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ode to joy

Exhaustion is therapeutic. We've been so busy the last month with the house and work and life stuff that I haven't really had time to miss the children properly. Last night I was still clening past 2am, and got up at 6 to finish the job. It's still not done but all the rooms are functional and the last remains of chaos have been relocated to our bedroom where they will be sorted out when they bother me sufficiently.

Exhaustion spaces you out. I knew rationally that my children were coming back, but the life shift - from two of us into four - didn't start to sink in until we were 5 miles from Gatwick. And then the tingliness began. The feeling like I had been plugged into an electric socket and was gently vibrating with the energy and tension of it all.

I literally ran through the airport. We weren't late, but my legs had their own agenda. I could feel the pulling of the cord (stretched thin by two months in different countries)get stronger and stronger and I knew that Matei was just as excited to be seeing us as we were to see him.

By the time we were in Arrivals, I was floating in a sea of calm but Z was radiating tension and excitement as he scanned each new emerging face. We had been gearing up to take a video on our phones, but from the first moment that I saw the children all technology was abandoned. My hands had other plans and flew to hug and hold them.

They were beautiful and grinning and tanned. Matei hopping from foot to foot in his excitement, running from Z to me and back to Z like he couldn't figure out who to cling to first. And Helena looking confused but open to the new turn of events. I'm not sure if she remembered who we were but was prepared to concede that we were delightful company.I haven't been able to stop kissing her. My baby who has become a girl in my absence. She talks in her own language and lurches like a zombie drunkard holding onto our hands. She faceplants the grass and laughs. She eats like a Viking (chunk of bread in one hand, a cup she bangs onto the table in the other) and belches like a trucker. When she is excited she shrieks with glee and when thwarted she howls with anger. She is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

As is my boy. My complex, wonderful, generous, obstinate boy who ran through the house and all our lives like a tornado uprooting everything we belived about ourselves and parenthood. He has come back with a new arsenal of grown-up words and rituals (at dinner after the grown-ups had clinked wine glasses, he raises his juice and says "And now I'd like us to drink this next cup for the health and well-being of my girlfriend") and new disfiguring injuries. He was bitten by a wasp yesterday and half his face is so grotesquely swollen that he looks like he's been in the ring with Mike Tyson. He's not in any pain, so he just skips around cheerfully - looking very much like a stoic victim of horrifying abuse, which is excellent timing because he is starting nursery any day now.

With each year he has mellowed, but he is ultimately the same perceptive, complex and anxious child he always was, as illustrated in the anecdote below:

Recently my sister gave birth to a baby girl. Initially, Matei was very excited about this - telling all and sundry how he has another little sister Kiki, and how he is her big brother and how they will play together and he will look after her. Then a few hours later he was overcome with a profound and immense sadness. When asked what is wrong he replied:
"I am afraid that Callum* won't love me anymore, now that he has Kiki."**
"Of course he still loves you!" the grown-ups protested, but Matei only shook his head sadly and said:
"No, no. Everything has changed."

Time away from the children is good and needful. We accomplished an enormous amount and reminded each other of the joys of being man and wife and the unbridled glory of being able to go out without elaborate packing and childcare arrangements. It was magnificent and we had a damn good time.

In the dark days after Matei's birth in which I felt trapped and hopeless, when I feared I had broken my life the freedom of my Life Before Children seemed an impossible and luminous dream. But the truth (now that my life is no longer broken, or even chipped) is that I can always have more holidays and dinners out but I will never have children as glorious as these. We are all together and all is well.


*The baby's father and Matei's Favourite Person.

** He could have authored I am a Poor Little Clown, The Sad Harlequin my grandmother's favourite poem of abandoned and unappreciated toys which made me cry and she used to recite to me whenever she felt aggrieved.

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Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
lobsterbox
Sep. 10th, 2011 02:33 am (UTC)
*sniff* Sorry, I, uh, seem to have gotten some dust or something in my eye. *dab dab* What a lovely reunion!
lebeautemps
Sep. 10th, 2011 07:00 am (UTC)
This is indeed lovely. So jealous.
truth_is_not
Sep. 17th, 2011 11:57 pm (UTC)
YOu have a wonderful way with words and I love your description of the baby. If you ever write a book, please let me know aned I will be the first to stand in line and buy it.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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