She isn't actually my nan, but my great aunt. She never had kids of her own but she raised my dad. She called him Greyboots.
She has a medal from primary school - the same one dad and my brother and I went to - for seven years' attendance. She never missed a single day.
She was in love with the boarder they took in, but he was much older than her. He stayed 20 years, but died before her mother did.
She went to India and Italy and other places that I never asked her about.
There is a photo of my brother and I on her lap in her old kitchen. I remember her squeezing me so tightly I almost couldn't breathe. It was only looking at her face in the picture years later that I realised how much she loved us.
My brother and I walked to her house every day after school and stayed with her until dad came to collect us, riding the few minutes around the corner to home with us both balanced on the bike frame.
Her back yard was a maze of flowerpots and fruit trees. Her Hills Hoist was our contraband plaything.
Her toilet was outside. Her bathroom smelled like soap and powder and toothpaste and had the fluffiest bathmat ever.
She always had a dog. It was always annoying.
She gave me her piano and I took it with me to the first house I moved out to - the only place I've lived without stairs. A and I played it late into the night, its slightly off-kilter notes reverberating off the floorboards.
I made her dinner every Tuesday night and she taught me how to knit. The first thing we made was an ill-fitting jumper with poorly joined pieces. I wear it still on weekends and winter mornings.
My brother found her on her bedroom floor. She had gone to bed without her emergency beeper on. He picked her up and washed her and fed her tea and toast while they waited for the ambulance.
The kid and I have visited her in three different hospitals. Each time she has been less aware of who we are. Tomorrow we'll see her again, and this time we're going to say goodbye.
"My children are people that I share my life and my home and my stories with. I have shaped my life around them for now, because they are vulnerable to the weather and hunger and bodies of water and wild animals and need a place where they are protected and can grow and be provided for. My body and my lover's body made them and they brought enough love with them to keep them alive (through our parental fascination), and then more love grew. We have made a life for ourselves, hewn it out of raw materials, carved it from the landscape. There are rich rewards for this kind of life, and there are penalties too, and you show me the kind of life where that isn't true."
And also this... Because, yes, Bill Murray, Tokyo, Sofia Coppola (the trifecta).
"The most terrifying day of your life is the day the first one is born. Your life, as you know it, is gone. Never to return. But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk... and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life."
Thank you, Eglantine's cake. On a morning where I'm struggling with the boredom and the relentless need, and swinging wildly to ridiculous, teary joy bubbling out of me at the sight of that gummy smile, this is what I needed to read. I have made this choice, and I am lucky. But it's no pinnacle. And that's OK.
I spend so much time reading stuff that other people have written, and so little time writing for myself. Most nights when I'm in bed, I compose a post in my head, and often it's still there in the morning. But somehow the passive action of scrolling through my reader always takes precedence to getting those thoughts out of my brain and onto the screen. It's ridiculous, because there are really only a handful of bloggers I actually like to read. If I cleared my feed of the ones I mostly skim through, there would be more time both for reading the people I like and for my own writing. I think perhaps the subscriptions burgeoned in those early weeks with the kid, when I was desperate for whatever escapism I could get my hands on, and the thought of chronicling my misery was, well, miserable. But those days are behind me now, and I can feel a clear-out coming on. A spring clean in winter.
It's not just the reader that is feeling the wrath of the 'get rid of it' game. Last week, when I finally, for the first time in four months, had more than half an hour off from the kid (and had already showered and eaten and put the washing on), I cleaned our kitchen like I wanted the bond back. Our stovetop gleams still. The cupboards look freshly painted. The debris that was spreading further and further in from the edge of the table against the wall and threatening to completely take over was swiftly sorted and disposed of. I DUSTED, for crying out loud. (The only reason we even have a duster is because the boys assembled a 1950s-style basket of housewifery bits and pieces for a laff at my hen's. It is pink. I did not wear the matching slippers.) I feel cleansed.
The kid had a shitty night's sleep, and so did we, so I'm going to back to bed for the second half of his nap, having already put the washing on, talked to V about catching up next week, eaten and blogged. Pretty soon I'm going to have to get myself a hobby.
The Boy took the kid out to buy coffee one morning a few days ago and came back beaming at the kid's obvious delight at listening to the birds singing as they walked. He smiles, he laughs, he sucks incessantly at anything he can get his hands on. This morning, he rolled over. We are both besotted with this little human we made, and yet, as The Boy said, there is something melancholy about the whole process. He grows and learns and loves us back, and it is a stupendous thing. But the baby he used to be is gone forever. I can't believe I didn't love him from the very start. The Boy says it's ok, I didn't know him, and this is true. But it feels like such a waste. So many weeks without this feeling of indescribable joy. Never mind. It is here now, and it grows imperceptibly in the night while we sleep, so that every morning I wake just a little happier, a little more in love with the boys in my bed.
He sleeps! The kid sleeps! He'd been getting pretty good at the nights, thank goodness, but poor little bugger had screamed himself hoarse all last week over daytime sleeps. Try as I might, I couldn't get him past the magical 40-minute powernap, which meant misery all round. I wish someone had told me weeks ago that this catnapping was going to end in tears. I would have tried to fix it earlier. But we've nailed it now, and he's gradually losing his husky nightclub trashbag voice. All it took was a visit to the sleep school guru - one of the mums from the mothers' group who lives around the corner and who was in much deeper shit than we were.
We started the new regime a week ago, and despite numerous rule-bending situations, he has taken to it like a duck to water. He had two hours this morning and another two hours at lunch time, and not a peep out of him. And the best part... No more witching hour. It's a goddamned miracle.
Well lookee here. I appear to have had a full night of uninterrupted sleep. It only took a day short of fifteen weeks! Nice work, kiddo. Bed at 7, dream feed (sitting up in the chair, which somehow woke him up less than getting him in the bed with me) at about 11, and not a peep until after 7 this morning, when The Boy's alarm went off and the kitten started squawking. I am a new woman. Now we just have to work on making it happen every night.
Yesterday we meet the other mammas from our street at the station and took a wee train ride to the Gardens for stroller fitness - a walk around the Tan, interspersed with squats and lunges and push-ups etc, and then we ditched the mega pram-posse heading for the Domain Rd cafes (which are universally overpriced and staffed by people who Do Not Approve of prams) and wound our way down to Lawson Grove for breakfast. That little pocket of the world feels like Sydney, and so, like holidays. All three babies and mammas were fed and watered, and there was even some impromptu pants-changing, en plein air.
Also yesterday, I RAN for the first time in what seems like an absolute aeon. It was only up and down the hill path on the river side of the Tan, but still. Running. It felt FANTASTIC. The physio is going to write me up a program to ease me back into going the full distance again, and I am going to make the time to get out and do it, probably the instant The Boy gets home each day. I still kind of have the fear about the ol' calypso-collapso pelvic floor, but I'm squeezing away like a girl possessed, morning, noon and night, so fingers crossed everything stays where it should.
The kid is in bed, the washing is on, and there's an hour or two before The Boy comes home and we bundle ourselves into the car and head farm-wards. Lord, I love waking up in them hills. Life is pretty sweet.