Friday, 20 April 2018

Remember when swipe left was how you turned the page on a kindle ?

You will be relieved to hear that I'm aware that my recent posts have been all 'me, me, me,' and frankly even I've had enough of that. So, in reponse to absolutely no public demand here is a welcome break from the pity party.

A friend of mine separated from her partner last year and is keen to meet someone new, so she's been internet dating. It's been 15 years since I did the same and the world of dating has changed a phenomenal amount since then. In the early days you never admitted to meeting anyone through the internet. I told only a few friends and my housemates were on hand to call me to give me a get out if things were going wrong. If anyone asked how you'd met you would be prepared with stories about shared interests or meeting at work. In actual fact the serious relationships in my life did come about through work and shared interests so maybe there's something in that ?

Anyway, this is my advice for you Britney* based on what I learned and I hope it's helpful. Feel free to disregard it all and throw caution to the wind though love. If you meet the man of your dreams in a wine bar in Beckenham and he's a keeper, what do I know ?

The experience of internet dating was a salutory lesson in what I didn't want. It helped me narrow down the qualities I was looking for and the 'non-negotiables.' At this point you want to meet some guys, have a drink, dinner, whatever. A profile won't tell you anything that matters, but it will give you the headlines. I can guarantee you that men always overrate how attractive they are. That's not to say they're trolls, but they will say they're an 8 when they're probably a 6 on a good day. When you've shown me photos I've noticed there are fewer passport shots now and more 'hey look at me on the beach, walking the Great Wall,' etc. type photos. That shows effort, or a good grasp of photoshop.

Where you meet matters. I was lucky that when I was dating I lived and worked in London so I didn't go to the same place twice. If I was really unsure about a potential date I'd meet them at the wine bar down the road from my house so I didn't have to give up my entire evening if it wasn't going well. Ok, so you have the added wrinkle of arranging childcare, but if you meet for lunch that solves that one and you have an automatic out if he's not your type.

Talking of type I've categorised them for you to save you the heartache and drama - I mean, we have kids, that's enough drama isn't it ? 

The Marrying Kind: 

This guy is ready to settle down. He's going to marry the next woman who meets his criteria. All his mates are settled and he was in a serious relationship, but that ended and now he's running out of time. If you want to get married go for this guy, but if not be prepared for him to move on pretty quickly so he can get to Mrs Right. 



The Cryer:

Emotions are good and all that, but this chap emotes all over the shop. And the cafe and the car park if it gets that far. He had a pretty crappy break up with his last girlfriend and while he's not bitter he is feeling every last bit of it. Still. So you will hear about it and how he thought they were going to settle down and have kids and that he misses the dog. He still goes to see her parents and plays squash with her brother, but he's over it. Honest. 



The lad:

The love of this guy's life is his group of mates. They have names like, "Banjo, Big D, G-Man and Tash." He won't explain any of them, "you had to be there." These friends have known each other since they were kids and they will have known every girl he's ever dated. It won't matter to him if you aren't his type, he's doing you a favour letting you into his 'gang' anyway.  



Heff wannabe:

He's fit and he knows it. Acts like a playboy, but never talks about what he does for a living. That exclusive club in town ? Yep he can get you in and he drops names that mean nothing to you. He gives the impression he doesn't have to work and can afford a lavish lifestyle. It's more likely he lives with his parents and drives their car. He's got all the moves and it's flattering that he wants to even be seen in your company, but you know he's always looking over your shoulder for a better option. Enjoy it while it lasts - you're just a pit stop. 



The Player: 

He's all about sharing himself around and will probably call you by the wrong name. Actually he will call you babe or darling or precious so as not to have to even learn your name. He won't pretend to be looking for anything serious so you'll have a laugh and go out on some dates with a bloke who claims to like women - so much he can't choose just one. He knows what to say and how to treat you like a lady - or a bad, bad girl if you prefer - and gets plenty of practice. If you don't mind not being his one and only this is your guy, well not your exclusively, but you know what I mean. 


The Bad Boy:

Oh this one is so appealing and so very hard to give up. He won't make a firm arrangement with you so you never know where you stand. If he does show up he's sufficiently sexy to make you forget his misdemeanors. He's pretty unreliable (think John Hamm's character in Bridesmaids) but has you wrapped around his little finger. Thinking about him will make your heart flutter, but you know that he's also going to break your heart. Totally worth it ! 


Could go either way: 

Potentially a good guy, possibly a stalker. Too soon to say. He will be attentive, kind, romantic, thoughtful and there. Man will he be there. If he hasn't already cooked for you he's planning on it. He sent you flowers after the first date and calls when he says he will. Nothing bad about any of that but if he's not your type he's not going to give you up easily. It make take a while to shake this one off. Still it's nice to be wanted isn't it ? 


The jackpot:

If he's seen you at your worst, if he's around when you're being a total arsehole - hey let's get down to brass tacks, if he's held back your hair when you've overdone it at that Prosecco bar you both thought was a great idea - he's a keeper. He's not perfect - hell neither are you ! - but he's also realistic and knows that it's not always posh dinners and hot sex. He's around for the fun stuff and will still be there when things are a bit crap. You have a laugh and you can be yourself without fear that he's not up to it. For my money this one is the one to hold out for.


Of course the profile on your phone won't tell you any of this so you're going to have to snog a few frogs. In the meantime enjoy the drinks, the dinners and whatever else you fancy.

Good luck precious xx


* Britney is not her name, I'm being discreet. 

Sunday, 15 April 2018

I love you, but get out of my face before I punch you in yours.

I admit it's not a mantra that will rival anything by Rumi, Khalil Gibran or His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It's just that sometimes I have that Edward Norton in Fight Club vibe. No not the urge to steal women's thigh fat to make soap - and eww if you thought that !! I mean the fantasy where you punch someone to a pulp - not in a toothless and puffy faced Jared Leto, "I had to destroy something beautiful" way. Despite talking it up I am actually non-violent in my actions. So the intense feeling of wanting to punch and hit is not something I have ever acted upon.

I'm grateful that there is a movie that can vicariously deal with these emotions for me. It's important to be able to park feelings in a safe place when we can't deal with them. It's not always possible to 'resolve' difficult emotions so to be able to watch a movie and sob or laugh or grit my teeth in empathy with the characters is the next best thing to fixing it.


I've been reading about a Hindu goddess whose existence is all about being broken and growing from that brokeness. The idea is that in our lowest moments lie the seeds of great growth and personal development - I'm not sure about that, but I am pretty sure that feeling bad isn't going to kill me. I might find myself swearing or shouting at nothing in particular or in fact everything in the understairs cupboard that fell on me while I was trying to put some stuff away the other day.

Depression doesn't mean being down all the time. It may not even mean being sad a lot of the time. For me it often means being very angry for no reason at all. Being fine one minute and losing it the next over something so entirely meaningless that it's embarrassing.

Me: "Put your socks on boys."
Brown Bear: "..."
Blue Bear: "In a minute Mummy."

5 minutes pass

"Put your socks on now please."
Brown Bear: "..."
Blue Bear: "In a minute Mummy."
Me: "NO NOW !!"
(there follows a 2 minute rant at full volume)

See what I mean ?

It's not even being a bad parent, although on the evidence above you could be forgiven for thinking that. I worry that my sons may inherit my irritability and not be able to control their moods or lose their temper at absolutely nothing. I fear what they think when they witness it and do my best to hide the sadness and badness. This means they're not seeing the real me very much.

I don't mean to be ungrateful or unappreciative. Of course I count my blessings and I realise that there are so many people worse off than I am. That just compounds the belief in how bad I am for not being able to be happy when I have so much to be thankful for. 

Agood friend of mine was a 'functioning alcoholic' and I suspect I'm a 'functioning depressive' ie. I do the day to day stuff, keep house, make meals, take care of the boys and even manage to hold a range of voluntary roles. Surely depression means not being able to get out of bed ? Well I can get out of bed - slowly, but still. There are days when I am already worn out before I've begun the day, but I usually manage to function enough to make it through. I collapse at the end of the day going through in my mind all the bad things that I have done that day that make me a bad person.

I make myself do the things that I think a 'good person' would do. I mimic what I think a good person is. It never occurs to me that the mythical good person that I'm being might do the same. I believe that if I were genuinely a good person I would just do nice things without thinking, "Oh look at me aren't I a good person doing this good thing?" That reminds me that I'm not really good after all. 

It's not always possible to dismiss bad thoughts or feelings and when other people remind me of my faults it reiterates how awful I am. I'm doing my best. It clearly isn't good enough. It's as if I'm not in control of my emotions. I've been feeling massive waves of grief. Earlier in the year I mentioned to Hubbie how I was really surprised that I was coping without breaking down. I had no idea it was waiting there for me. Just biding its time.


Hubbie was away overnight earlier this week and when the boys were asleep I was sitting on the sofa with Neo scrolling through facebook (me, not him). I saw a memory where I talked about taking part in the Moonwalk with Soraya and she had made a lovely comment. A few minutes later I was wracked with sobs and unable to stop myself from asking, "Why her ? It's not fair. It's just not fair."

This evening I was listening to Ruby Wax on Radio 4 talking about mental health. It's gone from being a topic that was never ok to discuss to being pretty much everywhere. I still feel odd talking about it. Not least as I worry the person I've told will use it against me. I've never talked about depression or anxiety with my family even though they have been directly affected by mine most of my life. Hubbie is the exception and I'm already trying to find age appropriate ways to talk to my sons. I want to reassure them that my outbursts are about me and not them.

I haven't watched Fight Club in ages. I haven't metaphorically kicked anyone in the head in a while. I run and swim to manage my moods. I make sure I eat regularly and drink plenty of water to keep well. This weekend we all spent a sunny afternoon in my parents' garden while the boys played with their cousin. As we were all there we bribed the boys with ice lollies and cake so they would sit still for photos. It was such a lovely family moment and yet I felt as if I was watching it all from behind glass.

At this point it is hard to believe I'll ever feel 'normal' ever again. It's like my head is under water and every so often I pop up to catch my breath. In those brief moments it seems possible that things will get better. All I have to do is keep having those moments and notice them.




Thursday, 12 April 2018

Happy tenth anniversary Neo

Firstly: Get a drink of your choice (not judging, if you want a beer for breakfast you go for it).

Secondly: If you are of an emotional disposition make sure you have a handkerchief or a box of tissues - just in case. 

Finally: Settle down somewhere comfy - preferably with a pet for company and read this: 

It occurs to me that we are now a nuclear family. Brown Bear - our 'miracle' baby that yoga, a low-fat diet and sheer bloody-mindedness built. Oh and a champagne-filled New Year (he was born in Sept, you do the maths). Blue Bear - his literal brother from another mother - whose personality and appearance are uncannily like Hubbie. Not forgetting Neo who I see as the .4 of our 2.4 children as he is significant enough to be counted, but not entirely a half. 


Three years ago Neo noticed some changes in the household. The small human who had been around for a while now was almost fully trained. He was able to open the cat food cupboard and put biscuits into a bowl. The mini one no longer chased him or pulled his tail and was malleable enough to lie with on his bed at night. Brown Bear and Neo had forged an alliance that was ridiculously cute to witness. He had pretty much got this one to the point that he didn't need us any more (apart from tins - the little one couldn't quite do tins yet and reaching taps was a bit of an issue). Then suddenly the cot reappeared. The buggy came out of storage. He was banished from our bedroom at night. A new small human came to visit a few times. A little bit longer each time. Then one day he didn't go away any more. 


The smallest one didn't just sleep a lot like a baby would - he was walking and made noises. He slept in the cot next to our bed and would reach his hand out to check I was there. I got used to sleeping with my hand out so he could touch it when he needed reassurance. We also had to sleep with the light on as he was scared of the dark. That first night we got both boys to sleep by 8pm and were high-fiving each other and congratulating ourselves on what amazing parents we are. I almost made a space on the shelf for whatever trophy it is they give you for being the best at this sort of thing. The Oscars of Adoption if you will. Our smug celebration was shattered by the sound of crying. Brown Bear was a great sleeper so we hadn't experienced this much before. He wakes up before the sparrows, but he always slept through unless he was ill. Blue Bear was not just a different kettle of fish, but an entire shoal of unfamiliar oceanic activity. 


We took it in turns to try and soothe Blue Bear to sleep. After a few hours I put him in the car seat and drove laps to calm him down and to give the others - and our neighbours - a break. Nothing was working. Blue Bear was crying, I was crying, and we had no idea what to try next. Finally we managed to calm him down enough to go back to sleep. It was not long after that I got a text from his foster family asking how he was. I told them he had been upset, but was finally sleeping now. That single message was a lifeline - for us and for them. I can only imagine what Neo must have thought about the noise, the unpredictability of this new one and the shattered peace in this household he had so finely crafted.  


Seven and a half years ago I went away for three nights. Neo kept looking for me. He had been taking care of me and bump while I was on maternity leave and often slept on my tummy - well until the bump hoofed him and he looked a bit put out. He was such an active baby that we called him Jiggly Puff.  I told Brown Bear this today and he was amused at the revelation that he would sleep all day while I was moving and dance all night when I wanted to sleep. Hubbie brought me and the baby home after three days during which Uncle Adrian had been feeding Neo. I went straight over to cuddle the cat and he miaowed at me stricken that I had been away for so long. In the sprawl of balloons and cards and infant paraphenalia I don't think he even saw the baby. We introduced them and Neo looked unimpressed and went over to his food bowl. We didn't see much of the cat in those early days. 


Neo has always been an adventurer and would be outdoors all day and often we had no idea where he was. With a tiny baby in the house he made himself pretty scarce. Maybe it was the change of routine that he took issue with. It might have been the lack of attention to him since this interloper had arrived. It might even have been that he wanted to give us space. We just don't know. At bedtime, however, it was a different story. He would always go in and check if the baby was asleep before he would go to bed himself. He still does this now and will pop his head round the kids' doors and miaow at them if they are not in bed. He lies with Brown Bear and doesn't come downstairs until the boy is asleep. I often go in to check on them and see the most adorable scene of brotherly love. Blue Bear is put out that Neo won't sleep on his bed, but he does move almost 360 degrees during the night which makes it logistically a bit difficult. Neo is an old cat now and doesn't appreciate being shoved around too much. 


Ten years ago we went to Battersea Cats and Dogs Home to bring Neo home with us. As we tried to leave every one of the volunteers came to wish him well and to tell us what a lovely boy he was. The vet checked him over and when we went to make the suggested donation we were told it was ok they didn't expect any money as he had a heart murmur and they didn't think he would be with us for long. Hubbie and I were insistent that they accept the donation whatever his prognosis. On the train home he was cooed at and fussed over by every other passenger. When we got home he got out of the basket and explored the house. He made for the back door only to be denied by a locked cat flap. As per the rules he stayed indoors and I would rush home from work to see him every afternoon. He hated using a litter box and made many efforts to break out of the house to explore. When the day came to let him out I stood in the garden as he disappeared over the fence. I don't think I breathed the whole time he was gone. What if he didn't come back ? Hubbie assured me he would. When Neo's small white furry body reappeared I was flooded with relief.


Today we celebrate ten years of living with Neo. A lot has changed. He now has a cauliflower ear, is on two different pills and a special diet for his kidneys. He lounges on a beanbag looking out at the garden rather than being in the garden. He still sheds white fur like you wouldn't believe. He now has two boys living in his house and when they are asleep he lies next to me on the sofa with his paws on me to make sure I don't get up. He has his seat on the sofa and if the boys are on it he will miaow at them to move - they do. Despite Hubbie's best efforts to keep Neo downstairs at night I still wake up to find a cat at the foot of our bed. Some days I wake up to find the boys in our bed as well and no sign of Hubbie as he's been uncermoniously shoved out. 


This is our little family. I love every last one of them with every fibre of my being. From meeting Hubbie and realising this was something special and whatever happened I didn't want him not to be in my life. To the cat who was only supposed to have half a year left to live. The baby we were told we'd never have. The boy we cannot imagine living anywhere other than with us. 


These guys are my everything. 

They are the beat of my heart. 


Monday, 9 April 2018

I'm not with stupid - I am stupid

I've been told I'm stupid a lot of times. My parents have always had a knack of telling me how useless I am and they have often shared their forthright and not at all flattering thoughts about my shortcomings. I grew up believing that anything bad that happened was my fault. If my sister fell and was hurt I'd get blamed for not watching her carefully enough. If I was hurt I knew it was because I'd done something wrong. My dad would either shout at me or ignore me - it was the only way he know how to deal with stressful situations. At the lowest point he stopped talking to me for four years and walked past me in the street pretending he didn't know me.

I was frequently told how stupid I was by an ex-partner - hence he is an ex. In fact after I left him he took what I can only guess was delight in phoning me at work to tell me that there was clearly something wrong with me. He wasn't the first (or sadly the last) person to gaslight me, but I had no idea it was a thing back then. When I was in my first marriage I used to keep it all inside. The fear, the shame and the feeling that I had brought it on myself. I learned over time not to argue as it was just fuelling the self-hatred. If he was looking for a fight I'd back right off and just go quiet. Then he'd criticise me for 'walking on eggshells' around him. My family had no idea and I made excuses for why we had to cancel visits at short notice. I didn't tell anyone and barely spoke to my friends for years. When I finally left and they asked why I hadn't said anything I just didn't know what to tell them. It made me look and feel even more stupid.


Years later a woman who was working in my office, but wasn't really a colleague, was leaving her job and no one had offered to do anything for her last day so I asked if she wanted to go to lunch - thinking that she would invite others. When it was just me and her in Wagamama waiting for our food she proceeded to list all the reasons she thought I was stupid. I hadn't asked. I think I even paid for the meal. Another colleague spent a work social telling me how rubbish I was in front of everyone then at the end of the evening asked me for a lift to the station. I wanted to tell her to sod off, but I was so stunned at the cheek of her that I dropped her off at Elephant and Castle and willed a bus to knock her down. It didn't.

Frankly the queue of people waiting to tell me my many faults is not dissimilar to the scene from Airplane !


So what is it about me that is so kickable ? Well, they probably have a point. I mean how can so many people be wrong ? You see in my head I'm a person who tries her best to be kind and to be fair. I am a fiercely loyal friend and I care deeply about people. However, I am also inclined to speak without thinking. I make inappropriate jokes and I am terrible at hiding my emotions. If I don't like someone much I will be nice to them but I won't get close. The people who know me best have witnessed the idiotic and frankly baffling range of my emotions / behaviour and are still here. There is some reward for that surely ?

When Hubbie and I were first courting (his chosen word for it - it's quaint and sweet, I would say just like him, but he does read this !) we had a bit of a rough patch. I told him I needed to talk to him and we met in Battersea Park. He looked terrified. I asked why he was so worried and he said he guessed we were breaking up. I explained that there were some things we needed to talk about so we could work things out. It was a difficult conversation, but we walked in the park and talked about the difficulties and made a promise to keep talking to each other. We established something fundamental that day. Firstly, we are here for each other whatever the problem is and secondly that not talking is unkind and hurtful. With what was to follow it's just as well we had coping strategies. I don't know how else we could have coped with infertility, miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, adoption, bereavement and whatever else is yet to come. I have asked him to come with me for my mammogram so I may have pushed him too far - let's see.

The self-loathing I feel right now is really taking it's toll on me and those I love. I thought I'd broken my fingers the other day when I was upset about something and took it out on an inanimate object. My boys asked if I was alright and I said, "Yes I'm ok" while struggling to fix dinner with only one hand. Then I felt stupid for doing something that meant I couldn't care for my kids properly. I asked Hubbie last week if I really am a horrible person. He laughed and asked why I care what people think of me, but I can't help it. My own opinion of myself is so flawed so why would I trust my own judgement ? It feels like that at the moment. As though I've got a skewed perception of myself and that I think I'm ok, but the queue of people with baseball bats and rolling pins is getting longer again.


My cat is lying next to me on the sofa with his paws on my leg. He is a pretty good judge of character so I can't be all that bad can I ? 

Friday, 6 April 2018

I live in my car now - well it feels that way

Having both boys at home during school holidays requires a lot of organising. Over Easter there was the strategic grandparent delivery service with both of them staying with my parents on the first night we me and Hubbie could go out to a show. The next day we picked up Blue Bear to take him to the in-laws. Despite our best laid plans we spent more than three hours on the M25 both days and I was thoroughly exhausted. I had intended to blog and social media the crap out of Easter, but in the end I went for rest, relaxation and some time without the children. With Blue safely installed with Grandma and Grumps we high-tailed it out of there with screeching tyres and smoke in our wake.  



Hubbie and I used to present a radio show together years ago so I suggested we might revisit the format. The technical side has moved on and we sat opposite each other instead of side by side, but it was great to spend time sharing music we love and chatting over the airwaves just like the old days. I hope we can do more shows in the future. Talking of which I'll be live on air tomorrow morning which is always fun and games - not least as I lose track of what I was saying or fail to play a song that I had cued up. Anything could happen after the week I've had. Since the start of the week I've lost a journal I write in every day, the key to an essential cupboard and my debit card. I'm not sure I'm safe to drive at the moment I'm so discombobulated ! 



All this week Brown Bear has been at Supercamps which is perfect for an active child like him. Blue Bear had been booked into a half day camp suitable for his age, but it was cancelled at short notice. I've had to find new and exciting ways to spend time with him - which put paid to my plans to get things done while the boys were out of the house. Earlier in the week we went to the cinema and this morning I took him to watch Swan Lake. It is a production by the English National Ballet specifically for a younger audience under the banner of 'my first ballet.' There is a narrator to help children follow the simplified story which runs for an hour and a half including an interval. We were surrounded by small girls universally dressed in tulle skirts and wearing headbands. Bringing his own sense of perspective to the event Blue asked me on the way there if there are any dinosaurs in Swan Lake. He wasn't too put out when I had to tell him there weren't - not least as he had a dino shaped gingerbread biscuit during the interval. In fact he seemed to have a pretty good understanding and concentrated beautifully. He was put out that I refused to buy him a jewelled magic wand from the concession stand, but I reminded him he has more than one wand at home - and a matching tiara. 

I would recommend 'My First Ballet: Swan Lake, which will be on tour shortly. If you are quick you can still catch it at the Peacock Theatre in London, but tickets are very limited. 

One more week of holidays to go - here's to my not losing things or falling over my own feet. 



Sunday, 1 April 2018

Is it April ? Already ? Surely not.

I've written about Sunday night syndrome before. That sinking feeling you get when the realisation kicks in that the weekend is over and it's going to be Monday very soon. I don't usually succumb to this. For me a Monday is pretty much like any other day. Actually at the moment I'm often not sure what day it is. Obviously Bank Holidays mess with everyone's idea of time anyway. Almost everyone I know was convinced that it was Saturday on Good Friday and it's taken me a while to realise it's Sunday today and not Monday.

And now it's April. In my head it's still January. I remember when we were undergoing the assessment for adoption we learned about the effects of trauma. Adults who have experienced trauma in childhood are often stuck in the age at which it happened - emotionally. It's important for us as parents to support our child so he is able to process and move on from early trauma. I had no idea this would be relevant to me at any point.

This year started with the death of a close friend. It was a shock and when I see a facebook memory that she commented on or a photo of her beautiful smile it throws me. The kindness of people I barely know has been a surprise. I've been keeping in contact with her partner and try to sit down with him every two weeks so he has space to talk about her and to cry if he wants to. I take food for him and their son so that they don't have to worry about cooking. In the sadness of it all I'm grateful that we were friends and that I can do something to help her husband and son. Grief absolutely sucks. It's draining. It's relentless. Having things to do helps.

Of course fate intevened to ensure I'd be kept busy and this during the recent 'thundersnow' - our boiler broke down. In the afternoon I noticed that the radiator was cooling down and asked Hubbie to check the boiler was ok and he said it had a fault code he didn't recognise. We had a long drawn out drama* with the company we pay to maintain the boiler for us. They were less than helpful and suffice it to say that actual Corgis would have been more useful in helping us resolve the issue than they have been. We were very lucky that our lovely neighbour let us use her bathroom to give the kids their baths and we were boiling pans of water to wash up. It wasn't exactly hardship, but it was annoying when we'd been paying for cover to ensure this sort of thing wouldn't happen.

As if having no hot water or heating for three weeks wasn't bad enough the car battery decided to fail right in the middle of all the cold weather. Another mum from school helped me pick up the boys - why is it always at the most inconvenient times that these things happen ? The fab bloke from the RAC came out to us and replaced the battery for us so I now don't have to keep my fingers crossed every time I turn the key and hope it starts. The car is a lot like Trigger's broom in Only Fools and Horses. At some point it's had pretty much everything replaced on it and I doubt much is left of the original car we bought.

Everything that broke down eventually got fixed. Well, not the oven, but that's another story for another day. The one thing that I can't replace or mend is the feelings of sadness and loss. The need I have for this not to have happened.



*if you really want to know more about this read the thread I wrote on twitter about it. 

Monday, 26 March 2018

The meeting that changed everything

Three years ago today we attended a very important meeting. 

One that changed all our lives forever. 

We dropped Brown Bear off at school and went to visit a family we had only met once before. 

I think we arrived early and waited outside until the agreed time. We knocked on the door and they opened the door to greet us. With a lot of nervousness we went to the room at the back of the house to see the special person we were meeting. We had seen photos of him so we knew what he looked like, but we hadn't spoken to him or seen him for real. I held back a bit as I didn't want to overwhelm him and I didn't know how he would react to us. He had seen photos of us too and when we came in he went over and picked up a small album and showed us. He recognised us from the family photo we had sent. He didn't say much - he had a dummy in his mouth so it would have been muffled anyway. He looked at us and smiled, then walked back to a place of safety and watched us. 
 
He was dressed like a little old man in a sweater vest - like the ones my dad wears. He stood in front of the TV screen - like my sister used to. He surveyed us from afar and made a decision about whether we were ok to approach or not - I'm told Hubbie was like that too. 

Hubbie was first to engage with him. He lay on the floor and played with toys until with tentative steps Blue Bear came over to join in. I sat back and watched. He was so tiny. So much more beautiful than the photos we had seen. Quiet, thoughful and shy. He kept going back to the comfort of his foster carer for a cuddle and reassurance that these people who had come were ok. Hubbie coaxed giggles and laughter from him and it was the most magical sound. 

We didn't stay long that first day. After around an hour we left to go home. All the way back we chattered away. There was so much to tell Brown Bear and he was excited to hear all about it. I made some notes immediately we got home as a friend had advised me to. I am so glad I listened as so much happens and it's difficult to remember the minor details, the order of events or even the emotions. 

Brown Bear wanted to know everything, but most importantly, "What is he like ?" and "When can I meet him ?" He knew he was going to meet him later in the week and was impatient for that time to come. It was so hard to sleep that first night. The excitement, the anticipation, the anxiety. What if he decides tomorrow he didn't like us after all ? Is it safe to get close to this little boy if there is any chance it might not work out ? 

In the end none of that mattered. I just knew from the minute I saw him that this was our baby boy. That he had to join our family. I finally fell asleep with the joyful memory of his giggles ringing in my ears. Hopefully, they would be in our own home before too long.