24 June 2014

Being your mummy...

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

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

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

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

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

Me and my Mummy ~ 1977

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

Sleep tight baby.

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

14 June 2014

Chapter 1 - Talipes

Dear Molly,

The lady scanning me to look at you when you were 20 weeks old in my tummy checked your heart, your head, your arms, your legs and then she paused. She lingered. My heart stopped for a few seconds. It felt like hours. It's funny how time is long when you're scared. And how time flies away when you're having fun. Time is always the same I guess. Our perception just alters. She mentioned the word Talipes and she wanted someone else to look at the scan. 

The next stage was a haze. People talking, screens, words, but no sound. The volume was off. I was there but somewhere else. Holding you in my arms. Someone else checked the screen. It was Talipes. There could be complications. It could be a marker for something else. “Have a leaflet.” I have a good memory usually but I don't remember their faces. 

Earlier in my pregnancy, following some routine tests, we were told that there was a 1 in 8 chance of you having Downs Syndrome. That news is not something you can prepare for or equip yourself to deal with. I existed through it. I can't boast to have done anything else. I couldn't do anything. We had tests. We waited. Time slowed to a virtual standstill. Empty time. A void.

The tests we had in the those early days were the same tests that would have checked for complications with Talipes. Which is why we didn't have to repeat them. Those tests eventually came back and told us that you were fine, and that you were a she! I remember spontaneously and uncontrollably sobbing then, and every time I told someone the news after that, on the phone, in person, by text, I cried. Happy tears. A girl. 

Now we had to work out what Talipes was. I did what everyone advises against, but does anyway. I Googled it. I saw the word Clubfoot. That was a word I knew. But not from an informed standpoint. I had just heard it. Unless you've experienced it in some way, very few people know what it actually is. It means, when you are born, your foot points downwards and inwards. I worried about whether you'd walk. How would you cope? Was it a ’disability’? Would you need an operation? All normal worries but not to me, not now.

So over the coming weeks and months I read, I talked, I learnt. I explained it to friends and family and gradually to myself. Aside from a wonky foot, you were fine. I was lucky, and I felt it. 
So, on October 21st 2010 you, my beautiful Molly Rose, were born. I had my baby, finally. It may sound cliched but, I didn't even notice your foot. Your little face was just so perfect and I loved you, my tiny little girl, unconditionally.
4 weeks later and you were in your 1st cast which was changed every week for 4 weeks until your foot was in the correct position. Then just before Christmas 2010 you went into your boots and bar for 23 hours a day. 3 months later and were in them for night times only and that's the sketch until you're 5. 

I read a lot from other mummies and daddies who feel that their children suffer through this treatment and whose posts on forums are laden with pity. Sympathy and pity are not the feelings which I have chosen for dealing with this. I have tried to treat your Talipes treatment like any other part of growing up. It doesn't hurt. It enables you to walk. It's an incredible gift that we are thankful for every day. You have never had a night out of your boots and bar and have never once questioned the need to wear them. 
I feel as though your attitude towards everything you face is developing, partly, from how I deal with and respond to things and equipping you to deal with life feels like my single biggest responsibility right now.

I love you darling,

6 June 2014

What do I want for you?

As your Mummy, almost all of what I do is related to my wider vision for you. It's not written in the stars or carved in stone or something I am outwardly trying to achieve. I just keep it carefully wrapped up in a soft muslin cloth inside of my subconscious, it's essence seeping through in my words and actions. It isn't a collection of definitive plans but a gently swirling pool of hopes and dreams which manifest themselves in the things that we do together.
Tonight we walked home from the pub after dinner ~ The Brinkley Lion, June 2014

We spend many weekends in Cambridge when we always go to the book shop. Book shops are my haven. Packed full of little gems. Stories, pictures, words, adventures, facts, hopes, dreams, lives & achievements. Nourishment for the imagination and the mind laid out on paper and encased in an intriguing cover to entice you in. Books will help you to see the world through other people's eyes and to expand your imagination. I've been bringing you to book shops since you were a baby and they are now where you now curl your little legs up under you in the big chairs and carefully choose between 'The Yeti & the Bird' and 'Mr Trouble'. A big decision. You should take advantage of the one thing that I will never say you have enough of.

And sometimes we go for a walk in the countryside around our village. We have started taking our notebook so that I can write down everything that we see. Your excitement for shouting out something that we don't have on the list is very sweet. And you pay so much more attention to your surroundings in the eternal quest for a longer list. "White butterfly Mummy!" you squeal. "Black sheep Mummy! Field of wheat Mummy! Yellow buttercup Mummy! Gate in the field Mummy! Mole hill Mummy! Horsey Mummy! Blackbird Mummy! Write it down Mummy. Put it on the list!" 
I want you to appreciate a sunny day. To appreciate the beauty in our surroundings and to enjoy the simplest things in life like exploring the furrowed passageways through a green field of wheat. "I hope we can find our way out of this field Mummy. Or we might have to sleep here without our warm comfy beds." You don't appear to be the adventurous type but time will tell. I love to watch you challenge your fears with such concentration, talking your way through your own complex myriad of apprehensions. "If we had to sleep here Mummy, we wouldn't have any dinner would we?"

More than everything, I want you to grow up believing that life is for living in and not just for existing in. I want you to challenge yourself, to express yourself and to make an effort to enrich your life through learning. Never stop learning and always try things that scare you. You will get the most fulfillment out of achieving things you thought you couldn't do. I believe that so much of what I can see you becoming will come from who you see me being. You baby, are my constant motivation to get fit, to stay healthy, to constantly challenge myself, to expand my horizons, to care about our society and to be someone that you want to be like. This stuff was all in me before you came along and I will never stop being thankful to you and my overwhelming desire to inspire you which has bought a lot of it to the surface.
Before your swimming lesson tonight

"You are never too old to set another goal or too dream another dream" ~ C S Lewis

"Don't turn into a lemon Mummy. I wouldn't like a lemon for a Mummy. Unless I was an orange. Then it would be fine." ~ Molly Rose High, June 6th 2014