“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

The other day Rosalyn asked me about her, the her before.

“I have a project Mum. What did I used to like? How was I?”

I stared at her rather confused for a moment, because, well…she’s nine. There’s a before to that?

Of course there is. I read through an old blog talking about her at 3 (oh those eons ago!) and realize it’s ancient history to her, and in some ways, to be.

Yet I can still feel the cream smooth skin of her cheek on my fingers. I can still hear her screeching for a drink or a snack or her own damn way. I can feel her dead sleepy weight as a toddler in my arms, the tightness of her tiny pointed fingers in my hand, the muddle that her hair has been since the day she was born.

I see it all like a reflection in herself, superimposed and delirious.

She hasn’t changed, not at all. The babe, the toddler, the small child, they’re all the same. She has always been steadfast and true, prone to unmanageable moods. She’s always felt too much, yet been deliberate in her actions. She loves what she loves, and she’s not afraid of it.

She hates pants with buttons.

I’m amazed to look back, to read about this sweet honey bear of a girl and realize she is what I saw. There has been no becoming-the very inches that make Rosalyn her were there the first moment I saw her. She has always been strong. She has always seen the world clearly for what it is. She has always been cautious but firm. Her anger is legion when triggered.

So we talked about colors. And food. And toys. I didn’t mention that the mandarin oranges she loved would emerge nearly fully formed when she filled a diaper, and certainly forgot to point out the desperate desire she had for a bright orange room with big pink polka dots once. But I softly sang a song under my breath that I once sang to her each night when exhausted would cuddle her for brief moment before bed, knowing I would miss the time years later, yet too tired then to care.

____

So, how have you changed child?

You head no longer fits that curve under my chin. Your bottom doesn’t settle into the crook of my elbow so gently. Your breath doesn’t tickle my ear as your drift off to sleep. Tonight I tucked you in, and you kept reading after a hug and a kiss and a love you.

You don’t need be quite so much, that’s what changed. We’re growing up, and out and away, and we keep changing.

We called you Shiva as a baby, destroyer. But it’s not destruction you were fated, it was change. You bring change to everything you touch-how I see the world, how I move within it. You changed everything, you change everything, just by being.

37

So today I turned 37.

I don’t pay much attention to birthdays and such….years of disregard and overblown expectations have left me at a place where I just can’t be bothered to pay much attention. I managed to convince my boss to convince four different people at work that no, I don’t want a cake, and no, I don’t want a big deal and no, no, no.

I don’t even like having my birthday written on a board but I deal with it.

The day itself, the theoretical turning of a year, another notch on the headboard of my years, I disregard. I am as old as I am, and will be however old I become. You can’t age out my brain after all.

But in thinking, staring at the foggy sunrise as we drove through the tweedy farmland, I realized how 7 years ago I was calling myself a youngin against the 40 some years of some other women I know, laughing, marveling, imagining what 40 must feel like. Believing it old, a marker against some mystery I’d never grasp. But now I’m nearing that point and I still know them and I still see the gasping wonder and disbelief I too feel.

We never really grow up. The elders in our lives are perpetually playing at being responsible and knowing what’s right. They don’t know either. They still feel like kids inside, deep inside. They still believe in hobbits and fairies. Their hair doesn’t fall out.

They don’t know either.

It comforted me, It scared me.

I shrugged, stared as always at the beautiful horses misty in the early day.

I’d feel old if I believed it possible.

Circles

It’s really been a week, with the kids returning and my contract up soon with hints of “you’ll like the offer” but no offer, and cold weather (seriously, 8C? In AUGUST?) and just the sheer level of bullshit from my ex husband. It’s been a tiring, exhausting heartbreaking week. Yet all my brain can focus on is boobs.

As in, my kid has them.

It’s not like it’s a huge surprise, not intellectually. I remember about 6 months before she died, my mother taking me to get camisoles because they were IMPORTANT and I needed them as I was becoming A WOMAN and squee! the one I really liked had a little fox on the top with sparkly glass eyes and all I cared about was that damn fox, not the fact that I suddenly had another layer between my shirt and my apparently untrustworthy body. But I don’t really remember getting boobs. One day there were bumps, and in my memory shortly after, there were C cups.

It was shortly before the camisoles that I was soundly chastised for riding my bike without my shirt on. It hadn’t occurred to me that it mattered and my mother did not share my opinions on gender fluidity. Why did it matter? I had a flat chest like them, I rode bikes like them, I played Go-Bots with them.

My mother never really explained why it mattered, just yelled at me to put my damn shirt on and show some decency.

So if I say boobs fill me with a sort of anxiety, and in some ways confuse me, I wouldn’t be lying.

It’s not just the boobs. It’s the filling out of the body, the slow morph into womanhood that’s started. I watched V walk away from me the other day and realized that soon, very very soon, I’d have to start having more detailed conversations about how to handle unwanted attention and what a womanly body can unfortunately denote. I did everything I could to present as male for a very long time, and was mostly successful when I wanted to be. The idea of myself as a girl/woman? Unheard of. Unknowable. I couldn’t, in my mind, equate the two things. And unless I’m mistaken, V feels the same way. She carries her body in the same jangly state of ignorance, ill fitting clothes, socks to her knees rammed into shoes full of holes. She is completely free from the body politic and it’s refreshing and in a way, scary. Because when it hits, it will hit hard and fast and she’ll be gasping for breath and wondering what the hell happened.

I took her for her first bras months ago, and yes, had a little cry in the dressing room with her. She looked at me, with that mix of loathing and helplessness, and started to ask me to leave. I told her no. This was important. This I never did with my mother, and I needed to do it. She shrugged and started bitching about how uncomfortable it was.

Welcome to womanhood I joked.

In a way, I think I was saying that to myself as well, come full circle to start again.

So, this happened.

So yeah hi.

I stopped blogging about 3 years ago, about when I feel madly stupidly in love and watched my life turn itself inside out and upside down and back together like a game of Jenga but with more skittles. I had a busy life and just not really enough “trauma/drama/excitement” to take the time to post. And other events kept me a little more reticent than usual and slowly, I just dripped away.

I’ll be honest and say that I was formulating my new life and new me in my head, and was at times angry and jealous of others. I was incapable of seeing beyond my own nose and was in some ways trapped in my head.

I was also a very broke, single mother, who was in the middle of selling her first house, that house. The one that dreams are made of, the one that was supposed to last forever.

Life has a tricksy way of saying “no, not today.” when you least expect it.

Then one day I just…felt well. I had started becoming something new almost immediately after my husband left me. Something changed, something moved my chest and awakened parts of me that had really had life before. It was a slow process, borne through so little time, a new love, growing children, dreams which were tucked away because they didn’t work. I lost some weight. I put some back on. 

Importantly, I found a partner who loves me. Or as I say, “Is stupid for me.” Have you ever been loved like that? Have you ever had someone tell you, even when you’ve been puking all night and kinda smell like a septic tank gone bad, that you’re the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen?

I have. I have this. This is my life now. It’s what I imagine people who win a lottery might feel like, waking and realizing, I’m rich. I mean, I’m still broke, but my life is unaccountably, amazing rich. We bought a house. We bought a car. Our land is across from a lake, and has a stream running behind it. There’s fish and birds and the slow burble of water. 

When I was 17, when I had a vague desire of a future, before I shut it off that forecasting, I saw this place. I saw these walls, I saw the light across the windows, the cats soundly snoring on the chairs. I saw this life. I wanted this. I have this life.

It’s still pretty incredible to me, after all this, after what I’ve had and lost, that I’ve come full circle. It’s like the universe hit “reset” and I really and truly got a second chance to be happy.

And I am so very happy.

___

But I don’t know if this space will really be about that. I mean, happiness is great and all, but let’s face it. It’s mind numbingly boring to read about and how many times can you really say the same things over and over again? Russian novelists never wrote about the happy marriages after all.

What I am interesting in exploring is the growth of my daughters. I lost my mother at 11. My eldest daughter just turned 11. I have very sparse memories of that time, and little to no map of how I was parented. After Mom died, I really just wasn’t. So I’m worried. I’m worried about fucking my daughter up. I’m worry about not being there as she needs, or being there too much. I’m worried that my motherloss will alienate my daughters. 

I worry I’ll just be a bitch frankly.

So hopefully I can look at that a little objectively here-my own choose your own adventure for parenting after motherloss.

Should be fun.