Twenty-eighteen. There is so much that I hope for this year; the year that will close with my thirtieth birthday. I have so many beautiful, wild dreams. Some of them are quite big – I want quite desperately to take my waterbabies overseas this year, to watch them play on gentle sands – and some are smaller, little hopes that sit plumply within grasping distance if I just find the courage to reach out for them. A most important one for me is that I want to learn to mother better; I love these babies of mine so fiercely that sometimes I am afraid that it will crack me, that one day I will be sat in the office and I will feel myself snap and shatter, pieces of myself strewn across the desk that is never quite tidy. Sometimes I don’t know where to direct it, the waves of emotion, the sudden overwhelming longing to hold them when they are at home or nursery and I am so far away that it could be a different world. I place so much meaning on our weekends together that when it doesn’t go to plan, as it sometimes goes with two three-year-olds, I feel so angry – which isn’t fair on them because three years old is such a baby, really, and I want them to believe that the world in which they are growing is a just world and to believe, for now at least, that their parents always hold the keys.
Last year I worked so hard on healing my fractured relationship with my own mother; it took me so many years to acknowledge that my childhood expectations of her were simply too large, that she did the best she could whilst parenting through pain and that whilst she was, at the time, my mother – she was also a woman like I am now, a person, fallible. She did the best she could. It didn’t feel like enough at the time but it was her best every relentless day. This year I would like to surround myself with mothers. I have the tremendous fortune to love and live with the best mother I know, my own wonderfully patient Kirsty, but I wish that I had more friends who also have children; sometimes I wish that I too had the time to take my little ones to toddler groups and midweek park trips, to see how the other mothers do it. I have my online communities of course and Channel Mum, whose facebook group I have been moderating since May and who have just launched a forum staffed by a trained Health Visitor and a Clinical Psychologist, but sometimes I just want to speak aloud and feel heard, and to sip my coffee and listen, and to watch my children interact with their friends. There are some murmurs behind the scenes about a Channel Mum Group picnic in Regents Park this Spring though… so perhaps I will be so lucky as to meet some of the wonderful ladies who read my blog and with whom I speak through Channel Mum. Motherhood can be so lonely and isolating, so divisive and polarising, and I feel so proud to be a part of the administrative team, curating a safe space where women can speak and be heard. I can hardly wait to take this further into twenty-eighteen.
This year, you can expect to see fewer sponsored or collaborative efforts across the board on Meet the Wildes. There are a few commitments that I must honour, but I long to write for me, for us, to document joyously and without the guilt and the shame that I feel whenever a deadline slips past when my attention is distracted by my ‘real’ job or simply my longing to immerse myself in my family, my beautiful linchpin Kirsty and our children, who want my every waking moment so desperately when I am finally home. Our family memories are precious to us and I hope to continue to photograph and to film and to spill myself, cathartically, into this blog of mine – but I would like to give myself a little break from the paid commitments unless on balance, they really and truly benefit both the blog and the children. Somehow I had allowed myself to define myself, my value, by how much money I am earning – when what we need most is unfettered family time; I crave those moments so fiercely that sometimes, mid-week, I think that when I finally see those children I might squeeze them so tightly that their heads will pop off!
I love, passionately, the little snowflakes whom we have in ice, suspended in time. There are two for me, left over from the round of IVF that conceived my sweet daughters. And there are two for my friend Jules; you might know if you follow my blog that I donated eggs to Jules late last year. Sometimes in the middle of the night when I wake abruptly I think of them, our own small silent nights, our babies-that-could-be, and the thought stings my eyes and changes my pattern of breathing. I want it for her, pregnancy and childbirth, that unbelievable wonder of holding your own newborn, but I want it for us too. Everywhere I go, I see babies. Kirsty too. We are all over them, we are so far into strangers’ prams sometimes that they might as well just push us too. I look at my little boys, the way that they gently pull their cheeky-monkey toddler sisters in for cuddles and they exclaim at them – “Ahhh, she’s SO SWEET” – and I want to know them as big brothers to a tiny one. We don’t feel that we are done; we don’t feel that our daughters are our last babies. So this year, we would like to have a fifth baby – just one this time! I would really like to document that journey.
Finally, I hope to look for the joy in this year. To embrace it. I am so fearful of rejection and of failure and abandonment that I am constantly alert to the early warning signs, gathering together my threads like a spider. There is always so much beauty and I am afraid that I am so constantly looking for the shadows that I forget to stop and revel in the sunlight. By Saturday afternoons I am dreading Monday, but by Friday afternoon I am so tense with pre-weekend anxiety that my thoughts are all over the place. I think that the release from paid commitments will make this so much easier; just this past Saturday when I would ordinarily have been scheduling our day with the precision that I plan to now reserve for the office, instead I took these two for a ride on the train, a wander about one of our favourite and most colourful parts of London, a pain au chocolate and a sneaky lick from the foam of my almond cappuccino.
They had the very beginning of colds, that first few hours where they are sad and irritable and they can’t articulate why, and ordinarily I would have started our little adventure feeling like a full cup; their sadness and frustration might have spilled me over. If it were down to me they would always be happy and everything would always be a magical fairyland dream, but real life doesn’t work like that and they are the children; it’s not their job to moderate their emotions for my benefit. So we stood in the street and Lysander howled and Balthazar span in circles and finally, frustratedly, I asked them what they wanted from me.
“A cup of coffee and a slice of cake!”
“Oh yes! We need a nice cup of tea!”
It’s exactly what we did. And this is why I document our lives, so I can remember forever that I took the deepest of breaths and we made an about-turn into a coffee shop, Sans Pere, where the kindest waitress assured me that they were family-friendly and seated us beside the window. I want to always remember the way that they ate: Lysander, voraciously, all pastry flakes on his chin and Balthazar nibbling like a little squirrel, how they coaxed little sips of my cappuccino, picked up the spoon unprompted and quite spontaneously thanked me for ‘taking me to this nice coffee shop, Mummy.’ I want to remember it and to replicate it, and to always be that mother. The best mother that I can be.
That night I heard them telling Kirsty about our adventure as I caught up on some work and Kirsty tucked them into bed. Their recollection brought tears to my eyes.
“We went to London. Mummy held our hands.”
Zoe from My Little Wildlings and I have promised ourselves more twin adventures this year; we are going to cheer each other on with hot drinks and pastries and sooner or later one of these will happen in the same time and the same place. She has the most delightful red-haired twins the same age as my boys and she documents their life in Edinburgh so beautifully; you should absolutely check her out.
What are your hopes and dreams for twenty-eighteen?