Every parent wants the best for their children, but if you were to ask what that was most would probably struggle to answer. Because what is best for our children? I don’t just mean my children or your children. I mean societies children. Our children. Children the whole world over. The current world we live in, I think, is very demanding on children and on its parents for that matter. We live in a world that isn’t designed for them, yet their vital in order for it to be here and I think that’s very strange. We no longer live in a society where it takes a village to raise a child because there isn’t one. We call ourselves mankind yet we struggle to obtain levels of humane kindness. We weigh so heavily on addition. More is better. New is improved, but there’s a level of magic in the old and the used. There’s familiarity and comfort in putting your feet into shoes that your soles have imprinted a home in. New things maybe fascinating for a short length of time but that’s usually all they amount to, fascination. Like the new coat you liked the look of, but in times of uncertainty or comfort its always the trusty misshapen mac you thrust your arms through.One early morning around half eight, myself and Bea went out for a walk along the main street of Tarbert. Wandering past the first handful of cottages, hostel and the candle shop I caught the first glimpse of the marina. It was a clear day, the start of summer mornings you could say. Looking out towards the outline of Skye I stared at wandering islands and for some time I couldn’t quite decide if the sun was yearning to set or rise. The early morning had bled into the landscape and I waited there quite believing a large giant would stride from one island to another. As if merely stepping stones, achieving the finishing touches on his water colour. It was a simple view, its the view I see everyday and there’s nothing particularly breath taking about it. Some days you cant even make it out, but on that morning something magical occurred. I felt I had taken a wrong turn and somehow ended up on a page of Tolkien’s daily jottings. It was mythical and a little to beautiful to be quite real, but believable all the same. My gaze shifted between the bleeding land and the golden light atop of my child’s head. As I pondered for some time the connection between the two and how not being a particularly extraordinary person myself I had ended up in such an extraordinary place.We now live in a world where its considered quite rare if you stay at home full time with your children and odd if you decide to home school them. Along side that we live in a world where there is such an abundance of influences on our children that parents play a very small part really. By moving here we shifted that and its something I’m coming to be passionate about. Here, in the Outer Hebrides, you are more able to stand a chance of being your child’s biggest influence. There’s a stronger hold here in the connection we have with this earth and the magic that lives within it. As we wandered down past the shops and towards the waters edge I glanced to see if Chris’ car was yet parked outside the hotel, but seeing as it wasn’t we carried on. Searching for leaves and lost spring bulbs, mussel shells lay in the grass and large daffodils with feathery golden petals stood wavering in the wind. I will never cease to be amazed at the natural wonderment of children and I think I am very blessed because I was granted to keep a part pf mine as I entered into adulthood. My mother, always was and is, very good at making things magical. What we got for Christmas or birthdays very much came second because it was the anticipation of the magic in the house that was the real gift. I get asked and ask quite regularly what it is about the Outer Hebrides that makes people return here. Its something that I toss and turn between the left and right side of my brain quite frequently and I have to say with the awe of a young child, that its the magic. Its magical. Where volcanic mountains slide into the icy Atlantic as lone islands stand ethereal against its raging tide. Whether you see if once, or everyday. ‘Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it’.One bright afternoon as I sat in Katy’s car listening to some worldly music on the radio, she talked about her favourite books. New born Lambs would dance in front of the car to which she would grasp my arm in sheer fear of their innocence. As we weaved our way she talked about Lord of the Rings and as she talked I felt a small shift within the confinement of my brain. After months of thought, the jumbled magical narrative in my head swept itself audibly into line. I smiled at her. She had made sense of the questions within my head and she had no idea – the islands where Tolkien’s playground. The early month held the anticipation of my family arriving. I wondered if when they got here I would be propelled into tears or home sickness. Would I yearn to leave with them and would the days there after be harder, but like most things, it was wasted time to worry. Living on an island on which you are dependent upon ferries takes a little getting used to and you have to learn to be flexible. So it wasn’t until I saw the ferry in the distance that I allowed my excitement to take hold and run ahead. After watching it drift in I stepped myself back towards the house, with my coat tucked under my arms and an old but never forgotten scarf wrapped around my neck waving silently in the wind. It was the first flurry of tourists arriving for the summer season and I stood in awe of them. It was warm and I felt a happiness that the island was basked in sunlight for those seeing it for the first time. As I stood in my trusty blue jumper, camper vans crawled up the hill and people slowed down in their cars to check they were on the right path to their destination. Then I saw them – weary from travel but just the same as when I had left them – lovely.Soon the house was a bustle of bags, suitcases, walking boots, fleeces, macs, warm hats and boxes of games. We all sat around the living room as if circling a large camp fire and spoke rapidly – with gleaming faces – happy and comfortable to be in each others presence once again. It’s nice to have familiar people from your life wander up and down the halls of a new house, it acts in some way as a blessing to the four walls in which you laugh and cry in. It was not long before my gran was sipping on a cup of tea -weak no milk – talking about all the little special things that make up our humble existences. It was exciting to open parcels made up of beloved sweets, those lovely little Jaffa cakes from marks and spencer’s that I cant get here and thoughtful trinkets. A lovely pink tea light holder from my mum was one of my favourites. As well as a packet of Percy pigs, requested by yours truly that my gran brought and chris – much to my horror – ended up devouring. We cooked, played games, dealt with sleepless children, crying children, sick children. Snacked, talked, sang, knitted, drew, laughed, squealed. Played video games, made cups of hot coffee, forgot cups of tea, and ate large quantities of pasta I’m unlikely to see again in a while. We drove down to explore the West coast and after not being able to head down to Luskentrye due to restricted parking that day, we drove instead to Horgabost. In the run up to their arrival I had hoped for clear days and that Thursday did not disappoint. The Atlantic was hued with turquoise and strips of fresh Hebridean seaweed waved dark beneath the water like seeping ink. So clear was the sky you would of seen figures over on Luskentrye had there been any. I held onto Bea tightly as she squealed at the clear ebbing and flowing tide at her feet and we ran against the crashing waves funnelling down our ears, grabbing towering poles of seaweed from the shore line. In an overly adventurous attempt to battle any worthy sea monsters or sleeping dragons disguised as lying mountains as we did. I searched for Jersey creamed shells and small pebbles, soft in my palms smoothed by the roaring ocean. Clinging to my child I pressed by face up against her cold cheek and watched as her brown hair tangled in the spring wind. Looking at my gran who in her trusty familiar coat, thrust her hands into her pocket and with a glinting eye asked ‘Would you like a mint imperial?’. It was a golden day.
When I decided to stay at home with my children I was naïve to the fact that not a lot of people did that in this day and age. It was a real eye opener and journey of discovery for me. Your name of mother comes instantly after birth but I think it takes a lot longer than that to become the mother your meant to be. Mother is a verb, its not just something you are its something you do and the celebration around that has been diluted and lost in the race we call the modern world. I used to be asked what I did all day or do I not get bored quite regularly and I’ll admit I went down a path during my journey where I was bored. My place was at home but I didn’t quite know where to sit. I couldn’t grasp routine and I was somewhat afraid to in case I became swallowed by the monster of the mundane. One of my biggest challenges and revelations as a mother was learning that routine and rhythm are two very different things. Routine is boring but rhythm is a wonderful fluid daily journey and our children need it. In a world where we cant be sure if the sun is setting or rising, we all need daily rhythms to celebrate and live by to bring consistency back into our existence. Its comforting its celebrating its enriching. Its what our heartbeats and families are made of. If we taught our children that their lives are magically enchanting maybe they would grow up believing so. It was only as we turned back for home as Bea clasped a small piece of this earths natural gold in her hand, that I knew in my heart the sun was rising behind me and with it the mother I was meant to be.
To the children and parents of Syria. Who’s sun is yet to rise.
‘I’ll tell you how the sun rose, one ribbon at a time’ -Emily Dickinson
You can now follow our adventures on YouTube! Find me under Island Wife Hebrides. Got Instagram? You can follow @islandwife_hebrides for daily filming of life in the Hebrides.