Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Kindness and Tears

I wrote this post on the tube last week after a particularly lovely meeting with a particularly lovely old friend.  In that meeting I felt the tap turn a little as my eyes welled up a few times during our conversation.  I felt moved to write about how I might go about taking on board his parting comment, and being kind to myself.

Walk at the pace you feel like walking as often as you can.
Let the tears trickle when someone moves you.
Accept the compliments you're lucky enough to receive.
If you must analyse what you did to deserve that compliment, do so by defining your part in this thing that someone admired.
Heed advice from people you instinctively trust.
If you don't have room in your baggage for this advice, store it somewhere you'll easily find it again.
And try to take your own advice if you're sure you believe that you give it in truth.
Clap and cheer to your heart's content regardless of whether the people around you are doing the same.
Take a long, deep, slow breath whenever you feel the need.
Identify the people you meet who can see into your soul and try to keep them in your life.
Believe in your own potential as much as you hope that others will.
Enjoy the birds and trees and flowers
Hug your loved ones
Smile at strangers
Cook nice food and concentrate when tasting it
Write when the mood takes you, with a pen, a phone or a keyboard.
Try to embrace the constant movement of life and stop working so hard on that dam you've been building
Keep your softest part only for those who will value it.
Trust your voice and your heart

When I got home, all floaty and happy, I was brought back down to earth with a bump through tales of more behavioural mayhem with my little man.  A deep fury and impotent rage started to build at how the incident had been handled.  Mummy guilt flooded in, confusion as to what exactly had happened, fear at what this continuing pattern is suggesting and all kind of everything.
I guess with my soft bit having come up to say hello just a few hours earlier, I called my mum saying "please can you calm me down" which seemed to be code for "help me to open up" because I knew that simply having to talk to her on the phone would stop me squashing the threatened tears.

So I started to cry, and cry some more, to my mum, to my friend whose little boy had been at the sharp end of L's foot, quietly while Daddy did storytime with the boys, and later with my most welcome diarised therapy session. 

For nearly a week I've sat on the initial post, not quite sure whether or how to publish it.  But today it seems to work as part of a clear picture of my constantly changing emotions and I am glad not to feel ashamed of it at all.

Monday, 14 February 2011


I walk past this image at least once a day in the park at the end of my street .  I could take a more direct route through to the tube station, but always find my feet walking me this way.  This morning I realised it was time to pen a small note to work out why. 

What I see here is intricate and interesting and kind of wrong in the middle of a park full of neat, planned and ordered foliage.  It strikes me every day and I have thought more than once about stopping the park keeper to ask how long it has been there?  Whether the ivy affects the health of the tree?  Is that a stump it’s growing on?  Whether they ever think about cutting it down and releasing the tree of its needy interloper? Or which of them actually came first?
But I never do. (Not just because I think the park keeper hates me, you see unlike the other gardeners there with whom I have a happy hello-filled acquaintance, he either avoids my eye with no great subtlety or gives me a grudging smile if he absolutely has to…Anyway, I digress)….
I don't ask because I just love it as it is.  Love that I don't really know whether it is a stump covered in ivy, opportunistically grabbing onto a tree that was unfortunate to be standing right next to it.  Or that the new tree was planted next to an old thing and they’ve developed a symbiotic need and love for each other.  I love that it makes me slow down, often stop, just to look across and down and up to see whether I can see the join.  Whether the tree is behaving as it should and marvelling at the sheer tenacity of that ivy. 
I even enjoy the comparisons I find and the images it puts in my head; about me, my son, his magic DNA, what a pretty way to see something uninvited become so very…necessary somehow.
However I mostly love that in this picture, the sun is shining down on them both, as it does on us all.  Plain or startling, boring or exciting, healthy or wizened, different or the same.  Not how anyone planned it I’m sure, but glorious nonetheless.

You can also find this blog post at

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Ode to Special Mummies Everywhere

I wrote this email in response to a plaintive cry from a dear friend from our C18 register.  An eminently sensible, intelligent and capable woman who had just returned from the latest in a long list of specialist appointments where it was down to her to direct the doctors who are supposed to have been watching her darling child carefully. And unfortunately down to her to point out that they'd missed something vital.

As I sped my way down the Northern Line from work to home I typed and grinned and hoped that this would cheer her up as much as it did me as I typed.
Thankfully it did.

Dear parent

Thank you for your post that our readers all understand and Gah! in support of. 

One small error however that we feel we have to correct is your assertion that you don't have any letters after your name, unlike the so-called experts you are faced with.

It is therefore our pleasure to inform you that due to sterling work as a member of the "special parent" group for almost a decade, you are now officially qualified as an orthopaedic, renal, cardiac, endocrine, audiology, educational, podiatry, opthalmic, pulminary, maxillo-facial, speech, OT, PT specialist. 

Please feel free to add any appropriate letters after your name (and a sneaky FU should you be having a bad day) and carry on the great work.

Exhaustedly (and sometimes inebriatedly) yours

Sara J, joint spokesperson for the "I don't Know How You do It" support group

Hooray for friends and support groups, the kindness of strangers and caring people everywhere.  What would we do without each other.