Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The walk to preschool

 Cherry has been going to a small Montessori preschool since last September. She goes three mornings a week, which gives our weeks together a shape and a routine.

The highlight of this is the walk to preschool. It's held in a church hall about a mile away, an easy walk down residential roads crossing one busier road, with a few good hills.

We are all early risers so getting out of the door in time is never a problem and our morning routine is predictable and fun. Cherry rides her little balance bike and I push Violet in the buggy, as although she's capable of the walk, it would be hard going getting us there in less than 90 minutes. As it is the journey can take up to 40 minutes and that suits me fine as it's just the best part of the day, by far.

We talk. We have names for each road - the straight road, the leafy road, the white flowers road, the road with the shiny stones. We observe and notice every slight difference. We discuss each difference in great detail, from the colours of the leaves to the goings-on in people's gardens.

We've passed exciting sights such as a broken down car, a toilet in somebody's garden, a cement mixer, a digger, a scratchy cat, several friendly cats, mushrooms growing up a tree stump, autumn blooms and berries, 'naked' winter trees and stoical evergreens, crocuses, snowdrops, daffodils, blossom, bluebells and now we're spoiled for choice as gardens explode into full bloom.

Sometimes there's roadworks and we have to find a different place to cross, and we talk about this in huge detail and speculate as to the reasons for the works. We watch red buses stop and pick up passengers and wonder where they might be going. We analyse the weather, ponder the chances of rain, wind, thunder, lightning, sunshine, snow and ice.

Cherry learned to read most letters in the alphabet by stopping at road signs and tracing the letters with her fingers, gradually recognising more and more of them. Sometimes we'll pass marks on the pavement or road and brainstorm as to how they got there. We talk about the seasons, identify cars (she can spot a Mini a mile off) and stop to pet passing dogs. Cherry has an excellent grasp of road safety, thanks to the amount of times we have crossed each familiar road and gone through the familiar routines of looking for cars. She tells me when it's safe to cross.

The walk is the same every day, but every day it's different. Something new will be waiting for us. Something will have changed.

I honestly think Cherry learns and absorbs more in these journeys than she does in preschool itself! (I don't mean any disrespect to preschool there, just that the rich opportunities a short walk offers really cannot be reproduced or bettered indoors) Violet joins in with our chats but mainly it's a time for Cherry and I.

I often give myself a hard time for not spending enough time one-on-one with Cherry, with Violet I obviously have the hours while Cherry is at pre-school but time alone with my older daughter is scarce. Until I thought about the walks to preschool and realised, that's our one-on-one time.

When I think about what I will miss when the inevitable happens (at the moment I'm completely in denial about Cherry and school) these little walks will be top of the list.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Thoughts on blogging lately

I have been thinking about just closing this blog down. I blog infrequently and quite erratically, I don't stick to linkys or projects, and its general existence bothers me as it feels half-assed and a very real and public reminder of my overall tendency to start things, not put in enough effort then sort of tail off and leave them unfinished.

*Exhales loudly*

I have concerns about privacy, I sort of want to write stuff and have nobody read it for fear they will take wild offence and comment saying I am a horrendous bitch BUT I also love it when people say they like what I have written or it has struck a chord with them. I worry about sharing too much, coming across as inauthentic and guarded OR messy and needy, and I worry about my daughters' privacy too.

I worry that all I do is write about and post pictures of my children and that all I am is a mother to my children. Then any time I think about what I might do outside of mothering I feel this enormous wave of certainty that at the moment this is my greatest work, and it deserves all of me for the short years in which it is so all-consuming.

I can't be the only one who has these mixed feelings about blogging (and mothering), so for now I have decided not to close it all down.

There aren't any real rules to blogging (well, none that I would pay attention to anyway) and that leaves me wide open. Which is one of the reasons I find it so hard.

I've been a writer my whole career, a journalist, an author, a copywriter and a creative. These are all very different forms of writing that require different skills, but what they do have in common is a requirement that I mask the 'me' in favour of the information, the facts or the message.

As I've been writing in this way, for money, for more than 10 years it's hard to unlearn these habits and let my own voice come through and write at length about me, me, me. The best I can do is write about my children and my feelings about being a mother but that's only a tiny part of the story.

But the blogs I love to read the most, and find the most inspiring, do exactly that. They tell the whole story. I do of course love reading about other people's children and looking at crafts, recipe ideas, photos, outfits, fitness updates, houses etc, but the posts I love the most are the personal ones, where you get an insight into the writers' real mind and real life.

That's truly inspiring. And seeing as I get so much from such bloggers, without their knowledge probably (must start commenting more) I feel I do want to give some of this back.

I read all the time, books on parenting and child development in particular but also around the wider area of personal growth. Being a parent feels to me the biggest opportunity for personal growth I have come across so far, and sometimes I feel I am raising three children, dragging parts of myself out of arrested development and into full adulthood. That seems to me to be a story worth telling even if I don't really know how to start, or how it ends.