Friday, 29 October 2010

One Truth

There is no magic on earth like the magic of a bonfire.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

I'm Trying

I'm trying not to think about the power tools that are turning our walls into windows in a frenzy of dust and destruction, or to dwell on the fact that my house is currently more holey than homely.

I'm trying not to remember the echoing emptiness of the rooms that we stripped of furnishings in the scramble to leave the house or to dwell on the forlorn loneliness of bookshelves shrouded in dust-sheets.

I'm trying not to imagine the wind that's whipping through the gaping windows in our living room or the dust that's being driven into drifts against the skirting boards. 

And instead, I'm trying to focus on the joy of clear skies and sunshine, family and freedom, and to savour a few short days of blissful abandon before we're bumped back to reality.

Some of the time I'm managing it.

Monday, 25 October 2010

A New Perspective

I don't remember being bounced upon her knee or cradled within her arms, but watching the delight with which she greets her grandson and the warmth with which she holds him, I'm starting to realise just what a privilege it was to have been held there for a while.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

In the Ring

Round 1: After weakening my spirit with severe sleep deprivation he wakes ready to attack. His nails have sharpened into points overnight and he uses them to scratch deep gouges in my neck, cheeks, chest and arms. I retaliate by pinning his little wriggling body to the changing mat and scrubbing his naked bottom whilst he screams.

Round 2: After a brief lull he rallies with the latest weapon at his disposal: his razor-sharp new teeth. He sinks them deep into my arm and chews manically on my shoulders. I twist and pull his chubby little limbs into clothing and in protest he grabs a handful of hair, yanking it straight from the roots. I'm still reeling with the pain as he follows through with a sturdy fist-full of neck.

Round 3: As I feed him he capitalises on his captive prey by pinching me repeatedly with his free hand. In retaliation I hold him prisoner in my arms whilst finishing the page of my book. In a final showdown we wrestle desperately on the floor amid a sea of colourful toys. He mauls my legs and I restrain him as he heads for the hearth. He attacks my ankles and I watch him crack his head on the floor.

With a head-butt that leaves us both dizzy and dazed we call time out and head to bed, bruised and battered and ready for a re-match tomorrow.

Friday, 22 October 2010

My First

I cast on with the help of my mother, I knitted the button-holes with the help of my mother-in-law and I finished it with the help of YouTube.

Late at night, when the rest of the family were asleep, I sat in the quiet of the living room listening to the satisfying click and slide of my needles and watching my cardigan grow.

And now, just as the weather turns wintry and cruel winds start to strip the trees of their glory, the seams are stitched and  my boy is protected him from the cold.

It's just a simple sweater and it's rather on the large side, but I made it, it's my first, and I'm so very proud of it.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

This Is Me

Over the past ten years I have been labelled a researcher, radio producer, cleaner, trainee journalist, dinner lady, telesales rep, marketing manager, student, admin assistant, freelance journalist, magazine editor, receptionist, data inputter, shop assistant, factory worker, medical receptionist, unpublished author, competition coordinator and waitress.

And whilst all of these labels have said something about the state of my life at various points in time, none have come close defining 'me'.

Right now I am simply a mother.

And despite the fact that I've never spent less time focusing on myself I've never felt better defined.

I know that many women feel that they loose themselves in the shadows when they take on the role of motherhood, but the shadows suit me just fine.

Here I have a purpose. Here I am fulfilled. Here I am comfortable and complete. Here I am finally 'me'.

Monday, 18 October 2010

A Different Sort of First

This weekend, for the first time in his healthy little life, my baby boy was sick.

It was nothing out of the ordinary - just a regular childhood fever - but for a few long days the sickness sat on his soul and suffocated his spirit so that we cared for his burning little body whilst his real self was absent.

The helplessness was something I had anticipated but the sense of loss was a surprise. The baby who sat quietly on my hip and looked seriously at me when I smiled was a surreal version of the one that I loved and even whilst I held him close I missed him.

By day I went about my business with a weary sense of anxiety and by night I lay on the very edge of the bed, stroking his burning back whilst he groaned and tossed miserably beside me.

But at the end of a strange weekend full of hot cheeks and pasty faces, long nights and little sleep, expensive thermometers and late night phone calls to NHS Direct, John woke up with a gurgle.

He pushed himself onto his knees and smiled at me through the bars of his cot. His forehead was cool and dry. And beneath his wide, sleepy smile a tiny new tooth had emerged. Thank goodness for that.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Food Glorious Food

I'd expected a grand opening-night performance. I'd anticipated cute gummy munching and I'd prepared myself for instant mayhem and mess.

But instead, over the past few weeks John has gradually, gradually come to appreciate the daily pleasure of food.

It wasn't a spectacular show and it wasn't a sudden success. But with each new taste we have watched as his disgust has changed to distaste, and then his distaste has turned to delight.

Until all at once, now that all the excitement and expectation have dissipated, he has swapped his grimaces for grins and joined with the rest of the Gordon household in savouring one of life's greatest and most abundant joys.

Welcome to the dinner table, little boy, we've got so much goodness to share with you...

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Pillow Talk

When I crept into bed he folded me in his arms and whispered "I love you so much."

"I love you too," I whispered wriggling into his warmth.

"Just so, so much." he murmured  into my neck, pulling me closer and making shivers tickle my spine.

I lay in his arms feeling my whole body relax beneath the strength and certainty of his love and wondering how long it had been since we'd shared such an honest and intimate moment.

I wondered whether I'd been so swept up in the currents of love for my boy that I'd neglected the source of love from which this little family had sprung and promised myself that I'd be more mindful of my marriage in the busy weeks to come.

When we woke I kissed his sleepy cheek and told him how much his words had meant.

"I have no recollection of that whatsoever," he said looking at me blankly. "I must have been fast asleep."

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

One Day at a Time

If I look down the endless avenue of weeks that stretch out through the seasons I feel despondency settle over my heart like the dark shadows of dusk.

The long hours of empty days mock me with their silence and the pressure of time to fill weighs heavily on my shoulders.

I feel forlorn because my family is far away and my friends are few, and I feel frustrated because my distractions are small ones that repeat themselves ad infinitum.

I reach desperately for diversions that scatter like leaves before wind and I look long days in the eye and feel their emptiness deep in my soul.

But if I focus simply on today I find that the hours will pass, and that the hours will turn into days, and then days will morph into seasons.

And so with a story here, a meal there, a walk now and a nap later we will pass through these weeks in a steady flow of moments.

Yesterday we visited the geese. Today we will swim. And the rest of the week? No doubt we'll get through it moment by moment, one day at a time...

Monday, 11 October 2010


As Sunday sunshine spilled lazily through the trees and golden leaves spiralled slowly to the ground, John and I celebrated the glory of apples.

We picked them, we played with them, and we photographed them. We rolled them through the grass. We marvelled at the smoothness and redness of their skin and as I shook the fruits from the tree John sank his new little teeth into their sweet and juicy flesh.

In some ways it was just a perfectly normal Sunday afternoon, but at the same time it was just perfect.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Slipping Away

Some nights I find myself wide awake at 2am listening to my heart chase memories round my mind and feeling sweat prickle in my pores as I try to recall my exact emotions upon first holding my baby in my arms.

I stare fixedly at the darkness and try to remember the feel of his wizened little fingers, the weight of his sleeping body on my lap and the snuffling slurps that sounded when he fed, worrying that day by day, hour by hour these memories are slipping through the gaps in my remembrance and dispersing like warm breath into mist.

I feel the steady drain of time slipping through my fingers and panic that my photographs are too few and that their quality is substandard; that my keepsake box is too empty and that my reflections here are too vague

And as the quiet rhythm of my little boy breathing gently lulls me back to sleep I have to remind myself that trying to hold on to the present is as futile as trying to hold happiness in the palm of my hand and that the beauty of a rainbow is in its transient and ephemeral splendour.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

A Glimpse

The package that dropped on my doormat was fat with promise and heavy with unexpected potential.

It weighed story-book heavy in my hands and when I ripped open its gluey corners two un-ordered books dropped into my lap.

They were copies of 'The Harvest', an anthology of short stories that had been promised to me some three years ago and completely forgotten about in the interim.

On its front cover my name was spelt out in capitals and inside its pages was a story that I had written many years ago, at a time when I practiced short-hand by day and created characters with my knees under the duvet by night.

Seeing my words laid out on the clean white pages of this little book was like flicking back to an earlier chapter of my life and re-reading the lines of a dream that has been written on my soul for as long as I can remember.

'The Harvest' might not be a particularly impressive book and its publication might not matter to anyone other than those with their names on the cover, but its arrival has linked me to a creative past that I'd all but forgotten about and given me a glimpse of a future that's just waiting to be written...

Monday, 4 October 2010


A comb, a rolling pin, a beanbag; a bottle stop, a coaster, a scrap of fleece; a salt shaker, a sponge, a string of beads; a pastry brush, a balloon whisk, an avocado pit; a jam jar lid, a spoon, a ribbon; a tea strainer, a candle holder and a curtain ring...

These are some of the treasures in John's bowl and these are the objects bringing magic to his world.

In quiet pools of morning sunlight he sits, intently exploring these tiny treasures one by one.

He picks out an object with careful deliberation...

 ...passes it slowly from fist to fist...

...shakes it hard to test for rattles and then finally explores its texture with his mouth....

...before reaching for his next treasure.

I could never have anticipated the stillness and absorption that this activity would bring to my boy, I cannot describe the relief that these precious moments of calm lend to our days and I will never cease to be filled with wonder as I watch my boy discover the world.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

All Good Gifts Around Us...

I filled the house with the scent of flowers, cut branches from the hedgerows, gathered apples from the garden and strewed the kitchen floor with leaves.

I worked frantically to the schedule of a sleeping boy and when I was done I walked down the lane to the church will flowers in my arms and a baby on my back.

Standing on a pew in the sacred silence of the empty church listening to John's squeals ring round the rafters I thought of the generations of women before me who had gathered their harvest bounty and offered them up with thanksgiving.

Some rituals can feel antiquated when set amidst the chaotic realities of everyday life but this one placed our days in a long tradition of yesterdays and bound our many blessings with those that have been poured out on the undeserving ever since time began.