For Elf’s Sake!

IMG_3931This is the first time we’ve invited an ‘Elf On A Shelf’ into our home. I say ‘we’ but  TBH it came via my husband and if he hadn’t done the ordering  it would never have been invited in by me. Yeah, yeah ba-humbug. Whatever. But it’s the truth. I thought it was just ANOTHER thing to be added to the endless list of wifely / mother duties that seems to increase tenfold at this time of year. Anyway, like I said, he arrived – invited by the husband, who has of course handed over all responsibility to me!

FullSizeRenderSo, two days ago I threw myself into it with gusto (yesterday morning ‘Efie’ even had a dusting of snow- must have been a cold night in the north Pole.) Anyhow, I have to admit three days in its working a treat and the letter from Santa even seems to have tipped a sceptical 9yr old over into ‘believing’ for one more year and obviously the 4yr old is lapping it up and yes it is lovely blah, blah, blah. But it’s still another thing to do – at night, when I have everything else in the world to do too. But hey, who needs sleep anyway?

Admittedly, Elfie has got me thinking. What if he really could observe everything that went on in here? What kind of things would he see? And I’m talking about adult behaviour, not just the children! What would an ‘elf eye view’ of our family look like? I for one, am cringing just thinking about it. I’m not sure anyone in the house would be deserving of gifts this year- accept for the husband and that’s cause he’s never here!

Timely enough, homework this week is about observation. The tiny details that pass us over everyday, unnoticed. The small things that make us human, that connect us, that help make our stories sing. So here’s what I’ve observed so far this week. In no particular order:

  • The dirtiest dirt is always under my radiators.
  • Every night there are wondrous stars in the sky, but I rarely take the time to look at them.
  • There are countless shades of gold that make up the blonde of my son’s hair.
  • The tiniest hole in a single tooth can cause the biggest pain.
  • How people move in the rain; all bent over and out of shape.
  • My husband answers the phone EXACTLY the same as his father; a short, rapid hello with a heavy ‘h’ that nosedives towards an abrupt ‘o’. A genetic quirk invisibly passed on.
  • The noise of a swallow.
  • If I stand still and tip my head back to look at the passing clouds I can feel the earth move.
  • The sound of a sleepy breath.
  • A thought can be seen.
  • A thought can be felt.
  • The slick shine on a pavement after rain.
  • The different shades of his eyes. Only seen when the light is just right, one iris much paler than the other; a chestnut beside a coffee bean.
  • The dead quiet of a winter morning.
  • The hushed and humble magic of ‘An Elf On A Shelf’.
  • The muck and dirt of winter, the wet of everything. The dog needs a daily bath, he does not get one and so my house is dirty – especially under the radiators!

You don’t have to be a wannabe writer to observe the tiny details. Take 5mins a day to just look at what’s around you. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.

Now, wishing you all a good-night cause I’ve got washing to sort and then an elf to move!




Meerkats and Girl Crushes.

So, I was horrendously nervous and just about got the words out, but I did manage to read my homework to my writing group. And guess what? No one died, no one fell on the floor laughing, no one said, “… and you’ve spent how many years doing this?” Instead, I got some valuable feedback with a large dollop of support and encouragement. This is surely the best thing about being part of a group, part of a community and makes all the fear worthwhile. And the guy below is my homework for this week. (You can read a short extract from my current book using his characteristics at the end of this post.) What characteristics would you give him? IMG_3709

I’m on a roll, and together with my new real-life writing group, I think I’ve discovered my online ‘home’. Selfish Mothers is a group of amazing women saying it how it is. I’ve only just dipped my toe in, but already I’ve got a serious girl crush on most of them! They are all so cool: I want them as my BFF’s now!  I know I’ve found the women to buttress me and guide me through my blogging endeavours and beyond. And the one thing that unites us? We are all trying our best, in different ways, to be the greatest mothers we can be, while keeping our own sh**t together too.

Now here’s that meerkat extract. I hope you enjoy.

Dearest Beth, do you remember our blinking competitions? You could beat the whole family at it. Our eyes would sting and water with the effort of keeping them open, while you would sit impermeable looking into some unseen middle distance. It was like stone had replaced your flesh. You’ve always been the serious one. You’ve never seemed to enjoy the lighter side of life. I’ve always found that strange; you were created out of so much love and joy. Those formative years were such happy ones for us as a family. Is it because I left you? Is it because you sensed the risk involved, even though, in those days it was very small? Maybe. Maybe, I should have stayed at home with you… I guess we’ll never know. As a baby you rarely cried and made very little sound. When you did begin to speak, at around three years old, you were polite and economical with your words, only speaking when spoken to and little else. Of course, I’ve worried all these years that I somehow passed on my burden of secrecy to you, but that surely was impossible – wasn’t it? But when you were younger, and even sometimes now, you’ve a way of looking at me that makes me feel as though you’re looking through me, reading the truth of me, clearly telling the colour of the lies I’ve told. You’ve always seen me with such… accusing eyes; direct as an arrow through my heart. The sharpness of you has cut me often. Why have you always stood apart from the rest of us? Alert and ready to run, instead of enjoying the safety and comfort that comes with a family herd. What sixth sense has made you so untrusting that you’ve gone through life sensing danger, when often, there was only the safety of those that loved you.                                         

When you were little you developed a knack for entering a room silently. I could be reading, making the dinner or performing some other domestic task blissfully unaware of your presence until you’d speak. It never failed to startle me. I would never know how long you’d been standing there observing, or what invisible thought process you might have witnessed… I had a terrible habit of talking to myself, of verbalizing conversations before I had them. It’s always concerned me what whispered secrets you might have heard. You never mentioned them if you did, but then you wouldn’t, would you? In my mind’s eye I can see your four-year old self, standing with your eyes half-shut singing, ‘I can still see you. Look Mummy, I can still see you even with my eyes closed!’ And I’ve always felt that you could ‘see me’ in a way that the others could not. If that’s the case, maybe this book will not hold any revelations for you, but simply be an affirmation of what you’ve already suspected.