On the eve of Christmas

These are unusual times.

As Christmas approaches, I spend my days moving between despair and hope.

Dickens said it best in A Tale of Two Cities..

It was the best of times

best

It was the worst of times

elijah2

it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair….

I am now like those two cities.

One city is full of memories of Elijah, despair and regrets. The other city is full of Gabriel and the joy and laughter he brings to my life every single day.

Christmas is a lonely time as a bereaved parent.

The whole world is drinking, laughing and celebrating birth, at a time when celebration feels wrong.

But…then there is hope.

The hope that comes from watching the little face of a 3 year old boy light up, every time I switch on the Christmas tree lights. Hope in the squeals of excitement, every time he rips open a Christmas card and hope in the 1,000th time he has told me “Father Kissmass come down the Chimney for pie”.

So today, on the eve of Christmas, I’m embracing that hope. To all of you who have suffered loss and are surrounded by darkness and despair today, I’m sending you peace and I’m sending you some of my hope.

I am with you.

You are not alone.

HOPE

Written by Gabriel & Elijahs mummy.

Hello Hope
You went awhile
Now you’re back
With a promised smile
I abandoned you
Gave up for dead
Washed away
With the tears I shed
I’ve lived despair
so time to stay
surround me Hope
each and every day

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Toddler

I’m writing this post while I can still get away with calling Gabey a toddler. In a few weeks he turns 3, officially becomes a pre-schooler and we enter a new phase.

To be honest, I was expecting this “new phase” to be a lot easier.

Everyone talks about the “terrible twos”. Ummmm…excuse me…NO-ONE told me there was a phase called “bloody minded threes”!

Let me explain.

At this very moment, my Teenage Mutant Ninja Toddler is fast asleep in my bed. Not his own bed. Oh no. My bed. Sigh. As his determination to get his own way increases, it seems my ability to be firm decreases. It’s like living with a tiny teenager who has ninja powers of determination.

A typical battle of wills goes like this….

Ninja toddler “I want naanaa milk”. “I’m not buying banana milk Gabey. You don’t like it and you won’t drink it”.

Cue first Ninja toddler power…the Power of Ignore

ninja

I can’t hear you

“Why don’t you have normal milk. You like that”

Cue second Ninja toddler power…the Power of Drama

ninja2

Mr Shakespearean Actor

The floor drama is normally accompanied by a low moaning “naanaa milk, naanaa milk”. If I give up at that point, we normally avoid the third Ninja toddler power, the Power of Embarrassment..

“I WANT NAANAA MILK NOW!!!”

The Power of Embarrassment is his most dangerous Ninja power and it’s the one that tends to tip the balance in his favour. Someone once said to me “they didn’t come with an instruction manual”.

Damn.

I guess I’m going to have to toughen up quickly and develop some super anti-Ninja powers. Either that or send him in for some auditions at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

and the result of the naanaa milk battle…

ninja3Yep, you’ve guessed it. He’s drinking normal milk and the glass on the left is the abandoned banana milk. He doesn’t like the naanaa milk because “it’s smelly mummy. Yukk”.

Cowabunga.

The True Magic of Christmas

Christmas is a tricky time when you’ve lost a loved one.

I’ve been dreading it.

Celebrating a birth, buying presents for other peoples babies, seeing newborns dressed up as cute reindeers…to be honest, I would rather be hiding in a hole this year! A friend of mine, who lost her baby, spent the first Christmas in isolation with the curtains closed. Isolation sounds perfect to me but I have a very excited little boy who can’t wait for Father Christmas to come down the chimney.

I’ve been avoiding talking about Christmas with him or making any plans, but it’s getting impossible to avoid, as he now comes home from playgroup very excited about painting Christmas pictures and singing carols.

He is loving the idea of Christmas while his Mummy would like Christmas to bog off please.

Then, yesterday, purely by accident, I rediscovered the magic of Christmas.

Gabey decided to throw a massive tantrum, after I opened the door for him to climb into his car seat. To an almost 3 year old, this is obviously a terrible, unforgiveable crime as he “WANT DO MYSELF MUMMY”. I tried explaining that some people pay a lot of money to other people, just for this very privilege. That didn’t work. The screaming and leg kicking and shouting just kept increasing in volume, until I’m pretty sure they could hear him on the International Space Station.

Finally, in despair, while other parents held their hands over their perfect childrens delicate little ears, I shouted back “Enough Gabey. If you don’t stop shouting right now, then Mummy is going to write a letter to Father Christmas and tell him not to bring Christmas presents because you’ve been naughty”.

Silence.

Absolute silence for the whole drive home.

So, while I’m obviously not going to be winning “Mum of the Year” anytime soon, I would just like to say thank you Christmas. For the first time in my life, I now understand the true nature of this blessed holiday season.

Tantrum control.

It’s like I’ve been let into the best kept parenting secret ever.

I truly, truly love you Christmas.

 

Sweet child of mine

Earlier today, my almost 3 year old, switched off the game he was playing on the iPad to help me load the washing machine.

I know.

I was shocked too, but he seems to be turning into the most considerate toddler I’ve ever met and I have NO idea where he gets it from.

Today, he has helped me with the washing, helped me make the beds, vacuumed the rug, cleaned a stain off the floorboards with baby wipes, helped to load the dishwasher and cleaned the coffee table. We had friends over for lunch and he picked up our rubbish and took it to the bin, without being asked!

It’s impossible to play Hungry Hippos with him. He takes balls from the winning Hippo and gives them to the other Hippos. He doesn’t like to see a Hippo go hungry.

There are never Hungry Hippos in our house

You’re probably thinking “So what Nicky? Sounds like you’ve got him well trained to me”.

Well, yes, but I worry about him.

How do I tell such a sweet little soul that his baby brother is never coming home?

We were looking at photos today. In particular, this one…

Me, Gabey & Elijah

Gabey pointed at my tummy and said “Mummys baby”, then at himself “Gabeys baby” and then “Daddys baby”. I told him he was right. Then I tried to explain to him gently that Elijah used to be in Mummys tummy, that he came out but then he died and couldn’t come home to live with us.

I’m not sure he understood.

How does a little boy understand such a thing when I don’t understand it myself. To be honest, he shouldn’t have to. He should be asking questions about Father Christmas and “when is it MY birthday mummy” not this.

Not this.

The one thing I do know, is that I don’t want this terrible, tragic event to ruin his childhood. How can it not though? This is a boy who brings Mummy tissues, when she’s sobbing her heart out, everytime a newborn baby appears on the TV. This is a boy living with a grieving Mother who finds it difficult to even breathe sometimes. This is a boy who has to spend the rest of his life without his little brother and my heart breaks for him.

He deserves so much better than that and I wish, with every breath in my body, that I could give it to him.

I’m so, so sorry my sweet, sweet child, that all of this is on your tiny, little shoulders. I read this quote today and it’s what I want you to know…

“Everyday may not be good but there’s something good in everyday and that something is you”.

Always you.