All posts filed under: motherhood

The Baby in the Mirror by Charles Fernyhough | edge of evening

The Baby in the Mirror

She wove language from the plainest of threads. Before she could talk, she could spin lengths of undifferentiated sound, just by voicing an outbreath and letting the noise push out on a flow of exhaled air. By eight weeks she could shape her mouth to make a contented ur-ur, expressing satisfaction at the way the world looked and the fact that she was at the centre of it. Her growing awareness of reality meant multiplying objects of desire, new ways for her material ambitions to be thwarted.The Baby in the Mirror by Charles Fernyhough It’s strange, but I’ve read so much about motherhood that it’s easy to overlook how very little I’ve read about fatherhood. Nicolson Baker’s wonderful Room Temperature. Peter Carey’s essay A Letter to Our Son. I think of Gilead but although that is a wonderful book of fatherly love, it is, of course, written by a mother not a father. It doesn’t amount to much. So it was wonderful to read The Baby in the Mirror, a tender and searching account of the first three years of life from a …

Geranium | edge of evening

Headlong

Last night the knife slipped when I was making dinner. When I uncurled my right hand from the middle finger of my left, ready to see the fresh red of my blood, there was nothing. Looking closer at a finger that throbbed numbly but wasn’t bleeding, I saw that I had sliced right through my fingernail. A thin line of red appeared: a backslash on the nail bed. I called B to come and finish chopping the onion. This morning I’ve come out to the coffee shop to be looked after by the beautiful young people. Girls with glossy long hair and impossibly thin waists. Boys with plaid shirts and black skinny jeans. They bring my coffee to me and I sit and watch them work and read Kate Zambreno. The place is full of newborns. I feel like I’ve been crying all night — though in reality the tears are constantly at the back of my eyes, prickling, threatening to fall. “What has been omitted?” asks Zambreno. “What has been scratched out? Days, lives, wives.” She is writing …

3, 6, 9

3, 6, 9

Although everything I write is, in its way, about them, I don’t write that much about them here. Partly this is because I thought I’d only just given you an update about them, but it seems two years have passed since this. So, here we go. There was the annual beautiful chaos of T’s birthday party a few weeks ago. Thirteen girls this year, plus the two brothers. Craft inside — ceramic pens on birds, hearts & mugs — then pizza at the table at the bottom of the garden. Spontaneous French skipping, then pass-the-parcel and the crazy ‘chocolate game’. T threw her arms around each of her friends as they arrived at the front door and her delight, as always, reminded me of her sitting on the step waiting for the first guest to arrive at her second birthday party & her total joy when the doorbell went. She looked ridiculously beautiful in her own inimitable style — wearing one of her dresses from our wedding last year over three-quarter length leggings, her long hair clipped …

Love by Clarice Lispector | edge of evening

Short stories: ‘Love’ by Clarice Lispector

A series of posts highlighting the very best of my short story reading. 3. ‘Love’ (‘Armor’) by Clarice Lispector translated by Katrina Dodson, from Clarice Lispector, Complete Stories published by Penguin Modern Classics. I’ve tried reading Clarice Lispector before, but I’ve never managed to relax into the beautiful strangeness of her sentences. Then, yesterday, I read her short story ‘Love’ translated by Katrina Dodson & I fell completely under her hypnotic spell. “Ana’s children were good, something true and succulent.” What a perfect and delicious sentence. ‘Love’ is, on the surface, a simple story: Ana, a housewife riding the tram home with her string bag of groceries, sees a blind man chewing gum, and this encounter somehow throws her into a crisis — The knit mesh [of her bag] was rough between her fingers, not intimate as when she had knit it. The mesh had lost its meaning and being on a tram was a snapped thread; she didn’t know what to do with the groceries on her lap. And like a strange song, the world started up …

Her Thirty-Seventh Year by Suzanne Scanlon | edge of evening

Her 37th Year: An Index

HAMLET (see also: Baby, The), We watch three film versions of Hamlet. I cry even when it is Bill Murray playing Polonius. I imagine my baby as Laertes. “Do you know how it is when someone dies? Birth is like that, too, just in reverse,” I say. Just before you announce the impending awkwardness, I ask aloud, “How could I have created something, someone, whom I will someday lose?” I think, How could life mean anything more, ever, ever again? . JOY (see also: Mother, Question, and Skunks), as experienced when in a dark room I lie next to Magoo and his cousin. Every so often, just when I think they might be asleep, a high voice with a serious question: “Are there skunks in Pittsburgh?” or “Do old-fashioned cars go faster than convertibles?” Four-year old musing & inquiry; for a moment I wish that Magoo would be four years old forever, that I might spend a life in this room with two four year old boys. There are times it feels like Heaven to …

In Certain Circles by Elizabeth Harrower | edge of evening

In Certain Circles

Whether the expressions so recently shown on her face belonged to the luminous quality of her eyes, or to the shape of her mouth, or to her nature, neither Zoe nor her mother yet knew: she was only seventeen. Zoe had awakened in this square stone house on the north side of Sydney Harbour, and learned soon afterwards from her family and their friends that she was remarkable. There was a big garden. There were people of her own size for company. At the end of the short street of old houses in long-established gardens was a white curved beach with rocks, rock pools, very small waves, shells, pebbles, fine sand. She swam before she walked. In Certain Circles by Elizabeth Harrower Sometimes you read a book which contains answers to questions that you haven’t yet fully articulated. I’ve just been sitting on a bench in the garden, beneath the magnolia, with a riotous racket of birdsong going on all around me. I went out there to leaf through In Certain Circles, to remember why I loved it so. …

Apricot blossom | edge of evening

Full & empty

The days at the moment are both full & empty. Full of things that I want to explore intellectually; empty of definite appointments, except those imposed by the after-school carousel of swimming lessons and football practices and ballet classes. Full of time with the Pip-Pop — walking hand-in-hand to feed the ducks, watching him try to master the balance bike that his big brother used to whiz around on, helping him to hold a pen, watching as he tries to write words with magnetic letters on the fridge; empty of constraint, since most days we are free to do whatever we want to (between 9 & 3, which is obviously a large constraint of its own — and together, also a constraint worth mentioning). It’s good to be back in the rhythm of school this week, but it’s also terrifying to realise that the only thing that normally makes me feel ‘busy’ is the scaffold of the school day. Last week — of course a week of rain — with all three was lovely in …

Anna Karenina | edge of evening

Anna Karenina

Though it was a chore to look after all the children and stop their pranks, thought it was hard to remember and not mix up all those stockings, drawers, shoes from different feet, and to untie, unbutton and retie so many tapes and buttons, Darya Alexandrovna, who had always loved bathing herself, and considered it good for the children, enjoyed nothing so much as this bathing with them all. To touch all those plump little legs, pulling stockings on them, to take in her arms and dip those naked little bodies and hear joyful or frightened shrieks; to see the breathless faces of those splashing little cherubs, with their wide, frightened and merry eyes, was a great pleasure. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy translated by Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky And it’s proving a great pleasure, too, to read Anna Karenina. I hadn’t tried it for years and years, but this time something has stuck, and after never making it past the first book before, I’m now over halfway and hoping that it never ends. It’s not Anna …

Mog's Christmas Calamity by Judith Kerr | edge of evening

We love: Christmas 2015

It’s that time of the year when life starts clipping along at an alarming rate. We enjoyed the Pip-Pop’s ‘big 3’ weekend & have now reached a hitherto unknown shore in our parenting lives: for the first time, our three-year-old is also our youngest. We’re beyond nappies and now, after the grand dismantling that took place on Sunday, beyond cots too. So, birthday over, it’s now all about Christmas. And I mean all about Christmas. The school Christmas Fair (the one I once took a two-day-old baby to!) is tomorrow. One child is singing at the Christmas market by the Cathedral this lunchtime. Another is practising his songs at pre-school for a slot at a nearby village church’s Christmas Fair next week. The school Christmas plays are next week. An innkeeper’s costume has been sourced from the lovely lady at the charity shop who spends all year turning old curtains into bespoke nativity costumes. The child who auditioned for a ‘big’ part and came home in tears because she’s Donkey number 3 has been consoled and is ready to make donkey ears over …

Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman | edge of evening

Binocular Vision

Iread Susan Dominus’s Motherhood, Screened Off last week as I guess a lot of you did too, coming to it, yes, through a link on Twitter while I was in the kitchen ostensibly preparing tea. I loved her evocation of her mother’s address book, which made me think of my own mother’s address book and telephone book — and the earlier telephone book, spiral bound, whose white plastic binding eventually disintegrated with age and use. But the guilt I felt reading Dominus’s argument that our smartphones make our actions — checking the weather, looking up a friend’s address — mysterious to our children, was all focussed on the book she was reading on her phone at her sons’ soccer practice when another mother called them both out on staring into their devices: Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision.  Because Binocular Vision has been sitting on my shelf unread for a year or so. A charity shop find that I was so very pleased with because I’d read the reviews of this collection of Pearlman’s selected and new stories, …