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Familiar

 

I miss the familiar, the knowing that this is what happens and how it happens. The routines, the traditions, the moments that make sense.

I find comfort in these, in the knowing and the expectation.

My familiar is changing, whilst I have craved for its continuity it merges like the seasons, Spring into Summer, Autumn into Winter.

This was my normal, this became my new normal and now well, I’m still in the process of adjustment into another new.

I miss those that aren’t in my life anymore, the familiar sibling teasing, annual disagreements and over played songs.

I know life is ever changing but sometimes I just wish It would stand still just a little.

Someone once told me “that life was an adventure”. But every adventurer has to have a time of rest, of recuperation.

Who can endlessly search the oceans, or travel the world?

Who can endlessly swing from moment to moment,
without pause, a breath?

I want to breathe deep right now. I wish I could breathe deep into the smell of Olivia’s freshly washed hair. Breathe deep into the familiarity of what used to be.

But I’m breathing,

My lungs are inhaling the new. The season of thankfulness is upon us and I am so thankful, so very blessed by my new.

My heart it sings for my little man, how the excitement of a an advent and the celebration with him as mine.

My new son, is slowly becoming my familiar.

His blond gentle waves and curls than won’t lie down. The little cusp of his lip that raises with his cheeky smile. The softest of his fingers as he reaches out for my hand. I’m loving my new familiar.

Past, present and future all the combination of my heart. Part of me longs for the moments gone yet another is just so thankful for the now.

I’m torn between the then and the now,

So I close my eyes, open my heart and embrace the familiar.

 

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.

#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.

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!

My favourite photo

This was taken in May this year and it was the first photograph of Daniel without his NG tube. It isn’t my favourite because it’s the first without his NG but because of my relief of seeing that smile after surgery.

 

There is nothing worse that handing your child over to surgeons and theatre staff, you have to trust them with your heart. This gastrostomy surgery was the first we had faced with Daniel and nothing could have prepared me for the fear I felt as I left the theatre, my legs literally felt like lead. I could barely breathe for the hours he was in down.

So this photo is my moment, the moment I could breathe again. 

My son

I looked around the courtroom convinced everyone could hear my heart beating in my chest.

I could barely breathe, could barely trust in the moment.

“Congratulations to you both on your new son.”

It was official

It was complete

This precious gift was now ours to call our own.

Yes i cried, to be honest with the amount of adrenaline pumping through my body i was surprised i didn’t burst into dance.

My heart exploded, the love i had held on too wrapped in chains of fear was now free to fly.

My son

My beautiful precious boy.

Adoption is a journey of pregnant moments.

Full of expectation,and excitement but also full of pain and fear.

A free-fall into the unknown.

A parachute silk woven in faith.

I cannot say its been easy,

A labyrinth of broken promises and painful expectation.

Yet whilst the scars will take time to heal.

Whilst the emotional burden will take time to lift it is with no doubt in my heart that i can say

He is worth it all and so much more.

My son

My precious boy xxx

 

Sixth form style 

So my daughter has just finished her GCSE’s and i was expecting her to relax and have a few weeks not thinking about school, tests etc etc. Erm no she is now driving me mad talking about her style for sixth form. You see she finally gets to escape the uniform she has hated for the last five years. The lovely burgundy blazer that can never be removed even in the hotest weather and the white blouses that never ever fit right.
Yet whilst she hated the uniform it was a comforting place to hide within. Everyone having to wear the same does stop the judgement, well a certain amount of it as anyone who has a child in senior will concur that teenagers will find any reason to argue and tease.

So sixth form is a big deal for my baby girl. Its a time for people to see her beyond the uniform. Its exciting and scary at the same time. She has to find her own style in the confines of the prescribed restrictions.

She is excited but nervous.

Last nights conversation was regarding her bag. For many years due to the number of sporting activities she has done she has always had to have a backpack of some sort, one large enough for sport’s gear, school books and drinks etc. So returning back to school with no sports obligations she can now  look at all styles. She is now wondering what would be best “Tote or Backpack for college?” 

Whatever she chooses Im just hoping 6th form will be the where my girl can find her place. The place where she realises how beautiful and amazing she is whatever she is wearing and she learns that her style is whatever she wants it to be.

 

Writing when it hurts

Sometimes I get scared to write, scared to allow the truth to flow through my fingers. I preach about transparency and owning my truth yet at times my reality frightens the crap out of me.

Right now I feel on the edge of cliff I can see the rocks bouncing down the sides disappearing under the waves and I wonder how long this ridge will hold me. I can feel the erosion burning up inside of me, my will, my strength slowly crashing towards the water.

To say there is a lot going on in my life right now would be a massive understatement, the stress of exams on my girls has been worrying. Watching them tie up their hopes and dreams in pieces of paper is heartbreaking. Their value should not be decided by a cluster of standardised tests.

But this is the truth of life isn’t it?

We search for our own value in others judgements, others tests, others expectations.

I don’t want to do this anymore, I don’t wish to turn myself inside and out by the expectations my anxiety has created or those that don’t matter.

I cannot be all things to all people and cannot or will ever be perfect, yet i live each day berating myself for just this.

See this is maybe why I should have stayed quiet, yet a wise woman told me that truth can heal and that truth can set you free and that I needed to continue to write.

So here is my truth, the strive for perfection is an never ending quest, yet it also the biggest load of bull I have ever been told.  Perfection is a farce, something that can never be achieved, never be obtained. You see perfection comes with chains where truth comes with freedom.

Its ok for me to admit I am overwhelmed right now, to admit that anxiety is eroding my soul. That I want to run away from the world for a while or to simply just find some peace to calm my mind. It’s ok to admit I’m human, I hurt, I cry and at times I will break.

This is my truth.

It’s not our choice

Having a disabled child wasn’t part of my life plan. I was shocked, confused and generally devastated at first. I had to slowly find my own peace with the life that I had and the disabilities of my child. But if I am honest there were times where I was frustrated and angry at the way her condition controlled my life.

I couldn’t holiday easily, we couldn’t get insurance to fly for a start and the fact  that there was always a high risk of cancelling, due to hospitalisation, illness etc.

I couldn’t work full time, there was no way I could meet all her needs, hospital appointments and therapies whilst being a productive employee.

I couldn’t have an evening out without proper planning in advance and hoping that I would get some respite that was few and far between.

At times I couldn’t even go to the toilet on my own without fear of her seizuring in my absence.

There were so many choices taken away from us all. 

But the reality is that my lost choices were nothing compared to what Livvy faced.

Right now my local council has decided that parents of children with special needs post 16 have to pay towards their transport to school. Their reasoning is that most parents have to pay when their child goes to college etc and that its only reasonable that we put towards this cost as transporting our children is expensive.

£600 a year, is this fair?

Lets look at this closely,

I didn’t choose my daughters school, I didn’t get to make a decision on league tables or the curriculum offered.

My daughter didn’t choose her school, she didn’t get to view different courses, or placements and come to a decision that was her’s. No the council and it’s professionals made the choice that this was the school suited to my child’s needs.

They didn’t consider the fact that every morning she would see her sister’s get up and dressed in a different school uniform and watch them leave with their friends.

They didn’t consider the fact that maybe she didn’t enjoy travelling 30 minutes each morning and afternoon to and from school.

They never considered that myself and many other parents like me struggle to be in two places at the same time often twisting ourselves up with guilt from missed performances, parents day and so much more.

No they made the decision on the best place to cater for her needs and I understand that. Yet why are we being asked to pay for something we had no choice in?

I am actually not saying that I have an issue with paying towards the service but I do think it should be in line with the costs I would have to pay for my other daughters. I don’t know many parents that have a spare £600 lying around and if someone mentions mobility to me again I may scream. Have you tried to fill the tank of a mobility vehicle on what our child receives each week? Do you drive to numerous medical appointments, pay for parking at so many hospitals for again reasons beyond our control, our choice.

Olivia didn’t choose to have Rett Syndrome, she didn’t choose to fight each day. She didn’t choose to have uncontrollable epilepsy and she certainly didn’t choose to lose her battle for life so early. 

I am so tired of seeing disabled people persecuted for something that is out of their control. Our children didn’t choose not to go to the local school, they didn’t choose not to be able to walk the journey on their own, backpacks on their backs as they laugh and joke with their friends.

They didn’t choose this life and as their parents we didn’t either.

Yet right now our local council are making parents feel as their children’s education is a luxury, a luxury that they have been funding. I’m sorry Walsall Council I completely disagree. You have an obligation to support our children with an education, the fact that these education placements are far and few between well that with your current funding and cuts to school is only going to become more of an issue and isn’t our fault or our choice. Do you not think we would love to walk our children to school, to chat with other parents on the playground, to be able to feel less alone in our already isolated worlds?

But before you harp on at parents already struggling to survive with reduced respite, reduced support,cancelled play schemes etc please remember this, these children, these parents they don’t have a choice.

Our lives, our children lives are far from what we had planned. When we celebrated their conception and decorated their nurseries we never imagined the lives we had yet to live.

We are trying, trying each day to make the best of it all. To love on our children with all that we have. To fight for therapies and support that will enhance their quality of life, and most of all we fight for their happiness, their chance to do whatever they dream.

Because whilst you may see them as expensive, we see them our hearts.