Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s supermum and supergirls!
Hi again all and thanks for reading!
I want to talk about my wonderful wife and daughters in this post and pay tribute to the fantastic women they are and also the huge amounts of time, effort and love they put into this family of ours.
I first met my wife when we both attended a theatre workshop in Newcastle which was running during the summer break from college. We were both studying performing arts at different colleges in Newcastle at the time and it was fate or luck or whatever you believe in that brought us together. I had never originally wanted to go to the workshop and it was a friend who pushed me and pushed me to go. I later found that the same was the case for my wife as well! We got talking and, I know this sounds so corny and cheesy, I fell in love at first sight. There was something about her that made me feel like I had known her for years and she had this beautiful smile which formed cute dimples in her cheeks. I was well and truly smitten. Now the perfect scenario would have been for her to have fell in love with me instantly but it wasn’t the case I am afraid. I remember thinking I don’t have a chance with this gorgeous woman so I had resigned myself to the fact that nothing would ever happen. She had a daughter at the time and had just come out of a serious relationship and here was this 17 year old (soon to be 18 year old) guy crushing on her really bad.
I knew that I had to at least try to get a date though as if I didn’t I would be kicking myself for the rest of my life, so a friend and I got talking and hatched a plan which would eventually lead to me being alone with her. I know, again so very corny!!!! Anyway as it happens I called her up and asked her out on a date and to my surprise she said yes! To say I was happy was a slight understatement until the realisation set in that I would have to try and work my charm on this beauty.
Now I have never been the most confident of guys around women so I was so very nervous when I went to meet her but that soon melted away when I got to talking to her again. We talked and talked and talked. It is something that has carried on into our married life as we often can sit up into the early hours of the morning talking about absolutely anything and I absolutely love the fact I can share absolutely everything with my wife. It was my birthday that weekend and I was turning 18 so I asked her if she wanted to come to a party down at my Dad’s house. I admit now that I was a little sly because I didn’t tell her that these family gatherings were exactly that, the whole family gathered together. My grandmother, aunties, uncles, sisters and brothers were all there which I think gave her a bit of a shock. Though I am told not as much of a shock as my dad and step-mum had seeing me walk across the street in a black tie-dye shirt like something out of Woodstock. It wasn’t that bad……..honest!
It wasn’t long after we got together that we moved into a flat and that was the beginning of the best time of my life. She already had a daughter from a previous relationship whom I fell in love with immediately. She was the cutest, most intelligent little girl and she had a great little laugh that could light up a room. It was an absolute joy to see her at the weekends and she instantly became ‘my daughter’ even though biologically that wasn’t so. I have to say at this point I give all credit to my family as she was instantly looked at as a grand-daughter, niece, cousin etc.
I proposed to my wife 3 times in total! Each time she said yes and that may sound a little strange but it was because I couldn’t believe it was happening so I kept asking her to make sure she wanted to spend the rest of her life with me. I proposed the first time after we had spent a really nice, cosy night in together while looking after her mum’s house while she was on holiday. The second time was when we went down to buy the engagement rings and the third time was up on stage after I had finished performing with the band I was in at the time. I still can’t believe I had a ‘Yes’ 3 times!
The day of our wedding came and I was so nervous. I was only 20 and a lot of people think that is too young to be married but I say that when you know it is right then you know it is right. We got married in a registry office in Newcastle city centre and I can remember feeling so nervous about messing things up. It could partially have been the fact that people had been plying me with Jack Daniels at a bar just before as well. Naughty I know but how could I refuse ? I managed to compose myself but I still made a mistake and went to put the ring on the wrong hand!!! We had a wonderful party afterwards and ended up the night tired but extremely happy. We had our honeymoon in Malta and that is where we fell in love with the country and the people.
In early 2000 my wife told me that she was pregnant. I was over the moon as that meant our little family of the three of us was going to grow and I loved the thought of having another kid running around. Manga arrived in September of that year and I remember feeling so nervous throughout the labour but the moment she was born I fell in love all over again. There was my little girl. She was beautiful and I remember crying with the emotion and pure joy. Every day since then has been an adventure and we have had our ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Then in 2003 my wife told me I was going to be a dad again. We were so happy, a little worried as financially we weren’t in the best shape, that we would have another addition to our lovely family. We went through a normal pregnancy but then when my wife went into labour things got a bit complicated which I have blogged about previously. That was the day that my wife transformed into supermum and my daughters turned into supergirls.
My youngest daughter, Pretzel (now you can see why we call her that!) has complex special needs which means she functions on a level many years below her age. She has just turned 9 this May and she has a developmental level of around 2 years old. She suffers with Epilepsy, has hypermobile joints (we call her our ‘pretzel baby’), visual problems and hearing problems. She relies on us for absolutely everything, is non-communicative and has no comprehension skills or awareness of danger. This means she has to be watched very closely 24/7/365.
Ever since the day Pretzel was born she has had one thing go wrong or another with her health and at one point I am sure we were going to be on the hospital staff Christmas card list because we were in there so often. But guaranteed every time she had a stay in hospital my wife would be there (often having to sleep in a chair as beds were hard to come by) without a complaint at having to do it. There were some grumblings every now and there because she would get bored or fed up of the lack of sleep. Each time, Manga would come with me to the hospital to see everything was O.K with her baby sister and she would never moan or complain about being there. I think often siblings can be forgotten in the huge role they play in the life of a child with special needs. There is a lack of support and information given to the whole family unit but that is something for another blog maybe.
As Pretzel has grown her needs have changed constantly and we have had to try and adapt as a family, often without warning, to a lot of stressful situations. On a few occasions we have almost lost Pretzel to seizures from her epilepsy and also from pneumonia at one point as well. Throughout all of this there has never been any complaint from our other daughters or my wife about what is happening or what they have to do to accommodate the changes.
I want to take this chance to go into detail about how my girls are supergirls. Manga has never had a birthday party, she has rarely had sleepovers (only when Pretzel is in respite), she has had to change schools and move house and occupy herself at times when we have been tired, stressed or busy looking after her sister. Not once has she complained about any of this (until recently and understandably) even though deep inside I know that it must have been hard for her. On top of all of this she has helped look after her sister and would fetch things like nappies, wipes, cups of juice and toys just to keep her little sister occupied. She still does it to this day without us asking her to and I truly appreciate and love her for that. Jaffa has also done all of these things including changing the nasty nappies and all without a flicker of resentment.
This is what makes my daughters the supergirls that they truly are!
We just about had all that under control when unfortunately my back gave out and I became disabled myself. I suffer from crippling pain and limited mobility. I don’t know if it was exacerbated by the fact we had to carry Pretzel up and down stairs for so long or trying to bathe her which is usually a two person task in itself but it has resulted in me taking a whole cocktail of medications just to be able to get out of bed in the mornings.
Now I have to say I might be a bit different to most guys but I have always felt that I have to do my share to look after the house and I was always pulling my weight with household chores. I would vacuum, dust, polish, tidy up, wash and dry dishes, cook and attempt ironing clothes (I am truly hopeless, to the point Zanna said I am unteachable!). All of this was to help out while Zanna was dealing with Pretzel but obviously when my back went out that all changed. I can’t dust or polish, dry dishes or cook any more as the strain on my back is far too much. I do try to cook as much as I can as I truly love doing it and I try and vacuum as much as I can just to help out but my wife has now taken on these jobs as well as everything else that she was doing as well. This as well as sorting out my medications into pots so I remember to take them (a side effect of the medications I am on is forgetfulness) and also massaging my back, legs and feet to make sure I don’t get too stiff. She drives me to appointments and pushes my wheelchair around the shops when we get the chance to be out. All the time she never complains or moans, she just simply gets on with it and that is even when we have only had 1-2 hours sleep if we are lucky.
This and more is what makes my wife a supermum!
I want to say this to you my beautiful wife:
Zanna, I love you more and more every day, you are my best friend, my love and my everything. The reason I am here today is because of your strength, your love and your support. You helped me through some dark times where I thought I never would come out of the other side but like the angel that you are you took my hand and guided me through and showed me the way. I owe you everything, I want to give you everything you deserve for being the wonderful, loving and caring person that you are. You have given me some of the best gifts that can be given, happiness, love, a family and all I can offer in return is my heart and my undying love.
To my darling girls:
You have had to deal with things that others your age can’t even comprehend. You have dealt with it with grace, composure, patience and love. You are growing into fine examples of young women and your strength and resolve are unmatched. I know that you will go into the world before you with a sense of morals, understanding and compassion that will lead you into many great things. I love you all so much and there will never be a single day that goes by where I don’t worry about you but in the back of my mind I know you are strong enough to deal with anything that comes your way.
To my darling SWAN:
You came into this world not asking for the difficulties that you have but you have shown us on more than one occasion that you are a fighter and love to prove people wrong in their assumptions. You have taught me more in your life time than I have ever learned in mine. You have made me a better person, more compassionate, more understanding, more patient and more determined. Every day I have had with you is a blessing and I feel lucky to have been given the chance to love you and care for you as much as I do. You are a star, you are a SWAN in both name and grace and I love you more than words can say. Keep proving them wrong chicken, show them just what you can do my little pretzel girl!
Sorry for the long post again. I did warn everyone when I started this blog that I tend to waffle on and I can lose track sometimes but I hope you have enjoyed an insight into the fantastic women in my family and just how super they really are.
Until next time, Stay Safe!