Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or scold.
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
It wasn't that he shuffled shyly up the aisle on cue, fiercely clutching the ring cushion to his chest and smiling his broadest smile, or that the whole congregation laughed and smiled at his little performance.
It wasn't the fact that people told me endlessly that he 'stole the show' and 'behaved wonderfully' or 'did us proud' and got down on their knees to photograph him time and time again.
It wasn't that he amused himself quite happily for hours with bits of gravel and a fist full of quoits whilst the rest of us stood about sipping champagne.
It wasn't that he ran happily in and out of the marquee between courses, smiling up at strangers, or that he trotted off quite happily with his grandparents at the end of the day without giving us a second thought.
And it wasn't that he never flagged once despite missing his nap and never complained once about the blisters hiding beneath his smart, shiny shoes.
It was the fact that he was just himself, dressed in a fancy outfit and it wasn't just good enough, it was perfect.
Thursday, 19 July 2012
"The next time we have a sunny day" I told him almost a week ago, "we'll pick the blackcurrants."
Yesterday, the sun burst in and out of the clouds and so, in skittery sunshine, just before his nap, we picked the blackcurrants.
It was a silent and serious work. John buried his head in the bushes and plucked the currents with both hands whilst I pulled fist-fulls from the higher branches and then dropped them into his bowl.
Occasionally, the silence was broken as John scolded me for encroaching on his currant-picking territory, but mostly we worked with quiet concentration. Past the point at which I thought the novelty would wear thin, past the time at which he usually goes for a nap, past the point at which we had more than enough currents for our cake, and well into the afternoon.
And as we worked together, in the welcome warmth of the sudden sunshine, I thought about the time, two years ago, that I picked blackcurrants with my baby boy by my side. And I wondered how contentment could be complete and constantly evolving at the very same time.
Sunday, 15 July 2012
Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
If you were to ask me who the most important people were in my life I'd tell you that they were my boy, my husband, my parents and my brothers.
And it would be true.
But I'd be neglecting to mention the eclectic group of wonderful women who I'm so grateful to call my friends.
And really, day in day out, they're some of the most important people of all.
They're the ones who break up the long, monotonous weeks, and infuse long and lonely days with bright bursts of joy.
They're the ones who offer me the lifeline of lunch at a play barn when the skies are crashing to the ground in torrents, and meet me to walk around the lake, week in week out, at a tortuous toddler pace.
They're the ones who come round and sit on my cold floor whilst our kids run laps through the kitchen and invite me into their homes with such constancy that I look forward to Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays because each day has attached itself to the name of a friend.
They're a random group of people, these friends of mine. Some of them invite us over to play in their tidy houses and immaculate gardens with their large selection of bright plastic toys, whilst others meet us by lakes and rivers and watch as our children fish with sticks and bury their fingers in mud.
But all of them know the everyday details of my life and share the ins and outs of theirs. All of them know what we did last weekend and when my next hospital appointment is and when John last had a cold.
All of them offer kindness and love and chatter and play and all of them make my life fuller and happier and easier.
They're the people who help me get by. I really don't know what I'd do without them.
Saturday, 7 July 2012
This week, I reached a milestone that I never wanted to mark; eighteen months of 'trying'.
Eighteen half-formed hopes and small losses. Eighteen months of lonely longing and silent fears.
Time enough for a baby to be conceived, carried and delivered into loving arms twice over. Time enough for hope to harden into a small nugget of desperation.
Of course, it feels like a long, long time. Of course I long to grow this little family of ours, and of course I dream of a day when there will be more bodies to cradle, more cheeks to kiss and more tummies to raspberry.
But for now, for the most part, it's just the two of us.
And, in truth, there's a quiet magic in that.
I spend my days with this boy by my side, smiling at his smile, listening to him talk, joining in his play, exploring the world by his side and working with him at my feet.
He's, my playmate, my shadow, my helper, my friend. And even though I may worry about the future, in the present I am completely content.
Today, when he woke from his nap, I held him on the sofa until he smiled then I put on his shoes and ran beside him through the sun-soaked, rain-drenched grass. We dug together in the semi-sodden sandpit, ate blackcurrants straight off the bush, played 'tennis' on the lawn, then I washed the windows whilst he drove Daddy's car and ate illicit muesli bars in the passenger seat.
We ate baked Camembert in a companionable sort of silence, slurped mango until the juice dripped down our wrists and ran off our chins, then put on Frank Sinatra and danced crazily around the living room, before snuggling on the sofa for stories before his bath.
It was an ordinary early evening. We were together, and it was an everyday sort of wonderful.
Perhaps this time for just the two of us - this chance to walk quietly at my boy's own pace and watch him grow by his side -is its own special kind of gift after all.
Wednesday, 4 July 2012
For the past year and a half, I've thought a lot about babies. I've thought about their curling fingers and tiny toes; I've thought about the way John smiles so shyly at the sight of one and kisses their cheeks so gently; I've thought about the soft suckling noises that they make softly in their sleep; I've cried at the sight of a breastfeeding mother in Ikea.
Mostly, I've pondered the incredible sequence of chances that precede their conception, and the even greater sequence of miracles that precede their birth, and I've come to appreciate, more than ever, the immense and unlikely miracle of new life.
And so, when tiny baby Jacob was born into this world weighing just 3lb 7oz, and making my friend's life complete, I knew I had to make something special to honour his arrival. I had to sit and stitch his name in blue thread and I had to cut tiny stars from scraps of fabric and stitch them onto soft white fleece.
Not because he needed it or wanted it or because I'm especially good at sewing, but because his presence here is astounding, his existence is a miracle, and my tiny, imperfect stitches were the only way I could think of to show it.
Monday, 2 July 2012
In all truth, this project was probably 80% for my own amusement, and 20% for his.
But the fact that it kept him busy for a long showery morning, gathering buckets full of mud and fists full of pebbles, pulling handfuls of grass from the lawn and arranging them all with serious concentration, made my satisfaction 100% complete.