I Didn’t Graduate Today.

The cohort I began my university degree with graduated today. Four entire years of hard work and study has come to an end and they’re now qualified primary school educators.

Whilst the feeling of admiration for them doesn’t waver, my sense of wonder at how different things would be if I had been graduating with them does linger. It’s not a negative feeling, nor a positive one. In fact, I don’t really quite know how to describe it.

I found university incredibly difficult, in all aspects of the word. Mentally I don’t think I was ready, fresh out of high school I thought I had made the right decision in regards to my career, and as my teachers from high school would put it “the start of the rest of my life”. But the reality was a much more complex one, I was young and uncertain.

I loved the idea of working with children, but when the reality of planning and curriculum came into play it was almost as if my brain fuzzed over. I found practical placement intimidating and draining and my assignments began to make me feel sick to think about, let alone sit down and complete.

My friends were bright and successful students, and I loved watching them succeed, though I had a doubt within myself that grew with every passing week and each grade I’d received back which was never more than “average”.

I knew I needed to take a break. My mental health was suffering at a level I’m not even sure I’m able to describe, but the feeling of not wanting to disappoint my friends and family also grew along side it.

Just before the second semester of my second year began, I found out I was pregnant with Violet. The single piece of information changed my plans… all of them , even though deep down I was unsure of what they were to begin with.

I think part of me knows that I probably wouldn’t have been graduating today even if Violet didn’t come along. I was far too unsure and insecure about where I was headed to be certain that I would graduate. Vi was more or less the crunch point for that decision making process.

But here I am now, two and a half years later. Two beautiful daughters and marrying the man who means the most to me in the entire world within the next year. Still pretty uncertain about what I want to do with my life, but entirely sure of how I want to feel. Happiness is my biggest pursuit.

I certainly lack a degree of any kind. But I’ve honestly done more learning and experienced more personal growth in these past four years than I ever anticipated. I sincerely hope that regardless of my academic status, my friends and family are still proud of me. It’s silly that the matter should bother me at all, and yet it does.

I’m continually asked when I’ll return to finish my degree. And the real answer is, I really don’t know when, or if I will at all. My values and goals have shifted so much in the past couple of years that I hardly recognise myself. I still possess my credits from my course, so if I choose to return I can. But for now it’s certainly not in the forefront of my mind.

At the moment, I really just want to be a great mother. I want to be here for our girls as they hit their milestones and help them grow into smart and independent little people themselves.

The exciting part about what lies beyond motherhood for me is that my future career is still a mystery! While this would worry some people, it excites me. Nothing is set in stone. I LOVE my blog, and writing, and I also have a growing passion for childbirth and postnatal care which I’m also thinking of chasing. There’s a million things I could do, and be really. And it doesn’t HAVE to be just one thing either.

If the world has taught me anything from becoming a mother, it’s that things don’t always go according to plan. In fact, YOU have the power to change your plans, and change them again if you will, and sometimes the plans will change on their own. As long as you are staying true to yourself and what you want most, nothing can deter you from fulfilling your passions. Whether that be a degree, a travelling adventure, parenthood or simply self improvement. You are the captain of your own destiny, even when things go astray.

So far, my destiny has given me two beautiful little girls to love. And although when I began my degree in 2015 I certainly wouldn’t have anticipated to be seeing in 2019 with two children, I’m not at all deterred or intimidated by the fact that I didn’t finish my degree. Great things will always be on the horizon, so long as you look for them.

I can’t begin to describe how proud I am of my friends from University who graduated today. And I can’t wait to see where life takes you in your new careers.

Xo Emily @ Loving Little One

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Bittersweet Babyhood

These are the days, where we long for sleep and the simplest of tasks seem to take us half the week.

Where our patience tests us (our toddlers too), we wonder if we’re ever doing enough, and surely we do?

To keep them busy,

To keep them happy,

To fill their day with fun.

Whilst we feed, and we burp and we rock to sleep the newest little person, so little, like they were once.

With so much to do, and so little time, it’s a constant fear of missing the little things that often fills our minds.

So, I sit, a little longer than I should. One on my knee and one right beside.

I read three or four books more, even when she’s sleepy eyed.

We play outside a little bit passed dinner, and bath time is often a little bit late.

But our bellies are always full and there are always more games to play.

They’re only little for such a short time. And my heart grows a little heavy when I think about how they won’t always be little and by my side.

Though, that’s the bitter sweetness of it all, some day they’ll have their own little hands to hold.

So, for now I treasure every moment, cuddles and tantrums alike. And when I’m stuck on the couch for the fiftieth time with a baby that won’t settle and a toddler with an attitude as large as mine…

I’ll remember that these moments only last a very short while and no matter how big they get, they’ll forever be my babies- just like I am to those parents of mine.

Xo Emily @ LovingLittleOne.com

The Second Time Around – The differences between my first and second pregnancies

Theres nothing quite like waking up to being slapped in the face with a block. Furthermore theres nothing quite like waking up, 7 and a half months pregnant and being slapped in the face with a block. Delightful and refreshing to say the least. It’s mornings like this that make me laugh to think about how drastically different things have been for my second pregnancy. Although physically they’ve been largely similar, the whirlwind that is life with a toddler makes things… interesting.

No Time Alone (ever)

I remember being 32 weeks pregnant with Violet. Though I did work, for the most part my days were spent watching netflix, reading and going for long walks in the evening, on my own. Hours were filled with excitement and anticipation for what was to come, talking to baby and marveling at the beautiful, tiny clothes we had stored away in a little box marked “baby things”. It was like something out of a novel and had a similar feeling to what you’d expect running through a field of daisies to some beautiful music would feel like.

This time around is like marching into battle with an extra 3 kilos strapped to your stomach. You’re aware that there is life growing inside of you (and how beautiful it is) but you have a JOB to do. And that job is wrangling the beast that is a nearly two-year-old (a cute and loveable beast of course).

Less Marvelling at Tiny Clothes

Amoungst our move I put aside the box marked “newborn” because I know I have to go through it and start washing things and finding a place for them shortly. But the truth is, I’ve not peeked inside even once yet. Not because I don’t want to, everyone LOVES looking at tiny baby clothes. I just simply haven’t had the time, and I know if I do peek the mum instinct will kick in and I’ll then feel obligated to wash it all now. And to be honest, I’ve got enough washing to do at this very moment.

Having EVERYTHING we need already

The beauty that has presented itself at present is the utter EASE of having a second child the same gender as the first. I have bought ONE item for her so far, and I bought it because I bought Violet the same thing in a larger size at the same time and went giddy over the thought of having them in matching outfits. But we honestly already have an entire wardrobe of clothes for her from birth to 20 months, and we haven’t needed a single thing more. The stress I had from the first pregnancy of not having enough is completely gone, and I can say that in utter confidence.

Not Rushing, for any reason, like ever

Above all I’ve felt a huge sense of “theres no rush” this entire pregnancy. No rush to buy things and no rush to set things up. So much so that when I went to my last appointment and my midwife told me I should probably start packing my hospital bag I was shocked, I hardly even realised that there was a possibility of us meeting our daughter within just a month or two! With Violet I was constantly counting down the days, this time, every time I hit another week I’m gobsmacked. Time passes so incredibly quickly when you’re busy with a toddler, even if you’re not doing anything in particular at all.

The Conversations

One difference I’ve certainly picked up on is the conversations I have with people about my pregnancy (mainly people I don’t know, as the people I do know are always very supportive). With Violet it was almost constantly about how young I was and how daunting it must be to be having a baby. I’m not sure if its the bags around my eyes, the toddler on my hip or the ring on my finger, but people seem to be a lot more accepting of the fact that I’m pregnant, while at the same time voicing how exhausted they think I’ll be when the baby is born… Babies are exhausting, toddler or not, they’re a lot of work. So I have no doubt that I’ll be tired, but I certainly don’t need reminding of that every time I venture from my home.

A LOT less reading

I wouldn’t say I’m heading into the birth of our second daughter knowing everything, but I am lot more confident this time around. I did so much reading when I was pregnant with Vi, about what to expect and all of the different things that can and do happen during pregnancy, labour and birth. This time, I glance at my pregnancy app once a week, learn a little about whats happening on the inside and carry on. Every baby and every birth is different, so I’m certainly not expecting things to go exactly the same way, but this time I KNOW what labour feels like, I know what to expect if things go according to plan, and I’m prepared for things even if they don’t go according to plan. I’m not such a novice anymore, and I do like fe feeling!

KNOWING

This is a big one, because having already experienced pregnancy and child birth there is one thing I know about that is overwhelmingly exciting, and that is the incredible love that you experience when you hold your baby for the first time. Nothing can compare to that. With Vi, I was excited, but also quietly sh*tting myself… This time its all LOVE, and that is an amazing feeling.

It’s strange because you get so caught up in the world that is parenthood that you often forget that you’re carrying another tiny person inside of you wherever you go. I still have moments where I’m shocked to remember that we’ll have another tiny little person in our arms in such a short time.

 

xo Emily @LovingLittleOne

Making a Change – We’re Moving

In my last couple of blogs I’ve mentioned we’ve been going through some pretty hectic change, and I do feel as though now is the time to share what that change is with you all.

There is no fluffing around it, so I’ll just get straight to the point, we won’t be living in Brisbane very much longer. And by very much longer, I mean we’ll be moved and settled within the next month, so BEFORE this baby is born.

It’s funny because I feel as though everyone thinks we make sudden decisions and never truly make up our mind on things, so this might seem very sudden, or you might be thinking “they probably won’t end up moving”. But the reality is, we’ve been thinking about this for well over a year. The first time we thought about it was literally an entire year ago when our lease was due for renewal, but at the time we had some things happening in our life that seemed to indicate that we weren’t ready for it just yet.

But now we’re here, a whole year later faced with the decision to either make a change or continue on with the way we currently live our lives. Both Dan and I agree that although the way we live our lives now isn’t necessarily bad, it’s not sustainable for our future. It might be sustainable for a 22 and 21 year old without children, but thats not our reality. And we want to be living life in a way that is sending us UPWARD, not flatlining us.

Brisbane is wonderful, really. We’ve been so privileged to be able to call it our home. We’re surrounded by supportive friends and family at almost every corner, and have the convenience of having pretty much anything we could possibly need at our fingertips. But that convenience is also an appeal for thousands of other people, which means the cost of living here is unbelievably high. I’m not about to share figures, because you just don’t do that with the internet, but I am about being honest, and we honestly can’t afford to live well here, thats just the reality of it.

Some people might say, “you’re getting by, why do you have to be able to live well? If you’ve got food on the table then you shouldn’t be worried”. We are able to put food on the table, sure. As well as pay our rent and bills on time, but at the end of the day, after ALL of the expenses, we’re left with absolutely nothing. We’re sitting in a house, paying someone else’s mortgage with almost every cent we earn. Dan is literally busting his butt to get to the end of the year with nothing to show for it. And thats something that we’re just not okay with anymore.

We want to be able to afford to have Dan take a weekend off, and not struggle for money for the next 2 weeks as a result. We want to afford to take our kids on little camping trips, which literally cost next to nothing besides fuel and our time. To be able to afford to have a date night (JUST Dan and I!) more than once every 6 months. There’s honestly so many more things I could list off that we can’t afford right now that we would love. But more than anything, I want Dan to get home from work at the end of the day and not feel like he’s suffocating in a job he doesn’t enjoy to live in a home we can barely afford to be in.

I definitely know I don’t have to explain our reasons, so I suppose this is where a post I’ve written is more for me than anyone else. But we know that this is the right thing for us, as much as we’re going to miss the place we’ve made a home together in, and the people who have so warmly supported us. There is so much more to be felt in life than stress over money and time, and good things can be found anywhere if you look hard enough.

Perhaps the wonderful thing about all of this is the possibilities that lie ahead. Change petrifies the both of us, but also fills us with hope as well as gratitude for what we’ve already been so lucky to have. So while things are still so uncertain in terms of where exactly Dan will be working or the home we’ll bring our latest little addition home to, we do know that the change we’re making BEFORE we know those things will propel us into a brighter future, not only for us but for our children as well who will always be one of our biggest priorities.

Stay tuned for updates! Because there will be MANY.

Xo Emily @ LovingLittleOne.com

“Who the hell am I” : Challenges with self image in Parenthood

From the moment you lay eyes on your first born, you feel a shift. Suddenly, everything you once deemed important becomes a shadow behind this tiny little human that lays quietly (or loudly) in your arms.

The first moments are often peaceful and relieving, and most often remembered through a haze of exhaustion and hormones, no matter how your birth took place. Though the one emotion that will forever be cemented in your brain is the tremendous amount of love you felt, and still do.

Your days become a giant mixing bowl filled to the brim with crazy things you would have never imagined in your life before your baby. Not only learning to navigate feeding, sleep, changing and settling your little one, but doing the same for yourself whilst in full blown recovery from likely one of the biggest physical events your body has ever been through.

There is no use in trying to be polite about it, your body is a mess. Your hormones are through the roof, you bleed for weeks on end, you leak endlessly from your significantly larger (and significantly more painful) chest balloons, all while getting the equivalent of about 3 hrs sleep every 24 hours (depending on circumstance of course). So really, there’s no wonder you may be sitting on the couch at 3am with a newborn attached to your boob thinking, “who the hell am I?”. In fact, your life changes so much after having children its no wonder at all if you’re still sitting on the couch at 3am long after your toddler/teenager has gone to bed thinking “who the hell am I?”.

There is a lot to be said about the way we think about ourselves. Outside influences almost always contribute to this, so it is only natural that your self image changes after becoming a parent, for women and men alike. I know, as a mum, there is almost a constant looming pressure to provide the absolute best experience for your children as you can. From tummy time and sensory play when they’re tiny, to outside park play and time spent with other children in toddlerhood. I find myself almost always analysing our days wondering if we’re doing enough. Even though I can almost guarantee that if you’re there for your kids, they’ll feel like it is enough regardless of what you get up to.

Beyond those moments, there is the downtime, when you’re alone and left with time to think about you. Social media for me, is one of the major things that triggers these moments. It’s more or less allowing myself to think about the fact that I am really not sure of who I am beyond parenthood. I’m not sure of my style, or what people think of me as a person beyond being a mother (not that either of those things should matter). I’m sure this is something other parents experience, and even people who aren’t. The path to understanding yourself is very complex, and often confronting. But it has definitely been something I have been left to contemplate quite often.

The main thing I take away from it, is that its okay not to know these things. And it’s certainly okay for now, to let “parenthood” be my definition, even if its just for a little while. Because the truth is, what defines you is something that is constantly evolving. I mean, many aspects of my life have defined me; my love for art, reading and learning, my determination to improve myself through the sport that I loved (squash), and even the places that sport took me throughout the years, as well as the people I’ve grown up with, and the people I’ve met along the way. Every detail of the events and people in my life have helped create “me”.

And for better part of the last 3 years, parenthood has been a massive part of who I am. My life, twenty-four seven, 365 days of the year. So yes, I am a mum. I’m also a lot of other things, some of those things I understand, and some of them I don’t. But for now, what I most understand is my life with my loving partner and my soon to be two children. And right now, I’m totally okay with that being all I know, because more that will define me is yet to come.

xx Emily @ LovingLittleOne.com

“Mudging” (Mum-judging)

If you’re yet to join the ranks of motherhood “Mudging” would have to be one of the weird made up words you’re yet to involve in your day to day vocabulary. Mainly because I made it up, but thats besides the point.

But the act of “mudging” or “mum-judging” is VERY real, in fact, so real that I’m surprised it hasn’t become a common hashtag or catchphrase yet. The reality of it tends to be quite hidden, that is until the day you, as an unsuspecting first time mum join the “mummy groups” that are the hidden forums of the judgy-mcjudge dark side of the internet.

At first you’re delighted by the empowering and basically utterly adorable posts… “#normalisebreastfeeding” and “#fedisbest”, Babies everywhere, milk teeth on show, wrinkly bums out for the world to see. There are threads on postpartum advice, advice on the best bottles, a plethora of info on where to buy the best baby things at the best prices. I mean, I could go on ALL day about the beautiful thing mothers pages appear to be, but thats obviously not what you clicked on this title for.

It appears the one thing they forget to give you in your “pregnancy and motherhood” gift pack you receive at your first antenatal appointment is the pamphlet that apparently almost every other mother out there has read stating:

“MOTHERHOOD IS A COMPETITION! DON’T TAKE LAST PLACE!” 

But I’ll tell you now, you’ll find that pamphlet plastered passive aggressively in the comments section of almost every single post on your friendly neighbourhood “mum’s page”. You wouldn’t believe it but the drama we thought we all left behind in high school is surprisingly alive and well in the same “empowering” posts we all thought were here to make us feel better about ourselves.

But it doesn’t begin and end with disagreement. There is name-calling, blatant shaming, gang-up type behaviour, unsolicited advice, posting of articles that are completely biased and mostly entirely unreliable used in order to “educate” people on what they should be doing with their OWN children.

Post upon post made in spite of other posts because people are too passive aggressive to address issues on the original conversation. But commenting their opinion on the post would be disregarding the “scroll on” rule that almost every single one of these pages has, so better to create an entire other post on the matter right? So it doesn’t appear as though its a response to something that’s not agreed on, rather a new “topic” to discuss.

Yet no matter how many rules are made, or how many people are “removed” from these groups the issue is still there. The people that are removed simply create their own “NEW GROUP!” that is somehow better and more positive then the last. Spoiler alert, it never is.

The reality of it is, in most situations people just can’t help feeling they know better then someone else. And motherhood just so happens to be one of those things that people who have experience in, think they know ALL about.

There is no doubting women are strong, incredible creatures. Not only for what our bodies are capable of, both in pregnancy and childbirth, but also in our remarkable ability to carry on through the struggles motherhood itself can bring beyond the womb. But with our strength comes a fire we are using against ourselves; fellow mothers who are not only experiencing the same difficulties motherhood presents us with, but women with their own life struggles and hardships.

There is no denying the beauty behind women who support one another, and we all know that these groups are started with that intention. But FAR too many times we let our ego and our hunger for “knowing best” get in the way of our ability to empathise.

So much time is wasted dragging one another across rock hard ground without ever stopping to contemplate the fact that we are all just women who love their children with every ounce of who we are and who we ever will be.

I am sick of reading and hearing about women purposefully hurting other women for the sake of an argument. And if it were as simple as leaving the “mums groups” I don’t think I’d see enough reason to write this post. But in all honesty it is everywhere. It is facebook posts on public profiles, and in the comment sections of public videos, its in the judging remarks of one woman to another on the street (even if one of them never actually hears it), it’s in the looks we give and the sounds we make, the messages we send, the phone calls we make… even in the thoughts we think of ourselves as we stand in front of the mirror questioning our own ability as a mother.

And if that isn’t the saddest part about all of this then I don’t know what is.

Our inability to consider one another with empathy and love is hurting our ability to consider ourselves with empathy and love. And how can any mother can be the best they can for their children without first being the best they can for themselves.

#StopMudging

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xx Emily @ Lovinglittlone.com

Violet Rae 10-11 months

I feel like I say this every single time I write a post but it’s been a while so I’m going to say it again, where has the time gone?! The last few months have been so incredibly busy. As everyone would know we had Violets first Christmas just last month, but something that is new is SHE IS WALKING!

Her first steps happened on the day she turned 10 months, I mean, I’m not going to lie, they were a tad encouraged! However it only took her a month to figure out the whole balance thing and now nothing can stop her! Our house has become a madness of running and squealing and mess and just an entire bundle of fun really. I have to say it, we now officially have a toddler *sobs*.

Watching them learn and grow and take in the world around them is SUCH a gift. And I’m so incredibly thankful for it, but it’s gut wrenching how quickly the time passes without you even realising. I feel like it was just yesterday I was lying on an uncomfortable old hospital bed watching the most beautiful little baby I’d ever met sleeping right next to me for the first time.

I remember going to the shops with my mum without Violet for the first time since having her. I nearly bawled my eyes out. And now she’s an independent little miss, who’s quite happy to go to her grandparents without question for a few hours, or her Aunties or her uncles. Heck she’s even great with strangers if she sees me smile at them first. It’s crazy how much she has grown, and how they evolve from tiny, fragile little people who need you to hold their necks up to rampaging, enthusiastic little characters in only 12 months.

She knows what she wants and she lets you know it too! She’s absolutely food obsessed and is doing such a great job transitioning to her solids through the day, but is always up for a booby and a snuggle at midnight (and you read right, she’s not sleeping through yet, but I really don’t mind).

I really feel like I’m just spewing information at you all, but I have so much to say that I just can’t put into words. The last few months have been such incredible, challenging and honestly life changing months. Not only am I learning the ropes of toddler parenthood but so much is happening in our social lives as well surrounding our friends and family. This month we made the rash decision to send dan to FIJI! with his best friend Jeremy in only three weeks time. And although unfortunate events lead to it all happening, we’ve just taken the baton and started running full speed with it.

Not only are we planning last minute holidays but we are beginning to organise violets FIRST BIRTHDAY. That’s right, she is one in less then a month. Someone hold me upright… among present brainstorming and party planning ideas I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed and just over all losing it a bit. So I also chopped all my hair off 🤣 but don’t worry I’m not regretting it.

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Vi really has just become such a little girl in these last few months. I had felt so determined in the beginning to film everything and write everything down, but the truth is, enjoying the moment is so much more important. I’m still taking videos and photos, and when I get the time, like now, I love sitting down and reflecting on violets first few months. I’ve learnt over time not to promise anything on writing posts and whatnot, but what I do know is I have always enjoyed writing them. And although they may be inconsistent as hell at times, there will always be more to write and share with you all.

I can’t believe we’ve been on this journey for nearly two years. Blogging through my pregnancy, and about Violets birth and now we’re almost at the end of her first year! It never ceases to amaze me just how many of you beautiful people love hearing about our journey. We may have been young when we first found out we were expecting, but we have grown SO much, in ways almost impossible to explain, and parenthood has done nothing but make us stronger and happier people. So thank you all so much, for your constant words of engagement and endless love and patience. It means the world to me, I can’t wait to look back on this all one day and share it with Violet, to show her just how lucky we are to have a life full of so much love.

Xx Emily @ LovingLittleOne.com