Tomorrow

I never had that rush of love in the hospital when Oscar was born. The feeling everyone tells you about. That sudden lightening bolt of realisation that this is what life is all about and has been all along. No, I never got that.

Although it’s not something I’ve discussed before, the truth is, I spent so much of my pregnancy convinced the embryo, then the foetus, then the baby wouldn’t make it into this world, that when he did, all I felt was relief. I spent so long preparing for him not to arrive that when he did it was hard to reconcile that fact.

His earliest days in the hospital were harder than I ever imagined and being immobilised and traumatised by an emergency c-section, meant every ounce of energy I had was spent on just getting through the next minute. I don’t remember ever feeling love in those early days.

The first time I remember feeling anything close to the ‘rush of love’ people talk about was about three weeks later. It was the middle of the night. I guess he’d just been fed. Ben was asleep and I had just laid Oscar down in my crossed legs where he promptly fell fast asleep, something he wasn’t overly keen to do in the Moses Basket that night. It made me chuckle and I looked down to take a photo of the cheeky sleep thief lying there in my legs and boom! I realised I loved him.

baby asleep on a bed

The moment I realised I actually loved my son.

Fast forward (because it really has been fast) to today, four and a half years later. Today I am preparing for tomorrow; his first day at primary school. I have his uniform all ready. Everything is labelled, I just need to wash his coat and pack his bag. Ben has a couple of trouser hems to take up and then we’re ready. Only of course we’re not.

I thought I was. Summer has been hard and to be honest I’ve been ready to let someone else help with the effort of raising an autistic child for a while now. But turns out today I can’t stop crying. Big gulping sobs. All I can think about is my baby. The difficult, confusing, terrifying, baffling baby and wondering where did he go? The pain is visceral and I have wondered today whether this is why people have more than one child? To delay having to feeling this sadness? To know that’s it for them? That parenting a baby, a toddler is over? Maybe not. But right now it seems like as good a reason as any.

I’m writing this on his bed. Looking round his room that still has vestiges of the nursery it once was.  The pirate decal, the baby swimming certificates, the shelf where we kept nappies and wipes and nappy sacks. This room could do with a refresh I know that. Some things have already gone. The cotbed, the rocking chair, the changing mat. But I just can’t bring myself to change everything just yet.

Anyway, tomorrow. Despite being registered for transport, we’ll be taking him ourselves on his first day. I want to be there, to be able to reassure him. Hell, I want to stand by his side all day and make sure everyone understands who he is and what he wants. But I can’t. They will have to learn. Just as I did.

This is not a letter to my son on the eve of his education journey. It’s not an essay to discuss the benefits or downfalls of children starting school at this age. Its not about how I’m not ready to let him start moving away from me, or how frightened I am for him, an autistic child, making his way in a world that wont always understand him. I mean it’s a bit of all of things, but really it’s just a mummy,whose relationship with her son has never been easy, confessing how much she loves him.

And from three weeks old, always has.

Galentine’s Day

Are you a Leslie Knope fan? I am. Parks and Recreation is one of my favourite US comedy shows and Leslie Knope is a great character. Perky without being sickly, loyal, ridiculously hard working, good at whatever she wants to be, caring, kick ass and the inventor of Galentine’s Day. What’s not to love?

If you don’t know what Parks and Rec is, we probably can’t be friends. You should definitely look it up. If you’re not sure what Galentine’s Day is, it’s this

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Isn’t that just wonderful? I love a good Valentine’s Day as much as the next soppy old romantic. Cards, flowers, gestures of affection for the significant other in your life. But how often do you show the other people in your life, just how much they mean to you. The other mamas who keep you going when the chips are down, the lady with the bottle of bubbles who can insist you forget everything and calm the fuck down. The girls who know you from old, but still refuse to tell ? In my case I know it’s not enough.

We’re really bad in this country at expressing how much we love anyone outside our family or our partner. Why is that? Love can come in so many forms and be born out of so many things. Admiration, inspiration, respect. And yet, I can think of only a handful of people that I have told I love them in my entire life. It’s just not the ‘done’ thing in this country. I think we confuse love born out of respect with romantic love. They are very different, but maybe the cross over confuses us enough to not acknowledge it, either to each other or ourselves.

Which is why I think we really need something like Galentine’s Day in the UK. We need reminding to tell our gal pals that they are loved. I’m not suggesting we all run out and start a new industry in Galentines Day cards and such, but I think we can all use the reminder, in these busy lives we lead, to express to our bestest friends that we love them and what about them makes them so special to us. Or is that just me?

So on the 13th February reach out. Tell the amazing ladies in your life how you feel. I, for example, might be telling Helen, that I love how strong she is for her family, that she’s the most organised person I have ever met and has the most amazing blue eyes. Michelle, I might be mentioning has the most amazing capacity for love, a beautiful creative heart and almost Renaissance curls. Jane R, that she is so thoughtful and has such an awesome knowledge of local and national law (particularly planning ?) and one hell of a laugh! Laura, that she has the most wonderful hugs, amazing sense of direction and legs that just won’t quit! Nicola, that she can get anything done to the absolute best of her ability, has such a capacity for joy and a gorgeous smile. Rach, that she is always there with the wine when needed, can take any situation and turn it around to her advantage and has the best resting bitch face I have ever seen. And Emma F that she has the ability to make me belly laugh, cares so much about her family and has the best trout pout ever!

All of them are also amazing mothers, dealing with life in the best way they know how and they all inspire me every day. I love them.

You know, that kind of thing.

But one gal I haven’t seen for too long is my girl Bethany. Her full time work week and how precious her weekends have become, means I had to think of a really good reason to borrow her from her family for a few hours. So I’m taking her out for a special Galentine’s lunch to her favourite pub on Saturday. I can’t wait to catch up on allllllll the news about life up in that London, the exciting changes that have been going on and updating on how our children are doing. But most of all I can’t wait tell her how ridiculously amazing I think she is for doing all of it with such grace. And that I love her.

Happy Galentine’s ladies. Tell your tribe you love them.

 

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We are the Mothers…

We are the mothers who’s babies seemed perfect at birth.

We are the mothers whose babies always cried. Or didn’t cry at all.

We are the mothers who felt our tiny ones pull away rather than nuzzle in.

We are the mothers who came to expect little eye contact and worked so hard for every smile.

We are the mothers who watched. And waited.

We are the mothers who swallowed our fear and guilt and told a professional we had concerns.

We are the mothers who have had our lips cut, our eyes split, our cheeks bruised, our hearts broken by violent melt downs.

We are the mothers that keep a tally of information and a raft of professionals names on the tips of our tongues.

We are the mothers who’s children have not slept. And those who do are kept awake reading articles and researching and writing documents and filling out forms. And worrying.

We are the mothers who work so hard for every good experience their child has, wherever it might be. However small it may seem.

And yet

We are the mothers who are stared at, tutted at, passed judgement on.

We are the mothers who are treated badly at the school gates. Or within them.

We are the mothers who’s children, the ones we work so hard for, are not appreciated. Or included. Because they are not ‘good’.

We are the mothers of autistic children.

We’re dealing with more than you could ever believe.

Just to be the mothers we never imagined.

 

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For you…

I wasn’t going to write today. It’s way into the boy’s nap. I might not get a chance to finish before he wakes up. I’m cream crackered from this morning’s “run around the leisure centre whilst attempting to keep my toddler safe” session and I just wasn’t feeling it.

So I grabbed myself a chocolate Options drink and had a quiet sit. My head started automatically coming up with things to write about, but I kept batting them away. I started looking at the beautiful roses Ben bought me for Valentine’s day last week. They’ve really opened out in the last few days and I started thinking how gorgeous they are and how lucky I am to have received them.

Roses ARE Red

Roses ARE Red

And that got me thinking about Ben. And then I knew I had to write.

A post about us.

We met when we were both 19 years old. Cast your mind back to the summer of 1998. What were you doing? I had just finished my first year of University in London and had come home for a month to see my friends and to help my mum move house. I had a summer job back in London and was due to go back at the beginning of July. I had split up with (aka dumped) my long term boyfriend on Valentines Day in the February just gone, so was single and happy being so. After I’d been home a few days (in which my ex kindly told me “I’d take you back you know” to which I replied something along the lines of “no thanks” – gosh wasn’t I polite? What I meant to say was “no fear, you mentalist”!) I was invited to go to a local pub with a friend to watch the England vs Tunisia game of the World Cup. I’m not, nor ever was, a football fan, but any reason to go to the pub right?!

We watched the game and got to chatting (see, talking during a footie match – I’d never make a proper fan). We must have got to talking about boys, because I remember distinctly telling my mate Katherine, that I fancied “that sexy barman”. To which she laughed and laughed and said What Ben? Turned out they were mates and she’d talked to me about him many times. Only I’d got him confused in my head with someone else, so I believed Ben to be short, stocky and dark haired, when in fact he was tall, lean and blonde. And just beautiful. Katherine hailed him over when he went on a break and he came and sat with us for a smoke (yep it was THAT long ago you could still smoke indoors!) Katherine motioned to me and said something along the lines of “what do you think of Lisa then, isn’t she lovely?” I don’t know the exact words she used, all I know is I had never kicked anyone under a table before that day – or since come to think about it. I smiled at Ben as Katherine toppled sideways in pain. Ha! How embarrassing!

Turned out Ben agreed and when I returned to the pub that evening, we sat and chatted all evening. He was the same age as me (same year at a different school) but had done three years of A’Levels as opposed to my two. He was planning to go to UWE in Bristol come September to study Psychology. We talked about books and films and other nonsense teenagers are interested in. I recall I drank a lot of Carling (which is weird as that was never my drink of choice) and he smoked all my cigarettes. I found out that we had loads of mutual friends. How we’d never met before then, I still don’t know. I like to think it’s because we weren’t ready to 🙂 .

So anyway I’ll blur over the rest of that evening. Yes, yes I stayed over at his. So sue me. I was young, free and single and was looking to make up for two years I’d spent in a crappy relationship! However, I knew I was in trouble, when I woke (after approx an hours sleep) and found Ben had his arm wrapped round me. I told him I was about to turn and face him and to be braced for a full on Alice Cooper impression, having not taken my make up off the night before. I turned and he just said “you’re beautiful”. Uh oh. This guy’s wonderful. How did that happen? Eek!

I practically skipped (literally – I was actually doing little jumps all the way through Pathfields) to the local shops, where I bumped into my friend Rosie, out buying supplies for her jaunt to Glastonbury. She eyed me suspiciously and asked what I was doing out so early in the morning. I just grinned 😉 .

I was smitten, but I knew I had to go back to London in a month, so promised myself I wouldn’t let this become more than it could ever be. But destiny wasn’t going to stand for any of my nonsense. I went back to London, then spent the summer swapping my days off round so I had the time to travel back to Plymouth to see Ben. At the end of the summer, he got his A’level results and was unceremoniously turned down by UWE, only to be accept by UEL – University of East London. He was coming to London! The opposite end to me, but what’s a travel card and an hour on the District Line in the face of true love?

And that was that. We spent a year travelling across London to see each other, then I left uni and moved into his student house in Stratford. Another two years, he graduated and we rented our own place in Colliers Wood. Five more years and we moved to Surbiton and within six months we were engaged. We got married in 2008, the day before our 10 year anniversary. In 2012, we had Oscar. This year we’ll have been married 6 years and together 16.

There have been so many ups and downs along the way. Excitement and boredom. Fun and tears. Dizzying happiness and gut wrenching sadness. And nothing’s put more pressure on us as people or a couple than having a baby! But we’re still here, still making it work, every day.

And then last Friday, for the first time in nearly 16 years, Ben surprised me with red roses, delivered, on Valentine’s Day.

And so I just wanted to say I love you Ben and thank you.

For a life lived together, side by side.

First Date - July 1998

July 1998

December 2013

December 2013

Mother 2 Mother Blog