I’m at the stage of pregnancy now where I am starting to imagine what it will be like not to be so full of child. With a month to go (technically) I am feeling big, tired, achey, breathless and oh so hormonal. My need for rest seems to have increased dramatically over the last week. Along with the amount of times every night I get up to wee. (Five last night)
I remember this with Ava, remember thinking, ‘It can’t be much longer’ and it being longer than I had anticipated, the last 2 weeks of being ‘overdue’ moving at a glacial pace, where I could do little other than lie around in a big sheet and just wait. The more people comment on how big a bump I have (which is nearly everyone I encounter), the more I feel big, and sure that Ezra must be ready, soon. Surely.
As feelings go, I feel more ready for Ezra to come along than I did Ava, and I wonder if he will appear a little sooner than she did. I don’t know if that is instinct or wishful thinking. But when I feel this way – a little grouchy and emotional – I remind myself that this is a natural part of the process. Our bodies and minds must be ready to let go of our babies if we are to birth them when they need to be birthed.
We have been watching lots of birthing videos – Ava and I – natural, unassisted births and I think it is doing both of us a lot of good. I am so thrilled at the prospect of Ava actually meeting Ezra, of seeing him in a very real way, when she has come to talk of him constantly. I wonder what idea she carries now – how much she understands. I would like to read more about siblings in general but I don’t seem to be having much luck finding the kind of books I’m after. I’ve just ordered ‘Siblings without Rivalry’ which has been on my list for a while.
When Ava met Camilla’s new baby, Amber, she was curious but also somewhat indifferent. She was concerned when Amber cried, and interested in her little fingers, but I think she was too busy playing with Ollie and Camilla to really take notice. I found myself feeling quite protective of this little baby – every time a ball was thrown or a boisterous toddler ran past I had to stop myself from shouting, ‘Stay away from the baby!’, which is clearly the last avenue I want to take.
I forgot how small a newborn is though, even a substantially sized one. They’re still tiny, especially compared to the chunky, long-limbed creatures that toddlers become when they’re on their way out of toddlerhood.
I know Ava is still a toddler, but she seems to grow so visibly every day that I often wish I could just grasp some part of her to anchor her still for just a moment. Ava does not do still though. Careful, tidy, yes, but she is too busy sorting the world out to be still. Her memory is still confounding me. I asked her tonight if she remembered what it was like to be inside my tummy and she said, ‘Purple’. Hmm.
Our conversations are becoming more and more lengthy and an endless source of fascination to me. Yesterday, for example, she was watching some men out the window and I asked her what they were doing. ‘Men are working’ she said.
‘Why are they working?’ I asked, and she replied, ‘To get money’. She then went on to say that Daddy got money for working, but Mama did not. Which is pretty accurate. But how on earth she picked that up is beyond me – I can’t imagine a conversation or a book where she has come across that concept. I suppose though the point is, life slips in. Maybe why I love unschooling so much – there is little you can do to stop them learning because it is everywhere, all around, all the time.
Even phrases she adopts, like, ‘I think’ at the moment – ‘Ava would you like to have some yoghurt?’ to which she replies, ‘I think I will’. It feels like her ability to actually have a conversation has really accelerated in the last month. I’m noticing how many leaps she makes. Yesterday when her and Howard were having a conversation about feet, which then moved onto Puck’s (her horse) feet, she corrected Howard and said, ‘No Daddy, these are hooves. Dogs have paws. Rabbits have paws too.’
I’m trying to be as mindful as possible in our conversations, but without being teacherly, which is a hard line to get right sometimes. But being mindful is the key, I think. Trying to focus on what she is saying, rather than what she could be learning, is the big difference. As with almost everthing else, I find myself (and Ava too) getting uncomfortable whenever there is too much intended learning – whenever something becomes an obvious ‘learning opportunity;’ it just seems to lose some of its appeal, its spontaneity. This gets easier the more relaxed and trusting I am in Ava’s innate ability to learn. But it also means simply allowing her to navigate her way through play and activities without being too methodical or without planning too much, which really doesn’t suit me anyway. I talk about this a lot with a couple of unschooly friends, and our observations of how our wee ones respond are all very similar. Whether or not this is born from our own discomfort with such activities or not is hard to say.
Most of the time I feel like as long as she is in an ever-changing, stimulating environment, and as long as I am varying my activities and letting Ava be a part of them, she is happy. She is happier, for example, to knead the pizza dough and get messy and make things out of it, than she is with a planned activity involving playdough and glitter and such. I genuinely think children like feeling useful and a part of the everyday goings on (one reason I’ve always tried to be cheerful when doing housework, which seems to have rubbed off on Ms Tidypants, who sometimes request we get the hoover out!)
She requests a lot of crafty things which we then do, but making them available to her is really as far as she wants me to go most of the time. Any direction or nudging from me and she is not happy at all. But since she is currently very keen on organising everything she can get her hands on, this month’s toy includes a big set of marbles for her to arrange and sort until her little heart is content.
And she also got a very lovely vintage Steamer Trunk today from her grandparents, to complete her dressing up wall. This might be a little more for me – I’ve wanted one of these for years, and my mum covered it in old stickers too, so it looks perfect. It’s large, has plenty of room for more dressing up items, and I’m sure it won’t be long before Ava gets in it. Or tries to put Ezra in it. She has already told me that Ezra will sit in her trolley whilst she goes to the shops. ‘To get treats’.