Goodbye Disney. Hello War Horse

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By the time I was nine, I was happily watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th and Halloween. My eldest is nearing that age, and as I really can’t bear to sit through Annie or Frozen for the millionth time I’ve decided it’s time to start watching some *proper films*.

I am giving my old slasher favourites a miss for now. We decided to start with Spielberg’s War Horse, both having a passionate attachment to a furry animal. It’s a long film but we managed to watch it in one go. Athough she did rainbow loom me an anklet as we watched. Apart from the scene when Joey runs amok in No Man’s Land, no cushions were required over face. We spoke about trenches, the massive loss of young life, and the sheer horror of having to say goodbye to a son or brother as they went off to war. Tonight she wants to start the Twilight saga. I’ve said no but I’m meeting her half way. We are watching Jaws.

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Waiting

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This is as far away from God’s waiting room as you can possibly get. The other end of the scale. I’m told God wouldn’t approve of this particular waiting room anyway. If you listen to the Catholic Church, this is a gift, not an entitlement.

But actually, I think the kindly God that I believe in, would approve.

I sit and wait for my answer. I’m waiting to hear if my son, returned to me just two weeks ago, can stay.

I’m about to hear if he’s here for the long haul. Where he belongs. Or if he’s already left. Without me even knowing he’s gone.

To come so far, and leave with nothing scares me. But for now, silent pleas fill my head. Let this be right and let him stay.

They call my name.

BINGO. He can stay. The rest is up to me. The clinic will sign me over to my GP.

Eight months later, his name sits on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority database. A live IVF birth. One of more than 4 million children.

My views on IVF were laughably different five years ago. Of course we shouldn’t meddle with life. Where will it end?

Last year, one of the co-founders of IVF techniques died. My mother drew my attention to a reader’s letter in The Guardian.  Given the joy he gave to so many, shouldn’t Sir Robert Edwards be awarded the pomp of a ceremonial funeral? I agreed. He should. I would have stood and given thanks. For he gave me my son.

Just like any other baby. He smiles, he climbs, he hurtles around the house and the garden at a rate of knots. Oh, and he has a spot on the back of his neck perfect for kissing. It makes him giggle. And before I know it, he’ll be going to school.

I wonder how I went through IVF without going completely mad.

I didn’t realise how infertility changed me.

 

 

 

I’d like a cat thanks

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I had an epiphany over night. I’m 41 not 42.

Obviously some hideous mix up with dates. Good.

Only I’m not.  Perimenopausal night sweats must have confused me. Am indeed 42.

Either way I still had a seventies childhood. Raising children back then seemed a bit like owning a cat. Let the buggers roam free all day. Call them in when the street lights go on. Job done. Grand time had by all.

I’ve read it produced a generation of free thinking, risk-takers. That’s me.

This is what I do every morning:

  • Strap children securely in car
  • Drive 2 miles to school
  • Battle for space with sturdy 4X4s
  • Walk eight year old to the door
  • Wait until she is safely inside
  • Feel bad I’ve forgotten sunscreen

When I pick her up, she’ll spend the evening on her trampoline. Full safety enclosure. Took 3 years to buy. I was worried she would injure herself.

Free speech

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My daughter is learning her words for the end of term performance.  She speaks with confidence and relishes an audience.  In that respect she’s won before she’s started. I’ll be proud.

But I’ll worry too. For I knew a little girl, exactly the same age, who was very similar. Then one morning she stood up in front of the whole school to read the morning prayer and her words wouldn’t come. They didn’t really come back. She stuttered her way through life for the next ten years.

Back then, very little help was available.  Teachers and parents turned a blind eye. Hoping, I guess, that it would disappear as quickly as it came.  But it didn’t. She had good friends who spoke for her, finished her sentences.  But when you can’t even tell someone your name, you become someone very different to the person you maybe should have been.

My daughter appears blessed. She seems to have inherited all of our good traits and none of the bad. But she is so like me. What if she’s also inherited that genetic link? That glitch in the brain? What if one day she stands up like her mummy all those years ago and finds her words don’t come?

Crossing the line

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So I’m 42 and a half.

An eight-year old, a baby and a dog. A much spoilt, most beloved dog. She brings me peace. I will give her the world in return.

I think I’m happy.  It’s not where I saw myself but it’s where I’m at. I guess I should be where my friends are. Children growing up, getting to the point where you can start having a meaningful relationship with your husband again. Without the baby being sick or the four-year old sneaking downstairs after bedtime five times in a row.

Except I’m not – the bugger went and left me for someone else 6 years ago.
Such a cliché. Such a horrible time.

We have danced over the years, got back together and then he’s gone. Again. Somewhere in among the mess, we had a second child. A fresh start. Until he left.  Again.

He has treated me better than anyone ever has in my life, and treated me the worst.

I know what you’re thinking.
“Grow some balls. Divorce him”
But I can’t. Not yet. Maybe soon. Maybe never.
We don’t remain married for the children. We remain married for ourselves. Drawing a line in the sand may prove too much.

I am the first to defend him. He is the first to defend me.  He remains the person who can make me laugh till I feel sick.  I can make him laugh until he can’t breathe.

Despite all that murky water under the bridge, we still love each other. Hate too. But I don’t think he’s hating me. I think he’s hating himself. And that’s even sadder.  I did tell you I was the first to defend him.

As I sit here surveying the mess that we got into, one thing haunts me.
If he died tomorrow, would his family invite me to his funeral? And if they did, would I even go?

But I do know that I’d go and sit at his grave a few days later.

And I think we‘d talk.

And maybe then, we could do what we failed to do in this lifetime and put it behind us. And find our peace.