Mothers Day without a Mother

Mother’s Day is a tough day for me – a mixture of happiness and sorrow. It’s a constant battle and I never know which will win. Don’t get me wrong every day I think of my mam, but Mothering Sunday seems to be one of the most difficult. I am never a girl for these types of public celebrations, especially Valentines, but seeing others publishing comments/photos and wonderful days out with their mother only pulls at my heartstrings and I feel a strong sense of envy. If only I could be doing that….

I was 13 when my mother died. It didn’t come as a total surprise as she had been ill for most of my life but at the same time, it was a shock. To be ill was one thing, but to die? People kept pointing out how tragic it was that she died so young. Forty six didn’t seem that young to me. Then.

As time passes, my memories continue to diminish and I often think of the amount of my life I have been without her. Silly thoughts like the fact I have had our dog Tina longer than she was my mother. Comparing the time with your mother versus the life cycle of a dog doesn’t seem quite right….

At the time I never realised those 13 years would turn out to be so precious. If I had, maybe I would have done things a little differently? I look at photos of her and wonder how, after everything she had been through, she had the most beautiful complexion and wrinkle free face. No grey hairs in sight. How long would she have stayed that way?

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So much has changed over the years and that’s what makes her absence so poignant. What would she have thought of my life? What would she have thought about my decisions? Not knowing the answers to these questions hurts.

Since having the girls, these feelings have gotten worse. I wish every day that she could have watched them enter this world and see them growing into the beautiful young ladies I see before me. As a mother you expect to watch your children walk down the aisle, have children of their own and maybe even see your grandchildren get married themselves. My mother didn’t get to see any of that with me and my sister.

When the girls were born, I struggled beyond belief. All I wanted was my mother to be there to get to know them and to share the feelings of ecstasy, fear and exhaustion that only a new mother experiences. I wanted to place them both in her arms and watch her hold them in awe, just as she had once held me.

On Thursday after picking up Annabelle from the Childminders, my brief opinion on grief and how to handle it was playing on a podcast. The tail end played as I drove the short ride home. Annabelle asked what the lady was talking about. I have always been open with the girls about their Grandma Ginia so I explained that the lady was talking about Mammy losing her Mammy when she was a teenager. She looked at me blankly, laughed and said “that’s really funny mammy!” Despite the gloomy nature of the conversation, I laughed too. Oh to have a four year olds perspective on life!

I wish my girls could have gotten to know Grandma Ginia and enjoy the special relationship they have with their other grandparents. I am so grateful they have my dad, Mary, Margaret & Tony to share experiences with and make memories that will last a lifetime. Despite this I still want to share so much with my mam. I want to share the love and pride I have for everything the girls do as well as the frustration and solace when things don’t get as well as I had wanted.

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But it’s not just that, I also want to be held by her like I was when I was young so she could talk to me, I could hear her voice and the touch of her skin. She could tell me her thoughts and give me her blessing on my life and my choices. I want to let her know that even though we only had 13 short years together she gave me so much.

People wonder why I care so much about Mother’s Day. But you see for me, it isn’t about the gifts – it’s the feeling of appreciation. Every day I am an auto pilot doing what needs to be done, but for one day it’s nice to stop and feel like I am in fact, doing a good job. I never got a chance to tell my mam that and I want to be able to have this with my girls. Give them something that I miss every day of my life – the opportunity to say things to your mother you may not say on a normal day. To stop, realise and appreciate. I wish I could have told my mam how much gratitude I have for her strength and sacrifices.

As that old saying goes, you never know what you have got until it’s gone.

This Mother’s day, I will sit with my family and I will think about my mother and know how precious such times can be. I will remember how much she and I have missed.

But most of all I will be grateful for having the day with my two girls. I will stop, realise and appreciate the fact that some people don’t have that luxury.

I for one will cherish it.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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Goodbye 2015! Hello Hope…

Well here we are. 31st Dec 2015.

I for one have not been bothered about New Year for many years…. But it does allow time for reflection. So here we have it….

Dear 2015,

I started you a very happy, contented mammy on maternity leave albeit terrified of the big change around the corner. When we made the decision to change our whole family dynamic and move to West Yorkshire, we made it when we were the happiest we have ever been. We knew we were taking a leap of faith.

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2014 was my year and you promised to be one of, if not the biggest challenge of my life to date. I knew you were going to be a bitch 2015 but I didn’t realise how much so. Everyone kept telling us how brave we were and if truth be told I never felt brave at all. Not one ounce. You have slung some shit at me and my family this year but we have took it head on and will continue to do so.

2015 – you have provided a new home, a new job, a new car and don’t get me wrong you have provided some special times but I will always look back on you as a year of loneliness, fear, finding our place and starting again. So tonight I am closing the door on you with hope. With hope that you were in my life for a reason. That I will learn and grow from you.

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Looking towards 2016 – I feel hopeful. I feel hopeful that you will make our journey easier and it will all be ok in the end.

Yours,

Hayley

We promise to be silly & free!

Dear Annabelle Rose & Poppy Mae,

I thought the best way to finish off my series of Naming Day posts was to share our parental promises that we made to you both on your special days.

We wrote both services from scratch to make it as personal as possible. We included your letters, readings from your carefully chosen Guardians and of course the main section included our promises to you.

It took Daddy and me forever to craft these as we wanted them to cover exactly how we see our life ahead with you…. I didn’t realise how difficult it was to put our intentions down into words!

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How do you explain to your children what they mean to you and how you change your life for them? I don’t think you can and I don’t expect you to understand this until you hopefully have your own in the future. However after weeks of pondering, we eventually got round to something we were really happy with!

So girls, here they are. See them as our parental contract.

We promise:

  • To be the best parents we can be, to love you, look after you and care for you
  • To bring as much fun, laughter and silliness into your life as we can
  • To nurture your curiosity, courage and enthusiasm, so you can challenge life with confidence
  • To give you the tools and support to allow you to meet your dreams and desires
  • To bring you up in a home filled with kindness, tolerance, patience and love and help you to fulfil your true potential
  • To be there in times of need, to offer comfort, support, friendship, love and understanding whenever you need us.

Despite these having all our love and careful thought put in to them I am pretty sure that they will be used against us in arguments in the teenage years about how you think we have not stuck to them! Crap…..


Being a parent is tough but my goodness nothing gives you more rewards! Sometimes it is easy to get so wrapped up in the day to day grind and forget how lucky we are.

I challenge you to just stop what you are doing. Look at what you have in life and be grateful. Take time out and enjoy it. So many of us look around and strive for more, look at others and wish we had what they had, and try to change everything around us.

Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with improvement and evolution. I for one am always looking to how to better myself. But sometimes we need to realise that actually, everything is fine, just how it should be and it’s there to be enjoyed. Be in the moment and not constantly gazing in to the future. I was very guilty of that in the past but have made a conscious decision to not be anymore.

So given that, I am turning this laptop off and I am going to cuddle up to my oldest cherub and watch a film. After all that’s what my weekends are for. Doing what makes me happy.

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Dear Annabelle Rose….

To my beautiful Annabelle Rose,

I couldn’t write a post sharing your sister’s letter without doing the same for you! So here it is. When I read it back, feelings come flooding back about how instantaneously my thoughts about motherhood changed as soon as I knew you were on your way. I went from being terrified at the prospect of being a parent and feeling that I would never be capable, to dreaming about how I could make you the best person you could be and caring for you before I even met you.

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I will forever be thankful to that person who made the not so obvious, obvious to me. You are never truly ready for big changes in your life and you can always look for reasons not to pursue things. Sometimes the easiest option is to follow the status quo, stay in your ‘safe house’ and not enter the unknown. When it comes to you, I am so glad we did. 2012+ have been the best years of my life and that is all down to you and your little sister making my life make sense again. Thank you JC for making me realise I was missing out.

So here is your letter. Enjoy.


Dear Annabelle Rose,

Sometimes we waste our words and waste our moments and we don’t take the time to say the things that are really in our hearts when we have the chance. So today in front of all our family and friends, I am going to do just that.

Prior to being a mummy, I always struggled with the idea of me being a parent. The moment my opinion changed was when I was having a conversation with someone about starting a family. I said that we weren’t ready yet and we would eventually sometime in the future. The response has stuck with me ever since. He said ‘Hayley you will never feel ready, even when you have them you don’t feel ready.’ He was right! There would always be a reason to not have a baby, so why wait? Then a year later our lives changed for the better.

The day I first saw you at the 12 week scan will stay with me forever. Up until that point it didn’t feel real, but seeing you bouncing and kicking your legs inside me made my heart jump! I was going to be a mummy! I absolutely adored being pregnant and I felt so proud sporting my rather large belly.

I cannot describe the intense emotions of carrying you for 9 months, the joy and pride of seeing you develop, the excitement every time I felt you wiggle or hiccup, the love I felt just knowing you were with me – I can only describe it as the best feeling in the world. Despite you not even taking your first breath, I felt like a mother already.

After what felt like a lifetime, you finally arrived 9 days late! And I could not have wished for anything more perfect. I can’t even remember what life was like before you. Even in the short period of time you have been with us you have taught me so much, especially how much I love being a parent and how silly my initial fears of pregnancy, labour and parenthood actually were.

You may wonder why I love being your mummy so much. Well there are a number of reasons!

  1. I finally have a reason for my muffin top and saggy boobs!
  2. Being able to watch your personality develop, your steely determination to do things you shouldn’t be doing and your utter curiosity for everything around you.
  3. Doling out a huge amount of kisses and cuddles and seeing that they do in fact, make a difference.
  4. Discovering that love, heartache, laughter and tears have no limit and that sometimes you experience them all within a single moment.
  5. I love that my heart skips a beat when I think about seeing you, even when it has only been a few hours.
  6. The physicality of it – the fact that you beam with happiness whenever you catch my gaze, that you give kisses by licking and your cute little giggle that makes my heart melt every time!
  7. I learn so much from your view on the world. Watching you experience the pure joys you get from life’s simple pleasures. Laughing at peek-a-boo, being amazed by bubbles and squealing with happiness at seeing Tina.
  8. Watching my husband become a daddy for the first time, and a fantastic one at that. And last but not least,
  9. You are making me the person I want to be and since you have come along, I look around and see everything I want.

I lost my mummy when I was a little girl and it only makes me want you to be surrounded by those you love even more and to the best mummy I can be. And if there is one thing I want you to take from this very long note, is that sometimes happiness doesn’t come from money, fame or power. Sometimes happiness comes from good friends and family and the quiet nobility of living a good life, and this I will ensure for you Annabelle Rose.

Love you always Mummy

One year ago today…. Beauty & Resilience. Welcome to the world Poppy Mae!

To my beautiful yet mischievous Poppy,

One year ago today on Remembrance Sunday, Nov 9th we officially welcomed you into the world. We gathered as a group of friends & family and celebrated your Naming Day!

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Now why a Naming Day I hear you ask? Well, neither Daddy or I are religious, we don’t attend church nor do we follow any religious beliefs.

Therefore we wanted to hold a service that introduced you to the world, described the reasons we named you Poppy Mae and for us to make our promises to you as parents and guardians without restricting the day to a certain religious belief.

We are not inhibiting you or Annabelle from seeking religious knowledge and answers in the future but we want to give you the choice to find out for yourselves if or what, you want to follow, with our full support. These days are very unique to the individuals and for us this was perfect!

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On the day we discussed why we named you Poppy Mae and here is the reason why:

Obviously the Poppy flower is the symbol of fallen soldiers since the 1st world war which is the main reason we chose today to celebrate Poppy…..However, the reason we selected her name was not just because we find it an incredibly sweet name but also down to its classic use. It’s a name that spans generations. It is also linked to a number of traits such as beauty, success, loyalty and faith. However my personal favourite is someone who is resilient and hardy through even the toughest of periods. Even in the most desolate of landscapes, something quite beautiful emerges from the ground. A Poppy flower. They flourish even in the most barren earth and represent resilience, and our capacity for hope and renewal even in the most difficult of circumstances. A trait which I hope she is lucky enough to have.

Now I want you to remember this baby girl. Resilience is one of the most important traits to have and I wish this upon both you and your sister. It is something you mother is lacking and I promise to teach you it in as many ways as I can!

Considering how you have reacted to having a cold this week we may have some work to do in this area…. It could take some time……

You daddy and I also shared a letter with you and I would like to share mine with you here now.


Dear Poppy Mae,

Like all second-time parents, my mind was full of concerns! We wondered how we could possibly love baby number two as much as we loved baby number one. In the first two years of her life, Annabelle had been a lot of hard work (and still is!). How were we going to find double the time and energy? However, I needn’t have worried as its true what they say. The second is nowhere near as scary as the first. Within a couple of days, we were out and about, getting used to the pushchair again and reminding ourselves how long it takes to leave the house!

Don’t get me wrong, we have had our tough times but for sure, two children aren’t twice as much work as one for a couple of good reasons:

  1. firstly we actually know how to care for a baby and aren’t on the white-knuckle learning curve we were last time. (Should she be making that noise? Is that a rash? Is she still hungry? Have we packed everything we need for a trip to the shops?).
  2. Secondly, we don’t have the massive culture shock of becoming parents. Until you arrived, I hadn’t realised just what an impact this shock had on me last time. But I knew looking down on you in the hospital on the first night that everything was going to be just fine. I had done it once and I could do it again. You were going to slot into our family perfectly and our plans for our future.

Upon your arrival, I had only been a parent for 25 months, but my goodness how those 25 months had changed me! In fact, with you I feel I have been able to gaze at you in wonder and not stare at you in worry as much as I did with Annabelle. First time around, I would even hurry the milestones and worry about Annabelle not hitting timings as they say you should. With your arrival, I now want time to slow down so I can savour every moment with you both. I now more than ever appreciate how fast time truly goes.  

In February 2012, when Annabelle arrived, my life changed forever and I thought I was the happiest I could ever be. But then March 2014 and Poppy Mae came along and proved me wrong. Watching your petite sensitive little self blossom and your character develop into a mischevious little tinker, is just precious. But nowhere near as beautiful as seeing the bond with your sister grow day by day. The little smiles, cuddles and play dates you have with each other do not fail to make my heart skip a beat and bring a little tear to my eye. As I said earlier, I don’t wish time away but I cannot wait to watch my two baby girls grow up into two strong beautiful women and them doing so together.

I look at my friends who are about to start this amazing adventure called parenthood with envy. How can you possibly put into words what your children mean and how they change your life for the better? I don’t think you possibly can. You can only truly understand it once it happens and I am so excited to watch them experience it.

So that is my letter to you Poppy Mae. Keep it and treasure it, as I hope it portrays how much you and your sister are loved. I do however want to say one last thing. As I said to your sister in her letter and I now repeat to you:

I lost my mummy when I was a little girl and it only makes me more determined for you to be surrounded by those you love even more and for me to be the best mummy I can be. And if there is one thing I want you to take from this very long note, is that sometimes happiness doesn’t come from money, fame or power. Sometimes happiness comes from good friends and family and the quiet nobility of living a good life, and this I will ensure for you Poppy Mae. Oh, and we needn’t have worried, we can love baby number two as much as we do baby number one.


There as so many ideas out there for Naming Days! I will be sharing what we did for both of ours in the future, including handmade soaps and popcorn bars!

What did you do for your little ones special day? Any hints/tips?

Me a Procrastinator? I’ll prove you wrong one day. Just you wait and see….

So my first blog topic is Procrastination. The reason being is that it has taken me 6 years to write my first blog post for my own page.

SIX BLOODY YEARS!

So quite apt I think.

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I have quite happily written for others along the way but for some reason have refused to pull my finger out of my arse and get it done! I mean how easy is it these days to set up a blog? Well put it this way, if I can manage it without the help of Pete (my IT whizz husband) then anyone can!

So why has it take me so long? I have found myself asking this same question over and over again and I always come to the same conclusion.

It is fear.

There are an awful lot of reasons to procrastinate but fear is the one for me. For some reason I have this innate fear that I will fail. That I will spend time and effort putting my thoughts on to paper (or in this case screen) and people won’t like it. I suppose it’s a form of social acceptance which is a primal fear for me! (I am sure you will hear more about this in the future….)

But I have to remind myself this one thing:

Who is my audience? Its my girls. That’s who.

If people read along the way and enjoy then hop on-board and enjoy the Hayley train! But if you don’t enjoy and wish to get off at the next stop then so be it. That’s life – you win some and you lose some.

One thing that I have decided today (Sunday Nov 8th 2015) is that the only way to beat procrastination is to just do it. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well that’s because it is!

For me the fear is around acceptance and the scale of the challenge. I mean who has time to do a blog? Well I certainly don’t! I have a very busy job, I have a family and I have my overactive mind to control. Most of the time I am fighting sleep!

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Yet somehow I see it a good idea to add this on to my plate. Now this scares me as sometimes I don’t know when to stop, and I push myself too far. But this particular task, I see as a must do.

You see – this is for me. Out of everything I do daily, this one task has the biggest benefit for me. As a parent you become used to putting yourself last but today I have chosen to not do that (well not all of the time anyway!)

So I decided on a trip to Sainsburys this morning, that I would just do it. I decided that I wouldn’t see it as finally setting up my blog. I would see it as writing my first blog post to make it seem more manageable. Less daunting. So I sat down with my laptop and promised myself I would write for 5 minutes and see where it would go. Getting started was the most important and for this Sunday afternoon it was the only thing that mattered. Thirty minutes later I am still writing. I have Pete dozing on the sofa, Annabelle in the playroom watching a film and Poppy taking a nap. I have no distractions and it’s just me, my mind and my laptop. Just what I need.

So here is my challenge to you.

Is there anything that you have been wanting to do forever but keep putting it off? Clearing out the garage? Sorting out the playroom ready for Christmas? Even writing the next International Bestseller? Anything no matter how big or small.

Well just sit. Sit down and focus on getting it started. Not doing the whole task, just starting. Your mind will think of excuses.

“Oh wait I need to put a load of laundry in….”

“Oh hang on, let’s check Facebook. I haven’t checked in 5 mins and I need to see what my best friend has ate for her tea….”

But stop.

You will have these urges to do the tasks you feel comfortable with. The world of social media is always a big distraction. You can notice these urges but ignore them.

Sit still.

Bat those thoughts out of the ballpark. Now take that small action to get started. The rest will follow. Before you know it you will hit first base. Then move on to second.

Who knows? You may even hit a home run.

Go on. You know you want to.

I did and I feel pretty good right now.

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