In our house Easter is a welcome break from school and work, and family time. This year we are going to see alot of family as there is a reunion happening for my Granny Buster’s 100th birthday on Easter Monday.Granny is in the pretty advanced stages of dementia, so it’s unlikely she will come, or if she does will recognise any of us. It seems fitting though that as we are celebrating her 100 year life, and probably the end of her life in the next few years,  the church is celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and the birth of a new religion, social movement and new understanding of how God works.

The idea of life after death I think is tricky to accept, but as a Christian I’ve had some glimpses of this, which make me believe it does exist. I pray that Granny will be at peace when she dies, and is released from her current ill-health.  I think when the disciples met with Jesus on the road to Emmaus on Easter Sunday, they would have really believed in life after death for the first time. The only difference is they didn’t realise it was him to start with, so he must have appeared either different looking or in a way that didn’t instantly mark him out to them. It was through his actions, his words and his manner with them that they knew who it was. If you have lost someone, it’s their touch, their presence and their words that you miss.

As a child I really couldn’t understand why Jesus had to die, why the world would hate something so positive. In his brief 3 years teaching, people were cured from ill-health, demons driven out, hope restored. It has to be a political issue I think, that the establishment were threatened by his message of peace and hope, and that it was almost too good to be true.

Another event taking place this Easter..  My cousin Hamish’s daughter Mia has Batten Disease, which is a terminal illness, and rather than just trying to get by, they are campaigning to raise awareness. This year on March 31 they are asking people to bounce for batten and repost their photos on twitter with #bounce4batten (for more information go to www.bounce4batten.com) I like the campaign, as it’s a celebration of life, rather than focusing on death, and I think this is part of the message of Easter. While it’s hard to understand why God allows bad things to happen, why children have to die, it’s also possible to focus on the hope of a life lived, and the essence of that person living on in heaven.

Mothering Sunday

We had a fantastic day on Sunday, well I say we, I mean I did. I was given flowers at church, cards made a Beavers, school and nursery, and a bar of chocolate to boot. The service was awesome at church, the children led the worship, and I went to my mums afterwards, who made me lunch, took the kids to the park and let me have a snooze in front of the fire! Wrong way round I’m sure, but was really amazing to have a rest.

Today we continued thinking about mothering sunday, as me and mum took a trip out together. In July 1974 my older sister Katherine Harriet Nightingale died aged 3 1/2. She would have been 4 in January 1975, and it was 40 years last year since she died. My daughter turned 4 this year, so it’s been a tricky time for me.

Today my mum and me visited the place where she was killed in a car accident in 1974. It was emotionally really exhausting but I also felt really pleased to see for myself where it had happened. It helped me come to terms with the tragedy of it as an accident, as the place it happened, was right in front of a church, in a tiny hamlet, on a quiet country road.

Mum planted a primula in the graveyard next to the road, where she was killed. It was a plant she’d been given for Mothering Sunday and I’d brought a photo, and flowers to lay by the side of the road. After we’d said our goodbyes we decided to go into the church to have a look, and there was a prayer tree for mother’s day, and so we left some prayers for Kate, and I left the photo and a biography of her short life that I’d written there as well. I’m convinced for some reason that someone at the church still remembers the accident, so I left my contact details in case they need to get in touch.

I thought I would cry buckets and I am maybe having a delayed reaction but I actually feel really pleased to have been able to go with my mum to say goodbye.. I don’t think anyone gets over losing a child, but you become a different person instead.

The last few days I’ve been thinking that mothering is more of a verb than a noun. You don’t have to be someone’s biological mother to have a big impact on their lives, and we can all be mothered by lots of people. My husband does his fair share of that in our house and today my mum needed me as much as I needed her. Close family are going through the process to become approved to adopt, and they are parents in waiting, as much as any pregnant “couple”.  I’ve been invited to a party to celebrate the anniversary of a friend’s adoption. It seems fitting to celebrate when she became a mum.

Let’s play

I am currently helping out at our local playgroup, and learning alot about childcare. It’s a huge industry, and has alot of red-tape, bureaucracy like any other, and the focus on safeguarding is of course key. We run sessions in a church hall and we met this week with the vicar to discuss the rent, and had a committee meeting to look at our next fund-raiser. We are currently looking at changing the legal status of the organisation to reduce the financial liability for parents who are trustees and it’s really busy getting things finalised.

The actual business of looking after the children seems to be the easy bit, and the part that we all enjoy the most but somehow isn’t what we discuss that much. I think it’s the same for parents, the opportunities to play seem almost decadent at times, when there are so many chores and jobs that need doing. We all need time to play though, even grown-ups, and I feel a million times better for spending time with some friends last weekend.

The key issue seems to be that if we have the boring rules and regulations in place, and everyone is safely cared for, then the structures around us make us all feel safe. If the trust is breached for any reason we can’t enjoy life’s experiences.

For many people who didn’t have an easy time growing up, childhood was a missed opportunity, and it’s hard to recreate this for your own family if you didn’t experience it yourself. Feeling safe is a key issue. It’s also about forgiveness for me, as a mum I now understand how hard it is to raise a family, and find myself constantly climbing down from my high horse, and being less judgmental about other people, especially myself, my husband, my own lovely mum, who did her best for us all in really challenging circumstances. Forgiveness to me seems like an onion, it’s just layers that seem to go on and on and on.. you just think you’ve forgiven someone enough times, or put to bed enough “issues” from the past, when another one pops up.

I am having counselling at the moment, and it’s quite exhausting to go through this process of picking up something difficult, examining it, and then putting it down again, without throwing it at a wall in frustration. I’ve been watching Comic Relief does Strictly and one of the contestants spoke about not trying to avoid the storms life throws at you, but rather learning to dance in the rain and enjoy it. This is not easy to do! There is an art to jumping in puddles rather than raging at the sky and asking it not to rain!