Filling the world with love

There has been too much sadness in the world this past week.

My heavy heart is aching for the beloved children left behind. For those that had a parent taken when it wasn’t their time. For those that ran into their mothers’ arms, safe, but having come face to face with evil while much too young.

My heart cannot bear the weight of imagining the thoughts of those parents who have had their lives destroyed. To have a child taken so senselessly. My mind cannot understand the grief, or comprehend the hell that will be life now.

What world is this? Were we right to have a child, when this is the earth he shall live on?

How will I keep him safe? How will I bear that he will know sadness and evil? How will I stop myself from sheltering him from wrong, because surely he must one day learn that this world is more than all that is good.

This is the world he will grow in. With its death, grief, pain and anger, this is the world he will come to know. Yet he will also come to know its love, its joy, its sunshine and its goodness. For this is the side of the world I must strive each day to show him.

What can I do for him, my precious innocent boy? I can love him completely, with love that he will know and feel forever. I can show him the best of this world, so he can live his life to the fullest. I can teach him about all that is good, so he can carry goodness in his heart wherever he goes. I can share with him happiness, so his life is joyful and he wishes the same for others.

But one day too, I can be honest. When he asks about the world’s pain, its lies and its senseless evils, I can answer his questions. I probably still won’t know the answers, but I’ll answer as truthfully and as completely as I can. I won’t ever be able to tell him why. But I will still be doing everything I can to fill his world with love.

The Kiwi grinch that stole Christmas

The excitement, the anticipation, the festivities and feasting – I’ve always loved Christmas. The Little Mister is going to love it too, because we will make a fuss, and I won’t be able to stop myself. But that might be in the years to come, years, that is, in the Northern hemisphere.

Because this year, on baby’s first Christmas, I’m struggling and I’m going to have to keep my excitement in check. Christmas will consist of just our little family being together on the day. The Little Mister, his mama, and his dada. For me, Christmas at home was always a big family get together, so it’s hard to think that this little boy won’t have that. But then, to make the blow easier, it’s also true that he won’t remember a second of it anyway.

And do we spoil him? Well of course I will. But, with a removal company coming two weeks later to ship our boxes to London – do we really need to buy more toys just to send them half way across the world? (Where he will of course be ridiculously spoilt on arrival.) The Little Mister’s favourite toys right now are cardboard boxes. Is it mean to wrap a couple up for him? I know he won’t remember, but there will be photos. Fast forward ten years time to Milin looking at photos of his first Christmas. He’s alone with his parents, there’s no tree, but he’s opening big presents, beautifully wrapped, and perfectly box-shaped. “Mama,” he will say, “what was in those presents you gave me for my first Christmas?” What will I do? Lie? Or tell the truth – “We didn’t get you presents darling because we were leaving town soon, so those were just empty boxes. But you really did have fun with them, promise.”

The not-getting-a-tree-thing is something I’m still undecided about. Part of it is because my Little Mister is so adventurous these days that it would need to be somewhere up high and well out of reach. The lights would NEVER be on while he was awake, courtesy of these southern hemisphere long daylight hours at this time of year, and there might not be many presents under it. So do we get one? Just for the three of us?

I have brief pangs of worry that Godzone has turned me into a Christmas grinch, with its lack of all things festive. There are no roasting chestnuts, few lights, fewer window displays, and no Christmas markets. Instead, there are barbecues, camping trips (not for us), and a distinct lack of Christmas-themed festivities.

My reasons for loving Christmas are of course not religious, but they have a lot to do with history. As a little person, it was always a time when the whole family got together. Everyone was on holiday. It was an excuse to spoil each other, to be extra good to each other, a time to be grateful for each other and forget about our worries. So what if I’ve bought into the commercialism of it? I have no apologies for using a few public holidays each year to be happy and try and make others feel the same.

But this first Christmas for Milin will be different. It will be a little quieter, a little less extravagant, and perhaps a little less festive. We will still sing to him, spoil him, make sure no work is done, laugh with him all day, and of course dress him up in his Christmas best. But it will be a very southern hemisphere Christmas.

(I got my first chance to dress him up yesterday, by the way. He missed the Santa parade as it unhelpfully clashed with nap time, but we made it, briefly, to the Christmas party at Waitangi Park. The music was a bit too loud for him, and the tree wasn’t lit up, but he liked crawling on the grass.)

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Getting ready for the Christmas party with Aunty Julia

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Christmas parties in the sunshine, not particularly Christmassy.

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Our first family Christmas is a-coming

Happy Eleven Months

HANGING out the washing, I could hear your laughter through the open windows. It was more than a giggle, it was a whole-body, from the depths of your belly, almost uncontrollable, wide-open-mouth and scrunched-up-eyes laugh. You were playing with your Dada.

At eleven months now, life is all about fun. Today’s favourite game was throwing socks at Dada. I came in from the garden and found you both engrossed in the almost hysteria-inducing activity. It was a high-energy ending to a day which had already been filled with delighted squeals.

Little Mister, this is the last month of your first year, and you are loving it. You love playing toys, you love crawling, you love climbing, you love being tickled, you love cuddles, you love when I pick you up high after you tug at my trousers. You love playing peek-a-boo, covering your face with fabric and then suddenly pulling it away. “Where’s Milin? …. Boo!” I must play it a hundred times a day. You love spinning the wheels on your cars, and you love pushing them along the floor, crawling behind them. You love standing against the sofa and reaching for things which aren’t toys – like the tv remote. You are trying to walk by pushing your little car/walker around the lounge, but maybe it’s not weighty enough.

You love the garden and being outside. Weeding is one of your favourite games, as is watching the birds. “Birrr!” Is still your most-used word, used frequently when we chase sparrows in the buggy, your finger pointing to every bird we see. You are getting braver amongst other children, my little hero who has so much courage.

You climb face first off the fireplace and over the middle beam of our dining chairs, before turning around and doing it again. You love new people, you charm them of course with your words and – if they are lucky and funny enough – your smile. You love books and being read to. Every night after bath Dada reads you a few, you know them well. Through the day, we read others together, or you sit down yourself and talk to them. Your favourite these last few weeks is Mr Croc. “Mr Croc, how do you feel?” Tony reads it every night.

Little Mister, every day with you is a joy. Your smile, your laugh, your words, your pointing finger, your arms around my neck – you have made me and Tony the luckiest, happiest people in the world. Happy eleven months, Milin Charlie, you are so grown up! X

standing elfmrcrocfireplace jump

With each new second

THE COUNTDOWN is on. In two months today, we will leave Wellington. First stop, a week catching up with family in Thailand. Final stop, London.

It’s so hard to imagine what the Little Mister will be like when we get on that plane. Two months ago, he had just mastered crawling. Now, he shoots around the house so fast on his hands and knees that he wins every race. Two months ago, he was still bringing up even the tiniest lumps in food. Now, he will eat a bit of a Cruskit – and he seems to enjoy it. Two months ago, the thought of him standing up was so abstract I couldn’t picture it, let alone wonder when it would be. Now, he pulls himself up against walls, doors, the oven, the sofas, and, still holding on tight, takes a few testing steps sideways before deftly sitting back down.

Time changed when the Little Mister arrived. It started passing so incredibly quickly, and it keeps speeding up. At the end of each month, it’s amazing to look back at the progress he has made in just four, short weeks. But looking forward is harder. Will he be walking when we go? Saying some more words which sound more like real words? But, I don’t want to wish away the time between now and then, so will put those questions aside.

What the Little Mister has done has given me a new appreciation for time. It’s fine to look forward now, it’s exciting. But it’s also exciting to make the most of every second we spend together. He grows so much each day, so yes, the days pass quickly, but they are filled with discoveries too. Today, he laughed at the baboons at Wellington Zoo. They were playing at the front of their enclosure. He’s never noticed them before. Tonight, he put his big toe in his mouth. He’s never managed to reach it that far before. In the last few days, he has started tapping on the first page of his Mr Croc book. It’s because the book starts with a knock on the door and Tony always taps the book when he reads it. The Little Mister knows not to tap on any other page.

Yes, I wish time wouldn’t pass so fast. But while it speeds by, it is also filled with a richness that wasn’t there before. And as long as I’m watching for every new discovery, and treasuring the laughs or babbles or expressions that new seconds bring, it’s still a time I wouldn’t change for the world.

Election Night Hopes

SITTING on my lap, rubbing his eyes and clasping his beloved bunny, the Little Mister stayed up late to watch tv. He watched as thousands of people waved little flags in jubilation. He watched them singing, chanting, smiling, crying, and clapping. When the just-elected president walked on that big stage, he watched.

The thousands of people clapped their hands in celebration. The Little Mister, somehow aware this was the moment we had waited for, clapped his hands too. (Well, it was his version of clapping.)

It was his first election. He knew something was up because me and Tony had the tv on during the day. He sees the news occasionally, but this was different. It wasn’t just on for the headlines. And we were quiet, waiting, watching, transfixed by the screen in the corner. He crawled to sit beneath it. He looked up, eyes wide, and waved his hands towards it but couldn’t reach the newsreaders and experts and statisticians.

Hours after we had sighed with relief, he wasn’t quite ready for bed so he sat up and waited. A little superstar, up an hour past bedtime, he listened to the entire breath-taking speech. He knew we were listening, and he wanted in on it too. What did he hear? Perhaps he heard a brave man whose voice was filled with hope. A man whose voice was in those moments inspiring millions of people in every country in the world.

What did you hear Little Mister? Did you hear the desire for something better? For a world less divided and more stable? Did you also hear your Mama and Dada hoping for some of those very same things?

It wasn’t our election, but it didn’t stop us wanting so very much the better world we heard about. We want it for you, Little Mister. Because you, with your wide open eyes and whole-face smile, and grasping hands and precious cuddles and delighted squeals deserve the very best world we can make for you. We hope it is one which sees less of the destructive wrath of mother nature – one which is stable and calm. We hope it is one where you can have whatever you wish and work for – one which is open with opportunity. We hope it is everything your innocent heart hopes it will be. We hope it is filled with love and peace and joy. We hope it is safe.

 

Into Double Figure Months

You are ten months. Ten. It was probably when you were around ten days that it first hit me how fast this roller coaster journey was already going. Well it keeps speeding up.

There were, of course, hours and even days when it felt like time was crawling by. In those first three months, when we pounded the pavements, paced the hallway, rocked, and shushed, and sang and cried with you in the evening and night time hours, sometimes it felt like time was going very slowly indeed.

But suddenly here you are. Into double figure months. You even look grown up. Your face is getting older, your eyes more knowing. They’re not only inquisitive, but they’re searching, questioning too. Sometimes they want answers. What is this new place? Is it ok? Who are these people? You’re staying with me, right? Sometimes they are cheeky. Like when you open the cupboard in the corner and turn around and look at me for a reaction before trying to pull all the records out. It’s a fleeting ‘look at me, look what I’m doing, hehehehe’ look. I love it.

You know what ‘no’ means. It means I’ll pick you up and take you away from the plant you’ve pulled the leaves off. It means you’ll try and pull them off again but next time you’ll give me that cheeky look first.

You’ve been crawling for a month, and you’re a speedy little four-limbed creature. You skid around the wooden floors, preferring them to the big rug which just slows you down. As soon as a door is opened you have to crawl through the entrance way into the next room. Just to see what’s out there. What have we been hiding from you? Half way between rooms you turn around and look – just to check we’re watching you go.

You love crawling on the tiles in the bathroom, and then watching the toilet flush, and seeing yourself in the mirror. Except you get all shy and bury your head in my shoulder from that smiling baby looking back at you.

A couple of times, we’ve turned around and looked back to find you suddenly standing up. You can pull yourself up on the shelves of the change table, and you’re trying to stand up against whatever you can find that looks like the right height. If I hold your hands and let you pull yourself up onto your feet you look so pleased with yourself. Look at me, your eyes say. And then slowly, gingerly, you work your way back down.

Because you are cautious, about where you go, what you touch, what you do, where we are. You need cuddles, often, and kisses and raspberries, and giggles and tickles. Your toys are just fine too, but exploring all the grown up stuff is way more fun.

Happy ten months Little Mister. You’re amazing. X