Once upon a time there was an 18-year old-woman who was expecting her first child, she spent her days waiting and reading glossy magazines about perfect pregnancies, blissful births and babies, and day-dreaming about her perfect, normal family-to-be. She imagined sunshine yellow nursery walls, a beautifully expensive cot neatly tucked in the corner, a constant stack of always-sterilised bottles stored away in the kitchen, how beautiful the family photos of her 50th wedding anniversary would look, and also the saintly childminder who would step gallantly in so that she might pursue a career, weekends away, spa days… Then her baby was born, and well, let’s just cut to the present now shall we?!
I’m Amelia Loulli, a divorced single-mother of three, living in the Lake District, hundreds of miles from my original ‘home’ and family in the South of England. My “perfect”, “normal” family-to-be began, and it about broke me open and shattered everything I thought I knew or could imagine about being a mother. Since then, I’ve learned about so many things I’d never heard about before, from attachment parenting and natural birth, to breastfeeding on demand, the family bed, baby-led-weaning, holistic parenting, natural remedies, and home-education.
My eldest daughter is now approaching 14 years old, and along the way I’ve been more amazed, confused, stretched, inspired, defeated, victorious, exhausted and exhilarated than I ever knew possible, and I’m still learning. One thing is for sure, on this mothering journey with my kids, things are always changing, and what I thought I knew last week, needs re-learning the next. Somehow though, amongst the house-moves, the divorce, the business start-up for me, the stint in school for them, the general challenges of single-parenting, working as a piano teacher, actor and writer, studying for a degree and a yoga teacher qualification, whilst home-educating and just generally living, we seem to have fallen (not always so gracefully) into a mostly-happy rhythmic state of mild to minimal chaos, and it’s from that place I’ll be sharing what life as a home-educating mum, living with my three incredible teachers is like.
There never were any sunshine yellow nursery walls (though we do havea yellow kitchen now!), nor a beautifully expensive cot, but there have been thousands of nights spent as a family, sleeping soundly (and not-so-soundly) within the same four walls (indeed often there still are). Whilst I never did learn to crack the mystery of how to have that “normal”, “perfectly” behaved set of children, I do have the most amazing conversations, debates and adventures with my brood (on here I’ll call them Cubs) and they teach me all the time to let go of that pre-conceived idea of what being a family “should” look like… They’re everything the spiritual books and the yoga classes and the philosophical teachings seek to explain, right there for me, every single day- to remind me over and over – Love. What. Is.
My Gurus then are: Cub13, who loves to cook, help out with little ones, and write letters to her friends; Cub11, a bonafide Bibliophile, who has read the Harry Potter series an amount of times which is certainly in double figures, and who, when he isn’t reading, is mostly found scratching around in his colour-coordinated Lego drawers, making some amazing builds; and Cub8, who loves to play the piano, put on shows, make videos, be generally dramatic anyway she can, and to draw and paint.
In fourteen years, there never has been a childminder (or a spa day!), and our story has taken a somewhat wobbly, forked road, but that means I get to learn and train and seek to find my own path right alongside my kids, however messy and brilliant and tiring and noisy that might get. I hope you’ll enjoy hearing about some of it here. 🙂