Friday, September 23, 2011

Manic Mannerisms

Ruby was one yesterday, but like a present being slowly unwrapped, she is the celebration. This has been the hardest time of my life, and there were many's a time over the last year when I honestly did not think I would survive. But I did....and more surprisingly, so did Ruby... a thriving fiesty determined amazing bundle of cuteness. A beautiful gift. If extremely noisy! Oh, how she is noisy!

And as she (rapidly) grows - already walking, coming up and down the stairs, and getting off beds and sofas feet first (something it toook me at least 18 months to teach the others) I realise she too has a different personality and we have three amazing unravelling mysteries in our midst. Whereas Poppy is slow and deliberate about everything, Ruby is already a speedy Gonzales, like her older sister Daisy.

Let me explain just how slow (I really should start saying methodical) she is - Poppy's latest behavioural nuance is to wear socks and a cardigan every night in bed. OK, this doesn't seeem to be too extreme... except every evening she spends (at least) 15 minutes deciding which pair of socks it will be - and often changes them at least three times before morning! She lives so far into her own world, it often takes me 15 times to say something before she looks up in surprise and realises I'm talking to her. She has developed an imaginary friend called Heart. It took me a while to realise just how important Heart is, and how involved she is in our lives. She currently joins us for most meals, and is over for playdates nearly every day. Poppy apparently watched an amazing TV show (all made up, but complex, thought out and detailed) at Heart's house one day and they chat on the phone all the time. Poppy hasn't mentioned her height in a while so it all made a bit of sense when I asked her what Heart looks like. "She's small like me and will always be the same size as me." Whatever gets you through the day I say.

Daisy on the other hand is chalk to Poppy's cheese. Fast, impatient and always thinking out loud, asking questions. Just a few of the recent ones include - how does my arm work? is our eyeball a TV screen? You're the best baker in the world mummy. (OK that wasn't a question, but I had to slip it in!). I've already detailed her slight OCD tendency to keep treasures in various boxes, each neatly purused every evening. Now as she approaches her 6th birthday, every night we have to go through all her 5th birthday cards. Every night. Whereas Poppy never knows what day it is, or what we're doing (the other day, dressed up in her ballet gear she asked me where we were going?), Daisy has the sharpest memory I've ever seen. She recalls everything, and calls me out regularly. She's learning Irish at school and loving it, practising her new words every day (Ruby even got sung Happy Birthday in Irish, while her Northern Irish mum and English dad struggled along!)). I told her her memory is great and that she'll be brilliant at languages. She nodded sagely, and said, "Yes, I keep the words on my Remember Shelf in my head. It's like a computer, and when I can't sleep at night, I just play with my computer."

And now there is Ruby Rose. A law unto her own. I'd forgotten how rude toddlers are! Whereas Daisy and Poppy ask for everything with a please and a thank you, Ruby just points and screeches, then grunts! But she is fast emerging into a loud boisterous personality, full of smiles and nuances. Happy birthday my precious girl.... I love being in the front row of your amazing show.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My little trove of treasures

I am constantly amazed by how different our three girls are. Same genes, same upbringing, completely varying personalities. As Ruby's character bursts through her blossoming body, a brand new element nudges its way into our family dynamic, all treasures to keep safe, and to enjoy.
Poppy gives and demands affection all day - curling up on my lap whenever she can, whispering sweet nothings into my ear while I sit on the loo, holding my hand to walk across the kitchen. Daisy reserves her love for some quality one-on one time at the end of the day - keeping everything in until I get into bed beside her for 'talkie talkie' before she goes to sleep. Last night, talkie talkie lasted for some considereable time, but I banished the lure of my cool glass of Pinot Grigio Blush calling me from downstairs and gave in to the moment. She had something important to share with me. She keeps a little treasure box beside her bed and inside are all her trophies and collections she goes through every night. I listened as she took out every sparkly sticker, every glass bead, every token of discovery (she goes treasure searching in the school yard apparently!) as she gave me its history and meaning, little gifts from friends, fantastic finds and discoveries. Then we moved on to the more special treasure kept in her music box. This includes a little bell from her mobile above her bed, a special clip, an old earring of mine and a piece of paper. Each one tenderly held and adored. Finally I was allowed to see the creme de la creme. Inside her dressing table drawer (neat as a pin, every item in its place lined up side by side) is a little ceramic box for keeping teeth in before the tooth fairy comes. Inside, two pink sparkly jewels. She spoke in awed whispers. Then everything was neatly put back, lying in wait until tonight's viewing. The treasures of childhood, nuggets of comfort, lessons of love, links to friendships.
(Poppy keeps hers under her pillow - a different one every night, her dressing room drawer a chaotic mess of mass, my discoveries when I hoover their room and find stuff she has hidden under her bed - this can include a wooden spoon, my egg timer, a pair of my pants, and the TV remote control we've been looking for for a week).
And I realise I have my little treasure box of nuggets too - I have a box with scaps of paper and whenever the girls say something funny or important, I write it down and throw it into the box so I don't forget. Every so often I take them out to read - my little treasures, nuggets, memories, comfort. Daisy has offered some classics lately. "Mummy? I wish I was a boy so I could go out to work." This left me feeling just a tad concerned about my status as a role model! She compensated recently by proudly telling her new teacher that her mummy writes for the Irish Times and when asked who she'd rather be - me or her daddy, she replied - not daddy because he's too hairy, but not mummy because she works too hard!"
Last week I was sorting some stuff out in my mum's bedroom, and I came across a bag in the top of her wardrobe. It contained all the letters I have written her over the years, each one lovingly kept, re-read, loved.
We all need our treasures it seems.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The pain of love

It's done. Another dreaded milestone in the loss of my mum. Ruby's naming ceremony was held at the weekend.....without my mum. I still find it hard at times to comprehend how life can change so drastically on the tick of a clock... one second my life was intact, bursting with new promise as I held my newborn, complete, and the next second of time it is irrevocably, drastically calamatously shattered. One second to change a lifetime of experience - that of sharing my life with my mum, to a new lifetime of events, celebrations, days and life without her.

It was a wonderful day. My dad and brother came down, keeping me warmed by the family blanket of love and support my mum worked so hard to create. My friends sharing my joy, loyal and loving as always. My hubby, holding my hand as he always does. And of course, Daisy, Poppy and Ruby - our much fought for, much loved child, so utterly beautiful, so beguiling, so wondrous.

But it wasn't the same. It can never be the same without her. Worse, alive and in a carehome while dad was with me while her family celebrate being a family. Horrific. The worst torture I could ever have conjured up for my mum.

But it is done. She won't be in the photos, glowing from the love of Ruby; she won't be in the video, beaming in delight. But she was here. In our thoughts, in our unity, in our heart and in our conversation. Because she is the rock I stand on. And the photos of me glowing are because she loved me. And the video of me beaming is because her love keeps me going still.

Friday, September 2, 2011

What a difference a year makes...

Yesterday the girls went back to school and playschool. Uniforms dusted down from the wardrobe; new white socks in squeaky new shoes; hairs cut and washed; schoolbags eventually found, emptied, cleaned and repacked; breakfast table set. As we left, I took a photo by the front door as I always do to mark the beginning of a fresh start. Last night I sent it to my mum, along with last year's picture. What a difference a year makes.

Yesterday, Daisy a little older and a lot wiser. No tears, no fear, only excitement and anticipation. A new haircut, shorter, more manageable, a little older. She has grown into her uniform, no longer looking quite like Orphan Annie with a skirt to her ankles and sleeves past her fingertips. And Poppy.... how she has changed, and grown and blossomed. A little taller, a lot happier. A new haircut, shorter, more manageable, a little older. She has grown into her skin, no longer suffering from malnutrion, her gluten free diet nourishing her body and mind. And of course, the new addition. Ruby. Bursting from my belly last year, now a glorious bouncing, busy, boisterous baby.

When I look at last year's picture... I remember the promise in my life. Three weeks later my baby would be born. I was full of plans and projects. My mum would help me through the first few weeks, and we would sit wrapped in newborn love, proud and pompous with the delight of our lives. We had holidays planned, excitement brimming with the thoughts of the year ahead.

Instead the promise was destroyed, as the blood seeped into her brain and destroyed her memory, her voice, her life.

But.... as I look at this year's picture, I must remember I have new promise. The girls growing and glowing all the time. Ruby, a mystery minx, revealing her character and cuteness every day. A new year to learn, and grow and love. My mum is still part of my life. The love she gave me every one of my 41 years, will keep me going for the next 41, seeing the promise in life every day.