A review of our progress

Sleep and sunshine provoke two responses from me: gratitude and reflection. Today I am the recipient of both rest and rays, so today’s post hopefully reflects this.

It’s been nine months since I prioritised reading daily to my daughter, subsequently blogging as a mechanism to keep me on track. Reading together was a thing I had comfortably believed I would have a handle on and that would be our thing. Yet, here we were. Truthfully, I hated it and how it made me feel. Reading with the Monkey was a war-zone. Failing at something so dear to me hurt badly on top of the feeling I was failing at everything. I was over-worked, sleep-deprived, crippled by exhaustion, anxiety and despair. We were all of us looking at the bottom.

This week, life could not look more different. Maybe it’s the sun, but surely not all. The Monkey has declared stories her favourite thing and last night refused to go to bed without taking a pile of them with her. Yes, she’s fixated on a book I can’t stand. Yes, she had to be taken from the room at playgroup because she didn’t approve of the book being read to the children. And yes, last night she was unmanageably excited by the story at bed-time. But I can’t and won’t complain about these problems because they make me deliriously happy.

I realise now what of course people don’t tell you – or if they do you cannot comprehend because of course you have done tough things before. Maybe it’s me, but the tough thing about breast-feeding or weaning or potty-training or trying to get your child to sleep or trying to get your child to go to bed or whatever milestone it is that you are trying to get through, the tough thing for me about those things is the personal responsibility one feels for these things. Or let’s be still more honest, the Culpability when it isn’t happening. If only I’d realised that reading is like all of the things that transition us from helpless to skilled. It is acquired by persistence and practice and application and at first may seem impossibly tough – just like learning a language or an instrument. Then one day, there you are.

It takes a village to raise a child and it’s certainly taken one to get us to where we are with sharing books. It started with a very small circle of my husband and mother keeping us afloat and picking up the baton when it was needed. Then, my wonderful colleagues – now friends – who inspired me to start and challenge me to keep at it. Once I vocalised what I was trying to do, then came a cavalcade of help. From friends and family, who gifted books I’d never have found which in turn provided motivation and from people I’d never met, who commented on what I was trying to do. Who empathised and who encouraged. Only yesterday I received the gorgeous and humbling surprise of a book in the post from someone I was at school with over twenty years ago. The impact of such kindness has kept us going when things were bleak.

Aside from meeting my husband and having my daughter, this has been the most fruitful thing I have ever done. It does get better



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