Living with grief

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In July I lost my mum to breast cancer. This is not a post about my mum, her illness or our loss. Simply because it is too painful for me to write about and I wouldn’t make it through the first paragraph.

It’s a post about me and my grief, the grief that I live with every day.

I thought about calling the title of this post coping with grief, but I couldn’t as some days I don’t feel like I’m coping at all. I don’t want people googling how to cope with grief like I did in the early days and finding my article, as I don’t have any answers, only my experiences.

The best way I can describe my grief now, six months on from our loss, is like a tap in my heart is leaking. A slow drip drip drip of thoughts, memories and pain that flit across my mind for a few moments every day. Happy thoughts, desperately sad thoughts, and everyday thoughts about my mum, they all come. And they all add to the leak.

Then one day, my bucket is full and it overflows. It’s doesn’t take anything special to make this happen, it is inevitable, any one of the drips can be the one that causes the overflow.

Then I break, the leak pours out in tears, and a hole in my chest suddenly feels empty and hollow. The world seems wrong and I feel lost, alone and panicked. The pain feels just as raw as it ever did. Endless and overwhelming.

The only thing I can do is let it out.

If I don’t have time, if I’m driving or looking after Jake then I can only let out a little, relieve the pressure and then plug the leak. Refuse to think about it and bottle it up tight. If not, I find it best to get as much out as possible, cry until I can’t cry any more, empty the bucket, ready to start again.

People say that time heals. For me I feel like there will always be whole in my heart.Iit will never be the same. I’ve been broken in a way that can never be fixed. I do think over time the leak will get smaller and my bucket will get bigger so the overflow will be less often.

I live with my grief every day. It’s always there in some degree or another. This doesn’t stop me smiling or laughing, playing with my child or enjoying my life. At times I feel guilty about this, but then I think to myself how disgusted my mum would be with me if I threw away my life to embrace my grief. So I carry on, in this world that will never completely feel the way that it should, because I have no choice.

I will live with my grief, ever present. Accept it as a part of my life, as part of me. I will battle it along the way.

I will not let it consume me.

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Our experience at baby signing

I take Jake to a number of baby groups and classes but the only one I choose to pay for is baby signing. The others that I go to are all run by the local children’s centres (can’t speak highly enough of them!) so are all free.IMG_1017

If I’m honest I didn’t know much about baby signing before I went and I wasn’t particularly interested in it as a concept as I did think it was a bit “hippy ish”. The reason I joined was because a lady I knew from a previous job had just become an instructor and was setting up a new class, so I felt a bit more confident going to something new with Jake when I already new a friendly face (a purely selfish reason but it gave me a bot more confidence in the early days!)

We’re now in our second tern at baby signing and I’m so glad I went and am a total convert to the benefits of babies learning simple sign language.

If you’re not to aware of the concept behind baby signing the general theory is that babies can understand you and are capable of communicating back to you long before they can actually talk. Teaching the baby simple sign language for certain important words (mummy / daddy/ milk / food etc.) allows them to communicate effectively with you and prevents a lot of frustration on both sides.

Now that I’ve been going to the class I can testify that it does work (not for us yet, but I’ll get on to that). Jake has two older cousins who have both recently turned two. Both of them are talking but still have a limited vocabulary to a handful of words and get frustrated when they are not understood. From my experience the children who regularly attend baby signing all performed their first signs around the 11 months / 1 year age and their range of “vocabulary” in terms of signs they can do is on a par with what the two years old I know can do. To me this means that it helps bring your child’s communication on a year or so before they would be able to “talk” the same words.

The children at the class I go to are able to do the signs for thank you / mummy / daddy/home/dog /hello / milk / food and hot The oldest child currently being 13 months – personally I think that’s really impressive!

I must point out that this is just my own experience and I’m not sure what the official baby signing people say is achievable etc. – this is just my own experience and deductions.

Jake and I are now in our second term at baby signing and as he is only 7 and a half months old I’m not expecting to start signing anything back to me for a while yet. What I am certain of is that he is taking it all in and when he is ready he will be able to communicate back to me. As long as we regularly keep going to the class and doing the signs at home too.

The classes we go to are run in a simple fun way predominantly around singing nursery rhymes and songs that include the specific signs you are trying to teach that week. followed by some free play time for the babies and mummies to socialise and have a cup of tea and a biscuit. I’ve met some lovely mums and babies going to the baby signing classes and would highly recommend them to people simply as a fun and social thing to do with your child that also has the added benefit of helping them communicate in their pre talking years.

For reference the classes we go to are run by Tiny Talk and cost £65 for a 12 week term.

I love my dressing table!!

Is it weird that I love my dressing table so much??dressing table 1

I love having all my little bits of prettiness on display, in my own little corner of our room. Just looking at them all makes me feel instantly happier.

This is my new dressing table in our new house. Its a lovely indulgence as our bedroom is bigger I can fit in a bigger dressing table and therefore I have more space to display my things, and a whole draw for my hair / makeup / girly bits and bobs – which I spent far too much time organising over the weekend!
In a bit more detail, on the dresser itself I have an alarm clock and lamp (for practical reasons) I use two mug trees to hold my hair bands, necklaces, and bracelets. The jewellery box was a Christmas present which I LOVE as it holds all my favourite pieces of jewellery and the draws are big enough for me the items stored in their boxes, which is something that I like to do for my more expensive pieces. On top of my jewellery box is an earing holder which was another Christmas present, next to that is a tiny wooden elephant that I got in Thailand when I was travelling.

earing holderDo you have a little corner of your house that is just for you? What d you have in it?

A new identity

Seven months ago I would have described myself as a young professional.IMG_0173

I had a successful career as a procurement manager and had even picked up a national award as “young professional of the year”. I found this an easy identity to live up to and found that I fitted the stereotype very well. I went to the gym. Enjoyed a somewhat disposable income allowing us to have lovely holidays as well as days out and trips to the cinema. I was ambitious and driven and worked hard – but inside I harboured a secret.

I wanted to be a housewife and stay at home mum.

This was at conflict with everything I felt my success in my career demanded and expected of me. Therefore I kept it quiet. I didn’t tell anyone how I felt. I felt almost fraudulent that I had been so successful in such a short time in a career that I never intended to keep, that giving it all up would seem ungrateful and people would think that I had wasted both my time an effort as well as that of others who had helped and supported me along the way.

The only person who truly knew how I felt was my husband. He has always supported me in my career and he has just as easily supported me in deciding to give it all up, for which I will be forever grateful and feel so immensely lucky.

I am now a house wife and stay at home mum to a seven month old. Instead of the gym I do the “big shop” I stay in and do the housework, and cook dinner. I play and get messy and go for walks. I change nappies and get covered in sick every single day.

My lifestyle is completely different. But I am the same.

I am intelligent and articulate. I am passionate and driven. I just channel these attributes in a different way. I love my family and I love my life.

I am not defined by my job or my title. I am simply me.

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Fun on the farm!

Today Jake and I went to Highfields Happy Hens in Etwall Derbyshire for an afternoon out with some friends from one of our baby groups

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Happy Hens is a working farm that has a small petting zoo area and some indoor and outdoor play areas as well as a tea room. Its usually about £5 to get in but on Tuesdays in term time its only £2 and under two’s are free so it’s a nice cheap day out if you have a little one. It was quite a cold wet day so we were only walking around the farm for about 40 minutes or so. In the summer you could spend a lot longer playing outside and having a picnic etc.

If I’m honest I thought a lot of the equipment looked quite dated, but for such a cheap day out you can’t complain and the children wouldn’t notice or care. A good tip would be to take some wipes / hand wash with you as it is a farm and their are a lot of droppings etc on the ground even in the play areas, as they use hay on the floor.

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We had lunch in the small tea room on site. The food was lovely and fresh and really good value for money. There is also a farm shop where you can buy the produce the farm produces which is always something I like to do.

Jake seemed really interested in looking at the animals especially the sheep and cows and he seemed utterly confused when I plonked him down for a photo on a bale of hay!

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All in all it was a nice day out that cost next to nothing and definitely one to repeat in the summer.