Don’t go, Summer

With the Autumn Equinox behind us and the weather on the turn I’m feeling really nostalgic for all things Summer…both the baby and the season! This summer season was a biggie for our family. The anticipation of our second baby arriving, our last few months spent as a family of three and an intense heat wave certainly made it a summer to remember. Wow! Those days seem so long ago already and looking back at photos of our adventures with Jasmine and ‘bump’ brings me so much joy. How is it possible that Jasmine already seems to have grown up into a different child yet again in the few months that have passed since then? I have such happy memories of our time in the hot weather, playing in the paddling pool in our garden, spending hours outside, having picnics and ice creams, going to our first ‘festival’ and boiling away in the intense heat with only a single fan in the house to keep us cool. I will fondly remember this summer of fun, the 3 of us (and bump), and the gorgeous never-ending sunshine which I’ve come to appreciate so much these days.

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Jasmine enjoying the sunshine in the garden
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Jasmine at her first festival 4 days before Summer arrived

Then there’s the other Summer, our aptly named second baby girl born during the heat wave of July this year who has transformed us into a family of four, made Jasmine a big sister and brought us all more happiness than we could have imagined. Summer is growing and changing so quickly and the weeks are flying by in a flash. She has a huge gorgeous smile, takes lovely long naps and has such an easy-going and relaxed nature (so far!) I am in absolutely no rush for her to grow up and wish I could slow down time to enjoy her just as she is, to soak in those snuggles and stare at those eyes. I already worry that my memories of her time as a newborn seem distant. Did I take enough photos? Will I remember those precious first weeks in years to come? Did I make enough time to take it all in? I haven’t recorded all the details or memorised the dates of her milestones because time just seems to have vanished somehow. (They said this would happen with baby number 2 and I guess ‘they’ must be right!) Summer will soon be 3 months old and although there is so much fun ahead of us, my heart feels a little sad that my little one is already growing up so much and there’s nothing I can do to stop it!

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Summer as a newborn

So summer is over and autumn is officially here. My newborn has grown in a flash and I’m left with a feeling of slight sadness and apprehension. The seasonal change at this time of year is always a challenge for me, let alone when the clocks change! I adore long light evenings and detest it getting dark at 4pm. I’ve noticed that with the seasons changing, my thought pattern is becoming a little negative and that is something I need to keep in check. I’m feeling disgruntled at thoughts of cold weather and the inevitable colds and flues that Jasmine will bring home from nursery and no doubt pass to her sister. I’m aware that the upcoming seasons present an even greater challenge to be productive and active and resist the urge to hibernate under a blanket every night of the week. I’m already longing for another summer of sun that now seems so far away. The transition this year is more difficult than ever because it carries more emotional significance and I feel like I’m saying goodbye to a time I will never get back again but have enjoyed so, so much. I know I need to remain positive, get outside, focus on my gratitude and move with the flow of life, which includes babies growing up and seasons changing and as always, I’m focusing on the lessons that all these feelings can teach me.

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Newborn yawns

Being your Mummy teaches me so much and no less on this occasion. This week and in this transition, I’m focusing my thoughts on these important things….

  • Practicing mindful parenting. Learning to slow down and savour those precious moments without distractions. Taking time to really ‘be’ with my children, whether it’s for half an hour or five minutes but to be fully present is such a rewarding experience but can be so hard to accomplish in today’s world of business and ‘to do’ lists.
  • Go with the flow. The seasons changing is part of life (especially living in the UK) and is also Mother Nature’s best work. Every season comes back around each year and moving with the flow of this can help me to remain tuned in to all the good things that they bring. Each season and each new stage with a baby brings about new beginnings and new things to enjoy.
  • All good things must come to an end. The glorious, precious newborn days (which I appreciated so much more this time round) may have come to an end but it doesn’t mean the memories aren’t there. The good things teach us what we love about life. For me this summer has shown me I appreciate hot weather and being outside with Jasmine and that I can strive to achieve elements of that in the other seasons too.
  • Take photos! Yes, technology is both a blessing and a curse and yes our phones can take us away from being present with our kids but I am so thankful for our ability to capture happy moments on camera with no limitations. One of my favourite things to do is look back at photos on my phone whether it’s from a year ago or a week ago and it never fails to make be smile thinking about those moments or talking about how much Jasmine and Summer have changed. Photos are a way of preserving memories both for myself and my girls.
  • Gratitude. This is the biggie! I know that when I’m feeling low or when those negative thought patterns kick in, coming back to a gratitude practice always lifts my mood. So rather than getting frustrated when it’s dark at 4pm and wishing for something else, I’m going to remember by gratitude practice. Gratitude for the change in seasons and the different experiences they bring. Gratitude for the abundant life I’m living. Gratitude for being a mother.
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Our smiley Summer

New beginnings

Jasmine fell asleep ridiculously early tonight and Summer is currently in her Daddy’s arms so I’m using this rare moment to sit here, and write. I recently came across several posts online that all carried a very similar message and one that spoke so strongly to me, I couldn’t ignore it. This message was one about doing the work in order to manifest your dreams and working out what may be blocking your ability to expand and achieve the things you can so clearly visualise but never seem able to do. Of course with a toddler and a newborn ‘time’ is not something I have a lot of, however, sometimes you can’t ignore signs from the Universe that all the right things are coming into alignment just at the right time so what better time than now to begin.

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In recent months I have written enough words to fill an entire book but the problem is these words are just stored in my head, the odd note written in my phone or as pages in my journal. They are words that have streamed out of me in a moment of pure emotion, in a moment of clarity or in the moments that follow a particular experience or conversation. Every single day I think about writing them down ‘properly’. I think about saving them somehow, sharing them with others, getting them out into the world. I think about whether my girls will read them one day and whether they would want to. Then something stops me. It’s not that I don’t want to share these words because I desperately do but there’s something there, something I can’t quite pinpoint, that holds me back. Perhaps it’s the fear of being so vulnerable, opening my heart up to the world? Perhaps it’s the work and time it will take to write these things in a way that can truly portray how I feel? Perhaps it’s the fear that it’s really just a pointless exercise and I should keep these things to myself? Perhaps it’s the fear of what people will think? Perhaps it’s everything.

I don’t really understand why my desire to share such personal things is so strong. Why do I feel that my words belong anywhere other than in my journal? What makes me someone who has an experience in life no different to that of millions of others, but one that comes with a whole narrative of its own? A narrative about my daughters and about motherhood. A narrative about women and our experiences. About feminism, about learning. About veganism, spirituality, personal growth, marriage, relationships and life. Narratives come to me almost every day and I now feel that if I do nothing with these words, at the end of the day, that would be just a big waste.

I want to keep these words for my daughters and my family so that one day they can read them and not only be able to learn about me as their mother but about themselves as young children and my experience raising them. They will be able to learn about the world as it is now with all it’s problems but all it’s beauty. The journey of motherhood, of which I am just really at the start, has truly been transformative in so many ways and to capture that is beautiful and has become my passion. It is my life and my experience on this planet and in so many ways being a mother, being your mother, is wrapped up in everything I do.

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The experience of Motherhood is a universal one. My girls, Jasmine and Summer, are unique in themselves and unique to me but my experiences as a mother are shared by millions. The highs and the lows, the struggles and the doubt, the learning and the reward and above all the love. Oh, that love!

So it’s time to start the work. I don’t want these words to disappear from my head. I want to capture them now, as they are, real, raw and authentic. They are me being vulnerable, emotional, unsure. They are me seeking growth, guidance and connection. They are me being passionate, brave and truthful. With all that, and all the fear, I question again why I feel so deeply compelled to share but then, I do know. I know the power of sharing because words others have shared have helped me. I know that words I’ve read about motherhood have brought me to tears, have made me feel less alone and part of something bigger. So part of me, a big part of me, believes that my words might just be able to help someone else too. Perhaps also, one day my words will help my daughters to carve their way through their own motherhood journey and know that I came before them just like my mother before me. If that’s not a reason to write, I don’t know what is.

This is for you my girls, my daughters, my heart.

 

 

 

My first week as a Mum of two

It’s a week now since I gave birth to Summer, in a water birth in our living room. She arrived 3 days early, catching me ever so slightly off guard as I was just settling into the idea of being pregnant for another week or so, as I was with Jasmine. Having been pregnant for a full 39 weeks and 4 days, much of that time spent with fairly crippling sickness, almost daily nausea and back pain, all of a sudden Summer was here and I wasn’t pregnant anymore.

Welcoming Summer was an absolute joy with her birth experience being everything I’d ever wanted it to be (more on that another time) but even the day after she was born I was hit by the feeling that I never quite got the chance to say bye to my bump. Which is strange to say, because Summer is here and she was my bump! But her slightly early arrival meant I didn’t stop to take in those last moments of being SO pregnant, to treasure it for those last days, to take final photos and to marvel at the female body and the transformation it goes through. In an instant it becomes a distant memory, with the squishy post partum pouch existing where Summer once lived. Although I’m enjoying the current freedoms and the novelties of all the things that come with not being pregnant, at the same time I’m strangely wanting just one more day with my big bump. One more day to waddle around, to rely on help to get up, to bask in the special capsule of time that is late pregnancy and to wonder who it is that I’ve been growing in there.

One of my last days being pregnant

Having said that, not being pregnant has already given me so many things to appreciate and enjoy. I feel energetic, light, able to move, freed from nausea. I can sit on the sofa in any position and sleep without worrying I’m going to crush baby if I roll to the wrong side. I can bend over to pick things up, climb the stairs quicker and not feel puffed out. I can help with the housework and have a spring in my step. Not feeling sick has made the biggest difference and just proves to me how sick I actually felt throughout my entire pregnancy, as now I can move freely, cook food, touch my toes, eat meals without stopping to avoid throwing up, do some yoga, stand up in less than 5 seconds and this feeling is magical too!

So here we are. Post partum with all its hormonal cocktails making you feel high on love one minute and like you could cry a river the next. My heart is absolutely bursting with love for my new baby. Maybe it’s because I know how much joy we have ahead of us, Jasmine having showed us the way with that. Even now, in this first week, I feel an unbelievable sense of love and attachment. With Jasmine around too, the time I spend with Summer is even more precious. I’m soaking in those cuddles, the smell from the top of her head, the perfection of all her tiny features, knowing full well how quickly the next stage will come and how quickly you forget what having a brand new baby is like.

Summer, just a few hours old

Everything has an ease this time around. I’m no longer a first time mum but a mum of two. As a family, we’re already in the flow of parenthood. We have meals to prep for Jasmine, naps to think about, activities to plan and nappies to change. We are already parents as we introduce Summer so we are just adding to the mix. Adding another dimension to the family flow and it feels just as if it has always been this way.

When Jasmine was born, I don’t remember having hours to relax in her first week. I don’t really remember ever feeling relaxed in those first few weeks. I remember being in love with her, staring at her and marvelling at our creation but I also remember being worried, second guessing, being in pain, trying so hard to get breastfeeding established despite it hurting so much. I remember wondering when she’d next wake up for a feed and when I’d next be needed. I remember my physical recovery after birth being slow and difficult and I remember a big sense of shock, although perhaps in hindsight I’m able to recognise that more than I did at the time! I cried a lot more and felt intense highs and lows of emotion. All very normal for a first time Mummy!

Jasmine as a newborn

With Summer, it’s so different and what fascinates me is why. Is it because I’m a second time mum and experience goes a hell of a long way? Is it my positive birth experience getting us off to such a good start? Is it just Summer being who she is and being super chill? It’s likely a combination of all those things and more.

The first time newborn experience is special all in itself, even if in comparison to this time I reflect on it as more difficult. It’s a beautiful time to welcome your first baby and start that rollercoaster of first time parenthood. To fall in love with your first baby and realise how much your life has changed. To find everything a challenge but realise everything is also a huge achievement. To become a family. A second baby is welcomed into an already existing family and so that experience will always be different. The achievements are still there, the joy and the love are still there. I’ve fallen in love with Summer instantly and it’s an overwhelming feeling of love. The relative ease of second time newborn life has me on an oxytocin overload and I’m actually enjoying it so much as opposed to willing it to get easier.

My two girls together

Summer is a week old already. For a week we’ve been a family of 4 and there’s an atmosphere of love enveloping our home. A sense of accomplishment, a sense of pride in both our girls, a sense of wonder as we compare them both, a sense of belonging, a sense that there has always been space for Summer here, in our home, in our hearts and in our family. I can’t wait for the coming months and years getting to know this little baby, who she is and what sort of personality she will develop and of course seeing Jasmine as a big sister too.

This time around truly has been a period of bliss. I can’t stop looking at Summer, stroking her soft skin, kissing her little cheeks. I can’t stop taking photos of her and telling her I love her. She’s the perfect new addition to our family and I’m so thankful that she’s here.

Baby Summer

An important note about being vegan

Dear Jasmine,

As you will probably know by now, Daddy and I are both vegan and we are also raising you not to eat animals, because for our family, that is what we believe in. Just recently, your Grandma asked me what we would do if you ask us why some people in the family eat meat. She was worried you might think she was evil for eating meat if we are teaching you that it is our belief that eating meat is not ethical. She was worried it would impact your relationship with her and it got me thinking that there are a few very important things I want you to know about being vegan and about people who aren’t vegan….

Firstly, being vegan is a great thing to do but it doesn’t automatically make you a good person. We are vegan in our family because we don’t believe in eating animals. (No doubt we’ll get into this more deeply another time!) It’s also great for the planet and for your health and contrary to popular belief, it’s also good for people! Being vegan is a core value at the centre of our family. It’s what connects us together and is a huge part of our daily life, identity and something that we really want to teach you all about as you get older. We love being part of a strong vegan community and we hope you will love that too. Daddy and I weren’t always vegan though and we didn’t always know what we know now. Your journey will be quite different to our own!

As much as we advocate for being vegan and whole heartedly believe in its importance, there are certainly people who are choosing a vegan lifestyle, albeit for all the right reasons, who may not be living with compassion in other areas of their lives. As I said before, being vegan is always a good thing but it doesn’t make you a good person. You have to work hard to be a good person and that means extending the practice of compassion to all animals, humans included. Sometimes, this can be the hard part and writing you this letter today is my own reminder to do better here.

Living an ethical and compassionate life can take many forms and let me tell you, there are plenty of people in my life who I love dearly and admire greatly who aren’t vegan. Most of my friends and family aren’t vegan but I love and respect them all for the people they are and the good they are doing for the world. There are many people, both past and present, who inspire me to be a better person or make better choices, who aren’t vegan. There are many people doing other amazing and important things for the world, who aren’t vegan. Animal rights is a hugely important cause to stand for but it’s not the only thing you can choose to care about.

So yes, it may be a little sticky if one day you ask me why Grandma and Grandpa eat meat or why your friends at school eat animals when you don’t but the thing you must remember is to see the good in everyone you meet and you will find so much about people that you love, whether they are like you or not. Non-vegans, like many of your family, have other passions, other things they love and want to change about the world, other ways they are helping make the world a better place and I’d love you to learn about all of those things too.

Being vegan is a practice of non-violence, of compassion, of empathy, of peace. It’s a fantastic way to live your life but it’s not the way for everyone and the reasons for this are very complex! Of course I want to see a more vegan world. A world where animals are free and don’t suffer but the journey to that world isn’t straight forward. So as you grow up, I’ll happily try my best to answer your questions when you ask them, if you do, but I trust that your heart is big and wide open and that you will love wholly and fully those who are important to you, in spite of what they choose to eat.

If you decide to stay vegan too, of course you can be an activist and of course you can shout from the rooftops if it means the world to you like it does to me. Of course you can help to save animals’ lives by having conversations with people who aren’t vegan and I will encourage you to do so. Of course you can go to animal rights marches and find your passion but don’t judge others unkindly along the way if they don’t share your beliefs. Always maintain a sense of understanding and love for your fellow humans. The spiritual practice of veganism isn’t simply not eating animals. It’s non-violence and compassion and empathy in all walks of your life. It’s trying to be the best person you can be, both for the animals and for everyone you encounter. It’s extending compassion to the homeless, to the poor, to the vulnerable, to the mean and seemingly terrible people in the world. For loving those it’s easy to love and difficult to love. If you can live with peace in your heart, you’ll be doing a fabulous job.

So if Grandma still eats meat when you’re older (you never know, she might not!) then don’t judge her for it. Love your Grandma for all the amazing things about her, all the things she can teach you and all the ways she shows compassion for the world.

Love from, Mummy

Xxx

Happy Birthday Jasmine!

Dear Jasmine,

Being your Mummy has been very special for me since the very first day you were born but today it’s extra special because it’s your second birthday! Two whole years have passed since you came into my world and every single day I am overwhelmed by my love for you. This year, although it might be an unusual birthday present, I’ve decided to start a blog for you! A blog is something that wasn’t even invented when I was a two year old and no doubt at one point when you read this in the future, you’ll probably laugh at me for being so old fashioned!

Since becoming your Mummy, my life has changed so profoundly and my head is full of a million things that I long to share with you, many of which you’re too young to understand yet. There’s so much I want to tell you but I also want to keep everything in a way that can last you forever. I want to share things with you about yourself so you can have stories about times you won’t remember, like today when you asked a random lady on the train where her glasses had gone. You notice everything! I want to tell you about being your Mummy and everything that means to me, including the mistakes I’m making along the way!

I want to share all this with you because, in truth, you and me are connected little girl. Ever since the day you were born, I’ve felt a deep connection with you. Mother to daughter, female to female, human to human. It’s so strong and full of energy that I almost don’t have the words for it. But this connection and this love I have for you is driving me to write. To share. To create. To give. I recently read a book that said, if you want to be a writer, write every day. Now, I’m not sure I want to “be a writer” but there’s certainly no better time to try writing than right now.

It’s now 15th March 2018 and the world is changing at an incredible pace. There is brilliance in our world. There is change, there is beauty, there is art, there is laughter, there is feminism! There is also some not so good stuff but it all makes the world we live in what it is today. I want to tell you about it all. I want to capture what it means to live in this time for you as a 2-year-old girl and me as your 30-year-old Mummy both growing up, just in very different ways.

One day, I want to share your birth story with you and tell you about my first few weeks as a new Mum. I want to tell you about the time I had a miscarriage and about being pregnant again with your little brother or sister. I want to tell you about your family, your Grandparents and Great Grandparents, your Aunties, Uncles and cousins. I want to tell you about the world, about important things that are shaping your future. I want to empower you as a female and help you navigate life’s challenges. I want to teach you to be open minded, to be kind (you are already so kind), to challenge injustice (I have a feeling you’re going to be great at this too!) and to give back to the world as much as you get from it. I want to answer all your questions and ask you some back in return. I want to tell you I don’t know all the answers but that together we can find them out.

Mostly, I want to be honest with you. Being your Mummy is my number one job and my most privileged one but it doesn’t come without its challenges. I’d never been a Mummy before you came along and so, quite frankly, you’re teaching me everything I know!

I’m starting this blog for you now because I am trusting that this instinct I have to start writing, really writing, could be something special. I sit down sometimes with the thoughts in my head and honestly feel I could write a book (not yet)! The words pour out of me and almost always, I find myself writing them to you.

Happy Birthday, Jasmine. I hope you can enjoy this gift for many years to come.

Love from,

Mummy

xxx