Tag Archives: Love

A Mother’s love – how our broken bond was mended

From the first moment I held my newborn son in my arms, I was head over heels in love with him. No, scratch that. Since the moment I knew I was pregnant I loved him. I loved him fiercely and protectively, as a mother should, right from the very start.

He’s six and a half now and I can’t really remember what my life was like before he came along. He has completely changed my life. In the seven years he’s existed I’ve gone to hell and back with my health. I have tortured myself over his health (he’s fine, he’s absolutely perfect, but it wasn’t always so). I’ve lost my career and forged a new one. But most importantly, I’ve discovered what it is to love and be loved back unconditionally. 

A Mother's love - how our broken bond was mended

At various points in his six and a half years, I’ve stopped and looked at him in wonder and thought “right now, right at this very moment he could not get more perfect. This is the best age he has ever been, it can’t get better than this surely?”

I’ve made a point of keeping that moment in my head and storing it away, because it’s impossible for him to get any better than he is at that moment, but it does. I’ve had so many moments of “oh my god, this is the perfect age” that I’m pretty sure that every age is the perfect age.

Before you decide that I look at my son through rose-coloured spectacles, I do not. I am incredibly aware of his faults. I am the person who bears the brunt of his tantrums. I’m the person who has to pick up after this child who walks through the house leaving tornado like destruction in his wake. I am the person who tries to teach him to be a good human, full of care and compassion. My son is not perfect, he is flawed like the rest of us. He’s human, not super-human, but still lovely.

A few weeks ago, over the Easter school holidays we had a night away in Blackpool, just the two of us. We had the best time and it was so good just to chill out and do things together at our own pace. We missed his Dad of course, but it was only two days and he was busy working anyway. 

It’s been a tough 12 months for us. I lost my Dad and he lost his Grandad. It’s been a year of tears and sadness. There have been splashes of light and colour, it’s not all been widow’s weeds and lighting candles in remembrance. But our two days away reminded us both of the good things we have in each other and it has really brought us closer together.

I never thought I’d bond with my son the way I have. When he was two years old I had an accident, followed by two emergency surgeries. I was bed ridden and full of pain medication for 8 months. In that time I was a zombie who couldn’t care for myself, let alone anyone else.

My amazing husband stepped up and parented for the two of us, but in that time the mother-son bond was damaged and it’s taken a lot to get it back. We’ve always loved each other, always enjoyed being with each other, but his go-to parent has always been his Dad and I’ve often felt excluded.

A Mother's love - how our broken bond was mended

Last night my son sleepily presented himself at my bedroom door. He wanted a cuddle because he couldn’t sleep. So he got in with me, we cuddled and then he fell asleep in my arms. I looked at him in the orange glow from the street light outside and my heart swelled with love for him. He is as good as it gets and I am delighted with that.

Right now at this moment, this is the best he has ever been. This is peak Benjamin. He cannot possibly get any better than he is right now. He is funny, helpful, kind, caring, loving and very much his own person. Six and a half is the best age. He is the best, my best and I am blessed by his presence in my life and the bond we share.

A Mother's love - how our broken bond was mended

40 – My 40th Birthday

Today is my 40th birthday and I feel weird. Lots of my friends have turned 40 this year, most have been dragged kicking and screaming into their fourth decade. I feel like it’s just crept up on me. I’ve been too busy dealing with everything which has happened to us this year that my 40th birthday has been the very furthest thing from my mind.

I woke up this morning and I was 40. In all honesty I feel no different to how I did yesterday. It’s just a number. I’ve got bigger things to worry about than numbers.

Right now I feel like I am overflowing with emotions. I miss my dad more than I have words to say, my boy is starting school today and I’m all emotional about that, he’s having an operation soon, I’m emotional about that too. I’m touched that I have great friends who spent some of their weekend with me partying the last days of my 30’s away.

I am conflicted and anxious about a million different things. But in the weeks since my dad’s death and through the summer holidays, I have been reminded of the two most important people in my life, Matthew and Ben. This weekend has shown me all the people who care about me, friends old and new, from near and far. I am very lucky.

I guess (and I know I’m rambling) that I’m struggling to give a meh about anything. I feel numb inside, I’m overwhelmed by life and the only way I can keep putting one foot in front of the other is to focus on Ben. I feel like in some situations I’m faking emotions and joyous reactions to pretend to the world that everything is fine and normal. I am faking it until I make it. I wonder how many people do that just to get through?

I’m fine and I will be fine. I’m just going through two things almost everyone in the world faces at some point or another, turning 40 and losing a parent. I would turn 40 a thousand times just to have an hour with my dad. 

Today I’m going to try and be in the here and now. I’m going to focus on Ben and Matthew and the special people in my life who love me and care for me. I’m going to smile for the camera, take a walk in the park, blow out the candles on my birthday cake and raise a glass to my dad, and to my Grandma who would have been 103 today.

I don’t fear 40, it’s just a number. I fear life and what it will challenge me with next.

40th Birthday

Taking care of me – why I need some self care

Since my dad died a month ago I’ve been trying to process everything and find a way forward. It’s all become a bit too much for me this last week or so. I know I need to have a word with myself and get myself to a tolerable place before the school holidays start. Rolling around in a mixture of grief and self pity whilst looking after a lively five year old do not make happy bedfellows. Self care is the order of the day.

I have a week to sort my head out as much as I can, so here’s my self care plan:

Stop constantly refreshing Twitter. Take a social media break as best I can. Social Media, Twitter especially is a real life saver, but sometimes I need to step away and stop obsessing.

Go out with friends. I have excellent friends and they shower me with love, support and sarcasm. They will put me in a different headspace and help me process things and move on a bit.

Cuddle my boys. There’s nothing quite as healing as holding someone you love and who loves you right back really hard for as long as possible. Hugs help a lot, so I’ll be going in for them as often as I can get them from as many people who offer them. I may leave the hugee with a slightly damp shoulder. Sorry.

Sense and Sensibility. I have many favourite films and right now I have a very deep yearning to close the curtains and watch Sense and Sensibility and cry my little heart out. For some reason quotes from that film keep popping into my head and I think I just need to spend a couple of hours watching Alan Rickman quietly break his heart and mend it again over Kate Winslet.

Writing. I often (much like I am now) write my feelings out of my head and onto my iPad. Sometimes they end up on my blog, sometimes they get deleted. Either way it gets those thoughts and feelings out of me and it does help me feel better to articulate my emotions, which can only be a good thing.

Sleep. I hardly sleep anyway so it will do me no harm at all to aim for some decent restorative kip, even if it means taking pills to achieve that. I usually get around 3 hours a night and I’d like to try for 5. Anything above that would be something of a miracle. No, I don’t know how I function either.

Work. I continue to dabble around the edges of work. I’m freelance so that’s a luxury I have, I can’t really afford that luxury but for the sake of my sanity this is how it is. I’m pickier than ever because I’ve only got so much inner battery life in me each day. Work is useful, it occupies me and gives me some structure to my day, but I don’t want to overwhelm myself when I’m already feeling pretty overwhelmed by life.

Food. Well this is the best diet ever. I’m either not eating at all or eating tiny portions of stuff. Not great stuff, not overly nutritious stuff, but I’m trying to eat something every day.

Plan nice things. I’ve got a couple of nice things in the diary coming up. Again I don’t want to overwhelm myself but it’s good to have things to look forward to. Like my best friend coming to stay and us making a dent in the case of red wine I’ve got sat gathering dust.

Plan nothing. I also recognise that importantly I need time by myself to recharge, regroup and gather strength for whatever lies ahead.

Times of emotional crisis of this magnitude are thankfully rare. It’s times like this when true friends and the people who really do care step up and offer support, either by sending the odd message of support, taking me out for a pint or offering a shoulder they don’t mind getting cried on.

I’ve been lucky that some excellent people have been there for me and helped carry me from one day to the next, but I’ve found the odd person who you think will be there for me through whatever and they’ve ditched me. That’s human nature, it’s a particularly crappy side of human nature, but it happens. 

Over the coming days, weeks and months I’ll be focusing on what is best for me and my little family. I’m running on empty, but I hope some self care will help me gather the strength to continue and return to a version of my old self again. 

self care

Grieving: Mending my broken heart

My broken heart just really needs a big cuddle right now and I need to learn how to do that for myself.

It’s been three weeks now since my dad died. I’d been doing pretty well until last week, keeping strong and ploughing on. I’ve been outwardly cheery and strong to the point where you’d think nothing of any consequence had happened in my life. 

The first couple of weeks after someone dies you’re busy. You’ve got stuff to do, people to talk to, arrangements to make. Then it all stops and the world carries on without you.

Last week the world quietly took itself off pause and carried on and I crumbled. I crumbled and touched the edge of the abyss and I scared myself. Last week there was time and space for me to open the door a little bit on my grief. I shone a light inside and saw that my heart was broken. I have an utterly broken heart.

I don’t know how to mend my broken heart. Everyone says that time is a healer. I’ve been quoted three months to get over the shock, one year to get through the first tranche of painful anniversary memories and three years to get over it properly. I’m taking it one day at a time and for the record I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

I am excellent at compartmentalising things. I put little lumps of feelings, painful experiences, whatever, in boxes in my mind and when I’m feeling strong enough I take one down off the shelf and look inside. Sometimes I have a rummage about and wonder what the fuss was about, sometimes I slam the lid shut for it never to be opened again. 

I think this is a box that will become very well worn over time. I’ll take it down, open it a bit, deal with whatever pain and sorrow I can and then close it and put it back where it come from. I also know the box next to it on the shelf contains a whole load of really wonderful, special memories of my dad too. I’ll try and open that box and share its contents as much as I can too.

I love my dad. He was one of the biggest and brightest stars in my universe. I will always love him and I will always miss him and I’m going to try very hard not to fall into the abyss again. He told one of his friends that I was one of the strongest people he knew and I’m going to try and make that true.

broken heart

Nothing will ever be the same again

Grief makes everyone act and react in different ways. On 25th June 2016 my dad died suddenly and I was tossed into that weird limbo stage, part grieving, part organising everything, part comforting his also grieving friends and relatives. It’s been nothing short of a privilege to know my dad, he was a one off in the truest sense and we have been overwhelmed with love and support since he died.

Nothing will ever be the same again.

Everyone copes with loss differently. I can see this in my immediate family and in his close friends. There are said to be five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. For me I feel like I rattled through them quite quickly, but even now as I write this just over two weeks since I last saw him, I am very aware of the gaping hole he has left in my life. I will miss him forever. I know this to be a fact.

In times of adversity, and there have been many of those such times for me in recent years, I have turned to my dad, my husband and to a small but loyal band of close friends to help me through.

My dad is no longer able to support me, but I knew him pretty much inside out and well enough to second guess his immediate response and what advice and guidance he would give. I know in this situation we’d be indulging in some gallows humour and bantering our way through the trickiest bits in order to not look the full horror of his loss in the face. I thank the friends who have made me laugh, really laugh at this time. I know he’d probably want to shake them by the hand.

My boy Ben has been fantastic. At just 5 years old he doesn’t really understand what’s happened and why I’m so upset, though I try not to be too glum in front of him. He has granted me extra cuddles, he’s made me smile a great deal and almost managed to tidy his room. If you ever need a distraction from grief I’ve found a 5 year old boy is pretty effective.

My dad and my husband had a special relationship. They’ve known each other since we started going out in 1995. He started working for my dad in 1998, becoming a partner in the business in 2000 and when my dad retired in 2013 he handed the business over to him. They worked together for a long time, didn’t always see eye to eye, but made it work. I think they had a tremendous respect for each other.

My husband has lost someone incredibly special to him. We all have.

My friends have been excellent. Too many to name, all messaging me offering quiet support, making themselves available for trips to the pub, or for lunch and just letting me talk and cry and laugh. I am incredibly lucky to have such good people around me. I know these words to be an understatement.

I think I’ve managed to choose the best friends I could hope for. Every message of support, every card through the door, every whisky raised to my dad has been very much appreciated.

The funeral may have been and gone, and life must for almost everyone return to normal. For me nothing will ever be the same again. It will take time for me to learn to live my new normal, find a way to be without my dad there to pick me up when I fall down.

I always see adversity as an opportunity for change, a chance to alt-control-delete my life. Something big may come, or something small. But whatever happens I know that my dad instilled in me humour, logic, love and the steely determination to get through and succeed in whatever direction I choose to strike out in.

I’ll miss the old bugger. But I’ll keep trying to make him proud of me if it’s the last thing I do.

Nothing will ever be the same again

Love wins – playing parenting good cop bad cop

At 3am this morning the screaming and shouting started. The small boy had woken up and was engaged in complex negotiations with his dad about returning to bed and going to sleep. The small boy has a bad cold and is what can only be described as incredibly overtired.

I lay in bed and listened to the back and forth between father and son. After 20 minutes or so of tantrums and tears I intervened. It was clear it was my turn to play bad cop, so I marched in, confiscated the Lego he was arguing over at that moment and threatened to put all of his toys in bin bags unless he got into bed.

This did not work, he sat on his bed cried a bit harder. I went back to my room and waited for the next stage of negotiations to fail. This is ridiculous, he’s perfectly capable of going to sleep and I’ve never heard him behave like this for so long. I thought about it while I listened to them.

It was my turn to play good cop. My boy was poorly and tired. When I’m poorly and tired I want someone to cuddle me, stroke my hair and sing soft kitty to me. I warmed up his hottie, made a little nest for him under the blankets on my bed and welcomed him in for a cuddle and some love from his mummy.

Within minutes his tears had dried and his breathing was slowing. I squeezed him a bit tighter and told him I loved him and that I’d always look after him. He was asleep and snoring quietly to himself soon after. What’s more he slept past his normal 6am wake up and right through to 8am which is tremendous.

Today I resolve to love my son a little bit more and give him the things that I want and need. Love, friendship, consideration, affection, laughter, happiness, safety, freedom and respect. Last night at 3am I lost sight of the poorly little boy with needs and was more concerned with getting the household back to sleep. This is not a licence for him to get away with 3am tantrums every day, but a reminder to me that I need to think about why he’s behaving badly and deal with the cause and not the effect.

Today we’re having a lazy day with lots of cuddles and calpol. Tomorrow is a new and hopefully brighter day.

Good cop bad cop

Anxiety, self discovery and all you need is love

The other day Facebook dutifully reminded me that it had been three years since my last spinal operation. Whilst these daily Facebook memories are meant to be a nice thing, perhaps reminding you of lovely memories of years gone by, my reminder that three years ago I was in hospital wasn’t a great one.

On one hand it’s nice to look back and reflect on how far I’ve come since then, but on the other hand it’s an unwelcome reminder of a dark and unhappy time in my life. Three years ago I was a mess, I spent much of the summer in the grip of anxiety and having the worlds longest panic attack. I couldn’t bear to be in the house after eight months of enforced exile and once I got out it was one long non-stop party, all great fun until the hangover kicked in and I was alone with my racing, panicked thoughts again.

During that summer in many ways it was like being a teenager again, always out at parties and on boozy nights out. I was part of an intense little group of friends who propped me up and enabled me in equal measure. I still see them now, though not as often and our nights out are less wild and carefree than they were.

Since 2013 I’ve been on an intense and sometimes painful journey of self discovery, there have been long and intense periods of navel gazing and introspection. I know and understand more about myself and what motivates me than ever. I’ve had therapy and CBT which were useful and useless in varying degrees, but importantly, most importantly, I’ve had very good people around me.

People who have posed questions about me and my actions and what drives me. People who somehow manage to completely understand what is in my heart better than I do. People who love me for who I am and without coddling me, love and support me when I’m down and champion me when I’m up. I am lucky, so bloody lucky.

Some people come and go, but they always leave their fingerprints on my heart however fleeting our friendship. I am intense, I know this, but if you’re my friend I will love you, support you and fight your corner. My best friend (who knows me better than myself) says that I love unconditionally; which is a beautiful, innocent thing, but it does leave me open to bumps and bruises. A slight snub that most people would brush off, a passing remark, a small criticism, it all hurts and scars.

I know I’m not alone in being tender hearted. The world is full of people quietly breaking their hearts over a half imagined injustice. There’s no known cure other than toughening up, but why should I? I have a heart full of pure love, why should I harden it and become like the others? I know I probably sound like some old hippy, banging on about love, but an old hippy once said “all you need is love”, and they might just have been right.

Valentine’s Day Crafts & Activity Sheets

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the small boy and I sat down for an afternoon of Valentine’s Day crafts and activity sheets to get us into the spirit of things. Generally Hubs and I don’t much go in for too many hearts and flowers, we’ve been together since 1995 so we’ve seen more Valentine’s Days together than most, but a heartfelt card and a small token gift is always the order of the day. 

We’d already started to make some cute heart shaped decorations using a heart decoration bead kit from Baker Ross. The kits include some nice long pipe-cleaners and lots of colourful beads. You thread the beads onto the pipe-cleaners and then bend into a heart shape. The kit comes with a little bell you can attach to the heart and some ribbon so you can hang it up. It was a lovely, fun activity which we did together. It was also great for helping to develop his fine motor skills which are essential with helping him to learn to write.

Valentine's Day Crafts

A reasonably quick but fun craft we did was to make these heart pets photo frame fridge magnets. Again these are from Baker Ross and they’re really easy to put together. The foam pieces and googly eyes all have peel off backs, so you just peel everything off and stick it together. The small boy enjoyed putting the frame together and making his doggy. He said he’s going to give his frame to Grandad on Valentine’s Day, because he loves him *heart melts*.

Valentine's Day Crafts

Again, the peeling and sticking actions are all great for those fine motor skills, and for exercising his pincer grip, we can’t get enough of that kind of thing at the moment.

Once we’d put our craft box away, we decided to have a go at some of the Valentine’s Day activity sheets we’d printed off from Twinkl, including the Valentine’s Day worksheet and the Valentine’s Day word and picture matching worksheets. These went down very well with the boy, we started with the word and picture matching, he spelt out every word and we looked at the pictures to see which we thought might match the word, he loves this kind of activity at the moment so I was glad we had a couple of sheets of these to do.

Valentine's Day Crafts

The worksheet was a little more challenging for him, he’s not a confident writer, so together we thought about some of the questions and how we might answer them. He verbally listed everyone he loved (dogs first, naturally) and then said his best friend was Daddy. He was getting tired by now, so we called it a day. I didn’t want to push things as that can be counterproductive. It was time for a cuddle and a walk in the park!

Valentine's Day Crafts

We both love our craft afternoons together. It’s lovely to see him focus on a task and enjoy sitting with me. These quiet moments with him are probably the highlight of my week. I think I know who my Valentine is this (and every) year.

Dear son, on your 5th birthday…

Dear Ben,

I’m writing this here because you know what your dad is like for putting things in a safe place and then losing them forever. I’m sorry, I’m going to get all squishy about you now, I’m not sorry actually, because you should never be sorry for loving someone.

Dear Ben, today you are five years old. In your head you’re a big boy now, able to do everything yourself, apart from dealing with buttons, zips and fiddly yoghurt pot lids. I look back over the last five years and see what an incredible feat of development childhood is, how you’ve gone from completely dependant on me for everything, to where you are now, shouting at me because you can’t get into your pudding quickly enough.

You are awesome. You take so much of life in your stride. For most of what you can remember of your life I’ve been “poorly” or in chronic pain as the doctors call it. You can’t remember me chasing you around, swinging you over my head, rolling around giggling with you. I can.

I don’t think you mind (yet) that I can’t do those things any more, and you help me out, taking my shoes off, doing my bending and lifting for me, fetching and carrying for me. You’re a star. At five years old people think you shouldn’t have to “care” for someone else, but caring for other humans we love is part of life and part of loving someone. Selflessness seems to be an increasingly rare quality, and my son, you have it in spades. 

You are so full of love for everyone, you tell me you try and play with everyone in your class so no one feels left out, that you love everyone in your family best, and that you love dogs. Really love dogs. It’s a very good thing to love dogs Ben, dogs will be your best friend for life if you let them, you’re never lonely if you have a dog.

I can’t believe that you’re five now. Just like I won’t believe it when you’re 10, or 18 or 21 or buying your first house. Time is a horrible thing, it moves too fast when you want to grab it and hold it to your chest, like a tiny little baby, or a five year old boy, or a grown up lad with his first broken heart.

Time ticks on, runs away from you, the trick is to make the best of each moment, you might not get it right, but good enough with no real harm done is often the best you can hope for. Life is far too short to be unhappy, so be happy and if something is stopping you from being happy, change it. 

Ben, you fill my heart with so much love and happiness, your dad too. I hope you have a brilliant birthday, that you like your new bike and all of your presents, and that you enjoy having all the people who love you best around you on your special day. Keep being brilliant Ben, because you are.

Love you to the moon and back!

Mummy xxx

5th birthday

12 Things I love about my son

I get a bit teary sometimes when people ask me when I’m going to have my next child and I have to tell them I can’t have any more children. The loss of what might’ve been I feel acutely, but I know I am bloody lucky to have what I’ve got.

I creep into his room most nights to look at him, partly because he’s still for once and I can get a good look at him, partly because he looks so damn cute when he sleeps, and partly because I think it does me good to fill my heart full of love before I go to sleep at night. So with that in mind, here are 12 of the things I love about my son…

  1. I love the sound of my son yawning when he’s having his dream wee.
  2. I love the way he sleepily snuggles onto his dad’s shoulder when he’s carried back to bed, like the little boy he is and not the big boy he thinks he is.
  3. I love the way he wakes me up “like a princess”, which is to kiss me like Sleeping Beauty might be kissed by her handsome prince.
  4. I love the way he climbs into bed with me for ten minutes of putting stickers in his farm book before he goes to school.
  5. I love the way he shares things with us, breaking off a small piece of his toast for us and sharing every bag of sweets he gets.
  6. I love the way he stands with his hands on his hips, surveying the street like a tiny foreman, pointing out anything of interest “look mummy, a rubbish lorry”.
  7. I love his sleeping face, peaceful and angelic, still with the soft round cheeks of a small boy, framed by his long eyelashes a thousand girls will later envy.
  8. I love the way he slips his hand into mine when we walk together, his is so warm and soft and he doesn’t mind me squeezing it as I try to burn the memory of his little hand into my mind.
  9. I love the way he loves music, asks for it to be turned up and rocks out whenever he has the chance.
  10. I love reading with him, baking, making crafts and drawing. I love talking about our days and about all of the things in our lives.
  11. I love how polite he is in company, how he will behave impeccably in a restaurant, how people say he’s a credit to us.
  12. I love learning about him. He’s good at counting, less good with phonetics, loves sport and is a bit obsessed with robots.

I love him. With all of my heart.

Of course there are things I don’t love. The rough play, the tantrums, the frankly gross habits I know I’ll be moaning about for the rest of my life. But I’m the mother of a boy, a beautiful, lively, intelligent, caring boy. And I wouldn’t swap him for the world.

things I love about my son