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23/52 – Little lights

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

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Anakin: There’s something in your eyes. An ache of sorts or perhaps it’s a distance, a thousand thoughts caught in a glimpse. 3 is hard.  Everything is changing. Your world is expanding so rapidly I can only imagine how confusing it feels. You lash out, your screams are cries for help but it’s so hard to get past the stream of punches and toys flying in my direction to get to you. You’re a storm, a wildfire. My little wildling. And then just as sudden you turn around and become the most gentle soul baring your big, tender thoughts as we end our day embracing in the dark. I love this photo for capturing all of it. The beauty of you both, the long distance gaze, your favourite toys (that day) and the protective pose. As much as we struggle to find our balance my love for you only grows. I only wish you knew how the two of you are the absolute light of my life. 

***

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Isis: You remind me so much of your brother when he was a baby.  So happy, so easy-going and so breathtakingly beautiful. You share the same fascination and love of my long hair as he did. As soon as I let it down your face lights up in a smile and when I let it brush across your hands you let out the most delightful laugh. 

22/52 – Skills, discoveries and independence

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

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Anakin: There are so many skills that seem so easy when you already master them. But they take coordination and focus to learn. And you’re all about mastering new things these days, claiming bits of independence. What used to be “I can’t do it” is now more than often “I can do it myself”. 

 At least now when you start freaking out over a snotty nose we can talk you through how to make it better. (And boy, do you hate being snotty.) 

***

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Isis: Your body is one big discovery these days. The look of pure surprise on your face whenever you see your hands always makes me laugh.  Surprise quickly turns to fascination and focus. You’re trying to gain control over these alien limbs that so often fling about causing you to startle, making basic connections between touch and texture, cause and effect.  Watching you learn never gets old. Seeing your joy when you master something never seizes to thrill me. Where did that squishy newborn go that was just here? 

21/52 – Best friends

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

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Anakin: “You’re my best friend, daddy!” Sometimes I get to be your best friend again too but for the most part it’s Team Daddy. And you know what? That’s ok. I love watching the two of you cook up a mess storm in the kitchen or listening to you chatter and read stories at bedtime. Team Daddy is pretty great. And besides, I’ll always be your best friend even when you don’t want me to be. 

***

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Isis: My goodness how much you love him. You laugh and smile every time he talks to you. You are his biggest fan. But his big hugs? They still make you feel uneasy. 

20/52 – Light and shadow

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

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Anakin: They seem so distant now those last days of autumn heat. You were playing outside late one afternoon while we waited for pappa to come home. Isis was sleeping on my chest and I think we both enjoyed the pause it gave us to just be you and me. 

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Isis: The faces of babies… So funny, so precious. Yes, my love, the world can be both scary and shocking. 

***

So far behind. So hard to keep up these days. Life has thrown us a curveball and this one hit us right in the face. Once we get back on our feet I’ll share the story. Until then send us kind thoughts and kiss your little ones a few times extra before they go to sleep.

19/52- Golden light

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

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Anakin: I remember this afternoon so well. The gardener had been here to mow the lawn and you were so excited by it. We’d been out and once we got back you ran inside to get your lawn mower and spent ages pretending to mow the lawn just like you’d seen him do. You came across a big stick and called it your “english mower”. “This is my english mower, mum. You can have it!” The sun was slowly going down and you were bathed in the most amazing autumn light.  

***

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Isis: So curious and full of wonder. You want to be part of it all. I keep trying to tell you nothing much happens while you sleep but you clearly don’t believe me. 

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. 

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