Are you Leah’s Mum?

Are you Leah’s Mum?

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At work yesterday I encountered somebody who looked vaguely familiar. I looked at her for a minute, then I asked “Do we know each other – have we met before?

She thought for a minute, then she replied by asking “Are you Leah’s mum?” I smiled and said “Yes I am.” There was no trace of embarrassment on her part and no tears or display of emotion on mine. We didn’t even go on to discuss Leah, we identified a situation (non illness related) in which our paths had crossed before, then we talked about other work related matters.

However, for me it was a very special moment and my heart was warmed. This woman gave me that opportunity – so rare nowadays – to say out loud “Yes, I’m Leah’s mum”, and it meant so much.

When I phone the High School for some reason, or go to Parent Teacher meetings, I regularly introduce myself as “Miriam’s mum“; at the Grammar School I introduce myself as “Simon’s mum” and when I happen across former school friends of my eldest, I become “Rachel’s mum“. Sadly I rarely have opportunities to identify myself as “Leah’s mum” anymore.

Nine months after Leah died, shortly after I had returned to work in the Health Service, I was being introduced to a work colleague whom I hadn’t met before. The colleague who was introducing me momentarily forgot my name and inadvertently introduced me with the words “This is Leah’s mummy.” The person I was being introduced to immediately showed recognition and greeted me warmly. Of course, I then gave her my name as well. There was no evidence of awkwardness on anyone’s part and for me it was another very special moment.

Even though Leah is no longer on this earth, I will always be her mummy.

Leah and Vicky

Love Notes

Love Notes

Leah and Miriam 2005
Leah and Miriam 2005

Today I was unpacking a bag of stuff that came down from our old house and I found another of Leah’s “love notes”.

She wrote it to me in 2012, when I was very upset about something that had happened.

In it she quotes Psalm 9:9-10

The Lord defends those who suffer; he defends them in times of trouble. Those who know the Lord trust Him, because He will not leave those who come to Him.”

Then she writes some beautiful words of encouragement, regarding the situation that I was distressed about.

Of course, when I found this note, all I could do was cry and sob my heart out.

How I miss Leah’s love notes, her timely hugs and her words of encouragement.

Yet, I know it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

I am also mindful of how blessed I am to have a husband and four children.

I am blessed that I am loved.

Simon, Miriam, Rachel and Leah, October 2004
Simon, Miriam, Rachel and Leah,
October 2004

I am mindful of how blessed we are as a family, to have had Leah in our midst for sixteen precious years and 16 days.

I am so blessed by each little note that I find, that reminds me of Leah – not that I need reminding – and the part that she played in our family.

She was my flesh and blood, the one whom I carried in my womb for nine months, felt every kick, birthed into this world, fed at my breast, gazed into her Moses Basket to check she was still breathing, shopped for, cooked for, loved with a Mother’s love and reluctantly handed back to the One who loves her with a perfect love.

Parenting brings so very many challenges – no one ever said it was going to be easy. I guess I just didn’t know it was going to be this hard.

How easy it would be to give up on life, to drown in this pool of tears.

However, just as Leah’s response to her situation was “God has a plan for my life“, so it is mine.

My hopes and prayers could be summed up in the words of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

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The Playground Incident

The Playground Incident

Recently when listening to adults talking to me about some of their adverse childhood experiences, what has really stood out for me in their story, is how their distress was compounded when the significant adults in their lives didn’t provide the nurturing that they needed at the time.

This was either because the parent was not emotionally available for whatever reason, or because the parent simply did not believe the child regarding the situation that the child was distressed about.

I’ve thought a lot about this.

These adults are very traumatised because of what happened to them as children. I can’t help but wonder how much less traumatised they would be, if at the time that the adverse event was ongoing, a significant adult in their life had nurtured them through the situation, even if it was something that they were powerless to change.

It is so difficult to watch our children struggle.

If it’s something that we genuinely cannot change, then it can be easier to look the other way and have ourselves believe that our kids are doing fine – after all, they’re “only kids”!

Last week’s “playground incident” involving my youngest was not resolved as quickly or as easily as I initially hoped.

It required a lot of ongoing nurturing on my part.

It was complicated by the fact that she ended up being off school sick, so then she couldn’t go to school to resolve it and everything escalated.

A few years ago I’m not sure if I would have had the emotional capacity to provide nurturing to the extent that I have provided it this past week.

In years gone by, I think that I used to be in too big of a hurry to jump in with my quick fire solutions. I thought that every problem had an obvious solution.

Through Leah’s illness and death I have learned that there are many situations in life that can’t be fixed, or can’t easily be fixed.

I have learned that sometimes the kindest thing that we can do for someone, is to not try and pretend that we can fix things, but to verbally or non verbally communicate: “I feel your pain, I care and I’m here for you.

Thankfully, with the help of an amazing teacher, everything appears to finally be resolved and the smile has returned to my little one’s face.

I will continue with a bit of extra nurturing, just to be sure.

I’m also thankful to those adults who entrust me with their stories, because I’m learning so much.

I just wish that I could start and raise my children all over again though, now that I’m older and wiser!

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