Before You Were Mine

Before you were mine - children sleeping

Before you were mine, little ones, I painted my nails.

I chose exotic colours – blue chrome and hot pink, sparkles and crackle and base coat and top coats, French polish and high gloss. My hands shone like peacocks, ready to show off to the world. But now my nails are short and unadorned, ragged and bitten at the ends. They do not flash or shimmer; they do not say ‘look at me’.

Before you were mine, my sweet babes, I straightened my hair and despaired when the rain made it curl or the wind made it cling to my lip-gloss. But now my hair is always scrapped back, in a band or bun, seldom thought of but for a cursory brush, only straightened for job interviews, weddings and funerals.

Before you were mine, my loves, I read into the small hours. Books were dear, dear friends and the lives I imagined, the places I saw, tucked up with a book in hand – they permeated the real world and enriched it with wonder. But these days there is no time to read, save for work, or research, or a few lines that make little sense before I fall asleep. My thoughts are filled with shopping lists and bank statements and speech and language reports.

Before you were mine, sweethearts, I was rated as an outstanding teacher. I was dedicated, innovative, imaginative.  But I am not a teacher any more. I let my colleagues down. I let you down. I let my pupils down. I could not continue, knowing that I could not be my best, knowing I was not outstanding any more.

Before you were mine, little girl, little boy, your daddy was my best friend. Friday nights were spent together in smoky pub corners, with Champagne Strawberry Fizzes, bright eyes, warm hands, and gentle, meandering conversations. Each new topic was a treasure trove to explore, as we learned to love one another.

But now we share a house and we share you and we share a mortgage and hours can pass with barely a thought or a word for each other.

The world has changed beyond imagining. There’s no way back to the life before. But, little beans, there is a new life to explore.

My hands are there for your comfort – they cook, they dress, they change nappies and make bottles. They hold you tight and rub your backs when you are sad or poorly. My nails are short because their purpose is to take care of you; the first time I caught delicate, baby soft skin, I cut them and never grew them back.

When the wind blows, when it rains, I do not think of myself. My hair could not be further from my mind. I think of you. I think of keeping you safe and dry. I am less vain, less selfish – because, my babes, you are mine.

There is no time to read for hours and get lost in a world of imagination but there is exquisite joy to be found in watching you grow and learn; the world is still touched with wonder; we see it new, every day, through your eyes.

I am not a teacher. To help so many young people achieve their dreams was a truly exceptional thing; I gauged my worth as a person by how much I helped my pupils, by how much my colleagues admired and respected me. And now I have no pupils, no colleagues. No books to mark or deadlines to make. But I have two small people whose dreams I can help come true.

Your daddy is still my best friend. There are nights, tucked in our own home, with the curtains drawn and you two gently snoring upstairs, when we capture that delight in each other’s company once more. We do not need Champagne and noisy night clubs – just us two – and sharing our delight in watching you become people, sharing our love for you.

I have felt nothing stronger than the absolute necessity that I must protect you. There is no agony more exquisite than the knowledge I would die for you, without a flicker of doubt, without a conscious thought.

In truth, my loves, you are not mine. I am yours – wholly, unequivocally, irrevocably yours. Some parts of me are paused while we raise you; some parts have been replaced by something else. Perhaps, one day, I will paint my nails and straighten my hair, and wear lip gloss and go to night clubs* again. Perhaps not.

But, for now, I would be no one else’s, have no other life, know no other reality but this –

I am yours.


*Definitely never going back to a night club

Linked with Louise at Pink Pear Bear for #bigpinklink

Before You Were Mine- an ode to how parenthood changes us. Once you are a mother or a father, things change beyond imagining...

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16 thoughts on “Before You Were Mine

  1. This is such a beautifully written, and accurately true to life post. I can feel and totally relate your frustrations but also your love for your children and partner really shines through. Love this! #bigpinklink

  2. Oh this is so beautiful. I love the way you have reflected on the way you have changed since becoming a parent and focused on the little things that make parenthood magical. I love your penultimate paragraph and the reminder that our children are not really ours but we are theirs.

  3. this is so beautifully written, it bought tears to my eyes.
    Its full of so much I can relate to.

    I never knew how much love I had in me until my children were born. Nothing else matters, the world seems to fade away and all I see is them.

    My children and there smiles bring me so much happiness and light my world up so much more than it ever had been before. Although not every day is easy, I feel so lucky every day.

    thank you so much for sharing your post.

  4. Pingback: Before You Were Mine –
  5. Beautifully written. So poignant and real. I do not think I can ever go back to a night club either. Life does change so dramatically after having kids but you wouldn’t change it for the world. We are truly theirs. Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink

  6. Oh my goodness this brought a tear to my eye! I’m ashamed to say, I do still worry about my hair… but no where near as much as I used to. Other than that, this definitely struck a chord. Beautifully written Danielle.

  7. What a lovely post to read just as I am going to bed. My new baby snores softly in our room while my bigger boys sleep soundly in theirs. You have summed up totally how I feel about them and my life with my children. Thank you. X

  8. Brought a tear to my eye reading this after just having trimmed my once long nails back down to stubs. I too don’t miss the clubs and instead cherish my new life as a mum.
    Beautifully written ❤

  9. One day you will again paint your nails again and straighten your hair, but you will be a lot older and wiser, then along come grand children, so you cut your nails and your tidy home becomes a messy playground again your glass doors and walls will be covered in sticky finger marks. And you would not swap that for the world either.

  10. This is really outstanding writing and conjures so many beautiful images. It’s amazing the changes and sacrifices we make so utterly willingly for our children. ❤

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