It’s Spring of 2016 and I find myself emerging slowly from the thick and delicious fog of new motherhood. Baby number two now sleeps through the night and baby number one is no longer a baby. I blinked and she’s not even a toddler anymore – she’s a bona fide little girl… All blonde, blonde hair and long legs and an attitude to match. And it’s a beautiful life.
It’s a beautiful, messy, exhausting, messy, exhilarating, frustrating, messy, wonderful life, and while I lose my cool at least three times a day (and my keys more frequently than that), I’m grateful for everything about my little world. I’m married to my best friend, and in the faces of my two little girls I can see my every dream come true. But, without even realising it, lately I’ve been looking for something else. Something quiet. Something for myself.
I made a new friend recently. This is something that doesn’t happen every day, and I’m one of those gals who believes people come into our lives at exactly the right moments for exactly the right reasons. She said to me over lunch, as I bounced my five-month-old on my knee, “What do you like to do in your free time?” It seemed like such a simple question, and such an innocent one, but the earnestness with which she asked it and the understanding in her eyes as I floundered for an answer made me want to weep into my salad nicoise. Free time? What do I like to do? I flailed about for an answer.
On another day I might have responded with some light hearted banter like, well, what I really like is going to the loo on my own and eating lunch without having to stop and breastfeed midway. But my new friend hadn’t asked out of politeness – she really wanted to know. So I took a deep breath and I told her.
I like long walks. Or short walks. I like perfectly made cups of tea (and if they come with cake or chocolate, then much the better). I like shopping. Scratch that – before I became a full-time mum and stopped earning an income I LOVED shopping. I like shoes and brand-new handbags and have what I’m pretty sure is an unhealthily large collection of jeans. I like beautiful interiors, even if my own is more IKEA than Ideal Home. I like having friends round and feeding them – not that I’m great in the kitchen, but I try hard anyway. I like dance classes at the gym and country music and watching TV boxsets with my guy. I like reading – novels, magazines, poetry, newspapers – I love the way words are strung together to make something beautiful. I like beach holidays and ski weekends and city breaks and staying home and long chats with my sister and my best girlfriends. I like wine and, yes, most of all, I like being a mum.
Not always the day-in, day-out, pushing-water-up-a-hill aspects of it (although sometimes there’s satisfaction in that too), but the beautiful, punch-you-in-the-guts moments that make it all worthwhile. The little arms reaching for me after a fall, a sleepy head on my shoulder, the victory of a piece of broccoli eaten, the sound of the deep-down-from-the-soul laughter that spills from my three-year-old like a river. At the end of every day I stare at the sleeping faces of my girls and my heart contracts with what feels like an impossibly huge love.
I like the sisterhood that being a mum has opened up to me – the invaluable friendships that have been forged, based on mutual understanding and preparedness to be there for one another when one of us reaches the end of our rag. These women have become my comrades in arms, my company in the trenches, the producers of pots of tea that have miraculously turned the most difficult moments into opportunities for laughter.
I love watching my husband with his daughters. The Boy I married – so much more The Man when covered in Sofia The First stickers with pink feathers in his hair.
I’m simultaneously exhausted and energised by everything about being a mum. This is my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Oh and one other thing,” I said – back to lunch with my new friend. “I like writing. I used to be a writer.”
Now, it just so happens that this new friend of mine is a bit clever with digital marketing thingie-magiggies and blog platforms like WordPress (did I say “a bit”? I meant very. It’s her job.) And when she asked, “Don’t say you used to be a writer! Why don’t you start a blog and write about being a mother and all the other things you love?”, I felt like I had just woken up after a long sleep.
So here I am. Writing again. This blog is for me and for people like me who are doing their thing on the front line of motherhood but snatching snippets from the outside world whenever they can – like coming up for air. I hope to learn some new skills (there’s a whole “blogosphere” out there I’m keen to get acquainted with, a digital community where I’m assured there is room for everyone). I hope to practise my writing and touch on subjects that might encourage discussion or be useful to someone in the same situation I am. Most of all I hope this project inspires me to be more curious, more open, more motivated and to live in the moment every single day – the messy ones as well as the beautiful ones.
Here goes… Thanks for reading.