I love this photo of my wonderful Mum. It was taken before she was my Mum…about 3 years before I believe. She looks so happy, so cool even & so young! I know that I would have been great friends with her back then, just as we became as I grew up. We were totally on the same wavelength, we laughed at the same silly things & we shared the same opinions on so many things. This got me thinking, that we never really think of our parents as being young & carefree; glowing with the joy of youth & having hopes, dreams & ambitions. We see them as sensible, practical & older; having the answers for everything & seeming to know what to do in any situation. Then we become parents ourselves…our own youthful looks change; we worry, we’re tired & we ‘wing it’ a lot! And then realise that that’s exactly what they must have done too, but all very convincingly!
I am increasingly envious of my friends who still have their Mums in their lives. Even more so now that I’m a Mummy myself. Sometimes I just need the reassurance that only a Mum can provide: that ‘all knowing’, sound advice & unconditional love. And the time to listen & help. It breaks my heart every single day that she never got to meet Benjamin – the grandchild that she so longed to have. I know she would have been the most fantastic, fun, hands-on Granny & he would have adored her as well.
I can’t believe that it’s been three years today since she passed away. I think about her so much; often trying to second guess what she would suggest or say, but of course, will never really know for certain. It makes me realise how precious our time is with our children & try to show Benjamin how much he’s loved every day; even when he’s being a little monkey! I want to give him lots of good memories, to hopefully provide comfort when I can’t be there for him. Sounds dramatic I know, but I’m very aware that our time on this earth is so incredibly fleeting & we need our happy memories to carry us through the grief & hard times: knowing that we were loved, wanted & important to someone too.
Love & miss you so much Mum & really that you’re watching over us xx
Today I have finally finished writing all of Jamin’s 12 letters ☺️ This has been such an emotional experience: from the moment Tim gave this book to (a newly pregnant) me during Christmas 2017, to when I was thinking about what I wanted to write in each of his letters, right up till now, when I feel a bit sad that it’s all over.
I guess losing a parent & some dear friends has made me even more acutely aware of my own mortality; so writing my thoughts, hopes & dreams for my own (now not so) tiny baby seemed so surreal & really quite daunting. I just hope that we will bring him up well enough so he can cope with anything that life throws at him & also give him lots of happy, precious memories to cherish & take comfort in when we can no longer be with him: ultimately knowing that he was long waited & prayed for & loved more than he’ll ever know 💙☺️
Now I’ve just got to remember where I put it, ready for his 16th birthday! 🤔
For the last couple of years, Mother’s Day has been hard, really hard. Especially last year, when my pregnancy hormones were surging through me & all my grief seemed even more consuming than ever. My own wonderful, beautiful Mum passed away almost three years ago & not a day goes by without me thinking about her & wishing we could chat one last time. I take much comfort in my many happy memories of her, but get more upset about all the things that she’s missed: specifically Benjamin & being his Granny, which I know she would have been over the moon about. I also know she would have been the best grandmother & I often tell him about the things she used to do or say. This year, I was determined that things would be different…this year I wasn’t going to be quite as sad; yes I still miss her more than words can say, but mainly I wanted to be thankful: thankful for being lucky enough to have had such a fantastic Mum & having such a close relationship with her, but also truly thankful that I got to celebrate being a ‘proper’ Mumma for the very first time myself, something that I’d almost given up hope on becoming. I still think it’s incredible that in my Mum’s last letter to me, (when she knew that her health was seriously deteriorating) she wrote that she knew I would be a Mumma. I just thought it was her usual optimistic self; telling me that ‘things would be okay’ as she did regularly, but maybe, deep down, in her fast-approaching ‘end of life wisdom’, she really did know? Benjamin sometimes looks just above my head & giggles or smiles: I’ve convinced myself that it’s Mum playing ‘Peek A Boo’ with him, & ask him if it’s Granny. Sometimes his bedroom smells so strongly of her in the mornings, that I’m sure she’s been watching over him while he sleeps. It certainly gives me some comfort.
So as I look at my gorgeous cards & exquisite infinity orchid & Emma Bridgewater ‘Mummy mug’, I am incredibly thankful to be Benjamin’s Mumma (he knows me so well already it seems!) His cheeky smile & laugh completely lift my mood if I’m feeling down & I have to pinch myself that this precious tiny human is mine & I couldn’t be happier about it. It’s been a great Mother’s Day…we had tea & cake at Poole Park, visited Tim’s Mum & Grandad & Benjamin charmed them both. I even got a surprise camellia plant from Grandad, as he knows I love them so much. Yes, I’ve had moments of sadness as I remembered my Mum, but I’ve tried to stay more positive this year.
I hope you have all had a fab Mother’s Day too, filled with happy times & good memories.
So twice last week, two of the lovely ladies I’ve been working with recently were surprised to hear that I’m turning 40 in just under six months. I was shocked that they were shocked to be honest; maybe it was my hormonal breakout that fooled them or maybe they were just being kind. It certainly made my day, as since going back to work, I’ve certainly felt my age more than ever (it’s only been two weeks!) & it’s made me think about all that geriatric mummahood actually entails for me.
I guess it made me realise that older, doesn’t necessarily mean wiser. Well certainly not in my experience. I’m not naturally maternal & I know I never have been. Even as an early years teacher, I loved my job, adored the children, but was more ‘Mary Poppins’ than ‘Molly Wealsey’ about things – but certainly not, “practically perfect in every way” that’s for sure! It gave me a great insight into how I wanted to parent: I’ve been lucky to have known some absolutely inspirational Mummas in my career & this, combined with my own parents’ methods & reading the fantastic “French Children Don’t Throw Food” by Pamela Druckerman (www.pameladruckerman.com) have shaped my ‘style’ so to speak. We’re strict with Benjamin already; he’s beginning to learn his boundaries & he knows if he’s over-stepped them. This may sound harsh for an eight month old, but both Tim & I are firm believers in setting ground rules early on, then loosening up a little later. We’ve both found it successful with Tim’s other two children (for all involved) to do it this way, rather than allowing a ‘free for all’ to start with, then trying to rein things in later when it’s all gone a bit wahey! It’s harder than I thought it would be, but I keep having to tell myself that I’m not Benjamin’s friend, not just yet. For now at least, I’m just one of his guides & mentors in this crazy thing called ‘life’. What a responsibility!
For me, the lows of being ‘an older Mumma’ have to be the extreme tiredness, the complete achiness & the occasional overwhelming feelings of frustration. I’m sure this is no different from other Mummas, of all ages, but at times I’ve felt like my age has exacerbated these negatives. Looking back, I don’t think I fell into the complete depths of Post-Natal Depression, but on some days, back in the beginning, I was definitely paddling in the shallows. My emotions consumed me: I was angry with myself that I felt ‘trapped’ in this new role of motherhood; something that I had wanted so badly, for so long. I hated the fact this beautiful tiny human, that I had, in part created, was dependent upon me for everything. Literally everything. And part of me wanted to run far far away. I’d had 38 years of just thinking of myself, I was (& probably still am but to a lesser extent) a selfish person to a certain degree. I like my own time, company & space & always have. It’s taken a lot for me to write this, it’s not something I’ve really vocalised, let alone typed. I’m lucky in that I had Tim to talk to, to shout at even. He listened to me vent & talked some sense back into me. Thank goodness. But I can see how easy it would be to slip into the vicious cycle of depression. I found: http://www.mind.org.uk to be a fantastic source of information. My other main ‘low’ has been the intense physical pain. For the first three months, I felt brittle, like an old porcelain teacup. Every movement was agony & some days I was genuinely terrified that I would ‘shatter’. Then I developed ‘de Quervain’s tenosynovitis’ aka tendonitis of the wrist. My age, my gender & my recent motherhood were all contributing factors apparently. Joy. So after seeing two doctors, a physiotherapist, being given exercises & a sexy black splint that I’m meant to wear 24/7, but found that I’m allergic to, so can only bear wearing it at night time (along with my fluffly socks & dressing gown) Tim’s a lucky man! Haha! I feel that things are getting better. I don’t have to think about how to pick the boy up & everyday tasks are getting easier again thankfully. Thank you NHS. I could go on with other ailments: breakouts, hair issues (various!), dry skin etc. etc. but I’ll leave it here for now!
The highs of my late motherhood on the other hand, are that I know how I want to parent, as I explained earlier. I have high expectations of Benjamin. I am confident to correct him in public, if necessary. My patience for his learning is high, although my tolerance for his whinging is incredibly low(!) On particularly bad days I have to walk away, then come back a few minutes later: ready to start again. Most importantly though, I appreciate the ‘now.’ As clichéd as it sounds, I guess I’m more aware of ‘the moment’ than ever before. I’ve always been aware of poignant ‘now’ markers in my life, scenes/moments that I’m drawn back to time & again. Things that I knew were significant, but I was unaware as to why at the time. I spend a lot of my working life listening to people reminisce about their interesting lives & I genuinely love it. I’ve always been fascinated by people; hearing about their memories of loved ones & the special times they’ve shared, holidays, laughter & their ambitions. Sometimes, these wonderful people can’t remember what they ate for lunch, but can remember the most intricate detail of years gone by: of fleeting moments when they fell in love, or when their children were growing up & homes they’ve lived in. I’ve decided that ‘mindfulness’ is not really a new trend, people have always been aware of the ‘now’ but not really realised its significance: it’s equally important to remember those ‘now moments’. It’s proved in our older age, as these are the things that we hold onto. Essentially they get us through life: they help us to cope.
We’ve had a great few days; it started on Friday when Benjamin & I went on a ‘Spring Hunt’ – looking for signs of new life & longer, warmer days. And although the boy slept for most of it, I rediscovered my mojo for snapping things on my iPhone that caught my eye, mainly flowers & landscapes. Saturday & Sunday were spent with some of our fabulous friends & it was great to entertain & make dinner for everyone. It was lovely to be just us again & this was highlighted to me. We were even allowed to enjoy our bed until 7am on Sunday. What a treat! Time with Benjamin continues to be precious & I cherish the subtleties of his weekly developments. Nothing makes us happier than hearing the boy properly belly laugh & giggle when I pretend to “eat him up” at the end of the day or Tim tickles him. It’s truly heart-warming & the troubles of the day just melt away for both of us.
For the first time since giving birth, this weekend has shown me how to reconnect with just ‘being me’ & combining this with being a Mumma. I can do both. The ‘highest of highs’ for me though, is that I actually can’t wait to reminisce upon my own family memories: all whilst not forgetting to be mindful of being ‘in the moment’ of course!
Thank you for reading. I’d love to hear the highs & lows of your Mummahood…
Earlier, whilst listening to Time, in my opinion, the most beautiful piece of music by Hans Zimmer & watching the boy fall asleep in his cot, the tears were streaming down my face. This was the music that I first played to Benjamin, when he was a tiny baby, usually while I showered & watched him snooze in his rocker through the open ensuite door. The days were hot & my maternity leave stretched out before us. I thought we’d have those days forever. It’s crazy how quickly the time has passed; I haven’t even caught up with all my series-linked Homes Under The Hammer for goodness sake! Today also marks the day that Tim & I first got together, eight years ago in fact. We’ve been married for almost five & Benjamin is almost eight months old.
I’m not going to lie, these last eight months have been some of the best & worst of my life: the most challenging, physically & emotionally painful too. I have a feeling that these emotions will stay with me for life now! I don’t think I’ve missed my wonderful Mum quite as desperately as I have over the last eight months either. I’m sure she would have understood what I was going through & known exactly what to say. I wish we could FaceTime Heaven. I am so grateful to Tim, along with my amazing friends, both old & new, who have kept me sane.
But here we are, tomorrow (exactly eight months to the day) I return to work. I know that I’m not the first & certainly won’t be the last Mumma to feel overwhelmed with emotions about going back to work. Part of me feels sick that I will no longer spend my days just being ‘Benjamin’s Mumma’, but part of me feels excited at the prospect of having a brand new ‘proper big girl’s job’ & getting my old ‘Lucy’ identity back again. I think it’s even more daunting that, after lots of evening studying & twenty exams later, I’m going into a completely new profession of becoming an adult Social Care Worker.
I guess my biggest worry is that I’m scared Benjamin will forget that I’m his Mumma: the one who soothes away his tears, the one whose face he strokes so gently when he drinks his milk, or makes him giggle so much he snorts (much like I do!) I’m terrified that this magical bond that we have created will be lost & we’ll become ships that pass in the night, only seeing each other to wake up, drop off, pick up, then bath & go to bed. I know millions of families do exactly the same thing every single day. We are not unique in that respect. I need to remember that at least we’ll still have Fridays together & the weekends as a family. We are very lucky. I also need to tell the boy that he can only achieve his milestones on ‘our days’ too! He’s so close to saying his first word it’s crazy & I’m sure he plays us when we’re there, like training a reluctant parrot; “say Dadda. Jamin, say Dadda!” I bet he’ll come out with his first sentence this week, when neither of us is there to witness. Let’s just pray that his first utterance isn’t obscene or incriminating, although I’m sure his Daddy would be equally as proud! Another part of me, the ex-Early Years teacher part, knows that this is absolutely the best thing for him: the best time for us to start to leave him, for him to socialise with other children & the best time for him to learn from other adults; not just me & Tim: & we have found the most perfect child minder to do this. I want him to learn early on to be mindful of his audience & adapt his behaviour accordingly. I’m praying that he’ll ‘play nicely’ with others, be kind, be friendly, but not a push over, to stand his ground & be assertive when necessary. I guess it’s what all parents want for their children. We don’t mind if he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, we’d rather him be practical, likeable, have people skills, be able to communicate & I am sure opportunities will present themselves to him in life.
As I sit here, now on the sofa: Benjamin deep in his slumbers, lunch boxes made, clothes ironed, alarm set (not had to do that for a while!) & tomorrow’s dinner planned in my head at least, my nerves are steadied slightly (although this might be the gin?!) And providing I don’t hear the theme tune of Howard’s Way, or Tales of The Unexpected (which would take me straight back to 80s Sunday nights before school as a child *shudders*), I am confident that things will work out for the best, for all of us.
I hope everyone has had a wonderful, relaxing Christmas.
The Greenhouse festivities were quiet, but great as always & it was so lovely to have Tim’s other children Chloe & Josh with us, along with his Mum & Grandad (who is 93 years young!) sharing Benjamin’s first Christmas with us. I do love cooking the traditional turkey dinner, helped along with a good few glasses of Bucks Fizz of course. I think the best parts for me this year included watching the children all play together & seeing the genuine love they all have for each other, even though they’d never admit it. This was closely followed by Tim giving me a rare afternoon power nap: he took care of our guests & the children (even changed a nappy!) & shock horror, LOADED THE DISHWASHER! This is unheard of in our 1950s-esque household; I wasn’t entirely sure that he knew of the appliance’s location, let alone its use. Anyway, despite my mocking, I am genuinely grateful to my brilliant & kind-hearted husband.
I know it’s been a little while since I last blogged: we’ve been working on something big, specifically introducing Benjamin to solid food. I’m not really sure what I thought weaning would entail if being completely honest. I guess had visions of him sitting beautifully in his highchair, donning a pristine bib & staying immaculately clean, lots of smiles & him devouring anything I offered him. Hmmm…ahh, those rose-tinted glasses of mine strike again, just as they did with bath times in the early days. So it started a few weeks ago now, with the most British of dishes: mashed potato. Well I say mashed potato, but it resembled nothing like my usual go-to comfort dish. I excitedly read my new Ella’s Kitchen ‘baby weaning bible’ for how to prepare baby-stylie…“Reserve some of the cooking water to help with the mashing process.” Blurgh, no milk & butter?! I also didn’t realise how ill prepared I was for this whole feeding malarkey. I quickly improvised on a bowl; dusting off a heart-shaped ramekin from a Valentine’s meal a few years ago, dug out my free Bounty Pack Petits Filous spoon & started to frantically blow on the Maris Piper. Benjamin had no clue as to his role in this unfamiliar situation & I found myself pretending to joyfully chomp on the insipid mush, I mean mash. He wasn’t having any of it & this has continued to be our lunchtime ritual ever since: Benjamin happily lets me put on his bib in his highchair, humours me during the “Chugga, chugga, choo, choo” phase, even lets me put the veg in his mouth, gives the impression that he might be chewing, then pop! Out comes the regurgitated food, complete with dramatic retching sound just for added effect; which in turn sets off my gag-reflex & there we are fake-vomming at the kitchen table together. Joy. I’m genuinely terrified that the boy will never eat: instead opting for his trusty “Bot Bot,” while all his mates are downing pints & scoffing packets of crisps.
And so, what goes in must come out. Even though I originally thought that NOTHING was going in, I was seriously mistaken. I think our most eventful day was after a couple of spoonfuls of crushed avocado, which resulted in seven dirty nappies within 24 hours. SEVEN. The last episode conveniently happened just before I was going to bed myself: the now familiar deep gurgling of his belly, then whoooosh…you have seconds to decide whether to change immediately, or leave a moment or two longer, for the process to completely finish: running the risk of the fibrous & often luminous, nappy contents to soak into his clothes, or worst still, his Grobag &/or bed linen. How can anyone poo upwards for goodness sake?! Just how? Anyway, on this occasion, I went in quickly like a Nappy Ninja: tiptoed, gave no eye contact, no chat. Changed in situ of the boy’s crib, then quickly whispered ‘goodnight’ to Alexa & we were plunged into darkness once again. Benjamin promptly resumed his slumbers & I felt epic, albeit exhausted from the six other ghastly whole outfit changes previously. He on the other hand was still smiling & remarkably upbeat during the cleanup. If I’d pooped that many times in 24 hours I’d be done in, laying in bed feeling very sorry for myself with a hot water bottle on my tummy & glass of Lucozade in hand. (I swear the medicinal value is just not the same since they did away with the glass bottles & orange foil-covered lids.)
I’ve come to the conclusion that my benchmark of deciding whether I’ll scrub & soak starts at ‘an M&S’. Any supermarket labels, white items or even Next outfits are sadly often fated for the wheelie bin. Dear World, I can only apologise. If it has a cool or funky pattern I may consider donning the marigolds. Even then, after much vigorous scrubbing (with ‘Vanish Large Area Carpet Cleaner’, because I stupidly picked up the wrong pink bottle!) more often than not, things are never quite the same as they once were. A faded patch of yellow or green still sometimes lingers in certain lights, even though it was tackled immediately & left to soak for a good half an hour before going in the machine. Although, my silly product mistake is actually one of the best clothes stain removers I’ve ever purchased! And to think I was the woman who, whilst pregnant swore blind that I would only change a nappy with a gloved hand, ha! How naive was I?
Back in June I had high-hopes that by Christmas, Benjamin would be sat with us at the dinner table, eating virtually the same meal & enjoying it. But yet again, my optimistic expectation & reality were totally off. To be fair, he did sit nicely in his highchair & was as sociable as ever, but eating, no, I wasn’t even going to attempt it. Call me a coward, but I just couldn’t face the whole sorry charade & the inevitable aftermath, not on Christmas night. Something to tackle in January methinks. I never would have thought in a million years that one of my new year’s resolutions would be to establish my son’s eating routine. But it’s got to be one of my best ones yet. There will be others, but this is top of my list so far.
So I guess all that’s left to say is that; I wish everyone a happy, healthy & memory-filled 2019.
So in between being a Mumma & wife, I also love to craft. I don’t get to do as much as I used to, but when the boy is napping, I try to indulge in something creative: sewing, knitting & stitching are my top three!
Today, being one month till Christmas, *says in a ‘terribly British’ accent* “where has the year gone?” I decided to change his sensory light bulbs for something a little more seasonal. Also had a go at making a ‘Pat Mat’ to encourage his hands to be flat, rather than curled up & I have also finished his stocking. I’m so pleased with how it turned out in the end, as it’s exactly the same shape & size as Chloe & Josh’s; that I made them seven years ago, for their first Christmas with us. I felt quite emotional making one for Benjamin, as I never thought I would have my own child. So glad that I kept the template too, maybe my subconscious knew deep down that I’d need it again?
So here we are, my first ‘Show & Tell’. Benjamin seems to love his very first Christmas sensory play today. Hope you like my ideas…