Andrea Mara

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And Breathe…

Every year for the last four years, September and October have been a little challenging* in our house (*all-out chaotic messy nightmare). The fact that this four-year timeline coincides with my departure from my office job is surely neither here nor there – no doubt something other than my presence has caused all of this, I just haven’t put my finger on it yet. Anyway, there were no great surprises this year, except that it was maybe even more chaotic and messy than ever before. My kids, a bit like their mother, take time to adjust to change, and this year, in addition to new teachers and new classrooms, one had a new class to contend with too. It takes time for them to adapt to the routine of school runs and homework and uniforms as well, and although they don’t dislike school, all three are as happy ambling around the house, shoes off, and off the clock, so every year, September is a shock. (As is September Part II, cunningly disguised as “October”.)

And just as it has done every other year, November has brought an element of settling. (So far.) (I don’t want to tempt fate.)

Homework took less time this week, and moods were noticeably lighter. I made soup, because it feels like it’s finally miserable enough outside to justify making soup. So the usual hemming and hawing over what to eat after school was averted – they all just ate the soup.

On Monday, I made sausage and bean casserole because it was too wet to go out to the freezer for chicken, and on Tuesday, I made chorizo and potato casserole, because it was still too wet to go out to the freezer for chicken.

We’re having dinner early, because it’s dark early, which means everyone is snuggled up on the couch for TV at the time they’re usually still doing spellings.

Two of them have discovered Harry Potter books (well, not “discovered”, 27 million readers got there before them) and I keep finding them tucked up on chairs, under blankets, reading.

We’re lighting candles as soon as it gets darks, embracing all the Hygge I’m reading about in The Year of Living Danishly.

We’re also embracing the big festival that’s coming up next month – I won’t mention the word, I know lots of people don’t like to go there until December 1st, but for us, one of the loveliest elements of November is all that planning and chattering and lead up. The kids talk about who they’ll see, where we’ll stay, what we’ll do when – the rituals and traditions we’ve been building and layering each year. The catalogues are out, circles are drawn, shortlists whittled down. And I’m in – I’m on for all of it. In a few more years, there won’t be any catalogues and they may not be so excited about the rituals and traditions, so I’m making the most of it now. My only rule is no Jingle Bells yet – not until December* (*never).

And the funny thing is, before I had kids, November was my least favourite month of the year – cold weather, dark evenings, roadworks, rain. No fun, no colour, no light. Now it’s one of my favourites – the cosiness, the hunkering down, the hibernation.

And maybe the bar is just lower – maybe I’m comparing to the last two months and enjoying the mundanity of relative calm. Or maybe it’s the letting in of Christmas chatter (sorry, and I did so well not saying the word till now). Or maybe it’s learning to light up dark evenings and embrace the now, however quiet and calm that now is. Because all of it – every day, every month, every season, every childhood – is fleeting.





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