I am who I am. Not who you think I am. Not who you want me to be. I am me.”
Who is the Introverted Mama?
What a question. Who am I?
A mum of 3 kids and 2 angels, a daughter, wife and sister. Someone who has been caring for others my whole life, who loves to be there but is finally realising I need to look after me too……. My kids are growing, my life is changing and this quiet, naturally introverted, mama has decided to pursue some of the things shes always wanted too.
I’ve wanted to write since I was a child. Me and my best friend would spend hours, with a notebook and pen, coming up with ideas and stories. We both loved to read too: Victoria Plum, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Famous Five…. So often we’d be scolded for sitting inside when the sun was shining. Grabbing our pads, the garden would provide another sanctuary instead, to chat, dream, write and laugh…..
I’m so far from a great or even mediocre writer and feel very insecure about putting anything out in cyberspace for others to read but I’ve learnt that if you enjoy something, you just gotta do it. Life is short and whats the worse that can happen? You all hate it. I can deal with that now.
When I was growing up I knew no one at my school that “came out” as gay. There was so much prejudice out there and being ”gay” was used as an insult so it would have been a very brave thing to do, to live openly as a young gay man. I know many parents weren’t as open minded as maybe they could be today. It was not accepted so readily and you would hear of family’s that outcast their sons or daughters for their sexuality and it was often seen in tv storylines too.
As parents, myself and my husband have always tried to talk openly to our kids about accepting people for who they are, whatever their sexuality, abilities, race etc…I hope this has helped our kids be open with us about themselves and situations they find themselves in and when my son was 15 he told me he was gay.
I’m gonna be honest, I was shocked. I didn’t expect it but my gut was worried for him. My experiences of how society treated anyone from the LGBTQ community made me anxious for the reaction he would get from others. I felt a fierce protectiveness of him.
Life though it seems has changed more than I thought since I was a teenager, many many moons ago! My son has the best friends, all of who love him for him. He is becoming more authentically himself each day and I am so proud of him for it! He attended his school prom with 4 of his girl friends, has great mates and now tutors, all of whom he can be openly himself with. Is he just lucky or is society changing?
I have told him how proud I am of him but it’s not cool as a mum to be expressing that kind of stuff to your teenage son (in his eyes anyway) so I show him my support in other ways such as attending London Pride together last year as a family. We all went and wow, it was a fantastic day. We dressed in our rainbow of colours, painted our faces and embraced the experience. We have plans to go again this year together – and I can’t wait!!
The recent news about Philip Schofield coming out as gay at age 57 after being married 27 years and having two children is an indication of how hard it has been in the past to speak openly about sexuality. No one really knows the ins and outs of Philips story but he has clearly struggled with his mental health due to the turmoil of not being able to express who he really is.
A survey commissioned by NHS Digital (published in 2018) into the mental health of children and young people in England showed that LGBT teens are much more likely to be struggling with their mental health. Among teenagers aged 14 to 19, those who aren’t heterosexual are more than 2.5 times as likely to have some kind of mental illness. So clearly there are still real struggles for young people who are LGBTQ over those who are heterosexual.
Today though we did something so simple together but that for me felt “big”. Me and my son and daughter went to the nail salon together and all had our nails done. A fun pampering afternoon for me and my kids but something that maybe isn’t the “norm” with your son. I hope for him it wasn’t a big deal but for a mum in her 40’s who has grown up seeing a lot of homophobic attitudes around her it was another step to showing my son in my way to embrace who he is completely.
Don’t get me wrong I know there are still prejudices out there but I can see a positive change in how my son is able to express himself and my hope is that is something that will only continue to improve and the statistics like those above for young adults and children who are not heterosexual begin to improve even more as there is more acceptance and support.
Mamas, how old were you when you had your first child? My journey to motherhood begun at the tender age of 18. The experience of having a child when I had only just entered into the realm of adulthood but still classed as a teenager and the turn of events after changed me and my life dramatically.
It starts unsurprisingly with girl meets boy. I met my first ever serious boyfriend at age 17 through a friend. He was what many would have seen as a “bad boy” and I was an incredibly shy and naive young girl who wanted to be loved and to “fit in”. I suppose I thought he was kinda cool. He had dark brown skin, had such confidence and I felt protected but a little nervous when I was with him.
I wanted him to like me and because of that I lied to him about my age and told him I was 18 initially when actually I was 17. He seemed keen and this guy who was in his 20’s and had his own flat, wanted to spend time with me. I was flattered.
My family didn’t like him. They saw a guy who was friendly but looked kinda ‘gangsta’. I enjoyed shocking everyone, if I’m honest. He was the first guy I ever slept with and yep I fell pregnant! We used no protection because, he didn’t like it and I was too in love to care (I thought!)
Telling my mum and sister was really tough. My sister told me she’d pay for me to have an abortion after some very choice words and my mum was just plain disappointed. Being a stubborn young lady I wouldn’t be told what to do and I decided to continue with the pregnancy. I can look back now and realise many of the healthcare professionals treated me pretty shoddy at some of my hospital appointments. It seems teenage mums were generally looked down upon… maybe they were seen as easy? Lacking morals? Using the system? Stupid? Who knows? But that was a continuing theme through my pregnancy and the birth.
I muddled through my pregnancy. Although I had no clue what to expect, I loved every minute of it. My growing belly, feeling this little guy inside me kicking and the connection I felt to him. My due date eventually came and went but my little man was far to comfy to make an appearance. Eventually 12 days late, I was taken into hospital feeling tired and ready to burst,to be induced. I arrived at the hospital scared of what lay ahead. ‘My mum and boyfriend were with me and I was given a pessary to try and kickstart my labour. Once visiting hours were over they left and I was completely alone just anxiously waiting for something to happen. Another pessary later that evening and I started to have some niggles and that night contractions started with a vengeance, which I quietly made the nurses aware of as I didn’t like to make a fuss.
I paced up and down that ward all night with those contractions. I didn’t scream or shout and wasn’t monitored at all. I dealt with them by quietly shutting everything out. Around 7am I felt I just couldn’t cope anymore and I headed to the nurses station to get some help. They told me the drs come round at 9am, to take a hot bath and it should relax me but leave the door open and they will make sure I’m seen as soon as they arrive. I was in agony but I figured they knew best.
9am came around very slowly and the drs arrived. I had never been so thankful to be examined. They checked me over and told me I was 9cm dialated and there was a mad rush to get me to the delivery suite. My son was born, not too long after that with forceps as I was finally being monitored and he was clearly distressed as his heart rate kept falling. He was born, blue and struggling to breathe and I was in total shock!!! My boyfriend and mum had made it in time for the birth. He was there for my sons arrival but my mum was on edge waiting outside.
My boyfriend didn’t stay long, he was excited to go tell his family and I was left lying on bloody sheets for what felt like forever not sure what was going on,with my mum by my side. My son had been whisked off to the special care baby unit very quickly and I felt confused and helpless. Eventually my mum got me up and helped me into the shower so I could get cleaned up as there seemed no other option.
Later I was wheeled onto a ward. I had no information about my son and was in a room with 3 other mums who had their babies with them. I felt totally empty.
That night I had a visit from friends and the nurses said we could finally go up and see my son. It felt so strange to be there as his mum. I didn’t feel like a mum. He was 8lb 9ozs. The biggest baby in the room but so poorly. I couldn’t hold him and just looked at him through the glass. Everything felt very surreal.
My son stayed in hospital 2 weeks. I was sent home before and travelled to see him daily. Before I left on one of my last evenings at the hospital the midwife who was at the delivery came to see me. She sat on my bed and held my hand and said she was so sorry and prayed for me and my son. To be honest I wasn’t sure what to make of it but it later it became clear that she knew how poorly he was.
Those early days when I visited the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) I wanted to get in and out as soon as possible. I felt inadequate, like I was being judged and watched by the nurses and generally just scared for what the future would bring. Many of the staff were amazing and helped me to feed him and hold him but my insecurities and a select few staff meant that I didn’t feel able to relax and spend time with my son and it took me a while to really bond with him.
One night before I brought my son home me and his birth father were asked to attend a meeting with the drs. That night I was told that he had some brain damage but as there was swelling until that settled they would not know the extent of the damage and the full effect that would likely have on him. That’s when my world begun to crash around me. From that moment on, the next 13 years were spent caring for my son “Jermaine” fighting for the best care, education, support for him and doing the best we could.
Once we were home my bond with my boy was cemented and although life was hard at times he was worth every second. He was an amazing little man. What he went through daily with physio, epilepsy, reflux, tube feeding etc.. was relentless some days but he kept fighting and smiling when he was able but that’s another story.
Being a teenage mum can be hard but being a teenage mum with a disabled child was incredibly challenging but the support from family and many amazing health professionals that touched our lives and that to this day I will never forget really were the difference between Jermaine and I making it through the tough times or not.
What was your birth experience like with your first child and how old were you? Do you think your age influenced how you were treated?
Do you use Valentine’s Day as a day to show your partner how much you love them? Will you be spending money on a card? Gifts? A meal? A night out?
You know there’s nothing wrong with making a special effort one day of the year to show your partner how special they are as long as you don’t make it the ONLY time in the year that you do that.
Relationships require effort. Listening to your partner, making time for them, showing them with action and affection how important they are.
I started a relationship with my husband when I was around 20 and at 22 we were married. He has been a rock for me and the kids in many tough times. He is kind, generous and will go the extra mile to be sure the kids are safe and well.
We have had so many happy times but we have also had many really tough times. Being together for so many years means that you both grow up together. You change with life’s experiences and sometimes as the years pass your roles in the family and relationship alter. All of that can have a huge impact on how you get on, your expectations of each other and for your future together. I’m definitely not the same person I was when we started dating at 20, I’m also no longer a carer or stay at home mum. My roles have completely changed.
Remember to keep talking and listening to each other. Flowers and gifts are lovely but what’s better? To feel like your partner is supporting you and interested in your life or a bunch of red roses? Those small everyday acts of love such as: sorting the kids so you can have an extra hour in bed, having dinner ready for you after a long day at work, clearing up your mess, giving you a foot massage, listening to you tell them about your tough day at work, organising a childminder and taking you out, running you a hot bath for when you get in from work……
Those daily acts of love are the things that will keep you together as a couple. Checking in with each other and taking steps to improve things when you need to. Don’t get complacent and comfortable. Marriage isn’t meant to be easy but when it’s a partnership witness both partners equally committed to working through problems it’s so worth it.
Not everyone is gonna make it with the same person forever but if you’ve given it your all. You wont have regrets. You’ll know that you worked at it and you just weren’t right for one another.
So spoil your partners today, please. Remember though that your marriage is a constant work in progress, so treat it as such. Everyday is a day to show each other your love. If you can do that you will go from strength to strength.
Yesterday was it’s Time To Talk Day 2020. A day to promote open and honest conversation about mental health and encourage us all to support others who maybe struggling. Coincidentally this coincided with my first personal counselling session (after my initial assessment). It has brought up so many things for me to think about already and I believe it’s something that will really help me but it also left me feeling like I’d been run over by a bus emotionally afterwards!
So why am I sharing this with you? Because previous to my being diagnosed with depression 5 months ago, I never really understood what depression was. I have many friends and family members who had and were going through it and I was always there to lend an ear or help if I could but like they say until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes you are never really going to “get” it. I knew this from other experiences in my life like being a mum of a special needs son. Having friends in the same position was invaluable. Knowing they understood how hard it was, the long term lack of sleep, hospital visits, education and care concerns etc….. the list was endless and those friendships are priceless. So when you’ve never “been” there or walked in those shoes it can be hard to know how to react.
I was also lucky enough though to have many very close friends who despite never having been where I was were amazing and I love them for it. I did though also encounter many who were uncomfortable with our situation and would avoid me and my son.
A survey of more than 4,000 adults in the UK by mental health anti-stigma campaign, Time to Change, found one in three of us would avoid speaking to a friend who is struggling with their mental health to avoid an awkward conversation. Asked why, people’s top concerns were saying the wrong thing (39%), feeling uncomfortable (28%), or being rude (23%). Those are tough statistics
I never in a million years, thought that this person I am now would be me. I was someone who coped. I was told by others “wow you’ve been through so much, I don’t know how you do it!” And I probably started to believe it. I AM a strong positive mama. I keep going, support and care for others, right? But it seems that life will always catch up with you in the end, in some way or another if you don’t address events as they happen.
Going to the gp and getting support was the hardest thing I had to do. To me it was admitting failure and weakness. I still find it so hard to accept that this is not just a blip and that I’m ok really. I know though deep down it isn’t and I’m not where I want to be yet but inside I tell myself I’m a fraud and I need to pull myself together (exactly what you shouldn’t say to others but I say it to myself!). Why are we so hard on ourselves? Our own worst critics!
If you get to a place where making decisions, getting out of bed, dealing with day to day life is hard and your normally the one who is in control of family life, that’s not just hard on you, it’s hard on all your immediate family. The whole dynamics of family life change and no one really knows how to deal with that, least of all you when you feel so overwhelmed and if you don’t have loving support around you it can feel impossible to change.
I’m better than I was 5 months ago but I’m still finding things hard. So if you have a friend who stops socialising, who maybe is not on top of school events like they used to be, forgets everything: birthdays etc… always seems to be tired, doesn’t answer calls, her house is a mess, if you feel they are behaving out of character. Maybe they are feeling low.
More than anything let them talk and if need be just actively listen, let them feel your there for them, ask them how they “really” are, be ready with a hug and don’t judge…… they are probably criticising themselves enough already.
I can hold a tune but I am far from a fabulous singer. Thats of no consequence though because my favourite thing to do when driving is put on my favourite ballads and croon along with Whitney or Luther, much to my kids embarrassment!
I’m the kind of person who loves a song for the words, the emotion and how it connects with me and my experiences. If a song makes me smile, cry or gives me the goosebump “feels” it’s gonna be a winner In my eyes.
So rock choir has always appealed to me. A choir full of others that love to sing, no matter what their abilities are. EVERYONES welcome! I’m not sure when I first heard of it but I know it was some years ago at least. I’d never plucked up the courage to go though, that is until 2 weeks ago.
That was when after seeing an article about rock choir and chatting to a friend about a choir she used to go to and loved, I impulsively put this post on my FB/IG pages:
“Anyone fancy trying Cambridge Rock Choir with me on a Monday night at 7.30pm. Free taster session available before you need to decide. Wanna give it a go, but would be nice to go along with someone? 😊 Kaz x”
And one fabulous cyber friend Kirsten replied and said “I’ll come! 🙋🏼♀️”. Kirsten and I had never met but I knew she was reasonably local and we’d chatted on IG for about 2 years as we both have a mutual love of health and fitness.
So the next Monday night, I stepped out my comfort zone and turned up to sing and meet Kirsten in person. So glad I did too! Rock choir is full of energy. You can feel it as soon as you arrive, the energy in the room is electric. Everyone keen to sing their hearts out and loving being able to do it surrounded by friends. Carrie who runs the group, makes it very special. She is so welcoming and instantly puts you at ease with her laid back, friendly and fun personality.
I sat with the lower altos having no idea where I should be but Carrie guided us and made it all very simple. No pressure to sing at all, just do what we felt comfortable with.
We sang Super Trouper by ABBA and even learnt a few dance moves. Singing in a group, feeling a part of this team all expressing themselves together is something special. The age range and mix of people in the room was vast but the community was strong.
Singing is great for the soul. When I’m happy I blast a happy tune and dance around my kitchen. When I’m sad I connect with a song and let it envelope me. I let myself cry and feel every word. Music is powerful and creating it on mass is almost therapeutic.
If it appeals to you because you love singing or for the community and social aspect, give it a go. I promise you won’t regret it! Go check out their website at http://www.rockchoir.com and find your local choir.
What have you got to lose, apart from your voice…….
It’s 12 days until my 44th Birthday. Me and my furbaby, Finn both share our day of birth, except he’ll be 3 (or apparently 28 in dog years).
It’s around this time, I look back and think about where I am in life as my birthday is approaching and a new year is here.
The last 12 months have been a real eye opener. They’ve highlighted my strengths and weaknesses, pushed me way out of my comfort zone and to accomplish things I never thought I would but also seen me feel more of a failure than I ever have before. A year of extremes, for sure!!!
In 2016 just before I hit the big 40 I decided I was going to get fitter and healthier. I think 40 is an age where many of us start to realise life is speeding by so quickly and at least for me, I want to stay able, well and live it to the full. With that at the forefront of my mind, for the first time ever I made a commitment to start doing the couch to 5k running programme. First, running to the next lamppost without collapsing was an achievement and eventually to my total astonishment, with perseverance and a decision to not give up, I hit a slow 3 miles! I grew to love my runs and that “me” time they gave me. Running made me realise that I could do things I never thought I was able to and gave me a belief in myself I hadn’t had in a very long time.
This new found self belief meant that when I saw an advert looking for women wanting to become run leaders for a local ladies running group, I applied. To my astonishment, I got the gig and was petrified and excited all at once. Without running I never would have believed I could help anyone become fitter and healthier.
Seeing women feel great about themselves, increasing their confidence and believing they can do things that previously seemed impossible has been totally amazing. It made me feel more self assured and gave me a desire to inspire other women at a similar stage in their lives. In October 2017 I launched my own business supporting women with home workouts, a great nutrition plan and most importantly a virtual support system.
This opportunity was scary but I decided that it was something I really wanted to try and make work, for my own wellness as well as the women I was supporting and to give me the opportunity to improve our financial circumstances too.
The next 2 years saw me make so many new and very special friendships through this business and social media and in doing so help so many women with their health. I’ve grown a small team of ladies with the same desire to pay forward our message and I have travelled to the USA twice to meet teammates, learn, grow and be inspired. In short it’s been pretty amazing!!!
But at the same time underlying problems that have been there but I haven’t dealt with have been brewing and I’ve been struggling with them for many years. In 2019 these problems came to a head and I was not coping. In September I was diagnosed with depression and very reluctantly decided to start taking anti depressants.
It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, admitting I wasn’t coping. I have always taken pride in getting on with things and being strong but I had slowly gone from that capable mum and wife to someone who couldn’t seem to make decisions, was struggling with normal day to day activities and just wanted to hibernate in bed.
I still have a long way to go but I’m working towards coming off the anti depressants. So the last 12 months have been a learning curve in many ways. I’m learning that sometimes in order to be there for others our own happiness and wellness needs to take priority and that’s ok. I’m learning that asking for support does not mean your a failure. Reaching out for help, makes you strong. I’m learning that I can’t always prevent others from hurting or fix their lives. People have to take responsibility and do that for themselves. I’m only responsible for myself and who I become.
Running and working out has given me so much: fitness, stamina, confidence, determination, self belief and strength. They keep my mind in a more positive place by making me feel good about myself and giving me some time out from life to just digest it all. At the moment though exercise of any sort is a struggle but as with most things, that is usually when I need it the most.
If your mind is feeling overwhelmed, negative, sad or just numb, you probably can’t imagine working out. I know, but I promise you it will help. The shift it makes in your brain and how great you will feel once you’ve got it done is better than anything else!
If your struggling to fight your thoughts and move your body. Message me. I get it, I’ve been there but I also know it is one of the best things you can do…. let’s support each other.
I am finally getting a chance to sit down and pen a blog to ring in the start of 2020 on January 4th.
Life has been busy to say the least. I’ve worked more in December than previously, started a new job and allowed myself to put my workouts and nutrition low down on my list of priorities. Not the best thing to do when life is hectic and your mood is low. This is when the workouts would really help but also the hardest time to push through and get them done.
So it’s the new year and it’s likely you’ve been looking back at the last year as well as forward to what you want to achieve in 2020. Many of you will also have made New Years Resolutions and feel geared up to smash the year and reach your goals.
How many of you made resolutions in January 2019? Did you achieve them consistently throughout the year? Or had you forgotten about them by the end of February? I know, I’ve been there, so many times!
Everyday is a day that you can start a fresh and you do not need the first day of the year to do that. The problem is when you fall off track with a New Years resolution its too easy to say to yourself “That’s it, Ive failed” and wait for next year, month, after the holiday or that special occasion.
If you can shift your mindset and commit to being ok with the bad days but knowing that to reach your goals you gotta pick the ball straight back up when you drop it, then you will not keep having to make the same New Years Resolution EVERY year. For me the accountability of checking in with like minded people daily, having that non judgemental support of others that want you to succeed, don’t mock what your doing but also understand the struggles was the game changer. That is what has kept me working on my own health and fitness the last 2 years.
Sometimes we don’t have that support around us, right? The closest people to us can often be the least supportive. There are many reasons for this but it maybe because your loved ones aren’t interested in health and fitness and don’t want you spending too much time on that and not them, it could be that they are not happy with their fitness or how they look and don’t feel able to change it and so they are jealous of your drive and commitment. There are so many reasons and they are generally nothing to do with you but say more about your loved ones feelings but generally if they care for you they will likely come round once they see how good you look and feel and may even jump on board with you too!
Most people’s resolutions include something about getting healthier and fitter, right? The gyms are overrun in January and by February you can bet they are ghostly quiet again. Your health is not just about the physical and it’s definitely not all about what you weigh. It’s also your mental health, your mindset, how your cope when things go wrong, how you pick yourself up when your feeling low. These are all about mindset and attitude and to master your resolutions you need to master your mind too.
So if your New Years Resolutions this year are health and fitness focused to have the best chance of success:
✅ Find support and accountability. An online support system, a class, group of likeminded people who “get it”. It will make all the difference to you staying the course on those good and bad days
✅ Find workouts/ exercise that suit your lifestyle, fit in with your schedule and are sustainable. If it’s all too difficult to stick to you’ll give up!
✅ Prepare! When it comes to nutrition preparation is key. Plan your meals for the week ahead. Meal prep in advance wherever possible. This will mean you always know what your eating. You will never be left hungry with nothing on hand and reaching for the chocolate fix, crisps and cake….. schedule your workouts. Put them in your diary like an appointment and stick to them. Not preparing is preparing to fail.
✅ Be kind to yourself. We all fall off track sometimes but remember keep your mindset positive and allow yourself some bumps along the road. When we start to feel like we are a failure many of us use coping mechanisms like eating and are in the habit of using food to make us feel better. We will reach for the chocolate, take aways or sweet treats and use them to lift our mood. This creates a spiral of disappointment and feeling “blergh” about ourselves so we continue to find solace in food. You have to break the cycle! It’s ok to have a bad day, find a different way to cope: call a friend, take a long hot bubble bath and begin to change your mindset too one where you feel proud of yourself for not allowing that day to become a week/ month/ year and use the next day as a fresh start and a chance to begin again.
Happy New Year!!!
May 2020 bring you all you wish for and if I can help with any of your health and fitness resolutions, get in touch and tell me what you’d like to achieve……. we can chat about your time commitments, nutrition, goals and mindset and look at the most effective ways for you to smash them!
We are in that time of limbo between Christmas and new year when no one really knows what day it is or whether it’s acceptable to still be eating all the chocolates and drinking baileys at midday. It’s usually around this time we begin to think of what we’ve achieved in the past 12 months, all the things we were convinced we would smash in January 2019 and now at the end of the year look back and realise we haven’t got very far and wonder whether we should set the same goals again this year??
How many years have you been trying to achieve the same resolution?
For me this time generally means putting goals together in the form of a vision board. If you are aware of the Law of attraction, this is probably not a new idea to you. If not the law of attraction is a powerful, universal law that provides the opportunity to shape our lives and attract our deepest, greatest desires.
A vision board is an effective tool that uses the law of attraction to stay focused on your goals for the year ahead. It uses visualisation with a collection of images that represent what you want to achieve and draw into your life. It should reflect goals which excite you and create emotion.
Think about what you would like to achieve in each area of your life and be specific. The more detailed the better and find pictures and phrases that represent each of these goals to create a board you can use as a visualisation tool. Be sure to hang your digitally created or hand crafted vision board in a place you will encounter it daily, so you can be reminded of your vision and stay motivated in achieving it.
Now let the universe do its job. Trust and say “yes” when opportunities present themselves…
If you’ve never tried it. Give it a go. If nothing else it will keep you focused on your goals and aware of whether they are changing. When they do, alter the images.
For me the last few years have brung some travel into my life that I would never have expected, a support network of women who are positive and motivated and a business that has shown me I can do hard things and face my fears. All of these things were on my vision board and this year I’m hoping to use the law of attraction and visualisation to continue to create a life that I dream of.
If you are interested in joining me in creating your own vision board. We start a FREE 5 day workshop within our team on Facebook on the 1st January. This year we have decided to open it up to anyone that is interested in joining us. So let me know in the comments if you would like to take part and I’ll send you some info.
Let’s make 2020 the year that we are focused and committed to achieving the life we desire. 👊🏻👊🏻💥💥
As Christmas Day comes to an end, it feels good to be stretched out with the family in front of the television, belly’s full, drink in hand and smiles on our faces. The day has been full of food and merriment, board games and jokes. Another years Christmas memories made which we all cherish as the kids get older and theirs and our lives change.
For me there’s always a point during my day where I take some time to think of those we love that aren’t with us at Christmas. For us there are many but my main focus is my first son, Jermaine, who we spent 13 wonderful Christmas’s with but have now also spent 11 without.
The years go by so quickly but each year I remember those Christmas’s with him, how special they were and how much I’d give to have him here for this one. Life has moved on rapidly and we have fantastic times now with his brothers and sister but for me it always feels like there’s a missing piece of us. A piece of our family puzzle is misplaced and it can never be fixed
I will always remember my boy on these occasions as they are the times you most want to be around those you love. Jermianes birthday was December 1st, so we aways used his birthday as the day we put our Christmas tree up. He loved seeing all the lights and sparkles on the tree and hearing carols and Christmas music. He had learning difficulties, visual impairment, could not communicate verbally and so many health needs, so a sensory task like putting up the tree, with the sparkly tinsel, twinkling lights and Christmas tunes was a real treat for him. You could tell when he was enjoying something by his loud shouts of encouragement or annoyance when things weren’t where he thought they should be and the wee glimpses of a smile on his cheeky chops.
I like to think our loved ones are still with us on these special occasions. Our first Christmas without Jermaine we couldn’t face in our home so we two our two younger boys to centre parcs for a few days. It was the best thing we could have done. Cocooned away from the world we knew. A world that held so many difficult absences, the four of us focused on special memories of Jermaine but also wrapped ourselves and the kids up in love. We were kind to ourselves and our boys and it was a beautiful but hard Christmas.
The Christmases since have changed. We still put the tree up as close to Jermaine’s birthday as we can and take that time to remember him. He’s always here, I feel him but we have new traditions too. Life moves on but my heart always yearns for him more on these special days. That will never change.
If you heart is missing someone close this festive season. Allow yourself to remember them. Talk about them, make them part of your celebrations. It helps me to remember those good times, to hear others talk of him and the times they shared. It cheers me to know he’s still thought of not just by me but others who loved him.
Remember your loved ones at Christmas and focus on the family and friends you have with you too. Knowing we can’t make anymore memories with those that have passed gives more of an appreciation of those we have with us.
Give them that extra big kiss, tighter hug and really listen to them.Give them your time… You never know whether it maybe the last.
Life can be tough but when Christmas festivities hit, it can take that stress to another level. Organising presents, family events, cards, children’s school activities: Christmas jumper day, nativity costume, Christmas disco, Christmas lunch. Mums, the list can feel endless and alongside the pressure we put ourselves to make it “perfect” and added on normal everyday stresses, you may have a recipe for total overwhelm, worry and anxiety!
The biggest Christmas stresses are often:
Cost – I’ve learnt over the years that it’s not about how much you spend. The last 3/4 years we have cut back and no longer spend a small fortune at Christmas. It’s one day and it’s not worth making the months after Christmas full of worry about how your going to pay the bills or the credit card for one day! Christmas is about being with family, being there for others and quality time with them. Don’t make it about how much you can spend.
Gifts – Do you struggle to find the right gift for the right person? Sometimes it’s better to do something small and personal rather than a pricy gadget or item of clothing. Make a gift from the heart. Think about what that person loves and tailor it to that. Often times it is so much more appreciated for the time,effort and thought you’ve put into it.
Family – Just because your family, it doesn’t mean your going to like each other and putting all your family in one room with food and booze and expecting them to all have a good time maybe a recipe for disaster. Sometimes if that’s the case for you, you just gotta get selfish. Put yourself first and let everyone else work out their differences themselves. It may sound harsh but you can’t keep everyone happy all the time and neither should you have too!
High expectations – at Christmas everyone wants fun, food, drink and festivities. Expectations are so high and that means you maybe setting yourself up for a disappointment. It’s ok if the turkeys not perfect, mum and Auntie Ann argue, uncle Steve has too much to drink or the dog nabs the food off the table. Laugh, take it in your stride.
I love Christmas but I sit back every now and then during this season and try and refocus on what the season means to me….
I want to show my kids that Christmas is about a spirit of giving. Not just about receiving presents but of time and support for others. It’s a time to go the extra mile for friends and family, make sure your elderly neighbour is ok, go see them, take cake, give to your local food bank, pay for the persons hot chocolate behind you in the coffee shop. That extra bit of kindess and care is what Christmas is about and if I’m feeling overwhelmed with it all, I will sit back and think about that. Remember that if your house is messy, the gifts are small, you don’t get to every Christmas event at school or Auntie Noras not happy about you not having invited her round, that’s ok!!!!!
It’s ok because not doing those few small things isn’t going to ruin Christmas but it may help to keep you sane and less exhausted from it all, right? So don’t get your tinsel in a tangle this Christmas. Remember to take some time to be present and destress.
What are your top Christmas stresses? And how do you de-stress at this time of year?