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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Our Happy Normal

Last night at the dinner table, because school life has been stressful for Noah and emotions have been running high over how quickly I am running out of time with Ellenah, I tried to make everything feel a little bit lighter by announcing a game of ‘Simon Says’ to break the tension.

None of us felt too much like talking but I couldn’t endure the silence that was lingering over us, exposing our thoughts. The pending SATs questions that Noah isn’t sure he can answer, the fear that my son will feel inadequate after trying so hard to raise him knowing his worth and the fear of saying or doing something wrong at a vulnerable time. I’m not one for walking on eggshells… I’m more likely to crunch through them shouting ‘F*ck!’…I’m certainly not good with silence.

So we played as we ate…and it was really funny. We laughed, got things wrong and Ellenah pulled moody, sore loser faces when she got caught out and everything started to feel ‘normal’.

I realised how much I have desperately needed our normal. Our happy normal.

And, the songs that I thought were ‘cool’ as a young one played out from Spotify and we sang along and wriggled in our seats to the beat. And we talked about ‘everything else’ and we talked about the childrens ‘make believe’ and we all started to come back to the family unit that I am so proud of. Like we had come home.

Our Happy NormalWe finally finished eating and ‘Wannabe’ by The Spice Girls started to play. So I did what any self respecting Mother who grew up in the nineties would do and I pretended to be a member of the band, singing every lyric (even the rap) and making up some really epic dance moves. Noah laughed so hard, I thought he might just burst and Ellenah giggled so much that she made snorty noises (which made her laugh even more!)… They thought that I was so funny, a little weird…but funny all the same.

It felt so wonderful to be able to cheer them up and to watch them feel so free.

Isn’t it funny? When you have children and you understand unconditional love in a way that you never imagined possible…the things that you would do to make them happy, feel better and feel good.

Our Happy Normal

Last night, I knowingly flung myself into the centre of their chaos just so it started to make sense to them again. So that we could all come back together. Because that is how we work best. Together is how we are happiest.

Last night, Noah and Ellenah went to bed happy, worry-free and with achy tummies from laughing.

Our Happy Normal

And when they slept, I sneaked back in to their bedrooms to watch them dream, so peacefully. It helped my heart feel better. It reminded me to have the confidence in myself to make sure they know that ‘everything is going to be okay and they are so very loved.

Our Happy Normal

With Love,

Ria x

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SATS And Snails

Dear Noah (My Beautiful Boy),

The sun has been shining lately and there have been blossoms on the trees. The world has started to look so beautiful after a long winter. This morning after a splash of rain, a cool release from the heat over the weekend, Ellenah and I walked back from the school run without you. We walked quite slowly. Ellenah because she is small and wanted to look at the snails which were on the move. Me because like every week day morning, I miss you. I especially missed you today. I missed you because while Ellenah crouched down low, taking all of the time in the world to look at the snail which I held in the palm of my hand for her, it hurt my heart that you were not there. You would have loved that snail. You would have made up a story about it. You would have wanted to keep it. You would have said it was cute. You would have been so intrigued by where it lives, its family…its life so far and where it is going.

And I thought to myself about this moment.

This moment which wasn’t dictated by a clock, elsewhere’s to be… we had time as we crouched down in the rain with the world passing us by.

Moments like that are few and far between with you right now. Our moments are scheduled, organised and not quite so raw.

I have to steal those moments with you. Like at the weekend, on the bridge in our garden. The sun beat down on us and you sat on my knee like you did when you were much smaller. And my heart felt warm. And you will never know how much those few minutes of perfection meant to me.

SATS And Snails

Sometimes I hate myself when I ask you for ‘two minutes’ until I can read to you or for you to ‘wait until after dinner’ when you ask to build lego with me. I know that you want those moments with me too and I know that you hate waiting for them as much as I do. I hope you know that I am trying my best to be everything that you could ever want or need from a mother. I hope you know that when I ask you to ‘please wait’… that doesn’t mean that my love for you is paused.

Noah, isn’t everything so busy all of the time? Do you remember when we walked into the hills of the woods that time and as we stood on that bank and looked out upon tree tops, wasn’t it lovely? Do you remember what we did? When I said ‘Let’s think of all of the busy in our heads, all of the things we need to do, all of the things that worry us, bother us… let’s put it all in a ball in our stomach’s and shout our loudest until it’s gone!!!’ And we did. Do you remember how much we laughed, even though our eyes had tears in… It made us feel much better didn’t it?! Shall we do that again this weekend? Will you come with me?

Noah, I know that you feel nervous right now. Next week you have your very first SATS at school. Each day is taking a little chunk out of you and a little piece of your spirit. I can feel it! I’ve never seen you sweat anything before. I’ve never seen you try and rise to pressure. You have never needed to. You have always been so confident in the fact that you are good enough… because you most definitely are! Sometimes when I catch a glimpse of you, deep in thought… I can almost see you treading water, trying to keep going and all with a smile on your face. I can see you trying to figure out what you are feeling and why you feel strange about a little test. A test that doesn’t say anything about you and one that certainly doesn’t define you.

Noah, you know how special you are, right? You know that you are such a wonderful little boy? Do you know how you make people feel when you smile at them? Do you know how much that matters?

Noah, Do you know that I don’t care what a piece of paper with some numbers on tries to tell me about you?

I don’t care because you make the world better. You make it better with your beautiful eyes and the way that you see the world around you. You make it better with your laugh and ability to make others around you laugh and feel joy. You make it better because you see the good in everyone and you say such heartfelt things that make people feel good about themselves.

You are love, courage, enthusiasm, confidence and good.

You are happiness.

And you are small. And I am your Mother. And in this life, you will know everything that you are meant to and need to.

You will know that the sun will rise and the sun will set and everything in between is all that you make it. And, it is beautiful.

And you will know that your best is always good enough.

And you will know that ‘I Love You’, no matter what!

-Mama x

SATS And Snails

 

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First Love Dear Noah,

A couple of afternoons ago, on a particularly hot day, you sat on the sofa, clammy and done with it all. In a bid to wind the day down, we sat just across from each other and started to talk. The conversation took a turn and you found yourself talking about the girl in your school, the girl that your six and a half year old self is ‘in love with’. I watched as your eyes lit up when you spoke about her, I can tell that you think she is beautiful and so funny. You have told me that to you, she is perfect.

And I smiled… at the wrong time.

To me, I captured a glimpse of the boyfriend, husband and man that I think that you will some day become. Sensitive, loving and warm. I drifted off, just for a few seconds…almost celebrating how wonderful and ever so sweet you are.

First Love

You caught me!

To you, my smile and dopey eyes made you feel silly. You probably thought that I wasn’t listening. Like your feelings about your unrequited love didn’t matter, like they matter to you.

And then, you didn’t want to talk about ‘her’ any more… and you started to cry.

I scooped you up in my arms, a little ball of sobs, sweat and emotion. We stayed like that for a while and then little by little, you started to unravel. You buried your face into my neck, put your arms around me and clasped hold of me tightly.

Overwhelmed and needing air, eventually you looked up at me and I kissed your forehead and asked you what was wrong.

You told me how life feels for you when she is around. One minute you are racing your friends, playing football or playing make believe but as soon as you see her, you get nerves in your stomach and words don’t come out of your mouth. You tell me that you try not to stare but she is lovely. AND, the other boys in your class just want to play football or The Army. It makes you feel strange.

Noah, I don’t like to think that you have your first crush/love at the age of six and a half years old. I want you to be little first, a child.

I’m not ready for a girl who isn’t me, to have such a big part of your heart.. or to potentially hurt it. The thought of that breaks mine a little. My job is to protect you, your feelings… and especially your beautiful heart!

BUT…

What you feel is important and you are not silly. I would hate to think that I ever made you feel that way. The truth is, this is all new to me. I thought I had more time… but we’ll figure it all out together. You can talk to me, I will listen…I will be here for you.

But first…

Please understand that occasionally, I may look like I’m ready to burst with pride. Please understand that this is because I am actually about to.

Please understand that I am glad that I am raising you to treat girls with respect, whether that is the girls in your school, your Aunties, Nan or Me… and to see you be so gentle, sweet and kind-hearted… it will do things to my heart as your mother. It gives me the nod that I’ve put you on the right path somewhere along our journey.

Please know that I pray that in many years to come, when the time is right, you will love someone who truly deserves you.

Please understand that I will worry about this. I will worry about you.

Please know that I am so glad that you have been around true love, pure and good. Please understand how much I hope you can recognise this for yourself in the future because it will matter to who, how and why you love…and how you love yourself.

I will worry about this too.

Please understand that right now, I wish that you would rather be playing with Lego or digging for hidden treasure in the garden and this is difficult for me to comprehend.

Please understand that I hope that you will remain this chivalrous throughout life… even though, you started young so some days it may feel like effort.

Please know that one day, when you are an adult or just big enough to open doors for a lady, you must… even though not all of them will want or expect you to. I expect this from you though, which is why I want you to take your time to get there. You must not feel lesser for feeling as you do right now, but don’t rush to grow up where you can help it.

Please know that as much as I love you, I will not love every part of you growing up. To me, it will feel like you are growing away. Some days I will think that this part of your life is the cutest, and I will hang off of these beautiful little things that you say and other days, it will feel hard at the speed you are going and I will want to hit pause.

First Love

Noah, please know that I love you, everything about you. I love your dirty, mischievous laugh and that you push your boundaries, it complements the sensitive, idealist and romantic side to your personality just perfectly. And as much as it breaks me sometimes to see you cry (especially over a girl at six and a half years old…or whatever age that happens), it heals me when I remind myself that you can ‘feel’ and that makes it all okay. ‘Okay’ because over the years, those feelings and everything that you go through, will help you to better understand yourself.

So one day, in many years to come when I can comprehend ‘letting you go’ and you have this lovely family of your own (the one that you have imagined and like to talk about, the one that is a lot like ours- If that is what you still want for yourself of course!)… I know that they will have a grown, confident man, who has feelings and understands himself and he will love them with everything that he is…

And when you get there, I will show you this letter and no doubt, you will smile… And I will cry!

All Of My Love Sweetpea,
Mummy xxx

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