Happy Campers

The summer holidays started in the best way for my little family and me. As you grow up and older, knowing what makes you happy is so important, as is keeping things simple and smiling as often as you can. I don’t mean the kind of smile that is meant for anyone else’s benefit. I mean the smile that grows on your face because you are smiling from within. And I don’t mean the happiness that you are told to feel, I mean the kind of happiness that comes from knowing yourself, knowing what you like and endeavouring to always have it.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

When we bundled in to the car with our battered, outdoorsy clothes and very minimal other things for a few days away, I couldn’t wait to get on the road and make our way to our happy place. The place with the white cliffs that overlook the sea. The place where you can fall asleep around the fire, that crackles from the wood that you found for yourself. The place that when you look up into the sky in the black of night, you can actually see the stars. The stars that go on for days and mesmerise you.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

The place that isn’t glamorous, it isn’t exotic or in any way luxurious…but it is where we fit! It is where we are happy, truly happy. It is where we are away from the strains of routine, away from the lives that we are conditioned to lead and away from all of the ‘busy’ that sometimes conceals what is most important.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

‘Tent Life’ isn’t going to be for everyone and back in my early twenties, before I became a mother… It wouldn’t have been on my radar at all. I was busy bouncing around different countries and places during annual leave. My passport, suitcase and best clothes were my favourite things. The life I lead now, my reality… It is so different from life back then. I’m not saying that I never want to step on a plane again, I do! I want to see as much of the world as possible, I want to show it to my children. I’m just saying, I’m glad that I am someone we are a family who can find peace, excitement and joy in being outside. We can find the humour in showering under droplets of cold water, hair lathered and standing in the cold, waiting for the water to come back to our cubicle. We can feel true delight in the high pitched whistle of the kettle, once it has boiled after about twenty minutes (way longer in stronger wind)…This means it’s time for our morning brew. Up to half an hour to make and three seconds to drink so it doesn’t get cold. We can feel good about sharing our bedroom with a variety of insects, even seeing the opportunity to whip out my nephews new microscope to take a better look at the ones we didn’t recognise. We can feel right at home in our tent, we can sleep well and we always feel sad to go back home, to the ‘real life’ one.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

I know that I’m probably not selling it to you and I’m not sure that I’m trying to if I’m honest. I’m just sharing something special, something responsible for many happy memories, many smiley faces and a freedom for my children that this scary world doesn’t always allow them.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Camping is what it says on the tin. Especially where we go. It is basic. But… what more do you need when you are spending time, quality time with the people that you love. You are not ruled by the ticking of a clock. You are not a slave to technology. You don’t have to tell your children to ‘wait!’ because, well, for what? They have you, in the moment, in the now…They have everything that they need. Your time, fresh air, space to run and to breathe and to laugh…To hop and skip if they want.

Camping might not be for you…but believe me, your fingernails might get dirty… your mind, your soul and your spirit however, will feel nothing but clean.

Love, Ria x

Happy Campers

 

 

 

 

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Noah's 7th Birthday

It was a Saturday. Saturday the 2nd of July 2016…A special one! The day my son turned seven.

I woke up early, before anyone else…even the birthday boy and the sun was beating through my bedroom window. It was bright and warm and I lay there thinking of this day seven years back. I thought it would be a day, much like the others before it. A day when I felt heavy and hot in the closeness of summer. A day when I wondered if it could be ‘The Day’. The day when a tiny, new life would make me a mother for the first time and a brand new chapter could begin.

Noah's 7th Birthday

Indeed, my new chapter began as I gave birth to my little boy Noah, in the bedroom of our home. It was the first one that we lived in as a family. I met him for the first time as I perched on the edge of the bed and he was passed up to me, so small and fragile. And from that first moment I saw him, I knew I would love him for the rest of my life. I held him close to me, close to my racing heart and I felt so lucky. We sat there for a while, oblivious to the chaos of labour and delivery around us… oblivious to the paint pots, boxes and memorabilia from our ‘life before’ and having not long moved in.

It was just us. Noah and me on a brand new and completely crazy adventure. An adventure which has spiralled us through the happiest times, most exciting times, the most wonderful milestones and with a little bit of sadness to keep us humble, real and feeling blessed for how lucky we are.

And suddenly we showed up here. To his seventh birthday. In reality, we kind of rocked up, a little surprised and wondering where the time went. I know I did anyway. It feels like only five minutes ago when I snuggled him up in his fluffy, orange towel, breathed in his newborn scent and looked into his beautiful, alert eyes for hours at a time because it was all I wanted to do above everything else. I Just wanted to watch him and marvel at everything he did. And now, he is seven…which feels so much bigger. It feels like a new chapter has begun.

Noah's 7th Birthday

The night before I was emotional and wondering how I would stop myself from falling apart but when it came down to it, I was happy for him to go forth and be seven. Happy for him to take on his own ripple of life and all of the incredible things that come with it.

Noah's 7th Birthday

And the day was just lovely. His birthday weekend was actually!

Noah was surrounded by the people who love him, who have him and those, who in my opinion, are blessed to truly know him. Those people with their own life ripples, ripples that will cross with his throughout life, time and time again.

Noah's 7th Birthday

Noah's 7th Birthday

Noah's 7th Birthday

And Noah spent his seventh birthday weekend so very happy and loved… and falling apart didn’t even enter my mind. It’s almost like, when I think that I will falter the most and selfishness will fall from my eyes… when it comes down to it, I realise that Noah’s future is just too bright and exciting and I can’t bring myself to do it, to let them go. So a smile happens instead, many smiles actually…And I am so glad.

Noah's 7th Birthday

Noah's 7th Birthday

With Love,

Ria x

 

 

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As Noah Turns Seven

Dear Noah,

Tomorrow you are turning seven!

Tonight I am sitting here having just written in your birthday card and I am surrounded by banners and balloons that say ‘Happy Seventh Birthday’ and it doesn’t feel like they belong in our home.

I can’t look at the number and see you being this age. I feel like some time has been rather wickedly stolen from me and I will never see it again.

About Me, The Sweetest Life

But it’s all true. You will be seven. In just a few hours…and I am trying to catch up quickly.

I need to catch up so that tomorrow morning, when you bundle in to bed with me and whisper that it is your birthday, I don’t fall apart.

I feel like falling apart right now. My lips keep quivering quite hard, my eyes are full of tears…my face is a little contorted…because I am trying to push the need to cry to the back of my heart.

But I could Noah! I could sit here in the privacy of my bedroom as you sleep so calmly next door and cry hard in to my hands. These tears that I’m not sure I can keep in if I’m honest, they have been trying to fall a lot of times in the past year.

First Love

This year has been a hard one to be your mother. Before that makes you sad…It has been hard in the best way that I could ever imagine.

You have grown so much. Yes you still have shorter legs and a longer body like daddy…but really I mean, you have grown up so much. And, at a speed that makes everything that holds me together, feel a little unsteady.

While you have powered on with your Beaver Sleepover, SATs and many other wonderful things, I have questioned and doubted myself. I’ve realised how far we have come and i’ve looked back at what we’ve had…and all I ever hope is that I am a good mama to you. I hope that you feel as proud of me as I do you.

This year I have internally battled with being a working mum. I know that over the years I have missed little things, not heard everything that you have said, I have had to ask you to ‘wait’ and I’ve begged you for your patience. It has broken me a little this year that I have had to do those things when time is passing us by so quickly. I feel guilty that I’ve wasted precious time working so hard, working late in to the night and using energy that could have been better spent, being in this moment with you. I’ve realised how fast time goes and how easy it is to miss the little things that matter so much. I’ve questioned what the point is. I’ve questioned myself constantly, always asking if I am doing the right thing.

-x-

This journey leaves me dizzy right now my boy!

Noah's 6th Birthday Eve

Do you know what steadies me though and helps me to gain focus?

It’s you!

Noah's 5th Birthday Eve

Because even when our journey as mother and son shakes me and scares me… you are absolutely, every single reason for me to smile and love bigger and harder. No doubt or worry will ever be bigger than all of the good that comes from you and out into the world.

Sats And Snails

Like today, after you shared your birthday sweeties out to your school friends at the end of the day, you went back in to class to give the last ones to your teachers.

Like your opinion on The EU Referendum. You said you wanted to remain because the more people, the more friends, the merrier. You couldn’t understand the choice to be alone.

Like when you hug me for no reason and you say that I am your favourite person in the whole world.

Like how you read my copy of Matilda by Roald Dahl, that I got for my eleventh birthday and you hold it dear to you.

Like when you make a plan every few months to donate everything that you have to poor countries and to people who have very little to nothing. You understand that material things do not define us nor do they matter.

Like when you say nothing at all and I look at you with such pride. I am truly grateful for you and for who you are. You were the first person to make me a mother and with that you have given me the strength and courage to realise all that I can be, want to be and all that I am. You never make me feel lesser, even when I feel like I could be more. You are kind, brave and charming. You are everything that I could have ever hoped for and you will never know what your smile does to my soul.

You are exactly the reason that I believe in dreams coming true. Because you did.

SATS And Snails

I hope your seventh birthday is as perfect as you are.

I love you more and most,

Mummy x x x

 

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The Thought Hangover

It feels like ages since I last wrote about my visit to Sheldon Spa… probably because it was in fact ages ago. The past couple of weeks have been a big blur of things to do, places to be, lots of excitement and emotional moments.

The last couple of weeks have been a bloggers dream but in reality, I’m just one person doing what I can.

Lately it feels like I have to constantly make a choice between committing to my craft and committing to my children and being a good mama. And let’s be real… There really is no competition.

So I made the decision that once the dust has settled, which is around now… I can really look back on the past few weeks, reflect on them and write about them. The things that I don’t want to forget.

Honestly, I feel like I could burst with all of the things that I want to tell you about.

Today though, I’m a mess! A mixture of nerves and fear. Do you remember when I told you about ‘The Sleepover’ and how I was struggling with making the decision to let Noah attend or not…and eventually I agreed…Well today was the day that I sent him off to have a lot of fun, overnight in a field, without me.

I didn’t sleep that well last night. I already missed him I think. The thought of waking up in my comfortable bed, warm and cosy while he wakes up on the ground and maybe a little cold was upsetting me.

You know how sometimes, when people are tired but struggle to fall asleep and they count sheep? I was counting excuses that I could make up so that I could stop him from going.

I was subconsciously listing all of my reasons that I wanted him to stay with me, where he belongs.

I was thinking about his little bundle of camping things, already prepared and ready to go by the front door.

I was thinking of his bright, blue Beavers sweatshirt with the badges of belonging and achievement on…and how it makes his beautiful eyes smile. It suits him.

I was thinking about what I would say to him in the morning. I searched for the words, I searched for the best goodbye. I wanted it to be just right. Nothing too much, too soppy… because I didn’t want to truly let on how much I was crumbling. And nothing too quick, too forgettable. I couldn’t find the words in the darkness. I decided to wing it just like everything else to do with the sleepover. Maybe I was lost for words because this ‘Bye’ wasn’t actually ‘Good’… not for me anyway.

I did this to myself all night. I drifted in and out of sleep (in that place between asleep and awake) and these thoughts circled around my mind on a loop, terrorising me. It was just horrible. I felt sick.

I got angry at myself. I was confident in my decision. I am confident in the little boy that I am raising. Why was I being so useless? Why was this so hard? Why the fear?

And then it was morning and I woke up to those beautiful eyes and the little boy who kisses me on the forehead. To the boy with the most charming (but goofy) grin.

The Thought Hangover

And just then, my role changed.

I could not let Noah see the darkness under my eyes from my thought hangover. He would not see how much I dreaded this day that is oh so special to him. He would not see how much this snippet of freedom terrified me. He would not know how much I was still trying to find the words for the goodbye.

The time came to bundle in the car and as we whizzed past fields and the quiet, my eyes started to burn. I could feel the tears. My sister, the designated driver and calm keeper kept me busy, chatting away (Yes big sister, I know what you were doing and thank you!) so that I wouldn’t let them go, let them fall.

It wasn’t far! In no time we had jumped out of the car and Noah, with his teddy under his arm and a sleeping mat under the other was rushing towards the camping field where plenty of other Beavers had gathered.

Noah wanted to leave me before I had even signed him in. I pretended not to notice. I had to say my goodbye… THE goodbye!

But at some point between signing him in and organising his belongings, he had run to his friends…leaving his favourite teddy from home, the one that he slept with every night…in the dust!

And when I looked up and he had gone, my heart felt weird.

I walked to the edge of the field in what felt like slow motion and then I saw his face in the crowd, smiling and happy.

He belonged there with them, his friends, the other children who loves the same things that he does.

I didn’t watch for long. I knew if I didn’t make myself leave right then, I wouldn’t go.

But…

I could have watched him all day. He looked different to me. Somewhat bigger, older. He looked free but involved. He just ‘fit’ and it was quite lovely.

I felt really proud of him, my little boy who never stops surprising me when it comes to who he is and who he is growing to be.

I called him over to say goodbye, my moment had arrived.

He reached me, hugged me, kissed me and smiled. Eager to get back he bounced from foot to foot and the best I could do was say…

‘Bye Son. I love you!’

And I watched this little person who I love so much, turn and run back to something that was making him very happy.

And as I left, I felt much better.

With Love,

Ria x

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The Sleepover

The smug smirk on Matthew’s face as he walked through the door told me that I wasn’t going to like what was on the piece of paper that he was waving around in front of me. He knew that I was going to hate it! I laughed nervously and took it from him. He folded his lips in tightly to stop himself from laughing at me, laughing at what I was about to say.

‘He isn’t going!’ I said firmly as I quickly dismissed what I had just read and the paper ended up on top of a little pile of bills and letters. The ‘I’m not dealing with this shit’ pile. The pile that I quickly turned away from. Matt let the laugh go and I shot him the worst look from the bottom of my soul.

‘You can’t say that, he will love it…and you know he will’ Matt pleaded

‘He won’t love it because he isn’t going! He’s too small!’

‘He’ll be the only one who isn’t going…That’s so mean! You’re mean!’

And then I shut that conversation down by sulking on my own in the kitchen, banging pans around…anything to shut out the noise of my guilt, anxieties and fear.

Noah has been attending ‘Beavers’ for only three weeks. He absolutely adores going. It has become such a release in his week and it brings out such a happy side of him. He lights up when he speaks about what he has learned and experienced there. And it took me a little time to grasp and appreciate but he thrives in that time alone, away from us, away from me.

Last night, Matt brought home a letter and permission slip. To attend a sleepover. Over night. Away from me. Away from home. Away from our bedtime stories and snuggles. Away from home comforts. AWAY FROM ME!

Away from my need to kiss him goodnight, talk about the dreams we would like to have, discuss how we will meet up in ‘Dream City’ and go on a hot air balloon and away from his bed where I will check on him before I go to sleep every night.

I don’t want him to go.

Is Matt right? Am I a horrible Mother for not wanting to let go. Am I mean for looking at the suggested list of things that he will need to take and shaking my head because they obviously don’t know my son well enough! They don’t know that he can’t choose just one teddy. They don’t know that a change of clothes will not be sufficient because he is oh so clumsy and very messy. They don’t know that because I am in fact not on that list for him to take, I kind of hate Beavers right now… Surely I will be something he needs, right? I am his person!

Matt just says that it will be perfect for him, he’ll get to be a little boy around the fire with his buddies. He loves camping. Why wouldn’t we let him go?

I have one week to decide.

Noah is desperate to go.

I told him that I won’t be there. He said ‘Oh okay!’

I told him that he will have to pick one teddy! He said ‘Oh okay!’

I told him that he will have to try and be clean because he needs to travel light. He said, ‘Oh okay!’

And he didn’t flinch at all about going to ‘The Sleepover’  without us. Without me.

It isn’t the same for Matthew, he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand that when the children aren’t with me, I feel like I’ve lost a limb. The thought of them falling and me not being there to wipe their tears and whip out the magic plasters fills me with dread. The idea that someone else who I hardly know will be responsible for the safety and protection of my small child makes me feel quite sick. It is completely alien to me.

What do I do? What would you do?

Do I let my (almost) seven year old go camping with his friends for games, crafts and good, old fashioned, wholesome fun for a night? Or do I say ‘no’ and hope that one day I will have more courage as his Mother to let him go? Grow up?

With Love,

Ria x

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