It's OK to miss your old life sometimes.

It might be a taboo topic in the world of motherhood. It might feel like you shouldn't admit to it because it'd make you a bad mum or it'd seem as though you don't love your child unconditionally. But ...guess what, I'm gonna say it. 

Sometimes, I miss my old life. 

And if you're now sat there gobsmacked, wondering what on earth I might mean by that statement, then please, read on before you judge.

Recently, I had a conversation with an old flame. And by 'old flame' I really mean the person I grew up with. The teenage crush who soon became the biggest chapter in my adolescent years. 

I met him when I was just shy of 16 and we spent four long years in and, at times, out of each others lives but he was a big part of my life throughout those years. We fought, and we had some pretty big fall outs but we consistently found a way back to one another despite the childish bickering and the trials we faced whilst trying to figure out how the hell relationships worked at such a young age. We were clueless and we hadn't yet grasped an understanding of commitment and what it meant to be a couple.
But ,no matter what, he was always there throughout those years and we always remained in contact even when we weren't physically with one another.  You know when people say  "every girl will always have that one guy?"  Well, he was mine.

 We used to talk about the future, we spoke about big plans and settling down and I don't think we ever really considered the fact that one day, we might not be a part of each others lives. We were young, naive and, to be honest,  incredibly immature. We didn't live in the real world and our whole relationship was built on spontaneity and fun; not giving two hoots about responsibility or real life problems, all we ever seemed to do was laugh and banter and plan the next fun adventure! We were usually up to no good and we weren't the most respectable of teens but surely that's what those years are for; pushing boundaries, making memories to look back on and laugh/cringe at, right? We just seemed to bounce off one another. We were like Tweedledum and Tweedledee. 

We were one of those annoying couples who hated each other one minute but couldn't be separated the next. He was probably my first real love, and sometimes I wonder if he was the only person I ever really loved unconditionally, or whether 'love' simply changes with age... Because, despite having felt new and different emotions since, I've never felt the way I felt around him, again. Perhaps our youth was what kept us feeling alive and never bored with one another. No matter how much we fought or how many times we vowed it was over between us and that it was "the last time" there was always another time, and another...and another. 

You see, time is something we had. And we had heaps of it. Working basic jobs, we earned the money we needed to survive and the rest we spent as we pleased. We used every waking minute outside of our working hours to enjoy life to the fullest. Mostly drinking cider in the sunshine with our friends and listening to incredible music. And when winter came? Well, when most couples might've enjoyed cosey nights indoors watching TV, we ventured out at 1am to play in the snow. I suppose that says it all- we were still children in many ways. We were young at heart and we were full of life, we never allowed for a dull moment.

For a number of reasons, and mostly down to our own mistakes and I suppose, taking each other for granted, our relationship did end for the very last time. And that time  really was different, because he moved abroad and life took us very different ways. Distance and time had finally divided us.

So, why am I sat here writing about this guy? It's been almost five years since I last saw him and we've shared only a handful of emails in those five years. As it stands now, I'm a mum and he's a dad.We have both moved on with our lives and in some ways, we've never been further apart. 

But, here's the thing. When we got talking again recently, I started to recognise my old self.

We chatted about things we used to get up to and the hilarious encounters we had in our time together.We laughed about the silly, childish mistakes we both made back then and we reminisced on all of the brilliant memories we have with one another. We spoke about how, in hindsight, we weren't ready to be adults and have a proper relationship at the time. 

And,when we spoke, for a moment I forgot who I am now. 

I forgot the 'mother' title and I was reconnected with the old me; just Charlotte. Not Etienne's mum. The REAL person behind 'Etienne's mum.' Who I am, the humour I enjoy and the pieces of my past which had slipped my memory. Because, guess what? I'm not just a mum. I'm often referred to as 'Etienne's mum' and I'm sure, those of you who have kids will be able to resonate with this. When you become a parent,you do start to live your life through your child. It's not a bad thing, and I certainly wouldn't have it any other way but, sometimes it's nice to remember who I am beyond my parenting style and my status as a single mother. I'm still me, and I can't imagine that anyone would say they wholeheartedly 100% don't miss a single thing about life before having kids.

I got thinking about all of the friendships that have dwindled away as the years have passed me by. It's inevitable that, as we grow up, we lose touch with people. We meet new people, old friends move away or settle down and we gradually lose touch completely. The majority of my friendship groups changed the minute I became a mum because, it's true that we grow into different types of people with totally different lifestyles and priorities and we find that we no longer have much in common with the people we once spent the majority of our time with. When you become an adult, and certainly when you become a parent, life changes so very much and we, as people, change too.  It's not that we lose who we are, more like we discover a new version of ourselves and sometimes the people from our past don't gel with the people we become post-baby. It's not like how it was all those years ago when we could pretty much get along with anyone over an alcoholic beverage and some decent music. I don't think they're lying to us when they say "those are the best years of your life." 

I'll admit that before having spoken to him, I had sort of forgotten a lot of my old identity. So much of my past has been wiped from my memory and in some ways, it's a good thing and it's completely natural but, in other ways, I find it sad. I wish I could've bottled all of those brilliant years up and kept them in my bedside drawer forever. I wish I had a picture for every moment to look back on. But mostly, I wish I'd realised at the time just how much things would change as we all got older and drifted apart. I thought those people would be in my life forever and I never anticipated just how much life would change as we left our adolescent years and became real grown ups!

So, I don't know about you, but I'm very much of the opinion that it's OK to miss who you were before becoming a mother.  It's ok because it doesn't mean you'd change a single thing about becoming a mum or that you don't appreciate the million and one joys your child has brought into your life, but rather- you sometimes miss the young, carefree spirit you once occupied.

 Of course, I wouldn't change Etienne for the absolute world and I would definitely say that since becoming a mum, I'm the most content and settled I've ever been but at times I'm a little nostalgic. And I'm jealous of the old me who had little-to-no responsibility and tonnes of freedom. Because, let's face it- I now have the biggest responsibility I could ever have: raising a miniature human being. And, freedom doesn't come about very often- to be precise: Tuesday and Friday mornings are the only times I get to myself and I'm extremely limited as to how I spend that time. 

Those of you who have only known me since I became a mum, will see the organised, sensible and cautious person that I now am. But, like most of you I'm sure, there was a time when I was none of these things. I was impulsive to the point where, even big decisions, were made purely on three factors: what I wanted, when I wanted it and how I wanted it. And believe me, there was once a time when being awake at 5am meant I'd been up all night socialising with friends and hadn't gone to bed because "sleep was for losers" rather than being awake because my two year old child is demanding cheerios and Cbeebies.

How times change, eh? You don't really see it happening until you're a million miles away from it all and you reflect on what once was. 

 Don't get me wrong, if you offered me my old life on a plate right now, I wouldn't take it.  And I wouldn't change who I am now. I love being a mum and I truly feel that i was always destined to have a child (and ok, I never wished to become a single mum, nor did I see it coming, but...I always knew I wanted to have a child of my own.) My biggest achievement and milestone in my life was becoming Etienne's mum. And it always will be, which is why it's OK to look back on times before he existed, and it's ok to miss them without feeling guilty because, child or no child, we will never get our young years back so of course we will reminisce and of course we will remember those times fondly. I certainly don't regret a thing!

An unexpected email from the man who turned his back on us.

Just for a minute, can you imagine (or even recall) the feeling you get when you receive a message from someone you thought you'd never speak to again? Someone you haven't spoken to in years. It's a shock, isn't it?

What about when it's the person whom you've trained yourself  not to think about. Someone who your heart will never forget for whatever reason it may be. There just are certain people we encounter in life who will never really leave that little place they reserved in our hearts.

Now, imagine that person is the father to your child. But also, the one person whom you are 'forbidden' from contacting.  The father who walked away the minute those two lines showed on the pregnancy test. Suddenly, they've contacted you and well, 'shock' doesn't quite cover it, does it?

The mind is a strange thing. It clings onto memories which we might want to forget. And sometimes, when we try really hard to remind ourselves of things or recall a certain time, we simply can't. It's gone, wiped from our memory, even though we want to remember. The mind decides carefully which parts of our past are to remain in our memories, and which to let go of.

It's madness really that I can remember every single moment I ever spent with Etienne's father. Yet I haven't seen him in approximately three whole years, Not even once.

Ask me to share memories of a recent partner, things I remember about that relationships or even what I got up to yesterday morning and I will struggle to recall it. Ask me about the time when Etienne's father was a part of my life, and I'll be able to describe it in every little minor detail. My mind has clung onto the tiniest, most irrelevant details, down to what he was wearing the night he came to say goodbye.

I have nothing to remind me of him, no messages, no photographs from those times, nothing. Yet, I can remember everything down to the mundane tasks he helped me out with at work, tasks which hold no importance or relevance to my life whatsoever now, yet they are there in my mind vividly because they involved him.

I can still picture certain faces he pulled and the words he sent me in a text message three and a half years ago. I remember conversations we had about Made in Chelsea and my annoyance at him comparing me to Rosie. (If you've ever watched made in Chelsea, you'll have a strong idea of just how offended I was by this. Ha!)

I can still see the white chocolate cookie with my name on it he left above the safe at work for me as a surprise. I can recall exactly how I felt in his presence and I can still find humor in the things we used to laugh about. It's crazy, because I wasn't consciously taking in every little detail about him at the time and, had I not fallen pregnant by him, I probably would've never thought about this man again. He was only in my life for such a short while and in that time, I never imagined how important the part he played in my life was about to become.

He is and always will be the person of most significance to my life. That's not to say he's present or in any way a part of my life nowadays. Of course, in reality, he exists only in my past. But, meeting him changed my life. And I don't mean that in the cheesy, cliched way in which someone might use to describe their affection towards another. I mean, he really did change my life. Had I not met him, I wouldn't be a mother to Etienne. Sure, I might've gone on to meet someone else and yes, I might've had a baby then. Perhaps, even, that person wouldn't have left us. But that child would not be Etienne.

So, I think it's safe to say that I will never forget him, nor will I ever stop wondering about him. But actually, over time I have adjusted.

We, as humans, adapt and we can do so in almost any situation. We seem to have a way of surviving life's curve-balls and I think one of the truest sayings out there has to be "time is a healer." Because it really is.

I suppose the emotional roller-coaster I've been on since finding out I was pregnant has been similar to what I imagine grieving  to be like, in the sense that there is a process to it. There are stages: denial, anger, sadness/depression and acceptance. Over time, I have been through these stages and somewhere along the way, my head and my heart have teamed up and created some sort of comfort bubble. This bubble is not a delusional mindset I exist in to avoid reality, but more, it's a way of getting on with life and it's what shields me from the damage he caused from  having too much of an impact on my future.

 A subconscious bubble, simply to stop him from entering my thoughts every second of every day. Because, believe me, if I allowed him into my mind, I would never think about anything else. And what kind of mother would I be now if all I'd ever done since Etienne was born was mourn and wallow in self-pity over the fact that his father left us both. I mean, of course I've had to block the situation out to an extent.

 In fact, at one point, I managed to erase those thoughts and "what if's" to such an extent that when another person brought him up in conversation, I'd feel angry because they'd reminded me of a situation I was trying to move on from. I have had to let go and I have, along the way, become used to the silence between he and I. A silence, which at one point ( during the anger stage) drove me crazy. I was so mad at him for never responding to my E-mails back then and I was so desperate for him to acknowledge his son, but in time, the silence became normal and it provided me with the emotional space and peace I needed to move on with my life with Etienne.

So, when I rolled over first thing in the morning the other day to check my emails like usual, and found his name there in my inbox, I was in an absolute state of shock. This peaceful bubble had been burst. My "out of sight, out of mind" mantra I had lived by since early 2013, had been disrupted and there he was. The one person that I had accepted I'd never speak to again. In my inbox. Contacting me. I'd stopped bombarding with E-mails a long time ago and now, he was actually contacting me off his own accord. Out of nowhere.

Within a matter of seconds, a thousand thoughts had raced through my mind;

"OMG he's changed his mind. He wants to meet Etienne. He's read my blog. He wants to ask how we are. He has some news. Something's wrong. He's apologising. He's angry at me for writing about him..."

His name, alone, was enough to make my heart race and my palms sweat. Lets face it, he is not just 'anyone'; he is not like an 'ex' or somebody I simply lost touch with when life took us our separate ways. He is the other half of my beautiful boy. And even if he remains absent forever, he is family. By blood. I don't care what anyone says. Some might call him "just a sperm donor", or "a nobody in our lives" and some might even state that he "doesn't deserve to be called a father" and, in some ways they would be right, but he is and always will be the reason I became a mum. He is a father even if he chooses not to be. No amount of distance or time will ever change that fact.

 At a first glance, all I saw were the words "Dear Charlotte, I am writing to let you know..."

It's hard to describe what I was feeling in that moment, but it was a mixture of excitement, dread, anger, nerves and happiness all in one go. The feeling wasn't just in my mind, it literally made it's way through my entire body and I felt it most powerfully in my stomach; nervous butterflies, nausea, worry, relief. Pretty much every contrasting emotion a person could ever feel was rushing through my body at once. I'd already made up a number of different scenarios in my head before I'd even read the first line of his E-mail.

I scrolled through it faster than you could possibly imagine. I read it so quickly that I hadn't actually read it at all. I'd skimmed through it all the way to the bottom in the hope to find the point to his E-mail as quickly as possible, without having to read the sentences in-between. I became deaf to everything else around me, I'm pretty sure Etienne was chatting away to me and I completely ignored him. And there's nothing I hate more than seeing a child try their hardest to communicate with someone only to be ignored. But I was so absorbed by what was on the screen right in front of me. I needed to know why he was contacting me. What did he have to say? Why now? What had lead him to write to me?

I read it once more in order to gain a better understanding of the point he was trying to make and, despite having previously thought up every single scenario in my head and preparing myself for what he might have had to say, his E-mail still managed to shock me. His words were still entirely unexpected and he was, in fact, dropping a whole new bombshell onto the already mind-blowing situation.

I won't divulge what he had to say, since what he shared with me was his own personal information which I am in no position to share with you guys, but, what I will say is that in some ways, his E-mail answered many of the questions I'd previously asked. The fact is, he simply isn't in a position to be a parent. I wonder if, in some ways, he is protecting Etienne by staying away. Maybe he knows that his involvement might've only hindered Etienne's happiness and development. Maybe he saw my independent streak long before I did, and maybe he saw us both thriving as a single parent family.

I could keep guessing and I will probably never know what really goes through his mind. Though, his E-mail confirms the fact that I will  never be able to understand his ways of thinking or his way of dealing with things, nor will I ever be on his wave-length emotionally. What became most apparent from his message was the fact that my hope and dream of him one day reappearing in Etienne's life is in fact nothing but a dream. The chances are now incredibly slim and a whole lot of hope has been lost just from that one, short E-mail. It is confirmation that his mind is made up. It clarifies the fact that he is rebuilding his life far away from us and that he does not intend to turn back around.

I know, I've had almost 3 years to figure out that he wasn't about to change his mind and yes, I was told this from the start.  He consistently informed me that his mind was well made up and that his position remained unchanged, time after time. But, there was always that little part of me secretly thinking "well it's easy to say that now.." I always wondered if he might change his mind as he got older, if he went on to have a family elsewhere, would he then realise just what he'd missed out on with Etienne? Because it's true that you never understand the joy a child can bring into your life until you become a parent. You cannot imagine that love until it is right there in front of you. So, naturally I questioned his certainty. Now, I am 99.9999% sure that we will never see him again. There is not a single shred of hope left and in a way, it helps.

 Maybe it'll stop my mind from wandering, maybe I'll stop hoping for a different outcome now. I might even be able to stop myself from trying to guess what he's thinking and feeling or how he sleeps at night; if he ever thinks of us. Because, with what I've come to learn from his message, the reality is that he carries on with his life completely and utterly disconnected from this situation. Emotionally, he feels nothing towards either of us and I'm finally learning that this is not a reflection of myself or Etienne.

That message, will probably be the last I ever hear from him and, despite the indescribable levels of disappointment and anger I once felt towards him, I wished him well. I told him that I hope he finds happiness and success in whatever he does with his life. And, more importantly, I meant it.

I've spent a long time hating him, I've been through that stage and I've put it behind me because, no matter how hard it was to let go, I realised that in hating him I was only depriving myself of my own peace and happiness. I was hurting myself with all of the anger I felt towards him. And although his recent message had me feeling all of the negative emotions all over again and despite the fact that a lot of the old feelings resurfaced, I was able to remind myself of how far we've come without his presence. I am not one of these single mums who is there to slag my child's father off at every given opportunity or to call him every name under the sun. The situation is what it is and I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and the reason for all of this happening has finally become apparent.


What's in my wardrobe?

I never thought I'd say it would appear that I've conformed somewhat to the "mum uniform" without realizing. Thankfully, I'm not talking about frumpy dresses and "mumsy" blouses. I'm talking about how my every-day dress sense has gradually changed since becoming a mum. But, it's not a bad thing.

There are various reasons why women might dress slightly differently after they become a mother: lack of body confidence, fear of looking "silly", practicality, lack of time...the list goes on but at the very top of my list is comfort.

Back in the day, before having a baby, you'd find numerous pairs of high heeled shoes in my wardrobe alongside my "going out" clothes which mostly consisted of bodycon dresses and short-shorts. I owned clutch bags and tonnes of jewelry. Most of my money would go on clothes and my wardrobe was spilling with items I'd never got the chance to wear due to owning far too much and forgetting about half of the things I'd bought.

Fast forward a couple of years and you'll find something very different. Now, my wardrobe is limited to around 50 variations of breton striped tees, multiple pairs of  jeans and countless pairs of trainers and flipflops. Most days, I'll stick on a pair of dungarees, a stripey tee  and trainers without even having to think about "what I'm wearing today." When I'm feeling summery, you might find me in a maxi dress and sandals. That's about as glamorous as it gets these days. I don't do heels and I definitely don't do short-shorts. Plus, the only bag I ever seem to take out with me is Etienne's giraffe changing bag.....bye bye clutch bags, you impractical, useless things!

Comfort is by far the biggest factor when I'm choosing an outfit, because when you become a mum there are just things you have to think about when it comes to style. Naturally, you'll be doing a LOT of bending over (picking your wobbly, clumsy tot up when they fall; scooping your screaming toddler up off the supermarket floor; grabbing the dummy from the pavement for the 50th time in a row- that sort of thing) so, I'd say short dresses and short shorts would probably not be the wisest choice.
I do a lot of walking and a lot of trudging through fields and parks now that I'm a mother (plus chasing my sassy two year old down the street in an attempt to stop him from terrorising the pigeons) so, trainers are my go to for this exact reason.

But it's not to say that mum's can't be fashionable or have their own sense of style, it's just that looking glam every day is pretty much a thing of the past. Don't get me wrong, I still like to make an effort most days and I definitely don't dress like an old lady (at least I hope I don't. If I do, please do speak out now!) but I've definitely become more picky since parenthood. I might see something I love and think "I'll never have anywhere to wear that to" since you'll mostly find me in my PJ's by 8pm so, lovely evening dresses are a thing of the past. I might change my mind at the till because "I can't really pull that off as a mum, can I?" Which, I'll admit, is pretty ridiculous.

But, I actually like it. I'm thankful for the fact that dungarees and Tees seem to be "in" right now because these are the types of things I'm happy and comfortable in.

I thought it was just me, until I began to notice that A LOT of the young mums around my city are also wearing the same things. You only have to visit your local park to find a whole bunch of mums looking like they've been styled by 'Where's Wally?' It appears that stripes teamed with jeans and trainers has become the official "mum uniform" of our generation, that 'causal' is the new 'glamorous' and I'm absolutely cool with that.

Since clothes shopping is something I now do very rarely, I've actually started to shop quality over quantity, meaning I own a lot more quality items than I used to, and they're lasting me much longer plus surviving the constant washing and wear and tear motherhood dotes upon them (ie. crushed biscuit, milk dribble and crayola stains.) Trust me, I try to steer as far away from dressing "mumsy" as possible. Nobody wants to look like a grandma before their time, and motherhood is no exception to that. I'm always on the search for comfortable yet stylish clothing, which sometimes isn't easy to come by.

So, when Lite Apparel contacted me asking if I'd like to sample an item from their brand new, local clothing range, I simply had to say yes!

Upon browsing their online range, obviously I went for the *soft-touch urbanbrushed black tee* which you can find here! I chose this because of the easy to wear style of it; it seemed like the sort of thing I could probably wear with anything and I liked the look of it.

When it arrived, it's safe to say I wasn't disappointed. The T-shirt is made of 100% organic cotton so, there's no denying that it's quality and that it's SO damn comfortable. Not only this, but I've already worn it and washed it a few times and the quality is still of such a high standard; it hasn't turned to cardboard or developed an outbreak of those dreaded "bobbles" like some T-shirts might. Winning!

I think this might just be my new favourite T-shirt. No bullshit. I love the feel of the cotton, straight away you can tell that it's a quality brand, what with the soft, comfortable feel of the material and the clean, simple logo. It's perfect for both chilled days indoors and days out since it looks great with my obligatory jeans and trainers combo. There's nothing to dislike and I'll be sure to be rocking it in my local park soon enough! I wonder if the other mum's will catch on? ;) After all, owning a comfortable T-shirt is an absolute must have!


So, Im officially a fan of Lite Apparel and I have a strong feeling that this brand could become huge. Founded by a group of university friends, Lite is an ethical and sustainable brand who offer high quality products.  Being all about ethical fashion, what better place is there to start out than Brighton? I, for one, am a huge fan of local brands and I love to discover the background of a brand and how it came about. I think these guys are pretty inspirational and their views and knowledge seem to shine through their fantastic products! You can read more about Lite here.

 If you decide to check them out, let me know what you think! I can't imagine you'll be disappointed!

Holidaying alone with kids.

There are two types of people in this world.

Some will see a young, single mother struggling and will insist on helping her to carry the buggy down a flight of stairs.

Others will see a young, single mother struggling and will snap at her for sitting next to them and spoiling their peace when her child is crying and there is nowhere else to sit. 

And that is what leads me to this blog post. It's more of a rant than anything else. But some of you may be able to resonate. As some of you know, we recently came back from holiday (and we are currently feeling the holiday blues more than ever.) I've shared some of the best bits on social media and my iPhone is full to the brim with beautiful holiday pics to look back on over the years. But what about the not-so-pretty bits? I'll give you an insight.....

Travelling alone with a toddler:
  • Is it doable? Yes.
  • Is it stress inducing? Yes.
  • Does it take much preparation? GOD YES.
  • Did I want to run out of the airport and go back home before we'd even reached our departure gate? Yes. 
  • Is it worth it? Most definitely, yes.
 I am yet to "properly" holiday alone with my son. But we've done a fair amount of travelling to see family who live abroad/on the other side of the country and most of that travelling has been just the two of us. So, I'm fairly familiar with the realities of it all and how much preparation (mentally and physically) it takes to pack up and leave home for a break away with a toddler. 

We've endured long car journeys to Cornwall; picture it: me driving, Etienne kicking my chair the whole way and demolishing about 30 packets of crisps in the back of the car, then sprinkling the remaining crumbs all over the recently valeted interior. We've flown a few times before but mostly when he was much younger and far easier to distract with a bottle of milk. It has never been an easy journey, what with carrying luggage and managing a baby and buggy all by myself. But I've never been one to shy away from going out and doing things I want to do so, even as a single mum, I know that if I want a holiday, I'll have to brave it and do it without the help or company of another.  There's always a way, right? Sure it's complicated and there are plenty of obstacles to overcome but we deserve family holidays just as much as "normal" families do. Why should we miss out? 

Hence why this summer I decided we'd come out to France to visit family. It's only a short flight; around an hour and 15 minutes, plus we're fortunate enough to be able to stay at my parent's house over there so not only is it cost effective, it's also a chance to see our family and it doesn't feel quite so daunting to hop on a plane when you know that somebody familiar is waiting for you on the other side.

This year, Etienne is at an age where he appreciates planes and is incredibly excited by them. So, I thought we'd both be in for an easy journey, or at least an enjoyable one!
Of course, Etienne was SO excited when we reached the airport. "Planes mummy! Look, a big one! I want to go on!!!" ....oh. He wanted to get on the plane straight away and in true two year old style, he could not and would not understand that he needed to wait for our plane to reach our designated gate first. Annoyingly, we were at the airport much earlier than we needed to be and our flight was then delayed by about 45 minutes so...within a busy airport, with little to nothing for kids to do (other than eat) he started to become frustrated. 

I'll tell you something, within that airport, there was not one person who smiled at us. It was a rat race in there, everyone pushing, trying to get through security first. People staring, and I mean really staring (disapprovingly) when Etienne grizzled in his buggy upon being stuck in a huge queue at check in. (Not sure what else would be expected of a two year old who just wants to get on that plane and get to France to see his grandparents, of course he didn't want to be stuck among the chaos of the airport....)

For some reason, it felt like nobody in that airport had ever seen a child before. The looks I got when Etienne became fed up and cried and whinged to get out of the buggy (like children do sometimes) were unbelievable. Not one person offered to help. Not one. 

It was bloody obvious that I was on my own with a young child and that I was stressed and fed up and struggling. Had someone simply offered to lend a hand or even smiled reassuringly when I was juggling about 4 bags of luggage and a child who was ready to tip the buggy in his rage, I might not have felt so defeated so soon into our journey. We hadn't even got through security and I already felt like I wanted to leave and go back home. Etienne was kicking his shoes off and throwing things out of the pram whilst I was trying desperately to keep an eye on our bags all over the floor whilst keeping the buggy upright and attempting to calm him down. 

Anyway, we made it through security -just about, after Etienne's beloved Panda was taken and swabbed and tested in case we'd tried to use the black and white furry fella to hide drugs or something, and of course- this did not go down well. Cue sobbing, distraught child and people whizzing around us like flies trying to get through security as quickly as possible. 

Amidst the rush of trying to gather our belongings from the trays, whilst making sure I hadn't forgotten anything and checking a thousand times that I had both passports in my bag, I managed to actually walk off without my shoes. Yes, I'm serious. I got quite far without them before one of the security guards chased after me, mocking me for the fact I'd managed to forget my own shoes. #mumfail

Ahh, the departure lounge. The shops, the restaurants, the bars and the place to get excited about the holiday which is now well within reach! People are ordering alcoholic beverages and really getting the holiday started. Splashing the cash on duty free goodies and probably floating around the place with their one bag of hand luggage and a free hand to shop with. A FREE HAND.

The departure lounge with a toddler? HELL. 
It's like a busy shopping mall, noisy, crowded and far from child-friendly, only its topped off by suitcases attacking your Achilles heel and the average person's walking pace cranked up to around 70mph (and, if you don't keep up with that pace, you're most certainly in for being barged out of the way or losing your place in the never ending queues.)

It was stressful. So stressful, and I'd just about had enough of this place but I was trying my very best using every fraction of my strength to hold it together and "man up" though.. it all came crumbling down fast when I went to sit Etienne down next to an elderly man so that I could let him eat his raisins he'd been screaming for in the hideous queue of people who all seemed to be starting their holiday off with a boots meal deal (and rolling their eyes at the tantrum-fuelled child who appeared to be putting a downer on their pre-holiday vibes.) As I plonked Etienne onto the empty chair, this elderly man grumbled "oh, don't bring him over here" in a seriously disgusted, aggressive tone. In fact, he said it so nastily that I instantly learnt of his hatred towards children and that he'd clearly never had his own children. 

I was tired from carrying luggage and I was burnt out (not to mention the fact that I actually had a viral infection and temperature to go with it- yay for holiday vibes!) so, with this comment, the tears began to flow (after I'd bitten his head off and told him how rude he was, of course.)

I was crying, Etienne was crying, everyone was still rushing past us but now they were staring too and probably wondering why the hell we both looked so sad in our summer hats and sandals. Who could possibly feel down when they're waiting to board a plane to take them on their summer holiday? But I really did feel totally deflated and by this point all I really wanted was the comfort of our home and nobody to look down their nose at my parenting skills based on my sons tantrum in an overwhelming airport. 

Once we boarded the plane, things took a turn for the better and the rest of the journey proceeded smoothly and,more importantly, happily. My organisation paid off and Etienne enjoyed colouring, stickers and story books on the plane whilst shovelling food into his mouth because eating in the sky is soooo much more exciting than eating on the ground when you're 2 years old... Winking face He was chilled out and he loved looking at the clouds from his window. 

We reached our family's home in France and by this point, the tears in the airport were a distant memory. Needless to say, we enjoyed a week of sunshine and relaxation in the beautiful French countryside.

Of course, our holiday was well worth the awful airport experience and I'd do it all over again (although not just yet!) We've come back feeling rested and we've brought home a whole load of happy memories and maybe even some pretty big future plans up our sleeves... :D 

Yes it can be daunting and intimidating to travel alone with kids but it's so worth it. I would hate for my son to grow up without the memories of family holidays and summer breaks away, even if those  holidays are just within our home country. Everyone needs a change of scenery every now and then. Even children! Especially, the grumpy two year old ones! 

*Middle finger to the rude old man!*