She has never been your average little girl, I mean she's never liked playing with dolls, princesses or fairies, well not unless she was locking them in the dungeon of her Batman cave that is.
She has never shown any interest in the things that I loved when I was younger such as playing 'house', Sylvanian families or Barbie. I always imagined that if we had a little girl these would be things that we could enjoy together, we'd take shopping trips to Toys R Us where we could spend hours agonising over which doll (or in the case of Sylvanian families) which incredibly small and expensive house to buy. If we go to Toys R Us it will be the Lego or the Superhero aisle you'll find us in, although I do sometimes sneak away to take a trip down memory lane.
I struggled with this at the beginning I'm not going to lie, I thought it might just be a phase and she'd grow to love all the things that I did, but she never has. She has never pretended to like something she doesn't just to fit in, even though sometimes it would probably make life easier for her. I admire this about her immensely because I would never have had the courage to be like that when I was younger.
My Mum worried about me a lot in the early years of Primary school. We lived in a very small village which had an equally small school and our house was quite literally across the road, in fact you could see the playground from the landing window. Mum said she would spend lunchtime's and playtime's looking out of that window and her heart would break, as she watched me sit alone or walk around the playground chatting to the dinner ladies. I was so desperate to fit in during those years that if you'd have asked me if I wanted to play Flower Fairies, well I'd of been the best damned Flower Fairy you ever did see!
I did of course eventually make friends, and some lovely friends at that but socially I never felt like I truly 'fitted in'. It wasn't until a few years into High School where as incredibly corny as it sounds I came into my own. I found a hobby I loved and I was good at drama, and I made friends that have lasted a lifetime, who feel more like family. It truly is testament to their character not mine that we are still friends, I was a massive drama queen anyway but Rachel the drama queen studying drama? sheesh that's a lot of Rachel let me tell you.
Seren is a far stronger character than I ever was, but becoming every bit as much of a drama queen. If she ever joins a drama club Mark has resigned himself to the fact he will never know true peace again.
I have been doing a lot of decluttering these past few weeks and in doing so came across my shoe boxes of 'memories'. Everybody has these don't they it's not just me? Mine have everything in them from pictures, old cards, letters, school books, diaries etc and going through them has been quite an emotional journey.
A lot of these memories include people who are no longer in my life, some not through my choice of course like my Darling Dad and my Grandparents. There is a letter in there from my Grandmother telling me how proud she is of me getting good marks in an exam at university and it made me cry. Cry with happiness, with guilt that I never finished my course, and also pride that I did well on that assignment, and pride that my little Sister is at University and doing so well.
There are people who aren't in my life anymore due to break ups; nice break ups and not so nice break ups. It doesn't matter however you 'break up' and no matter how long or short, rough or smooth the relationship; you were still a part of each others lives, you made memories and shared experiences to look back upon.
Friendships that have come to an end not in a bad way but maybe because time and well life have simply bought them to natural conclusion.
Looking over these set of pictures and postcards I asked myself what have I learnt from these experiences?
What would I do differently?With a daughter myself, what would I wish for her to help navigate her way through life?
There is of course the obvious things I want, for her to live a long and happy life, to never know pain, hardship or heartache. Trust me though as someone who was not allowed to chew gum until a teenager, it doesn't matter how much you wrap them in cotton wool, how much you love them and protect them. It's no good, you will experience all of these things, you've just got to make sure you've got the character to see you through, so here we go.
Never let anyone tell you you can't do something -yes you can, you might not be any good at it but you might just be amazing! Never let anyone stop you from giving it a go.
Smile lots - the more you put out a smile the more likely you are to have them returned.
Always remember how much your family loves you and will always love you.
Be true to yourself, don't ever pretend to be something you aren't just to fit in.
It is better in life to regret the things you did do than the things you didn't do - This is so true.
I regret telling a lie on my Drama school application saying I could sing to a professional standard and we all know I can't hum in tune.
I regret standing on a stage in front of an audience and thinking If I just belted out a Grease number loud enough I'd be ok (It wasn't)
But you know what I won't do when I'm old and grey? Well more grey. I won't sit there wondering what could have been because I tried.
You don't always have to shout to be heard.
Don't judge a book by it's cover -please don't do this. That person on the first day of say work/university/high school with an angry look on their face or a 'I'm too cool for you' look about them might just be the funniest, loveliest and most interesting person you've met.
Keep seeing things differently sometimes - Never lose that! I love the fact that if given a box with a marble in it and asked to take the marble out, you will find the most craziest, unique way of doing it.
Always be a good friend.
Travel lots - see as much of the world as you can. Even if I cry and threaten to come with you, and I will no doubt do that.
If the opportunity to see the world comes up - take it! After University. Oh and if I'm on the same plane it is total coincidence honest.....
Trust your instincts.
Love what you do, and do what you love - I hope you choose a career that you wake up excited about every single day.
Manners cost nothing they are free.
Don't let my anxieties hold you back - I know sometimes I flinch every time you get on a trampoline, every time you go off on your bike. Keep ignoring that (not the part about going too fast on your bike though obviously) but keep jumping high, keep riding your bike, keep climbing those trees I love that you are adventurous, and know I've always got you if you fall.
Love with all that you have - I never want you to have your heart broken but I have no doubt that at some point in this life it will be, and then Mummy will probably end up behind bars, don't worry I'm joking well kind of.
A broken heart won't destroy you - it may feel like it at the time and you'll cry so hard you think your heart might physically break, but it won't. You will learn from it, you will get through it and it will make you stronger.
Be accepting - my Mum is many many things, in fact there are a month's worth of blogs I could write just about my Mother! But one thing she has always taught us, from how she treats people herself is to accept people for who they are.
If a Man came to the door dressed as Superman and goes by the name of Sheila she would smile graciously and call him Sheila. Yes always accept people for who they are, unless they are a massive tosser in which case move on from them.
Always believe in yourself and stay true to who you are, you won't go far wrong.
Read often, there is no greater feeling in he world than discovering a new book. Continue to take joy from reading.
Don't trust too easy - we always laugh at me for being overly cautious and at Grandma for being too trusting so just try to meet in the middle somewhere.
Forgive - it is better for your soul, for your peace of mind to forgive those that have hurt you and move on from them.
Have the ability to laugh at yourself, there is not a worse personality trait in the world than someone who takes themselves too seriously.
If all else fails remember this: "Love many, trust few and always paddle your own canoe" - it's an old American proverb.
I reckon you won't go far wrong if you live by it.