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On Being Boring

I moved from London to Brussels with my husband nearly 10 years ago. When I told people we were moving, the news was greeted with bemusement: why did we want to move to a city that was possibly the most boring place on earth? Ten years later and I can honestly say that I've had more fun here than I ever did living in London. It might not be the most exciting city in the world but it is a fantastic place to live. It is full of hidden treasures that you probably never get to see as a tourist: wonderful shops, amazing food, great museums and galleries, beautiful architecture, a forest (yes, a whole forest), and so much more... And if that doesn't convince you, well, get on a train and you could be in Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne or, yes, London in no more than a couple of hours... Which other city can you say that about?

This Boy…

I love this boy. He was very easy to love, from the very first moment. I remember being knocked sideways, not expecting the sudden onrush of emotion. With Amélie, things had taken a little longer. At first I felt confused, and lost, and scared… then protective. Fiercely protective. Cold and angry with anyone who tried to touch her. And then, slowly but surely, I relaxed. I breathed. And there it was: love. Of course it came, but not how the books said it would. Not straight away. Or maybe it did, but maybe this love was such an alien one to me, so different from any I had felt before, that I didn’t recognise it at first. Once it was there, though, it just grew and grew… Through sleepless nights and terrible tantrums… Through vomit and snot and diarrhoea (hers not mine)… Through delight and despair, I just kept on loving her more and more… And I, like every mother before me, never ever thought I could possibly love anyone else as much. Not even slightly. But then he was born. And in an instant, I loved him just as much as I loved Amélie. It was overwhelming. In the most wonderful way imaginable. I couldn’t stop smiling. It felt slightly unfair that he got everything right then and there that it had taken Amélie 5 years to teach me…

And then he turned three. I didn’t stop loving him. Not even for an instant. Not even a little bit. But I struggled. I didn’t expect it to be this hard. Maybe the fact that he had been so easy – or that motherhood, second time around, had been so easy – maybe that made it seem harder. He became, in my eyes at least, difficult. He kicked and hit and wouldn’t go to bed when we wanted him to. He screamed and thew himself around. He broke things, apparently just because they were things Amélie cared about. He wouldn’t eat. He wouldn’t walk when we went for walks. He challenged at every turn. And I was frustrated. And I was longing for three to be over before he’d even hit the 6 month mark. And that made me angry with myself. Angry for wanting time to go faster when it goes too fast already. Angry for wanting my beautiful boy to be anything other than he was. Angry for not being around more, for not having enough time to be with him… Really be with him. Listen to him. Hold him. Understand him. And all that anger hurt.

And then December came, and with it some time off work. Time to unplug and just be. To sit on the floor and play, to lie next to him and cuddle. Time to draw and read and be silly. Time to be me. Time to be patient. Time to see him. My boy. The boy that I fell in love with so deeply three and a bit years ago. Time to breath in his air, to make him laugh, to LISTEN to him laugh… And he is wonderful this boy of mine. His smile could light up the world. His eyes sparkle like a thousand stars. He gives the softest, warmest hugs. He has a wicked sense of humour and one of the kindest, most beautiful hearts. Yes, he is three. Yes, he is still exploring what is ok and what isn’t. Yes, he does express his angers and frustrations more physically than Amélie did or does. Yes, he can be a cheeky little bugger. But man oh man he is MY cheeky little bugger and I love him. And I will love him through 3 and 4 and all the years beyond. I will love him through everything and anything he can throw at me. He is amazing beyond words, this boy. This boy. My boy…

Thank you for waiting for me, Charlie.

3 January 2014 - 8:23 PM Ingrid - You really write so beautifully about your children. I could just about picture things and smiled. There are the hard days aren't there? But then there are those days that just synch..and yes don't rush them before you know it the boy , that boy is all grown up..and in your heart you know he has to fly and you let him but it's hard. Yep that's me. Can you believe that? So enjoy it all..and laugh!

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