Thursday, 24 May 2012
last revolving year
To misquote Sophie Ellis-Bexter, ‘If this is love, why does it feel so bad?’ I have just walked Snooks to nursery school through the 27 degree heat chatting about this and that. He scooted absently in his shorts and white polo, freshly washed hair blowing as he went. It could not be a mellower scene. We spent the morning in our garden, playing football, swinging on the swing and drawing faces with chalk on the ground. The halcyon mood was broken for a short while as I browbeat him into the bath for a seaman’s shower (he stands there while I scoop water from the sink over him) as I finally bowed to social pressure not to send him out in public looking like a tinker. A new insistence on children wearing helmets following an accident involving a local girl had left his hair matted and sweaty and an unscheduled dip in the Common pond yesterday during a post-school fishing expedition which involved Snooks, myself and a net with a very short handl necessitated it.
So all is well. Very well in fact. And yet … I know what it is. I know because the song which tells it is going round and round (appropriately) in my head. The Circle Game. I feel like Joni Mitchell has taken up residence somewhere between my ears and is determined to keep on singing it until I listen and finally give in; “OK OK I get it, I know. He is growing up, he is growing away and for the first time in a few months he will spend more time each day with someone else than he does with me.”
You see, just saying it has unleashed one of those burst-out-crying moments you can only have when no one else is around. By the time Snooks is old enough to read this it will embarrass more than upset him. We came close just the other day as he was standing on the stairs getting ready for school and I was explaining how, at Big School, he will stay for lunch with his friends and what fun that will all be. I stood up to find him looking at me at eye level. “I will miss you,” he said, as earnestly as any leading man in a classic love and a parting scene. I answered that I would miss him too but it was all going to be jolly fine.
And I have been holding on to that ever since, just stopping short, each time Big School is mentioned, of running through the house shouting: “I don’t’ like it, I don’t like it, I don’t like it.” I want to make it stop, which is where Joni comes in. You see, I made the decision when Snooks was born, to hurl myself in, heart, line and sinker. To give him my all. To more or less let go of the sides and let the tide of motherhood wash over me, total immersion, and see where it took me. It meant having no anchor, no safe shore, no shelter from the powerful force of maternal love, which has wiped the floor with me well and truly. The past four years have been like a dream, in all senses of the expression. I have felt removed from reality, strangely powerless and yet suddenly imbued with new magical strength I didn’t know I had. And it has fulfilled many, many wishes I made a long time ago which I never believed would come true. Snooks and I have spent little time apart. Not one night has passed when I have not kissed him goodnight, nor one morning when he has not been the first person I touch. We have covered a lot of ground literally and figuratively, talking ceaselessly (since he started at about 10 months) about everything we see and experience. I have made it my purpose to give him what he needs, at almost all cost and consequently to lay myself open to that freefall moment when that no longer means me.
“And the seasons they go round and round…” and today’s lovely sunny weather, our last summer before the system takes him away, brought that day a little closer. The Engineer calls this having “big feelings’. He says that it is worth it, that opening up your heart without an anaesthetic and hanging onto the tiger’s tail through the ups and downs that that brings, is being truly alive. And what could be better than that? So there it is. I did it. And you can stop now Joni.