Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Parallel lives

I was half way there when I first saw him.
The gut ache of regret and loss didn’t get me that first time.
That came much later in the day.
To remind me that in the most mundane of moments, grief can sucker punch you at any time.


In an attempt to shake off the effects of sleep deprivation and soothe the wails of an over tired small boy, I had decided to tackle the two-mile walk into our town centre. This same shouting boy was the one who spent most of the evening awake for no good reason except to instigate a mini party that no one else wanted to go to – it seems he was just not cool or popular enough to pull it off.

Gabe was asleep before we rounded the first corner and with iPod in and retro summer tunes blaring, I found myself drifting into the wonderful state of dreamy musing. You know the sort of perfect detachment that happens once in a blue moon when you have three children under the age of nine, a job and a messy household that is hard to tame.

I saw him when his car paused at the traffic lights and I might have missed him except he smiled and waved. I smiled back, of course. But my smile wasn’t quite as wide as it might have been.

With his floppy, unruly white blonde hair, blue eyes and heart warming grin, he had stopped me in my tracks. 
He was without doubt beautiful.
And for the briefest of moments and the heaviest of hearts I wished he was mine.

This child, aged about three, was the image of my own son.
Except his face didn’t contain any of the unbalanced subtle wonkiness, the tell-tale sign of my boy’s genetic mismapping.



His face was perfect in its normality.
The car sped off and I shook the rising misgiving off. The moment was temporarily forgotten.

Arriving in the town centre, I tackled the list of jobs while my boy slept on. 
Within 20 minutes I saw him again.

We were in the library returning some books that my older children had once again forgotten about. He was darting from book case to book case - taking book after book back to his mum sitting patiently on a bean bag on the floor. Pausing only briefly to sit on her lap for a few seconds at a time - constantly chatting and pointing out items excitedly.

I had no reason to linger but I did. 
Gabe was stirring so I lifted him gently from the pram and sat him on my knee picking up some books. Recovering from his nap, he was still and just wanted to snuggle. The books in front of him held no interest.

Catching the mum's eye, I smiled in solidarity. Two mums, two boys, the quiet library on a school day. It was the briefest of acknowledgements as her child was calling out for her attention on the other side of the room.

Never stop talking do they, she laughed swooping him up.

At four, my boy was yet to utter a meaningful sentence.

I left then. Unable to watch this strange could-have-been Gabe twin anymore.
But today it seemed the universe was mocking me. 

We'd headed towards the park, via Starbucks, as Gabe adores the ducks. My favourite sight was watching him get excited and chuckle at the misdemeanours on the water. 

And there was the boy again.

This time he was throwing bread into the pond - jumping up and down in anticipation each time. His face alight with glee at this simple task. Once the bread was all finished he took his mum's hand and demanded "Cafe time. Now." Before hurtling across the grass.

They run everywhere don't they, the mum called over in recognition as she alighted after him.

At four, my boy could only step if a metal frame held his torso in place and helped him bear some of the weight of his body.




Reluctantly, sensing (and smelling) the need for a nappy change, we followed them over to the park cafe. Feeling slightly stalkerish, I nodded at the lady as we made our way to the toilets. On the way back I decided, on the spur of the moment, to order a cup of tea and sit on the next table to watch this boy - the fascinating Gabe double - a bit more.

He was tucking into a sandwich and negotiating artfully about when he could eat his cake. 
His mum beamed kindly when she saw us.
Hello again, cheeky little thing. They would eat cakes all day wouldn't they.

At four, my boy could manage no more than the most basic of mushed up food.

Glancing from one boy to another, I wondered if she too could see the similarity? 
If she could also see the glaring differences? 
Was this the reason why she was accounting for and dismissing my strange behaviour?
Did she sense my inner tumoil? My afflicting emotions? 
Or perhaps I was just another mum in the park on a sunny day.

Breaking my reverie, my baby reached up and touched my face with both his hands and uttered his most used phrase "Mam mam mam mam." Needing and seeking my full attention, he blew me a kiss. An angelic grin spreading across his little face as he watched me.

Some days you could send them back to the shop couldn't you, the mum joked admitting defeat and handing over the cake to her jubilant son.

At four, my boy was doing things differently.
At four, my boy was showing the world that nothing would hold him back. 
At four, he had fought harder and battled more than most kids his age. 
At four, he was inspiring and influential. He had re-shaped our lives in a good way. 
At four, he was not like a lot of his peers. He was unique. 

But he loved and was loved such a lot. 
He was incomparable. No one could come close.

Nah, I quite like him. I think I'll keep him, I grinned back.













Thursday, 9 July 2015

Game, set and match: how to win the lie-in game

Picture the scene.
It is 5am and your young child is awake and not happy.
You are now awake and not happy.
Your husband, however, is asleep. And looks far too happy.
Despite what my tee-shirt
says I am not happy.
Not a bit.

Still half comatose you wander into your child's room, ignoring the toxic assault to your nose, and plonk him in the middle of your bed. Pretending for a minute that you live in a Brady Bunch World where a toddler awake at 5am goes serenely back to sleep when snuggled between two loving parents (and a stinky poo in his pants).

Unfortunately, this is real life.
You know that there is more chance of Jamie Dornan turning up on your door step needing someone to help him practise his lines for his next movie.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

How not to flick people in the face when your child has a feeding issue

Toddlers are fussy little monkeys when it comes to food - that is a well known fact. Apparently it's an evolution thing - an instinctive defence against eating potentially unsafe or dangerous foods or some other blah blah that means nothing when you are in the pits of dinner time doom.

I had it with my older two. The endless cajoling to get them to ingest something other than chips. The patience dredged up from the pit of the stomach as we sat down for an actual real-life home cooked meal that they refused to eat (but it's beef goulash. Really yum!) The pretend stomach ache as dinner is placed on the table that magically disappears with the mention of the word biscuit.

Monday, 15 June 2015

My Dad - growing up with a rebel

It was one of those lovely post-roast moments on a cold Sunday. The remnants of the previous evening's drunken shenanigans with friends had finally abated and the hangover hunger was sated by my mum's Yorkshire puddings.

Settling on the sofa as an old film buzzed in the background, the idea of getting packed up and heading to the train station for the three-hour journey back to London from Liverpool was galling.

"I better start making tracks", I announced to my audience of Mum, Dad and younger brother.
"Why don't you stay for another night?" Dad piped up from under his paper. It was very cosy with the fire blazing whereas outside the wind was roaring.
"I wish, but I have work in the morning."

Dad put the paper down and with stark sternness and authority stated simply:
F**k work.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Special needs mums are miserable moaners with greasy hair

Are you a mum of someone special?
Are you outraged by the title of this post?

Did you click through thinking: "Hey lady watch it.  I don't have greasy hair. Au contraire. My hair is gorgeous. Thank you very much."

Or are you someone that clicked through thinking: "Hell yes. The moaning. For the love of all that is holy. The moaning out of these people." 

Or are you just eating your toast and thought I'll have a wee read because Netflix hasn't loaded yet?

Whatever.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Down time: doing it now and doing it well

In the past few weeks I've started to get a bit anxious. Those small but alarming moments when your heart beats that bit faster than it should. Where you are wound up so tight that the most innocent of misdemeanours can make you snap and snarl at your loved ones.

It doesn't happen often. But I hate it when life seems to pelting at a gale force pace and I feel like I am running after it shouting "hey wait I haven't even zipped up my boots".

Nothing serious, thankfully, had happened but sometimes I think I am built for a much simpler lifestyle.

All three children and the husband had back to back bugs and viruses, we started our kitchen extension, work was manic and more time-consuming than normal and Gabe was waking for hours in the night. We had the usual after-school clubs, homework, episodes of House of Cards to watch and kids that needed to be fed and watered in some way (the cheek!).

It is even more frustrating when life is busy and stressy because there is no time to exercise and food grabbed on the go is never of the premium nutritional sort (try beef Hula Hoops and a KitKat for a power lunch)

I couldn't keep up and my glass was becoming half empty.

You have some days off soon, my good cop said.
But then they will be over, my miserable arse bad cop said.

You are going away with your mates with no kids woohoo, good cop squealed.
Yeah well I can't stop eating so I'll look like a whale, bad cop moaned.

But Gabe is waking to play of a night, like a normal toddler, that is mega great, good cop tried.
Who gives a sh*t, bad cop snapped.

Not good.

But then yesterday I met my horrid deadline for work and with the hubby out, I tricked the children into a much earlier bedtime. Then I did four things that made me feel like a new woman:
  • I had a hot bath and stared at the ceiling for ten minutes
  • I lay on the bed for half an hour in my dressing gown and flicked through Instagram for 20 minutes
  • I put on cosy PJs and bed socks (the bliss) and sat on the sofa and watched mindless TV for two hours with a brew and some chocolate (Grey's Anatomy and Made in Chelsea I salute you!)
  • I went to bed early and read a chapter of my dusty book.
Sometimes, we forget the joy of doing absolutely nothing.
Mostly, we forget how essential this is to our emotional well being.

It is like we feel we are letting the team down if we don't spend the precious few hours we have of an evening doing more stuff whether it be ironing, making packed lunch or even sorting out more washing.

Stop. Now. 

Leave the cleaning, shut down the computer go and lie still somewhere and clear your head.
You'll feel better for it. I promise.






Tuesday, 12 May 2015

How many ways to say I love you?

Dear Mummy,

You know I love you to the moon and back. Let me prove how much:
  • I promise to wake up early everyday (even before the birds) so we can have longer days together.
  • Rather then shout at you and risk waking up the man existing next to you (aka daddy) I will wriggle around and put my bum in your face instead (soz if it's a bit smelly).
  • Or if you prefer I can wake you gently by sticking my fingers in your mouth. They will be nice and warm from being inside my nappy.
  • I have decided that I do not need to go to nursery anymore and you can give up your job. We can then spend hours at the park and you can push me on the swing until your arms fall off.