Instructions

Our final day of holiday (and unemployment) swings around. Today, I leave our Monkey with my mum for a week and tomorrow dawns a new chapter for me with a new role.

Monkeyface is lying in bed next to me, having greedily clambered in at my own selfish instigation when she woke us by chanting gibberish a few hours ago. Knowing we will be apart for a week, I decided I wanted us all to wake up together in the same bed in a few hours’ time. So here we are. I’m bed-blogging at a ridiculous hour with the body of a hot fidget shallow breathing into my right ear. She’s managed to repeatedly out-manoeuvre me and I’m clinging to the last half-foot of bed, staring into the abyss of nylon bedroom-carpet. It’s no coincidence that my daughter just laughed in her sleep as I wrote this.

We have had a great week. We have spent time with nearly all of the people we love dearly and doing things we really enjoy, including our reading. I’ve bought more books I’ve wanted for Emilia for a while and actually spent time with her reading them. The development of her language and sentences this week are a daily surprise. I’m convinced this is a direct consequence of the time she has spent with us and the reading we have done every day.

Monkey has pulled some classics out of the bag in the last twenty four hours alone:

Me: really well done Monkeyface. You’ve eaten all of your supper. Perhaps now you can have some..
Monkeyface interrupts: CAKE!!!!
Me: oh. So you would like cake would you? What would you really like if you could have anything for a special treat, what would that be?
Monkey: Ice-cream!!!
Me: ok. Well nanny’s getting something for you. Let’s see what that might be…
Monkey: I think I kno-ooooow

This exchange was the funniest, most unexpected treat and was the end of a quite magical few days together.

There have been some tantrums this week but I realise that tantrums are largely avoidable and are usually driven by my failing to have adequately met her needs – she’s invariably tired or hungry or bored. We have asked an enormous amount of her his week and I am so proud of her behaviour and adaptability. I hope she enjoyed our time and time with people who love her equally. I think she really has.

Yesterday we paid a visit to some extraordinary people, dear dear people who have created an exceptional family and enfused them with love, kindness and calm. Their mother is a mother to everybody, and it was an emotionally-charged visit, as she is presently gravely ill. During our short but lovely time with her, she spoke of how difficult the past few weeks have been. But importantly, how she and her family were doing something lovely, something to look forward to, every day, to help them cope. It struck me, what a wonderful, powerful thing to do and again made me think of the smart Franz Ferdinand line: “you’ll have a happy life, if you do the things you like.”

The events of the last two years and my learnings over the last ten months have meant that I was starting to do a little of that. My little meandering blog, joining my book group (and sometimes going along) and reading with the monkey face are a tiny part, but I realise having heard this yesterday what an honest, simple recipe for a happy life that is. I’ve decided not to wait to adopt this until my own mortality instructs me to do so.

It’s also almost a year since another enormous influence in my life left us and he was a profound bon-viveur. I have no doubt he would have greatly approved of the instruction to make it your life’s work to fill it with and in pursuit of the things you love.

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