oh, 2016…

What a year! The events of the last week must surely form the icing on a 2016-cake built of bullshit, bitterness and death. I’m increasingly convinced that David Bowie may have been the glue holding our entire world together. It’s been a toughie on a personal level, too – losing two people to irreparable disagreements, after a lifetime of never falling out with anyone. A diagnosis of rapid and terminal cancer in a treasured family member.…

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Steiner

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A dried thistle flower. She hands it to me, sniffling, drying her eyes from some head-bang or dog lick, and tells me in a small voice, β€˜it is a hedgehog’. And it is! It has two eyes and a nose, and my heart turns to mush at the prickly little treasure she has brought back from her day. Six weeks ago, Orla started attending a Steiner Kindergarten. She comes home smelling faintly of wood smoke and trees,…

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an ode to the small things

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Can we talk about small things for a moment? About the impossibly sweet and nostalgic accoutrements of childhood. A little blue cardigan hanging from a big hallway hook. Miniature shoes lined in tidy little rows. Small, pudgy hands clutching smaller, balding Sylvanian rabbits, who in turn hold impossibly tiny jugs and teapots and cakes. Most days I am immune to it, but some days… some days it is all I can see. The novelty of it, the faint ridiculousness. Knickers…

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keep the wild in you – Swallows & Amazons

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I was raised on a diet of homemade cake & gingerbeer. Not literally, you understand, but of the literary sort – hours spent gorging on books by Enid Blyton and Arthur Ransome. The Famous Five, Swallows & Amazons. A head full of island adventures in rolling British countryside, even as my body lay in quiet, grey suburbia. An anxious & bookish child, these books gave me fresh courage & a 50s-esque stiff upper lip. Adventures…

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parenting boredom

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Nobody talks about how boring parenting can be. It’s this weird Western system we’ve created, where we all raise our children alone; sealed into our little boxes on quiet, orderly streets. Perhaps meeting at a playground or a toddler group sometimes, where we will start a thousand sentences, and never find out how a single story ends. I hate it, to be honest with you. I hate the brain fog that descends when it’s time…

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a day in May

paper boats in stream

These are the days that we came here for. When the sun warms our bedroom at the top of the house while the dawn chorus works itself up to an orchestral cacophony. And we dig out the sun cream from the dusty recess of the bathroom cabinet, noting the changes to tiny pudgy hands and limbs since the last days of this ritual last summer. Then we trail down to the stream, the three of…

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quotes for my daughter: the fence

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A Tim Minchin song might not seem like an obvious place to find wisdom, but I’m a huge admirer of his clever wordplay & humorously accurate observations on life. The Fence is chock-full of exactly this – ‘an anthem to ambivalence’ – taking a stab at the stream of false dichotomies we’re all living our lives by. We divide the world into terrorists and heroes, into normal folk and weirdos, into good people and paedos,…

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a day in the life of my maternal emotions

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I’ve decided that toddlers are like chocolate. I love chocolate. Who doesn’t?! It’s sweet and delicious and most of the time I could just eat it all up – pleather leggings be damned!  Sometimes, though, I’m really hungry for something different – something healthy, perhaps – and the thought of all that sweetness makes me feel a bit sick. Sometimes I’m so desperate for savoury, you could throw me into Willy Wonka’s river and I’d still obstinately…

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Conversations with Orla

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I love this stage. Her vocabulary is sophisticated enough to spill all her thoughts out, & it’s fascinating stuff.  Where before I kept a running list of adorable misspoken or invented words, now I find myself tapping entire conversations into my iPhone notes. I can’t bear to forget.   You used to be inside my tummy Orla. Do you remember? Yes! Really? Yes! Can I go back there now? Um, no. You’re too big now. Can I try?…

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notes for my daughter: weak & strong

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Dear Orla, I have been strong and I have been weak, and I have learnt that these words do not mean what we think. Before you were born, I cried easily; a confrontation with friends, a passing criticism at work. I once cried at an episode of Supermarket Sweep, because I was just so happy for them when they won. I could no more contain these tears than I could hold back a sneeze; sobs…

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