“Mummy Work.” He is a dissheveled bedhead, two-foot-nine-inches of pyjama-clad little boy standing between me and the front door. “You no going to work today. It Saturday.” It’s Tuesday. He wants me home with him all of the time and I can never understand it; by the time that the weekend rolls around I feel so thinly-spread that I’m almost transparent, like I never get the chance to be the best Amber that I can be, the best mother that I can be. But I always try to ensure that their weekends are packed full of adventure, that we go out and DO things (I can either be exhausted in the house or go out and be exhausted at Winter Wonderland or on a nice amble through the woods), that we make time to play and to laugh a lot. I feel very strongly that at the weekend, Kirsty should get some time off from mothering and I should have my chance to shine; it is so good for my relationship with these little people to have them see me as The Mummy for a little while. Still, I know that I would be a better mother if I slept more, if exhaustion and anxiety didn’t sit like a constant leaden weight on my chest. But last night, walking home in the dark, the rain-soaked pavements and flashing headlights gave the world a dream-like quality and I thought to myself that these are probably the best years of my life,… View Post

It feels like forever since I’ve blogged just for the sake of documenting, rather than to capture a specific event or milestone. Part of this is time – between my real-life job, which is really a 24/7 sort of role and means that I often come home just to sleep, and the needs of my family, which must be prioritised over the blog – and part of this is just that I’ve felt a little emotionally battered of late by the above. Sometimes I feel like I have the ability to be excellent, but with the constant pull in all directions I have no choice but to settle for mediocrity, which is so frustrating. Sometimes I feel like my name should just be ‘Sorry’; I probably spend more time apologising than actually working or parenting, and often these days I find myself feeling frustrated, discouraged and ashamed. My to-do list is enormously long and most of it has been untouched for such a period of time that it feels permanently scarred on my psyche. I am trying so hard to mother well, to be patient and kind, because after all, they are the reason behind all of my efforts. Still, sometimes I disappoint myself in the way that I relate to my children, and that hurts my heart. They are such beautiful, kind and gentle little souls. They deserve better than a tired and irritable mother. But, every day is a new day.  A new opportunity to greet the world,… View Post

“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