Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy or an accurate assessment of reality, either way the first day back after the holidays hit hard. It seemed that the magic had well and truly left the building.
While Dave was around, nap times didn’t even rate on the stress radar. If the kids slept well, great! If not, oh well, let’s go do something fun! The problem is, Dave is the one who rips off my blinders and allows me to see the broader picture. When it is just me and the kids, I struggle to see beyond the ‘this kid has not slept for the required number of minutes I unrealistically expected them to’ conundrum.
I’m also grieving the loss of Mondays. For over two years now, I have been taking the kids to my mother in law’s unit so we can spend the day together. The kids love the change of scene and I love the heart to heart chats that we have amidst the chaos. Lately, my sister in law, Julie, has been joining us with her daughter and it has been so nice watching the cousins play together. As fate would have it, though, Pat has been obligated to take up an extra full day looking after other grandchildren, so it means that we will no longer be able to make it without putting way too much burden onto her…. I haven’t been able to talk about it yet without tearing up. Having that rhythm in my life meant so much to me and it really helped getting out of the house and into another zone, particularly at the start of each week.
My mum came over yesterday and it was really great timing. She received the full torrent of tears and emotion and was a peaceful rock of perspective. When she could see my (ill-disguised) grumpiness at the kids, she sent me out for a coffee and some fresh air. Tears rolled down my face most of the journey, but it was cleansing and healing to get them out. I wandered the aisles at the grocery store and appreciated being able to make selections without answering random questions and yelling out ‘don’t touch that’ or ‘slow down’ or ‘say sorry for bumping into that lady’. When I opened the door to return home, I was able to see the setting with new eyes again. We all headed to the library together and had lots of fun choosing books (me), resetting the computers (Hudson), slobbering all over the floor mat (Ivy) and snuggling up in Nanny’s lap for a story (Eli).
A few days in, now, and the magic has begun to return. Not in a vibrant, cartwheel sense, but a soft, pulsing beat that weaves its way through the banal and whispers for you to pay attention.
One of the books we borrowed from the library has captured our collective imagination and Eli has asked to read it over and over again. Entitled ‘The Fierce Little Woman and the Wicked Pirate’ (written by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Sarah Davis), it is the charming tale of a lonely red-headed woman who lives in a house at the end of a jetty and knits socks for sea worn sailors. One day a pirate brashly seeks refuge in her house and she shows she is more than a match for his bravado. When he finally shows his softer side, she relents and lets him in from the storm. Before long they are married and have expanded the house on the jetty and have three children together! The pictures are absolutely magical and subtly lure you into the enchanting world.
Books like this are so powerful in reminding me of the magic of childhood. It’s like I’m a little girl again, wishing and dreaming about my life when I’m finally a grown up. Then, as the last word lingers in the air, I realise I have more than I could possibly wish for already in my beautiful family. I hug the kids close and bury my nose in their soft hair, breathing in their scent and being wordlessly thankful for the gift of family.
At twilight tonight we traipsed through the Eucalyptus trees and shrubs, lugging bikes and a pram so that we could have a family workout. Dave and I have reluctantly accepted our lack in this area and have downloaded an app that will gradually enable us to be able to run more than 100 meters without collapsing and pleading for mercy… though this is probably more an accurate reflection of my fitness capacity rather than Dave’s! The sun was setting in pink streaks through the sky and the air was remarkably fresh, but Eli’s laughter echoed through the air as he sped alongside us on his bike, grinning and beating us with glee. Hudson glided up and down at his own pace, and Ivy got to have her own special ‘ride’ in the pram as Dave jogged along with her. Now, as the searing pain through my lungs and every limb of my body is merely a memory, it almost seems idyllic and a worthy rhythm to incorporate into our lifestyle. We’ll soon see if it will become more than an aspiration.
As another term begins and we start to reform our habits and rhythms, I have to remind myself to look for the muted magic of the mundane. It seems to be quietly hovering there, behind the film of the humdrum, just waiting to be discovered.