Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Fight Song Matilda style!

My 13 year old and I went to watch Matilda the musical this evening and it was amazing. I mean, it was amazing. Matilda sings the song ‘Naughty’ in the midst of a really awful scene, her father rejecting her, calling her names. Her mother no better. These are some of the words from that song:

‘Just because you find that life's not fair it
Doesn't mean that you just have to grin and bear it
If you always take it on the chin and wear it
Nothing will change.

Even if you're little, you can do a lot, you
Mustn't let a little thing like, 'little' stop you
If you sit around and let them get on top,
you might as well be saying
You think that it's okay
And that's not right!’

Can I just put it out there for you to hear, I tell you no lie when I say that in the last few years I have yelled many times: ‘That’s not fair!’ Life just isn’t fair sometimes. Your kids get sick, very sick like mine did. Or you lose your job, your marriage struggles, your boss is a bully, you get depression, chronic pain…I could go on but you know what life can throw at you sometimes.

When the tough comes and it does, we have a choice to make. Do I take it on the chin and bear it or do I sit up and say, ‘That’s not right!’ If I just sit and moan that it is unfair my life has been turned upside down by illness, then Matilda says I am just saying that it is ok. IT IS NEVER OK!! Yes I am shouting. I tell you why I am shouting. At some point, after a bit of thumb sucking and allowing other people to pat you on the back and say, ‘There, there..’, you have a choice to make. Stand up and fight for what is rightfully yours to have or sit and let it get on top of you. Health is yours to have, freedom, trust, love, a steady job….

They told me that her case was complex, that her prognosis for recovery was poor because her anorexia had comorbids that made her difficult to treat. So, I dusted myself off, sucked my thumb one last time and went to war. Because ‘That’s not right!’ And even if I am little, I can do a lot, I mustn’t let a little thing like ‘little’ stop me…. We will win this battle and you will win yours if you choose to go to war for what is rightfully yours! This, my friends, is my Fight Song….

Friday, 13 May 2016


I want to start writing down ‘our’ story. The ‘once upon a time’ but ‘not a fairy-tale at all’ story of how my little girl got taken hostage by anorexia, the battle scars we all acquired trying to set her free. But writing it down makes me relive moments I want to forget, so I procrastinate and hoover the floor instead. To make things more difficult for me, according to the personality tests we did in the women’s group at church, my personality type finds starting projects exciting but finishing them boring. This is slightly true of me…. Ok, don’t all shout at once, it is very true of me. I have many, many half sewn skirts and blouses in my sewing box, some half painted pillow cases I started in December for the new sofa. When I was pregnant with my eldest I started knitting her a beautiful, pastel jumper. It is in a box in the loft, one sleeve and half of a front panel, still on the knitting needles. She is turning 16 in September. … even finishing this small post is tough- I can see the hoover out of the corner of my eye…

I recently helped a friend move some of her late father’s belongings into storage, a painful process of realising an entire lifetime of living can amount to a few boxes of china cups and paintings. I don’t want my future grandchildren sifting through my life and finding half-finished projects that made no difference to the world, that didn’t change one thing for anybody in pain. Half-finished projects that couldn’t keep a baby warm, despite all my dreams and great intentions. A half written account of how God’s grace brought us through the battle and how the scars we have can help others….

So, when you see me, ask me if I have been hoovering or putting words to paper. Don’t be disappointed if I tell you how clean the floor is though.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Self confessed 'helicopter parent'

My teenage daughter is always late for school. No, that is not fair, she was on time today so ‘always’ would be an exaggeration. ‘Mostly’ late for school is a better word… And I am a proper, self-confessed ‘helicopter mother’. If you don’t know about helicopter parenting then let me explain, we hover and wait for things not to go as planned. It doesn’t take long, they are teenagers after all. Then we jump in and rescue the child from impending doom. We go home and make a cup of tea and pat ourselves on the back, saving our children from life is hard work.

Disasters come in all shapes: Late for school? don’t worry just jump into my car and I will break every road traffic law to get you to school on time. Lost your English literature book? Again? I am on Amazon ordering you a new copy before you even finished that smoothie I just made you. Forgot your PE kit? Don’t fret, I will drop it off at the school office. Last time I dropped the PE kit, I apologised to the lady at reception, ‘I know I should just let her suffer the consequences but…’ She cut me off, face stern, ‘I have given up telling you parents to stop saving your children.’

Now, don’t you judge me, I am not stupid… I am aware that they will not learn to take the stupid PE kit to school if they know I will run after them with it when they do. I know…  I share with you because I made myself laugh today whilst weaving in and out of traffic, trying to get to school before the pink slips get handed out. I nearly got hit by a number of cars and buses on the way, not due to my driving…I don’t think it was due to my driving… My thought with every near miss was not, ‘Gosh, I am glad no damage was caused to the cars or people.’ No, no my friend, my thought was, ‘Gosh, glad I didn’t need to stop and get out of the car.’ Why? Because I had jumped into the car in my PJ’s and flip flops, hair unbrushed and dirty. I had brushed my teeth, that that was a relief. So, I was grateful that I was not in a collision so that I didn’t have to been seen out on the road looking like I had slept on that road.

We spoke about finding our identity in Jesus last night in our women’s group and not in the superficial, in the way we dress and what we look like. Perhaps I still need to work more on where I find my identity because what I looked like really mattered to me this morning. God doesn’t care about my PJ’s, he cares about my heart.

Now, please excuse me, I have a helicopter to polish and prepare for take off, the lunch box that was left on the kitchen counter needs to be flown to school…  

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Fretting and being a mum...

I had moment today, not one of the ‘lock myself in the closet and scream’ moments. A rare moment when God pulls back a little of the wrapping paper and I get a glimpse of the gift He has for me, for my girls, my family.

I would be a gold medallist in the sport of fretting over my kids. Most of my brain cells are on a loop, day and night, calculating and mapping, worrying about my 2 girls. I worry that we are giving them too much freedom and then I worry we are holding them too close. I worry about the friends they make and then I fret that they might be lonely. I could go on and list more but you would get bored with the trivial nature of my thought patterns. I guess the moment I held my screaming new born in my arms, I inherently believed that I was going to make a royal mess of this parenting thing, I mean, I could hardly look after myself.

My mother was only just 21 when she gave birth to me. Pregnant out of wedlock, in apartheid South Africa. Getting pregnant when you weren’t married was nearly as bad as murder. My father’s family begrudgingly accepted my mother into their fold, mind you only after the vows were exchanged. She always carried the shadow of the shame, the stain of sex before marriage. Can I just point out now that the product of that shame was me, little old me. I know that my mother worried about us, all the time. The family pointed out to her often that she was too strict, that she was too this, too that. I remember her crying often about how she could never be enough. She suffered from post-natal depression, she got ill, hospital ill. She struggled to manage her strong emotions, living with her was like living in the eye of a tornado, you knew you were ok but if the wind changed even the slightest, then chaos erupted.

But she loved me. She loved, loved, loved, loved me and my brother and my sister.

What was my moment then? It was this. As my mother sat nursing me in the hot, humid South African air and dreamed of who I might become, she could not have seen me walking in the cool, spring air in England 42 years later. She could not have seen that I would know love and peace so strong that it takes my breath away.

I am not sure she understood that God had my life all mapped out before she even met my father. Oh, God knew about the bad choices I would make and still make, the roads that became really long and rocky because of them. He knew the tears, the pain we would endure as a family. He knew I would cry, holding onto my daughter as she suffered, raging against her own illness. It is mystery to me how God always works things for the good of those that love him. And how He always carries me through.

My moment? I suddenly understood that my life is so much more than my mother could have dreamt, filled with so much joy despite the hard times- all her anxiety about getting it right and about my poor choices was wasted time and energy- I was held by the One that created me, held every moment. And so are my girls. I shouldn’t waste another moment trying to worry things better for them. The One that created them has it covered.