Walking away

The baby will turn one next week, and she is desperate to walk. She watches her older sister running on the beach or in our street with the big kids, and her longing to join in is so palpable I can almost see it rising from the top of her little blond head like puffs of steam. She pulls herself up and stands helplessly, as what ever she wanted to take herself towards has already been spirited away by the whirlwind that is the three year old. She squawks impotently at the injustice of it all, and my heart aches for her.

But secretly I feel like I’ve been given a reprieve. Not just from the toddler bumps and scrapes that are all to come, but from the grieving that comes with saying goodbye to the baby days – the goodbye that, the moment they learn to walk, is inevitable and expedited. Read More »

Punctually challenged

It was 7.34pm on the night of my 21st birthday party and, as I fumbled chaotically around my dressing table for the right shade of lipgloss, my guests were already gathered, sipping champagne, at the venue 10 minutes away. My phone beeped. “Only you would be late for your own party.” It was my friend A (still one of my very best friends today), who – unlike me – is always on time.

Because I am – and always have been – chronically late. It’s my least favourite thing about myself. It was bad enough in my 20s when I could just about get away with it by replacing the word “chronically” with “fashionably” (although my husband, who’s been trying to rid me of this habit for well over a decade, would disagree). But as a woman in my 30s it’s far less forgivable, and as a mum, where I have actual, real-life little people depending on me for turning up on time and unflustered to where they need to be, it has become unacceptable.

So I’ve been working really hard on this character flaw and when my oldest received her first ever report card from kindergarten last week, there was a magical number in the “late column” which made me give myself a silent high five: “0”.

Here are some of the changes I’ve been making in a bid to become more punctual:Read More »

Marooned

As I sit down to write this, CNN plays in the background – Hilary Clinton has just given her concession speech, and it’s a strange day. As topsy-turvy as the world felt when I woke up this morning, my overarching thought today is, “It’s good to be back.”

Because for the last 5 weeks, our house has been a technological desert: no internet, no TV. It was an unfortunate series of events – a house move, a hurricane, a population needing to have power reinstalled (meaning our needs were rightfully low priority for the cable company) – which left us living in 1995 for over a month. We had power and hot water, a roof over our heads and all our comforts, so it felt wrong to complain – and I didn’t. But now that we’re back online I fully feel what has been missing, and it’s like coming down from a high altitude. The truth is that without internet or cable TV, I felt adrift, disconnected from the outside world – and when you live on a physical island, you find it’s preferable not to live on a metaphorical one as well.Read More »

Parenting for the future: A conversation that made me think

Through my career the thing I’ve loved most has been meeting smart, savvy women and listening to what they have to say about things they’re passionate about. I worried that when I gave up work to be a stay-at-home mum (SAHM), I’d find fewer of these conversations in my daily life. Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Because – and it seems so obvious when I say it out loud – we SAHMs had former lives. We thought about things other than establishing sleep schedules, diverting tantrums and ways to cunningly disguise vegetables (not that these things aren’t vital to our day-to-day existence!). And – through the haze – we still do. I’m so grateful for the women my new “career” as a SAHM has introduced me to. Clever, caring, funny, kind women – who are mums first, but bring so many different experiences and opinions to the table. 

One of these women is Fleur Heyworth. I love it when a conversation around a dinner table gets meaty – and at Fleur’s table, there’s no shortage of substance. A Cambridge-educated Barrister, she took a break in her career to have two children, before relaunching her working life with the UK government at the Mission in Geneva as part of the Legal, Political and Human Rights team representing the UK at the UN and International Organisations on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. She is now an Independent Consultant working with Women@theTable and the International Service for Human Rights, and has set up a website called Closing the Gap.

We recently got talking about what the future looks like for our children, and the part we as parents have to play – not just in our nuclear  families, but in the world we’re leaving for our kids to be in charge of one day. I found that the work she has done with agencies for change in Geneva have given her a wide and fascinating view of the world, and ideas to share that I believe we would all benefit from.

So I asked her to write down her thoughts after our conversation, and this is what she said…Read More »

Something wicked this way came

hur·ri·cane:

Definition: A storm with a violent wind, in particular a tropical cyclone in the Caribbean.

Origin: Mid 16th century: from Spanish huracán, probably from Taino hurakán god of the storm.

Hurricane Matthew was coming, and much the same way as I did before childbirth, I read up on the phenomenon we were about to experience. As with childbirth, I tracked its course as we counted down the days to its arrival, and made the necessary preparations. As with childbirth, the wait was agonising. And as with childbirth, nothing could have prepared me for the reality. Read More »

Autumn, you beautiful thing

My favourite season is here. And I’m missing it.

I know that, hailing from paradise, I really don’t have grounds to complain, but in the decade I’ve been living in the Northern Hemisphere this has been my favourite time of year – and now that I’m staring down the barrel of hurricane season as opposed to the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, I find I’m really missing it.

There’s just something about Autumn. The light falls differently and everything is golden. The air smells cleaner, the leaves decorate the pavements, and I always feel a calm settle on my soul: the world is no longer waiting for something to happen. In Autumn I always feel as though I’ve arrived at wherever I was rushing to be, and I’m sitting back and soaking it all in. I just love it.Read More »

Same… but different.

It’s been over two months since we hauled our lives across the world to a tropical island in the Caribbean Sea, and I feel like it’s been much longer. Perhaps because in truth we have been moving all year. Like waves, one change after another has washed over us in 2016 and now finally, with only one more house move to go in the next few weeks, I feel like the time is approaching when I might finally be able to stop paddling madly and lie back and float for a while, maybe take in the view.

When you move your life, you have to find a way to move your whole self along with it. In order to do that you adapt. You seek out the parts of yourself that will cope with the unfamiliar aspects of your new life best, and you rely on them. The landscape of who you are hasn’t changed – it just looks a bit different. You’re the same person, but you’re dusting off different parts of yourself, blowing away the cobwebs and holding them up to the light, working out how to repurpose them for this newness you’re living. It’s interesting – so I wanted to stop, take stock, and write the changes down before they become just the new normal. Read More »

Theirs

My fellow mamas of littles… When you close your eyes at night and reflect back on the day that’s just been, how often do you think to yourselves, “Yes. That went well.” Is it often? Is it every now and then? Or almost never?

A few nights ago I closed my eyes and did my usual mental audit of the day and, to my surprise, I could think of nothing that had not gone to plan. We had got up on time in the morning, everybody had eaten their breakfast (without threats or bribery), we’d had a smooth school run with no rushing to get out the door, after school we’d done some painting and colouring and then played some lego (with no requests for the iPad), the baby had napped at her designated hours, dinner had been prepared and eaten with minimal fuss, bath time had been full of squeals and giggles, milk lazily drunk before bed, and bed time had passed without incident.

What amazed me even more than this smooth sequence of events – and instantly filled me with guilt – was how seldom we have days like this.Read More »

Links I’m Loving Lately…

When I started this blog a few months ago I had to wade through all the usual hang-ups that aspiring writers are afflicted with – the nagging fear that I don’t actually have anything interesting to say; that almost four years of being a stay-at-home mum had turned my brain to mush; that writing about my life and experiences as though they were noteworthy or interesting would make me look like a total megalomaniac; that putting myself out there would be an embarrassing failure… But I wanted to start writing again so with a bit of effort (and a stern talking-to from myself), I pushed aside these feelings and dived in head first – and it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Since pressing “Publish” on my first post, the biggest surprise this blog has given me (and its loveliest gift) has been the engagement and sense of community I’ve experienced with readers and other bloggers. I started it as a personal experiment – encouraged by a friend and properly convinced when I read a sweet article on how blogging makes you a better person  (on The Champagne Supernova – now one of my favourite blogs), but it has become a part of my life I wouldn’t want to be without and I think it may have saved my sanity a bit this year.Read More »

Lessons from my Littlest

My first baby was born late at night after a horrific, 21-hour, drug-free (not my idea) labour. When she finally arrived screaming purposefully at the world and I held her for the first time, I wept as much from indescribable relief as from overwhelming love. It felt like we had already walked a long and difficult road together and we were only just beginning. After I was cleared from recovery and we took her back to the ward, her daddy kissed us both good night and we were suddenly alone – a moment I don’t think any mum ever forgets. We looked at each other and I wondered, “What next?” She knew. The dark January night folded itself around us and we both slept. Read More »