The Gallery theme this week is Inspirational People.

Who has inspired me?

There is the teacher at school who did not have a television and challenged my thinking.

There is the solicitor who fought miscarriages of justice.

There is the lovely Freddie Mercury who I admire for his creativity and his willingness to live his life his way.

I could talk about my late Mum who inspired me to blog in the first place. However, I tend to write about her as part of the Little Legacies Project organised by Penny at the Alexander Residence blog.

So family wise, here is an inspirational person.

Mum always said she would be happy if I worked on the Pick and Mix in Woolworths. I think if anything my ambition frightened her a bit. In reality, she need not have worried as I did not achieve much in the end.

The photograph below is my lovely Dad. He always encouraged my ideas about what I might achieve. He is a decent man and I strive to be as good-hearted and true. He always believed in me and used to tell me to walk tall as I am as good as anybody. Dad has travelled the world and understands about different cultures. When Dad talks, it is always good conversation and plenty of laughter too.

I now live with my Dad and as I attempt to revive myself after the first 10 years of parenting, he inspires me to work to be the best that I can be on all fronts. He has developped a keen interest in my blogging and social networking which is not bad at all for a 84 year old. He teaches me that it is never too late to learn or to try new things. His example has also demonstrated to me that although never the same, there is life after loss.

In the last couple of years, several people have said I inspire them. How I do this when I am a stay at home mum battling huge weight issues and struggling to get back whatever va-va voom I had in the first place, I have no idea. However, it does please me that people make changes to their lives saying they were inspired by something I did.

Lots of great things have come my way since I started blogging.

Blogging has helped me actually do what I want to do which is to write every day. Blogging has helped me deal with the emotions surrounding my mum’s illness and death. Blogging has introduced me to a new network of cyber friends. Blogging has brought a number of freebies my way.

However, the most important thing that blogging has done for me is to make me feel less alone and different.

Before going to school, I was the adopted child so different to those in the local community.

At primary school, I had really old parents so was different to the other kids.

At secondary school, I loved learning and was often top of the class, marking me out as a swot or whatever term of abuse the other children wanted to hurl my way.

At university, I was the one from Yorkshire when everyone else seemed to come from London or Surrey. I was also the obvious working-class kid too. Different again.

When working in charities, I was the one with the degree from a posh university.

In the Maternity Ward, I was different as my husband already had children to other women.

At the school-gates I was the “outsider” and the one who had given her children funny names.

In mummy social groups, I was the one who said what I thought and was ostracised as a result.

The first blogging post that touched a nerve with mums I knew was about a Pampered Chef evening. It appeared I was not the only one who was thinking the products were over-priced. I was also not the only one who was secretly giggling at how some of the words the demonstrator was using could have shown up equally well in an Anne Summers do.

When I spoke about my struggles with motherhood, another mum I knew told me she had thought she was the only person in the world who felt like that. This was the first time that I realised through blogging, I might help others.

I know now that I am not the only woman who hates the way her body looks after children. I am not the only woman who really does not see the point of make-up. I am not the only woman who struggles with her child’s special needs. I am not the only woman who has found step-parenting challenging. I am not the only woman who is shy and struggles with self-esteem. I am not the only woman who has struggled to find her way after post-natal depression. I am not the only woman who still grieves years after loss. I am not the only woman found it hard to bond with one of her children. Knowing there are others like me makes me feel OK about being me.

Blogging or rather those who read and comment on my posts have made me feel less isolated and that actually although I share much with many of you, I remain a unique person who has something to give that matters.

I am making a fresh start on the blog.

It is prettier than the Blogger one and I have had enough of Blogger playing up in little annoying ways like going all dark or not letting people leave comments.

It is also two years tomorrow since my Mum passed away.  The old blog was her legacy in a way as she told me to keep a diary and I went with the modern version instead.  It was set up so I could pursue my wish to write.  I have had lots of encouragement and supportive comments but not moved forwards with my hopes of earning money through writing.

I also need to learn to drive and to look at volunteering and studying.

There is also the massive task of shifting stones of weight and starting to rediscover a little of the old me after 10 years of parenting.

When my youngest started in Reception last year, I was advised to take a year to relax.  It strikes me that year is up and it is time I did something useful and to start contributing to the world in some way.

So wish me luck and let’s see where the new road takes me.  Are you ready for the bumpy ride?

This is me looking vaguely reasonable on my wedding day.  All other photos from the last decade with the exception or my boudoir ones perhaps are pretty atrocious but make up and a posh frock can work wonders.

 

Right, let’s go on with the show.  All suggestions on which turning to take very welcome.

Love from the Striking Mum x

Sweet sixteen is a distant memory for me but I do remember my Mum telling me I should go on the pill immediately. Strange birthday present was my thought. I had no intention of having sex quite possibly ever and certainly not any time soon.

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My oldest son turns 16 tomorrow. I have felt fed up all day even though things have gone well. He is not a hugely demanding kid so his present wishes are manageable enough and will make him happy. He’s a bright, sensitive and loving boy who still gives him Mum a hug and brings her little gifts. He also eats junk food and has an amazing ability to ignore the mess in his bedroom which I guess is fairly average for a 15 year old lad.

Where has 16 years gone? I certainly did not turn into the sort of mum I had hoped I would be. He has had plastic toys, watched copious amount of television and I lost the battle completely when my Mum bought him a games console when he was about 9 years of age. Guess what he is doing now? Yup!

I feel sad. I saw a pram outside a shop today and my heart ached a little. I have bleated on for years about all the challenges and restrictions of parenting and yet … Can I go around again? Can I meet him for the first time and tell him that I am clueless so will be relying on him to be the parent? Can I hear him say “Rover” as his first word because that is his granddad’s car? Can I watch his obsession with all things Thomas the Tank engine grow? Not to mention Bob the Builder. Can I go to my late parent’s home again and see the special desk they bought him or relive the Christmas where they got him the ride on car which would a few months later lead to him terrifying us by going for a drive in the village without telling us. There is the cute red and yellow uniform that he wore to his Montessori nursery that set him on absolutely the right path considering the horrors of our education system to come. Can I laugh until I cry at the Nativity play where he refuses to get off centre stage and keep flashing his “big boy pants?”

He is lovely. He has my wild untamed curl and my good skin. He has a round face like his Dad. He is tall already towering above my husband. He really is a young man. I can see this and I am proud. He is the boy who when a kid called him gay said “I am not but there is nothing wrong with gays anyway”. He is the one who stood up for a child who was bullied in a racist manner on a playground. He hates injustice. He listens to me when it really matters and bores me crazy about video games at other times. He is wonderful but can I just stop and go around with him again?

As for the sex thing, he reckons he is more interested in learning to drive. Some things don’t change!

Learning how to make friends is something all children go through as part of their development. But not all children get the cues that another child wants to make friends. No parents want to see their children grow up without friends, so it’s natural to make an effort to help them along.

As a general rule, the worst thing a parent can do in this situation is to talk about it openly. It’s rare that starting a conversation about their children’s lack of friends or pressuring their children to make a change will help shy or reluctant children. Here are some tips to help your kids make friends without being obvious about it.

Work on Basic Manners

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Image via Flickr by sinclair.sharon28

Being polite is something that kids should learn, and parents can make sure their kids do by reinforcing niceties when appropriate. It’s also important to encourage children to share what they have with others. Sharing encourages a sense of community and friendship with others, and it shows children how to create a bond with another human being. Toys are also tools for teaching sharing skills. Toys made for multiple users are helpful in showing young children how cooperation works, and board games made for older kids create a sense of camaraderie.

Keep Appearances Neat and Clean

Kids tend to be visual when it comes to judging both surroundings and people. When they see a playmate who doesn’t look quite put together, kids interpret it as a signal that the other child is different. This can lead to avoidance and even bullying. That doesn’t mean kids need to dress in the latest fashions, but as a general rule, they should dress in clothes that match, change regularly, and keep their clothes relatively clean.
Parents can help kids fit in and keep up appearances by teaching them the importance of looking decent for school. It never hurts to give kids a reward in the form of new clothing, but there’s no need to purchase name brand clothes at full price in order to encourage kids to look good. Coupons can help parents buy something nice for their children’s school wardrobe without paying full price.

Host and Attend Parties

Getting together a group of kids presents an opportunity for your child to socialize and make friends. Kids typically want to invite people they like or kids they want to get to know. What they might not realize is that they can also exercise their social skills and learn how to make friends. While they most likely won’t make best friends with everyone that comes to the party, kids can leave the party with the knowledge of how to interact with and learn about others.

All children are different in how they learn how to make friends. As a parent, you can use your influence to help your kids gain necessary interaction skills that serve them well now and later in life.