Sweet faced daffodils and perfect pink tulips from the garden / Brown rice + soy milk + a sprinkling of yum for breakfast. And a cup of tea. / Every day dance parties / Carrot cake on pretty plates + newspaper wrapping and handmade cards. Because it’s the thought that counts. Because what’s important is showing someone you love them, as best you can. / Almonds + seeds + cranberries. In cakes. For snacks by the handful. On brown rice for breakfast. / More of my Mothers casual wisdom, handwritten by me 1 + 2 / This little love will be 3 so soon. Time’s flown.
Theo: So, have you been hearing the quiet farts from my bottom?
Mabel: I had a dream I was a pony! And you were a cowgirl, Mama! And you were riding me!
Theo: And I had a dream I was a light!
Alice: A light, darling? That’s interesting! What kind of light?
Theo: A light…switch!
Running away from home to stroll streets in Dunedin for a weekend / Little helper hands mixing carrot cake / Theo at the kitchen window / Stealing 5 minutes peace in the afternoon sun. Can we all just agree to add an extra day to the week dedicated solely to reading? / Tulips blooming in the garden / Cardigan dying 1 + 2 – cross your fingers for me / Lavender for borders and bees / And wonderful news! Dear friends are engaged. So begins a series of parties to celebrate, each more elaborate than the last.
Theo: Mama, why don’t fish have noses?
You wanted to make a sandwich, like your brother now can.
It might seem odd, to row about a sandwich. But anyone who has ever cohabited with anyone will be sure and tell you, when pressed, or barely pressed at all, of the suffering they endured at the hand of a person they shared their house with.
You got the bread out of the bag and selected your slices. You would only be contented with tomato sauce as sandwich filling, which I am sure I should feel more shame than I do about telling the internet. I, personally, am not one to judge a person on their sandwich preferences. That’s very personal. But, you know how people can be. It was on white bread too. Which we only ever have in emergencies. Like, when I simply cannot face the supermarket and we have run out and I have to buy a loaf from the dairy. So, a lot.
We have this kind of high-powered tomato sauce, you know? One of the ones with the lid at the bottom? And it’s fairly full. So you’re standing there, using a dining chair for your table, bread laid out just squeezing the ever-loving crap out of this bottle of tomato sauce, which is, in turn, shooting over, not only the bread, but the chair and the wall, because this is real life, and that’s what happens. And I am trying to let you do your thing; it’s only mess, there’s worse things already dried on that wall, I’m sure. Saying supportive things like, ‘That’s wonderful, darling! You’re doing such a good job of getting the sauce out of that bottle! Do you know who Jackson Pollock is?’ When you begin to weep.
I ask you what’s wrong, only as taken aback by this sudden turn of emotional events as anybody who has spent time with a toddler would be, as these big, perfect Man Ray tears are rolling on down your little apple cheeks.
‘IT DOSEN’T LOOK LIKE MY NAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMEEEEEE!’, you tell me. In between sobs.
And I remember all to well, that feeling.
The abrupt realisation that things were not turning out as you imagined.
I help as best I can. Offer solutions, many and varied, all of which you reject. Because sometimes there is no helping things. Some times all you will want is for your tomato sauce sandwich to read your name, though you can’t spell it, and that’s just how things are. There’s nothing else for it. And I get that, darling. I hear how frustrating things can be. How trying. But feeling those feelings is part of this whole thing we’re doing. Connecting and growing.
Because, one day, you’ll sign your name to all sorts of things. Things you’ll make. Futures you’ll envision. And some of them might be challenging. And some of them might yield more happiness than you could have ever imagined they would, when you dared to dream of them. You have to begin somewhere.
This isn’t what the row was about, obviously. The row was when I went to put the top on your sandwich, and you lost your tiny mind, yelling at me that I had done it wrong.
‘THAT’S NOT THE LID, MAMA!’
‘THAT IS THE PLATE I MADE FOR MY BREAD! I MADE IT FROM MORE BREAD!’
Which? Totally genius. And so you.
Though you ended up covered in sauce and asked that I kiss your cheeks to clean them.
Which? Totally adorable. And so you.
And then your brother poured you both a glass of milk and asked you if we were having a celebration. And you told him you had some paperwork to do.
And I stood there a moment, in this green kitchen we spend so much time in, and I thought about writing this down for you. Because one day, maybe, you’ll be here, or there, and this kitchen will no longer be the centre of our universe, and you’ll be having bigger and better arguments over the same feelings. So here is some relativism for you.
It so often starts with a sandwich.
I love you,
Say hello to this dapper little fellow. He was terribly fun to make. He likes crosswords and Russian literature and Chet Baker. He’s embroidered and appliqued on vintage bed sheets. He has a reoccurring dream where he’s in an old wooden house, overlooking the ocean.
Original Illustration by Julia Croucher.