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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His little tongue poked out of the side of his mouth and his beautiful, big eyes grew even bigger in anticipation. His little fingers shook with concentration and focus and the room was silent. I may have stopped breathing for a tiny while, worried that he would hear and I would throw him off. And there in the living room of our home, Noah tied his shoelaces for the very first time.

Precious Shared Moments

And like most milestones and the many wonderful ways that my children constantly surprise me, I felt the familiar burn of tears behind my eyes. And like most times, I didn’t let them fall but simply replaced them with the biggest smile that I can possibly fit on my face. A smile that often hurts eventually. Probably because it stays there for so long.

Moments like this remind me why I wanted to become a mother to begin with. To be there for these moments, to see them unfold, help them become. These moments fill me with so much pride, I could burst and it gives me a sense of togetherness with my two favourite people… and that feeling makes me whole and happy.

Precious Shared Moments

And there are those times, after a long day of to-do lists and elsewheres to be, when I lift my beautiful daughter with her smile that is so enchanting out of the bath and wrap her in a big, snuggly towel. I get to be there, to hug her and lose time in the smell of her damp hair and lovely songs that she sings to me in her post bath tiredness. I get to hold on to her while she is still little and lets me. I get to carry the weight of her sleepy body out of the steam filled bathroom and hug her until she is dry and warm. I get to look at her long, black eyelashes, stuck together by droplets of water and listen to her talk to me. We get to have that time.

This happens every day as a part of our routine. It’s easy not to notice just how special it is. It’s easy to take it for granted.

The truth is, Life can be so very chaotic and it’s so important to me to appreciate these little snippets of parenting bliss in the midst of life and all the busy that comes with it. It’s important to truly make them count. It’s important that I have these moments so that my children really know how loved they are, how special and wanted.

Precious Shared Moments

And like I say, it’s about togetherness, our bond… and not only how I feel about them. Not only about how I show it.

Precious Shared Moments

One of my most favourite moments is that glance at the clock, when it is so early and the rest of the world MUST be sleeping. And then two sets of feet meet each other on the landing. My bedroom door opens and my favourite faces in the world bundle through it. They’ve got books, which we will read together in bed as daylight rises and gleams through my bedroom window. Silence surrounds us and it feels like it is just us. Us and our stolen time. Almost as if we won against the expectations of the day, everything we have to do, achieve and give ourselves up for. Like we tricked the day.

Those mornings remind me how my children also feel about me. How they love me and how they think about me when they first open their eyes. How they need me. How we are a team, always on the same side.

Mornings like this are where I am something much more than a mama desperately trying to get it right, hoping I’m doing okay, always thinking I can be better. These mornings are my belonging, where I fit. It is where I don’t need to be anything other than Noah and Ellenah’s Mama…because to them, I am exactly enough.

Precious Shared Moments

These really are my precious shared moments. These and many before and beyond. Countless moments which make me feel blessed.

What are your precious shared moments? The simple, everyday moments that matter the most?

With Love,

Ria x

 

 

Collaboration

This video was sponsored by Cadbury Buttons but all views and opinions expressed in this video are my own and I only ever work with brands I truly love.

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The Sweetest Life has been a little sleepy this past week because in reality I have been hurdling the days. I’ve been existing thanks to coffee and some very supportive words and ways from my lovely friends and family. The past week has been a blur of emotion and now that I have made it through to Saturday, where I am sat in the work office writing this (and Sunday evening where I am finishing this at home), with quiet around me and space to breathe and think… I can truly reflect upon the chaos. The chaos which makes me smile, fully.

I came in to this week nervous, agitated, anxious and tense. On Wednesday and Thursday, Noah sat his SATs and because I’m his mama, his biggest support…and biggest fan, I gave my positivity, confidence and every good thought I had, to him. I just wanted him to smile this week and feel good about himself. I didn’t want him to feel tested, challenged and doubtful of what he can or cannot do, will or will not become. I know that he is only seven (almost!) and others around me were saying that ‘it didn’t matter’ but in my opinion, no good can come of comparison and grading, against their peers or even worse, to an average. In no situation would I ever want to hear, ‘Noah did well, he is average!’ – what does that even mean and what message does that send to our children? How does that send a positive message in the way they should see themselves…or their worth going forward in to their futures? Anyway, He did it. We managed to get through it with smiles on our faces…and we have decided that the results are not important. As Noah’s parents, obviously we will know how he did but he does not need to. It isn’t something that needs to be on his radar… and suddenly, we all feel much happier about it.

I had been incredibly nervous about Thursday all week on a more personal note too. I had been invited to a photo shoot, in connection with Lucy Diamond’s book ‘The Secrets Of Happiness’. I was to make my way in to London for 11.30am where I would meet three of the other Channel Mums (Did you know that I am a Channel Mum?) and we would have our hair and make-up done ready for the shoot. London is a big deal for me. Well actually, travelling anywhere out of my safety zone is. And, meeting new people has always made me nervous because I can be quite shy. Thursday made me feel like I was really pushing myself… and there was something about that which I really liked. I honestly had the best day, it felt so surreal and even now, a couple of days later, I feel like I have to pinch myself to make sure it was real. I had so much fun and I laughed so much with the others. I came away from the day with achy cheeks and a tired stomach as a result.

A Weird And Wonderful week

I did take a few snippets of footage from the day which you can watch (for free) by clicking HERE. I can’t wait to tell Noah and Ellenah about this when they are old enough to care at all. I can’t wait to show them the little video that I made of my day. I can’t wait for them to think that sometimes I can be a little bit cool.

And as if Thursday wasn’t busy enough, after the amazing time that I had in London, I came back home, dumped my bag and headed straight back out to watch Noah be invested at Beavers. He had to say a promise and then he was given some badges. a certificate and a scarf…It was all very official and very cute.

I also had to decide about ‘The Sleepover’ and whether or not to let him go. It hasn’t been an easy decision but… I signed the consent form to say that he will be there. Parenting can be such a constant battle. It can be relentless. It is hard to find the right balance between giving enough freedom to help raise independent people and the desperate, maternal urge to keep them safe. And trust??? It’s really f*cking hard to trust anyone with your favourite people who aren’t in your official trust circle. Well it is for me anyway!

BUT…before I talk myself out of my decision, I think that Noah will be absolutely fine and I think he will have the greatest time. And I can’t wait for him to tell me about it because I am old enough to care. And I wish he was able to make a video about it because I would watch it over and over and even if I had to pay for it, it would be money well spent. And he doesn’t have to hope that I will think he is cool one day because I am well aware of it, so aware of it… He is awesome and whether I like it or not, he is growing up. I’m not going to be the one to hold him back.

Friday was easier, apart from taking Ellenah for her leavers photographs at pre-school. I feel like I was the only mama waiting who desperately wanted to cry. It all feels very real now! The process is winding down and soon she will be turning the page towards her next chapter in life- starting school. It makes my heart feel very strange. The photographer was trying to make Ellenah laugh or at least smile with a soft Iggle Piggle doll… It was quite an uncomfortable situation! Els was looking at her like ‘This is not funny!’ and in the group photograph, she needed the toilet so I can only begin to imagine what the proof will come back like… but, I will buy it anyway. She will never be a leaver of pre-school again after all and as much as I find all of this change hard, I want to remember every little thing about it. I want to remember her, what she looked like and how we both felt. It’s bittersweet.

And after that, I let myself just exist. I let myself go on to autopilot… I let myself sleep well on Friday night, knowing the next day was going to be simple. Exactly what I needed to regain some strength. Exactly what I needed to regain everything that I had given away this week – positivity, confidence and good thoughts. Exactly what I needed for everything to make sense once again. And now it does!

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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