Lifestyle, Parenting

Dear Harry and Meghan

Two days in to being parents, congratulations! The adrenalin is still running, hormones flowing, body aching and heart bursting. You are besotted with your beautiful boy and cannot bear to take your eyes of him for fear of missing something. Netflix has nothing on watching a newborn sleep.

Any parent will tell you that raising children is the most exhilarating and exhausting, beautiful yet bewildering role they have ever had. Being a mother was, and still is, my greatest ambition and my greatest achievement. But it has not been without its challenges, namely around maternal mental health, which was overcome with a lot of love, faith, prayer and communication.

I want to encourage you both that you have a winning formula to start your new role as parents. When we watch you in public, we see warmth, love and respect, a genuine affection for one another that overrides the world around you. This love, this bond is your greatest source of strength as you navigate your new normal.

To any new parents I say this; keep checking in on each other. Sleepless nights can strain solid marriages, teething tests a mother’s bond to breaking point and tantrums can make the most patient parent tear their hair out. These seasons of motherhood are messy and miraculous.

It’s normal to find the days long and the nights longer. It’s natural to go into survival mode as the days blur from one to another in the early weeks and months. My advice to all new parents is to keep looking at one another. Keep locking your gaze and speaking words of love, encouragement and understanding through your eyes in the way that only couples can. Talk often and openly about everything and anything.

Be patient with each other, hold hands, hold your tongue and hold on for the ride. And above all, trust God as you embark on the best role there is.

Enjoy every minute.

R x

Photo Credit: Chris Allerton ©️SussexRoyal
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http://gcmsk12.org/first-day-of-school/
Parenting

Why first days break hearts

This week social media has been awash with smiling cherubic faces proudly wearing their school uniforms, and behind most camera lens is a misty-eyed parent. Walking my son to school for his very first morning was more than a tad emotional’ his little knees peeping out beneath his freshly ironed shorts and his chubby little hands clutching his book bag. Tears pricked my eyes for the umpteenth time that hour as I watched him skip into the playground to see his friends. Selfishly, I wish that I could stop time and keep him with me always, a small dependent little man who needs me always. The reality is that my four going on fourteen-year-old is more than ready to start school, just like his brother.

Once through the door, rather than waiting for the roll call, my cheeky chappy simply said “It’s OK Mommy, they know me here,” and with that, he bounded down the corridor and grabbed his teacher’s hand. All the feels.

As hard as it was for me to watch my baby step into the world of education, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I want to be front row and centre in every step he takes, and the idea of missing this momentous occasion fills me with horror.

Yet so many parents don’t have a choice.

My heart is heavy for the working mama who couldn’t get the time off to wave her daughter off and had to send Daddy instead. I think of the separated parents who missed out on the first day

I think of the separated parents who missed out on the first day because it ‘wasn’t their week’. I think of the dad who works away for months on end and had to wish his son good luck via FaceTime this morning.

I think of the parents who had to drop their precious child off at wraparound and missed out on the hustle and bustle of 30 excited four-year-old in shiny shoes and new shirts. I think of high profile parents the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; poor Catherine, pregnant with her third child and suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, was unable to watch her firstborn take his first steps into education. As she witnessed the milestone on social media like everyone else, it must have broken her heart.

Then there are the parents whose doorways are empty. The moms and dads whose babies grew angel wings far too soon and didn’t live to their fourth birthday. These parents know all too well that their child should have had their first day at school this week, yet there are no new shoes in the hallway, excited chatter in the home or pictures on the walls.

I deeply appreciate how blessed I am to be a mom of three. I have always dreamed of being a parent, and although I fail massively on a fairly regular basis, I wouldn’t trade the tantrums and tears for anything. This week has been a week of firsts, the first year in Juniors for my eldest, the first day in school for my second son, and the first day juggling three children on a school run. But it was a moment that I was able to be part of thanks to being self-employed, thanks to a loving God, and a supportive husband, and a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.

As much as it hurts to let them go and let them grow, the ability to be able to stay home and nurture three little lives is a privilege. So as I blink back tears at the unfairness of time not standing still and feel sorry for myself this coming week, I will remember in my prayers those who would give anything to be in my position.

R x

 

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Faith, Parenting

Testing the barriers

Parenting.

They say its the most rewarding job of your life. They remind you they don’t stay small forever. They whisper don’t wish the years away because they’ll be gone before you know it.

And yet they don’t tell you that its the most heart wrenching, headache inducing, life changing challenge that you will ever face.

I loved to love when I was a child. An avid stuffed toy collector and baby doll carrier, I would spend hours lavishing love, care and attention on to my little audience, and longed for the day when I could care for a child of my own. Fast forward twenty years or so and there I was in the delivery room, a tired, red faced girl of 26, holding a slippery baby boy who loudly protested his arrival in to the world. As he was placed in my arms it was like my world tilted on its axis. My perspective shifted, my eyes widened and my heart enlarged. This little boy was going to grow to be a great man, and I had been given the immense responsibility of raising him.

As we grew together we faced more than our fair share of challenges, and my fair faced little baby proved to be as strong willed as he was sweet. It seemed the more I lavished him with love the more he would test me and push me, and when his little brother arrived his outrage at sharing his mother was clearly evident. I felt challenged in every way by the torrent that came from my eldest, who obviously felt so unwanted, disregarded or pushed aside in some way despite my constant reassurance. I read book after book, attended multiple classes and sought advice from teachers, and although they gave many welcomed methods and approaches in parenting, my little pocket rocket still challenges me to this day.

Only very recently I listened to a brilliant clip about how to handle teenagers. I have always joked that having had a threenager perhaps I would get away with a well behaved teen, but nevertheless, I  had time to kill while scrolling Facebook one day so I decided to watch the clip. The script went a little something like this:

Raising teenagers is a lot like riding on a rollercoaster. As a rider on a rollercoaster, you can’t wait for the ride to begin, you are excited and nervous all at the same time. As you sit in your seat and the barrier comes down and locks in to place, what is the first thing you do? Test the barrier.

Boom. The answer to my parenting struggles over the past six years right there.

Your child is testing the barrier, the safety mechanism in their lives. They are about to embark on the craziest journey with twists, turn and loop the loops, and they want to know that the barrier isn’t going to fail and release them in to the unknown. And so they push, pull, poke, prod and rattle that barrier until they are satisfied that it is going to hold them in place.

When they test your boundaries and push your buttons,
your child wants to know that he or she is safe.

I know that this isn’t always the case, of course, and there will be many times when they simply want to go against the grain for arguments sake. BUT I urge you, as I urge myself, that when they start pushing, pulling, poking and prodding you, please take a minute to step back and look at your child. Think twice before taking offence, before raising your voice or inflicting punishment, and remember that maybe, just maybe they are pushing back on their safety barrier to check that you won’t move. They need to know that you won’t be shaken by their tantrums, you won’t be pushed over the edge by their whining, you won’t resort to flaring your temper when they flair theirs.

But how can you remain calm in the face of such anger? Because your Heavenly Father can.

He knows what it is like to watch His sons and daughters go against His will for their lives, ignore His advice and choose the guidance of others over His, and all this in spite of the unconditional love He offers out to them over and over and over again. God loves. The Bible says He is love, and we are created in His image, so He knows emotion. God gave us free will so that we could choose to love Him back and not simply be robots programmed to do what He wants. God knows what it is like to be hurt by words that wound, and to see His beloved children make bad decision after bad decision, choosing to go their own way and not the way He had planned. He knows how hard it is when a child just won’t listen, when they answer back or worse, when they choose to ignore.

But God never changes. He never moves an inch, He never compromises on His values or His instruction, on who He is or who He has called His children to be. Yet He loves them completely any way.

And He never stops loving them.

Now age 6 and 3, my boys are growing closer and closer by the day. Their personalities are forming and they make me cry with laughter and burst with pride as I watch them grow in to young men. They continue to challenge me, they can reduce me to tears after a particularly trying day, or they can spontaneously shower me with kisses and cuddles, filling my heart with such joy like I have never known.

Parenting is not easy, it is certainly not for the fainthearted, but it is God breathed and God ordained, and I for one am so blessed to be on this journey.

R x

 

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Faith, Parenting

Are we ever really ready for parenthood?

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If someone had told me what motherhood was really like I wonder if I would have gone through with it.

Now don’t get me wrong,  I adore my sons and I would not part with them for all the world, however I don’t think I was entirely prepared for parenting. I am not talking about the sleepless nights associated with newborns,  or even the challenging tantrums that lasted way beyond the terrible twos, I am in fact talking about the huge heart wrenching responsibility of raising a little life. From the moment they were placed in my arms as wriggling newborns, my life and world was completely turned inside out and I was captivated by my sons, and my maternal instinct towards them flooded my soul.

My heart swells with pride whenever I think about my boys, they are both so individual and their smiles simply light up my day. Their personalities are so different yet so complimentary, and I love how they approach life so differently. The thought that my words and actions will mould them into the men they become is more than a little daunting however, and I reminded daily of how much I need to teach and invest in myself in order to do the same for them.

More than this though, I realise that it is external influences, often that are outside my control, that can have the greatest impact on and be the greatest threat to my children. When I look at them together, playing so innocently with no realisation about the atrocities committed across our city never mind our world, the fear I have for their safety, their happiness and their future in a somewhat hostile world just overwhelms me. I know that we are privileged to live in a civilised, democratic and relatively safe world, however the news tells a very different story with rapes, murders and most recently the horrific beheading of innocent victims from IS extremists being reported on a daily basis.

As a mother all I want to do is protect my children. They are literally my heart walking around outside my body, and they are on my mind every single minute of every single day. When they are not with me I want to know who they are with, where they are going and what they are doing. I want to know that they are safe, that they are happy and that they are not alone or afraid. My job as their momma is to love them, care for them, teach them and ultimately make everything okay but there are so many things I have cannot protect them from. I can deal with bad mouthed bullies or bumps and bruises, but how do I counteract the cowardly acts of criminals who seek to hurt and destroy? How do I protect them from fundamentalists and suicide bombers? How do I keep them from the clutches of child traffickers and paedophiles hiding in society waiting to prey on innocent children while their parents are distracted?

I yearn to offer my children the fun and freedom that I enjoyed as a child, so that they can learn and grow in the same way that I did, but I fear that this will never happen as the world we live in now has changed so much since the eighties and nineties. Where I was allowed to play out all day every day in the holidays, I know that no matter how street savvy my sons are, I would massively struggle with them playing out alone in our street much less away from home unaccompanied. Of course,  there will come a day when I have to let them go, and I will have to trust that the education we have given them at home, church and school will stand them in good stead to keep safe while out and about.

I pray for the safety of both my sons daily, not only that they would be physically safe and unharmed as they go about their day at school and at home, but also that they would be spiritually and emotionally protected, that they would guard their hearts and minds. The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future, so as Dave and I keep sowing the seeds of God’s word into our family life, I trust that this truth will prevail as my handsome boy’s become grown men and find their own way through this life.

Knowing how fast they grow up, this mommy is going to enjoy every precious moment with the undivided attention of my young charges, so that I can invest into their lives, influence them and help them to make good life choices as they enter manhood in the future, but in the meantime I am happy to stick to supervised park play dates and having friends round to stay.

R

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