Recently my friend Ashley queried the lack of news on my blog and I have to agree that I’ve been a bit sparse with details about my life here in Rockville, MD. Truth is, it has taken me the two months that I’ve been here to settle into a routine which gives me the time and inclination to start writing again. At first, I was rather concerned that the writing well had run dry but soon realised that the telly was pretty much taking up all of my spare time. I mean, who wants to write when there are so many shows just waiting to be watched? But, after several Netflix marathons, the novelty is beginning to wear off and I’m not quite so glued to the tv anymore.
When it was decided that I should spend five months here helping out, I was naturally anxious about how that was going to work. After all, I hadn’t so much as held a baby in some 26 years and even when I had babies, I certainly didn’t know what I was doing. I relied on my mother who, with hindsight, was probably winging it just like me. These days the information available to parents is mind-blowing so at least I’m not expected to supply any answers to questions relating to the baby’s health, development or care, the app takes care of that! Where I do come in handy (I hope) is looking after Isla when both parents are busy or exhausted and also lending a hand with cooking and cleaning.
One aspect of life here that takes some getting used to, other than having a 2-month old baby in the house, is just how short the days are, with sunrise at 7:20 and sunset at 16:45. Usually I wake up just before sunrise, fetch a tray of tea and some bikkies, and go back to bed to write for a while. If I have the time and inclination, I may do some chi kung, yoga and meditation before emerging to face the outside world. From mid-morning onwards I’m ready to report for duty. It seems that in no time at all it’s evening and time for supper. After eating, we’ve got into the habit of watching a couple of episodes of a tv series together before heading off to bed. One of life’s greatest enjoyments for me is being able to lie in bed reading until midnight. At home I tend to fall asleep as soon as I pick up a book but here, I have to force myself to turn the light out in order to get the requisite 7 hours sleep.
Kiera and James have created a really lovely, secluded guest suite in the basement which I’ve settled into without any problems. What has surprised me is that although I’m a creature of habit, I don’t really miss any of my stuff and I’m rather pleased that I’ve been able to adapt to this temporary new way of life so easily. Mind you, Kiera and James have made sure that I’ve wanted for nothing. Whenever I travel, I don’t think too much about home, preferring to focus on the here and now. So I don’t get homesick and I’m not very good about maintaining contact, working on the basis that “no news is good news”.
Before I left SA another friend of mine cautioned me about how physically tiring it is looking after a baby. It’s a lot of time spent lifting and carrying and she advised me to do some preparatory arm exercises. Good heavens, she was not wrong – I’m using muscles I never knew I had! However, every minute spent with Isla is an absolute joy and each morning I look forward with eager anticipation to seeing her and feeling her little body snuggled up in my arms. My time spent with her is precious and I don’t take any of it for granted (I’m all too aware that in 3 months’ time, I shall have to say goodbye and return home).
When Alex came to the end of his “little boy” years and stopped holding my hand when we crossed the road, I remember thinking that this is what I would miss most -the feel of those pudgy little hands in mine and the faith that he had in me to protect him. With Isla, I’m going to miss her warm breath on my cheek when she’s fast asleep in my arms and the sense that nothing else in the world matters at that moment.