Wednesday, 30 March 2016

EASTER AT THE FARM

I'm trying to take more photos at the moment. During the last few trips to my Mum's farm I have tried to capture some of the work with the livestock. The farm is where I grew up and a special place for us. It's definitely somewhere I think of when I consider what I am going to miss when we move to France.
The weather over the Easter weekend was incredibly changeable ; raging wind and rain to bright sunny spells, hail storms and perfect morning light streaming inside through cracks between curtains. It made for an opportunistic egg hunt during a drier spell and a hurried rounding up of the sheep to get the lambs inside out of the driving wind and rain.










Sunday, 20 March 2016

THE LAST DAY OF WINTER

This winter has been my first with two children. And it has been full of fun and we've had wonderful times but it has also been hard, like the feeling of walking through deep mud and not quite having your balance. For me, being at home full time with my children is a continuous challenge. I crave more adult company, time spent without little hands clawing at my hair or chest or toddler feet standing on me so as to better reach my face to pull it around to theirs. I've looked dispairingly at snotty noses wiping on my shoulder or the umpteenth pile of laundry in the corner and thought that this is all a bit shit. I've wanted to be able to drink a long awaited cup of tea without Ira trying to dip her hand into the cup or Linny interrupt it because she's not managed to get to the potty on time, again. When I talk about these moments with friends I often make light of them, because they are funny in retrospect, or just that tales of 'happy chaos' are easy listening for friends who I want to make smile. But actually these demands on my time and body and attention can leave me feeling empty, exhausted and sad. It's just there's not too much time for reflection so I don't always realise.

One motivation for me to begin writing a blog was to try and write honestly about the more difficult aspects of life and in particular motherhood. To not project a false image of an idyllic 'lifestyle' with beautiful children, like a package, beautifully wrapped in flattering filters making me look less tired and the sky more blue. I have a terrible, unhealthy habit of seeing these pictures and forgetting that these are snapshots of lives as complex as my own and feeling inadequate.

I set myself the task of being honest and honouring life's patchwork of feelings and emotions and experiences and not just make it all look great. Sometimes things are hard, sad or unpleasant and sometimes things are beautiful, fun and perfect, and sometimes it's a bit of both.

This last week has definitely been the latter and has led me to think about something I read a few months ago. It was a feature in the adult supplement of Linny's Pomme d'Api magazine and it asked the reader to what extent they nurtured four elements of who they are : Mere, Maman, Amoureuse and Femme (or Pere, Papa, Amoureux and Homme). The article was very much about how easy it is to not give equal attention to these roles and to lose touch with the parts 'femme' and 'amoureuse' as the sheer engery required to fulfil the roles as a mother and mummy all too often take over. I don't generally like 'labelling' as I think it can be reductive and brush over the shades and nuances of who we are. It can lead people to make misguided assumptions based on their understanding of a word and not see who somebody really is. However, earlier this week I wrote a list of different aspects of who I feel I am, was, would like to be and found it really helpful in trying to escape from, in that moment, what felt like my singular identity as a mother and care giver : Adventurer, carer, lover, writer, rager...

So my resolution after this pondering is to nuture more of myself, to set my daughters the example of a woman who is made up of many parts and who gives time each of these parts. And, in doing so I think I will delight even more in the moments of magic my daughters bring and the overwhelming, intoxicating love I have for them.

These are some of the things I am going to try to do every few days for myself.
  • listen to song that moves me
  • look at a photograph, piece of art that inspires me
  • read writing that provokes me 
  • call/ text/ write to a friend
  • do some form of unambitious exercise 

I think this is all something I need to bear in mind ever more so over the coming months as the big move to France creeps closer and we frantically try to see everyone, visit everywhere and pack everything. At the moment I have managed to only have a fortnightly breakdown about the move and I'm trying to keep it at that, for Florent's sake. Hopefully the beginning of Spring and these new resolutions will help me to keep my balance a bit better...

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

SPRINGTIME PART 2: GETTING OUTSIDE


A few days of sunshine and I feel incredibly refreshed. At this time of year I feel I am waiting for Spring; the warm sun, the brilliant green on the trees and flowers bursting from the earth injects me with renewed life and energy. Trampled and muddy park corners littered with cigarette butts and beer bottles burst into floral patchworks and children's noses don't need to be wiped quite so often. It's a sign of long hot summer days to come.
 









In January I'd collected Christmas trees left to await bin men so we had a big blaze with them in the back garden to mark Spring. I think we were a little premature, officially Spring is over two weeks away still and before the fire warmed us we were frozen to the bone, trying resist the urge to run back inside for a hot cup of tea and a radiator.










We have coaxed Linny out of the house a few times (the winter seems to have given her a great attachment to being inside) to try and inspire her once again about the great outdoors. She has been scribbling chalk on pavements, learning how to use the Kelly Kettle to brew homegrown mint tea and scooting about on her balance bike. We sowed our first seeds of the year this weekend which felt very exciting as we hope to take some of these plants with us to France for harvest later in the year.






For Ira, these past few bright days have been some of the first as a baby big enough to be able to explore by herself. Last summer there were blissful times outside lying peacefully taking in the breeze or the sunshine and sounds but now she shuffles around able to reach out and take handfuls grass, clamber up plant pots and eat far too much soil. It is so exciting to see her begin to discover nature and enjoy being part of it.