Monday, November 29, 2010


One cat with his arm wrapped around me.

Two children upstairs and asleep; dreams winding their way out like shoots seeking the sun.

Three photographs taken while walking somewhere beautiful:

Four quotes from The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho:

"When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there's no need at all to understand what's happening, because everything happens within you."

"I have inside me the winds, the deserts, the oceans, the stars, and everything created in the universe."

"I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you."

"All things are one."

One girl walking in afternoon rain.

One boy running.

One thought:

For this life I am grateful. For love I am grateful. For everything that connects me to the strange and quivering wonder of the Universe. I am grateful.

One song, which fills me—like so many things!—with Bliss.

"It is the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary."
The Alchemist

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Every morning this week, my son has woken up and gone straight downstairs to his desk to work.

As early as 7, he's sat himself down with his Life of Fred maths book to do a chapter or two. Then it's on to the Targeting English workbook (which he dug out from where I'd buried it on a shelf). He does two pages. Sometimes he does all this before he has even eaten breakfast. (Which boggles my mind)

The motivation?

An online computer game called Dragonfable.

To my son, this game is awesome—it's complicated, creative, and engaging. In it, you go on lots of monster-fighting quests, gather all sorts of cool outfits and different weapons and go up level after level. He loves it, and says it's even a "tiny bit educational." Bonus!

But although my boy loves this game and wants to go on it the moment he wakes, he has decided he can't just go onto the computer and play. He has to earn his computer time. School work has to be done first.

His rules.

I never said he couldn't just go and play the game. I didn't say he had to earn his time on the computer. I haven't set school work, and I never made the computer a prize.

My son's boundaries.

He is my little workhorse. He asks for help when he needs it. Powers through until he is done.

He is the very picture of a self-motivated learner. So very different from the boy he was at school.

He said on Wednesday, "I can't wait 'til tomorrow!"

"Why?" I asked, and he said, "So I can do this again!"

When I said we'd be busy on Thursday, he said, "Then I can't wait 'til Friday!"

And yesterday, on Saturday, there he was at his desk. Doing maths before breakfast. (Which boggled my mind!)

My boy owns his learning; he owns his day.

He is my sweet example of the Freedom Experiment, working just so beautifully.

(And on a side note, my daughter said, "I don't have anything I want to do so badly I'd do maths for it!"

I said, "So, when you play Dragonfable, do you feel like you have to earn it, or do you just want to play?"

With a big, gorgeous grin she said, "I just play, Mum!"


Which means she owns her learning, too.

How I love the Freedom Experiment.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

flight (Part II)


And the other day,

my girl and I talked about maths.

My girl became so afraid, she wept and wept

because she thought I was going to make her do it.

But all we were doing was talking.

I drew a picture of my girl's fear.

I said, I think it looks a bit like this:

because I knew it so, so well.

I held my daughter close and said,

I know how you feel and how hard this must be.

But, if you can,

if you can,

try to not let fear be the boss of you.

You will be amazed at what you can do.

Sometimes and often, my children find a way past their fears.

It is so beautiful when they do.

I try this daily.

Succeeding sometimes…

Keeping close to me

and always,

the promise held in those wings.


My girl,

not to be outdone

drew an amended picture of her fear

So awesome.

She added the rainbow to protect her.

And on the rest of the page
(not in this picture)

wearing capes.

All fearless.

She isn't afraid at all about our trip

or of flying.

Just, in this moment, of maths.

We carry what we carry.

And let go of what we can.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Once upon a time

there was a woman who

once was a child.

Her childhood was very complicated.

(Complicated—the word you use in place of all the others…)

And it helped form the person she became.

She made her way through the world

making mistakes

and falling in love…

looking all around

and learning


She gave birth to children of her own.

These children made her heart sing, and

they made life



beautiful, all at once.

She carried many of her old fears and joys into parenthood.

Some of her fears she could manage,

and others…came swooping in and took her legs out from under her.

One was a fear of flight.

Not of dream flight (where she could soar over tree tops),

Or of the flight of birds,

which she always thought was breathtaking.

But of herself. In flight.

From one physical place to another.

Air beneath and all around and nothing between her and the ground but hope.

This fear laid her bare.

This fear would not leave and she could not seem to let it go.

It was as though all the chaos of childhood

sat inside this one


And the curious thing was, this woman wore wings

on a piece of coloured wool on her wrist.

And her friend said she thought they were angel wings.

And the woman said, "That's interesting! I never saw them that way…"

And then,

quite suddenly and without thinking, she said:

"They are

the idea of Flight."

And in that moment,

as she said those words,

Flight did not terrify her.

It represented

hope, and

possibility, and

trust, and

faith, and


All the things Flight can be.

All the things that come when you let go of fear.

In less than two weeks, I am flying out to an island in the Pacific

to spread the ashes of my father.

A beautiful island

with people I love.

Which makes me scared (very)

and happy (very)

all at once.

It's complicated, isn't it?

I will fly over cloud and over sea

and the birds will follow and they will lead.

All of us


All of us


All of us


Sunday, November 21, 2010

in tears

I have been crying.

A lot.

Like, more than I have in years.

I've been crying at unexpected moments, and expected ones. I have been leaking tears everywhere.

It feels, in a word, amazing.

About ten years ago, as a brand new mother, I found myself falling into a depressive illness so pervasive I actually felt almost nothing. The only emotion I felt consciously was a paralysing anxiety—the kind where you never, ever sleep, because if you do, you might miss the moment you are needed. I slept in half hour bursts for about 2 hours a night.

Somehow, I survived a year like this.

A year into my son's beautiful new life I was stick thin, sleepless, hopeless, and entirely derailed. I couldn't imagine things would ever get better, and I couldn't see a way through. Those days were unbearably dark.

I felt frozen. Trapped. And I almost never cried.

People I love helped me seek help. And three counsellors and two specialist doctors later, I finally agreed to go on medication.

And I thought, How has it come to this? Who am I, and who will I be after I take this small, white pill? How can life ever, ever be different from this inescapable dark?

I began my journey to wellness with those small, white pills. That crazy ragged edge of anxiety was smoothed, just a little, just enough, so that I could sleep.

I slept.

I slept.

I began to see a counsellor regularly. I began to exercise. We moved from the US to Australia to be closer to my family. I began to spend more days wanting to be around than not. I took those small, white pills and began to save my own life.

I took those pills for almost 9 years.

In that time were moments of enormous beauty. In that time were relapses of depression.

I gave birth to my girl. I walked the dog to the beach and watched him lap creek water along the way. I planted a peach tree and watched it grow tall. And once I was completely undone by seeing a friend's cat killed by a car. Life was complicated and life was hard, and glorious, all once.

And through it all, I still almost never cried.

And then, I decided I was ready to stop taking my small, white pills.

I spent a year and a half weaning myself from my already low dose…a long time…spent waiting to be ready…waiting to feel I could go out into the world on my own. Eight months ago, I took my last pill.

And a curious thing began to happen.

I started to cry.

I don't know when I first noticed it; perhaps a song here, or a kind word there, a sappy moment in a dvd, but I realised I was leaking. More and more often. Plus there were those regular hard moments, when I realised I was having a good bawl; tears actually flowing out. Pouring out, coming out in droves.

It felt extraordinary.

Six months ago, someone said things to me that I found hard to hear. I cried and cried the sorrow and anger out. I cried off and on for a week.

A month ago, I cried because a friend gave me a book, a special book she had bought for my girl. I cried at her kitchen table for her simple, kind act.

And just this week, I have cried (sobbed actually), at a concert I went to with my mum. Lost it (lost it!) watching the end of Toy Story 3 with the kids. And on Friday I listened to a lovely woman sing a jazz song she wrote for her son. Cried and cried.

Quietly and with so much gratitude.

Because I feel everything now. I feel depths of joy, depths of sadness. I worry, I laugh. I fret and feel unhinged and I marvel at birds swooping the high hollows of the sky.

I feel it all.

And the gift given to me by those small, white pills, was they helped me to this place. This place of freedom. Of life. Of being.

I cry and my heart creaks.

I cry and I'm alive.

I cry with love. I cry with gratitude.

I cry because life is extraordinary.

Friday, November 19, 2010

me time

I'm up early. I can hear the birds calling from tree to tree: "Are you up? I'm up! I'm totally up! Had my first worm! Howabout you? Nah, I'm waiting for Freda here. She wants the blossoms, so we'll do those in the yard over there. Freda, hey, you awake?"

The kidlets are asleep, and my husband is off practicing trumpet by the beach in our minivan. If he gets up early enough, he watches the sun rise over the ocean. Serious win.

I'm up early for some 'me' time. I love 'me' time. When everything else is quiet, and waiting, and the day hasn't taken off at a sprint. It's the time my thoughts gather. Make more thoughts, then more, all tumbling over themselves to be heard.

It's also the time I prepare for writers workshop. It's our second last meeting of the term today. Wow—how'd that happen?

How'd a year go by, a year that began with me thinking of starting a writers workshop for young people (a lifelong dream of mine), and is ending with me having run a a writers workshop for young people for almost a whole year! A workshop kids actually enjoy, a workshop filled with energy and enthusiasm, creativity and support. It's hard to believe, after all that dreaming, that it could come together so beautifully.

Then again, I think it's actually quite simple: You put a dream out there. You want it enough and believe in it enough and follow the path fearlessly enough, the dream finds you. If the dream is the right dream for you. If the path is the right path.

I think if I said today, "I'd like to be a fighter pilot," and went for it with total determination, I could possibly get pretty close to being a fighter pilot. I mean, I'm a good learner—I'm smart and stuff! And I can be determined when I want to be (like when there's cake somewhere: I will find it, and eat it). But the thing is, I don't like flying in planes. Or fighting. Or heights, much. I think it wouldn't take long for the Universe to know this wasn't the right path for me.

But homeschool. Homeschool. It's like the moment we began, all these beautiful things kept happening. My girl started to smile again and could be her true, safe self. My boy joined us, and found his learning confidence, and seriously took off with his music. I found friends who thought totally outside the box, just like me (and were so very kind). They became part of my community, new and old friends together, all supportive, all discovering.

I found time, somewhere, somehow to start writing again. I said, I'd like to start a writers workshop and lo and behold, a writers workshop was off and running. I began a blog and found people just like me in the blog-o-sphere—kindred spirits. I found my voice and my confidence and shared my heart and it was heard.

I've become a better parent. I listen more to my kids—I get real time to listen. They feel heard and so they express themselves better. We get along just so well.

(And I love that last night, my girl said, "Just for tonight, can I sleep with you?"
I checked with my husband and he said, "Is anything wrong?"
And I said, with a smile, "Nothing. Nothing's wrong. She just would very much like a sleepover."
So she had one, and it wasn't a sign of something Terrible. It was a sign that everything was Right. )

And now, my path brings me to a new adventure. Some school parents have approached me through my husband—parents of his music students—and they have asked me to start a writers workshop for them. Wow. It's only another dream I've had for decades now. To begin to build a community of young writers; to set up writing classes for kids in the area; to actually earn a little bit of money doing something I love. It's kind of lovely.

I'll start next year, and I have so many ideas! So many Big Thoughts, and Little Thoughts; Huge dreams and Small. I'll be running workshops, living and learning with my kids, writing my thoughts (and possibly my book?), walking my dog, loving my family, listening to the birds call to each other through the trees.

And it will be Me time.

All of it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


This is the thing.

I am not addicted to the internet. I am not addicted to my blog. Or to reading the blogs of friends (and people I have come to think of as friends), to reading my emails and keeping up to date with educational ideas, resources and websites, and I'm definitely not addicted to those ridiculous celebrity websites that tell you who Jake Gyllenhaal is dating now.


I just need all these things to breathe. :)

Now that I am back online… (and pause to say: I AM BACK ONLINE! Thank you, oh, thank you, nice guy from Internet Service Provider who talked to me for half an hour while we figured my modem stuff out. Well, he figured it all out while I did as he asked. Did I get any smarter in the process? Yes I did. I learned to keep my ISP username and password handy, like not buried deep in my email inbox when I have no real access to my email inbox. Yes. I feel much smarter now.)

Now that I am back online, I resolve to appreciate that I have this amazing resource, the inter-world, even more than I already did.

(Because it sucked to not be able to check email, write and check blogs, and read up on what's happening all around me.
Specifically, it sucked to be unable to:
• look up Archimedes with my son when he was trying to remember all his inventions and discoveries.
• look up Leonardo da Vinci's life when we'd just gone to see an amazing exhibition of 60 of his machines.
and • look up Cressida Cowell's How to Train Your Dragon website while we are TOTALLY immersed in the books and in making dragons and inventing dragons and drawing dragons and playing dragons.

Well…I guess we can look it all up now! Hooray!)

And I resolve to also look around and smell the roses, grevillias, wattles, and flowering gums, when the computer is off. Because I don't need this internet thing to live—I mean, I survived, after all.

But I love the sense of connection, the access to learning, the ability to share thoughts, ideas, all my wonder at the world, that the internet provides.

And I love how easy it makes it to homeschool. I take my hat off to all those who did it before the internet. You guys are AMAZING.

And I feel lucky that we can all be together here, in this melting cyber-pot, this world in the ether, where I can be friends with a person from Maclean NSW and a person from Alabama and feel as close to both as if they were living next door. I feel so lucky for that.

Ah. I know I wasn't gone long. But I am so glad to be back.

ps If you could all conveniently forget that I wrote I'm addicted (I mean not addicted, cough cough) to celebrity websites, I sure would appreciate that! I could send bribes, if that helps?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


So my modem exploded on Sunday night.

We'd steam cleaned our carpets on Saturday, and had to move all furniture, which included the computer desk, and which included the modem, which meant things got unplugged. Sounds simple enough, right?

Then we went away for the weekend, and when we got back (from an amazing trip with lots to write about), we moved the furniture back in. And I saw all these lovely little cords, and unwound them, and set up the computer again. I thought to myself, I'm going to write all about the things we saw and the things we did, and I'm going to put all these lovely photos up. And I grabbed a nice cord with a nice end bit and plugged it into the modem.

Nothing happened.

And then…

BANG! (Which was super super loud and made me hurl the modem onto the floor. I am not a brave person.)

And then…

SMOKE billowed gently out of the holes of the modem. So sweetly, as though it was just a little campfire, and was waving hello. So nice of it.

Except. I now had a dead modem.

And I still do.

So I borrowed a friend's modem and tried to make it work, but it needs somebody with an actual brain for technology to work it. Medic!

And I've tried to log into my blog with two different iphones. No luck!

And now I'm writing this on my mother's computer, while she waits for me to GET OFF so we can go on our "date." Which will be lovely—I haven't had a date with my mum in a very, very long time.

So I'm going, I'm going already. :)

But I really needed to get onto this blog to say, I'm here! I have things to say! I can't wait to say them! But I'm not going to say them today. Or even tomorrow, unless I manage to figure this all out by then.

I need to go to Modem School. I need me a Teacher! I need to learn me some computer stuff! Where do I enrol????!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

a conversation

I saw a mum yesterday, a parent from my daughter's old school.

She said, "I know you from somewhere!"

Oh, me too! I said. (But I didn't try to remember where, because whenever this happens, I wrack and wrack my brains and nothing comes out. It's exhausting. Me and my pea-sized memory for practical things. But I do know who is dating Justin Timberlake. My memory is very selective. But this is now what is known as a TANGENT and I really should get back to the subject).

Anyway, she figured it out and said, "Happy Hills School?" (not the school's real name, of course)

Ah! I said. That would be from a long time ago! How are you?

We started to chat. Her daughter had been in kindergarten when my daughter began Year 1. We had a mutual acquaintance. We made small talk about how her daughter was doing now, and I asked, So who is her teacher this year?

"She's got Miss Bliff* this year. But next year I'm hoping she'll get Mrs Nibble.* She's a lot more firm than Miss Bliff. I think she's just what Millie* needs. Millie doesn't want her. She said she's scared of her. She likes Miss Bliff because she's fun. But I think with Mrs Nibble she'll finally learn something. Haha!"


Now. Mrs Nibble was my daughter's teacher in Year 1, Term one. In the first couple of weeks of term, Mrs Nibble liked to say, "Here's your work. If you don't finish it in time, you'll have to stay in at recess/lunch."

She also used sharp words and didn't let other kids help my daughter when she was overwhelmed. She got angry with my girl for crying. She also berated her, without any kindness, in front of me. The term my daughter was with her, my girl turned from someone who absolutely loved school into someone who couldn't let me leave her sight.

Sure, I know, you can't blame one person for this. Yes, my daughter is sensitive. She gets anxious, very anxious in certain situations. This teacher and my girl were, perhaps, simply not a good fit. Some kids love her, I have heard. The parent I spoke to does. She is not a bad person. Just a firm, no nonsense teacher. Some people believe this is the best kind of teacher a kid could have.

But it makes me think of an article by Jan Hunt, from The Natural Child Project:

"Einstein wrote, "It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion."

Most parents understand how difficult it is for their children to learn something when they are rushed, threatened, or given failing grades. John Holt warned that "we think badly, and even perceive badly, or not at all, when we are anxious or afraid... when we make children afraid, we stop learning dead in its tracks." "

In the environment of a firm, no nonsense teacher who used words that made my girl anxious and scared, my daughter's desire to learn and love of learning stopped dead. I have never been a fan of this style of teaching (or of detentions or collective punishment), but having read John Holt, and others who advocate teaching with respect, kindness, and reassurance, and having seen how this approach works so beautifully, I now want to YELL Holt's message from the roof tops.

When you make a child afraid! I will yell.

You stop learning! (I'll use a megaphone, I think. Maybe with an amp attached)


In its tracks !!!

And this message will echo against the mountains; it will ride over hills and over land; it will sift in through schoolroom windows; spread into the minds of teachers and students and parents alike. It will be heard.

Oh how I wish it could be.

*none of these names are real, of course. Though they are lovely names, and perhaps they are real for someone else. I sure hope so.

Friday, November 12, 2010

new eyes

I looked around my house the other day and saw clutter. Clutter everywhere, clutter as far as the eye could see. Wow, I thought, my place looks like a bomb hit it. How did I end up living like this?

Then I took a deep breath, and looked again with new eyes. And everything I saw was a sign of learning.

Books on the couch, drawings on the desks, lego on the floor, cardboard constructions on all the surfaces, toys being made, and toy worlds in various states of existence and dismantlement (not a word, but I don't care!). They were all a sign that my kids were busy: creating, thinking, doing, being.

So I decided to look at my house instead as the Artists' Studio. Or perhaps our Lab? Or maybe our Workshop of the Mind. A place where thoughts and ideas brew and spread and get together to make new thoughts and ideas… (and where hardly anything ever gets put away!)

And I felt a whole lot better.

But then (in fact just this moment) I read the blog of my new friend, Jessica.

She is making room in her home, taking the things she doesn't need and finding a place for them where they might be needed (and wanted and loved) more. Goodwill, Freecycle, her church—stuff is leaving her house and bringing with it a whole lot of heart.

I'm sure there are many, many things in our house that could be elsewhere. Not necessarily the clutter (I mean, ahem, valuable stuff), that is currently being used, but the things crammed on shelves, in boxes, in cupboards, all these quiet and unused, waiting things. They could be bringing someone else joy, right this very minute.

So, I might have to look around with new eyes, all over again.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

owning it

Yesterday, my girl decided to finish her owl.

On Monday, I had made a series of felt animals for a little friend of mine who was turning 6. I made a mama owl, three baby owls and a fox. I also wrote a story for her about these little critters (which is kind of becoming my thing—sometimes I write stories for kids on their birthdays. I love to do it, and it brings me and them a whole heap of joy).

My kids loved watching me make these things, write my words, read the story out loud at this sweet girl's birthday party. And while I was making my animals, my girl decided to make herself an owl too.

I showed her the sketch I was using to make my owls, and she consulted an owl I'd already made. She cut out all the parts and pieces she needed. This would be a blue owl, with blue eyes, blue thread and one single brown thing—the beak.

We sewed at different times of the day, with me sewing my owls and fox and my girl sewing on a wing, a button eye, another eye, another wing. I didn't help at all, and we were so content, stitching away companionably like two old biddies in our rocking chairs.

The next day was my little friend's party and we spent the whole day out. But first thing next morning, my girl went to finish her owl.

She hadn't been sewing long when I heard sounds of total frustration. I heard sighs, and "Oh no"s and then some yelling which turned into wails. I was sitting in the next room and I totally wanted to rush over and see what was wrong. I also wanted to fix it, whatever was making her sad.

But I also knew that if I belted on over there, she would think that was how things worked. You get stuck. You wail. You wait for Mum.

That makes sense if you're trying to squeeze through a doggy door, perhaps, and you're not a dog. Or have ended up on the roof, with no ladder…with someone juggling chainsaws nearby…in a thunderstorm. Mum should totally come. Running.

But if you're trying to master something new, something you have chosen to do, then I think it's worth learning a different skill. Wailing randomly and waiting for rescue shouldn't apply here.

I thought, consciously, I'm going to let her figure this one out. Either she'll have a good cry, then try again. Or, she will come, and ask for help. Either way, she will own her choice.

She stormed around the room a bit, yelled a bit more, then came to find me.

"Mum," she said, quietly, "Could you please help me with this?"

Turned out she had a knot, a big one in her blanket stitch. Turned out—and she had more of a cry here—that she always got knots, and she couldn't do blanket stitch, and "You never get knots, Mum, and I get them all the time!"

"Actually," I said (as I tried, and tried to unpick this knot), "actually, I get knots a lot too. I get them, and they're really frustrating. Aren't they?"

She nodded.

"Like, really frustrating. I get knots, and I pick them out, and then I keep going. It's harder when you're feeling impatient. If you're pulling too hard, then it just gets tighter. Doesn't it?"

She nodded again.

"You just have to be patient," I said. As I kept trying to undo this doozy of a knot. This mother of all knots. This nightmare of a knot. This undoable, un-unknottable knot.

"Guess what," I said.

"What," said my girl.

"Sometimes I get knots that I can't undo. Then I have to cut them out, and start all over again."

"No," breathed my girl.

"Yes," I said. "This happens to me all the time!"


So we cut the knot out.

We rethreaded the needle.

And then I proceeded to slowly, painstakingly, step-by-tiny-step, show my girl—who really, really wanted to learn—how to do a blanket stitch.

There were re-dos and moments of frustration and little tips of things I'd learned, while she did every single stitch herself.

There were moments of try this way, isn't this easier, and hey, look at that stitch, that's awesome…until suddenly, almost impossibly simply, my girl was rocking her blanket stitch. She owned that stitch. She had become Queen of the Stitch.

Her smile was so big.

And I thought, I'm teaching you something. I'm sitting here, giving you a lesson. I thought, How does this fit, in the Freedom Experiment?

It fits exactly. Because the Freedom Experiment has never been about leaving my kids alone. It has never been about having them experience all their learning without me helping, or sharing, or learning myself.

Sure, the Freedom Experiment is about independence, and empowerment, and ownership. It is about choosing a path, and finding obstacles, and finding ways around those obstacles.

But finding a way 'round includes asking someone to help, sometimes. Isn't that ownership, in itself? Saying, Hey, I'd like some help. I don't actually have this skill or this knowledge, and I'd like someone to guide me, please.

There's a place for mentors, and teachers, and helpers and guides. Absolutely. And a place for kindness and relieving frustration and reassurance. There's room for showing and teaching—as long, I think, as it's with the intention of creating strength, not powerlessness.

My girl's new skill wasn't just learning to sew a blanket stitch. It was also asking, simply and calmly, for help.

My new skill was waiting to be asked.

(And when my girl came downstairs for her cuddle this morning, she said, "Where's my owl?"

I said, "On your desk."

And she said, "I made him myself. I did the whole thing myself!"

"Yes, sweetheart," I said. "You did.")

Here he is. His name is Hoot'n Toot'n.

Isn't he a handsome fellow?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

here. I. am.

Here I am.

The kids are in bed, tucked in, snuggled and sleeping. I'm listening to music so beautiful my heart creaks. My husband is out walking the dog. The night has come.

This morning I was greeted with cuddles in bed, with presents at the dining table, homemade cards, more cuddles... … Yes, you guessed it. Today marked the anniversary of me being born.

I am so glad I was.

Here I am.

Sitting and crying. Crying (just a little), and overwhelmed (just a lot).

Because I am in awe of the love I have in my life.

Love from others for me. Love from me to others. So much love I don't know how I can possibly carry it all inside me. I feel like soon it will pour out of my skin, in colours you can only find in sunlight and rain.

I said to my daughter just before she fell asleep.

Do you know that I love you so much that when I wake up in the morning, I can't wait to see you? Sometimes I wake up before you, and all I want is for you to wake up, so the day can begin and I can share it with you.

She said just before she fell asleep.

Mum, sometimes I wake up and I can't tell if you're awake because your door is shut. And I want to come in and cuddle you, but I don't want to wake you. I don't want to wake you if you are tired.

(note to self: sleep with door wide open…!)

I said to my son just before he fell asleep.

I love you so much. Thank you for being my boy. I am so so glad I am your mummy. I am so glad you exist.

He said, just before he fell asleep.

I am so so glad you are my mummy. I am so glad I am your boy. You're the best mummy ever.

Every night, I feel their love pulling me, a line tugging gently, like a thread unravelling a little as I walk down the stairs, and they drift to sleep.

When the kids have gone to bed, the night stretches out in front of me, all mine. I can stay up all night if I want and no-one will ask me for anything. I can, if I want, stay up 'til 2am, writing, thinking, dreaming. Sometimes I do, and when I go to bed, I'm utterly, totally, wiped out.

But every morning, every single time I wake up, I feel the same way. I can't wait to see my boy and my girl.

I can't wait to breathe them in.

And in this moment, I feel full to overflowing with gratitude.

Because today I get to mark my existence. I get to say, Here I am.

And I am surrounded by beauty.

I am lucky to have a dog who presses his nose against my hand, and to have mangoes. Lucky to have my health, a roof, a bed, kids who make me do my loud, embarrassing laugh, and a husband who believes I can do no wrong. Lucky to have a lap for a cat and a cat for a lap. Lucky to notice that moment just after the sun has set, when everything, everything all around, is alight. Like the whole world is glowing.

Tonight, that is how I feel. Like my whole world is glowing.

I am filled with light. Lit from within.

And all my colours are pouring out.