The Language of Letting Go

I’ve always maintained that parenting hit me like a brick and a cushion. A brick, because the jarring, unyielding, transformations that you go through are neither kind nor easy. And, a cushion, because there is ethereal comfort to be found in creating and sustaining a whole life beyond your own body.

That has not changed, for me. In many ways, every day feels like the brick and the cushion, all at the same time, because the little life beyond your own changes faster than you can keep up with. Even more jarringly, you have to change too.

Motherhood enabled me to centre myself, not my life. There’s a difference there, because my life as whole hasn’t always been a deeply-rooted tree. What motherhood changed within me was the ability to put down the roots and grow. Everything that came after that has been an extension of that central point. It is the thing I centre myself around, and is the ultimate motivation behind many of my choices, but it’s not the single-focus of my life. It is sewn into my character and actions, but it is not directly them. There is a difference there, and that is an item on my life list I did not expect. It is why I put the tree down, but it is not the tree.

As my child has grown up, our family has grown up. I make no apologies for making this triangle a focus point, and I have zero regrets on this. What has been interesting, however, is just how much freedom has come from doing that. As our marriage unwinds towards the future, I feel more free than I ever have before. I feel more capable and assured. I realise now, however, that I had felt those things already, but there is a deepening of it that I didn’t expect. The knowledge that our triangle is signed into law is a strange set of comforts, but also an easily visible-to-anyone-else, set of bricks that we’ve built our life upon. I don’t get wrapped up into explaining how it all fits together anymore, because it’s a little easier for everyone else. That’s cool. Less admin for me.

But with my child growing up, and all this additional sense of liberation that comes with growing older, getting wiser, and building a life…comes a whole bunch of change. Sure, she’s taller, but I’m left wondering if she’d be even taller if I had insisted on vegetables in every meal. Sure, she seems to be settling into a social life, but I’m wondering if my own anxieties as a human being are influencing her choices of friends. Sure, she seems to be a hilarious facsimile of my own person, but was that me, or was that the influence of my own mother? And, if it was my mother…am I now being more like her? Am I okay with that? (Yes, I really am. My mother was a warrior who overcame every fear to fight for what she believed in, even when her own body was falling apart, and she lost the love of her life. If I can live my life to be half as courageous as my mother, I will have done well).

Change means learning new things, and the language of letting go is one I still need a dictionary for. I may not have my own mother to call up and cry down the phone to, but I have a village of people I lean on. I have my amazing mother-in-law who absolutely goes to the dark places with me, fearlessly, and then she makes me laugh within them. I have my other mother-in-law who is a rock and an unyielding river of love. She is an unstoppable force and support that I have been lucky to have for my whole life. Nothing is ever too much for these women, and for that, I know my mother (and I) are grateful. If my mother is watching, I know she approves of the way they’ve stepped in where she could not now. The circle of friends who surround our family, and the wonder of genius minds who live within that circle, always provide light and perspective, as I try to learn the new language of letting go. While I’m stumbling around in the dark, they’ll find a candle. When I can’t see the journey, they’re building me a pathway.

And perhaps…perhaps…the hardest paragraph of knowledge to learn in this new language of letting go is this:

It is no longer about what you can teach them. It is no longer about what kind of approach you took in raising them when they were little. It is no longer about instilling manners, or mannerisms. It is no longer about the ways you showed them how to tie their laces, or say hello. All the little lessons you could teach them are done. Your chalkboard is blank, and your lesson plans are closed. What happens now, is what they do with what you taught them. 

As she puts her spin on life, and delves in to learning who she is and how she is, she tries on characters, types, thoughts, beliefs, and inspirations. I see her looking for elements of herself in the world around her, and I see her searching to find things that feel true to her being.  While I’ve tried so hard to offer her as many options as I can, some of them she has to find for herself. I can’t read her the whole menu of her life – some of those menu items are only for her to read.

While I’m learning the language of letting go, she is learning it too. Her spirit rallies against mine, as I untether the years of keeping her guarded, keeping her close, and averting her eyes from the world. She must look, and see, and do, and learn. But she knows that I am behind her, beside her, and… well, I’ll sum it up like this:

“I wanted to be the mom that had her arms wide open just waiting for you to fall in if you needed it.

She runs into the world, and I am there waiting. I am supervising the sandpit as she plays into her own life, but I am no longer on the ground getting my feet muddy. The distance between my guardpost and the sandpit feels like a yawning abyss, but I know it’s  just a foot in width.

She is the leaves and I am the trunk. I am the rooted tree, as she grows up towards the sun in the sky.  She’ll use the tree to make paper, upon which she’ll write the story of her own life, and I, using the paper made from the tree of my own family, write out what I learn from the language of letting go. The trees of life bend to the wind, and wave to the sky, but they stay rooted, because…that’s why.

That is why trees exist, after all.




Shoes on Her Feet

It’s almost time to head back to school. Last year was such a mind flip for me,  so getting ready to re-enter the classroom and start up that homework machine is making me a little anxious. But, that’s not what today’s about.

I have a list of ‘grudge’ purchases related to stocking up for school, and usually spend a good six weeks recovering from the financial outlay required before we head to the classroom on the first day. But, as we’ve gone through the years, I’ve realised more and more that skimping on stuff just doesn’t work (we won’t talk about the year I ended up buying four pairs of school shoes because I kept going for the ‘cheap’ option).

Green Cross 1

Take a quick quiz in your head – which pair of shoes does your kid wear the most and for the longest amount of time?

I’m going to spoil this daydream moment for you and tell you that it’s not her favourite pink beach sandals or his trendy sneakers. Nope, it’s their school shoes.

It makes sense therefore to ensure that our kids are wearing comfortable, supportive and tough school shoes. And that’s why I’m putting Green Cross on my kids’ feet for the 2016 school year.

First up, a confession: I tried these on myself (my daughter and I are the same shoe size at the moment!) and they’re so comfortable that I’m actually a little bit envious. Durability and comfort are, obviously key, and these comfy shoes are double stitched and have a neat little, breathable sole to ensure maximum support.

Second confession: I love Mary-Jane type shoes. I had a pair of my own in the 90s that I lived in (long after school) and bought another pair back when I lived a power suit life. Nowadays, I’m more likely to be wearing slops than anything else, but I may pop out and get myself a pair of Mary-Janes now, just because, did I mention? These are seriously comfortable.

In her words, my kid described them as:

“These are so awesome. They’re very bouncy!”

(she’s also probably relieved I’m not forcing her into her old scuffed ones for yet another term).

I took a peek over at the Green Cross Facebook page and saw that anyone who buys a pair of school shoes can win a bunch of cool prizes before 31 January 2016.

44748 17 Dec

Here’s how you can enter:

Pop across to this #VeryCoolForSchool site and enter the last five digits of your product barcode. You can then Spin to Win some of Green Cross’ prizes! There’s iPad Minis, gift cards and other sweet stuff to win. Yay!

May your first day back at school be a great one. We’re off to bounce around before we head into the classroom for Day One. 



<This post is not sponsored, but my daughter received a pair of shoes to review for this post>




Mama Bear One

“Mama Bear One, this is Mama Bear Two, check in”

This is how it is in my head, most days. No, that’s how it was.

I am Mama Bear One to a child who is growing up faster than I can handle, and I am Mama Bear Two to all the other aspects of life that need to be managed, tangled, assuaged and confronted.

Here’s the thing though, that I’ve realised during this self-enforced holiday I am sad to bid farewell to: Mama Bear One and Mama Bear Two need to be nicer to each other. In fact, they need to be the same person.

The duality that exists between being a parent and being a person is something I used to think I had snapped up and zipped in pretty well. I lived a very compartmentalised life, which saw me living it up in a number of ways but it left me exhausted. Talking with a friend this afternoon, I realised that I lived a lot of years on auto-pilot, and constantly forgot to apply self-care to my life. It’s no wonder to me now that, looking back, I was really very horrible to myself.

During the holidays, I realised that when Mama Bear One is in control, I am happy. I feel like I’m kinda winging it, but I’m happy. I love that home life we’ve created, and I live for those little moments where a smile spreads across the dinner table like spilt treacle. Slowly but significantly, and then it sticks.

When Mama Bear Two is in control, I’m a different kind of happy. I feel effective and aware of the world around me, even though it’s often not a very happy place to be in. It’s that which irks me, that keeps me compelled to do better, be better and… the thing I’ve realised is that I need to – again – redefine my own version of success.

For a long time, I used to think that Mama Bear One was a successful single mom with a happy kid, while Mama Bear Two was a career woman who was both committed and energetic. Living that life where the two had to be constantly maintained left me feeling particularly unsuccessful though. It stressed me the heck out to try and keep the two at good levels of success.

Finding and sticking to the place where I could feel successful took work. It took setting boundaries and sticking to them, unashamedly. It took, in large part, turning away from all my pre-conceived notions of Mama Bear Two’s success and focusing more on how and when Mama Bear One felt happiest. At some point, Mama Bear One had to win, otherwise I’d have lost all this magic forever. I’m glad she did, but in some ways I (selfishly) miss a bit of Mama Bear Two. She’s gone now, for good, but her ideas and busting-pokes-at-things have reapplied themselves to Mama Bear One’s life, which is how we ended up playing Speed Monopoly on Saturday evening and showcasing the best strategy for bankrupting your opponent to a ten year old.

Letting go of Mama Bear Two had to happen so that I could live a Mama Bear One life that wasn’t lacking, it was just expanded. Bashing down that mental wall – those compartments between the two – is something I had to do.

If the holidays taught me anything, it’s this: That stopping to gain some perspective is an essential part of this funny life journey, but when that train comes round to pick you up, it’s up to you how you choose to step on again.

My friend Stacey wrote this about her New Years Resolutions and having a theme for each year. For me, my theme is to let things happen as they need to. Things either fall in place or fall away and, while I can go out and get the things I want to have fall into place, what falls away needs to be left alone to live (weirdly, since consciously making an effort to apply this to my life, it’s happened more easily, more perfectly and ended up in really beautiful ways). No more energy wasted on trying to make things fit into these compartments I created. It is what it is, and what’s here is so damn beautiful, that I should stop and look at it now and then.




You Don’t Get This Back

I am always first on the line to smack heads when someone tries to give me “advice” on how to parent my child. It’s funny, but the people who pass this advice around the most, are usually people who are not parents themselves. Oh, and you never actually ask for it — it’s foisted on you like that free sample of shaving cream some enthusiastic in-store promoter just needs to give you.

Usually though, when I am seeking advice or would like some insight on something, I head on over to my child’s grandparents for their take on it. I have memories of asking my mom for advice, but that stopped about a year before she died. Not being able to ask her or my dad is something that stings so much. But, I have a network of incredible extended family who are there, and who are always willing to jump when I ask. For that, I am ever-grateful.

But there is one addendum to this rule of mine, and it’s this:

The most powerful thing anyone ever said to me about parenting was not spoken by a parent.

It was, very simply:

“You don’t get this back”.

Now, that seems like a stupid statement to you right now, but I’ll explain:

I can work, and work, and work. Work will always happen. I can get work back. I can clean, clean and clean. Things will get dirty again, and then I’ll get to clean again. I can get cleaning back.

But the moment where my daughter read her first word will never happen again. The second where she went from crawling to walking, will never happen again. The sunny morning where I watched her win all her races in sports day? That day will not come back.

That Tuesday evening where, as I walked from the lounge to the kitchen, turning away from my daughter and she finally said the word I’d been waiting a year to hear? That was a limited edition, one time only, will never happen again moment. That word was…


So you can tell me this is urgent, you can foist your deliverables upon me, and you can yell about how badly you need me. But those things are notlimited edition, one time only, moments. You’ll need me again, for something, or something new will arrive that’ll be just as important. What is urgent today will not matter in a year. I will get that back.

For me, right now, as I watch her, head buried into homework. Or I listen to her story about how Molly fought with Margaret and now they’re friends, but there was a bit of a situation over by the benches…

I know — I don’t get this back.

Also published here.

Just Instinct.

When you’re 24, pregnant and everyone calls you highly neurotic about, well, everything, it seems like a really good idea to hang curtains.

We’d just moved into the flat I used to live in (I once had a weird habit of moving back to the same homes, over and over again, I’ve broken it now) and I was determined to “raise this baby the right way”.

She was a surprise. An incredible, delicious surprise I would discover much later on, once the fog of no-sleep-new-baby and holy-shit-my-father-died lifted a few months later. I took for granted the way she would sleep through the night early and I could always get her to nap if I just laid down and let her twirl her pudgy fingers through my hair. She still does this, ten years later, except she twirls her own hair nowadays and it’s a telltale sign she’s tired (If I ask her if she’s tired, while she’s mid-twirl, she will vehemently deny it. Still)

But that’s post-fog. Let’s get back to the curtains.

It was a week before she would arrive. My alleged neuroses over EVERYTHING were at an apex and I knew I had to head to the doctor for what would be our final pre-natal appointment. Weirdly, I felt calm, even though my brain was all “hang the curtains. it has to be today. don’t let anyone else do it. yes, everyone says it’s dangerous. ignore them. you’re fine. hang the curtains”. I had my little schedule all jotted out in my head — go see dad in his hospital bed, pop upstairs to see the doc, come home, hang curtains.

On that Friday morning, surrounded by boxes and the like, I had THE URGE. I’d finished the “baby room” (what a laugh that was. I knew from the moment we came home with her that she’d use that room far less than we originally thought) and was working on getting the lounge into some semblance of a living space.

I came out of the bedroom and looked around me. I HAD TO DO THE CURTAINS RIGHT NOW. Call it pregnancy hormones, neurotics, nesting, ridiculous self, whatever. They had to be done.

So I hoisted myself onto a chair (not an easy task. I couldn’t even get out of bed unaided at that point) and hung them. My arms tiring more quickly than I wanted, but I got through it, grunting as I went.

Then I left the flat, and began my schedule. Dad, with his “darling, you don’t have to come here every day” platitudes (yes, yes, I really actually have to, sorry. it’s selfish. I don’t care) and my pseudo-pretence at “being okay” while watching the man who made me, wither away in some hospital bed with too crisp sheets and an uncomfortable pillow.

At the doctor’s, I smiled and said “I’ll be seeing you this weekend” and he chided me, again. We had a charming understanding that I was “know it all new mom who Googled too much” and he was the professional. It helped us along, as we could constantly poke each other, humorously, while he made sure I was doing okay with this gestation. He told me, laughing as he spoke, that he was going on holiday that weekend, and that my baby wasn’t yet ready to come (there’s still three weeks to go, stop Googling) so he had full confidence that he’d see me again the next week. I said:

“Call it maternal intuition. But I’m ready. She’s ready. I don’t think she knows about holidays yet. Maybe you can tell her about it when I see you this weekend”.

Leaving the hospital, I stopped in at the cafe, picked up a vegetable curry pie, and meandered home. We lived within walking distance of the hospital, with no hills to make it hard. So I walked. I loved those little walks, even though they were a skip, really — except for me, the waddling wideass who took a full fifteen minutes to get home.

As I walked into the flat, settled down to eat my pie, I looked to the right, assessed the newly hung curtains and said, out loud: “okay baby, I’m ready”.

Fast forward to that Saturday afternoon. It’s raining, he’s setting up an old school Scalextric track at his folks, I’m talking to mine. And the urge to pee is so strong, I have to go back to the bathroom three times before I’m done.

I call my doctor, and say: “Look, guy, I know you hate me but, really, it’s happening”. He laughed and returned to his fishing, after telling me to “stop Googling, or you’ll give yourself labour”.

I walk back into the lounge, and sit next to my dad who’d been discharged for the umpteenth time that morning. I look at him, grab his hand and say:

It’s happening. I don’t know why I know but I know. My doctor says it’s not but I know — it’s happening. Can I just sit here and let it happen?

He says:

Your mother and I have done this three times. It’s not like we’re inexperienced”.

So I sit, and wait. The rainy afternoon happens and I’m neurotic all over again, as I feel a little kick that turns into a big one banging against my belly. My dad sees the shape of a foot against my dress and laughs.

It would be the last time I hear his golden laugh.

By the evening, I’m in the hospital. By the next morning, I’m a mother.

By the next month, I’m at my father’s funeral.

By the next year, I’m sitting in my office when everything goes dark and I don’t know why until the phone rings and then I’m rushing my daughter to the emergency room.

By the next five years, I’m kissing my mother goodbye for the last time.

By the next ten years, I realise that what everyone called neuroses, was just instinct.

I finally trust it.


Also published here.

On Names.

This is not the first time this has happened. You came home the other day, having shrugged off another stupid attempt to annoy you. It had centred on your name.

I’ll accept this. You don’t have what’s traditionally considered a “girl’s name”. But it is the name of a rather famous actress, and it’s a name that was chosen for you with love, long before you opened your eyes to this big wide world you were born into one stormy evening.

We’ve spoken through this topic many times, and by now, you know all of my automatic responses and answers you can pass on to the next silly buffoon who thinks he/she can take a jab at you for having an “unconventional” name.

A secret

Instead, today, I’m going to tell you a secret – I too, for a long time, did not like my name. When I was very little, I couldn’t pronounce it, so shortened it to a name that would end up being my family nickname. Nowadays, it’s something very few people call me (and heaven help someone who unauthorised attempts to use it). Now, as an adult and in a professional sense, I often use a more traditional, shortened version of my name.

But, at school, I was always internally upset at the sheer length of my name. By how many people had ‘cooler’ names than I did. By how many people I would discover that had the same name as me. I felt slightly affronted by it, because my name ended up being something common. In my teens, when the Internet became a de rigueur part of my life, it irritated me even more, because I suddenly realised how many people out there had “my” name. To this point, I even ‘rebelliously’ elected to have “another name”, something that many of my mates responded to, and a particular set of them still refer to me by that name. Nowadays I giggle at that, but it is a sweet reminder of the journey I’ve had with my own name.

As an adult, I like my name. The way it rounds in my mouth, and the way it shapes itself in the mouths of people who call out for me, who love me, and who I love. I now revere it, for its regal connotations are apparent to me, and it’s no longer something I shy away from. I’m proud of my name, chosen by my parents (thanks to some curtains) and it’s symbolic of their love for me. I feel the strength of it, and claim it for my own self.


I don’t expect you to accept this right now. Heck, I don’t even expect you to experience this journey right now. You have your own journey to traverse with your name. You have a whole lifetime to experience with this name. How you choose to define, or not define yourself in line with your name, is something only you can do. You can change it one day, if you like. You can elect another name and use it, try it on for size and then try another one if you like. I did it, and so can you.

Coming Home

I came home to my name when I was ready. Nowadays, I do define myself by my name, but that’s the very unique definition I’ve carved for myself, that’s remarkably different to the ones the world seems to have created. I’ll support you in every definition you choose, and every single one you ditch.

This is your journey, darling. Your name, your definition. Don’t worry your head about someone who can’t find anything wrong with you, so he has to pick on your name.


Shallow Breathing and Big Words

Dear Darling,

I’m scared. I know I like you to think that nothing much scares me (and truth is, not much does), but there is something that absolutely petrifies me…

It’s the times where there’s a gap in our conversation. When there’s things that get unsaid, and there’s something on your mind that you feel you can’t share. When those quiet moments hit, my motherhood flips into overdrive, as I relentlessly try to figure out what it is you’re thinking about. It was a lot easier to do this when you were a toddler or cherubic, enthusiastic preschooler. You didn’t shut up, once, during that time. You talked, nonstop, from the moment you woke up…and sometimes carried on even when your eyes were closed.


As you’ve grown up, you’ve become quieter. This isn’t a concern – it’s normal, as you create your own inner world. This is a good thing, I endorse it. The realm of words and inner thought became a safety net for me in the world, and it served me well. Your gran used to call it a fortress, and she was right.

But this letter isn’t about the gaps or the silences. It’s about the things you weigh your words down with, before you speak them to me. These things are sometimes saddled in a fear of disappointing me, or of hurting me, because I’ve upset you. I want to give you these ten rules to follow, when you think something is or should be weighed down by those thoughts or words. These can be our system – you know how we have that system where I help you study? This is a system like that, and just like we’ve totally cracked the studying system together, and by sticking to it, we get through everything? We can crack and apply this one too.  Please tell me if you have anything to add.

1. Nothing, absolutely nothing at all could lead me to be disappointed in you. Your existence on this Earth is the greatest gift of all time. You could fail at school, dance the macarena in a chicken outfit, or get arrested for shoplifting, or anything at all. Whatever it is, ever, I will be right there by your side. The circumstances of it do not matter at all to me, and never will, when your safety and the light in your eyes is in danger.

2. If it’s 3am and you think you would rather not bug me, wake me up, whatever… Wake me up. I would rather lose a night of sleep than anything else. I’ve been losing sleep for years, another night of none of it isn’t going to break me. Nothing like that can.

3. You can tell me absolutely anything, and I’m not going to judge you. You might think those are hollow words, but they’re not. You can tell me that you’d like to give up on humanity and become a swan, and I’ll support it. Wholeheartedly. Will even get you a swan outfit…I know a guy, okay?

4. If something needs to be fixed and you don’t know how to fix it, hand it all over to me. My hands are older and have fixed many screwups over time. Many. So many I can’t even count them anymore, and most of them were created by me. Let me help you fix things. Hand it to me and we’ll get on it.

5. Remember when I told you, at about the age of 4, that worrying was my job, and your job was to be a kid? This is still true. Let me worry about money, madness and whatever there is to worry about. If there’s something to worry about, put it on my to do list. I’ve got all the space in the world for that. You focus on that whole life of yours. You know how we remind each other of which team we’re on? Yep. I’m on your team, no matter what. Always.

6. Something crushingly embarrassing happened today at school. Tell me. Listen, you’re talking to the girl who used to wet her pants in class. No, not preschool. Primary school. Yes, in like maths class. Yes, it was fractions. I’ve done the embarrassing stuff. We can handle it together. I’ve got zero shame on this stuff.

7. When you think someone is better than you, you’re being shoved into a ‘comparison’ thought frame. Comparison, some say, is the thief of joy. We’re not into comparing. Why? Because your emergence into this world was a unique and presiding moment, as is every other moment in your life since then. Nobody else lives them, except you. So don’t you fret about how your moment is different/lesser/better than someone else’s. It’s not. It’s yours. If you need a reminder, I’ve got many at the ready for you.

8. Absolutely nothing – deadlines, work, meetings, the dog, domestic tasks, other people, geographical distance, anything – can get in my way when you say the words:

“I need you”.
Nothing. At. All. Say them and I will be there.

9. This is something I don’t admit to many people, but I will today. There was a time in my life (many years ago, long before your life began) when I thought it was all crap, and I didn’t really want to continue. Everything seemed absolutely insurmountable, and I thought that quitting the game would be far easier than trying to level up. But I levelled up, and have continued to level up ever since. How did I do this? I did this because someone and a particular set of circumstances forced me into opening up and sharing the things I was too scared to share, that sat in my head and weighed down all of my words. The moment I let those things go, they no longer weighed down my words. Maybe that’s the flight of them, and maybe I had to learn to let them go. Whatever you do, no matter what, remember that the things that weigh you down are not too heavy to be lifted. You are not duty bound to lift them alone. Nobody actually is – even the strongest person on the planet gets some help sometimes. There’s no shame in it, it’s just what people do.

10. You are infinitely loved. Even when you think you are unloveable. If you need a reminder, refer to point 8 and I will remind you.


Ten For Ten.

Sweet child, the idea that you are turning ten leaves me breathless. Every parent says it, but it’s so true for me – I blinked and suddenly you’d morphed from mewling infant into this tall, assured and graceful girl before me.

Here are ten things I want you to know, on your tenth birthday:

1. My admiration for you goes deeper than the roots of the world’s oldest tree.
I say admiration for a reason, because you actively inspire me, every single day. You are not scared to feel scared, and you are not afraid to conquer. You teach me about getting back up again, when you feel knocked down.

2. Your spirit is tenacious.
As a toddler, you danced in the leaves outside your gran’s house, and that dance has not stopped. You do not stop dancing, no matter what song the world is singing. You love music, so don’t stop sharing the music you love with me, and I will not stop showing you the music I love. We find a common ground there that I know is, and will always be, important for both of us.

3. You have an incredible way of handling people.
You’re perceptive, but not intrusive. You have an instinctual way of figuring someone out and going with it. Even the people I battle to read, you just know how to handle. Please remember this skill, all through your life. It will stand you in good stead, as you begin to pick and choose the people you spend time with.

4. You have faced so very much in ten years.
Far more than you and I even want to consider right now, because we’ll end up having a tearful laugh and going to make tea, rather than facing it all again. Let those things you put behind you, stay behind you. You are under no obligation to live with the ghosts of your past, at any time. You do not need to look back – you are not going that way.

5. You can and will laugh at your fears. 
Do you remember those nights when it would storm, and you’d wake up, we’d watch Noddy DVDs and laugh at the thunder? Those nights live in my heart like a flower reaching up for the sunshine. Your cheerful face at 2am, even when you were frightened by all the noise, helped me get past a big fear of mine – storms. You taught me how to brave through them, and you’ve never even known how much they scared me. Spoiler alert – I used to wail and weep like a kid who’d lost their ice-cream every time one hit. You just see storms as an opportunity to have fun and laugh at the sky. Thank you.

6. We are a team.
Both feet in, no judgies, no backsies and no questions. When you were three, you suddenly went from being someone I had to care for, to being my teammate. It’s been like that since, even as our family has morphed into a far bigger team. You are an unquestioning ally, and I am yours. I want us to remain as thick as thieves like this, forever. Yes, that includes yelling “Girls Night” when we want to, and ignoring the world while we cuddle up for movies and popcorn. This is team building. This is what a team does.

7. You’re on the precipice of your teenage years.
Please be nothing like me, and everything like me. I know that might not make sense right now, but I want you to know that it is an incredible journey. The most intense adventures await you, but the biggest one will be the one you take within yourself. This is when that great adventure – the biggest one of your life – truly begins. During the next ten years of your life, you will probably fall in love, discover – at least – one thing that makes your heart sing, and you will begin to form your place in the world. Hold strong to the place you find here, for it will lay the pathway to the next ten, twenty and all the other years.

8. You are your own person, without question.  
When you were four, I asked you to pass me something, and, because you were “reading” you looked up at me and said “I’m busy. Please do it yourself. Stop wasting my reading time”. Cheeky, perhaps, but it showed me how you are not afraid to give people their marching orders when required. Never be afraid to cut people off when they are wasting your time. Do not lose this skill (and yes, I know, you learnt all those lines from me). It is something I wish I had learnt earlier.

9. Please be patient with my mom heart. 
I will never again hear the toddler words like “badum” or “ixbah” erupt from your mouth, for your vocabulary is now beautifully forming and your knowledge base expanding at a rate I battle to catch up with. You no longer have that childlike lisp, and you’re carving words into your tree of life. Please allow me to regale people and bore you with these stories of toddler words and the times you made me laugh – they are jewels embedded in my heart, but you can berate me about sharing them when you need to.

10. You are kind. Do not let the world change you.
And the tenth thing. This is the hard one. You are a kind, generous and sweet soul. Over the next ten years, someone or something, or a situation, or whatever, will hurt you, either intentionally or not. Please, whatever it is, come immediately to me. Heck, even if it is something I do. Yell, cry, scream and release it. Give it to me to handle, with you. I will carry the whole thing for you if you need me to. I will do everything I can to protect you from any harm, but life will have its way at some point. You will not face it alone. Ever. I am your mother, even on my absolute worst days, and nothing and nobody can stop me from that. The family tree we swing from is a mighty, mighty oak. We are born from a long line of very loud lioness women, you and I. We roar together and never alone.

Happy tenth birthday, child of my heart.
You are always the greatest surprise of my life, and the joy of my every day.
Thank you for choosing me to be your mama.

There Are Seasons…And Then Some.

I’ve been an awful blogger, I know. I’ve actually been an all round awful a lot of things but I’m not logging this post to beat myself up or make you sit through yet another boring self-directed tirade over something  that won’t matter in ten years’ time. So, sorry. Here I am, and I have a clanger.

My kid. Well, I’m battling to call her a kid nowadays. She’s nearly as tall as I am, she vets my online writing, wavering between being excited for me to relate a story she is part of and… banning me from ever mentioning her, at all. Like ever. So my relating part…the thing you got to know me with? That’s a bit quieter now. There are fewer fine details I’m putting out there online and, really, that’s not a bad thing. Heck, I wrote about how that would happen in 2011, it was already happening then, it’s much sharper now. But, actually,  if you follow me on Twitter, you probably know more about what goes through my head 24/7 than anyone else ever will. Again, sorry. Man I love that space.

Okay, okay, back to my point. Between racing from deadline to deadline, I’m mentally writing something that’s been sitting in my head since about a month ago. I’ve noticed an interesting parallel that I’d like to explore. It is the seasons.

This sprang from another day of sitting at my computer, and watching my daughter do her homework, while the dog bounces around between our legs and I try so hard to hold on to the moment, because really, there’s nothing else to life. Pretty soon she won’t want or need me to help her figure out 47 x 3 and, mentally this is playing in my head all day, every day. 

So, mix in a large ladleful of internal beating-self-up because I missed an important school event  (but made it to the other one…) and I have to seriously forgive myself.

But, back to my point and parallel:


When a baby is born, all pink and cute…they’re like Spring. As they grow and their little life flowers bloom, stretching up to the sun, that’s when their world is all colour and growth.


Then kids hit Summer and they start becoming themselves. They learn the bright colours that suit them best, and they grasp what they shine at. This, I’d reckon is much like the school days, that are filled with exploration and friendships, fun times and sweltering under the humidity of acing exams.


And just as the leaves start to crunch beneath our feet, and we dig out our favourite cardigan, Autumn hits. This is when children become adults, as they begin to look more internally for their meaning – heck, that question of “what do I want to be when I grow up?” plagued us all in our early 20s. But just as Autumn sees us heading indoors for warm soup and toast, it’s also the time when we build and reinforce ourselves, our homes, for winter. We celebrate by throwing those crunchy leaves into the air and laughing. We rush inside before the rains get too mad, stopping for a little to jump in a puddle.


Yet, there is Winter. The time when we are cuddled up and contemplative. Having built the foundations for our life, we take our time with it. We amble along for afternoon walks and take pleasure in our tea breaks. We’re busy keeping warm and enjoying my favourite life treat – the tingle of winter sunshine my hometown is so known and loved for.

Right now, my daughter is in her Summer. She is all colour and growth, excitement and warm evenings under a twinkling sky. I feel like Summer came too quickly but, all she’s ever wanted to do is grow up, so I had to let it happen (I am, of course, fooling. Parents don’t get any choice over growing up – trust me, we know this).

While I may feel like the time is slipping by, and the seasons come too quickly at us, just as Spring seems to have zoomed the heck on by… I love this season. The parts where I catch the early morning sunshine of her telling me about her dream over cereal and the long evenings where she asks 85 million questions. And while I may not catch every sunrise, every time she smiles (I wish I could), I know her summer sun rises, every day.

And that’s why. Right there. I’m finished beating myself up today.

On Being Educated by My Kid

It’s a common enough thought that our children teach their parents more than parents actually teach their kids. I have to say that this is one truism that rings in my ears every day of our life.

Yes, my daughter has taught me more than I ever expected but, as she gets bigger and taller, I realise that this experience of being taught, rather than of being the teacher, is playing an even bigger role now. 

We live in a house of gadgets and gizmos. Being the type of family we are, the work we do and the hobbies we keep, we are great fans of getting a gadget to play with. Occasionally, I review items (and fall completely in love with them) but the ones we own for ourselves…sometimes take some getting used to.

Case in point – our television. This gargantuan screen has perplexed me since the day it arrived. Why? Because it takes ten years, a chicken dance and an appropriate sacrifice to the requisite television deity to turn it on. Note too, it does not have a simple on/off switch – it must be switched on using the very large remote.

So, every morning, for the past nearly 3 years that we’ve owned it, I have stood there, mumbling at it, furiously pressing the power button to get the screen to blaze its technicolour wonders at us. I could not understand why it always seemed to work for my kid so easily, yet – for me – seemed to be some kind of technological wizardry. 

Except, last week, when she looked at me quizzically and said:

“Mom, are you turning it on the right way?”

I snapped back: “Yes, of course. Do I look stupid?”

Which was when she gently took the remote out of my hand, pointed to the other button on the remote, swung the remote in the direction of the gargantuan screen, clicked it and…

Did you know? Our television can turn on in less than 3 seconds? 

All it took was a different button.