Celebrations

If there’s one thing that is really fine about having a larger than average family (and, seriously, there is more than one fine thing), it is the number of celebrations we get to enjoy.

We have the usual: Christmas, Easter, Hallowe’en, Guy Fawkes (have reservations on this one),Hogmanay, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s day, Father’s Day, Wedding Anniversary, May Day, Landemer Day, the Fair Fortnight (which rarely is) and, of course, birthdays.

With nine birthdays a year plus associated boyfriends/girlfriends/fiancés/extended family we, as a family, eat a lot of cake.

We pretty much cover every month of the year, at least once.

So, we’ve got lots to celebrate.  Lots of indoor parties.

Which is just as well, ‘cos the weather is shite!

Reaching out to Mum

Right. This is just getting ridiculous.

Let me state quite clearly…….. I did not come onto this site to be everyone’s mum.

OK?

Got that?

I am not your mum.

I love you.

I care about you.

I want you to happy.

I want you to be comfortable in your own soul.

I hurt if you hurt.

I feel what you feel.

I want to soothe your ailments.

Does that make me your Mum?

No. It makes me human.

Your mum is already out there..

Maybe she needs you to reach out to her?

I don’t know.

I really, really don’t know.

No kidding.

But.

If your mum, for whatever reason (And it better be a really good reason. Don’t give me any crap about how hard she is on you, or how she makes you do chores. Sob. Sob.), really is not there for you then, OK, I give in.

I don’t seriously need any more children. Really, I don’t. Although a gorgeous little baby would not be unwelcome. (Don’t go there. You’re too old. Stop it. Be a granny. Eventually.)

I hurt.

I mean. I really hurt.

I cannot bear the pain that children experience, without wanting, in some way, to alleviate it.

But. I am not your Mum. She is out there. Somewhere. Probably wondering about you.

Reach out.

Too often the child is forced to be the adult. But, sometimes, it is worth it.

Reach out.

In my belief, it is a rare woman who is not moved by their own child.

I qualify.

It is a rare parent who is not moved by their own child.

I either have been very lucky or very blessed to have the love of a good man. (And I use ‘good’ selectively).

So many hurts. So much suffering.

Seriously, I did not enrol to embrace what I encounter daily.

But.

But.

But.

I will never turn my back on a soul that is suffering.

Please, I beg you, find another way. A better way.

Leave me out of this equation if you can.

But.

But.

But.

If you exhaust all, and I mean all, avenues for comfort and understanding, I will not turn my back on you.

I made  that promise to myself a long time ago.

And it holds good.

Seriously, I did not come here for this.

I do not want this.

I want to explore me. Not you. Not you and your problems.

But, I promise you, if you have exhausted all avenues before you, I will not ignore you.

Please try, on your own terms, first.

Please.

We are all souls looking to be understood.

And everything I said I qualify with the right you have to seek help where you can find it. And the duty I have to provide it where I can.

First, turn to mum.

If that fails, I humbly ask you to accept that I will stand in her stead until she is in a position to hold you and comfort you as all mothers should.x

Sharing

I’ve had a great two days doing nothing much. Sat on my bum for most of them and browsed this site. Checked out loads of blogs and I am in awe at the variety and heartfelt shares. I feel as if I have met people I would never otherwise have met just by being here.

Sometimes, my life is so busy with family and work I don’t take the time to ‘stop and stare’. The nothing much, as it turns out, has been pretty something. Thanks.x

Sunday Up The Braes

Sunday comes.

We fetch our summer buckets; gaily coloured, red, blue, yellow and green. In a while, the plastic pails will hold Autumn’s fruits. Dad holds hands with one or other of us, alternating as each child takes a turn to race ahead. We skip along, stopping to check the hedgerows, trying to spot the nests that are hidden there. And, when we do, a proud cry goes up.

‘I’ve found one!’

We count the eggs but do not touch. We have been warned. None of us wants to be responsible for the mother bird’s non-return. Dad’s previous instructions are always bidden; his wisdom heeded, if not always completely understood.

We examine the markings on the eggs and note their colour. Dad identifies them. Sometimes we are proud to remember their names from earlier lessons. We scan the skies for the parents and wait quietly some way off to see if any bird spotted will return to the nest while we watch.

‘They never go too far away,’ says Dad. ‘They protect their young.’

The air is fresh and there is a crispness that makes it pleasant to take deep breaths.

‘Breathe deeply,’ says Dad, ‘in through your nose and out through your mouth. It’s good for you.’

We all inhale deeply and the smell of manure sails down tubes to eager lungs. Two or three deep breaths render us dizzy. One of us starts to turn in circles, arms outstretched, going madly round; adding in a fun way to the light-headedness of the moment.

In a twirl of excitement, we reach the woods and our first activity is to retrieve our home-made swing; hidden in the undergrowth on a previous week. We always expect someone else to have found it. We are always pleased to discover that they have not.

Dad ties the long rope to one of our favourite trees. Legs astride the swing’s strong branch, we take turns. We throw our heads back laughing, shouting for a turn, laughing in turn. We swing back and forth and round and round; sometimes pushing, sometimes being pushed. We swing until the fun in doing so is exhausted. The moment of completeness coincides with Dad calling on us. It is time to light the fire.

Collecting twigs is a competition. Are they dry? Will they burn? I’ve brought most. Look at me. I’ve done well. Dad’s praises are limited, directed and precise.

He smokes his pipe and leans against a suitable-sized rock; his legs outstretched to the fire we are preparing. We place the kindling in the middle of the stones already selected and positioned in a neat circle. Dad has previously shown us how to light a fire. Little bits of dried grass catch the flame, while gentle blowing helps it along. Soon the twigs burn and the smell …….I remember it still.

 

Every time I smell wood burn, I think of Dad and those days up the braes. Childish feet walking to a known destination where freedom, fun and adventure unfolded under Dad’s sparse but timely advices.

How I wanted one of the penknives my brothers used, to whittle little twigs to pointed ends that then pierced the potatoes Dad always magicked from hidden pockets.

We roasted those potatoes on our little fire. The boys, who were older, were permitted to turn them with their pointed sticks while my sister and I enviously watched this grown-up activity and wondered when our moment would come.

The potatoes burned nicely on the outside while eventually softened enough inside to eat with tentative fingers. We slugged milk, bought for pennies from the nearby farm. Creamy milk and hot potatoes hit stomachs only aware of hunger pangs when the activity stopped. No thought was given to whether the milk had been pasteurised or not or whose germs we shared in the communal drinking.

Sometimes Dad brought his billy-can and we shared sips of his tea, made from boiling water pilfered from a cattle trough. I was afraid of the cows, sure that they resented my unsuccessful forays at their watering hole. On more than one occasion I had to be rescued by one brother or other. While I stood transfixed by a mucous-laden cow, one of them would fetch the water, patronisingly reassuring me that the cow would not hurt me.

Even after eating, the day was still not over. My brothers carved their names in a broken-down tree, alongside an earlier week’s initials. The tree was our friend and plaything. Lying on its side, from whatever disaster had befallen it; its roots were exposed in a spreading mass. Sufficient exertion on our parts raised its purpose to a magnificent see-saw. Living trees were forbidden us. Nothing else was. There was only one rule. Do not hurt anything. That one rule enfolded us and all of nature in a protective embrace. And so we played freely.

We jumped burns, found special stones and leaves and spread all our treasures out for Dad’s perusal and identification. We only partly took in his words; understanding to follow at another time.

We scattered soil onto the dwindled fire to completely extinguish its living flame. We hid the swing again. Penknives were already closed and we trod the homeward journey.

Now birds were warming eggs in nests already spotted and not. Our bramble buckets were half-empty, the contents already mostly consumed earlier in the day. Dessert before dinner. Etiquette unbound. No silly rules to be observed. Just one rule; respecting the natural order of life. And that one was strict.

Dad’s walks up the braes were an adventure, giving Mum a break with younger siblings only to be attended to. The dinner she had prepared was always eaten with less relish than her efforts deserved. Stomachs full of brambles, potatoes and milk could not enthuse. Eventually Mum learned to abandon the Sunday dinner rule on such days. A plate of home-made soup was more than sufficient.

Faces rosy. Hands dirty. Smiles wide. Sunday bath-time followed.

 

                                                                                                                        

The Prodigal Son/Daughter – Revisited

The Prodigal Son/Daughter  (11-10-07)

There was once a woman who was left to raise her children on her own. She worked hard to try to make sure that the absence of a father in their lives would not mean that they went without. She gave them guidance and love and watched over them as if with the careful eyes of two parents.

Her youngest child got into a bad crowd and started to drink although he was too young to do so. He came home frequently too drunk to speak, except words of hurt and violence. He missed school and government bodies started to look closely at the parenting skills of the mother. They recognized that she was doing her best as her elder child was not giving her the same worries. They offered support and intervention but nothing seemed to penetrate the sense of the younger child.

Things went from bad to worse. Exam results were no good, attendance at school was at an all-time low and the police had even come calling; threatening her child with an anti-social behaviour order.

The mother cried and pleaded and prayed. One night, while the son was out drinking with some friends, they got into a fight with another crowd and some people were badly hurt. The younger child was stabbed in the leg and found by the police and taken to hospital.

The mother was called and rushed to the hospital where she kept a vigil by her son’s side until he awoke.

When he did he looked at his mother’s face and into her eyes and wept for the hurt he had caused her and the life he was leading.

On his release from hospital he went home and began to change his ways. His mother rewarded him with a laptop which she paid for so that he could study more easily and have another interest.

The elder son was angry at this and said,

‘You’re always saying how hard it is to manage on what you’ve got coming in. I give you what I can but he’s never given you a penny. Now you’ve taken out credit to buy something for him he doesn’t deserve. How is that fair?’

His mother held his two hands between hers and said,

‘You’ve never given me a moment of unnecessary worry. Your character is strong and with purpose. Your brother lost the plot for a long time and I thought he would end up in prison or dead. He’s with us again as he used to be – stronger now for what he has experienced. You both have all my love always. But when one needs me more than another, at a given time, it is that one whose needs I best try to fulfill. It takes nothing away from you and gives him the chance of a new life. And us too. For what would our lives have been with the loss of a son and a brother?’

The elder son cried and held his mother to him , understanding better the meaning of love.

Letter to Mum

(7/2/10)

Dear Mum,

I can’t give this to you or send it but maybe if I write something down it will help me and, if I can clarify my thoughts and feelings, I’ll be able to talk to you.

There’s a hole in me that’s you-shaped. I miss knowing you; knowing that you’re down the road, physically present. I miss not being able to show my love for you. The love I had and have for you – only for you – has nowhere to go. The love of a child for its parent is exactly that. Where can I send it? It isn’t lost. It hasn’t gone. But I’ve nowhere to give it or send it.

Maybe when Dad died I was able to take that love and give more of it to you. But you’re both gone now and the love is trapped inside of me. It wells up and makes me cry.

Maybe without your own parents and without my Dad you took all of that love and transferred it to us – your children and your grandchildren. I felt the measure of that love and I miss that too.

How exactly were you able to transfer it? If that is what you did. Or maybe no – one ever can. Some loves are just for some people. The love I have for all the people in my life stems from the same source but the difference is there in each one.

I want to reach out my arms to you and hear you speak to me. But I’m afraid. I’m afraid of what I’ll hear and that I won’t cope with your words. Maybe you’re already speaking and I’m refusing to listen.

From Whence I Came

In a moment

I will be accepted

Or rejected.

I want to be affirmed

As part of the family

Of God

From whence I came.

Prior to conception

I sat in His presence

Awaiting the call

To human life.

I bring joy to the faces

Of those I call parents

But I know

From whence I came.

Baptise me now

I need the grace

To go through this earthly life.

Those who tend me

May or may not

Have the faith to build me

And make me aware

In the years when I forget

But just now I know

From whence I came.

Until the call Home

Comes

And I remember

The face of the One

I will forget.

I need His help now

For what lies ahead

Confirm my present awareness.

For when I look far away

Into the corners of rooms

And they ask sweetly if I see fairies

I wish I could tell them

And make them know

That I see the face

Of the One

From whence I came.

So please don’t deny me

My baptism of love

Because my parents have doubts.

I do not need their faith

I do not need mine

For I know

From whence I came.

(29-10-1997)

 Teenagers  

Children,

Anxious,

Waiting to grow.

Impatient

Hardly stopping

Plunging ahead.

Seeing without seeing.

Angry at life’s barriers.

Heated in activity,

Quarrelsome with everyone,

Hating the world.

Pulling at adult strings,

Piercing loving hearts.

Cradles,empty of the child.

(11-11-04)