I’m a mean mama. I love you so much, that sometimes a mean mama is the best I can be for you.
There are so many things in this world that I wish to protect you from, to keep you from, to keep from you that sometimes it means that what you want in the now I have to say no to because I want to keep you safe.
Yes, I want to keep you from predators and yes, I want to keep you from people whose love for you may be more about themselves than you. And yes, I want to keep your body safe and your belly full and your learning continual and your development appropriate, but I also want to keep your mind.
I want your thoughts to be of adventures and mysteries, I want your dreams to be of fairies and ballerinas, or trucks and superheroes if you wish. I want your biggest dilemmas to be whether you should bring the red spade or the blue spade to the beach, if your new friend in the park will l be there again tomorrow or not or whether you will walk or take a scooter.
I want to wash copious amounts of muddy trousers and scrub grass stains out of the knees, to have to carry a spare set of wellie boots for when yours are full of puddles. I want beach toys and wooden food and glitter to litter my floors and to be sweeping up sandpit sand for years to come.
I want equal wardrobe space for fancy dress as for clothes, and to be ‘persuaded’ to take a fireman, fairy, pirate or princess with me on every milk run.
There are many years ahead where you will worry about your appearance. There are tears that you will cry over boys and lovers and friends come and gone.
There may be a time for you to care about what’s popular, what’s hot, what’s happening in the world around you, but that time is not now.
Now is the time for a clean fresh face, and a wardrobe that allows you the movement and freedom of childhood without trying to make you into a mini-woman. Now is the time to enjoy fanciful stories and childish movies. Now is the time to live to the fullest and enjoy a kind of freedom you will never again experience, a kind of life you will only appreciate years after its gone.
My girls, a time will come where you will wear make-up and listen to music with themes that don’t belong to childhood. A time will come where your choice of outfit might make me cringe and your choice of entertainment might leave me questioning where I went wrong. I know it will because it came for me, as it does for everyone.
Even Peter Pan grew up eventually…
But innocence lost is lost forever. Childhood left behind is a street with only one direction. There’s no turning back time.
I will do my best to keep you young, to hold on to your youthful days, to be the buffer against words like sexualisation and objectification, and a torrent of marketing that tries to tell you what “stuff” you need to be popular, or beautiful, or loved. I will cocoon you, so that the subjects and realities of teenage years or adulthood become known to you then, and not a day before.
I will be your fortress even when you wonder why you can’t do the things other kids are allowed to and I will be you shield till such a time as your decisions are made by your desires for your life, not those of your peers, or characters in TV shows and magazines.
At times you may hate me, but in time I believe you will see that it was always about what was best for you and one day as you watch your own daughters hurtle with frightening velocity from infancy you will understand that sometimes “you’re being mean mama” is just another form of my deep and undying and eternal love.
I am so grateful to have you as my second child. If you had been my first, Ameli would have been a huge shock to my system.
In contrast you don’t wake up every hour and your day doesn’t start between 4 and 7. You happily sleep till 8 every morning.
I may never have lain watching you in the moonlight, but I make up for it in the morning, you wonderous, marvelous, smiling beauty.
I am so in love with you,
I’d love to sit here and tell you what an amazing year it’s been and how everything’s just been wonderful and beautiful and magical, but it hasn’t. It’s been a tough year and there’s no point really in pretending otherwise.
It’s been a difficult year from long before you were born, so it wasn’t you that made it difficult. Mama and Daddy were struggling with money, we weren’t able to pay rent, we didn’t know whether we’d be able to stay in our house, we didn’t have enough money for food sometimes, and sometimes even our friends had to bring us food, and we had to borrow money from our own parents.
Mama and Daddy were struggling too, because Daddy was feeling sad a lot of the time, and Mommy was trying to work and be pregnant and be sick and pregnant and trying to keep us afloat and there were just times when it was almost all too much.
I look back at the last year and I try to picture it as a whole year and despite all the difficult things – including Nana getting sick and going to Australia and living with other people, which was very hard for Mama sometimes – but I look back at all of it, and I try to think of it as one picture, and you know the one picture I see in my head all the time is just you.
You as a baby, smiling, looking up at me, being joyful. You are just beautiful and smiley. You have a contagious and infectious smile, amidst and in spite of all the crazy things in our life. Everyone looks at you and says you’re such a smiley joyful child and they are right. I am so incredibly grateful that we have that in you and that we were gifted with this child who can cut through the darkness and radiate light from your eyes. I have no idea how we got so lucky, but we did and I am so very grateful.
I have to tell you there were times in my pregnancy when I didn’t know if you were going to be okay because of the sickness medicine and because I was so sick and there were times when I felt like nothing was ever going to come right again. There were times when you were a newborn that I felt so worried that we were never going to be able to do right by you, and we were never gong to be able to give you the best, be the best parents, or give you everything you deserve.
But you are so low maintenance and so full of love and… I keep coming back to the word joy, because that’s what you have and that’s what you are: a joyful little pixie elf girl.
You know, with your sister i thought my life had changed so much I didn’t recognise it. It was all awe and amazement. I look at you and I never thought with a second child I would feel all that awe and amazement, but you know what? You are so different to her, that you bring your own bags of awe and amazement with you and, it’s a miracle.
Having you has opened my eyes to so much about people and differences and life.
I love you so very, very much. Not just because of who you are or just because of how you’ve changed me, but all of it. As a package deal , you’re amazing.
So… some of your milestones:
You are walking, but you were a slower starter than your sister. You were walking at 10 months and 10 days, and before your first birthday you were toddling around on your own.
Now, at 12 months you say Oupa and Nana and ‘Meli (Ameli) and you babble and point at things and use inflections to show us what you want. And my goodness when you want something you make sure we know it! You don’t take no for an answer. Your screeching isn’t much fun, but your babbling is fantastic.
You’re a really good flyer – you just lie down on your belly in the bassinet and that’s you for about 8 hours with minor wake ups here and there. A real star in the air.
Unfortunately I can’t say you’re enjoying the UK winter too much. I think it’s the sheer amount of clothes you have to suddenly wear, making you look like the Oros man! I know how you feel.
You’re on solid foods, but you don’t do meals, really. Just a bite here and there. It doesn’t replace your milk, but you nibble. You still have a lot of milk through the night and now and then, but your main source of solids is stealing food off your sisters plate! She doesn’t mind too much though and is normally happy to share with you.
You’re in about the same sized clothes as Ameli. She’s taller than you, but body-wise you wear the same clothes. You’re not fat or anything, but you’re just… well, Mama’s child!
You are going for your first, way overdue haircut this week. You badly need it, but I wanted your first haircut to be special so we had to wait till we were back here.
I think that’s about it for now.
I just want to say thank you again for choosing us to be your family Thank you for coming to us and bringing light into what has been a very dark time. I know some people might say I shouldn’t tell you about how hard it’s been and what a rough time we’ve had, but the fact is, you have been a LIGHT. A light in a VERY dark time. When I look back over the year and I think of all the hardships, every picture in my head isn’t about struggling, and food, and rent. The pictures in my head for your first year are a little girl, smiling, laughing, nursing, crawling. Those are the things that 10 years from now I’m gong to look back on and remember, and I really, really, really thank you for that.
I adore you baby girl.
My dear Aviya,
It has been so many months since I last wrote to you, and I feel absolutely awful about that. You have changed so much since we arrived in Australia. You’ve gone from just pushing yourself up on your arms to walking properly, without assistance, and sadly, I’ve missed out writing about so much of it. I’ll make it up to you though, sweetheart.
You’ve adjusted to life in Perth incredibly well. You manage the temperature well, and while you wake up covered in sweat some mornings, you’re doing pretty well. You spend a lot of time just in your nappy, and you’re okay with that.
Aviya, you are the smiliest child I’ve ever had the pleasure of having anything to do with. I never thought Ameli was miserable or anything, but I don’t remember her smiling about everything. You do. You smile almost all the time. Your eyes light up, your face brightens. Your beauty radiates. And yes, you still look like a pixie, and you still make my heart melt.
You have begun to show so much character over the last few months, and while you are smiley you also have a temper that can scare the pants off an unsuspecting onlooker. Wow. When you get mad – like at the water bottle for not having water in it, or a toy for being stuck under furniture – you get mad fast, and loud. It’s impressive.
Milestones you’re knocking out the water too. You didn’t crawl for very long, but you crawled, and then on the 20th of December, you took your first steps, holding on to my hand – actually you were pulling me towards the water in the waterpark in Geraldton. You wanted to get wet and really, all holding your hand was doing was slowing you down!
On Christmas day – your first Christmas – you were beautifully dressed in a white dress with golden butterflies. You looked so lovely, but you were a bit miserable whenever anyone tried to pick you up. We didn’t know why, but when you were on your own you were okay. It was unusual for you, but we were all doing Christmassy things, so didn’t think too much of it.
You spent a lot of the day pushing around a heavy chair. You were ‘walking’! You pushed that chair up and down the room. I was so proud of you.
All in all, I’d say your first Christmas was good, apart from the fact that you were a little tearful at times.
The next day you screamed every time anyone tried to pick you up, so I decided enough was enough, and took you to Perth Children’s Hospital. After an x-ray, we discovered you’d broken your scapula! I don’t think I’ve ever felt so bad about anything in my life. My poor baby! You were crawling around with a broken shoulder for days! No wonder you were miserable!
We tried to put a bandage on you, but you weren’t really having it, so you had to go without it, eventually. Thankfully it seems to have healed by itself and well. You don’t have pain anymore, at least.
You spent much of January walking holding on to someone, walking along the furniture and pushing furniture to where you wanted to be. Your confidence has grown massively, and we knew it wouldn’t be long till you took your first unassisted steps. And on January 23rd, you did! Almost a month after your first assisted steps, you took your first steps all on your own. Hesitantly at first, and you plopped on your bum a lot, but at 10 months and 10 days, there you were: my toddler.
By a month later, you don’t crawl anywhere anymore. You just walk now, confidently and beautifully. It’s a quick transformation, and while I mourn the end of your babyness, I am loving watching you grow into a little girl.
Nana asked me the other day howcome I haven’t really done any baby signing with you, while I did a bit of it with Ameli. It’s an interesting question, and I’m not sure whether I have changed and am just more perceptive of your needs than I was first time round, or whether we just read each other better, or whether you’re just better at expressing your needs. Maybe it’s a mix of all three. Today, for example, you are 11 months and two weeks. You wanted a cherry tomato out of the bottom compartment of the snack box. You brought me the snackbox, and tried to climb on top of me. I opened it and offered you some hot cross bun. You shook your head, vigorously enough that you plopped down on your bum, off balance. So I offered you the cherry tomatoes. You took one, wombled off, plopped down and ate it. Then you came back to me, climbed on top of me again and we repeated the process.
What I will say, though, is you have a MEAN temper. When I don’t get your wants right, yu’re not shy in letting me know.
You’ve spoken your first words over the last couple of months too. It’s really cute. You crawl or walk through the house saying ‘Opa. Opa. Opa.’ That’s Oupa, or grandfather. It’s really sweet. When you see him your eyes sparkle, your face lights up, and you radiate your beautiful smile. You do love him.
You also say Kyra – although it’s more ‘AYA’, but you like it when she answers your call too.
And then you wave. You wave at everyone. You say ‘ALA’ loudly, and wave. It’s beautiful.
I’m not sure what happened to Mama or Dada in your vocabulary, but I’m sure they’ll come.
You’ve started having solids, but not much. You’re still mainly milk fed, but you will anihilate a cherry tomato as well as the next guy. Same with pasta and bananas. You also really like Pronutro porridge, but so far I feed it to you, because baby led weaning is really only acceptible so far in someone else’s house! You have six teeth now, and seem to be constantly working on new ones.
You are a lot more ‘attached’ to me than Ameli was. It’s rather nice, actually. In a playgroup or park or around other people, you’ll stay by my side, playing with whatever I have on hand. Occassionally you’ll follow Ameli into a sand pit or something, but for the most part you stay close. At this rate, she’ll be the one who makes friends, and you’ll be the one who sits at home reading a book. That’s fine. I’m happy with both those girls. I’ve been both those girls at different times in my life.
You’ve taken everything we’ve thrown at you so far these last four months entirely in your stride. You moved rooms without it distrupting your sleep too much. You’ve had accident and emergency and still, carried on smiling. You get super excited when you see Daddy on Skype and while you don’t ‘talk’ to him, you spend the whole time waving and being generally excited.
You are an absolute pleasure. A treasure and a joy to be around. Your Nana loves spending time with you and your Oupa adores you. You make him smile, and I think you bring him great joy.
Keep doing what you’re doing my beautiful pixie girl. It’s your first birthday soon, and I’m holding on to you as tightly as I can right now.
I am so proud of you. I watch you when I get into bed at night, and I thank you for choosing us. I thank you for coming to us. I thank God for you. I can’t imagine a life that didn’t have you in it.
You are my beautiful Avi, and I love you.
My dearest Squidgeling,
You are eight months old and a continued source of awesomeness and joy.
When your sister was a baby I used to think she filled my quota of awe, amazement and wonderment. I worried that when you came along, it would all be old news. It turns out, however, that you are so different, and have such different personalities, even now, that you show me entirely new sides that I’ve never seen before. You remind me of some previous amazements that I’d forgotten, and you take me to new places of thrill and excitement every day.
My dear beautiful darling Aviya
I feel utterly guilty when I think of how long I’ve left it between writing letters to you. There’s been so much change and development in you these last few months that I’m so sorry, but I’ll probably not encapsulate it all here. I have pictures of you though, my girl. I’ve not neglected keeping a record of your development.
I realise with surprise, at times, that I am a mother, and that I have a child. No longer a baby, but a girl, a daughter. Daughters. The word catches in my throat, and my heart drops into the pit of my stomach where it knots, making my head spin. Like a player at a roulette wheel,waiting for the deciding moment when the dream, the beautiful dream, may be swept away.
The moment passes, and I know, with your heads resting in the nooks of my arms, I know that this is forever, you will always be mine. My baby, my child, my daughters. In making you, you remake me.
My darling Aviya
You’re five months old today. Five months. Five months. I say the words out loud and I struggle to believe them. I write them down and they look wrong, feel wrong. Where has the time gone?! Have I held on to enough? Can I recall your scent? Will the memory of your hand clutching my little finger live with me forever? I fear I’m already forgetting every moment that wasn’t captured on film. How has it gone so fast?
I’ve learned so much about myself in the last few months. Things I’d never have known if it wasn’t for motherhood, and if it wasn’t for you. For one thing, I’ve learned that you can pick yourself up and drag yourself out and confront the world with a smile when you’ve got something – someone – for whom you have to ‘go on’. I’ve also learned that I’m made of pretty strong stuff.I knew the transition from no children to one would be huge, and I know that it was thoroughly life changing for me, in every facet of human-ness, but I had no idea that the move from one to two would be equally big, in entirely different ways.
I just hope that having gone back to work, no matter how ‘part time’ it has been, so early on hasn’t had an effect, negatively, on you.
I don’t think so though. Honey, you are the smiliest baby ever. You wake up and stare at the ceiling for a while, gurgling and being happy. It’s a foreign concept to me. Also, unlike your big sister, you are perfectly happy to lie there, watching the world go by, and then, perhaps, in a while, have some milk. It’s rather bizarre!
Everyone always asks me if you’re a ‘good’ baby. Of course you are. I mean, you’re a baby, you can’t even sit up yet. There’s not really a lot you can do ‘wrong’ in a prone position! Pedantics aside though, you are such a contended child. It’s an honour being your mama. You’re the baby books are written about!
You have a realy laid back and relaxed character. Nothing really phases you, and you smile at the drop of a hat.
Ameli adores you. The biggest threat to your safety is her all-consuming, overwhelming hugs. She lies on top of you, with her arm around your neck, and you rarely stand a chance! She loves lying next to you, picking you up onto her belly, then rolling over you and bringing you back up again. It gives me a heart attack every time, but you just smile at her, even laugh at her sometimes, which is total encouragement to her to do it again!
You’re not sitting or crawling yet, but you’re trying really hard to. In fact, you get so frustrated when you’re lying on your back straining your head, arms and legs in an attempt to get up. It’s quite funny, actually, and so endearing. You have managed to ‘scoot’ yourself off the bed twice though, so I’ve put you in the travel cot for the early parts of the evenings now.
Your wide, open-mouthed smile is gorgeous, it lights up your face. It stops strangers on the street. Everyone that meets you comments on your beautiful eyes and your amazing smile.
You’ve started ‘chatting’ to yourself, which is superbly cute. You say the ‘goo-goo’s and every now and then you’ll throw in a ‘da-da-da’. I love it. You’re so beautiful.
I was worried, once, that your ‘firsts’ wouldn’t be such a big deal, since we’ve been through ‘firsts’ before, but no, it’s not like that. Every time you do something new, I feel a thrill, an absolute wave of pure, unadulterated, unbridled joy. I have so much pride wash over me when you reach over and grab a new toy, or when you learned to jump in the jumperoo, or when you roll yourself over.
I smile at, and because of you, all the time. It’s just wonderful being part of your life. I regularly look at you and thank God for giving us you. I thank you for choosing us. I thank you for coming to us. At least once a day I close my eyes and breathe you in, trying to capture, and to remember these days, these moments.
I try to remember how you grab my breast with both your hands when you’re nursing. I want to remember how you hold on to my nursing necklace sometimes, and how you love playing with it. I want to remember how you like lying on top of my nursing as I rock you to sleep.
A few weeks ago you were asleep on my shoulder and you put your arm around my neck. A purposeful placement and I melted. I love that. I remember doing that with my dad and feeling so secure in his arms. I hope you feel secure in mine.
I am overwhelmed, sometimes, by the awesomeness of motherhood, by the magnitude of a love I spent 30 years not knowing I was even missing out on. I wouldn’t change a thing about who you are, about who you are to me.
I heard a quote about birth this week that I loved:
“The instant of birth is exquisite. Pain and joy are one at this moment. Ever after, the dim recollection is so sweet that we speak to our children with a gratitude they never understand.” ~Madeline Tiger
I think that’s true of being your mother too – I will forever have a gratitude to both my girls that neither of you will understand, until perhaps, you hold your own babies in your arms.
I love you so much
I realised with horror this morning that you’re almost 4 months old now and I’ve not written you a letter in ages. People always said with my second child I wouldn’t do the same and I vowed they’d be wrong. I intend to keep that promise to myself, for you, and to keep writing to you, but I’ll be honest and tell you that I sometimes just don’t have time. Every first thing you do is a beautiful gift to Mama and I treasure it deep in my heart.