Saturday, 25 February 2017

Baby in the corner.

My big girl had her first school social last night. It was a hall full of pre-teenage children and a disco (sound system I presume not a duke box or ghetto blaster) but it seems that when it comes to the party scene, nothing much has changed in thirty years. It was agony. She didn't tell me that but I could see from her face (and the expressions of others as they opened the doors at 9.15pm) when they  all spilled with relief into the open air and clutches of us parents. Why bother? I thought to myself. Is it really necessary to put our youngsters through the situation where we can guarantee that peer group pressure will begin and the feelings of inadequacy are ignited. 

"How was it?" I tried with the jolliest of voices as we walked back to our car.

"Terrible" replied my furious, disappointed, irritated and humiliated girl.

"Oh Darling" I stupidly patronised, feeling helpless, "At least you know for next time?"

"Yes", she stated, "because there won't be one".

I had hoped that she might go, make some new friends, gain confidence, dance a little and laugh a lot.  Wishful thinking I know and highly unlikely but it is every parents hope that life is easy after all. 

Ridiculous of me to wish for such a positive outcome when the world we live in delivers us into situations of complete craziness so often without any warning. It's a pity and a shame. But I am glad that she went because she learnt how utterly absurd it is to expect an amazing evening without much effort. To get self respect, happiness and that all round good feeling we crave, we need to begin by loving who we are. My girl might have written off the opportunity to make new friends by being simply asked for her mobile number but she will have learnt that it takes effort to form friendship. And that we can choose who to be friends with and who to trust. 

"Did anyone ask for your number?" (Same meaning as 'Did you dance with anyone?' from back in the day)

"Yes" she said quietly, "But he walked around the hall asking for everyones number".

Another disappointment ticked on her list which can only be a good thing, I'm hoping. 


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The uncertain certainty.

Sometimes I cannot believe how much my life has changed. Since when? Since my sister died? Not just that but yes, I guess that was the biggest turning point in my life so far. There have been a few. Mum dying was pretty enormous. I won't bore you with more details but it was emotionally life-changing and monumentally a huge shift in dynamics. I was able to be me, at last. Well almost. I never thought that my sister would trump my mother. I am not trying to be flippant (cross my heart) but there is no other way of saying it. My sister has blown my mothers departure out of the water and left me with a mind-blowing yet so obvious way forward. Sound complicated? I hope so. I would hate to fail them both.

Here I am, having been out for a birthday drink with my running friend. I left my three children at home. Nothing unusual there except a fortnight ago, I didn't have three, I had two. We are now a family of four and nothing or nobody can change that. He is simply delicious. I am so proud of my girls for being so naturally accepting and warm. They have shown me that (so far) I have done the right thing by them and given them not only a voice but a choice and both decided quite naturally that  my nephew should (without hesitation) join us. Phew. In my gut, I knew that from the moment I heard it was fatal. I can still hear the machines as I close my eyes at night and the thought of my little sister lying unaware is awful. But unaware she was. Never woke up. Somehow and somewhere, she is now able to watch over me. I am completely certain of that. I knew her boy before I had even met him. Thanks to how much I loved her. I hope she knew that. He does. He is fast asleep upstairs surrounded by love and with a family who instinctively and naturally adore him. Lucky thing.

What is it all about? Is it as simple as your time is up when it's up? Absurd risks and bucket lists that we all make but maybe there is always a time limit? I am dead certain that I will be 96. I have said that for years. I might be wrong (unlikely) but if I am, my girls will know what to do. It's in the gut. No complications and no fuss. Simple and straight-forward. Just do it. I made the decision to take on my nephew without even knowing that I was making a decision. That is exactly how it works, how it should be. We all get chances. We have to make decisions. We have opportunities and we can walk by or take a few chances. At some stage not so long ago, I realised that my life was more valuable because of the lives I am responsible for. More so now than ever. So I won't be doing any free-falling or bungy jumping. I won't be climbing Everest or Kilimanjaro and I won't be entering the NY Marathon until all three of my children are old enough to join me. I will, however, be counting my lucky stars that I have been given three children to love. I am fully capable of running on English soil and my bucket list can still remain but might have to be extended for a decade or two. My life  has changed unrecognisably in the last few weeks but I am capable of turning this unexpectedly shitty situation into an opportunity for love, connection and peace. It really is that obvious to me. 

Oh and if you were ever in any doubt, don't question my loyalty. I am stupidly protective. I am, and always will be, the big sister.


Saturday, 4 February 2017

Grief is greedy.

A dear friend of mine made this statement when Mum died 4 years ago. I didn't really understand it, not until my sister died last month. Now I get it. I wish I didn't but fuck, do I get it. Just a couple of 'best friends' (relatively new friends let's be honest) who are outraged, appalled, concerned and livid. Unable to control their feelings, not thinking of the little minds who pick up on their bullshit excuses and reasons. Truthfully, anyone can be upset and all of us can grieve but no one has the right to claim anything when the only person who could tell the truth is dead. Fact. 

But to cause trouble by calling social services? That's absolutely not what my sister would expect. To wish for any one of the four children to go into care rather than be with family? Regardless of what this malicious person thinks, trust me, there is no better option than for each child to have the chance of true, family love. Luckily, the law agrees with me so we are safe. It is with great sadness that my sisters death has created such nasty emotions in a couple of human beings that typically taint a very private time. The memories of this sudden horror will fade but I will never forget unfortunately. 

Top tip to all of us- be very careful what you say when someone dies. Bite your lip and think twice before an expletive, a suggestion or a joke comes out of your mouth. From experience, certain remarks are very hard to forget. 

I can't sit still.

I'm having real trouble putting my leg up and doing nothing. I have such a long to do list and I can't do it.  "Ask for help!...