The Jumblings of Life – a shepherd and a reindeer

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It has been a little while since I have written anything down, my thoughts and fears – our day to day carry on.  It seems that the jumblings of life have picked me up and swept me along as if there is not much time to stop and take a breath.  But stop I must, because next week almost to the day is the school Nativity.

This time two years ago I made a promise to myself not to take any of the things that I had in life for granted – ever again.

I remember it as though it were yesterday, the determination that I found deep within me to make my little boy’s first play at all costs.  I remember it because I refused to keep the all important appointment, the one where I knew that the almost unthinkable would become true.  The one where I knew that those dreaded words would be spoken – you have cancer.  As I have said before I did not need the confirmation at that time, I already knew, and so I refused to listen on that day and instead I made room for something much more important.  Far more important.

There was something about making that play… Perhaps I needed to go… Perhaps I did not want to miss the memory… Perhaps my boy needed to catch my eye in the crowd… Perhaps he needed the thumbs up as much as I needed to give it?  I remember it clear as crystal, and that is quite something given that my memory is fading.  I remember the children singing the all too familiar songs, the nerves on my boy’s face, the tears welling up in my eyes.  Tears of happiness though, not sadness.  Tears of gratitude, that I had made it.  Tears of pride.

Since then a lot has happened.  An awful lot.

I am still no good at being the organised mum.  We still rush around in the mornings at one hundred miles an hour, except now my little girl has started school as well, and so there is double of everything that I do not seem to be able to manage.  There are something’s that will never change.

The hardest part that I have found of late, is coping with the second school term and my daughter’s seemingly endless tears of tiredness.  She is exhausted, I am exhausted, and this does not make for a calm day to day carry on.  I still forget important school things, money for the tombola, hats, gloves, drinks and the all important afterschool snack.

Something’s will never change, maybe I will never change.

There are a few things that have changed though, and for the better I would like to think.  I make more time to visit friends when it has been a while.  I say yes more often than not to the weekends away for some ‘me’ time (although these are laden with guilt).  I frequently drop everything and collapse in a heap on the sofa to watch a movie with the children, or I say yes to treating them both to a hot chocolate and over-priced cake at our local Costa coffee.  More than anything I have noticed a shift in myself.  An empathy (if that is the right word to use) towards those who have been through similar things to myself.  A good friend recently told me that he and his wife had lost a dear friend to breast cancer, and he paused as he told me, as if unsure as to whether he would be hurting my feelings.  He went on to explain that their loss had made them think of me, and what I had been through.  It did not hurt my feelings at all because I understood their loss and the emotion and anguish that they must have been feeling.  As time goes by I am feeling less raw and more hardened towards those difficult discussions.  If anything, I had a sense of pride that he felt that he could confide in me, because cancer is a lonely place – not just for those going through it, but for friends and family too.

Sometimes I do  get angry at myself for letting the jumblings of life sweep me along.  For taking for granted some of the little things like health, and love and happiness.  I suppose though, if I have the presence of mind to put the breaks on and just stop, just for a moment, then that might just be enough.

This year I do not need to remind my husband to take some time off to go to the Nativity.  He has already done it, he is already there, because the importance is tangible to us as a family.  This year we have a shepherd making her school play debut and reindeer with a very important line to say.  This year advent calendars are once again counting down, the tree is yet to go up and there are lists and lists of things to just ‘get on and do’.

I have decided that I will not be remembering the exact day that those words were spoken to me, as I know many others do.  I am going to enjoy the fact that my memory seems to be erasing some of the finer details of that day from my mind.

Instead, I will be trying to catch the gaze of my children from within the crowd as they seek it out.  As soon as I do, my face will light up and my heart will swell as I signal the all important thumbs up to them both where I can.  Children, it seems are better than medicine – it turns out that they are the best thing of all*.

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* Even though they drive me to distraction most days.

Repaying a kindness – always remember

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I am not sure what you call it, but I will try to explain regardless.

The most simple words I can find are, well, working class. Do we still cling to the class system?  Are we still defined by our parent’s social status?  Possibly or possibly not so much nowadays.  And yet on an evening when I have fielded questions about who is Grandma’s mummy, and who was her mummy? and eventually who will be my own children’s children’s grandma, and once answered – the then inevitable, but what if you die mummy?

I find myself back in the thought process of what I would like my children to know – you know what if.  So I shall address the rest of my message to the only people who really count… my Noah … my Isla…

Well my loves therein lies another lesson for you and I will try to explain the best way I know how.  You must always, always, pay back a kindness that is shown to you.  Always.

There is no doubt that your daddy & I have some of the qualities of the working class.

Honesty, integrity, hard working and kind.  You probably won’t fully understand what I am telling you until you are much older, perhaps with families of your own and even then, who you will become and how hard you work will just be a part of you – it will be in your heart & soul.

This time last year I was recovering from treatment, a treatment that I received for free on the NHS.  All of the appointments, the surgery, the therapy, the drugs and treatment, all of it for free.  Had I been on a private healthcare plan I would have seen each part of my care broken down pound for pound, and yet I received the same level of care regardless.  And to say I am grateful is an understatement, however, sometimes to be grateful is not enough.

When you have been brought up with good values, sound values, you understand the ideology that when a kindness is done to you, you return that kindness – many times over where ever you can.

So tomorrow on the 9th October your daddy will be running the York Marathon.  He’s not a runner – he has trained, sure, but the reason he is running at all is because of me.  You see, I am the love of his life.  Now we don’t go in for soppiness, your dad and I.  We have never even spoken about it – and yet I know that he feels the same way that I do.  We share the same values in life.

You must always repay a kindness.

So tomorrow is the big day.  The day Gareth Matthews will run the York Marathon.  He is not a runner.    And yet… every single step your daddy takes tomorrow will be for me, for my nurses, doctors, surgeons – a thank you for a deed done to us that weighed far greater than we can ever repay.

Be proud my loves.  Be proud of every step your daddy takes as he is no ‘natural’ runner and yet he is putting himself out there, he is running twenty six miles all for one person, and one person only.

Your mummy.

Tomorrow we will wake up early & wish him well.  We will cheer him on. We will fight against the cruel disease that takes families apart.  For it has not taken us, not yet anyway.  Daddy is running the whole thing for love and the thanks that we owe to St James’ hospital in Leeds & Yorkshire Cancer Trust.  Every single step.

So thank you, a huge thank you to all concerned.  There will never be enough thanks I don’t suppose, but if there ever was someone to look upto in your lives my little ones – you see your daddy over there? Gareth Matthews?

He is the best daddy in the world, and he is all yours…

Thank you – from the bottom of my heart Gareth Matthews for repaying the kindness paid to us all last year.

It means the world.

If you would like to contribute to Gareth’s race his page is here

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Gareth-Matthews4

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My Secret Diary – my voice

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I have been having a little think recently about where I want to be.

In all honestly I have struggled to write anything down lately and I can’t put my finger on why, how, or even when it started.  You see I have changed since all of this began, quite a lot it seems, and it only really dawned on me more recently when this ‘secret’ diary of mine became nominated for an award.  How lovely you might be thinking or what on earth is wrong with her?  What an honour for others to recognise your writing and to be shortlisted to represent such an good cause.  I thought that too for a while, until I slowly but surely felt a pressure to write instead of feeling the freedom and enjoyment I usually have when jotting down my thoughts.

After the initial elation of being nominated really for anything, the reality began to set in that in order for anyone to actually vote for me, they would have to read what I had written and judge it for themselves.  It would also mean that an awful lot more people would be reading my story and my life.  My little life.

Another worry I had was that I would not know anyone if I did go to the awards.  I had previously met three girls at another event and that was all.  This presented me with a few problems because it meant that I would have to overcome anxiety to speak, and not only that but actually explain who I was and the subject of my writing – which is not so easy for me nowadays.  And so perhaps it was a combination of these things that made me freeze and no more words came out.

This has happened to me a few times over the months and each time something has happened to shake me out of it.  This time it was a short message from another mum who was experiencing some of the same emotions that I had done all that time ago on that One Particular Day when I drove to pick my boy up from school feeling a numbness inside, and once again I was reminded sharply of exactly why I write.  And so I kept reminding myself over and over after that message that it was an honour and a privilege to be nominated for such a thing, and that I would be representing all those whom I have come to know that have been face-to-face with the shitty C word.  Oh how right Lisa Lynch was.

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Having said all of this I still did what I do best, and I pretended that it was not in fact happening (I am pretty good at denial) and sure as you know the days passed and all of a sudden it was the night before the event.

Of course I need not have worried because the girl whom I had arranged to travel with was even nicer than I already imagined that she would be.  As we both sat on the train we chatted and the inevitable explanation of who I am came out, and yet I found that her story was equally as tough to tell and she told it without falter or pause for thought.  She kindly introduced me to her lovely friends and they welcomed me as the newcomer warmly and openly, much to my relief.  Eventually the evening came and I finally decided on an outfit that I didn’t much care for and donned a brave face, hands shaking.  The night had arrived and after the meal, the nominations were read out dutifully.  In particular when the main award was read out a brief synopsis of each person and their blog story was told, and I felt like mine was a surreal tale about someone else.  I didn’t win, but I didn’t need too.  All of the right people on the night won for their own reasons, each as important as the other.  I knew on that evening that the importance of raising awareness to a room full of parents far outweighed my anxieties.  In particular I had the pleasure of meeting a girl called Heidi who has been diagnosed with breast cancer too as a young mother.  She won ‘Best Writer’ for her blog Storm In a Tit Cup, writing a darkly humorous account of her own.  That girl has lost her baby, gone through treatment, and continued to look after her two young children all in the knowledge that she has stage 4 cancer.  It is hard to know what to say when you meet someone as amazing as that, so we decided to dance instead.

Overall it is a good job that I did not win an award in the end, because I would have undoubtedly fallen up or down the steps to the stage or descended into a pool of tears.  There was one thing that I wished I had been given the chance to do though, to thank those who have supported me and those who continue to do so.  My long suffering husband, my mum and sisters and auntie who all felt my nerves, and the friends who have continued to hold my hand along the way.  I am not sure there will ever be enough thanks, but thanks there should be, because it is family and friends who have been there step for step too.

The next day I set off home and I can honestly say that I have never wanted to be at home more in my life.  I felt a pull and a need to be with my family – right back where I belong.

You see, I been having a little think recently about where I want to be.

There is no doubt that I have changed, not for better or for worse, but just different that’s all.  I still laugh and joke as I always have, but the nerves come a little more easily nowadays, as do the tears.  I have decided that I may continue to write this ‘secret diary’ of mine, or that one day I may just stop.  For now though I will keep on jotting down all of the things that come along and hope that just one other person will read this and think ‘I am not the only one’ or even that perhaps my children will read this when they are older and remember the day that their mummy came home.

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Thanks to Sarah, Julia, Emma, Helen and Heidi

 

Turning back the clock

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My girls starts school next week.  My little pride and joy.  In truth, I am trying not to think about it too much, but then the thoughts keep creeping back into my mind somehow.  My overriding thoughts are ones that I cannot dispel and there is one wish in particular that I know can never come true.

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I wish I could turn the clock back.

Just for a moment. If only.

If only I could, but I know I cannot. I know deep down that it is a silly thing to say and I have never been one to regret or look back over my life (too much anyway).  I just can’t help but wonder if perhaps I could have done things differently.  Perhaps I would have been checked out earlier?  If I had only fought that overriding sense of anxiety, would it have all turned out differently?  Would I have caught ‘it’ sooner?  And if I had, would it have meant less treatment? A treatment that stopped me spending precious time with my children.  A treatment that stopped me taking them to and from school and nursery.  A treatment that kept me in bed even when I fought to get up in time – just to remind them to have a lovely day.

What if?

There is no point to wishing and what ifs, and yet if I ever do let my mind wander I wonder what could have been.  I cannot help it. Perhaps it is a normal way of thinking for people who have experienced illness, or perhaps I shouldn’t look back at all?

Next week is not about me, it is about my little girl.  All of the guilt, the nerves, the excitement and the worry belong to me and I will lock it up and hide it somewhere that she cannot see.  It is the end of an era but also the beginning of a new one and a new chapter in our lives.  All of her nerves and uncertainty will be calmed by myself and her daddy the best way we know how.

I have realised that the overriding feeling I have right now, in this moment, is one of pride. A great sense of pride in my daughter, in the little girl that she has become and the young lady that she is growing up to be.image

Of course we have spoken about school, what it means, what will happen in a vain attempt as parents to fend off any of the ‘unknowns’ and uncertainties.  Careful not to talk about it too much or introduce worry or fear, but just enough to acknowledge that it is happening.  To her and to me. In one such conversation recently I complemented her saying what a ‘big girl’ she now is and she told me that she doesn’t want to be a big girl, she wants to be a baby (out of the mouths of babes I thought).

And so as next week draws near and I attempt to label new uniforms and check all is as it should be, I have welcomed the sense of pride as it is one which I am very lucky to have.  Things could have been very different for us, and perhaps they still could be.

Aren’t I the lucky one to be able to feel her nerves ?

Aren’t I the lucky one who tells her that it is ok to cry if she needs to?

Aren’t I the lucky one to have taken her shoe shopping for her first school shoes?

Aren’t I the lucky one to hold her hand as she walks through the school gates for the very first time?

There is no doubt in my mind that she will soar through school once she has settled in.  It is just that the settling in part is a very real hurdle that needs to be overcome.  My girl is bright and happy and articulate.  Her personality shines out of her once she is sure and only then will you ever catch a glimpse of her eyes sparkling.  Until then there will be the odd tear no doubt (for us both), and her fingers will be placed firmly in her mouth as she secretly wishes she had her special blanket.  I know that she will look hopefully for her brother in the playground, for a familiar face.  She may spend weeks in her bubble until the teacher manages to reassure her, and only then will she shyly answer to her name.

One thing is for sure though, that she can be absolutely certain of in the coming weeks of change.  I will be there, or her daddy, waiting for her at the end of the day with hopeful eyes and arms outstretched.

Aren’t I the lucky one to be able to stand at those school gates waiting for my girl?

September 2016

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Art by Yolande Sanchez

Sandy toes & Salty kisses – no such thing as perfect

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This year the summer has come around oh so quickly.  In the blink of an eye my girl finished nursery for the very last time, and my boy said goodbye to his Year One days with glee (I note here that his keenness for school is beginning to evaporate).

This time last year I recall making a promise with myself to take as much of the summer off with the children as possible, so as not to miss a single minute of them growing up.  And much though I would love to have done the same this year – it just is not as realistic as it seems.  The beginning of the holidays saw a summer sports camp for three days while I had to sit at work wondering how each child was doing.  I knew they would be enjoying themselves, running around a cricket field all day in the fresh air and making new friends, but nevertheless my girl seemed to be the smallest one there.  I am glad that I trusted my instincts because they did have a lovely time and it helped me to loosen the apron strings just a little too.

Two weeks sped past, and soon we were on count down to our little seaside holiday. I think it is fair to say that the children whipped themselves up into a frenzy before we went.  Counting down the number of ‘sleeps’ and asking all of the details of the planned trip. It was so sweet to see them both so excited as they tried to remember all of the things that we had done in previous years.  I think this is perhaps my most favourite thing about having children, the excitement that is injected into everything you do that almost seems infectious at times (and makes you excited aswell).

For the first time I was organised, and I mean the ‘mum’ kind of organised that I always expect myself to be but never quite reach.  I spent an entire day packing, ironing and thinking ahead to the things we may need. For once I was ahead of the game, and the usual morning chaos that ensues upon leaving did not happen this year.

As always we found ourselves at the mercy of the Great British weather yet it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm.  We spent a day on the beach with friends, strolled down the sea front with family at the nearby town, and ate fish n chips and too many icecreams.

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We hilariously tried to fly a kite as is our little tradition, and we failed miserably due to the wind being too strong.

We had tantrums and tears about broken cricket bats and dropped icecreams, and the sand got into places it really shouldn’t have.

It was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, in fact it is fair to say that at times we all fell out in one way or another (the children about who got into the car first, the grown ups about who forgot the all important suncream).

Overall though, I realised that I was truly happy.

Trying to sit on a picnic blanket that was being blown away for five minutes before being called to get up by one of the children.

Laughing at my little girl squealing as the waves chased her back to the beach & making everyone go on the odd walk to take in the sea air.  I slowly began to understand that ‘perfect’ is not always how you picture it, and that the high standards I seem to have in my head don’t always apply.  I started to relax and let things go, all the things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things…

In the evenings we let the children stay up later and we went to watch the shows put on at the holiday resort (this was their most favourite part, but not necessarily an easy thing for grown ups).  We had wine and gave in to the pleas for sweeties.  There was a pantomime and a circus show, and a fair few discos.  There were noisy arcade games that no one ever wins at.

Up every morning at the crack of dawn I realised that we would never get that coveted ‘lie in’ no matter how late we let the children stay up for.  And I suppose the day that we actually do get that lie in will be the day that they are beginning to grow up, as the teenage years come closer.

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More than anything I was thankful for the energy.

Last year we had the very same holiday, at the very same place and I have to admit I found it hard.  I could not get through a day, and the days at the beach took another full day to recover from.  The children were younger I suppose, and I was in a very different place too.

This year though, there were sandy toes and salty kisses.

This year I got to explain what the different plants and birds were along our walks.  This year I had to reassure my son that the shape out in the sea was not, in fact, a shark.  This year I taught the children how to catch the dandelion fairies dancing around our caravan and to make a wish when you set them free.

My perfect it seems, isn’t perfect at all.  My perfect is actually being in the picture (on my hands & knees making the all important sand castle) and being there with a giant warm towel after jumping those waves.

 

Poem by Erin Hanson

What is it like to be a mummy?

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Both of my children delight in asking me very random and spontaneous questions.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am pleased that they come to ask, it is just that these questions often begin at around 6.30am.  Upon opening my eyes I more often than not come face-to-face with that little face waiting for an all important answer.

I always try my best to answer, although of late I am much slower to.  It takes me while to come round in a morning nowadays, and ‘quick fire rounds’ of multiplication or addition take much longer than they should to answer – and sometimes I am ashamed to say that I cannot find the answer at all.  This of course, is unacceptable to the child who loves his numbers.

And the curious questions about the world continue all day long.

Why is the lady in front of us in the queue wearing those clothes (a sari)?

Why does the man walking with a dog have a white stick?

Can men marry men, and women marry women?

Why do some people not have mummies or daddies?

Why are people different colours?

Why shouldn’t we eat too many biscuits?

When are we going on holiday? Followed by, how many sleeps will it be?

When will daddy be home? (x100)

More recently though my girl has taken to asking me repeatedly how old I am.

The thing is, she knows how old I am, and yet she insists on asking all the same.  ‘Mummy, how old are you?’  ‘Isla, you know how old I am.’  ‘Are you thirty three or thirty four?’  ‘I am thirty four now, I had my birthday remember?’  This is followed swiftly by, ‘Will you be going up to Heaven?’ I more often than not answer with the same thing.  ‘No, not yet darling.’  Sometimes it ends there as she drifts off to sleep, sometimes she checks how old daddy is too.  And I am happy to answer, of course I am – non of us will live forever that is a certainty, and yet it breaks my heart a little more every time she asks because I know her, and I know why she is asking me.

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For all that I thought my children coped with my year of illness well, it seems that the fall out of our family’s change has in fact left its mark on them, whether I like it or not.  My baby doesn’t want me to leave her, and the feeling is mutual. So I sit for that little bit longer where all the books would tell you to leave – I let her hold my hand or cuddle in, if she needs.  Next I wander into her brother, who always stirs as I kiss his forehead and always asks me to stay a little while, and the answer is always, and will always be the same.  For some reason, no matter how steadily I answer the Heaven question it never seems to get any easier, because in truth I do not know when or how long I have left with them and it would not be fair for me to say otherwise.  To any of us.

I have noticed that as the day draws to a close all of the sporadic thoughts or worries often tumble out at bath time or, as a last ditch attempt to keep you talking instead of lying down in bed.

This evening was no different, after a busy day and a chosen story book, the question came out of the blue as I tucked my girl in.  She looked me square in the eye and said, what is it like to be a mummy?  And I was taken aback for a moment, searching her eyes to see if she had asked in jest or the words had somehow been jumbled up in a way only a four year old can.  I wondered if I could in turn explain myself, the way I wanted to in that moment?  So I replied.

To be a mummy is one of the proudest, most wonderful things that you could ever feel.  It is like being in love more and more everyday and you both make me very happy.  I stop and check her eyes to see if my hurried answer has met with her approval, and she flashes me a smile as I kiss her forehead.

I think I did it justice, I hope I did it justice.  Had I been given more warning, more time, and perhaps had she been a little older, I could have articulated the feelings a little better.  I could have explained that it is the hardest job in the world in one way, to feel so responsible for the things that you love the most in the world.  The never-ending feelings of letting them down when I am cross or grumpy or shouty.  Followed oh so closely by the surges of pride and emotion that accompany either of them doing or saying something for the very first time.

So for now I will look forward to my next question tomorrow morning, jumping straight into the day ahead.  I will continue to be thankful that I have another day to answer as many questions thrown at me as I possibly can (no matter how big or small), and hope that I answer them correctly.

What is it like to be a mummy?  It is exhaustingly, most wonderfully, most frustratingly the best job in the world. (even though I am not particularly good at it, most days) More than anything I hope that I will one day get to see my girl become a mummy, because I know she will be the very best that she can be.

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My Complicated Gorgeous Niece

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In my purse tucked away in the pockets somewhere is a small Polaroid picture of a little girl who stole my heart, from the very moment she made her entrance into the world.  Anyone who has a niece will know that there is a special bond, almost difficult to explain, the moment you are handed a baby who may as well be your own.  Freya Ysobella was the most beautiful baby girl and stirred up many emotions in me that I have since experienced with my own children.

As my first niece (I have two) I have  watched her grow into a beautiful young lady who very much knows her own mind.  She is bright and intelligent, sensitive and very clever.  She has a good heart and is very passionate about what she deems to be right and wrong.  Indeed her younger sister and my own daughter are all ‘cut from the same cloth’ and they are spirited to say the least.

Over the years there have been ups and downs – most noteably the day we took her to the park and pushed her on a big swing, of which she promptly fell off.  We then took her to the sweet shop to try to bribe her silence.  Her silence could not be bought.  As she grew up she found her love of dance, regularly twirling down supermarket isles and singing the words to her favourite songs.

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She also loves politics or rather social behaviour, and I am not sure how someone so young can be so aware of the elements of our society, our rules and human rights but she is.  She always tells us that one day she will be the Prime Minister of our country.  I do not doubt this for a single second.  She is determined, very determined, but in a Martin Luther King sort of way which may not necessarily suit the current climate of politics and party ‘values’ that we all know.  I truly hope she does go down this path because I need to believe that the next generation will bring with them a new honesty and integrity to our country.  More than anything I hope that she does not have her spirit knocked out of her because it is so refreshing to see.

Last year I faced the most difficult conversation that I have ever had with her.  She knew something was wrong, she sensed it, and we had to tell her.  I wondered to myself – how on earth do I tell someone so young who depends on me so much that I am very ill?  So I wrote her a card and bought a small keyring, and reassured her that I would be alright when I in fact had no idea that I would be.  I felt like I was shattering her childhood and her innocence all in one go, but the reality of life meant that honesty was the only way.  Without a shadow of a doubt it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  At the time it felt like the younger the person was, the harder it was to tell them – and so we hugged and she was brave, and I willed myself not to cry.

A year on, and she has changed beyond recognition.  She is leggy and tall (now my height).  She shares adult conversation and attempts to teach me things about technology and teenagers, neither of which I am ready for.  As all teenagers seem to do she regularly disappears into her room craving space and time to grow into herself.  A once quiet girl now clashes with her mum with a cheek and opinion that I know awaits me too when my own reach teenage years.

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We recently took her to a concert and she came along as one of the girls. She wore a leather jacket and jeans and a t- shirt with a touch of makeup and she just looked stunning.  It almost panics me to see how fast she is maturing and the pressure of guiding her along the right path is always on my mind.  I needn’t worry though because it is quite evident that she has her head screwed on the right way.  She is sensible (for the most part) and I know that part of growing up will mean letting her go to find her own way, and to make her own mistakes.

It always makes me smile when she asks my opinion or permission because she is met by exactly the same response her own mother would give her, and I remind her that her mother and I are sisters and so essentially the same person (much to her frustration).  She has two other Aunties too who are just like me and she is a lucky, lucky girl.

As her Auntie, I hope that I will be there for her as her shoulder to cry on when her heart is broken for the very first time.  I hope I get to see her on the day she gets her exam results or even on the day that she graduates.  I would love to help her settle into her first home or even have tears in my eyes as she walks down the aisle one day.  I would love to be there for all of those things, so much so that I almost dare not say it out loud, in case it should never come true.

My complicated gorgeous niece is without doubt one of the things I am the most proud of in my life, and I did not even make her myself – but I might as well have.

 

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To my Freya Belle, love you x

(p.s Lauren you are doing a fantastic job)