I have sat and stared at my screen for a good few minutes.
I find it really hard to start writing at the moment. (Edit: I started this last night and it took me a thoughtful lunch break to finish it).
I've always been the sort of person who, when she felt like it, words would fly from her fingers like sparks. Like they would almost buzz with the feeling. It's one of the few things in this world that makes me feel truly myself.
I suppose that's why I've been doing this for so long.
January was a really exciting month for me. Well, it was supposed to be.
On the 18th, my blog turned five years old.
On the 25th, I turned 28 years-old.
On the 26th, my relationship turned two years old.
These are all important, special, wonderful things. And I didn't even manage to get them down. I didn't manage to get those thoughts down.
I didn't get to explain how proud I was for having done something like this for five years. To have invested five years into something I love. But something that has brought me friendship, recognition, confidence, chances, opportunities, luck, and change.
Very few of you might remember the days where I spoke of having a personal trainer, relationships, and pre-motherhood. When I finally became a mother, I used to marvel at blogs written by people who are now my friends. Like - actual friends. Who only this morning gave me advice when I felt a bit panicked.
Now, I am actually allowed to say, though I never do, that my blog is one of the leading parenting blogs in the UK. And I hate saying that. Because it shouldn't matter to me. Or to you. Or to anyone. At least, if you approach it from the point of view that I'm just one mum, who decided to write a bit more. But at the same time, I want to celebrate five years of working hard at this. I have worked two jobs, one that never paid for a long time. One that was just an investment in me. And now I'm able to stand back and go: "You know what kid? You did good."
This blog is on my CV you know? It's a big part of my 'self'. Which sounds corny. But it proves I can do a lot of things. And, when all I wanted to do was write like no one's watching. I was able to. Until people started to watch. Started to read. And then made me feel like I wasn't just passionate about writing, but possibly good at it.
I think we all need to start shouting about these successes more. I feel like I eat humble pie too much, almost like it's my diet. Because I don't want to celebrate me. I don't want to put my hand up, feebly, and say: "I'm proud of myself." But I probably should be doing this more. I'm about to birth a daughter. And I already have a son. I am so proud of their successes, even if one of them has only mastered kicking the living daylights out of my bladder so far. I shout about how proud I am of them all the time. But I should be teaching them to feel proud of themselves too. Already my son has become my parrot: "I just can't do it, Mama. I'm rubbish." "I just don't feel like myself today." And those are not phrases I am proud of. We can do it Bill. Look. We can do it!
I didn't get to explain how I felt about turning 28. A few people expressed their shock that I was nearer 30 than 20, which was hilariously wonderful to hear, thank you! Because, honestly? I feel old. I know people with years on me will roll their eyes when I say that. But I've spent most of my 20s as a mother. I fell pregnant with Bill at 23, and to be honest, I've had quite the adventure since then.
My life is not how I thought it would be. I had plans. I was going places.
I was going to fall in love with a man, move in with him, have a great career, get married, and have my first child at 27.
I was not going to fall pregnant accidentally, change careers due to what felt wrong and what felt right, become a single mother, and then fall in love with the man that sat a few desks away from me, with short hair, wicked blue eyes and the most perfect teeth and smile you've ever seen.
I wasn't supposed to have two children to two different men. I wasn't supposed to have to explain that, yes, yes, we have the same surname but we aren't married. I wasn't supposed to wave my son off once a week and pretend I'm fine with it.
But I'm 28. Two years from thirty. Soon-to-be mother of two. I feel so very young sometimes, when trying to work out what my latest mortgage update means. And so very old, when I realise that I don't actually know if I'm a Belieber.
But I'm happy. I'm 28. And I've not at all lived the life I expected to. But I've certainly become very good at surprising myself. And I'm learning to try and let go, and free-fall through the rest of my life. Because it hasn't disappointed me so far.
I didn't also get to explain how much I love him.
Mark and I have only been together for two years.
And to be honest, if I didn't know me, and I didn't know him and I didn't know us, I'd be a bit 'eyebrows' over the situation.
But he was my genuine friend for a long time.
We met, I felt nothing. I was in a relationship. He was a bit of a loveable rogue to me. And I imagine I was his weird best girl-mum-mate.
We went to the same university. Never met. We worked in the same building. Never met. We went to the same places. Never met. We have the same surname. We lived on roads with the same name. And it was just funny.
At the time, we found it hilarious.
And it's only now I wonder if he ever did walk past me after a lecture. Or if I banged into him in a busy Preston club. Or if we just spent years of being invisible to each other until the right time.
It didn't take me long to fall in love with him. First. Naturally. That's always me.
And it didn't take him long to feel the same. Over pizza no less. And completely unexpectedly. It was the best takeaway pizza I've ever eaten. And I'll never forget the fun of falling in love with him.
Watching him fall in love with my son. Reciprocal, lucky love. That was even more amazing to watch.
He moved in after nine months.
We planned for a baby by a year.
We conceived our daughter after 18 months.
And now she's due in two.
The thing is. It's fast, but I feel like life is just too short to take things slow with him. I don't want to waste a second. Neither one of us have ever faltered. Or hesitated. And things have always just felt like they were right.
I don't honestly know if he feels as lucky as me. But I feel like I spend every day living a life that I never thought I'd have. I open my eyes every morning, and I spend a few seconds letting my eyes adjust in the dark so I can study his face. It takes every part of me not to nudge him awake. Because, while he's almost perfect, he's really grumpy in the morning.
He's raising my son. Could I do the same? Could I be that selfless? That loving?
He's giving me a daughter. I can't wait to see him become a father, with no apologies.
He's giving me a chance to fix what I did wrong with Bill.
Which brings me to now.
I've spent so much of the last few months feeling stressed, panicked, pressured and worried about our big deadline.
I wanted to make things perfect.
I've been irrationally terrified that things might end up the same as last time and I'd have to go back to work too soon. I'm nervous of watching my daughter turn eight weeks old, because I know that she'll be so tiny that I'll be all too aware of the baby boy I left with my own mother, to try and earn money to live.
I've been trying to do so much in these past few months.
I wanted things to be perfect. The house must be done. No more decorating. No more worrying about leaks or plumbing.
The money must be saved. Because anyone who honestly thinks that SMP is equal to a wage needs to try and live on it.
No mistakes this time.
And no regret.
And so, after all of the pressure I've been putting on myself, I realise that, while I've found this hard, and I'm honestly struggling some days, I have it all right here.
I've come very far. I've still away to go.
But once upon a time this was the life I used to dream of. I need to savour every second of it. Stop looking back. Keep moving forward.
And enjoy this gift that is the present.