A trashy soap opera.

I was once told that my life was like a trashy soap opera that I was full of drama. I remember the conversation vividly, at the time my daughter’s diagnosis was official and I held the letter in my hand and on that same day I had also received a call to tell me my Nan had died. 

The literal definition of a day from hell. 

It was a defining moment for me as I realised at the that point that my pain was my own. That others could not or would not understand it.  I felt ashamed for being a burden for bringing others down and for basically existing. It was the reinforcement of what I had always believed of myself, I was broken, I was drama, I was too much. 

You see this was the narrative I had been taught, my emotions were my enemy, my empathy my foe and my heart well it was too emotional and too much. 

How I wish I knew then what I know now. How I wish I could have just put the phone down on that call or even challenged the uncaring, unthinking compassionless attitude of the caller. How could a so-called friend see a life -threatening diagnosis and the death of a grandparent as a soap opera? 

I mean how? 

I have worked hard over the last few years, I’ve had to challenge the nurtured narrative of my life that “I am too much” into a more truthful one of “I am”. 

I am a human being that deserves to exist, I am a woman who has faced heartbreak and loved hard enough to feel the pain. I am strong, I am powerful and I am a survivor. 

My life has faced tragedy, pain and loss but I am lucky that I got to experience a life of emotion. To grieve means I have loved, to have lost meant I have cared. 

Yet people are still so quick to judge others, only yesterday a conversation with a friend broke my heart. She is facing a tough time right now but feels she cannot be honest about how hard it is for fear of people thinking she cannot cope. As if feeling fear, exhaustion was a crime. I find it ironic that when someone has a physically demanding job their exhaustion is allowed, it’s ok, it’s understandable and often respected. Yet when people are emotionally weary they are judged “you need to pull it together, stop thinking about it, you need to be stronger”.  A world where those emotionally struggling are seen as weak.

We need to show compassion not judgement.

You see instead of calling my life a trashy soap opera my friend should have been a place where I could admit how my heart ached for my Nan and how the fear of the future for Livvy my daughter was often overwhelming and she should have told me how proud she was that I still showed up. That in the midst of this emotional tornado I was still fighting to give my girls the best life I could.

She should have loved me through it. 

Loved me in it and through it. 

You see, the British stiff upper lip crap needs to end. People need to feel free to say that today is hard. People need to support others where they are rather than where they feel they should be. A end needs a beginning and a middle before it is reached. 

Emotions are messy, they are often uncomfortable and can be hard work, but they are what makes us human. We should never have to hide our hearts. What I know now is that I need to surround myself with people who love me for my heart.

So if like me you often find yourself apologing for your heart stop, find your people, find those that love you as you are, find your tribe. It’s not about  changing to fit in, you cannot live a lie. You don’t need to be anyone but you. 

Be you, be proud, cry, scream and love hard, because you are beautifully and wonderfully made. 

It’s not ok that our children died.

Often when we face a loss in our community of special needs parenting, our hearts break alongside those facing the pain. We emphasise with the anger and missing we feel the disbelief and sadness. Myself personally I ache for the pain I know those left behind will feel. Each new loss reopening a wound that is far from healed.

Yet one of the things I still do not understand about loss in the disability community is that from those outside of it, is the feeling that somehow it’s acceptable. That in some way it is less. The concept that a life lived with a disability is not as full as one without.

There is no denying that being part of the special needs community we face loss maybe more than most, the wider our community the wider amount of pain. But that’s our life, we choose to walk alongside one another through the good and the bad. We celebrate the achievements and too often we have to grieve the loss.

Yet often those outside the community do not understand our journey and more often than I would like, do not understand our joy.

Statements like “oh well she had been poorly for a while” “sometimes it’s for the best” or my favourite (irony) “God knows best”.

When Livvy died she had a devastating neurological condition. Her body faced so many obstacles, seizures, abnormal breathing, sometimes uncontrollable movements. Yes, to list her conditions it may seem dire. Yet what the reality was that yes she had this list of issues but what she also had was a life filled with love and laughter. She had a family that adored her, she had parents she wrapped around her fingers. Sisters she teased and played with. Teachers she adored, friends she loved. Her life was full of joy and mischief. She was not her list of conditions. Yet still when I speak of my missing, people speak of her with pity. When I speak of her loss, people speak with acceptance, as if her disability makes her death more ok.

Whilst I know this attitude is meant with kindness I need to share that it’s not. When someone who has a disability dies it’s not ok, it’s not even a little ok. It’s a heartbreaking, soul destroying grief.

You see people are not their disabilities they are simply people. A child with disabilities is simply a child.

So I beg of people, I ask desperately that when dealing with a grieving mother, a broken father a missing family, that before you speak of freedom from pain, limited lives or God’s choices, STOP. Whilst the lives lost may have seemed hard to you, or the disabilities overwhelming those grieving see the little boy whose eyes twinkled as he looked at them. The little girl whose smile lit up the room, their son, daughter, sister, brother. We don’t grieve the disability, we grieve the one we loved and their disability wasn’t what defined them. Our pain is not less and their death is not and never will be acceptable.

Mother’s Day love

Mother’s Day, a day where we come together to celebrate all things that are Mom in whatever form that comes, stepmoms, adopted moms, grandparents being mom and so many more.

Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world. The exhaustion of pregnancy, the labour of delivery, feeding, sleepless nights and so much more but yet it’s often the most rewarding role we will ever get to hold.

It’s tough and this last year has been a real struggle , ‘wow’ is pretty much all I can say about the last 12 months. From home schooling to the deep pit of fear that has been in your stomach since the words Covid 19 were first spoken, it’s been a year.

Still if I wish to challenge all moms a little now in fact probably all parents regardless of gender. What do you think is the one thing that is the hardest to cope with when being a parent?

Exhaustion, worry, finances,

Shall I share what I have placed on my heart this week. What God has wanted me to share with you all.

The hardest thing about being a parent

Expectations

These pesky little things that penetrate our minds and hearts.

I should be

I could be

If only

All turn into

I failed

I’m useless

I’m letting them down.

Now I’m coming to you as a mom of a five so a little experience here and also as professional of therapeutic childcare and I just want to state something here and I really want you to hear me.

You are enough

You are enough.

Our children enter this world with only a few needs, to be fed, to be warm and to be loved. Speaking confidently right now I am sure that each of your children are having those needs met. They are either grown and off living lives that you have encouraged and nurtured. They also could be there in your arms snuggling tight or even kicking out in your precious womb. They could be causing complete mayhem running around the house but all done in the knowledge that ‘they are loved’.

You are enough.

Yet we only have to look back the last 12 months and the changes this virus has brought into our lives. Homeschooling, isolation, exhaustion, fear. How many of use have felt lost, that they are failing?

My hands are right up in the air, me me.

I have watched social media posts of moms with beautiful converted classrooms with their children willingly working away. Houses spotless, make up perfect and I’ve literally cried. I have cried as Daniels homeschooling paperwork fell off the printer for the 15th time, cried as he completely ignored me as I tried to encourage him to work, sobbed at the state of my house and as for being perfectly made up, well I’ve had a shower and I’m saying Amen to that.

You see I couldn’t reach the expectations I had put upon myself and that’s ok. Because Covid 19 or not, being a mom is hard.

We mess up, we lose our temper and we suck at patience some days. Because motherhood didn’t come with super hero powers just the responsibility.

Anyway where am I going with this, well I’m leading to something I have personally took a long time to learn.

You don’t have to do this life alone.

As friends and family we are there to walk alongside one another. Reach out to friends, not only those at your stage at life. We have a wide breathe of generational wisdom to tap into.

But most importantly

Reach up, reach out to Jesus and ask him to walk alongside you. Ask for wisdom, hope and a big one for me, for patience.

Ask him to free you from the lies of the enemy that you are not enough. Free you from the untruth binding of expectations. To be beside you as you raise the next generation and to guide you as you walk this pathway of parenthood.

I ask you to look now at your child or if they are not with you bring them into your mind. As your heart swells of the love you feel for them as the love you have warms you to your very core, I want you remember.

I want you to remember

“We love because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:19

He loved us first,

He loved us first.

Remember that Jesus loves us as we love our children, that warmth you feel for your children he feels for you. He loves you to your very core.

and I want you to say this loud

“we are enough. “

I am enough.

Dancing in the colours of my mind.

Have you ever closed your eyes tight so you can watch the colours as they dance across your minds eye? As a child I used to love doing this, escape into a world of colour.

My imagination was my happy place, somewhere I could be part of a world I created, a world that made sense because this planet we call earth never really felt like home.

Once I remember reading a book about cuckoo birds and was sure like their eggs I have been born into the wrong nest.

It’s a strange feeling seeing yourself in the features of those around you but not feeling connected in your heart.

Was I strange, am I strange, I guess both statements are open to arguement.

What I’ve realised as a mother is that being related does not mean that you are alike. I have birthed four amazing beautiful girls and whilst values and love for each other is similar their personalities could be no further from different, one outgoing, another reserved, one loves to learn, another loves to do. Each so creative and beautifully unique in these own special way. I celebrate this about them, so what cannot I not celebrate this about myself?

For a long time I felt that I could only be true in my imagination, that here in the real world I would have to play a part, a character created for me not by me.

Yet as I’ve grown and got older I’m finally beginning to spend time allowing the me from my imagination enter the me from the real world.

I’ve realised that to live truthfully you have to be true to yourself. You are not being fair to others if you pretend to be what you think they wish you to be.

Falseness brings hollowness.

This time in isolation right now has been hard for me as I’m sure it has for many others. Not being able to hide means that your heart has to shine out.

I’m learning so much about myself and about others. Those that truly value your connection and those that dont. Do I fit a need or a want? Was I a use or a heart to hold?.

This isolation time has illuminated so many things I was trying to hide from. But as much as I love my imagination, hiding from the pain in the multitude of dancing colours is still hiding.

Like so many others I am desperate for the lockdown to come to an end. For the world to feel safe again. Yet I dont want the world, my world to return to normal. I want to understand more about myself, to truly know my own heart. I want celebrate the true connections that have held and to truly allow myself to live my imagination in my real life, a life full of beautiful dancing colour.

Dear Social media users

Dear Social Media Users

The power we have at our fingertips should be used wisely. Our words now hold so much more force than ever before. The whispers between friends are now being shared across the globe, gone is the ears of few now to the ears of millions.

Growing up I was lucky to have a wise grandad who once told me “don’t say what you wouldn’t want sharing across a room”. I don’t think he had in mind the expanse of the social media reach but I do feel the concept, the sentiment is the same.

If we realise that nothing we share on these platforms is private maybe then we will less quick to press post, less willing to share.

I sometimes wonder if it’s a good thing, the way a persons innermost thoughts are now shared so widely. How opinions that have been in the shadows are now out in the open.

I worry about the influences on our youth, the perceptions they take as reality leaving them feeling inadequate, not enough.

The cultivation of hate, the rise of right wing hate, religious hateful ideology and the vicious muck spreading of lies. All finding itself a wider audience thanks to the power of virtual connection.

Yet still I don’t hate social media, I really don’t.

It has brought into my life some amazing people. People I wouldn’t have come across in my lifetime, separated by distance or just circumstances . It’s been an incredible resource on my late daughters disability and now my son’s. I’m learning, I have learnt more than I could have imagined most that I would have never have known without this source of knowledge.

It has created communities of support, raised awareness and reached out and brought love to those in need.

But personally I think it has come to a point that we now need to be reminded of authenticity. Times gone by a journalist couldn’t publish a story without having the evidence to prove its claim yet we have only got to look at the press of the recent times to know that this is no longer the case. Smear campaigns, lies and pure fabricated hate is shared across many communication mediums.

I wonder when the ability to write any old rhetoric got confused with the freedom of speech?

I wonder when one person’s opinion became fact?

When one persons fear became hate?

Should we be policing the internet, to be honest I don’t know?

As a person in this country we do have a right to think the way we wish. What we don’t have though is the right to act upon it if it causes harm to another, if it’s malicious in its intent. If it’s to incite hate?

So maybe thats where the policing needs to be, cracking down on those who abuse this form of communication. Those who troll, bully and intimidate others. Those who spread lies and feed the evil of this world. Police those that exploit the vulnerable, predators of any nature to all to face charges of a harsh kind. Intimidation, abuse, torture of any kind physical or virtual should come with the same punishment, a hard one.

But beyond all of this we as people have an obligation to each other to remind ourselves that what we say can be heard beyond the room. That by the words we use, the posts we share we take a responsibility for the substance. We cannot say we did not know anymore, we did not realise.

Ignorance is no longer a defence.

Let’s use social media for the communication it should and can be, one of joy, one of upliftment and one of knowledge.

Be truthful and be kind.

Many thanks

Sara

Owning your truth

Have you felt that you are at the end of everything?

That you have reached the point of no return?

That’s exactly how I have felt these last weeks, my face aches from my fake smile and my heart aches for my truth.

Sometimes in life you don’t actually realise that you are living a lie, you have even managed to convince yourself of the pretense.

What do you do when you see the light? When finally, the sticky tape that has been holding you together gives up and reality all comes spilling out like a raging river.

What do you do?

I hope you weren’t hoping for me to have the answers, I actually have no idea.

What I do have is my first step.

No more bullsh*t, no more fake smiles, no more pretending.

If I start with truth, then maybe truth will be the guide I need for my next step.

I’m tired of being ok with things that are not ok, tired of other people assuming their opinions are my own. Tired of saying yes when I really want to say no, tired of just not being me.

I hate that I do this to myself, I encourage others to search for their truth when I’m not owning my own.

I hate being a people pleaser, there is a difference between wanting to support, guide and love on others than just bending to the will.

Seriously,I am simply my own worst enemy, biting my lip so hard it bleeds when I know I am entitled to my own opinion and my own wishes.

Why do I do this, why do so many of us do this as I know I am far from alone?

Have we become scared of being uncomfortable?

Have we just become accepting of settling?

Do we not deserve to live our lives fully and wholeheartedly?

 

I know I have changes to make, people that need to hear me. In fact, I’m sure that nearly everyone reading this wants something more in their lives.

So, join me and start taking back your own truth, start living your life fuller and wider.

Remember those that love you, but also remember that you must love yourself.

This life is a journey but its an one time deal, so make it the best you can, be true to you and others will know your truth to them.

No drama

I had a friend once, I use the term friend rather loosely now but then she was what I would class as dear to me. We had walked though a lot together and I assumed we would continue to do so.

Then when in the midst of Livvy’s regression I was crying down the phone to her when she uttered the words that have scarred my heart for such a long term “I swear your life is like a trashy soap opera, everything happens to you, or maybe you just like the drama”.

I remember the impact of these words as if it was yesterday. How anyone could believe that this was the journey of life I had wanted to take was beyond me but to accuse me of being dramatic hurt. In fact it hurt so much that I shut down, I didn’t allow my feelings to show. I closed the door on that friendship and many others in fear of judgement.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I am in a place now where I am ready to own my own story. Ready to embrace what I have lived, not with echoes of shame but with pride.

Having a child who was born with a debiliatiting condition was hard but not knowing what it was and not expecting it was literally a nightmare. I cannot find the words to explain how painful it was to lose my daughter to Rett Syndrome, twice. Watching her eyes leave my face, her words disappear from my ears and her movements lost to the stereotypical.

To see the fear in her eyes as she screamed and screamed, crying out for me to rescue her. It broke me in inside, I cried out to God so often to heal her.

But he didn’t.

Yet slowly and surely he healed me.

I finally began to embrace the journey I was set upon, although it was very different from anything I could have ever imagined it was full of wonder and joy.

Joy, does that surprise you?

My daughter had a severe devastating condition, my son has a very complex disability but both of them loved, loves life in a way that brought, that brings me so much light.

It’s took me a long time to get to a place where I don’t apologise for what some see “as drama” in my life.

I have surrounded myself with people who get it or who try to understand it.

I have walked away from those who don’t or who don’t want to.

I can accept that some people cannot understand the life I lived or now the life I have chosen and that’s ok.

We are never going to be a typical family and I am embracing that, celebrating that.

Yes at times I am lonely and I do get sad at having to apologise for another missed get together, group activity or friendship meal.

But my children will always be my first priority, always my heart.

I don’t know if my friend understood the impact of her words or how they would change me inside. Maybe it was meant as a throw away comment that wasn’t supposed to find roots and bury itself deep.

Maybe it was my state of mind back then that fed and watered these seeds of deceit.

I don’t know and I actually don’t care.

Because I’m not that person anymore.

I cannot say that harsh words don’t still sting or dig deep in my heart, but they don’t get to stay and or get to take root anymore.

I am stronger than I have ever been.

I have faced the darkness of death and my memories, love brought me the light.

I face the suffocation of fear but my sons smile breathes air into my lungs.

My children are my world, they are the air that I need to breathe.

I am stronger for being their Mama.

My faith is stronger than my fear.

Writing when it hurts

Sometimes I get scared to write, scared to allow the truth to flow through my fingers. I preach about transparency and owning my truth yet at times my reality frightens the crap out of me.

Right now I feel on the edge of cliff I can see the rocks bouncing down the sides disappearing under the waves and I wonder how long this ridge will hold me. I can feel the erosion burning up inside of me, my will, my strength slowly crashing towards the water.

To say there is a lot going on in my life right now would be a massive understatement, the stress of exams on my girls has been worrying. Watching them tie up their hopes and dreams in pieces of paper is heartbreaking. Their value should not be decided by a cluster of standardised tests.

But this is the truth of life isn’t it?

We search for our own value in others judgements, others tests, others expectations.

I don’t want to do this anymore, I don’t wish to turn myself inside and out by the expectations my anxiety has created or those that don’t matter.

I cannot be all things to all people and cannot or will ever be perfect, yet i live each day berating myself for just this.

See this is maybe why I should have stayed quiet, yet a wise woman told me that truth can heal and that truth can set you free and that I needed to continue to write.

So here is my truth, the strive for perfection is an never ending quest, yet it also the biggest load of bull I have ever been told.  Perfection is a farce, something that can never be achieved, never be obtained. You see perfection comes with chains where truth comes with freedom.

Its ok for me to admit I am overwhelmed right now, to admit that anxiety is eroding my soul. That I want to run away from the world for a while or to simply just find some peace to calm my mind. It’s ok to admit I’m human, I hurt, I cry and at times I will break.

This is my truth.

Be true 

Transparency how I love this word, yes I may have mentioned this before but I just cannot help it, it actually may be one of my favourite words. I celebrate that what you see is what you get and I want that for me, I want that to be me. 

For a long time I have felt like I was living life at 60% hiding away for so long, hiding from my emotions being embarrassed by my empathetic nature. I am now finally embracing my transparency and loving life a hell of a lot more.

Does this get me into trouble ? At times maybe , but being open and honest matters, it’s allowing my soul the freedom that it sorely needs. 

I don’t want people in my life to not to know what I think of them, how much I love, cherish and admire them. I don’t want to wish for second chances or to cry over missed opportunities. I want to die empty with nothing held back. 

I often think of Livvy and her transparency, anyone who was with Livvy knew exactly how she was feeling, happy or sad. If Livvy loved you she made sure you knew it. Her eyes, her smile surrounding you in the warmth of true love. The flip side being if she wasn’t keen she also let you know that too. The looks that little madam could give you well, it’s lucky some didn’t turn into stone. I will never forget one doctor turning to the nurses after prodding her with needles for way to long and saying “I don’t think she likes me” the nurses burst into laughter because Livvy had made her opinion clear I mean from turning her back to him to refusing to look up when he was near. She was totally transparent and I loved her for it. 

It’s this need for openness and truth that is leaving me struggling right now. When the country seems to be changing in front of my eyes. People I have known or thought I knew having opinions that seriously shock me. Statements of pure hate coming from those I though were about love. 

Yes I can accept that the country is scared  the right wing propaganda is blaming immigrants for everything. Hey I burnt my toast this morning, blooming immigrants,  but this blame game isn’t one of truth.

People are falling for the lies, the blatant misdirection of the corrupt. Blame these people whilst we screw you over as you look the other way.

Yet we aren’t all gullible, at times I think we know we are being sold a pile of horse poo but it’s easier to blame that it is to fight. To stand up against the hate and say enough. 

It’s the hiding in shadows that is tearing at my heart right now. When the people in power are playing egotistical games with the vulnerable. When winning points is more important than saving lives. 

I’m craving for transparency, for the curtains to fall away and the whole stage to be seen. 

It’s time for a change. 

This world needs transparency and it also needs accountability, another rather wonderful word. 

People need to be accountable for their actions, their words, their decisions, their votes. 

Imagine a world where you had to be accountable for every decision you made.

For every word your spoke.

For every action you took or didn’t take.

I truly think the world would be a different place. 

A place where people thought before they spoke. 

Deliberated before they acted.

This world would be a kinder place.

We would have a more loving world. 

And a hell of a lot more happiness and laughter. 

Live life full, live life transparent and live life true. 

Is it pretend…?

My daughter was in her sociology class last week when the subject turned to fostering and adoption. She was sitting there listening to the views of others when one boys opinion really annoyed her, it seemed that to him fostering and adoption is “pretend parenting.”

Well I’m certainly not going to argue with the viewpoint of a 15 year old because as we all know at this age they are always right, but I would ask him to think about this.

Is it pretend when I walk the bedroom floor for hours soothing a teething baby?

Is it pretend as I wait patiently and worryingly outside the hospital theatre’s door?

Is it pretend when I hold them tight when they wake from nightmares?

Is it make believe the pride I have in all their achievements?

The worry I feel when they are sick?

The missing I feel when they are not with me?

Is it pretend when my heart fills with love for them?

I don’t really expect most 15 year old’s to understand but so many times I come across adults who just don’t get the love I feel for my fostered children. They see them as a means to an end or just part of my job. In fact the current government seems to view fostering as second class parenting but that’s for another post.

It just drives me mad that people view it this way, as it’s so far from the truth.

You see the moment I open my home up to child I also open my heart to them.

Slowly we both get to learn about each other.

I get to watch them as they come to understand that this is their home too.

I want them to know they are so loved, that they are so cherished and that they are so wanted.

I want them to put their stamp on their bedroom, knowing that it is their’s for as long as they want it.

To sleep without fear of moving on or not being safe.

I want them to know that they are now part of the tribe, that no matter what they do there is no giving up.

We fight for family in this home.

We fight for dreams to be realised.

There is no pretend is this family, just pure real true love.

A families love. 

 

 

Monday is the start of the Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight. This years message is Time to Foster, Time to Care. They  want to spread the message that for many prospective foster carers NOW is the time to care and NOW is the time to foster. Please go take a look over on the Fostering network’s website and if you have ever considered fostering now is the time to do it.

There are so many children out there waiting for families to reach past pretend and to embrace them in real family love. 

 

Becoming a foster carer was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

It’s not always easy but it so worth it. 

fcf_clock_download