International Women’s Day 2018
International Women’s Day 2018 has been really thought provoking for me, after seeing all of the inspirational stories and photographs on lots of social media platforms I began to think about my own journey. My friends through the years have called me a Supermum and an inspiration which up until recently I really did not agree with. I couldn’t see how much I had achieved or just how many obstacles I had overcome for myself and my children. I always felt a failure, I failed at relationships, I failed at my career, I lost my house, I ended up having chronic and lifelong illnesses which also impacted on my children. I have two sons with extra needs and I felt that I was failing them too. I don’t mind admitting that whilst I am writing this tears are starting to fall from my eyes.
International Women’s Day took me very much by surprise this year, to be totally honest it usually makes my feelings of failure intensify however this year I felt empowered and I wanted to share my story in the hope that it inspires other women who have been on a similar path to my own.
My early years and growing up.
I had a perfect childhood, I was one of four children and my parents were hard working people who lived for their family. They had their own stories and life hadn’t been easy for either of them but they both found happiness together on their second marriages. I was a Daddy’s girl and I absolutely adored my Dad, he attended all of my extra school activities, watched every race that I ran (I was a long distance runner and ran for my district) and he even helped me finish with a couple of boyfriends when I needed him too. We lived in a beautiful area, with real community spirit and I remember having street parties and belonging to a wider community family. We went on holidays every year, we had grandparents who lived very close to our home and we spent a lot of time with our cousins and our extended family. I was planning on joining the RAF and I was at my physical best with running at school and for the local running club. I enjoyed art, drama, my friends, partying and boys!
This is the year everything changed for me, at the end of September my whole life seemed to just stop, pivot and totally change direction. My Dad, my best friend and my role model suddenly died of a heart attack. He hadn’t been feeling well and he had gone to the doctors the same day that he died. So when I arrived home that day, I saw my Dad pegging the washing out in the garden and I asked him what the doctor had said. He told me that he had suffered a heart attack 2 weeks ago and that he now had to take things easy, he couldn’t drive and he had to take at least 6 weeks off of work. I had a first date planned for that evening and I informed my Dad that there was no way I was going out. My Mum worked in the evening at a textile company and my Dad always looked after us in the evenings. My Dad insisted that I went out and that he was fine, he kissed me on the top of my head and thanked me for asking about him as I was the only one that had remembered.
That was the last time I saw my Dad as he died later that evening at home with my younger brother and older sister when my Mum was at work. I still feel so very guilty that I left him that evening and the tears now are really beginning to fall. The next few weeks were a blur to me, my bereaved Mum was now a 49 year old widow with four children to raise on her own aged from 19 to 9 years old. I was 16 years old and I have never been able to forgive myself for not being there for my Dad when he needed me the most.
My Late Teens and into my Twenties
The next couple of years continued to be traumatic for me, the man I went on my first date with turned out to be an abuser and the following year I escaped from him ending up homeless and pregnant. My pregnancy was a bit of a roller coaster, I had awful morning sickness, then at 7 months they informed me that they would need to perform a C-Section because my baby wasn’t growing, however they changed their mind once I had packed my bag and arrived at the maternity unit. Then at 8 months I ended up being admitted to hospital with Pre-Ecampsia and that night my daughter arrived very quickly and I just had the midwife to welcome her into the world with me. I stayed with my Mum at our family home for a little while and then I moved into a Mother and Baby’s home.
This was an amazing time for me, I lived there with other young single Mum’s and I learnt to have fun again and to heal my broken heart. I made some fabulous friends, I started training as a mechanic and I had a new relationship. Sadly my Nanna, my Mum’s Mother died on my 18th birthday and my poor Mum lost her husband and Mum in less than 2 years.
My relationships with men continued to be traumatic, full of heart break and pain. I seemed to attract abusers, alcoholics, predators and cheats, my Mum’s theory being that this was due to losing my Dad at such a young impressionable age.
I finally met a man that treated me with respect, he was handsome, kind, gentle, funny and he totally understood me but he was from New Zealand! We had a whirlwind romance and after 6 weeks he had to return home as he was only in the UK for our summer and he was a wicket keeper in New Zealand so he had to return in late August. I felt he was my soul mate and that the Chrissie who had died along with her Dad had finally reached the surface again. So when I received one way tickets for my daughter and I a few months later, I packed up our home and emigrated to the other side of the world.
The Rest of my Twenties and my Thirties
During my life I have predominately worked in the care field and I can remember telling my Gran that I would be a nurse when I grew up. When choosing my electives at school I worked in an adult opportunity centre and I started having a career interest in children with extra needs. Whilst I lived in New Zealand I worked for The Special Education Service and I assisted children with learning disorders to access mainstream education. Unfortunately New Zealand did not work out but my wicket keeper and I stayed friends and are still in touch today. On my return home I decided to go back to college and train for a Higher National Diploma in business. Whilst being a full time student I also had 2 part-time jobs, both in residential homes, one for autism and one for mixed care needs.
I absolutely loved the home for adults with autism and I made some life long friends there. I was offered a full time position and I decided to change my career path which led me to leading two of the residential homes. During that time I met someone new not long after I had bought myself my first property and a few years later I had my second daughter. My millennium baby came into the world after another traumatic pregnancy bum first with a shock of chocolate brown hair and covered in bruises where they had attempted to turn her from the breach position.
During my thirties I qualified as a psychiatric nurse, lost my home, had another failed relationship and three more children. My twins were born three months prematurely after I had contracted the Citromegalovirus (CMV) and they in turn had Congential CMV, they had to fight for their lives. Unfortunately this virus was missed when I was admitted to hospital with liver failure and an enlarged spleen at 25 weeks pregnant. I was discharged and placed on bed rest as the medical team did not know what was wrong with me. Unfortunately a blood test was missed whilst I was in hospital and the Neonatal team did not know that my tiny babies had CMV and therefore they missed out on vital medication that they could only have in their first six week so life. On 26th September 2005 in the middle of the night my waters broke and we rushed into hospital, I was told not to worry as it was probably just a little leak. On examination however Amber had decided to make her way into the world and in less than ten minutes she was born, however Zack wasn’t to keen to make an entrance. They were both resuscitated and whisked away and I didn’t get to see them until nine hours later. They were both very, very poorly but incredible fighters and they had over three months of fight ahead of them. My beautiful miracle babies had not been exposed to CMV for very long and if they had been in my womb for the rest of my pregnancy their lives would look very different now. There is a whole another story about their battle, care and progress for their first few years of life but I will leave that until I write my book!
By my late thirties I was a single Mum of 5 children and one grandson, which I had the absolute honour of witnessing him enter into the world. My gorgeous eldest daughter gave birth to my grandson which I was lucky enough to be part of and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, one I will always treasure. I had my youngest and last child three weeks later, my little Cub Cub and my family was now complete.
So by the end of my thirties I had five children and the three youngest ones all have had life threatening experiences. Life’s rollercoaster had pulled up for the ride to start again!
Not long before that time I changed my current nursing position from adult intensive care to nursing children with psychiatric disorders within the Youth support Services and I began to piece my life back together again.
Apart from he death of my Dad 2013 was the worst time for me, it was a really dark, traumatic and painful year, it brought in chronic and lifelong illnesses, the end of my nursing career, my youngest son being bullied so badly he needed to be hospitalised, home schooling my three youngest children, being victimised, having my life threatened, and at the end of the year my son was diagnosed with Autism.
Incredibly during this year I set up my own business based on solving a problem for my son and the next rollercoaster ride was just about to start! This began as a distraction whilst I was placed on long term sick leave and something I could do whilst my body was trapped inside of my home. I have always been creative so I taught myself to sew sat on my lounge floor using my Mum’s sewing machine. As I learned more about sewing I bought a machine and my business was born! I progressed to renting a corner of a pet shop and then on to having my own unit. The high and lows of business life along with my health and both my son’s educational issues has nearly led me to get off the rollercoaster on several occasions. However I kept on going and I have had some incredible highs, my story has featured in several magazines and newspapers, The BBC, Forbes, The National Story Exchange and last year I won Small Business Sunday. You can read my blog about this experience here, this was the start of my mindset really changing for the better!
You can also read more of my story regarding my business journey and how it all began in the “about us” section of my website!
International Women’s Day 2018
So as I reflect on my life at the end of this inspirational day I find myself actually feeling like a Supermum and understanding why my friends call me that, it no longer sounds a foreign word that evoked so many feelings of failure and now it actually sounds like me! I feel empowered, inspirational and I can actually see just how far that I have come! My children and I have had such an incredible journey but not one of guilt, shame and pain that I used to think but one of a Mum that has tried her very best, that has beaten adversity and most of all one that has never, ever given up!
For my inspiration – my children and my grandchildren. Written for every woman that struggles, cries, fears, feels shame, hates herself and believes she is just not good enough. Keep going, the best is yet to come and there will be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!
EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON
HERE IS TO STRONG WOMEN
LET US KNOW THEM
LET US BE THEM
LET US RAISE THEM