To my beautiful boy, Noah – On the Eve of your eighth birthday

As Noah Turns Eight

These letters are becoming harder to write each year, without breaking apart. Some people say that you are most emotional as a mother, when your children are babies and the moments fly by so quickly. I find each year that you turn a new age much harder. Back when you were a baby, you needed me for everything. I was the centre of your whole world. You didn’t question me. You didn’t question yourself. You didn’t need much else, other than me and my time. The older you get and with each birthday, I can see the look in your eyes… that need for more. You want more freedom. You want to experience more. You crave life and you want to explore all of the things that you are capable of, all of the things that you can do. You are trying so hard to establish your independence… You need me much less.

As Noah Turns Eight

I know that you still need me. As always, you will cuddle me and show me affection, every single day. I really am lucky for that and for you. You are and I don’t doubt always will be a loving little boy, a lovely human. But in this past year, I have noticed that when I say goodbye to you at the school gates, you have started to run ahead, happy to wave a goodbye but will gently avoid a kiss goodbye in front of your friends. This past year, you decided to ditch your book bag with the school emblem on it, opting for a backpack which you tell me is much cooler. You’ve started to use wax in your hair some days and you care about which clothes you wear too. You know how to fix a puncture and you’ve recently learned how to cook an egg on a cooker made out of baked bean tins.

As Noah Turns Eight

You are not a baby anymore, are you? You don’t tend to play the role for my benefit anymore. You are growing up fast. You are changing in front of my eyes.

I often reach out to hold your hand as we walk together, wanting to swing your arms with mine like we used to when you were tiny. Every now and again, you will let me…but you don’t stay there for very long before you get itchy feet and feel that need to run or walk ahead. I watch you as you go, making up games, using your imagination. And I do love it. I love watching you have fun… it makes my heart and soul very happy.

As Noah Turns Eight

Last weekend, we went to a summer fair at your cousin’s school. I saw you watch your bigger cousin, running around with his friends, being that bit older than you. I could see that you were jealous. I could see that you wanted to go with him. I could tell you thought he was having a lot more fun, than you. I kept you close to me, not to stray far away at all. My heart panicked if you had fallen just steps behind and I couldn’t see you. I’m struggling to let you go at all. Struggling to let you grow up. I tried so hard to keep you… to almost tell you that you were having more fun walking around with me and your little sister. But you weren’t, were you? I could see that look in your eyes and I made myself be brave. I was shaking as I said it… but I told you that you could go off with your cousin but you had to stay with him at all times. I knew that everywhere you went in the school grounds, I could see you… watch you. It still felt difficult to let you be away from me though. When I said it, your eyes grew wide… you couldn’t even believe the words that were coming out of my mouth. You are so used to me being cautious, over-protective… possibly a bit of a control freak and an advocate of organised fun. You smiled at me like you never have before…and off you ran. I didn’t have to tell you twice. I did watch you though Noah. I didn’t take my eyes off of you. It was weird seeing you out of arms reach, laughing and being perfectly fine without me. So endearing though. This was you. This was how you socialised. This was you responding to other children, away from my watchful eye…or so you thought (baby steps, okay?)… And, you were absolutely fine. Sensible, free  and so happy.

I am trying Noah, to change alongside you. To keep up. This will never be an easy part of being your mama, please know that. Please accept that about me and understand, it is because I love you so very much. Protecting you, nurturing you… these are the things that I understand most about raising you. Everything else feels like scary territory. Like you once did, I have to learn to crawl before I can walk and walk before I can run.

As Noah Turns Eight

We are absolute best friends beautiful boy… but I am your mama first. That is a role that comes with a fierce maternal instinct to keep you safe, do what is best for you always and to love you unconditionally. The year ahead of us is going to push and pull me so far out of my comfort zone, it’s going to leave me dizzy. BUT, we will challenge the balance and all of the madness that comes with you growing up and getting older…and we will do it together.

As Noah Turns Eight

Tomorrow, you are going to be eight years old, I just cant believe it. It only feels like five minutes ago that I was writing the first one of these letters. I was gushing about how you had learned to pretend sneeze…and it was just one of the adorable things that came with having a one year old. That was a long time ago now. So much has changed since then. You have changed. I have changed. One thing that never changes though, is how much my heart expands each year, How much my love for you grows with it and how proud of you I am. You surprise me constantly with your charm, wit and spirit and you make me smile every single day. You really are my sunshine and you always will be.

As Noah Turns Eight

Happy 8th Birthday for tomorrow Noah, I hope your day is as special as you are.

I love you, more and most,

From Mama x x x

 

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Noah and pregnancy with baby number thr
Written at 34 weeks pregnant… when I didn’t feel like I was doing very well

 

Dear Noah,

There are so many things that I want to say to you in this moment. I want to tell you how proud of you, how grateful, how in awe of you I am. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of you right now though, is the words ‘I’m so sorry!’. I feel this deep, aching need in my heart to hold on to you so tightly and to apologise over and over again until I’m certain that you have heard me.

I’ve never wanted you to have to accept this version of your mama, to understand her, to be so fiercely loyal to her. I’m not proud to be her and I don’t really know how you can look at me like you do. Like I’m the best thing since sliced bread.

But, you do!

Everyday, you wipe the slate clean. You show up. You smile at me. You encourage me. You love me. You love me even harder lately, I can feel it. It’s almost as if you are loving me harder because you know that I am struggling to love myself.

I am sorry Son! Ever since I became a mother… Your mother, I have wanted you to see me as this ‘perfect’ person, this wonderful woman who can do no wrong. I’ve wanted you to put me on a pedestal. I’ve wanted you to hold me in high regard and to hold me in your heart as someone who will never falter.

And now I’m scared that even though you tell me every day without fail, that I am the best mum in the world… You may not really think so anymore. Now that it has become so obvious that I am just a human being. Just a person. Now that I have faltered. Now that I have shown you that I am so very far from being perfect.

Every day you somehow manage to tell me that I am your beautiful mama. Everyday you kiss my belly, your little brother and you talk to him… so excited for him to be here with us all. You don’t show envy towards him. You don’t show resentment, for the times I have been forced to put him first. As someone who loves you with everything I am… It has hurt me to have to do that. To make a choice to lay down and rest so I don’t fall down…rather than to play with you in the garden. You have taken 34 weeks (so far) of my choices and needs in your stride, constantly reminding me that I am pregnant and I need to relax. You are an old soul and you have such kindness in your heart. So much love and empathy. You have shown how truly selfless you can be and I don’t think words could ever express what that means to me.

Noah and pregnancy with baby number thr

I’m sorry that you have had to see me struggle, to walk and to cope with sickness. I’m sorry that I’ve had to ask you to wait, for things and for me. I’m sorry that I have become someone who has made you learn about how patient you can be and are. I just want you to be a child. I just want you to have fun. I don’t want you to learn all of your lessons now. You have time.

I have found myself saying to you a lot lately, that there isn’t long left, that in a few weeks your baby brother will be here. I have implied that as if by magic, you will have me back, as I was. As you remember. As I remember. And it doesn’t phase you. You look at me like I’m mad, like nothing has changed…and then you carry on talking about life after, with your new baby brother.

Can it be that you haven’t noticed how badly I’m doing? Can it be that I’m carrying the heavy burden of this mum guilt on my shoulders, every second of every day and you are actually okay?

Are you happy Noah? I desperately hope that you are.

You are going to be such an amazing brother to your baby brother. Even though you bicker and rough and tumble with her, I’ve seen how great you already are to Ellenah. You are perfect proof of how a heart can grow and how much love one can hold.

Noah and pregnancy with baby number thr

We are all so blessed to have you in our lives. So lucky to have you brightening every day with your beautiful spirit and energy. Apart from saying a world of sorry’s… I also want to say the biggest thank you.

Thank you for being you. Thank you for smiling every day. Thank you for trying your hardest at school. Thank you for being strong. Thank you for being resilient. Thank you for your acceptance. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for loving me back, unconditionally. Thank you for the spring in your step. Thank you for the cuddles. Thank you for the bump love. Thank you for being so considerate. Thank you for being mine.

Noah and pregnancy with baby number thr

Thank you for being a daily reminder that even when things feel tough and I don’t feel like I have very much confidence left within myself at all… I did something so right and so perfect. I raised one incredible little boy. I love watching you shine bright and be exactly everything that makes up who you are.

Thank you for being a daily reminder that there is good in every day… simply because you are in it.

I love you,

Mama x

 

 

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Finding Autumn At The Park

Saturday was the official start of the half term break and it was such a gorgeous day. The sun was so warm, so beautiful and it was beating through my bedroom window from the moment that we opened our eyes.

We spent the morning pottering around the house, being a little lazy and giving in the the freedom of the holiday. The freedom of the weekend. I managed to drink a hot peppermint tea while I talked to my little favourites. For ages.

It always surprises me in the most pleasant way how they see life, how when I give them a little time they will talk to me for hours, how they always want me to be included in everything that they want to do, play and make and how openly they love the family that they were born in to. How happy they are.

We ate lunch together, at the table where we talked some more, laughed and talked about our plan for the afternoon.

Finding Autumn At The Park

My sister and her beautiful little family were heading to us in the early afternoon to take the children out on their scooters and bikes. We were going to hit the park on such a beautiful day. It was too much of a perfect autumnal day to waste it.

Finding Autumn At The Park

There was so much excitement about our mini adventure. Noah watched the clock and Ellenah asked me constantly if it was time to leave.

Finding Autumn At The Park

Finally we were on our way and the kids zoomed off in front.

Finding Autumn At The Park

They enjoyed the park. They played on the outside gym, the zip wire and the assault course. We collected leaves and jumped around in them. It was just so nice to see the children wearing rosy cheeks, big smiles and laughs.

Finding Autumn At The Park

Finding Autumn At The Park

Seeing them all happy makes me happy.

Finding Autumn At The Park

Finding Autumn At The Park

Finding Autumn At The Park

Making memories with them, even the simple ones at the park, makes me feel lighter, content and like I am a part of something so incredible.

Finding Autumn At The Park

Being with them shows me life through their eyes. The beauty of it.

I’m so excited about the rest of half term and all of the joy, love and memories that will come with it. What are y’all planning on doing with your little loves?

With Love,

Ria x

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Harvest Festival 2016

The Harvest Festival is one of my favourite school events of the academic year. I love the build up, of listening to the children singing and practising their songs over and over. I love it when they ask to teach them to me, to practice their lines, their part in such a beautiful assembly. An assembly with such an important message, about giving and thinking of others.

The Harvest Festival takes me back to my childhood. It takes me back to the church school that I attended for my primary education. I can remember how grand and special our church felt, how small it made me feel as I sat their with my bright, blonde hair, having donated a couple of tins of soup, some baked beans and some rice. I was right about the church, years later, Matt and I were married there.

I remember singing the lovely songs about crops, God, giving to others and looking after each other. I remember the warmth in my heart. I remember feeling kind, happy to have helped and like it just made sense to pull together, so that everyone feels like they are cared about.

I remember passing the baton of my youth to Noah a few years ago. He started school and it all became his turn. The Harvest Festival was the first event I went to after I lost my first child to education. I can recall the way that my eyes welled up when I saw him walk in with his class. My little boy who smiled his biggest one for me. His little legs shuffled along to make enough room for everyone and I wanted to scoop him up in my arms and hold on to him in disbelief that this would be his life now. His face locked on to me in the crowd and he sang so beautifully, with such care.

I remember saying to him once (about Harvest, about life) that if we had nothing in the world to offer someone in need, absolutely nothing of value… we always had kindness. I hope that he remembers that still. I hope that he is learning something from these songs. Like I did. I hope that they both do…

Of course, this year I lost my second child to education. It was Ellenah’s first Harvest Festival. Honestly, If I ever manage to forget her singing ‘You Can Pick A little Bean, It’s Harvest Time You Know…’ I will be very surprised!

Again, I saw her walk in with her class and shuffle along to make enough room on the stage. She searched for my face in the crowd, found me and locked her eyes and pretty, little smile on to me. It wouldn’t have been hard, I was standing up, in the second to back row, waving vigorously until we found each other.

I felt the familiar sting of tears and my cheeks were mildly twitching to prevent me from full on sobbing on the mama next to me’s shoulder because my daughter is just so lovely.

And then she started to sing and sign the cutest actions with her arms. She looked so happy, so pleased to sing in front of everyone. I think my heart grew a little more, if that’s even possible.

Unfortunately, I only managed to see one performance from her and never did manage to see her singing the song about picking a little bean. The different classes were rotated on and off the stage and unfortunately, my short little beauty was behind a bunch of older, taller kids. The most I could see was the top of her head. It was quite sad. It made me feel flat all day, a tiny bit upset, selfishly.

Harvest Festival was tiered between classes and stages so Noah’s group was small. It was full of song and I had managed to move into a seat closer, to see him sing at the front. It was wonderful. His class managed to rewrite and perform ‘I Will Survive’ relevant to Harvest and it was really good, It completely picked me up.  And just because he is a little bigger and things like this have become more normal, it doesn’t mean that I don’t get the prickle of emotion behind my eyes anymore. I absolutely do. I think that I always will!

Today’s Harvest Festival might not have been completely perfect but you know, the whole reason that it is so special, so necessary, is because life isn’t. Sometimes the world and the people in it need a little help from their friends and today, my favourite people in the world helped make a little difference.

This makes me happy!

With Love,

Ria x

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All schools have that smell, don’t they? They all have a school hall, that you know the children think is huge. The school hall that when the children get older, will feel so small to them. They will wonder how they found the space for p.e. lessons, in their little gym shorts and plimsolls. They will wonder how the tables fit in. The tables where they ate lunch with their friends. Made memories. Grew too quickly.

Last night, Matt and I sat in the school hall of our children’s primary school for parents evening. As we waited, we looked through our two beautiful children’s work and I looked around, imagining them here. Feeling thankful for the place that takes good care of them, brings out the best in them and knows them when I am not around.

I started to feel a little nervous, as I always do. I played out the things that the teachers might say in my mind. Usually I’m not one to think the worst, especially about my little humans. Parents evening has always made me feel a little unsteady though. The unknowing, the hope that I’m doing enough, the smidgen of self-doubt that creeps in when I’m faced with the person that gets to spend so much time with my child all day… It all gives me sweaty palms and wobbly legs. And it makes me smile even more, so that the teacher doesn’t sense fear.

Ellenah

Parents Evening, October 2016

Our appointment with Ellenah’s teacher was first, at 6pm. Her teacher is sweet, bubbly and pretty wonderful. Honestly, she is everything that you could ever want from a reception class teacher. She told us that in just a few weeks she has seen Ellenah’s confidence grow so rapidly. She told us how focussed and creative she is and how popular she is in her class. She beamed about how polite our little girl is and how bright… It was just so reassuring to hear.

It’s no secret that when my darling girl started school, I found it difficult. I missed her terribly and still do. So, to hear that she is happy, doing well and fitting in beautifully as well as standing out for all of the things that make her so wonderful… It was just what I needed to hear,  just what I needed to know.

Noah

Parents Evening, October 2016

6.40pm- Time for our appointment with Noah’s teacher. Noah’s teacher who is just as lovely as Ellenah’s, albeit a lot more serious and to the point. I guess that is what comes with the jump to key stage two. She told us that Noah has settled in well into year three and that he is coping well with the higher expectations and workload. She told us that he reads and writes so well and her face was beaming as she spoke. She told us that he is confident in math and is absorbing the class project with such interest and effort. She told us that he is lovely, popular with his peers and a pleasure to teach.

Like most mothers, I am very proud but when it comes to Noah, it feels a little different. He was my first child, my son. He was my main learning curve in motherhood. The boy who I had to ‘wing it’ with. The boy who I hoped I was doing right by. The boy who would be in every single thought of mine. The one who I hoped I wasn’t failing. The one who I worried about because he had the slightly younger mama. The mama who judged herself all of the time. The mama who read parenting books at every opportunity. The mama who tried to be the best but almost always felt like she wasn’t. Wasn’t good enough. I know it isn’t much, it isn’t the be all and end all but to be told that your first child is doing well is a small validation that you are doing okay. You can be proud of you both. You can be happy in the knowledge that you managed to get some things right. And, you are actually the best person to raise him.

I walked out of parents evening feeling content, proud and like ‘The Sweetest Life’ kids are pretty darn awesome. I hugged them both, back at home and told them about all of the lovely things that their teachers have said about them. They smiled and felt pride from within themselves which was lovely, for their self esteem and because when someone notices how hard you are trying and how well you are doing, It’s nice to be told. It’s nice to know that people believe in you, people are in your corner, on your side… and that mama is proud of you.

With Love,

Ria x

 

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