March.

Dear Babies,

When we are dancing, to records I used to play, on Saturday nights; and your little bodies are spinning, spinning and your little faces are laughing, laughing, I am filled with the knowing, that there is no where so sweet as now.

I have never just loved where I am. Not known how to be still, have rushed and pushed and run toward a future; always desperate for ‘something to happen’.

And then there was you; and you slowed me down. Made me look up and out, instead of down and in. Connected me.

And the more I listen to that, to you, to all the lessons you have brought with you, the happier I am.

Mabel; you are infinitely sweet. When you were a baby, and you lived in my lap, I could literally kiss you to sleep. 1000 kisses a day seems to be your requisite – we’re the same in that way. I am doing my best to get you to stand up to your brother, when he does something you don’t like; making sure you have a voice, and the confidence to use it. You told him the other day, ‘Don’t treat me like a toy! I’m a robot!’, which was so cool and empowered I would have given you a high-five, but I like to let you just be in your own radness sometimes, to find solidity there, in who you are; to trust your own reactions without need for affirmation. You boss us all around, constantly. You don’t like to wear dresses, but on the occasions you do, you tell me they are for dancing, so we try out a few moves. You say ‘ya’ instead of ‘you’ and the other day when you couldn’t remember the name of your tounge, you told me you didn’t need your face washed because you’d ‘Use your licker’. You make me cry with laughter.  You’d rather be a pirate than a princess.

Theo; your comprehension is incredible. You process best when given all the information, which I can see you sorting in your mind, adding up, finding validity within your understanding, working out how things are. You are perceptive and persistent. You have great big feelings – we’re the same in that way. I do my best to support you through them, to provide you a place of stillness, to be the constant you can always come back to when you’ve gone to far. Remember, little love, no matter how far you go, you can always turn around. You ask me amazing questions all day. ‘Why are the crackers being quiet?’, when we haven’t sealed their container properly, and the air has made them lose their crunch. ‘What is that light dancing in the water?’, the windows reflected in the bath, I say. ‘That’s interesting’, you tell me. ‘What’s that hook for?’, it’s for a chain to connect the plug with the bathtub so you don’t lose it, I tell you. ‘That’s clever’, you say. You’re three, I tell myself.

We are constantly learning from one another. All the time finding out how to best be ourselves. You have brought out the best in me. Your very existence has made me finally appreciate my own.

Thank you for being you. And thank you for being mine.

Love, Mama xx

January.

Feburary.

February.

 

This morning I was woken up by you bringing me the phone. ‘It’s for you, Mama’, Theo said as he handed over the reciever. ‘Hello, this is the 111 Operator. Do you have an emergency?’.

‘Mama! I love your big bum!’ Mabel roared in the background.

 

Yesterday Mabel was sitting opposite me in the lounge; pink leggings tucked into rainbow socks in red polka dot shoes. Theo beside her, every item he wore was striped, as usual. You were dimunitive there, swamped in cushions and beseiged by animals. It is strange to notice how small you are; because who you are is so big. The vastness of your presence, your importance; the enormity and complexity of your personalities.

‘You have a big personality’, I am sure people will say to you, as they have done to me. And it may take time for it to not feel somehow backhanded; like you are somehow too much, or that you should try and be less in some way, so others can be more. In times like that, please remember, that you can never shine too brightly. And that those who shine brightest often do so to lead other people out of the darkness. That’s what you did for me. I was at sea and you were the stars that I swam towards. You are the light of my life; and I finally understand what that means.

So it is funny when the world around you makes me notice that you are big, or long, or little, or round. Because whatever you are, you always feel just right to me.

Another thing to remember, when you are older, and I tell you not to buy a cream coloured couch, like my Mother told me, when I was young and reckless and only cared about form over function, please listen. Because 5 years later it will be so ruined by your potential future children and your potential future parties and your potential future life, that the exhorbitant cost of the hire purchase repayments will not haunt you so much as your own stupidity.

 

Mabel; you are joy. And you make me laugh so much it causes me physical pain. You dance on my bed every day as I get dressed, “Look at my bum!” you yell at me. “It’s dancing! Look at my bum! It’s singing!”. “What’s it singing?” I ask you. “Bum bum bum! I’m a bum!” you answer. You sing your A,B,C’s like “a b c d e f g, itchy j k, alabuzza p, q r s t u b, w x y z! Now I know my A,B,C’s, now I know my A,B,C’s!”. You followed me down the street to the Dairy earlier, singing at the top of your lungs “NORMAL, NORMAL, NORMAL”.
You sit across from me now, instructing me to assist you into your seat on the couch; your hands are full, you see, with afternoon snacks. You want my glass of water now, “I’m so thirsty!”, you inform me, with great longing. I tell you you are welcome to share mine, but you have to come over here to get it. It’s a battle of wills. And your Mother never loses. Though you did tell your Aunty yesterday about ‘Mama’s sneaky naps’… You like to hold my hand and slide back and forth on the wooden floors, great sweeping movements in your little socked feet. “I’m ice-skating! I’m a butterfly!” you tell me; your whole face a smile.

Theo; you use words like rascal and peckish. You call Hundreds and Thousands, Two-Hundreds, which could just about be my favourite thing ever. You and your sister are deeply into imaginative play. “I’ve got your teeth!’ you tell her. “You want them? Get them! They’re in the box!”, she mimes along. “And the box is locked!”. I yell ‘Gentle!’ from the sidelines and threaten you broadly with various consequences of your various actions. Earlier today you told your sister, “There’s a fire on my bottom!”, before you worked together to put it out with a pretend hose made from a sock.
I realised today, while we laid on the bed and played a game we often do; where hold you like a baby, though you are nearing half my height, and kiss your face wildly and thoroughly while you erupt into giggles and beseech me to stop, until I do, and you tell me ‘AGAIN!’. That when you are small, there is nothing more pressing than the very best thing you could be doing with that moment. Nothing more important than your favourite thing. The worship of fun. Expressions of love. Contentment and happiness. Nothing beyond it.

You are teaching me about the importance of now. How meaningful it is. The richness you have brought with you, and into my life, is boundless. Your love has made me feel worthy, and there is no way to thank you for that, except to kiss you often and help you onto the couch and wipe both your bums and answer your questions and be as much as I can. To be more than I ever realised I could be.

 

I’m grateful, I’m grateful, I’m grateful.

Love, Mama xx

 

(Mabel is stroking my hair with the hand of one of her dollies as I write this. Thank you darling, it really helps the creative process.  Everyone should be so lucky.)

 

So, it sucks and you hate it? – A Love Letter to New Parents.

Just know that I love you. We may not know each other, or maybe we do, and maybe you are reading this now because it applies to you, or it used to, or maybe it will in the future. I love you in those instances too. I love you even though you sleep in your clothes so much there now is no line between clothes and pyjamas and you feel so far away from the you you used to be, it is like a whole new life began with your babies. It did and it didn’t, and there is comfort in both. You are still you, you stinky wreck. And there will be a whole new you after this.

I love you even though your house is spotless but you know, for certain, your baby dosen’t love you. Your baby loves you, but this is the very beginning of your love affair, you know? It takes a while for these things to develop. Even if it was love at first sight, you still have to get to know one another, figure out what you like and don’t like. This is just like any new relationship. Remember that. Taking a while to fall in love does not lessen your bond. Because the most important thing to your baby right now? Food, comfort, sleep, working that poop/gas/vomit out. And you. Always you.

I love you even though you feel like this has all been some kind of mix-up. That you have ended up in a life that you were not looking for, or that you wanted so terribly, that the fact it does not feel like everything you imagined is the worst kind of wrong. A wrong that you feel like might never be right. Give it time. Give it 10 minutes. Give yourself a break. You are strong enough and good enough and you are doing this. You ARE doing it. Just do the best you can, on a case by case basis. Like with everything else. Be patient. Your good things are coming.

I know all the “one day’s’ or the “it’ll be different when’s…” seem so very far beyond imagination. Because you are here, or you were, or you are somedays. And there is nowhere so real as now.

So right now? Open your windows. This was very good advice once given to me. If you can’t do anything else, you can still air your bedroom. Call your person. The person that will listen to everything you have to say, and then tell you a joke. Or tell you they love you. Or who will change the subject completely. Or will ask your opinion on something in the world outside your right now, and value it. Call the person that will make you feel good. Text everyone you know. Shine your sink. Put your kid in a ridiculous outfit. Commune with your dog. Write a list of all your favourite songs as you hear them. Listen to them often. Dance with that bloody screaming baby. Put flowers in every room of your messy house. Be honest with the people who love you about how you are feeling. Be generous enough to let them love you back, even if they don’t say or do all the right things all the time. Remember that sometimes the most important thing is just doing it. Go outside. Change your sheets. Chase your happiness. Say, aloud, ‘it will not always be like this’, because that is true of every situation, and we should choose to see the freedom in that.

And know, when you are crying at the sink or staring at this expectant little face as it screams commands at you in a foreign language, or dying with jealousy at strangers holiday photos, or nothing feels quite right, I love you, and I have been there. And it is going to be okay.

It’ll be better than okay.

January.

 

Dear Babies,

This month has flown. I heard someone say recently, ‘the days are long but the years are short’, and that is exactly how it feels sometimes. The days become undiscernable from one another; a steady roll of mess and laughter and telling the hound not to eat your crackers. But they all have their shining moments, which is in part why I started writing all this. That, and wanting to tell people this story. The story of what all this really looks like; how ridiculous and whole it is. Because it is the biggest story I have ever had to tell. And the one I am most proud of. I am so proud of you both, it is as if the sun is rising in my chest.

You are so good to one another, so kind and generous. It makes me feel like I am doing something right, even though all I am doing is going by feel. Listening to you and hoping I make you feel heard. You are both quite insane, I am sure of it. You chase me around the house every day and do not give me a moments peace. You follow me into the toilet. You yell at me while I am in the shower. You run around and around me on the bed shouting ‘GO TEAM GO’ while I am just trying to write. You cannot take a hint and the hints you do take you completely disregard. You only want to eat dreary old bloody pasta every night for dinner, but will devour whatever I make for myself with ferver and gusto. You make the most noise of any children ever. You never stop asking questions and you say the funniest things I have ever heard. For a full week this month you were obsessed with saying ‘BUMCHEESE!’ and would roar it at one another constantly. I have no idea where you got it (this is a lie – I was very tired, okay? And one cannot be expected to recall all the bloody names of all those bloody trains. Thomas, Percy and Bumcheese seemed feasible.) You do this thing where I am trying to have a lie-in and you run full tit from the lounge into my bedroom and smash your little bodies into my bed that fills me with an impotent rage, but you find it so hilarious I am powerless against it. Even now, you are sat either side me, Mae just fell into me and poked a Christmas card up my nose. She keeps saying, ‘goodness you!’ for reasons I do not understand but am enjoying. You laugh all day. It’s exhausting.

Mae calls lipstick ‘slippers’. This one took me a while to figure out. Among your favourite things to do is to inspect my every beauty spot and freckle with your index finger. My ‘sticky spots’ you call them. You are bright and fearless. If you were a Shakespearean quote you would be ‘And though she be but little, she is fierce!’. That is you down to the ground, Lil’ Boss. You are so kind and gentle and show the greatest concern if anyone gets hurt. You kiss Otto on the cheek and when you say I love you, you say ‘I love you so much!’. It almost hurts how precious you are. I can’t believe you are real. It’s like you got lost on the way from one fairytale to another and decided you’d stick with me. I promise to do whatever I can to live up to how good you are. How good you both are.

Theo, there is nothing you would rather be doing that using the telephone. Or discussing using the telephone. You love the concept of electricity. Your brain goes 100 miles and hour and I know what that’s like. We talk all day. And at night, the nights when things are going too fast, I lie down with you and answer question after question until they are no longer pressing so hard upon you, and then you ask me to pat you for a while, and I do, and you fall asleep. You are bossy and brave. You tell jokes and shake hands with people and say ‘nice to meet you’. You can eat 4 hard-boiled eggs in a single sitting. You always know where everything is. When you don’t want to do something you tell me that you are not feeling well, and when I ask you what’s wrong you tell me that your bones are sore. I know what that’s like too, Bubba. To feel something so deeply it is as if it begins in your bones. But we are together, and we’ll work it out. Like always.

I don’t know if this is how every parent feels. But it is how I feel about you. Right now, in our messy little house in the Summer filled with questions and ice-blocks and 3 in the bed.

If I ever hear ‘WHY, MAMA? WHY?’ again it will be too soon.

Love, Mama xx

Three things it is best to avoid: a strange dog, a flood, and a man who thinks he is wise.

It is always best to tackle a daunting task first thing in the morning. That way, by the time you are actually conscious you will already be halfway through whatever drudgery you have set for yourself. My task this morning was to launder all my bed linen; duvet included.

Having stuffed my king sized duvet in the Fisher & Paykel ‘Gentle Annie’ ( washing machine of 80’s and 90’s childhoods everywhere), even though I know full well that they are wholly incompatible, (Do you ever get that? The idea that your sheer willpower alone will be enough to overcome technical difficulties?) I then set about preparing myself a lavish breakfast, the details of which I will spare you (it involved tofu) and setting down to eat it while the children roared about the house enacting scenes from their various favoured television shows.

It was at this time wherein, Dora the Explorer played by Mabel Tinksybell Ice-Cream (the actress’s preferred title at present) first alerted me to the situation.

Dora/Mabel: ‘Mama! There is a river!’

And, because I am a great believer in imaginative play, and always ready to assume a supporting role, went right along.

Plucky side-kick/Alice: ‘Oh no, Dora! A river! What are we going to do?’

Dora/Mabel: ‘Mama! The river is coming to get me! Mama! The river is in the kitchen!’

She was even standing on a chair at this point, clasping her little hands together. Adorable, I thought. Such commitment to the part.

Enter Buzz Lightyear/Theo.

Buzz Lightyear/Theo: ‘Mama. There is a flood. The washing machine is broken. I will call Pappous to fix it.’

Plucky side-kick/Alice: ‘Oh, bloody hell!’

You know how there are different kinds of ‘Today I flooded the wash-house’? Well today? I bloody flooded the bloody wash-house. Gentle Annie:1. Plucky side-kick/Alice:0.

Buzz Lightyear/Theo: ‘Mama? Is this a good flood? Or a bad flood?’

They will really ask you things like this, usually in moments you are trying to hold back a deluge with a tea-towel.

Sodden side-kick/Alice: ‘Uh…it’s just a flood, Bubba.’

Buzz Lightyear/Theo: ‘Yes. But….’

When I had finally restored some semblance of order and went to return to my breakfast, the cats had licked it all over. So I gave it to the dog. Who rejected it.

Life is made up of moments like this.

But then, when I came to my bedroom to write this, quickly and quietly before I had to return to the 57th rousing rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star that is currently taking place on the front step, I found that the children had made my bed with their own duvets. And it was the best thing that’s ever happened.

Life is made up of moments like this, too.