I’m a juggler without any experience. A tightrope walker without a pole. A lion tamer without a back up distraction. I’m a parent. I’ve joined a very special circus; it’s made up of family; the one that made me and the one I have made. The only difference is, people don’t pay me to watch. But eyes are cast upon our act everyday. Even the ones that try not to watch. We’re all watching each other act. Some with a clear plot and others carefully improvising along. We’re all improvising. We’re all falling and most of us are acting out a love. Or acting out of love.
When you see me, sometimes with a smile on my face as I pull the eldest along the street on a scooter and the baby on my chest finely wrapped in his mamaowl fleece suit hoot hoot. I might be smiling at a simple pleasure. My children are happy in that moment, the air is crisp and we are breathing in the fresh air. I am happy in that moment.
’It’s cold, but so fresh, breathe that air in Ayla” and we both inhale and exhale, my daughter inhales harder and more dramatically and utters,
‘I love this weather, feel the sun.’
‘The sun is glorious’ she exalts, of course she has picked up that phrase from me. The sun is glorious , the sun is glorious . This is my song and by now, she knows it well. She also knows the answer to the question I ask over breakfast,
‘Who’s the boss A?’
‘Bruce Springsteen,’ she shouts with a grin, jammed toast and milk is sprayed everywhere and pride fills my heart as I make note to clean the crumbs later before the mice feast.
I’m singing along to Bob Dylan’s ‘Don’t think twice It’s alright’ when she suddenly sings back to me ‘I’m on the dark side of the road’. We play it every night in the car to get the baby to sleep and at the same time lulls her into Dylan’s world the way I was. Our words and poetry are all rolling into one and our children are soaking them in.
I remind myself not to let in too much ugliness, I’m afraid too much of it will seep in. She doesn’t need to know how ugly the world can be. Not yet. But sometimes when the news comes on the radio, she catches words like dead, steal, greedy,Trump. And the jig is up.
Sometimes I’m walking on the street with my children and I’m laughing hard at something funny she has said. She can make me laugh so hard, but she can make me cry so hard too. You’re not carefree, you’re not unattached, you hold this mother weight from which you’re attached.
The mother weight it ties you down. Thankfully it ties you down. Do you see how it has so much meaning? The meaning of two and that without one the other cannot be? There are days where we have many negotiations to survive, our horns butting and minds screeching at polar ends.
We are drawn together as I place her on my lap when the baby is asleep, in the window in our reading chair the way we had always done.
‘Read me a story mummy’
Hop on I tap my lap which holds the memory of her changing limbs and weight. Her legs fall longer on mine, her back taller but her round cheeks give her smallness away. Her need for me, reminding me she will be my child forever.
‘How long will you be my baby for?’ I ask her at dinner one night.
‘Till I’m old’ she answers. She knows because I’ve told her this before.
I hold onto my baby tight and try to remember everything as he drinks from my breast and smiles the knowing look babies have because I know I will forget that feeling. I will somehow forget that look because motherhood is tiring and I’m already slowly forgetting so much. It’s the lack of sleep, the soul crushing playgroups that are filled with mothers that aren’t like you and the doubtful parenting eye you have to ignore. But I have this look now, between us and I’m filling myself up with it. With his babyness that I know will go in such a ridiculous short amount of time.
And time has no face. It is fuzzy around the ages as it morphs into something that has no reliable name. Almost intangible.
Sometimes when you see me in the street, struggling, it’s because I’m weary. It’s because I’d rather be writing in that moment and not feeling guilty over it. Because I don’t want to face that morning’s struggle as the baby climbs over everything or chews the moss covered bark from the nature table while I try to make everyone presentable for nursery is that a stain is that a moth hole and how I bloody hated school please don’t make her go to school next year she’s too small. She’s too small.
Sometimes I’m walking along the street and I’m invisible because I’m a mother. It wasn’t my children that left that dirty mess on the cafe floor. I’m not just a mother who couldn’t control a situation. I’m not just a mother who sits around all day folding laundry while watching day time TV eating biscuits. and it’s OK if you do, because being a mother or father has a weight that can only be lifted by a familiarity that eases that weight.
That’s not me. I’m a daydreamer.
I’m sometimes daydreaming at the wrong time. Gazing out of the widow as I sit on the floor. Daydreaming while being tugged and spoken at.
‘ hmm hmm yes, that’s funny.’
I’m not Just
Every night I’m at my desk, working hard, sometimes I write a lot. Sometimes not. I have found a little family of writers on Facebook. We are all mothers who write so we say things without having to say it because we understand one another so well. We are a tribe that keeps on growing. Sometimes we are unable to show up at the writing pew but we try again the next day through sisterly encouragement.
Sometimes I’m on the street with my children, and I really don’t know where we are going but wherever it is. We are going there together.
For as long as they have me.