The first time we came to this forest, M was round about the age T is now. My Dad had just left and while he was here he’d come back post morning run raving about the possibilities for exploration for us here, so as soon as he left, I bundled M into his pram and headed on up. Having a tortoise cross our path that very first trip solidified the deal; this place was meant for us and I went on to spend many an hour of the best year of my life trekking mud through on these paths. With M in the Moby, we broke the back of 5am wake-ups under these trees and later as my pregnancy progressed and we were back to the pram, we learnt to sign whilst crunching these leaves underfoot. It’s been here in this forest that he’s first felt a pine cone and tasted blackberries and rolled in dried fern and while G has often joined us here, it’s mostly been just M and me.
M’s a natural people-person. He shares generously and laughs lots; greets new friends with beaming smiles and open arms, realises no boundary from age or gender or language while interacting with ‘friends’. He’s good with other kids, enjoys being with other kids, but he doesn’t really know any other kids. As I watched M today run freely down our pre-trodden paths, tripping over his feet as he reached to grab acorns or rub sandy dirt into no-longer-grey pant legs, I felt a huge pang of guilt that he only had me there to share it with. I recently read that you shouldn’t get married or have children until you’ve built up a village. Having moved away and around from the age of 14, I’ve never sat still long enough to create one and as I watched M this afternoon – at the end of a day with some very trying moments – I felt guilty for not being enough, for being it all.
Today for the first time, I took both my boys out here to play. As M alternated between silent exploration of the pebbles set in the ground and excitedly running between trees and path and back again, T nestled into my chest where his brother so recently lay. At one point, I bent forward, nestling my nose in the soft crown of T’s head as I’d so often done here with M and was taken aback at the difference in scent. There is nothing more precious than a sunkissed baby’s head; nothing except realising each of your children’s heads are uniquely different and no matter how far the heads move from kissing distance, their uniqueness and the moments you spend with your nose nestled again them remain ingrained on your heart ever after. T smells nothing like M and that took my breathe away with a surge of unbridled love as I realised how they both hold my heart captive in utter harmony; I’ll never forget M’s scent, adore T’s just as much.
These boys in this forest are the paths of a village that’s starting to grow. Over time their villagers will be added to the houses already lining our surrounding paths, and it won’t matter how small my collective is for them, it will be enough. As M defined todays adventure, filling the pram with treasures earnestly collected, pausing to throw a beaming smile our direction, T and I tagged along behind him and I wondered how life will be a year from now and I realised no matter how small the village you grow up in, its’ soul is what you take with you when cities swallow up those early days.
This village may be quiet right now, but where we once were two, now we’re three…