Another Saturday night.

IMG_3523I sit again at the end of another week. Wanting to write of other things apart from waiting. But waiting is all we have. Good waiting filled with joy and expectant hope. Tough waiting full of groaning and longing and, let’s face it, a whole lot of moaning. Despairing waiting thinking this will never happen and wondrous waiting at the mystery of it all.

It’s been another week in the life of us. I’ve got bigger, I’m sure. The boy has been back to being delightful after his grumpy teething week. I’ve felt all the emotions of being a Mum at home, wonder, delight, frustration, loneliness, fun, gratitude, despair, impatience, patience and a whole lot more. Once more I was granted a day in bed and once more we made it to Saturday for another day together as the three of us wondering how much longer that will last.

Today felt like the calm before the storm. We lazed around in a local country park enjoying the boy running up and down hills, picking up sticks, walking in tree tunnels and to my delight collecting conkers.

pocketEven though it’s been crazy hot recently the signs of my favourite season are upon us. The leaves are turning and falling to the ground, the nights are getting darker and there are conkers to be found. Big fat shiny conkers. Beautiful signs that autumn is almost here. I’m glad we got to collect them and we all enjoyed the conker tea the boy gave us when we got home.

We live in a city and I think that’s ok but I love the countryside as well and want our boys to delight in it too. Our first one is always a bit unsure about different things (can’t think where he gets that from…) but after refusing to go under a tree and asking for the iPad he soon got into the enjoyment of life outdoors, demanded to go in the wood and loved finding conkers and putting them in Daddy’s pocket. There is hope for us yet.

conker tea

 

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Another week gone…

waitingAnother week has passed. Another week in which too often I have given into grumpiness and complaining about this last stage of the pregnant world. A week in which there have been wonderful gifts of time and space and sleep. A week in which there have been people to hear the moans and groans, friends who have sympathised and cared and given me soothing cups of tea. A week where I have lost my patience with a grumpy teething boy too much. A week where I have seen how delightful and beautiful it is to get to hang out with him each day. A week where I have seen my Maker step in and provide release from the past and hope for the future. A week where I have started to own what will soon happen to my body and look forward to meeting our squirmy son.

It’s been another week of waiting, of frustration and of hope. The tangled mess of emotions that make up our days. Best of all was the day where I got to sleep, rest and be away from the boy for a few hours thanks to the lovely Jo, one of his Godmums. In that day I also got to make the most of the excellent ‘Birth Stories’ service that our hospital offers. We sat down with a lovely senior midwife and talked through the boy’s birth in detail, giving our recollections and seeing how much they matched the reality of what happened. We heard again the reasons for the interventions made and got a clearer picture of what was going on. I found out lots of positive things that my body was already doing, it knows how to do this labour business, even with a silly back to back baby. I discovered that it really might be better this time around given all those positive things and I wept as I laid to rest some of the ghosts of those traumatic intense 25 hours of labour. I left the boy’s birth in that room, with his notes, with my notes. The labour ahead of me is a different one, it will take a different shape and I am intrigued and hopeful of what my body can accomplish. I left the room feeling like a massive burden had been lifted and I need not fear what lies ahead.

The Bible talks a lot about the groanings of childbirth, the very world we live in is described as groaning in frustration as it waits for liberation. That’s a mighty long labour. But it is one that has hope at the core, hope of a glorious future, a world where sin and sorrow no longer dwell and a world where everything will be made new. My labour is a small foretaste of that, a beautiful image of a world longing for the sad to be made untrue and a new world to come. There is real hope at the heart of childbirth. There is real hope at the heart of this aching and broken world longing to be set free from the darkness and struggle.

And so we wait.

Life carries on as normal with the knowledge on it’s edges that everything will soon be tipped upside down again as our second son arrives to mess with our heads and take over our hearts.

Into another week we plunge, waiting, hoping, wondering.

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Friday night

IMG_3484-0.JPGIt’s Friday night. I’m sitting in our boy’s room waiting for him to fall asleep (currently just rolling around the bed), grateful that we have made it through the first week with husbandface back at work and me with an ever-increasing bump to navigate whilst looking after the small one. I was dreading this week- no groups to go to (they all start next week) and no structure to cling to. Despite all of that we have survived. I loved Monday- Wednesday, delighting in some quality time with the boy. I’ve realised that these are the last few weeks with just me and him and so I’m starting to treasure these moments.

We made play dough (surprisingly easy and a lot nicer on the hands than the shop stuff). We played with teapots and dice and did lots of ‘Maths’ (the boy’s latest obsession). We slept lots and saw a few people. Thursday was harder as my body started to give out and the boy was grumpier due to an upset stomach. I was very glad of the arrival of Nana and Gaga on the scene today as my patience was ebbing away and they were very helpful in entertaining the boy. Best of all I got to see my lovely friend Lou and her new baby this afternoon all by myself :) I had the bliss of 2 hours of chat without having to police a small one and I got cuddles with a newborn.

It did bring home the reality that in few weeks I too am going to have a little newborn and life will be very very different. I desperately want my body back (so much so that I am jealous of people who can walk freely and not need the loo every 5 seconds) and yet I’m not sure I want to do the whole labour thing to get it back. I am scared and eager all in one swirl of emotions and I am glad my boy is there to distract me from the impending arrival. One day at a time living is enough for me right now.

It’s Friday night. The boy strokes his cheeks and gets ready to sleep, the other boy wiggles around inside getting ready for who knows what. It is Friday night and I have no idea what tomorrow will bring so for now I rest my head upon the shoulders of the one who made me, who knit me together in my Mothers womb and I ask for strength, for peace and for trust as I walk through these days.

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Summer Reading

This summer I’ve managed to read some books, a shocking turn of events. Born by the realisation that soon I’ll be back in the land of sleep deprivation once more I’ve tried to take every opportunity I can to read. I haven’t read many but I have loved the ones I’ve managed to ingest. 

Here’s my short list of summer reading. I have plans to read more before this baby comes out but these will do for now. 

flightBarbara Kingsolver – Flight Behaviour

A pretty interesting read about small town America, Monarch butterflies and the impact of climate change. A really fascinating glimpse into the clash between people who have never left a town, those that wanted to and couldn’t and those who come in incredulous at the value placed on sporting success over any kind of academic ability. Lots to mull on and much beautiful writing as ever. 

Red TentAnita Diamant- The Red Tent 

I don’t think I would have loved this book 10 years ago but I really really loved reading it this summer. I think partly because of the midwife images going on, which have reminded me that birth can be a positive experience. I’ve also loved it because of the focus on women that seems to have been the unconscious theme for my reading this summer.  I felt an identifying with these women that I’ve rarely felt before. It’s helped me further on my journey of embracing my femininity which is a pretty big deal for me.  

danceSue Monk Kidd- Dance of the Dissident Daughter. 

I think this should be essential reading if you are a woman and a Christian or maybe if you are just a Christian regardless of your gender. Not because you’ll agree with it all (although you might) but because it will make you think deeply about the impact of patriarchy on our faith, it will make you ponder the feminine divine and hopefully cause you to rejoice and delight in our God who is imaged in both genders. I’m still processing lots of these thoughts but I’m holding tight to the delightful thought that I reflect something deep about God as a woman. The divine is not a man but a glorious trinity who needs two genders to reflect that reality. No one has ever told me how valuable it is that women reflect something of God that men can’t and vice versa. I am deeply valuable as a woman, not second best, not an afterthought, not the downfall of creation but an essential part of reflecting the image of God in this world. Wow. My head is still curling round how to talk about God either with no gender attached or as the author/originator of both genders but that will have to wait for another time. For now I sense an awakening inside, a daring in me to love and delight in being a woman rather than in rejecting the feminine within. I think it will take a long time to process but something is stirring inside. 

confessionsElouise Renich Fraser – Confessions of a Beginning Theologian 

Another book which has stirred these thoughts of having a place of value as a women is this one. A beautiful book describing her journey into the world of theology and finding her place as a woman in what seemed to be a mans world. I think the best chapter is on how to read books and be friends with the authors, accepting their flaws and remembering that they are people too.  In a world where we love heroes and villains it is good to stop and remember we read the ideas of flawed people. We will agree with some ideas and not others. It’s important to be gracious towards those we read, remembering they are human too and not vilify them for the things we disagree with. Even more so on the internet where instant reactions rule the day and we forget the faces behind the words we read. We forget the people made in the image of God and we abuse them all too easily. 

toddlerSarah Oakwell Smith – Toddlercalm. 

Both me and the husbanface really enjoyed this book, I think because it suits our personalities and our vague style of parenting. It provides a really helpful insight to understanding the toddler world, seeing things from their perspective and showing how you can maintain boundaries whilst showing empathy to your small weirdo. I found it really helpful in dealing with why I get angry with the small one and how to start to manage that. It’s also helpful in providing a bit of insight into what toddlers can and can’t deal with in terms of their brain development. I think it’s helped me be more understanding of his feelings and helping explain them to him. It is hard when you can’t do what you want to all the time and although that doesn’t mean we give our toddlers everything they want it does mean we can empathise and sympathise with them as we explain why they can’t have exactly what they want right now. It was the perfect read for the stage of craziness we are at right now with the boy. That doesn’t mean parenting him has become easy or that we are constantly patient with him now. But it’s a start. 

his booksChick-a-chick-a-boom-boom, A Good Day, Love Monster, Moo Baa Laa Laa Laa, The Going to Bed Nook, On the Night You Were Born. 

I think I can recite all of these off by heart now. Our son has repeatedly thrown these in my lap all summer. I love Love Monster for its bonkers tale of a sad rejected Monster (he lives in a world of cute fluffy thing and no one loves a slightly weird looking googly eyed monster in that world, poor monster) finding love. The small one can finish the end of all the sentences in Moo Baa Laa Laa Laa and delights in winding his Daddy up by saying the wrong bits for each animal and giggling about it. I still can’t read On The Night You Were Born without welling up. It’s a very sweet book about the wonderful, only ever you. (Nicked from psalm 139). A Good Day is fairly annoying, it doesn’t rhyme and it’s not funny but oddly he loves it. Chick-a-chick-a-boom-boom is a very weird book about the alphabet up the coconut tree but has given sonface the chance to learn some of the letters so that’s probably a good thing. The Going to Bed Book is another one by the genius that is Sandra Boynton. She rhymes, is funny and the boy loves to say the end of each line. We like. 

It turns out I only read five books this summer but I think that’s an achievement in this season of life…

To read

Books to read.

I still have some I want to get through before the small squirmy one arrives but we’ll see how that goes. For now I am glad reading is possible and I delight in books once more. 

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Summer round up

IMG_3380So, the husbandface is currently in the throws of starting a new blog about being a Dad to two boys. This has spurred me into remembering that I too have a blog and quite like this writing thing. So maybe it’s time for one or two of those summer round up posts before we plunge into new sparkly September land. 

The end of August always reminds me that it really isn’t the middle month of the year.  It’s 7.30pm and already I’ve turned on the lights in our living room, darkness is just around the corner and the air has just a hint of something cold in it.  September always nicely confuses things by giving Indian summers but this brief colder spell reminds me that the year is on the turn. 

Things are a changing and as we are on the edge of epic change once more it’s good to have that reflected in the turning of the earth. 

We’ve had a good summer.

I remain very thankful to the husbandface for being a teacher and having lots of holiday with which to send me to bed each day and entertain the smallest member of our team (not sure mcsquirmy counts yet…). My body has given in to aches and pains and I want this to be over soon. I am bored of the pain of pregnancy and groan for the day when it will be over. (Talk to me in a few weeks time to see how that’s working out…)

Friends and family have come and gone. We survived that mysterious thing called ‘camp’, which involves hanging out in a posh boarding school with teenagers watching God get up to stuff in their lives.  We attempted some actual camping and realised my body can’t cope with it anymore. This last weekend I enjoyed camping in the day and returning to my bed at night, much the best way right now. We enjoyed a day without the small one to potter around Guildford whilst Nana and Gaga had fun with him and we’ve enjoyed some fun times out as a family in Brighton and Sussex. It’s been good if slow and steady. 

Our small one has changed massively over these last 6 weeks. He is full on into imaginative play, loving making us cups of tea with his teapot and making sure Charley Bear’s nappy is regularly changed. He’s also into the stage of knowing what he wants but not being able to deal with the emotions of not being able to have it all the time. (The rest of us have just got better at hiding those emotions I reckon). Our days are a mix of delight, tears, deep breaths from us parents and the need for endless patience. Naaa and a shake of the head with a cheeky grin meets many of our requests. 

He is aware the times are changing too. He hugs me tight, kisses the bump and asks after baby. He knows the cot is where baby will sleep but I’m not sure where he imagines this baby is or knows the storm about to come into his life. He knows mummy is fragile right now and tenderly strokes me when I burst into tears. Something is impinging on his world but he doesn’t really get what.  

We are slowly preparing for the change, we have nappies and a cot set up. Small sleepsuits sit in draws waiting to be used. We have a while to wait but mentally we are getting our brains wrapped around the arrival of the second grenade to hit our world. 

The summer holidays are over. Routine is about to hit once again and then who knows what life will be like come the end of the month. I am glad that we set sail into the term knowing we are not alone, knowing that there is One who holds us through whatever is to come and has held us thus far. I am glad we can cry out to him for help and know that we have a sure foundation for our times. I’m praying we can hold onto these verses from Isaah 33 in the coming months. 

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
    he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.
He will be the sure foundation for your times,
    a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
    the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.

The nights are drawing in. Summer is slowly drawing to an end. The light fades and we wait, embracing life within that waiting. Bring it on.  

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Thoughts from a tent…

fieldIt’s my Birthday. Another year to hang on the line and all that jazz. Read last years post for my thoughts on Birthdays. Here instead are some random thoughts from 5am in a tent last weekend. 

It’s times like these that I realise again that I have to write, that coming away with no pencil and paper is almost a crime to my soul. My brain cries out for the joy of processing, of ordering my thoughts and putting down things that swirl around my head.

Here is the space to do that. In these canvas walls before anyone else is awake or out of the tent, here in this surreal light of dawn outside with the birds singing and the sheep making that guttural noise that clearly sounds nothing like the small baa sound we encourage our children to make. 

Here is the space to write and write and write some more. Finally away from the screens, the immediate stuff that fills my gaze each day. With a head fuzzy from disturbed sleep. With my lungs aching from too much campfire smoke and with cockerels in the background I come to this most sacred of tasks. Writing. Expressing thoughts. None of them particularly inspired or new, thoughts that many have had and yet I can and I love writing them down. It seems almost too much to call this a gift but here it is. A gift to whoever. A gift to whoever feels this aching need to know we are not alone. That others have passed this way. If no-one wrote anything down imagine how greater our loneliness would be.

I hear my son making the initial noises of waking. Murmuring instead of crying, indicating he might have had more sleep than I in this strange night under the cloudy sky. I feel the ache of my back as I sit up after a night on the floor, albeit a fairly comfortable sleeping mat filled floor. I sense the strange swirling of my other son inside me and wonder what life will be like in 3 months time. I remember the other children around the site last night, the parents with their endless wheelbarrows of stuff carted to tents and wonder what life in these next few years will hold. 

I remember the young couples arriving last night, the few on their own, escaping for rest, nights away from routine, peace and then try and put down my jealousy for another day, reaching instead for some kind of contentment in this ‘all consuming tempting to think there is no space for me’ kind of life. All to easy to box people up and long for the greener life of different circumstances. I breathe. I have this life. I both love and fear this life. I adore the insanity of being a mother and I can’t believe the gifts given to me. I fear the sacrifice of this life. I laugh again at my wariness at owning such a title. I am a mother, mummy, a mum. I fear of others thinking less of me now I have this new state of being. I fear alienating others. The single years still seem so much to define me and this skin still feels new.  I listen too long to the voices that whisper that I should have written more, that I should be known, that a quiet and unseen life is to be scorned. The deep all penetrating truth that I am loved and need no accolades from this world to prove that is hard to hear at times and yet will not ever leave. 

I’ve heard that voice recently. Despite exhaustion, despite 4 weeks of marking season and slogging head down through. I’ve heard the beautiful voice that tells me I am loved. The voice that tells me there is a place where my selfish greed and my pride can be washed away. The voice that tells me there are new compassions for me this morning. The voice that speaks of a cross, a cup and an empty grave that I cannot ignore, no matter how much I try. 

I cough in this quiet and my son cries out, knowing I am close, only two canvas walls away. I sense this quiet will soon end and the day will clatter into being. I am thankful. Thankful that although times away are not measured anymore in perfect moments, quiet ordered thinking time or good nights sleep that there are good chaotic things to be learnt in this mess, this tumbling through the day with a small person in tow and this particular style of insane sacrifice. 

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The end…and maybe a beginning…

poppiesThe Spiritual Direction course I’ve been doing this year came to an end today. It was a day of endings and ponderings for the future. Part of the day was sharing letters we’d written to God about what might happen in the future and thanks for all we’ve experienced on the course. For what it’s worth, here’s mine.

Dear God, it’s been an interesting year eh? Thank you so much for it, for providing the exact space I needed to remember true and important things like I was more than a milk machine to my son, that my brain hasn’t been turned off entirely in the haze of sleep depravation. Thank you for giving me this year to remember that I have a future life that involves more than my children and thank you for showing me just how much you love me through my son and his crazy joy in this world. Thank you for showing me the worth and value of life right now and that you hold the future in your hands. 

Thank you for meeting me, for reminding me that your love isn’t dependent on how much or little I pray. Thank you for providing for me and for teaching me more of the wideness of you through hanging out with other people on such different journeys but with the same God who loves and delights in us.

I’m not sure what the future will hold exactly, I have plans, husbandface has plans, we think we might know the direction life will take but whatever it looks like I know for sure that I want to help people in this journey towards you. Thank you for making people feel comfortable enough in my presence to want to open up about how life is with God in a real and honest way. Thank you that I can share their tears, their joys, their frustrations and know that I don’t have to provide the answers. I really think there is nothing I’d rather be doing than listening to people as they discover and notice the reality of you in this beautiful world you have made. 

I want to keep doing that, through the daze of new motherhood as I share life with other new Mum’s and as we work out what on earth life looks like in this new strange world. I want to keep listening for your voice in the midst of the mess and exhaustion and I long to help others find your voice in this place as well. I would love to keep on sharing and hearing peoples stories of their life with you as I journey onwards, through whatever changes may come in these next few years. Please use me as you see fit, help me know I am loved and so be able to bring others to your love. Help me be at peace with what you have given me each day to do and help me love and encourage my boys with the reality and presence of you.  

Thanks for all you have been up to this year. Help me look for your voice through the craziness of two boys to look after and nurture in this world. Thank you for your mother love which has shown me how to love and the depths of your love for me. 

Always yours. 

Kath 

I have been very grateful for the space this year to participate in the course and to the excellent Jo for looking after sonface and generally being extremely helpful and lovely. Love our church family.

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