Queer Freedom…

I rarely listen to podcasts, but I have just listened to Queer Freedom: How can we be both held and free? by Glennon Doyle after it was recommended to me. I would definitely say it is worth listening to.

It is about having faith and being gay, something that is still contentious even in 2022.

I admit that I am not someone who would describe themselves as religious as I have grown up seeing the negative impact it can have on the world and society which I think is a shame. At the heart of faith is a shared belief that can create strong community bonds but with that it would appear that there is often a price to pay.

I think I have always wanted to feel a sense of belonging, but I realise that I have never truly felt as though I belong. Growing up I liked the idea of being a part of a church because of the sense of community and I liked the idea of what having faith should stand for. However, I soon became aware that you would only be welcomed with loving arms if you followed their rules and lived your life how they expect you to and even as a child this didn’t sit right with me and so, I became sceptical of religion. 

The bible has been interpreted in so many ways by so many different people and then these interpretations have been fed to thousands of people who like sheep have followed what they are being led to believe are the ‘rules’ of life.

I wonder if these people truly believe what they are being told whether they crave belonging to a community so much that they will overlook certain aspects or whether they may find it easier to live their lives in accordance with certain expectations and rules rather than having to think for themselves? I can see how any of these options could appeal especially as it can be hard and scary to be different, to stand our ground or fight for what we believe in, and I know only too well that people have a desire to belong.

I know that we can all be ignorant at times, particularly if we are completely unaware of something and sometimes, we are not aware of our actions or the impact these can have on others. To some extent I could forgive people for not knowing what they are doing but I would hope that if people were aware of their actions that they would alter their behaviour towards others even if it was something they didn’t necessarily understand or agree with. 

One thing that Glennon says is that ‘we’ll never be ok if we don’t talk’ and she’s right. When I was listening to the podcast it really struck a nerve with me when she talked about how taking children to a church which is openly homophobic and not having the courage to find a different church or stop going allows children to soak up the shame and hatred and then it’s too late, the damage has been done.

I’m sitting here wondering where I picked up on religion having such rigid rules and this feeling of churches not being as accepting as they are made out to be at such a young age? I’m also wondering where my fear came from when it came to being gay? I spent years feeling ashamed as if I had done something wrong and that I had to hide it. It took me until the age of 33 to fully accept my sexuality and not worry about people knowing.

Fortunately, I have now got to an age where I am no longer prepared to be judged for who I am…it is my life, no one else’s and I believe I have a right to be happy and to embrace who I am, as does everybody else. Don’t get me wrong, I still have niggles…I sometimes wonder if people are looking or judging me as I walk hand in hand with my partner but equally it makes me happy to do that so why shouldn’t I and if people are judging I don’t actually care.

It saddens me that society and religion have a lot to answer for and that many people have felt that they have to choose between religion and themselves. As Glennon says, it shouldn’t be a choice between god or love, nor should we ever be told that god won’t love you if you are gay.

Yet so many churches still reject the idea of homosexuality and even if they appear to be ok with it, they still expect you to live your live by certain rules. People have had to make difficult choices to leave their church and their community which can be incredibly painful, but they have been left with no other choice but to remove themselves from a toxic and traumatic environment in order to put themselves first so that they have a chance to grow and be true to themselves. 

It is sad, because undoubtedly the vast majority of Christians are kind-hearted people who genuinely think that they are doing the right thing and if they knew how much harm they have caused they would be mortified. I think I find it hard that people of faith can be so lovely and supportive towards others but at the same time they can’t let go of what they really believe to be true about sexuality.

The podcast talks about how we are allowed to disagree with certain things such as climate change but that we do not get to disagree with someone’s identity, instead you are rejecting someone. It is our choice to love someone or to reject them and it is not Christianity that stops you from loving others because of who they are.

It talks about how those who reject our identity and those who have homophobic beliefs (even if they are private believes) contributes to homophobia. Sometimes it may be through ignorance or fear of others’ opinions, but that fear rubs off on others and I think that was probably my experience growing up. 

I loved it when Glennon said that we have to stop being afraid of small minded people – it’s true. Why do we let these bigoted people have so much power?

She talks about how we need to create a world where we don’t have to throw away what we need and that we can have faith and also be gay and be true to ourselves. That if anyone or any organisation asks you to abandon yourself or those you love, you should cut those ties.

Despite knowing all too well the damage that religion has caused and how heart-breaking it is to know the pain it has caused someone I love, I would be open to becoming part of a community of faith that is open and accepting of homosexuality.

I really admire Glennon Doyle for keeping her faith whilst being an activist for gay rights and modern Christianity.

Surrogacy part 13…

It has been a few weeks since I had a miscarriage now and partly it feels surreal, yet every known again I have had a moment of feeling emotional and sad. I didn’t expect it to affect me so much and I thought I’d be right as rain after a few days.

Fortunately, I am now feeling more like myself…. this has without a doubt been helped by the love and support of the people around me.

As a team, if anything we all feel even stronger than before, and Ali & Andrew have been amazing. I went into surrogacy wanting to help create a family and despite the miscarriage this hasn’t changed.

So, we have discussed the next steps and unsurprisingly the boys have pretty much left the decision making down to me. I knew that whenever we decided to try again that we could find it harder next time around and so I thought that it didn’t necessarily matter when we tried again.

The hardest part is that after a miscarriage it can take a while for you body to get back on track and that your cycles can be affected. Me and Ali are similar in the fact that we like to be organised and so this has thrown us both off as we aren’t able to predict when I will have my period or when I will ovulate and so it’s turned into a bit of a waiting game!

Part of me is anxious about the possibility of having another miscarriage even though there is no reason to believe it would happen again and part of me doesn’t want to let Ali & Andrew down as I know how much this means to them.  

In the meantime, we had the chance to spend some quality time together (just the adults) at the SurrogacyUK annual conference. It was lovely to see them as always as we had a great time. I had never been to the conference before and being more of a wall flower I was a little unsure about how I would find it. The boys were always going to arrive after me and so I had to put my big girl pants on and walk into the conference hotel on my own and navigate my way around until they got there. The main room was full to briming for the opening talk and that’s when I found out 450 people were there!

SurrogacyUK promotes friendship first and it really does feel like that. Everyone involved is incredibly friendly and supportive and you never feel as though you are alone on your journey. Throughout the day there were various workshops including those aimed at intended parents and surrogates. I was expecting to see a lot more surrogates there (there must have only been around 40 of us) but it was interesting to hear about their experiences. I still find it hard to believe that people don’t take the time to share their deal breakers or have the serious talks with each other until quite far down the line and this ends a lot of teams. There have even been occasions where surrogates haven’t felt able to have a say in how they give birth even though SurrogacyUK would always promote that those decisions should be down to the surrogate. I feel lucky knowing that as a team we have discussed everything, and that Ali & Andrew trust me.

One thing that I found interesting was when they discussed children’s involvement in surrogacy journeys and how to make them feel included. I definitely feel as though my girls knowing that I am hoping to help create a baby for Ali & Andrew and how that works is the right thing. However, none of us had really considered our children’s role throughout the pregnancy and so now we have thought of ways for them to feel involved such as attending scans if possible, recording scans/baby’s heartbeat and I always thought it would be nice for my girls to be aware of the stages of the pregnancy even just down to telling them how big the baby is each week and any milestones.

The conference was quite emotional as it touched on loss, but it was also emotional when other teams shared their journeys with everybody. It is so heart-warming to hear such positive journeys and the incredible friendships that have come out of this and that continue years after the surrogate baby has been born. I went into this thinking that I would help to create a baby and that would be it…never did I imagine that I could end up making some amazing friends and extending our family.

Who knows how our lives will have changed by next years conference??   

Kindness makes the world go round…

I have been incredibly touched by all the love and kindness that I have received since having my miscarriage. I never expected so many messages of love and support which despite making me tearful also made a heart-breaking experience more bearable.

It goes to show how much difference people can make to our lives and sometimes all it takes is a few kind words, letting someone know you are thinking of them or any act of kindness.

I think I still had it in my head that it would be something that I would have to go through on my own and try to think of in quite a clinical sense in order to cope and move forward but, the past few days have proven to me that I am not on my own and that there are people around me who care.

It dawned on me that the reason I felt as though I would be pretty much on my own is because that is how it felt when I was going through all the trauma after the domestic abuse. Don’t get me wrong I had a couple of people who were amazing, but they also found it hard too and had their lives to live.

I then realised that my life is very different now, I have managed to open up my life to new experiences and new people and so even if I don’t always realise, I do have people that have come into my life since and these people are genuine, caring, and lovely.

Sometimes I maybe still don’t realise, as pretty much everyone disappeared out of my life back then when the going got tough.

It takes seconds to get in touch with someone, but we don’t always realise how much it can mean to someone and what a difference it can make.

In a time when someone is feeling sad or going through a difficult time it can shine a light and suddenly things don’t always feel so bad.

As I write this, I can’t help but smile as I look at the bunches of flowers lined up on my windowsill…aside from liking flowers anyway, they are a reminder of peoples love and kindness.

In the days following my miscarriage Ali & Andrew rang me everyday to check in on me which always made me smile and I thought it was very sweet of them. I had people telling me to take care of myself, to rest and take it easy…those people who know me, know I am not good always very good at that.

I can feel a sense of guilt when I am not filling my time with what I deem to be productive, but I know that self-care is necessary. So, I am working on allowing myself to rest and relax as well as letting others take care of me without feeling bad.

Without people’s kindness I know I would have got through this eventually but my goodness I cannot tell you how much difference it has made, feeling loved and supported. I suppose it feels as though you are not alone and the image I have in my head is being surrounded with people who are holding you up.

I really believe that kindness does make the world go around and that we can never truly know what a difference it can make but no doubt it will only make someone feel better, loved and that they are not alone.

Thank you to everyone who has been there for me, I really appreciate it and it has made these last few days easier. I feel incredibly lucky to have such lovely people in my life.

Surrogacy part 12…

So, the past few weeks have certainly felt like a rollercoaster ride.

After our 1st go at trying to conceive, I spent the following 10 days thinking about nothing else and analysing how I was feeling to the point where I drove myself bonkers! I kept reading about early symptoms and when was the earliest I could take a pregnancy test. I got that fidgety that I started testing ridiculously early even though I knew I could be pregnant, but it wouldn’t show up yet.

Then on day 10 I did another test and on seeing one line I threw it away but something in my head made me get it back out a bit later and there it was…a second line.

I remember standing there in shock, shaking with shiny eyes and I’ll never forget Ali & Andrews reaction to the news.

We were all on a high and I felt a huge sense of relief particularly as being pregnant explained how I had been feeling over the past few days.

I was feeling nauseous, exhausted, had that pulling feeling in my stomach amongst other symptoms and then a few days ago the nausea disappeared which I just put down to the fact that symptoms can come and go. On top of that my back pain eased, I stopped needing the toilet every 2 minutes and something felt different but again I shrugged it off.

Then a few days later I noticed a little bit of old blood and felt concerned but everything I read suggested it was normal and could be implantation bleeding or to do with hormones. Later that day I spotted a small amount of fresh blood and the panic set in. A few hours later I started cramping and had back pain and that’s when more blood came. At this point I knew I was having a miscarriage.

As I sit here writing this, I am holding back the tears…there is no other word to describe it other than shit. It’s a really shit thing for anyone to go through no matter how many weeks pregnant someone is, and I only imagine it is even shittier later in pregnancy.

The hardest part of it all was telling Ali & Andrew…it broke my heart to have to tell them as it was their future baby. Of course, they were sad but equally they have been absolutely amazing, so incredibly supportive and kind. They reassured me that it’s fairly common and that it wasn’t my fault. I knew this but I imagine a lot of women in this position blame themselves…did I do something wrong? What could I have done differently?

I never imagined that I would have a miscarriage and it has been hard.

There is not enough support available nor enough information out there. The NHS website suggests that some women may not even know they’ve had a miscarriage and that some may have some bleeding and period like pain but it’s only when you go onto the Miscarriage Association website that you find out that it can be very painful and that you can even have contractions.

I had no idea, I thought you bled a bit and that it may be uncomfortable but that it would be short lived. I never expected to be in so much pain, at one point I was doubled over unable to move whilst tears ran down my face. The pain and bleeding haven’t stopped yet, but it can last for a couple of weeks.

I was shocked that there isn’t really any recognition of miscarriages in terms of support particularly in the workplace. I imagine most women feel compelled to go to work possibly whilst they are still having a miscarriage because there aren’t any real guidelines. Do you call in sick? Do you make something up? Most people won’t have told their employer they’re pregnant and may not want them to know.

Again, it was only when I read on the Miscarriage Association website that you can have time off work for as long as you need and that you can be signed off with pregnancy-related sickness. It should be recorded separately and may not be used against the employee, for disciplinary or redundancy purposes or as part of an appraisal and there is no time limit on sickness absence after a miscarriage.

I thought that I would feel fine after a couple of days but soon realised this isn’t the case and so I have given myself some time to recover physically and emotionally.

I have never experienced so much love and support from people…every time someone sends their love or says how sorry they are I have to stop myself from crying.

I like to think of myself as a strong independent woman, yet I didn’t have the strength to stop Ali & Andrew rallying around after me…cooking, cleaning, pampering me etc and it was lovely to be looked after.

I feel lucky to have people around me who are checking up on me, offering to help and being there for me. I’m not sure I could have gone through it on my own. I’m incredibly grateful for their love and support.

I’m hoping that I will soon feel like myself again but I’m also mindful to be kind to myself.

Words cannot describe how someone must feel when they go through this, and it is upsetting to think that there is pressure to brush it off…the good old stiff upper lip.

I considered hiding it from people and coming up with another reason for why I am not my usual sparkly self and I thought, no, I don’t feel the need to lie, women go through this all the time yet it’s something that isn’t spoke about a lot and some people may not understand but actually in my experience everyone has been lovely.

I hope that anyone else who has been through this has been able to reach out to others for support, felt able to talk about it and been kind to themselves.

It’s at times like this that we need a bit of love and TLC.

Defences…

Lately I have been pondering on our defence mechanisms and what makes our guard go up or push people away.

To some extent our brains are wired to protect ourselves and that is why we have our fight or flight mode. For some situations it is fairly self-explanatory why we may go into fight or flight mode such as when faced with danger.

However, there are times when we go into this mode, and we may not even know why or may not even realise we have gone into fight or flight mode. So why is this?

Sometimes we may have triggers that we are not aware of and so if they are set off then our brains may go into autopilot before we even realise. It’s possible that we may never know what triggered us or the realisation may come with reflection.

When it comes to our defences and pushing people away, this can be for various reasons, again knowingly or unknowingly.

We may choose to push people away as we no longer want them in our lives, or we may do it out of fear. This could be a fear of history repeating itself, fear of not being good enough or fear of letting our guard down enough to allow ourselves the chance of true happiness.

Being pushed away through no fault of your own, no matter what the reason behind it, can be incredibly hard and upsetting because ultimately you can’t help but take it personally even if it’s not. Even if you are able to understand the reasons behind why you were pushed away, the hurt it causes can run deep.

Communicating our fears or admitting our ‘faults’ or mistakes takes a lot of strength and can be incredibly hard, particularly if you are scared of the outcome. Being able to realise these fears or ‘faults’ is one of the biggest steps and then being able to voice these with those we love is an even bigger step to take.

I admire people who are able to acknowledge and own their thoughts and feelings and who feel able to share these with those that mean the world to them.

However, I believe it takes a lot for someone to be able to stay in someone’s life when they have been pushed away, (even if it was done subconsciously or through fear) and even if they know why they were wrongly pushed away.

I hope and believe that if someone means enough to you and if you truly care about or love someone that they would want to stick around however hard or painful it may be, but equally I acknowledge that it can be hard to heal from painful experiences.

There is never an easy answer as we can only do what we feel is best for us, which can be hard as everyone has different opinions and sometimes we can be persuaded by others, particularly when we are unsure or scared of what to do.

I feel this is where we need to trust our instincts and follow our hearts as no one else has walked in your shoes or experienced your feelings or your connections.

I also believe that although we may meet many people in our lives that it is rare to find someone that you have a true connection with.

If you find someone that you feel completely safe with, who you can truly trust and who makes you feel like the most important person in the world, then they are worth fighting for.

Life can throw many curve balls at us but when we allow ourselves the chance to reflect and heal, then we are allowing ourselves the chance to let our guard down and allow ourselves the chance to be truly happy.

However, I know that it can be easier to protect ourselves for fear of history repeating ourselves.

In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take, relationships we were afraid to have and the decisions we waited too long to make.

Rainbows & Unicorns

It’s a sin

So nearly a year after It’s a Sin was released in the UK, I have finally watched it. For those of you who haven’t watched it, it’s a drama set in the 80’s in London about the lives of a group of gay men and their friends during the HIV/AIDS crisis.

To be honest I must have missed all the hype when it was released as I only recently heard about it but then again, this time last year, I had a lot of stressful things going on. I also wasn’t sure if it would be my cup of tea as I knew it was going to be sad and I often watch light-hearted programmes or comedies as a way of switching off. However, after being told how good it was, I braced myself for tears and gave it a go. Within minutes I was hooked and ended up binge watching the entire series!

I loved the characters and thought the actors were incredible, I loved the music and thought it was very well written. You had a sense of how much fun they had and the true friendships that were made during this time and I envied them. Don’t get me wrong I obvious don’t envy the darker side of the story, in fact I found it heart-breaking to watch.

This killer disease that seemed to appear out of nowhere that was only affecting gay men was bound to cause huge controversy for everybody. Like the character Ritchie (played by Olly Alexander) I can see how you wouldn’t believe it and would think it has been made up as a gay disease. However, very quickly it seemed to be affecting more and more people as friends and colleagues went home never to be seen again.

When one character, Colin (played by Callum Scott Howells), became ill it was devastating as he was such a shy and reserved man who had lived a more reserved life in comparison to his friends. I loved his Mum though who despite living in remote Wales and no doubt being even less aware of gay life she stood by him throughout his illness with absolutely no judgement, it was clear that she loved her son unconditionally.

Of course, I believe all parents should love their children unconditionally, but this isn’t the case and nor was it with Ritchie’s Mum who prevented him from being with his friends and boyfriend whilst he was dying despite him asking for him and even worse, he died on his own. Quite rightly Jill who was his best friend told Ritchie’s Mum that it was her fault that he was on his own when it died, and I can’t imagine the pain she must have felt knowing she was staying nearby at the time.

I thought Jill (played by Lydia West) was an amazing woman! She stood by all her friends, was an HIV/AIDS activist and spent a lot of time visiting gay men who were dying in hospital alone. I take my hat off to her. Jills character was based on the life of Jill Nalder who played Jills Mum Christine, in the series. I wonder how she felt filming the series, I imagine she may have found it rather emotional, but she made a massive difference to the lives of gay men and their families.

Unsurprisingly the first episode was watched by over 1.6 million viewers which shortly went up to more than 18.9 million. Which made it more surprising when I discovered that originally Channel 4 refused to produce it. To me, there’s nothing in the series that shouldn’t be watched by anyone…we’re in 2022 for goodness sake! Surely by now, everyone is aware of HIV/AIDS and different sexualities??

For anyone who still struggles to get their head around sexuality other than heterosexuality, it isn’t a choice, no matter what you believe. Just like our eye colour, ethnicity and skin colour, sexuality is not a choice, it’s who we are. The only reason people may question or fight it is due to fear. Fear of judgement, fear of losing ‘friends’ or ‘family’, fear of never having children.

The best thing we can do for future generations is to normalise different sexualities from birth so that they are aware of it and know it’s accepted. Surely the most important thing is for our children to feel loved and supported no matter who they are.

‘It’s the season of love and understanding…’

It’s one of my favourite times of the year and so much more magical having 2 little girls who believe in the magic of Santa!

We’ve been singing and dancing to Christmas songs for the past few weeks and our favourites include Last Christmas, All I want for Christmas is you and Merry Christmas Everyone!!

However, I have often felt that the build up to Christmas starts earlier every year and by November everywhere you turn you will see or hear something to do with Christmas. Most adverts on television are to do with Christmas, there are Christmas songs playing wherever you go, and people are posting about all their festive plans on social media.

Now whilst I do love Christmas, I can’t help but feel that with all this comes a certain amount of pressure or expectations about what you should be doing at Christmas, how much you should spend on food and presents and this idea that everyone is surrounded by large family and continual social gatherings. Whilst this may be true for some, it certainly isn’t true for everyone.

This time of year may be hard for some people due to varying circumstances…. not everyone can afford a luxury Christmas and there will be parents who hope that their children aren’t hoping for an expensive present from Santa. There will be those who don’t have family or friends, those who may have lost loved ones or who can’t go and be with their loved ones.

Yet for those people they can’t avoid Christmas (well not easily) even if they wanted to. It is all to easy to get wrapped up in our own busyness after all most of us have lots of things to do at this time of year on top of all the usual jobs.

However, it’s worth taking a minute to think about those who may not be looking forward to Christmas and take the time to reach out to them. You’d be surprised at what could make a difference to someone and how a small act of kindness can mean a lot to someone. It could be something as small as smiling at someone, wishing them a Merry Christmas, sending someone a message to let them know that you are thinking of them, asking if there’s anything you can do, posting someone a card or giving someone a gift.

I also feel that it is important to never assume that people are busy or that you would be disturbing them or that you are too busy to find time to check in on someone. I would imagine that something as simple as sending someone a message will always be appreciated, even if you don’t get a reply and we all know how easy and quick it is to send messages these days. In less than the time it takes to make a drink you can send someone a message.

I am surprised and somewhat saddened that Covid appears to have divided people more than brought people together and that there seems to be less of a community spirit. We never know what is going on for someone and now more than ever I believe it is important to look out for one another. I don’t like to think of anyone feeling sad or finding life hard and although I know that I can’t change peoples lives, I like to try and do what I can to at least put a smile on someone’s face.

What means the most to me at this time of year is spending time with loved ones…there were so many Christmases where I didn’t get that opportunity so now, I make the most of it.

So, whilst you’re putting your feet up with a glass of something or in the middle of baking yet another batch of mince pies, it would be nice to consider those around you or to check in on that friend or family member who may not be finding the festive period as fun and exciting.

In the words of Shakin’ Stevens, ‘it’s the season of love and understanding, Merry Christmas everyone!’

Birthday…

So last week was my birthday and I wasn’t particularly excited about it as I didn’t have anything exciting planned (and I wasn’t keen on hitting 35!).

However, I woke up to discover it was snowing and it looked beautiful as the snowflakes were falling and I couldn’t help thinking that it was my Grandads way of saying Happy Birthday as he knew how much I love snow. It’s been years since its snowed on my birthday, so it felt rather special. Before it was time to do the school run there was just about enough snow to have a snowball fight with my girls which was a giggle although despite it being Mummy’s birthday, they both still got me!!!

Then I had 2 clients to see but I knew that we can’t always have our birthday off, I guess I have been spoilt in recent years having not worked since I was pregnant with my eldest daughter. I couldn’t help recalling 2 years ago when I woke up in a lovely hotel in Prague where I was served prosecco with my breakfast and last year despite being in ‘tiers’ we still made the most of it by going to the beach and paddling!

However, as I drove back from seeing my clients, I couldn’t help but feel honoured to be training to be a counsellor. One of my clients had shared something with me that they had never felt able to share with anyone before and I was incredibly touched and honoured. Some of my peers from my course said that they would have been honest with their clients and told them it was their birthday but I’m not one for drawing attention to myself and I wouldn’t have wanted it to affect their session e.g., if they then felt unable to share anything less than pleasant.

My day was broken up by having a birthday lunch with my Mum which was lovely as I don’t often get chance to spent quality time with her without my girls.

I then had to go to college which I wasn’t thrilled by purely as this meant that I wouldn’t see my girls as they would be asleep by the time, I got home but being the big kid that I am I decided to have a birthday tea the following day…mainly so that my girls could blow out candles! A few of us managed to sneak away early from college and went into a tipi bar for a couple of drinks which was a lovely way to end the day.

My eldest daughter kept asking how old I was, and she rolled her eyes every time I tried to convince her I was 8 or 21 as she didn’t believe me!! So, once she knew I was 35 she was determined to put 35 candles in the cake!! Fortunately, my Mum convinced her not to put that many candles in the cake but there must have been more than 20!!

If it wasn’t enough that my daughter kept asking how old I was my wonderful best friend (are you sensing the sarcasm?!) kept rubbing it in that I was now a year older than her (for the next 6 months) and that I was now in my MID thirties meanwhile she is still in her early thirties!!! Fortunately, we have known each other that long that we can take the mickey out of each other and know that we love each other really.

So, all in all it was a lovely birthday and I felt very lucky to have some special people in my life!

Making memories…

I am currently on holiday with my little girls and with it being the last holiday before my eldest daughter starts school, I am focused even more than ever on cherishing every minute and making memories as a family. Of course, there will be plenty more opportunities to do this throughout their childhood, this feels like a momentous moment before one of my eldest’s first big milestones in life.

For my girls, this week marks more cherished moments together as well as a family. I love nothing more than seeing the smiles on their faces, hearing them giggling and seeing how carefree and happy they are. They are both still so innocent and that is priceless.

Sometimes I wish I could record every moment of their lives so that I could remember every moment because it goes so fast. They are both growing up so quickly and becoming unique individuals.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just press pause sometimes to hold on to the here and now?!

Being away gives us the chance to fully embrace time together without all the distractions of everyday life from the phone calls to the washing up, washing, shopping, cooking, cleaning…the list goes on.

I know I say ‘in a minute’ or ‘Mummy’s busy’ far too often to my girls when I am trying to prepare tea and put the washing out and wash up all at the same time or similar daily chores.

However, I can’t beat myself up about it because I also know how much quality time my girls do get with me. Not a night goes by without me reading them a bedtime story, singing to them, and giving them oodles of cuddles and love.

You can’t put a price on the love you feel as a mother and being able to have time away with them is incredibly special.

Despite taking some photo’s, I’ve not taken 1000’s because it’s also been nice to not have to carry my phone with me all the time and instead of taking photos to capture our holiday and memories, having the memories just for myself.

Making memories with those that you love and treasure …is incredibly precious. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg or involve anything extravagant, just spending time doing something fun together is all that matters.

Some of the best memories so far this week have included going on adventures without clock watching and being able to fully embrace those moments, whilst having both girls holding my hands, knowing that it won’t be that long in the scheme of things before they won’t want to hold my hand anymore.

Having people in your life that you can laugh with, be silly with, have fun with and share a hug with are those that matter most!

I can’t remember the last time I was able to take the girls away on my own for a week, it was definitely pre-Covid!

So far, it has been amazing, we have made lots of memories and I am looking forward to more holidays with the most precious little people in my world!

The best man in the world…

This week marks 6 years since I lost the most precious and amazing man in my life….my Grandad. We were incredibly close, and he was the only man in my life, in many respects he was a father figure as well as a Grandfather.

I have so many happy memories of him…

He always always shared everything he ate with me; I think it was one of his ways of showing his love and affection. Like a mother bird feeding a baby bird! And of course, his food always tasted better than mine even if it was the same! From giving me a quarter of his toasted tea cake to tearing a packet fully open so we could share his Walkers prawn cocktail crisps!

As a little girl he took me everywhere with him on the back of his bicycle and I often joined him in the village when he went for his morning coffee.

He introduced me to a British comedy classic – Fawlty Towers and did a very good impression of Basil Fawlty! We must have watched every episode of Dad’s Army and we often used one of its famous sayings…’Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring!’

Every time I saw him, we had to do the crossword together out the newspaper or the word wheel and of course play at least one game of scrabble with a cup of tea and a rich tea biscuit or two!

My Grandad had a great sense of humour and in his later years used to great me by honking a bicycle horn he kept on his table.

His house was always immaculate (as was he) and he could spot a crumb, dirt, or speck of dust a mile off! I take my hat off to him for his dedication to keeping his house so spotless especially cleaning the washing machine after every use (I don’t think I’ve ever cleaned the washing machine!).

He was a keen gardener and took pride in his garden which included keeping his hedges trimmed and if one little shoot appeared out of place it would get snipped! He even trimmed a bush into the shape of a rabbit which remained by his front door all those years.

I love the fact that he would never leave the house without his favourite aftershave on, his hair sprayed and without smart trousers, a shirt, tie, and traditional jacket.

He cycled everywhere until he could no longer, and you knew when he had arrived at the house from the sound of his bell!

My fasciation of World War II and the Titanic come from my Grandad as does my love of Malta as he often went there, and I was lucky enough to go with him. This is one of the reasons that me and my Mum want to go back.

My Grandad was incredibly loving, kind, generous and had a heart of gold. In all honesty I do not think he had a bad bone in his body and never recall him ever getting angry. His love was without a doubt completely unconditional.

I am so lucky to have had him in my life and only wish that he could have met my girls as I know he would have adored them as would they. He was an amazing Grandad and would have been an equally amazing Great-Grandad.

Over the past few years, I have reminisced and carried guilt about things I could have done differently or wishing I had spent more time with him or told him I loved him more, but I know that I cannot undo the past.

If I had had a boy, I always wanted to name them after him but as I had two girls, I decided to pay tribute to him and so my youngest daughters middle name is Josephine (as my Grandad was Joseph).

Every time I see a robin, I think it’s my Grandad who has come to say hello (I know no everyone will believe in this but each to their own) and so I will say hello!

I still miss him very much, but I have lots of happy memories to share with my girls and they will grow up knowing all about him and of course they will learn how to play Scrabble!  

Scrabble!