I rarely blog about triumphant days, mainly because I find it hard to write happy stuff. How do you say ‘today was spectacular - my kids were enchanting and my parenting was top-notch’ without sounding self-congratulatory? And really, who wants to read about how perfectly other people parent?
That’s not what compels us to surf the internet in the evening when our kids are finally asleep and we could be doing anything we want. Truth is what draws us – other people’s truth, the kind that reflects back elements of our own, making us feel less isolated and more capable. And thus somehow more valid. In that way, the truth really does set you free.
It’s much easier to write the difficult stuff – the mess and heart-ache and stretch of parenting and family life. Writing lends itself readily to melancholy, I think, and a kind of alchemy takes place when you wrap words around your day, reaching for the perfect way to capture a moment or feeling that you would otherwise have forgotten by tomorrow.
I argue with myself that blogging is intrusive and thrusts my little lads and what should be the secrets of their childhood into the public sphere. But still I show up here, laying down the difficult days on a bed of words that have the power to soften the sharpest edges of that day. (And the real secrets are always just ours to share.)
But it hasn’t escaped my attention that my bias could paint a distorted picture of family life. I might sound ungrateful, moany even. But that’s ok. Because sometimes blogging can even be an incantation. You despatch something into the ether – something that lays bare the vulnerable moments that we all instinctively shrink back from – and in so doing you find more capacity for them. And less proclivity to shrink.
Today was triumphant! I had braced myself for absconding and spoon-wielding children this morning but when my youngest fell into the fish tank – oh yes! – I laughed instead of shrieking.
I burned the sausage rolls that were meant for packed lunches and managed not to lose my cool. (But how’s this for irony – I promptly popped more in the oven and took them out as soon as they had turned a perfect golden brown, but one son brought his home in his lunch box at the end of the day, deeming it ‘too burnt’. I even managed not to mutter ‘Well you should have seen the first batch’.
We ate tea together and NOBODY cried, shouted, threw anything or had to be sent to their room. This may be a family first.
And after tea we played Good Things, Bad Things, Funny Things and then told Knock-knock jokes until we laughed so much it was all veering dangerously close to going a bit nuts.
The sight of my kid crying with laughter might be my favourite memory ever. I’ll relive that one in my final moments on this earth. Sweeter still is the visible delight he takes in his own ability to make us laugh, and as his eyes shoot from me to Dada and back again to check we’re still clocking the wonders of his wit, I want to find a way to bottle the glorious essence of this exact moment of their boyhood.
I read another chapter of Wind in the Willows at bedtime, and it soothed the very fibres of my soul while my kids lay in their beds listening quietly. No interruptions. No shenanigans. Just a calm and peaceful end to the day.
I got an email – about my son – that affirmed brave things I had tentatively begun to whisper in my heart. It made me cry great hulking shoulder-shaking tears of joy, and when I pulled myself together I was sure I heard the sound of the wind returning to my sails.
Above all, today was restorative in too many ways to count.
There’s nothing remotely smug or self-congratulatory in that. It’s just plain old-school thankfulness.