Tag Archives: Family

In and out

FelicityFox
The nurses huddle around their station clasping their cups, nattering quietly. In and out, the sound of her breath; still and rhythmic as her bird’s chest moves up and down. Watching and waiting. Silence descends. I hold on to every breath, willing her to take another, in and out. Her chest rises and falls, slowly pushing up again, holding on.

Round and round I go outside the washhouse at 46b Storrie Street, just below the flats, where houses are built on houses. Not like ours, where there is no sharing. The green lawn is stretched out in a square stopping from tenement to tenement, each are dark and grey. The concrete slabs in the middle of the green, away from the shadows of the trees is a perfect flat patch for riding.

“Again Rose, again, that’s it.”
“Hold the bars straight, straighten up will you or you’re going to fall.”

Even then she was old; widowed. She was on her own. She wasn’t from these parts, her pursed lips and quick words gave it away. Her wool skirt sat below her knees, she wore sensible brown court shoes, the kind grannies wear, and her Arran cardigan hugged her broad shoulders. She was stronger than any of the others. She had more secrets. Her hands grabbed the seat as she pushed me off on the path as the wind slapped my face. I steered into it, again and again. Clasping the handlebars and trying to steer, not to fall under the weight of the heavy, thick metal bars. She’d bought it from the shop. Her shop where she unpacked and re-shelved the bags left on the doorstep. The bike belonged to another. The seat was too high, but I’d get good use out of it, and the wheels, a little stiff, Dad would oil these. The colour wasn’t mine either.

“Her breathing is getting heavy, Mum.”
Long and slow, she clung on. Mum can’t hear me as she’s watching hers. Holding every breath, in and out, I follow her lead, waiting for the next exhalation. It’s slow and hard to hold on as I gasp to follow her. In and out, she slowly makes it like the one before. I’ve never listened this intently or waited this patiently. I’ve never held her. Curled in the bed, she lies to one side. Small and frail, and waiting. Her hands clasp under her head with beads entwined around her fingers. Her long limbs tucked beneath her and her broad shoulders huddle into her chest. Her hips poke from beneath the white sheets, while the monitors bleep in and out. A drip hangs from her vein and she clasps what’s hidden in her hand. She’s waiting and when I call her name, she hears me. Trying to speak, I silence her with shushes.

“Again, come on, do it again.”
“No point doing half a job, Rose. Again.”
“That’s it, steady yourself and for goodness sake, straighten yourself up.”

I leaned to the left, then quickly to the right, steadying myself.
I’m doing it, I call.
“Concentrate!”
“You’re an awful one for not concentrating.”
“If you fall off and scrape your knees, your mother wouldn’t be happy. You’ve got a feis today.”
“I’ve got it, Nanny.”
“See!”

“I love you, please wait.”
She’s slowing down. Her breathe is slower, shallower. I can’t hear her.
“Do you think she can hear me, mum?”
“Do you think she’s still here?”
“Gran, it’s Rose. I’m here.”

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In my hand he held my heart

My love
My love

In my hand he held my heart

Silently I was crying inside. But my son’s entourage was an unusually welcomed distraction, deflecting from the highly anticipated event, the first day of school.

No wonder my son looked slightly on edge, with so much build up. I think he was starting to believe that we were giving him to the Missions. It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve said goodbye, but for some reason, this one magnifies that this is the first of many to come.

We all know the stories, but when it’s your own story, it’s raw. And I felt alone.

Well, I would have if my over-the-top, noisy, Italian, and brash father-in-law had allowed me to lament in the moment. But no, he was a running commentator on the day’s event and how my emotions were stacking up. My mother was adding some realism, years of experience as a school teacher; my husband was nonchalant; my mother-in-law was reminded of her boy starting school, but was on a strict warning not to cry, so she looked like she’d sucked a few lemons, straining to hold it together. The circus ensued with the little brother pleading to join the big one. And after a few poses for Facebook, show’s over, and it’s time for school.

In his hand, he held my heart. And we walked on.

I was more nervous than he. Schools do that to you. He hardly spoke, but I knew he was assessing the situation. He does this. And all I wish, is that his teachers get to know him like I do. I haven’t totally lost my sense of reason, he’s still a five year old. I’d have thrown him through the doors when he was two, when the thought of Boarding School didn’t seem so bad, but not today. He is perfect and I won’t be told otherwise.

In my state of delusion, we made it through the grandparents, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and the flash photography. But I saw no one. So consumed by holding his hand and steering him through. There may have been tears and tantrums but we walked silently on.

My nerves grew. I wanted the transition to pass seamlessly. Because you see, I thought he was starting next week and today wasn’t the day for my son to realise that his mother’s still looking for the parenting handbook.

My fly by the seat of your pants approach suits me, but my son needs everything just so. I had to step up and make him as proud of me as I am of him. Ok I got off to a bumpy start, wrong class. Though, I was sure it was that one. The relief when I found his peg and hung up his jacket. If I could have ripped the thing off the wall, I think I would have. I was raw.

Never have I felt so happy yet so sad.

P&RBut there were no tears. I wouldn’t do that to him, I had the rest of the afternoon after all.

And as I’d expected he turned and I let him go. To make new friends, have good days and bad days, dreams and disappointments, and to start making stories of his own.

When I’m not there

It’s not the badge that you wear,
Nor the scroll that you hold,
It’s calling him a star,
It’s who you are.
It’s the time that you give,
The love that you bring,
The heart that you show,
The pain that you hide.
It’s every day that you’re there,
It’s his eyes at your name,
It’s the void that you fill,
When I’m not there.

Thank you.

By Felicity Fox

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See Saw Margery Daw by Felicity Fox

Felicity Fox
The Vixen

Not content with conquering the business world. Done with the dinner  parties and wine bars, avoiding questions of marriage and notions of babies. Until now.

Striding past me in their beige perfect pram occupied by one.

I, a few years down the line, stagger past with my buggy weighed down with jackets, plastic bags and anything I’ve managed to pick up along the way.

Passed the brasseries and quaint little pubs, I prefer to picnic in large open spaces where people are few.

Off to the park for some respite and to gather with equally stressed, sleep deprived and irate parents. There’s a reason for stereotypes and cliches. And if you don’t fit this bill, then you have a nanny or hired help of some kind. We’re all watching over our precious offsprings and glaring at one another, it’s territorial.

Stepping across the boundary and into the playpark, the babes are off in hot pursuit of a swing or a sea-saw, stamping their authority among their kind. Darwin’s theory played out.

Princes and princesses, one or two precocious parents and we’re all fenced in. We’re in one of Nappy Valley’s favourite haunts. There’s lots of oohing and ahhing and niceties. It’s very child focused. Well, it is a park. I’m eyeing up the coffee stand.

Hot on the heels of my little cubs, ready to diffuse potential situations, and it isn’t long before there is a situation at the sea-saw. A coveted apparatus. There’s a child parked on one side and my five-year old is tipping the balance to the other side, as one might expect.

It’s a tandem made for two. Not in these parts. Speaking through the medium of her child, the mother is purporting that there’s a big boy on the other side.

“Hello, I’m right here.”

“Just wait a moment until the big boy gets off and you can have your shot.” But sea-saws require two in our parts.

Rising above my patronising and selfish opponent, I too embrace the medium of my child to strike back.

“He’s just a little boy, be gentle. He’ll be off in a minute. Just give him a little shot.”

Parks are precarious places, if it’s not dogs it’s kids.

We each place our hands on the opposing sides of the sea-saw, without making eye contact and the games begin.

“That’s it, up and down, each waiting for the other to crack.”

Total glee as my opponent’s offspring throws the first tantrum. Ha ha, your brat’s not sharing. I’m quite simply delighted and I think I’m smirking.

It could have gone either way, it was touch and go for a moment as I thought my five-year old was about to start. But he didn’t let the side down. Ice-cream all round.

The shrieking continues as the boy is scraped off the sea-saw, howling as he goes. He’s not for budging as I watch on in total amusement.

His hands are being pried off by his mother who’s obviously annoyed about the architectural concept of a sea-saw and the notion that it requires two.

Ready in the wings is my three year old, rubbing salt in the wounds by hopping on.

The dad’s back and they are both pleading for calm. It’s a spectacle. Arms flying and legs kicking, I’ve been on the receiving end but today I’m the spectator.

And it feels naughty, even childish, but oh so good.

By Felicity Fox ©

In my head, I’m in Paris

In my head, I’m in ParisWe'll always have Paris

Can you have it all?

I have a lot but then that depends on who you’re comparing me with.  I love what I have. I admit though, that I’m forever peering over my shoulder, looking for what’s out there. This is a very hard thing to do in my country because at this time of year, it’s heads down and hoods up. It’s freezing and to paraphrase a great Scottish saying, it would freeze the balls off a brass monkey. That sums up the weather for me.

Keeping a positive outlook when you’re shivering head to toe is difficult. But that is not my reality. In my head, I’m in Paris. Even when I’m dragged to my local McDonalds, I’m imagining a chic Paris cafe, ignoring the reality of the fabricated Legoland around me.

I just picture Facebook or Bragbook. And I do like a bit of bragging. I’ve cubs, I can’t help it. They are my greatest success stories. You don’t even need to travel these days. Facebook has a plethora of adventures and I’m relying on these on a wet and windy day in my homeland to get me through the drudgery.

I don’t have it all, but I’m certainly doing it all. It struck me today as I did the first school run; then ran, actually drove, but it felt like running, to university to sit through two hours of employment law, bla bla bla, hurry up! I have another pick up at one. Dash to pick up number two son, before number one son needs collecting; write copy for client; make orders for Felicity Fox; do complex primary one homework; go to McDonalds (it’s healthier than my cooking, don’t judge me); read a chapter, words on a page; write a blog about it all.

Whilst I was mid-moan, Mr Fox interjected to tell me I wasn’t the only one with a frantic schedule. And it got me thinking. I’m not, I know this. But I was the only female in a leading consultancy, in a predominately female workforce, to have children, apart from the boss. She had a child and that never stopped her rising to the top of her profession. But notably, there were no rising mothers behind her.

There are a few of us at law school with children, I think. But it’s not the ideal place to have children. I mean, do you ever see them on Campus or in the Library? It may be a leading University but in this place children are neither seen nor heard.

It’s not about having it all, it’s about doing it all and “we’ll always have Paris.”

 

See Saw Margery Daw by Felicity Fox

Felicity Fox
The Vixen

Not content with conquering the business world. Done with the dinner   parties and wine bars, avoiding questions of marriage and notions of babies. Until now.

Striding past me in their beige perfect pram occupied by one.

I, a few years down the line, stagger past with my buggy weighed down with jackets, plastic bags and anything I’ve managed to pick up along the way.

Passed the brasseries and quaint little pubs, I prefer to picnic in large open spaces where people are few.

Off to the park for some respite and to gather with equally stressed, sleep deprived and irate parents. There’s a reason for stereotypes and cliches. And if you don’t fit this bill, then you have a nanny or hired help of some kind. We’re all watching over our precious offsprings and glaring at one another, it’s territorial.

Stepping across the boundary and into the playpark, the babes are off in hot pursuit of a swing or a sea-saw, stamping their authority among their kind. Darwin’s theory played out.

Princes and princesses, one or two precocious parents and we’re all fenced in. We’re in one of Nappy Valley’s favourite haunts. There’s lots of oohing and ahhing and niceties. It’s very child focused. Well, it is a park. I’m eyeing up the coffee stand, ready to get a caffeine hit to get me through.

Hot on the heels of my little cubs, ready to diffuse potential situations, and it isn’t long before there is a situation at the sea-saw. A coveted apparatus. There’s a child parked on one side and my five-year old is tipping the balance to the other side, as one might expect.

It’s a tandem made for two. Not in these parts. Speaking through the medium of her child, the mother is purporting that there’s a big boy on the other side.

Hello, I’m right here.

“Just wait a moment until the big boy gets off and you can have your shot.” But sea-saws require two in our parts.

Rising above my patronising and selfish opponent, I too embrace the medium of my child to strike back.

“He’s just a little boy, be gentle. He’ll be off in a minute. Just give him a little shot.”

Parks are precarious places, if it’s not dogs it’s kids.

We each place our hands on the opposing sides of the sea-saw, without making eye contact and the games begin.

“That’s it, up and down, each waiting for the other to crack.”

Total glee as my opponent’s offspring throws the first tantrum. Ha ha, your brat’s not sharing. I’m quite simply delighted and I think I’m smirking.

It could have gone either way, it was touch and go for a moment as I thought my five-year old was about to start. But he didn’t let the side down. Ice-cream all round.

The shrieking continues as the boy is scraped off the sea-saw, howling as he goes. He’s not for budging as I watch on in total amusement.

His hands are being pried off by his mother who’s obviously annoyed about the architectural concept of a sea-saw and the notion that it requires two.

Ready in the wings is my three year old, rubbing salt in the wounds by hopping on.

The dad’s back and they are both pleading for calm. It’s a spectacle. Arms flying and legs kicking, I’ve been on the receiving end but today I’m the spectator.

And it feels naughty, even childish, but oh so good.

By Felicity Fox ©