The wee one came downstairs looking like he’d been punched in the eye, and I would usually blame his older sibling – of course! – but a) they haven’t quite graduated to actual punching yet, and b) I’d seen it before so I knew…
it was a stye.
I know he would’ve been capable of going to school. It isn’t even impacting on his vision (he is playing Minecraft next to me as I type). But he was so sad when he woke up, and school finishes at lunchtime on Fridays. It might be a stress thing, he’s had an eventful couple of weeks at a new school. Or not.
Am I a lax parent?
I’m getting a bit bored of judging myself, to be honest. He’ll be fine, and I doubt it’ll impact on his overall education. He’s only 9!
There is no future in looking sideways.
Do not pay attention when people look sideways to your path: do not start to compare yourself to others. How can you compare a palm leaf and a pine needle? And yet, both carry life, are beautiful, bring green, bring oxygen, bring peace to the forest, the desert.
We are here to do our work. Not to wonder whether we should do our work, or leave it to other people that we think are better, braver, luckier, richer.
No one else can make what we can make, not in the way that we could make it. A twig can’t be a leaf, a branch can’t be the tree’s trunk.
Your stories have value. Your creative works have substance.
You are not a good judge of the quality of your own work.
We used to start our Christmas shopping
on the September long weekend we get here.
Until the year we stood at the mirror in the hall
and I said ‘they could share a room, anyway.’
Until the year the midwives had said ‘a line is a line is a line,’
then the bleeding started.
Until the year we had been a tiny little bit pregnant
so we went to Holy Island
now we weren’t pregnant at all, you took the toddler for a walk
so I could sit on a dune and cry.
Until the year we were pregnant again by October.
Every September weekend, I remember
the tiny little bit of pregnant I was,
over that long weekend: the anniversary of you,
you tiny little bit that never came to anything.
We never start our Christmas shopping in September.
You are a great big girl’s blouse.
This is you.
You are fiddly collars, you are pearl-shaped, impossible to handle buttons, you are flowery prints, or patterns of tiny embroidered kittens. Your cuffs float in soup.
You are restricted from running, from stretching, from growing, from being taken seriously, from working beyond middle management. You are ten per cent more expensive. You are baby sick on the shoulder. You are stained with orange squash. Whether crumpled or ironed you are still not fit to be seen.
You are more to choose from, but you only come in sizes to fit washboard stomachs (big is a deceptive descriptor). You are designed for the male gaze. You are ironed – to within an inch of your life. You are static and starched. You are floaty and flimsy.
You are tied at the back.
My house is waiting.
For the silence that descends. Like golden syrup, like the homemade quilted blanket heavy with blue flowers,
the silence of no other people.
For the mythical day when everything is either on a shelf, in a drawer, or nestled in a cupboard.
For the pears to ripen and fall, ripen and fall.
For the cat to complete his rotation of sleeping places: bed upstairs, bed downstairs, sofa, office chair, other office chair, bench in the kitchen, camouflaged against a black coat on the floor.
For someone to either read all of the books, or put all of the books in the goddam charity shop.
For the sun to warm the mossy patches outside the front door:
the ones the sun never reaches.
For two children watching a red moon in their pyjamas, shivering in the dark.