Location: South London, UK – Life in My Shoes with Sophia Cook discussing Tinder, culture, food, life learnings and having two kids under one.
Interview by Nicole Lutze
Shoutout: We’re proudly partnering with Birkenstock to bring you Life In My Shoes: A series of interviews with parents from all around the world.
I live with my husband Simon (Cookie), our two children and our dog Sausage. My son is 22 months old, and my daughter is 10 months old. They’re born on the exact same day one year apart, so for a brief moment I had two children under one.
Simon and I met on Tinder. I knew within the hour I was gonna marry him. We just really hit it off, and the next day I told him, “I know this is really weird, but I think I’m gonna marry you.” He said he was thinking the same thing. So we got engaged three weeks later in Spain and have now been together four years.
Creating a home
As soon as I fell pregnant with our first child we began looking for a family home. It happened to be my birthday when Cookie announced he‘d found a house he wanted us to view. The pictures he sent me were dreadful, but I agreed to go have a look and that’s when the journey began. I could see it potential under the years of neglect, but knew the house would need a lot of refurbishment. It was beautiful in the sense it had loads of the original features still intact. I have experience in building and refurbishment, however I was pregnant and knew it wasn’t going to be a quick turnaround. Still, we went ahead and moved in three weeks after I’d given birth to our son and gutted the house completely. Then, as we began our renovations, we discovered a television company looking for people to be on their renovation show. We applied and were successful. Shortly after that, I found out I was pregnant again in the middle of renovating the house and filming a TV show.
On becoming a mum
One thing I didn’t expect about motherhood were the feelings; the anxiousness. I’m trying to live more in the moment and concentrate on what’s in front of me, but I do worry. From those first few weeks when they come home – checking they’re still breathing, to being concerned about their first memory.
Despite last year being really tough, I’m thankful 2020 was the year my daughter arrived safely. There was an issue during my second pregnancy and I couldn’t have an internal scan, it led to three stressful weeks where I thought I might have lost my baby. Plastering had begun at our house, and it was too dusty for my son and I, so I was living out of a rucksack in a hotel with a dog and baby, and Cookie went to work everyday then back to the house, stripping woodwork in the evenings and most weekends. Still, it will always be a good story to tell the kids, and it was a massive achievement because we did lots of the renovation work ourselves.
I’m so thankful that Cookie could work from home during the pandemic. Cookie works in central London, which is an hour each way, so being at home during these times meant that travelling time is now spent with his new family.
Both my parents came from Jamaica to the UK in the 60’s and the culture here is very different from what they grew up in. I’m hoping to bring up my children the way my mum bought me up. My mother’s core values are the same as the values I am raising my children with today. Not having my mother with me while I raise my children is hard. But I will be forever grateful for the memories I have and will eventually share with my children.
I am determined to continue the legacy of my parents. Food, family and togetherness is what my mum created in my family home as a child. I recall snippets of what my Mum taught me of our culture. Her cooking played a massive part and she would often teach me how to cook whilst recalling her childhood growing up in Jamaica, but often I was too preoccupied with trying to hang out with my older brothers. My sister on the other hand seems to have absorbed more recipes, stories and history. By the time I realised that this was more than handed down recipes – it was stories of my family heritage and culture, I had lost her. So with the combination of Caribbean cook books and my sister, I repeatedly try the same recipes in an attempt to recreate what I remembered as a child. Now there is greater access resources and information on Black British history, much more than when I was growing up. Currently it remains missing from our school’s education curriculum. So, I continue my learnings whilst I prepare to teach my children not only Black British history, but our ancestral line from my family. But culture is so much more than food and music, it’s understanding your shared values, so I continue to learn in order to educate my own children. London is blessed with Caribbean communities and enriched with Black British culture everywhere and celebrated. I have recently began researching my family tree back in Jamaica to ensure that our children have a complete picture of our family heritage.
Music plays a massive part of my life. When I came to London I got a part time job working in clubs, so much of my 20’s was submerged in dance music, house, techno, UK Garage. Growing up, my dad would play reggae, lovers rock and dub, and my mum listened to 50s rock and roll and 60s Motown. Cookie and I have a similar love for soul and funk. Although, Cookie isn’t a fan of classical or opera which I love! I regularly sing to the children for fun, I don’t know whether my neighbours appreciate my daily renditions of remixed nursery rhymes, but I know that our children really enjoy it.
Cookie does lots of cooking, and being a proud Yorkshireman, he likes nothing more to cook Yorkshire puddings specially to accompany a Sunday roast. I love fish, homemade chips and green vegetables. My comfort food is my childhood favourite, Ackee and saltfish, the national dish of Jamaica and was a favourite of Mum.
2020 was a ridiculously hard year, but I learnt I’m more resilient than I thought. When people work together, change can happen and voices can be heard. Despite being quite isolated, technology has been able to help us have a community, which is great as a new mum during the pandemic. My children have taught me that life is really good. I used to think joy was getting a pay-rise or hitting a target, because I loved work. And I’m proud to be an older mum; I don’t regret having children later in life. I’ve done all the things I wanted to do on my own, and I will possibly do some of those again with children as a family. But I see now it’s the small things that matter.
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Image Credit @homemilk