Sunday, 9 June 2013

Life and its light and the shadows it throws!

Life is good life is wonderful In fact life is amazing.  Sometimes though its just plain Hard! 
The daily grind of house chores, dog walks, school runs appointments are exhausting with out the treble tag team of kids who either all poodle along quite nicely and self sufficiently one minute so I nip to the loo or pick up phone then all hell breaks loose and some one poos then someone falls over then someone else needs an iPod password or help with homework or an opinion on an out fit then some one pokes someone else in the eye then the other one poos then a drink goes over.  I could go on forever but I won't I'll just say this all usually happens before 8 am and or while I'm cooking / burning dinner lol
 I am going to pause for slightly darker thoughts. Most of the time the fact our son has Downs Syndrome doesn't come in to anything and isn't even at the front of my mind it just is what it is and he is just Max. Then there are other times it feels like there is a huge dark cloud of prejudice and ignorance casting its shadow over us, lucky for us it has yet to give way and rain it's nastiness on us directly but we can hear the storm nearby often.  There are certain words I will not give power to here that are thrown around casually but actually make me sick in my mouth and when individuals with downs syndrome are referred to as a "they"  or " A Downs" even when it's in a well meaning context is difficult to stomach.  
Then there are things like a new test that allows for a more definitive early anti-natal diagnosis of Downs Syndrome and the fear this is being reported on as a good thing because it is assumed that instead of being informational tool ( which is always positive) it is a way of parents knowing and "dealing" with the pregnancy whilst still early and cough cough easier !!! 
Don't get me wrong I have talked before about how I am still pro choice and not against termination for any reason, it is always a very personal and difficult choice what ever the reason be it medical or circumstantial.  But statistics are that the conception rate for pregnancies where there is a positive result for Down's syndrome is higher then ever before yet the number of live births have stayed the same. Explained probably by the 96% of anti natal diagnosis that are terminated !  I know that will always be a high percentage yet I truly believe that many families would make a different decision if there were more positive media stories and general information in day to day social life there fore not quite so scary.  I have spoken with more then a few families who bravely admit had they known during pregnancy they likely would not have continued on to have the child they adore and would now not be with out or change in the slightest, because they just didn't know what Downs Syndrome actually was or what it means beyond the stereotypes.  It frightens me because I can't honestly say what we would have done.

It's not easy raising a child with special needs and we are very lucky in that we have not had many of the very frightening medical worries that lots face, and some may feel they cant or don't want to cope, but nor is it easy raising a smart mouthed pre teen or tantrum throwing chattering toddler either ! All three of my children present their own challenges.  Who are we to say what we can deal with or what fate is going to give us with any of our children. 
I sometimes feel that although everyone who knows/meets my son loves and expresses pride and awe in his achievements they wouldn't have wanted him if he had been their own !  I can't help but be saddened by this sometimes. Only sometimes ;-) 
These Worries about how cruel the world is were swiftly laid aside with an opportune meeting at the park with some children from Molly's year at school, not particular friends but boys that I have always been aware of and on friendly hello terms in the playground with their mums.  How Boys just being boys but at the same time so caring and unobtrusively and naturally inclusive! I don't know how I didn't sob on the spot, they just with out mothering him took care of him and made sure ( although obviously slower and clumsier then they ) he got a chance to kick the ball with out having been asked or it feeling like they were paying special attention !  

To say I felt reassured would be an understatement especially as we are preparing him for that giant leap away from us and towards independence with School. 
This alongside really positive attitudes from his school to be and watching how confidently he storms around an explores his new environment when visiting the playground all in preparation for the big day in September and how he already just seems to fit and is just one of many not standing out or isolated :-D Makes my heart sing. 

Then there is number three. Cuteness personified in a Sunday morning serenade or simply in the way she says "turtle" 
Painful reminders of how my littlest baby is a baby no more like taking the sides off the cot and her taking to a big girls bed with out a blink or refusing a lidded cup and insisting on drinking from a " cupa tea cup "
Turning 2 years old and telling everyone about her "appybirfdie shlide" 
The following week successfully saying goodbye to nappies and making the change to big girl pants.
Number one growing up, changing  ( not always pleasantly ) taking an age to decide what to wear of a weekend and having very strong opinions of what she doesn't want to wear ( usually whatever I suggest )
Missing her horribly as she spends the longest ever ( for me I think they flew for her ) three days away with school thriving on the independence  and rising to whatever challenges thrown her way, zip wires, camp fires assault courses and abseiling to name a few. 
Pride in her growth and achievement conflicting with terror that she is on the cusp of leaving little girldom and hitting those years where she becomes a teenager and too quickly young woman.  Time is running away from me and with it, it's taking my baby :-(
Finding the time to schoooz myself up a bit, even if it has to be done in stages. 
Cocktails and laughter every now and again.  Evenings devoted to special people. 

Making the most of any hint of almost good weather, enjoying family time and getting some exercise too.
Taking advantage of lighter evenings to walk the dogs Solo and finding it so much less of a chore with out a double buggy / two headed park demanding monster and its big sister the whatwhywhencantIletsjust Ghoul! 
All in all life is wonderful even when it is hard work xxxxxx 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Holidays and Haircuts

Too much has happened this last ... oh my goodness its been nearly a year! For me to catch up would be impossible.  I can't really say why it's been so long other then life is busy, good busy but still exhausting and once every one is in bed and the chance of an un-interfered stint on the laptop occurs I have found energy and motivation impossible to cultivate!
I'll just have to start and forgive myself if I leave anything significant out.
Holidays and haircuts with charity Christmas and goodness only knows what  else in between !
Where Mums and Dads get to enjoy their children and each other and dare I say Relax 

And part kids part fish it seems get to have pure un-adulterated fun. 

 Big girls get dreams answered.
 And take a huge step with a much more practical grown up new do.

 Appointments When you didn't realise you've been holding your breath until the doctor releases the iron band around your chest with one sentence ' the hole has closed and his heart is fine, 
Children ever changing, growing up which at the same time as filling you with pride it brings a little sadness, you never get time back.
Oh and another furry  member joined our mad household bringing with him noise, training challenges but ultimately a whole bucket load of love ! Put it this way his name was quickly  
and unusually added onto  Max's short list of spoken words and is clearer then most. 
Introducing Twig (pre-named I hasten to add but already having a Woody in the house we felt it fitted too well to change) 

Another Christmas filled with family and love.
Giving a little of my self and my time to help organise what to some is a little social comfort but potentially to others could be a lifeline of support is proving to be a hugely  rewarding and exciting  experience.  I have to admit that I feel a little guilty that it has taken me to be directly effected by something to make that effort, how selfish! 
I can only say that life changes you and my life has opened my eyes to the world in so many ways. There is such a lot wrong and so much to be done to put that wrong right, too much for me but all I can do is pick something that I know and do what I can and accept that it has to be enough, for now. 
I have this past year become  more involved in the Down Syndrome community and active on various forums which has bought wonderful support and benefit, sharing with other parents who have been or are going through similar experiences is proving invaluable. The challenge however is to not take on all the woes worries injustice and ignorance that each individual family encounters personally.  Obviously I don't mean I won't or don't want to support others but we have to each fight the prejudices we may face in our own lives in our own way.  Taking on  every parents every battle is the fast road to being angry ALOT.  Sometimes it's ok to let an unfortunate choice of language or phrasing go when it comes from a person who is well meaning and would be mortified to cause offence. 
Of course there are certain  words or terms which I don't need to give power to by listing here that I will never accept and will always loudly and forcefully object to, and if ever there is deliberate offence intended or nastiness behind a comment this She Tiger's claws are ready to defend her cubs!  
However I can not get agitated at every innocent misconception from a well meaning stranger or even loved one just because Jane Doe in Aberdeen suffered from a horrible person using that misconception in a rude and ignorant way or assume that the usher in the cinema I'm at is going to be as ignorant rude and discriminatory as the one in that cinema another poor mum had the unfortunate displeasure to attend.
Some Rhino skin is needed and battles to be strategically picked! 
I will continue to give and take advice and support from these amazing families but I am for the sake of my own sanity learning to as Simon puts it 'let some of it go'

Having said that I feel the need to state :
My son has Down Syndrome, he is not 'a down Syndrome' 
It is something he has not who he is!
 Max looks more like his Daddy, his sisters even cousins then he does his friends who also happen to have an extra chromosome! Just saying ! 
There is possibly another reason for the length of my blogging absence. I find writing cathartic, I put what is playing on my mind into words maybe  even good English sometimes and it helps me sort things out. 

Something awful happened, not to me directly but I felt and still do feel deeply affected by it. To say that it has been predominantly what was / is on my mind is an understatement!  It is not mine to write about however and for a while I couldn't see past it to write about anything else.

The price of having too many people who mean such a lot is that you are more likely, more often to care deeply for some one who is suffering, be it from loss, ill health or stress and if you are an empathetic person in any way you can't help but take on board  some of that suffering yourself and be affected.   Still the benefits of having those friends and the richness with which they fill your life far out weighs any emotional strain, as they doubtlessly strengthen you in times of your own need and the emotional mirror that you are gets to reflect all their joys and triumphs too. 

I say this to every one of my friends I look forward to shining back your joys to you but I will always willingly and honestly grateful for your part in my life,  be here for the sorrows too. Xxxx 

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Blink............ six months gone!

It's been far too long between posts again. I've missed this blog my self council.  I have tons of notes but like the stacks of un-read books and the piles of unfilled paperwork, the bags of un sorted clothes and the un scrubbed windows they've been sitting way down un-done on the never ending to do list.

It feels like I've blinked and then six months have gone, it's only as I sit here and look back over the various notes I have made I realise how much happens in a blink.

So as I reflect I will try in this post to play catch up with big the small and all the little significant nothings that happened in between.

The year was started in the best possible way sharing Champagne given to us on either Molly's birth our wedding or Max's arrival (no way of knowing which as has been gathering dust in the cellar ) with friends to toast in 2012.

 Max and Mia safely tucked up in bed with a watchful Nanny on duty x Molly with us to enjoy the party with her BFF. 

Mia's bottle of pink champagne having already been consumed on Christmas day with family in our home Mia's first Christmas and our first as hosts for festive dinner.!

Then the year had begun!

Max started preschool, the wrench made so much easier not only by the fact I know the preschool and how loving and enriching an environment it provides, Molly having gone there when she was small, but a good friend is involved with the setting, the sense of gratitude and appreciation for how lucky I am to have that trust and knowing for certain that some one is on our side (as I am sure she is for every one of the little ones entrusted to her and the care of the pre-school) is immeasurable.

Leaving him, saying goodbye he looked at me, thought for a second then nodded as if to say 'yep mum that's ok' and then waved.  I stayed to watch awhile but he didn't need me, it physically hurt though! He was there and I was not, he was having to face the world, make it his own and all I wanted to do was keep him with me where he was happy, content, no one to hurt or upset him and where I could make anything better!

I was and am encouraged by his confidence but fearful of letting go and allowing him the chance to learn to communicate with others with out me there, his mum who knows him best ( not to mention all the training and strategies I've taken on board) translating for him, reading his moods and body language, heading off the frustrations of not being understood!  He needs to find his own way of dealing with those things.

He is absolutely thriving!  I had initial wobbles of worry wondering if I was pushing him to hard too young because it suited me to have a morning or too a week to dedicate to the baby? He soon proved those worries needless.  He loves it and has come on so far so fast, he has made an impact already, we can't make the walk for Molly's school run with out at least half a dozen yells of 'there's Max.... HI MAXXXXX'  and there is a constant flow of masterpiece artwork coming home. HE AMAZES ME EVERY DAY

There has been time out for me over recent months, time to recharge the wife and Vicki in me (as opposed to Mum) Nights out as a couple and PJ parties with the girls.  Time spent as 20 years old again having a meal and a glass or two of wine with my old roooooomy.  Even managing to keep up with an old friend out for the first time together just us since probably before Molly was born, lasting til 4am would you even believe it?? ha ha After which each time tucking her back away again refreshed ready and raring to tackle the weeks filled with medical and therapy appointments, teething therefore sleepless nights, nagging of big girls to piano practise / homework / reading etc, all the ferrying about to school / preschool / musical monkeys / drama and playdates.  Not to mention all things daily and domestic like shopping , washing, cooking, dog walking and hoovering ;-) Listening and so supporting hardworking daddy when he comes home tired and sometimes stressed from long days at work.  Then comes the time again to take 'Vicki' back out of her box for a friday night book club 'aherm' with the girls. x

There have been some days where it has felt like all I'm doing is chasing my tail, the never ending battle clearing the junk on the table, picking up discarded lunch, wiping continuously running noses, hoovering forever hairy floors and it goes on and on and on.  The effort involved in just getting out of the door with enough nappies / snacks / drinks / relevant PE kits , hats, scarfs etc etc.  This sounds like I.m complaining and I'm really not just some days it all feels up hill and fewer days too steep a hill leaving me exhausted and out of breath.

There has been that thing perspective slapping me in the face again too.  A day I was stressing out after bumping into an old school colleague, one of those people you want to see you at your most in control looking fresh faced fashionable and yummy mummy, rather then the red coldified dripping nosed makeupless silly hat wearing harassed looking mother of moaning tired worked up children muttering about an urgent need to get to the opticians and desperately showing the broken glasses in a plee for understanding for the 'bad moment'.  As if this person is ever going to understand.  To then arrive home to news of a member of our extended family facing real worries and a fight for their good health!  Who cares about what one random person from my past thinks of me! I have a wonderful family and plenty of friends who love me more for my 'less together' moments! I AM LUCKY and the news of illness in the family helped me quickly realise the insignificance of that moment.

This is turning into a monster post isn't it but there is so  much more !

Hen do's with personal appearance's by the "spice girls"

Yes not so Sporty is me!

The Hen's actual much anticipated big day!  Where two amazing people who have already been in love and each others best friend and companion for more then 20 years  said 'I DO' and in front of all their friends and families promised to continue to make each others happiness their priority forever xxxxx

and then we partied!!!

As our littlest miracle fast approached her first birthday my brave husband put what was best for us in front of his own self preservation and drew a permanent line under our family xx

Our home was filled with family and friends again.  All to celebrate little Mia Mouses 1st birthday !  I found this milestone so hard as my last baby races so fast away from her babydom.  I find my self again wishing so hard to freeze time while at the same moment feeling so much pride in how beautiful she's growing up and how clever x

Our biggest girl made that first big leap of Independence and had her first overnight school trip, she ate loads won third prize in the best dressed teddy completion and came home thoroughly exhausted and full of stories about amazing rooms with bunk beds and fancy square radiators ideal for hanging towels on :-)

The last few months have brought us new friends who are in a position to actually understand rather then just empathise with some of the unique challenges family life with an extra chromosome can bring but also strengthened bonds with old friends too.
They've brought challenges but more often reasons to feel blessed and I do, even at my most exhausted or low I am never feeling un happy.  I am at my core content and loving my life at the moment and for that I  am thankful.

Every time I blink I live a lifetime xxxxx

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Soaking it all up

As usual the weeks since my last post have been rich and full.

Starting with the making of a difficult decision to stop breastfeeding, made all the more harder
knowing that this time that's it forever. Never again will I feel that sense
of achievement knowing that this child is thriving on sustenance provided solely
by me. I debated for about a fortnight before finally taking the plunge. Simon
had expressed concern at how tired I had been and that maybe I needed to
concentrate on what was best for me for once but I couldn't help but feel guilt
for even considering the change. It took a chance meeting in tesco with a friend
and her comment "well if you are thinking and debating about it so much, then
maybe it's not working for you anymore and it's time to stop!" made absolute
sense and that evening Mia had her first bottle of formulae and neither of us
have looked back.
With my new found freedom of formulae feeds and the ownership of my body 
transferred back to me, breasts n all. The freedom to enjoy what I wanted to eat
 and yes even drink the inevitable happened.  

The babies all tucked up in bed Nanny ensconced on the sofa ready with cuddles 
and bottles where required Simon and I escaped for a couple of hours and were a 
couple again. 
I wore perfume!! Enjoyed adult company. Didn't have to think about everything I 
was saying in relation to strategies, development etc.  It took a while to lose 
the talking and signing, but it felt so good to just look like Vicki, not Molly 
Max or Mia's mum ! 
Dancing like a fool laughing like a friend.x xx   

Soaking this all up like a tonic. 

Then back to being mum again and Spaceships made of cardboard xx to flights to the 
moon ;-) 

Learning to tell max off a little for poor Molly's sake if no other reason . 
Being the oldest and "knowing better" is tough bless her and sometimes he is 
just plain annoying stubborn unwilling to share and follows her about like a 
shadow wanting what ever it is she's touching! Who can blame her for finding 
it hard sometimes x 

Loving Mia soooo much And feeling guilty that I take advantage of how good she 
is. My time devoted to her seems to be only functional, she's clean, fed, happy 
to coo and entertain herself and have the the occasional cuddly snooze, the fact 
max is so vocal and boisterous in his demands on my time and attention and Molly's 
timetable so regimented 8:45 school, 3:30 collect 4:30 swimming on a Tuesday 
5:30 drama on a Monday makes me feel like it leaves little time and energy for just 
Fun time with Mia!  Worrying (un necessarily) about when and what mile stones she 
is meeting and again feeling guilty that so much of my energy and focus is on 
Molly and her spelling / times table etc as it is all targeted and strategies to 
help promote max and his development that my confidence that she will get there 
any way means she doesn't get the same focus and pushing on to the next thing 
like sitting / rolling / walking etc that the other two had! I just have to remind 
myself that there is only my best and they all get that!

Realising we have hit the terrible twos and occasionally there are weaker moments when
 the realisation that this phase may last a while longer! The challenging behaviour 
may last for always and that just makes me tired! Not un happy no way less in love or 
determined just ... Tired ....

So not liking that feeling deciding it's time to call in Nanny to help me create some 
time to myself even if it is just a couple of hours to have my hair done!  Strange though 
that when i do escape it either takes a while to regain my adult vocabulary, or 
my mouth turns into a sewer and all the suppressed bad language just falls out!lol ! 

Then there was message to offer help with the little things from un unexpected source 
! Even if I never take them up on the offer, just the genuine reach of a hand meant so
much more then they will probably ever realise !  

Then there is the steady and the constant ! The friend you don't need to ask for 
help from because she is already there telling you what she is going to do with 
out you ever needing to feel beholden!  Xxxxxx

There were a few emotional challenges too, I had to wait for Max to go to sleep so 
I could cry after the torture of his annual blood test!

Choosing his glasses, poor little man has a little face with no bridge to his nose 
and a huuuuge wide head so getting the right fit hasn't been easy and I don't 
think we're there yet but to quote a bumcow doesn't he look Scrummy?   

Physically stopping myself from turning round in a shop and confronting a woman .  
  I was pushing the buggy at a brisk pace with Mia sleeping tucked up underneath 
her brother riding high, feeling buoyant from a productive trip to the city 
centre when i passed a group of people with varying physical and other special 
needs and they're carers clearly also enjoying a day of shopping on an organised 
outing. Max the charmer and social little boy that he is not unusually grabbed 
the attention of one of the ladies there in a caring role as our paths crossed, 
I saw the flash of comprehension in her eyes as she thought she recognised Maxs 
syndrome and smiled at him 'knowingly' ! I carried on walking and was utterly 
astounded at what I heard next coming from behind me. she must of turned to to 
her colleague who was pushing a lady in a wheelchair and then i heard her say
"ahhh I love to see 'them' at that age cause I think to myself in 20 years or so 
'they'll be with us"!!!!!!!

Did she think that I was going to bring Max up and love and nurture him as a 
child then when he is an adult give up and institutionalise him???? NEVER!!! 

I understand that as an adult it would be selfish of me and irresponsible to 
make him solely dependant on me alone. I'm sure he will go to clubs, work and 
have a social life beyond me and his family and  he may well need some extra 
support to achieve that. Who knows he probably won't want to live in my home 
forever but wish to spread his wings and branch out alone or with friends maybe 
even a girlfriend and I will support him in living his life as fulfilling and  
independently as it is safe for him to do so! 

Having said that he has a proud mum and dad, two sisters who I am certain will 
want to be a big part of his life, Nan's who adore him an Uncle and Aunt who are 
devoted not to mention cousins and friends coming out of his ear holes, needless 
to say he won't be short of people who love him to go on a shopping trip 

Her assumption irritated and offended me It took every ounce of tolerance in me 
not to turn back and correct her! I knew she meant no harm and I did not know 
the circumstances of the adults she was with and would not have wanted to upset 
or offend them in any way by suggesting there was anything wrong in their 
situation and this is what ultimately stopped me from confronting her !!  That 
and the fact her comment clearly wasn't meant for me to hear.   

It's played on my mind since, so far we have had no real negativity shown 
towards our beautiful boy, he's still so young and very cute and as such any 
differences or difficulties  haven't been as obvious to draw that kind of 
ignorance. This event has acutely reminded me and made me more aware that as he 
gets older the world may start to find it harder to see past stereotypes and 
ignorance and we have to make sure Max and his sisters all never doubt how to be 
unique is to be beautiful and remind them of  the Dr who first spoke to us about 
Max's condition and what he said  about prejudice coming from ignorance,  and to 
feel sorry for those that are ignorant not anger or be upset by their prejudice. 

Remind them that there are no limitations to what any of them can achieve and 
'to shoot for the moon, because even if you miss you'll be amongst the stars' 

All three of them already are my stars brightening my life with their light 
So to that end I took the plunge and knowing that my family is complete I together 
with fabulously talented artist designed and he then created a tattoo which represents
 my family and my perspective beautifully.

And now December is upon us with all the joviality fun / stress and love that it 

Simon's birthday already suitably celebrated with a night of over indulgence of 
friends and alcohol! 
A night filled with funny faces 
 Dancing and laughter 

DMC's ;-) 
Ahead we have school discos and productions, tree decorating and birthdays not 
to mention the big day its self when our home will be filled with family and I 
can't wait to soak it all up xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Living vs Coping

It has been a rich summer for me, filled with picnics on the few sunny days where big girls get to master their bike riding skills and little boys enjoy some freedom from the buggy,

 while baby girls get that all important sleep time in the shade.
Birthdays where again we are surrounded by friends all putting themselves out to celebrate another year of a special little boys achievements and more importantly eat cake.
 Rainy holidays, where Mia Rose is introduced to more of the family and smothered in love,
 Molly gets to bond some more with cousins over a DS game or two
 and Max can show off his hiding skills. 
Milestones met again and again, preparing Molly for that big step up to junior school! she is growing up so fast is scares me!

 Mia, smiling, rolling, bouncing and just turning into a little person already too soon no longer a tiny baby. 
 The big one is that Max is increasingly mobile and on his feet,  he began taking steps around his birthday but for a few weeks was still opting to drop to his rear and shuffle (at speed I grant you) however in the last few weeks he is choosing to walk, even attempting to run as his first method of getting about and when he stumbles not reverting to his old half crawl half bottom hop but getting back up and continuing on his way with shouts of excitement.  This picture is of him hot footing it off with his little sisters hat which he took a fancy to.

The pride I feel at all these achievements is un-imaginable.

So when I am asked 'how are you coping?' or someone states 'you've got your hands full I don't know how you cope,' I try not to be irritated by it as I know it is only people caring and comes most of the time from genuine interest and concern.  I however answer.  I don't cope I Live!!

Life is full of challenges for us all, a juggling act where there are at different times different shapes weights and numbers of things that we have to keep in the air.  Occasionally a ball or two is dropped, an appointment missed or a birthday forgotten maybe even the time to have a shower impossible to find! But those are the times that we have to take a deep breath pause for a rest and then pick it all up again.  Maybe recognise the need to pass one or two of the smaller things off to another to throw for a while so we can concentrate on not dropping the big things like making sure the children are safe clean and fed!

I am living not coping,  living life the best way I know how, by loving, laughing, crying, learning and all the other stuff.

Supporting a family I adore by just being there as they say goodbye to parts of their hearts as they buried their Mum and remembering and being grateful for the impact she has had on my own life.

Attending a course to help Max get better at communicating by getting better myself.  Preparing him and probably more to the point myself for preschool next term.  Growing as a parent with Molly as her needs change with the experience of her new school. Desperately trying to cling on to the now, refusing to move on to the next stage with Mia as she is showing all the signs of being ready for solids but just wanting to keep her as she is for as long as possible.

Taking the plunge and booking a holiday in the sun for the five of us for next year recognising that all that juggling might need some solar charging ;-)

Inviting the family to our home to share Mia's first Christmas (my first as host) looking forward to lots of laughter food and merriment.

Learning that advice is just that advice! Whether it comes from a professional or not it is just some one else's opinion and it is there to be followed if I so choose to, remembering to have a little faith in my own judgement.
Asking and accepting help where I can.  Learning that to say 'I need' is not saying 'I can't manage' just that it stretches me that little less if you help.

To say coping is to imply 'putting up with' and that is certainly not what I am doing with my life and family. xxxxx