Time To Be Brave And Make Things Happen….

I started writing a blog 8 weeks ago. Here are a few things I have learnt in that time, about myself, blogging and life in general.

The last 2 months have been an extraordinary personal journey of discovery for me. Yes, I started writing a blog, but that’s just one part of it. Something changed, I’m still not sure quite what, but it is good. I have stopped looking at other people and thinking “I’d like to do that” or “I’d like to be more like that”. I’m trying to make positive things happen for me by being proactive and brave. It’s slow progress but there is progress and that’s the only thing that matters.

I feel like this is my time to figure out what I want to be when I grow up…..

Things I have learnt about blogging in the last 8 weeks:

The blogging community is full of lovely people. You’d think people would be cliquey and possessive of their space, a space that as a newbie I just invaded. But they’re not. There are millions of blogs out there, which makes it feel like an uphill battle but everyone is very welcoming and supportive, it’s a great place to hang out.

You could spend all day on Twitter, I mean ALL DAY. Tweeting, retweeting, sharing, liking, linking, it’s exhausting!!! I have a day job so obviously I don’t do this ALL DAY but it’s key to marketing your blog and trying to get your voice heard. As a Marketer myself, I would say just spend the time you do have wisely, in areas where you know you can connect with people in your target audience. Ooh, look at me, giving out advice at just 8 weeks in…….. *rolls eyes*

Looking around you is good. My most favourite thing so far to come out of writing a blog is that it has forced me to stop and look around. I need to figure out what to say each week, so I do research but mostly it’s observational. I have started to put down my phone, turn off my music and watch the world. Watch people (not in a weird way), listen to conversations, notice things around me. It’s honestly wonderful, I highly recommend it. In the words of Ferris Bueller (…. I love this movie)

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Things I have learnt about myself in the last 8 weeks:

I love writing, I mean I LOVE it. I can’t believe that I discovered something new (out of nowhere) that I love doing. I encourage you all to try something new, anything, get out of your comfort zone. Do it and do it now. If that’s not enough encouragement for you then check out the Shia Labeouf video at the bottom of this piece (well I want you to read the rest don’t I). It’s not only hilarious but it might be just what you need right now!

A good opportunity came my way last week, an opportunity that wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t of put myself out there and taken a leap of faith 8 weeks ago.

My inner monologue is VERY loud. Jesus, I thought writing stuff down would help but I think it’s made it worse! I do wish I’d pipe down sometimes. It’s got so bad that occasionally I can’t remember if I’ve had an ‘out loud’ conversation with an actual person or if it’s just the voices in my head.

….Wait

….Who said that?

Things I have learnt about life in general in the last 8 weeks:

If you don’t ask you don’t get. An old one but so true. This is about confidence and seizing the moment, something I’m trying to do much more these days. If you want some help or you think there might be an opportunity for you somewhere, go and ask about it. The worst thing the person can say is no. Then you’re no worse off than you were before.

I asked two friends this week to help me with some things for this blog, things that will take them some time to complete. They both accepted enthusiastically and were pleased that I came to them (for which I am hugely grateful). Me from a few months ago would not have asked this question, I would have felt like I was putting them out and asking too much. They are both very talented in their fields so this would have been a massive missed opportunity for me.

‘Winging It’ (to start with anyway) is totally ok. People think that just because you write stuff down and publish it, you must know what you’re doing and be a really confident person. I am not confident about writing at all but I keep going because a few months or more down the line I envision this changing. I’ve learnt that appearing confident is a big step towards actually feeling it. I’m also learning something new every day at the moment, which is exciting and massively rewarding. How many of you can say the same thing? When was the last time you learnt something new?

Know your priorities. Writing about my own journey & thinking about the future has reinforced for me that family is the most important thing, don’t ever lose sight of that, whatever crossroad you come to.

Last few (random) learnings:

Donald Trump needs to shut the f*ck up.

The song I have been joyfully singing along to for weeks now – “Angels On My Side” is Rick Astley!!! I literally had no idea until the other day! #HowDidIMissThat?

Oh and don’t eat yellow snow (but everyone knows that, right?)

Much Love xxx

Thank you to Dan @Don’t Believe The Hype for getting all Shia Labeouf on my ass and telling me to JUST DO IT.

Amazingly brilliant – Shia Labeouf JUST DO IT video

 
 

Mummuddlingthrough

 

Run Jump Scrap!

 

3 Little Buttons

 

Pink Pear Bear

A Song For My Rubbish Week

This Is The Story Of My Week With A Sick Baby – Via The Medium Of Song

My 1-year-old son has been ill for over a week, the poor little fella. So I haven’t had much time to think about writing and anyway my week has been so full of rubbishness, what would I say that would be of any interest?

I thought on it for a little bit and in a moment of silliness & an effort to make the week sound slightly less dull than it actually has been, I have decided to deliver this piece via the medium of song……..

Oh come on………just work with me people, it’ll be fun.

To the tune of ‘Ten Green Bottles’.

I’ll give you a minute, this is going to require a little work on your part……..
.
.
Got it? Yes? OK, let’s go

10 Google searches – what’s that on the baby’s nose? 10 Google searches – what’s that on the baby’s nose? Have you really learnt nothing, you NEVER self-diagnose. 10 Google searches – what’s that on the baby’s nose?

9 temperature checks today, my new thermometer is divine. 9 temperature checks today, my new thermometer is divine. God, what do I think’s gonna happen, in this short amount of time? 9 temperature checks today, my new thermometer is divine.

8 times I’ve tried to shower, I just want to be clean. 8 times I’ve tried to shower, I just want to be clean. The sick baby wants to cuddle, putting him down seems kinda mean. 8 times I’ve tried to shower, I just want to be clean.

7 nights of broken sleep, my mind is so unclear. 7 nights of broken sleep, my mind is so unclear. I’m starting to really feel it, seriously, someone bring me beer. 7 nights of broken sleep, my mind is so unclear.

6 loads of dirty washing, yes this job is mine. 6 loads of dirty washing, yes this job is mine. We’ll just turn our pants inside out, it’ll be totally fine. 6 loads of dirty washing, yes this job is mine.

5 days since the baby’s, done any kind of poo, 5 days since the baby’s, done any kind of poo. Constipation can be such a b*tch, I honestly need one too. 5 days since the baby’s, done any kind of poo.

4 trips to the Doctor, in just as many days, 4 trips to the Doctor, in just as many days. I know the receptionist by her first name, think she wishes I’d go away. 4 trips to the Doctor, in just as many days.

3 days off work with baby, I wonder what I’ve missed? 3 days off work with baby, I wonder what I’ve missed? I’ve just returned from a year off, they’ll think I’m taking the piss. 3 days off work with baby, I wonder what I’ve missed?

2 empty bottles of Calpol sitting on the side, 2 empty bottles of Calpol sitting on the side. Have I overdosed the baby, I really can’t decide? 2 empty bottles of Calpol sitting on the side.

1 attention deprived 4-year-old in a moany grump, 1 attention deprived 4-year-old in a moany grump. The baby’s getting all the attention, so she’s got the massive hump.1 attention-deprived 4-year-old in a moany grump.

So there it is….

And now, you will be humming that tune for the rest of the day……

My pleasure xxx

 
 

3 Little Buttons

 
 

Mummuddlingthrough

Mr and Mrs T Plus Three

Rhyming with Wine

To My Younger Self – Everything is not always as it seems….

When I was younger, much younger, early 20’s say. I used to look at Mums with young children walking down the road, mostly in horror.

It just looked an awful thing, the Mum always looked harassed, tired and unkempt. It didn’t look enjoyable at all, in fact, it looked miserable.

I made up my mind then that I didn’t ever want to be that person (I know, I know….)

*10 year’s pass*……..

Now that I have unavoidably been that person and still am now (thankfully slightly less tired & unkempt) to a toddler and a nearly-at-schooler, I naturally feel quite differently about the scenario.

I know these people now, we are in the same big tribe. I know we shouldn’t feel bad, embarrassed or sorry for them because the majority of them are ok (most of the time). They’re OK with sometimes looking a bit ropey, not having time to brush their hair or the mental ability to coordinate their clothes. Because they managed to get their sh*t together enough to leave the house this morning and get fresh air, they managed to pick up a few bits from the shop and they managed to deliver an older sibling to school on time. I now know how much of a big deal this is and that levels of achievement and measures of success are set only by you and vary greatly depending on where you are in your life.

And although back then, I walked around the corner thanking the Lord I wasn’t them and their life wasn’t mine, when I turned my back, I now know what I missed:

  • I missed the mum with the newborn, leaning into the pram and smiling adoringly at her peacefully sleeping baby (finally). She still can’t believe that she created this whole new person, nurtured them and brought them into the world. And although she cannot find the words to tell you how tired she is, she also cannot describe how much in love she is with this tiny human being. A love like she has never felt before.
  • I missed the mum with the toddler, who after having a meltdown in the middle of the street about wearing socks, took his Mums’ hand and started to sing. They sing Twinkle Twinkle together as they walk down the road and they don’t care who hears them. They do the diamond shape with their fingers and giggle at each other. Her annoyance about the irrational sock incident has melted away.
  • I missed the mum dropping her daughter off at the school gates. Who catches sight of a friendly smile through the crowd and although the friend has to get to work, she stays for 5 minutes to chat because she knows that 5 minutes of adult conversation is what her friend needs today. A caring and encouraging embrace means more than any on-looker could imagine.

For my younger self and other onlookers, these moments, these small moments, that often go unseen, are enough to get her through the day. Enough to power her to bedtime when she can finally have half an hour to herself.

I’m not implying that Motherhood is some kind of idyllic fairytale and your children look like they stepped out of a Benetton catalogue, because quite clearly it’s not.

Motherhood is messy, smelly, relentless, frustrating and tiring. It doesn’t care that you put on nice clothes this morning and now they are covered in unmentionable gunk or that everything you had on your To-Do List for the day has gone to sh*t by 11am.

BUT, it is also full of love, cuddles, pride and laughter. It can draw a day-rescuing smile at any unexpected moment and the strength of love you feel as a parent is really quite extraordinary. A love that can forgive the most ridiculous of misdemeanor in a second, can increase your embarrassment threshold to level – ‘Unbelievable’ (the equivalent of – ‘Bearly Acceptable’ to normal people) and a love that means, on most occasions, there is just enough good in every day to get you to the end and then recharge, before you have to do it all over again!

 
 

The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback

 

 

Mummuddlingthrough

The World According To A 4-Year-Old

Four recent conversations I have had with my daughter that made me laugh out loud. All true, you can’t make this stuff up people.

For ease, I’m going to abbreviate our first names. D is my Daughter and M is me.

1) England V’s Turkey Euro 2016 Friendly Game
We watch quite a lot of football in our house so D likes to know which team we want to win the game.

D: Mummy, which team do we want to win?
M: The team in white, that’s England, the country we live in. We want them to win. The other team, in black, that’s Turkey, who we don’t want to win.
D: OK Mummy, we are England. so we don’t like the blacks?
M (in my head only): OMFG! Please please please don’t go to nursery or anywhere else for that matter and recall any part of this conversation…….EVER

2) A Pre-Bed Discussion On The Size Of Our Hands
When D was a tiny baby everybody commented on how long her fingers were.

D: Mummy my hands are much more little than yours
M: Yes but don’t you still have long fingers? Everyone used to comment on that when you were a baby. You’re definitely going to be a Pianist or something like that sweetheart
D: A penis Mummy?
M: *I laugh* way more than is appropriate for this conversation,  with a 4-year-old
M (in my head only): Sh*t where do I go from here? Why am I so childish and had to laugh at the word penis. Dammit! A mature adult would have just corrected the child and that would have been the end of that
D: Mummy, what’s a penis?
M (in my head only): FFS just stop laughing
M: You misheard Mummy darling, I said Pianist,  that’s someone who plays the piano
D: P..P..P..P penis penis
M: OMG, bed, now!
My husband catches the end of this discussion as we go up the stairs.  To which I have to later shamefully admit that yes at 36 and 3/4’s I laughed at the word penis.

3) A Bedtime Chat About The Death Of One Of Our Cats
Our cat, Lola, had recently died, she was 18 and very ill. We had been talking about this quite a bit with my daughter, death is a tricky subject with an only just 4-year-old. My husband and I were both naturally quite upset but to be honest, D had never shown that much interest in either of our cats and didn’t seem to have an emotional attachment to them.

D: I really miss Lola Mummy
M: Yes sweetheart, so do I
D:*she leans into me* She went to the vet with Daddy because she was very sick and now she’s not coming back
M: That’s right baby, we won’t see her again, which is very sad but we have lots of happy memories of her
D:*she smiles forlornly and cuddles me*
I remember feeling like we were having a real moment, I thought about Lola whilst I hugged my daughter tight, maybe she had been affected by this more than I realised? I took in the scene, the deafening silence, an air of quiet contemplation flowed through the room, as (I believed), we both thought fondly of our recently deceased pet. Then the silence was broken:

D: Mummy, can we go in a car wash?
M: Yes darling………
*I am suddenly & abruptly transported back into the room*
Wait………..?
What……….?

4) A Conversation Started By My Daughter Whilst On The Toilet
A good starting place for many a profound and important discussion.

D: Mummy, do people make people?
Now, this is a good question. Good questions from your small human are a double edged sword. You’re normally 50% delighted, even proud that they have asked something clever & interesting but 50% annoyed that you have been given no prior warning and therefore no time to prepare an answer that is either:-
a. A well-researched reply full of detail, pitched at the correct level. Making you appear wise and knowledgeable (you managed to Google it behind their back utilising tried and tested distraction techniques)
b. A version of the truth, as far as you know, you haven’t had time to Google it
c. A blatant and outrageous lie. Sometimes required to get you out of particularly tricky interrogations, where the truth is either not appropriate, not worth the effort or you have no internet connection.

M: That’s a good question D. Why are you asking, who have you been talking to about that? *Me slightly panicking about the possible responses*
D: No one Mummy, I just thought it just then
M (in my head only): Well alright, bloody clever clogs
D: So that means you and Daddy made me?
M (in my head only): Oh my, where is this going, I’m not ready for this, I thought I had another 2, maybe 4 years before we had to go down this road?
M: Er…….Yes. And then we made S (her baby brother) too
D: Ooowwww *4-year-old whiney voice* but Mummy I wanted to help make S
M (in my head only): oh God……ok, so my daughter thinks that you make a baby the same way as you make a cake. Hmmm…she is only 4, so that’s probably ok, isn’t it? I’m going to go with ok and leave it there
M: Ooh……. talking of cake, who wants a snack? (Number 1 on the list of ‘Useful Parenting Diversion Tactics’ – works EVERY time….)

These are the types of conversations that make it all worth it. That turn an ordinary Tuesday into one you remember.

It’s the speaking out without prejudice or bias. Saying exactly what’s in their head’s without considering their audience or surroundings.

The unintentional hilarity is a beautiful beautiful thing.

But like all the other stages of our children’s lives, it won’t last long, so let’s all embrace it (even if it can land us in tricky/embarrassing predicaments every now and then!)

 

Life Love and Dirty Dishes

 
  

Rhyming with Wine

 

 

Crisis In Confidence

Self-doubt can be crippling. Call on friends, you know which ones, to help you fight this battle.

This week has not been a good week. Out of 10, I’d give it a meagre 3 and 2 of those points are just for not falling over or something equally as embarrassing in my first client presentation.

After being away from my job for a whole year, coming back and just ‘getting on with it’ is actually quite hard. Lots of things have changed, the world didn’t stand still whilst I populated it with one more person. My confidence has taken a real knock. What if I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore? What if someone asks me a question I can’t answer? Can I still deliver what everyone expects whilst managing a busy family life as well?

And then I thought about this blog. Should I carry on writing? It actually takes quite a lot of effort and therefore time. It’s not like it’s been a lifelong passion that I’m finally living out or anything like that. This just happened, I started writing 6 weeks ago, having not ever previously considered it. So I could just let it disappear into nothing, as quickly as it arrived.

Urgghh, but something inside me doesn’t want to let go of it, like a child with a new toy. Mine, mine, mine MINE! Back off self-doubt.

It has ignited something in me that I didn’t know existed. It gives me a real buzz, much like photography does. For me, photography is about capturing a moment, which means anyone can do it, on any kind of equipment. But when you get that shot, the shot that tells the exact story you want it to, it’s just an immense feeling. And to my utter surprise, this is how I’m also feeling about writing.

I’m not winning a Pulitzer prize for my photography anytime soon and it’s the equivalent with words. I know my writing is not ‘technically’ good, as I use an online editing tool that insists on frequently telling me so. It says things like:-

6 of your 20 sentences are hard to read

2 of your 20 sentences are very hard to read

6 adverbs, aim for 5 of fewer

I don’t know what to do with that? I will endeavour to learn of course. I want to be better but I also don’t want to stop whilst that process happens.

Another reason I don’t want to stop despite the aforementioned disapproval is that I remembered something a client said to me about 2 years ago. He said, “You’re funny Michelle because you write emails exactly the same way as you talk”. I think he meant I am informal and I will often, for people I know well, forgo any kind of greeting and get straight to the point. Unlike my Dad for example, who still starts every email to me with ‘Dear Michelle’. And then precedes to send me a text message to tell me he has sent me an email (which makes me smile, every time). Sorry, I digress……

The point of bringing that up is because it’s exactly what my blog is, it’s just me talking, I am starting a conversation here. This is just me, talking to just you and that’s what I like about it. This isn’t fictional writing where I’m trying to create a new universe for you to immerse yourself in and forget about normality. It’s quite the opposite in fact. This is just normal life. I want to write about things that people can actually relate to because real life provokes real emotions.

Whilst it’s not perfect, (I am quite self-aware, don’t worry) if we were having a face to face conversation I’m not going to stop half way through to Google synonyms to make myself sound clever am I? So I won’t here either. This is as clever as it’s going to get people!

I spoke to a good friend in the week whilst wading knee-deep through self-doubt. The kind of friend that you don’t talk to really regularly but when you do they give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside. We have the type of conversations that are worth waiting for.

He told me to “get out of my own way”….What a brilliant analogy, I am banking that for later use.

It’s a good point though and I do need to be told occasionally. Because it’s true isn’t it, sometimes you are the only person stopping yourself.

So for now, I am giving Michelle a swift elbow to the ribs. I am re-reading some of the positive comments I have had so far as they are affording me just enough momentum and confidence to carrying on.

Stay with me…….?

 

 

 

My Double Life….

A little look at the double life of a Mummy and the person she used to be.

For the past 4 year’s I have been living a slightly crazy, incredibly busy but very enjoyable double life, in my two world’s, as I like to call them.

In one of these worlds I am known as Mummy and in the other I am known as Michelle.

Many of you will be in the exact same position, juggling a work and a home life, so you will know what I mean and maybe feel the same (are we over-analysing?). Some of you may not think about it much, (I know, you’re busy) and some of you may not even really be consciously aware of it (wow, you’re super busy).

Well, I have been pondering this for the past couple of weeks now, as I have recently returned to work after a year’s maternity leave with my second child. In this past year’s scenario, my Mummy world has been the dominant force, my main focus being nurturing The Boy through his first year, from newborn to adorable whirlwind. So Michelle has had to take a back seat. Now it’s back to work and it’s more like 50/50 or maybe 60/40, in Michelle’s favour.

Here are some thoughts and observations on the subject. I’m going to talk about myself(s) in the 3rd person here, as it works better, just go with it for now.

In this double life, I am obviously just one physical person. Wow, just imagine if there were two of me, the housework…. (I mean amazing things) I could achieve. Anyway, many elements of these two manifestations of myself are similar. For example, Mummy and Michelle live in the same house, have 1 husband and 2 children etc…

But at the same time, many things are different. For example physical tangible things like clothing and accessories.

Also intangible elements like language, the way I act and the way I approach a task.

Then there are ‘cross-over elements’ (are you still with me?). Ok here goes….

Michelle wears makeup and gets to spend a small amount of time thinking about her appearance. Mummy doesn’t know where the makeup is kept and in any case when would she apply this exactly? If you think she should maybe get up a few minutes earlier to squeeze this in, then I don’t think we can be friends. EVERY SECOND OF SLEEP COUNTS….

I know some women would wince at this, it’s not that Mummy doesn’t care about appearance, it’s more about knowing your audience and makeup comes under category – ‘non-essential’.

Mummy has her clothes and so does Michelle, there are some cross-over items here, the odd cardy or pair of jeans but I do feel it’s important to be quite strict in this area. Whilst Mummy can borrow a smart item if the occasion arises, Michelle cannot, for example, go to work in a Mummy item. The holes, the stretches, the sticky food marks, the snot, oh it just doesn’t bear thinking about. For Michelle, the most important thing is that her clothing is protected, at all costs. By this, I’m referring to times like that difficult hour before leaving for work. She is dressed as Michelle but very much in Mummy territory. Here, she is behind enemy lines, constantly under fire and alone. Those little sticky hands and snotty faces are everywhere, she must act quickly to protect herself. Just imagine a scenario where she was hit by enemy artillery fire and perhaps in the carnage didn’t notice and turned up to work (where the young immaculate people are) with vomit or toothpaste slime on her shoulder. Mortifying. Just mortifying. I have taken to wearing a coverall (an old pyjama top) over my work clothes, which seems to be doing the trick.

Michelle runs. She runs to keep fit and feel good and for a bit of her own space and thinking time. Mummy also runs but much shorter distances. From the lounge to the kitchen to get snacks maybe or upstairs to pee, rushing frantically back to check a child hasn’t, in that short time, managed to mortally wound themselves.

Language is something many of us modify depending on who we are with and this situation is no different. Mummy uses phrases like ‘poo poo’ & and ‘dum-dums’ and every morning shouts things like ‘SHOES’ and ‘TEETH’, and although these one syllable outbursts are generally not required in Michelle Land I feel that potentially at work they might actually provoke a more proactive response!
Mummy obviously doesn’t use bad language and is very proficient now at the “oh for …..sake” and the “sh sh sh sugar”. But ****ing hell Michelle likes to swear, a lot. I know, it’s not big and it’s not clever but boy does it make me feel good, pretty much always. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a disease, probably contagious? I wonder how many people I have infected? Luckily, I am surrounded by fellow (mostly incurable) sufferers like myself, which is comforting.

Mummy gets to occasionally (very occasionally) feel like a Superhero. You know the days where you beat the washing, everyone eats what you serve and you manage to arrive places on time.

Michelle gets to have conversations, I mean actual full conversations where you don’t have to leave half way through without even apologising.

Mummy gets to sing silly song’s and dance whilst walking around the supermarket. Yes, this behaviour is quite unbelievably totally acceptable if you have young children with you. Also very liberating, try it, it’s brilliant!

Michelle gets to pee alone.

Mummy, if given an hour whilst the baby sleeps, turns into a super-fast ninja warrior. The sheer volume of output that can be achieved within this minuscule 1-hour time-frame would blow the minds of most mere mortals. She could just sit and drink tea but she doesn’t. It’s one of those unwritten rules and would bring great shame on her people.

Michelle gets to finish ALL of her meal should she wish to. Not having to sacrifice any part of it (normally the best part) to small scavengers that 5 minutes ago couldn’t possibly manage even one more pea.

Mummy gets to spend time with 2 wonderful little people, watching on in amazement at every tiny & ordinary thing they do.

Finding the ideal balance between these two worlds is a constant challenge. Occasionally I yearn for more of Michelle, a brief reminder of the life I used to live before I had to share it with Mummy.

Mummy feels the pressure of guilt, for working and not being there 24/7 for her children.

But I can honestly say, in the grand scheme, it’s nice to have variation in my life and to be different things to different people. And the rewards, in both worlds, on a good day, are plentiful.

 

The Boy Who Rocked The Boat….

The story of my son joining our little world and filling it with smiles.

This boy, the boy in the photograph, the chubby-cheeked handsome little fella is my son. And he is 1 year old today. I am thinking about him a lot today, so let me tell you some things about when we met and our first year together.

This last year, this last wonderful year was the fastest in living memory! I really must go back and check that 365 whole actual days past because it sure doesn’t feel like it!! My daughter, now 4, seemed to be a tiny baby forever and the memories of that really linger even now but with him he was little for what seems like a few weeks and the images in my mind are so vague already. That’s the thing isn’t it with second or subsequent children, you’re so busy keeping all the cogs of life turning that time just disappears, alarmingly quickly. I am very conscious of this now, so I try to stop and take in moments as often as possible, you should do too. And I love photography so I try and capture our lives in still-frame when I can, showcasing our journey on the walls of our house. I love catching a cheeky grin from a frame in the corner of my eye as I rush down the stairs with the 3rd load of washing.

I am not with my son today as I am back at work, which makes me sad. I think about how he arrived into this world, as all mothers do, on more occasions than they’re probably comfortable admitting. Carrying a baby and bringing them into the world is one of those things that just cannot be understood by those who haven’t done it (sorry but it can’t!) It is physically and mentally life changing and stays with you always. Today I look back and I smile as I think of the mad dash to the hospital (with a 3-year-old in tow, reprimanding me for facing the wrong way in the passenger seat of the car and not wearing a seatbelt!). I thank whoever you should thank for the 1-hour 50-minute labour/birth experience, compared to the previous 32-hour epic marathon. And then I remember seeing him for the first time, bringing him close to me and this time it was like the movies (as I wasn’t a dribbling mess from being in labour for nearly 2 days) I couldn’t believe how perfect he was and how my heart just ached with love.

When I found out our second baby would be a boy I am not too proud or ashamed to admit that I was mostly completely terrified. A boy, what do I do with a boy? Our family is massively female dominated, ‘Girls Rule OK!’ I would be bringing an alien being into our lives. Well OK, a human baby but not one like me or my daughter. I felt very out of my comfort zone. Don’t they just run around roaring and using inanimate objects as weapons? What about drawing and doing stickers? What about sitting in restaurants with Mummy and Daddy having a nice meal, how the hell is this all going to work? Isn’t he going to rock the boat and unbalance the delicate equilibrium of our little family of 3? My husband and I had dedicated the last 3 years of lives to our daughter, everything we did revolved around her and we loved her to every corner of both our hearts, so how on earth would it be possible to love another small human the same amount? Where would that love come from? We were both phased by this, it just didn’t seem possible.

Hah! These thoughts make me laugh now. Yes, he rocked the boat and gatecrashed our world but in the most wonderful way possible.

Because my boy is just the loveliest little thing and has always been a very happy, smiley and content baby. My year off work with him and getting to spend more time with my daughter too was sort of life-changing really and has helped me to redefine what is truly important to me. This second maternity leave experience has been very different to the first. Yes better, but not because the first time was bad but just because the second time around you are naturally better at everything, more relaxed, comfortable in your own skin and slightly less emotionally challenged shall I say! Although him being a brilliant sleeper and breastfeeder, combined with not screaming relentlessly for 2 hrs every evening really helped! The boy’s not perfect though, every nappy & clothing change is a battle, being still is not a skill he is looking to excel in anytime soon. Items of clothing are often just abandoned if not 100% essential (got to pick your battles). And he is everywhere before you blink, can’t take my eyes off this one for a second.

However you’ll be pleased to know that my son does not terrify me and I am now confident in my role as Mother to a girl and Mother to a boy. Being flexible & adaptable are top of the parenting job description, so yes I can now make playdoh princess dresses in one hand and drive a Toot Toot car with the other. And anyway I hate all the gender stereotypes. My daughter has always liked cars and trains and my son (for now) likes dolls. There are challenges ahead and some of those that I will face with my son will be different to those I face with my daughter. But I am ready, bring on your best roaring and your most imaginative fake weaponry. I’ll be at the table doing stickers….

Oh and by the way we found out what happens to the already bulging parental heart, it’s all true, it does indeed just grow and expand to whatever size is required to engulf your babies in love. How could it possibly not?

At the end of this momentous year, I want my son to know what a pleasure it has been to get to know him and I thank him for bringing more happiness than I could have imagined to all three of our lives.