Monday, 31 October 2011

One Truth

Even if he wasn't mine, I'm fairly certain I'd still think he was the coolest little boy I'd ever had the privilege of meeting.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

For a Moment There I Was Interesting

"I didn't know you were a writer" said the vicar, suddenly looking at me with a relieved sort of enthusiasm, as though he'd suddenly remembered that he had something to talk to me about after all.

"Ummmm..." I said vaguely, wondering what exactly he was referring to and hoping that I wouldn't have to fumble and fluff my way through an explanation of abandoned novels and unfulfilled ambitions.

"I was talking to some friends about an article I read in the Church Times a few years ago - I remembered the beautiful picture on the cover - and they told me that you wrote it!" he said, looking so genuinely impressed and interested that I felt myself flushing for a moment and feeling quite overcome by my own mediocre accomplishment.

And as I explained to him about the freelance writing that I'd done and the magazine that I'd worked on and he nodded and asked questions and listened to the answers intently, I realised that for a moment I was interesting.

Interesting in a way that I could never be for sweeping floors and playing peekaboo and washing dishes and playing with play dough. Interesting in a way that allowed me to speak and be listened to, remembered, recognised and ever so slightly revered.

And later, as I sat letting the thrill of a neighbour's interest wash over me once again and reading through some of my old work, I wondered whether I should begin writing freelance articles once again.

Not because it would fulfil my creative desires, not because it would give my life purpose, not because I can't live without the money and not because I feel it's important for my career, but just because it would be nice, for one moment, to be interesting once again.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Remember This:

Whenever the layers of dust get too deep, the list of unfinished projects gets too long or the chaos of life becomes too all-consuming, I want to think of this moment - of my two men paddling happily in the soft evening sunshine - and remember that the truly important things in life are just exactly as they should be.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Beyond The Lighthouse

Beyond the lighthouse, beyond the steep steps that twist and wind their way down to the shore, beyond the chalk white cliffs that reflect the Autumn sunshine, beyond the smooth white pebbles that roll beneath the soles of our shoes and the sand that crunches and crumbles beneath our feet, beyond the slimy swathes of seaweed that sit mysteriously at the waters edge and the fine foam that lingers at the shoreline like a fragile memory, lies the sea.

And it's so vast and beautiful and awesome that we're all  silenced in the face of its majesty, and even John stands seriously with his wellies in the shallows, gazing thoughtfully out across its choppy expanse towards the stillness where the horizon meets the sky.

Friday, 21 October 2011

In Love

I remember this feeling from a time long ago.

It's a lightness; a slight giddiness; a feeling like sunlight, dancing on the surface of still water.

It's a foolishness, this feeling, but I'm happy to be made a fool, because when the boy you've been mooning over for months and months on end finally shows you that he loves you, you're so overwhelmed with joy that foolishness is a small price to pay.  

You laugh together, you gaze lovingly at one another, you snuggle and cuddle all day long; you bask in the gloriousness happiness of his love.

And even though you know that this is just a phase and that his affectionate attentions will pass, you still cannot help but feel like the luckiest girl in the world. 

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Boiling Jam

When I was younger, and I tried to imagine my 'happily ever after', I always saw myself boiling jam in a large pot on my stove whilst a baby played about my feet.

Today, that tiny glimpse into my 'happily ever after' came true, and I was so busy stirring jam and sterilising jars and trying not to trip over my boy that I almost forgot to stop, see the moment, and smile.

Almost, but not quite.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Felted Soap

Ever since I saw this post over a year ago, I wanted to make felted soap with my boy.

I wanted him to immerse his little hands in hot soapy water and experience the sensation of suds against his skin. I wanted to see him splash and splosh in the water and rub sweet smelling soap happily between his palms.

And so, after reading the instructions, ordering the materials and waiting patiently for the perfect moment when we were neither too busy, too tired, too hungry nor too grouchy, we set about felting our soap.

I showed him the softness of the roving - he tried to stab himself with some scissors.
I wrapped the soap in its soft, silky blanket - he threw the roving on the floor.
I carried the bowl of water outside and threw the soaps in "splash!" - he disappeared for some time around the back of the house.
I immersed my hands in the water and began rubbing away at the soap - he reappeared with a handful of stones and threw them in the bowl.
I worked one of the soaps into a deliciously scented lather - he took the other soap and dumped it in the recycling bin.
I coaxed and pleaded and encouraged him to participate with all my mothering might - he emptied the entire contents of the recycling bin out on the drive.
I resorted to singing a "rub, rub, the soap" ditty whilst hoping the neighbours couldn't hear, and he finally showed just enough interest to try his hand at felting.  

He splashed and rubbed and scrubbed for one glorious, soapy minute whilst I snapped a dozen hasty pictures - and then it was all over. He dumped his soap in a patch of mud and returned to his pile of plastic bottles on the drive.

And as I sat, sopping wet, and foaming in frustration, I had to remind myself that life never turns out to be anything like I imagine, that there's no reason why soapy water should be any more interesting to a toddler than a bin-full of plastic bottles and that for one glorious minute, the boy did experience soggy, soapy delight. I've got the photographs to prove it.  

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


He turns left at the end of the drive and takes the lane that leads to the church. He runs, because he barely ever walks, and when he reaches the exact point in the hedgerow where the last of the blackberries are clustered, he points at the hedge and cries "Bewy - Peeee!"

And if you lift him up so that he can reach the fruit for himself, he squishes the ripest berries with his little fingers before popping them greedily into his mouth, and only the black stains on his lips remain as a testament to the joy that they brought him for an instant.  

Monday, 10 October 2011

Random Kindness

After half a service during which John tested the acoustics of the church, the strength of his vocal chords and the limits of my patience, the old man who sits on the very back pew and welcomes us with such warmth came over to share the peace with us.

He shook our hands and smiled kindly at John and then said: "I think you're a wonderful couple, the way you're bringing this little boy up."

Later, as I sat in the churchyard, watching John run happily amongst the tombstones I remembered his unexpected and undeserved kindness, and his words made tears slip down my cheeks.

And I wondered whether anyone had ever said anything quite so encouraging to me before and whether I'd ever said anything quite so kind to anybody else in my life.

Friday, 7 October 2011

It's Autumn

Autumn has arrived.

The country shakes off its unrealistic and unfulfilled hopes for summer and settles itself comfortably into the damp, homely season that will slide us slowly into winter.

People pack their shorts away in well-travelled suitcases, wondering mournfully whether they'll still fit into them next summer, dust off their winter coats, and remember with annoyance that they somehow ended last winter with only one woolly glove.

They hunch their shoulders as they leave their houses, muttering miserably about the cold, and Christmas slides stealthily into their conversations making them puff their cheeks and shake their heads whilst trying to hide the excitement in their eyes.

There's an all-pervading smell of damp that lingers around the bases of trees and the welly-boots in the hallway, and a chill that creeps under the duvet at night.

And as people retreat back into the warmth of their homes, lighting their fires and simmering soup on their stoves and planning the projects that will keep them company throughout the long, dark nights, the world outside is silently transformed.

Leaves that have danced with the clouds all summer long submit themselves to the inevitability of death and are transfigured in glory before surrendering their souls to the wind.

And the light, filtering through a canopy of gold, shines with a sorrowful softness on the world, making us mindful of our own mortality and conscious of the passage of time and entranced time and time again by the melancholy magic of Autumn.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

I Suppose I Love Him Really

Five minutes after we've waved him goodbye I realize that he's gone off to work with my car keys in his pocket (yet again) leaving me stranded in the house on a wet and grumpy Wednesday.

All day long I curse him and practice the piece of my mind that I'll give him upon his return. But then three things happen that silence my grumbles and moans:

*He pushes open the door with a sheepish smile and offers to climb straight back in the car so that we can buy chips and pudding

*Over the sticky scrapings of the yogurt pot he initiates a 'follow my leader' silly noises game with John that lasts almost to bedtime and makes me laugh so hard that I develop a severe case of indigestion

*After dinner I walk into the living room to find them both stuffed inside the tiny play tent, cozily sharing a story as though it were a glorious secret

He might have an infuriating habit of pocketing keys, but I suppose I love him really.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Work Party

This weekend, whilst the sun warmed the world, we worked.

Armed with a house-full of helpful parents, a large mechanical toy, the best weather of the summer and a freshly baked chocolate fudge cake, we lined up our paint tins on the drive and set to work painting the house.

We felt the sun heat our backs and we worked. 

We taped billowing plastic sheets against the window and we worked.

We soared high into the sky on a flimsy mechanical arm, gaping at our neighbour's gardens stretched out below us like a patchwork quilt, and we worked.

We waved 'Hi' and 'Bye' to John over and over again, and we worked.

We donned sunglasses as our light new house became too bright to behold, and we worked.

We felt paint splatter our necks and arms and faces and it didn't occur to us to care as we worked.

And when the very last of the sunlight had gone, our helpers had left and the chocolate fudge cake was just a plate-full of crumbs we hooked the cherry picker back onto the car and took a look at our house.

And it looked vast and smart and finished, and nothing like the sort of house that we should be living in at all.