The other afternoon, I found myself quietly watching and wondering from the rectangular frame of Little A's bedroom window. Her room resides at the back of our flat. The window looks out onto the neighbouring street lined with cars, fallen leaves, and the half eaten rejects, the only visible clues, of stringy, malnourished foxes. I enjoy looking out of this window. I love the simple past time of watching people go about their day. I just hope that no one spots my voyeuristic curiosities as they pass thirty feet below.
On this particular afternoon I view mothers and minders pushing rain coat laden buggies, frowning and smiling by turns, hurrying dawdling toddlers on yet another school run. The local 'old boy' is carrying far too many shopping bags than his stooping back will allow. Over the road two parents are unburdening their car of two dogs, three children, and a weathered buggy. This family have always intrigued me. Both parents work, and I assume are doing 'well', as they have not one but two live in nannies. Their children, all under five, are very close in age. Their little boy is only weeks older then Little A - I can remember his mother stepping out of the backseat, hobbling towards the front door, with the tell tale infant carrier in hand, my thoughts focusing on the scene - how this could be me in the days to come.
My eyes search the top of the road where it meets the main thoroughfare, commuter traffic quarrels, buses hum, cyclists roll by. Then my gaze is robbed by the trees. Their tops are painted in splashes of fiery colour that seem at odds with the seamless green below, like a hairdresser has dyed one half of his client's head. I am clearly reminded that it is Autumn, the season of reduction, that nature is effortlessly undressing herself, while I remain the same, untouched by transformation, fully clothed in yesterdays foliage. Is Autumn really here? Where's it all gone? What have I been doing?
Sometimes, I feel stuck in the same season. It's not Spring or Summer. They imply newness and life. It can't be Autumn. Too much colour. Too much change. That only leaves Winter. Motionless, never ending Winter. Days and weeks can feel like an undying loop of 'same'; same breakfast, same games, same park(s), same casseroles, same shopping list, same clothes line... I try to find sparks in the mundane detail, "look at that bright yellow car over there Little A", "let's go collect some leaves today," "does the dinosaur hamster live in that bush?" I do my very best to add colour to the daily routine; I play the googly eyed monster, I play giddy up horsey, I am most things Little A requires of me. But so often my enthusiasm is found wanting, caged by the monotony...
Some days, I fly away to a different destination, an alternate reality, a childless fantasy of career, sleep, and free will. I pine for the old world, a time bound place of structure and daily definition. A world where I wasn't constantly on watch. A world where I wasn't perpetually worrying about safety. A world where my head wasn't invaded by frightening thoughts of suffocation, abduction and death. I revisit the shades of grey I felt about having a baby. Do I, daring to say the word, 'regret' having Little A? No! Not in a million galaxies. Not in the space before time existed. A world without Little A is no world at all. I love her with blinding ferocity, from the furnace of my core. The ambivalence's I feel confuse, upset and coddle in guilt. I never realised the work of a mother meant embracing so many conflicting feelings - am I alone in this experience? I like to think not.
But when I look back upon the past, to the days before Little A, I also realise these too were filled with prediction, banality, and boredom. Was my life really more interesting, more stimulating, more fulfilling? In some ways yes, but in many more ways, no. The difference now, the burden of life as a stay at home mother, is the solitude, the lack of mature company. So recently, I dusted down my diary and filled our weekends with adventures with friends, especially those with children, in a bid to satiate my need for social connection other than my darling daughter. My blog is a great friend too but it's not the same as face to face chit chat over a slice (or three) of lemon drizzle cake and a cup of finely brewed tea.
I need to remind myself that although Winter might appear inert, fixed in silence, underneath the cold mossy bark, the icy mud, the sodden grey grass, lies dormant potential, the longing for reinvention. Soon Little A will leave her toddler years behind her. I don't want to wish these precious years away but I am looking forward to a new season, one where I flower again. Life may seem static, paused on red, but I also know that in this unmoving there lies a paradox; underneath my tired expression, underneath the faded jeans, the woollen jumpers, the ageing underwear, I'm changing, the person I once was is no more, can never be, but who I am set to become is for now a blank page...
This was inspired by a recent post by Sara Bran that really resonated with me.