Ellenah Is Starting School

Today is the day that my beautiful little girl starts primary school. My beautiful little girl  who has lived wildly and free throughout this summer. My little Ellenah with the grazed knees, muddy tan, bright blonde hair and big blue eyes. She still smells like summer. A little like freshly cut grass, berry stained finger tips, campfires and salty beads of sweat from a lot of running around, through the tree’s and out into the open space of the countryside.

Ellenah Is Starting School

The summer holidays are officially over…and with it goes our freedom to stay up late making Pinterest smores and snuggling under blankets so that she can fall asleep, her face aglow from the flickering fire that kept us warm.

Ellenah Is Starting School

And instead of the lazy mornings spent eating fruit salads, reading stories, playing hide and seek and making the day wait for us… suddenly, time caught up with us. And instead of the little summer shoes by the front door, now there are some black, patent school shoes which light up. They go beautifully with her little, grey skirt and emblemed, blue cardigan (which make her eyes smile). She has a book bag, a p.e. bag, plimsolls and some cute little gym shorts which make her legs look like twigs. It’s all labelled. All labelled with the name that she has spent the summer perfecting how to write. Ellenah. It is all ready to go.

But is she? Am I ready for her to leap into her next chapter?

Ellenah Is Starting School

Everything that I am has gone in to raising my daughter. Ever since I saw those lines on that pregnancy test I have tried my hardest to be everything that she will ever need from a mother. And even though some days she can be defiant, strong willed and dare I say it, tough… I love her unconditionally. I have loved watching her find out who she is. I have loved being a part of it. I love how she surprises me, everyday. I love how kind she can be. And even before all of this… I loved watching her learn to walk, talk, sing and dance. I loved watching her feed herself, hold her own cup, learn how to use her knife and fork. I have enjoyed watching her learn, reach her milestones and keep achieving. I have also held it close to my heart that she has let me play my part in it. She has let me play a role in her life. She has let me care for her, teach her and be there with and for her…each step of the way.

And now, things will have to change for us both.

Today, I have to wave goodbye to her at the same classroom door that started Noah’s ‘school chapters’. I have to stand there and hope that I don’t break..or at least that she doesn’t see it if I do. I have to let her say goodbye to me and me to her. I have to walk away. Without her. I have to start letting her go. I have to start letting her grow up and find out who she is, more than ever. She needs to know who Ellenah is…away from me.

It isn’t going to be easy.

I look at her and cuddle her at night before she goes to sleep and she is still so small in my arms, still so tiny. Still my perfect baby girl…Isn’t she?!

Ellenah has been waiting for this moment. She is desperate to know how to read and she loves playing with others. Every single day this summer, she has asked me how long there is left until her first day at school. Her smile has beamed when i’ve told her ‘it isn’t long now!’

Ellenah Is Starting School

As she goes off today to embark on her school career, I will wonder which miniature chair is hers. I will wonder if her desk has a slide out tray. I will wonder who she will sit next to and hope that she gets a seat by the window. I will think of her peg where she will hang her coat and bags. I will imagine her in her first nativity play where she may be cast as an angel. I will think of the mothers day service at the church, the easter celebrations…sports day! I will feel excited when I picture her trotting out of school happily, searching for my smile in the crowd of mums and leaping over to tell me about her day. When I think about it for a few moments, I can feel her arms wrap around me. I can feel her warmth. I can hear her say ‘hello!’… and I am so excited for her.

As she goes off today to embark on her school career, I will hope that she remembers her manners and how important it is to be polite, to say please and thank you. I hope that she will be kind-hearted to her school friends. I hope that she cares about their feelings. I hope that she is respectful of her teachers and of everything that they try to teach her. I hope that my sometimes slightly feral little girl continues to blossom and shine just like she always does and in the way that always brightens every day.

Ellenah Is Starting School

Today will be hard. Everything is changing.

But…

I want Ellenah to be everything that she can be. I want her to know and understand as much as she can. I want her to know about herself, that she is a force to be reckoned with. A beautiful force of energy who can make her dreams come true, whatever they may be…but she has to start somewhere, start small. I want her to fall in love with learning things. I want her to soak up as much as she can because knowledge is power. I want her to build true friendships with people who she will treasure in her adult years. I want her to have the freedom to love school without her worrying about me missing her.

I want her to be happy, always. I’m confident that school will make her happy…so how could I ever be sad?

Love, Ria x

 

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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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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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Katie Fay's Bridal Shower

This afternoon, Ellenah and I walked to pre-school together. The sun was warm, radiant and beautiful as it shone over the gorgeous pink blossoms which are standing strong in the transition between seasons. We held hands and talked about life through her eyes. Her doll with the purple hair who she calls ‘Love Heart’ was poorly today and she had spent the morning nursing her better and sharing her strawberries with her. I was asked to check on her as soon as I returned home. I was asked to hug her and make sure that she wasn’t hungry or thirsty. Of course, I agreed! What mother wouldn’t play along with such a pretty little game and one that brings out such a sweet side to her littlest child? She hasn’t always played like this. In fact, her imagination and ability to dive in to role play or the make believe, well…this is new territory.

As we walked, I couldn’t help but compare Ellenah to the blossoms that we shimmied past.

In my bag were the documents that would confirm her place at school in September. In my bag were the documents that identified me as her mother and Ellenah as my child… because her having the same hair as I once did, the same love to dance, the same stubbornness or the same smile wasn’t enough proof. In my bag was my signature which officially decided her next steps, next chapter… her path. And once I had handed her over to her lovely key workers to join in with ‘Rising Fives’ (school preparation)… I would walk the few steps to her future school reception and enrol her into the system, in to her school career.

It was a quick process, we made small talk about over subscriptions and what I will do without any children to run around after throughout the school day… and I could feel a surge of emotion burn my chest. I could feel how badly I wanted to cry. I could feel how badly I didn’t want to think about it or face my reality. I could feel how badly I wanted to change my mind and be selfish. I could feel how badly I craved a little more time.

Anyway, back to the blossom and my little girl. Just like the beautiful flowers that pop up when we least expect them, I hoped that Ellenah would do the same. She has always been beautiful but for a long while I had worried about her readiness to face school with the other children her age. Her interest in anything learning wasn’t where the parenting books thought it ‘should be’ I suppose. I feared that she would be behind and she would struggle. Her speech was delayed…which was no problem to me, I knew that (just like her brother) she would get it when she was ready. And suddenly, out of nowhere she did. Much like the blossom, Ellenah popped up out of nowhere and astounded us all with just how much she knew, how much she was keeping in, holding back and just how ready she is.

And quite sadly, like the pink blanket of surprise around us right now, this time will pass and I will have to send her to school in September… And It will be exactly what she is ready for. She will have her hair in two braids on her first day, pleats in her skirt, sensible shoes, a book bag and her lunch box. She will smile nervously while her big, blue eyes will be wide with excitement…and she will wave me goodbye at her classroom door. I will cry once she has gone. I know this because I could cry right now. I will feel like a little more of me is missing. And…my little heart will ache for a while.

And…over the years I will remember this day, the blossom and my little girl. As she grows and continues to surprise me with all that she does, all that she is and all that she grows to be.

Blossom And My Little Girl

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Faversham Hop Festival is so special to me. I have grown up with it. It is a strong link to my childhood and many happy memories. Some of my earliest memories actually. I have a photograph of a young, blonde girl standing in the crowds of people singing, morris dancers jigging, stalls of wonder and joy. The girl was nervous to the core because she was holding a baby owl… that girl was me! I remember feeling so worried at the time, that it might not like me… it may fly away…scratch me even! I felt unnerved about many things back then- weary, unsure…shy! Thankfully the owl didn’t do any of those things, it was actually lovely. I remember treasuring that photograph for such a long time after that day, like it was a huge achievement, a reminder that I could be brave… And honestly, I have loved woodland creatures ever since.

A Little Ria (Aged 6)

Hops

Over the years, Faversham Hop Festival changed for me. It changed from a family day out where I could spend my pocket money, choose friendship bracelets and beads from the hippie stalls and somewhere that I would search out old, musty, second-hand books that I would escape in. A place that I would awkwardly bop along to the bands and tunes that would cascade over my oldie-worldie home town… somewhere that I would hold baby owls!

 

Cider Stall

Chutneys + Honey

It became one of the main social events of my year as I grew in to early adulthood. It was there that I bumped in to old friends who I hadn’t seen for ages, fell in love, danced with abandon, laughed until I couldn’t breathe, fell in love…again, discovered vodka, lemonade and lime (my tipple of choice to this day), wore flowers and hops in my hair, stumbled upon ‘Hop Fest After Hours’ when the crowds dispersed… Lock-ins were a must, flame and chain throwers hustled the stragglers gathered in the market place and conversations in to the night were had up on my old school bridge with someone special.

I’m sure grateful for that time, space and freedom to grow and learn. It has mattered somewhat, to the person who I have grown up to be.

And…

Now it has changed again.

Maria Noell

This year, I was a mama in the midst of ‘The Hop Festival’ chaos. I went VERY easy on ‘The Tipple’, appreciated the stalls once again, spent time with friends and people I truly love… I bopped along to the bands and sang along a bit, wore hops in my hair and smiled…much!

Great Friends

Katie + Me

I felt balanced out. Like I was reliving a bit of every phase of growing up, with it ending up exactly as things should be.

Noey Bon Boey

I witnessed the festival secure a firm spot in the children’s hearts and memory banks, as they played hook the duck, adventured in the fun house and ate ice-creams. All while they listened to the tunes and bands cascade over their oldie worldie home town.

They will look back on photographs of themselves and these days…much like I do the one of me and my baby owl. Their faces so innocent, fresh and excited. Their big eyes taking in everything around them and living life without a care in the world in the world.

Els Bels

They may not remember how their soft, little hands clutched mine as we weaved through the crowds or how I smiled at them for smiling at life around them…or how I stroked Ellenah’s bright, blonde hair gently off of her face so that it wouldn’t end up in her ice-cream…or how the sun beamed over Noah’s smile as he flew into the air on the bungee trampoline… But I will! They are my memories, for my memory bank…and more that I will never forget.

Els & Daddy

Springy Noah

I cherish these memories. I flourished in these times of The Hop Festival and I enjoyed them fully for every reason they should be… for that reason, I would never trade in my here and now to do it all over again.

Back then it was exactly as it should be and it was preparing me for this version of my life. And, I wouldn’t change a single thing!

xoxo

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Originally Written On 08/10/2015