My eldest son is 11 and will be starting secondary school in September.
How did that happen?
Me, I am not so ready but I am so proud that, as with all things in his life, he is taking this totally in his stride.
I sit and watch him and his brother running around on the beach where we live, happy, content, self-assured and I smile.
I smile because I am happy and I smile a smile that is a world away from how I was feeling 11 years ago.
A new mum, a new wife, just moved from the London I loved and the career that defined me.
The baby cried a lot.
I cried a lot.
I had read a lot of books, but I didn’t know what I was doing.
I was far more adept at knocking back cocktails in London bars than making up formula at 3am in the clique of the Home Counties.
Riding on the back of my husband’s Vespa was more natural to me than pushing the designer buggy that was impossible to collapse and meant getting a new car as it was too big for the boot for my Ka.
Mother & Baby had promised me carefree coffee mornings and a relationship that was shiny than the rock on my wedding fingers, and they had lied.
I wasn’t prepared for motherhood, certainly not when my second son was born with a chronic, condition, which is why I was in awe of Serena Williams last week when she announced that she was struggling with being a mum.
You know, a strong woman with a glittering career who was in the public eye, with money and access to staff and yet she didn’t feel good enough.
Wow, what a moment.
She was in a ‘funk’ and didn’t know is she was good enough mum and I think that if we are really honest, most of get that.
Because, we are programmed to be mums it doesn’t meant that it is easy and if we admit that, it’s like we are failing.
But we aren’t.
The most useful thing anyone said to me, was my Health Visitor who I sobbed to because my baby wouldn’t sleep and she told me that just because I had been able to control every part of my life until that point, you can’t control a baby.
Yes, you can control where you work, who you are friends with, which men you date, what you wear, how much you weigh, where you go on holiday, who your PA is but you cannot control a baby.
That was a pivotal moment in parenting for me.
What she said made sense and slowly I stopped trying to control it all.
Yes, I wanted some sleep, some downtime and some peace so I could drink a hot coffee, but I also wanted to be a mum and I wanted to be a good mum.
The thing was I wanted to be a perfect mum.
I wanted to have a baby who slept through the night while I went back to my skinny jeans and London life but that wasn’t the reality.
Fast forward to today and it is 10.42am on a Monday morning.
Both boys have gone back to bed after having made their own breakfast.
One emptied the dishwasher and the other cleared the leaves off the trampoline.
I am sat working and trying to figure out what comes next but the same thing stick in mind, I can’t control everything but I do know that I have two happy kids who know they are loved and supported and for me that beats perfection time and time and time again.
Yes, it would be great to have a few bigger clients, for my next book to be a bestseller and for time to stop still so that they both stay with me forever.
But that I doubt any of that is going to happen.
What can happen is that we are all honest about this parenting gig.
Let’s stop pretending that it is all white baby gros and PDAs because life is so easy and perfect.
It really isn’t.
We have been told we can have it all, and maybe we can, but we can’t have it all, all of the time.
There will be times when we are tired.
When friendships die.
When bullying rears its ugly head.
When teething takes over and the potty training goes out of the window.
The thing is, it isn’t a competition.
It doesn’t matter when they sleep through the night.
When we go back to work has to be right for us, not right for your NCT group of the Mums Net discussion board.
Those soft maternity jeans are actually a gift and washing your hair everyday is totally over rated and unnecessary.
Leave that mum guilt at the door and don’t let it back in again.
Do it your way.
Let Gina Ford go scream it out and if the Baby Whisper needs to sob, so be it.
What matter is that you and yours are happy.
They won’t remember if everything was batch cooked from scratch but they will remember the afternoons spent on the beach, eating fish and chips out of the paper with your phone in your bag and your memories in your heart.
That love and devotion are the big wins when it comes to parenting, not a pay packet or size zero jeans.
Remember what is real and if that funk comes along, sit with it, because it will go away and one day, like me, you will be getting ready for senior school and wishing you could have those sleep deprived nappy filled days back as Fortnite takes over the house and Hype is winning over Nike.
Be the mum they love, not the one your think the world says you have to be.