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18/52 – Near and far

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year. 

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Anakin: Look at you growing up so fast. Always so busy, so full of energy and big, bold emotions crashing over you like waves. Suddenly you know all these things that take me by surprise. 3,5 is tricky, isn’t it? So big yet so small. Most days I feel like you’re a few steps away from me and its hard for me too, but we always come back together before you go to sleep. You’ll probably never know how much I love it when you come crawling under the covers at night and put your little hand around my waist. 

***

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Isis: He loves you, he loves you not. He loves you… My sweet girl, how we’re all completely entranced by you. Your big smiles, your bright eyes. Your sweet, loud voice. You are so in awe of him. The force of his hugs can be overwhelming taking you by surprise. He’s got his own nickname for you that none of us know what means or where it comes from, “Kuntie”. He does the Kuntie dance, the Kuntie song. Perhaps we’ll never get it but you’re his Kuntie. 

***

I’ve somehow managed to fall behind again with my posting. Two kids, deadlines, a messy house and illness all around will do that, I suppose. We’ll get there eventually.

Mama, forgive yourself

I think some part of me thought number two would be easier. I’d done it all before, right?

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She was born into expectations of how certain things would be. Her birth would be calm and serene. She would sleep better and longer, she would be easier to settle, she would like to be worn, she would… But she is her own person. She’s not a shadow of who came before.

He would go through the motions for a few weeks and then settle and we would all be one big, happy family. His anger and his hurt would vanish and he would always know that my love for him remained the same.

I would manage to keep the house tidier and cleaner and tend to every need for both of my children. I would make sure I had plenty of time for my son, I would play with him every day. I would always keep my daughter close and we would remain as one. I would excel at juggling, I would let go and ask for help when I needed it. I would stay level and take care of myself. I would bounce back to my pre-pregancy shape (despite never doing so the first time), my stomach would be flat within a week like I’d seen other people’s do and I would feel magnificent about my post-baby body right away. Breastfeeding would be a breeze, after all I’d spent 2,5 years doing it already. I wouldn’t stress about anything, I would go with the flow at all times and I would get work done. I would always keep my cool and I would be even more patient than before. I would understand and empathise at all times.

But I am constantly failing to meet the ridiculous standards I’ve set myself.

It’s not the same, it’s not easier.

And some days I am not the mama I want to be for my children.

But what I am slowly learning this time around is;

Mama, forgive yourself.

Forgive yourself for expecting too much, forgive yourself for putting too much pressure on your body. Your body is beautiful because it is uniquely yours.  It was their first home. It grew, carried and birthed two of the most beautiful little people. It is softer, rounder and fuller. Forgive yourself for sometimes forgetting the look they both get when they see you naked, their eyes lighting up at the sight of you because to them you are perfection.

Forgive yourself for momentarily buying into ridiculous nonsense about baby sleep. Your children are healthy and need nothing but your love. You are following your instincts and you are doing everything right. Forgive yourself for not always having as much time as you want for both of them. One is still so little and her needs so big. You will get better at dividing your time. Forgive yourself for not being an expert, a mothering perfectionist. No one expects or wants you to be perfect. Forgive yourself for still struggling with breastfeeding your little one. It takes time and she is not her older brother, you both need to find your own way. Commend yourself for not giving up despite your raw nipples and your aching back.

Forgive yourself for the times you raise your voice, for the wrong battles you pick and the tears that follow. You are tired and it’s ok to make mistakes as long as you apologise and keep trying. Forgive yourself for your doubts and your darkness. For neglecting the needs of your husband, for feeling ‘touched out’ at the end of the day and needing to keep your body to yourself. Forgive your mood swings and your occasional sadness. You give your children everything, it’s ok to feel empty as the day nears its end. You have yet to find your village and sometimes you will feel lost in the dark. But you are exactly where you need to be.

Anakin and mum

Mama, just remember to forgive yourself a little every day. It takes practise. What you’re doing is nothing short of amazing.

 

 

17/52 – Nerds

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year. 

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Anakin: Making goofy faces in the bath. You make me laugh in the best of ways. Don’t ever stop dressing up and having fun. 

***

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Isis: Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself when some dear friends gave you a Princess Leia beanie. I promise, your parents are nerds in the best of ways. 

16/52 – Forever

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year. 

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Anakin: She used to be your little lifeguard when you were a baby. In more or less every photo we have of you taking a bath Hedda is right there, watching over you and making sure you were ok. If you cried she would come running with a meow and sniff your head. And then you got old enough to start flinging your limbs everywhere and hit her by accident once and that was it. She wouldn’t let you near her again and she kept her distance. Until now. The last couple of weeks she’s finally let you touch her. I can see how weary she is but perhaps she senses your sadness and confusion. Perhaps she needs it as much as you do. And the other night I found her sleeping next to you in bed on my pillow. It was the first time she’s chosen to sleep with you and the first time she’s given up a chance to sleep on my lap after you’ve gone to bed.

It will get better, my love. It won’t feel this way forever. 

*** 

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Isis: My little ray of sunshine, you practically beam of joy. Every day now I wait to hear that sweet laugh I know is in there.  It’s like we’ve known each other a lifetime yet I can’t look at you enough. The soft curves of your face, your little head which still fits in the palm of my hand. And those little legs full of  happy rolls kicking with excitement. I could spend days skin to skin with you doing nothing but hold and nourish you with my body. I was your first home. I will always be your home and your anchor. And you will always be the beat of my heart. 

15/52 – Pause

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year. 

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Anakin: I wonder where you go and what you think of when I see you drift away. Do you go on adventures? Are you riding dragons or digging for treasure? Are you captain of your own ship sailing the high seas? Or are you overcome with feelings that weigh heavy on your heart? 

I often think you look so sad when you sit there staring into space, in a place where I can’t quite reach you. It makes me want to wrap you in my arms and do everything I can to put a smile back on your face. But maybe you’re not sad at all, maybe you’re soaring high on the back of an eagle or diving deep with turtles. Or maybe you just need to stop and feel.  So I let you be and I quietly watch and wait, hoping that if you need my arms you’ll let me know somehow. 

***

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Isis: You’re just as alert as your brother was. Taking it all in. Your gaze finds mine and your body becomes busy as you babble away, telling me stories about your day and your new discoveries. I ask you questions and pause for your answers, you squeal in delight and your sounds are music to my ears. As long as you are rested you are all smiles. But just like your brother you struggle with your daytime sleeps and your exhausted wails are heartbreaking. I do the only thing I know will work, I wrap you tight and walk you down, holding you as close as I can. And as you find sleep next to my heart I find peace in your closeness. I will carry you for as long as I can. 

14/52- Sharing

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year. 

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Anakin: Sharing one of your favourite stories under the blanket with aunty Leah. You are always excited to see people and even more so these days. You’ve grown louder and more animated as if you feel you need to be to take the attention off your baby sister. It is nice to see you have some quiet time, to see you calm and assured that you are indeed just as important as you’ve always been. How could you not be? If only you knew how amazing we think you are, even on our bad days. 

***

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Isis: Your first meeting with aunty Leah. You gave her some sweet smiles before falling asleep on her chest. There is something so comforting about seeing you at such ease with the people we love.  

13/52 – Light and shadow

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year. 

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Anakin: We took you to Kids Arty Farty fest in the park on a Sunday. You were wide-eyed and excited. Underneath some trees was box city, a place where everyone could build their own houses and forts out of cardboard boxes. I took your hand and we went in there, just you and me. We walked around, picked up a box and some tape but in the end we were both too preoccupied with looking around to really build anything. We stopped under the biggest tree in a spot of sunshine, your eyes fell on someone behind me and you disappeared into thoughts. I looked at you and saw so much of myself standing there. The curiosity, apprehension and vulnerability all surfaced on your face. You made the perfect picture, bathing in sunlight with big shadows framing your body. That moment, like most these days, felt far too fleeting. I can’t help but feel lucky that at I least have some way of documenting these fractions that make up our lives. A small way of holding on to all the little things that make our love so big. A way to remember you as you grow and change. 

***

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Isis: I’m holding on to your infancy for dear life. I find myself burying my nose in your hair and my face in your neck all the time. I stare and stare afraid that I’ll forget. I wasn’t prepared for this. I didn’t know that my unconditional love for you would be shadowed by this sadness, this grief that you are the last. Every day I have to learn to let it go, to let my delight of your discoveries be what I carry forward. I keep you as close as I can. I need your heartbeat next to mine as much as you do. Your eyes are finding new things all the time, your face lights up at the sound of familiar voices. I see you watching your brother, beaming as he lends his attention to you.  Soon you’ll find your laughter and our house will be filled with the sound of twice the joy. As I think back on my life I am grateful for every bump and every bruise because it all led to this, it led me to you. 

12/52- Stillness

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year. 

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Anakin: You stopped me in my tracks when I saw you standing there on your stool at the kitchen bench reading a comic book. The light from the window hit your face in the most beautiful way. There was this stillness about you. So peaceful, so quiet. I stood there admiring your beauty while feeling this strange sadness come over me. I wished you knew how much I still see you, how much we’re still what we used to be, just different. I felt guilty for thinking you were being difficult when it was never you, it was me. I’m the one who changed things on you, I’m the one who went from being all yours to always being busy caring for your sister. I’m the one who needs to learn how to give you both what you need, to divide my time better. I’m the one who needs to say sorry, sorry for getting frustrated with you, sorry for letting you down. Everything you’ve done is only natural considering your world just got turned upside down. Mine has too but I should know better. I’m so sorry, my love. I wish you knew how much my heart aches for you, for time to be with just you, like we used to.

I love you so much it hurts. 

***

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Isis: Your world is expanding so fast. You just have time to get comfortable before it changes again. I had almost forgotten how turbulent the first year is for someone new. It’s thrilling to see you develop, but so exhausting. It’ll keep changing, baby, but we’ll be here.  We’ll be your constant and your anchor. These days are numbered, days where you’ll only find peace belly to belly. As difficult as they may sometimes be they are also so incredibly precious. 

11/52 – From little things

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year. 

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Anakin: Pappa comes home from work and you run towards the car as he pulls in. The pride and joy on your face as he lets you help him park the car (several times) and toot the horn. It’s one of those things isn’t it, a childhood ritual of sorts. 

***

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Isis Indigo: Your tiny little feet. Imagine one day (far too soon) these feet will grow big enough to hold your weight as you take your first wobbly step. I cherish all your newborn traits as long as I can. Like how you curl your toes over my lips as I kiss them. How soft your hair is, like tiny feathers and the little fluff on your ears, just like your brother had. The dimples between your knuckles, oh they kill me with their cuteness. Your toothless new smile, baby wrinkles and that smell, that sweet indescribable smell I fear forgetting. Because like the song says from little things big things grow and you, my girl, will grow big and strong and I never want to forget any of it. 

***

I’m really hoping to catch up to the current week soon. Every time I decide to get on it someone cries, needs boob or whatever else little ones need you for, which is just about everything these days. I suppose we’ll get there eventually.

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I’ve got you, babe

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