19.

19. 

At least 19 children will no longer come home at the end of the day. 

At least 19 children will no longer look forward to their summer holidays. 

At least 19 children will no longer squabble with their siblings. 

At least 19 children will no longer graduate, get jobs, get married, have children. 

At least 19 children will no longer look forward to Christmas and birthdays. 

19. 

At least 19 mothers will no longer be able to kiss their children goodbye or welcome them home at the end of the day. 

At least 19 mothers will have one less place to lay at the dinner table. 

At least 19 mothers will no longer tuck their children into bed at night.

At least 19 mothers will have to bury their children due to the incomprehensible acts of another. 

At least 19 mothers will no longer hear the sounds of their children playing.

Hug your children. Love them hard.

For them.

For you.

For those who are no longer able to. 

Photo by Pete Alexopoulos on Unsplash

Dear Husband, Our Love is Like a Chameleon 

It was always a fight with us even in the beginning, whether that fight be with the distance, the time difference or language. We fought and we won. 

At the start of our lives together we were separated by oceans, reunited but literally homeless, both house and pet sitting to have a roof over our heads at night. You were jobless, I wasn’t. Then I was jobless and you weren’t. I learnt to carry you and you learnt to carry me. 

As we settled into our lives together, love was candlelit meals, dinners out, spontaneous theatre trips, jet setting holidays and cosy nights and lazy mornings. At least that is what I always thought. Now I understand that love does not take any particular form. We often get so disappointed because those closest to us are not loving us the way we want them to, but we forget they are instead loving us with all they can. 

Sometimes love looks like making one another jump in the dark. Just because. 

Sometimes love looks like laughing at yourself. 

Sometimes love looks like the early morning rush to get the school run done on time. 

Sometimes love looks like the early evening rush to get bedtime done on time. 

Sometimes love looks like putting down the phone and just being.

Sometimes love looks like criticism. 

Sometimes love looks like the giving and accepting of accolades.

Sometimes love looks like forgiveness and moving on.

Sometimes love looks like saying you’re sorry.

Sometimes love looks like tidying up the mess even if it’s not yours.  

Sometimes love looks like random Whatsapp messages sent during the day. 

Sometimes love looks like thanking the other for the little things, taking the bins out, ironing the shirts or cooking the dinners. 

Our love may be hard sometimes but it is so worth the fight. A fight we will always win. 

A Mum Just Like Me

There’s a mum out there who is just like me, 
She loves a good book and drinking lots of tea. 

We are both raising our children the best we can, 
While we dream of a world full of love and peace 
Where wars will forever cease. 

There’s a mum out there who is just like me, 
She provides dinners everyday for her family, 
From takeaways to an ancient family recipe.

We yearn to put our feet up at the end of the day, 
But we still need to clear up from our children’s ceaseless play.

There’s a mum out there who is just like me, 
Her body has changed and hair shines with grey

But, agonisingly her life is no longer like mine, 
She has had to leave so much behind 
She is still a mum who is just like me 
But from her home she was forced to flee.

Her country is being destroyed by war 
Her children are not safe to play anymore
She leaves her home and her people in a trail of tears
And is now dependent on the entire world's prayers. 

So we must give and we must pray 
In the hope the world can find a way
For her children to run outside and play. 

There is a mum out there who is just like me
She likes her books and her cups of tea. 
There is a mum out there who is just like me 
Except now she has to live as a refugee. 









Supermarket Flowers

Supermarket flowers are not sufficient to celebrate your life. They can not begin to signify what your life was worth. The love and laughter you have planted in my memories. Today would have been your 80th birthday and these past days and weeks I would have given anything to have been scouring shops and Amazon for the ideal present for you. Maybe we would have all met and had a meal in our favourite Iranian restaurant where you once sat beside me as I blew out my own birthday candles one year. My hand resting on your leg as it so often did. Instead I am buying supermarket flowers to lay at your graveside.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about you and wish you were here. Sitting in our living room playing with your moustache or pacing up and down the garden under the moon and stars listening to your music. Or watching your granddaughters grow. 

They are stunning, Papa. 

You will never pinch their cheeks and in your language exclaim “what a girl I have”, you will never call them your “Princess”. They will never rest their head on your shoulder as they read. They will never hold your hand as they walk home from school or curl up on your lap. They will never build towers “as tall as the sky” with you. It has made it my purpose to do these things with them to not take your place but to bring you closer to them. They will never do these things with you but they know you. They think of you often. They have dreams of you.They pray for you. They come home from school with feathers they found because “Grandpa had come to see them”. They feel you here just as much as I wish you were here. If they love you this much before they have even met you, I can not imagine the sheer level of love when they are with you, which makes your absence all the more heart-wrenching. 

If it is true and sadness deepens depending upon the level of connection once had, your name must be drenched in sorrow. On the other hand, I never want your name spoken with sorrow or regret but with the love and happiness you showered us with. 

I miss holding your hand, I miss resting my head on your shoulder as I curled up beside you to read a book. I miss listening to music with you. I miss sitting beside your feet and listening to your childhood tales and stories from your homeland. I miss what you would have had. I miss you watching Iranian television with my husband. I miss hearing you both speak in the language you loved and lost. I miss your amazement and awe at the ever increasing Iranian media content you would have had at your disposal. I miss the joy of going back home with you. I miss watching you being a grandfather to my children. 

I want your grandchildren to speak your name. I want you to be more than a stranger in a picture frame, more than just a name of someone in the past. You don’t belong in the past. You belong in the now. I want them to know your favourite colour, your favourite film, your favourite music. I want them to know how you loved and I want them to learn to be just like you.  

Seventeen years and it does not get any easier. There are days when a song, a scent or a taste will bring the grief barriers tumbling down and the pain of our separation will feel as raw as it did at the beginning. There are occasions when a flicker of light at the corner of my eye will convince me you are standing in my doorway. I look up expectantly only to be reminded that you are no longer here. I fear sometimes that my girls are grieving for someone they have never met but I hope the grief is worth it when they think of what they have gained by having you in their lives. How proud they are to be your granddaughters and the comfort they share knowing you are waiting for them and protecting them. 

I don’t need flowers to show you were loved. I hope it is clear as you walk into our home. Nor do I need flowers to show you lived. I hope it is clear in me and my children. Until I can run into your arms like I used to. Until you can hold my children in your arms, pinch their cheeks and tickle them with your moustache, exclaim at their beauty and declare “what girls I have”, those supermarket flowers, however insufficient they may seem, will always be laid with love.

Happy 80th Birthday, Papa. 

Always loved. 

Never forgotten.

Let Kindness Win

My daughter is failing. She listens attentively to her teacher, puts her hand up in class, completes each set of homework on time and yet she is still failing. She is failing to understand why kindness is not prevalent in the world. She still believes in the good in others and who am I to dissuade her from thinking as such? She believes that whoever smiles at her can only be good. Someone can hurt her one day but smile at her the next and all is forgiven. Some may regard this as an admirable quality and I agree, it is. However last night it was plain to see that this same quality opens up my nine year old to a lot of hurt, confusion and tears. It is a constant battle between wanting to protect her but at the same time giving her the strategies in which to navigate this herself.

Becoming a mother, I wanted to leave children in the world who make it a better place, who give money to the homeless, smile at people, hold doors open for people, be a friend to the lonely. However, I see now that it opens up my children to so much hurt and I can’t help but feel to blame.

So how can I help her to navigate the ever increasing cruelty she has sadly come to expect each day? Driving home from the school morning drop off, thinking of the crest fallen expression on my daughter’s face, my heart was breaking. I could not help thinking that as her mother, it is naturally my fault. I have raised her to be too sensitive, too kind, too polite. I am too expressive in my love for her. However, as her mother it is my job to provide her with the armour she needs to navigate through the battle and come out the other side relatively unscathed.

My Darling,

1- If you can be anything in the world, be kind. Even to those who hurt you. More often than not, the hurt people aim at you comes from a place they know. It is well-known that on some occasions, bullies have been bullied; the hurt hurt others. Don’t necessarily take it personally.

2- Conversely, those who pick on you do so for a reason whether that be jealousy or on the understanding that they will never reach your heights and so want to bring you down to theirs. If you want to look at the teasing and sniggering as anything, look at it as a compliment and I hope then it won’t hurt so much.

3 – Most importantly, and maybe this should be first: Never Change. There is a fine line between changing yourself and changing how you interact with others. So many times I have smiled and chatted with others who I know have been causing trouble for me behind my back. I know what they are doing, however choose to smile and converse with them because it is easier to play ignorance rather than harbour destructive feelings.

4 – Do not let the brokeness change you. Always remember that good can not exist without the bad. In suffering you can find strength and resilience. In failure you can find motivation and a greater appreciation for success. Never stop looking for the beauty in the world, no matter how hard it is to find it.

5 – Always remember that everyone is facing their own battle. The grass is never greener on the other side.

6 – Always be kind, from the top to the bottom. Always treat everyone equally – whether that be the CEO of an organisation or the cleaner. Kindness and respect are free but so far reaching.

7 – Never look down on people unless you are helping them up.

8- Don’t ever forget to be kind to yourself, having an early night; reading a good book; immersing in a hobby or simply having a disco in your bedroom. It’s easy to deplete yourself when you are often thinking of others. Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.

9 – Understand kindness. Sometimes that means occasionally letting your little sister win at the morning stair race or playing Beauty and the Beast with meaning for the upteenth time.

Some of these points are not new, they have been borrowed from other people but have become my mantra in raising you and your sister. Darling Girl, you are doing so well and making me so proud. Kindness always wins. Maybe not straight away but eventually it does always win.

Be patient.

Be kind.

Be true.

Be you.

Love always,

Xxx Mama Xxx

What I Want My Daughters To Know

It’s amazing how the moment my youngest was placed in my arms, I felt fully complete. Now I’m looking to the future of my two girls in a world that at times is a lot more cruel than it is kind, and I’m filled with fear and trepidation that I will fail at shaping them into the fine young women I know they can be. I want to celebrate their uniqueness rather than carve them into who I want them to be. Having said that, there are a few elements that I want to become ingrained into who they are as they navigate the world.

There will always be bad people in the world who do bad things. Look for the good ones. Always keep your eyes on what is good in the world.

Remember quality is quite often more important than quantity. It is better to have only one good friend rather than 100 bad ones.

Never let money guide you in making decisions.

I don’t care what you choose as a career as long as you work hard and you are happy. 

I don’t care who you marry as long as they treat you right and they make you happy. 

Never let jealousy into your lives. Once you do, it is hard to make it leave. It will open up all sorts of unhappiness and will open a chasm in your life that will never close. Jealousy eats away at you and changes who you are. 

Never apologise for saying no. Stand up for what you believe in. Whether that be with me or your peers.

If you can be anything in this world, be kind. 

Try not to standby silently. If you see something wrong try and have the courage to stand up for what you know to be right. 

Remember you can always talk to me. Even if you have done something wrong and you think I will be angry. I will always support you and walk beside you. No matter how big your mistakes are, I will always love you. 

Read. The beauty of reading is that you can learn about the world from the safety of your armchair or the cosiness of under your bed covers.

More importantly, always look out for each other. Even when you are older with your own families and life pressures. Always make time for one another. I am never happier than when I see you both together, walking into school holding hands and running to each other at the end of the day. I am never happier than when I see you both growing as friends and not just sisters. Be one another’s friend. Always.

 

I Just Can’t Wait To Be Mama Again

I just can’t wait to be Mama again. 

When my kitchen is no longer a classroom

And families no longer log into zoom.

I just can’t wait to be Mama again.

When my printer can finally get a rest

And I have reasons again to get dressed. 

I just can’t wait to be Mama again. 

When maybe just maybe there will be a little more time 

And I don’t mean just for buying on Amazon Prime.

I just can’t wait to be Mama again. 

When we can spend sunny days at the park

And play together with our friends until dark. 

I just can’t wait to be Mama again. 

When the news isn’t all about infection and death rates 

When we are reunited again at the school gates. 

I just can’t wait to be Mama again. 

To return to work and write

When finding the time won’t always be a fight. 

I just can’t wait to be Mama again. 

When my children run to me at the end of the day 

When siblings have time again to play. 

I just can’t wait to be Mama again. 

But I will miss their playful chatter 

And even their incessant natter! 

I just can’t wait to be Mama again. 

But I will miss our walks hand-in-hand

When sometimes things didn’t always go as planned. 

I just can’t wait to be Mama again. 

To wrap my arms around them at the end of the day

And listen to all they have to say. 

I just can’t wait to be Mama again. 

To again navigate the frantic morning rush

While dreading the mid-morning hush

I just can’t wait to be Mama again. 

I hope they saw someone who had tried

And tried her utmost to be a guide.

I just can’t wait to be Mama again!

A Bittersweet Letter

Darling Girl,

Motherhood. It is so bittersweet. 

One day you won’t fall asleep nose to nose with me, with your hand wrapped tightly around my neck. 

One day you won’t need me to read you stories. 

One day you won’t reach for my hand as we venture out of the house. 

One day you won’t run to me at the end of the day. 

One day you won’t want me to play with you. 

As I type this surrounded by your birthday confetti and gifts I feel time is slipping away. You are now four years old and no longer a baby.  As I  spun you around today, you suddenly felt so much bigger in my arms. I think of the day you were born and I long for that first night you had in this world, sleeping in my arms. There are days where I long for bedtime when everything seems to be too much but when bedtime comes and the house becomes silent, I find myself scrolling through pictures of you and wishing I could turn back time. 

The hardest part of motherhood is not the sleepless nights, the lack of privacy or the neverending to-do list but it is the bittersweet everyday achievements, each first is the beginning of your lasts. 

As your due date came closer while I was pregnant with you, I wondered how I could possibly love you with the same fierceness I love your sister but the moment our eyes met I knew we were meant to be. The world stopped turning and the second I held you in my arms,  I felt like I knew you already. Never for one second believe you are loved any less than your sister, a mother’s love is truly limitless and I will continue to remind you of that each and every day. 

I just wanted you to know that I will be forever proud of you and of being your Mama.  I will always be here. I will always endeavour to give you what you need. I will always fight for you. 

Always, 

xx Mama xx

“It’s All On Me”

I’m desperately trying to practice what I preach, but it’s hard to stay positive. There is a voice shouting inside me reminding me how lucky I have been through all this. Not only myself but my family. We have all remained healthy and in work and wrapped within the loving walls of our homes.

However, now I know what it means when something weighs heavy on your heart. My eldest daughter is happy to be home. My youngest doesn’t know any different. As a mum though, I feel for my girls.

For the school uniform that has now become part of her dress-up costumes.

For the friendships that were never made.

For the teaching they never had.

For the independence that was never experienced.

For the normality that is now lost.

I’m laying here on the eve of the summer term hoping these feelings that envelope me will spur me on to ensure that my youngest will not be left behind and my eldest will not fall behind.

I once heard someone say, “I’m a mum, it’s all on me”. It is all on me to make up for their loses, to grieve for what they don’t understand and to ensure mechanisms are in place for them both should their futures lose a little of their promised brightness.

It’s also all on me to ensure that this unprecedented time gives them memories of not fear and worry but of paddling pools in the garden, Barbie games in the middle of the day or afternoon naps curled up on the garden swing.

It’s a new world out there. It’s scary but it’s on me to ensure it doesn’t break us.

I Hate You

pexels-photo-4031867.jpeg

Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

 

I hate that the hallway is empty of schoolbags.

I hate that my daughter can not understand why her world has shrunk to the confines of our home.

I hate that I cried because my daughter did not start nursery.

I hate that space we were saving on the wall beside my eldest’s nursery photograph remains blank.

I hate the fear of not knowing when this will end.

I hate that I’m literally washing my hands raw.

I hate the guilt I feel every time I look at my daughters.

I hate that my 7 year old’s heart is heavy with emotions and feelings she is far too young to understand.

I hate that my 3 year old has so many questions in her eyes and no way of understanding the answers.

I hate that I have become their teacher and speech therapist overnight.

I hate that it has taken this for the world to have a deeper respect for teachers, NHS staff and other key workers.

I hate that the breakfast bar has become my daughter’s classroom and the living room my youngest’s nursery.

I hate that the slightest sneeze or cough can incite such fear.

I hate that just as I get my time to write and develop my career I have to give it up. Again.

I hate that I worry about that when others have lost so much more.

——-

I don’t hate anybody but I have never felt such hatred for you. Covid-19. 

——-

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