Entries by sandhya matthes

The last holiday as just the 3 of us

The last holiday as just the 3 of us.

A time to relish our little boy all for ourselves.

To have all our reserve of patience, just for him.

To watch him from afar, sunk happily in play.

Eyes ready to meet his gaze when he raises his to meet ours.

Arms free to welcome him.

Marveling at his increasing curiosity, independence and ingenuity.

Wondering at the words that suddenly form in his mouth, which often have only a meaning to us.

To recognise the baby in him when he suddenly cries.

To look on at him with tenderness as he soundly sleeps.

Unsure just how things will change, for him and for us.

2016

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A year of shock, terror and breaking apart.  Astonishment at the power of democracy to sway towards a world I do not want to know. Where war was at the forefront.
A year of adjustment and finding ourselves as a family. The right way to balance job and family is surely the hardest struggle for all no longer quite so new parents. I complain of no tragedies but many ups and downs.
But through all my grumble and grouse, my most cherished moments came surprisingly in the hectic of everyday life. Not sipping freshly pressed orange juice on the pebble beach of a quiet bay in Crete, not dipping into the sparkling blue waters of the Bayern lakes in the summer sun, not huddling around an outdoor fire with red wine and friends on a cool autumn evening in Tuscany. But my daily breakfast with the 2 most precious people in my world. Sometimes interrupted by tantrums, sometimes shortened by lie-ins (baby and husband are equally capable of this), sometimes surrounded in chaos. But always a moment of peace. Always a bubble of love. Always a source of strength before I face the world outside.

Brexit

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After the shock and disbelief of waking up to Brexit last week, I’m left with a mixture of feelings.

Disappointment, that the country I grew up in has chosen to take this direction. Because I never really thought it would come to this.

Stunned, that the democratic system can leave you feeling so wronged and cheated.

Dismay, when I read of the number of race-related hate attacks which have taken place since the vote. Because I really thought Great Britain was past this.

Dread, when I imagine what sort of a Europe my olive-skinned son will grow up in. Because I had the privilege of never feeling disadvantaged growing up in Britain and assumed the same would be true for him.

Vaguely unsettled, when I think of my status as a UK citizen living in Germany even though I know nothing has changed in my life or is likely to in the very near future.

Luck, that my own move to Germany almost 7 years ago was made so seamless through my status as a European citizen.

Incredulity at the shape of British politics and the slow rise of the right. 

Maybe it’s not all as bad or as dramatic as I imagine. But it certainly feels as if the wheels have been set in motion without anyone really knowing where the journey will take us. 

Boyhood

IMG_6315Having spent plenty of time pondering over the prospect of motherhood, I have given little thought to the other perspective – boyhood. And what a whirlwind that is.

At the end of Erik’s first birthday, we – the exhausted parents and grandparents – landed on the sofa to watch Richard Linklater’s ‚Boyhood‘. We couldn’t have picked a better time to watch this wonderful film.

A life of adventures on bicycles, sibling fights, adults and their constant advice and comments, emotional mothers, upheavals, disappointments, success and failure and a world getting bigger and bigger.

The film reminds you just how fleeting, painful and precious the passage of time is.

As our little one embarks on his boyhood, I pledge to celebrate the joy of all those everyday moments with him, and to take pleasure in his increasing independence as he takes his place in the world.

A year of love

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What can I say? It was the year of love.

Love that came so suddenly and enveloped our lives.

Love that softened me from all sides.

A ringside view of my husband falling just as instantly in love with our child.

A love that seems to grow with every strengthened muscle, each new expression and each turn of the head.

A love that looks on with wonder at the little feet clambering around, and which swells as a tired head seeks its rest against my chest.

Whatever challenges and sorrows in store ahead, it feels like there was enough love this year to last us a lifetime.

Merry Christmas 2015

And just like that, the advent time has come to an end. The neighborhood christmas market which has decorated my doorstep for the last 4 weeks closed its shutters for the last time last night and is packing up to leave this morning.

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The very last envelope of my advent calendar will be opened.

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And the last few Plätzchen will be eaten.

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My German friends will decorating Christmas trees and celebrating  later today and my family and friends in the UK will be eagerly awaiting Christmas morning. Whatever the differences in customs, a lot will be the same across the Channel. A time to sit back, a time to eat, a time for wintry walks, a time for party hats and silly jokes (in the UK anyway), a time for stories by candlelight, a time for old-fashioned games and above all, a time spent with loved ones.

However you are celebrating, Merry Christmas one and all.

A reminder of everyday life in the UK

People often ask me if I miss life in the UK. Well, it’s been such a long time since I had an everyday life there that I can barely answer that question.
But the last couple of trips to the UK have been just about that. No darting about from place to place, no string of parties and bbqs –  just quiet time spent mostly with family and the semblance of an everyday life. At least an everday life of someone on maternity leave.  Far from being dull, there were quite a few highlights:

  • Catching an early screening of the new James Bond (UK release date 1 week earlier than in Germany) and the pleasure of watching it in English (surprisingly, few cinema theatres in Germany show original language showings) and in the company of my dad and brother. It’s worth a watch!
  • Strolling through Birmingham’s busy city centre and becoming familiar with the new commercial face of its main station. And a rainy morning walk over to the hip jewellery quarter area. The city has changed a lot since I lived here 10 years ago. The cafe culture has boomed in the past few years with many independent cafes with lots of charm.

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  • Meeting British mums at a playgroup and getting an insight into the world of maternity leave in the UK.
  • A visit to a pub or two…and a portion of fish and chips or two.
  • Several visits to several parks later, my little niece and nephew – who I sadly don’t get to see as often as I would like – finally got used to me. Is there a nicer feeling than when a 2-year-old suddenly asks to hold your hand? 

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  • The wonderful christening celebration of our little man on a moody, wet, muddy and somewhat typically English autumnal weekend. The perfect family celebration to round up a lovely 2 week stay. 

6 months of Motherhood

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6 months. Of new life. Of a change in my life. Of life turned upside down, paused, fast-forwarded and full of meaning and wonder.

A time to look back on and celebrate but also a time to make plans for the period ahead. As my baby lies on my lap asleep, it’s hard to imagine a time when I will be happy to go back to work and not be with him all day. Presumably all mothers feel the same.

And as my little one learns the taste of things other than mother’s milk, as he squirms with frustration on the floor and as we sign the contract for his nursery place next year, I can’t help but feel that my little kite is preparing itself for flight. Whether I am ready or not.

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Mother, any distance greater than a single span

Mother, any distance greater than a single span
requires a second pair of hands.
You come to help me measure windows, pelmets, doors,
the acres of the walls, the prairies of the floors.

You at the zero-end, me with the spool of tape, recording
length, reporting metres, centimetres back to base, then leaving
up the stairs, the line still feeding out, unreeling
years between us. Anchor. Kite.

I space-walk through the empty bedrooms, climb
the ladder to the loft, to breaking point, where something
has to give;
two floors below your fingertips still pinch
the last one-hundredth of an inch…I reach
towards a hatch that opens on an endless sky
to fall or fly.

Simon Armitage

 

 

The summer of my life

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It was a new feeling: being proud of my adoptive home country. Germany’s response to the refugee crisis has been far more applaudable than that of the UK so far. Reading the positive opinion of the British press towards Germany made me feel strangely good.

All that may be about to change as news of Germany’s closed border to Austria came last night. And an increasingly uneasy feeling descends on Europe.


As it is, I sometimes feel as if I am living in a parallel world – in the so-called ‚maternity bubble‘. A world shrunk down to accommodate just me and my little family.

As Munich bathes in the last of the summer sun, I reflect on more than 3 months of continuous good weather, countless beer garden visits, walks by the lakes, bbq parties, mountain hikes, breakfasting on our tiny balcony, a spectacular wedding in France, a long stretch at home in England, some relaxing days amid the Tuscan hills and lots of time with the little boy in my life and his ever changing ways. Put another way – surely the best summer of my life.

Summer in the UK

Foto (29)I wrote about all the things I missed about the UK after a year long absence. And like a whirlwind, 4 wonderful weeks of summer days in England flew by.

In that time I relished all sorts of great British culinary highlights: fish and chips, several rounds of cream tea in quaint tearooms, picnics made up of pork pies and scotch eggs, a fresh corned beef sandwich at a coastal cafe, an afternoon sipping Pimms with friends and bacon sandwiches on a rainy afternoon.

Most of these cravings were I suspect more to do with the comforting feeling of being at home than a genuine love of, for example, pork pies.

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Equally, I found some time to travel, with wonderful day trips exploring the Cotswolds, countryside walks in the midlands and even a brief stop-over in the only so slightly rainy Somerset. This gave me a chance to take in the English countryside with a sense of appreciation which only comes upon moving away. Or perhaps upon growing up. Or a mixture of both.

Above all though, I had the chance to meet with friends and the newest, cutest members of their young families. And I got to spend a proper amount of time with my own family. And those are the memories I will cherish the most from one of the most special summers of my life.

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