And we’re back.
We were only gone for three days, but the place has changed in that time – don’t ask me how. The furniture is the same, the rooms haven’t morphed into something other than what they were, and our pets are as healthy and happy as we left them – possibly more so, because our house sitters were wonderful and I suspect they’ve been spoilt.
Maybe that’s where the difference lies. Our lovely friends had left by the time we got home, leaving cleanliness, order, and the sense of their recent presence as parting gifts. I imagine that somehow their routines have infused the fabric of the place too, because – and this always happens when I leave and come back again – I’ve forgotten how things are done round here. I shall have to re-learn. It’ll take at least three days.
I have wonderful friends. And family. I’m lucky.
But the bar can always be raised, right? Right? We all went to a friend’s house the other day. Regular readers will know about my ongoing (whining about) mental health problems. It had been one of those weeks.
What is the best thing to do to help a friend who is struggling? I am rubbish at helping other people with their mental health – I know what it feels like, not how to help.
But this friend, she knew. She didn’t ask anything of me, not even my company. I was tucked up on a day bed, in their spare room, with my youngest, and a computer playing Spiderman and the Spiderverse. I had a power nap and managed to keep up with the story.
It was the best visit ever. Thanks guys!
My favourite bit of parenting is when the kids are getting along. I am delighted to report that, at the time of writing, and for the last week or so, they have been best pals!
Of course this means no one ever goes to sleep…
‘Carry on time’ is the perfect compromise between ‘your parents need some child-free time in the evenings’ and ‘but we’re not tiiiiiiiired.’ Sometimes it ends in tears (or punches), but it’s only when they’re really quiet I have to go and see what they’re up to.
It is a pleasure, getting to know these little people, watching them getting to know each other. It is even more pleasurable doing this from the sofa, watching Netflix with the cat. It’s not just the convenience, though, honest! Without my input, their relationship has the chance to grow.
I had agreed to go. Waking up at 5am with a headache, which developed into a migraine, then being sick just before I had to wake the children up and get them to school didn’t mean I was going to cancel.
In the car, Mr HB asked how I was. I told him the truth, the stress of my tiny insignificant worries leaking out in tears. We picked up a friend on the way, so I wiped my eyes and pulled myself together.
We got there, and I had a nice time. A small group of friends, celebrating, taking time out from their own lives to be there for someone else on a special day.
Postscript: later, I was reminded of the pains and worries carried by every other friend that had been there, talking, smiling, laughing – holding it together.
December again, and lots of us are in the middle of an insane whirl of activities that come with having school-aged children: nativity-lyrics-tickets this, shopping-bankruptcy that, tinsel-candy-cane this, special-magical-day-out that.
The pressure to remain joyful is intense: and the calendar looks like a story that’s been edited by three different people in four colours of pen. Of course we want to spend time with friends and family, find perfect gifts, wrap them beautifully, reach out to old friends with a card.
But please do remember to look after yourselves too.
And for those of you who won’t be as busy, for whatever reason, special tiny hugs to you. Yuletide can be difficult in lots of ways.
I wish you all a joyful and peaceful festive season. Looking forward to 2019 and more tinylife adventures.
tinylife will be back mid-January.
I’ve just got back from a trip to the homeland. It was short and very sweet, full of family celebration and dear friends, and I loved it. But I’m glad I’m back.
There must be a word for this feeling, because I’m sure it’s not just me. Here were the streets I’ve walked, the roads I’ve driven and the homes whose hearths have sustained me. I’ve lounged on these sofas, eaten at these tables, drunk from these glasses. That’s as it’s always been, but there’s something else now, a sense of displacement. Much as I love it, and as often as I return, there is no slot in that world for me to fit into. When, eventually, I move on from here, this will happen again.
I imagine that this is how ghosts feel, when they come to haunt us.
The Delights of Domesticity
There ARE actually one or two things that I appreciate about working from home. They include:
- Following the sunlight around from room to room as the sun arcs in the sky.
- Lavender dead-heading. It’s aromatic, repetitive and curiously calming.
- Pumelling the pillows when I’m angry. Plus the duvets too, for good measure!
- Drying the washing outside in the wind. It smells so much fresher than airing it on the radiators…
- Inviting friends around for dinner. The simpler the cuisine the better – so that I can keep my focus on the sizzling conversations we have.
- When Beloved cleans up uninvited. (Hmm. What’s his angle?)
- Having my own chair, which is MINE.
- Creating Penny’s Ironing Rules. Minimal ironing. Period.
- Nurturing next door’s cat. He’s Nero to me…
- Tracking the bats that flit about in the streets at moonrise.