From behind.

behindharbour

So many of my pictures are taken from behind.

I follow as you explore. Sometimes you are running full pelt, bare feet pounding against long grass, laughing. Sometimes you are just leading the way – your memories and directional sense so much better than mine.

Often it’s just a practical sort of thing. Sometimes I’m in front, sometimes you are. You have places to be and you trust you can get there.

behindguitarfar

I trust, too. Most of the time, anyway.

I try to trust myself most of all, because trusting the two of you has been one of the easiest things I’ve ever had to do. Not just with street smarts – though you both are savvy when out and about. (I guess the hellish few months when we started going on ‘walks’ at about eighteen months paid off – though the literal blood, sweat, and tears were intense at the time! We’ve never looked back, and neither of you has been in a pushchair or sling since, except when ill.)

But I remember when M was less than a year old, crying and crying. Neither of you ever cried for no reason, but on this one occasion I wondered. I could not figure out what was wrong, but I kept trying. And weirdly, I discovered a full sized spoon had slipped down the back of his onesie and was trapped.

That was the moment I think I consciously realised how much I trusted you both to know your own minds, to cry or shout or speak them out, for them to be logical and believeable.

behindrocks

And I don’t mind being behind you – literally and figuratively. I don’t need to always lead the way. I know if you have a question or a thought you’ll let me know. I know that you often discover things more vivid than I would have been able to lead you to, because you notice things I don’t. You make connections I marvel at.

So I sit back as you throw rocks. As you poke sticks into deep muddy puddles. I am sometimes right behind you, sometimes a bit further back.

behindashton#

My favourite picture of the two of you from when you were younger, that I must dig out, is when you were about nineteen months old. We were at a local private nature reserve, and you both just walked off. No fear, only joy, and you took exploration as your birth right. Your mummy and I sort of froze for a moment, and then this blistering joy spread through me, marking me forever.

Watching you confident in the world, witnessing your first major breaking away that was not uncontrollable toddler running/adult panic, well, it was powerful.

Don’t get me wrong. I like your faces.

I like when you want to be close to me, when you show so much consideration and place so much value on what I say.

But I think you do that, you listen when I speak, because I listen to you, too. Because I step back and just allow you to be the people you are, to wonder about the things you wonder about, because I don’t rush in with all the ‘answers’ and tell you how the world is. You can figure that sort of stuff on your own, much of the time.

behindedgeofocean

S called the place above ‘the edge of the ocean.’ You guys are poets, astronauts, artists. Engineers, extreme hikers, dancers.

While I suppose most of my pictures are of your faces, it is often these pictures from out and about, these pictures from behind, that I am drawn to. Is it accurate to call you leaders, because I’ll tell you the secret of what I really think:

You are who you are.

You are not practicing for ‘real’ life, for adulthood. You are not people in waiting.

You are here, now. You are yourself, and that is the most powerful secret, the best goal I think any human can aspire to. Authenticity, honouring the self (while respecting others and nature), being brave enough to claim your own creative space with no apologies.

May you keep in possession of your self, even when you are wondering who that is. I will be here, sometimes close enough to wrap my arms around you and lift you up, spinning you while you laugh and squeal my name. Sometimes further away – and sometimes you will feel uneasy and run back to me, and sometimes you will be too busy with your discoveries and your friends to wonder where I am.

I love you either way.

I will be here, watching and wishing I had half the knowledge and confidence of self that each of you has. I am learning how to be more me from watching you be you.

So thanks for that.

I mean it.

behindfaces

Duuuude.

Ah, I was spectacularly ill on Wednesday. I was thinking that my strep throat antibiotic experience had allowed it to morph into some other deadly illness, but then was reassured by M. He complained of tummy pain earlier in the week, which I didn’t realise might mean I’d be writhing in pain two days later. He cheerfully threw up twice – you’ve never seen a kid more excited to throw up and carry around an ice cream box in case it happened again.

And at 3 am this morning, S apparently started vomiting uncontrollably – handy the ice cream box was nearby, as the kids share a room. Suzy says S has been up since 3, getting sick again and again. She is totally fine now – I’ve been with her since seven, it is almost ten, and she is merry and joyful. I don’t doubt she’s been ill, but touch wood she’s obviously feeling better. M also says he is well.

The difference between four and thirty five is this: I’m obviously getting better, too, but I am sleeping like I’ve never slept before, and I am ready to snooze more at the drop of a hat. My kids may be able to run around half dressed outside throwing bouncy balls and having secret clubhouse meetings, whereas after about twenty minutes I’m ready for the robe and slippers again.

Tomorrow is Saturday.

Phew.

Like being loved unconditionally by a piece of fabric.

Reader, what is the current joy in my life? The revolution that is changing my day and will probably change the rest of my life?

It isn’t making up blues songs about reindeer while playing with glue. It’s not the moment of watching S attempt to write her name on her own for the first time. It’s not watching M grow in confidence enough to play Minecraft without me actually at the reins.

It isn’t fleece lined boots. Or the fact that as we have no place to be today, we can stay home (thank you universe).

IT IS MY ROBE. Or my dressing gown, if you prefer.

I’ve been crazily ill (sick enough to stay in bed all day and cry while watching Netflix, not sick enough that I couldn’t watch Netflix for thirteen straight hours) with strep throat. Took the decision to get antibiotics as it was a bad case and, yeah, I had scarlet fever as a kid and didn’t want to repeat that. Then I had a freaking allergic reaction to penicillin – it should be noted that my pal M also had one a couple of months ago. I blame him. Don’t you end up with some of your kids’ DNA floating around in your body as a result of pregnancy? I’m sure I read that somewhere…

So I’m off the penicillin and ON some alternatives that are The Pain Givers. You don’t want me to go into more detail than that. Trust me.

Today I felt pretty okay when I woke up. I showered, took 23738 years to comb out my hair that had turned into a giant dreadlock, put on normal clothes (okay, and pyjama bottoms. Big pink ones.) and came downstairs. Been playing with kids, then felt a bit chilly. Went upstairs to grab a sweatshirt and saw my thick robe.

SO I PUT IT ON.

There is no turning back.

This is the best experience I’ve ever had. It’s like being wrapped in a warming hug. Like the fluffiest blanket ever is gripping onto me of its own volition. It is magical and I don’t think I feel this way just because I’ve been ill.

No, I think I want to wear my robe every day. And pyjama bottoms, oy. When I was getting my first degree a loooonnng time ago, I wore pyjama bottoms every day. Suzy was particularly horrified when she was visiting once and I wore pj bottoms with rubber ducks all over them to the mall.

But S clearly has the right idea with this only wearing pjs thing. Even M is now into wearing pj tops. I think I am being pulled into that direction.

So

So

Comfy.

Happy Halloween!

halloween

S was a baby kitten who was also a witch – except her witch’s hat was too big. The skeleton thing is incidental…I was informed earlier in the month that witches only wear pyjamas, so we bought Halloween pyjamas. M is, of course, Enderman – though at the last minute we were informed that he is REALLY the red angry bird (the costume he has wanted all along, until a few weeks ago when Minecraft entered our lives) dressed as Enderman. His head looks misshapen here because it is thrown back!

Halloween was a jumble of excitement and tears.

My sister recently moved to London, much to our joy and my mother’s distress. The kids were bouncing off the walls from the moment they woke up…and their faces were a study of concentration and barely controlled excitement at the train station.

We headed over to Suzy’s mum in the afternoon, ate some Halloween treats, then got suited and booted for the big mission. S began to cry and complain of being freezing about 28 seconds before it was time to get her costume on. I touched her belly and she was on fire.  Nevertheless, she didn’t want to miss trick or treating.

Here in the UK, Halloween is very different than the US. My sister was totally blown away that we had to hunt for houses with lit pumpkins outside or in the window, or other obvious ‘we welcome trick or treaters’ clues. Maybe one house in fifteen had them. M has developed a very British outlook, exclaiming, ‘This is brilliant! We found two houses!’

We managed a few more, then Suzy took S home as S really wanted to finish as she was unwell. Erica and I stayed out with M, who was totally into hunting for Halloween houses.

The evening ended with S in a daze on my chest while everyone ate, then swapping over to Suzy while I ate. She passed out, M bounced off the walls, we came home.

All in all, probably the same sort of experience that happened in families across the country! (Including the illness bit. Don’t they always get sick when it is a really bad time to do so?)