Time to look forward, not back.

“2020, what a year that was” will be a common phrase in the years to come.

As 2020 draws to a close, it’s now a time to look forward now rather than to look back but when I start to go over this past year (aside from the obvious pandemic) there have been quite a few moments where in years to come I’ll actually feel quite proud of what I achieved in 2020. It may have been a year where I worked for just over half a year in my actual full time job but at any given time during the past 12 months it really has felt like a tough slog. Both mentally and physically. Far tougher than the usual 40 hour working week. Some people probably won’t realise that and think you can just quickly adjust back into the usual day to day routine. That certainly hasn’t been the case.

Showing our appreciation to the wonderful NHS staff during shielding

As a family going into 2021, we will still feel the repercussions of the 19 weeks shielding, 14 of which were just the four of us within the proximity of our own home. It’s not a healthy lifestyle, it’s a humdrum experience. I used to think spending a full weekend at home with the kids was tough enough but now it’s a doddle! So much so the kids don’t even ask or mither to go anywhere at the weekends and that to me just isn’t right? I honestly believe it will take a while until we’re anywhere near back to a fully functioning family. Yes life for us as a family changed in February 2018 but it also had similar repercussions from March 2020 to August 2020.

Before Alfie’s diagnosis, I personally wouldn’t have had the confidence in my own ability or even the drive to make what happened in 2020 actually happen. They would purely have been an afterthought. As I’ve said in previous blogs, when you’re hit with a diagnosis like Alfie’s you either sink, stay afloat or you swim the bleedin’ channel. Yes at times, I’ll admit it really does feel like quicksand and it’s a massive struggle to haul yourself out but other times you’re on the crest of a wave and everything just clicks.

James Corden’s birthday message for Alfie.

One of those 2020 defining moments is Alfie’s 6th birthday and if you’d have said to me this time last year that I’d be instrumental in getting (yes I’m going to list them all!!!)… James Corden, Ant & Dec, Sir Chris Hoy, David Tennant, Jodie Whittaker, Stephen Mulhern, Ben Shepherd, Matthew McNulty, Ben Batt, Charlotte Hawkins, Catherine Tate, Laura Tobin, Gethin Jones, Andy Burnham, Robbie Savage, Jermaine Jenas, Robbie Fowler, Emile Heskey, Jason McAteer, Adam Lallana, Stephen Warnock, Leon Osman, Gabby Agbonlahor, Chris Kirkland and Alfie’s favourite film character, Mr Poppy to wish Alfie a happy birthday then I’d have just laughed and said yeah right!!!

Yes I had help from various resources and yes these people were more accessible as at that time everyone was at home but I actually made it happen! I’m not bigging myself up (well maybe just a little!) but I’m extremely proud of what I achieved back in April and I’d like to think that more importantly those celebs listed above will not only remember Alfie in the years to come but they’ll also recollect they know about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. After all raising awareness is the most important aspect in all of this!

Another outstanding personal achievement for me was to get involved with the charity, Together for Short Lives. Honestly I have never come across a more amazing set of people who are willing to go the extra mile for families like ours. Not only have they supported us through some tough times but they’ve also given me a platform to voluntary help other Dad’s / Carers in a similar situation in the form of Brew’s Brothers. I have to admit it’s been a bit slow in getting off the ground and it really is a work in progress in getting guys to make that step but I know already for those who have joined up on the group that it’s really making a difference. It’s something I feel that is vitally important going forward. Men need an emotional outlet in all walks of life but even more so when they’re dealing with their child’s diagnosis of a life limiting illness. I still to this day don’t feel comfortable talking about how I feel, I never will but through Brews Brothers meeting other men who are going through equally, if not tougher times, than yourself is reassuring that you’re not alone.

Our Zoom call with Together for Short Lives ambassador, Mason Mount

The voluntary work I’d done with Together for Short Lives then lead to us being asked to base their Christmas campaign around our story and saw patrons Holly Willoughby and Peter Andre plus ambassador, Mason Mount appealing to ensure that this Christmas families across the UK, caring for a seriously ill child, aren’t left feeling isolated.

As I said earlier I’m giving myself a little pat on the back and making a testimonial for myself but it’s also to a message to anyone reading this who is in a similar situation to just go out there and make that ‘brainwave’ happen and don’t let it become an afterthought. The worst possible outcome is that you will get knocked back. If that happens think Chumbawumba!

I’m making sure in 2021 that some aspects of my life change for the better and having a bit of confidence in my own ability will be one of them.

Have you had thoughts on how you will go forward in 2021? Post any comments below or in the social media comments section.

Thank you to each and everyone of you who has helped us through this year. Thanks also to everyone that has taken time to read my blogs. It’s very much appreciated.

We wish you all a very Happy and prosperous New Year.

Lots of love from Kieron , Louise, Mila-Rose and Alfie XxxX

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