Having the courage to believe

This week, I attended my 8-year-old son’s parents’ evening. Like many parents at this time of year, I was keen and somewhat nervous to see how he was getting on.

In the past, before my eldest child died, I was guided a lot by the grades my children achieved. Abi, my eldest child, always did very well. Effortlessly getting good grades due to her natural affinity to the school system and learning. My second child was similar; a good all rounder with a creative flair. My son has found learning at school harder to adjust to. As one of the youngest in his class, he was at a slight disadvantage to his peers. He’s bright enough and loves maths, but he’s not keen on writing or reading in a structured way. He tends to worry about getting things wrong and will simply ‘switch off’ when he can’t handle something. Yet he’s happy and his confidence in himself is growing all the time.

When Abi died, my perspective on many things changed. Everything seemed insignificant… of course it was… but it was such a big thing to adjust to that no one warned me about. I suddenly didn’t know what to care about anymore. But as their routines didn’t stop, I needed to somehow find a way to continue to support my children’s schooling. Our children need to see that we care about all the things they do.

Three years on, I’m in a fairly happy place with this now; my focus centres on my children’s overall happiness and wellbeing. The grades don’t really matter. Clearly, I see the value of learning essentials such as English and mathematics, but I’m not fussed about them achieving the ever-pressured targets set by the government. I firmly believe in a rounded education that includes sports, arts, faith, hobbies and just plain old having fun.

It was something the teacher said that struck me the most about his progress. He was sat at a table with his peers and they were talking about God and Jesus. Everyone except my son said they didn’t believe in Him, they made jokes about Jesus and giggled about it. It wasn’t a deep theological debate this was just 8-year-olds having a chat. But my son went against their opinions and admitted he believed in God, and he said this with simple and honest courage in his convictions. The teacher noticed this and commented on it to us.

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Giving up the guilt about screen time

Screens – tablets, phones, computers, TVs, kindles – how much do you love yours?

I’m in the ‘love them a lot but hate them a little bit too’ group.

The use of smartphones and tablets in particular is such a contentious issue it seems, but we all still have them, and have come to rely on them and the technology they give us at our fingertips, even if we actually dislike it!

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What a baby sock taught me about grief

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This tiny sock, apart from being utterly cute, revealed a lot to me about how my shopping habits have changed over the past 14 months.

Abi had not long turned 12 and, now that she was at secondary school, she had become more interested in fashion; New Look was a particular favourite shop of hers.

It was great shopping with her; typical mum/daughter time like I imagined when she was little. I loved our sprees and would happily spend money on clothes for her as it was a pleasure to see her growing up. She was great company. But then she died…

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Surviving grief

Surviving my bereavement is not something I feel I’ve achieved by any means, yet, but I am beginning to see that in order to survive the loss of my child, I’ve needed to find and maintain a balance between grieving and living.

‘Surviving’ feels like an unusual word to use when I consider that it’s me who is still here with my life ahead of me, but the grief that I’ve seen and have felt has the potential to end that life – socially, mentally, physically or even literally. It’s a scary prospect that sorrow and despair – and, dare I say, an unavoidable self-pity – could easily eclipse everything and everyone that was once so important to me. Nobody knows just how grief will affect them until they are faced with it.

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A small request…

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Please, Mum and Dad…
My hands are small, I don’t mean to spill my drink.
My legs are short – please slow down so I can keep up.
Don’t slap my hands when I touch something bright and pretty. I don’t understand.
Please look at me when I talk to you. It lets me know you are really listening.
My feelings are tender – don’t nag me all day. Let me make mistakes without feeling stupid.
Don’t expect the bed I make or the picture I draw to be perfect. Just love me for trying.
Remember, I am a child, not a small adult. Sometimes I don’t understand what you’re saying.
I love you so much. Please love me just for being myself, not just for the things I can do.
(Author unknown)