“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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Let’s meet in Down-dog

Down dog, cobra, tree, cat-cow, eagle, fish, lotus….no, I’m not talking about my love of animals and nature, I’m talking about yoga, or more so, the lack there of.  The ‘me’ before having children practised yoga all the time. The hashtag “yoga every damn day” got used on my Instagram photos almost, well, every damn day and I even had the naivety to imagine that I’d spend my first maternity leave practising yoga whilst the baby slept and becoming a pro hand stander in my spare time. (Feel free to pause here to laugh at my foolishness!) The pre-baby me went to yoga retreats and classes, read books, had way too many pairs of yoga pants and even considered applying for yoga teacher training. Yoga was a huge part of my life and identity, both for the physical exercise and the spiritual practice. It was my down time, my work out, my escape, my hobby, my passion. Yoga is even what led me to veganism. After Jasmine was born, I tried to cling onto my yogi identity by practising when I could and getting Jasmine involved on the mat, doing some baby yoga and making time lapse videos of our efforts but it didn’t last for long.

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Baby Jasmine practising on her mat!

Baby Jasmine soon become toddler Jasmine and things then got even crazier. Throw in returning to work, new found passions, business ventures and eventually falling pregnant again and yoga got pushed even further down the to-do-list, taking a long old rest in child’s pose, waiting for me to catch up again.

Now with two children, when things have been getting a little overwhelming, OK, a lot overwhelming (blog coming soon) I’ve felt a big pull towards yoga, yet not been able to get there. You know, that classic feeling of knowing what’s good for you but instead of hopping on the mat, I’ve been hopping onto the sofa to watch TV. I think perhaps now though, I really need it. I know I need to move my body more. I know I need to build strength again, to use my muscles, to flow, to release, to sweat, to cry. I can do all that on my yoga mat. I can have fun, be creative and relax. I can calm down, get energised and learn something new. Yoga can be the outlet for absolutely everything I am yearning to have yet feel that I’m missing.

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A spot of acro-yoga on the beach

At the risk of sounding like a total cliché, I think I am seeking a way back to parts of my old identity, when being a Mum wasn’t my everything and when raising two young girls didn’t take up 99.9% of my daily energy. All the other hats we wear as Mums get a smaller piece of the pie now too…wife, friend, professional, let alone having time for our passion projects. Why is it as Mums we seem to have a never-ending wish list for time? Time for yoga, time for making photo albums (sorry girls, I still haven’t started yours), time for an uninterrupted shower, time to read a book, time to tidy that cupboard of crap over there, time to complete a million and one jobs I could list to you if I simply had the time to write the list! Of course, it’s all a case of prioritising and certainly we can all make time for the things we really want to achieve, even if it takes slightly more effort to do so. I think I am seeking a way back to parts of my old identity, when being a Mum wasn’t my everything and when raising two young girls didn’t take up 99.9% of my daily energy. All the other hats we wear as Mums get a smaller piece of the pie now too…wife, friend, professional, let alone having time for our passion projects. Why is it as Mums we seem to have a never-ending wish list for time? Time for yoga, time for making photo albums (sorry girls, I still haven’t started yours), time for an uninterrupted shower, time to read a book, time to tidy that cupboard of crap over there, time to complete a million and one jobs I could list to you if I simply had the time to write the list! Of course, it’s all a case of prioritising and certainly we can all make time for the things we really want to achieve, even if it takes slightly more effort to do so.

When I stepped on my mat earlier today it was like riding a bike. The postures and the flow came straight back to me, like I had never left after all. It didn’t matter that my body was stiff or in pain or that it was only ten minutes. I instantly felt that wave of relief and that space for deep healing breaths. I immediately felt a sense of belonging and longing and I immediately knew I need this back in my life.

So, here’s to project “get back on the mat”, I am very, very excited!

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Let’s get back on the mat!

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.

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

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