December always feels like the longest month of the year. And we do cram a lot into it, I suppose. But the world won’t end on December 25, people. Just calm down. Sheesh.
I just went for a 4.5 km walk to do some letterbox dropping for my massage business, and saw a gazillion rabbits and even though I know they eat peoples’ gardens and whatnot, they are so darn cute, gambolling in the fields and hopping about. Bucolic splendour!
Also I went down one cul de sac and saw a house for sale. Someone buy it so we can stare at this incredible view of the Tamar Valley all day. I mean, look at it. For a cool million all that could be yours…or you could just come to my place and go for a walk and see it.
(I had a quick look to see what the equivalent would buy you in Sydney and it makes me really sad that you would get a 1 bedroom apartment with a view of the building opposite. That is just rubbish and unfair and awful.)
So far in December, I’ve been working pretty steadily, which has been great, but also trying to juggle that with a week-long visit from some dear friends who I hadn’t seen for ages. I really wanted to just hang out with the Baddelim and go to Port Arthur with them and play board games for hours. But in the end I had to do more work than I’d anticipated (often at night once everyone had gone to bed), the adult Baddelim got sick, and I was far too tired to take in most board game rules.
But we managed a trip to the Gorge to have a picnic with peacocks, we made a veritable battlefield of little characters out of polymer clay, we cut down and decorated a Christmas tree, we cooked together and we watched The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with my data projector (which the boys hadn’t seen before). The triumph was that they taught me how to play Settlers of Catan (travel edition!) and I enjoyed it (they had tried once before and it did not take – I may have been able to absorb the rules better because Mark banished the boys outside until he had explained the rules to me thoroughly so that I wasn’t sidetracked by their helpful strategy tips). We also played a few other games, including the storytelling game Once Upon a Time, which was brilliant, and I have to buy it so we can play it semi regularly on Skype.
Oh it was so good to see these kindred spirits again though! This isn’t a new thought, obviously, because J and S have been in the world for a number of years now, but relationships inevitably change once people you knew pre-children have children. Especially when you’re still single and don’t have kids of your own, so you can’t just bundle all the kids off to play together and leave the adults to chat. And you, as the single person, can’t help but feel like a bit of an adjunct to the family because, well, you are, when you’re in the family’s orbit. There is less disposable time. The focus tightens on the needs of the youngest members of the party. Everyone is exhausted. But what is lovely is when you develop a relationship with those children too, and the richness of the adult relationships just changes texture a bit. It’s even better when the kids are old enough to have interesting conversations with and play board games with and still be a bit silly with, but know that they’re probably going to remember who you are next time you see them (unlike when they’re little and might just blink at you from behind their mother’s legs while she says, “don’t be silly, you remember Bec!”).
I hope all that didn’t sound like a whinge. I didn’t mean it to. Just trying to articulate the weird bittersweet tension of being a single woman of a certain age, without children. Many joys. Some heartache. Many opportunities to be part of many families. It’s lovely and weird and sad and happy all at once.
One of the jobs I’ve been doing is helping to write a history book for a Christian organisation, about a woman who left a generous bequest in the 20s and the impact its had over the years. In the parlance of the time, Margaret was a wealthy spinster. I have refused to use the word in my text, well partly because it isn’t really in use anymore except pejoratively (though was it ever not pejorative?), but because it diminishes her. If I was alive a hundred years ago I would have been called a spinster too, but I don’t feel like a dried up old lady (which is kind of what the word implies). I don’t suppose Margaret felt like a spinster either. But sadly there is very little known about her life, apart from the fact that she made this generous bequest, and I find that so sad. There is nothing written about her anywhere that we can find before the age of about 52. That’s half a century! She must have done and experienced and thought many things, and the question of who she was just sits over my work. Unfortunately it’s not a question I can answer. But I will not call her a spinster.
Isn’t it weird where stream of consciousness posts go?