Operation day

Dear Jasmine,

I’m writing you another letter because that’s what I find helps me when I’m feeling sad and heavy-hearted, as I am tonight. We’re so similar, you and me, with our sensitivities and our emotions. We feel things deeply and strongly and that’s a beautiful thing my sweet girl. I struggle sometimes to feel the way I do, to feel every ounce of your emotion and pain as if it were my own and to feel intensely sad about sad things. I sometimes wish I could switch off my overthinking brain and things might be easier, more black and white and more straightforward, but then, I wouldn’t be me, would I?

I always knew today would be difficult as of course it is for any parent who watches their child go through an operation, no matter how routine or straight forward it is. I also knew that your hyper-sensitivity to pain and touch and your unpredictable responses to strangers could add another layer of complexity to the mix. Your hyper-sensitivity isn’t just an excuse for challenging behaviours and big reactions and I’m sure it is something that plays a huge part in your everyday life and your responses to the world around you.

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This morning I arrived at the hospital to find Daddy in tears, having just had to hold you tightly in order for you to be sedated as not surprisingly, you didn’t go willingly. You weren’t persuaded by the strawberry tasting mask or the “special cream” for your hand as for you, those would’ve been warning signs, ever perceptive as you are. Daddy held you as you slipped into an unconscious state and I’ve never seen him as upset as after he left you in theatre. He loves you so much!

Later in recovery, I watched as you kicked and screamed in pain and in confusion, drowsy and delirious from the anaesthetic, a look of pure desperation on your face. I too had to restrain you as nurses attempted to stop you pulling out your cannula and strapped your arm with extra layers of bandages. One nurse commented about how strong and determined you were but I knew it was because the sensation of the cannula would have been hell for you, especially without explanation.

I watched as you pointed to your mouth and ears, indicating pain, crying out and unable to speak. I watched as you started to gag and as blood stained snot poured from your nose and I watched as your eyes grew puffy as you were unable to stop the tears. I watched you become increasingly angry with the presence of nurses, touching you and offering you things to cheer you up which you simply threw across the room in a rage. I watched as you took your first bite of food and realised how painful it was to swallow. I held you for an hour in my arms in the recovery room and nothing else mattered to me in that moment than making you feel better and stopping your tears.

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I watched you move so slowly all afternoon, with no energy, barely speaking at all and never once being able to smile. Not once. Not even in the pink princess dress or with a chocolate cake or crisps. I heard the slur in your speech and I heard you cry and moan, sad, confused and unable to comprehend what was happening around you. You have cried so much today and I feel each and every tear that falls from your face. You are searching for answers that I can’t give you yet and you are seeking security in any way you can.

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The adrenaline from today is wearing off now and my whole entire body is aching in pain. Your pain. Pain from the stress and the tension and pain from holding you down. You’re in the hospital now with Daddy because I’m at home with your sister and I am just longing to hug you and hold you tight. I just want to tell you how much I love you and that I’m sorry and that it will be OK but in these moments today, these intense and difficult moments, I haven’t been able to focus on the future at all. I haven’t been able to let thoughts of this being the best thing for you take up space in my mind and I haven’t been able to think about tomorrow being better than today and the day after that being even better too. Although I know these things to be true, today has just been about feeling and being present and allowing whatever emotions we’ve all got to be expressed and to be valid. We’re so often told to spend more time being present but when the present is difficult, we look straight to the future, afraid to just feel and be, even when it’s tough.

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I know you want to come home now and I know you want your special present. I’m so sorry that you’re feeling scared, I would be too. Daddy is there to cuddle you all night and I won’t let you out of my thoughts for one minute. You’ll be home tomorrow my big girl and Mummy isn’t putting any limits on special treats or TV time. The nurse even said it doesn’t matter if all you eat is biscuits, as long as you eat! We can cuddle and play and read and do all your favourite things for as long as you need to until you feel better and Jasmine, you will get better.

I love you so much and I’m so proud of you.

Love,

Mummy

x

 

 

 


An epiphany about setting goals

Back in December 2018, I made a set of 5 New Year’s resolutions and vowed to make this year the year I actually stick to them and make some progress towards my personal goals. I set these goals for myself with good intentions and reflected for a long time on what I wanted to “achieve” by doing them. Whilst I wouldn’t say I’ve had a total transformation in the first 3 months of 2019, I’ve certainly kept these resolutions in the forefront of my mind more than ever before, have discussed them with friends on an ongoing basis and have made some positive steps towards them, even if it doesn’t feel like enough (the story of my life…I’m learning).

Everyday I listen to some of an audio-book or a podcast. Since the year began I’ve started about 4 different books (although I’m yet to finish any of them) and I’m continuing to de-clutter whilst learning and implementing more about living a “low waste” and minimalist lifestyle. I’ve started a daily writing habit, whether that’s a blog or an Instagram post or simply journalling about my thoughts and feelings.

My friend and I were chatting the other day about how we can use the start of any new month to reflect again on our goals and where we are up to, to re-group so to speak. We shared our goals with each other and set realistic expectations for ourselves in order that we stay “on track”. For me, this was aiming for 2 early mornings a week to get up and seize the day, to finish one of the 4 books I’ve started and to publish two blogs that I’ve been eager to write for months. We both have a system in place for monitoring our goals, a way to hold ourselves and each other accountable and have a visual reminder about what we want to achieve. Fantastic. All set. April, let’s do this. Yes! This all sounds great, right? So what’s the big epiphany?

As I sat down to write something I wanted to share about how crazy things have been throughout the month of March, I realised something. Throughout March, without me even realising it at the time, so much has happened that has enabled me to grow. In our family, March is known as “the birthday month” because we celebrate Jasmine’s birthday, followed by mine, followed by my Mum’s. This year, we also threw in my parents 40th wedding anniversary, Mother’s day and also remembered Ben’s Grandma Jackie who passed away in March last year. On top of that we have put plans in motion for moving house (more on that another time), I’ve finalised my return to my NHS job whilst continuing to work hard in other areas and we’ve been to the hospital with both girls (for different reasons) as well as a whole load of everyday “stuff” of which there has been a lot.

So the epiphany….amongst all this beautiful busy chaos, there has been learning and there has been personal growth. I may not have been able to attribute it to one of my specific goals but just by living life, there has been growth. Just this last month I’ve learnt more about Jasmine and her resilience and confidence and I’ve learnt how best to support her through challenging situations. I’ve learnt about myself too, when faced with difficult parenting situations that I haven’t known how to manage. I’ve been forced to reflect, to learn and to vow to do better. Growth. I’ve had conversations with Ben about our work, our desire to strike a good balance in life and a whole lot about our future plans. Growth. I’ve read articles, quotes and posts by people I admire and those things have instantly allowed me to learn or to think differently about something. Growth. I set out to achieve a plastic free birthday party for Jasmine and I did it, learning so much along the way and continuing to nurture this new-found passion. Growth. I’ve swapped some of my everyday products for plastic free, zero waste versions and realised how great it feels to make these sustainable swaps. Growth. I’ve experienced firsts with both my girls, new situations that I haven’t encountered before and therefore simply by being a Mum, there has been growth. 

We are constantly in a state of change, never the same person we were yesterday because another day lived is another day experienced, new lessons under our belt and new knowledge in our minds. Just as I look at my two girls and wonder how they can seem so different day-to-day or week to week, never the same and constantly learning, so are we too, as adults.

So even when I don’t feel like I’m keeping up with my New Years goals, even when I feel frustrated at myself for not doing better or doing enough and even when I wish I had more time to just finish that blimmin’ book, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because progress is there in all sorts of scenarios, whether I’m looking for it or not and that is a pretty great epiphany for me to have had.


Dear Jasmine….Happy 3rd Birthday

Dear Jasmine,

Today you turn 3 years old and I find myself repeating, “I can’t believe it,” over and over again. I’m sorry if all the birthday excitement from me has seemed a little crazy but for me, as your Mummy, your birthday is a day of huge significance. Your birth day was the day that I became a Mother and my whole world changed in that moment. Not only that but your birthday is a celebration of you, of all your achievements this past year and the first day in a new chapter of exciting things to come.

A year ago, at just 2, you were a little person with your own thoughts, ideas and preferences and a year on, whilst so much of that is still the very essence of you, there’s also been a shift this year. Some days it feels as if you’ve grown up two years this year, not just one, because the transformation in you is just too big to fathom. Now, you are even more able to do things for yourself. Whether it’s helping yourself to food, taking your own milk from the fridge, using the big toilet, turning on and off the tv or the latest skill…doing your own hair clips, your determination for independence and, “I want to do it by myself,” attitude is actually very inspiring.

Back in June last year you became a big sister to Summer and I think, although you couldn’t say it as such, your world got a little bit turned upside down. We went through some tricky patches, me losing my patience, you adapting to change and I think it’s fair to say things were tricky. There were times, if I’m really honest with you my sweet Jasmine, that I’ve found this year of parenting really tricky. “Age 2-3″ has certainly had its ups and downs. The demands of two children, very little sleep and a feisty toddler (that’s you) have at times driven me to the point where I have wanted to scream. Don’t be sad reading that because it’s not anything you did wrong, not at all. It’s just been hard work  and many times I felt out of my depth, not knowing what to do for the best for either of us. ‘Two” definitely hasn’t been terrible but it certainly has been tricky and I think that’s OK for me to admit.

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This year you became a big sister

So whilst that sounds all dark and gloomy, it’s not supposed to be! In a million ways we’ve had an amazing year too. We’ve laughed together, danced together and played together for hours. Your unique soul has shone brighter than ever before with your personality and interests revealing themselves to us more each day. Of course we still have our moments here and there but I’m pretty sure the fog has lifted in recent months and in that shift we’ve found a new ease and a new rhythm together…even without your day time nap!

Now you’re 3 whole years old and I’m more in love with you than ever, of course. I think i’ll be saying that even when you’re 30 years old too and imagine the letter I’ll have to write then! Jasmine, my sweet, kind, sensitive, funny, beautiful, curious girl, here are a few of my favourite things about you now on the day that you’re turning 3:

I love the way you ask questions, all day everyday, about everything. Your desire for knowledge and your desire to understand the world is amazing. You ask me what day it is, where we’re going today, what Daddy is doing, what Grandma is wearing, what’s wrong with Summer, who we saw yesterday, what’s so-and-so’s brother called, what can you have for a snack, did I see that, did I see this, are we going there, what’s that what’s that what’s that?

I love the way you have “best friends” now and although the best friend, changes each day, I can tell that your friendships mean a lot to you already. You missed your friends when we were away in Israel for a month, you look forward to seeing them talk about your adventures together at Nursery. Your friends cheer you up, spur you on and bring a smile to your face and it’s such a joy to see.

“Girls are the best,” is your mantra and you tell me at least 5 times a day, sometimes adding, “not boys” onto the end, to which I add that we do like boys too because, equality, and all that. I love that you have a strong female identity and in a world where you may still have to fight if not for your own equality, then for the equality of girls around the world, I’m going to let you keep repeating this mantra for as long as you want to.

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You are an amazing big sister to Summer. I know it hasn’t always been easy and it still isn’t. I know Mummy carries Summer on her hip all day long and pays close attention to her at meal times and bath time. I know I’m not there for you like I was when it was just us but Jasmine, you are so kind to her and so caring. You soothe her when she’s sad and your words make her feel better. You only have to be in the room with Summer and she’s happier. You find sharing me difficult at times but you also understand it deeply, that she needs me too and I guess that’s why it hurts you. Sometimes you’ll say, “Mummy, you need to give Summer a cuddle,” and in those moments, I’m so grateful for your wisdom. Summer is so lucky to have you as her big sister, she really is.

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I love the way you only wear dresses now and have done every day for at least 6 months. You choose your own outfits every day and strongly reject any suggestion that doesn’t involve a “pretty dress.” You love pink, princesses, jewellery, high heels and hair clips and love a soak in a hot, deep bath at the end of every day. That’s my girl! You embrace your body and love to dance in front of the mirror declaring body positive statements about yourself with pure and delightful self-confidence. Please, do this forever.

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A pretty dress and hair clips makes for a happy Jasmine

You’ve inherited creativity from Daddy‘s side of the family although your musicality comes from me! There’s few things you love more than art and being creative. You can spend hours playing with play dough, drawing, painting and making things and our current prediction is that you’ll be creative when you’re older, too. We flit between that and CEO of a major company, you know, because you just love to be the boss! When you’re not busy with your arts and crafts, you’re usually dancing or singing spinning around or tip-toeing like a ballerina.

You’ve got a sweet tooth and love all things cake, chocolate and biscuits which of course we only give you in extreme moderation! “I want a snack from the snack cupboard” is possibly your most used phrase of all time followed by, “no, not that one….a special treat.” Once again, it’s Daddy you can thank for this habit! You really do love your food though and your latest favourite is pistachio nuts! You are beginning to understand your identity as a vegan and what that means to you and our family. I can’t wait to continue this journey together.

Happy birthday my sweet girl. You are my absolute joy, every single day. I love you to the moon and the stars and back, or, “this much,” as we say with arms stretched out wide. You are simply incredible and I honestly cannot wait to get this next year started. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be our best yet.

Love,

Mummy

x

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Motherhood and the phenomenon of time

Time changes our children at a remarkable rate and time replaces our memories that were once so vivid with ones that have now become a little hazy, much to our disbelief.  Time changes the appearance of our children too. Longer hair, longer legs, a bigger smile. It fulfils for us a wish we made when they were babies, when we could only begin to imagine how they’d be as they grew and what a delight this change is to behold.

As our children approach their next birthday and become a year older, it becomes harder to remember them before, with the newer version of them forever replacing the older one even though really, they’re still the same. Layer upon layer builds up, each day providing new joys, new memories and new things to absorb. Do we have endless capacity to remember each and every change?

Photos and videos we took provide a heartwarming and beautiful way to remember times gone by yet also make us question how we let these moments pass and how, maybe, we didn’t realise then just how magical they were. Or maybe we did? We document first steps, first words, first birthdays, first shoes and first moments of everything in an attempt to lock these moments in time forever because otherwise, they just vanish. We can’t trust that our memories alone will stand the test of time in years to come.

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Newborn Jasmine

Time is a constant in our world and it is always moving forward, never stopping. A second will always be as long as a second has always been and a day, the same length too. Yet on some days time seems to stretch and drag and on others it races us to the finish line. Time reminds us that nothing, be it good or bad, lasts forever.

Time confuses our minds into feeling that the numbers can’t be true. “How can that have happened a year ago?” we ask, our minds searching to make sense of this confusion.  Our brains scramble that this week marks the start of year three of parenting yet day one feels like yesterday and in an instant we are stunned by how much time has passed, the proof being the child stood before us.

Time passing is a reminder of the need to slow down, to pause and to breathe and to take things in just as they are but then we remember that “slowing down” is simply a perception too because time waits for no man. Memories don’t stay as vivid as we believe they will. Not all memories anyway. The details slip away. What age they did that and what age they did this. Some of it is foggy now, not that it matters I suppose, as long as the memory itself still exists. It’s just scary how passing time makes us forget, isn’t it?

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Jasmine at 16 months, appearing to me now to be just a baby

Our children are constantly growing, blooming and changing at a far greater rate than we are, even though we grow as they do. Our child today, at nearly 3 is the same child she was at 2 because she was destined to be this way but who she is now was impossible to know as time doesn’t allow us to truly see into the future but just to live project forward using imagination.

Time makes things appear differently depending from where, or when, we are viewing them. Our once “so grown up” two year old now seems so baby-like to look back on. So small, so sweet and so young. At the time she’d never been as big as in that moment and so in that moment, that’s how she was. Now we are in a different time and therefore my view of that same child is warped and we are confronted with feelings of longing for that once so small child.

This childhood. This precious time of which parents so often speak. It is going so quickly though the speed of time has never changed. It is yet another perception. An interfering emotion. A desire to be able to hold on a little tighter to feelings and moments so that time doesn’t dissolve them as it so cruelly does and perhaps a desire too to speed things up sometimes, the long days, the hard bits, the not-so-fun moments.

We long for a way to be able to hold moments in time forever. That cuddle with arms wrapped round wide, that kiss on the soft and still chubby cheeks, that sweet and curious voice. We don’t want to forget that sentence that made us chuckle or that question that in it’s innocence made us momentarily remember childhood ourselves. Time allows our children to learn, to make sense of the world a little bit more each day. Time gives them the ability to experience life, moment by moment.

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Jasmine, one year ago today

Will time allow us to remember it all, to lock it up forever and have it all to look back on? The sacred details of the most wonderful moments that are a struggle to recall nowadays. Time often seems to be rushing us and it’s hard to keep up. It is the most precious commodity, each day only providing a finite amount, urging us in this quiet way to learn to live fully.

Time gifts us so much and is the gift that keeps on giving. Every day we are granted another day to Mother, to parent, to love and to laugh and to marvel at the funny games time plays with our minds. Every day we are given 86,400 seconds to use as we please. Every day our children live so presently as we, the adults, dart back and forth between past, present and future, forgetting so often that the only time that is truly ever guaranteed, is now.