The Happiness Project: The Reading List

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I try and make time to read every day. (And by that I mean, I’ll attempt to go to bed an hour earlier to fit in some reading,  but then get distracted with laundry/putting away toys/sorting through various objects/watching a particularly inspiring interview on Youtube/chatting to a friend…and end up reading for three minutes at 23:45 before falling asleep. Last night I had a good two hours to myself and what did I do? I went food shopping…) It doesn’t always work out.

At the start of the year I had a goal of reading 36 books this year. I really believed three a month would be manageable. I’ve read 20. (Okay some were plays which I read in a few hours but they still count as books). So 36 was a little over ambitious but the intention was there and I’m still proud of the 20 I have read. And the year’s not over yet.

So here is my reading list for the rest of the year:

1.) The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I’m halfway through this and really enjoying it. It had glowing reviews and I was mesmerised with the author Paulo Coelho’s interview on  Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Plus, my Aunty Ruth had a copy readily available to borrow. (When my Aunty Ruth’s read a certain book, you read that book..)

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2.) Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

This was given to me by my Uncle Ed five years ago and I still haven’t read it. Other books kept cropping up and like many old and worthy reads, this one would get pushed further and further down the line.

My Uncle Ed is one of the wisest, weirdest, most interesting people I know and I could sit and talk to him for hours ( well I have done..). I know some clever people, but he’s probably the most fascinating of them all. Again, if he gives you a book, you frickin read the book, even if you’re five years late. 

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3.) Proof by David Auburn

My drama teacher told me to read a play a week. Unfortunately it has been more like a play a month but I’m determined to change this. Plays can be read in a matter of hours and I know I could finish this one in a weekend.
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4. ) Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

This one’s just to lighten the load really. The other three reads are a little heavy at times so I feel I’ll need something to restore the balance.  No spiritual development, no searching for one’s true destiny, no monologue hunting..Just a witty woman and her hilarious stories. I would also recommend her first book “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?”– I read it and very much felt like I’d made friends with the woman herself.

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“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”

– Oscar Wilde

 

 

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My Week in 5 Things: Dear Crazy Mama

5 things that made my week a little brighter:

  1. THE PRIDE

The pride I felt picking Maia up from Nursery this week.

2. THE SHORT SHORTS

The joy of wearing short shorts again. – The fact that we even had the weather for short shorts. (Because today it’s grey and raining and I wore my thick puffy duffel coat..The short shorts days are over. OVER). 

3. EVENING TRIP TO THE PARK

I took Maia to the park just before dinner. She was adamant she would walk either backwards with her eyes open or forwards with her eyes closed all the way home. She walked into a bush. It made us both laugh.

 Our matchy-matchy far-too-long laces. 

4. THE RE-PAINTING

We had some painters over this week to re-paint the outside of our house. (We’ve lived here for over ten years and it still isn’t finished, interior/exterior/garden, it’s all a work in progress). There were several disputes over the colour of our front door. (I didn’t really have a leg to stand on given it’s not actually my house…) – But I’m actually really pleased with the outcome. The outcome being my parent’s choice of RED. Yep, we have a red front door. Not a bright-blood-red thank goodness, but a deeper-dark-red. It works surprisingly well. It’s also much easier to simply agree with my mother on such trivial matters. Much, much easier.

5. MY MOTHER

Speaking of my mother. We may have our disagreements but the woman’s a frickin Saint. I could not be without her. I mean literally. Not only did she give me life, she also makes sure I still have my life, after giving life myself.  If that makes sense. The kindest, most wonderful, crazy, hilarious woman I know. I love you woman.

Thank you, dear crazy Mama, for everything you do. 

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Maia’s Adventures: “So Happy To See You!”

  1. FIRST DAY OF NURSERY

Maia had her first three days (well half-days) of nursery this week.

Day 1: Dropped her off with no problem. She simply ran off to join the group, leaving me holding back the tears. Didn’t even get a kiss goodbye.

Tears at lunch time when she wanted to try another child’s crisps, and upon pick-up when she saw me but had to wait her turn before running into my arms (a little unfair that she could see me across the room yet was held back as there were other mummies in front of me in the line..) She greeted me with  the words “Mummy I’m so happy to see you!!” (the feeling was mutual, although the four hours flew by, I was beyond relieved to have her back in my arms..all in one piece).

Day 2: Slight hesitation when I dropped her off but no tears.

Teachers said she didn’t actually eat anything at lunch ( which explained why she devoured her cheese sandwich and bread sticks on the way home).

Day 3: Just a “Mummy I don’t want you to go..can you stay and dance with me?” (They were doing singing and dancing..) When her teacher tried to lead her to the group, she said “NO! I want to go there BY MYSELF!”. 

A few tears at lunch but the teacher said only a couple of minutes and completely fine after that.

All in all I am extremely proud of my little darling. I thought the first few days were going to be horrible. I had visions of teachers having to tear her away from me, then having to walk home -sobbing- with hysterical crying in the background. But nope, she was a trooper.

She’s taken this new experience all in her stride and aside from some lunch-box envy and the inevitable “I want my mummy to bring me my usual nice hot food, not this cold-box-crap”.. she seems to be loving it. 

What’s more, seeing her little face light up with I arrive to collect her sends what I can only describe as the-purest-form-of-joy through my veins. That smile is everything.

“Yeh, looks alright.” 

2. THE BREAKFAST CLUB

I ‘ve come to really enjoy mealtimes with Maia. There’s still a lot of coming and going ( on my part), a lot of fetching (milk, water, straws, cheese..). Meals are still one request after another. But for the most part, she is a lot of fun to dine with. (Plus I can munch on crumpets and peanut butter on toast and call it being economical because we wouldn’t want to waste all that salty-no-doubt-highly-nourishing-goodness would we…).

Here she is on Friday morning. Her first experience with cornflakes and the crumpet I later ate. And yes that dog spent most of Friday morning at her side. She always has a soft toy to accompany her at breakfast.

 

3. DANCE PARTY IN MUMMY’S BEDROOM

She loves to dance. As does her mother. At the moment we’re into 80’s Classics. I managed to keep her still for a total of 20 seconds to take these photos. No I didn’t plan the matchy-matchy white shirts.

4. RAINY DAY BAKING

The glorious sunshine had to end eventually. So we baked. Sugar-free banana bread-in-a-cake-tin and not-so-sugar-free chocolate chip cookies. There was a lot of “MUMMY CAN I MIX?” Of course I let her mix..and then I kindly took over, because we don’t want lumpy bumpys in our perfectly-imperfect cookies now do we (..and because I was beginning to lose my cool with all the flour going everywhere and her demands to add more water to an already watery mixture.) I find baking with a toddler highly stressful. “YES YOU CAN CRACK THE EGG, NO, NOT DIRECTLY INTO THE MIXTURE UNLESS YOU WANT CHOC-CHIP-EGG-SHELL-COOKIES”…)

5. PAINTING IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS

We had some painters over to re-paint our house. Maia wanted to join them so I said instead of climbing on the roof with them – as safe and child friendly as this would be – I compromised and said we could do some painting outside. (*She is post-bath here, hence the slick locks).

 

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Confessions of a Single Mother: TODDLERHOOD

Sometimes I forget I am the parent of a toddler.

I wonder “why am I so exhausted? What’s wrong with me? I haven’t even left the house yet!”

And then this happens:
“We’re going to the library now darling”.
“…I DON’T WANT TO GO TO THE LIBRARY, I WANT ICE-CREAM, NOW MUMMY I WANT WHITE ICE CREAM NOW…”

And I am reminded exactly why.

I forget that this is one of the hardest times, that all toddlers hold the power to push their weary parents to the limit, and that the tantrums, sulking and incessant demands are very very normal.

I forget that toddlerhood, by nature, is extremely tough for all parents.

But however standard their behaviour, however universal, however common it is for our tiny humans to go through seven different emotions – Bi-Polar, they are ALL bi-polar – in the space of 30 seconds; it doesn’t make it any easier for us. It doesn’t make the battle of wills any less challenging, though it is reassuring to know we will all go through the same daily tests of patience and persistence. (And endurance, lets not forget endurance). And that we can all laugh and cry about it together later, at some point, in the distant future, when we’re not doing laundry or cutting crusts off triangular pieces of toast.

I’ve been reading the same parenting book for months now; dipping in and out of it, taking notes, going back over chapters. I want to take it all in because it’s one piece of parenting literature that is– and this word makes me cringe a little but I am going to use it anyway – hugely EMPOWERING. I actually think it feeds me special-parenting-energy every time I read it. It has words of wisdom that I just want to hand out in little booklets at maternity wards across the world.

I will do more of a summary of this book when I’m ready to give it back to the library, including some of the practical advice that the remarkable Dr Tsabary offers, but for now I just want to share some extracts from one chapter describing the crazy-stage that is toddlerhood. These words really made me smile and brought me a lot of comfort in their spot-on description, reminding me once again, that what I am experiencing is very much the norm.

Extracts from The Conscious Parent by Dr Shefali Tsabary (Clinical Psychologist):

“As a child’s desire to express its uniqueness kicks in, it heralds a trying time for parents. Children in the two’s can be exasperating, draining us of patience. We tell them to go here, and they go there. We tell them up, and they choose down. We tell them no, and they scream or wail until we experience unbecoming fantasies of what we would do we them if only we could get away with it.

“Unpredictable and impetuous, manipulative and attention-seeking, they can be moody, sullen, clingy, defiant, rowdy and tempestuous. We spend hours taking them to activities, arranging fun times with friends, preparing for their birthday party, and yet they are ungrateful and exploitive. Ravenous in their greed, they love us when they want something, whereas the next moment it’s as if we didn’t exist.”

“Toddlerhood is a planet all in its own. Nothing prepares us for the onslaught of its wrath or the endearing confusion of its budding independence.

“…The child who is perfectly angelic one minute can turn into a raving lunatic the next. The sweet-tempered tot can become a finger-biting terror in an instant….

“…Toddlerhood is a chaotic phase of a child’s life both emotionally and physically. Messy, undefined, disorderly, ever-changing, and unpredictable, there are no neat and tidy answers here. No broom is wide enough to sweep away the dust, grit and grubbiness of toddlerhood.

“…While this phase often feels impossible for both parent and child, it’s truly magnificent to witness. This is the phase in which the child’s sense of self begins to blossom, as it begins to explore its creativity, curiosity, and independence. Toddlers are spectacular, invincible in their fantasies, limitless in their potential. They want to fly high in the sky, sail the seven seas, explore the world, and stay awake till dawn….

“As we watch our toddler’s insatiable curiosity for life, we are reminded that we too can engage the moment with full abandon, living in wonder and awe….”

Oh I’m in awe alright. From the tears to the laughter, the mundane to the magical. I’m in awe of my daughter every, single, day.

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Confessions of a Single Mother: F*** Mummy Guilt

Mummy guilt is everywhere. I mean it’s literally there waiting for me at every turn:

It’s there when I lose my temper.

When I give in to my daughter’s pleas for anything with too much sugar.

When she asks for the iPad.

When she politely requests for her nails to be painted when I know she shouldn’t be inhaling the chemicals.

When I glance at my phone for a little too long when I’m with her.

When I leave her downstairs on her own for a moment to pee then get distracted and end up putting laundry away/tidying up.

When I take her to the park and I think “This is getting boring. I could be at the gym right now”.

When I have any thought that appears to be taking this precious time I have with my daughter for granted.

When I think of going away for a weekend and leaving her with my parents.

When she’s taking her time on the stairs and I think “Jesus how long does it take..”.

When I dropped her off at nursery and felt a great sense of relief.

When I told a friend I couldn’t wait for her to be full-time at school.

When I told her off for spinning around in my room as I was scared she’d hit her head on the corner of my bed, but it came out as a rather firm: “STOP IT” (She would have heard it as “STOP ALL THIS FUN”) meanwhile I was busy applying bronzer as I hadn’t worn make up in a while and had forgotten what a healthy glow looked like. I explained I didn’t want her to hurt herself but the look on her face said it all: “Mummy, why are you so angry looking? What have I done wrong? I’m enjoying my own company as you’re too busy putting brown stuff on your face, and you won’t let me play with your special brown stuff…” .

And the list goes on.

It’s like I’m just looking for reasons to feel crap about my parenting. It’s so easy to tally up all the bad stuff, the weaker moments, we forget to notice all the great stuff. – The healthy meals, the bed-time stories, the most hilarious bath-times, the various activities, the playdates, the little outings, the moments we are 101% present with our children, the special little conversations you just want to replay over and over, the moments we’re just plain silly and completely let loose with them, all that singing and dancing.

Then I have moments where I just feel plain shit.  -That I’m truly the worst; too young to be a parent and feeling like the older mothers must have experiences they can draw upon that I haven’t had yet, that they must have more patience for their children. They’re older and wiser but how does their parenting compare to mine? No no, I tell myself, don’t compare, it’ll only get you down, just remember Maia has got her older and wiser Grandma around to teach her all the stuff that twenty-three year old Mummy may not have learnt yet.

I feel as though we’re all a little too hard on ourselves. Okay very very hard on ourselves. Almost like a real internal beating some days. I forget I am a human being with feelings and emotions, not a robot designed to operate at maximum capacity all day long, never losing its cool or falling out of place.

Maia might never learn to like kale, she might always watch a bit too much Peppa and overhear the word F*** every now and again; but she has a mother that always does her best, every day, and this is what matters. I am always striving to be a better parent – I read the parenting, personal development and nutrition books FFS. I don’t half-arse anything.

So now, if I catch myself-mid-tantrum – thinking; “Well this sucks, I’m way too young to be doing this, Maia deserves better than me. She deserves a woman with more life-experience, more patience, just someone BETTER..”…I stop myself. I stop the madness before it escalates into “HERE GRANDMA YOU HAVE HER AND I’LL GO TAKE YOUR JOB…”. I quickly calm the crazy.

We mothers experience “THE GUILT” whatever our situation because whichever way you look at it, it’s never quite perfect, and of course we all want to get it just right. Stay at home mums feel guilty that they’re not earning money, and then feel guilty for wishing they were at work. Working mums feel guilty they don’t have more time with their kids. Working stay at home mums feel guilty they can’t give their children their full attention when at home. – All the while simply doing what we have to, what works for our families because often we don’t have a choice…We feel guilty about doing something we have to do. And we feel guilty about choosing to work because it looks as though we don’t want to spend every waking hour with our wonderful children and what does this say about us?… –THE GUILT IS ALL MADNESS, ITS ALL MADNESS. I can see where it originates, it comes from a good place, from not wanting to f*** up as a parent, it comes from wanting to be the best for our children, give them the very best start in life and show them how much love and care for them…but here’s the thing: they know how much we love and care for them, and they are getting the very best start in life. 

I recently watched a video by two hilarious, crazy, pretty darn fabulous mothers that altered my hard-hitting and self-deprecating stance. It was called “FUCK MOM GUILT”. It listed all the reasons mothers have to feel guilty. And there are many when you list them all out. Of course none of them are particularly reasonable; they’re all geared towards a perfect existence where everything is ideal and everyone at their best. We could spend all day every day feeling guilty about all the things we’re getting “wrong”, or not quite perfect, or that Sally mummy of four down the street is doing so much better than us. OR we could say “Y’know, my kids are healthy, they’re happy, we’re good people, I’m not doing so bad..”. It made me realise: you can never win, because it will never be good enough, because we all have high such standards. There will always be someone else “doing better than you”, and THAT’S OKAY. YOU’RE DOING GREAT. YOU’RE DOING YOUR BEST. You’re truly an extraordinary human and you do not deserve to put yourself through any kind of guilt, motherhood is hard enough as it is. Trust yourself and trust your instincts because your child is just as happy and healthy as the next…

So I decided after this video to F*** Mummy Guilt.  Calling BULLSHIT on all the: “Aren’t you an awful Mummy for letting her sleep at 10pm..This could be permanently damaging you know.” A lot of what we tell ourselves is bollocks, and we need to remember this. We need to set an example and be kind to ourseleves, believe in ourseleves and our children will do the same.

Now, every time I feel a pang of guilt for anything I know I don’t need to feel guilty about; I literally say “FUCK YOU MUMMY GUILT, YOU HAVE NO HOME HERE, YOU’RE NOT HELPING ME, FUCK RIGHT OFF”.

And it usually does.

And we’re all happier for it.

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My Week in 5 Things: Beyond Proud



5 things that made my week a little brighter:

  1. ) Handbagged.

Now my Dad doesn’t usually take up any offers to go to the theatre with me. He fell asleep at both Swan Lake and Wicked. He’s not into musicals or plays. But when I said this particular play was all about Margaret Thatcher and the Queen (basically written for him), and that it was completely sold out with only two seats left, at our local theatre so no travel costs, with amazing reviews, he couldn’t really turn me down. He loved it. We both found it hilarious and really quite professional, it may be called Am-Dram but there was nothing amateur about it, these actors could be professional.

2.) All the Visiting.

Two of Maia’s nursery teachers came to visit us at home last week. It was mainly for Maia to meet them in her own environment and for me to ask any questions. If I had any doubts about my daughter’s confidence, they’ve now disappeared. Maia loves new people. They walked in and she immediately started talking, showing them to our living room –“this is the sitting room!” – then proceeding to show them her toys and sing them several nursery rhymes. She told them about our family and how she was looking forward to meeting her friends. I even left her for a few minutes whilst I made tea and she stayed with them talking. Not a drop of hesitation with these new faces. They said she clearly had good language and was very confident. I was beyond proud.

Maia also had a one hour visit to her nursery this week, with me there to see how she got on. She loved it of course. We arrived during snack time and she sat down with the others, singing her nursery rhymes as the others sat in silence eating. I knew in that moment she’d be just fine at nursery.

 

3.) Painting Maia’s nursery. 

Last week parents of Maia’s nursery were asked – if they could – to lend a hand painting and re-decorating the nursery. Now I love painting, paper or walls, and I knew I ought really to contribute, I didn’t want to be one of those parents that never got involved – so I dug out my old Primark jeans and went over to help. I spent 90 minutes in a little-person’s-three-cubicle-bathroom, chatting to a couple of Dad’s (also painting) and sweating as I rolled up and down and up and down with the same shade of creamy-greyRollers are more tiresome than brushes, those things take some muscle power.

4.) BUY THE DAMN ACRYLICS.

This picture alone brings me a lot of joy. New art supplies excite the hell out of me. (I don’t buy them often, they’re far too expensive, but when WHSmiths has a sale you buy the damn acrylics). And I actually had a couple of hours this weekend to use them when Maia spent the afternoon with her Dad.

5.) Run Mummy Run.

Sunday morning I woke bright and early to go for a run outdoors (well sort of early, and I didn’t feel so bright but that all changed..) I ran twice round some nearby lakes and only stopped once for a little break after the first round. Normally outside I stop several times to walk, but this time if I felt like walking I’d just lighten my footing and jog gently, I felt very well paced and in control, almost as if I knew what I was doing... I rarely run outside, I’m so used to the treadmill, but with the sun shining and my need for some fresh air, it made sense to go somewhere where I could enjoy the scenery, rather than be glued to a machine indoors. Plus, I’m trying to do something different/new every week. Friday night I went swimming..( This isn’t new, but I certainly don’t swim often..)

(*Yes, all this exercise is great but I make sure to balance it with hefty sums of sugar. Yesterday I came home so tired, instead of going straight to bed like the average well-balanced-individual, I shoved two small slices of cake into my face. I mean yes it was delicious and I wasn’t even taken over with feelings of regret, but it would be nice to enjoy the fruits of all the running and jumping around without counteracting it with the likes of a heavenly Victoria Sponge..…)

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Maia’s Adventures: CHASE ME MUMMY

Some of Maia’s little adventures this week:

1.) The Library

We love the library. There’s just so much fun to be had.  We don’t really get much reading done as she prefers to run up and down the aisles hiding from me – my favourite memory is when I bumped into a Mummy friend and got chatting, within seconds Maia had disappeared, I thought she’d left the building and had visions of her being kidnapped or hit by a car but she was found sixty terrifying seconds later sat playing happily on her own in the kid’s corner. – Parenting FAIL to the worst degree right there, seeing a friend and thinking it was appropriate to have a thirty second conversation, losing focus from my child and risking losing her in the process.  I learnt my lesson that day; never, even for a moment, divert your attention away from your tiny human in public.

Oblivious to my triple-panic-attack, Maia continues to run away from me at every opportunity in the library.

2.) Pre-Breakfast Masterpiece

It was 8am and we hadn’t had breakfast but that didn’t matter. For Maia, it was not time for food, but for paint. And not her kiddie-Tesco-paints either. Nope, she wanted to use Mummy’s acrylics. So with careful supervision and the teeniest helpings of paint (I’m a little precious about my art supplies, okay very precious) we spent approximately four minutes creating this masterpiece (below). She was very specific about wanting to use only BROWN paint, so we compromised on adding other autumnal shades to avoid the piece looking…well.. poop-smeared.

3.) CHASE ME MUMMY

We do a lot of chasing. Chasing around the lawn, around the house, to the park, around the park..I get a lot of “CHASE ME MUMMY!!!” and it occurs to me how much faster she is than she used to be. She can walk for much longer and run twice as fast. It’s scary how quickly she’s growing from a baby to a child. I mean it literally scares me thinking about how fast it’s all happening. I’m proud yet petrified.

She’s been wearing her new converse trainers a lot this week (a gift from her wonderful Aunty Berlyn). They were well received: “I LOVE MY NEW RUNNING TRAINERS MUMMY!”…

4.) Blackberry Picking

I had to refrain from saying “DON’T EAT IT” every time she picked one. (I’m not one of those cool-laid back earth mummies that lets their kids eat berries straight from the bushes, no no, dogs pee in those bushes so pick the high ones and wash them first please..)

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5.) Saying CHEESE

Maia never used to pose for photos ( and we still have moments where she’ll tell me to PUT YOUR SONE AWAY MUMMY!” (Sone, not phone, still working on that ‘Fa’ sound..) but now she loves saying cheese and posing so I can finally get that much coveted non-blurry shot. Certainly makes life a little easier.

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Maia’s Adventures: You are my Sunshine

5 of Maia’s Little Adventures this week:

1.) Virginia Water. This is probably my favourite place to take Maia. Big open spaces, beautiful gardens and of course several ice-cream vans; it’s the perfect place for a toddler to run wild.

I ate 3/4 of this, obviously. I kept taking it off her to “tidy up the sides”, A) so it wouldn’t drip all over her and B) so she wouldn’t consume quite as much sugar. I call this strategic parenting, even better parenting would be to not buy the ice-cream in the first place but when you’re surrounded by passers by all with ice-creams and happy children, it’s sort of hard to say no to: “MUMMY I WANT A WHITE ICE-CREAM.. Mummy?…MUMMY A WHITE ICE-CREAM!!!!!”. 

2.) BEE-FEE. It would be an understatement to say: Maia loves dogs. If I could bring home a Labrador for her tomorrow just to see the look on her face, I would, but sadly I just don’t have the money or the patience to raise an animal as well as a child, nor do we have the home for it.

We had lunch with Cathy this week, and she brought with her Phoebe; the friendliest most lovable creature who of course Maia couldn’t get enough of. She shrieked and giggled with excitement with Phoebe’s every move. What really made us all laugh was the fact Maia -prior to meeting Phoebe – couldn’t pronounce the letter ‘F’. She started by calling Phoebe ‘SeeBee’ as I expected her to. She then began calling her BeeFee. – This first time we’d ever heard her say the ‘Fee’ sound. BeeFee didn’t seem to mind.

3.) BERTIE. From one dog to the next, Maia’s had her fill of canine joy this week. When Maia was only a few weeks old, one of the first times I took her out for a walk in the cold October air, we bumped into two little old ladies and their dogs. We’d chat and they’d admire the baby, they’d tell me about their families – Pam has five sons. Over the weeks and months, I’d bump into them over and over, and they’d see Maia grow from a gurgling baby to walking and talking toddler. We bumped into Pam and her 13 year old dog Bertie yesterday and had our usual little catch up. Our conversations always makes me smile and sometimes when I’m a little grumpy or when Maia’s mid-tantrum, I’ll bump into her and she’ll lift me out of my slump. “Gosh, hasn’t she grown! I remember when she was just a tiny little baby!”.

Obviously Maia was besotted with dear old Bertie.

4.) Park Life. Maia goes to the park nearly everyday. I never know how it’s going to turn out. Sometimes we’ll stay for three minutes and she’ll want to leave, other times it’ll be an hour and I have to carry her home screaming because I’m desperate for a wee.

5. You are My Sunshine. I started singing this to her months ago and she now knows all the words and loves singing it to anyone and everyone, including passers by at the park. Now I get a lot of: “Mummy can we sing My Sunshine together?”. And we do, and it’s magical.

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey, you never know dear, how much I love you, you make my sun shine every day.”

Her little singing voice is truly the most beautiful, wonderful thing I’ve ever heard.

See my Instagram for the video.

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My Week in 5 Things

5 things that made my week a little brighter:

  1. My mother and her camera. She would spend all day every day taking photos if she could. On long car journeys she’ll take photos of flowers and road signs and beautiful buildings. She takes hundreds of Maia. I used to complain sometimes: “Mum, hurry up, why do you need 1000 photos?!” But now I realise this is her mindfulness, this is her way of taking in the moment, enjoying the view and creating memories. She’s captured some of the most beautiful moments with Maia. I’ll always be grateful, because now I have each and every one of my daughter’s different facial expressions, every week since the day she was born.

2. Printing photos of my own. I develop photos in bulk (Boots Photo Online) every 6 months or so (500+ photos, 80% of Maia obviously). But every now and again – maybe once a year- I’ll print a few myself and scrapbook them.

 

3. Seeing my Aunty Ruth. I love spending time with my Aunty Ruth. She’s a very special person to me. She lives a life off the beaten path (y’know the one I mean: job, marriage, children yada yada yada). Instead, she travelled, taught in Africa and had several very varied different jobs. She’s a fantastic artist – though she’d never say so herself -, incredibly intelligent, insightful, hugely creative (she’s handmade all my birthday cards) and most of all one of the kindest most thoughtful people I know. She’s not interested in money, and lives with the view that helping others is the only true way to bring peace within. There was never a time when she wasn’t in the process of helping someone – be it living with my Nanna and taking care of her for years, doing an old lady’s groceries or volunteering at a local fair trade shop. She see’s life so differently to anyone I’ve ever known. I could talk to her for hours. (Everything from meditation to global warming, she could talk about anything.)  I will always be grateful that she’s part of Maia’s life.

 4. Bloom Bloom Bloom. Maia and Aunty Ruth planted the seeds months ago and now the flowers are well and truly blooming. My Aunty is the most passionate gardener I know – growing vegetables and teaching us about the seasonal feeding habits of rabbits and squirrels. Maia already loves hunting for frogs and finding snails to collect in buckets, and my personal favourite – digging for worms. – I’m getting pretty good at my pretend “OH GOODNESS ANOTHER WORM!!” Face.. I’m not really one to get my hands dirty. The thought of holding a wriggly worm….No get AWAY. 

5. Maia’s counting. She can count. Sort of. She can count in groups of numbers but not quite 1-10 yet. (123…16 17 18… 789). It brings me a lot of joy. See my Instagram for all the cuteness.

 




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Confessions of a Single Mother: The Real Big Jump

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It’s been a while since I last gave a proper update. There’s not a lot to report, I am still in fact a single mother, and I don’t have all that many confessions. But I do have news.

A few weeks go I auditioned for a small part in a play at my local theatre. I’d only just joined the theatre the week before and was not expecting to get anything. But I did. I got the part. I couldn’t quite believe it.

Me on the phone to the director: NO WAY….NO WAY…YOU ARE JOKING.” 

He might as well have told me I’d just got the lead in a major blockbuster, I was that thrilled. And shocked. And, well…happy.

I ran into Maia’s bedroom telling her and Grandma my exciting news.

Maia: “Mummy, why are you screaming?…”

I haven’t performed on a stage since I was fourteen so this is sort of a big deal. I didn’t really think about it much when I auditioned, I knew I’d talk myself out of it. I didn’t even consider the fact that I might forget the words or mess something up or suffer stage fright and collapse in a fit of hysteria backstage….I just went for it. Sometimes that’s the only way to do it. – Not think too much and just jump in. (Famous last words..)

The real big jump this year is Maia starting Nursery school. She starts in two weeks and I can’t quite get my head around the fact I’ll be leaving her with.. Well…people I don’t know for a few hours each day..I’ve only ever left her with my parents or her Dad in the past.

I attended a new parents evening a few weeks ago that helped put my mind at ease. – sort of… These women knew what they were doing. Some were mothers themselves, and they all spoke with warmth and a genuine sense of “we know how hard it’s going to be for you, leaving your child with us, but we’re here for her, you can trust us..”. They may feel like strangers now but I know over the next few months they will become some of Maia’s role models.

I’m not too sure how I’ll be feeling on the day but I know if there are any tears they are more likely to come from me. Maia can’t wait to start. (And I’m not really surprised, as entertaining as I aspire to be for her, the poor child’s probably bored of the sight of me).

We’ve been mentioning ‘school’ a lot and the fact she’s going to make lots of new friends. I have a feeling she’ll love it but part of me does think she’ll have a little shock when she turns around and Mummy’s not there. I just hope she doesn’t get too worked up. They did say they would call if the child really was getting distressed. Oh god please don’t let her get distressed. Once she has her mind made up about something that’s that…

Nope, no, she’ll love it. All those toys and games and lots of other tiny humans to interact with.. It’s literally one of the best times of your life.

So why am I so worried?
*Oh, just because she’s my one-and-only-precious-little-darling-baby-girl who I’ve been with, nurtured and nursed nearly every day since her birth.- The centre of my universe and entire reason for being. – Who I’m now leaving in the care of…. Some lovely women I only just met…

I know I have to learn to trust these people. It may take some time. I can so do this.

______________

STATUS UPDATE:

Current status: Single, mostly contented SAHM

Career thoughts: Very possibly: Journalism/something in Art or Textile Design/Teaching/…Counselling (one day when I’m old and wise).

Much less likely but still highly desirable: Something in Drama

Sugar-Free Days: TWELVE.   TWELVE WHOLE DAYS PEOPLE…

Life experience: Exhausted but WINNING.

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