Tag Archives: Love

Star light, star bright, don’t be sick and sleep at night!


Birthday season is upon us again. My husband said to me this morning, at 00:01, as we were just dialling our daughter’s telephone number: “I can’t believe we are old enough to have a 22 year old daughter.”

I wish I could have answered that I don’t look old enough. Those were the days! But now, my middle age spread is, well, spreading. Fast! For a while, I’ve tried to convince myself that I would, one day, be a slip of a girl again. To be honest, for the last 21 years I’ve kept the dress I wore to my eldest daughter’s very first birthday party. I’m not just a hoarder. I did actually wear the dress. But the last couple of years, I had trouble waving about my arms and well just breathing. So I gave it to her last week. It was slightly too big. I may have stretched it… But I assured the slip of a girl that she would grow into it… One day.

So this is her 22nd Happy Birthday. I can tell you, some of them have been eventful. On one of them, we were singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and I was carrying the cake across the room to her, as I approached her to blow out her candles, she didn’t blow, she threw… Up. I’m not sure if it was the sight of all that carefully placed sugar or if it was just excitement. But the cake got tossed to the side and a bucket was grabbed. We videoed it and sent it to You’ve Been Framed. But they sent it right back again without giving us our £250. I was gutted to be honest. I laughed hysterically every time I played it back. But I guess it was far too graphic for public consumption on a family show.

On another birthday, we had the camcorder out again, my ex and I. He was standing there filming, as I ushered her into the room. We’d built up her present, a bike, and carefully covered it with sheets, so she could still unwrap it. Then presents and cards that had arrived in the post, were strategically placed around the big, exciting, surprise. We entered the room and my ex impulsively shouted, “Come and open your bike!!!!” And I almost killed him, right there, on the spot. Seriously. If you go and visit him, there is recorded evidence of it somewhere in his house…

From Birthday One, Joni loved a party. She loved the food, the dressing up, the food, the guests, the food, the games, the cake, being centre of attention and the presents. So the night before her Sweet Sixteenth she got really excited. She’d planned a massive party. Not only had she invited all of her friends, she’d also invited all of mine. We planned to barbeque on two barbeques simultaneously. The fridge was full of meat. I always make too much food because I am petrified of someone feeling hungry, so in actual fact, there was far too much meat for the masses of people she’d invited. Then, in the early hours of her 16th, she started to vomit. And vomit and vomit. In all fairness, she really did puke rings around herself. We did not film it. We cleaned rings and walls and carpets and changed bedsheets and disinfected buckets. And we mopped up tears. Then, from the exact moment politeness allowed, we starting telephoning each and every party guest to cancel. We did not know if she was infectious. We did not know if we were infectious. We did not know how long she would continue to be sick. These questions were answered promptly. As soon as all the calls were finished, she made a miraculous recovery. She was, what’s described in your medical encyclopedia as ‘right as rain’. Physically, that is. Mentally, she crumpled. Luckily, she had invited my friends. And some of them are fearless of bacteria. They are utterly convinced they will never get sick. Besides they know Joni. And they knew that she had recently been to Budapest, where she’d been so excited to be there, she’d thrown up all over her host’s carpet in the middle of her first night. We’d been chatting at the time on the phone. She’d wanted me to know that she’d arrived safely. That the exchange family were lovely. That everything was tickety-boo. Then suddenly she felt nauseous. The phone was chucked to one side, she leapt up and hurled. For several minutes, I listened helplessly to retching noises. She in Hungary, I in Germany. Together, yet so far apart. I couldn’t hold back her hair. I listened as someone else scrubbed up the mess and she cried and apologised. After many minutes, I found myself stuck with the conundrum: should I hang up the phone? Should I keep listening? Is this really supportive? Or is it just plain creepy? Would anyone ever remember I was still on the phone? Should I shout? Would kind words, after the fact, help anyone at all, anyway? Would I ever get any sleep? How long is long enough? Would my own British politeness mean, that I was never actually able to hang up the phone? Then I heard someone shuffling towards me. It was the hostess. Of course, being British, I apologised profoundly. Then they handed me to Joni. Who was tired and embarrassed, but apart from that, right back on track again.

Joni’s ability to empty her stomach at important life events has become a trademark. A party piece if you will.  Exams – check. Birthdays – check. Presentations – check. Travelling – check. First dates – check. I have forwarned her that on her wedding day, there will be no make-up and no dress until all of the sickness is out of the way. Beauticians and lady’s maids will be poised for the last minute dash to slop slap on her face and tug her wedding dress over her head, in an attempt to get her to the town hall on time.

Today, I hope, will be an exception. She celebrated into her birthday with a few college friends, and after a little sleep and a lot of classes we’ll descend upon her and take her out to dinner. I, for one, am really looking forward to it.

To my first born: Happy Birthday! Continue to be the bright and shining star that you are. Live, love and be happy. ❤

Being stubborn may well save your life – and that of your beloved sister!


Phew. Back again.

I love this picture. For me it speaks a thousand words. Two of my girls and me. Caught in a moment of focus and affection.

Girls

These two sisters are amazing. I have never known two sisters who were so incredibly close. I remember once, going into the bathroom and finding them in the shower together. Both were yapping ten to the dozen. They had so much to tell one another that the noise of the flowing water was not permitted to intrude. I found that fascinating. They had shared a room for many years, they had attended the same schools, they had hung out with a lot of the same people, mostly they had shared the same hobbies. But still, they had so much to say to each other and felt so much urgency to say it, that they couldn’t bear to be separated.

Now, you might think that as they’re so incredibly close that their relationship is a pretty harmonious one. But there you would be wrong. They can argue just as passionately as they get along.

Think fireworks.

Take, for example, the time that Lori got so annoyed with her elder sibling that she gave her a  shove, while she was standing  on the steps of a bus. Joni lost her footing and fell out of the bus. I know. I was there. I saw it all. No matter what I said, Lori refused point blank to apologise.

I remember once, the girls’ choir teacher taking them off for a couple of days on a workshop. She was quite excited about taking those two sisters, who have such an amazing rapport with each other, off to sing in the countryside. She anticipated what effect their close relationship would have on the dynamics of the group. What she failed to anticipate was: what would happen if they fell out. I met her weeks later and she was still slightly dazed.

The truth of the matter is: that although the girls tend to be passionate about pretty much the same things, their characters couldn’t be more polar opposite.

When Lori was born I thought that I’d be able to bath both of the girls together. I couldn’t though. Lori hated the cold and Joni hated the heat. I had to throw my boat-shaped baby bath thermometer in the bin. Both girls were completely off the scale. Joni cried at ‘the correct temperature’ because it was far too hot and Lori cried at ‘the correct temperature’ because it was far too cold. It was like my own two bears story. Lori even balled her eyes out in the supermarket every time we veered near to the fridges.

Joni grew up dressed in pink. Wearing nail polish. And with a serious conviction that she was actually Snow White.

While Lori started the trend of wearing a t-shirt over a long-sleeved top and destroyed one action figure after another.

Bringing the two of them up has taught me a lot.

One of the things it has taught me is that compromise is not always such a good thing.

Laid back Joni has a leisurely pace. She meanders through life in her own good time. In fact, we actually call her our very own chill pill.

Intense Lori rushes on ahead. There is always something else to do. There is always something else to say. There is always something more to make of her day.

One such day both girls were on the bus together heading home from school. The bus pulled up at our stop and they both got off. Together. An argument erupted. Lori felt cold and wanted to rush home from school, at full speed and get on with things.
Joni, on the other hand, wanted to take her time, bask in the winter sun’s rays and float along the street towards home.

A compromise could not be found. Joni’s attempt at her fastest pace could not placate Lori’s need for speed and so after a few cross words, Lori stormed off ahead.

Joni was angry. Why couldn’t they just compromise? Meet in the middle? Lori could slow down her pace and Joni could hasten hers and they could walk home, as sisters, together!

Lori skedaddled and was about 100m ahead of her elder sister when behind her she heard the shrill screeching and then crumpling of metal, and the shattering of glass. She stopped and whirled around. A van had hit a car and now the van was on the path. Approximately 50m in front of her sister. Approximately 50m meters behind her…

She ran back, checked everyone was ok and then rushed on home.

It was at that very moment that I came around the corner in our car. I had picked up my two younger children and, we too, were almost home. I pulled over as I couldn’t easily get past the blockage in the road. My son, who’s always keen to see what’s going on, leapt out of the passenger seat before I could shout, “Hold your horses!!” and ran along the street to find out what had happened. I looked out of my side window and then it dawned on me: one of the people standing next to those contorted vehicles was my daughter Joni.

And then it hit me! Joni and Lori should be taking the same school bus home and Lori was nowhere to be seen…

I tried to leave my car, but it proved difficult. The road was in chaos. It had been sprayed with broken glass and vehicles were slowly attempting to make their way around the debris and the gathering crowd of bystanders. I swore at a lorry driver who attempted to reprimand me for getting in his way. Somehow, finally, I managed to park up on the side of the street, then I ran, screaming, towards a shocked Joni, “Where’s Lori? Where’s Lori?

I dared not look under the vehicles…

Joni took a while to answer. She was in shock. She’d witnessed the whole accident. Lori had just been ahead of her… They’d had an argument… Lori wanted her to walk faster… If they had compromised they would have both been hit by the van which now sat on the pavement.

“But where’s Lori now?” I queried. I needed to see her for myself. To make quite sure. Quite sure she was intact and unharmed.

I quickly checked the distressed car driver then took my paler than usual eldest daughter back to the car and drove her home.

At home I discovered an unblemished but rather disappointed Lori.

Disappointed because she’d not been able to put her recently gained first aid certificate to good use. There had not even been a cut to bandage. She’d been forced to march home and start her homework instead!

 

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So… Love


As some of you already know I have four whole children. I’ve counted and double counted and it’s true – there really are four of them! It’s bizarre. I can’t always quite believe it myself. But there you are.

They entered the world like this:

  • girl
  • girl
  • boy
  • another girl

When my then six year old son heard that his third sibling would be yet another girl he was so pissed off disappointed that he said, “Bloody hell!”, crawled under the dining table and refused to come back out.

Bringing up four whole children is wild. Seriously.

Firstly, you spend a lot of time counting heads to make sure that you haven’t left one somewhere. Or added one accidentally. You learn, quite quickly, the importance of making sure that you haven’t double-counted the same head, because that leaves you with the false sense of security of having all of your children present and correct.

You swiftly learn, to think on your feet when your children well and truly drop you in it. You also develop the art of the quick getaway.

Saying sorry becomes second nature, so much so that you often say it as a precursor to an event, the moment you enter the room/shop/tourist attraction/bank/doctor’s office (delete as appropriate).

You find going out with adult friends difficult because you find yourself continually compelled to ask them: “Do you have your key?” And, “Are you sure you don’t need to go to the toilet?”

Finally having child free time with your partner, you ban talking about the kids and then stare into space until you both give in and start talking about the kids again.

You never, ever have any money in your purse. It’s like money has some kind of aversion to your purse. You regularly find yourself going into the butchers and the bakers only to find yourself penniless. Thus having to explain to the not-always-so-patient shop assistant that you, yet again, need to nip over to the hole in the wall to grab some cash.

You can never remember the name of the child standing in front of you. Especially when you are annoyed. So in the middle of a telling off you have to shout, “What’s your name again?” before dishing out the punishment.

Food vanishes. You shop and shop and shop. You cook and cook and cook. But every time you attempt to make yourself a quick snack or snatch a biscuit: there’s nothing left.

Your house is filled with germs. For two reasons. One is: you have lost the will to clean. And the other is: they bring home every conceivable type of germ from even the remotest part of the region and then they share it all around.

At some point you get the Norovirus. In your house. For three weeks solid. You lose your mind. Especially when your children admit they might just have spread it around again because they shared a sandwich.

You become an expert nit picker.

You also become a taxi driver, counsellor, mediator and pharmacist.

Seriously, visitors come to your house just to admire the array of medicines in your cupboard and to compliment you on your ‘tried and tested’ pharmaceutical knowledge (all the while kindly ignoring the clutter that surrounds you).

You laugh a lot. It would be true to say, not always at appropriate moments. But you develop a deep, belly laugh that suddenly booms out of you uncontrollably. Finally your children feel embarrassed. At your loudness. At your lack of restraint. They whisper, “Mum!!” with agitated voices.

But you know, from experience, that one day they will say, “One of the things I love most about you, Mum, is your huge laugh!”

And you’ll say, “I learned to laugh so much because of you.”

 

 

Eye-smiler!


Love is a funny thing really. You don’t choose it. You don’t scan a vast array of heads and shout, “I’ll take that one.”

I just saw you in the street. You smiled and you had me.

I was putty in your hands. Just like that.

I had no idea if you were a good or a bad man. I didn’t know what your name was. I hadn’t even sniffed you. You were across the street, far too far away for me to get a whiff of your pheromones.

But somehow, you magnetically pulled me into staggering towards your smiling eyes and your big strong arms. It didn’t seem to bother you at all that I couldn’t hold my vodka.

It’s been almost 15 years and you have never given me reason to doubt you. Quite the opposite. You have only, over the years, given me reasons to love you more and more.

To be honest, I remained convinced that I am either extremely lucky or that one day, you’d wake up and think to yourself: what on earth am I doing with this crazy woman and her chaotic life? But each day you just kept on smiling at me with those beautiful eyes. In fact, you seemed to smile a little more the more chaotic I was. Even though, you yourself are really quite orderly.

I mean, I did spot that you’re a little odd too. After all you said things like: “You’re the spice of my life!” Or, “Maths is beautiful!”

Sometimes I really couldn’t take you quite so seriously…

But the other day, something happened that made me finally realise that you’re probably planning to stick around for good.

We’d gone to bed. Me quite late again because I couldn’t stop coughing and I didn’t want to keep you awake half the night coughing when you had to go to work the next day.
I finally joined you and after a few tosses and turns and a few more coughs, I nodded off.
Then I woke up feeling nauseous. You ran to the kitchen and got me a bucket then you ran again for a glass of water. You rubbed my back as I coughed and spluttered over the bucket – without complaining that no sick actually came up at all. Then you ran to our daughter who also needed a bucket and also retained all of her stomach contents. You returned to our bed where I lay complaining, rather loudly, about the heat in the room so you measured my temperature and stated that, it was, in fact, completely normal. You encouraged me to “just try and sleep” as I tossed and I turned but I thought I might be better off upside down in the bed, with my face right next to your feet. Then I sat up again and wailed for the bucket. I heaved and I coughed and I snotted. Then I cuddled back down and hugged you tight, breathing hot germ-filled breath into your face. I talked and I talked but I didn’t make the slightest bit of sense. At some point, I started to cry, quite hysterically, which, after a while turned into uncontrollable laughter with an added cough instead. Finally, after even more giggles and strops I drifted back to sleep.

I woke up the next day feeling at first refreshed, you’d got up with the children and had let me sleep. At first, I thought about how tired you must be, then I started to remember bits – wailing, incessant talking, hysterical laughter. You may be my husband and my best friend, but in all honesty: I was mortified.

On your return home I apologised.

And here’s the thing: you just shrugged and said you were used to it and that it happens quite often of late. 😮

That’s when I realised that you really are here to stay. That you love me, warts and all.

I hope, that for the rest of our lives, I continue to make those eyes smile.

 

 

February


So it’s February. Already. I always think of February as the month of love. Probably because that’s when Valentine’s Day is. And I always spend the first half of this short month wondering how to best impress show my adoration for my husband.

I’ve decided that, as there are many new readers to this blog I will introduce them properly to my family. They are, after all, the people that I love and cherish the most. And, for those that have been following me for longer – it’s a reintroduction. Children, after all change and grow. They become teenagers.

Besides I need to get back into writing. I have been working on my book, sporadically, for ever. But the problem with book writing is: there is no instant gratification. I keep re-reading re-edited chapters to the children and they keep telling me, “Mum, I know that story already!!” Then they look at me ungratefully when I try to show them that I changed a word here and moved a comma there and then march off to go about their own business.

Happy February.

Happy reading.

The first one is actually not going to be about love.

It’s about my very strange sense of humour…

It’s almost finished. I’m just re-re-re-editing.

It’s the way you make me feel


Sometimes I bound through life making silly, downright idiotic and even atrocious decisions.

I am a very decisive person, but even though I apparently know what I want, it seems, I don’t always know what is best for me!!

However, 12 years ago today I made the very best decision of my entire life: I married you!

Now sometimes you annoy me, just a little bit. The other day you put your smelly feet on the dining table and I thought, “What the fuck?!?” And, in my ever-decisive manner, I had to tell you to put them right back down on the floor again!!!!

Which you then did immediately.

Of course.

While we’re at it: I don’t cope very well with you not putting your seatbelt on until we get to the top of the street.

And if you really want me to give it to you straight:

You really could wash your hands more often and not wiggle your fingers at me right after you touched the bin lid, in that ‘I’m going to tickle you with my dirty digits’ way that you do. Which makes me, in turn, race to the sink to wash my own hands, even though I haven’t touched a single thing!

But really what I want to do now is get right down to the nitty gritty.

We have been through, in twelve years of marriage, a few things, that nobody ever wants to go through.

Every single moment, you were there. Holding my hand. Wiping away my tears. Picking my outbursts up off the floor, shuggling them around a bit, then carefully putting them back together in a nice, orderly fashion.

You listened, even if I had to prod you awake at times. You knew when to give the hug and when not to give the hug. You cooked and cleaned whenever I needed you to, no matter how tired you were, or how bad your own day had been. You poured wine at all the right moments.

And the other day I overheard you telling Akasha, “As perfect as  Mummy is, she has a tendency to exaggerate sometimes.”

Despite everything that I am and have been, everything I’ve done and haven’t done; you still see me as perfect!!! (We’ll ignore the second part of the sentence.) (This isn’t the main reason that I love you.)

Without you I couldn’t be the person that I am today.

Thank you.

 

 

Saying goodbye to 2015 with openness and honesty


Sometimes I think, I don’t know what happened. Sometimes I think, how did I get to be right here, right now, right where I am?

It’s like, I am in some kind of blurry confusion. Or like I landed on my bum with a thump. I wasn’t expecting it and I am sitting there all kind of dazed and amazed.

The hours tick by and roll into days. The days tick by and roll into weeks. And I tumble and roll with them. I keep attempting to pick myself up and stumble on but I seem to lurch from one impossible situation to the next.

Some days, standing in front of several huge piles of washing feels like enough to be classified as an impossible situation.  I look at the mixtures of red and white and black and blue, which should, technically, have all been sorted out into their appropriate baskets, according to my own rules of the house. I stare at those never-ending mixed piles and I despair.

Some days, I focus on the enormous list of things I expect myself to do that day, and I realise I am in an impossible situation. I can only disappoint myself because no earthly being can possibly tick off each of those designated tasks in just one day.

Some days, I find myself pondering over a blank piece of paper. It seems like my impossible situation is to actually find enough energy to draw up the day’s list in the first place.

Instead, I drag my lazy butt over to the sofa and distract myself with the TV, or a game or someone else’s news.

Then I leave the house at the very last minute to pick up my daughter, because even though, I feel incredibly lonely, I can’t bear to face the other mums. With their happy smiles or their problems or their invitations or their requests.

I attempt to hide in the driver’s seat of my car. And if they approach me, I feel the panic rising from the pit of my stomach.

Occasionally, there are days when the impossible situation is just to make it through the day.

On those days, I bite my lip, swing my foot, pace the floor, hug the dog, think of the kids, go back to bed in an attempt to wake up in a better mood, call my husband and just try to breathe in and out and tell myself that tomorrow is a brand new day full of brand new possibilities.

I’m still an optimist. Deep down inside.

2015 has not been my finest hour.

In all honesty, it’s been really bloody tough.

It’s been the accumulation and aftermath of: three burnouts, Crohn’s, a million doctor’s appointments, sick kids, diagnoses, arguments, a suicide, PTSD, continuous headaches, sleepless nights, stress, guilt, loss, panic and pain.

So I decided that the only way to turn things around was to go into a specialised clinic at the local hospital for a while.

It was the right decision. I talked and cried and laughed and painted and danced and beat the hell out of drums. I made friends and cried and talked some more. I listened. I hugged. I walked through the forest. I remembered things I’d ‘locked’ away. I talked about them and cried and then ‘locked’ them away again. Because it’s just not healthy to let those things consume your life.

Above all, I realised that my own driving force is low self-esteem, guilt and fear.

So all these years, I’ve needed to do my absolute utmost, to prove to myself that I am worthy, and to reduce the feelings of guilt that I carried around for things which I had always believed were my fault but actually weren’t. I needed to protect my family from all eventualities, because in my own experience bad things actually happened again and again.

I feel like I’ve been knocked down and built back up again. Albeit, loosely.

I can’t tell you that I feel ‘well’. I would more describe myself as feeling ‘fragile’. Sometimes, some days, still bring their impossible situations.

But I can tell you that I have more energy and that I am looking forward to Christmas more than I have in years.

And that I am hoping, ever the optimist, that when I look back in years to come, that I will see 2015 as a turning point in my life.

And that 2016 was a new beginning.

Wishing you all, from the bottom of my heart, a wonderful Christmas. And a 2016 full of hope, enlightenment, love and strength.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another day, another heartbreak


I could not sleep this morning before 4am. I lay, disheartened and sickened on the sofa, flicking from the internet to the TV, as I watched events in Paris unfold.

Terrorists: you have my fucking attention.

You disgust me.

You make me feel both mad and sad.

Your only desire is to fill our world with fear and hate.

Shame on you!

I will continue to teach my children love and tolerance. Peace and acceptance. Kindness and understanding.

I will maintain my stance on freedom, equality, education and justice. Despite your bullying tactics. I have never been one to lay down to bullies.

And I am even more determined to support asylum seekers than I was before.

Paris, we love you. We love your youngsters singing and dancing on the Champs de Mars. We love your friendly artists, helpful pharmacists, busy waiters and enthusiastic, philosophising passersby.

Stay strong. Mourn. Feel loved. Be safe.

 

“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” –Jean-Paul Sartre

 

 

You and me


There’s you
and then there’s me
we stand on opposite sides
and see what we see.

There’s you
and then there’s me
we stand on opposite sides
and see what we see.

I see flowers
where you see weeds

You fear wasps
when I cherish bees

I listen to music
and you hear noise

You see rubbish
I see potential elaborate and interesting toys.

You feel anger
but I, I feel pain

I see helplessness
but you? You see shame!

You feel hatred
when I, I just feel sad

I am disappointed, lost and lonely
and you? Are you glad?

There’s you
and then there’s me
we stand on opposite sides
and see what we see.

There’s you
and then there’s me
we stand on opposite sides
and see whatever it is we see.

 

Dreaming up true heroes


I’m one of those people who remembers dreams. In explicit detail. I awoke this morning and realised I’d had several back to back dreams and they all appeared to have a running theme:

I’d found myself having some difficulties, generally of the missing passport/lost ticket/non-functioning bank card persuasion and I felt rather panicky and weepy. There always seemed to be a ‘going off on holiday’ scenario but we’re not going anywhere – so that part must have just been wishful thinking.

Anyway, every dream ended with my husband saving the day at the last minute.

I got up and went downstairs to inform him that he’s my hero.

Can you imagine my surprise?

He was standing at the kitchen sink. Washing pans. With nowt on ‘cept his superman pants.

#healreadyknows