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"You are so brave" has been the common thread amongst the messages I have received in support of our family whilst Madison has been in hospital. I don't feel brave at all to be honest. I just feel like a mama.

If you were in my position, you would be brave too. It's just what you have to do. You have to be brave for your little person. You have to set the tone. I feel as though, as parents, if we make them feel like everything is going to be ok, they will believe everything is going to be ok.

Madi is brave. She is strong, and fierce and the most resilient little person. It blows my mind how one day she is at an all time low and the next she is hopping when I say "what does a bunny do?".

I know I said that as parents we set the tone, but I sometimes feel like this little package of dynamite sets the tone with me too.

We feed off each other in perfect synchronicity. When I am feeling low or weak, Madi shows me how to be strong, then we she needs me to stand up and take charge, I find the courage to do it.

We feed off each other in perfect synchronicity. When I am feeling low or weak, Madi shows me how to be strong, then we she needs me to stand up and take charge, I find the courage to do it.

Children are a miraculous anomaly. Everything starts off so tiny and grows so fast. Like budding flowers they get more and more beautiful every single day. Just when you think you couldn't possibly love them any more than you already do, you find that a whole new wave of love flows through and sweeps you off your feet.

The beauty, I find, in these little beings is their child like faith and unwavering confidence.

They often say it like it is. No filter, no ulterior motive, no knowledge of consequence. If they are happy, you will know about it. If they are upset, you will definitely know about it. Of course this isn't always practical for adults (or children for that matter), but I sometimes wish that we would all take a leaf out of the books of babes.

I love watching Madi and her friends on the beach. They are 100% carefree with their little pot belly's and nappies soaked in salty water. They drop their fruit in the sand then promptly put it into their mouths. Who doesn't love some extra crunch? There is suncream everywhere leaving white streaky marks, and they will wear whatever costume you put them in (but not the hat, they never want the hat).

When the day gets too long and the sun gets too much, they swiftly evolve into tiny little dragons that are quite frankly dangerous. As they breathe their dragon fire on our already boiling hot bodies we wipe them down and whip them away for a well deserved nap.

The image of myself on the beach is quite different.

I usually try on about 3 different costumes before we head off to make sure I choose the one that flatters my postpartum bod best, whilst still considering the need to have as few a tan line as possible.

I put Heliocare, a tinted 50 SPF, on my face to smooth out the aging skin and I pack a hat to further prevent wrinkles. When we arrive at the beach I tend to Madi before applying my sunblock, taking extra care not to miss a spot whilst ensuring I've rubbed it all in.

When Madison decides to transform into said "beach dragon", I then rush to pack away bags of snacks and towels and make my way to the car covered in sand and salt as fast as humanly possible. Car full of sand and body feeling overwhelmed by suncream and salt, I drive to the safety of home and wish that I could feel as confident as everyone else in their cossies.

It sounds exhausting because it is. But for me it is kind of like going for a run, it's hard when you are doing it, but it is so worth it for those endorphins.

Sun, sand and a happy babe gives me a serotonin boost like no other.

I often think I care too much and I wonder if other peoples brains tick the way mine does. Does everyone worry about what they look like in a costume? Does everyone think about tan lines and smooth skin? Does everyone review the family beach photos and decide that the ones with them in it are not good enough to share?

I remind myself that yes, many people do. Lots of people feel uncomfortable in their own skin no matter what they look like in a bikini.

So what's my point? Well it's the summer holidays and the sun is shining (mostly). Let's take some advice from the littles and try to just embrace who we are. I am not going to stop carefully selecting my costume or applying my Heliocare, but what I am going to do is just love the mom I am on the beach.

It's a choice to love yourself. Sometimes it doesn't feel that way. Comparison is constant and it is far easier to question our worth than it is to just embrace it.

My goal this summer is to channel my inner child. Tan lines fade and we get older, and one day we will wish that we had spent less time worrying about our body on the beach and more time just soaking in the moments with the little people that grow up far too fast.

I don't feel brave but I am brave, and so are you. We all have the spark within us that will allow us to choose happiness. I hope your spark catches fire this festive season and shines brightly into the lives of those around you. Being yourself, taking the photos, wearing the bikini and absorbing time with family and friends like a sponge is all that really matters at this time of the year. Well that and an afternoon nap.

You are likely to find that your new found confidence will rub off on those around you. Just like Madison and I feed off each other in difficult times, it is much the same for the good times too. If we are happy and confident and free as a babe on the beach, we will encourage others to feel the same.

There is nothing I want more than for Madi to love herself the way that I love her. The ever-growing, always expanding love that will never cease is all I want her to feel for herself. I've come to realise that it's near to impossible for her to feel that way unless I lead by example and set the tone.

And it is hard. I know I will trip and get caught up in the confines of our worldly mentality, but by goodness I am willing to try.

Mama or no mama, you owe it to yourself to love who you are. To enjoy life's little moments and festive seasons. To have fun on the beach days and feel a freeness in your spirit. There is always going to be some extra crunch, where things don't feel as they should, but it is time for us to embrace it! The fruit might be in the sand my darling, but that doesn't make it any less sweet.

You are beautiful, you are extraordinary, you are brave.

Have a wonderful, safe, exciting, family filled festive season my wonderful Epiphany babes! You are beautiful, you are extraordinary, you are brave.

All my love,

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