Blue snowflakes

One of the brightest lights on our family Christmas tree has gone to twinkle alongside our other lost loved ones.

Christmas won’t be the same without you, but we will shine on in your honour, with the little bit of your light that you gave every one of us.

 

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All of the stars are fading away, try not to worry, you’ll see them some day.

There’s nothing I can write that won’t have already been said tonight.

My heart hurts so much for Manchester. We live in the age of terror attacks. We anticipate. We are on our guard. We get knocked down, we get up, we move forward. Moving forward hurts more each time.

I grew up in an age where the biggest concern attending a gig was whether you’d get your camera in or not.  We camped out for tickets, we rode the metro to the venue and we danced our hearts out to our idols. Then we headed home, elated, ears ringing as we discussed and dissected each moment of the night. What could be more pure?

Terrorism has crept closer and closer to the things we love. My stance in the past has been defiance. You can’t let madmen change our way of life. If you do that, they’ve won, I’ve said it time and again. I feel different tonight. Suddenly I cant find my defiance. These victims were children. Families. Doing things that we’ve all been doing for years, celebrating our freedom, our youth, our life, through music.

What’s the answer? What’s next? We screen in airports, stations, theme parks. A cursory glance through your bag at a gig was always enough. But this madman, this creature, this waste of human life- he waited. In public. You can’t screen every person in a public area. So he hid in plain sight and waited, to fracture our freedom once more.

I’ve cried for those babies who aren’t coming home. No matter how old they were, they’re someone’s baby. That tears at my insides. I’ve cried for the good we see in humanity as the rallying cry goes up: we stand together. Those people make Manchester great, Britain great, humans great. Regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation. Our diversity is precious- so rich and full of wonder. Yet inside of our shells, we all have a beating heart and a fire in our souls. We must use our heart, our soul and our passion to stand together. Side by side, united and steadfast. It’s hard to get up again. Its hard to find defiance. But we take the hands of loved ones, friends, community, strangers and we help one another to stand again. And we keep holding those hands as we stand tall.
Love always wins. Its the only way.

Don’t you want me baby?

Something has happened which I wasn’t anticipating for a while yet. I mean, I knew it would come eventually, but this soon?

Yes, my almost eight-year-old has become mortified by cuddles. I remember my own mam saying something when they were babies, about how eventually they become not so keen on getting squeezed and nuzzled. Of course, that makes sense, and I guess it is a bit mortifying when you’re nearly eight. The thing is that it seems to have happened overnight.

I mean, from being born he wasn’t one for squishy cuddles- he always loved to be held facing out over. He was nosy and loved engaging with the world. He never sat still for long. So hugs were always grabbed when the opportunity arose, before he was off again. He always hugged back; with pudgy little arms in the early years, more recently with the muck and scratches that seem a permanent fixture on those growing arms.

These last few days, I’ve noticed that when I chase him to scoop him up in my arms, he’s different. He pauses, leans into me, lets me squeeze. But doesn’t squeeze back. He smiles, there’s love and affection, and then he runs off to continue what he’s doing. Imagine my confusion. I’ve taken to following him around like a needy puppy, grabbing hugs and hoping that it’s a phase. ‘Love me!’ I want to whine. ‘I’m your mama, you’re only a baby!’ Then I look at him, and I see he’s not. His floppy hair hangs over his eyes, and he brushes it back. He’s wearing some kind of character t-shirt. Cargo shorts. Trainers. He’s asking for my laptop to research his homework. He’s growing fast and although he’s always going to be my baby, he’s no longer a baby.

I have to let him grow up. I remember a boy in our school who we ribbed relentlessly on a weekend trip to an outdoor centre.  Why? As the minibus pulled away, through tears his mum yelled ‘I love you! I’ve packed spare underpants! Remember to blow your nose!’ All of our parents were probably fighting back tears, finding themselves with a lump in their throat as their babies were sent off into the world-albeit in a safe, controlled and Ofsted regulated way. But this lady, she was full on ugly crying. I know now just how she felt. But at the time, that was comedy gold for a bus full of schoolkids who just wanted to fit in and not be the one that was different. So, we were merciless in our taunting. Before I feel too bad about it all, I remember that we all have our crosses to bear. Chris may have been laughed at for his overprotective mother, but I became the target later that weekend when I refused to sleep near the window. In case the headless horseman knocked on it…

So after my latest half-hug I asked ‘have you gone off hugs? Don’t you like them anymore?’
‘I do like them mam, it’s just..  the cartoons are on! I still love you though. More than the cartoons and everything.’ So wow, he loves me more than cartoons, and he really loves watching cartoons. So I guess we are good. And as I tuck him in, he asks for a back rub, and a tickle on his hand, something we’ve done since the baby days. So underneath the noise and the mayhem and muck and enthusiasm, my little boy still needs me.

Anyway, it’ll be ok… I still have my littlest one. Who is the cuddliest, kissiest, squeeziest little peach you’ve ever met. Since birth he loved being right near me, on me, always in my arms or in a sling. I have a feeling that he’s gonna be hugging me for a long time to come…

My dreams become nightmares..

When you dream that the cancer’s back… That sucks.

Blindsided by dreaming of what you’re trying to forget.

Pushing the conscious thoughts away only makes them resurface elsewhere, and usually more profoundly in one of those dreams that hangs over you all day.

The dream isn’t real but the feelings are; do I try to shake them off or is it just another way of suppressing things?

Fuck cancer.

What a day for a daydream.

Time has passed me by so quickly these last few months. Christmas and all its ‘busy’ came and went, then the turn of the year and its sense of renewal. Suddenly it was February, and the day after Valentine’s we were all stocking up on half price heart shaped chocolate and wondering why the Easter eggs were already on the shelves.

Fast forward and I’m now wishing I’d bought said Easter eggs earlier. We are now bang in April’s pastel coloured, fluffy creatured, springtime glory and I’m as disorganised as ever.

Today’s plans were: do something wholesome and outdoorsy with the kids/make easter crafts/plan egg hunt/be an all round easter goddess, glowing with the first rays of spring. Instead, I’m back in bed at 11.30 in the day, after a terrible night’s kip. I can’t get back to sleep but I’m lying daydreaming, listening to the sounds outside of my window. I can hear birdsong, punctuated by the squeak of the kids bouncing on the trampoline. I’m hoping to hear the kettle getting flicked on, and maybe my husband will fetch me tea… Then I’ll head down and maybe we can make some lego in the shape of eggs or carrots or something novel and Eastery.

Not the day we had planned. But perfect anyway.

We’re all in this together

Motherhood seems to me, for a large part, to be about questioning my own abilities and decisions. Focusing on my flaws, then kicking myself while I’m down by comparing myself to other seemingly flawless individuals who have it all right, more or less. But yeah, I know some amazing mamas. They have it all together.

They work longer hours than me. Some of them work nights. Two jobs. And their kids are well presented, well mannered and happy little things. Some of them are stay at home mamas, meaning they get to be there for their kids every time they need them. Whatever it is they’re doing, they’re doing it better than me.

And then, out of nowhere, one of my closest friends, ‘L’ (one of those amazing mamas- so much fun, full of fab ideas, completely cool and has raised totally balanced kids with unique and engaging personalities) told me she was talking to another gorgeous girl ‘R’ who rocks motherhood. About me. They nicknamed me mother earth. After I laughed heartily (hysterically) for several minutes, I asked why. Turns out, that they, like me, see those few minutes of the day at the school gates, where it all comes together. This, they decided, was evidence that I have motherhood down.

Of course,  L knows me well enough to realise that this is not the case at all! She knows I’m crap at reminding the kids to do their homework. She knows that some mornings, I melt down because somebody’s PE shorts are missing and I was too tired last night to even entertain looking for them. She knows that I sometimes give in to the demands for just one more chocolate, five more minutes screen time, just for an easy life. She’s counselled me through parenting disasters, having already been there herself.

Now, we read all the time the calls for us not to compare ourselves, especially given the perfect social media presences that everyone has. I think what we also need to do is to remember to be honest with each other. We just all feel better when we do. Lets cheer each other on, and tell each other how great a job we are doing. Lets admit that some mornings, we melt down. Some evenings we throw junk food at the kids and then retreat to a quiet spot for some much-needed solitude. Lets admit, you know, sometimes our kids are little horrors. Sometimes we are big horrors. But we are trying. We have each other’s backs. We’re in it together.

Baby be a giant, let the world be small.

You, my babies, are the most precious things I’ll ever hold in my arms. I can’t say the most precious things I own, because I don’t own you. You belong to yourself, but you’re mine all the same.
From the moment that I knew of your existence, even though you were just a bunch of cells, you were real and I felt fiercely protective. It was my job to give you a safe and comfortable ride for 9 months, until it was time to meet you, and help you navigate the world safely. The more I know you, every single day, the more I love you and the stronger that protection becomes.

So today, as I find one of my little cubs has been hurting, mama bear is here to tell you that I will fight for you with every breath and every beat of my heart. There will be no horrible little schoolyard bully that will get away with bringing you harm. I’ll stand with you, I’ll help you safely through this problem and teach you how we rise above people like that. And I won’t be preaching any of this shit about ‘making friends with the bullies, because they might be suffering too’ no way. Fuck that. It might make me a bad person. I don’t care. You, my babies are my priority, your feelings come first and if someone doesn’t recognise your beautiful light, they don’t deserve a second thought from you or me.

You both have so many people who love you. Your family, your friends. They all love you, for you. They love the person that you are, here and now. They don’t need you to be anyone else. Anyone who wants to change you, who doesn’t appreciate the wonderful things that make you you, they’re not worth your time or mine. 

Never let anyone dull your sparkle. Don’t try to make them love you. Be your brilliant and beautiful self and the world will always be full of your joy. Your happiness is always first.

I love you so much. 

Mama bear xx