Dear Matilda Mae

I imagine I am not the only one today who wondered whether to write you a letter at all.

I am not a relation or a friend. I don’t live near your family. It feels a bit uncomfortable to know what to do for the best. Is writing a letter intrusive? What words can offer comfort?

matilda1

Before the tragic event of a year ago, I was aware of your Mum and her blog. It was not a blog I visited a lot. Your Mum as you know is one of life’s naturals at the most joyful and challenging experience we call motherhood. That shines out so strongly from her writing and pictures both before and after she lost you. Sometimes that inspires and sometimes it makes mums like me wish we did better.

I think I met you once at BritMums Live. I am not sure. I remember feeling very out of my depth and spotting a woman with a baby. Even the most shy person can overcome nerves to comment on a beautiful baby. So I said something and got a friendly reply. Was it you and your Mum? Frustratingly, because I was so caught up with my own feelings, I can’t say either way. It is enough to know that I was in the same room with you once.

On 2nd February last year, you went to sleep for the final time.

I have watched your family try to come to terms with this event. I have reflected on how I might feel had this happened to our family.

Times change a lot in a year. I found myself at BritMums Live again in June last year on the reception desk as your Mum arrived without you. I got this right I think. I held your Mum’s eye and said how good it was to see her there or something like that.

At the MADS, I got it wrong again and asked if your Mum was having a good time before realising who it was and what a crass question that was in the circumstances. Later I stood on the stage with your Mum and wished fervently that the judges would have seen sense and know that hers was the Outstanding Contribution. Your Mum said how vital it was that you were remembered as if we as a community could ever forget. I was so aware that she still had to travel home without you and you would not be waiting for her there.

I think of you and your family a lot. I keep hoping that I can make sense of what happened to you and to so many other babies. Forgive me Matilda Mae but I am still working on that one.

So a woman who likes to think she is good with words has no clever ones tonight so as I do I will pinch some.

Star of the sea was the hymn I chose for my Dad’s funeral and includes these words ..

Assuage our sorrows, calm our fears,
And soothe with hope our misery.
Refuge in grief, Star of the sea
Pray for the mourner, pray for me.

matilda2

This morning I watched Coronation Street and Hayley’s funeral. A community coming together to acknowledge that someone was very special indeed and made her unique contribution as we all do.

I cried for losses of my own and very much with you on my mind too of course.

When I lost my parents, the only comfort I found was in memories. I think it made me realise that the only point of life as far as I can see is the making of memories that will sustain those we leave behind. I am quite evangelical about it now urging those who still have their loved ones to keep making memories. They will understand one day.

Your family will continue to feel your presence in magical ways too. Of that I am sure.

I feel a special wind and believe that means my parents are at my side.

The only other meaning to life that I can fathom is that it is important to leave a legacy and to have contributed in some meaningful way.

Matilda Mae – you lived for 9 short months and have managed to change the world.

You have raised awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and seen money raised for charities in your name.

Families do things differently – mine does anyway even in tiny ways like making more time for arts and crafts.

I take part in a linky this year saying what my word of the week is. Every week the word is clear but this time it was obscure.

Watching Corrie, Roy used the word “coruscating”. It is rare for a new word to come into my world. I did not know what this meant.

It means…

To give forth flashes of light; sparkle and glitter

I think you did that and continue to do so.

matilda3

Keep shining bright and help your family to do the same.

What is the perfect bag for a busy mum like me?

The first thing to reveal is that there used to be battles when I was a teenager. My late Mum felt a handbag was an essential piece of kit for all girls and women. She had lots of different ones and I could never see the point of that. Now I sometimes see bags that remind me of hers and there is one of those little pangs of grief. They were very much a part of who she was. They were a bit like the Mary Poppins’ bag in terms of having every possible item you might need in them.

When you become a mum, you are going to need a changing bag at the very least. Can you remember just how much stuff a new baby needs? – nappies, cotton wool, wipes, nappy rash cream, nappy bags, comb, scissors and so on.

On my quest to become groovy, I have started injecting a few of the things into my life that I see other women enjoy.

I am going to grow up and stop using my pockets as my way of carrying things around. When out shopping, it is good to have my hands free and that only really works with a good handbag.

I recently took delivery of a Mia Tui Grace bag. I opened the parcel excitedly and there was the bag in a bright pink carrying case.

Grace-Aubergine-LongStrap_1_large

What do I love about my new Mia Tui bag?

* It is soft to the touch
* It comes in a variety of colours and mine is aubergine
* I love that the zip has a little star on it – cheerful and fun
* The lining is wonderful – bright pink to brighten your world on the darkest of days
* There is a pocket on the outside of the bag which is so useful for things you need readily to hand like train tickets
* The bag is incredibly roomy and has 4 internal pockets
* There are even special places for pens. I am always losing pens so love this feature
* There is a transparent make-up case
* It includes a good-sized clutch bag
* You can use the bag as a hands-free or as a cross-body satchel
* It is an all seasons bag as it is waterproof inside and out
* It looks chic whether on the school run, out shopping or at a blogging event

There is a wide range of bags available on the Mia Tui website

Mia Tui offer Kate on Thin Ice readers a discount.

Blog-discount-badge-Ice

Here is something I do on the blog every year.  It is good to look back and reflect on a whole year.  It helps to put things in perspective.  I always tag people to do a post using the same questions but anyone should feel free to join in.  Just take the questions and answer them in a way that makes sense to you and preferably although it is not a rule say that the idea for the post came from this blog.

Here is my 2013

1. What was your happiest event?

My happiest event was my trip to Orlando.  It came out of the blue and was something I had never really dared to dream about.  I do remember wanting to go when I was a child.  I never mentioned it as it was not viable.  So to find myself in my forties invited as a VIP guest and to be told I could take one of my children along for the adventure was amazing.  I miss my one-on-one time that used to apply all the time really with my oldest son so it was fabulous to have that all over again on this trip.  It was good to be taken at least semi-seriously by some talented journalists and to learn that there are real opportunities out there for the taking if and when I get my act together.  Most importantly, this trip saw my son’s mental health become stable again after the death of his grandfather.

2. What was the saddest thing to happen?

I think my husband losing his job was sad in the way it has affected the family.  A lot of what we had built up over years has gone.  It was awful to feel like Remembrance had been taken away from us too.  The reality is the Royal British Legion cannot take certain things from us unless we let them.  They can take the job, the income and the security.  They cannot take away our family unit or our values.  We will remember veterans and current service personnel and we hope that one day the Poppy Appeal will not be a Legion thing but as is fair, shared across all the service charities.

3. What was the most unlikely thing to happen that actually went ahead and did?

Quite a few things this year.  Crossing the Atlantic.  Going on a rollercoaster.  Annoying a Baroness.  Meeting Katie Piper.  I think the most unlikely of these was probably going on a rollercoaster.  I can’t say I enjoyed it but I did it.  This gave my son the confidence to go on quite a few so it was worth it.

4. Who let you down?

I will refer you to question 2.

Also the person who allowed me contact with a baby and then severed that contact almost immediately.  That was painful and I have learned that  some people will hurt me whether by design or lack of concern for my feelings continuously. Such people are best left to their own devices.  This year I made that decision and am a lot healthier for it.

5. Who supported you?

My husband in looking after two of the children for a week on his own whilst I went to America.  Since he was made redundant, he has struggled to cope himself so I suppose I have felt some of that back-up that usually comes from him to be missing.  It will come back strongly once we get sorted.  He is fundamentally a good man.

Auntie S.

Bloggers.  So many do this throughout the year.  I look back and remember so many encouraging tweets, offers of telephone numbers, emails and comments.  I appreciate them all.  They sustain me.

The Professor – a steady reminder that someone watches from afar and wishes me well.

Facebook friends from school and from my time in Leeds.

My half-sisters.  I must try and make meeting them one day a reality.

My children – three amazing souls who take me as I am and love me all the same.

 

6. Tell us what you learned

That truly incredible and wonderful things can happen.

That security is an illusion.

That I am sometimes more capable of things than I think.

That it is important to be clear with people on what you want and need.  It is also important to be honest about what you won’t accept.

 

7. Tell us what made you laugh

Lauren regaling me with Ann Summers stories in a London hotel room.

Kimberley’s daughter stealing my son’s shoe and running rings round him.

My son telling a film crew that his Dad was a couch potato.

My son acting the fool with another film crew to great effect.

My other son – so quick with word play and growing up fast.

My daughter – through singing with such enthusiasm and really believing she has a voice when the rest of us could tell her she really doesn’t.

Memories.

8. Tell us the things that made you cry

Insecurity and not knowing quite which way to turn

Realising a relationship was not going to happen with a new extended family member

Fears when I found a breast lump

 

9. Tell us three things your child or children did to make you feel proud.

My oldest son putting himself back together again as time started to heal his grief.   How he offered to give up his place on the Orlando trip to one of the other children.  How he looked after me on the America trip.   How he has forged good friendships. He started to excel at school again after his grades had crashed following my Dad’s death.

My youngest son finding he had a talent in front of the camera.  He took part in two filming events with such composure, humour and aplomb.

My daughter facing her fears and going on her first residential trip.  She took part in some very physical activities which like me is not her natural forte.  She came back changed and with a greater sense of independence.

 

 

10. Tell us the things that made you proud of yourself.

Saying yes to the America trip and going on a rollercoaster.

Tackling two major projects and pulling them off successfully.

Going to the GP and breast clinic when I found a lump rather than pretending it was not there.

Committing to doing all I can to help move my husband and the family forward.

Saying when things really are not good enough.

Digging deep and letting my daughter be away from home without her parents.

 

11. Tell the challenges you overcame

This may be a work in progress.

I will claim rollercoasters and the breast lump as scary things that I faced up to and lived to tell the tale.

12. Tell us the things you would like to change about your life in 2014,

1. To become more financially independent and to see my husband back in work.

2. To lose weight and get fitter.

3. To be more organised in the house and to introduce some good systems.

4. To do better at blogging and also to actively seek other writing and social media opportunities.

5. To write that novel and get it finished.

6. To see people more often and to build on friendships.

Over to you. Any blogger can have a go at this one if they fancy reflecting back on the year that was 2013.

Tagging some lovely bloggers

@NewMumOnline @usthreebythesea @dragonsflypoppy @knackeredhwife @AutismMumma @PollyBurns2 @ LJB41 @CupcakeMumma11 @crazywithtwins @darling_steph @Tamsin_Tweets @InstinctiveMum @Glasgow_Mummy @ goriami @redpeffer @soundinglike @smilesandphotos @gertieandginger @mrsshortiesmind @mummy_plum @mummytries @ugglymuggly @needaphone @ojosworld @oliversmadhouse @mummyglitzer @RP4ges @kimberleyjtyler

More to follow