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Location: United Kingdom

Yes...this is ALL about me, and mine. Marvellously self indulgent, feel free to tell me how splendid I am, leave comments, nice ones please, I have little kids and teenagers who can do the rude stuff. I am a grandma, to the glorious Joshua, I'm allowed to look frazzled and weary, I earned it. The older I get, the more I see that hanging on and being patient is worth it! They ( whoever 'they' are) are so right when they say you never know what is around the corner, it isn't always an articulated truck! It is vital to make the time for making memories, friends are the greatest treasure, I love mine. I am rich!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The one and only...

21 years ago, way back when, when I knew so much, when I had this parenting thing wrapped up and was filled with a sense of parenting superiority, when I could have answered any questions on what to do and how to do it with confidence, along came Sophie.

Sophie Alexandra Jean. My girl.

She was 8lbs 14 oz of rolling chunkiness. The midwife held her up, one hand under Sophie's buttocks, the other holding her head and said " would you just LOOK at that!" and we all stared at the rolls of fat from Sophie's neck to her knees, she was gloriously chunky and healthy.

Her first days weren't happy, apart from the elation I felt at having this girl child, this beautiful daughter, everything else was so sad and confusing. The first one was distant, in fact for 3 days before she was born, both he and his mother ignored me, when I walked into the room they would both pointedly turn their backs. If they were sitting, they would shift so that there was no chance I could sit next to them. If I sat near either of them, they would move.

There were many " will you be alright with *her* when I leave son?" and comments along those lines.

He left when I was in labour and made it back just in time to see her born. He came to visit twice, once bringing the boys and once bringing neighbours I barely knew, staying 10 minutes. He came to collect us from hospital, dumped us at the door and left.

10 weeks later I discovered he was having an affair, 2 days after I had major surgery and had a 9 inch gaping wound on my stomach, he left, to 'find himself' and live his life.

Sophie was so little and I couldn't pick her up, couldn't hold her, so she went to live with my mum 2 hours away, she came back when she was 7 months old. Used to gramma patting her back and rocking her to sleep, she was a confused and furious baby suddenly living with this frazzled, sad, physically sick person who didn't stand for hours patting her back or rocking her.

She walked unaided at 9 and a half months. She spoke, in sentences at 11 months right at the time when she learned to climb out of her cot and also, open windows.

Every upstairs window was tied shut, I did that after I had put all 3 kids to bed and went into the kitchen to clean. A beautiful spring evening I had the door open as I worked and I could hear a little voice saying "Hey! Allo TAT!" over and over and I thought how like Sophie it sounded but this voice was outside and I knew she was in bed.....curious I went outside and then I heard it again "HEY! HEY! TAT! Allo TAT! and my blood ran cold as I realised it WAS Sophie and her voice was coming from above me......I looked up and there was my baby, in her babygro, chunky little body ON THE WINDOW LEDGE outside the boys' room.

I ran upstairs praying "please don't let her fall, please don't let her fall" She was calling the neighbours cat.

Doors had to be locked and keys hidden, when the children were playing in the garden, we ...I mean I, had to make blockades with baby gates, laundry baskets, boxes, prevent her escaping.

She has always had a filthy laugh, from a baby she would belly laugh this deep rumbling guffaw, with a volume that would outdo a fog horn. She still has that laugh, it is quick to erupt and long to finish.

Wherever we went she was noticed, she commanded attention and she got it.

She was exceptionally clever, she flew through all her baby checks with flying colours. When she was 18 months old she had a check up with the Dr, he handed her a pen, to see if she would grip it I suppose, she sat on my lap and held the pen and after a few seconds, she did this shoulder shrugging thing, raised her eyebrows and said " Well? Paper?" I about choked and the Dr said " I don't think you have any worries with this wait, actually, I think you might have plenty of worries with her later, good luck with that!"

When she was 3, she espied a builder's bum on the gasman as he changed the meter under our stairs, his backside was protruding out of the cupboard door and I saw his crack at the same time she did, she was quicker than me, before I could grab her she ran over, shoved her finger right in that crack and yelled "HA!!! Would you just LOOK AT THAT!"

When she was 4 we got a cat, oh that poor little creature. We had a front room with 2 windows on one wall, in between the windows was a partitioning wall about 3 feet wide. I was sitting quietly reading while Sophie played upstairs and out of the corner of my eye I could see something flash past one window and then the next and every time I looked, it was gone. I stopped reading and stared at the window, determined to see what was flashing past. It was the cat, skipping rope through it's collar hanging from Sophie's bedroom window and being swung, she was teaching it to fly. That cat was taught to swim, it was smuggled into her back pack when she wanted to take it to school. It was painted with nail varnish. Poor Lily cat.

At 5, a few months after she started school, we noticed that she was falling behind, in those few months she went from being bright and ahead, funny and strong willed, to this crazy child who scribbled and stared ahead, who no longer listened to stories, she went from sitting quietly to screaming and kicking. She lost all ability to play with her friends and instead would hit and drag them.

At home she would stop mid scream and then shake her head, forgetting that she was mid tantrum, she walked into walls, she spat and hit, scratched and punched . She would stop mid sentence and smack her lips, then forget what she had been saying.

She ran into roads, saying she wanted to see what happened when a car hit her.

It got so that when she ran into the playground at school, every other child would run for their lives! She could clear that playground in a few seconds just by running and yelling " I am HERE!"

Everywhere I went I would hear " that is *Sophie's* mum" I got to dread hearing an adult say " Are you Sophie's mum? Could I have a word?"

My sister and I would sit outside school and wait for her to come out and we would hold our breath, we could tell just by looking what kind of day she had had and what kind of evening I was likely to experience.

She never slept more than 5 or 6 hours. Oh how weary I was.

She exhausted me and yet I was fiercely proud of her. She was diagnosed with Epilepsy and between that and the medication she had to take, at one time she was on the maximum dose for an adult, she became almost uncontrollable, we learned which fights to pick and which ones were not worth battling over, if she ran making banshee noises in the supermarket, we ( why do I keep saying 'we'? I mean me, I, just myself) counted that as a good trip, she wasn't biting anyone or headbutting them, she wasn't dragging things of shelves or breaking anything. I was so tough skinned, I learned to ignore comments about brats and how that kid needs a damn good smack. I stopped answering people who told me to beat it out of her, I was not going to break this child's spirit, I always felt that she would have a battle to fight one day that would take every ounce of fight she had in her, I didn't care do anything that made her lose that feisty spirit.

Somehow, while I was keeping Sophie alive, while I fought her corner and stood up for her rights, I raised 2 little boys who were patient and kind and understanding, to a degree of this littler sibling who would jump on their heads while they lay watching TV, who would delight in making them cry, who somehow managed to cut short any exciting trip we were on by behaving so outrageously that I had no option but to just take them all home.

I love that even today they are so protective of her, they watch out for her and once, when I really felt as though I didn't have the reserves needed to see her through yet another life threatening phase, they took over, they took her and they kept her safe and they loved her.

I never knew, in all those years, while we were fighting and struggling and bashing heads and clashing personalities, I had not even the faintest clue that she would ever be as glorious as she is now. I wish I had known, rather than just hoped, that she would be this loud, unashamed, laughing person. How much easier all that other stuff would have been if I had known just what friends we would be.

I am still raising Sophie, she is still learning and I think for a short while, she still needs to be here. She has a few years to catch up on, lost years that we are rescuing and making good. I see, every now and then, a glimpse of the woman she will be when she is ready to be on her own, without me to whisper to her.

I can't wait to stand back and see who she is, watch her in all her glory as she uses all the things she has learned as she lives her life.

She taught me things I never wanted to learn, she has shown me things I didn't know existed. She has made me be a person I didn't know I could be, shown me strengths in myself that I would never have believed were there.

At last I can love her and not hold back, at last I can enjoy her and relax as I see that she knows what she is doing.

I think this year is going to be a huge one for my girl. I have a feeling that this where she begins to really live her life and make it count, with all kinds of treasure waiting for her.

So many people predicted what Sophie would be like as she grew, many of the predictions were right. I don't think any of us ever realised just how much she has to give and none of us ever knew the extent of her splendidness. How lovely that we are all seeing just who she is, now she is grown.

21 years ago, I had no idea that in just one day I was going to become mother to this incredible person, never a dull moment in those 21 years, tomorrow, even though she isn't here ( sunning herself in Tenerife) I will truly celebrate the birth of my Sophie.



Blogger Julie Julie Bo Boolie said...

She is simply glorious and I'm SO glad to know her.

1:08 pm  
Blogger Tired Mom of Six said...

She is exactly as you say she is, Helen. We love her so much and admire her spirit. I'm so glad you are reaping all that you sowed with her. I know it has been a long road, but it certainly was worth the wait.

5:28 pm  
Blogger Sara said...

Glorious outcomes are never easily attained... Happy birthday to Sophie, and to her Mum. Love to you both. xxx

2:34 am  
Blogger J said...

She is the beautiful Sophie she is, because of the beautiful you that you are.

Happy Giving Birth Day.

11:06 pm  
Blogger TN said...

Happy Birthday Sophie!

4:08 pm  
Blogger Julie Q said...

I hope she had a great Birthday Helen. :)

You have done such a wonderful job raising her and you continue to do so.

1:48 pm  
Blogger One Tired Momma said...

Oh what a story! And what a girl! You raised a great one Helen.

7:08 pm  

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