Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?
Largely by attempting to understand the perspective of my baby son. Again with the baby!
But really, this was brought home by a visiting midwife in my postnatal checks who said that a newborn is experiencing hunger, thirst, temperature, touch, many sounds and many positions all at once in the same few days. So I began by talking to him, and agreeing that it was a strange strange world he’d found himself in. And later, it became a game of trying to understand what it’s like to never be bored because everything is new. And later again, to have to infer rules from first principles. Why can you chew on food, and on many brightly coloured plastic things (toys), but not most other things? How can you explain the “what you can’t chew on” rules succinctly.
Plus, for example, babies doesn’t know about nudity and clothing, they don’t know that your nose is shaped just like food but is not meant to be bitten, they don’t know not to touch faeces, they don’t recognise a difference between food and dirt.
So, it’s been rather easy to keep in mind that the world is a strange place, this year.
Let go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
I was anticipating these things, but I can’t do any of the following now:
- propose a spontaneous late night wander with my husband, and execute it a minute later
- have a conversation with my husband in a normal tone of voice while we’re both occupying the same room
- sleep all night (I’ve slept through about ten nights since V was born)
- leave the house within two minutes of the idea occurring
It’s got to the point where it’s going to be strange to have some of that return.
Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?
Sticking to physical things, what I tend to make is food. The last food I made for pleasure rather than necessity was, I think, burnt butter biscuits for the picnic in memory of my grandmother. And I’m failing to execute a plan to make rum balls right now.
That said, “clear time for it”? This set of prompts seems to be rather in the “empower yourself” mold. I’m not making rum balls right now because I need downtime after deaths and illnesses in the last week, not because I’m failing to organise my life sufficiently well. This year, my life has organised itself around disasters and stressors. Making time for things was a recipe for disappointment in 2010.12.17.10
One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
“Vincent”, of course.
Vincent’s birth was interestingly timed in terms of the way I divide my life; slightly more than ten years after my relationship with Andrew started. So, 2000–2009 were relationship years, and very early in 2010 I had Vincent.
I thought about “mother” as well, but it seems too general to say that. Perhaps the word of 2010–2019 might be “mother”, but this year has been specifically about Vincent. 2009 was generalities about parenting and babies: what was it like, were we ready, would we make it? And this year has been more about answers. The answers are Vincent.
Next year’s word, I hope, will be “Doctorate”.
Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
You know, I think right now, each day, I do exactly as much writing as I want to be doing.
What I need to be doing is more sitting around in the evenings in pyjamas snarking at the television with Andrew. What’s stopping me doing that? Earning money. Can I eliminate earning money? No. I need to finish my PhD though and move earning money to daylight hours.
Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).
The hospital where I had Vincent discouraged fathers from staying all night, unless the baby had been born very late. Vincent was born at about 4pm, and after I had been stabilised and finally transferred to the ward with Vincent, Andrew went home at 11pm or midnight.
Vincent had had several good breastfeeds in the delivery room, but newborn babies sometimes do not feed much for the first 12 hours or so after birth. And indeed, in the ward he initially didn’t feed much. I lay half-dozing in my hospital bed, bathed in the light of a green LED attached to my otherwise dark television set. Vincent slept, wrapped up tight, in a plastic cot to my left within arm’s reach. I smelled sweat, mostly, and looked at him.
Every few hours he would call softly, like a peep or a mew and I would pick him up and put him to the breast, which he would sort of explore for a moment and then go peacefully back to sleep. At some points, I left him to sleep on my tummy.11.10.10
From comments elsewhere, I was asked to describe my ideal bedroom:
The west wall would consist mostly of glass, and would look over a generous balcony with a little tea table onto my expansive private beach, and from there into the setting sun.
The bed would be low to the ground, firm, king sized at least and also about two feet longer than is usual so my feet don’t hang over the end. In the ample room between the bed and the window-wall there would be two yoga mats (also about two feet longer than normal).
Behind a discreet sliding panel there is a small but well stocked kitchenette (benches about one foot higher than usual) with tea making facilites and a wee espresso machine. And since this is my ideal bedroom, a SILENT grinder. And a few choices of cereal and many many many fresh fruits.
In a sidecar bed attached to the main bed there is a peacefully sleeping baby, doing nothing but smiling reflexive sleep smiles, and definitely not screaming suddenly in hir sleep, snuffling, suffering from bronchiolitis, rolling around and gasping, or bouncing up and down in order to hear the squeaking it makes.
Behind another discreet sliding panel is an ensuite containing a bath that in some building codes would qualify as an indoor pool. And a double-headed shower. Ideally this bathroom also has a view of the beach.
Some ineffable process would ensure that mints appeared on the pillows every evening, and there would definitely be a cache of sweets somewhere.
Note: this is a very kind ideal bedroom. The whole coffee set up is actually for Andrew’s sake.