Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Shifting and sifting

A brilliant Christmas, a lifetime's journey to reach perfection.
When we were younger and idealistic without children, we imagined how it would be , how we would bring our children up and expose them to ideas and traditions and education. We thought we could form and mould them. But we were so wrong, they have shaped us. Humbly and with affection as the year fades out I am glad and pleased. Yes, we have educated them, but boy have they educated us. We have shared our passions and they have taken our world and expanded into horizons that did not even exist in our lifetime. They have leaped ahead in leaps and bounds and we sit on the sidelines and watch in silent admiration whilst they grasp at possibilities that we have never dared dream off let alone spoken off. They capture them and embrace them as if they are a natural progression. We become the 'Aged' one from Dickens 'Great Expectations'- deaf but present- not able to take part but there as as observers.

I had not expected time to pass so quickly. I thought the universe was my centre, but now I know it was only fleeting symbol. The shadows are waiting, the chair in the wings beckons and now I question why I was always happy to play the role as the understudy or the prompt. My children have surpassed what ever I have achieved, yes,  it is brilliant, but also it underlines how much more I could have achieved if only I had pushed myself further.

So the sands of time shift and now instead of reading stories and creeping out of bedrooms after trying to help children sleep we go to bed first. We blow the candles out and leave instructions because we cannot quite let go, but we climb the stairs and leave the young to discuss issues and ideas into the night and the early hours.Responsibilities shift. We need our sleep otherwise we cannot function the next day, whilst the young need to formulate their ideas in the night without us, to become the people of tomorrow.

We sift through our memories and remember Christmas's past and this one has been a turning point in time. We leave the past behind and we move onto new eras with new central characters. There is a sense of incredible excitement and togetherness as we look forward and yet for us parents a sense of bitter sweet sadness.This is what we had always wanted. Bright offspring, hungry for knowledge and exploration and expression- this is their centre stage they can perform without fear.

We retire ..... to bed . Some of us to sleep, but some of us to write and think and muse. When I was younger I always thought it was strange that a married couple did not sleep together. I could never understand why couples would want to have separate beds. Now, I feel so blessed. We do not have individual bedrooms but we do have independent minds and a house of many rooms. So my husband has his room for Open University and I have our bedroom for us or for my sleepless nights and cluttered mind. Instinctively it happens that writing and restlessness coincide with sleeping patterns and I feel so lucky that our relationship is so intuitive. He sleeps and I sort and sift my thoughts and in the morning we continue....

Our future will become their past. Our present to each other, moments of promised events to be frozen in time.Theatre trips and days out suspended and gift wrapped in anticipation. Stored on a virtual bookshelf under the letter t for togetherness.

The cat Leo on borrowed time just enjoys the moment.


  1. I cannot think of mothers (and daughters) without thinking of the ancient Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone. When Persephone was taken to the underworld by Hades her mother Demeter the corn godess did not rest until she found her. Never mind that this myth was told in a patriarchal society and Persephone had been taken with her father's consent (not just any father either, Zeus the king of the gods!) but this didn't cut any ice with Demeter, she raged across the earth nearly destroying the human race in her grief by withering their crops. What a powerful metaphor for a mother's love - no wonder she was the subject of a cult that endured well into Roman times! Finally Zeus relented and sent Mercury to bring Persephone back from Hades, so the story has a happy ending, but what strikes me most is what happened afterwards. Persephone had to return to the underworld for 'a third part of the year', returning to her parents in Olympus every spring, and she can be seen in other myths represented as an awe-inspiring and just queen ruling side by side with Hades as his equal - she is no mere adornment on the arm of a powerful man. Persephone was also a symbol for all of life, spending winter gestating in the darkness and breaking through the surface into the light every spring. I think it is important to remember that although as mothers it is easy for us to feel like Demeter - overwhelmed by our identity as a mother and unable to function normally when we are feeling anxiety for our children, but it is important to remember that every mother is also a daughter. We all have it in ourselves to be Persephone; to emulate her ability to go into uncharted territory and not just to survive but to be strong even when we have been plunged into darkness.
    Well, I think my train of thought has run away with me there and this looks more like a blog entry than a comment! But I am grateful for the inspiration that led to such a positive train of thought.

  2. Harriet thank you so much for your beautifully written , informative and powerful comments. Persephone has always been an important symbol for me and the power of being a mother/ daughter is only just coming home to me.
    If you do indeed write a blog- then direct me to it as I would like to read it, otherwise it is back to my bookshelves and the unread classics for more inspiration.

  3. hello,
    that felt nice, reading from your perspective. I was thinking of my Dad throughout whom I've not had the chance to understand or 'get to know'.

    Thank you

  4. I have set up a blog (accessible from my profile page) I just haven't written anything on it yet...

  5. Thank you for stopping by Dream_aroma. Sometimes it feels that getting to know some-one can take a life-time and even then I am not really sure, we all have private faces.

    Harriet, keep going with the blog, small steps can be so cathartic. I have pages of unpublished words that sometimes are re-worked. But I always feel better for moving them from my mind onto paper- even if they end up in the bin.