There’s a baby girl sleeping in a cot in the corner of our bedroom where the chest of drawers used to be. Just like that, so readily, we’ve moved around the detritus of our lives to create space for her.
Once upon a time I would have said we didn’t have the room but there she lies, proving me a liar. Taking what she needs and giving so much more.
She’s wrapped in a fuchsia, fleecy blanket – the one and only item that I purchased for her in a mountain of gifts lavished on her – and almost every time I tuck it round her limbs I am reminded that in the blinking of an eye the time will come to pack it into storage. I imagine one day folding it into a box of things to be moved with her to wherever she is headed, and I feel both dizzy and anchored by the knowledge that the time will fly.
None of us knew we needed her until she came. She knew though. You can see it in her eyes.
The air is thick with the lazy indulgence that only Sunday morning can afford. We decide against church today, without saying why, circling around what kind of season this might be and why driving for an hour in the quest to feed your soul can sometimes feels like folly. Today, a dusty corner of the internet offers up unlikely scriptural truths, and uncommon silence is my choice of worship.
My bedroom is a sort of sanctuary, and not having anywhere to be for hours is a kind of balm to a busy heart.
I found a blog depicting a blonde, eight-year-old tousled-headed boy whose birth story I vividly remember reading, and I dive eagerly back into his mother’s life, grateful to be reminded of a time before.
We wrote about our lives on the internet before that was normal, and then stopped when everybody else around us started.
Back then we hit publish with a foolish bravery, foisting our thoughts upon the world without hesitation. Now almost every single soul does that on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. Now I dither over the ‘share’ button feeling strange for inviting scrutiny.
It occurs to me that we have this in common, my fellow bloggers from before Facebook and Twitter curtailed all our words – our blogs first unearthed for us our furtive urge to write. Back then we wrote for virtual friends in the margins of our motherhood, stealing time between naps that were never long enough.
Now we mother long-limbed, effervescent back-chatty boys and girls, and the words we write turn into crisp, real-life bank notes with which we pay the rent. It’s a magic alchemy, and it seems uncanny that the internet paved the way for us to sustain careers doing the thing we used to do for love or fun, or to keep us sane, or just because once we started with the words and stranger-friends we couldn’t stop.
But here’s the thing, to steal a phrase. While turning words into pay cheques is what we once considered to be living the dream, it turns out the dream’s still there, only now we’re too busy living it to attend to it. We’ve still got books unwritten, and the irony of that smarts as the words mount up around us.
I can hear articulated machinery and I’m not sure if it’s in my head or real. It started when I was pregnant and I put it down to superhuman senses; an odd mama-gift that must have served a purpose in the days when having a child required you to ensure that lions didn’t eat it.
But the baby’s here now leaving me with much less need for overly-acute hearing skills, and yet I still hear the relentless thrum-thrum-thrum of a building yard and it sends me quietly demented. I won’t notice when it stops until all of a sudden I’ll realise that I haven’t heard it for a while and I’ll momentarily miss its steady comfort. And then I won’t believe it was ever there at all.