A trip to Clifton Suspension Bridge | Growing up too fast
I do wonder how much of this early life my young children will remember. All the unconditional love that is poured into them. All the sleepless nights worrying, the difficult times, the amazing times, the silliness, joy and laughter. I worry and feel sad about how fast they will grow and forget. I think my eldest is getting to an age now where she will remember, at least chunks of it. But I want to document some things, some meanderings, mundane or otherwise, for them (and me) to look back on and remember. I’ve intended to start writing “love letters to my children” for some time now, so I thought that joining and writing with the Artifact Motherhood blog circle could be the perfect way to make myself do this. So here goes my first…
A letter to my eldest…
A couple of weeks ago, during a rather rainy half term, when we were trying to think of cheap or free things to occupy you guys, we realised that we had never taken you to see the Clifton Suspension Bridge up close. It’s something I remember doing as a child. So one afternoon we all bundled into the car and headed over to Clifton in Bristol.
I love Bristol, it’s got an exciting feel about it that I just want to get more of every time I go (which is not often enough) and I want you to experience that too. Similar to how London feels. All the history, culture, creativity and just a feeling of a lot of exciting possibilities. Possibilities I want you to make the most of, as you grow up. I find it tricky sometimes, knowing how to give the 10 year old you all the experiences I want to, showing you what’s out there, whilst also looking after and satisfying your younger brother and sister at only 5 and 3 years old. It’s such a juggle being a mum or indeed a parent
So, after a couple of danger naps on the way to the bridge (not you, your brother and sister), we found somewhere to park on the far side of the bridge and had a wonder back across and through the edge of Clifton Village. Finding things to do that will equally please you all is always a balance, especially when it involves walking (we often wish we were one of those families whose kids happily do 10 mile hikes or 15 mile bikes rides but realistically, that will never be us!). Visiting the bridge turned out to be a good choice though, in the end. I think you’ll agree – you came round after a while: it wasn’t just “a boring trip, to a boring bridge” after all. While your sister happily pushed her dolly around in her pushchair and your brother ran about crazily as ever, you and I had a little photography walk – you’d asked before we left whether you could borrow one of my old cameras to take photos along the way. Of course, I happily agreed, all too keen to encourage an interest in photography and leaving the house(!), away from your screen, something you find comfort in, in an often overwhelming world.
And so, whilst Daddy mostly had the job of herding the younger two, we enjoyed some creative time together, capturing interesting shapes and landscapes, of and around Clifton Suspension bridge, up to the observatory, a short dip into the village, then back across the bridge to the car. It felt a little like a school project, but an enjoyable one. We had to have a slight detour whilst your sister strongly insisted on going back to find a particular stick she had noticed on the pavement, but in the end we returned to the car fairly happy after our trip out.
It is an interesting and challenging stage of life at the moment. The difference in ages of you all, right now. The various needs and emotions of you all, and the gap between you and the younger ones feels ever greater by the month. You seem to be on a steep growing-up curve recently. When we look back even just to the beginning of Lockdown, only around 2 years ago, and look at photos of you, you seem to have changed so much – from a young girl to a young woman in hardly any time at all. A real “Tween”. It really is true that life is something that passes you by, while you’re busy making other plans (based on a quote by one of Daddy’s favourites – John Lennon). I’m finding it all a little unnerving, but lovely at the same time. How can I be a parent to someone who feels more and more adult-like?
It’s the beginning of a new stage in your life. In our lives. I can see the woman you are becoming, yet still the girl you are. I hope you can bear with me over the coming years, whilst I work out how to support the different needs and emotions of you all – especially you: a young adult in training. For this moment in time though, during our trip to Clifton, I was just grateful that we both enjoyed each others company and found something fun and creative to do together. Looking back at the photographs, I feel like these thoughts were playing on my mind a little in my choices of when to press the shutter, but then that’s the beauty of documenting life and all its seasons, with photography. That’s a big reason why I often feel the need to reach for my camera: my answer to the fear of childhood slipping away.
All in all though, our little trip to Clifton Suspension Bridge was in fact, a fairly cheap and successful one – it only cost us a few cakes at the coop and a McDonald’s dinner on the way home. And I can’t complain about that.
Welcome to Artifact Motherhood. This is a collaboration of artists/mothers from around the world. Sharing stories of the joys and struggles of our journey. Our hopes and dreams for our children. With little nuggets of wisdom here and there. Through our writings and visual records we want to create memories that are more than photographs with dates written on the back. These are the artifacts we are leaving behind for our children and for generations to come.
Go next to the wonderful artist Abigail Fahayto read her post in our blog circle.
Rose Dedman is an award winning documentary family and wedding photographer working in Bath Bristol and beyond.