The politics of caring…

This morning I went to the polling station to vote in what could possibly be the most pointless election ever. Electing MEPs to a parliament that we may not even be a part of soon. To be honest I am not even sure if we ever needed MEPs – but that’s a whole different discussion.

Yesterday I spent the day at the Midland Hotel in Morecambe at an event called Love Society where people from across our region were looking at ways to improve our community and create a more loving, kind and compassionate society.

There were all sorts of people there. Doctors, teachers, care workers, people from charities, local councillors, sociologists, holistic practitioners and people like me who care.

We listened to two amazing women. Bev Skeggs, a sociologist and Hilary Cottam, a social entrepreneur whose work focuses on solutions to social challenges such as ageing, loneliness, chronic disease and inequality. It became obvious how important connection and community are in these situations.

There was heartfelt and moving discussion in the room, and it felt good to be spending time with so many people wanting to help and improve things. Caring.

However, during the break-out discussions I became quite uncomfortable with how conversations became a political blame-game. Voices were raised and there was some metaphorical banging on tables. I know that every person in the room was passionate about change and desperate to make a difference but there was so much anger.

I have never been much of a political animal. I always see good and bad on both sides. I do not believe that any one political party is perfect. Recently here in the UK we have seen our parliament implode and for me…well I believe that politics is broken. Much like our benefits system and the NHS. Whether we were for Brexit or against, the one thing we can all agree on is that the last 3 years have been a total shambles. Nobody has come out of it well. And we are not out of the woods yet.

I have written before about how much I hate the spitefulness and disrespect in parliament. The British system of government has been adopted all over the world. Our traditions were respected and even revered. But that was then, and this is now. It is time for change.

Big decisions need to be taken to fix our broken society. And our politicians should be leading us, showing us the way, demonstrating the correct way to behave. They should be working together towards common goals, with a vision of a loving and respectful community. Not constantly slagging one another off and putting people down. Setting an example for everyone, here in Britain and across the world.

I truly believe that some things transcend party politics. Sometimes the ONLY solution is love. Love of each other, of truth and honesty, of respect for every human being. That is how we change things. I believe it is incredibly simple. Sadly, I cannot think of one politician from any party that inspires, encourages and could lead us selflessly and honestly towards a better future. I am fearful.

But sometimes from great adversity comes great courage. Somewhere there must be someone who can make a difference. Who sees that respect, compassion, love and caring is necessary to heal and repair. We need a hero. In the meantime, let’s all try to be local heroes. To work in our communities to bring change and improve our own little corner of the world. Start a ripple and send it in the direction of Westminster. In the name of love, not a political party.

The harvesting of our discussion yesterday

Letter to my daughter…

Dear Zoe,

Yesterday, saying goodbye at Lancaster station was hard, and yes, I blubbed. As we both knew I would. Your mother cries, you know that. I cry when I am happy, when I am sad, when I am tired. My eyes leak. Nothing I can do about it. It has always been that way, and at 60 years old that fact is unlikely to change any time soon. So, no apologies for that!

It was lovely having you here for a couple of days despite the awful weather. Of course, today is a sunny bright day in Morecambe with blue skies and views to die for. As I said, we need a summer visit so you can see the beauty I am looking at outside of my window this morning. But it felt good to go to bed in The Corner House and know you were tucked up in the other bedroom above me. This house will always have room for you.

Several times during your short visit you insisted on reminding me that you have grown up. That you are a grown woman, living your life. Even at the station as we said goodbye. It reminded me of how I feel when I spend time with your nan. I think that it is standard for everyone, spending time with your mum at any age sends you right back to your childhood, difficult when we spend our whole lives trying to prove to everyone that we are successful,self-sufficient, strong human beings who can take care of themselves. Which is exactly how we raise our children to be. Even though it is so hard when those very same children become the people we want them to be. Somehow we don’t expect to be left behind. Remember how Barbara used to snuggle up to her 6ft 3” hulk of a son and call him her baby?

For me, particularly at this time of year, you are still that little girl with blonde curls sneaking into my bed on your birthday or Christmas morning, your beautiful brown eyes dancing at the prospect of presents. Snuggling up and both of us overwhelmed with so much love that nothing else mattered.

Like everyone you have had some crap in your life. A father who left when you were little, the resulting financial chaos, a stressed out working mum, and then the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes. But to compensate you also had a grandmother who shared your care and adored you (and still does) and then an amazing step-father in Nigel. We travelled, we laughed, we shared so much and I treasure every memory.

I just want you to know that I know you are grown up. And I am so proud of the young woman you have become. Just in the last year you have bravely forged forward with your new career, and I know that the people you look after in the care home are so lucky to have you there with them. Your natural empathy combined with the passion you throw into anything you do will carry you far. You were always meant to be a healer/carer.

You and Kieran are building a home, and a life together. Its cool to watch you learning and growing together.

Our decision to move up here to Morecambe was the realisation of a dream for us. There is always a cost to such a dream. Being so far away from your nan and you is hard. But it was the right thing to do, and in some ways it leaves you free to live your life. I guess it is just odd because usually it is the child who moves away, and the adult who remains. We turned that one on its head, didn’t we?

We do miss you. We miss the stupid things. Being silly. Watching Friends and giggling. Seeing the daft stuff that makes us smile without words. You rolling your eyes when I sing the wrong song lyrics (even when I do it deliberately just to make you laugh) You and I live via text message now. And that’s ok too. 

Do not ever think that I want to hold you back. Telling you that I miss you and love you is not about wanting to hold you in the past. It is just about letting you know how much I love and value you. To remind you that we are always here for you, and that we have your back. I want to share my life here with you, show you the wonderful things that we have discovered in our new life. And I want to show my new friends up here that I have a wonderful daughter too. To show them Penny, the mum.

But none of that means that I think you need to be here. You are where you need to be. I guess in a way I want to reassure you that I am ok. That we made the right decision. I would love you to be closer, but you need to live your life, dream your dreams and be where you need to be. Just be aware that if ever you need a bolt hole for any reason, The Corner House is here for you. Like the song says

“Take every chance you dare
I’ll still be there
When you come back down”

Just remember, having strong roots makes you grow stronger and taller. Be happy they are there and get on with flowering. But come and see us again soon. We miss you.

All my love

Mum xx