We’re a week into the kids’ summer holidays. I must admit I was a little apprehensive (and it has had its moments) but it has been truly lovely to spend some proper time with these guys. Julius is a cheerful little thing who’s happy to fit in as long as he gets lots of cuddles. He loves to look deeply into your eyes and coo and smile, but it’s difficult to photograph his smile as he distrusts phones and cameras… Antonia is her delightful, energetic, engaging self. She says she’d like to do summer holidays on her own soon. ‘What would you do if you had holidays on your own?’ I asked her. ‘Take a walk in the forest. Climb a tree.’ Felix spends most of his down time building lego. He made a ‘music shop’ this morning, complete with a piano. And last night he was dancing, very creatively, by himself for half an hour, to Rick Astley’s ‘Never gonna give you up’, which he specially requested Michael to put on. I took the photo above just after he’d finished, his face flushed and hair tousled with exertion… These little beings are ridiculously hard work and ridiculously amazing.
There is something about having a small baby that intensifies moments, and puts me in a contemplative mood. When the chaos pauses, and everyone is asleep…
It’s been hot here today. Quite hot. I still feel sticky now, and it’s 10pm, though the air over the fjord is cooling slightly. We didn’t make it to the beach, though we thought about it. I wasn’t sure about the ten minute (or 40 minute, if you factor in Antonia) walk with the baby hot and sticky against my skin in the wrap… We went to the shopping centre instead, all five of us, and got an ice cream from McDonalds. When we got home JJ and I had a nap together, and then we bumbled around outside with the others for the rest of the afternoon. For the past couple of days JJ has been quite unsettled late afternoon and early evening, and it is an interesting juggle keeping up with the other two and trying to keep him happy.
Things I want to remember:
Felix coasting around on Antonia’s blue tricycle (it used to be his), strumming his brand new white ukelele.
Antonia sitting down on the floor in the middle of the mall, telling me breezily – ‘I’ll just take my time.’
Felix’s beautiful wide green eyes when he tells me something very serious about Ninjago or Harry Potter.
Antonia’s squishy, sturdy little body as she hugs me tight as I carry her in from the car, or as she potters around the deck half naked, streaked in melted ice-block.
Julius’s serious, trusting little face as he looks up from my arms as I pace him around and he stops crying for a few minutes. The way the pace of his breath changes as he approaches sleep.
Babies make you think about mortality. I remember when Felix was born the thought of him or ANYONE dying was suddenly absolutely abhorrent. It felt like it should be impossible. I haven’t had that feeling in quite the same way ever again. And yet…
Everything is in bloom here right now. Recklessly, fully, absolutely. You can almost see the grass grow. It is all so lush. When I was doing my evening walks with Mum, before Julius was born, new flowers had opened every evening. The lupins appeared from nowhere, huge flocks of them. ‘It’s amazing’, I commented. ‘Yes,’ said Mum, ‘I suppose they don’t have much time so they need to get on with it.’ And she’s right. Summer and winter feel like different countries here.
I had a baby, another one. And right now my body feels – full, I guess, round and soft. (A lot less round than it was a month ago, but you know what I mean. I’m definitely a few kilos heavier than when I got pregnant.) But I had a baby. In a few years, I won’t be able to. For some reason this makes me feel a bit like the flowers, and the trees. There is summer, there is winter. There are beginnings, there are endings, there are beginnings…
I watch my family getting older. My parents, my grandparents, my children, myself. It is really very strange – ordinary, and beautiful, and sad, and right. Michael has been reading a book about the ways in which people a very long time ago thought about bodies of men and women. It is strange to think about how ideas and images and words survive from long ago, how they are preserved, or lost, or feed each other in long chains. And our bodies survive too – through birth and death, through renewal and decay. How we are linked with people a thousand, two thousand, three thousand years ago, not just through reading what they wrote or gazing upon or touching what they made, but in our cells, our very blood, our breath. It is really very strange.