Jigsaws – a new addition

Something lovely happened in our world two weeks ago, and I have been dying to say it out loud ever since.

My sister had a baby!

It has been like a huge secret that I have been bursting to share, and I can feel a ridiculous grin spread across my face as I type because it really is the best thing that has happened to our family in quite sometime.  Nowadays the prevalence of social media means that you have to be careful when getting excited about someone else’s news, and of course it has not been my news to ‘tell’ really so I have kept quiet (well as quiet as is possible for me).

When I first read Lisa Lynch’s blog Alright Tit.com there was a point where she found out that she was to be an auntie to her brother’s baby entitled Auntie Gobby.  This little moment of happiness, of hope, she fixated on and she clung to with everything that she had.  I now understand all of her feelings, because all of a sudden we have something positive to focus on – something that matters so much more than any of the small things.  My mum is a proud granny, my sister and I are humming with excitement, the children are excited to teach the new addition to the family all of their naughty ways.  For months the children have tried to guess whether it would be a boy or a girl, Noah wanting it to be a boy as we are girl heavy on our side of the family.  Isla willing it to be a girl, and choosing a very traditional name Emily, which I knew my sister and her husband would never opt for.  We went to great lengths to explain to them that it did not matter whether it was a boy or a girl because the most important thing was that the baby was healthy, this of course fell on deaf ears, because the boy wanted ‘team boy’ and the girl ‘team girl’ in the most obvious child like way.

Well she is a girl, and a very perfect one at that.  She has dark hair like my sister’s girls but lighter skin like Noah.  She has a look of my niece when she was a baby, but at the same time she has a look of her very own.

It is difficult for me to explain my feelings about my new niece other than to say that there are certain times in your life that fit together like a jigsaw.  Ashani Lye is one of the missing pieces of my jigsaw, I haven’t even met her yet (which is hurting my heart) but she has fit right in just where she belongs.  She is a miracle baby in more ways than one, and there is no doubt in my mind that she will continue to be very special indeed.

Isn’t life funny? one minute you are rushing around, never quite taking stock of the important things, and the next minute something so wonderful happens that forces you to stop and realise that the privilege of life is a wonderful thing.  I suppose that is just the way it is, and I more than anyone should know that.  A lot of the time my jigsaw is at the confusing strewn all over the floor stage and some of the time I stare around at it and think ‘where the hell do I even begin?’. Sometimes though, just sometimes, everything seems to fit into place.

The new addition to the family has brought things into sharp focus for me.  A few years ago when we were considering the possibilities of IVF treatment before my chemotherapy began, I had a very different view.  We had decided not to have anymore children.  We had concluded that we were more than satisfied with our ‘lot’ in life.  We had two healthy children and as we sat in the consultation room we decided that we would leave things up to nature from now on.  We were well aware of the side effects of chemotherapy, and yet do you know what?  It was still an incredibly difficult pill to swallow for me personally (you would have to ask my husband how he felt about it all).  Even though we knew we were lucky, and even though we decided to put my health first – the reality of someone telling you that you will not be having anymore children and the decision being taken out of your hands is as unfair as life gets I think.  So much so, that when good friends of ours announced they were expecting again I burst into tears, completely irrationally of course because I was so happy for them, but I felt selfishly sad for something that maybe could have been.  Having said all this I am left with more than my hands full, and in reality a third child would have left us squarely outnumbered I am sure.

The past few weeks both myself and my sister have worried so much for our younger sibling as we know only too well that being a mum is hard.  On the day(s) she was in labour I had a fleeting conversation with my cousin, stating out loud that I wished I could have gone through it for her.  Of course I couldn’t, but the want to protect someone you care about from going through unimaginable pain is a real one.  Everyday we are dying to ‘help’ or impart knowledge from our own experiences, but she doesn’t really need that, all she really needs is sleep… and perhaps a hot shower.

And so I will continue to grin at my little darling niece.  The baby who makes me smile a ridiculous grin each time I see her.  The baby who cheers my whole day up in her little combat onesie, and the day dreaming thoughts of finally having my cuddles with her.  She makes me forget about things that have been, and look towards the nicer things to come.

A little reminder that life goes on, one of the final pieces of my jigsaw for sure.

 

To Jay and Paul, thank you for making us all smile (and sorry in advance for anything her cousins teach her in the future)

Source Art: Yolande Sanchez and Disney image from Pinterest, Alexazdesign Etsy.

 

Both Sides Now

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There is a moment in a famous film that makes me cry.  Every time.  A moment when Emma Thompson’s character realises that her husband’s gift is a Joni Mitchel C.D.  All at once life seems so unfair, and the tears fall as the realisation sets in all around her.  And then she takes a big deep breath, so as not to show that her heart has been broken, and she ushers everyone out to the school concert.

Life goes on, whether you want it to or not.

It has been a rocky start to the year for me, the end of last year beckoned new beginnings and the chance to close the metaphorical book on things that needed to remain in the past .  And yet something happened that I think will change the way I look at things forever more.  A friend of mine passed away – the angels took her, far too soon.  She passed away as a result of breast cancer and it really hit me.  All at once the change of year seemed unwanted, as if time was moving on for those who did not wish it to.

Grief is a strange thing, a private thing.  How do you even begin to be a friend to those you care for who have lost someone so dear?

One thing that I have learned is that you don’t do is to rush them.  To speak, to do, to even grieve.  As a friend, the thing that you want to do the most is to comfort, to ‘help’, but it turns out that the best thing that you can do sometimes, is to do nothing at all.  That is not to say that you can’t show that you care.  Standing beside someone in tough times, in silence is sometimes the only thing needed.

I had always thought that I had the qualities of a good friend, and I have to a certain point, but I have learned a few things of late that have made me take a good look at myself, as a friend and a mother.  It is ok to show kindness, when it is needed.  It is ok to be around, but at the right time.  It is ok to show that you care.  The question is, when the right time is I suppose.  I have made a few mistakes in this regard which I intend to learn from, in the hope that this will make me a better person going forward.

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And so the children have begun their school term again, somewhat begrudgingly after the lovely times we spent together over Christmas.  I have noticed changes in them both.

The boy has grown taller and wider.  New clothes are needed and he has started to notice brands, and ask for certain trainers.  He is too big now to share a bath with his sister, and he regularly asks to stay up later – wearing this like a badge of honour.  Older children get to go to bed later or so he says.

His sister on the other hand, is on a rollercoaster ride of growing up.  She too has grown, but she needs her sleep to grow, and tiredness remains a daily battle for us both.  I am struggling as a mum to get her to eat, I have noticed that her appetite wanes in line with her tiredness.  I have become almost desperate to ensure she eats and remains happy, doing things that I always vowed as a mum I would never do (making special themed packed lunches) going in to school where I can, or even inviting friends for tea.  It seems to have worked for now, there have been three whole days of no tears.

And as for me, well I continue to plod along.  One day at a time, with plenty of laughter and music along the way.  I have truly looked at things from both sides now.  I have seen the beginning and the end of this cruel disease.  I have realised that moments and memories are to be treasured and learned from – that is all we can do in the end, is to try our very best.  And so I will keep on trying.

Sometimes, just when you think that you have life all figured out, you realise that you really don’t know life at all.  I know that I certainly do not..

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way
 
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
 
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all
 
Moons and Junes and ferries wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way
 
But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away
 
I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all
 
I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all
 
Tears and fears and feeling proud,
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way
 
But now old friends they’re acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day.
 
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all
 
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all
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Songwriter: Joni Mitchell
Art: Olivia Pendergast

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.

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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