I realise I’ve posted a good bit about remembering – remembering the good and remembering the bad. I saw my Mum this week and she told me that memories faze and fade, and that everyone with larger families, or older children, has melded memories and has forgotten much of the minutiae of early family life. She’s a good Mother, especially excellent at bedtime stories, with four grown up daughters who are (mostly) all right, so she should know.
My best friend is an advocate of regularly pausing to count out lucky stars. A corny sounding truism, which belies astute wisdom and a lifeline for future calamity. She reckons a few moments of contemplative contentment can offer something tangible to hold onto as when life throws you off course.
She’s another wise lady. Which is why I’ve put the picture above. It is blurry around the edges and the image is already dangerously familiar, not worth a pic as we see it all the time. I’ve even posted before about my boys at bedtime. Marvelled at them together, making each other laugh without any prompting from their parents.
What I like about it is that it is clearly unposed. The position may have been decided for the youngest, who hasn’t yet got control of his limbs, but the smile, the joke, the movement, the moment – that’s all theirs. I want to catch it and throw it up into my galaxy of good fortune rather than let it slide into that complacency of the commonplace and risk losing it forever. The valley of the unknowing complacent is one I have trod, and by Jove is it a dangerous place.
It’s where you walk along an excited newlywed wanting a baby, of sound mind and functioning pelvic floor. The path is so obvious and normal that it feels inevitable and true, despite ups and downs the path colludes with you in a sense that all is certain. But the pathway is a mirage. It isn’t a steady path but a tightrope we skip along happily ignorant of what is choice and what is circumstance. On either side the fields mask a drop where Alice-like you can tumble and find yourself somewhere else entirely. In my case, trudging up Highgate Hill in the sleet, tears whiplashing back into my tired eyes, an hour late for an appointment where I’d be asked if I wanted to kill myself (yes) or my baby (NO). Unwitting, happily ignorant complacency sits next door to the bleakest places, defined by a sense of loss and where the lost wander giddily, unable to grasp who or what they were before.
This blog is partly an attempt at creating an anchor in case I slip off the path of the everyday and a reminder to take stock of my good fortune gratefully. I feel I’m charging it with that grave responsibility: forming a record of who I am in case I get lost again.
But the blog is also offering something else. Something positive, and hopeful, and fearless: a starting point. A peak to stand on gazing over the horizon if I can look above my navel. Like the snap above, which shows the unfurling bud of my boys’ relationship in real time but also could be a snatched shot of the future. An inkling of the life they will lead even when me and Mr Thatwoman are no longer around to micromanage them. I should be so lucky.