A messy handbag = a chaotic mind

Artwork: Charlotte Peach

5 (Small) Pieces of Advice for my Daughter

Dear Rae,

A lot of advice that’s written these days tends to focus on the BIG stuff. Like how to have a healthy body image, be happy, have a good, stable relationship and shape your own vision of success but I often find it’s the smaller stuff that it’s taken me longer to get my head around (and this is often the stuff that no one offers advice on). I know you’re only 3 but I think you might benefit hearing some of this stuff now whilst I still remember,


Here’s the kind of thing I’d have found useful (in my twenties)…

1.There IS a correct way to pull on your tights

When you pull on tights, make sure that you work your hands right into the foot ends first before attempting to pull them up over your legs. Hold them up to the light and make sure that they’re the right way round. There’s nothing more frustrating than going through all the faff of getting them on and then noticing they’re back to front. Putting tights on wet skin is a bummer so try and dry yourself properly first.

2. A messy handbag = a chaotic mind

Try and clear out the crap in your handbag at regular intervals. There is nothing more depressing than reaching into your bag and bringing out a Strepsils cough sweet stuck to a tissue stuck to a lolly stick. Sure okay….during the day treat your bag like a rubbish tip and chuck stuff in there willy nilly but try and make a habit of sorting it out. At the end of each day (if you can) chuck all the crap out. Make sure you have a tissue in there too (so you don’t have to wipe anything on your sleeve or worse still walk about with a runny nose).

3. If you’ve no money in the bank don’t go in a nice shop

This is a simple piece of advice but if you’re anything like me then just steer clear of nice shops as much as possible. In the future you’ll be wearing a virtual reality shop helmet and this advice will be totally redundant. In fact it’ll probably be impossible to avoid shopping as it’ll be projected onto your eyeballs whilst you sleep- a gallery of all your fantasy purchases available at the touch of one sleepy finger. Just in case this doesn’t happen, try and steer clear of nice shops when you’re super skint (it’s torture if you spend and torture if you don’t).

4. A nice smelly thing (gel/body oil/spray) can really work wonders

There are many times when I’ve felt like my life was cascading around my ears/relationship flunking/career in the toilet and actually all I needed was a nice hot bath with a scented oil in it (or a candle with a posh scent). These things don’t make you a frivolous, flipperty-gibbet.

These things make life slightly better when it all gets a bit shit. One thing though…don’t buy them ALL the time or you’ll take them for granted. Do you think the Kardashians look happy with all their scented nik naks? No because they have TOO MUCH of a good thing and can’t smell them  anymore (or maybe they are happy- what do I know?)

5. If in doubt, wash your hair

If you get up in the morning and stare at your hair, wondering whether you can get away with not washing it for another day well…you can’t. If you’re anything like me, your fringe will lie flat against your head and you’ll think people are staring at you and questioning your personal hygiene (they’re not- that’s another big learning – no one actually notices you unless you fall flat on your face).

Nevertheless, just like a tidy handbag and a nice smell, clean hair can make you feel like you’re in control…like everything’s right in your world. I have never regretted washing my hair (though hopefully you haven’t got your Dad’s hair as it’s very bushy and benefits from not washing at all).

One last small thing. If you eat a massive plate of food, you’re going to feel full up. You’ll feel uncomfortable and have to undo your trousers (or lie on the sofa rubbing your tummy and groaning).  I STILL COMPLAIN about how full up I am even today after forty-odd years of eating too much.

There’s a lesson in there; if you do something it’ll have some sort of consequence.  As long as you’re aware of the consequence when you’re doing the thing, you’ll be on the right path. I am old and still regularly forget this. What goes up must come down as they say.

Be happy my love.

Mum xx

Photo: Anniki Sommerville

Written by Anniki Sommerville for her daughter Rae. Anniki is Super Editor at Selfish Mother (where you can also read more of her brilliant work) or follow her on Instagram.


I’m about to become a mummy to someone else soon

Hello sweetheart.

Oh Bill. This is a hard thing to write.

I have wanted to write this for months and months. And I knew I had to wait. Because I knew there would be more and more that I wanted to say, as we got closer and closer to your little sister being born.

I don’t really know where to start. I want to tell you how wonderful you are. That I love you. That you’ll always be my best friend. And that I’ll always be here.

But they just feel like words and phrases that anyone can say. And I want to try my best to explain how I’m feeling. Properly.

I’m about to become a mummy to someone else soon. And I’m really excited to meet your sister. And I know you are too. But I’m also really nervous. I know we’ve tried to talk about how babies are born, and to be fair, you’ve got a decent understanding of it for the little boy that you are. But I just hope I can do it. And I hope we’re all as happy as I’m expecting us to be.

I still remember the day you were born and it was absolutely magical. I remember when I first saw you and I broke down in tears. You were better than anything my imagination could have dreamed up.

I really do think you were meant to be. Despite not expecting to become a mother so soon, you knew I needed to meet you. I feel like you chose me to be your mother. And the second I knew you were inside me, I fell in love. The best surprise I could ever of hoped for.

When you were first placed into my arms I knew I’d do anything for you. I’d stand in the way of anything that would try and hurt you. I was overwhelmed with the responsibility of it all. I worried I wouldn’t be enough. I wanted to be the best mother possible. I felt like the way I saw the world changed that day. 12th June 2012. All I could see was you.

For a long time it felt like me and you against the world. Just the two of us. Even from that first day, when our visitors left, it was just me and you in hospital and I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t stop looking at you.

Our lives have gone through a lot of change together, but you have always been my one constant. I never gave up because of you. I was so determined to make you proud of me. And I know you are. Just like I am of you. You’ve always been my little cheerleader. And I yours. I feel like, despite the way things have been for us, we couldn’t be closer.

Yesterday, I was lay on the sofa resting, trying to read a book, but I was too tired to concentrate. You and Mark had been outside playing football in the garden. And you came in, took off your shoes, and asked me to budge up.

I lay there, dozing, under a blanket with you. You watched telly, and I just listened to the bright sounds coming from whatever programme it was that you were watching. And I smiled. I could hear your breathing. And I could feel you stroking my hair. And I was taken back to your newborn days. I could still hear your breathing, and the sounds from the television, but I was stroking your hair as you lay on my chest.

It’s been a long time since those newborn years. And those cuddles aren’t always as frequent as I’d like. But my goodness. You couldn’t know how much I love you Bill. You just couldn’t. And I know it won’t change.

And I need you to know that it will never, ever change.

As much as I know that I am giving you the best gift of your life in the coming weeks. I feel so very guilty. I can’t explain it to you now. I want to sit down and tell you that things might change. And that it doesn’t change how I feel for you. But how can I do that to you, when you are just months away from being four years-old.

I sat down the other night – it was Friday – and Mark and I had a book each to read to you, before bed. Just like we always do. And I chose Billy and the Baby. A perfectly-written little book, given your name, and the fact that you are having a sister. I’ll keep it for you, if you should ever have children one day. One of the pages had me crying as I read it to you. Where the dad tries to explain to his son that nothing will ever change how loved he is. And I wanted you to listen so badly. And to know I felt the same. And all you did is look up at me, smile and stroke my face. I hope you were listening.

Bill, I want to thank you for making me a mother. For teaching me how powerful the heart is. For getting to feel you kick from within, and experience you getting bigger and stronger with each day. Until I got to hold you and give you all the love I’d saved up over those long weeks of waiting. Thank you for teaching me to be kinder, more patient, more appreciative. Thank you for making me feel like a superhero every day. No one has ever made me feel quite so special as you.

Thank you for accepting the changes in your life with ease. For falling in love with your step-dad. Who loves you so much. And for showing us how kind you are, with your genuine excitement for your new baby sister. You have one of biggest hearts I’ve ever known. You’re not judgemental, unkind, or cruel with your affections. You just accept people. And may you always be shown that love in return.

You will never be less special. Less loved. Or less important. You’re our son and we are so proud of you.

Please accept my apology for the coming weeks. When Mama might be snappy, tired, or less able to show you how much she loves you, though she’ll be desperate to. I know I’m not perfect. And it breaks my heart to think of you feeling any less than loved.

I promise I will do everything I can to make you feel safe, loved and happy.

And I promise, as a big sister, who knows all to well the magic that a sibling can bring, that you will love her more than you thought possible. She will drive you mad. She will steal your toys. She will get you into trouble. She’ll baffle you sometimes. But you will love her so much. And one day, when I’m not here, and I’m long gone, and I exist in old letters like this, or family videos, you will have her, and she will have you.

I love you so much little boy. You have filled my days with joy. And I am so grateful that you chose me to be your mother.

You’ll always be my baby. No matter how big you get. No matter what you do.

I look forward to seeing you become a big brother. And to watching my heart grow, as our family grows. But I am sad to say goodbye to this time we’ve had together. The best years of my life.

I don’t know how old you’ll be when you read this. Maybe you’ll stumble across it as a teenager and flush red at the open love your mother had for you. Or maybe this will all disappear into the past, and I will send you this little letter when you are about to welcome your own children.

I don’t know.

But I do know that, wherever I might be, and wherever you are, you are still the light of my life.

I’m always here kiddo.

I love you so much.