Way back to when I was a little girl I can remember pain. I would wake in the night and cry, waking up my parents. The pain would be in my legs, my knees or my ankles. Occasionally it would be in my neck or shoulders. I know that mom had taken me to see the Doctor because she always said that she’d been told it was growing pain. Then later, it was cramp. I think at times she thought I was just attention seeking, especially after my baby brother was born. Then my Dad passed away. I decided not to complain so much, mom had other things to worry about. I did lose a lot of time from school though, I didn’t always say it was pain in my legs, sometimes it was tummy ache or headache.
Last week I attended a funeral. It happens, I’ve been to a few in my time. They say the only thing you can ever be sure of in life is that one day you will die. Quite a depressing thought. One thing I have noticed though, the more you do in life, the more ripples you cause, the more you leave behind and in that sense you are never really gone. As the great Sir Terry Pratchett wrote;
“…no-one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…” The Reaper Man
The funeral I attended last week was that of my Auntie E. I was really fond of her but I had not realised just how many ripples she had created.
My nan had two boys and six girls, the boys came first, then my mum was the eldest girl followed closely by Auntie E. This made them very close, through thick and thin. Mum was close to all her sisters but her bond with Auntie E. was never broken. There was a time when the whole family was divided and for some reason my mum had chosen to stand by someone when everyone else knew it was wrong. Auntie E. knew it was wrong too, but she was the only one who stood by mum in her hour of need.
I didn’t speak to my mum for five years. With the help of Auntie E. she helped us, slowly, to build bridges and become close again. At least I had my chance to make peace with my mum before she died which I would never had done had it not been for Auntie E.
Auntie E. had four children, lots of grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was loved dearly.
Her youngest child was blind and severely disabled. She always cared for him, right up until he was into his forties and had suffered a serious stroke. It was only when she became very ill herself that she allowed for him to go into care.
Auntie E. worked right up to her retirement. She had many jobs but she always worked both paid and voluntary. She raised lots of money for charity. She did lots of work for her son’s special school, she was constantly fundraising. She was always collecting clothes and bric a brac for stalls and fundraising events.
Auntie E. got married in 1952, she only married once, Uncle D. will be missing her.
Most people remember Auntie E. because she was such a fun loving bubbly person, as her granddaughter said at her funeral, she was always the first one up to dance at a party, and the last one to sit down. She loved holidaying in Spain, but I believe she wasn’t a spring chicken the first time she ventured abroad. Also, she wasn’t so young when she learnt to drive. She definitely showed spirit and refused to grow old.
So many people where touched by her life, her ripples will continue for a long time. She will be missed.
I want to be more like Auntie E. I want to make an effort to show people that life is for living. I want to do more, show more compassion, just make more of my life outside of my little bubble that is my family and home. I want to create ripples too.
Goodbye Auntie E. Rest in Peace now xx
I have suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Nope, it’s not the cleaning kind, you won’t find me scrubbing my loo at all hours in the morning. In fact I’ve never really got the cleaning thing. Yes, I like things clean, and I like things in order, but that’s not what I class as my OCD.
I have my OCD under control..
It was at it’s worst around 15 years ago. I was a single mum and going through a difficult time. I was losing control of my life and my mind. There was no-one there to see my crazy ways, apart from my kids and I don’t think they really noticed.
I still find it hard to talk about so let me put some things I used to do in a list.
I washed my hands a minimum of 20 times a day. My skin still suffers from this.
I never switched anything on once, I had to turn it off and switch it on twice.
Whenever I switched something off I unplugged it from the socket, I never left a plug in.
Doors that could be locked were always locked.
When I went to bed I had to turn everything off, unplug all plugs, check everything again. Go to bed, get up again and check everything again. Then I had to re-check that all the doors were locked.
I had panic attacks daily.
I rarely went out.
This is most of what I can remember, I’m sure there was more. I learnt to control it with meditation and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, I’m aware of it all the time but being aware of it helps me keep it under control. Sometimes I’m even strong enough to disobey it and do something really rebellious like lick my fingers, or put a book on the bookshelf in the wrong place (never horizontally though, that is just wrong!)
Some days I don’t vacuum behind the sofa, or bleach the loo.
When I told my OH about all the checking I used to do he thought it was natural. I was a single mum and worried for mine and my children’s safety, it was the right thing to do, double check everything. He didn’t understand, people rarely do.
When you have OCD you HAVE to check and double check, if you don’t the voices in your head drive you crazy, they will not let you have any peace. Yes, if you don’t lock the door a burglar might get in. When you have OCD if you don’t lock the door something terrible will happen to you or one of your children, sometimes you can imagine what terrible thing may happen but sometimes it doesn’t matter, you just believe it will be so terrible that you cannot rest until you have checked that the door is locked. Then you still don’t get any peace, what if you didn’t check properly, can you be really sure you checked it, you have to check it again, it’s not safe if you don’t. Are all the plugs unplugged and the switches turned off? Are you sure? I know you’ve already checked them, but maybe you haven’t checked them right, you will need to check them again just to be safe. Did you turn the gas cooker off? You know you haven’t used the gas cooker since tea time which was hours ago, but the house might explode if you haven’t turned it off, so you check. Then you climb into bed exhausted because it’s already taken you an hour to get there with all the checking and all you can think is, ‘did I turn it off properly? Maybe I turned it on again instead of turning it off. I will have to check again’
Living with OCD is not always about having a spotlessly clean house, it’s about living with a nightmare in your mind.
This month I have been a Special Needs mum for twenty seven years. “You’re so strong” are words I’ve heard so often throughout the years, but the truth is, I’m not. I’m just a mum doing what I have to do, there is nothing strong, or brave or amazing about it. It’s just parenting. Maybe it’s a little different to regular parenting but in all honesty, how would I know?
When my first child was born I was just twenty one, which seems so young now. I was married and we both had jobs and a place of our own. A child was the next step, even though we were moving so fast. It was a difficult birth and he was a difficult baby but he was mine and I adored him. We had a daughter just seventeen months later and then moved to a bigger house. The kids went to school and I went back to work and everything went along just fine.
The teachers complained about my son, they said he was un co-operative, disruptive in class and refused to listen to them. They gave me the number of a child psychologist, I put it on the bookshelf and ignored it. There was nothing wrong with my son.
He moved up to Secondary school and things got worse, much worse.
I took him to the psychologist and he was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome.
By this time my husband was no longer on the scene, and for a while I did find things really tough. I did have to be strong to get through it all. I had lots of other stuff going on as well, they say it never rains but pours.
Fast forward a few years and I’m a single mum, no longer working and have two young teenage children out of regular education. Maybe if I’d been stronger things would have been better?
Then I met my current partner and we had children and our first child is also diagnosed on the autistic spectrum. This time I didn’t bury my head in the sand, as soon as the signs were showing we had her diagnosed and the proper help put in place at school. Things have been difficult but we’ve muddled through. Things have been tough. Have I been strong? Sometimes maybe, sometimes not so.
When someone tells me they think I must be so strong I feel a little embarrassed, I feel a fake, I don’t feel as though I’m strong. There are so many things I would have done differently if I’d had the strength, so many more battles I would have won had I been strong. There have been so, so many times when I haven’t felt strong at all, I’ve felt like a quivering wimp and there have been many tears.
I can be strong though. I can fight in their corner and make sure they get treated right. I can stand up for them, look out for them and at the same time teach them their independence.
A child with special needs can mean more hard work for the parent and for longer, but they also bring their own rewards and one of those is teaching their parents how to be strong.
When I tell people I have five children I see eyebrows raised. Some say they think I’m mad, others comment that I must have my hands full and many ask if I always wanted a big family. If I’m honest, I don’t think five children makes a big family and I feel a bit of a cheat. I don’t have my hands full, my older children where already in their late teens before the other three arrived. Of course, the fact that I had three children while in my forties also raises eyebrows.
In my heart I believe that every child is a blessing and people should choose how many children they bear even though it does worry me that the world is becoming overpopulated and that times are difficult, even more so for larger families.
I started my family with my husband. Then long after he had gone, and our children were growing up into young adults, I met my current partner who did not have children. We decided to try for two together, the third was an unexpected bonus.
When you have your first child everyone asks when you are going to have another. Two children is a respectable number per family, people accept that readily. Then if you have two boys, or two girls, then people will accept that you may try again for another. If you have one boy and one girl then no-one asks if you are going to try for more. My first two were a boy and a girl, and if I’m honest, even I felt my family was complete. Many years later I had my two girls and I was often asked if I would try again for a boy….mostly by people not knowing I had older children, and already had my boy!
They say the more children you have the easier it becomes. I’ve never really felt that, I know you get used to having children and that elusive handbook of parenting is already half way written, but can you ever predict what your next child will be like? I find having three young children a real handful. I’m sure it was much easier before when I only had two growing up. Or maybe it’s just because I’m older.
Having a larger family also makes life more expensive and more difficult. For instance holidays…I would not be able to afford a holiday for seven of us. Thankfully, my older two wouldn’t want to holiday with us anyway and are quite happy to fund their own holidays. I find it hard enough with just the five of us though, most hotels have rooms for two adults and two children…where do we put number three? Even most places where you can go for a day out will offer family tickets which are for two adults and two children. It seems that having three children is just not normal, which is crazy.
So when do you know you have had enough? I’m not sure of the answer to this, it will be different for everyone. I’ve known women stop at one child because their pregnancy and birth were horrific, or they suffered terrible Post Natal Depression. My first born experience was like that, but it made me desperate to try again to see if I could get things right next time. A little naive of me perhaps, but it worked, my second pregnancy and birth was completely different and I did not get PND again. This is probably why I was content to stop at two, but in reality that was my husband’s decision, deep down I longed for more.
By the time my first two were growing up I was thinking that I would never have any more children and starting to get used to the idea. Then my current OH came along and we decided to try for a family between us. It didn’t happen straight away and I was hurtling towards my forties. We tried everything, then after just over two years it happened. As I said, we were planning on stopping on two but my body, fate or God even had different ideas and along came baby number five. I started with boy and finished with a boy.
Of course after number five I knew my baby days were definitely over. Not only did I feel that my family was complete, I lost all feelings of broodiness and my body was screaming no more. It was not a hard choice for me to stop.
Is it really so wrong to have more than the ‘normal’ number of children. We think about the overpopulation problem but isn’t that more because we are living longer? Were older generations not bigger families, my grandma had eight children? Just because contraception is available it doesn’t mean that people should have smaller families, they should still be able to choose without judgement.