Saturday, April 23, 2011

Time goes by...

I've been trying to think about why it is, that it's so easy to forget your own children as they were at six months old. I can barely remember Max or Oli being the age at which Jack is now.  I suppose it's such a tiny fraction of their lives (and mine), that that's why it gets swallowed up in the abyss of forgotten things.  After all, children are toddlers for a year, but only a week old for a day. Blink, and they are 2 weeks, then a month.  Perhaps it is also because you can't remember how you didn't know this child like you do now.
It feels as if, first there is the rainstorm. It is what it is, and you deal the way you do, and then a stream appears. The water's moving quickly and yet you feel like nothing will ever change. You will always be here, watching this kind of water, on this kind of river bank, always able to step across the stream.  And then the water level rises and every day the picture of your child, the character, becomes a little fuller.  You know the eczema on his thumb and the milk spots under his chin. You know the smell of formula on his breath and how his eyelashes have grown. You know how he smiles for his brothers and looks at you to be reassured. He loves his bath, you find out, and you notice how his feet are the length of your thumb. You know how he pulls his socks off and sucks them and looks amused and startled when he rolls himself over, and how he marvels at his hands and smiling, grips your hair when you lean in to his cot. You know how he slips to one side in his high chair, and how he'd be nursing forever if he could.  You know the feeling of his cold fingers and sharp nails on your chest, and how he'll sleep in broad daylight, tolerating the fact that you haven't found the time to put up curtains in his room.
I begin to piece the jigsaw of this boy together, pulling genes from here and there; the dimples, the turn of his mouth and the curve of his nose. And each day the water runs quicker and the river gets wider. Not so easy to step across. And sure enough he's a month older and I swore I'd never imagined I'd be weaning him. But here it is and I look back and can barely remember that first rainstorm, when I couldn't see for the drizzle and the fog.  Jack's head gets heavier and his eyes brighten and he chuckles and smiles and seeks me out and when his brothers maul him, his look asks me, 'has this been authorized?'  I so want to look and look at Jack and live his every moment, to say 'bouncing butterball' to him and watch him giggle, mouth wide, at the breath-pumping consonants. But it isn't just about observation. I am part of the landscape, I'm changing too and in this place there are two more rivers - moving so fast and yet changing ever so gradually - and so much to discover.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Five fun filled years - celebrated with a Titanic pinata, a hastily made Titanic cake, no singing but much silliness...

Monday, April 4, 2011

A weekend away

I've just come back from a weekend away. The night before I left, the friend who invited me on this indulgently idle trip, free from the responsibilities of motherhood, called me to make arrangements. Upstairs, Max and Oli were meant to be asleep. So, she'd be at my house in the city by four, to hand her kids over to her husband, Dom would be home to take charge of ours and we'd take her husband's car down south.  It was all arranged.  I don't remember exactly what I said, but no doubt I was enthusiastic. The last time I had a day without washing up or wiping bottoms was when I was in labour. 
I put the phone down,  and a minute later I heard sobbing from the stairs. Someone small, eves dropping.
'What's the matter?' I ask gently. I can only see orange tractor pajamas and some arms hugging a pair of knees. I walk over to the bottom of the stairs and see Max, his head leaning on the railings.
'Why do you want to leave us?' he sobs. Well how's that for guilt?
'Here, let me give you a hug' I said, 'so that if you miss me while I'm away you can think of it and I'll be right here.' 'But why are you going?' I navigated delicately through the reason. My friend was due to have her third child and she was going to have some rest at her parents house before the baby arrived. I was going along for the rest too. It wasn't that I desperately wanted to go, but that she'd asked me and I thought she'd appreciate it. The last bit wasn't entirely true. She'd have had to scrape me off the bonnet if she decided to go without me.
'I'm only going for a night.' I said. 'Well, two.' I added.
At this point, Oli - who had been pacing around on the landing - suddenly said he needed to 'Pee In Loo...Pee In Loo.' The urgency of it put an end to Max's line of questioning, and I was back to wiping bottoms, not a pee after all.
Saturday morning. I wake at 6.45am even though there's no-one small trying to get into my bed.  And it turns out that although it is not very easy to lie in when you are in the absence of your children, it is very easy to idle away a morning.  Soon after 8am I picked up a message from home. Dom's voice first, telling Max, 'You can leave a message. The answer machine's on' then a muffled exchange of the phone followed by a voice saying, 'Hello. This is Max. Why...why, won't you speak? I mean it's infuriating. I don't know what you are doing. Are you having a lie-in or something?'
Mid morning we decided to have lunch and a manicure at the local spa. It will probably be the only time I ever get into a white robe to have my nails polished. But when in California... And of course, we had to seek out the oxygen room but with disappointing results, and my mum has since told me there's an oxygen room just off the A30 in Sticker so, not-so-Californ-I-A after all.
I accepted the offer of a warm neck pillow for the duration of the manicure. I don't think that offer will come round again in the next few years...and I had a nice chat to Nicole, the beautician.  I was telling her that my pregnant friend and I were here to get some relaxation in before mayhem arrived. I was speaking from experience.
'Mayhem - that's a pretty name.' she said.  I have to admit, it has a ring to it.