Happy New Year.

Now that I have eaten the last mince pie, with the final remains of the dairy-free fudge crumbled on top I feel that I have finally put Christmas to bed.

Happy New Year, everyone!

And now that my increasingly untidy shoulder-length hair has been cut back into a shapely bob and tinted an eye-popping violet (taking ‘blue rinse’ to a new level) I feel that 2019 is over and done with at last. It was a dingy, downbeat, mean-spirited year and I’m glad to see the back of it. Although there is a lot to be worried about given the direction Britain, and the wider world, seems to be taking, I am trying very hard not to jump off bridges before I come to them.

I have not made any New Year’s resolutions: as I have discovered that this is the only reliable way of making sure I don’t break them. Nevertheless, the Christmas and new year period tends to be one of reflection and new beginnings, and so, even before Christmas, I started as I want to go on, by planning more outings and activities. We even managed to get out for a couple of hours on New Year’s Eve, to a family-friendly party held in the early evening at a local cafe-bar. I’ve already booked myself onto a pottery workshop coming to a hostelry near where I live: half-a dozen inexperienced people attempting to make ceramic tankards, with a wide range of alcoholic beverages on offer, how is this not a great idea? I’ve also started preparing Freddie for the fact that I am planning to go on holiday with friends for a few days later in the year — Daddy has already booked time off to take care of him till I get back.

And in the spirit of new beginnings I have had a clear out on the blog. There’s only a few of my more recent posts on there now, because over the years I’ve been writing it, it has evolved. It’s also gone through two name changes before I finally settled on one that I was fully happy with — 47 Stripey Socks.

I started writing it five years ago, whilst studying for a degree in Creative Writing, partly as a way to give myself something to write about on a regular basis, and partly as a way to tell the world that the reality of my life as the parent of a child with Down’s Syndrome was turning out to be very different to the dire predictions made by the doctor when she told me it was likely that my then unborn baby would have the condition.

At first I concentrated on our experiences as a family and our way of dealing with the challenges we met along the way. I soon realised that this was rather limiting — in many ways our family life is pretty much just like everyone else’s — full of the same minutiae of daily existence — and there was a danger that the blog would start to read like a small child’s diary: ‘today I got up, had cocoa pops for breakfast, then brushed my teeth …’

One thing that happens when you become the parent of a child with learning disability is that you become aware of things that you never gave a second thought to before, things that many people go through their whole life not thinking about. So I began to write about those too. It was a necessary evolution. The general public are, largely, sceptical of what they see as ‘the happy story’. There is an prevailing attitude of ‘that’s all very well for you, but …’ with an unspoken ‘it wouldn’t be good enough for us’ riding on it’s wake. I came to the conclusion that sharing positive stories of achievement and posting cute pictures cut very little mustard on their own. Begging and pleading for approval doesn’t work. You can’t ask nicely if the world denies you a voice. You have to force society to deal with you whether it likes it or not, make society uncomfortable, challenge its thinking, challenge itsrules and its laws, if necessary.

‘Disturb the comfortable; comfort the disturbed’ that’s my writing mantra on this blog — although I will admit that I am perhaps better at the former than the latter. The posts remaining on the blog reflect this. I will still write about our personal experiences when relevant — one big challenge we’ve got coming up this year is Freddie’s transition to High School this September.

As for what else I’m going to write about, well, that depends what happens …

All the best for 2020.

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