurses. His comic timing is perfection and his giggle well it warms your heart. He is also one of the strongest people I know entering this world at only 26 weeks and fighting against prematurity, meningitis and a heck of lot more. He has raged battles against his disabilities and his illnesses and thank God has been the victor.

Who would dare put limits on this boy!

I know I’m not, whatever the future holds I want to be surrounded by people who believe in my child.

Because I believe in him.

Babies #blogtober17

Twenty one years ago I became a mother, my daughter was placed in my arms and I finally knew why I was here. Holding this sweet child in my arms my heart, could have exploded, I never thought I could experience love like this but it only multiplied with each child.

My babies will always be my babies their ages are irrelevant in this, 21 or 3 they are my heart.

Motherhood came so natural, not saying that I didn’t and don’t feel like I mess it up at times. I honestly didn’t believe I would survive the teenage years. But I am so proud of each and everyone of them.

It is rather strange having a 21 year old and a 3 year old but I’m loving being back in the midst of toddlerhood.

My babies bring me so much joy but they have also challenged and taught me more than I could have ever imagined.

My work is testimony to all that they have taught me. I know get now to love on those children who need it. My babies being extended through fostering and now adoption.

How amazing is this!

All about me, Day 1 #Blogtober17

So its October, how in the world did that happen?

I love October the seasons are changing and the world becomes awash with colour and its the start of #Blogtober17.

So whats #Blogtober17 I hear you ask? It is a month of daily blog posts following set prompt. This means that I am aiming to blog daily, woo hoo yes a blog a day.

So lets kick this month off with the first prompt “ All about me”.

To be honest I could just send you to my about me page but decided that really wasn’t on ha ha. Also in fact its been a year of so much change that maybe an update would be rather useful.

So who am I.

Right now I am a blond haired mamma of 5 I state my hair colour simply because after 12 years of having black hair I am slowly adjusting. I have four amazing girls all at different stages in their lives. I am so proud of them all reaching for their own dreams whilst being rather awesome human beings. To be truthful there were moments where I didn’t think I would survive their teenage years but thankfully I, we did and I do rather like them all. Obviously my youngest at 16 still is at a crucial period but I am hoping the experience from the older two has given me some semblance of patience or the ability to pick my battles.

I’m also now officially mom to an adorable three year old boy, this boy has blessed my life in so many ways. From the moment he came to visit he has had a place in my heart. Its been a journey working through the adoption process but I can put my hand on my heart and say this boy is my son. He may not have been born from my womb but he was certainly born in my heart. I am excited to watch him grow and develop. His character is certainly forming and he is surprising doctors at all times. My boy rocks.

This year has been one of extreme personal growth, the adoption process challenged me in ways I never expected. Without sounding pathetic I have never felt good enough in life, there I was in front of professionals asking them to find me good enough to be mom to my gorgeous boy. Standing there in that court room hearing the judge announce him as my son will stand as one of the greatest moments ever.

Working through the process of adoption has made me question a lot, who am I?

What do I want from life and what fulfils me?

This has challenged me greatly, I usually just go with the flow but this often leaves me feeling unfulfilled and frustrated. I have learnt this year that saying No is ok. That I don’t have to people please all the time especially when it takes me away from doing things I really want to do. Also its ok to turn to others for support and guidance and that it isn’t weakness.

Wow did I really write that, so on that note.

So thats a little about me..

Losing my balance

There is a saying that “if you want to make God laugh tell him your plans”. Well I think the same should be said for Daniel as soon as I told him about my excitement to attend Blog on Xmas last weekend we then ended up on our local children’s ward.

All joking aside whilst I was gutted to miss the blogging conference being by his side is exactly where I want to be.

Thankfully he is doing ok but it’s another reminder of how life likes to throw you curve balls.

Daniel has a form of diabetes that needs balancing, too much or too little can cause us an issue.

Finding balance isn’t easy but it’s a life lesson we all really need.

It’s been a busy couple of months in my chaotic household it’s not an over exaggeration to say I survived summer by the skin of my teeth. I’m exhausted and emotional not a great combination.

Finding balance has been far from easy.

Life is being a little strange right now, relationships are changing and I’m hurting myself with expectations that often get crushed. My lack of balance is affecting my clarity I’m trying to see the wider picture which isn’t that easy when you are smack in the middle of the situation. Taking a step back isn’t always my first decision and hindsight is just that , hindsight.

Plans can and will change and whilst I thought I was getting better at accepting this I’ve realised I’m holding on to so many things that I really need to let go.

Change is inevitable so I must learn to flow with waves and just sit back and enjoy the ride.