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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Santa's Sleigh and Silly Legs

Twas the (day before) the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.

As I sat down at my computer adorned in fairy lights and surrounded by Christmas cards to compose this post, this wonderful line of prose struck so true to me.

My little Florrie monkey is affectionately known as Mouse to my husband and I and the house is indeed   strangely free from the usual demands and dramas that only a toddler who thinks they are a teenager can deliver with such a unique charm.

Even the dog is out enjoying the park thanks to the wonderful help supplied by my parents and the only noise that can be heard is the occasional cough and splutter
from my man flu suffering husband studying in the next room.

I actually can not remember the last time that I experienced quiet quite like this. Hang on a minute, my daughter is 29 months old, so I'm going to go with 29 months and one week ago!

Becoming a mum has been without a doubt the best thing I have ever done in my life, but it has also been the hardest thing and in all honesty is becoming harder the brighter and more active that my little monkey becomes.

Being told for years that due to my accident and subsequent illness I would be unlikely to ever know the joys of motherhood, I'd daydream for hours from my rehabilitation bed about little cosy bundles of joy laying peacefully in my arms and what I would call such bundles and what they would look like.

Although I would also occasionally let such daydreams meander further down the pathway of time to picture family walks in the park and holidays and cosy afternoons watching Disney movies together with hot chocolate and marshmallows- I think it is only natural to fixate on the baby stage when you are being told that these things are unlikely to be possible.

Those of you who know me personally or indeed are familiar with my story through my ramblings on this page, will know that God did indeed answer my prayers with my gorgeous Florrie back in the summer of 2013 and to go one further has now even blessed us again with another baby which is actually due anytime now, so there may well be that rather lifelike new baby doll arriving for Florrie on Santas sleigh tomorrow night!

With my pregnancy with Florrie I was able to research the best prams/travel systems that would work well with my wheelchair (for me personally this was the Stokke Xplory due to it's lightweight and easy one handed steering if you are also becoming a disabled parent), as well as explore other clever solutions to get around the practical issues of raising a baby with restricted mobility, such as co-sleeping cots, slings and other clever gadgets etc.

I thought I had it sussed and despite my usual neurological pain and restricted mobility I'd go as far as to say that in the first few months to a year of Florrie's life, I look back and think that maybe I did indeed have it sussed.

I'd strap my gorgeous little bundle to me in her sling and drive off into the SW London sunset in my electric wheelchair and do shopping, take public transport and walk the dog. I even attended meetings for my charity like this.

Fast forward a little over two years later and Florrie is no longer a quiet, cute little bundle who I can sit on my knee on the wheelchair and get about my day with!

Florrie is a bright, extremely active toddler who has this crazy idea that she is a teenager at the age of not even two and a half! She has very strong opinions on most areas of life, not least that of what outfit she is going to wear for each hour of the day!

I'm sure this is ringing true to many mummy (or Daddy readers), but this morning I think I counted no less than five outfit changes before the clock had even struck 9am!

The girl is a whirlwind, a whirlwind I certainly would never have any other way, but a whirlwind none the less! In light of this, I have always made sure where possible that Florrie has plenty to do to wear off her energy and enthusiasm for life.
 Many of my friends would say maybe too much and joke that her social calendar is more hectic than theirs, (it certainly is mine I can assure you!), but despite the dancing, swimming and singing classes and groups, we are still yet to wear her out!

Although this is a running joke amongst my closest friends that as a former dancer and dance teacher myself, only I could have my two year old taking ballet, tap and musical theatre classes and have performed in her first show on stage at just 2 and 3 months- but the truth is firstly that she LOVES it, otherwise she certainly wouldn't be doing it- (she would make sure of that believe me!), but also there is a more serious truth behind all of this- that being that I have always had a fear and insecurity that Florrie would miss out on so much in life because of my disability and restricted mobility and health.

This fear has plagued me and at times consumed me and something I have spent many hours discussing with my pain and rehabilitation psychologist.

There are and have been so many times that with my husband away with work and my condition at it's most troublesome and annoying that I have had no choice but to make Florrie safe in my bed or bedroom and ride out the flare-ups.
This causes me a pain far greater than the physical neurological pain, so when I am able to take her to her classes and social groups I do and with relish as I never know just when we will get struck down again and have to suffer a Mr Tumble day in bed!

Don't know who he is? Think yourself lucky!

What's occurring to me as time passes and her little mind and body grows is that even when I have won against all the odds and got her out to these classes, Florrie is now becoming more and more aware of just how different her Mummy is to that of her friends'.

The most difficult and poignant moment so far came a fortnight ago, on our drive to her music class. We were chatting about her music teacher who she adores and what songs we would be likely to sing that morning.

Quite the chatterbox, Florrie went on to recite how the whole class would go. I smiled to myself as she talked until she came to the bit where they all walk around in a circle and do the dance.

"And you do that too Mummy?"

Choking back the frustration and sadness I went on to explain that- Mummy can't do that bit with you can she?
With a big sigh, my way too wise for her years little lady came back with, "Oh. No, mummy can't do those things as Mummy has silly legs".

Cue heart breaking into pieces into the footwell of my van.

Sure enough when we got to the class, I did the bits that I could sat down with Florrie and like I have done since she started music classes at 4 months old, I then had to pass her over to the teacher whilst they did the marching around and dancing bits.

Yes, all she has ever known is me in my wheelchair getting us about outside the house and mummy on her sticks or stuck in bed sometimes. She takes for granted 'Mummy has a lift' and points out wheelchairs 'like mummy's' (although obviously not as cool as!) with the blink of an eye, and we regularly have squeals of 'faster Mummy' as I take my 12kph wheelchair up to max walking the dog, (don't tell my husband!)- but as time passes and the start of pre-school approaches, I'm acutely aware that this road is getting a little trickier to negotiate.

But what is life without trickiness?

When do we ever truly appreciate what wonders we have until a few obstacles or difficulties remind us to appreciate our lot- and boy, do I have a lot!

I am about to become a mummy to two amazing monkeys I was told it would never be possible for me to have, (make that three- my eldest baby may be 9 years old, have four legs and constantly have an odour of wet dog at this time of year, but ever since the days he so lovingly dedicated to keeping vigil by my bed during my years of rehabilitation as a pup- Barley will also forever remain my baby!)- I am married to my best friend and am surrounded by the most incredible friends and family who have made this undertaking possible.

I know that when I commence my family Christmas traditions tomorrow evening, by sitting in church listening to children singing my favourite carols, I will be lost in that warm fuzzy feeling of having my family around me and that to me is worth every penny in the world and all of the trials and difficult days that have been scattered throughout the year.

After a year such as 2015 has been, I'm all too aware that so many people don't have this and to any of you reading this, my thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Life is certainly not easy for anyone and is sprinkled with more challenging times to remind us to appreciate the wonders.

So on this eve of Christmas Eve and the start of a new chapter for my family I'm taking this hour of quiet time to really focus on all that I have and to thank all of you wonderful friends and family and blog and charity supporters for all of the incredible support you have given me this year.

I wish every one of you a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year and if that is sadly unable to be the case for you, then I wish you peace in your hearts and a 2016 blessed with improved fortune for you.

Much love and best wishes to you all, and no doubt when I write next it will be to inform you of the arrival of another Reader!

Let the fun commence once more!