Thursday, 26 April 2012

Reading Time

They read alone. They read together. Sometimes they read quietly to themselves. Sometimes the stories burst through the silence in a jumble of noise.

Sometimes, I look up and catch them like this, and my heart silently smiles.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

His Kind of Art

The first time I painted with John, I spread paint on his tiny palms and placed them flat on the paper to make two perfect hand-prints.

I pressed his tiny fingers in place, held them there for a moment, and then whisked the paper away to save and keep, without ever thinking that I had initiated a habit, or that he would paint with his hands forever more.

"Bam bam bam!" he says as he slaps his palms against sheet after sheet of paper, the paint spreading itself into an indistinct brown blur that I will later regard doubtfully, before guiltily burying it in the recycling bin.

"Bam bam bam!" he says as he points proudly to his hand print masterpieces on the kitchen wall.

"Bam bam bam?" he asks, as he pulls the paint bottles from the cupboard and looks at me beseechingly.

"Yes, you're brilliant at painting aren't you?" I say with disingenuous enthusiasm, handing him big brushes and little brushes, potato prints and sponges, and sighing with frustration as he quickly discards them in favour of slapping his little palms again and again against the soggy sheets of paper.

But today, I discovered something that John will paint with other than his hands:

He raced the cars around the paper, pausing only to dip the wheels in fresh paint, and he "brrrrrooooomed" with joy as the tyre marks tracked back and forth across the paper.  

He created masterpiece after masterpiece with those sticky paint-covered cars, and it wasn't until the fourth sheet of paper that his little hands started to 'bam bam bam' happily amidst a sea of paint.

And I watched and smiled, and encouraged him with his art, whilst all the time wondering how long it would be before he would let me forget about this.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Who I Am

There are times when I forget who I am. I touch lives with others whose thoughts don't match my own, and I spiral into a disconnected circle of doubt.

I look at my life through other people's eyes and I feel lonely and misunderstood. I compare my happiness to that of others and I feel restlessness bite at my soul.

For a few days, I drift though life in a daze, unable to find the peace that I seek.

And I have to remind myself that my life is OK, and that my happiness has been here all along. I have to sit in the silence of my home, and look back at the moments when contentment was easy.

Like this day in a field of drifting seeds. When the sky was blue, and the sun was shining, and the three of us were alone and completely, uncomplicatedly happy.

There was such joy in that day, at the start of the Easter holidays, when the days ahead were full of possibility.

We walked through  those reeds with such abandon, such freedom, such laughter.

And I knew exactly who I was.

I was a mother and a wife. A girl who loves the sight of pale gold reeds against blue skies and a woman who loves the sight of her boy walking through a field of dreamy seeds. Someone who loves open spaces and sunny skies and slow, slow walks at a little boy's pace, and laughing with my husband.

Oh yes, I remember now. That's exactly who I am.  

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Peter Pan

We stood by the wall and made shadows in the warm pink glow of the evening sun. 

John spread his arms wide with the confident abandon of a toddler, and I saw his perfect silhouette framed against the white wall of the house.

For a moment, he looked like Peter Pan, poised in shadow and ready for action.

"All children, except one, grow up" I said to myself.

And for the briefest of moments, I felt as though my heart would break.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Easter Morning

I remember Easter morning as a child.

The house was full of the smell of polish and fresh flowers, the table was laid with our best tablecloth and there were new prayer books wrapped in yellow paper, waiting on our breakfast plates. Little eggs nestled amongst tissue paper and silk flowers in our Easter basket and Gregorian chant drifted through the air, making us eat our cereal slowly and savour our first tastes of chocolate with a semi-religious fervour.

It was a simple thing really, that Easter breakfast table. And yet there was a magic in it too. Because it singled out the day as special and made it memorable for us all.

Late on Saturday night, as the clock ticked towards midnight, I laid our own Easter table.

I cleaned the room, laid the white cloth on the table, found a basket that I could wrap with ribbons, and brought in branches of blossom from the hedgerows to arrange in vases alongside long stems of frilly daffodils.

I cut out tissue paper flowers and hung delicate blown eggs off the window latches, and when it was done I stood back and smiled because I knew that I'd taken up the mantel of tradition and marked the morning out as special.

For the first time, I'd made a statement about what Easter morning would mean in our house. I'd stated that it would mean home-made hot cross buns and baskets of eggs, chocolate before breakfast and new prayer books wrapped in pretty, shiny paper.

It would mean Easter cards and clean floors and a walk down the lane to church. I would mean magic and celebration and smiles and specialness.

And even though there are other traditions waiting in the wings that will surely join us in the years to come, this simple tradition of laying the breakfast table with flowers has been brought back to life this Easter. And I can't help but feel grateful that it's now part of our family's story too.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

One Truth

Life is nothing if not unpredictable.