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Wednesday, 16 May 2012
It all started when we drove past some men chopping down a tree. For some time we had been talking about how the trees lose their leaves in winter, and the boys had thought it was sad (Miss Snoopy too, but she calls it "shame-ies". Really showing our heritage there!). I was trying to explain that it is not sad, that the trees need time to rest for the winter so that when the spring comes, they can put out their new leaves and look beautiful and green again. But the chopping down of a tree was another matter totally.
"What will happen to the tree when it gets cut down?" asked the boys. "Will it grow again?"
Having recently had a fish die on us, it was relatively easy to go there again. "No," I explained, "the tree dies, just like the fish did."
"But what happens to it?" they persisted.
"I think that its body, all the bits that we can see, go to become compost for the earth and other things can grow from it," I said. "But we like to believe that the other part of it, the bit that is spirit, goes back to God who created it and becomes a part of Him again."
They were silent after this and I imagined that we had fully addressed a difficult philosophical point.
Later in the week, when I had put them all to bed, Sam was really upset, and, unlike at other times, when he howls his frustrations to the world, he chose to cry quietly in his bed until I heard him. I crawled under the covers with him and held him close, and he stopped sobbing. "Tell me the story of when we were little?" he asked me in a snuffly little voice.
Whispering, because I didn't want to wake the other two, I told him his favourite story:
"When you boys were very small, you had such soft, downy hair on your head that every time you lay on my lap, I would pat you little heads for hours and hours. I loved the feeling of your silky little heads under my hands. After a while, because of all the patting, all your hair wore off and you didn't have even the smallest hair on your head. But then your hair grew back, thicker than before." We talked and cuddled for a while more and he fell asleep.
The next night, the Sweetpea came in late after I had put everyone to bed. I did not see it, but the light was glinting off his now-balding head, and obviously the boys took note.
"Have you been patting Daddy too much?" asked Sam, referring to the Sweetpea's bald spot. I laughed and said no, I hadn't.
Then Paddy piped up in a sad little voice: "Daddy's hair must have all gone back to God," he said dramatically.
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Mother's day is a great time for reflection - from all sides. For me, lying in bed with my three littlies nestled up against my body, I realised that life is indeed different nowadays. I wondered what it would have been like for me to be lying there alone - what factors of my life would be radically different without those precious littlies? What if I had never had children, or couldn't? My heart quails at the very thought! But I am sure that the following things would have been vastly different on Mother's day:
I would probably have slept in. At least until nine, and then got up to go to the loo. Alone, and without an audience of spectators, all encouraging and excited to see what would happen. Without knowing it, perhaps lonely and sad.
The reality: me sitting pretty on the throne while having three expectant faces surrounding me asking "What are you doing?" and wanting to see the results.
I would have scrounged for breakfast somewhere. I might have had a piece of toast, which I would have eaten by myself. Every part of it.
The reality: I lay in bed, with three little ones looking expectantly at every mouthful of the special mango and yogurt cocktail that they had made together with their dad in order to surprise me. Did I actually eat any of said cocktail? I believe that it was scoffed up to the last drop by my hungry brood. And the joy on those small faces as I made a huge fuss about how tasty it was - priceless!
I might have drawn myself a long, luxurious bath and spent a few hours lying in it, only topping up the hot when it got too cold. I might have read a magazine. The whole of it. Without it getting wet or thrown in the bath.
The reality: as soon as they see me relaxing in the bath, it is like a super fast strip to get into the bath too. Then it is a mess of bubbles, cars, water all over the floor, wet hair, soap in eyes, soggy bread rolls in the bath, towels pulled in on top of us, wet bath mats and slippery floors. Bliss! What could be better than that? No magazine came close.
I would not have thought twice about buying something I needed/didn't need and spoiling myself just that little bit. Invariably expensive, and decadently impulsive.
The reality: Little presents made from small rounds of wood, straws and buttons, all glued lovingly to make a present for mama; artworks made from leftover telephone notepaper and sweetie wrappers; little clay boats decorated with feathers and sticks. Wow - if I thought I was spoiled before - just look at me now! Nothing could prepare me for the way in which I would treasure these priceless artefacts of their childhoods.
And then a day spent relaxing, reading books, and not doing anything else much of interest.
The reality: Getting a "mother's day cake" baked for me - which involved me running to the shops to amass the ingredients, mixing them all together and holding the mixer for eager little hands, putting the resultant over-beaten cake mix into the oven, and trying to fend off the hands, spoons and tongues while trying to ice the result.
All in all, the most perfect day I could imagine. And not one book or minute of relaxation in the whole of it. Who would have it any other way?
Thursday, 3 May 2012
The Sweetpea often has to travel to other parts of the country to do locums when there are not enough obstetricians to cover, and occasionally, we get to go with him. It is a time of not having to worry about keeping the house clean and tidy, because they put us up in a motel, which, although not the lap of luxury, is still a great deal better than having to clean up after five messy people.
We usually go away for the weekend, and because there are very rarely any call-outs for the Sweetpea, it ends up being a luxuriously relaxing family weekend away in a little-known part of the country.
Well, mostly relaxing. The Sweetpea had to do a ward round early on the Saturday morning, so I chose to get up late (about eight - wow!!!) and spent a wonderful thirty whole minutes in the bath getting all steamy and relaxed. To fully understand this story, it is vital that you know that the motel room we stay in is actually a suite, with two bedrooms both opening off a central bathroom, a small lounge-dining room, and a tiny kitchen - all you could actually need, really. The main bedroom looks over the South Park, a lovely flat grassy stretch where people walk their dogs and kids can play. On the Saturday in question, I lazed in the bath, and reluctantly decided that it was time to emerge. I felt around on the bathroom sink for my glasses (I am really short-sighted without them) but couldn't seem to locate them anywhere, so eventually gave up and strolled naked (come on - like you've never done it!) into the bedroom to get dressed. After taking a leisurely look in my suitcase and eventually deciding on an outfit for the day, I took my time getting dressed, and as I was putting on my jersey, the glasses fell out of the pocket. "Yay, found them," I thought, as I put them on. My joy was extremely short-lived. As soon as I put them on, I realised that while I had been in the bathroom, the boys had taken the opportunity to open the curtains of the bedroom. Nice and wide. And now I had a lovely view of the park, where about 150 small kiddies were playing soccer, with an assortment of fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, grannies and grandpas and the coaches of six Little Dribbler league clubs looking on. Even more distressing, they also had a wonderful view of me. And had been having a wonderful view of me for my entire naked promenade from bath to room, my reverse-strip routine, and my eventual mortification when I discovered this vital fact.
The Sweetpea had by this time returned from the hospital and was standing in the lounge looking out of the window onto the melee of Little Dribblers running around screeching and kicking outside. "Wow," he called to me, "it's like a free-for-all out there!"
"Yes," I thought sadly to myself, considering all the spectators outside my bedroom window, "in more ways than one, Sweetpea, in more ways than one."