Friday, 13 March 2015

breathing in & breathing out

For the most part, our days have fallen into the new rhythm of the fresh year. Filled with the familiar routines of breakfast, the school run, laundry and hanging out washing, cooking meals and eager little hands pulling up stools to the work counters to help me chop, stir and taste. Punctuated by cups of tea and favourite story books and tidying up the basket of wooden blocks, whose contents seem constantly strew  over our living room floor. Helping to build towers which are knocked down again seconds later, eliciting delighted giggles. Carefully prepared food tossed from the highchair tray to be swept up and replaced by the next meal a few short hours later. A baby banished from her siblings bedroom for unknowingly causing scenes of mass destruction to carefully laid train tracks and little towns in her eagerness to join in with everything they do. So she sits outside the door alone, patiently waiting for them to finish their game and emerge again until my heart can't take it anymore and she is scooped up and covered in a hundred kisses, just to see that sweet beaming grin cross her face.

Sisterly bickering and taking a back seat whilst they learn how to compromise and negotiate and then smiling as they pack up little cardboard suitcases with their most valuable possessions and set off on a journey, losing themselves in a game of make-believe for hours on end.Tending to our garden and every day noticing new blooms and picking tomatoes and strawberries from our veggie patch (we have been blessed with a bumper crop of both this season). Stealing a moment to hold a sleeping baby in my arms and imprint upon my memory the weight of her there and run my finger along her soft cheek before putting her gently down in her cot. Mason jars and small glass bottles filled with fresh flowers and plants in terracotta pots strewn through the house because they are good for the soul. Folding laundry which doesn't always make it back into the drawers again before the piles need to be rifled through by a child in search of a favourite twirly dress. Kissing sleeping foreheads and slipping out the door for a rare dinner with a few friends accompanied by freely flowing wine and restorative chats. A Daddy who is almost knocked down by the small bodies that launch themselves at him with such force as he walks through the door after long days at work, eagerly awaiting their precious minutes of bedtime stories and shoulder rides with him before bedtime.

I can hardly believe it's March already and the speed at which every year now passes never fails to astound me. As time slips through my hands like sand, I'm reminded how precious the days and weeks are. The life we have created for our little family is nothing extraordinary but it is ours and I feel so thankful for it and the happiness it brings. Of course some days are long, some bring tears of frustration and exhaustion (mine as well as theirs). The little questioning and growing minds that surround me remind me to stay curious, seek out knowledge and make time for creativity despite the thousands of other tasks clamouring for my attention. In turn I hope they are learning to live and love well, staying true to their own hearts and selves and valuing the importance of kindness because the world can never have enough of that.

After 31 years, I know myself well enough now to have realised certain things I will never be and that aren't so important to me after all. For the most part I can see the beauty in others lives and still feel glad of my own. Comparison is inevitable, we are only human after all, but remembering that what we see on social media comprises the highlights reel of everyone's life, not the behind-the-scenes footage definitely helps. As does the knowledge that most perfectly captured shots probably have a pile of dirty washing and a fruit bowl with some questionable over-ripe pears leaking gooey stuff at the bottom just out of shot (well mine do anyway). Two pearls of wisdom that are close to my heart are 'Bloom where you are planted' and 'Stop wondering if the grass is always greener and water yours'. More than anything I am doing my best to remember that the path to contentment lies in letting go of any ideals of perfection and embracing the highs and lows, inherent messiness and joy this life brings. How lucky we are to be able to experience it all.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

take my hand

Life is so busy, unfailingly busy. We’re always in a rush, flying from one thing to the next. Dashing out of the door in the mornings to get to school on time, then maybe errands or on to swimming lessons and hastily heading home for a couple of hours to attempt to get the house in some semblance of order. For as long as I can remember, every time I go anywhere with my Rose she is without fail lagging about four steps behind me, calling “Slow down Mama”. My automatic response has always been “Come on Rose, keep up”. Then yesterday it hit me, the weight of the realisation so heavy upon my chest that I almost burst into tears whilst I was sitting down at the kitchen table, finally grabbing the chance to eat some breakfast after dropping her off for her weekly kindergarten session. She’s only three years old, her little legs simply can’t go any faster.

All this time I have been urging and expecting her to keep up with me, instead of just slowing down myself. Painfully obvious, I know but it felt like some kind of epiphany. Why not hold her hand and walk along beside her instead of reaching for it to propel her forwards? And what exactly is the big rush anyway? Will it be the end of the world if we are a few minutes late for an appointment or at kindergarten that morning? I think not. If we see a feather we like we will stop to pick it up, or pause to tuck a particularly smooth, round pebble away into our pockets. When a bird perches on a fence beside us to sing a tune, we will stay and listen for a moment or stop to point and smile at a castle-shaped cloud in the sky. Together we will walk. She and I, side-by-side where we belong and she will show me all the beauty in the world that is so easy to overlook.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

and so it begins...

Regardless of how the twelve months preceding it went, I always look forward to a new year. Maybe it's because I'm an eternal optimist, but I really appreciate the chance to take stock of how life is travelling and identify any areas which could use some attention and the opportunity to make new goals and seek out my desires. So I've been mulling everything over for a week or two now, with my note pad out and eager pen at the ready but the thing is, I'm stalling. My mind has been reeling and it seems like I've been stuck in some kind of limbo, a deer caught in the headlights and unable to step forward, unsure of my direction and there's something that has felt a lot like anxiety gnawing in the pit of my stomach.

There's no shortage of things I want to do and improve on, places I want to see, new experiences I want to try and goals I'd like to achieve. The thing is that I've not quite yet emerged from the fog that comes with the all consuming nature of a caring for a baby in her first year of life. A time when in spite of everything you've just gained, it is inevitable to feel to some extent that you might have lost something of yourself for a while along the way. To be oh so tired and perhaps momentarily a little unsteady about who you are beyond all of the mothering and the beautiful chaos of raising a family. I've just felt overwhelmed and sort of paralysed by all the possibilities, options and perceived pressures. There's so much I think I should be doing or aiming for that I don't even know where to start or what should be coming out top of the list.

But enough. I realised a day ago that I needed to be kinder to myself. To slowly start to find my way back to myself and the things that matter to me, shaking off any of the ugliness of comparison along the way. And so instead of a list of frantic goals, I have just a word for the year ahead...breathe. To stop and take it all in, soak up everything happening right here and now- the beautiful, the crazy and the mundane. To just be. During these sweetest of years when I am needed so much by my children, my time to forge my own dreams and plans is limited but it's not impossible. It means carving out little opportunities to be creative again and do what comes naturally to me, which will hopefully involve sitting down and writing here more often. So in 2015 I will do my utmost to concentrate on enjoying the here and now instead of tying myself up in knots about the future and how I can make everything happen. And actually, I have a feeling that everything will fall into place. It usually does. Thank you optimism, for always shining through.

Picture taken by Curt, on a walk at my parents farm on our recent trip back to England for Christmas.
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