- You’ve lost count of how many people have fondled your boobs in the last couple of weeks…
- Do you even own any clothes that aren’t pyjamas? ‘Cos if it doesn’t have a stretchy waistband then it may never see the light of day again.
- Food has never tasted so good to you. Gimme all the cheese and sushi!
- Caffeine is no longer optional in your life. Can you hook it straight into your veins or…?
- You can’t stop yourself from referring to yourself or your partner in the third person. Yep, Mama does need you to stop crying and for Dad to get her some wine…
- You thought you were obsessed with cleanliness before?! Think again… *washes hands and sanitises everything in sight*
- Your phone is out of storage because you’ve snapped so many almost-identical photos of your newborn. They’re just so cute, though!
- You might have strained your eyes from rolling them at people who claim that they’re ‘exhausted’. They don’t know the true meaning of tired!
- It’s now totally normal to discuss bodily functions with almost-strangers.
- Google has become your best friend and worst enemy.
- You swore you wouldn’t be those parents… but at least 50% of your conversations have been about poop in the last couple of weeks.
- You’ve gone from productive girl boss to putting ‘shower’ on your to do list (and not really even being that fussed if you tick it off…)
- You have a lot of opinions about property development because of your slight addiction to Homes Under the Hammer.
- You’re a little convinced that staring at the baby will keep it alive. Constant vigilance!
- Gourmet meals are ones that you get to eat with both hands whilst they’re still warm.
- Have you stumbled into some kind of time warp? Because you could have sworn that only 10 minutes has gone by but it seems to be getting dark again?! What day is it?!?
- You don’t dare leave the house without a suitcase packed to the brim with baby supplies. What if they need their nappy changing 10 times whilst you walk round the block?! *packs more nappies*
- You have strong opinions on nappy brands already. Aldi, FTW!
- You’ve had a moment where you wondered whether you should have just gotten a puppy instead…
- Are you in some kind of musical? Because you’re spending a lot of time singing these days…
- You’re convinced that your baby might be smarter than they let on. How do they know to scream as soon as you are otherwise occupied?!
- You’ve completed at least three new series on Netflix since your little bundle of joy arrived.
- You feel a little bit devastated and a little bit ecstatic when people point out that your baby has grown. You mean they’re not going to be a little squishy newborn forever?!
- You’re a bit smug because you’re convinced that you have the objectively cutest baby on the planet. It’s not because you are biased or anything…
Do you ever play the lottery game? It’s a bit of a fruitless past-time, given the odds, but it’s sometimes fun to imagine just what you would spend all that money on, if given the chance. Paul and I like to get very specific, choosing our houses on Rightmove and plotting just exactly where we would travel first, depending on the size of the jackpot. It’s fun to dream about, but I think it might serve another purpose, too…
Whilst there’s no doubt that we would buy *stuff* (mostly pretty houses and wine cellars full of booze for parties…), what winning the lottery would really do would be to buy us opportunity and time to explore the things we really care about. It begs the question, what would you dedicate yourself to if you didn’t have to work or worry about money?
Just off the top of my head… I would travel more, try my hand at writing a book, be more conscientious about this blog, spend more time with my family and friends, start a supper club. I would want to open up my home, to host friends and family but also strangers. Maybe some sort of writers retreat situation, supper-club-slash-bed-and-breakfast. Some way of sharing and meeting people and having the kind of home where the door is always open and there’s always a bottle of champagne ready to pop. I would maybe want to own a bookshop, or some kind of beautiful space that people could hire for parties and weddings or just because.
None of those things are impossible without a lottery win, of course. Thankfully, my dreams are not all that expensive, but to achieve them without the backing of my imaginary millions would take more dedication and work. They need to be fitted into a smaller space of time, since I do have to go to my day job and do (some of) my own chores. They’d need more careful thinking to fund and maybe I’d need to choose one or two to start with, rather than jumping in at the deep end with all of them.
But playing the lottery game, and allowing yourself to dream big and imagine the ‘best case scenario’ can really help solidify your thinking on what you’d like to dedicate your time and energy to in the long run. Whilst it would be ideal for millions to land in your lap so you could see it all through, the chance of that is unlikely so it’s far better to start small(er) now and make some steps towards incorporating those things without the lottery win. I’m hoping to start with this blog (baby-clingy-ness-dependent) over the next few months but you can be sure that I’ve made a note of the other things on my list to start checking off…
What would you be doing if you won the lottery?
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have *not* enjoyed being pregnant. This, despite the fact that I have been blessed with a (so far) healthy and low-key pregnancy. Mostly, I’m just a big whiner. Growing a human, it turns out, is not one of my favourite past-times but sadly it takes rather a long time – so I’ve learnt a few tips and tricks along the way to make it a bit more bearable.
Take a Lot of Baths
This is tip number one, for sure. Baths are relaxing and lovely at the best of times, but even more so when you’re pregnant. It’s a chance to take the weight off, quite literally, and feel comfortable. Plus, it’s a relatively effective method for easing the minor aches and pains that you pick up on the daily when living the pregnant life. I’ve stocked up on a whole bunch of romance novels for light bath time reading (no complex plots or distressingly sad endings!) and was happily gifted a load of Lush bath bombs for Christmas and my birthday, so they’ve been keeping me going for the most part. Pro-tip: take a bar of chocolate or other favourite snack into the bath – it’s about as decadent as life gets when you’re pregnant. My only other ‘beauty’ tip – invest in some Palmer’s Cocoa Butter for your bump. I don’t know whether it’s actually contributed to my total lack of stretch marks, or whether that’s just luck, but it smells lovely and feels very luxurious to give yourself some fancy daily moisturising.
Buy a Pregnancy Pillow
Having a pregnancy pillow has been an absolute life saver for me; I’ve actually been sleeping relatively well since I started to use it properly, which has made everything else seem a little bit rosier. I have this one, which also handily goes with my bedroom decor.
Nap As Often As You Can
I have never been a big napper, but whilst pregnant I have learnt to let go of my guilt around napping and fully embraced having one or two extra little sleeps a day. In my first trimester, this was absolutely essential in order to survive to the end of the day, and that feeling is looping round again now as I near my due date, but even when I was feeling a bit perkier, it’s been a great way to feel a little bit more human and capable. Plus, everyone tells you to sleep whilst you can, and although I’m not sure you can ‘bank’ sleep, it’s better not to go into your new adventure totally exhausted, if at all possible.
Try Not to Overload Your Social Calendar
This is a case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ if ever I saw one. At the beginning, we had something on every weekend (including hosting almost 20 people for Friendsgiving…), which was very poor planning on my part as having no time to rest and recuperate led to me getting super sick over Christmas with a lovely combination of ‘morning sickness’ (which was more like all-day-nausea) and a two-week-long cold. And then we’ve just had another run of busy weekends as everyone ramps up their social events again for summer – which is lovely, but also very tiring.
Surrender to Flat Shoes
For a short-arse like me, this totally sucks. But my back and my hips thank me for it if I opt for trainers over boots, so I’ve been living in my Converse. Bonus: they’re basically slip-on, which is very handy now that there’s a baby in the way of me bending down to tie my laces. I’ve also just invested in a pair of TOMS sandals on the recommendation of a friend, and they’re maybe the best sandals I’ve ever owned (plus, they’re on sale right now…). They don’t rub, even though my feet are, ahem, larger than usual at the moment and they have a squidgy base so they’re super comfortable.
H&M Do the Best Maternity Wear
Dressing for pregnancy is the biggest challenge (you know, other than the whole ‘growing a human’ thing) and finding clothes that make you feel like yourself can make all the difference to how you feel, as shallow as that may seem. Having tested quite a few of the high street brands, it’s H&M that have led the way for me; my wardrobe is mostly made of basics anyway and H&M have a good collection which isn’t too pricey (given that you’ll only be wearing these clothes for a short period of time). However, there are a couple of exceptions to that rule – New Look Petite maternity jeans are the only ones I’ve found that fit the length of my legs and don’t end up falling down after twenty minutes of wear (so if you’re also 5’0″, this might be relevant to your interests) and I have loved the two dresses that I picked up from the Seraphine sale for special occasions.
Go To Some Classes & Do Your Research
I know that people have mixed feelings about NCT classes, but we had a wholly positive experience with ours (even if my squeamish self did have to leave the room for some of the more graphic descriptions of labour…). I feel a lot more calm and confident about what’s coming up as a result, and it’s been a great jumping off point for doing our own research. I’d already read a few books and done some general investigating before the classes, but having someone with some qualifications confirm what I thought I knew was really invaluable. I think the classes were particularly good for Paul, too, as there was an equal focus on what birth partners can be doing to support and prepare, which has helped him feel a lot happier with the whole process. Plus, we made some nice parent pals to hang out with on maternity leave, so that’s a positive, too! Knowledge is power, my friends – but be careful where you get your information as it’s very easy to fall into a forum or two where misinformation is rife… I’ve freaked myself out on more than one occasion doing that!
Feel All Your Feelings Without Guilt
I have been wholly honest on this blog and on my social media channels (mostly Instagram) about the ups and downs I’ve experienced during pregnancy. As someone who is generally pretty positive and who considers herself very ‘blessed’ (ugh, I know), it’s been tricky for me to feel so down so much of the time, especially when pregnancy is supposed to be the harbinger of joy rather than sorrow. At times, I have felt really terrible about it and as if I’m already a terrible mother simply for wishing for one damn minute I could not be pregnant, but, ultimately, my feelings are my feelings and there’s no point feeling guilty about them. (Phew, that’s a lot of feelings in one sentence!). There have equally been moments of pure joy and happiness, so it’s all swings and roundabouts (especially due to those pesky hormones), so don’t beat yourself up (and don’t let anyone else do the metaphorical beating, either).
Let People Be Nice To You
Oh god, do I struggle with this one. When you are pregnant – and especially when you are visibly very pregnant – everyone will go out of their way to be nice to you. You will have the same conversations about names, due dates and sex of your baby multiple times a day with strangers. And it’s not just strangers – friends and family will buy you presents, travel for your baby shower and insist that you take a damn seat rather than running around doing things. At times this is particularly difficult; it can feel like you’re a bit useless, which is rather frustrating. But, let people be nice to you and revel in having drinks brought to you and chores taken off your hands. You’re growing a baby – you deserve a little rest and relaxation!
Do you have any tips to add? I’ve still got a few weeks left, so there’s still time… (!)
A few tips for surviving pregnancy and how to thrive during pregnancy. [/caption]
[Photo by Evan Kirby]
A few things have got me thinking about making friends recently. The first was Emma’s post on friend dating (featuring yours truly) and the second was starting our NCT classes. As well as learning a bit more about what this whole baby business is going to entail, everyone’s main goal is making some new parent pals for this new phase of their life. I think we were the only ones who had existing friends with babies nearby, thus making us the focus of some envy – but, as I always say, you can never have too many friends, especially when you’re about to be spending a whole lot of weekdays flying solo. Someone described NCT as being a bit like University, which for many of us was the last time in our life where making friends felt easy and natural, with everyone eager to meet new people and make connections, rather than sticking to their tried-and-tested groups and relationships.
There’s a general wisdom that it is hard to make friends as an adult, and whilst I don’t entirely dispute that, I have actually found it to be the opposite – I have more friends now than I ever had at school or University, and I like to think that I’m juggling quality as well as quantity, because they are all ace. Part of that is purely luck; being with Paul meant falling into a ready-made friendship group (or two) and, in fact, at my hen do it seemed like almost everyone’s answer to ‘how do you know Amy?’ was… ‘through Paul’.
But… part of it is also from practicing the art of what I call ‘aggressive friending’. Now, contrary to the name, there’s nothing really aggressive or violent about this method – I like to think it’s actually quite nice. But what it does mean is not being afraid to come on too strong in the friendship stakes. If you find someone cool that you want to be friends with, tell them! What’s the worst that can happen? No one is ever going to be mad that someone else thinks they are awesome. And then, you keep telling them, not in words but in actions – inviting them to events or parties or coffee meet-ups – until they’re your new besties. I know these things are easier said than done, but I promise that it has worked like a charm for me on many occasions since I moved to Leeds, so I thought I would share my top tips with you, in case you’re looking to make some new BFFs in your life.
A cornerstone of aggressive friending is generosity. People like people who do nice things for them, so it just makes sense. Now, being martyr-ish about the favours you bestow upon your new friends will not endear you to anyone, so only be as generous as you really can be – everyone has a different threshold for this, but have an open heart and good things will come back to you. This can be as simple as extending an invitation for dinner, or buying them a drink when you’re at the pub, or even just giving them a compliment (after all, you want to be friends, so there must be something you like about them!). Do them a favour, with no expectation of a return – just merely for the joy of helping out another awesome human, and you might be surprised at what happens.
Show Your True Colours
Paul and I have often ‘aggressively friended’ other couples together, and if you’ve met us in real life then you might understand why that might be a bit much for some people. We are both incredibly chatty, overly enthusiastic, strongly opinionated and probably talk louder than we should do in public places. (We have some good qualities, too…). That makes us really great friends for some people, and probably really not for others. But there’s no point pretending to be anything other than what we are, partly because there’s no way we can hide it, but also partly because we want friends who *want* to be friends with us. If someone doesn’t like you? It stings but at least you’ll know so you can go on and find someone who digs your particular brand of friendship.
Don’t keep all your new friends to yourself! You can expand your circle so much and make so many more new friends if you’re willing to spread the love a little bit. Introduce your new friends to other friends if you think they’d get along, or invite lots of different pockets of friends to one event and let them mingle together. You never know what connections they’ll forge with just a little nudging, and the more you do it, the more people will offer the same back to you – thus increasing your potential for new friends exponentially. This also comes under the ‘be generous’ banner; don’t treat your friendship group like a clique – let people in and you’ll find it reaps all kinds of friendship rewards.
Take People at Their Word
I spent a lot of time in my teenage years worried that my friends were only friends with me out of some sense of obligation, rather than any real affection for me. What I have learnt over time is that almost no one is friends with someone out of pity, so you can pretty much safely assume that if they accept your invitation or seem enthusiastic, then they are as down for the friendship thing as you are. Second guessing people’s motives will only send you into an anxiety spiral; you’ll soon know for sure if someone doesn’t want to hang out with you, because they’ll just stop hanging out with you. Don’t be pushy, but extend your invitations and compliments without fear and you might be surprised at the results.
Life moves in seasons. There are the seasons for hustling, the seasons for hibernating, the seasons for celebration, the seasons for nurturing and everything in between. The key, it seems, is accepting the season that you’re in right now, and letting it fill your life fully. This is not something that comes naturally to me; I am always looking behind and ahead, wishing things on the horizon could be happening right now rather than at some unspecified time in the future. I want to be doing and having it all, even though I know that’s not possible, and lord knows I beat myself up about not achieving the impossible.
The phrase ‘you can have it all, but not all at the same time’ has never been more apt. I may want to be nailing it on Instagram, improving my photography, blogging regularly, bossing it at my job, keeping up with house projects, having fun with friends and family, trying new recipes every week, working on my knitting, reading my whole TBR pile AND growing a human, but that just isn’t feasible, even for someone with as organised a to do list as myself. I can only do a couple of things at a time, and this season *has* to be about growing a human first and foremost (can’t get out of that one now…) and preparing for his arrival. This is a nesting season, if ever there was one; I am napping more than I ever have (even when I was a student with 8 hours of lectures a week…) and my thoughts are preoccupied with nursery themes and pre-baby tasks that need to be completed. Second to that is time spent with Paul, and getting things together at my job so I can leave in 5 weeks time (!) without everything imploding. So you can see why this blog has very much taken a backseat, despite all of my best intentions and ideas.
Now more than ever, I think I need to accept that this is the season that I’m in. I may want to be in a different season, sometimes, when I see people nailing it creatively or gallivanting on exciting trips abroad, but that just isn’t the place that I’m in. I did choose to be here, after all, and it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that you need to take it easy when you’re lugging around a baby all day, every day. It is easy to focus on what you’re missing out on, rather than being fully present for what is happening right now (especially when what’s happening right now is mostly weird joint pains and exhaustion…). But there are joys to this season, even if they are slightly harder to find. Our house has never looked better (even if I do say so myself) and it is a joy to put together a little room for our little man. I realise that babies don’t give much thought to interior design, but it’s nice to actually *do* something for him, in the small way that we can, before he actually arrives. As we get ready to welcome a new member to the team, I feel like Paul and I are working better together than we ever have. Tuna even seems to be being a little bit nicer to me, but that could be wishful thinking…
There will be time enough, if I am lucky, to work on creative projects, start my dream business (bookshop bar? boutique bed and breakfast? something not beginning with B?) or travel the world if I want to. I don’t need to do it all right this minute, as impatient as I am by nature. So some things are being struck off my to do list permanently (or as permanently as they can be…) and others are going on the back burner until I’ve got this baby thing down. The next season, of course, will be a season for mothering – learning how to navigate life with my little pal and trying to find a new normal so that there’s room for the other bits and pieces to start creeping back in. But after that? I guess only time will tell.
When I first scheduled in to write this post, I thought that it would be relatively upbeat compared to my previous pregnancy updates. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have not been enjoying pregnancy at all, but the second trimester hasn’t been nearly as bad as the first (just like everyone tells you). I know plenty of people who have had a rougher time of it than me, so I’m sure this will elicit some eye-rolls, but I have really struggled with the tiredness, the nausea (thankfully past now), the aches and pains and all of the associated nonsense that comes along with pregnancy. I know it’s supposed to be magical when the baby kicks, and sometimes it is, but mostly it just hurts. I thought I was getting on top of everything; we’d ordered the pram and the nursery furniture, which definitely made everything feel so exciting, but I definitely hit a wall last Monday. In the last week I’ve had more than one cry over the fact that everything I’m feeling is an almost permanent state for the next three months, and could even get worse.
Maybe I’m hormonal, or maybe it just sucks to be pregnant (or maybe a bit of both). I hate that it hurts every time I go to get out of bed. I hate that I can’t stretch enough to put my towel on the hook of the back of the door. I hate that I get out of breath if I walk up the stairs too quickly. I hate having heartburn. I hate that walking into town to get some lunch now feels like an ordeal, complete with stitch-like pains across my bump. I hate that it’s almost impossible to get comfy, but that turning over or adjusting position when I’m sitting or lying down is a mission in itself. I hate having almost nothing to wear. And this baby still needs to get at least twice as big as he is now… I also feel a bit useless in my current state, and whilst it seems a nice idea to have people doing stuff for you, I’m not very good at sitting to the side and letting everyone else get on with things. I am simultaneously worried about leaving work and counting down the days; I’m worried they won’t cope without me, and maybe more worried that they will cope too well and won’t want me back. It’s all just a bit much. Slowing down is *hard* and I go from being grateful that I have time off at weekends to nap and recuperate to feeling guilty for not making the most of this time.
Can I confess something to you, dear Internet? I also sometimes still have doubts about becoming a parent – even now, when there are less than 100 days to go until this little babe is with us. I catch myself wondering whether this whole baby thing was such a great idea, when we could have been swanning off to exotic locations, or visiting friends, or working on exciting projects, or any of those many other things that feel like they’re slipping away at a rate of knots. This isn’t a logical thought, since those things are not closed off to us in any way even when we become parents, but I can’t help but wonder if I’m *really* ready to saddle my whole life to a tiny being who relies on me (on us) for everything. Before I was pregnant, I was adamant that was what I wanted for my life, but as the reality draws closer, the doubts creep in. Don’t get me wrong, I already love this little baby and my daydreams are filled with all of the fun we’ll all have as a family, but just sometimes I am struck by the reality of this parenting lark and suddenly my carefree life where I’m only truly responsible for myself seems all that more appealing. Does that make me a bad mother already? I hope not as I’ve barely even started yet.
I’m also getting to the point of dreading the whole ‘birth’ thing. For someone who really struggles when it comes to all things medical, I’ve been surprisingly calm about the actual birth part until now. Whether it’s blind delusion, or all of the very calming yoga classes I’ve been going to, I was sure I’d have it in hand. I wasn’t looking forward to it, exactly, but it felt entirely manageable the more I read about it. I had visions of being super calm and earth mother-ish at home, lighting candles and letting my body do all the work. The closer it gets, the more I feel like I was kidding myself that such a thing is even possible; although we’re in the process of planning a home birth, the stats suggest that most first time mothers end up in hospital regardless of their best laid plans. I know there’s really no way to know what’s going to happen, and for a control freak like me, that’s pretty scary – especially when it could end up with me in exactly the place I *least* want to spend any time. Whilst I’m pragmatic that medical intervention may be necessary, and I’m not going to resist that, I am still holding on to a little bit of hope that I might be able to avoid it and stay home. I am trying to surround myself with positive birth stories, rather than accidentally falling down comment threads with too many horrific details – whilst forewarned can sometimes mean forearmed, I’m not sure that’s the case for me right now.
On the positive side (just so this doesn’t become a total sob-fest), I have been thinking lots about what our little bubba will be like. It’s exciting that he’s entirely a mystery to us right now, but soon we’ll know him better than we know almost anyone else on earth. I’m pretty sure he’ll be fair with blue eyes, if genetics are anything to go by (and I am reliably informed they are) but other than that? There’s just no way of telling. I’m impatient to meet him (and dress him in adorable little outfits), so I’m trying to focus on that feeling, rather than anything else – which is easier said than done when he’s giving me a good kicking…
[Photo by Jenn Richardson]
Unsurprisingly, I think a lot about what our little baby will be like, and what his life might be like. I am boundlessly curious about the future, and an endless planner (even when I know there can be no such thing as planning for the future, not really). If we are lucky, he will be the eldest brother to a sibling or two, which is something I’ve been also thinking about a lot. I recently listened to the Dear Sugar episode on sibling rivalry, and a few comments they made really gave me pause for thought.
I have always thought of myself as the quintessential eldest child; I have a brother who is younger than me by 2 years and a sister who is younger by 7. I don’t know if it is scientifically proven, but myth suggests that birth order can shape your personality, with eldest children tending to be high achieving, perfectionist Type As who have trouble admitting when they’re wrong or accepting criticism. Um… so far, so very, very me.
With great power comes great responsibility, of course, because as the eldest child you are also cast into a surrogate parenting role. I’ve felt that very strongly in more recent years; with my family no longer the tidy unit it once was, I do feel more of a responsibility towards my siblings, to look after and look out for them (not that they really need it so much, they are adults after all). I remember speaking with a friend who is another eldest child about this very idea; when it comes to family trouble, it can sometimes feel as though your worry is doubled as the eldest, as not only are you struggling with the situation yourself, but also perhaps shouldering a greater part of the burden. I remember quite clearly not crying at my grandmother’s funeral; not because I wasn’t incredibly sad, but because I had one sibling sobbing on each shoulder and *someone* in that situation has to be the non-cryer.
This is quite literally the latest photo I have with my siblings (and our hangers on) and it’s maybe 3 years old?! Note to self: take more photos.
It is interesting how much stock we put into friendships and romantic relationships in comparison to those we have with our siblings (I’m sure the breadth of articles on the Internet about the former two would eclipse the latter by far) when in fact our sibling relationships are likely to be the longest relationships of our lives, if we have them. Our relationships with our siblings are a template for the relationships we have with others for the rest of our lives; through them we learn to negotiate, to compromise and what our ‘place’ in the world is. I know not everyone is as lucky as I am; I actually like and love my siblings despite, as well as because of, the fact that we share our genetics, and whilst I wouldn’t characterise our relationship as particularly close, they are still a central part of my life and I consider them often in the decisions I make. I don’t doubt that I am often replicating the role I take with my siblings in my other relationships, and I would be interested in whether my siblings do the same.
One of the most interesting things they mentioned on the Dear Sugar podcast was that you don’t grow up in the same family as your siblings; whilst it sounds absurd, it is, of course, true. We have individual relationships even within our family, and the same scenario that seems wildly unfair to one sibling is likely to feel just or natural to another. It’s interesting to step outside of your own experience (in my case as the eldest child) to think about what those defining years of childhood might have felt like for the people sharing your home, but not your exact same view. Again, I am lucky that I don’t *think* that my parents favoured any of us in particular (my Mum always says that we are all her favourite children) and actively, in my eyes, discouraged sibling rivalry. My siblings and I are all quite different in personality, skills and interests, which certainly helps in that regard.
Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out in my little family now – once baby arrives, and maybe when we add siblings to the mix. Are you a quintessential eldest/middle/younger/only child? I’d love to hear your stories, too!
There is nothing remarkable about turning 27. It’s a rather banal number. Not yet 30, and yet certainly not 21. It’s the year you might have to officially start labelling yourself as ‘late 20s’, and also the year that so many rock stars die young. That fact has always made me a little sad, but even more so now that I have reached this age. 27 is at once so grown up and yet it’s no age at all.
There is a lot on the Internet about how your twenties is a confusing and difficult time; I suspect that is partly because so much of the content on the Internet is dominated by Millennials and this is what we’re living right now. But it is an odd sort of time zone to be occupying; for the first portion of your life, there are clear demarcations of each year. You are either in Year 3 or Year 4. You are either in Primary School or Secondary School. You are doing your GCSEs this year, or your A-Levels, or perhaps moving to University. There are clear goals for each year, even if they are not your own personal goals – finish the year, move up to the next, take on the next challenge as it is presented for you. After University (if you take that path), you are left out to sea, fully free to decide what path you take next – an opportunity that is both thrilling and terrifying, and not one that you are able to ignore. Of course, that continues for the rest of your life, but it is so new and raw in your early twenties, with little sense of yourself or of the world (but thinking, of course, that you know both of those things pretty darn well indeed). If I compare myself now to the person I was at 21, it almost makes me laugh – and I’m sure I will do the same again in another six years.
I am pleased with how my life has turned out (such as it is so far). For all the articles on how difficult being in your twenties are, there are as many (if not more) decrying the ‘traditional’ life; ignore marriage, babies, houses, they say – travel the world, take chances, don’t get tied down. There is merit in that, of course, and I would never want anyone to think that there is one true life course to take – variety is the spice of life, of course, and in a troubling economic and political climate, those things may not be wise or accessible to many, or even wanted. But in the mix of all that, I think it’s easy to forget that there is some merit in that more traditional way of living, and I have been glad to have the opportunity to do so. It is nice, at 27, to feel relatively settled – even as our entire world is about to be turned upside down. Strong foundations, and all that. I have been lucky, that much is certain, but I am also proud of the life and the home that I have built for myself – I couldn’t have imagined this for myself at 21 (even though everything now has been built on the things I had then).
27 is going to be the year that everything changes for me. Every year until now has been made up of slow, plodding progress, as life tends to be. There are very few times in life when things are shaken up entirely, and I’m pretty sure that having a baby is just one of those times. All being well, I will become a mother in July, and there is no turning back from that. I will never not be one ever again – even as I could shed all of my other identities, should I so wish. It is, like the moment you leave University, thrilling and terrifying all at once. The best is yet to come. 27? Let’s do this.
So, here we are. 2017. It feels like it’s been a long time coming but I’m glad that we made it. This year will mark my 10 year anniversary of ‘blogging’ in one form or another; a hobby that has changed my life in so many ways. Without blogging I wouldn’t have my Masters degree, my job in Leeds, or my husband, as well as a whole host of online friends and interests that have come from hanging out online for years. It’s funny to think about that, really. How different my life would be. And, whilst, it’s not a resolution as such, I would like to blog more regularly this year. I go through spurts where I’m inspired and I have the time to spare for this little space, but then it all goes awry as it did so spectacularly at the end of last year (although it was for good reasons that it went awry – but hosting five sets of guests in four weeks doesn’t leave much time for tapping out thoughts here). This is a constant goal of mine, and one I am trying not to beat myself up for constantly failing – but with January looking at least a little quieter than December I’m hoping to start off on a good footing.
In the few short years that I have been making resolutions, I have found that it is much easier to stick to goals and challenges when they add something to my life, rather than take it away. Reading 100 books in 2015 changed my life, although in a small way, and it was a resolution that, whilst tricky at times, added joy and relaxation to my life – so why wouldn’t I want to do it? Resolutions that have been more about subtracting things, particularly vague ‘healthy eating’ ones, have fallen at the first hurdle because they’re just not really any fun – particularly in January, the most joyless month of all. Which is why I love Rachel’s 2016 resolution to make use of her extensive cookbook collection by cooking a new recipe every week – and I’ll definitely be trying to do something similar (although it may be more like fortnightly than weekly). I’ve been neglecting baking, in particular, over the past couple of months, and we’ve got into a bit of a meal planning rut so I’m hoping a little inspiration from my cookbook stash will put paid to those issues.
There are so many little things I’d like to achieve this year. Sorting the last few bits of house renovation. Buying some cushions. Maybe trying out some new knitting patterns. Baking more bread. Getting outside more. Going on a proper holiday. But none of them feel big enough for resolutions. I guess they’re all just part of an overarching life resolution of making the most of things, and not wasting time (unless wasting time is exactly what you plan to do). And I guess you can’t argue with that one.
[Photo by Luca Upper]
Melted cheese, in all its forms. Really, really cold white wine. Perfectly ripe raspberries. Hot buttered toast. Hot buttered crumpets. Really, anything that’s hot and buttered. A pile of mussels cooked in white wine with salty chips to dip in the sauce. Preferably to be eaten close to the sea. Crispy roast potatoes. A really fudgy brownie. The crack when you tap your spoon on top of a perfectly cooked creme caramel.
The true, gurgly laughter of young children. The true, raucous laughter of adults.
Tiny baby socks and tiny baby toes. Giant puppy paws and giant puppy licks.
Bubble baths on a cosy winter night. Showers after a long summer day.
An unopened book. The smell of new books. The smell of old books. A finished book that stays with you for a long time. A book passed to a friend because you know they’ll love it. The text message they send you when they’re at the cliffhanger and know you’re the only one who will understand their pain. Buying books as gifts. Receiving books as gifts. Discussing books for hours on end. Bookshops.
Cheesy 90s and 00s pop music on the radio at work.
The moment you first turn on the heating in autumn. The moment when you turn the heating off for good in summer.
A bed made with freshly laundered sheets; ones that have been dried on the line so they smell a bit like softener and a bit like fresh air.
Those nights with friends that you know you’ll remember forever. Those moments with family when you realise that you have the very best family, no matter that everyone else says the same. When friends become family, and you make plans for your lives together as if you were all just one giant married couple.
Baking a pie. Baking brownies. Decorating a cake.
When bus drivers wave to each other as they pass each other on the road.
When you get to the bus stop at exactly the right time so you don’t have to wait but you don’t miss the bus.
An Old Fashioned that is orange-y enough to take out the sting of the bourbon, but not completely. A cold gin & tonic on a warm summer’s day, but only when shared with friends. The bitterness of an Aperol Spritz and the sweetness of a glass of Pimm’s. The fruit you fish out of your glass of Pimm’s when you think no one is looking. Spaghetti aglio olio. Fish & chips by the beach, with liberal amounts of vinegar. Really good pizza. Really dirty pizza.
Realising you really live somewhere when you can’t go to the shops without spotting someone that you know.
Getting proper post. Writing letters. Sending cards.
Writing in a brand new notebook using my best pen and my best handwriting.
Roof gardens. Roof gardens with a view. Roof gardens with a view over Manhattan, in particular. Briggate on a Friday night. Roundhay Park when the sun is shining (especially when there are lots of dog-walkers about). The Mustard Pot on a summer afternoon or a winter’s evening. Chapel Allerton on Saturday morning. Leeds Town Hall lit up at night. Spotting the Candle House from the train and knowing you are so close to home. The ‘nearly home’ bridge on the way to my grandparents’ house. My aunt’s kitchen. My best friend’s childhood bedroom. Yorkshire villages. Yorkshire countryside.
Spotting a woman who is dressed outlandishly but so well you can’t help but grin and wish for some of her pizazz.
People who are passionate about a really niche subject that I have no interest in.
Twitter, when it’s at its very best.
Fluffy peonies. Roses that actually smell like roses. Very bright daffodils.
A really good sunset.
Inspired by The Dolly Mail