Eight Minutes To Midnight.

I can’t quite believe that I’ve finished the first year of my MA already! My last module was ‘Life Writing.’ It made me delve into my own life and examine my relationships and personal experiences rather than make it up! Here’s what I wrote when given the task to write  about  ‘a time when I changed my mind. ‘

I hope you enjoy.

P.S. It feels good to be back! x

Eight Minutes To Midnight.

At eight IMG_0556minutes to midnight, on Tuesday 24th October 2006 I didn’t change my mind. It was changed for me.  My cotton nightie was ripped open at the neck and William was laid slick with blood and a cheesy coating of vernix on my bare chest. A sheet was pulled up over us and my life inverted. He was the best decision I’ve never made.

I had not wanted a baby. My pregnancy was unplanned. Our marriage could still be counted in weeks. A whirlwind romance from which I was still breathless. Children were a hazy responsibility in the future. Something for my thirties, something for once I’d established my career, something for when I was a proper grown-up, or maybe never at all.

It took me over two months before  I went to the Doctor and faced the truth of what my body was already telling me. Growing and morphing out of all proportion into shapes it had never been before. At least please make it a girl, I’d thought.  I was truculent.  I thought my life was over. My freedom lost. The fresh foundations of our marriage had not yet set. We wobbled and it was terrifying.

At eight minutes to midnight, I would find out what it feels like to find gold nuggets at the bottom of a pan full of gravel.

As the years have passed, our love has become elastic. We no longer need skin to skin contact to know that we belong to one another. I’m not the epicentre of his world anymore. Each year I am gently nudged a little further towards the periphery.  I’m instructed there’s to be limited association in public and certainly no kisses. It’s been years since I’ve had a proposal. I remind him, of how each night at bedtime, he used to solemnly ask me for my hand in marriage and he screws up his face in disgust, “Gross Mum.”  I’m more likely to get put in a head-lock these days as get a hug.

William doesn’t know that he was the glue that kept our marriage together when vows could not. He was, and is, too young to understand that he made us try harder, that he is the reason for us, as we are now; stronger, better. We had to wait four long years before the miracle of our cells would combine and stick to me again. Mother nature didn’t care that I’d changed my mind about being a mum, she made sure to punish me for my insolence the first time round.

At eight minutes to midnight he left my body, but I swear I still feel the tug of his umbilical cord, like the stroke of a bell ringer, deep in my gut. I watch him, playing with friends, or sauntering out from school; chatting always chatting to someone. Like his dad, he is tall and broad across his shoulders and I feel my throat tighten and my chest fill up with grateful joy. My boy. My immeasurable, handsome, kind, funny boy. How wrong I was; my life didn’t end with him, the most meaningful part of it began.

Before eight minutes to midnight, I thought I knew love. I didn’t.

 

 

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The power of Prioritising.

This week I was delighted to be invited by the lovely Melissa Addey (@MelissaAddey) to contribute to her brilliant thepraminthehall blog. You can read my post here. I talk about the importance of prioritising your time. We all need to ‘make’ our own time; it’s not simply given to us.
rabbit Alice in WonderlandRight now, there’s a laundry basket of wet towels that really needs my attention together with any number of  ‘other things’ I should be doing, but I have one hour before I have to collect my youngest from nursery and right now is the only ‘free-time’ I’m likely to get, so I’m doing this instead. I know on my deathbed I’ll not wish I’d kept a tidy house (though my husband might disagree!) I’ll be glad I tried my best to achieve my own goals.

What about you, what will you prioritise?

In other news, last week my writing group were given the Mark Strand poem ‘Lines for Winter’ were he writes to a friend suffering with depression. The poem repeats the line ‘tell yourself’ and it got me thinking about what we tell ourselves in order to keep us thinking our glass is either half full, or not. And what happens if we stop telling ourselves the positives and slip into the negative. My response to the poem is below. It just may have sparked another bigger story idea. You never know, there might be another book in me after all! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

I Tell Myself. (Lines for a wife)

I dreamt of you again last night.  I’m not sure if it’s you then, or you now. When I’m awake you’re out of reach. But, when I’m sleeping it’s… it’s like you’re beside me. I can almost feel you.  I worry I might utter your name for David to overhear. I feel guilty. I feel guilty for even thinking about you. But surely, an affair in my mind does not equal the same betrayal? Does it? I mean I never actually wouId…

I’ve been telling myself it’s an age thing. A mid-life crisis. A cliché. Something to do with turning fifty. Because it was all so long ago and we were children – really. I’m seeing it through rose-tinted glasses… aren’t I? There’s no way back, I know, but… a part of me, no –  all of me, would love to be with you again; young and free. We were together for a long time. Years too long.  Most of it has dissolved into the ether of my memory; taped up and packaged away under ‘when I was young’ and ‘first love.’ But some of it, tiny moments of it, have solidified and I continue to feel them. It’s unsettling. And then seeing you last week – well, I just can’t shake you from my skin. It’s as though you’re in my bones. Inside my head. I see you even when you’re not there.

I’ve been telling myself that this melancholy, this greyness hanging over me is hormones. Nothing more. Just stupid crazy, old woman hormones. Because I love my husband. Twenty-five years married and we’re still happy. I think. We’ve not turned completely inward with neglect.  Sure, life is not as exciting or carefree or passionate, but that’s normal – right? We don’t live on the same heightened spectrum of emotions; we’re not teenagers anymore. But then, David and I never were teenagers together – that was us – you and me.  In fact, David was already thirty when I met him; bruised and broken-hearted still from you. We used to spend hours in my bedroom, just kissing. We had nothing else to do. We had time to waste.  I’ve never had better. I wonder if we’d still be as good. We were each other’s first in… everything. It’s no wonder I still feel something for you. We were great together.

I’ve been telling myself to go to the Doctor, but what would I say? That I met an old boyfriend and now I think the last twenty-five years have been… what? A mistake? That I feel as though I’ve been sleep-walking, living only on the perimeter of happiness – not the full blown thing, the way it was with you. I’d be given some pills, for sure. But what would that solve? No. I’ve been trying to be an optimist about this. I’ve been trying to work out what I know. After all, on the eve of fifty I should know – something, right? So why do I feel as though I know nothing at all?

I’ve been telling myself that it’s being nineteen, I miss. Not you. It was a puppy love compared to the love required to sustain twenty-five years of marriage and parenthood. I wouldn’t swap David for you. He loves me and I love him. At least, that’s what I tell myself.