lost and found

I found this sweet postcard inside some old books I bought a while ago.

I have been meaning to share it with you for ages.  I love the way someone has written initials on the mama duck and the other duck.  Who was Erpel?  U.L  must stand for Uschi Levy, the name on the back of the postcard.

Here is the other side.  It was sent in Berlin.  If anyone can read German, I would love to have a translation.

I’ll share more of the old books tomorrow.  They are beautiful.

light and dark

Its strange how light and dark can be two sides of one day or even one moment.  I am experiencing that a lot right now.  The dark in rising frustration as I make yet another phone call to someone who cannot help me; in feeling helpless as I try to take action and make no progress; in watching my father get weaker and older and wondering what we do.

At almost the same time I experience the incredible lightness of being with two young children.  I get to watch them share, play, laugh, dance.  I see the beauty of leaves changing colour and the brightness of the autumn sky.

I don’t share all the darkness here, but its there for all of us, isn’t it in this grim and beautiful world? Its a good thing, that the truth is the light shines on in the darkness and the darkness is not able to put it out.

out to work

I had an interesting conversation at the weekend with another stay-at-home mother.  We talked about the frustrations and loneliness of the role.  She comes from a country where childcare is very cheap and the cost of living in other ways very high.  So for most professional women it is much more ‘sensible’ to employ a nanny and go back to work (they also do not have anything like our generous maternity leave legislation).  In that situation, choosing to stay at home is so much harder and lonelier.

It makes me suddenly aware of what a privileged position I am in.  I am so grateful for the opportunities to meet other mothers for play dates and coffee and walks.  This has always been part of my experience of being a parent and I have probably taken it for granted.

I also think of what is lost to a community if all the mothers are engaged in ‘productive’ work.  Our local toddlers group would struggle if it relied wholly on new mothers on short maternity leaves to run it.  And our playgroup requires parents to take turns on duty – impossible or very difficult where both parents work full time.  I can think of numerous other activities that I would be unable to do if I was working full time.

I am not criticising mothers who work: I hugely admire what they achieve.  I hope to do paid work again one day.  But I do know its not just our family that benefits by me staying at home:  the community does as well.  There’s a wealth of social capital to be found in women who do not go out to do a paid job.

So here’s to mothers who have stayed at home with their kids – to my own mum, to Sarah, to Kate, Jo, Ruth; to Jill, Karen Jenny, Sally and Alex; to Kathryn, Julie and Stef; to Wilma, to Glynis, to Enid and Gladys – precious women all,  I’m thinking of you today.

Once in a while, from out of nowhere

Once in a while from out of nowhere
When you don’t expect it, and you’re unprepared
Somebody will come and lift you higher
And your burdens will be shared

These words come to my mind as I think about today.  Out of nowhere, after the rain, the sun came out and we had a great day by the sea, with friends to talk to and play with and light shining through colours in old glass.

Afterwards, the fathers put the tired children to bed, and the mothers watched what I think must be my favourite film: Chariots of Fire, which has just been re-released.  Please go and watch it.  It is so beautiful in surround sound on the big screen. So good to watch and enjoy.

And finally, as the light faded over the sea, we talked and found our burdens could be shared.  Unexpected.  Blessed.