Me Time Irony

It had been ages since the husband and I had had a night out on our own. Even longer since we had had a night away from the little man. Two years to be precise. Seven hundred and thirty nights.

Seven hundred and thirty nights of bedtime routines and goodnight kisses and seven hundred and thirty one good morning bundles from our mini human.

We’d been invited to my sister’s for the evening with the opportunity to stay over so we could enjoy a few rare drinks without one of us having to drive. We wanted Ethan to experience a sleepover at his Grandparents, as did they, so it was all arranged and we were all really looking forward to it.


And then the day arrived.

We had a lovely day out together at a Farm Park (blog post here – shameless plug!) and then I had to leave him at my Mum & Dad’s. Oh my goodness. I was a wreck. I just didn’t want to leave him!

It was one night for goodness sake and I was missing him before I’d even left!

I came home and felt a little lost. I passed the time by watching some of my current Netflix programme of choice and waited until the hubby came home so we could go out.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a lovely time. I was totally at ease knowing he was with my parents who he adores and it was nice to not have to feel responsible for a little person for a few hours but at the same time it was the weirdest feeling ever. I literally felt like my arm had been cut off. It was quiet. There was no “Mummy, Mummy, Mummy” every five minutes and no checking on him before I went to sleep. It was just beyond strange to me and totally foreign.

Needless to say the next morning, I couldn’t wait to pick him up. And he was so pleased to see us. We had the biggest cuddle I think we’ve ever had.

It was needed. I felt refreshed and it was because of this feeling that I realised how important it is to get that ‘me time’. And of course ‘us time’. But there’s some kind of weird irony in that you look forward to this time and then the minute you get it, you just want them back again.

God this parenting lark is strange at times. Tell me it’s not just me that’s felt like this?!



Jaki is a thirty something Mumma to one – winging motherhood since 2012. Intuitive over-thinker with a penchant for loud music, nice shoes & woolly socks and blogger at JakiJellz. Find her onFacebook and  Twitter.

The Centre of His World

No one warns you and nothing can prepare you for what I can only describe as the intensity of Motherhood. I say Motherhood of course as I have no experience of Fatherhood. So if you are a Father, forgive me for using just this term. It’s the only experience I have.

From the moment they are born you are the centre of their world. You are there to feed them. You are there to change them. You are there to cuddle them when they need comfort. You are there. Just for them.


And so it goes for the next few years. As babies turn into toddlers and toddlers turn into pre-schoolers, it is still you that they turn to for everything. Even when you think you aren’t doing as much for them as you once did, to them, you are their world.

At least, this is how it is for me. And as I said before. I can only write this post from my own experience.

Ethan is very, very much a Mummy’s boy. Don’t get me wrong, he loves his Daddy and has a great deal of fun and giggles with him but deep down, it’s me that he would have do EVERYTHING for him if he could.

Even after a long day together sometimes he still insists that it’s me that bathes him. That it’s me that gets him dressed ready for bed. That it’s me that reads the bedtime story, ten times over. On a bad day, that it’s me that has to sit on his bedroom floor so he can fall asleep easily. It’s me that he calls in the night when he has a bad dream and it’s me he jumps on in the morning at 5am when he’s awake before first light.

It’s intense. It’s completely adorable. But it’s intense.

Sometimes I can get to his bedtime and be totally and utterly exhausted and drained from the constant ‘I want Mummy to do it’ and ‘Mummy come and play’. ‘No Mummy don’t tidy the kitchen, come and sit by me’ and the hardest of all, on the rare occasion I go out? The tears and the ‘Don’t go Mummy, stay with me!’.

I’ve been known to feel relief at bedtime when I have a few hours’ freedom and peace and quiet – and the guilt as I write this is overwhelming. Whilst I totally and utterly, completely and unconditionally love my little boy with all of my heart – he really can drain me.

I know it won’t be like this forever. There will come a time when he will be oh so independent and will likely cringe to think he was ever this way. But for now this is how it is.


Jaki is a thirty something Mumma to one – winging motherhood since 2012. Intuitive over-thinker with a penchant for loud music, nice shoes & woolly socks and blogger at JakiJellz. Find her onFacebook and  Twitter.


Kids and Healthy Food. Make It Happen

I know this is a topic so widely discussed nowadays. But since I became a parent myself, it has turned into a cause. I don’t think I’ll ever cease my efforts to argue it out with people why it is important for children to eat healthy food. More precisely, why it is important for parents to take it in. Because it’s up to us, adults, and it’s not about forbidding food. It’s about good choices.


I strongly believe it is our responsibility as parents to choose wisely before our children could choose themselves. This is the bad news because healthy feeding should start right from the beginning, in your baby’s first months. Not that it would be too late to change family’s habits on a later stage, but it definitely would be much more difficult and traumatic. So the earlier parents get it, the better for their children. We all want to raise happy kids, don’t we? We want them to be healthy and full of energy. Then why so many parents out there don’t seem to care about their offspring’s diet? We buy heaps of toys, tablets, stupid games, whatever, and we still insist healthy food is expensive? Is an apple more expensive than a donut? What about a kilogram of bananas, isn’t it cheaper than a pack of chips? No excuses here. Broccoli and spinach taste bad? Roasted meat is boring and breaded chicken is awesome? You have a very special role to play. Cook. Show your kids that healthy food could be delicious.

I don’t say I have succeeded, it’s too early to reach such conclusions. But I strive hard to show my son that homemade food is better. And so far my methods have proved to be working. I am painfully aware that most people see me as the weird mother who “deprives” her child of so many tasty stuff. I don’t mind and I’ll tell you why I think they’re wrong – because these days we have an utterly distorted notion of food, and we prefer to bury our heads in the sand rather than face the problems that poor diet brings on. Food is one of those little pleasures in life, true; but it should heal and not cause diseases. Obesity among children is something to worry about. Let’s stop pretending it does not exist.

I haven’t made a strict diet plan for my child (of course not!) and he has tasted almost everything. The keystone is moderation. Our family can eat junk food from time to time, but we know this is not the kind of food we eat daily. See his mother – I’m addicted to chocolate and often eat goodies, they’re just a piece of relish; but now I have control over it (I hope so🙂 ) and I have found some substitutions as well (honey and fresh dates, for instance). So don’t forbid! Teach your kids about food, explain why something is good or bad. When I say to my boy he’d better not eat jellies, I explain why they are harmful and what they could cause – he will have his teeth damaged and his stomach will ache. He can try one or two, no prohibitions. But he understands this is not an everyday food and since we don’t have them in our cupboards, he is not that tempted when he sees them in stores. He also knows which things we consider unhealthy and very often he says: “This is harmful.”

BUT it is a long process and not an overnight success. I have been telling him about healthy and unhealthy food since his baby age. They say we should talk to our babies all the time, about everything around them, and I did. If I am advised to read tales to my baby (I did that, too🙂 ), why shouldn’t I talk about food as well? Sounds preposterous? If you have a little infant, try it. It might make sense a year or two later.


Not only do I talk about food, but I also give my son tons of fruit and veggies. I believe that children should be offered any possible healthy options, once they start eating solid foods. Yes, even spinach and broccoli – these disgusting green things you hate so much and never cook. Well, your baby may like them. If not, leave them out for a while, never force them on your kid. Children change their food preferences just as adults do – they eat something, then they don’t like it anymore, and vice versa. I’ve learned to respect that. For example, I love Brussel sprouts and avocado, whereas my boy doesn’t want to put a single piece in his mouth. That’s OK. Maybe one day… But no constraint, please.

This leads me to my next point – cook tasty food! Is it possible your child doesn’t like the soup just because it’s insipid and flavourless, and not because there is a bit of broccoli in it? Yes, it is. I’ve discovered this myself. If I cook something with no enthusiasm, I can see my son is not so happy to eat it. Because it’s not that good indeed. Eating is not an unpleasant obligation for kids to do 5 times a day, then neither is cooking for mummies. Fortunately, I love spending time in the kitchen; however, even if this is not the case with you, there is still hope for you to start considering cooking enjoyable. How? The most powerful argument – you’ll be pampering your family with lovely meals and that will make you feel really proud of yourself. Besides, you don’t need to devote hours. Find quick and easy-to-follow recipes. In fact, healthy food is usually easy and not time-consuming. Get inspired by some brilliant chefs, watch their shows or buy their books. How about Jamie Oliver, Jacques Pépin or Lorraine Pascale? Or Gordon Ramsay?

Now we’ve seen cooking can be fast and pleasant, there should be no excuses. OK, you don’t feel like preparing food every single day. Go to the supermarket and pick up some healthy stuff – bananas and not candies, ready-to-eat salad and not French fries, whole meal bread to make sandwiches at home and not a greasy burger… Peeling an orange won’t take much longer than opening a waffle; a pack of row nuts or natural dried fruit is as convenient as a pack of crackers, but it’s simply that – nourishing, tasty and healthy. All good and delicious choices, but your children need to get familiar with them firstly.

I hope you now understand why I don’t care when people disapprove my approach to children’s feeding. On the contrary, I’ll be extremely happy if I can make more people believe in the importance of children’s healthy and balanced diet. I really want to make them realise that “depriving” kids from all that colourful crap seen in the ads is depriving them of harmful substances. For goodness’ sake, do you store all those chemicals from the labels in your kitchen? So why do we give them to our precious children? They don’t need them, neither do they need such large amounts of salt, refined sugar, fats and empty calories. I don’t call it deprivation. It’s an act of love towards our children and not a parental whim. It has nothing to do with mummies’ dieting to lose weight; it concerns health. Give it some thought and change your own eating habits if necessary. Now let’s go shopping with our kids and make good choices together.

marinaI am a mother of a boy, housewife (but not a desperate one) and book lover. In my blog Simply Marina, I write about anything that I am interested in – parenting, Yoga and fitness, healthy lifestyle, cooking, good books. I am truly concerned with children’s healthy diet and kids growing happy. My family is my happiness and my greatest source of inspiration. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Could It Be A Case Of The Stroppy Sevens?

‘I HATE you!

‘This is so rubbish. I’m soooo bored.’

‘Just leave me ALONE!’

If you heard all the above, accompanied by door slamming and foot stamping, you’d assume you were in the presence of a teenager wouldn’t you?

When everything you say is met by a smart comeback, an eye roll or a grimace, you’d grit your teeth and remind yourself that this is typical teenage behaviour.

So imagine my surprise when my previously sweet tempered and pleasant daughter began acting just like a teenager as she approached the age of seven.


I thought she’d been possessed. Honestly, I couldn’t understand what had happened to her. She’s always been slightly feisty but her behaviour over the past few months has really ramped up a gear.

And the tantrums… She really knows how to ‘voice’ her displeasure when things aren’t going her way. This often involves violence towards her unsuspecting younger brother too.

I constantly have the feeling of trying my best but never being able to win. I’m forever having to hold my temper because she knows exactly which buttons to push and she’s pressing them many times throughout each day.

It’s emotionally exhausting.

To be honest this behaviour, which conveniently started over the summer holidays, has been beginning to get me down. Everything has become a battle and family life has been suffering a bit. Ok a lot. Wine consumption in our house is at an all-time high (even my husband joins me for a glass in the evenings and he doesn’t even like the stuff).

Enter Dr. Google. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to find that this behaviour is ‘normal’. It is a thing. It even has a name.

‘The Stroppy Sevens’.

(My son is firmly implanted in the Terrible Twos but I think most people know how that goes. Let’s just say that I’d take the Terrible Twos over the Stroppy Sevens any day – with a cherry on top.)

With the aim of seeing  if other parents experienced the Stroppy Sevens, I asked some fellow bloggers if they had faced it too. The answer was a resounding, ‘YES!!’

According to Jaymee from The Mum Diaries, ‘My 7 year old is a mini Kevin! He screams, shouts stomps and is such a grump! I really hope he comes out of it soon!’

I too can relate to the Kevin and Perryness of this stage. I could also have written word-for-word what Alice from Living With Jude has to say on the subject, ‘Our daughter swings from lovely to literally Satan himself. Her favourite sentences are “can you just listen to me, for once in your life?” “You know it isn’t all about you, mum.” “You’re not the boss of me!” Oh the joys…’

The joys indeed. Still it feels better when you know you’re not alone.

Sarah from Twins Make Five summed up the Stroppy Sevens nicely when she said,

‘Seven seemed like such a game changing age for my daughter. It was like she was being pulled from wanting to be a kid and wanting to be grown up and cool. I could literally see her battling which way to go. So many things that she’d loved were suddenly branded babyish and boring. My daughter is generally very well behaved but there was definitely an increase in eye rolling and stomping off in annoyance! It felt like a tiny taste of the teenage years.’

What’s it all about?

My first question, after feeling the relief of discovering I wasn’t alone in this, was, ‘Why the hell is it happening?’

I came across psychologist Jean Piaget‘s Four Stages of Development Theory. According to Piaget, children go through four important stages of cognitive development. These stages happen at ages 0-2, 2-7, 7-11 and then adolescence to adulthood. It is when the child is about to progress from one stage to the next that challenging behaviour occurs. These transitional periods, when the brain is gearing up for the next cognitive stage but isn’t quite there yet, can explain all the behaviour I’ve come to associate with the Terrible Twos and now the Stroppy Sevens.

Apparently it can last for up to a year (oh goody).

In all seriousness though, being able to understand why my daughter is behaving the way she is and knowing that it’s perfectly normal has made dealing with the challenging moments (and there are many of them) much easier.

So once I knew why my little angel seemed to be possessed by the spirit of a disgruntled teenager, my next question had to be…

What’s the best way to manage the challenging behaviour?

How do I get through this without yelling all day and constantly feeling like I’m on the verge of losing my shit? And more importantly, how can I support my daughter through this stage?

My blogger friends also had some fantastic advice about this.

  1. Have a good routine in place

Older children need routines as much as they did when they were babies and toddlers.

According to Beth from Twinderelmo, ‘My son has been so much better since being back at school. He is much better with routine and having other authority figures that he actually listens to.’

I agree completely, my daughter has also been better since being back at school. Her routine over the summer was quite non-existent and I wonder if this didn’t help matters.

We recently sat down and wrote a family routine, which I have stuck up on the kitchen wall. My decision to cut down on the kids’ TV time was met with cries of, ‘Why do you HATE me??!!’  I’ve stuck to my guns because, you know, you kind of have to once you’ve made these decisions.

  1. Stick to boundaries

You certainly need some firm boundaries in place to make it through this stage unscathed.

As Angela from The Life of Spicers said, ‘My nine year old went through horrendous behaviour at seven. My wine consumption also went up. Just stuck to boundaries, ignore the behaviour and you’ll get your darling back sooner or later.

So we both need to know what the boundaries are and what happens if she crosses them. Consistency is key, I believe.

  1. Encourage positive friendships

Emily from A Slummy Mummy said, ‘There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that with the burst in hormones at seven children also take a leap of independence. It’s an age where friendships take over as the bigger influence in a child’s life. My daughter is ten, I’ve found that encouraging  positive friendships has helped us get over this. It’s also about giving a little more freedom and opportunities to be more independent so you don’t feel they’re constantly banging against that parental wall.’

I have also noticed that friendships are becoming more important at this age. Whereas my daughter used to be happy going to the park or soft play with me, she now only wants to go if she can take a friend. I try to make sure she sees her friends out of school as much as possible.

  1. Offer rewards instead of punishments

I tend to always jump in with, ‘If you don’t stop doing that, you’re going to lose this’. For ‘this’ insert TV, a favourite toy a planned treat. A very wise friend of mine recently suggested I offer a reward instead, to make the whole experience more positive for my daughter.

So I changed my tactics to, ‘if you do that, you can have this’ and we also drew up a reward chart. Reward charts were something I associated with younger children but it turns out they work equally well at this age too.

Emma from The Mini Mes And Me echoed my friend’s sentiments when she said,’ When the Mini Mes were younger and misbehaving I would generally ignore them and when they didn’t receive any attention from their actions they would get bored and stop. I’d also really praise them when they did something well so they soon realised what was expected of them’.

So lots of praise and rewards seems to be the way forwards.

All of the above advice really does seem to help when my daughter is having one of her, erm, ‘turns’.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Charlotte from Charlottedellie,  ‘This stage is something that happens a lot to young children at seven. What you will find is they have got to the stage that they are aware of life a little more now and are starting to test the water to see what they can get away with. Stick to your guns when they are having a strop. In time they will grow out of this and realise they can’t always get what they want. It won’t happen overnight but it works.’

Basically, I need a bucket load of patience and understanding, the tips above and  a fridge full of wine to make it through to the other side.

If you too are living with a stroppy seven year old, I hope this post helps you a bit. If not there’s always chocolate.



Aimee Foster is the co-founder of mum friendship website, Mum Amie, where she also blogs about parenting, baby loss and well-being. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Safe Sleep vs No Sleep: It’s All About Balance

If you’d asked me four months ago whether I would ever let my baby sleep in bed with me, I would have vehemently shaken my head.  Who would allow a baby into an adults bed in the night? Don’t they know the risks?  Can you imagine what would happen!??  And yet, here we are, four months later with a sixteen week old baby firmly planted on the mattress every night.

We read the brochures over and over regarding putting baby ‘back to sleep’.  ‘I’ll never let my baby sleep any other way’, I thought and yet night after night we find ourselves putting him down on his side.

“We’ll only use sleeping bags, never a loose blanket – those things are suffocation risks”.  Guess what? He goes to bed nightly loosely wrapped in a muslin blanket which he loves to put up around his face and sometimes over it.


If you’re anything like pre-baby me, you’re probably thinking we’re recklessly endangering our baby’s life.  All the pre-baby literature you’re given, the talks from the midwife, the recommended practices confirm the best way to reduce SIDS risks is to put baby on a separate sleeping surface to you, in your room, with no loose blankets or covers.  Baby should be put down on their back and if they roll, we were advised to roll them gently back over until they could competently roll from front to back and vice versa (then it all goes out the window!).  THAT, we were informed, is safe sleep.

But what if safe sleep = no sleep?!

For the first few weeks of our sons existence we did our level best to follow these headings, terrified that if we strayed from one part, we would be endangering the very being we’re trying so hard to protect.  Night after night, I would sit upright to feed, petrified of dropping off mid-feed and rolling on to him, or worse, dropping him.  I would slowly transfer him into his bed, painstakingly slowly removing my body from his millimetre by millimetre whilst hunched in a torturous position half in and half out of the moses basket.  I would watch him for hours as he flung his arms outwards, waking himself up in shock before we re-started the teeth-pullingly painful process of getting him back to sleep and transferred into his own bed only to have to repeat the process twenty minutes later.  It was hideous.  We were zombies and all three of us weren’t sleeping.  We just couldn’t do it.  We were failing.

The first night he came in with us, I cried in the morning.  I was so ashamed that I’d ‘put my baby at risk’ all because I couldn’t cope with the sleeplessness.  I admitted it to no-one, my husband and I firmly agreeing that it would just be the once, and yet, the next night it happened again.  We practiced safe bedsharing and yet still we felt we were doing it wrong.

It took going to see a breast-feeding support worker to help me see that we were putting too much pressure on ourselves.  If I’m exhausted when I feed, there IS A chance that I’ll fall asleep onto my baby or drop him (which.. when he was in hospital for a bug and exhaustion was well and truly set in, I very nearly did lose him out the arm of a chair!)  She pointed out we were far better to PLAN to fall asleep.  By positioning myself in a way that allowed me to safely hold him should either of us drop off and practice laid-back breast feeding, we were able to relax a bit more.

Next, we reluctantly mentioned the bed-sharing to the health visitor.  We’ve had mixed dealings with our HVs in terms of usefulness and tactfulness but this time she told us exactly what we needed, in that moment, to hear.  IT’S ABOUT BALANCE.

It’s about balancing the risks of us being exhausted vs the risks of non ‘safe-sleep’.

It’s about balancing him sleeping peacefully on his side vs him thrashing around on his back and screaming.

It’s about balancing him snoring next to me in bed (albeit a quilt and pillow removed one) vs him not sleeping at all in his next-to-me.

It’s about balancing our needs as a family in order to function vs his safety.

Every evening, we carefully go about a bedtime routine of change, feed and put down.  Our child sleeps on his side.  We’ve tried forcing him to sleep on his back but he hates it and as the doctor said “If he likes to sleep on his side, let him”.  Yes, it’s not QUITE as safe as sleeping on his back but… he. sleeps.  We wrap him in a muslin blanket which he often pulls around his face.  Yes, it’s loose.  But again, a tight blanket or his sleeping bag just makes him scream.  Yes, there’s a risk.  We’ve minimised it by using cellular or muslin blankets that are thin so he can still breathe through them should it go over his face.

Finally, we always put him down in his own bed.  At nearly four months, he’s still waking to feed every two/three hours (something we’re about to start trying to change!) and will take a substantial feed each time.  So, in the middle of the night, when we’re on the second or third feed and he’s unsettled, we’ll make the decision about whether or not he comes in with us.  It means I end up with little room, trying to share his muslin blanket (I never win!) BUT it gets us some settled sleep.  We follow all the guidelines for bed-sharing as outlined by the NHS wherever possible and it’s allowed us to function as a family without the guilt of feeling like we’re failing to protect our child.

Safe sleep is important.  But so is sanity.  And as with so many aspects of parenthood, we’re learning that it’s ALL about balance.


Mama, wife and recovering sleep addict, Hayley spends the majority of her time bouncing her newborn son.  When she’s not setting herself up for future knee surgery, she can be found attempting to cook, exploring Devon and frantically Googling parenting questions.  You can follow her parenthood adventures at, on Twitter or on Instagram

Lunch Rut? 5 Steps To Dig Yourself Out

Are you in a lunch rut? Everyone loves a good sarnie. Don’t get me wrong here, there is a lot to be said for an easy peasy cheese sandwich and they often go down better than anything else. But it is nice to have something else to add into the mix; particularly if your kids are going through a fussy phase.

I sometimes find myself stuck for ideas so I went back through the last couple of months to see what we ate. I have also come up with a few tips to make lunches fun and a few new ideas.

1. Same food different approach

If you have wraps a lot, make a quesidilla. Pasta…have spaghetti with carrot noodles (I don’t have a spiralizer I have a £5 julienne peeler that works fine). Bread? Try rye. You like what you like and that’s cool. So begin by thinking just a little outside the box.

2. Flip it around

Make your fruit dessert the star of the show and have a smaller, savoury dish. The other day I put a whole tomato in with Dex’s fruit salad to see if it would encourage him to try it. It did. (He still didn’t like it, mind. But he tried it!)

3. Picnics!

Even if it’s peeing it down. Change where you eat. Sometimes a change of scenery can encourage everyone to try something different.

4. Something hot

Anyone else forget you can have a hot dinner at lunchtime? Actually, most kids have a hot meal when they stay at school or nursery so why don’t I do it more at home? I have a recipe for a risotto that is lovely for lunch just here.

5. Make it fun

Dips. Pictures. Colour. Sharing plates. A bit of something new with the yummy and familiar. Houmous and grapes, rainbow rice, sharing a massive fruit salad by dipping it in yoghurt or melted choc. Wrap your leftovers up in a little puff pastry or use a cookie cutter to make something looks cool. This sausage and mash took 30 seconds longer than usual and I’m NO artist!

You know all this. But sometimes it’s good to remind yourself you can break out of the crusty box.

Faye Colegate is a mama, wife, teacher, baker and blogger. She loves colour, fun and the outdoors. Her blog is a place for families to find out about cool stuff, read the odd parent musing and find fun and easy recipes that everyone can eat. Visit her blog here and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram

The Ghost At The Classroom Door

This week social media is alive with pictures of little children smiling at the school gate, clutching brand new book bags and sporting shiny shoes. Tips for parents on how to cope with their child’s first day, tales of parents who couldn’t wait for this moment and of those who are dreading it fill my news-feed on an hourly basis.

We should be joining them, you and I.


As I drop your big sister off at school for her first day back, I glance at the reception classrooms with trepidation. For the first time I see the classroom your sister inhabited during her reception year in a new light. Knowing we should be among the hub-bub of photos and hugs outside the doors causes an additional kind of sadness to wash over me. This is one I haven’t yet experienced in the spectrum of sorrow you left me with.

For the first time, I see the friends you’ll never have and the mums I’ll never to talk to. Introductions we’ll never make, play-dates we’ll never attend and jokes we’ll never share. These friendships hang in the air like a fine mist. They are an invisible curtain of abstract words and experiences hanging over the playground.

Until now, these people have only existed, as you do, in my imagination. Yet suddenly here they are. I can actually see them. If life had been kinder to us, we would be with them on their first day of school and part of their lives from today onward.

I can almost touch the birthday parties you’ll never attend and Christmas plays I’ll never see you in. Friendships will bloom without your input. They’ll never know you were supposed to be there.

I want to run over and tell them all you should be there. I want to meet your teacher and view the spot on the classroom carpet where you should be sitting. I feel angry that you’ve been robbed of your rightful place yet again. A kaleidoscope of missed experiences unfolds before me, running like a river through my heart.

Of course, I’ll look like a mad woman if I go over there. Some days grief makes you mad, to an extent that’s hard for others to understand.

As I see tiny child by tiny child enter their new classroom, I wonder how you would have fared on your first day. Would you be one of the bounders, running in without a backwards glance, or a leg clinger – unable to let go of me? Perhaps you would take after your sister who was a mixture of the two? The few hours we spent together during your only day of life didn’t leave me with any answers to these and many more questions.

I don’t even know what you would look like in your royal blue cardigan and grey dress. I imagine your hair and eyes to be dark, as they were during your short life. I picture a cheeky grin and an air of confidence about you as you wave me off.

And suddenly, there you are. The ghost at the classroom door.

You were notably absent from our first-day-of-school photos this morning. You should have been arm-in-arm with your sister and brother. A stab of guilt slices through me as it so often does when I think about you. Would your brother even be in those photos if you were? Would he even exist? I tell myself to abandon this guilt-filled conundrum for the time being. The answer lies just beyond my reach.

There is a hole in all our family photos, a gap where you should take your place. A voice missing when your brother and sister laugh together and a pair of legs which quite doesn’t keep up with them when they run and play. A shadow with human form joins in with all our endeavors. Your presence grows stronger with our desire for you to be part of it all.

Today you are the ghost at the classroom door. Yesterday you were the ghost of our cliff top walk. I felt you careering through the breeze and darting through the long grass as we walked. A different ghost of you exists for every occasion. You are the sunbeam dancing through my window in the morning and a whisper of wind through the trees at night. Expanding, contracting and shifting shape as you fill us with eternal love and regret.

I watch the reception teachers chivvy along children and parents alike, completely unaware of the fact there is a name missing from the register. Uniform never purchased and labelled, a lunch box never filled, a hand never to be raised and a pencil never picked up. Your friends embark on this milestone together while, just like first words and first steps, it has passed you by.

As always, for you we can only imagine. We will always imagine.

I wonder how many other mamas are doing the same this morning, how many other children should be starting reception, how many other hearts feel clogged with sorrow. A small army of classroom ghosts who never had the chance to be real pupils.

From today onward, I’ll see you there. Smiling and waving from the classroom door as you wait for class to begin.



Aimee Foster is the co-founder of mum friendship website, Mum Amie, where she also blogs about parenting, baby loss and well-being. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.