A dark mood hit our home last friday night and when it reached time for younger members to climb into bed, the mood still hadn't lifted. We are not perfect, this team of mine and I, but I believe this is rare. With a tired, irritable husband already out of the door to attend an already committed to event, it was left to me to deliver loving patience and restore calm. I did not. I failed and felt hideous all night long for it. When just a little of my frustrations had left me and my own emotional state was on amber, I entered my boys room and looked at them for a little while. I bent over slightly awkwardly to my younger boy on the bottom bunk and buried my face into his wild, abundant curls splayed out. I whispered words that I should have uttered while he was fully awake and hoped he would stir to drink them in. He did not. But his warm body and that mouth shape that quivers just like it did when he was a baby, reminded me that one day in many was not such a terrible fail. I am fallible, as we all are. My eldest, I tried to stir to give him my words. He at first seemed awake as I began to speak but then I realised he was motioning in a dream like state, speaking half sense and half gobbledygook. So I embraced him, I squeezed and then squeezed a little harder still, just so he might really know I was there. Then I released him and tried to wrestle the blanket back from where he had pulled it over his head, our regular wrestle which he inevitably wins. This also takes me back to his earlier days when I worried that he would overheat and suffocate. I quickly realised that like me, he is seduced by that womb like heat of being buried beneath the heavy warmth of the blanket wall. So, I leave and walk the landing and climb into my own womb and pull myself under the heavy warmth where I restlessly stir all night long, in that heightened state of alert when upset will not allow you to truly surrender to rest. It takes me back to all of those nights when they had colds and temperatures and teething and night terrors and all of those nights when I would wake for one more glance of their beautiful faces, to watch their delicate chests rise and fall, rise and fall. It takes me back to the nights I would be woken with pregnancy cramps and small heels digging into my ribs or bladder and eventually, the start of contractions. It takes me back to the nights when I was a girl and I would wake with my legs tangled in my mosquito net. The nights when I would wake and place my feet on the cool terrazzo floor and feel the shame of wetting my bed. It takes me back to the nights some years later after my father had died, when I would rise in the night, where I would tip toe to my mother's room just to make sure she was still there. Somehow she always seemed awake, no matter what time I entered her room. She would smile a smile that I don't remember her smiling again, except for that period of time. She is not always so patient but it was perfect tonic just then and I am sure she dug deep for it. It makes me think of my fathers medical bag, I think it was brown and leather although I can already hear the noise of my sisters making their corrections of this. In any case, excuse the pun, sometimes when I was upset and seeking comfort from my father, he would reach for his medical bag and one by one he would take out various instruments to check my wellbeing. The thermometer. The stethoscope. The otoscope. By the time the rubber hammer would emerge to test the reflex in my knees I would be in fits of giggles and even more so if he ever got round to performing the foot reflex where he would run a metal stick along the bottom of my dangling, always dirty feet. I wish I'd had a tonic like this to offer to my little ones on this night. I did not. But I am glad, that at the very least I could make loud pronounced footsteps and deliver whispers and embraces so that in their unconscious state, I was there. Even if they could not see, I was smiling a smile that I don't think I smile everyday. I was trying. Trying to offer it as a tonic, like the one my mother offered me all those years ago. It is my hope that a mother has a tonic for all manner of ailments, especially ailments of the heart. If I dig deep enough, I hope to find it, even if it takes a little time rummaging amongst all of the other debris and things accumulated. Still I will search. Just last week a good friend smiled a knowing smile when I told her I was not dramatic about the subject of which we were speaking. I immediately followed it by saying 'I'm also self aware!' as I smiled at her and myself and enjoyed the irony of the moment. When the storm has passed, I often wonder if I should choose to reveal the picture that I drew when I was still caught up in the storm. Sometimes, for one reason or another it takes me days to decide. Till now. And so here it is, the picture I drew whilst amidst a storm on a friday night.
|Photo by Stuart Tonge - one from the archives a few years ago.|
|Photo by Stuart Tonge - one from the archives a couple of summers back or so|