Tag Archives: love

a wonderful weekend

what-im-writing-meet-up

Some of my wonderful #WhatImWriting friends.

You know the sort of weekend that’s so good that regardless what Monday throws at you, you keep smiling all day long? I’ve just had one of those. And I don’t mean just smiling a little bit either, I mean like, huge cheshire cat grins often accompanied by little chuckles at random moments and even the odd guffaw (when passers-by least expect it). Oh yes, I’m talking a properly stonking good weekend.

It began with a plan of military precision involving leaving my eldest son with my husband up in Northumberland on Friday and my younger two with my parents in Yorkshire on Saturday and then leaping on a train all by myself (that is BY MYSELF, alone, no kids, on a train, on my own and did I say I was by myself?) and going down to London. I got there at 12.56 (a not entirely pointless detail) and immediately went to meet up with some of my wonderful #WhatImWriting gang.

And what a meet up it was! There were eight of us. We met for lunch. Lunch went on for eight hours. It was awesome: I can honestly say these women are soul food to me – proper, hearty, ‘eat as much as you like and you wont ever get sick because it’s too tasty’ soul-food. They are all intelligent and creative and strong and brave and brilliant and beautiful and being in their company made my spirits soar.

It also made me *rather* drunk. Oh yes. The sort of drunk where you text your husband from the loo to tell him how much you love him and how much you love everyone and then you realise later that what you sent looks more like ‘I higglibley fulsip ve’ than the message you were really aiming for but never mind because he knew what you meant. The best kind of drunk, then.

Anyway, we well and truly put the world to rights and then just to top it off, straight afterwards I went out for a meal with one of my friends from my university days who I don’t get to see nearly often enough. And he came and met me where we were having our epic lunch (The Parcel Yard at Kings Cross – this isn’t remotely a sponsored post but we had such a good time there, they deserve a mention) which somehow made it even more lovely because it was like a bit of my history (18 years of friendship and counting) intersecting with a much more recent part of my life. Not quite sure why that felt so lovely but it did.

And, AND just to top it off even more than it was already topped off, the next day I had brunch/lunch with one of my very oldest, bestest friends (39 years of friendship and counting – we met before I was born… ) by the end of which my spirits were in the stratosphere and my heart was bursting all over the place with love.

I then caught the 12.56 train (see – I like a bit of symmetry) back to Yorkshire, picked up my younger two boys (who’d had a brilliant time with my parents) and drove back home to Northumberland in time to babble joyfully and semi-coherently at my husband, find out that his time with our eldest boy was ‘pure joy’ (I shed a little tear at that description) and then collapse into bed to dream of… well, we decided that what happens in The Parcel Yard stays in The Parcel Yard so I couldn’t possibly divulge any more…

xxx

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when all the swears in the world aren’t enough

I drew this as I awaited the election results. I didn't hold out much hope.

I drew this as I awaited the election results. I know – it’s brutal. I didn’t hold out much hope.

If you read my post the other day then you can probably guess how I’m feeling in the wake of the US election. A racist, misogynistic, narcissistic sexual abuser has been elected to the highest office in the western world. It beggars belief.

And I’m exhausted. The outpouring of grief on my Facebook feed today has pretty much overwhelmed me. When so many people you love and care about are reeling in horror and pain it’s… well it’s just awful. Actually, ‘awful’ doesn’t cover it but words are failing me today.

And yet, as much as Facebook has overwhelmed me, it’s also given me hope – because there has been so much goodness on display there. So much solidarity. So many people reaching out to each other with understanding and love .

So although I can’t deny I’m feeling pretty wretched at the moment, I do know that all is not lost. The immediate future is more challenging but we’ll keep going. Things will turn around.

I’m running out of words so I’ll leave you with something I put on my personal Facebook feed earlier. This is our challenge now and we have to rise to it.

So, my friends, our task now is to make sure our kids know that racism is wrong, not only in the face of a hateful UK tabloid press but with an American President who is openly racist. We have to teach them that sexism is wrong even though the President of the USA is blatantly misogynistic. We have to show them that homophobia is wrong, insulting people with disabilities is wrong and that blaming things on minorities is wrong despite the soon to be ‘leader of the free world’ doing all these things without shame. And most of all we have to make it clear that despite the US President ‘grabbing’ women by the ‘pussy’, that sexual assault is always, always completely inexcusable (not to mention f*cking criminal). We have to show our next generation that – despite this morning’s awful message to the contrary – hate and fear can’t win over respect and love.

I’ll leave you with a picture I drew just before the EU referendum. I wish I could draw something new, something symbolic of hope, but I’m not quite there yet, so this’ll have to do.

#Loveisstrongerthanfear

Because love is stronger than fear, my friends, love is stronger than fear.

xxx

a new chapter

boys at the lakeside

My three boys in the lake district this summer – already feels like a lifetime ago!

Today was the first day of the new school term – the day my eldest son started middle school, my youngest started school nursery and my middle son went back to cheekily sauntering his way through the education system. It was the day for jumping out of ‘summer mode’ and back into routine. It was always going to be a big day for a nostalgic sap like me and, as expected, I felt all the feels:

Amazed pleasure – when my eldest two boys got up and were halfway through breakfast by the time I staggered downstairs (bleary-eyed after a fitful night dreaming about a daddy-long-legs attack… don’t ask), and then went and got themselves ready for school without any prompting at all. :)

Pride – when my eldest walked off with his best mate towards his new school with nothing more than a grin of excitement, a fond wave and ‘see you later’! in my direction. No nerves whatsoever!

Sudden desire to slap myself in the head – when I realised I’d failed to mention any sort of plan for picking him up. “I realised you didn’t tell me where to meet you after school!” he said later (totally unfazed) “But I saw Alex’s mum and asked her and she said you were coming to meet me at the phone box.” Good old Alex’s mum.

Frustration – at having ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’ by ABBA on repeat in my head for most of the day. “Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture… ” Seriously, those lyrics, I know they’re about a daughter rather than a son but apart from that. Ouch.

Excitement – at starting my #WhatImWriting linky up again after a summer break and seeing people’s posts pop into my inbox and feeling that sense of anticipation about writing and blogging and, best of all, having my writing gang back together again!

Jitters – all morning I had this weird nervous energy. Couldn’t settle. Kept making cups of tea and not drinking them, or boiling the kettle and not pouring the water, or pouring the water into the mug without boiling the kettle first. I needed to go back to tea-making 101 clearly.

Nostalgia – at being back in the school nursery for the third (and final) time. It’s been six years since I first walked through those doors with my first son. It feels exactly the same and totally different.

Actually thinking I might cry – in the reception of the first school where I saw my eldest’s smiling photo on a noticeboard for the school council. The noticeboard is out of date of course – he’s left the school but seeing him there wearing his old school uniform… and then realising he wasn’t at the school any more and would never wear that uniform again… *sob*

Happiness – at seeing my fellow-school-parent-friends and then getting messages from other friends asking me how I was feeling and sending me photos of their kids in new uniform and all of us sharing all the, “this is it! A new stage!” excited emotion.

High-as-a-kite thrilledness – when we were all suddenly planning coffees and nights out and catch ups after the summer. I’ve missed everyone and I love, love LOVE knowing people are going to be around more and that we’re actually going to be able to meet during the day sometimes without kids!

Bliss – on a sunny afternoon walk through the forest with my youngest after his nursery session. He’s always been a brilliant little companion. We strolled along slowly examining bark and twigs and sunlight through the trees and when we got back he said “That was a lovely walk together, Mummy” and my heart melted.

Relief – because all the boys had a good first day. We had ice lollies in the garden and they told me all about it. My eldest was so happy and has already made new friends.

Happy excitement with a hint of disbelief – at realising this is the start of a new chapter where I have more time to myself to write and draw (and clean the house which shouldn’t excite me as much as it does) and to catch up with friends and just be myself by myself more than I’ve had a chance to in nearly a decade!

And now with a glass of wine and three boys upstairs asleep and some of my favourite blogs to read, I think I might have hit… contentment.

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shock, fear and hope for the future

seagull in the stormI’m struggling to find the words right now. Finding out the result of the EU referendum last Friday was like a punch to the guts. I was already reeling in the climate of hate and vicious rhetoric and violent action that had built up over the preceding weeks, and had hoped against hope we would vote for togetherness and stability. That the lies of the leave campaign (which have emerged so clearly since the result was announced) would would be revealed in time. That hatred of the political elite (who, honestly, I can’t stand either) wouldn’t lead people to vote against membership of a union which affords us so much protection in so many areas and in so many ways.

But it happened. Britain voted leave. And I still can’t get my head round it. Despite my usual positive outlook, I’ve been struggling to say ‘never mind, move on, look to the future, think positive’ or any of that. Because the future is so uncertain and the repercussions are already scaring me. The racism that the vote has legitimised, the jeering ‘We won, so get out of our country!’ mentality that is bubbling up all over the place makes my blood run cold. And the leave camp is already going back on pledges like ‘We will give £350 million a week to the NHS’ and major campaign issues like putting an end to free movement of labour (which personally I have no issue with at all) that people based their votes on. Some leave voters are already disillusioned and angry. Many remain voters are distraught. What’s going to happen next? Where’s it going to lead? I worry for all of us, I really do.

But. BUT…

Amidst all of this, you know what makes my heart sing? The wonderful, thoughtful, compassionate people that appear left, right and centre in my life. My family and my friends, the people I bump into in the playground, or at soft play parties or in muddy fields (well, I do live in rural Northumberland). The people who fill my social media feeds with understanding and love. All of them. All of you. That’s what gives me hope.

I said today on Facebook that I was stepping back from it for a bit – just to give myself some space. I am exceedingly lucky that – despite what I’ve heard about the bile that’s been spouted on social media – my personal feed is full of kind, empathetic people. But there’s so much information being shared and so much worry and so much pain – grief even, at this result. And I can’t face it all. I can’t take it all in. I’m like some kind of overused sponge – it’s exhausting me.

So, like I said, I updated my status with a little ‘I’m taking a break but I want you to know you’ve all provided me with so much solace these past few weeks’ kind of thing. And then something lovely started happening – I started getting direct messages and texts from friends. Little “I hope you’re ok’s” and “I know what you mean’s” and “I feel that way too’s”. Wonderful, warm, genuine messages of solidarity and hope. Man, they made me smile. I’d been sending some of my own over the past few weeks but after receiving these ones, I thought I’d up the pace and let more of the people I care about know that I care.

And it’s started to make me feel better. It might not be much, but it feels like something I can actually do. A way of looking to the future with something other than fear. Because it means something, doesn’t it? – to be loving. To be loved.

That’s what I’m focusing on now.

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On similarity, difference and acceptance. Oh, and love.

Last week was a tough one for the world. Things felt heavy and miserable and violent – fuelled by fear and hate. Here in the UK, the EU referendum campaign was (and still is) stirring up huge waves of negative emotion and vitriol and hateful, divisive rhetoric and this rose to a head in the horrific murder of MP Jo Cox last Thursday – an act that left the country reeling.

tulip

I spent Friday in a state of shock. Close to tears a fair bit of the time. Jo Cox was one of the good ones, not just a good MP but – from everything I’ve read – one of the all round good people of this world. And she was taken in such a brutal way… really there’s nothing I can say that hasn’t been said by others… it’s just so horrifically wrong.

Over the weekend, like many others, I read and shared the quote from her first speech in the House of Commons:

“While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

I’ve thought about that a lot over the past few days – about what we have in common. Beyond being human, what is it exactly? Because the words and actions of some people make me think we don’t have anything in common at all. I just can’t get my head round the racism and homophobia that have inspired recent acts of violence. Who gives a flying f**k about where people are born, what colour their skin is or which gender of people they love? Why would anyone choose to take against another person based on something like that? If there are people like that in the world, how can humanity have anything in common?

But then, I tell myself, those are just the actions of a tiny minority of people. Most people aren’t like that. Most of us share a common humanity that doesn’t let such feelings fester. Don’t we? So why do we let our differences pull us apart? Why has the EU referendum played out this way? Why can’t we all just respect each other? Is difference really so bad?

I think not, but being drawn to people like us seems to be hard-wired into the human psyche. Being friends with people we have lots in common with is great – it feels so easy and natural. You know that feeling when you just ‘click’ with someone and it’s fantastic? That’s based on similarity, I think, not difference. But you don’t have to agree on everything – that would be impossible. So difference is fine really. We can cope with it between friends… we should be able to cope with it where ever it appears.

And yet, in polite society we have the whole ‘don’t talk about politics and religion’ thing going on – as though if we’re divided on those issues we better keep it to ourselves or friendships will surely crumble. Is this really true though? I mean, I’m a left wing atheist – pretty staunchly so – but I have friends of different faiths and political persuasions. I know in these socially connected times that’s perhaps not saying much though so… ok… one of my close friends (we met at antenatal classes and dragged supported each other through the early days of motherhood so no one can break that bond!) is a church-going Christian. She also happens to be one of the most wonderful, down to earth, kind, funny, thoughtful people I’ve ever met. Who cares if we disagree on whether there’s a God? I mean WHO CARES?!

Another of my very close friends (another NCT class compadre) voted Conservative at the last general election. No biggie perhaps you might think, but I was one of those people who felt bereft at the last election results – just, gutted and, to be blunt, incredulous that anyone could possibly think that a Conservative government was what this country needed. To be even more blunt I was, on election results day, furious that anyone could have voted Tory – seething, poke your eyes out with a sharp stick, furious. But this friend, this lovely friend of mine is just plain awesome. Kind, loyal, empathetic, smart… the sort of friend who turns up with biscuits when she knows you had a bad day and is always full of wise advice and a comforting shoulder.

With both of these  friends, I respect the beliefs they have and the choices they make. I disagree wholeheartedly that there is a God and that a Conservative government is a good thing but that doesn’t mean I can’t love my wonderful friends with just as much wholehearted conviction. I do.

Having said that, we don’t talk religion or politics much – we skirt around the issue – so I’m not truly testing that ‘don’t talk about that!’ thing with these friends I guess. HOWEVER, I do have a friend with whom I disagree politically (on some things at least) and we DO talk about it. A few months ago we actually had a kind of falling out over it. Don’t talk about politics with friends you disagree politically with – you’ll fall out! Well, yeah, perhaps, perhaps not, but if you do, is ‘falling out’ really such a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing?

Actually what happened with this lovely friend of mine was that we sorted it out. And in sorting it out we had a big old proper heart-to-heart and honestly, the friendship is better for it. Message from the universe there – talking about and working through differences can be a good thing, a great thing, even – if you let it be. It’s not necessarily easy though. For someone like me who likes agreement and hates conflict, I’d rather keep quiet most of the time. One thing I learned from the Kids Strike is that it’s scary when you actually stand up for what you believe in and wear the badge. People can disagree. People can be offended. People, out there in the big wide world, can even be nasty.

But I reckon if you talk about the stuff you disagree on, and if you can listen to people rather than just wanting to poke them in the eye, there can be real acceptance there – not just ‘I like you because you think the same way I do’ (which, I will admit, is a position I am very fond of in friendship) or even ‘I like you despite the fact you think differently’ but just plain old ‘I like you’. Whatever. Acceptance.

So what am I saying in this rambling post? I’m not sure… but it feels like something has gone wrong with the exploration and acceptance of difference in society at the moment. We need to be able to talk about things without all the negativity taking over. Enough of the horrible polarising hatred. Sure, disagree with people, even have a little fall out if you really must. But for God’s sake make up afterwards. We mustn’t let the disagreements be all that we are. Because we’re capable of more than that and we’re so much better than that, and what unites us… what unites us is love – the capacity to love and be loved and to use that force for the good.

So, I guess this part is for you, my conservative-voting, religiously-minded friends – you go on being you, I’ll go on being me. Maybe we can even talk about those big issues sometimes without the bottom falling out of the world. Let’s listen to that instinct that tells us we are similar regardless of our differences. Let’s just… be.

“We have more in common with each other than the things which divide us.”

Jo Cox, I reckon you might be right.

XXX

#Loveisstrongerthanfear

I drew this picture on Friday and bunged it on social media and it got shared more than any other picture I’ve ever drawn. Ok, that’s not saying that much but even so… love innit?

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the ups and downs of the week that was

It’s been a busy week this week – I’ve barely blogged at all. It’s been one of those periods where I’ve done lots and gained plenty of inspiration for posts, but for one reason or another the posts don’t get written. But as it’s a Sunday night and I still have (just) enough energy to wave my fingers in the direction of computer keys in a way that may result in words, I thought I’d do a quick roundup of the most memorable parts of the week:

My boys - a moment of brotherly love on a walk.

My boys – a moment of brotherly love on a walk.

  • Along with lots of other parents and carers, I went in to school to do some cooking with my six-year-old and his class. We made a variety of different things, the kids loved having us there and it’s such a positive thing to get parents/carers engaged with school and learning I think. I do wonder how often the school will be able to hold sessions like this in the future though, given the government’s focus on children being able to give the proper description to grammatical utterances and deduce complicated mathematics from lengthy stories. There’s a ranty blog post about ridiculous educational standards and the potential impact on children’s self-esteem building up in me…
  • I was witness to a horrible bullying incident and ended up – along with another parent – comforting a young boy and talking to all his friends about how the bully had been treating him. So I saw both a horrible display of lack of empathy (from the bully) and a touching display of empathetic concern from a group of boys. It’s stayed with me (the poor kid was so upset) and I’ll be taking further action to try and ensure it doesn’t happen again.
  • I went to my Grandma’s eighty-seventh birthday party. She’s increasingly frail these days so we were all thrilled that she was able to come to what was quite a large family meal in a lovely hotel. There was much talking and laughing over delicious food and wine but the moment that affected me most during the whole evening was a little look I caught between my Grandma and my ninety-two-year-old Grandpa. It was just after my Grandma had said a little ‘thank you’ speech about how happy she was to see us all there, and the look… it was a look of such love. Of long lasting ‘I’ve loved you through the decades and look what we’ve created together’ love. I was quite bowled over. They’ve been married for sixty-six years. Being with the same person for years and years isn’t always easy – I think we all go through our highs and lows – but that look said it all. That’s love, that.
  • I got to spend some time with my brothers. I love my brothers. There is definitely a post I need to write about how having brothers helps me be a mum to boys.

Lots more happened but I’ll leave it at that as I want to watch some telly (from one screen to another, yes I know, it’ll rot my brain!)

Hope you’ve had good weeks!

a letter to my youngest son on his third birthday

My gorgeous boy,

You are my third child, my youngest son and most definitely my last baby.

You have two big brothers and, when I was pregnant with you, many people speculated about your gender. Some couldn’t seem to help but make assumptions about what we’d want and about what would be ‘ideal’. There seems to be a notion out there that it is best for families to have children of both genders, you see, so this time round a girl would be perfect, right?

Wrong. Oh, so wrong. You see, YOU, my lovely boy, have always been the perfect third child for this family. Before you were born I used to hope for a ‘laid back’ baby – one of those ones that sits around smiling and isn’t bothered by anything much. I didn’t seriously think I’d get a baby like that though… not really, I mean, how could I be that lucky?!

joanne mcneil photography maddy bennett 2013-6338

The five of us on a rainy walk. Photo by Joanne McNeil Photography

But from the moment you made you entrance into the world (after nine days of stop/start labour – see, you’d already decided to take things slow!) you were so chilled-out I could hardly believe it. The moment of your birth was by far the calmest of the three I’ve experienced (let’s just say I don’t give birth easily!) You didn’t even cry. You were immediately placed in my arms and just gazed up at me with a rather serious, inscrutable expression. I cried. You pooed copiously. We laughed. All was well.

When you came home, your brothers fell in love with you immediately, and as soon as you were capable of anything other than gazing inscrutably, it was clear you loved them too. To this day your big brother claims “you gave me your first smile” and I think he might be right. You fitted in to our family like a jigsaw piece – once missing, now found. Absolutely that calm, happy baby I’d hoped for. Ok, sleep was an issue (for two and a half years… ) but during daylight hours you were Mr Laid-back, takes-it-in-his-stride, ‘I’ll just lie here and watch everyone, and bestow smiles and gurgles’.

brotherly love change

Your big brother wrote this for you when you were a baby. Translation “X’s cute, best of all he always smiles, he’s the best baby brother in the world. Specially he loves all of us.”

Your middle brother started school when you were six months old so you and I have spent a lot of quality time together these past three years. You’ve been such a good companion – happy to just be with me at home, ‘helping’ (?!) with the housework and always perfectly content to come along when I meet friends for coffee. In fact, once you got old enough, you even started requesting “We go for coffee?” as soon as we’d dropped your brothers off at school! “You wouldn’t even know he’s there!” is a comment I’ve heard about you in many a cafe as you sat calmly chewing some toast or playing with your toys.

Of course once you hit the terrible twos you got… an opinion on things. I don’t want to pretend you’ve been perfectly reasonable at all times. But then you’re a little person with big emotions, so stroppiness is bound to appear at some points. You’ve always impressed me with your ability to get over tantrums quickly and your insistence that “I’m not naughty, I’m happy!” has been enough to win me over in your difficult moments numerous times.

You’re such an imaginative boy and are able to entertain yourself for ages. Listening to you playing with your toys always brings a smile to my face. Toy cars for you aren’t just vehicles they’re little people with personalities who talk to each other. Last week I overheard a taxi and a london bus having a chat about “going to the shoppings” (one of your favourite pastimes) to buy “bread, crisps and chocolate mousse” – your cars clearly have good taste!

boys doing shape challenge

Your other favourite activities (aside from casting magic spells by yelling “I got a zebra!”) are doing jigsaws and drawing. It’s lovely to watch you and your brothers sitting side by side, concentrating on your art work. You mostly just scribble but have now begun to proudly put your pictures on the fridge yourself. You even managed to draw a picture of me the other day where I had a recognisable form. When I say ‘recognisable form’ I do of course mean I looked like a hammer with a moustache… but you’re getting there!

You are so loving, so sweet and so funny that your Dad and I can’t help ourselves but say “He’s so cute!” far too often. I know it’s ‘far too often’ because this morning you put some teddy-bear slippers on, admired your feet and said, beaming “Oh, I’m so cute!”. I should probably stop calling you that so obviously but, well, you just are!

Now you are three and I’m certain that three boys was exactly right for me and for all of us. I wouldn’t change a thing. I couldn’t be luckier than to have my three little guys and I’m so very glad you’re you.

Lots of love from your doting (and very sentimental but it is your birthday) mummy.

xxx

Little Hearts, Big LoveProse for Thought

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a winter’s tale

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our twenty-first anniversary. We’re still only in our thirties so those of you with a mathematical bent will have already realised that means we got together in our teens!

lovebirds 1996

The two of us back in 1996

That day was a pretty magical one in my memory. It was the last day of Christmas term (yes, we were still at school – that’s how young we were!) and we were supposed to be going into town after school with a mutual friend of ours. At the last minute this friend suddenly couldn’t come (I’ve always wondered if it was a deliberate act on her part, to finally get us to admit our feelings for each other), so the two of us were unexpectedly on our own.

We walked into town side by side, shared a coke in a (rather crappy) cafe and wandered around amidst the pretty lights and festive sparkles, laughing and chatting about nothing in particular while each trying to pluck up the courage to say something more meaningful. The hours slipped by far too fast, and we soon had to walk back to school so he could catch the last bus home. It was dark by then and bitingly cold. The thrill of anticipation in the air between us outshone even the twinkling lights in the trees that lined our path. Finally, as we drew close to the school gates, my husband-to-be took the plunge – he told me I was beautiful and that he loved me. We kissed under the street lamps, and that was that. Our history was made.

Ten years later we got married and another eleven further down the track we have three gorgeous boys, a home and a lovely life together. It hasn’t all been plain sailing – we’ve certainly had our share of arguments over the years and we’ve had to put a lot of work into keeping our relationship healthy and strong. But it’s been totally worth it.

Yesterday I dug out some old photos of us. The one above is from a holiday in France that we went on with friends in 1996. I showed it to my sons last night and my eight-year-old said, incredulously, “Is that… Daddy?!!!! He was so good looking! No wonder you carried on kissing him, Mummy, he was one cool dude!

My husband put the photo on Facebook and one of his friends commented, “Is that the summer you destroyed the Horcruxes?” – a reference which implied he looked liked Harry Potter. This thrilled my son even more! Of course the photo was taken before Harry Potter was even published so he got there with the round glasses and the floppy fringe before Harry did. Just sayin’.

So there you have it; a love story that began one wintry day over two decades ago. A lot has changed since then; those young people have grown up and are now rather more weighed down by life’s responsibilities. We’ve both lost something of our youthful sparkle. But somewhere – and always – underneath it all, we’re still those teenagers in love.

Little Hearts, Big Love

baby love

mum and baby

I am besotted with my baby. There’s just no other way of putting it. He’s eleven months old now which seems to me to be a completely delicious age: he’s full of character but hasn’t started to assert himself and shout ‘no’ at me yet!

Of course, I love his older brothers just as much, and my feelings for them have grown into something more complex as they have developed. I think maternal love can only grow deeper as children get older and become more themselves.

But there’s something so primal about the way a mother loves a baby and which is reflected right back in the way a baby loves her. I’ve never spent more than a couple of hours away from my little one but when I greet him after any separation it’s still a thrill for both of us.

And he’s my last baby so I’ve been really making sure I make the most of our time together. Milestones this time round are bittersweet because I know they are the ‘last firsts’. That sounds a bit maudlin which is not how I mean it; I love seeing him develop. It’s just sometimes, especially after his bedtime feed when I’m alone with him in the near-darkness and he’s all warm and sleepy in my arms, I can’t help but wish I could freeze time somehow. To stay in that moment where life is as simple as the bond between us. That’s what inspired me to write this poem:

 

Beloved

You are warm in my arms
snuggled to my chest
soft hair tickling me
with every breath

My gaze caresses you
drinking you in
the curve of your brow
your flawless skin

Plump cheeks flushed
in the nightlight’s glow
pink lips tracing
a cupid’s bow

Your eyelashes fluttering
as dreams drift by
contentment caught
in a sleeping sigh

As I stroke your fingers,
brush your nose with a kiss
I ache at the thought
of losing moments like this

And wish I could capture
forever this time
when, tiny and perfect,
you are utterly mine.

I’m linking this up with Prose for Thought over at Verily Victoria Vocalises.