Apparently my last post rang some alarm bells because a dear friend of mine emailed, from her holiday, to ask if I was okay. (Apparently people read my posts…in their leisure time….’cause they want to…YES!)
Dear friend, I am okay. Put simply – I am coming out the other side of some things. Minor things like seasons and moods, less minor things like completed manuscripts, big emotional stuff, babies growing into toddlers growing into kids etcetera etcetera etcetera. I think we’re all coming out the side of things, aren’t we? This thing or the other thing? Out of one tunnel into another? Hardly through at all but the end can be seen or imagined?
I know you know what I mean, even if I’m being weird and taking the tunnel metaphor way too far…ahem…
Tonight B1 was eating dinner when she mistook her thumb for a slice of apple. She bit down hard, sucked in a big mouthful of air and wailed.
“My thumb! Muuuuummmmmaaaaa! My thumb!”.
(I should, at this point, explain that B1’s thumb means a great deal to her. While B2 opted for a dummy / soother, B1 has been a thumb-sucker from the get-go. Other than her worn, stained, once-pink “bushee” (polar fleece blanket) her thumb is her primary source of comfort. So you imagine how upset she was not only to have chomped down on ol’ faithful and then, needing soothing, putting her trusty thumb back in her mouth only to discover – it hurt to suck! Oh, the humanity! This was not good. Not good at all.)
“Ow!” I lamented along with her “That hurts!”
The poor girl shot me a look that was both withering and shocked. Of course it hurts, she was clearly thinking, aren’t you supposed to make it better? Isn’t it in your job description?!
“It’s okay, darling,” I tried again, this time shushing and consoling, like a real pro. “It’ll feel better soon.”
B1 blinked at me. Those round eyes wet. Then she sobbed, voice ragged and indignant “But…soon is a really, really long time!”
Truly – out of the mouths of babes. Soon is a really, really long time. How very right she is.
When I am going through something soon feels a thousand miles away, a decade away, unreachable and unattainable and practically impossible. It hurts now. I hate it hurting now. I want it to be better now. Soon is simply not good enough. I can’t live in soon! Only now will do. Make it better now!
I am devouring a wonderful book at the moment full of great advice. It’s called “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life and Love by Dear Sugar” and it’s a compilation of letters and advice previously published on a literary website, The Rumpus. The queries range from the pondering to the painful. The advice in return cuts to the quick, nourishes, supports, prods and encourages. Reading the query and answer together feels like a being privy to a chat with a very wise friend or sister or work colleague. What should I do? How should I do it? How on earth do I get to soon? The worries will make you laugh and cry and wince. You can see yourself in them. You can see the people you care about in them. Sugar (author Cheryl Strayed in ‘real life’) is both kind and firm; like the Aunty we all needed growing up, like the best version of yourself, inside yourself, who says “I love you, honeybee, now let’s do this, you already know it to be right.” If you are coming out the other side of something, practically anything, I urge you to read this book. It’ll make you feel like it isn’t so bad, it’ll make you feel less lonely. It’ll shine a light on down that dark tunnel.
And back at our place, B1, sobbing in that gulpy kid way, in that soon is a really long time way, got out of her chair and crawled into my lap. Her legs are already getting a bit too long for that but we made it work. Then we invented a song I shall title, for these purposes, “Soon” and curled into one another, like snail + shell, with her grimy bushee. I kissed her hair. I dried her eyes. I tried to be sympathetic while secretly relishing her cuddling up to me. She’s getting big this little one. She’s going to need me to salve her hurts less and less.
B1’s sobs gave way to ragged breaths gave way to sniffs. As we got talking about something else she suddenly looked up to me and whispered, impressed: “Mumma, my thumb really doesn’t hurt anymore.”
Hard to believe, so longed for and, now here, almost gone unnoticed.
Soon had arrived. At last.