When I was a little girl I longed to be a pebble, worn round and river-smooth. Nestled in my palm it grew warm with my blood, until it felt like a living thing. And I wished that I could be like that: solid and impenetrable to knocks.
Somebody on instagram told me to write about how I’m feeling. She said that it would be cathartic, to exsanguinate myself into words on a page. And then I would be able to write about my life again. About myself. So this is just an update really – on everything.
The more I fall in love with my children, the more of me is chipped away. This morning I leant down to kiss my daughter goodbye just as she jumped up to wrap her arms around my neck and cling tight; of all of my children, she hates my absence the most fiercely. The impact tasted of salt and metal and as I dropped her she stumbled backwards and fell. Kirsty brought me a piece of kitchen roll, and I spat blood as she buried her face in my shoulder and cried. Motherhood feels like that. It feels like holding somebody close whilst bleeding, like coming home exhausted and seeing a litter of pyjama-clad preschoolers perched on the bedroom windowsills like kittens. Like the sort of smile where you can feel, really feel, the wrinkles at the corner of your eyes.
I am so happy. I am so tired. I don’t know who I am any more.
I’m not a pebble. And the blood that warms me is my own.
Finally, instinctively, I have found the balance between work and the children. Sometimes it skews a little too far in one direction but for the most part I can right it before anyone notices – my boss or my babies. But I have lost myself a little; I birthed five children and suddenly I am thirty, middle-aged disconnected from myself, from my body. My heart is beating six times over, spread about the house. They are baby birds: chirping, frantic, mouths wide. They want everything, blood and bone and every bit of softness in me. And I think that if they wanted my liver, I’d take a knife and cut it out of myself and feed it to them in bite-sized pieces.
My god, no wonder I couldn’t write.
We have been trying to buy a home since January. And two months ago, Kirsty’s recurrent tonsillitis turned into something called a quinsy – an abscess of the throat. She is fine and there was no lasting damage but we have felt – fraught. We have felt without roots.
Listen, I know that I am unspeakably lucky. The force of my own luck sometimes causes me to stagger – that I found her, that we had them. And my beacon through this strange maternal exhaustion is the joy. We are buying a house at the seaside, not the strange home made beautiful that I had seen in my dreams but a dear little home that has been well-loved by its current owners. It sold within two days of it being listed and, of all the offers, the current owners chose us to purchase their home. I don’t know what drew them to us; perhaps it was the row of children stood outside of the front door in their raincoats whilst their mothers took it in turns to look within.
This is the town that calls to us and my little merfolk are so excited to move, to begin their new lives. We are hopeful that the mortgage application process is almost over now; we are daring to dream that we might, just might, coincide our move with the girls’ third birthday at the end of next month, in time to enroll the boys at school for the start of the September term. And that’s one of the reasons that I chose these photos to accompany my update post; because they document the weekend we found the house that we hope to call home.
Balthazar, Lysander, Embla and Olympia are at the most wonderful ages. I know that I say it every time I post an update, but I truly cannot see how things will ever be better than this; how one could improve upon children whom are four-and-a-half and not yet in school, and almost three, big enough to accompany us on adventures under their own steam (mostly), small enough to be filled with bright-shiny-eyed wonder, to want to run and laugh and play and to go where we go, to ride on our backs and to hold our hands.
They love – everything, really. They are children of the elements; they enjoy water in any form and are fascinated by fire, I can usually bring them out of flounces or tantrums by lighting a match and letting them blow it out. On walks they collect sticks and stones, snail shells and dandelions, they make strange cairns and dig holes and Balthazar especially will climb so high that we cannot reach him (his twin hovers anxiously at the base of the tree speculating as to whether we should call the fire brigade!).
When I am home, I take over bedtime; the boys wait in their rooms whilst I bid goodnight to their sisters, and then it is their turn. Embla and Olympia like to talk about the art in their rooms; we point out the moons and planets, stars and constellations and the dark, dark sky. We count the seventeen cats on the cat print, identify who is whom in all of the pictures, they each have a verse of La La Lu with both lyrics and tune badly bastardised. Embla is almost always asleep before I leave the room. Balthazar and Lysander like stories from my head about themselves, about insects that live in their garden, about imaginary worlds. They sit on my lap to read poetry – at the moment we are on a Shel Silverstein kick. There is a game that we play whereby I throw all of the pillows, the duvets and their toys at them whilst they dart about their bunkbed like little fish. I tuck them in and kiss them goodnight and, two minutes later, we hear them playing with their Lego on the floor.
Vita, our Baby V, continues to be a delight. She is a cheerful, loving little soul whom rarely cries but has learnt to bite whilst she feeds – I haven’t dropped her yet, but I fear that it is only a matter of time!