“Oh Jo, your hair!  Your beautiful hair.” — Lowering the mirror, my son looked up at me.  “I not Jo.  I Zaza!  That’s Sashie-Bashie, he’s my brother.” We had been promising ourselves for months that when they turned three, we would cut their hair.  It wasn’t a gender-specific thing, we discussed it amongst ourselves and we agreed that if they were girls, we would consider cutting their hair too.  The trouble was that they have both inherited my cotton-wool fine, tangly hair, and they hate to have it brushed.  We agreed that we would allow them to have their hair cut because they wanted it cut, because we had sympathy for the wincing as we tried our best to detangle their bedheads before breakast. We told ourselves and each other that short hair would suit them; it would draw focus to their eyes. My mother volunteered to cut it, and we accepted.  In a strange fit of optimism, we allowed her to do so under the influence of a cocktail of pain medication following a bone graft in her mouth three days before..! Eighteen months ago, gravid and hormonal, I had wept ugly tears in the office when Kirsty cut their fringes without warning.  At the time it had felt like an enormous milestone, the first haircut, but I know now that this is it, the real first, when their baby hair was shorn and from the detritus of lost ringlets emerged my sons, no longer toddlers but little boys. And… View Post

Oh, my little girls. You are fifteen months old. You are sunshine and moonlight, brilliant in your own beautiful, individual ways – but so different. You, my Embla, firstborn daughter, you are capricious and mercurial, serious and contemplative. You make us work for your amusement but when laughter breaks through it is a geyser, and you are captivating. You have recently found your feet and in the space of days, evolved from crawling to running, hands held in front of you like a little squirrel. Sometimes you stalk your brothers around the room, pressing kisses on them whenever they pause. And nobody dare hurl themselves to the floor to cry lest they find themselves smothered in baby. You love your ‘row, row, row your boat’ song and will clamber onto a lap and take our hands to request that we swing you and sing to you, only your mouth gets carried away and what comes out sounds more like ‘rororobobo’. But it’s ok, baby, we know what you mean! Communication is suddenly of great interest to you and you have started to greet people with ‘hi’ and wish them ‘bye’ with a little wave, and you love to pop out suddenly from behind curtains and boxes with a merry ‘boo!’. You are a fat little chipmunk and we love you so much. Olympia, you are the little girl I always knew I would have, and yet you still astonish me. I thought that your babyhood would last longer; when you… View Post

I don’t see him so much any more. Years ago, when the boys were small and made up more of biology than their own individual personalities, I looked for – and found – him all of the time. Anything unfamiliar was attributed to our donor and I would feel this pull of gratitude around my heart that somebody helped us and now, here we were, a family, with his blue-eyed boy laughing up at us, a tiny tribe of me and him. These days, when I look at my children I see themselves, their own quirks and personality, their mother’s expressions fleeting across their own small faces. I don’t see him. I barely think of him. That’s how I knew that I was ready. I don’t believe in karma.  I don’t believe in balance.  And yet sometimes I look around myself these days, at my beautiful partner and my perfect gaggle of children and I think yes, that’s what it was all for.  And now I have you.  And I wanted to give something back.  Don’t get me wrong, quite often I find myself closing my eyes and mouthing silent thanks to all of the gods in whom I don’t believe.  And I hope very much that the doctors and nurses who helped to make my babies still read my blog, as they used to, and they feel a sense of pride and satisfaction every time they happen upon a photograph of us radiating joy, a modern love story personified.  But he doesn’t… View Post

Today you turned three.  We had one of those magical days that are made all the more special by not doing much of anything at all, by taking the day at a three-year-old’s pace.  We walked to the bakery for breakfast and you demanded the smiley-faced shortbread biscuits that you always request, albeit usually at a more civilised hour.  You know the sort – with the iced-on smile and the Smarties for eyes?  I would have given you anything and we tried to persuade you toward something spectacular, but it was your birthday and you wanted the faces. The rest of the day was taken up with playing with your new toys – you particularly liked a singing recycling van – and with a trip to your favourite park on the bus.  You love being chased, rough-housed and tickled and I always have so much fun playing with you.  I am so proud of your confidence, of the way that you will climb anything like little monkeys and chat to anybody.  You are so sweet and funny, so innocently loveable, that I am a little disbelieving that you came from me. You came into my life and you changed it.  We were twenty-four and still finding our feet, so sure of everything, and you took everything that I thought I knew about myself and about motherhood and you made it into so much more.  It took me some time to find the path through the woods of mothering you, but now… View Post

Sometimes, the cosy stay-indoors days are the best.  Some days, it’s ok to just say no, I’ve done enough for this week, to pull a duvet day, to pull the curtains and to lock the door and boil the kettle for hot chocolate.  Today was one of those days for us.  We had grand plans for today.  There is a place just far enough from here to feel like an adventure, a woodland of sorts that I visited when I was small and was so magical that I thought for years that I had dreamt it.  I’ve never been back since, but when I heard that this place was hosting a Halloween party for little ones, I couldn’t resist buying tickets. Anyway – as you’ve probably guessed, we didn’t go.  It wasn’t the day and that’s ok; we’ll visit another time. We decided to have some fun in the house instead. And isn’t it so LOVELY when the bends in the road lead to patches of unexpected beauty in strange meadows. Mothering these four is my favourite thing.