Co-Sleeping with a child

Up until the age of one, my daughter refused to sleep by herself! She was so young and little, we just became accustomed to the fact our night time rest would be disturbed and accepted it would get better when she was ready. It became a way of life that we just went along with, often believing our patience couldn’t last when we fancied a bit of alone time and a crying baby would often put a stop to it. We always found humour with it though, as the second she was placed between us, she would close her eyes, smile coyly and drift off for the rest of the night in a wonderful cosy sleep, probably feeling pretty safe and smug. We didn’t mind really. Getting to squish her baby leg rolls in the night was a pretty good consolation prize. (We all enjoy baby rolls, don’t deny it.)

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Above: Who wouldn’t enjoy waking up to this?!

Then suddenly, when she was around 14 months, is stopped. She wanted to sleep in her cot and there were no more tears at bedtime, no more midnight wake up calls. We found ourselves for weeks after it started keeping on checking in on her, making sure she was still breathing, as we couldn’t get used to the quietness. We actually started to miss having her with us on a night.

People will often tell you that these things are just stages and the child will grow out of it naturally when they are ready, but I don’t for one second think that most of us believe it will actually happen that way. So when my daughter suddenly was very contented in her own cot, eventually also being happy in her own big girls bed approaching 2, we couldn’t have been happier for her. Of course, for me as her mother, there was that secret hidden element where I also felt a little bit like she didn’t need me anymore and was getting her comfort elsewhere. That will always be there I now know, whatever new milestone she reaches. But I had a partner at the time, so no baby in the middle of us in bed was very much welcomed and it was nice to have time for each other again.

Then, as some of you know, our world was turned upside down when my partner left me for another girl, leaving me and our daughter confused and insecure.

From the day he left, my daughter has refused to sleep in her own room, never mind in her own bed. The first few months were really needed for us both. We drew comfort and security from each other, her still only 2 at the time and having been used to feeling secure  since birth knowing daddy was in the next room, I can’t imagine the insecurities she must have felt at watching him go. Break ups are so confusing on the children and unfortunately, some people never do consider the children when they run onto the next greener horizon they think is awaiting them.WP_20140308_008.jpg

Above: Innocent little lives. So peaceful with what they know and are familiar with x

In terms of myself, I no longer had someone to hold me and make me feel safe at night. When you have spent 8 years with someone who cuddled you to sleep every night, it’s a real shock to the system to have an empty cold half of the bed. So having my daughter with me, at night, really pulled us through together. She wanted to know that I was there at all times and that I wouldn’t leave her also. I do believe she also wanted to protect me. She had seen first hand, unfortunately, my devastation at what was happening, and the day he got into the van packed with his things and went, we sat on the hall stairs, where she cuddled me, wiped away my tears and said “We are together now mom.” At only 2, she was looking after me. And I needed it. And she knew I did.

These days, I never for one minute doubt a child’s intelligence. Some people say they are only 2 or 3, they don’t know what they’re saying, or they wont remember anything. Of course they will. They are like sponges.

This was a year ago. Its been a rollercoaster ride getting to this point. Some days are good. Other days not so good. We have fun together though. Since that time, I have tried to get my daughter to want to sleep in her own room, investing in a new bed for her and even redecorating it in her choice of colours. We have managed a few nights where she begrudgingly goes to sleep in there, but I always awake to the sound of little footprints running back into my room in the middle of the night, getting in, smiling, turning over and falling into a lovely peaceful sleep next to me. Sound familiar? WP_20150104_17_51_25_Pro.jpg

Above: Team work x

A few people have warned me off allowing this. They have said the child will become too dependent on me. That she will never sleep in her own bed if I don’t push her to now.

I think, this time, I am going to listen to my own instinct.

It is doing her more good than harm having that comfort from me. She sleeps rights through the night (7pm until 7am on a good night.) It has been a year but not a straight forward one. Try telling a 3 year old when its time to stop missing her daddy being there when she needs a cuddle. It doesn’t happen. They are natural creatures at that age, going from one moment to the next entirely on how they feel in that moment. If it brings her comfort to know im not going to walk out on her and im next to her, whilst she’s still young, I am all for it.

She wakes up rested, rejuvenated and happy right now. I have attempted a few times in her room and most of the night has been spent disturbed, crying or generally restless. She is then a misery the next day for lack of sleep which makes things twice as hard.

At three and a half, she is already getting embarrassed about me giving her a kiss on the cheek when I drop her into pre-school. This morning, she wiped it off with her hand and gave it back to me! It gives me hope that children follow their natural needs and that she wont always be hogging my bed. She has grown up so much in the last few months, she is different to how she was even 3 months ago. They are constantly evolving and growing, something I don’t think they are given enough credit for when they are often labelled as spoilt or naughty.

I do believe that they will tell you what they need in their own time. Dont misplace my meaning, I do believe kids need structure and routine, which she has. They also need boundaries. Treats should be treats and not expected everyday, they should understand that hard work is the way to earn things they want and not just be handed it, and so on.

However, at the moment, with the sleeping, I don’t see it’s doing her any harm. I am pretty certain that pushing her away before she is ready would actually do more harm than good. I’m also pretty certain that in not so long from now she will be feeling even more grown up and will eventually leave the safety of my bed and want her own. That is a given, it will happen. And I will miss these baby years where she was completely devoted to me and wanted nothing in return other than love. Why shouldnt I enjoy this special time? Maybe if I had a partner I might feel differently, but I don’t. That’s my point, no one can say it’s wrong because each situation is different for each person’s individual life path.

Also, whilst I am not sharing my bed with anyone else, it’s of no great rush to me either. I like knowing she’s there too.

Co sleeping shouldnt be mislabeled as inappropriate or wrong. It also shouldnt be confused with co dependency. I am all for her being in her own bed and when she is it will be a relief not to be kicked in the face in the night. I’m just not going to bully her into getting there before she needs to. x wp_20141107_08_30_10_pro

Life After Death: A night with Steve Holbrook and a message from Nan.

In 2013, for my 27th birthday, me and my Nan went to our first Steve Holbrook show together at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall. I, at the time, had never lost anyone close to me but had been interested in what these type of spiritualist shows consisted of and was eager to give one a go. I think Nan had secretly hoped her parents might come through, as she sat through the talking kicking her legs back and forth like she often did, looking out the window, in her bag and everywhere else other than at the man at the front of the room. It therefore surprised me, when on exiting the building, she said how impressed she had been with the messages people were given and how specific they had sounded. It certainly made us both think about it but we concluded that we guessed we would never really know the truth and that was that. I did enjoy the show so much, however, that I went back the next year with my then partner and had a similar experience of enjoying it and feeling moved by what I had heard, again, being given no personal messages ourselves.

Like all none certain beliefs, I had my questions about how real these demonstrations are. Did they plant people in the audience, for instance. Did they read your body language and make general assumptions based on the safe knowledge that more than likely everyone there will have lost someone? Did they research names and deaths online and make general comments that would resonate with just about everyone in the room? It was with these questions in mind, and an open mind, that after she passed I felt I wanted to go again with the renewed experience of having now lost a close loved one and not just for entertainment purposes. I had also made a deal with Nan, a sort of half soaked one in good jest, about a year before she had passed, when she was really poorly, agreeing that if she passed away and there was a Steve Holbrook show just after, I would go to it and she would come through for me to prove to me that her energy was still around, by saying something to me that no one else would have known. Something specific that only she could have known. I secretly hoped that she would stick to our deal.

So last night, with my mom, sister and our friend (also Nans neighbour) in tow, we went over to Wombourne Civic Centre in Wolverhampton, not really thinking we would get anything but I think all secretly hoping for curiosity’s sake that we each would. It’s not something you want to admit to that you might have hope that energy after death really exists. But lets face it, everyone in that room wanted a message, that is why we all went. It was not only a full moon last night, but after sitting empty for some months now, yesterday a young couple with a baby, brand new life, moved into my nans house, completing the process for me of knowing that as her place. Whilst it sat empty, it still was. Yesterday just seemed like the day. If we were going to hear anything, it would be that night.

The very first message he relayed was for a lady who had lost her mom around June. Mom put her hand up but there was some confusion on the date as Nan passed on 2nd July, so not quite June. The two lines crossed somewhat and Mom dropped it as did he and he found someone else to tell the message to. However, this particular message sounded just for mom. He said how this lady wished things had been different between them in life and that she didn’t get chance to say goodbye. That she had a daughter. The lady at this point receiving the message looked a little confused and didn’t agree with all the information at first but then found things to relate to after this. We all felt, if it was real, that this might have been Nans message to mom, but in the confusion of dates it got lost in translation and given to someone else. It would be so like Nan to make a pact with me about showing her face and making sure she was first in line to do so. We said no more about it at the time, moving on with the first half of the show, transfixed by the seemingly accurate messages everyone else was at that point getting, maybe also a little frustrated that we might have missed our chance for contact because of an error with the dates.

After the interval, he went to the other side of the room and said “January 20th, whose birthday or anniversary is January 20th. And who is John?”. We looked at each other but said nothing to him, as he was half way through another discussion with someone else by this time. Nobody on that side of the room, however, could pick up that date or name, so he started looking back towards our direction. He skirted around a few people but was having a little difficulty pinpointing a person to give it to. There were also a few comments to people on the far side of the room in relation to having some lillies and changing their usual type of milk recently. Again, nobody picked up on this and Nans neighbour and friend was sure that these messages were for her. We had given her nans hall table and she had a picture of nan on with some lillies my mom had bought for her just after nan died. She also wanted to put some lillies on her coffin but couldn’t find any in time. She said she had also bought a different milk to usual and nan always knew which one she used. It’s little details like this you think about afterwards.

Then he looked to Mom again saying “The lady I got the date wrong with earlier, you lost your mom?”. Mom said yes. He said he had a lady with him who had tried to get through earlier and would have done sooner if she could have. I believe it was her trying to get through on that first message. My moms birthday is January 20th and my brother is called John. If anyones message was going to be scattered all over the place, it would be nans.

He asked who she was with tonight and asked for the family members to show them selves. Me and my sister put up our hands rather cautiously from what I remember!

He said this lady wants to speak to all of the family, but there’s too many to do individually. He said that she wanted us all to know that she loved us all the same and that there were no favourites.

He said that there had been some questions weighing over us about her death and in a sense we had struggled to put things to rest having had so many unanswered questions.

He said she wanted us to know that how she felt at the end overcame her very quickly and she didn’t know what was going to happen.

He said that had she known how good it would feel where she is now that she would have gone much sooner and stopped trying to be here so long.

He took a stance at the front of the stage, very proud, very strong and made the gesture with his body of great strength. He said this lady is VERY strong and I would use the word fighter.

He said her funeral had been all about her strength of character and her life and how she lived.

He said she had been in hospital sometime prior to her death and that she had recently had tests done just before her passing.

He stressed twice I think that she loved us all the same.

This could sound quite general and I know a few of us were cautious to want to believe this could be happening and rightly so. However, for me, this was a good start. Every point for me was bang on.

He never addressed anyone else in the room asking to speak to all the family, even though they came with some. The message about loving us all the same and wanting to speak to us all really touched me, because after Nans death I think we all felt a bit like some of us thought we should be more upset than others and that Nan had her favourites. We also all really fell out after her death, as happens sometimes, so to address us as a whole I thought really significant. Having spent the most time with her myself this last year also, I had that insecurity that the others were slightly angry at me for feeling so upset at the time of her death,like I felt I had earned the right to grieve more for being her carer or that I thought Nan loved me more for what I did for her. Of course that wasnt the case, but emotional times make everyone insecure.

What he said about our uncertainty over her death was also really strong. Everyone that saw her that week said how well she looked. The day before she was gardening. For me, I had initially felt guilty I wasnt around for her when it happened, as I think we all feel to start with. For weeks, I didn’t accept that she had gone to bed and just died. I had felt the very real possibility that she had, after calling me at 9am to say don’t come round, had a really terrible last day in pain, dragging herself up to bed at the end with a hot water bottle as we found her with and knowing she was going to die. Its made me really uncomfortable to imagine that she knew it was going to happen. I can’t think of anything worse than lying in pain knowing you are alone and about to pass. The answers to these questions are things we will never know because we were not with her. I think we have all felt that she wanted to be on her own and knew it was happening. So to have a message saying it overcame her very quickly at the end, along with the fact we found her in a sleeping position in her bed, did give me great comfort that it wasnt a long drawn out process. She may still have had pain in the end if it all happened quickly but at least it might not have happened quite as I imagined. In those last moments, she may even have realised it was happening. Those facts are things we will never know. But I did find comfort in hearing what I did. It gave me some hope that she just went to sleep as she looked like she did.

The stance he took at the front of the stage made me cry with recognition. Her strong presence was being felt I thought and anyone that knew Nan knew that she was a hell of a force to be reckoned with. We all said how sad it felt after she passed that her little body lay on the bed, with no fight left, no longer with that at times uncomfortable energy that surrounded her. She was such a presence. Her house no longer felt that way after she went. So if Steve Holbrook was feeling her energy and clenching his fist in a strong pose at the front of the stage, I found that all very fitting actually. To say she was a fighter couldn’t have been more apt. This woman survived things that would have killed others instantly. She had the strength of 5 men plus a few horses to boot I think! She had been severely electrocuted, had a gangrenous gallbladder, had burst appendix, had this cancer and probably lived with it for years not knowing. This woman did not want to die and proved she could fight the odds. Fighter is exactly the right word for her.

The comments about her funeral made me smile. We specifically said we didn’t want a religious ceremony because she didn’t want that. She wasnt religious. She thought there was some life force that continued after death and that the body was a vessel. She used to go to spiritualist evenings in her youth, so I know she was open to the idea. We made her funeral a simple humanist ceremony all about her life and her strength. It was spot on.

As was his comments about her being in hospital.She had been a year before she passed and my brother had taken her to her most recent scan only four days before she died. It was all very real.

That bundle of information to me was impressive enough and I was glad he spoke to us all as a whole.I would have been happy with that to be honest.

Then he looked at me and asked if he could speak to me directly. I said yes. I was already crying at this point, no matter how much you tell yourself you will take it with a pinch of salt, you can’t help feel moved by the detail. And I felt that after how I had been feeling, she knew that I needed to be addressed directly for my own comfort. I felt very moved.

He said that I was the sensitive one in the family (so true).

That I had a birthday or celebration just after she had passed and I had found it really difficult to celebrate that day after her passing (She died 2nd July, I turned 30 on 13th July, my milestone birthday.) He said she was raising a glass to me in spirit to let me know she was celebrating with me.

He said I in particular had been very upset that she didn’t say goodbye to me. (I had been feeling after spending everyday with her that she should have let me know what was happening if she had known herself on the day. To be such a big part of your everyday life and then just be gone, I have found really hard to deal with.)

He said she had already visited me first in a dream and I had been awoken really shaken, being in a daze about it all day the following day. (I had an awful dream a few nights before her 80th birthday on 7th August where I felt her sit on the bed next to me, feeling it go down with the weight. I knew in the dream it was Nan very clearly. I had felt her tickling my back and it scared me rather than comforted me as it felt very real and present in the room with me. I started to shout for Mom, actually shouting in my sleep, waking my daughter up and scaring her in the middle of the night in the process! Doing this, in the dream, seemed to annoy Nan, and she got up off the bed and made a comment as I heard it like “Oh go on, run to your mother again!”. The tickling turned to a sharp full nail scratch down my back as I woke up. It was really terrifying.)

This dream had left me in a cold sweat and I was terrified the next day and have had trouble sleeping since, not wanting to turn the lights off. He said that night it was her visiting me to show me she was still around. I had been so upset about her just leaving and being gone and not saying bye, that this all made sense to me. Nan could also be cold at times, not in a nasty sense, but if she didn’t like something she would be angry about it and refuse to speak to you or snap if she did. So the fact I was calling for my mom when she may have been trying to assure me she was there for me, I am sure, would have pissed her off greatly ha. Especially considering their difficult relationship.

He said that I had recently mentioned to someone about 2 stones in weight and she had heard me speaking about it. (I have said to someone this week that I ideally need to lose about 2 stones but wasnt sure how I would do it.)

He also chuckled to himself and said “Whats this about the perfume, does someone have her perfume? Whats happened to it?”. He was smiling as if finding something amusing. (I had taken Nans only perfume when we cleared the flat. Only the day before the show, I had caught my 3 year old daughter pouring half of it down the bathroom sink! I decided to pour the rest away as she also lost the lid to it. As I poured it I thought of Nan and wondered if I should be doing it.) He said she knows about the perfume and saw it. He seemed to find it amusing which I found nice.

Then he asked us all about her shoes. What happened with her shoes? (I remember when we were debating what to dress her with in the coffin, we asked each other if dead people needed shoes in their coffin. We decided she didn’t and as we weren’t going to view her she didn’t need them. I can imagine she felt half dressed to go without her shoes ha. She also had really bad feet and would have hated anyone seeing her toes.)

I have to say, I was very taken by the whole experience. The details, I felt, were specific to me and those I came with.

I can never have proof as such that life after death exits. However, I do think that energy of some form exists after death and as my sister said, there are some people who do this for a living that just prey on the vulnerable and give them really unspecific things that they can latch onto in the vain hope that their loved ones are still with them. Then there are those that want to do good things and help to heal people, regardless of how genuine it is what they might be relaying.

All I can say, after seeing Steve Holbrook a few times now and after hearing the specifics I was given last night, is that I feel that he is one of the genuine ones. I do think he is picking up on some kind of energy, regardless of whether he is actually seeing or hearing a passed person or just the energy left over. He talks and it flows out of him at fast pace as it is happening. He is not trying desperately to remember anything. He is not making up random bit’s as he goes along. It all seems very fluent, very organic and very genuine. I do believe he does his job for a positive reason. To help people, to heal people, to let them find peace. He has a gift.

Whatever happened last night, I left that centre feeling totally at peace about my Nan. It is a feeling that I have not felt until this point. I woke up today no longer feeling guilty about what happened to her. Whether it was me believing what I wanted to hear or a genuine communication that happened between us, it has helped me at least find peace with her death.If that was Nan keeping to her word and always delivering her promises,  as in life, then I’m really proud of her 😊.

I have seen a  few negative stories about Steve Holbrook on the internet and I think its easy to be a sceptic on things we don’t understand. The people who try to bring him down have never received a message themselves, or felt incredibly touched about what they heard in relation to their own lives. Whether its real or not (and if it’s not, it’s a bloody good job!), it is very convincing and it does do something really positive.

It brings people closure and the ability to find peace if they receive a message like I did last night. Who are we to argue with that? For that, I would like to say thanks to him for giving me a renewed hope that life doesn’t just stop when our bodies fail us.

I do know one thing. I will have to be really careful about what I say and do from now on, just incase she’s watching 😉 x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Single Mom,not Superwoman! (And what its really like living with a 3 year old!)

I was chatting to a friend the other day when they pointed out to me how they thought the systems that be often expect single parents to be more like superwoman than anything else. And it wasnt until she said it that I realised how much I am expected to be able to manage on my own. And what a good job I’ve been doing actually. I have been feeling somewhat overwhelmed by it all since last year when this became my living status, that being me and my daughter on our own.

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Now she is three and a half, has just started pre-school and is growing so fast it scares me! I am a busy single mom trying to work out what to do next whilst wondering how the hell I will fit going to work into the equation next year when she starts at school. I have a lot to juggle and would really love to hear from any of you that have done it and succeeded! Here is a bit of an insight into what living with a three-year old is really like for those of you who think it’s a walk in the park!

As it’s approaching next September, I find myself more and more daunted by the day. I am sure some of you reading this have been there and can assure me it will be ok. I know deep down things will work out in whatever way they are supposed to. That is usually how life goes. Just getting there is always scary. I would be a liar if I didn’t admit to this. My head is a cloud of decisions I have to make pretty much alone and I often feel ready to give up. I don’t though. I suppose that’s my saving grace. I’ve come close to giving up. But the benefits of having children, single or otherwise, far outweigh the negatives and that is why us parents carry on when faced with only one other option.

Choosing a school: I’m just realising how scary it is making sure you pick the right one! Even if you are happy with a decision and make a choice, there’s no saying they will have space for your child anyway. School life is a whole other ball game to just having a baby. Its getting very real. Choosing a school is something you hope to be doing with a partner on a lazy Sunday in bed, with her tucked up in the middle of you both, looking over the relevent prospectuses whilst cooing over how fast your little one has grown up. To progress as a unit is always the ideal. I looked forward to that bit. You work with what you have. I will of course discuss it with her father, but, inevitably, I will be the one taking her and dealing with the school every day, so it is on my shoulders to make that final decision. It already takes me 25 minutes each way to walk up hill to her pre-school, that’s each way, 25 there and 25 back. Twice over each day. Nearly 2 hours of my day taken up with getting to pre school and back. No wonder my calves ache! Yes I could spend £4.40 per day on the bus but you do the math, especially when she’s at school. It may not seem much to some of you but every penny has to count when you don’t have excess.It has to work for me too whichever I choose.

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School runs: Managing school runs with work as a none driver is not going to be easy. (Those who have helpfully said why don’t you just learn to drive have obviously never survived on £45 income support per week.) I had a friend once who said I would manage as everyone else in my position had to. It’s a  good point in theory, but coming from someone who was driven to the school gates door to door every morning by a family member and who had a supportive partner paying the bills whilst she got to raise her kids at home, it didn’t really bring me much comfort. Remarks aren’t really helpful unless they come from experience. We have a practice routine now of course, which will help us prepare for the real thing, as she’s been at nursery for a year now and the hours are pretty similar to a school day (9am until 3pm) But that’s just two days per week,whilst I am at home and don’t have to rush to work after. The five day week is going to take some getting used to I think!

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Getting out the door:Trying to get yourself up and out the house is one thing. Getting up to an alarm for anything in the early hours is never nice for anyone, kids or not! If I leave without food on my clothes or lipstick on my arm it’s a successful morning. (Ever tried just nipping upstairs to do your make-up without a 3 year old following you and destroying every piece of makeup you ever owned?! Not managed it yet myself!) Trying to get yourself and a young child out of the house, on the other hand, is a whole different kettle of fish. To be clean, dressed, packed and fed and at the place you’re going on time is a challenge. We are managing it so far! Just about!

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Inconsistencies: There are smooth days where she is so good that I feel a little smug my seemingly angelic child at the time does all she’s told. Then there are days when angel is not the preferred choice of word and she doesn’t co-operate at all. Those days where you will get her dressed, leave the room with only 10 minutes to spare until you need to go, come back in and she’s running around with her trousers on her head and a completely naked body apart from her pants and one sock. All in good fun of course. But not in the least bit helpful. Or those days where you get her dressed and she spills her whole bowl of cereal down her top and it pours under your tv cabinet, giving you another job to add to your morning, reducing your time to get ready and meaning you have to then power walk up the hill arriving very sweaty and frantic but just about on time! Buy hey, if you’re going to be inconsistent at any point in your life, three is a good a time as any to get it out the way!

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Above: Who, me?!

Invasions: Mornings, at times, can be a mammoth task. Eat your breakfast (No!), go and get your shoes (Sits watching tv ignoring me), go and have a wee before we leave (cries saying she doesn’t want to try then after 5 minutes of stern mom talking she goes and does a massive one that she obviously needed all along anyway.) You find yourself often sneaking around the house trying to do things in secret. Like tiptoeing up the stairs to have a lone bath whilst she’s watching Bing, only for her to hear me getting in, run after me, then harass me to get in too until I can’t bothered to say no anymore. She proceeds happily making it her own private water world fun time regardless of its original occupier and I quickly wash my hair in the only corner she hasn’t taken over with toys and bottles. Cold water runs freely no matter how much I say to turn it off,my knee is throughly washed at least 12 times whilst I watch my best body wash I was trying to make last at least another week rapidly disappear before my eyes and my 10 minutes of peace become yet another long-winded mess to clean up after. More work for Mommy. Its exhausting sometimes. Mentally draining. Of course there are mornings shes wonderful and does whatever I need her to. And at other times I adore her company in the bath and love that everything is fun at that age. Who am I to spoil her fun. Simple pleasures are all a three year old really needs after love and food. But when you have somewhere to be, its hard work to see the fun side too often. The clock waits for no man once they are in the system.

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Me Time: Every one needs this. Shame we don’t all have the luxury of taking it when we live on our own and away from family. I think it must be so easy for men to just walk out on the tediousness as they see it, of a nagging women and young noisy baby, not fully knowing or wanting to know the full sacrifice they are leaving them to make for the remainder of that child’s life (As if they didn’t sacrifice enough having the babies in the first place-So long tight stomach, confidence and energy) Women often are the backbone of the family and yet are so overlooked at times its frightening. A mother can do a 15 hour day, feed her baby, tidy the house, do the shopping and still manage to get something edible on the table for when her partner gets home complaining about his single task of working that day and being tired. Yet we are made to feel grateful they have earned the money and find ourselves running round after them to meet their needs. Who is meeting ours? We constantly multi task and it’s just not noticed.

Now I am alone I am having to double the multi tasking I was already doing! It never ends! I am permanently exhausted. I am not always able to clean the house properly or go out for yet more food supplies because it’s too much work after cleaning, cooking, chasing and entertaining. It takes several trips sometimes to do top up shopping. On my own, I cart everything back on the bus, juggling my toddler holding onto one bag with the other hand full and a back pack on too. There isn’t much time left over for me. Yet I am proud of myself for rising to the challenge because the alternative is not even an option.I am going to do this job properly and raising a child is nothing to be half soaked about.

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Time Restraints: My evenings will be taken up with coursework from October, going from one job as Mom in the daytime, to another of student whilst she sleeps at night. I have to do this to better the situation I have been left with. My day will be something like 6am until 11pm constantly doing work of some sort. Once shes dropped at pre-school, I come back and clean up last nights mess I was too exhausted to clean up last night. I have a real bath to make up for the one she stole that morning (If cleaning didn’t take the morning) I might go food shopping or pay some bills and before you know it its time to collect her again. The day goes fast and the night even faster. God help me fitting it all in next year. I will. I have to. I’m just not looking forward to working even harder. I don’t feel its possible right now.

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Self Care: It’s a life of choices and sacrifices on your own I have come to realise. People often say raising a child is hard work in general and even as part of a couple. I am not disputing this. Partner or not, its hard work. But with a partner, at least there is a choice that includes you in the equation getting what you need also. I used to be able to have 20 minutes to myself on a morning whilst me and my then partner tag teamed the care of our daughter whilst the other got ready, all getting to do what we needed and getting out the house on time. Always on time. Always with washed hair. Pre single life I washed my hair every day just to feel fresh. Because I had time to wash and blow dry in those days. And put on make up. And paint my nails. And cut them regularly come to think of it. What a luxury. Post split, on my own time, if it’s a choice between getting her to her nursery on time or washing my hair, im going to be walking up that hill with a hat on instead! I come last now in the household list of priorities even more so than I did when I had a partner because im now doing double the work. It’s not a choice to not make an effort with my appearance. I try as much as I have energy to and as much as time will let me. Sometimes a face full of slap is the least of your worries when your toddlers just been sick all in her nursery bag right before you leave the house!

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Employment: Finding a job to fit around a 9am until 3pm day will be hard. Ideally I want to be self-employed but havent quite found that thing that I am really good at yet. I wont have the luxury of juggling the school runs and collections with anyone, it’s all on my shoulders and after this last year I do worry if I will be able to handle it all. I have also just started an Open University degree which I will have to work around next year. Finding a quiet moment to study with that feels almost impossible already being on my own with her, and that’s whilst im at home, so the thought of fitting paid work on top of that next year is something im finding hard to come to terms with. This  wasnt my life choice of preference. I believed in my family. On my new handed path, on a systems time scale of when they think im ready, im feeling more than a little bit terrified. But a day at a time is what I keep saying and doing.

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The fact is that people often see single parents as moaning individuals who must be saying how tough going it is to get sympathy. I have also found that it’s usually those without children with no day-to-day hands on experience of how draining it is, that have the least empathy for your situation doing it alone.

I don’t want your sympathy. I just like to tell it how it is. Some of you might find it interesting. This blog is something I will look back on with happy memories, knowing I allowed myself to process and progress onto better things for myself and my daughters future. I am not expecting any prince charmings to come and rescue me like in any of the chick flicks featuring any of the famous Jennifer’s that I really must stop watching (Lopez, Aniston, you know who you are giving us false hope these men exist!) I am pretty certain I am doing this alone from now on and all I can do is give it my best shot, exhaustion and all x

Love Second Hand ;-)

Today something unexpected happened to me.

I dropped my daughter off to pre-school and one of the staff looked at me and said how much she loved my dress. Usually I would have just said thanks and moved on. Today, instead, I found myself doing something I don’t usually do. Admitting it was second-hand and telling her proudly I got it for £2 from a charity shop. I was delighted when, instead of looking uncomfortable, she beamed and said how much she loved charity shops herself and always shopped around the cheaper ones when she visited family in other areas. This really made my day.

I know loads of people who buy clothes from second-hand stores in Cornwall. There are charity shops on many a high street, more so there, in every third building or so in some cases. However, up here, there is a certain amount of snobbery that comes along with living in a more central location. I am currently in Birmingham, a big city where you have all the high street names in one place, from Topshop to Zara to the more affordable every day clothes stores such as New Look or Primark. A few friends up here I have mentioned my love of charity shops to have given funny and somewhat awkward responses at times, ranging from disbelief that I would choose to venture into these places, to a few plastic smiles trying to hide their discomfort with an idea that doesn’t quite fit with what we have been trained as a nation to do. 2016-08-15_17.03.55[1].jpg

Above: One of my favourite £4 charity shop dresses x

So to get todays reactions really made me feel elated that second-hand buying on the whole is really becoming more accepted and no longer just for niche markets like over priced vintage stores. It’s funny that people see nothing wrong with getting a second-hand bed frame or a wooden piece of furniture off Ebay, yet the thought of wearing a used persons clothes has some feeling a little queasy, if they are honest. My friend used to say to me that she only bought new for the simple reason that charity shops were full of dead people’s clothes and that it made her feel a bit sick. I am sure some are clothes from house clearances, and this was made more apparent to me when we bagged up my Nans clothes and donated them to sell. However, there are people, like me, that have regular clear outs and take bags of clothes round to their local charity shop. Donations are made from all walks of life. I think the point is, it doesn’t matter where it came from, but much like us as individuals, what matters is the purpose it’s now serving.

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Above: Emi in her brand new tags £1.50 Ebay top. RRP £8.00

Some people’s opinions on these shops are downright outrageous though. My Nan told me about a man she once knew, who put all his clothes in his kitchen bin to go to landfill, saying he would rather do that or even go as far as to burn them, than think of someone else walking around in his clothes. His clothes that he didn’t want anymore anyway. It makes no sense to me. Giving your clothes to charity serves several purposes, including preventing unnecessary waste. It also can be re sold, with the money going directly towards a worthy cause. Two birds with one stone right there!

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Above: One of my best finds. Brand new with tag £1.49 swimsuit from Boots Mini Club range. Would have been around £14.00 in store

I have personally found charity shops an eye opener. You can go into one and have no idea what you will come across, I really like the surprise element. It’s like an indoor car boot sale, you know the saying, one persons junk is another persons treasure. It is so true. Of course, sometimes you find nothing and some of it is junk but there are also times when you find a real treat at an amazing price and those times I feel really proud for being both thrifty as well as charitable. I love the buzz of getting a bargain and seeing people’s shock when I tell them how much I managed to buy it for.

Yes I could go to Zara and buy a top for £30, one of 20 identical ones off the rail, wear it a few times and get bored and want something else the next month. Personally, I love the idea of rummaging through a random rail and finding a real gem at a bargain price!

I recently found a lemon print rainmac for Emi from Next for £4.50. It would have cost £30 new and still looks new. Why would I push my budget and spend 6 times what I got it for, just to be able to say its new. In saying that, I have also picked up many brand new with tags still attached items from these shops. People are generally wasteful and I am sure we all have had one item in our wardrobe at some point that we forgot to take back and get a refund on. It’s never going to get worn, so the obvious thing to do is to donate it. There are loads of brand new items to be found, so a lot of second-hand shop stuff isn’t even technically used. Even if you can’t find new, whats the big deal anyway?

Think about it. When you buy something from a shop, it’s always used anyway. Have you ever thought about how many people have tried that particular item of clothing on in the shop fitting rooms or bought it already and returned it? Everything is used anyway! This way at least, you can update your wardrobe far more often and do a good deed at the same time by donating money to charity rather than giving it to another big wig at the head of a major high street brand. Dont get me wrong, I’m not saying I never shop in the high street and buy new.

I do. But always in the sale! 😉 is-4

These shops have also been a bit of a saviour to my budget. As a single mom, it’s often hard to keep up with everything a growing three-year old needs. A smart mamma knows that babies and toddlers don’t get much wear out of their clothes anyway. I think it’s becoming more fashionable to admit to buying second-hand, especially where children are concerned.

A few weeks back I took my girl to the cinema and wanted to buy some sweets beforehand to take in with us (I’m not paying cinema prices!!). We got into the shop and she was randomly sick all down the sweet isle! The staff were great, helping me clean her up and even leant me a dressing gown from the kids department so that I could go and buy her a new outfit (The one day I didn’t pack a spare!) I bought her a dress from Next for £6 to put on immediately as it was the closest shop (And I thought people would think me a lazy mom who took their kid out in a dressing gown if I carried her any further!)But the thought of it happening again made me hunt for a spare set before going to the cinema. Just incase! I headed to our local Cancer Research shop and found her a matching cat outfit (leggings and T-shirt) for the total price of £2.50. My spare budget that week was pretty tied up, so to not have had to go into H&M and spend £10 on a spare dress was a total blessing and she adores her cat outfit! Charity shop to the rescue again! 20160814_174755[1].jpg

Above: Emi happy in her new best £2.50 cat outfit x

I don’t limit it to clothes either. Charity shops are great for books and household items like kitchen ware. Especially if you love all things shabby chic like me. People also make handmade pieces such as knitted cardigans or blankets, and donate them just to help raise money for a good cause, just because they have the time to do so. (Yes, there are still some lovely people in this crazy world.) I personally love that I can pick up one of a kind hand-made items that someone has put a lot of love and effort into and it is completely original. My daughters favourite blanket was picked up for £3 from one of our local charity shops that has a special handmade section we often love to browse in.

Nearly all of my furniture is second-hand too and although you can get some good bits in shops, I nearly always browse locally on Ebay items, as if you bid rather than buy at a set price, you can get them really cheap if you can arrange delivery or collection.

My 3 piece suite and chair were £80 together (they wanted £120, I haggled.) It is from one of those expensive sofa companies and would have cost them hundreds new. I picked up my daughters stacker bed for £21 on auction via Ebay. Of course it helps to have a helpful driver friend to help you collect it. If you can arrange collection, you can get some brilliant bargains. These beds retail for £200 brand new and the mattress was hardly used and thrown in with the cost of the bed!20160909_214315[1].jpgAbove: My second-hand chair and tv unit. Total Bargains x

I’ve also just had a change of colour scheme in my living room and have been looking for some suitable new furniture for ages. I found a tv cabinet I loved advertised for £40. I saw on the listing that the seller was moving abroad and needed a quick sale. Having seen a matching desk and table in her other items for sale, I asked what she would accept for a quick sale and I got all 3 items for £50! She even threw in the paint! Its proper chunky solid furniture that will last for years and I am thrilled when I find things I can really cherish and make my home feel like a home.

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Above: My beloved desk and table, part of a set of 3 I got for £50

You can probably guess that I love car boots too, although I don’t go to many of these. There are so many ways to get good bargains and source different things these days. We don’t all have to pay full price on the high street either!

So, I hope a few people reading this have maybe opened their eyes up to possible new ways of shopping if they had a different perspective of second-hand buying before. It’s really nothing to be scared of or looked down upon at all. There will always be new stuff in the world. But whats wrong with a little recycling every now and again! Happy shopping 😉 xx

 

 

 

 

Making Breakfast Fun!

Over the last couple of weeks, my three year old has really gone off eating breakfast. I know kids tend to go through understandable short term phases, but when you are as active as she is, it concerned me that she was not fueling up properly for the day ahead, often having an eleven o clock slump, feeling tired and grumpy because of it…much like us big ones I guess if we neglect to fuel our bodies properly. I know I feel dizzy come lunch time if I skip breakfast.

I was trying the usual, eating together, offering different options, buying in her previous usual favourite things. She nibbled bits, she always eats something. But she just wasnt excited to eat anymore and I wanted to change that.

So, this week, I took action! I decided that me and her simply were not having enough fun, in all aspects of our life, but with the food in particular. I have been fortunate enough that I introduced real food to my daughter from a really early age, so there is next to nothing she wont at least try. But meal times shouldnt be seen as a chore, food is amazing and there’s so much we don’t know about. I never want her to think she has to eat her food, I want her to know eating is a pleasure and to look forward to it.

With that in mind, I decided to start making her food more like play time! Kids, especially three year olds, thrive off activities and fun! More than anything, I wanted to make her smile again.

So yesterday morning, we came downstairs and she said she was hungry. She opened the fridge, already like a teenager, seeing nothing she much fancied and walked out of the kitchen again huffing to go and slump in her mini arm chair. I smiled and left her to it and felt excited that I was going to surprise her with something she didn’t expect. It’s so easy to quickly rush a bowl of cereal or a slice of toast. Most days you have to if you have work or have large family commitments. However, if you can genuinely say to yourself you have 10 minutes to spare that morning, its well worth investing a little more time to give something different a try!

I made her some pancakes. Not the usual circle ones. Still using a standard batter (I just used 1 egg and as much flour and milk as I needed.) I poured in random amounts around the bottom of the pan making sure the batter edges didn’t meet. Turns out it made a load of random shapes , some even vaguely resembled dinosaurs and a U.F.O I thought. I chopped up some fresh berries and did a pot of yoghurt with a paintbrush dipped in ready for her to get busy. I covered it with a tea towel and said I had a surprise. (Three year olds love that word.) The look on her face when I whipped it away was priceless. She adored that she could glue on her berries with the yoghurt and essentially make crafts with her breakfast. She was excited, mealtime no longer was rushed to get back and play because it was the play and she ate lots in the process. We did it  again tonight for dinner ;-). A little imagination goes a long way with children this young.

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Above: Emi just checking the yoghurt glue wasnt real! Theres only one way to check after all!

This morning I wanted to surprise her again and she was actually smiling at me when she asked what was for breakfast. She knew something was coming again. So today, I made her day by saying we could have her favourite, ice cream, for breakfast! Well, that just blew her little mind.

She said “Ice cream? For breakfast? Ha!”. Throwing her head back and laughing as she does. I love seeing her thinking when something changes the game plan! Before you spit out your tea and call me a bad mom, give me a break. I wouldn’t actually give my daughter sugar laden ice cream as a promoted way of having a good breakfast! We made our own instant soft scoop ice cream using bananas I had frozen the night before. This one is great, really quick and super healthy!

You simply blend frozen bananas with whatever other ingredient or flavour you fancy. We made two types to try, one with fresh strawberries and frozen bananas and a chocolate ice cream which is just the bananas, 1 tsp of cocoa powder and a squeeze of honey. The strawberry one doesn’t need sweetening but cocoa can be quite bitter so that needed the honey I thought. Plus the chocolate one is really gooey almost like a pudding, which feels great to be allowed in the morning! Add a splash of milk to the chocolate one too to loosen it up a bit, a little goes a long way. So with just two ingredients in the strawberry one and four in the chocolate one, all natural and healthy, it makes a great start to the day and is really fun too.20160904_081441[1]Above: Thats enough now Emi!20160904_081448[1]Above: mmmmm I try some too!20160904_082153[1]Above: Loving her treat breakfast x20160904_082215[1] Above: Yummy and healthy too x

It takes all of about a minute and makes an instant soft scoop ice cream that is super healthy but feels like a treat. Just make sure you only blend until the bananas have no more lumps. If you do it more than that your soft scoop will become more of a thick shake! Best of all its something she could join in with, again, getting her excited by eating what she’s made herself rather than just being handed something and told it has to be eaten. Food has to be fun! Especially when kids are learning!

There are loads of fun things to try.

Making faces out of Fruit shapes is a nice one to do with them. (Bananas slit in half are perfect for a big smily mouth!).

We make porridge and make shapes on the top decorating with dried fruits and a squeeze of honey or jam. Hearts is a favourite and she always does me one on mine 😉 xWP_20160214_08_33_38_ProAbove: Emi with her blueberry heart porridge on Valentines day this year x

I am a realist and I do understand that food play isn’t always achievable or quick enough to do every day of the week. I am not suggesting that. I am going to aim to dedicate at least the weekend mornings to doing this for her and with her, more if I can, but at least those two days. Setting realistic goals is better than just saying I have no time or it’s too much upkeep. The child having one fun food day to look forward to each week is better than none at all.

You don’t have to keep it to one certain meal event either. We do the same with lunches sometime.

Making lettuce boats she can fill with chicken and salad herself and float across the table like on water is always fun (Thank god for wipe clean table cloths!)

Letting her draw a face on her hard-boiled egg shell after she has eaten and reenacting humptey dumptey before smashing his shell with her spoon is another firm favourite!

Using my inherited sherry glasses from Nan and letting her have her own little glass of wine at the dinner table always makes her feel really grown up and not left out. (It is squash for the record ;-0.)20160816_135948[1].jpgAbove: Emi with her mini wine x

Kids just want to be involved so give something a bit more inventive a try to see if they like it. Theres a good chance they will x

 

 

 

 

Fighting Depression

People say that to be a successful writer you have to write about what you know. I only know what I have experienced. A person can touch others with that alone I hope. This blog for me is a progression, something that I hope to learn from and a way to let out what I feel as and when I feel the need to share it. If you fancy joining me, great. If not, that’s fine too. It’s not for everyone.

Today’s attention in my life and others has been on depression. Recently, I have tried, I thought, to help someone I loved dearly to get help with theirs. Sometimes the truth can hurt, but the risk of losing the friendship of someone I loved was always worth it to me if they then got what they needed and addressed the problem, something I am happy to say is now happening I think. I was told today, however,  that I don’t understand depression or what my loved one is going through. Heres why I very much do.

Here goes.

I am depressed. There, I have said it. I have been depressed for about two years since my life unfolded. Admitting this to myself recently was the first step. Its taken me time to get there but I didn’t really know it was that. In the last 12 months my life has changed drastically. I am no longer with my partner and after caring for my Nan she has now passed away. These were two changes I never wanted to happen and still to this day wish didn’t happen. I let myself grieve for them as and when it needed to flow. I also acted as I needed to at the time, something I refuse to apologise for or feel ashamed for, following my heart and hoping for better things always, actively processing what had happened rather than ignoring the fact it had and hiding from the world instead. I acted true to myself and each day was an honest one. Trust me, I let it all out!! It hasn’t always been pretty, it hasn’t always been approved of, but it has allowed me not to cave in on myself, something I feel I have been more than close to in recent months and would have done had I not been allowed to process things the way I have. A lot of people pretend nothings happening and health wise I feel that’s much worse in a way.

For the last two months since Nan’s death I have been at my lowest point ever during my entire adult existence. Dont get me wrong, I was a mess when my partner left me. I was even worse when I realised things hadn’t been as they had seemed and he wouldn’t be coming back. And even worse after that when I didn’t like what had happened and blamed the world for it. I was angry. Really bloody angry. I don’t apologise for that either.14182378_10205315581488342_392549158_n

Above: A photo mom took of me in my room at my brothers wedding last year, 9 days after my partner walked out on me and my baby. I hate this photo and swore I would delete it, but, I feel its important to share this. Its one of my lowest times. My daughter is asleep behind me after a day of celebrations that were simply a blur to me. I put on my evening dress and wanted to look nice but once mom lifted the camera I lost the will to smile and broke down crying just after this. My saddest photo and the start of my depression really, properly anyway.

But just lately, a black cloud has hovered over me, sending me into an overall sadness that I have never experienced before. In all honesty it has scared me. It’s really terrified me actually. For the first time in my life the thought of not living anymore seemed really rather nice. Life is hard, we all know this and when you have been thrown a big steaming pile of shit its damn hard to stand back up and clean yourself off. Nans death was the final straw for me I think. Its like I died for a few weeks actually. I think I did inside. I was hurting still. Suffering inside. It’s still there inside of me. Like an empty feeling constantly making my chest feel heavy. I am really sad a lot of the time. When I am alone at least. I’m not sure when it will go away. But I am at least confronting it and dealing with it rather than pretending it isn’t happening.

During these weeks, I still did what I needed to do. We went to play group (She had fun whilst I sat in a dream) We went to Aldi (She scribbled on my shopping list and took advantage of my dazed state by putting sweets into the trolley whilst I stared at things and got in people’s way) We went to the library (She enthusiastically read to me whilst I pretended I could function enough to listen). I was physically still trying to carry on with everything you simply can’t stop doing. Afterall, all we can do in life is to try. I can say that I did that at least.

However, mentally I have been a zombie. I would get in from shopping and just sit there. One of my favourite  jobs is unpacking the shopping and putting it away (Sad I know!). My mom will testify this as far back as when I was a child (although I am quite sure that raiding the bags for iced buns and crisps back then was the real purpose of my offer to help!).It got so bad that I have woken up most mornings and wished that I hadn’t. It was a relief to sleep. When I could sleep. I don’t think I have had a good nights sleep in 12 months. To wake up again each day to what felt like an empty life felt like a torture to me. Even with my absolutely beautiful girl next to me hogging my bed she has claimed as her own, I knew full well how lucky I was, how lucky I am, to have her, to share my days with her, yet nothing much mattered. I honestly didn’t want to be around.

My daughter would ask for Milk and for me to get up and play, which being as it was usually about 6am, I didn’t muster the energy I usually would (something that annoyed her greatly ha.) I would hope for her to sleep a little longer purely because I couldn’t move myself. How crap is that? Hoping that the person so full of life who loves you most in the world and shows it doesn’t wake up yet? How guilty do you imagine I feel for having felt that way up to now? It wasnt personal of course. My body hurt. My mind was overwhelmed. I was simply exhausted. I still am. I stopped cleaning the house almost completely for a week or so. Can you imagine what it looked like with a three year old doing her stuff?! I am so glad I didn’t have visitors that week!

I could have so easily lost myself. I was at the point for weeks. Nobody would have known. Then I thought of her. Stuck here alone if something happened to me. I have never felt as guilty for even entertaining those thoughts than I did in that moment. It’s amazing how children can bring you back from the brink. Last week I was playing with my daughter and she smiled at me with her massive big blue eyes and said that she had missed me whilst she was asleep the night before. I cried. She asked why of course (how to explain ha). Then we cuddled and I kissed her, we laughed at silly mommy crying and I told her I loved her and that was my moment. My wake up call. She was in front of me all along, the embodiment of life itself aged three, yet I had not been able to see. I love that girl more than anything in this world and more to the point, she loves me. She wants me here. She wants to tell me she loves me. How lovely is that? She has time for me and needs me. She is my purpose each day at the moment and she is the reason I woke up and chose to choose life over sinking. I don’t think even I realised how close I had been to giving up. I very nearly did. 20160810_111359[1].jpg

Above: My reason to carry on. One of them x

The next day I took myself to the doctors. Not to get any pills. I don’t believe that masking the problem with pills will heal anyone. I just wanted it on record that I am struggling, so that I am not dealing with it alone. So that someone checks in with me once in a while. To admit it is the first step to fixing it. To say it to a stranger makes it real. I asked for advice and people I could talk to if I needed. That is all. But that was enough as I said, to make it very real.

The next step has been being present again in my own life. Enjoying more with Emi. Not missing anymore precious time with her. Age three is an amazing time. We are making good memories and bonding. I look forward to going to bed for a cuddle and although it’s still a struggle in the morning as I still don’t sleep well I adore being woken up by that face (Ok, maybe not at 6am!), she is a joy to be with and I will never take her time for granted again. These are all things I will continue to work on.

The next stage is me. Seeing my positives and setting my challenges. We all need things to look forward to. I thought I had none. Turns out I could make my own. I have signed up for an English Degree which I am really looking forward to and am loving seeing the different readers on my blog each time I post one. It brings me comfort I can reach out to others with my own experiences. I also went running for the first time in about 6 years last night and loved it (My shins didn’t!). Healthy body healthy mind and all that. I am really actively trying to live again and it feels good. I am not saying I wont have down days anymore. I still don’t like certain things and they hurt a lot. I just hope they don’t take up the whole day. I can let it out for half hour when she’s in bed but it doesn’t have to control my life anymore.

So to the person who told me I don’t understand depression today, I know it came from an upset place, but I assure you, I really do and I hope that if this post helps only one person either understand it a bit better or come to terms with their own, I will be happy. Heres to trying xx20160806_082146[1].jpg