She’s so lovely…

A couple of weeks ago we sorted out some boxes to go in the loft and in a dusty corner of said loft I spotted my old CD collection. Well that had to get dragged down the ladder and then Little J got educated in some of my glorious (and not so glorious) musical history. It was fun, LJ got dizzy from dancing and it made me really nostalgic. Anything that thumps the senses really can transport you…a smell, a taste, a sound. It’s silly, only a few years ago I could be found at a lot of gigs, and festivals. A few years ago I used to listen to radio stations other than Radio 4.

I had some bits and bobs of driving to do today without LJ so I ditched his nursery rhymes, rejected Women’s Hour and stuck Scouting for Girls first album in the CD player.

Lalala…’she’s flirty, turned thirty…ain’t that the age a girl gets really dirty…’ . Um? It’s woman actually. And yes, if by dirty you mean porridge in my hair and playdoh on my jeans.

Oh. I felt old. And not in a good, wise, calm way. Instead in a sort of ‘I think I’ve let myself go and I don’t know where I’ve gone or where I’m going’ way.

It’s a feeling that has been steadily growing in recent months as I’ve been more and more becoming just (although I’m loathe to use that word) a mother. Despite tussling with and challenging stereotypes with my thoughts, my outward place in society tells a different story to most people.

Technically I’m only as much of a mother today as I was on day one of LJ’s life and just as much a mother as my working friends BUT I’ve chosen to go all in; I’ve gone way past the standard maternity leave period….my stall is very much set out as ‘mother’ at the moment. I wonder what LJ will think about me. Will he be proud of my past (and hopefully future) career outside the home? Will he be proud that I may not be as successful in that career as I may otherwise have been because I made a choice? Will he see the feminist in me or will he see a conforming to type?

The feeling also extends to the superficial stuff that goes with the stereotype of a full time mother. I do not have the time or inclination (with a toddler) to go shopping so I’m living in old clothes (actually still some maternity ones, oops!). I don’t spend much time in the morning on my hair, except to do the requisite check for greys. And I’ve realised I either don’t bother with any makeup of a day or I’m wearing more and more than I used to. ie. I wake up each morning looking like I need to wear more and more!

I think I’ve passed into the phase of not ‘getting’ youth stuff as well. That hairstyle, those jeans, slang and social media. I don’t think it helps that Andrew’s job creates an artificial sense of being older than you are. He has enjoyed a long career as a player and is a senior member of the team. He is likely to be looking towards retirement in the next few years. He is THIRTY TWO. By association I am now viewed by the majority of his colleagues as old enough to be their mum. Not helped by Andrew passing on some of my bafflement at their antics. ‘But they’ll think I’m an old fuddy-duddy’ I wail. ‘Oh don’t worry about that, you probably are’ is Andrew’s response. Humph, thanks! Easy for him to say too…he’s not (yet) soul searching his identity.

It could all be worse though… I’m ambitious, hopeful, and excited for the future. I assume I’ll go back to my career and be super successful, I’m just not sure when. I also assume I’ll wear something other than old jeans and trainers at some point which I assume will happen when I care enough to go shopping at some point. As for what LJ will think of me when he’s older, I honestly don’t know. I suppose as long as he sees a happy, loving and confident me that’s enough, isn’t it?

So it’s a work in progress but I’ve concluded from my musical nostalgia trip that:
a) I really really like Radio 4
b) I might need to spend a little bit more time remembering who I am and remembering that being a mother doesn’t change that. While I’m at it maybe I should take LJ to a festival this summer!


The world is puddle-wonderful…

The first Swifts arrived around our house this week…always a happy time. With their joyous screams and soaring aerial acrobatics they evoke in Andrew and I a contented anticipation of long summer evenings and hazy summer days.

Since becoming pregnant and having a baby the changing seasons and all that they bring have resonated with me so much more than they ever have done before. I’m wondering if I have managed to enter into the horticultural time of baby land…

Andrew and I talked about this a lot before having LJ. We first came across it in one of the books we turned to for support in preparing for the birth…Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke.  The concept is, roughly(!), that we live in industrial time with schedules and external demands on our daily and nightly patterns. A baby isn’t yet entrenched in this world of routine so everything about pregnancy and life with a newborn is set to the rhythm of biological needs and primitive demands…the baby lives on horticultural time and therefore a parent is at a great advantage if they can accept and be on horticultural time too!

I don’t know really whether I have successfully done this…actually having a baby has made me realise how much I like routine and knowing what to expect each day and night. But I think having a baby has also forced me to accept that this can’t always be the case in life and that’s ok too. I certainly enjoy the pace of a toddler…the slow walking, the frequent stopping, the sudden burst of energy to rush to a stone, a daisy, a puddle.

So maybe I’ve unlocked my inner toddler and with it a curiosity and enchantment with the natural world. Or maybe in the disorderly world of pregnancy and baby-rearing I have taken comfort in the predictable routine of the turning of the seasons. Or perhaps I have just spent less time at a desk and more time playing outside.

Whatever the reason, we are looking at another season’s change. The returning Swifts are our farewell to spring. And what a glorious spring it has been!

when faces called flowers float out of the ground….

E. E. Cummings

when faces called flowers float out of the ground
and breathing is wishing and wishing is having-
but keeping is downward and doubting and never
-it’s april(yes,april;my darling)it’s spring!
yes the pretty birds frolic as spry as can fly
yes the little fish gambol as glad as can be
(yes the mountains are dancing together)

when every leaf opens without any sound
and wishing is having and having is giving-
but keeping is doting and nothing and nonsense
-alive;we’re alive,dear:it’s(kiss me now)spring!
now the pretty birds hover so she and so he
now the little fish quiver so you and so i
now the mountains are dancing, the mountains)

when more than was lost has been found has been found
and having is giving and giving is living-
but keeping is darkness and winter and cringing
-it’s spring(all our night becomes day)o,it’s spring!
all the pretty birds dive to the heart of the sky
all the little fish climb through the mind of the sea
all the mountains are dancing;are dancing)