When I brush my teeth in the morning I like to open my mouldy 50’s frosted window and look out at the patchwork green of the back gardens of my block. At the moment my eye almost always rest first on a quince tree about 5 gardens away. It’s a big old one and at the moment it is laden with clusters of fruit.
In the slanting morning light, against the usually grey sky they glow, golden, as though illuminated. My morning tooth brushing routine is quite long and complicated (another tooth is leaving me…) so I’m stood gazing at this tree for ten to fifteen minutes.
One of the things crossing my mind is how I stand looking out at the same scene yet my feelings differ enormously. I’m the only thing new to the party yet I go from feeling hugely in tune with my world and elated at the beauty in it to this morning where I was reduced to tears.
Actually reading that back makes me wonder if I’d be better served googling bi-polar in my spare moments rather than toothless wonder and carve your own dentures from driftwood.
I know I’ve written before about how we filter perception of events and surrounding through our prevailing mood and mindset. I work hard at this stuff. Trying to re-educate my not always kind inner voice. Today I was wondering if anyone else looked at how beautiful they were, if anyone would pick them or if they’d just ripen, fall and rot and I was the only one who’d notice them. The tears came at the waste, futility and pointlessness. Now as I write it down it sounds ridiculous, not wasted for all the birds and insects and I’m also wondering why I don’t think I’m valuable enough for a display of beauty. So what if only I see them – maybe they were meant for me. Don’t I deserve that kind of bounty?
I also don’t want to give the impression I retired devastated back to my bed, weeping. I rinsed my mouth, closed the window, wiped the tears away with the towel and plunged back into the headless chicken morning routine.
We’re walking more and more without the pushchair. Yesterday Ida walked all the way to my G’mas and back again to pick Zeph up from school. It’s quite a long way with small legs. We had taken the pushcair, just in case ,which proved to be more trouble than it was worth as the wheel comes off roughly every twenty metres. Walking back we pass lots of lovely trees so collected a bounty of golden and scarlet leaves, some tiny fairy pinecones and the most perfect acorn either of us had ever seen, it really was picture book perfect.
At the top of the hill there’s a busy road junction with three different traffic light buttons to press. The green man doesn’t stay long so once they’re aligned you have to hurry. Halfway across we realise in her excitement to press the button Ida had dropped the acorn on the far side. With an eye on the lights and my watch as we were rushing for the hometime bell I urged her onwards. After all we have, literally at least a hundred collected acorns at home in her autumny things basket. Safely over the roads she tugged urgently at my hand and I bent down to her.
“but Mummy – I am saaaaaad.”
She looks up, her brow is furrowed and her lip out. I assess it and know I could jolly her over this pretty easily. Redirect her attention to something else, remind her about all the acorns waiting at home, promise some painting time if we hurry. Mums do this all the time; negotiation, suggestion, redirection. Derrren Brown has nothing on a time pressed mother, balancing children and a millionlong to-do list.
Something about her hand in my mind. That small confiding plump paw. The way she was just standing, waiting. That she wasn’t demanding, that she had just told me what she was feeling and trusting me for a satisfactorary response made me turn us around, press the button again to retrace our steps back across the road to rescue the acorn then turn, press and stand again, waiting for Mr Green.
The incredulous man on a pushbike who’d crossed with us shook his head in disbelief. “You’re a muggins – you are.” he says as he pedals ponderously off down the hill.
It doesn’t matter that the acorn is now indistinguishable in the pile on the piano. It is that I want Ida to know that the things that matter to her matter to me. That I listen to her. More than that – more than mummy stuff, I want to be the kind of person who can see that the things that matter to people matter to them. That I can respect that, regardless of whether I give a tinkers damn about it myself.
And that sometimes there is five minutes to spare. That’s is okay to like stuff about yourself and celebrate it. That we’re all calibrated differently so sometimes it’s meaningless to measure yourself up against others.
I also hope fervently that she’ll remember the stuff like this as well as how I growl, “don’t touch my face” in the mornings when she climbs into bed with us and that I can be found crying at trees with a toothbrush in my mouth.