A Letter to my First-Born

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My Sweet Girl,

I remember there was a time you needed me for everything. From cleaning your teeth to reading a book. I watch you in the morning as I dress you in your school uniform, you choose your hairstyles and perform your daily perfume dance as I spray you with your favourite perfume from my collection. I watch you twirling around showing the family your chosen hairstyle and announcing the name we have just christened it with upstairs. As I watch you in the midst of packing lunch bags, tightening buggy straps, shoes and coat zips I am beyond proud of the person you are growing into, yet I ache for the little girl who once learnt to walk by holding my hand.

I remember watching you as a baby and thinking we had all the time in the world together, little did I know then that the time would pass much quicker than I could ever have anticipated. I now watch you with your YouTube and Barbie dolls immersed in your innocent make-believe world with a tinge of sadness, as with your babyhood I know this time will not last nearly as long as I would like.  I was warned that you would not be the same person by the end of this year: not only can you now independently read computer game instructions but you now have playdates on your own during which you “forgot all about me”.  You are at the difficult stage of finding your free will and not always following my instructions blindly and I am also at the difficult stage of accepting this without demonising this natural behaviour of a 5-year-old girl. You are my first taste of motherhood, you are my learning curve. I have never experienced this notion of guiding someone along the perilous path towards independence before so I hope you can forgive me for potentially taking this personally and reacting defensively.

This has been a year of firsts for us both: your first day of school, your first independent playdate, your first school disco. You are adamant that you are no longer my ‘baby’ despite my protestations but I hope you will forgive me if I baby you a little longer. As you crawl into my bed in the dark of night it reassures me as much as it does you. As you fall asleep in my arms each night, it reassures me that no matter how many independent playdates you have you will always return to me at the end of the day. It reassures me that should your heart get broken by boys, friends, bad grades or life that you will always crawl into my bed in the dark of night or find the same reassurance as an adult of falling asleep in my arms.

Each night before I go to bed I sneak into your room and kiss you goodnight and with whispers of “I love you” I disentangle you from your covers and each night my heart breaks. I feel I am losing you. As I write this, I am listening to the birth mix I created while I was pregnant with you. A few tracks sends shivers through me as I remember listening to them in the cloud of labour. I long to be back in that hospital bed with you about to enter the world and with all that time together ahead of us, when independent playdates are years away and when you needed me for everything. Instead I am staring out of the window into the dark of night and wondering if (and hoping that) tomorrow we will be able to snatch some golden moments together re-igniting the bond that was lit the moment we laid eyes on one another, whether that will be on the swings, playing tennis in the garden or walking to school and playing eye spy.

I promise you now that whatever we may be doing: getting ready for school, walking to school, doing homework, getting ready for bed it will be ‘us time’ not simply treated as chores to accomplish. I feel like time is slipping away and that soon you will no longer pick daisies for me wherever we go. Soon I will be sitting here with you away at university, on your gap year, or even upstairs in your bedroom when your walls are covered in your favourite pop star rather than princesses and unicorns, I know I will miss you still but I am determined to not miss you with regret.

Love you always,

xxxxx Mamy xxxxx

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Opening image: my own 

Closing image: www.quotesmixer.com
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The Beautiful Struggle

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“Do one thing every day that scares you”, easier said than done. However, for Maternal Mental Health week (30 April – 05 May), I will try my best.

As I write this, the clock is fast nearing midnight, the kitchen is still scattered with the days happenings and my bedroom resembles a mass of suitcases, moving boxes and washing baskets of either dirty laundry or laundry waiting to be put away. I have messages on my phone that I have not had time to answer all day and my to-do list is forever growing.

My youngest daughter is 15 months and when I look back on this time, there are of course moments of joy but overall, I fear there have mostly been moments of anxiety and apprehension. I have an older daughter of 5 years so I am not even what some call a ‘new mother’ but I feel I am struggling at the whole motherhood thing. On the outside I have two wonderfully behaved, polite, beautiful children who adore one another and I walk in the outside world with a smile and an upbeat attitude, internally I feel I am drowning and everyone is watching from the shore but no one is coming to help me.

I remember after the birth of my first child, my health visitor asked how I was feeling, I replied honestly and said I was a little tearful. Instantly her back straightened and she looked at me and listened to what I was saying for the first time it seemed since she arrived. She proceeded to ask me whether I had thoughts of harming my child etc. but not once asking about me. I have never had such thoughts of either harming my children or myself but occasionally still feel tearful and overwhelmed but would not dream of contacting anyone from the medical field for help. For all I know these feelings could be perfectly normal and the sensible less emotional side of me knows it is, but there are times I convince myself I am the only one to feel this way.

The birth of my second daughter was traumatic and recovery was more problematic than for her sister. During the birth of my youngest, not once was I examined in the delivery room. The midwife had her back to me the entire time and I delivered my daughter with no input, guidance or support from the midwife until the very end. Due to complications, I had to go to theatre and the effects of the operation I had still affects me today. My daughter’s tongue and lip tie were not diagnosed effectively in hospital even after being checked at least twice, breast feeding was hard, painful and not at all natural and on top of everything else, I had my eldest daughter to consider. She and I have a special bond and it was extremely hard for both of us in the early days when I was not so readily available for her. I felt I was just expected to cope and I was not allowed to feel anything other than overwhelming joy. Having said this, I think I am getting to terms with motherhood ‘for two’. The guilt I feel for my inability to split in two is lessening as I watch my girls together and witness the love and adoration they share for one another.

I wish I did have someone to talk to though when my youngest was born. Some of the time our feelings of apprehension and lack of confidence and self-worth do not rear their ugly heads until days or even months afterwards. Then they start to build and subsequently you are then dealing with a mountain of negative emotions and a new-born. I am still plagued with feelings that my daughter doesn’t love me or that I am not good enough for my children. For most of the time, I internalise these feelings but I know they are revealed in my lack of confidence and self-doubt as a mother. I think all mothers, first, second, third or even ten-time mothers should be given the opportunity to talk to someone as routine, not just given a leaflet but someone to listen to them. I know of one new mother who returned to work for a very well-known and reputable company a year after her daughter was born, on the outside she had it all she adored her husband and daughter but just weeks after starting back to work she threw herself in front of a train.

We are often taught to be kinder to others for everyone is fighting their own battles. It is similar to motherhood, on the outside we may watch someone enjoying a well-paid job, a bigger house, more money but there will always be battles that person is fighting behind closed doors, and rather than alienating people due to jealousy for their perceived fortune or to castigate others due to their parenting styles/choices children we should offer support and friendship. Depression is still deemed a dirty word, a weakness rather than an illness. We need to change that. We need to normalise the need to talk, particularly with mothers, encouraging the notion that needing to talk does not equate to being a bad mother.

Motherhood is definitely messy. Motherhood is sticky counter tops, it’s toys all over the floor and it’s laundry upon laundry upon laundry but it is also cuddles at bedtime, it is open-mouthed kisses and it’s overwhelming pride at their first steps, first words, first gold star at school. Motherhood is messy for all these reasons but also for all the emotions we face every day. It is messy for all the judgements we receive from the outside world, from fellow mothers, family members and those in the medical profession who are placed there to ‘help’ us.  Motherhood is messy because we are forever fighting to be enough, but we never are. There is never enough time for each of our children, for our partners, for the house, for ourselves. We are never enough. Motherhood is messy because sometimes its sitting beside an untouched fruit bowl while you comfort eat your way through your chocolate and marshmallow reserves in one evening.

This is real motherhood and there is no shame in struggling with the mess and not always enjoying it. It is not a reflection on your affection for your children if you don’t enjoy motherhood all day every day.

As I finish this, the kitchen is scattered with the days happenings, my bedroom still resembles a mass of suitcases, moving boxes and washing baskets of either dirty laundry or laundry waiting to be put away. The fact that I manage to prep for dinner as my little one naps feels like a huge accomplishment, after 3 hours sleep. Motherhood will always be messy but at the same time it is oh so beautiful.

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Opening image: www.passtheproseccoplease.co.uk

Closing image:  www.nextstepintegral.org

Happy Birthday, James xx

james-imgDear James,

I am so sorry those boys were mean to you and they hurt you.

I am sorry that they were not in school, huddled together in the school playground debating their football team’s performance maybe sharing or swapping football cards. I am sorry that instead they were skipping school, enticing you away from the safety of your mother’s side, forcing you on a 2 ½ mile walk before torturing and killing you on a railway line.

I am sorry they weighed your body down with bricks in the hope of making it look like an accident and that they left you with 42 injuries on your tiny body. I am glad though you were spared of the pain the train would have caused when it severed your body in two.

I am sorry I was not there to save you.

I am sorry that those nasty boys were and still are treated as the victims. I am sorry that  the state has bent over backwards to reward those nasty boys with what was taken from you: your education, your first girlfriend, your first pint, learning to drive even starting your own family.

I am sorry that you were in the wrong place at the wrong time as those nasty boys were watching children and choosing their target.

I am sorry those nasty boys were never punished for what they did to you and your name will always be associated with them.

I am sorry you never got to see your third birthday.

I am sorry your mummy and daddy has had to fight for justice for you all these years and no one has or is listening.  *

I am sorry I never got to meet you.

I am sorry it took what happened to you for people to be appreciative for what they have, myself included. I was a year older than those nasty boys when they hurt you, I do not remember a lot of the news reports about you but I remember you now. I remember you as I kiss my children goodnight, I remember you as I watch them play and run. I remember you as I watch them enjoying what those terrible boys took from you.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy, always remembered, never forgotten. May you always be surrounded by love and laughter.

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* More than 211,000 people have signed a petition raised by Denise Fergus, James’ mother, calling for a public enquiry into James’ murder case. Although parliament has finally agreed to debate the petition (after originally refusing to), please do continue to sign and show support for little James who would have been 28 years old: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/206851.

You can also show your support for James by visiting www.forjames.org, a charity set up by his mother to help and support young people who have suffered either through bereavement, a victim of crime, hatred or bullying.

 

Opening image: forjames.org

Closing image: clashroyale.wikia.com

 

 

 

A Letter to my Second-Born Child

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My Darling Girl,

Nobody warned me that one moment you would be a new-born baby lying in my arms and the next moment you will suddenly be a year old.  You came into a family already with a set of rules and routines but you slotted right in as if you were always there.

We have been a team from the start as due to poor care during your delivery, it was only you and I working in a rhythm that bought you into the world.  You slept in my arms your first night a little ball of vulnerability I promised to protect with every fibre of my being.  In the blink of an eye, you no longer seem a little ball of vulnerability as you stretch out on my chest in your twosies pyjamas that you are fast growing out of. But, I still whisper my promises to you every night to protect you with every fibre of my being.

Do not for one second allow anyone to make you feel second-best. You were so wanted by all of us. It really is true that when a mother has children her heart grows to accommodate the love. Like you I am my mother’s last and there remains something special in being a mother’s last. You have made motherhood feel brand new.

We have shared special moments this year that I will forever hold dear such as the way you fall asleep in my arms, resting your head on my shoulder, clutching a toy or item you have quickly grown an attachment to that day, whether it be a teddy or a little bottle of olbas oil. Once you are ready to sleep, you bury it between the two of our bodies, tucking it down safe. I will miss your open-mouthed kisses, the way you raise your head from my shoulder, look at me and smile before you kiss me on the lips and go back to sleep.

Every day I feel so lucky to experience motherhood again but also to experience it with you. No matter how old you are when you read these words I hope it reminds you that your Mummy loves you more than anyone. No matter where you are, what you do that will never change. I love you and your sister equally, regardless of your birth order. Your clothes and toys may be hand me downs from your sister but my love for you is most certainly brand new and I promise you now it will forever remain that way.

Thank you, my darling girl, for coming into the world. Thank you for completing our family and showering it with your love and laughter. Thank you for your patience and your smiles, your open-mouthed kisses and your night time cuddles. I can’t wait to spend the rest of our days together with you, loving you, guiding you and nurturing you.

Happy Birthday my little flower,

Love Always,

xxxxxx Mama xxxxxx

 

Opening image: thelibertarianrepublic.com

An Open Letter to my Husband

Husband and wifeAs I write these words, you are sitting before me on your laptop, as we both often are these days. The television is on and although we are both watching the same programme and sitting in the same room, I feel we are rarely together.

I miss you. I see you every day in the cloud of parenthood, the achievements of our children from their phonics and reading ability to their pincer movements and growth spurts but I rarely see you.

I’m sorry you get to see me perpetually exhausted in the mornings as we rush about the morning dealing with nappies, breakfast, book bags and lunch boxes and similarly in the evenings as we rush about clearing up toys, the dinner, sterilising bottles and now packing an endless supply of boxes in preparation for our upcoming house move. Quite often throughout the day I feel I am brimming with words I want to say to you, but when I do get the chance, we are usually on the way to bed when we are quite often asleep before our heads hit our pillows and neither of us are in the right frame of mind.

Know that although I may not run to you as I once did, I still look forward to you coming home each evening.

Know that I am not stupid for refusing a toilet break in the morning, knowing that in doing so I find a decent parking space at school, I get to walk our daughter to school in a manner that I can reassure her at a time she needs me. And be back home within 10 or 15 minutes, a well-practised and I must say fine working routine. Motherhood has aided with this when I don’t often get round to eating or even going to the bathroom all day.

Know that these days I don’t have a home but a workplace, this will hopefully change when I get my much-needed office space but until then the living room is my office, as is the kitchen, bedrooms and even the bathroom. Therefore, boxes that are left in the living room are left in my office, clothes and items scattered around are scattered around my office.

Know that I love you.

Know that when I am making plans and writing lists, delegating and checking things are done, I am not nagging or disbelieving your capabilities, I am simply project managing my office just as is done at your office.

Know that you are my rock.

Know that when I am scrolling through social media at the end of the day, it gives me a let out. It is my way to wind down.  My working day does not end. I no longer have that relief of shutting the door to the world, the office, the deadlines. As you know, my phone is only used for necessity during the day when I am with our girls. The moment I wake up to the moment I close my eyes I am in work mode.  I wish I could read a book as I once did. I wish I could relish the feeling of a book in my hands and the scent of its pages but I am simply burnt out. For now, social media is my escape as it is for so many.

Know that I am eternally grateful and appreciative of the opportunity to stay at home with our girls. That although I do feel burnt out, I have never been happier.

Know that although I love motherhood I miss how we were pre-parenthood. I miss our kisses goodnight, our cuddles in the morning. I miss resting my head on your chest as I fall asleep each night.

Know that I see you. I see you rushing out in the morning in the hope of returning to hear our eldest read at night-time. I see you getting up to our youngest in the night so you can have father/daughter time and also so I can sleep. Know that I see you in the every day.

Know that sometimes although you are the maker of my much loved hot chocolate and marshmallows, I need the strength to not reach for the biscuit tin but the fruit bowl in the evenings. Know that I sometimes need you to be that strength.

Know that sometimes it is a good thing to worry. I know I worry too much but sometimes I feel I need to worry for the both of us. Sometimes worrying is a good thing, it stirs us into motion, it keeps the wheels turning.

Know that sometimes I feel we parent separately rather than together. I love being with our girls but sometimes it’s nice to have company.

Know that we both have a responsibility to one another to go to bed early.

Know that listening to Our Special Music brings back the memories of our early love and the pain of our separation and reminds me how much I love you and feel truly lucky to be your wife.

Opening image: my own

A Promise Of Kindness

images2018

It’s that iconic time of the year again. The time for looking forward to new beginnings and fresh starts. Resolutions and promises. The time for new hope. It was at this time in previous years, I would make grand promises and resolutions for change that I would invariably break before the sun set on the first month of the year.

It’s that iconic time of the year again. The time for also looking back and reflecting on what has been. Of facing our regrets and remembering what we have tried so hard to forget throughout the past year. Fortunately for me, the birth of my second daughter has overshadowed many more melancholic times and looking back on the past year all I see is our family becoming complete.

I recently came across a wonderful video by the wonderful Kristina Kuzmic, entitled “The Things We Tell Ourselves” and it resonated wholeheartedly with me. There have been things I have told myself this past year I would not dream of saying to anyone else. So, instead of making a long list of resolutions and promises, I will be making one change this year. To be kind to myself but also to push myself. To be strong enough to ignore the television in the lounge and write. To grab whatever time I have as a parent and achieve what I need to, rather than using tiredness or having children as an excuse. I do not want to be in the same position as I am right now. I may not be the CEO in a multi-million company but I am the CEO of the company that is most important. Despite this, I want to write more. I want to read more. I want to sleep more. I want to like myself more and in order to do that I need to be kinder.

So in order to be kinder, I will be writing once a month on my blog on various elements of 2018 including my dream of finally publishing a public piece of work that I have delayed for five years now. I want to fall asleep reading or listening to music rather than trawling through social media sites or Amazon.

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So with the help of Kristina, I want to be kinder to myself. I want to tell the little girl in this picture that she is good enough. That it is okay for her to be first sometimes. That she is a good mum, successful and important. She is a good person and valuable. When I think of what I have told myself this past year of my performance as a mother and my value as a person, it breaks my heart that I have in essence been telling this innocent little girl who is an image of both my daughters and how I would feel if anyone would ever be so harsh to my girls.

So as Big Ben chimes in 2018, I look forward to much of the same as this year but more importantly I look forward to treating myself a little more kindly. So Happy New Year, everyone. May it be a year full of love, happiness and more importantly kindness.

 

Opening image: medicalnewstoday.com

Second image: my own

Proud Beyond Words

mother and daughter

As many people have learnt, a lot can happen in a year.

Since your fourth birthday, you have become a big sister. You have had to go from having my undivided attention to having to share me with someone else. So many people have warned me of the jealousy that you would feel and maybe the dislike or resentment of your baby sister. You have proved them all wrong. All you have ever shown your little sister is love, a testament to the mother you one day hope to be. You have shown understanding beyond your years when I have been tired beyond imagining, particularly when your sister was just born. You have cuddled me, stroked me through my tears of exhaustion and reassured me that I am still a good Mama, even though I can not devote my entire time and attention on you. You have made me proud beyond words.

Since your fourth birthday you have started school. It was a time of uncertainty for you. The longest time you and I have ever been away from one another. It was a hard few weeks at first but although there were tears in the mornings, upon entering the school gates, in true British style, you held your chin up and walked through those doors. In your teacher’s words you built relationships with your classmates and with your teachers and worked hard in your lessons despite your hidden feelings of self-doubt and misgivings. You have made me proud beyond words.

Since your fourth birthday you have gotten used to falling asleep on your own because your father is late home from work and your little sister woke and will not settle. You lie there waiting for me to read you stories and more often than not I do not return before you fall asleep. Sometimes I return to kiss you goodnight and whisper “I’m sorry” in your ear, you sleepily reply “that’s ok” and hold out your arms for a cuddle. In that moment, you make me proud beyond words.

Since your fourth birthday you have learnt that nothing is your own now you have a little sister who looks up to you more than anyone. You have watched as your sister plays with your precious Barbie collection. When I say playing, I mean sitting on them, sucking on them, messing up the arrangement you so carefully made the night before. You insist on sitting beside her at the dinner table each and every day and have learnt that your cutlery and even your own dinner is no longer your own. The moments you share your dinner with your sister (even though she had her own, exactly the same as yours) you make me proud beyond words.

Since your fourth birthday you have watched me deliver your sister with a calmness and emotional maturity beyond your years and the moment I saw you for the first time as a big sister, you made me proud beyond words.

Since your fourth birthday you have grown in confidence, sticking up for your beliefs and never letting anyone say a bad word against your loved ones, and in each moment  you fight for what you believe is right you make me proud beyond words.

I could go on.

——

You have learnt that very often your days consist of playing a waiting game, but my darling girl on the eve of your 5th birthday I want you to know that in no way are you second-best. As you fell asleep in my arms tonight I promised you as I have done many times before that I will be your constant, as you have been mine.

Happy Birthday my sweet Princess, may you always know how much you are truly loved. 

mother and daughter 2

Opening image: clipart-library.com

Closing image: videoblocks.com

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