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26/52 – Imagine

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: “Look! I’m Lightning McQueen!” I could see it as soon as you said it. The red face, the windows making up the eyes. You have boundless imagination and vision. Watching you lose yourself in those worlds for ages thrills me. I don’t know where your life will take you or what you’ll want to do with it but I sincerely hope you hold on to your creativity and to that fire. 

***

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Isis: So much determination for such a little girl. Already strong-willed and wanting to do more than your body allows. Some days I wish you would slow down and just snuggle in. I know I will miss this time so much once it is passed. I’ve loved you forever but it still seems like you just arrived yesterday. 

Just let me slow down and take you in. 

25/52- Darlings and babies 

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: “Are you ok, my darling? What did you say, my darling?” Oh how sweet you can be, your words echoing ours. So gentle with such a big heart. Until you’re not. “You’re a baby!” is your first and so far only insult with an occasional added “you’re not my best friend!” Then as the day grows long and you grow tired you turn to me in bed and say quietly “You like me.” And I say “Yes, I most certainly do. You’re my favourite boy in the whole world and I love you no matter what.” You fall asleep and when you wake up in the morning you roll over to me and say confidently “You like me! You’re my best friend. And daddy’s my best friend and Isis is my best friend.” There’s not a thing in the world that will ever change that, my love. Not a thing. 

***

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Isis: That little hand waving in the sun. Your happy feet kicking around making the chair bounce as you wait for someone to smile at. How you make my heart burst with joy. 

The long goodbyes

I hate long goodbyes. When I say long I don’t mean goodbyes that drag out but saying goodbye to loved ones you won’t see for a long time and that live far away. Those goodbyes. I’m no good at them. I just can’t get them right. They leave me full of wants, needs and regrets. And usually in tears. Some are definitely worse than others.

So this morning I had to say goodbye to my mum. Again. The mum goodbyes are the worst. She lives in Norway and I live in Australia. It’s not as easy as a Sunday drive to say hello. I always need that last hug or that last kiss we never share. Then there’s that last wave that usually doesn’t happen because goodbyes are killers and none of us want to let the other one have to see the pain so one of us turns away at that critical moment as the car drives out of sight.

It’s marginally easier being the one who leaves. For me at least. If I’m the one leaving I’ll quickly become (or make myself) busy with what needs to happen next. Airports, check ins, kids, all that stuff. But if I’m the one staying… whoa. And this morning was such a time. My husband and son took my mum and my niece to the airport. The baby and I had to stay because there was simply no room in the car. As soon as the car drove off I just kind of tipped.

Our house feels strangely foreign and empty when someone I love leaves it. I walk around aimlessly looking at the places they occupied searching for pieces of them left behind. As if it will miraculously make them reappear. With my mum her smell usually lingers for a while but never long enough. It’s this lotion she uses. It just smells like her, safe and cozy. I make strong connections between people and their smells. Today I have a baby that smells like my mum from those last hugs. She probably won’t get a bath today so I can hold on to that smell for just a little longer.

Goodbyes are awful.  Suddenly I’m a child with children of her own desperate for my mother’s embrace. I feel lost and for a couple of days I find myself having to revisit all the choices that created the physical distance between us. But the answer is always the same. I can’t go back. I can’t sacrifice myself to be closer to my loved ones. I have to remember who I was before I left and who I am now, and the battles fought to get to this point. Going back is something I may not survive. It sounds melodramatic, I know, but severe depression is no joke. I came closer than most people know to not surviving the time I lived there and I just can’t put myself in that darkness again. My brain just can’t handle the extremes and I just can’t give up finally being on the way to doing what I want with my life. My children deserve a healthy, happy mum even if it means we have to make big sacrifices. And my mum knows that. I know that. But it’s still heartbreaking. And it still hurts like hell  every now and then.

After ten years it would only be natural to assume goodbyes would get easier. They don’t. If anything they’re harder. And I know they will only keep getting harder and in some years they will reach a peak of almost unbearable as my mother at some point will become an old lady unable to travel across the world as much as she does now. (It’s still a long time away, mamma!) Our distance means there are many realities I just can’t think about.  The what if’s and the when’s have to be kept far away. It means we have to carry a lot of hurt and longing in our hearts but the distance also shows how strong our love is.

Today was a little harder than it has been. Partly because it’s the first time she’s left me as a new mother of two, partly because this time there was no time for just us and because I’ve been ignoring the fact that the past two years have been an uphill battle and I’m completely depleted. I failed to really acknowledge the ledge I am hanging on to until my safest haven left. Because that’s what most mums are, the safest place there is, a haven between two arms to seek shelter from raging storms. So today the sound of every airplane above has left me in tears. Today has been a battle of its own.  Today was full of regrets. Things I wish I’d said, things I wish I’d done (more of).

I love you until eternity, mamma. And I miss you every day.

I’m sorry it has to be this way.

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Thank you for coming to see us. Thank you for helping out and for everything you do for us.

Thank you for letting me go, for never holding me back and for always being there when I need you the most.

(Sorry for posting your photo without permission. You’re beautiful.)

All my love, always. xx

 

24/52- Night and day

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: Your imagination knows no boundaries. (I make no excuse for the messy bathroom!) 

***

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Isis: Sweetest perfection. 

23/52 – Little lights

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: There’s something in your eyes. An ache of sorts or perhaps it’s a distance, a thousand thoughts caught in a glimpse. 3 is hard.  Everything is changing. Your world is expanding so rapidly I can only imagine how confusing it feels. You lash out, your screams are cries for help but it’s so hard to get past the stream of punches and toys flying in my direction to get to you. You’re a storm, a wildfire. My little wildling. And then just as sudden you turn around and become the most gentle soul baring your big, tender thoughts as we end our day embracing in the dark. I love this photo for capturing all of it. The beauty of you both, the long distance gaze, your favourite toys (that day) and the protective pose. As much as we struggle to find our balance my love for you only grows. I only wish you knew how the two of you are the absolute light of my life. 

***

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Isis: You remind me so much of your brother when he was a baby.  So happy, so easy-going and so breathtakingly beautiful. You share the same fascination and love of my long hair as he did. As soon as I let it down your face lights up in a smile and when I let it brush across your hands you let out the most delightful laugh. 

22/52 – Skills, discoveries and independence

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: There are so many skills that seem so easy when you already master them. But they take coordination and focus to learn. And you’re all about mastering new things these days, claiming bits of independence. What used to be “I can’t do it” is now more than often “I can do it myself”. 

 At least now when you start freaking out over a snotty nose we can talk you through how to make it better. (And boy, do you hate being snotty.) 

***

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Isis: Your body is one big discovery these days. The look of pure surprise on your face whenever you see your hands always makes me laugh.  Surprise quickly turns to fascination and focus. You’re trying to gain control over these alien limbs that so often fling about causing you to startle, making basic connections between touch and texture, cause and effect.  Watching you learn never gets old. Seeing your joy when you master something never seizes to thrill me. Where did that squishy newborn go that was just here? 

21/52 – Best friends

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: “You’re my best friend, daddy!” Sometimes I get to be your best friend again too but for the most part it’s Team Daddy. And you know what? That’s ok. I love watching the two of you cook up a mess storm in the kitchen or listening to you chatter and read stories at bedtime. Team Daddy is pretty great. And besides, I’ll always be your best friend even when you don’t want me to be. 

***

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Isis: My goodness how much you love him. You laugh and smile every time he talks to you. You are his biggest fan. But his big hugs? They still make you feel uneasy. 

20/52 – Light and shadow

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: They seem so distant now those last days of autumn heat. You were playing outside late one afternoon while we waited for pappa to come home. Isis was sleeping on my chest and I think we both enjoyed the pause it gave us to just be you and me. 

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Isis: The faces of babies… So funny, so precious. Yes, my love, the world can be both scary and shocking. 

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So far behind. So hard to keep up these days. Life has thrown us a curveball and this one hit us right in the face. Once we get back on our feet I’ll share the story. Until then send us kind thoughts and kiss your little ones a few times extra before they go to sleep.

19/52- Golden light

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.

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Anakin: I remember this afternoon so well. The gardener had been here to mow the lawn and you were so excited by it. We’d been out and once we got back you ran inside to get your lawn mower and spent ages pretending to mow the lawn just like you’d seen him do. You came across a big stick and called it your “english mower”. “This is my english mower, mum. You can have it!” The sun was slowly going down and you were bathed in the most amazing autumn light.  

***

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Isis: So curious and full of wonder. You want to be part of it all. I keep trying to tell you nothing much happens while you sleep but you clearly don’t believe me. 

18/52 – Near and far

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year. 

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Anakin: Look at you growing up so fast. Always so busy, so full of energy and big, bold emotions crashing over you like waves. Suddenly you know all these things that take me by surprise. 3,5 is tricky, isn’t it? So big yet so small. Most days I feel like you’re a few steps away from me and its hard for me too, but we always come back together before you go to sleep. You’ll probably never know how much I love it when you come crawling under the covers at night and put your little hand around my waist. 

***

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Isis: He loves you, he loves you not. He loves you… My sweet girl, how we’re all completely entranced by you. Your big smiles, your bright eyes. Your sweet, loud voice. You are so in awe of him. The force of his hugs can be overwhelming taking you by surprise. He’s got his own nickname for you that none of us know what means or where it comes from, “Kuntie”. He does the Kuntie dance, the Kuntie song. Perhaps we’ll never get it but you’re his Kuntie. 

***

I’ve somehow managed to fall behind again with my posting. Two kids, deadlines, a messy house and illness all around will do that, I suppose. We’ll get there eventually.

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