Every morning I am woken with a kiss from my daughter. In an instant my dream world fades and I am left with the indescribable softness of her lips smushed into my face with love. She glows with an almost tangible potential and it seems wherever she goes disorder follows. Toddlerhood is both incredible and frustrating. I still watch her while she sleeps some afternoons, taking in the rare stillness and the perfect proportions of her features. The rounded eyelids and cheeks, the dimpled knuckles, the golden spiralling hair.
In many ways I don’t feel like a Mother. My mind is still the same mind of my child self, just with different thought patterns, more knowledge and a dullness which I assume is part of getting used to being alive. I expected to be transformed into someone entirely different, but I am glad to find myself still me. Still sleeping in, giggling to Peppa Pig, jumping on the trampoline at midnight, eating too much dessert and fantasising about other worlds. The thing that has transformed most is my idea of what a Mother really is.
I was feeling a little lonely in Brisbane so I organised a picnic, which I named the Plant Love Picnic. It was a celebration of how delicious healthy, plant-based food could be and a way for like-minded people to come together. I thought maybe two or three people would come along, but by the afternoon more than a dozen people were sitting around on a patchwork of picnic blankets surrounding plates of beautiful vegetarian food made with love. We talked in the gardens ’til the sun set, bonded by our want for a better world. The happy buzz from the day and the knowledge that the world is filled with such good human beings lasted for a long time.
One day we decided we’d load the car up and go on a road trip to my hometown. It took two days to drive there, with stops along the way. Hungry, tired and halfway there, I decided to get breakfast with Alba while Matt catnapped in the car, warm and cosy with the morning sun. At the time it seemed so funny to be vegetarians stopping for a meal in the beef capital of Australia. We found a nice little cafe, where I swapped out meat for avocado and mushrooms and we shared an orange juice. We stayed for a long while, me writing in my journal and Alba scribbling with coloured crayons on a notepad and somehow that little moment brimmed with beauty.
A few days after we arrived in Townsville we took the ferry to Magnetic Island. My siblings and I ran to the back of the ferry where the water and wind were wild and we clung tightly to the metal railing, shouting to one another over the roaring sound. That night we walked to the beach and my brother told me to look up at the sky, so I did, and when I did it wasn’t just a familiar background unworthy of wonder, I saw the sky and the stars for what they really were. I looked up at our universe, with its countless slowly exploding stars and enormous galaxies and I was overcome. I felt the Earth spinning beneath my feet and I felt very, very small. I looked at my family, old and new, and I realised the power of blood and the strangeness of life.
When we were younger our Mother could never afford to take us on holidays, so this trip was special. My childhood came back to me as we shared pizzas, drew in the sand and played board games. But my siblings weren’t children any more and at times it was as though I barely knew them. Still I felt a sense of love and protection for them, and the grown ups they were becoming. My brother fell the deepest in love with Alba. He has never been taken with children but he doted on her, taking his role of uncle to heart. I felt a new feeling, a feeling of pride for creating a being that brings so much joy to others. I visited my cousins and regret swept back, that they had kept on growing while I was gone. I wanted to go back, I wanted to be 14 and babysitting them all weekend, pretending they were my own children and letting them fall asleep across my lap on the couch, stroking their soft cheeks.
When we arrived home to Brisbane we knew it was time to move again. This time to the rich red soils of Toowoomba, the garden city where my auntie, cousins and grandparents live. We bid our dear housemates and our growing garden farewell and packed all of our things into boxes. There were jars upon jars of grains, nuts, dried fruits, beans and seeds I’d been collecting over the year. Time rushed as we packed, cleaned, cooked, worked and cared for Alba. As we drove away for the last time M said “It feels good to know that the gardens I leave behind will keep on growing and keep on giving,” and I let go of my sadness, like letting the ocean current carry the sand from my loose palm.
Until we find our patch of Earth our home will be ever-changing. And even when we do find land to settle and nestle into, we will still always travel. We are still young and there is so much to learn and experience. So much goodness to be found and shared. Now, a new adventure.