Today I took my daughter to Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters. I have always been a fan of classic literature, with Austen and the Brontë’s being right up there with my favourite writers. In fact all of my children are named because of my love of literature; Eliza (as in Bennett, Pride and Prejudice), Finlay Austen (as in Jane) and now Freya Ellis Belle (for those of you that don’t know, Emily Brontë, author of one of the worlds most renowned classics Wuthering Heights, wrote under the name of Ellis Bell for a time). Of course I was indulging myself with this trip, but I thought that while I am on a quest to make special memories with Freya, memories that will wipe out the ones I have so far, what better place to start than in the place that my inspiration called her home. It was going to be a wonderful day out, and Freya would surprisingly love it too; she was going to share my love of literature as a result of this early exposure. Oh how we kid ourselves!
In reality, the day didn’t start very well. Having taken a look at the Brontë Parsonage Museum website last night I became aware that the quaint old village of Haworth wasn’t really built for my ultra-modern pram (or anything with wheels for that matter). The streets are cobbled, and the house itself has a steep staircase that renders it impossible to manoeuvre with any kind of vehicle. I needed a baby carrier and would have to try and get one before I set off on our road trip.
After I dropped my son off at school this morning, I drove to our local Mothercare. There were about 8 different types of baby carrier on the shelf and I set about making an informed and practical decision (otherwise known as picking the nicest colour). My eye was drawn to a sling type carrier in a fetching lilac. Having asked if I could try them on, I removed it from the box and tried it on. Hmm. I have no idea how a baby is meant to be carried in one of those things. I even took Freya out of the pram for a dummy run but daren’t let go of her once I had her in it. The member of staff didn’t seem to know much about how it should fit so I decided to give it a miss. Bored of being in her pram, and now particularly peed off that I’d taken her out and put her back in again, Freya started whinging. And then crying. And then screaming. I knew she was not in need of anything – she had not long had breakfast, and had a clean nappy on – so I continued to look at the other brands and styles on the shelf.
Now, I’ve never been very good with noise, particularly when I’m feeling a little anxious. And the more noise Freya made, the more anxious I became. I took another carrier out of the box but it looked like you would need a degree in engineering to work out how to get it on. I struggled for a bit, but the more I tried to read the instructions, the more Freya cried and my anxiety grew. I had such high hopes for our day and these minutes in Mothercare were minutes I couldn’t afford to lose with a 90 minute drive ahead of us. By the time a member of staff came to assist, I was in tears on the floor of the shop with open boxes around me, trying to make sense of the instructions. The lady was really sweet, and did her best to help me into the one I had chosen. Freya was still screeching. I was so embarrassed by my little meltdown that I just said I’d take it. I asked her to box it back up and take it to the counter while I took Freya to the baby room to change her and feed her. Cue stupid moment number 2 when I had to come out 2 minutes later having realised that I had left all our paraphernalia in the car not expecting to be in the shop for as long as I was.
Drama aside though, I don’t know how you are supposed to safely put a baby in a baby carrier by yourself, and I’m glad I didn’t just pick one up and walk out of the shop without trying it out first.
By 10:30 we were finally on our way, and although a little shaken by my emotional outburst in the baby shop, I began to look forward again to our little trip. I’d picked a nice day for it and the sun shining as we left. As we got closer to Haworth though, the heavens opened, and I couldn’t help but smile at how fitting the weather was as I drove over the Yorkshire Moors, picturing Cathy and Heathcliff running for the shelter of a tree.
The sat nav kindly sent me around the block a couple of times before I found the car park, but I found it and I got easily parked. I decided to get the pram out of the boot as I had an idea that the village wasn’t far and I’d get the chance to scope it out with the pram and come back to the car if I needed to. The Tourist Information office advised me to ditch the pram, even offering to let me leave it in their shop. I took it back to the car, got Freya into the carrier with surprising ease and walked back into the village.
I’ve been feeling quite tearful and overwhelmed by things these days, and today was no exception. I had tears in my eyes as I walked through the village, chatting to Freya held close against my chest. We arrived at the Parsonage Museum (which has its own car park, doh!) and went inside. The man on the door was lovely and chatted to us before we had a chance to move on. He thought that it was lovely that we had named Freya after Emily, and that I had taken her there specifically to make some memories. I walked slowly and thoughtfully around the house, taking everything in. I was particularly taken by the artefacts, especially the portable writing desks belonging to Charlotte and Emily with all their trinkets. Makes you feel closer to them somehow, which is strange because they died so long ago. One of the curators came over to speak to Freya and remarked that she was about the same age that Anne Brontë was when the family moved to Haworth, and said how nice it was to hear a baby in the house. She pointed to a room across the hall, labelled ‘Charlotte’s Room’ and said that Anne would have probably had that room when she was brought there and that it might be a nice place for me to look with Freya. It was in fact the room in which Charlotte Brontë passed away, and I felt an incredible sense of sadness as I stood looking at a painting of her above the fireplace. I stood there for while, Freya stared too. And as I rocked from side to side taking the picture in, Freya drifted off to sleep.
I finished off the tour, and bought a few things in the gift shop including a copy of Wuthering Heights which I planned to write an inscription in for Freya. I don’t know why my heart felt so heavy as we left. Moments like these with Freya are more special to me than any other moments in my life. I know that might sound bad because I have a husband and two other children; they are special to me too. But time with them tends to be moments of madness, of getting ready for school, of bedtime routines. I have become quite accustomed to just being with Freya. We are like two halves of a whole who are only truly content when we are linked together in some tender moment. She stares, so intently sometimes that I wonder if she can see into my soul. And I’m reminded of an earlier post, “cleansing the soul” that I wrote before all this, before KD.
I am hoping that the dark cloud that follows us whenever we are trying to make new memories is something temporary, a symbol reminding me of the trauma we have been through together. Perhaps when I’ve started to get some support with how I’m feeling that grey cloud will start to dissipate and we will be allowed to have sunny days without the threat of rain.