Misty Monday

8.30am (sat on the sofa covered in blankets)

Naoise is snoozing in bed. Its Monday but for Naoise the half term holiday ends tomorrow. Today he has a lucky day at home with me as its one of those random teacher training days. We will fill the time with drawing, the homework that was never done, maybe baking and taking a friends dog for a walk. I am glad that he is sleeping, gives me a moment to write this.

Syd was feeling run down. Coldsores, sore throat. Last night he managed his history course work, just got it done at the last minute. He is really being very responsible about his studies, especially History which he loves, inspiring teacher who he joyfully talks about helps.

There were tears before school, but he was strong and resilient and he went. I will collect him in the car later. Syd likes to work on his own thing. Practice his guitar, play with his friends the structure of school is a challenge. I loved that he gave me a huge big hug. I loved that he showed me his vulnerabilities. I loved it that he needed me. We all need to feel needed, wanted. I am happy to be his anchor. I know this time of being needed and wanted is short lived. I know that my time with him is shorter now. Now that he is a young man.

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I was awake at five again this morning. I am sick of waking early. My body is really struggling to readjust to the new winter time. I wake and I cannot rest. My head spins with ideas and things that I want to do and how to do them.

Naoise has a sniffly, snuffly pillow case that is his comforter. He does lots of creative rituals with his sniffle. He pokes a corner up his nose. He twirls it like a helicopter above his head. He wraps it around and around his arm like a bandage. He wears it over his head as if a hijab. He wraps it up like an umbilical cord around his hand until it forms knots. He rubs it against his nose. He wraps it around the back of his neck as if it is a scarf. I want to photograph all these performative actions that he has developed.

Are they actions to soothe his anxiety? What does this repetitive playing mean? Is it art?

I offered to make his swan painting into a cuddly toy. He declined my offer. I don’t like cuddly toys mummy, I have sniffle my pillow case as a comforter. 

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Its deep fog outside. I cannot see the top of the hill.

Yesterday we went out for a family walk. I love to walk out with them all. Its never easy. Simply walking, the children compete for mine and Patricks attention. Me, Naoise and Patrick take photographs on our cameras, Syd practices at looking cool and winding his brother up. Winding his brother up is his favourite pastime and it drives us all to insanity.

The sun was so warm and bright casting a gentle light on where it fell. Leaves, himalayan balsam, stinging nettles dying back, tree roots, ferns, spagnum moss, mud, the frothy iron of river water.  So hot for the first day of November.

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We walked in the woods. We played. We talked. We took photographs. It was a perfect day. Perfect bickering. Perfect when Naoise repeatedly threw off his wellies and we had to put them back on each time with him laughing back at us.

Being in a family and raising children is far far from perfect and ideal, its just ok. Its alright for it to be messy and uncontrolled and for fights and arguments to break out. There will always be conflict, always a battle for the pecking order.

There is harmony too.

There is joy in watching the children playing together in the river, balancing on a log. When Syd helps with Naoise. When he teases him.

A woman with her baby and her two other children walks past us. I could see how much work that she had on her hands. Carrying one and guiding two others. Another woman with a tiny new born baby strapped to her front also walks past us. I remember those days that dragged forever in a blur of baby looking after. I don’t want to go back there, however beautiful babies are, however broody I feel. I like my family just as it is. One small boy, one young man, one man and me.

The tap in the kitchen sink drip, drip, drips. A line of socks hang on the radiator to dry. The fog is lifting as the suns light brightens. I hear feet jumping to a stand on the floor boards in the attic.

Research

Third of women feel embarrassed breastfeeding in public, survey finds, Haroon Siddique, Monday 2nd November, The Guardian

Public figures sign letter seeking equality for mental health, Nadia Khomami, Monday 2nd November, The guardian

Why women bake: the healing power of a quiet sisterhood, Sophie Johnson, Sunday 1st November, The Guardian

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