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Forgoing Happiness?

So I was sat at the dinner table last night, just me and the 3 boys; and as I watched them devour what I’m sure was about a ton of pasta between them I found myself smiling. I watched as the eldest two debated the pros and cons of finding crème inside a crème egg, (don’t ask, the crème egg obsession is a little out of control in my house at the mo!!) interjected with Archer’s grunts of agreement and his cheesy laughs at a joke no-one actually told. Being a mum makes me happy. Happiness is such a complex entity when you really break it down. It sits alongside things like success as this over-riding goal of life and yet one does not equate the other; despite expectations very often success doesn’t actually lead to happiness. What even is happiness? How do you define it? How do you measure it? More importantly how do you obtain it?

For me happiness can be found in a balance; a balance of releasing what stops me from feeling unhappy and indulging in what truly gives me joy. Give me a craggy, deserted beach where I can watch the sea or a forest to get lost under a canopy of green and the stresses and worries of life seem to be washed away. That’s what sucks out my happiness: stress and worry! I have really strong memories as a child of my beautiful, incredible mother being so stressed. Maybe that’s not surprising when I acknowledge she worked so hard as a nurse while bringing up 4 children and had a husband whose primary relationship was with the pub!! Yet it makes me sad looking back remembering how stressed she was, I’m not sure how much of motherhood she really got to enjoy. It’s certainly not something I want to replicate in my life. But it makes me wonder, do we as women and mothers sometimes not allow ourselves to be happy? Do we knowingly take on too much and refuse to ask for help?

I do not want my children to perceive motherhood as an all-consuming drain on the woman, it is a gift. Just as a mother is a gift; one which should be cherished and looked after. How often do we as mothers take on too much, how often do we over fill our days with chores and obligations? We are allowed to say “no” even to our children. I honestly believe it is good for our children to witness us put ourselves first. For our children to respect and value their mothers and learn gratitude for all the things we do for them. Yes the most astonishing strength exists within a woman, which often reaches its full potential when she becomes a mother. Our bodies endure in my opinion the most phenomenal act a human-being can experience, we create life. As mothers we love more passionately, protect more fiercely and give more unreservedly than we ever could have imagined possible. Reward yourself, allow yourself to be happy, indulge in your passions and interests, reside in places that offer you peace, rest and nurture your mental and physical being. Our children’s memories are being constructed right now; when they look back let them see their beautiful, incredible mothers happy, smiling and enjoying motherhood.

Charlie.

Baby Names

I love talking about baby names!! I can’t help it. I must drive my hubby insane because from the minute I know I’m pregnant that is all I want to discuss. It’s so exciting, with so much possibility. I wanted to share with you the little stories behind how each of our 3 boys got their names.

Starting with my eldest Finley, I was certain I was having a boy with Fin so we never settled on a girl’s name but we had Alfie picked out quite early on. That was until a lady I worked with told me her daughter had had a baby boy which they were going to call Finley but changed their minds when he was born. I really hadn’t heard the name Finley before this but as soon as I did I fell in love with the name. It means fair hero/warrior, which couldn’t be more fitting because Fin came along at a time when I felt lost in my life. He was my little hero and put me right on the path I was meant to be on. Now with Ethan I was snuggled up one evening watching ‘One Tree Hill’ like a proper grown up!! When the story line saw one of the main characters look after a baby that needed a serious heart operation and obviously the doctor who performed this was amazing and utterly gorgeous. After the operation he finally reveals his first name “Ethan” well that was it, that’s the name for my next son!! And if EB had turned out to be a girl we would have suck with the E and named him Eva. Then with bump number 3 we had our girl’s name all picked out; both Rich and I both loved Maggie. But I really struggled throughout my third pregnancy to find a boy’s name I loved as much as the other two. When I came up with Archer Rich wasn’t totally convinced. Now Archer’s labour actually started on Saturday the 21st of November, the last day under the Scorpio star sign. Sagittarius starts on the 22nd and is the centaur shooting an arrow. So I got Rich to agree that if the baby wasn’t born until the Sunday and was a boy we had to name him Archer. It would be a sign from the stars, and so it was.

There are so many things to consider when it comes to naming your baby: Will their name grow with them throughout their lives? Will their name pick up unwanted connotations? Does it work with their surname and other siblings names? Then when you have found your perfect baby name you have to get your other half to agree (which if he’s anything like mine is sometimes the hardest part!!) I can understand why some parents might find that responsibility overwhelming. But it is an incredible privilege, a gift from you that your child carries with them their whole life. A gift that you have deliberated about, desperate to get it right, desperate to find the ‘perfect name’ for your most precious entity. You give your child the title to their story.

Just for fun I have complied a list of my top 5 boy’s and girl’s names for our final instalment (I have broached the subject apparently 4 children is Rich’s limit haha!).

Girls
  1. Maggie
  2. Luna
  3. Winter
  4. Willow
  5. Quinn
Boys
  1. Noah
  2. Eli
  3. Lochlan
  4. Cooper
  5. Dexter

I would love to know what you guys think of them and if you have any other name suggestions please let me know, thank you.

Charlie.

Lets talk about Sex (after) Baby!!

OK so let’s rewind a little bit. Back to when we first met our spouses, before all the parenthood and responsibility got involved when it was just the two of you. When I met my husband what drew me to him was the way he looked, it was a physical attraction and I’m going to hazard a guess that’s the same for the majority of us. Now let’s go a little primal for a second; as grownups that very quickly turns into a sexual attraction, it’s an animal instinct. So you find someone sexy, they find you sexy, which often makes you feel sexy and then there’s a whole lot of sexy sex – we get it it’s all very sexy!!! Then those precious, life altering, little blessings otherwise known as our children come along and very often the sex makes a sharp exit out the door labelled ‘I’m sorry you’re a parent you don’t get to have fun anymore!!’ I want to shout “Wait!! Come back!!!!”I definitely did not sign the bit in the parenting contract where I agreed to give up my sex life!!

It seems to me there is a strong presumption that we women are the ones saying no to sex, that we simply have no need or desire for it. And that’s crap! It’s not that we don’t want to have sex but the reality is after having a baby it takes time for your body to heal, you’re exhausted and then there are all the physical and emotional changes to adjust to. The actual physical changes that your body goes through during and post pregnancy are immense; as the owner of that body your total lack of control is extremely difficult to adjust to. Don’t get me wrong being pregnant is an amazing gift, it’s what forges the incredible bond that you have with your child. You grew that baby; your body created that life, it sustained them, it protected them and it brought them into this world. But that doesn’t alter the fact that the entire process is also undeniably overwhelming. Compacted by the fact that our society continues to celebrate women based on a ‘smaller is better’ size scale; your newly enlarged figure can leave you feeling less Victoria secret model and more Mrs Potato-head in a bra.

So how do we get our sex lives back? While this undoubtedly takes two, (funny that!) both you and your partner have to work together. I honestly believe we as women have to take the first step in attempting to come to terms with the changes we have undergone physically and emotionally. And it’s important to point out these aren’t necessarily negative changes but any change requires adjustment. One of the biggest difficulties I have experience after having babies is regaining my confidence. Having seen my body change; the body that my husband fell in lust with, I no longer felt comfortable in my own skin, let alone sexy. Yet often it’s the smallest things which can start the ball rolling in making big differences. Half an hour in a bubble bath, a manicure, getting your hair done or just a bloody nap!! This isn’t about the way you look, it’s about the way you feel. It’s about acknowledging that you are important, that you deserve to be pampered and have time and money spent on you. Give yourself permission to be a priority, you do deserve it!!

parent-hands

But let’s not forget those men, because they have such an integral part to play in all of this (and I don’t just mean the sex). If the men in our lives are also craving their sex lives back they need to do a little bit of leg work. So listen up fellas; men need to support their partners and build up their confidence as a whole. It’s not just about telling your spouse she looks beautiful, it’s about reassuring her that she’s doing an a amazing job in this all-consuming role of motherhood for which there is little preparation. It’s about encouraging her to take a break and coming to her aid when it all gets too much, because it does and it will. If you want to rediscover your passion as a ‘parent couple’ you have to adapt your relationship to fulfil the fresh needs of each other, now as parents. Remember to be patient with one another, it may simply take time and that’s OK. 

Being a mother shouldn’t prevent us from feeling like attractive, sexual women; the two don’t oppose each-other. You can be both. You are both. You can love and nurture your children, while also being passionate and intimate with your spouse. Being a mother is the very embodiment of womanhood but likewise so is your sexuality; your children wouldn’t exist without it. So embrace both; they are equally part of the incredibly beautiful, multifaceted experience which is being a woman.  

Charlie.

Yes to a cuppa!!

I don’t really like to admit this but my go to answer when invited to do things is “oh I think I’m busy, sorry”. That sounds awful I know!! I’m talking about invitations from other mothers that can range from a cuppa at their house or a baby group, to a night out. It’s not because I don’t want to go and do those things or because I don’t like the people inviting me (usually it’s the complete opposite). Genuinely I just lack the confidence; since becoming a mother I have found that my confidence has plummeted, and that’s my confidence in myself as an individual person and myself as a mother. Which sounds ridiculous when I point out that I’ve being doing this ‘mother’ thing for almost 10 years; you’d think I would have found my stride but no!

Before I had children I knew exactly who I was, what I liked and what I stood for. Admittedly I did become a mummy at quite a young age so maybe it was the beautiful, brazen ignorance of youth but I certainly wasn’t worried about what anybody thought of me! Then along came my amazing Fin, who transformed my life in the best way; and along with all the love, all the possibility came a shit load of doubt. I had been given something so unbelievably precious, most of all to me and the responsibility to nurture this little life and introduce him to our world rested on my shoulders. What if I got it wrong? Combine that with the fact motherhood changes so much about you, in so many different ways that you can feel like you have completely lost all sense of ‘yourself’. What makes you, you? So many of my values, beliefs and opinions changed with motherhood and because it’s such a journey I have found the change a continual thing.

Motherhood tears you down physically and emotionally; the emotional and physical toll on the mother is huge. I found myself feeling totally lost and struggling, feeling as if I wanted to hide away from the rest of the world; much more so after my 3rd baby then I had with the previous 2. Yet ironically it’s at this time that we need the support of others, especially other mothers. Because they get it. We have all been there; when we feel incredibly low and totally inadequate, like we are getting it all wrong and constantly doubting ourselves. When you are trapped in your own little bubble filled with self-doubt it is all too easy to perceive other mums as doing a much better job than you and having it all under control. That’s definitely not the case!!image-2

It is INCREDIBLE the difference a cuppa and a chat can make when you’re feeling over-whelmed, tired or lonely. And that’s been the thing I’ve found hardest since having baby no3 is that I get lonely, despite knowing a lot of other mums. So I have made myself get out of the house much more recently; for both my own and Archer’s sake I’ve said “yes” to invites from other mums. I still get nervous about taking Archer out, I worry that something will go wrong or a situation will arise and I won’t deal with it properly. This could be anything from him having a meltdown or hurting another child or even just a nappy explosion that I’m not prepared for. I’m scared I’m going to look like an incompetent mum and that other mothers will judge me or my child. But the truth is its ok for things to go wrong, the baby/toddler years are bloody hard work!! So we will encounter meltdowns, tantrums, nappy explosions we’re not prepared for! We will lose our tempers, our minds, our keys!! But hopefully we will all have another mum who completely understands to make us a cuppa, lend us a nappy and laugh/cry at it all alongside us.

Charlie.