For Laura

Babies seem to come with a spell that is able to stop time. Everything that is anything in a 38-year-old visitor’s life melts away instantly when meeting someone three weeks of age.

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Young babies and young parents seem to live in a timeless bubble of their own. Weekdays or weekends don’t matter, night and day come at the same time and continents easily and effortlessly switch places around them. For a new family, only this moment exists, this moment and what it’s made of.

The parents live only for the baby – and the baby lives because of Mum and Dad. She lives their joy and their tiredness, their heartbeats and the smell of their hair. She lives their warm voices and stroking hands. She feels sudden, frightening bursts of hunger and a content happiness at being cuddled and fed and loved like no-one ever was. Warm baths briefly remind her of something – but she’s with us now, she’s here!

This is her life today, tomorrow it will be a little larger. Tomorrow and every day, until one day she’s 38 and visits someone else’s wonderful baby bubble for an hour or two. To sit and talk and admire, on a spring-time work trip to a beautiful capital somewhere maybe.

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The Cypriot Cure

‘Did you bring the bloodwork?’ mumbled the doctor, gazing at me over her glasses. ‘Oh no, I just had so much on my mind, I’m sorry.’ ‘Get me the bloodwork’, she huffed, visibly annoyed now. ‘You have to take care of yourself! If you don’t, how can you care for your kids?’

Looking at all the things I manage to worry about in my everyday life, worry over my kids tends to be a little bit on the consuming side. Most days I feel good about things, but there are some days in between when just fret, worry and brood and just can’t help myself. On Worry Days, I eat, I worry, I drive, I worry. I go to the doctor, for myself, and remember only upon leaving what it was that I actually phoned in for.

But no matter!

I can just drive back home and indulge in some good fretting over my kids again; over what I’m doing as a parent and whether it’s enough.

Yes I’m doing all I can, obviously, but maybe I should do more? More than I can?

Maybe I should change completely? All of my qualities, for their sake? Be less selfish in my love and give up my spot to somebody else, ffs? Someone confident who knows what the heck they’re doing and what it was they went to the doctor for, that sorta person? Someone on social media, perhaps? Swarms of confident and knowledgeable mothers over there, I’ve noticed!

When it comes to my work, feedback is usually quick. Ok, add a bit of descriptive text then resend. I add descriptive text and resend and everyone is happy. Payment ensues.

With our youngest generation, immediate feedback is often a bit ambivalent. And I guess the real results of our blood, sweat and tears won’t materialise until a decade or two from now. And then, my worried self figures, there will be no kid anymore, but a glaring adult who may choose their graduation or a similar public event to announce they never want kids themselves because their own childhood was so off-putting because of those people, those two over there! We’ll look around and others will look at us, with disapproval, and we’ll look at each other. And I’ll tell my husband I told you so.

‘Have we eaten today?’ he now asks, stroking my hair.

Not at the imaginary graduation (because in all of my imaginings, the last word is mine: ‘so’ from ‘I told you so’) but now here, on our sofa at 22:35.

In Cypriot folklore, whoever goes off the railings with fret is probably a bit peckish. When fed, they will regain their composure and their confidence instantly. Not to mention their belief in God and the unwavering certainty that everything will turn out fabulous at the end, actually. You eat, your worry goes elsewhere, to someone peckish!

But he’s got a point! When a worried person eats, it’s seldom with much mindfulness.

I don’t know it yet but I will eat mindfully tomorrow. I will be sat in my pyjama trousers at the dining table, in front of a hearty bowl of pasta and between us two, a flickering tealight and a bottle of white will sit firmly and decisively on the table.

The wine is to be finished. Music is to be listened to.

Later, snooker will be watched and I can rest my head on someone who knew me years before I became anyone’s mum, and has eaten, and knows the kids the way only we two know. And he is of the opinion that things are going to turn out just fine.

The next day, an alternative graduation scenario shyly comes to mind. A small grin, not vengeful but just relieved and triumphant and young. Rows and rows of parents swept up by a communal silent cry of pride. A tall boy on stage will look for us in the crowd and he’ll smile a bit and we’ll try to wave. And my husband will say I told you so.

The Cypriot cure.

Now testing against pessimism, melancholy, worry and self-pity in overwhelmed working mothers!

Something Borrowed

His name is Bruno and he was home alone today.

So we could borrow him!

The park was a lush green paradise of birdsong and sunshine filtered through a million leaves.

Bruno enjoyed the smell aspects of it.

And some womanising. Oh dear!

Cyprus is so gorgeous!

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And apparently, smells fabulous too.

The Last World

After the café and the swings you said, ”Mummy, is this the last world? After this one, will there ever be another one?”

Your innocent wondering may have been Super Mario inspired, but it stopped me cold in my tracks. All my guilty plane tickets, all my kilometres driven and all the plastic items I ever bought came over me right there, like a huge dirty tidal wave.

Of regret.

I am sorry I haven’t done more to save your last world, love. I don’t know how, or I do I guess, but it seems next to impossible as a choice. You don’t have to but I hope you can forgive me one day. I haven’t tried hard enough.

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There’s no other world for you honey, this is it. This is what I’m leaving you. It looks beautiful and peaceful today, but it’s going to become harder to live in.

I hope you’ll be strong enough, I hope you can stay kind and caring if things get difficult. I hope after it gets worse, it gets better. A lot better, better than we could ever design or plan for, or indeed make happen.

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We are not a great generation that saves you and your world. We are the bad guys: the selfish, the stubbornly ignorant and the lazy. The image-anxious. The corrupt and the power hungry.

I see you get to know the world around us, I can see how exciting and beautiful it is for you. I see you study the stars and I want to see them through your eyes. I want to see them through your kids’ eyes, and their kids’. I want them to study and stand on the rooftop and look at stars, because everything down here is fine, and they can – why couldn’t they?

‘There’s no other planet where people can live, dear’, I say gently, squeezing your little hand a bit tighter. But of course, your busy little mind has already moved on.

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Space Tag

Tonight we got some takeaway. It’s Sunday night and we are both a bit worse for wear.

One has muscle pain after running around in the cold evening breeze thinking they were 17.

The other has her usual number of worries, just because!

This week was the last week one unlucky stray kitten got to live. His short story ended under a heat lamp at the vet’s.

Next door to him three little former strays slept in a warm and cosy heap. To wake up again soon, curious and playful, for another lovely day.

This was the week when French Conversation was cancelled and we didn’t know that. Waiting, we covered everything from space travel to Cyprus problem.

This week our building shook violently with the pitter patter of four Darth Vaders playing some kind of a beastly space tag. One of the Darths had previously soothed a fading kitten but was now full of cheery fight again.

Like you want your kids to be, a while  after a disappointment.

It was when I woke up on Saturday and decided to contribute my five cents to the Cyprus question debate. My overture was met with a surprised and a tad exasperated look from the neighbouring pillow.

This one by my spouse who is a patient type

It was the week we froze in bed. Not so much because of the CyProb pillow talk but because it seems

summer is gone.

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