A bed time to remember

Jasmine, you just amazed me with your kindness, your maturity and your compassion.

I was lying with you at bed time, stroking your hair to help you relax as you had been rather excited. Daddy was out so it was just me and you, with Summer already asleep in her bed.

Summer suddenly started crying, which isn’t unusual but as you probably knew when you heard it, that meant I needed to go to her. I told you I’d be right back but you burst into tears and insisted on coming with me which of course, I allowed, because those tears were pure sadness.

You sat quietly on my bed whilst I lifted Summer out the cot and cuddled her back to sleep. I wondered what you were thinking then, seeing me cuddle Summer. Were you jealous or just watching? Were you sad or comforted?

I put Summer back down and we snuck out but in your innocence you started talking a little too loudly, waking her once again as we got to the door. Hesitantly, we went to your room and I hoped, maybe, although I knew it wouldn’t happen, that Summer would settle on her own because the thought of leaving you again to go her had my heart all twisted and sad. Instead you turned around and said, “oh Mummy, Summer is crying you need to go give her a cuddle.”

You gave me permission to go to her, not because you were trying to stay up later but purely because you understood it’s what she needed. I was so grateful in that moment for your kindness, being able to soothe Summer once again without worrying (too much) about you.

Again you sat on my bed as I held your sister in my arms. You popped back to your room to grab your Ellie Nellie and then lay still on my bed, watching, just quietly. I put Summer back in her cot but she woke up crying straight away, wanting more time with me and wanting to feed.

We went back to your room and I explained that I needed to be with Summer for longer. I explained that I’d come right back to you just as soon as I could. I explained that Daddy was out when you asked for him.

I fed Summer and she calmed instantly, her head becoming heavy as she found sleep again and I could hear you in your room, waiting, understanding, yawning and sighing. You could’ve been crying, pulling at my clothes wanting me all for yourself as often happens at bedtime but tonight was so different.

I came back to you and you were awake, ready for cuddles of your own. I held you and told you how proud I was that you’d waited for Mummy and how kind you had been to Summer. I told you what an amazing big sister you were.

Then you paused and looked up at me. You said, “I want to share my Mummy with Summer,” and those eight words of kindness overwhelmed me. I love you so much, angel girl.

To the lady who made my daughter cry

Dear unknown lady who made my daughter cry,

I do understand that what you did had good intentions, that you didn’t set out to make my daughter cry and that you were trying to be helpful. I do understand that it wasn’t the most convenient thing for my two year old to want to walk independently down the stairs of Oxford Circus Underground station by herself, at her two year old, slower-than-average pace, at a busy time of day on New Years Eve. She wanted to navigate those stairs by herself and why shouldn’t she, seeing as she does all other stairs by herself all day long. On top of that, her father and I had our hands full carrying her baby sister in the buggy downstairs because there’s no lift access at many of London’s major tube stations.

According to you, however, my two year old walking down the stairs had caused a little queue behind her. A queue of busy adults in a busy adult rush tutting their busy adult tuts at having to wait a few more seconds to reach the station. You appeared next to my daughter and briefly asked me if I’d like any help, which at first I thought was very kind and considerate of you, because actually, it was a little stressful trying not to drop anything or anyone down those stairs. I politely said “no thank you” knowing full well that my daughter was capable of doing the stairs by herself and more-so, that she wanted to. Also, I didn’t really think it was a problem! Perhaps you are a mother yourself, knowledgeable that toddlers can be a little slower to get things done and just genuinely wanted to help. I get it, trust me, but I’d like to explain a little more about what happened next.

Despite me declining your offer to help, you suddenly picked up my daughter by the armpits and swiftly jogged her down the stairs before quickly disappearing to catch your train, leaving her standing alone waiting for us. My daughter, clearly shocked, highly uncomfortable and pretty angry let out a huge scream. A scream of discomfort, a scream of “hey, what the hell just happened?” A scream that filled Oxford Circus tube station for several minutes. A scream that needed me to explain to her why a lady had just picked her up for no apparent reason, violated her personal space, her ability to make decisions for herself and her choice to be physically touched by a stranger. If you think I’m overreacting, I urge you to keep reading.

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You didn’t stop to ask her if she wanted to be carried downstairs (I guarantee you she would’ve said no). You didn’t stop afterwards to apologise for making her cry (I guarantee you heard her, she is not one to cry quietly). You didn’t stop to consider whether or not it was appropriate to physically handle my child without her consent or mine.

So I’d like to ask you, lady from the tube station, would you have also done the same to a slower paced adult who was forming a queue behind them? An elderly person with a walking stick? Someone with a disability? A teenager on crutches? Would you have picked them up without their consent too? I didn’t think so. Does my daughter, simply because of her young age and portable size, not deserve the same respect and courtesy that you would show someone else? Is she not as entitled to use the stairs and complete them herself just as everyone else can? Is it appropriate to touch her just to make life more convenient for the adult population?

“I didn’t like that lady pick me up,” my daughter said to me once she had regained composure. “I know sweetheart,” I replied, “I didn’t either.” I fumbled for an explanation but my whole body ached with empathy towards her as she stood with tears rolling down her cheeks and a look of sadness and confusion in her eyes. My child did not want to be touched by a stranger during a special family day out in London anymore than you or I would want to be.

Sadly I see it all too frequently. Adults picking up children without their consent, for reasons that are usually rather selfish, the child then trying to wriggle away in discomfort. Children deserve ownership of their bodies as much as they deserve ownership over their precious possessions. So in future, lady from the train station, please consider the thoughts and emotions of my child, or any other child, before picking them up. Wait for consent and if it is not given, please respect that choice.

Yours sincerely,

Naomi

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“Excuse the face,” and other things Mums need to stop saying

“Excuse the face,” is probably something you’re either guilty of saying or privy to hearing amongst your Mum friends or maybe just your female friends in general. If it’s not that then maybe it’s, “I haven’t even put any makeup on today,” “gosh, I look so rough,” “excuse the bags under my eyes” or, “sorry I look such a mess.”  We are full of these apologies, prefixing conversations or meet ups with friends with a comment about our seemingly less than acceptable appearance, as if the need to do so comes as a priority before anything else we may want to say.

I am so guilty of this. So guilty. I apologise for the way I look or the way my house looks all the time….even to my best friends! Although it’s often very true that as a busy and extremely sleep deprived mum of two, I haven’t put makeup on or do in fact have bags under my eyes, this is just my daily reality. I don’t feel my best or my most confident but I do not need to apologise for this. If I take a photo to capture a real and present moment of my motherhood life and see my bare face, my dressing gown and my wild postpartum hair, my immediate reaction is to find fault. Even when it’s a moment I want to cherish or share, I see my greasy hair in a mum bun and those pesky tired eyes and feel like it’s not good enough, that my appearance or the dirty dishes in the background take centre stage over the looks on my girls faces as we cuddle on the sofa first thing in the morning.

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Although it may be stating the very obvious, we do not need to apologise for our appearance to anyone and especially not to other Mums. We are a collective group of super women doing the hardest job in the world and we are worth so much more than our appearance. We are up all night, surviving on very little sleep, making sure the needs of small people are met all day long and yet we still feel the need to look a certain way in order to feel OK about ourselves.

Our tired eyes and messy hair exist because we are working our butts off with barely a second to ourselves. Our clothes are stained and our floors are dirty because we are mothering all day long and getting the kids’ breakfast ready comes higher up the list than applying foundation.

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Do you know what the most crazy part is? When we bring children into the world we are at our most vulnerable. Our most exposed. We are raw and unfiltered, often amongst total strangers. Nature forces us to let our guards down and become the most natural, powerful and miraculous versions of ourselves that we may ever be. Then we spend the months that follow fulfilling a societal pressure to look good (thanks Patriarchy) and apologising when we feel that we don’t. Our children hear these phrases. Our children copy our every move and learn so much of their own self worth from our actions and our words. Our children hear their mothers apologising for how they look but not their fathers.

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Of course there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel good in our own skin and if you choose to make that a priority, more power to you! I for one would love to have time to blow dry my hair or put makeup on every morning and I know in many ways I would feel better for it. I would feel more confident, more uplifted and more like myself. Makeup can give us that little boost when we don’t otherwise feel great, but please, let’s stop excusing ourselves to others. Let’s talk about what we are achieving, succeeding at or most importantly how we are feeling. “I had such little sleep last night so I’m not feeling great,” is so much better than, “I had such little sleep last night so I look awful,” because I think really, that is what we are trying to say. I’m not feeling great and could really use some more sleep. I’d love some time to myself because I’m feeling overwhelmed. Can you help with the dishes because I’m feeling like there’s too much to do. That’s what we really want to say, isn’t it?

So next time you’re about to utter an apology for your face, just remember this. Our children never judge us for the way we look. I’ve often thought about how I get the same happy smiles and the same kisses and cuddles from my girls whether I’ve just rolled out of bed or whether I’m wearing makeup and have my hair done. It’s like they just don’t see any difference or even if they do, it changes nothing for them. I’m just their Mummy and any version of me will do just perfectly.

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Is it just me?

Is it just me who loves being a Mum
But also wishes I could have more fun?
Is it just me who finds it so tough,
Day in day out, it can be so rough.

Is it just me whose house is always a mess,
Who frantically tidies before having guests?
Is it just me who feels like a winner,
When I don’t just make pesto pasta for dinner?

Is it just me who wishes for time
For yoga and books and other things mine?
Is it just me who always feels tired
But being a good mum keeps me feeling inspired.

Is it just me who plays all day long
Whose baby smiles at her favourite song?
Is it just me who worries too much
Because I’m not doing enough of such and such?

Is it just me who wishes for sleep
Who hears the baby wake as soon as they peep?
Is it just me who sometimes cries
When you suddenly realise how time flies?

Is it just me who opens the door
To check on her babies just one time more?
Is it just me who wants to run away
To forget my responsibilities just for one day?

Is it just me whose eyes fill with tears
As I think about my hopes and fears?
Is it just me who never quite knew
Just how much I’d change having you?

Is it just me who learns every day
Because you are the ones who show me the way?
Is it just me who stares into your eyes
And wonders how I won the prize?

Is it just me who is awake all the night
Feeding and cuddling and holding you tight?
Is it just me who needs to be told
“You’re doing great,”… that never gets old.

Is it just me who needs a break
Perhaps a hot tea and a big piece of cake?
Is it just me who gets driven mad
Who feels everything in between happy and sad?

Is it just me who worries about you
Like sometimes I just don’t know what to do?
Is it just me who can’t do it alone
And is thankful for all the mums in my phone?

Is it just me who escapes to the shower
For 5 quiet minutes but wants a whole hour?
Is it just me who can’t stop kissing those cheeks
Who wants to slow down the passing weeks?

Is it just me who feels incredibly proud
Who wants to show the world and shout it out loud?
Is it just me who never feels good enough
I should probably be doing more crafty stuff?

Is it just me whose dream has come true
By becoming a mummy to both of you?
Is it just me who doesn’t want you to grow
Yet wants you to, so there’s more I can know.

Is it just me who needs more time for self-care
For exercise, napping or washing my hair?
Is it just me who thought I knew how it would be
But then becoming a mother truly humbled me.

Is it just me who has a big dark fear
That something bad will happen when I’m not near?
Is it just me who does the same as my Mum
Giving a magic kiss better when you hurt your thumb?

Is it just me who needs her friends
To help with all that motherhood sends?
Is it just me who gives a laugh and smile
When I watch that old video I haven’t seen for a while?

Is it just me who wants to protect you from bad
In a world that can sometimes seem a little bit mad?
Is it just me who has marks on her skin
From the days from when I grew you within?

Is it just me who wants to give all Mums a hug
To offer support with a drink in a mug.
Is it just me who wouldn’t change a thing
Who can’t wait to see what the future will bring.