Posts tagged Children

Goodbye 2011, welcome 2012

What a wonderful year 2011 was! Ok, not terribly successful on the writing front but absolutely brilliant for my art. It’s funny, I always visualised myself to being a writer, I mean that was why I went to University and took English,  literature and creative writing, wasn’t it? It is still dear to my heart and I still feel I have a novel or two inside me. I have been reading a lot these last few months, over thirty books actually, with the idea of grasping what framework successful authors use when they write series of books. It is so simple and yet it still escapes me, my brain fails to assimilate it into my understanding. I have one novel almost finished and another written in note form but when I read them they lack the something that makes them ‘live’.

My problem is that I am unable to get inside the protagonist’s head, or even to sustain a plausible protagonist that lives to the end of the book. I have read so many crime series, some of which are so simple to follow, and still I struggle. I haven’t given up on the whole novel-writing thing yet so will have another go this year. I guess the best thing for me is when I pick up something I have written and not looked at for a while, so many times I look at what I wrote and cannot believe that is actually my work. Well I like reading it anyway.

2011 saw a door opening for a wonderful opportunity to explore the world of  illustrating thanks to the fantastic writer, Trevor Belshaw. He writes children’s books under the name Trevor Forest and I for one think they are brilliant. It has been an honour to work with him and so encouraging to me. I have never been able to draw people terribly successfully and have been stretched out of my comfort zone of seascapes and the flora of the countryside but I feel I am improving all the time. If you’d like to take a look at Trevor’s children’s writing here’s a link for you www.trevorforest.com , he  also writes some really great adult stories so do check him out. Of course you will see my art work on his books as well. ; )

On the art front and comfort zones, just before Christmas I was asked to paint a picture to give as a gift. Nervously I asked what the subject was and was told a dog…. My brain immediately screamed  at me… DON’T DO IT! I mean there are so many brilliant artists out there and I couldn’t possibly  copy someone’s loved pet. I mean I have never even attempted that sort  of work before. Anyway, because it was someone close to me I said I would have a go with ‘no promises’ as a get out clause.

Now I have always viewed my ability to create a picture something as a precious gift that I really appreciate. I often wonder just how such amazing pictures end up on my canvas or paper. They seem to just want to be painted and somehow they have chosen me to paint them. I sat down with a photograph and a plea for any help I could get to the heavens. Here is the result… I can tell you, I was just so amazed that I could actually produce anything like this, just like with my seascapes, that I feel sure someone is painting it for me.  I am happy to say the person I painted it for was delighted with it.

It is this little painting that has encouraged me to push myself further with my art and that, in turn, tells me that I need to apply that theory to my writing. Who knows, maybe 2012 will be the year I actually get my novel up to publishing standard. I am sure gonna try anyway.

So I am looking back at 2011 with a sort of affection, from all the things that went wrong, I learned important lessons. From all the soul-searching and analysing of things from my past, close and distant, I learned that I don’t have to be perfect; how others perceive me is for them to form an opinion, as long as I am as good as I think I need to be;  as long as I recognise that it is ok to fail sometimes I can learn from everything that happens to me.

I also learned that I am getting older and it is both painful and joyful to watch my children as the competent adults they all are. Painful because my role as a mother is changing, becoming less important. Joyful because I have a new role as a grandmother. It takes some getting used to, stepping back and seeing your children being totally independent of you,  but the feeling of pride is amazing when watch them as parents being totally wonderful having learned from all my mistakes.

Speaking of being a grandmother, we had a new addition on the 1st August.. Matilda Felicity Dawn weighed in at 9 lbs 11 oz and another amazing privilege for me to be one of my daughter’s birth partners. A perfect water birth for her.. and a wonderful day for me. I  am one blessed lady, I can tell you.

2011 also saw me changing myself. As you know from my previous blog entries, I went on a slimming programme.. Many of you have asked how I did.. I can now tell you with pride that in eight months, I have lost 4 stone – 56 lbs for my American friends – I still have a long way to go and apart from a Christmas slip… hmmm… I shall be back on my diet from tonight… the dreaded post-Christmas weigh in…

This leads me to look forward to 2012, New Year resolution time? Hehe, in my experience resolutions never quite work out as I plan. Full of optimism and good intentions I always start well.. the weight losing is of course still a priority… but then life and loved ones seem to take over. Something that I really enjoy, and isn’t an excuse for failure as such, I mean I was thinking just the other day that each moment I spend with my family is precious, all the little things they do and say will never be captured again, a one-off experience. I have missed so much of my older grandchildren due to distance and different countries, that I am really enjoying the younger four that do live close. No doubt I shall be writing about them more, showing the pictures of the things we get up to and …. actually, that’s a good resolution for me, yes!

For 2012 my resolution is to be more organised, to set out specific times for writing and painting and stick to them.. at least that way I will get more done. I also intend to go out more, in the garden – slowly – visiting friends and family and just going out for little walks, as much as I am able,  in the sunshine. That’s it and to enjoy each moment for its own worth… Bearing in mind I have a 60th birthday this year : (.   Meanwhile I wish you all a really HAPPY, HEALTHY and PROSPEROUS 2012 .xxx

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Postaday2011: making mistakes

There is so much I could say on making a mistake and when I think back on all the decisions in my life I can honestly say I have made my share of bad ones. But have I? I am aware of all the right decisions as they shine out with positive vibes and the consequences have all led to other things. I sometimes think my life has been charmed or at least I have an absolutely amazing guardian angel who gets it right every time!

Each decision I have ever has had two sides to it. Even though it was the right decision for me then someone else had to hurt. On the other hand, had I not made those decisions then I would be hurting. Sometimes we have to choose, those choices are the most difficult in the world.

At one stage in my life I was at the point of suicide, I am ashamed to say that now, but it was just the kindness of someone I knew who sat with me over a cup of tea that got me to take control of my life. That I wasn’t responsible for anyone else’s happiness if they weren’t prepared to meet half way. I made my decision, there was a lot of pain, a lot of bad stuff happened but on looking back to then and examining where I am now, I know it was all part of a pathway I had to travel. I needed those lessons to give me strength for other challenges in my life. My children were hurt back then, but we learned to talk.

Today, they are all fantastic people and all succesful in the pathways they have chosen for themselves. They are also children to be proud of. None of them have been in trouble, they respect the world around them , people and other’s property, nature and each other and well as myself. They all have great interests, hobbies or employment that they excel in and are really good people to be with.  Considering I have 8 children, from different marriages, I think we did ok and I am certainly very proud of each one of them.

Some of my decisions I have regretted initially but it is only on reflection and comparison to my life today that I realise it had to be. I am glad I made those decisions and am proud of myself for making the necessary adjustments to make my life work. It has all been worthwhile to be right where I am at this moment in time.

My secrets are: never hold a grudge; make the best of what you have instead of wishing for something more; forgive easily; never stop loving; never be afraid to say ‘I made a mistake’ and ‘let’s talk’; never be too proud to apologise; if life isn’t working – change it, it’s nobody else’s problem but yours; eliminate the word ‘hate’ from your vocabulary; Love – totally and utterly unconditionally; forgive yourself; smile a lot; be thankful for everything you have and always remember we are all on a different journey, it’s just great if sometimes we cross another’s path and decide to stay, if it doesn’t work out there are always other friends passing through.

So for me, I don’t think there are mistakes, if it happens – it is meant to be, for whatever reason. We might regret a decision at the time but that’s not saying it was a mistake, maybe it just takes a bit of adjustment before we realise that actually, life is great because of… not in spite of. So there are no mistakes, merely new adventures and experiences that will open new worlds and each one of us are responsible for ourselves.

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Postaday2011: Baking with Maica

I had today all planned. My fifteen minutes of exercise and then as the house was clean, a day of gardening but , as they say… The best laid plans of mice and men ….. everything went haywire for me. I was just about to embark upon my daily exercise ‘dance’ routine… well fifteen minutes of the only exercising and, sort of , dancing that an arthritic nearly sixty year old can do, when my daughter arrived with Maica, my gorgeous three year old grand daughter.

Not having been pre warned I wasn’t prepared and said to my daughter that I promised her we would make teddy bear bread, a recipe Maica had seen in her cookery book. My plans for the garden were on hold. Don’t worry said my daughter I will explain to her that you need to go in the garden and do some work. I couldn’t do that! I had made a promise to her that we would bake pan, Spanish for bread, the next time she came and had to keep that promise. After all children need to know they can trust what grown ups say, especially grandparents.

We made biscuits while we were waiting for the first rising to complete. Maica loved cutting out the shapes and was so excited when they came out of the oven. Soon the bread dough was ready and Maica loved the feel of the dough, warm and soft. She helped to knead it down before she built little teddy bears from the balls of dough I gave her. ‘Mama bear, Papa bear and baby bear. Just like in Goldilocks.’ she said.

   The picture is very small because we took them on my daughters camera but I am sure you can see on Maica’s face just how proud she was of her pan teddy bears. She also wanted to show off her biscuits. She cut many shapes, flowers, stars, birds, fish, horses, elephants, circles, you name it, we made them. I had to tell her mummy that when we made the horse, the head was loose but we put it on the tray anyway and when it was cooked it had mended. Here is a little picture of one of her biscuits. A star biscuit. Before she took them home she insisted she left a flala (flower) biscuit for Grampy Harry.

Before Mummy came, Auntie Tabby and millie decided it would be great to go to park behind where Grandma lived so off we trouped. Maica had so much fun with Auntie Tabby chasing her and racing her up the steps and down the slide, being pushed on the swing and playing on the seesaw. Bet she will sleep well tonight. Grandma sat on the seat most of the time watching with pride and looking after Millie. Millie loved it all too, she adores Maica. So today, was a busy day for me and Maica but exhausted as I am, it was a great one. Here’s to girl power!

  

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Postaday2011: The worst meal I have ever had!

I suppose I have been very lucky in that most meals I had out have been really good, but then I don’t eat out much. I love cooking too much to want to eat someone else’s food, unless of course it is with friends who have invited us around to their place for a meal. In which case I have never had a bad meal and the company has always been fantastic.

I know I am going to upset my children and many other people when I mention the worst meal I have ever had. I am not sure what it is that makes me dislike the food so much. Maybe I have read too many things about the company, maybe I prefer really healthy food that I know has nothing added. Maybe I prefer good old home cooked food.

Over the years I have always done my own baking, Saturday was baking day and it took all day. With five children still at home the biscuit and cakes tins were constantly being filled. Pies and bread were baked for the week ahead. Friends the kids brought home came for the cakes, sleep overs meant extra baking… at the time I remember saying that nothing lasted five minutes, little did I know that just a few years later when they had all left home I would appreciate those times so much. These days I only bake if I know we have guests coming or the occasional batch of biscuits if we have run out. Sadly, I throw cakes away with fur coats on by the end of the week where nobody eats them any more.

I am not a lover of cakes or biscuits or in fact sweet things. I have a savoury tooth, as they say. So the need to bake is limited to treating my local daughters to the cakes I baked when we had guests. I always bake several, habit I guess, and freeze them, only to give them away the following week knowing H and I are not going to eat them.

Anyway, I digress, again! My worst meal has to be…. a MacDonald’s cheese burger. My kids love them and although I chose to say they looked awful etc I was in no position to say until I had tried one. My kids and I went along to the restaurant and we all ordered. They were really happy because I was not terribly keen to let them go there to eat. There was nothing I liked about the meal. The burger, was just a burger but the heat from it had wilted the lettuce as well as the cheese, the mayo served only to make the soggy and doughy roll … slimy, is the way I would describe it. Whatever happened to bread? It used to be firm and tasty, today it is like a half-baked dough that depresses to nothing when squeezed between the fingers. Ugh!

As much as I tried to eat the item with dignity, it slipped and slid between my fingers and I felt rather like a caveman eating with my hands and still making an awful mess with it. The chips were ok, but everything else was just plain awful to me.

A little while later I decided to make some burgers myself. What a difference! Wholemeal roll, with substance, home made burgers with onions, salad, gherkins and tomato ketchup, American mustard or Mayo. They were firm and tasty, probably a lot more nutritious and we all loved them a whole lot more.

My kids still go along to McDonalds now and again, but they have left home and are much older, they also know how to make their own burgers and at the end of the day it is their decision. I think, and hope, that the good home cooking they enjoyed as children will have rubbed off. After all, I do believe a good healthy, wholesome and natural as possible diet, has to set them up for life of good health. I do apologise to MaccyD but, I am an honest person and I really cannot stand their food. Now KFC… That’s a different story!

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Postaday2011: A Thank You.

I awoke in the night with another sore throat indicating the beginning of yet another cold. The sixth since New Year now! Is it ever going to end? Anyway, despite a lack of sleep that leaves me with very little workable brain power and a writer’s block as big as a house, I decided to blog about Mother’s Day. Now I know I risk sacrificing intelligent, or in my case at the moment, semi-intelligent communication rife with lovey, dovey clichés and all the trappings of a commercial enterprise  that serves little else than to relieve us of our hard-earned cash. Well after thinking on Suzi’s beautiful blessingway support yesterday, there is no way I can write on Mother’s Day itself.

Mother’s Day is traditionally a day where motherhood is acknowledged and ok it is a beautiful thing to do. However, for me as a mother to eight children, it is a time for me to reflect on my children, after all, without them I wouldn’t be a mother at all. One year I sent messages to all my children thanking them for being my children. I know they had little choice, but that depends upon belief, but we spent a lot of years together and I want to look at it all from a slightly different angle because I believe we should be thanking our children for putting up with us.

I was unlucky enough not have any support from family when I had my first son at sixteen but I was blessed with being the eldest of seven and knew a lot about babies. David and I learned together how to be a family, a delightful little boy, with the biggest smile in the world, put up with all my mistakes. I mean, the first baby has to! we have no idea of all the emotions and things we have to do to take care and integrate a child into a relationship. The new mother is learning on her first-born. Any mistakes and he’s the one that continues to smile and adore his mummy through them all. I must have done alright because he has grown into a fine intelligent man with amazing talents, not only that his children have also tremendous gifts too, but that’s another story.

By the time my second son was born, on Mother’s day March 12th 1972, I was an old hand and he benefitted from everything I had learned on my first born. Simon was again a happy smiling child who developed a real closeness with nature, his siblings will remember him catching lizards and butterflies and forever getting into scrapes as he did so. They will all smile at Simon’s choice of lifestyle a little while ago, a free spirit living close to nature is such a lovely way of describing him.

 

My marriage broke up when the boys were young and I remarried, my third son burst into the world with a yell and he didn’t stop for years. Scott  was a very lively, intelligent boy with a very strong will. It was like learning to be a mother all over again because the two older lads were so good.  I pulled my hair out many times but whatever I did somewhere along the way he became a really super young man, he works hard and plays hard, I look at his success in life and think, I must have done ok despite the tempestuousness of his baby years.

My first daughter was born on Bonfire night, November the fifth, my father’s birthday. She was welcomed with open arms and thankfully was a well-behaved baby. Once again an intelligent child who has succeeded in life and mostly I have to say on her own initiative. You see, I had no idea how to be a mother. I loved every second it but I didn’t know how to support my children’s education, make sure we saved for their future. I came from a slum background, a dysfunctional family where love was not high priority, especially not demonstrative love. I look at everything she has achieved and I am so proud of her, she taught me so much and all I had to offer her was my love.

At the same time that Laura came into our lives her older sister Samantha, my husband’s daughter from his first marriage, came to join the family. So having my first daughter became easier in one respect because as an older sister, she was so helpful. Sam was a lovely little girl but it took a couple of years before I was able to really love her. She was so well-behaved and just fitted in, one day the children had all been playing up and I remember she got the smack. She ran upstairs shouting at me that I loved the boys more than her and I stood shocked that she thought that and maybe she was right. She was a child, a beautiful child. I went upstairs and hugged her and cried as I apologised. It was like a new birth for us. I began to really love her from that moment on. Today, I don’t consider her to be any less than one of my own children, she is a great person and wonderful daughter.

My youngest son Ed, came into the world quietly, a sweet little boy until he went onto mixed feeding and we discovered he had an intolerance to lactose. Then our world shook, he was hyperactive, mischievious and adorable. If you want to know who it was who rolled the marbles under the pews at church, it was Ed… Another big learning curve for me as I fought to get him the help he needed in education. He didn’t fail, his IQ was 165, but he was so bored that he refused to do any writing. This young man went on to do a Spanish degree and who now travels round the world wherever he can teaching dance and juggling.

Once again my marriage broke up, that’s the trouble with not having a stable home life myself, I just didn’t know you had to work stuff out or choose your partners more carefully. I remarried a third time and Suzi came along. the sweetest baby you could ever have, so quiet and well behaved. She was so sensitive and was easily upset, we never had to tell her off because she was so good which was just as well, she would have been devastated. She has grown into a fine woman with strong feelings about healthy, organic living. She has been adventurous and is so tolerant, loving and thoughtful, again, I must have done something right.

By the time I had my youngest daughter, Tabitha, I reckon I was just about there. She had to have had the best of all the parenting skills I had learned. I did childcare courses as part of my work, worked with disadvantaged children and gained a great understanding of what a good parent was all about. She is Millie’s mummy who I blog about on here regularly, and  is doing a brilliant job.

I crashed through motherhood, making mistakes but thankfully learning from them, we grew together as a family, we shared meals together and talked to each other, we learned to love unconditionally and although the children went their own ways much younger than I would have liked, circumstances again, we were a close family.

Today I look at each of my children, most of whom are parents, they all make better parents than I ever did. They know so much more than I did. But best of all, considering they come from four different marriages, they are great friends and still close to each other. If one fails in any way, the others are there for them encouraging and supporting. They are all confident and great people. None of them have ever been in trouble nor caused any problems in the family. That is what I am proudest of. Each one of them is a wonderful person, together they make a close and loving family, no one falls out with anyone and they are all so good to me.

From the oldest , to the youngest, and especially including my step daughter, they have taught me how to be a good Mum. We learned as we went along. I was never afraid to listen when they told me about the things they didn’t like as they were growing up and we cried and talked it through together. I can’t change the learning mistakes I made but we can and do make sure the present and future, in this uncertain world, that we have a close and loving family… I won’t mention the laughs we have had… usually at my expense, that’s another story.

So for this Mother’s Day, I think we should all give thanks to our children who made it possible, after all our learning experiences, for us to be  celebrating this day as mothers. Thank you, David, Simon, Sam, Scott, Laura, Ed, Suzi and Tabby, for making me the most blessed mother alive!

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Postaday2011: Music and Books.

Also on Dave’s list of subjects to talk about were music and books. Both have featured prominently over my life and I have sought both escapism and comfort in them in my past. Today I just enjoy them for enjoyments sake but best of all, I enjoy them for wonderful memories of different parts of my life.

I’ll start with music which immediately whisks me back to my childhood… Life was pretty uneventful before my Dad left, we didn’t see him much because he expected us in bed before he got home from work. It didn’t matter to us because we lived in what was to us, a huge garden flat and there were  only two rooms which could have been bedrooms but one had been made into a lounge. I never ever remember anyone using it until it was deemed I needed a room of my own. Anyway, I digress, we all slept together in the same room, a bit like a huge dormitory and so bed time was fun anyway, there was always someone to whisper to and we were never alone at bedtime.

Time is immaterial when you are young, even more so in retrospect so I found it weird to discover the one song that reminds me most of my parents was a hit in 1961. Crazy to think it was only eight years before my oldest son was born. I was eight years old and the time I remember this song was one evening my parents had friends, Jack and Betty Norman round and I was allowed to stay up a while. They were drinking and smoking and playing darts in the lounge and listening to the wireless. We never had a TV as kids so the radio was our entertainment. The song was ‘Sailor’ sung by Petula Clarke. Anyone interested in hearing this wonderful song, here’s the link.

http://wn.com/Petula_Clark__Sailor

I remember my Dad singing this to my Mum and thinking they were silly because they were gazing into each other’s eyes. It was such a short time after this that the separated, funny, I thought the song was earlier. Good way of dating things though. I think that is my first recollection of any music. Around the same time a total  ‘ must’ on the radio was ‘Pick of the Pops’ with Alan Freeman. This show began in 1961 but I remember it after my Dad had left so I reckon it must have been 1962. I wouldn’t miss that programme for anything and was often told off for having my ear literally glued to the radio.

Other music featured a lot in my life, I sang with the school choir and I played the violin and one of my secondary school teachers became my biggest influence in developing a love for classical music. I know my school friend Barbara might remember Mrs Blann. She taught us to , not just, listen to music but to hear it. My introductions were The Hall of the Mountain King and Morning Mood from the play Peer Gynt … I learned that there was a story behind the music and as we listened, she told us the story. It made everything come alive for me so from that moment on I loved all music, well Jazz is something I can either love or hate depending on what it is.

Around that time I was also playing in the orchestra and I still remember going on an Easter course where we spent a week learning parts. All the different parts of the orchestra squeaking and screeching out our respective parts in different classrooms and then at the end we performed an evening of music. I will never forget the amazing feeling being a part of that, one small violin and yet together we made beautiful music. That time was sad for me as well as happy. I fell in love that week, more than the little infant school stuff, I felt love for the first time.. his name was Wayne Appleyard and for me it was worth going to just to catch a glimpse of him. We might have kissed a childish peck kind of kiss but at the end of the week, I never saw him again. The sad part was that I felt so proud of what we had achieved and Mrs Blackwell, our conductor, had hyped it up so much and I was longing for someone from my family to come and hear what I had been learning and share what I thought was a wonderful experience. Nobody came for me. I seem to remember a friends Mum came up and spoke to me saying how she enjoyed it but it wasn’t quite the same. I got used to that.

My last ever performance was when Barbara and I played the leading parts in The Merchant of Venice. We’d sewn beads and bits on our costumes and learned all our lines. It was to be performed at The White Rock Pavilion, it was in those days, and my mother and step father had promised faithfully to be there. I gave my best as Portia, Barbara was Bassanio – we went to an all girls school, and I still remember her refusing to kiss my hand, we pulled it off anyway. I felt so proud and knowing my Mum was there was fantastic. We left the stage and someone came backstage asking for me. They gave me a small package and said it had been handed in for me. I opened it up to find a box of chocolates with a note saying, ‘Sorry, we couldn’t make it’. It was so hard not to cry in front of everyone. My acting career was over and although I did dabble a bit as I got much older, I never did act any more. However, I was able to add Shakespeare to the list of something I loved. It wasn’t until I went to University much later in life that I studied Shakespeare and rekindled a love for acting.

Thankfully my children over the years have all done their share of acting and I was able to enjoy it again through all their little plays. I still have the newspaper cutting somewhere of the first ever play I went to where David played Father Christmas and the narrator because of his good speaking voice, at the age of five.

I am so glad that all my children have inherited a love of music or art. Each of them have different gifts and I am so proud of them. I have loved their little plays, their music both at home and at school or college. It is the one thing I miss most, the guitars and singing. I just wished I had, had a set of decent role models that might have stopped me making so many mistakes as a young Mum myself. Wow!  a long post so I will leave books until tomorrow.

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Postaday2011: A message from my son.

I wrote yesterday that I had run out of ideas and floundered misreably with my post. I also said that writing about my family might be boring to anyone reading my blog apart from my family. Then this morning I got a wonderful message from number one son on facebook… He said he loved reading my blog, seconded by my oldest daughter, and he also suggested some ideas. Well those questions have triggered off a million thoughts and a renewed excitement for writing. I have had an amazing life and such a lot of experiences so I am going to look at the things he has asked me over the next few days.

First of all my son, David, is my first born. I was just sixteen and a half when I gave birth to him. I hear many people saying ‘but you were just a child’, and yes maybe I was but my life experience had hardly been that of a child since I was nine years old. By today’s standards, I would have been labelled a ‘teenage Mum’ but to me, it was no problem,  I was a mum and so very much a proud mum.

See, when I was thirteen I was admitted to hospital with stomach pains and was told I had some unpronouncable problem and that I would never have children. Red rag or what? I was the oldest of a family of seven and my life experiences led me to want a baby of my own more than anything in the world. But, that is part of the later story.

I will look at the brilliant questions that Dave has asked me one by one… We can and do talk about anything but I feel and I think he knows, I might just reveal a little more about my life, our life, than I would in one to one discussion. So the next few blogs are for my children as much as anybody but I do hope that anyone else reading them will gain a little understanding about their own lives too.

His first question was about my earliest memories. As time has passed memories, although clear, are more difficult to place in time. My first memories are playing in the garden with my brothers. In those days the sun always shone and we created games and activities that lasted for ever. Well they seemed like forever. We made mud pies, built camps, pinched vegetables from my father’s vegetable garden and just played. I had four brothers, Denis, John, Colin and George… it was only later that I had two more siblings, Peter and Katie, one slightly older than my sons and the other younger.

To me my life was well, just my life. When you are young you don’t question what is good or what is bad, you just are. I remember summer days when my aunt and cousins came over and we had wonderful afternoon meals in the garden, salads, home grown of course and just playing. Memories then were only of the basic, playing and eating.

My other happy memories were when I visited my father’s family. They were to become my saving grace in a very roller coaster kind of childhood. My grand parents were everything to me and the only place I felt really loved. I never knew why and I never really understood this until later in my life. Unfortunately, much later and long after I was able to go to them and say thank you for everything they gave to me.

The first time I came to realise that life sucked was when I was around nine years old.. My Dad left my mother and although he had never been prominent in my life it was to become the beginning of the realisation that the unhappiness I had experienced when my parents fought was when I began to understand sadness, confusion and most of all, a lack of love or close relationship with anyone apart from my brothers.

When I went to Uni when I was fifty, it was that first traumatic experience I chose to write about. My story gained me a brilliant mark. I will conclude this post with that story but I have to say that there were other memories that were more important to me, it was onlymany years later that I was given them back, having lost them during a very unstable childhood, when I was training to be a play therapist. But that is another story and I will save it for another time.

 

Colour Me Yellow

I screwed my eyes against the yellow glare of the sun as it emerged from behind clouds that had spread across the sky like sour milk in coffee. The wind blew into my face and I could taste the sea. As I squiggled my toes into the cool sand, a young mother struggling with a small child and an armful of brightly coloured bags and buckets wandered into my view. Several slightly bigger children clung to her skirts as they limped over the stones. Their excitement tuned their voices to a higher and louder pitch as they made their way toward the sand. “Come on Dad, we’re leaving you behind.”

The man was struggling too, he carried a pushchair and as he walked the wind kept whipping the canopy into his face so that he couldn’t see.

A knot tightened in my stomach as I watched the little family find a place to sit. I hastily brushed away a tear that had trickled the length of my face. It dropped onto the sand and disappeared, sucked down to become a part of the sea. As I looked up the older girl caught sight of me watching and waved. I smiled and waved back.

Mum had been awfully quiet that day. As my brothers and I ate breakfast, we passed knowing looks between us and tried to fit in with the seriousness that hung heavily and statically across the kitchen. If one of us laughed another kicked their ankle under the table. We tried not to look at each other; a glance from any one of us would initiate the gut-jerking snigger from the throat that would start us all laughing. We were used to this.

 

Having finished our meal, we gathered our things for school and left the house. I leapt over the huge flagstone step and past the pillars, so big to my smallness. I stopped. The boys hadn’t noticed.

We often helped Dad to load his market things into the van, but today he shouldn’t have been here. Here should have left a long time ago. The market started early.

His mouth gave a smile but it never reached his eyes.

I looked on up the hill to where I could see my brothers walking ahead of me.

“ I want to talk to you, you can catch them up in a minute.” Dad nodded toward my brothers.

I waited, holding my breath.

“I must go away for a while.”

I barely felt his arms as he hugged me. I was too busy concentrating on holding back the sobs and tears that threatened to burst into the world from somewhere not so deep inside me. How I wished this wasn’t happening. How I wished those warm, safe arms would stay; I needed them.

Home became clouded by a shadow that was difficult to understand. Mum no longer sang around the house. The difference was invisible to all outside our family, and it was silent. A colourless void of colossal proportions filled with unspoken words, hastily reclaimed glances and deafening silence.

Spring came and our world began to change colour. The sun brightened our hearts and lives; flowers bloomed red and yellow in the garden, the perfume of the wallflowers floated lightly in the air and crept over the sill and in through the open windows. We made daisies into long chains, picked buttercups and held them against our chins. ‘Do you like butter?’

Soon it was summer.

One sticky day we were bored, hot and fussy until Denny had a bright idea.

“Can we go to the beach?” We looked pleadingly at Mum; four bright eyed faces and a baby who didn’t know why.

“ Pleeease?”

Mum smiled, “I need to do something first, keep an eye on the boys will you? Shan’t be long.”

It seemed like forever before Mum arrived back…. I noticed a white mark on her finger as she held out a brown paper bag full of beach shoes.

 

The beach was hot and smelt deliciously of salt. The sand was soft beneath our feet and we squiggled our toes into its coolness. We laughed and ran through the tiny lapping waves and searched rock pools that reflected the clouds as they scudded across the sky above us. We leaned so close to the water that the smell of the rotting seaweed made us wrinkle our noses as we dipped and searched with our fingers in the sand at the bottom of the pool for the creatures that had been left behind by the tide. Gentle breezes blew across our faces and tousled our hair leaving it dry so that our fingers no longer slipped through it. Jam sandwiches tasted sweeter as the salt clung to our fingers and lips. The gritty sound of the sand on my teeth made me wretch.

Nothing mattered that day. The sun beamed down on us, I lifted my face to feel its warmth on my cheeks. Yellow shone through my closed eyelids,

enveloping me in a blanket of sunshine. We had been so busy playing and building sand castles that we hadn’t noticed the tide pushing us further up the beach until there was no more sand and the huge black rocks had disappeared beneath the waves.

“ Time to go home!” Mum’s voice broke into our playing. We pleaded for more time to fill our pockets and buckets with shells and pebbles to take back with us.

Mum didn’t see me watching her. Her thoughts were far away; as far as the horizon that she was staring at beyond the ocean, maybe further, but somewhere I had never been and where, I felt, I was not wanted. I watched her brush a tear from her cheek; she, too, didn’t want the day to end.

The boys clung to Mum’s skirts as they stumbled over the pebbles and back up the beach. It was late but we were tired and happy. I dragged the pushchair up the beach while Mum carried Georgie.

“Come on, we’re leaving you behind.”

The sun glowed orange as it sank toward the sea. I looked back and half closed my eyes against the brightness; The yellow had gone.

I guess that this post answers two of my son’s questions, my earliest memories and the time when I realised that the world was not such a happy place.

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Postaday2011: A busy life!

I thought that, as an older woman, retired because of ill-health, I could relax and take life easy. For a long time I have had, and I enjoyed, my own company. I had time to write and paint, do the housework, sit and meditate, cook, play in the garden and indeed anything I wanted. I thought I was happy, but was I? Somewhere in me there must have been a thought that I wanted more. My youngest daughter had a baby around eight months ago. Millie, who I have written about quite a bit, and my daughter Tabby, who has been a fantastic first time Mummy, have been such a special part of my life. However, young Millie has had yet another cold and hasn’t been sleeping that well. This morning I got a phone call from a very distressed daughter crying and telling me she doesn’t want to be a mummy any more. It broke my heart. Millie hasn’t been sleeping and in the back ground I could hear this tiny child screaming like she was really in trouble.. How hard it is to be a grandparent sometimes.

I have watched my daughter being a really great Mummy, always there for her baby, not wanting her to be distressed and crying… I reckon the ads on the TV for the NSPCC, although good, played on her mind and she was unable to let her baby cry for even a moment. However, young Millie, a very intelligent baby, sussed the situation out and got what she wanted… by crying. This morning was a crunch situation and when Tabby called me she said she could take no more. Millie needed a sleep but refused and kept on crying. I gently told my daughter that she was just demanding attention from her mummy and was actually trying to take control, but as a baby she didn’t know what she wanted.

A little test helped the situation. Millie was on the floor playing and started screaming. I asked my daughter to call her name and talk to her… Millie stopped crying and listened but started crying again,  I told Tabby to sit on the floor with her… the crying subsided. Hmmm sussed little one!

Tabby lay Millie down in her buggy and I told her to tell her it was time to sleep in a firm voice, and then rock her as she would normally, Millie screamed. Tell her again and be firm, I said. One cursory yell  to complain then she started to ‘sing’ herself to sleep. We won! More than that, Tabby realised that her baby was playing up and demanding from her Mummy without knowing what she wanted and driving her to the point of despair.

Time to take action. Daddy came home and took Millie out to her great grandparents and Mummy came home to me for a break for the first time since having the baby. It was great to have Tabby home, a little strange with out Millie but we had a great girly day. Millie got to spend more time with Daddy, which was good for both of them and when she came back later in the afternoon she was so much calmer. Once she had greeted and hugged her Mummy, Tabby handed her to me. I have been there from the moment of birth and she was quite happy with me. But most importantly my daughter realised that she doesn’t have to be there for her 24/7 and Millie wasn’t demanding so much from her Mummy.

I think from now on there will be much more flexibility. So where does this all leave me? Well, I have found another little job for me. Much as I have brought my children up to be autonomous, I have learned that I am still needed as a Mum. It is wonderful to have Maica for the day, to play and paint and cook and do silly things like play shadows behind the curtains with and now my time can also be spent with Millie too. Mummy needs a break sometimes and is now happy to leave her with me. I think it is also good for Millie too. Here’s hoping for a better relationship between them and for me to build up some wonderful Grandma time too.

Although I still have the desire to spend time on my own and do the things I enjoy, there are other people who want my time too, I help students correct their essays  and critique work from other writers, which I love doing but … I appreciate so much more that I am still needed to be a part of the younger generation and be there for my own children. Time to practice some time management I reckon….

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Postaday2011: What gets better with age?

This is a great topic and one I do feel qualified to answer being really ancient, well according to my children. I remember as a child asking my mother how old she was and when she replied thirty I was really overwhelmed at the age she was, thinking she was really old. Little did I know as a ten-year old.

When I was approaching thirty myself it was the most dreadful time of my life. I had swallowed the media hype that once you hit thirty you were over the hill. It happened and guess what? I didn’t feel any different. Well after a while I did, feel different… Suddenly everything seemed to fall into place and I sort of knew who I was and where I was going. It is difficult to describe and there were still many traumas and events to deal with after that but for a few months I had found myself.

As I got older that feeling never really left me and I gained a lot of strength and knowledge about myself. I still made loads of mistakes and because of a bad beginning in life, I had no good role models to guide me, my life was a learning curve all the way. However all the things I learned because of the pathway I chose changed me day by day. How I wished I had known what I knew with my last children when my older ones were younger and even moving on, how I could still have done things differently with the younger ones too.

Life is a continuum, nothing stays the same, we evolve as people, we learn and change as time passes. The thing that does make me smile is that even though we have so much more wisdom as we, and our children get older, they start to treat us as if we have no idea…sigh! So is it them that makes us slip into older age? Times are always changing and all the while we have that yearning to learn we will move with it. Childcare is one aspect that has changed so much. I was trained in childcare and worked with difficult children in my own home and in a boarding school for EBD boys, I was also trained in non directive play therapy and worked with an autistic child one to one. Nothing has really changed that much apart from the way it is now taught. I sit back and watch and say nothing as my children do amazing things with their children. It was new when I learned it but now, thankfully, it is naturally taught everywhere. I secretly pat myself on the back and smile, I hope it makes me a good Grandma.

I think confidence comes as we get older, we lose that need to go out and hit the town looking sensational. We still care but for different reasons, it is for ourselves now, not for what our mates , or what the opposite sex thinks. Our priorities change, especially as the children leave home… we need to build a different life that doesn’t revolve around their needs. We start thinking about doing things for charity, about helping others and far less about ourselves and I feel we become far more content.

One major change for me was becoming far more spiritual, the wider picture became more evident and I developed a calm deep inside myself. I began to question everything I learned and everything that I had experienced and found answers… and as many more questions.

So I guess the answer to what gets better as we get older… for me it is life and understanding of it. Where I am going and the fact that the goal is not important, it is more the journey, the people we meet and the things we learn on the way. Life is great as we get older… and I believe ‘ as man thinketh, so is he.’ so a positive attitude makes for a really great older age.

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Postaday2011: favourite activities outside blogging.

Where do I begin on this one? I am using this prompt which was for Reading week, merely because it relates to me more than the blogaday one.  It is a hard thing to write about because I just have so many activities and hobbies. As much as I love reading other blogs and writing my own, my day is full with so many other things. I used to sit on Facebook and chat to friends but it got to the point that it became trivial, if there was no one on there I was playing games and was slipping on the other things I liked to do. I’d check for messages, maybe reply to a few but I soon realised that actually nobody missed me if I wasn’t on there. Where is the connection with blogging? I can hear you ask. Well, it’s simple, none! There is little connection between Facebook and blogging apart from me learning to balance out my time.

I love writing, always have, I even have poems I wrote as a child, and at school I remember helping out other members of our English class when homework involved poetry, so writing has always been there in my life. I also love blogging. I have mentioned before  about just how dreadful I am at keeping a diary. My entries might last for a few weeks and then I would start slipping and miss some so I always ended up with a few entries in the front and one apologetic one at the end of the year. Silly thing is I would love to go back and see what I was thinking and feeling when I wrote them. I still do but it doesn’t help me become any good at journal keeping, so blogging and particularly ‘Blogaday’ has really encouraged me. Having other writers out there encouraging me has been brilliant and reading other blogs and admiring the tremendous talent out there is really fantastic. I could spend all day on here but I have to limit my time because I like to join my family in various activities too. So for me, although participating as much as I can, blogging isn’t a priority to me. As I have arthritis, everything I do takes a lot more time than it used to, so even sitting at my computer takes its toll on me.

My other activities include, painting, writing, housework, knitting, gardening, reading, music, crochet, all sewing and dressmaking, cooking, entertaining, did I mention housework? haahha I have so many hobbies and loads that I have trouble doing. Nature and nature walks used to be a big thing in my life so did my dog, but life moves on and now I stick to those I can do easily. Having such a large family, I am always busy. So I guess my other favourite activities and blog writing have to fight for time. I do my best always and keeping up with a blog every day has become so motivating for me so I guess my answer would be, I don’t have a favourite activity I just like being busy.

Here are a few pictures from today when I had Maica to entertain me while her Mummy did a photoshoot.

Having finished baking some delicious chocolate chip cookies, Maica insisted on washing up. I reckon she did a great job.

I think she liked the cookies so much she preferred them to her lunch..

Teddy had to watch while she did her painting too.

I only spent around 6 hours with her but I look back and wonder how I managed with eight children!! I am exhausted, but we had a really wonderful day. Maybe I am getting old and maybe I should be sticking to reading and writing on WordPress.

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