Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Accept and build.

Here I am, staring into space with that zombified, morning look on my face. I stare at my laptop. What am I going to write today? I am sat on the train going to work, plugged into my podcast, one bircher muesli down and reluctantly swigging from a berry smoothie as I didn’t have time to get a coffee. The world is a slower, darker place if caffeine has not been ingested by 8:10am. Let’s just say, that sleep is not plentiful at the moment. We have entered into the magical world of monsters. A good old fashioned nightmare, teamed with constipation and you have one heck of a night. Two nights ago I admitted defeat and got up to make a cup of tea at 4:30. Little one then wanted milk so the day started until the little bugger decided, that yes, she was actually tired and spread eagled in our bed until 8. Other reasons for waking have been as follows:
1.Duvet has been kicked off during nightmare/ mad moment. Duvet needs to be replaced by Mummy and hand must be held.
2. Cold because of lack of duvet.
3. Husband has gone to bed late and put bathroom light on which starts the sodding fan which sounds like a Boeing 747 taking off.
4.Trapped wind
5.Lost muzzie
6. Trouser leg of pyjama has ridden up causing acute anger.
7. Just missed me.

Luckliy, compared to the sleepless nights of old, we can cope with one or two wake ups. As long as she goes back to sleep quickly and I can go back to sleep quickly, equilibrium will be achieved. Hmmm- as long as I can go back to sleep….now, that’s the problem. I am now getting back into bed and looking at the clock. Then I lie staring into the darkness. Come on. Let’s get some zzz’s. Nope. Ok then. Let’s have a quick shufty at the news. Oh Christ, some horrific terrorist attack has occurred. This will prompt more sleeplessness and lying there trying to work out how I can still go into town with my girl but avoid open spaces and the tube. I can cope with a little bit of broken sleep but if I am awake for longer than an hour, then a lot of concealer has to be applied in the morning and a lot of coffee has to be put into my system. But, it’s something that I am now used to. Also, my running is really helping. I used to be a dreadful mum after a crap night. Very emotional, unable to cope with menial tasks. Unable to think clearly. But running has been an absolute life saver. I have got myself back. My brain is clearer and more active and I can breathe deeply and walk up our hill without getting out of puff. I have even run up our hill which was one of my goals when I started running again. I am well proud of myself. The only down side is that exercise makes you hungry and I don’t think the amount I am exercising warrants the amount of carbs going back in. But sod it. I feel good and my legs are coming back too. Bring it.

 I have also been continuing my odyssey of retraining/ studying/ adding strings to my small bow. I had a long chat with my Mum. One thing you need to know about my Mum is that she’s A. Awesome but B. Nearly always right. She sat me down and said, “Look, you love what you do. Why don’t you work with what you’ve got and don’t reinvent the wheel.” She’s right. I love my job. I am so lucky to do something creative, something that changes weekly, often daily. I am also the luckiest girl in the world as I get to work with my best friends. Yes, I’m, self employed. Yes, it’s not a secure profession but I’ve lived like that all of my working life and I am used to it. There are tough times, especially at the moment with childcare costs and mortgage but the childcare is worth every penny and I love our new flat and where we live. I keep telling my daughter how lucky we are. And that’s just it. It’s very easy to take things for granted and get bogged down, always looking for the next big thing, the next potential job, more money, more whatever it is. It’s a bit of an actor thing, to constantly look ahead rather than just accepting one’s lot and being truly happy with it and being happy with now. It’s taken me a long time but I am happy. I’ve got a great job, lovely family, I love being a wife and Mum and yeah, I worry about cash but everyone does. Things ain’t bad. In terms of my career, I’m going to stick with what I’m good at and enjoy and I am looking at doing an MA but not straight away. I don’t want to put pressure on myself or my family. I will do it when it suits us. Just one small hurdle: getting accepted on a ruddy course but we’ll tackle that when we the time comes. In the meantime, I have a day off, sans work, sans small person. I am typing this, I am going to put several washes on. I will spend the afternoon chasing that sodding squirrel out of our garden and I will go for a run in our beautiful local park. Oh, and I’ve got a tub of M&S mini chocolate mini rolls. Life is good.

Monday, 25 September 2017

All change please.

Thanks so much for the lovely messages of support that I received after my last post. I read it back to myself and it was a tad wingey but hey, we all gotta winge sometimes. To give you a Constipation update, well….. (drum roll)…..Poo Patrol are on a roll! We’ve nearly cracked it. Just lifting her up every time seems to be helping. Two movements in two days. Boomshackalack!
Anyway, Christ. I’m boring myself. Poor kid will be so embarrassed in years to come that I aired her problem to the world. Anyway, during this dark time we had to purchase prune juice. Now, I had forgotten just how much I love prunes. As a kid, I was first to the prunes at the hotel breakfast buffet. Only once in my life have I had my daughter’s recent affliction. I have only ever had to have Milk of Magnesia once and that was enough so I count myself lucky. Well, she had a couple of the Ella pouches but wasn’t enamoured with the juice. Our lovely childminder tried putting it in a syringe and pretending it was medicine. Old Sherlock  was one step ahead. She spat it out immediately. So, I thought I would sample the juice and see what all the fuss is about. I had one glass with lunch and got a bit of a taste for it. I had another glass and then another. 19 minutes and 21 seconds later and all hell broke loose. I couldn’t move quick enough. I had the same feeling of horror that you have when you reach into the glove compartment on a long car journey and you’ve run out of  Percy Pigs. But worse. I nearly took my foot off on the kitchen side board as I ran. The irony is that as I ran to the bathroom about to “release the kraken” ,as my poor, owled small one was having a bath. Our toilet is next to the bath. I apologised profusely and asked her desperately to “not look Mummy in the eye.” In the words of Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, “it was coming out of me like lava.” I looked at the loo roll holder. Down to half a roll. Luckily my phone was in my jeans pocket so I texted my husband,’ Bring loo roll. Had prune juice. Nuff said.’

 I’m not proud of what I’ve done and I probably haven’t sold the whole prune juice thang to my daughter but if only she would drink it. Things would be outta there like a 20 year old man in a cafĂ© full of breast feeding mothers. I mean, the hype is completely justified. Prunes clear you out and no mistake. They had the same effect on me as a Mexican (the cuisine, not a gentleman of South American origin). I was going to go for a run that night but thought better of it. I played it safe and remained in my own home, close to my bathroom. Me and my childminder thought about starting up the “Prune Cleanse”. A new diet for the yummy mummies of South West London. With results like that, we could be on to something. I’m sure I would have been a size 8 after attempting the diet if I hadn’t consumed half a packet of Oreo’s.

 Anyway, whilst my mind has been elsewhere and having to deal with the heady, glamorous world of constipation I have been taking a long, hard look at my career. I have been in acting and voice over for nearly 18 years. It has not been an easy road but in voice over I found my niche and I have been relatively successful at it. However, as with all things that involve a face, a voice or occasionally a well, worn body, there is a shelf life and after the age of 40 the work sadly starts taking a downward spiral. This isn’t immediate but in time, the work just starts to diminish. I am under no illusions that I am immune to this. I have a couple of very successful cartoons under my belt, recently been part of some great computer games but I need to future-proof myself and my career for the inevitable. But what to do? It’s the nightmare of all actors and voice artists. The realisation that you have no transferable skills and haven’t been in the real world of work for some time. I also have a complete lack of confidence in myself and my academic ability. I used to be quite bright but many of the skills I used to have ie. reading music, writing essays, reading a book and retaining the information, the use of the English language, have all faded into the ether. Can they return? I ruddy hope so.

 So, the arduous task of getting another qualification begins. I am looking at a broad spectrum. From Forest school and Primary Teaching to going back to teaching drama to little people, nursing or even starting up my own business. It’s scary stuff but I am also excited by the challenge and the potential for change. I am the only person stopping me at the moment. I have a bit of a lazy streak but I am also spurred on by my daughter. I want her to be proud of me and I want to be proud of myself. At the moment, the teaching is in poll position but I am not rushing. I am 40 next year so I don’t want to be messing around. Hopefully exciting things are on the horizon, if I don’t get in the way of myself.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Crap Mum

The last couple of weeks have been a little trying. The Chicken Pox finally got us and, even though there was a dearth of spots, my little girl felt very unwell and it’s taken a good 10 days for her to get back to full battery. We’ve had some crap nights and now the constipation has come to ahead too. Initially,I was trying to find the “brighter side” of constipation especially when my girl stopped in front of courting couples and had a good strain but it’s been going on too long now and I’ve lost my sense of humour over it. She’s now so sore around the rump that its painful for her to sit and she will only go to the loo in the bath or when she’s in bed. She is potty averse. But something’s got to give as it’s affecting the everyday and she is truly miserable because of her affliction. I’m quite emotional at the moment. A. because my girl is in pain and B. because I’ve gone back on my pill and I’m waiting for my hormones to calm the hell down.

 In days of yore I would have listened to friends with children and taken note of the trials and tribulations of everyday parenting but only half listened. That wasn’t relevant to me and surely they’re over exaggerating? Aren’t they? Surely a child not being able to go the loo is a minor problem and you just get them to eat fruit, drink water and voila. Done. The End. Oh no. How wrong I was. I thought that once all of the teeth were through that would be it. No more major probs. Sleep and plain sailing. Ha ha. We went to a BBQ with our wonderful NCT gang this weekend. My gal was running round with her friends, balloon dancing and playing kitchen. I, on the other hand was stressed out that she wasn’t eating and kept checking her nappy, nagging her to try and eat something. If my arse was red raw then I probably wouldn’t be that fussed about lunch either but I kept persisting. I irritated myself. It meant that I didn’t enjoy myself as much as I should have done and I sounded like a mother who constantly fussed and flapped around their child. Watching your child squat in the middle of a room trying to poo onto a hard floor with eyes watering whilst her friends play merrily around her is quite distressing but unless she was asking to be changed or calling for me I kinda should’ve just left her to play.

 Her sleep is broken too because of it. Last night she kept calling out for me so I just brought her into our bed. Three in a standard double is a bit of a squeeze, especially when the smallest member has the wing span of an albatross but we all snuggle quite happily. Except for last night which was unsettled to say the least. She woke up in quite a good mood. We stayed in bed to have her milk and then we got up, dressed her in favourite Paw Patrol hoody (I can not stop singing the sodding theme tune).  Anyhoo, then came the time for teeth. Well, it was a battle that was never going to be won this morning. The only winner was the toothpaste which got in her hair, my hands, my black leggings and also somehow, my hair. But the shame of it is that rather than just admitting defeat I tried to persist. And I shouted at her. I then walked away and threw the toothbrush in the sink. I then cried. Great. Well done Harriet. If you really want your daughter to get into brushing her teeth then this really is a fabulous way of putting her off for life. I felt so damn guilty that I hugged my girl and held onto her, weeping through my apology. She looked at me and said, “Mummy crying.” Yes, my sweet. Your mother has lost it and is indeed, crying like the silly cow that she is.

 I am currently on a train feeling guilty as hell. Never mind run fat bitch run but run stupid bitch run. I was going to go for a run this morning and probably should have done but felt so unbelievably terrible. I want to pick my daughter up, bunk off work and run away to Peppa Pig World to say sorry. (Actually, anywhere but there. That’s a shit idea.) Anyway, I have treated myself to a Pret Smoked Salmon sandwich, not that I deserve it and I am trying to take stock. The poor kid has a sore arse, had had a crap night’s sleep and has a cold as she refused to wear her coat in the park yesterday. Give the little one a break dag nammit!

I feel like the crappest mother on the planet today and worry that my emotional outbursts, of which there have been a couple this week, will have a lasting impact. I never thought that I would cry so much over a sore bum and a child with trapped wind. It’s emotional stuff. Who knew? But when you have a small one, you don’t want them to be in pain, uncomfortable or sad and I know that she’s been all three over the course of the past couple of weeks. Poor thing. When I get home tonight she is going to get the biggest hug and a copy of the latest Peppa Pig Magazine. Crap Mum? More like Crap and Guilt ridden Mum. They may be small but they have a huge impact on our lives. I didn’t know I could love anything that much. They’re pretty amazing aren’t they?

Friday, 1 September 2017

The Devil wears toothpaste.

Tis morning. The sunlight peeks through the blinds and I hear the faint birdsong underneath the sounds of the Heathrow flightpath. I look at the monitor. All is still. I look at the clock. 7am. I turn over and snatch another couple of peaceful minutes under the duvet. I drift off back to sleep. Then, suddenly the bars of the monitor start to judder. “Peppa Pig World. Dinosaur. Dinosaur too angry.” These are the morning utterances of my offspring. Peppa Pig World was a big hit. (With her, not me. I am still in recovery. The glockenspeil playing in the background and the bright colours give it a tinge of ‘The Shining’. I left there traumatised. Plus, spending over a hundred quid to queue for 35 mins to go on a ride that is as fast the London Eye urks one’s gizzard.) Then suddenly she shouts at the top of her lungs, “Mummy!”. Up gets Daddy and brings a small person in ladybird pyjamas, who has recently been visted by the hair fairy into our room. She is deposited in the big bed for a bottle of milk and a morning snuggle. After this scene of serenity the day must begin and boy, does it start with a bang. First, you have to get clothes on them. When they’re babies and can’t move, life is simple. Nappy, babygro or whatever is clean. Et voila. Then they start to walk, talk and get opinions. It’s really irritating. My daughter has taken to having a say in what she wears. If I don’t comply then she grows horns, her eyes turn red and she starts frothing at the mouth. I never knew that wearing the wrong colour trousers could provoke such wrath in one so young. Sometimes I wrestle her into clothes, with her moving off the mat or trying to run out of her bedroom door. But, other mornings it’s all good. Fine. No arguments. Just put on the mouse trousers and be done with it.

The dressing of the toddler is just the start however. Then one has to brush their teeth. I’m relatively strong and have until recently been the main brusher. But of late, things have taken a turn. If you wanted to get on with breakfast, get out of the house or get to work on time then I’ve got news for you. This is war and it’s a war I am willing to fight.The war of the teeth. I have had sleepless nights and sore nips becuase of those buggers and we ain’t losing them.
I cover myself in protective armour: a white Egyptian cotton towel. My weapon of choice is an AK- Sainsbury’s dinosaur toothbrush. Standard issue. My amo is Sainsbury’s Kids toothpaste. Mild Mint. (Any other variety has been banned under toddler UN sanctions. I enter the battle ground, code name Lion’s den at 0800 hours. The battle is tough. There is wrestling, flailing arms and much aggressive movement from the enemy. The jaws are sharp and there is risk of finger loss or at worse, a whole hand. I look down. My towel has been compromised and my black jersey top has been placed in danger, right in the line of fire. I stand on the front line, the enemy frothing at the mouth. The enemy is now trying to combat roll out of the situation and I go to grab them but it’s too late. Mouth and Jersey top are face to face. The battle is lost. The war is over until the next time. The Jersey top is covered in Shrapnel.

 By the time I have to go to work, I am exhausted. I usually drop the small one off at childcare, covered in toothpaste: her face and my clothing. On occasion she looks like she’s a decorator, off to paint someone’s living room. Once I am on the train, I look down and see the trail of Mild Mint, 0-2 years covering my person. The Health Visitor said to brush for 2 and half minutes at the 27 month review. 2 and a half minutes! My husband tried that and nearly lost an arm. It’s dangerous stuff. In the evenings we try brushing in the bath. It usually works a lot better as there are distractions but sometimes she moves around the tub like Shamu and we can’t catch her. The thing is, everyone has worked towards those teeth with a hellish two years of teething so we are ruddy well going to look after them. Fall out they shall not.

 So, last week as I typed, all was calm and I had a glass of red to hand and Fleetwood Mac: Greatest Hits (of which there are many, I might add) was a playin in the garden room. The scene is oh, so very different this evening. I am in bed with a hot Ribena and a throat that’s on fire. I have bed socks on as I am shivering. I have tonsillitis. This affliction on its own is bad enough but my girl is also ill. With Chicken Pox. It’s been a fun filled couple of days. My dear Mum has been an absolute ruddy star and dropped everything to look after her Granddaughter for two days. On day one I returned home early from work. The good stuff had been saved up for Mummy. She really has quite a scream on her even when she’s feeling like utter shit. We had to get out of the house so we attempted a walk in the park. It was a hell of a lot hotter than my weather app had said so once small person had been in peaceful slumber for about half an hour we decided to take off her shoes so she didn’t get too hot. Well, knock me down with a feather. That was a crap idea. She had a tantrum to end all tantrums. She tried to get out of the back of her pram and as her face was crushed against the netting I was reminded of scenes from The Exorcist. I think the lesson here is to let sleeping toddlers lie. Don’t take their shoes off as a gesture of good will. Nay. Keep them on and let them sweat. And as for brushing for two and half minutes? Well, if you can do that then you are truly a brave warrior.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017


Over the past few weeks I have been stuck in a world of poo. I have a 2 year old that is ready to be potty trained if only she would sit on the damn thing. We have three potties: one that is like a throne adorned with Finding Dory stickers, a travel potty in pink which also doubles up as a child’s toilet seat and a bog standard *(‘scuse the pun) one from John Lewis. She won’t sit on any of the buggers. Correction. She will sit on them but not perform in or on them. We tried a bit of ‘no pants on’ action before bath time. She sat on the potty out in the garden. I was lulled into a false sense of “potty training- this shit is easy”. And then she got up and crapped all over the decking about a meter away from said potty. It was a watering can job to get it out of the grooves. She’d had sweetcorn that night.

 Since we got back from holiday we have entered a whole new dimension. Constipation. She is aware of her bowel movements and is hanging on a bit too long. We have had a couple of really tough days when she’s been so “owled” as my mother calls it: a phrase that beautifully describes the complaint. When one needs to go, one has a certain look about one. You know, wide eyed and well, owled. And she can’t sleep and spends all day straining and in a right old ratty arsed mood. It’s been really horrible. She has taken to squatting and hitting the deck and flapping her arms, shouting out “no, no, poo, poo, happening.” She starts straining and goes red faced and watery eyed. It’s quite something to behold. Now, this can happen anywhere. In the middle of a path in a National Trust property. In the street, in a car park, in Peppa Pig World in the queue for Miss Rabbit’s helicopter… I mean, it can be awkward. Also, when we’ve had faecal success she is so happy that she wants to tell everyone. On the way home from Peppa Pig World, we had to stop at a Harvester. I had never been to a Harvester. I’ve patronised a Beefeater and a Berni Inn but never a Harvester with their infamous free Salad bar. My relieved little girl emerged from the ladies and told the whole restaurant that she’d done a “big poo”. And then kept repeating it. The chap on the table next to us who’d ordered the mixed grill wasn’t overly chuffed, I can tell you.

 You see, decorum and discretion have gone out of the window. I’ve turned into one of those parents who will wipe a pooey bum in public. I’ve done it at the station, in car parks, in Royal parks and in a family members garden. When you gotta wipe ya gotta wipe. I find myself asking “Do you need a poo poo?” quite a lot. And it’s always in “that” tone. You know the one. It’s ever so patronising and has an upward inflection at the end. What the hell has happened to me? I got so emotional about my daughter’s constipation that I not only cried in public but it was in a Harvester. A ruddy Harvester for pity’s sake. My little one looked at me and said “It’s ok, Mummy.” And presently wiped my tears with a Harvester paper knapkin. I mean, we’ve reached a low. It’s not ok.

 I am obsessed with it. Poor child is being followed by a desperate parent, constantly enquiring about her bowel movements. I need to get a grip. When she’s been, I think about it on the way to work and actually feel relieved on her behalf. I never realised that constipation could be so all consuming. Reading this back , I actually sound certifiable. Thank God I’ve got some major weight loss to occupy me instead. I have started running again and I also took the decision to come off the pill and try something else. Within a week and half I have put on over half a stone. I feel heavy, have boobs round my ankles and I’m ready to snap at a moments notice. I’m wearing all my fat girl clothes which consist of a lot of Jersey separates in a dark palate. So, today I started back on it. I can not be arsed with the weaning off process. Back on the mini pill I go. No periods, no tampax, no mess, no libido. Job done.

The running is going well so every cloud. Starting off with 20/25mins, two or three times a week. I’ve bought a book entitled, Run Fat Bitch Run. And this fat bitch is running. I run at dusk along with all the other fat bitches and wear all black. My ipod is packed with banging toons which I ratchet up the volume so as not to hear my laboured breathing. And I feel good. Really good. I am currently curled up in our garden room, having run in the park avoiding deer and I am typing with a glass of Portuguese red to hand, listening to Fleetwood Mac. I didn’t get the commercial I was pencilled for today but I did play a Shocked Cow and a squirrel in a computer game. Oh, and the small one is asleep and has done two big poos. Life. Is. Good.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The Curious incident of the dog in Padstow.

The Curious incident of the Dog in Padstow.

I'm back. After a 3 weeks leave of absence I'm back in the blogosphere, coming at ya with average to middling tales of parenting wins and losses. Cornwall was ruddy awesome. By jingo, by crikey we needed that holiday. A week by the sea, fresh air, good food and the happiest toddler you ever did see. Pure bliss.
Then you have to come home. A car full of sand, shed loads of washing and life. We came back to my Grandad's funeral. My Mum did an amazing job and gave him the dignified send off he deserved. 
 We also had to put up a shed (still married after that), go to the tip and I had to go back to work. I love my job but I have an unwritten rule that, ‘Thou shalt never work he day after a holiday.’ But, being self employed and a little cash strapped after holiday I took the work. I worked most of that week with los of travel thrown in too. By the time the weekend came round I was comatosed. 

 Now, we three had actually slept on holibobs. A heady mixture of a buggered routine, the odd late night, she's loads of exercise and lung fulls of Cornish sea air meant our little girl slept. All frickin night, almost every night. It was SHamazing!! Then we came home, she got constipation and she had to go back into a routine. Mummy also went back to work. The sleep went out the window for a week. It was the shittest week of sleep we've had in a while. However, now she's had a poo and she's back in the swing of things he sleeping has started up again. It's really good isn’t it? 
The holiday was rally fab but it threw up some new challenges. My gal is a year older. She's bigger, bolder, with new opinions. Strong ones. With this new found voice come tantrums. Big ones. Let me set the scene: 
The sun is shining in a cloudless blue sky over Padstow. There is enough blue sky to make a sailor a pair of trousers. Seagulls are calling to each other across the harbour. We'd managed to get a parking space and Mummy had found a place to get a flat white. All was calm. We'd also got a table at Rick Stein’s cafe . This was the idyllic scene suddenly shattered because……
Hell broke lose. It took two parents with some smooth WWF moves (wrestling not the organisation with the panda) to get our beloved strapped in whilst she was screaming and frothing at the mouth. This was the Paddy in Padstow. 
I did the honourable thing and ran away shouting” You're not mine. You're not mine.”, whilst my husband (sporting a pink short. Strong look) pushed our daughter through the bustling streets of Padstow. One man said, “I’d be screaming if my Dad was wearing pink shorts”. Then we were stopped by two well- meaning ladies win two well-meaning small dogs. I cheated to the older one (the lady not the dog). She did lots of sympathetic nodding and said “it's difficult isn't it when they can't express themselves.”

I think she’d expressed herself quite clearly to the good people do Padstow, leaving them under no illusions that she had been placed in her stroller against her will. The other lady chatted to my pink beshorted husband. Next thing I know, my little one has a a small dog on her lap. The shock of it made her stop howling because the dogs claws were digging into her leg. The well-meaning lady looked at her and said, “My son has autism too and he finds the dog a very calming influence.” 
I didn't know where to look. I didn't know whether to be grateful, horrified or offended. Instead we both got the giggles moved away apace. I mean she has a penchant for citrus fruit and likes to wrap them up in a flannel and pretend their a baby but…
Hey, I'll keep an eye. (Wink wink emoji). 

 So, now we're back I am on operation “Remove Mum bum and tum”. Seen the photographic evidence of me in shorts and the evidence is conclusive, filter or no. I need to start exercising again. The Weight Watchers subscription has been paid for, the Couch to 5k app installed and the scales dusted off. I'm ready to go. Well, I was suppose to start last night but small had constipation again so was up most of the night but tonight is the night. Lycra and a shall be donned. I will keep you abreast of my journey. I'm going to need a lot encouragement and rocket up my arse but I am determined. FIRM BUMS NOT CREAM BUNS!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017


When you have children your world changes. For the better, I might add. They enrich your life and fill it with moments and adventures that you never imagined. Your days are full. There is a routine and, especially when they are very small, their needs are great. It is all consuming but I personally, wouldn’t change it for the world.
 Then suddenly, something happens in your life. A house sale, a house sale falling through or in my case, sickness and a death in the family. Suddenly, you have to fit this routine into an alien situation. I first experienced it when my dear Dad became terminally ill. We were told that there was nothing more that could be done. He was gone within 3 weeks. We dropped everything: the viewings of our flat had to go on hold, work cancelled, all of the baby stuff we had hidden in our car for viewings was dumped in our hallway. With our 8 month old baby in tow, we literally filled bags with stuff and ran out of the door. I, in the end moved up to my Dad’s in Derbyshire for 3 weeks. My husband had to go back to work during this time so I was left to look after my girl and be there for my Dad on my own. I found it very difficult to spend enough time with him as my baby needed me. I was still breastfeeding at the time. She was amazing. I couldn’t have got through it without her. That smile and that giggle got us through and was a comfort to us all.

 We were all with my Dad when he died. It was lovely having such new life in a room full of sadness and grief. Dad passed away at 6:30pm. I realised that I had to get on and do bath and bed. So, life started up again. When she was asleep, I rang the funeral directors and had a good cry. Needless to say, my daughter didn’t stay asleep so she was there when Dad was taken away. I bid him adieu with my little girl in my arms.

Fast forward nearly 18 months and we are going through a similar situation but with my Grandad. At 97, he is dying of Prostate Cancer and a piece of Shrapnel from the 2nd World War, has shifted and ulcerated his leg. It really is very cruel. We have watched him deteriorate and it all came to a head last week. Only this time, my daughter is 2. She walks, talks, needs proper meals and one decent sleep during the day. She is also becoming increasingly emotionally aware so one is a little more hesitant about taking her into certain situations. Luckily, Grandad was placed in a hospice. A wonderful place of peace and tranquility, with truly amazing nursing staff who not only care for him but the family around him. I only wish that we had had this for my Dad. Mum rang me on Monday and said that I should see Grandad sooner rather than later as his condition had deteriorated somewhat. We decided to go yesterday, and take our daughter. All three of us went. We got to say goodbye even though he was semi conscious, and spent precious time with him. We set up camp in the family room and spent the day there going in and out of his ward and looking out for Spike the cat who sleeps on the patient’s beds. My daughter was very taken with Spike.

 I didn’t really think about where I was taking her. It seemed wholly appropriate. And she was brilliant. As my husband said, “She made a lot of people smile today.” In a place of sadness, a place where people go for respite, where people go to die, a little girl in a navy party dress and party shoes (her choice), collecting snail’s shells and pebbles brought a little bit of sunshine to many. I can not thank the staff at St. Catherine’s Hospice, Crawley enough for the care that they have provided for my Grandad. Somehow he is still battling but he should be at peace either tonight or if there is someone looking down on him, even as I write this I hope he has been released from his anguish. Cancer is a long, drawn out and painful death even with the best palliative care. The nursing staff carry out their duties with such professionalism and dignity. I honestly don’t know how they do it.

 I have said my goodbyes. I shall not see my Grandad again. It was terribly sad. I sat there holding his hand thinking, ’What a life.’ This is a man that fought in the second world war, survived two injuries and the two year journey to get back to the UK. He survived three nights lying on the slopes of Monte Casino, having been shot in the leg. He lay there, able to hear the German line. He shouted out “Hilfe”, “Help!” in German, which he had learnt at school and this saved his life. They took him into their medical tent, patched him up and took him to an Italian hospital. The theatre of war is a very different place and I very much doubt that such humanity would prevail amongst enemies nowadays.
I know that my Grandfather will leave this world having lived life. He has seen it at its worst but he has also experienced some wonderful things and seen its beauty. Wherever he ends up in the next chapter, I know that he will truly be at peace. The world will have lost a true gentleman. I was privileged to have known him and my daughter was so lucky to have had a Great Grandad. In the words of Mr. Shakespeare,

‘He was a man, take him for all in all. I shall not look upon his like again.’

Accept and build.

Here I am, staring into space with that zombified, morning look on my face. I stare at my laptop. What am I going to write today? I am sat ...