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Forget me not

Warenting can make us feel unremarkable, when in actual fact, we are unforgettable.

Forgotten flowers 

As summer ushers out spring in the UK, the little flowers of ‘forget-me-nots’ that were once abundant, begin to fade and wilt. The bright blue petals ebb away, leaving a sea of untended, untidy stems in their wake. And then we simply yank them out at the root.

We no longer appreciate them. We mistakenly think of the once glorious wildflowers as mere weeds. We choose to forget the forget-me-nots.

… Ok, I’ll keep it real now 😉

Please don’t forget me

A friend of mine who is also on maternity leave, had a catch-up conversation with her new manager recently. She told me that her overriding thought was, “please don’t forget me”.

That is SO relatable. And it’s exactly how change can feel. To somebody leaving work behind for a while for the sake of their children or otherwise, in the professional sense we sometimes feel like forgotten flowers. In my case, mum-mulch.

And it’s not just a warenting thing (our, “please don’t forget that I’m part of this company” moments). Actually, for many of us, it’s a lifelong bother.

When we reluctantly graduate to being ‘proper grown-ups’ as we become parents, we ask our friends, “please don’t forget the old me”. When we move out of town, we plead, “please don’t forget to visit”. When a once beautiful relationship runs its course, we hope, “please don’t forget all the good times”. And as we grow old, we reiterate, “please don’t forget that I was once young”.

“The greatest gift we can give to somebody, is our attention (especially to our kids) to ensure they feel seen. The ability to give and experience love, is our most valuable asset, yet it costs nothing at all”.

Though in my daughter’s case, experiencing ‘Pudding and Praise Day’ (see ‘Gratitude Attitude’) is a breathtakingly close second. A girl’s gotta eat … pudding.

“Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymoooore” (Elsa, 2013)

Whether conscious or subconscious, life is laden with “please don’t forget me” moments. And it doesn’t end there.

I grew up in the 90’s and one of my all-time favourite albums is 2Pac Greatest Hits. On it is a song called “How long will they mourn me?” (not suitable for young ears, folks!). The song title alone, represents a truth. That we hope to be remembered, even when we’re gone. That we’ll leave a lasting legacy … somehow.

Despite banging (loudly!) on the door of 40yrs old, having two young kids and living in an affluent, leafy suburb in the UK, I still love listening to 2Pac. 27 years after his death, I’m pumping out ‘Changes’ and awkwardly rapping my way around the kitchen, about as far from Thug Life as it gets. But hey, ‘I didn’t choose the Surrey life. The Surrey life chose me’ (if you know, you know).

That’s his legacy. Ours may look just a little different from that of a hip hop superstar. Maybe it’ll be our life’s work, the house we grafted to buy, kindness that we paid forward, Grandma’s “secret” recipe … or perhaps our taste in 90’s music.

And for us warents, someday we’ll leave our children here, and they’ll leave theirs. A thought that I can’t bear to imagine (but, I’m pretty sure my eldest is going to rule the world).

So, legacy or dynasty aside, the fact of the matter is, that if ever you’re feeling decidedly unremarkable, in reality you are unforgettable.

Which reminds me, I need to continue my daughters’ hip hop education. Because, if I hear Elsa belting out “Let it go”, one more frickin’ time …

She’s (not) a goner

For anybody not familiar with ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ (hold back the blatant yawns please, I’m going somewhere with this). Maslow was a psychologist who defined that after ‘physiological needs’ (like literally breathing), and ‘safety and security needs’ (like our family and home) the next most important thing to humans; the very next thing we actually NEED, is ‘love and belonging’. After surviving, we are hardwired to crave intimacy and a sense of connection with others. And that is why we’re inherently afraid of being forgotten.

The first time I had to tell an employer that I was pregnant and therefore going on maternity leave, I struggled … big time. I did NOT want to be written-off. Whilst delighted to be successfully baking my bun in the oven, I had sickness and bloat, major fatigue and a list of ailments that make pregnancy such a blast, and my two overriding feelings were of guilt and fear.

After my daughter was born, my manager jokingly confessed that I’d been so dramatic about telling him that I was pregnant (“I don’t want to be treated any differently, but I’m going to need to take some time off. Please don’t forget me, yada yada”) that the poor guy thought I was dying.

The second time wasn’t much better. Feeling like a blithering idiot, I apologised a lot and then cried. Nice one pregnancy hormones!

In both cases, I thought I’d be cast aside like forget-me-nots when the seasons change. Blinkered, I felt that I had something to prove (still do) and because I was more focussed on success than ever before, I worked my damn socks off (in my case, flight-socks thanks to some offensive pregnancy-induced varicose veins). My mind and body were weaker, but my resolve and work ethic were stronger.

Whilst down a ‘social media rabbit hole’ recently, I saw an amusingly accurate meme:

“Dear Hiring Managers,

When you see somebody re-entering the workforce with a career gap due to parenthood, instead of throwing those resumes away, call those people ASAP…

Because you know who gets sh*t done?


Moms get sh*t done.”

Umm, yeah we do. Though clearly, this applies to most parents and not just mums. Better make that, ‘most warents’.

“Becoming a warent is exhausting and a half, but the upshot is that it can make us even more determined to succeed (our own version of success, of course). Not only do we have extra mouths to feed, now we’re role models for impressionable young minds too. Warenting should be listed under ‘incredible skills that nobody gives a sh*t about’ on your CV”.

Guilt and fear

Ultimately, having children is a monumental change in our personal lives. For women especially, it directly impacts our professional lives for a while too. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles. But it’s not forever. And actually, in many ways it betters us.

Initially for me, having children felt like pressing pause on my career. Like I was letting the side down – letting every side down. Not being present at work and generating business income, not exceeding myself professionally and not bringing home the bacon for my family. Oh, the guilt!

Feeling guilty about something that makes you so very happy, is an emotional assault course. But, when you’re down low with your face in the mud, get that chin up, take a deep breath and army crawl your way out of there.

And the fear? You guessed it! Fear of being forgotten. Will my team forget me? Will they think I’m a has-been (which is incidentally, how I’m feeling)? Will I forget how to be professionally successful? What if I forget me?

It’s a legitimate concern. I forget things often (mostly because I’m so extraordinarily tired, right now). For instance, I regularly forget that I’m cooking. I cook at least half the week, following the same boring old recipes, but I still turn food to cinders. I do hope it’s not me who is over-baked?

“But things changed, and that’s the way it is” (2Pac, 1992)

In life, change is inevitable. Sometimes we choose it and other times, it’s thrust upon us. Ultimately, when we change direction to take a new path, we do so in search of happiness. Sometimes we get lost along the way, but happiness of sorts, is almost always the intended destination.

But, as we long for a peaceful walk in the park and romanticise that just maybe, life could be a picnic (she says, rolling out the metaphor blanket), sometimes it rains. We end up dampened by other people’s unhappiness or inconvenience. And that’s how guilt and fear end up in our ‘happy hamper’. The soggy sandwiches that nobody wants.

I believe that guilt and fear are simply a human response to need. That is, our inherent ‘need to be needed’ … and of course, not forgotten.

Hands up, if you need to be needed

Having spent almost 30 years as a foster carer, raising and loving other people’s children (and frankly, being needed), my mum has recently made the brave decision to retire … soon. It’s time to focus on her own health and happiness. But being needed is all she knows. The thought of hanging up her fostering boots makes her feel like she’s letting people down, and she’s afraid that she’s no longer a good person (couldn’t be further from the truth). And there you have it; from making change in search of happiness, comes guilt and fear.

We all go through life trying to make our mark. Hoping to be memorable and useful. Needed by our children, our families, pets, friends, employers, customers. Whoever it may be, being needed gives us purpose. If we’re not needed, then what use are we?

I hold my hands up. Amongst other things, I need my children to need me. Providing for them makes me feel like a good mum. And being one is my #1 priority, hands down.

But holier than thou, I am not. Being the salt of the earth when it comes to warenting, eludes me at times. My children stress me allllll the way out on a semi-regular basis, and I’m quite sure I mutter variations of the word “f*ck” under my breath, several times a day. But f*cking hell, do I LOVE my kids.

My eldest went through an intense ‘daddy phase’ when baby #2 joined our little team, and honestly, it was painful for me. Not because she loves her daddy – as somebody who has always had a somewhat distant relationship from my own father, her relationship with my husband is VERY important to me – but, for two reasons. 1) I missed her, plain and simple. Our bond means the world to me, even when she’s driving me around the proverbial bend, and 2) her ‘anti-mummy’ attitude, made me feel useless.

Faded glory

There’s an old Victorian property nearby, probably 150 years old. No doubt spectacular in its day, it now stands a shadow of its former self. Faded glory, like a spent bouquet. The walls are crumbling, the paint peeling, the wood rotting, the windows cracked and the curtains forever half-drawn. One bay window is, quite unusually, home to a fridge-freezer, surrounded by a dusty hoard of who-knows-what, and an old lamp. The porch door is left ajar, never opening or closing. A dilapidated, derelict house; unloved and forgotten.

Except, it’s not. An elderly man lives there. Alone, I guess. Nobody seems to come or go and the driveway is always empty. And I find myself wondering if he ever feels needed enough to pull open those curtains and let the sunshine kiss his weathered face. Needed enough to crack open the windows and fill his old lungs with new air.

After years of nothingness, I recently noticed visitors, at long last! Cars in the driveway, people bustling around inside and out, and the curtains are finally open. The rooms inside, filled with light and hope.

But, here’s the thing … the elderly man has moved on. The house’s loyal resident has left the building. And I do hope that wherever his destination, in this life or to the next, he felt needed on the journey. That wherever he is now, he didn’t imagine that he was useless or forgotten.


When I was about 8 years old, my Aunty used to play an imagination game with us. She called it ‘opening her psychic window’ and she’d dramatically ‘call up her powers’ to tell us our fortune. We eagerly listened to what jobs we’d have, what our houses would be like and who we’d marry. It was such fun to imagine life as grown-ups.

Being an actual grown-up is a smidgen less playful at times 😉

Children aren’t saddled with a cynical adult mind. They have a beautiful ability to view the future with continuous excitement. And dogs too; their default setting is ‘positively waggy’. As adults, we hesitate, assess risk and when we decide to take a step forwards, we’re often shackled by guilt and fear. We reflect on what we have learnt from the past and deliberately recall the paths we have already walked.

When my kids were born, I decided to write them memoirs. As time goes by, I add new stories, memories and musings (as does their dad, though he’s more of an admin dodger). Authentically complete with scribbled out spelling mistakes and handwriting that gets progressively messier as cramp sets in, I’m writing these memoirs so that if life ever takes them down a bumpy road to an unpleasant place, or if they inexplicably feel forgotten or unloved someday, they’ll have hard evidence to the contrary. They’ll be reminded of their enthusiasm and ability to look forwards with uninterrupted positivity. And they’ll know with absolute certainty, how loved they are. They’ll know that they are UNforgettable.

I fully intend to make a copy for myself too; my own little paper time-machine. When I’m old and (secretly) grey, I want to remember the life I have lived, and the LOVE, in all its glory. Not faded but in full colour. I may forget that I’m cooking dinner sometimes, but I’ll be damned if I’m forgetting this.

I’ll be back

When ranking my own “please don’t forget me” moments, leaving work behind to have my babies, is definitely up there. Who knew? Though they are a happiness I would search for again and again, until the end of time, it was with guilt and fear that I found myself quietly hoping not to be forgotten. I allowed my invisible insecurities to interrupt visible, tangible positivity; my growing family.

So, when you can’t see the wonderful wood for the trees, take your kids to the forest. No, don’t leave them there! This isn’t a modern-day Hansel and Gretel. Search for wildflowers with them. Watch how they light up when they find them growing. Or, take a dog; there are fewer things more cockle-warming than a wagging tail.

And then, just like Elsa, “let it go”.

We all have unique storms to weather, but when we feel like we could fade into nonexistence, we must remember that we will bloom again.

“Because, when a wildflower’s petals look to be faded and wilting, in actual fact, they’re already reseeding themselves. Silently readying themselves for a come-back. Next year, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, they’ll blossom anew”.

So move over Arnie, because in the words of The Germinator, “I’ll be back”.

And in the meantime, forget-me-not.

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