About Me

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A first time mum at 39, trying not to let my son kill me off too soon. Busy juggling a new family, a new house and a tricky recording schedule I figured blogging would be less expensive than therapy and less embarrassing than shouting at rude and stupid people in the street/on trains/at the supermarket.

Friday, 9 August 2013

When does the crying stop?

No, not my son's crying ... my own.

I have always been a 'bit of a sensitive soul' - not that I'd ever admit it.  I managed to hide my cinema-sobbing from my hubby quite well for at least the first 3 years of our relationship and a well-timed 'scoff', poking fun at the corny romance of a film served me well on many an occasion to mask my impending tears!

Then came the hormones.  Not the pretend hormones that creep up every few weeks, I'm talking about the full-on Rambo hormones that descend in early pregnancy and disappear around...well, I'm not too sure when they disappear. At this rate I think they will be putting me in my box before they finally leave.   These Super-Hormones make it impossible for you learn any sad news without blubbing like a toddler who's had his teddy taken away. 

This week, I was privileged to attend a private screening of a new film due to be released in the Autumn.  Philomena, featuring Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.  I think I was barely 10 minutes into the film before I was silently wiping my face and chin.  This continued during regular intervals throughout the course of the film. On this occasion though, I would defy anyone not be moved by parts of this story - based on true events.  A young woman in Ireland gives birth to her illegitimate son without proper medical intervention and then has him taken away from her as a toddler so he can be 'sold' and adopted by a wealthy family.  The film tells of her 50 year silence, covering up her 'dirty little secret' until she finally has to find out what became of him.

It is a wonderful film but it's difficult to say that I enjoyed it because, in reality, it broke my heart.  The cruelty and ignorance of a bunch of nuns (don't get me started on organised religion...) and the damning of innocent young women by society makes my blood boil.  

I know that if I had watched it 3 years ago in the days Before Boychild, I would have had a little sob, but watching it now I was reduced to a snivelling wreck!  The thought of anyone taking my son away and giving me no information on his whereabouts or well-being would probably kill me.  I only have to think about the film and it brings tears to my eyes.

As a younger woman, my own mum and many others would tell me how, as a mother, you would lay down your own life for your child without a second thought.  I'll be honest, I always thought they were being slightly melodramatic.  But it's true.  I don't think there is anything I wouldn't do in order to keep Boychild safe. 

Anyway, I digress.  Even as I write this, my cousin has posted a picture on Facebook of the newly erected headstone at her sister's grave.  She died aged 34, leaving two children who are still only at primary school. I took one glance and I'm already off.  

Basically, I have to accept that I will be emotionally crippled forever.  I can't even read a book to my son without getting a little teary sometimes.  A few weeks ago he leaned in and gave me a sloppy wet kiss for the first time and it was completely spontaneous and unprompted.  I cried.  Somebody on Facebook recently implied I was 'abandoning my son to strangers' by leaving him at nursery to come to work and I was almost rendered inconsolable (followed by an overwhelming desire to punch them in the face).

It looks like I will have to spend the rest of my life travelling with a big box of tissues and wearing waterproof mascara.  And I don't care.  I guess that's what unconditional love does to you. 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Sad times

Today I had to turn the news off before I left home and stop reading the paper on the train all because of the story about  Daniel Pelka, the little boy tortured and eventually killed by his mother and her partner.  I turned it off not because I didn't want to hear about it but purely because I couldn't get myself in a state before leaving for work, nor could I sit on the train crying.

I have always struggled to understand how anyone could abuse or torture a child but since having a son of my own I am at a complete loss as to what the motivation is for prolonged abuse.  Yes, children are challenging.  Yes, they are frustrating and sometimes they will push you to limits you can only imagine.  But their innocence and unconditional trust in you is enough to (usually) melt the hardest of hearts.  And if it doesn't, feeling their arms around your neck whilst giving you a sloppy kiss will.

You often read stories of mothers with chronic depression and mental illness who ‘snap’ and kill themselves and their children, or about a parent at the end of their tether who lashes out a child and hits them.  It might sound strange but I can see how that happens. Mental illness, sleep deprivation, lack of support and desperation can lead people to do very strange things and it’s very sad when something like that happens.  But this story is on a whole new level that leaves me feeling sick.

At his death, this 4 year old child weighed 21lbs.  1½ stone.    My son is 14 months old and weighs the same.  And he is deemed to be quite small for his age.  Let’s just think about that for a minute.  A 4 year old weighed the same as a small toddler.

I’m sure there will be recriminations flying about all over the place now blaming teachers and social services but let’s not forget, it wasn’t them who inflicted the injuries on this child.  It was his biological mother and her partner.  Every article I have read details how he was locked in a cold room with no food, no access to the toilet and no contact with anyone else.  He was held under the water in his bath until he passed out.  He was force fed salt.  He was sent to school with almost no lunch and was found by teachers trying to eat from the bins, stealing from other kids’ lunchboxes and picking up food from dirty floors.  Teachers repeatedly flagged up concerns over his welfare, his continuing weight loss and appearance.  But what powers do they have?  None.  They can only follow procedures and report it to authorities and try to speak to the child’s parents.

Two things strike me about this story.  Firstly, how can a mother do that to her own son?  I understand that often women are frightened of a violent partner fearing for their own safety too.  However there is every indication that she was a willing participant in this exhausting torrent of abuse this child suffered.  Maybe I don’t have all the facts but I’m struggling to believe she is nothing other than guilty – as was confirmed by a jury this week.

Secondly, how was he left to suffer this by the social services.  How could someone think that an emaciated child is happy and healthy?  And if The Telegraph has its facts straight, a doctor deemed him underweight but nothing more 3 weeks before his death.  I hope that doctor can sleep at night.

If this was an isolated incident, it would be a very sad story and we would hope that nothing like this would ever be allowed to happen again. But it’s not.  I’m sure everyone remembers Baby P who died in 2007 after a similar experience.  That child was less than 18 months old.    Today I also found a story about a couple in Belgium who repeatedly abused their children for years.  I can’t even write about some of the things these children endured. 

I don't know what the answer is, but for now I am just glad this beautiful little boy is in a much happier place.   And I hope it is a very long time before I have to stop reading a newspaper on the train again.