Monday, 30 April 2012

On My Last Day of Being 32

During the course of writing this blog I have published many a post, reviewing what has gone on in our lives.  I enjoy doing this as it helps file it all away in my mind, in a organised and structured manner.  It is also building up a portfolio of memories for the children, which, was the whole point of starting Lynsey The Mother Duck in the first place.

As it is my last day of being the grand old age of 32, it would be a good opportunity to review my 32nd year within this big old world.  But I do not want to do that today.  I want, instead, to look forward.  I think it is a big step for me.  In the past I could be blamed for burying my head in the sand about the future.  It was too scary a thing to have to think about.  I did not want to think about what I needed to achieve, especially as I did not know if I would be able to do it.

What has brought about this change?  Well I do not have to face the future on my own anymore, I have a strong and rather optimistic husband to hold my hand through the maze of life.  I have also brought two children into the world who I can see are both achieving huge things everyday, without the bat of an eyelid.  Also I think in your 30's you are more inclined to accept that you are not invincible and that if you have a family relying on you, contingency plans must be in place, as much as you do not want to spend too much time maudling over the 'What If's'.

Along with the given things that I would like the next year to hold; health and happiness for all of my family and friends; not needing to move again; rekindling some old friendships that I miss dearly and maintaining the ones I am lucky enough to have; continuing to write this blog and work on my book... there is one big thing I would like to achieve next year.  I would like to run the Virgin London Marathon.

I have participated in and completed the London Marathon before, in 2006.  It requires a lot of time and effort to train; undertake practise races; stay injury free; raise the sponsorship money.  I managed to achieve all of these things, but always maintained that if I did ever get the opportunity to do it again I would know all the things I needed to do better.

For example, my training could have been more varied (fear of going out of comfort zone).  I should have participated in more races, particularly Half Marathons.  I should have researched energy foods and drinks more thoroughly for a race of such duration.  I should have worked out the most awesome playlist to also help me through the tougher stages of the race.  The thing I believe that really would have helped me massively however, that I did nothing with, was 'Mental Stamina' training.

Whilst I was training in 2005 / 2006 a programme was being televised, presented by Sally Gunnell and Steve Cram, called Run For Glory.  This program followed the two Olympic athletes mentoring a group of more 'unlikely' candidates to run the Marathon.  It followed the trials and tribulations of preparing for the Marathon and tracked their progress (or in some cases lack of it).  As well as helping with training schedules and motivation, the programme investigated other areas that I had not contemplated before.

One of these was the fact that, throughout a Marathon (and I would say here, this also applies to labour!) there are going to be some points at which your mind says 'That's it, I can not do this anymore I am also tired and bored'.  Therefore your mind needs to be 'trained' as well as your body.  I liked this idea, but it meant more work so, ignored it.  How foolish I felt when I hit the wall and found out exactly what they meant.  I needed my mind to be strong enough to get my body through it. 

Obviously I did manage to finish - just - and it was not without tears and the fact that my phone had no signal, and I had no idea where I was so couldn't do anything but follow the route to the end!  Therefore I swore if I ever did the 26.2 Challenge again, in order to enjoy it more I would live, learn and train smarter.

The way the programme approached building up mental stamina was to prove you could achieve things you would never think possible.  They took the participates and encouraged them to undertake activities that normally they would have baulked at, or never thought of trying, or just generally would have said they would never have been able to do.  They wanted to prove, that despite your mind / fear telling you that you can not do something, you can achieve it.  The more practise you can get, the easier it will be at that tired and low point in the Marathon, to think, actually I can overcome things I think I can not.

So, on the eve of my 33rd birthday, I add this to my aims for the year - 'I will aim to face the fear'.  I will try and undertake activities that I would normally hold back from doing in order to improve my (potential) Marathon experience.  One thing I can think of, as a starting point for this is 'The High Ropes Experience' when we go on holiday.  When we saw this last year I think the words 'You will never get me on THAT.' left my mouth.  So what better place to begin.  I know my Husband really wants to do it.  For me being absolutely terrified of static heights (I am fine with flying) this really will be a test.

Wish me luck readers!









Sunday, 29 April 2012

Saturday, 28 April 2012

What Has Made Me Cheerful This Week?

I always find it strange, how some weeks when you think you are not going to have any time to do anything, you find yourself fitting in copious amounts.  I guess when you have a lot on, you are more on the ball and punchy.  I find my old 'work self' coming back into it's own and life takes on much more structure. 

So despite thinking that I would be lost in a world of bubble wrap, boxes and brown tape this week, things have actually been rather exciting.  So here are my 'Reasons to be Cheerful' for this week :

* I started running again and it felt amazing.  I also worked out a schedule whereby I can actually fit training in.

* In addition to this, on days where running has been 'rained off' I have undertaken an exercise DVD both Fitness and Yoga.


* I signed up for several 5 - 10K races as incentives on days I might not feel like running.

* I have found a friend that is inclined to sign up for the 2013 Virgin London Marathon with me when Charity places become available.

* I have managed to write almost everyday on my blog, and for that I am really seeing an improvement on traffic.  I am so amazed, viewing figures this month are double anything I have ever had in the past and this makes it all worth while.

* I had such a great response to the very personal blog post 'Dark Days' I have decided to make it into a short series of posts. 

* I found some time (while J2 was taking an unusual daytime nap) to start some character building work for my book idea.


* Packing has continued and to date I have only broken one cup!

Other inspiring and 'Cheery' souls can be found over at www.mdplife.blogspot.com


Friday, 27 April 2012

Monthly Feature : Marvellous Mum

In the third feature of the series 'Marvellous Mums', we meet working mum, running mum and general all round fabulous mum; Sara Willcocks.  It is extra good luck for me that she is also one of my oldest and most wonderful friends, having known each other since Primary School.  Sara has a job that many of us would dream of Campaigns Manager / PR Consultant for the wonderful charity Young Epilepsy, which often sees her mingling with the Stars. 

Not only has Sara a high profile job but she is also an amazing wife and mother and here she tells us why she loves her fast paced life as a working mum.


Tell us a little bit about your family?

My family is small but perfectly formed! Not quite the 2.4, we are one mummy (that’s me clearly!); one daddy (aka hubby number one!) and our beautiful, five year old daughter, Jessie May.

Tell us a little bit about your career?

I am by trade a PR consultant, having been fortunate enough to get onto this particular ladder after leaving college before finishing my A-levels. I’d go as far to say that I stumbled upon after realising I wasn’t very good at the previous two roles within a PR company: accounts and administration! I can’t think of a career that I could be any more suited to as it allows me to partake in the two things I love doing most: talking and writing!!

I’m currently working in the charity sector – a dual role for two charities. I am the Campaigns Manager for a national charity dedicated to children and young people living with epilepsy. My job is diverse and incredibly busy, but can often be lots of fun. PR is still a big feature in my role, but I also have a fundraising target, and I manage our celebrity and ambassador relationships. 

I also work with a smaller charity called GRACE, which supports women in Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire who are diagnosed with gynaecological cancers. I got involved with the charity after my mum died from cervical cancer, so it has a very special place in my heart.

What are the high points of being a working mum?

For me being a working mum was a choice I made. I was lucky to have the option, although my desire to work was part driven by my need to maintain my independence. I needed to know that I could – if needed –support both my daughter and myself.  This was very important to me and it still is.  That aside, I really do enjoy working – although I do sometimes have off days - and I don’t think my personality is suited to being at home full time.  I crave adult conversation and activity too much.

I would argue that it has also greatly benefitted Jessie, who attended nursery while I worked and, as a result, is a sociable, confident and bright little girl. She loves other children and has great friends, hobbies and a brilliant social life.   This will have long lasting benefits on her as she goes through life.

I know for certain that Jessie is a happy and secure little girl. She has no doubts that she is the most important person in mummy and daddy’s lives and I’m pretty sure she sees our work as just a means to an end.


What are the downsides of being a working mum?

There’s a well known saying often quoted in reference to working parents (mainly us mums!): “you can’t have it all”. I’ve never 100% agreed with this because I believe it largely depends on your own personal definition of what ‘having it all’ really means. For me, being a working mum is about compromise and something always needs to give. There is always a sacrifice and I’d be lying to myself if I said otherwise. Something always has to give.

Jessie is my absolute number one priority and I try to balance my work life by making sure I’m there to drop her off at her classroom every day, rather than sending her to breakfast club, and I try to make sure I pick her up early as often as I can too. I refuse to miss special assemblies or school events/concerts; fully participate on the PTA; and we have play dates with other kids and their mums all the time.


Do you think being a working mum benefits your family lifestyle, or would you trade it to be a SAHM?

It definitely benefits our lifestyle. Having a dual income allows us to do nice things and takes away some of the financial stresses that many families are faced with today. If I didn’t work there would be a lot of pressure on my husband’s income.  In truth, no I wouldn’t trade it in. I would make the decision to work over again, although probably just part time.

Is your household laid back, or manic?

A bit of both: we have chilled days and manic days. Work days are crazy and getting out the front door on time is like a job in itself. I’m constantly up against the clock, needing to get to school on time, needing to not be too late for work (and often failing!), and then getting back for pick up. Our weekends, however, are mostly laid-back and very family focused.

What are your favourite type of family days? (eg - duvet days, days out etc)

We love going out to do things as a family, but my favourite time is definitely our duvet days! And Jessie agrees with me. We love nothing more than snuggling up together –literally under our ‘snuggle blanket’ and watching movies; listening to the rain or – our latest initiative – playing Top Trumps! Because the weeks are so busy, weekends are really important to all three of us. We make sure we eat together and, from the moment we get in on a Friday evening, we are on wind down. Homework is banned! Quite often we’ll have camping expeditions in our living room: not the most comfortable night’s sleep, but it’s good fun and Jessie loves it – especially if we put the fire on and have a ‘midnight feast’.

Finally, why is it Marvellous being a Mum?

Being a mum is quite simply the best and most rewarding thing in the world.  I was literally taken aback when I discovered firsthand the full strength of the love that a parent feels.  Of course we all have days of despair, but nothing beats getting to know the wonderful little person you and your plus one brought into the world: helping them make their own journey and discoveries along the way.  I couldn’t be prouder of our little girl – she is the marvellous one!

If you want to find out more about the Charity Young Epilepsy, check out the website here.  You can raise money for Young Epilepsy by Taking The Purple Pledge, for details clikc here.http://www.youngepilepsy.org.uk/mypurplepledge/

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Groovy Mum's - The Challenges

As most of you will be aware I like to participate in the initiative, over at Kate on Thin Ice called Groovy Mums.  It encourages everyone to make positive steps, however big or small, towards making the changes in their lives that they feel would be beneficial.  It can be anything, working towards a career change, losing weight, renovating or improving where you live, regaining control of a situation.  Blog posts can be linked up, where for moral support, you can read how other people are getting on with their own quests. 

I usually link up my 'The Plan' posts, however, Kate also provides prompts or 'Challenges' with which you can participate to get yourself 'Grooving'.  I have not done this before, but this week, the Challenges do all tie-in with what I have been doing / achieving over the last few weeks (besides packing of course).

So this weeks Groovy Mums Challenges are :

1. Body – What new ways can you find to take exercise? Check out what is offered at your local leisure centres and community venues. Is there something you could do at home to increase your fitness?

I have got a little buzzing bee flying around my mind saying 'Run the 2013 Marathon'.  I did it in 2006, and feel super inspired to do it again.  I even have the added incentive of one of my very oldest friends being inclined to do it with me. 

This has obviously kick started the running, and I have signed up for races in June, July and October currently.  Because running is tough on the knees it is always good to do a lesser impact form of exercise as well, so I have got out the exercise DVDs (always a good cold, rainy day option) and the Yoga one (have been wanting to do Yoga for a while now). 

I have even worked out the weekly schedule so that I can fit the runs in, and have enlisted the help of The Hubby to assist with the fundraising side of things.  Just waiting for the Charity Entry to open for the charity we would like to run for now.  All very exciting.

2. Mind – It is Depression Awareness Week. Have you experienced depression? Do you know how to spot the signs of depression in your loved ones and others? Check out http://blackdogtribe.com for information and support with mental health issues. They are also asking for your stories.

I, just last week, published a very personal account of my experience with depression after my son was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at a little over a year old.  I had such an amazing response to this that I am now writing a series of posts on it, outlining why I ended up with depression, how I responded to it and how I slowly, but surely saw my way though it.  You can find them here : Dark Days Part One and Dark Days Part Two.

3. Blogging – Did you know http://britmums.com publish round-ups of good posts on certain issues such a food, politics, special needs, green issues, health and more? Why not promote your posts to the editors of these round-ups and raise your profile?

Strangely enough I just discovered the Round Up on Special Needs and submitted some Disability Diaries posts.  I will most certainly be checking it out on a regular basis, it is amazing where gems of information can come from.  Special Needs is such a vast and expansive subject that sometimes it is difficult to know where to start to look for the right information for you - so this is a great starting point.  Any forum that brings together a support network is also good.
4. Special Days – This week saw us marking St George’s Day. Is there a dragon that you need to tackle in your life?
At the moment my dragon is fitting our entire house into boxes again!  The first part of packing is easy, you can box all the things you are not using or needing to use.  It is the stage we are at now I struggle with, where I can't box up what we are using, but there still seems so much left to pack.  I will be most glad when next week arrives and the move takes place.
5. Charity Connections- Get shopping online and hundreds of retailers will give a percentage of what you spend to a charity of your choice. Click here http://www.give.as/kateonthinice and register for free for Give As You Live with your name and email address. Do it today! You don’t have to spend any money now but it means when you do shop online you can ensure some of the money goes to a good cause. Why wouldn’t you? When you click, you will see poppies because I am personally raising money for the Royal British Legion but you can register here and then when you shop, you can select a charity of your choice.
I am going to look into this for sure.
6, The Big Question – What has the last year brought you? Are you happy with it?
This last year has been hectic and fast paced, as it is with all families with young children I think.  Overall I am very happy though, the children are developing and progressing amazingly well, we are just managing to keep our head above water (not easy in this economic climate) and The Hubby seems to be on the mend after a few health scares at the end of last year, with the important thing of he is now on the radar to have a closer eye kept on him.  For me, life as a SAHM is still good, and with J2 getting a little older I am starting to be able to keep on top of the housekeeping (i.e ironing and cooking properly) with less of a degree of difficulty.  I just yesterday posted a round up of the best points of the last four months to J1 and J2 (Dear Boys - Letter of Life 4) as I think it is a great way for them to keep a record of life as we know it.

If you are inspired by Groovy Mums, sign up to the new Groovy Mums networking site here

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Dear Boys - Letter of Life 4

Dearest J1 and J2

Spring 2012

I believe last time I wrote you a letter, we were just about to move.  Well low and behold, we are just about to move again.  So for a second time, I apologise for the 'crazy packing boxes' mummy you have had to endure for the last few weeks, but the move this time, we are sure will be the right one for us.  Either way, I'm not moving again so it's going to have to be! 

That aside, 2012 is now a quarter past and what a busy and amazing time it has been.  You two fantastic boys have developed massively in the last four months and that is note-worthy just in itself.

So in the true keeping of one of the founding reasons that this blog was born, here is a summary of why you boys never fail to blow me away and make me the proudest mum in the world.

* I am truly thankful for the way you are both becoming so clear and coherent in your speech.  J1, you are developing a real little independent sense of humour and your ability to drop one liners is becoming renowned.  J2, you have gone from odd little clear words to whole sentences in the matter of weeks and we are almost at the stage of having whole conversations.  I love nothing more than a chat with you two lads, snuggled on J1's bed during reading hour at bedtime.  It fills my heart that I can do this with both of you.  I am very lucky.

* Further to your chatting abilities J1, you are continuing to come on leaps and bounds at school.  You are learning letters and sounds and it makes my eyes fill when we sit each evening and do your 'homework'.  You are getting your sounds / letters / object identification correct - you excel my biggest hopes and dreams and you prove to me (in the words of Adidas) 'Impossible is Nothing'

* J2, you also are developing and growing both physically and in character.  Every week when I collect you from your one nursery session they say what a wonderful and lively little person you are turning into and that is certainly true.  Stubborn, of course - you are my child - but loving, funny, caring and energetic go hand in hand with that.

* Both of you continue to have a Peppa Pig obsession.  Yes, obsession.  Enough said on one.

* The anticipation of summer is starting to come alive now and I think we are going to have a really amazing one this year.  We are going to be living within a stones throw of the beach and the sea, what more could we ask for than that?

* In addition for the summer is that we have, this month, firmed up our 'Big Family Holiday' plans for July.  Not only are we going away with Nanny and Grandad this year, but also your Aunt and Uncle and two fantastic cousins are also joining us.  I can feel a lot of photographs being snapped for the memory book.

* Before the summer hits however, we have a very busy May.  The move is going to kickstart it, followed by a very important day for the family on the third, but that is a whole post to itself.  This month will also see Nanny and Grandad celebrating 40 years (yes 4-0) of marriage.  We are having a big Ruby Family Gathering, which is very exciting as some of the family will not have seen you both since the wedding last year.  I think they will also be amazed at how much you have both grown.

* Finally, one last and very special mention.  It is special because, for a good 14 months or so I did not think it would ever come... J2 you have finally... started to play on your own for a small period - thus allowing me to... do some ironing - woo hoo (cue fireworks, bangers and celebrations all round)!

So, my dear boys I look forward to the next four months.  I am wondering if they can possibly be as packed with changes from you both as these last few have been, but I have learnt - never say never. 

Love Always and Forever,

Mum

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Disability Diaries (The Life of J1) : Dark Days - The Beginning of a Journey

Part two in a series of 'Dark Days' posts in the 'Disability Diaries' Feature.

I have had friends, who have been struggling with how they feel, ask me how the anti-depressants actually helped me.  The only way I can describe how they helped me on the road to recovery is to explain; I was able to deal with more.  Rather than the smallest thing seeming like a big deal, or a mountain to climb, they became just what they were again; a small thing

This in turn allowed my mind to start dealing with the other issues that it had to process.  Over the course of 15 months the days spent crying became less frequent, and the old 'fighting' spirit started to return, slowly.  It was not an overnight cure, the lack of sleep did not assist matters.  However, days where we had negative news on J1's diagnosis - which could have knocked me out K-O style - instead meant I cried, had a bad day and was able to move on.

In short, I started to learn to cope.

My doctor had not just prescribed anti-depressants to try and combat my dark days, he also suggested that I needed a healthier diet and some form of exercise as a 'natural' remedy to help lift me up.  The diet change was relatively simple.  Pre-baby I had always maintained a reasonable diet (my weight does not automatically stay down).  Also at one point I had spent a long period being an avid gym attendee.

Although I had good intentions with the exercise I struggled to find the motivation to do something.  The only real 'exercise' I enjoyed was going to the gym and at the time I was not in a financial position to join one.  Work had allowed me to reduce my hours, but of course with that came a salary reduction.  As I worked within the Students' Union at the University I was surrounded by a lot of sport-friendly/financially restrained people.  One person suggested that I might like to take up running.  It was free, would give me a good dose of happy hormones and some fresh air.  They even offered to work out a training plan for me if I so desired!  I nearly fell off of my chair laughing.  After thanking them for the offer, I explained that I faked a sick note for every 'cross country' session at school and had never even run on the treadmill at the gym.  Running was not a sport for me.

Although I was starting to feel better I still did not feel strong enough to take up offers of social occasions with friends.  I wasn't ready to run the risk of being required to openly discuss J1's condition, or even worse have to deal with their sympathy.  Additionally I found, after an 'attempt' at trying to tell certain people, they got very upset.  I felt they were expecting me to be strong enough to help them deal with their grief.  I didn't have that sort of strength so went back to my withdrawn method.  At work, people were appropriately avoiding asking anything too personal.  They stuck to 'How's J1 doing, ok?' allowing me to answer with a simple 'Yes, thank you for asking' - which was about as much as I could cope with.  I was thankful for the polite and reserved trait of the English.  

It was on another Saturday evening at home, researching a charity website, that I came across the 'How You Can Help?' section.  The site listed different 'Adventures' that you could sign up to, such as; Walking the Great Wall of China; Trek Kilimanjaro; Cycle to Paris.  One caught my eye in particular 'Trek the Inca Trail - Peru'.  It looked just, stunning.

I printed off the details and slept on the idea.  When I got up on Sunday the thought of doing something to raise money for charity, charities that were giving us help and support, invigorated me.  I felt a bounce in my step that I had wondered would ever return.  I had never been very adventurous in choosing holiday destinations, and to be honest it did scare me somewhat.  I decided to call a friend who was very well travelled to glean their opinion on the choice of adventure.

I felt nervous approaching someone about something that I wanted to do.  I was used to just doing exactly what I chose to.  However, I quickly realised that if I was going to do something, as big as what I was setting my sights on, then I was going to need support.  I made the call, and my excitement must have been infectious because two hours later I received a message saying - 'Not only do I think it will be good for you, I am going to do it with you!'.

I was even more worried about suggesting the idea to my parents.  I was concerned that they would think it was a step too far, considering I had only just started to cope with day to day life.  I was not going to be able to do this without their full consent however.  I was going to need lots of babysitting agreement so that I could get fit; go away for practise treks; organise the fund-raising side of things and of course go on the trek itself.

I did approach them however.  Although I could see uncertainty with a touch of 'We will say yes but I can't see her going through with it' in their eyes, to say 'yes' I think they must have see a twinkle in mine that had been missing for sometime.  My mum suggested before I parted with any money registering, I should take a month or two working on getting fit to see if I could - in reality - fit all the training in that would be required.

I agreed.  I had read that I would cope better with the altitude issues that would present themselves, if I had a good lung capacity.  At the time I could have taken a decent wager that it was currently pretty poor.  I looked up what would be the best way to improve it and unsurprisingly the suggestion was; Running.  It was time to go back cap in hand to the very kind person that had offered to help me with this very subject.

Little did I know that running was about to become a very real and very important part of my life.  How taking on more would in fact help me cope better and how much it would improve my state of mind.





Sunday, 22 April 2012

What Has Made Me Cheerful This Week

It is the time of the week that I like to think about what has gone on over the last 7 days, and pick out just the best bits to record in our history.

So, for this (showery) week in April these are my Reasons to Be Cheerful :

1. I submitted my first article to SEN Magazine and had very encouraging feedback from the Ed

2. I joined the new Groovy Mum's Network

3. We got a good majority of the house packed up and our new home move date grows closer

4. The Hubby had two interviews for new roles

5. J1 returned to school happy and with a smile

6. J1 learnt 3 new letter / sounds (d / t / i)

7. J2 has started to really put coherent sentences together

8. Another new day view record was achieved on the blog

9. I managed to write a very difficult, personal blog post that I have been wanting to write for a while but haven't had the mindset to carry out - until now

10. My nephew turned 16 this week and, apart from the fact it really drove home that I am no longer a teenager (because my mind feels not too much different to then sometimes!) it did give me a good purpose for reflection.  This was on two levels, firstly I thought about what and how much I have achieved since I was 16, and secondly regarding my nephew that for a 16 year old boy - he is a really good kid.

Other inspiring and 'Cheery' souls can be found over at www.mdplife.blogspot.com

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Disability Diaries (The Life of J1) : Dark Days - The Discovery

The first post in a series of 'Dark Days' for the 'Disability Diaries' Feature

J1 was discharged from hospital and the Special Care Unit, at just over three weeks old.  This was such a relief, it was all positive steps in the right direction.  I had been lucky in one respect, because we had been sent out to a hospital quite a distance from our home, I was allowed to stay on the post-natal ward for two weeks so I could be with J1 within minutes.  Once we were transferred back to our local hospital, I had to commute daily which was very stressful. 

All the time I was not sitting by the incubator, which was only when I was sleeping, showering, eating or travelling, I was like a cat on hot coals, pining to be there.  I was still in a great deal of discomfort from my cesarean and although people kept telling me that I also needed to rest, I would be up at 6.00am so that I could get to the hospital to see my little miracle.  The 20 minute journey to the hospital which pre-J1 seemed like a short commute, seemed to take a life time.  Every bit of traffic seemed like an obstacle personally placed to stop me getting to my newborn.  Leaving at night was complete torture. 

However, when we were finally released the whole family breathed a sigh of relief.  We could now start our life as a 'normal' mother and baby.  A few days after he was home we had the standard midwife check up.  J1 was doing well, I however had broken out in a rather painful rash around my midriff.  After taking one look at it she declared "Oh dear, it's Shingles."

The Midwife suggested that it was probably a physical reaction to the shock of what had gone on over the last month.  I was quite surprised by this idea, as far as I was concerned I had just taken everything in my stride, and why had it happened now, when we were home and the pressure was off?  She said it was a common occurrence, that your brain can only take so much stress before it bubbles over and a physical reaction is required to 'release' it so to speak.

I probably should have been more aware of this when 'The Diagnosis' came.  I was doing exactly the same thing, thinking I was just taking everything in my stride.  The shocking fact that I had a son with a condition called Cerebral Palsy, all the extra hospital visits and appointments that came with this news, the usual stress of being a first time, single mother with a young baby and trying to work to provide a home and nice life. 

I ignored the initial signs that I was not dealing with everything that was being thrown into my path of life.  The signs such as, only going out to work, not taking friends calls or offers of a social hour out.  The days that I would wake up from my sleep sobbing, and then shed big, hot, ploppy tears for the next 12 hours of the day.  I stopped caring about my appearance, something I had always made a big effort with, particularly when it came to work.  I would go into my office each day, but my head wouldn't be there, I would just want to be at home, curled up with my baby on my sofa sleeping.

I also picked up every bug and virus on the radar.  I tried to keep going, until I developed tonsillitis so badly it gave me a temperature of over 100.  This knocked me off of my feet for days, and combined with feeling low to start with I slipped into a deep and dark pit.  My parents had to take J1 as we did not want him to contract it.  I laid on my sofa for three days, hardly moving, without the tv or radio on, not eating and wondered if I would ever get up. 

I laid and wondered if I had the strength to get up and keep going.  I questioned if I was capable of looking after this precious and special little boy.  If I could cope with what the world was going to place on our lap.  Buried deep in fear of the unknown and feeling far from well those are the worst three days I have ever lived through. 

Once the tonsillitis wore off and I had to return to work, I went as the shell of the person that I had been.  I remember walking in on the first day back, kind of dazed and straight to my bosses office.  They took one look at me and said "Your clothes don't match?  What's going on?".  When we discovered I couldn't really string a sentence together without tears, she immediately gave me some time off with the strict instructions to go and talk to my doctor.  She had been wanting to do this for a while but didn't want to upset me further by approaching me about it.
It was difficult in the doctors.  I tried to go in to say I was run down, but he could see it was more than that.  Much sobbing of 'I can't cope' (just saying those words was enlightening) he prescribed some anti-depressants, along with a healthy diet and some exercise.  As my Mother had come along with me, he was satisfied that J1 was being safely cared by me and my family.
Leaving the Doctors I was in two minds about the anti-depressants.  I really did not want to have to take them, there was such a stigma attached, would they cause unwanted side effects?  Did I really want to be taking them at 26 years old?  Would it not lead to a longer slippery slope?  My Mother made a two good points, I could research the ones I had been prescribed, until I was happy.  If I then made the decision that I was going to take them no one else even needed to know, I could just outwardly make the diet and exercise change.
Just by taking the steps to start to try and help myself, I immediately felt better.  I had regained a small amount of control.  I had been signed off of work so I had a couple of weeks to slowly start to make some lifestyle changes, and the important thing was that I wanted to.  I did research the anti-depressants and felt satisfied after further discussion with the doctor, that I would probably only need them for the short term.  The Doctor noted that I wasn't a seemingly 'depressed' person in general.  I had 'reactive depression' which given the circumstances, was not unsurprising.
Things did not change overnight, of course they didn't.  But never since have I had three days as dark as those I experienced at the beginning.  I started taking my tablets, I made more effort with my diet and I started to think about what forms of exercise I should undertake.  It was good to have something like diet and exercise to focus on.
My journey to recovery, acceptance and getting our happy life back had begun.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Birthdays

A fantastic blogger friend of mine recently wrote a great post 'Birthday Girl', which got me thinking that in the midst of our frantic move, the Easter Holidays, planning for parents Ruby Wedding Anniversary do, and the chaos of day to day life it is my birthday in less than 2 weeks.

Mummy Plum got me thinking about Birthday Traditions, and reminiscing about my birthdays of my childhood.  My parents always used to put my cards on the door mat, so that when I got up it looked like I had received them all through the post.  I used to love scooping them up and making my way into the kitchen to find the dining table decorated with my gifts and cake as a centre piece.  Apart from one year when instead I was made to cover my eyes, was assisted downstairs to find a new bike set up in the hallway (with my cards on the mat behind it of course).

I was always allowed a birthday party.  The first one I really remember was my fifth birthday.  I wore a little red skirt with a white, red and yellow striped top and thought I looked the bee's knee's.  We ate wearing pointy, shiny party hats and played pass-the-parcel, musical chairs and musical statues.  Parties used to fly by, parents were knocking at the door to collect close friends all too soon, none of this 'must invite the whole class' situation that seems to be the thing nowadays.

My mum was always very particular about me having a really great cake and used to take me weeks before to the local bakers to choose which one I would like.  I remember having 'bunnies in bed', a Dougal from The Magic Roundabout, and those baked in the shape of the age that I was.

My Dougal Cake was Pink (of course) Image : Box O' Cakes

As I got older birthday parties were replaced by 'An Outing' with two or three friends.  I remember one particular birthday we went to Chessington World of Adventures and the weather being beautiful, another going to the local Ice Rink and another, when my birthday fell over a Bank Holiday weekend, spent on a mini-break and when we arrived all of our extended family were there as a surprise.

One thing I have realised whilst thinking about this post, is that I do not really have birthday traditions now I am an adult.  I would like to have some though I think.  Last year, The Hubby and I went shopping for the afternoon.  After a lovely morning with the children, we spent the afternoon browsing at leisure (a rare luxury) with a nice meal to finish the day off, while the children spent some happy hours at Nanny and Grandad's.  It would be nice if once a year that was our tradition, I was certainly hoping that would be the birthday activity of choice this year.  However, we are moving on my day of birth this year, so we might have to postpone it! 

Whilst I do not have traditions as an adult I try to ensure that the children have the same happy memories of birthdays as I had.  I try and wake them up super excited, do the cards on the door mat, decorations around the home and display on the table.  We did do 'Parties' for J1 for a few years but he doesn't get very much out of them so we now try tailor an activity for him to have as much fun as everyone else.  I must admit I am looking forward to J2 getting older and arranging a-typical school friend parties for him.

Until I had children I did not realise the importance of birthdays to parents.  I used to look at those parents throwing extravagant parties for 2 year olds and think 'Why?'.  But now I understand, when your children are babies / toddlers you are thrilled that everyone has made it through a year unscathed and that is a reason to celebrate; when they get to school age you realise just how quickly the time is going and you want to make memories for everyone that will never be forgotten; as you get to adulthood you appreciate the fact that you are there to celebrate with the ones you love full stop.  Considering I am only 32, too many of my friends have already had to say goodbye to a parent, or even more devastatingly, both and that makes me realise how lucky I am.

So this birthday, it doesn't matter that I haven't had time to plan or prepare.  I am just going to appreciate that I have very special people to spend it with.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A Mother's Work (Meme)

I have been tagged by the fabulous Mummy Plum to participate in the #amothersworkmeme.  As I have enjoyed reading other blogging mum's responses to this I am very pleased to be asked to be involved and it'll be a nice little synopsis for my children to know what Mummy did pre-them, so here we go, firstly the rules :
  • Post the Rules
  • Answer the Questions in as much or as little detail as suits you
  • Leave a comment on MotherWifeMe so we can keep track of the meme
  • Tag three people and link them on your blog
  • Let them know you tagged them
  • Tweet loudly about taking part using #amothersworkmeme
Did you work before becoming a mum?

I most certainly did, I have worked since I could at the age of 16 as I have always been quite an independent person.  My first job was with a concession of a well known clothing shop within a large department store in a South-East shopping centre.  It was great because a lot of my friends worked in the same department store, in various sections so it was fantastically social.  I don't know how many times we all crawled in for our Sunday shifts, having only been to sleep for about 3 hours, but the fact we were all suffering together got us through the day! 

My first full time job was an Administrator training position, within a training company.  Here I completed NVQ levels 2 & 3 in Business Administration along with numerous other vocational qualifications.  This job really helped me grow from a shy teenager into a confident adult. 

My next career move came along when my parents decided to move out of the area we were living in.  I was happy to make the big change, and found myself landing a receptionist job with the Students' Union at the University of Essex.  Only being 19 myself it was ideal as it gave me an abundance of people my own age to make friends with, which was probably one of the scariest factors in moving at that point.

I really enjoyed my years, nine in all, at the University and slowly progressed up the chain of command until I was the Administration Manager.  By this point I had become a mum, and was completely living and standing financially on my own two feet.  As J1 was due to go to school,  I made the decision to try and get a job 'in the big city', which was more financially viable, although a lot longer hours. 

London had always scared me as a place, however, as I was older and more confident I took to City Life with full gusto and after a short (and rather boring) stint as an Office Manager at a high-end Estate Agents, I was head hunted by a Construction and Fit Out company for a Head of Department role.

Again I really enjoyed what I got out of this role and period in my career, plus this was where I met my husband.  When I fell pregnant for a second time, the commuting and long hours became almost impossible, so when redundancy became a reality it actually couldn't have timed out better.

What is your current situation?

Even though I was planning on becoming a Stay - at - Home mum once baby number 2 was born, the redundancy meant I could really take it easy throughout my pregnancy and focus on catching up on lost time with J1.  Until I got that time back with him, I did not realise how much I had missed out on so it was wonderful.

I am very lucky in that I have been able to remain a SAHM, although some days (especially as J2 has hit toddlerhood) I think getting up and going out to work would be the easier option! 

As I chose to be a Domestic Goddess (*coughs / splutters*) I have enjoyed it thoroughly and only had minimal moments of feeling I should be doing 'more'.  When those moments have occurred, something generally happens that reminds me that I am infact doing the most fulfilling job in the world.  I do find I have the best days when I structure our week, like I would for any job, rather than just ambling along.  That's just me and my over-wrought need to work to a 'plan' (read *list*).

Freestyle - a chance to get across your own point of view on the subject?

When I wasn't a Mother I used to judge SAHM and think 'What are they doing?'.  I dislike myself for doing that now.  I laugh at the fact that I used to think that my going to work in an office all day was more important than staying home to raise children.

Then when I became a Mother and wasn't in a financial position to be a SAHM, I resented those Mothers that could be at home.  I then had to tell myself that what I was doing was important (it wasn't, but helped me at the time).

I should never ever have judged.  This is what makes me most infuriated now.  When I was a working Mother, I used to feel judged that I was a full time working mum when people used to say 'So who looks after your child all day long?' - interpreted by me as *failer*.  Now I am a SAHM, I feel judged when people ask that inevitable 'What do you do?' question.  Even though I very proudly said 'I am a full time stay - at - home mother' I used to find myself following this up with 'But I used to be a Head of Department for a Company in London' (yes, I annoyed myself) and that is what they were interested in.

I don't do this anymore.  I now say very proudly 'I am a full time stay - at - home mum' and when they (usually) ask if I do anything 'else' at home (I am assuming they mean, run a home company or online business or similar) I look them directly in the eye and ask where I would find the time?  This usually stops them and their judgement in their tracks.

When J2 goes to school I am hoping that my response will be 'I am a writer' and by that point I will be still enjoying the full time world of Motherhood, combined with a work from home job that I love.  Pipedream?  Maybe, but I am going to strive my hardest to make it reality. 



Who are you tagging to take up the Mother's Work Meme baton?

Glasgow Mummy
Looking for Blue Sky

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Saturday, 14 April 2012

What Has Made Me Cheerful This Week?

Although this week started on the back foot for me with a nasty three day stomach bug (swiftly followed by it taking out my husband) we have managed to get back on track and I have managed to think about the things that have made me smile during the course of this week.

1. The biggest thing is our house move date has been confirmed and although it is imminent, and we have a mammoth task to try and get our current house packed up in record time, on the whole, the quick date is excellent in the long run for our family because we will be back by the sea for the summer.  Much family fun to be had.

2. This week has been the second of the Easter Holidays for J1, so lots of extra time together.

3. I have nearly finished my third book of the year, so although I was off to a slow start on my mission of 12 in 12 months, I am almost back on track.

4. I had a record number of page views on my blog for a day this week, and it was by some considerable amount, not quite sure how it happened but it was pleasing.

5. We received news that another set of friends are expecting baby number 2 in October, it is like a baby boom at the moment!

6. Even though most of the family got struck down by the 'Tummy Bug', J1 avoided it, and if anyone needs to avoid it, J1 is it. 

7. I applied for another small writing opportunity, am currently waiting to hear if I have been successful.

8. Hubby got asked back for a second interview for a job opportunity, again we are waiting to hear news.

9. I have had lots of inspiration for writing this week and my mind has been thinking about book ideas in copious amounts - this is good as it has been a bit lacking of late.

10. I have somehow, by some miracle, caught up with my ironing!  I am assuming this will only last for this week as I now have such large quantities of house packing to do.

Other inspiring and 'Cheery' souls can be found over at www.mdplife.blogspot.com

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Groovy Mums (an inspiration by Kate on Thin Ice)

Many of my posts mention that I am participating in the Groovy Mum's initiative over at Kate on Thin Ice.  This is a positive and inspirational link up for mums that want to take steps to change, improve, move their lives forward for themselves and / or their family and have support from other mum bloggers whilst doing so. 

Participation is as much or as little as you like, you can link up posts outlining the steps you have started to make, would like to take or are looking for inspiration to take and reading other peoples progress and success is a massive spirit lifter.  On the other side of the coin, on occasions progress you had hoped to achieve has not been made it can be a source of positive reinforcement not to give up or if you ask nicely, even a kick up the bum if you feel one is required.

It is great to have a place to, kind of, report to especially if you have a nature like mine, and have to have lists to get by and like to keep a running report in your own mind of what you have managed to achieve.  I worked like this when I was in full time employment and years of this tried and tested approach still works for me as a stay at home mum, and yes, it is also a way for me to remind myself that my role at home is as busy as the one I ever held in the World of Work, which is easy to forget when you trade money-making for home-making.

At the beginning of the year I decided to list my Aims and Hopes (of achieving things) for 2012 and broke them down to a few per month.  These are my posts that I have been linking up with Groovy Mums, I found that I made much more effort to actually succeed and fulfil what I set out to do at the beginning of each month so that I could report back and get a good old pat on the back (or when lack of effort prevailed, kick up the buttocks!).  By doing this I have made some great new blogger acquaintances, who always take the time and effort to catch up with my blog and more importantly comment their support and opinions.

In addition to providing a place for the fantastic link up, thus support network, Kate also goes to the tremendous effort of providing 'Challenges' for anyone that maybe struggling to come up with their own inspiration to move forward.  These Challenges look at various areas of life (for example Mind, Body and Soul) and ask you to think about how making a change in this area in your life could be positive for you.  Again, participation is completely optional, but some of the Challenges have certainly got me thinking, and recently saw me getting involved with helping Charity close to my heart.

If you have been 'thinking' about checking out what this is, whether you are a blogger or not, it is so worth going to visit Kate and some of her wonderful Groovy Mums, I promise you will come away smiling and inspired.  I have.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Disability Diaries (The Life of J1) : Trying to Live Life

After our diagnosis, life with 'Cerebral Palsy' began, but our 'Life with a Baby' didn't just stop.  In fact it was easy to pretend to those outside of our inner circle that our world hadn't changed.  I knew paperwork was plentiful, we were becoming familiar with alot of professionals who's titles ended in 'Ist' and play dates were fitted in around physiotherapy sessions, but although this condition had come into our lives, J1 was still only a one year old baby boy with the same everyday baby needs as any other.

I found myself in a strange state of limbo.  On the one hand I was trying my best to accept and understand J1's condition and come to the point where I could say 'My baby has Cerebral Palsy' to those that needed to know without collapsing in floods of tears (that took a few years just for the record, before then it would be hit and miss), and on the other I was trying to live life as regularly as possible so that we could enjoy J1 just being a baby boy, and not a baby boy with severe disabilities. 

As our diagnosis came at quite an early age for J1, for the most part while we were out and about no one would know anything was different for us.  He could go in a buggy (with some extra wadding down his sides) and a bit of adjusting every now and then, just fine.  When we went out to eat, rather than using a highchair, always so kindly offered, we would either hold him on our lap or feed him in his buggy and to be honest, I think people thought we were being over protective and no-one seemed to question that we were feeding him his bottle rather than him holding it himself, or solely feeding him rather than letting him try and do it himself.  I guess people thought that was our choice rather than our baby couldn't do it. 

The ignorance of strangers was bliss at that time, because if at any point the enormity of it all got to much, I could generally go out for a walk, or to the shops or for something to eat and for those short few hours, Cerebral Palsy didn't have to exist.  I was the same as all those other mums wandering around with their strollers, day bag filled with drinks, snacks, nappies and entertainment solutions.

This gave me a sort of 'grace' period I suppose.  I could deal with our diagnosis news at a slightly slower pace, and with those that were trying to understand it with me.  I knew I had to come to terms with the diagnosis, and I knew that I had to continue living life and not let it take over.  I had no idea how difficult those two things would be and how I shouldn't be afraid to accept help.  However, initially with my baby still a baby I tried to just get on, without letting it affect me at all.  I was a single mother who was working so an abundance of spare time wasn't something I particularly had.  

For those first few months I managed to close my eyes and continue on our hectic schedule whilst fooling everyone that I had just taken it in my stride.  However, babies grow and a shock like I had received doesn't just hit you and not leave an imprint.  This of course, all being on top of the fact, that I had been dealing with my baby arriving 8 weeks prematurely and spending a month in Special Care.  Stressful factors that also didn't get dealt with at the time.

In my haste to try and continue to live life and cope, I was ignoring the issue that I was not coping and my body was about to tell me to stop and deal with things.

Monday, 9 April 2012

The First Quarter & The April Plan

I always remember my mum saying to me that as you get older, time goes faster.  Those six weeks holidays that stretched for miles as child, full of promise and playing anticipation now pass by in a flash, as my own children enjoy them.

Now we find ourselves in April.  A whole quarter of 2012 is now a bible of memories in our minds.  I have to say that on the whole the year has started off well for us and for that I am very thankful.  We have only had one event of sadness, when my Dear Uncle, decided he had had enough of being held hostage by Alzehimers and kissed us goodbye to go and be with our other loved ones in Heaven.

I started off the year with a list of 'Hopes and Aims' that I outlined in a post The 2012 Plan.  It was quite an extensive list and I did wonder if I had perhaps 'hoped' for a bit too much for one short year, however, I decided to break those things down into monthly aims and to date I haven't done too badly (various posts entitled The Plan - Month outlines individual progress).  Participating in the Groovy Mum initiative over at Kate on Thin Ice has helped massively with this as it has been great to have goal point to look to for getting those things done.

Now, having looked at what has been achieved already this year I am confident that, with good health continuing with everyone I will succeed in fulfilling my Hopes and Aims for 2012.  With this positively in mind I now don't feel so bad that March and April have been surrended to just one aim - to find a new house and move!  As we are hoping (everything crossed) that this will be completed by the beginning of May I am already thinking about which 'Goals' I will be looking to achieve in May and June.
So just for continuitities sake my Hopes and Aims for April are :

* For the house exchange to go ahead without any issues
* To pack up entire house without losing my marbles
* To move!

As always I am also continuing a good majority of all the 'Goals' achieved in the last quarter (I think the only *fail* has been getting to the Spa!  So technically I think I should do 2 sessions in the next quarter *wink*.
If you are making positive steps to make changes to your life, join in with the Groovy Mum's initiaitive over at Kate on Thin Ice, the support you will find is amazing and a great driving force on occasions you might not be feeling so positive.