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.

Creativity in Motherhood

I’ve never considered myself much of a creative person. I’m the one drawing stick people and a house whilst my husband Ben is sketching faces full of character. I’m just no good at drawing and whilst I appreciate so many forms of creativity, “creative” has just never been an adjective I would have used to describe myself.

Since Motherhood transformed my life, I’ve realised that my words are my creativity and that I crave time to write because there is just so much to say. Sometimes I feel like I could write a chapter about each day that goes by raising these kiddos and that in itself, is creative. Making time for writing has now shifted way higher up my priority list in a way that I never expected. As Mothers, we devote our days to our small people and at times, the days can feel repetitive, tiresome and like one big exercise in planning and logistics.

Just as others may crave going for a run, making a new recipe, planning a yoga sequence, sinking into a good book or perhaps good old retail therapy, for me, having an outlet to write and share my emotions, tell stories, write poems and document the highs and lows of this motherhood journey…that’s my creativity. My blogs and even my Instagram captions are a way for me to write about my life now, as it happens. To write about my children, my emotions, my joys and my vulnerabilities. To write about my interests and my learnings, a place to write about my personal growth and for those words to then exist as something concrete and outside of my mind, for my children to one day read, for others to read if they choose to and for me to treasure as my work.

Writing has become a therapeutic outlet. It’s my way of trying to make sense of the craziness of life and be it about pregnancy, babies, toddlers, veganism, minimalism or anything else at all, it doesn’t matter. It’s the process of creating something that matters. The process of pouring words out and working on them until they mirror the emotions in my mind and the feelings in my body so that anyone who reads them can “get it” too.

I have developed a new appreciation for creativity, in particular around the theme of motherhood. I value what is being created by Mothers, for Mother’s whether that is art, music, podcasts, blogs, comedy, books, interiors, clothing and more.

These words are my art, my contribution to the female collective, to the sisterhood of Mothers and most importantly, for myself.

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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Self-doubt as Jasmine’s Mummy

Do you ever question yourself about the way your children are and whether you’re doing the right thing? I do it all the time with Jasmine and always have done, especially on those days that don’t go so well. I know it’s my personality to be sensitive, emotional and over-analytical and it’s also her personality to be highly sensitive, emotional, perceptive and unpredictable.

There’s more though….Jasmine is having some difficulties breathing properly which has been going on for some time now. She breathes through her mouth not her nose, is always congested, always has a runny nose, snores loudly and snorts all day to try and clear her nose.  She often sounds like Darth Vadar and you can quite literally see and hear her struggling to breathe normally. The winter weather seems to be exacerbating things but now our “bad” or difficult days are now far outnumbering the good days leaving me feeling full of self-doubt, sadness and guilt. It’s impossible to know which version of Jasmine will show up each day and it’s also impossible to know why that particular version shows up!

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Jasmine is a child of high highs and low lows, as I guess all children are really. She’s either dancing around the house to Lady Gaga spinning in circles and shrieking with delight, running to see who is at the door and eagerly asking to play with me, or, she’s watching TV for 90% of the day, crying at the mere site of a kind stranger and the most used word in her vocabulary will be “no”.

There are times she’s happy to try all sorts of new foods, eat fruit & veg by the gallon and enjoy avocado and quinoa but there are times the only things she’ll eat all day are a box of raisins, a snack bar, crisps and cake, with even her favourite meals being rejected. That day was today.

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There are times she has an abundant energy, bouncing out the door ready to go swimming or to a friend’s house to play but there are many, many days where leaving the house is as hard a task as climbing Mount Everest. No offer of going here, going there or going anywhere is good enough and she just seems in a constant state of fatigue or disinterest. There are days she wakes up in the morning and doesn’t stop talking and singing, or, there are days where she wakes up crying and keeps crying about everything that happens for at least an hour or more. There are times when we giggle, we run, we play, we jump and we explore but there are days when we walk on egg shells around her because if the slightest thing goes wrong, there’s a waterfall of tears ready to come flooding out. There are times when your energy seems abundant and times when you barely move all day. Is this just toddlers? Is this just Jasmine? Is this just me?

I worry when we have days like that. I wonder what is going on inside her body and her mind to make it a difficult day for her. Is she not feeling well but can’t recognise that sensation? Is she just really tired but no longer able to nap? Is she not able to breathe well enough to feel energised and healthy? Does she genuinely just want to stay at home all day to play? Is the unpredictability of random outings too much for her? Is she still adjusting to the arrival of her sister? Then I worry that it’s me. Perhaps I’m too soft with her or perhaps she has too much control. Perhaps she’s just testing me and I should “put my foot down”. Perhaps there’s actually no problem at all and I’m wasting precious energy worrying for nothing.

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I’m still learning to trust that much of all this is all OK and totally normal. The highs and lows and the roller-coaster are what every toddler and every parent experiences, right? I’m still learning to let go of that worry and go with the flow, knowing she is a happy, healthy, loving and thriving child. I’m still learning that she can’t always tell me how she feels using words so uses actions instead. I’m still learning all about her and all about myself at the same time. I’m still learning not to compare her to others. I’m still learning to focus on the positives, what we did do not what we didn’t.

I wish I could have a crystal ball to see into my children’s future. A way to look forward 20 years and see that everything turned out OK and that the “bad days” didn’t really matter at all, that maybe it was just her way of trying to tell me exactly what she needed, her way of showing me her unique way of learning and developing. For now, my job is to support her through the bad days and enjoy with her the good ones.

“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.