Daughter Days

Here is my gorgeous and wonderful daughter, Arabella. She’s funny and cheeky and fierce and sometimes shouty and other times sweet and smart and talkative and lovely.

She starts school next year - I can’t believe it. She’ll only be four! And we get two days a week where we can hang out. So those days, I make sure I am spending quality one on one time with her. Because in only a short a year, that will be gone. It’s already gone with my son, who started school in September. And part of that makes me feel a bit sad. Because it’s out of my control, and I can’t change it. And because it makes me realise how fast this time has gone, and yes, everyone says it, and sometimes it’s annoying to hear, but… the time really does fly by, and will be gone before you know it. And school and friends will take over.

As a family, we stay at home a lot. Weekends are mostly spent in the house or garden, possibly out for a walk, or to extended family’s houses. But both my husband and I, (mostly) cherish this time together. And love to take it slowly, to live slowly, to just do nothing sometimes, but talk and hang out and listen to music and play with our children.

Here are a collection of photos of my daughter at one of our favourite National Trust hang outs - Tyntesfiled.

You Are My Star

It is OK to cry and spread your arms wide
To weep at my side, these are not things to hide.
It is OK to say how much you love me
To ask me to hold you and squeeze you tightly.
It is OK to paint and to play with soft toys
To sing and to dance, to be not like other boys.
It's OK to tell me how you're feeling,
I will never tell you that you are a weakling,
I'll never say, man up and be different,
I just want you to be you, whoever you are.
And I want you to know that you are my star. 
I just want you to know that you are my star. 

Learning from the unexpected.

When I was pregnant and dreaming about my life as a mother, I always thought about how much I could teach my children. But I didn't consider for a moment that my children would teach me - that I might learn from them. 

Three years on, with two children under three - I have happily realised that my children are teaching me, too. They are teaching me about themselves, and about myself, and about joy and magic and laughter and instinct. 

My son experienced his first giant bouncy castle and giant slide at a local fete last weekend. The first thing he did the moment his shoes were off, was to plough himself onto the slide, climbing up the steps and throwing himself down, without a moment's hesitation or worry. Then he buzzed around the bouncy castle. And oh, the happiness! Which was well matched with sorrow when it was time to leave. Although his misery was abruptly ended with an offering of a biscuit.

I am realising more than ever about about the power of simplicity. And the days go by, my desire to live a simple life is growing stronger. I am turning off my phone more. I'm restricting and lessening the amount of mindless and not-so-mindless stuff that I let seep into my skin and my bones and my heart, that pulls at me until I burn out and feel doom and gloom. I just cannot take on that amount of information! I don't have the space or the time or the energy. It's what social media and the internet have brought upon me. And I'm getting tired of it. I'm looking elsewhere. I'm seeking something else, something more, something deeper, something meaningful, something personal.

But more than anything, I am learning what it means to truly live in the moment, as children do. Without anticipation or fear or worry of what lies ahead. Not yet. Thanks goodness, not yet. 

When I went in to check my sleeping children last night, I passed and I breathed them in, and savoured their beautiful smell. their unique little beings, their innocence. Their capacity for happiness and joy and wonder. And well, my heart just about burst. 

Hello Sunshine.

Ah... here are my two little rays... warm and sweet, happy and yummy and oh, the littlest smells wonderful! The largest smells nice too, mostly. But not when he's 'washing' his own face with his hand. "My washing mummy". This boy likes cats. Or does he? I mean, he does, but he thinks they are hilarious and sort-of-a-little-bit terrorises/plays with Mouse (our cat). She's very good and doesn't seem to mind though. And it is entirely my own fault!  

But aren't they beautiful though? I mean, they are really beautiful. And I love hanging out with them and feel so grateful. But in case you didn't know, being a mum is actually the hardest job in the world. I don't care what anyone else says. Because it is.

In fact, I uttered those very words only today to a friend, as I had my biggest on my left hip, and my littlest in her car seat under my right arm, with a bag on my back, walking into a whooshing wind.

Oh and did I mention I've been getting up every 1/2/3 hours for the last several weeks? The 4/5/6 month sleep regression, or whatever you want to call it. But as with my eldest, I resign myself and my sleep for the first year - totally. I will just be there. And suck it up. Because it's only a year. And there are no regrets that way. 

So... here they are. My children. 

And here I am. Well, not all of me, but some. The some I can lend for the time being... with my tired eyes and aching bones. And with that, to the sofa for ten minutes to sit with my husband, and massage feet. Then... to bed!  

There's something about Carmen

I took these when I was living in Australia. I think Carmen and Archie were the first Mother and baby I photographed. I'm not sure if it's just me, but there's something about these images that really gets me. And I think it's Carmen.  

Perhaps it's because I witnessed what a gentle and strong Mother she was. Carmen had Archie at home in a birthing pool. It was a really long and intense labour - if she was in hospital, they would have intervened - there's no doubt - but she listened to her body and her instinct and gave birth to Archie naturally. 

Her husband worked the mines - what the Aussie's called FIFO (fly in fly out). Many partners choose this way of life, because it pays so well, so they work 12 hour days, then eat, then go to bed, then get up, work, eat, bed.

There are different work variables, some work one week on, then have one week at home - others work two on two off etc. Carmen's husband was there for two weeks after Archie was born, but then he worked for nine weeks, so that they could go on holiday to see Carmen's sister, who had recently moved much further away with her three children. 

Archie needed to wear these boots for 23 hours a day (shown in the photo) - to help correct his club foot.  And it just really struck me how she was doing this all on her own. 

Just her and her baby. And the never ending washing, feeding, rocking, shushing... you don't see much daylight in those early days. And it can get really lonely. But you do it. And you love this little person so much, it hurts, it stings... it weighs you down. But this small person is your warmth, your light and your life. 

Being me.

As with everything, you need confidence and belief in what you do. If it's not there, then your audience won't believe in you. And just because you're not your idol, your inspiration... doesn't mean you're not wonderful in your own special way. 

Listening to your instinct is equal in importance. Do what comes naturally. Be yourself. And believe you're worthy. 

I'm referring mostly to my photography, but this is so true with motherhood and relationships too... and many other things. 

We spend so much time comparing ourselves, seeking reassurance from others, and thinking we 'should' be doing this, or looking like her or him, taking photos like that, and putting my baby to sleep like the book says, etc. 

When really we should be spending that time and energy on being who we already are, in pursuing our strengths, in loving ourselves, in loving others.