Picnic at the Old Kirk
I’m halfway through EM Delafield’s Diary of a Provincial Lady and absolutely addicted. Almost 80 years old and yet structurally and topically modern (besides the bits about the difficulty engaging good help). It could be a blog in printed form, recording the minutiae of everyday life with self-deprecating humour, wit, and a large dose of navel-gazing.
While lightly fictionalised, Provincial Lady is based heavily on the author’s own life, and in the introduction, Nicola Beauman (of Persephone Books fame) comments on the portrayal of the husband “Robert”:
… the Provincial Lady’s marriage is depressingly unharmonious. There can be only one explanation – that E.M. Delafield was so wary of putting any of her husband’s characteristics into her weekly columns that she chose to turn Robert into someone unbelievable, so aloof and uninterested that no one could imagine for a moment that he had any resemblance to reality.
How much to reveal about our spouses is a choice all of us who keep a personal weblog make, perhaps unconsciously. Looking through my lists of regular blog reads suggests the majority follow in EM Delafield’s footsteps – it’s easy to feel we get to know the author, but their spouse remains a stranger.
Nicola Beauman doesn’t comment on the fact that the children are portrayed in a similar reserved fashion, only as foils for their mother’s comments on motherhood. Where are the side-splittingly funny anecdotes all children produce? Answer? Same place as on this site – they’re not there. I write with the constant thought in the back of my head “will this upset the boys in ten years?” and as a result leave out so many of their finer moments. Remind me to email you the story of Duncan’s very loud conversation in the cafe with Elspeth and Tim, or some of the shenanigans he and his friends get up to that reduces their mothers to tears of laughter… But they wont be found here.
Nicola Beauman wrote her introduction in 1984, long before the internet and popularity of blogs gave all of us the choice and opportunity to share our lives in a public space. Viewed from 2009, the portrayal of Robert makes perfect sense to me.
I have two weeks and two days left of maternity leave. I am so thankful that I was able to take off 11 months this time; that Fraser was able to grow into a (practical) toddler before I put him in nursery, that breastfeeding could decrease according to Fraser’s needs (half as often as at six months, no stress at all about not feeding him during nursery hours), and that I could have these wonderful adventures with my two boys. I’m no longer floundering on a daily basis and I actually cook family meals. I so appreciate these extra months and am at the point where I’m starting to think that maybe it’s time to go back to work. But if you could spend all day with these two characters, wouldn’t you?
Last Wednesday was our last trip to the local mobile library van service and I almost burst into tears when I told him that I wouldn’t be back with the boys again. How ridiculous would it be to drive to visit the library van? On Thursdays at 2pm it’s in the community across the river and since I have to drive to the regular library anyways…
I have loved being a stay at home mum for the past months. It’s definitely one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had, but by far the most rewarding. If it wasn’t for the fear of not working in a job I love when they’re in school (being a traditional mum is okay, but I’d be a lousy housewife) I think we might be re-structuring our family further. Here’s hoping part time is the right balance for us…
(p.s. we got a lovely surprise preview of a treat for the boys when reading one of our favourite blogs; the other day. Ignore all the talk about the gifts being late because her wedding present from us is similarly delayed.)
Fraser’s not been sleeping well over here, maybe due to teething, maybe because he’s started taking a few steps and his brain’s on overload. Either way, we’re running in a fog at the moment.
The recent helicopter crash has left us feeling sick too. 16 men dead in the North Sea, another 17 dead off Newfoundland a few weeks back. It could be us, and my heart breaks for those families, so similar to ours. It was mentioned in church and I started to cry. This industry, this salary that pays our mortgage and lets us live in a decent neighbourhood – all of a sudden it doesn’t feel as safe as we thought. Cory loves his job, we love our lives, and I’m happy morally that he doesn’t send others offshore to do his technical work (outsourcing offshore work doesn’t sound like a good thing from a human safety perspective). In the past few weeks though we’ve talked about Cory switching jobs, although we’d have to move cities to afford decent housing, but so many families don’t even have that option. I’m praying that the investigations will come up with some real results that allow the industry to improve the safety of helicopter travel. Meanwhile we both have a little knot of worry with us that we talk about at bedtime.
Risk is a complex concept to handle. I don’t worry about Cory’s cycling, although statistically it’s probably the same risk as offshore travel. But cycling is Cory’s passion and to take that away would diminish his life considerably. So that risk is okay, and I love that Cory cycles and I’m looking forward to getting out myself as the boys get older. But all of a sudden there’s another risk in our lives and we’re still sorting out how we feel about that.
Comments off on this post – it hits a bit close to home for a conversation.
My maternity leave ends in the next few weeks and I can honestly say that I feel like the last month has been one of the best of my life. A large part of that is because of how wonderful you’ve been this month (the other part is mostly due to your equally great brother); standing, exploring, squealing with glee, sleeping for long stretches, playing, drumming, and cuddling. Last month I was feeling like things were happening all too fast, but in the past weeks I’ve just been enjoying how wonderful you are at the moment.
Of course we’re still tired and not every night is as good as last night (only up once! At 5am!). But in general things are more in control than they have been before now. That makes going back to work hard, because life is so fun at the moment (and the weather is improving). But it also makes going back to work possible, hopefully without the complete exhaustion we suffered from when I went back to work after your brother was born (when he was 6 months).
You’ve had a momentous month too – you’re now standing extremely well for long periods and playing with toys in entirely new ways. You copy Duncan, pushing trucks around the house, but you also play on your own, especially drumming on the drum amazingly well. You continue to blow me away with your exploration of the world and how much we’re enjoying it and you.
Enjoying Nana’s birthday cake.
This past week has been extra special as we’ve had Nana and Papa here visiting us. As well as showing them our new house and area, you’ve been showing off too. You and Papa have a special bond, meaning that you’ve somehow managed to wrap him around your little finger. No one else can make him hop up and down like a bunny or walk around the house holding your hand for hours. Cheeky monkey! Of course Nana’s besotted too – but getting her to hop up and down is less of a challenge. It’s been a very special week and it means so much to me to see you with my parents and watch you all smile together. Happy 10 months Fraser, and Happy Birthday Nana.