Our Time Will Come Again

 

Husband Wfie ImageBaby,                                                                                  (remember when I used to call you that?)

At the time of writing, I think I can count on one hand the number of words we spoke to one another last night. We didn’t argue and neither had we fought. We just put everyone and everything else before our own needs. Sometimes I wish we could just be a little more selfish. I wish we would not need to re-schedule or cancel date nights. I wish we could celebrate our anniversary and show the world we deserve to be celebrated, rather than dismiss its importance. We are passionate about family and yet we seem to forget the most important family of all. The one we have created.

The most common advice given to parents as they embark on parenthood is to enjoy it while it lasts and lately that advice has struck a deep chord with me. We are watching our daughters grow in both awe and disbelief at how fast time flies. I feel a pang of sadness as our eldest daughter ventures further out into the world, further away from my outstretched hand. At the same time there is an excitement growing inside me that one day we will be us again.

One day our evenings will not be taken up by cleaning sticky floors and kitchen surfaces, clearing away toys and writing in homework books.

One day our evenings will not be taken up by gardening, making packed lunches and the never-ending cycles of laundry.

One day our evenings will not be taken up by pleading with our children to eat their dinner and embarking on the never-ending cycle of picking up toys, cutlery and food from the floor.

One day we will not wake in the morning utterly exhausted from the cries and needs of our youngest or staying up at our eldest’s bedside, holding her hair while she is sick in our now christened ‘sick bowl’.

Our time will come.

Our time will come for cuddling up on the settee to watch Grey’s Anatomy.

Our time will come for candlelit dinners while holding hands.

Our time will come for spontaneous trips into London to the cinema or theatre or even pulling all the stops and dinner out in a restaurant.

Our time will come for bedtimes where I fall asleep on your chest while watching Family Guy.

Our time will come for uninterrupted conversations.

Our time will come for no longer speaking to one another in the third person.

I know these days with our girls are fleeting and one day we will miss all this beautiful chaos.

We will miss our daughters crawling into bed in the early hours of the morning, asking if it’s “morning time yet” while we wonder how long we can delay the inevitable.

We will miss the water fights in the garden.

I know I will miss our daughters climbing up your body while you sing the circus tune and spin them around upside down (even though I feel I’m having a heart attack each time).

We will miss our drum rolls in the morning.

We will miss family trips to the park where we inevitably end up in opposite directions depending on which child we have.

We will miss playing Wii games, Happy Families and board games on repeat as well as reading the same books over and over.

We will miss this.

So, let’s enjoy it all while it lasts. Let’s sneak in kisses and cuddles when we can and let our daughters see us doing so. Let’s hold hands on the rare occasion we are together during the day. Let’s link arms with the person pushing the buggy. Let’s put Cbeebies on for the girls when we want to have a 5-minute uninterrupted conversation. More importantly, let’s celebrate us more. Our wedding anniversary, engagement anniversary maybe even our month anniversary (remember them?)

It won’t always be like this.

Before them there was us and after them there will be us. It is knowing that after our girls have begun to pave their way into the world, we will find the path back to us again that keeps me going. So, let’s take the sleepless nights, the crazy mornings and the non-stop weekends knowing that at the end of it all there will be us again.

Love Always,

Your wife.                                                                                                                                         xxxx

Marriage Hands

Opening image: http://unknown-love-quotes.blogspot.com

Closing image: my own

 

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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

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

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

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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

Dreams Really Do Come True

love you celine

Tuesday night a dream came true.  I fought back fear and was seated in the O2 arena, listening to what some have deemed the eighth wonder of the world: Celine Dion.  I say fought back my fear due to the recent terror attacks in London. I was debating with myself whether it was selfish of me to go. What if something did happen?  Having children has definitely made me more fearful. More fearful of everything.

I was very uneasy of leaving my children anyway, my youngest is not even 4 months and my eldest is old enough to know that I won’t be home for bedtime cuddles and kisses. Getting to the O2, the security was much more stringent than I remember and despite my earlier protestations my husband and I enjoyed a wonderful meal together prior to entering the actual arena. To be honest, I felt uneasy throughout the night and when we found our seats I couldn’t help but look for the nearest fire exit and wonder how many people could make it out of the arena safely.

It was not long until Celine’s supporting act entered the stage. I had not heard of Veronic DiCaire before but I hope this night was not the last time. She was beyond amazing and although I knew Celine was coming on stage as soon as Veronic completed her set, I was left wanting more. She reminded me a lot of Celine in her looks, the way she spoke (as a French/Canadian she had the exact same accent) and she definitely warmed the arena with her voice and her charm. Commenting on the recent terror attacks, she remarked on the British resilience with such feeling, I was left in tears. She remarked on the need to celebrate music and that was exactly what we did. Terrorism is more than how many people are killed (as heart-breaking as each death is) but how much fear they bring to our lives. They want us to stop living as we do and I am so glad that I refused to let them win.

Excitement was building when the time came for Celine to come on stage.  What seemed to be from out of nowhere she was there.  Although the concert tickets were sold out Celine Dion is able to make you feel she is performing to you only.  She converses with the crowd throughout the show with humour and compassion and you feel she is talking directly to you. It all seemed so natural and unrehearsed. There was no grand display on stage, or grand costume changes. It felt more about being there for one another rather than putting on a show with grand lighting effects.  My husband fortunately brought good seats, however towards the end of the show, Celine broke with protocol and walked off stage, through the crowd and sang the last song from a podium less than 15 feet away from where our seats were. Having an aisle seat meant that Celine walked straight past me. Most people had their phones up to their faces and taking pictures but I wanted to remember that moment.  The moment she looked at me and smiled. The moment I felt that she and I were the only two people in that arena.

She may be thirteen years older than me but I feel I can relate to her on so many levels, as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister. We have both suffered the loss of a loved one through Cancer and know that grief is like the disease itself. You will forever be recovering rather than free from it. As she dedicated the song to the victims of the Manchester and London terror attacks, you could feel and hear the compassion she felt for everyone. 

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Celine Dion, despite her ‘diva’ status has no pretence in front of others, there was a moment when she was overcome with emotion during the concert. She is not shy at showing her feelings or at laughing and joking, even at herself. I feel I have walked away from the concert with a new friend. For me she is so relatable on so many levels as a person rather than a product that just happens to sing beautiful music. It was the memories of her singing at the O2 that helped me through soothing a feverish 4 month old to sleep in 33 degree heat while her older sister was crying for me to cuddle her. 

So many people say it is risky meeting your idols and that often our expectations do not meet the reality. Watching Celine at the O2 was reminiscent of seeing my daughter walking behind Elsa in the parade at Disneyland. Elsa spotted her and several times blew her kisses, made a heart and even sent her some magic. The look on my daughter’s face was unforgettable. Now I know how she felt. Reality did not meet expectations, it exceeded them. Not only that but I am determined to keep those feelings safely tucked away for times when I need to draw on them. Like last night.

It just goes to show that you never know the effect you have on people. In a similar fashion, you never know what is going on behind closed doors, behind the smiles that people portray.  That is why we must always be gentler with people, kinder and less inclined to judge them. I had always known that and have tried to put that in practice in my relations with other people, however it was watching Celine that bought it home for me. There is a reason that Celine Dion is as successful as she is, having a good voice is not enough. You need to be likeable. Relatable. Human. That is exactly what she is.

Celine

Opening image: my own

Second image: www.metro.co.uk

Closing image: blastingnews.com

The Self-Publishing Struggle

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Writers are always told to write what they know so for my first blog post back after a little hiatus I wanted to write about my experience of self-publishing. All the articles I have come across promising to shed light on how to manoeuvre through the self-publishing process only seem to concentrate on the professional rather than the personal.

1- It is the loneliest form of writing. There is no one to bounce ideas off of, no one to turn to for advice or to remind you of deadlines and push you to meet them. Agents and publishers don’t care how much housework you have, whether your child is sick or you are moving house or you have visitors.

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2- It is very easy to ‘miss the boat’ and so easy to push the importance of writing/publishing to the back burner in favour of family life and demands. It only takes one event to break the creative flow. Writing like many practices is only improved through practice. I so often feel I am taking one step forward and two steps back and for various reasons I have been struggling to catch up since June and feel I have missed a number of advertising/marketing opportunities for my current workload.

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3- If you don’t consider writing as important and part of your job, no one else will. So many times I have been persuaded to shut my laptop in favour of watching a film, a sitcom or political satire and due to my desire to please, my goals are again pushed back, it has happened so often that it is inadvertently expected of me. My husband often works from home and when he does often shuts himself away upstairs until his work for the day is completed.  On the other hand, I sit in the family room with a million and one things happening all at once and seem to forget that I am working from home as a stay at home mother and as a writer and should act accordingly.

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4- In the self-publishing process, time is often of short supply and it is so easy to take short-cuts in the hope you can get one step ahead. Take it from me, sometimes long cuts are needed to save both time and money. We are so often told time and time again that it is better to take your time and complete a job well rather than rush it and make mistakes and then have to repeat it over and over again. Oh the painful truths of hindsight.

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5-  The advice I hear from writers time and time again is to simply keep going. I am currently writing this from the glow of a lion nightlight in my daughter’s bedroom as she lays sleeping beside me recovering from a stomach bug and subsequent Meningitis vaccination. (The wonderful joys of her ‘big girl bedroom’ and a trundle-bed is that we can have ‘sleepovers’ whenever we want).   Even if it means you end up editing/proofreading subsequent drafts by torch-light, keep going. I wish I had from the beginning.

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Opening image: Areadingwritr.wordpress.com
Second image: Meganolearyfiction.com
Third image: Thewritepractice.com
Fourth image: Annecharnock.com
Fifth image: Quotesgram.com
Closing image: Helpdeskja.com

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