Friday, 5 May 2017

Brown Bear, Blue Bear and Neo - the three musketeers.

In my radio life I have had many conversations with varied and interesting people. Some are well known and others are not, but they all have something to say and I love to listen. It's this wish to hear other people's stories that makes the Listening Project so fascinating. I often catch it when I'm doing something else and I've heard some moving and often amusing conversations. The ones I enjoy the most are often between family members. I heard two young sisters talking about the security the felt in their foster placement, an adopted teenager talking to her father about the real meaning of family. Then there are friends or colleagues sharing stories from their past. It's a wonderful archive of everyday folk.

I have long wanted to share a record of how our family came to be. I've thought about doing this in the form of a radio play, a book, a picture book for children and podcasts. I still want to do this as I think there is a lot we can share and others can benefit from in our journey. Our mistakes, the difficulties, the successes, the challenges, the recognition that we've come a long way already.

Brother bears

In the early days it was all firefighting. I was exhausted all the time, frightened of getting it wrong and often doing just that. I spent so much time worrying about taking care of our new boy that I wasn't giving my first boy the love and attention he was used to and had received his whole life. I only realised how badly I had misjudged this when I asked my sister to talk to Brown Bear. They have a very close relationship and I knew he'd be honest with her. "I think Mummy doesn't love me any more." My heart broke. In making space for Blue Bear I was making Brown Bear feel pushed out and unloved.

Since then I have become accomplished in reading my sons' emotions and trust my instincts about how to respond to their needs. There isn't a guide book for this - I am going to be the one who produces it and shares it with those who come after us. The first step is a conversation I had with Brown Bear that was broadcast this afternoon as part of the Listening Project. I wanted to talk to him honestly and openly about how he felt about his brother coming into our family and to acknowledge how much he has done to make this successful. It's a lot to ask of a four year old child, but he has made a space in his life for this little boy who he now loves and protects with a ferocity that a tiger would envy.

The three musketeers 

The other week me and Hubbie went to a friend's leaving do in London. I saw an ex-colleague I used to work with before Brown Bear was born and she reminded me how desperately I wanted to be a mum back then. Now I have Brown Bear, Blue Bear, Neo and Hubbie and most days I forget how very lucky I am. Today I was reminded. I have listened to the conversation about half a dozen times already and I will listen to it many more times I'm sure. If you get a chance to listen do tell me what you think: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08ns2ly

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