Monthly Archives: November 2016

No time limit

This Christmas will be the 2nd Christmas without my nan. It will be my 4th without my gran. It will be my 24th without my mum.

It will also be my 12th with my husband. It will be my 19th with my stepmum joining our family.

Christmas can be difficult but mainly because of the rollercoaster of emotions. On the one hand, spending time with loved ones, friends and family can mean that Christmas is an extremely happy time. On the flip side it means that I think about who isn’t around.

I miss buying my grandma and nan slippers. I miss buying my mum things that have no real value but show that I’m thinking of her. Instead I replace those things with my visit to her graveside. Carnations. A Christmas tree and a card taped securely to her gravestone.

It doesn’t get easier the more time passes. You just find a way to cope with things in different ways that mean that you don’t cry every time you think of the person who has died. I can go weeks without consciously thinking about my mum and then all of a sudden she pops into my head and then it’s like I’m back there 24 years ago listening to two police officers saying that she has died.

The difference is now that I have accumulated people. Lots and lots of lovely people who I can talk to about my mum and my nan and gran. The way that my nan was the least politically correct person ever but also the most tolerant. The way my gran would make me smile the minute I saw her. The way my mum made me laugh.

This Christmas I’ll remember all the people I have lost. I’ll also remember all the people I have gained though.

My womb. My business

Like most of my posts I debated about whether to write this but decided that it’s about a topic close to my heart.

I want to say first of all that you may be reading this and be thinking ‘Oh no! I say that all the time to her, she must hate me’. Well I don’t. I accept it’s something that comes quite naturally but I also think that it’s important that you know my views and basically don’t do it again!

I’m 34. I’ve been married for 9 years to a beautiful amazing kind man who is literally the love of my life (so far!). I have a great job that pays relatively well and I am surrounded by some beautiful friends and family who are an amazing support network. I don’t have a lot of surplus cash admittedly but I do have a husband who is a bit of a saver and always supports me if needed.

When I was young, I was constantly asked about whether I had a boyfriend. You would think that when I got married, those kind of questions would stop but no. Then comes the baby question.

“Any pitter patter of little feet”. ” You’re not getting any younger”. “You must get a move on”. Unbeknown to me, the rules are that if you get married, you naturally must be pregnant within the year, or two if you want to settle into married life for a bit. Two is acceptable. 9 is apparently just not on.

This morning I was asked about whether I had plans to have children. Normally I would shrug this off but this time it really upset me. Not through the fault of the person who asked but just years of friends, family asking me when we were going to start a family. I’m writing this not just for me but for all the childless women out there. Please don’t ask when we are going to have children. If we volunteer information then that’s fine. If not then there might be a reason but, put bluntly, it’s none of your business if I ever choose to have a baby. Here’s a few reasons why you should avoid asking about the baby question. I’m not saying whether these apply to me because if I haven’t talked about it to you already, then I probably won’t want to. That doesn’t reflect on our friendship. It just means that I don’t want to share.

1. Children do not make a family.

Okay, I know children are amazing and the love for a child is unlike any love that anybody has ever known. But maybe, just maybe the person you’re asking is pretty fulfilled as they are and don’t want children. They might not feel maternal. They might like the fact they can sleep in and do what they want when they want. Maybe they’re selfish. Maybe there’s lot of reasons but contrary to popular belief, women can be fulfilled and not have children. My amazing auntie who passed away from cancer was proof of that. She never had children but she was an amazing auntie.

2. One or both in the relationship are not ready for children just yet

The key word is ‘not ready’. Yes, there is never a right time for children but maybe they want to spend some time as they are before they have a label of mum and dad. Maybe one wants to but the other doesn’t. Maybe there’s all sorts of conversations happening that you’re not privy to because you’re not part of the relationship. Maybe mentioning children is actually harming the relationship because of all the pressure.

3. One or other can’t have children

Yes I know, there are people who (shock horror) can’t have children. It happens. And maybe months of tears and trying are compounded by you asking about whether there is a little one on the way.

So, this is a plea. Don’t ask me if I’m going to have children. Ask about my job, my career, my achievements, what I did at the weekend and my holidays away. Ask about how I celebrated 9 years of marriage. Ask lots of things but not children. If you mean a lot to me, you will know when I choose to have children. If not, you’ll find out on facebook like everyone else.

A hidden gem

Tucked away in a building that looks pretty run down just outside of Birmingham, lies a community cafe called the ‘Ort Cafe’. Step into the entrance and head up some stairs and you will find yourself in a hidden gem of a community art gallery called ‘Ort Gallery’.

I’ve lived in Birmingham since 2001 but I have never truly explored Birmingham. I saw on Facebook a gallery exhibition based in the Ort Gallery, which focused on six female photographers and their pictures taken in the Middle East. With a rare Friday off work, I headed there with a friend.

There were not many photo pieces in the exhibition but all were carefully selected with the stories behind the pictures clearly set out beside the piece. From looking at the ‘drag queen scene’ in the Middle East to mothers holding pictures of their sons lost in the Iran-Iraq war to then seeing photos of innocent young children with their limbs missing due to bombs, this was one of the first exhibitions that really made me think in a long time. It also showed the inequality that women still face in some Middle East countries.

I came out of the gallery wanting to make a difference because, despite everything that is currently happening in this country, I can not comprehend how the world can sit by and watch things like young children losing their whole family due to war. I know this country isn’t the best that it can be. The divide between rich and poor is still huge. People are dying every day due to lack of support. Young people are living in poverty. Just because our country isn’t the best that it can be, doesn’t mean that we should turn our backs on other countries. I agree we should ‘help our own’ but isn’t the ‘own’ humanity? When did it become about a nationality?

I’ve joined a political party. I’m not sure whether that will give me what I need to instigate a change. By going to the gallery exhibition, by spreading the word and continuing to raise awareness, perhaps that’s just a little step. But a step all the time.