Love and Marriage

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“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

On Christmas Day 2013, OH went all emotional on me and asked me to marry him. I watched him wavering about on one knee and briefly wondered if Alan Titchmarsh was going to burst through the door, trowel in hand, shouting, ‘DOOANT MARRY ‘IM, CUM WI’ UZ LASS!’

This did not happen.

So I said, ‘Yeah, go on then’.

The plan was to remain engaged for a few years but then we came to do our wills earlier this year and found out that we’d have to pay again once we got married so I said ‘Sod THAT for a game of conkers, matey, we’ll do it now.’

So here I am, about to dip my toe in the marital pool for the second time but, to be honest, I feel a bit of a tit getting married at 45 years of age because I’m menopausal. I AM WITHOUT OESTROGEN, for God’s sake!

Me and OH have opted for a registry office wedding and as weddings go, it’s low key. Any lower and we’d be having it in McDonald’s. Even so, I’ve allowed myself a few bridal treats..

~The Dress~

Having been around the block more times than my old Yaris, I decided to leave the virginal white for ladies with, er, less miles on the clock.

So, in the absence of my mum, I dragged a reluctant OH into town and after ten minutes of effing and blinding trying to prise myself into a selection of dresses, I settled on my fourth choice which was a black and cream number. It’s floaty, stylish and more importantly, it disguises my mammoth rear-end and tree-trunk thighs. The downside is that it’s sleeveless and despite going all out with the dumbbells over the last few months.. my triceps are still refusing to come out from behind the flab, dammit!

~ The Coiffure ~

I’ve had my roots done and I’ll be in for a wash & blow job on the day of the wedding. No ‘up do’s. No tiaras. No frills. Simples and therefore, cheap.

~ Make-Up~

I’m doing my own, people. I’ve seen what passes for make-up trends these days and I don’t want OH thinking he’s marrying Lily Savage!

The only change to my usual make-up regime will be some waterproof mascara for when the tears start (when we have to PAY THE BILL) and some lipstick – menopausal red, to match my cheeks!

However, I have booked a lady to come and spray-tan me a few days before the wedding. This is because I have legs with varicose veins on them and it looks like I’ve slept on a road atlas, innit. I’ve never had a spray tan done professionally before and my own pathetic attempts at tanning have resulted in zebra style striping and fingers that look like I’m on 60 B&H a day. I’m hoping for ‘natural glow’ as opposed to looking like I’ve been creosoted. Fingers crossed!

~Shoes~

Black. Nuff said?

~Bag~

Has to be big enough to hold: mobile phone, wet-wipes, plasters, tissues, lipstick, pit spray, brush, Rescue Remedy, Tena pads, emergency bog roll and S’ paraphernalia including Kindle, Nintendo DS, headphones, cuddly toy, snacks, drinks, Lego *pauses for breath*

Do they do holdalls in black suede?

~ Flowers ‘n’ Stuff ~

Originally, I wasn’t going to bother with flowers. Then I decided to have a posy made up for me and a buttonhole for OH. My posy will go on mum and dad’s grave and OH’s buttonhole, on his mum’s. I feel sad that they can’t be here to celebrate our special day but I know they will be with us in spirit.

What the day lacks in pomp and ceremony, I hope it will more than make up for with fun and laughter because that’s what I want to remember when I look back on the day. Hopefully nobody gets mullered and ends up in the pool minus their Speedo’s but seeing as I can only manage a pint without falling into a coma these days (and I can’t swim) I can rest easy that at least it won’t be me.

It’s been hard not having my mum here to help me plan things. I miss her beyond words. I miss them both, so much.

Life can be a heartless bitch at times but it’s what we make of the rest of it that matters. I’m here because my parents loved each other and the best way that I can honour them on my wedding day is to enjoy it and make some happy memories. It’s what they’d want. It’s what any parent would want for their child, no matter how old they are.

~ Words of Thanks ~

Ma would be happy to know that I’ve made some wonderful friends including some amazing online ones and a few in ‘real life’. One friend is making our wedding cake as a gift. Another has offered to mind S for a few hours if it gets too much for him and we have been given the most beautiful picture as a gift from a lady who I’ve never met but feel like I’ve always known. I’ll treasure it, always.

Finally, I’d like to thank my long suffering OH who still wants to marry me, despite having more than than enough evidence to have me put away in a secure psychiatric unit. Not many men would put up with my shit but he does a magnificent job of tolerating me. Hopefully we’ll reach a fine old age without one of us having put the other under the patio but I’ve measured it up, just in case.

Of course I’m KIDDING!

Or am I?

To be continued….

Image Credit by Jo Christian Oterhals Via Creative Commons

mumturnedmom

Shining Star

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You’re a shining star, no matter who you are
Shining bright to see what you can truly be ~ Shining Star ~ Earth Wind and Fire

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been three years since I sat on the stairs listening to my little boy trash his bedroom in rage..

I remember staring at a big dent in the wall where he’d smashed the door back with such force that it knocked the plaster out. The fact that it was a rented house only added to the stress of the situation because ,at this rate, we would be kissing goodbye to our £450 bond.

My head felt sore from where he’d yanked my hair hair out and I had absolutely no idea why my child (who had been happy and smiling one minute) was now angrily launching his toys against the bedroom wall (I’d removed anything that could cause damage to him or the house, obvs) Was it something I’d done or said? Seemingly it came out of the blue..

Similar incidents had happened before but never to this degree. I’d experienced toddler tantrums with C but this was wasn’t in the same league and C’s tantrums were spectacularly bad.

I was unable to calm S down and it was impossible to reason with him. Bribery? That failed as well. Ma had died the year before so I could no longer lean on her for support while OH was at work. Never in my 24 years of being a mother had I felt so alone or such a failure. It was a difficult day, to say the least.

Only it wasn’t a tantrum.. it was a meltdown and S was diagnosed with ASD and Sensory Processing Disorder a year and half later. Finally it all made sense. I wasn’t a shit mother. My child was autistic!

I have documented S’ journey from diagnosis in this blog. We have had nothing but love and support from the onset from the professionals and the school. Knowing that a lot of parents struggle to get the right support for their autistic children, I count ourselves fortunate.

When S started school, he had major problems with the worst being social and communication. It became obvious that the 15 hours of support (as per his statement) weren’t enough. He had support in the morning but was out of control in the afternoon, especially at playtime’s or during other unstructured activities. I was getting regular phone calls to go and calm him down. The school requested more support, which they were granted, and then things improved in the afternoons as well.

The school have concentrated on his strength, which is maths. Last year, he wowed the school by being able to recite the entire twelve times table! Not many five year old’s can do that. I’m 44 and I STILL can’t do that but then, I’m thick, innit..

When he started school, he couldn’t take turns. He couldn’t share. He lashed out. He had meltdowns throughout the day and he wouldn’t write or attend assemblies..

Two years later he is a different child. He will take turns. He will share. He doesn’t lash out as much. His meltdowns have reduced. He still doesn’t do assemblies but the teachers understand that forcing him to do something which he can’t cope with is a recipe for disaster. One meltdown generally makes him unreceptive for hours, which means he doesn’t learn anything.

There has been an improvement in his writing as well…

Half-way through this year he was doing most of his work on the computer as he was refusing to write and most attempts to encourage him would end in meltdown. One day he decided he wanted to do it. He still holds the pencil cack-handed but the important thing is that, not only is he writing, but it’s voluntary!

I watched him write his dad’s name on his birthday card a few weeks ago. I watched in amazement as he curled the letters for the first time that I’d seen. Maybe most parents of six year old children won’t understand the importance of this but for parents like me, the smallest acts are usually the ones which stop us in our tracks..The wordDaddy’ written without help, prompting or melt-down changed a fairly mundane day into a momentous day.

S continues to use numbers as comfort. He is never without one in some form or other. His blackboard is a mass of sums, a stick picture of me (with my age above my head – 44 – Ahem!) and him holding my hand with his age above his head. I’m maths phobic. I HATE maths. Algebra? What the hell is that about? But the little Numberjack can’t get enough of the ‘M’ word!

Without the wonderful support he’s had, he wouldn’t be the boy we know today. He is proof of what early intervention can achieve when it comes to autism and special needs. He is different but he’s accepted and loved. He copes with his day because those around him understand his limits. He’s getting better at understanding them himself but still has bad days, like yesterday when he had a meltdown and lashed out at his special teacher. He hid under a blanket for a while because he didn’t like how it made him feel to lose control and when he came out, he did French. He NEVER does French because he doesn’t like how the words sound. Truth be told, neither did I. I wasn’t overly enthralled with French either but mostly because the teacher used to throw his briefcase across the room to get our attention, la psycho.

The class has a ‘Star of the Day’ award system which rewards good behaviour or work with being able to take in something of their choice to ‘show and tell’ the next day. S has many of these awards with the latest one awarded for doing French.

I think that all little children are stars. Their innocence shines light into a world that can sometimes be dark. Sadly, they morph into teenagers and the innocence is replaced with gobby one word answers like ‘So!’, ‘Because!’ and ‘Whatever!’ Not forgetting the standard phrase of the teenager on not getting their own way…

‘I HATE YOU, YOU’VE TOTALLY RUINED MY ENTIRE LIFE, I WISH I’D NEVER BEEN BORN!!!!’ *slam* *bang* *wollop*

I have no idea where S’ journey will take him or what form his teenage angst will take. I’m just enjoying who he is now because he is happy, therefore, I am happy and I am never more happy than when he flings his arms out to me and showers me in kisses in full view of all the other parents at school. He’s my star of the day, everyday.

mumturnedmom

Creative Commons Image by Neal Fowler

Confessions of a School Caretaker

All I ever wanted to be was a wife and a mother. Call me old fashioned but I totally bought into the whole ‘homemaker’ vibe. However, fate had other ideas and when my then husband became ill. I had no choice but to work part-time to makes ends meet. One of my jobs was a school caretaker. Yes, school caretaker! Not all school caretakers look like Argus Filch!

Some are 5ft 1″, brunette and wear Reeboks..

The school was purpose built in 1939, just before the second world war broke out. The Anderson shelter wasn’t dismantled and filled in until the 1980’s. That’s one of the things I loved about the place, it’s history.

When I started working there in 1995, it had hardly changed at all since it was built. Part of my job was to maintain an ambient room temperature which is sort of impossible when you have menopausal staff who are shivering one minute and flinging off their cardies the next. Nightmare!

Although most of my work was mostly done around school hours, sometimes I’d nip down to do some gardening and it was a joy to listen to the children singing nursery rhymes. It was hard to believe that one day those little angels would become moody, acne-ridden, angst filled arse-holes, like I was.

The downside to the job was having to deal with vandalism..

Each Monday morning I’d apprehensively open the gate and hope that the local louts hadn’t been up to their usual tricks of kicking in fence panels, or worse, smashing in windows. Once, I found an old mattress and some used condoms behind the shed. The. Dirty. Bastards.

Shagging someone on a stained mattress in the grounds of a nursery school?

Classy, no?

The empty cans of Tesco Value lager gave some clue as to the level of ‘chav’ I was dealing with. That said, at least they were using condoms so I suppose there was some degree of intelligence in there.. After a minute of intense effing, I snapped on several pairs of Marigolds, scooped up the offending ‘joy bags’ with a shovel and marched across the playground in the direction of the bins. As soon as I got home, I plunged my hands in disinfectant. The council came and carted away the mattress of shame and we planted the area with prickly shrubs as a shag deterrent. Only a complete idiot would risk puncturing his clackers on that lot!

My strangest find were some photographs of a lady that I found scattered over the grass one morning. I couldn’t go around the neighbouring houses knocking on doors asking who they belonged to cus, well, they were a bit saucy, innit!

I decided to take advice from the head teacher, who almost choked on her Polo mint when she saw the lady resplendent in her suspenders and DD peep-hole bra. She concluded that it was best to deny all knowledge of them and fed them through the shredder. Sorted.

One of the cutest moments was when I was changing the paper towels in the toilets and one cute little boy held out his painting to me and said. ‘Hold this, Mrs lady, I’m going for a poo!’ Just wonderful.

Originally, the school had three intakes of forty children a year but nursery classes being opened within nearby primary schools meant that numbers started to dwindle. The council took the decision to close the school when the intake dropped to 25 saying that it was no longer financially viable. Despite a petition put forward from thousands of people, many of whom had attended the school themselves, the council pressed ahead with it’s plans to close and on a summer’s day in July 2005, after 66 happy years, the nursery closed.

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Happy memories of the nursery at Christmas circa 1940’s

During the big ‘clear out’ the head called me into her office and showed me some of the log books she’d found from during the war. Everything was written down. The nit nurse was mentioned a LOT. But one entry stood out to me the most. It simply said, ‘The children had their tea in the air raid shelter’. Imagine that?

I felt emotional as I stood looking round the empty building on that last day. A building which for so many years had been full of life and laughter. The walls, once adorned with paint (and dried pasta), were now stripped bare and there was an echo to the room that only comes with emptiness.

As I walked through each room, I could hear children’s voices (not literally, I’m not that bonkers, yet) I could hear their squeals of joy as they sped around on the trikes and the ear-piercing shrieks as they shoved each other over on the playground. I heard the rumble of the prams and the shrill sound of the teacher’s whistle. I saw C running with his egg and spoon on sports day looking as camp as a row of tents with his floppy wrist. I saw K, sat there with a tea-towel on his head, picking his nose through the ENTIRE nativity play!

Good memories..

I was a good caretaker. I was proud of what I’d achieved and having a touch of OCD came in especially handy when it came to locking up. There were no unlocked doors or windows on MY watch, ever!

However, it did take me about an hour to do my checks and re-checks…

With a heavy heart, I closed the gate for the last time and I allowed myself one last look before another chapter in my life closed.

I doubt that I will ever find a job like that. I loved every second of it. Going to work in the morning was never a chore. I loved the building. I loved the people I worked with. I loved how I ended up on the annual school tea-towel, standing there with my tiny broom and enormous arms poking out of my head..

The building sat empty for quite a while. The privets became overgrown and the cherry blossom leaves blew around because I wasn’t there to pick them up. It was sad to see. Then one day I noticed that the privets had been cut and a shiny new sign was in place of our old one. It had been bought as a private day nursery! I TOTALLY love that the building still knows the sound of children’s laughter. A new chapter in it’s life and long may it continue…I am proud to be part of it’s history.

A pity they let the old punishments die. Was a time detention would find you hanging by your thumbs in the dungeons. God, I miss the screaming ~ Argus Filch ~ Miserable git caretaker in Harry Potter

mumturnedmom

The Great Escape

Garden Spid (531x800)blogIt’s commonly known that the only fears we are born with are the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. Any other phobia is learned..

My phobia of spiders can’t have been learned from my parents as neither were afraid of them. However, I do remember my brother screaming like a girl at a 1D concert at the sight of the teeniest one on his bedroom wall. So I’ll blame him.

My earliest memory is when I felt one crawling around in my nightie. Long story short, I screamed the place down, Ma bowled in and mashed it into the carpet. Hello, phobia!

Every time I screamed at the sight of a spider, Ma would storm in, grab it with a piece of bog roll and fling it down the toilet. With each flush, I felt a pang of guilt that it’s life had been ended because of my irrational fear. Dad used to liberate them back into the garden. I preferred his way to ma’s gung-ho approach. Spray it. Swot it. Annihilate it. That was Ma’s motto.

Rumour had it that she’d had a bit of an unfavourable experience with an Alsatian once and it made her intolerant to anything with more than two legs. Also, she couldn’t be arsed coaxing insects into glasses when Corrie was about to come on. No live pause in those days!

But karma’s a bitch because one summers day, Ma had been gardening and she’d kicked her slippers off in the garage. Task completed, she went to put a slipper back on and was stung on the toe by a startled bee who’d crawled inside. We heard her shout ‘YOU LITTLE SOD!!’ (which instantly put us kids on the defensive) and then she went all Chuck Norris on it with the other slipper. Ma would have had a shit load of apologising to do before she got to go through those heavenly gates!

But THE incident which still leaves me cold is this..

Tarantulas first came into my life in 1987 when ex-hubs bought one after his father had died. Despite being phobic, I didn’t have the heart to argue. Sadly, after a few years of trying to cope (and the knowledge that females can live for 25 years) my anxiety got the better of me and hub’s brother adopted her.

Fast forward to 2007 where, in a cruel twist of fate, I discovered that the new man in my life had four of the bastards In his BEDROOM!

I had a choice. I could either put as much distance between him and his crawlies as possible or I could try to conquer this phobia once and for all.

Again, I tried but despite my best efforts, the anxieties crept in and the paranoia of one of them escaping and suffocating me in my sleep terrified me. Obviously I wasn’t the spider’s biggest fan but it was a sad day when I saw that one had joined the choir invisible. There was no chance of me putting my hand in and fishing it out but I did feel a twang of sadness that this little creature had died.

We lost another after we moved house. The shock of being carted about may have proved too much for it or maybe it was a male who had simply come to the end of his life as they have a significantly shorter life span compared to females. My bet was the years of trauma on having to see OH’s arse peeking out from under the duvet had finally seen it off.

By the time we had little man we were down to two spiders, in tanks, still in the bedroom. I piled books onto the lids to thwart any attempts at escape and slept with one eye open. All was well. As well as it can be in a room with f**king arachnids, that is!

Except that OH didn’t quite close the lid properly one night and I woke up to the sight of a couple of tarantula legs doing the can-can through the smallest of gaps. I was rendered motionless with fear. My WORST nightmare was coming true…

It was ESCAPING!!! (one more ! for emphasis)

Before long, there were SIX legs poking out and I broke all kinds of world records getting out of bed. I grabbed a sleeping S out of his cot and on last glance before slamming the door shut, the cheeky sod was legging it along the bookcase!

Hysteria kicked in and I kept slapping my face to make sure I hadn’t actually died and this was my personal hell brought on by my years of snitching it’s family members up to Ma. I was on my own, with a baby, and OH was stuck in a meeting miles away so I phoned the only other spider appreciator that I knew.. ex hubs!

The spider was now at large in the bedroom but ex-hubs strode in there like Bear Grylls. Granted, he almost trod on him as he was the same shade as the carpet, but he captured him and bunged him back in his tank. For this, I am eternally grateful for him and his lovely partner for coming to my rescue.

OH got the bollocking of his life when he got back home..

I named the spider, ‘Cooler King’ after Steve McQueen’s character in the Great Escape because, as escapes go, it’s up there with the best.

I don’t know if it was the excitement of the escape or the shock of coming into direct contact with OH’s dirty undies but Cooler King didn’t live much longer before scuttling off into the big ol’ web in the sky. The ultimate escape, bless ‘im.

Having faced my worst nightmare (sort of) I’m not as scared of them as I was but I’d probably still die if one dropped onto my face. Not to mention the dreams I occasionally have of spiders escaping from tanks…

Hopefully, this post wont give YOU nightmares!

mumturnedmom

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now..

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I was crap at PE. Not only was I crap at it but I hated it as well. I hated everything about it down to those horrible scratchy pants we had to wear. Having been blessed with the coordination of Frank Gallagher after a few hours in the Jockey, it’s safe to say that sports were NOT my forte!

This post sums up my sporting achievements and woes (mostly woes) throughout my school life.

~ Infants ~

Lets face it, It’s OK to be crap at PE when you’re five.

Gymnastics – Once a week we went down the local drill hall to do gymnastics. The smell of feet was overwhelming along with the whiff of sick where someone had vommed up their Spam fritter after doing a forward roll. Ma bought me a black leotard, which I spent a lot of time extracting from up my bum! My one and only BAGA award was for a near perfect bridge. Er, go me!

~ Juniors ~

The ante was upped in the juniors. Suddenly sport got serious and we were placed into houses, like in Harry Potter, only, shit. I was in yellow house, so in Potter world that would be Hufflepuff..

Rounders – The rounders kit came out and we were picked in teams. Fully expecting to be crap at it, I amazed myself by not being totally crap.

For every few miss-hits, the bat would connect with the ball and I would wallop it across the road. I even managed to win my team a game or two which ensured me being picked by choice the following week instead of being picked last, which was the norm for me.

Things were relatively bearable until we moved across the other side of the city. It was a new house, new school, new people and I was a walking mood, having just started my periods. The new school was big on sports. It had a massive brag cabinet chock-a-block with trophies and row upon row of team photographs (with some hilarious hairstyles) taken over the years.

Dance – All legwarmers and leotards with a really annoying teacher who fancied herself as Lydia (the dance teacher) from Fame. We didn’t pay ‘with sweat’, we paid with detention! She soon realised that I looked shite in a leotard and was about as coordinated as a fly after it’s been blasted with Raid.

Hockey – I knocked a girl’s tooth out the first time I played.

Javelin – I gave myself a nasty clout round the back of the head first throw and nearly impaled one of the teachers with the second.

High Jump – Spent more time face-planting the safety mat than I did in the air.

Long Jump –  First (and only) attempt required first aid.

Hurdles – After knocking them all down (and bleeding all over the PE instructor) it was decided that my talents did not lie in hurdling.

Shot-putt – Hand to eye coordination issues nearly rendered a fellow pupil unconscious.

100 Metre Sprint  –  Feeling thoroughly dejected by this point, I found myself back on the track (plasters on both knees) with the PE teacher (lets call him Teach for simplicity) shouting ‘For crying out loud, just run when you hear the bang, OK?!!’

Teach fired the starter gun and I ran like Ma had just caught me with one of her fags. Seconds later I was rolling around on the ground trying to get my breath back (I genuinely thought I was dying) when he sprinted over in his obscenely tight tracksuit bottoms and slapped me on the back saying. ‘1st place! You’re in the athletics team!’

I momentarily basked in the glory of actually winning something. But as Mozzer from The Smiths so eloquently puts it…

I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour But heaven knows I’m miserable now

Because within a short time, I found myself racked with anxiety as I was loaded onto a bus on route to the local athletics stadium to run for my town and county.

I didn’t want to be in the athletics team, truth be told. I was agoraphobic even then and the thought of running in front of hundreds of people had me dry heaving for weeks before the events. In his infinite wisdom, Teach put me down for the 4 times 100 metre relay race as well as the 100 metre sprint because, well, he was a bit of a twat. I was still having baton issues in the practice runs before the race. Hadn’t I already proved that I was rubbish at relay?

In the event, it was a fumbled baton exchange. On seeing my team-mate sprinting towards me (all red faced and jowly) I assumed the position, stuck my arse out and prayed that I wouldn’t drop the sodding thing. Somehow I managed to keep hold of it and pass it on to my teammate. I think we came fourth and I can’t remember where I came in the 100 metre but it’s safe to say I didn’t win or even come a close second. Teach (NOT a happy bunny) was sulking away in his X rated track suit.

The euphoria of my sports day win had turned to a misery worthy of a Smiths song. Here was something that I was genuinely good at but my useless brain wouldn’t allow me to take it further without sending my anxiety levels through the roof. So I gave up.

It isn’t just about confidence. It’s about having a brain that doesn’t cope well under pressure. All my life, this is how it’s been. Maybe if I’d have persevered I would have found a way to cope? But the truth is that I didn’t even enjoy running because I was self-conscious of my Brad Pitts and the fact that I wasn’t allowed to run in my cardi.

High School

My sports life consisted of a series of excuse me notes (thanks to Ma), a near drowning incident, a nervous twitch every time I heard a starter pistol and a phobia of batons for life.

Nuff said?

Creative Commons Photo Credit ~ ‘Pete’

mumturnedmom

You Want To Put That Camera Up My What?

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I saw the gastroenterologist on Monday and gave him my list of symptoms that I’d typed up via a Word document. Mr Gastro was most impressed with my graphic descriptions. “Well described!”, he said. I preened a bit.

‘Are you thinking cancer?’, he asked. I answered truthfully, ‘Yes!’.

Mr Gastro then ordered a colonoscopy.

At the mere mention of the word, my bum cheeks involuntarily clenched and my bum-hole snapped shut faster than a Venus Flytrap. You see, I’d consulted Dr Google a few (hundred) times leading up to the appointment so I knew exactly what it entailed.

Mr Gastro told me that he doesn’t think it’s cancer. I told him that while I appreciated that he was trying to put my mind at ease..both my parents had cancer. Dad’s being the aggressive kind which saw him trundling along the conveyor belt in the crematorium within six months of being diagnosed.

He didn’t try and fob me off with IBS. In fact, he never mentioned it. He thinks my symptoms require a closer look and by closer look, it means shoving a camera up my bum.

He proceeded to tell me what he thinks it is. Which is that my bum and stomach are ‘not communicating with each other. Typical, even my insides have social interaction issues!

At this point he told the nurse to make it a combined colonoscopy and gastroscopy. Basically, a camera up the chuff and one down the throat in the same appointment, folks.

If the tests come back clear, he will refer me to a specialist to sort out the ‘communication’ problems.

So I’ve been issued with some preparation (stuff what gives you the shits) and I have to wait a decade for an appointment to come through, as there is apparently a huge waiting list. I’ll probably die of old age before I get one. Or the Tories will have killed off the NHS in which case, I’ll have to flog a kidney to sort my bowels out.

In the meantime, I am tormenting myself with the gloom and doom from off the net…

Colonoscopies aren’t the most pleasant (or dignified) of procedures. You have to eat a special diet two days before the test and then you drink the preparation and wait for the world to fall out of your backside. Not looking forward to that, truth be told, but at least I’ll briefly be able to get into those skinny jeans I bought in a moment of denial last year.

No doubt I’ll be made to wear one of those ridiculous gowns that make you look like a complete twonk. Incidentally, I put one on the wrong way for a gynae examination and ended up flashing my minnie to a corridor full of old people. The nurse frog marched me back into the cubicle before one of them had a coronary.

To say I’m anxious is an understatement of massive proportions. They’ll be no need for that preparation because I’ll have shit myself dry with worry by then.

I’ve had procedures done before. I’ve been under GA twice and had umpteen people poking around in my insides. I’ve had an emergency C section and given birth TWICE, all without fear but now I’m a wimp and I blame the menopause because when my oestrogen buggered off, so did my bottle!

A colonoscopy involves a thin flexible tube being coaxed around the bowel. It allows them to see what’s what and you can watch it on the monitor if you wish…

Er, no ta.

I’d rather watch the box set of Geordie Shore, without sedation.

It can find ulcers, polyps, inflammation and tumors. It is the most effective way to diagnose cancer of the bowel.

My Googling sessions have advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages are the numerous people who say ‘Colonoscopy? Walk in the park! Didn’t even know they’d been in!’ He he.

The disadvantages are the people who, for whatever reason, have had the experience from hell and feel the need to put the fear of God into everybody else.

There will always be these stories, not just to do with Colonoscopies, but with most things. There are risks with this procedure but there are risks with all procedures. My dad’s misdiagnosis’s shook my faith in doctors but maybe I should focus instead on the fact that they probably saved the life of my youngest son who had to be born via emergency C section because I was bleeding internally, my eldest who had a testicular torsion and my middle son who was hospitalised as a baby with gastroenteritis. Mum’s cancer was caught early. My dad was extremely unlucky but I do have more to be thankful for than not.

I rationalise that given my symptoms, it’s probably wise to go through with it. Chances are it’s not anything sinister but leaving it to chance isn’t a risk I should be taking given my family history.

So I have to find a way to keep myself relatively calm over the next few months until it’s all over. My coping mechanism is to find the humour in the situation. Tell a few crap jokes. (ha ha) Also, I make no apologies for talking about matters of the arse because I think that we don’t talk about it enough. We get embarrassed about bum stuff and that costs time and ultimately, lives.

If you haven’t already guessed, I’m bricking it, and I’ll probably have talked myself out of doing it by the time the appointment comes. So I need people to tell me to stop being such a silly cow about it.

I’ll tell myself it will all be OK. I’ll wear the silly pants and try not to die of embarrassment when the air that’s been pumped into my bowels explodes in the consultant’s face. Another perk..

When I saw Sara’s (Mumturnedmom) prompt was calm, it reminded me that I must try to be as calm as possible or I’ll end up running out of the hospital still wearing my paper pants and flashers gown.

Going for an Eartha Kitt ~ Jim Royle

mumturnedmom

The Play, The Protest and The Song

When my eldest strutted around his primary school hall as Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the early nineties, little did I know that one day his passion for acting would become a career.

So it was with immense pride that I took my seat in the Lowry theatre in Manchester on Saturday night while I waited for him to enter the stage as Edgar in the Northern Broadsides production of Shakespeare’s King Lear.FullSizeRender(1)

When he walks out onto the stage, the audience see ‘Jack’. I see a boy who’s arse I’ve wiped and who’s tears I’ve dried. I see my little boy all grown up. It’s quite a surreal experience…

Despite seeing him perform numerous times, the thrill never gets old. I again had to resist the urge to whistle and shout “Ey up Son!” as he walked on. I believe such behaviour is frowned upon. As is wearing a T shirt with ‘I’m Jack’s mum’. I’ve been threatened with disownment if do..

Directed by Jonathan Miller (I’m a bit of a philistine when it comes to theatre but seems the bloke’s got a decent enough CV) it’s Lear but with a northern twist. Northern Broadsides was founded in 1992 by Barry Rutter (who plays Lear). He’s an actor/director and famously cast Lenny Henry as Othello in 2009.

A great cast, complete with some heaving bosoms and obligatory semi-nakedness (courtesy of my son) Yep, kit off, once again! His complex character of Edgar showcased his range and ability to switch flawlessly between roles. Obvious parental bias aside, he aint ‘alf good at this acting lark!

My son, K, is a photographer and the lad’s got a talent for it. Photography is his chosen career having graduated from university last year with some impressive grades. I am immensely proud of him and so pleased that another one of my children is making dollar from doing what they love. I hope he makes enough to put me in a decent old people’s home. Hint. Hint.anti-tory-protest-70 (401x600)

Unless you were visiting another planet last week, you’ll be aware of the general election and the Anti-Tory protest that happened the day after David Cameron snatched back the keys to Downing Street. My son was there in his capacity as a photographer and took shots from the start of the protest to it’s end. Somewhere along the way he found himself ‘kettled’ by riot police. He told me he’d been kettled and I envisioned a copper giving him a clout with the station kettle. Apparently not.. Kettling is a tactic police use for controlling large crowds, such as protests, but it’s seen as controversial because innocent bystanders (like my son) get detained alongside protesters.

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He put all his shots into a blog post and gave his honest account of the day as seen as a photographer. The media didn’t show people singing and dancing. They didn’t show the peaceful side to the protest. They didn’t always show the unnecessary force used by the police.

K’s photographs show how things can turn from the good, to the bad, to the downright ugly. This was a peaceful protest, marred by a few individual morons, one who defaced a war memorial. An unforgivable and disrespectful act which the media chose to focus on, giving the impression that the person who did that represented everybody else. Not so. K was genuinely shocked at some of the things he saw. I’m proud of him for speaking out and showing what really happened instead of what the media brainwashes us with.

His blog post has been shared over 700 times on social media.

And last (but in no way least) is my youngest son’s achievement this week.

I opened S’ school home-book to read that he’d sang a song in the hall.FullSizeRender(2)

What’s the big deal? I hear you ask.

Well, S is autistic and he struggles with noise. He doesn’t go into assemblies and hasn’t been able to take part in any of the concerts so far. However, sometimes, when he gets obsessed by something, he is able to override his discomfort for a brief time. The topic this month has been about Kenya and for some reason, he’s really taken to it, so much so that he was able to go into the hall with all his friends and sing the ‘Jambo Bwana’ song on Wednesday.

This is a MASSIVE accomplishment for him.

It doesn’t matter that he couldn’t do PE that afternoon or that he had to comfort himself with his numbers in order to come down from the excitement. Those few minutes where he chose to engage with everyone else made it a fantastic day!

Yesterday was recorded as a “tricky day” which means he’s struggled but this is how it goes with his autism. One step forward and a few steps back but we focus on his accomplishments, no matter how small.

Way to go, my little dude!

As parents, we’re all proud of our children’s achievements.

My biggest achievement has been my three boys. Each one an individual and each one leaving their mark on the world in their own special way. I couldn’t be any prouder of my boys.

Thank you Mama Owl for this opportunity to ‘big up’ my kids! ;)

The most splendid achievement of all is the constant striving to surpass yourself and to be worthy of your own approval ~ Denis Waitly

Protest Images by my son used with kind permission, as in, I asked and he said “Yeah, Ma, don’t worry, I’m hardly going to sue my own mother ha ha”

Mama Owl

Life is a Highway

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From the day we are born, we’re on a journey. All of us are headed to the same destination (aka Death De Mar) but we each take different routes along the way.

Throughout our travels, we encounter challenges. We all experience love, joy and happiness as well as sadness, tragedy and hopelessness. Life can be good and a total bitch in equal measure.

Sometimes the road is bumpy as hell (with annoying roadworks and potholes) and we feel frustrated like when we get stuck behind a tractor for an eternity (or Stop/Go man takes the piss) and sometimes it’s smooth and enjoyable. In my experience, the moment that I acknowledge happiness, life throws down a stinger.

The ‘Big C’ became part of my journey when Dad was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer, on my birthday as it goes.. You could say that his life choices of slumming it at the ‘Greasy Spoon’ cafe (despite Ma’s nagging) and smoking were a contributing factor in his illness. His choice not to act on his early symptoms, combined with him being misdiagnosed twice, cost him his life and my insistence that Mum saw her GP on her mentioning a bloated tummy and brown discharge (at the age of 65) probably saved hers.

Cancer made short work of my dad but I liken my mum’s experience to swatting an irritating fly. In her case, one well aimed whack got the bastard and she lived for another six years to die of something completely unrelated. Ma 1 Cancer 0.

Our journeys aren’t just about us.

As with any journey, who you travel with can be more important than your destination.

Cancer has entered my life once again but this time it’s my friend who is suffering from this horrendous disease. I haven’t known her long but our boys play together so we’ve become friends. She has advanced cancer but If you saw her you wouldn’t imagine she’s ill. She looks well. She’s certainly fitter than me and by her own admission, she doesn’t even feel ill. However, the scans tell a different story…

I have been around cancer. I’ve experienced the effects of cancer but I don’t know how it feels to have it. Nobody can know unless it happens to them.

My friend is a wonderful lady. By her own admission, she chooses to be positive. Despite the indifferent attitude of the cancer specialists, she’s giving it a run for it’s money and good on her, I say.

She told me that some days she finds it hard to get out of bed to face the day, which is totally understandable. So I made her a card with a quote which reflects this along with her desire to be positive.

Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.

I am deeply sorry she’s going through this. I can’t stop this from happening to her but what I can do is be there for her for support. Nobody should ever have to go through this alone. Cancer is an incredibly difficult journey to to be witness to so one can only imagine how it feels to be living it.

Most of us have times in our life when we struggle to face the day, for whatever reason. I’ve got lost a few times and questioned what it’s all about but ultimately, all roads of thought lead back to the fruits of my womb. My body resembles a clapped old three wheeler (think Trotter van) but I look at my boys and know it’s all been worth it.

My latest run in with one of life’s proverbial potholes resulted in me having to assume the ‘On your side, bend your legs and face the wall, dear’ position while my GP swiped her index finger around my rear-end. No doubt I’ll end up having a camera up it (oh-the-joy) before the year’s out  but as long as it gives me peace of mind that my botty probs are simply an IBS flare up or yet another menopausal perk, I can cope with a bit of bum invasion. Dignity, me dears, went out the window the day I went into labour. These days, ‘dignity’ is a song by Deacon Blue!

Nobody’s journey will be free from heartache. Bad things happen but It’s what we learn from the experience that matters. Reading stories about the Holocaust has taught me that hope can exist even in the most horrific of circumstances. Our freedom to choose our own attitude throughout any given circumstance is something that nobody can take away from us. Nobody can make us feel bad about ourselves without our permission!

People enter our lives and the journey changes direction. It’s like a Sat-Nav that keeps re-calculating. However, in the journey of life, there isn’t a reverse gear. We don’t get to go back and do things differently. We can only learn from our mistakes and move forwards. Maybe if we knew how our lives will pan out, we’d be too scared to live them? All I know is that I’ve made it to almost 45 years of age so far and count myself lucky. The journey so far has been full of tears and laughter and with each sharp bend of the road, I’ve learned a little bit more about life.

There are a few more miles left in this ol’ jalopy yet (despite a biological age of 102) and I’d like to think I’ll manage a cheeky sideways skid when it’s ‘destination reached’ aka, the big scrap yard in the sky. Knowing my luck, I’ll be towed in on the back of a recovery truck but a girl can dream, eh?

Until then, it’s on with the ride..

I think it’s my adventure, my trip, my journey, and I guess my attitude is, let the chips fall where they may. ~ Leonard Nimoy

mumturnedmom

Not All School Bullies Are Children.

Jim Henson

Dear Miss,

No doubt you have taught so many children in your years as a teacher that you have forgotten us individually. I wish I could say that I have forgotten you but you are unforgettable in the worst possible way.

Allow me to refresh your memory..

‘STAND ON YOUR CHAIR!’, your voice boomed across the room.

The classroom fell silent (as was the case when some poor kid was in for a telling off) and on this occasion the kid was me.

You were my primary school teacher but I could never take to you. It was dislike at first sight.

I remember you as a tall, thin woman with slate grey hair which hung limply either side of your face. You never wore make-up and and your piercing eyes were magnified by those unflattering glasses you wore. I recall you wearing Jesus sandals which drew attention to your man-size feet and unsightly toe hair but most of all it was your unsmiling face which unnerved me.

Why, what’s the matter, that you have such a February face, so full of frost, of storm and cloudiness? ~ William Shakespeare

Some teachers are charismatic but you and your ‘February face’ had the charisma of a wheelie bin. Truth be told, I was scared of you.

I don’t remember any of what you taught me, I just remember you and an incident which stuck in my memory like a thorn sticks in the flesh.

I didn’t like school – it was too loud, smelled of feet and my being there meant that I missed Pipkins. School was all about surviving and my survival was avoidance. It was my safety valve in any situation that I wasn’t comfortable with. However, my strategy would prove to be my undoing on that particular day.

That Day

So, we did craft lessons, and this one was sewing. Our task was to stitch two sides of felt together using a blanket stitch in a shape of our choice. I chose a fish. We were supposed to take our work to you if we made any mistakes. I’d made a mistake fairly early on (I was crap at sewing) but the thought of walking up to your desk made my stomach want to part ways with my lunch. So I stayed put and prayed that the fire bell would go off.

It didn’t.

You decided to walk around the classroom to check on our progress. I knew you were behind me without having to look. It suddenly felt cold despite it being a warm day, though this was probably due to your six foot frame blocking out the sunlight. I froze up from the inside, except for my cheeks, which were crimson. After what seemed like ages, your large hand reached down and snatched my work away from me. Seconds passed, then your voice boomed out..

“STAND ON YOUR CHAIR!!”

The classroom fell deathly silent. You could have heard a mouse fart, it was that quiet!

Every child was looking at me. Me, the child who tried so hard to be invisible. Of course, the problem with trying to be invisible is that sometimes it backfires and you find yourself becoming totally the opposite.

You bellowed, “THIS IS WHAT WE DO TO RUBBISH!!” and in front of the class – you ripped my work to shreds. The wobbly stitching gave zero resistance and with one final act of malice, you threw it at me.

You made me stand on my chair, hands on head, for the rest of the lesson and into playtime.

I was eight years old.

I wanted the ground to open up beneath me. Tears stung my eyes but I refused them permission to fall. There was no way that I was going to give you the satisfaction of seeing me cry! So I just stood there looking at my shoes through blurry eyes wishing to be anywhere but there.

I certainly know of a few children who would have stood on that chair smirking at you and I have been that child when re-enacting it out in my mind. In reality, I was a sensitive girl whose behaviour at school was misinterpreted as shyness or disobedience. My sensitivity made me a target for bullies for my entire school life but that day, I learned that not all bullies are children.

You humiliated me in front of the entire class.

Your lasting impression on me, Miss, was one of fear.

Humiliation damages young children – it undermines their self-esteem.

A good teacher doesn’t intimidate their students. Humiliation isn’t character building – it’s abuse. Humiliation is rooted in power and some teachers need to humiliate children in order to control them. What you did was wrong. It was an abuse of power – I just didn’t know it then because grown ups had to be obeyed. We are hardwired to obey those in control, especially as children, so I didn’t question it. I just did as I was told and tried as best I could to deal with the hurt in order to be able to walk into the classroom the next day.

You were a bully. You probably had reasons why you acted the way you did but it doesn’t excuse you. There is no excuse for bullying. Ever.

As Jim Henson said,

Kids don’t remember what you try to teach them, they remember what you are.

I’ve remembered you for being a bully and the monster of my nightmares.

However, being older and somewhat wiser, I am able to see you for the imperfect human being that you were and the monster fades away into insignificance.

You most likely graduated up into the big school in the sky a long time ago and perhaps after being such a miserable cow to little children, you found a sense of peace?

Maybe one day I’ll find mine.

Regards,

T

Scan5a

The Boys Are Back In Town

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Tuesday 25th January 1994

I’d been waiting for this day with a mixture of excitement and anxiety.

I woke up with my stomach doing somersaults. Food? Not a chance. Somehow, I had to keep the anxiety under control otherwise I’d end up talking myself out of leaving the house and I’d regret it for ever. I had to do this. For once in my life, my debilitating anxiety wouldn’t be robbing me of another experience, so armed with a miniature bottle of whiskey, I headed off in the car with the former Mr Shambles towards Birmingham.

I clutched the tickets in my clammy hand, checking and re-checking the date. Did I have the right date? Oh my God, what if I’d got the date wrong! Had I remembered to put some emergency loo roll in my bag? What if I fainted? What if I threw up over myself. Or worse, someone else?

We got to the NEC early to avoid the crowds but my anxiety was rocketing. I headed to the toilets and did some breathing exercises on the loo. I could hear the noise building up outside and was in danger of legging it out through one of the fire-exits but managed to calm myself down. It was now or never so I propelled myself through the door, elbowing a couple of women out of way on route.

My heart was clattering like an old tin drum and my legs were buckling as I took my seat.

Three months of anticipation almost at an end…

This was it.

Music blasted throughout the arena and I screamed as I saw three familiar faces appear on the stage. I waved my arms in the air and danced away and when I say danced, I mean awkward upper body movements with the occasional rib-shot to the unfortunate sod seated next to me. I must have been at the back of the queue when coordination was being given out – as anyone who has ever seen me try to do step-aerobics will testify to. I was 24 years old, but that night I was 13 again. Much to the former Mr Shamble’s amusement. Or was it embarrassment?

It suddenly hit me..

I was in the same room (albeit a very large room) as Duran Duran – my teenage idols! Well, three of them, anyway, as this was the 1994 line-up of Simon, John, Nick and Warren Cuccurullo.

The memory is fallible but I seem to remember them starting with Too Much Information and Simon Le Bon was prancing about wearing a pink suit, though I could be wrong. I’ve gone through the menopause since then and my memory, along with the rest of me, is a bit shit. So maybe someone else who was there will read this and say “Actually, he was wearing jeans and a t-shirt – you deranged old cow.”

The details might have become hazy but I’ll never forget seeing the band which stole my heart. Dad was the first man I loved, then it was Nick Rhodes.

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Still have the ticket!

The early 80’s was an exciting time music-wise. In the wake of Punk came the New Romantics with their puff-sleeved blouses, frills and lip-gloss and that was the blokes! Dad’s reaction to seeing Duran Duran perform Planet Earth on TOTP in 1981 was to roll his eyeballs, tut, and say “Just look at the state of them. I give those poncy buggers 12 months”. And with that pearl of wisdom, he tucked the paper under his arm and headed off to the loo. 15 years later he had to concede that he’d been wrong. In fact, they’ve been together in various line-ups for the last 30 odd years and show no sign of retiring to Shady Pines anytime soon!

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Rollin rollin rollin keep those eyeballs rollin!

Duranie = A devoted fan of Duran Duran. Or someone who would happily gouge your eyes out for one of Nick Rhodes’ lipstick stained fag ends.

The Duranies of the 80’s are now forty and fifty-somethings, like me. Menopausal maniacs (and those hurtling towards it) who only have to hear the intro to Save A Prayer to be nostalgically catapulted back to 1982 when hair was 50% peroxide and it was fashionable for blokes to wear lip-gloss and eyeliner. Nick still does. And why not? He could share mine any day. Gorgeous boy.

I felt very grown up when I was wearing make-up, thank you very much. Nick Rhodes

Duran Duran were mostly about image. They were good looking, made great videos and their songs were catchy with lyrics that made you think. Simon was quite the poet in the early days. I played the Rio album that much that I actually wore it out and Ma bought it for me again one Christmas, along with the newly released Seven and the Ragged Tiger.

DD went up in Dad’s estimation when they released the uncensored video of Girls on Film which was a saucier version where attractive girls wearing rollers (and little else) straddled a shaving cream-covered post and flashed their nips. Seems the boys hadn’t been as squeaky clean as Jackie et al had portrayed them to be. It was a bit of a culture shock for me, like when Kylie went from being the curly-haired girl next door to the pert-bummed vamp we’ve come to know and envy.

Watching them play live was one of the biggest thrills of my life and the fact that I saw them in Birmingham (the place where it started all those years ago in the Rum Runner) just added to the occasion. The boys (minus Andy and Roger) were back in town and my beloved Nick was there in all his magnificent pouting glory.

Duran Duran provided the soundtrack to my youth. Their music helped to make life more bearable – giving me breathing space from my troubled school life. Escapism was only a click of the turntable away, therefore, they’ll always have a place in this old Duranie’s heart.

mumturnedmom