The yellow football swoops low - another kick and it sails up into the sky, accompanied by Sproglet's billowing laughter. Behind him my Father, his Grandpa, rushes up and scoops him into his arms, throwing him upside down, causing the Sproglet's giggles to bubble up - until he can hardly catch a breath.
I watch at the window, my heart in my stomach - moved more than I know how to say by watching these two play together. My son idolising his Grandpa - my Father, finally able to parent in a way he never could with me. Then my step Mother will offer to feed Sproglette and I'll barely get near my baby again that day as she tenderly bathes her and dries her and coos in wonder at my daughter. She can't get enough of her gummy smiles and delicious smell.
I am home. Back in the bosom of my family - a family that unites and divides me, that makes me feel whole and yet sends me running for the hills. The politics of the past seem buried - tired old stories that no one wants to revisit - and yet they are there - a scratch of the surface and they bleed.
And yet... Sproglet ran around with his cousins today (my Mum's ex common law husband's daughter's kids... follow if you can) - only popping in my would-be sister's home to ask for biscuits. And we sat - my would be sister and I - and talked as we watched our children bond, remembering how we were thrust together at the ages of 11 and 14. How through the messy murky years of her Father and my Mother's relationships, we fashioned our own sibling-esque bond that still is alive today. She threw a pizza in the oven and I supped tea and it all felt so easy - I had a small vision of how life could be - all the support and joy of my many families all together pitching in, helping me raise my brood.
Then I drove to the most glorious house I know - built out over the rocks and sea, to my Step Mother's daughter's house - where Sproglet is in awe of his step-cousins and they tear around the house rugby tacking each other and laughing until I think he'll be sick. The sun shines over the sea and the wind whips through our hair as we stand on the deck ad the view - the amazing view - calms me, until I feel I am utterly still. Then we have to go - rush on, rush on, more people to see, more tea to be drunk. No time...
And there is my Mum's ex - and he holds my daughter for the first time and Sproglet uses his Daddy's i-phone to take the most gorgeous picture of them both - and then we are out the door again - cramming more people in, trying to touch base with everyone before we fly home. A week in Ireland is never enough. I feel we've only just arrived, they have only just met my new addition. I wish for somehow my life to involve these folk all the more - that they were around all the time to care for my family in my childhood stomping grounds. Every time I drive past my old school my heart swells and I'm back there - art folder dragging in my wake, woollen tights itching my thighs, tie pulled loosely around my neck.
Home is so bitter sweet. The grey days and piercing sunshine across the coast. The rock pools and the freezing rain. The hearty meals with the cheap price tags. The never ending Irish good humour no matter what comes in our way. My dysfunctional, emotional, splintered family - laying their ghosts to rest as they embrace my children. Could I live here again I ask myself? My heart yearns but my head says no. I don't know. All I know is I hugged my Father goodbye tonight and hid from him my tears. Sproglet asked why I was crying and for once I had no answers.