Sometimes we don't get far. At times, our front door doesn’t even open.
The back door does though and so out we go, into our garden; home to a re-wilding project that is ravaging in ernest. So that through our unmown lawn, roses have emerged from nowhere, which of course at some point must have been a somewhere, a wild orchid has come through, plumes of ragwort and tufts of ferns and dandelions and the white fluffy plant that you blow at to set the fairies free. The threshold of our garden is a thick boarder of blackberry bushes. The flies have got to most of the juciest first. We are not too disappointed.
But sometimes the neurotic mother in me spins out: we must go somewhere! She harps. We must do something! She shrills. And so dog and daughter are hoarded into the car and off we go to the land of something.
But sometimes Little Human sort of whistles at the neurotic mother and another part of me whispers: but what is wrong with here? Everyone is content where they are…And so Little Human and I pick up a bucket and head off with dog and go and look for blackberries. Finding ourselves climbing over the fence at the bottom of the garden and finding some worms instead.
Of course life isn’t a constant and so I don’t always feel at ease in our home environment. Sometimes the tiredness blows me so off centre that all I want is to be totally alone. A mother bear in her cave.
Generally however I like hanging out with my daughter. So that for the last three years, most of my days have been spent with Little Human. And because I suck at toddler groups, for the most part this normally involves us do something that might look like nothing. But to us, it is something. And though I long to meet other mother with kids the same age in our new home in the country, it is happening slowly. So for the most part it is daughter, dog and I.
Possibly this has been a mistake. Who knows, maybe when I am 80 years old I will look back and sigh and speak of the regret I have of all the time Little Human and I spent with one another.
But I don’t think so.
And I can only hope that Little Human looks back at her life and doesn’t say oh I wish mama had hung out with me less. But rather: we had a good innings mum and I.
All I know is that hanging out with my daughter has touched my heart in more ways that I am able to express. My eyes love to see her, my arms to hug her and my soul to laugh with her. Parenting doesn’t stagnate us, it moves us deeply and uncomfortably in all the places we thought we could get through life without confronting.
I am challenged by her simple existence. I am challenged to be more stable, grounded and brave then I know how to be and yet god how I want to be.
I am challenged to acknowledge and then step up to that wonderful truth: life is impermanent. Don't hold on: open up.
I am challenged in my languaging. Children don't respond to orders, they reflect back actions, and mirror our emotions to us. Even when we are in denial about them. Feeling anxious? Then watch as your child spirals away, a whirling dervish. And so these last three years has been an intensive in learning how to communicate anew. Because the old way doesn't stand the light of intelligence shining from a child's heart: my daughter thrives on imagination being engaged when we speak. Imagination that gives voice to confusing emotions and liberates worlds not yet explored.
And so I am learning to speak again. And maybe even listen. And of course I mess up pretty much all the time, but in small cracks I remember. And the difference that occurs when I do speak to my daughter as an intelligent human who has her own likes and dislikes and understandings and fears is huge and so I am inspired to fumble on.
And so I am grateful to words and the people in my life and the books I read who help me understand my daughter better.
I am challenged too, to let go of orthorexic tendencies and learn to enjoy the simple things in life again. Or rather not be so obsessed by things that really I should be damn grateful for: food that I have access to it, that be good enough. After all life is not about perfection. More often then not, its about gratitude.
And I am challenged to be more consistent and present and then the most terrifying and perhaps the hardest thing for me of all: to relinquish control. Control being nothing but a mirage anyway. A personality deficit. It’s my sword, my mask and my delusion. I am in control! You can’t hurt me!
And of course the thing I utterly deny.
Me? Control freak. Ha!
But we can be kinder to ourselves. No need for lynching. We control out of fear. A fear of being controlled ourselves. This does not need to lead our lives. Although of course too often it does, so that my control lieutenant lurks behind my eyes, sweeping the horizon for the next potential moment when we might seize an opportunity for control. Ha! There! pounce! But the pounce must be subtle. No one must know it; least of all me.
And yet too often control just gets in the way. Anyway, don’t all the most awesome adventures happen when we can throw out our arms and say: carry me to where I know not?
And so I am being carried to where I am not.
And I see Little Human and I see this human so herself. Though she is my daughter she is not mine. She is hers. She is life’s gift to itself. As we all are. And yet when we see our children how much easier is it to recognise a bit of paradise, then when we look in the mirror and see ourselves?
But it does. And so I travel with my daughter to paradise as we bumble up a country path to discover Thumpers Wood. I discover it as we call out to T Rex's galloping by our car, “Slow down!" We call. "We want to come with you!”
I discover it as I watch my daughter dance on a stage when we were at Into The Wild festival and then shrink back as she comes over to where I am sitting on a sofa and says: "Dance with me mama, dance with me."
“No I am too shy,” I say.
“Oh pleeeeeease.” She says.
And so that even though it is 3 p.m. in the afternoon and people are lolling about nearby and I am feeling horribly self conscious and the light of the day is shining through and its an awfully bare big stage in the middle of the tent, I allow myself to be led by Little Human to the stage. And she gets on and twirls and leaps about and I climb on and dance beside her. Shy, eyes averting contact with anyone else. But dancing with my little daughter on a stage in the middle of the afternoon in a festival in England. I feel awkward and alive. Embarrassed and touched. Tears come to my eyes as I dance with my daughter free and full of delight and innocence.
So we may not travel far my daughter and I, and the climate may be freakin’ British and these days I look at my passport with its blank pages and less and less I feel a mourning for that.
At first the loss of travel was one of the biggest losses I pined for when becoming a parent. And yet I look at my passport and its blank pages these days and maybe one day soon they’ll be filled. And I bubble with excitement at the time when I can take Little Human traveling more. As for us, these first three years of her life have been about finding our home, settling and making peace. Maybe most of all, with ourselves.
So that it is an irony of my life that I am growing up, traveling not the contours of this globe, but of the inner terrain of my heart.
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