I’m a couple of months into being a stay at home mum which seems an odd thing to say considering I’ve been doing this for a year already, but that was different, I was on maternity leave, I had a job to return to so drinking coffee and eating cake at any given opportunity especially as soon as Zack took his ‘twenty minutes is all I need in a day nap’ was the guilt free right I had earned, and I drank a lot of coffee. Actually I ate a lot of cake too. Fact. Mostly in those moments if I was solo I found myself contemplating reading the book I’d forgotten to pack or re writing the ‘to-do’ list which often had become longer rather than shorter, and considering whether if I made the phone calls I needed to make just how far into the conversation I’d get before I’d have to apologetically end the call due to a waking boy who through his sobbing would be telling anyone who listened I hadn’t fed him for days (it’s not true just to clarify). I found so often that my thoughts took me to thinking about my mum who died from Breast Cancer in 2008, and as I sit today in yet another coffee shop a month into my new role desperate for the caffeine to kick in so I can brave whatever the rest of the day is going to throw at me, just for a split of a second I feel guilt,
here I am spending money that I’ve not earned, I should have walked home and put the kettle on, but there she is again, mum pops back into my thoughts only this time she comes with a revelation. A revelation that actually she’d have been a fan of these moments, she’d have absolutely given the chance savoured a good cuppa in peace and not thought twice about adding in a scone for good measures and for the record she would more than likely have never forgotten her book. That’s because for a big part of my childhood she too was a stay at home mum and she absolutely did this to the best of her ability, even on the days I’d driven her to walking to the bottom of our garden and screaming behind our playhouse so loudly the neighbours could hear, five minutes later she walked back into our house and plain as day put the tea on the table, bathed me and my sister and read us a story before bed as if nothing unusual had happened. So mum, thank you; thank you for being in my thoughts and reminding me that while I put you on a pedestal because you are gone, that you have earned this through many an arduous day that I can now relate to as a mum myself and that I understand how you had definitely earned your guilt free coffee just as I have.
So here I am with my new label, the stay at home mum label, but I still want more, or is it that I have more to give? I want to remember who I am and how I got here, I want Isabel and Zack to understand that life really is a journey and the old cliché ‘as one door closes another one opens’ needs to be embraced, that you don’t have to stay on the same path when you reach a crossroad and to definitely explore the unknown even if it scares you. So as I sip my coffee (now always guilt free I might add), I think how twelve years ago mum loved reading the emails and journals I sent while backpacking, they were rife with spelling errors because I’d only booked fifteen minutes on a computer in an internet café far too busy to use spell check as I’d be seeking out the next route on our travels at the same time; she didn’t care, she was my biggest fan and always the first to respond. When we reluctantly returned she said to me; ‘you should turn them into a book,’ I gave her a roll of my eyes ‘yes mum, sure mum,’ I mean who other than my mum would give a crap to read about what we were up to on our travels, yet on the night she died, and I have no idea why I even said it, but I made her a promise that one day I would turn them into a book.
It’s ten years this year since I said ‘goodnight’ one last time to my mum, and in that moment if you’d asked me where I saw myself in the next ten years it wouldn’t have been here; happily married (happily cohabiting but married no), two beautiful children (sorry Isabel and Zack you weren’t even a second thought back then), a home owner with many a renovation idea on hold due to balancing work and life (if I was leaving our perfectly located city centre two bed flat close to all the best bars it was to live in another country; actually this did happen), no, what I’d have probably said is that I’d have been off travelling or at least planning our next travel adventure because I was in the moment living life, being happy, fulfilling the last words mum said to me right before her own life was cut short way before she was ready.
My first blog surprised me with its responses, non-more than my Auntie recommending I watched a film ‘Julie Julia’, for anyone reading this who knows me, and if you’ve seen the film, the thought of me blogging about working my way through a French cookbook admittedly would be hilarious but is quite frankly dangerous, no home insurance in the world would cover leaving me alone in a kitchen for any length of time. The fact I once won first prize of a brand new state of the art Morphy Richards Mixer after being tagged by a friend in a competition about baking disasters (I’ll spare you the photo) should tell you all you need to know, but the film did remind me how much I enjoy writing and how by living in the moment I’ve arrived exactly where I am today with not a single regret (clever Auntie). I remember when I became pregnant with Isabel a friend said to me ‘you’ll be grounded now, no more travelling for a while.’ I laughed at him, not a chance I thought, having a baby isn’t going to ground me and as I look back over the five nearly six years I wonder what that means, did I succumb, was he right, I’ve already admitted I lost a little of myself while focussing on being a parent but has it grounded me? I guess this one is open to your own personal interpretations of life but for me the answer is no, sure life feels a little static right now and I’m insanely jealous when I hear of anyone’s amazing travel plans be it here in the UK or Malaysia where my dad is currently Whatsapping me photos from, but each time I hear of somewhere new I make a mental note and add every one of these to the list of destinations I’ll visit one day, and until one day arrives, be it next week, next year, the next ten years, and be it with or without the kids I’ll get there because deep down who I am is a traveller, or at least a wannabe traveller, in actual fact the list of destinations I have visited is embarrassingly low, however of the places I have explored and the experiences I’ve had living amongst different cultures these have hands down been life affirming; life if you want it to be can be so much more than the bricks and mortar we live in and the things we fill it with.
So here I am still sipping my coffee, Zack is still sleeping (messy play has a way of blowing a one years old mind into an exhausted overdrive) and I feel giddy, it comes to me that of all the destinations I haven’t yet made it to, of the ones that I have I often plan to return, but none more so than the one that comes into my thoughts as often as mum is our backpacking year out in Australia, and this Christmas we had the news we needed to throw caution to the wind twelve years on to book flights to finally return. The girl in question who made this happen is the girl who all those years ago told me stop thinking about travelling and to just do it, unable to think of a good enough reason not to I dumped Nathan and planned my route around Australia. Actually the dumping didn’t go so well, partly because I was a wimp and the thought of travelling solo wasn’t as appealing as having someone with me, partly because it pleased my mum to think I wasn’t travelling alone (watching Wolf Creek wasn’t the best film choice a month before I flew, a crazy guy who captures and murders backpackers in Australia; sorry mum), and mostly because I did quite like him, so we made a pact, it would either make or break us, and if it breaks us we’d each head in opposite directions for the rest of our visa’s duration. Wasn’t life simple in your twenties, thankfully we never needed to test that theory out, he’s still the one. Nathan, if you end up being the only one who reads these out of husband obligations; thank you, sorry I can never keep things to a couple of paragraphs and I promise to buy you a Cherry Ripe and a can of Solo as soon as we land in Aus. Anyway back to the girl, she’s getting married, and we wouldn’t miss it for the world. Not that long ago we made the second pact in our relationship and its lucky we did or it could have been an awkward conversation based on our current circumstances, that one or all of us would definitely go should, let’s give her a name she’s earned that much right, Lisa, ever tie the knot. When the news came in I knew in a heartbeat it was all of us going, it’s obvious now, but Australia was the making of our family only we didn’t know it then, I believe mum did, and now it’s time to share this experience with Isabel and Zack, I wonder how much has changed? We have absolutely no idea how we are going to make it happen but through sheer hardship and determination it is happening, so you see even being grounded is only ever temporary until something lifts you, and even when life is static it’s because adventure is just around a corner, you just have to be patient.
It all just feels a bit coincidental, ten years approaching since I said goodbye to mum and a stark reminder of who I was is still who I am the only difference is that I have new responsibilities, I have two children to guide through life, it is my job to show them who their nana was and that although she isn’t here in a physical sense that she is still very much a part of our lives, her legacy lives on through them. How will I do this? I have a plan, I will honour mum by sharing my past travel journals and emails with you discussing along the way any memories, life lessons, affirmations that come to mind, I’ll write them as they were (minus the spelling errors), the greatest reminder that I was once twenty-something. It’s not quite the book I promised you mum, but it’s a step in the right direction, blogging is today what the CD was to your record, it’s down with the kids, who am I kidding, by the time Isabel and Zack read this that written line will probably be one of the most embarrassing yet. But then again I’ve only just begun…
I am a 'wannabe' Nomad who currently lives in Sheffield with my husband and two children. I genuinely love exploring new places but finding time to fit this in is tricky so more often than not I'm found in the closest independent coffee shop because nothing cheers me up better than a decent coffee.