Thoughts on the train

I thought I should write just about the experience of going away for a couple of days as it’s the first night I’ve spent away from Dante.  I’m used to working long days of course but it was different being away for a night and I was relieved to find that I haven’t lost the ability to sleep through the night.  I was amazed to hear that Julie had been up to see to Granny three times in the night and I hadn’t heard a thing.  Dante was also easily settled by Joth in the night so we’re going to continue with Joth sleeping with him to get him out of the habit of feeding in the night.

The train journeys were also an unusual chance to be by myself without being able to do hundreds of things.  I had a terrible train journey on the way back as all the trains to Birmingham were cancelled – no reason, no alternatives suggested (Grrr!) so I had plenty of chance on my 4 different trains and various stations to think.  I couldn’t take a laptop as I need internet to do most things so I took the chance to sew an edge on Dante’s blanket and listen to Simon Callow’s monologue about Charles Dickens and an autobiography by Jeanette Winterson.  Both were excellent and I loved the chance to be lifted completely out of my own world.  I also found going through Birmingham and Liverpool quite a jolt so that was quite thought provoking.  I feel we are in a pocket in Totnes, and it confirms just how at home I feel here.   I feel a sense of community in Totnes even amongst people I don’t know.  It feels worth not dropping litter (not that I would anyway) and looking after the place and it’s people simply because it’s “ours,” – we own it in Totnes but does anyone feel like that about a city?  It’s hard to put it in to words but it has something to do with being a part of a manageable sized community where individuals can make a difference.  Once again I don’t feel that bigger is better but I know others do.  I’m glad however, that I did “do” cities once and hope that my children will.  A wide range of experiences matters.

And a wide range of reading matters too I think.  Listening to the MP3’s made me think about how much reading has added to my life.  I also feel that many of my most thought provoking friends have been avid readers.  Understanding people is crucial for connecting with them and for sustaining satisfying relationships and reading lets us get inside other people’s heads in a way nothing else can.  Lucas reads a lot but I really want to encourage Oscar to read more.  Spoken word CDs can be great for that too but he’s got stuck on 19 CDs worth of Lord of the Rings for the last few months and they seem to have to listen to them over and over because one of them seems to always forget where they are so it’s become endless!  I will have to build reading time in more carefully for Oscar I think.  One of the issues has been that they are starting to go to bed too late which means Joth and I don’t spend much time together by ourselves (and are feeling tetchy with each other as a result) and I don’t think Lucas is getting enough sleep or reading time.

As you can tell, my thinking spilled over in to home education.   I found myself thinking about how fast time is moving along.  When Oscar and Lucas were little I felt I grasped at each day, begrudging how quickly time was running through my fingers but I think I feel I’ve spun time out by having more little ones and having the older ones at home so I’ve felt less panicky about it but it still moves on whether I think about it or not and I was thinking that it’s only about 4 1/2 years until Oscar will be 18.  I was also thinking that the way they play together won’t last for ever either.  We’re at quite a lovely stage now with the trickiest part of babyhood behind us and it feels such fun these days.  I love it and want to make the most of every minute.

I found myself thinking more about community and caring for strangers when there was standing room only on one train.  We were crammed in for an hour without room even to sit in the aisles when a seat came up between me and the chap standing next to me.  We’d already joked about the cramped conditions and he offered me the seat.  I said he should have it as he had further to go but he insisted and so I sat.  I was feeling good about having tried to offer it to him but realised a bit later when someone else got up to go that there had been an old gentleman standing several people away.  I hadn’t thought to look around.

I sheepishly buried myself in the paper and read a quote from the Dalai Lama (a twitter actually!): “As you develop a more compassionate attitude, you feel less anxiety, while your determination and self-confidence increase.”  Now I really like that.  I haven’t thought about the benefits to oneself of being compassionate but it makes sense that a true self confidence would come from knowing you cared for others.  If you act out of compassion you can act with more certainty and confidence.

I need more practise in caring for others I think.  I almost look forward to the time when I can think more about people outside of my family.  Even my principles are in waiting I feel.  I used to want to save the world, or at least some of it, and I’ve compromised in so many ways.  I try to feel OK about it as making my life slightly easier and more manageable has meant I am a more relaxed mum.  For instance the choice to let go of restricting Lucas’s diet was a hard one but one that on balance feels right.  I felt it was affecting his view of how “friendly” the world was and his frustrations at not being able to eat most of the food he saw others eating were affecting him in more ways than just food.  That said I would like to claw back a bit more healthy eating with the children.  White bread seems to have crept in as a fairly usual item these days for instance.  I will never feel completely right about not being vegan though.  The dairy industry is inseparable from the meat industry and neither are sustainable anyway.    I wonder how I can know this and still carry on eating meat.

Time to myself felt very precious.  I’d like more of it but then I’d also like Joth to have more time to read, go out with friends, have time by himself etc and I’d like to give the boys some one on one time every now and then, I’d like Joth and I to go out by ourselves or do some workshops together for fun and connection and I’d like to do some exercise class or go for a swim or ….   Oh, unless we stop working or something we can’t possibly fit it in so we’ll just have to muddle on the best we can as we usually do!

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