Four generations

This week we had a visit from my son and his fiance with my baby granddaughter. It was the first time I had been able to have a cuddle with the little one since February at which time she was only 4 months old. So you can imagine how much she has changed during this period of lockdown.

Where there are usually just the two of us in the house for a few hours there were 6 plus a dog. There was my mum aka Great Grannie, myself, my eldest son Prodigal and Model his fiance with little Miss Sunshine. Plus Miss Sunshine’s Grandad and his dog.

It was fun to see Miss Sunshine playing with new toys and crawling around investigating everything. I was privileged to read her favourite book with her. Obviously back in February she was still too young for solids but now she enjoys a variety of food. It’s a good thing she was able to eat her raspberries in the garden. She loved them (far more than her tomato omelettes). She did make rather a mess with them though. I’m glad that I don’t have to deal with messy meal times anymore.

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Christmas is on it’s way

Today we have been making preparations for Christmas. Yesterday I bought a few items to make the house a little more Christmas like. The first thing I did this morning was to put up a few decorations.

In previous years we spent Christmas together at the house I shared with my husband. My sons and their partners would visit either just for the day or for a couple of days.

Last year was my first Christmas living with Mum. We didn’t have a tree. Mum hasn’t bothered in recent years other than her wreath for the front door and a Christmas candle bridge for the dining room window. I left all my decorations behind when I left.christmas 2019

This year although we are getting together with my sons and families for lunch on Christmas Eve. Three of my sons will be visiting us for Christmas morning before going their separate ways. My little grandson who will be almost 20 months will be here. I know he is still too young to understand what is going on but I want to make it nice for his visit.

During the morning we both set about filling gift bags for various family members. Mine are still upstairs but we now have a crowd of festive bags in a corner of the room.

Do you have family traditions that you always follow on Christmas day?

There have been times when I have wanted to change things about but my sons have been very resistant to any change.

The day usually begins with Bacon rolls for breakfast. (I’m not sure how or when this began). Once everyone has assembled either from bedrooms or arriving from else where. Snacks are available for anyone who wants them. While the turkey is cooking we gather round for the distribution of gifts. It generally falls to my youngest to hand out the gifts. It starts out being one at a time but gradually speeds up. Once everyone has opened all the presents and the wrapping have been disposed of there is time to chat and catch up on everyone’s news before lunch is served. Now that my sons are all adults there is no need to find batteries for toys. I think that will soon change again.

After lunch the chat continues until someone decides it’s time to start playing board games. The Queens speech is watched even if we are still eating at the time. In the evening there are sandwiches, mince pies and Christmas cake if anyone has room.We watch Eastenders either before or after I become chauffeur depending on timings.

This year things will be different as we are having our big meal the day before. We will probably have a nap in the afternoon once it is only us and possibly just one of my sons.

 

1995

At the start of 1995 I lost my father. He had a heart attack and died just a month after his 55th birthday. I can’t believe that was almost 25 years ago. In March I discovered that I was pregnant again. I already had 3 young sons (it hadn’t been my intention to increase my family). This baby was due on 16th December (my father’s birthday). Of course we told the boys that this baby was a gift from their Grandpa. This year, 2019, my father would have been 80 on 16th December.

Because I had had two babies by caesarean section, plus I also have a propensity to have big babies, it was decided that I should have this baby by elected caesarean early to prevent the chance of an early labour.

So it was that, early on the morning of Friday 1st December 1995, my husband drove me to the hospital where I was booked in for the birth of my fourth child. In those days we didn’t routinely know the gender of our baby before we met in person. Having 3 sons I was convinced that if this child was another boy I would suffer from postnatal blues. I had asked to be sterilized during the birth process. I enjoyed pregnancy but felt that I shouldn’t put my body through any more pregnancies. This decision meant that if I had another son I knew I would therefore never have a daughter. I love my sons and don’t regret having any of them but I knew that in later years I would have no daughter to do girly things with. My life ahead would be football orientated. (Which it was).

I remember being prepared for theatre and telling the nurse that I don’t want to do this. “I know about dirty nappies and broken nights, I don’t want to do that again.” Laughing she told me it was a bit late for that now. I was then wheeled out of the room leaving my husband behind. Although I was having an epidural he wouldn’t be joining me, as my third son was being dropped off by Grannie, while she went off to a meeting having taken my elder sons to school. It was his turn to look after our young son.

It wasn’t long before I was given my 4th son. It was a day before we had a name for him. He was a healthy 7lb 7oz even though he was 16 days early. Although he wasn’t the daughter I had hoped for I loved that baby boy from the very second I met him all slippery and red.

I have now had 24 years of love for and from that boy. I feel very lucky to have this child (now an adult) in my life. I do love all my boys more than anything or anyone else (except my grandchildren). However this boy and I have been through some challenges together. He was only 5 and not long started school when I was told that I had stage III cancer. His father had told our boys that “Mummy is going to die” Obviously I didn’t. Then a few years down the line my marriage collapsed. This little boy of mine refused to go to school most days saying that he was ill. In time it was discovered that his reluctance to go to school was because he was scared that if he left my side he would lose me.

You see although I had filed for divorce from my alcoholic emotionally abusive (now known as Coersive control) husband. We were still living in the same house. I had moved out of the marital bedroom and slept on the sofa for months. My husband had made many threats to my life. This little boy only 9 years old witnessed things a child should never see. He wanted to protect me from the kitchen knife that was being used to threaten me with, among other things. He was the one who wiped my face clean after his father had spat in my face.

Once their father aka The other parent had moved out of the house, life calmed down a little. As my boy grew older he was afraid that he might turn out like his Dad. I knew that just the worry of that meant that he wouldn’t. He is a very caring lad. He worries about everything. The 5 years between the other parent leaving and our divorce being finalised and me meeting husband number 2. My four boys and I were happy even though life was tough.

Then I met husband number 2 and moved my baby boy away from his friends. He was not happy. It didn’t help that 2nd husband was a very reluctant step father. He didn’t make life very pleasant for my two younger boys who were living with us before going to Uni. I felt very guilty for everything my little boy ( a strapping 16/17 year old by then) had been through in his life. He was very unhappy. When he finished college he went of to University in Southampton. By the second year of Uni his anxiety problems had become so extreme that he was often sick in the mornings. I spent many hours trying to give him a sense of peace so that he could cope with life.

18 months ago he left Uni and moved into a flat with his girlfriend. He tried to find work to support them both. He did have interviews and even job offers but his anxiety problems got in the way. He was so unhappy, he desperately wanted everyone to be proud of him. He wanted to be able to support himself and his girlfriend. Finally last winter he got a job that he was able to keep hold of. He didn’t enjoy it and the travelling was a problem but he kept going even though his hours kept being cut. I am please to say that they are both now working in places that they are happy in and the pay has increased for them both.

Throughout everything that my boy has been through he has been there for me when I need support. I know that all my boys love and care about me. This young man just gets me. Maybe it is the many many hours we have spent talking things through. All the time I have supported him. It doesn’t matter what the situation he can vocalise my thoughts and feelings as though he can see inside my head. I will and do do anything I can to make his life better for him.

A few days ago I told him that I am lucky to have him in my life. His reply…

“We are all so lucky to have you in our life. We could never neglect you or allow anything to happen to you without the best care we can give.”

How could I not love this young man. I am so proud to be his mother.

Happy birthday sweetheart. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow. Enjoy your evening with your friends.

Here’s to a great future for my lovely son

Lots of love Mum xxxx

Joe

Early days of motherhood

I have been reading a book about a ‘Mummy Blogger’. In this book an aspiring writer is thrown into motherhood sooner than she was prepared for with the early birth of her daughter. She begins writing a blog about life with her new daughter. I have reached a chapter where she describes being incredibly lonely once the first visits from family and friends have dwindled and her husband is back at work. She spends a lot of time speaking to her husband on the phone whilst he is meant to be working.

Reading this has got me thinking about what it was like for me as a new mother for the first time. I had moved from Kent to Hampshire and was staying with my parents for the first few months. My father was commuting weekly between Hampshire and Kent for work. The father of my baby had been made redundant from his job. He hadn’t decided until my son was born whether he wanted to be a father. He was splitting his time between Kent and Hampshire until he found a job in Hampshire. I was alone all day Monday to Friday while everyone else was working. I didn’t know anyone locally, I didn’t have access to my own friends. This was in the days before mobile phones and even the internet . My days were revolved around my little baby boy. He was one of those babies that doesn’t want to sleep.

When he was 4 months old the three of us moved into a bungalow about 5 miles from my parents’ house. If I thought I was lonely before the loneliness was about to increase a notch. Now I found myself living in an old farm house with no neighbours. We had fields on two sides, woods on the other side and a Household Waste site across the road. My only access to a phone was the Public Telephone five minute walk away. I had no transport as my son’s father was using it for work. At least I had had my mum to talk to in the evenings and weekends before but on the plus side I didn’t need to worry about my baby crying now. I was the only one who heard him now.

Life did improve when I started working in a local DIY store down the road at weekends. My baby would be with his dad and I would be with other adults. I made a couple of friends who also had young children/babies. I’m trying to search my memory (this was 31 years ago). Both these women lived at the other side of the large village/small town. I walked everywhere in those days but I don’t think I would have walked that far. Maybe I did. More likely they came to visit me more often. Later in my son’s life I had the use of a car so I could drive everywhere but by then we had moved again to another village 3 miles from my parents’ in the opposite direction.

This little boy of mine now has a two month old daughter with his fiance. Although they also moved shortly before the birth of their daughter, life is very different now. Contact with family and friends however far or near is at the click of a button. With the wide use of digital photography and mobile phones I am able to watch the progress of my granddaughter (and my 18 month grandson in London) from a distance.

What are your memories of those early days of parenthood?

What they don’t tell you

As I have said before as in my last post, in 2001 I was diagnosed with stage III cervical cancer. In September (just a week or so after 9/11) I was given the all clear. My treatment had been successful. Yippee, hurray, I got my life back. I remember one of my boys saying “I’ve got my mummy back”. It was a time to celebrate.

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What they didn’t tell me (I was told a few people have long term bowl/bladder problems). I would from then on be terrified of food that I had always loved. I look at the fruit bowl with longing. Grannie smith apples beckon to me with their glistening green peel. Crisp pears appeal to me. Peanuts and Cashews tempt me. In short anything with fibre is dangerous to me. Last week I treated myself to a small handfull of dried fruit in the evening. I woke up in agony and had to rush to the toilet not quite getting there in time.

I can and do occasionally eat small amounts of the foods I desire but fear. I have to plan when I can eat these things ie when I don’t expect to be out of the house for long the next day. Going for long walks are a thing of the past unfortunately. Apart from the time the activity makes my bowels work harder.

As I talked about in my last post ” the cost of surviving cancer” my bladder is badly damaged and I am now awaiting major surgery to make my life better. However over the last 18 years although my bladder has been a problem it has been my bowels that have made my life so difficult. It is only the last year that my bladder has over taken my bowel problems.

This doesn’t mean that my bowel problems have become less annoying. For 18 months until this April I was delivering parcels for a living. Not the best career for someone with my problems. I would be working when I would get a feeling and have to make a mad dash either home or to the nearest place where I could use the public toilets. I didn’t always get there in time even though it might have only taken me 5 minutes. Many times I only get seconds let alone minutes notice that my body is about to eject it’s contents. I can’t begin to count the number of times that I have needed to get completely changed and showered. During the years I worked in an office there were times I had to dash home to get cleaned up.

I love to wear pretty clothes, skirts, dresses, bright colours. I have had to learn to wear clothes that are dark (black or navy trousers) long tops that camoflage any accidents that may occur.

I wonder how many women would think twice about not being tested for cervical cancer if they knew that apart from the treatment which can be harrowing. If they knew that their reluctance to under go the indignity of a smear test could lead to a life like mine.

During the months of treatment there are rules that have to be adhered to. There are reasons for these seemingly odd rules. When I attended my first radiotherapy session (following weeks of tests measurements, scans etc) I was given a list of foods I couldn’t eat. Basically I could only eat food that is generally considered to be unhealthy. I still keep to this diet now because my body gives me no choice. I couldn’t wear perfume. Showers were out. Baths had to be luke warm and no bath oil or bubbles. How disconcerting to be laying in a luke warm bath with nothing to hide the floating hair. I didn’t lose the hair on my head as I didn’t have chemo, but the hair on my body.

How many women would willingly put themselves through all this for the sake of a five minute appointment if they knew what they were letting themselves in for.

I know I am lucky to be alive, others didn’t make it, however I wouldn’t wish anyone to live this way if they can avoid it.

Granny

Yesterday my son and his fiancee came for lunch, I hadn’t seen them for months (they live in London). Now that I am living with my mother that will change. This couple who so clearly love each other very much are going to make me into a Granny for the first time in a few months time. They are growing a grandson for me to cherish.

I have been asked to make a patchwork quilt for the little one. I have been gathering fabric for this project. The last time I did anything like this was for my youngest child who is now 22.

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I don’t have access to a sewing machine so just like the previous one every stitch will be made with love.

New Day, New Year

Well here we are, another New Year. 2018 has started. We saw the New Year in by watching the fabulous display of fireworks from The London Eye. The display was great to watch but I couldn’t help wondering how many millions went into putting on this lavish display? It’s great that our country can put on such a display to mark the ending of one year and the start of the new one.

Am I the only person who thinks maybe that money could have gone to better use.

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A haven of mauve

It has taken months of planning, then forgetting then more planning but today we did it. We finally got there. I had planned to be slightly early but after going out delivering catalogues for an hour, which turned into 75 minutes, I had arrived home, beetroot coloured, my hair a tangled mess from being blown about in the light breeze, my legs quivering from the walking around roads that are anything but flat, lugging a very heavy trolley behind me. Today’s catalogue packs were thick and heavy, giving a very satisfying thud as they landed, having been pushed through the many letterboxes.

A quick freshen up and I was ready to leave, still glowing from my earlier exertions, I drove with the windows down, confident that I would have cooled down by the time I arrived. It didn’t take long to get there, we had chosen our venue so that none of us had too far to travel. Having found a shaded parking space I found my way to the coffee shop. I was neither first nor last to arrive.

I was immediately struck with delight at the pleasant surroundings, the black and purple tables and chairs were unusual but I liked them.

IMG_1581 Once we were all assembled, sandwiches and drinks purchased we found a table outside. The tables were painted mauve with purple parasols. My companions are both intelligent clever, fun, women whom I have come to enjoy chatting to online as well as face to face. We share a sense of humour which has been evident in some of our conversations on facebook. Anyone else reading some of our posts must think we are a bunch of nutters. On this September Saturday lunchtime it wasn’t too busy, other people came and went. We chatted, for what felt like just a short time but in fact turned out to be a couple of hours, as they say ‘time flies when you are having fun’.

I enjoyed my time in the warm sunshine with birds singing in the background, butterflies and the occasional wasp flying by, the distant trickle of water from the nearby water features. The good company I was lucky to be sharing this time with. I guess that I can now say that we were ‘Ladies that lunch’. That has never been a part of my life before, hopefully we will now manage to make this a more regular event.

Thank you both for being such great company today.

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A Christmas visitor

Christmas morning began quietly. Owl had not got to bed until 5am (wrapping my presents apparently). Pug was still asleep and both Statto and Skater were at my mother’s due to arrive about 11am. I had a couple hours of peace to enjoy a cup of tea and catch up on my Christmas messages before everyone else appeared. Owl joined me for a while before going back to bed. He was still asleep when the rest of the family arrived.

Skater made bacon sandwiches for everyone, Statto wrote out his cooking plan for the dinner. This allowed a 20 minute window for present opening. I am sure this actually took nearer to an hour. I had some lovely gifts from various family members plus a few from friends. I was forbidden to take any photos of Statto and Skater working together to cook our Christmas dinner. The one downside to having my grown up sons cooking our meal is the debris that is left behind when they have cooked. But hey that is a small price to pay. The kitchen didn’t just look like a bomb site but a very steamed up bomb site. I opened up the sliding doors that lead to the garden.

The six of us sat down to a delicious meal, all the traditional components, except that Statto had added his own twists to the vegetables. Crackers were pulled, hats donned, a variety of topics discussed. We were just about to start clearing the table when I looked towards the kitchen door. To my astonishment I saw that we had an uninvited visitor in our kitchen.

IMG_2220 my lads piled into the kitchen to try to help him find his way out. This led to a flight into the extra room (after 2.5 years we still haven’t quite decided what to do with this room).IMG_2221Then it was back into the kitchen.IMG_2222It was then agreed that rather than keep chasing him around we would leave him to find his own way out which he did do eventually after hopping around the top of the kitchen cupboards.

Excitement over, the big clear up could begin. Dishwasher loaded, we could then sit down to a game of Pointless, which was one of my gifts from Owl. The game was nearing its last round when Prodigal and Model arrived, having spent the earlier part of the day with Model’s family. Team Mum and Pug were triumphant in the game with mum being the only contestant to get two yes that’s right two pointless  answers during the game. I wasn’t really smug about that, honest, well not much.

The evening was spent chatting, what I really liked was the fluidity of the evening, With the various family members moving around the room to chat, some of us at the table and some in the seating area with the tv on. Every few moments at least one person would move to a different place to chat to someone else.  I love the way that my four sons have grown up to be such good friends. They all enjoy each other’s company. The three eldest all work at the same place too (Statto full time employed, whilst Prodigal and Pug are both part time self employed to fit around their other activities ie Pug’s Uni and Prodigal’s band).

I enjoyed chatting to Model, I am sure this is the longest chat we have ever had even though she and Prodigal have been together for nearly 11 years. I have always liked her but we just don’t get the opportunity to spend much time together. Hopefully this will improve, I am looking forward to visiting them in their London flat at some time in the not too distant future. By the time they departed to take my dear mother home it was rather chilly out side and a frost had already begun.

So that is another Christmas day ended and another year of blogging completed. I can’t believe it was two years ago that I began this blog. There have been a lot of ups and downs during these two years many record here but others not. I wonder what the next year will hold in store for me and my family and friends.

Did you all enjoy your Christmas day and did any of you have anything unexpected happen?

Age, we all have one or two

I am not well, nothing serious just a common cold but it is miserable. I was up coughing/nose blowing every 10 minutes sometimes 20 minutes throughout the night. My nose is red from all the tissues that have been wrapped around it as the hours crept by. Finally I slept for an hour until about 10am. Waking up, I came to the realisation that today is November 13th. My youngest brother was born in  the early hours of November 13 1964.

We are not friends on facebook but I endeavoured to leave him a birthday wish. For which he thanked me saying that he is finding it hard to get his head around being 50. It has come as something of a shock to me that the youngest of our mother’s children is now 50. There are three of us, myself the eldest and my two brothers. It’s funny but I always think of myself as still being 17. similarly my youngest brother will always be 12 in my mind, yet our middle brother has always been the age he is at the time. He is not stuck in the past in my mind.

I remember once my mother was telling me that she had been asked about her children and it had been a hard realisation that all three of us were over 30. I wonder how she feels to now have 3 three children in our 50s.

My mother is now in her 70’s, but apart from her mobility problems following various knee ops adding to her MS problems, to me she is still in her 50s. She is still the same person she was when I was a young mother of 4 boys.

Much to his disgust Owl turned 60 earlier in the year, but although I know how old he is I have to remind myself that he is not a young man. His health and fitness at the moment are probably the best they have been since I first met him. I look at him and see this man with a good head of dark brown hair. You have to look really closely to see that he does have perhaps a dozen grey hairs on his head. This of course adds to the illusion of youth, that and that I can’t believe I am married to a man near to retirement age. Especially when the toddler behaviour surfaces from time to time (less frequent now than a year ago).

I guess having a semi retired husband is a constant reminder to me that I am getting older myself. I am not the young girl that my head thinks I am.

Happy 50th birthday little brother.