Loving the Library

 The medicine chest of the soul.

—   Inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes.

Nutrimentum spiritus.

(Food for the soul.)

—   Inscription on the Berlin Royal Library.

A wonderful thing happened today. Little Birdie (LB) woke up really, really early. That doesn’t seem like a good thing when your baby is a poor sleeper. However, today it was a happy coincidence, because today is a day when some of the mummies from my mother’s group meet at a local library for “Rhyme Time”, a nursery rhyme session for babies.

LB and I used to attend this session every week, before we went to sleep school, but since then, I favour her morning nap over a morning at the library. LB still struggles with day naps and by the time I get her to sleep in the morning, “Rhyme Time” has started. Thus, there is often no library visit for us. In the past, LB has been somewhat ambivalent towards “Rhyme Time”, so I suspect missing it doesn’t bother her. She loves nursery rhymes, but as she has had a tendency to be so chronically overtired, the stress of the event meant she was a little surly or difficult to deal with during the sessions. I got hold of a copy of the run sheet for “Rhyme Time” and the two of us have our private session at home, which she loves, but that doesn’t help her learn about social situations.

I, on the other hand, love “Rhyme Time”. Not just because I am a bit of a performer (not really, OK … just a little) but because some of the other Mums from mother’s group go there and they are lovely. Just being around them lifts my spirit. Even when I existed on the thought of sleep alone, I would try my best to get to “Rhyme Time”, because I would always come home feeling so positive. The secret is that we go for coffee afterwards. We take over one of the local coffee shops, feed our babies, discuss our week and relax. The library is located in an excellent spot too, with easy parking, a good department store and some grocery stores nearby. One of the biggest attractions for me is the organic grocer. I swing in just before I go home and stock up on food for LB and my hair dye.

I am so grateful to my local library and their program for babies. It’s nothing grand, just a librarian singing some nursery rhymes out of tune while holding a teddy bear. However, it means the world to LB and I. It allowed me to get out of the house and connect with others when I was really struggling and I think LB has come to appreciate it too. For the first time, she was really smiling when I was picking her up and swinging her around today. As she grows older, I am sure we will spend lots more time in the library and I hope she will really come to love reading the books she borrows, just as I did growing up. It’s just another reason why you should love your local library. It seems libraries aren’t just places to house books, they are community hubs and mine is certainly helping me feel connected. Maybe you should see what your local library could offer you.

A Real Bundle of Joy

Little Birdie (LB) is only seven months old and already she’s been to two funerals but I’m so glad she was there.  That might seem a strange statement to make, but in amongst all the struggles we’ve had with bubby’s reflux, her unsettled nature and her sleep problems, some of her brightest moments have been at our saddest.

When my grandmother fell and broke her hip at 90 years old, LB was only a week old. Grandma’s last weeks were filled with pain, but a trip to visit her in the retirement home was one of the few trips out I could manage with a newborn. As a former nurse, Grandma didn’t mind at all if I sat in the corner and fed the baby while I was talking to her. Meanwhile, the incongruous sound of a crying newborn in the halls of the home brought curious stares and smiles from the other elderly residents. Grandma was in so much pain, yet she enjoyed seeing LB so much. It made me feel so good to be able to bring her a small joy in her last days.

Likewise, the death of my dear friend’s husband brought us all to our knees a month ago. My heart was breaking so much for her and after the funeral it was a struggle to know what to say. However, I knew I just wanted to give her the biggest possible hug and not let go. I waited for the moment and as I hugged my friend, I honestly didn’t know if I could let go, but I didn’t need to worry. As I wrapped my arms around her, my friend looked over my shoulder and saw LB and a smile spread across her face. Even in that terrible moment, LB was able to bring a few seconds of joy in the darkest of spaces.

We had another sad day today as we went to visit my uncle, who has terminal cancer. As we drove out to the country town where he lives, I told my husband I wasn’t going to dwell on what we were about to encounter but, again, I need not have worried. It was shocking to see my uncle’s gaunt figure as we arrived. However, it was a pleasant morning as we sat in the lounge room drinking tea and watching LB play on the mat in the middle. We even managed to get a few happy snaps before we left. I’m sure we will treasure those couple of photos in years to come. However, LB really came into her own as we were leaving. She really seemed to take to my aunt during the visit and my aunt picked her up for a little cuddle just as we were leaving. Uncharacteristically, LB was quite relaxed and decided to start kissing my aunty on the nose. For a woman who is having a really tough time at the moment caring for her ailing husband, it was a delightful moment and it was certainly a precious moment for me to watch.

As I’ve struggled through a difficult seven months as a new mother, there have been times when I’ve wondered (as much as I adore my daughter) whether things would ever improve. I’ve truly been pushed to the edge this year but days like today remind me that I’ve been blessed with a real bundle of joy.