The Goblin Stump

Winter is coming. Tomorrow. It will be Pords’ first. She probably won’t notice, snuggled as she’ll be in a constant cocoon of swaddles and blankets. But for Pickles it will be tough. The blossoming independence of toddlerhood curtailed by cold and rain. It won’t be this cold forever. But a season is forever when you’re two.

So today, despite my preference for summery warmth, I put on my raincoat and boots and zipped Pickles into his puddle suit and we went exploring in the misty rain of the morning. A generous wind, appreciating our efforts, had deposited a spray of bright pink flowers in a hollowed out stump in our front garden. Pickles was intrigued. I told him that the goblins who lived in the stump were having a feast. They love to eat flowers. Pickles suggested that they also enjoyed grass and leaves and set to work adding to their spread.

I wondered where the goblins were. Given that it was a rainy day, I was surprised they weren’t at home. Pickles knew. He told me that they were out riding bunnies. The goblins can be tricksters, but by and large they are kind and gentle. The bunnies are their best friends. So that answered that.

Pickles didn’t want to go to sleep tonight. I sat next to him and held his hand as he lay in his little bed. Close your eyes. We’re in the garden near the Goblin Stump. We can hear some beautiful music coming from the stump. It sounds like tiny little bells ringing. We can smell something delicious. We walk over to the stump holding hands. We see two little goblins drinking tea from tiny flower cups. They offer us some tea too. It tastes like raindrops. Suddenly we’re shrinking down to the size of the goblins. There is a puddle the size of a lake. We go swimming in the puddle. The water is cool but the sun is lovely and warm. The sunlight starts filling us up. We feel it in our toes. Our feet. Our legs. Our tummies. Our shoulders. Out to our arms and hands and fingers. Back up to our necks. Our mouths. Our noses. Our eyes. Our ears. Our hair. We are warm and filled with light. We float up up up into the sky. Higher than the clouds. We fly like two balloons. We see our house below and float back down. We are big again and we are tired and we climb into bed. Kiss goodnight. And sleep.

One of the advantages of doing guided meditations to calm Pickles for sleep is that it also enables me to work mindfulness into my day. It definitely doesn’t work every time. In fact sometimes if he is reminded of something fun that happened during the day he gets more excited and worked up and wants to go over the story again. Again! But it is always a special, treasured time and so even when it doesn’t work, it works.


The Hokey Pokey

You put your whole self in

When I only had Pickles he was my whole world. He wasn’t my first experience of love. Before I had ever considered love as a concept I loved my family. Before I had ever attempted to articulate the enduring grandeur of deep friendship I loved my friends. Before I had ever sincerely contemplated the crashing complexity of true love I loved my partner. And other shades of love along the way, some that came and went, others that seared their intense brightness forever on my very being. Yet here he was and I saw my heart anew. Never really inside me anymore. In his every breath a heartbeat echoed. In his every smile and sigh and flailing grasp a soaring of the soul.

You take your whole self out

And so there I was lost to the world. Me but out of me. My whole self rewritten. Suddenly time was Vonnegutesque. I didn’t sleep but I was asleep. Had never slept  but was always sleeping. I was a child and a mother and had always been both. My mother was dancing me around the room. I was dancing Pickles around the room. I was here I was nowhere I was everywhere. It was perfect imperfect bliss. I had Pickles and nothing would ever be the same again. I hoped everything would always be the same.

You put your whole self in

When I only had Pickles he was my whole world. Every night I longed for the next day. Every smile was the first smile. I was every new parent and he was every superlative. I held him, rocked him, sang to him. I took him to music class, gym class, swimming class. The library, the zoo, museums, the theatre. Endless playgrounds. We explored together. We laughed and danced and shared a secret language of sounds and gestures. It was unfathomable that anything could ever be as wonderful as this, as him. This perfect little person. My heart overflowed everyday and was refilled by the mere memory of a moment.

And you shake it all about

And then. And then. There was Pords. Pickles is my world, my everything, the song of my heart. Pords is my world my everything, the song of my heart. When people described the love of subsequent children I was dubious. That the heart expands or makes room didn’t make sense to a new mother whose heart was already full to bursting. But it wasn’t that at all. This love is not an expansion of the heart. It is a new heart. They are separate loves. “Who is your favourite, mum?” “You’re all my favourites.” This is not glib. This is not trite. This is the impossible truth. When I turn my mind to Pickles he is my best love, my dearest child. When I turn my mind to Pords she is my best love, my dearest child.

You do the hokey pokey and you turn around

I have Pickles and he is my whole world. I have Pords and she is my whole world. And I have their father and he is my whole world. Together they are my universe, but each inhabits their own separate sphere. Each is my greatest joy. As a scholar and a teacher and a rational thinker it turns me around. Inside out and upside down. Why wish for the weekend or next month or Christmas time when there is the possibility of this impossible love? When there is the puzzle of how this can be so.

And that’s what it’s all about

And so, dear friends and enemies, that’s what it’s all about. Just life and adventures with Pickles and Pords. And their mum trying to make sense of it all.