I have been a fan of X Factor for years, but this year, I cannot watch it. Every time I see his face, I remember that the day his youngest child died was the day my youngest child turned eight months old and my heart breaks for him and his wife.
I also cannot watch the news this week, because April Jones mother’s face shows everything I dread most in life. It was the same for me when Madeleine McCann disappeared.
I am now a mother for over seven years; it is what defines me more than anything else as a person. There are times when I cannot remember my life before my children. I know I worked and played hard, got to see some of the world, fell in and out of love a few times and took stupid risks I now realise I was just lucky to get away with.
But now, everything is different.
It’s not just the normal stuff, like being tired all the time, not realising I have porridge on my eyebrow for hours after breakfast, puke/snot/play dough on my clothes, never using a bathroom alone.
It’s something else.
I am, by nature, a very emotional person and my children have been a constant source of dehydration for me via my tear ducts through the years. However, starting with the disappearance of innocent little Madeleine, I have changed. I don’t know if it has been perceptible to those around me but I have hardened somewhat to the outside world.
I now know that beyond a shadow of a doubt, there are bad people in the world and even though I cannot understand how their first instinct is not to love, protect and feel for a child, I know it to be true that there are those who will harm children if they get a chance. This doesn’t just apply to whoever took Madeleine and April; it also, appallingly applies to some of those who should cherish children most.
I am also infuriated by those cold, unfeeling people, who believe that when something bad happens to a child, it’s always the parents fault and think it’s ok to say so on the world wide web.
I cannot blame April Jones parents for allowing her an extra half hour out to play as a reward for doing well at school because I’ve done that many times for my children. I cannot accept that just because Gary Barlow has three other children, the loss of his fourth shouldn’t be so tough because I know that from the moment you feel them move in your belly, they own your heart till your last breath.
Our children, like taxes and death, are a great leveller for all of us the world over. We, well most of us, adore our children and will lay down our lives for them. It is our strongest strength and sometimes, heartbreakingly, our weakest weakness.