A perspective on the world of disability from a mother and an educator. Follow my blog!

Sunday, 22 February 2015


I think that parenting is a cycle of having times when you feel like you're on top. You've got this. School lunches are done. Home readers are done. Dinners are healthy.

There are other times that it all comes crashing down. For us, a crash involves the overwhelming feeling that our journey is different. It comes about because of all the usual reasons for parenting guilt, but added to that is the grief that never goes away. The grief that is stirred up every time the universe reminds you that this world has difficulty with what it doesn't understand. This world has a hard time with anything different. Grief distracts you and takes you away from your purpose.

I fully believe that these moments will happen again and again as our life stage changes, and Imogen grows up and faces new challenges. I fully believe that once the grief has had its moment then it is time to dust myself off and get on with it. It's a choice.

The first remedy to a hurting heart is to simply 'be'. It has been a delight to let go of the daily pressures and spend time passing the torch on a childhood passion - Roald Dahl! We have been steadily reading through the catalogue: Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Currently we are on to Danny the Champion of the World, my personal favourite. Gavin never quite believed me when I told him I read Matilda when I was 7 years old, but now that Stella is teaching herself to read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory he has a giggle to himself.

Holding those 3 girls in my arms, having them squirm all over me as we read, covering their eyes in the tense moments, has given me purpose again. It has been a moment to breathe.

To keep the momentum of being together, we are undertaking a family project. Every year our incredible town celebrates the depths of winter with a Jumpers & Jazz in July festival.  The town dresses up the trees in artwork (usually knitted) and for two weeks in July the town simply hums with excitement. This year, we are going to register a tree, as a family, and decorate it! Stella has come up with an idea and we are all French knitting or crocheting or felting together.

I love that word, 'together'. 

Having 4 months to get ready should be enough, especially given how much we completed this weekend! It is great because it doesn't matter what each of our skill levels are, we all have something to contribute. An important something to remember in all areas of life.

Monday, 9 February 2015

The Gap Between Holland and Italy

Last Friday I was dropping Imogen off to a friend's house so she could have a play with her school friends. When I got there, the mum was on the phone to the mum of another child in their class. They were talking about homework.

It suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't heard anything about home work. There had been no note in Imogen's bag explaining what Grade 4 homework was going to look like. At that moment I felt so excluded. It was like I was back in high school and the popular girls were ignoring me.

We are in Holland, everyone else is in Italy.

I sent an email to the class teacher who explained exactly what her thinking was - and she's spot on. Quite simply she is an incredible teacher and we are blessed to have her looking after Imogen.

I feel exceptionally guilty for the relief I feel at not having to cram another 15 minutes of home work into our afternoons. I feel guilty that I'm not doing enough to help Imogen keep up.

On my evening walk with a friend (also a mother of a child in the class) I'm explaining all of this homework worry to her.

And then it hits me.            The gap.

The gap between Imogen and her peers is just getting wider. Her friends will learn to drive. They will meet boys. They will go to university.  They will get married. They will have families. In the middle of our evening walk I'm doubled over with the grief as the realisation hits me and the tears take hold.

I know that the extrapolation from not having anything other than a home reader for homework to what the future holds is not a good way to think. But that feeling of being left in Holland creeps up on you when you least expect it.