By Alison August 24, 2010 7 Comments 3 Min Read

This morning started like every other morning during the school holidays has: with the kind of random question that occupies my little boy’s mind when school isn’t filling it with phonics and matheamatical equations. I was half caught up in the kind of dream I would pay the angels to fill my mind with, when I heard the clatter of Finley escaping from his iron bed and charging across the hall in an effort to have the question preying on his mind answered as soon as possible.
“Do pigeons like cheese on toast Mum?” He said, wheedling under my cosy quilts and placing his icy cold hands either side of my face so my attention couldn’t go wondering back into dreamland and  escape  the delivery of a sensible  answer to a ludicrous question.
“No”, I said. (Because I am feeling resolutely uninspired in all departments of my life right now and try as I might the culinary habits of pigeons have never really been my forte).
“Oh” he said, before launching into his usual morning diatribe about David Cameron, Doctor Who and little girls with ginger hair, while I closed my eyes again and hummed and haa-ed in the right places. Because I am a bad Mummy and social services are going to be on to me any day now. Though I rather suspect they might have their hands full with Mummies across the land at once savouring every moment of the Summer holidays while simultaneously  counting down the days until the children very close to driving them to distraction can be handed over to earnest looking school teachers for their own safety.
You see much as I love my little boy I miss the shape of the days we enjoy when he is back at school. I miss our routines, because my brain goes to pot when there is no routine to speak of and Finley enjoys his “at-home days” to such a degree that he all but refuses to leave the house, preferring instead to follow me around in his pyjamas, talking incessantly, or drawing maps of planets on which men with hairy faces live. And I shamefully, keep on the move, polishing this or ironing that so that entire days aren’t lost to being pinned to my armchair by a child who wraps himself around me and forces me to endure episode after episode of Dick and  bloody Dom.
I cant wait till I can get back to my desk and work properly. My calender is perforated (and exasperated) by these periods of waiting. Interims between seasons. Countdowns to occasions. And for every event I tick off, for every September that comes and goes, (heralded by much gleeful anticipation), and for every birthday my litle boy celebrates, my life is passing by.  I know this. I sense the passage of time more pertinently now than I ever did. Another grey hair. Another Christmas on it’s way. Every time I wish it was next week, or tomorrow, I am wishing a little bit more of my life away and  mindfulness goes out of the window in favour of  impatience and frustration: emotions as familiar to me as my constant, gnawing need to read: to know, to learn. To fill my head not with what is, but what might be. To eat custard creams until they come out of my ears.
Today a friend is burying her partner. Five miles down the road Richards’ lovely Dad lies, unaware that, though it is breaking all our hearts, the prognosis after a long series of scans and tests is no longer a positive one. Everything seems drenched in gloom and though my Mum tells me that is all just part of getting older, if I am absolutely honest, it terrifies me.
And I am cross with myself for being frightened. For not being grateful enough.
For not enjoying every moment I get to share with my precious little boy. For resenting the time I spend with him because it eats away at the time available to fritter on personal ambition. For not yet being grown up enough to understand what life is about, and fearing sorrow as if I were the only one ever to have to endure it.
For not knowing whether pigeons prefer ham sandwiches or pot  noodles. For the constant burden that is frustration.
For still being a little girl.


  1. lazy h says:

    Oh Alison. So sorry about your friend’s partner, and Richard’s dad, and all those around and loving both of them.
    You’re absolutely right but I think we can’t be mindful all of the time. Being present may be important, but so is dreaming and thinking of the future. You need ambition and frustration to create. It’s finding the balance that I’ve yet to manage… Don’t be too hard on yourself – that’s what I’m trying to say, I hope I’m not being patronising.
    Anyway, love x

  2. Gill says:

    Dear Alison, My heart bleeds with you. My mother took two long weeks to die after a major stroke last winter. It was slow and every tiny wrench to our hearts was magnified as she slipped away into unconsiousness and helplessness until she and we stopped fighting what was happening and started to pray for a quicker end. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Richard. If the prognosis is as bad as my mothers was, be blessed in that you have time to say all you need to say now. Gill.

  3. Heather says:

    I often still think of myself as a child in a 37 year old body. It horrifies me when I realize my daughter has just started high school and next year my son will be going to middle school. How can I expect my daughter to be a grown up in 4 years, when I myself at most times still feel like a child. How do these people who seem so aged get to be so? I know that if push comes to shove I am capable of handling anything that comes my way, but I don’t want to. I want my life to be a perfect little bubble, like it seemed to be when I was a child-although I never appreciated it as much as I should have. Then I think about what it will be like when I’m older and how I probably don’t appreciate what I have now. My kids will be gone having their own lives. My son won’t be here to snuggle with me anymore. My kids won’t need me to make their meals and do their laundry and help them with their homework. What will become of me then? I sometimes wish I could stop time so they would never leave me-yes, I know that is incredibly selfish. They are not here for me, they are here for their own lives.
    Life is so hard and confusing sometimes. I am sorry about Richard’s father and your friend’s partner. I wish you all the best Alison-you deserve it.

  4. jademichele says:

    your openness and honesty never fail to touch me.
    and the way you live life with beauty,love and grace-
    no matter what is happening in your life.
    we are all scared sometimes;
    i'm always so relieved to realize i'm not the only one.

  5. Kellie says:

    Im delighted to hear you say that you still feel like a little girl. Sometimes I wish I could leave my hubby and boys for a while and go back to being looked after by my mummy and daddy. My sister and her kids live with them and I do get jealous of them. I couldnt think of anything nicer than to lie in bed on a saturday morning listening to mum vacuming away and having not a care in the world.

  6. Judi says:

    The best parent is one who teaches their fledgings how to fly. To be confident without you at their side. My "baby" will be 46 on Wed. and he is a treasure. Do not fear old age and death. They are a perfectly normal part of life.

  7. Lucy says:

    Alison, you really could be writing for me at the moment!
    I feel so guilty for living in the future and not appreciating the here and now, but have come to realise there is nothing wrong in having ambitions and wanting to move your life onwards. Better that than to lack direction and have an empty head.
    Your writing just keeps getting better and I love to hear anything you have to say, suggest and recommend. Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing x x x

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