No Parent is an Island

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‘How can someone who is never alone feel lonely?’

 

There has been much talk recently about the subject of loneliness amongst mothers, particularly new mothers. It is an important subject and one which is rightfully getting air time. After the initial fuss – the excitement, the visitors, the interest – tails off,  reality kicks in. Partners – if there is one – go back to work and the mother embarks on a new normality with her baby. Often, especially in those early weeks, this will be spent in the home trying to make sense of this new world order, trying to interpret those screams, trying to understand baby’s needs, and trying not to feel completely out of one’s depth. It is a scary time, and a lonely one too.

 

I certainly recall feeling isolated at times during those early months. This was for two reasons. Firstly because of my own – incorrect – perceptions. I believed I wasn’t that good at the job, that everyone else was a better mother than me, that I was an impostor into the role. This was despite the evidence to the contrary – my daughter was thriving, she was happy, healthy and flourishing. Yet I was still hung up on an inferiority complex which made me feel isolated – because, surely every other mum knew exactly what she was doing at all times, right?

 

The other reason for my sense of isolation was that my husband and I did things slightly differently. After a few months, I returned to work and my other half took Shared Parental Leave. For us, it was the right choice and we both benefitted from building our own bonds with our beautiful daughter. There was though an element of isolation in what we did for each of us. This was due to some of the responses we got from others, and I also had a sense of not quite fitting in:  I felt like I was half in the work world, half in the parenting world and at times, I felt isolated.

 

But what helped me were the kind words of friends who were also mums. When they told me ‘you’re doing a great job’ or ‘your baby’s such a happy baby because of you’ my spirits soared. And with each positive comment, my confidence started to build and those self-imposed perceptions started to crumble until eventually I started to see things differently. I was doing fine. I was a good mother. What I learnt from that experience was the importance of a gentle, thoughtful word for a mother – it can empower, support and inspire self-belief. I purposefully want to encourage other mums with my words.

 

The other thing that helped, unexpectedly, was feedback I received online. I started to share my thoughts and experiences in a series of posts and some of the supportive opinions shared made me realise: I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. Lots of parents struggle with a sense of being torn between our varying roles and responsibilities – and, however we parent, we are all doing our absolute best.

 

Isolation and loneliness can really challenge mothers, and indeed, fathers, particularly at a time when they may already be feeling vulnerable and emotional. We can all help to overcome this by supporting each other so we as parents know: I’m not on my own.

This first appeared on http://www.meetothermums.com

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The Woman Who Disappeared

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I had disappeared. And I didn’t know where I might be found.

‘I just want to feel like me again,’ I said, tearfully, two weeks into motherhood. Perhaps a wander out alone might help? But the half hour spent loitering without purpose at the shops just left me feeling anxious. As I meandered the aisles, I felt bereft, as if part of me was missing. Who was this impostor purporting to be me? The woman I had known before would never have felt a lump form in her throat over such an innocuous task as choosing a shower gel.

‘Starting to look like me again,’ I said as aesthetically I took control with straighteners and eyeliner and mascara. But even the successful donning – albeit with effort – of a once favoured pair of jeans, rediscovered after nine months without wear, didn’t bring me back. The person I saw in the mirror, staring intently as if searching for recognition, was a stranger.

‘An evening out will do me good. Like old times.’ But old times had never been like this. My eyes fixed to the screen of my phone, wondering if it was too soon to call again, before flickering briefly away to my watch, silently willing the dinner to be served quickly and bring about a swift conclusion to the evening. And the wine, which used to make me giggly and chatty and merry and glad, just made me feel tired, and more than a little despondent.

‘It will be nice to get back to normal.’ Yet this felt anything but. The once familiar seat, the desk still piled with notes scribbled in my handwriting, the keyboard upon which my hands used to dance easily, felt alien. How can just a few months create such a distance?

I didn’t feel like me anymore.

And then I realised: this was me now.

The person I had been before had gone and she was never coming back. How could she? Where once I had carried my heart around in me, now it existed outside, encapsulated in my precious daughter. And nothing would ever be the same again, not now I had the consciousness of my child with me at all times. I would always be checking my phone, thinking about her, worrying about her, missing her and carrying her with me. Which meant that never again would I feel as I once had. Whatever I was doing, be it working, socialising, or simply going about the mundane chores of my daily life. This search for me was fruitless as that ‘me’ didn’t exist anymore.

This is me. And as soon as I recognised this fact, I could stop looking and relax, accepting myself for who I was now without worry or fear or regret. I didn’t mourn the loss of the person who had gone before, the person who had disappeared forever in the moment my daughter was born, though I was glad that she had existed. This now, this person, was who I was always meant to be; mother, above all else, at the core of who I am. All the other things that used to define me – work, play, likes, dislikes – were still there, just less important.

I’m not searching anymore for that woman. I don’t need to.

Because this is me, now.

The Pramshed
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2016: Take The Good With You

 

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And so it turns out that the smouldering embers of 2016 still have power to burn. That even in these dwindling days, there is still time to heap more sadness upon a brow-beaten people. The death of a beloved musical icon, a tragedy amplified by the fact that it occurred on Christmas Day – what should be the happiest day of the year – is rendered even more poignant by the subsequent tales of his generosity and humanity. What a legacy to leave.

 

This, and the other recent celebrity deaths, appear to pile misery upon misery. This year, no doubt, has witnessed the loss of a number of people who touched the lives of many others. They made an impact, be it through music or film or service for others, or just by the sheer force of their personality,  and their loss has been felt keenly with fitting posthumous tributes; one hopes that they knew of the esteem within which they were held during their – sometimes short – lifetimes.

 

But it’s not just the deaths, as tragic as they have been. In 2016, our screens have been filled with scenes of human suffering, almost too horrific to fathom. Then there has been the hate, the vitriol, spoken and written, which has underlined deep divisions within society. And politically, wherever you sat, campaigns and debates often got ugly. Indeed, the EU Referendum felt like a deeply unpleasant experience, setting families and friends on opposing sides, creating rifts and anger.

 

So no wonder that people are talking about 2016 as the worst year ever. It’s no surprise that people are looking over the horizon to 2017, and the potential for a brighter tomorrow. There is a sense that the world will exhale a collective breath of relief as midnight comes around on 1st January.

 

All understandable; this year has been strange. Odd. Scary. Sad. I suspect in the future, my daughter will be taught about the events of this year in school. But to me it feels wrong to reduce a whole twelve months to just a few words, just a ‘terrible’ year. Because to summarise 366 days in this way negates all of the good, all of the happy that there has been.

 

And it has been there. The tales of heroism, like the Brownlee brothers embodying what it means to be family. Or the outpouring of love and support, in the form of more than 250,000 Christmas cards, for a little boy with terminal cancer. Or the fundraising for Stand Up To Cancer or Children in Need, people putting their hand in their pocket to help others.

 

It’s been there in our own lives too. In the big things, like getting a gorgeous new nephew to love. And it’s been there too in the small things, the everyday things. The reassuring grip of a baby’s hand around the finger. A thoughtful text sent on a long day. A compliment about an outfit, the one you weren’t sure about but now you’re so glad that you wore.

 

Yes, this year has been replete with sadness, tragedy, hurt and pain. But there has also been love and joy and fun and laughter.We need to look for the light because it’s there. And so, as the year draws to a close, take from it the memories that made you smile, the feelings that lifted your soul; those are the things to treasure.

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Rediscovering the Magic of Christmas

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We had become jaded, the two of us. The cost, the stress, the hassle. The overindulgence and the nauseating hangovers. The songs which jarred, the garish decorations, the embarrassing jumpers. The joy of giving, which could only be achieved via a painful, directionless, bad-tempered shopping trip. The warm fuzzy feeling, all too fleeting, replaced swiftly by a lingering guilt over excessive spending. The pleasure of a full tummy, accompanied by a wistful remark about ‘three hours cooking for twenty minutes eating.’ And once the main day was at an end, we’d be itching to get back to normal.

 

Christmas wasn’t what it used to be.

 

But then you came along.

 

And suddenly, it’s different.

 

Your sweet-sounding ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’ of excitement as you haphazardly pull back the window on your advent calendar. Each day you are even more happy than before to discover your chocolate treat, the smile upon your face as broad as if you have stumbled upon a great treasure. Your energetic moves to the Christmas songs on the radio, your knees bending in time with the music. You have no self-consciousness as you shake your limbs clumsily; you care not a jot who’s watching. The way you point to the lights. ‘There,’ you say for emphasis, in case we’ve missed the glimmering beams which cut through the gloom. Your first taste of a mince pie, the way you screw up your face in distaste before deciding that actually, it wasn’t so bad after all and yes please to another bite. The way you stare transfixed at the snow globe upon the shelf, your eyes wide at the tiny winter scene playing out within.  And your first meeting with Father Christmas, a bemused visit, but the present he gives you so very well received. You tear at the paper with an urgency, an eagerness to get to the cuddly toy within which makes you grin cheekily.

 

And as we watch you, the joy, the excitement, the curiosity dancing in your eyes, your emotions spread to us by osmosis. Our hearts leap like yours at the sight of a beautifully decorated tree. We open our mouths and let our voices ring out to join in a festive song, whilst you babble along contentedly. We excitedly write our Christmas cards, a task made even more special by the fact that they have been ‘designed’ by you. And we look forward to the 25th with joyful, almost childlike anticipation, knowing that that date will bring a beautiful perspective as we watch the festivities unravel through your eyes.

 

You’ve given us back the magic. You’ve reminded us that the season isn’t all about the shopping, the spending, the cooking, the cleaning, the task. Rather it’s about the laughing, the playing, the dancing, the singing, the loving, the feeling. You’ve given us a joyful gift – the gift of feeling young and carefree again. As we watch you, we are transported back to our own childhoods; every now and then, we will catch a faraway look in each other’s eyes, and as our vision fogs, we are reliving the same feelings that you, our darling daughter, are experiencing now.

 

But, the magic isn’t just for Christmas; it’s for life. It’s in the ordinary every day. It’s in your first bite of cake, a delicious treat to be discovered. It’s in the way you look on in awe at the bubbles we blow together. It’s in the way you kick out your feet excitedly as you fly high upon a swing.  It’s in the way we pull funny faces together in the mirror. It’s in the way we break into your favourite song in a busy restaurant, just to make you laugh. It’s in the way it feels to just live, without self-consciousness, without self-censorship, without fear of the judgement of others.

 

Being an adult is tough, and some days it can be lacking in joy. But you’ve helped us to rediscover the magic, the sense of wonderment that can be found in the simplest of things. Through your eyes, the world is a kaleidoscope of beauty.

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The Lies My Pregnant Self Told

 

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Look at her, all smug and deluded, completely unaware of what’s coming next….

 

 

That woman…the one with the huge, protruding bump, so enormous it looks as if it will cause her to topple over. That woman, with the beatific smile and the dreamy look in her eyes. That woman, who has just said to her friend, with a self-assured nonchalance: ‘I know it will be hard but I’m sure it won’t be that bad,’ a remark met by a knowing look, and an unspoken ‘you’ll see.’

 

That woman….she’s a fool. A fool who told herself lies.

 

And that fool…was me…..

 

  1. ‘It’ll be great having a baby in the summer. I’ll be able to sunbathe whilst the baby sleeps in her pram in the shade’.

Oh how I laugh bitterly at my pre-baby fantasises of a relaxing maternity leave, on a par with a break away. This lie was absolutely absurd on so many levels. Firstly, newborn babies do not sleep. At least not when you want them to. Secondly, take my child outside?! Are you joking?! It took us half the day to make it downstairs, a venture into the garden is completely beyond us. And even in the shade, my precious daughter is far too close to the perils of the sun – she’s best off right beside me, safely tucked away in the house where I can spend every waking moment keeping a beady eye on her. Besides, it’s pouring down with rain, as it does every year during our short window of ‘summer.’

 

  1. ‘Once we get her into a routine, after a couple of weeks….’

Routine? A couple of weeks? The level of delusion I was operating under was overwhelming.

 

  1. ‘I know baby’s nappies are pretty horrible but surely they can’t be that bad’.

Anyone who has experienced a teething induced nappy explosion which has necessitated an immediate bath knows that yes, they are that bad. And yes, it is incredible that someone that small and cute can produce a stench so horrific that it assaults your nasal passage with such ferocity that it makes your eyes water. They aren’t that bad. They are worse.

 

 

  1. ‘We’ll have a date night once a month and leave the baby with a family member’.

This would have worked beautifully were it not for a few extenuating conditions, including a complete unwillingness to leave my child with anyone else for the first few months. Then finally, when we eventually did get out for our first post-baby dinner, one glass of wine had me tumbling down in my chair, longing for my bed with a heartfelt yearning, and no desire to repeat the experience for a good year or two at least.

 

  1. ‘The house won’t be that messy. I’m not going to let it turn into a pig sty just because we have a child’.

My house is constantly in disarray. Toys are found in the most obscure of places, crumbs are in every crevice and a milk trail runs through the house as if a snail has been on the rampage. The best way to deal with it is not to attempt to tackle the mountain of mess, rather to just leave my glasses off. Things don’t look so bad when viewed through a blurry fog.

 

  1. ‘I’m going to be a strict parent. She’ll know who the boss is’.

‘What’s that darling? You want my phone. Here you go sweetheart. Yes, you’re right, it does make a very loud noise when banged against the door. Better give it to mummy though….yes, darling…give it to mummy – whoops! Oh no, you’ve broken it instead. Oh please don’t cry, I know you’re upset that mummy’s phone, I mean, your new toy, is broken. Oh don’t cry, here, have a chocolate button….’ (which leads me on to)

 

  1. My child won’t eat rubbish. It’s healthy stuff all the way.

I’ll be honest, there weren’t a lot of health giving properties in the crisps that I allowed my daughter to eat that morning at the airport when, brow beaten, I finally gave into her demands for the most unusual of brunches. And to be honest, the only fruit that might have been found had been squashed and fermented into my pre-flight glass of wine (I’m far from the best at flying.)

 

But, there was one truth I did tell myself.

  1. Everything will be ok.

It is.

I’ve got this.

Sort of.

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Winter, 2016

 

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Darkness envelops

A cloak of grey

Wrapped up in shade

Light pushed away.

 

Coldness permeates

A visible chill

Relentless, it has

Strength to instil.

 

Malaise lingers

An aura of gloom

A sense of foreboding

Of imminent doom.

 

But look for the light

Behind the cloud

A glimmer of sun

Upon us endowed.

 

Coolness dissipates

In an embrace

Soothing the soul

Warmth, to replace.

 

Happiness creeping

A tentative grin

Hate’s overcome

It’s love that will win.

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Self-Esteem: The Most Precious Gift of All

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A few weeks ago, we had our daughter’s 12-month assessment. It was the second one she’d had, the first having taken place a month or so earlier, but concluding unsatisfactorily when our little girl was deemed to have not met all the criteria. Fortunately, there was no such problem this time around. ‘She’s doing great,’ the health visitor announced kindly, going on to make reference to the areas where our girl hadn’t met the target last time.

 

As the lady spoke, as lovely as she was, I bristled with annoyance. Who was she to assess my daughter in this way, because she’d come to walking ‘later’, because she’d only recently learnt how to grip a pencil? Who was anyone to determine that these would be the measures of success for my beautiful child? What about the fact that she was now able to show love and would throw her arms around me spontaneously? What about the fact that she could laugh uproariously at her dad pretending to be The Gruffalo, her strong, powerful giggle reverberating around the room in joy? What about the fact that she was kind and would always try to share her meals with others? What about the fact that she could put a smile on anyone’s face within seconds of meeting her, and had brought more happiness into our lives than we could ever have envisaged? How did none of this count towards the whole, how come these weren’t considered when carrying out a review of my daughter’s first twelve months on earth? I appreciate that this was a developmental assessment to identify concerns but still, as a parent, it jarred.

 

Then later, I had another thought. And it was far more worrying:

 

This was only the start.

 

This was just the beginning of a lifetime of being assessed, of being reviewed against changing standards to determine whether my girl was ‘good enough’. It would be there in school, with tests and exams. She would have it in the workplace, when sitting nervously in interviews or stepping forward for promotion. She would experience it when applying for a loan, or mortgage. And she would even experience it in relationships, when prospective partners would assess her against their own set of personal expectations. This benchmarking, this being held up to scrutiny would be inevitable. It wouldn’t all be bad either; indeed, it could positively encourage and empower her. But without doubt, this process of assessment, at one year old, was just the start.

 

I can’t change that. But I can change how ‘being assessed’ impacts upon her as an individual.

 

And I can do that by helping to build her self-esteem. Since becoming a mother, I have come to the realisation that the best gift I can give my child is a belief in herself. This will make her resilient and able to deal with the tough times, but also humble and measured when celebrating success.

 

How to do this, however, is another question. Fair to say I’m no expert: some days it feels like I’m winging this parenting thing. But, I do have some thoughts about how I might be able to help her self-esteem to grow.

 

I can ask her questions and truly listen to her answers; that doesn’t mean I will always give her exactly what she wants but I can let her have her voice so that she feels valued. I can also ask her questions for her to answer herself; from my experience of coaching, I know that finding out you had the solution inside all along is incredibly empowering. I can also empower her by helping her to learn and increase her own capability; I can give her some responsibility, however small, so she feels equal. I can praise her, but not excessively, and I can distinguish feedback about what she has ‘done’ from her as a person. I can be careful about the labels I use and endeavour to not pigeonhole her as ‘sporty’, for example, as she may subsequently believe she will only get her worth from playing these roles. I can also try and watch the language I use around her so she doesn’t grow up with a negative self-image; this extends to how I talk about myself in front of her. But above all else, I can just love her, so she knows that she’s loved and loveable no matter what she does in life.

 

These ideas sound great in theory but implementing them will be a challenge. But I will try. Because I want my daughter to grow up knowing her value, her worth as a person, regardless of what feedback or purported ‘failures’ she endures in her life.  I want her to be proud of who she ‘is’ above what she ‘does.’ I want her, ultimately, to be happy.

The Pramshed
Hot Pink Wellingtons
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Empowering Men To Be Themselves

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The 19th November is International Men’s Day and if you’d have mentioned such a day to me a few years ago I would have probably – shamefully – rolled my eyes. Growing up in a gender that has historically and famously experienced bias might have made me wrongfully cynical. Today though, I truly believe that International Men’s Day matters because men matter.

 

Over the last few decades, some work has been done – with much, much more still to do – on redressing some of the imbalances that exist within society. As a woman, I have experienced some small progress like improvements to maternity leave and more recently, gender pay reporting. But somewhere along the line, it does feel to me that whilst society is gradually, slowly, evolving, our perception and expectation of the male role hasn’t. And for me, there are two very good reasons why we need to take a moment to think about men.

 

The first reason is mental health. It is a well-known fact that the biggest killer of young men is suicide. We need to find a way to reach out to men and empower them to talk about their mental wellbeing. We need to normalise these conversations, we need to destigmatise mental ill health amongst men and thankfully, some famous male stars have made great steps forward by talking openly about their own struggles. This work needs to continue until men realise that it’s ok to say ‘I’m not ok.’ Culturally, we also need to change our traditional perception of men as the strong ones, the ones who don’t cry, who don’t express how they feel – because what a huge expectation to operate under. We are all human, we all suffer, we all feel, and we should all be able do just that in a safe, supportive society.

 

The second reason is one close to my heart and it is the way that men are frequently treated as the lesser partner when it comes to parenthood. I have often said that parenting feels full of conscious and unconscious bias and inequality – and I say that because of my own personal experience which I have written about here. Whilst the law might have moved on, for example, with the introduction of Shared Parental Leave, mindsets still need to catch up. But it’s not just that. Advertisers frequently focus purely on selling to Mum, it’s often ‘mother and toddler’ group, and even the experience of having a baby can be exclusive of the father. I remember when we had our daughter, I was allowed cups of tea, but my husband, who had not slept for 36 hours like me and who then stayed awake watching our baby all night so I could sleep, was completely ignored. I appreciate that I was the one who had given birth but my husband was there with me every step of the way. I know that women generally still do play the main parenting role, sometimes, incredibly strongly, completely alone. But, there has been a discernible shift. And this will continue, with more and more men assuming the main carer role. There has been some progress already but there is definitely room for more equality.

 

Men should be equal. Women should be equal. After all, we are all just people, people who have a right to be here and to live our lives as we want. And why on earth shouldn’t we empower each other to do just that?

 

 

 

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The (Commercial) Meaning of Christmas

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The nation held a collective baited breath. Weeks, if not months of waiting had come down to this. It was a pivotal moment for the country, and one upon which so much hope and anticipation was riding – the risk of disappointment was enormous. Finally, at last, here it was….

 

The John Lewis Christmas ad premiered on television.

 

And the result? A huge outpouring of delight across traditional and online media. The advert became the story itself – and even reached my news feed from Italian and American news forums which I follow. It was a story with a happy ending: the world might be going to hell in a handcart but thank goodness the retail giant had delivered a suitably heart-warming commercial.

 

The John Lewis ad isn’t alone and the other big retailers are also proudly showing off their glitzy or thought-provoking, uplifting or moving adverts which can’t help but make people feel good. The festive spirit is in abundance.

 

Now, here’s the thing, and at risk of being named and shamed as a social pariah – I find the whole Christmas ad thing a little…odd. Whilst undeniably creative tours de force, mini movies which can make us smile or laugh or cry – indeed the Sainsbury’s one from a few years ago which was set in No Man’s Land made me sob – I feel a bit uncomfortable about the whole thing. And I guess my discomfort can be summed up thus: here we have huge, commercial businesses, spending vast amounts of money in an effort to encourage us to spend vast amounts of money with them – and in the process, they are laying claim to being our moral conscience.

 

Since when did we start looking to these massive retailers to set the tone for Christmas, to remind us of the true nature of the season? Which they do. And they do it well – as anyone who saw the heartbreaking German advert last year which showed how a grandfather had to pretend to die just to get his family to come to him for Christmas lunch. The ad, which looked like a trailer for a Hollywood movie, was actually an ad campaign for a supermarket chain.

 

For whatever reason, these companies, with their powerful, evocative ad campaigns now occupy a unique position in the run up to Christmas. We are looking to them to take a festive lead, and to remind us just what ‘it’s all about.’ But with such a position comes great responsibility. And I think that these retailers have a great opportunity to make even more of an impact than they already do.

 

Because here’s a radical idea: if they truly want to take a lead, to make a difference then why not ditch the glitzy advertising and instead contribute a large percentage of the ad budget to charity? Why not invest in community projects or activities which can benefit many, many people in a sustainable way, leaving a legacy long after the last piece of turkey has been eaten, months after the decorations have been packed away for another year? What an incredible message to send out – and we need this now, more than ever. The country is divided, there are millions of people who could never afford to shop at M & S for their Christmas lunch or House of Fraser for a handbag for mum. But running a cheaper ad campaign and donating to charity a big proportion instead could be much more inclusive, much more meaningful – and could bring this divided nation together under the true spirit of Christmas. I don’t shop in any store because of an ad – but I would purposefully shop in a store if it made a stand in this way.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Scrooge at all and I do enjoy many of these Christmas commercials. I do recognise that the remit of these ads goes well beyond a more traditional ad – and I am aware what a lift Buster the Boxer gave a day after the shocking US election results. I am also well aware that many of the retailers donate to charity through their Christmas campaigning – for example, Sainsbury’s sold chocolate bars with profits going to the Royal British Legion. Yet, I think these influential organisations have a real opportunity. And how incredible would it be if these retailers used the power they have in a slightly different way to benefit many, many more people. That, for me, would be a true example to us all.

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Lessons From My Daughter

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In all your beautiful newness, your freshness tangible, I feel daunted by the task ahead. As I look upon your face, your eyelids flickering uncertainly, I realise that there is so much you need to learn. Lying in my arms, so helpless and fragile, I promise to be your guide upon the journey to becoming you. And I think: there are so many things that I must teach you.

 

But the truth is, you are the one who has taught me.

 

You have taught me to be brave. Together we have travelled through fraught days and anxiety-filled nights when your daddy and I have tried desperately to decipher your needs and wants which you have frustratingly vocalised in an earth-trembling scream or a cry of disgruntlement. And for each need met, for each sob stopped, for each flicker of contentment, my fear has diminished and my courage has started to build, piece by piece.  Until now when I go forward confidently, bravely, unafraid of the concerns that used to consume me.

 

You’ve helped me to discover what matters in my world. Your arrival has reordered my priorities and what once held great significance now seems irrelevant. The material concerns, the worries about perceptions, the things connected to my ego no longer hold my attention as once they did. It is those priceless moments, those parts of my life which can’t be quantified, which have shifted to the front of my focus. You’ve reminded me that richness isn’t always monetary.  

 

You have changed how I view myself. You’ve shown me that thinking about how I might appear to the world aesthetically is pointless and meaningless. And when I look upon my less than flat tummy, I view it with pride – after all, it is a thing of beauty because it carried you.

 

You have taught me to listen to myself. Because of you I have found my voice and dared to use it. You have helped my esteem to flower and grow into a positive force within me. Because from that early, scary, start when I was stumbling in the dark, I have learnt that I do know what to do – once I started to believe in myself, the answers became obvious.  

 

You’ve empowered me to always be honest. Since there has been you, I have realised that I want to be your role model, to always live my life with integrity. No more do I hide away my hopes and dreams, my thoughts and ideas. Now I aspire to always live truthfully in the aspiration that this will reflect upon you and you will feel, in turn, able to do the same.

 

You’ve showed me how strong I can be. That even at the end of those days beset by exhaustion and confusion, you’ve helped me to discover a hitherto hidden power to carry on. For you I burrow deep and scour those reserves to keep on keeping on. I know that inside me is a potency which has been gifted to me by you; it is a maternal strength which will keep me fighting on, always.

 

You have revealed to me the amount of empathy I have within. You have made me think kindly more often, and in thoughtfulness of the emotions that others may be enduring.  Because of you I try to reach out in consideration more, in appreciation of the challenges and concerns people may be enduring.

 

You’ve shown me how to have so much fun. Pure, unadulterated, innocent fun which fills me with a soul-lifting joy. Whether it’s Daddy and I holding your hands whilst you dance to the theme tune of your favourite television programme, or singing nursery rhymes in public, you have given me a youthful playfulness I thought had been lost forever, pushed away by the overbearing responsibilities of adulthood.  

 

Above all else, you’ve shown me that my capacity for love is infinite. That just when I think I must have reached a limit of affection, I find some more in my heart. And you’ve shown me that ultimately love will always win, beating out sadness.

 

You’ve changed me. The old me is gone and in place is this person who I didn’t know existed. I have always been looking for meaning in my life and you showed me what it is.

 

You have set me free.

 

You taught me to how to be me.

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