It’s been a crazy-ass amount of time since I last posted anything on here. A large degree of the last year and a half has been spent flying by the seat of my pants between children, the washing machine, dishwasher, oven, anti-bac spray, untidy pants drawers (the drawers, not the pants. Although I know drawers to some are also pants), footballs (generally punting them at faces, accidentally…because I’m competitive and suck at it so just have to boot it when I can), Lattes (trying to make my coffee art look less phallic), and books about God, faith, learning the piano, Eleanor Oliphant (quickly reading handfuls of pages whilst desperately trying not to fall asleep). Oh, and fields (whilst welling up as my boys run over finish lines, scores goals and overcome penalty-related fears).
The remainder of the time I have mostly been telling my children that “ if you’re going to play rough then you need to be ok if you get whacked in the face with a cricket bat”. (I jest…kind of).
I am so blessed, and love that I get to focus my attention on just allowing my boys to be boys….for as long as is humanly possible.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that as a Mum the distinction between what I do and who I am can often feel overwhelmingly subtle. The lines become blurred partly because I am ‘needed’ in a mostly wonderful, but sometimes suffocating way. Even when my children are not with me, the noise still is. The whirring of the washing machine that tells me that soon I will be heading to the garden and reaching for the pegs. The Cheerio on the floor that tells me my work here is far from done. The text message that reminds me I’m free on Friday and although I was looking forward to having nothing to do I really should help out on the school trip because when they are at high school and don’t need me as much I will wish I had invested more in these primary school days.
I second guess.
I sit and ruminate over those age old cliches you often hear coming out of the mouths of meaningful older ladies in Sainsbury’s - ‘In the blink of an eye….all grown up…job will be done…big wide world. I loved mine when they were that little…then they grow up! Enjoy them. They’re not little for long. Don’t waste this time. Whatever you do, DON’T WASTE THIS TIME ’. And I look over at the cheerio and think about the meaty, freckly little hand that threw it there. And the fact that, that hand will one day be big. And I hear the beep of the washing machine, reminding me to thank God that I have boys that need me to wash their pants and keep their football kits clean and spend £10 a week on stain remover, because after my next blink they will be that little bit older, and then when I have blinked 100,000 more times they will be huge and someone else will be washing their pants and I will miss it and probably wish I had done it with more joy. And later I’ll hear that little squeaky voice saying “Muuuummmmyyyyy” just as I’m pouring my post-bedtime glass of wine and I may or may not think about the fact that in maybe 50,000 more blinks, that voice will be cracked and rugged and probably won’t want me to stroke his back until he falls asleep anymore.
So some more beautiful cliches for you:
‘Because Moments are like sand. They slip through your fingers and in a heartbeat, they are gone.’
’Make the most of this time. They grow up far too quick my love’.
‘Hold them while they still let you.’
‘Because Mothers hold their children’s hands a while and their hearts forever.’
And today this monologue is obediently playing loudly on repeat. Its rhythm strangely melodic and comforting. Its words like an old security blanket, complete with musty smell and slight discolouration. I’m listening, and it’s ok. Don’t worry, I’m feeling guilty. I’ve heard you. I will be present. I will enjoy this. I won’t waste any time. I will make Every. Minute. Count.
Several more blinks.
And then I realise. Why is this monologue even playing? Who presses play and why do I let them? Why am I allowing myself to stop and listen?
These words don’t help me, they shift my gaze away from now and towards what lies ahead. They stop me doing the very thing my spirit longs to do now. To enjoy just being. To enjoy now. With no judgement about what that means or how I might feel in 10 years time. To just be true to who I am, as a Mum and also as someone that needs friends, time alone with God, my husband, creativity, exercise, days off… to allow myself to not enjoy everything. And to love the things that bring me life. Even if that means that one day I look back and wish I’d read my children a few more stories.
Below is a piece of writing I did recently, and I wanted to share it because in typical Ansell style it captures my slightly non-sensical stream of consciousness from another angle… and that’s how I like to roll 😏. Enjoy 👇
Now…off to hang some washing.
Shall I do Chicken Casserole or Spag Bol for tea?
Out of the corner of my eye I see him. He soars through the sky, every fibre of his being stretched, exposed, abandoned to the melodic, detailed arrangements of the air around him. The way he moves is celestial, a tapestry of colour dents the space, painting a flawless work of art. A moment of beauty captured. In a heartbeat it’s gone.
His wing occupies a bead of light, my eyes blink as it’s swallowed up by the shadows. He rests. His eyes are pure, alive, with a depth that absorbs every part of me. I want to go inside, to be part of what he sees. Get lost in the very essence of his being... breathing liberty.
I feel surrounded. I become aware of my limits. My lethargy. The covenant I made with myself to yoke with the small print that says ‘be... but not too much’. He looks around him and sees space. I watch as the pigmentation in his feathers shifts with every breath.
He is void of fear.
He is free.
And my heart aches. Aches for more. And I feel almost glacial as I watch him.
He looks up.
As his wings unfold I feel a weight in my feet. A weight of heat that begins to rise. A heat that soothes my ache. That ignites my fingertips. A heat that begins to thaw the hard mass of tumult in my chest. And I hear the heart of my Father God that says ‘This life is but a breath. Be who I’ve made you’.
So I rise.