Wednesday, 30 June 2010

On The Move


Last week I found myself pushing an empty trolley back and forth; the other day I tried to rock my dinner plate to sleep on my knee and yesterday I swayed my way through an entire conversation despite the fact that John was kicking happily on the floor.

It seems that even when our bodies are apart my soul is still trying to comfort my boy.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Elderflower Cordial





I was so impatient to make elderflower cordial that I almost poisoned myself a month ago by making it with Rowan flowers instead.

But now the elderflower is in full bloom, and I have captured the essence of summer in a glass.

It's comforting to know that I can imbibe hot afternoons, scented hedgerows, long, lazy evenings and the warmth of the summer sun in a few month's time when this hot spell is just a distant memory.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Right Now...


Right now you are:

* exactly three months old

* weighing 19lb 4oz, the average weight of an eight-month old

* still enchanted by a myriad of silly noises (Boing! Weeeeeee! Babababababa! Mooo!)

* breaking off mid-feed to talk to me, or just to check that I'm still there

* sitting happily for hours in your bouncy chair

* finding your bouncy chair being transported to a number of different locations (the beach, the garden, the dining room, other peoples houses)

* desperate to stand at every possible opportunity

* wrapping your fingers round my top and holding on tightly whilst you feed

* dribbling absolutely everywhere!

* fascinated by watching us eat and smiling with every bite

* the master of moving your hands to your mouth and sucking frantically on your fist

* not so good at finding your thumb, though not for want of trying

* a very talkative little mite, especially when standing

* starting to love bath time now that you've learned how to splash

* grabbing anything that comes into contact with your hands, and spending hours exploring the texture of your soggy muslin cloths

* waking twice during the night for feeds but falling straight back to sleep

* able to pull yourself up to standing on your super-strong little legs!

... and of course it goes without saying, you're very, very, very loved!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Honeysuckle


The last time that the honeysuckle scrambled through the hedgerows, turning the evening air syrupy with scent, I walked through these little lanes childless.

I picked a fist-full of the sweet, spiky blooms and wept with helpless frustration.

My heart gaped with longing. The future looked dark and bleak. My mind told me to stay calm but my fears echoed in a deep chasm of the unknown.

This year, I'm walking between the honey-scented hedgerows with my babe asleep in the pram. The future is vast and bright.

I hope I never forget just how lucky I am.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Father's Day


I don't know how the heart's capacity to love can double in an instant, but it's been a real joy to watch yours swell.

Happy first Father's Day James, I don't think anyone could be better suited to fatherhood than you.

Monday, 21 June 2010

A Big Baby


You don't need to tell me that my baby is big, I hear it every day.
You don't need to gasp at his weight, my back already aches from carrying him.
You don't need to remind me that he was born big, I've got the scars to prove it.
You don't need to compare him to your little one, I'm doing it already.
You don't need to chuckle at his chubby arms, I love each and every dimple.
Just tell me that he's perfect, because some truths are so wonderful that I never tire of hearing them.

A Project


Projects are important and this one is making my heart skip with anticipation when I wake and streaking monotonous days with glimmers of satisfaction.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Feeling for Two


When I was pregnant I ate for two, but now that I'm a mother I'm feeling for two instead.

The little unformed person that I carry about with me makes me see the world through brand new eyes, and suddenly everything is awash with brilliance.

Colours are brighter, sounds are sharper, smiles are sweeter and love is deeper.

"Look John," I say, "Can you see the river? Can you see the sun drops that are dancing across its surface like a jar of dropped pennies? Can you smell the cool mud of the riverbed? Can you see the trees waving their fingers at the sun and trailing their toes lazily in the shallows? Can you feel the breeze that's rolling down the mountain? Can you imagine pulling up your trousers and fishing for tiddlers at the shore?"

John sucks his fingers, drools down his T-shirt and burps, and so I see, smell, feel and imagine for him instead.

If I'd never seen a river in my life before I could not find it more beautiful than this and the exuberance I feel is excruciating.

I'd expected my capacity for love to grow with my babe but I'd not expected my capacity for seeing, feeling, smelling and sensing to grow along with him too.

Some days my heart feels as stretched and sore as my belly did when I carried him.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Missing Him


Some days, I spend hours trying to get him to sleep and once he has finally dropped off I feel as though a part of me is absent and I wander aimlessly around the house missing him terribly.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Hello Summer...




Strawberries, sunshine and speckled shade bring joy to even the most difficult of days.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Bite-Sized


Lately, my creative time has been concentrated and my achievements have become bite-sized.

Projects can only be attempted if they can be completed during nap-time and so my days are marked by the completion of simple acts; a pile of ironing, a batch of biscuits, a blog post, whilst the bigger projects (a clean house, a book, a dress) are left abandoned for yet another day.

I know full well that these projects will only ever be completed if I tackle them slowly, one step a a time, but a plate of cookies is so much more satisfying than a single row of stitches and so much more tasty than a couple of sentences of a half-written novel...

Monday, 14 June 2010

A Happy Moment


It gives me great pleasure to think that this might have been one of the happiest moments that this lady has had in the last few months.

Old folks ought to be prescribed baby-cuddles on the NHS.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

June


June has arrived and the hedgerows are frothing in anticipation of a long, hot summer.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Helpless


I know that there will be many times in his life where I am unable to make it right.

I know that there will be days when I can dry his tears but do nothing to take away his pain, and I know that there will be others when I will have to watch silently whilst sadness and suffering consume him.

But listening to him screaming in the back seat of the car, knowing that I'm powerless to help him or even to comfort him with cuddles hurts my heart so badly that I have no idea how I'll cope.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Enthusiasm


Enthusiasm is contagious and gratitude breeds generosity, and my dad is so enthusiastically grateful that it never feels like too much trouble to bake him a gluten-free chocolate fudge cake.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Knotted


Ten weeks on, the birth is still a knot that I endlessly worry and try to unpick.

It's a memory that everyone tells me will fade, but its threads are so tightly bound to my fears, my love, and my battered and broken body, that it still sits like a hard lump at the centre of my brave new life.

However hard I pick at it it's impossible to unwind; pain, panic and powerlessness are tightly intertwined with pride, and deep down at the core is the pleasure that comes from participating in one of life's truly seminal moments.

Some days, the memories that return are gruesomely graphic and I simply want to forget; others, they seem strangely remote and I yearn to recapture the realities of the experience that has left me changed for good.

Over time, I'll probably accept that this is a knot that I'll never be able to unravel, but for now I continue to be amazed and horrified by my capacity for endurance, I continue to nurse my body back into health and I continue to love the brand new baby and the brand new me that have resulted from the experience.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Perfection


Is there any sight in the world more wonderful than this?

Adventuring





On Thursday evening we sat outside the tent, breathing in the smell of citronella candles and distant barbecue, feeling the coolness of sand beneath our toes and watching Chinese lanterns float up into the night sky until they were no longer distinguishable from the early evening stars.

Inside, the baby slept soundly, dreaming of his first glimpse of the ocean, and outside, silence crept over the sand dunes as the last streaks of red disappeared from the sky.

Behind us, the shores of Shell Island rolled into the mountains beyond and before us sand dunes disappeared into the sea, but in this hollow in the dunes, there was only us, our tent and our little family of three.

As James and I cuddled in the dusky darkness outside the tent I felt totally free and grounded, totally responsible and secure, totally happy, totally natural and totally surrounded by love.

If it were left to me, the palaver of packing and the unease of the unknown would probably prevent me from ever going away, and I am forever grateful for a husband who believes in me more than I believe in myself and who drives me to do the things that my heart secretly desires.

John's first camping trip was perfect. There was sun, sand dunes, sea-shells, ice-cream, empty beaches, bustling Barmouth streets, fish and chips, silent stars, salty skin, flip-flops, camp-cooking and soft, warm sand, and although everyone said that John's presence on our adventures would cause untold complications, in actual fact it simply made them complete.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Favourite People


Love, like God, pays no heed to the human constructs of reason and restraint.

This weekend, I spent time with two of the people that I love most in the world; one who I've known almost all my life and one who I've only just had the privilege of meeting.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Home


Home is a special place where secrets slip up and down the stairs and memories meander through the hallways.

It's a space where silence and stillness share quarters with the bustle of everyday life, where time shifts sideways to create an oasis of unreality and the where the past is always present.


Sitting on the kitchen table I see myself in a short skirt and laddered woollen tights, drinking tea and watching my mum fry onions; putting rubbish in the bin I see a shadow of myself as a young girl with tangled hair and sunburned legs sitting on a favourite branch with a packet of marshmallows; climbing into bed I see myself strained and dangerously thin, crying over a lost lover and gazing hopelessly into an unknown future; doing my makeup I see a reflection of myself with ringlets and a sequined veil, shakily applying mascara whilst anxiety and giddiness curdle in the pit of my stomach.

Visiting the ghosts of so many former selves can be nostalgic, comforting and unsettling, and their presence both draws me and drives me from this place that is so familiar that it makes my life seem strange.

But this weekend as the sun shone and the family assembled I was able to pass these shadows peaceably on the stairways and smile as I caught their reflections in the glass, knowing that they are the the specters that have made me the person that I am today, and that this very visit would be creating a host of new memories that could haunt the hallways for years to come.