Making Home

Something I find utterly bewildering is the fact that this house, that my husband and I bought just after we married and have been filling with junk ever since, is my children’s home. All the random things we have done and not done to the house (done: made sure they each had a bedroom; not done: order and tidy our belongings) set the scene for their early childhood memories, in the same way that I look back on my own childhood and most of it takes place in my home in the Netherlands.

At my parents' house the table is always set for a fancy dinner

At my parents’ house the table is always set for a fancy dinner

I can paint you a picture of this house with my memories:
On the 5th of December, someone would knock on the door and our wicker laundry basket would be outside filled with presents from Sinterklaas. The back of the sofa in the extension could be pushed forward to create a reception desk, a bar, a bus or aeroplane. My mother would always play Scarlatti on the piano and when I was older I taught myself to play the first 16 bars of it, out of nostalgia. Now I play it on any piano I come across. My brother and I had our own computer but for most of my writing I would sneak into my parents’ study and sit at my Mum’s far superior PC to create never-to-be-finished novels and deeply sentimental poetry.  I slept in the loft and had always wanted a four poster bed, like a princess. For one of my birthdays, my parents put up curtain rails around the bed, screwed into the beams, and I woke up in the middle of the night to find my Mum quietly putting up pink curtains to make my princess bed, all ready for when I woke up on my birthday.

These are the moments that we are creating for our children right now, in this house. The enormity of it hit me this week. Hence my poem for today.

Making Home

This is the home of your youth
where your childhood takes place
where your foundations are laid
where your memories are made.

You will think back to this house one day
with a thrill of nostalgia:
remember how the wind would howl
around the house, in all seasons
– you will say –
the house on the hill, the overgrown garden?

Remember the mess, the boxes in corners
that didn’t have homes
YET, Mum would say
but there they would stay
we never looked at them, they were
furniture, part of the décor,
just papers and wires and broken CDs.

Remember how we played hide and seek
and had picnics with teddies and plastic cake;
and how we were explorers, built towers,
climbed mountains of cushions,
made a pirate ship out of your bed
and sailed off to plunder the kitchen?

Remember how I’d sneak into your room
in the dead of night, with a flash light,
and we’d talk in the dark about bullies
and loneliness and friends who were cruel?

One day you will meet, all grown up, over coffee,
the house may be sold, or you have moved out,
and your minds will have blended and softened the edges
so even sadness or sorrow gain a magical glow.

But first, you must live through these days and grow up here
make memories for later, grow love play and cry
in the unfettered joy of your childhood
build our love for each other
into a happy home.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2013

Linking up to Prose for Thought.

Prose for Thought

Still dreaming

3o wasn’t a big deal for me. As I said in my birthday post, I generally quite enoy getting older and am still holding out hope that one day I’ll be old enough to be taken seriously. But I have to say that so far I have not worn 33 as comfortably as previous ages. I am starting to rethink my self-image: am I who I think I am? Or am I still operating on assumptions that are no longer valid? Sometimes I feel like I have lost all the opportunities of youth but not yet gained the wisdom that comes with age and am just sitting here, in the middle, staring into space.

This is the chirpy subject of this week’s poem.

Still Dreaming

When I’m not looking and just living
I think I am still young, sometimes,
too young to have two little children,
to own a house or read The Times.

I imagine I’m still standing
on the brink of life, still waiting
for the show to start
the future open, nothing decided
full of potential, thinking
the world is holding its breath
for me
waiting for me
and what I have to say.

I am still dreaming
of a greater life
than this.

When I look into my rear view mirror
I look old sometimes, and cringe in shame
at my knee high boots and miniskirts
and my dreams of literary fame.

I had my chance and made my choices
ships have sailed and trains been missed
tethered to domestic life now
plans for writing interrupted
by a sudden need to snooze
or by my miniature muse
who says nuff puter, Mummy,
calling me to feed his dreams
to nurture his potential
and ambitions
not my own.

I am still dreaming
of a greater life
than this.

And in this dream I see you laughing
You say I haven’t understood
You’re only thirty-three, you tell me,
It’s only starting to get good.

You spent all these years in practice
while I built this life for you
Now enjoy it and get writing
it’s what I meant for you to do.

Woman, writer, mother, wife
there really is no greater life
the future will be ever gleaming
just as long as you keep dreaming.

(c) Judith Kingston 2013

Linking up to Prose for Thought and I am Me.

Prose for Thought
I am me

A Change in Perspective

My patience is at zero today and I can’t cope with the Toddler’s exuberance (read: running around knocking things over, pulling all the books off the shelf, littering the floor with tiny sponge letters and a whole deck of cards) and seemingly boundless hunger (6am: Mummy, bread stick? 6.10: Mummy raisins? 6.20: Mummy banana? 7am: Mummy porridge? 7.15: Mummy more porridge? 8am: Mummy apple? and so on until at 10.30 he was consuming another whole bowl of Weetabix and asking for more). Even his affection was getting on my nerves, as he came and snuggled up next to me while I was trying to do work on my laptop, wanting hugs and cuddles. I may also have been on Twitter but that is entirely beside the point, of course.

Anyway, for Prose for Thought today I was planning to post an old poem that I wrote a year or so ago, but instead I found myself writing one about how frustrated I was feeling with my son. My poetry doesn’t usually rhyme, unless it is Sinterklaas, but it felt appropriate in this case.

A change in perspective

I love you, but you wind me up.
Your goals don’t mesh with mine.
When you want midnight cuddles,
I want a glass of wine.

When you want to watch a DVD
I want you to play.
And when you think you’re helping me
you’re getting in my way.

Your games involve a lot of mess
and take up all my time,
and when I want you to stay still
you want to jump and climb.

I have so little patience
and you have so much joy.
Life’s one big experiment
and everything’s a toy.

I keep telling you ‘be careful’,
‘don’t touch’ and ‘don’t go there’,
but isn’t it much better
to try things and go everywhere?

Better to get down on my knees
and see life through your eyes.
I may be a bit more sensible
but you are far more wise.

(c) Judith Kingston , 2013

As I was writing this, my son started playing and interacting with his baby sister, making her laugh, playing games with her, trying to attract her attention and amuse her. This is a new development. My poem is done and he is still playing with her.

I’m linking this with Prose for Thought.

Prose for Thought

 

A Poem about Milk

I have a lot of work on this week but still wanted to link up with Prose for Thought, so I am cheating a bit and posting a poem I wrote when the Toddler was but two weeks old. I have shared some of the trouble I had breastfeeding my daughter in the beginning, but breastfeeding my son was no walk in the park either. One of the many frustrating things about feeding him in the beginning was that he would seem to be about to latch on and then put his hands in his mouth instead, which is what this poem is about.

Milk

They say it won’t last forever
this fight between you and me
over where the milk comes from.
You say it’s your hands
I say it’s my breasts
and science is on my side.
Also, you’re only two weeks old
and know nothing of
well, anything, just yet.

But after I win this one
there will be more, I’m sure.
There will be: no, no, no shoes
and
i don’t want broccoli
and
please five more minutes
and
everyone’s wearing them.
These too will be easy to win
with “mum knows best”
and science and common sense.

In time, though, there will be other fights,
where you fight with my weapons,
you question my wisdom, my ethics,
my decisions and often, my sense.
I just hope by that time
I can lose graciously
and give you your due where it’s earned.

Until that time, look this way for milk
and put those hands away so I can feed you.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2010.

Prose for Thought