15 November 2014

We're nearly there

When you had been in my tummy for 20 weeks, they took your picture inside my tummy and they told me that you had Talipes (Clubfoot). I was scared and sad. Now, I read posts on sites from other parents who are scared and sad at the beginning of their journeys. I want to share our journey to help the other mummies and daddies. I've written about this before (http://laurahigh1977.blogspot.com/2014/06/chapter-1-talipes.html) but now...now we are less than a year from never having to wear your boots and bar again and we should always remember this journey, for us and for others. 
I took this picture today. 4 years ago, we didn't know what our Talipes journey had in store for us

A lot of people don't know what Talipes is. A lot of people think that Clubfoot means one big foot. It doesn't. Here's a picture. It just means that your foot is twisted around the wrong way.
Image via nursingcrib.com

After about 4 weeks of casting, the doctors had repositioned your little foot and you were ready for your boots and bar. These would hold your feet shoulder width apart with a metal bar for 23 hours a day for 3 months then 12 hours a day until you were 5. Until you were 5! That felt like forever. It may be a cliché but time flies by so fast. To the other Mummies and Daddies just starting out on this journey, never, ever dwell on the Talipes or you'll miss the other things and that stuff is way more precious. 
I cried all my tears when you were in my tummy. Once we had embarked on the journey together I was done with my tears and was ready to be strong with you. My only focus was making sure that your treatment was no big deal and as routine as putting on socks. It worked. You slept through for 13 hours a night from being a little baby until.....well, you still do. Your boots and bars are just like pyjamas. You don't question them. I mentioned tonight that you won't have them when you're 5. You looked sad and said that you'd miss them. You asked if we can keep them for your teddy.
Your boots and bar and Right Bunny

My amazing little girl who takes everything in her little, but perfect, stride x

8 November 2014

"We can only look, behind from where we came...."

Today I have been more acutely aware of your advancing journey from being a baby to being a little girl. Your drawing has come on from just recognisable shapes to actual Father Christmas!
Your language is changing from the basic use of only the necessary words to, "my butterfly light catcher looks just so amazing Mummy" and, when I (clearly) won the race across The Brinkley Lion's carpark today you shouted, "we will see about this  Mummy" as you raced past me to the new finish line declaring, "better luck next time Mummy!" as you finished. Every day you sound more grown up and I don't see it happen. It's like trying to see a flower grow. 
In 2010, in your little Moses basket

This morning I watched you sing along to all of the words to Joni Mitchell's 'Circle Game'. 
I didn't know that you knew all the words but we've baked cakes, biscuits, quiches, jam tarts and all sorts of other things to Joni Mitchell for as long as you've been able to stand on a chair beside me. You call it "our baking music" and I am so happy that it has soaked into you. I know now that when you're older and you hear Joni Mitchell it will evoke memories of us. Her music will be woven into the tapestry of your being and will remain for ever. It's just how it works. 
You, today

"Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game...."

Night night sweetie.

14 October 2014

You're 4!

You have changed so much in this past year. From a squishy toddler into a beautiful, caring, inquisitive and thoughtful little girl with the apparent wisdom of someone far beyond her 4 years. 4, I can't believe you're 4! Although I am painfully aware that I'll be saying, I can't believe you're 14 before I know it so here's me, capturing our lives in letters so as to cherish each stage for ever. 

We went to Cambridge today to spend your birthday money. You chose a Mr Men book, a story about a boy who befriends a whale...
 ...a marble run game...
..,and a little bag of gemstones and a yo-yo. I can't pinpoint it exactly but a combination of the city, the season, the sunshine and you made me so very happy today. 

Sitting on the wall together by the little round church in Cambridge, we ate our jelly beans

In the lift in the car park today you, as you always do, clung to my leg in case the lift light went out and you wouldn't be able to find me, in the 2ft by 2ft space! I put my hand reassuringly on the side of your face holding you close to me, as if to try and stamp my protective instinct into you, like pushing a coin into clay, leaving an imprint forever. You must remember though, no single person should ever be your everything. That's not to say "don't love," just don't forget to be there for yourself. Look after yourself. Always know how to make yourself happy. Be considerate to others and never stop caring. If you can do this I know you'll be just fine. And then so will I. 

Have fun being 4 sweetie.

“She made herself stronger by fighting with the wind.” ~ Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

"Is that a real pyramint Mummy?"
"Do you mean pyramid? 
"No Mummy, you're saying it wrong"
"But it's called a pyramid"
"I know Mummy, that's what I said" ~ Me and you, just now watching Despicable Me

19 September 2014

The events that shape our lives

Today it was announced that Scotland has voted in a historic referendum in favour of remaining a part of our United Kingdom. History is made today, and every day.

When I was a little girl, like you, growing up, I enjoyed nothing more than a rummage around in our loft. Family possessions, cold, boxed and rarely seen. I loved that packaged history, up there in the roof of our house. I remember the smell, the cold, the boarded space and the solitary light bulb. 

One of my treasures in the loft was the wooden tea chests filled with historic newspapers collected by my mummy and daddy, your nana and grandad. Jubilees, wars won and lost, new Prime Ministers, old Prime Ministers, deaths, celebrations....the world, captured in print and kept for posterity. 

Me & my daddy c1978

On September 11th, 2001 something happened which changed the world, our world, forever. You are too young to begin to understand the motives behind the events of that day but you will learn about it one day and it's important that you do. 

And here begun my newspaper collection capturing the events that have shaped my life and kept for posterity, for you.

One day, I hope that you will rummage through my newspaper collection as I did my mummy and daddy's. Ask me what happened and I'll try to explain, as best I can. It's a complicated world but it's ours and you will get so much more from it if you take an interest and care. I know you will.

Me & you yesterday, whilst Scotland voted for its future

I love you baby. Sleep tight.

"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see." ~ Winston Churchill

14 September 2014

Homeward bound

We got stuck in traffic on the way home today. Despite my best efforts on the car game front you fell asleep in your little chair with Right Bunny pushed up against your cheek.

Sitting on that road, with you in the back, I felt nostalgic. Heading back. Is home this way, or that? 

The A11 is the road in and out of Norfolk. It's been my route on holiday as a very little girl. And the route we came home again on. The road I took when we left Norfolk. The road I travel back down to see our friends and family. And the road that brings them to me. It is just a road but it's more than a road, to me. It takes me 'home' to my house. And it takes me back 'home' to my memories. 

This view has been the backdrop to so many of my journeys.

When I first made my journeys down this road, I didn't have you. Now you come too. I watched you in my mirror today, gazing out at the same views I have gazed at since I was your age. Norfolk is already staking it's claim over part of your being, as it has to mine. Your cousins are there, nanas, grandads, aunties, uncles and some of our very closest friends. "Your park from when you were little Mummy" is somewhere you ask to go to often. I carry this place in my words and actions and hopes and fears. It's engrained in me. Somewhere that means so much to me won't fail to be important to you. It just can't. 

We listened to this on the way home tonight. Sleep tight sweetie. 

"Sometimes I wonder if I'm ever gonna make it home again. It's so far and out of sight" ~ Carole King, Home Again (1971)

30 August 2014

My fitness journey....

As you go through life, everyone will tell you, exercise is healthy, eat well, don't drink too much alcohol, don't smoke....I'll say all that stuff to you. I'm your Mummy, it's what we do. 

You'll probably ignore me. You're a kid, that's what you do! So, I want to tell you what journey your Mummy has been on in the last year or so. There are some reasons (I have 5 for you) to listen to some of that stuff and to live a bit more healthily. Real reasons. Not just because everyone says so. 

In the last year I have focused on health and fitness in a way that I never have done before. I eat well and pay attention to nutrition. I've (almost) completely cut out alcohol. I sleep well and train hard. Here's why it's been so amazing... 

1. I have, literally, never felt good about myself. At 37, I do now. That should be reason enough but I did promise 5.

2. I have met some wonderful people who have inspired me to aim higher, to push myself, to do good, to never say "I don't have time." Brilliant Mums who work full-time and still make time to improve themselves & stay healthy. People who want to help others to improve and are always sharing and teaching. Young people with motivation and drive. People who inspire others and work together. People I'm proud to know. 

3. This is a girly one and it sounds shallow but it makes me happy. I have always loved fashion, but on other people. I can finally enjoy it on me. It is a big motivation to stay strong and keep training hard. I just keep my eye on the dresses!

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” ~ Coco Chanel

4. I love the improvement and gains I've made and continue to make. Physically I see changes every day. I'm stronger, leaner and so much fitter than I was. A year ago I could only just bike 2 miles, couldn't move a 10kg weight and couldn't do a press up for toffee. Now I've completed a 100 mile hilly sportive, I train at the gym 3 times a week, I can do 20 proper press-ups and I do 5k runs for fun! 
Post 5k Parkrun cuddle

5. I feel more alive than I have in years. I do this for me, for those 4 reasons above. But I also do it for you. To inspire you to push yourself and to show you that it's normal for girls to run, cycle and lift weights. I love the interest you show in everything I do and want to channel and nurture that interest for as long as you'll listen to me!
With your toilet roll dumbells!

This weekend I'm running a 5km Spartan Race with some of the people I've mentioned above. I am terrified and excited in equal measures. We'll get round, one way or another, and I'm proud of the whole team already. Wish Mummy luck darling. I think she'll need it!

“A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.” ~ A A Milne, Winnie the Pooh

23 August 2014

A quite ordinary Saturday

My book made me think today. About time, with you. I want to freeze the passage of time. I won't though. I cant. Instead I follow you into the future. Collecting our memories from behind you. You're in too much of a hurry to preserve the moments. And I have the benefit of years to help me appreciate why we should. When I was little I had a carved wooden box full of my important things. I still have it, somewhere. Inside, a small plastic New Zealand tiki on a familiar piece of worn, old yellow string that my daddy gave me when I was little, my mummy's silver Saint Christopher, a plastic ring which matched one that my best friend had and other sundry items. They have no monetary value but those items are laden down with my childhood feelings. So precious. Always value what matters emotionally over everything else. Cherish the little things. 
When Mummy was little (c1978)

Right now, I'm curled up on the sofa. You've climbed in a Molly sized nook with my legs curled round you and you're resting your head on them. I write, and you sit. So peaceful. If I could bottle this moment...

I'm a bit sniffly with a cold and you hugged me because you thought I was crying. "You sound sad Mummy. Don't be sad." We had a nap together. It reminded me of when you were a baby and you'd fall asleep on my chest leaving a hot sweaty patch when you woke up. I felt very close to you. 
Poorly Mummy and sleepy Molly

Your nana and grandad had some sad news today. You heard me on the phone and asked what was wrong. I had a moment to decide whether to tackle the subject of death at your tender age. I did. I explained that Nana and Grandad's friend had died. You replied, "that is very sad news Mummy. I do hope they're ok." A response befitting an adult. You never cease to amaze me. Children's coping mechanisms are much better than ours, or than we give them credit for, and I remind myself of that daily.
Today you wanted to be Jessie

See you tomorrow sweetie. I love you.

"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." ~ Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh, A A Milne

8 August 2014

Chance encounters at the park

Last night we walked to the park when I got home. This was an ordinary little trip, just you and me. We met two people there. Two ordinary, chance encounters which taught me a little bit about you and about me.

We held hands and walked down our road. You silently swapped from one side of me to the other as a dog approached. We didn't talk about it. I like to let you deal with your apprehensions slowly and in your own time. You've moved from screaming to be picked up when dogs approach to sidling round to the other side of me. That's progress!
At the park you immediately climbed up on the 'castle' and informed me that we had to escape from the witch who lived "over bere (there) in the witch house (climbing frame)" and then told me to "sit down bere Mummy and you must knit 12 hats, gloves and jumpers to keep us all (you, me and 10 imaginary friends. 10 is your 'big' number at the moment) warm and cosy in the winter. Come on Mummy, get knitting!"

After a while you eased the pressure on me to keep pretend knitting and asked if I could push you to the moon on the swings. I always pretend I am trying to push you to the moon and you always laugh your little head off. So happy. 
Then you went back into the park and tried to engage with a little boy who was wandering around on his own. I left you to it. He was a little bit older than you but a solitary thing. He didn't acknowledge you and just wandered about. Stopping to sit cross legged and throw wood chips on the ground in front of him. He stared into space. He seemed locked in his own world. Your attempts to play rolled off him like raindrops down a window. Your little face was sad. I left you to reflect for a few moments. Your head dropped and you sat at the top of the slide. In the end I walked over to you and explained that the little boy wanted some time to himself and that you shouldn't be sad about that. Then you excitedly pointed to the little boy who had wandered over to a crowd of older boys and had sat down at the edge of their group. "Look Mummy. He does have some friends after all!" You were so happy and I was delighted that, through the whole episode, you cared more about the little boy having friends than you cared about your own rejection. It hadn't really crossed my mind that you were trying to be nice to him and, because you couldn't, it had made you sad. I was too wrapped up in you to notice. Your kindness is palpable. It runs out of your every pore and makes me so so proud.
During this time a young teenage girl had arrived at the park. I left you to slide and sat on the bench. She sat down next to me. We'd seen her here before when she had played with you but we had never spoken to her, not properly. She seemed kind. I asked how she was. Her face lit up and she chatted away to me, slightly awkwardly but she wanted to talk. I remember thinking that I wouldn't have chatted to an adult so freely at her age. She told be about her family. She asked about you and she related it back to her own childhood. She told me she had never fitted in, and about the people who had helped her when she was little and about how she felt, then and now. A lot of what she said made me feel sad. She seemed sad. As we left she asked me my name. "Sorry, it's Laura" I said. "Thank you Laura. See you soon." She had said "thank you" rather than "goodbye." I had only really listened to her but I felt happy then, not sad.

You should always try to listen completely. In one moment, lives can collide. Those you meet, listen to, and touch, will become the foundation of your being. I hope, above all else, that you will always have someone to talk to. I love you sweetheart. See you tomorrow.

"A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference." ~ Winnie the Pooh

26 July 2014

We'll always have Carcassonne

We've just come back from our lovely summer holiday in Carcassonne in the Languedoc-Rousillion region of France. 
You loved your holiday. You loved being there with your cousins and I'm glad we could all be there together.
Three amigos, exploring the neighbourhood and plotting pesky things! 

As much as I love holidays, in the same way as I always did, I now love enriching your life with new experiences as much as I enjoy them for myself. This trip was full of such experiences.
Medieval walled Carcassonne, where knights and princesses resided...in my version of the history, for you

The beautiful coastline at Narbonne Plage where you amused yourself running away from the waves and didn't want to stop

The Départ of stage 16 of the Tour de France in Carcassonne

I am so grateful to have been able to take you to soak up the atmosphere at a stage of France's greatest sporting event in its home country. There's nothing quite like it. 
You played your new harmonica for the riders as they went past

When I went abroad as a little girl I was always overwhelmed to be putting my first foot down on foreign soil as I stepped off the plane. The warm, fragrant air reminding me of holidays past. Poignantly, that feeling came rushing back as I watched you take your first little steps on French soil in the balmy July morning breeze. 
Other familiar childhood feelings returned through you on this trip. In my childhood mind there was always a distant fear of being lost abroad, a million miles from home. It was so distant that it never really surfaced but getting into the car and looking out of the back window at where I could have been left behind made me happier for having that distant fear buried in my subconscious. It made me grateful for the security I had. I was reminded of these feelings as I carried you through airport security and strapped you into the car, and as we left the house to come home again. That childhood fear of mine is now wrapped up inside you. You are now the 3 year old me that I must keep safe. 

“Not all those who wander are lost.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien
Sleep tight baby. See you tomorrow.

24 June 2014

Being your mummy...

"Mummy, I am the goodest kid you ever saw, am I Mummy?" 

I fell off a cliff in slow motion the day I met you. From that moment onwards, how I felt about you became the single, biggest uncontrollable force in my life. Every day I try hard to balance out that overwhelming emotion so as not to smother you. I constantly remind myself that I'm important, but so is your independence. I want to give you room to breathe, room to be. And, if something took me away tomorrow, I need to know that you'd be ok. 
Molly Rose High ~ October 2010

I haven't enjoyed all of the stages of helping you to be independent but something undefinable inside of me tells me that it's the right thing. As parents, that undefinable voice inside is all we really have to guide us. Leaving you to grizzle a bit when you were a baby wasn't always the most natural thing to do but it was right. You're learning to be independent and I'm here, like the bumpers at the edge of the bowling alley, for you to bounce off and then carry on in the right direction. We're doing ok. You are a content and caring child with a big imagination and an even bigger heart and I am very proud of you.

I have to leave your sad little face to go to work. Or deflect your disappointment when you realise that I am going out on my bike. The corners of your mouth switch to being dramatically down turned. It is painful, but only superficially. You don't spend the time I'm away crying yourself to sleep or pressed up against the window. You go to school, you play, you see your friends, you go swimming. I do my thing, and you do yours. I come home and we spend time together. This stuff is fundamentally important to you and to me. It helps us to be stronger people, for each other.
Us ~ Summer 2014

You called me "my pretty Mummy" in my new dress today. That made me happy. Always remember sweetheart, behind your story is mine, and behind mine is my Mummy's and behind her's is her Mummy's. It's where we all began. 

Me and my Mummy ~ 1977

I completed my first 100 mile sportive last month. I cycled further than I ever have done and the sense of achievement was huge. The best bit, for me though, was seeing you on your little chair by the side of the road at 25 miles in shouting "go Mummy!" It was just the best feeling in the world. It's easy to be your Mummy, that's nature. But to inspire you, to equip you to deal with life and to make you proud of me, that takes some work.

Sleep tight baby.

"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will." ~ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre