Sunday, 29 July 2018

I run therefore I am (out of breath !)

This morning I opened the curtains a little bit in our bedroom to check the weather outside. The flat roof was wet with rain. Rats ! My training plan said to do a 35 minute easy run today. It's been so hot and sunny I've been going out early in the morning to avoid the hottest temperatures. Today, however, I kept waiting for it to stop raining. We took the boys swimming and had an indoor picnic with some friends from Blue Bear's nursery class. I kept checking outside if the rain had stopped. It hadn't. In the end Hubbie said, "it's going to stop later." I think he just wanted me to go out as I'd been in a foul mood all day. As soon as I was outside I felt better. This training lark isn't so bad. To be honest the half marathon I'm training for is in the middle of October so the chances of it raining are pretty high. If I can get used to running in the wet weather it may well work in my favour.

So I'm a month into my training plan and what can I tell you ? Bear in mind I'm no athlete, but I have some tips I can share.

1. Remember what motivates you. 

In January I lost a great friend and it was a shock and it hurt like hell. I had to do something to remember her and to make sense of the loss. I cut off my hair and donated it to Little Princess Trust to make wigs for children living with hair loss from cancer. People were amazing in sponsoring me to do it and the money went to Macmillan Cancer support. I also decided to run a half marathon to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. It was one of the things I felt I could do. In the futility of grief and loss it was something at least. On days like today when it's easier to stay indoors in the dry I remember why I'm doing this and I put on my trainers and get out there.

2. Have a 'beginner's mind.'

In yoga we use the phrase 'beginner's mind' to remind ourselves to practice with humility and with certainty that we don't know everything. It does us good to go back to the time before we knew what we were doing and to experience things as if for the first time. I am not new to running, by any means, but I am new to a half marathon and for me this a genuine challenge. I am pushing myself to do this and I am finding as I age it's more difficult to do the things that were easier before. The training plan I am following is a beginners' plan. I have no pride in taking it slowly. Which brings me to...

3. Take it nice and easy.

Years ago I listened to an interview on Radio 4 about running. In it the expert said that the best advice was to take it slowly. I have always remembered this when I've taken up running again. It's easy to go too fast to start with and end up with a stitch. I may not be the fastest, but I keep going. That's all I'm aiming for. I always remember that however far I've run I still have to get home, that reminds me to pace myself. It's not like going to the gym and running on a treadmill - which I've enjoyed doing in the past. I used to plug in headphones and watch a TV show. It made the time pass. Now I try and find different routes and times of day to keep things fresh.

4. Always take the weather with you.

I've run in most weather conditions. Once when I was staying in Brighton I went out running in high winds and it was bitter cold. The sea foam kept blowing onto my bare arms and stinging. I got back from that run breathless, pink in the cheeks and on a endorphin high you wouldn't believe. Over the winter months I was running with a thermal layer on and a hat to keep my head from getting cold. I've been running in the hot weather these last few weeks and it's tough, but also really wonderful to feel the warmth of the sun on my face as I run and the lightest breeze makes all the difference. This evening I went out in the rain. A light smattering at first then later full on with rain dripping off my hair into my eyes. It was wonderful. Embrace whatever the weather brings and see how it feels. There is no right or wrong, there's just getting out there and doing it.

5. The post run high rocks ! 

However crap I feel before I go for a run I always feel better afterwards. No not better, I feel amazing. I have to exercise. It's not optional for me. Firstly there's a lot of medical stuff in my family (diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc.) so I exercise to stave off any chance of it happening to me. Secondly, it's a way to keep myself stable. Just like I run the kids around to let off steam I have to do the same for myself. If I don't I get tense and it builds up into anxiety/stress. Running is a quick fix. Lastly it's easy to just put on training shoes and go outside and run. I used to feel really self-conscious about going outside to run. I worried about what other people thought and how I looked. Now I look at the scenery, imagine the playlist in my head. I never wear headphones when I'm running. I want to be fully aware at all times. I want to take it all in. I greet dogs that are walking and say hello to other runners. It's no big thing.

I'm not going to win any medals, but that's ok. This is about a mother of two who is almost 50 pushing myself to do more than I think I can. It's also about having something to aim for. Of course if it also means I get to fit into a smaller size then that's a bonus isn't it ?

I'm raising money for Macmillan - if you can sponsor me that would be fab - the link to my fundraising page is here:

Monday, 23 July 2018

Rhapsody on Blue

Last week the boys were at summer camp. The manager told me one afternoon when I picked them up that every day Blue Bear warmed their hearts with his big smile and enthusiasm. They would always get into the car chattering away about their day then within minutes of getting indoors they would argue, someone would cry (usually Brown Bear, sometimes Blue Bear and on the worst occasions me) and it was a race against time to get food on the table before the apocalypse occured. I remember the first Summer holiday after Blue came to live with us. I was at home so couldn't justify sending them to camp. Instead I tried to keep them both occupied and more importantly apart. We booked our usual week in Cornwall and stayed at Coombe Mill where the boys fed the animals every morning and rode on the mini train every afternoon. It was in Cornwall that we discovered Blue Bear's love of animals, especially dogs. On subsequent visits he would bottle feed a goat and hold a carrot for a donkey to eat.

A lot of momentous events have occured when we've been in Cornwall. It was when we stayed at Coombe Mill for Christmas that we received an email from the social worker with a photo of a blue eyed little boy and a bit of information about him. I spoke to Hubbie and then showed Brown Bear and he asked, "who is that ?" I told him and asked if he wanted to be his brother. "Yes, he looks like me doesn't he ?" "He does baby." We had no idea that the next day we would receive an email saying he was no longer an option and to forget about him. I couldn't forget this little boy though. His beautiful face. That serious expression. I didn't want to forget about him.

Thankfully I didn't have to and during the Easter holidays he came to live with us. We took him on his first holiday to Cornwall the following July. He was nervous about the other children and kept close holding mine or Daddy's hand. He loved feeding the animals, but didn't want to drive the tractor. Where Brown Bear would make friends and go off to do his own thing, Blue would stay close to us and didn't want to stray too far from our sides.

This afternoon I watched as Brown Bear showed Blue Bear how to push the pedals on the electric bikes to make them go. With the payment tokens put in they both went round the track carefully and accurately. Brown waited for his brother so they could ride round together and it was so sweet. We have seen so many milestones on these annual visits and this week is no exception. I've seen a confidence and a cheekiness that is heartwarming. This afternoon the boys were in the back of the car chattering away and - for a change - not arguing. I quietly commented to Hubbie that it was lovely. We spoke too soon - of course - as within seconds Blue was screaming because Brown was prodding him.

A few days earlier we had all gone to the beach and friends had taken body boards. Brown Bear had a surfing lesson two years ago with me and loved it. This time we figured that some fun splashing around in the shallow end would suffice. When I went over to see how they were getting on Blue Bear was having great fun and trying the board. The same little boy who was scared of the water and wouldn't go into the sea the first time we came to the beach. I watched him do so many things that day and noticed how brave he has become. Some of this is because Brown Bear is fearless and competitive and Blue Bear wants to be just like his brother. In no small part, though, it's because he knows it is safe to take risks and we will be there for him. He trusts us.

The other day the boys were staying with family members while me and Hubbie had a weekend away together. I phoned Blue Bear to see how he was doing and was taken aback at how chatty he was. He explained that he'd been painting with Grandma, watered the plants and that Missy (the cat) had even hung around - she usually runs off. He had chicken dippers for tea and was going to have an ice cream for pudding. Once he'd given me the full report he announced, "I going now, bye Mummy." This is the little boy who barely spoke and now he's holding conversations with me.

We were sitting at the table yesterday eating lunch and Brown Bear had gone to get something and Daddy had gone to the car. I smoothed Blue Bear's head and kissed him softly. He smiled. I did it again. He leaned into me a bit more. I laughed and kept giving him gentle kisses on his face.
"Mummy when you kiss me I stop eating."
"Am I putting you off ?"
"Keep doing it."
We both laughed. Brown Bear came back and asked what was so funny. Blue Bear finished his chips and we walked back to the car to join Daddy.

At one point today Brown Bear came over to hug me - Blue Bear went to hug him. Hubbie picked up his phone and managed to capture the moment. When I looked at the photo I saw my gorgeous boys and the smile of love and happiness on my face. As I told a friend of mine later, this is all I ever wanted from parenthood. Children with ice cream all over their faces and huge smiles. Ok, it's not often, but just sometimes it's plenty.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The best things in life are music and kissing

Music is a big part of my life. It always has been. From the first time I heard Jesus and Mary Chain and knew that there was music for me in the world - not just the insipid pop that my contemporaries enjoyed - I was hooked. It was about so much more than just the music for me - it was the words, the artist and the fashion. I've often mentioned my love of Debbie Harry, Chrissie Hynde and Kim Gordon - beautiful women and powerful singers. I always wanted to be as amazing as they appeared to me and the fact that they are still going strong is so inspiring. It was also a valuable life lesson to have the self confidence they must have had to make such an impact in an industry that traditionally favoured men.

In the eighties Patsy Kensit was the pretty girl at the front of the band, but she was still iconic. Wendy James, however screeched like a banshee, looked hot as hell and had a punk attitude. The sentiment of this song spoke to me - even though I hadn't even been in love at this point. The idea of being with someone just for what he would spend on you seemed ridiculous to me so I love this. I remember when one of the girls in school told me how much money her boyfriend had in his bank account.  I couldn't understand why it mattered to her. All that I cared about was if a boy was a good kisser. In fact that's always been the thing that takes my breath away - a kiss to make my heart skip a beat.

Of course later on when I'd had my heart broken a few times I also discovered the women with big voices and a no nonsense attitude towards their men. Etta James' voice raised my heart rate and the brazeness of the lyrics here embarrassed me beyond belief. Even at my most confident I don't think I could express myself this honestly. It's just as well she did on my behalf. I loved that there was music out there for women who owned their sexuality and weren't afraid to say what they wanted. Let's be honest if a woman like Etta sings this to you are you going to say no ?

In my first serious relationship - and subsequent marriage - my partner would spend a lot of money on gifts. I found it a bit overwhelming as I didn't feel deserving of such generosity. It also went against my upbringing of saving money and being careful with spending. Don't get me wrong I love gifts and really enjoy spoiling others. More often than not that will be something I know they would appreciate or they mentioned it once and I remembered. However, when it comes to me I would rather spend time with someone I love than have money or gifts. Don't get me wrong I am always grateful for kindness, it's just the cost isn't necessary. The best presents for me involve music - a gig I really want to go to or an evening in good company. It's pretty simple really.

The best thing about music is how it makes me feel. If I'm down I listen to the music that fits my mood. Ok that is wallowing, but it's also allowing me to feel the emotion and often I find a way through the heartache or loss through music. Whenever I was dealing with a break up I'd always turn to certain songs that suddenly had deep meaning for me - how did they know how it felt to be me ? Just as falling out of love is a mainstay of music there are the songs about being in love - that beginning bit where it's all wonderful and you can't wait to see each other. When every touch is like a surge of electricity just thinking about that special someone inspire feelings of love - and lets be honest lust ! It was Prince's stock in trade to create sensuous music and some of the lyrics left very little to the imagination. While it's one of the best known I still think Kiss typifies how wonderful it can be to just lock lips with someone and be lost in the moment.

I'm always going on about the movies I love and music is a major factor is what appeals to me about a film. One of my favourites is a romantic comedy which features a lot of soppy songs and I love them all. The story of two people meeting, having a magical connection and losing touch for years before finally finding each other again tugs at my heart strings. Every time I watch Serendipity I think John Cusack will get out at the right floor and meet Kate Beckinsale and they will save themselves the torturous journey to find each other again. Every time. The music is perfect with the divine voices of Annie Lennox and Nick Drake adding beauty to the simple story. However, it's this song by Shawn Colvin that completes it for me.

If I didn't have music would I be able to express myself - probably. Would it be the same as crafting a mix tape or a CD for someone - shorthand for, "here is what I feel and these words and music express it so much better than I can." Absolutely not. Sharing music with others is like a love letter. It's giving a part of myself to someone else and being vulnerable. Of course the fun and enjoyment I get from it is a bonus.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

I taught my son to make me tea - now that's what I call self care !

At the weekend me and Hubbie spent a couple of days on our own in Cornwall. We dropped off the boys with Grandma and Grandma and as we left she remarked on how surprised she was we were going so far away for just a couple of days. Yes it was a lot of driving and it was a long way, but it was entirely worth it.

Within minutes of being child-free we were joking and making each other laugh. We listened to the music we wanted to, we ate sweets without having to hide them from ears that can hear the rustle of a toffee wrapper, but not, "stop hitting your brother." I even managed to snooze for a while, made much simpler without the shrill demands from the back of the car for different tunes, a snack, a drink or a toilet stop. 

I had bought tickets for us to see Bjork at the Eden Project and we decided to make a weekend away of it. Blue Bear stayed with Grandparents and Brown Bear had a boys' weekend with Hubbie's brother. We went to a place we love and saw an amazing gig together almost 2 years to the day we did it last. Brown Bear went swimming, had Subway for lunch (which he loves), pizza for dinner and watched the World Cup games with his equally football-loving uncle. Blue Bear had his grandparents all to himself and when I called on the phone I could hardly believe how chatty he was. The weather was gorgeous, everyone got to do something they wanted to - even Grandpa who escaped to play golf - he loves his grandkids, but only for short periods of time and preferably only one at a time. 

It was a year ago that I went away to Brighton on my own and went to a show and stayed in a nice hotel. I had been looking after the boys full time for so long I was feeling resentful, tired and fed up. The room was fancy, I went shopping, had a nice dinner and went to bed in a huge double bed all by myself. I got up early to go for a run and felt amazing. I ate breakfast - which I often don't get to do - and went back to bed after a shower and watched TV. It was blissful and relaxing. 

A lot of people passed comment about my choice to be away from my kids - which was interesting as I didn't see them there when I was struggling to keep myself together. People often say the words "me-time" with a sneer, as if it's self-indulgent or somehow spoiled. I know it's not possible for everyone who needs a break to do that and I am fortunate that I can take time for myself if I want to. It's taken me years to value myself enough to do it though. For so long after we adopted Blue Bear it was difficult and emotionally overwhelming. I was trying to love and care for two boys who were in the throes of complete meltdown and I was left completely empty. I didn't want to admit that I wasn't coping as I was terrified that if I did they would take Blue Bear away from us. I'd be deemed an unfit parent - that might even affect Brown Bear. I started to believe that my incapacity was detrimental to my kids. I asked other parents at school to help me, but very few were willing or able to. I chose to be absent from taking Brown Bear to school so they wouldn't see how terrible a parent I was. As soon as Hubbie came home from work I would go out of the house to get away from the demands of my two little boys. 

Then my lovely friend Pippa advertised a Mama's retreat in Cornwall and I mentioned it to Hubbie. He said if I wanted to go he'd be happy to take care of the boys. I booked a ticket and took the car for the weekend. The long drive was wonderful. It reminded me of the days when I travelled all over the UK and delivered talks at schools and then later at Rotary meetings. I spent two days away from my boys, in a beautiful house in Cornwall with sea views and no internet. It was wonderful. I promised myself that I would take better care of myself and not let it get to the stage where I was that broken again. 

Self care can be a little thing we do every day. It might be drinking a cup of coffee on your own before anyone else wakes up. Going for a walk instead of sitting at your desk all day. Listening to music you love and singing loudly along with it (in privacy mind - don't destroy someone else's peace in order to enjoy yours). Having some nice chocolate instead of a rice cake. I take a cup of tea in a thermos mug with me in the morning. I drink it on the tram, then the train and by the time I get to work I am halfway human. It's the one I have after that which enables me to actually function. 

If I ever doubt the benefits of taking care of myself I cast my mind back to one afternoon in the summer holidays when Blue Bear first came to live with us. He was screaming at me for my attention and Brown Bear was doing the same thing. I was in the hallway with one child on the stairs who I was trying to protect from falling and the other was in the front room swinging the door which made me fear he would hurt himself on it. If I turned to help one the other would alert me to the imminent danger he was in and vice versa. It felt like I was being torn in two by these children who I love and want to protect with all my heart. The old saying about putting on your oxygen mask applies here. How on earth could I take care of my boys if I wasn't even taking care of myself ? 

When anyone makes comments about how I spend time away from my children I smile sweetly and say, "I've earned it - I've done my time." This parenting malarky isn't meant to be an endurance test. There are no prizes for suffering the most or for martyrdom. If there were I know plenty who'd compete for the trinkets. I taught Brown Bear how to make a cup of tea for Mummy at the weekend. Not pouring the boiling water you understand, but the practicalities of adding a little milk at a time and taking his time to get it right. I praised him for doing a great job and Blue Bear told me he wanted to do it next time. I explained that he is too young. 
"Mummy I'm nearly five !" 
Fair point, well made.  
Part of taking time for self care is also about knowing I've done enough to let go of the reins sometimes. After all, I'm not going to picking up boy socks my entire life am I ? 

Seriously, am I ? 

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

This is me - if you don't like it *shrugs*

Last night me and my mum went to a talk by Anita Anand about Princess Sophia Duleep Singh. I already knew she had been a suffragette and a favourite in the court of Queen Victoria, but I had no idea of her Indian pedigree. Her grandfather was Maharaja Ranjit Singh. I drew sharp intake of breath when I heard that - Mum just nodded and smiled. You don't grow up in a Punjabi household and now know who Maharaja Ranjit Singh was. He is an icon in Sikh history and was known as 'Sher e Punjab' - the lion of Punjab. The story of his heir Duleep Singh being brought to Britain and kept like an English gentleman is absolutely fascinating, but it's how Sophia came to be such a rebel that I was captivated by. A woman who was too Indian to marry an Englishman, but too English to marry an Indian. Who dedicated her life to the advancement of women. She broke the rules and didn't give a damn. She was a brown woman who had been a society darling and lived at Hampton Court Palace and sold suffragette propaganda outside the gates. She had been arrested, but much to her annoyance didn't get imprisoned.

In her later life when women had been given partial suffrage she became a nurse and tended to the Indian soldiers who were being tended at the war hospital in Brighton Pavillion. Horrified that they had been sent to fight for the British without the correct kit she made it her mission to raise money to buy them boots and coats so they wouldn't die of cold. This woman was just amazing. She was also a pain in the arse to the government and specifically to Winston Churchill. I am so in awe of her !

I like to think that the Sher part of her punjabi heritage was what made her so forthright. I should know, after all I come from feisty stock. My grandfather fought in the British Army, so he was told before partition that it was on the horizon and took his wife and 1 year old daughter (my Mum) out of Punjab for safety. It's possible that in doing so he saved all their lives. My grandmother went on to study to be a teacher while my grandfather took care of their children. She ran her own school and raised 5 children pretty much alone when she was widowed at a young age. Her energy levels were legendary, she had a wicked sense of humour and it was well known in the family that she loved ice cream. She would always say, 'give it to the children first,' be we would make sure there was plenty left for her. It meant so much to me when she met Hubbie and declared, 'he's definitely punjabi' - it was the highest possible compliment !

Then we come to my mother, a woman who while softly spoken and seemingly gentle has a core of steel. Kaur - see what I did there ? She is a licensee, used to play darts, worked full time until only a few years ago and to this day is the one person I know I can call to ask pretty much anything. "Mum how do I set my economy seven heating ?" She talked me through it over the phone. True story. Oh and did I mention that she can whistle. I mean proper fingers in the mouth ear splitting whistle. I have never had the guts to ask her in what context she learned to do this. She is in her seventies and can still do it. Mind blown !

So my point is I'm from a long line of fierce punjabi women - this is in my blood. It's my heritage and it's in my DNA. I can't be any other way. Woe betide you if you make the mistake of thinking I am a pushover. I'm not some passive indian woman - never make that mistake. Once in my days as a procurement manager I had a meeting with a salesman about a printer he wanted to sell my company. I went to the offices for the sales presentation and then we had lunch. Over nachos (or something) he said, "When I first met you I thought you were a small, quiet indian woman, then you opened your mouth." It was then I realised that being me, looking like I do comes with certain preconceptions.

Last week I went for a run at lunchtime - I'm training for a half marathon - and headed towards Bushy Park. I ran halfway across the zebra crossing and then came to a stop (still jogging on the spot) as a motorbike and cyclist came to a stop on the other half. The guy on the motorbike took out one of his earplugs and yelled. "Why you running ?" I looked at him with my head to one side, not quite understanding the question. "You're supposed to walk" and he helpfully made a walking gesture with his fingers in case I didn't understand him shouting at me. I looked at him, again said, "what ?" and he pointed at his head to indicate I was stupid so I slowly raised two fingers towards his face and said - with a smile. "Fuck you !" and ran the rest of the way. As I got to the end of the crossing the cyclist called out to me, "Don't worry, you're fine." I thanked him and carried on. As I processed my anger (and shame) through running I wondered, if I'd been a white woman would he have talked to me like that ? I bet he wouldn't. He would know bettter in case he got a mouthful of abuse. Oh well.

Today I was going to pick up the boys from school. As I got to the bottom of our road it was clear there had been an accident as traffic was building up and I decided to go back up the hill, park outside our house and walk to school so I wouldn't be late. As I turned my car round I saw a line of cars who had taken my road as a 'short cut' and were queuing on the wrong side of the road blocking my way back home. I waited for a few to pass and then inched forward to where there was a gap for the oncoming car to pull in so I could pass. He refused to move. I got angry. I shouted at him to move. He refused. I got out and said, " I have the right of way so I'm not moving." he told me to get back in my car - I guess 'like a good girl' was implied. Now his first mistake was in thinking he could talk to me like that. His second was in telling me what to do. Oh I will get back in my car. And I will sit here and wait until you decide to move. So I did. He shook his head. I smiled. We could both hear the drivers behind him getting impatient and I stood my ground - I was in the right after all. Eventually he reversed into the space - badly - and I couldn't resist shouting out, "See I knew you could do it." His reply to me is unrepeateable, mostly because I didn't stay to hear it. He tried to intimidate me and get me to move even though I was in the right - he lost. To a brown woman. Oh for shame !

Yep I was being a dickhead. I can be. And you know what I don't care. I don't have to be a good girl because it upsets someone else's narrative about me. I am done with anyone who wants me to be their idea of what an indian woman is supposed to be. If having an attitude and being angry is not what you expected from me so what ? I'm not a meek and quiet woman. For years I would beat myself up for being too outspoken. I'd try to train myself to keep my thoughts inside, to shut up and not express an opinion so as not to cause upset. It never lasted. I did this for years and I'm done with that. I am not going to apologise for who I am. Not any more.

Do you know what ? I'm pretty fucking awesome and if you don't think so then you know where the door is.*

*Yes I am angry. Very angry. I'm not really this arrogant.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

I wanna hold your hand

I woke up tired today. Right to the core of my bones tired. I was supposed to go for a run, but I knew it wasn't going to happen in the morning. I also knew that Blue Bear was in need of my care and attention today having been very unwell for the last two days. We were supposed to visit my parents today, but Hubbie had already said it probably wasn't a good idea to take Blue as he wouldn't be up to it. He was right. There I said it. It's out there in the world. Hubbie is the voice of reason when I am driven by guilt to go ahead with things even when they are not a good idea. Hubbie and Brown Bear went to visit the family and I stayed home with Blue Bear and we took the day slowly. We watched Paddington 2, painted a dinosaur (don't ask) and spent some time in the garden together. It was lovely and soothing and just what we both needed.

There are a few scenes in the movie that Blue Bear finds sad. When Paddington is sent to prison and is alone, when the Browns appear to forget about him and when he is thinking about Aunt Lucy. I asked him if he was ok and he said he was. I even managed to encourage him to eat something - two bags of popcorn and some toast seeing as you asked. There are a lot of bits that make me cry, but one in particular is when he is trapped under water and Mrs Brown can't free him. She reaches in and holds his paw. I asked Blue for a cuddle at that point. He sat back into my arms and I held him close, my eyes thick with tears.

When Blue Bear first came to us he slept in the cot right next to me in bed. He would reach his hand out to see if I was there and I would hold his hand until he fell asleep. During the night I would stay close the the cot so he would know I was there if he woke up, which he did frequently. Earlier today we dropped off Brown Bear and Hubbie at the station and on the way there Blue wasn't feeling well. Brown Bear held his brother's hand to help him feel better. It's something Hubbie has always done and I think it's lovely. If he can see someone is upset or hurt he will say, "squeeze my hand," it really helps.

When I was single the thing I missed was touch. Not in a sexual way you understand. I mean the intimacy of holding hands, or gently stroking an arm. Arms around me while I slept. All those tiny gestures that are almost unconscious. When I walk past Hubbie I always touch him (not like that you dirty monkey !) and sometimes I will ask him to stop what he's doing so we can hug. The kids are appalled of course. They also get stroked on the face or kissed on the head if I'm passing. At night I go into their rooms and kiss them and stroke their heads while they sleep. Last night Blue Bear smiled and Brown Bear slightly opened his eyes then went back to sleep. I hope that even in deep sleep the comfort is there.

As I type this Neo is lying next to me. He loves being stroked and when the boys are close enough he 'kisses' them on the head. I like to think that all the touch and closeness is filling up our tanks so that we have comfort enough to see us through the difficult days. Blue has been asking me about his early life lately. "Where did I live when I was a baby Mummy ?" "Who did I live with ?" I answer him and then we hug. That seems to be working for us both so far.