Posts

#ToyLikeMe

There are 150 million disabled children in the world, yet so few toys that represent them.

One campaigner thought this was wrong and decided to make a stand against the biggest global toy manufacturers and won.

toy like me

#ToyLikeMe is the brainchild of Rebecca Atkinson, a journalist from London who started the campaign towards ending ‘cultural marginalisation’ and urged Lego and other toy manufacturers to better represent diverse backgrounds.

In April 2015, Rebecca, who is partially deaf and partially sighted, noticed the lack of representation in the toy industry.

She called on some fellow mothers and together they launched #ToyLikeMe to call on the global toy industry to start representing disabled children around the world.

They started a change.org petition calling on Lego to include disabled mini- figures and received over 20k signatures.

A similar one aimed at Playmobil received over 50k supporters and they responded by becoming the first global brand to back #ToyLikeMe and are working to produce a line of characters that positively represent disability for release in 2016/17.

The crowd funding page raised over £16,000 in a month and will be used to create a website that will be a resource for parents and carers to give them a one stop shop where they can find everything from cottage industries making bespoke plush teddies with hearing aids to listings of global toy brands with representative products.

#toylikeme

After 9 months of lobbying, toy giants Lego unveiled their first wheelchair using mini-figure at Nurumberg Toy Fair last month.

The figure of a young man using a wheelchair and accompanied by an assistance dog is part of a new Fun in the Park set from Lego.

Rebecca says the move by Lego “will speak volumes to children, disabled or otherwise, the world over”.

“As someone who had grown up wearing hearing aids, I remembered firsthand how it felt to be a child who never saw themselves represented by the mainstream and what that can do to a child with a disability’s self esteem. I wanted to change this for generations to come and start to get global brands like Lego, Mattel and Playmobil to include representations of disability in their products.”

“If they present a little boy in a wheelchair in a fun park setting – like they have done with this new product – they are speaking a much bigger message than just a little figure.”

“It is a hugely powerful thing for children to see. I hope Lego have realised the wonderful thing they have done. I congratulate them and I hope this is a start of a lot of incidental representation of their product because the response online has been phenomenal.”

For more information, check out ToyLikeMe’s Facebook page and crowd-funding site. 

Letter to my children

Hey bambinos,

It’s momma here, I thought I would pen you a note as you are all old enough to spend your days with your noses stuck to a phone/ipad/laptop and I know you sneak a peek at So Bad Ass from time to time.

Firstly (and always), mannnnn I love you guys so much.  Like, my heart swells and twists and pumps a little harder when I think about you.  You are my three proudest achievements, nothing I can do in my life will ever surpass the pride I feel when I know that a little bit of me and a little bit of dad managed to make these three human beings that are as mind blowingly awesome as you.

People talk about how I have coped with the past few years, all the surgeries, the hospital stays and the life changing additions and subtractions and I think they forget that you guys have been through it all too.  My heart breaks when I think about how my illness has hurt you all.  I am truly sorry that this has happened to us all, if I could have hidden it from you, I would.  I can never give you back the past few years and all the time we have lost with me in bed, I can’t replace the time you have spent visiting me in hospital, the hours that slipped away as I rest and heal and sleep.

sam cleasby family parent mother blogger

But I can thank you for it.  Bambinos, you are the best.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thank you for taking everything on board, for being accepting and loving and caring.

Thank you for asking hilariously awkward questions about my stoma and butt (never stop!)

Thank you for not being embarrassed of me (even when your friends saw a photo of me in my knickers on the internet)

Thank you for the endless cups of tea.

Thank you for the hugs.  Every one healed me a little faster.

Thank you for bringing your friends to see me in my sick bed at home and not being ashamed of me.

Thank you for giving up your free time to sit in bed with me watching terrible TV.

Thank you for making me laugh (even when it hurts my stitches) you three are the funniest human beings in the world.

Thank you for understanding.

Thank you for being you, you weird, bizarre, ridiculous, smart, funny, wonderful babies.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

I wish none of this had happened and that we could just be a normal, happy family, but I can’t change it and I just have to hope that we can gain some positive things from it all.  I know we are closer as a family, I know that your relationships with your dad have deepened so much and when I see you all together, it makes me smile.

I hope this situation has made you more open minded and accepting, I hope it has taught you patience and care and a knowledge to not judge a book by it’s cover.  I hope you are tougher for coming through the past few years and that you will learn to be more resilient, stronger and always try to find the silver lining in any situation.  (Even if that silver lining is a terrible joke, a meme about llamas or a memory of a good time).

It means so much to me that my bag doesn’t frighten or upset you, I know it was a shock in the early days, but I am so glad that you fully accept my ileostomy bag for what it is, a life saver.  After surgery, when you were all a little scared to come to close incase you hurt me, it shook me, I worried you would never want to hug me again, now I love the fact that you barely think about my bag and aren’t afraid to touch it, talk about it and even warm your hands on a very cold nighttime walk on it!! (Hahaha)

I want you to know that I am so proud of you all and the way that you have dealt with everything.  I know it was really scary that I had to go in to hospital again and it wasn’t nice to visit me and see all those tubes and wires everywhere, I know it was frightening when I wasn’t really with it because of all the medication.  You guys were awesome though, you made me laugh when you wore the sick bowls as hats and made me wear one too.  You brought me joy in those rubbish days when all I wanted was to be at home and every time I saw your faces, it reminded me to get strong quickly so I could get home to you all.

children and chronic illness ibd surgery

My bambinos, I know the past couple of months have been tough as hell.  Between my surgery and recovery, our bereavement, mine and dad’s work, your school life and the most stressful house move known to man (we’re nearly there, I promise!!!), it has been really hard and I know you have all been freaking out.  It makes me feel guilty to know you guys are stressed, I feel it is my job as a mum to protect you from stress, but unfortunately this is life and it’s a learning process for you to know that bad stuff happens, yup, even to good people.  But that’s ok.

You don’t appreciate the great times without lulls of crapness, we have had more than our fair share of crap times, I know.  But we also have something really special, we have us.  Our family is awesome, me, dad and you three flipping rock, we are just the best and we have to celebrate that.

Let’s hope that after a bad start to the year, 2016 will be beautiful.  I’m looking forward to our new home, to working in the allotment with you all, to parties and big dinners with the people we love, to your aunty, uncle and cousin visiting us from Australia, to a weekend in Manchester watching the Stone Roses, to visits to London, to galleries and exhibitions, walks in the park and cuddles on the sofa, to visits from nan and a house full of your friends, to hot tubs in the summer and ridiculous gatherings of our silly friends and especially to our family road trip to America!!

sam cleasby mum parent blogger

The thing I look forward to the most is seeing you lot grow and thrive, you are all getting so grown up and it is scary to think that you aren’t babies any more.  Two of you are teens and one will start secondary school this year!! You are all dealing with your own struggles, and bambinos, I know it is SO HARD! You are filled with hormones and emotion and are learning who you are as people, you are becoming the best young men and women that I have ever met.  Dad and I may be tough on you, we nag about work ethics and housework, manners and respect, it is only because we love you more than anything and we can see how close that horizon of adulthood is to you.  We can see it nearing day by day that in no time at all you will be leaving school, going to uni, travelling the world and leaving home.

But let’s not rush it eh? Let’s enjoy our time together because after all the s**t (yes, mum swore) we have been through, we deserve something good.

I love you bambinos

 

Mum x

Distance

Apologies for not being about much over the past few weeks, as much as i adore blogging and writing for So Bad Ass, as a mum of three I have to ensure bills can get paid and and so I have been super busy with other work.  It has been pretty lovely work though I have to say! I have been working as an artist for arts group Responsible Fishing UK running their creative workshops at Haven sites all over the UK, the project is called Camp Cardboard and entails hundreds of cardboard boxes and working with kids to transform huge spaces into giant dens/castles/boats/zoos/FBI headquarters/shops/homes/prisons, basically anything the children can imagine!  It has been brilliant fun but has meant quite a bit of time away from home, Timm and the kids.

My husband Timm is a director for Sheffield music festival Tramlines, which means that his summer has been jam packed with preparation and running of the event.  These things mean that our kids have been super busy and passed between the two of us as we attempted to resolve all childcare over the summer holidays.  We are ever so lucky that all our jobs are freelance, versatile and child friendly and on most occasions they can come along with one of us.  I am ever grateful to my mum who picks up the slack when we can’t make it work.

sam cleasby mum parent blogger

And so I suppose today’s post is about distance, both a physical distance and an emotional one.  Timm and I both have what we laughingly call Portfolio Careers, this basically means we are both freelance and work our butts off at any job that comes in! Timm is a photographer, he runs Responsible Fishing arts group, he is both director and main stage organiser at Tramlines and he teaches at a university for their Music Industry course.  I write for publications and websites, work for RF, help run the photography business, do public speaking and I am writing a book!  This makes for crazy scheduling but it does mean that we both work from home and both have time with our children and eachother.  Honestly, we would both like it to calm down some, the manic diary planning and time away from each other is hard going and we would both like a little more time.

I am not complaining.  Two years ago when I had my first surgery I couldn’t imagine how life could be something good, I was so low, so physically and emotionally broken.  I felt like I was in a black hole.  And so for now to have the physical ability to be working and traveling and doing things that I love, it is a real blessing.

love letter to yourself ileostomy jpouch ibd self happiness

The events of my life have made me a pretty tough cookie, yet I realise that my emotional strength relies very much on a connection with my husband.  I can get through ANYTHING as long as I have him with me in my heart.  I know this sounds so corny and feel free to make vomiting noises whilst you read, but after everything we have been through, our relationship has just solidified, our bond is so firm now and the connection between us is better than ever before.

So when we have weeks on end where one of us is working away, when the free days are spent heaping time and love on the kids as we deal with the working parent guilt, when we both have so much on our plates, it is so easy to feel distant and alone.  We have had lots of day to day stresses of late, cars breaking down magnificently, bills to be paid, plans to be laid and so time has been spent on all those rubbish grown up things.  The physical distance is one thing, but we have both had an emotional distance too as we both just try and wade through all our work load.

Through writing my book, I am churning up lots of feelings and emotions about my past, I feel quite fragile right now as all these events from my past come floating up to the surface and I have to deal with them all over again and this is really adding to my anxiety levels.  I am so chuffed to be writing the book, but I had not planned at all for this tsunami of feelings that it would bring with it!

Last week we finally got time to sit down and have a proper chat, we both talked about how little we have seen one another and how we felt we hadn’t connected properly for weeks. (Not a euphemism!!) Isn’t it amazing how a good talk can make everything feel a million times better?  The darkness and anxiety I was going through lifted immediately when I was with my boy, my shoulders raised and my head cleared when we had the time to discuss all that was going on.  Life just feels better.

rock n roll wedding

It is so easy to get caught up in life.  In all that adult, grown up crap that none of us really want to be dealing with but we just have to.  It is so easy to get into a rut, to go day in, day out in a monotonous grey drabness.  It is so easy to get so deep into your work that you forget to look up and see the colours around you.  So this week, take a moment, look around you at the people who matter.  Go for a walk with your kids, have a nice meal with your partner, go out with your friends.  Do something to reconnect with the most important people in your life, do something to close the distance that the boring stuff causes.

This week, go do something beautiful with someone wonderful.

 

 

Sam xxx

 

 

Why I don't want my daughter to pledge her virginity

Over in America there are these frankly bizarre things called Purity Balls, no, it’s not a cleanser for testicles but an event in which young girls pledge to their fathers that they won’t have sex before marriage.  Within the conservative christian movement, these purity balls are spreading and now happen in 48 states across the USA with daughters committing to “live pure lives before God” to their fathers.

The images of these balls show young girls dressed in white, like mini brides, standing by their fathers, wearing suits akin to a groom.  The ceremonies have a similar structure to a traditional wedding with vows, dinners and speeches with the average age of the girls being 12 – 13, the kind of age where puberty is becoming more apparent.

The Christian Centre, which holds purity balls in Illinois states on their website; “We hope you will join us as we encourage young women to commit to moral purity” claiming it “holds high the banner of purity in the midst of a culture that destroys it.”

I have issues with this.  LOTS OF ISSUES.

Where are the purity balls for young boys to pledge their virginities to their mothers?  Or is it just the thought of women as sexual beings that appalls society?  Why is it not as important to these folk that their sons stay ‘pure’ till marriage?

Let’s think about that word ‘pure’, the opposite being what? Purity with regards to sexuality assumes that sex is an impure act.  That being in a sexual relationship before marriage means you are not perfect.  What a load of shit! Sex is not dirty or wrong, sex is sometimes a beautiful act between people who love and trust one another, it is sometimes a physical act of pleasure and nothing more, and yes, sometimes it can be about violence, power or ignorance.

Let’s teach our children about the joy of sex and what a wonderfully, deliciously perfect thing it can be in the right circumstances.  I don’t want my daughter to pledge us her virginity, I want her to pledge to us that she will come to us if she needs advice or support.  I want her to pledge that she will accept education around pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.  I want her to pledge to us that she understands that sex within a relationship of trust, care and love is bloody wonderful.  I want her to pledge to us that she enjoys her sexuality and knows that any choices about her body belong soley to her and that she should never let others shame her.

We talk a lot in our home, we openly discuss things that in my youth would never have been spoken about. We tell our children that even if something feels embarrassing, that we will answer their questions and always tell the truth.  The idea of forcing them to swear to us that they won’t have sex before marriage seems crazy!

I can’t help but think that a child that pledges this at 12 has no idea of how she will feel at 16, 17 or into her 30’s and 40’s! Many women now choose either to marry later in life or not at all.  For this generation of women, marriage is not the be all and end all it was in the past and the idea that women must ‘save themselves’ is outdated, sexist and upsetting.  ‘Must’ being the operative word there, if women CHOOSE not to have sex before marriage then that is up to them, but it should be their choice and theirs alone.

I can’t help but think that girls who are pushed into making this pledge will face problems as they get older and have the natural sexual urges that we all do.  Sex then becomes a thing of guilt, shame and fear.  If at 16 or older (the legal age limit in the UK) they choose to have sex, they could feel a sense of guilt, an inability to speak to their parents, a fear of accessing sexual health clinics.  I fear it will result in a higher rate of teenage pregnancies and STD’s as well as a disconnect from their families.

It also completely denies the idea that these girls may be gay, trans or any form of sexual identity other than heterosexual

Sexual education is key to raising children into happy, well rounded and confident adults.  My education doesn’t differ that much between my sons and daughter.  They all get the same advice, we talk about the physical act of sex, the biology of it all.  But far more importantly, we talk about the emotional and social aspects of sex, about respect, trust, pleasure and love.

I was raised in a Catholic family and so shame and guilt were par the course! But I want my children to be raised knowing the joy of sex, the pleasure gained from sharing a deeply personal act of love.  I want them to know it is special, but that they have to make their own choices once they are 16, (and I do stress the age thing, not just because of the legal side, but because of the emotional maturity needed to deal with a sexual relationship).

I want my daughter to know that any slut shaming she faces is not ok.  That her body belongs to her, that I hope she makes good, healthy decisions and looks after her body, and any negativity she faces for expressing her sexuality is not ok, but unfortunately ingrained into some sectors of society and says more about them than her.

I want my boys to know the same values, but I feel I have to push harder against the shitty parts of life where women are taken for granted and so I hope they will grow into men who know that every relationship should be nurtured, that sex is about trust, pleasure and joy not power or violence.  That their gender doesn’t allow them a carte blanche to treat others badly.

I want them all to know that whatever their sexual orientation, that we will love and accept them and though I sometimes casually use the word ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend’, what I mean is ‘partner’ and as long as they are happy, then we will be happy.

Above all, I want them all to know that they can speak to me or their dad and that we will try our best to accept, guide and support them in any questions or difficulties they face.  I don’t want a pledge of virginity, I want a mutual respect and love between us that means they can come to me if they need me.

These purity balls seem an outdated and irresponsible idea, let’s stop shaming our young adults into an inability to express their sexuality and help guide them through the minefield of emotions surrounding sex, feelings and relationships.

 

Sam x

 

Image by David Magnusson

Chronic Illness and Parenting – am I a shit mum because of my shit disease?

I’ve been thinking a lot about how my illness has affected my children and the relationship between us. I have three kids and every day they amaze me with their intelligence, kindness, character and awesomeness.

Till 2010 my husband’s job took him away from home for up to nine months of the year. So my kids (born 2000, 2003 and 2005) and I were this super close gang. The four of us were together all the time and though, of course Timm was a huge part of all our lives, it often felt like I was a single parent.

Even when my Ulcerative Colitis was bad, we would still be this team as we had no other choice! We had help from my mum, sister and friends but we got through it together. The kids didn’t really understand, which I’m glad of. They just knew that sometimes I was poorly and we would have film nights where we all slept in one bed and hung out. It meant I could rest and know they were are safe with me.

Timm stopped working away in 2010 and it changed our family massively and for the better. The kids loved him being at home and we started our photography business together. It made all our lives better.

When I was at my sickest in August 2013, I thanked my lucky stars that his job meant he was home to care for the children and give them the support they needed. I had a few weeks in hospital and then came home without a colon but with an added ileostomy bag. They had been so worried whilst I was in hospital and their concerns upset me. I hated that my illness was making them so sad.

Then when I got home, my bag and scars, the staples holding my body together, my tiredness and weakness scared them. They became afraid to hug me. Fearful they would hurt me. And to this day, though totally understandable, it is the toughest thing I’ve gone through. My babies being too afraid to hug me.

Fastforward eighteen months and they’ve learnt so much. My second surgery took away my bag and replaced it with my Jpouch. Though they knew more, and were less freaked out this time, they suddenly had to learn to live with a mum, who once again would run out of the room to dash to the toilet. Who couldn’t eat certain foods, who takes medication that cause drowsiness.

sam cleasby mother parenting

This journey I have been on has been tough on me, but my kids have been through it too. They’ve had to see their mum disappear onto hospital wards for weeks at a time. They all freak out when I have even a scheduled clinic visit now, terrified I won’t come home for weeks. They have had to learn so much and I truly believe that though it’s tough, and I wish they didn’t have to go through it, that they’ve come away as more empathetic, kinder, more open humans.

The problem with chronic illness is that it isn’t about a few weeks and then life going back to ‘normal’, the illness IS life and it’s learning to reassess how you live this odd life that you never planned for.

Currently I have awful fatigue, sleep problems, anxiety, pain, toilet and diet issues. I take high dose codiene every day that make me drowsy. I struggle to wake before 9am. I know I am tetchy, self absorbed, distant and sometimes just absent.

The kids have had to lean on Timm both emotionally and physically. This isn’t a bad thing, he’s their dad!! But for me, it’s a struggle to see him take over all my roles. This is such a selfish thing to say. The kids are fine and so is Timm, so much so that I occasionally doubt whether I’m necessary at all!!

sam cleasby mum parenting blog

This is selfish and all a bit me, me, me, but I’m just going to blurt it out anyway…

It hurts that they go to their dad instead of me. It hurts that they want him to do bedtimes, it hurts to know they ask him for advice instead of me. It hurts to feel left out. It hurts to feel my illness is a barrier between us.

I’m scared they’ll think I don’t care. I’m scared they think I’m lazy. I’m scared that when my head is so full of my own pain, anxiety and distress that they will think I wouldn’t drop it all in a second for their needs. I’m scared they won’t need me anymore.

See, told you it was selfish!!!

Because when I put my brain into gear and tell my heart to shut up, I am so proud of my family! I’m so happy to see Timm having this amazing bond with the kids that he missed out on when they were small. I’m proud to see them growing into confident, self assured, wonderful young people.

When I see that Timm has learnt to plait hair because I can’t function in the mornings and Ellie needs help, my heart swells. When Thom tells his teacher that it’s daddy who helps him with all his homework, I thank the day he stopped touring. When Charlie has an awe inspiring role model of a dad in his life, I am thankful and blessed.

Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t angels, and my illness makes me blame myself whenever one of them does something wrong. I can’t help but think that if only I was more present and full in their lives at the moment, that they wouldn’t have made that mistake.

sam cleasby mum parenting blog

When I tell them off and perhaps shout a little louder than necessary because I’m in pain. Or I’m too short with them because I’m desperate to go to the loo. Or when I’m distant and perhaps seem cold because I haven’t slept a full night for two years and I’m so exhausted I could drop. All those things swirl through my head for days, just worrying me that their childhoods are being scarred by my illness.

I just hope that they understand that my illness has played a big part of all our lives, but that I have always loved them, that they are always the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing before I sleep, that they are the best things I ever did and always will be.

I hope one day I can explain to them that I wish it could be different, that being ill is tough but feeling like I fail them is tougher.  I hope they will know how much they mean to me.

And that I’m sorry that there were times that my illness may have hidden these truths from them.

Sam xx

 

 

 

Talking to children about their weight

We all want the very best for our kids, we want them to be happy and healthy. But what about if you have a child who gains weight easily? How do you best broach the subject without making their weight an issue?

One of my three kids gains weight easily, all three eat the same things and live similar lives yet two of them are beanpoles who don’t have an ounce of body fat and one is bigger and puts on weight quickly and easily. I’ve googled and asked around and can’t find an answer to how to deal with this.

I don’t want weight to become something they think about but equally I don’t want them to be overweight and have to deal with all the issues that surround being overweight, both health wise and socially. As part of my blog I am all about loving your body whatever size you are, but I do feel it’s my job as a mum to make sure that while their eating and exercise habits are under my control that they are as healthy as possible.

But the line is a difficult one to tread. I want my children to love themselves, to be happy, healthy and live good lives. And as hypocritical as this may seem coming from an overweight woman, I don’t want them to have weight issues. So how do you talk about weight without making it an emotional and mental issue?

We have tried talking in general terms about health. About eating healthy, colourful and tasty foods and limiting sweeties. We have talked about how we need energy to move around and be fit and that if we take on more energy than we burn that it is turned to fat stores. But this hasn’t sunk in to a child who will eat half a packet of biscuits when I’m not looking. Or the child who only wants to sit and watch tv and play on a DS. A child who is classed as overweight.

Tonight it came to a head after my child ate a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to himself. I had said they could have a little bit each which two of them did, the third ate the rest and when I saw the tub had all gone, I admit I was annoyed and the awful words came out of my mouth “this is why you’re getting fat”

The child’s face crumpled and I felt like shit. I sat and cuddled and told them I loved them more than anything. That they were beautiful and awesome and I thought they were fantastic. I said that I was sorry if I’d made them feel bad and that my intention was only to make sure they grew up healthy. I feel terrible. I feel like I have scarred my child and given him a weight issue.

Am I a total hypocrite to write about loving the body you are in whilst not wanting my kids to be overweight?!

The reality is that being overweight isn’t healthy, it causes health and social problems and I would rather my children not have to deal with those things through their lives. If there is a way to ensure they are the fittest they can be then that is what I want. But am I causing problems by bringing it up?

We talked tonight about how everyone needs to eat yummy healthy food and that exercise is about doing the fun things you enjoy and getting moving. We talked about starting swimming again weekly, something we stopped with my surgery and we made a plan that we would walk the dog together every day and it would be ‘our thing’.

You see some children who are very overweight and I wonder whether parents need to be a little harder on diet and exercise. Is it mean to discuss the child’s weight and risk them feeling sad, or is it worse to say nothing and allow them to gain weight?

After my almighty gaff, my child and I had a chat and lots of hugs. I used lots of positive words and we talked about all the fabulous qualities. Then tonight my kid came in and said “mum I’ve made a plan!” I was shown a list of all the fun things that could be done instead of sitting on a DS ( which we agreed should be limited to one hour a day) including den building, walking the dog, playing with lego, swimming and writing stories. There was also a discussion on what healthy meals we could all eat together. I’m hoping that our chat has made a positive impact and that my awful comment can be forgotten.

So dear readers, have I screwed up my amazingly awesome son by using the f word?

Do you agree that we are responsible for our children’s weight? Or should we allow our kids to settle at their own desired weight?

Is discussing weight going to cause problems with self esteem and confidence?

Please comment and let me know what you think because I am at a total loss and feel like the worst mum ever. I’m so confused as to the best way to deal with this situation and would appreciate any advice or comments.

I’m aware this is an emotional and contentious issue and hope I haven’t offended anyone as that was never my goal. Equally please be kind and know that though I have messed up tonight, I’m just a mum trying to do her best.

Love Sam x

Happy Mothers Day

I was 19 when I had my first child, many people said it was too young.  That Timm and I were idiots who couldn’t cope with being parents…  We probably were idiots.  But the minute that not so little bundle was put in our arms it all changed.  We realised what the meaning of life was, we had created a human being and it was amazing.  Ellie and Thom followed in the next four years and our family was complete.

sam and timm cleasby

I love being a mum, yes I may complain about the difficulties, the constantly messy house, teenage dramas and general stress of having a family but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  My kids are the best achievement of my life, they are the thing I am most proud of and three of the most important people in the world.

My heart beats for them and Im continually blown away that between myself and that wonderfully weird husband of mine, we managed to create these three perfect, unique, bizarre, clever, funny, kind, talented, beautiful children.

They are the reason I get up in the morning and the reason I fight so damn hard to be healthy and positive.  The reason I will go through surgery, medication and recovery so I can be the best momma I possibly can for them.

20140330-103745.jpg

Life is fragile, it can be so brief.  Hold your loved ones close today, tell them you love them.

 

Happy Mothers Day xxxxxxxxxxx

>

IWD talk at Barnsley Town Hall – Body Image and Self Esteem

On Saturday 8th March I was invited to talk at Barnsley Town Hall as part of International Women’s Day by Experience Barnsley.  My talk was about my journey of ten years of chronic illness, surgery and living with a stoma.  I talked about Ulcerative Colitis and how my colectomy and ileostomy affected my life.

It was about raising awareness, trying to stop poo being taboo and relating my story to the average woman.  It was about body image, self esteem, confidence and positivity and how we need to both learn how to love ourselves as women and how to pass these things onto the young women of future generations.

Have a watch and please feel free to leave me a comment telling what you think.

Thanks for watching!

Sam xx

A message for my teenage son…

To my lovely, awesome, sometimes pain in the arse teenage son, here are some life lessons you should probably take on board.  Then pass on to your lovely, awesome, sometimes pain in the arse teenage friends…

1. Just be nice.

This has always been lesson number one in this house.  Shows of brute strength or masculinity mean little, but by following the rule of ‘just be nice’ you won’t go far wrong in life.  Hold doors for others, use your manners, show kindness, respect and courtesy.  Seriously, people like that.  It will help you go through life smoothly.  Don’t be a bully.  Don’t intimidate, hurt, humiliate or taunt others.  Its not cool and if I catch you being a bully, no matter how old you are, I WILL call you out on it and it won’t end well.

2. Clean, cook, do laundry.

Dude, these are just life skill you are going to need.  It may seem ok now to step over the crap in your room, eat cereal straight from the box and ‘clean’ your clothes by giving them a shake and perhaps a bit of body spray but as you get older, its just gross and a bit sad.  You will feel good about yourself, independent and as you get older you will definitely impress the ladies or gents that come into your life.

3. Aim before you shoot.

Seriously, its not difficult.  Lift the toilet seat, aim penis, have a wee.  Pissy toilet seats, floors, WALLS for gods sake are GROSS.  Its not ok.  Also if you poo, clean the bowl.  Its not rocket science.  I guarantee that no partner finds cleaning another persons bodily fluids from a toilet bowl sexy.

4. Don’t take photos of your bodily parts.

It is NEVER a good idea. Ever.  Unless you want me, your father, your grandmother and your teachers to see that photo of your penis, don’t send it to anyone.  In fact, don’t even take the picture.  Its stupid, dangerous and when you become a rock star or prime minister it WILL come back to haunt you.

5. Real women don’t look like the ones on TV or magazines.

Most women have body hair, yep legs, armpits, genitals.  Its normal.  Get over it.  Women’s breasts and genitals come in all shapes and sizes.  The average woman in the UK is a size 16.  The size 0 celebrities are not the norm.  Whatever size your future partner is, treat them with love and respect.   If you are lucky enough for a woman to allow you to see or touch her body, be respectful and grateful!

6. Sex is about trust and respect

Media and peer pressure may make it seem that sex means nothing and that everyone is doing it with everyone.  But sex is a beautiful sharing of love, and sex without trust and respect is crap.  Its not about notches on bedposts, its about having an amazing time with someone really special.  No one wants to think they are another in a long line of partners.  Ill also remind you now that sex under 16 is against the law.  Remember that.

Im hoping it will be a long while before you have sex.  But when you do…

Use a condom.  Every time.  Yes, every time.  Even if she is on the pill.  Or its the second sunday on the month.  Or the world is ending.  Every time.  Without fail.

No means No.  There is no grey area.  You don’t need to try and figure it out.  If the girl is drunk or high, that too is a no.

7. If you mess up, tell me.

I love you dearly, but sometimes you are a bloody idiot and make mistakes.  I know you will make mistakes because I did, and so did your dad and everyone else in the world.  If you mess up, tell me.  No matter how awful it seems I promise I will help you and make things better.  I may shout at you first, but it won’t be half as bad as if I find out later.

If you mess up and need me,  I will be there, if that is 3am on a sunday morning, or when I am busy at work, poorly or in the midst of my own problems, tell me and I will be there.

And if you can’t tell me or your dad, tell an adult you trust.

8. Be a feminist.

A feminist is someone who believes that people are truly equal whatever their gender.  You believe this.  Be a feminist and proud. End of.

While we are at it, don’t ever be homophobic, sexist or racist.  I know you aren’t so never fall into the trap of thinking that a bit of casual, comedic bigotry is ok.  Because it isn’t.

9. Have a shower.

Clean body, hair, teeth, fingernails, clothes… Clean everything.  Its about respect for your own body.  Taking care of your appearance makes you feel good, it gives a good impression to others and is a really important basic life skill.  Want a partner? Chicks (or guys!) don’t dig B.O…

10. Choose your own path.

Don’t follow the crowd, think about what you want in life, what makes you happy and go for it.  With hard work, perseverance and a good attitude you can honestly achieve ANYTHING you want in life.  Those ‘cool’ kids in school who think its clever to cause trouble, mess about and not get on with work won’t be so cool in 10 years time when you see them working in McDonalds.  Be unique, be an individual and be yourself, everyone else is taken.

Stand up for what you believe in and speak out if you witness something that you know is wrong.  Be a strong person who can be a lone voice, its not always easy to be the person who shouts no in a baying crowd of yeses. If you believe in it with your heart and soul, then speak out.

And here ends my sermon, just a few words of wisdom from your old mother to a lad who believes he already  knows it all.  The years ahead of us may be tough, we may stumble and fall, we may fall out, we may fight, we may become so frustrated with one another that we can’t believe we are related!  But thats just what coming through teenage years is, remember that no matter what, I love you and you, my son, are bloody awesome!

 

Love Mum x

My son is so bad ass…

This is my awesome 13 year old son and his band at their first gig in the school hall, I am SO proud of him!

You will definitely be seeing more of them in the future!

Feedback