14 June 2013

Dear Molly....

This is a letter for you to read when you're bigger and for me to look back on in years to come when little details of our lives may have faded from my memory. 

For a lot of years I didn't want a baby. I was busy with work and didn't feel grown up enough to look after a little person. Then one day, I did.

From the moment you existed to the present day you have been my insides, my everything. It feels like I gave birth to a part of me that I now have to keep safe because without it, I'd die. It might sound a bit dramatic but it's nature. Parents get swept away in a tidal wave of love. And that happened to me, with you.

Somehow you manage to make me laugh and cry with a perfect mixture of your wonderful, gentle nature and your very serious two and a half years of life experience. You might not still have her when you're reading this but now you have a comforter called Right Bunny (there was a Wrong Bunny once too) and you cuddle her when you're sad, tired or scared. We had a lovely chat together about her the other day. It went like this:

You: I want Right Bunny Mummy.
Me: When you're bigger you won't need Right Bunny so much.
You: But I could hug her with my big girl hands.
Me: Yes you could darling.
You: Now I will hug her in my little girl hands.

You understood the essence of growing up and you summarised it perfectly in your two and a half year old way.

You question everything and the amount you're learning amazes me every single day. The other day you recited the whole of your book 'I want my hat back' to me. You remembered more of it than I did and I read it a LOT! 

I love reading with you. When I read 'How to catch a star' you get sad for the little boy when he can't find a star and then you're delighted when he gets one of his very own. You wanted a star of your very own so I made you one out of foil and card. Now, whenever I finish the story, you proudly tell me that you have a star of your very own and that Mummy made it for you. I'm glad I could do that.

It upsets me when people close to me are hurt, scared or sad. That feeling has increased tenfold in relation to you but, more touchingly, I see that trait in you. You cry when other children cry. You get distressed when the penguin gets left on his own at the South Pole in 'Lost & Found' and you stroke him on the page. And when I am sad you rub my arm and say "don't worry Mummy". Your capacity to care and empathise is something I'm so proud of.

We like to sing You Are My Sunshine, Maybe Tomorrow (from the Littlest Hobo which was my favourite programme when I was little), Incy Wincy Spider and Twinkle Twinkle (you call it Binkle Binkle). Your singing is very sweet. I love that you can sing along with me to Baby Mine. A sweet reminder that I've sung it to you nearly every day since you were born.

I will never tire of your little face, your crazy curls, your high pitched voice, your constant chatter and your lovely nature. I feel like bursting with love for you every minute of every day.

None of this is unique and parents everywhere will feel exactly the same, I'm sure, but it is unique to me and I wanted to tell you.

Lots of love Mummy x

"Baby Mine" 

Baby mine, don't you cry.
Baby mine, dry your eyes.
Rest your head close to my heart,
never to part, baby of mine.

Little one, when you play,
pay no heed what they say.
Let your eyes sparkle and shine,
never to tear, baby of mine.

If they knew all about you,
they'd end up loving you too.
All those same people who scold you,
what they'd give just for the right to hold you.

From your head down to your toes,
you're not much, goodness knows.
But, your soul precious to me,
sweet as can be, baby of mine.

7 June 2013

A Working Mummy

Sometimes I am made to feel guilty for working when my daughter is so little. Molly's only 2 and a half and she has already asked me why I go to work. When I tried to give her a befitting response she was more interested in showing me that "Molly made a triangle with fingers Mummy" When I asked if she was listening to me she replied "no thank you Mummy"


So here's why I work; for my baby girl to read when she's finished making triangles with her fingers.


Before Molly, I wanted a career for me. That's still the case but there is a new force driving me. My motivation now is to try to be the person that my little girl learns from and looks up to. I want her to want as much for herself as is possible and to know that she can control her direction in life. If the truth be told I want that for all the girls and women I know but I only have influence over Molly, and even that is relatively limited! 

Radio 4's Today programme recently dealt with an issue reported by the Women's Business Council that our girls are, seemingly, failing to get the decent jobs Girls seem to be aiming low, lacking in confidence and have no aspirations. They discussed businesses going into schools to make girls aware of what can be achieved and what is out there for them by way of opportunities. All of this is important, of course, but I can't help feeling that role models and guidance at home are the factors that will win through in terms of what the outcome will be for our girls.


Mothers feel guilty about working when their children are little. I felt guilty for a little while (Molly was 5 months old) and it was just nature and the separation thing going on. It subsided when we both adapted to our new routine. 

It's a hugely personal thing but working makes me happy. This happiness soaks into my relationship with Molly and enables me to be a better and more engaging Mum to her. It matters to me that she grows up thinking that it is normal for women to work, to achieve and to have an identity outside of the home. Being a Mum to me means being there when she needs me but also living my life in a way that one day I hope she will want to too. It's not about what I do but about making those choices for myself and being happy. I might add that if she wants to be a housewife then of course that's fine. I just want her to be the one to choose that direction for herself.


It's not for everyone, I get that, but this is about me and I don't feel guilty about working. Society subtly emanates this message, which gradually gets absorbed into our girls' psyches, that women's work is less important than men's, that men make the money and that Mums should be the ones to feel guilty for working. It's no one's fault. It's just the way it is. I hope that Molly will grow up with a different view. One which enables her to control her own future and be whatever and whoever she wants to be.


Listen to the Radio 4 discussion here:http://t.co/wgmRXUloDC


6 June 2013

Molly's Talipes

I was going to write about this when my daughter, Molly, was born. So it’s only taken me 2 and a half years to get round to it. The silver lining is the extra 2 and a half years of insight and understanding that I now have about how a child (and parents) deal with Talipes.


I spent most of my pregnancy with Molly terrified. It was one thing after another. My previous pregnancy had miscarried in the early weeks so I was worried about this one from the off. Then, following routine tests, I got a result of a 1 in 8 chance of my baby having Downs Syndrome. A week later I received a call from the hospital to say my baby was ok and that she was a she. It was the most nervous, elated and emotional I have ever been, and probably ever will be.


6 weeks later, at my 20 week scan, I was told that she had something wrong with her foot. A bit of a blur but I heard the word ‘Talipes’ and got an appointment with the consultant. Against my better judgement I went home and Googled it. The word Clubfoot came up although the hospital hadn’t called it that. That was scary because everyone’s heard of Clubfoot but no one really knows what it is. To a lot of people it means one big foot, which it isn’t. I spent the next couple of weeks worried about my baby. Would she walk? Would she be disabled? Would she have to have operations?


So over the coming weeks and months I slowly learnt about the condition, called it Talipes because Clubfoot sounds horrible, explained it to my friends and family and gradually talked myself around to accepting that my baby is otherwise perfectly healthy and that a wonky foot can be fixed (with a series of casts and then boots and a joining bar to hold the foot in place). I was really very lucky compared to what some parents face with their children.


So, on October 21st 2010, my beautiful Molly Rose was born. After a reasonably traumatic birth following being induced 2 weeks early because of a liver problem, an emergency forcep delivery and a lot of blood lost, I had my baby….finally. And I hadn’t even looked at her foot. Her little face was just so perfect and I loved that tiny little girl unconditionally.

4 weeks later and she was in her 1st cast which was changed every week for 4 weeks until her foot was in the correct position. Then just before Christmas 2010 she went into boots and bar for 23 hours a day. 3 months later and she was in them for night times only and that's the sketch until she's 5. 

I read a lot from parents who think all children suffer through this treatment and who let their children out of the boots once and struggle to get them back in them again. Every case and every child is different and I'll never judge any parent for dealing with the condition however they see fit. All I will say is we never fussed over Molly, never felt bad for her, never made her Talipes into anything other than a normal part of her routine. She's never had a night out of her boots and bar in 2 and a half years and has never once questioned the need to wear them. Children's attitudes towards everything they face develop from ours as their parents and equipping them to deal with life is our single biggest responsibility.