Parenthood: It takes a village

Kiran Chug Mummy Says

I’ve always believed that it takes a village to raise a child. I grew up surrounded by extended family, in a culture which sees new parents strongly supported by their relatives.

When I became a mother, on the other side of the world to this close-knit network I’d always had around me, I learnt of a different village. The mothers-to-be at ante-natal classes – also unaware of how our lives were about to change – they became my new family. They, and the new mothers at play groups and coffee mornings and local mothers’ meetings. Together, we cried about our lack of sleep, we shared good and bad experiences, we walked for hours trying to get unsettled babies to finally close their eyes, and we talked about it all.

Those women I’d only just come to know, became my sounding boards, my advisors, my confidantes, my friends – my village. I listened, I didn’t always agree, but I was comforted at least by their care. We watched our babies turn one together and in that year, we’d shared the best and worst of times. We’d done it together and as our babies had grown, so had we.

When I became a mother for a second time I was back home. The traditional village was my safety net. My mother held my baby when I and my husband were exhausted, my father entertained my toddler, my aunt made me nourishing traditional foods especially for breastfeeding women, my cousins shared their experiences of swaddling, weaning – and always, of course, sleeping.

My first child is now four. It has been some time since I have called on the village and its wisdom and comforting warmth. It has been some time, I suppose, since I have needed to reach out into it. I rely on the village every day – but for the very ordinary bits of life. My mother and father look after my children three days a week. My best friend, whose children are the same age as mine, always knows when to pour a wine on a bad afternoon and is forever there to share stories about our darlings.

But reaching out is what I did this week. I did it without really knowing I was doing it.

I worry less these days, I’ve accepted our weaknesses and our problems, I don’t worry that my daughter comes into our bed most nights, that she is still in nappies, that my son doesn’t care much for learning to write, that I don’t wash their hair enough, that they watch a lot of TV… Perhaps I’m finally comfortable in my role as mother and I’m confident now that my decisions are made with only their interests in mind – I no longer worry about judgement. However, recently, I had a wobble. I wrote about my worries in a post, I opened up my soul,  I typed my failure (or the failure I perceived) into the keyboard. I shared it all.

And there was the village. Even though I’d not realised I needed it – I was surrounded.

Old friends and new, family, acquaintances, readers, strangers – thank you. Thank you for sharing your stories, for telling me about your own children, your own experiences, your own troubles. Thank you for your kind advice and your wisdom. I didn’t really know I was asking for it or that I needed it, but I’m so grateful that I was given it. You offered your help, I listened, and the wobble eased. I found my strength, somehow, in your words and encouragement and remembered the years it had taken to build this confidence – bolstered by the village but founded in my own refusal to justify or be judged.

The village is more than my family and my old friends and my new ones too. It’s every reader, every parent and non-parent who has ever reached out or listened, or just been there and let me know. And the power of the village isn’t just that it will raise a child – it will also be there to help, support and nourish a parent who couldn’t do it any other way.

It takes a village to raise a child. Yes, it does. But it also takes a village to make and raise a mother.

Thank you, to my village.children laughing

Why won’t my child eat?

Milin playing football in garden

I’ve become rather relaxed about Milin’s eating (or lack of) over the last couple of years – almost to the point where I don’t worry about it. But I read about Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder recently – and while I am not about to diagnose Milin myself – it did make me think more seriously about his diet than I have for a long time.

Milin has just turned four. He eats the same thing every day: Porridge with milk and honey for breakfast, plain pasta for lunch with cucumber, strawberry yoghurt and grapes. And then plain rice for dinner with strawberries. He has a small cup of milk at each end of the day, usually drinks enough water, has a snack of apples and bananas and gets the odd plain chocolate or chocolate digestive for a treat. He won’t try anything else, he’ll cry and get anxious and upset if you push it, and he’ll gag if you get a spoon of something new near him.

But – I haven’t worried about him for a long time. He’s bright, he’s growing, he’s taking his vitamins, and I assume his refusal to eat any meat, vegetables, sauces, or anything new is his way of controlling me.

Reading about food refusal and avoidance though has worried me – what if there really is something wrong? And should I be doing more to make Milin eat?

Over the years, believe me, I’ve tried everything. At one point we were referred to a psychologist – and at that point I walked away from the doctor and the hospital. I didn’t want to stress Milin out or make him worry. One day, he would eat – surely?

Well nothing has changed. If anything, he’s becoming more difficult. He says he wants to try things but can’t get the spoon near his mouth. His lunch box comes home with him from nursery, his pasta untouched some days.

A very good (and very clever) friend suggested a star chart. And so, on Friday night, Milin and I drew it up. I wanted to make it manageable so we chose foods which I thought sounded rather appealing to a pre-schooler: pizza, baked beans, carrots and sausages. For every tiny bite, Milin got a sticker. When he got five stickers for every food, I promised him I would take him to the toy shop to choose a toy.

We’ve had two-and-a-half days of mixed success. It seems that Milin will eat raw carrot sticks. HOORAY he has doubled his vegetable intake and I can offer him something other than cucumber now. He will also grudgingly eat tiny bites of cheese and tomato pizza. But, baked beans make him vomit and sausages don’t even get close to his mouth before the wretching starts.

Is this about control? I’m not so sure now. Milin’s upset he’s not been to the toy shop – but not enough to try and eat more from the list.

I meanwhile am wondering, again, if I should seek help for him. My instinct tells me that he will be fine, that he’s just being fussy and controlling, and that one day he will eat better. But there’s a little worry that’s niggling away…

He’s told me he’ll eat chicken curry tomorrow, so that’s what I’ll be making him. We’ve been here before – the promise he’ll eat, the spoon half way to his mouth, and then the crying and mouth clamped shut. Maybe tomorrow will be different.

But maybe it won’t. I’m not ready to ask for help again though – while Milin is growing and putting on weight and healthy – I’m going to let him find his own way with food. All the while though, this makes me sad. My own relationship with food has always been complicated. I never wanted the same for my children. It looks like, already, I’ve failed.Milin playing football in garden


The ups and downs shall pass – they always have done

This too shall pass

He kicked, he screamed, he fought, he cried. My beautiful four-year-old boy turned into someone I barely recognised.

As days go, it followed a run of lovely ones. It came after my proclamations of us having had a lovely extended break together, at the end of a much-needed and blissful little holiday from work and school. It came after I’d been quietly reflecting on how grown up he had become and how settled life seemed. It came after I’d cautiously acknowledged that sometimes, some weeks, this parenting-thing was something I could manage.

It came as a shock – a horrid, sad, angry few hours. He scratched, he punched, he shouted out words he didn’t mean. He acted out of spite, he showed no compassion. He lashed out at me, at his best friend, at his sister.

I took him upstairs to his room, put on an audio CD of Toy Story, and asked him to stay up there until our friends had left. He nodded, defeated, and sat on his bed and listened to the story. Half an hour later, when I went upstairs, he was still listening. His friend had gone, I was upset about all that had happened – and it seemed he was too. He told me he didn’t like fighting and didn’t want to do it anymore, and that he’d liked the time alone in his room.

Until that point, as I’d watched our day unravel, I’d felt sad and upset about how he’d behaved. He’d been so violent and mean – was it my fault? He’d been so cross – why? I worried about how I could help him and what I’d done wrong.

His remorse lifted me. He hadn’t liked the anger, he wanted to try and control it. I still felt sad and upset – but relieved somehow that we’d figure this out. I didn’t want my child to be violent, just as he didn’t want to lose control.

This too shall pass Milin at park

I learnt that day that my little boy might be four, but we’re all still learning. Yes, the baby days are over, and I can look back at them and know how I could have done things differently, how they might have been easier – but this doesn’t mean I know what I am doing now.

Every day, week, stage and age simply moves the challenges on. When you look back on the tough times of one month they feel like absolute hell or a dream in comparison to the ones you face today. You might have learnt how to settle your one-year-old, but that gives you no insight into how to calm your over-tired four-year-old.

My cautious bliss, my belief that I might have cracked this motherhood thing was naively optimistic. Yet I still go through this process every few months of believing we’re finally in a more serene place. I’d fallen into the trap of a few days in a row of peace – and I’d lulled myself into the belief that all our days would be like this now. Of course they won’t be. That’s not what life is like with children.

What life is like, now, is unpredictable and unfathomable. But while the challenges change and there are new reasons for dark days – the good ones are also brighter. And those good days – there’s more of them now. More days where you’ve slept for six straight hours. More days when you don’t shout. More days when no-one has a meltdown in a supermarket over being told to keep their coat on. More days when you remember their library bag and nursery permission form and get through bath-time without tears.

As the children grow, and as we grow, the ups and downs might take us by surprise as we become less used to their intensity – but they too shall pass. Just as they always have done.This too shall pass Milin smiling

Slowing down, and listening to my tired children

mother and daughter hugging

So much of life seems to be about rushing around: from one place to the next, from one drop off point to one pick up point, from one appointment to another. We take the children with us. Through the week, it’s relentless. Over the weekend, it slows down – but not always as much as we need it to.

Our average week is nothing special. It’s probably similar to that of many of other families. In fact, it’s probably far easier than that of many families because we are so lucky with the support we have around us. But still, it’s relentless. It’s based around a very careful juggling act. The schedule must be followed by everyone involved. There’s no room for lateness, or for anyone to forget their rostered part.

The children have their daddy at home one day a week, their mummy at home one other day of the week, and they are with their grandparents the other three days. There are 14 different nursery runs to do – Milin goes five days a week, Jasmin goes two days a week – they go to nurseries on opposite ends of the borough. There are tubes to catch, offices to get to, offices to leave on time to get the children on time, from the right place, to the right place. On the days that we’re not home with the children, we leave home at seven, and often return around six.

The clothes must be laid out the night before, the lunches made, the library books found, the nursery letter signed and the spare kit bags by the door. There isn’t any room for anyone to forget.

Term recently restarted after the holidays. Our break had been spent lazing around the house in the mornings, not getting dressed until late. We’d watched Disney movies and gone for long walks in the woods. It was quiet, slow, bliss. Together, we made the most of the hours. But then we had to pick up the routine.

It wiped them out. They fell asleep in the car on the way home. On those first few days I barely saw them as they were just too tired in the hour at each end of my working day. It made me think about this busy life of ours. And how they are just little children, who we rush around from place to place, day after day, hour after hour.

I’m exhausted by it. It’s no wonder they are.

I love this life, but so much of it makes me exhausted. Watching the children sleep in the back of the car the other evening on the way home I thought back to our old life. Yes we were on the other side of the world, but in our smaller towns with shorter commutes, where life was simpler and less busy and it just was that you were outside more – would it be this way? I took every one of those eight years in New Zealand for granted.

I can’t compare life in these two places. But seeing how tired my children are these days makes me sad. And it also makes me more determined to listen to them on our days off. When it’s time to slow down, when they say they need a rest, when they don’t want to rush to the next place – I’ll be listening.

mother and daughter hugging


Little changes for a new year

January seems to be hurtling by so fast – and I can’t believe how long ago Christmas already feels. We’ve had a really busy start to the year and there’s already been lots of good but sadly, also, lots of not-so-good. I don’t really do resolutions, but given that this will be our first full year in our new home, I am making some little changes which I hope to see through for at least the length of 2016.

You know, already, that we love our little home. We’ve been here for six months now and we’re really making it our own. We haven’t got pictures up on the wall yet and the children still need bookshelves in their room… but slowly, we are making this space ours. We love it – but the one thing I really don’t love, is the mortgage.

And so, this year, if there’s one ‘resolution’ I’m making, it’s that I really have to start being better with money. It’s not that I’m bad – I understand what comes in, what goes out, I budget, I try to save, I’m organised with it, we have savings accounts, a pension plan… but I could be SO much better on a day-to-day basis. Above all, I could save more and spend less.

I’ve been a little slow to adapt my spending habits to fit the reality of our new outgoings and this month, that’s changing. We didn’t get a holiday last year because we were unsure if the house purchase would come through. This year, I’m desperate for one – but it means saving our pennies.

So, there’s a few simple things I’m doing which I’ll hopefully keep up throughout the year.

I’m being more organised with our family supermarket shop – spending less, making weekly lists so we buy only what we need when we need it, and sending Tony so I’m not tempted by all the things!

I’m also going to spend less on the children. I know it sounds mean, but they don’t need all the presents I buy for them and it’s time to stop spoiling them.

Most importantly, I’m buying less clothes. I have wardrobes full of clothes which I barely wear and there’s just no point – they’re expensive, they don’t make me happy, I can’t stand the clutter, and I’d rather save my pennies for a holiday!

These are just little things, but hopefully they’ll make a difference. I love these tips too from TSB on new year money resolutions – and if I did all of these things, I think we’d definitely deserve to book a holiday! (Not the point, I know, I know…)

But anyway – here’s my inspiration – a picture of our last holiday. Here’s to hoping we save enough for another one this year.Kos, Greeceswimming pool*This is a sponsored post


The Aldi Challenge and our weekly shop

As far as girls’ night gossip goes. I know that supermarkets aren’t usually high on the list of favourite subjects. But I had my sister and a very good friend around for dinner on Friday night and this is what we got on to. (After talking about handbags, discussing diets and moaning about our husbands, of course.) I’d just emptied a new packet of crisps into a bowl and both of my lovely girl guests wanted to know what they were. And that’s how we started talking about Aldi.

(For the record, the crisps were sea salt and lime and they really were delicious.) I’d picked up two bags last Friday, along with a gazillion other things. Not only were the crisps I was serving from Aldi, but most of our meal was made up of ingredients from there too. It was a chickpea and spinach curry on rice – simply hearty fare for dinner after the children finally went to bed. Our local Aldi branch is a ten minute drive away but, until last week, I’d never been inside.

Aldi had set me a challenge – could I do my weekly shop there? I was definitely prepared to give it a go. We have all the major supermarkets within a fairly easy distance of our house. I’m pretty disloyal and go through phases with all of them. The cost of a weekly shop is the biggest factor for me in choosing where we go – but I tend to ‘top up’ for nice added extras at the more expensive chains that Tony would have heart failure if I did our entire shop in.

I go through phases with online shopping too – I love the convenience, but often I’m not organised enough to book the Friday morning slot and so I take the kids and call it an outing. I get frustrated with substitutions and fruit that’s going out of date the next day too – so going in store really does have its bonuses in my view! The children love it as well and are good little helpers – so if it’s something we have time to do, I like doing it with them.

Anyway, back to Aldi – I’ve never been in despite hearing how cheap it is. I went on a Friday afternoon with the children, and I’m so glad I was alone. It would have been really difficult with them as the shop was really, really busy. I asked the woman at the checkout if it was always like this – and she said it was.

And then she gave me the total: £69. I couldn’t believe it. I’d bought beef burgers, salmon, mango, pomegranate, wine, toilet roll, some crisps, a few pizzas, filled fresh pasta, and ALL the fruit and veg and groceries we would need in a week. I really couldn’t believe how little it had all cost.

I’d filled a standard trolley. We buy a lot of fruit and vegetables – and I love berries and exotic fruit so out of season these can really add up. This trip included two capsicum, mushrooms, courgettes, onions, broccoli, carrots, banana, oranges, apples, raspberries, blueberries… and more! (Although I was disappointed there were no strawberries as the kids can’t live without these!) We also always buy wine, bread, and eggs, tinned tomatoes – the usual stuff. Most of our cooking is from scratch with fresh ingredients, so herbs and spices always get into the trolley too. While I was in Aldi my sister-in-law called and we arranged for her and my brother-in-law to come for a take-away that night. So, I popped a couple of pizzas, three bottles of wine and two bags of crisps into the trolley too!

Through the course of the week I think I subjected the shopping to a lot more scrutiny than normal. Maybe it was cheap because it wouldn’t taste good? However, it’s safe to say that everything was fine. I was disappointed with the bananas – but otherwise, the mango was amazing, the berries delicious, the crisps yum, the meat and fish great – and the wine? Brilliant. I didn’t eat the pizzas but Tony and our guests also gave them a big thumbs up and they saved us a fortune on a take-away. I was particularly impressed with the non-branded muesli (I don’t think I’ll ever buy branded stuff again!) and the kids’ chocolates also went down a treat despite not being branded – they obviously tasted the same!

It’s safe to say I’ve been converted. I wasn’t brave enough to buy the non-branded nappies and wipes, and the kids like certain yoghurts which I couldn’t get and my rice milk wasn’t there either – so there are a few things we’ll be heading to another supermarket for – but otherwise, Aldi has won me over. I’ll be sending Tony though – because the crowds aren’t for me and I really don’t want to go there with the children in tow! As for Tony? He’s delighted. He’s always on at me about saving money and he couldn’t be happier about doing the shopping when it means we save so much as a result of where he goes.

Aldi weekly shop*Thank you to Aldi who paid for our weekly shop – pictured above!


I wasn’t pretty, but I don’t feel bad

I wasn't pretty

They were tired. I’ve been pushing them, maybe, too far over the line between wearing them out so they sleep and wearing them out so they’re a mess. Too many long walks, too much excitement over Christmas and a fourth birthday, too much excitement over me being at home for a week, too much of giving in because there’s no nursery run to rush for or tube to catch to work.

Anyway, they were tired. And instead of being their cushion, their comfort, their open arms to fall into – I was snappy and harsh and stern.

Little things like them refusing to get their coats on, or them spilling their dinners over the floor while messing around – these were the things that got to me. My responses weren’t measured. My shouts were too loud, my words were too cross for silly accidents.

I watched them break down in tantrums over equally little things, and again, I didn’t scoop them up. I was annoyed, by their tiredness, by their silliness, by things which shouldn’t have mattered. They are just children.

I snapped, grumbled, raised my voice and got angry. I put them to bed early and sat quietly beside them, hoping they would fall asleep soon. When they did, I pulled their duvets around them, tucked feet back inside cot bars and kissed their so-soft cheeks good night.

Downstairs, I poured myself a gin and knew I hadn’t been pretty. I hadn’t been particularly kind or fair. I hadn’t been particularly good at being a mother. My children needed me to be gentle and to be nice. But I wasn’t. And I didn’t feel bad about it.

It’s taken me years to get here, but I know now that sometimes it’s ok to have a break from being the one who stays calm, who makes it all ok, who is there to soak up the drama, the tears, the tantrums, the over-tiredness, and the hungry-toddler-fury. Sometimes it’s ok to be too fatigued to keep your words level when they spill their milk all over the bed because they’re playing. Sometimes it’s ok to be annoyed that you have to dress them even though they’re old enough to do it themselves and you’re running late and you asked seventeen times already. Sometimes it’s ok to be cross that another meal has gone in the bin, that they’re fighting over that toy again, that they won’t hold your hand while crossing the road. Sometimes it’s ok to let them, or anyone else, see that it gets to you.

Because we’re just human, aren’t we? We’re all just mothers trying to be the ones who have all the magic kisses, who don’t swear when we stand on Lego, who don’t mind tidying away plastic for an hour each night. We’re all just mothers trying to be the ones who are always smiling when they run to us in tears, who have all the answers to all the ‘why’ questions and who manage to get everyone out of the door on time no matter what mood they’re in and whether they’re listening or not. We’re the ones trying to make precious the moments when we’re not at work, who are constantly trying too hard to make up for all those hours we miss. We’re all just trying to do our best.

I’m not going to feel bad though, anymore, about not being able to get it all right, all the time, everyday. I’m not saying sorry. I’m not feeling regret. There will always be days when it’s too hard, too much, too exhausting, too frustrating. There will always be days you know just need to be over, and days which you won’t be proud of – but they are the days that are so rare, and, perhaps, needed.

I wasn’t pretty. When I was tired, when they were tired, when we all needed to stop and give ourselves a break – I didn’t let us. I kept us going. Maybe next time I’ll go easier on us all. I’ll let up the pace. But if I don’t, that’s because we are too used to keeping it all running, all the time, that sometimes it’s hard to stop.

Almost all of the time, I am their one. Sometimes though, just sometimes, I can’t be. And that’s ok. I wasn’t pretty. But the day is done. And we’re all ok.

I wasn't pretty


Woodland walks and the happiness of being outdoors

children on forest woodland walk

This Christmas period has seen us spend so much time outdoors together. It’s made us happy, relaxed us, and shown me again how good it is for all of us to simply get outside with each other.

It’s no surprise that the children love to be outdoors. What’s not to love about having space to run, sticks to find, creatures to befriend, mud to squelch in and squirrels and birds to create make-believe stories about? Milin and Jasmin can make as much noise as they like and get as grubby as they want – and they’re never deterred by the weather.

We’re very lucky to have a big park, playing fields and playground at the end of our street and we are here often with them. But not as much as I’d like. Working four days a week and fitting school run and errands into the fifth day can squeeze the time we spend outdoors. Our weekends fill up quickly with their busy social lives and activities and so while we always make it out to the playground and at least for a short walk, it’s not always the big adventure we really would all love.

I’ve had some time off work over Christmas and we’ve made the most of it. The weather has been so mild and dry that it’s been perfect for long walks and exploring. We discovered an amazing woodland walk in the forest near our house. It’s hard to believe we’ve lived here for six months without finding it yet. We’ve previously spent our woodland walks at a forest which is a short drive away so finding one we can walk to is brilliant.

We spent Boxing Day morning doing a little loop through the forest, climbing up rickety steps, crossing mini bridges and finding fallen trees which had made archways. Milin found some great sticks, Jasmin found loads of splashy puddles, and they both loved the excursion. And so did Tony and I.

I think we’re pretty good at getting outside to explore, but our recent walks have made me realise just how important it is for us as a family. My eight years in New Zealand were spent gazing up at big skies, driving out into the country, looking out to sea and waking to native birdsong. Tony was brought up in the hills there, between the mountains and the sea, and about as far from London life as possible.

As I grew up, life got in the way of the great outdoors. It wasn’t until New Zealand that I really appreciated what a walk along a windy beach or a trek through the bush could do. I’d never really known the power of the fresh air and grass or sand underfoot, stars overhead, and leaves in the breeze, to help reset everything.

That’s what these long walks have done for us. They’ve helped us forget, for a while, the worries and stresses of everyday life. They’ve helped us ignore the noise of life and make the most of having each other. They’ve helped us be ourselves, with nothing else to do, but be together.

As the children grow, I want to make sure that these adventures are still there for them. I want them to always feel the freedom of being outdoors and to know how good it is in helping the rest of life come together. As they get older, I hope they know that these hours spent exploring are also hours in which we have fun, laugh, forget our routines and daily battles, and get to be with each other without distractions.

When we’re usually so caught up each morning in getting up with the alarm and packing lunches and remembering library books and spare clothes and getting out of the door by 7.15am, and coming straight home after mummy finishes work and getting straight in the bath and straight to bed for books and only three of them and then it’s bed time… when all of that takes over – these forest walks are what we need. To reset us, and to remind us that living a little slower is better for us all.

boxing day kiran forest walkchildhood unplugged milin nature walk boxing day walk milin on forest steps boxing day jasmin playing in forest Boxing day jasmin walking in forest Boxing day muddy walk with stick MilinBoxing day walk with children in woods

Preeclampsia, and the phone call that changed everything

milin boxing day forest walk with stick

I’d just washed my hair and Tony was building a brick wall around our garden when the midwife rang. “We’ve got your test results back, and we’d like you to go straight to the hospital. They’re expecting you.”

And so, with my flipflops on and my handbag hastily picked up from the kitchen counter, I made the short walk to hospital with Tony by my side. I had stayed away from Dr Google, I hadn’t looked up the severe swelling, or why I might be getting intense headaches, why I’d lost my vision in my yoga class the night before, or why I’d been suffering incredible pain in my side.

“You have preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome,” the doctor said. “We’re going to induce you.”

I hadn’t finished packing my hospital bag. We hadn’t painted the nursery. We had no family and only a few friends in town because it was holiday time.

I cried. I wasn’t ready to have my baby.

He was born by emergency c-section on the last day of the year, four years ago. Tony and I had been so scared until that moment, and then, holding him, we felt the sudden weight of sheer responsibility for this tiny bundle who we had made.

When I was well enough to go home, a week later, we made the short walk again – this time with our child. I pushed the buggy proudly. We were all safe. We were going home to start a new life together.

And now, on the other side of the world to that hospital where he was born, Milin is growing into the most beautiful boy. There isn’t a day we don’t pinch ourselves because we know we are lucky beyond words to have him in our lives. He is a loving, caring, fiercely protective older brother, a bright little button whose memory amazes me. He loves counting, Lego, superheroes, making friends, running at the park, finding the best stick on walks, and – possibly above all – he loves chocolate.

He can write his name, although the ‘n’ is always a capital and the ‘i’s are written with upwards strokes. He loves being read to, by his daddy preferably, before mummy lies by his bed as he goes to sleep. He still has his bunny every night, he loves his sleep, and he loves to tell jokes all day long. We laugh loudly at them, at his cleverness, at his new understanding of the world, of his desire to please and see love.

I am constantly anxious – will we do well enough by him? Will we set a good enough example, give him the best opportunities we can, and give him the best chance to achieve his dreams? I don’t doubt that we will always try our very best to give him everything we wish for him, but I fear that isn’t enough. He is our beautiful boy, who I know will dream big and reach for the stars. I hope he will always know that he is so much loved. I hope that as he one day must learn bad as well as good, feel pain as well as joy, know loss as well as wins, I hope that he’ll feel bolstered by our love. And as he grows to live his dreams, I’ll be right by his side, now he is nearly four.

Milin is four Milin at Walthamstow playground

*For more information on Preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome, and how to recognise the symptoms, see here.



Time together, time for Christmas

I’ve been feeling excited about Christmas for weeks, for but a few little family outings over the weekend ramped the level up another notch. I took the children to see a phenomenal show – Land of Lights - at the Arts Depot in Finchley, and we also paid a special visit to see Santa at Springtime nurseries Christmas Wonderland at Crews Hill, Enfield. Both were such magical visits, and the weekend was bookended with Milin’s Christmas show at nursery and a family visit on Sunday complete with Prosecco and mince pies after trips to the park and the flower market.

With only a few days to go and the presents all wrapped, what has also been really lovely is the sense that we are enjoying each other. I still have half a day to work tomorrow – but Tony and the children are off now and I will be too very soon. It’s so nice to not have to rush them out of the door at 7am while they’re hardly awake. It’s so nice not to worry about packed lunches and spare clothes. And it’s so good for them to have a little rest. We rush them around during the weeks of term time and forget, I think, sometimes that they’re only little. They need a holiday as much as we do, and they also need to spend time with us.

But to go back to our pre-Christmas weekend – it really was special. It started with my day off work. I spent the morning with Jasmin on a cafe date which was a treat for us both, and we then went to Milin’s nursery for his Christmas show. They sang four songs to the parents and he knew every word. I couldn’t believe how grown up he was, he confident he was, and how much of a little character he was. Seeing him in his nursery environment was lovely and I was so ridiculously proud.

Saturday morning was spent at the amazing Christmas Wonderland that the Springtime nurseries garden centre creates every year. It truly was phenomenal. We saw live reindeer, went on a little train through Santa’s grotto, saw life-size polar bears and penguins, and the elves making the toys in Santa’s workshop. The children met Santa too – which was so exciting for them. It made me realise how much they’d grown up in a year as I took them to the same place last year and Milin really didn’t understand as much and Jasmin slept through it! This year though they are so excited it’s so sweet to see and listen in on.

The afternoon was spent at our favourite local arts venue – the Arts Depot. The children were lucky enough to see Room on the Broom there recently, and I felt very lucky to have been given tickets to review Land of Lights as well. It was such a brilliant performance – unlike anything I’ve seen before, and such a lovely family event for this time of year. It was perfect for their age, and probably great for any kids up to five, and I’d highly recommend it. It’s a beautiful little story about stars having fallen from the sky, a balloonist in search of them, and little people living in little houses waiting for the stars to return.

The children sit around the stage and are totally involved and immersed in the action. They get their hands grubby searching for stars, are encouraged to answer questions, and are even dressed up as little explorers. Milin in particular loved it and I really thought it was some of the best children’s theatre we’ve seen. I’ll be looking for more from Oily Cart who put the show on!

Our festive weekend also saw us wander around the stunning Columbia Road flower market in Hackney and the children loved picking out flowers with me and their aunty. I collected pussy willows, Christmas berries and eucalyptus and now I can’t wait for the big day. I’m wishing for more of what we’ve had – time to enjoy each other.  Life has been so busy lately that this is all we need.

Jasmin in Christmas hatNursery christmas show santa hatChristmas wonderland crews hillSanta's Grotto Crews Hill Enfield

land of lightsJasmin Columbia Road flower market tulips

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