One Pink Toothbrush

Welcome to One Pink Toothbrush, where I will be posting moments from my days as a mum and as a wife. Funny moments, messy moments, thoughtful moments, teary moments.... and hopefully using each moment to see what God might be saying.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Winning at Life

Back in the summer, we had a wonderfully warm family holiday in Spain. It took us the standard 19 hours or so of driving, with an hour's power-nap from the husband. Its amazing, you can just drive away from any issues...except that of course, the 7 people you live with come with you, so any family issues still come along for the ride. It doesn't take long for me to have to come to the realisation that my expectations of a fun, family holiday full of peace, love and laughter, need to be adjusted a little lower. It of course will have moments of fun and laughter, but it's not going to be argument-free, full of selfless acts of love, peace and complete harmony. 

I think we were two days in when the teens said they were missing their friends already, and maybe the holiday was too long. And the smallness of the static caravan came into play quite quickly, heightened by the midday sun. But you do get to throw kids out at 9:30am and send them to the pool to reserve sun loungers and swim off some of that energy, and you can make the two that aren't getting on go together, or you can split them up, or you can use the teens as parents and make them take a younger sibling out - many an option for 'Divide & Conquer'.

As well as building fun memories, reconnecting with each other, learning to swim under water, eating Tapas and drinking Sangria at 11am, burning together, we also enjoy family holidays because of the daily opportunity for family discussions, a tightening of our values and getting into the Bible daily. (Back home, we make Monday evenings family night for fun, snacks, sweets, no screens and the Bible, whereas on holiday, it can more easily be every day).

One morning I wrote out some Proverbs, negative ones and positive ones, curses and blessings, which in itself did good for my own soul. The Proverbs are full of a whole load of wisdom and challenge. That lunchtime, I put them all out on the table, face down. We took it in turns to read one out, and tried to work out what it was saying in general but also personally, how it was relevant to us. 

If it was a negative; "a babbling fool will come to ruin", you got nothing. If it was positive; "whoever walks in integrity walks securely", you got to choose from one of three mugs. The mugs were filled with sweets, chocolate bars, and Euros, because living according to the wisdom of the Proverbs, brings good things to your life! Not surprisingly, the kids (and the husband) got quite involved, seeing the good that the Proverbs brought them.

"My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body". Proverbs 4v20-22

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Mothering Through Sickness

Over the last few years of blog writing, it has been a privilege to interview different mums as they walk out their own mothering journeys. Feel free to read the different stories here. This latest interview, is with my friend Lucinda - mum of two, pregnant with her third and suffering with extremely debilitating morning sickness. (She is also an Aussie, so if you'd like to donate to the Bushfire Appeal through Hillsong church, please do so here). 

What’s the deal with you and pregnancies? (What happens to you?)

I get all the first trimester ‘morning’ sickness and exhaustion but to crazy extremes, lasting every waking hour from 5 weeks until the baby is out. My nausea is relentless and debilitating; it's like food poisoning. I throw up multiple times a day. And when I’m not being physically sick, I’m so nauseous that I’d almost rather be. I have SO MANY triggers…. eating, not eating, the smell of food, drinking, not drinking, taking tablets, being upright too long, the smell of the kettle boiling or shower water, exerting too much energy, other people’s breath, the smell of people if they've eaten garlic or curry, brushing my teeth, even the thought of food or an advert on the radio about a carvery...needless to say I’ve kept vomit bags in the car since.

I sleep about 18 house a day if life allows (this helps as I’m not usually sick when I’m asleep) until about 16 weeks, and then I can get by on around 12. My stomach is so painful. 
I don’t go out unless I have to, I don’t have the energy to see people. 
I check out of life pretty much. 

All this said, this time round I’m on a cocktail of drugs to help battle the nausea, I’m just about to hit 20 weeks and I’ve noticed a shift so maybe this time will be different!

Why go through it a third time? 

I ask myself this a lot at the moment and sickness aside, I could give you a thousand different reasons why it wasn’t a ‘smart’ idea. Short answer though, is that it felt like our decision was largely dictated by my horrendous pregnancy experiences, and the impact this has on our little family unit. I felt quite robbed by this, and also hated the idea of our decisions being by motivated by fear. So we prayed about it a lot. We didn’t feel peaceful about the decision to stop at 2, we had a moment of faith (like literally a moment), looked at our story so far, how God had always provided in crazy scenarios, and decided to go for it.

Apart from the physical symptoms, how does it affect you emotionally and spiritually?

On a bad day physically, I don’t have the energy to engage emotionally or spiritually. So to feel/notice a bad day emotionally and spiritually means that I’m slightly better physically. I feel low, lonely and isolated. I feel sad about the ‘life’ I’m missing out on, not spending time with our girls, and about how little I laugh. I despair about how long I have to go, I feel hopeless and helpless. I feel ‘done’ and unable to carry on. I cry and I’m not a ‘cryer’. 

To be honest, I feel like I’m yet to learn how to engage in life spiritually when I’m depleted physically. I don't know what it looks like to have nothing within and be able to engage with God. I’d say most of my pregnancy is ‘bad’ spiritually, I don’t worship or pray much, I read the bible very little, I’m not able go to church regularly.
And what can a better day look like?

Physically, better days have come this time round from about 17 weeks . The mornings, I’m ‘functioning’, I can kind of parent (as in, I can definitely keep them alive). I can work in the morning (normally I work as a social worker in public health 3 days a week). I can eat breakfast and lunch without fear of throwing up. I can engage with God and people. I then derail from around midday and usually need to lie down/sleep for the rest of the day/night. Usually I’ll be throwing up again by evening.

Emotionally and spiritually a better day usually entails a sense of hope and faith; a feeling of ‘yes this is Hell, but I can see the finish line’. I laugh more, I feel less isolated (because I usually am), I pray more, I choose to worship and read my bible. I hear God speak (usually through worship or someone else).

Do you ever wish you weren’t pregnant? 

I am so very thankful that I am able to fall pregnant, I am SO aware that pregnancy is a gift. I have numerous friends where the journey of falling pregnant and having babies, has been a road marked with pain and disappointment and hope deferred. I have cried alongside them as they’ve waited endlessly or grieved loss. I have petitioned God to intervene and breathe life. Just recently, I had the joy of meeting the miracle baby of a friend that we’d been praying for for FIVE long years - to say I was undone by it is an understatement. I don’t take it lightly that this has not been my story. And I don't want my very real feelings relating to my own pregnancy, to be read as insensitive to those whose story this is….

That said, truth is that this time round when I first found out I was pregnant, before I was knocked out by sickness, I was VERY thankful. But once the sickness kicked in, I’ve wished not to be pregnant pretty hard and pretty regularly. I can genuinely empathise with people who choose to end a pregnancy because it’s simply too much. The thought has crossed my own mind more than once. 
Do I feel guilty about this? YES. Does it go against what I believe and what I stand for? Absolutely. And I’m confident that short of God releasing me from it, I will feel the guilt even more when they’re here and I know them and I remember that these thoughts were my own. 

I’ve had people innocently yet unhelpfully make comments to the effect of ‘well it was your choice’ or ‘you knew it would probably be like this’, which has sent me down a path of believing that this pregnancy is a self-inflicted bad idea. It wasn’t until recently that I was reminded of the fingerprints of God all over this life that I have been asked to steward, that this life is first and foremost His idea, that their destiny and days have been established since before time began. Yes we made choices but ultimately HE breathed life as only HE can. Am I thankful? I know I am, I know this life is purposed by the King of Kings, but I don’t feel it much of the time right now.

How does this all affect how you can ‘mum’ the other two? 

I basically can’t actively 'mum' for more than a few hours and I only do it when there’s no other option. If I know I have a ‘whole day’ that I need to be mumming, I get really anxious in the lead up to it. My 4 year old watches 3 hours of TV while the 2 year old and I nap each day. 

What 'help' do you have?

Our village has rallied round and the support is off the charts. My friend commented recently that, ‘it sounds like you don’t just have a village, you have a city’ and that pretty much sums it up. I’m welling up now just writing about it, like I do every time I think about it. We have been truly blessed and actively loved by the people around us.

We've had meals that are big enough to last a few days delivered to our home, pretty much every other day since I got sick. I have 2 amazing women at my church who have taken my girls for the whole day, every Thursday. Every week they've contacted me and offered. My daughter has done ballet for the last couple of years and the mums of the girls she does it with, have become somewhat of a Friday morning community, so Friday mornings we go to ballet and they help me out. On the rare occasions I am solo parenting, I have friends who let me and my girls camp out at their place so I’m not really solo parenting at all. Other friends or family have taken the girls for a few hours every now and again on weekends to give Moro, (my husband) some down time.

My colleagues at work have shouldered more so I can do less, and they allow me to sleep under the desk when I don’t have clients.

I have one friend in particular who has really journeyed spiritually with me. She has been a huge gift. I know I’m on her heart, she prays for me every time she sees me and when she does, God speaks to my heart and I’m reminded that He’s not forgotten me, that I’m seen by Him.

Moro is the greatest human I know. He works full time and with me being unwell he basically does everything else too. He’s on parenting before he leaves for work and from the second he walks back through the door in the evening. He does dinner, bath and bed. He PLAYS. The sound of laughter that comes up the stairs and floats through my doorway.... 

He deals with the kids' night wakings. He manages melt downs (theirs and mine). He tidies and cleans. He makes lunches. He grocery shops. I can now drink water (if and only if, it’s ice cold); the ice tray has not once been empty as he keeps it stocked. He hangs washing and takes it down and puts it way. He does daycare drop offs and pick ups. He does park dates and play dates on weekends. For all intents and purposes he is a single parent. And he still manages to have a sense of humour. He’s still gracious and kind and patient and fun. He still gets up early to pray with mates and makes time to speak to family/friends in the UK. He still somehow has energy to see people socially when it fits. He’s not able to put as much into his work as he would like, but it’s a sacrifice he’s made without fuss. 
He’s always been the backbone of our family but never has it been more obvious.

Do your girls know you’re sick? 

My 4 year old does. She’s always surprised when I actually go somewhere with them, like its a novelty as I usually stay in bed. She also notices the one food I happen to be able to eat at any given time. She asks me to ‘hurry up’ when I’m throwing up, as ‘it’s taking too long’. My 2 year old doesn’t really get it.

They have been impressively resilient. They love going to their friends' houses. Sometimes they cry when they don’t want to return home. Bittersweet.

They’ve actually been pretty incredible meeting me where I’m at, quite literally. They get home from daycare and come straight upstairs to see me in bed. They pop in and out of my room all day when they’re home, pottering or showing me things. They always have story time in our bed before they go to bed. For the first trimester I was barely conscious for this, but now I read to them.

How's the mum guilt?

I know I can’t change it. I know I do what I can. I hate it. But I know that it’s out of my control. Last time it really hit me once I was well again. For instance, at playgroup my daughter would go to another parent for ‘find your parent’ at story or singing time. Stuff like this was tough and made me realise just how much she'd come to rely on other people while I was sick. 

Again bittersweet; grateful that there were others there for them, sad it had to be that way.
Along similar lines, the girls now usually both go straight to Moro when they’re hurt or need help or whatever. This is simultaneously the most beautiful thing, and heartache inducing. 

Are you mad at God? Able to be thankful to Him? 

I’m not mad at God, I don’t have the energy to be! Nor have I wanted to throw in my faith. I know it’s just a season that I have to ‘get through’. I do sometimes wonder why it’s like this for me and so different for others (but that’s a slippery slope and can be asked about most things in life). I’m thankful for Moro and for our girls, and the way they handle it. I’m thankful for the people He’s put around us and for the fact I can carry life. I wouldn’t say I’m thankful for the sickness, though it has given me a whole new level of thankfulness for being in good health (which I am when I’m not pregnant!).

I am able to worship when I’m physically slightly better, but those times it’s definitely still a choice. I’ve been surprised by how hard I’ve found it to actually speak or sing worship out loud (because of the energy it takes more than anything) but how powerful speaking or singing out loud actually is. 
Worship for sure, has really gotten me through; instilled hope and allowed me to both connect with and hear from God.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Daddy Daycare

I interviewed my friend Mark, he has three kids; Caleb 14, Bella 13, and Zephy 5, and one wife, Jenni.

Can you explain your home set-up, and what led you to it? 

We were heavily involved in work and church, meaning that we needed a nanny and childminder. I felt that my working life had plateaued and I simply had lost all enthusiasm for it, whereas Jenni’s career was beginning to really take off. The consequence of all of this was that we weren’t happy as a couple, or as a family. Our children were suffering due to a lack of parental presence and being too tired to do anything outside of work and church.

The solution seemed to be for me to become ‘House Dad’ and Jenni to go full time, giving her the freedom to pursue what she was loving. Because we were in the family business, we could make these changes with very little, if any, disruption to family or work.

Also, we knew it was probably only for a season – not that I was expecting to go back full-time, but I knew a time would come when I would get work of some kind, as things settled.

How did you initially feel about this change?

Excited, because it was the first time that I personally could see a way out of the rat race. God was opening a door to release me to help re-align our lives. It’s now been three years, and I can’t see our roles switching back. One thing to say, is that in the run-up to me stepping back, God made me increasingly more and more aware of the importance of family, predominantly as us, the Fulton family, but also as a church.

How does it benefit you all? 

As mentioned above, it frees me from the binds of the corporate world, it frees Jenni to pursue a career that she loves and is incredible at, and it gives the children the stability of always having a parent in the home – even when I’m strict or grumpy! I’m not a mother obviously, so they do miss out on that aspect, and I have come to realise that is hugely important, particularly for Bella.

And the challenges? 
Being at home all day on your own can be a repetitive, boring and lonely place, especially when all your friends, mainly men, are at work, so I try to meet up with guys when possible and having somewhere else to go during the week also helps. There have been moments when I have felt less manly, but I’ve reminded myself why I’m doing it, and of course ‘who’ opened the door and that helps to clear my head.

It doesn’t bother Jenni, except when the house is untidy and there’s no chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc waiting for her when she gets home… I wouldn’t have, and still don’t consider either of us to be part-time parents, but I know Jenni finds it difficult not being around as much as she used to be, especially when Zephy asks why she can't stay at home.

How have others responded to the changes? 

Overall, people have been very positive about it and in many cases have wished that they could do the same, especially the dads. Jenni’s role has since changed a bit and now involves more travelling, both nationally and internationally, and some people questioned this and whether it was ‘right’ for her to be away for days, sometimes a week or two at a time, strangely this was often said by women who’s own husbands do similar or have more travelling with work. However, I didn’t really worry what people thought, as we knew it had been God who had opened the door.

What is the best thing about being a dad at home?
Simply being around for the kids and being free of the workload. My kids like it, but do miss their mum and wish I wasn’t as strict.

Do you ever get jealous of Jenni, or wish you were back at work?
I used to have moments of jealousy, but I would remind myself that being at home is equally, if not, more important than a ‘career’. I am now employed a day a week at church helping them with publicity, I’ve now set myself up as a freelance designer which has brought in a small amount of regular design work. So my season of full-time House Dad is gradually coming to an end.

Has your view of 'God the Father' changed since taking on a different role?
I’ve always had a strong view of God as a father. He is showing me the areas that I need to work on with Jen and each of the kids.

What would you say to a family considering the same? 

Allow God to speak to you about it and show you where changes need to be made, because it might not require such a dramatic change, it might be that you just need to cut some things out of work or church or your social life in order to bring balance back. Take it to God. Although I didn’t get on my hands and knees to regularly pray about it and I certainly didn’t have a plan, I did think about it every single day and discussed it with God every single day as I went through my day.

Ultimately, it was God’s idea; He opened the door, but allowed us to decide whether to go through it or not – He is a loving father not a controlling one!

"As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him". Psalm 103v13

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Let's Talk About Sex Baby

Guest blog post from my favourite person; the husband! 
One of my favourite things about being a parent, is introducing my kids to the beautiful subject of sex and making babies. Both are gifts from God and I've experienced a lot of both. I don't think I had a very good education about sex when I was growing up, and so I resolved early on into my parenting that I didn't want my kids growing up, lacking in knowledge or having fear or shame around the subject. I also wanted to have the privilege of teaching them this, and for them to not hear it from a teacher or a friend first, or to search for information on the Internet.

Emma and I also decided that we wanted to have an open and ongoing dialogue about sex with our kids. Often we start and initiate conversations with them but we also encourage them to ask questions or tell us their thinking about it too. Like the time I was having a shower, and two kids opened the shower curtain to ask me what a vibrator was; not a situation I'd ever imagined having.

Our first foray into speaking to our kids about sex was when my eldest was six. He was reading graffiti at a local park and wanted to know why “Gaz” wanted to do various things to “Tracy”. So I booked our first eye-opening, coming of age, camping trip. 
Now a family tradition I have done 5 times, (with one of those being a trip to London instead, because the great British weather let us down).

Preparation needed;
- find a campsite close by, where you're allowed to make a fire
- get a tent, sleeping bags and camping paraphernalia
- go to the library and get out a junior generic reproduction book 

Friday after school;
- drive to campsite
- have fun putting the tent up together and getting everything ready

As soon as everything is sorted and in place, I explain to them that we are going to learn some important things over the next 24hrs, and we sit and look at the book together. I ask them if they know where they come from. They know they are from their mum’s tummy, that they start from an egg, and that they came out through labour or c-section. I then explain that we are going to learn some more about it and also about how the baby's life begins. I grab the book I’ve brought with us and try to go through as much information straight away, so they have the rest of the time embedding the learning and giving them ample time to ask lots of questions.

We talk about how babies are made, body parts, using words they already know and the biological words as well as any swear words that they may have heard at school. 
At the age of 6/7 some of my kids have known some bits and pieces about sex, while some have known absolutely nothing.

Once we have covered the biological stuff, it's time for us to have dinner and build a fire. With each one of them, I have got the wood and started building the fire... but inside the tent. Thankfully each one of them has questioned my wisdom on this. "DAD.... we can't build a fire in the tent, everything will get burnt". I receive this wisdom and we build the fire outside the tent. We enjoy the fire and roast marshmallows. 

My new favourite camping spot has a pub nearby where we go for a drink and some cheesy chips. Here I tell them that sex is an amazing gift from God...a bit like a fire. Fire gives us light and warmth and is good for toasting marshmallows and fun for firework night, but also that fire in the wrong place can be dangerous and burn things down. Fire in the fire pit was fun, fire in the tent would have meant the end of our camping trip. The same with sex; God has given it to us to enjoy, not just for making babies; that in a marriage between a man and a woman it is a lot of fun. This vivid reference to the beauty and danger of fire is ingrained into the discussions we continue to have about sex years and years later.

One of the areas we have to navigate, is when they begin to realise that people we know and love, don't view sex and relationships in the same way as the Bible. They will for example ask about their friends who have two mums or parents who are not married etc.  As with other areas of life, I explain that not everyone loves Jesus and the Bible and so they make different choices. We don't judge and question them. Instead, we love and respect them and pray that we get to tell them about how wonderful Jesus is.

On the second day of camping, we generally go for a walk, fly a kite, climb trees and go exploring. All the while making sure they have understood what I have said, and giving them space to ask me any questions. I make up word searches and we play the word game hang-man, using all the fun biological words we learnt the night before. At points it feels a bit funny and embarrassing, but I simply acknowledge that it is, and try to normalise it as much as possible. (Something the wife is still working on, when they talk to her about it). 

I underline that we can always talk about this subject and they can always ask questions. Even when it feels embarrassing, in fact especially when it feels embarrassing, because we don't want there to be anything that we can't chat about. Because we have told the truth and been vulnerable with this subject, it has served us well with other subjects that have come up over time. They trust us to give them an honest answer.
We talk about how it's best to talk about these grown-up subjects with grown ups, with us their parents and not with children, because children can often be silly and don't have the correct information. We say that it is not their job to educate their younger siblings, but that it is for mum and dad to do. They are however, allowed to chat to their older siblings about it. In fact one time a gang of already informed brothers were waiting at the window for when the newest enlightened brother returned. They threw an arm around his shoulder and headed upstairs for a chat. We could hear giggles galore from the kitchen. 

All of our kids are different. It's been important for us to know their differences, and let them have their own reactions to the subject, whether they have been grossed out, laughed out loud or even a little upset about it. One of them questioned whether or not we should have told them as it seemed like a subject that they should not know about. 
(They're quite a private person). 
It does feel quite young to broach the subject with them, but we know that we want them to hear it from us before anyone else.

Let me leave you with a couple of questions and comments that our kids have asked about sex, both on the camping trip and since then... mean shagging?
...I don't want to do that, it's disgusting! I'm not getting married, and I don't even know where to buy a ring from.
...does it feel nice?
... does it hurt?
... does mum know it's happening? Is she awake? long does it take?
... what’s a vibrator?
.... what’s a blow dog?
... why are sperm whales called sperm whales?

 "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds...Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth". Deuteronomy 11v18-21

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Snuggly Cuddles / Loss Awareness week

I am currently reading through all my past blog posts, in order to edit them into some kind of book format, which is kind of exciting. It's been a trip down memory lane. I started the blog when I just had the four boys, hence the name, 'One Pink Toothbrush'. (Now there is every shade of pink imaginable in our household, with glitter and unicorns attached). It's been good to remember the crazy, messy, boisterous, energetic stories from the past. 

One story I found, took me by surprise a little, as it's one I never posted. Just wasn't the right time, right place, right anything. But it's Baby Loss Awareness week, and so maybe it will bring someone comfort this week, or at least a place to acknowledge her own loss.
I didn't get to meet the latest baby in this one, but I did go on to have another, and for her, 
I am truly grateful.

I find myself 6 weeks pregnant and I decided at precisely 1:09am that tonight was the night that my other baby, (the 17month old) would not have night time feeds anymore. Good decision Mumma Bear. Solid! You can do this. I do love our night time feeds though... Everyone tells you how little sleep you'll get with a baby, or a subsequent baby, or a subsequent subsequent baby. People do love a doom & gloom moment to share; maybe it's to warn you, to prep you, but nothing quite prepares your mind or body for it anyway. But people should also share those golden moments, in the sleep deprivation haze, those little golden moments, where it's quiet and you get to snuggle them, and it's just you and them.

Every night between 1 and 3am, my baby girl makes that sad little whimper. I stir and mechanically wander downstairs. I wash up a bottle I find on the sofa, (she's 5th kid in, that changes things). I pour milk in the bottle, I microwave it, I drink out of it and I zombie walk back up to her room. I pick her up, and her dummy, and her other dummy, and her Woof Woof and her Bunny and anything else she sleepily points at. Off we all go and sit on the edge of my bed, having a cuddly feed. 

Some days, I try to make my eyes focus enough to read scripture. Most other days, I try to make my eyes focus enough to read status updates. It only takes a few minutes, then it's dummy in, hoist her onto my shoulder, gather her paraphernalia in my arms, carry her back into her room, lay her down in her cot, and she peacefully goes off to sleep, content and happy. And with a smug sense of maternal achievement, I do the same.

But tonight, I realised... well I've known for a while... that she really probably shouldn't still be having a bottle of milk, in the middle of the night, every single night, at her age. I've used the 'teething' excuse, the 'having a cold' excuse, the 'hungry' excuse, and the 'unsettled' excuse for long enough now. When the reality is, I just like our snuggly sleepy cuddles. And that's ok. Afterall, she is my last baby. But I do seem to be 6 weeks pregnant, with this latest last baby.... But it has made me realise that in a few months time, I really only want to be doing night time feeds for one of my babies, not multiple.

So I decided at 1:09am that I would go cold turkey with her. I have offered her water and various dummies. I have cuddled Woof Woof into her. I have covered her up and said 'Goodnight'. She is of course, screaming the house down. That was 27minutes ago. Now she's doing the guilt whimper; the "I thought you loved me" whimper, the "I miss my mummy" whimper. Oh she's good! I'm sitting here holding her water and a bottle of milk, wondering when I will cave in and pick her and woof woof and bunny up and put the whole house back to its peaceful state with our snugly cuddle. 

Do I let her cry it out or do I go and give her the one thing which will make us both feel better? Tears or sleep? Screams or sleep? Awake or sleep? My instinct says, "go for the sleep option, you might never sleep again". But then I know the day will come when either I'm feeding both babies in the middle of the night or just one. I can hear another child stirring, which is one of my other excuses for keeping up the night feeds. No mum wants more than one child awake at any given time during the night. 

Maybe I'll pray, one of those incoherent slurry prayers, where only God knows what I'm saying. I'll ask God for guilt free snugly cuddles or the grace I need to see this through.

An hour and a half in, since we started 'Operation no sleep tonight'. Look at me, holding out! She's going with the cute "mama" guilt ploy. She sounds so cute. I have picked her up and offered her the water again. We repeated the screaming phase, as soon as she realised there was no warm milk on offer. She's so fickle. The husband rolled over and said something which sounded like 'Well Done'. I asked him if I should just give her the milk and he said he didn't know, which has thrown me. That's so unlike him. He's usually the best at this bit, quite focused when it comes to letting them cry it out, but tonight he wants sleep too. He's been doing this for years. Yes we know it wont take long really, once we break their night milk habits...but tonight has already taken years and it's only 3am. I take his 'Well Done' as 'Keep going', and I hold out. She's whimpering now. 

My cute baby girl. Maybe she's teething or she's got a cold or she's hungry....

Morning did come round, as did the dark circles under my eyes. My baby girl loved me just as much the next day, and loved her morning milk even more. It took three nights, that's all. Three nights for her to realise she wasn't starving hungry, and could actually sleep through. Three nights for me to realise that 17 months was quite a long time to be getting up for our snuggly cuddles. I shall enjoy my relatively undisturbed sleep, until the heartburn and wees of Baby number six comes into play.

The little one in this blog post didn't make it. I don't know why. I don't think there's always reasons for these moments, or understanding. I remember the heartache and the physical pain. I remember sharing tears with the husband, and with my mum over the phone. 

I remember the box of 'loss' leaflets, propping open the door in the waiting room. I remember thinking that was insensitive. I remember the scan and not much being said. What was there to say? I remember feeling that she was a girl. I remember being fine. And I remember remembering. I am comforted to know that she went straight to meet her Father in Heaven; bypassed this world and got to be cuddled by the one who loves her more than I ever could. She never had tears, never had to whimper, just went straight to where there is no pain, no battle-ground milk feeds and always peace. I'll meet her one day and enjoy a snuggly cuddle I'm sure. 

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit".
Psalm 34v17-18

Wednesday, 9 October 2019


What does it look like, for a mum to succeed?
Maybe it’s looking like you’re never in need.

What does it look like, for a mum to succeed?
Is it accepting that help is what you do indeed need?

We look to the left, we look to the right,
Maybe I'm doing it wrong, and that mum is right?!

Or I’m the one nailing it, I judge, ‘what is she doing’?
She’s different to me, that shouldn’t be my undoing.

Maybe she’s thinking the same of herself.
Maybe she’s judging my health or my wealth.

Maybe you see a mum at the cafe,
She looks altogether, and her kids seem happy.
Who knows inside, if she’s feeling crappy.
And despairing of the imminent change of that nappy.

She does it that way, and I do it this…
Organised or spontaneously, we got through some kind of list
But we all end the day with our little ones kissed.
Some bits we got right, and some we just missed.

She had time to walk, she didn’t have time to breath
She had to book an appointment, she had to leave
She went for organic, with a spoon made of Bamboo
She sent a kid to school with only one shoe

Motherhood, it comes naturally to her,
Whereas for that mum, it's all just a blur.
She's got loads of kids, and her only one.
She's quite strict, whereas she's creative and fun.

She stays at home, and she works elsewhere,
Both mums here, are equal in care
Their little ones know that mum is trying
Their little ones maybe have seen mum crying

Crying with laughter because the kids are just funny
Crying with mental health struggles or money
Crying because its a lot to hold onto
Crying in relief because a cry was just due

She home schools, while she battles on the phone, 
She talks it out with anyone, whereas she does it alone
She speaks to a school, bangs her head on a wall
While she makes it up and feels like a fool.

They’re both in need of peace and rest
They’re both just trying to do their best

The problem with success is we look to the side,
To see if we’re better or worse, that’s our guide
Yet our eyes should be lifted, our hearts set above,
To see success was already achieved in love.

Christ is seated, He has sat down. It’s done.
A concept not known well of, to the busy mum.
What would it look like to just stop and sit?
Is anything actually finished? Is this really it?

But Christ is seated because what He came here to do,
He has indeed done, for me and for you.
Our life is hidden with Him, so what does it matter?
Why do we get bogged down with the matter?

God's grace is sufficient, His mercy is new
His faithfulness is unchanging, His goodness pursues you!

We need to have each other's backs
Us mums, we need to give where there is lack
An encouraging word, a nod, a smile,
A gift, or wine, even babysit for a while.

We need to look at our load through a new lens,
Reject some lies here and there and then,
Set our minds on Christ. Who are we, in Him?
Which should cause us to glow brightly, not be so dim

Dim with the lights out, cos we’re heavy and tired
Or dim cos we’re taking the glory from where it should be wired
It’s not about us, how well we are doing
It’s all for Him, that’s what we’re pursuing.

The Mother simply has a lot to do,
And questioning her actions isn’t anything new
Questioning our own worth is thrown in there too
Not forgetting to wonder, Help. What do I actually do?

How do I do it? What does he need?
Will she turn out alright; a hopeful plead...
How long does it take you to learn to read?
Have I done enough? Did I succeed?

Yet our biggest mistake is not what they ate
Not what we said, or if they got to school late.
It’s doing all the matter, in our own strength
While holding our maker way out at arm’s length.

Not abiding in Christ, Not abiding in Him
Not reading His word and hearing Him sing
And not stopping to listen to what He has to say
He says, “Fear not, this is the Lord’s day”.

“I am with you, to the ends of the Earth”.
“I never forget sparrows”, I know your worth.
“I am sat at my Father’s right hand”.
I’ve got you, and your beloved all in hand.

"My grace is sufficient, My mercy is new
My faithfulness is unchanging, My
goodness pursues you!

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God". Colossians 3v1-3