To My Beautiful Girl Now You Are Six

How can I describe how much I love you? How much I look forward to each morning when your sleepy smile greets me as I walk into your room and warm arms are flung around my neck. The elfin hair you had as a toddler has become a glorious golden mane now you are six.

6th birthday blog pic
Here you are aged six

There were days when you wouldn’t let me put you down as a baby. I remember having you in a carrier strapped to me so that I could cook dinner. This didn’t last for long though. Your independent streak soon came to the fore. ‘I can do it myself’ is the all too familiar cry I get from you nowadays. There is feistiness too. Like when you told me the other week that, ‘I didn’t know what fun was’ when I dared to suggest a shopping trip to town would be ‘fun’. You are stubborn and will dig in your heels when you don’t want to do something and, though you are small in stature, you are capable of bossing all of us around.

I tried my best to give birth to you naturally, but in the end, just like your brother, you were born by emergency caesarean, with Lady Gaga playing in the background. I should have known from that moment that you were going to be a diva. They had rushed your brother out of the operating theatre to give him oxygen so I never had the crying moment I had with you with him. Oh the relief to hear your lungs spring into action and to hold you on my chest.

Baby Nell for blog
Small but perfectly formed at just over two months old

 

Your weight plummeted so much after you were born that we had to go out and buy premature baby clothes. You steadily put on weight from then but you’re still small for your age now you are six.

Giving birth to you was not only a gift for me and your dad but also for your brother, who adores you. Having a little sister to love and care for has brought out qualities in him that are wonderful to see. From the early days when we taught him to dab you with a damp ball of cotton wool during your bath time, to now when he cuddles up with you on the sofa or plants a kiss on your nose at your classroom door, I am proud of the big brother he has become. Of course you are not perfect, you squabble and fall out like any other siblings but most of the time you are lovely together.

My babies 2010
Getting to know your big brother
Easter bunny  2016
Meeting the Easter Bunny earlier this year

You took a while to start walking and when you finally did it wasn’t easy to find shoes for your tiny feet. But there has been no stopping you since you took your first steps. You’re a whirlwind of energy whether you are bouncing on a trampoline or pirouetting in your ballet class, and you swim like a little fish.

IMG_0194
You seem to take everything in your stride

I am bowled over by your confidence. I was so impressed with how you took starting school in your stride and love the way you make new friends so easily.

Sometimes now you are six I notice how grown up you are becoming. I know that one day you will stop needing me in the way you need me now. You won’t want me washing and drying your hair or putting it into plaits. You will no longer sit on my knee to hear a bedtime story or run into my arms at school pick-up time. One day in the not too distant future I know you will be able to do these things for yourself or will be too embarrassed to show me any affection in public.

Thinking of this time makes me tearful but, although part of me doesn’t want it to happen, I know you’ll become a teenager and you’ll leave home. Although, probably not for a while what with property prices being what they are.

Until then I’m just going to enjoy you being six. I’m going to embrace the pink sparkly trainers, dance round the kitchen with you to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off and share girlie chats over cappuccinos and babyccinos in Costa Coffee.

Happy birthday my beautiful girl now you are six.

IMG_1108
You’re such an independent little girl

Searching for the Joy

So it all started with THAT BOOK. I think it was around New Year when it first turned up on my Facebook news feed. You know that time when you’re reflecting on the past, looking to the future and are far more receptive to the idea of making changes to your life.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about you must have been hiding under a pile of unfolded laundry for the last few months. The Life-changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo is a book that promises to transform your home into a clutter-free space and in doing so, change your whole life.

Kondo book
This book promises to change your life.

As a self-confessed hoarder I jumped at the chance to get rid of all the stuff around me that I felt was holding me back. In a couple of clicks I had purchased it on Amazon and was eagerly anticipating its arrival through my letter box.

To be honest, the first stage of the decluttering process was easy. As instructed I threw every item of clothing I owned, including shoes and handbags, onto the living room floor and went through each item methodically deciding whether it inspired joy or not. This is what the author asks you to do, if something doesn’t bring you joy, she instructs you to throw it out.

The folding technique Kondo uses was a bit of a challenge initially but when it was completed I felt incredibly proud of my neat drawers and minimalist wardrobe. I also took five big bags of ‘stuff’ to a charity shop.

tidy drawers
Everything in its place.

But then my emotions got involved. The thing is I don’t seem to have the same attachment to my clothes as I do to my children’s. It took me a long time to finally agree to give away items my son had worn when he was a baby and toddler even though, by this time I was expecting a baby girl, and they were going to a good home. It would seem that having children has turned me into a sentimental fool. Every babygrow and t-shirt seemed to bring back memories of a developmental milestone, a funny moment or a day out.

Even now I haven’t had the heart to get rid of the mini morning suit my son wore when his dad and I got married eight years ago, a tie dye t-shirt we bought for him when we were on honeymoon in Brighton and an furry all-in-one pram suit, my daughter also wore, which made them both look like teddy bears. I find it hardest to throw their shoes away. Thoughts of the tentative steps they took whilst barely bending their chubby knees flood into my head. My heart melts and they stay piled up in the cupboard.

Shoes
Shoes make me feel sentimental.

Another source of clutter in our house is old cards. When I started out on this process I realised that I had kept every card any of us had been given in the almost nine years we have lived here. The space these take up when you put them all together is mind blowing. My son has celebrated eight birthdays and my daughter five and I have the cards from every one of them. Just seeing a giant three on a card takes me back to when they were that age. I have all of their Christmas cards too.

I am getting better with their clothes and I’ve even given away and sold old toys they have outgrown. Some of these toys tug at the heart strings more than others. Saying farewell to my daughter’s Happyland was much harder for me than for her but I’ve consoled myself with how much joy playing with them used to bring her and hopefully they will do the same thing for their new owners. These days she is far more interested in building random things with her Lego Friends bricks to give them a second thought.

I try, wherever possible, to make sure things go to a good home. I’ve sent books to a nursery, toys to a Sunday school and blankets and sheets to my children’s school for den building. Most weeks I will take a bag or two into one of my favourite charity shops.

So I’m getting there, our home is actually looking less cluttered these days. You can actually see the floor in some places. I’ve realised this task is going to take a while. I’m several months into the process but there is still so much to do or should I say so much to go. Watch this space (there is so much more of it than there used to be) and I’ll keep you informed.