Laying foundations – a labour of love


It seems that my children are growing up faster than I might have imagined.  Now that everything in our world has slowed down and after breathing a long sigh of relief, I have noticed how much they have both changed.

I am not sure how it happened, perhaps it was a gradual thing? An inch here, a new word or so there, but somewhere inbetween they have both turned into quite independent little people, who both know their own minds.

To say this is challenging is an understatement. 

I feel like I have been thrown into the ‘next stage’ of parenting, and I can honestly say that I have no idea what I am doing.  Everyday is throwing up new challenges to deal with that are both exciting and exhausting all at the sametime for me.

It is no longer a simple task of telling them what to do next, or giving them a cuddle when they have an emotional outburst.  All of a sudden getting them to carry out a simple task brings with it a torrent of questions as to why? or even the point blank refusal to help.  The days are now a battle of wills I find.  Me on the one hand, trying to achieve some sort of home- life balance where everyone understands their place.  Them on the other hand challenging the rules, challenging each other, and well pretty much questioning everything they come up against.

My boy has shot up. He is taller, his appetite has no bounds (literally I cannot fill him), his energy is over flowing and he never stops.  He always wakes early, has a huge breakfast and then needs to know about what the day has in store.

He has a love of sports, all sports – or really any activity that involves a ball – and it is really rewarding to see.  His favourite sport, the thing he loves above all else is football.  I think this was inevitable given his daddy’s love of the game, but sometimes I think it might be a little bit different for him a little bit special.  It is the first thing he thinks of when he wakes up in the morning and the last thing he thinks of before he falls asleep.

It seems that the hour he plays every week for our local team is just not enough, and so I enquired about some additional training for him.  We went along together for the first session and unlike many past attempts to battle his nerves he ran straight off to join in, not caring that he didn’t know anyone, only caring that he would get to have a football at his feet once again.

As I watched on I saw the new standard that he came up against.  The game was faster, the tackles harder and he was pushed and shoved in an attempt to win the ball by boys faster and bigger than he.  Much to my surprise he kept getting back up, dusting himself off and he ran until he was exhausted.  As the session finished and he turned to walk over to me, the look on his face said it all – he was beaming and he had loved it (apart from being shoved by one particular boy).

I was so proud, my heart could have burst in that moment.

Not because he had done well but because he had put his all into it,  he had given it everything he had. Even if he decides to never go again, I have seen a glimpse of his determined little soul and how he has matured so much over the past year or so.


My girl has changed even more.

No longer a dinky little toddler with corkscrew curls, but a leggy, bouncy little girl who wants to be every bit as tough as her brother.  I have had to restrain her (often physically) at the side of football training with the promise that as soon as she starts school she can start training too.

In the meantime she has thrown herself into swimming lessons and she was beside herself with excitement when I announced one evening that she would be going to gymnastics for the first time to see if she liked it.

Upon our arrival at the gymnastics session, the excitement soon turned into nerves. I had a fleeting worry – perhaps she was too young? perhaps it was too soon? had I made a mistake in bringing her? She joined in sure, but after a while her two fingers went into her mouth (a thing she does when she is unsure) and she stopped.  Dead still.  Was she going to cry?  I held my breath for a moment, and the coach went over to her and whispered something in her ear.  She shook her head.  Then to my surprise after watching the older girls do various stretches – she finally joined in.  I think she must have decided that all of the things they were doing, she could do too, she just had to overcome those nerves in her tummy.  For the rest of the session she did tumbles and balancing all with a giant grin on her face – she may have even gained some friends, and she definitely gained some confidence.

All in all, I have to say that there have been times over the past few weeks where I have questioned myself as a mother. 

Am I pushing them? (I would hate to be that pushy parent).  Are they doing too much? (there are only so many days in a week).  Do they really need to do all these things? In the end though I have decided that all I can do is go with my instincts.

To try everything once in life is a sound foundation to base things on.  If you don’t like it don’t do it, but if you never try then how will you ever know?  It is going to be a fine balancing act between school work and all the little extras, but as long as everyone has a smile on their face then surely it will all be worth it in the end.



It’s All About The Butterflies



I have realised that perhaps the most precious things we have in life are our memories.

The fleeting thoughts that make us smile, those special things that make the butterflies in our stomach flutter.  That flash suddenly before our eyes as if we are there in that place again, in that one particular moment, and it is all as real as could be.

Older memories of school days and family holidays, bring with them familiar smells and sounds.  Newer memories of long evenings spent in the company of good friends, eventually turning into weddings and births.  All of the little things add up to make us who we are.  Individual and unique.

And yet my memories are beginning to falter, to fade, and in some cases completely disappear as if they were never there in the first place.

Myself and my husband recently settled down to watch a film all about a lady who discovered that she had Alzheimer’s disease. Still Alice, told of a heartbreaking story where a University professor begins to lose her memories – and even worse, the type of Alzheimer’s she has is aggressive and genetic.  It follows her story from the point that she realises that she is beginning to forget things – right through to visiting her doctor, telling her own children and then trying her hardest to maintain her career. The story goes on, right up until the point that she forgets the answers to the three important questions she sets herself, for she knows that if she can no longer answer these questions then her memory will have truly left her forever.


It does not take a lot to make me cry nowadays, but this film caught me off guard and I was captivated throughout.  Could I remember the simple question that her doctor asked her? the same question he posed to her upon each visit.  I could answer the question, and so I breathed a sigh of relief, but I inwardly worried that I would fail.

I believe the technical term is ‘chemobrain’, which I hate. 

Sometimes I hate the phraseology that comes with cancer treatments.  A phrase attributed to a change in concentration and memory or the ability to think clearly.  Unfortunately, it seems that my head began to give up on me quite some time before I fell ill, and it is a difficult thing to come to terms with.  Of course I blamed it on the initial hurricane of motherhood.  Another term that I came to dislike was ‘baby brain’.  Whatever you would label it, I seemed to have it.  I have left keys on the outside of doors, locked myself out, left purses in shops, lost my car in car parks.  I have left taps running, irons switched on and I have placed things in the fridge that really do not belong there.

I could go on (although at this point my long suffering husband will have his head in his hands) because this is the daily reality that he has to live with.  At first we would argue about it.  Him adamant and exasperated, me stubborn, and yet in the end we both realised that I am just forgetting things, more and more it seems.

In a way it is funny.. sometimes in life you have to laugh, or you would just cry. 

A friend of mine recently bought me notebook entitled ‘Stuff I am Likely To Forget’, and I use it all the time to make lists and record things that I need to remember. That book comes everywhere with me.  We did have a chuckle at work as I attempted to describe the film Still Alice and I managed to confuse the leading actress for some other Hollywood star.  It was funny, but a little bit tragic – that I couldn’t even remember the film I had watched not one week since, that had made such an impression on me.

And so I have a new found empathy for those living with, or caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s, partly because I am touching the very boundaries of memory loss myself.

The experience is making me more determined than ever that if I am to lose important memories, I will do my utmost to create new and better ones for my own children.

They will forever have memories of singing in the car, cuddling watching a favourite television show, going to the seaside or even sipping on hot chocolate before bedtime.  They are our memories, just ours.


And it is working, I can see it is working.

My little girl said to me at bedtime the other night, “Mummy, that was the day we went to the seaside and I got sand in my shoes” as she pointed to the only picture in her room of me carrying her along Filey beach a few Summers ago (all because she refused to get sand in her jelly shoes!)

That was a very special day, and one that I hope she will never forget.


As ever, the wonderful MacMillan provide support for this




Isn’t it funny? Those sleepless nights



Isn’t it funny that it takes someone not connected to your little world to ask a straight question, and be given a straight answer?

Isn’t it funny that we can see the problems of others so clearly, but yet struggle to give ourselves the same clarity?

Someone recently asked me how long I had not slept for.  The answer, when I thought about it was – years.  And just like that, as soon as the question was posed, I formulated an answer, and I surprised myself with the words that followed.

In the beginning I blamed becoming a new mother.  Sleepless nights, endless feeding – always keeping an ear open for a whimper or a cry.  There have been times when I have shot out of bed in the dark to the aid of a choking child only to sit them upright as their sickness ensues.  I have stumbled downstairs in the dead of night, only to realise that it is just very, very early in the morning and that the day is just beginning.

I reasoned with myself that it is a mother’s job isn’t it?  

To be there anytime of day or night.

The thing is that my children have slept through the night for years now.  My youngest has always been a good sleeper, she takes after her daddy.  My eldest (or the practice child) has always woken at the crack of dawn, but even he sleeps through the night on the whole.  Of course we have episodes of illness like any family, and more often than not someone decides that they need a cuddle in the early hours – but I realised recently that I cannot always blame these little visits.


A few years ago I suffered from anxiety (and that in itself is a fairly big thing for me to admit to).  I would fall asleep no problem, but within a matter of hours I would be awake again.  Wide awake.  I spent many a night battling with it.  Laying very still with my eyes closed – almost pretending to myself that I was asleep.  Some nights I would wake and give in, going downstairs to make a drink or a hot water bottle.  This went on for sometime, almost like a catch twenty two, and eventually I realised that it would actually be a much better idea to make my peace with it.  And so I did. I accepted it, and I lived with it and eventually I learned ways to manage it where I could.

There were points where it was improving but then of course, real life stepped in an threw a ‘curve ball’ by way of illness.  A diagnosis of breast cancer brought with it a multitude of thoughts, worries, fears and those peaceful nights became a private time to pore over research and facts.

I began to write, as a way to draw out the thoughts and emotions dancing around my head.

And it seemed to work, for a while.  I spent a short time in hospital after my operation and the nurses got used to my midnight wanderings.  I would chat them and ask about their day.  I tried to use it as a positive step to get some exercise as part of recovery and I would walk to the end of the ward and make myself a cup of tea.  I think I have mentioned before that cancer patients don’t sleep, and it is true, they don’t.  Sleeplessness is not just a ‘side effect’, as I have read in many a leaflet.

And yet all of that is behind me now, and it is still there.

I have made steps to improve things.  I don’t nap during the day (not that you can as a mother of two), I’ve cut down on the caffeine – treating myself to one or two cups in the morning and the rest decaffeinated.  I have explained to the children that mummy gets very tired and they now each have a reward chart for sleeping a whole night in their own bed.  Even so, I often lay there jealous of my husband as he sleeps so soundly and for as long as he needs.

Sleeplessness is truly awful and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.  It is difficult to describe unless you have experienced it yourself, but it is a little bit like ongoing torture.  Sometimes it is your mind unable to go through all of the day’s proceedings.  Sometimes it is a worry or a fear that haunts your thoughts.  Sometimes it is a slight noise, a tap, a nudge or even a creak.

Once awake, the nights are long and the days even longer.

A friend of mine recently mentioned her sleepless nights due to various worries, and I instantly went out and bought her some herbal tablets to try to ‘calm’ her restlessness.  I almost didn’t want her to get stuck in the ongoing cycle of sleeplessness – as if I could do anything to prevent it.  My husband noticed them on the side and asked if they were for me?  And I realised, suddenly, that the thing that I live with everyday is something that I can notice in others – but not always in myself.

Sleep is so important, it helps your body heal, it keeps you well and you take it for granted until the day it is no longer there..

Isn’t it funny?





To be a good mother..


My aim for the past few years, and for as many as I have left, is to be a good mother.

I realised this in just one moment the other day, as I thought of what I would like to achieve over the coming year.

Now I don’t mean I want to be a mother who excels at everything, with a sparkling home and perfectly turned out children.  However nice this idea may seem, it is not real life – well it is not our life anyway.

What I mean is to actually be a good mother.

I feel as if over the past year or so events have somewhat taken over our family life.  Perhaps unintentionally, but nevertheless it has all become a little bit too much about me and not enough about them.  And that, in my mind is the wrong way around.

In all honesty the fatigue and ill health I now experience has had a knock on effect to family life.  Sleepless nights make for grumpy mornings, contribute to afternoon lows, and certainly do not help as the day draws to a close and little tempers are frayed.  So the first issue I guess, is to tackle my own energy levels and to just make it through a day.

Behaviour is an issue.

I have noticed of late that both children are not behaving in the best way.  I have no issue with them being naughty, kids are supposed to be naughty.  In fact there have been times over the past year where I have almost delighted in seeing naughty little streaks, just to reassure myself that they are in fact happy, normal little kids.  On the other hand, I would like to think that at some stage a trip to the shops or going out to eat will not turn into the debacle that it does at the moment.

Time is also an issue.

All too soon the familiar routine of school and nursery will begin again.  Everything during term-time goes at one hundred miles an hour, and whilst this is normal for most families – I have noticed how quickly time passes and that you sometimes forget to notice the small things.

I want to try harder to enjoy those small things, like hearing my boy read for instance.  Honestly it never fails to amaze me that a few months ago he didn’t even know his alphabet, and now he takes great pride in reading a full story to me.

Time is also counting down for my ‘big girl’ who is desperate to start school, whilst I desperately cling onto her nursery days.  I think I am looking forward to the beginning of her school days just as much as she is, because I know how much it means to her.  In the meantime though, I am going to try make the most of our days off together, because I have realised that in the blink of an eye her preschool days will be over with.


In our house just lately if things don’t go their way, the children boldly exclaim, ‘I won’t be your best friend anymore!’  To which I quietly smile to myself, and I always reply, ‘Oh yes you will, I will be your best friend forever’.

And yet, mine is not the job of the best friend it is so much more than that.  My job is to guide, to listen, to teach, and to pick them up if life is ever cruel to them.

Although I would happily take on the role of ‘best friend’ I am mindful of something somebody once said to me about trying too hard to be ‘cool’ and that the more you try to be so, the more you will fail.  I know that I will fail in this department as, a) I have never been cool anyway, and b) its not even cool to say cool anymore.  So I have decided that I am not even going to try to be the best friend or to be cool.

I am just going to try to be there.

I want to be there to give thumbs up during a swimming lesson.  I want to be there to explain why you walk away if someone pushes you in the playground or why it is wrong to push others.  I want to be there to teach them that you should always give up your seat to your elders.  I want to be there at the end of the day to give a much needed hug where I can.

My son boldly stated to me the other day;  ‘You are not as kind as Topsy & Tim’s mum’, (a mum off a children’s t.v programme) all because I wouldn’t let him finish off one of his selection boxes from Christmas.  Well all things considered that is fine by me.  I am under no illusion that I will never be the perfect mummy (who would I am sure, kindly explain why being greedy results in childhood obesity).  Sometimes I just say ‘No’ for whatever reason, and I just hope that as they grow older they have enough respect for me to accept that.

There are so many elements to being a ‘good mother’ that I probably shouldn’t overwhelm myself with.  Suffice to say though, that trying a little harder would not go a miss.  I may start with getting through the day and ending it with a bedtime kiss without being too grumpy, and we will see how we go from there.

I suppose in the end the only people who can judge my success at being a good mummy will be my own children.  After all, it is their opinion that really counts, it is their memories that will create our story, and it is their smiles that will tell a thousand truths.