You find a sandcastle on the beach, studded with shells. It is a kingdom, an empire, abandoned by older children and all four of you are entranced. For the longest while you play with it, tracing the sand walls with your fingers, adding shells of your own to the turrets. It has a moat, and for a little while I contemplate fetching buckets full of water to fill it for you, wishing fervently all the while that I had brought paper to make boats. It is almost the end of our holiday and in spite of copious amounts of sunscreen that makes you smell of coconut, you sport golden tans, your hair is sun-bleached and crinkly with salt. You look like dream children, like you have been cut carefully from a catalogue, and I am full of disbelief again that you are mine. If we were at home it would… View Post

The night before you turn two years old, your mama and I stay up late to bake you a cake.  It is the cake that we always make, the cake that I think that you will associate with your childhoods one day: a vegan dark chocolate chip cake, made with almond extract and smothered in sprinkles.  I could make this cake in my sleep and I almost do, blearily, adding in a little of this and then a little of that, mostly by taste.  I am so tired that night; a busy week in the office, followed by an active day with the two of you and your brothers, has almost broken me.  I feel guilty, as though I have not made the most of you; I have this urge to wake you from your rest and bring you into bed with us, to sleep with us how you slept… View Post

You blink and it passes, swallowed up in fluttering first kicks and then the tumbling, cats-in-a-bag subsequent sensations, in restless legs and insomnia and the countdown first to viability and then to the next milestone and the constant, nagging suspicion that you could not possibly be so fortunate.  You sleep less, with four children; you justify the exhaustion by reminding yourself that you are not carrying twins this time, you are not nearly so anaemic this time.  You nest; your Pinterest is full of cushions and art.  It distracts you from thoughts of what you should be doing, preparation you should be making.  You feel so underprepared, which is silly – this baby was planned, you have had babies before, how much preparation can you possibly need?  You are not a frightened seventeen-year-old hiding her bump beneath a school skirt.  But it strikes you sometimes that those frightened seventeen-year-olds may… View Post

Ever since my sons were very small, I have been dreading the day that they decide to take charge of their own style and begin to reject my choices. Little did I realise that although the boys are almost two years older than their small sisters, in fact it is the little girls who have the stronger opinions about what they will and will not wear. In fact, it is lovely to present the boys with new items of clothing – they gasp with joy and are ecstatic to show off whatever they have been given, to lovingly detail the colours and patterns and to receive our approval. And little Embla is not difficult to dress at all. Olympia, on the other hand.. well, the child has very decided opinions and they vary from day to day. She seems to gravitate toward fleecy onesies, even in the height of summer,… View Post

Oh, my little girls. It seems like only the other day that you were perfect strangers and we marvelled at you as you thrashed beneath my skin, and we wondered who you would be when you were born. But my dreams those days only stretched so far; I couldn’t imagine you as anything more than babies, couldn’t envision the little girls that would grip my heart and squeeze it so tightly that sometimes, in the office, the thought of you leaves me breathless. It doesn’t seem two years ago that we daydreamed of you, and yet I feel as though I have known you all my life. On the cusp of your second birthday I wanted to take some time to write to you, to celebrate the children that you have become. You are such beautiful beings. I don’t mean physically – though you are – but your enormous hearts,… View Post