Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Mere Complexities

…All that man is,
All mere complexities,
The fury and the mire of human veins.
W B Yeats

In the playground at the farm park my daughter effortfully drags herself across the rope bridge and then jumps down and turns back towards the line of ashen-faced children behind her. Standing next to them she shouts “Come on, you can do it!” like an army sergeant at an assault course. “Well done” she says as they make their way down one by one, while I fish off those too scared to move. There are older children than her pushing and fighting and plunging in front of others, and she’s stepping back and encouraging people. It makes me want to weep for myself and my craven self-indulgence and sell all my possessions and become a Buddhist. Well, maybe weep anyway.

It comes from my wife, this stubborn streak of niceness. What I saw twenty years ago in my wife I am now seeing all over again in my daughter. I had forgotten about it one way or another, and it’s a treat to be reminded. It’s not the only thing of course. I see my wife in a turn of the foot here, a wrinkle of the eyebrow there. I see my father too. When my daughter shrugs it is as if there’s a thumbprint on her genetic code that means like a stuck CD she replicates his shoulders to ears flinch time after time. On other occasions I turn round and find myself caught in my sister’s or mother’s gaze. I treasure all these little parts of other people and I want to find more. My daughter sometimes catches me looking at her and grins, lopsidedly, like me.

My father had lung problems and heart problems by the end. His body just gave out. If he had been a car you wouldn’t have wanted to open up the bonnet. You’d have just carried on sticking in the leaded and hoping. He knew, but he didn’t want the doctors to confirm it. I imagined them telling him to cut out the drinking and pack in the smoking. They might as well have told him to go easy on the breathing. He couldn’t really see the point of life a lot of the time. Sometimes I can understand that, sometimes though I think he didn’t search the most obvious places. I look at my daughter and see the glimpses of others that make time less lost.

41 comments:

Kelly said...

That's just beautiful, really. Hoping when I successfully conceive, my kids will be just like yours....

Wimbledon said...

Very beautiful

joyfulgirl said...

You write such beautiful golden pieces containing a huge sense of the wonder of childhood - a collection of these (in book format?) would be a lovely thing.

Sparx said...

What a great post... I'm looking forward to seeing more of my family in my son as well. It's what life is about, the carrying on of those who've gone on before in the genes of our children.

Kaycie said...

Now look, you've got me crying at 8 o'clock in the morning.

I know exactly what you mean. Each of my children has a look, an inflection, a habit, that reminds me of a loved one. It is odd how that is sweet and melancholy at the same time.

Drunk Mummy said...

Ah - you describe that beautifully!
However, recognising familial likenesses is no fun when you are in your forties and start rapidly morphing into your own parents (or worse - grandparents!)

@themill said...

Someone once said, can't remember who, 'the greatest thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother.' I think you are doing the greatest thing.

DJ Kirkby said...

Wow! I loved this post so much. I think all those things when I look at our sons. I just wrote a long paragraph here about genetics being similar to ingredients and cookbooks but have erased it as it sounded waaaaay too geeky! 'Wow', will suffice nicely.

Xbox4NappyRash said...

That is an aspect I hadn't even considered until now, seeing others past and present in any child we might have.

In a funny way I don't know if its comforting or not to be reminded in such an animated fashion of those no longer with us.

You've got me thinking now ;-)

X4NR

debio said...

We live on in our children...so well observed, SAHD.

But I agree with your father, there is no point to life - not that anyone's saying anyway. So enjoy and don't take it too seriously is my motto.

The Grocer said...

My wife took J to this activity called Tumble Tots and he seems to have acquired a super level of confidence as a result. I like to think that tree climbing has helped too but he seems to have a similar self confidence. I can sympathise with your father, it took me a long while to realise what I was out there looking for was back at home.
By the way 61 comments so how much have they offered you as an advance as I presume you are still in negotiation, lol, I'll do the foreword for a tenner.

Brom said...

A nice observation, and very well put.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you Kelly. That's possibly the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me.

Hello wimbledon. I'm really enjoying it this year.

Hi joyfulgirl. A nice name and very kind comment. I'm open to offers!

Thanks Sparx. I think it is. It's just a shame that you run out of people who can remember them.

Cheer up Kaycie! That's true; it is both at the same time.

Thank you DM. Well there is that. As I was pondering that I found myself doing my father's scowl..

That's interesting, @TM. As they grow older you understand that, don't you.

Wow good enough for me DJK. Thanks!

It's ok X4NR, it kind of creeps up on you.

Yes, sounds good Debio.

Grocer, my daughter's was Boogie Mites. Terrible name. Pretty bad in practice. Mind you everything was at that age. If I was being so much as offered a tenner I'd happily split it with you...

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks Brom!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I know what you mean. My daughter has my mother's eyes and eyebrows. There's something about my son that reminds me of my dad. They carry on the gene pool, adding to it along the way. Your daughter sounds adorable, by the way.

Elsie Button said...

Yes, really beautiful post.

Although is it wrong of me to say that the fact that sometimes when i look at Betty, i see my father-in-law staring back at me and it completely freaks me out and makes me want to shout 'NOOOO' ?

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks Wakeup... With enough sleep and a full belly she certainly is!

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks Elsie. Not good - especially when changing a nappy...

Dee said...

Agreeing with joyful girl here- have you thought about writing a book ?
Not that we don't love your blog of course, quite the opposite. This entry is particularly beautiful! Thank, again.

Bel said...

When I look at my son, I see his father. Other people sometimes say they can't really see it, but it's not in the looks as much but in the small aspects of body language and mannerisms. You've captured the same things in your daughter so beautifully -- where did you learn to write like that?

Bel

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you Dee, very much. I have thought about it, but my thoughts never seem to come to anything...

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you Bel. You're right, it's in the mannerisms not so much the look.

I'm sure it's a rhetorical question, but the answer is I didn't, as such.

Jan said...

So true and so right, all this.
Patterns of family are amazing; they surprise, delight, make one remember...
I see both my sons in my elder son's son; I see my dad more and more in my brother...and yes, I've turned into my mother!
And I see my husband in my sons and our grandson... hear my husband's words, ideas through both of them..
It's wonderful, because to some extent we never lose our family members; ther's a very precious blueprint from one generation to the next.

The Good Woman said...

Glad that are moments you see yourself too!
Very struck by similarities in our fathers' attitudes to life. Which makes me sad.
But then happy that enthusiasm and encouragement are making it into the next generation via your daughter.

PS Are your feeds playing up? - I'm not getting any reminders at the moment. Very frustrating...

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I have to agree with all the above comments, a lovely touching post. Even though she is autistic and has many of her own traits, there is so much of me in my daughter, a little of her father (thank god!) and fortunately, an awful lot of my dad, her beloved grandad, who she sadly doesn't remember.

merry weather said...

This is the gift of love kids bring. I didn't make those connections until I had my kids either... You've put it very well.

dulwichmum said...

I realise I am saying just the same as everyone else here, but that really is perfect, a beautiful post.

I love Yeats, particularly his love poetry. You are a poet.

Stay at home dad said...

TGW, you read very cleverly between the lines... yes I can see a bit of me, or at any rate the boy who was me.

I've given up on the feeds they're so slow...

Thanks CJ. It starts to fade from memory at the grandparent stage doesn't it, sadly...

Thank you Merry. Yes, all part of the eye-opener that is children.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you Dulwich Mum. The first and last time I will be mentioned in the same line as Yeats! You are very kind.

Omega Mum said...

SAHD: I came to the well of superlatives, but the others had drained it dry. Ditto, ditto, as the King of Siam didn't say....PS Wouldn't it be nice if, when sufficient comments mentioned publication, your blog was automatically whisked to the top of the a publisher's 'must read' pile?

Stay at home dad said...

Hi Omega Mum and thanks. Yes, that would be a good system. Trouble is all these publishers seem to be busy publishing stuff...

rilly super said...

lovely stuff SAHD, but a girl can take looking like her father too far you know - look at Amelie Mauresmo...

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you Rilly. Yes, certainly. I wouldn't mind her shoulders...

Lilly said...

Awww, how wonderful.
Not only do children take on expresions and looks of those past, they also sometimes take on their favorite things in life. My youngest son (aged 3) was named after my father in law who died when i was just a few weeks pregnant. He loves everything that "Pops" did, including looking through classified ads for construction equipment! Life is but cycles of life through the generations.
Now - are you working on that book when you leave such a long time between posts?!

Stay at home dad said...

Yes, very true Lilly and thank you. Bit worried about the construction equipment though!

I suppose you could say I am, but nothing is firm yet. With your and everyone's kind support though, I am hoping.

Jan said...

Yes!
Hope you ARE working on your book.
I look forward to buying it if your writing here is anything to go by.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you so much Jan. And you're a professional!

Anonymous said...

beautiful

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you Anonymous.

Suki said...

Thanks. :)

I guess I've always known why people tend to address me by Mum's nickname... it's just a bit more touching than usual sometimes. This is one of those times.

Stay at home dad said...

I'd love to know what this was the answer to, Suki!