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Past, Present and Future

This is in place of today's Learning Journal.

I suppose that before becoming a mother I used to do quite a lot. While I went to university in Nottingham, I also worked two jobs to pay for university... at Habitat (leading UK furniture and housewares designers since 1960) during the day as a part time bedroom department consultant and at a liquor store during the evenings and night. My elusive days or nights off were spent drinking far too much coffee while writing bad poetry, attending poetry readings, going to clubs and parties, taking photographs, exploring abandoned buildings, traveling to wherever, etc etc.

With a small child, you find yourself busier in some respects. In other areas you are forced to slow down.

Of course a part of me misses the things I can't do anymore. It's not like I can drag Mikey around asbestos filled, dirty needle ridden abandoned hospitals and military bases, climb 6ft walls and squeeze through broken windows with him and run from the "residents" of the buildings. It's not like I can scale 5 storey high scaffolding with a toddler strapped to my back. Or run around at night in questionable locations with friends. (Where this film was shot, you should watch it.)

I can't just randomly pick up and go places. It's not like I can take him to parties (at least not the sort I used to attend!) Traveling is a little more difficult. Although before the age of 2 Mikey has already driven from Texas to Chicago (16 hours, 8 months old) been on a 10 hour flight (11 months old) and been on numerous short flights. He loves going on adventures, we just have to tone it down and fit it into his schedule somehow.

I still remember when climbing up the steps to the Cupola di San Pietro within St Peter's Basilica, The Vatican, Rome there was a lady carrying her small child up the stairs. She got to a window near the top and showed her baby the view. She had tears in her eyes and said "I can't believe we made it up here." I didn't think much of it at the time, but it obviously stuck with me. I want to experience amazing things with my family, I don't want to do it all alone anymore. That part of my life is over and done with, I've taken what I can from it and moved on. Of course in hindsight the good things tend to stand out more than the bad. There are plenty of bad things that I can say that I am glad in some way to have experienced, but I absolutely never ever want to go there again. Just because I have no regrets, doesn't mean I want to go back.

I don't think this means that I have to spend my days lamenting the loss of my "youth". It's just a different stage in life, change is a wonderful thing. So what if I've switched parties for cooking dinner and watching cartoons? Or arguing with and removing drunks from the premises (little, quiet ol' me? Hard to believe sometimes) with wrangling a toddler. Or abandoned buildings for the zoo? So what if we spend half of our time dancing to indie music in the house instead of in clubs?

Our life experiences are only what we make of them. We fully intend to make the best of ours now as a family, whatever they may be.

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I am a 24 year old British stay at home mother to a two year old boy. Married to a U.S. soldier and currently living in Germany.

I have seen the Vatican from the very top of St Peter's Basilica, the mud in the World War I trenches outside Ypres. I have walked through Montmartre side streets bustling with people in the evening, gotten lost in the streets of Greenwich Village NYC, run through cornfields on the Welsh border and sat outside with a cup of tea watching fireflies in the fields of the outer Chicago suburbs.

I have held the hands of others through addiction, fear, suicide, despair and come out the other side. I have left everything behind to begin anew.
I have fought mental illness and walked through snow in the mountains of the lake district, England. I have explored the morgue in the bowels of an abandoned hospital on a summer evening, climbed to the top of scaffolding on the outside of a five floor warehouse to look at the city lights of Nottingham at night and I have watched the sun setting on the Texas horizon.

I have held my son's tiny hand through the plastic window on an isolette in the NICU ward. Walked, speaking only in whispers, through the catacombs beneath the ground on the outskirts of Rome and seen the fireworks over Heidelberg castle.