This very day last year was my Blessingway for the arrival of our second baby. Around 15 of my closest friends piled in to our lounge and shared poems and paintings and prayers. We ate copious amounts of cake. They each threaded a bead onto some cotton to make a bracelet to wear in labour, so I could feel their strength supporting me. I lay on the sofa afterwards like a behemothic whale – my heart was feeling full up and I was ready.
My eldest, Ramona, snuggled against my enormous bump for some Mummy Milk and I remember thinking that it would be the last solo breastfeed she got. I was convinced that, with beautiful blessed poetic flourish, the baby would come that very evening. She didn’t. I was then convinced she would come the next evening. She didn’t.
For the next two weeks I woke up every morning feeling like I was failing an important exam. How had I not given birth already?! I began to think that I might be pregnant forever. That I would become the first woman in history who carried a baby in her womb for the rest of her life.
And then my waters broke. This great gushing mess made me gloriously happy!
Tim and I high fived and (eventually) Juno was welcomed into the world.
We set off a couple of months afterwards, and have been on the road since. Juno began to eat solids in France, grew her first tooth in Italy, started playing peekaboo in Croatia, learned to crawl in Spain, and is just about to nail walking in New Zealand. I sometimes wonder if such a nomadic first year will give Juno a wanderlust for her whole life. I like to think we are raising adventurers – but I also want our daughters to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. To not have to be skinny dipping in the coldest river up the wildest mountain in order to feel alive.
(In fact I must put a stop to skinny dipping sometime soon– appropriate swimming garb to be worn by daughters at all times throughout teenage years until menopause.)
Our days are more settled now than they have been since Juno’s birth. We are leaning into a weekly rhythm… I work in the morning while Tim bakes and frolics with the kids, then Tim will spend time on the farm learning the organic ropes while the kids and I go off on an foraging for chestnuts or climbing trees.
(Juno clambers over everything in sight. She could well get to the top of a pine before she walks from one side of our yurt to another.) We have rituals throughout the week, milking the cow and feeding the chickens each day. The half an hour before dinner prep is spent plucking the vegetables from dinner out of the garden.
Life has slowed down. We are not looking on the map for the next destination. We are here, for a while at least. We are not having our socks blown off by the exhilaration that travelling brings – but we are marveling at the miracles of finding tadpoles with legs and the changing colours of the autumnal leaves and warm fresh eggs in our palms.
On one of our hikes around the farm this week I was helping Ramona remember the names of her friends in London – the children of all my close friends who came to my Blessingway. As we talked about them she would retell memories she had – a broken arm here, a bouncy castle there, riding scooters together, visiting the museum.
She said she missed London and with those words I felt my own heart crack a little. I miss it too. I miss my friends like mad. Cups of tea with people who have known me since I was tiny, who know everything about me, and friends that can talk my ears off about stuff I love. Ramona won’t have too much of a gaping hole in her life for her London friends, I think. Her memory is jumbled up already, all the stories boshed together, the friends almost merging into one cool, intergender chum – just like in a dream.
I on the other hand….
I get out my Blessingway bracelet and think of them all.
Meanwhile, Juno has taken to climbing out of the yurt, down the steps. She crawls along the pathway, almost to the vegetable garden. I will find her there under a tree, tearing into a mandarin with her three massive gnashers, or holding a beetroot she has dug out from the earth.
Our little wanderer. She is one and she is one with nature.