Tag Archives: working mum

From the mouth of babes




It’s been a funny few months.  We have decided to move house. The girls are busier than ever. More testing (and angst) at school for them. Tricky work situations.  Hubby has been away. The last few months have been a whirlwind (when isn’t it?) and I can hardly believe we are now in April.  I started a Reiki course back in February and that has helped give me permission to allow myself space while still fulfilling my need to do something helpful for others.

Like many people I find it difficult to accept other people nurturing me. I could over analyse why that is – heaven knows I’ve soul searched over the years.  I know I hold beliefs about how worthy I am (or not). I know I fear rejection if I don’t ‘make’ people happy. I know I over commit to things and feel completely responsible for other people’s feelings and actions. And I know in reality that it’s just the voice in my head talking a load of rubbish.

But my voice is very loud.

This morning the universe spoke loudly too. Through my 7 year old daughter.  A wise head – older than her years – but also refreshingly puppy-ish in her approach to life.


I was grumpy this morning. Failing on many levels to reach my perfect mum image. Failing on all levels in fact. The girls were bickering, a removal van was blocking our way to school,  we were late anyway, I’d worked until 2am last night and opened my emails at 7am to receive a very rude and stroppy message from a close colleague. I think I even swore in front of the children (not at them though. Does that offer me some salvation?!). It was not good. I was uptight and being snappy and unpleasant and I knew it. That just made me more snappy and unpleasant as I wrestled with my shame.

I looked and felt like this



Brave 7yr old: what’s wrong with you this morning? You’re being horrible.
Me: (grumpy voice) I’m tired and worrying about some stuff at work. I didn’t get to bed until half past 2. That’s really late.
7yr old: (compassionate and sincere voice) Do you feel like you’ve only had one hours sleep? That’s a horrible feeling.

It wasn’t much. But do you know what? That drop of empathy has changed my day. Where she found that empathy i will never know. My stress was stressing them both out. But she found a second to think differently about it. Tears came to my eyes and I was so grateful for her attempt to understand me. I thanked her.

7yr old: Let’s be happy. I know just the thing. We can all listen and sing to One Direction!  Loudly!


Not my first choice of pick me up music.

But we did. And it was the Best Song Ever.


Once Upon a Time…


Let me tell you a story…

Holidays are over and I was back to work today. My girls stayed with their grandparents last night and today as they don’t go back to school until tomorrow. Hubby was out with friends yesterday afternoon when I dropped the girls off at Grandma’s…and I had every intention of coming home, opening my laptop and checking those work emails to ‘prepare’ for today.

But a quiet house was way too tempting – and not an opportunity to waste! I gave a fleeting thought to those work emails and then decided I would be better ‘prepared’ for the onslaught of the new term if I actually bothered to look after myself. So the laptop stayed closed. What a rebel. No. Really. That did feel quite rebellious.

I went to our box room and lit some incense (I love incense but hubby is less keen. The box room keeps the smell contained!) and sat for about half an hour just meditating. Afterwards I did an exercise from Jay Linden’s article I found here


I certainly would like more flow and less struggle so I was committed to working through some of the things she spoke about. It seemed so easy! I started with the first question;

What resentments are you still holding onto?

Oh, dear Jay – I don’t have any resentments. I don’t need to do this. I’m all forgiving! I’ve read all the books about letting go, changing your thoughts, forgiving. Of course I don’t hold any reesentments.

Oh. Hang on. There might be one or two… not very big one’s though…

It all poured out within minutes. All those buried resentments that on the surface you would never know were there. I didn’t really know were there (or had ignored very effectively). And there’s probably still a whole load more there that I haven’t admitted yet. As I was writing them down I realised this was my story.

You know that story? The one that guides our life? The thoughts that create our reality? Well there it was. Right in front of me. The reasons why I sometimes feel so rubbish. And I’d only got to question 1!

Now, I don’t feel rubbish all the time. Just sometimes. Most people would describe me as a positive person – in fact two of my work colleagues said exactly that today. I have pretty good ‘happy habits’ that are often on display. But I don’t always feel like that inside. And all those resentments were the reason why.

I realised I harboured buried resentments against some of the people I love the most. That doesn’t mean I love them any less but it does explain why I sometimes find it difficult to stay connected to them, I harbour resentments against people I work with, people in my past, political figures and celebrities.  It was quite a wake up call to someone like me who strives to be open and non-judgemental!!! I am clearly very good at keeping it hidden even from myself.

My reality will remain ‘resentment’ if my story stays as resentment. I wrote down ‘I resent how I was treated when my job expired last year’ ‘I resent how XXXX seems to get everything so easily’… blah blah blah. Lots of blame. You’ll notice it’s all in the present tense. I noticed it was all in the present tense. I resent. A verb. If that story doesn’t change then I will continue to resent.

I worked through the rest of the questions – all very helpful – and I believe I have started to let go of some of those resentments simply by being willing to look at them. They’re not gone – yet. They obviously serve me somehow.

But they will go completely and I will find something more helpful to serve me. I am changing my story.

‘Once upon a time there was a girl who held more resentments than she ever dared to admit. They hid from her but were heavy and weighed her down. One day the light caught them and they were exposed. The girl didn’t want to keep them anymore and gave them wings to fly and never return. And that’s what happened. The light replaced those resentments with love and understanding. The End’

Yep. It’s going to be that easy!!! Really, it is… Honest. I shall just let them go….


What story do you tell yourself? I’d be interested to know.

Angels with Hidden Wings


Do you ever have people cross your path and they leave a lasting impression forever?  Even if the conversation/exchange/contact was such a brief moment in time it hardly registers as 0.01% of your life. But it leaves you irrevocably changed .

I’ve been blessed a few times in my life like that. I truly believe in the saying ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will come.’ I can’t help wondering if those teachers are Angels with Hidden Wings. Here’s just a couple of examples that spring to mind.

A few years ago I spontaneously popped into visit my Aunt and Uncle. They were having friends round for dinner and invited me to stay. I am really close to my Aunt and Uncle – my Uncle took on somewhat of a fatherly role after my dad died – so I was thrilled to say yes and spend more time with them. I was expecting for the evening to be filled with polite small talk on my part, with me not really having very much to say but just being grateful to be included. Well, I didn’t say very much at all but not because I felt awkward. Just because I was in awe. It turned out one of their very good friends at this dinner had been a journalist in South Africa and was one of the men in the Treason Trials. He knew Nelson Mandela and had been smuggled out of the country to avoid further vindication. He now spent his time writing and raising money for schools in the townships. It was only in the few years since the end of apartheid that he’d been able to go back to his country. Oh how I wanted to spend more time in the company of this amazing man and his wife! To ask more questions. To have some of his magic. I have never felt so humbled.

Lots of other Angels have crossed my path and nudged me in different directions. Most recently I met a woman who will have no idea what a light she is. I have to share her story because her strength is remarkable. Names have been changed out of respect for her identity.

Mae must be in her late 40s. She left her children and family behind in Jamaica to find a way of making enough money for them after her husband died. A tough decision. She came to the UK on a working visa and lived with her cousin, Asha. Mae is an educated lady, proud and hard-working. Her cousin fell pregnant and the baby’s father didn’t/couldn’t stay (I don’t know the full details here so cannot accurately account for the reasons). Asha died three months after giving birth to a little girl, Ruby, who had so many complications she had to stay in hospital until she was 10 months old. Grandparents took on legal guardianship of Ruby to prevent her going into foster care but didn’t want her to live with them, so Mae has taken on full responsibility for this perfect little girl with additional needs. Ruby is now 4 years old and due to go to school in September 2014.

Mae had to give up her job to care for Ruby and is now struggling on benefits. If a child was in foster care under the local authority the foster-carers would be paid. As Mae is considered family to Ruby, she gets no such support. She doesn’t drive. Her own daughter recently died at 21 years old and she has two grandchildren in Jamaica who she cannot afford to see. She can’t afford to go back out there and as she has a working visa she cannot bring them here. She has a wealth of responsibilities – health appointments. schooling etc to navigate her way through for the little girl she is raising. On her own. And she’s struggling; financially and emotionally. The only thing that keeps her going is Ruby.

My professional role as a Manager and Advisory Teacher for pre-schoolers with Special/Additional Needs and Disabilities is to help other educators understand certain conditions and how to support such children. A large part of my role is to help with the transition into mainstream school. This is how I met Mae. Ruby was referred to our service and I have the privilege of working with them. I met Mae properly for the first time three weeks ago.

We met at the school she wants Ruby to go to. It’s a popular Catholic school and as such there is a strict criteria in order for a child to get a place. One of those criteria is you need to be baptised. Mae was confident Ruby had been baptised when she was in hospital but when we checked her certificate she had been baptised Church of England. Not Catholic. Mae was so upset – she had thought Ruby was Catholic like her mother had been. The school recommended that she talk to Father John at the Catholic church but you could see Mae was so confused by the whole situation that she didn’t know if she was coming or going. This was the one thing she thought was a certainty – despite all the other pressures she was confident Ruby would go to a school that would honour her dead mother’s faith.

I found myself offering to walk to the church with her and to talk to Father John. It was out of my way and I was going to be late for another appointment but something told me this was the right thing to do. We walked the mile to the church together. Two people who had only briefly spoken on the phone before that day. I wondered what on earth we would talk about and even if i was going to help.

I needn’t have worried. We slipped into easy conversation and I was surprised at how quickly we connected. It was the slowest mile I have ever walked – not because the time dragged but because our conversation meant there was no need to hurry. On arriving at the church a Mass was in progress so we waited outside. By this time she had shared her very personal experiences, the history of Ruby (some of which I knew but a lot of which I didn’t) and her current situation and struggles. There was no underlying self pity from her, neither was there a sense of injustice or of being ‘owed’ anything. She told me the ‘warts and all’ situation and – for someone who often feels responsible for everyone – I didn’t feel she was asking anything from me.

Mass finished and we entered the church. Father John was busy so we sat at the front pew and waited. We spoke in hushed tones as she continued her story. She wept silently as she spoke of her fears of not having her visa renewed; of her dreams and hopes for the future. I wiped her tears and I wept too.

Father John met with us and after (briefly) recounting the situation he offered to write a supporting letter for the school application. Mae’s relief was obvious. We needed to complete a set of forms so Mae and I went to the local library and I helped her. When I finally left her I felt such a loss. I wanted to invite this incredible selfless, intelligent, brave, confused and scared woman to come home with me. A ridiculous reality – and I didn’t – but I was acutely aware her worries would be with her over Christmas. She had told me she didn’t want to leave the house during the holiday period.

I couldn’t do any more that day and I haven’t spoken to her since. But I will do when I’m back at work next week. You see, I was with her over Christmas. Not physically, but mentally. I have thought about her and Ruby every day – even fantasised about sending them anonymous monetary gifts in my attempt to seek a way of supporting them to stay together and do more than worry and exist  – and she will have no idea how much she touched my heart in those couple of hours we spent together. I just want to see her get a break and have some hope for the future. I have some thoughts about how I might be able to support and I will start some balls rolling next week. She is definitely one of those Angels with Hidden Wings. And her gift to me is allowing me to be touched by her light while feeling I might be able to help her too. I hope.

I’ve noticed my Angels with hidden Wings always have something in common. Despite whatever struggles they’ve had they always seem to exude a deep inner strength that I can’t help but admire. I think that is what I am drawn to. I remain fascinated and awe inspired by the determination and resiliance of the human spirit.

I believe we have all been an Angel to people we have met. We all have gifts to share. It might be the smile you gave someone unthinkingly, the story you told, the attention you gave someone, the joy you shared, the way you handled a situation… the list goes on.

I rarely make resolutions for the new year. I’m rubbish at keeping them so I simply don’t bother. If and when I decide to change something then I just do it as soon as I make the resolve – and that’s at any time of the year. Like everyone else sometimes they last and sometimes they fail. However this year I am promising myself that I will remind people of their light. And I will remind myself of mine. It’s in all of us. It’s so bright. We are all someone’s gift just as much as they are ours.

So I am starting this new years resolution by reminding you. Yes. You. You don’t have to try to be an Angel with Hidden Wings. You already are.

I shall leave you with the famous Marianne Williamson quote:

‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?’

I wish you a year full of love and light. I wish you the courage to be who you really are. May many Angels cross your path. I send you my gratitude for already being one. Happy 2014.

A Hearty Welcome


First of all, if you are reading this then, welcome. Everyone is welcome. I claim not to offer anything other than my own thoughts, opinions, craziness and sometimes down right ‘unique-ness’ (not even sure if that’s a word but it goes pretty well together). I have called this blog ‘Spinning Plates and Staying Sane’ because that’s what I think I do. I am an experienced Plate Spinner. And I attempt to stay sane. We probably all are doing this. I am fairly ordinary in many ways, and like a lot of people with many commitments and responsibilities I sometimes think I’m going insane. I spend my life seeking the peace and the calm I know and am told is out there.

I am a lucky lady. At 38 years old I have a fantastic husband and two amazing, (mostly) happy young daughters. I work full time. I live in a nice three bedroom house and we have three guinea pigs. I fit the ‘perfect’ white, working middle class stereo type. And I should be content. Isn’t this the dream? What we all strive for? Having it all?

And yet, despite this ‘having it all’ I find myself thirsting for more. Not necessarily anything better. Apart from wanting to move house to a different area, I am thrilled with the roof I have over my head and my amazing family, friends and the all round quality of my life. I count my blessings daily. I really do. I am healthy. I work bloody hard. I sacrifice a lot of myself for this ‘perfection’. But I know I wouldn’t be making these sacrifices if it didn’t meet my needs.

And that’s what this blog is about, really. Me. My personal quest. My way of managing my stream of consciousness, my thoughts, my ideas, the articles I read that resonate with my personal beliefs and my frustration about how all of us have our wings clipped. Our angel wings. How we are conditioned to believe we have to be one thing to be ‘OK’ when our souls are crying out to be something else. How do we get that balance? Can we ever get the balance?

My girls are growing up. I am acutely aware of the complicated strengths, weaknesses, values, insecurities and stereotypes (etc etc) I absorbed unconsciously from my own unconscious parents, teachers, family, friends et al. I watch my two daughters doing exactly the same and I am acutely aware of the role model I am to them. It scares me. It scares me that I will not be good enough. I will give them ‘stuff’ they have to deal with. That I already have. I want them to be free. To be brave. To not even notice the chains that are so easily wrapped around us. I want them to see possibility in everything and be excited by life. I want them to find that quicker than I did. I want them to struggle less than I do.

So how am I going to achieve that? Well, I’m not naive enough to think I can do it overnight or even wrap them in cotton wool and ‘protect’ them from everything. And I am not their only influence. They will naturally absorb and take in a wealth of information from all sorts of media. Neither do I want them to adopt my values or thoughts if they aren’t true for them They are not clones of me and neither should they be. I want them to experience the joy that life holds – and to do that you have to experience some of the lows. You have to be able to think for yourself. Know your boundaries – over step them sometimes too. Take risks.You have to learn how to bounce back from the bad stuff and know the good stuff when it’s there. I see my role to keep them emotionally and physically safe for as long as possible but that’s not about shielding them unnecessarily – that’s about helping them develop the skills to navigate and cope with all that life beholds. To watch and encourage them to fly but be their safe place if and when they need to return.

So on top of providing for my family and trying to balance myself, I have the same mission as many parents out there. To be the best parent/person I can and somehow still stay sane. I am like you. I am a paradox. I am Perfect but Imperfect. Complete and incomplete. Strong and Weak. Clever and Stupid. Knowledgeable and Ignorant.

And this blog aims to show that. It will be cathartic I am sure. It won’t make sense at times. But that’s me. And that’s life. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense – and we all find ourselves struggling to appear sane while spinning those plates.