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.

Could 2019 really be the year?

I am one of those people who quite enjoys the strange time between Christmas and New Year, where you don’t quite know whether you’re coming or going. I find myself in a naturally reflective mood, setting intentions and goals for the year ahead, pondering the year gone by and giving myself an annual pep talk that come January, I really will start using my wardrobe instead of my floordrobe! This year, I realised that the pondering and the intention setting is the easy bit, the dreamy bit (I’m such a Pisces!) It’s lovely to sit down and set goals, visualising our best selves and feeling motivated by the fresh new start that 1st January brings. The thing is though, I’ve lived through enough New Year’s Days now to know that in reality, it can often all feel like a huge anticlimax because having spent all that time dreaming, you are then bluntly awoken with the same old crap, just with a different date attached. The clothes are still on the floor, I’m still too tired to exercise and there’s still a to-do list that’s growing by the hour. That feeling of discomfort from procrastinating worms its’ way back in and as the spiral of excuses starts again, days can tick into weeks without anything really changing.

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Jasmine and Summer on Christmas Day

All that being said, this isn’t a time to be self-critical or give myself a hard time for not living a picture perfect life. I am, after all, a Mummy to two young girls who DO take up most of my time, energy, love and time (I know I wrote ‘time’ twice but it’s the most important one.) I achieve so much each day when I look at my two girls but this year, I want to feel different in myself. I believe it’s more than possible for me to make some changes that will benefit my whole family.

This year, 2019, I’m aiming to create a life of more joy with less ‘stuff’, more knowledge with less screens, more yoga with less avoidance, more creativity with less self doubt and I’m determined to make it the year that come 31st December 2019 I can say, “yes, I really did it!” The number 19 is my birth date. It’s also my wedding anniversary date and was my Grandma’s birthday too so it does hold a lot of significance. Maybe that’s why this year feels like a big one.

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So without further ado, I’m going to write my resolutions, not only to be as a record and a memory for myself but because the act of writing them down makes them more real and also allows me to be more accountable to keeping them. Here goes….

  1. Read more books. A classic, I know, and I often make this a resolution. I love reading but last year I think I managed a total of 3 books with a further 5 abandoned without being finished. These days I love digesting personal development books, parenting books, factual books or a good old fiction book. So often I put the TV on the evening and say, “there’s not really much on is there?” and so when that happens from now on, I want to reach for my books. Amongst many, on the list so far are “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, “The Highly Sensitive Child,” by Elaine Aron and “I am Malala,” by Malala Yousafzai. I have been making an Amazon wish-list of books which is helping me keep track of what I want to read and I’m setting a goal of 12 books within the year, which can include audio books too.
  2. Exercise. Such a January cliche but hear me out. I haven’t exercised properly since before Jasmine was born, which is getting on for 3 years now. I don’t feel strong in my body despite having a heavy toddler who insists on being carried all the time. I suffer with back pain a lot (thanks pregnancy, co-sleeping and hormones) and my energy levels can be rock bottom. I’m now 6 months post partum with Summer and feel very ready to start working on myself again. My goal is going to be exercise of any form at least twice a week, preferably yoga or dancing around the kitchen with the girls.
  3. Reduce my screen time. In the spirit of accountability, I’m just going to say that my average daily screen time is a LOT (if you have an iPhone, it tracks it for you). Mine is far too high. I love my phone and I love connecting with my friends on Whatsapp, being inspired by blogs or social media accounts, taking (and posting) photos and writing blogs when the moment strikes me but I’m still guilty of mindless pick ups, falling down the scrolling hole and being on my phone in front of Jasmine and Summer. I really want to change this habit and put some of those ‘wasteful’ screen hours towards something else.
  4. Write more. Ah, my blog (this one you’re reading now!)  I started this blog last year because I wanted to journal about my motherhood experience, have a creative way to express my emotions (thanks motherhood for that, too) and leave something long-lasting for my girls to read. I must have written 15 or more draft blogs that sadly I’ve never gotten round to finishing, despite waking up almost every day willing myself just to do it. I want to keep writing because it helps me in so many ways and I believe that our ability to share our vulnerabilities and emotions is how we can connect to one another.
  5. Minimise and de-clutter. Back in November I started (and never finished) a blog about how I managed to get rid of over 415 items from my home in just one month. I am hoping to write that one up sometime! It was an amazing and eye opening experience and since then, I haven’t stopped. I feel passionate about living a life with more by having less and this is a new but exciting journey for me. I want to continue to make steps towards living “zero waste”, minimising our belongings as a family and tuning in to what truly brings me joy. I can’t wait to see how this one in particular unfolds over the year.

And that’s it. 5 “resolutions” that can last me the year but that feel like me and where I am at in my life. I’m actually so excited to get started.

 

A bed time poem

Bed time has lost its loveliness

Bed time has lost its loveliness, I’m really sad to say,
I’ve started to dread that time that comes at the end of every day
I used to read books to you, sitting together on your bed
Now that’s been replaced with lots of tears instead.

I understand you find it difficult, I promise that I know,
It’s not easy going to bed and you don’t want Mummy to go
But even when I try my best, I’m patient and I’m calm,
You still won’t let me read to you, that book about the farm.

Bed time has lost its loveliness and I’m trying my very best,
I know you’d rather play than get that all important rest
Mummy needs some time too you know, to relax at the end of the day
But I feel all stressed when you don’t seem to listen to what I say.

It’s not your fault you get upset at every tiny little thing,
I’m sorry I didn’t let you watch yet another episode of Bing
You need to wear a nappy and your teeth need to be brushed
I do all these things playfully, I know you don’t want to be rushed.

There are lovely moments too sometimes, in amongst the tears
I wish you could tell Mummy more about your fears
One minute you’ll be crying and then the next you’ll say,
“Mummy, I like your plait,” and those things really make my day.

You want me to stay for cuddles, to hold you nice and tight
So why does everything up ‘til then, feel like one big fight?
I’m only trying to help you, to make you feel safe and ready
I even make you giggle when I pretend to speak as teddy.

Bed time has lost its loveliness, it’s not how it was before,
I don’t really know what I’m doing anymore
I’ve read the books, I’ve tried to learn how to help you to unwind
And even when I want to scream, I try my best to be kind.

I suppose this is another phase, one that too shall pass
I’m reminded every day that you’re growing up so fast
For now you need your Mummy, and although I’m tired too
Of course I want to be there, to give my best to you.

Light on, light off, light on again, please just go to bed
You’ve had your drink of water, I’ve done everything you said
Mummy needs to go now but you wrap your arm around me
You pull me down to stay with you, I can’t just leave you be.

Bed time has lost its loveliness, we are all beginning to struggle
All we want to do is a have a lovely cosy snuggle
I love you, I love you, I love you, I say it a thousand times
I hope you can tell that from what’s written in my rhymes.

I kiss your cheeks and stroke your hair and comfort you in the dark
I wonder what you dream about, maybe our trip to the park.
Sleep finally finds you and you drift off for the night
And I’m just left to question whether anything I did was right.

I’ll see you in the morning when you wake up with a smile
The night before forgotten, at least for a little while.
Bed time has lost its loveliness, I miss how it used to be
But I trust we’ll get it back again, Jasmine, you and me
I’ll focus on those cuddles, on the way only Mummy will do
It’s worth it a million times over because of my love for you.

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