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
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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

I Love You Enough…

Home made party cupcake with a number candle on topFour years ago  I embarked on the breathtaking journey of motherhood. This past weekend my little girl turned 4 and today I applied for primary schools for her. It seems wrong somehow. I still see her as the vulnerable little baby that entered the world not so long ago and later took her first vulnerable steps towards my open arms.

I make a habit of telling my daughter that I love her multiple times a day, even when she is sleeping, however every day I wonder how much she knows I love her and whether she will ever know.

So to my little four-year old girl I hope you know:

I love you enough that I would go without so you could have that extra treat.

I love you enough to always put you first.

I love you enough to always include family in our lives so the memories you make with them will last long after they have gone.

I love you enough to say “no” when I need to.

I love you enough to be the bad guy when I need to be, even though it breaks my heart to do so.

I love you enough to be hard on you sometimes to encourage you to be the best you can be.

I love you enough to not resent you when you push the boundaries but instead to respect your need to push those boundaries.

I love you enough to ignore society’s definition of  perfection  (although for me you are perfect).

I love you enough to sometimes let your father take the lead.

I love you enough to make the perfect reality for you.

I love you enough to never quit.

I love you enough to make my dreams a reality for you rather than for any self-regarding quest for gain.

I love you enough to never regard what I have ‘given up’  for motherhood as a sacrifice, but a privilege.

I love you enough to never let you forget how much I love you.

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Opening image: sevenhillsrunningshop.com
Closing image: lovethispic.com

Looking Back On Motherhood

lookingbackI have spent the past month in denial of the inevitable. The inevitable that in fact happened this week. My little girl turned 2. She is 2. She is no longer 10 months, 18 months or even 20 months. She is 2.  I now no longer refer to my daughter’s age in months but years. It has been both the longest and shortest 2 years I have ever had. It has been the most tiring yet the most rewarding. I am now wavering between joy at watching my little girl grow and develop and learn new things and sorrow for the days, months and years that have passed.

My sleep is no longer regular, my evenings are long gone. My cleanliness is a rare commodity these days and my husband and I share few moments alone. However, my life has been enriched more than ever before. For a moment or two, I would like to speak from a personal point of view about what motherhood has done for me:

1- I have learnt to love my body. It is not perfect and there are many things I would like to change. However, I look at myself in the mirror and I see a body that created my beautiful girl.

2- I have learnt to have purpose. Before she came into our lives, I would work only to pay the bills. Now I work for her future. My dream of writing has become fused into my dream of providing for her. I am now able to pursue what I have really wanted in life, while doing a job (motherhood) I absolutely love.

3- I have learnt to put myself last. As a stay at home mum in particular you are last after your child, your husband, your ironing, your cooking, and your cleaning. I used to never walk out of the house without make up. Never answer the door in tracksuit bottoms. I would never go without showering for more than 2 days; I would never go without straightening my hair. This is not a sacrifice to me for I do not go without these out of duty but love.

4-  I have learnt to play again. To crawl inside a play tent at playgroup and for it to be okay to get stuck. I have learnt to dance and to sing in public and for it to be okay to be out of tune.

5- I have learnt that no matter how exhausted I am, there is always enough in me to play one more game, to cuddle her a little more, to read her the same book again one more time.

6- I have learnt that my parents love me more than I could possibly have imagined. I think now of the sacrifices they made for me and the love they had for me to make those sacrifices.

7- I have learnt to imagine again. Imagine this empty box is a boat; imagine the table is a house. I have learnt to block out the less important preoccupations and welcome the more important matters back into my life.

8- I have learnt to see the beautiful in the not so beautiful. The beautiful in the piles of laundry, the stacking dishes, the crumb encrusted floor. I have learnt to see the beauty in family life.

9- I have learnt about unconditional love. As cliche as it sounds, you will never understand what that means until you become a mother yourself.

10- I have learnt of new ways and new reasons to love my husband. I would never have thought I would enjoy watching my husband fall in love with another woman, yet watching him excel in his new role as a father has renewed my faith in both him and our marriage.

I used to think I was the teacher in the relationship but I realise now my daughter is the teacher and what a wonderful teacher she is.

motherdaughterphoto

Opening image: www.marcandangel.com
Closing image: pixgood.com

The End To My Distracted Parenting

distractionparentingMy mobile phone broke  recently, I use the word broke to imply it was hit by a wooden toy hammer by my near two-year old. At first I felt very insecure, similar to hanging off a cliff edge without a safety net. I used my phone for everything: from shopping and shopping lists; to listening to music; to medication records for my daughter. I would use my phone to catch up on social media while getting my daughter to sleep both for her nap and at night. Only occasionally would I use it to make phone calls. As a replacement, I insisted on using an old phone we keep in reserve for international visitors, the only one without easy access to social media and the Internet.  It has now been about 2 weeks and I must say I have not looked back..

For a while now I have resented bedtime, resented the disruption to my casual social media catch up of the day. However, without the distraction of technology I have enjoyed night-time cuddles so much more. I realise now that rather than being a comfort social media has been more a distraction. Me time no longer involves Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, it involves cuddling my daughter in the rocking chair and feeling her little fingers wrap around the loose strands of my hair.  I now resent the social media I once craved for.  I do not want my daughter’s memories of me as being on my phone, my iPad or my laptop. I want her to always look at me and see me looking back at her.  I want her as an extension of my hand, and not a cold, metal piece of technology.

distractionmum

I was told recently that it is unhealthy that I spend so much time with my daughter. One day she will start nursery then will attend school full-time and I will be left with an empty nest. Yes, no doubt I may very well stay in the car park until the bell rings and will highly likely suffer more from separation anxiety than my daughter will. But, is that not the price of motherhood? So many people talk of motherhood as a sacrifice: we as mothers give up so much to raise our children. We give up regular showers, clean clothes, nights out, even solitary trips to the bathroom. I know it will likely be harder for me than for  her when the time does come for her to enter the world without me, but that to me is the sacrifice of motherhood. Already, I can’t believe that next month she will be two years old. It feels like yesterday when I bought her home from the hospital. I remember thinking how a year seemed such a long time when she was a baby, but now one year seems so insignificant. And it is only one more year until she enters the world without me by her side. I do not want to spend this last year distracted by status messages and tweets.

The social media networks are a wonderful thing and we all know and enjoy their benefits, myself included. Having said this, I would prefer my daughter to  fall asleep watching my eyes laying upon hers, rather than she fall asleep watching the light from my phone flickering across my distracted eyes.

motherslove

Opening image: www.babypost.com
Second image: themominitiative.com
Third image: bestquotesfb.blogspot.co.uk

Motherhood: Competition and Cliques

motherhoodcompetitionYesterday my daughter refused to take her afternoon nap. Nothing I did would placate her nor entice her to what I call the ‘land of the bunnies’. She had the tiniest of meltdowns come 6:00pm when I was getting her ready for bed, only because she was so tired. During the day I, however, was having the meltdowns of all meltdowns albeit mostly silently. As my daughter played contentedly beside her sandpit yesterday afternoon, I was convincing myself over and over that I had done something wrong. That those of the Gina Ford clique would never have a problem such as this. Looking back, I am now berating myself for allowing those thoughts and feelings to ruin the day I had with my baby girl.

I took my daughter to her first birthday party this past weekend. Talking to the other mothers there, and comparing notes on our little one’s bedtime and naptime routines, I couldn’t help but feel a slight note of self-righteousness when their little ones were in bed by 7:00pm while my little one is often falling asleep in the arms of either her father or me at 9:00pm. And yes, I still cuddle my 21 month old to sleep. And yes, she very often comes into bed with us during the night. Those at the party were not as bad as others who have outrightly told me I am a bad mother because I don’t leave my daughter to cry herself to sleep at night. I have been told that it is wrong my daughter is not in nursery as it affects her ability to communicate with other children her age. A theory which my daughter has blatantly thrown out the window.

My mother once remarked how it was much harder in her day to raise children and although to a certain extent I agree with her, she is not completely accurate. As parents we may have technology on our side; we may have the latest gadgets, baby monitors and medicines but we no longer have society on our side. There is forever a debate in newspapers, magazines and across the Internet about whether mothers should leave the home for work or not, whether the child is in nursery or not, whether as mothers we breast feed or not. Whichever option we choose it always seems to be the wrong one. I do not judge others as parents as long as they give love and gentleness and as naïve as this might be, I expect others to offer the same courtesy. I do not regret how I have raised my daughter over the past (nearly) two years and if I could turn back the clock, I would genuinely do exactly the same thing. Cuddling my daughter to sleep works for her. I still remember calling my father in the middle of the night. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I grew out of it and so will my daughter.

To me, motherhood is the greatest calling. As a mother I am shaping a person, I am teaching her about the world. Being a mother has made me a better person because I want my daughter to be a good person. She now seems to watch my every move. Just the other day, she tried to place toe separators between her toes and paint her toe nails because she has watched me do that countless of times.  Looking back again on yesterday, I don’t remember my daughter ever being truly unhappy and that is what is important.

mothersinstinct

haters

I just don’t understand why if mothers feel they are lacking, they need to put others down to make them feel good. Why not better themselves? Forget the corporate world, motherhood is the most competitive. I understand why but we have to remember there is no race to the top, no fight for promotions, no fear of redundancies. We are all in this together, I think it is time we act that way. I am now nearly two years into motherhood and I would not exchange it for anything in the world. No gold, nor riches could ever replace what motherhood brings to my life.  I regret caring so much of what other people thought of me as a mother and would hate for other mothers to feel the same way. My advice to everyone out there is to follow your mother’s instinct (and yes you do have one) and listen to your child. Each and every child is different. What works for one will not necessarily work for another, and that includes siblings. I hope we can now as mothers refrain from putting others down and instead raise one another up so we can be the best mothers we can be.

TogetherOpening image: wikihow.com
Second image: imom.com
Third image: en,paperblog.com
Closing image: mothering21.com

The Loneliness of Motherhood

lonelinessWhen people say motherhood is lonely, they are absolutely right. But not for the reason they think. Yes, my days are sometimes lonely, having only my 18 month old to keep me company. Although we do go out together; we go to clubs and classes, for the majority of the time we are on our own. That is absolutely fine with me.  I love waking up everyday knowing that I get to spend another day with my baby girl. I love knowing that to a certain extent I am shaping her character and her view of the world.

Lately though I have felt the pressure of motherhood, the pressure of getting my daughter to meet the expectations of others, even the comparisons made with her cousins. I have been lonely not because I do not  have anyone to talk to but that nothing I do seems to be good enough. Even when I used to take my daughter to her monthly check-up at the local health clinic, I would walk away feeling like the worst mother. The worst mother for not continuing to breastfeed my daughter (even though she had a medical condition that made this near impossible). The worst mother for weaning my child onto solid food one month early (even though as soon as I placed her in her high chair that very first time, she sat there with her mouth open). I feel like the worst mother because my daughter does not always eat well at mealtimes. She is still on 3 bottles a day and for the most part, I’m still feeding her when she does eat.

I feel lonely because as a mother in today’s society I am constantly bombarded with what I am doing wrong, and not what is going right. I feel lonely because there is no one there to counter balance the bombardment. I feel lonely because all motherhood seems to be is a competition. We all have struggles in life and just because we outwardly portray collected lives does not necessarily mean that is the case.I often feel I am being punished for choosing to stay at home with my baby.

Just recently, I attended a birthday party for a family member. It was my first time away from my daughter during the evening and although it was an enjoyable night, what was less enjoyable were the sympathetic looks I got from people. One individual even looked at me with a tilt of her head and a feigned, sad smile and remarked: “you will go out again, promise me”. Not once, not twice but more than three times. I admit that I really enjoyed getting ready; wearing jewellery and make up and straightening my hair. My heart and mind, however were back home. It is my choice to stay home and everyday I consider myself lucky to be able to do so. In fact that is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I even turned down jobs and consciously held back my career pre-motherhood so I would have the freedom to be a stay at home mum. As a child, I used to say I wanted to be a housewife (I actually thought you got paid). This past Christmas, I was made to feel like a bad mother because I would not let my daughter cry herself to sleep. My husband and I both agree and are more than happy to cuddle our daughter to sleep, no matter how long it takes.

I don’t understand how and why mothers are judged for going to work or staying at home, for cuddling her baby or for letting her cry. Shouldn’t what really matter is whether the mother loves her child wholeheartedly? Answers on a postcard, please…

Mother-Teresa-Love-Quote

Opening image: vidzshare.net
Closing image: funchap.com

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