Saturday, 25 April 2009

On work and play

Admittedly, I'm squeezing this post in simply 'cause my children are fast asleep and my husband's in the shower. There's a reason I'm loathe to write on weekends, when everyone's about. I want my children to remember me, with floury hands, wiping them on my apron and flinging it off over the kitchen chair, to join running races hand-in-hand down the garden. Or perching the carrot I'm peeling on the wooden board to come and look over a small shoulder and review, with the seriousness it deserves, little spidery hand-writing. I'd break off doing anything if my children need me: REALLY need me, because there's an idea that can't wait... or an impromptu game. I believe early creativity wants nurturing. And that for me means not saying: "Just wait...!", so letting the moment evaporate just at the point support's most crucial. (I do draw the line at tantrumy 'now!'s - but, like most parents, it's easy to differentiate).

But writing...writing's different. When I fall 'into the zone', where images and feelings dance over that inner eye, distractions are irritating. You lose the flow - ZAP! So, I've decided not to combine my children, and my writing. I love them both, but in different ways - like your own blood vs. stepchildren, perhaps? (the simile only comes to me because I have extensive knowledge of a friend's experience in this department, so can possibly imagine...tho'again, probably not.)

My husband, too, is learning. Learning, that is, not to mix work and family. Learning from experience. Learning as he gets older, and the kids get older. He wants his children's memories to be of fresh green cricket games outside amidst family cheers, of little shins dangling happily over large broad shoulders viewing the world from up on high. Of rough-and-tumble, mussing curly hair, swinging in circles. Pulling up rugby socks. The correct way to catch a ball. Propelling the lawn mower in tandem: one mini pusher, one big pusher (no matter if the lines aren't straight...). Of standing on the counter inspecting Mummy's store cupboards, Daddy holding on, and pleased at Daddy's 'yes': "You want a sugar lump from the jar? Well don't tell Mummy!"...

My husband already works a 14-hour and 5-day week. The children rest assured that he kisses them goodnight each and every evening in their sleep. If they wake up to the click of the front door on his way out on weekdays, I have to cry down the stairs - or rush to intervene - so they don't miss a quick hug before he leaves: sleepy half-open eyelids and crumpled 'jarmies squeezed for the briefest moment 'gainst ironed pinstripes. Or: there could be tears. But mostly they're used to it. So, on weekends, when Daddy's NOT AT WORK (HOORAY!) he doesn't want to be a 'blackberry' father: looking up and grunting monosyllabic responses as dials are urgently twiddled up and down. He'd prefer to pick blackberries from the brambles behind the house with them, instead. (My brother-in-law, an entrepreneur, is infamous for being "always on his mobile". Always. He was on it - in charge - when his daughter almost drowned in the pool. But still lives with it connected to his ear. My husband knows, and says, this shouldn't be the way.)

True, ambition is ambition. People want to be remembered for different things. I too want to achieve more than simply being a Mum. But there's a time and a place for everything in life. And priorities... What do you REALLY want to be remembered for, and by whom?... And what's the most important ambition? If you were to breathe out that last, final, farewell breath tommorow, what would be your last regret?

You wouldn't end your life wishing you'd worked more, replied to more emails, attended more meetings, even written more blogs, surely? ... Wouldn't you have wanted more sex? more sun on your back? more belly laughs with the children? Less virtual "twitter" ...and more listening to the birds REALLY singing (my mother used to differentiate a blackbird...who can do that nowadays?)

....I must go now. Hubby's out of the shower, and I don't want him to sit at work in an idle moment (if there are any?!) and think of a wife married to the blue glowing screen of a computer, in the darkness of a weekend evening. Or even lie in bed and think of it.

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