What I have learned: In 2014

The end of the year always makes me sentimental. This one more than any other seems to have passed by so quickly. I was 11 weeks pregnant this time last year, keeping everything crossed that my little baked bean stayed put and at the same time terrified of the future. I couldn’t see past the sea of ‘last’s’ Pete I and I would experience to the joy of the firsts that were yet to come. I have changed tremendously in this year – I suppose motherhood does that to you, but I’ve also had time to reflect on it all and what I’ve learned in that year…

Unconditional love does exist.
I think we all hope for unconditional love from a partner or spouse and I hope we all receive it, but the awe of the way your baby looks at you is true unconditional love. I realised that one morning, sat in my pyjama’s, a bit puffy from lack of sleep, obviously makeup less, could have been cleaner… the list of imperfections goes on. But Bea had never been happier to see my imperfect face. She didn’t care and that is unconditional love.

Human kindness is everywhere.
When you have a baby everybody is interested, in the same way people are interested when you’re getting married. Advice is impressed offered, wry stories told about their first born or new parenting experiences, and sadly much of it is passively negative. Since having Bea in contrast it’s the kindness and human nature of strangers that has struck me. On my errands about my local community or into Manchester, never a journey passes without a kind enquiry. Surprisingly many a man has engaged with Bea and I when we’re out and about. So many people have offered help with the pram, or give up a seat, or to get things for me and it’s enough to restore my faith in humankind but also wonder why we all are not so polite and kind to each other every day.

Letting go is freedom
The times I’ve felt most trapped by motherhood, the days when I’ve not been able to leave the house, or get something done, or just settle Bea as usual, giving up and letting go has always been the key. Often, with the benefit of hindsight, just to stop fighting battles that can’t be won is immensely relieving.

My work does not define me
There have been times I’ve felt insignificant since I stopped work to go on maternity leave, without purpose or direction, I suppose because I haven’t felt I was contributing. As time has gone on I have realised the contribution every mother makes to the future of society, or taking a microscopic as opposed to macroscopic view, just the future of their child. Work is only a part of me and didn’t define me before, but it does even less now.

One bad day does not a bad mother make (and nor do bad habits form in one night.)
And neither do two, or three bad days for that matter. It’s hard to remember on a bad day, but Bea crying doesn’t mean I’ve done anything wrong. She won’t hold it against me in the future and it doesn’t make me bad at my new role. I learned not to be afraid of picking her up from her cot when she cries, (in case she starts doing it every time I put her down,) or feeding her in the night if she wakes up in the early hours (in case she wants a feed every night.) It’s so easy to make yourself feel bad. Sometimes babies just need cuddles. And so do mummies 🙂

Pete will do anything for me and together we can do anything
This isn’t the first year that Pete has supported me unconditionally, but it’s the first time I’ve realised it at the time. He has physically supported me through late pregnancy and in the weeks and months after my c-section. He’s emotionally supported me through my doubts before having Bea and worries about motherhood after. He’s worked day and night to get the house finished or cleaned or tidy, when I was hugely pregnant or when Bea needed me. He’s fetched and carried a million different things when I was immobile or feeding. And when towards the end of the year we’ve been back to working together again, we’ve knuckled down and achieved a lot in the house, even when mountains have needed to be moved. I wouldn’t want to do it all with anyone else.

It’s been a truly amazing year, in the awe-inspiring sense of the word. It’s been difficult, frustrating, intense, frightening, exhausting but totally fulfilling. I have no idea what 2015 will bring but I know just being in my little family will be just fine with me.

How has your year been readers? Did you have any big revelations?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

*All the photo’s in this post are by Peter and Laura Lawson taken when Bea was 7 weeks old.

#JanuaryJoy: Make some resolutions

Happy New Year readers! I am (as usual) full of enthusiasm for a new year, fresh starts and all the exciting things that are bound to happen over the next 12 months. Not least of those is #JanuaryJoy, which after last year’s success seems to be an integral part of the New Year and of course the perfect way to navigate the dark lull after the festivities.

Today we’re kicking off traditionally with some resolutions. I know many of you don’t like to make resolutions, preferring to change over the year, but I like the fresh slate feeling of January and think the more positive changes we make the better, so why not start now?

As well as my own, I have invited my lovely gang of contributors to pitch in with theirs this year – you never know, it might get you thinking!


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This year’s resolution for me is to streamline and simplify my life. To achieve more balance with my work, make the blog less of a burden and generally make more time for me. It would be cheesy to allocate this time to exercise, which is just one thing I haven’t made enough time for this year, but I also want to feed my creativity and look after myself emotionally as well as physically.


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Victoria a.k.a. ‘Girl about Town
I have a quite a deep New Year resolution. Sorry! First, a bit of background: Back in 2012 I promised myself I’d say “No” more, so that I would take more time out for myself and stop doing things that make me sad or unhappy to suit other people. Much like all my resolutions, it was a non-starter. I still did lots of things out of guilt or a false sense of duty or to keep the peace and often ended upset, drained and unhappy. I was being selfless for people that gave me not a second thought, rather than looking after myself and my own heart and feelings. Then in 2013 it all changed. Something happened and I said my first “No” and the metaphorical excrement hit the fan. I weathered the storm (with the help of a few special people) and I’m just now coming out the other side of the emotional mess that I was in. Looking back I know I made the right choice and I’m happier, stronger and better off for it. So, for 2014 I’m going to stop being such a pushover and I’m going to do what I want to do. I did it once and I survived and so I can do it again. That’s my main resolution; say “No!” when I really don’t want to do something and to look after myself in the same way I look try to look after others.

My less emotional, and deep, resolution is to absolutely get my photos sorted. I make this resolution every year and get nowhere. Since having a digital camera I’ve done virtually nothing with them – maybe printed a few, made a few photo books and an Instagram collage (using Inkifi.com) but other than that I have about 600,000 pictures sitting on an external hard drive under my bed and a few thousand on Facebook. In 2014 I’m making albums, photo books and filling all the empty frames I have all over the house (other people do that too, right?)! Let’s check back in on Jan 1st 2015!


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Penny, all round music Guru and author of Bad Penny Says
Last year on New Year’s Eve I was 20 weeks pregnant and was envisioning that by the dawning of 2014 I would be free from baby weight and pushing for a new personal record of fitness. Seems I had all these high falutin’ ideas about how much free time I would have to tricep dip and train for marathons on maternity leave. Not sure what I thought I was going to do with my baby whilst I was doing all this – get him to time my laps? Anyway, this year is going to be different. This year I have one sole fitness resolution – to do one unassisted pull-up. One! Some of you will be able to do this already. But to me, the act of hoiking my body upwards on the pull-up bar that’s been bolted over the spare room door since my now-husband moved in four years ago is my fitness bĂŞte noir. I know I ought to be able to do it, but somehow I just can’t. Instead I dangle there like a lump of meat, wondering if my arms will pop out of their sockets. I have always believed that the elusive unassisted pull-up is within my reach….I just need a bit of focus and commitment to get there. That’s why this is the perfect New Year’s resolution- both simple and yet difficult enough to make a difference. It will inspire me to work on the weakest area of my fitness (upper body strength) and on de-chunking other areas without making one of those horrid “I will lose X pounds” negative type statements. So there we go. 2014 is time to keep it simple, realistic, achievable when it comes to fitness. No marathons. Until at least 2015.


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Gemma – Florence’s Editor
Hello! My new year’s resolutions were worked out the night before last with my husband over a pint at one of our favourite central London pubs which was a lovely way to do it!

  1. Take better care of my skin and general health. My skin is my biggest ‘thing’ – it’s an ongoing issue – prone to severe acne and painful blotches and I want it to be the best it can be so that includes eating healthily, investing in good products which I know work for me rather than faffing with cheap and cheerful bits, taking off makeup before bed (on a clean pillowcase!) and cleaning my makeup brushes regularly as well as speaking to my gp about it.
  2. I started my dream job 2 weeks before Christmas and I’m resolving to get the most out of it I possibly can by putting in my all. I know I’m really lucky to have a job I love and I’m mindful of something my dad used to say: ‘work smarter, not harder’. This year, when I’m in the office, I’ll be working smart – doing my best to learn from some of the best people in my field, and pushing myself to fit the most in and get the most out of my 9 to 5.
  3. We bought our first home in May this year and I’m resolving to look after it and keep improving it – including renovating the bathroom which is something we’re constantly moaning about!
  4. We also bought our first dining table (just in time for Christmas dinner!) and I hope that R and I will make time to sit down for dinner together at the table at least once a week with no tv, no phones and no distractions! I also want us to do alphabet dating as seen here on FF.
  5. More writing! My new job is different from my old role, which was heavily based on copy writing. Now that I’m not writing nine to five I hope I’ll fit in more creative writing at home!
  6. Finally, I want to be better at keeping in touch with family and friends in Australia – I’ve been a bit rubbish in 2013 because they’ve all been visiting – in 2014 I want to send more letters and parcels and emails.

Becky – Author of Florence’s Florals and First Time Mum
I try to avoid making resolutions as I have been known to take them too seriously and put too much pressure on myself (ahem!) however, this year my list is endless so here are a few…..

1. Get organised……this covers a multitude of resolutions really…..I’m talking house, wardrobe, paperwork, finances, photographs, and food shop.
2. Spend more time with my husband…..date night style.
3. Get time with family and friends better organised in our diary.
4. Get my bra size re-measured and treat myself to some new underwear. I’ll then burn my nursing bras!
5. Find time to run – even if it’s just once a week.
6. Find time to contribute more to FF.
7. Go to bed earlier (at least one night out of 3)
8. Spend less time ‘thinking’ and more time ‘doing’

Now it’s your turn readers… tell me your resolutions and I might just steal some!

Love,
Rebecca
x

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