It’s been a month of marching, head down, against the cruel weather that life throws at you from time to time. I’ve been followed by storm clouds that have threatened to engulf me, and woke from an awful dream last night where I was suffocating.
When life gets tricky, a gulp of fresh air is essential. It’s amazing how a few hours out in the spring breeze can soothe nerves and restore calm. Today I loaded my tribe of girls into the car and we drove out to Wallington, the stunning home to a bunch of bohemian socialists, the Trevelyans.
Feeling trapped inside my head, the wide expanses of Northumbrian landscape provided the perfect antidote. I am usually drawn to the beach, only minutes from our home, when searching for solace. Today, though, we headed west, up into the hills. You can still see the sea from the heights of the national park, and today was clear and bright blue, broken up only by the aeroplane trails cutting through the sky.
For much of the journey, weaving around the bends and dipping up and down hills, we trailed an ambulance. M, especially, was fascinated by the flashing blue light – it has been her dream for several years to become a paramedic, and she chatted about what the ambulance might be doing. Imagine her delight when an air ambulance loomed into view in a field alongside the road, although we all hoped for a happy outcome for the poor cyclist lying on the verge.
Minutes later we drove into Wallington. It’s one of our favourite places, and since M went to school, we have avoided going there without her if possible because it’s just too special for her to miss.
Today was all about scones in the sun, clambering over dragons, marvelling at a narwhal’s horn, and hide and seek behind the trees.
Often, it is easy to miss the simple pleasures that come hand in hand with motherhood. There’s all the slog – the nappy changing, the night feeds, the clearing up, the endless mess. And there’s the guilt that you should be doing something else, clinging onto the person you were before you were a parent, or making plans for life when they are not babies any more. Sometimes, with home education, I feel that our time must have more purpose – a throwback from my teacher training.
But today it felt amazing to just wrap baby F’s arms around my neck and stand still, as she pushed her cheek against mine. It felt perfect to lift little M up to a branch so she could stroke clusters of furry new leaves. M leapt and ran, noticing everything and grabbing at life. And B was at home, as she always is when she is outside, listening to birds and inventing worlds.
I watched all of this, and after weeks of my mind feeling tangled and agonised, it was the relief I needed to just enjoy being a mother. I realised that the four little girls, running across the lawn, clutching hands in a line, was the tonic I needed.