Island Blog – Conversation

I miss it. Conversation. Talking to myself is all very well but I know what is coming next, in the main. This morning, from 4 am, I soaked some sun-dried tomatoes in fragrant herby oil, washed spinach leaves for later, ironed my latest baby playmat and ate breakfast at 5. This means I feel like lunch by 11 so I asked the clock not to look at me like that and proceeded to fry 3 small slices of Hallumi cheese, adding salad, tomatoes and olives. Lunch done by 11.15. Now what? I’m bored of you, I tell myself. I can sense her behind me. She is a bit huffy at first but she is me and me stands her ground. We face each other. Look, I say, no offence but we have been stuck together since March 14th 2020 and apart from Himself #compromisedandsilent, carers, nurses and doctors, it has been just us. I think we have both aged ten years. It certainly looks like it in those mirrored reflections. We have just run out of interesting things to say to each other. Oh, we can jibber about what to eat for lunch, and jabber about timing for a dog walk or the rain or puddles or the mail arriving or if this tree will finally land on the house having threatened it, noisily, for days now, but it is just is not enough. Not any more. Our thrill today was two phone calls, one to call me in for a covid jag and the second to tell my my application for a postal vote is being considered. The excitement is deafening.

After we have talked awhile, she suggests, as we are both extremely tired, that we watch some TV. TV? Inside the daylight? You are so kidding me, no way. Aw, come on, she soothes. I know that tone and I bristle. We are weary and bored of each other, she reminds me. I feel a bit uncomfortable as I hadn’t considered she was bored of me too, but I got over that quickquick. Stand, ground etc. I capitulate. I don’t want to sew, nor clear the mess in the garden, nor lug in the logs, nor pretty much everything else. Ok, I concede and make tea. Call the Midwife, that will do nicely. I turn my back to the light, to the view, to the window and the rain and slump down in my horrible cream leather armchair with push button leg elevation thing. I bought these horrible cream leather sitapons for easy wiping down when Himself was dropping food like there was no tomorrowland. Anyway, once I have watched one, cried every time a baby was born and moved on to the next, I know she made the right decision for us both. It passed the time for starters and somehow calmed me. Now that thinks me.

Triggers. I was told and in no uncertain terms by my mother-in-law that sitting down in the daytime was unforgivable, as was buying myself flowers or a ring, definitely not that. Watching TV in the daylight was about the worst of them all. It was perfectly fine for men to do that, to watch cricket or football or Parliament in session but not for we women. Good god no. We should be ironing, washing, preparing food, preserving fruits, shelling peas, that sort of thing. We could read a book as long as it was a cookery book or one that guided us through the vast and imprisoning rulebook on wifedom, motherhood and active community engagement. It seems that trigger is alive and kicking for I feel it sharp-toothed and even have to check that my guide on How To Be The Perfect Woman isn’t standing right behind me with that look on her face. Ah. Let us take a look at this. It bizarres me in this considerably more freeing but not finished yet by a long chalk culture around what women should and should not do or be, that the voices of my past still hold sway.

I walk the dog, a bit wearily I must confess and she, the dog, was a tad miffed at the shortness of it, but it was raining and I was weary and just how much do you think I care about that? All over her face, yes, it was. Home, and some exercise for Henry who was surprisingly agile considering all that time he sits on his butt in the cupboard under the stairs with the spiders and the mice and the old photos of people nobody has a clue about. I am glad the gale has blown herself out. She was way too loud for me. I wonder where she is gone? Does a gale dissipate, fliffle away to nothing or does she hit another shore with the same ferocity she brought to bear here? I don’t know. I am just happy to have her gone. I see the branches, limbs, strewn across the track, in my garden. The bird seed is everywhere but on the table. But it is quiet now. There is peace now. And for that I am thankful.

The fire burns merrily. I am safe with myself and she’s a good egg to be honest. I suspect this marriage of minds is complex. We have never had so long together, never. There was always someone else, or someone elses to chip in comment, demand, decide, guide, lead and support. Now it is just us. It may take awhile to learn how to live together.

Island Blog – Island Mothers

Many of us are islands this day, kept from our children by a common enemy. What this enforced ‘islanding’ is doing to us is a lonely and a sad thing. What it is doing for us is quite a different matter. Everyone, it seems to me, is finding other ways to send loving messages through calls, texts, emails and letters and cards or through phoned in messages to radio stations. In these mediums the words must be more carefully considered. Although the usual “Best Mum in the World’ sentence may well apply, we search our minds for more. We think carefully of specific words that apply just to our mum. In short, we acknowledge and we affirm who she has been to and for us, how she lifted our flagging spirits, caught us out when we said “I’m fine, Mum” with a staying put stand in our bedroom doorway. We remember when she cooked something different for us on the days we purported to be sudden vegetarians; we remember the time she didn’t go where she wanted so much to go because we were sick or low or angry. She knew we needed her more than she needed her. We might remind ourselves of the time she stayed up for most of the night making a fancy dress costume for us, or sat in an upright chair through the long darkness when we had a fever, no matter what Dad might have said about it. that time we were in mental agony, remember that time? When nobody loved us and everybody hated us. Well, she did, and she didn’t and she put her feet firmly on mother ground and stuck beside us, even if we brushed away her reassuring words as so much tripe. She didn’t budge, even when her heart was cut right down the middle, because that is what mothers do.

They also get it all wrong. Most of us know how wrong we got it and still can, but it doesn’t falter our determination to launch a child into whatever world they want to move into. And it doesn’t stop on the launch pad. It never stops, even when our children have children of their own. We can still spend nights awake in an upright chair, our hearts bleeding for the pain our child is going through. We can still call to reassure “Bad timing Mum’ or stand square in a doorway refusing to budge until this child, who has grown his or her own set of protective armour plating, lets us in, just a bit.

My mum is gone now. We all had a list of how wrong she got things and we would laugh about them, once. We still can, but now I think more of all those times, those specific times, she stood to be counted for one of us and there are plenty of those. I think that this attack of Covid 19 is making us all think, changing our perspective on life. Perhaps we are finding the compassion that is the life blood of life herself. Perhaps we are thinking less of our own selves and more of how others are living (hopefully) through these times of inordinate change, and it is a very good thing. We have lived too selfishly for far too long. Nature is fighting back. Now is the time to stick a pin in our own little bubbles so that we can really see the rest of humanity and not just with our eyes, but with our hearts and minds.

And in the meantime, let us hold mothers high, for this is their day, our day, to be recognised for all the love that overwhelmed us at every birth; a love we could hardly understand, a love gifted to us by Mother Nature herself.