I haven’t written a post on here for a while. And admittedly, that’s because life has been so hectic. And I have so many things I want to update on, and I hope someone is out there reading this still – or am I back to writing like no one’s watching again?
Either way. I will write.
A couple of years ago, additionally to writing my socks off and taking too many photographs of my life, I started a YouTube channel. And I think, mainly, I did it to challenge myself. My then relationship was falling apart, and the comfort of speaking to the camera when I was on my own at night made me feel a lot less alone.
I started doing weekend vlogs, which I loved. And I would try and share my memories, wherever we went, and whatever we did, and I still watch them back today, when I’m wistful, or missing my old cat, Gatsby, who was hit by a car last year. I know that sounds daft, but people often ask why I do what I do, and honestly – those memories are priceless, and I know I wouldn’t stick with it if I didn’t have the support from everyone who likes to watch. The same with my blog – the photographs and the notes would stop, if there was nowhere for them to be.
When I started maternity leave earlier this year, I hoped I could have a bit more of a go of doing these two hobbies I loved. Or three, if you consider that photography isn’t just an add-on. I had all these grand plans. I just wanted to enjoy my time with my baby, and have fun with my cameras. Have fun. I just wanted to enjoy it.
When Daisy was born, that all changed. And I actually found YouTube was the place I gravitated towards, because I found it much easier to say what was happening and what I was feeling than write it down. I grew weary at the thought of writing – being eloquent, phrasing things just right, remembering my grammar, which I am ever such a stickler for. And so, I found myself living over there more, when I did feel that I was ready to start sharing what had happened.
Can I be honest? I found it extremely hard trying to explain that this long awaited baby was poorly in hospital. I felt like I had let everyone down. I had so many people wishing us well, and I found it heartbreaking to say that my baby was poorly. I can’t really explain that properly, but I just felt like shutting the world out and stepping away, because it was almost too painful to admit it all aloud.
In time, of course, my poorly girl transformed into the cheekiest little flower I know. I feel she is so true to her name because she is tiny and sweet, but so strong and grows quickly and fiercely, come rain or shine.
But it was only when our Daisy turned around five months old that I felt that my maternity leave started. In the months previously, I had been working as her nurse. Her advocate. Her voice. Her carer. And, lastly, her mother. It is exhausting. I can’t explain what tube feeding is like, or how horrible using a suction machine is, or what the sound of sats monitor is like at 3:00am when your baby’s oxygen levels drop.
And it was at around five months that I realised that I could not go back to work. I could not do this. I couldn’t leave my baby. I left Bill at eight weeks and that was heart-wrenchingly painful. He started school in September, and I am wholeheartedly throwing myself with gusto at every school run, every book bag letter, and every reading book. I want to do this for him.
When I went away a couple of months back, Bill turned to me and said: “Mama? Are you going to work?”
“Kind of,” I said. It was a blog event.
He looked troubled. “Are you going to work every day on the train now?”
“No sweetheart. Just today.”
“Okay Mama. I don’t want you to go back to work every day. I want you to stay here with me and Day-Day.”
And I think, for any parent, that is heartbreaking to hear. We have crafted a society around ourselves that relies on money and work for survival. And I have often said to Mark that it seems so sad when life is really circled around love. And of course, part of that is to love what you do, and everyone loves different things. But I sometimes wonder if we are all working towards a golden ticket that we had in our hands all along? Our family.
When I heard my son’s words, I knew I had two choices. I could go back to work, to a great job, leaving my children with my own mother. Or I could take a leap of faith.
And believe in myself.
In January, I’ll have been writing this blog for six years. And that’s a bloody long time. I started because I was bored and needed an outlet to write. As a young childless girl, who fancied herself the next Carrie Bradshaw. If Carrie Bradshaw was overweight, ate too much mashed potato, couldn’t actually walk that well in heels and lived near Manchester. So not at all, but you know what I mean.
And slowly, over time, I would get invites to review things, or attend events, and only really, when YouTube came along, did I stop and think this year that I could actually afford to stay at home.
Daisy has surgery in the New Year, and I feel like I owe to her to be there. On that day, and every day going forward.
I owe it to Bill to keep my promise. So I can keep supporting him and holding his hand on that walk home from school.
I owe it to Mark, because he never stops encouraging me and all he wants is for me to be happy.
I owe it to my mum so she can keep being my mum and their granny, and not have to be a go-between for everyone.
And I owe it myself.
I love to make content. I love to write. I still desperately want to write a book, but time, courage and confidence are things I am short on right now. But here, I can run away with myself, lost in a land of thoughts and letters and metaphorical sentences that dance at my fingertips.
I can take photographs whenever I’d like to. I used to do this thing when I was younger, where I would try and blink really hard to capture a memory. Sort of like a mental photograph. And I still do that now. I will squeeze my eyes tight and beg myself: “Remember this, remember this.” And hopefully I live life through my eyes, but my lens will back it all up for me, when the memories start to fade in time.
I can create videos of our lives, like the ones I used to replay over and over again as a child. Me and Mummy and Auntie Julie at the park. Me dancing to Say You’ll Be There by the Spice Girls. Should anything every happen to me, my children will always have my voice to listen to, they will hear me saying I love you, singing to them, laughing with my head thrown back, eyes crinkled. They will see me holding them close, kissing their dad, or their little noses.
It all means so much to me. And the fact that I am in a place where I can jump off the edge of this safe little precipice and into a world that I don’t quite know or understand, is exciting and terrifying for me. I could soar, I could waver, I could fall from dizzying heights.
I know that hard work got me to this point. I think there’s always an element of luck, of course I do, I’m lucky to be where I am, right now. But I have spent so many late nights working at this, with no promise of it leading to anything.
I still don’t understand why brands would want to work with me. Why people follow me and like my photographs. Why I have succeeded at all.
I am just a really average mum who puts her life on the internet. And that is it. It really is.
This is not some ‘humble brag’. It’s genuine amazement at the path I have found myself on.
I owe you a thank you for talking to me, supporting me, thumbing up, hearting, commenting, watching, reading, listening.
I don’t really know what the future is going to bring, but I am really hoping you will stick with me.
Thank you for helping me make this work. For me and for my family.