Tag Archives: letters

Dear New Mum, I see you…

Dear New Mum,

It’s been a while since I wrote. I’m sorry for my silence. How are you doing?

I hope that today is a GOOD day. That you maybe got some sleep last night. If you didn’t, did you remember to be extra kind to yourself? Did you eat the cake? Did you watch the box set? Did you make a point of noticing something you did WELL?

It’s funny. This motherhood lark. Eight years ago, I joined the ranks. I was unprepared, overwhelmed and tried to control every little thing. I thought that as long as everything was in order, I would be ok. I would be a good mother. This worked on the days when everything went to plan. But often it didn’t. And actually, even when it did, the sheer fear of it falling apart left me feeling frazzled, confused and a bit low.

Eight years and three kids later and I am such a different mother. My third child has undoubtedly had the best of me. He’s so lucky. No Gina Ford for him. Just sleepovers in my bed. And understanding. And ice lollies for breakfast. Until recently, I thought that the years must have worn my parenting style down. That the third child must have worn me down. That my often chaotic, disorganised approach to life and parenting was born out of tiredness, laziness even and not wanting to fight too many battles. The other day, I realised this isn’t how it is at all. It’s not that I am chaotic or disorganised. It’s that I am able to choose what is important. What needs attending to. And what can wait. Basically? Everything can wait. Apart from my kids. Because these small people are growing up right under my nose, faster than I can bear. And I don’t want to miss any more moments than I already have. (Well, apart from the tantrumy moments. I could happily miss those.)

Finally, I have perspective. It’s all around me, every day. It’s in my eldest, almost 8 year old, who shows me how quick kids grow up. It’s in my middly who reminds me, just in case I forget. And it’s in my youngest, who has taught me to appreciate, rather than wish him (and the girls) away. Next year, my summer born boy will go to school. NEXT YEAR. There is no time to wish any of him away.

Why am I telling you this? Because it’s impossible to have this insight when you’re a new mum. Only time and experience can give it to us. But I want you to have just a little. If you can. Because I think it might help you when you feel like you’re drowning in those demanding early years. The hard moments can feel so long. So relentless. So endless. And they are. I haven’t forgotten. I see you, new mum. I do. You need so much physical energy. All the lifting alone. Of babies. Of buggies. Of SO MUCH STUFF. There’s always someone touching you. It feels as though there is no personal space.

Then, one day, almost overnight, your kids are at school. They come home from school and instead of hanging off of your leg, they go and play in their room. You have maybe 15 minutes to yourself before someone has hit someone else over the head with a gorilla (not a real one) and you have to intervene. You are not needed ALL OF THE TIME. And yet, you never ever saw this day coming. That your children would become less dependent on you in certain ways. How could they ever need you less? It just doesn’t seem possible when they are so new and pink and tiny. This perspective changes everything. Like when the toddler behaves illogically (again) and you find yourself smiling rather than despairing. Because you know this behaviour won’t last forever. It will pass. And turn into something else. Your almost eight year old is living proof of that. So is your five year old.

There is no time to wish any of them away.

(That said, please know that if you do find yourself wishing the days away, it’s perfectly normal and ok. Being a new mum is HARD but, one day, probably when you’re least expecting it, suddenly it will become easier. I am living proof of that.)

Much love to you AMAZING new mum.

 

 

You can also follow me on Instagram and Facebook. You might also want to treat yourself/drop heavy hints for someone else to treat you to The New Mum’s Notebook, sanity saving journal for new mums. I self-published it and Penguin Random House/Hutchinson have just bought the rights!

To the mum who doubts herself.

Dear Mum,

If you’re reading this, then you have probably doubted yourself, at one time or another. Who hasn’t? Maybe you’re doing it right now. Doubting yourself doesn’t feel good, does it? It feels uncertain. But not only is it normal, it’s healthy. Usually. Because it means we’re questioning ourselves, which comes only from the desire to do right by our children. Yes, Doubt (just like its good buddy, Guilt) is also love, in disguise. LOVE.

Doubt is wanting the best for our children. But not always knowing how to provide it. Every parenting stage is new and challenging. Getting our babies to sleep. Helping them start school. Supporting them as they grow physically and emotionally. The phases come and go. And we’ve just got to learn on the job. No parent is completely confident in their abilities. There’s always that niggle in the back of our minds, ‘What if I get it wrong?

And we will get it wrong. Many times over. We haven’t done this before. We’re dealing with human beings, not a maths equation. But the best thing about parenting? We always get another chance to do it again. Better. Differently. And every time we do, the doubt passes and that’s another phase mastered. For now, anyway. We’ve learned something new and, in the process, given our children the greatest gift of all. We’ve showed them that making mistakes is not something to be scared of. That it’s a crucial part of getting it right. Eventually. That they never have to be perfect. (Amen to that.)

Sometimes, however, doubting ourselves as a parent isn’t healthy. It’s a negative emotion. And that’s when the doubt doesn’t come from us but from someone else. Other people start to sew seeds of doubt the minute we start this parenting journey. And they won’t stop. Sometimes it will be an innocent, throw away comment. Other times it will be more loaded than that and come from a place of insecurity where they need our decisions to reflect their own. So they can make peace with them. In short, it’s about them, not us.

We can’t stop the seed being sewn. But we can prevent it from growing. Let them plant it in their garden, not ours. If it isn’t constructive. If it doesn’t sit right with us or leave us feeling inspired. If it leaves us with that lurching feeling in our gut and asking, ‘Why did they say that?‘ it’s not a doubt that will ever serve us well or move us into a better place. It will grow weeds not flowers.

It’s hard to rise above it, especially when you’re a new parent. But as we become more experienced, as we get to know ourselves better as parents, we learn to ignore idle criticism. Because we have more confidence. And we realise that any sort of judgement is born out of insecurity and, very often, boredom. It has no truth. And if we choose not to listen to it, then it also has no audience. So, never get drawn into judging someone else’s parenting style, their choices or even their kids. It will only make you feel bad.

Finally, when you lose faith in yourself or your child. When you wonder if you can do this. When you lie awake at night feeling anxious. Look at how far you’ve already come. At what you’ve already achieved and mastered. You can do this better than you think.

There’s no doubt whatsoever, in fact.

Because you already are.

Much love to you.

 

 

If you’re a new mum in need of a little reassurance, check out The New Mum’s Notebook, 304 pages of sanity saving support. It’s available online now. More of me over on Facebook and Instagram.

Some advice for my daughters…

I’ve wanted to write some advice to my girls for a long time. Not because I don’t plan on being here to tell (nag) them in person. But because by the time they reach an age where they really need the benefit of my wisdom (haha), I’m pretty sure all the gin I’ve had to drink to actually get them to that age, will mean I’m a bit, erm, wisdomless. So, here are some things I would like them to know.

  1. Never let anyone make you feel you need to fit in. If you’re feeling this, then it’s because the people you’re trying to befriend aren’t YOUR people. It’s as simple (and as hard) as that. Keep looking until you find those friends that totally get you. Accept you. And love you. Friendships shouldn’t be hard work. And they shouldn’t have ulterior motives or agendas.
  2. Don’t pluck your eyebrows. I mean it. They’ll never be the same again. As you get older they get thinner. There are other ways to tame them. Which is why I am removing all tweezers from the house NOW. I haven’t forgotten the time you cut your own hair, Beaver. And then got to work on your sister’s.
  3. Choose the best university you can. And do not base your decisions on any of the following a) proximity to current boyfriends b) proximity to hobbies you can’t bear to leave c) proximity to me (you really don’t have to go to Scotland to escape me, if the teenage years have left us less than friendly).
  4. Travel as much as you can. Work abroad if you get the chance. New York would be good. Because then I can come and visit. And live vicariously through you. I’m kidding. (I’m not.)
  5. Have faith. In yourself. And your own destiny. Don’t worry if the road you walk isn’t always straight or free of fog. Don’t worry if others around you seem to know where they’re going and you do not. You’ll get there when you get there. And it will be wonderful.
  6. Never underestimate the power of experience. Everything I am lucky enough to be doing today, is down to having experiences. Mainly as a result of having you, actually. (Thank you.) So embrace the good ones. The bad ones. And never be too stubborn or scared to learn from them.
  7. Take on board other people’s criticism of you. As long as it’s coming from a good place (you’ll know the ones that are and quickly filter out the ones that aren’t). Sometimes, there is no greater value than seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes. And if you aren’t evolving and becoming a little bit more self-aware than you were yesterday, you’re standing in your own way.
  8. Always follow your instincts. They have rarely let me down so trust yours. They will see you through some tricky decisions that neither your heart nor your head can resolve.
  9. If you marry, marry only for love. Nothing else. Because marriage is hard and if you don’t have that solid foundation of love, it’s much easier for the walls to crumble.
  10. Become a mother, if that is your will. You will experience the purest, most unconditional form of love there is. And as hard as it can sometimes be, there isn’t anything else I’ve done in my life that has shown me more about myself than raising you. Or anything I’m more proud of. Don’t wait too long (there’s never a perfect time). And don’t worry about being a perfect mother. If I’ve done nothing else, I hope I’ve at least shown you that doesn’t exist. Instead? Love your children. Say sorry when you mess up. And be brave enough to carry on.
  11. I will always be here. So never add me to your list of things to worry about. (But please. Try not to worry. It’s a waste of energy and rarely constructive. Plus? I’ll probably be lying awake at night and doing enough of that for all of us.)

There are another 3,521 things to add to this list, possibly more. As always, feel free to like, comment and share. I’m also on Facebook and Instagram. Sharing pictures of motherhood (it’s not actually that bad, I just make it look that way).

A mum’s letter to Father Christmas

Dear Father Christmas,

The other day we were talking about the kids and whether they’d been good this year. You finished off by asking me what I’d like for Christmas. And I said dismissively, ‘Oh, nothing.’ But I realised later, that wasn’t exactly true.

There are things I’d like. But it’s nothing of material value I need. The time I sulked because I didn’t get a Rolex for my birthday seems so stupid now. A lifetime ago. When things like watches mattered.

Today, the things I want are altogether different.

Firstly, I would like the good grace to remember, every day, that motherhood is a gift. Even on those days when it feels like such an effort. Because these small people in my charge are only on loan. And I know that, one day, my little boy will cease to bury his head in my neck. My six year old will save her precious confessions for someone else. And my three year old will be making others howl with laughter, whilst finally wearing something other than a tutu.

So I would also like more patience and tolerance. To appreciate the above. To help me let the little things go. And enable me to deal with the big stuff calmly. Particularly around 5.00 PM when everyone is frazzled (me especially) and I’m reaching for the gin. (Oh. That reminds me. More gin!)

Please keep showing me the plight of others. Even when it’s desperately sad. It allows me to keep a sense of perspective, which is so important in living a mindful life, particularly when you’re a mum often drowning in the more trivial aspects of family life. It’s never a bad thing to be reminded of what you have. To look for the abundance in your life. Rather than the lack. My children deserve to know how to do this too. If they don’t learn it from me, who will they learn it from?

Last night I watched them sleeping and I found myself hoping that they’ll always sleep so peacefully, with blissfully happy dreams. So, I would like them to always feel safe. Because there is nothing on this earth that I cherish more than them. And no greater gift you could give me.

Finally, please give them the strength to believe. In me, even when I’m flailing. And always in themselves. So that when one of their peers teases them for eating Peppa Pig crisps or tells them that YOU aren’t real, they find courage and conviction deep within themselves, not self-doubt.

I bet you wished you’d never asked now. It’s turned out to be quite a list. And don’t be fooled into thinking that I’ve only asked for gifts for my children. That I’m that typical, selfless mother who puts everyone else first. These are also gifts for me. Because without good grace, patience, tolerance, perspective and love, I will only ever be half the mother I could actually be.

So thank you for thinking of me. And I’ll see you on the 24th. The mince pies and brandy will be waiting. I’ll be having a gin.

Safe travels spreading your magic. (I’ve never stopped believing.)

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PS If you’ve already got a Rolex to pop into the bottom of my stocking, ignore my earlier comment. You may as well bring it with you. At the very least, it might help me to be on time for school…

As always, feel free to like/share/comment. And you’ll find more over at Surviving Life and Motherhood.

Dear Mummy…

As it’s Mother’s Day, I thought I’d write you a letter.  To say thank you.  And all the other things I never say.

I want you to know that I can already see that being a Mummy is not an easy job.  You tell me this sometimes.  But even if you didn’t, I can tell by the strained tone in your voice, your backcombed hair and the bags under your eyes.  You still look beautiful, by the way.

I also know that looking after me takes up so much time that you’re left with very little for yourself.  I wish I could do more to help you.  I am trying, I promise.  One day, I will be able to tie my shoes on my own, pack my school bag myself and clean my teeth properly.  All on my own.  Then I’ll probably be giving you other things to worry about.

Until I’m bigger though, I get that looking after me is hard.  I take too long to get ready in the morning.  I play with my toys when I should be listening.  I get easily distracted when you ask me to do something.  But, I probably don’t need to tell you that.  I think you know already.

Sometimes you get cross with me because of these things.  I’m sorry about that.  Because I never, ever mean to make you cross.  I want you to be happy.  Because I am happy when I know that you are happy with me.

You often joke that you are a ‘bad mummy.’  But I know deep down you sometimes think you are.  I want you to know that I never think you’re a bad mummy.  There is no other mummy in the whole, wide world that I would rather have.  Not a mummy who does crafts.  Not a mummy who always remembers everything.  Not a mummy who never shouts.  Me and my friends don’t think those mums exist anyway.

Because it doesn’t matter to me if you forget to give me a snack after school.  Or if you sometimes lose your temper.  It does, however, matter to me just a little bit when you forget it’s tuck shop day at school.  So could you try to remember that, please?

Life is so busy for you that I think you forget how simple my needs are.  You are always trying so hard to please everyone and make sure everyone is ok.  Well, you don’t need to, Mummy.  Because we are fine.  And we will be fine even if you try just a little bit less.  You are amazing, just as you are.

So, thank you, Mummy.  For always being there.  For making me the most important person in your life.  For giving up so much for me.

This is why I wake you up early and dither at bedtime.  Not because I want to annoy you.  But because you are the first person I want to see in the morning and the last person I want to tuck me in at night.

Because you are my mum.

And you rock.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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PS  I hope you like the ABBA CD.  It looked pretty awful to me.  But Daddy seemed to think you’d love it.  Each to their own, I guess.

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