On ambition

ambition 3

If I asked you what you wanted to be when you were little, what would your answer be? If I asked you, what kind of one of those you wanted to be, what would you say? An astronaut – the best…a dancer – world class, a racing driver – the fastest, a scientist – leading the field. I want to be ok, fair to middling, average said no child ever.

This was what was asked of me and my colleagues last week by success coach Michael Finnigan. And it is such a clever way to set your soul on fire. If you ask yourself this every morning, it really is great motivation.

What if you are not the best?

Of course, it begs the question about what happens to us such that large numbers are content to settle for second place and are just muddling through.

That said, the idea that we should all strive to be the fastest, the brightest, the best sits uncomfortably with me.

In my blog, ‘Enough is Not Enough’ (https://kerrytalks.com/2017/06/10/enough-is-not-enough), I explored the notion of mediocrity and how I was fed up of being made to feel inferior, just because I was not the best sales person, the person striving for a bigger and better house, a faster car….Am I mediocre because I choose what I have, until lately, called a small life?

Equally, we are not all as talented as each other – we cannot all be the best footballer, the best lawyer, the best teacher.

Does this mean we are failing? That we are betraying our childhood aspirations? That we have forgotten how to be ambitious?

How do you define success?

For me, success need not be defined by what level of management or promotion you attain, and not by the material trappings of wealth you acquire, it’s about the value of the decisions you make. Indeed it’s about whether or not you make any decisions at all.

As someone who is now 40 I have carried with me a growing sense of unease over the last couple of years, years in which I had all the love I could have ever hoped for with three beautiful children. But the point was, for the first time, I had no goals, no aims, I was just drifting. I had fallen into the humdrum and was sleepwalking through life.

This doesn’t mean I want to leave it all behind and set off on a path of career driven wild ambition, nor does it mean I am going out and buying an inappropriate sports car. What it means is that I have decided to live my life with purpose and on purpose. I am choosing what is important to me, making commitments to what defines me, to what I consider my core values and I am looking to live with joy and with an appreciation of all that I have.

It is not enough to say, for example, I want to be the best mum I can and a role model to the girls. If that’s what lights you up, take action, design and consciously decide what that means to you. Then act, move, take steps to do that to the best of your ability. This doesn’t mean that you need to bake cakes every day, sew your children’s clothes or become amazing at craft activities, it just means you have to do what is true to you with heart.

Keep moving forward

Sometimes it’s not easy to know what you want, sometimes you might feel trapped by where you are. But it’s about setting your intentions and moving towards something. Heck, even the fact that you are thinking about what next, might be an improvement on where you were. Certainly, that is true for me.

What I am trying to say is that 18 months ago, the questions asked of me by Michael Finnigan would have made me feel miserable. Like an abject failure. I have not become a dancer, a famous choreographer, I have not yet travelled the world and have not yet written a book. I am not the best at everything I do. But today, I am excited by the questions, they motivate me.

Not because I am the best mum in the world. However, I am thinking really hard about what that means to me and about how I might be the best version of the real me and it has opened up my world. This means I am now self-employed, working flexibly on my own terms. I would never have imagined that to be possible. This means that I have started this blog and discovered a whole new level of joy and purpose. This means I am reading extensively and am consciously choosing the behaviour and life we model for three beautiful young girls. It doesn’t mean I have to be a multi-millionaire and world famous. It just means I need to make the most of who I am in a way that makes us all happy.

Please don’t think for one minute I have it all figured out and that I am now living this perfect life. I still scream at the kids, I still drink too much red wine, I still faff about the house and waste time, I am overweight and don’t exercise enough, I don’t have a robust client base…but I am working on it and the fact that I have new drive and new purpose has significantly altered my happiness. Since Michael’s words last week, I have identified this as ambition and it is invigorating. Go find yours!

Kerry

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Ps thanks to Pinterest for the images.

Pps thank you to @MichaelFinnigan for an amazing talk and inspiration

on ambition

 

The importance of staying whole

Keeping whole

On Wednesday night I attended a black-tie dinner in one of Oxford’s prestigious colleges and had the company of a semi-retired management consultant. In his 60s and having worked and travelled extensively all over the world, it took less than 10 minutes for him to share with me his divorce and impart words of wisdom to keep my marriage alive.

This gentleman is wildly successful and yet his pain was palpable. He was very matter of fact but his story was full of regret and also shock. As he neared the point in his career when he was ready to return to London and to slow things down, he looked forward to a more relaxed life, enjoying simple pleasures with his wonderful wife who he adored. She had borne him their fabulous daughter and had followed him all over the world, sacrificing her career to care for them both. Yet when that time arrived, she asked for a divorce. He hadn’t realised, but over their 40 years, she felt he had never really been there – always consumed in his career. She felt like they were strangers. He also feels that during the time his wife put herself last and their family first, a quiet resentment grew and the target of that resentment became him.

There had been no falling out, no anger, no heated confrontations; just a slow and steady erosion of the ties that had bound them: they had lost one another since neither of them was recognisable as the two individuals that first joined hands. The heart-breaking thing is that there is still love – the couple, though now divorced, meet at least once a week for dinner. My romantic heart hopes this is not the end of their love story….

In the meantime, my new friend urged me to think deeply about his story.

My new friend looked me straight in the eyes and stated the importance of keeping yourself whole. Each of us needs to protect ourselves; to future-proof ourselves for when the kids leave home and for when your focus is forced inwards; to future-proof ourselves for a time when there is no noise to distract you and no-one else is calling on your time. Who will you be then? Will you be so lost that you do not recognise yourself? Sometimes, I think that is already my problem as I face 40 and move out of the preschool years.

For my new friend, it was the same clichéd story: he wished he had been able to lift his chin up and that he had remembered to step firmly off the treadmill and be wholly present in his family life. It is not enough to be physically there – you must discipline yourself to quiet those thoughts which lead you back to business and learn to really feel the joy of your family. But more than that, he had neglected the man who had first met his wife; he had been so consumed with his career that even in times of leisure he talked of little else. What was it that had first made his wife laugh? What had kept them talking into the early hours? Certainly not his latest sales win!

But mainly, my new friend was looking at me. I was open and honest about returning to work and finding it hard. He wanted me to keep going, to find a way to forge a new path that returned me in part, to the woman I had been before children.

As parents, it is so easy to put yourself at the bottom of the list: there is always a reason to neglect yourself, there is always a job that needs doing, always a child wanting you to stay home. Certainly, I find it really tough – blimey, I no longer get any crackling from a roast pork dinner and my favourite chicken wings are long gone! All symptomatic of the many other sacrifices.

I hear time and time again the importance of looking after oneself, making time to exercise, be with friends, go on date nights and yet the watery blue eyes of a stranger, an ordinary man sat next to me at dinner have really got to me.

I’m not saying every stay at home mum needs to go to work, but I am urging those mums and dads out there who don’t carve out time and a ‘thing’ for themselves as individuals, to make sure they do. For their own sakes and each other’s.

I would hate the girls to leave home and to find myself floundering and I certainly don’t want to feel resentment towards them or towards Dan. I know those whisperings would come unintentionally, and without apportioning any responsibility – I am in charge of my own decisions, but I also know that some things are hard to un-hear, even if it is only your own thoughts.

In many ways I learnt nothing new, but to know that something dear was lost after so long and so many sacrifices and at so late an age, well, it scared me. I have often heard the analogy of being on a plane – you must put on your own oxygen mask before you can help your child. But in everyday life it’s easy to ride the turbulence without oxygen, but if you imagine that plane journey over years, it is easier to imagine the extent of the damage done. So, another nudge: another reason, I need to push on and re-establish my career. I know I need something and yet that tug, that feeling I am abandoning the girls just will not yield. Yet I need to remind myself of the importance of my own needs. I can and will be more than just a mother. I also need to give Dan more freedom to be more than the man who protects and provides for us. I’m good at saying go to the pub etc (though I know he (not so) secretly uses me as an excuse!); I am less good at saying, go to the football, visit your old friends, take the day. Just be you.

In the meantime, thank you to my new friend for being so searingly honest and open. I will be forever grateful.

Kerry

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Ps thanks to Pinterest for the image.

 

What is confidence anyway?

confidence

Last week I was asked to think of a time I felt truly confident. Go ahead, try it. I did and I was horrified to find that I had to go right back to my school years, performing on stage as part of my local dance school. Really?! A 40 year old Cambridge graduate who has worked at a Magical Circle City law firm amongst others, raised 3 children, is co-chair of the PTA, sings in a choir, lives a comfortable and blessed life in Yorkshire’s Golden Triangle….and this is where I need to go to recall a time I felt truly confident? I have to confess, I shed more than one self-pitying tear and I have been pondering the issue of confidence ever since.

It’s fair to say that there are lots of people who assume that I am really confident; in fact, I have been told that I can be quite intimidating (which I cannot even begin to imagine). It is also true that perhaps my behaviour is not what you would expect from someone who feels they lack in confidence. The fact that I share my thoughts and feelings on this blog, for example. The fact that I put myself forward as joint chair of our PTA, in a school full of high achieving, successful parents. The fact that today I went to see a web-designer since I have decided to launch a business as a freelance writer without any training or experience. And yet I cannot tell you how many thoughts I waste thinking people don’t like me and worrying that I don’t have any real friends. I find it hard to be in large groups and am that awkward person who interrupts or talks over someone at the wrong time, waffling on with nervous energy. I often wake in the early hours and spend 3 or 4 hours with my heart racing, feeling slightly breathless and catastrophising a work or social situation, berating my decisions and unsuccessfully trying to wake Dan to help me calm down. I lie awake wondering if I ought to be on medication and whether or not there is anyone else amongst our friends like me.

Confidence is defined as “a feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities”.

Yet it is fascinating that, my initial reaction aside, when I take a longer and more considered view of what confidence might mean to me and what I think it looks like, it is not a person’s state of mind that I turn to, it is their actions. I see them walking into a room, head held high (I can do that bit). I see them sharing thoughts and ideas (I can do that bit too). I see them leading a team of people (turns out I can do that bit too). When I think about a confident person, I don’t imagine how they sleep or wonder how they feel, I wonder what they do.

Because, let’s be honest, is there really anyone out there, hand on heart, who can say that they do not have their own moments of self-doubt? Who doesn’t worry that they are not witty enough, clever enough, attractive enough, successful enough?

So, I wonder, does it matter that I have not felt that pure joy and assurance I felt on stage kicking my way through the can-can aged 16? If we define confidence as a way of living rather than as a state of mind, then does this allow more of us to celebrate ourselves as achieving the hallowed status of a confident person? Need confidence and self-doubt be mutually exclusive?

Not if we define confidence by our actions and by our ability to always take that next step forward; by our ability to keep moving and keep daring.

Clearly panic attacks at 2am are not healthy and are bordering on bonkers, but I think some of the loss of “pure confidence” is sadly an accruement of age and experience. However, these days, I really am trying to live my life bravely. OK, I am not changing the world or taking enormous risks, but for me, I am consciously choosing to push myself out of my comfort zone and trying to find a new future as I face 40 and transition into life with all of my babies at school. I am reading the personal development books I dismissed derisively and am going all new age as I try and find my light and my core desires, plus I am telling people about it; hoping to help someone else with the same fears and the same questions I have. I have passed my half way mark on this beautiful gift of life and I want to make the rest of it count – but on purpose and not by accident.

As a mum who has spent a lot of time at home in the same place and largely in the same routine for 5 years before venturing back into the work place, I felt I had lost my confidence. But if I am kind to myself, I need not look back to my 16 year old self, since I have started moving again. I am not treading the same path, I am on my way, even if I do not really know the destination. But that’s not the important thing; the important thing is I have begun and I am taking steps every day. So next time, I am worrying and being unkind to myself, I will take a deep breath in and think about the things I have done, which I could not possibly have imagined I would do, like this blog. I will remind myself that I am living with new purpose and courage and that is confidence enough for me, for the time being. I hope you can do the same.

Kerry

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ps thanks to Pinterest for the image

Wanted: Role Models

role model

As mum to three girls, I am aware of not only my own job as a role model but I am also conscious about who else they may look up to as they grow. In so doing, I have always had faith that there are certain issues the generations between myself and the girls’ will have figured out….one of these being the old ‘work-life’ balance.

It came as a bit of a surprise to me then, to read @TimesMagazine on Saturday which suggests many of our 20-something young women still feel isolated and consider there to be a very limited number of role models demonstrating just ‘how to have it all’. The article centred around fertility issues and the decision about when to have children, but in so doing interviewed young women who felt that there were either women at the top of their game who left it too late or were successful at the cost of their families versus women who left promising careers to be at home.

Can it really be right that in the 9 years since I left the world of ‘big law’ behind that, for a large number of young women, nothing has changed?

I acknowledge that I did not even try to make it work. A male partner in the law firm where I once worked told me, quite bluntly, that he did not think you could be both a mother and a partner in a law firm to the best of your abilities: you could do one brilliantly or both badly. At the time I married my husband, the talented and in many ways pioneering female partner in our group was struggling with the heartbreak of leaving her daughter in childcare and her own marriage was ending. Elsewhere, I saw women who didn’t see their children contending with colleagues and partners with little or no sympathy. In that major law firm, there was not one person I could identify as a role model. Maybe, at that point I should have vowed to make a change, but I didn’t. I decided to head to London to make a nest egg of money to enable me to get out and to be a stay at home mum.

And I have loved that time. But as the girls grow, I question the example I am setting them. I worry that I don’t want their own expectations, ambitions and horizons to be limited by looking at my own role as “just a mum”.

So what next then? Again, I have looked outward to find a role model – who can I be like, whose working life would I want in the context of raising a family? Still, I cannot find her.

That’s not to say there are not women I admire. There are plenty and there are many, many friends who are at the top of their game, heads of department, business owners, who are all doing amazing things, but they have made decisions about childcare that I did not want to make (and for a time, was fortunate enough to not have to). I say this without any judgment at all. We all do the very best we can and we all respond to our own needs and desires. But the question remains, is it just not possible to ‘have it all’?

I cannot believe that. And now, as I personally seek to find myself a working future, a role in which I am more than “just a mum” (the hardest job of all), I do find that there are options out there.

I have written before about the growing number of “returning mums” which I consider myself to be. I have also written about the growing number of entrepreneurs and about working as a consultant and the flexibilities that can bring. 9 years ago, there simply was not the same number of self-employed.

In my steps back into law too, I find people really changing the landscape and challenging the way legal services are delivered, meaning that yes, in actual fact, you can be a corporate lawyer and have flexibility, independence and life balance, all without judgments made. The limiting factor for me to date has been my own mind-set and my own confidence.

So if, in my own little corner of Yorkshire, I can feel a change and find opportunities, why do the girls in London 20 years behind me feel just like I did as a newlywed, despite the liberties offered by technological advances?

Do we still have to ‘go small’ to realise the life we desire? Is that still the real problem? That despite the equality officers, despite the many investment programmes, despite the many conferences, in the larger organisations, the change is still not felt at your desk if you are a young woman still growing in confidence and experience?

If not, why not?

In my blog ‘Honesty’, I wrote about how, in order to appear professional, I was encouraged not to talk about my childcare requirements, not to mention that I couldn’t do a call at 3.30pm because I was on the school run. Equally, it is said time and time again, that women manage their work-life balance but they do so in secret, haunted by the notion that if a woman leaves the office early, she is slacking, rather than simply being a responsible parent.

Are those women who are ‘having it all’ simply not shouting loudly enough? Is it time for the many high achieving women out there to be more visible? To be proud of the juggling act they are doing rather than to hide it? Should they be flaunting it more: “Look at how impressive I am! I am doing incredible things at work and at home!” . My hope is that there are plenty of role models; just not enough of them are known to enable us to all find our own personal one, that one that speaks to us.

As for me, this small article in @TimesMagazine has given further fuel to the growing fire in my belly, to do ‘my thing’. To really put the effort into shaping a future that works for me and that works for our family. If there are still not enough examples out there for all the bright young women, including our 3 fantastic daughters, well I’d better get going. It all starts at home.

Kerry

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Ps I must stress that this piece is not a criticism of either stay at home mums or working mums. As I have said, we all know that we are all doing our best and I am in awe of all we do. Being a mum really is a challenge (and a reward) I could not have expected. Let’s face it, no matter what any of us do as a mum, we are our own harshest critics, and we will never believe we have got it all right!

Pps thanks to Pinterest for the image.

 

 

In different places

In different places

My husband is my proof reader. He checks for spelling mistakes, typos and errors. But more than that, he is my litmus test. How is the piece? Is it ok? Is it good enough? Will people like it?

There have been a couple of blogs that he didn’t want me to publish. But Friday night was new. Not only did he not like my blog ‘I Believe in Fairies’, he actually hated it. More than that, it made him roll his eyes, it made his skin crawl….It turned him off and he suggested that he was no longer the best person to check my blogs.

The wind was well and truly taken out of my sails.

My Dan is the most big-hearted, forgiving and loving person I have ever met. I celebrate it every day when I look at our daughter L, who is sensitive, old beyond her years, generous and kindness itself – I joke that she is all Dan; she could not possibly have come from me!

So our discussion on Friday evening was a first in our relationship.

The fact is, that currently Dan and I are in very different places.

The last month or so, I really feel like I have turned a corner. I know it sounds dramatic, but on the day I turned 40, I was literally beside myself. I approached that day with foreboding, knowing that it would proclaim a day of judgment which I could no longer avoid. I would have to accept that I was drifting and take some responsibility for a new direction. On that day, I felt a complete failure. I felt old and I felt the weight of wasted opportunities. I looked back harshly at forgotten dreams, abandoned aspirations, and could only see myself adrift with no real direction or drive. Blinded with self-pitying tears I declared my 40th birthday as the worst day of my life and in the face of my husband’s protests argued that “any f***er can knock out children” and that I had achieved nothing. I vowed that come my 41st birthday I would not feel that way.

This blog is part of that promise and the last month or so in particular, has marked a real change in the way I feel about the future. Right now, I am in a really, really good place and I feel full of hope and excitement.

By contrast, Dan is having a really tough time. Dan works in sales dealing with large retailers who even at the best of time are notorious task masters. With the falling pound and the uncertainty of Brexit, Dan’s job right now is particularly difficult. Combatting the large retailers takes a resilience few of us have and I have long admired how Dan and his colleagues soldier on but just lately, the battle scars are deep and un-healing and whilst Dan will always be my hero, right now, his shoulders are rounded and his chin dipped. Coupled with the fact that my earnings have dropped after I took a step back, well that’s a whole lot of pressure.

So Dan faces an emotion new to his big heart. He reads by blogs, which have lately declared myself as feeling empowered and joyful and he feels jealous. Jealous of the freedom which he pays for (in hours and in cash) and jealous of the choices I am able to make, because I have had the ability to step off the hamster wheel and to look around and find a new direction (again because of the work he does). To be honest, it’s testament to his beautiful soul that this has only just happened now. Were it the other way round, my resentment would have been loudly announced a long time ago.

Of course, Dan and I have been in different places before, but this time, I am writing about it. It is in black and white and as my editor in chief, he is confronted by it in harsh black and white.

Yet, even as Dan was telling me it was tough to take, I knew he was bleeding. My wonderful, wonderful husband would never for one minute want to hurt me or to bring me down. So I know that he is wounded deeply to even open that dialogue, but also that he would admonish himself thereafter for the look on my face as he spoke. I have never felt more loved, than I feel loved since meeting Dan.

So what next? Do I bring down the sails? Batten down the hatches? Stop writing about what is currently in my heart?

I know that’s not what Dan wants. I also know that if I am not writing about what I am feeling, then I am not being authentic. I am not being true to myself.

But it did make me wonder….Tragedy sells better doesn’t it? Some of the biggest responses I have had, have been in response to me feeling vulnerable and low.

It has also made me think about the direction I am going. Dan asked me, who is my audience? Who do I want it to be?

I confessed that I don’t know: I am writing really for me, because I just want to keep writing. But if I think about what I have found really rewarding, then perhaps I am writing for an audience. I am writing for someone who might feel like me. Someone I can give help to. To let them know what got me through, what gave me direction, what kept me going.

It also gave me a bit of a shake. Dan and I are a partnership. This is my reminder – I wrote the other day that I know I need to be a grown up and pay the bills, but that this was easier to bear if I was filling my creative need. This is my signal, my flag to be true to my word and I will.

So, my sails are still set, I just need to keep checking my compass more regularly.

Thank you Dan, you remain my North, my South, my East, my West. My everything.

Kerry

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ps. The blogs Dan didn’t want me to publish in particular,  were ‘True Colours’ (https://kerrytalks.com/2017/06/08/true-colours/) where I talked about freedom to choose my politics without being branded a bad person (he thought it too evocative) and ‘For the Dads’ (https://kerrytalks.com/2017/05/02/for-the-dads/) where I talked about how privileged I am to have time at home whilst my husband works (he thought it might not be appreciated by the many mum friends I have in the same position).

pps. Thanks to Pinterest for the image

I believe in fairies

Fairies

Our girls have a thing for all things magical, including fairies. So, what is it about girls and fairies?

It’s nothing to do with pretty and pink; the stories that captivate them are embedded in nature and the universe. They are elemental and talk of ‘the source’ and using power to heal. They celebrate girl power and friendship.

A victory for the fairies is not about advancement above others or about having power greater than someone else. It is about striving to be the very best that they can be. About realising who they are and honouring their gifts. It is about finding courage to look into their souls, know themselves and learning to accept and use the powers bestowed on them for the greater good of their world. Which means protecting nature, teaching and spreading kindness, helping each other to grow, showing the way by example and through the bonds and spirit of community. When they are fighting darker forces, those forces are those using magic for their own purposes, for their own advancement to the detriment and harm of others. Those forces break nature and the elements and turn their back on the natural order. When good triumphs, it restores equilibrium but also lifts the dark fog from the eyes of its foe.

Which got me thinking….despite my cynicism and wilful reluctance, many of the books I have been reading recently are by writers who declare themselves to be spiritual and in some cases, “priestesses”. I am learning lots about the law of attraction, about the power of the universe and its limitless bounty. I am even trying light sourcing (a kind of meditation)!

I am attracted to reading (and still, I can barely bring myself to say it) about the power of women to heal the world, to bring a new dawn, to mark a change, to encourage people to live authentically, with success defined by passion and values and not by material gain. Trust me, I have put these books down many times before now and read them despite myself, fighting the impulse to roll my eyes. And yet, lately, I am inspired to read about women as a sisterhood, raising each other up and praising each other’s unique gifts. Urging us all up to be open, honest and brave.

I am not the only one….The next time you are on a train, on the beach, in a hotel or grabbing a coffee, look around you. Spot how many women are reading books by Gabrielle Bernstein, Rebecca Campbell, Abraham Hicks, Danielle LaPorte etc. There are a growing army of readers compelled by this spirituality, a growing following of these new spiritual healers, coaches, leaders, whatever you want to call them.

In the stories that the girls read or in the animations they watch, children are portrayed as having a bond to the fairies, since they still have the ability to believe in magic and are still close to nature. Whereas, grown-ups are seen as dangerous, as non-believers: we have strayed too far from the elements of the earth and no longer believe in magic or our ability to harness it.

Equally, the books I am currently reading separate the writers and their audience from the recent past: from incessant materialism and the pursuit of wealth and success at any cost. Citing the relentless cut and thrust of the last era as being largely responsible for the alarming growth in depression, mental health issues, obesity, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, suicide: in short, as a race, we have strayed too far from source, from the universe, from simplicity and our basic values and off this path we are either lost or (unsuccessfully) seeking solace elsewhere. These books want the world to wake up. They are not denying readers wealth, success or material comfort just asking them to breathe and re-align.

Essentially, they want us to live like fairies.

And yes, I am known to love Disney films, musicals and happy endings, but do you know what, I think they might have a point.

Plus, how often do we say that if we really want to learn something, we need only look to our children. So I am going to join my girls, captivated by the power of the universe and the triumph of friendship and sisterhood.

I believe in fairies (and today I wore a long floaty dress!!).

Kerry

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Ps thanks to Pinterest for the image.

School holidays: not long enough

School hols

The longer title of this blog is “Why you won’t catch me moaning about the school holidays” and I am going to buck the trend and tell you I love them!

If you have read my blog ‘Back to School’ (https://wordpress.com/post/kerrytalks.com/111), you will have seen how I always feel sad at the end of the holidays since it means we have to step outside of our tight family unit, perfect and enough together. Jolted into reality and forced to look outwards, no longer so easily able to be completely ourselves.

But today I have been reflecting on another reason I love the holidays so much.

This last week has for me, been my idea of heaven and it isn’t down to glorious weather or amazing days out to the seaside or country houses (though we do love that): our days have been simple ones. Full of lazy mornings, dog walks, hula hoops, skipping ropes, bikes, craft, playmobil, the park, the garden, made up games. The basic pleasures of just being. Of being at home.

I don’t want to claim for one minute that we are the perfect family – these days have naturally been peppered with whinging, bickering, the odd push and shove, bangs to the head, mummy screeching….but it has been absolute bliss and I have no desire to wish the girls back at school (despite my butterflies about what this new chapter in September might look like).

These days are easy, without expectation, without deadlines and without pressure. They are essentially, just like the preschool days.

If I had to pick a favourite year, it would be the year all three girls were at home – H was 3 (then 4), L was 2 (then 3) and F was new-born (then 1). I loved it. The four of us girls rubbing along. Yes, it was hard work sometimes, but we were our little gang and life was without a serious care.

As soon as you have children people start telling you, “enjoy every moment” and “don’t blink” and when you are in the thrust of nappies, tantrums, weaning, breastfeeding, all that good stuff, it is so hard to really grasp that sentiment or to genuinely believe everything is a phase (and honestly, it really is!). But as soon as your eldest starts school, wham! Your life is measured in terms, everything speeds up, the demands on your time multiply aplenty and before long, like me, you are facing your first sense of empty nest!

So, I for one, will be forever grateful for school holidays. No matter the weather, no matter the sibling scrapping and no matter the monotony, since I intend to hang onto the simple times with my girls as fiercely and for as long as I can. And this week, has been throw-back Thursday every day. Long may it continue.

Kerry

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