We need to remember what Livvy taught us.

I worry we are forgetting, not about Olivia herself but all that she taught us.

I can still see her in my mind clear as yesterday. Her blond hair that twirled between my fingers. Her cute mouth and the way it did it’s little Elvis curl.

I can hear her giggle at the silly things or the most incorrect moments.

Her teasing way towards her sisters, her daddy.

I can see it all and I’m so thankful for this but what she taught us is slipping through my fingers, through her Daddies fingers.

To make the moments matter.

This was what Livvy taught us, on the day of her diagnosis we realised that we didn’t have forever so we needed to focus, needed to revalue and we needed to make the moments matter.

We were never going to be wealthy enough for amazing trips but Livvy didn’t care less where she was as long as there was laughter in the air.

Give her a sea shore and splashing waves and she was content.

Give her a battered roe and couple of your chips and she was happy.

Give her your arms to snuggle in and she was in her moment.

Life has become a little forgetful as of late. The normal is invading into our moments a little more than I like. Laughter feels rationed and magical moments are becoming less.

I know we cannot live in a permanent state of magic but we do need a reminder of what Livvy taught us.

Daniel needs us to remember.

Yes money is tight and that always adds the extra weight upon anyone’s shoulders but money does not equate happiness and it doesn’t bring guarantees.

I want to remember the moments we shared.

I want to create new moments for Daniel.

Tropical hurricanes aside I want magical moments again. I want to laugh until I cannot breathe, dance in the rain, drink tea with friends whilst the night sky entertains us with star dances.

I want to throw Daniel into moments the Drs never imagined for him, defy odds and breathe life in deeply.

I want to remember what Livvy taught us and make her proud by being her best student.

I don’t want to forget, we all need not to forget.

Life is for living,

Living like Livvy.

I wish I had been there.

I read a post the other day describing the days of a premature baby in a neonatal unit and my heart broke. Not because Daniel was born at 26 weeks because my little fighter survived, but because I wasn’t by his side through it all.

How crazy is this that I’m torn inside by a grief, a guilt for a time I didn’t know. For a time when I didn’t know my boy. The idea of him facing what he did without me by his side breaks my heart.

The whole time before he came my son is one I cannot focus on. I cannot bare to think of the symphony of emotions he had to face alone.

I have read his medical file and my heart just tears, 26 operations before we met him. 26 anaesthetics, 26 procedures, 26 times I wasn’t by his side holding his hand.

I know it’s crazy and deep down I know it’s not my fault and I do just have to have trust in the journey but I honesty wish he hadn’t had to face one step without me.

I get frustrated when people tell me that he shouldn’t be as clingy as he is. I honestly ask them to walk his pathway and see if you didn’t want to hold on tight.

When the world has been full of procedures and strangers. Pain and suffering. When you cannot see who is picking you up tell me you wouldn’t hold on tight to the one you know, the ones whose arms to trust.

I’m so proud of this clingy I want my mom stage, because this means he knows I am always there. That in my arms he is safe.

I adore the way that when he is ill he only wants me it’s further testimony to our bond.

Mother and son.

I cannot change the past and that’s something I do have to let go. I’m just so thankful that he came to us and that his heart fitted perfectly inside mine.

The future isn’t mine to see and I will not make promises that I cannot guarantee but what I do know is that why my heart still beats I will be by his side, whenever he needs me that’s a promise.

Celebrating the gift of motherhood.

Mother’s day is a day of celebration, a day where we honour the bond of a mother and a child. The period of time you are a mother is irrelevant. Physical birthing isn’t a necessary. Motherhood is about loving someone more than yourself. Living and breathing for their dreams to come true.

I adore being a mother, from the moment I knew I was carrying my first child in my womb my heart has loved hard. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve messed up and I’m sure I still will but my children are my life, my world.

One of the hardest things I have faced as a mom is letting go, watching my children grow and flourish and become Independant and assured. Seeing them bravely love, suffer, face heartache and rejection. The overwhelming urge to take them away from painful situations, to stop them before they try. Yet as a mom I’ve had to let them be, to live is to learn.

I am a mom to four amazing daughters and one handsome son, each one so beautiful and incredible in their own right. Individual with their own needs, wishes and dreams.

My dearest Livvy is in heaven and whilst the veil of this lifetime separates us physically now. No time, space or worlds can separate the love of this Mom from her daughter. My soul craves for my girl, my arms ache to hold her. My heart will be forever missing a piece, beating with a broken melody.

Yet I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Mother’s Day is a celebration and I have a lot to be thankful for. So I’m going to hold on tight to the memories, run forward widely into the future with the knowledge that the greatest role I get to live, is that of a mother.

How blessed am I?

A date I didn’t want in my diary.

When your child is born your mind is full of the moments that are coming. The special dates that will fill your calendar. You start planning for the celebrations, their first birthday, their christening, their first day at school. Your mind races forward into their future, will they fall in love, will they be happy? So many will they be’s just as it should be, yet no parents expects to add, when will I lose them? How do you add how to plan their funeral to this future planning list?

Yet when your child is born with complex needs these thoughts invade your mind even when you try hard not to allow them. You live in a constant battle between hope and fear.

When we were told by Livvy’s consultant that he couldn’t promise us forever our minds went to places no parent should ever have to go.

When we lost her, another date appeared in our diary. Not one of celebration but one of brokenness.

We do mark the day we lost Livvy yet I know others that don’t, they don’t want to dwell on the day they lost their child and I get that. Yet for me personally it would always be the elephant in the room, the day my heart broke into pieces.

We take Livvy flowers and decorate her grave, not in celebration but in appreciation. Thankful for the gift of being her Mama, for the wonderful nine and half years she blessed this world.

It may seem strange to some but the day we lost her is a day I have to acknowledge, an anniversary I have to remember. I have to allow my heart the space to break and my mind to grieve. It’s a day where I can admit that life sucks without her and I’m still annoyed the world keeps on turning.

It’s also a day where I remind myself how lucky I was to have her and how my journey isn’t finished. It’s a day I love harder on her sisters, her new brother and of course her Daddy. I hold on to the gift of life and the memories we have and those we have still to make. Make plans for magic moments to come. Places to visit, friends to hug.

Yet the only thing I can guarantee about this day is that I have no idea how I will feel and that’s perfectly ok. It’s a day I don’t have to enjoy, have to make special it’s a day I just have to be. To be whatever my heart needs it to be.

Whatever we need it to be x

Changing seasons

I’m not sure how I feel about change. I often find myself facing it begrudgingly. It’s as if I’m scared of rocking the boat, effecting the status quo. I’m so scared at times that I delay what needs to be done rather than put things outside of my control. Yet I’m usually the one telling others to reach for the adventure, push the boundaries, embrace the excitement.

Blooming hypocritical me.

November has been a month of major changes for me. My foster son has moved on after nearly eight years with us. I’m so excited for him and the move is so positive for all of us but it’s a change and I’m so lousy at change. It’s ironic saying this because as a foster carer your life can and does change over night. New placements join your family, some move on and it’s an every changing profession. I know this but it’s never easy. Even when the move is positive and families are reunited or forever families are found there is a semblance of loss that tears at your heart.

Yes you can see how you have impacted a child’s life. How you have been security in an insecure time. Your heart can be full and empty simultaneously. I worry if others will love upon them like I do, keep up to date with appointments, remember their favourite foods or the way they like to dress. It’s not that I believe others cannot love like me it’s just it’s hard to trust and hand over these special hearts.

Yet for us all there are seasons in life and as Autumn gives way to Winter I need to embrace the future and our new season. Excitement for the coming holiday and preparation for the next stage of our journey.

I know what is loved is never lost.

Who knows what the future holds for us as a family?

Who new may join our merry tribe?

What I do know is that whilst change is scary for me it is also exciting. A little flame is building in my heart for our next adventure, wherever, whoever that may be.

Not a thing

I know people mean well but sometimes I want to scream “shut the heck up. “

Only the other day I was having a conversation with someone who I have known for a while. I won’t say we are friends but we chat when we bump into each other. In fact sitting here now I cannot actually remember how we met but anyway hey ho I digress. Me digress what a shocker.

Anyhow we were chatting as you do when she turned to me and said “ I don’t know how you do it, I don’t know why you do it” then the clanger “you have to give up so much”.

Now before I seem like a complete bitch I know she meant no harm but the “it” she was talking about was fostering, adoption and ultimately Daniel.

Yet you see adoption isn’t a thing.

It’s a heart, a heart that you are promising to love, care and protect for a lifetime. It’s a web of emotions, a tangle of heartbreaks and brokenness that you have committed to hold in your arms and whisper I love you’s to.

It’s a gift, a blessing and hard work all rolled into one but it’s never about giving up it’s about getting so much more.

I know the questions was aimed at the special needs aspect of our adoption but Daniel isn’t his special needs, he is everything all squashed together into one adorable package.

I’m not going to pretend it isn’t hard at times it is but that’s ok, life was never promised to be a bed of roses.

When I met Daniel I didn’t see a list of conditions, it wasn’t the pages of hospital notes that won my heart, it was the way his tiny hand gripped my finger. Not opening his eyes or turning towards me just holding my finger tight.

My heart just opened and he jumped right inside, right then, right there.

He had my heart.

I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I truly believe that the best things in life aren’t.

I know my friend didn’t mean harm and I wasn’t offended but this is something we have come across so many times. People telling Alan and I how amazing we are caring for such complex children. How lucky the children are.

Children in foster care aren’t lucky that they have a new home. Their hearts are broken and their souls sore. What they knew is gone and even if it wasn’t the best of experiences as they often aren’t It was what they knew, their normal.

Children who get adopted aren’t lucky, the parents who now get to call them their child are the lucky ones.

My girls, Alan and I, we know we are fortunate , we are wonderfully lucky that we get to love upon children that need it. We get to open our hearts and our home to children who need us. We get to love, care and cherish.

How incredible is this?

As for Daniel I haven’t given up anything to be his mama, I have been incredibly blessed that I get to call this wonderful little boy my son.

My heart, my boy.

How is it October already ?

I have been reflecting about this last year and cannot actually get my head around what an incredible year 2016 has been so far. Of course the highlight has to be the decision to adopt my little one he has brought such a light into my life I cannot find the words to convey what a gift he has been. My friend described me as “radiating joy” the other day and I think she may be right I am so happy and so content at having another in my heart. Being back at toddler stage is very different now than it was ten years ago but I am loving every minute of it. I mean just the wide range of clothes out there now is enough to send your head into a spin. 

Yet besides this major change in my life I have seriously took this year by the horns and literally made the most of every second. I know this because right now my body may ache with exhaustion (whoops). 

I have stepped out my comfort zone in so many ways. Learning and participating in politics, attending and speaking at the Labour conference and getting involved in the local campaigns has been brain aching but also so fulfilling. I am actually scaring myself with how much I really enjoy this arena and the people I have gotten to meet and I am excited to learn and develop more.

I have also completed my degree and actually graduate this week, how exciting is this a childhood dream finally coming true. 

Still I think my real steps forward have been in friendship. Over the last few months I have said yes to invitations. Said yes to group meals, coffee mornings and lunch dates. A dear friend of mine told me that “I was scared of friendship” and she was so right I wrote here often about my desire for deeper truer friendships but the truth was I was hiding. Pulling away from any situation that required me to be open and vulnerable but her call out challenged me to say yes to being vulnerable and exposed and I’m loving every minute of it. I’m still a work in progress but honestly I am so grateful for those that haven’t given up on me. 

2016 has been an emotional rollercoaster I have laughed and I have cried and it’s only October but to describe 2016 I would simply have to say “it’s the year I began to live fully’. No more holding back, I’m loving life right now and yes it isn’t easy at times but isn’t that what makes it more worthwhile. The achievements, the moments.

I cannot believe Christmas is only a few months away, this year does seem to have flown by. Yet I am happy to hold on to 2016 a little longer it’s been a very special year.  

Inspire or destroy?

Last week I was lucky enough to get to listen to the inspirational Nick Barwick. Nick is a motivational speaker who came to a fostering meeting to share his experiences as a care leaver. His story is incredible, he has faced adversity, pain and suffering throughout his life but still found the strength and courage to achieve his dreams, he defied the odds and he overcame.

Nick is passionate about sharing his story, he wants the success stories of life to be shared. We need our children to have hope, that if they are struggling and finding life a struggle they can remember that where they are right now is not where they need to end. This is doubly important for all children within the looked after system, they especially need the reminder that there is Hope in this world.

I took an awful lot away with me after listening to Nick speak, but what has been twirling around in my head since I left the meeting was the impact of ‘words.’

Let me explain a little, as Nick was sharing his story he spoke about being told by some professional in his life that he would not achieve, academically, financially and emotionally, and how these words for a long time became a self fulfilling prophecy for him.

How the words spoken to him became the words he spoke to himself.

Words have power!

They can inspire but also they can destroy.

words

Hearing Nick’s story just hit home how important our words are,

How as Mother’s, as fathers, as teachers, carers, our words have an impact on hearts.

How as a friend, a wife, a sister I need to use my words wisely.

How often have we let words spoken to us bury deep in our hearts?

How what may have been a passing comment has be able to consume our minds.

Someone else’s opinion become our truth.

I know I can look back in my life and raise my hand numerous times for when words spoken in hate became my reality.

“You won’t pass it.”

“I wouldn’t even bother’

“You are not good enough”

“Who would love you?”

How I let these lines of letters sink deep into my heart like an anchor dropped into the ocean, dropping slowing until they find a place to settle and hold, hold on tight.

How I  have allowed hurtful words to crawl under my skin until I believed them completely, burying under my skin into my blood to pump through my veins, straight to my heart.

Burrowing deep until I owed them as my truth.

Thankfully like Nick I had someone in my life who challenged me to question these words. To remind me that my future was mine to create.

That it was up to me to write my own story. 

story-of-your-life

I’m still a work in progress, my story has many chapters left to write.

I’m still learning to throw away the words that hurt, to erase the words that are wrong and untrue.

To protect myself from words that do not inspire or encourage.

I’m creating my own vocabulary and as I do this I hope to create another for my children.

I want their story to be one of adventure, excitement and hope but what I want most of all is that the biggest chapter that they write will always be one filled with love.

I pray that story is one of knowing, knowing how loved they are. 

What defines you!

If you were to read about my past in script form you would be forgiven for thinking that this may have been a script for a television drama or more likely a soap opera.

It’s a story full of pain, loss and at times anger.

Yet it is my life and right now I am walking a journey which is laying it completely open and completely bare and its hard. It fact it’s blooming painful, yet in the midst of the tears of which there has been plenty I have actually found myself feeling a strength that is holding me all in place. In fact it must have the wire that has held me together through this life’s journey.

My faith in myself.

DSC_0147

 

I cannot go back and change the past. In fact I’m not sure I would ,as everything that has happened has formed me into the person I am right now and I actually rather like who I am.

We all have pathways to walk and as human beings we will make mistakes, we mess up and at times we completely screw up but its how we move forward that defines us. How we learn from experiences and how we grow.

 

My life may have been messy, but it has challenged me to see beyond the barriers. I love with all my heart, I believe in people with all my soul and most of all I have hope. Hope that with love and empathy this world can and will be a better place.

 

So if right now like me you are feeling scared and vulnerable keep pushing forward because you may not realise it, but these moments, these challenges may be the moments that define who you really are.

Freedom at forty 

Wow it’s official today I am forty years old. I know I should be freaking out moaning about the wrinkles but to be perfectly honest I love it. I am celebrating not just the coming of a milestone age but also the freedom in who I am.

  

Finally at forty I am comfortable in my own skin. I know the direction of my life and I’m content and fulfilled. 

I am celebrating more than 40 years on this earth. I am recognising my struggles, my heartbreaks, my relationships and the way they have all shaped me into the person I am today. 

  

I am looking back and seeing the many blessings I have had in my life. Celebrating my beautiful girls, my handsome boys, my wonderful husband.

I am grateful for the friendships that I’ve had, those that have stood the test of time and those that were brief but valuable. 

I can look back and see the life’s lessons I have had to learn. Some I got quickly some which took a little longer, all had value, all had purpose. 

I’m excited about the coming years, excited to embrace all the future has for me. 

I’m moving into my 40’s determined and head first. 

I’ve learned a lot over the last 4 decades and I’m hoping I will take this knowledge forward into new experiences and new memory making moments. I’m hoping that older may mean wiser but hey you know me. Heart first and the head a little later. 

So today Happy birthday to me, thank you to all the family and friends who have walked alongside me. Thank you for the memories and the moments and here’s to many many more. Bring on the next 40.