Thursday, 29 September 2011

Apple Tasting


I filled the fruit bowl with the rosiest, roundest apples from our trees and left them for my boy to explore whilst I took down the washing.

I watched his chubby fingers grasp each fruit in turn, and I watched the absorption with which he rearranged and replaced them.

And when I came to bring the bowl inside I found that each of the apples in the bowl had one small baby-sized bite out of its perfect flesh.

And I knew that every time I ate one, those tooth-marks would make me smile.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Good Times


Just lately, as the September sunshine has shone, things with my boy have been good.

Gone is the indescribable boredom of the baby days, gone are the testing tantrums that tore my patience to shreds, gone are the sleepless nights and the no-nap days, gone is the biting and hitting that left me feeling abused and attacked, and in their place is a bright little person whose company is a delight.

He communicates with little nods and shakes of his head and strange words that only I can decipher; he looks me in the eye and smiles before running over to smother my face with kisses; he plays with an independence and absorption that I could watch for hours; he 'reads' with a quiet contentment that makes me long to reach for a book; he sleeps for two long hours in his cot every afternoon and is quiet throughout the night; he mimics me to make me laugh and comforts me when I'm sad and he names the objects that he sees with such delight that cars and tractors bring joy to my day.

And instead of being a baby who I must feed and clean and care for, he's suddenly a person whose company I would seek.

He's my playmate, my workmate, my friend, my love.

And as I enjoy this honeymoon period with my toddler, knowing that the 'terrible two's' are around the next corner and savouring every kiss and smile and song that comes my way, I wonder once again how it's possible to love one small person so very much, and yet to find that I love him more and more with each new day that comes.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Squirreling


-friendly chatter after church
-a peaceful hour with play dough
-the rich dark scent of horse manure
-the sticky fumes of wood stain
-freshly dug earth ready for the winter frost
-the homely scent of stew simmering in the stock pot
-the soft September sunshine brightening the world with beauty
-the scent of mud and manure on John's neck as I lowered him into the bath
-the satisfaction of knowing that two more windows are ready to face the winter storms
-the joy of working seperately and yet being completely together 

There were so many good things about today.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Restlessness


Sometimes, without any warning, a foul wind blows from the East and restlessness lands in my lap.

I don't know where it comes from and I don't know where to put it when it arrives, but it's a wild and churning dissatisfaction that laughs in the face of my distractions and belittles my work and my play.

Maybe it's a deep and desperate need to create, maybe it's my soul calling out for God, maybe it's my body aching to be worked, or maybe it's my brain screaming out to be stretched; maybe it's nothing more lofty than my hormones stretching in time with the moon.

All I know is that it locks fiercely around my soul and makes me ache with longing for something unknowable and unnameable and forever beyond my reach.

I know it's futile to fight it. I know I'm powerless to blow it on its way.

And so all I can do is appease it (with hot baths and hard work, writing and prayer) and quietly await the day when a fresh wind will blow from the West, the restlessness will pass on, and I'll be restored to a state in which play dough and vegetable pies are once again enough.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Dinner Guests


There always comes a point, mid-way through cooking and cleaning when I get angry at the effort I'm expending and resentful of the fact that I ever made the offer in the first place.

And there always comes a point, mid-way through sharing a good meal with friends, when all the effort seems worthwhile and I'm so very glad that I did.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Autumn Walk


There could not have been a more perfect day to take a walk in the woods.

Bright bursts of sunshine filtered through the trees turning the world the colour of Autumn and the air was so clear that tiny chills travelled on the sunbeams tingling our fingers with the threat of cold.

Trees on the cusp of transformation displayed their first amber leaves with tentative pride and everywhere the world was tinged with the poignant melancholy of decay.

We walked at toddler pace, stopping endlessly to watch John pick up acorns, examine leaves, gather twigs and pebbles, cry out for blackberries and moo at the cows.

And as we walked to the sound of little feet rustling through a thin carpet of leaves and breathed in the damp scent of season's change, we realised that at some point, without us even noticing, something imperceptible had shifted and that Autumn had truly arrived.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Upping My Game


Lately, it seems that everyone I meet has been expounding on the wonders of nursery.

"It will be really good for her," says my friend, "I'm sure it's going boost her confidence and stop her being so clingy."

"He loves it" says another. "He's really friendly with the other children and is so happy there."

"It's important for them to get used to being with other kids and have time away from their parents," says yet another." And they do all sorts of activities in nursery - art and craft and messy play - they have a whale of a time!"

And I nod and smile and agree that yes, nursery does sound like a wonderful thing, whilst feeling anxious and awkward and attacked, because John's not experiencing any of these things and his days are spent solely with me.

And so, because it's September, the season of good resolutions, and because these conversations leave my competitive edge feeling flattened, this week I've been busy upping my game.

We've coloured after breakfast (art activity- check) we've visited toddler groups (socialization - check) we've taken a trip to the farm (different environment - check) we've sung songs and rhymes (musical development -check) we've played quietly with blocks (coordination development - check) we've taken long walks (outdoor activity - check) we've spent time squidging play-dough (messy play - check) we've baked apple muffins (super-messy play - check) we've had many, many stories (language development - check) and we've kissed, snuggled and laughed.

I might not send my boy to nursery, but I think I'm doing OK.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Mmmmm Yummy!


Whenever he sees pictures of cakes he says "Mmmmm yummy!"; whenever he bites into a biscuit he giggles and when we gave him his very own ice cream? Well, the delight on his face said it all.

I hate to have to admit it, but this boy's growing more like me by the day.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A Room of His Own


Tonight, for the first night in almost eighteen months I won't have to tiptoe into bed. I won't have to tense at the rustle of the duvet, or startle when the lid of my face cream goes pop, and I won't have to whisper goodnight to my husband and then scowl at him when his whispered reply is too loud.

I won't nestle down in the soft cool of the bed and gaze over at the little face that's lying less an arm's reach from mine and I won't drift off into sleep marvelling at the perfection of his sleeping form. I won't close my eyes and listen to his soft breathing and I won't wake at his first grumbles and groans.

My last sight of the day won't be his scrunched up bottom and my first sight of the day won't be his dazed and sleepy face.

Because tonight, for the first night in his life, John will sleep in his own room.

And even though there's part of me that's thrilled to have finally finished the room that we've been slaving over for so long, and even though I know that the time is right, my boy is ready, and my husband is more than ready, I still wish that I could keep him beside me a little while longer, because there is no better sight to fall asleep to than that of a round little bottom in the air, and there is no better sight to wake to than that of a sleepy face smiling at you over the side of a cot.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Birthday



On Sunday, after the bliss of a late morning lie-in, the uncomplicated joy of opening presents that I ordered myself, the indulgent ideal of breakfast in bed and the impossible reality of eating it with a toddler on the loose, we headed off to Hawkstone Park.

We basked in the soft September sunshine, ate the most glorious of picnics in the most glorious of settings and then wandered through the park in a haze of birthday happiness.

And even though it was a day entirely dedicated to me, for me it was all about these two:



These two funny, silly, adventurous, independent calm and contented souls, who teach me the meaning of happiness each and every day.

I watched them wander through this enchanted landscape - ducking through dark caverns and behind eerie stone pillars, climbing lone Rapunzel towers, exploring the dragon forest where gnarly branches struggled to strangle us as we passed, and walking beneath expansive rock faces that glowed amber as we wound our way home in the low evening sunshine.

And as my heart sang with joy and my baby sang "e-i-e-i-o" over and over again from his vantage point on Daddy's back I thought that this might just be the best birthday ever, and the best day ever and the most wonderful year of my life.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Morning Reading


For the past few mornings, when I've climbed out of the shower and walked tentatively into the ominous quiet of the living room, this is what I've found; John, comfortably ensconced on the sofa, surrounded by books, happily reading to himself.

His contentment is so great that he doesn't move when I enter and his absorption is so intense that he doesn't falter when I reach for my camera. He simply sits, turning page after page, naming the things that he sees, singing and babbling, and weaving for himself a story that's too magical for me to understand.

And with each turn of the page, I see his imaginative world grow, and it's a beautiful thing to behold.