It’s been nearly two weeks since Save the Children’s Pass it On campaign launched and, blow me down with an industrial-strength rotary fan, you lot have been AMAZING!
Via tweets alone using the #passiton hashtag, the campaign is calculated to have had a reach of (updated!) five and half million people already, and we’re only just getting started.
For those of you yet to hear about it, on Monday Save the Children are flying three bloggers out to Mozambique. There they will follow the journey of a life-saving vaccine from cold-storage all the way to the front line, to learn what a profound difference it can make to children in a developing country, and how vital it is that world leaders pledge to increase funding for vaccinations when they meet in the UK in June – a four hour meeting during which they hold the power to make a decision that could save millions of children’s lives.
I’m delighted this morning to be helping to launch a new meme on behalf of Save the Children, along with the fabulous Red Ted Art Blog, combining a healthy dollop of potentially world-changing charity action with a bit of a challenge and crafty fun.
As you’ll know, art plays a big part in mine and Kai’s lives and is a huge part of how we both express ourselves. Encouraging Kai to paint and draw as a way of compensating for some of his communication difficulties has been really rewarding.
Since coming back from Bangladesh last year I have been so aware of how lucky Kai is to have been born where he was. Kai can sit with me and draw a picture of himself while I imagine a future for him and I know that there is every chance that he will get one, the chance to shine in whatever it is that he chooses. Here he has easy access to excellent healthcare and readily-available life-saving immunisations, but for many of the children and mothers I met when out visiting Save the Children’s work, that promising future was far from certain, with children often facing seemingly insurmountable barriers of poverty and disease. What’s most frustrating is that many of these barriers ARE preventable, with vaccines costing pence and just a few trained health workers within a community able to make an extraordinary difference.
Last week the very lovely pink coiffured Rosie Scribble tagged me in a meme thingy that she started to inject a bit of happiness across the bloggosphere.
There’s been quite a lot of negative stuff happening in this lovely bloggy community of mine lately, and, as I tend to with this sort of thing, I take it all very personally and get far more upset about it all than I should do. So it was nice to do this tonight, to lay aside all the crappy stuff and focus on things that are lovely and good and positive.
The rules of Rosie’s Shiny Happy People meme are thus:
Name a song that makes you happy - a song you would listen to if you needed a sudden injection of happiness.
Post an image that makes you smile, it can be anything – a silly photo, an image taken from the internet, anything at all that puts a smile on your face (and isn’t too rude!)
So. First a little intro. As most of you know it’s been a bit of a tough journey for me at times. Motherhood hasn’t been easy, in fact, in some respects, its something I struggle with more and more. But I do love it. I love the person that it’s making me, the way that it’s challenging me, forcing me to evolve and change and adapt. It’s teaching me new things about myself every day and although I still battle with a lot of inner demons and feel I have a long way to go, I really believe it’s taking me somewhere good and exciting and fulfilling.
I feel like I’m finally growing up. Feel like I’m finally BECOMING someone. And I love that.
This song really captures that feeling for me. The feeling of growing into myself. And it never, ever fails to lift my spirits.
(Apologies for the weird large box – clueless how to make this smaller!)
Next some photos. I never thought I’d be the sort of mother that endlessly bores people with pictures of my children, but sorry, I really really am. Here’s a few funny and sweet ones from Kai’s very early months that never fail to make me smile and show me just how far we’ve come. Hope you enjoy…
P.S. I’ve had a few memes lately and to be honest I’m starting to forget who tagged me in what so my apologies if I’ve not responded right away but thank you and I’ll be working round to as many as I can! I don’t want to give you meme overload. Just that word is weird. meeee meeee. Ok I’ll stop now…
So I’ve chosen #5, the second house I ever lived in, which is very timely as for some reason I’ve been dreaming about it lately, a lot. Maybe it’s all this thinking about moving, a yearning in me to make a real family home of our own where Kai can grow up safe and free with space for play and adventures and growth. A place which Kai will remember and dream about and that will influence his feelings about what feels like ‘home’ for the rest of his life.
We moved into my second house when I had just turned five, in the winter of 1987 and for the next fifteen years that house was my world. The place where I dreamed and cried and laughed and played and grew.
I loved that house. My memories of it are vivid and fierce and very precious.
So, if you’ll forgive the indulgence, I’m going to take a break from the jokes tonight and share some of them with you. After all, in three weeks my Creative Writing course starts and I’m going to have to get used to doing some ‘serious’ writing for a change! It’s a bit of free-association which I’ve not really done before so bare with me…
I am 6 0r 7. Sitting on the top step of the stairs in the dark when I should be in bed asleep. Listening to the murmer of my parents conversations, the hum of the television, the sounds from the kitchen as they boil the kettle or tidy up. Sounds of home, of safety and familiarity. I inch down, silently, one step at a time, wanting to get closer to that feeling.
I am 16. I am lying in bed listening to the rain hammer on the flat roof of my bedroom. I’ve decided I want to be an interior designer and mum and dad have given me free reign to decorate my room however I like. I often dream of a beach-hut hideaway so have crafted my room to make me feel like I’m by the sea. Holiday beach scavenges gift driftwood shelves, twisted sea-smoothed branches and endless stones and shells with which I fill my space. I’ve painted my favourite quotes from books and poems that I love straight onto the walls in meticulous, curving script. Tea lights twinkle – I must remember to blow them out before I fall asleep. I lie under the sail canapy I have hung over my bed, drifting on a sea of dreams. The world feels huge and full of possibility.
I am 9 or 10. The passageway down the side of the house is my own secret hideaway. In the hollowed out centre of the big shrubs that grow against the fence I have made my den. I can smell the damp earth, the peeling paint on the fence panels, and feel the rough prickle of the branches as I push my way through. There is a tin there, hidden under the foliage, full of secret things. In it is a piece of paper with the name of the boy I like at school. I haven’t told a soul, not even my best friend. I hope my brother hasn’t found it.
Christmas morning. Endless Christmas mornings. The rule is not to wake mum and dad before 7am. It is early but I am awake. I stick out a probing foot to prod the sack of presents at the foot of my bed and get that familiar rush of excitement and anticipation. There’s no way I’m going back to sleep now. I sneak into my brother’s room with my duvet wrapped around me and there he waits, equally awake and wide-eyed. We put our sacks of presents by the door and try not to look at them, filling the time till the promised hour playing games and talking in urgent whispers, muffling our giggles through our fingers.
Long summers in the garden. The paddling pool and water-fights with empty washing up bottles. Being given my own little patch of earth to plant seeds and forget-me-nots in. The heat of the greenhouse and the smell of the not-quite-ripe tomatoes and the compost heap. Swirling my fingers in the jelly soup of the frogspawn and watching the tadpoles in the pond grow legs and loose their tails. A plant by the Buddleia which was always, unexpectedly, covered in ladybirds. Writing in chalk on the patio slabs. Worrying that the initials marked in the cement by the previous owners meant that one of them was buried there. My shrine under the apple tree to Tabby, my cat, with the stone I had painted with her name on and jam-jars full of faded flowers and green water.
I am 19. It is September 11th 2001. I have come home from college and fallen asleep in a haze of fatigue. My Fibromyalgia is beginning to worsen although I don’t know this yet or what is wrong with me, only that I am tired and I hurt. My brother wakes me. Something has happened he says. We sit together and watch the TV in silence, shock and horror. I can’t believe what I am seeing. I cry but I can’t look away. Ant comes over after work and the three of sit and watch the same clips repeated over and over. Time stops. Pain and fatigue is forgotten. All I can feel is their pain, their loss. I do not sleep that night.
I am 7. We are sat eating tea. My brother will not eat his food. He is chewing the same mouthful of meat over and over until it is grey, tasteless ball that he cannot swallow. Mum is cross, “Just swallow it!” she says in her best pretend ’I'm not cross’ voice. But she is cross, and we both know it. She tries to get David take sips of water but still he will not swallow his food. He cries and has to spit it out. We have been here many, many times before. I kick my legs under the chair and feel smug that I am not the one being told off. We finish at last andI recite by rote “Thank-you-mummy-for-my-dinner-please-may-I-get-down” in one long drawn-out breath.
It is raining and the water is dripping through the bay window. We spring to action with tea-towels and margarine tubs to catch the drips. Christmas Cacti adorn the window sill. I have an overwhelming urge to twist off the tops, and draw smiley faces in the square panes of the window. Both are expressively forbidden. But thinking about it makes my fingers twitch.
We have been playing out in the snow and have come inside damp and rosy cheeked and smiling. I sit in front of the fire to thaw out. I can’t feel my finger tips and my ears buzz with cold. I rest the edges of my double-socked feet on the marble surround. Getting as close as I can without burning. A black and white ceramic cat shares the fireplace with me. When it’s my turn to dust I am extra careful with it, scared I will break it and get in trouble. It has yellow, glass eyes.
It is Sunday afternoon and I sit and doze on the sofa. Dad has the cricket on and the soft lull of the commentary makes me sleepy. I am full of dinner and memories of Sunday school.
I am 19. The contents of my room are packed into boxes and are being put in the removal van, ready to be unpacked in my new room at my mum’s partner’s huge and beautiful house. I sit and say goodbye. Dad hasn’t lived here for two years and somehow that makes it easier. This house isn’t home anymore – I am ready to say goodbye. After all, I am an adult now. Already dreaming of a home of my own with my boyfriend of nearly two years already. Thinking about him makes me burn with a fierce love and longing. He is my home now, somehow I know this. But still the tears come as a thousand memories tumble forward.
I”ll be honest. I’m having a bit of crud day. A crud couple of days actually. I started a great long moany post about how horribly hard life seems to insist on being at the moment but began to bore even myself so I stopped and took great pleasure in deleting all my self pitying nonsense.
Think yourself lucky you were spared. It was REALLY whiny and annoying – even for me.
Because truth is I should STFU and count my blessings. Yes, I seem to have been given the privilege of bringing up the World’s Most Difficult Child (well, I think he’d at least make the top 100, maybe top 20 on a bad day) but despite seriously making me question the wisdom of EVER deciding to have children and inflicting upon the world someone with my own horribly flawed genetic make-up, he is healthy, bright and, when not being the demon child from hell, actually rather lovely.
My huge great big kick up the rear came in the end from Sally over at Who’s The Mummy who has awarded SIFTW with this fab ‘Great Read’ award – how nice is that?!
Originally this meant I then had to tell you ten things about me, but Sally with her wonderful creative license tweaked it slightly to list ten happy memories. And because I need, NEED to remind myself of the positives tonight, I am going to follow her example and instigate a little tweak of my own.
So here we go.
10 reasons to be grateful that Kai is mine
1. No he doesn’t sleep. But the progressive sleep-deprivation training he has blessed me with over the last 14 months has made me mentally stronger and more resilient than I ever thought I could be. Need someone to hold up under torture? I’m your gal…
2. All that holding, carrying, rocking, and endless trips up and down the stairs every evening have given me biceps and calf muscles of steel. And I am thinner and fitter than I have been in as long as I can remember.
3. If it wasn’t for Kai I never would have discovered the very real joys that are extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing, attachment parenting and baby-led weaning. Without any of which my life, and my experience of motherhood would be far the lesser. By pushing me to my very limits, by constantly making me re-evaluate what I thought about babies and motherhood, Kai has forced me to adapt and find new ways to be a better parent. And I AM a better parent as a result. I don’t feel it most days, but I deep down I really believe that.
4. Kai gives the best cuddles in whole world. FACT. When not beating seven bells out of us he is probably the most affectionate, caring child you could ever hope to meet.
5. I used to be pretty lazy. It’s true. And self-absorbed and selfish. After having Kai I am now only slightly lazy, self-absorbed and selfish. That’s progress.
6. Watching Kai eat pasta bolognaise, laugh hysterically at random events until he falls down, dance and sing to everything even vaguely musical, crawl round with a farm animal in each hand and my bra around his neck, and try to whisper, makes up for all the crying, screaming, temper tantrums and abject refusal to anything he doesn’t want to do ten million times over.
7. His potential. Sometimes I look at him and I see the toddler, the boy, the man he will become and I shiver with excitement and anticipation (and a little fear). I wouldn’t want to miss that ride. Not for all the strong-black-tea-with-two-sugars in China.
8. For the joy and healing Kai’s arrival has brought to my family. He’s unified us in a way I never thought would have been possible, brought me closer to those I love the most, and the smile and the twinkle he brings to his very frail and elderly great-grandmother is worth every moment of heart-ache on it’s own.
9. I’m not a great believer in that ‘everything happens for a reason’ crap but I do sometimes wonder whether my experiences with Kai are preparing me for a time in my future when I’m going to need every ounce of my new found patience, tolerance, and finely honed sense of humour. Ant and I are just really, REALLY hoping it isn’t twins…
10. Yes Kai seems to need me a lot. A LOT a lot. In fact he seems to need me for something pretty much every minute of every day. But he also needs me. I will probably never be needed so much again in my entire life and I know I will miss that one day, very soon, when he is far too busy planning world domination, writing jokes about hilarious bodily functions and coming up with new and interesting things to do with dirt. I am grateful for this time of being so utterly, completely and unconditionally loved and needed. And will treasure that feeling forever.
So there we go, my Kai-ranasaurus, my little monster, my kling-on koala, my little bear. I love you. I love you a lot – just the way the you are.
Now for the love of god sleep you crazy child.
I’m now supposed to nominate some other blogs to pass on this lovely award to. For the purists amoung you feel free to revert to the whole ‘ten things about me’ clause. For the rest of you that are more ‘piss in the wind’ types then go nuts – 10 of anything is fine by me.
The following are deemed really, REALLY, great reads by me, the official authority on everything, so if you haven’t discovered them already I suggest you start clicking: