Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ten Years - Long and Morose

Ten years ago on the 28th December, I was admitted to hospital, pregnant with Emily and with very high blood pressure. Ten years ago yesterday, I was having steroid injections to boost her lungs in the womb. Ten years ago today, I was a nervous wreck and so was Jon. Ten years ago tomorrow, New Year's Eve 1998, we sat and listened, late at night, to the baby's heart rate dropping on the monitor and it looked as if we were going to have the first baby of 1999. We spent New Year's Day 1999 in a state of fear as the baby's heart rate deteriorated, before finally, in the early hours of the 2nd January 1999, I had the emergency caesarian and tiny, premature Emily was born.

We can't quite believe that ten years have now passed. The last thing Emily's Newborn Intensive Care nurse said to us when we were finally able to take Emily home was "Enjoy her."

Ten years down the line, those words ring in my ears like some kind of siren of guilt. I spent the first four or five years of Emily's life in a deep depression, even though I didn't realise it at the time. Assorted reasons, including my only brother's spiteful and deliberate rejection of my only daughter and his only niece, plus the shock and trauma of Emily's early birth, kept me in a state of anger for years and far too many of my memories of Emily's early childhood are of me being angry for one reason or another. I was a virtual hermit, not even taking turns with Jon to take her to playgroups.

I remember shouting and shouting at a tiny two year old who couldn't get to sleep - why didn't I just pick her up and cuddle her to sleep? I remember exhaustion and pure resentment when a tiny baby, a few months old, wouldn't be put down for even a few moments without crying. Why did I want to put her down in the first place? What I'd give now to get another shot at those moments. Jon was exhausted too when Emily was tiny....but he never lost his temper. My memories are of him as the best father I could ever have hoped for for my child ... my memories of me are of screaming, shouting, walking out of the house and a sinking feeling when my baby woke up.

Of course these are isolated memories - I wasn't a total harridan - but it was an awful time. I loved Emily with all my heart; I wasn't a bad or neglectful parent in that sense, but I was detached and too wrapped up in my own feelings. I now recognise I was ill. So I didn't "enjoy" her (or at least, looking back, I don't seem to remember much of the good times) - and of course, I can never get that time back again.

Things got a lot better once Emily was four or so, and particularly once she was out of school and these days we, all three of us, have a wonderfully close relationship. But this is a very poignant time, as Emily grows out of being a little girl and grows into being a young woman, and large parts of me yearn for the little girl back again so I can have a second chance. I didn't expect to feel this sad or this guilty, so these feelings, largely coming around since Christmas, have hit me quite hard. Jon reassures me that everything was in fact pretty much fine when Emily was little....but even if that's true (and I guess he would have made sure that was the case and would have sought help for me if it wasn't the case)...even if that's true, it's not my memory. What can I do? I'll just have to learn to live with it.

The anger and hatred I still feel towards my brother isn't going to go away - I haven't seen him since Emily was a few months old and I hope I never have to see him again - but ultimately, that's an excuse. I chose to react badly to his spite and crassness and the associated family fall out from it - I could have chosen a different route, but I didn't. I've come to realise that I can't blame anyone else for the way those first few years went, much as I'd like to. I did what I did and I can't undo it or shift the responsibility on to anyone else.

So. As Emily approaches her 10th birthday, I'm filled with very mixed feelings, in common I'm sure with many other parents of growing kids. I'm hoping to shake off my moroseness and guilt by the end of 2008. My one resolution for 2009 is to stop looking backwards, let go of the guilt for mistakes I made and to look ahead to the future. To "enjoy" our beautiful, growing up daughter for every minute from now on and to stop wasting time weeping over things I cannot change.

Wish me luck!

[added]This blog was taken off the Home Ed ring as I hadn't posted.... I can't work out how to put it back on again. It won't let me re-add it at the ring hub; does anyone know what I need to do?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Days

We had a laughter filled Christmas Day :-))

I went to wake Emily up at 6am because I couldn't wait any longer, rofl! On previous years she's brought her stocking into us anywhere between 3am (!!!) and 5am, but I guess she's growing up....anyway, she had a lovely stocking with grown up bits and bobs like perfume samples in it and was extremely chuffed. We had croissants for breakfast and then Emily got to open her main presents from us.

There were considerably fewer presents than in previous years, but Emily loved them all, the main three being a stereo system for the blue room, some stunning goth dolls (move over Barbie...these are very different, to put it mildly, lol) and..... for all of us.... a Nintendo Wii :-))
"Hmm, Mum and Dad said this is my main present, I wonder what it could be?"

"It can't be...can it?"

"Ooooh! It is!!"
We took it downstairs to see Nana, Gramps and Grandad and set up the Wii down there. I was very impressed with how quick and simple it was to set up and within minutes, Emily and Nana were playing bowling, lol. We all had a go at all kinds of things and we also set up the Mario Kart game with two steering wheels, which has proven to be an absolutely huge hit (can't get Emily off it!).

After playing all together with that for a while, Emily opened her presents from Nana, Gramps and Grandad and we grown ups handed out pressies too. Nana and Gramps had put Emily's presents in a big straw filled box like last year, which was extremely popular! In addition to money for a clothes shopping spree, N&G bought Emily lots of little bits and bobs for cooking such as knives, her own mixing bowl, moulds, cake sprinkles, a mouli grater, little electric mixer and so on, so the budding chef was delighted with all that and had a whale of a time chucking the straw around. Grandad gave Emily a Jacqueline Wilson board game which looks like lots of fun.

Can't believe how many orbs there are in these photographs; it's not dust from the straw or anything like that, as I have ones with straw flying around with no orbs in too. Weird.

Grandad also gave Emily three audio tapes..... last year, we gave all three grandparents boxes of questions about their lives, with a request that they either recorded or wrote the answers and gave them back to us this year. Grandad did his on tape, hence the audio tapes. Nana's not quite finished hers yet (saving it for Easter!) but Gramps had gone one better and done a huge book for Emily complete with dozens of old photographs and appendices of information about places he worked and so on, all absolutely beautifully bound up and presented in a handmade slipcase; absolutely stunning heirloom.

Christmas dinner was beautifully cooked by Jon as always; after dinner we, N&G sat down and watched Mamma Mia on DVD, which was lovely (even if the "Slipping Through My Fingers" bit when Mum helps her get ready for the wedding did have me in floods of tears again...) After that we played charades for a while and then last thing at night we all played some more Wii games. Nana was the champion at bowling and did pretty well at golf too!

All in all, it was a lovely, lovely day. Lots of laughter. Grandad was in a bit of a mood and wouldn't join in anything - but then that's what he does and I've given up expecting any different. Nana and Gramps had a great time, I think, and so did we. I'm really glad we bought the Wii - some people I know tend to turn their noses up a that sort of thing, but it's such huge fun and gets everyone involved together.

Today we got up really, really late ........ played more Wii games, including trying to figure out NiGHTS, which is extremely hard ........... ate leftovers, watched another DVD with Nana and Gramps ..... played more Wii and um, played some Wii. And why not? Hope everyone reading had a wonderful, fun-filled day too.

Gulp. Next stop 10th birthday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Three Months

Not sure how I managed to go exactly three months without posting here, but I regret now that I did. I was looking back over the blog the other day and I was sad that there'll be no record to look back on in October, November and December 2009. Oh well. Must try harder!

It's been an eventful time. We went back to St Bees again in October, and Jon went on two more mediumship courses. Emily grew up overnight into a young lady who'll be ten in ten days time - ten going on fifteen, that is; we've had teenage moods in all their glory, but we've also had the most wonderful company you could ask for. Strange, this growing up lark. Emily had her ears pierced recently and is contemplating dying her hair. She's suffering from a type of alopecia areata which is making her eyebrows and eyelashes fall out and her hair is slightly thinning at the temples, bless her, which is affecting her self-confidence and self-esteem quite a lot, and she's also being bothered by early spots. We're focusing a lot on celebrating differences right now. Emily has a interest in all things goth related, but I think she's a bit taken aback that Mum and Dad are more than happy for her to die her hair, experiment with heavy make up and learn about all things "dark", lol - what's she supposed to rebel against?? First photo of pierced ears below :-)

All five cats are happy and healthy, although Cassie-cat is showing her age and looking increasingly frail. She still loves to go out though and is very affectionate. Looking at this picture reminds me that we need to redecorate Emily's bedroom next year. I did say, having done our bedroom and Emily's "blue room" this year that I would never, ever, ever again redecorate anything....but my resolve is weak, so Emily's bedroom, our office and our sitting room next year it is then!

In early January we will be welcoming the pitter patter of two tiny new feet. No, not that kind. Our menagerie will be joined by a baby Congo African Grey Parrot :-)) We have a huge cage and toys waiting and assorted play stands etc as the parrot (tentatively named Lulu, at this stage, but we'll have to see) will spend much of the day out of his/her cage and keeping us company around the house. We need to go right up to North Northumberland to collect him/her but we're so excited! I say him/her because apparently the only way of reliably sexing a parrot is via DNA testing, which we're not having done.

Over the last three months I've worked very hard at Best of the Web, in addition to my normal writing commitments - the new UK & Ireland Directory has finally launched, which I'm very pleased and proud to have been around for. Jon has also been working very hard at his end and we have some very definite career/business plans for the New Year to look forward to. Emily's education has been.... "interesting", especially with the hormone swings factored in. But we're doing OK and we'll be doing even better in the New Year since we've had time recently to discuss together what we're doing and why, and how we want to proceed home-ed wise. One thing that has been going on a huge amount is cooking - Emily now cooks a full meal for us at least once a week and regularly disappears downstairs where she throws together a cake or cookies - without recipe - in minutes. She has a real knack for this kind of thing. Yum, yum!

Other than that brief round up it seems pointless to try catching up on everything I've missed posting, so I'll just pop in some photos from recent months.

Halloween tree and our glorious collection of home grown pumpkins, plus Severus looking like a truly Halloween cat:

Emily experimenting with the knex set and learning about levers by building and working with a set of scales. She also built a grand piano. As you do.

Beautiful kibbies sharing a basket:

In terms of more recent life, last Saturday was the annual Christmas party at Emily's karate club, which she loved. Jon was Father Christmas for the third year running.... even one of the grown ups wanted to sit on his knee, rofl!

We've spent some time recently out in the garden in the dark with lots of hot chocolate and the Christmas lights.

On Sunday, Emily passed a karate grading with flying colours and moved up to purple belt. She's moving into the adult class from January onwards, so she's very excited about that. Yesterday we went to the cinema with Hazel and Romy to see Inkheart; very entertaining, but I gather very different to the book, especially in the ending - perhaps they're not planning to film Inkspell and Inkdeath. We also braved Tesco which was ridiculously busy; we wanted a frozen turkey, but they'd removed all the frozen ones and replaced them with fresh turkeys - for up to £50 a throw. Yes, ladies and gents, that's fifty pounds for a turkey. OK. Refused to pay that and went away without one. Jon later found on in the Co-op for a fifth of the price. What happens to people at Christmas time? It's insane. Today, Emily's made Kirsch truffles as a gift for someone and has also made marzipan biscuits for Christmas day and used quilling to make three beautiful Christmas cards for Nana, Gramps and Grandad.

And that's that, news wise. Christmas Eve tomorrow :-)) Wishing everyone a very Merry and Peaceful Christmas with family and loved ones.