a summer in africa

There’s something about the African sun

That beats from a sky much bluer than ours,

Heat scorched grass and roaring lions,

The cocktails will flow at the Tiki bar

As the boys all dance and drink and smoke

And that sun sinks down as the fireflies light

You caught my eye over a tin of beer,

Little did I know that we’d never be split

As the animal snarls close in on the camp

And a heat rises up between two drunken bodies,

Tanned from the day and tired from the night.

And that was how Africa changed one girl’s world

From a stiff British lip to a woman who roars.

My dad went and cleared out the last of the house yesterday and he brought some bags of my stuff over today. Most of it was a load of old rubbish that is going straight in the bin or to the charity shop, but every so often I stumbled across something that just lightened my mood.

Surprisingly the most powerful things I found were the photos. There were so many from when I was a teenager and I used to take a disposable camera everywhere with me. And that includes the summer that I went to South Africa, all on my own.

I ended up meeting my future husband and Noah’s dad and I found a photograph of us in the piles of junk. It reminded me of times that I had pushed to the back of my mind for so long. At the time they were really painful memories, but stumbling across them now has just made me smile.

It’s reminded me that distance between now and then really does ease pain. The more time that passes, the easier it is to remember those times. In fact, now I am actively enjoying looking through those memories. I can only really feel the good feels; the funny stories; the love.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

drifting away

Every time that I get cold, my mind returns to the memory

That tucks itself away, and burrows out when chilly air

Pinches at the skin and sinks into my bones. The memory,

I’d given birth as the sun came up and now I’d braved

Leaving baby in his plastic cot, to let the water run

In rivulets, the pink tinged water circled in the plug.

But when I dried myself, that cold took hold as air blew through

The open window on the ward. The blood loss seemed to hit at once

And that was when the vision blurred, the shaking stopped

As something shifted deep inside, a slipping of the soul.

Heart rate hammered as I reached the place I slept, the place

Where the baby had been born, freshly made with starched white sheets

But now I’m sure it will also see a death, my soul is drifting

Hardly noticing that the baby’s gone. Reaching for the scarlet button

By the bed, the jug of water and the ‘well done’ card.

I had never thought of death before, but there I was, thinking

That he’d grow up on his own, looking at the aging photographs

And wondering what his mum was like, did she love him?

Why she had to leave?

i wonder if she still hurts?

anonymous woman with bouquet of fresh roses
Photo by Chermiti Mohamed on Pexels.com

It happened when she was so young.

The thing that’s here and now for me.

She went through that at just eight.

Can the pain still last so many years?

Or will it peter out to death?

Surely she can’t have lived through this

For thirty years or more?

That pain would kill in suck high doses,

For so long, so much life to lose.

When I was eight I was a swimmer and there was a girl in my squad who I still remember. Her mum left one day and didn’t come back. She chose another man over her two daughters and she actually left them. They had their dad who is a brilliant guy, but the fact remains; she left them.

I often think of her and since my own mum has bailed on me I think about her a lot more. You don’t understand people’s pain as a child so I didn’t really appreciate what she went through. Now that I’ve been rejected a few times, I think I have a glimpse into that pain.

But what must that have felt like as a child? And does she still feel that pain? I don’t know how many more days or weeks or months I can handle this level of discomfort and I’m a grown woman. Has she lived with this feeling all these years? If she has, then she’s a stronger woman than me.

I’m writing about this because Mother’s Day is almost upon us and that pain just seems to intensify that Sunday. It hurts so much to know that my mum isn’t dead. She just chooses to be apart from me. There are others out there and I feel your pain with all my heart.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the bedtime story

It rained outside, incessantly,

Beating hard against the window pane

Making music magic for our story time

As we hold each other tight in arms

Under covers with the lamplight on,

Dappled on the pages that we hope

To lose ourselves within each night.

His body’s warm to touch, a cheek

That’s rosy with a fever pitch

He caught between the Christmas walks

And the fireworks in the midnight sky

To see the New Year in with love.

But stories are our great escape

From this week where dates all blend

Into a fairground coloured haze

And his heavy little body is

The only anchor to this crazy world.

would i have been a better mother?

If I’d have let the years roll by

Like silver boules on verdant lawns

Would I have been a little better than I was?

Would the speed on letting go

Have been the key to being good?

Or would the gentle petering

Of forward motion as I reached

My target make the perfect mother out of me?

I had my son when I was 20. That’s not scarily young, but it is much younger than most of my friends have been when having their children. And over all this time the question that has been rattling around my brain is ‘was I too young?’

I know that I’ve done a pretty good job but I wonder about all the variables that could have made things easier or better. And then I start to think that maybe I made mistakes and maybe I’ve screwed it all up.

On the one hand, being young meant that I never got my career started before I had my son. I’m now in my mid thirties and I’m only thinking about this now as most women have that all wrapped up before they get pregnant. I think of all the money that I could have earned, and if I had waited would that mean that I could have given him a better life with better ‘stuff’?

I also think about the patience that I have now in comparison to when I was 20. It was hard to keep my cool with a demanding toddler that needed all of my attention when I still didn’t even know what I needed as a person. If I had waited, would I have been a kinder mother?

There is also the fact that it was still early days in my relationship with the father and that didn’t work out so I had to bring up my son on my own. I envy women who have several kids with a loving partner and a nice house and car. But once again, I only have myself to blame.

However, I look at Noah and I know that even though I was young and in some ways I could have done things better, I still gave him all the love that he needed to feel safe and secure. And that seems to be the thing that most kids remember and need. There are pros and cons to having kids early or waiting and just because somebody is forty and has a great job, doesn’t mean they’ll be great parents.

I didn’t write this to slate anyone’s choices in life, but rather I wanted to say that we all take our own paths and normally it all works out for the best. If we all waited for the perfect life there would be no fun stories or adventures out there in the world because we’d all have the same life.

So even if you think you might have made a mistake and released the ball a bit quick, just enjoy the ride. Even if you end up miles off target, you’re going to end up somewhere!

Much Love,

Rachel xx