I’ve wanted to update my About Me page for AGES. Or four years. Because somehow, I’m now 36. Even stranger, my fiance has been my husband for nearly four years. And the tiny human we made is now very tall and seventeen, nearly three years old. They are awesome people and I’m glad we get to do life together.
However. That’s not really About Me, is it? But it’s been what I’ve been all about for awhile. I no longer think in sentences, but Isla-isms and cartoon theme songs. It’s a good day if Isla has a good day. It’s a good night if I sleep.
We’ve moved to Skye from Edinburgh, into a house that’s needed more work than we originally thought.
I love our quirky house, but I’d love it more if we could plant it somewhere with neighbors. And a bookstore. And a Starbucks. And my friends.
I’ve become accustomed to missing people. Most of my friends are everywhere I am not. Because I’ve moved a lot. Before I met Neil, moving and starting over just seemed to be something I did. I was good at it. Until realised I didn’t want to do it anymore.
My first move was from Dallas to New York, I was a baby, but it counted. I lived on both ends of Long Island, flitting between Mom’s house and Dad’s house and both sets of grandparents.
My Dad moved to Scotland when I was 12ish, and I started going back and forthish. I was just a girl, landed at an airport asking the people of the country beyond its doors to love her. I loved both. I love both. I’m from both. I’m from neither.
I never kind of embraced my third-cultureishness, but there it is.
You tend to think about this stuff when you turn 36. And you have conversations with your too-nearly-three year-old that go like this:
Isla: Daddy’s from Embra. So, where are you from, Mummy?
Me: How long have you got? Let’s just say Canada.
As I write this, I’m at my kitchen table in my kitchen on Skye, drinking coffee and eating cheese on toast. The snow from two days ago has melted and I’m listening to country music. Figure that out.
Neil is working from home as he does up here and Isla’s at school because she’s too smart, already. We have New York magnets on the fridge. Next to our penguin-in-a-kilt magnet. I’m surrounded by books and those envelopes with bubble-wrap lining. I use them to send stuff to my friends, where ever they are.
I sometimes wonder if my confusing cultural clutter, even with it’s frequent-flyer positives, is well, confusing for Isla. But then we have conversations like this:
‘Where are you from, Isla-Monkey?’
She avoids the question entirely. I told you she was smart.
And so, after painting all the pictures and doing all the puzzles, Isla and I went out.
We’ve paved around the house so we can have races and stuff, so there’s that. But we live on a hill.
‘Go over the stones and roll down the hill with me, Mummy.’
‘I can’t, baby. I wouldn’t get back up.’
‘Please, Mummy. Just try.’
Which is what we ask her to do.
So, I tried.
And my heart broke a little. Because Isla said, ‘That’s awight, Mummy. I’ll play on my own.’ And she did. And I angled away for a bit so she wouldn’t see me cry. Because she’s seen it before. Not a lot. And yet.
You can be the biggest advocate, with the filthiest sense of humour. You can shout for a living and then come home and just live.
But sometimes, CP hurts.
When strangers think Isla is my much younger sister, and she wants me to run down hills and get on the other end of a see-saw. That’s when it hurts.
Then you come in and you burst. But then you go on. Because there are trains to play with. And a nearly three year-old face to memorise.
If we were having coffee, we’d be hiding in the kitchen while Isla counts the balls in her ball pit and Neil plays the shit out of Isla’s toy guitar.
You’d be convincing me that I can write a mystery on a wharf including a dog collar for NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction Challenge. While I do feel better about this assignment than the Short Story Challenge, it would seem that the only story elements I can work with these days are:
Isla just wandered into the kitchen, opened the fridge and took out a yogurt. She grows a year older every night. Today, she is a teenager shuffling around the house and raiding the kitchen.
Pass me the tissues.
So, the TV is on in the backgroud. Neil has traded the guitar for turning on the washing machine.
Yes, I know I’m lucky. I’m lucky my husband does things around the house, I’m lucky my child does her own thing, even if that thing changes every five minutes. And the things don’t stop until she zonks out at 8.30pm.
I’m lucky we live in the country. With the peace and quiet. And the sheep.
I’m lucky to have people come into my house every day to help me wrangle my very active child. I’m lucky she goes for walks and brings me back flowers. I’m really lucky if she gives me a kiss with those flowers.
I live for those kisses.
But I’m lucky Isla isn’t clingy. I’m lucky she likes people who aren’t me. I’m lucky I’m the one who cries when she leaves the house. I’m lucky I’m the one who needs hugs. I’m lucky she likes to read. To herself.
I’m lucky we have all these friends to visit in other places. I’m lucky shopping and coffee and looking at those friends has become a treat. Because y’know, seeing your friends all the time can be really fucking boring.
I’m lucky that Neil is taking Isla out for awhile, so ‘Mummy can write.’
Before they left, Isla brought me some paper. Apparently, she’ll kiss me if there’s words on it when they get back.