Raising my voice

I’ve been lone parenting this weekend as Gregg is at a stag party. I took Jenson to an animal rights protest in London yesterday, partly out of desire to be an active citizen and partly to have some plans to fill up my three days alone with him.

I’m so glad I went.

I loved hearing from animal activists who had so much information to share.

I loved the atmosphere as we marched through the streets of London, handing out flyers to the public.

I loved being part of something bigger than myself as we showed images of how animals are killed for our pleasure, kept in tiny cages so businesses can make as much profit as possible, viewed more as a commodity than a being who feels, fears and loves just like we do.

But that wasn’t my feeling right at the start of the march.

I felt uncomfortable, out of sorts, anxious as I made my presence known on the streets of London.

I felt like I didn’t have a right to be there.

It felt wrong to be speaking out – and speaking loud – instead of being in my safe little zone where I am vegan and will gently say why I am if people ask why (the reason, if you’re interested in for the planet – we can’t survive whilst still consuming such high levels of meat and dairy – and because of how animals are kept, treated and killed).

But I keep myself to myself.

I don’t push limits.

I keep my vegan views, my ‘controversial’ views of parenthood, family, love out of this blog for fear of offending you, dear friend.

And in that moment, something clicked for me. I realised that I don’t allow myself to be fully seen.

I don’t allow myself to share my views unless I’m given express permission to do it by someone.

And there are so many reasons I can think why.

Girls aren’t brought up to be forceful and I feel like I’m ‘too much’ when I think about my opinions and views on a range of topics.

I’m fearful of speaking out as that reminds me of my Christian experience growing up where we’d be encouraged to try to ‘convert’ people to our way of thinking.

I don’t feel comfortable dealing with conflict and, in putting my opinions ‘out there’, there will be many people who will disagree with me.

But that’s ok to live with these reasons – I can grapple with them as I work through giving myself permission to be seen and my voice heard.

And by that I mean all that I am, not just the bits of me that are mainstream and not controversial.

It feel scary and new and different to do this, but living this way feels aligned to the name of my blog – courage, truth and love – and so I know it’s the right thing for me to do.

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For a million days

My parents brought back a book for Jenson from their travels to Canada earlier this year and I love it. Possibly more than Jenson does. It’s called the Alaska Lullaby and it’s a story of how much a parent loves their child. It sums up pretty much how much I love Jenson.

I love him in a heart bursting, tears streaming down my face, smile splitting way. With wonder as he gets steadier on his feet, amazement as I see his little personality shining through.

I love him with patience as he grumbles with teething pains, with back aches as I bend down so he can walk, with greater regard for his needs than my own as I spend my ‘blog time’ searching for a little shampoo bottle he’s absurdly attached to.

There’s one line in the song which I love in particular –

I love you in a million ways, I’ll love you for a million days

It pretty much sums up all that it is a mother’s love.

And although I don’t believe in the ‘God’ of any organised religion, there’s something about love which I can’t help but think has an enduring God-like power. Perhaps that’s what Christians mean when they say ‘God is love’ – they’ve attached a persona to him, but what if God is love? And when I say this, I don’t mean that it’s part of her/it/him, but that the presence of love is divine? And so when I’m able to tap into this all-consuming, unconditional love for Jenson, I’m able to feel the divinity that is love in its fiercest, truest form.

This love is something that I feel has the power to echo across the years, like the clanging of bells across the decades. Because, although I won’t be around for a million days (if I was, I’d be around for nearly 3000 years!), that’s how strong I feel this motherly love is.

It feels like an enduring love.

It’s a love so strong that it’s guiding my future and is driving me to find space in my current role (and potentially a different job in the future) to address some of the injustices that will impact him – our education system which privileges performance over passion, environmental policies which prioritise a quick buck over a sustainable world for our future children, a financial system which benefits the few despite needs of the many…I don’t know how this will manifest in my life, but I feel the urge to do something because this love isn’t passive. It’s active.

The beauty about this sort of love is that I can feel the love of others around me, enduring through the years. I know I’m enveloped in the love that my grandparents had for me despite them having passed away. The pride my grandad had for me and the comfort of my grandma’s love.

And I can feel the love that my parents have for me despite the hundreds of miles separating me from them.

This love is all there and I can’t help but feel it will be there for a million years, as will my love for my son.

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