I’m fortunate enough to have two nieces now; my sister’s gorgeous children – Sophie and Poppy. The pair of them bring absolute joy to my family and it’s quite astounding how fast they are growing up into these two little people.
Sophie (very nearly 4) is fiercely independent, clever and funny. Poppy (7 months old) is smiley and cuddly and is currently obsessed with trying new foods and clearing her plate with hungry fingers. They are both beautiful little girls and I love them very much indeed.
I’d love nothing more than a little family of my own one day but not anytime soon. In fact I’ve been adamant for a long time that I’m not even remotely ready for children yet, on account of the rather obvious fact that they’re a massive responsibility and life long commitment. And having seen my sister, raise two children at a young age herself, I’ve watched her own needs and desires take a back seat and to be honest – as selfish as it sounds – I’m just not ready for that at the moment. I know I will be one day, just not now. And I hope that I’m at least half the amazing Mum that she is, when the time comes.
For now, the thought of perfect strangers swarming around my tummy to stroke and prod it whilst asking me how far along I am and whether I know what I’m having or not, makes me want to heave. But one day, when the time is right, when I’ve lived a little more, saved a few pennies and am willing to make a daily sacrifice, how wonderful will it be then, to hold my own little baby in my arms.
Holding Poppy the other day and watching her role and giggle about on the carpet and explore her way through a plate of cucumber and cream cheese filled sandwiches, made me feel the tiniest bit broody. I didn’t want to hand her back to my sister, I wanted to walk about with her tucked in the crook of my arm all evening. She is that squishy and cute.
It’s moments like this that make me think that all the pain and sacrifice must be utterly worth it. But it also makes me ponder the world we live in and what kind of a place Sophie and Poppy are growing up in and just who they’ll grow up to be. Naturally I want to protect my nieces, I want them to grow up to be confident, brave and intelligent girls who know just how special they are and how much they are worth.
So here’s a few things I’d really like them to know as they grow up in this crazy world:
- You are beautiful, no matter what you weigh or what the media implies through photo-shopped images. You are fearfully and wonderfully made and God delights in you. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.
- You have a voice and a brain, use them. Do not be afraid to speak up or ask questions, explore, discover and find out what you believe, what you think. Chew the answers over, digest them.
- Work hard at school and try your best. You are very lucky to have access to an education, however boring it may seem at times.
- Woman are just as powerful as men, it’s amazing what females can do. You are able.
- Dare to dream. You may not achieve everything you ever dream of, unfortunately life doesn’t always work out quite like that. But sometimes dreaming is what gets you through the day. So dream big, fantasize about projects and adventures and see what can happen. Give it a go. Try.
- Smile and try not to worry too much. Life is short. (I’m not the best at following this rule so do as I say not as I do on this one).
- Exams do not define you. If you fail, in anything, and I mean anything, then there’s always another option, another chance or path you can take. All is not lost. Don’t lose hope.
- Be kind to people. And to yourself.
- Protect and guard your heart. I never used to understand this until I didn’t protect it a few times. Trust me it hurts when you let the wrong people in, but it’s astounding how quickly you can get over things, move on and heal from heartbreak. Hold on and wait, because the man of your dreams is out there somewhere. He’s worth it, believe me.
- Laughter is the best medicine for your mental health. Believe me, mental health is real, so look after yourself. Surround yourself with good people, friends, family and laugh often.
- And finally be silly. You’ll both always be welcome to stick a hundred clips in my hair, anytime you need.
- I love you. Remember that.