To be a Mum or not to be- that’s the question…

“Flowers may bloom again but children never have the chance to be young again”. Bluey, Cbeebies.

I have read and reread parts of Sheila Heitis Motherhood. Heitis memoir details the journey of her process of deciding whether or not to become a mother. It charts her yearnings and her misgivings and leads towards the ultimate conclusion that she will not have children. I pre-conceived i would find the book tricky to navigate so was surprised when I didnt find it an uncomfortable read. Perhaps that was because i have already found my place, made my decision. I have children, three of them and i have lived both sides of the motherhood divide ; the childhood line with all its glory and despair, all the way through to the borderland where they become adults, despite always being in your minds eye your child. Reading it therefore was not a search to somehow provide myself with support for a difficult personal decision rather just curiosity about how other women perceive Mumhood.
What emerges from Heitis text is the consideration she submerges herself in. A complete commitment to making the right decision for her and her potential child. The argument grows against the background of her own self reflection rather than suggesting that the pitfalls or the difficulties she is having are solely due to how society has made her feel about being a mother. She recognises that her battles are from within- should she be free to do what she wishes or should she bequeath this to allow her child to be happy. I feel that she recognises that there is no case for working and mothering being equal, as the mother role will always out do so the work role in importance and so she bases her decision on this realisation and decides this is not a battle she wishes to have. She manages to separate herself from societal expectation.

I wondered about my own decision making process in this respect and found it to be quite weak in comparison. As a Mum , I have stayed at home to raise the children and I have worked; I have had more than ample income and more recently have raised them on the meagre offerings of unversal credit.It was never a question that i should do one or the other. With the elder two I did one and with smallest I did the other but not until the pandemic struck was it a conscous choice, grounded by personal experience, to consider if the two merge. A year after making the decision that they do not (see New Beginnings post) I have been reading articles about Women’s battles for equality in the working Mum world. What I have read has fed an internal discussion about the divide between parenting and sustaining a career. I have wondered about how current opinion manifests itself due the chosen relative needs and wants in society, as opposed to what is a consequence of absolute need.

Recent commentary has unearthed again the bitter subject of society’s appraisal of motherhood and the problems this creates for the woman. It settles in part on the impact of choosing to have a child on finances and careers. What is drawn out is the poor state of equality in this respect , exposed by Mother friendly organisations such as Pregnnat then Screwed and written about by many authors, Eva Wiseman and Eliane Glaser of The Observer and The Guardian, standing out in particular.
The explicit content of the discussion centres on the issue of womens equality and as a women, I am all for that of course. The trickiness comes from what we are being encouraged to be equal about. Having a career and a raising a young child, in particular the notion that we should have equal access at all times even when our children are still very young. Activists have termed this a woman centred approach to child rearing , putting the needs of the woman above the child; arguing that if the women is happy i.e able to work and earn with the ease of a single person or the father, then the child will be happy. This is a risky supposition, one that cant easily be measured and which has such great consequences. Does the Mum going out to work make the child happy? What if, what makes the child happy is the Mother being at home? Is having a career perceived as more of an achievement than raising a child well?

The opposite approach, natural motherhood was discussed by Eliane Glaser in The Guardian (18th May 2021) .Eliane argues against natural motherhood stating that this is not compatible with 21st century life. It is no longer possible for us to be present all the time or to provide the kind of care that is deemed as essential for the childs healthy development cited by professionals. It is certainly true that things can be very tricky, though whether it is possible to argue against natural motherhood completely ,without sounding blindsided is doubtful. The main difficulty with the argument is if we opt out of natural motherhood in favour of the women centred approach case then our children, small creatures with developing brains, are going to somehow have to sidestep their biological mechansims and fit in wit whatever it is that 21st century can give to them. Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle at a point where it feels comfortable for both the child and mother.

It is very difficult to argue against biology, to see motherhood as a contemporary issue that can be aapted for life in the fast lane.

The dual thinking around natural vs women centred parenting was a topic I discussed with a friend years ago after a Saturday morning gymnsastics class for my daughter. That morning I sat next to a woman who had her four month baby sitting in a car seat in front of her. The Mum chatted to me and it turmed out that she worked full time while her child was in nursery. At the time I was still at home with smallest and spoke about my plans to go back to work which i was concerned about. “Oh”, she said,”I know – the expense of childcare……..I literally work to pay for it”. “Its not the cost I worry”, about i replied, “I am just worried that leaving him is the wrong thing for him”. She then sighed and laughed, “oh well i know would NOT wnt to be at home looking after a baby all day. They are easier when they are older”. The conversation ended but fired up a chat I had with a friend later. He smarted, “well obviously a lot of women just work because its a means to an end. They want to work and have a kid- have their cake and eat it”. Although I had been shocked by how she had removed herself from the role of being a Mum, my reaction to this was defensive, I tried to shield her status. At the time i was juggling three jobs and raising the elder two alone; I felt guilty at the time I spent away from them – so i argued for her, that often people work to maintain a career and to balance the finaceces. The contradiction in my felt response and verbal defense of this women though sat with me and I have often wondered why despite my natural inclination towards wanting to be wih the children, why did i always do the very thing which caused me and them the most discomfort? And the response I had learned to say , “Well its because you need to dont you….”.

The issue of the cost and provision of childcare has been raised again and again inthe pandemic. Eva Wiseman (The Observer 16th May 2021), comments on how undervalued and underinvested in our childcare system is in comparison to other Europen countries. She reflects there is a need to value the system more as we as women are raising the next geenration of this country and this should not be overlooked. And how right she is although for me there is a fundamental issue with this. The stand of her and many others is based on the facilities being there for our children to be looked after by someone else. Its based upon the notion of woman centred child rearing. Perhaps what is needed is a system for allowing Mums to fulfill this role of raising the next generation in these early years. Providing us with the chance to take secure career breaks for longer periods, so we have jobs to go back to. A system anyway that would to allow us to be with our children without worrying about work all the time or being so exhausted from our dual lives that when we are with our children we see all their behaviours as emotional and inconvenient. Or perhaps what could change is how we are educating young women about Motherhood, so that they don’t grow with the expectation that a women needs to do both at the same time. There is an option to do things seprately.

Wiseman recounts a moment with her childminder where the childminder candidly tells her that the reason her child is crying so much is because she knows that her Mum is going off to work is becase she wants to and not becuase she needs to. This moment has stuck vehemently with Eva who recalls it years later; enough to include it in her column. One wonders about the audacity of the comment and I murmered my support intially, until I considered need and want and i must admit, my allegiances fell to the child. For in this situation, where we take our child and place them in the care of another, particularly when the child is under three ,I feel it is our want that is being satisfied and their need denied. Years later when I made the decision to resign , leading the way was the justification – you can make money again but builing a childs resilience and well being is a lot harder when they are older.

The issue of need and want is raised again by Eliane Glaser. Initially we are presented with a waft of statistics mainly pointing towards the pitfalls of motherhood which again frame the incompatibility of being a mother and working. The statistics I would say are unsurprising, we all know the downfalls.
The article though traverses to framing motherhood in terms of the wants of the mother and appears loosly to suggest that shifting devlopmental theory somehow legitimises the morality of rebranding the role of mother into something a bt more compatible with the 21st century woman. Donald Winnicotts theory appears to be utilised to justify a level of care given, good enough translated as a minimum requirement for the role. Winncotts ideal of the good enough Mother though is as important as his other observations. The me and not me distinction is integral to the Winnicotian tradition, detailing the importance of child learning to be on their own through learning to be with one other namely Mum/Guardian; achieved through a slow introduction to their environment at a pace that they can manage. I think this is key. Winnicott was a innovative thinker and his theories reflected his views that the mother and baby cannot be seen as separate at first, we have very primitive nature, primary maternal preoccupation being his equal to a instinctive state where the baby is the mothers absolute concern and everything should be done to ensure that that her focus is not impeded upon. Work as an intrusion is disruptive to this state.

Eliane ends her piece describing how natural motherhood is pushed upon us my midwives, health visiors or professionals where we , “are guilt tripped into parenting that is not compatible with work outside the home.” She contrasts this with woman centred motherhood which is described as and sold to us on the basis that it is in both the child and the others intersts that they ar both happy. But does this equate to an all out rejection of natural motherhood, does it mean reducing the experince to gymnsatics lady? If the central isue is about equality, then have we gained eqality for ourselves at the expense of equality for the child- through a complete rejection of the very basic emotional needs of the childs developing brain.

Regardless tied in to what can be quite a circular argument are the wants and the needs of the child itself and no mother woud argue that the child yearning for its parent is a need rather than a want. All children learn to be without their parents but how they do it is important. I remember seprating from the eldest two – it was easy because they were ready- what I experienced with smallest was not easy because he was not ready. Which is why Ie made the decision to go back. Did I feel guilt? Absolutely. Maybe but this came from knowing I had not ultimatley given him the time to become ready. I was aware of the difficulties this would cause him problems later on down the line.

Much content appears to suggest that society creates problems, not enough childcare, telling us we should do this do that and the other, but maybe just maybe the problem comes from arguing against something which is innate. Perhaps we are making our own experinces of Motherhood bad not because of what society says or doesnt say or does or doesnt provide but because of how we receive the experience. I did it for years, argued that i should be out at work, worked all hours never saw my children who were always with someone else. The only time we ever felt better was when i stopped, held my hands up and said , i am going to stay at home because he needs me and my older children told me that was all they ever wanted. For me to be at home with them.

I had to make that choice at the expense of my children- expense in terms of childcare and more imprtantly their well being which I find out ten years on was at risk- they hated it but could not put into words what they were feeling at the time as they did not have the anguage for it. They were tired, dealing with all sorts from the day in an environment they were not overly keen on despite the outstanding status. Worse still by the time i picked them up i was too tired to be genuine and so i packed them off to bed with their worries which would have to wait until the weekend.

As a women, or as a supporteer of woman as a male friend once said, yoou nod along and shake your head appropiely to much of this information however there is something else that you are left with. Women succomb to it all because that is what is done. Its like a collective unconscious and then we spend time venting the difficulties and sourcing the root of the problem externally our view of our role as a mother bruised by a collision with our occupational role.A residue of something that emerges, not from the central argument of writing but from the something which leaks into the sentences. This something can be descibed as a shameful unintended conseuence of our response to the probems of working mothers. Its the lack of value which some women place on our primary role.

When I read motherhood by Heiti , in the first few pages i wondered how she was oing to fill a whole book with her comtemplations. By the end it is clear that this is probably exactly what we should all do; be able to consider our role and what it means for the unborn child on this level. Heitis of course looked at the ultimate question if she ever wanted children, i am of course wondering about contemplation for those of us who are making the decision when to have children. It is clear that Heitis conclusion was right for her however anyone who can give that amount of consideration and care over such an important question would undoubetdly make a very caring parent.

The suggestion that we hould rebrand motherhood- so that it can catch up with the 21st century womenn, as if biology is mallaeable, appears odd- almost mechanical. The biological element of mothering doesnt stop the moment the baby is born, neither does it disappaear at 9 months, 18 months or three years. Its kind of there always. Yes there are lots of other people who could and do make good contributons but essentially as the Mum you are the centre of everything for the child. And that is pretty special.

Conceiveably, now could be a time when we start to consider a reorgansation of our perception of the mother role. We have battled long and hard for a change to the system but little has shifted and maybe that is telling us something.If the first 1000 days are so important,then lets help our Mums be part of it physically and to embrace it mentally. Sell Motherhood; its not a glitch or a blip or a gap, its for life and it is the soil of someone elses life.Ultimately, children do not grow in a vacuum , they grow with a primary significant other. Perhaps if we are not willing or able to give the child a few years of our life then maybe we should be questioning if this is the point in our life where we raise one.

We have the potential to generate a more favourable view of being a Mum to highlight just what an importnat job this is rather than societal expectation cultivating an attitude towards Motherhood that appears to have a ” blithe disregard for the indispensible role of mothers in securing any future whatsoever.” (Jacquline Rose, Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty).

New beginnings

“They sacrificed instinct to phoney ambition” Kate Tempest , Holy Elixir.

Our lives have become steadily intertwined so that even now, I await his determined footsteps thudding down the staircase at 6.00am. I have even moved the kettle to my bedroom to limit the sounds which might be attractive to a three year old at this time. As I write this, his feet circumnavigate mine and he mumbles, peeks and sighs at my pen to stop dancing; as if wishing to resume the dance of reciprocity we left off from last night. Instead , he stops and tells me, “I know you cannot play but can you get my ‘brooming’ car from the table. Of course I can.

Later, on a walk to the car from our home, I join his narration of our surroundings; the smelly lavender house, the house with the lady who takes photographs for important newspapers, the alternative family house, the house with the rainbows, the other house with the rainbows, the house with the lady I met at baby massage, the seashell house and the house with the fellow, ‘red arrow lookout’ man. This guy we met early in lockdown, when looking (funnily enough,) for the red arrows. I , on this occasion (as if there were many) saw them , he it transpired did not. Finally there is the house with, well another rainbow.

On this particular morning we languished along the uneven pavment lining the increasingly busy road which slopes down towards town. My little fella held my hand and in the other directed his bin lorry; across mountains and through ravines, over volcanoes and past monsters, with the ease of a three year old mind. He stopped as we near the corner of the road to which we are heading and looks down. Stooping to get a closer look at the pavement, in his default mode he shouts , “Ohhhhh look Mummy ooooo Snails”.

“Oh yes”, I marvelled and met his amazement, as indeed there were two snails which appear to be moving very slowly toward the very busy downward slope.

“Where are they going?”, he asks passing me his bin lorry. Grasping his hands together he crouches and says, “oh are they a Mummy and a baby snail?”

I squint and it appears indeed that this pair of travellers to the untrained snail eye, are an adult and a child so, “yes” I confirm, this is a Mum snail and her child.

They slide in linear formation , rather concerningly towards the very busy downward slope. True lemming style I silently muse. “Gosh”, I said, “they are going that way.”I point to the road. Picking up my concern – and the snails, he proceeds to place them on the wall of the man who didn’t see the red arrows, garden.

As if considering how they might feel about such upheaval, he places them together and says, “there- now you are next to each other. They will be safe now Mummy.” He promptly takes my free hand and we smile at each other. “Good job chap”, I say and we continue tot he car.

I am pleasantly glowing at the sense of empathy he is demonstrating through this one small act and it occurs to me that this is something which I have been exposed to increasingly throughout the pandemic, alongside the growing realisation within of certain moralistic values unrealised prior to lockdown. There appears to be a growing sense within people, of the importance of being with and helping others. On our street there has been a definite increase in sociability but more than this there is a jarring sense of empathy within me of not just wanting to help others, but needing to. A need which I am more and more certain particularly thoughout these weeks and months, has driven certain episodes throughout my life, although up until now I have directed it away from home. Now though and on this day in particular, there is a sense that this drive if you like, has been speaking to me for some years and has been in the ascendant since my youngest child’s birth, fighting for survival alongside its phoney enemy: the career.

Later, standing alongside the little chap in a field of wheat ( after many months of walking in said fields), I examine, with my new expertise, the grasses to determine which they are. “I think”, I say with some confidence to the little chap, “we have rye grass and sedge”. Yes Sedge Mummy. We smile at each other. He promptly shouts “chase me” and I do so tiredly but knowing its OK because lifes urgency is not really there right now.

Running after him, I become aware that my feelings of late are leading somewhere and whatever the enemy presents in servitude , the instinctual side of life is winning over, subtley but with a reverence only biology can muster.

The evening swings round and I listen back to a speech by Rabbi Sachs on Radio 4s Today programme. He conveys the need to be with someone and to live with others and draw upon them for support, beliefs which are blended with my own earlier realisations. I think starkly about how often we forgo our children as humans, our own children to achieve stability in our finances and careers for a future that is so far off and indeed, might not be. It reminds me of the words of my new Bumble friend (lockdown discovery) who says – “its never worth it.” Teaching our little ones that people are the most important thing, starts by letting them know that they are the most important thing so they can feel first hand the impact that this has on others. Teaching them that they are important- but as long as we can have a career and things as well is the current status quo and no doubt for many it is just about surviving. I get that. I too am David Cameron’s definition of a JAM citizen. But, for both parents to be absent for long periods is becoming more and more difficult to justify for me, particularly when I have spent the last three years exploring the importance of synchrony and regulation of our emotional state with primary relationships. I have struggled to let go – I cannot forgive myself or forget the pain of separation from him. The biological propensity to be with him is far stronger than my desire to be a successful member of SLT in a school.It has been made even stronger through this lockdown , which has demonstrated how very little we need on a daily basis to actually survive and to be content.

And so I resign. I resign so for the next year so I can be with him, I can nurture him watch him grow and ensure he is ready for school. I am a single parent to three children. I have very little income and I do not have any assets. I have built up a career and some might say that I should pursue this, that this decision is irresponsible but knowing what I know now and thinking about the future, my childrens future, I think to myself is it such a great sacrifice to live in relative poverty financially for a year in order to give emotional security for a life time to children? I think the answer is unequivocally no.

I feel to do otherwise is essentially being somewhat like the mother snail we witnessed this morning. Leading your child with the absolute best of intention into the business of the world with the goal that you should both get to the other side in one piece. Perhaps with a bit of space to think things through, that journey can be made with a little less risk to well being; by having a bit more time together and waiting for the choice to be taken away from me rather than making a choice which I will never be at one with.

So like those snails my boy and I sit on a wall and observe. As life begins to pick up after lockdown we, are staying at the same pace. We look forward, with the knowledge that we have what we need within us to make it through this year and after that he will have the resilience to cope with what ever he finds on the other side of that busy road.

Eins

When the past is still present, then the present passes us by.

If I could have felt my pregnancy how I feel it now. It was as if my mind could not meet with my body. The pregnancy accelerated as I struggled to be part of it. The eyes did not focus and what I saw was milky white as if I was frozen inside; my mind paralysed to the reality of my situation. I felt it odd , considering it was my third pregnancy, but it may as well have been my first. I treated it as if it were a given; I think I was treated as if my experience would be easy. I wasn’t just a Mum but a Mum of two older children and so I had accumulated experience mapping half my life time.Then came labour.

The tightening of the insides and the analgesia of the pause made the pregnancy hang on. Teetering on the precipice, as precious life made renewed efforts to grasp his mother.

The false self lost its hold and I cried; I mourned our failed relationship, howled at the rejection and humiliation experienced and was still receiving in the midst of the chaos.

So now single working and struggling with life I find comfort in hope and realise that it has been hope that has been the real sustenance of my life.

Only now can i relax and really think about what I am. I am a Mum I am a Mother.  


.

To be a Mum or not to be- that’s the question…

“Flowers may bloom again but children never have the chance to be young again”. Bluey, Cbeebies.

I have read and reread parts of Sheila Heitis Motherhood. Heitis memoir details the journey of her process of deciding whether or not to become a mother. It charts her yearnings and her misgivings and leads towards the ultimate conclusion that she will not have children. I pre-conceived i would find the book tricky to navigate so was suprised when I didnt find it an uncomfortable read. Perhaps that was because i have alreay found my place, made my decision. I have children, three of them and i have lived both sides of the motherhood divide ; the childhood line with all its glory and despair, all the way through to the borderland where they become adults, despite always being in your minds eye your child. Reading it therefore was not a search to somehow provide myself with support for a diffciult personal decision rather just curiosity about how other women perceive Mumhood.
What emerges from Heitis text is the consideration she submerges hersef in. A complete committment to making the right decision for her and her potential child. The argument grows against the background of her own self refelction rather than suggesting that the pitfalls or the difficulties she is having are solely due to how society has made her feel about being a mother. She recognises that her battles are from within- should she be free to do what she wishes or should she bequeath this to allow her child to be happy. I feel that she recognises that there is no case for working and mothering being equal, as the mother role will always out do so the work role in importance and so she bases her decision on this realsiation and decides this is not a battle she wishes to have. She manages to separate herself from societal expectation.

I wondered about my own decision making process in this respect and found it to be quite weak in comparison. As a Mum , I have stayed at home to raise the children and I have worked; I have had more than ample income and more recently have raised them on the meagre offerings of unversal credit.It was never a question that i should do one or the other. With the elder two I did one and with smallest I did the other but not until the pandemic struck was it a conscous choice, grounded by personal experience, to consider if the two merge. A year after making the decision that they do not (see New Beginnings post) I have been reading articles about Women’s battles for equality in the working Mum world. What I have read has fed an internal discussion about the divide between parenting and sustaining a career. I have wondered about how current opinion manifests itself due the chosen relative needs and wants in society, as opposed to what is a consequence of absolute need.

Recent commentary has unearthed again the bitter subject of society’s appraisal of motherhood and the problems this creates for the woman. It settles in part on the impact of choosing to have a child on finances and careers. What is drawn out is the poor state of equality in this respect , exposed by Mother friendly organisations such as Pregnnat then Screwed and written about by many authors, Eva Wiseman and Eliane Glaser of The Observer and The Guardian, standing out in particular.
The explicit content of the discussion centres on the issue of womens equality and as a women, I am all for that of course. The trickiness comes from what we are being encouraged to be equal about. Having a career and a raising a young child, in particular the notion that we should have equal access at all times even when our children are still very young. Activists have termed this a woman centred approach to child rearing , putting the needs of the woman above the child; arguing that if the women is happy i.e able to work and earn with the ease of a single person or the father, then the child will be happy. This is a risky supposition, one that cant easily be measured and which has such great consequences. Does the Mum going out to work make the child happy? What if, what makes the child happy is the Mother being at home? Is having a career perceived as more of an achievement than raising a child well?

The opposite approach, natural motherhood was discussed by Eliane Glaser in The Guardian (18th May 2021) .Eliane argues against natural motherhood stating that this is not compatible with 21st century life. It is no longer possible for us to be present all the time or to provide the kind of care that is deemed as essential for the childs healthy development cited by professionals. It is certainly true that things can be very tricky, though whether it is possible to argue against natural motherhood completely ,without sounding blindsided is doubtful. The main difficulty with the argument is if we opt out of natural motherhood in favour of the women centred approach case then our children, small creatures with developing brains, are going to somehow have to sidestep their biological mechansims and fit in wit whatever it is that 21st century can give to them. Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle at a point where it feels comfortable for both the child and mother.

It is very difficult to argue against biology, to see motherhood as a contemporary issue that can be aapted for life in the fast lane.

The dual thinking around natural vs women centred parenting was a topic I discussed with a friend years ago after a Saturday morning gymnsastics class for my daughter. That morning I sat next to a woman who had her four month baby sitting in a car seat in front of her. The Mum chatted to me and it turmed out that she worked full time while her child was in nursery. At the time I was still at home with smallest and spoke about my plans to go back to work which i was concerned about. “Oh”, she said,”I know – the expense of childcare……..I literally work to pay for it”. “Its not the cost I worry”, about i replied, “I am just worried that leaving him is the wrong thing for him”. She then sighed and laughed, “oh well i know would NOT wnt to be at home looking after a baby all day. They are easier when they are older”. The conversation ended but fired up a chat I had with a friend later. He smarted, “well obviously a lot of women just work because its a means to an end. They want to work and have a kid- have their cake and eat it”. Although I had been shocked by how she had removed herself from the role of being a Mum, my reaction to this was defensive, I tried to shield her status. At the time i was juggling three jobs and raising the elder two alone; I felt guilty at the time I spent away from them – so i argued for her, that often people work to maintain a career and to balance the finaceces. The contradiction in my felt response and verbal defense of this women though sat with me and I have often wondered why despite my natural inclination towards wanting to be wih the children, why did i always do the very thing which caused me and them the most discomfort? And the response I had learned to say , “Well its because you need to dont you….”.

The issue of the cost and provision of childcare has been raised again and again inthe pandemic. Eva Wiseman (The Observer 16th May 2021), comments on how undervalued and underinvested in our childcare system is in comparison to other Europen countries. She reflects there is a need to value the system more as we as women are raising the next geenration of this country and this should not be overlooked. And how right she is although for me there is a fundamental issue with this. The stand of her and many others is based on the facilities being there for our children to be looked after by someone else. Its based upon the notion of woman centred child rearing. Perhaps what is needed is a system for allowing Mums to fulfill this role of raising the next generation in these early years. Providing us with the chance to take secure career breaks for longer periods, so we have jobs to go back to. A system anyway that would to allow us to be with our children without worrying about work all the time or being so exhausted from our dual lives that when we are with our children we see all their behaviours as emotional and inconvenient. Or perhaps what could change is how we are educating young women about Motherhood, so that they don’t grow with the expectation that a women needs to do both at the same time. There is an option to do things seprately.

Wiseman recounts a moment with her childminder where the childminder candidly tells her that the reason her child is crying so much is because she knows that her Mum is going off to work is becase she wants to and not becuase she needs to. This moment has stuck vehemently with Eva who recalls it years later; enough to include it in her column. One wonders about the audacity of the comment and I murmered my support intially, until I considered need and want and i must admit, my allegiances fell to the child. For in this situation, where we take our child and place them in the care of another, particularly when the child is under three ,I feel it is our want that is being satisfied and their need denied. Years later when I made the decision to resign , leading the way was the justification – you can make money again but builing a childs resilience and well being is a lot harder when they are older.

The issue of need and want is raised again by Eliane Glaser. Initially we are presented with a waft of statistics mainly pointing towards the pitfalls of motherhood which again frame the incompatibility of being a mother and working. The statistics I would say are unsurprising, we all know the downfalls.
The article though traverses to framing motherhood in terms of the wants of the mother and appears loosly to suggest that shifting devlopmental theory somehow legitimises the morality of rebranding the role of mother into something a bt more compatible with the 21st century woman. Donald Winnicotts theory appears to be utilised to justify a level of care given, good enough translated as a minimum requirement for the role. Winncotts ideal of the good enough Mother though is as important as his other observations. The me and not me distinction is integral to the Winnicotian tradition, detailing the importance of child learning to be on their own through learning to be with one other namely Mum/Guardian; achieved through a slow introduction to their environment at a pace that they can manage. I think this is key. Winnicott was a innovative thinker and his theories reflected his views that the mother and baby cannot be seen as separate at first, we have very primitive nature, primary maternal preoccupation being his equal to a instinctive state where the baby is the mothers absolute concern and everything should be done to ensure that that her focus is not impeded upon. Work as an intrusion is disruptive to this state.

Eliane ends her piece describing how natural motherhood is pushed upon us my midwives, health visiors or professionals where we , “are guilt tripped into parenting that is not compatible with work outside the home.” She contrasts this with woman centred motherhood which is described as and sold to us on the basis that it is in both the child and the others intersts that they ar both happy. But does this equate to an all out rejection of natural motherhood, does it mean reducing the experince to gymnsatics lady? If the central isue is about equality, then have we gained eqality for ourselves at the expense of equality for the child- through a complete rejection of the very basic emotional needs of the childs developing brain.

Regardless tied in to what can be quite a circular argument are the wants and the needs of the child itself and no mother woud argue that the child yearning for its parent is a need rather than a want. All children learn to be without their parents but how they do it is important. I remember seprating from the eldest two – it was easy because they were ready- what I experienced with smallest was not easy because he was not ready. Which is why Ie made the decision to go back. Did I feel guilt? Absolutely. Maybe but this came from knowing I had not ultimatley given him the time to become ready. I was aware of the difficulties this would cause him problems later on down the line.

Much content appears to suggest that society creates problems, not enough childcare, telling us we should do this do that and the other, but maybe just maybe the problem comes from arguing against something which is innate. Perhaps we are making our own experinces of Motherhood bad not because of what society says or doesnt say or does or doesnt provide but because of how we receive the experience. I did it for years, argued that i should be out at work, worked all hours never saw my children who were always with someone else. The only time we ever felt better was when i stopped, held my hands up and said , i am going to stay at home because he needs me and my older children told me that was all they ever wanted. For me to be at home with them.

I had to make that choice at the expense of my children- expense in terms of childcare and more imprtantly their well being which I find out ten years on was at risk- they hated it but could not put into words what they were feeling at the time as they did not have the anguage for it. They were tired, dealing with all sorts from the day in an environment they were not overly keen on despite the outstanding status. Worse still by the time i picked them up i was too tired to be genuine and so i packed them off to bed with their worries which would have to wait until the weekend.

As a women, or as a supporteer of woman as a male friend once said, yoou nod along and shake your head appropiely to much of this information however there is something else that you are left with. Women succomb to it all because that is what is done. Its like a collective unconscious and then we spend time venting the difficulties and sourcing the root of the problem externally our view of our role as a mother bruised by a collision with our occupational role.A residue of something that emerges, not from the central argument of writing but from the something which leaks into the sentences. This something can be descibed as a shameful unintended conseuence of our response to the probems of working mothers. Its the lack of value which some women place on our primary role.

When I read motherhood by Heiti , in the first few pages i wondered how she was oing to fill a whole book with her comtemplations. By the end it is clear that this is probably exactly what we should all do; be able to consider our role and what it means for the unborn child on this level. Heitis of course looked at the ultimate question if she ever wanted children, i am of course wondering about contemplation for those of us who are making the decision when to have children. It is clear that Heitis conclusion was right for her however anyone who can give that amount of consideration and care over such an important question would undoubetdly make a very caring parent.

The suggestion that we hould rebrand motherhood- so that it can catch up with the 21st century womenn, as if biology is mallaeable, appears odd- almost mechanical. The biological element of mothering doesnt stop the moment the baby is born, neither does it disappaear at 9 months, 18 months or three years. Its kind of there always. Yes there are lots of other people who could and do make good contributons but essentially as the Mum you are the centre of everything for the child. And that is pretty special.

Conceiveably, now could be a time when we start to consider a reorgansation of our perception of the mother role. We have battled long and hard for a change to the system but little has shifted and maybe that is telling us something.If the first 1000 days are so important,then lets help our Mums be part of it physically and to embrace it mentally. Sell Motherhood; its not a glitch or a blip or a gap, its for life and it is the soil of someone elses life.Ultimately, children do not grow in a vacuum , they grow with a primary significant other. Perhaps if we are not willing or able to give the child a few years of our life then maybe we should be questioning if this is the point in our life where we raise one.

We have the potential to generate a more favourable view of being a Mum to highlight just what an importnat job this is rather than societal expectation cultivating an attitude towards Motherhood that appears to have a ” blithe disregard for the indispensible role of mothers in securing any future whatsoever.” (Jacquline Rose, Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty).

Wheat fields forever

Mud fun

I like December especially now that it means not going to work. I feel I can enjoy the end of this year; fading with the light as winter is let in by Autumn. Life sometimes feels a bit lack lustre at this time. Especially this year, when we all teeter on the precipice of another lockdown. We have reached the end of lockdown #2 and have been ushered into a new phase of our countries attempts to slow the spread of Covid.Here in Essex we are in Tier 2 . What this basically means is we can’t do anything more than what we were allowed to do before Lockdown- other than go shopping.All children’s activity centres are still closed as are many other potential sources of amusement for small people.The prospect of being in close proximity to many eager Christmas shoppers doesn’t grab me, so we head back.

This is disappointing for smallest as yesterday he told me he wants “to jump” , to run “ and in reference to the swimming pool “I just want to splash Mummy”. He was basically telling me that he had more energy than he knew he could use in the front room , hence today’s excursion to the Fields.

I have mentioned these fields before as they have been our place of choice throughout lockdown . First as a place to fill time but gradually as a place where time became represented differently. It opened up space where I have made decisions and new angles of life and relationships were uncovered. Without the chaos of the old , life took on took on a seasonal rhythm, emerging as I began to see what was around me.

Smallest seem beleaguered as we drove up to the site where we park. “We already go here Mummy. Loads of times”.

His mood expressed via the bottom lip was tempered though, when he looked out over the field. All he said was “oh” and I looked to take in what he saw. The change was stark .

The hedgerows have been taken back and the fields were already swaddled with the first signs of a new crop, green of course and so in contrast to our last visit, where it was heavy with yellow wheat. The oaks which line the paths had shed and stood in their majesty. He walked on clear paths and then ran and ran. He stopped only to examine the troughs created by farm machinery; staggering its way alongside fields it has serviced.

A nostalgic undertone emerged from beneath a cloud. I remembered the fields of April ,May and June and felt lifted by the simplicity of the memory. Created with no effort, no money; a complete absence of first world reality.

Meanwhile smallest scouted the puddles and dipped in his stick, then very carefully waded through. With each puddle confidence grew until at last turning toward the next path, he jumped and jumped and shouted “mummy I’m jumping” and “I’m splashing look at me”. The afternoon carried on in that vein and by the time we had circled our way back to the car he had a managed to tick all his required boxes for fun. He had run, jumped and splashed – the only thing missing, other children , which he pointed out, “well I can’t go near them anyway Mummy” and “you are the fastest runner”. It is true.

I wondered about the year. Sense by sense we are lulled into the last months. We have acclimatised and our senses have settled on our new surroundings . Birdsong which drowned evenings has dropped a notch and the sound of laughter from the scatted neighbourhood barbecues has disappeared. The fireworks which spattered the skies since November 5th are silent and the trees stand bare , resolute in their preparation for spring. And on a different scale we have accepted the new normal.

Thinking forward, one thing I most look forward to is doing this all over again (minus the pandemic) .These exact same walks which offer us completely different landscapes through the seasons. Walks where smallest gets what he needs and I the food to wonder.

So , as 21 tugs at the corner of 20 , I wonder whether what we need for humanity has been noticed. Just as I can look at the pictures and see the small differences which transformed mine and smallest perception of our field; can we as a collective see how little changes in each of our lives can transform this planet for all our futures? I am hopeful; but then my glass is always half full.

I wonder what you hope for in the year ahead?

Polo United

Crazy laughter emanates from the carriage. We have boarded nearest to the engine, at the back of the train. It seems the potentiality of this summer’s day has lifted the spirits of commuters. We take our seats in the middle of the carriage , back facing our destination.

The train is full and a pack of middle aged men in long sleeved shirts and suit trousers are separated, instead sitting in file, next to other not known, smiling city types. Sunglasses decorate their faces hiding eyes as they arch their necks round to continue conversations already established.

A quartet of early twenties hopefuls, making the early commute sit on the opposite side of the carriage to them facing backwards. The omnipotent emotions generated by this, one of their first journeys it’s appears as commuters, still holds enough novelty to generate an air of self- importance. It sends shockwaves through the personality. I cannot see the girls but I can hear them , piercing voices with little intonation giving opinion on news items, it appears to the whole carriage. Their volume increases as the old timers take up the ingroup offer of a polo which gets entwined in a discussion about ebola. “This makes an Ebolo”, a female voice finishes. Titters amongst the group and a raucous response from the males each keen to take up the offer of a mint. I look up.

“Yeh I’ll have an Ebolo Polo”, a clean shaven smiling sun-glassed man jokes.

Laughter circles, racing up the carriage

Encouraged by full smiles, framed with lipstick, compliments are flung towards the females.

“Intelligent and beautiful,” remarks the man sitting furthest from the group, he drops his glasses and smiles holding his stare confidently before sliding the glasses back and returning his head back to rest on the rose red head support.

His friend sitting directly twists round in front – “you flatterer”  he smirks.

“Anything for an Ebolo Polo!” the man replies , smiling.

The females laugh and a kind of parabolic inflation of ego exchanges occurs – “you are so kind thankyou!” the female repies.

“No thankyou – thanks for sharing”, it continues

“Oh not at all- we like to share the Ebolo”.

Laughter rises once more.

My companion on this journey whispers in my ear.

“Would you like a polo?”

“Are you offering?”- I return my face to theirs. We laugh.

Closer

Closely

We meet momentarily.

“Yes”.

The transparency of the moment is framed with laughter infecting faces up the carriage, mouths stretching and eyes dancing to and fro. The lighter side of humanity takes hold and dispels myths of a future of fractious dystopia and just for a moment,

One moment,

We are

United by a polo.

Adults are bad for Mother Earth

In a deviation from his usual preoccupations smallest has become very interested in the natural world.This started with curiosity about the workings of Volcanoes.

Explaining how a volcano works to a 4 year old is no mean feat. Enter You Tube with its plethora of options to enable a level of understanding suitable for us both.

We selected a 7 minute programme hosted by “Mother Earth”, an animation which by my standards is hilarious and is a mine of information. Smallest is suitably impressed and we have watched this many times over the past week. Subsequently, at any given moment he has found the space to regurgitate his new found knowledge. “Lava is molten rock”, he says. “Yes”, I say. “Pompeii is in Italy”. I nod. “We are bundles of matter” he shouts. “Right”, I say.

Despite his fascination with Volcanoes his main interest appears to be Mother Earth herself. “Why is she called Mother Earth?”, he asks. I explain that we sometimes refer to our planet as Mother Earth, as she is the home of everything that lives and she keeps us alive , just like our Mums do I say . “Oh”, he says and stuffs a(nother) fig roll in his mouth.

Today we left early for our usual morning walk around the Abbey Field. In this journey we decide to walk past the site where the old Gym used to stand before it was knocked down four years ago. It’s been cordoned off by a wall of wooden fence panels, painted in anti-climb paint. We know this because there are signs dotted around on the fence panels with a picture of a Mammoth and the words warning anti climb paint written underneath. Obviously smallest queries the content of the signs and I tell him, explaining that Mamut is french for Mammoth. This sign is for a security company who must patrol the site.”What does it say?”, he asks again and I tell him that it says ‘Mamut’. “But this means Mammoth”, I add. “Mamut”,he says. “Yes, yes it ..means Mammoth”. Preferring the French smallest asks ,”Where are the Mammuts?”

“Pardon?”,I say. Smallest appears to be looking around the site.

“Where are they?” , he has stopped now and he is looking at the derelict gym site. “Oh no they are not there sweetheart they are extinct i say”. It’s just a picture. They are not there. I understand his confusion. He looks puzzled as if to say why is there a picture of a Mamut with a warning sign if there are no Mamuts there.

As we walk home he asks what extinct is and I explain that this is what happens when an animal used to exist but doesn’t anymore – maybe because they were all killed by another animal or even us. “killed by grown ups?”, he asks and I reply well maybe sometimes that happens.

I then continue to talk about the importance of looking after animals and of looking after ‘Mother Earth’. “Mother Earth?” he stops and looks at me. “How do we look after Mother Earth?” he looks at me. I talk about recycling, using less plastic, using litter bins and looking after the wildlife in our garden. All things which I think he can grasp and are relevant to his little life. Not wanting to lose his attention on this quite significant topic, I then rack my brains and drawing on his love of all things motorised, talk about using electric or petrol and not diesel vehicles. He asks why people drive diesel cars and I tell him ,”Some adults just like diesel motors”. It seems a ridiculous point to make. That we just like them. At this point I feel I have lost him – his stick is far more interesting and he’s shooting lava balls at passing cars. I stop talking and start thinking about tea.

Later in the evening we sit and watch the follow up to the Volcano video another Clip about volcanoes followed by a cartoon about the merits of recycling. Middlest sashays into the living room and says ,”what you watching?”, and ruffles his hair. Smallest sighs, “It’s recycling. How to look after Mother Earth.” I smile. There is a small silence,”I don’t think Grown ups are good for the earth. Children are. And Mammuts”.

Nowhere Woman

When you are living in a moment

not yet reached, carrying

your weight in guilt,

not present here . Instead as you will be

When you meet yourself. In the future

All singing and dancing caberet

With a glass half full of milk

deliberating destination

Through a crack in time

in a mind besotted with finding its place.

As you stand surrounded upon it.

The countdown begins

Dad has three weeks before has his second vaccination. Then we can go into his house. I can’t tell you how excited I am just to get in there and sit down and have lunch and a cup of tea with him. He has been inside now since mid December. It’s an incredibly long time and it feels far longer. For him though it must feel like an eternity.

To pass the time he has re-established a relationship with Amazon , with whom there was a tumultuous few months where he had changed card details and then forgot his password. The reconciliation came a couple of months ago and since then he has used his time well and sat pondering what to buy and then making the purchase. Amongst other things this has included shaving foam, a coffee pot, a frying pan, herbs, pants, a sausage and a banana. Actually ,the latter was a purchase via Waitrose but I mention it because it highlights his difficulty with online shopping. “Why 1 banana Dad”, I said , as I stood at the front door. “Well I thought it meant one bunch- who wants one bloody banana?”, he said tutting. “And the sausage?” I said laughing. He sighed and looked at it in its small refrigerated package. “No bloody good”, he said.

I have always been close to my Father. When I was in my early teens I moved in with him and we muddled along together until i was 19 and left for University. In the intermediary years we drifted slightly though always remained in close contact, seeing each other two or three times a week. The pandemic though has reaffirmed what we had and cultivated something a little more enduring. It has certainly made me appreciate what he finds difficult and exposed my own struggle with accepting that. It has triggered the beginning of a narrative between us which has allowed us to reframe weakness as difficulty. The difficulties have been silently accepted and supported.- Dads with shopping, washing and cleaning , and my difficulties financially and with settling into my new circumstances.. Subsequently we have come to accept them; now they present no hardship as they are what life is a series of challenges to be overcome with support.

Most importantly though there have been the phone calls which, over the course of the year have got increasingly longer. These days we can easily spend an hour chatting in the evening. There is no topic which we have not explored together, politics, philosophy, psychology, literature, as-well as matters relating to family. The past has been dug over and we have cultivated a different understanding of those years from which the present is growing.. Our shared humour has carried us (and our dislike of the Johnson Government). It’s been fantastic.

3 Weeks Later

I write this having gone into his house for the first time for 5 months. I am pleasantly surprised at what I find; the only evidence of my not having been there is the kitchen floor which he struggles to get to now. Other than that things are looking good – even the kitchen sideboard has undergone transformation. We sit amongst books and papers and chat about Prince Philip and drink tea. It’s all very British one might say.

Before I leave I take a trip to the bathroom. I click the door latch and turn on the light noticing a slight difficulty opening the door fully. I step in and as I turn to close the door I notice an unholy amount of loo rolls behind the door.

When I return to the living room I comment on the rolls . “Ah yes I was going to ask you to take those downstairs Sploddy” he says.

“Right”, I say “erm ok all of them? How many shall I leave there just a couple?”

.”There are 60 there you know”, he says this triumphantly.

“I can well believe that I say – any particular reason why there is so many?” , I query.

“No”, he says -” I only clicked on one. Turns out it meant one box!”

What the heck is an Alice Pineapple??

Last night middlest and I sat on our sofa, ready to absorb another episode of IT Crowd. I passed her the obligatory packet of something chocolate and she passed back the drink that she had just removed from me. This removal is ritualistic for middlest and eldest. It begins with them seeing my drink sitting on the side. They ask me if its my drink. I say yes. They pick it up and drink some of it then put it down. I pretend to look indifferent.
This scene has graced the last ten years. No doubt there would be some intricate psychoanlaytic interpretation of this; however even with my tendency to explore, I have avoided this and just enjoyed it for what it is. Regardless of time or day for that moment we are all standing on the same point in time and we laugh.
“Its nice”, she said. She passes it back.
“Yup”, I replied, “it is isn’t it?”
“What’s in it?”, she says.
I read, “Er 36 strawberries, 2 and a half bananas”.
“Ooooh”, she says “very precise”-
“5 grapes and…. what’s this?” I say.
I squint at the teeny tiny writing on the side of the colourful bottle. “1…… Alice Pineapple……what the heck is an alice pineapple?!” I say.
“You what??!” says middlest and she looks at me. “Alice pineapple”, I repeat.
She takes back the bottle from me and holds it up, mirroring my facial squint, “alice pineapple….what even is that?” ,her voice travels up in question.
It does not occur to answer our question with a google search, instead we just sit our faces scrunched up in disbelief at the alice pineapple and its place in our (my) smoothie.
They put so much stuff in here. Middlest carries on staring at the bottle. She stops and sighs and says, “its like my list of homework – why they cant just reference the chapter we need to read and ask us to make outline of it? Why give us a list of points we need to make about the chapter- it just overcomplicates things .I just want to read something without panicking I am focusing upon the wrong thing”.
“Are you saying the smoothie is overcomplicated” I reply.
“No, just that we don’t need a bloomin’ list of ingredients like that… that we can’t even read”, she exhales.
I am not sure of the comparison, I think she might just be venting but I concur – at least with the homework issue. Teaching became more of a faff as the years went by, the focus drifting from encouraging learning to ensuring that they students ticked criteria points in the syllabus. It makes sense to want to make sure that you are covering everything but in reality it took away from just enjoying the experience of learning and the sense of well being this can instil. Too much focus on the detail caused anxiety. When you are teaching students, especially with complex needs, just achieving the former is an outcome but there is no box for that on the syllabus. Learning moved from being an experience to a process.

“….And how did they do it?..”, Middlest holds the bottle up, “Put a whole pineapple in here??”, she is exasperated now .”Maybe its a miniature.”
“Yeh, maybe; I cant believe I’ve not heard of it though” I muse.
“Alice pineapple”. I shake my head and after this delay we press play.

Eldest comes in and seeing the bottle sitting next to me walks over .I look up and he nods his head toward the bottle, “Is that your drink?”.
“Yes”, I say.
“Right”, and he picks it up and sits down on the armchair opposite.

We are watching the episode of IT Crowd where Moss sets the office on fire. We settle into the episode and as we do eldest starts to read the ingredients, “36 strawberries, two and half bananas, 5 grapes oh and a… what is that?…. oh, he squints and stares, ” 1 ….. Alice? no…. 1 slice of pineapple.

Middlest snorts and I open my mouth and make what she describes as a Minecraft potion noise.

Filling the Hole

I moved to Colcheter in 2004 from North Wales. Then we were 2, myself and eldest , I was carrying middlest at the time. It was a reluctant move which I framed as a stop gap in which I would consider my choices. Colchester is my birthplace and is not far from where I grew up however, did not appear to offer anything outwardly. In contrast, I had moved to Wales to undertake my degree, and my childhood town well, it contained my friends and my family. There was vacancy in this transition though, one I was unsure how to eliminate.

Life filled up quickly though. First middlest was born and then came their schooling, employment as a local youth worker and involvement in a very supportive Sure Start led community. I grew a social life and from this friendships sprouted.

In my mind though, Colchester’s status remained the same. A stop gap.

One day, a couple of years after my move, I sat chatting with a good friend in my living room. They glanced at my wall and nodded in the direction of a map I had of Wales and another of my childhood home. “No Colchester? ” they asked. “No it’s temporary “ , I mused without explanation or offering a potential future narrative.

Back then I would look forward to the time I wasn’t here. I would frequently take us away on breaks and day trips and on our way back it was always “better get back to Colchester then”. Never home.

Two years later, I relocated to where I live now. Still loosely referring to it as a filler, to everyone else, the move suggested something different – now married , with a permanent job , schools selected and friendships underscored, my life exuded stability. My choices said- this is home.

Privately though my view was the same, it was a stop gap. My mind would often drift to Cornwall or Cromer or Brighton, someplace with just good memories, a bit more surf and a little less concrete. I would make plans and look at letting and opportunity in that direction. One day these dreams drifted into conversation with another friend. I revealed to them my disappointment that I was still here after 15 years, that this was ever only meant to be a stop gap. Their shock at my confession was palpable – “You don’t seem this as your home? Why?!” I couldn’t actually answer at first.

I stopped and wondered openly about this need to separate myself from the town. Why did I resist saying it was my home? I recalled out loud how on occasion I had been repulsed by it even hated it. I said that it felt as if it belonged to everyone else , not me , describing places, specific roads and instances that fuelled the feeling. It slowly dawned upon me that I was drawing specifically upon certain experiences of people (perhaps even the reason for my move here) and this had coloured my perception of the place. My ability to synchronise with my environment , appeared to rest upon bad experiences and in particular how I had received them.

Often when we have difficulties we project our feelings elsewhere, onto other people, situations or jobs or sometimes places. We may take out our bad mood on someone else at work. We might take a negative experience at work, home. Similarly places can become imbued with the characteristics or feelings generated there. So a town that is neutral might come to represent a series of difficult life events.

Similarly we may behave in ways which we struggle to reconcile with our present self and find it difficult to remain where we are reminded of our failings.

I naturally pick things apart and in this conversation I realised the power of my defences. It’s easy to avoid yourself through dissociation than to face squarely, difficult feelings that we find hard to process.It can make things easier in the short term. But there is a flip side – in doing this we can deny things about ourselves and for ourselves, and for me it appeared that had included, feeling where my home is.

A few weeks ago, I realised a huge shift had occurred. A picture had been posted on our neighbourhood , what’s app group. It depicted a sketch of the road drawn by a local artist.

A sketch of our road by Nicola Burrell

Curled up on my sofa I sat up instantly and turned into the light to look more closely. I liked it. I copied it to my photo album and then printed it off. The next day I put it in a frame on my wall.

Somewhere along the line , perhaps in the middle of all this craziness, Colchester had become my home.

What changed? Perhaps it was the many walks around Abbey Field or the long runs around the outskirts of town. Maybe it was the faces that became familiar , throughout the hours spent doing both. Or maybe it was the sense of community which emerged from lockdown on our little road. The sharing of food and plants, the socially distanced chats with people who I have lived alongside for years, yet never spoken too. Or maybe it was the sharing of many pictures of resident foxes throughout. Whatever the reason, I have realised that I am at a different point in my life now and I exist in a space which is familiar yet is speaking to me in a different way. In relaxing my vision I have freed us up as a family.

The next day we head out of town and as we reach the end of another beach day , I get in the car. We chat and as I strap in smallest I ask, “where are we off to now buddy?”, and we look at each smile – in unison we both say “let’s go home”.

Silhouette

I think that I feel

I think that i

I think that

I think

I

Is this the me of young

Or old, me?

Redux

The woman standing at

the crest of the street

Where l live divagating

Or

Or is

Or is this

Or is this me

Or is this me now

Or is this me now and then

Letting

Letting the

Letting the words

Letting the words unfold

Letting the words unfold and

With relief , the comfort of knowing I have always been here.